What I Learned in 2013: “Moments of Awe Make Us Better People”

…regular incidences of awe, not only provided a kind of necessary catharsis, but also left subjects as fundamentally better people.

The Existentialist philosopher Camus said, “Life should be lived to the point of tears.” He was onto something. The pull towards transcendence reveals a fundamental human need to marvel, to become overwhelmed, to be flooded by cascading waves of meaning. In Religion for Atheists, the philosopher Alain De Botton wrote that secular institutions need to do a better job at creating spaces for non-believers to experience a kind of “mindgasmic,” aesthetic sublime. Human beings don't need to believe in God in order to experience this sort of nourishment—the symphonic beauty of cathedrals or rocket ships will do just fine. But why does the secular world require spaces for reverential awe?

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