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6.02.2012

To be or not to be

My friend Suzi and I have been having an ongoing discussion since I got sick about the existence and importance of God. She believes that things happen for a purpose. I'm not so convinced. My regular readers might classify me as an atheist. But that's only true in the narrowest sense. I do not deny or reject the existence of God, I just don't believe it myself. I'm willing to concede I may be wrong. Suzi, on the other hand, is a Catholic who is on a personal quest for signs of miracles. She lent me a book to read about finding miracles in everyday life and how that proves there is a presence out there, the presence of God. Unfortunately, for Suz she hasn't felt that presence personally but believes it is there. She asked, when I faced possible death from cancer, if I thought there was an afterlife. I said no. "I take comfort in feeling there is nothing beyond the grave. I can't fathom the idea of eternal life. After all we're just stardust to begin with," I said. She said, "I don't know if I could live another day if I didn't think there was an afterlife. I'd be too paralysed to go on. There has to be miracles and something greater than us. A reason for your suffering through this ordeal." "I agree there are many things greater than us," I said, ever the pragmatist. "I just don't think it has a consciousness that created or directs humankind. And I'm suffering from a tumor." "Doesn't it terrify you to think it could all be over any moment?" I shook my head. "It comforts me to think this is it. This is the one shot I have to make it right, to make it good, and make it count. When it's over, now or later, hopefully I've left my mark. That's my eternity." "What if you die young, get a disease, screw it up...and lose your shot?" "Others will carry on." "I can't accept that," she said. There we sat, across a supper table from each other last night, close enough to touch, but a universe apart. We're close friends and agree on so much, but on this we can't even agree on the terms of the discussion. Suzi is on a search to confirm her faith and I'm at peace without any. But you can hardly discuss faith intelectually, it's not that kind of topic. That's like discussing cloud patterns when you live on a planet with no atmosphere. It requires a leap just to understand the concept. So after all that, this morning in the car Doc asked me if God knew everyone's name. The question was full of possibilities. Do I tell him of my godless universe? Should I push the question down the road? I decided to be totally honest. "I don't know," I said and left it at that. "He keeps them all on a scrap of paper," Kit laughed, understanding my dilemma.