Nothing Happens When You Lose Your Faith July 12, 2010

Nothing Happens When You Lose Your Faith

David Hayward points out how times have changed for atheists:

Has God gotten nicer? Of course not. Hell, Christians today still think you’re going to burn in hell eternally if you don’t buy into their mythology.

The first panel mixes fiction with fear.

The second panel is honest.

Nothing happens when you lose your faith. God doesn’t smite you. The outside world doesn’t change. Your mindset shifts and you look at the world differently (more accurately, atheists would argue).

My only gripe: Why is the guy in the second panel so sad? He lost his faith! That’s a great day in my book 🙂

(via nakedpastor)

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  • I think he’s sad because a change like that can be lonely, particularly if you’ve spent your life in the church. If your support/friend system is entirely within the church (and for many, that’s what you’re told it’s supposed to be), losing your faith can mean losing all of that. Even if people don’t completely abandon you, it’s likely that they’ll treat you different and that can leave you lonely as well.

  • I totally agree with you Hemant. I lost my faith when I was 17 and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Not only had I never been so happy, but everything started to go right in my life.

    And it has pretty much kept going that way ever since 🙂

  • Yeah, leaving your faith can often mean being ostracized.

    As well, you’re no longer “special” under an all-watching, caring, super-parent, i.e. God. That can get pretty lonely when you realize you’re vastly insignificant.

  • Camus Dude

    Noticing this very fact, that nothing happens to those who give up their faith, was an influential fact in my giving up my religious beliefs!

  • Joni

    But- being an atheist- you are ostracized and people treat you differently also… It’s better in my opinion, to be rational and realistic.

  • Aaron

    Maybe he was hoping for a light show. A light show that never came. Just another broken promise. No good lousy God.

  • flawedprefect

    The tactic has changed. Instead of “God with smite you where you stand” the hate towards being blasphemous or not believing has turned into a nervously smug “just you wait until you’re on your death bed. Then it’ll matter”.

  • Rob Honeycutt

    Wow, folks, if you think becoming an atheist will cause you to become lonely and ostracized then you should look a little deeper at your lifestyle. There’s a big beautiful world out there beyond the church! Go find it!

  • >>There’s a big beautiful world out there beyond the church!

    Full of needless death from starvation, disease, violence, and the odd natural disaster 😀

  • phira

    I think the character in the left panel is sad because the phrase “lose your faith” carries the implication that it’s a bad thing to stop believing in something that has no basis in reality.

    It’s fair to say, though, that it can be difficult to transition from being a person who believes in the supernatural aspects of their religion (i.e. a god) to one who doesn’t. When I first started to acknowledge to myself that I didn’t believe in god, it was a little sad. But it was sad in the same way that it was sad when I grew up and had to start coming to terms with the realities of adulthood. There are comforts that you have in childhood that are similar to the ones that religious people have by believing.

    Of course, I’ve found plenty of other comforts by not believing. Much in the same way I can eat candy aaaaall day long as an adult, I can rest easier knowing that I won’t be tortured for all eternity because I refuse to talk to my father, engage in non-marital sex, and don’t accept a dead guy as god.

  • Patrick

    I think maybe he’s meant to look bored. Probably that part of the cartoon should have been split into three or four panels: the guy just standing there, the guy looking at his watch, then just standing there, etc.

  • muggle

    Maybe my bigotry is showing because this one is showing that it’s written by a pastor. I think this cartoon is implying what’s really the new threat: Become an Atheist and you’ll be a misery chick/guy and be unhappy the rest of your life. We’re all depressed, don’t you know?

    Which is, of course, ridiculous! Despite all the bad, there’s still a lot of cool shit. Life is what you make and the only heaven and hell exist right here on earth.

  • Richard P.

    For me, it was the day I thought I had lost the only hope I had to find some happiness. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I didn’t know what to do.

