As a devoutly religious person finding increased meaning in life as an atheist was not something I could have even imagined, nor anticipated. Or for that matter desired by me at the time either.
It did come as a massive surprise that once my religious faith was gone my new perspective gave me a tremendous sense of connection with humanity like I’d never experienced as a Mormon. I felt more compassion, & more empathy with people than I’d ever experienced before in my life. And I thought I was a compassionate man before. I personally stopped judging others & became more accepting of everyone as individuals, and again I had not thought of myself as judgemental in the slightest before.
Being an agnostic atheist, secular humanist & scientific naturalist, and striving to become an actualist, has transformed the way I perceive the world, life & everyone in it in ways I could never have believed had I not experienced it myself.
I have more optimism for humanity, more joy in my relationships, and I feel a greater sense of urgency to live my life to the full.
This life has gained added value. It seems to mean more to me. Everything seems to mean more without the superimposition of a belief in life after death.
Since realising there probably is no personal God I feel that my life actually has more intrinsic meaning.
I surprisingly feel more excitement for life. More awe & wonder at the beauty of the universe. My curiosity about the laws of the Cosmos have intensified beyond belief.
And I cherish this ‘one life’ that I know I have more than ever before.
The potential for each human life feels more special.
I am truly shocked by these changes in feeling, but realise that some things which I had attributed to coming from God are actually intrinsic in my humanity & arise from my evolution.
I have always liked Stephen Covey’s moto of, “Live, Love, Learn & Leave a Legacy”, & it now seems more meaningful in my life than when I felt my ‘purpose of life’ was imposed on me by a Divine Creator.
Please, don’t feel that my personal experience of the way my life view has evolved is in anyway a criticism of your personal life view. It’s just my observations of what it has been like for me to transition from being a stalwart faith believer to becoming a secular humanist.
Having spoken to many others who are ex-Mormon, & in fact formerly religious people from many other faith traditions, I find I am not unique in this experience.
Having said all that, I now feel that religious belief in an afterlife can be detrimental to the human condition & to the progress of humanity as a whole.
I guess for many people this one life does not have the opportunities we have. Or the relative ease & peace of living in a modern industrialised country. Our life experience is vastly different from many who are born into poverty, or born into a criminal lifestyle.
We all have a life based on chance, choice & consequence. Often not as a result of our choices, but for most it’s other people’s choices which affect us, even our parents.
I just don’t accept there is any compelling evidence for there being any other existence for us besides this one. It may not be fair, or just. It just is.
As a secular humanist I believe very strongly it is our duty to help improve the lives of every single human being on this planet. To do our best to enhance the human condition so that everyone has the optimum conditions to thrive as a person. So everyone gets to choose their own life experience with the best opportunities for developing their talents and skills.
I think it is beholden on us to work towards this goal.
Belief in an afterlife is at best a distraction, at worst an excuse to squander it on preparing for a fantasy which might never happen.
So much time, thought, effort & money is spent on preparing for something which is just based on a hope.
I have no concern about receiving eternal blessings from a god, or avoiding his eternal punishments either. I think that if there is a god he would prefer we concentrate on this one life we’re living right now and on improving the life experience of all the inhabitants of this planet.
Any time we focus on an afterlife at the expense of this one we’re living right now we’re reducing our effectiveness in mortality.
Any belief system which idolises the afterlife is distorting our priorities. Some people would rather they or their loved ones died rather than change their beliefs. It is sickly tragic when religious beliefs are held in higher esteem than human life, but it happens far too often. It happens in many religions.
Atheism, I now realise, is not the great bogey man of non-belief that I’d been led to believe. But actually the default position of humanity & allows us to develop our best attributes without the expectations of future promised blessings or punishments by God.