As an atheist, the proverbial void is something that I hear about quite often. In fact, it’s also something that I’ve dealt with. But before reading the first three sentences of this blog and thinking I’m proving the religious point of view, please read on.
Many people, namely religious ones, talk about a certain void they felt before choosing to follow their particular faith. They say it felt as though there was a hole in their hearts before coming to Christ, Buddha, Joseph Smith, Muhammad, Krishna or whomever their prophet of choice, or deity of choice. As an atheist, I felt that void as much as anyone. In fact, in my younger years, before I reached the age of reason, I was always trying to find something new to fill that void.
I dabbled with many religions as a young person. I tried Christianity, Wicca and numerous other pagan faiths, and even Satanism and Luciferianism. But in the end, while some of these did help the void temporarily, they didn’t fill it. I was always so confused as to why such faith in deities, after-lives and other superstitions never quite filled that void.
When I was 16, my grandmother died. I was closer to her than I was to any member of my family, including parents. She was an incredible woman in every meaning of the word. She was caring, giving, honest – even too much so at times. She was as close to a real saint as anyone could ever have the pleasure of knowing.
Shortly after her death, I found myself in a struggle. I didn’t want to even ponder the thought of never seeing her again. I just KNEW there had to be something after this life that would reunite us. There must be something more to the body than its mere physicality. There must have been more to her personality than just a brain being kept alive by electrons, impulses and chemical messengers from the body. It was then that I rediscovered Wicca to help me through it, but it didn’t. Nothing helped me through this. It was then that the truth hit me – did I really want my grandmother floating around in some lonely invisible form forever, just waiting for us to be reunited? Absolutely not.
From this point, many other truths finally came to me. I realized that what I was doing by sauntering from religion to religion was only temporarily finding answers to questions that there really aren’t answers for. I found that I was preventing myself from coming to the last stage of grieving, which is acceptance. And more than anything, I realized that by trying to fill the void inside of me with religion and spirituality, I was doing nothing more than preventing myself from facing the real issue at hand.
You see, when you attempt to fill that void in all of us with things like superstition, we’re doing nothing more than what an alcoholic does when he/she uses alcohol to distract from his/her emotions. If there is a void in all of us, then maybe that means we’re all meant to do something bigger than we’re doing. This void shouldn’t be bandaged with religion or faith, it should be filled with things like love, companionship, charity and any other cause that naturally gives us all a feeling of wealth, accomplishment or just overall happiness.
This void that we all know is not something that can be patched, it must be dealt with. And there are many causes of it. We, as man, are a natural pack animal, and must act in kind. We need companionship, and that companionship cannot be fixed theistically. There must be a tangible solution in order for that void to be filled. Because when we just slap the theistic bandage upon our voids, we’re doing nothing more than I did as a child.
We’re answering those complicated questions with absurd and simplistic answers. When in truth, these complicated questions have driven most of our greatest scientific and human achievements. Our need for exploration, our need to know if we’re the only life in the universe, our need to keep rigorously researching to understand more about human evolution and the origin of life.
We’re closing off that which is most important in life. Our friends, our family and our companions are the most important people in the universe to us. And by filling that hole with an invisible friend, we’re shutting out the possibilities of finding real life companions with whom we should be sharing our lives.
More than anything, as we’ve seen in this recent health care bill, we’re putting a bandage on a problem that needs to be ripped out at the roots. A temporary fix that just appears to make a person feel better is not the final solution. In reality, it’s not even a temporary one, as it will only act as an agent of deceit.
As an atheist at 28 years old, I no longer have that hole or that void. Is it because I found God? No. Isn’t it ironic and to the point, though, that no matter which god a person finds, they seem to fill that hole? Is it because I found some sort of spirituality that fills the void for me? Well, I do tend to look at the universe as a whole in a spiritual light, but that spiritual perspective can be summed up by saying, “Wow, this pond is so beautiful on it’s own, why does it need magic, spirits, gnomes, elves or gods to make it anything other than what it really is?” Is it because I’ve found some sort of magical cure for the void? Well, no. I found what was there from the beginning. The love of a family, the adornment of friends, and more than anything, a loving and trusting relationship with a woman with whom I plan to share the rest of my life.
You see, that’s what people need. I’ve ended quite a few blogs by quoting the words of John Lennon, but more often than not, it’s from his solo song “Imagine”. However, I’m going to end today’s sentiment with an earlier Beatles song, wherein the main chorus line proposes a much more tangible and realistic meaning to life, and that is, “All you need is love.” And with love is the void filled.