Saturday, 19 January 2008

A world without wonder

"For me, it is better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
-- Carl Sagan

I've always been someone who wanted the truth. Something my friends learn early on is that if there's something bad going on, I want to know about it - don't lie to me to save my feelings or anything like that. I'd rather be miserable knowing the truth than blissfully ignorant. This is probably why I'm a sceptic and an agnostic rather than a believer in any non-evidence-based world view. Many of those who do choose a religious basis for their life (or have one thrust upon them, for that matter) see non-theism as an empty way of life, devoid of spirituality and any sense of wonder.

Now watch this:

All we need to do for a sense of wonder is look at the world and the universe around us - how can you fail to be amazed at the astounding things you can find there? Ask any atheist if their life is empty and meaningless because of their "lack of faith", and they'll tell you it most certainly is not. A great example is Phil Plait, an astronomer and writer who maintains a blog which is simply bursting with enthusiasm and wonder every time a new image is brought back from Mercury or some galaxies out in the Black are doing something wacky.

And you don't even need to look that far for wonders - right here on our Pale Blue Dot, we've got wonders aplenty. See if you can spot the octopus in this here picture:

Not quite sure? Watch this video. This octopus features at the end of the presentation, which is well worth watching. [hat-tip]

As for the claim that atheists lack any sort of spiritualism, I direct your attention to SpiritualAtheism.org, though to be fair it defines "spiritual atheism" in a different way to that which I would use. It seems to be describing more of a pantheism, a way of seeing "God" as a personification of the universe. A more helpful place to look for a definition of "spiritual atheism" as I understand it (a humanist or naturalist outlook) is this article from American Chronicle:

"...most theists are under the impression that atheism is an immoral doctrine that robs life of its meaning and purpose. Hopefully, someone will take up the challenge and eloquently refute this belief. In the meantime, it is my fervent hope that our children’s children inherent a world free from superstition, fear, guilt, arrogance and sin, and that we all learn to embrace a new, spiritual atheism that espouses love and tolerance toward each other, and awe and humility in the face of an endlessly wondrous, but godless, universe."

No comments: