Anjuli makes a good point, one that resonates with what I’ve been saying for years. Atheism is not a loss of something; it’s not about simple disbelief. It is about acquiring a more thorough and accurate and liberating understanding of the nature of the universe.
My atheism is not a loss of any kind and even when I embraced it (at the age of twenty-two), it was most certainly a gain. I conceived of it as gaining control over my own mind, and gaining the freedom to use it as I thought best. I also saw it as an escape from a particularly damaging form of social control. It was significant to me, as a twenty-two year old still settling into my identity, that I no longer had my life parameters set by people I regarded as cruel, stupid and ignorant (though I’ve mellowed somewhat on that front).
I have heard these sentiments so many times from so many people over the years, that accepting atheism was like crawling out of a straitjacket to finally be free, and to see the world with new eyes. And then there are others who shrug and just say that it was nothing, they just stopped believing in a god…and the whole damn culture that propagates god-belief and reality-ignorance at its core? An absence of oppression is not simply something that is, it’s something you have to struggle for. And free thought is more than just the absence of something, it’s a positive in its own right.