The leftover taco meat was heating up in the microwave and the fixin’s were all ready when, ‘Ding Dong’, the doorbell rang. I dropped what I was doing and answered the door to find two men from the local ‘Bible Church’ who proceeded to engage me regarding their religious beliefs.
We had a lively discussion in which I informed them that I was a ‘Humanist’, for want of a title, and was not a ‘believer’ like them. I said that I think, as the ancient Greeks did, that although we have a soul, it dies along with the body. I think that one should treat others as one would like to be treated and live a good life. That is the most one can do. The older of the two gentlemen kept saying, “But what if you are wrong?” I replied that if I am wrong, at least I would go to my grave having stuck to what I think. He informed me that he knows what happens after we die and was positive about it. I disagreed and we parted congenially, and they left.
While eating those again reheated tacos, I realized that a small part of me was a tiny bit insulted. Two strangers came to my door and proceeded to tell me that they know what happens after we die and that what I think was wrong and it was too bad I would not get to their version of heaven.
It reminded me of what the character Lazarus Long says about religion in Robert Heinlein’s book, ‘Time Enough for Love’. “History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to face the unknown without help. But like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure fiddling with it.”
Maybe I should be a little insulted? How shallow would I be to turn my back on my life long thoughts on the matter on the word of a stranger who purports to know otherwise? I have always thought religion was a scam. “Oh, I’ll take that sacrifice and make sure the God gets it!”
Morality and decency come not from what we believe but from our need to live together in peace and brotherhood. Despite the wish of humans to know what becomes of us when we die, we can only know the here and now.
So, live a decent and moral life treating others as you would like to be treated. Cross your fingers and hope for the best!