Friday, January 16, 2015

Peace in Life and Death

Today Denny laid to rest one of his closest friends, his little dog, Talula, who has been with him since he rescued her as a pup about fifteen years ago. 

He posted a picture to Facebook, of Talula on her last day, and the condolences began to roll in. Among them, however, there was a comment from a local chap with whom we are nominally acquainted, a Christian who never comments unless he sees an opportunity to witness to us. Why we have remained friends online is a mystery even to me. Maybe I’m reluctant to shut anyone out. He’s not been unkind, just pushy about his faith. He likes to argue and feel like he’s making a point. I’ve occasionally engaged with him when he’s commented on my wall because he’s a perfect example of the bold, condescending, and ignorant nature of evangelical Bible believers in my area.

Among the many unbelievers who offered their condolences and love to Denny, here’s this man's comment:

(I’m leaving his typos in for the full effect.)

“In times of sorrow and sadness for the loss of loved ones and things I am able to turn to my faith for solice. I know we share no faith but you always can turn to that cold mistress science that says the matter that makes up that wonderful creature that you have known for 15 years is never destroyed but only changes form. Science says your pup will live on throughout the eons changing form and shape over and over again. Now to me that doesn't give much hope but ya gotta work with what ya brought. Hopefully the chemicals that cause the emotional bonds to your pet fad quickly so you pain responce will ease and mend post haste.”

It took quite a bit of control not to post something in response, something along the lines of “Using someone's grief as an opportunity to discuss your beliefs and mock theirs… How very Christian of you.”

Out of respect for Denny and his grieving process, I’ll just say it here instead. Ha.

But it did get me to thinking about peace. I had my moments of peace while I was a believer, sure. Now I know it wasn't supernatural, it was just me and occasionally the kind words of friends. But I have far more peace in my life these days than I’ve ever had before. I'm not the only one; others I know who have come out of religion, and some who were never in it, feel the same: an overwhelming, solid sense of peace. (To be fair, not all the unbelievers of my acquaintance know this peace, but most do.) I’ve yet to help a Bible believer to begin to comprehend how that’s possible. As far as they're concerned Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the Sam’s Club of happy feelings, and if you don’t buy a membership, you aren't allowed to shop. Try getting them to see the same feelings grow as wild and plentiful as dandelions, free for the taking.

I have no reason to believe in an afterlife and so I no longer entertain the possibility. It doesn't bother me in the least because I love the fact that I am made of stardust and to stardust I will return. I have a deep sense of peace knowing that the molecules that make up my person will return to cycle through the earth and then through the universe for eons. That's something which I'm able to truly know and draw comfort from. Yeah, Bible believers believe the same, but for the faithful that’s just the beginning. From there it branches off into various beliefs based on myth and hope. The thing is, the purely natural cycle doesn't ask us anything in return. It happens whether we're good, bad, or ugly. It's as simple as simple can be. 

And I'm not just saying this because as an atheist I have no options. It true does console me. I don't wish for or need anything more than this.

As a believer I had so many doubts, as any honest believer does, and always wondered whether I was pleasing to God. Did I understand him correctly? Was I living the way he wanted me to? Was I spending enough time with him, learning him, living for him, witnessing for him? I didn’t know if I would make the grade when judgement day came, but I gave God everything I had and hoped for the best. There's precious little peace in that. I dare say my occasional peace came not because of my ideas of God, but in spite of them.

Rest in peace, Talula. Maybe we'll get together in five billion years or so and partake in the birth of a star.

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