Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath: Why I'm sick of being an atheist - it can be stressful

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There is nothing in the  Bible  about the day after Jesus' resurrection. Photo / Babiche Martens
There is nothing in the Bible about the day after Jesus' resurrection. Photo / Babiche Martens

There is nothing in the Bible about the day after Jesus' resurrection. Meaning there is no compulsion for religious types to do anything on Easter Monday.

You can relax, feel bad about Jesus or treat yourself to a massive pile of chocolate eggs. It's up to you. For me Easter Monday is a great time to reflect on how boring it is to be an atheist.

My granddad was a minister. My mum read the Bible to me at night. But for some reason - like more than a million other Kiwis - I didn't grow up a believer. People like me will never feel the crucifixion, resurrection or ascension in our souls. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are just some mates we know.

But what can we do? No matter how hard we try we can't force ourselves to believe something we don't. Try this philosophy 101 experiment. Look at your right shoulder. Now concentrate really really hard and make yourself believe there's a takahe sitting on it. You can't. Even with a gun to your head, you couldn't make yourself believe.

Sleep deprivation and mushrooms might get you there but only temporarily. If we could, DoC would be doing it all day, every day.

It is of course much easier to plant seeds of belief in kids. Children have to take on what their parents tell them for their own safety. Don't walk off cliffs, don't put your tongue in the power socket, and there's a nice man watching over you from above. Even then sometimes the seeds of faith don't grow in a child. Sometimes these people grow into annoying preachy atheists like me.

We spend our time loudly quoting Richard Dawkins at Christian friends. We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can't disprove Thor, fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The more atheist literature you read, the more annoyed you get with society. You see through the matrix and start to question the foundations of the system. I started blaming everything on religion, from wars and teenage pregnancy to not being able to buy booze on Christmas day. You feel a deep duty to spread the word that the word is rubbish. It's stressful.

Whether you have the faith or not there's no need to be dick about it.

Atheists can become as annoying and pushy as a Jehovah's Witness at the door.

Recently I was out drinking with a rabidly atheist friend. We came across a choir in Aotea Square. He grabbed a Bible off one of them and started pointing out the dodgy bits like "Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us / He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks," (Psalm 137) and "Do not allow a sorceress to live," (Exodus 22:18). Which was all very well. Those bits are a bit dodgy. But a dude with a massive head of steam up on Sunday arvo probably shouldn't be telling other people how to live their lives. All I wanted was another beer. Instead I got a half-hour altercation with 20 dudes up from Tokoroa for a sing. That was a turning point for me. I came to believe that my mate is a punishing atheist. There are, of course, millions of punishing believers too. The point is this. Whether you have the faith or not, there's no need to be dick about it. You don't know exactly why people are the way they are. So at the very least be nice about things. In the end, if you really believe, then enjoy the smug knowledge that us non-believers won't be making it to heaven.

When my mum died last year I really wished I was religious. It would have been really handy to believe in heaven at that point. I tried. I looked up at the sky. I literally fell to my knees. But I couldn't make myself believe and my mum didn't come back. It was a massive bummer.

So it's Easter Monday again, a great time to reflect on your faith or lack thereof. I'm not happy with the shops being closed but equally I'm sick of being an annoying, ranting, holier-than-thou atheist.

So my Easter resolution is to stop hassling my Christian mates on points of logic.

Instead let's all come together, on common ground, hold hands and enjoy what God has given us so early this year.

A Monday off work.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath is a breakfast radio host on Radio Hauraki, and a television producer, writer and director. He made a name for himself with Back of The Y Masterpiece Television, Balls of Steel UK and the feature film The Devil Dared Me To. Matt was guitarist and singer for the band Deja Voodoo which released two top twenty albums. He is currently a producer on Best Bits, a cricket commentator for The Alternative Commentary Collective, and the director of Vinewood Motion Graphics. Matt is a father of two living in Auckland City.

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