I’ve been an atheist all my life. One of my earliest and fondest memories is proudly proclaiming to a five-year-old peer that I did not believe in God and thought the concept made absolutely no sense.
Theists insist that there is a cause for every effect except for God, who exists in a supernatural eternal realm beyond human experience. Thus it’s postulated that only God can constitute the first cause that initiated the phenomenal universe. But what lies beyond the creation event? In actuality, I would argue, it is an attempt to confront the fundamental question of existence itself. It is the question of existence that needs explaining, not the question of God. In fact, God can be conceptualized as a personification of existence. Existence has all the attributes of God. If we accept the premise that something cannot come from nothing, existence has no beginning or end. Existence is therefore eternal. Existence encompasses all that is, has been or will be. It is thus both omnipresent and omniscient. Since existence produces all phenomena, it is thus omnipotent. All the above qualities of the abstract notion of existence have been rarefied and attributed to God. The only difference between the two concepts is that existence is impersonal and part and parcel of the phenomenal world, while God is personal and placed beyond the phenomenal world in a separate supernatural realm. For a materialist, God as a first cause is therefore totally superfluous. Just as the theist sees God as a cause unto itself, for the atheist so is the universe.
When asked about the meaning of existence I urge the questioner to rather revel in it’s mysteries. We know but a fraction of what there is to know. If we continue to advance our scientific knowledge of the material world, what wonders of nature will we comprehend in a hundred years or a thousand years hence?
Finally, we come to the great fear of death and its aftermath. But the nature of things long ago determined that there is no life without death. We would still be primordial bacteria if not for death. Every life, both human and non-human, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has an impact on its surroundings. Think of yourself as a quantum burst of consciousness lighting up your little corner of the universe in a crescendo of sentience that may eventually engulf the universe. Or perhaps we are but a flicker, a wisp of cognizance that will be blown out never to be realized again, a unique confluence of matter and energy at a particular juncture in space-time. However one views their place in nature make the most of the limited time we have, within our limited abilities, to move our beautifully sublime spinning globe one step closer to the unity and harmony which should be our offspring’s birthright.
It is only by humbling ourselves before the fount of wisdom that nature provides that we can come to grips with both our insignificance and our transcendence.
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