Saturday, October 9, 2010

gods, monkeys and me

Disclaimer: the following is intended for entertainment purposes only. Any similarities to the actual opinions of the author are purely coincidental. People who believe in divine old men with large beards, and thunder bolt throwing abilities, may also actually belive the previous statement, please do not hold it against them...

Is there a God?

There's an easy answer to this problem which has plagued mankind since time immemorial: NO.

Well that settles it, my work here is done...

Uh all right, for those who insist on pushing the issue, let's talk, shall we?

We'll pretend for arguments sake that there is a glorious being far beyond our comprehension watching over us, because make-believe is fun (I'm an atheist, so I worship a monkey, there s/he is over there to the right, hi Ozomatli. You know people give me shit because of this. Religiously intolerant bigot mother fuckers. )

Truth be told, I don't have a problem with the idea (truth value aside) of postulating the existence of something greater than yourself. Why not create a God in your own image? It's been in vogue for millenia now. We're genetically motivated, mostly hairless, apelike, bipedal, carbon based life forms. It's all part of the program. This means 2 and a half things: 1. We have a strong desire to survive; 2. We want to multiply and replenish earth (aka fuck); and a 1/2. and this one separates us from the animals: we have a weakness for believing in deities, like 90% us anyway. I don't know how this last part happened (as always wikipedia has an answer), but it did, and now we're stuck with it for a while. Is it too much to ask though, that if we're going to make up gods, that we at least make up some cool ones?

Imagine "a being than which no greater can be conceived." That's how the ontological argument for the existence of God starts. I wont waste your time with the rest. OK, let's step back for a moment. Judeo-Christian-Islam monotheists what have we come up with thus far? Is our conception of the greatest being ever the best it can possibly be? Well, wasn't I just saying something about intolerant bigotted motherfuckers? The man up stairs apparently is a misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, genocidal, megalomaniac if we're to believe anything the Bible teaches us. God you need a new PR team. Now, granted these prejudices affect the best of us from time to time, but shouldn't we expect better from a guy whose very fabric is woven out of the ethereal mists of love? Then I remember it's all bullshit, and everything makes sense again.

Oops, we're still pretending, right? This is the most benevolent entity in (or maybe outside of) the known universe, but he's still got a wicked sense of humor. You see, dinosaur fossils and the lay of the land were put here as way of testing our faith. It's Bill Hicks' Loki type prankster god in action, setting things up to look like he had nothing to do with anything. Believe without any substantial reason to do so. That's asking a lot faith, for the privilege of paying The Church oddles of your hard earned cash. Heaven's for sale, don't ya know. In a bad economy, start a church.

We could go into the Problem of Evil and a whole bunch of other stuff, but let's finish by talking about the well meaning jabronis that perpetuate these myths. Religion in theory is about creating a world were "black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, protestants and catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" (courtesy of Martin Luther King Jr, so OK they're not all jabronis, some revisionist historians don't like the guy, but he's cool in my book, holla ), so the end game is a mother fucking hippie love fest, where we'll all live in peace and love, and harmony, except, that is, for those dastardly unrepentant sinners who alternatively will burn in hellfire and brimstone for all eternity. This is were things start breaking down.

First of all ecumenical efforts although they exist are not the strong point of most religious (especially fundamentalist) institutions. If we start accepting that there's more than one way to climb Mt Fuji, the message gets diluted, solidarity decreases and the flock doesn't feel so bad about wandering into strange pastures. The answer is to make outrageous claims like exclusive authority from God, life after death, the good version of which is an exclusive right of the members of the club etc. Remember the bigger the lie the more believable it is, this is doubly true if you include an incendiary price tag. Marketing 101. Enforcing near impossible behavioral requirements of adherents also helps.

