Pondering death

Sent in by Qboo John

I've been a proud atheist for well over 10 years now (I'm 26) but I can still recall the very moment that the penny dropped. I was raised and schooled as a protestant (Church of England) which included Sunday school which was taught by my mother. Whilst I remember it vividly, I'm not sure of my age but I'd have been 9 or 10. I was stood in a cold stone church on a Sunday morning when I wanted to be playing football or cricket and the dour and obedient congregation were going through the usual brain-washed call-and-response chanting. We came across a section I'd disliked in prior services but this time it hit me hard, 'We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.' Even at my young age I can recall my internal dialogue asking 'What on earth are we doing here? Who is this person? Why have I seen heard Him or seen anything of Him?'

My father has always taught me to think for myself and to trust only what I can see and take the rest with a pinch of salt. I'm eternally grateful to him for that and it was that which led me to 'test' God around a year later.

My mother, a true Christian was in hospital having gall-bladder stones removed and as a worried son I took the opportunity to make one last attempt at 'God'. I can remember kneeling at the foot of my bed (like I'd seen on Little House On The Prairie) and confessed my doubts over the previous months. I told him I was very sorry and that I would never doubt Him again if He would let my mother's operation go without a hitch and that she doesn't feel anything.

Upon being allowed to visit a day after the operation, she howled in pain when I hugged her. I started to cry and apologised but she explained that she had some difficulties in the theatre with the anesthetic and has also had severe pains since. I can remember stopping crying immediately, not because I wasn't sorry for hurting my mother, but the shock of the realisation that there surely can't be a God. I wasn't saddened by it, I felt strangely fulfilled as if I'd created or discovered something.

I remember lying awake at night and trying to work out what death must be like without the afterlife as well as an underachieving 11 year old can. Firstly it's black so you can't see anything, but then you have no eyes so you don't know it's black. You don't have a brain so you don't know anything. No sound or ears, smells or a nose.

I'm not sure whether it made leading my life easier or necessarily more fulfilling, but I'll always remain proud that I was inquisitive enough to find the truth. And I'll always retain a certain contempt for those who taught me evident falsehoods before I was old enough to know better. That includes my mother and I cannot begin to explain how hard those feelings are to reconcile with the enduring love and appreciation for an other-wise flawless woman.

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18 comments:

Bill said...

Hey There Quboo John,

I loved your story of how you found the truth in your own mind as an 11 year old child. I wasn't raised in a religious home but my parents always answered the "Where do we go when we die?" question with "Heaven." I guess as a child I always doubted the whole God, Heaven, Hell thing. There was never enough evidence to fully convice me, yet I tried really hard my entire life to go through the motions of being a believer. Finally last year at 43 I opened the bag of atheist web sites and books. I was sold on strong atheism in a New York second.


As far as what happens when we die, I believe it's an eternal dreamless sleep. As Mark Twain said, "I was dead for billions of years before I was born and didn't suffer in the least." Who the fuck wants to live for eternity anyway?


xrayman

DUG853 said...

As far as I'm concerned, an 'eternal-existence' would be a "hell" unto itself.

I imagine the torture of 'boredom',....

Boredom for 'eternity'......?

No thanks-!-!

Jamie said...

I do want to live forever. I'll admit it. I hope we get to.

That said, if we do, it's beyond any evidence that shows up here in this life. I don't want to only have a few decades of life and then stop, but I also recognize that if that is how it is, I won't have the body or brain to be upset about it.

Nvrgoingbk said...

Like Jamie, I welcome the thought of eternity. I'm pretty vain. I cherish thinking I will go on forever in some altered state of existence, but WTF, I'm not going claim any of the bullshit religions as my own just to get there. If eternity exists, then I'll find out when I get there. If it doesn't, I hardly think I'll care.

The problem with the world, I think, is that people are always looking to eternity to make things right, instead of realizing that this life may be all we have and the only opportunity we get to make things right in the first place. It makes people lazy.

Believing in Heaven, Hell and judgment, certainly isn't turning out many extraordinary Christian examples of love and mercy, so what is the point?

THey believe that because they said the sinners prayers (the magic words) that they are forever saved, so they spend more time indoctrinating their children with the same beliefs and trying to convert the heathen then they do really trying to reach out to mankind and make it a better place. Their whole damned focus is trying to get as many people to accept Jesus as possible, thereby insuring their place in Heaven too. It's ridiculous. Why dont' they stop holding food over the heads of starving Africans with a "convert or starve" attitude, and just feed the hungry people. They claim that they are more concerned with their eternal destination, than their temporal comfort. What bullshit!

Joe said...

I'd like to recommend a great literary work. Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita" contains a refreshing variation on the trial of Christ, an exciting romp around 1930's Moscow with the devil and his entourage, and two people's entry into eternity. If you enjoy farce, it's worth the read.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Master_and_Margarita

.god said...

The problem with "eternal" and "live forever" is that no one ever seems to put every much thought into exactly what eternity entails.


To say that you would live forever when you die, exactly what does someone expect? Do they come out the other side at the same age and in the same condition they left this world in? If they had parkinsons, would they still have parkinson's for eternity? If you remove parkinsons, or any other disorders or physical issues, what would make you still "you"?

We are the sum of our experiences, positive and negative, our pains, our pleasures, our suffering and our achievements. Without my past, I would not be me. In this future ideal world, to remain myself at my core, I would need to preserve my memory of my experiences in it's entirety. My desires, my failings, my interests, my self. How can I say I am to live forever, eternally, if I am no longer "me" ? Might as well be reincarnated as a cow!

If there is no suffering, no negative, how are you to appreciate the positive in the christian world view of the ever after. It would be akin to a everlasting state of euphoria, rather like being a drug addict. And we all know what happens when the euphoria is constant, you need more and more of it to feel it. But no you say, we leave our mortal bodies behind, our neurotransmitters, our seratonin and dopamine receptors. Okay, lets say you have no corporeal flesh then. What is the point of this euphoric state? For eternity no less. If every minute was one of orgasmic bliss, it sounds almost like torture if you still have a modicum of sense, drive or reason left in your nonexistent brain.

What drives me is intellectual stimulation, self exploration, and challenging myself to that next level. A drugged euphoric state would not be how I would choose to spend eternity. Without polar opposites, pleasure vs pain, you lose for an eternity a reference point for anything.

Are there books in eternity? Can you create, invent, discover in eternity? At least the Koran got it right to include some 42 virgins in their version of eternity. But if I had even an ounce of my pre-eternity capacity for reason and drive by then, 42 virgins would get old awfully fast. What happens if you are no longer interested in those 42 virgins? Imagine being stuck forever with the same 42 no-longer-virgins whose bodies you know where every wrinkle is, whose personalities may begin to annoy you, or even worse may have no personality at all. You, stuck w/ 42 mindless virgins, forever..

But let's say, since we don't know anything about eternity.. that there is something ever greater. When you get there, there will be a whole new existence of knowledge to be learned, worlds to explore, places to grow. Will we be given new bodies to destroy, or is this a place w/o form, w/o flesh. Even so, to know what it is to learn you must also know frustration and the lack of knowledge. To achieve and overcome you must also experience disappointment. In that case then the journey is only beginning, not the end. It would be so much bigger than anything imagined in the christian theology.

However people who talk about "heaven" only seem to be interested in the drugged state of non-suffering, euphoria, and erasure of all knowledge, and an eternity of masturbating to the presence of a god, knowing that you are oh-so-special.. here's some more lube for ya.


Really, the desire for eternal life stems from the fear of the loss of self. The specter of death hangs over all of us whether we pay attention to it or not. Capricious, unpredictable, there to snatch you from existence without a moment's notice. Leaving behind unpaid bills, unsaid words, and unwatched porn.

There are many mental disorders and medical complications that can steal one's "self" as we know it from us, but none is more final in this world than death.

The fact is, there is no need to fear death. It is inevitable as the fact that there will be birth. You cannot stop it, you cannot know when. You can pretend it won't happen tomorrow, and you can pretend it's not really the final end. As your brain and body decays, and you begin to lose your sense of "self" you will know that when you now longer have your "self" there is no longer a point to being.

The corpse you planted last year in your garden
Has it begun to sprout?

dano said...

I kinda agree with you .god.

It only makes sense that whatever caused our lives, will be what causes our deaths. Whatever that force is, we must believe that it knew what it was doing, when it created the universe and us. It was intelligent enough to create us with a sense of having free will, even if, in reality, we don't. Each day we make thousands of decisions, believing they are our own.

I have always believed everything happens for a reason. All I can do is live each day as well as I can, enjoy living as much as I can, and keep believing that what ever happens when I die, "IS THE "PERFECT ANSWER". I am not about to try to outsmart a force that can create a universe with one big bang! Wouldn't that be an exercise in futility?

I am not about to waste this life worshiping Bible God either. Shit! He is just a poor mans version of me!

Dan

(Always enjoy your posts .god. Come around more often)

Lance said...

I liked both the original post and .god's comment. I especially liked .god's comment about what makes life worth living - namely work, problem solving and thinking.

Its funny, but one of the things that really made me start questioning the bible was that same concept. I was talking over the whole Genesis creation story and how absurd it was, when my liberal christian friend said we should ignore the literal interpretation and focus on the intent of the story, which involved who god is and who we are in relation to him.

So I started looking at the intent of the Genesis story and got stuck on the curse of Adam in 3:19. Basically the curse is that we have to work, that things will not just be handed to us. But I thought, wait a minute, that is what makes us human. That is what makes life as a human fulfilling; to take a difficult problem and solve it, to strive and succeed, as well as fail sometime. And that was the curse? The perfect idea of god was to hand everything to us in a perfect garden? That is a welfare state with no one being able to contribute. It made me realize that the curse is better than living in god's ideal garden.

But that is what they think they want in heaven. Sky daddy gives me everything I need and I will be perfectly happy. They don't even understand what it means to be human.

Nope, from my perspective we get one life and then we cease to exist. So we had better make this life as good as possible. That does not mean sex, drugs and rock and roll for me, but community with other humans working together to solve real problems and struggle along side each other while we are here. Not to struggle against each other over the differences in our superstitions.

I'll die happy knowing that I did my best while here. Even if any "meaning" I get out of life does not get to be enjoyed by me in some fictional afterlife. I'll take my meaning in life now, not later.

Telmi said...

.god

That's wisdom! Keep it up.

We can learn from you.

God's Child said...

Sir you were never a true Christian your an selfish human being you just wanted GOD to be one your side so you can get what You want Not what God wants ... you don't know why God lets people suffer you only care about being pleasured ... your like a doctor who patient has an giant massive cancer tumor and you have a chance save his life but cutting it off instead you tell him "i wont cut you it will bleed and it can hurt, here take some pills and die in 'peace'" you never knew who God was at all ... you were in religion not in Relationship ... God didn't make us so we can FAKE being in relationship with religion. you DON'T know God's Word so NO WONDER you lost your faith in the first place you have no clue about healing and faith at all and you say that God isn't real based on a false conclusion you made after an incident, on witch you have NO understand ... do you know why God lets us Suffer do you, do you? no you don't you just want God to be the God the gives you a nice Car and Big House with Lots of Money ... and lets the rest of you life easy so you can relax and have someone feed you grape on your Golden Bed ... you never cared about God that what hurts me the most and then you go claiming that he isn't Real ...

Lance said...

Dear God's Child,

You need to seek mental help. Seriously, you seem a bit confused, and could probably use some counseling and maybe some medication.

Good luck and I hope you get better.

Anonymous said...

Quboo John,

That was lovely, thanks. I wish I'd had such reasoning powers as a child.

And, "god's child(what hubris, that)?"

What sort of pre-adolescent-bad-spelling-crappy-grammar-crack are you on? And did crapping on us purge you enough to feel holy? That's my concern-- that you feel holier than I do. Mission accomplished. (Hope it's not a problem for you, but-- I feel SMARTER than you.).

Bob said...

Let's establish one fact: all that anti-god stuff is Jewish.
I'm not saying you are Jewish, yet your thoughts were built upon Jewish hatemongering (media, pseudo-science, books, shows, etc.)
Now, how can we have a reasonable discussion here when poisoned with Jewish crap?

stronger now said...

No. Bob. Your wrong. For many, many reasons.

Oww. My head. The lies hurt!

AtheistToothFairy said...

Stronger now:
I replied to, what I believe is this same 'bob', on another page, which you just MIGHT want to read.

ATF (who's head is all dizzy from trying to understand bob's words)

The same Bob said...

To stronger:
I have some doubts regarding God and that's why I've come here hoping for serious discussion. First, we need some background to understand where we are coming from (read: how much we are biased)and I do not lie.
Although, our discussion is already disturbed by pre-programmed "bio-robots" like ATF, eager to shoot the worn-out "anti-semitic" slogan each time somebody questions the Jewish writings, like the Bible, for example.

.:webmaster:. said...

"I've come here hoping for serious discussion."

Then bring something specific to the table to discuss. So far all you've done is post vague accusations of some evil conspiracy on the part of one particular race. That's as wacky as Christianity.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Bob wrote:
To take you outside of your stuporous bubble, plenty of non-Jewish documents would have to be reviewed, what you will never do. But, maybe it would help you if I started some thinking process of you by asking a simple and your own question: "Who made you give up on God?"
----
Okay...Bob,

1. You claim I'm in some "stuporous bubble" here, and elsewhere claim, I'm some "bio robot", both of which assert that I'm 'preprogrammed' to believe whatever is fed to me, by whomever.

If you've bothered to read even a few of my post/rants, then you would know how very wrong that assertion is by now. I'm pretty darn sure that my cognitive mind is not stuck in anyone's 'thought box', by a long shot.

Speaking more generally now, most of the members here found their way out of some xtian bubble box, by no longer just accepting the things being drilled into us by that religion. So I find your claim to be, at the very least, unsupported.

2. You ask, "who made you give up on god"

Why do you automatically ASSUME it was a 'WHO', and not a WHAT?
There was no particular WHO that caused me to wake up from religion, but rather realizing the many problems that existed in trying to have it make logical/historical sense.

So if you're trying to go down some road here that infers that some jewish influence caused my spurning of religion, then once again, you sure make some fantastic claims that would be quite unique to YOU; and whatever small group you probably consult with on this odd theory.

Now, I TRIED really hard to make sense of your sentences/words, but as I'm sure most will agree with me on, you are one difficult person to understand.
Your thoughts seem to jump from one thing to the next, without any blending or connections between them. Reading through your words, feels like staccato random musical notes, or perhaps reading an instruction manual that was translated from a foreign country into english.
Therefore, where you believe you may have communicated your 'saga' in full, it actually comes across as disconnected thoughts on this end.

Why would you consider someone who fails to just jump on your bandwagon (based on what you conveyed to us in your text here), a someone who is not opened minded enough to hear out evidence?

First off you presented NO EVIDENCE to us!!

Secondly, you come back here without even bothering to answer my questions about your confusing thoughts and you also don't bother to show why the information I found and posted, was incorrect, and maybe really is false information, coming from some jewish conspiracy.

Are you saying that our historical records on the inquisition (whichever one you meant) are filled with lies?

Exactly WHAT IS IT you're asserting here Bob, because you're not only vague, but if we understand you correctly, your allegations are right up there with the folks who are sure they were abducted by aliens for the purpose of some sexual probing.


ATF (Who thinks maybe Bob is pulling our pud, or seeking attention, or both)

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