I am jealous of believers. Better yet let me say that I am jealous of anyone that can suspend disbelief and live a life with the understanding that once they die they will exist in a tranquil world full of mansions and streets of gold. I guess it’s no different than the jealousy I would have of a coworker if on a dreary Monday someone were to come into the office and tell us both that on Tuesday we were going to win the lottery, and my coworker became ecstatic for the rest of the day. I would be jealous because although my coworker was cocooned in a blanket of reassurance that Monday was not simply the beginning of a painful week and that Tuesday was going to be absolutely beautiful, I would not have the same emotions as my coworker because I would be full of doubt. I would ask questions like “how does that person know that tomorrow we are going to hit the lottery?” Or I would ask questions like “is this somewhere in writing?” My problem is that I cannot simply believe something because it was told to me without any concrete evidence to back it up.
Like many other communities, within the black community many people simply believe because at some point in their life it was taught to them. Often even the criminals in the community are more versed on Bible scriptures and religious doctrine than your average man. It may be little comfort for you to realize that as someone is stealing your TV, they may be reminiscing about the good church service they went to the past Sunday. After all, what is a little stealing if you could just simply pray to Jesus and everything will become okay? That’s why belief is so powerful because in all walks of life within the community, especially the black community, the Bible is strong enough evidence for most eternity seeking people to believe without question.
Therefore, I am jealous of the ability that many people have to shut off that doubting part of their mind. The certainly in which people say that they will one day spend eternity in heaven is a beautiful thing. Although, I do believe it is natural for everyone to harbor a certain amount of doubt. Proof of this is visible when terrible things happen at the church such as the one Putnam County Tennessee church shooting that took place a few years ago. Rather than smiling and holding up their arms to welcome death, most of the church congregation simply tried to escape to preserve life. If we are so confident within the religious community that the doctrine that we were taught was real, then why didn't these people embrace their potential death with calm resignation? If I were told that after I take a blood test I will be given access to a ten million dollar mansion with a billion-dollar bank account, I would take that blood test with a big smile on my face. Therefore one has to question that if you were given the opportunity to go to heaven after facing some brief pain, such as a bullet to the head, where does the fear that propels even Christians to run come from?
The more I consider it, the more I realize that maybe I do not have a reason to be jealous after all. Maybe we all lay eggs of doubt, however as an agnostic I am within the category of beliefs that allows doubt to exist openly and comfortably within my mind. Maybe it is doubt that gets people to pray five times a day like in Islam. Maybe it is doubt that convinces Christians to go to church every Sunday so that they can continue to reinforce their belief system. Maybe without doubt your average Christian can stay home every Sunday without ever going to church because they possess their own internal reassurance that they will never doubt their beliefs.
As much as I would love to stay blissfully ignorant of any contravening questions regarding religion, I’m agnostic simply because I cannot remove the seeds of doubt from my mind. Although, if I were to tell the truth about it, who would not love for the Christian theology to be true? Who would not love to rest comfortably with the understanding that after they die they’ll be basking in a much more beautiful place for all of eternity? Therefore my doubt is not a willful need to ignore the potential for greater things to come, but acknowledgment that like that lottery ticket, it is not based on something that I can easily embrace without my own disbelief.
By: Waleed Shareef 2/3/2014