Of Bugs, Cards, and Gods by Square Circle
It would be the most important unimportant day in the life of the little bug, and likely the most memorable as well, were the little guy to remember it after this day, which he wouldn't. Glenn spied the tiny water beetle as he sat down at the table, shuffling the deck of playing cards. As the bug crawled across the table, Glenn paid it no mind; he didn't really care about the thing. But it was a grand day for the bug, it was full of life and happiness as it hurried to grab a delicious crumb, not a care in the world. Mary killed it.
Although Glenn would not have killed the bug himself, he really didn't care that his younger sister, Mary, did. He had little concern for the deaths of other creatures. It's not like the bug was in agony or pain. It was dead. Glenn figured that if the bug didn't care that it was dead, well then neither would he. After all, it's not like there were some God in Heaven who cared about such trivial things, and everyone at the table would agree with that.
"I think God will send that beetle to Heaven, because he cares about such important things; don't you, Glenn?" No one agreed with Glenn about such things as God and Heaven. Of the four of them, Glenn was the only atheist at the table and he believed in Heaven just as much as he believed in God. Another thing Glenn found hard to believe was that Mary killed the bug and thought God would send it to Heaven.
"You know I can't agree with that," Glenn responded, "there's no evidence to support it."
His father Joe perked up: "So are you saying that God doesn't exist?"
"Not at all," Glenn explained, "I'm a 'negative' atheist. I simply don't believe He does exist."
His mother Sarah chimed in, "Wouldn't that make you an agnostic?"
"I'm not an agnostic," Glenn replied with a heavy sigh, "I'm actually a gnostic atheist. I believe that we can know whether or not God exists."
"Wait," his father interjected, "I thought you said you didn't believe God doesn't exist? Now you're saying this?"
Glenn knew a long explanation was coming up. "I didn't say God doesn't exist. I said that some day we might know whether or not He does. I'm a gnostic, but the knowledge isn't current, so I'm a negative atheist. A positive atheist would say there is no God."
"Oh," his mother reflected, "I see. You're saying there isn't evidence to believe in God, but some day there will be enough to prove He isn't real?"
Glenn placed his hand on his forehead. "No," he explained, "some day there will be enough evidence to prove He is real."
"But you're an atheist!" Joe shouted. Mary scooped up the dead bug to throw it away (being careful not to touch it with her bare hands) while Sarah commanded Joe to stop shouting. "I'm not shouting!" he shouted louder. Sarah placed her hand on his shoulder with a stern look that forced him into resignation. "Okay son," he murmured, "if you think we can some day prove God exists, why don't you believe in Him?"
"There is no evidence to support His existence."
Joe was exasperated. "Then why," he continued, "do you believe that there will be?"
"I'm an optimist," Glenn replied simply and sharply, handing out the cards one by one, clockwise around the table. Outside, a dog barked. Mary returned to find seven cards at her spot on the table. The game was Seven Card Draw.
"So let me get this straight," said Glenn's mother, in an attempt to clarify the matter, "you don't believe God exists because there is no evidence, but you do believe that there will eventually be evidence proving that the God you don't believe in does exist?"
"This is all very confusing," Mary interrupted, except that she didn't interrupt because the conversation had just ended. "Couldn't we get back to the matter of whether or not the little bug will go to Heaven?" Everyone was looking at their playing hands and a mother scolded her child somewhere on the other side of the country.
"Why the Hell would you have killed it if you cared so much about it's afterlife?" Glenn asked of his younger sister.
"Oh, stop that," his mother commanded. She was a very demanding person, and her voice was hot and saucy when she got that way, except Glenn didn't think so because it was his mother, but Joe did. Mary didn't really care. She was a sixteen year-old girl with her head full of ideas about spirituality, religion, and God, her inquiring mind begging her to explore such questions. But as a good Christian she tried her best to not be curious about such things.
"I'm just curious about such things," she explained to Glenn.
"But why in the world would you ask me?" Glenn wanted to know.
"Because you're always full of ideas," Mary elaborated, "and besides, didn't you say God might exist?"
Glenn threw her a look of deliberate surprise. "I said no such thing!" he said in willful astonishment.
"Let's--" Joe injected as Mary was about to say something, "--not get into it, okay?" Joe won the first hand, with a two-pair of Dueces and Jacks, as the conversation rolled along like the wheels on the bus.
Because the dealer switched to the person on Glenn's left, he passed over the deck to his father. "I don't understand why you bother to care, Mary," he stated. "Assuming Heaven exists, you won't know if the bug made it there until you get there yourself."
Mary repeated, "I'm just curious about such things," as Joe passed out the new hand of cards.
"But that's absurd," pointed out Glenn, "Even assuming God's existence, there's no way of knowing who or what God will allow into Heaven. Assuming that, too, exists."
Sarah pointed out something as well. "We have the Bible."
"How do we know the Bible is true?" Mary thought out loud.
"Mary!" Joe shouted.
"Stop shouting," said Sarah.
"Look," Glenn began, "you can ask those questions about spirituality without ever getting any real answers." Glenn looked at his new hand of seven cards. "Maybe you're asking the wrong questions, Mary. It's like this game of cards--"
Sarah interrupted, "Are you comparing life to a game of cards?"
Glenn reflected. "Well, yes."
"How trivial. Absurd."
"You could say that," responded Glenn. They had all drawn their new cards.
"Go on," urged Mary, much to the chagrin of her father Joe.
"This game is meaningless," explained Glenn. "It doesn't matter who wins or loses, by how much, or how many times. The cards don't mean anything, and there's really no point to playing, because we'll walk away empty-handed, having gained nothing. Eventually we'll forget the details of this game and even this particular game itself." He paused. "But it's enjoyable, so we play anyway. And that's okay."
Mary gave her brother a look of puzzling confusion before finally nodding in understanding, as their parents decidedly ignored anything Glenn had to say. Sarah won the round with a pair of Tens, and across the street a four-year-old was playing with her kitten.
They all forgot about the bug.
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