The Beauty and Reason of Atheism

By Paul Thomas Zenki

So you’re a little kid, and every morning you walk out into this world full of wonder, a world so immense that it is beyond our comprehension and always will be. There is life continually springing from the earth, distant suns shining as stars flanked by their own planets, hard reality and deep mystery, and our own selves inexplicably aware of it all.

As you age you feel an unquenchable urge to move and learn and grow and love. As a baby you crawled and stood and walked and learned to speak and no one needed to prompt you. Sometimes you run, not because you have anywhere to go, but just because you are so full of energy and life that it makes you leap.

You grow up and you form friendships and experience loss. You build things, and when you’re finished, you stand back and look at what you’ve done with a sense of satisfaction and purpose. You find that small moments with those you love, which meant nothing much at the time, will linger and become precious to you. They will often comfort you in hard times and give you solace and hope.

You have a family and experience a depth of love, and grief, which you never imagined was possible. You see that all things come and go. Clouds disperse, even mountains erode over millennia to dust, and all living things die and cease to be. Your time is finite. So each day becomes something to treasure, something to make the most of. You are part of the world and it is part of you. There is no end to learning, no end to change, no end to mystery as long as you are here.

Then one day someone tells you, there is an invisible world, called the supernatural, and invisible beings live there.

“Ah,” you say. “But how do you know about them?”

Because ancient people wrote about them back when no one knew where the sun went at night. And since then, people have taught each other to believe. And today, the invisible beings speak to people in dreams, and in the ancient books, and in their thoughts. They are behind many strange coincidences and all of the mysteries we have not yet solved.

And you must believe in the invisible beings in the invisible places.

“Why?” you ask.

Because there are things they want you to do. Rituals to perform at the correct times and in the correct ways. Things to eat and not to eat. Ways to have sex and not to have sex. Moral codes you should follow. Groups you should join and others you should shun. Books you must read and books you must not read. Ideas you have to believe and ideas you can never believe. People to accept as authorities and others to reject. This will liberate you.

“From what?” you ask.

From the burden of having to decide it all for yourself, and the danger of choosing wrongly. And the risk that the invisible beings may punish you in the invisible places when you go there without your body.

“I see,” you say. “I am sorry but I simply cannot make myself believe those things.”

But then how can you be free? How can you know love and happiness? How can you be a good person and not evil? How can you know what is true and what is false? How can you live if you do not believe in the invisible beings in the invisible places and read the ancient books? How can your life have any meaning and purpose? You must see that you cannot live without this belief. Your life will be empty. Isn’t that obvious?

“Thank you,” you say. “I must be going. I have things to do.” And you think how strange this world really is and how strange humans can be, and you hope that some day that person may be liberated to simply live life as it is, in all its beauty and wonder and pain and mystery and joy and death and grief and hope and struggle.

And the invisible beings in the invisible places… well, you suppose they will just have to take care of their own invisible business without your help.

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Paul Thomas Zenki is an essayist, ghostwriter, copywriter, marketer, songwriter, and consultant living in Athens, GA.