This day requires a response and I didn’t know what to say. Until now.
An Easter miracle has been hoped for by my Christian friends for weeks. I’m not seeing the magic. Coronavirus numbers are climbing. Deaths are still happening. People are getting cancer. Someone is dying of congestive heart failure and, tonight, a wife will be telling her husband she doesn’t love him anymore.
Again, I’m not seeing the magic. My Christian friends will certainly respond one of two main ways. Either I am not looking in the right places, or I am, but not seeing with the right “heart”. This isn’t a sleight on their sincerity or wanting of my happiness. It is an indictment of a religious belief that all will work out in the eyes of a God, regardless of what happens. I knew, heading into today, there was to be the story of a resurrected Jesus – as there has been throughout the ages. Especially today, in the midst of a massive pandemic shutting down the world.
I also knew none of this was going to be the fault of a God, Jesus’ presumed father, who is in control of all this. Or, is He? Those so willing to turn over their hopes and dreams of a miraculous end to a virus never give him an atta-boy for allowing it in the first place. Either this God’s fault, or it isn’t.
Within the circles of skeptics, it’s called “counting the hits and not the misses”
I was blind to this for 36 years of my life. There was never a time for doubt or questioning from 1982 through 2018. During those years, any thoughts of walking away from a comfortable belief in a magical Christian ideology was scary, uneasy, and unfamiliar. I would never know the terms Agnostic, Atheist, or Skeptic. Even questioning the most obvious contradiction in the bible was emotionally upsetting. Throw in a dose of after-life eternal bliss, forgiveness of sins at birth, a born-again experience at 19, and I was golden. The luck of the draw placed me in a conservative, western-central PA ‘burg where Christian parents raised three kids to cite the Lord’s prayer, be confirmed, and sing in the children’s choir without questioning,”why”.
Until my seizure the evening of June 30th, 2018. The moment of a re-set in my brain when all electronic-impulses went haywire, for no apparent reason, and the label, “epileptic”, was scarlet-lettered on my soul. A one-time lapse into a brain malfunction black hole spun my person-planet into a brand new orbit. With no more seizures since, I’ve been circling a previously unknown sun ever since.
Worlds collided and I began a journey into a universe of self-exploration. A rich, new, singularity of ideas and words I never knew. Previously hidden from me – but always there – were books, websites, TedTalks, relatives, friends, podcasts, and other resources apart from centuries old, dust laden, tested and certainly unproven ideas written in a book so unclear it took gaggles of scholars to interpret.
There is no proof of a God. I reached that conclusion. Until there is, I am an atheist. I have been since the fall of 2018. This is my day to come out and say it to the world. Well, at least to those who care.
To clear this up, an atheist is one who will believe in the existence of a God once adequate proof is presented. To say there is a God is a magnificent claim requiring magnificent proof. That’s all. You ask, what does that proof look like? I respond honesty, “I don’t know”. If there is a God, it/he/she knows what proof is required to warrant my attention. I asked, earnestly, for over 35 years. In the deepest, and saddest point of my life, this God was silent … completely silent.
Now, please don’t respond with, “His answers are either yes, no, or maybe”, “All in God’s plan”, “Footprints”, “You didn’t pray right.”, or any other special pleading. I know them all. I really do.
Save one very special friend who stayed in touch via text and my family, nothing. There was never a feeling of a God by my side, a “voice”, or a “presence” … any of the things I expected after years of dedication to the “holy one in the word”. I survived with will-power, knowledge, and the science of medicine and doctors … and yes my close friend and family – all of whom I adore. THEY are the ones who sat with me and helped me through. They were my “hits”. Oh, and to say, “God sent them” … please, don’t.
Look, if you detect bitterness, it isn’t intended. I’m not, truly. The Easter miracle today and in the recent past, ironically, is this God opened my eyes to what was possible … almost two years ago.
I am still so full of piano-love … a genuine, spirited, hopeful, graceful, caring human being. Nothing about who I am has changed at all. A Doug hug from me now means the same as ever … well … at least when the stupid shut-down is over, anyway. Can’t really reach you from here.
I’ve been over counting the hits and not the misses for almost two years. “He’s” missed so many times. I promise you, whenever this whole Covid-19 ends, praise will be given to no end with absolutely no mention of fault. Just not from me, obviously. Tell that to the thousands of families who’ve lost family members. Oh, but I guess God had to do that as part of a bigger plan. But, why? I thought he had nothing to do with it in the first place?
Yes, the last paragraph is part sarcasm, however, it highlights the problem with ideas wrapped in traditional Christian thinking. Ideas I gave my life to for 36 years. Ideas that, ultimately, didn’t serve me at all when I absolutely needed them to.
…And isn’t that the whole point of Jesus’ resurrection being “celebrated” today? He died for our sins, I guess. Just not when I need(ed) him the most. What a great plan.