Christians Claim Atheist Gene Wilder Is In Hell

Many Christians believe Wilder is now in hell because he was an atheist.
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Gene Wilder is spending an eternity in the fires of  hell according to some Christians.

Gene Wilder, born Jerome Silberman, died yesterday (August 29) at the age 83. Actor, screenwriter, director, and author, Wilder was beloved by many for for his roles in “Willi Wonka & the Chocolate Factory ,” “Blazing Saddles,” and “Young Frankenstein,” to name but a few.
However, Wilder was also an atheist. In Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish, published in 2005, Wilder made it clear that he was an atheist, saying:
I’m going to tell you what my religion is. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Period. Terminato. Finito. I have no other religion. I feel very Jewish and I feel very grateful to be Jewish. But I don’t believe in God or anything to do with the Jewish religion.

And:

I’m a Jewish-Buddhist-Atheist.

However, because Wilder identified as an atheist, many Christians and other religious people believe that he will be punished in the afterlife.
Indeed, one Christian blogger devoted a lengthy blog post to explain why Wilder would spend an eternity in Hell.  Christian blogger David J Stewart writes:

Sadly Gene Wilder is a professed atheist. This just goes to prove that there are many moral people, good and decent souls, who are still unsaved in their sins and bound for the Lake of Fire for all eternity without Jesus Christ…

Stewart continues with the usual fire and brimstone propaganda:

The Holy Bible is God’s inspired Word. Mr Wilder denies Jesus as His Savior. The Bible warns in 1st John 2:22-23, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledges the Son hath the Father also.”
In a moment of profound absurdity, Stewart argues that Wilder will be consumed by the flames of hell, and will be missing out on God’s Great Chocolate Factory in the sky:

Heaven is a real place far greater than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The Bible’s description of Heaven in Revelation 21 far exceeds the fictitious movie … 
Heaven has gates of pearl and streets of gold (Revelation 21:21). Do you really think that God doesn’t have chocolate in Heaven? … I know that there will be edible things all around us, if that’s what you want, just as in the Willie Wonka factory.

No doubt there are many such absurd declarations being made across social media platforms as theists exploit the death of Wilder to promote their religious superstition. And whether they declare that Wilder is in heaven, or in hell, the mistake is the same.
In a blog post meant to combat the widespread belief that Wilder is now in Hell, the Naked Pastor reports:

I’ve been coming across posts of Christians doing their best to convince everybody that even though Wilder was a good man that brought joy to many people, he was nevertheless a Jewish-Buddhist-Atheist, and because of that won’t be in Heaven.

To be clear, Wilder is not in heaven,nor is he in hell. He is dead. Full stop.
Wilder died Monday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
According to a statement from Wilder’s nephew, Wilder died as a recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – one of his favorite songs– played in the background.

Bottom Line : Wilder was right to be an atheist. In the end, of course, there is no heaven, and there is no hell. Death is final, and that is tragedy enough. There is no afterlife. All we can do now is mourn the loss, and celebrate the life.

NOTE: This post was originally posted patheos.com by Michael Stone

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Religious Instruction Has No Place In The Education State

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‘Most reasonable people ..would see a place in the school curriculum for ‘generous religious education’.
Photo: Reuters

The promise from  new Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to make Victoria the”education state” is  welcome and timely.
But one aspect of education that is increasingly worrying parents is the place of special religious instruction (SRI) in Victorian government schools: 42 percent have withdrawn their children from SRI over the past 12 months, leaving fewer than one in six enrolled (The Age, 21/12/2014), after the government issued a more detailed “opt-in” form to parents that explained the distinction between “religious instruction” and “religious education” and made it clear  participation was voluntary.
People have started to stand up for a genuinely secular education system, not one that allows for religious indoctrination  “under the radar”.  Over the past decade or so, SRI has changed. Some might remember  “RE”  in the old  days: benign, boring and eminently forgettable. Not so any more. SRI, at least the Christian version operated by ACCESS Ministries, could fairly be described as  “muscular”  – a much more aggressive form of intervention that essentially seeks to turn the local government school into a local church. Religious providers of SRI cling to their legislative mandate to be in schools, while secular parents fight for their kids to have nothing to do with it and principals worry about the educational quality of what they see in SRI sessions.

