In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve only recently begun to live my life. Having done away with, what I feel were, childish belief systems, I now seem to know and value what this short life actually is. Although I believe that this learning process is a life-long one, I think I’m just at the very beginning of a new journey.
I spent a lot of my years as a believer, trying to find ways of living the life I wanted to live (which always seemed to go ‘against the rules’ of Christianity), while trying to avoid the guilt that inevitably came along with that. As a teenager, and the natural rebellion that seems to come with that age, resulted in a huge pile of guilt that I carried around for many years. As a young adult and a musician in a rock band, I had to try to hide from most people my late nights playing in clubs and all the extras that go along with it. I had to try to justify in my mind the joy that I experienced in living that way against the backdrop of a belief system that constantly told me that it was wrong.
In the years leading up to my official ‘deconversion’, there were periods of time where I would talk openly about being an atheist with people who would ask me, while in the back of my head, I was still rather unsure. Most times, though, when discussing things of a religious nature, I would just clam up. Maybe nod my head in pseudo agreement and hope desperately that the topic would change soon. What I remember from those times is a lot of turmoil in my own head. A lot of not knowing what to think, say, or feel. For as awful as those years were for me, I think they prepared me for the next stage of life: coming out atheist.
I have now found my voice. I know what I believe, and why I believe it. That doesn’t mean that I’m close-minded. It just means that I’ve done the hard work of thinking this all out, and I’m comfortable in the conclusions that I’ve come to. The universe makes a lot more sense to me now. I’m no longer afraid to speak my mind (though, sometimes I choose not to just to avoid an argument that I know is futile anyway). Those closest to me, know my point of view, and there has been some progress in bridging those gaps. My only regret is that it took so long for things to get to where they are.
As I said above, I believe life is a learning process and a journey. I don’t think I’m starting at the beginning now, but the road has taken a sharp turn, and has opened up onto a much wider, pot-hole patched highway. I can take the experiences that I encountered on the wooded, overgrown paths of early life and use them to continue along down this smooth paved road.
As most know, Christopher Hitchens finds himself currently in the fight of his life. Or maybe it would be better said the fight FOR his life. He was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and is undergoing aggressive treatment as we speak. He recently did an interview with Anderson Cooper and discussed all things related:
I found a recent blog posting about the topic and found the last paragraph particularly entertaining:
As for the few of you who wrote to Goldblog to say they were praying for Hitch’s death, I can say that he does not care one way or another what you do or think or pray, but on behalf of myself and the entire team here at The Atlantic, let me just say, Go fuck yourselves.
for myself, I’d just like to add this…
I’ve only in the last few years found you. You’ve shed light into areas of my life that I didn’t know were so resoundingly hidden in deep darkness. You are blunt, forceful, confident, well spoken, and hilarious. And I appreciate you sharing those attributes with the rest of the world.
You will be in my thoughts. I will be pulling for you to make a speedy and full recovery so that you have more opportunities to shine the light of reason into the dark corners of this world that so desperately need it. I will follow your progress and celebrate the victories as they come. But I will not, under any circumstances, pray for you!
Get well soon, Hitch!
I’ve started a Facebook fan page where I’ll be posting updates when I write new blogs over here. It’s also open to any and all related discussions (though, not much of that has happened to this point, but it’s still new). So feel free to head over (if you want) and ‘Like’ the page. I promise not to over post! 😉
I mentioned in my last post, that there’s comfort to be had in the atheistic viewpoint when it comes to death. This post deals with some of my thoughts on the matter.
I think when people talk about eternal life, I’m not sure that they totally grasp the magnitude of the concept. In Christianity (and most other major religions), the believers will spend eternity in heaven worshipping God and singing his praises for ever. Do these people ever sit down and try to conceptualize the amount of time that actually is? Our lives consist of, at most, a paltry 100 years (to round-up to a nice easy number). To most of us, that’s a long time (of course, that’s because of our reference point of not knowing anything else beyond our own years of life). Imagine being in heaven. You worship and sing praises to God for 100 years. An entire human lifetime. Doesn’t just THAT seem like an awfully long time to be doing anything? Then take and double that to 200 years. Then double it again, and again, and again, and again. Over and over until you are up to millions and millions of years. At that point, you are still at only a drop in the endless bucket of eternity.
To be completely honest. This has NO appeal for me. When I was a believer, I never fully sat down and considered this. This life is relatively very short in the grand scheme of things. But from our limited points of reference it can, at times, seem very long. And often times, very difficult. In my view, death can seem like a relief of sorts when the time ultimately does come. A silencing of ‘the noise’ of life. I don’t want this perspective to sound morbid. I definitely don’t want this to sound like I am looking forward to that time at all. That’s most certainly NOT the case. I love life and living it to the fullest. However, there are those times when I can understand and see how the relief from the stresses, and pain, and insecurities and all of the other unpleasant parts of life could be welcomed.
To get back to the point, I don’t see how spending an eternity doing what I described above would not get thoroughly boring and repetitive after only a few weeks or months. Let alone year after year. Decade after decade. Millenia after millenia. And so on. Not to mention (and this will be the topic of another post), if the Christian view is correct, all those in heaven will have to try to remain happy knowing that a lot of people they knew in life are suffering eternal torment in hell. I know I would not be able to live eternally happy knowing that.
So, for me, there’s comfort in knowing that there IS an ultimate end to the pain and suffering of this life. Obviously, that also means there’s an end to the joys and happiness as well. I think a finite lifetime can make us appreciate the moments more fully. So, as has been my ‘theme’ lately here…embrace each moment of life. You may not get another one!