I especially enjoy reading about the experiences of those who have personally freed themselves from religion.
In fact believe it or not one of my few regrets in life is that I never had such a chance – my family was always atheistic, and despite many, many years of attending church services as a choirboy and many serious efforts to try to “find god” as it were, I was never able to succeed.
Still, I am enormously grateful for the fact that my philosophy on life has been allowed to develop according to my own choices and desires – that I was never influenced so heavily by a particular cultural phenomenon that my vision of the joy of reality was clouded.
If I ever occasionally find it petty that occasional evangelistic individuals express their ‘pity’ that I am missing out on something great and life changing (not to mention lining myself up for eternal torture!), it is always worth reminding myself that it is they who are missing out.
I often wish I had the strength of conviction and abilities of persuasion necessary to be evangelistic myself. Reality is, however, a much harder message to sell than religion. The rewards are barely tangible, require more effort to achieve, and the only ‘ultimate goal’ is that whatever reality you find and experience is only a fraction of what there truly is. Whatever you know, there is always more to know, whatever you believe, some of it will be wrong and of whatever you desire, much will be unattainable. However, the sense of relief that comes from accepting this is truly rewarding.
Even better, the sense of satisfaction that comes from trying to understand why it is our minds are necessarily fraught with limitations and unrealistic expectations should help anyone to realise that is the miracle of all miracles that we are able to comprehend the world at all. If the immense forces and the incomparable beauty of nature could be considered spiritually fulfilling, then the marvel of the human brain is what I think deserves the greatest awe and inspiration. In its weaker moments, it has created religion, war and hatred, but in return has given us science, medicine, art, and music (my own personal source of what, for want of a better word, I will call spirituality).
The capacity to create destruction and unhappiness will probably never leave us, but I do believe we all have the ability to restrain ourselves from acting with those intentions – that one-day rationality and reason will prevail in sufficient quantities that we can put our differences aside and focus on what unites us. We are all part of humanity, and the harder we work towards that day the sooner it will come.