9 Ways Atheists Get More Joy Out Of Life

The other day, I noticed this tweet:

Aside from the fact that Mary seems to have missed the point of the poem, Mary has offered up the same sentiment I hear from so many theists: atheists are joyless.

This is something I’ve heard more than once, and I’ve never quite understood it. As someone who has had a life filled with joy but who has lacked religious belief since day one, it’s completely absurd to me. I think that for some religious people who say this, this is an attempt to make us feel small; that they don’t really believe that we can’t feel joy. For others, however, I get the sense that they truly believe we live without any joy at all.

Either way, many religious people I’ve had the opportunity to get to know, are miserable. Now, I realize that the small group of religious people I’ve gotten to know is hardly representative of an entire demographic… I get this. Of course, not all of them are miserable. I’ve met some truly happy people who profess a belief in god. However, there are some things we don’t need stats to know when it comes to how atheists experience joy. We know that religion comes with dogma. We know that religion is prescriptive and requires certain behaviours. We know that those behaviours are promoted with the use of threats, guilt and shame.

We also know that atheists are free from all of that. We don’t do dogma, we don’t take kindly to threats from the magical zombie in the sky. We don’t believe in eternal punishment or infinite reward. We are free to explore what it means to be us without the pressure to fall in line.

Here are nine ways atheists are free to feel joy, without the burden of dogmatic shame or guilt:

Girls just want to have fun. Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay

1. Sex! We are not afraid of going heels-to-Jesus! We celebrate the four-legged foxtrot like it’s an Olympic event. If an atheist feels shame for hiding the bishop, it’s only because he has residual BS carried over from when he was religious. It’s okay for women to ride the bologna pony as much as they like and it’s perfectly okay for men to nail men and women to bang women. So, you’re a back door bandit? That’s fine. More than one partner? It’s cool, as long as all your partners are. Whips and chains your thing? Have at it! Role-playing, toys, or just the good old missionary position with the love of your life? It’s all good! It’s good for the heart, it’s good for the mind and it even burns calories! As my motto goes, a little less time at the gym, a little more time riding him. There is absolute joy in mutual pleasure if you can strip away the shame, the guilt and the idea that you’re a dirty little sinner bound for hell.

2. Celebrating the joy of others! Instead of disowning people because they have fallen in love with someone of the same sex, we love them just the same. Even more, we are happy for them! We celebrate their milestones with them, and we dance with them at their weddings. We happily consume their wedding cakes baked by people who are not bigots and we joyfully march down to the county clerk’s office and look down on people like Kim Davis with the full knowledge that we are, in fact, better than them. We find profound amounts of joy knowing we are on the right side of history, and even more joy can be derived from being able to separate ourselves from those who would judge another based solely on who they have fallen in love with. You see, trying to actively prevent certain people from loving certain people, is an act against love and against joy. It defies the very idea of joyful living.

3. Discovery! Nothing is quite as exhilarating as reading a headline that a global ocean was discovered on one of Saturn’s moons or hearing that a new robotic prosthetic will give amputees all sort of new abilities and movement. I imagine one day we will find signs of life out there in that deep abyss… my heart literally flutters at the thought. We’ll discover cures for the ailments that most trouble us now, and we’ll discover new tech that makes life easier, of a higher quality and more enjoyable. The absolute and utter joy in new discoveries is indescribable. An atheist would never dismiss these discoveries if they conflicted with previous explanations for our existence. We embrace them and allow them to lead us to new and exciting places. We will all die knowing more about our world and our existence than we do now.

4. Saying “I Don’t Know”! I know what you’re thinking… how can saying I don’t know be joyful? It’s very simple. Saying I don’t know means you have more to learn. Learning is fun. Learning expands our ability to be able to function in this world, treat others with respect and potentially one day live in peace. Those who insist they are certain of something, are closed to the joy of learning. Saying, “I know for certain that God created us” gives you no need to further investigate our origins and eliminates the possibility of you learning something new about it. Saying we don’t know, leaves us open to discovering something new about our existence… and that would be a discovery that would bring a great amount of joy to those who were open to learning about it.

5. Sunday mornings! In the fall, watching your football team win with your little boy by your side… or hiking along a creek as dried up leaves crunch beneath your feet. In the summer, swimming with your kids out to the platform in the middle of the lake and diving off. Sleeping in and rising to your husband making you Nutella crepes or jumping all morning with your son on the trampoline. These are just a few of the things that bring more joy than a sore-bum from being stuck in a cold, hard pew, surrounded by corpses on crosses, listening to a man warn you of the eternal fires of hell.

