an excerpt from Running From The Taxman, A Great American Road Trip, by Chris Plante

May 7, 2013

Dear Maggie,

It’s nice to patch things up with you, and yes, I really did mean it when I expressed how you are much more gratifying for me than I cannot even imagine the completion of all those tax returns could have possibly been.  You are my one and only.  And now that we got over the easy topics I will reply the best I can to your inquiry into my belief in a deity.  It’s something we did not talk of much during our short time together.  My thoughts, being in a state of head over heels love, were focused on life during my moments with you.

     My first reaction, though, is to state that I think humans created God.  And I think they created him to give themselves something to forgive them for doing bad things. It’s an easy way out, I suppose, although I have never tried it so I may be completely wrong on that matter.

     But a human who has no God has to take responsibility for his or her actions. And I’m talking about a good, honest, non-narcissistic human.  That kind of person will take responsibility for what he or she does.  There is no one to forgive that person, other than those who were wronged whom he or she must repair the ill deed through restitution.  Only then would forgiveness be granted, and would be done so by the very person who was victimized.  Repairing the wrongs for the person who does not believe in a God, then, becomes a matter of doing what is best for humanity right now.  There is no promise of a golden mansion on pearl lined streets waiting for this person.  There is no carrot extended because there is no deity to extend it.

    This is not so with the Christian.  But the real question is this; Is what either of them do, the Atheist and the Christian, wrong, if both do what is right for humanity in their own way?  The Christian who has a God to extend forgiveness still seeks to repair wrongs done to others.  Sometimes those who are wronged by the Christian will not forgive the Christian, however, and sometimes those who are wronged by the Atheist will not forgive the Atheist.  In those times God is there to fill in the void for the Christian, providing restitution has been extended by the Christian wrongdoer and forgiveness not given by the victim.  That is when the Christian’s God forgives them.  

     Humanity is there to fill the void and extend forgiveness to the Atheist when restitution has been attempted and not welcomed.  Not in a way that the Atheist gets a nice letter or confirmation from a pastor or a good feeling in the heart; the society in which the Atheist belongs opens up and both welcomes from and bestows goodness on this repentant wrongdoer, thus giving the gratification to the Atheist as having been able to restitute and having received forgiveness.  To complicate things, I might add that this “humanity” of which I refer includes, of course, the Christian element, among all the other faiths. 

     And to further complicate things, I would propose that humanity, in which the Christian belongs, opens up and both welcomes from and bestows goodness on this repentant wrongdoer, and, deliberately repeating myself, I might add that this “humanity” of which I refer includes, of course, the Atheist element, among all the other non-faiths.

     The need to feel forgiveness and the desire to do all that can be done to receive that forgiveness then is the “glue” that bonds the Christian and the Atheist to each other and to everyone else.  

    Who is right and who is wrong, then?  From the Atheist’s point of view, the argument would have to support the acts of the Christian, since what he or she wants is what is best for humanity; for if there is a large segment of humanity that is doing right most of the time for each other and for every living being, then that is good.  It does not matter if there is a deity or not.  The Christian, when faced with the simple selected matter of the act of goodness toward humanity, would have to bless the actions of the Atheist’s good deeds towards said humanity.  

    So I suppose that wraps up my belief in a deity.  I just simply don’t, and I don’t think it matters.  I do, however, believe in doing good for humanity, which is for me the “glue” that adheres me to the human race, just as God is the “glue” that adheres the Christian to the human race.  It is for this reason that I will continue all my life to strive to do the right things in relation to the human experience.

Yours truly,
Simon