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The Death of an Atheist

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I don’t know whether I ever did believe in reincarnation. Or life after death, or even, for that matter, in ghosts of the dead haunting their old homes. It’s not because I’m a sceptic, only believing in what I can see before me, although some of the things I have seen so completely defy logic that the most cynical of sceptics would never be able to explain them away.

I’ve been sceptical and fanciful by turns through my life. I’ve gone from wanting desperately for aliens, time travellers and espers to exist in my life, to refusing to believe in them at all, to being forced beyond all doubt to conclude that such things are all around me. It’s not reason that kept me from believing that a soul could live on without its body for a home. I truly think that the question had never even crossed my mind. A child doesn’t think about death. A teenager doesn’t worry about it. It’s something too far in the future to care about.

Before I turned seventeen, I never asked myself the question of what happened when we died. I learned about the spirits of my dead ancestors from my mother, sure, and how to pay proper respect to them, but I never asked myself whether there was really anything left of my great-great-grandfather to hear, or whether he would care if I passed my tests or not. I was always too busy gazing at the stars, or thinking about one girl or another at school, to worry about death. So I don’t know whether I believed in reincarnation before I was seventeen. The thought never crossed my mind.

It wasn’t until my final year of high school that I was forced to ask myself that question, and when I did, the answer was immediate, and unshakeable. I did not believe that a person could die and come back to life, and I never would. I knew, more surely than I had ever known anything before, that from the moment that Haruhi Suzumiya died, there could never be anything miraculous in the world again.