DISCLAIMER: THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE PURELY MY OWN AND THE AWESOME THING ABOUT OPINIONS IS WE ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE THEM AND EXPRESS THEM AS WE SEE FIT .
Erin the Atheist back for round two. The air is a-buzz with anticipation, I can tell.
Today’s heavy sigh-inducing topic is death.
The other day at work, one of my co-workers received a pamphlet from a patient about death. This pissed me off for a number of reasons: 1) soliciting any sort of material is forbidden, so…get the fuck out of here. 2) Actually, the first reason is the only reason. Unless you’re handing out pamphlets on a new invasive cardiology procedure, just don’t bother. The only reason I kept the dumb thing was because I was incredulous by the subject, which I will of course share and you can join me in going, “uh…what?”
“Will you agree that we all must face the fact that one day death will come knocking at our door? Have you thought about it much? Why must this happen? Is there some rule that says we must die?”
Yes, cliché aside, death will come “knocking at our door,” and yes, I have thought extensively about death, as I tried to hasten my death by trying to commit suicide, so I am well aware that death is imminent. Why must we die? Well, it’s called the life cycle. We’re born and those of us that are lucky enough to be brought into this world easily and without the plethora of ailments that tragically take newborn babies from this life without having gotten a chance to live for more than a few moments, we spend an average of 75+ years living and then, by nature’s design, we die. The “rule” to dying is there is no rule. We have no control over how long we live, unless we decide to die by our own hand.
“Death is natural you say? Yes, it is true, currently death is natural–but this was not God’s intent. God created man to live, but man rejected Him. God, alone, is the source of life. Separated from God, man can only experience death.”
Okay, okay, okay…I see what you’re doing here and having been raised on the Christian belief system for 20 of my 30 years, I get it. You’re speaking of death metaphorically now. Those without God in their lives are dead inside. Clever.
“Death started with our first ancestor, Adam. God created him ‘very good’ and gave him a lot of freedom. Only one restraint was laid upon him and its purpose was to prevent man from knowing evil. Wanting, though, to be like God, Adam exercised his will against God and went his own way separate from God. Remember, apart from God there is no life and man’s nature, in Adam, is a process of death for all (See Genesis 2 through 3, plus Romans 5:12).”
This is where I start getting defensive and raise the argument: God planned this whole thing. God is letting man suddenly decide the fate of the human race? God has no say in what happened? Evil was present in the Garden of Eden and God didn’t foresee this happening and put the kabash on this? Omnipotent, my butt. To place all the grief of the world on the shoulders of man is messed up. God has an agenda, friends. Strike one for why I renounced my Christianity and went atheist.
“It is man’s nature to think that he can ‘make his own way’ and that he has ‘free will.’ In the way that God requires, man thinks that he does not have to obey. Think about that ‘free will’ that man believes he possesses. The Bible says we are enslaved to the fear of death in Hebrews 2:15. If we are enslaved to the fear of death, then that says man does not have free will. The very reality of death disproves the claim that man has free will. If man truly had free will, he could choose not to die, or to suffer at all. He cannot do this as we know. Death will come knocking at our door. We stated that God is the source of life but man had separated himself from God. What prevents God from giving man life today?”
[pinches bridge of nose as a mighty headache is brewing]
What? What in the…what? First of all, I have the Fleetwood Mac song “Go Your Own Way” stuck in my head now. Secondly, I’m so confused. Again, I realize the gist of this entire thing is this: BELIEVE IN GOD AND BE NOT AFRAID OF DEATH FOR THROUGH SALVATION IN HIM, WE WILL GO TO HEAVEN AND SUFFER NOT EARTHLY STRIFE. But now it’s just nonsensical contradiction in terms and making stuff up to elicit fear. Strike two, religion. I remember from my grade school days being taught about the devil and being scared shitless. It’s that same kind of “scared straight” tactics that annoy me and do more harm than good. Also, I just can’t get over this thought that if God is so freaking pissed at us for going against his way, why not just wipe the slate clean and start over? Oh…that’s right. Because God is a product of humans. We created HIM. Silly Erin, always with the forgetting.
GOD’S VIEW OF MANKIND (this may be my favorite part of the pamphlet)
“ALL MEN ARE SINNERS.
