An Admission

(Via Evan)

I am atheist.

Okay, so I know this comes as no surprise whatsoever to any of my friends. The point is, I've not said it before in a public forum. The reason is that I have hopes of running for political office at some point down the road but conventional wisdom holds that openly non-religious people cannot get elected to major office in the USA.

Doubtless there are atheist people in political office right now (with ~14% nonreligious in the country, and a higher proportion of atheist among the educated, statistics insist that some have even made it to Congress at some point), but they either lie about their beliefs or avoid talking about it.

At some point recently I decided that if I can't be honest and run, I'm not going to. So I felt like making a clear statement and getting it out of my system. Is that weird?

Anyway, there you have it: I limit my beliefs to those things that can be convincingly demonstrated through evidence and reason. In my opinion, the supernatural entities of all religions I am aware of (past and present) fail those tests. Therefore I believe them to be fictional and will retain that belief unless the weight of evidence and logic manages to convince me otherwise.

I'm not the sort of person who will put down others for their faith, but I also don't have much patience for people condescendingly telling me I am wrong, or that I am going to hell. My standards of evidence and reason are quite strong, and you are welcome to try to use them to convince me of my error. People have managed to convince me to switch beliefs before on other matters, so it's not even impossible.

The Making of an Atheist

(Via David Yanez, 12-14-2003)

I’m writing this in response to several insinuations over the years that since I am an Atheist that I’m incapable of grasping how a spiritual person sees life and the bigger picture. Or that I’m incapable of grasping the idea that there exists something higher than myself or that there is something higher than man.

I’ve even been accused of being an Atheist just for the sake of being different.

Being an Atheist doesn’t mean one has abandoned their moral conscious or that they’ve lost the ability to feel compassion or wonder and amazement for life. Atheists are not unfeeling and single minded. The only difference between us is that you believe in a God and the Supernatural and I don’t plain and simple.

This is my attempt to shed some light on what makes an Atheist or should I say one Atheist tick and to give people a better understanding of who we are. It is also meant to give hope to people who are without hope and who are contemplating suicide and to people who are having doubts about there spiritual beliefs and don’t know where to turn to.

What do you do after being raised to believe in something wholeheartedly from the time of your birth, only to have that belief ripped from your heart and your mind by your own self, because to continue to believe in it would be living a lie? How do you replace such a big void left by uninstalling a particular program in your mind, which to that day was an essential component to your development as a human being? I was raised like most people to believe that our lives were looked over and cared for if we believed without question and loved unconditionally a Supreme Being, which most cultures refer to as God. I was led to believe that this God had the power to grant us happiness if we led a good, just and compassionate life. I was led to believe that this God was the ultimate power that existed and should be feared as well as loved and adored, otherwise you’d be condemned to eternal misery by the same Just, Compassionate and all loving God. This belief was installed into my mind without any say on my part because I was just a baby without a choice. I was only a child, innocent, impressionable, and oblivious about life and the world around me. How could I know what was good for me or not. These beliefs are forced upon us all before we are old enough to determine on our own whether they are credible or not. This belief was as natural to me as walking and breathing. To see me as a child no one would ever question my beliefs in the Almighty or my spirituality. I was raised to be a respectful, just, compassionate, loving, forgiving and open minded person who would never harm another person or animal out of hate or self gain. These beliefs defined me as a human being, at least that’s what I thought or was lead to believe. How could billions of people be wrong? My beliefs were as much a part of me as an arm or a leg. How can one rip off their own arm or leg? Some people would say, “ Well, when your old enough to make your own decisions, you can believe what you want ” By then it’s too late for most people. Their minds have been made up for them. They’ve already been brain washed. Why should they change their beliefs? Their lives revolve around these beliefs. Are these beliefs in divinity and the supernatural inherent to mankind or are they popular ideas passed down through each new generation. Morality and ethical systems have evolved for thousands of years, granted religious beliefs have contributed to our ethical culture but do we now need to be religious or spiritual in order to be good, wise and moral people? Most people depend on these beliefs for comfort and morality even though deep down they have their doubts. They would rather live a lie than to rip out their religious beliefs. It takes a lot more than just lack of evidence and plenty of credible philosophical and scientific theories to abandon a belief system drilled into us for thousands of years. Some people are strong and secure enough to accept their doubts and make the transformation with out any trauma to their psyche. But for others it would take a traumatic experience to make them abandon this security blanket belief, as in my case.

