In another attempted online discussion recently, I realised that not only was the theistic argument I was addressing familiar, but it also wasn’t the first time I’d used cheesecake to make my point.
The question was the usual one of what atheists have to live for if there’s “no purpose” to our creation, and we’re all here “by accident”. Personally, I still don’t understand why this confuses people so much; but, since it evidently does, trying to encourage them to understand is more likely to get us all somewhere than just being sarcastically infuriated about it (even if the latter is a more natural inclination).
In listing the things that I, as an atheist, live for, I threw cheesecake into the mix. And the fact that it’s something which might many people might (wrongly) label a relative triviality is what makes it such a useful comparison.
Cheesecake is so good, you guys. Really good cheesecake is just one of the greatest things. It’s not quite as good as love, maybe. But it’s better than most other stuff. Kittens can wait till I’m done eating. Sunsets can fuck off. There is so much joy to be found in a good slice of cheesecake.
And how, exactly, does any of that joy depend on the “purpose” to our existence? Why should it matter if my delicious dessert and I have come together “by accident”?
So there was no ultimate design behind it, no intelligent driving force which wanted this cheesecake to be in my mouth? I couldn’t give less of a fuck, just so long as it is in my mouth, because it tastes so good and I’m making myself hungry typing all this.
Never in my life have I ever thought: “This is so frustrating, if only God really existed, then this delicious cheesecake would have meaning and I could really enjoy it”. My tongue’s delight in sugary creamy goodness on a crumbly biscuit base are not the slightest bit diminished by such abstract philosophical concerns.
It just seems a weird thing to get distracted by.
I mean, yeah, I’m going to die someday. The heat death of the universe will eventually end all variation in the cosmos. Every emotion we experience is transient and fleeting and mortal.
But way more important than all that is that this cheesecake is so fucking delicious, you guys, seriously, you have to try this.
On a related note, if you love your child, but think to yourself “Just as well I believe God exists, because if I were an atheist there’d be no point to any of this and I would be completely indifferent to the concerns of my offspring,” you are doing it very, very wrong.