I'm an atheist. That means I don't believe there is a god or anything superior over humans except for the callous, unforgiving food chain. Some people within my circle of friends and family might not like this, but hey -- you're my friends and family, and I love people in my circle even if they believe weird things. If someone dislikes it enough to not want to be my friend or "family" anymore, then that's fine too. I tolerated the beliefs of others for my entire life, and if someone can't tolerate mine now, then there's a problem anyway.
I would like to share, with anyone who wants to keep reading, the top five things I hear when I share my (lack of) beliefs with others. And by others, I mean a select few. However, in the interest of full blogger disclosure... have at it.
1. Aren't you afraid to go to hell?
No. I do not believe there is a hell. Aren't you afraid to go to Narnia? ("No, because it doesn't exist, right?")
2. What, are you mad at God or something?
To be angry with a god means that I would have to believe in a god. I am not angry with anything. I know there are some who say they don't believe in god because "Why would God let people starve, get hurt, die, etc.," but I'm not one of those. People starve because they don't have food, and people get hurt because someone/something else hurts them, and people die because that is what people eventually do.
3. Then what happens in the afterlife?
4. So... you seriously believe in nothing.
I believe in science. I don't believe in "miracles." I can't stand it when someone thanks "god" for letting a surgery go well when there was a staff of surgeons, physician's assistants, nurses, anesthesiologists, technicians, etc. that actually did the work. I don't believe that our planet was made in a matter of days, but rather, a matter of a million years. I don't believe that humans are the result of evolution, but they're a small step along the way, and we, too (like the Caspian tiger, the cave lion, and the Tyrannosaurus Rex -- all creatures larger and stronger than the Governator) will be extinct someday.
I'm also comfortable with not having an afterlife. I don't need to see my grandmothers when I die. If everything really happens per their beliefs, then I know two things: one of them will be having a beer and a card game with my grandpa and great uncles, and the other will be serving up a pot roast to her husband and listening intently to how work was that day. Per my "beliefs," there will be nothing. I will have no consciousness, I will see no one. I remembered my lost loved ones as they were... as they left their impressions on me.
I also don't believe I will see my parents, my brother, his wife, my nieces, or my friends when I die. If they see me, cool. But dying is a matter of organs shutting down, synapses firing in the brain (a.k.a., "hallucination"), and blood stopping its flow. To me, it's purely an issue of biology. When a squirrel dies, it has the exact same anatomical response. Do they have an afterlife, too? What makes humans so special?
And, I also don't begrudge my parents for believing (as I assume they do, but I don't know their beliefs exactly) that their parents will meet again in death -- as only a few of you know, my grandfathers died young, and my grandmothers never remarried... or even dated. They are all gone now. I like to think that love stories like theirs last for eternity, but "eternity" is something that doesn't exist for me. I believe we love people while they exist, and once our bodies stop -- there is nothing. Yes, it is scary, but that's what I believe.
5. I'll pray for you.
I'll... mow the lawn for you.
Mowing the lawn is a hard job. I hope praying brings just as much frustration and exhaustion for you as mowing does to me.