Motivation for life is something that has been written about, and spoken about to no end. Throughout every century, successful people have written about how they became successful, and specifically how they have overcome obstacles. These books fly off the shelves, and seminars are sold-out in no time. People from all walks of life flock to these successful people to figure out how they too can change their destinies, and move forward despite the difficulties of life. In most of these books and seminars a spiritual influence is often mentioned as a source of strength for these prosperous individuals. I, for one, was always taught growing up that without god, specifically the Christian god, you cannot obtain success in this life. This of course, runs even contrary to scripture, but it was a nice sentiment that with the Christian, Baptist, southern, Texas white god on my side nothing could stop me. As I have looked at my beliefs more objectively and come away from what I once held so closely, the area of motivation for life was one that I was scared to venture into. My fear, came from the thought that I would struggle to find any motivation outside of Christian sources. Fortunately, I was wrong.
Through magazines such as National Geographic, Psychology Today, and TIME I have read some amazing articles about success, motivation, and happiness. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes these articles are lightly touched with some sense of spirituality, for example a November 2017 article in National Geographic that talked about happiness in the three most happy places on earth – Costa Rica, Denmark, and Singapore (National Geographic, 2017). In that article it did express that specifically in Costa Rica, religion is an important part of the culture. However, it was not something that was specific to a certain denomination. Many that were interviewed seemed to be Catholic, for example. In a recent New York Times article they discussed the issue of whether or not Danish and Scandinavians were specifically “atheist”, a claim that had been touted by many in the atheist community. What this particular researcher found, in talking directly with the people was that they were not fond of the term atheist, and even still considered themselves Christian, just not affiliated with the official church. Even more to the point, on the issue of religion, the interviewer found that, “His interviewees just didn’t care about it”. I believe that this goes back to the point that many, whether religious or not arrive at, that happiness is a choice. My personal opinion is that religion has nothing to do with a persons happiness, unless it does. To further expound on that confusing sentence, I would simply say that if religious beliefs are made to be important to a persons understanding of the world, then and only then, does it play a role in the persons happiness. I think the most obvious example of this is the fact that a persons spiritual beliefs can be anything from Christian, to Hindu, to Muslim, to Humanist and be extremely happy. On the flip side, a person can be a Christian, Hindu, Muslim or Humanist and also be extremely unhappy. I would even venture to say that every category of those beliefs have both successful people, and unsuccessful people.
Here is the reality that I hope you understand. Your version of religion that you grew up with may have been extremely harmful, and for that reason you left that religion. Now, you are struggling to carry on without that belief, and struggling to find purpose. DO NOT DO IT! Do not be so against the idea of a god because of your childhood upbringing. If you need to have a value system based on god in order to carry on, please re-evaluate your faith and consider a different way of believing about the god you once loved, but grew up to hate. It may not land you at Christianity, even if that is where you started. Stop being afraid of leaving orthodoxy, or thinking that you have to choose either orthodoxy or atheist. Do not take things so seriously, but instead choose to find YOUR happiness. Realize that religious fanatics will be totally against that viewpoint, and call me a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I am probably in good company with who they think those people are, so be it. Do not concern yourself with the opinions of others, especially in reference to what you believe. If you are a Christian who is in church every time the doors are open, and this brings you happiness, AWESOME! Keep doing that. If you are the Christian who attends for special ceremonies, and otherwise watches Game of Thrones, Fifty Shades of Grey, uses curse words, drinks alcohol on occasion, currently living with your girlfriend, and you are happy, AWESOME! If you are attending a church that downs those kinds of personal happiness choices, it sounds like you need a new church, not a new belief system. As an atheist, I find plenty of stupidity with religion, but this is my PERSONAL viewpoint, and not necessary for everyone in the world to believe. The most harm I see in religion is with those who take it too seriously. Find your happiness, and live that out, f*** everyone else.
The godless Pastor,
Billy J. Crocker