Pieces | Does it Matter?

When you find something that resonates with your spirit,
does it matter where it comes from?

First, read the following three comments (there might be a quiz):

“Knowing there is a world that will outlive you, there are people whose well-being depends on how you live your life, affects the way you live your life, whether or not you directly experience those effects. You want to be the kind of person who has the larger view, who takes other people’s interests into account, who’s dedicated to the principles that you can justify, like justice, knowledge, truth, beauty and morality.”  – Steven Pinker, cognitive scientist


  “In the theater you create a moment, but in that moment, there is a touch, a twinkle of eternity. And not just eternity, but community. . . . That connection is a sense of life for me.”  – Teller, illusionist


“Joy is human connection; the compassion put into every moment of humanitarian work; joy is using your time to bring peace, relief, or optimism to others. Joy gives without the expectation—or wish—of reciprocity or gratitude. . . . Joy immediately loves the individual in need and precedes any calculation of how much the giver can handle or whom the giver can help.”  – Erik Campano, emergency medicine


Then, ponder: What do these all have in common?

Other than being reflective, positive, thoughtful and other-centric?

All three are responses to questions posed to Atheists about their moral values and motivations…what gives them joy and meaning.


In reality, when asked about their moral values or what motivates them in life, atheists use words that sound downright spiritual, very much like the words religious people use in fact, with a few noteworthy differences. To create his book,  A Better Life, Photographer Chris Johnson asked 100 atheists about what gives their lives joy and meaning. To some Christians the question is equivalent to asking an elephant where he gets his chocolate ice cream. The answers might surprise them even more. Themes include love and connection, compassion and service, legacy (leaving the world a little better), creativity and discovery, gratitude, transcendence, and wonder—all heightened by a sense that this one life is fleetingly transient and precious.


Another piece in this interesting, slowly forming puzzle. One that clearly requires an open mind.

For more thought provoking responses, you can read the entire article or dive deeper and get the book.

This has me intrigued. I’d love to know what you think, when you find something that resonates, does it matter where it comes from?

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17 thoughts on “Pieces | Does it Matter?

  1. hmmm… I don’t see any contradictions or conflicts of interest with Christianity in any of those quotes. I’m going to sound like a jerk to some (sorry!), but I can only believe that all good things come from the divine–Christ for Christians or whatever (true) religious deity a person follows. Atheists can choose to not believe in a power greater than themselves, but that power is what is responsible for all that is sacred. Like I know what I’m talking about, haha. But I have to believe that there is more than just a person and his or her body. We have spirits and that takes us out of ourselves. Sheesh, now I’m sounding like a nut. Will sign off before I dig myself deeper. But trusting that you know what I mean. There are for sure powers greater than ourselves.

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    • oh, so to answer your Q. Yes, it matters, but then again it doesn’t because if it’s truly good, it comes from the divine whether we believe in “it” or not.

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  2. Well I am late to the party again! There is so much great food for thought here! As one who trusts in God and believes in eternal life…..I still do not keep myself inside a box with my hands over my ears and my eyes closed. Inspiration to me is divine. You just never know who/what/when/where that inspiration may come from! And I pray that if hearts are closed….somehow….they can be opened again. ♥

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  3. Bonnie each human on this earth lives out their life learning many things along the way. I have learned the older I get, how precious every minute is. How wonderful this earth is and I know every word or thought I have has a ripple effect on me and the people around me. I take my inspiration and passion from life from anywhere it comes. I listen to my heart and follow where it leads. Have a great day.

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    • Thank you MM for your thoughtful comment – I look for inspiration and insight everywhere I go also and getting better at learning to listen to my heart. I really appreciate how you talk about how your thoughts have this ripple effect on yourself and others – it’s a great visual for our interactions and making an impression on each other – thank you for being here.

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  4. As long as it resonates it doesn’t matter where it comes from, Bonnie. I’m very much into the scientific meaning of life and I’m sure love and compassion also exist there. It was Confucius who originally said, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ So spirituality, love and compassion have been here a long time and I guess it doesn’t surprise me at all that these comments come from atheists.

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    • I agree Dianne! I agree – I think, as I respond to comments here and think and reflect even more – it’s in part a matter of being surrounded by a ‘common’ (limited) way of thinking that hasn’t necessarily included this – and I am so glad it got in front of me. As I replied below – it was the right time. I appreciate your tie-in with science and the long time standing principle of do-unto-others – beautiful. And I just love the dialogue with everyone here. The virtual coffee house 🙂

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    • Very. In a mind-bending kind of way and I like it. I love the perspectives in the responses and this reference in the article that states: “To some Christians the question is equivalent to asking an elephant where he gets his chocolate ice cream. The answers might surprise them even more”. I liked this surprise yet I wish that I wasn’t. I suppose now was the time to become better educated.

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    • And it shouldn’t – I loved coming across this article and the book/project it’s about in the larger context and learning more. I find so much resonance in these responses.

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  5. And in my view these are all spiritual concepts – those that feed the soul and support the spirit. I find this all so intriguing (as you know)…xo

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    • Yes, I do know 🙂 and love that the dialogue spans many contexts and concepts along the continuum of spirituality. I appreciated having my mind pushed when I came across this piece. xoxo

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  6. Really enjoyed it – reminds me that happiness, joy, a sense of thriving can only come from what matters most to the individual at hand. So much emphasis on “the now” versus “kingdom come”. We picture (or they are positioned as such by believers) atheists as cold, calculating, evil – I have not found that to be true. Very cool, Bonnie!

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    • Maureen, thank you and I agree – I have also found it not to be true and I appreciated having my mind opened and reminded of perspectives I just may not encounter daily. So glad this was something cool in your book!!

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