Marveling At The Trees

As I awoke to the light, my face winced. I turned from the window. The sunlight burned and blinded my sight, even through my closed eyelids on this summer morning. I rubbed my face as I tried to bring the world into focus. As I opened my eyes, my blurred vision slowly shifted into clarity. The picture outside my bedroom window became bright and beautiful. I sat up in my bed and pressed my face up to the glass. I could not stop the smile from forming on my face even if I tried. The world outside was just that amazing.

What really caught my attention this day was the trees. Maples, Oaks, Poplars and Pines. They were so full of life this morning. Even at 12, my heart pounded with awe and wonder as the wind ruffled the leaves and caused these giants to dance in the breeze. Wow. How can something as simple and abundant as a tree be so undeniably beautiful? How could these things that are everywhere in nature cause my mind to spark to life with such a surge of electricity? Why was I watching them for so long? They’re just trees, right? No. They can’t be.

Trees are such ordinary things, I thought. They are not doing anything special. They are just doing what trees do. But I cannot take my eyes off of them. Why? What could be the reason? Ah, I know. Yes! I’ve got it! If these simple trees are filling up my mind with wonder, then what about more complex things? What about the entire universe? If the simple and ordinary is so amazing, then there must be a reason. A cause. A beginning. A sculptor of this masterpiece. A creator. A god.

This is an example of something that many believers of god use as a way to try to “prove” the divine exists. Things that are so beautiful and fill us with wonder must have come from a creator of some kind. If we are simply animals with nothing else but this life to experience, then why do we focus on such simple things like trees? What is the evolutionary benefit to wasting our time on watching the trees move with the wind? There is no benefit as far as our survival goes. It has no benefit beyond our enjoyment. Therefore God, right? No. Things that exist that fill us with wonder do not point to a god. All it shows is that we are capable of finding beauty, enjoyment, awe and wonder in the world around us. It shows that we are capable of doing more than just surviving . It shows that we are able to find beauty, meaning and purpose in this life. And you know what? That’s enough. Not only is it enough, but it’s incredibly rewarding to find such beauty in a world that gives us so much pain, worry and hardship…seemingly without reprieve. We can find good in a world filled with bad, all on our own.

I’ve had many conversations with theists (Christians mostly) that say that the fact we have such wonder is an obvious sign that God exists. The complexity of the universe. The variety and complexity of animals. Our own consciousness. “These all absolutely point to a god or a creator of some sort.” I used to believe this myself. The story of trees above is actually a true story. I truly recall a moment in my youth where I stared at trees in the wind outside of my bedroom window and thought that a god must be real. But there’s a problem with that line of thinking. I won’t get into too many details or else this post will turn into another “rambler” and not everyone has the attention span to read my stories. But here are a few thoughts…

Complexity does not equal God. It simply doesn’t. I’m not saying that it excludes a god either. However, in order to make a claim that a god was involved, one would have to show evidence of that. Simply saying that complexity equals god shows a lack of understanding of the word “evidence.” The complexity of cells, and the complexity of the organisms they make up, does not mean anything supernatural has occurred. There is complexity in nature. Why is that? Why is there complexity in nature instead of nothing at all? Why have things evolved into more complex things over time instead of not existing at all? I don’t know. And neither does anyone else. Christians and other theists will tell you that a god was involved. How else could it have happened? Again, I don’t know. The facts lie with the evidence. What does the evidence show? Does it show a god? A creator? No. All it shows is that there is something rather than nothing. Does that mean God? No? If it did, then it should be easy to prove. As of right now, no one has come even remotely close to proving any god exists, let alone a specific god such as Yahweh, Allah or any other god.

Anyone who is arguing for a god needs to stop. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read someone’s blog or had someone write on mine who claims that a god is real without a shred of evidence. It happens all the time. Why am I saying they should stop? I am saying that they should stop because asserting something rather than proving it is waste of time for all who are involved. I am well aware that some people believe in God. I used to believe in one myself. However, I am also aware that I had no good reason to believe in such a being. I had questions that I didn’t have answers for and so a god filled in so many blanks. I also am aware that my upbringing influenced what I thought. Many people like to try to convince me that a god exists. Not just any god, but their specific brand of God. Their evidence? Intuition. Sorry, that’s not going to cut it with me.

