The Angry Atheist
Simon Nielson was an intelligent man. He was so intelligent he didn't believe in God. He was an atheist, and not the kind of open-minded, accept people no matter what they believe, kind of atheist. Simon could be a bit of a dick about atheism and this really annoyed his friends. Like that Christmas when he had bought all of his friends, including the devoted Christian Duncan Croft, copies of Richard Dawkins' The Gold Delusion. The book became very easy to find in local charity shops that January. Simon's friends didn't mind him being an atheist, most of them didn't give a toss about religion at all, but what they didn't like was the way he seemed to think that being an atheist made him superior to the rest of them. Worst of all was the way he was constantly digging at his friend over his faith. Things were about to change though. Simon Nielson was about to learn a lesson he wouldn't soon forget.
It started with a blinding light, as these things often do. Simon couldn't sleep once the light had appeared, he felt groggy and he couldn't really remember what had happened the night before. He opened his eyes and discovered he had no idea where he was. It appeared to be an office of some kind; in the centre of the room was a large desk and to the side was what looked like a lift door. He slowly stood up and noticed he was dressed all in white. They didn't look like any clothes he owned and where were his shoes and socks? He hated being barefoot. He then noticed he wasn't alone in this mysterious room; at the desk sat a man with an impressive looking beard wearing spectacles and what looked like robes. The man seemed to be ignoring him and was busy scribbling away in a thick notebook. Simon cleared his throat trying to get the man's attention. The man looked over his spectacles at Simon.
"Good morning Mr. Nielson," he said in a voice that just oozed authority.
"Do I know you?" asked Simon.
"Not yet. But I know you very well, why don't you take a seat," said the mysterious man gesturing to a seat in front of his desk.
Simon felt that doing as he was told would get him answers sooner.
Simon sat down and waited for an explanation. The man was still scribbling in his notebook and Simon could just make out a list of names beside arrows pointing up or down. The man kept writing for another few minutes before putting down his pen and looking at Simon again.
"Well Mr. Nielson, I'm sorry we have to meet under these circumstances."
"What circumstances?" asked Simon feeling slightly nervous.
"Well you may not have realised this yet but I'm afraid to tell you you're dead."
"Wait a minute. What?"
"You're dead. You're brown bread. Pushing up daisies. You've shuffled off the mortal coil. I'm sorry I'm not really up on the current vernacular."
"Right," replied Simon, starting to fear for his safety; this man was clearly delusional and was possibly holding him hostage, "I'm dead... So how is it we're here having this conversation?"
"I'd have thought that was obvious I'm Saint Peter," the man replied matter of factly.
"The fuck you are," replied Simon "
"Typical bloody atheist," replied Saint Peter as he went back to writing in his notebook.
Simon knew he had to get out of here as soon as he could. He'd become painfully aware of the lack of exits to this room; there were no windows or doors, just the lift. He examined the list and noticed that rather than having up and down arrows the buttons featured a halo and a pitchfork. Shit was really started to get weird. He hit both buttons but nothing happened.
"You're getting ahead of yourself Mr. Nielson; we haven't decided where you're going yet," called Saint Peter and gestured back to the seat in front of his desk. Simon sat back down.
"So who put you up to this? Was it Duncan? I bet it was Duncan."
"Ah yes Mr. Croft your "friend" who you've dedicated your life to proving wrong."
"I haven't dedicated my life to it I just wanted him to open his eyes to the truth," replied Simon slightly hurt.
"Which truth would that be?"
"That there is no God obviously. I know God does not exist and I know I'm not dead"
"In the same way you know that aeroplanes jettison their toilet waste during flight? Because they don't."
"But he wasted wasting his life worshipping some made up guy that was able to tell him to live his life. He needed to think for himself for a change."
"Ah so he was brainwashed by his faith was he? He held extreme views that put other people's lives at risk?"
"Well no but..."
"Oh so he was one of these narrow minded zealots that forced their beliefs down everyone's throats?"
"So his religious beliefs had some grave affect on your life?"
"Well we couldn't play golf on a Sunday morning but apart from that no."
"So you constantly put down your friends strongly held religious beliefs constantly because it stopped you playing golf on a Sunday?"
"Well when you put it like that it sounds quite bad."
"What is it you don't about religious people?" asked Saint Peter.
"Well it's the fact they spend so much time trying to force their beliefs on to the none believers, the way they "know" they're right and everyone else is an idiot, I hate the way they look down on you," replied Simon.
"So to combat that you spend your time forcing your beliefs on others, convinced you know you're right and looking down on those that disagree?" asked Saint Peter with a sly smile "can you spell irony?"
Simon had been an atheist since his time in university where he hung with a very hoity toity crowd of know-it-alls. He enjoyed feeling superior. He enjoyed being right. But for the first time in his life he was starting to doubt what he believed. What if there was a God? Crap. If there was a God and he was dead he was totally screwed.
"So Mr. Nielson where do you think you should be going? Up or down?"
"Please let me go."
"You're not a prisoner Mr. Nielson. We just need to decide where you deserve to spend the rest of eternity."
"There is no God," Simon said with more conviction than he felt.
"You keep telling yourself that when Satan's shoving his pitchfork up your arse for the rest of time," replied Saint Peter with a devilish grin.
Simon's faith in his atheism was beginning to crumble.
"There is no God."
Who was he trying to convince now? Saint Peter or himself?
"Are you sure?"
"No," he replied in defeat.
"That's good. The afterlife is no place for stubbornness. Now I've been reviewing your case and I'm afraid to say that you're on a highway to hell my friend."
The air left Simon's lungs. He began to panic. He couldn't spend eternity with a pitchfork jabbing his arse.
"Please no. There must be something I can do. Please I'm a good guy really. I deserve to go to heaven. Ask anyone. Ask my neighbour I mowed her lawn last week!"
"Well there may be a way..."
"Anything. I'll do anything please. Just give me the chance."
"Ok Mr. Nielson. Do you accept that there is one true God? Do you accept that he and he alone created you and gave you the gift of life? Do you give yourself truly to our lord Jesus Christ?"
"Yes I do. Praise Jesus hallelujah I am born again into the Christian faith," replied Simon trying to sound as convincing as he could.
Saint Peter took off he glasses and looked at Simon intently.
"Well Mr. Nielson I have only one more thing to say to you..."
The four walls of the room fell away and Simon was suddenly surrounded by several of his friends roaring with laughter. From that day on Simon was less of a dick.