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Jan 23 2012

An Atheist Is A Man Who Believes Himself To Be An Accident

My apologies for repeating myself, but when the foes of atheism repeat themselves, what am I to do? This past week, I have seen the phrase which is this post’s headline in several different places.

In a South African billboard, on a thread arguing about a Denver billboard, a thread about gay marriage in Washington State, and a couple more I can’t be bothered with chasing down.

More, after jump:

I am not the product of an accident.

I am the product of more accidents than you can count! Hell, you can just go back a handful of generations, and the number of competing sperm cells that my DNA had to beat is already simply phenomenal! Throw in childhood diseases for my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and beyond, the odds of any given set of them meeting in the first place, and I am a statistical anomaly a trillion to one against! And so are you! And so is every other person on the planet.

I am accident on accident
And chance on random chance
I’m the product of environment
And changing circumstance

The odds of my occurrence
Are incalculably small—
If you round off to the m b trillionth place
I don’t exist at all!

Every atom in my body
From an ancient star’s collapse;
I’m a long time in my making—
Several billion years, perhaps!

In a corner of infinity,
A cold and hostile place
On a tiny blue oasis
Set adrift in empty space

I’m a subset of the universe
That’s learned to look around—
And which cannot help but wonder
At the marvels I have found!

The descendent of bacteria,
Of annelids, of fish,
I’m a member of the primates,
Just an ape-man, if you wish

Through the engine of selection
Some would live and some would die—
“From so simple a beginning”
Just how fortunate am I!

And I pass along my molecules
And take my place in line
So some distant, future life form
Will have carbon that was mine

And perhaps my DNA as well—
Unlikely, though, my friend—
I have ridden quite a lucky streak,
And lucky streaks must end.

So it is, and so it must be
When so much depends on chance
But…
Since the music plays so briefly,
Can you blame me if I dance?

21 comments

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  1. 1
    otrame

    Since the music plays so briefly,
    Can you blame me if I dance?

    QFT

  2. 2
    chigau (違う)

    Do you ever put these to music?
    I want to sing this one.

  3. 3
    Cuttlefish

    Some of them, Chigau, but not this one. And even those I have, I can’t say I’ve really made the music public (the parodies of, say, Dylan, or of Gilbert & Sullivan excepted). I am not a tunesmith. I would love for someone to take up the challenge, though! Feel free to give it a try!

  4. 4
    MikeG

    Beautiful. I had to share this with my facebook friends (with link and attribution) I hope you don’t mind.

  5. 5
    Cuttlefish

    With link and attribution, I don’t mind a bit. Even better is sharing part of it, with link and attribution, so they have to come here… but don’t worry, MikeG., you don’t have to change what you did. Thank you.

  6. 6
    MikeG

    You got it. In the future, i’ll excerpt. The more people I can expose to the Cuttlefish the better.

  7. 7
    Cuttlefish

    Thanks, MikeG!

  8. 8
    coragyps

    Wow! Again! You’re pretty damn good for a cephalopod, or even a mammal, for that matter!

  9. 9
    Phledge

    I simply adore this poem. Thank you for making our improbability beautiful!

  10. 10
    Mimmoth

    Wow.

  11. 11
    meanmike

    Beautiful. I am glad to have read this.

  12. 12
    gwen

    Awesome!!

  13. 13
    Die Anyway

    I can’t tell for sure but the sentiment seems to be implying that being an accident is a bad thing. However, I don’t find it to be problematic, nor for that matter an idea that comes from my atheism. Seems more like this is a biological statement. Or maybe it’s just one of those places where science and atheism are joined at the hip.

    p.s. the poem is beautiful.

  14. 14
    bsk

    Love the poem.

    Just wanted to post one quick observation: I think we should be opposing the banning of this ad. Eugene Gerber is no better than religious people who complain against atheist billboards. I know ours are less offensive – it doesn’t matter.

  15. 15
    sqlrob

    @Die Anyway:

    Best I can tell, most theists need an externally defined purpose and something like these accidents are completely incomprehensible to them.

  16. 16
    Cuttlefish

    I agree, bsk–asking for the ban made the atheist who lodged the complaint look foolish, in my opinion. Leaving it up made the sponsors of the billboard look foolish. I’d much rather have it up, and own it with posts like this, much as atheists are owning “evil little thing”.

  17. 17
    marcus

    Lovely poem. Off to buy a lottery ticket (though now of course I realize I already won the grand prize).

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Uriel

    Wow. You atheists are incredibly dumb. You think the universe and all life came about as products of a random accident? Prove that accidents can create order, design and balance. You can’t. It’s only logical to assume that we were created by an intelligent mind.

    http://atheismandevolutiondisproven.blogspot.com

    Then we have your flawed evolution which claims that we came from mutated animals which magically evolved from dead chemicals.

    Atheism and evolution are such odious and pathetic theories.

    Farewell.

  20. 20
    GHitch

    So you’re an accident, and proud of it.
    Wow, such depth of intellect!

    Use the brain you were supposedly born with. Get it off HOLD just for a few minutes of your life.

    “If naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes…it cuts its own throat”

    And thus “unless thought is valid we have no reason to believe in the real universe.”

    And so, “The theory that thought is merely a movement in the brain is, in my opinion, nonsense; for if so, that theory itself would be merely a movement, an event among atoms, which may have speed and direction but of which it would be meaningless to use the words ‘true’ or ‘false’”.
    -C.S. Lewis

    Maybe you should actually think about the implications of atheism for once and see how ridiculous they are.

    “Nothing created everything, from nothing and for nothing” is not a position of either reason or logic.

    So can the inane atheist pretensions please and start thinking for a change.

    Even Voltaire stated of you,

    “The atheists are for the most part imprudent and misguided scholars who reason badly who, not being able to understand the Creation, the origin of evil, and other difficulties, have recourse to the hypothesis the eternity of things and of inevitability…..”
    - Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary, section – Of Modern Atheists. Reasons of the Worshippers of God, p43

    You should be embarrassed.

  21. 21
    Cuttlefish

    Clearly, you do not understand the tremendous power of selection–whether in the sense of biological evolution, or in terms of behavior. The appearance of intent arises without intent; the appearance of reason without reason. Whether through simple ignorance, or motivated ignorance, the end product is that, yes, one of us should be embarrassed.

    An appeal to an authority (or even two) does no good, when their logic is circular (and, in the case of Voltaire, should have no particular reason to be “able to understand the Creation” in the first place, thus his recourse to supernaturalism is perfectly understandable).

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