Do you object that nobody is perfect? Then neither are you perfect? You then agree with God that we are all sinners deserving of death to which we are enslaved. This death is not just having your cadaver stuffed into a grave. There is existence after death. For many, probably most, this will be a horrible existence in outer darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth plus fire. See Matthew 22:13 and Revelations 21:8 for glimpses. Dismal? This picture is pretty dismal. Is there no hope for man?”
Great googly moogly. Although, “wailing and gnashing of teeth” has always been one of my favorite lines from the Bible and the “plus fire” thing was a nice touch. I keep thinking of Beavis and Butthead: FIRE! FIRE! No, I’m not perfect, that’s true. However, there is no existence after death. None. As I stated before, we live and we die. We stop living as soon as our hearts stop beating and our upper brain functions cease. Your body is buried underground where it starts its natural decomposition process. There is no life after death, unless you’re Tupac and keep posthumously releasing cd’s, but other than that, there’s nothing. This is something I don’t really like to discuss with people because this is the most touchy of the religious subjects to get into. For example, take my dad. After his wife passed away from cancer over two years ago, he submerged himself into his faith and became a born-again Christian. That’s how he’s choosing to deal with the untimely death of his wife and that’s his decision. If wanting to believe that after he dies he will be reunited with his wife in heaven, let him believe that. If it offers him comfort in his despair, I am not going to deny him that. I understand the wanting to believe this will happen, but I’ve had this discussion with other atheist, all whom have also lost loved ones. I am more of the thought that while having a beloved person in your life die unexpectedly is a tragedy and I have nothing but empathy and compassion for your grief, keep these people close to your hearts and alive in your memories of them. I liken this whole “being reunited with all your loved ones” thing to agreeing to meet someone on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. You want to see this person so badly, your anticipation is overwhelming and you’re so excited to be with them again, but once you get there, they never show up.
THERE IS HOPE
“The amazing thing is this, even though can (each man) tells God to ‘take a hike’ God still loves us.
But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
There is a penalty for sin, it is death. This is a death that commits a person to eternal misery. This ‘wage’ is the just payment by a righteous judge (God) for our rebellion against Him. The only way out is for someone else, who is guiltless, and who is both God and man, to make this payment. Jesus Christ, the God/man came to earth, lived a perfect life, holy as His Father in heaven is holy, and was unjustly condemned and crucified on Mt. Calvary for my sin, for your sin, for the sin(s) of the whole world.”
I don’t like this one bit. I really don’t. God still loves us even when we tell him to fuck off. Yes, he’s SO loving, isn’t he? Don’t believe in him, be a godless sinner and die because you sin against God and spend an eternity burning in the fiery pits of hell, but don’t let that get you down, little buddy–God still loves you, even when you’re on fire and suffering. That’s so neat, really. God is so loving, in fact, he made himself into human form because people were freaking out about talking to burning bushes all the time, so he impregnated a virgin with himself as a prophet for humanity, to speak the love of God and his good will, but people were all like, “dude’s whack. Let’s kill this guy!” So God then allowed humans to kill himself, but that’s okay because He totally planned this all, you guys. He totes sent himself to be murdered and because he did that, you’re all forgiven. Just believe in this wackadoo story, otherwise, you know…hell and damnation and the gnashing.
Strike three for religion.
The rest of the pamphlet is pretty redundant and keeps going on about Jesus dying for our sins and yadda blah dee dah.
I leave you with this quote from Robert Green Ingersoll:
“If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant. I make my choice now. I despise that doctrine. It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men. It has been a constant pain, a perpetual terror to every good man and woman and child. It has filled the good with horror and with fear; but it has had no effect upon the infamous and base. It has wrung the hearts of the tender, it has furrowed the cheeks of the good. This doctrine never should be preached again. What right have you, sir, Mr. clergyman, you, minister of the gospel to stand at the portals of the tomb, at the vestibule of eternity, and fill the future with horror and with fear? I do not believe this doctrine, neither do you. If you did, you could not sleep one moment. Any man who believes it, and has within his breast a decent, throbbing heart, will go insane. A man who believes that doctrine and does not go insane has the heart of a snake and the conscience of a hyena.”
Thanks for reading.