The universe – perhaps even multiverse – is colossal beyond the imagination of any living human. Its greatness, its complexity and its poetic beauty are beyond the boldest dreams of our very best and brightest minds.
Science is the quest for understanding of this colossal reality. It is a quest, which has taken many generations and which will take many more. In fact, there may be no end to this journey.
Faith, on the other hand, is the arrogant proposition that the intuition of an average human is enough to understand the universe. “I FEEL the presence of God, therefore I KNOW it exists and I KNOW it created the universe.” That is the ugly face of human arrogance at its worst.
Atheism, in contrast, is the honest admission that nothing humans can come up with today – not faith, not gods, not even modern science and mathematics – can do the universe justice. It is an expression of humility before the incredible reality of our world. And more than that, it is a tribute to the patience, the persistence and the personal sacrifices of those who embark on the quest of science. It is a tribute to those men and women who take the first steps, who struggle to ask the right questions even in the face of their fears, knowing full well that they will not know the answers in their lifetime. All of this, so that our children and our children’s children may one day find understanding.
Faith is an expression of the darkness, the savagery which still lurks within all of us – an expression of selfishness, arrogance, fear, and very often of aggression. Its very existence is a reminder that we have to make it a lifelong effort to hold out against that darkness. But while individual scientists may not always measure up to ethical standards, science itself is an honest and courageous pursuit for the betterment of humanity. It is an expression of the very best in us, which religious faith so presumptuously brushes aside. Science is a testament to the fact that we can truly be more than we are, and Atheism is its loyal and humble companion.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why I could never be anything other than an Atheist.1 comment
Lately, I’ve been taking advantage of conversations (in my doctor’s waiting room, among other places) to confront random people with the following question. Before I write up a summary of some of the interesting answers I got, I’d like to see if I can get some feedback from religious people on the net. Feel free to use the comment function. Or send me an e-mail, I’ll keep your identity strictly confidential.
Here we go:
Imagine you were under some kind of control that prevented you from doing four things:
- praying (including one-liners such as “dear god, help me”), seeking out religious places, and consulting religious literature or people
- using mind-altering substances, including alcohol and psychiatric drugs
- hiding from life, e.g. by going crazy
- taking your life
How big an impact would having “no escape from reality” have on you? How would you adjust your strategy for dealing with problems and challenges in your daily life? Who would you turn to in times of crisis? What alternative sources of comfort and empowerment would you explore? How long do you think it would take you to adapt to these new circumstances?
I realize that no method of control with such properties exists in reality, this is totally a what-if scenario. On the other hand, imagining oneself in unusual, even impossible situations can be an entertaining and useful learning experience. So why don’t you give it a try? I’d really like to hear your comments!3 comments
“God is in everything.”
“The universe itself is a living organism.”
A definition of life most people could probably accept would go as follows: something is alive if it has either consciousness or a series of other properties including metastability, the ability to metabolize external substances and/or energy, to respond to stimuli, to procreate, and to adapt to a changing environment, possibly only over the course of more than one generation. The latter set of criteria relies on the presence of an external environment, which would require a universe sized creature to be embedded in a larger multiverse.No comments
Religions hold that an advanced alien culture (one or more so called “gods”) had a hand in the development of the human race. Atheism (and sometimes agnosticism) disputes these claims on the grounds that they are implausible: there are no indications that our planet is an artificial structure. For that matter, there are no indications that the universe is even remotely artificial in nature. There are just too many badly designed, woefully inefficient processes in nature, that someone with access to the fabric of the universe could easily optimize. And as for biological development, there is a known process called “evolution”, which can be observed in the real world as well as in simulations, and which explains our presence on Earth to a satisfactory degree.
There are other arguments against the existence of gods, rooted in both observation and logic. I can subscribe to almost all of them, and they appear to suffice for the majority atheists. Not, however, for me. Reformed Atheism (for the lack of a better word) must go beyond probabilities and make a definite statement that no gods exist. Here is the first of many:2 comments