“It’s a nice day, thanks to the accidental juxtaposition of this planet and a nearby star, and the angle of the planet’s declination towards that star at this particular point in its orbit, and the fact that there is no local visible moisture blocking the rays from that star from us. We are well fed, thanks to the gradual development of agribusiness, ground transportation and food storage technology, which keeps our local refrigerators and restaurants well-stocked. Most of us are healthy, because of modern medical technology and taking the advice of nutritionists and personal trainers at least some of the time. For this, we only have the accident of our existences at this wealthy juncture of human history to blame or thank. We’re all just here. Amen.”
And then there would be the first atheist schism, as some of us would form our own atheist church that left off that final “Amen.” And the rest of us would be bored. Atheist kids would shuffle in atheist pews, antsy with ennui and ready to get out the second the last atheist bell was rung. Atheist women would check out each other’s clothes, and atheist men would check out the atheist women. One inspirational atheist would lead the non-prayer, and get to pass around the collection plate.
His is the job I want. I have struggled to increase my own flock, in the Church of Dollar Store Camouflage Jesus, with hardly any followers to show for it. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, with promises of His Noodley Goodness, and Dudeism, with its sacred tracts that consist of solely of funny lines from The Big Lebowski, both attract more worshippers than the Church of DSCJ, which, I admit, promises little more than a chance to die face-down in the mud for His glory, or, if you live, PTSD.
Sure, I’ve daydreamed about a church with a 900-foot tall recreation of my icon in front, with lines of worshippers making pilgrimages to it like it was Vatican Square or Mecca. I’m formally renouncing those dreams now, though, as it becomes increasingly apparent that worshipping together can get you killed.
Jews, Christians and Muslims have all been shot up at services in recent years by people who hate Jews, Christians and Muslims. And nobody is more hated than atheists. Or athetits, as we are often called by people who are threatening us with death on Facebook. Gathering together in an atheist non-prayer space would just be asking for it. Although being raked with automatic weapons fire by a religious lunatic is probably a less painful way to go than being burned at the stake or being broken on the rack, which are more traditional ways to dispose of nonbelievers, why give them a chance when you can stay at home and watch football?
Not gathering together and proclaiming that we know the truth better than anybody else, which is essentially what any church is all about, will admittedly not increase the chances of an official atheist holiday being instituted. This column has always advocated for Darwin Day, a day on which atheists get a paid day off, eat and drink as much as they want, and tell their children that if they are good, a kindly old bearded man in a magic flying sailing ship will will arrive in the middle of the night and bring chemistry sets, cheap telescopes and annoying puzzles to smart kids all over the world. Later in the day, the family will gather round to eat mock turtle soup off of the Table of Elements and decorate the Evolutionary Tree.
Or even a week of festivities, like the Jews. Or a month, which we would respectfully call Rama Dama Ding Dong, when we would drink and eat all night and sleep all day.
Haven’t had a month like that since I was in college.