I expect that most of the readers of Ezra’s Essays will recall that on religious matters I am a complete and total non-believer.  It all started on the morning of August 4, 1928 when I reached the age of six.  On that occasion, my mother announced that I had reached “the age of accountability.”  The age of accountability has, I believe, some religious meaning but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.

In any event, she took me by the hand and led me to a grove of trees near our back yard and instructed me to get on my knees and pray.  She said that before long, Jesus would notice me and would come down and save me.  There were rocks where I was kneeling and I could hear the voice of Charlie Baldrige playing baseball.  I greatly preferred baseball to being saved, even if it was by Jesus himself.  I soon figured out that I would be kneeling on the rocks until I announced that Jesus had saved me.  Even at age six, my mind was working full tilt.

When I announced that I had been saved by Jesus, my mother took me in the house and removed the sun suit that I was wearing and preserved it for many years.  In short order, my mother discovered that my conversion was short-lived and that I was a non-believer, somewhere around the age of eight or nine.  I have never discovered what the age of accountability means but in those early years I practiced no religion of any sort.

I know that you have heard this story before but I need to tell it to set up the rest of the essay.  It seems to me that those who practice religion often ascribe magical powers to God or Jesus or the Holy Ghost or some other deity up there in the sky.  I am being a bit vague about this because it appears that religionists don’t agree on who exercises the ultimate power.  But in any case, my recent visit to the cardiologist has set me to wondering.  The cardiologist is a convert to the Catholic faith but I am not so sure that he is dogmatic about religion.  As a matter of fact, I do not believe that this is the case.  But let us assume that all the affairs of man are in the hands of God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, or some such other deity.

After a very pleasant visit with the cardiologist, I began to wonder about the afterlife or things in the great beyond.  If we are to assume that God or Jesus or the Holy Ghost or whatever is in charge of every decision, particularly with respect to life and death, a question arises.  There are two parts to this decision.  Let us state that Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old in Sanford, Florida who seemed to be minding his own business when he was shot and killed by a vigilante for no apparent reason.  At this point I must ask if the killing of Trayvon was in accordance with God’s will.  It seems to me that George Zimmerman made the decision to kill Trayvon Martin.  Apparently he did not consult with any of the deities.  So we see in this tragic death that men can pre-empt the deities whoever they may be.  George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, which is apparently the end of the story.  There was no conversation with Jesus or anyone else.  Trayvon is gone now and we can only hope that in time George Zimmerman will meet the justice that he needs.

So ends the death side of the equation here.  Let us now look at the birth side.  Perhaps I am out of touch on this matter, but if I recall properly it was the intention of boys who seduce young ladies to make love to them  and to neck with them.  I suspect that the word “neck” is unknown to young readers, of whom I have almost none.

But in any case, the necking occurs often in the back seat of automobiles.  One thing leads to another and before long it is quite possible that some sort of intercourse may occur.  This has no heavenly adornment.  It only means that two teenagers had what used to be called “the hots” and proceeded to do what is normal under the circumstances.  If the two teenagers have failed to take precautions, there is a possibility that a pregnancy will follow.  In that case, unless the child is aborted, there will be a live delivery and the population of the world will go up one.  The point I am making is that God, Jesus, or the Holy Ghost had no say in this matter.  It is simply a matter of two teenagers having “the hots” and making a connection.

Now this leads to one other point in this essay.  If the deities have no say in births or deaths, as we have seen in the two examples, what about extending life?  When I visited the cardiologist the other day, he inspected the records of my pacemaker.  Simply put, the pacemaker enables me to continue living because it encourages the heart to pump harder when it really wants to slow down.  Now I arrive at the ultimate question of this essay on divine providence.  Is the pacemaker, for example, used to thwart God’s will?  In all likelihood, without the pacemaker at some point or other I will keel over and die.  I suspect that those who are attending my funeral would say that this is all in accordance with God’s will.

Certainly they cannot say that Trayvon Martin’s death was the decision of the deities.  It was a decision totally and solely of George Zimmerman.  And with respect to bringing a new life into this world, the deity was also uninvolved.  The two teenagers in the back seat of the automobile having unprotected sex are responsible for this new birth.

So you see that visits to the cardiologists ought to be limited.  More than anything else, it seems to me that in matters of life and death the future rests in the hands of man.  It was not foreordained that Trayvon Martin should die two or three weeks ago.  And for the teenagers, it was not foreseen by the deities that a new life had occurred.  The new life was brought about totally and solely by the actions of the teenagers.

Finally I must ask the question whether the cardiologists and other health providers are working in accordance with God’s will.  It is a great relief to me not to have to answer that question because to a non-believer the answers are quite evident.

And so I will end this essay with the thought that since my encounter with the deities on my sixth birthday, I have been a non-believer faithfully all my life.  In that long life I have never never attempted to convert anyone else to my beliefs.  I think it would be fair to say at this juncture that other people with strong religious convictions have ceased to attempt to convert me.  And so we have a draw in this situation.

On a good many occasions, I have contributed to the musical program at the Presbyterian Church where Judy and I attend concerts.  I have never pointed out to the recipients of those contributions that the contribution was obtained from a non-believer.  The church accepts the money, which makes me pleased.  And I am pleased by the music they provide.  Now I ask you what could be fairer than that.



March 27, 2012



Picking a first essay for the site took far longer than it should have.  I ultimately selected this one for a few reasons: first, because it features in-your-face atheism from literally line one, which I think Pop would like; second, because it gives readers a good idea of his style of humor.

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