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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