Are You Happy Without God?

A friend told me about a billboard along a local freeway, which reads:  “Are you happy without God in your life?  Millions are.”

I found this question (and the fact that someone paid thousands to advertise it) so intriguing that I went online searching for the group that might have sponsored it.  I’m not sure but it might have been one of the groups on www.experienceproject.com, which asks visitors to add their experience to the list of “I Am Happy Without God in My Life” stories.  Perusing the stories gave way to thoughts about the question.  Is it possible for a person to be truly happy without God?

Yes and no.  Certainly there are millions of people who believe they are very happy and content living their lives without God.  I have met many and attest that this is so.  But from a Christian perspective, there are a couple of issues to deal with here.  First, is anyone really living a life without God?  The Bible says that whether we realize it or not, God created all of us and holds our lives in the palm of His hand.  Additionally, God gives sunshine and rain to the earth, which enable life in all its forms.  James 1:17 tells us that “every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights,” without respect for whether a person is a believer or not.  While I’m sure atheists and many agnostics would disagree, I do not believe anyone on earth is truly living without God.

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is Ecclesiastes 3:11:  “God has placed eternity in the hearts of man.”  Blaise Pascal elaborated on this idea with this quote from his Pensees: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?  This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and unchangeable object; in other words by God himself.”  But perhaps no one said it as simply or eloquently as Augustine in his well-known prayer, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”  There is a deep inner part of our being that longs for, and can only be filled with God.

Another issue is perspective.  I’ve heard the analogy that living without God is like looking at the back wall of a cave while a parade goes by near the mouth of the cave, and thinking that the shadows you see of the parade – reflected by the sunlight on the back of the cave – is the actual parade itself.  From this perspective, the parade would be flat and colorless in comparison to the real thing, but if that was all you ever saw, it would probably seem quite lovely.  Am I saying that a life without God is flat and colorless compared to living life with God?  Yes, I suppose I am.

What would a world without God really look like?  No one really knows (in my opinion) because God is still very much immersed here.  There is a lot of debate these days about whether there is a literal hell, and while I do believe in such a place (or dimension), Biblical imagery does not provide a clear description.  But one thing is for sure, a world without God – a world without goodness and love – would be a living hell.  Whatever hell is, it is a place of misery if for no other reason than God is absent.

Most interesting to me, on the Experience Project website, were the minimal stats presented, presumably telling what percentage of the polled population were happy without God:

52% in their teens
11% in their twenties
16% in their thirties

Kind of hard to see a trend here, but it doesn’t surprise me that over half the teenage population polled stated they are happy without God.  Teens are often living on the edge, pushing the limits, without a clue of how miserable their lives really are!  Or they are truly in a happy place, buoyed by loving family and friends and great school experiences.  Only when they reach their 20s do they discover the more challenging aspects of life and what is expected of them…no wonder the percentage plummets.  The slight rise in the 30s may mean people are somewhat happier in the peak of their careers and child-bearing and child-rearing years.  But I wonder how the percentages would change as people age past the empty nest years and the elderly years beyond?  My guess is that like my dyed-in-the-wool atheist father, they too will start to wonder about the meaning of life, and contentment will wain as doubts about their long-held beliefs and fears about death and eternity set in.

Are people happy without God?  I welcome an honest dialog.

7 comments on “Are You Happy Without God?

  1. i would be very happy without god, why because i’m sick of god present now, god follow me around everywhere i go, i never lived one day of the life my mother gave me not god, i can hear him he say to the angel he can’t get me to please him i feel abuse by god and hurt, how would you feel when someone is chasing after you and you don’t want them near you, the more he try to come close to me the more it forces me away, i don’t love god anymore i use to, but because he abused his right as god then i’m lost, i did nothing to god for him to abuse me, but what do you do when your human right is abuse by god for his will, i have a right to live as a human with freewill and without been abuse by god wwill, but in my case i feel i’ve been abused by god becuase i wouldn’t please him, i don’t have to please him it my god given right, so for god to abuse his right as god is a crime on my human right.

    i wish god and his angel would leave me a lone that would make me happy.

    • Hi Richard, I wanted to write in response to your comment to my blog post and tell you that I care that you feel abused by God and desire for Him to leave you alone. The Bible speaks of a loving God who gave His son Jesus to pay the price for our sins, and for our salvation, but I recognize that not everyone experiences this kind of a loving relationship. I hope it is okay if I pray for you, for safety and peace and joy.

  2. Maybe it’s bible believers who have the delusion condition that there is a God. Do you believe everything your read to be true? Not everyone believes in the Christian version of God. Many people are simply spiritual who feel connected to one another through however the universe came to be. It isn’t necessarily a supreme external being.

    • Pauline,
      Remember that the billboard with the question of being happy without God came from an organization of atheists, without which I am not sure the question would have come to mind. Besides, the vast majority of people on earth believe there is a God/god, so it is not just Christians. The concept of spirituality without faith (being more in touch with self and connected with others) is relatively new…practically-speaking it has only become popular in the last 35-50 years. The Biblical premise is that the God introduced in Genesis 1:1 has been and is very active in this world, whether people realize it or not. The gist of my blog post is that people living without a personal connection with this God are most likely not even aware that life can be remarkably fuller, richer and deeper. Instead of criticizing those who value a relationship with God, you might be surprised by joy to join forces with some famous atheists who looked into the Bible in order to disprove its contents, only to find the gem of truth inside.

  3. As I sit here writing in a journal with the intentions that my 3yr old son will someday read this I had a thought or rather a question of whether someone could truly be happy without God. Man loves to allow deception in there lives. Somehow it makes us feel more comfortable. But there is always those moments and lots of them where you stop for a second….you bow your head…and leave your current state of mind…and wonder, “am…I….happy?” “Without God”…there is no such thing but there is an absence of a relationship with Him and no…you are not happy. Anyways, thank you for your entry. I very much enjoyed reading it and I do believe I may take what I have typed here and make it my second entry in my journal.

    Bruce L. Berry,
    God bless.

  4. I say that people cannot be truly happy without God. If they think they are, it’s simply a delusional condition resulting from enormous human pride and stubborn-ness. We are not of ourselves anything at all. Every good thing does come from our Creator and He alone is the source of real love and happiness. Humans who try to acquire happiness without God may appear to have it, but it is as short-lived as the human body, at most. Only Christ can lead us to His Kingdom and eternal happiness that is not of this world. To think we can acquire that on our own is just plain vain and dumb.

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