Friday, 9 July 2010

Alright, I'm going to read it! Back off!

I believe there is no God, no higher consciousness, no omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omni-everything kind of being. Believing there is no God is not quite the same as not believing in God. The way I see it, the first position is an actual belief, and is more of a decision that a person comes to, after weighing up both sides of the argument and planting themselves firmly on one side. The second position is not really strong enough to be a belief at all, it's a lack of a belief, and is perhaps more of a passive position, as far as I can tell, one that comes from just never having seen anything that might make one believe there is a God. I would imagine that someone who doesn't believe in God would be easier to convert than someone who believes there is no God. I suppose I'm an atheist, though I don't like labelling anyone, and I still keep an open mind. I keep an eye out for signs and evidence that I might be wrong. I hope to be wrong. But only for very selfish reasons, because I don't want to miss out any potential kind of afterlife - I don't want to die and for that to be it. But I do believe that I will die, and that will be it. The end. Nothing else, in terms of my consciousness at least.

But there is only one strange phenomenon that makes me really wonder whether I might be wrong about God. It's a very superstitious thing, and I'm amazed that it makes me question my own deep-seated beliefs so easily, when other magical things in the world, such as the mysterious internet, the wonder of the mobile phone, the astonishing miracle of solid man-made objects being made to fly do not make me consider the possibility of God being real. Nothing beautiful on Earth, or the wider Universe, ever makes me think 'wow, I wonder if God made that'. But when things happen in threes ... well, it just makes me pause and have a bit of a think.

A couple of weeks ago I bought To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. It was on offer in Asda, and I remembered that it was on my chunky metal bookmark with the list '50 books to read before you die'. I put it on the ever-increasing pile of books to be read. Yesterday I made a list of books that I have to read before I can allow myself to read the trash that is the Twilight Saga again (it's working a treat - I've barely put a book down since I made the list, I'm ripping right through it already!). I added To Kill a Mockingbird to the list, in about fourth place. Thought no more of it. Carried on with Milkweed, finished that this morning, and started The Lovely Bones. Went to Waterstone's bookshop. Picked up The Passage, by Justin Crone. Opened The Passage, to have a little read of the first paragraph, and there leaping out of the page at me were the words 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Okay. I laughed to myself, and thought, that's weird. Bought the book, and went off to Costa Coffee to read a bit more of The Lovely Bones. Okay, now, if you've read The Lovely Bones you will know what's coming next! (Yes, alright, I know: even if you haven't read The Lovely Bones you will know what's coming next, because I've built it up so much, and have already revealed the punchline anyway!)
I was enjoying an innocent read, minding my own business really, when I was chucked forcibly out of the world of the book, The Lovely Bones, by the words 'To Kill a Mockingbird' on page 24. I had to re-read the sentence, to check that I hadn't just dozed off and dreamed those words. Nope. Of course not. The words were still there. Weird. Two mentions of the same book, the book that's on my list, within the space of about an hour. But if I thought that was the end of the weirdness, NOTHING could have prepared me for what would happen before I'd even eaten my lunch of a hot chicken sandwich from Birketts!
I left Costa Coffee about an hour later, figuratively patting myself on the back for having read about a quarter of a book in a couple of hours, and headed for my car. I innocently turned on the car radio, to have a bit of company while I ate my hot chicken sandwich from Birketts, and Jeremy Vine was discussing the whereabouts of the deranged gunman who's on the loose in the North East at the moment. Before I had even taken a bite of my hot chicken sandwich from Birketts I almost choked, as Jeremy Vine climbed out of the radio and smacked me in the face with the words 'To Kill a Mockingbird'!!!!! I have no idea why he was talking about that book, or what he said afterwards that connected it to the current news story, because I was too busy checking for hidden cameras in the car and in the car park, and feeling suddenly paranoid about being watched! Well, we don't have 'Beadle's About' any more, I said to myself, so it must be God.


I mean, I can't think why God would think that it's so important for me to read this bloody book, but since He's obviously so keen for me to move it up the list for His own divine reasons, I have done so. It is now next on the list, right after The Lovely Bones. There's either something in it that I need to read sooner rather than later, or He just wants to punish me for some transgression or other by delaying my reunion with Twilight's beautiful hero.

I still believe there is no God. But I believe there is no God in the same way I believe there is no Edward Cullen - they both exist in my mind, and I talk to both of them fairly regularly. I talk to Edward Cullen much more than I talk to God. Actually, I talk to Edward Cullen quite a bit more than I talk to Kev. Edward Cullen has brought on some kind of mental illness.

I wonder if there are any other atheists in the world who actually talk to God in their mind. Anyone know? I'm sure it's not normal atheist behaviour. Sometimes I roll my eyes at God, when something horrible happens in the world, and I think to him 'what the bloody hell did you do that for?'. He usually answers in the voice of Michael Palin, (but sometimes Morgan Freeman - of course) and makes me laugh, and then we exchange a wink and both go about our business.

Err ... I might have just revealed more to the world about my private and personal thoughts than I should have. Hmm. Well. Fine.

(Milkweed was a truly excellent book by the way; compelling, breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking, stunning. I recommend it to anyone who thinks their life is crap - it's about the truth that there's always something to smile about, no matter how awful life can get.)

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