Emotion, personal experience and good feelings are not something to base a foundation of belief on. Facts and evidence should be the bedrock of our belief systems. Sadly, some don’t like to do so as the truth conflicts with what they really want to be true. Some people really want to be reunited with lost loved ones and so they create a belief system where that happens. Some want to live forever and so create a scenario where that is the case. Others are simply afraid that there is no ultimate purpose to their existence and so create a story where a supernatural being is involved with our every action, guiding us along the way. Again, there is no evidence that is the case. Replacing reality with our wish lists and comfortable scenarios is fine if we keep it to ourselves. Trying to say that others should believe the same thing is beyond frustrating. Made-up religions, rules and regulations regarding different gods are all wastes of time. These things are based on feelings, not truth.

If we are going to move forward as a people, a society, we need to come to an understanding of what evidence is. It is not opinion. It is not intuition. It is certainly not an ancient book written by ancient anonymous writers. The facts that we can observe and examine should shape our view of life and our purpose. If there is no evidence of a god, then there is no evidence of preordained purpose either. We are free to make our own purpose and follow our own paths. There is no evidence that is true for one and not another. There is simply evidence to present or there isn’t. Whether someone accepts it as true or not is a different story. Denial will always exist. In fact, it gets stronger when influenced by our environment. If we surround ourselves with people who scoff at evidence and instead rely on faith, it is likely we will as well.

Belief is fine. I have no issues with personal beliefs. I have issues when someone’s personal beliefs intrude on my life or the lives of others. Telling someone else what they should do, say or think based solely on your own feelings is wrong and dangerous. Facts matter. Facts should matter anyway. To the people who say that facts should take a backseat to faith, you are wrong. Pushing opinions on others is how racism, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny and other prejudices are spread. Facts matter.

If you want to watch the trees swaying as the wind passes through them, go for it. In fact, I highly recommend it. It is quite soothing. The peacefulness of nature is a wondrous thing. Just understand what you are witnessing. It is nature and nature alone. To call it more than that requires a lot of effort on your part. You will have to do the impossible. You will have to do what no one has ever been able to do in the history of the world; provide evidence to the contrary. Good luck.

18 thoughts on “Marveling At The Trees

  1. Christians use the term Lord God, but they are not one and the same. “Lord” is terrestrial, sociological, political. “God” is supernatural. The term God, the Creator is also often heard. If a “Creator” exists, He/She/It/They may be supremely disinterested in us, individually, and as a race. Such a being would be completely different from a “God” who answers prayers and produces miracles, and needs worship, adoration obedience and unthinking belief in….
    Excuse me. I hear an atheist blog-post calling me to me to compose it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. I’ve said many times time that a creator may very well exist. We just have no way of knowing that. This creator would not be the same as a god described in books such as the Bible. These specific gods have specific characteristics, specific rules and specific relationships with people. What they do not have is any evidence whatsoever that they exist. A creator that creates and does not intervene would be much more likely than one who does. Still, what does that matter? A creator who creates and then walks away to leave us on our own is no different than us being here completely by natural means. We live in a world without any signs of divine intervention. So, either a creator exists that does not wish to be part of the lives of its creation or there is no creator at all. It doesn’t really matter since our lives are the same either way.

      It is extremely unlikely that a god who answers prayers, requires worship and demands obedience actually exists. Presumably, we would all know if one did. But, if one does exist, and yet we do not all know it, then we were set up to fail from the beginning. Any god who sets up a system where only some people can know that they exist while others are doomed to eternal punishment is an absolute monster who is not deserving of praise.

      To me, it’s quite simple. So for any believer who is reading this, remember this:

      Specific gods require specific evidence. If you say that you know what a god thinks, says, does and wants from us, you are then required to provide specific evidence of that. And no, words in a very old book do not constitute solid evidence. One would have to show that this book was actually inspired by a god and that the words are actually true. Otherwise, it’s just another book.

      Generic creator gods do not require that same proof, but as we have no evidence of even the most generic of gods, you would have to provide some compelling reasons to hold the belief that one exists. Believing that being created makes more sense than not being created is not compelling.

      The only evidence we have at this point in time is that we exist. Whether we came into existence with the guidance of a disinterested creator who set evolution into motion or completely by natural means, it makes no difference. We are still left to live our lives on our own. And as such, we owe no one any worship or loyalty.

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      1. Any god who sets up a system where only some people can know that they exist while others are doomed to eternal punishment is an absolute monster who is not deserving of praise

        Amen, to that.

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  2. I often say that “there used to be people who did not see the beauty, the awe, the spectacular in nature, but they were too depressed to pass on their genes.” (Imagine how attractive such a person would be to the opposite sex!) We are part of nature and it is no wonder that we would find parts of it beautiful and other parts abhorrent (parasites, starvation, tsunamis, etc.). It is also no argument for the existence of fairies, goblins, spooks, or gods.

