Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hide and Seek

It has occurred to me that the Christian concept of god and man's relationship to the divine can accurately be described as a sadistic game of "Hide and Seek". Christians believe that God hides himself and all evidence of his existence from man, then man is tasked with discovering this elusive deity's existence and if he fails he is sentenced to eternal torment. Did I leave anything out? Oh, yeah. Man is given a book of implausible and contradictory stories that can be interpreted any of a hundred ways as a guide. Oh, and along man's journey of discovery there will be placed countless liars, conmen, lunatics, and charlatans, all claiming to know God's whereabouts and to even have spoken to him, in order to further confuse him. This, to me, sounds like the perfect condition for the creation of atheists rather than believers. If there were a god, and he wanted no one to ever discover his existence, ever, he could not do better than to follow the Christian god's example.

So, if god has so effectively and thoroughly hidden himself, why has he made it a sin to deny his existence and an unforgivable sin to deny the existence of "The Holy Ghost"? (Whatever the fuck that is) Because he doesn't want people going to heaven? Perhaps because there is no heaven and the only way to keep that a secret is to ensure that no one will ever be worthy of entering it? Maybe it's because he gets a hard-on watching humans burn in the lake of fire? Or how about this, maybe it's because THERE IS NO FUCKING GOD!

Which conclusion conforms most to the principle of Occam's Razor, the principle that the most elegant theory, the simplest one that rests on the fewest assumptions, is generally the correct one? I would say the hypothesis that an omniscient, all-powerful, omnibenevolent creator god who came into existence by itself and loves all of mankind while permitting all manner of atrocities to befall his creations and hiding from them at every turn, while at the same time punishing those who do not find him, is not a very elegant theory. As a theory goes, this one looks like Fido's ass.

Again, I ask that you consider this bizarre hypothesis from the standpoint of a terrestrial leader, say, the president of the United States. Suppose we had a president who never showed his face, never even spoke in his own voice, but only through proxies who we could never even be certain actually knew him or had ever really spoken to him. These proxies all claimed to have spoken with him, yet they all had slightly different messages. Furthermore, this president sent out a book filled with stories that flew in the face of natural laws and generally accepted science, made a mockery of morality as we know it, had numerous statements in it that contradicted each other, yet he claimed (through his proxies, of course) that this book would explain everything. Now, imagine that civil wars erupted because some people believed the book said one thing, others believed it said something else. Some believed it made women subservient to men. Others believed it made all human beings equal. Some believed that it separated the races and made some races superior to others. Others clearly saw the president's words as proclaiming all races equal. Some quoted chapters and statements in the book, which explicitly outlawed homosexuality and condoned the enslaving of other human beings. Other looked at this book and could clearly point to statements saying no man was to judge another and everyone was to treat each other well. And so, wars broke out over these contradictions and millions of people were murdered, raped, enslaved, and tortured. Neighbor hated neighbor, yet they all believed the book was good and the president was good for having wrote it.

The president's proxies could not agree on who was right. They splintered off into little groups based on different interpretations of the president's book and the fighting continued as people further divided themselves , yet still, the president refused to address his loyal citizens in person and clear it all up, but was content to watch the entire country descend into chaos and madness. Now imagine that he declared, through his book and his proxies, that if anyone failed to obey any of the laws he put forth, they would be put in jail for the rest of their lives, where they would be tortured every day. Imagine that, upon hearing this, and knowing all the different interpretations of the book, everyone continued to believe in the president's benevolence. Imagine that no one ever once considered the possibility that the president was long dead or had never existed and his proxies were just making it all up. Imagine that no one ever thought it odd that he never answered any questions personally and that not one verifiable sighting of him had ever been recorded. Imagine that, as you looked around at all the fighting and arguing and hatred, you were the only one who could see the absurdity of it all. You now know what it feels like to be an atheist.

10 comments:

  1. This president would really be a Big Brother. It makes sense as religions have a totalitarian nature. But there is a difference between the situation you are descrbing here and 1984: in the novel's Oceania, the faith in Big Brother/Ingsoc is complete, there is no contradiction or conflict among the believers, the conflict is only directed towards outsiders (even though the other Supertsates have the same basic belief) and unbelieving insiders (who either do not believe in BB, or are not devout enough). The ideal society of many religions is often a tyranny.

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  2. It is not better in Canada. Our prime minister is a creationist and a devout Christian that is very much like the fundies you have in the US. And Google "Jean Tremblay" and "Saguenay". We have our devout idiots too.

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  3. Wrath,

    I enjoyed reading your post. It was well said in my opinion. I've wondered about all of these things over the years but never quite let it congeal in the way you've put them in this post.

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  4. "Christians believe that God hides himself and all evidence of his existence from man, then man is tasked with discovering this elusive deity's existence and if he fails he is sentenced to eternal torment. Did I leave anything out?"

    Say what?!!! I'm a Christian and don't believe that at all. I see evidence of God all around me each and every day and believe in a personal relationship with God. No not here to argue. One of my siblings is a hard atheist and I'm trying to understand how she thinks. I commented because the one thing I can't stand is when people mischaracterize the viewpoints of those who have opposing views to themselves. I have met many atheists and they have radically different views from one another but they all seem to have an intense hatred of Christianity first then organized religion second.But I would not characterize all atheists that way since I haven't met all of them. Likewise many Christians have more animistic beliefs about the presence of God and if you explored Catholic beliefs and Eucharistic Adoration you'd see yet another serious difference in how even professed Christians view God as being personal or detached, hidden or in plain sight. Anyway interesting blog you have here.

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  5. Mahndisa, thanks for your comments. You are, perhaps, taking my statement too literally. I am not saying that any Christian would admit that they believe in a God that hides all evidence of himself. I am certain that most Christians believe their God manifests himself in all kinds of ways. The reality, however, is that there is not one shred of empirical, verifiable, evidence for the existence of a deity of any sort. As Daniel Dennett said, in his amazing book "God: The Failed Hypothesis", the world looks very much the way one would expect it to if there were no God. There is no experiment that can be made to verify his/her/ its existence. This God is neither visible nor audible. You cannot touch it, taste it, or smell it. It has no weight and takes up no space. Therefore, if your God exists, your God does in fact hide himself and all evidence of his existence from man and, if you are a believer, you are, in fact, tasked with discovering this will-o'-the-wisp. Failure to do so (again, according to the bible) results in eternal damnation. This is not a mischaracterization, these are the facts of physical reality and the facts of the bible.

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  6. Wrath...you sir, are quite possibly the most sensible literate I have ever read. Good on you. I have already pointed many debates towards your blog for a read

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  7. We live in a world in which if the Earth was off it's axis by just a little bit we would go crashing into the Sun and yet we are perfectly placed on a planet that supplies all our needs.

    Yup.

    no proof of God.

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  8. Hello deathstalker. The fact that life on earth is precarious does not logically lead to the conclusion that it must have had an omnipotent creator. That's a non sequitor. All that can be deduced by the fact that the earth would go spinning into the sun were it to tilt off is axis is precisely that. The earth would go spinning into the sun were it to tilt off its axis. The same can be said for the particles of energy that escaped that hyper dense singularity after the big bang. If they had accelerated too quickly, mass (and therefore matter) would not have been possible. Too slowly and they would have been sucked back in. You know what that says about the probability of a creator? Not a damn thing.

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  9. How do I get into the god racket? If it's good, I did it. If it's bad, the sinners did it. Again, I wish I had a job where all my people made excuses for me every time something was wrong, saying it's all part of some long-awaited, but ever-so mysterious "plan".

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