In times of crisis

The true test of atheism is whether you turn to your ex-religious beliefs in a moment of crisis or not.

A few months ago I discovered a lump on my thigh while bathing. Being the person I am, I promptly ignored it and got back to having fun and raising my kids and reading books. Until it turned into too big a problem to be ignored – bigย enough to show through my tracks and tights. So being the ostrich I am, I took to wearing skirts and dresses. Until I realised that winter was coming and I really needed to wear some jeans.

So I went and got it checked up and sure enough it turned out to be a tumor. 99% benign, the doctor assured me, but needs to be removed anyway because it might grow to a stage where it will be beyond hideous. And when removed, leave behind a hole in the leg that might require the insertion of a pipe to drain it.

I checked my schedule, found a day that was fairly suitable and checked myself into hospital. And that’s when my hands began to freeze and I began to shiver. I have a 9 year old and a 7 year old. They’re too young to be motherless and that idiot OA – could he be trusted with finding a good replacement? Sure he knew how to pick a good wife but would she be a good mother to my babies?

Around me the family panicked and began to pray. The tumor was to be excised and sent for biopsy. The moment I enteredย the hospital, I was mentally back at that place where I delivered my two babies via cesarean. I was still a believer in those days and so I had prayed. And as I prayed I felt more and more panicky – hell I was a shivering blathering mess by the time I got on the OT. Each time they did something that caused me pain – gave me an injection, shifted me, I wondered where this God was who I was wasting my breath on. When they removed the Bean they also took out a tumour and once again I asked why God had not protected me but hadย sent me this tumor to deliver along with a child.

The years went by and I questioned religion, faith, God, and people failed to come up with answers. And so it came to pass that I was once more on the operation table and this time, I did not have a god holding my hand. I was alone. Holding my own hand. Believing only in my own ability to stay calm and in the expertise and intelligence of the doctors handling my case. (An aside – when people go in to hospital and a surgery is successful, they thank God. When it goes wrong, they blame the doctors for their incompetence. Why?)

And strangely I felt more calm and in control. I just had to trust the doctors to do their job well and cooperate with them. I joked with the doctors about being ready to kill for a cup of coffee (I’d been fasting for more than 12 hours by the time the surgery began) and the next moment I was out like a light. When I woke up to a pain in my thigh I realised it was all over. Of course being the control freak I am, I was lucid and clear eyed the moment I came to. No talking rubbish, no babbling – in fact I immediately began to monitor my glucose. And pestered them to send me back to my room. When they finally found the staff to do it, the idiots took me to the wrong floor and finally I sat up on the stretcher to guide them and sent them into a tizzy! Dad says he heard someone getting really mad in the corridor and knew I was being wheeled back.

Twenty four hours later I was let out of the hospital and I came home, ready to take care of my body and my family.

We sat around the dining table that night, discussing religion, God, belief systems and quantum theory. Dad had just had a long debate with his own very religious siblings over this matter a few days ago and he summed it up with – ‘Religion is just a bunch of adults squabbling over whose mama’s cake is the best.’

The Brat looked up from his chicken and said, ‘How can you say your mama’s cake is the best when you’ve not tasted anyone else’s mama’s cake?’

Exactly. A child sees what adults refuse to see. How is it that the religion you had the fortune to be born into, is the one correct one? I’d be more likely to believe you if you’d tried and converted to another based on its merits.

And that’s how it is. I’ve tasted one cake, the OA the other… and then we both sampled a slice of atheism and somehow it fits our personalities and temperaments a lot better than anything else ever has.

I’m fine, thank you for asking. Still finding it a little hard to walk, sit, lift and also my throat hurts from the pipe they inserted. But I’m on the mend and yes, I’ll update you once the biopsy results are out. Stay cool!

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80 thoughts on “In times of crisis

  1. Take care MM stay strong as always!
    Evrytime i have slightest pain anywhere in my body, i am super nervous that its something growing somewhere and i’ll die soon! I think i have become more paranoid after having a baby..I cant leave without seeing her through the toddler and teens and well into adult life!!

  2. Gosh! Glad to know you’re fine – but why do you have tube in throat if tumour was in leg?

    I identify with your religion-atheism journey. I’ve followed a similar trajectory. In desperate times, I still murmur prayers, but I recognise them for what they are, the ramblings of the desperate.

