We do not have Christmas decorations in our house and although Clea loved the excitement of Christmas, we have not had a Christmas tree since her death. Santa does come to the boys on Christmas Eve but Santa is no more religious than the tooth fairy. Christmas is, after all, based on a pagan celebration which was usurped by the Christians for their own purposes.
I grew up in a religious household. We went to church almost every Sunday and there were times I remember when we had to read excerpts from the Bible after dinner. Those were times when my mother was particularly pious. So I do understand and I remember believing. I’m not sure that my father ever really cared. He seemed to go to church because that was what you should do and that was what he had done since he was a child in a strict Baptist household. Now, he has Alzheimer’s, he probably cares even less.
About 20 years ago, I stopped going to church at Easter and Christmas because I thought to do so was hypocritical as I never attended at any other time of the year. And over the years, I have come to the conclusion that there is no god. Now, I definitely believe there is no god.
In the worst time of my life when I was struggling for survival, I did not revert to childhood habits. I did not call for a god. I did not pray to a god. I did not ask for a god to save my life or that of my children. When I was searching desperately in the water for my daughter, I did not call on a god to help me. It did not enter my head. If a god does not enter my mind during the most desperate time of my life, then I do not believe that there is a god.
I remember dying. It was dark and my mind was going blank. There was nothing save a primeval desire to survive. My body had shut down all that was irrelevant in its attempt to survive. It was a base level existence if only for a few seconds. But I remember. I remember the black. I remember fighting the dark and the water to survive. But there was no god.
My mother has attempted to argue that if I had believed in her god then I could have saved my daughter. If you know anything about Samoans, then you would know that they are devoutly Christian. All those Samoans that day would have been praying to their god. Unfortunately, for some, their god did not judge their children or their families worthy of saving. This is the part which I have the most difficulty; the concept of judgment. Who judged that my daughter was not worth saving? Who decided that she should pay for the sins of her parents (if indeed being an atheist is a sin)? If that is the god that my mother prays to then I believe she is praying to a devil (although I do not believe in a devil either). To me, religion is evil and is the cause of evil and is used as a great excuse to be evil. I find very little of value in religion. Imagine, what humanity could have achieved without the constraints of religion?
I did think that maybe I was a deist (that a designer created the world but takes no further part) but I’ve since moved on.
I am probably what you call a staunch atheist. I know my children believe in fairy tales but I do not want to hear from the peddlers of fables who prey on the fears and anxieties of people. Clea believed in magic but in the end there was no magic.
Religion is perfect for keeping the masses under control. It must bring great comfort to those who have faith. It suits a purpose. It does not suit my purpose. When group think occurs in a workplace, people say it is bad, but when it happens at the societal level, everyone accepts it as normal. Questioning the group think is not appropriate, it seems. Once the religious play the ‘faith’ card, it seems that the argument is over.
I am not interested in tribalism and find no comfort in an airy-fairy being high in the sky. There is no comfort in thinking that my daughter is somewhere else. My daughter should be with us, with her family. Not dead. Not anywhere else. My psychologist once asked me if I envied those people who draw comfort from religion and I said no, those people are deluding themselves; it is wishful thinking. Those people have faith in something that I find innately evil.
Why should what happens after death define and decide your life on earth? I see faith as the evil manipulation of people’s fears and ignorance perpetuated by a bunch of old men. It is interesting that men in their desire for power and control generally perpetuate faith. All religion favours men and is aimed at keeping women in their place, out of the corridors of power. It gives me some pleasure to know that they will rot like everyone else. It does not matter what happens in death; it should not be the motivator for a good and decent life. I wonder what sort of world we would live in if Constantine, Emperor of Rome, had not become a Christian on his deathbed. Or if education did not remain solely in the monasteries during the Middle Ages. These are interesting propositions to research.
I am willing to take on Pascal’s Wager that there is no god. His argument was that you’d better believe in God because if you are right you go to heaven and if you are wrong it doesn’t matter anyway. But if you don’t believe in God and there is one then you are damned to hell. Mostly it seems that people say they believe in God because they are scared to say that they don’t; scared of the consequences. One of my sisters said she believed in God because she liked the Christian values and the teachings. I explained to her that those are human values and a humane way of living. A few weeks later, she said a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders because she no longer felt that she ‘had’ to believe in God.
A friend told me she believed because she liked the family traditions of attending church and following the rituals. If the family tradition was to believe in a ghoul in the attic, would you believe for the sake of tradition?
If I am wrong and there is a god, then he must be the devil and I want no part in the evil that pervades (and perverts according to spell check) the world. I look at many of the so-called religious and would not like to spend eternity with them.
My daughter was not christened and therefore, according to the Christians, she is in limbo. I would happily lie in limbo with her. I do not like to think that she is nothing but I do not believe otherwise. At the minimum, I want my bones to lie with those of my daughter. That is all I want. I know where my bones will lie. That actually gives me some comfort.
And this Christmas, as every year, my sons will ask me if I received the present I had wanted. And I will say again (for the third Christmas) that no, my wish will not come true. I will never receive the present I ask for. I will never see my daughter again. She is my only wish, my only dream.
I apologise for any offence. I have no wish to offend.