6. The joy in knowing this life is all we have. Understanding that there are no second chances and that once we’re gone, we’re never coming back makes a person really want to live life to its fullest. We really live because we know life is fleeting. We cherish this life whereas many religious individuals appear to be living for the next life.

Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay

7. Masturbation! Yes, self-pleasure brings a great deal of joy to someone who understands that there is nothing wrong with it and that it is absolutely normal. We all know that even the most devout monks slap their happy sack from time to time but the difference between myself and a monk is that I am not ashamed of it. I am a sexual creature with a libido and the sheer joy that comes from celebrating that over being ashamed of it is inexplicable.

8. No Hell to fear! An atheist is free to live their lives without the fear of hell. When we do good things, it’s because we want to do good things, and never because we are afraid of eternal torture. There are no firey images of the devil floating around in our minds, no act that we feel deserves suffering for eternity. We believe in compassion and empathy and love, not torture. It’s not so hard to believe that choosing compassion over eternal torture is a far more joyful way to live, is it?

9. We are not being watched! Well, some of us may have stalkers but as far as being watched by a celestial Dad-dude in the sky who judges our tiniest actions goes… well, we live happily and joyfully without that. We know that consequences for our actions are detectable and real-world and we adjust our behaviour based on that rather than a space-stalker.

Today’s most populous religions come with deep shame. They make people feel guilty for who they are, and how their bodies function. Fear is driven into the devout and obedience is cultivated via threats of damnation. These things are directly incompatible with joy.

Facing facts is not cold or hard or joyless. Facing facts gives us freedom. It gives us the freedom to live with far more joy than your book would have you experience. It gives us the freedom to live life in reality and celebrate our own humanness.

Are atheists more joyful than religious people? I doubt we can prove that… but to assert that we are joyless is completely unfounded. We live with a great deal of joy… joy that many of you will never know.

What do you think? Do atheists feel joy? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Fred Tully

    There are people who can suck the joy out of life. It is not there fault, they were just born that way. Or so I recall…

    “So negative they could kill a battery from across the room”, but I did not see any correlation with religion… but then I never hang around them long enough to find out anything about them. I just do not need those negatives in my life, and leave them as soon as possible.

    And one more. Take up philosophy, and develop a philosophy of life, and you will never hear those negative people again.

  • I don’t understand how not believing in a scary deity makes my life less joyful. Since I cast off belief in religion, I feel more peace, I am no longer afraid of an afterlife, and I am more likely to seize opportunities to try new things because I believe this life is my only chance. Being able to say “we don’t know yet bit we continue to explore” is more freeing than saying “god did it but I don’t know how and it doesn’t make sense”. You hit the nail on the head with your examples.

  • NotAgain U bucking fastards

    I find it funny that the person responded to a funny poem, two things that give many people joy, to claim we have no joy. The poem itself gave me joy. It’s like walking up to me while I am laughing and hugging my children and telling me that I can’t love because I’m a brunette.

    I definitely relate to each of your points, Courtney.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Yeah, #1 is my #1 reason (: Glad I never had religion to spoil that. But there are some other things I have been able to enjoy throughout life that I would not have if my mom had been one of these fundie type. A) Sci-Fi books (or just about any book not all jesus) B) Rock & Roll (unless it was all jesus) C) D&D D) Comics (keep your Chick tracts) E) Movies F) Just about any hair/clothing style I have ever worn (no matter what it is, some bible humper will hate it) G) Many different foods.

    I could spend a joyful afternoon just adding to this list (; But I’m going to go have a cig, and then join a friend in some Word of Warcraft.

  • Otto

    I can certainly attest as a person being raised Catholic that I am much happier living without thinking that there is an afterlife. I used to think that if there was even a minuscule chance of ending up in hell that it would be better to have not been born. Then add to it that there was so much doubt and internal conflict as to what the ‘right’ religious belief is, and the aggravation of listening to religious authorities claim to ‘know’ this or that about God. “I don’t know” was far more comforting than listening to these people talk out of their ass.

  • Michael Neville

    I never understood the “you’re joyless because you don’t believe in the imaginary sky pixie that I believe in” concept. I find joy in the same things Courtney does plus I find joy in sleeping in on Sunday morning, not giving money to professional god-botherers, and not being concerned that the god-botherers say that a white-bearded geezer is upset about what I do with my genitalia.

  • (((GC)))

    …join a friend in some Word of Warcraft.

    So spellcasting and magic are real! 🙂

    I remember some Bible thumpers vehemently objecting to the Harry Potter books and movies. Any supernatural stuff (that’s not all Jesus) is evil and sinful! No invisible powers (that aren’t all Jesus) allowed! (Guess they need to give up their cell phones and Wi-Fi….)