    • haha! That’s a good question. They put a tube in my throat after they gave me the GA. Probably to help me breathe or something.
      And yes – I still say things like Thank God or Oh God and realise that it’s just force of habit…

  3. Sending lots of love. Get well soon.

    And yes…atheism, like truth, or because it is the truth, makes you strong.
    Just wondering, how are you handling the whole god thing with kids now?

  4. Sorry to hear that. Hope you’re doing good now.
    Please!!! Atheism doesn’t suit anybody at all. Not a single person on this planet. You simply chose to follow your whims and desires. What exactly is our purpose in life? Think about it. The answer is very clear but you want to be stubborn about it. They say even a dog is faithful to its owner. I feel sorry that you have no one to please, ask forgiveness for and be upset with your creator when things don’t go your way apart from your family and friends who are going to forget you as soon as you breathe your last. There is nothing worse than denying the existence of your creator. You say that you need proof. Just how much more proof do you need?

    • ROFL! I love outraged, rude believers. They’re the best argument against religion.
      I’d like to ignore you, but I think you need answers.
      1. What do you mean atheism doesn’t suit anybody? Who are you to decide that? Do religious people not follow their whims and desires? Or have you never seen a believer go to jail? Google Catholic priest pedophile – that should help.
      2. What exactly is our purpose in life? Every person has his or her own purpose. It’s a little arrogant to want to speak for the other billion or so and decide that they all have the same purpose.
      3. I like how you compare believers to dogs and god to an owner. Speaks volumes.
      4. Why this servile attitude of wanting to please or thank someone else when you have friends, family, colleagues, the doctors who spend a lifetime curing you, farmers who put food on your table, engineers who gave you the internet and phone/laptop you’re tapping away on right now, to thank? And no, I’m not upset with my ‘creator’ – my parents created me and fortunately I get along with them fine. *You* believe in a creator and hence feel anger or love. I don’t believe in one, hence feel nothing towards this mythical being.
      5. Please don’t feel sorry for me. Save your sorrow for your own need for dependence on someone above you. I’m perfectly happy and comfortable being responsible for my own choices.
      6. What more proof do I need? Heck – what proof have you offered?

      • Haha, I identify as a believer, but whoa, even I am super amused by this woman’s response.
        I have spent the last many years, questioning my faith and I am thankful for people that 1) did not dismiss the questioning as anti- religion (as I see a lot of ‘believers’ around me, wont to do) and 2) have been able to have conversations with me around this and address a lot of my questions. That said, it’s a constant everyday process. This is a quote they attribute to Galileo and I identify with it – ‘I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use’.
        Anyway, I am waiting to hear what this lady here has to offer in response. I am curious too.

      • I wasn’t comparing you to a dog. It was just a metaphor. If you took it the wrong way then I apologise. Every human being has the same purpose.
        The truth is that every object of this universe bears witness to the fact that the owner of this universe is the one and only one. Is it not then fair and just that one must lead his life as per the commands of Almighty god, the provider of every necessity to one’s life?
        Without faith this life is not worth lliving. You think it is, but it is definitely not. I have no words for a woman who refers to the creator as a mythical creature. Very sad.
        It utterly amazes me that you can spend thousands of hours of work for your living but not a single moment to figure out your existence. You are not here by your will but when you have no intention to believe in your creator then nobody can reason with you.

        • Oh I’m not in the least bit offended. I didn’t say you were comparing me. The metaphor was less than complimentary to believers when you talk of dogs and masters.
          “The truth is that…” – Who decided that this is the truth?
          “The Almighty god, the provider of every necessity to oneโ€™s life” – If that were true, how do you explain the starving in Somalia? How does this person decide that some kids on the streets deserve to die of hunger and cold?
          It’s a pity *your* life has nothing else worth living in without religion. But please don’t presume to make that decision on my behalf. I have family, friends, health, life, work, nature – plenty of things that make life worth living.
          Interestingly I have no words for a woman who believes in some mythical creature watching over her. The arrogance inherent in that presumption is astounding. What makes you believe that your life is more worthy than a starving kid on the streets. And where is this God when those kids are starving and being raped?
          It is precisely because I have spent hours figuring out my existence that I realise the ridiculousness of it. Also the arrogance of calling it Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Hindu mythology, but believing that the God you believe in is not mythical! Can you imagine how they feel about it?
          I am not here by my will… and neither are you. We’re just the result of evolution. If you want to impute some grand divine meaning to it, I will not disabuse you of that notion. Equally, you can spare yourself the trouble of trying to convert me back to the myths that I have finally broken free of.

