Isn’t this … enough? Just … this?

I am listening to The Angry Atheist podcast where Reap interviews Dan Rawlings from Travis Air Force Base. I was really inspired by this portion of the conversation.

Reap: I had a cop the other night, i got pulled over and i had a cop say, “So you’re an atheist?” and i said “Yeah!” and so he goes, “So you don’t believe in God”? and i said “I don’t believe there’s any proof that there’s a god.” And he goes, “Well sure there is!” and i said, “Well, what is it?” and he goes, “Well look around you!” And i just wanted to go, “Are you a fricking retard, dude? What the hell do you mean, just look around me? That’s not proof of anything!”

Dan: Yeah, i know. I remember i got online and i was talking to some atheists when i was kinda doing my soul-searching and looking for things. And i remember looking at a leaf from a tree and thinking, “Holy crap! This wasn’t designed! This just became what it is, through millions of years of evolution. There’s a perfectly logical explanation for this. It makes sense. But … HOLY COW! This thing that i took for granted, i’ve just been taking for granted this whole entire time.” You know, look around, look at everything. Alright, well look at the trees. Look at nature. You know what? There’s explanations for it. You don’t have to freaking believe in hocus pocus to see beauty in reality!

Reap: I think it’s more awesome the way that stuff evolved, than a being snapping his fingers and making it.

It’s true, isn’t it? This world is amazing. It’s beautiful. I’m getting into photography a lot more these days, and i find myself seeking beauty in nature, and appreciating it so much. Knowing that there’s a process of continual adaptation and natural selection is fascinating and magnificent. Understanding how it works does not make it any less wonderful.

focus on / focus off

I have been thinking recently how glad i am that i gave up my beliefs in God. I used to care very much what God thought about me, and i trusted in God’s plan for my life. I depended on God to make everything alright for me. I don’t do that anymore. I make my own life. I became confident to love myself the way that i am. I feel in control of my destiny. Understanding that this is probably the only life i’ll have, i feel an urgency to make it the very best i can.

If i’m outspoken about my atheism, it’s not because i want to convert anyone else. I don’t think i can anyway. Plenty of people tried to convert me but i wasn’t ready for it. I came to it in my own time. I’m outspoken only because losing my belief has had a profoundly positive impact on my life.

People tell me that being an atheist is too much mental effort. That God is irrelevant and not worth even thinking about. I totally understand that because i feel the same apathetic irrelevance for every god except one. There is one particular god that i used to believe in and now i don’t. I think it’s accurate to say that my atheism is somewhat proportional to my former belief.

There was another part of the interview that i really liked. Here are Dan’s parting words:

Dan: I didn’t do anything particularly amazing. I just stood up at the right time and at the right place. I’d like to emphasise that. These armchair atheists or these armchair people who want to make a difference … well … do it! There’s something somewhere. No matter how small it is. If somebody expresses that they are skeptical about this, or they’re skeptical about that, say, “You know what, so am i!” And just that small little effort, just that small little bit is going to be the thing. It’s everybody doing a small little thing that’s going to create this movement, it’s going to create this change in our society.

And i think, getting online, being active … come on. Get off your butt, go do something. You’re in the right place at the right time. It’s just a lot of people just don’t want to do it. They’re too busy. So stop being too busy and make it a priority if it’s a priority for you. If not, you don’t have to, but you can’t bitch and whine and complain about it later.

So that’s why i wanted to write this post tonight. That’s my little bit.

I wear my “Born again atheist” badge and my “Happy humanist” badge and i am confident to say that i don’t believe in gods, or ghosts, or mediums, or psychics, or homeopathy, or acupuncture, or chiropractic, or conspiracy theories, or alien abductions, or any fantastic claims that don’t have equally fantastic evidence.

I think that what we know to be true is far more impressive and we can be more than content with just that.

The quote i used for the title of this blog post comes from Tim Minchin’s “Storm”. Well worth a watch.

Isn’t this enough? Just this world? Just this beautiful, complex wonderfully unfathomable world? How does it so fail to hold our attention that we have to diminish it with the invention of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?
– Tim Minchin


6 comments on “Isn’t this … enough? Just … this?

  1. Great post, aimee! I think many of us are on this journey, and we might take different routes or travel at different speeds, but there’s one thing leading us all in the right direction, and that’s the conviction that truth is the only thing that is sacred. I’ve always thought this way, but I haven’t always understood how to seek the truth. I was never really religious but I did waste a lot of time as a quasi-mystical drifter. I began the most important part of my journey into increased rationality around the end of my twenties, and sixteen years later I’m much wiser, and yet still so ignorant in many ways – there’s so much to learn, and so little time!

    I also feel awe when contemplating the natural world, and recently I’ve found it in more abstract places too; for example quantum physics, which I don’t pretend to know thoroughly, but which makes more sense to me than it used to because I’m reading about it and trying to understand it. The idea that we can keep looking beyond what we know and keep asking questions to find out more is such a powerful one that once I grasped it, I never even considered wanting to return to my former state of so-called ‘blissful’ ignorance.

    P.S. “Storm” is awesome! Seeing Tim perform it live at TAM London a couple of years ago was a fantastic experience.

    • thank you Mike! although i’ve been an atheist for several years, really, it’s only since admitting it to my parents and feeling i no longer need to hide it from anyone, that i’ve felt the real benefits! :)

      i love how you say there is so much still to learn. that’s the beautiful thing about learning, there’s always more!

      quantum physics is indeed amazing. it makes some incredible claims, but it also has the experimental evidence that backs it up, and it makes some very accurate predictions that actually work! :)

    • thank you Nick, lovely to hear from you! i didn’t come up with that, i’ve heard it said many times in various ways. it does describe skepticism very well.

    • thank you Tim!

      “Born again atheist” i found in a book shop in Edinburgh, a kind of indie/queer/alternative shop near Appleton Tower.

      “Happy humanist” and “Good without God” badges can be found here: i got a few for free when i joined :)

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