    Never mind that the magic in that world had nothing to do with religion, and that the stories celebrated morality and values that theists and nontheists both can embrace.

  • (((GC)))

    Someone has to quote the John Lennon song sooner or later: “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky…”

  • Priya Lynn

    I’m confident that whether or not someone feels joy has far more to do with other factors than whether or not one is religious. Maybe many very religious people would disagree with that but I have no doubt that the majority of people who consider themselves religious, or christians don’t spend a whole lot of time or effort in religious activities or thought. I have read that there is research that shows religious people report being happy but analysis of their statements shows they are not as happy as they claim. I think it is something they feel they need to assert (being happy) otherwise it denegrates their being religious.

  • Brian Curtis

    It’s not that they’re trying to convince anyone (except maybe themselves), it’s not that they can support this notion with evidence (they obviously can’t)… they’re just stating something that they NEED to believe. They NEED to believe that atheists are leading empty, miserable lives, because it helps reinforce their decision to remain faithful.

    Consider the alternative: what if people OUTSIDE the faith were leading happy, fulfilled, and meaningful lives? What would that mean for their religious identity, if it were only one option among many, and not obviously superior in every way? Clearly that can’t be allowed to happen.

  • Thank you and thanks for reading!

  • Great analogy. Thank you!

  • The list could go on forever.

  • It does seem more comforting than struggling with what god really wants.

  • Exactly. Thanks for reading!

  • God, that’s a great song, isn’t it?

  • That’s interesting. I’d love to read more about that.

  • Great point. They absolutely need to believe it.

  • Otto

    I struggled for a number of years trying to figure out which religious direction to go when the answer was:

    D) none of the above.

    It was a wonderful relief.

  • Bill Ameen

    Don’t forget, we save money by not tithing or otherwise wasting money on organized religions (however, I do donate to good causes like CFI, FFRF, AU, and AA!). Also, by not going to church I’m no longer subject to sing-shaming…I can’t sing (not even in the shower) and one of the earliest reasons I quit church when I was old enough to decide for myself is that I can’t sing, and every religion expects you to sing. That was even before I realized that belief in “god” was phony!

  • Yep, I save my donation bucks for Doctors Without Borders!

  • rationalobservations?

    The non-religious/godless Homan cohort are the third largest and fastest growing group of educated, peaceful and joyful members of our recently evolved species of ape.
    It’s odd that the religionists appear pleased to call themselves “god fearing” although the vile homicidal god of the old testament would be something to fear if it actually existed.
    Not only are atheists demonstrating we are better without any gods, we are also happily fearless of both life and death.

    Remember that the top ten most peaceful and happy nations today are also the ten least religious free, secular democracies in history.

    Rejoice that education and free, secular democracy has already proved to be the antidote to the poison of religion.

  • FreethinkingWorldGuy

    Good article!

    The enumerated list of “9 ways of joy” atheists DO experience, while not comprehensive or exhaustive, actually serves as a strong sales pitch for atheism, whether intended or not!

    A belief that “Atheists have no joy” is just one more unfounded belief theists can add to their list.

  • slripk

    The moment I realized I no longer believed in religious nonsense and I had no compulsion to try to believe it, I felt a huge weight lift. I still feel that joy of that moment when I think about it.

  • FreethinkingWorldGuy

    Good points!

    Consistent with your “sky pixie” remark and tying that in with “white-bearded geezer”, the “atheists have no joy” belief is just as silly as believing (or asserting) that Santa Claus disbelievers cannot find joy.

  • Otto

    It is kinda like once someone pointed out…ask a Christian what they really enjoy about the Christmas holiday and see how much their answer has to do with religion…not much.
    Ask a Christian what they really enjoy about life in general and I bet you get very non-religious answers.

  • It’s called jealousy.”How could YOU possibly be happy without a god to tell you that you are? Don’t you understand that you have to PRAY to god to find joy, and I feel so SORRY for you, you poor deluded heathen, you.”

    And I don’t care. Im happy (yeah happy) in my heathenistic ignorance.

  • It’s okay, It gives them unbridled pleasure to believe we are actually a miserable lot, and they probably get a great deal of satisfaction by praying for us, and about us, and consigning us to their hell.

  • Jim Jones

    One of my happiest days ever was getting the polio vaccine. It was a sunny day at high school. In a few days, I would be protected from a living death that was all too easily caught.

    It may be my last memory. To hell with the religious and the anti-vaxxers.

  • Jim Jones
  • prdorizs

    This article gives the light in which we can watch the truth. This is exceptionally pleasant one and gives indepth data. A debt of gratitude is in order for this decent article.

