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Published July 6, 2013

Atheism Isn’t Empty

Back in December 2012, there was a small sect of people who believed that Armageddon was upon us all. Stars, planets, and entire galaxies would align with the Earth, magnetic fields would go bonkers, and disaster would claim us all– except those few who saw it coming, and believed hard enough.

Of course the rest of us knew better. We had loads of evidence that absolutely nothing remarkable would happen on December 21st. The Mayans never predicted apocalypse, and if they ever did, there’s no evidence to support any claims of prophecy.

Contrary to popular belief, Lindsay Lohan is not a horseman of the Apocalypse. She's not allowed to be within 500 feet of a scale.
Contrary to popular belief, Lindsay Lohan is not a horseman of the Apocalypse. She’s not allowed to be within 500 feet of a scale.

There was no alignment of celestial bodies, and even if there was, our magnetic fields don’t get all jumpy just because space rocks form some kind of pattern. So we laughed at their regretful misunderstandings and went on with our lives, stopping only briefly to be sad that folks still believe in Apocalyptic nonsense.

We gave ourselves permission to laugh at them, and when December 22nd came, we sat and watched as the doomsayers forced themselves to acknowledge they were wrong, or at least deny the evidence a little while longer. The nicest and most humble of us reminded the judgmental that none of the doomsayers came to their beliefs from a place of malice. No beliefs do.

Except for this.
Except for this.

When I tell people that I’m Atheist, it’s as if the world assumes I take the part of a heckler of spiritualism, a man who pities those beneath his glance and openly laughs at everyone else’s silly beliefs much in the same way all of us treated the doomsayers of 2012. A man like that can only be seen as a stain on the tapestry of generations, because he has reveled in being a person void of morality and values, an Anti-Theist. That is what “Atheist” means, right?

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Atheists aren’t void of hope and spirit, we don’t take joy in anarchy and chaos.

Atheists don’t believe there’s a supreme guiding force in human endeavors, but that doesn’t mean we don’t see magic in the world. Majesty is all around us, from the smallest fractal patterns in a blossoming flower to the ingenuity of the most advanced Mars rover. Nature is our history, our companion, and our glimpse into the inner workings of the universe, and we treat it with due awe and respect.

Pictured: half Geometry, half Amazing.
Pictured: half Geometry, half Amazing.

That’s not to say Atheists are strict naturalists; if nature is our left hand, then technology feels just as comfortable as our right. Technology is the extension of our abilities and senses, and the Atheist understands just how many generations of knowledge are raveled into our most modern of conveniences. We never take technology for granted, and advancements in the sciences excite us in ways that make us feel part of a larger whole.

Neil deGrasse Tyson once said that the most astounding fact is, essentially, the knowledge that the universe is in us. What he meant is that the atoms that comprise the human body were themselves born from the remains of collapsed stars unfathomable distances away in every direction. We are literally made of stardust, and that spectacular beginning gives us all common ground. Take a listen below, and try not to tear up at his gentle words of hope and wisdom:

We human beings have come so far in such a short amount of time. The Atheist knows, deep in his or her heart, that we haven’t been selected for any purpose or given any advantages to get where we are now. Instead, the progress we’ve made has been, and always will be, entirely of our own doing. It’s the difference between being special, and being extraordinary. That is a distinction we should be proud to declare.

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  • Greg Trombley

    Greg

  • I'm an RDU-based novelist and passionate champion of scientific progression. Nature and science live side-by-side in my heart. I clean dinosaur bones in my spare time, and love reading about local history. All my articles.

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