People who don’t believe in religion face all the big questions of the universe alone. Not knowing those answers can be scary, and searching for them can be daunting. The existential crisis you uncover when you remove the Band-Aid of religion can consume a lot of time thinking and worrying. The fear of that burden drives many people into the arms of religion, which promises easily accessible and authoritative answers.
Granted, there are psychological benefits to believing in Christianity, but it also comes loaded with a whole new set of contrived sources of worry that eat up irreplaceable time in the lives of believers that non-believers simply don’t have to worry about, freeing up a lot of time over the course of their lives to devote to answering life’s questions, growing or just enjoying life. Here is a list of things Christians have to worry about that non-believers don’t.
1: Going to Hell
Christianity tells you that it will give you closure over the issue of death by promising you eternal bliss in Heaven. However, it also introduces you to the existence of Hell, which is where people who don’t believe in the right interpretation of the Bible spend eternity after they die. It’s supposedly worse than the worst place imaginable, and every human being deserves to go there to be tortured for eternity. But even after you get saved, you still have to spend the rest of your life knowing that you deserve to go to Hell. And you keep reaffirming how much you deserve to burn in Hell by constantly breaking Yahweh’s schizophrenic rules. So the threat of eternal damnation looms over your head for the rest of life. That’s a traumatic fear to instill into someone. It’s a recipe for deep-rooted anxiety, and the worst thing about it is that the source of this fear isn’t based on reality.
2: Being unworthy, despicable scum
The Bible teaches that you’re a worthless piece of scum who isn’t fit to live in order to convince you that you need to believe that you need to be saved. Not only do you have to worry about what’s going to happen to you after you die, but you also have to worry about the fact that right here, right now, you are a flawed, horrible, disgusting, unworthy, pathetic, worthless scumbag who deserves to burn in Hell for eternity. Christians have to carry the shame of their lack of self-worth with them through the rest of their life. This shame will nag at them and pull them down relentlessly. Every second spent thinking about this is a waste of time and an insult to the grandeur and beauty of life.
3: Loathing pleasure, fighting temptation and feeling guilty for “failure”
Sometimes Christians can distance their mind from the abusive message of self-loathing that the Bible teaches by focusing on the contradicting message that God loves us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins. However, the Bible also teaches that doing pretty much anything that makes us feel good is evil, sinful and shameful.
This fact is particularly harmful because our brains and bodies are designed to feel these emotions. We were designed (by whatever or whoever created us) with these feelings to motivate us to increase our chances of survival and maybe even enjoy ourselves a little. We can’t turn these bodily functions off. Trying to do so will only result in increased levels of anxiety. And when the anxiety reaches a breaking point we end up doing drastic, irresponsible things (as any child-raping priest can attest to). Most Christians don’t rape children, but all Christians have to wrestle with the shame of feeling the things their bodies naturally tell them to feel, and they have to wrestle with the shame of failure when they inevitably give into their bodies’ natural desires. This is a waste of irreplaceable time and thoughts.
4: Making amends for non-existent crimes
Since the Bible has set Christians up for failure by placing impossible demands on them that conflict with their bodies’ natural design, Christians are doomed to feel like failures. It’s only natural to want to make amends for disappointing God. Inevitably, many Christians have adopted masochistic ways of punishing themselves. Early Christians adopted the practice of flagellation, where they beat themselves with leather straps. The much acclaimed Mother Teresa didn’t beat herself, but she worshipped suffering and lived a life of self-imposed exile from any physical comforts of joys in life. Christians who “celebrate” Lent pick something they enjoy and force themselves to live without it for a few months. Each Christian must find their own way to make amends for the crimes the Bible teaches them they’re committing, and every one of those self-imposed punishments degrades their quality of life for no reason that’s based in reality.
Since the Bible teaches that everyone deserves to go to Hell and the only way to avoid this fate is to believe in the salvation story of Jesus, Christians are burdened with the responsibility of evangelizing. Many Christians have argued that The Great Commission officially orders all Christians to evangelize. Some Christians have argued whether that’s what The Great Commission really meant, but at any rate, Christians should want to save the people they love, which should be everybody. In addition to the emotional trauma that this responsibility inflicts, it takes a lot of time and energy. Every second you spend evangelizing is an irreplaceable opportunity to grow and enjoy life for what it really is that you squandered. Every second you spend engaging other people in conversation about your mythology is irreplaceable time you’re taking away from both of your lives. That time could be better spent engaging with problems that actually exist.
To make matters worse for Christians, non-believers don’t want to hear about how Jesus died on the cross for our sins because that story isn’t true. So Christians have to struggle to balance their desire to save people and their desire not to create socially awkward situations. Most Christians more or less keep the story of salvation to themselves and accept that everyone around them is doomed to the darkest, blackest, most evil place in all of existence forever. Their failure to save their loved ones saddles them with varying degrees of guilt. But 100% of that guilt wasn’t necessary, and non-believers are free to live life without that weight on their shoulders.
