Believing in Nothing Is Really Something

Why believing in nothing has not left a void in my life.

I am a non-believer. I have always been that way, and although there have been times when I was uncomfortable with my status as one who does not worship a god, I am very comfortable with the way I am now: a 42-year-old with a husband, two kids, a dog, and no religion.

I identify myself as nothing. I could say I’m an atheist, bright, or secular humanist, but the word “nothing” seems the best way to describe me, and I like the irony associated with it. More importantly it reflects my sense of wonder and openness to opportunities rather than an adherence to the principles of some “ism.” For example, when people ask me what I’m doing next weekend, I say “nothing” with a pleasant expression because it means I can do whatever comes my way. I look forward to nothing; nothing is openness to the future’s wondrous possibilities.

Religion may be a convenient tool for marketing morality, but it is certainly not the only way kids learn right from wrong.

Even though there is no void in my life, I am frequently asked how I can teach my children right from wrong without religion. I answer that children learn from their parents, other adults, and the larger community by watching, listening, and imitating what they see. I fail to see how religion teaches good values, especially when so many of the myths seem violent, cruel, and immoral. Religion may be a convenient tool for marketing morality, but it is certainly not the only way kids learn right from wrong.

Religion reinforces moral standards by telling believers that “God is watching . . . ” and will punish them. But my children do not need to think that there is a god watching them, because they are fully aware that their parents and community are keeping eyes on them. And we’re not just watching them, we’re watching out for them in a way no god ever could.

As for what my kinds think — recently, my 12-year-old daughter told me that “being nothing doesn’t mean I have to not believe, it means I get to choose what I want to believe.”

We were on the beach in Costa Rica a few years ago (my son was seven) when he turned to me and asked, “Where did all this stuff come from?”

He still wonders where the beach and the sand and the sky came from. So do I, and hopefully we will never know all the answers.

“Some people think it came from god,” was how I started my answer. He interrupted me to say, “Well, even if god did make all this, he is dead now.” I marveled at his confidence, at his unwavering curiosity in why and how and his refusal to accept mythology for answers. But his question was left unanswered, and he still wonders where the beach and the sand and the sky came from. So do I, and hopefully we will never know all the answers.

What I do know is that I won’t take shortcuts to life’s difficult questions, and explain away life’s mysteries by saying they came from god. God can only close the discussion and end the questioning, while nothing invites the next question. Let the dialogue continue.

Image courtesy of Angelina Odemchuk.

Nica Lalli
Written by

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Nica Lalli,Ever since I retired, when people ask me what I’m doing in retirement, I always answer, “Nothing”.That’s my answer for pretty much the same reason it’s your answer.It always sets the questioner back. S/he never knows what to say next. It’s quite fun.Best wishes.

  • Anonymous

    I suspect that, much like your children, you thought you had the answers at a very young age. This is the only thing that could possibly explain your view of religion (“shortcuts,” “explain away”).I urge you to consider actually looking for some answers. This means thkning and reading arguments, not looking for books with comforting quotes. Faith based on (or rejected because of) the musings of a 12 year old or the cute observations of a 7 year old are (or our own sudden insights) should be considered questionable. Do some reading. Examine actual intellectual proofs. Be suspicious of your feelings. Believing or disbelieving that something is true or false just because it “feels” true or false is a sloppy way to live, and it’s one of the things we should seek to slowly purge from our children. Basing your view of reality on your “feelings” or is tricky. Feelings change; logic does not.

  • travis

    I used to pray every night and read the Bible. I used to have that warm fuzzy feeling in my gut. But I realized that I could get that feeling just from being a good person and helping people. It took me till age 25 to finally question my “faith”. But now that I have let it go, it has been much easier to live my life. I understand that many people are so weak that they need the fear of “hell” to keep them in line. Not me– being right just feels right. I have no idea what will happen to me when I die. But I have already decided that donating my body to science would be the most logical and moral thing to do. I don’t need lots of people gathered around me wasting money on a coffin and flowers and praying! I’m not that selfish!

