At the beginning of this semester, I wrote a piece about being an athiest and how that effected my morality. Ever since the article ran I have been getting questions from the people around me- people I work with who read it, our editor-in-chief, and most of all, my parents.
As it turns out, they didn’t know I was an athiest.
That caused no small amount of distress to me, but it did to my parents who are very religious people. They wondered where they went wrong, and why I couldn’t see God’s hand in everything. My brother had cancer and he is still alive. Isn’t that a miracle?
It is, yes. It’s a miracle that we were near the best doctors in the region, and it’s a miracle that we had good enough health insurance that my brother got all the treatments and the surgery required to help him. All accomplished by man and science.
The discussion that I got into that lasted the longest was when I was told that I had to see God’s hand in everything around me. The beauty of the world we live in had to have been created just for us. I have never been so glad to disagree with that person. The thought of a world created just for us is the most depressing thought I have ever had.
To others, though, my view of the world may seem equally depressing. The way I see everything isn’t something mind shattering. It’s more focused on science and what we know about how the universe, and subsequently, how the Earth was created.
I believe that we are here simply because of random happenstance.
That’s it, as simple as an explanation needs to be.
Allow me, however, to break it down.
From what scientists can observe about the universe it is old- very old. This little planet we live on is old as well. 4.54 billion years old according to a little research. But here’s the magical thing. The elements that formed the earth were all part of something else. Stars, most likely, as they turn Hydrogen into more complex elements. Without these solar powerhouses, only Hydrogen would probably exist.
So, we live on an old planet made of star stuff. What’s so special about that? Why is it better to think that a creator’s hand guided life on this planet a few thousand years ago?
Because we shouldn’t be here. According to my limited understanding of astrophysics and statistics, we are an anomoly. We live in a planet that just so happens to be in the right place in our solar system, that has just enough water to support life, and that happens to have developed an atmosphere that protects us from radiation.
The planet went through many radical changes as it slowly became what it is today. A horrifying molten wasteland, a snowball drifting throuth the cosmos, and slowly it became the wonderful thing we live on today.
Much like the Earth itself evolved to sustain life, life evolved on earth to populate it. From single celled organisms we grew into the advanced creatures we are now. Other creatures evolved to by slipping into niches to survive, the weak being removed, the strong passing on important genes over millions of years.
When you think about how we came to be, the process that lasted billions of years, that should cause you to pause, and realize that life is special, and amazing. That everything you see around you is an accident, a lucky draw dealt by the universe.
I’ll leave you with this thought.
If we were given this amazing gift, this bastion of life in what seems to be a barren universe, shouldn’t we respect what we have? Step outside, take a deep breath and realize, we are an accident, a beautiful anomoly. Every day we continue to populate this insignificant planet is a wonder in this harsh universe. We aren’t even a blip in this ever-expanding universe, but we are here.
I was given some amazing advice by an Astronomy professor at OSU that I still think of every day. Why do we question why we’re here, when we could just as easliy not be? We’re here, and that’s all that matters.
You see, we have been given an amazing gift. Not from on high, but by accident.
Isn’t that a much more beautiful thought?
Cameron Simek is the Opinions editor for the UVU Review at Utah Valley University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on twitter @Skabomb. www.uvureview.com