Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The hopelessness of atheism

This is an incredible video, don't you think? One of the best yet.

This is the beauty of science. And it's a conclusive rebuttal to the bizarre claim that life would be worthless without some magic man in the sky, promising that you'll live forever.

Life is short. We're all going to die, and all too soon, too. But that just makes what we've got now all the more precious. Furthermore, for all the problems in the world, we can be proud of what we've accomplished, just one species of ape, on our own, with no guidance whatsoever.

I'm no scientist, but I'm proud of the steady accumulation of knowledge from my fellow human beings. And I'm proud of our ethical advances, too. Nearly all of us have risen above the ancient tribal-based morality of the Christian Bible - and other religious dogma, as well. For the most part, we've done that despite religion, rather than because of it.

Proud to be human? Well, not always, I guess. But considering our origins, considering the fact that we've had to figure all this out for ourselves, we do have plenty to feel proud about. It's been a struggle, and we've certainly got a long way to go, but let's recognize how far we've come already. Despair is a dangerous enemy of progress.

We do stand on the shoulders of giants. You know more than Aristotle every could. You know more than Galileo. You know more than Isaac Newton. And we know so much because they, and countless others like them, patiently added to our store of knowledge, bit by bit - sometimes at the risk of their own lives.

There's a glory in science, a glory that this video clip shows quite well. It's not just history. We're connected to past scientists not just because of the knowledge we've inherited from them, but also through the recognition that it's our turn to build on that knowledge, and to pass along what we learn to those who come after us.

It's our responsibility to recognize their accomplishments, and to pass along that recognition, but also to build on them. Past, present, and future, we're all connected. If you want a purpose to human life, you have to make your own. And to my mind, this one will do just fine.

It takes a very small person to see "no hope for the future" without a magic father figure watching over us. Yes, you're going to die. Everyone you love is going to die. That's a shame, it really is. But get over it. Stand up straight and accept reality. Life is not worthless just because it's ephemeral. And it's cowardly to think otherwise.

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