People feel special for all sorts of reasons. For example...
Ego. "I'm especially good-looking/intelligent/talented/etc. etc."
Love of country. "I'm a citizen of the greatest nation in the world."
Luck. "I won the lottery and now I'm set for life."
Upbringing. "My parents always told me I was special."
But religions are one of the biggest purveyors of specialness. Which makes them especially dangerous. Why? Because feeling special sets us apart from all of those other non-special people who are so obviously inferior.
Of course, the weird thing is that most religions teach that their devotees have a special relationship with God or a higher power. I talked about this in "Why atheists are more 'spiritual' than religious believers."
Maybe this statement seems paradoxical to you: I feel more genuinely spiritual now that I've stopped believing in God.
But it makes good sense to me. Here's the main reason why.
I no longer feel special.
Virtually every religion and spiritual path considers that its adherents have a special relationship with God or whatever other supernatural entity they believe in.
There are so many chosen people on Earth, they vastly outnumber the unchosen, the non-special group I'm pleased to be a part of.
I understand that feeling special has its own delights.
In my case, I was a member of an India-based spiritual organization which taught that those approved for initiation by the guru had been "marked" to return to God/heaven after a karma-cleansing meditation process.
For about 35 years I embraced the enjoyable belief that, out of all the billions of people on this planet, I was one of a relative few who were the special beloveds of the supreme being.
Of course, devout Christians, Jews, and Muslims feel the same way, along with countless believers in other theological belief systems.
Eventually I started to realize that all the talk I was hearing about being "humble servants of the Lord and the guru" was, to put it bluntly, a crock of shit. Genuine humility wasn't much to be seen among devotees of my spiritual organization.
Since members of this group were told over and over that they've been singled out by a higher power to learn cosmic truths and experience realms of reality not available to other human beings, naturally a pervading sense of "tribal" pride was evident throughout the organization.
We were the cool kids in the spiritual lunch room. Other faiths were inferior, since they didn't have the direct connection to God we did.
I'm happy that this form of egotism has been discarded.
Sure, I've still got lots of other self-centered tendencies rattling around in my psyche, as we all do. But to get rid of The Big One, a belief that God had chosen me to be his best buddy for eternity, whereas my infidel wife wasn't going to get the same afterlife prize -- this increased my humility quotient by a lot.
Now I don't expect that I'm going to have any different sort of afterlife anyone else does. Namely, I strongly suspect, none at all.
If you want more motivation to discard a religiosity that is making you feel special, check out some other blog posts I've written on this subject: