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Has that warped thought ever occurred to you ?  It obviously has to me.  Atheism robs us of the satisfaction born of the blood lust and vengeance which tempts us every time a serial killer strikes, every time a child is raped and murdered, every time a terrorist decapitates an innocent victim, as one did in France this morning.  (A French politician, displaying a severe case of historical amnesia, called it the first decapitation in France …).  Even in the country I have adopted, where since 1981 the guillotine has been dismantled (or put into moth-balls ?), many find consolation in God’s supposedly more enlightened intolerance of evil in inflicting atrocious eternal suffering on the sadists, the suicide bombers and the S.S.

If one of my own loved ones were a victim of such monsters I must confess I would probably be tempted by such a vicious pipe-dream.  But rationally, and without the pressure of actually experiencing such a tragedy, I am inclined to regret that Hell does not exist, for another reason.  That guy who today butchered the businessman in southeastern France, that other terrorist who this morning killed 37 tourists on a beach in Tunisia, and the Sunnis who slaughtered, also today, another 25 in a Shiite mosque in Koweit, when they die will all, like everyone else, simply cease to exist, without ever not only experiencing punishment for their crimes, but not even the realization that their religious fanaticism, to say nothing of their promised 72 virgins, was a total illusion.  They caused excruciating suffering to their victims and their families but will escape both retribution and the frustration of enlightenment when they die.  Death is indeed the Great Leveller, the Great Equalizer.  Rich or poor, believer or atheist, saint or sinner, hero or criminal, we all die – and that’s it ! It’s all over.  Annihilation.  Nothingness.  The fragile bubble which was life and consciousness has burst.  We are no more.  No reward for the just, no punishment for the wicked, no realization how wrong both were.  It’s enough to make you want to believe in Heaven (for us) and above all Hell for all those bastards (unlike you and me) who deserve it.

All things considered, it’s no wonder people believe in God and attach such importance to the “Last Things” : Death, Judgment, Heaven and/or Hell.  But no amount of wishful thinking will make God, Heaven and Hell exist.  A pity ?  Akin to regretting that children grow up.