No doubt Pat would be offended by your claim that he is with God. Doesn't matter if you believe - he didn't and would resent you trying to thrust your beliefs on him. Face it - Pat Tillman did not believe in God or any kind of afterlife. He is exactly where he believed he'd end up after death - nowhere. Period.
Posted by Catherine to SANSEGO at July 14, 2012 9:40 PM
Thank you for your comment.
However, I think you missed the point of my post. A person who was an "atheist" in life, who then died and realized that he still exists in a spiritual form would not be "offended" by someone in human form saying that I think he would go to heaven.
I'm not thrusting my beliefs on him. Nor would I ever tell his family that "Pat's in heaven" because it would be inappropriate to do so. But since this blog is about how I view the world, I have the right to express my opinions regarding the fate of Pat Tillman and I really believe that he went to heaven.
Most atheist I know don't really object to an afterlife existence. It's that they cannot believe it exists because they require scientific evidence before they believe, and they have seen too many people make too many divisive claims regarding spiritual ideas that they don't want to spend the time to find a belief system that might resonate with them.
I completely understand the knee-jerk reaction to those who push an evangelical / fundamentalist Christian view of existence and afterlife possibilities. However, evangelical Christians likely believe that the atheist Pat Tillman would be burning in hell for his lack of belief in God. My universal spiritual view indicates that even an atheist like Pat Tillman would likely be in heaven and I don't think he would object to having discovered that he is an eternal being who will one day see his family someday.
I don't think Pat Tillman would be "offended" by what I wrote in my blog tribute to him. As the documentary pointed out, he felt like an protective older brother to a Mormon guy in his platoon. Pat appears to me to be a truly open-minded guy who read things, even if he did not agree with the message (he did read the Book of Mormon out of curiosity).
Catherine's comment is absurd and completely clueless. In the documentary about Pat Tillman (The Tillman Story) and the book I read that was written by his mother, Pat did not strike me as a person who got offended easily. Anyone who uses the "f-bomb" in casual conversations with his parents, brothers, friends, and professional capacities is not a person who shrinks from a world that "offends" him. That word is considered to be the most offensive word in the English language by many people (not me, though. I share the Tillman family's love of the word "fuck" and its derivatives), so for Pat Tillman to use it frequently and without a filter for whether the situation merits it or not, it indicates that he did not concern himself with offending others or being offended by others. This is part of the reason why I admire him. He was secure enough in his own beliefs that he did not go through life getting offended by what other people believe.
Also, in the documentary, Tillman is presented as a man who read a wide range of books, even by writers he might not agree with or books that present views that he doesn't agree with. In his platoon, he took on a protective older brother role to a Mormon member of his special forces team. He even read the Book of Mormon, probably to understand how his Mormon friend views the world. Such a curious mind is not an indication of a person who gets offended easily.
Another point, and this one made me laugh at the absurdity of Catherine's argument: "No doubt Pat would be offended by your claim that he is with God. Doesn't matter if you believe - he didn't and would resent you trying to thrust your beliefs on him." How exactly would a person who died be offended if a living person wrote on a blog that he believes that the soul of Pat Tillman still exists and found its way back to God? If an atheist discovered that he was wrong about life being the only form of existence, it would be quite a pleasant surprise to be wrong. I know that atheists love to talk a good game about their being okay with "knowing" or believing that they will not exist when their body dies, but how honest are they about this belief anyway?
Second point, how am I "trying to thrust my beliefs" on Pat Tillman? As Catherine pointed out, he's dead. He supposedly doesn't exist, so how does a non-existent being get offended and resentful about something I wrote about him on my blog tribute post? I did not misrepresent him in my post at all. I pointed out that Pat Tillman was an atheist. But this is also MY BLOG, which has a stated intention that this blog exists to present my views regarding politics, spirituality, and pop culture. As the writer of this blog, I have the right to express my opinion on anything that I consider worthy to write about. In my tribute post to Pat Tillman, I was respectful of him and his life. He is a personal hero to me. I have no problem with his atheism. To express my belief that the great soul that was Pat Tillman still exists in spiritual form and has gone to the heavenly spiritual dimension is not meant to be offensive. Its meant to be a compliment. A fundamentalist / evangelical Christian would likely believe that Tillman went to hell because of his atheist beliefs in life. I don't share that view, because it is not our beliefs that matter in the end as much as how we live our lives in accordance with what we claim to believe. The afterlife might not be a pleasant experience for people who are hypocrites or who have spent their lives bringing misery to other people or indulging in greedy, inconsiderate behaviours. Pat was none of those things. He was true to himself and followed his inner calling. He is a great soul who lived a fantastic life but died a tragic death.