Victorians have good reason to expect the new government to fix this ongoing problem. Unfortunately, Labor has form on this matter.

Many would not be aware of the legislative sleight-of-hand perpetrated by a former Labor minister when she introduced  the updated Education and Training Reform Act 2006. The act sensibly reiterated the longstanding policy that “education in government schools must be secular and not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect”. So far, so good. But it prefaced this statement with the weasel phrase: “Except as provided in section 2.2.11.

“When we look at section 2.2.11 we find that it permits what it calls “special religious instruction”, which is defined as” instruction provided by churches and other religious groups and based on distinctive religious tenets and beliefs”.

This means the act has an absurd logical form. It is like saying:”
Section 1: Except as provided in Section 2, robbery is not permitted;
Section 2: Robbery is permitted”. It is hard to imagine how such nonsense got through our allegedly rational Parliament. The only thing that might explain such a dereliction of parliamentary duty is the fact that the act  is nearly 500 pages long, but there is no excuse for such a failure to scrutinise.

This is not the worst of it. Most reasonable people, including non-religious people, would see a place in the school curriculum for “general religious education”, which is defined in the act as “education about major forms of religious thought and expression”. We would add one rider: that atheism, rationalism and humanism be included in such study, along with other “forms of religious thought and expression”. Many would argue freedom of religious belief requires such education, because freedom implies informed choice and if people are not familiar with the range of alternative religious and non-religious systems,  theyare not freely choosing their beliefs.

Having paid lip service to general religious education in the act, successive education ministers have then done nothing about it. Instead, the Education Department has blundered on with SRI, ducking this way and that in response to parental outrage and principals’ concerns on  one hand, and pressure from religious lobby groups defending their turf on the other.

The reasons for parental outrage and principal concern have been well documented. Consider this picture: an SRI volunteer arrive sat a school to conduct their weekly session, and the class is divided  – those doing SRI stay inthe classroom and those not doing SRI, even if they are the majority, must get up and go somewhere else. By law, those who are forced to leave are not allowed to do other lessons because this might  give them an advantage over those doing SRI.

Further, the main provider of SRI, ACCESS Ministries, was last year embarrassed after it was revealed its volunteers had distributed “biblezines” at a Surf Coast college that described homosexuality as a sin. As reported by The Age (17/8/14). The Education Department  subsequently clarified  the rules around what materials could be distributed.

And then there’s the matter of the typical materials used in SRI.
Those used by ACCESS Ministries are “cutesy” to say the least – lots of cartoons, games and references to celebrities. But far from being innocent, this format mirrors a  sophisticated strategic plan, summarised in a paper called The Evangelisation of Children, published in 2004 by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation.

This paper states unequivocally that: “Evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of Christian duty.” It urges that children “be discipled no matter how diverse their family or faith background”, because “children are more open and receptive to the gospel that at any other time in their lives.”

No wonder parents are concerned.

The time is right to fix this unholy nonsense once and for all. If the new Labor government genuinely wants Victoria to be the “education state”, it should abandon religious indoctrination, in the form of SRI, and instead work with religious and non-religious groups of goodwill  to develop a world-class curriculum to educate Victorian children about the range of religious and non-religious world views  present in Victoria’s successful multicultural society.

Author: Dr Meredith Doig is president of the Rationalist Society of Australia.

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I Asked Atheists How They Find Meaning In A Purposeless Universe

I Asked Atheists How They Find Meaning In A Purposeless Universe If there’s no afterlife or reason for the universe, how do you make your life matter?

