Myths about atheism: Atheists are just angry at God

This is another myth I have both heard and read: The reason atheists don’t believe is that they are angry with God. Something bad must have happened that caused them to turn away from him.

Not true—at least not for this atheist, nor any atheist I know personally. If I’m wrong and there is a god (and I’m not ruling out that possibility; see my article on atheism and agnosticism), no one has less reason to be angry with Him (or Her) than me.

Why would I be angry at God? I have a wife who I love and respect, and who loves and respects me. I have two great children who are flourishing into wonderful adults. I have the job of my dreams, one that has enabled me to see parts of the country and the world I might never have been able to afford to visit on my own. I live in a breathtakingly beautiful state where it never snows, it rarely rains, and the temperature hardly ever drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

If I were a religious person, I’d say I was blessed.

I’m sure my believing friends will cite my good fortune as proof of a benevolent God shining His favor upon me. But I don’t think that’s the case.

The way I see it, I could have had a very different life. In order to say yes to a second date with Robin, the woman who would become my wife, I said no to a first date with someone else. What might have happened had made a different decision? Maybe nothing—maybe my relationship with Robin would have progressed just as it did. Or maybe Robin would have decided I wasn’t worth waiting around for.

What if that other woman had become my wife? She was a law student. Perhaps she’s now a successful lawyer (and I certainly hope that’s the case), and she would have made so much money that I wouldn’t have needed to worry about working. Maybe I could have done all that travel as leisure rather than for work.

If I had I made a different decision about that date, I might have been just as happy—just as blessed, my religious friends would say—as I am now. Maybe even more so. My life isn’t perfect. We’re primarily a one-income family, which is difficult in Los Angeles, so we have financial restraints and sometimes get stressed about money. I have some obsessive tendencies that complicate my life and relationships. I’m 30 lbs overweight and can’t seem to slim down. I have a deathly fear of needles that keeps me away from the doctor. My father died of cancer just as we were enjoying our relationship in a way we hadn’t since I was small. I live too far away from my three remaining parents, and don’t get to see them nearly as often as I would like.

But I’m not mad at God (or anyone) for any of that. My problems are small and easy to overcome or accept. A lot of people have it a lot worse than I do. I’m very happy with the way my life is and the way it continues to evolve. I don’t credit or blame divine intervention.

My life is good because I made it good, and because others—mortal, human others—helped it to be this way. I was able to recognize how special Robin was on that very first date, and make our relationship work, because of work I put into myself after my divorce. My kids are great (in part) because we put thought and time and effort into parenting them. I got the job of my dreams because I worked hard to get it, and because I had a lot of help from generous people already well-entrenched in the industry. I have a positive outlook on life because I have supportive parents who raised me to believe in myself. I live in beautiful California because I followed a girl out west at a time when I was young and inexperienced and not really thinking about the consequences.

I’ve gotten away from my original point, which is this: Being angry has nothing to do with my disbelief in God. I have no reason to be mad at God, nor do I feel I am indebted to him (or any god) for the great life I have. To paraphrase a line from Mr. Saturday Night, I am where I am because of who I am—and because of the wonderful people who supported and helped me.

When it comes to God, I am not glad, sad or mad. When it comes to God, I am indifferent. I have no more feelings, positive or negative, about God than I do about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or Odin or Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or any of the other mythical creatures I don’t believe in.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I am a little mad at Santa Claus, because he’s also a fat man and yet he manages to look way better in his clothes than I do.

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