Pitying God

Well, it’s another Saturday, and tomorrow millions of people will go to their church to worship the Christian deity.

You know, in many ways, God is a rather pitiful figure, requiring millions of his own creation to sing his praises and worship him. Many Christians try to justify this by comparing God’s relationship to mankind as a parent’s relationship to their offspring (just as a parent expects respect and obedience from their children, God also expects respect and obedience from us). However, this is a fake analogy – a far more accurate one is the relationship between a computer programmer and their computer program (I use this one quite often since I am a programmer myself). Frankly, it would be quite pitiful if a programmer was to create a program that was designed to tell him how great he was. I mean, your self-esteem would have to be pretty darn low if you needed your ego lifted by your own creation. And yet, this is exactly what God requires of us! Even if God existed, this is not a being worth looking up to. Instead, it is a being that is to be pitied since even we lowly human beings do not need our ego lifted by having our own creations worship us.

I find one of the greatest ironies is that if God truly is what Christians say he is (all-powerful, needing nothing, fully secure in his own sense of worth) then we wouldn’t need to worship God at all (or even recognize his existence). In short, a belief in a powerful God results in an atheistic lifestyle. Only an inferior, insecure being requires worship and recognition (especially from his own creation), something Christians do not seem to realize.

And so, tomorrow millions of Christians will file into churches in stuffy Sunday clothes to pity their god. I pity him as well.

Thoughts on the devil (Satan)

I was reading Barbara Walker’s wonderful book Man Made God: A Collection of Essays and it happened to mention the tempting of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Today, most Christians consider the snake that tempted Eve to be Satan/Devil/Lucifer who, as Paradise Lost would have it, came back from hell to corrupt God’s greatest creation and put mankind onto the path of sin.

Anyways, this brought me back to something that I had known when I was a Christian (but chose to ignore at that time) and that is that Satan was the one who told the truth about the fruit of knowledge. God specifically said that Adam and Eve will die if the fruit was eaten, and yet they did not. Satan, on the other hand, said that eating the fruit will open their eyes and make them know the difference between good and evil. Although one can sort-of kind-of reinteret God’s words to mean something else (i.e., God didn’t mean they would die right away, only that death would immediately be introduced into the world) but there’s no denying the fact that Satan actually told the truth to Adam and Eve (despite being called the father of lies…).

After reflecting on this it occurred to me that in some ways Satan is like the titan Prometheus in Greek mythology, who brought fire to mankind and was punished for it by Zeus. Satan, or Lucifer (the “light-bearer”), brought the light of knowledge to mankind, foiling God’s plan to keep mankind naive and ignorant. In many ways, humankind should see itself as indebted to Satan and he should be treated as the patron saint of science and technology (as well as all other branches of knowledge). Instead, we have the world’s great religions treating Satan as the enemy and God as the savior! If I still believed in a god then Satan would be the ideal god for me: a god who tells the truth (unlike God and his mysteries) and who encouraged learning and knowledge (unlike God who demands everyone become like ignorant children).

Of course when you think about it a lot of this Satan/devil stuff doesn’t make sense at all. Hell is supposed to be Satan’s domain where the wicked are tortured for all eternity, yet why would Satan want to punish one of his own? Shouldn’t God’s angels be the ones putting evil people through their torments? Frankly, if I was Satan, I would make hell one continuous party for my enlightened followers, with a beer volcanoes and… oh wait, that’s already taken by his noodly appendages :p

Anyways, just some thoughts on Satan…

On evolution and Nazism

This entry was inspired by a documentary that I saw recently. It was a 6-part BBC documentary series on World War II called The Nazis: A Warning from History. In it, the narrator (Samuel West) claimed that Hitler was “a passionate believer in the law of natural selection, the rule of the jungle”. This was quite a shock to me when I first heard it.  I had always believed the links between evolution and the Nazis was false and yet here was evidence that it was true. I looked into this more and found that there are indeed links between evolution and Nazi ideology.

I had to sit down and think about this for a while. Can a belief in evolution lead to ideologies like Nazism? After much thinking I came to my conclusion: no, it does not. In formulating my answer I had to distinguish between two types of “beliefs”. A statement such as “I believe in X” can have two meanings: one is a statement of fact (“I believe in gravity”, “I believe in radiation”, etc.) and another is a statement of opinion (“I believe in abortion”, “I believe in euthanasia”, etc.). To say “I believe in evolution” is, to me, a statement of fact. I believe in evolution because it happened, not because I approve of it (and I do NOT approve).

One of the ideas of those who claim that the Nazis were inspired by evolution is the idea that if a person  accepts evolution as fact then they will also approve of it. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Just because you hold something to be true doesn’t mean you have to approve of it.  If that was the case then everyone who believed in World War II would also be warmongers. Approval or disapproval of something does not depend on the belief of it being true. I think another assumption they make is that evolution is a natural law and thus, those who believe it should follow it. Of course this is completely wrong as well, and is a classic is-ought fallacy. The idea that what is natural is what is right is nonsense. Nature makes a lot of harmful stuff (arsenic, viruses, tidal waves, etc.) and the “natural” process of evolution is a remarkably brutal, slow, and inefficient process. There’s no possible way that I would approve of evolution as a method for people to live by. As human beings we have risen above evolution and can find much better ways of doing things (as Richard Dawkins said, human language and culture is a second type of genetics and it is one that is immeasurably faster). Biological evolution is how we got here, but it shouldn’t be the way we should go from here. What is natural isn’t always better and one should never adopt a policy simply because it is “natural”.

If a Christian were to come up to me and ask if I “believed in evolution” my answer would be “no, but I believe it happened”. I do not “believe” in evolution any more than I “believe” in war or genocide but it’s undeniable that evolution happened (and is still happening). Certainly Hitler and the Nazis may have believed in the fact of evolution but that did not lead to their approval of it. Most likely they used it to back up their own racial hatreds. Stating that evolution is what caused the Nazis to murder millions of people is like blaming Martin Luther’s anti-semitic writings for the Nazi’s extermination of the Jews. In both cases it was the Nazis who made policy (not Darwin or Luther).