Ducklings, Death and Belief

by William Howard Agnew, OD

Hello all. Praise the FSM and pass the parmesan.

My story is completely different than most I've read on this site so far.

I cannot believe the horrors described by most of the testimonials I've read here. How people who think themselves to be loving creatures of their god can be so hateful to anyone, let alone a family member, is beyond the comprehension of anyone without the psychic disease of religion.

As Blaise Pascal (of the infamous wager) himself said, "Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious conviction."

I was never really indoctrinated with christianity, but I believed as a child and young man.

My parents, a lapsed Catholic and an indifferent Methodist, got married and decided on the middle ground of Episcopalianism. We moved to Harrisonburg, VA and joined the emmanuel episcopal church, where I aattended sunday school. Chapel service was reserved for the adults except on major holidays, when we all attended the sermon of the celebration.

I attended my Cub and Boy Scout meetings at the church (a bizarre facet of Scouting which goes without the examination it deserves), made a lot of good friends in sunday school and generally enjoyed the experience, particularly the McDonald's orange drink and cookies. This went on in a benign fashion until I was 13 and we moved to suburban Philadelphia (although looking back on the school-sponsored bible lessons on the bus parked on the street right off my elementary school grounds makes me more than a bit queasy).

After we moved to Philly we never attended church services regularly again, only on Christmas and Easter.

I maintained my "faith" throughout high school and went off to college and began to study biology and genetic engineering.

As you may expect, this put a major dent in my "faith." I went home after my freshman year and explained to my parents that I was experiencing doubt. My dad, one of the most gentle people in the world, got all blustery and told me, "You've been raised to believe in god in this house!" I was quite taken aback, not realizing the importance he still attached to something we hadn't participated in regularly for over 5 years. My mom, having experienced the horrors of catholicism, might have already arrived at the same sense of doubt and said nothing.

That was that, and we've never spoken of it again.

Later, as I was completing optometry school, I took a new shortcut on the way to my friend's house just outside of Princeton on Cold Soil Road. On this road is a Ducks Crossing sign; a yellow diamond with a mamma duck being followed by three baby ducklings, one theatrically flying upside down.

When I saw it I felt an immediate sense of panic, felt I had to pull over and slammed on the brakes. I sat there, breathing heavily, reliving a past experience that would forever change my "faith."

The college I attended was on a hill, and there was a stream flowing along its base. Next to the stream was a little road you used to get to the far side of campus that I had traveled dozens of times in my years there. I remembered thinking back to something that had left me unfazed at the time but now filled me with a sense of dread.

There were dead baby ducklings on that road every so often, squashed flat by the tires of oncoming cars. No big deal, I thought at the time, sh*t happens. But when I saw that Ducks Crossing sign I flashed back and realized that those baby ducklings crossed the road at the same place every time, and that the place they crossed was visible for a good 200 yards in either direction, day or night.

It dawned on me that the people who ran those baby ducklings over had to have done so on purpose, perhaps even speeding up to make sure they were killed. There was no other explanation.

I felt my chest caving in. How could this be? How could the benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe allow baby ducklings to be killed at the whim of some sadistic f*ck?

What the f*ck kind of plan is that?

This simply could not be. Either god was wrong or I was. So, after 25 years of studious avoidance, I pulled out my bible and began to read.

You all know where this is going. After reading about the genocides, hatreds, fantasies and lies (and that's just the new testament), I gave up the ghost for good.

It's been 11 years now. I'm wonderfully married to a woman of similar disposition and couldn't be happier with the direction my revelation has taken me.

The reason for all this rabbiting on is that I'm finally going to tell my family after we move back to the US later this year. I don't think they'll disown me or anything, and I hope that after I tell them my story they'll use their own faculties of reason and come to similar conclusions.

I just really needed a dress rehearsal, and this seemed like the best place to do so.

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