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Many don’t need religion to have a meaningful life

James Costa’s Nov. 9 My View column exposed what I think is a typical theist viewpoint, predicated on the belief that we all need to search for a paternalistic being or deity to give our lives meaning. His views reinforce a long-held idea that on our own we are incomplete unless we accept a god who makes our understanding of the world and our place in it more comfortable and predictable. Maybe for him this is true, but others disagree. And his comments speak to the very dangerous attitude in this country that marginalizes people who do not participate in a religion’s activity.

Many people derive peace, morality and comfort from the world around them. They have no need for an explanation of the universe in the form of a god figure. I suspect that his final comment, a quote from G.K. Chesterton that says, “When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes in anything,” is his way of casting aspersions on atheists or anyone who rambles through the religious landscape. While we all can feel a sense of emptiness and fear of death, not everyone has to ascribe to religion as the cure. And those who don’t are not incomplete, selfish or immoral because they do not rely on religion to form their spiritual center.

It is a shame that for thousands of years, parents have told their children that they need a supreme being at the center of their lives in order to be happy and fulfilled. Instead they could have told them to be happy within themselves and encouraged them to seek fulfillment, love and morality in the natural world around them. Parents could have nurtured feelings other than the great desire to explain our existence, which the religions and the varied spiritual movements mentioned by the writer have a poor record of doing. Religion can be a beautiful way of enriching life, but it is not the only way.

Dan Bailey

Buffalo