Saturday, 13 August 2011

Why I don't need G/god/s

I'll freely admit that one of my favourite past-times is arguing with creationists. Don't get me wrong I'm not one of these who actively seeks out those of faith to mock and destroy, but should someone feel the need to opine that "Science doesn't know everything", I do feel an overwhelming urge to point out that according to the scorecard it's kicking the crap out of superstition. This, however, isn't that post. This post is about why I don't need religion or faith.

Pictured: Science
Not Pictured: Prayer

You see there is something of an assumption among the faithful that those of us who have come to the conclusion that there is no-one upstairs live small and miserable existences. Nothing could be further from the truth. I still clearly remember the very moment when I saw the light, or rather the complete lack thereof. I'd spent my childhood being raised as a good little catholic boy, before you ask, No, this isn't going to be one of those stories. I was even an altar boy at one stage, and like many raised in such a way this turned, over time, into a deep and seething hatred of the Catholic Church. You see, not having the part of my brain chemistry that allows spirituality to unlock happiness, and being deeply unhappy at the time I arrived at the fairly logical conclusion that God didn't like me. 

In fairness he's omniscient so he knew I'd post this image.
So maybe I get were he was coming from.

As you can imagine to a ten year old this is a bit of a shock to the system. It also didn't fit in anyway with the loving God I'd been taught about. Logic dictated that the Catholic Church was entirely wrong about this god chap. What followed was about five years of study of many different faiths, stealing bits and pieces of other religions as I found them to try and build a clearer image of God, one that fitted with the world I observed. Eventually, at about the age of fifteen, I discovered that the pagan religion was alive and thriving. This made sense to me many gods related to each other, a working species, a working eco-system and the simple fact that it didn't require me to believe that the gods cared about me. But it did have the option of winning their favour.
Swan-fucking is just one of the available options

Now religion is an inherently social delusion and I was an inherently anti-social teenager, or more accurately my friends were. So over time the lack of positive reinforcement and a belief system that didn't require my involvement on any level but allowed me to quietly enjoy the magic of the world around me, the entire idea slowly started to loosen it's grip. Then one day I was in a field near where I grew up laying in the sun and holding up a leaf. 

A leaf.

Now you're probably thinking, "I know what a leaf looks like, dumbass", well screw you leaves are awesome. They are beautiful outstanding pieces of near flawless evolutionary engineering, They have developed over millions of years. Ferns were  some of the first life forms to evolve  on land and since then the forests of this little green and blue rock have been an arms-race leading to these delicate little power stations. All of this hit me as I was looking at this leaf and I realised that without a designer it was all the more beautiful than I had ever realised before. There were a million and one repercussions to this one simple thought. If there was no-one up there then the world made sense or rather it didn't have to. Every little niggle and doubt through out my life made melted away. Everything that hadn't added-up was OK because adding up wasn't what the universe was for.

Which is why the popularity of lolcats will forever baffle me

Now this post is titled "Why I don't need G/god/s" and so far all I've covered is why I don't have one. So here I'm going to run through what I get out of my scientific outlook that offers get from faith.

An Origin: It is a key truth of humanity that we thirst for knowledge of our past, it's why people research family trees, it's why people seek out absent parents and it's why we, as a species, care about our shared history. Every major faith has it's own origin story, my favourite being the Norse.

Eat that Genesis

Now Science doesn't have every answer, to quote Dara O'Brien "Science doesn't know everything, if it did it'd stop." but one of the amazing things is does know is that since the Big Bang no matter has been created. In fact that's such a core scientific fact that if it weren't true the universe itself couldn't exist. Everyone of the billions and billions of particles in your body is on a journey from the beginning of time to it's end and you are just a stopping point along the way. In fact if you by into certain interpretations of physics you were predetermined from the very instant the universe exploded into life. Seriously look at your right hand, everything you are looking at was born 13.75 billion years ago. The elements these particles make were forged in the death of stars. So if your in love with someone just remember it's taken the particles that make you and them 13.75 billion to find each other again.

That doesn't mean it'll work out though

Morality: Let's leave aside the fact that most of the world's major religions have been responsible for untold evil. I don't believe in anything beyond the every day. Once you remove the concept of eternity, be it an eternity of pleasure or pain. All that you have left is the now, causing someone harm, be it physically, emotionally or spiritually (I use the term spirit to refer to someone's inner core, I will also use 'soul' from time to time as convenient term, no-one has create atheist words for the essence of a person) is the worst thing someone can do because this is all there is. To quote Angel "If nothing that we do matters, then all that matters is what we do"

Moral Philosopher

Immortality: Well this is where Science will let me down isn't it. Well surprisingly, no, it doesn't.  You see when people refer to heaven they don't mean what they think they mean. You see living as a conciousness forever means that you will inevitably exhaust all possibilities, infinite times. Infinity is just another word for boredom. It only makes sense that eventually the only way to experience anything of interest would be to merge with another conciousness. So you're not really living forever so much as extending your influence. Well if at any point in your entire life you've interacted with anything you've already achieved that. Just by existing you've become part of the great spiralling pattern of life. You making a sandwich earlier, by the mechanisms of chaos theory, leads to the greatest novel of all time being written in the year 2246. Everything you have ever said or done has altered the universe enough to render your existence key to every event of the future. Your influence will last as long as the human race does.

The mere existence of David Hasselhoff leads indirectly 
to the 2568 Galactic Peace Treaty... Good work Dave.

Finally as you may have guessed from the images shown if I need fun and interesting morality tales science has provided me with access to tons of them

Eddie <my internet search history looks pretty weird right now>

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