My thoughts on the book, 50 Voices of Disbelief, Why We Are Athiests, edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk. Written as I read them in no particular order. The page number of the essay is provided at the top of each entry.
p. 161 Lori Lipman Brown “Who’s Unhappy?”
Lori is one of the more high profile atheists in the book as the former director of the Secular Coalition for America. As such, she has had some direct confrontations as part of her professional career, not just with priests or her family. Some of them question how she could possibly be happy without God in her life. From her perspective, she looks around at her life as an America and supposes that most of us are happy, what with all we have and are free to do. She makes some general statements on this, perhaps with a little more conviction than I could muster,
“Absent a small number of sociopaths, human beings are fully capable of understanding the need to work co-operatively with others and to strive to do no harm.”
Her work has brought her in contact with theistic people. There are many that want a religiously free country, and understand that includes the non-religious. Of those, she has found that the happiest are the ones who are not terribly concerned about the non-religious. She has worked with organizations such as the Interfaith Alliance and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty to ensure our government remains secular, and found most the people from those groups to be quite happy.
The unhappy ones tend to be the ones with the foul mouths, upset because she doesn’t share their god. One email she received said, “We have religious freedom in this country, so you should leave.” Her analysis of this was similar to the Garrison Keillor statement I posted earlier.
One of the problems these angry believers have is understanding how someone can be happy knowing their existence will end at death. Lori responds in a way that I have also heard from Dale McGowan,
“I wasn’t upset throughout the infinity of time before I was born that I didn’t exist. I won’t lament not existing for the infinity of time after my death that I won’t exist.”
She concludes with a couple paragraphs on all the reasons to take pleasure in everyday life and in being part of a great country in a great time. All in all, she’s pretty happy.