This post is not meant to demean other belief systems, but rather to explain why secular atheist humanism gives me hope. It is from a larger piece I wrote for my own benefit about my journey away from Christianity. If you would be interested in reading and discussing the longer work, let me know and I will PM it to you. (Bear in mind before asking that the longer work does specifically criticize religious belief).
The purpose of this is not to diminish others spiritual beliefs but to let those without spiritual belief know that a life without God can still be a life with meaning and healing.
. . . there is actually a beautiful and profound hope in evolution. And here it is: if we evolved from chaos, that means THINGS CAN GET BETTER . . .
. . . If we evolved from apes, then our pitfalls and our potentials make a lot more sense. The force driving us is . . . our base animal instincts slowly becoming more enlightened as our mental capacities increase. The hope there is that it means that world we see right now with all its corruption and problems doesnt have to last forever. We can overcome it. The selfish and unproductive desires we have within us are not the temptation of devils, but rather hold-overs from our animal past.
Lets look at the animal world. We like to think of it as an image of beauty, but it is a cruel place. Weak members are abandoned. Runts are eaten by their brothers and sisters. Babies are eaten by males who want the mother to mate again sooner. Incest is rare but does occur, and in at least one species of primate (Bonobos) child-adult stimulation seems to occur solely for physical gratification of the adult rather than reproduction. This is the world we came from, but it is also the world we are leaving. We have made so much progress away from being cruel dumb animals caring only for ourselves. We have made so much progress that we have a hard time believing that we were ever on such a level . . .
. . . There is hope in believing that we, as a species, are on our own. Because then we can begin to recognize that Yes bad things happen. YES no one is coming to save us. YES children are not protected. YES monsters exist. But also YES we have already made progress. YES we as a species can become even better. YES we can make it through this. All of which means that YES we have a real shot at life. Its not guaranteed, but its possible. Everything is possible . . . each one of us can just be a human, no more and no less important a voice than any other human. And it is in that pure egalitarianism that we will finally learn that the only hope we have is each other.
Heal well. Change can be real.
"it's good to be young but let's not kid ourselves -- it's better to pass on through those years and come out the other side with our hearts still beating;
having stared down demons and come back breathing." -- John Darnielle