As a child I needed to understand. I needed to understand the universe, but the fear of death kept me a loyal subject to God. I’d say my prayers every night, asking for protection, for my family and for myself. Occasionally I’d ask the questions, Why? Why God? What’s it all about? But like always there was never any answer. But I was loyal, because I loved my family and would say my prayers for God to protect them. I was loyal because that’s what my religion taught me: To love God no matter what. No matter if I couldn’t see him. No matter how bad things were in the world. No matter if he didn’t answer my prayers. I loved him because I feared him. I loved him because I feared death. But most of all I loved him because I loved my family more and he had the power to protect them. I refer to God as a he only for convenience and because that’s what I was led to believe at the time. I grew up depending on God to watch over me. In a sense my religion conditioned me not to depend on myself but to depend on God. God will provide. If you had a problem all you had to do was pray for his help. Religion taught me to be weak and dependant on a being that gets off on having people worship him. I was already shy and insecure. I have no doubt that my religious beliefs contributed to this. So many people depend and structure their lives around this belief that has never been proven to exist. Like so many people I was hooked, addicted, conditioned and dependant, on something called God to guide and direct my life. Like so many I had lost the ability to due for myself: To take charge of my own life: To make my own future. But when I was seventeen I hadn’t yet come to this realization and then Marguerite came along. She was everything I ever dreamed of. I was hooked. I was in love. I had found someone to love more than my family, more than myself, more than my God.

She was an artist like myself and incredibly intelligent, beautiful and full of life. She taught me to savor each new day because tomorrow may never come. She said an accident or catastrophe could strike us down at any moment. She was contemporary, open-minded, sensitive and compassionate. When I looked into her eyes I could see so much more than just her big brown eyes. I could see her mind her consciousness that which made her unique in this world and I was in love. I had put her up on a pedestal and didn’t know how to tell her how much I loved her. My shyness and insecurity kept me at a distance. As much as I loved her, I feared the thought of being rejected by her even more.

My shyness is most likely genetic but my insecurity is environmental and cultural in the making. My insecurity was a product of the way my life unfolded. I had no power to control the way my life would unfold. As people we can only direct our lives in a certain direction but we can’t control the outcome of our attempts. Until then through no fault of my own, my life had unfolded in a way that had left me shy and insecure. As much as I wanted to change I didn’t know how. I asked God repeatedly to give me the strength to tell Marguerite how I felt about her. We had developed a good friendship and I was afraid of losing it by telling her how I felt. As high school graduation came closer and closer I practiced in my mind how I would tell her: How I would ask her out. It was so easy in my mind or in front of a mirror, but in person I froze. I would come so close to asking her out or telling her how beautiful she was, but that was as close as I would get. And I grew to hate myself for it. Why couldn’t I be more of a man I told myself? What am I afraid of? Please God, I would beg, Please God give me the strength to tell her, I’ll never ask anything of you ever again, please don’t let me lose her I would say. The thought or option of our remaining good friends after graduation never even crossed my mind. I was blinded by love. I wish I had seen the option of a continued friendship, but that’s not the way my life would unfold.

Looking back and carefully examining why I was so insecure was probably a result of having been discriminated against throughout my childhood. I guess I was just too sensitive. So many years of defending myself and my family from bigots had made me strong and defensive but had also taken its toll on me in the form of this insecurity. Perhaps subconsciously I didn’t want her to find out who I really was, or who my low self-esteemed mind thought I was at the time. Perhaps subconsciously I didn’t want her to see my true self, complete with a closet full of bad memories, pain, loneliness, embarrassment and insecurity. As High School graduation approached my mind became more and more fragile, hoping for an intervention from God. Please God, please, would ripple through my mind, please help me to tell her that I love her, please. Graduation came and went and Marguerite had become my biggest regret. It would have been so easy to just say; “Marguerite, can we keep in touch after high school?” But my blinded love and new hate for myself let her go with out even trying. She’s better off without me I convinced myself. She was so beautiful and smart and perfect in my eyes, how could she ever love me back, and then she was gone. In the years that followed I did make attempts to befriend her again but that overwhelming sense of insecurity had so much control over my mind that I failed miserably in my attempts. She had become my biggest regret but in the long run had become that which set me free. Free to think for myself and place my destiny in my own hands. I thank everyday that our lives had crossed because I don’t know if I would have had the courage to free myself if not for her coming into my life.

After High School graduation the pain that followed would be unmatched to this day. The pain that followed would change my life forever. How could you do this to me God? I said to myself. I loved you all my life God. Why are you punishing me so? Why God? Why? What did I do? I loved her! I loved her with all my heart! These thoughts and pain raced through my heart and mind until I couldn’t stand it any longer. All I wanted was for the pain to end, even if it was with my own hands. How else could I make the pain stop I asked myself? Death was the only answer, Suicide. I didn’t want to live any more. I hated my life. But most of all I hated God. And with a desperate attempt to gain control of my life again, I reached into my heart and mind and ripped out every trace of my God. I cursed him without fear. I cursed him for my loss. I cursed him for my life. But most of all, I cursed him through my ignorance.

As time went on my hatred subsided. How could I hate something that doesn’t exist? If I continued to blame God, then I would be acknowledging that he does exist, so I stopped the blame and stopped believing in this fictional being which had so much control over my life. Now I was a person without religion. I certainly wasn’t going to continue to call myself a Catholic. Although I stopped believing in God, for a while I still held on to the notion that we had souls and that they survived after our deaths. It was hard to let go of that last bit of fear. That’s what it had to be, the fear of death and the need to survive it. Science, Philosophy and the quest for knowledge helped fill the void left from my lack of religion. Bertrand Russell finally put an end to my belief in a soul that survives our death. I soon replaced the soul with the mind and later with the heart mind. I continued to be shy and insecure but at least I survived one of the causes. I survived Religion, but would I survive Nature and its unpredictability? Could I survive the damage Nature has already inflicted upon me? Or the Damage I have inflicted upon myself. Could I be content with just living for the sake of living? Could I just watch as Nature unfolded the Human saga? How could I be content when so many were not? So much suffering, not enough justice. Why? What’s it all about? I needed to know. I needed to know the big picture. Was there a big picture? I needed to understand Why? How? And for What purpose?

We as human beings have been asking questions from the beginning. We are bewildered at the site of something we cannot explain and when we cannot explain something we have the habit of placing it in a category outside the Natural World. Our primitive ancestors could only imagine the real workings of Nature and were amazed and frightened at the same time. Our ancestors were at a threshold in our development as a species. For the first time we came together as a species and tried to explain the inexplicable and in the process had created something unique to our species, the need to be Enlightened and Culture, unlike anything we’ve seen in the Natural world before.

At some point in time, ancient man made the transition from mere existence to intellectual curiosity about his origins. At some point in our development as human beings we developed a primitive sense of good and evil, right from wrong, concepts that we’re still developing. We inherited our emotions, from our animal ancestors. It has been observed in the animal kingdom that higher animals mourn and show grief after a close relative or mate passes away. I believe emotions played a vital role in the development of our intellectual curiosity about our own origins. They laid the foundations for our primitive religious beliefs. I believe emotions, intuition and or traumatic emotional experiences have been catalysts for some of the most intellectual leaps in mankind. Even a chimpanzee has a primitive sense of right from wrong, compassion, good and bad. I don’t know when animals made the transition from instinctual behavior to having emotions. I don’t know whether an insect avoids a praying mantis out of instinct or fear, probably instinct. But a dog definitely runs from a vicious larger dog out of fear. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to notice that. Emotions especially fear, have helped us survive by keeping us away from life threatening situations. Isn’t it possible that grief and or a depressed state of mind or loss of a loved one could have triggered an ancient mans mind to ponder about his existence or role in this Universe?