  • Fallucination

    This reminds me of a koan:What is better than something? Nothing.Or:What is better than some thing?No thing.It’s why I stopped calling myself a Zen Buddhist.

  • Fallucination

    This reminds me of a koan:What is than something? Nothing.Or:What is better than some thing?No thing.It’s why I stopped calling myself a Zen Buddhist.

  • Julius O

    Ah, to each his own. But alas, this is not good enough for some people. Why? This is truly a personal and individual choice, and too many people, such as the anonymous poster, are incapable of accepting it without judging you as wrong. It is naïve and ignorant for anyone to urge another to look for answers. These people do not know what an answer is. How do you debate someone who can’t distinguish fact from fantasy? And why does our security in our beliefs against religion illicit insecurity in those who claim to believe?I’m starting to think that it indeed is not good enough for us to live and let live — to choose not to observe anything and to leave those who do to do as they wish. Because religion isn’t harmless. It’s dangerous and no one can name anything in world history that hasn’t caused so much death, misery and destruction as religion has. (incidentally, every time I bring this up, someone counters with the pretty churches and paintings religion has inspired. I’d trade those in for war and hate any day). I urge those who have this ridiculous belief in their organized religion to snap out of it. Your obstinate beliefs are profoundly offensive to the advancement of our society. Think about it logically, if you could. Think about how frequently you try to conform and reshape common sense to fit in with beliefs derived from men without the thousands of years of wisdom and intelligence we have gained. Why must you throw away all of that collective intelligence? Think for yourself. The vast majority of the religious are only religious because they have been trained to be so since they were born. Two things are obvious over the course of human history. The overall worldwide belief in religion has decreased and the overall respect and value for human life has increased. No coincidence. Religion has always and continues to thwart the advancement of a better society. It’s such a shame that so many people are incapable of having faith or spirituality without being indoctrinated from birth. Renounce religion. Embrace love. Some say the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. But it wasn’t. It was convincing the world he was God.

  • E Favorite

    Julius O – I really enjoyed your post, Thanks.The next time “someone counters with the pretty churches and paintings religion has inspired” consider telling them that beautiful art comes from humanity – anything can inspire it. Human talent is required to express it. Did you know that Brahms and Verdi – composers of some of the most beautiful, stirring chuch music – were atheists? I just found that out. Of course they also composed secular music that was just as good — simply because they were incredibly talented.

  • Rob Adams

    I guess the only reason I would suggest that people question or continue to look at their beliefs that definition of God or life or death or whatever you are looking at is worthy of investigation.Nica says “God can only close the discussion and end the questioning, while nothing invites the next question.” I would argue that would depend on your definition of God. If you are using religion to define God then yes you could be closing the discussion. This would depend on how one uses their religion.It is not God who closes the discussion, but man by his limited definition of God. In my opinion God is more than the little man in the Wizard of Oz standing behind the cosmic machine. I see God as both the creator and the created. Even if you see God as just the creator, he never stops creating. The universe continues to change and evolve. Our definition of God should continue to evolve.Here is why I disagree with Nica’s statement. Questions are creative, answers are not. Hence if we have ‘the answer’ on God then we are done with the discussion. But you can never ask all the questions.

  • E favorite

    Nica — I really enjoyed your essay too!It makes so much sense. It’s so simple. I hope a lot of people with doubts about their religion with read this and realize that discarding supernatural beliefs would be easier than holding on to them.

  • Mike in Blacksburg

    I like “irrelevantist” better. I do not have any religious faith or any religious beliefs. With the exceptions that 1) religion is interesting, 2) that religion is a force in the world, and 3) that it is odd to me that people would believe such strange ideas, religion is irrelevant to me. I am a regular happy guy who has no need or desire for any “spiritual” experiences or faith or belief or any of that. Happy to be just what I am. And I it does not matter to me if anybody wants to share that orientation or not.

