There’s been a fascinating debate playing out through letters to the editor and online comments in The Chronicle.
In essence the discussion has been about the thing most fundamental to our existence, and yet impossible to prove or disprove.
It’s about whether toilet paper should roll over the front or back.
Just kidding. It’s about the existence of God.
Like that ages-old debate over how to hang a roll of tissue, this is one of those things that ultimately forces everyone to take a side – or chicken out of the debate altogether.
To an excessive, and probably sometimes obnoxious degree, I rarely shy away from a debate – though I’m gradually learning how sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut than to punch someone in theirs. But what baffles me about this debate is the overwhelming importance people on both sides attach to their own view.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not belittling anyone’s belief, or lack thereof. But who thinks they can change the existence of God merely by the force of their argument?
Either God exists, or he doesn’t. There is no gray area. I happen to believe He does; I have no interest in attempting to prove His existence to someone who doesn’t believe it. Likewise, I’m not worried about the eternal future of those who don’t believe in his existence. That’s on them.
Where the debate troubles me is when the sides polarize. On one extreme we see those who not only are rabidly insistent on belief in God, but in demanding that everyone else believe in God according to their particular set of rules or be forever doomed to their vision of eternal punishment.
(My own vision of eternal punishment is being tied to a chair, gnats swirling around my head, while forced to watch cloggers dancing to Nickelback songs.)
On the other side are committed unbelievers who invariably assert what they see as their intellectually superiority to believers, yet insist they are threatened by any mere expression of belief.
Neither side is going to get the other side to agree with them through threats of eternal damnation or fear of earthly ridicule. So is there a middle ground?
Of course. Believe the way you want to believe. Raise your children the way you want them raised. Feel free to share your belief, or unbelief, in any civil, legal manner you wish.
If a message of belief or of unbelief makes you uncomfortable, then maybe that’s something you should pray or think deeply about, depending on your view.
In the end, none of us will know the answer to those eternal questions until a few seconds after our deaths. At that time, it will either be all that matters, or it won’t matter at all. It’s your choice about how you face it.
By the way: The roll should come over the top unless you have cats. Those atheists like to unfurl it.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, ext. 106. Follow at www.twitter.com/