I'm sure you all heard the news that Stephen Hawking recently stated that new theories of the start of the universe leave no space in which to postulate a God. Now I haven't read his latest work & I'm not about to go in to scientific theory, what I'm interested in is the reaction of Christians & other religious people to this statement. Non surprisingly I heard an awful lot of very defensive statements on the radio, mostly rehashing old & long disproved arguments about irreducible complexity
(seriously Christians, is being proved wrong a million times not enough for you?)
The statement that made my blood boil, though, was some priest on radio 4 complaining that 'people like Steven Hawking & Richard Dawkins spread despair." Dispair?! Are you fucking kidding me?!
Now, for me becoming an atheist was a moment of pure euphoria. It was the falling away of the niggling doubts & contractions that had been at the back of my mind for many years. It was like finally telling the secret that I had been keeping from myself & actually just living instead of trying to perpetuate that lie all the time (it's not like a normal lie - religion takes over your entire waking life.) I realise that it's not such a joyous process for everyone, there is often the stressful 'coming out', dealing with religious family members or leaving the support structure of you church. However what seems to be more rare is the one thing that theists go on & on about as the reason not to lose your faith, existential crisis. The loss of purpose of your life, & as one person has said to me online this week - your inevitable suicide. Yes you read that right, without God, you have no option left but suicide.
Now I'm sorry, but just because there is no meaning to life, doesn't mean there is no experience
. Just because you know you love because of chemicals & synapses doesn't mean you can't enjoy the experience of being in love. In fact you can probably enjoy the first guilt free sex of your life - congratulations! It's ok to be gay, it's ok to be kinky, it' all freaking ok!
And removing religious guilt doesn't automatically mean removing morals either. Look back over the last 1000 years of human history. Ok, so there's no 'master plan' we're making it up as we go along; but evolution has left ingrained in us the blueprints of how to function as a society, & we are sociable animals after all. The more we learn about ourselves, the greater the tools we have to deal with problems in society. The problem with religion is that it discourages people from dealing with reality, & denying reality is never a good thing, no matter how much better it might make you feel. Believing you don't have cancer won't cure it; believing you are a millionaire won't get rid of your debts. How many times have you heard that question 'why does God let wars happen?' If you remove God from the equation you get the question 'why do wars happen?' Now there's a question we can begin to tackle on a practical level. We can begin to analyse the nature of what it is to be human & look at ourselves in a truly honest light. If you leave God in then at best you may get prayer & believe me, talking to an invisible sky fairy is not going to bring about world peace.
Atheists aren't going to start murdering or fucking everyone they meet, that, frankly, would not be a viable sociological model, unless we want to all live alone in caves. And with our advanced human brainpower we can analyse, create, learn about our own behaviour to a level that no other animal can, & even better than that, we can take all the credit! Now there's genuine free will!
Just because God didn't create the universe doesn't make it any less astounding or beautiful. The fact God didn't tell us what is right & wrong means we have even greater reason to admire those figures from history who moved humanity forward. Discovering the truth that there is no supernatural power means that we are free to chose the meaning of our own lives.
I am not the first person to suggest this, & I am not the person most successful in perusing this goal, but I will repeat it none the less because it is the way I've chosen & for me it's the single greatest way to pursue meaning in your life. Use your humanity. Go for excellence, learn everything you can, hone your body, find inspiration in nature, love people, do whatever you can with the sum of your parts & know that YOU are the one moving forward without even the suggestion of relying on a fictitious man in the sky.
So next time you hear someone say that Atheism spreads despair, just think about your immeasurable potential as a human being & be glad that there's no God to send you to hell if you chose to simply live a good life, however you see fit.