  • Paganplace

    Norrie, Dag, but this is good:”Ever since I retired, when people ask me what I’m doing in retirement, I always answer, “Nothing”.”Of all the questions in the world, that one catches me flatfooted every time. “What do you do?” *blinkblink.* I mean, it’s mostly a communication gap and a matter of assumed standards, but I do hem and haw. :) There’s a word for ‘retired,’ ..not so much one for ‘Being unexpectedly-still-alive.’ :)”Nothing.” That’s a good one. :)

  • janet

    This has been my favorite essay so far on the On Faith discussion. Instead of all the pious statements of all knowing from the other essayists, Ms Lalli quite comfortably admits she knows nothing. Too bad other people cannot admit how unknowing they really are about the mysteries of life.

  • Bill L

    Wow, a nothing! People are now celebrating having their heads in the sand and being nothing? Talk about the dumbing down of America.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    But there is something called “knowing less than nothing about anything”. The bible and koran literalists/”blind faithers”/”black holers” would be in that category.

  • janet

    to Bill L: Having one’s head in the sand and admitting one’s ignorance are two totally different things. Likewise being dumb and admitting the limits of what one actually knows, are two different things. Perhaps the ignorant people are the people who think they really know what the life here on this planet and in the universe, is all about. Religious people might think they know, but they are as ignorant as everyone else. They just pretend to be wise and knowing.

  • Jason

    I beleive in “something.” I stand for “something.” “Somethings” are critical and require effort and passion. My faith is “something” and that moves me to be better each day. It gives me direction and hope. I wish everyone had “something.”

  • Paganplace

    Sure, Jason, there’s, well, just something about ‘nothing.’ It’s really something. :)

  • yoyo

    It’s refreshing to read of an American mom who really does go her own way.Good for you.

  • Maurie Beck

    Nica Lalli’s essay reminds me of an old joke.A priest and a rabbi are talking in the priest’s church. Bill and Morty are obviously old friends and are in one of their weekly get-togethers, sharing stories and each others’ company. The only other person in the church is a janitor who is casually eavesdropping. The priest is talking about all the Latinos in his church and how he has tried to help some of them who are illegal immigrants with INS problems. He is obviously really concerned with these people. The rabbi looks in the priest’s eyes, commends his friend, and heaps praise on him about his selfless behavior and how he is a very important person in the community. The priest grins a little sheepishly, and then says, “Really Morty, it’s nothing. In fact I am nothing.” The rabbi nods his head, pats his friend on the back in an affectionate gesture, knowing how modest and warm hearted Bill really is. The janitor, overhearing all of this, looks on with increasing admiration at the two of them, and thinks how they are really just regular sorts of guys. The priest then continues, “Besides, look at all the things you’ve done, getting some of those rich fellas in your synagogue to spring for the new AID’s wing at Cedar’s Sinai. You’re the one really doing God’s work.” Not to be outdone, Morty gently protests, saying, “Thanks, Bill, but getting rich old cockers to part with some of their money is nothing compared with helping poor Guatemalans with government problems. It’s nice to be able to do a little something, but I’m really nothing.” Bill looks at Morty and says magnanimously, “Well, really, in the great scheme of things we’re both nothing.” As the two smile and nod at each other at the truth of that statement, the janitor, feeling overwhelmed with emotion, comes over carrying his broom and dustpan, and says, “’Scuse me. I was listn’n to ya talkin’. I just want to say I never really thought of it that way, but I’m nothin’ too.” The priest and rabbi slowly look up and down at the janitor in dirty coveralls, then Morty turns to Bill and says, “Look who thinks he’s nothing?”

  • Norman M Trabulsy Jr.

    I like Nica’s perspective. I’d live next to her and her family anytime. As for religious people such as Anonymous who believes they are an intellectual with the right to criticize others spirituality, I’d classify them as losers of the first degree.

  • Mike Dishnow

    I am a 63 year old raised in a liberal Catholic household. Yes, I said “liberal.” My father’s greatest gift to me as a child was to allow questioning of religious teachings and dogma and to encourage me to think for myself. He always said he found it encouraging when things were tough to think that “someone up there” was looking out for him. He was a believer — but told me I would have to reason these issues out for myself.Through my personal experiences, education, and reading over the years, I have reached the conclusion that there is neither God nor Gods up there. I believe that man has created God in his image, not the other way around.I have given my children the same gift that my father gave to me, the freedom to examine the evidence and make up their own minds about religious and philosophical questions. None has ever disparaged me for that, nor do they all share my conclusions. I belief I have given them no greater gift than this. I hope they will continue this family tradition.

  • Mike Dishnow

    I am a 63 year old raised in a liberal Catholic household. Yes, I said “liberal.” My father’s greatest gift to me as a child was to allow questioning of religious teachings and dogma and to encourage me to think for myself. He always said he found it encouraging when things were tough to think that “someone up there” was looking out for him. He was a believer — but told me I would have to reason these issues out for myself.Through my personal experiences, education, and reading over the years, I have reached the conclusion that there is neither God nor Gods up there. I believe that man has created God in his image, not the other way around.I have given my children the same gift that my father gave to me, the freedom to examine the evidence and make up their own minds about religious and philosophical questions. None has ever disparaged me for that, nor do they all share my conclusions. I belief I have given them no greater gift than this. I hope they will continue this family tradition.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear Ms LalliSo is being “nothing” an elite qualification and those of us who believe in something (God) are somehow unsophisticated and dull witted in comparison to the “nothings” (atheists)?In 1984, as a young woman I visited a tribal village in India. Until the Catholic nuns arrived, the tribe had lived in the forest out of the Hindu religious fold, and time seemed to have stood still for them at about 4500 BC perhaps. Their level of identifying themselves as “nothing” was far greater than your level of identifying yourself as nothing. I am sure I can identify myself as nothing in respect to many things in which you identify yourself as something. But does my state of nothingness or the nothingness of the tribals in itself constitute some special state?On what basis do some atheists imply that those of us who believe in God automatically stop believing in science, automatically lose the sense of wonder and mystery of the world we believe God created? Do believers become close minded about the future and its wondrous possibilities? Believers are far more ambitious than atheists: We feel a compulsion to know what was before the Big Bang and what comes after death. Does that smack of close mindedness about the future and its wondrous possibilities? In my opinion it is indicative of an instinctive and intuitive perception of infinity. The values that children can learn from their parents, other adults, and the larger community and imitating those by watching, listening and imitating what they see is the best way to achieving the highest possible moral standard? Parents and community keep watch over the morals of children and all adults and one needs nothing further as guide?I trust you are not an abusive parent. But many adults can attest to experiences in childhood at the hands of parents who were anything but paragons of virtue and role models worth imitating. Many children in fact need to be rescued from some “role model” parents in order to survive and have a chance to develop normally. As to society and community as role models and guardians of virtue, which community and society are we talking about: The society of the tribals I visited in 1984, the society of dictatorships, the society that gives a free pass for the powerful, rich and privileged? Does any religion you know about teach that parents and the society have no role to play and God sends angels to look after little children to protect them and teach them what they need to know? Your seven year old son still wonders where the sand, beach and sky came from and your state of nothingness had no real answer for him. Does the lack of an answer somehow signify the best answer and an intellectual sophistication that a simple belief in God as Creator of the universe wouldn’t? You have drawn the conclusion that belief in God suddenly shuts the door on all mysteries of life, answers all of life’s difficult questions and closes discussion and ends all questioning. Can you claim to know the inner lives of many believers? Does nothingness in itself, and the wish we will never know all the answers define intellectual sophistication? Do you honestly believe that those of us who struggle to find answers to mysteries in life, despite our belief in God, are somehow not getting it, when a simple wish and satisfaction at never wanting to know would “solve” the problem?I agree that you seem to know nothing about what real religion is about.Soja John Thaikattil