          • Whateeesthees! It is sad that you guys are squabbling over the purpose of life when in fact it has been decoded by the Magratheans long ago!

            42.

            That is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. This Answer was first calculated by the supercomputer Deep Thought after seven and a half million years of thought! Jeez you guys! *shakes head sadly*

            • I wish I could “like” or rather “superlike” this. ๐Ÿ˜€ . On an aside, wish you a speedy recovery MM. I can totally identify with the atheism. Have gone through a very similar route. Very recently I applied for my my baby’s birth certificate, and the form had a field for “Religion”. I wanted to put “None” as the answer. ๐Ÿ˜€

        • “lead his life as per the commands of Almighty god, the provider of every necessity to oneโ€™s life?”
          seriously people believe this stuff? are you for real?
          Look around you, look at the disparity, the hatred, the selfishness and you think a supreme being created this and should be prayed to?

        • Religion is like underwear
          – you can have one
          – you don’t need one
          – if you have one, you wear it inside – don’t show it to others (unless you are superman)
          – you don’t check whether others are wearing one
          – you don’t insist that others wear one – that’s none of your business

  5. You know that Carlin monologue on religion. Your post brought it back to mind.

    Im undecided, I tend to cling to prayers (even “religion” is a stretch) when Im in a crisis, and its probably the worst most convenient kind of religiousness there is, because its so superficial. But given the direction in which global events are moving, I am more and mroe inclined to believe religion is at the root of most of it, and I wonder how much better off we’d be without this obsession to surrender everything we have trouble understanding to a man in the sky.

  6. Hope you are feeling better now.
    I remember reading somewhere that God is an excuse to have some one to blame… Maybe that is the right answer. I really do not know my way around this ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I read the first few lines then immediately scrolled to the bottom to read that it all turned out fine. I don’t know you or your family but my heart sunk so rapidly. Sending good wishes your way. And waiting for the news that ‘Aal iz well’.
    I have also slowly become an atheist. I do find myself mumbling ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ when I’m scared of saying things like “I am thankful to God” but they are mostly childhood habits which are so deeply ingrained that it will take time to go away. Like I almost typed ‘sending prayers your way’ even though I don’t believe that there is a ‘someone’ listening to those prayers.
    Anyway hugs and hope you get well really soon.

  8. Woman! (I don’t know what to say.) Your dad and the Brat said it best. I can so relate to the control-freakishness you demonstrated. And the ostrich-ness too. I’d do the same. Sending lost of good vibes and hugs. Get well soon.

  9. I am glad you are well now… Like another commenter said I have known you only through your blog but I know you right!? The post scared me – invoked my deepest fears about something happening to me or A and then who will take care of our baby? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    Best wishes to you! My husband has converted to atheism – I am holding on. With the current state of our world it sure is difficult to hold on.

  10. Oh MM, hope you’re feeling much better and the tests come back clear. Although I’d have to disagree on the true test bit..it’s when the older ‘uns in the family are breathing down your neck about your lack of faith..that would be the litmus test :D.

    Have you listened to Richard Dawkins’ talks? There’s a bunch of videos of him and Lawrence Krauss discussing atheism, science, etc..check them out. You’ll be nodding along to most of what they say!

  11. Dear MM,

    This year has been going to shits in terms of health for everyone I care about…I don’t think I realized how important good health was until I saw the lack of it everywhere I looked.

    So sorry to hear about this, but I also sincerely hope that with the excision of this tumor, so has the possibility of recurrence been removed…for good.

    Wish you the best of health.