  • Carol B

    I think the day someone “loses their faith,” they probably are sad/lonely/scared/confused/lost. Isn’t it often called a “crisis?” It’s only later (I imagine) that they would feel comfortable, free, confident, happy, able to appreciate the world as it is, etc etc. Then the guy would be doing a little happy dance. 🙂

  • When you lose your faith, depression and confusion can often set in. But when you really never had it to begin with, despite all the indoctrination and proselytizing, it can often be an invigorating and freeing experience to fully accept one’s own atheism (as it was for me). 🙂

  • Brice Gilbert

    Is he actually sad? Or is he indifferent? Someone might say that you are projecting your own worries onto him… kidding.

  • A. P.

    Carol B Says:

    I think the day someone “loses their faith,” they probably are sad/lonely/scared/confused/lost. Isn’t it often called a “crisis?”

    For me, losing my faith was a long process brought about by gaining an education and learning to think for myself. It wasn’t a moment or an event, although I am sure for some it can be that way. The moment that I realized that I did not believe in a god (and admitted it to myself) was a joyous and freeing occasion.

  • Aly Elle

    Why is it even referred to as LOSING faith? I prefer to see it as REJECTING faith, which is very different.

    I was once a very devout christian, yet even then I questioned things and had doubts. However, I was afraid to admit (even to myself) that I was questioning the existence of god. So, in order to compensate for my hidden skepticism, I clung tighter to my faith and became one of those radical christians… until one day I realized that I was living a lie. I didn’t believe ANY of it anymore, and I was tired of faking it– so I rejected it– all of it.

    I stopped believing about 2 years ago, but I still couldn’t say the word “atheist” until May 20, 2010. For me, it WAS liberating, and I feel more at peace and in control of my life NOW than in all my 30+ years.

    BUT– with new atheism does come a feeling of sadness and alienation for some of us. In my case, I’m a Black woman in the Deep South where Christianity is an expectation; I’m almost forced to be closeted here because atheism is not tolerated AT ALL. I’ve already started having problems with Christian co-workers who know, and I’d most likely be disowned by my mom if she knew (she’s a minister). Being Atheist has negatively impacted my social life where I live (especially my dating life), so unfortunately I can relate to the little guy in the picture.

    Thanks to the internet, however, I’m beginning to meet some wonderful, supportive Atheists who are quickly becoming like family!

  • When I lost my faith I was sad and really scared. It took a few years to sort it all out. Now I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole 51 years of life.

  • Fentwin

    I like to think of it as not so much as losing faith as gaining reason.

  • Well, I’d say that the OT was specifically about God’s covenant with Israel. Circumstances were somewhat special. God had revealed himself over and over, and so to deny him was a particularly isidious thing. God continued to intervene by smiting them, mostly because they would have destroyed everything being built by God. Even then, God intervened only sporadically. The Bible is a record of God’s intervention in human affairs, so it appears that God intervenes far more than he actually does. There are many Psalms speaking of the evil people that flourished, praying for God to bring them low.

  • Alz

    God used to lash out in anger, now he is just passive-aggressive.

  • YAA:

    When you lose your faith, depression and confusion can often set in.

    Yeah, as long as you’re still describing it as “losing faith,” it is a scary time. But “losing faith” in things that promise happiness, but don’t make sense, makes room for “finding confidence” in things that may not result in happiness, but will eventually make sense.

  • AxeGrrl

    Aly Elle wrote:

    Being Atheist has negatively impacted my social life where I live (especially my dating life), so unfortunately I can relate to the little guy in the picture.

    I’d say that it’s the ignorance/prejudice/lack of tolerance on the part of the people around you that has negatively affected your life, not you being an atheist.

    (some might see that as a quibble, but I think it’s an important distinction)

  • ichbinmich

    according to the religion I belive in, refusing to talk to your father and engaging in non-marital sex will NOT send you to hell and being merry/eating candy is in fact encouraged. I think many people are atheist because they have that kind of view on religion.

    Also, the second panel is sad because he has disconnected himself from a very large community, which can be very lonely, although I believe being not a reason not to hang out and be friends with someone, and in fact Jesus himself sat and “consorted” with heathens and the like. see Matthew 9:10-12

  • Daniel

    I can relate to the sad guy a lot. God withdrawal is a real bitch. Fortunately, it doesn’t last long…at least it didn’t for me.

