“Sure, I’m an atheist, but I don’t think we’re different at all,” she said. “In fact, I think religion and atheism are rooted from the same feeling.”

What? I ask, incredulously. No they’re not. They’re completely different things. Like, I believe in a higher power, in a grand design, but you… don’t. We’re earth and sky.

She laughs. “Okay look, I’ll prove it to you. Think about all religion. Every religion that you’ve ever known. Are you thinking about them right now?”

Uh-huh.

“No you’re not,” she laughs. She reaches over and closes my eyes with her hand. “Seriously – close your eyes, and think about them for a second.”

Fine. I close my eyes, and I think about Islam. I try to think about what God looks like, and for some reason, I’m imagining an old man in a white robe with a walking stick. I think about Christianity, and white Jesus with a full beard and long hair, and him being nailed to the cross. I think about the Dalai Lama and wonder whether we really get reincarnated as another life form. I think about Hinduism and remember Shiva, the God of Destruction. I go back further – to paganism and sun-worshipping. I try to think of other religions, but I either can’t remember them or don’t know them well enough.

“Done?”

Yup, I say, opening my eyes. Thought of all the religions I know. Now what?

“Do you notice, that all religions talk about Life and Creation? Buddhism talks about how all Life is sacred, Abrahamic religions talk about how the world was created in seven days, and about Noah and his ark, and Hinduism talks about being connected to a supreme soul, an all-encompassing spirit that exists in every living thing.”

Right. So what?

“So what?” she laughs. Now it’s her turn to sound incredulous. “Well, don’t you think that that’s a huge coincidence? A little strange maybe? That every single religion you know, is in one way or another trying to explain how everything came to being?”

Well, yeah, they have to. It’s like, the whole point of religion.

“Actually, no, they don’t have to. I mean, most religions have a point of authority right? A higher power or a holy book somewhere that tells us how little we know and how we should always consult this point of authority. On that logic, if they know better, then why tell us anything? Why not just tell us what you want from us and make us obey? Why bother explaining anything to us simpletons?”

Hmm. Got me there. I don’t know.

“I think,” she says, “that it’s not that this ‘point-of-authority’ is benevolent or anything, but it’s because it’s human nature to want to understand everything around us. All of us have this natural and powerful need to connect to everything we can perceive.”

Okay you’re starting to lose me here. What’s all this got to do between Atheism and Theism?

“Shh, bear with me for a little bit more. Now think of what atheists / scientists are doing. Like, sure, there’s many branches of science which studies different things, but I’d say that scientists have the same obsession as religious people do – the need to connect to and understand their surroundings, wouldn’t you agree?”

I laugh. Yes, okay sweetie, I think I know where you’re going with this. But go on.

“Well don’t interrupt, you’re spoiling my groove. So don’t you see? Religion and Science stem from the same natural instinct. For as long as Man has existed, the experience has been the same. He’s travelled across vast oceans, climbed the highest mountains and gazed at the starlit sky, and felt a deep sense of…”

Here she pauses for a while, closing her eyes and gathering her thoughts. She’s never looked more beautiful.

“…humility and gratitude. That’s it. When you take the universe in, you can’t help but feel humbled and thankful, somehow, that you’re here. It’s weird, because I don’t even believe in God, but whenever I think of being alive, I feel like I should be thanking someone for my existence.”

I look someplace else for a while, reflecting about what she said. I chuckle at the fact that my atheistic girlfriend is having a deeply spiritual moment, although to be honest, she’s making more sense than I’m comfortable admitting.

“Anyway, don’t you see?” she continues, “Back in the day, Man couldn’t explain His surroundings despite this connection. He had no way of knowing or understanding His environment the way we do today, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t able to perceive His humble existence in the grand scheme of things.

“So, He made up this entity, this being called ‘God’ as a concept of everything he felt. This sense that there are things much larger than Him, lying way beyond His comprehension. Today, that spirit lives on – except now we call it ‘Science’. People think these are different things, but really, Science is just picking up where religion left off. Think of it as Religion 2.0.” she laughs.

I smile. “Well you make a lot of sense, but I’ll still have to consult the Holy Book on that one before I agree with you babe.”

She smiles and leans in to kiss me. “You’ll come round darling.”

 

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