My uncle recently told me, “When you spend time in business, you learn to be disappointed in people. But that's okay,” he said, “because we have faith in something greater than man.”
Well, I don't. I'm an atheist.
Every day I’m frustrated by the failings of other human beings. My frustration is all-encompassing specifically because I don’t believe there is more to this world than what humans can accomplish. If I can't have faith in humans, the paragon of animals, the apex of evolution, the master of the known universe, then we're just pretty much fucked. In that case, what is the point of trying? It is a most depressing thought.
Man invented religion because he had no faith in himself. Man has been disappointing man since the beginning of time. We needed the concept of a god to represent the perfection we will never achieve.
I admire the fact that, while you and I struggle to find meaning and purpose in our little lives, some ancient genius invented an entire religion to provide a diversion that would keep us sane in the face of self-doubt.
I don’t know how to feel about this. Are humans universal losers and not worthy of faith? Or should we decide that disappointment is the natural state of affairs, to be endured with enlightenment?
I think that’s why people love the thought of an apocalypse. We can’t seem to fix this machine called "human". Even when we see improvements, they’re glacial. An apocalypse is the biblical version of throwing the hammer at the wall and shouting, “Well, then, fuck it.” Those who ascribe to this notion think we’d be keeping the “good ones”. The irony is, no one can agree on who “the good ones” are! Each group finds disappointment in the other.
Should we pray to some god to sort it out? I don't know. I never found comfort in the idea that somebody else would step in to solve my problems. If someone else has to step in, that means I’ve failed. Life is my job. It’s up to me to keep trying until I get it right, even if that means I’m going to have to live a long, long time.
Interestingly, scientific advances lead to an increase in atheists, which might indicate a general increase in faith in man. Or, more succinctly, more faith in scientists. Non-scientists, especially those who eschew the scientific method for “common sense” and “faith”, continually disappoint. That said, scientists are only marginally better. Rocket scientists can be annoying. I know one. He can be.
I wish impersonal, rational self-improvement were more widely accepted. I wish it preceded attempts to correct others. Maybe we could accomplish something as a species.
Until then, I just have to try harder to be a better human being so there's one less asshole in the world. While he may or may not have used those words, that's probably all Jesus ever wanted from us in the first place.