Ancient man also took the notion of destruction, which occurs naturally in Nature and associated it with man. Man had become a destructive force. We had the capability to be destructive to the enemy, which was a good thing for ones tribe, but when we killed one of our own for no good reason then destruction took on a new meaning, we called it Murder, and the act Evil. Murder with out good cause became the origin of evil. Murder as we describe it has been observed in the animal kingdom as well. Chimpanzees have been observed to murder other chimpanzees for no good reason other than they were from a different clan. We call this behavior evil because we as intelligent beings need to put a face on deliberate destruction but its actually just another name for destruction, which has been around from the beginning of time. It’s woven into the fabric of the Universe and is as much a part of Nature as is the need to exist. We’ve used the term “Nature is cruel and relentless” to describe it but in actuality it’s not cruel or relentless, they are only human words that describe its destructive aspects.

In the beginning, religious or spiritual thoughts were just questions in need of answers. Ancient man philosophized about Nature and our role within it. We were passionate about our interpretations of it, which became our beliefs about Nature and its inner workings and our place within it. We were for a while in harmony with Nature or should I say considered ourselves part of the Nature World. We held respect for the animals that we hunted and held respect for the mighty forces of Nature as well. But eventually as our cultures evolved so did our emotional minds. Our levels of emotional capacities had reached our present day capabilities. Our intelligence was at its peak and we understood what we were feeling. Of all the emotions we are capable of, Love and Fear are the principle emotions that jumpstarted our search for the Spiritual. Love and Fear had caused us to shift our beliefs away from the Natural World and into a Spiritual one. Nature could no longer give us the answers we hoped were true. It could not console our griefs nor could it dispel our fears, but only add too them the more we were confronted by it. We had grown to cherish our loved ones and couldn’t stand the thought of losing them forever. We could not accept death as our final conclusion. Love was too strong a bond to let go of our loved ones and Fear too strong to let death be the end of us. We were intelligent, conscious, loving and compassionate beings, how could the Natural world be all that is? We asked ourselves. We must have thought that since man was superior to all the other animals then he must be governed by and would suffer the fate of a Superior Nature, The Super Natural.

Our quest for the spiritual is an admirable one but let us not forget why we search for it. Let us not forget that Love and or fear were the roots of our spiritual beliefs.

Love is a feeling an emotion so much a part of who we are that without it we would be lost and vulnerable as a species. It’s as much a part of us as our arms or legs. We love instinctually and desire it wholeheartedly. Love can maintain, transform, and or end ones life. Love is by far the most powerful human and animal emotion that has ever evolved. It has been and continues to be the key to our survival.

Love is just one of many natural emotions that we inherited from our animal ancestors which has helped us survive and evolve as human beings. Without it compassion would not have evolved. Mates that love one another are more likely to survive than those who don’t, because they look out for, care for, protect one another and in some cases give their lives for one another. Children whose parents feel genuine love for them are more likely to survive than those who are not loved by their parents. A form of love also exists in the animal world although some might argue in its more primitive state. An adolescent chimpanzee was so despondent by the death of his mother that he fell into a deep depression and died a month later lethargic and weak. A mother bear will risk her life to defend her cubs from a strange and aggressive male bear. A mother Elephant risked being drowned by mighty floodwaters in a desperate attempt to save her calf caught in a torrential current of floodwaters. Most mothers in the animal kingdom will risk their lives in order to save their offspring. Scientist will say that’s a purely instinctual behavior that animals evolved. They will say that animals protect their offspring because it’s an instinct that has helped them survive. It’s obvious that these behaviors are the roots of the emotion we call love. What about compassion? What advantage is it for a mother rat to adopt newly born kittens and bird chicks? Or for pigs to adopt newly born puppies? What advantage is it to spare the lives of your enemy? And or turn the other cheek when struck? Emotions like love, hate, fear, sadness, compassion, desire, jealousy, etc… have evolved for millions of years, as have biology and culture. They are the reasons we are still alive today and are the key to our future survival. You cannot ignore that animals feel emotions. To what extent we don’t know. We’ve inherited our physical traits as well as our mental and emotional traits from our animal ancestors. We’re not that far above the animal kingdom, we’re only a few genes apart. We’re only two genes apart from a chimpanzee. Just because we’re capable of love and compassion doesn’t mean that we couldn’t have inherited these emotions from our animal ancestors or that they don’t possess these emotions themselves. We are not above Nature. We are part of Nature. Nature is within us. Scientists and people of faith who can’t see this are prejudiced by their own belief that humans are superior or above Nature. Until we accept our humble origins and put our selves back in the Natural World, Intellectual, Social, Cultural and individual progress will be slow coming. Love is not what makes us Human. Love is what makes us Humane.

