It is the start of a new year and once again I am glad to be godless.
When theists rail against atheism, they often speak in apocalyptic terms, as if we represent some kind of shambling zombie horde, just itching to burn churches, put believers in camps, devour brains, and of course, eat babies. It is almost as if they actually believe that atheism somehow strips the world of beauty, of meaning, of purpose, of wonderment. To that, I can only shake my head.
It is good to be godless.
Far from stripping the world of wonderment, I have found the world and our Universe to be a far more magnificent, magical, awe inspiring place once I let go of the illusion of god.
I am humbled in the face of the Universe. I feel reverence and awe when I look up at the cosmos. I feel inspired by the magnificent and abundant beauty that has arisen all around us. And that feeling of reverence is only compounded by the realization that there is no plan, no design, no authorship. Those moments of randomness where a chance glance outward captures the rays of the setting sun perfectly echoed in the clouds. Or a single wind warped tree clinging to the side of a cliff.
These are not moments created by any authorship - indeed, authorship would strip them of their grace and beauty in the same way that stacking the deck to ensure a royal flush would strip away the excitement of honestly receiving it. It is the very unlikelihood and randomness of existence that makes it so powerful and beautiful. And it is our ability to actually appreciate the wonder and grace and elegance and beauty of existence that sets our species apart. Our ability to be moved by beauty. Our ability to find meaning and power and inspiration in the world around us.
We do not need god to be moved. We do not need god to be inspired. We do not need god to feel reverence and awe. This world in all of its magnificent, jaw dropping beauty is more than enough all on its own. We are privileged to bear witness to the culmination and combination of countless billions of changes in billions of species over billions of years coupled with the magnificent evolution of the geophysical world wrought by erosion, plate tectonics, hydrology, gravity and time.
This beauty is rare, fleeting, improbable. We are privileged to experience a world in full bloom. To simply attribute such awesome beauty to some supra-entity is to miss out on one of the most vital and profound experiences of all - the rarity and preciousness of existence. To attribute such beauty to god is to cheat onesself out of the truly amazing and profound power of life.
As late and wonderful Douglas Adams once wrote, "Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"
It's 2011 and I'm glad to be godless.