Seven Ages of An Atheist
by: Joel Kirschbaum
Biographical note: Joel Kirschbaum, Ph.D., is a happily retired chemist who believes that humor can be used like a stiletto to skewer superstitious and irrational beliefs. He has about 130 published peer-reviewed papers and serves as a peer-reviewer for a science journal.
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This is a humorous summary of the phases many people pass through as they evolve to an enlightened, atheistic outlook. It is arranged analogously to Shakespeare's soliloquy describing the seven ages of man. His poem includes the familiar words, “All the world is a stage”, and “One man in his time plays many parts”. Shakespeare’s seven steps start with the mewling infant and end with "…second childishness and mere oblivion”.
Age 7 At first religious service, child thinks, "Pease god, make the shouting speaker stop all this talk about sins and repenting. I’m innocent. I’m too young to behave badly.
Age 15 He and she thinks, "Prove to me your omniscient power by…
He: “…letting me kiss a girl with a full sweater."
She: “…growing me into a larger cup size and have the captain of the football team notice me."
Both think, "I’m afraid that these taboo thoughts mean damnation, with a future of eternal excruciating torture."
Age 18 Both think, "Give me great grades and I'll have religious fervor forever."
Age 20 He and she start thinking of testing taught beliefs, "God can prove its existence by…
He: “…letting me sleep with a great girl each week."
She: “…giving me a big wedding."
Age 25 The maturing agnostic thinks, "Give me a perfect spouse, great children, a respectable, high-paying, life-time job with prosperous benefits, and I'll forget about your everlasting failures to stop famine, disease, poverty and pain. Deal?
Age 30 The atheist comforts a religious person stricken by a catastrophe by saying, "Maybe this is due to an unknown, incomprehensible plan"; while thinking, "There is no deity or devil to blame for such misfortune. I only hope this apparently random, inexplicable horror doesn't happen to me or any of my loved ones.”
Age 95 In separate cubicles of the hospital ICU, with their last breaths of oxygen, the atheists think, "I want to be remembered as having done the best for my family and dear ones, and been a good citizen, and provider. My children are independent, well- intentioned and enlightened. I lived well and am reluctantly resigned to my fate that everyone meets.
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