Warning: The last answer may break your heart.

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Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist and author of
Faith vs Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible

“The way I find meaning is the way that most people find meaning, even religious ones, which is to get pleasure and significance from your job, from your loved ones, from your avocation, art, literature, music. People like me don’t worry about what it’s all about in a cosmic sense, because we know it isn’t about anything. It’s what we make of this transitory existence that matters.
“If you’re an atheist and an evolutionary biologist, whatyou think is,I’m lucky to have these 80-odd years: How can I make the most ofmy existence here? Being an atheist means coming to grips with reality. And the reality is two fold. We’re going to die as individuals, and the whole of humanity,unless we find a way to colonise other planets, is going to go extinct. So there’s lots of things that we have to deal with that we don’t like. We just come to grips with the reality. Life is the result of natural selection, and death is the result of natural selection. We are evolved in such a way that death is almost inevitable. So you just deal with it.
“It says in the Bible that, ‘When I was a child I played with childish things,and when I became a man I put away those childish things.’ And one of those childish things is the superstition that there’s a higher purpose.
Christopher Hitchens said it’s time to move beyond the mewling childhood of our species and deal with reality as it is, and that’s what we have to do.”

Susan Blackmore
,Psychologist

“If I get a what’s-it-all-for sort of feeling, then I say tomyself,What’s the point of it all?There isn’t any point. And somehow, for me – I know it’s not true for other people – that is really comforting. It slows me down. It reminds me that I didn’t ask to be born here, I’ll be gone, and I won’t know what’ll happen, I’ll just be gone, so get on withit. I find that comforting, to say to myself that there is no point, I live in a pointless universe. Here I am, for better or worse, get on with it.
“I was thinking about this yesterday. I was gardening,out there pulling up brambles, and I thought,Why do I do this?And the answer is, because I’m smiling, I’m enjoying it, and actually I love it. It’s because of the cycles of life. I was thinking,What’s the point of growing these beans again, because they’ll just die, and then next year I’ll do the same thing again. But isn’t that a great pleasure in life, that that’s how it is? The beans come and go, and you eat them and they die, and you do the work, and you see it come and go. Today is the due date for my first grand child, and I think similarly about that. The cycles of birth and death. Here I am in the autumn ofmy life, I suppose – I’m 64 –and I’m just going through the same cycles that everyone goes through, and it gives me a sense of connection with other people. God, that sounds a bit poncey.
“The pointlessness of life is not a thing to be overcome.It’s something to be celebrated now, because that’s all there is.”

Simon Coldham,
“father, husband, and son”:

“Life is a series of experiences, and the journey, rather than the end game, is what I live for.I know where it ends; that’sinevitable, so why not just make it a fun journey? I amsurrounded by friends and family, and having a positive effect on them makes me happy, while giving my kids the opportunity, skills, and empathy to enjoy their lives gives me an immediate sense of purpose on a daily basis. I can’t stop the inevitable so I’ll just enjoy what life I have got, while I’ve got it. I won’t, after all, be around to regret that it was all for nothing. “

Dr. Adam Rutherford ,
Geneticist and broadcaster:

“To assume there is meaning to the universe is to misunderstand our cosmic insignificance. It’s just self-centred and arrogant to think that theremight be something that might bestow its secrets upon us if we look hard enough. The universe is in different to our existence.But we’re not merely slaves to our genes.
“A meaningless universe does not mean we live our lives without purpose. I’m an atheist (inasmuch as that word means I don’t see evidence or the need for supernature), but I try to live my life replete with purpose. Be kind; learn and discover as much as you can; share that knowledge; relieve suffering when you can; have tonnes of fun. That’s why it’s not    pointless. We have the power to create life, and to show those liveswonder. Surely that’s enough? It is for me.”

Gia Milinovich,
Writer and broadcaster:

“Several years ago I workedon a film called Sunshine which was written by Alex Garland. He wrote the film as an exploration of the inevitable, eventual end. Every day Alex and I would have long, involved discussions about ‘the end of time’. One thing he said stuck with me: ‘Our problem is that, in an entirely meaningless universe, our lives are entirely meaningful.
’“There is meaning in the universe. My children mean something to me. My husband means something to me. The roses blooming in my garden mean something to me. So, there is meaning in the universe, but it is localised: It perhaps only exists here on Earth.
“When you start to think in universal time spans, your perception of humanity must necessarily change. Differences of opinion seem pathetic. National borders become ridiculous.The only thing that starts tobe important to me is material reality and understanding how it operates and how matter itself came into being in the first place.
“Accepting that not only willI die, but so will everyone I know and everyone I don’t know – and humanity, and the universe itself – brought me a very deep and profound peace. I don’t have to run away from the fear of oblivion. I am not afraid. I celebrate reality. I don’t have to pretend that there will be some magicdeus ex machinain the third act of my life which will make it all OK and give me a happyending. It is enough that I exist, that I am here now, albeit briefly, with all of you. And it’s an amazing, astonishing, remarkable, totally mind-blowing fucking miracle.”

Robyn Vinter,
journalist:

“I try not to ache my brain too much about how vast the universe is and what life’s all about. I think it’s OK not to spend time wondering what the point of human existence is. All I know is we’re here and we might as well not have a horrible time, if we can help it. I do feel that life is ultimately pointless, but I honestly don’t care. I’m just squeezing as much happiness out of it as I can,for me and the people around me.

Arney, biologist and science writer:“

I was raised in the Church of England. As a teenager, I‘found Jesus’ and joined theevangelical movement, probably because I desperately wanted to feel part of a group, and also loved playing in the church band. I finally had my reverse Damascene moment as a post-doctoral researcher, desperately unhappy with my scientific career, relationship, and pretty much everything else, and can clearly remember the sudden realisation: I had one life, and I had to make the best of it. There was no heaven or hell, no magic man in the sky, and I was the sole captain of my ship.
“It was an incredibly liberating moment, and made me realise that the true meaning of life is whatI make with the people around me – my family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. People tell religious fairy stories to create meaning, but I’d rather face up to what all the evidence suggests is the scientific truth – all we really have is our own humanity. So let’s be gentleto each other and share thejoy of simply being alive, here and now. Let’s give it our best shot”

Dr. Buddhini Samarasinghe, molecular biologist:

“I think there are two things about living in a godless universe that scare some people. First, there is no one watching over them,benevolently guiding their lives. Second, because there is no life after death, it all feels rather bleak.
“Instead of scaring me, I find these two things incredibly liberating. It means that I am free to do as I want; my choices are truly mine. Furthermore, I feel determined to make the most of the years I have left on this planet, and not squander it. The life I live now is not a dress rehearsal for something greater afterwards; it empowers me to focus on the here and now. That is how I find meaning and purpose in what might seem a meaningless and purposeless existence; by concentrating on what I can do, and the differences I can make in the lives of those around me, in the short time that we have.

Dr. Pete Etchells, lecturer and science writer:

“Whenever I get involved inconversations about the meaning of life, and where everything’s headed, I can’thelp but feel that there’s an underlying assumption that because these are ‘big’ questions, they necessarily need big answers. There aren’t any, though. We’re not here for a universal purpose, and there is no grand plan, no matter how tempting it is to believe it.“But that’s absolutely fine, because it means that if there aren’t any big answers, the little ones are all the more important. So every day, I take my dog fora walk in the field near my house. Sometimes I get to see a pretty sunset, but usually it’s either bucketing down and I get soaked, or cold, or the field is full of mud and bugs and dog turds, and it’s a pain to navigate through. Whatever the situation, though, my dog has the most ridiculous fun ever, and being a part of that little moment of joy is what it’s all about. So be nice to the people and things around you – it doesn’t cost anything, and generally makes the world a nicer place to live in. Focus on the little answers.”