  • Phil

    I felt joy once, then she dated some other guy.

  • Yep. Thanks for reading!

  • I was never a believer, so I didn’t get to experience that. Sounds awesome, though.

  • In fairness, you’re really only comparing atheists to *conservative* Christians. As a progressive Christian, I’m in nearly complete agreement with everything you’ve written here. I’d only clarify with #6 that while I do hope for the Resurrection, I still believe we’re to live this current life to the full. I actually believe that’s exactly what Jesus taught us to do.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    What ive seen of liberal christians is usually they dont condemn their fundy counterparts, but are quick to pounce on the whole im a christian spiel. No, either all christians get along with each other or begone.

  • Like how all atheists get along with each other?

  • Of course, Chuck! I’ve known plenty of Christians who get just as much joy out of life as I do 🙂

  • Ame

    A caricature of dysfunctional conservative Christians, that is. My grandparents are conservative, Catholics with a traditionalist bent, but even they make irreverent sex jokes, can talk to anybody without judgement, and laugh along with Kevin Smith’s Dogma movie.

  • Ame

    Yep, isn’t wonderful? And all the way to the point of using violence to expunge the opiate of the masses — oh wait

  • rationalobservations?

    Which modern, peaceful, educated, free, secular and predominantly non-religious democracy has offered violence of any kind to the remaining rapidly declining rump of religionists that are actually treated with sympathy and kindness as an eccentric throwback to a more superstitious, ignorant and less civilised age?

    I imagine that you are not referencing any of the peace loving, modern non-religious democratic states but those run under atheist communist or perhaps even christian fascism and mistake totalitarianism with atheism? The population of the top ten most peaceful and godless nations in history abhor all totalitarianism – religious and non religious.

  • rationalobservations?
  • rationalobservations?

    Please present the authentic and original, 1st century originated evidence that “Jesus” existed and that confirms any of the diverse and different, confused and contradictory legends within any of the human written “New Testament” bibles that have been fabricated since the 4th century.
    Once there is evidence established that a man named “Jesus” actually existed, we may discuss any evidence of what he said or did?

  • Ame

    You do realize that the whole world isn’t truly democratic, right. Large countries can’t survive on populist voting alone without some qualifier..democratic parliament, democratic socialism, democratic republic, etc. So your description of a free democratic secular society is very inaccurate. And such countries that you can list do have large curbs to religious freedom or even free speech, so I guess you have a definition of free with a very large qualifier attached. So as for modern and secular and certainly violent, you have China and North Korea, unless your subconscious imperialist racism thinks those two countries are too backward to be considered modern…

  • rationalobservations?

    Well done in demonstrating the simple minded talent of overstating the completely obvious.
    China and North Korea are NOT free, secular democracies and (Like the USA) do not rank high in the “Global Peace Index”.
    Of course the whole world isn’t democratic – many folk in many countries are dominated by religious and/or political totalitarianism. It is in stark contrast to that that the “Global Peace Index” highlights the top ten happy, well educated and peaceful – least religious secular and democratic nations.
    I do not describe or define free, democratic secular democratic society. I happen to live within one, but leave the annual Global Peace Index to list and define them.

    I notice that you make no attempt to actually answer the question: “Which modern, peaceful, educated, free, secular and predominantly non-religious democracy has offered violence of any kind to the remaining rapidly declining rump of religionists that are actually treated with sympathy and kindness as an eccentric throwback to a more superstitious, ignorant and less civilised age?”

    Care to try again? take all the time you need…

  • Ame

    I am saying that your definition of free and democratic needs some clarification, otherwise your list is shorter than you think. It’s cute that you have someone elses list, but how can they gloss over restrictions over freedom of religion or freedom of speech and call that a free nation? I mean, even Japan has issues with free press restrictions and the law is biased against the young and disabled. You realize that the reason that they’re peaceful now is because of consequences for their participation in Axis powers in WWII, right? So that left me to listing for modern and secular.

  • rationalobservations?

    If you bothered to look at the Global Peace Index – you would not need to speculate regarding their ranking or the nature of the countries they list. Worth noting that while the USA languishes at 114 of the 163 nations listed, Canada is No.8 and Iceland is No.1. Are you arguing that these nations are not free, secular democracies and if so – why?

    As a comparison – totalitarian China is just below the USA at 116 of 163 nations and totalitarian North Korea is below them both at 150 of 163 nations.

    You appear to miss the main point that totalitarian states dominated by religion or political tyranny rank low for peace while educated secular nations head the list?

    This is not an absolute measure but an interesting one concerning the most powerful yet gun and god crazy nation that is the USA in particular?
    The least peaceful nations are religion dominated Arab and middle eastern or central African states in which democracy is outlawed and religious law prevails.

