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On Wishing That Some Atheists Would

Which would be more comforting?
In the middle of the night.



Dear God, it’s three in the morning and I know that you know that O God because you know everything; and time, my insignificant time, would be among the things that you know.

OK. My knees. They hurt. But I’m kneeling to you O God. I’m awake. I’m on my knees at the side of the bed, and I’m awake. But, God, look I’m scared. I’m an old man and I'm scared. I just got up to piss; and I’m sorry for the language, but, my prostate, you know. And I can’t get back to sleep. The cats are asleep and my wife is asleep, but I've been lying in bed thinking of death.

And...I’m not a good man, God. I was mean to a teller last week, a teller in a bank, you know; and yes I did apologize; but God I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to be mean, an old curmudgeon. How can I stop doing that? Please help me with my temper.

My knees really hurt. God, will you help me be a better human? That’s what all this is about. I really want to be a better human. me become more calm, O my God. I don’t want to take anti-depressants and shrinks are useless and I certainly don’t want to drink more.

Well, my knees really hurt now O God. And anyway, I’ve said enough. Please hear me, O God. And just for tonight, please help me sleep.

Thank you, O Heavenly Father. I pray this in the name of your son, Jesus Christ, who died for all my sins. And I know that they are many. Amen.



Or would this be more comforting? In the middle of the night, a reading.

“The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle accelerator which will probe deeper into matter than ever before. Due to switch on in 2007, it will ultimately collide beams of protons at an energy of 14 TeV. Beams of lead nuclei will be also be accelerated, smashing together with a collision energy of 1150 TeV.”


SO, YES, IT'S THREE IN THE MORNING. I've been lying awake thinking of my failings, of mortality, of morality, a homeless woman in my neighborhood. I get out of bed and wander into my office; I look on my bookshelf for books I’m reading, have read, hope to read, books that I have excerpted here. I check the index of The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins; God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens; Breaking the Spell by Daniel C. Dennett; The End of Faith, by Sam Harris; and Letter to A Christian Nation, also by Sam Harris. I check all the indexes for “depression” and “middle of the night, sleepless, 3 A.M.” Nothing.

To those authors: Why are those topics missing? Wouldn’t you agree that those concerns represent some of the reasons that anxious homo non-sapiens created God and gods and religion, which is why you have a subject and books to write and lecture fees?

nogod2aLook, bright boys, don’t forget that for many of us it’s always the middle of the night; we worry about things. Mortality, morality, homelessness. I’d like you geniuses to back off on the smarty-pants act, that scientific paragraph-speak you do; it seems diversionary. Genes and memes, tra-la; string theory, shake-it; Large Hadron Collider, uh-huh. And endless explanations for the non-existence of God, on and on. Maybe thinking of such in the middle of the night gives you solace. But not me, boys, and not anybody I know; and I’m an atheist. But I’m humble about it, and scared; and I worry. Mortality. You boys are a bit on the arrogant side I think, and without reason, if you're not dealing with the middle of the night and what the rest of us worry about.

Remember our old friend Kurt Vonnegut: “God Damn it; you’ve go to be kind.” Chris, Dick, Sam, Dan, you’re all so very bright. Help us dullards out and tell us how to survive the dark nights. That's what people want to hear. So talk about that more—let’s all, all of us atheists, talk about that more, and let’s stop going on so much about the evils of religion and God. We’re not going to win that one unless we deal first with the night and its concerns. Come on. I know you’re trying to do right, but you’ve got to shut up a little. The middle of the night is tough. How do we get through it? We have these worries. Help us out, bright boys. God damn it, be kind. ###

4 May 2007


[Revised 11 June 2007 and 9 April 2008.]


For information on the Judeo-Christian God, see the Bible.

For Information on the Large Hadron Collider, click here.

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