I've had thoughts on why many cling on to religion, even after constant debunking and debating. I think I may have a possible reason why some do not give them up.
Most religions all have some system of an afterlife. People practicing the religion believe that, if they follow their specific book and appease to their specific God, they get to go to a magical place where nothing bad happens and they get to live out their wishes and desires that were either impossible in their mortal life, or there life was too short to live it.
When someone suddenly suggests that such a concept does not exist, the believer becomes defensive. Death is a bitter result of life. We dread the day we where we breathe our last breath, or if our life was suddenly cut short. To us, the concept of an after-life is comforting, a God protecting us like a Dad telling his son everything is going to be alright, even though he knows the bitter end is near.
I think, while not the sole reason for many that hold on to their faith, a denial of a mortal death being a permanent death is what keeps them from swallowing the bitter pill of reality that life is not fair, and that shit happens and you may not get to do everything in life or you could drop dead the very next day.
I was born in Mississippi, and raised Baptist, although, my family was mostly lazy Christians who only went to church on around the Holidays. I had the hope as a small child to go to Heaven and be with Angels and no kids there would ever be mean to me again. The thought that I couldn't have any of that would probably have scared me back then.
I came to realize that it's for the best that there is no afterlife. Imagine what exactly you would be doing in an afterlife. As the eternity went on, you would grow tired of the same mundane things. Would you truly want to spend your mortal life appeasing some God, only so you can appease him the rest of your life? I can't think of anything else that would be so...well, boring.
In a way, I feel more confident in this life. It won't be okay if I skip out on opportunities, because I may not get the chance again. This is my one shot, and I don't want to blow it on wishful thinking.
How about you? If you were once religious and now Atheist, how did you overcome the hurdle of accepting there is no afterlife? Or, do you not believe in an afterlife, but in some way, wish/hope there is one? Has any of this changed your perspective on how you live your life than how you lived your life beforehand?
The concept of no afterlife, for me, was just accepted with no real struggle. I grew to learn that things are the way they are, and to enjoy the days that I have my eyes open to see the beautiful universe we live in! While I was a Christian I was worried about every single time I'd sin and how I'd be forgiven. As humans we know what is right and wrong by what we feel. It's how the golden/platinum rules are able to exist. I was scared to death every time I slipped and fell into temptation. Then I read my entire Bible and saw how much evil was done by the men in those stories and that didn't line up for me. I live my life, not worry about the right and wrong described in the bible but my perspective has changed and now I don't do what is morally wrong and am a nicer and more helpful person to all. This is a great post I wish I could relate!
I was once religious but, try as I might, I never could make the leap of faith required to believe in impossible things. I really wanted to have faith and joined Christian youth groups and read the Bible a lot. But I never got further than the brink of faith.
I never had to give up on the hope of heaven because I really never embraced it to begin with. Besides, I've never had a dread of death. Sure, if somebody pointed a gun in my face, I'd be very afraid of dying. But I've never experienced any kind of strong emotion or foreboding concerning my own mortality. Maybe because I had seen dead animals when I was a child and knew they were gone forever. Maybe because I was raised in a violent family and ran away from home 3 times before 5th grade -- maybe life didn't seem so valuable and I was too jaded to entertain fantasies of heaven.
I thought religion would give me the strength to be the man I should be. But it just made things worse. Friends noticed that I got judgmental and shut-off after focusing on the Bible. I realized they were right.
Surrendering superstition was a slow trial by fire. There were times so dark, I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy: times when I feared for my own sanity.
That was about 30 some-odd years ago. I emerged from my trial by fire with a strong distaste for organized religion and a compelling curiosity to know more about the nature of things. I forsook all books of fiction and focused on physics, cosmology, history, anthropology, psychology, Greek mythology and whatever piqued my interest at the time. I was an agnostic for a decade or so before owning the title of atheist.
As I left religion behind, my life changed. So many reasons for waking up in the morning! The days just weren't long enough. I enjoyed living. I enjoyed a successful career. I watched my kids grow up and start their own families. Fortune smiled on me (except for that divorce part). I went after what I wanted and found that, win or lose, everything always seemed to work out for the best (even the divorce part).
I once thought religion would give me the good life and save my soul. How could I have been so deluded?
I also actually wanted to be religious - ignorance really is bliss.... but how on earth can people really believe that BS... it was so hard to suspend logic...
Then many years later I got into yoga and the "spiritual" side bit me.... and again... too many voices in my head saying "everything eventually has a scientific explanation or is BS"...
I have to admit, I was happier when I was not so angry at the millions of lying voices.
Hmmmm . . . I wonder how many atheists TRIED but failed to buy into faith. It might be some sort of genetic thing that prevents faith.
Ever hear of the God Module?
Just had a read. I wonder.
I think anyone that has been alone and unhappy has wanted some sort of easy way out (cue religion), but it just doesn't stick to some of us.
I just noticed: BS is the alpha and omega of BlisS.
Afterlife - beforelife - same thing.
It was never pushed on me through childhood - maybe that's the main reason I never believed it. However, the idea that we will see our dearly beloved in a divine playground is a comforting belief. I can understand how one could believe this into adulthood; as the emotional blackmail of fear and reward is instilled through a childhood of indoctrination. The need to believe is hard to shake of. But since there is absolutely no evidence for it we can dismiss it as nonsense.
When you argue with a religious person, you are just giving him/her a chance to prove how strong his faith is. Faith is strongest when it stands totally without intellectual support. Don't you get it?!
That's true in theory, Unseen, but in practice they crave evidence and logic. They'll say the most ridiculous things to give the illusion of evidence or logic. Poor things . . . if only they had one piece of evidence or a single valid argument, they wouldn't have to pretend so much.