    I notice that you still make no attempt to actually answer the question: “Which modern, peaceful, educated, free, secular and predominantly non-religious democracy has offered violence of any kind to the remaining rapidly declining rump of religionists that are actually treated with sympathy and kindness as an eccentric throwback to a more superstitious, ignorant and less civilised age?”

    Care to try again? take all the time you need…

  • rationalobservations?

    Still no answer to my question!

  • Ame

    And I am still waiting for YOUR clarification. How can I answer your question without an establishment of definitions?

  • Ame

    What exactly makes a country a free country?

  • rationalobservations?

    I have already given you examples of nations within the top ten most peaceful free secular democracies according to the Global Peace Index.
    If you are an American citizen – Canada is just north of you and 106 places above the USA in the Global Peace Index.
    If you wish to continue to prevaricate or obfuscate – I WILL understand your reason for that…

  • rationalobservations?

    Freedom from persecution, equality of citizens and freedom of choice in an elected government elected by the individual citizens.
    Freedom from religious or political oppression.

    If you don’t recognise freedom, perhaps you can never be free.

    Now can you answer the question regarding which modern free secular democracy oppresses or persecutes it’s religionists?

  • Ame

    Examples are not definitions. Canada has major, major issues with free speech. Yes, Canadians gloat how much free stuff they get and many forms of license are enshrined into law, but that comes at the price of shutting down government criticism. Even the LGBTQ community there feels conflicted about trading in this major freedom for government recognized marriage.

  • Ame

    You say freedom from persecution and freedom from regions and political oppression when France uses the force of the state to strip away religious identity from the public sphere? It is very publicly boasted in France that religious identity must be subject to French identity, whatever that is. And they wonder full of surprise when Muslim migrants push back hard. And Germany, they have all but declared that children belong to the state, the state decides where to place every child for education, special needs or religious exemption be damned, and if you don’t comply, your children are taken from you.

    Yep. Freedom under a sword of the state. Can’t wait to have that!

  • Ame

    And, and don’t get me started on England! Perhaps there was a time they could boast of freedom (for native born Britons, anyway), but that has passed for a number of reasons, but the most choking reason of all was explained by Rowan Atkinson’s speech on the death of free speech.

  • rationalobservations?

    Meanwhile America languishes at the bottom section of the Global Peace Index and ranks at No.5 most ignorant nation in the world.
    Gun and god crazy USA is so far behind the more civilised nations that all you can do is recite and recycle nonsense propaganda your fake news system pumps into what passes for your mind.

    Take care that your neighbour doesn’t exercise his “rights” to own an assault rifle with which to slaughter your kids and the rest of your tribe.

    Look out for that totalitarian dictator with more powers than any king or emperor in the past few hundred years (you call a “President”) doesn’t continue to exercise his rights to oppress and suppress all freedoms in favour of the interests of his friend Vladimir and his only bosses at the NRA and the Fundagelicals.

    Meanwhile the rest of us look on in disgust and pity.

  • Ame

    You mean the U.S. of America. There is more than one American continent, so be specific. You use one index to define your estimation of the nation’s of the world. You seem rather obsessed with it. I think a more worldly person would know where to turn for more useful information about the status of each country. Such as traveling and observing such countries, talking with honest local people, not just the tourism professionals and government officials, what it’s like to live there and compare/contrast freedoms and rights. And analyze what their news organisations are allowed to report. Interesting that you have nothing to say about my comments for Canada, England, Germany, France, and Japan. So what makes them more free than the U.S.A. despite their respective restrictions to freedom of speech and freedom of religion?

    Interesting how you turned the topic towards gun rights and bad presidents and fundamentalists. Isn’t France currently struggling with all those things, too? They’re having BIG problems with illegal firearms despite supposed reasonable gun restrictions, plus problems with religious extremism….eek. Nice how pot calls kettle black. Oh yeah, they give a lot of free stuff so that makes them more sophisticated than the U.S.A., I suppose. Personally, I am glad that my special needs child isn’t subjected to France’s abysmal record in following its own special education laws.

  • rationalobservations?

    Oh the irony.
    Of course it’s the USA. You obviously don’t bother to read that which you fail to refute as I included a link to the Global Peace Index in an entry you merely ignored and answered with the usual unsupported denial.
    I have traveled around the world 9 times and lived and worked in many different countries including the USA. The irony of an American referencing being “worldly” is hilarious.

