Sunday, January 10, 2010

Word of Mouth

I don't recall what led to our discussion, but the other day at breakfast my wife Lydia mentioned in passing how her almost life-long freedom from belief in a supernatural being had always given her a sense of freedom. But instead of using the term "supernatural", she accidentally said "unnatural". We both laughed at this linguistic lapse. However, we got to thinking that perhaps when it comes to religious faith there's not that much of a distinction between those two words after all.

For what could be more unnatural than belief in a supernatural entity for which there is no proof of existence, or in an imaginary spirit world and the return of the dead to life? What could be more unnatural than perpetuating these superstitions and myths from generation to generation and by doing so hinder the progress of humankind's enlightenment and development? What could be more unnatural than killing and maiming and destroying property and resources in the name and at the behest of a fabled supreme being?

In short, isn't atheism then the most natural and rational mindset? Isn't accepting the universe on its own terms more realistic than trying to change it by fruitlessly praying for miracles? Isn't attempting to achieve a deeper understanding of nature through scientific inquiry more natural for adults than childishly making up stories to explain what we don't understand?

I hope that Lydia (or I) will make more slips of the tongue like the above. In doing so, who knows what other connections we'll uncover in the pursuit of knowledge and awareness?


Lorelei Armstrong said...

It's also worth remembering that ancient people never thought of their gods as supernatural but as eminently natural. The gods made the universe and ran the universe. Earthquakes, plagues, comets, eclipses, every natural event occurred at the will of a god. Belief in the gods was merely accepting the best available evidence at the time, and religion was best practices for survival.

It is only in modern times, with the advent of science, that religion has become supernatural and religion a kind of dog and pony show intended to convince people that the supernatural should have any claim to the human mind.

Secular Guy said...

Good clarification, Lorelei. And to the extent that so many theists reject science as a rational explanation for events in the world / universe, for them a supremee being is still the only "natural" force. I remember once overhearing a discussion about the near drought conditions in the area where I was living. One of the parties said "If God wants it to rain, he'll make it rain." Is this not typical?

Lorelei Armstrong said...

Too true! God must love me-- I get 75 inches of rain per year!