As a lifelong atheist I abhor beliefs that are not based on rationality.
John Fowles wrote in Aristos, “I live in hazard and infinity. The cosmos stretches around me, reach on reach of dark space where there is no particular concern or particular mercy.” Some find that picture frightening. Yet I have found grandeur in the rational naturalistic view of life. It has given me no beliefs but it has provided me with rich convictions, understandings that are based on evidence. I see the universe so integrated and complex, so full of realized and unrealized potential, that I am awestruck by its beauty. I am convinced that the world we experience is the only world there is and to learn to understand it is our primary business in the cosmos.
I am convinced that the human intellect is nature’s finest product and the things of the mind like Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Justice and Love come into this world only as we put them there. And although those ideas are never completely realized they are the goals that give direction and meaning to my existence.
I do not believe there is cosmic current guiding us. But we do not drift. The rational mind can perceive the distant good looming larger than the present pleasure and can knowingly alter course. It can steer to a morality based not on fear or reward but based on the knowledge that value resides in the preservation of life in all its forms. I am convinced that a rational morality affirms as right those actions that enhance and enrich life. Knowing that each person I meet faces the same sorrows that have rocked my life I can only summon compassion and sympathetic understanding for my fellow traveler.
The fact that nature makes no special dispensation for humans does not bother me. I would rather have a universe under the rule of natural law than under a changeable governing power that could be persuaded by human supplications. I am pleased to be free of an authority that would command me.
Lastly, I am convinced the good life is not in scattered moments of felt delight nor in the possession of things but in the fullest possible realization of human reason, in feeling the beauty of the whole and seeing in children the flowers of our living. I find the good life entwined within my lover’s arms and in my freedom of thought and choice. I declare that this world is all there is – and it is enough – and it is wonderful.
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