I wish there was a church for atheists.
Yeeeaaaahh, that’s going to need some explaining:
I see church as a place of fellowship and a place to concentrate on values and good works. Being among like-minded people is nothing but positive and can only re-energize those who are stressed or confused. For the rest, it is just plain re-affirming.
This is a weekly comfort that we atheists deny ourselves (I chose my words carefully there because I am certain any church would welcome us).
It is not that I want to be an atheist, as I really do not like dwelling on the fact that there is nothingness waiting for me after this life … although there was nothingness before this life and it didn’t bother me much.
I stopped believing in God the day I stopped believing in Santa Claus et al. My parents didn’t do any better with the Birds & Bees talk, but that is another batch of issues.
Suffice it to say I know what I am missing and, so, I never get into debates about the existence of a supreme being because that is not an argument I want to win. I can’t think of a worse thing to do to someone.
And, so, I see my neighbours driving off to church on Sunday mornings and I know they will be washed in great oratory that challenges them to be better people. They will sit shoulder-to-shoulder with people who face today’s challenges with the same noble approach in mind.
It is that pre-set moral code that religion offers – a template if you will — that takes half of the work away from its followers. The balance is better left to the devotion of studying that moral code and applying it. Atheists are really just making it up as we go along.
I am lucky that I had good parents who gave me praise when I made good decisions, let me know it when I made bad ones and had the strength to just sit back and watch me struggle with those that would ultimately fall right down the middle.
Instead of asking myself, “What would Jesus do?” I ask, “What would make my parents proud?”
This is a good start, but not having an ongoing moral checklist or point of reference (other than staying out of jail) I really am just winging it.
That, for those of you who have had the patience to stay with me here, is why I hope there would one day be a church for atheists.
It would be cool to listen to the best among us explain how they make these difficult decisions in an ever-changing world; I would like to hear others testify to the satisfaction of turning a good deed; and I would like for all of us to pledge not to cut each other off in traffic or allow our dogs to defecate on each others yards.
The devout have this air of serenity of which I am jealous. Do they “know” there is a God? No, they have something better: they have “faith” there is a God. It is this exercise that gives them this serenity.
Likewise in this Church of the Self – which I have just now coined – we will not “know” exactly how a responsible member of society should behave, instead we will forever “seek” proper behaviour. And that shall give us serenity.