I’m not a religious man. I don’t believe in the supernatural. I believe that if people made a greater effort to ensure that empirical probability underlays what they believe, there would be fewer problems in the world. Witness Trump’s quixotic quest to overturn the 2020 elections in court. Trump and his minions have brought over 57 lawsuits in the various states he has lost, presenting no evidence of fraud. One Trump appointee, Judge Stephanos Bibas of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Philadelphia, dismissively wrote in his opinion: “‘Calling an election unfair does not make it so.” Yet, an amazing 77% of Republicans believe that there was widespread fraud in the election. This is the legacy of religion when it silenced Galileo on pain of death to prevent him from expounding his heresy that the Earth revolved around the Sun rather than support the Scripture-based heliocentric view. This marked the beginning of a protracted war against empiricism waged by religion, post-moderns, some liberals, self-serving politicians, and authoritarians.
Yet, I do believe in the power of symbols. I like to run on days of astronomical events. Conjunctions, eclipses, equinoxes, and solstices are all game. I do this not because I believe in the occult. I don’t think for a second that any heavenly entity exerts any unearthly influence upon my earth-bound existence other than radiation and gravitation. Being outside during heavenly events is a symbolic reminder to me that we are natural beings. We are caught up in an endless number of concentric cycles. Being outside, particularly exercising outside, nourishes both mind and body in ways that are still incompletely documented by science. I believe that the current rape of the planet Earth is enabled by the lack of contact we have with the outside. I have watched the population of Monarch butterflies go from presenting clouds of the little creatures enjoying the flowers outside where I work four years ago to none in the last two years. A grander natural event symbolizes to me that individual humans, their sound and their fury are, in the end, signify nothing. It is a reminder to respect this proportion and to try to allow my brief passage through it to cause as little pain, strife, and turmoil as possible.