Can atheists see beauty?
I love, or hate actually, when Christians like to point out that I can’t possibly respect the beauty that’s all around us. How could I feel awe while looking up at the sky, or at our Grand Canyon, or at my child’s birth. I can’t possibly understand how glorious these things are. How ignorant a claim that you, a person of faith, have some sort of cosmic monopoly on wonder, on beauty, on awe.
As a youth, I used to go to church. I was saved. And I remember the feeling of “tingles” when I felt like the preacher was speaking directly to me. His words were for me and me alone – regardless of the countless others who were feeling the same thing at that very moment. So even I questioned this as a young atheist.
When I first declared myself an atheist, I struggled with this concept. Can I feel awe without the wonder of it being inspired by my creator? But then something powerful happened. I felt awe.
I was in the delivery room with my wife when it first hit me. We were having our son. That first moment I felt his skin on mine. His first cry as he took his first breath – those squeals piercing my ears. I was completely, and utterly lost in love with him. It was, to the best of my description, pure magic.
But it’s not magic. That’s the point. This experience alone has helped shape my battles as a “heathen.” I can look back and identify similar feelings and attribute them to the awe Christians speak of.
I think back to the day I realized I was in love with my now wife. Seeing my mother after graduating from boot camp. Laying in the hospital bed next to my grandfather after his first heart attack. And now, more recently, I am becoming more active in helping abused and neglected children and animals. I can feel an extremely powerful human connection whilst witnessing their pain or fear. I have been brought to tears of anger and frustration at some of these stories.
This is not supernatural, my friends. These feelings aren’t so unique. As it turns out, most people share similar feelings to my own during very similar events. Empathy is not a divine feeling. It’s a human feeling. Our ability to evolve over time has much to do with empathy. Power in numbers. Two heads are better than one. Get the picture?
So when you, Christians, ask, “If there is no god, then what’s it all for?” Understand that with or without your faith, there is “magic” happening all around us. Look down, look up, look within. It does not matter. All humans can feel love and compassion for a complete stranger. And that is all the awe I need to feel connected to you.