Not many people convert to nonbeliever.

Hero4thought wrote a very interesting post about the differences between believers and nonbelievers.  And it got me thinking about why rejecting the idea of a deity is so hard, despite there being no real concrete reason to accept that one exists.

Having been a born again christian and finally wandering my way to nonbeliever, I think people choose religion because it’s comfort.

Its the comfort of feeling like something large and important is somehow going to make it all work out in the end. There’s a plan, life is not just pointless.

Its the comfort that you can reach out in fear to something stronger than you. This feels very important when your life is spiraling out of control.

Its the comfort that you at least pray to the deity in charge when there is nothing you can do. This beats the crap out of sitting helpless next to a hospital bed.

Its the comfort of simple answers and directions instead of complex variable and vague options. Its easy to understand the directions in religious text – do this, don’t do that, this is how things work… Compare that to philosophy, physics and evolution.

Its the comfort of being part of a defined group that shares your values and ideas. Very few groups provide the cohesive structure and support that religions offer. Its nice to belong.

Its the comfort of not having to think about a thing because the answer has already been provided for you and you are not encouraged to think, just reference the answer. And to be honest, our entire school system is supporting this habit.

Its the comfort of having your existence continue even after death. It took me a while to get used to the idea that I would no longer exist. Even the knowledge that I wouldn’t be aware of my nonexistence didn’t stop me from feeling uncomfortable about it.

Humans prefer comfort and simplicity. Nonbelief is not a big fluffy mental comforter, it will occasionally makes me feel like I am naked and alone and confused.  ea1e3a3d5af24ed64b409c82a9f78f82

It also makes me feel like I have discovered new lands, seen new wonders, stood up in maelstrom of uncontrollable forces and not just survived it, but learned its nature and rode it to new places.  Being a nonbeliever mostly makes me feel stronger than the believer.

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11 thoughts on “Not many people convert to nonbeliever.

  1. Good post. There is an interesting data point in the success of AA in helping alcoholics recover. The data showed that folks who believed in a higher being tended to have a better recovery rate. The comment was made not in a way that some higher being helped, but the belief, in and of itself, helped give the recovering alcoholics a foundation. I was thinking of this when I reached your conclusion.

    Yet, I would take it one step further. To me, the belief could be more than religion, it could be a spiritual connection with the environment in which we live. Native Americans did not know they were missing religion and seemed to flourish long before the Europeans arrived.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess it makes sense that those with a religious belief in a higher power are more successful at AA, since its entire foundation is based on it.

      I have always thought the 12 steps have taken Christianity and drilled it down into its essence. Its a how to guide on being a good Christian. I think many churches would improve if they structured their working faith around the 12 steps.

      I thought most Native American’s had their own religions and deities. Is this not so?

      Like

  2. I swore to myself I would stay out of this one, and, believe me, I accept one hundred percent what you say. And admire you for the amount of honesty and thinking that went into it. And even more so, as I also worked for just under twenty years for the church, and had to watch my husband being attacked as a non-christian for not joining a church council so they would have one more academic title than a neighboring church. I also went through the weight thing, at a time when I was handling two jobs and a family health crisis. The church told me I had to lose weight, and get funnier, or lose my job. Nevertheless, I believe. not because it is easier, or more comforting, but because something in me says do it, and I see nothing outside of my belief that has filled the gap. There is good in all things. If you follow it, you will decide for yourself what is right. For you. Love your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think belief in God is such a personal journey. No one else can live your life or experience you. So if belief in God is important to you, I personally have no issues with it. `

      I think the comfort idea became very clear to me after I left my belief behind. That was when lack of belief became a barrier to reaching for the comfort of God in all the times I used to do it reflexively. Everything from my need to send a quick thought to God for a person in the passing ambulance, to the feeling of helplessness I experienced when my mom was dying in terrible pain. There is no place in my head where those things fit now and they bang around feeling out of place, having no place to perch.

      Perhaps I’m experiencing the gap you see won’t be filled without God.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. After a rather public denouncement of Christianity that I made in June of 2014 one of my Christian friends said, “Thanks for sharing, Kalvin, takes guts!” It certainly does too, because another part of this puzzle is that many Christians do experience plaguing doubts within their lives but they conclude that such doubt is unfounded or inappropriate to entertain. It is unfounded, I think, because the Bible itself discourages skepticism. It also warns rather harshly against apostasy and unbelief. Then there is the rather powerful ties that people have with their other family members in the church, their circle of friends, their Pastoral authorities. Religion is a deeply rooted phenomenon within our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – keeping inside the church community will stop you from thinking to hard about the cognitive dissonance of it all. Because the church is constantly re-iterating that any questioning is a lack of faith. It makes you feel like you are a bad person just to have a question or doubt.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that’s where I got a lot of my comfort was from Christianity and the belief in something worthwhile at the end of life. As an agnostic I’m having a hard time letting go of that comfort and am really trying to stand on my own two feet and be that strong non-believer you mentioned. It’s hard to let go of that idea and part of me still thinks there may be a purpose in life. It’s hard to say.

    Great post btw. I loved the way you handled it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was such a timely read. And I did give myself a mental slap for not having read it sooner…given that I do follow your blog.
    I was recently at a party and I was asked to pray for the food before we started eating,to which I responded-I don’t pray,sorry. Being in very religious country,this was met by some stares,long bout of silence,and questions that I have had to answer many times before. About an hour ago,my neighbor who had thrown the party knocked on my door to have a chat. All the questions she asked I had heard before. She did keep asking one that was new-how do you cope with the dark times? See,if I had already read this,the answer would have come a lot sooner. After fumbling with the right words I settled for the simplest truth…I got stronger.

    Sorry this is long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh My. How Awkward.

      Its hard when people think that the lack of belief is a hole rather than intellectual strength.

      I get a lot of “you hurt my heart.” or “I’ll pray for you.” as though I have revealed that I am dying of a dread disease.

      My response is always an upbeat one – don’t worry about me – I’m not suffering.

      Liked by 1 person

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