A student once asked the Oxford biologist and outspoken Atheist, Richard Dawkins, the question, “what if you’re wrong?” The question was related to his unapologetic non-belief in a god. A video of Dawkins’ response subsequently went viral – racking up more than four million views on Youtube to date…
“Well, what if I’m wrong? I mean anybody could be wrong. We could all be wrong about the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Pink Unicorn and the flying teapot. You happen to have been brought up, I would presume, in the Christian faith. You know what it’s like to not believe in a particular faith because you’re not a Muslim. You’re not a Hindu. Why aren’t you a Hindu? Because you happen to have been brought up in America, not in India.
If you had of been brought up in India, you’d be a Hindu. If you had been brought up in Denmark in the time of the Vikings you’d be believing in Wotan and Thor. If you were brought up in classical Greece you’d be believing in Zeus. If you were brought up in central Africa you’d be believing in the great Juju up the mountain.
There’s no particular reason to pick on the Judeo-Christian god, in which by the sheerest accident you happen to have been brought up and ask me the question, ‘What if I’m wrong?’ What if you’re wrong about the great Juju at the bottom of the sea?”
Let’s face it, people – religious or otherwise – can disagree about pretty much everything. In particular, people disagree about who or what God is, or whether there even is such a thing as a god; who humans are, where we come from, where the human soul goes after the body dies… or whether there even is such a thing as a soul. And often times, people presume that the truth they concocted or received from their culture – in their corner of the universe – is the one and only truth, which assumes a kind of arrogance that wasn’t lost to Dawkins.
So, in that spirit I’m going to tell you what I think… just in case you were asking…
At this point in my life, I’m pretty much agnostic about all of the above, and not in an apathetic or nihilistic kind of way. I just don’t think it matters. I think the fact that we are here and that we are alive in this moment, is incredible either way. Whether a creator god or higher intelligence willed the universe into existence, or whether it was the result of a complex evolutionary process… it’s fucking incredible.
The fact that there is life on this tiny speck of dust floating through an unimaginably large universe is thé greatest miracle, regardless of how this came to be. This might seem like a frivolous point to make – like I’m stating the obvious – but perhaps the very fact that it is so obvious is why we so often take it for granted. Maybe life itself is what we should worship with reverence and awe, and serve with all our hearts. Life is the light of the world, because without it, there would be no world. Life is the creative force that animates the world into existence. It is the Alpha and the Omega, because alive is the first thing you are when you enter the world – before any other label has been put onto you – and it is the last thing you are when your final breath leaves you. And in the end, only your own life will judge you and hold you accountable for how you lived it.
Life is the one thing that is most true of all of us, yet in it’s obviousness, it evades us. What if we’re searching for God “out there”, when God has been hiding in plain-sight all along… within our very own breath?
You can deny the existence of Yahweh and Jesus; Allah and Muhammad; Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva or the flying spaghetti monster for that matter. But one thing you cannot deny is your own life. Instead of being divided by all the things we don’t agree about; why don’t we start with the one thing we can agree about. Instead of revering a God “out there”, maybe we should revere the life within ourselves and others. Maybe this is the one truth every religion could affirm.