"Since consciousness has arisen in our species, the stark face of this truth about our final fate has fed life-after-death fantasies that are impossible to sustain..."Hickey's Atheist Tale, entitled 'Resuscitation', takes on the idea of the afterlife and all of its flaws using (or maybe inspiring) the anthology's tagline - "Fiction, Not Lies". Hickey's story uses sci-fi to posit what would happen if we had near-indisputable proof that heaven did not exist, and his conclusions are terrifying and believable, following Aristotle's principles of fiction that it is more important for a story to be believable than true. He doesn't, however, expect the reader to believe the story to be true, as humanity has been expected to believe of the bible.
Instead, 'Resusciatation' looks at a rational man trying to send a message to all of humanity that with his proof against the existence of an afterlife, it is time to finally start living in the present. I am in complete agreement with our narrator's statement that "these fantasies absolutely prohibit dealing with the actual potential that exists in the life we do have." I think this is one of the most devastating effects of religion. Sure, there are good things - morality, peace, love. But much of the suffering of humanity over hundreds or thousands of years has come of the expectance of paradise as a reward, and how easily people throw away the miraculous life given them.
This story is concerned with Christianity's choice of ignorance over knowledge. In 'Resuscitation', the fundamentalists reject scientific knowledge and can't face the truth, bringing suffering to the living in order to secure their place in their mystical afterlife. Hopefully some day we'll be free of such maniacs?
By the way: Once again I couldn't resist using a random image from pop culture to accompany one of the Atheist Tales. Jack Nicholson looks ready to be resuscitated by advanced government technologies, right?