Now far be it for me to say that people shouldn't do any of this if it makes them happy, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I see at the very least 3 problems with the above approach to life:

1. It creates a culture of elitism, where it's always us against them. The dreaded 'Other' is out there plotting away. This is dehumanizing, we're all on the same side mother fuckers (I'm aware of the irony of this statement)

2. The primary source of motivation always seems to be either fear or guilt. I don't see how this can be healthy and besides isn't this an all-loving God we're talking about? Don't fuck up though, hell's been set to simmer just in case, no pressure. Some people compare God (especially the Mormon version) to a Mafia boss, "Nice family you got there, it'd be a shame if something were to happen to it." Then you gotta jump through all these hoops to make sure they make it out of this life without getting cooked in the next one. There's a name for that kinda shit. Ah, yes: Terrorism. I also, kind of miss being told every week how badly I'm doing... The "beatings will continue until morale improves" mindset doesn't serve anyone well. Surely there has to be a better way.

3. Finally, the entire enterprise is dishonest. Call me crazy, but I think it's crazy that no one thinks it's crazy when certain "prophets" claim that they talk to God (and he talks back). Like God has nothing better to do than sit through the endless meetings and wade through the endless bureaucracy that these guys seem to revel in. This is why I worship a monkey, at least I know when its throwing shit in my direction. Hail Ozomatli.


Justin said...

"We're genetically motivated"
Yes Loren you/we write all this offensive stuff online due to a genetic motive don't we? Instead of eating and having sex, we are doing a far more important thing for our genetic survival. I'd like you to explain that motive one day.

1. "It creates a culture of elitism, where it's always us against them."
It's not elitism as long as the enemy is real. The enemy is not my non-mormon strangers, collegues or friends

2. "The primary source of motivation always seems to be either fear or guilt."
Yes, now I realise, the reason why I love my growing relationship with God and get so much satisfaction out of life is all because of fear or guilt.(to quote Homer Simpson to Mr. Burns "in case you haven't noticed, I'm being sarcastic")

I'm still waiting for "What 3-months of Hell taught me pt 2".

Loren said...

Well, I think it's clear that we're not exclusively motivated by those 2 factors, but they are a common feature in all animals. I was kind of riffing on a book called The Third Basic Instinct. Religion isn't exactly what's referred to in the title, but it's one of the by products. Look it up it's well worth the read. It'll help not only explain my motive, but why we keep discussing all this stuff.

1. "As long as the enemy is real" Highly questionable.

It's hard not to expect that there'd be a value distinction, between people when one is "chosen" and the other is not. I remember I always used to feel sorry for all those poor non-members who didn't know any better. I feel sort of the same way about church goers now.

2. Yeah that's just the way I frame it. One could say this church gives people hope because of the promise that families can be together forever. Of course I look at it the other way: e.g. what they're saying is that unless you do exactly what you're told you'll never see your family again (note: no matter what you do chances are you'll never see your family again after you die). So to me it just looks like a power play, we'll get the drones marching to our dull drums with our fancy unsubstantiated promises and one day take over the world etc. How do they pull it off? By playing of insecurities like what happens when we die? What about my family etc. The church gives you a million tasks to do, home teaching, welfare, family history, callings, meetings, ward activities, scripture reading, these are reality shields, it's impossible to do all of them, we become so busy in our little world that we fail to realize that there's a whole universe out there waiting to be discovered. In meetings we're continuously reminded how we should be doing better, so people recommit to the impossible, and continue chasing rainbows. When will the madness end.

part 2 is on the way

Justin said...

"it's impossible to do all of them, we become so busy in our little world that we fail to realize that there's a whole universe out there waiting to be discovered."

I symptathise somewhat on this point. Yet, I can think of a number of people who do do them all (or most of them... heck, even myself), and do get out and discover the universe. they are by worldly standards, very sucessful and intelligent people. As my one of my favorite sayings goes, "you can eat everything in the fridge, just not all at teh same time". Make what yo like of that.

Loren said...

some people see through the cracks, some don't. It's still an effective strategy overall for preventing leakage.