Friday, March 07, 2008

An atheist's creed

Now, since I don't like to only whine about the things I see on the internet, I thought I would post a link to something PZ Meyers put up at Pharyngula today. He wrote this in response to a particularly ugly manifestation of the idea that atheism is synonymous with nihilism and despair, and I thought it was rather beautiful. I don't have the scientific background to give the correct explanations of the world that others can, but still this resonates with me. Something that I've begun to learn to accept as part of coping with chronic illness is this idea that my existence is contingent on a billion coincidences, that my life is not inevitable in any way, that things change whether I want them to or not. This is a scary idea, and I remember being taught as a child that believing it would leave you with nothing worth living for.

The truth is, acknowledging the vastness and complexity of the universe is no more nihilistic than contemplating the night sky. The refusal to believe in a universe that isn't centered around one's particular subsection of a tribe of a species on this little planet is a pathetic agoraphobia of the soul, and it is this state of mind that is to be pitied.

An atheist's creed

I believe in time,
matter, and energy,
which make up the whole of the world.

I believe in reason, evidence and the human mind,
the only tools we have;
they are the product of natural forces
in a majestic but impersonal universe,
grander and richer than we can imagine,
a source of endless opportunities for discovery.

I believe in the power of doubt;
I do not seek out reassurances,
but embrace the question,
and strive to challenge my own beliefs.

I accept human mortality.

We have but one life,
brief and full of struggle,
leavened with love and community,
learning and exploration,
beauty and the creation of
new life, new art, and new ideas.

I rejoice in this life that I have,
and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me,
and an earth that will abide without me.

No comments: