Apr 22

A Good Friday for All of Us

Today is Good Friday.

For Christians, it is something of a paradox. They have good reason to mourn on Good Friday because it commemorates the brutal execution of their hero. But they also have good reason to celebrate because he did it for them, and for some reason that got them all retractable tickets to heaven.

For atheists, it is no different. We have good reason to mourn because millions of people still worship this ancient prophet, and follow the doctrines of his bureaucratic disciples. But Good Friday also gives us a chance to celebrate a faith of our own–that one day, Christ will truly be dead, and Good Friday will pass without notice. It’s not much of a leap–such is the fate of all immortal heroes. They die.

There will always be atheists, and there will always be massive cults full of believers. There will not always be Christians. As said by James Feibleman, –A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes.- And one day that is what Christians will be.

That is what divides us today.

The Christians’ version of the truth is that Christ died….and then was resurrected.

The atheists’ version of the truth is that Christ died. Period.

But are we really so very different?

After all, we both have something to mourn on Good Friday, and we both have something to celebrate.

Open your Bibles everyone.

And I mean everyone. Some atheists abhor the Bible, and I think that is silly. It’s like not reading the Odyssey because you don’t believe in Poseidon. Some Christians, even, seem to abhor the Bible, judging by the fact that atheists know more about it, and I think that is even sillier. Need I say why?

Allow me to share one of my favorite verses, 1 Corinthians 15:26–

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Most people, Christian and atheist alike, would assume the validity of this verse to hinge upon the resurrection of Christ, and that if Christ did not rise from the dead, we simply vanish into nonexistence when we die. And what a horrifying idea it is. It’s enough to convert a man out of pure terror.

But this idea is false. We do not simply cease to exist once we die. Nothing is created or destroyed–and nothing dies. Life and death are not absolute states that divide reality cleanly into what can grow and reproduce and what cannot. What we call life is simply a particular process that the matter composing our world sometimes engages in. If the atoms that make up all matter are musicians in a marching band, life is simply one of many formations they march in. Death is nothing more than the end of a song.

Plenty of empirically driven atheists would not agree with this. Things die, and that’s a fact of life. But my belief that death is an illusion is not an objective claim on reality but simply a perception I choose to live by. I choose to see the world as universally alive and undying. It doesn’t inspire genocide and it doesn’t conflict with science–and that’s more than can be said for most unproven beliefs.

I have seen death. I have seen a human being die, and I am not making light of it. It is among the most painful things a human mind can endure. Death is a genuine and powerful entity overshadowing our human experience. It is powerful enough to make even the most devout Christians doubt their God, and enough to make even the most devout atheists wish they had such a god to hold onto. But death as we know it is merely a specter of the mind, rather like God. The corpse bears little resemblance to the person that was, but it is still the person, in an objective sense. We do not stop existing. We change. The musicians go to different bands and play different songs, and in reality that is not so very different from what is happening to our bodies constantly.

As John Lennon said, – I’m not afraid of death because I don’t believe in it.
It’s just getting out of one car, and into another
.-

I don’t believe in death either, intellectually speaking. But we are not simply intellect–in fact, I’d say we are mostly not intellect. We are emotion. And what matters in an issue of faith is not simply what you have decided is logical, but what you really believe with the entirety of your being. And if old Father Death still has a place in the dark recesses of your heart, you still believe in death. The same, of course, is true of God.

In my heart, so to speak, I still believe in death. When the day comes that I can look upon a casket without fear, and know that the corpse is no less the person it was than I am the person I was yesterday, and see that everything is merely changing, I will have destroyed death.

-What do you think has become of the young and old men?

And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere;

The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,

And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,

And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and out ward . . . . and nothing collapses,

And to die is different than what any one supposed, and luckier.-

Walt Whitman