When I was a kid, we went to church (or Sunday School) every Sunday. In the summers we attended Vacation Bible School, and even went on camping trips with our church. However, my parents were never overtly religious. We just did those things, and it was part of life. After I graduated from college and left home, I stopped going to church completely. It isn't that I don't like church, because there are many things about it that I do enjoy. It just was never a priority for me, particularly since I don't like getting up early on Sunday mornings. I'm also a natural skeptic, and a lot of things about the Bible are kind of absurd when you really stop and think about it. Yet despite all of that, I do believe in God. At least I think I do. I really don't like things that can't be explained, and the whole God and religion thing is one of them.
I've gotten into arguments with my mom over the years about this, mostly after I finished reading books like The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History (Plus), Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them), and The God Delusion. I mean, if Jesus existed today he would be mocked and ridiculed. I can understand why people hundreds of years ago were so into religion. Times were hard, people died left and right of diseases that weren't understood, and religion offers hope. But now we can explain a lot of those things. We know about viruses and diseases and what causes them. Yet we still cling to the hope that religion offers. After all, without hope and the thought that our loved ones are in a wonderful place up in Heaven waiting for us, what do we really have when death occurs? The thought that are loved ones are just gone? That we will never see them again?
What happens when you die? What if there is nothing? Imagine for a moment that there is nothing. Do you know you are in nothing? Or is everything just over? You close your eyes and boom! Gone. Stopped. And what if there is something? Has my dad been watching me all these years? If so, let's hope he was only watching when the things I'm proud of happened, and not so much the drunken nights out.
At my niece's funeral, the reverend discussed that we have to look for the good in this tragedy. Good? Really? Good that a two week old baby died? Good that her heart didn't form properly for some unexplainable reason? How is there any good in that? I certainly can't think of any good. And the skeptic in me said, that's absurd. If there is a God, why does he let such terrible things happen? That part of it all never really made sense to me. I know free will, and blah, blah, but this has nothing to do with free will, and my sister did everything right during her pregnancy. This just happened, and it happens to a lot of people. Why do things like this happen? Why did my niece never get a chance at life when she had such a great family waiting for her, a family who desperately wanted her? If you are a believer in religion, the answer is that "God has a plan" or something along those lines. Maybe that makes people feel better. Right now it doesn't make me feel better because I'm very selfish and I want my niece here with all of us.
At any rate, I don't know what I believe entirely. Is it the Big Bang or is it God? I don't know, and I'm not going to pretend like I know. However, I have to say that it does make me feel a little better to think about my niece up in Heaven with my dad, her grandpa, since my dad died long before he had any grandkids. So, maybe she's with him, and with H's dog who had to be put to sleep last week due to old age complications (what a week, right?), and with our old dog from my childhood, and they are all having a grand old time. I'd like to think that, anyway, that I'll see them both again. My sister, who is very logical, told me that there is nothing we can do about this tragedy, and that we all have to move on and not dwell on it. She's doing okay, given the circumstances, although this is obviously something she and her husband will never get over completely. Nor will any of us. We will always wonder about this little girl. Who would she have looked like? What would she have done? What if? So, I'm trying not to dwell and to just move on, and my little Heaven fantasy is part of that right now. But really, I still can't make heads or tails of any of this, and I still feel like this is all just a bad dream.