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He isn't risen

A great number of my friends have posted Jesus-related things on their walls this weekend, as would be expected around Easter time.  The first thing I would like to say is that I think this, in itself, is harmless.  People have believed false things all throughout the ages and so this is not a first.  Also, I think aside from the fact that it's a disconnect from reality, there is no damage done in asserting that Jesus was resurrected.  In itself, it doesn't encourage people to be violent or prejudiced.  And finally, I love traditions--I like Easter songs, decorating eggs, chocolate bunnies, and all of that.  I love to have fun.  I'm certainly not opposed to celebrating holidays.

The next thing I would like to say is why I feel that I should be so vocal in making heard my own voice.  I have a few friends who are non-religious, but are what some might call more pacifistic about it.  That is, they keep it to themselves, most commonly in the interest of avoiding hurting believers' feelings.  I think there is harm in that.  I think that those who keep their silence in this manner give the false impression to the believers that they comprise a much larger percentage of the population than they really do.  It has been seen time and time again in history that it is human nature for the majority to marginalize and often even oppress a minority.  This can be seen in the fact that survey after survey shows that atheists are the most mistrusted and hated minority group in America.

So, while a great many of my friends and family are posting about the miracle of Jesus' resurrection, I feel it my duty to sound the voice of reason.  Whether there was an actual person by the name of Jesus (or any of the other forms proposed--Jesse, Yeshua, etc) and whether he taught the things that are written in the Bible and attributed to him is another discussion for another day.  For the sake of this post, I will concede his existence and that he taught the things found in the four gospels.  What I will not concede is the supernatural things that have been attributed to him.  It is not possible for a liquid to sustain the weight of a person--that is, Jesus did not walk on water.  If it were possible, there would be a way for us to replicate the experiment.  That it has not been replicated since is evidence that it didn't happen in the first place.

People do not come back from the dead.  If they did, we would be able to see them and talk to them.  They could come here and tell us what existence is like after death.  And yet, not a single person has ever done so.  Once brain activity ceases, the body decays, never again to be animated.  This is fact because it has been established.  In all of recorded history, there has not been one single exception to this rule.  A person's organs cease to function: blood stops flowing, breathing stops, and the electrical impulses and chemical flows in the brain stop.  This is called death.  No one has ever had their body reanimated after being completely dead.  If you want to claim that Jesus wasn't completely dead, then I might believe you that he started walking around again--maybe he was in a coma during Saturday and recovered from it on Sunday.  But, even then, he is not alive now because people don't live that long.

This is called reality.  It may be considered by some to be depressing.  It may be considered less fanciful or fantastical than a story about a man who rose from the dead.  But it is true.  Reality is the way the universe functions.  We can learn it, by experiencing the world around us and seeing how things work empirically, or we can make up stories about what we think would be more interesting.  Surely, there's nothing wrong with fiction.  It is fun to watch a movie or read a book that takes you to far-off lands with dragons or light sabers.  But, it's important to make the distinction between real life and fantasy.  To invent a fictitious story and attempt to pass it off as reality is dishonest.

Many people find comfort in the teaching that Jesus rose from the dead and therefore all of us will be resurrected as well.  It is a tempting thought that life is eternal.  Civilizations all throughout time have fantasized about eternal youth, elixir of life, and so forth.  But the fact that it's a neat idea doesn't make it true.  I take comfort in the truth.  I don't need to live forever.  I can influence the world around me for good and make it a better place.  If I improve even just one life or one situation, then surely my life has had some meaning.  I don't believe it is healthy to rely on an afterlife to try to straighten out anything I mess up here.  Yeah, I make mistakes.  Everyone does.  That's fine.  I don't have to be perfect, just good.  If I live my life well, increase the amount of gladness and peace in the world, decrease the amount of sadness and violence, then I figure that's good enough for me.  I'm easily satisfied.  I don't need an eternal reward in heaven.  I don't need to be alive forever and ever.  I'm okay with facing reality.

I really do think that all of the stories people make up about coming back from the dead are based on the fear of death.  Christianity is not the first religion to come up with the idea of resurrection.  There are countless others--perhaps dating back as far as religion itself.  People are afraid that they won't exist anymore after death--as if it will be painful or unpleasant to no longer exist.  I do not fear death.  It isn't something that I invite or wish to hasten, by any means.  But I am comfortable with the fact that my time will come, I will die, and if that means the end of my existence, then I will no longer be around to care about whether there's life after death, so it won't matter in the slightest.

I am at peace with myself, with the concept that I will one day die, and with the deaths of my many loved ones who have died.  I am okay with the fact that I will never again see Karen, my grandma and grandpa, and others whom I have known that are no longer with us.  I have good memories of them and with them, and that is sufficient for me.  In fact, I believe that facing the fact that I will never see someone again after they die gives me more motivation to treat them well while they are alive--to cherish all the more every moment I have with those that I love.  Time is precious and life is short, let us all share it in happiness and love.

And so, this is the Easter message that I share.  You don't need to believe in a magical resurrection in order to find happiness.  You don't need to believe that there is a god somewhere who loves you unconditionally in order to find true love.  You can make happiness and love happen in your life.  If you no longer feel love from those you have trusted or who should love you, you still have the opportunity to go out and find new people that you can love and share your life with.  Friends are a wonderful asset to have.  Lovers are also amazing.  You do not need to rely on a supernatural being to grant you happiness and love.  You can be pro-active and make your life full of meaning, joy, happiness, love, and all of the wonderful things that your heart yearns for.  You are amazing.  Your potential is so great.

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