Death is a terrible thing to think about. I remember as a child the first time I was told that “everybody dies” I cried. Life in those days was grand, with no cares and no worries… I guess I had hoped to live life forever without cares or worries. To think it was to some day end, after I grew old and feeble was a shock. Maybe I thought we were in some sort of limbo, with adults and children living as they were, never growing up and never growing old. I don’t know.
Also when I was a child I was first exposed to religion by a “friend” who must have thought I needed it, well, I did cuss a lot when I was little… in fact I was in the habit of listing all the cuss words I could think of, for a while. My first exposure was through a Sunday School class. There I learned that I could live forever, or so they taught, just for believing. This would not be my last exposure to religion, but it did make me more vulnerable to it… here were adults that believed what seemed even to my young mind, the unbelievable. I received the full dosage as well as explanations of what Easter was all about, what Christmas was all about. It didn’t stick because my parents were not religious, I would hate to think what might have transpired if they were.
My experience in the military gave me my next big dose. The military had a requirement in the early seventies that you pay homage to the prevailing belief system at that time. Boot camp brought a visit to the church, it was obligatory, it did no good to object. You were made to sit, listen, and bow your head during the prayer. At first I pretended. Then my exposure was increased by a military family. I tried hard to believe. I admit my performance was more to gain the social setting than the belief. My belief was continued for a short time afterwards, until my father seemed to shake it out completely.
Death… now I see death as simply the end to life. There will be no shiny palaces, no reunions, just oblivion… in fact nothing will remain to realize the oblivion… just nothing.
I see the religious, expecting to go on to an eternity with their god, yet they fear death. They simply lack sufficient faith, they say, to accept that death should be celebrated as an attainment of some imagined afterlife.
Having been exposed to religion, I can never say that at the last moment, on my death bed, I might not recant my atheism. However, if I do, it can be chalked up to a failing mind, one trying to make death less atrocious.
The perils of belief are many. Trump, our present president, has demonstrated clearly the perils of believing too much, though, with his background one can wonder if he believes at all, given his immorality. He has decided that we do not need as much wilderness, we do not need to treat the world with care. He has nearly brought us to the brink of world war with Russia, at this time. Maybe all he cares about is bringing about Armageddon. Maybe he thinks it his mission. Who can read minds?
Here we are, all on this earth, brought to the brink of destruction by an ancient religion. Is there anything at all we can do about it?