What If …

(For regular readers … I’m taking a break from my break because, well, you’ll see in a minute.)

Each night before I sink into my most comfortable sleeping position and pull the covers up to my chin, I look outside the window above my bed at the night sky. If it’s not foggy or overcast, I can see a fairly decent swath of stars among the pine trees. (Stars are very special to me, as you can tell if you look closely at my avatar.) On the nights when they’re hidden, I know they’re still there so I just use a little imagination.

Anyway, along with this visual sweep of the night sky, I also say a few words of thanks. Who am I thanking? I don’t know. Certainly not “God.” I guess maybe that Universal Presence that I talk about in my book. Anyway, I start out by expressing my appreciation for “life” … for simply being part of this magnificent universe. Then I add how thankful I am for my health (which, BTW, is very good. Thankfully. Winking smile).

Next, I express gratitude for my home. Not that it’s anything special, but it’s home. It’s a place that protects me from the elements and where I feel safe.

After that, I extend my appreciation for my overall happiness in life. No, my life is not perfect. I experience many of the same trials and tribulations as others, but overall I feel a peace and a general sense of well-being.

And last, I offer thanks for my little dog (Miniature Schnauzer) who brings me so much joy and happiness. Now for some, this may not be a big deal. But from the moment I laid eyes on her at the shelter, I felt a deep-down connection with this little mutt. And this feeling has grown even deeper after her injury last summer when she slipped and fell and severely injured her spine. She was unable to stand or walk at all and we wondered if she would ever return to normal. Without going into extensive detail, suffice it to say she was seen by two neurologists and the prognosis was that with time, physical therapy, lots of love and TLC, she had a 85-90% chance of walking again. I took on the challenge and guess what! She  recovered! Well … to a point. She’s crippled because her left side doesn’t work as it should, but she gets around. And her spirit is still as bright as ever and her tail wags just as fiercely!

Anyway, I’m telling you all this to share what happened a few nights ago.

I don’t recall what point I was in offering my nightly words of gratitude, but suddenly a very strong (and very unwelcome) thought pushed itself into my thoughts. WHAT IF … there really is a “God” and because I no longer believe in “him,” I might be destined for HELL!

Let me tell you. My chest seized up and my heart skipped a beat.

Yes, I know. I wrote about the non-existence of hell and eternal punishment in my book … and I’ve “preached” against it on several blogs. But the several years of BRAINWASHING while I was in church apparently is still roaming around in my amygdala. Even though I’ve been AWAY from it for over 20 years!

Fortunately, the thought only lasted a couple of seconds and I quickly regained my senses. Whew!

As I considered sharing this experience on my blog, I hesitated. I thought … what if I’m stirring up a hornet’s nest? The true-blue Christians will be coming out of the woodwork to tell me it was a MESSAGE FROM GOD! But then I thought, what the heck? I know … and most of my blog readers know … there is no What If. We live. We die. We return to the stars. And that’s all she wrote.

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25 thoughts on “What If …

  1. Nice post. Love the story about your dog. As you know, I too love my dog, Kassey with all my heart. Such love she gives me back, too! 🙂 I get the bit about worrying what if hell is awaiting you, too. Hard to wipe that wiring away. It’s a form of long term, very powerful brain washing that religious indoctrination does to us. Remnants of it are sure to ping back from time to time. As I look at beautiful things like the star filled night sky and my lovely dog, I feel awash in joy because I am. I am. I’m here. There’s no reason I need to be, but I am. The most comforting thought I have come to accept is that things just are. When the pangs of religious indoctrination poke around, I squash them with the freedom I have to just be just because I am. Great post. Thanks for writing it. 🙂

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  2. Oh I love this post. Is that too exuberant? 🙂

    I don’t have pets. Allergies. But I love them. We love our grand-dogs. One of our beloved grand-dogs took sick days before Christmas and died after a valiant attempt to save his life. 😦

    I’m glad your rescued dog mended enough to still be with you.

    That “what if?” stuff is not fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • And like Jeff said, it tends to stick its big nose into our lives every so often. What an impolite, unwanted, nasty, cruddy, awful, hateful thing for our neurons to do!

      P.S. You can be as exuberant as you want, Zoe. 😉 Glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Don’t know about you, but I remember the years of “what if there is no God?” thoughts while I was a Christian. When I finally decided to actually consider both sides, well you know what happened. When I doubted my faith as a Christian, I never found really good answers to my questions. When I doubt my lack of belief now, I do some reading and thinking and pretty quickly realize that I’m on solid ground.

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  4. I completely understand Nan, how these things pop up. I’ve been having a lot of nightmares lately, not sure why, but the ‘what ifs’ do come don’t they. Hell is a horrible thing to have hanging over our cultural head all the time. Even though there is not any evidence of it, it still gets to be used as a ?what if you’re wrong?….. ack.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes Nan, most – if not all – unbelievers seem to be unable to eliminate the “What if” question from our minds. Fortunately, I do not fear going to hell. But then, both heaven and hell are images that I’ve always found too fantastic to have a chance to be real.
    ” Let the Children Come to Me”, teaching religion to kids, pays because toddlers have not yet learned to question notions like gratitude, and admiration for the Universe. So, almost all human brains at that stage accept the ingenuous explications of gods, fairies, miracles. It is really a pity (a shame) that, for that reason, a nice concept like religion has become associated with an ugly word like brainwashing.-

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  6. Hey Nan, I don’t keep pets, never kept any. But I am most often kind to animals.
    And that what if is a message from god dog. Now it is time for you to repent your sins and start praying 😛
    I like this post

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting post. Tonight Peter and I were sharing a few exchanges on my blog, and he said how he secretly hopes his doubts are mistaken and that God will call him back. I must admit I have felt such things too, even in the midst of being a full-on atheist. (While you’ve seen me upset about bible issues recently, I wasn’t questioning my atheism, I was more upset at the magnitude of the mis-truths I’d been told in church.)

    Do you ever feel, Nan, that you wished religion was true and that God would call you back? I wonder if that will ever go away for me considering how devout I was. Perhaps it’s what Inspired was talking about…maybe it’s just a little rement popping up from indoctrination to irritate us. I wish that shit would STOP.

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    • Hi Ansv!

      Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

      In answer to your question … No, No No! Once I was finally able to break free from the chains of religion, I knew I would NEVER go back. I do understand your feelings, however, because it definitely takes time to overcome the indoctrination.

      Hang in there! It will get easier.

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      • In my mind I know I can absolutely never go back to being a believer, under any circumstance.

        Apparently there must still be a thread tied to god on my emotional side, though. I would like it to break immediately, but it’s stubbornly hanging on against my wishes.

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        • Question: Have you ever actually considered that god might not exist? Think about it. There is absolutely NOTHING to indicate there is a god … except in your mind. Even though you say you have made a firm decision “in my mind” to never go back, it’s important to remember your mind and emotions are definitely tied together.

          That’s why I say it’s going to take time to get past the indoctrination. Some people can walk away from Christianity and never look back. Others (many others) battle for some time to get past the guilt and fear that hangs around. And that’s what it is … guilt and fear that just maybe god does exist and you’re going to be punished for not believing in and following “him.”

          It’s good that you’re visiting the blogs of atheists and deconvertees. Each time you read something that confirms your decision, it will become stronger and easier to “know” you’re on the right path … with no “threads” attached.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. In a video of The God Delusion, psychologist Jill Mitton tells Richard Dawkins (starting at 1:02) about the difficulty she had (has?) to untie the thread with her religious past.

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