Time magazine has once again displayed its zeal for conveying and promoting the most superficial aspects of pop-psychology crap. Peter Watson's online piece "A Church-Shaped Hole in Our Lives" offers no real insights into one of the more common assumptions among many Americans. The "church shaped"/"God shaped hole" phrase that is all too often used as a criticism of atheists is based almost entirely one two ignorance laced assumptions. The more blatant of the two is that all atheists must suffer for a lack of faith. We don't. There is a sizable fractions of atheists who have never had any faith to begin with. How do you miss what you never had and never had any desire for?
The second assumption is potentially more complicated since it carries a few tiny grains of truth. This is not to say that Watson's portrayal of the situation is accurate in anyway. It isn't. According to his very first paragraph:
"One common dilemma today is this: Knowing what we now know — from geology, cosmology and evolutionary biology — many people find it just impossible to believe in any kind of supernatural entity. At the same time, however, many atheists regret no longer having the comforts and psychological benefits that stem from religion."
This is a complete distortion. There are a number of former pastors (ex. Dan Barker) who have written and spoken at length about their transition from being religious to being non-religious. Even though they have admitted that sometimes they miss the comfort and certainty faith gave them they DO NOT regret its absence. For some the transition can be very difficult but that does not mean they are now confronted with a dilemma. Along the same lines it is also notable that the "hole" is not innate. The notion that religion was ever necessary to provide a sense of meaning or community is a complete fabrication. In many ways the "hole" only exists because theists insists it has to. It is debatable that religion in and of itself actually provides all that theists insist it does. I have yet to come across any evidence that the average person cannot find all the "comforts" religion is said offer from other sources.