Beautiful Atheists

I just finished reading Mostly Harmless, the last book in Douglas Adams brilliant series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The book was brilliant. The series was brilliant. The ending was horrible.

I’ve heard it rumored that Adams was going to write a sixth book. On one hand this makes sense, because Mostly Harmless is a horrible place to end the series. On the other hand it makes a strange kind of twisted sense – much like killing Sherlock Holmes made sense to Conan Doyle. But whether there was to be a sixth book or not we will never know, because Adams hated deadlines and never finished anything.

And then he died. And the world was bereft of his wit and his magic. He was also supposed to write a third Dirk Gently book. And he was helping oversee the making of the movie version of the Guide. But he never did any of those things. Other people tried to finish his work and carry on his legacy but it wasn’t the same. One of the most brilliant writers of science fiction was gone – never to return.

But it gets worse than that. Douglas Adams was also a very happy, very contended, and most definitely assured atheist. His view of God was very similar to my view of aliens – it’s a bit ludicrous to even consider the possibility. To him life was the random happening of chance, and he was content with that. He never spent any time searching for the meaning of life, or the source of it’s creation. From dust he came and from dust he would return and that was all there was to it.

So that’s it. It’s over. He never saw the magic, the mystery, the miracle – not of his own creation, and not in the things he created. To those of us who believe in the afterlife, who’s souls demand that there be something more, this view is unthinkable, and horribly tragic. It also seems completely pointless.

If atheists are dead wrong (and we can’t both be right) then their beliefs, their contentment, and their behavior is pathetically stupid. To spend your life believing that there it is an act of random chance is folly. And so those of us who are mystics would be infinitely happier if all atheists were stupid, pathetic creatures who we really don’t care if they wake up one morning and realize how terribly wrong they were.

But that isn’t the case. Some atheists are idiots. But so are some mystics. And some atheists are brilliant, beautiful people. While on side we must acknowledge that such art cannot be created without the presence of God, the logical side of us begs to know how something so indicative of the existence of God can be created by someone who so blatantly disregards his existence!

It’s like having your paints and brushes handed to you and never wondering where they came from. “There’s an invisible hand giving you pain whenever you need it.” “Oh no, that’s just random chance.” Or telekinesis, I suppose.

And then they die. And they never stop and look back and think that their lives have been so beautiful that there has to be a logical reason for it, something beyond random chance and happenstance. They never have a chance to realize they were wrong, and how wonderful it is that they were wrong. They never learn to truly appreciate beauty.

It makes no sense. And it’s not fair. And the more you think about it the less sense it makes and the less fair it seems. And it’s at this point that the seams of the universe begin to crumble and you just stop thinking about it, because there’s a logical explanation for that too, we just don’t know what it is. Some people figure it out and make nice pretty doctrines to explain it all, but they usually make about as much sense as global warming. Reincarnation, universalism, and purgatory all give these brilliant, beautiful people a chance to figure out where they went wrong, but it just doesn’t make sense. Because they won’t. They made up their minds, they had a chance to change them, and if they didn’t do it in their lifetimes I much doubt that eternity will make any difference.

And even supposing they’re right, that the mystics are the silly crazies and that there really is nothing to the universe – that doesn’t make sense either. It still begs the question – what is the point of it all? And where does true beauty come from?

But mostly it seems that the people who appreciate art cannot create it, and the ones who create it cannot appreciate it. And the people who make the most beautiful creations are the ones who’s lives are the most ruined and desperate, and the most brilliant minds in the world have denied that brilliance really exists.

And I think that there is nothing so sad and so pointless in all the world as a beautiful, dead atheist.


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