by J. Lantern.

Skeptics seem to shed belief in gods.  This is not universally true; but, it’s a pretty good rule-of-thumb.  For me, embracing skepticism meant trying to apply critical thinking to everything in my life, including beliefs that I had long held.  If there was no good evidence to hold something as true, I found I could no longer believe.  Such was the case with the supernatural.  Time and again, when tested scientifically, the supernatural fails to impress.  Perhaps there is a transcendent intelligence that created the universe.  Given that it appears to want to hide from our view, the only honest answer I can think of to the question of its existence is: “I don’t know.”

Note that admitting ignorance is not the same as being “agnostic” in the colloquial sense.  I can’t say for sure that leprechauns are non-existent; but, I wouldn’t say that I was “leprechaun-agnostic.”  I don’t believe there is a god, or, at least, if such a being exists it is utterly disinterested in my existence.  This, of course, is a major departure from the doctrine of most of the world’s religions, the majority of which postulate a being or beings who view humanity as special.

The Christian god (with whom I am most familiar), apparently, is intimately interested in what we eat, who we take pleasure with, and on what days we work (among other things).  Apparently, this god is a jealous one.  If I exercise my intellect and ultimately can’t believe in its reality, based on the flimsy evidence at hand, it would condemn me to an eternity of torment.  This, more than anything else, convinces me that the Christian god is a fiction.  Such a god would be, in my view, the worst kind of monster.  In the more enlightened societies of our planet, the intended outcome of punishment is (in theory) corrective, in addition to deterrence.  The punishment meted out by the god of the bible is never-ending.  It becomes punishment for the sake of sadistic vengeance.  An infinite punishment for what is, by definition, a finite crime.  Somehow, I think this would be beneath the dignity of a real god.  I know many would disagree with me; but, even history’s worst criminals do not deserve this fate.

Many find this last point disturbing.  One can be a heinous criminal in this life and entirely escape punishment.  Is death-bed repentance any more just?  According to some Christian doctrine, all that is required to be washed of sin is to believe Jesus died for your sins and honestly ask God for forgiveness.  I can be a reprehensible human being for my entire life and, as long as I meet these two conditions, I will enjoy eternal bliss.  Christianity does not provide the justice so many seek.  I think it highly unlikely that Hitler, Stalin, and Chairman Mao are right now writhing in agony in some eternal torture chamber.

What comfort can there be in the existence of such a god?  An ever-watchful god.  Every ill-considered deed, every wayward thought, every moment of weakness, recorded in some voyeuristic “Here is Your Life” for perusal by a sadistic tyrant who will use it to determine your eternal fate.  A god that created us with all our human frailties, then faults us for it.  I derive much comfort from the thought that such a god probably doesn’t exist.