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    1. So many people miss out on a lot in this life because they are more focused on trying to find the meaning and reason of existence than just the enjoyment of being in it. The world is a beautiful place. Some people say that this beauty is evidence of a god who gave us the ability to appreciate it. They spend their lives saying we are in debt to the one who made it all possible. They try (and fail) to explain that there is a deeper meaning to all that is around us. There is something rather than nothing because a god spoke and it was so. Why do we have to complicate things by adding something to the simplicity of admiration? Just witnessing and enjoying nature is enough. Adding a god of rules who is judging us at all times takes away from it and spoils the moment.

      I like to get out on hikes with my family when the weather is agreeable. I used to marvel at nature as I got out into it and give thanks to God for giving me such a wonderful world to live in. I still marvel at it and I am still in awe at the grandeur of it all. All that has changed is that I no longer give thanks. I don’t I feel like I owe anything to anyone simply for existing. And that’s a good feeling.

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      1. Adding a god of rules who is judging us at all times takes away from it and spoils the moment.

        It would definitely ruin it for me too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. This is why people within religion cannot even come to a consensus when it comes to a belief system. Everyone has their own idea of what they want God to be. Anyone can believe whatever they want to and it doesn’t matter if it fits within the framework of the religion they are claiming to be a part of. Everyone can have their own version of truth and believe they are correct. If every idea of God is correct, then none can be considered to be correct. How would we know (short of God actually revealing him/her/itself to us) which is right? If God is real, then he is only the one correct thing, not thousands, millions or billions of different things. Not everyone can be right, yet they all claim to be. And not one can demonstrate it. Strange.

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    2. But, Nan, how can any of us speak or know for another person? Look, I can fall into the same trap. I have to admit it.

      I’m inclined to think that many people condition themselves into “unbelief,” This is then reinforced by a continued study and discussion with others of like mind. This goes on for years, decades even.

      It also seems to me that when people focus on spending huge quantities of time attempting to convince others there is no God, the Christian faith is a hoax, etc. on a deeper level they are also working to further convince themselves as well.

      On the other hand, another part of me knows that this is way too simplistic and unfair. People come to conclusions for a variety of reasons. In my case, in part, reason brought me to God. But, that’s not the end of the story.

      I read somewhere in a scientific journal awhile back, that worship and prayer actually can impact the neural pathways of the brain. In other words, the more people do these kinds of things, the more they are able to be open and impacted by mystical experience. Did God design us in this way through the evolutionary process?

      This is just me speculating, but I wonder how much this all has to do with how we set the poles of our life, so to speak. Our choices will set us on a certain course which will be further reinforced and set over time.

      And, I think it is difficult for anyone to admit they may be wrong whether theist or non-theist. All the more so if the person has been very public with their views.

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      1. NO, Becky! In this you are wrong-wrong-wrong. People do NOT condition themselves into โ€œunbeliefโ€. In fact, it is FAR more likely that people condition themselves into BELIEF … because the “natural man” does not have tendencies either way. It is primarily through the efforts of believers that a person accepts the existence of “God.”

        Oh … and be careful of the finger-pointing … because it seems to me that it is the BELIEVER
        that spends “huge quantities of time attempting to convince others” that there IS a God rather than the other way around. Why else are religious tracts produced? Why else do evangelists hold “tent meetings?” Why else are there innumerable Christian websites (far more than atheists)? Why else are you visiting a non-believer’s blog?

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      2. I personally do not know anyone trying to convince people there is no god. I do know a lot of people trying to convince people there is one however. Do you feel that I write my posts and share my insight in order to deconvert others? If so, I think you’ve missed the point of most of what I’ve written. I write in order to share my experiences and to help those who already have doubts. I try to show the dnagers of following religion, which is unbelievably flawed. That is separate from a god-belief. I encourage introspection and investigation, but I have never once tried to convince people that God does not exist.

        When people try to convince me of God, the methods they use are quite familiar to me. They are the same ones I used to believe and the same ones I used to use myself. Now that I realize there is no rational reason to believe in them, I ask questions instead of preach. I try to show logic and reason instead of relying on emotion. I try to show the flaws in the arguments used to try to convert. I do not, however, try to convince anyone of anything. I only worry about myself being convinced or not convinced. I present the facts as I understand them and people are free to accept them or not. All I want is for others to actually take these things seriously enough to investigate them.