Alom Shaha, physics teacher and author of The Young Atheist’s Handbook:

“Yes, of course I know that life is ultimately without meaning or purpose, but the trick is not to wake up every morning and feel that way. Cognitive dissonance? Embrace it. Create a sense of meaning and purpose by doing something useful with your life (I teach), being creative – I don’t mean that in a poncey hipster way, I meanmake a curry, build some bookshelves, write a poem.
“And most importantly, find people you like and love and spend lots of time with them. I regularly have people over for dinner, throw parties for no other reason than I just want to spend time surrounded by the people I love. And if you’re really stuck, eat rice and dal. Physically filling yourself with the food you love really does fill the emptiness you may feel inside.”

Richard Smyth, writer:

“It’s honestly never bothered me. I suppose that’s because my definitions of ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ are pretty thoroughly rooted in the world I know. I know what happiness is, and love, and fulfilment and all that; these things exist (intermittently) in my short earthly life, and it’s from these things I derive my ideas of what a meaningful,purposeful existence is.
“I am, like anyone, staggered when I consider my tininess in the multi-dimensional scheme of things, but – and I know this sounds a bit silly – I don’t really take it personally. Meaning has to be subjective; atheism actually makes it easier to live with this, as who is better placed than me to judge the meaningfulness of my work, or my relationship, or my piece of buttered toast ? ”

Tracy King, writer and producer:

“The notion of an eternal afterlife, particularly one based on a meritocracy, is for me the opposite of purpose and meaning. If I’m going to heaven or hell because of my trivial actions (depending on which religion you choose) on earth, then I don’t really have much choice about what I do, which somewhat minimises my free will and personal autonomy. I can’t find any purpose in that. Life is not a rehearsal or test for something else, and it’s anathema to ‘doing your best’ to treat it as such.
“I don’t pursue purpose or meaning or even happiness, because I suspect those things, like religion, lead to complacency. If the bath is the perfect temperature, why would you ever get out? Instead, I actively try and push myself to achievet hings that contribute to society in a positive way (for my particular skillset, that’s science animation), that give me a sense of a job well done and a benchmark to improve on. Social achievements that have a small chance of outlasting me, but if not, it doesn’t matter. I won’t know about the world forgetting me, ‘cause I’ll be dead.”

Dan Griliopoulos, games journalist:

“There’s no inherent meaning in life, but that doesn’t mean that it’s meaningless. First off, you’re raised, deliberately or accidentally, with an array of beliefs, values and prejudices by family, school, and society, that mesh or clash with the things you biologically like – that is, nature and nurture shape your preferences. So there’s already things that you value, more get put on you fairly quickly, and you get to spend your life exploring their precedence, their acceptability to society and its laws, and whether you really like them or not.
“So, what I’m saying is that value is inherent to us all, which provides a grounding to meaning. I’m not saying that such a meaning is justified, but if you’re smart, lucky and/or ruthless it might be internally coherent by the time you hit adulthood, which is more than most off-the-shelf meaning systems out there (whether that’s philosophies, health systems, or religions). Meaning is a human thing – to go looking for it in the alien, unconscious universeis nonsense on stilts.”

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association:

“People ask how you can find any meaning in life when you know that one day you’ll be dead and in due course nothing of you will survive at all – not even people’s memories. This question has never made sense to me. When I’m reading a good book, or eating a good meal, or taking a scenic walk, or enjoying an evening with friends, or having sex, I don’t spend the whole time thinking,Oh no! This book won’t last forever; this food will be gone soon; my walk will stop; my evening will end! I enjoy the experiences. Although it’s stretched out over a (hopefully) much longer time, that’s the same way I think about life. We are here, we are alive. We can either choose to end that, or to embrace it and to live for as long as we can, as fully and richly as possible.
“Obviously this means that we all have different meanings in our lives, things that give us pleasure and purpose. The most meaningful experiences in my life have been relationships with people – friends and family, colleagues and classmates. I love connecting with other people and finding out more about them. I enjoy the novels and histories that I read for the same reason and I like to feel connected to the people who have gone before us. I hope that the work I do in different areas of my life will make the world a better place for people now and in the future, and I feel connected to those future people too, all as part of a bigger human story.”

