Random Thoughts About God and Kidney Stones

kidney-stones

Photo: Live Science

“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
“He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”
The Book of Job 40:1-2

Several days ago, my father nearly died.

For the past six weeks, he was suffering from severe flu-like symptoms. But the Glasiers are a stubborn clan, and we are skeptical of the services of doctors. We’d rather blame a midlife crisis or our own psychological weakness for the onset of nonstop vomiting and crippling back pains, apparently. Get tough. Move on. That’s the Glasier way.

That motto sent my dad into the hospital barely conscious and with stage 4 kidney failure, kidney stones, E. Coli, sepsis, pneumonia — it was as if God tied a blindfold and randomly pointed to half the illnesses in his great big, black book of diseases.

In speaking of God, I am still an atheist. I don’t spend as much time thinking and writing about God as much as I do Libertarianism and debunking Feminism. I prefer to focus on things that exist.

Among the condolences and encouragements I received from friends, family and co-workers, most said they would pray for me. Especially my mother. I found this peculiar, because she knows that I became an atheist more than a year ago. Why? The only answer God ever provides is that He is the creator, and therefore has full right to do as He pleases. This answer is not only immoral, it is offensive and disgusting.

“Prayers, please.”
“Prayers appreciated.”
“Keeping praying.”

Thus did she conclude our litany of text messages. I finally reminded her that I don’t actually pray. “Then send positive vibes,” she said.

The day my mother informed me that dad’s kidneys might never recover was the worst day in the past three years of my life. It was that time of ultimate dread and of almost certain doom. I called off work and rushed to the hospital. I was poised in helpless suspense. I could only wait to see what the doctors would say.

In film scripts, they call this part of the story, “The Dark Night of the Soul.” The protagonist faces his greatest challenge, reaches the bleakest stretch of the valley, comes to the darkest hour. In religious texts, this is when the sinner at last repents, he upturns his face to the light of God. He cries out to God for help, and finally, now that his will no longer binds back the power of God, God pours out his blessing and grants his wish.

Or He doesn’t. But then, theists provide plenty of convenient explanations for when that happens.

The very reason for this trial — my father’s illness — was to break me, destroy my sinful pride and bring me into submission to the Lord. Or so I would have believed five years ago.

I did not repent. To this day, I remain a rebel against the divine.

There were many moments when, out of an impulse ingrained into me since my early childhood, I was going to break down and pray. It was really tempting. It would demonstrate psychosis more than any concrete conviction. The act would have almost been comforting, were I not aware of the utter futility of groveling to a non-existent being to shape reality according to my desperate whims.

I did not turn back to God.

Or I could have focused on emitting “positive vibrations” in the direction of my father and family. Would that have had any effect, either? Of course not. But, as humans, we are desperate for control in a gigantic universe that does not acknowledge even our existence. That’s why I’ve stopped arguing.

A healthy human being must accept the true nature of the universe — it’s blindness, it’s dumbness, it’s utter disregard for the human will. From one man’s kidney stone to the Communist purges and forced labor that slaughtered tens of millions of people, no human catastrophe will cause the universe to alter its course by a single atom. Time will march on. Gravity will pull. The stars will go out. History will end.

Most people cannot reconcile with a numb reality, and so turn to organized religion or rudimentary mysticism for comfort. Whether I prayed or did not pray, whether I wanted my father alive or dead, would make no difference. We got him into the emergency room on time, there were doctors who were paid by the market and not by the government, and that’s what saved him. Not a miracle.

I could feel discouraged that my personal feelings are basically useless in the grand scheme of things, or I could feel grateful that my worst enemies can’t simply “will” negative vibrations in order to make something awful happen to me or those I love.

The fact that my father is alive and is on the way to a full recovery does not bring me a single bit closer to believing in the existence of a deity. Why should it? Although I feel grateful, I do not know to whom or what to project this feeling, nor do I feel that such projection is necessary. Certainly, if there is a God, I would not thank him for sparing my father. I would curse him for creating the kidney stone in the first place. Such a God must not be worshiped, but ignored and avoided.

My reasons for not believing in God are logical; if God wished to persuade me of His existence, he would appeal to my rationality with an argument. My reasons are not emotional, though they do manifest in the form of hatred, confusion and hilarity of a God who would torture his creation with these tests of faith instead of reasoning with them. But I don’t waste time about it; I’ll spend it looking forward to the many more years I will be glad to have with my Dad after he has fully recovered.

After all, how can you hate something that doesn’t exist?

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The Martyr’s Wet Dream

Words like “God” and “Allah” must go the way of “Apollo” and “Baal,” or they will unmake our world.
— Sam Harris, The End of Faith

Under a sky awash in blood and rust, a squad of rusty marines and I patrolled the outskirts of an obliterated city, hunting terrorists. A thin strata of ash covered what was once a road. Stripped trees pushed out from phosphorescent soil like mummy hands. A mushroom cloud lingered over battered skyscrapers, watchful archon of fire and hate.

I felt something small under my boot. I looked down. Beneath the ashes, a small gold crucifix glinted in the glow of a thermonuclear dawn. I knelt, picked it up, watched it sway hypnotically at the end of a thin, silver chain.

I once strangled a man in boot camp because I found him wearing one of these crosses around his neck. The corporal had me immediately promoted. Later, I learned he wasn’t actually a terrorist — just impersonating the terrorists as a joke around the other rowdy trainees. They don’t call me Cain for nothing.

I reported the rebel artifact to the corporal. Once intel confirmed the proximity of the terrorists, we were ordered to unleash the D.E.M.O.N. from the armored carrier — Divine Entity Mutilating Organic Necrobot — but we just called them demons. My heart sank. I instinctively dreaded the demon.

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Playing the Devil’s Advocate

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We all know the story: the all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing Jehovah created Heaven and all its angels and ruled over them in bliss and harmony. But then the archangel Lucifer swelled with pride, and he waged war against the Creator to take his throne. The angels fought, and it was the righteous Jehovah who overcame the evil Lucifer, and he cast him out of Heaven.

Still prideful and seeking vengeance, Lucifer went after God’s new and prized creation. The humans, Adam and Eve. He tricked them into eating the forbidden fruit, “sin” entered the world, and Jehovah reluctantly banished humanity from paradise.

Ever since, we have known that fallen angel Lucifer as Satan, the dragon, the devil, the entity behind all the evil in the human heart, deceiving the human race into the eternal fires of Hell.

But it is the victor who writes history. And this is only one side of the story.

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The Afterlife For Atheists

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I was once an agnostic Christian. Though I vaguely believed in Heaven and Hell, I supposed that people who were righteous but had refused to recite the sinner’s prayer could probably slip through the cracks. Somehow. Otherwise, I largely ignored the appalling moral quandary posed by this arbitrary, judging God.

Then Death sent me a postcard with my friend’s face and signature on it. I was forced to face not only that staggering personal loss, but the reality of death. He was a noble, intelligent gentleman — and a passionate atheist. Since his death, I’ve spent these years mentally asphyxiated by life’s cruelest riddle — what happens, if anything, after we die?

It’s rare to find an atheist who believes in the afterlife. Most atheists, through application of rational and critical thinking, reject the idea of an afterlife for similar reasons they reject the existence of gods.

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