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Thank God I’m An Atheist!
In 'sure and certain' disbelief
No hope of the hereafter
My mother is ninety three and a staunch atheist. ‘If death came for me now,’ she often says quiet chirpily ‘I’d just get my slippers on and go.’ She has enjoyed good health all her life, has survived two world wars without a scratch - apart from cutting her hand on a cup at the buffet where she worked on Waterloo Station at the height of the London Blitz. She has seen everything she has wanted to see; done everything she has wanted to do and does not dwell on the things that might have been.
She lives on her memories rather than relying on a hope of a hereafter. ‘Thank God I’m an atheist,!’ she’ll often exclaim usually when watching the news and tut-tutting at all the upheaval that religion has caused in the world.
She expects nothing when she dies, but she often expresses that she would like (if she were able) to take her memories with her. This indicates that atheists still prefer the idea of something more, even though their reasoning tells them otherwise. Nothing that exists desires non-existence.
Everyone yearns for something more after death; it is part of humanity’s intrinsic make up to want to continue on in some shape or form beyond what this life allows but we must also face up to the possibility that this life might be all there is. No one has ever proved otherwise. We can never know for certain whether there is some pre-existing state before we embark on life’s journey or whether there is any hereafter to come. Perhaps there is a reason for that; the firm knowledge of any spiritual realm beyond the purely physical - if there is such a thing - is not ours to know.
Believe what you like if it brings you some comfort but that doesn’t necessarily make it true. I’m an agnostic; I’m quite happy to admit that I don’t really know one way or another but my mother is unshakeable in her denial of God and a life beyond the grave. ‘Why can’t people be happy with the existence they’ve already got?’ is one of her frequent rhetorical questions. ‘This is the only life anyone can ever be sure of!’
And she’s right you know; we all pass this way once and why should we even dare to expect something better? The world we live in is so very beautiful and is an environment perfectly geared to our needs. Why dream of heaven when there are sights like glorious sunsets and scenes of majestic waves crashing onto the rocks right here and now that we so often fail to appreciate. Every breath we take is a miracle; should we not be happy with all this and be grateful rather than want for more? Appreciate what we have is now and if there is something to come, treat it as a bonus.
My mother’s common sense philosophies have made her brave in her belief of nothing beyond this life; although a younger atheist with a terminal disease would not be so positive about the prospect of their demise. She is from a mixed religious background and chose not to adopt any religion in particular from an early age; outwardly respectful of people’s religious beliefs, she is inwardly intolerant. She feels that religious folk are only fooling themselves in their hope of heaven and their expectation of some far better existence other than what this life has to offer. ‘Dead’s dead and that’s all there is to it!’ she’ll say impatiently if anyone dares to try to convince her otherwise.
‘What if there turns out to be a heaven after all – what will you do if you suddenly find yourself there?’ I’ll often ask, goading her slightly.
‘ Heaven? Don’t be silly,’ she’ll reply, not rising to my bait, ’there’s no such place.’
But what if there was...?
© 2015 Stella Kaye