Am I an atheist? Maybe. Merely faithless? Could be more accurate. Agnostic? That much is for sure. For the purposes of this blog, let’s just go with atheist.
I don’t allow more than one chance in a million that God exists as he is described in the literature, and I only put it that way as a kindness to believers. That’s one ten-thousandth of one percent chance, and generous at that. (You can check my math. I’m a lawyer, not a scientist.) But if there is a God, and we must pass some kind of test in the end, I’m pretty sure that I’ll pass. Why? Because I try to treat people well, that’s why.
Day to day, day in and day out, I try to validate people. I flatter and encourage them; I try to make them laugh. I always try to help others to have a good day. I comfort sufferers. I do this for friends, co-workers and total strangers. If anything, my attentions favor the less fortunate. I appreciate the security and housecleaning staff wherever I go, and I make sure that they know it. I’m a good tipper, even in Thailand where people think tipping is ridiculous. (After seven years, my barber still smiles and shakes his head when I tip him.) When I was younger, I lost my temper frequently, but it hardly happens at all anymore. Now I’m all about bringing happiness to the world, one smile and a half-a-buck at a time.
Honestly, I don’t know why I behave this way. God certainly has nothing to do with it. It’s certainly not as a gesture to that ten-thousandth of a percent chance that I don’t believe in anyway. Is it for others? For myself? Because I believe that it’s the right thing to do? I couldn’t say with any confidence. Maybe it’s just my personality. Maybe it’s because I desperately wish that I had been treated that way during the difficult passages in my life.
One thing is for sure: we don't need God looking over our shoulder to behave well in this world.
In spite of all of this excellent behavior, I don’t think of myself as a particularly good person. This could be because I know what goes on in the darkest corners of my psyche when the lights are out. Or perhaps because I have known so many people that were more worthy than me. Most likely it’s because I can remember so many times when I was less than good.
Come to think of it, I’m not a very good person at all. I probably try to be a positive presence in the lives of the people around me to make up for my shortcomings.