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Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 in Atheism, Science, Wonder | 1 comment

Awe & Wonder In Atheism

Many religious believers seem to think that they have the monopoly on awe and wonder in the universe. Some actually cite awe and wonder as evidence for their deity of choice. This I think is an insult to the human experience.

A rainbow is a beautiful thing. It is beautiful because our eyes are limited in what they allow us to see. We now have the knowledge to understand how and why rainbows are formed and why our brains translate the sight of them into a feeling of awe and wonder. Understanding this fills me with even more awe and wonder.

Our understanding doesn’t diminish our sense of awe and wonder; it adds more layers to our feeling of awe and wonder. I am in awe of our human ability to learn and understand. How wonderful is it that we live at a time in history in which science and technology allows us to understand so much more than we once did.

Did people in the dark ages really feel more awe and wonder because of their lack of knowledge? Did believing that leeches cured sickness enrich their experiences of life? I don’t think so. Learning about the universe we live in from an objective scientific point of view is what enriches our experiences.

That is really why we value our sense of awe and wonder – that sense enriches our lives. So while we no longer attribute our sense of awe and wonder to magic and superstitions, we still have that sense. Solving the mysteries of the universe doesn’t detract from our sense of awe and wonder and it does enrich our lives. Would we be better off not knowing anything about the world we lived in and just chalking it all up to magic or gods? I don’t think so. To quote fictional doctor atheist Gregory House, “It is always better to know.”

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  • NoCrossNoCrescent

    As an apostate Jew, you are in good company, when seeking the sense of marvel and transcendence without superstition. Probably humanity’s best teacher in this area is your fellow apostate Jew, Baruch Spinoza, who, Einstein said, was the philosopher who had the greatest influence on him.