I was raised (loosely) as a Roman Catholic. I went to a Catholic comprehensive school in London on the weekdays and church on Sundays. Well, most Sundays. One time I snuck away with my brother and we bought comic books with the collection money. That was more fun than church! But over time I have become an atheist. As I grow older and spend more time thinking about life, I cannot bring myself to stay religious. The more I think about it, the less I am able to buy into believing something without evidence. I am a scientist at heart. Moreover, there are some aspects of the bible and religion that I believe are harmful. For example, threatening people with hell to make them behave in a certain way. There are many other things.
I walked away from religion. However, I can see how absolutely necessary it must be for some people to have religion in their lives. Having given up on religion myself I have moments of doubt about my choice because I think life could have been a bit easier if I was still religious. Here are some of the reasons:
1. If there is no God then what is the purpose and meaning of life? Anyone who ponders this question and has no religion is left with a huge question mark. I personally spend some time every day wondering about this. If you are religious, tada! this question is answered for you.
2. If there is no God, what happens to me when I die? It is daunting and unpleasant to think about this question, and imagine oneself underground, or being burnt in a furnace, with NOTHING afterwards. You will never get to see your loved ones again. How much nicer it is to believe that they will all be waiting for you in heaven. Or that you will have a bevy of attractive virgins, or attain Nirvana. (Well, now that I think about it, maybe having to deal with those virgins could be trouble...)
3. If you are religious you have an instant social network through your Church. Without church you may have to work harder to find friends. Loneliness is a bitch.
4. If you don't have a religion, you are completely responsible for your own life. There is no such thing as "leaving it up to God". If something bad happens (e.g. you lose your job), there is no-one to turn to but yourself. That can be a lot to handle. How much easier it is to trust God to do the driving! God will provide.
5. You are responsible for your moral choices and you must live with your conscience forever afterwards. There is no such thing as going to confession and being completely forgiven. I would love to have all my sins forgiven. But it's just not an option for me.
Despite all of these disadvantages, I have no choice but to be an atheist. I simply don't believe in any God, or Gods. But I do understand why many others are religious and I do not hold it against them (well, unless my rights are compromised...). It is more difficult for me now that I know that I am "alone" in the universe, than before when I was a believer.
Time for the "quote of the day":
The most spiritually splendid American phenomenon of my lifetime is how African-American
citizens have maintained their dignity and self-respect, despite their having been treated
by white Americans, both in and out of government, and simply because of their skin color, as
though they were contemptible and loathsome, and even diseased.
Take care of each other,