    As for the idea of an afterlife…I purposely don’t listen to any arguments against an afterlife, because I don’t feel that I can handle the idea of no afterlife. I’m reminded of Insane Clown Posse’s song “Miracles”, specifically the lyrics “I don’t want to talk to a scientist”, referring to how magnets work.

    The singer doesn’t want his illusion of how magnets work to die. He knows, deep down, that they aren’t magical, and that magic doesn’t exist, but he doesn’t want his belief to die. He NEEDS his magic magnets, just like I need my magic afterlife.

  • fritzy

    Good point AxeGrrl–being an atheist has not impacted Aly’s social life–being surrounded by closed-minded bigots has–this is a very important distinction. The pain is pretty much the same either way though.

    Also Aly, if I’ve learned anything about people specificually and faith in general in the past 38, I would hazzard to guess that a great many people with very dogmatic beliefs are that way because they are indeed reacting against their own doubt, just like you were. The venom that many faithful have towards atheists is born out of a fear of their own doubts–doubts that are brought to the surface simply by the existance of atheists–“If she can be an atheist, what stops me from becoming one?”

    Hang in there. You sound a like a smart, caring woman. Simply make it clear to anyone that brings up the subject that you are OK with their faith and have no desire to “deconvert” them. Religion is a very personal thing and you have no desire to make your beliefs theirs

  • fritzy


    Or it’s all bronze-age mythological oral tradition. Certainly makes a lot more sense that way and saves anyone from having to fish for “answers” that are anyone’s guess.

    But if you want to believe your loving and merciful god used to strike his (seemingly arbitrarily) “choosen people” dead when he could have been more clever and simply confused them, or offered more convincing arguments for why they should listen to him, rather than killing them “for their own good,” so be it. It’s your mythology to play with as you see fit.

  • Meh! I’ve never had a faith to lose but others have often expressed how it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off them. Often like they are free from having to carry around all that baggage or head full of contradictions. Sounds about right but I wouldn’t know.

  • SlickNinja

    Now that I’ve been an atheist nearly two decades, I’d draw the panel of me, pondering but with a wry smirk.

    If I had drawn that last panel when I was in 6th grade it’d been an unhappy guy when my atheism was cemented.

    Notably at that age, you’re simply ill-prepared mentally for all the implications of atheism, but I wasn’t really religious. I can image the feeling would be the same for someone whose identity was wrapped up in church/religion. Give it a few years and he’ll be smiling again.

  • SickoftheUS

    Assuming these are the only choices in a situation, would you rather be

    a.) happy and wrong


    b.) unhappy and right?

    Your answer determines a lot of things.

  • think the guy looks more bored than anything else, although i dont usually try to serch for a deeper meaning for cartoons such as that 😛

  • Robin

    I’m with the folks for whom it was not sad or crisis-like, but more like when you figure out some difficult and challenging concept. For me, it was a joyful experience.

  • I don’t think he’s sad, it looks like he’s pondering, maybe thinking, “I’ve lost my faith and nothing bad happened. Hmmm.”

  • Christophe Thill

    I personnally disapprove of the use of the phrase “to lose one’s faith”. Faith is not something that you possess and that you can “lose” (as if it was a material object). You don’t “lose” it more than you “lose” your taste for heavy metal or sweet foods or flowery shirts. It’s a worldview. You swith from it to another one.

  • cassiek

    As I was never indoctrinated into any religion, I really have no frame of reference for “losing faith.” However, as I watch the people around me try to contort the world to fit their mythology, it seems to be a burden one would be glad to shed.

  • plutosdad

    He is also looking up, maybe blaming god, maybe in this case faith is the original “trust” definition and not “belief” The NakedPastor is not an atheist AFAIK just struggling with certain issues.