6: Everyone else going to Hell
The Bible teaches to love everyone, and it also teaches that everyone is so evil that they deserve to spend the rest of eternity being horrifically tortured unless someone tells them the magic salvation story that will save their soul. Christians have to spend their lives surrounded by people who they believe are destined for eternal torture and will be missing out on Paradise. Even if you wasted your entire life evangelizing you still wouldn’t be able to save everyone. If you truly loved everyone you should spend the rest of your life eaten up with guilt over this fact. If you’re not then you must have found some method of cognitive dissonance to convince yourself how you’re not responsible for the deaths of your loved ones. This emotional trauma and the mental gymnastics you have to use to diffuse this anxiety are all senseless.
7: The Bible gives you reason to dislike others
The Bible says that you should love everyone, but it also says that anyone who doesn’t follow the teachings of Jesus is so wicked that they deserve to be tortured forever. In addition to all the other negative repercussions of this double standard that have already been mentioned, it also sets up Christians to dislike and even hate people who reject the teachings of Jesus.
It would take an entire library of books to cover all the historical incidents where Christians have persecuted homosexuals, fornicators, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, heavy metal bands, and every other group of people in the world who aren’t Christians. Sure, you could argue that the Bible says you’re not supposed to do that, but that’s what happens when you teach one group of people that they’re God’s chosen people and everyone else is demonic scum. Even if you choose not to persecute others, you still have to spend time doing mental gymnastics convincing yourself to love people who God has deemed worthy of death and trying to distance yourself from all the Christians who do persecute sinners and non-believers.
8: Trying to make sense of the Bible’s teachings
The Bible is full of passages that contradict each other, contradict science and history, glorify violence and injustice or just don’t make any sense at all. The few Christians who bother reading the entire Bible and take it seriously face a monumental task of trying to make sense of all its absurdities. How could this really be the word of God? How do you explain inconvenient passages to non-believers? Which rules do you apply to your own life and which do you ignore? How do you justify ignoring some passages?
The truth is that it’s impossible to find coherent, unifying answers to these questions because the Bible is a chaotic collection of speculations, stories, rules, philosophies, and opinions written by hundreds of different individuals who lived in different cultures over the course of thousands of years. The only coherent, unifying explanation that makes sense of all the Bible’s teachings is that it’s a work of primitive mythology. Christians who can’t accept that fact must spend the rest of their life doing mental gymnastics trying to make sense of an incomprehensible book that conflicts with common sense and modern values. This is a futile endeavor that will only yield anxiety.
9: Talking to God and waiting/looking for an answer
Christians tend to spend an incredible amount of time praying to God seeking answers to life’s questions, but prayer doesn’t work. It’s nothing more than talking to yourself, and if you do it enough you’ll get an answer, but that answer will be one that you came up with yourself and that you’ll have to make sense of yourself. Sure, you can answer your own questions, but it would be far more effective to ask these questions like a scientist using a tried-and-true method of intellectual inquiry instead of cultivating a split personality or imaginary friend that you have schizophrenic conversations with.
At any rate, why would you have a conversation with an omniscient being who already knows everything and is actively shaping the world according to its inconceivable genius? Prayer should seem even more futile to Christians than to non-believers. Use the gifts God gave you to do what’s in your power to do instead of wasting time mentally masturbating.
10: Explaining how God works in mysterious ways
Your prayers will never be answered by anyone but you. However, sometimes things will work out in your life in a way that seems like your prayers have been answered. However, even if that immaculate event never happened, something else would have, and that thing would have seemed like God answering your prayers. More often than not though, nothing will happen, and you’ll have to explain to yourself why nothing happened.
Many times, horrible things will happen to you and to other people, and you’ll have to explain to yourself why God would let horrible things happen to you or anyone else. When reality doesn’t fit your expectations like this you end up telling yourself, “Well, God just works in mysterious ways.” So basically, whenever something you want to happen happens, you tell yourself “God answered my prayers.” When something you didn’t want to happen happens, you tell yourself, “Well, God works in mysterious ways.” This is textbook cognitive dissonance. This is mentally unhealthy and unproductive. Your thoughts would be better spent actually solving problems yourself and not doing mental gymnastics. In fact, the only way problems ever do get solved is by people solving them. So by praying and waiting you become the reason nothing ever gets done.
11: Justifying to yourself how you can live such a luxurious lifestyle and still call yourself a Christian
Jesus repeatedly stressed the importance of living a life of austerity. In Matthew 19:21 he said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven.” Yet the chances of you ever finding a single Christian who has given away all of their money is basically zero. Christians will give you mind-bending excuses for why they don’t have to follow the repeated instructions in the Bible that say to give away your possessions and live a life of poverty, but that’s just yet another example of how Christians have to waste their time and thoughts trying to find creative ways to bridge the gap between reality and fantasy.
12: Giving money to the church
You won’t find any Christians who have given away everything they own, but it’s easy to find Christians who give menial donations to churches. The vast majority of that money will be spent building and decorating churches or padding the bank accounts of clergymen. If all of that money was given directly to the poor there would be no poverty or homelessness. Even if every Christian had just kept that money for themselves they could have lived more fulfilling lives and passed more money to their descendants to build a better life with…. just like non-believers do.