I’m not strong enough to be an atheist.
Intellectually, I look around the world and go “Wow, it looks like we’re pretty much on our own. No evidence for a Creator or a purpose.”
But I can’t bear laying awake at night and thinking that I myself am going to die. That one day I will close my eyes and that’s the end of everything, as far as my consciousness is concerned.
Worse, I can’t bear that my wife will someday die. Given our ages and health, probably she outlives me. But still.
And I can’t bear the idea that my Pap is gone forever. Or my uncle. Or Isaac, or T, or J, or R, or other people I’ve known for far too short a time.
And most of all, after last night, after reading about pets in shelters who have to be put down, I can’t bear that Max is gone — and it’s been about 25 years — or that someday, most likely in my own lifetime, Hershey will be gone.
I want to believe that in 15 years, Hershey will enter the spirit world and be cared for by yazatas (“angels”) and hunt down evil spirits when he’s taking a break from all the playing and wagging.
I want to believe that when I die, I will proceed to Chinvad Bridge, and Max and Hershey will be there along with the other dogs who guard it, to escort me to whatever comes next.
And I want to believe that in the end, we will all be purified in the flood of molten metal, and we will be united, and “all mankind will greet one another with the warmest affection,” and all the dogs will hunt down the remaining minions of the Evil One and make the universe beautiful once more.
I want to believe these things because they comfort me in a universe which, for all its mystery and wonder, nevertheless fails to comfort me.
I’m not strong enough to be an atheist and still function. I’m just not. I confess it.
I am with those who point out that religion has been used to justify all manner of horrors and cruelty and oppression. I completely agree and I oppose religion utterly, when it does so. I give no quarter to anyone using their beliefs to harm others.
I admire those of you who can function calmly and happily as atheists and enjoy every day for what it is. I do. The universe is wonderful and mysterious … but it’s not enough for me. My intellect wishes it were.
But facts are stubborn things, and the fact is, I am miserable as an atheist. Miserable, and angry.
I can curl up every morning and every night and waste my life in misery that life is tragically short, or I can live every day in some hope that my awesome wife and awesome friends and awesome lovers will endure, and that even my enemies will one day be awesome as well and we will be friends. And even if it’s a delusion, then it’s a delusion which makes me a happier person — and importantly, a kinder and better person to the people around me.
And when I ponder my two dogs, past and present, I know ultimately, finally, that I simply cannot live in a world without hope of that future, a world which I see as cruel and tragic.
If this be delusion, then make the most of it.
Ashem vohu vahishtem asti …