    Anyway, I was rather lucky in that I left the church several years before I became an atheist, so I had my social structure replaced already, I no longer had friends who condemned me for questioning. And I didn’t intellectually accept atheism until I had emotionally accepted it, so though it took about 5+ years of study it was a smooth and slow transition, and when I finally truly accepted there was no god, it was one of the best days of my life.

  • Aly Elle

    @AxeGrrl – Yes, seeing it that way DOES make a difference– thank you for pointing that out! The problem isn’t me or what I’ve chosen not to believe, rather it’s small-minded people and their bigotry, as fritzy has so perfectly named it.

    @fritzy – You are so very right about fear being the source of their “venom.” Just yesterday a Christian decided to challenge me and foolishly used a few “feel good” scriptures from the bible as the basis for her argument. Poor thing had no idea how extensively I’ve studied the bible on a graduate school level (I was once enrolled in divinity school). Atheists always seem to know more about the bible than theists do, but the assumption is that we know nothing, hence our non-belief. But, I quickly shut her down by pointing out NUMEROUS contradictions and inconsistencies in her own bible (quoting scriptures from memory), and by asking her the hard questions about the biblical flaws and about her god as she believes him to be based on that flawed book. When she couldn’t answer my questions, she got extremely upset and resorted to calling me a demon! It was so ridiculous that it was actually funny! I knew right away that her reaction was based on her own insecurities and because she felt her faith was being threatened.

    I’m not a militant atheist and I’m certainly not trying to change what anybody believes. I’m a counselor, so I know faith has helped a lot of people pull through tough times and I’d hate to be responsible for taking away that coping mechanism. However, if I’m repeatedly questioned or challenged, I’m going to “bring it” so I always warn believers not to have the “god-is-real-and-here’s-why” discussion with me… unless they are willing to risk having seeds of doubt planted in their minds.

  • As for the idea of an afterlife…I purposely don’t listen to any arguments against an afterlife, because I don’t feel that I can handle the idea of no afterlife.

    This is so interesting to me because I’ve never believed in an afterlife. I can’t even imagine believing in something like that, to be honest. It seems to me that virtually all atheists instantaneously denounce hell, yet a not insignificant number of atheists waffle on heaven. Even going to the point of being okay with promoting heaven to their young children, with the expectation that they will eventually “grow out of it.” It’s a curious state of affairs.

  • muggle

    SickoftheUS, definitely: unhappy and right.

    That said, I hate “The Matrix” but that’s because I found it overwhelmingly religious and it amazes me that so many Atheists rave about that movie. I much prefer “The Truman Show” where he leaves on his own instead of being led around by the nose seeking an oracle. Just walks out of the fake into the real without knowing what awaits him there. Cool.

  • Colin

    Obviously he’s a little sad at the realization he’s wasted the best years off his life. Or because he’s realized what a fool he’s been. Our how much much money he’s given to an evil organization. Or what he’s condemned his children too. That’s got to be hard.

  • Rajeshmaharaj442

    God and his/her existence  is purely what men over centuries have chopped and changed texts and scriptures to suit his own selfish ill gotten gains. Gains? may have been monetery or power to wield over the masses like a kid wielding his Dads firearm. Each man/ woman has an inner raging battle with both GOD and the DEVIL., what if they were both one and the same? Did anyone ever ask themselves this question, we take take the texts to be law, texts which have been written and re written since Moses recieved the commandments and this too by men who have been dissolved by the sands of time. Battles have been fought in the name of an ” ALMIGHTY” an entire race of people nearly exterminated in the second world war because some belived them to be dear to GOD. It didn’t take a GOD to vanquish this evil menace….. no it took three men and one of them being the DEVIL incarnate himself , I am in fact refering to Churchill, Rooseveldt and ofcourse the DEVIL himself Stalin. Must say it took GOD a long six years to finally have mercy on the people of the world and that too after all that death. Faith in GOD should be every individuals own private affair and not be made believable becuse of texts and religious dogma written by men long dead in centuries gone by. So GOD is not  going to stop the TERRORISTS, CHILD RAPISTS/DRUG TRAFFICKERS and DICTATORS because of us having faith or not.

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