Monday, 28 July 2014

Should an atheist pray...

Should an atheist pray, it would go something like this...
Dear first cause, if you should exist, I just want you to know that you are quite something. I mean it as a compliment. This universe is definitely awesome. I don't know whether it stretches to some limited horizon in space-time or to cosmic infinity, but either way, you are truly magnificent to have singlehandedly created it all. Hands down, I stand in awe of
 your handiwork, your masterpiece. If you are listening, I want you to know that I am grateful to you for designing it in such a way that I eventually emerge as I am, a human being with a searching consciousness to admire it all. Even though life as we know it is short, transient, and even fleeting, but to be able to live and to live in such a time when humanity can confront the deepest mysteries of this universe and understand but just a fraction of it is a privilege that I am indebted to you for a 
lifetime. You are indeed worthy of praise and worship if you are truly the originator of it all. But with unconditional admiration comes undeniable responsibility too, don't you agree? If I may be permitted to say this, I would like you to know that your awesomeness is unfortunately a qualified one. The beauty of your creation also comes with the perplexity of your character. Let's take the subject that is hardest to swallow...erm...suffering as an example here. Let's limit it to human suffering only. This is 
where the divine mettle of your character comes into the sharpest focus. Your power seems to be most sparingly applied here. Sometimes, it seems even most glaringly absent for reasons that is unbeknownst to all except yourself. The contradiction is to me as an atheist most painfully perplexing. Why is the one most worthy of praise and worship and the perfect epitome of goodness, love and power so reticent, reserving and conserving of his attention and intervention in the
 most heart-wrenching issues involving the most gratuitous and pointless suffering in this world? Why is your hand so restraint when babies die the most undeserving deaths, when young girls are made to suffer most inhumanely without end, and when the most despicable and heartless men commit atrocities on innocent masses with seemingly blessed impunity? Surely, your ceaseless love for them should at least compel you to act in a way that an earthly parent would, if not 
exceedingly more so since you had once tasted the most callous torture and would scarce to think that your own weak and helpless beloved creation, especially the young innocent ones, should even taste a fraction of that unspeakable pain, god forbid, the whole nine awful yards of it, right? Believers will be quick to come to your defense here. Now to their credit, their faith in you is really admirable and truly out of this world. Notwithstanding the inexplicable sufferings in this world, and your
apparent hiddenness and enduring silence, your avid defenders have the most creative, and even emotionally persuasive, arguments advanced in your favor. While one or two of them makes some sense, which largely has to do with redemptive suffering and the eventual overall justice to set everything right, as an atheist, I can't help but have this feeling that they all suffer from what I would deem too trite, overused, and even platitudinous.  Sorry. You see, their argument may be fresh and exciting centuries ago 
but it unfortunately gets worn off as the centuries roll by with little to show but the same recycled defense repeated ad infinitum. Somehow I think it's time for you to take things into you own hands, proactively speaking. I think that it would be more expedient if you could make your glory known to all in a more tangible manner to assure the believers, the disillusioned, and the disaffected that their hope and trust in you is still well placed. Because nothing shuts the rabid critics like me better
 than your personal appearance to your creation in one grand worldwide concert-tour-like fashion. Imagine the WOW! factor there. Surely that would put to rest all the rhetoric and polemic of apologetics any believer can ever hope to offer. If a picture paints a thousand words, imagine a moving, larger-than-life one appearing in the sky in all splendor and majesty... But then, I think it is not my place here to make any demands on you since you should know better about such things. Moreover, I can see that faith is a very powerful belief system and many have overcome the worst in their life by anchoring their hope on you. Frankly speaking,
 my envy for them has no end; barring the possibility of a mass delusion of course. So, I guess my prayer to you, assuming your existence is real, is to tell you that you indeed work in mysterious ways. So mysterious in fact that it makes believing in you an almost impossible intellectual feat. It defies all logic to tell another that while you love unconditionally, you seem to care rather selectively, and while your word clearly affirms that you answer all prayers, most of the time, the answers to the prayers
 are not the answers the petitioners have been praying for, and lastly, while your believers strive to give the impression that you are as real as the nose on their face, it often takes much more than a sneeze to know that you are there, if you are really there in the first place. In fact, it invariably takes a quantum leap of faith to bridge what is the unknown (that is, you) with what is simply unknowable (still you). This is the part that I struggle most with to understand and every time I try to do so, you
 appear to be more elusive than before. Maybe believing in you takes more than faith. Maybe it takes a heart that must be prepared to put aside the neurotic need to know the whys of everything before one believes. And in its place, it is a heart of unconditional surrender that is called for. Alas, on that standard, I fail miserably. As an atheist, I do not have the courage to accept things unquestionably or unconditionally. For me, I just need to know that the object of my belief is as tangible as the 
nose on my face. And anything short of that makes a lifetime sacrifice on my part less than worth the time and effort; it may even appear delusional. And should I be proven wrong one day as I stand before you, I pray that you will show me mercy for choosing the wrong road because the road signs planted along the way seemed to be a tad less than obvious. Amen. Cheerz.

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