Our search for the spiritual began with curiosity, which is common in higher animals but with man curiosity lead to a search for knowledge and understanding of the Natural World and ourselves. This knowledge helped us survive in a world full of dangerous and sometimes inhabitable environments. With our new found knowledge also came emotional and cultural awareness, which laid the foundations for our spiritual search. The religious systems and spiritual beliefs and practices that followed, brought man together as a species and has helped us survive and evolve into beings capable of living in huge cities. With all these people living together, cooperating and sharing with one another, the individual gave way to the whole, to the survival of mankind. Although most of us tend to live as individuals and guide our lives for our own purposes and for the ones we love, we are not aware that we are contributing to a larger being. Each new generation adds unwittingly to the larger organism called the Human Race. Our Culture has evolved into a survival mechanism. It’s a glue which holds individuals and communities together. It’s many cultures contributing, changing, and sometimes damaging the bigger Culture of the Human Race, which in turn may ultimately contribute to the Culture of Intelligent beings throughout the Universe.

Environmental conditions, genetic variety, big brain size, Intelligence, knowledge, emotional awareness, spiritual quest, the Human Race, have all contributed and will continue to contribute to the larger picture. Not to Heaven or Hell, nor a supernatural existence but the one true existence which we are all a part of, Nature. Nature is not a religion or a spiritual belief; Nature is all that exists and that which does not exist. Nature is this Universe or Universes and everything within it. Physical laws, gravity, parallel universes, multiple dimensions, dark matter, empty space, dark energy, unexplainable phenomenons are all part of this existence which is the Natural World. I believe everything evolved from one initial chaotic vibration of harmonious Nonexistence or Nothing. Even if this Universe is part of a chain of evolving universes or if it’s one of billions of other universes, they all evolved from the one initial chaotic vibration. How? Chaos theory comes to mind. The concept of Nothingness or Nonexistence has been around for thousands of years. It’s a concept which most people find hard to imagine and almost impossible to explain. It’s the opposite of existence. The question whether true Nothingness has or can ever exist will most likely never be answered but with a little imagination one can imagine it. Can you remember what you were in the time before you were born? Nothing. You’ll be the same when you die, Nothing. Your atoms existed before you were born and will continue to exist after your death but that which makes you a conscious living being will be gone. You will cease to exist. Close your eyes and imagine a solitude so vast, black and eternal. Without light sound or cold. Without anything that we know in existence. Without energy or matter. Take away all, which exists, and that which existed in the past. Take away the cosmos. Take away your mind and the consciousness of the world. Take away the concept of solitude, which cannot exist in the infinite void of nothingness. Nothing, absolutely nothing, no Gods no Demons no Supernatural. Imagine a time before time without time. There are no equations that can describe it. No words no pictures. We can only assign it certain characteristics in order for our minds to imagine it. Let’s assign Nothingness the characteristics of a System. It’s the most basic, simple, homogenous and deterministic of all systems. Chaos theory says that any system can undergo an instant of chaos, or behave chaotically. Anything that is deterministic can behave chaotically. It’s deterministic in that it is and will always be nothing. An infinite void of nothingness with no size, shape, mass, time or dimensions, a perfectly smooth consistently empty expanse, infinitely small and infinitely large, unable to resist loses control to Chaos. Why? Why not? There is no answer to Why? It just is.

