Billions of years passed before my birth; billions of years will pass after my death; and I could
easily not have been born at all.
Does this make my life meaningless or worthless? No, no more than it is not worth going to see a
play because it will end. My life is contingent, not required as part of the course of the universe, but
that makes my very existence a most wonderful opportunity..
I used to call myself a Christian, because my parents are, and it was part of the cultural backdrop
(Anglican Church specifically). I'm not sure I ever believed it, though I have always rather enjoyed
some of the hymns. However, it wasn't until I was about 13 that I began seriously asking myself
whether or not I believed, and the immediate trigger was my parents asking whether I wanted to
be confirmed. The more I thought about it, and the more questions I asked, the more I realised the
concept of God meant nothing to me. It quite literally does not compute. The way I'm wired, I don't
think it is possible for me to believe in God without seeing Zir personally, and even then my first
thought would be to doubt my sanity.
As such conventional Christianity is clearly a non-starter for me, but I did spend a while wondering
whether I could take much from this Jesus bloke. And I...wasn't especially impressed. The Golden
Rule, while nice, had been stated earlier. Love thy neighbour is a useful principle, but again hardly
earth-shattering. And there remained teachings about slavery and the place of women that made me
So that left me with a need to explore and discover what my principles and values where, and what
they were based on. And here, a couple of Christians were very helpful, along with another atheist.
In rambling, long-running conversations in the school library we sometimes explored, sometimes
railed against each others' ideas. Over several years we each founded our thinking much more
firmly as the weak foundations were struck away. We never reached agreement, and that taught
me one more lesson I needed - that intelligent, educated, well-meaning people can fundamentally
Some of the things I was told horrified me; such as R's assertion that zie would do anything God
demanded; anything at all, no matter how immoral; or when J said that God had commanded his
people to destroy the Canaanites. And this was the thing which brought me to realise that a rigid
moral code based on a revelation was, bluntly, dangerous. I am and remain wary of individuals who
will put principles before people, be those principles Christian, communist, neo-liberal or any other.
My life is my own. I try to do right because it is right, not because it is written. And my greatest
hope is to pass to my children a better world than I was born into, in some small way.