By Robin Marie on July 31, 2011
This interview with Daniel Dennett is worth watching , especially since Bill Moyers gives a great presentation of the “but what about wonder?!” argument for God. It is rather annoying actually; it as though he is not listening to Dennett or, did not really read his book although in other places he appears to have done so. Throughout the interview Moyers keeps bringing up the beauty of music, the beauty of cathedrals, and the experience of transcendent piety – and then he asks Dennett, in so many ways, if he really thinks that these experiences are simply “tricks,” or products of physical processes?
By the third time he posed what was essentially the same question, I was starting to get frustrated – of course they are, I was shouting. Dennett did well enough with this – he was very patient – but I was feeling like Moyers needed a lecture in neurobiology 101. However, Dennett did make a very important point: believing that such inspiration ultimately has a physical root does not to him diminish these experiences in any way.
And I think this is the real assumption atheists need to tackle when confronted with this line of argument. Beauty is beautiful, regardless of whether or not you think it emanates from an all-powerful being; and beauty will move in you the same feelings of peace and hope even if you do not think you are being possessed by the Holy Spirit or blessed by Allah or touched by any other deity. For me, listening to music creates the most beautiful moments of awe and reverence – and what am I contemplating during those moments? I am imagining how my brain is lit up like the night sky on the Fourth of July, and I am thinking of what a beautiful, amazing thing the human brain is to create such bliss and beauty. And yes, I feel connected to something larger than myself – I feel connected to all of human evolution, and the entire history of human art and inspiration.
Now is that really a downgrade over feeling attached to a supposedly omnipotent, omnipresent being? I don’t think so. I think it is an upgrade.
 Except for maybe the FSM. That shit is out of this world.