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Dear Nica,I noted two statements worthy of note — Your authorship of the book “Nothing — Something To Believe In”, and your sense of wonder at the smartnes and sense of confidence of your 12-year-old son that “even if god created all this ‘stuff’, he is dead now.NOTHING? No doubt, you read the entry under “Nothing” in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy? It is far and away the best prose that has EVER been written in the English language, both in terms of its scientific content and the syntax used to express that content. No doubt you have also read John D. Barrow’s great scientific work “The Book of Nothing”? No doubt you have read the article on “The Complexity of Nothing” in the latest (June 2007) issue of Discovery Magazine?Before you take on at least the 1.2 billion Muslim believers and practitioners of their faith (I shall leave aside the other nearly 2 billion Christians, 800 million Hindus and 1.5 billion agnostics), I suggest you at least gather some information on what their God concept is.You will not know what NOTHING is until you have read all the works I have cited above, and even then you will, if you are as smart as you think your twelve-year old is, have the humility, like John D. Barrow who received the latest award of the Templeton Foundation prize on Science and Religion, to be awed at least into agnosticism, if not become a Muslim like me.

  • gary

    all we can hope is she doesn’t decide murder and mayhem sound like fun.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    1.2 billion Muslims, 2 billion Christians? Why? Because they were born Muslim and Christian and don’t know any better.

  • sineater

    As a lifelong ‘nothing’ and a mature adult I have gotten to the point where I cannot help but laugh (actually) when Christians tell me that there can be no morality without faith. My whole life I have witnessed and not seen this morality that they speak of, rather I have seen and experienced the opposite. My motto now is that good people do bad things and as I struggle to get along in this world I hope their religion does not call for me or my family to be killed in the name of religion. I have no big hole that needs filled although life has never been easy.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    CONCERNED THE CHRISTIAN NOW LIBERATED, SINEATER,I must admit that, in the course of history, yes, there have been terrible crimes committed in the name of religion (all religions).Even today, astounding crimes against humanity are committed (illegal wars, genocides, abuse of power such as the Pope’s ruling that the Catholic Church will not permit the use of condoms, even as a means of fighting AIDS or allow abortion even to those Bosniac women who became pregnant as a result of rape by Serbian soldiers, eic.). There are people whose sense of morality drives them to participate in anti-war vigils, to write petitions to the Vatican, to oppose the absolutist clerics (Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.), one protestor in Chicago went so far as to self-immolate, I myself have paticipated in various marches, in several places in the world (e.g. in an antiwar march in London England, in the marches organised in Durban in August 2001 in the context of the World Conference Against Racism to protest both the violence inflicted on catholic school children in Ireland by by Loyalist protestants and the massacres regularly committed by Israel in Palestinina territories, etc.).What I would like to know from you is: has your ‘godless’ morality pricked your conscience enough, so far, to get you to do your share to promote the Peace Movement?

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Mohamed,I have participated in the March for Life in Washington for many years. I have written countless letters and signed many petitions in an effort to stop the horror of abortion. On the other hand, I fully supported the Gulf War to recover Kuwait and the current war against the forces of fanatic Islam.

  • jwest

    Bill L

  • Rev.Dr. Willis E. Elliott

    Every civiliation has parasites who benefit from its virtues but contribute “nothing” to it. Christian civilization is outstanding for its absorptive ability to tolerate parasitism: Jesus tells us Christians to love everybody, even our enemies.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    CONCERNED THE CHRISTIAN NOW LIBERATED,I am sure that Nica Lalli and the other panelists appreciate at its just value your sense of ‘godless’ morality.

  • Kalidas

    Lo Soja,Yep, you are not getting it! Religion which includes accepting considerable “givens” as absolute TRUTH may be a barrier. Keep up the search, the journey is the “thing”; and I believe that religion is one load you do no need.Kalidas

  • 4th watch

    Mrs. Lalli

  • JJ

    Att: 4th watch, et al; I think you have a 5th Eye on the Dimensionals of the Have & have nots! Both financial & Spiritual so to Speaketh. ya!