        Do you know of someone trying to convince others that the Christian faith is a hoax? Showing errors in the Bible or contradictions does not equate to someone calling it a hoax. Some evidence does exist that shows alterations to the texts through the years which were intentional but a lot of what is documented throughout history about different gods is just a misunderstanding by primitive people who did not yet possess the ability to understand the world around them. Natural occurrences may have seemed foreign to them and so they assigned a god to explain them.

        I think that you may be conflating a couple of things here. You seem to be equating people saying that there are problems with religion or that there is a lack of evidence to someone saying that it is all made up. That is rarely the case and it is certainly not the case on my blog. I remain unconvinced and so I ask questions and point to the wrong things that religions do. This is not the same as saying a god doesn’t exist. In fact, I usually say in my posts that my issues with the lack of evidence does not mean the possibility of a god does not exist. It just means I see no evidence of one. I am more than willing to accept evidence if it exists…but I am stilling waiting on that to happen.

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  3. Ben, come on, here. What is our friend, Ark trying to do in conversation or Gary over at his blog? I could mention many others. Books have been written.

    But, here’s the thing. I think a lot of it can be really, really well-intentioned, too. I actually know that. It’s part of the reason why I’m not super offended by being called, fool, delusional, idiot, etc.

    And, it can be tough at times to find a way to share that is respectful, nondogmatic, and is not simply trying to pull people to where we’re at. I definitely have not mastered the art of this, either, Ben. I can tell you that.

    Mea culpa. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. What I see Ark doing, as well as most other atheists, is asking for evidence and pointing out the flaws of religion. Saying that you don’t believe what someone else believes is different than trying to convince that person of the opposite. Saying I don’t have enough evidence of the existence of God is not even close to me saying a god does not exist or that it’s all one big hoax. Religion, Christianity specifically, can be shown be error-filled and the conclusions made by its adherents are often flawed. That says nothing of whether a god exists or not. There is no evidence that the abrahamic god exists or any other specific god. Specific claims require very specific evidence which has yet to be presented.

      Ark, me, Nan and many others are not on some crusade to convince the world that there is no god. There is no way to conclusively say that anyway. What we’re saying is that there may be or may not be a god. Who knows. There’s nothing to suggest there is one but there’s no way to prove there is not one with 100% certainty. But without evidence, no one should be making the claim that there is one. When someone does, they open themselves up to scrutiny. And when they make false claims, they open themselves up to being corrected. That’s it.

      More often than not, it is not a belief in a god that is the issue. It’s religion and the way that believers tend to believe that anyone and everyone needs to think like they do. I have yet to come across an atheist who goes after believers and tells them God is not real that a god belief means you are buying into a hoax. Who does that? Who goes onto a Christian blog and simply says, “You’re wrong. God is not real. Hes a hoax”?Questioning religious beliefs is not an attack. It’s how a conversation should be started. Again, we need to separate a god belief and religion. They are different. Some atheists do assert that a god does not exist. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen with a minority of atheists. And they are not correct in doing that. They can rule out the gods that are most likely false due to being able to test their claims and see that the promises are empty, such as the god of the Bible. A god may exist, but if the one of the Bible is real then he is okay with making no sense, contradicting himself over and over again and being a horrible “father.”

      These are my own thoughts and I present them on my own blog. I also present them when asked on other blogs or in person. I will never, however, attack anyone else and tell them they are wrong and that I am right. Evidence should be doing the talking. I side with evidence. If there is none, I remain unconvinced and will question those who believe despite this lack of evidence.

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      1. Ben, I appreciate that in your conversation, I think you are respectful and don’t resort to personal attack. As you say, no good comes of it. I definitely want to be called out if my comments are unkind or disrespectful toward others. It is never my deliberate intention, but sometimes we are not always fully aware of how our remarks might come across to someone else. That being said Ben, and perhaps we will have to agree to disagree, but I think there are anti-theists who are extremely dogmatic and as evangelistic in their beliefs as any fundamentalist Christian. They see any belief in god as “delusional” and very harmful. It is truly their mission to pull folks away from faith. However, as I say, I think many are well intentioned. Often they do come from Christian fundamentalist backgrounds and have simply changed camps in a way, expressing like the other side of the same coin. My observation anyway Ben. Need to go for now.

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  4. Great post. I also find trees quite relaxing and beautiful myself. Just yesterday I did a solo walk though a forest with barely a person in sight. All I could hear was the breeze on the trees and the occasional bird call. So majestic that Yahweh himself couldn’t think of that.

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