Stephen Knight, host of the Godless Spellchecker podcast:

“When we reject the imagined supernatural meaning from our existence, what we’re left with is far from a consolation prize. Sure, it’ll be messy at times, sometimes joyous, sometimes miserable, but it’s all we’ll ever know. And it’s ours. We invent comforting lies to distract us from one simple truth: Oblivion looms. So, what are you going to do about it?
“I choose to live, laugh, love, travel, create, help others, and learn. And I’m going to do as much of this as I can manage, because the clock is ticking. We create our own meaning, and there’s more than enough to be had. Seize it where you can.”

Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Doubt:

“I spent many years of my life sad about there being no divine meaning, but having learned the history of doubt and unbelief, and thought it over for the next decade and a half, that issue isn’t on the table for me, in that way, any more. What I believe now is that we think we have a meaning problem because we recently got out of a relationship with a character named God, whose given traits includedbeing the source of human meaning.
“Most people through history have not believed in an afterlife: We have records of the first time theideas of an afterlife appeared in our culture and others, which means that people before lived without an afterlife. You don’t hear them calling death an abyss. The horror we have about there being no afterlife is entirely local to people from a culture that used to believe that everyone went on living after death, and these are an absurd anomaly.
“If I ask myself ‘What is life for?’ I have to answer: ‘Wrong question.’ You don’t ask how your foot knows to push the blood in your toesback up to your heart. It happens, but your foot doesn’t know how it knows to do it. Life isn’t for anything, but it does matter. We are a witness tothe universe. We are the witnesses to each other. We believe each other into being. We generate things and people that matter to us and to others. Human life is such a bizarre, endlessly complex riot of emotions and processes; it is amazing to be one.”

Michael Marshall of Merseyside Skeptics:

“Often people of faith assume that because atheists don’t believe in a master plan or an afterlife we have no purpose in life, but I couldn’t disagree more. I find the fact that there is no external force incharge of us all makes the life we do have much more interesting. We get to derive our meaning, and create our own purpose, and that makes it a much richer experience than playing out pre-written scripts for the amusement of an omniscient almighty. That we all just get one life to live means we don’t havethe safety net of a do-over, and it makes the time that we do have more meaningful to me.“It also means that because there is no ‘right’ answer to life, there are far fewer wrong answers – if you’re doing something you love, and you aren’t harming other people, you’re basically on the right track. I find compassion in atheism: It makes me want to help people, because the idea that I stood by and watched someone’s one shot at life go badly in a way I could have prevented makes me enormously sad.It’s also why I reject the idea that atheism leads to a selfish mentality; it leads me to the feeling that we all have the same vanishingly short time to enjoy, so it’s incumbent on us all to try to make society work for everyone.
“It’s true that in a century or two my existence will be forgotten, but I find it comforting to know that everything we stress over will be lost in the merest blip of cosmological time. The universe doesn’t care about my mortgage; our obscurity and irrelevance can be a blessing as well asa burden.”

Martin Dixon, photographer:

“The idea of some higher meaning to life is so ingrained in our culture that I think we approach this from the wrong angle. I don’t believe there is any great meaning or purpose to life, but rather than see this as a lack of something, why not look at what’s actually there? I find meaning in my relationships with friends; I find meaning in music, literature, art, and what they reveal of the minds, lives, and values of the people who created them. Ifind meaning in the ever-increasing understanding forged by scientists and philosophers.I find meaning in the actions of others, how people choose to interact with the world.
“All this sounds like I spendmy time extracting meaning from things, but I mostly spend my time eating things, wandering about, doing things I need to do, and being entertained/annoyed by cats.
“Things don’t happen for a reason. The world exists in the moment for its own sake and we just happen tobe able to observe, experience, and reflect on it. What matters is how you live day to day.”

