Welcome

April 10, 2008

Hi, my name is olly, and I’m an atheist.  (Sounds like the opening to a support group, doesn’t it).  You might know me from…

…no, can’t do it, I can’t go the Troy Mclure route, I just can’t.  Let’s just say I’ve blogged before, and you may (or may not) have read some of my previous work.  So, here it is, the obligatory ‘welcome to the blog!’ post.  The post where I explain what I’m about, where I wax poetic about all the injustice in the world, where I explain how I, as a blogger, must change the world with my writing! Inspire the masses! Get on Technorati!

…er, wait, scratch that last one.

So why AM I blogging, you might ask (or you might not — I mean don’t we all have blogs now? ).  Well, I’m blogging for a few reasons.  The first and foremost is that I need a new place to write.  I need a new place to inflict my bizarre and meandering thoughts.  I need a place where people can read what I write and stroke my ego a little bit.

Oh yea, all that change the world stuff too.

Really, I’m just writing to try to fill a void that I feel exists.  I’ve spent a lot of time reading (and writing) about atheism.  I’ve read all the biggies, the Dawkinses, the Dennets, etc (say ‘Dawkinses’ out loud — has such a lovely Gollumesque feel to it, doesn’t it?).  And while I totally respect (and support) the work they do, I feel a need to have a place where wonder and awe are discussed, where inspiration and amazement are talked about in the context of this atheistic life we all are living.  Yes, we can explain where our emotions come from through evolutionary biology and mind-theory.  Yes, we can (and should) discuss quite rationally the origins of religion, the negative effects that it had had (and continues to) on us as a species.  And yes, we can discuss rationally why we do what we do when we do it.

Frankly, I’ll leave that discussion to others.

What simply AMAZES me is the moroseness that so many atheists seem to have when they first come to atheism.  It’s like you come to this realization that life really has no deep, absolute meaning, and then you all of a sudden start needing to pop Prozac to get through the day!

Kurt Cobain once said that if he could, he would spend years starting bands, taking them right to the point of breaking into the big time, then abandon the project and start over.  He claimed that the time right before a band broke was the most exciting time to be a part of it because there were no restrictions, no rules, just absolute enjoyment of the music that was being played (without the burden of stardom).

This site is kind of aimed at the same principle.  I’m not trying to reach those of you who have come to accept your atheism and find your own meaning (though I would love to inspire the lot of you too!).  No, I want that 16 year old kid who feels alienated because the religion that his parents built his life on, the one he wasted so many Sundays on, suddenly seems like weak sunlight through glass — its still pulling at him, but because of his new found atheism it doesn’t contain the warmth that it once did.  I want to show that kid how to open the door and feel that sunlight for what it is — not religion, but human experience.

Oh, but I still haven’t explained what I mean have I.  Well, let me start with the title of the blog.  “…whatever will bewilder me” is a quote from a Tool song (Lateralus).  The context:

With my feet upon the ground I lose myself between the sounds, and open wide to suck it in I feel it move accross my skin.  I’m reaching up and reaching out I’m reaching for the random for whatever will bewilder me.  And following our will and wind we may just go where no one’s been, we’ll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one’s been.

Does that help?  No?  Ok, this is it in a nutshell: there is nothing, nothing, nothing, more amazing then human experience.  There is nothing more awe inspiring then standing next to a tree that is 10 times older than you are, and 100 times taller.  There is nothing more amazing then staring at a horizon, at colors that you couldn’t capture with the finest camera in the way that your brain can capture them.

Are you with me yet?

Emotion!  Experience!  THAT is what life is all about!  Love, hate, fear, loathing (Las Vegas?), awe, inspiration, joy, pain, sadness, and any other emotion and feeling anywhere in between!  I want this to be a site where you can talk about what it feels like to amazed at the world around you, without having to fear that you will be judged a ‘bad atheist’ for talking about things ‘outside the lines of reason’!

Now, are there the ‘haters’ out there? For sure, and they come from both the atheist and religious camps, to be sure.  There are atheists who have written me hatemail that is as condescending as anything that I’ve gotten from Christians.  Christian hatemail on this topic is usually ‘how dare you take God out of all of this, he created the mountains so your awe should go to him, blah blah blah’.  Atheist hatemail is usually along the lines of ‘why are you writing about beauty and experience and emotion, don’t you get it?  That’s what THEY [meaning the religious folk] base their arguments on!’.   Apparently talking about how experiences make me feel is to ‘wishy-washy’ for them.  There are too many of us atheists who FEAR to talk about experience, because the blogosphere (and meatspace) are filled with religious people just waiting to point their fingers and say ‘see, you’re not always rational!’.

So this is why I’m here.  I am writing as an atheist who very much understands why our brains do what they do, why I feel love or hate or pain, or why I’m driven by evolutionary forces to do certain things.  I get it, I’m not an idiot.  I’m just asking people to momentarily suspend the explanations of ‘why’ we are in love, and simply talk about ‘what it feels like’ to be in love.

Call it atheist spirituality (an odd term that one, but perhaps apt), call it ‘the aesthetics of atheism’ (that term I kinda like), call it whatever.  But STOP for a minute and talk about what it is that makes you tick, what it is that makes you cry, or feel joy, talk about photographs and poetry.  Start ENJOYING life as an atheist, and don’t be afraid to say that something deeply moves you.

No gods, no masters, and no boundaries to beauty.

Upside Down Smile from Ella

-olly

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