Atheism, Pacifism, and Life

Since embracing atheism, I am more pro-life and pacifism is more important to me than ever. Let me explain. Really, it’s simple.

Taking away the afterlife, exponentially increases the value of life.

Believing in an afterlife – heaven, hell, reincarnation, becoming an angel or ghost – any kind of afterlife – makes death of any kind positive, whether you hope someone is going to heaven or to hell.

Take away any kind of afterlife and murder becomes more heinous, wars more reprehensible, the death penalty more sobering.

Ending war, disease, the gun problem, drug use, starvation, neglect, and abuse becomes more urgent without the pacification of an afterlife.

The suicidal terrorist act loses at least some of its appeal.

The thought of sending our sons and daughters to war becomes unimaginable.

If “this is it” we have no excuse for leaving sanity out of our decision making process regarding these things that end in death.

We have no excuses; we can’t look away. We have to look at what we are doing. Our minds have nowhere else to bounce when we feel uncomfortable.

For this reason, I am firmly convinced that war and terrorism will never end unless we embrace this life and destroy our childish fantasies of an afterlife.

As a Christian, pacifism was important to me; as an atheist, anything else is unimaginable.

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free your mind – the rest will follow

My break up with Jesus took decades. Despite my sheltered and indoctrinated upbringing, seeds of doubt were planted early on and continued to gather, but I didn’t dare entertain them. I was aware that the doubts were there – but I only that.

I would ask myself, “What’s true?” but little else.

Living within dual realities is a mind-fuck of epic proportions – at least it is for me. I’ve learned to call it cognitive dissonance, and it’s chatter is exhausting.

I wanted to know the truth – so badly at times that I thought death was the key to finding out – at least I’d know one way or the other.

This crazy internal conflict came up, thankfully, in a therapy session when I was in the first year of being a pastor’s wife. My therapist’s response was simple – and of course a question: “what rings true?”

I didn’t say so, but my internal response was “that’s no help. how can we trust our thoughts – our feelings? What ‘rings true’ could be a lie from Satan to lead me astray.”

My verbal response was “I don’t know.”

To ask myself, “What rings true?” had never crossed my mind.

But those three words nagged at me until, with time and practice, I set my intuition free and learned to trust myself. And as I did, the core of my lifelong depression began to melt away.

I will never forget the moment that I let myself actually try on the possibility of this earth being all that there is. It was a deliberate effort and took a lot of concentration. It was as though I could physically feel parts of my mind doing a dance. It was like trying to force magnetic opposites together, like my neural pathways tried to repel the efforts.

But when I finally got those three other words, “this is it,” pinned down long enough to feel, I knew what rang true and felt it with every fiber of my being.

Peace

“The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat.
The calf and the lion and the yearling together;
And a little child shall lead them.”
Isaiah 11:6, NIV

Peace

And the lion will lie down with the lamb,
a monster in peace with her prey,
once a meal, strength for a day
and hope for her cubs.
But now a friend beside her.

How long can this magnificent beast live on grass alone?
How thin will her milk be?
How long will her cubs mewl before peace goes away?

Does the big cat purr,
willing the lamb to lean closer?
Do her purrs whisper,
“Drift into slumber, my friend.”

Lamb must be trusting to accept this truce.
no claws, no fangs;
no speed, no grip to climb.
Not one defense.

This peace is thin and one-sided.
Does she know, the lamb,
that this peace is a mist, a vapor that could evaporate
in one quick
bite.

Even God is not a vegetarian.
Abel’s sacrifice pleased the Lord,
a lamb who knew only love from the shepherd
until the time was right.