On Atheism and Spirituality – An Address

Close-up of EarthAtheism has always been my default position, though I flirted with Unitarian Universalism for a time, out of the belief that “some” form of spirituality could be helpful in leading a happy life. What I have since discovered is that spirituality for me simply means acknowledging my very real connection to this Universe of which I am a temporarily conscious part.

As we know from Dr. Sagan and others, the atoms that make up our bodies are in a constant state of renewal and attrition. The atoms in my body have been around for 15 billion years, and will persist for yet another 15 billion or more years. They are only temporarily arranged into Troy Boyle as they are only temporarily arranged into you who are reading my words. That’s amazing!

Our consciousness is an epiphenomenon that, like a rainbow, is the product of other processes without which we would not exist. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Where we err, as a species, is inventing narratives where that consciousness persists forever. We all want it to do so, but it does not. Religion is the expression of that desire, that need and that fear. Discontinuity is terrifying to try and conceptualize. I completely sympathize with the desire that something spiritual is “out there.”

I take heart from this idea: we are just a collection of atoms, non-randomly organized into life by what seems to me to be an inexorable, and probably common, process. There may be intelligences vastly greater than ours in the universe, cool and long-lived, that have a greater understanding, and there may be intelligences yet that make those intelligences seem like amoeba, as compared to humans. That’s an encouraging thought. We are all of us, from the greatest to the smallest, brothers and sisters of each other, and children of the organizational principle of matter and energy. If that’s not spirituality, I don’t know what is.

Troy Boyle
National Atheist Party


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