Dear Rev. Cootsona,
Thank you for your article in the Enterprise Record of March 1, 2008. It prompted this response from me:
The problem of ‘good’ is not insoluble for this atheist. Here’s how I do explain it. Good and evil are simply human contrived words--each being opposed to one another; either word is not a word that describes or fits into the natural world. Evil is a religious word. Better descriptors can be used to describe wasteful destruction, harm, pain, etc, but ‘evil’ connotates a satan or devil. There is no satan or devil.
By contrast, ‘good’ is a word that does not fit in a naturally evolving system of life on the planet. Life evolves in a manner that allows it to be in a constant state of change or flux. How exciting and marvelous is that to know! This makes me want to live forever; there is STILL so much to discover in the natural world. It is all so fabulously interesting! Pitiless indifference but absolutely fascinating nonetheless. I do fully agree with Richard Dawkins.
You might enjoy reading The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, by David Quammen. It gives wonderful insights into the complexities of Darwin’s discoveries of life evolving on the planet.
Humans are a part of the world, not separate from it. We are still animals despite the best efforts to deny this fact. We are certainly unusual animals and in the end may have a history on this planet that is so short (think geologic time) that we will almost be immeasurable, except for the dramatic influences we’ve had on other living systems. It seems that the more we have used technology to improve our lives, the quicker we’ve moved towards eradicating ourselves with the growth of our numbers (heading towards 7 billion and still expanding exponentially), exploiting natural resources, causing species extinctions, altering natural systems, etc.
This atheist finds herself satisfied with the same joy and appreciation of life as any other person might. In fact, I would say, more so, because I hold no falsehoods, belief in mythology or superstitions; nor do I deceive myself or waste time with prayers and activities that do not advance knowledge of the reality of life itself. I do not have to be ‘forgiven’ as I lead a life of consciousness that takes responsibility for my own actions.
There are those who believe that religion and science can co-exist. I am not one of these people. Religion is a crutch that was contrived to control and manipulate people and used in most despicable ways. The fact that religion continues today reminds me that humanity continues to evolve with all the rest of life, but I for one, feel free -- truly free.
Tanya M. Henrich