Jan Doig

“Three years and nine months ago I would have declared myself agnostic. Then my husband died without warning at the age of 47. My life fell to pieces. This is no exaggeration. As the terrible days passed in a fog the same question kept forming. Why? Why him? Why us? I was told by well-meaning friends that itwas part of God’s plan and we would simply never know what that was. Or from friends with a looser definition of religion, that the Universe had something to teach me. I had lessons to learn.
“These thoughts caused me great fear, anger, and confusion. What sort of God, even if he had a plan for me, would separate a fine, kind, gentle man fromhis children? Why would God or the Universe look down and pick on our little family for special treatment? Why a good man with not a bad bone in his body who had never raised a hand to anyone? My best friend for 29 years.Any lesson the Universe had to teach me I would have learned willingly. He didn’t have to die!
“I thought about it a lot. I was raised Catholic so guilt ran through me like writing through a stick of rock. Had I been a bad wife? Was he waiting for me? There were days when, if I had been certain of a belief in an afterlife, I might have gone to join him. It was a desperate time. I needed evidence and there simply wasn’t any. I just had to have faith and believe.
“One day as I was sitting on his memorial bench in the local park I suddenly thought,What if no one is to blame? Not God. Not me.Not the Universe. What if he’s gone and that’s all there is to it? No plan. Just dreadful circumstances.A minor disturbance in his heart led to a more serious and ultimately deadly arrhythmia, and that killed him in a matter of moments. It is a purely scientific view of it. I may seem cold or callous but I found comfort in that. I cried and cried and cried, but that made logical sense to me and brought me great peace.
“My heart and head still miss my husband every day. I treasure everything he gave me and I love him as much today as the day he died. But I can remember him happily without wondering what we had done to deserve this dreadful separation.
“So I declare myself atheist (and humanist by extension) and my friends shake their heads. I stay onthe straight and narrow without the guiding hand ofa creator or any book of instructions.
“I’m not a religious or a spiritual person. (For some reason many of my female friends are shocked by this admission!) I don’t believe in God or the Universe. I don’t believe in angels, the power of prayer, spirits, ghosts, or an afterlife. The list goes on and on. I think there is a scientific meaning for everything, even if we don’t understand it yet. I find meaning in everyday things and I choose to carry on.
“The sun comes up and I have a chance to be kind toanyone who crosses my path because I can. I make that choice for myself and nobody has to tell me to doit. I am right with myself. I try my best to do my best, and if I fail, I try again tomorrow. I support myself in my own journey through life. I draw my own conclusions.“
I find joy in the people I love. I love and I am loved. I find peace in the places I visit. Cry when I listen to music I love and find almost child like joy in many things. This world is brilliant and full of fascinating things. I have to think carefully for myself. I don’t have to believe what I’m told. I must ask questions and I try and use logic and reason to answer them. I believe that every human life carries equal worth. I struggle with how difficult the world can be, but when we have free will some people will make terrible decisions. No deity forces their hand and they must live with that.
“Life is a personal struggle. Grieving is never an easy road to travel. It’s painful and lonely at times but I use what I know to try to help when I can. I try to be loving and caring with my family and friends, and have fun. I will cry with friends in distress and hear other people’s stories and be kind because it does me good as well. I listen and I learn. It helps me to be better. Life without God is not a life without meaning. Everything, each and every interaction, is full of meaning. Everything matters.”

This is a guest post originally posted on Buzzfeed by Tom Chivers.

