Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A nice atheistic post

...to lighten your god-fearing day.

I was in the park today--I'll soon write a post on my sister blog explaining why--when I unexpectedly began to have some profound thoughts. Nature will sometimes do that to you. I thought about the grass, and the trees, and how the sunlight filtered through at such a low angle that the rays scattering through...sorry, got into nature-mode again for a moment. What I meant to say is: today I experienced a brief nature moment.

So I sat there, considering the grass, and the trees, and how the sunlig...whoa...did it again.

I considered...those things...and how often I've heard them used as fodder for religious arguments. The convenient fact that trees scrub carbon dioxide from the air in exchange for oxygen is often brought up as one of those "well isn't that a coincidence?!" arguments from design. Though I must say, my favorite example of this: that the grass was put on Earth by god so that we could have something soft to walk on, never fails to make me laugh. Nevertheless, I was considering these "arguments" and considering the fallacy with which they operate. This kind of argument assumes that everything exists for a (usually Homo sapien-centric) reason.

I, for one, argue wholeheartedly against this idea. In fact, as we learn more and more about the evolution of life on this planet, we find that we're really just specks on a piece of rock, as cliche as that analogy is. For example, take a deep breath. Is that oxygen (and nitrogen, et al.) that you're breathing? If so, then you should be thanking a particular type of cyanobacteria (the first major producer of oxygen, and earliest descendent of plants as we know them today), which came into sudden abundance, early in this planet's lifetime.

"Haha!" you may say to me, "but that just proves it! The cyanobactera were placed here to create a hospitable environment for humans! Hah!"

Stop being stupid, is my reply. You're still thinking in terms of grand reasons and schemes and determinism. Those bacteria found a niche in which they could live, and exploited it. Apparently before they showed up, the atmosphere was full of delicious carbon dioxide, which happened to be this bacteria's favorite food. Yum. All that was required was the ability to use it, which the bacteria obtained through chance mutation. These bacteria were therefore able to thrive based on the same mechanism which produced all of the plants and animals we see today:

Life, finds a way to live, and lives. It's pretty much as simple as that.

Sure, you don't get the same kind of cheery take-home message as, "God has a plan for everything," but there's still hope. You can still be consoled in the realization that: You're an evolutionary winner! You see, because Humans, along with the grass, and the trees, and the way the sunlight filtered through at such a low angle that...damn you nature!...what I'm trying to say is that, at least for now, we're winners in the evolutionary sense. Sure, weren't created perfectly by an omnibenevolent being, but we were made--fairly well--by evolution. Every living thing around us is the product of a couple billion years of trial and error. I'm trying my hardest not to get too mushy with this message, but hear me out just a bit more.

Next time you're outside, pluck a blade of grass. Better yet, pull it out by the roots, admire the complexity of the system, and realize that grass exists, solely because it can. That bit of grass came from an early proto-grass-form that said, "hey, I think I'm gonna grow on this flat ground here," and nature said, "okay."

Obviously though, speech was not necessary for the grasses' survival and was removed by natural selection.

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