TREE OF LIFE (2011). A great film, root and branch. Unless you prefer heist movies.



How going to church and seeing the Eye of God made me an atheist

Last year I started to go to a local Roman Catholic Church. I’ve never been a religious person but I’ve always thought that I believed in some kind of God or higher power. My experience of the people at church was that they were lovely; really welcoming, caring and surprisingly inclusive. The ritual seemed a bit strange at times but essentially harmless and even a bit soothing. Everyone was evidently earnest and there was always a welcoming atmosphere. BUT… This is where it all went wrong. It got me thinking about God and religion. I don’t think that was the intention in fact I know that thinking is the last thing the church wants us to do. This is because, if we think for too long about God, if we think about the reasons people believe in a higher power, if we think about why religion exists then we are very likely to come to the conclusion that there is no God, that the only power shaping existence is that of nature, and that religion is often a divisive and corrosive force in society.

It was sitting there in church amongst all those really nice people that I finally realised that I am truly an atheist and that the whole God thing really is a delusion. My sudden realisation unnerved me a bit so I looked up some of the work of other well-known atheists, half hoping that I would be put off and be able to go back to my vague belief in the big bloke with the beard (Who said Brian Blessed?!). However, I found that the words of people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens rang very true in my ears. Oh God! I really am an atheist.

The photo at the top of the page is a real shot of what they call the Eye of God. It’s so beautiful that some might say that it could only have been created by some all-powerful force for good. The object is actually a shell of gas and dust that has been blown off by a faint central star. Our own solar system will meet a similar fate five billion years in the future. It lies around 700 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius, and can be dimly seen by ordinary domestic telescopes by amateur astronomers who call it the Helix nebula. It is beautiful and amazing and fascinating enough all on its own. We don’t need to invent an inventer to make it more so.

This is a massive discussion and can’t be covered in this tiny bit of writing. I’m still discovering exactly what I think about it all but one thing I’m pretty sure on now is that ‘faith’ is not the wonderful thing that we blindly accept it to be. It’s actually the act of believing something for no reason whatsoever. Why the hell would anyone ever want to do that?! Really… ask yourself… why?! I could cope better with faith if we called it by a different name e.g. ‘hypothesis’. I can believe things because I have a hunch that’s the way things work but I still go on looking for evidence. That’s what science does and maybe one day science will find evidence that there is a God after all. Until that day, I’m sticking with Dawkins and Hitchens.