I remember being around nine years old. I had asked the question whether or not cats went to heaven. The Sunday school teacher said that it was only a place reserved for God's chosen. I then asked why on Earth did God create animals if he didn't care about them? I was then told that the reason for animals being on Earth was for man's enjoyment. I think my faith wavered a little at that point. Something had shifted. I loved my cat. Why didn't God love him the way that I did?
Fast forward to my first suicide, I remember being in the psych ward and having a chaplain explain to me that if you committed suicide then you were committing a sin. I asked him why would God make me suicidal and she told me that this was a choice, not a determination. From there I started to investigate the human mind. I must remind you that I am in no way a trained psychologist, so my musings are purely of my own accord. Mind you that I've been in the mental health system since I was about ten, so I feel I've gathered enough info to make an informed opinion.
The first of the falters was learning that there was such things as chemical imbalances. My initial thought was "Why would God make people have problems that he himself deplored?" It was beyond my grasp, and the start of my atheism.
I went on unadulterated though. I still went to church and took communion like a good little boy. Even thought my intellect was starting to far outreach that of my Sunday school teacher. Things like "Why don't we have genetic defects if we came from two people, and then from one family after the flood?" Oh man... They didn't like that. Another one I remember was asking whether or not it was OK to kill a lot of people when the bible said not to kill. When the Sunday school teacher said that it was not I kindly pointed out that Judges is nothing but Genocide. I was then referred to talk with my parents, who did not approve of me undermining the class.
During my teen years I was enthralled with my depression, so much that I deplored God for letting me get this way. I prayed to him every day to lift it, was I not good enough for him to heed my calls? Apparently not. I was told that God made everyone for a reason. Was mine to be made purely for suffering? I couldn't understand why a loving God would let somebody fall like that.
I tried religion again when I was in my twenties. I went to this youth group called The Edge and I was taken aback by the niceness of the crowd. They seemed to accept me. That is of course until I tried to sing for them. Mind you I was not a good singer before training. Instead of telling me that I should receive lessons these people told me to stop trying at all. What was God like in that? When I did learn how to sing they changed their tune and told me I was brilliant. What a contradiction there is there....
I remember my first suicide attempt in Colorado. I did it and was completely alone by the time I was admitted. In fact the only friends who visited me were atheists. I wondered to myself why would people who did not believe in God want to visit somebody who was trying to kill themself? I was told that since our time is short, we should value life. And thus was the beginning of my true atheism. I still remember Wendy giving me a copy of the first Harry Potter book and kissing me on the forehead.
I started thinking. Why couldn't I control these impulses? Shouldn't a creature of God be able to distinguish between right and perceived wrong? I was repulsed by the idea that God knew the past, present, and future. Therefore he knew what I was going to be even before I was born. Did we really have free will then? Did we really choose our own destiny? If we chose to kill ourselves then why would we be sentenced to hell if he already knew of our fate? Wouldn't a loving God intervene? I asked him many times to, but he listened as well as one of my previous counselors. I never got so much as a sign when I took said bottle of Tylenol.
I began to seek out alternatives to religion. The one that made the most sense was Atheism. I can't tell you why it made me feel better. By all intense and purposes it should make you feel worse. Evolution happened and God played no part in creation, at least no God we could comprehend. The more I read up about science the more at ease I felt. I was comforted in the idea that we are not special. That we shared almost ninety percent of our DNA with every living life form on Earth. That if we were to arisen spontaneously, then what about the trillions of other planets in the universe? A trillion is almost too much for a computer to comprehend, let alone the human mind. What made us so special? It was that that made me feel unique. I was the result of a sperm and egg, out of thousands, to have made me into a human.
Who knows? Anti abortionists talk about the potential of a zygote, but what about the guy who jacks off and wastes millions of sperm on a tissue? What about the girl who menstruates and ejects a valuable egg? It doesn't make sense! Why stop there? Why not outlaw masturbation? Why not outlaw menstruation? You can't. I doubt that many creationist fundamentalists ever think about this. Who can outlaw a normal human process?
I think the thing that has stopped me from committing suicide better than any "God loves you!" rhetoric has to have been the idea that this is our only stop. Once you die, that's it. No light, no afterlife, no nothing. I found solace in Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" when I could find none in the bible. Believe me, I've tried. I remember being in jail and reading it page for page. My thing was that if God made us who we are, then why was I a junky? He knew before hand when making me that my life would end up this way, then why would he have even given me life knowing it would be so fucked up?
I am not set out to convert people. This is only my personal revelation (Ha!) on the subject. I no longer fear death because while I do not believe in God I do believe in fate. When and if I die it shall be of death's own time and not God's. If God truly cared about everyone then why would he administer such suffering as part of our existence? If we suffered already then why allow a place like Hell to exist? He certainly has the power then why not the chutzpah? If he loved us so much then why would he allow an entity like Satan to exist? He is all knowing and all powerful, why allow such a thing to corrupt us men and women?
The universe is indifferent. Once you let go of God and realize this then you will harbor no ill will towards life in itself. It doesn't care about who you are or who you are born to. Many of the royals were born into a life that was plagued by inadequacies resulting from inbreeding. Did they ask to be hemophiliacs? No. They may have been born privileged but they certainly didn't ask to die if they got a minor cut. Such things are arguments for God's existence.
I believe that when I die I will feel nothing. I've been through a coma. It was like blinking one minute and opening my eyes the second. Only thing was that a week had passed and I felt nothing. It was a blink to me. Death to me is like this blink, only it never ends. You won't know you are dead. It's been proven that even the light in the tunnel you experience is that of your brain shutting down. I've experienced this and thought nothing more of it than what it was. A brain defect.
I'm sorry if I don't offer consolation to those who have died. I want nothing more than for people to be happy. My only offering is that the dead felt nothing. They are in peace because they feel nothing. Death is a part of life and only an idealist would consider the idea of somebody living past their bodies. Is that so bad? I mean, you wouldn't even know! You'd be dead!
In closing, is it really so horrible to die? The dead feel nothing. You will always have your memories, so will the people who come after you. When you think of it you have been dead billions of years before you came into existence, why would it bother you that you wouldn't exist for a billion more? We are only on this Earth for a little bit of time. Make the most of it because it's the only life we have.
I will leave now just saying this. If we are truly autonomous in this life, then why waste it on thinking that a man upstairs (It in of itself is egocentric thinking that it would be a he) would care about what you do in your bedroom? I am homosexual and I honestly can't help the way I feel. I've tried to sleep with girls but it really felt like the pieces didn't fit. I remember my first consensual homosexual experience as being one of dread and fear. Why did it feel so damn right if it was so horribly wrong in God's eyes? This was before I learned of the hormone Adrogen that was introduced during the embryos first stages. This was before I learned of the psychological factors that played a role in it. I was a scared young twenty one year old who only knew that it felt right. Why would God make me feel so right doing something that he himself deplored? Later I learned about how most of the mammal species exhibited the same behavior. Why would God give no free will to animals yet allow them to fuck another one of their own gender? Animals know no different. Why would he condemn such an act if he himself gave them no right to do so?
I am not afraid of death because I am not afraid of God's judgment. It's as simple as that. When you let go of him then you let go of centuries of being told what to do. Do what feels right, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. After all, we only have a short time on this Earth. Why not make it pleasant for everyone around us? :-)