Atheist Devotional

It’s not an empty set joke. It’s an idea that I would love to popularize. How much time does the average religious person spend on religious notions each day? I don’t have sources for the following numbers — they’re all just estimates that seem reasonable to me from what I’ve seen and heard. In other words, terribly unscientific. But please, if you know the numbers, comment and tell me. I would estimate that the average person who thinks of themselves as religious spends about this much time on the following:

    • 5 minutes per meal, praying x 3 meals per day = 15 minutes
    • morning/evening prayer (5 minutes each)  = 10 minutes
    • 2 hours of church, once a week, or an average of about 20 minutes/day

Total : 45 minutes per day

I’m leaving out all the other potential activities (like the ever-popular “family home evening” favored by the Mormons) to get a reasonable estimate. Now. Imagine that each religious person took all that time and did something that would make a measurable change in the world. Suppose they worked an extra 45 minutes and donated the money from that work to human rights organizations. Suppose they learned a new language and taught their children about a different culture. Suppose they wrote a bit of that novel every day. Even just suppose that they took that time to pursue a hobby that makes them happy. One they could just never find the time for. Lace tatting. Spencerian penmanship.

Wouldn’t the world be a much better place? Far from being an angry atheist, I would say that I’m a sad one. As I understand it, religious people have taken what might have been peaceful philosophies full of love and forgiveness and distilled them into an exhortation to hate gay people (but conveniently, not shellfish), discount science, fear and wish for the destruction of others with different beliefs, tell women how to dress & behave, and worst of all, to spread all of this nastiness to their children.

What should this atheist’s devotional be? When I’m around a piano again, it’ll be to master Liszt’s Liebestraume. Though, even if I live to be 208, I’ll never play it as well as Lang Lang:

What’s your devotional?

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