Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
I love this clip from Stephen Fry. He beautifully articulates much of my own thinking. He shares ideas I’ve felt and expressed within myself for a long time, and shared with others on a few occasions. But powerful and important as Fry’s ideas are, they are shared in a negative context, “Why I wouldn’t believe in god if ‘he’ existed.”
I believe there are also positive ideas in praise of atheism. I am a devout atheist not because I hate god or want to deny that experience to others: if religion is enriching for people, that’s wonderful. But it isn’t enriching for me. I see religions across the globe that limit inquiry, wonder, and the joy of discovery. Yes, the idea of a personal god who created us, cares about us both individually and as a people, and listens to our prayers is comforting. But I also find it a limiting fantasy. It’s a very selfish, homocentric perspective. I see existence in this universe as so much more vast, and so much less about me. It wasn’t long ago that we believed the sun rotated around the earth. Since then our minds, our universe of possibilities, have expanded to encompass not one, but a hundred billion suns in our Milky Way galaxy. It was even more recently that Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way wasn’t the universe, but one of a hundred billion galaxies, each with perhaps a hundred billion stars. Today we try to grapple with a universe of universes.
There are members of my family who believe that both Evolution and Global Warming are myths. That the earth is only 6,000 years old, and that we need not concern ourselves with climate change, holes in the ozone, or anything else. That “he” will watch over us. I’m sure it’s comforting to imagine such a loving and powerful “parent,” but I am convinced that this universe we live in is more spectacular, more complex, and more vast than any codified spiritual dogma has the capacity to appreciate. I doubt the universe cares about us as much as our putative gods do. Yet life and intelligence are likely so rare that they are cause for joyous celebration. This vast and remarkable universe, this glory of creation if you like, should fill our minds, yes with humility, but also with inspiration and new possibilities.