I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I recently attended a meeting of a group formed to discuss the book “Thank God for Evolution” by Michael Dowd. I haven’t read the book and I’m an atheist, so go figure. Anyway, I was there and I was not shy about stating my position with regards to a creator and the meaning of life.
Little aside here. I am essentially a very private person and I do not like to talk about myself, although i do talk at length about what I do. I have been an unwavering atheist since I was 13 years old, but for the most part I kept that to myself. 31 years in the US has exposed me to a helluva lot of in-your-face religiosity, and I have begun to fight back. I now feel confident enough to say to the vast majority of believers, go to hell; leave me alone; respect my lack of belief as much as you respect the mostly idiotic beliefs of your fellow believers. Anyone seen the Book of Mormon?
Back to God and Evolution. Not surprisingly, my views did not go down very well. Especially when I said that it is a waste of time to be searching for the meaning of life – there is none. Absent a Creator, life is just an accident.
This led one of those present, a lovely woman who I would never say anything against, to ask me with tears in her eyes: “But how do you not despair; how do you get up in the morning?”
I’ll tell you how. I am here. I am alive. I have a place in the world. And what I do can to change that place for the better. What I do can change the place for others as well. We do not need God to tell us that is is just wrong to exploit other people or other species, or natural resources, for personal gain. We do not need God to tell us that it is right to strive for a world that is good for everyone and everything.
But, I do despair. I despair when the majority of the United States Congress thinks that the “rights” of corporate shareholders are more important than the needs of everything else. I despair when religious beliefs (however crazy) can trump the law of the land, or the common laws of respect for our world . I despair when politicians totally disregard inconvenient truths. I despair when television and radio stations pander to corporate sponsors (I’m talking to you NPR).
But I rejoice when 400,000 people gather in New York for a day of free speech. I rejoice when 43 people (and counting) allow themselves to be arrested to say that they (we) do not want a massive gas storage facility in the middle of the pristine beauty of the Finger Lakes. I rejoice when a voluble 11-year-old boy with an unpronounceable name stops talking to increase awareness of the dangers of climate change.
Where do you stand? What do you plan to do?