Sunday, January 24, 2010

Evil God - or Evil Humans?

To the biblical literalist, the overriding problem with his venerable "Good Book" (especially Old Testament) is reconciling his "loving God" with the sociopathic displays of petty rage that repeatedly are documented. To set the context here, I will delve into a few examples before showing that the inherent problem is not the psychosis of the god presented - but rather of the narrow, psychotic god-concepts that are the projections of the writers' own feverish brains.

Anyway - some examples:

1)Deut. 22:22

"If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman and the woman; so you shall purge the evil from Israel"

2) 2 Kings 2, 23:24 (Concerning Elisha siccing "God's She Bears'" on little children)

"And he went up from then unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him and said unto him: 'Go up, thou bald head, go up , thou bald head'. And he turned back and looked at them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and teared up forty and two children of them"

You can find a satirical re-enactment here:

3) Deut. 21: 18-21

"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and - though they chastise him he will not give heed to them, then his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of hte place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of the city,'This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard. Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones, so you shall purge the evil from your midst"

Now, on examining and considering these examples, which is more likely: 1) that a psychotic entity-deity with ten screws loose could actually exist and mete out "justice" as manifested in these stories, or (2) the stories were purely the fabrications of vile, debased minds and cruel hearts? In other words, evil men masquerading as wise fonts of ineffable wisdom.

Religious scholar Elaine Pagels - in her book, ‘The Gnostic Gospels’ - makes the excellent point that from the time of the Gnostics (ca. 3- 175 C.E.) - these stories were regarded as gross distortions created by narrow, feeble, vicious and vengeful minds. No surprise then that the "god" which resulted from such deformed and projected fictions would also exhibit a vengeful, vicious mind and heart. I mean - let's get real here: obeying a whiny prophet's curse to dispatch she-bears to rip the jugulars out of small kids because they taunted him? Give me a frickin' break! Only a half- idiot would buy that a REAL God did this!

Pagels points out that because the Gnostics could see through this gross fiction, they dismissed this putative biblical deity as a degenerate sub- being which they called “demiurgos”. Further, NO sane person in any way enlightened by the Essene or Gnostic teachings would pay the least attention to this thing - any more than people today would worship the "boogeyman" or Freddy Krueger.

In his own book, ‘Deceptions and Myths of the Bible’, 1979, author Lloyd Graham also exposes this caricature of a deity for what it is: in reality an epigenetic, tribally-based creation of a tribal people. The perverted "morality" beheld in the preceding examples, is thus none other than that of a degenerate, tribal morality carried out - not out of any wishes of any "LORD" - but a tribal god as defunct and defiling as Baal, or any of the Mayan deities that demanded human sacrifice. That any sane or rational human would pay it any respect is a travesty and betrayal of the human intellect.

.As Graham notes Op. cit., p. 315):

"The only consciousness here is the epigenetic and this is – as yet- wholly incapable of controlling violent forces. This explains why our imaginary God of love and mercy allows these forces to destroy us”.

Another point to make which exposes the fraudulent nature of this OT deity, derives from the earlier essays I did to do with Existence Claims, and assessing Truth. Thus, the unhinged creature depicted in the OT is just an unhinged, debased and narrow manifestation of an equally debased god-concept.

No "God" actually exists here, but god-concepts do - since they are the verbal or artistic ideations which the human brain sees fit to manifest- either in an ancient text or work of art . The beauty or lack thereof, of a god-concept, must inevitably match the capacity of the brain that spawns it. If that brain is limited, degenerate and cruel - so also the god-concept must be. If that brain is generous (with heart to match), loving and refined, so also will the god-concept be. There can be no absolute precisely because each human brain in the end manufactures its own god-concept .....or not.

The atheist, in the end, is simply a person who has moved beyond the realm of god-concepts and doesn't accept any. He recognizes that they are half-creatures of the limited human brain, and even IF a God did exist (which the implicit atheist doesn't outright "deny") there is simply no way a human mind or brain could process it. 'God' is such a concept, since there aren't enough testable axioms or tenets to prove it - or even to identify the necessary criteria for adequacy of operation (which these days more often than not passes for what we call "proof").

