The reaction of religious folk in Malawi when I tell them I am an atheist is priceless. Most people usually want to debate me, but that never ends well for them (I don’t take this shit as seriously as they do). I have made my peace with religion, and it is not for me.
Beyond the disbelief of seeing an actual atheist, I see a spark of jealousy. They envy my freedom. My freedom to think what I want. My freedom to watch the sex scenes in Game of Thrones and admire some tasteful nudity. My Freedom to wake up and sleep without having to beg for forgiveness for being made imperfect. I could go on, but you catch my drift.
Out of all the benefits that religion offers people, freedom is not one of them.
In a highly religious and superstitious society like Malawi, I have figured out that this is one of the reasons why atheists are treated with contempt. Religious folk get to feel bad about skipping church on Sunday while the atheist doesn’t. They have to live a life of being told and constantly reminded that their life is not their own (and it will never be), while the atheist bears no such burden.
I am free and they are not. And the one thing I will never forget is that as soon as the religious switch went off in my brain, I felt relief. I felt light. I felt free from the mental chains of religion and stepped out into a world where I got to celebrate and enjoy humanity.
If I am going through bad luck in my life, I don’t think it is all part of some cosmic plan (that God is punishing me). No. I get to shrug it off because I know shit happens. I get to be good because science and reason tell me it is good to be good. Not because I am afraid to go to hell or want to please a god.
This life is the only life I will ever have (for all I know), so each moment is filled with a deep appreciation of the present and why I must live it to the fullest (within reason). The religious have to be constantly reminded that their real life is the next life, were no such appreciation will ever be afforded to them. Ever.
Such thoughts can be depressing and lead to anger towards someone who they know is free of such beliefs. My sympathies go out to the religious.