Tom Chivers is a science writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

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Know more about Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak

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LOKMANYA BAL GANGADHAR TILAK (1856-1920)

(A) HIS COLLEAGUES AND FOLLOWERS :

Vishwanath Narayan Mandalik, Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, Dadasaheb Khaparde, K.P. Khadilkar, N.C.Kelkar, Balkrishna Shivram Moonje, Shivram Mahadeo Paranjape, Shridhar Ganesh Jinsivale, Mahadeo Ballal Namjoshi, Vasudeorao Kelkar, Ramchandra Ganesh Barve, Balwant Ramchandra Natu, Hari Ramchandra Natu. Ganesh Joshi, Dajisaheb Khare, Gangadhar Deshpande, Bapuji Aney etc.

(B) HIS IDENTITY :

He was born in a Chitpavan Brahmin Khot family at Chikhali (Ratnagiri), called himself as ‘Rashtravadi’ (nationalist). However his works and words show that he was Brahmin first, Hindu second and Rashtravadi third. He copied and plagiarized  the slogan ” Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it” coined and first given by Barrister Joseph Baptista. Barrister Baptista also taught Tilak and Annie Besant the concept and strategy of Home Rule Movement.

(C) HIS MISSION :

To oppose British Rule in order to defend and protect ‘Varnashram Dharma’ (caste system), Manusmriti and to oppose reforms for being responsible for the “social deterioration” of Hindus and to re-establish Brahmin supremacy and hegemony in Hindu society.

(D) HIS ENEMIES :

British Government, Lokhitvadi Deshmukh, Jyotirao Phule, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, M.G. Ranade, G.K.Gokhale, Chh. Shahu, Pandita Ramabai and others. He accused and attacked them as traitors, anti-Brahmins, anti-Hindu, anti-nationals etc.

(E) HIS IMPORTANT CAMPAIGNS :

(1)  He opposed Agriculturalists Relief Act, 1879 and Agricultural Reforms which  gave some relief and basic protection to the famine affected poor farmers. He took anti-farmers stand and strongly supported moneylenders and Khots. He also prevented government from establishing Agricultural Banks for farmers in 1885.

(2)  He strongly opposed introduction of compulsory universal primary education and university reforms. He argued that teaching reading and writing to non-Brahmin children would actually harm and spoil them. He also specifically and vehemently opposed the admission of children from ‘untouchable’ Mahar and Mang communities in schools.

(3) He strongly opposed girls  education on the ground that educating girls amounted to loss of nationality, would de- womanize, would ruin their virtues and make them immoral and insubordinate and destroy Hindu families.

(4) He vehemently opposed the Age of Consent Bill,1891 which sought to raise the age of girls from 8 to12 years for marriage.

(5) He was opposed to secularism and believed in and propagated the concept of Hindu Nation based on the Dharmshastras. His public Ganeshotsav and Shiv Jayanti divided Hindu-Muslim further and gave boost to violence and instigated communal riots.

(6) He opposed two Factory Acts of 1881 and 1891 which had addressed a few  basic demands of workers like the fencing of dangerous machinery, limiting the working hours of women and children and a weekly holiday. He also always sided with mill owners though workers went on strikes in his support.

(7) He declared that Chh. Shahu Maharaj, the descendant of Chh. Shivaji Maharaj along with all Marathas is a Shudra and hence he along with all Marathas had no right of ‘Vedokta’ rituals.

(8)  He openly opposed farmers and backward class people becoming Members of Parliament, Assemblies and  Councils.

(F) He is the Father of Indian Political Corruption. He misappropriated Rs.20,000/- collected for the Memorial of Shiv Chhatrapati. He instigated people in the name of Hindu religion in order to protect the Brahmin supremacy. The ingratitude he had shown to Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad, Jyotirao Phule and Shahu Chhatrapati is legendary. Who gave him the title ” Lokmanya” is a big mystery.

(Ref. “Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings”.
Edited by Prof.Dr. Biswamoy Pati, Dr.Parimala V. Rao, “Deshache Dushman” by Dinkar Rao Jawalkar, Kesari, Maratha etc.)

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