Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Flat-Earth Creationist's Story

ESSENTIAL DISCLAIMER: I myself am not a flat-earther or creationist. This story is hypothetical and seeks to demonstrate a point.


I love my town. I love the people, the warmth, the sense of community. We all attend church, like clockwork, on a Sunday morning, basking in the equally invigorating and pleasing warmth of our lord, God. The inimitable father who created our universe and our planet 6000 years ago. We tell the stories to our children, in our schools, imparting the wisdom of the bible, that they may use it to enrich and better their lives. But it always comes back to the church.

This is where I met my true love, Sally, and where we had our 3 beautiful children together. Every Sunday, we go to our favorite building in the town. We pray, we listen, we sing, and we talk about the stories that inspire and inform our daily lives. The stories have brought us so much joy, our experiences so great, that last week, I decided to record myself telling these stories, sharing my feelings about our lord, on the popular video site, YouTube. This is where the joy ends...

After the first video, I got a lot of comments from atheists. They called me stupid, ridiculed my stories, they said things like "who could believe this in the 21st century". I received death threats via my inbox. It was clear to me that they didn't want me there. They didn't want me talking about the things which brought such joy to me and my family. I began to wonder whether or not they were even capable of joy? Nevertheless, I persisted. It didn't take me long to figure out the nature of YouTube: a land with the law of the jungle where the strong survive, and the weak flee. I decided to be the strong. I decided to keep going.


It's been almost a year. I've made some friends on YouTube. Some of these friends, believe it or not, are atheists. They're no different to me or my wife: they work hard, they love their children, and they appear to get just as much joy from science and art as we do from the scriptures. This was not my initial impression, but one which I learned in my persistence.

A new family came to our town last week. They live right next door, so me and my family have been helping them with their furniture and telling them about the local amenities and so forth. On their first day, after a lot of the hard work had been done, we invited them for dinner, and I got to speaking with the father, Gerald, afterwards on our porch, in our garden. Over a beer, we discussed the church, and that's when he told me. "This isn't really for us. We don't believe in God." Only I was around. I had my few atheist friends online, but this is my first time ever meeting one in person. It was this point that I had a haunting epiphany:

My first few months on YouTube were traumatic at best. A majority seemed only there to belittle beliefs other than their own. I remembered the few discussions that we had about atheists among our town's community, and not a single one was positive. Gerald, and possibly the rest of his family, were about to endure what I endured on YouTube here in this town, and I didn't know what to do. I didn't even know what to say to him.


A month has gone by, and I'm pleased to call Gerald one of my best friends. Unfortunately, this is about the only positive news I can relate to you. Things are tense. Some of the town-folk have grown suspicious that they see Gerald and his family on the street, but never at church. I have come to respect Gerald's views, my fellow town-folk have not. Even my wife asks me about them, and I've done my best to dodge the issue, but I fear we don't have long left.

On top of this, I find myself more and more persuaded by what atheists are telling me the longer I spend on YouTube and with Gerald. Our views directly conflict on many fronts, but for me, it's not the science vs bible issue that I find to be the most relevant here. It's the human drama behind the scenes.

I am beginning to believe that I have lived a lie. My views were never significantly challenged throughout my life. My life itself fed on, depended on, the teachings of my church, and my religion. We bonded over the stories. Our many happy, memorable experiences all in some way came back to the church. Our beliefs brought us together. They made us happy. But I'm coming to believe that we had been lied to.

If there is one thing I would wish for people to understand about me and the people in my town, it is this: we are not idiots. We are not stupid people. We are happy. The stories give us pleasure. They give us something to bond over, to find our sweethearts, to tell to our children, to make them happy too. It's not that we can't understand science. It may not even be entirely accurate to suggest we don't want to. It's that we can't afford to. Gerald is about to find out what happens when you are seen as a threat to that happiness. I can't blame the town. I can't blame Gerald for trying to make a life for his family. All I can do is watch and despair for what his about to happen...


I've moved to the UK. Sally left me, she has custody of the kids. Gerald and his family have come along with me, not knowing what else to do. Also, I am an atheist. I can no longer believe, in good conscience, the stories that my town and my church used to teach me. The Earth is not 6000 years old. God did not create it. It is between 4 and 5 billion years old, and it started with the big bang. I'm still a little sketchy with the details of the exact moment of creation, but, as I understand it, even the scientists studying it are. I don't think you even need me to say, then, why I am in this situation.

I am not pessimistic. Many of my YouTube friends live here. I came here, not because I don't love the USA, but because, for people like me, we are most definitely safe. Me and Gerald saw a video of the 2010 elections when a liberal candidate said on national TV "I am not a man of god". This place will be more welcoming for now. I will make a new life here. I will find someone else to share my life with. I love Sally dearly. The pain is excruciating. Nevertheless, I can't go back. The joy, the warmth, the welcoming open arms were reserved for members of their community, people who see the world as they see it. I no longer do or can.

This is the end of my story, but know that I don't hate them. I don't fear them. I don't blame them. They only want what any other human being wants: to belong, to love and be loved, and to be happy. Maybe one day when their children, or grandchildren, who will interact with technology that I can't even imagine, who could possibly meet a stranger in another country in a way that would be no different to us than meeting someone for a coffee today, can meet and interact with atheists like Gerald, and now myself, they can turn the community around, that it is not threatened by the present, that it embraces the future. And yet, I wonder whether we can replace that joy, that sense of community, of togetherness? I, at least, will endeavor to try...


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