  12. I am in the process of trying to figure out my faith, what I really believe in, what anchor I have to hold on to when things aren’t going my way. I would love to see a post from you about how you dealt with it, and how you figured out what worked for you. That is, if your health permits and time allows, of course! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I’m still reading the whole thing but had to comment first. Hugs and Kisses, lots and lots of them, MM. You know my sentiments are exactly the same “sure does know how to pick a good wifey but what about the mother to my kid part eh?” LOL, I find it so funny you expressed that thought because that is the thought that runs thru my head every time I check into yet another surgery(and also I mentally make a shortlist of stuff to tell him to do if I don’t wake up. e.g. finish all the food in the freezer first, before buying more, ensure V always, always takes a bath and changes his underwear….yup…..super important stuff like that)

    Hope you are very well now and back to kicking ass.

    Ok, going back to read thru whole thing now:-)

  14. ooh yes, the tube inserted into throat hurts like crazy for a few days atleast. It does help though that my anesthesiologist looks like a younger version of Hugh Laurie. And he’s the hunk I see just before I go into la la land:-)

  15. Hi MM,

    Praying that your tests come back clear and I’m sure that with all the prayers and well-wishers coming your way from family, friends and the Internet, all will be well. ๐Ÿ™‚

    With God, I’m still figuring out where I stand. I know for sure that I don’t believe in organised religion. Until I see the circular from God telling us that we need to go for Mass every Sunday or a rosary must involve exactly 10 Hail Marys. Until I do, I’ll pray to that Great Being in the Sky using my own words and my own prayers, jumbled though they maybe.

  16. Wishing you a very speedy recovery MM! Hope the tests come back negative. How are the kids taking it? I am sure the gentle Brat & Beanie are always mothering you ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Oh dear…. i am so upset now.. i don’t know how you look even but think of you as a dear friend..
    will pray for you MM.. the results will be ok… lots of love
    Sujatha

  18. That gave me an awful scare! Glad the surgery went well. And hoping the biospy results are negative. You are a strong woman and I love the support system you have. Many positive wishes from a long time follower. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love and hugs!

  19. there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. our own limits are the boundaries of our understanding.

    • Agreed. I’m sure there are. Makes me wonder how we managed to get down lists of things and codes of living. Who sent them to us in the name of God? Why have miracles stopped happening now that we can take pictures or report?

      • miracles require faith. faith cannot exist where there is cynicism and skepticism. finally, the fact that humans exist inspite of themselves is a miracle in itself.

        • So most of your argument is just sophistry, isn’t it? I might be cynical, but I am cynical because nothing much came of faith. I see the faithful dying in heaps – an unfair reward for faith, one must admit. Do you believe? And do you see miracles? Good for you if you do. I for one, would not go attributing the goodness of a fellow human to a mythical creature in the sky – I’d like to give credit where its due.

          • i am flattered if you think it’s sophistry. no one can live forever, regardless of faith, that is finite. miracles are and should not, be the yardstick for faith to exist. the goodness of someone is inherent, but to interconnect it to the miracles you seek, is only possible through faith. i do not know of any mythical creature in the sky:) all the best.

            • So what exactly are miracles?
              WHY should faith exist? Any reason to blindly keep believing something?
              It made sense when we were tribals, unable to explain why it rained or snowed. Today I wonder what keeps an almighty so busy that he can’t stop a child from being raped.

  20. Dear MM

    Hope you are recovering well. When are the biopsy results expected? I can imagine the fear and angst the family and you must have gone thru. Wish you a speedy recovery and plenty of strength, calm and peace.

    IMHO, I would rephrase your 1st line to read โ€œThe true test of atheism is whether you turn to your ex-SPIRITUAL beliefs in a moment of crisis or not.โ€

    There is such a vast difference and yet a thin line between Religion and Spiritualism? In my mind spiritualism is trusting that there is a supreme power/ God who will guide you and look out for you. Religion is giving that supreme power a name ( whether it be Allah, Christ or Krishna) and a lot of other things that donโ€™t really matter for the discussion. Atheism is not believing that there exists a supreme power/ God.

    And honest to God , when things go well, or when things go super wrong, I NEVER forget my Doctor. The top criteria in picking a line of medicine or a Doctor to me is to believe in them and have faith in them. If I think homeopathic is farce, it is not going to cure my illness, never mind that at the age of 50, it prevented my mom from having a surgery to remove her uterus.

