Charlie's Blog: The Upsides and Downsides of Atheism


The Upsides and Downsides of Atheism

But I am very poorly today & very stupid & I hate everybody & everything. One lives only to make blunders.

Christians and atheists have debated and continue to debate the existence of God. They use an assortment of philosophical arguments and scientific evidence. Yet, precious few actually describe their fundamental personal reasons for either believing or disbelieving in God. I have been both a believer, an unbeliever, and a believer again. Because of this, I understand fully why someone would choose to believe or not to believe in God. I am not sure that others have this same understanding of the full consequences of those beliefs. Here are the upsides and downsides of not believing in God.


1. Ceasing to be angry at God.

The first and most obvious benefit of losing a belief in God is that you stop being angry at Him for allowing all of the evil and suffering in the world. Many atheists begin to lose their faith over this precise issue, and they cannot live with the torment of a just and loving God who is all powerful allowing so much bad stuff to happen. They prefer to believe in a world of luck that can either be good or bad. No one gets angry with luck. That is just how the game goes.

It is painful and traumatic trying to discern a reason for why things happen the way they do. This pain vanishes when you abandon belief in God. You attain a measure of numbness and indifference, and you get back the time, the mental energy, and the emotional energy spent trying to make sense of all the senseless suffering.

2. Losing the fear of death and Hell.

Losing a belief in God entails also losing a belief in the supernatural, the soul, and life after death. Essentially, the atheist is a material being living in a material universe. His consciousness is simply the byproduct of material processes which cease at death. For the atheist, he will return to the same state he was in before he was born which is nothingness. His atoms and molecules will go on, but his consciousness will not. The upside of this dismal view of life is that it negates spending an eternity in Hell. Death goes from something to be feared to a source of escape from the suffering in this world. This is why atheists are so fond of suicide, euthanasia, contraception, and abortion.

3. Losing a sense of guilt.

If there is no God and no Hell, there is also no judgment for the things we have done. You may feel some lingering regrets over the family you killed while driving under the influence. But you can dismiss bad feelings over sleeping in on Sundays or lying to your boss about being sick or cheating on your spouse and getting away with it.

4. Gaining the freedom to live as you please.

Being an atheist allows you the freedom to choose your own set of values in life and to live according to those values. Things like being a responsible adult or tending to family obligations can take a backseat to exploration and self-discovery which often means the use of mind damaging drugs and alternative forms of sexual depravity.


1. The loss of meaning and purpose in existence.

When you become an atheist, the meaning and purpose of life that religion provides vanishes. It's like being on a ship that has lost its map and compass. The ship can still sail, but the direction of the voyage becomes unknown. You get to pick any point on the horizon with no idea of where you will end up. This turns the trip from a voyage to mere motion on the water. Without a fixed destination, no direction ultimately matters.

Jean-Paul Sartre and others like him described this loss of meaning and purpose as the "absurd." Life becomes reduced to the material. Higher values are purely personal and become mere matters of taste and custom. This gives us the freedom of choice but also the issue of regret. How do we know that we have chosen well? We don't. Even that question becomes meaningless.

2. The loss of aesthetic enjoyment.

When life has lost its purpose and meaning, things like art, music, and literature also lose their meaning. Music becomes mere tones. Art is just paint splattered on a canvas. A movie is just flickering images on a screen. This is something Charles Darwin encountered in his later years.
I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.
Some atheists will argue that Darwin merely became too analytical because of his scientific studies which tends to favor one side of the brain over the other. But I think his atheism produced this loss of aesthetic enjoyment. Darwin goes on to write,
The loss of these tastes [for poetry and music] is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.
Mere habit can be amended, so why not regain what was lost? But without God, everything including nature loses its dimension of awe and wonder. When I was an atheist, I called this "the flattening effect." It is like drinking soda pop that has lost its fizz.

This loss also extends to personal relationships especially in the romantic area. Love gets reduced to mere chemical reactions in the brain. The result is that a significant other is tolerated until they become boring at some point later. Loving relationships lose their endurance.

The loss of aesthetic enjoyment brings with it a desire for things that shock. Music becomes louder and noisier. Art becomes more obscene and blasphemous. Movies become pornographic and violent. Relationships become sexually depraved. This madness is pursued not to feel something good but merely just to feel something at all.

3. The loss of moral sensibility and reason.

Without God, the ability to make moral distinctions and decisions becomes damaged and lost. A great example of this would be the way the atheist Peter Singer will justify infanticide while decrying the slaughter of a pig for food. Issues of justice become matters of personal opinion, and the atheist discovers the deficiency of this moral relativism when he discovers himself to be  the victim of someone else's difference of opinion.

Reason itself becomes impossible as terms such as "justice" and "rights" become deconstructed from their meanings. This meaningless becomes madness on a personal level leading to becoming a monster. It also leads to madness on a social and political level as demonstrated in the atrocities of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. Atheism is fundamentally a death cult of moral relativism.

4. The loss of hope.

If death is truly the end, why bother loving others or having children? They will all end up in the grave with you. Nothing you say or do matters beyond this temporal existence which has no meaning anyway. Life goes from a wondrous consequence of chance to becoming a sick joke that should have never happened. The universe produced beings that attained the consciousness of their own mortality and the futility of their own existence. At least cows are clueless about the fact that they are fated to become steaks and hamburgers.

5. The impossibility of happiness.

I have never met a happy atheist. Without God, life loses all transcendant value and meaning. Reduced to material existence, life becomes the temporary satisfaction of the body accompanied by a great deal of anxiety, psychological dread, and emptiness. Happiness in this world of atheism boils down to being truly ignorant of existence and to the hedonistic pursuit of food. alcohol, drugs, and the satisfaction of one's genitals before the ultimate end in death. On this basis, the happiest person is the heroin addict who dies from a blissful and fatal overdose.

The atheist may be right about God not existing, but he will never experience the vindication of being right. This would require being conscious after death. Both the atheist and the Christian will die never knowing if they were right or wrong about God's existence if God does not exist. But if God does exist, the atheist gets to spend eternity regretting the error. That possibility demands that the atheist get this absolutely right which is why atheists expend such considerable energy trying to disprove God's existence and debating with Christians. This amounts to trying to reassure oneself that Hell does not await.

Atheists of an existential bent try to overcome the downsides of their position by trying to find meaning and happiness on the temporal plane of existence. As far as I can tell, none of them have satisfactorily achieved these aims.  People who believe in God exhibit more morality, rationality, hope, and happiness than their atheist peers. And believers also endure their trials with greater equanimity than atheists who either numb themselves or opt for suicide.

From personal experience, I can say that the only thing that brought me happiness as an atheist was throwing myself into work and activities in order to not think about things and to forget my misery. I still enjoy these things as a believer but without the misery. If the goal of life is happiness, atheism will not deliver on this goal.