'Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries.' - Carl Sagan
Almost two years ago I published my last post on Paradigms Bend. Over the course of the two years prior to that post, I knew I had said everything I needed to say about the things I had researched, so penned my final post on the subjects of climate change and anthropocentric ego-based paradigms and bid my readers farewell. I still had other things to say that would not fit into the remit of Paradigms Bend, so I followed on with a new blog called Breaking Every Paradigm, a blog about consciousness, quantum physics, multiple realities and the potential humanity held for changing its paradigms for the betterment of all sentient beings. In this blog are fictional stories, allegories and thought-provoking questions. I would be delighted if you were to look at the blog, but for brevity, let me just preface this post with clarification of the subject of 'Source', which I wrote about to some extent in that blog.
'Source' is not a religious metaphor, it is not a god nor is it meant to be interpreted in such a manner. 'Source' is far above and beyond the limitations of any human-centered religious bias. To my understanding, and hopefully expressed best in my post The Sudden Immensity of the Little Muffin, 'Source' exists where all matter ceases to be particles and becomes waves. It is within this miniscule space that consciousness itself exists as an entity outside of the dimensions of time and space. Perhaps that sounds rather inaccessible, since we are stuck in the gigantic physical world, far removed from such a fantastical micro reality. But the truth is each sentient being - all life, in fact, right down to the building blocks which create matter - is connected to that physically unobtainable place via consciousness.
Consciousness is the foundation upon which we experience true sentience. In time I hope discoveries in the science of particle physics will open the door to this new frontier of understanding ourselves and the reality in which we live. Arrogantly perhaps, I have named the foundation of all consciousness 'Source', for want of another word - it was the best I could do, I needed to call it something so I could write about it, and considering what it is, a descriptive word seemed appropriate. We humans do like to label things, to help us navigate our lives and place order to our thoughts. However there is a catch-22 in the labelling of things, especially those which are not tangible, humans have a tendency to place too much power in the unknown, even falling into states of worship over those things which they cannot understand - the ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun, what we now know to be merely a star, and not a particularly special star compared to the billions of others that exist in our galaxy alone. This is something science helps us to overcome, to find out what is true and discard what is not.
Will 'Source' one day be discovered, and not just remain a theory? Based on the doors the experiments at CERN have opened thus far there is good reason to prevail - we just need to continue in our search, follow the evidence, and see where it leads. I am quite sure all paths regarding matter will eventually lead to 'Source', if not, I was wrong and the truth will present itself so long as we continue to ask questions. But at the rate the science of particle physics is progressing in its discoveries, I don't think we shall have to wait long, perhaps even within my lifetime scientists will have found the connection to the root of consciousness. Once that door opens, the knowledge available for us to discover will be far beyond anything any futurist could predict. But we are not there yet, nor do we deserve to be. We still need to grow up a little.
First we need to look at our prejudices. When I began blogging I invested my time and energy into researching and writing about humanity's social and material evolution, right from the beginning of recorded history. I investigated what developments in our past shaped us into what we have become, why we seemed to repeat the same mistakes despite our technological progress; what fundamental drives kept us locked in archaic paradigms and what could be done to address these destructive paradigms. Suggested were simple changes which ignored the responsibility-divesting hysteria of religious, prophetic and apocalyptic tales of end times or vengeful gods. I encouraged readers to think about what it truly means to be human in this modern era of technological connectedness - to present a new scope and perspective on our human history without the aspects of hate, fear and control which religions have saturated into our shared reality ever since the beginning of human history.
I am an atheist, or rather since I wrote my last post in late 2012 for Paradigms Bend, I have realised I am an atheist and always have been, particularly when as a child I would question the many fallacies of the Bible to my father, a religious leader, who would leave me baffled by his unwillingness to face the illogicality of his arguments. What can this say for science vs religion when a child using the process of science can argue facts with a religious adult who has science and theology degrees, knowing the child is right to question these things but must be subjected to that adult's absolute right to raise them according to their narrow and terrifying beliefs? To be silenced by them for more than a decade. To be forced to wait until they were on their own to be able to question and reason out loud without fear of retribution.
But atheism scares those who do not fully understand it, to them it appears cold, clinical and lacking in morality. Some call it the 'belief system' of the arrogant. I want to tell others how wrong this perception is. True, atheism has its bad representatives, namely those who choose to call themselves atheist merely for the purpose of denouncing all those who follow a religion, usually in cruel and derogatory terms, using atheism as a sort of soap box to stand upon and look down at others. Those people are not true atheists, at least not in my book, simply for the reason they are operating out of ignorance - they are ignorant of the responsibility of atheism. I can tell you what atheism isn't. It is not an exclusive anti-religion club for hateful members to join so they can ridicule those who do not accept the non-existence of gods. If that is all atheism is, then I ask, how is this any different from a religious group and why would any intelligent, rational person wish to be a part of it? Separation, ridicule, persecution and censure are close friends of religion, therefore those who use atheism as a podium for their own hate mongering are not true atheists, they are anti-religionists, corrupting what atheism really stands for. What atheism is, is the continual acquisition, dissemination and sharing of scientific knowledge, which is the antithesis of ignorance. Atheism is the pursuit of truth through repeatable, testable facts, possibly this might be why any scientist worth his salt has no choice but to come to the conclusion there is no need for there to be a religious (or pagan) god, nor has there been any scientific evidence to lead us to believe there ever could have been one.
