I believe there is wonder in the universe

Tony - Suffolk, Virginia
Entered on February 26, 2010
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I am often asked the question, “If you don’t believe in God, then what DO you believe in?” Implicit in this question is an accusation – if you don’t believe in God then you must not believe in anything of any importance, and on issues of right and wrong, good and evil, you must somehow be ambivalent at best – there must be no place within your heart for wonder. This is a sophism upon which I am obliged to opine.

So, what does the deeply numinous non-believer in me actually believe? I believe that the scientific method is a concept that is largely responsible for making this the greatest time in the history of our species in which to live. Granted, this might change, but for now it is so. As I write these words I am less likely to die from an act of violence than at any time in human history. As a man who will turn 44 next week I have every reason to believe I have as much life in front of me as behind me, having already outlived the vast majority of all who have ever been born. Further, I can expect the quality of the life I have remaining to be of a nature that it will actually be worth living. I believe that through my own efforts I can affect the degree to which my children, the closest thing to immortality I shall ever achieve, are likely to have a life that is actually better than my own.

Lest one assume I am missing the wonder that comes with their kind of belief, I see in our natural universe things more wondrous that any I have yet read in mythology. I believe that light can exist as both a wave and a particle, and at two different places, at the same time. I believe that no matter how solid my desk might seem, it is actually composed mostly of empty space between atoms, those atoms themselves made up mostly of empty space between the nucleus and the electrons. I believe we have sublime explanations of exquisite detail that tell us how our species has descended from a common ancestor over a geologic timescale. I believe that, as hard as it is to comprehend, quantum strangeness gives us testable, verifiable results that are accurate to within the thickness of a human hair over the distance from Los Angeles to New York. And I believe it is very good that we know such things. It is these things that make the seemingly miraculous modern world possible. Most importantly, I believe that we are all that we have to make this goodness available to all and not just us lucky few.