If you can imagine me dancing poorly with complete abandon surrounded by svelt male go-go dancers in holographic banana hammocks, hanging desperately onto a drink with one hand and balancing my drunk ass with the other, then you can imagine one of the most fun moments of my life: My first time at a gay club.
It was my best friend’s birthday. We were all there to dance with her and celebrate her, and we had the time of our lives. At least, until I was kicked out for being too drunk, but that’s another blog post. The point here is that it was pure, unbridled fun.
I’m not here to get all braggadocious up in your grill, but my life has been filled with many fun days and nights, at least as fun as the night I got kicked out of Vancouver’s Celebrities. I’ve travelled half the world and back again, and I’ve had some incredibly enjoyable jobs. I’ve lived in new cities and new countries, and I currently live in a veritable playground made of hills and hiking trails and lakes and wineries, and I spend every day with my best friend and our loving children. To say my life has been fun would be an understatement. Of course, I’ve had many valleys among the peaks, but overall, my life has been incredibly enjoyable.
So, if someone poses the question, “is it fun to be an atheist?”, as someone did recently on Reddit, I can say that yes, my experience as an atheist has been fun.
But here’s the thing. It’s not because I am an atheist.
My atheism doesn’t inform any part of my life, not even my atheist activism. My atheism is just me being skeptical when you tell me you have a god. No, the fun in my life can be attributed to many things, but none of them is my atheism.
A theist could have enjoyed every moment of life that I’ve taken pleasure in just as easily as I did.
We are all fully aware of the fact that some gods would disapprove of many of life’s best opportunities for fun.
Imagine a fundamentalist Christian or Mormon at Celebrities night club. Would they even have gone? Would they have the friends I did? Would they keep the company of people who wanted to celebrate their birthday in a gay bar? Likely not. This sort of believer would not have even had the opportunity to enjoy a night like this.
Now, imagine a not-so-orthodox Christian or someone who loosely identifies as Muslim spending the evening with their LGBTQ friends in a gay bar. These sorts of religious people might have a diverse group of friends and might join in on the birthday fun at a gay club. But do you think that maybe some of them might walk away with some guilt or shame? Do you think they would beat themselves up wondering if they pissed off their god? Do you think a night like that would be as fun for this sort of believer as it was for me?
As such, I think I can safely say that some of life’s best experiences can give more joy to an atheist than they can to a believer. Of course, you can flip that and say that the theist would get more enjoyment out of going to church and Sunday school and a good sermon, but these enjoyments are all tied in with their religion. The sort of fun that comes with promises of heaven and threats of hell is a coerced pleasure. It’s as simple as that.
So, I’d say that yes, in a minimal way, being an atheist has enabled me to draw more joy from life.
My experience, though, is not the same as all other atheists. I’ve been collecting your stories of how you came to identify as an atheist for some time now. Many of them are excruciatingly painful to read. Some of you have lost your family over it. Some have lost their careers. Others still have lost friends and community and their overall sense of belonging. Some of you still struggle with the guilt that came with a belief in a jealous and angry god.
Some atheists live in terror every single day. They fear that someone might find out that they no longer believe because if someone does, they will surely be killed.
So, when you ask if it’s fun to be an atheist, really, the answer is no. It’s not fun to be an atheist. But it’s also not the cause of an absence of fun. The fun or lack of fun in an atheist’s life all come from other sources, not our atheism.
In essence, the question itself is nonsensical. It’s like asking someone if it’s fun to have blue as your favourite colour. These things are just not sources of fun or the absence of it.
I’d like to know how you would answer the question, “is being an atheist fun?”. Let me know in the comments.
I’m writing a book addressing the many reasons believers distrust atheists. I’m around 40,000 words in! If you want to help me get it done, you can support me by donating here or becoming a patron here.
Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay