Hey, this is another communication on the theme of “things that Parish is trying to explain using his rather limited writing ability”.

In this communication I will try and explain my thoughts on what our purpose is. Why we are here. What it is we are meant to do. By “we” I mean us as individuals and as a cohesive [ha ha] world society.

Firstly, let me explain just how insignificant we are. We live on a tiny planet orbiting a pretty boring star in a galaxy of 300 billion stars. To give you an idea of how many stars that is, it is around 9510 year’s worth of seconds.

Humans are rather terrible at visualising large numbers, or understanding how significant numbers can be [it’s why betting companies and lotteries are so profitable]. We mostly work in numbers the size of us. We are generally comfortable with numbers up to around a thousand and then after than we lose all conceptual understanding. If you talk about a million or billion then people think they have a good understanding but they don’t. A million seconds is somewhere around 13 days worth of seconds. A billion seconds is around 31 YEARS. That’s quite a difference. To give you an idea of how insignificant our numbers are the sun fuses 620 MILLION TONS of hydrogen EVERY second and is still going to last for BILLIONS of years.

As far as we know there are over 170 BILLION galaxies in the observable universe. Spend a few hours thinking about just how large and amazing the universe is. I guarantee you will develop a headache and feel slightly ill. The chances of life elsewhere is total, it is clear we are a tiny part of this universe. We are insignificant. We can control our environment and probably some aspects of the solar system. Other than that, we essentially don’t exist. We do not matter. The universe does not care about us. There is no god or gods. Religion is an incorrect view of the world. That conclusion leapt out of nowhere, but I think it is valid. God did not create the world for us. God does not send his rules to us. There is nowhere for god to be. God is a human creation to ease our sense of uselessness.

Let’s bring things down to a more human size and consider “purpose”.

Ultimately, there is no purpose. We, as modern humans, have existed for such a short amount of time [~100,000 years] and we might manage to exist for quite a while, but the evidence is that even if we last for a billion years then eventually the Sun will grow and kill us all. Interstellar travel is essentially impossible. We have no “universal” purpose.

So, the universe doesn’t care what happens to us. We can’t change that. So now we need to be more mundane.

We exist on Earth. The dinosaurs ruled this planet for a few hundred million years. We’ve managed ten thousand [of civilisation] and have only just managed at that. We seem to be very good at killing ourselves. It is arguable that the Earth does not care about us. Our visit to Earth, so far, has been fleeting and yet also so damaging. So, we look to biology for purpose. Essentially my biological purpose is to propagate my genes. To ensure that my part of the species carries on. That is my ultimate biological purpose. Everything I have do leads to that point. I eat and breathe solely for the purpose of helping my genes survive. The problem of purpose is added to because I am conscious and able to think in abstract terms.

Humans are not the only animals able to think in abstract terms but we are the only species who do it so very well. We are able to question and discover. It is quite remarkable that we can do that and it has taken 4 billion years to get to that point. We are a fluke of evolution. One that will occur over and over again in this universe [large numbers etc].

We have biological purpose. We also have no absolute morals [no god]. Therefore the morals we have come from within and what we are taught. Some are the result of being animals and some are the result of having thought.

I have two children. My biological purpose is complete. I do not need to exist for biology any more. However my purpose is not complete. I think it is my purpose to do the best I can for society, for humans in total. Now, given no absolute morals it is hard to argue for any particular purpose, but I use reason and hopefully logic to reach some conclusions about what we are for. Once I accept that my family need others to help them survive I look to the society that will provide this. I will consider society to be the human race as a whole now. Everyone on the planet [and those currently in low Earth orbit].

I have a duty to do the best I can to maintain a good society around me so that my genes have the best chance of maintaining themselves in this world. As a human with feelings I also want the best for my children and for all humans around me. It is therefore imperative that I work for the best of society. This is how I create my morals and views on all things. I start from a point of “what is best for us?”.

My ultimate purpose is to contribute to a world where my genes [children] have the best chance of living their lives to fulfil their purpose to breed and to contribute to society to maintain and improve the lives of all. I need no god or gods. I don’t need the promise of ever after life [how terrible] and I don’t need the fear of hell. I just know my purpose.

I am uncomfortably aware that my purpose is entirely selfish and internal. There is no ultimate purpose, only that which we discover for ourselves. Many are uncomfortable with this, but they should explore this. Doing good for the sake of doing good and understanding that it is just for you and not some supernatural dude in the sky is something we should all get used to.

An Atheist Answers

I recently looked at a tweet in my timeline:

I am an atheist. Let me see if I can answer these questions. I will do my best to not turn the question around but actually answer the question to the best of my ability.

Quoth I:

Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer! Which leads to some interesting conclusions…

1.       How Did You Become an Atheist?
2.       What happens when we die?
3.       What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!4.       Without God, where do you get your morality from?
5.       If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
6.       If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
7.       Where did the universe come from?
8.       What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
9.       What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
10.   If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

I answer these below.

How did I become an atheist?
I’m not sure I was ever that religious. I was taken to church on Christmas Eve by my mum. I did, at times, attend Sunday school and I read a cartoon version of the bible. So I was certainly exposed to church and religion as a child but I was never really indoctrinated. When the Gideons came in to school and gave me a bible I ate each page so at the age of 12 I wasn’t that fussed by god and stuff. When I joined the Air Cadets I made a pledge to God, The Queen and Country but wasn’t that fussed about the God bit. I attended church as part of the ATC and have been to funerals to say goodbye. I don’t think my default position was ever God, I was looking for evidence and never found it. [that’s not actually true, one Xmas eve midnight service I was almost called to God because the church looked beautiful but then I was very drunk and although the church was pretty that doesn’t mean God exists]. Whenever I think about religion and God I get angry at how it suckers up people who lack a certain train of thought, it preys on everyone. It is quite obvious to me that there is no rational evidence for the existence of God. If it is discovered I will happily believe. Until then, the burden is on those who believe to convince me with rational evidence.

What happens when we die?
My heart stops, my brain functions die away as the oxygen is used up and I cease to exists. After that my body will slowly disintegrate and I will become part of the Earth again.

What if I am wrong and there is a heaven and a hell?
I guess this depends on which brand of religion wins the great battle. If it’s christianity then I’m sure that God will forgive me and understand my questioning and accept me into heaven. If it’s another brand then surely the compassion preached by religion will accept my mistakes. Can I really be sent to heaven for questioning the lack of evidence for God? Perhaps the more fundamentalist Christians and Muslims will condemn me to ever lasting pain and torture.
I would like to point out that while I have answered the question my answer to the previous question pretty much rules out the existence of any afterlife. The afterlife is just a human invention to easing the pain we feel when those close to us die.

Without God where do you get your morality from?
As much as I grew up and currently live in a country with a largely Christian culture I don’t need to be told that to kill someone would be wrong. I also don’t need a book to tell me right from wrong. My personal morality is probably quite different from the overarching social morality which exists within the laws of the country in which I reside. I can reach my own conclusions about morality by thinking about it. My general rule is to not do harm to others.

If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
No, no and the knowledge itself is it’s reward. A longer answer: Our social laws exist outside of religious instruction. As a member of society I accept the law of this land and the morality it implies. I don’t always agree with it but I accept it. There was once a time when the law was “god given” but to be honest it was just the interpretation of god’s law by a human being and so open to problems [it was once acceptable to kill witches, evidence of witches having supernatural powers is remarkably skant and so it is no longer legal to kill witches, a triumph of reason over god]. I do not want to murder or rape. I want to do no harm to others. I don’t need god to tell me that. I also reap my own rewards of doing good, I tend to be treated well by others. I don’t need the promise of life-every-after to make me do good things, I can’t imagine anything much worse than living forever.

If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
My meaning comes from trying to learn and understand the cosmos but more so from the love I get from my children and getting a thank you from someone.

Where did the universe come from?
I don’t know and to be honest I’m not that bothered by that. I do find it amusing we seek answers to the questions WHY and HOW when sometimes you shouldn’t think in those human terms. In science terms we know that the big bang is our best explanation of the START of the universe but not the WHY and HOW. I will just say that if God did create the universe then why does that mean that I have to follow the writings of some dessert people from two thousand years ago?

What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
What about miracles? When miracles are investigated they turn out to have very Earthly origins. Humans are brilliant at fooling themselves all the time. People can claim to have a Jesus connection or having seen saints or angels but I don’t think they fully understand the working of our minds/brain. People can claim everything they want. Until they can show demonstrable evidence I’m not interested. I feel as though I have a connection with Thor, am I ok or deluded? If I grew up in India you would be asking if I felt a connection to Shiva or other gods. It’s quite cultural.

What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
These guys are necessary to help people learn to think rationally and see the problems of religious arguments. They pretty clearly try to explain why beliefs are wrong, they don’t try to mock those who have those beliefs.

If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
Not every society has religion, Buddhism can be considered a religion but it is devoid of our notion of god. Some religions have many gods. Some gods have been supplanted in common culture. Which god are you talking about? Humans are story telling great apes who concocted tales of supernatural beings to explain the things to which we had no answer. Over the last 2000 years we have made leaps and bounds into understanding so much of the wonder of our world that the notion of answering Why? and How? with the answer God should be dismissed entirely.


I am not an eloquent writer or purveyor of ideas so my arguments may not come over as the subtlest or best worded. I have tried to answer these particular questions to the best of my ability and in a small space. I have also tried to keep to the question and not end up writing at a tangent to the subject. I have also tried hard not to question the particular beliefs that have lead to these questions.

I don’t expect people who are strongly religious to accept my answers, but I have answered these questions as honestly as I can. I am unsure what particular conclusions I am meant to find but they probably aren’t the ones the website writers wanted.

The final word comes from the Ricky Gervais character Derek:


An Atheist Album – Shelley Segal

This is really more of an EP but it is worth mentioning in this list. I downloaded this from iTunes after hearing a song played on a podcast. I can’t remember which particular podcast but probably The Humanist Hour from the AHA. Shelley Segal is not related to Steven but is from Melbourne, Australia. The songs are nice and gentle and she is the only singer/songwriter whose work I actually enjoy. It’s good to hear someone explaining rationally about religion and gods within a gentle guitar based soundtrack. Get this album to hear songs such as:

  • I Don’t Believe In Fairies
  • Eve

It’s definitely wrong to base your views on women and life on those expressed in a book.


Signed up to the Atheist out of the Closet campaign on Freedom From Religion Foundation website. Also starting to listen to their podcast. Like it.
They do very good work in USA making sure church and state separation is maintained. We could do with something like that over here, but our parliament is hard wired for religion. Our head of state is the leader of our church! We have bishops in the House of Lords ffs. When can we get rid of that? Current plans are to have representation from all major religions in the Lords. How stupid. When do you know to stop? How do you choose which religions? How big do they have to be? Remove all religious representation and let them lobby like everyone else (not that I’m keen on lobbying groups).