Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Beautiful Reality

My first post on this blog spoke of religious people caring about how their beliefs make them feel, and atheists caring about whether their beliefs are true. However, it is important to ask, why not both? The original purpose of this blog is to show people that being a non-believer feels good, and I have not yet addressed that.

1) Everything is as it is.

You and I are living, breathing, thinking, loving creatures. Our purpose is not to be a servant or a worshipper. The universe is ancient, mind-boggling and strange in every aspect (but always follows consistent natural laws), and living in it is a privilege. Living things come from other living things, they are not created. Evolution allows life to become more beautiful as the aeons pass. When the wind hits your face, it has traveled thousands of miles, from across the planet. It may have even been in the lungs of a Roman soldier or a dinosaur, through the leaves of a plant in the Philippines, or struck by a meteor as it entered our atmosphere. Clouds sit on the gas our atmosphere like ice in a glass of water. We don’t see any spirit realm, no ghosts, no demons, no Heaven or Hell (phew! The idea of spending eternity anywhere is just strange). Just here and now, in this self-propelling, natural world. Now that I am full-fledged atheist (with an interest in science and how the world works), my eyes are open: the universe is so amazing, vibrant, grand, strange, and with such a greater imagination than man. I am humbled, empowered, and awestruck, all at the same time.

2) You do good for the sake of doing good.

When we see others feeling pain, we feel pain. When we see others feel happiness, we feel happiness (we are not the only creatures to do this either). I do good for the sake of doing good, I care about others, I want good things to happen to everyone. This happens not because anyone tells me to do so. It is a result of being human, and we all have these impulses. Problems that I have are my own that I should solve, and the mistakes I make are my own to ponder over. There is no one accounting for my actions but myself, and I am trying the best I can.

This method of living can be said to be more reliable than religion overall, given some facts:
  • atheists consist of 0.25% of the prison population.
  • more secular nations have far lower violent crime and teen pregnancy rates (ex. Japan: less than 10% are certain a god exists, has lowest crime rates and teen pregnancy rates in the world, other good examples include Norway, U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands)
  • high levels of atheism are strongly correlated with high levels of societal health, such as low homicide rates, low poverty rates, low infant mortality rates, low illiteracy rates, high levels of educational attainment, per capita income, and gender equality
  • the U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the world, and has some of the highest crime rates and teen pregnancy rates
  • ironically, atheists and agnostics have lower divorce rates, less abortions, and lower STD infection rates than the religious
  • countries that have very low percentages of atheists in their population have either high crime rates, low quality of life, or social and political problems, such as: Somalia, Tanzania, Yemen, the Philippines, Romania, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Iran.
These facts do not prove that religion makes you immoral, only that it doesn’t strengthen society. Atheism, like religion, does not guarantee morality, but it can be said to be more reliable.

3) Reason is awesome.
Going off of evidence is so much more reliable in discerning truth than going off of faith. Not only am I much more secure in what I believe, but those beliefs are completely open to whatever the evidence says (whatever reality is), and that feels good, it feels right. I should never be attached to my beliefs, because then I may then be closed off to changing them, and the malleability of my beliefs to fit reality is essential to finding truth. I rather like this position and strategy for evaluating the world. It makes me okay with not knowing the answer to something, and helps me to recognize that my worldview is completely dependent on what I see. I feel that using reason reflects the nature of human understanding.

There has never been any good evidence for God, supernatural realms and beings, or even an immaterial plane separate from a material one. What the evidence says is what my views will mold to.

- Evan

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