    As for crime rates USA Vs France?
    Intentional homicide rate USA 3 times more than France
    Murder rate USA 19 times more than France.
    Murders per million population France 10.54 USA 42.01 4 times more than France.
    Rapes France 10,104 USA 84,767 8 times more than France.

    Crime rates USA Vs UK?
    Intentional homicide rate USA 4 times more than UK
    Murder rate USA 18 times more than UK
    Murders UK 722 USA 12,996 18 times more than United Kingdom
    Murder rate per million UK 11.68 USA 42.01 4 times more than United Kingdom

    The number of mass shootings around the USA in 2018 continues to climb.

    According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a total of 124 mass shooting incidents have occurred as of June 14.

    Four people were shot, including two children, at an office complex in Westminster, marking the 125th mass shooting so far this year..

    (In 2017, the U.S. saw a total of 346 mass shootings.)

    No mass shootings in the UK since 1996
    Here are some links again:

  • Ame

    You’re getting further and further away from your original claims of what constitutes a free country and my questions about how a country can be considered free when there are restrictions to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The U.S.A. has a problem with violence in its populace, but it’s not the fault of constitutional law, wheareas many of the countries in that index that are supposedly more free have freedoms restricted into their own constitutions. Their governments have greater power over their people. Sure, that’s nice and peaceful until the government decides it’s in the best interests of the nation to eliminate you as a problem

  • rationalobservations?

    What “claims”?
    Your denial appears based upon egotism and paranoia based mistrust of your fellow citizens and your government. Although mistrust of your fellow citizens and current presidential dictator appears well deserved…

  • Ame

    I know “America” is not great. Every country has pros and cons, every country has serious problems that keeps it from being a utopia. Germany may appear so much better with all the free stuff and equality, but as long as I keep my children safe and provide what I think is best for them to flourish, the government should have no claim over the them when there is a dispute on educational placement. France may appear so great but the freedom to express the more visible features of my religion is too important to me. Canada may appear so great, but I want to nonviolently, peacefully protest my president, within reasonable parameters of the law, without the government knocking on the door to cease and desist. My country isn’t great but these protections are not just laws constructed out of the benevolence of a government who can later decide that perhaps I could bear to have less freedom for the good of the state; my rights are constitutionally protected, and it’s the burden of the government to prove that it is complying with the constitution.

  • Ame

    And these countries may have something of checks and balances, but their executive branches are porous with the legislative branches. In France the president can and has done once in history undo the results of free election of representatives in legislation. That is a serious problem. The USA may have problems with deadlocks, it may give some power to the executive branch to allow executive orders in limited situations, but those orders can be overturned if not compliant with the constitution’s rigid system of checks and balances. Obama really screwed that up by deciding to give the presidency more power to legislate with his pen, setting up the precedent of liberal use of executive orders. Obama gave the next president a gift, and it’s no surprise that Trump is happy to make use of it. If Congress ever has guts to sue the president, then the Supreme Court could re-establish presidential checks.

  • BeaverTales

    I wasn’t against Religion until after I was told that my lack of belief in magic Sky Fairies made me a bad, bad person…Controlling what I believe seems important to the people who do believe in them. Since they can’t tell me how to think, they’ll happily tell me how to live. I otherwise don’t care what theists believe in their own heads. I can’t prove it or disprove it anyway..

    I am happier without the guilt, shame and fear I see in those who tremble before [fill in the blank]. I have a lot more to do in my life than worry about praying and begging magic fairies in the sky to solve all my problems in life that I should be solving myself.

  • Fraser Hutchinson

    ^^ This^^. In the same way the need to convince themselves that atheists cannot be moral, that atheists cannot have meaning in their lives, and so on and so on. Once they start passing judgement on me not based upon my actions but based up whether I believe in their particular mythology then the incur my resentment.

  • Robert Conner

    One thing most atheists very definitely are is informed about religion. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95dd8d1127e8311d24e461da02b941d75e3d08c195d39d680678fc8016a546ad.jpg

  • Obscurely

    A hearty “AMEN!!” from this progressive pastor!!

  • Obscurely

    A lot of progressive Christians like me might not be willing to say this so boldly but — “We don’t care if we can prove whether Jesus was ‘real’ or not (bathwater) — what he taught us is more important than his literal existence (the baby:)”

  • rationalobservations?

    You merely overstate what is very obvious to many of us.
    I have paraphrased this common religionist assertion as: I believe only because I have been indoctrinated with faith and have faith merely because I have been brainwashed to believe”.

    If you are happy to unquestioningly believe in the confused and contradictory fables one of many similarly legendary “god-men” written centuries after the time in which they are merely set and to overlook the vile and exclusively self serving nature of religion in favour of delusion – that is your affliction.

