Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why Are You Atheists So Angry - Why You Should Buy Greta's Book

As I have mentioned before, I'm pretty new to the Atheist community.  When I took the final step and said, out loud "There is no god.", I felt as if I had been thrown into a vast sea of information and old arguments, most of which are quite heated. I felt like a polar bear in the summer trying to find the next chunk of ice to rest on.  It was overwhelming.  It was confusing at times.  It felt like I was the last to know all of this stuff that Atheists had been talking about for more than a century.  In spite of all that, it felt like freedom.  It felt like liberation.  It felt like I had woken up for the first time in my life.  It felt...good.

As I started to get my baring in this new ocean of Atheist thinking, I found that I hadn't really been left behind.  The nature of the debates between Christians and Atheists (I'm an American so, yes, I'm picking on Christians because that's the majority here), unfortunately, hasn't changed a whole lot during the last century.  I quickly found they are, in essence, the same arguments over and over...and over again.  Atheists don't accept the Bible as evidence because it has been proven wrong on numerous occasions and the Christians call it evidence because they believe it's the "unchanging word of God".

I stepped into the internet debates, mostly on YouTube, and lost my steam very quickly because it is so tiring to say the same things over and over.  I'd gotten very tired of trying to explain things in reality to non-believers of reality who would, seemingly without fail, ignore the evidence available to them and, instead, turn to their version of reality, which has a single answer for everything: "God did it."

I had made up my mind to set my focus elsewhere and try to make a difference by just "spreading the word" as it were.  I even said out loud "I'm not doing this anymore."  It can be so intellectually taxing to try and teach others what they've been misinformed about and where it is they misunderstand.  I was tired of being called "evil" and "ignorant". The "ignorant" comment is so hypocritical coming from a Creationist, but I digress.  I "met" Greta Christina through her Skepticon YouTube video on the subject of angry Atheists and found her talk beautiful.  I decided, instead of "wasting my time" debating, to read Greta's book "Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless" thinking it was just going to be about the things that pissed her off.  I expected it to be a short read, but I was in for a big surprise.

Not only did Greta convince me to continue to "debate" with those internet folks, she brought some things to my attention that I hadn't thought about.  There is a string of chapters in her book such as "Yes, This Means You: 'Spiritual But Not Religious'" and "Yes, This Means You: 'New Age Religion'", most of which I found very enlightening.  As I read, I'd think of a question and, indubitably, it was answered within a few paragraphs, if not sooner.  I found it to be a fantastic book, suitable for any non-believers arsenal as well as a sensible plea for believers to reconsider.  She took great care to criticize ideas and not the people who have them and was obviously trying to appeal to the believers more than anything by writing this book, not to "deconvert" them, but rather to offer believers, as well as those "on the fence", an explanation for the abundance of anger seen in the Atheist community.  She explains her ideas as if the reader is a child without forcing them into the denigrating feeling usually associated with being spoken to as if you were a child.  She makes it very simple and, by proxy, helped me understand some of those things a bit better.  She recharged my Atheist batteries.  She validated the anger I that I felt bad for feeling.  She helped me evolve as an Atheist and as a thinker.

She starts off with her list of 99 things, most of which had been posted in a blog and on the video years ago.  I won't go into that except to say that there are several new ideas in this chapter that don't appear in the blog video from her encyclopedia of things that piss her off about religion.

The second chapter, I think, was a great one.  Being that she's been blogging and speaking about Atheism for years, she took the time to address the many comments she's received since the "anger blog" was published at the end of 2007.  Some of the comments include those insisting that Atheists should stop being angry, that Atheism is a religion that requires faith, and that Atheists anger is too general and shouldn't apply to their brand of belief.  She replies to them in her book with her usual, occasional sarcastic humor and truth.

After explaining why Atheist, particularly her, anger is really the fault of religion, she continues into the four well-thought-out "Yes, This Means You" chapters, which are wonderfully enlightening, as I said before.  Beyond that, she offers the "Top Ten" reasons why she's a non-believer.  This chapter, in part, helps to clear up some of the misconceptions about why she, and others, choose to be non-believers.  She offers the apparent correlation between what one believes compared to what family or geographical location they grew  up in as well as the ever-diminishing space left for a god to exist as a couple of her reasons for non-belief.  Subsequent chapters decry the usefulness of religion, validate Atheist activism, and examine the close ties between anger and compassion.

After getting people all riled up, her final chapter, "What Now?", offers myriad options on what to do with all that angry energy.  Activism comes in many forms, not just from those who speak out.  She offers several different brands of activism that nearly anyone could comfortably choose from.

My absolute favorite thing about this book is something that can only be offered with the e-version of her book and it's not a space-saving, green reason.  Every chapter is peppered with citation links.  I could spend several months, I'm convinced, just going through all of the links she's offered throughout the text and reading her citations.  I'm not one to get excited about a "bibliography", but this is absolute awesomeness.  Not only does it offer extra information, but she has given herself credibility, in my eyes, by taking the time to put all those links in.  I don't know about you, but I rarely check out citations in books like this.  Maybe it's because it's not in your face and is it's own "chapter" way at the end.  Perhaps it's the fact that I'm so used to the "blogosphere" and being able to click on the links contained within the text.  For whatever reason, these are citations I plan on checking into.

My final thought:  Buying Greta's book is the best eight bucks I ever spent in my life and I would still say the same thing if it costed more.  This book is a wonderful read for believers and non-believers alike.  I HIGHLY suggest that you get a copy for yourself and share it with others.  This book is a must-read!

"The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force."
~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.~

"I have learned, through bitter experience, the one supreme lesson: To conserve my anger.  And as heat conserved is transmitted into energy,  even so our anger, controlled, can be transformed into a power that can move the world."
~Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi~

"Atheists are not angry because there's something wrong with us.  Atheists are angry because there's something right with us."
~Greta Christina~

Thursday, April 26, 2012

One More Reason To Support Girl Scouts

  I have read, several times, about the discriminatory practices of the Boy Scouts of America.  Their rules require that you not be gay and that you believe in a god.  I don't believe they specify which god you must believe in, but you have to pick one.  They don't want girls, gays, or godless members.  They legally gained their right to discriminate in 2000 when long-time Boy Scout James Dale had his position as Assistant Scoutmaster and his registration revoked on the basis of his homosexuality.  He took the case to court and, based on their private, non-profit status, the BSA was allowed to claim "freedom of association" as their basis for discriminating legally.

  After reading George Takei's blog post today, I read through some of the comments.  One person claimed that the Girl Scouts discriminate also, which is totally and completely untrue.  She cited a transgender boy who was refused admittance.  When I looked it up, there was a very recent (January 2012) article about a transgender boy named Bobby Montoya who had recently joined the Girl Scouts.  He was, at first, denied acceptance by his local troops, however the Girl Scout organization intervened and, as a result, several troop leaders disbanded their troops and resigned in protest of allowing Bobby to be included.  A group called apparently had a problem with this inclusion and made a YouTube video calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies. You can see clips of this video here, but the original was "removed by the user".  The Girl Scouts obviously do NOT describe themselves as an "all-girl experience".  If that were the case, then...there wouldn't be a case.  Watch this awesome video of support from some New Jersey Girl Scouts.

  I just wanted to make sure that everyone understands that the Girl Scouts are a truly all-inclusive organization.   They obviously support girls, even if they were born as boys.  Check out and see for yourself how all-inclusive they are.  It's a website run by a male Girl Scout leader.  I'm very proud to say that I was a Girl Scout for about 15 years and loved every minute.  This story gives me just one more reason to be PROUD to be a Girl Scout!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Spiritual Atheist

  In my short time as an Atheist - less than a year now - I've heard lots of people talking about spirituality and how Atheists have none. This isn't just coming from believers either. Atheists, on several occasions, have contested it. I wasn't sure why, really. I consider myself a spiritual Atheist. I'll explain why later, but let's look at the word "spirit" and how it's used so that I can better define what I'm talking about here.

  The word "spirit" comes from the Latin word spiritus, which means, simply "breath". It was also equated with "courage" and "vigor" as well as "soul". From what I can gather, it is a consensus among religions that "soul" and "spirit" are not the same. "Soul", from a religious standpoint, refers to an eternal part of a person's being that, in some cases, exists before you were born and, in almost every case, will continue to exist after your physical body dies. A religious definition of "spirit", as I understand it, is sort of the "middle-man" between a person's soul and the creator they believe in, but there are many more, regularly used definitions.

  Ghost hunters, I think, would say "spirit" and "soul" are the same. They refer to spirits haunting a house, for example, and that those spirits can't "move on" until some unresolved issue is put to rest. In their world, spirit and soul seem to be synonymous. They seem to believe that sometimes, particularly when there is some injustice in the events of someone's death, the eternal part of a person's being gets caught between worlds, as it were.

  Cheerleader spout the phrase "We've got spirit! Yes, we do! We've got spirit! How 'bout you?" Are they expecting to see ghosts? No. Are they asking everyone to pray? Nope, not that either. They want you to be excited and feel like part of the team. They want you to cheer and holler for their team to win.

  Would you like a glass of spirits? No, I'm not offering you a glass of ghosts, nor am I offering a glass of Jesus blood. This refers to distilled beverages with 20% or more alcohol. Spirit, in this sense, comes from alchemists back in the day who were interested in making medical elixirs. They referred to the vapors given off in the distillation process as the "spirit" of the ingredients used to make it. This is the "breath" definition, I think.

  We also refer to things like "soul food", which doesn't mean it's food made from ghosts or souls. It doesn't really refer to anything like that. Soul food is food that might not be so good for us, but it gives us the "home-cooked" good feeling that reminds us of having a good meal with the people we love.

  Finally, we have phrases that start with "In the spirit of...". When we say that, we don't think that some dead person is standing next to us, cheering us on for doing things the way they did in life. No. It simply means, in most cases, to emulate or otherwise connect with the things that person did in life. We can also connect with ideas in that same way, for example, when we do things "in the spirit of the season".

  It seems to me there is a common theme among all these definitions. They have to do with how we feel about things. Even the use of "spirit" when referring to alcohol seems apt, as it makes us feel different when we drink "spirits". It has to do with connections between not just people, but ideas and ideals. There seem to be a lot more alternative definitions that indicate that it's not really a "religious" word. I think that's what scares some Atheists about spirituality. They feel it's a step backward.

  I've said, in other blogs, that I feel such a great sense of awe when I contemplate the Universe, in general. There are so many things that I think about that bring tears to my eyes on a regular basis. When I listen to Dawkins talk about the "magic of reality" or when Sagan or Tyson talk about the "star stuff" that we're made of, I get that feeling I used to get when I went to church. I want to throw my hands up and weep at the awesomeness of the reality that we live in.

  That's my idea of spirituality. It has to do with feeling connected, as we have proven to be true in many aspects of our existence. If stars hadn't exploded, we wouldn't be here. If the chemistry of Earth had been slightly different or if the Earth had a slightly different orbit, we might not be here. To know that we're but a tiny speck in the vastness of the Universe is humbling, but also, as Tyson puts it, "I actually feel quite large at the end of that. ...We are in the Universe and the Universe is in us". How can someone contemplate Tyson's statement about us all being connected in the "holy trinity" of the Universe and not feel emotional about it? "We're all connected to each other, biologically, to the Earth, chemically and to the rest of the Universe, atomically." To know that we're not made up of common matter, as most of the matter in the Universe is dark matter, from which we were not evolved, makes me feel pretty damn special. We live in a set of uncommon circumstances, as far as we know. We have yet to find life anywhere else. I think it exists somewhere else, but it is obviously uncommon for life to appear in the Universe.

  Let me qualify a bit here. I am in no way suggesting that the Universe has a soul or has feelings of any kind. I don't think there are ANY supernatural forces at work here. I don't feel like I'm "communicating with the Earth" when I have these feelings. I'm not saying that I can hear the thoughts of the animals when I'm contemplating these things. I know, so far, I probably totally sound like a "tree-hugger", but that's not the kind of idea I'm trying to relay here...or maybe it is.

  It's the idea of connectedness that makes me feel good. Connecting is a basic human need. Without it, a baby could turn out to be like Beth Thomas, a.k.a. the Child of Rage, for example. People who don't connect or associate with others, tend to have severe problems dealing with the real world and often perform actions that are detrimental to other people and/or society. Beth Thomas, because she lacked the connection with people in her very early life, was unable to feel emotions. It took years of therapy for her to actually feel negatively for hurting other living things. She wasn't only hurting other people, but also hurting animals. This is proof, I think, that our emotional side doesn't come from a god. If it did, I don't think little Beth would have had such a difficult time because she would have been born with them. It comes from those connections with other people. We learn what emotions are and we learn that other people have them too. We learn what feels good or bad and our empathy makes us want to share the good and avoid the bad when we interact with others.

  But why do those connection need only be personal connections? Why would someone think that if you're not religious, you're not spiritual? Why are people afraid to feel connections with non-living things? We're made of the same elements you find in the Earth. We can contemplate ideas and get the same feelings of connection that we would get if we were believers praising a god whom we thought put the whole thing together. We could be thankful that stars exploded to put the right chemicals into the Universe. We can be excited by the fact that simple chemistry is what made all life on Earth and that evolution and natural selection took over to make us who we are today. Probable or not, that's an amazing notion that brings me great joy.

  Our existence is the result of a series of amazing events. It's hard for me to contemplate these events and not feel moved by each and every one of them. Maybe I'm completely wrong. I don't fully understand my emotional "explosions" when I think about these things. It is my hope that someday we will.

  One final note: Thank you, Dr. Tyson, for your 57 second speech that has made me see things in a whole new way. You are directly responsible for me writing this as well as helping me understand the feelings that I have about meaning and connection since I became an Atheist. Your passion makes me smile and I only hope that more people will take your words into consideration when contemplating their own places in the Universe.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tombstone Da Deadman - Rise of the Infidel

 I'm a 35-year-old, white girl who grew up in the suburbs.  Before you think I'm not qualified to review a rap album, let me tell you something else.  I fell in love with rap when I first heard...wait for it...Grand Master Flash!  Back in the first days of MTV and there were only about 100 music videos (not really, but you know what I'm getting at here).

  The first thing that hit me when I first heard rap music was the beats, naturally.  I. Love. Bass.  Back then there wasn't as much bass to be had as there is now.  I've been listening to rap evolve for decades and I've loved all the new beats that have come out through the years.  Experiments with sounds has led to some fantastic music in the rap genre.  Now let's talk about lyrics.

  Lyrics in rap are a completely different animal.  Back in the early days, there was "nasty rap", but a bulk of it contained lyrics about the artist's skills as a rapper.  Rap artists would say in their songs that they were the best rapper and demonstrate their skills.  Then another artist would do the same thing and try to top the first artist.  The evolution of "common" rap lyrics has been quite disappointing to me.  Most of the rap I listened to after the 80s had the beats I wanted, but didn't have the same kind of lyrics.  They were still talking about who was better, but it didn't have anything with skills as a rapper anymore.  The lyrics were talking about how many girls they have and how much sex they get while they're touring.  Then they talked about how much money they were making and how many cars and houses they had.   I started turning to artists like DJ Bassboy because I got the beats and bass I wanted and didn't have to worry about lyrics at all.  These days it's all about who went to jail the most times and how many guns they have and how many times they've used them.  Most rappers out there today are making, as Deadman puts it, "cookie-cutta ass gangsta shit".  It's despicable!

  Is this a generalization?  Absolutely!  I'm speaking about the bulk of rap music out there has evolved this way.  I totally recognize the artists like the Fresh Prince, for example.  He's stuck to his guns and managed to be one of the most successful rappers in the business without compromising his moral responsibility as a popular artist.  I have nothing but respect for rappers of his ilk.  That's not the "mainstream" of rap these days, however.  That being said...

  Tombstone Da Deadman a.k.a. Rational Warrior (second name is totally apt btw) has produced the most cerebral album I've heard from just about any artist in any genre.  There are albums that have songs with important messages, but only a song or two most times.  Rise of the Infidel has an important message in every song.

  The first person I thought of when I heard this album for the first time was Busta Rhymes.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Deadman is probably a fan, as am I.  His voice sounds like Busta, but his style is also similar with its polysyllabic beats.  That alone shows a skill that I admire in a rap artist.  Busta is one of my favorite artists for that exact reason, so Deadman kinda "had me at hello" in that aspect.

  He takes that style and puts his own spin on it with some wonderfully intelligent lyrics that encompass all those things that non-believers have been fighting against for decades.  He addresses non-believer morality, the weaving of religion into our politics and schools, manufactured persecution of religion , superstition in general and a lot more.  He also incorporates clips from the likes of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens as well as clips from movies and shows with excellent form.  He even invoked the imprisonment of Galileo FTW!

  The overall feeling of the album, to me, was angry, but in a constructive way.  It's clear that he's tired of all the same old bullshit we all, as non-believers, deal with - dead horses that the uninformed (willingly or otherwise) people keep beating on, hoping they'll get up again.  He didn't make this album for money.  He didn't make it to be liked.  It seems to me that he made this album to give all non-believers a voice.  He made it to tell the believers what they can do with their childish stories and bigoted legislation and to tell them to provide evidence or shut up and go away.  He made it to light a fire under your ass to join the cause because this problem of a possible theocratic America will not only NOT go away, but will get worse if we don't do something.  He made this album to get some things off his chest in a creative way.  He made it to encourage others not only to step out of the closet, but to speak out against these irrationalities that the ultra-religious want us to take as fact.  He made this album for the same purpose that the Reason Rally was organized, I think, and it's fantastic!

  The first song, called Tribute, is a shout-out to our beloved Hitch.  Just some jazzy background music with a couple of carefully selected Hitchens clips.  This song made me smile.  Props, Deadman, for this very simple, but beautiful tribute.

  Wandering God Rant is a wonderful track!  It's almost like a blog set to music. Dare I call it a "blong"?  He offers his thoughts on how god seemed to keep changing residences as we learned more about the universe, and still does.  I gotta say, it's one of my favorite tracks on the album.

  My absolute favorite song, Silence Us, uses a clip spoken by Captain Picard from the Star Trek: Next Generation episode Who Watches the Watchers.  Picard refuses to help plunge an entire civilization "back into the Dark Ages" by posing as the Overseer, the god of the Mintakans.  This is the "speak out" song of the album.  It features Greydon Square, another of my favorite atheist artists.  This is where Deadman supposes that Theocrats are trying to do the same thing to modern day non-believers that the church successfully did to Galileo.  I would call this a "warrior chant".  It's the kind of song that draws people together.  It's the kind that makes you want to throw your fist in the air and run into battle.  I love it!

  Whether you're a fan of rap or not, this is an album I recommend everyone listen to at least once and share with others.  This is the kind of music that should be mainstream.  It's intelligent, creative, it's got a good beat, and you can dance to it.  Thanks, Rational Warrior!

Friday, March 23, 2012

  Okay, so I'm totally bummed that I can't go to the Reason Rally and I figured that lots of other people are too so I decided to add a Reason Rally 2012 page to my website.  I'm going to grab every bit of media I can find about tomorrow's rally and post it to that page.  Hope you come check it out!

I created a petition to add to the voices of the Reason Rally.  You can add your name here.

Noodles be with you!  R'Amen!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Female Atheism

  Before I start here, let me say that I know this sounds a bit insensitive to the LGBTQ community, but it is not intended as such.  I am in no way attempting to diminish the contributions to our species by homosexuals in our branch of the Tree of Life, but for simplicity's sake, I'm sticking with the very basic, primitive idea of a family unit here.  Please forgive me if it offends...

  It is statistically proven that there are far fewer female atheists than male. After reading about that, I also came across a statistic regarding prayer, which says that the women polled prayed more often than the men polled.  There's a very simple explanation for this and thank you, Dusty, for your post about Atheism needing more women because you got me thinking about it and about how true your conclusion really is.  I think you're 100% right.  Humans are still evolving, though the changes are very subtle these days.  Women have begun to turn away from using their prefrontal cortices to chose mates and, in some cases, have started looking for an intellectual connection, or, to put it more plainly, the smart guys.  Times have changed and the primitive needs of a male's family don't really exist anymore.  They don't need to hunt, nor do they need to be the protectors of the family anymore.  We have grocery stores and houses with locks and alarm see where I'm going with this.  It's the innovative guys we're looking for now.  The guys we need are the ones who can fix a problem or help solve a puzzle (not a literal one, of course, but maybe those too). There's something more, however, and it goes much deeper than guys trolling girls and scaring them off.

  I've blogged before about empathy and morality and how it is encoded into us.  Now let's take that just a bit farther.  Let's pretend for a moment.  Let's imagine a family of early hominids: There's an adult male and an adult female and they have a baby.  Now we're pretty sure that these families lived in groups, but let's just use one family in this scenario.  The male, being the larger and stronger of the two, would be the one to protect the family and bring home the bacon, literally.  The female is responsible for making sure the offspring have what they need to grow and thrive in order to eventually pass on the genes to the next generation, which is the ultimate goal for all living things.

  Because of those divided roles being passed on in our genes, it only makes sense, to me, that there be a discrepancy in the male to female ratio in Atheism.  Ours is a brand of survival that has worked incredibly well for a large portion of species for a long time.  As Sir David Attenborough put it, in essence: a species encountering no change sees no cause for change.  That brand of survival has led to more emotional females and more dominant males. Before I get bashed for that, I don't think that men are more primitive, they just evolved slightly differently for the good of the species.

  When a female reacts (I'm talking about primitive reactions here) to an offspring that expresses a need for something, they react, first, by getting a worried kind of feeling, just plain empathy perhaps, that doesn't go away until the problem is fixed.  A female's secondary reaction would be defensive if the need exists to be so.  Males, again, in a primitive sense, react first by getting agitated, ready to defend his family and the secondary reaction is an empathetic one if no danger is present to defend against.

Women have an encoded need to be emotional and Atheism, having a marketing campaign of being "logical and reasonable" doesn't, in the mind of a LOT of people, leave any room for a spiritual side.  That's one of the main arguments I've been battling lately.  smh  I have, thankfully, been able to find an incredibly spiritual side in Atheism and, no, it doesn't have anything to do with me having a soul.  That's something I'll address in a little more detail later on.  Since there is that mindset, however stereotypical it may be, it makes it difficult for women to get behind Atheism in some aspects.  If that deep, emotional feeling I used to get when I went to sing with the congregation at church, for example, doesn't exist in Atheism, then that's one mark against it without even taking into account any doubts concerning "conversion" that may exist already.  When I went to church, I got that feeling of connectedness, that warm feeling in my chest, the tears streaming down my face and the feeling of amazement.  I am in no way saying that men don't get that feeling, nor am I saying they don't need it, however, it's a more deep seeded need for women, in my opinion.  If more women are to come to an atheist viewpoint, we'll have to work with that, I think.

  Men, having the strong defense reaction, automatically get "pumped up" by an attack, be it a physical attack or an intellectual one.  I've watched enough male Atheists vlogs and blogs to know that's true.  I think that maybe Atheism, being dominated by males, has gotten the "angry" label because of this.  Again, but on the opposite side, I'm not saying women don't get angry for the cause of Atheism.  One listen to Madalyn Murray O'Hair or Greta Christina will affirm that women are very capable of expressing their anger. Again, the ratio of men to women is what makes it seem like an unfeeling way of thinking. Yes, I know how oxymoronic that sounds, but it's true, I think.

  As to the things I get emotional about, you can read my "Poetry of Reality" blog here for a longer list.  Since it's not the intended purpose of this blog, I'll just share one of my favorites.  I said it once before and I'll say it again: Neil DeGrasse Tyson says it best with this quote:

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

  Right behind that is the amazing, lottery-winner feeling I get when I think about the fact that, in evolutionary terms, we are the 1%.  About 99% of the species that ever lived are now extinct, but we were lucky enough to be part of a branch of the family tree that flourished.  I find that pretty fucking amazing.

Thanks for joining me!  Noodles be with you!  R'Amen!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Poetry of Reality

    In On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin said: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."  That, to me, is such an apt view of what reality is. Lots of people feel it is a way of thinking that is illogical. All of these events just happened to occur that lead to the creation of everything and it's ridiculous to think that it would be possible for all of the mistakes needed to create life in the scientific model of the universe could actually occur.  It is much more rational, in their opinion, to maintain traditional beliefs consistent with their geographic location.  It's comfortable, which makes it right in some way.

    There are lots of unlikely circumstances that have to occur in the scientific model in order to create and sustain life, however, given what we know about probabilities, it was bound to happen.   No matter how small of a chance there might be for something to occur, given enough time, it WILL happen.   It seems that religious people, set on disproving evolution and the Big Bang, look at science the same way they look at their own religion and beliefs.  They pick and choose what suits them and don't think about anything beyond what they believe proves their point(s). The Miller–Urey experiment in 1952, the first, and probably most simple, proved, within a week, that creating organic material  the way it was thought to have occurred in the scientific model, was indeed possible, yet being able to create living material from pretty much nothing obviously wasn't good enough.  They created slime, but even 100 years after Darwin's proposal, people didn't feel they had enough proof to agree with evolution, nor did they bother to imagine the connection between the two, so they continued to believe in something else there's no proof of instead.  Something like 99% of all species that ever existed have become extinct.  That's "God's" perfection at work?  I think not.  I see it as evidence against a supreme being as well as making me feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the evolutionary 1%.

    Richard Dawkins said:  "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”  The fact that we know, understand, and have the ability to manipulate so many things in our universe is one of the amazing things science has to offer.  Taking the Bible's word for it just doesn't make any sense to me anymore and I find more excitement and awe for things in the universe than I ever did with the mythology of any religion.  The fact that our brains have evolved enough not only to use the scientific method to discover new things, but also that we create better tools everyday to improve our powers of observation is amazing to me.  We have an incredible ability to solve problems as well as an unquenchable desire to do so.  What's even more amazing to me is that the scientific process was invented and used millions of years ago.  Our ancestors made observations, tested their theories about those observations and put them into practice.  When they were wrong, they modified their findings.  The fact that we're here and evolved so far, so fast is proof of that, I think.  

    I recently had a "scientific" experience, if you will. There are some videos made by MelodySheep (I'm sure you've heard of the Symphony of Science series on YouTube) that I thoroughly enjoy. The feeling I get when I watch them in conjunction with contemplation of our blip of an existence is exactly the same feeling I used to get in church contemplating god and singing with the congregation. I had the tears and the feeling of awe and, without anyone else being there, a feeling of deep connection that I never felt as a christian.  Without realizing it, I was conducting my own experiment.  I proved, to myself at least, that it is a reaction in the brain and a release of chemicals in the body that give us that feeling of "the Holy Spirit" and music, I suspect, is the catalyst.

    You can find the same thing at a concert, for example.  Look at Woodstock in '69.  That would be a prime example of music creating solidarity among the participants.  Music, another of the things I feel amazement toward, has awesome power with humans because it is another base need for us.  Music evolved, many theorize, as the earth became more and more populated and establishing a territory became more and more important.  In order to avoid unnecessary confrontation, it became important to advertise where a particular animal had declared its home.  Territorial sounds evolved into shows of strength, health and solidarity long before the first ape stood upright on a regular basis.  Siamang gibbons are a great example of that fact.  They have a rhythm, parts for specific members of their family group, solos; basically a stripped down version of human music, and strong evidence supporting the early evolution of music definitely exists.  I think it's amazing that music is so deeply rooted in our genes and that it has had, and continues to have a great effect on us in many ways everyday, sometimes without us even knowing it.  Reacting to music is, indeed, one of our animal instincts.

   Science seeks to connect us, whereas religion seeks to separate us. Within the Bible, there are so many instances where "God" points out all the ways that we're different and how to react to those differences, most often, in a violent way. Religion, in any form, creates and defines its bubble, and anyone outside the bubble who is not interested in seeing things their way and being brought into the bubble are seen as unclean or sinners or infidels and unworthy of the goodness of their god.  I find wonder in the fact that no matter where you look, science is trying to make connections with all things in our universe.  Unified theory, the fact that all human ancestors came from Africa, and the Tree of Life are just a few of the major focuses of science these days.  No religion will ever seek to connect humankind or, indeed, all life on Earth in this way.  It's amazing to me that all these religions claim to be loving and accepting and peaceful, yet it is science, and not religion, that tends to be truly all-inclusive.  Knowing that we are, undoubtedly, all connected, it makes it even more incomprehensible that humans should treat each other in any but the best possible way.  The connection I feel toward my fellow human became so much more pronounced when I finally let go of all of the myths.  

I'll leave you with my favorite and, in my mind, the most poetic quote on the beauty that can be found in the universe without a god:

    “Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”  ~Neil DeGrasse Tyson