Mine is not a spiritual belief but an educated guess, a gut feeling, an intuition. Similar to Super String Theory but with no single unified equation that explains it all, rather chaotic and uncertain and unpredictable. You cannot predict Chaos, you can only make calculated predictions as to how it might or might not unfold in the future. This initial vibration was chaotic and inhomogeneous and interacted with itself. No longer was their nonexistence, but that which exists, that which vibrates. An instant of Chaos was the catalyst for existence. When Nothing shook, it took on form and dimension, even multiple dimensions. Vibrating space-time had come into existence. From the interaction of these vibrations in this primitive space-time came a variety of vibrations and frequencies interacting violently with one another coming together with the help of a primitive or early form of gravity. Collapsing in on its self, vibrations colliding, merging and creating energy. No longer able to resist gravity, collapses into a singularity and explodes into the Big Bang. Individual particles were formed from energy made of vibrations coming together possibly by quantum gravity. Particles that were close to one another distorted Space and let gravity bring them closer, joining them, creating the atom. Countless numbers of atoms coming together so densely packed fused with one another to form stars and heat and light and the elements, exploding and coming together again. Elements came together with the help of gravity to form communities of elements called molecules. Molecules came together again with the help of gravity to form dust and planets and continued to come together to form DNA and cells. Things that came together formed more complicated things. Chaos gave way to order, which gave way to complexity, which gave way to variety. Cells came together to form organisms of cells or communities of cells, which became life forms, which became a variety of life forms. Life forms became species, which came together to form communities of species. Within these complex communities of species arose intelligence and self-awareness. For the first time Nature could experience its own existence. Owing its continued existence to the coming together of its parts from one beginning, from one seed, evolving into everything there is. We are one and interconnected with everything that exists. We all have the same ancestors and the same beginnings. We come from the same seed. We are intelligent individual beings that are part of a much bigger existence. We owe it to our selves and to Nature to work together like the atoms and cells in our bodies do for us. We as intelligent beings need to come together and work towards the benefit of the whole in order for the individual to be possible. As individuals we need to remain true to our individuality while belonging to a community, in doing so the community will synthesize our contributions. Nature encourages the coming together of its parts as it does variety and individuality, which are catalysts for change and adaptability in order to ensure its survival. It’s not intelligent but rather an existence, which has evolved from the some of its parts working together. Other failed Universes in which its parts didn’t come together due to slight differences in size or energy or temperatures were unable to produce stars and atoms and life and just faded away into the vast expanse of empty space.

In Nature no amount of science, religion, philosophy or equations can predict exactly in which direction the individual branches of a tree will grow or whether the tree as a whole will grow in a usual healthy manner. Neither can we predict exactly the way our Universe and our lives will unfold. We can trace our existence back to a single seed like the tree but we can’t predict exactly how that seed will unfold or whether it will survive. With Unification theory, Scientists think that they will be able to predict all that is if they find the one unifying equation. While I think it is an admirable attempt, and much new knowledge will come from it in the future, it likens itself to the quest for the spiritual. It’s a quest for answers, which we want and hope to be true rather than answers that are true, which is what science and philosophy are about. Ultimately we may not understand everything, but we can sure give it a try. Our destiny is not made up for us. We can only direct our lives in a certain direction but we cannot control the outcomes of our attempts. Neither unified physical theory nor ultimate spiritual belief can change the fact that we exist now in the present. They can only be a guide as to how we live now and in the future.

Do we now need to be religious or spiritual in order to be good, wise and moral people?
In the past religions were responsible for instilling morality and codes of conduct on us. Since then Educational systems have evolved in order to teach our children how to survive in the natural world and how to be productive in and tolerated by our society, which is the human world. Laws have evolved in order to enforce codes of conduct, moral and ethical, accepted by the majority and should continue to evolve in order to protect the rights of the individual and the society as a whole. Governments controlled by the majority and not the few and powerful should provide security to all its people by enforcing the laws and should attempt to implement means by which its people can enjoy personal freedom, health, education and the quest for happiness without fear or oppression. It also has the obligation to preserve the Natural World in which we live and be care taker to all it’s inhabitants. Parents and Family should provide education, moral values, love and compassion that promote a healthy mind to develop into a good wise and moral person. Taoism had the right idea in that it showed us that there is a way. The way of Life is an unfolding journey through Nature or Existence with obstacles in our paths and that which will destroy us. We must now choose the right path the right way in order to ensure Natures survival.

