The universe is my inspiration, beauty is my muse
The religion I was raised in (the Catholic variety of Christianity) originated from the experiences of a small group of people, in a very narrow geographic region of Earth and was shaped into the form it’s known by today via people who were disconnected by over 300 years of time from the reported events and later part of an empire led by a series of rulers who desired to control others and build power (we’ve never escaped that loop, but that’s a story for another day) using religion as a tool. The events described in the core stories of Christianity are so disconnected from what we know is reality as to be obvious fiction, leaving them as allegory at best. The stories of Christianity represent merely a small moment in time on this planet and are not shared by even a majority of the planet’s inhabitants. But even beyond that, the historical moments and stories that led to the founding of this religion (or any other religion) are so unimportant in the scheme of reality as to be an infinitesimal blip in the history of the universe.
I don’t blame the people who wrote and shaped the stories of Christianity. They possessed only a fraction of knowledge about the universe we now grok. All the evidence we have today and my personal observations about the universe preclude me from believing in something like a religion.
The immense, near infinite, scope of the universe makes it likely beyond a reasonable doubt that there are other planets out there, with life on them. Millions of them, each with their own amazing collection of flora, fauna, people, politics, philosophy, etc.. And yet, the scale of the universe is so immense, that the opportunity to visit any other planets with life on them, is incredibly small.
I find it so beautiful, that out of a powerful explosion over 14.3 billion years ago, so hot that it took over hundreds of millions of years to cool down to the point where matter could form and the laws of physics as we know them today took shape, came countless galaxies, clusters, stars, comets, and planets. Then from that same progression from sub-atomic to planet, came life in billions of varieties across the universe. That this process continues all around us all the time, expanding in every direction, is too beautiful, too gigantic a feeling for me to honestly believe that any religion out of the possible millions in the universe has somehow identified the one true God. It’s much more impressive to me that this could happen without a steering-hand, that the universe itself generated all this beauty.
That we, the collective we of humanity, allow any species that was created as a result of this evolutionary process of billions of years to go extinct is an affront to every living thing that came before it and theft from every living thing that comes after. That we cause the climate of the planet to become warmer via methods of pollution that aren’t absolutely necessary is a continued insult to future generations. That a bomb drops on a village in Syria or a landmine explodes under a child’s foot is a perversion of the powerful forces that gave us this universe to explore. That we don’t care for our fellow humans with the love and intensity that we ourselves wish to experience is the worst story ever told.
And in that last paragraph , I see the beginnings of a bridge to the future. A community of believers in goodness, love, truth, justice, peace, and charity as attributed to a messiah character (Jesus, Mohammad, whomever) and those who can hold goodness, love, truth, justice, peace, and charity close to our hearts as a natural part of the universe, working together to end all the crimes against the future. The worst thing that could happen is if we persist in building walls (physical, spiritual, or otherwise) like we have for the last 2000 years instead of a bridge, because the result will only be more of the same and as we know that leads down a path with a horrible end.
In the end, I don’t care about your faith. I care about what you do with it. What are you willing to do to make sure this gift we were all given is a better place for future generations?
Image credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, NRAO/AUI/NSF, STScI, and G. Ogrean (Stanford University), Acknowledgment: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz (STScI), and the HFF team.