|(Photo by Anlace)|
Forget all the doctrinal differences for a minute. When you're standing right there in front of a grieving atheist, they just don't seem to matter. Nevertheless, the question remains: What can be said by way of comfort?
In a highly readable article for Huff Post Religion, Ali A. Rizvi addresses that very issue. He asks: What can we offer as a
substitute for the emotional comfort religion offers believers in facing their own death, or that of their loved ones?
Rizvi explains that it's not just a matter of what can be said, but also the delicate delivery of it. He therefore chose to write a well-thought-out condolence letter rather than perhaps stumble through a verbal
He begins by pointing out that the deceased live on through their offspring (assuming, of course, that they had offspring). However,
living on "through" someone might not be nearly as comforting as living on "as" someone…
Rizvi then adds that we all "continue to exist through the earth." Although this ecological approach can be potent in a "collective, worldly sense," Henry Longfellow's words seem to delve even deeper: Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul.
Rizvi then bravely tackles the alleged history of the Universe's "first 13.8 billion years." He assumes that he had no consciousness during most of that time, and finds this to be a somewhat "peaceful idea." He also states that it makes him especially value the awareness that he has during this brief lifetime.
Many religions, including ones that believe in eternal consciousness, also emphasize the value of the here-and-now. Being mindful of, grateful for, and careful with life here on Earth is certainly not just an atheistic perspective.
Copyright October 24, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved