Smart people I know and love frequently pop out with some sort of “I believe in God” statement. If it’s not God, it’s some other gods or goddesses or numinous something-or-other(s), or an unspecified spiritual component to the universe. It’s like people can’t conceive of an existence without the supernatural.
I used to be that way. I have distant memories of that desire to find the entity behind it all, to relate to something far larger and smarter than me. I remember thinking I’d never want to live in a world without magic. I wanted to believe. Needed to. Desperately.
And then… I didn’t.
It just went away. It gradually faded out. I got busy with other things, set the existential angst aside, stopped seeking the Divine so ardently and then not at all. And my need to believe, my certainty that some divine intelligence created this universe, vanished without me noticing. I had to have my attention drawn to the fact I’d become an atheist when I wasn’t looking. And I laughed, and shrugged, and went on with my life.
That need for the divine, for magic and mystery, has more than been fulfilled by reality. Nothing has been as phenomenal, nothing has given me a greater sense of awe, than this universe – and the fact that we tiny, insignificant products of mindless evolution are smart enough to figure it out. Sense of wonder: in hyperdrive. Mind: permanently blown. I can’t even imagine ever wanting, much less needing, religion or what most people mean by spirituality ever again.
“Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing univers, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.” – Carl Sagan
I know that people who tell me there must be something more to the universe feel compelled to believe it, but I can’t feel their compulsion anymore. It’s so distant I can only empathize on an intellectual level, relating to this as a fact, but part of me is continually astonished by that need. It doesn’t matter that I felt it once. It’s like thinking store-bought strawberries are delicious, and then tasting a luscious, sun-warmed, vine-ripened, hand-grown and carefully selected strawberry straight out of the garden: those store-bought strawberries will never taste so good again. Then someone tells me how much they long for good strawberries, looking on their smart phone to see if there’s a grocery store anywhere in the area, while we’re standing in a field full of the best strawberries ever grown. And they admit these are pretty good strawberries, but one of the stores must have better ones. I’m just boggled.
Wherever modern Science has exploded a superstitious fable or even a picturesque error, she has replaced it with a grander and even more poetical truth. – George Perkins Marsh.
All of these concepts of the divine are so impoverished compared to reality. The gods are cheap trinkets, glass bead goddesses and tinfoil creators. When you approach myth and legend as stories people tell, they can sometimes be fun and inspiring and thought-provoking, even life-changing – but to claim them as capital-T truth destroys their value. This universe is so much more immense than any god could be. It doesn’t need magic, or a spirit force, or anything other than its blind, unthinking self to be magnificent. And those who think natural processes are worth less than a so-called intelligent designer haven’t given any thought to how much more awesome it is to realize that plain ol’ physical processes did all of this on their own. Every jaw-dropping thing you see needed no help from a deity. That, my friends, is the true magic.
Some believers accuse skeptics of having nothing left but a dull, cold, scientific world. I am left only with art, music, literature, theater, the magnificence of nature, mathematics, the human spirit, sex, the cosmos, friendship, history, science, imagination, dreams, oceans, mountains, love, and the wonder of birth. That’ll do for me. – Lynne Kelly
And once I realized that, the need for deities or any divinity vanished. Gone. Finished. Surplus to requirements and dumped like the dead weight it was. Contrary to previous concerns, the universe didn’t shrink when that happened. It expanded. It increases exponentially virtually every day.
I went from Why, God, why? to Why God? Why would we need such a thing? What good does it do? Why bother, when the universe doesn’t need it and we’re better off without it?
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
-The Epicurean Paradox
Your turn, my darlings. If you feel so inclined, share your stories about leaving the supernatural behind for the natural. Tell us what filled that void so many are afraid will never be filled when one tips deities into the rubbish bin. What’s life like, now that you’re not convinced you’re missing the Divine?