  • Richard

    ” Rev.Dr. Willis E. Elliott:Every civiliation has parasites who benefit from its virtues but contribute “nothing” to it. Christian civilization is outstanding for its absorptive ability to tolerate parasitism”Pretty ugly, what you put down there. Reminds me of the folks 70 years back, that also were talking about “human parasites”Doesn’t sound very Christian, Rev., even though you pretend to love here. Not very Christian, q.e.d.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Kalidas:You don’t get it either. I’m sure there are a million things in your life you take for granted, without the kind of rigourous proof YOU say a person of faith needs to have before believing in God. Keep up your search Kalidas and remember to speak only for yourself. If religion is one load you don’t need, PLEASE don’t take it up.

  • John M.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that people who believe the world and everything in it came from nothing, and that the meaning of life is nothing, and that after this life there is nothing, would eventually actually begin to worship nothing. I’d be laughing if it weren’t so tragic.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Many posters keep citing the Templeton Prize as if were a kind of holy grail that validates the thinking of whomever it is awarded to.This is from Wikipedia under the entry “Templeton Prize”:’Criticism’Atheists, agnostics and rationalists have criticized the prize.’The prize has been criticized by Richard Dawkins, a British ethologist and atheist, who labeled it “a very large sum of money given (…) usually to a scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religion” (Dawkins 2006). Dawkins criticized the prize explicitly or more implicitly throughout his book The God Delusion.’Sean M. Carroll, a senior research associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, also criticized the prize.[1]‘

  • Norrie Hoyt

    In Buddhism, a true perception of “nothing”, “nothingness”, and “emptiness” is a necessary prerequisite to attaining realization and enlightenment.

  • analyst

    Nica, Like you, I see no evidence for an all powerful being, as described in the Bible. That does not mean I beleive in NOTHING!!! Everyone’s moral system is based on a set of philosophies. Religion is a subset of those philosophies that posits the existance of a God. Religion is subdivided into thousands of sects — even within Christianity — that have varying moral dictates that are based on fundamentalism (with emphasis on authority and obedience, not individual value) to humanism (extols the value of all humans) I believe in a humanistic philosophy (without a belief in God) that is predicated on being a good person and making the world a better place for everyone. I think it makes me a far stronger moralist than most Christians. Take the bumper sticker I see a lot: “God bless America.” Does that mean these theists don’t care for the rest of the world? I see the same with their actions. Even more interesting, I have noticed I cared more about the poor and making a better world for future generations — than I did when I was very religious. The reason, I couldn’t just slough this off as “God’s problem,” any more. I consider my morality MORE advanced, not less advanced than most of my religious counterparts for the above reasons. But I definitely believe in SOMETHING — the God part is not necessary for my morals. (more of this next.)

