Atheism as I see it, a life without religion, is most definitely a choice. Here is a simple metaphor to help explain how I made the decision myself.
We are all currently on this path of ‘Life’. At some point, each of us came across a fork in the road, called Religion. We were faced with two roads, the Religious Road……and the non-religious road. You remember, next to each road was a sign with a description. This is true for everyone. The difference is how we see them.
Being Raised as A Catholic
I was raised in a Catholic family, and for the first 16 years of my life ( today I’m 19 ) I attended church regularly. When I first came to these roads I was young, but I remember it pretty well. I looked at the description of the Religious Path. It was so big and shiny. The letters were gold, and the words they made up weren’t even important. I looked past the sign to the horizon. There were birds singing the most wonderful songs. There were people dancing in the fields of flowers. It was beautiful. Not just the scenery, but the promise that in the end, everything could be as perfect as I wanted it to be.
I was so mesmerized that I forgot there was another path, and I took off running to join all of the other happy people. I never saw that ‘other’ path for myself, but I heard people talk about it. How it was so dark and lonely. I didn’t want to think about it, and I just couldn’t imagine what kind of person would actually navigate it.
Well as I got older my thoughts became more complex. By the time I reached my mid-teens, I started to really wonder if I had made the right choice all those years ago.
I finally decided to go back, after all, I never even looked at that ‘other’ road. Upon arrival, the first thing I noticed was that the sign for the Religious Road – the road I had been traveling on all these years – had changed. I saw all of the same promises, but it was no longer big and shiny. Just a plain old wooden sign. Without the chrome finish and gold lettering, the promises seemed just as cheap as the wood they were carved in.
So I looked at the ‘other’ sign. The one next to the path of no religion. It too looked very plain, but it was different. The wording on the ‘Religion’ sign is, well…..lengthy. It’s not just the promises, there are so many rules and guidelines as well. On this one, there was only one word, ‘Proceed’.
Live purely and simply
I was confused at first, I thought to myself, “That’s it?”. Then I realized it fully. Proceed without cheap promises. Proceed without limitations. Proceed with your life, as it was meant to be lived. Not in fear of gods, not as if it is some assessment for what happens to us after we die. But as it is life, purely and simply.
One word said so much, perhaps it’s my ability to think a little deeper than most. On the religious road, I wasn’t even allowed to use that much brainpower. They tried to manufacture my thoughts, telling me what is right and wrong. Now free of this path, I realized I had my own tool for deciding what was right and wrong. Its called common sense, and yet it is not so common where I came from.
It’s a fear that bred religion. Fear of what we can’t understand fills the churches every Sunday.
If you take the religious road than you are choosing to counter this fear. You believe that you know exactly what will happen to you when you die, even though you’ve never died before, and everyone who has is unable to share their experience. You believe in an afterlife which is better than your current life. Maybe that’s because it makes death easier to cope with, or perhaps because an eternal life like the one you already have would not be worth living.
A life free from religion
Those of us who live life free of religion actually have to deal with these fears. It’s not as if we aren’t afraid of the unknown. We just choose not to let that interfere with our life. We see this as the only life we have so we try to make it as full and meaningful as we can.
Those who conform to religion could never have this because they essentially live their whole lives just to die. They believe this life is nothing but a stepping stone. They believe that death is the beginning of their “real life”. Which makes sense, you would be lucky to live 80 years or so on Earth. When compared to eternity, that seems meaningless.
So rather than spending my whole life trying to make sure I’m happy after I die, I decided to just live.
But hey, that’s just my choice.