I've had many conversation with atheists in the past 23 years. From my understanding of their psychology, many atheists are intelligent and very rational / scientific in their thinking process. They require evidence before they will believe something, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many atheists are proud of their rationality, almost to the point of arrogance (particularly those who look down upon or are dismissive of anyone who has a spiritualist view of existence). I've also intuited from my conversations with many atheists that their biggest fear is being duped by a false idea. For them, it is far better to reject all ideas that cannot be proven by the scientific method than to explore all the different beliefs out there to find one that resonates with them. They are simply comfortable in the rationalist world, and that's fine.
The friction comes with dealing with spiritual-minded people on the conservative / absolutist side of things. There is no love between atheists and fundamentalist / evangelical Christians. That's where most of the intense battle lines are. A universal spiritualist like myself (not to be confused with the Unitarian Universalist Church), who believes that there are many pathways that lead to God (or Source Energy, or "The Universe", or whatever term a person wants to use), is caught in the middle of this battle. I like neither the intolerance of different points of view that the fundamentalists have about those who don't share their very narrow view of spirituality and the ultimate meaning of life nor the automatic dismissal of any spiritual idea that cannot yet be proven by science that atheists are well known for doing. However, despite being in the middle of the ideological divide between atheists and fundamentalist / evangelical Christianity, I tend to "side" with the atheists because they are the minority, they are more rational, and they value the freedom of people to believe as they wish. The fundamentalist / evangelical Christian view is far too scary to contemplate (they seem to desire a complete authoritarian theocratic police state and hate democracy, as well as anyone who does not share their level of ignorance, fear, and narrow-minded bigotry).
Can I fault a rational-thinking atheist who rejects religion in favor of a scientific / materialist view of the world? I don't. However, when people claim that I'm thrusting my views at people, I actually don't. I love discussing ideas and when I'm in conversation with people who believe differently than me, all I do is present information based on what I've learned and experience as "something to consider." Many I've talked to over the years have never heard some of the ideas I've talked about, so it's just a different perspective that might expand their thinking. In my own personal history, I have accepted friends of any religious beliefs (including ones that I don't agree with, such as Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, or Islam) or none at all. To me, what a person believes or doesn't believe matter very little to me.
If atheist-minded folks are offended that I believe that atheists can and do go to the heavenly spiritual dimension when they die, then that is a hilarious thing to be "offended" about. Would they rather have me claim like the fundamentalist Christians that they will be burning in hell for eternity? My tribute blog post about Pat Tillman was meant to honor him, while also sharing my personal belief that despite his atheism, I really truly believe that the soul of Pat Tillman found his way back to the heavenly spiritual dimension and his soul would not be offended to find out that life does exist beyond what rational, scientific-materialists have been unable to detect thus far. If this personal view of mine offends anyone, well...in words that the Tillman family can appreciate, I'd say: FUCK YOU! (and get a life!). Ha. I'm actually not that crude, though. What I really want to say is that atheists would not be offended if someone thinks that their soul would end up in heaven. Atheists simply do not believe that an afterlife exists because they need actual physical evidence or confirmation from scientific laboratory tests. But at the end of our lives, I don't believe anyone would ever be offended to learn that their beliefs about the finality of life on earth was wrong. To learn that there is an entirely new dimension out there where they get to exist for eternity is probably the greatest thrill we shall all get to experience one day. Anyone offended by that really should see a shrink about their hostility towards an afterlife.