For What purpose?

In order to exist and multiply so that future generations of living creatures, intelligent or not, also have the opportunity of enjoying and experiencing what it is to be alive and ultimately conscious. We must treat life as though it were the ultimate experience, not a supernatural life but this life, one full of the potential to be free and happy. The key word is potential. We are not born happy; we are born with the potential to be happy. We have to strive for it. For many, life is too hard or too painful to endure existence, they cannot enjoy life due to many circumstances natural or man made preventing them from doing so. We have a moral obligation to help all enjoy life and to be happy. Our lives have the potential to be Heaven or they have the potential to be Hell. To be alive and conscious is the closest we’ll ever get to Heaven but it can also be a living Hell. Knowing this, I still choose to live.

Yes, I am what the word Atheist means, in that I don’t believe a God or the Supernatural exists. I can’t prove there is no God and I don’t think I should have to disprove what there is no good evidence for. The burden of proof is on those who do believe. If believing in a Divine Creator or the Supernatural can make your life happy and fulfilled, then by all means continue to call yourselves spiritual, but don’t judge others harshly for not believing the same. There are no words that can describe how I feel about this wondrous existence, all I can hope is that these words come close. I’m not spiritual as the word is defined but I do feel a connection to and have a deep respect for everything in the Natural World and my Ethical standards are as high and perhaps higher than the standards of most. I’m not a saint nor am I wise or all knowing. I don’t seek to be different for the sake of being different. I have as many flaws as the rest of us, possibly more. I’ve loved and I’ve lost, I’ve desired and attained and lost again. I have given away and been given to. I’ve hurt and have been hurt. I’ve been idle and self-loathing, drunken and content, lonely and miserable, good and bad. I’ve been sorry and have been forgiven. I’ve been wronged and have forgiven. I’ve been on the edge of insanity and have come close to losing that which I am. But of all the things I’ve been, I’ve never been completely without hope because my will to exist is stronger than all the pain I have ever experienced. When I was seventeen and abandoned my belief in God the only thing that kept me alive was Hope and my will to exist. As much as I loved Marguerite my life would go in a different direction and I had to adapt in order to survive. Since then I have fallen in love again. I loved my ex-wife more than I could imagine, much more than Marguerite and would also suffer the pain of losing her. Pain is a reminder to us all that our lives are headed in the wrong path or have experienced an obstacle in the road. Pain gives us hope that someday the pain will be gone and that we are still alive to feel it. Hope is what gives us strength. Hope is not Faith but an expectation or desire that things might get better if you try really hard to improve your situation and that those you love and your fellow man will be there to help you in your time of need. Hope gives us purpose and direction, to do in life what we could never do in death. To be open minded, compassionate, unselfish, forgiving, curious and loving. To exist, to live, to let live, to enjoy life and to care for those who can't enjoy life, to learn, to create and to contribute, to oppose oppression and fight injustices, to love and to be loved.

Don’t worry about were we go after our deaths but rather how we live this life and live it as though there were no other.

Until it's path is over run with obstacles too great for it to overcome,

A flame will burn everything in its path if only to exist a while longer:

As does the Universe burn the boundaries of nonexistence,

Until nonexistence finds its way in and slowly consumes the fire,

The expanding fire, from within and from without.

We live in the mist of an ancient battle between existence and nonexistence. We are one of the results of this battle. Without Nonexistence, there would be no Existence and without Existence, Nonexistence has no purpose. It’s this battle between these opposites, in which one destroys the other, which is the creator of us all. Destruction and Creation are intertwined with one another. It’s sad, but I believe it to be true. We must accept our personal inevitability and do everything in our power to prolong and enjoy our time and ensure that Life and Existence does not lose the battle.