Saturday, July 30, 2011

I miss hell

The other day I was talking with my wife about things I missed about belief.  I was talking about the sense of belonging and community that can be lacking in the atheist community.  Sure there’s facebook and such, but there is no real substitute for actual personal interaction.  My wife brilliantly stunned me by saying, “I miss hell.” 

What she meant was that when she was a believer, it gave her great comfort to “know” that Hitler and other mass murderers were being tormented in hell.  She liked the idea that every day at noon, Hitler would get a pineapple shoved into his bottom.  It gave her comfort and pleasure to think there was some great justice done to those who had caused so much death and suffering.  Now, she said, she was saddened by the thought the fate of Hitler would one day be shared by her: she would simply die.

I’ve said before that I think one of the reasons people stay in religious circles, even if they have doubts, is because they get so much comfort from their beliefs.  I just never thought hell was one of those comforting thoughts.  But I see it now.  And while I, too, dislike the idea that I will one day be on par with the murderers of the past, I find this can be turned around a bit.

Perhaps we must be motivated even more to make things right now, while we are alive.  Perhaps we must become active and involved at some level to do good and be good without god.  Perhaps this is one more reason to fight against the encroachment of superstition and religious nonsense into secular lives.  God isn’t here; we are.  And when we are dead, it is over.

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