Not all religious people are guilty of this (it is more common among the fundamentalist Christian variety), but I frequently hear something like the following:
"True happiness is only possible through god. If you don't believe as I do, it isn't possible for you to have real joy and peace in your life."
Ministers often warn their flocks that if they ever consider leaving the fold, they will be condemned to a life of darkness, with weeping and gnashing of teeth. Any happiness they think they have will be temporary at best, and in the end they will only experience bitterness and hatred.
So is it possible for the agnostics/atheists among us to have true happiness?
In my experience, the answer is yes In fact, I am more at peace, more integrated, more loving, and more joyful now than I ever was as a believer. It has been seven years since I left the fold, so maybe not enough time has passed?
One thing I've discovered is that having a sense of my own mortality has motivated me to make the most of every day, and cherish the people in my life. I used to take all of that for granted, assuming that I would be with my loved ones forever anyway. Life has taken on a deeper richness, I am less judgmental of others, and the simple values of love, honesty, and courage are inherently worthwhile, without needing to believe that I will go to hell unless I practice them.
I'm curious how my fellow agnostics/atheists feel about this. Are you angry and bitter yet? Do you have any love, meaning, or fulfillment in your life without needing to believe in a god?