Friday, 22 April 2011

A Message For Atheists

A few years ago i was at a funeral of a friend and was consoling her understandably very upset young daughter at the wake afterwards.
'Is mummy up in heaven with Jesus?' she asked me and i didn't hesitate in answering yes she was and she was with her grandad and grandma and they would all be looking down very proud of her and saying how pretty she looked.
She told me how she had been praying and i explained to her that her although her mum probably wouldn't be able to answer her, she could hear her and to pray every night and tell her what she had been doing that day.
This short exchange turned out to be quite a turning point for me because i'm an atheist and had no conscience previously to telling people God didn't exist and arguing my point.
It took a 7 year old girl to open my eyes to the fact that even if i don't believe it, what i was doing was trying to deny comfort to anyone who has lost someone and i felt lousy about all those years i had dismissed other people's ideas as deluded.
If it comforts someone that their partner, son, daughter or even their pet is in heaven, who am i to try and take that away from them. It doesn't harm me or anyone else in any way so let them believe what they like if it helps them through life's toughest ordeal.
I now cringe when i hear other atheists arguing against a God as i used to argue, my mind goes back to poor Amy and how my mind told me to tell her one thing and my heart another even if i never believed it myself and how my heart was always going to win that argument and nobody should have been ruthless enough to tell her anything different.
I thought of that moment today when a 7 year old Japanese girl, obviously confused about her faith, asked the Pope during the live Good Friday question and answer session why did God let so many children die in the Japan Tsunami.
"I also have the same questions: Why is it this way?' he answered, 'Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease?" And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent."
That isn't really much of an answer to give the confused child but i was actually quite glad that she asked it to a religious person and got a sort-of answer rather than the type of atheist i used to be who may have given her a different answer altogether.
Religion becomes a problem when it becomes a tool in the hands of the powerful, not the people we meet everyday just trying to get along as best they can the same as us and we should remember that and consider the reasons behind a persons faith the next time we feel like picking up the atheist gauntlet.


Anonymous said...


is that really the answer from the pope? he asked her qustions? kinda pathetic.

i'm careful to say "i believe, not i know".

so with anyone who asks, i'd say "i believe your mom / daughter / husband / etal is in heaven."

i would not impose God likewise on someone that i knew did not believe. i STRICKTLY think it is a choice, and that it is a choice given us by God.

if someone wants to believe they are nothing but a body, without a soul so be it...


Lucy said...

Yep, the Pope as good as shrugged his shoulders and asked her if she knew the answer.

The 'i believe' line rather than the 'i know' is a good one q. We are bashed over the head with what other people know rather than what they believe far too often and that is what causes such animosity between atheists and religionists.