i recently received an email from my grandma, (hello, 2012) in response to something i'd written last week proclaiming to be an atheist. what, she asked, did i then believe in and why did i not believe in god.
questions like this i suppose, asked with genuine curiosity, can give one an opportunity to explore the reasons why we proclaim the things we do. and so for grandma, and the health of introspection, let me attempt to respond.
i am an atheist because i do not believe in god. i do not believe that one person created the universe and i do not believe that one person watches over our lives and ultimately decides, in the end, how we should be rewarded or punished for the manner in which we chose to live them.
i do not believe in god because despite much evidence to the contrary, i am a scientific minded person who seeks to understand the world around her by a system of logic. what do i see. what do i hear. what do i feel and why do i feel that way. is there reason for me to question things (always). is there reason for me to stop searching (never).
i believe that everything in the world is connected. my molecules and your molecules. the air i share in perfect union with plants. my actions. your response. my submission. your compassion. there is no step i take that doesn't impact something. the ground. a bug. someone i choose to acknowledge or ignore.
a friend told me that the only discernible difference between apes and humans is our ability to label and categorize our experience and in so doing, our perception that everything outside of ourselves is 'other'. this is just not so. the only divisions between ourselves, (the earth, the universe, understanding), are fabricated in the constructs of our language. our need to understand by naming isolates us from experiencing our lives as they actually are, not separate from our surroundings but completely and organically a part of them.
i don't believe in god but i do believe in the divine and it isn't something outside ourselves or in a select few or in some unknowable being. it's within and without and it's always been and it always will be.