I must admit that sometimes being an atheist is hard. (The only thing harder than being an atheist is being an agnostic- and I hope I will write about why that is so sometime.... ). Especially when things go wrong. You cannot believe that ultimately good will triumph- even if you have put in all your efforts into something, nothing really stops anything from going wrong. No, I am not trying to be defeatist here, but the truth is that believing something good will happen out of the blue, or that there is something that rewards hard work is still belief in the supernatural- just without the baggage that God is forced to carry around most of the time. Anyway, when things are going bad for you, you cannot simply pray to some supernatural power and hope that he will set things right. You cannot believe in any sort of essential fairness in the world. If there is any law that governs life for you- it is survival of the fittest (which is a different form of fairness, in my opinion.. But anyway..) and then maybe the laws of physics. But these laws cannot provide solace- you simply cannot hope that Newton's third law will slap that guy who was mean to you at the store this morning.
The other problem is- what ultimate goal do you have? Most religions advocate some kind of heaven or salvation- something to look forward to. To work towards. There is no such goal in atheism. We are simply insignificant chemical specks in a vast universe that may or may not have its own agenda. We are products of our genes which are simply fighting for their own "selfish" reasons. (Yes, I am oversimplifying things here- but the details aren't particularly comforting either..) We do have some role in modifying nature- we can and have affected it in many ways, but that is not something you can work towards. Nor is it something you can look forward to, because many of these changes will have a sizeable impact only long after you are gone. Yes, many atheists find joy in serving the poor and improving life conditions of the underprivileged- so much as to say that service is their God. Unfortunately, not everyone can feel that. Some atheists can work for improving life conditions of others, but cannot see it as their goal (Objectivists, for example). It is like saying- "I like making people happy, but I cannot live for it". So then, what CAN an atheist (like me) look forward to? Is there anything at all that can be labeled the "joy of being an atheist"? (Click on "Read more" to continue..)