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Nothing packs the same devastating wallop, a powerful blow to the gut, like the realization of the inexorable march towards death. For as long as I’ve been able to comprehend such things, I’ve known, in an abstract way, about my mortality. However, knowing that, and being able to say “yes, I know I’m going to die”, is much different from comprehending the real implications of such a fact. Knowing that at some point, exactly the same as right now, be it tomorrow or in 2073, there will be a moment when I draw my last breath, think my last thought, see the last image that I ever will see. Nothing has ever felt worse than thinking those thoughts, imagining how it would be like, ever since I first fully realized that, when I must’ve been eleven or twelve. The only thing I can hope for, the only thing I can want is that when the moment comes, to not be afraid, to actually want it to be over, to accept the ultimate. It is hard for me to imagine how it would be possible for me to not be afraid, to want such a thing as that. I can’t imagine anything worse than facing that final hour accompanied by a pervading fear of that last breath.
It gives me some comfort to believe that this, all this that is life, with its peculiar topography of peaks and valleys, is not just an aptitude test, set up to judge us and determine where we should place our reservations in the hereafter. I don’t understand why a god would create conscious beings, and endow them with traits in such a way that it knows, and in a sense even causes, every thing that this being would do, given the situation that it would be placed in, all the variables controlled absolutely by and perfectly understood by the god. Only a sadistic god would create people that it knew would end up in hell, which, I suppose, might very well be the case. Why should a god necessarily be benevolent? Sure, people prefer the idea of a perfectly good god, but what about god-hood makes it necessary for it to not get a kick out of flooding the world, just for the hell of it, or turning people into pillars of salt?
The beliefs and rituals of religions don’t jive with the way I think the world works, from my admittedly limited experience of it. A god capable of creating something as majestic as the universe, ought not care about who sticks what body part in whose orifice. I don’t think that such a god would be so insecure as to require our unquestioning devotion. Such a god shouldn’t care what day of the week you worshipped it on, or what name you called it by. Such a god wouldn’t care if you ate pork, reptiles, amphibians, shellfish, beef, or any other food that’s considered taboo by at least one religion. Such a god would have no reason, nothing to do with arbitrary laws. A god as mighty and as awesome as the one that many people claim to believe in, would not be so vain and insecure that it felt it needed the respect of such a tiny, insignificant group as the human race, a group of beings that would owe their very existence to it.