Could the Empty Sky of Atheism Save Us?
What would happen if we were all overtaken by the same what-if scenario and it made every human on the planet an atheist, if only for a moment? If everyone assumed there is no God. No overseeing deity. No prophets, no divine sons, no heavenly Club Med to ascend to. We die and that’s it. That we did develop from simple organisms over billions of years. That our entire existence is a chance occurrence of suitable environmental conditions over a prolonged period of time. That we adapted big unwieldy brains capable of generating feelings of confusion, nostalgia, paranoia, emptiness, loneliness and the need to invent a creator and an afterlife and a deeper meaning to our biological lifespan. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, monotheists, polytheists, every major and minor offshoot in between grew up and out from a common source and that all the distinct religions bloomed in patches, like weeds. Those beliefs were reinforced by our families and the people that lived in the hut/house/hovel across the way. The small nuances between the religion patches– through a formula of geographical distance over generations–turned our big unwieldy brains into hubs of self-righteousness and judgment. Now everyone regards the other patches as backwards and kooky and thinks, “How could anyone believe that?” even though every -ism has a large degree of inherent ridiculousness and superstition. That self-righteousness has festered into obsession and we have murdered each other for millennia because of the same shared delusion of religion. If we all experienced the same what-if moment, would the suicide bomber take off his vest of explosives? Would the nutcase making his anti-Islam snuff film turn off the camera? Would the Koran-burner blow out his match? Would the dissent that threads through our politics, entertainment, relationships and every other facet of society mellow into a simple bond of harmless coexistence? Perhaps we’ve come too far to consider such a unifying moment and it would take a Men in Black memory erasing flash to put humanity on the same spiritual playground. Where we literally “saw the light” then looked up into the sky and felt the same dumb rush of nothing. Then we could start over.