When it comes to UFO’s, I don’t know what to believe. Like I said, I’ve never seen one. On the other hand, I do believe in God. Now there’s a dichotomy; how is that possible? I’ve never seen God either. I just believe that there is a Creator who was and is responsible for life as we know it. In some ways that is illogical, yes, I’ll grant you that. But to me at least, I see convincing signs all over the place. So I’m always disappointed to hear someone say they do not believe in God. I think to myself, “How empty their life must be!”
I have occasionally made references to Matthew and his very entertaining blog, littlewoodenman. Matthew lives in the inland city of Juticalpa, Honduras with his girlfriend Angel where they are working for the Canadian organization CUSO (their website gives no clue as to what "CUSO" stands for). They’re both young, energetic, full of idealism and joy of living. How else do you explain two Canadians uprooting themselves from what must have been a comfortable life and relocating to some Godforsaken part of a third-world country?
In a touching recent post, Mathhew laments the passing of his younger brother Adam, who five years ago succumbed to a disease called vasculitis. You can (and should) read the whole post here. In it, Matthew says something I find disturbing.
“As an atheist, I don’t have the luxury of believing that Adam is now, somehow, in a better place. I simply don’t know where he is. And I’m fine with that, considering. I’d be no less sad about it than I am now if I truly believed he was in Heaven.”
I was going to leave a comment on Matthew’s blog, but I decided instead to answer him here. So here goes:
I am so sorry to hear of your pain regarding the loss of your brother Adam. I know how hard it must still be for you. Some things we never truly and completely get over. Especially the things that seem so senseless and unfair…the things no one can adequately explain.
But I am also sorry to hear you claim that you are an atheist, which is to say that you do not believe in God. How very sad.
As a pilot, I’ve been lucky to see this world from a vantage point afforded to relatively few. And it makes me appreciate the beauty of our planet from both above and below the surface, from the macro- and microscopic perspectives. But it also convinces me that this all could not have happened serendipitously or by chance, like some big cosmic accident or happenstance. No, quite the opposite. From what I’ve seen, this world was very deliberately created. Moreover, created just for us!
Now, I’m not going to get all religious on you. Although I was raised as a Catholic, I’ve come to see all religions as various ways of controlling people’s minds and actions. I believe however in a Creator which I and others call God. And I believe that Jesus Christ was the human manifestation of God on our planet. The evidence of this is fairly convincing. But aside from those two things, everything else is open to question. (Expanded spiritual discussion available on request - Ed.)
I know, I know…we cannot prove the existence of God. As the rock group XTC asked in their coincidentally-titled 1986 song, "Dear God," Did you make mankind, or did we make you? Good question. Absent of any solid proof, it’s easy to just assume that God does not in fact exist. It’s not like He talks to us (well, not anymore, although He apparently did at great length once, however He has inexplicably stopped all subsequent communication).
Well, some things just have to be taken on faith. Sure, okay, but where does that faith come from? When we’re young, we merely parrot the beliefs of our parents, whom we trust implicitly. Eventually, we come to our own conclusions. In my own case, I can point to one time (although there have been others) when God absolutely intervened in a very concrete and physical way in my life. To ascribe the outcome to “luck” or “coincidence” or anything else would simply be inaccurate and naive. (Details on request.)
However, believing in God does not mean that I necessarily credit or blame Him for all the good and bad in the world. I don’t blame Him for wars, “the good dying young,” my bad landings, or my dead car battery when I’m already running late for work. Neither do I thank Him on the days when the car does start and I make all the green lights on the way. (Strangely, I do routinely thank Him for my good landings. Hey, I need all the help I can get!)
It gives me great comfort to know that there is a higher power than me – that there is someone I can turn to for guidance and help and strength – that I’m not on my own, cast adrift to fend for myself in the sea of sharks we call “life.” As for you, Matthew, can you not acknowledge the astounding good fortune of “someone” sending you your own personal Angel? Angel! Coincidence? I think not.
Matthew, you even betray your own doubts - your lack of total commitment to being an atheist when you say about your brother, “I simply don’t know where he is.” This tells me that you believe he had/has a soul, that he still exists in some form. Yes! Our lifeforce, our consciousness, our soul - the thing that makes us uniquely us. It continues after we die (and may very well have existed prior to our being born). Where does it come from?
Well, those of us who believe think we know where it comes from. We humans may have slogged and slithered out of the primordial soup, shed our gills and fins and evolved into the walking/talking rocket scientists and rock stars we are now, but how does that explain our sentient consciousness, our innate ability to discern “right” from “wrong?” No other fish or mammal seems to exhibit these peculiar traits. No dog or cat has designed and built a submarine, as far as we know. It wasn’t the dolphins that sent one of their own to the moon. Apes did not produce the iPhone. The Nobel Peace Prize has never been awarded to a giraffe ("Next year, next year!” the giraffes say).
Matthew, you say you’d be no less sad even if you knew he was in Heaven? I disagree. Look, I’m no expert on theology. But it makes me feel good to know that you and Adam will be reunited some day (in Heaven or…wherever), just as I believe I’ll be reunited with my father, and my best friend Jim, whose evidently insurmountable emotional problems caused him to tragically commit suicide at age twenty-five.
And I do believe that. I wish you would too.