Thus, "deity" is unprovable by any system of axioms that can be conjured up by the finite human brain or collection of brains.Put another way, the typical human brain can make 'x' statements about "God" - but these will always be at least (N- x) short of encapsulating the concept in fullness and adequacy. The gap between the statements that can be given and must be given is usually referred to as the "undecidable propositions".

At another level, it is of interest to explore how deity varies as a concept between religions. This discloses there can't be one uniform human perception for the concept. To fix ideas, the typical western Christian regards his or her deity as a personal God, while the typical Hindu regards his or her deity (Brahmin) as impersonal. Even if all other things are equal, how can there be such a vast gap in human perceptions? The fact of such a perceptual chasm must mean either: a) God does not exist - at least as specified by either group, or b) God exists, but no human mind is capable of grasping even the most elemental conception accurately. In either case, it makes no difference whether one "believes" in it or not. Whether an entity is non-existent ab initio - or exists but is unknowable (since the human brain lacks the capacity) means that no belief is incumbent. (And again, those who say otherwise bear the unenviable task of at least giving the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence- to distinguish it from Brahmin, Yahweh, Allah or all other claimed deities).

Thus, it seems the more one uses the term "God" the less he or she is really committed to it, or respects the underlying concept. The more the noun is bandied about, in other words, the less power is derived from it, and the less it impresses one's fellows. This may be why the Buddhists, at least, appear to have risen above the endless chase to follow and cling to a deity which ultimately either doesn't exist or is unknowable. As Buddhist thinker Alan Watts put it (The Wisdom of Insecurity):

"The incredible truth is that what religion calls 'the vision of God' is found by giving up any belief in the idea of God. By a law of reversed effort, we discover the infinite and absolute not by straining to escape from the finite and relative world but by the most complete acceptance of its limitations.Paradoxical as it may seem, we likewise find life meaningful only when we have seen it is without purpose."

If the Rightist Christians and their ilk had much more sincerity it's clear they'd more follow Watts' exhortations, rather than blathering endlessly in intemperate "god talk"- making themselves look like ignorant and clueless asses (espcially if they cling to the literal "goodness" of a derelict creation like the OT "God"!)

Thus, applying the principle of reversed effort, they'd be more likely to back away from a deluded (and ill-informed) certainty - in asserting what "God" would and wouldn't do. Or who he would and wouldn't condemn. Not least because all so-called books of "revelation" are in fact books defined by limited and self-referential god-concepts conjured up by the most primitive (tribal)minds.

Most importantly here, acknowledgement of the implicit use of god-concepts, reinforces the attitude of cautious forbearance. The implicit relativism of all god-concepts acts as a restraint, backing the believer away from a militant stance of absolutism. Ideally, this should dispose him or her to be more judicious and tolerant: tolerant toward unbelievers, and tolerant toward those of different religions. Far from being "wishy-washy", this affords humanity a hope that religious conflicts will one day come to an end. No more Jews versus Muslims, Catholics versus Protestants, or Hindus versus Muslims.

Far from conceding to evil, this necessary acceptance of relativity offers an escape from evil. It is an admission of intellectual humility. An admission that human brains are too limited in capacity and function to access the fundamental answers to life - or to have an exclusive grasp of the "one, true God", somehow denied to all those of other faiths.

Most pertinent, if the nearly universal need to embrace god-concepts is grounded in brain architecture or operation then I think scientists - and indeed the general population, must know about it. It's too important not to investigate scientifically, especially since the findings could be valuable in informing a more fundamental perspective on the issue. Such investigations might also shed light on why a minority group (atheists, agnostics) do not share this need to worship or formulate God-concepts. Do they lack the requisite brain chemicals or wiring? Or, is there a brain self-stimulation dynamic present in believers' temporal lobes that is absent in temporal lobes of unbelievers? Could this be traced to a gene, or complex of genes?

Inquiring minds want to know! Those closed minds who believe they already have all the answers need not apply!

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