Science is far more effective and powerful at giving access to universal truths, than the vague mystical teachings of ancient teachers, or the writings that came after by their followers who were faced with a distinct lack of science in their world. Still, they did their best to use their minds to explain what they could not understand, to give meaning to their existence in ways that appealed to the oldest parts of the human mind - to fulfill the need to belong to something, to mean something, to provide 'proof' we exist for a reason, even if that reason were merely a theological one. They can be forgiven for their presumptiveness, they could only use what resources they had available to them - dreams, visions, prophecies, the translation and integrations of even more ancient belief systems, such as Zoroaster's oral tradition of cosmology (seen even in the Gnostic Gospels of all places, some fifteen centuries after they were supposedly first uttered in ancient Persia, by a pagan) or tapping into mythological epic cycles and putting a new twist to those stories to please their contemporary audiences. But their writings were wrong. At worst the authors were manipulators, at best they were altruistic storytellers. But no matter their intentions, they did not have the answers to any great questions, they hazarded guesses with words crafted as fact, despite their sources being nothing more than the persuasive thoughts, dreams and views of other humans, none of it scientifically testable, all of it emotion-driven and neatly addressing the human weakness for partisanship. No gods, just hearsay. How many have died for the religions which have sprung up out of these words? Tens of millions, that's how many. For words that were wrong. Surely, by now, with our accumulated knowledge from our satellites, low earth orbit telescopes, the Curiosity Rover on Mars, the Internet, and the Large Hadron Collider we are better than this? Compared to men writing on goat skins more than two thousand years ago?
Particle physics experiments at institutions like CERN, where experiments demand staggering technological feats to retrieve minutely detailed data has shown us the smarter we get, the more we discover there is to learn, because each time we learn something new, we discover something else we were not even aware of, as though we had to ask the right question just to get to the next question. I doubt we will exist long enough as a species to exhaust the available amount of knowledge that can possibly be discovered in this reality, that is how much information I suspect surrounds us - we will always have questions, catalysing us to quest, learn and evolve. That is the function of true atheism, its proponents accepting they can only know what they can know at their given point of time, their job being to carry the baton of knowledge untarnished by human bias, adding to it where they can for the next generation, until perhaps in increments over time, humans will evolve into completely different entities capable of handling vastly greater amounts of data than our current brains can process. Atheism therefore is not a 'belief' or even a 'non-belief' system, it is a state of being, functioning in constant change, adapting and assimilating knowledge, a living and sentient state. Religion is the lowest common denominator of the atheism conversation, frankly discussing religion for an atheist is a waste of time. It's untestable, it's based on bias, ignorance, control, fear, and scorns science, the very tool which saves us from disease, takes us to other planets and teaches us about the most exotic forms of physics. It has no place in our conversations. We might as well talk about the purpose of goat dung in low earth orbit, there is simply no meaningful discussion to be had on the subject. There are better subjects to which we should apply our minds.
When our mind grapples with concepts it doesn't understand, we have two options, choose to believe in religious teachings as our one-size-fits-all answer, or courageously turn to the method of science which has the ability to remove all bias and preconceptions, leaving us with nothing but truth, as hard as it sometimes may be to accept. At times the results may even appear counter-intuitive, until we gain further understanding, when we realise the results have exposed our own biases, allowing us to broaden our minds further. Science gives us the chance to ask intelligent questions and test them, so we are able to learn from our investigations even if they fail, a true atheist is always learning, understanding, adapting, appreciating and discovering the incredible vastness of this particular reality within which they find themself. Our atheist is humble, understanding the little they do know is but a speck of dust compared to the mountain of knowledge waiting to be discovered.
Therefore what is atheism? Atheism is the mark of a courageous human. If there is no god, if there is no theological purpose to human existence, if we are just one link in the evolution of a species, so that when our body breathes its last, and we die with only the difference we have made to leave behind as our legacy, then we accept we have a great responsibility to eradicate nonsense and nurture truth at all costs. We know we have no one to blame but ourselves if we fail, we do not plead ignorance for our behaviour regarding the destruction of the planet's ecological systems because of the teachings of our belief system, or for the persecution of other races, or species. We accept we are all sharing the same DNA of life, evolving along our individual paths over millions of years knowing one day all life on Earth will go extinct when the sun dies and accepting this without needing a grand explanation. It is the nature of things to live, die and renew from the ashes once again, and this rule applies to everything which exists.
In terms of galactic time, the entire span of the homo sapiens species is less than inconsequential, but regardless of our insignificance it is enough to be here, to be alive and breathing right now in this vast technological age free to learn as much as we desire. To an atheist there is great purpose to one's existence: each day is a wonder of science, from the intricate workings of the body, to the movements of the superclusters of this universe. Without a doubt an atheist has a clear purpose - to seek out truth, building on the knowledge they gain to open new and glorious doors in their quest to find even more fascinating truths - to make the most of one's mind, enjoying the adventure of discovery, to be forthright and powerful in intellect, undaunted in the desire to move humanity away from its limiting beliefs into a whole new reality where only truth exists.
I dream of the day when with enough knowledge the age of human ignorance will fade away, dissolving into nothing more than a memory. When that time comes, there will no longer need to be a name for what atheists today represent, we will be able to file that label and all the others into an optical archive. We will close the program, look at each other and smile. We can finally be what we have always been. Human.
Originally published on Paradigms Bend Oct 9 2014