Why Ebon Musings?

"Heaven's ebon vault,
Studded with stars unutterably bright..."
    --Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Queen Mab"

There are two possible interpretations of the question asked in the title of this essay. The first concerns the name of this website, what it means and why it was chosen. The second concerns the purpose of this website, why it was established and what I hope to accomplish with it. In this essay, I hope to address both questions.

The title of this website was intended to have multiple layers of meaning. I have always been a person of nocturnal habits, staying up late into the night; it has historically been the hour when I am most productive and when my thoughts flow most freely. The silence and the serenity of night, I find, makes it the time best suited to contemplation and creative thought. More can be done, and more can be seen, without the bustle and distractions of the day. Thus, ebon musings: the thoughts penned late at night, after the tasks of the day are completed, in that hour of peace when all the rest of the world lies asleep and dreaming.

When my website was inaugurated, this title had a second meaning as well. Not just the words presented here, but the ideas that they represented, I believed to be best suited for expressing at night. At the time the site was launched, I was still a relatively recent convert to atheism, and the very concept still seemed to hold the allure of the forbidden - the sort of thoughts that one would only dare to express in the dark hours of the night, so to speak. Of course, mine has become more of a daylight atheism now, and I no longer feel any hesitation about expressing my convictions openly. If anything, I have grown to understand how necessary it is. However, the first meaning remains.

The second question relates to my purpose in creating this website. Although Ebon Musings began with only the Evolution Pages, it was always my intention to turn it into a predominantly atheism-themed site. My initial intent in doing this was merely to present an alternative viewpoint, one that I have always believed receives far less attention and consideration from society than it should. It was my hope that providing an intellectual justification of atheism, as well as proof that we can be compassionate, ethical human beings just like anyone else, would help seekers in search of another way and show everyone else that we were worthy of being listened to and taken seriously.

However, in the years since creating my site, I find that I can no longer let its purpose rest at that. In the past few years, the forces of religious fanaticism have made shocking gains worldwide, both in those countries commonly classed as "developing" as well as in the wealthy and industrialized nations of the First World. And nowhere has this upsurge in fundamentalist religious fervor been more apparent or more threatening than in the United States of America, the country where I live. The zealots driving this movement, though they may belong to different religious groups whose specific goals vary, are all alike in that they are on a crusade to remake society in their own image - erasing centuries of progress to impose their rigid and theocratic agenda on everyone - and in that they are absolutely ruthless in their quest to crush or suppress all dissent from this goal.

This evil needs to be confronted, and mere words are no longer enough. A simple presentation of the atheist viewpoint, no matter how persuasively reasoned, will inevitably be ignored by the fanatics who have shut out all information contrary to their beliefs. The only way to stop this scourge is through positive action. Although offering a strong defense and justification of atheism is a vital step, it is only the first step. Thus, I have made it my mission for my site to serve as a platform and launching point for further advocacy, and hopefully, an inspiration for others to do the same. (The essay "Unapologetic" offers a more detailed explanation of what has brought me to this conclusion and what I hope to accomplish from this point onward.) Humanity, for all its faults, possesses the potential to achieve truly great things; but if we are ever to bring such a future into existence, we must overcome the forces of darkness, ignorance and dogmatism that stand in the way. If, with Ebon Musings, I can contribute in even a small way towards attaining this goal, I will consider my purpose in having created this site to be well served.


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