    There is nothing that has been “taught” by “Jesus” as there is not one single historical trace of the existence of “Jesus”. There is not even a single credible version of christian bible among the many diverse and very different prototype bible versions (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus – both late 4th century in origin and both very different from later versions and those we know today) that started to appear shortly after the 4th century Roman religion they called “christianity” was cobbled together.

    The lessons of humanitarianism originate long before the Roman religion of christianity was brutally imposed upon the world in the 4th century.
    The “golden rule” is followed by most members of our recently evolved species of ape regardless of religion and very often in spite of enthrallment to a religion.
    The top ten most peaceful nations in the world are also the ten least religious nations in history.
    The third largest and fastest growing human demographic prove daily that we are not only good without gods, we are better.


  • rationalobservations?

    Of COURSE! There is no example of utopia in the world today.
    I merely point out that the most peaceful nations are the least religious nations and that Canada ranks 106 places higher than America.
    I am not sure how you think that denigrating Canada and that fact neutralises or gets America off the hook of the relative absence of peace within the gun and religion crazy mass shooting capital of the world known as the USA?

  • rationalobservations?

    I am still not sure how this validates, justifies or excuses religion or excuses the USA from the reasons it is so far down the Global Peace Index?

  • Obscurely

    So you can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer? 😉 We progressives don’t ultimately care if you’re right in everything you just posted (and we def agree Constantine’s imperial co-option of Christianity was the worst thing that ever happened to it). We’re far more interested in the ethical baby we share with Muslims, Buddhists and atheists than our doctrinal-historical bathwater — “Jesus” (whoever he was or wasn’t) took things like the Golden Rule to a whole ‘nuther level of human moral evolution (see esp theorists like Rene Girard on this) …

  • rationalobservations?

    You appear to be advocating humanitarianism, not christianity or any other politico-corporate business of mind manipulation and anti-humanitarianism?
    1,000,000 BC The fictional Fred Flintstone helps a stranger who was robbed and left to die. He says “I’d want him to help me.” Golden rule thinking is born!

    c. 1,000,000 BC to 10,000 BC Humans find that cooperative hunting works better. Small, genetically similar clans who use the golden rule to promote cooperation and sharing have a better chance to survive.

    c. 1800 BC Egypt’s “Eloquent peasant” story has been said to have the earliest known golden-rule saying: “Do to the doer to cause that he do.” But the translation is disputed and it takes much stretching to see this as the golden rule. (See my §3.2e.)

    c. 1450 BC to 450 BC The Jewish Bible has golden-rule like passages, including: “Don’t oppress a foreigner, for you well know how it feels to be a foreigner, since you were foreigners yourselves in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9) and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

    c. 700 BC In Homer’s Odyssey, goddess Calypso tells Odysseus: “I’ll be as careful for you as I’d be for myself in like need. I know what is fair and right.”

    c. 624-546 BC First philosopher Thales, when asked how to live virtuously, reportedly replies (according to the unreliable Diogenes Laertius c. 225 AD): “By never doing ourselves what we blame in others.” A similar saying is attributed to Thales’s contemporary, Pittacus of Mytilene.

    c. 563-483 BC Buddha in India teaches compassion and shunning unhealthy desires. His golden rule says: “There is nothing dearer to man than himself; therefore, as it is the same thing that is dear to you and to others, hurt not others with what pains yourself” (Dhammapada, Northern Canon, 5:18).

    c. 551-479 BC Confucius sums up his teaching as: “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.” (Analects 15:23)

    c. 522 BC Maeandrius of Samos (in Greece), taking over from an evil tyrant, says (according to the historian Herodotus c. 440 BC, in his Histories 3.142): “What I condemn in another I will, if I may, avoid myself.” Xerxes of Persia c. 485 BC said something similar (Histories 7.136).

    c. 500 BC Jainism, a religion of India that promotes non-violence, compassion, and the sacredness of life, teaches the golden rule: “A monk should treat all beings as he himself would be treated.” (Jaina Sutras, Sutrakritanga, bk. 1, 10:1-3)

    c. 500 BC Taoist Laozi says: “To those who are good to me, I am good; and to those who are not good to me, I am also good; and thus all get to receive good.” (Tao Te Ching 49) A later work says: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain and your neighbor’s loss as your loss.” (T’ai-Shang Kan-Ying P’ien)

    c. 500 BC Zoroaster in Persia teaches the golden rule: “That character is best that doesn’t do to another what isn’t good for itself” and “Don’t do to others what isn’t good for you.”

