I don’t believe in God and never seriously have. When I was younger, I preferred to call myself an agnostic rather than an atheist. My reasoning was that the existence of God could neither be absolutely proven nor disproven therefore being either an avowed believer or disbeliever would be closed-minded.
I have since changed my mind and am now an atheist. I still concede an unlikely possibility that God exists, but think that this possibility is a moot point. I try to live my life as a tolerable human being and the prospect of getting into heaven just doesn’t enter into things.
So how is that working out for me? It’s a mixed bag actually. Now if I really wanted to laud atheism as the single best way to lead an exemplary life, it would help if I were more exemplary. Or willing to lie about it. I’m not very good at either and I have no interest in converting anybody. I certainly can’t claim it has made me a better person. I’m not terrible, mind you. I don’t rape or murder, but that can be said of most people and I don’t expect a gold star for that. I’m just this guy. Overall, I would rate myself on a par with how Douglas Adams so succinctly summed up humanity, “mostly harmless.”
I can’t even say that embracing atheism is a liberating experience. Maybe it would be different if I had an oppressive religious upbringing, but I didn’t. All I have to compare atheism to is agnosticism and they are not all that far apart. Whether God is a no or a who knows, the one who gets on my case over my wrongdoing is guy I see in the mirror. Though I lack the Almighty’s neediness and smiting mojo, I do share his knack passing judgment on my sins long after I can do anything to remedy the problem.
My neurotic corruption of Heinlein’s “Thou art God” is about as close as I’ll ever get to having a spiritual side. I don’t fault other if they have one, mind you. One of my personal heroes, Larry Wall, is a devout Christian. He invented the Perl programming language, which has turned into a source of mental exercise and cash for me coming up on 20 years now. I may not envy Mr. Wall’s faith, but it seems to work well for him.
As for me, I’m content to live out my days as a nonbeliever. Atheism may not bring me any personal enlightenment, but it does comfort me knowing that I shall never have to get up early and go to church.