Joshua Omenga
I have often heard – and will be surprised that any kindred soul in disbelief has not been deluged by – the Biblical quotation: ‘The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.’ It has always seemed to me till this moment that the creator of this Judeo-Christian God is not only creative but daring, having not only proclaimed with such finality against unbelievers but has also attempted to topple other gods. I do not know how those other gods have taken his arrogance, except of course that they too, like him, are the creations of some ingenious minds. But in calling  us, the unbelievers, fools, the maker of this God is, far from being insulting, only being commonsensical. For if this God desires worship as he is depicted; if he is so jealous of it that he would kill his people for worshipping, even temporarily, other gods, how best could he proclaim his interest but to call us, his subverters, fools? Yet I think that this ingenious creator of this jealous God ought to have found a more degrading term. 

Until now, I have always imagined the moment when atheism will be vindicated; when we the unbelievers shall laugh at the men of faith and ask, ‘Verily, are they not fools who opine, There is God? And are they not the most miserable of creations, these who have believed and hoped in a God who did not and never existed?’ O, so glorious a moment it would be; so illumining for the race of reasoning mankind, when the mask of several thousand years shall be removed from the gods; when the shackles of dependence shall be broken from the human race! Ah, how wondrous I have thought the moment will be, that I too, in my unbelief, have entertained more faith than believers! Sometimes I even wished that this God existed for the sole reason of bearing the humiliation and sorrows that the belief in him has caused mankind.

But what if atheism is vindicated? What if the great discovery of today is that God did not die but has never existed? Until now, I have never been frightened by the prospect of being right! I have thought it over, mused over the nonsensicalness of religion, of faith in anything other than the physical; and truly, there is not a corner in which one’s reason might point and say, Look, here lies the God you have been looking for. In my search for this God I have become so thoroughly convinced of his inexistence that the only thing which frightens me is the discovery that he exists. How is it then, that faced with an unmistakable demonstration of his inexistence, my own glorious vindication, it seems that a chill courses within me? Is it perhaps out of sympathy for this God – the God whom I never knew, never believed in, never loved? It is in this phrenetic search for my soul’s expiation that it dawned on me, this truth:

In proving the inexistence of God, I shall have won an argument. I shall have toppled the belief of a thousand years, unwritten the history of many nations, undone in a lifetime what the whole generations of humanity have built. I shall have destroyed the base of the human society, torn the faith from earnest hearts, removed the hopes from aching minds. I shall have done these; but I shall also have given the world a truth long unknown: the nothingness of the one thing that controls their actions. I shall have liberated them, given them reason to live not for a God but for themselves. I shall have removed their hopes but I shall also have removed from them the fear of the supernatural that have driven men to despair. And above all, I shall have offered to the writer of Psalm 14 a last laugh: ‘You, brother, have been the fool all along. Your sacrifices, your forbearances, your hopes, your pleas for the help of the inexistent one – all are nihil.’ 

But in all of this, what shall be my satisfaction, I the discoverer of this great truth? Shall there be for me any recompense for my discovery other than the vanity of knowing that I have been proved right where the rest of mankind have been proved wrong? What then is this desire to be right? Is it not a vestige of belief, of faith, that somewhere in the cosmic order, a supernal being shall reward people for their actions? Ah, this my vindication shall be the giving of a cheque to a man lost in the desert: he may have the means to all the money in the world, but what are they to him in the company of sands? I know; I know; there may yet remain for me the tiny spurt of happiness that derives from self, the happiness that does not require the external other… 

And here comes the burden of truth: how shall man live, having discarded his God? How shall the man live whose evil inclinations are checked not by legislations but by the fear of the supernatural? Which man will do good who knows that he stands to profit more from doing evil? Who will leave the satisfaction of self for the satisfaction of another when he knows that no God will reward his goodness? Is he not a fool who, having the power to subdue another without consequences, refrains from so doing out of the goodness of his heart? Ah, such a one were a saint – of nothingness! His purity is excremental, his sacrifices a demonstration of foolishness. Is this the decadence that my revelation will bring on humanity?

Oh, perhaps I have over-expressed my fears. Perhaps mankind will live as it has always lived, and it would not have mattered that this truth is revealed to it; perhaps many there are who now live without knowing of God’s (in)existence. And yet, if humanity survives without a scare the terrible implication of God’s inexistence, how shall I who am always looking onward survive my inner battle? The inner battle – that beyond the few years of existence there is nothing in the gaping future; that any fame I shall have acquired shall come to nought? There is a tragic dignity in man’s mortality – but only when it comes from the belief in the supernatural. It is a mystic emptiness, with no wall and no space – this contemplation that this life is all there is. And yet this is what I have laboured to prove; this is the belief that I have held ever since I unshackled myself from the burdens of religion. I have lived hoping to be vindicated one day. But now, looking at the full implication of God’s inexistence, I desire the lie.

I desire the untruth of theism. I know; I am convinced, that there is no God. I have seen through the lies of spiritualism; I have seen through the charlatanism of religion; I have known all there in this mysterious desire for the supernatural and have seen all its hollow arguments, all its discordant premises – but what consolation is this knowledge to me now? Ah, that I who have sought to know should be frightened by my knowledge!

I envy those who believe. It may be a lie but there is comfort in it. The man who believes in God will live his life with hopes and desires, will give glory to God for his achievements and blame the devil for his maladies. He will do all things with reason: self-condemnation will not follow him when he does a secret good because he hopes in a supernatural recompense; he will refrain from injurious acts for fear of supernatural punishment. It does not matter that his faith is in nothingness: he shall have lived this life with purpose; he shall have suffered for a purpose; he shall have been a libertine fearing for his soul – whether for good or for bad, he shall have lived with a definiteness of the future in his mind. That chaos is what I dread. Let me live evil now and enjoy the fruit of evil, for I know there will be no punishment for me. But how shall I enjoy it when constantly all I see before me is this looming blankness, this incorporeal future beyond which all my achievements and knowledge and being shall perish? How better for the man who faces inexistence without knowing it!

Now do I know what the creator of God means when he says that the man is a fool who does not believe in God. There is no God, but the man is a fool who finds it out. He were better content with the lie that gives him hope, the lie that gives him purpose, the lie that clears the mists from the future and clothe it with corporeality. There is more comfort in his lie than in my truth. And what if my truth is a lie?

© 2016 Joshua Omenga


One thought on “THE PAINS OF ATHEISM 

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