13 October 2011

Quotes for the day -- appreciating reality

"I don’t believe in gods for much the same reason that I don’t believe in fairies, bogeymen, ghosts, lucky gems, leprechauns, Santa or the Easter Bunny. There isn’t a shred of convincing evidence for the existence of any of them, plenty of evidence that they are grossly surplus to requirements for explaining any phe- nomenon, and that proposing them just creates more problems than it solves. There just isn’t a good reason for believing in any supernatural being, and plenty of good reasons for not believing."

"My atheism is but a small bud sprouting from the scientific thinking that lets me appreciate the real world, the real universe, as it actually is, in every other aspect of my life. Atheism should be one of those things you arrive at in any honest quest for truth – but it’s not an ends in itself. And science, reason, rational thinking and sceptical enquiry are the best tools devised for uncovering reality. There are of course “other ways of knowing” – it’s just they’re complete bollocks. Beyond laughable in the shadow of empirical science..... Find me a person who could uncover the structure of the atom, of light, of the complexity of life through “other ways of knowing”. It’s exasperating, ridiculous and sad that adult humans can even utter those kinds of opinions with a straight face."

Heather Dalgleish, Scotland


"The world as explained by science is so beautiful it makes me weep. Literally. When I think about these tiny jiggling particles that constitute everything, when I gaze into the sky and see the vastness of the Cosmos, when I sit in my chair, smoke a pipe and consider life on Earth and try to wrap my head around the unimaginably complex processes that allowed me to form as a human being and now ponder life itself, when I try to imagine and appreciate how much we have accomplished, when I see the shrouded realm of what we do not yet know my eyes brim with tears of emotion, my heart leaps with expectation and wonder. I am so grateful that I am privileged enough to live in times of great scientific understanding and in social circumstances that exposed me to all this information. It is marvellous. It is profound. When I hear anyone proposing an invisible being whose existence denies the weight of all the things I hold dearest, I feel like I have been slapped in the face. Any concept of god steals away the world’s beauty and wonder and mints it into a mere cog in some strange machinery. It is outrageous to me and most offensive. It beslimes the greatness of human discovery and I will have none of it."

Radek Szyroki, Poland


(Both from the "Why I am an atheist" series at Pharyngula)

4 Comments:

Blogger Robert the Skeptic said...

This is something I have been thinking about recently - the difficulty of being an Atheist. Believing is easy, you simply turn off your mind; but Atheism requires work, study, inquiry... it takes work to attain. Many believers do not understand this, they think Atheism is simple denial of a deity, not so.

As the believer wife of a close friend once told me: "I find the more you think about it, the harder it is to believe." I don't think she realized the extent of what she had said.

13 October, 2011 13:00  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Those are beautiful descriptions of why I find atheism liberating and full of promising possibilities.

When I remember what religion offered me as I was growing up, I remember mean, cramped, and narrow arguments that led to nothing more than magical thinking that explained nothing and positioned me against everything that didn't embrace its dogma.

Once I left religion behind in my 20s, I never regretted it for an instant. My children and their children are religion-free and just as grateful to be so.

13 October, 2011 16:21  
Blogger Nance said...

"Any concept of god steals away the world’s beauty and wonder and mints it into a mere cog in some strange machinery."

The mystery glows when it stands alone. As Robert says, it requires effort to be with it and not try to explain it away or contain it by contorting it. The more you study the various types of containment and contortion, the madder you can get. When someone tries to bend it into a fairy tale, it just gets weird, and then weirder, and then ugly.

Studying the science at any level, on the other hand, just makes the whole glow brighter.

13 October, 2011 17:15  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RtS: I recognize that this reflects the experience of many atheists, maybe most. To me, atheism has always seemed like the natural, default view of the world. I guess it's a difference between those who were raised religious and later broke free from it, and those of us (seemingly rare) who grew up without religion.

SK: Exactly so. The reality -- evolution and modern cosmology -- is so rich and fascinating; religious ideas seem trite and flat by comparison.

I hope your children and grandchildren will always find atheism natural to them, as I do, and not something that takes an effort to sustain.

Nance: We now know that the universe is literally millions of times vaster, in both space and time, than the primitives who wrote the Bible ever imagined. Trying to fit that universe into a local mythology -- a little mythology -- does indeed mean contorting it, even squeezing it down to nothing.

Science is awe-inspiring. I have all of Dawkins's books, but I actually find the ones on evolutionary biology more interesting than the promotion of atheism, because they present the awesome reality of nature.

13 October, 2011 18:20  

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