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The Magic of Reality: So Simple Even a Teenager Could Understand It
The stars, they shine, but they do not shine for you. They shine for the universe, to keep the planets (you know, those really big hunks of rock) flying around the sun. The big, burning ball of gases that threatens skin cancer, the ones that little kids wish on.
I’m an atheist in a world full of Christians. Especially in high school, if you ask your average teenager what they believe in, they’ll likely give you one of two responses.
“God. God, God, God. I love me some Jesus.”
“Who the hell cares, dude. YOLO!”
Very few people put in the effort to actually understand what religion means, what science means, and what atheism really is.
Look up at the stars. Billions upon billions of years ago, they were in a very hot, very dense mass. Think of it like a whole lot of coal thrown on the grill, except the coal is billions of times hotter and filled with subatomic particles. So really, not coal at all. An explosion, the Big Bang, set off the expansion of the universe, an expansion that continues to this day. The very first elements -- hydrogen, helium, lithum, all the elements at the top of that periodic table you half-memorized. The larger, more complex elements developed with more time. Now, keep in mind that this whole process takes place over billions and billions of years.
Earth when it’s first born is not filled with trees and parks and waterfalls. It’s an angry, lava-filled planet that we could not even imagine. It is likely that at this point, the moon was taken into our orbit -- it could have once been an asteroid that hit the fledgling Earth, taking with it some mass that built the moon we have today, or it was part of the Earth that fell apart and was taken into orbit. Regardless, it’s a pretty lucky thing that it did. The oceans thank it.
Now, the Earth begins to settle. Elements begin to form, as well as the most important one of all -- carbon! Yes, that element added into polyatomic ions that gave all of them a 2- charge. We are all carbon-based lifeforms. Everything that lives, will live, or has lived has carbon to thank for that. Our atmosphere began to slowly develop due to the primordial soup of elements and extreme heat, cooking up a hot steaming batch of life.
We are in exactly the right spot to foster the development of life. A mere foot further or closer to the sun, and we’d be toast or ice cubes before those first amoebas even developed. The “Goldilocks” planet -- just right.
The miracle of life! This wonderful primordial soup eventually became oceans. Pangea, the massive supercontinent from which we all hail, developed as well. Again, this took an incredibly long amount of time, so massive our little human brains cannot even begin to perceive it. Around, oh, four billion years ago, the first little amoeba developed from this mass of chemicals. Slowly and slowly we began to climb up Mount Improbable -- that is, the massively improbable chance that any of us would ever come to exist -- with that little one-celled organism. The biology of evolution is endlessly complex and equally fascinating. Many, many books have been written on the topic.
Billions of years later, we end up with the various members of the homo genus, the most notable of which are the homo sapiens (that’s us! It means “thinking man,” due to our ability to problem solve and all that jazz.) Of course, there’s the slightly important Neanderthals, and the homo erectus. Trust me, it’s not a sex joke. The Neanderthals beat out the homo erectus with reproducing. Homo erectus died out. After some significant neurological evolution as well as physical -- unless you’re very tall, very hairy, and have an incredibly large skull, which does describe some people I know -- the homo sapien developed! Yay us for surviving that very, very slow trip up Mount Improbable. And, even cooler, we’re all still evolving! Right now, there’s someone who is just slightly more evolved, and in another four billion years, who knows what could happen? I personally think flight would be pretty cool.
I think that evolution is not just beautiful from a scientific standpoint, but from a poetic one as well. It really does make you think -- we are the products of four BILLION years of evolution. We are the absolute best that nature has to offer right now.
And then there’s creationism, or intelligent design as I suppose it’s called now. It’s the exact same thing. There’s an all-powerful God that said the universe, the Earth, and all of its population would be and then it was. End of story. Instead of slowly inching your way up Mount Improbable, you jump, leap up the side. Of course, this has several intrinsic flaws.
First, to create beings so complex as the homo sapien, there would need to be a creator that is infinitely more complex. Following this logic, the creator would himself need to be created by something even more complicated and unlikely.
Two, fossil records. Unless God’s an enormous troll, dropping dinosaur bones in disturbingly sensical pattens just to screw with mankind’s sense of curiosity.
Three, logic. When it comes to sky wizard versus mutated DNA, I’d take the mutated DNA any day.
The universe is full of wonder. Science enhances that wonder instead of crushing it with fear as religion does. Religion is a means of controlling people with the most intrinsic fear of our species -- the fear of death.
We are the only species that keeps time. Likewise, we are the only species that fears running out of it.
Evolution is just one of the many, many amazing things that science explains. A world of logic and skepticism is a beautiful one indeed.
Simply look up at the stars. Think of where they’ve come from, what they’ve seen. We humans are as inconsequential as dust. You, Kate. You, Josh. You, Aaron. We will all live. We will all die. We will all be forgotten.
Do not live your life in vain. The universe’s beauty is yours to explore. Free yourself from the shackles of religion. Open your mind and the truth will set you free.