    c. 479-438 BC Mo Tzu in China teaches the golden rule: “Universal love is to regard another’s state as one’s own. A person of universal love will take care of his friend as he does of himself, and take care of his friend’s parents as his own. So when he finds his friend hungry he will feed him, and when he finds him cold he will clothe him.” (Book of Mozi, ch. 4)

    c. 440 BC Socrates (c. 470-399 BC) and later Plato (c. 428-347 BC) begin the classical era of Greek philosophy. The golden rule, while not prominent in their thinking, sometimes leaves a trace. As Socrates considers whether to escape from jail, he imagines himself in the place of the state, who would be harmed (Crito). And Plato says: “I’d have no one touch my property, if I can help it, or disturb it without consent on my part; if I’m a man of reason, I must treat the property of others the same way” (Laws). (Wattles 1996: 32-6)

    c. 436-338 BC Isocrates in Greece teaches the golden rule as promoting self-interest (you do unto others so that they’ll do unto you). He says: “Don’t do to others what angers you when you experience it from others.” The golden rule then becomes common, in positive and negative forms, in Greco-Roman culture, in Sextus, Demosthenes, Xenophon, Cassius Dio, Diogenes Laertius, Ovid, and others. The golden rule has less impact on Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and early Stoics. (Meier 2009: 553f)

    c. 400 BC Hinduism has positive and negative golden rules: “One who regards all creatures as his own self, and behaves towards them as towards his own self attains happiness. One should never do to another what one regards as hurtful to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of righteousness. In happiness and misery, in the agreeable and the disagreeable, one should judge effects as if they came to one’s own self.” (Mahabharata bk. 13: Anusasana Parva, §113)

    384-322 BC Aristotle says: “As the virtuous man is to himself, he is to his friend also, for his friend is another self” (Nicomachean Ethics 9:9). Diogenes Laertius (c. 225 AD) reports Aristotle as saying that we should behave to our friends as we wish our friends to behave to us.

    c. 372-289 BC Mencius, Confucius’s follower, says (Works bk. 7, A:4): “Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence.”

    c. 300 BC Sextus the Pythagorean in his Sentences expresses the golden rule positively and negatively: “As you wish your neighbors to treat you, so treat them. What you censure, do not do.” (Meier 2009: 554 & 628)

    c. 150 BC Various Jewish sources have golden-rule sayings. Tobit 4:16 says “See that you never do to another what you’d hate to have done to yourself.” Sirach 31:15 says “Judge the needs of your guest by your own.” And the Letter of Aristeas (see Meier 2009: 553f) says “Insofar as you [the king] do not wish evils to come to you, but to partake of every blessing, [it would be wise] if you did this with your subjects.”

    c. 30 BC to 10 AD Rabbi Hillel, asked to explain the Torah while a Gentile stood on one foot, uses the golden rule: “What is hateful to yourself, don’t do to another. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Go and learn.” (Sanhedrin of the Babylonian Talmud 56a)

    c. 20 BC to 50 AD Jewish thinker Philo of Alexandria, in speaking of unwritten customs and ordinances, mentions first “Don’t do to another what you’d be unwilling to have done to you.” (Hypothetica 7:6)

    c. 4 BC to 27 AD According to his legends written centuries later: “Jesus” proclaims love (of God and neighbor) and the golden rule to be the basis of how to live. Those men who wrote bibles attribute to “Luke” 6:31 gives the golden rule in the context of loving your enemies, later illustrated by the Good Samaritan parable. Again attributed to “Matthew” 7:12 says: “Treat others as you want to be treated, for this sums up the Law and the prophets.”

    c. 4 BC to 65 AD Roman Stoic Seneca teaches the golden rule: “Let us put ourselves in the place of the man with whom we are angry; we are often unwilling to bear what we would have been willing to inflict,” “Let us give in the way we would like to receive – willingly, quickly, and without hesitation,” and “Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters.” The golden rule fits well the ethics of the Stoics, who propose a natural moral law, accessible to everyone’s reason, that directs us to be just and considerate toward everyone. (Wattles 1996: 39f)

  • Ame

    Why consider France a freer nation than the USA when their president has power to undo the people’s vote?

  • Ame

    “Rejoice that education and free, secular democracy has already proved to be the antidote to the poison of religion.”

    I have been addressing this all along and you pull out a survey to start talking about peaceful. The more secular governments you suggest by linking that survey are not as free as you think upon closer expection. But hey, I guess peace and security with the sword of the government at your neck is more important than freedom of the people.

  • Obscurely

    Now you’re starting to get it! 😀 — YES, progressive Christianity is part of the long line of humanitarianism you’ve traced so beautifully, our strain of it just happened to come into being through an evolution of Jewish monotheism. As intelligent as you obviously are, why didn’t you already know that?