Why I was Depressed as an Atheist
by Matt Rawlings
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… [laughs] Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain… Time… to die.”
-Blade Runner (1982)
I was challenged by an atheist on Facebook to defend my statement in another post (“How Apologetics Saved My Faith“) as to why I was depressed as a skeptic. He stated he has had nothing but a wonderful life as a nonbeliever.
I was going to answer but it was clear from his tone with other people on the thread that he really wasn’t interested in a true conversation. I have made it a spiritual discipline to ignore those on social media who clearly just want to fight instead of dialogue. But it is still a fair question and here is the answer:
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When I was an atheist, I was smart enough to know that if I was right, life had no meaning whatsoever. I remember watching the sci-fi classic Blade Runner on video as a teenager and near the end the dying character played by Rutger Hauer said, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain… Time… to die.” I knew that if there is no afterlife that Hauer’s character was right.
I ran away to Hollywood as a teenager with the hopes of making great art while also earning fame and fortune. But what I learned coming from a small town to the movie capital of the world is that I could have made the next Citizen Kane and within a generation only a handful of people would have known about it. Eventually, of course, few if anyone would have known about it and then, of course, at some point, the sun goes red giant and BAM. Gone. Everything I had ever done would disappear like tears in the rain.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was often having a good time. Frankly, I had a lot of casual sex, access to elite circles, a top tier education, and the opportunity to direct a music video. Later, after I left L.A. and entered politics, I went to Capitol Hill where I drafted and whipped legislation and much more but I still felt empty. Why? Because I needed a constant supply of accolades, opportunities and affirmations to ward off the shadow of ultimate meaninglessness…
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