The Most Effective Argument for Atheism That I've Ever Seen

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Carl Sagan, with an assist from Darwin:


"Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work worthy of the interposition of a deity," Darwin wrote telegraphically. "More humble and I think truer is to consider him created from animals" We're johnny come lately. We live in the boondocks. We emerged from microbes. Apes are our cousins. Our thoughts and feelings are not fully under our own control. And on top of all of this, we're making a mess of our planet and becoming a danger to ourselves. The trapdoor beneath our feet swings open, we find ourselves in bottomless free-fall. If it takes a little myth and ritual to get us through this. Who among us could not sympathize?

My understanding is that Carl Sagan wasn't an atheist. I'm not either. But this is about the most effective argument for atheism that I've ever seen. It's actually deeply spiritual. Perhaps it's just me, but many of my encounters with atheist remind me of my encounters with the born-again. Indeed I often suspect that the latter was once the former, and is really angry about it.

I don't talk religion much here. But these are my thoughts. I want to be respectful. I'd like comments to follow suit. If you can't talk without driving into the margins, or insulting someone, try not talking. You don't have to speak on everything.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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