I’m an atheist. Sort of. I don’t believe in religion. I don’t believe in God in the “traditional” sense. I’m sure there’s a higher being/power/what have you somewhere out there. I think it’s rather narcissistic to genuinely believe that humans are the end-all be-all. That we’re it, we’re the best there is. I mean, have you listened to Rob Gronkowski speak? Love the kid, but if that’s the apex of our species department, sweet Jesus things are looking bleak. But, yeah, I do believe there’s something bigger than us out there, whether it be a he, a she, an it, I really don’t know. So, I suppose “atheist” isn’t exactly spot-on. “Agnostic” would be more realistic, but you can’t call yourself an Agnostic without sounding like a complete asshat, so “atheist” it is.
I think there’s a strong misconception about a lot of atheists in that religious folk assume we look down on them for subscribing to their respective belief systems. Maybe that’s the case for some, but not for me. I admire those with a strong faith in their god. I really do. I admire those who question their beliefs, who doubt their faith, yet return to their god with open hearts. That’s cool as shit. What I don’t understand is blind faith. The concept of blind loyalty is actually rather mind-boggling to me. So many people look at blind faith as this overwhelmingly admirable, honorable action, and to me, it’s just not. It’s ignorant. It’s unhealthy. It’s irresponsible.
The very bible you so routinely quote features dozens of prominent characters questioning their faith and questioning their god. Hell, Jesus even did it. They refused to rely on blind faith. They questioned. They doubted. They disagreed.
And then they came back. That’s the difference.
If faith in god is your style, have at it, man. But to so blindly follow something without having the courage to speak up and question things you feel to be wrong or to interpret things a little bit differently isn’t admirable—it’s weak. You’re telling me that God’s son came down to earth and told you not to be dicks to each other, and you get to tell gay people not to get married? Try again, sweetie. Keep up, speedster. Glide with the times. Because it all really boils down to one thing: love. And if you’re not doing that, you’re doing it wrong.
But anyway, like I said, I’m totally on board with the God thing if that’s your style. In fact, oftentimes I find myself jealous of those with such a strong faith. A strong certainty that, despite whatever obstacles they may be facing or trials stand ahead of them, everything is going to work out. Somehow, some way, there’s someone out there looking out for them, making sure that shit doesn’t hit the fan too hard.
You see, atheism has its limitations. It has its uncertainties. And it has some shit we just can’t explain. We don’t necessarily believe there’s someone out there who has our back—someone who’s always there to make sure we’ll be okay. We believe in energy, in people, in ourselves. But energy is complicated, even for you physics kids. And people—well, people let you down. And we let ourselves down. Sometimes shit piles up so high, that you genuinely don’t know whether it’ll ever stop. You don’t know if it will work out. You don’t know if it will get better. And that sucks. That’s the uncertainty of it. Logically, religion and the traditional God don’t make sense to me. And that’s the sacrifice you have to make—certainty for logic.
And then there’s the shit we can’t explain. Just as the faithful question their god, I find myself questioning my lack of one. Because there’s some stuff that just doesn’t make sense. Some stuff that shouldn’t happen, that shouldn’t get better. But it does. And that’s when it gets a little complicated.
Everyone knows about Nugget Boy (otherwise referred to as Dane Smith—Dane Hollister Smith, if you want to get technical). He’s my 10-year-old “brother-cousin” (his words) and the love of my life. But he shouldn’t be.
You know the story. And if you don’t, here’s a synopsis. Two months into his beautiful life, Dane suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. A bad one. “Bad” doesn’t cover it, really. In fact, I don’t actually think there’s a word for it. He suffered an injury so severe, science gave up on him. Doctors gave up on him. They told us he was all but gone—it was just a matter of time. We had him baptized. A priest read his Last Rites. That’s a sight, I assure you—preparing an eight-pound infant to die.
But he didn’t. He just kept living.
And even so, doctors said he would be nothing more than a vegetable. He’d have no brain activity; he wouldn’t be able to eat on his own, breathe on his own, live on his own. And, quite frankly, the doctors had every reason and more for their prognosis. I’ve seen the scans. I’ve seen the damage. Trust me, you don’t forget those images.
Dane shouldn’t have survived his injury. He shouldn’t be able to eat on his own, to breathe on his own. To live on his own. But he does.
He shouldn’t be able to FaceTime me for an hour on my birthday. He shouldn’t be able to tell me my iTunes password when I’ve forgotten it for the 600th time. He shouldn’t be able to request a yellow ukulele for Christmas. He shouldn’t be able to correctly use the word “ballistic” in a sentence*. But he did. He does.
Scientifically speaking, realistically speaking, logically speaking, Dane shouldn’t be here. But he is. For the love of all that is beautiful and right and good, he is.
I can’t explain that. There’s just no rhyme or reason. And that’s when the Big G Debate comes in. That’s when I question things. What if there is a God? What if Dane’s life is a product of God—of divine intervention? When logic fails, uncertainty sets in. Logic fails, and I have to ask the question: is there a God? Does he work miracles? Is this shit for real?
And that’s the power of it all. Of faith, of love. Of a god that even the firmest of logicians can’t outright deny. Of love that fierce.
God or not, love is the strongest force we have. And it works miracles. It keeps us safe. It saves us.
I don’t know a lot, but I know that. And for now, that’s powerful enough for me.
Morgan: “Well, that’s crappy.”
Nugget Boy: “Now there’s a word I’m not allowed to say anymore. I said ‘crappy’ the other day, and my parents went absolutely ballistic.”