  • truthseeker

    Hi Travis,”I used to pray every night and read the Bible. I used to have that warm fuzzy feeling in my gut. But I realized that I could get that feeling just from being a good person and helping people.”I had the same experience. In my twenties I had undergone a search to find the truth — I would have preferred there to be a God — but I did not want to follow superstition. I remember my exerience at the moment I realized the bible was completely based on superstition. My first thought was that I was supposed to now be a wild, immoral person (as they taught me this in my Sunday School). I checked in with myself. Nope, I had always been a goody twoshoes before– no alcohol, drugs, sexual affairs, wild parties, etc — and I had zero desire to change. (Nor have I in the next thirty years since.)I next was suprised to find myself relieved there was no God. Why? Because it meant that all the hardship and suffering in the world was not caused by a God — it was just random happenings. I was very suprised at this feeling of relief, because I had obviously suppressed this. I love superhero stories (Spiderman, Superman, etc) and wished there was a divine superhero up there that helped good people. Superheroes would not sit back and let people suffer on purpose — as God would have to though– One has to ignore this to keep the religious fantasy thing going… I wanted to know the truth….wherever it took me. Last, I remember thinking I might never experience spiritual feelings again– the tingling you refer to. I looked up at the beautiful sky and realized the electrical tingling was as strong as ever. It was based on experiencing beauty — and it was all within me.I do find it would be nice to believe everyone floats into a heaven when they die. But, I really don’t want to believe it if it’s not true. I see evidence every day that religious people are the ones most “suckered” by politicians etc. Looks at how religious people have empowered George Bush to do such evil in Iraq. Religious people care the least what terrible suffering this has unleashed. They are also the ones MOST AFRAID of dying seems to me.I visualize myself in the present, although I know I will lay down with some of my heroes when I die — Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire, Carl Sagan… and many more. I prefer being honest and knowing the truth in the present. I prefer doing good in the short time I have on earth. Being religious detracts from this. For that reason, I am very happy to have lost the religious faith of my childhood.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear Norrie HoytYou wrote, “Many posters keep citing the Templeton Prize as if were a kind of holy grail that validates the thinking of whomever it is awarded to.” You wrote, “In Buddhism, a true perception of “nothing”, “nothingness”, and “emptiness” is a necessary prerequisite to attaining realization and enlightenment.”The concept of “Shunyata” or Emptiness of Buddhism as I understand it, is quite different to the concept of nothingness from the atheistic perspective that is being discussed on this thread. The Void of Buddhism is a fullness that is merely empty of man made concepts and man made images, not an unqualified non existence that atheism is about. If Buddhism and atheism were the same, Buddhism would not be a religion; it would be mere atheistic philosophy. Best,

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Truthseeker:It is good that you have given up YOUR concept of God and religion. But that still leaves the real God and real religion safely intact.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Norrie Hoyt,Unfortunately for Richard Dawkins whom I respect a lot, his criticism of the Templeton Prize and its award to first-rate scientists as eminent as him if not more (such as Freeman Dyson and John D. Barrow) smacks of envy. Not a very moral trait, I would say, whether from a Quranic, Biblical, Humanist, or agnostic point of view.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Dear All,Allow me to make this ‘meta’ point about absolute NOTHING.What could absolute NOTHING mean. We have been told, quite convincingly, that what is inside the vacuum is not NOTHING; it is only a spaca from which, using the methods of physics, all sorts of particles have been taken out from an encasement. But, even if all these particles were EVERYTHING, the vacuum would not be ABSOLUTE NOTHING, because the encasement is SOMETHING.What then is absolute NOTHING? To even conceive the question we need consciousness, which is SOMETHING. So NOTHING is a paradox that cannot be resolved, even by using the infinite regress method.

  • TDAY

    Those who do not recognize the fact that we are wonderfully made human beings (even a robot doenst and cannot come together by chance) with an incredible potential beyond all we know that exists around us, even in the whole universe………know nothing.

  • Dick R.

    Nica:As a fellow non-believer I enjoyed your article. I did, however, find the sentiment “…. hopefully we will never know all the answers” odd. Why would you not want you and your children to understand the beach? In fact we have a pretty good idea of how the beach got there and the way it happened is pretty awe inspiring; much more so than any mythological explanations. We don’t know all the answers but we sure would like to and science is a lot better way to find them than religion.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Nica -I get the point of your article, but the real deal is that atheists believe in lots of things, just not god. Non-belief may define us to the believing world, but it doesn’t define us to ourselves, anymore than a religionist’s non-belief in all but one god defines them as being one god short of being an atheist