  21. I’m so glad the surgery went well and I’m also glad to hear you speak out about your atheism. We need more outspoken atheist mothers.

  22. Hey MM,
    I faced the same situation as yours about 2 years ago and i relate to atheism which many of my friends and family take me wrong for…i believe in not overdoing anything and lead a life where we can help and serve people.I do reciprocate your thoughts on the mythological figures.Wish you a speedy recovery ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Hope the biopsy results come clean. Good luck. What are thoughts on spirituality? Meditation? You are a writer. Have u not felt sometimes you start writing and words just flow other times its you writing. A lot of artists talk about an inner power taking over at times. Have you ever felt that?

  24. Heal and be back, honey.
    This external God thingy dropped off for me at some point. But spirituality did not end. It actually grew more in recent years.

  25. I hope you are getting better. I super like this aethism bit, my story is no different, as a kid I was raised by my grandmom to chant god in desperate times, by habit I still can’t get rid of it. I have started reasoning the existence of God since the last 4 years and stopped following or praying, but one question remains in my head on what kind of belief I should instill in my kids given the fact that the belief in god as a kid helped me do the right things. As mom I sometimes wonder.

  26. How a painting cannot exist without a painter, the creation cannot exist without its creator. As simple as that. In an alternate universe just imagine a convo between two snowmen. One says to the other: Don’t be silly. No one created us. We are here because of evolution. The condition of an atheist is eerily similar to that! Worship doesn’t mean spending some time in a special place, performing certain fixed actions. Assembling periodically in a particular place, wearing a particular dress, and performing certain specific deeds or living a life of seclusion, meditating under a tree or on top if a mountain, becoming nuns, sacrificing things for gods/goddesses, not eating meat, to be various forms of worship. This is surely not worship but man made ideas of worship. Mankind has not been created to lead such misguided lives.

  27. God created this world as a place of means. All the necessities and requirements of Humans are fulfilled by these means. Man is given a choice to think and live among these means and benefit and focus on the God or on these means. He may thank god or be grateful to the creations instead. Due to this freedom of will mankind can either reject God, or can worship the creations, or can worship both.
    Thus it is imperative for man to first recognise his creator properly and believe in him and worship him with correct recognition. The idea of recognition is inherent in worship.
    If the recognition is incorrect the worship and obedience will be rendered invalid and false.

  28. Why has worship been made the purpose of life?
    The question arises that if man is busy with only worship, how will he perform other duties.? If he worships for a while and then takes care of his other activities according to his own will and desire will he be able to achieve the purpose of life? Unless you have the right sense of worship you will not be able to realize whether you are living your life in worship or not. If worship is not performed without this true sense your practice and actions will be incorrect and you will waste your expensive life in futile deeds.
    Man has nor been asked to dedicate 24 hours of the day to God. Instead we have been instructed to fulfill all our needs and requirements in the obedience of God. We should be obedient to God among the people in this world and earn a livelihood using right means live a successful marital life if we have been blessed to have one, benefit people by guiding them, bear difficulties and pain and speak the truth. 24 hours of each day should be spent in Gods obedience unside/outside the home, workplace, market, society, friends, relatives, leadership , pain, hardship, happiness, sorrow, sickness, birth, death, without seeing God and in total, love and submission to him. God created the world in such a way thatan is involved in different activities every moment fulfilling his requirements and responsibilities. Else mankind would be destroyed. If no education is imparted children will be illiterate. If the rights of family/friends is not granted humanity will become selfish. Man has to impose the laws of God on this land by commanding good and forbidding evil. He has been given 24hrs of continuous responsibilities. Hence he has to perform certain activities continuously and each of them done through obedience of God will help him achieve the purpose of his life

  29. Last but certainly not the least.
    How to recognise that who is creator

    — One who has birth and death can not be creator.
    — One who eats, sleeps, gets tired cannot be a creator.
    — One who has body parts like living beings cannot be a creator.
    — One who has a wife, offspring and is dependent on needs and help cannot be a creator.

    PRAY ONLY TO THE CREATOR NOT TO THE CREATIONS.

  30. Why not try giving a shout out to God to reveal the truth to you, in the privacy of your thoughts? If you do not get a reply no harm done. The alternative, would mean salvation..

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