An Aethist’s Prayer… May 16, 2012

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I was in a dark corner by myself when he entered. Not recognizing me–or noticing me, for that matter–he lifted his head and began to speak.

“I am embarrassed. Maybe better phrased … humiliated. I am a person in good standing and on record as not believing in You. God is not a Person that I worship, nor do I choose to use Him as the implement for damning anything. I think what angers me the most about this moment is that I am suddenly being transported from the purity of my glorious atheism to the lesser nobility of agnosticism–simply by conversing with what should be perceived as a vacancy. I want You to understand–my antipathy is stronger than that. I don’t believe in You. So I suppose it begs the question: why, then, am I standing here with my head lifted up like a baby bird seeking its daily worm, chatting with the air, the walls and the ceiling? Do You understand? It is not faith that has brought me here. Rather, desperation.

There are times I just get tired of hearing my own thoughts bouncing around and echoing in my head, trying to find a landing-place in reason. I try to include other people’s opinions and feelings, but they are not me. They do not understand me. And the more forceful they become–trying to subject their will upon me–the more they resemble You–with your edicts, commandments and holy writ–keeping men baffled rather than benefitted.

Yes. I am confused. Why do You choose to be so absent? People insist that You’re not–and they cite examples of the sun, the moon and the stars. My thought is, why don’t we just go back to being ancient Romans, worshipping the elements instead of the Elementer? Would it kill You to make Yourself more obvious? Every once in a while, the ideas You hold so dear should win the day in such a positive manner that the whole world would be shaken to an awareness of the wisdom of Your path. It confuses me. I do understand why You have chosen not to be a self-promoter, but really, is the profile of a hermit sufficient for You to fulfill giving us our daily bread? So You’re probably thinking–if I have so many complaints, why am I here, chattering about this nonsense? It is this yearning inside of me that seems to be the only thing greater than my doubt. I want a reason to continue my humanity instead of becoming the grouchy old troll who perches under the bridge of happiness, growling at anyone who would dare to cross.

The thing I hate about being an atheist is that the absence of God, though simplifying, is rarely comforting. It’s wonderful to believe in a world where You don’t exist, because then it comes down to equations, numbers, inventory and implementation. But these are so sterile when left to themselves, without the motivation of something. I just find it difficult to believe that this SOMETHING is a Universal King who reigns over the entire cosmos, yet somehow or another has the capability of being concerned over the texture of my fried rice.

And the more I think about it, the more angry I become. Here’s what really pisses me off: why do You have such crappy followers? Looking at Your entourage, one would have to believe that You despise intelligence, abhor diversity and reject all attempts to accept questioning. Why do you call them “sheep” and then basically make fun of their sheepishness? Is it a gag? Is it a challenge? Are You trying to increase the difficulty of saving the world by using the most inept people You can find? Is it an issue of trying to achieve Your purposes with one arm tied behind Your back and the other hand fiddling a banjo? Do You hate the brain? It is the new Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, stuck into the garden of our lives? Yet You scream at us if we partake of the fruit of thoughtfulness?

If You dare to call Yourself ‘God,’ don’t You think You should do better? Honestly, I could lobby for a suit against you for false advertising. You often remind me of a deadbeat dad who has to be drug into court to finally pay child support. Of course, all of this is based upon the paper-thin pretext that I believe in You–which I don’t. I would not describe what I feel as belief, but rather, wishing. It’s not the same thing. If You do exist and have some sort of eternal home for Your faithful, I couldn’t get there by wishing, could I? No, it seems I would have to buy the whole sticky ball of wax. If I want heaven, I’ve got to believe in hell. To hell with that! If I’m going to believe in God, somehow or another I have to concede that there’s a devil. What a copout!

What do I wish? I wish You had an ear so You could hear; eyes so You could see me as I am; fingers so you could touch the parts of my life that I’m proud of. I wish you had a smell that could trigger an awareness of true beauty. I wish you had good taste–and judging from the music and literature of Your followers, I think it’s safe to say–You don’t. I wish you had senses. Why did You give them to me and refuse them for Yourself?

So even though I’m talking to myself and pretending that my imaginary friend might actually be here, I guess what I’ve come to say is that I’ve decided. Let me rephrase that to–‘I’m deciding.

I’m deciding to use mine. If You actually exist in any form or shape, I just can’t believe You’re going to punish me because I use my ears to hear beauty, my eyes to see possibilities, my hands to touch people in need. I can’t believe that You’re going to be angry if I make the world more fragrant and tasteful. I don’t know whether I like You or not–which makes atheism my better choice. Because if You existed, I’d have to tell You how disillusioned you’ve made me. Not believing in You makes me seem less vindictive.

Thank You for Your time–if You have any. I guess I just wanted You, myself and I to know that I’m deciding to do my best as a human … without a God. If it’s not possible, I certainly will die trying.”

He suddenly was finished. He left, never aware of my presence. I remained in the dark corner, contemplating his words. Embarrassed, confused, yearning, angry, wishing, deciding.

I realized that faith is often better understood when you catch it on a bad day.

   

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