Deity: Hello. Welcome. <spreads celestial “hands”>
me: uh … hi. Where am I?
Deity: What’s the last thing you remember?
me: Going to bed, I think. Yeah, that and a weird dream after I fell asleep. And then, all of a sudden, here.
Deity: uh huh.
me: Am I … ?
Deity: Are you …?
me: Am I … dead?
Deity: So it would seem, yes.
me: That means … wait! Are are you … God?!
Deity: Among other things, yes.
me: But that can’t be. I’m an atheist.
Deity: So I’ve seen. And yet, here we both are. Care to update your belief?
me: Shit. Does that mean I’m, you know, heading to <gestures downward>?
Deity: Nope. You and I wouldn’t be having this little chat if you were.
me: But, how’s that possible? I don’t … well, I suppose I didn’t … believe you existed. Doesn’t that mean eternal damnation or something like that? That’s what all the religious folks kept insisting.
Deity: Yes. Well. They’re wrong about that. Many are wrong about a lot of things. Their agenda frequently doesn’t align with mine, if you get my drift.
me: So it’s OK? I’m not going to be punished for not believing in you?
me: That’s a lot to process.
<pauses some more>
me: Wait! This could just be the dream I was having, continued. Or it could be random neurons firing as my body dies. This could be a hallucination!
Deity: Skeptical to the end, I see. I love it!
me: You LOVE it? How’s that?
Deity: Look, you did something in life that most people don’t, and you’re still doing it. You’re thinking. You’re questioning. You’re using one of the greatest gifts I ever gave you: your intellect.
You’ve said it yourself (I was watching, after all): you looked, but you found no evidence to support my existence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, you said. And you were right.
And you’re still doing it. Even here, in the afterlife, you’re questioning and looking for evidence that what you’re experiencing is real.
Good for you. I enjoy seeing my gifts used to the fullest potential, even if the conclusion you reach turns out to be wrong. Couple that with your having led a mostly moral life of kindness to others, and I’d be a horrible deity if I threw you out like so much offal.
OK, assuming it’s allowed, let me ask you this: why wasn’t there evidence? It would be so trivial for you to prove to everyone that you exist.
Deity: That’s on purpose. It separates those who think for themselves from those who simply follow. I did say your brain was the greatest gift I gave you. Religion is one way of many ways I set things up to see if you’d bother to use it.
me: So atheists win because we used our brain?
Deity: This isn’t a win or lose thing. Believers or not, it’s the folks who use their brain that I take the most pride in. That they may come to different conclusions is irrelevant, as long as the path to that conclusion is honest and thoughtful, and open to correction in the face of … let’s call it “updates”.
Besides, atheists have their fair share of blind followers just tagging along without thinking, just like the religious do.
me: That’s a lot to process. You’re saying independent thought is the goal?
Deity: Not really, no. Using the gifts I’ve given you — intelligence, your world, science, philosophy, … and yes, even religion … to make yourselves better and to be kind to one another along the way, that’s the goal. At least in ways you can understand right now.
me: Right now?
Deity: I have more in store for you.
me: Like what?
Deity: You’ll see. And whether or not you believe … well, I’ll still leave that up to you.
Come on in.
9 thoughts on “Skeptical to the End”
Well said. Great job.
This is so refreshing! Much like my current reading of Words in Pain that you so fortuitously recommended.
Having been raised as a primitive baptist, I have struggled with the guilt and the ‘foreordained’ and the resulting hopelessness since a very young age. Imagine my Mama’s shock when at age 8 or 10ish I suggested that Ezekiel 1:4-28 was describing a spaceship and that it might just be possible that God is in fact a being from an advanced people from a distant planet! Well at least she taught me by her willfully ignorant example to question everything even harder.
Along the lines of Olga Jacoby’s stance regarding religion but perhaps not as gentle and refined, might I suggest a book called God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. In it he makes the argument that organized religion may be the worst thing to have happened to the human species. It’s an interesting perspective.
Keep up the great work Leo, both technical and philosophical. I have followed you for years and you just get better and better.
Thanks for all you do,
Very well done – so far….
How interesting and thought provoking! I can’t wait for the next chapter. Leo, you are a genius and I look forward to your email everyday!
Deity: I have more in store for you. I created you, I created your world, the Cosmos and the laws of nature in order You to come. This was the only way for me to create something new and thinking, to which I can talk and think together. I am subjected to the same physical laws I created, therefore it is impossible for me to create some thinking entity wihout matter and without laws of nature, as some of you have declared. I, in accordance with all your science, your evolutionary theory and other, I created you, in order to see, what will happen, what will com out from all of this cosmos. I hope you will move your consciousness, your wonderfull emotions and your ability to think to some better, more stable physical environment (you call it silicon), and I hope that you will rise above your current thinking and cheap ‘values’, and we together will make the all matter of my Universe conscious. This is my task to you and that is your possibility, duty and responsibility. I hope you will rise above your current thinking and values, you will not destroy yourselves but you will rise to the new, higher mind, knowledge, understanding and emotions.
Wow, this is so well written! It really resonated with me. This is exactly how I envision “Diety” to be 🙂 BTW, I’m not an atheist 🙂
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Skeptical’, Leo. A tidy write, with nothing that didn’t need to be there. And an open ending to keep us thinking 😉 .
I’m a few years older then you, and one day we’ll both find out if we are right. I quite favour the idea of multiple destinations, because one man’s Heaven could well be another man’s Hell. I look forward to the debate 😉
Love this. I am not an atheist, but i do keep searching, probing, philosphising, wondering. God gave us a mind to use but also a heart to use. Not to accept blindly, but to ask questions, search for answers with our mindd but akdo with our heart, and also use trial and error. Never stop asking question, re examine once in a while the answers you found and listen to your heart as well as your mind. Not all can be expressed in words or sentences. Assoviations, feelings, emotions, dreams, day dreams, art, are used by our hearts to communicate, as well as words.
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