  • Paganplace

    ” TDAY:Those who do not recognize the fact that we are wonderfully made human beings (even a robot doenst and cannot come together by chance) with an incredible potential beyond all we know that exists around us, even in the whole universe………know nothing.”Some people are comfortable with the idea that they ‘know nothing.’ Some even seek to know Nothing. :)I think the problems with your attitude, Tday, come when you take ‘Wonderfully made’ as “Engineered by a humanlike intelligence as portrayed in this book with a falsifiable and falsified timescale and order to the process.”Your idea of “They know nothing” seems to usually imply that you “know something” Or speak for something that’s the only ‘real’ answer, when it’s not. I mean, hey, sometimes I’ll say ‘made’ …but not in the sense of an artifact. ‘Grown and evolved, ‘ certainly, which is wondrous enough for me. If the whole universe of our perception is the living body or dream of the Goddess, there’s no essential presumption that “I don’t understand how this cool stuff came about” must imply, “Therefore, I shall say reality is what must give way when my beliefs contradict the facts.”So I would say that the artificial divide between what science can know and what religion can claim our experience of it should be is *just that.* There’s actually no need, in terms of the nature of our experience and the world we live in, to ever ‘dumb down.’ Start doing that, and you never *appreciate* how wondrous the world is. Time after time, that leads to killing and despoiling. It seems certain *religious* types are usually the ones who show utter arrogance in the face of a world of wonders, reducing it to a reason to basically ignore it, except to steer people back to merely *obeying texts,* rather than considering how the ‘faith phenomenon’ can be used to *enhance* our existence as we-like-to-think particularly bright and spiritual primates. Frankly, it seems to be used by some religious as a way to ‘blame the unbelievers’ for pointing out they *don’t* have the ‘dominion over the world’ they thought they did by fiat, and they aren’t using the idea very well at all where they have the ability to screw it up. We’re not robots. We’re not computers. In a way, no, we didn’t come together by *chance.* But that doesn’t mean we were ‘made’ in the same way as your dualistic thinking then seems to demand either. That’s a false dichotomy. There’s an observable *process* *involving* a certain element of chance, but in a big enough universe, enough ‘dice’ being thrown starts resulting in statistical certainties. There’s nothing wrong with telling stories, connecting to the universe, relating to things *as* the kind of animal we were made, which tends to empathize and relate and even anthropomorphize things. Actually, there’s a part of our brains that literally *can’t tell the difference* between what we see someone doing, and what we do, ourselves. It’s part of how we learn, how we’re able to show compassion, too. But it’s also how, when we embrace frightening and harmfully-irrational views of the world, that we can end up fighting and even *killing* over what we think is or is not on these wonderful minds of ours. Or just plain failing to be effectively-good humans. We must be responsible for the stories we tell about each other, because, as we say in my traditions, “As within, so without.”

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    To repeat: But there is something called “knowing less than nothing about anything”. The bible and koran literalists/”blind faithers”/”black holers” would be in that category.1.2 billion Muslims, 2 billion Christians? Why? Because they were born Muslim and Christian and don’t know any better.

  • TDAY

    It really seems to bother non-believers, the notion (to them)of a supreme creator — that there actually may be some being who created them…just as they are able to create things on a smaller scale. Centers of the universe are they all, in their own eyes….the cosmos is under their realm…for they seem know it came together from a giant blast of some nebula, star or cluster of matter eons ago. My humble opinion…bunk. Try doing that in your laboratory and see what you get. Confusion and destruction come to mind.Sorry, but the love between a man and a woman, the procreation they are able to perform, the pleasure for both within that process, the tears, the joy, the emotions, the faith, the reality of a reason for living for a higher potential that animals cannot know…dont come from big bangs folks…they come from, just as your best handiwork does, from thought, planning and creativity..then thru molding, fashioning and putting it all together…what you planned becomes reality. A puny thought for any human to think they are the only ones in this vast universe that can accomplish such.

  • E favorite

    Tday – It seems to me that it’s who believers who think they’re the center of the universe. They have a personal God who looks out for them, answers their personal prayers and gives them special privledges not available to other humans who are not believers.

  • Zach

    You really don’t understand theology, especially that of the Christian faith, do you? I really hate those who sterotype others.. and you were upset about being catagorized as an atheist. The “God is watching, don’t wrong others” only applies to those new to the faith, usually those of a very young age. They’re only told this because they couldn’t understand the actual complex feelings that come from dealing with God, having not the mental or spiritual capacity to do so. Tell me, who exactly have you been basing these conclusions on? You should really study this first hand before you publish something like this. Honestly, not every Christian believes in the blessing of ignorance. I sure don’t.