Last updateFri, 27 Nov 2020 10am

Can I be happy and rational at the same time

People who are active in religious congregations tend to be happier and more civically engaged than either religiously unaffiliated adults or inactive members of religious groups, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey data from the United States and more than two dozen other countries.

As an atheist, this fascinated me.

So I thought about revisiting my former Catholic ponderings and creeds. As a child, Christianity really did feel like something was looking out for you, but something unknowable you couldn’t play Monopoly with. And here in Mexico and Central America, atheism is probably the one belief held in greatest contempt, according to the Catholic News Agency, even though atheism is the only belief that isn’t specifically protected by any minority laws and doesn’t get any tax breaks. And it is accurate to say, we are the only group who can safely walk the streets of Jerusalem. Nonetheless, the specter of atheism and its perceived lack of morals and godliness make it difficult to admit to. Especially when the Mexican faithful seem so happy.

That same day, though, I started to check news and blogs. In addition to the ordinary peculiarities of religious faith, there were the following from the faithful:

1. (CNN) Owners of a replica of Noah’s Ark are suing their insurers, saying the companies failed to adequately cover damage to the surrounding property caused by heavy rain. The 510-foot, eight-story high wooden ark, according to the Bible, made it through the rain but the flooding did cause damage, an ark representative said.

2. Report finds over 100 southern Baptist convention youth ministers are sex offenders – Houston Chronicle

3. Evangelist Jim Bakker urges everyone to buy his condos. “They are built, NASA says, to be safe during the apocalypse,” Bakker declared.

Naturally, one begins to feel a bit conned when religious people make such statements. But, rose-colored religious glasses render the delusional credible, so we return to our ethereal credulity and we connive. “You can’t beat solid building construction. Not when you’re hit with an apocalypse.”

But then humanity strikes again with:

1. Toys R Us shut down and thousands of jobs lost because women are having abortions (Christian news outlet).

2. Muslims and Hindus at the Grishneshwar Temple throw one-year-old babies from towers 50 feet up to land in sheets held by elders. This, so the babies will become rich as adults.  (Skeptical Science Magazine.)

3. Friedrich Nietzsche liked Buddhist beliefs. Karma. This encourages people to be good even when nobody is looking. It gets insidious when someone’s contemporary failures are deemed to be created by ungodly acts like being a genocidal lunatic in a previous life, and today’s mistakes screwing you up for the next one. According to the New Humanist blog, “monks told a student that her trouble learning was caused in a past life when she was a murderous dictator who burned books, and so now in this life, she is doomed ...” to stupidity. If true, I keep meeting a lot of reincarnated murderous dictators.

My spiritual u-turn became short-lived and I’m now back to my atheist sentiments.

But to conclude, it’s a historic fact that atheists have never fought any wars over what we believe. Except maybe the Cristero War or the Cristero Rebellion (1926–29), a widespread struggle in central-western Mexico in response to the imposition of secularim, state atheism, consisting of the  anti-Catholic and anti-clerical articles of the 1917 Mexican Constitution (inspired by the U.S. Constitution).

We lost.