Are We All Closeted Atheists?

Due to some recent health scares, mortality and spirituality has been at the forefront of my thinking lately. Personally this comes from a Catholic perspective, but I feel as though it transcends any kind of religious or spiritual category.

Although not overly involved in the Catholic Church, I consider myself a religious person. I am by no means a perfect Christian girl. I drink too much, have premarital sex, and swear like a sailor. That being said, I always felt very sound in my faith regardless of how closely I followed doctrine. To me, spirituality was about leading a life of peace. As long as my actions help those around me or at the very least don’t harm anyone, I feel as though I have lived well. Mass serves as a time for reflection and meditation. Beyond the ritualistic aspects of organized religion, prayer is a big part of my life especially as I struggle through my eating disorder.

Basically, I believe God is a substantial part of my conscious life. I was taught that eternal salvation was the supposed end goal of leading a religious life. The idea that you live on forever in some way or another is definitely a tempting offer in exchange for leading a moral life. As a child it was nice to imagine that Grandma went to heaven, but my eternal life was not in question so I put little thought into the issue until recently.

While I consciously believe in God, hearing a doctor say that your heart could potentially fail within the next five years would jar anyone’s faith. Suddenly my subconscious mocked me with the notion that I could die before 25 and that would be it. Because really, where is the scientific proof that an afterlife exists? Not even scientific proof, but any kind of viable evidence that our soul or what have you lives on. Where is it anywhere in the history of the world?

Suddenly my prayers felt unanswered. There was a silence in the universe. On the one hand I felt alone, like there really was no higher power hearing my worries. That everyone simply dies and goes into the ground and is no longer relevant. On a physical level, our energy is reused and our children live on. But really, if I’m dead that gives me zero solace. Then I felt rather guilty, like God giving me the cold shoulder because I doubted its existence.

After much thought, I am left unsure about the future, but also very content with the present. I don’t really believe in heaven or any afterlife for that matter. With that said I continue to practice Catholicism because it makes me a better person and makes me happy. “Living in the now” has subsided my anxiety for the most part so I can focus on the life I am guaranteed. But I still wonder how anyone can truly believe in an afterlife. If they do, I am incredibly jealous. How do you overcome that inner doubt? Or is it something we choose not to think about until it becomes something we can no longer ignore? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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