Honesty is about being brave enough to embrace life as it is in reality. It’s about taking our clothes off—figuratively and literally—and loving ourselves just as we are. It’s not about making up feel-good stories about heaven, or hoping for some kind of spiritual salvation after we die, or fooling ourselves with other dishonesties from our popular religions. What is honest is to accept ourselves as physical beings, perishable bodies alive only for a short time before we disappear forever. It is to admit that existence is something temporary.

Instead of tainting our lives with spiritual flagellation which dismisses our animality and denigrates sexuality, it is essential that we own up to the fact that, from beginning to end, we are bodies. That is the naked truth. We are not angels muddied into physical form as some sort of perverse punishment from God. Rather, our desire to be angelic and God-like is what is perverse. We are body-beings rather than spirit-beings, and to admit that is not degrading. Instead, it elevates us into the only realm in which life is actually possible.

Without a body, there can be no movement, no action, not even a thought. Scientists have shown clearly that our thoughts and feelings are products of our brains, of chemical reactions in synapses themselves dependent entirely on the makeup of the physical nutrients we happen to consume. This knowledge has consequences. It means there can be no bodiless God who created us or our world, for without physical body even God Almighty could not move or think.

The truth is that there is no intelligence behind or before the world. Our own species of intelligence evolved long afterwards on a dim speck of a planet incredibly far from the center of our galaxy, further still from the center of the universe. On this small blue planet we evolved, thinking thoughts every bit as physical as our aches and pains—thoughts which proceed not from some realm of spirit, but directly from our naked mammalian brains. We are bodies that think, not thoughts that have bodies.

Admitting this does not degrade us. Rather, it places life squarely where it belongs: here on earth now. Life does not belong in some bodiless heaven or imaginary afterlife.

True enough, we must admit that we will die, and that our death is final. There is no God, and when the body ceases, all that constitutes us will cease with it. This is the honest truth. But by beginning here with these facts, we can adjust to life. We can make the most of it.

We can be naked atheists.

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