My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:2
The two verses cited above are two of many which refer to mans so called longing for God. Often you hear evangelists preach about the so called void or emptiness in ones being that can only be filled by Jesus the Christ. This is the general position of all theists of all sects and denominations regarding their basic beliefs.
Some have gone as far as stating that there is a so called God gene that is built into our DNA that drives us to want and long for the Lord! This is one of the reasons that theists claim that without God (their god in particular) one can never find happiness or fulfillment in this life.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Jesus is made to affirm this by stating that he is life! As a former evangelist and theist I too believed and held this position. I thought in those days that nothing that we could do on this earth would ever fill the so called void in our hearts and our being for God. Some define hell not as a place of fire and brimstone or burning torment but as a place where ones soul is eternally separated from the presence of God.
As an atheist since 1994 till the present I have come to believe that this position is false and not the result of a necessity for God, but rather a result of indoctrination and cultural influence. Many here in the states whether they are practicing believers or not in the Christian deity are taught that he is somewhat of a loving father figure. We are told from youth by family, friends, and even people in positions of authority in our lives such as counselors and school teachers that God is watching over us and that angels protect us from harm etc.
Many people I know today are not practicing believers but claim to believe in God and acknowledge in their behavior that he exists. They wear crucifixes as you would a good luck charm, they bless themselves by doing the sign of the cross before stepping out of their homes every day. They thank the invisible guy in the sky for every small bit of fortune that happens to come their way. They don't do these things because they have carefully studied and considered their Bible's and critically analyzed their belief claims; they do it because they have been indoctrinated to believe.
As you can see by the above definition you don't need a religious authority to teach you about religion. It is the beliefs that we are exposed to in our society and culture that influence how and what we believe in. The fact that many of us are surrounded by the religious and that their position is a majority belief in this country (United States of America) is sufficient proof of indoctrination and not no imagined longing for God in our souls or any other parts of our being.
I found that as an atheist we as individuals are responsible for finding in this life those things that bring us joy and satisfaction. I myself have no need nor longing for the Christian God nor any other god for that matter. I have found through my life and experience as an atheist that this life has many things that can have meaning in our lives.
I find joy in the fact that I have been able to work and provide for my family. The fact that I have two lovely daughters and a grandson and a pain in the ass yet caring wife is enough to make and keep me happy. I don't long for a better world because I have come to the realization that this world and this life is the only one I am going to get. My head is not in the clouds imagining some divine utopia after this life, but rather it is firmly planted on the ground and the reality that is this life.
I love this definition because it is precisely what Christianity teaches: that there is a place where if we are obedient to God and submit to his will in this life we will be happy and abide in a perfect place where all of the failures and maladies of this life will not exist. God will be the ruler and there will no longer be sickness and death but eternal bliss as we rejoice in the presence of God forever. That my friends is the definition of an imaginary place. It doesn't matter if it is a spiritual place somewhere up in the clouds or space or whether it will be here on this earth in what is called in the scriptures "New Jerusalem" this place simply does not exist.
Every once in awhile you will find some bits of fact in the fiction that is the Bible and the following is one of my favorites.
The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Genesis 11:6
That last part is significant "nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them." All it takes is a change of mind, a mental shift to achieve all the things you plan to achieve including happiness. Life is truly what you make of it. If you choose to mope about your circumstances in life and do nothing to get out of them then you will die moping and in utter misery. I've always said that when you have reached rock bottom there is only one way to go and that is up. Or you can choose to remain at the bottom and do nothing to better your situation. You can take a huge hit from life and choose to lay there like a helpless victim or you can get up, brush yourself off, and claw your way out of the hole you find yourself in.
I find that even though I don't have everything I would have wanted out of life that I am happy and I have achieved a lot more than most. I have taken some heavy hits and my life has not been easy. In fact, I should have been just another story of a failed life, a statistic but I have managed to rise above all of that. I've done it with hard work and conscious effort which did not require a god or some spiritual being to guide me. There is no emptiness in my life or sense of something missing I have done and continue to do and make every second of this life count for something positive without gods and ancient myths, rituals, and superstitions, and so can you.
Note: All biblical citations in this post have been taken from the New International Version of the scriptures. All word definitions have come from the online version of the Merriam Webster dictionary.