There is a new campaign in NYC subways. Various atheist and humanist groups have decided to give a “call out” to the others like themselves. The ads feature a serenely blue sky and the words, “Are you good without God? Millions are.”
I’d like to think I count among those millions so I am answering that call. Being godless can affect people in different ways, but we have some strong tendencies in common. We tend to be independent thinkers; an atheist’s values are not inherited; they are hard won and carefully evaluated. Having a conceptual view of the world that differs fairly radically from the norm tends to encourage creative thinking about all things, not just morals. Next to scientists, artists are probably the biggest group of non-believers.
I work at the Dactyl Foundation in NYC whose mission it is “to bring the sciences back into the arts.” But you could say that most of what I do involves promoting atheist aesthetics. I’m just finishing up a book about the work that I’ve done at the foundation over the past ten years and it’s called “Nature is a Work of Art.” It presents an understanding of natural processes as “self-organizing” (not supernaturally created) and not at all unlike the kind of process that most of us artists rely upon, which is to say hardly a mechanistic process at all, but a very sloppy one, rich in fortunate mistakes and brimming with poetic logic.
My novels have tended to reflect my atheism. I don’t really mean to but I have a knack for finding morally controversial subjects. My first novel Smoking Hopes is about a young woman who has recently “lost her faith” and must rethink the world from the ground up. Everything gets explored and scrutinized, from love and meaning to illicitness and social taboos. In Naked Singularity I took on euthanasia, and in Trixie I went into strip clubs to look at different ways of regarding feminine sexuality. On each of these topics I come down—not at all with the sort of decadence and disregard for human dignity one sees in so many fundamentalist preachers—but with a very tempered view, not quite moralistic but certainly well considered and fairly disciplined at the end of the day.
Life without God can be good. It is often richer, more interesting and more human.