All that follows is from commenter “Redwave”:
Prior to taking a long road to a juncture at which I became a scientist, I was an hospice chaplain who had visited hundreds of people at the precipice of life, at death … at death’s appearing and intruding into every fibre that intertwined what we have thought to be an ontological whole. Death is as overwhelming, as consuming, as saturating, as Life, though often compacted into a moment of breath. The moment of breath visits remind me of Derrida’s Epilogue … one must know the end of it to fully appreciate its beginning. And so we face a conceptual paradox, a transformative continuum from which we can not escape … the precipice is real.
Somehow the atheists have integrated this existential ontological reality, the steepness into the unknown, awaiting us at the moment of breath. Would they otherwise be human? Somehow the atheists know that their life will continue only through writ and talk, and recorded in the memories of those standing a safe distance from the precipice. What matters is to be remembered … that is the ultimate end game … there is nothing beyond the Epilogue. The atheists have nothing else. Their engrams evaporate into nothingness. Being remembered at all costs, whatever this entails, being remembered is the atheists’ teleological imperative.
I remember one ninety six year old man passing out of our lives and he was unashamedly honest with this priest, “I have lived all these years without God, why would I need you and your God now? And anyway if your God exists I am sure he cares little about me. Why would he after so long a time, I have given nothing to him?” My first response, “Who told you God is a man?” at which he nearly chocked from laughter and asked what on earth could I do now as he invited me to sit, have some coffee, he lit a cigarette, and said “lay it on” him. The days leading up to his death, I asked him to share with me, and his ninety four year old wife, stories about his birth and the years of his childhood. They had known one another from her thirteenth year and had been married nearly eighty years, smoking tobacco and drinking coffee to the last day, yet the stories of his first few years of life were as fresh and vital as if they happened yesterday. The moment of breath does not yield to time’s restraints.
Did I convert him on his death bed? Was a moment of belief, however minuscule in time, sufficient to subsume over three billion seconds of living? One must not waste the moment of breath on images of an old white bearded man stuck on a throne hovering above the earth, or a jolly fat balded man in lotus repose, or one sporting an elephant’s head, or dancing in ecstasy, or with a spiraling array of arms, or hanging upon a tree. The precipice is far too tenuous a moment, irreversible and consequentially permanent, for all moments from life’s beginning.
Among those facing death there are atheists, yet at the moment of breath the controversies between the Creator and the myriad human constructs, break down, dissipate and one thing remains encapsulated within the moment of breath … Life.
Is this moment of breath, the precipice, the crisis of which Myers, Dawkins, Coyne, Krauss, et al., can make no sense? They will be remembered by some, then fewer than some, then fewer still, and then lost to the ages … until an unknowable discovery might piece together their remains. What was the name of that Neanderthal found in the Engis caves?