This is a guest post by Sheldon Cooper, who can be found at his blog, Ramblings of Sheldon. I hope you'll take a few seconds to visit his blog. Thanks goes out to Sheldon for taking the time to type up this guest post.
I recently read Canadian Atheist’s post titled Is Atheism Both True and Terrible?, where he responded to a writer that felt that atheism was probably correct in it’s conclusions, but was a very depressing point of view, the writer felt that atheism strips away all human dignity, and leads to a sense of emptiness, a feeling that there is nothing left to live for.
Well, I’ve had that feeling that there’s nothing left to live for, I’ve even been suicidal at one point in my life, but it wasn’t because of atheism (in fact, during the period in my life when I was suicidal, I was actually a fundamentalist Christian). You see, I have had depression since I was about 9 years old (yes, seriously), and it’s been a constant fight against it that I am now winning, thanks to my anti-depressants.
My past unhappiness in life had nothing to do with atheism, in fact, my depression has been better since I finally admitted to myself what I am, an agnostic. When I finally found the courage to admit to myself that I could no longer hold onto my past Christian beliefs, it was a relief. I could finally be honest with myself about who I am, and let go of all the painful doubts, and struggles to make sense out of what I believed.
It freed me to look at the world around me, and its beauty, no longer believing that there’s an afterlife doesn’t take away hope and purpose for living for me (though I can understand the appeal of such a belief, and how it brings comfort to some people).
It’s freed me to try to be able to enjoy (when my depression doesn’t get in the way) the simple pleasures of life, like good food, and the joy I see in my dog, (a jolly 5 year old Black Lab/hound mix) when I come home after work. He runs in circles, and bounces around the room, wagging his tail when the door to his crate comes open. The pure joy in his expression, the eagerness to see me never ceases to give me a good laugh.
I have a sense of awe when I’m out in the woodlands of Missouri, looking at the wildlife, the dense oak forests, and the night sky that I often can’t see in the St. Louis suburbs. Just simply seeing stars clearly enough to easily identify them is a nice experience. Contrary to what Oprah seems to believe, atheists and other non-religious people can have a sense of awe and wonder about the world around them.
Atheism doesn’t cause unhappiness and an empty feeling inside, it’s what it is happening inside a person’s mind, and what is going on around them. If someone is feeling this way, they need to look at what needs to change in their life, or find out if it’s due to untreated mental illness, and not blame atheism.