Yesterday my local atheists group met and talked about many different topics. One question a woman asked was something I think most people who give up god and the supernatural have to face. I will paraphrase:
If there is no god, no heaven, no life after death, or no reincarnation what do you replace that with?
In other words there is a comfort that many people find in religion, that they will live after death in some fashion. But when you come to understand that there is no god, then soon after you have to give up this comfortable idea in life after death, that our consciousness survives death and lives on in some other way.
For me, I became an atheist but still believed in reincarnation and the idea that there was some part of us, our soul, that somehow lived on. I was a spiritual atheist. Over time I realized that there is no evidence for a soul or any kind of supernatural and eventually gave it all up. For me, giving up the comfort of the supernatural was much harder than giving up the fear of god. But I had to be honest with myself and rely on science instead of my own fanciful wishes. For me, I didn't really replace the idea of the supernatural and the soul with anything. I just gave it up. If there was an exchange it was reason and science that replaced wishful thinking.
Butch, my husband, was raised catholic. He read Revelations in the bible, about how 144,000 Jews' names are written in the book of life, so that was the limit for heaven. He assumed he'd go to hell. So when he gave up religion and god it was a relief more than anything else.
I know a few atheists that still believe in ghosts and the supernatural. I see the appeal, as I went through that stage myself, but I wonder why we feel the need to cling to such beliefs.
The woman at the meeting asked what do you replace the comfort of life after death with. So I am asking you, my nonbelieving friends. What process did you go through? How did you transition? What did you replace the soul with, if anything? Was it easy for you, or did you struggle?
If you want to reply and it's lengthy, you can email me or leave a comment, whichever you prefer. I'd love to hear your story.