Days of Change

Day 261 – Of Gods and Devils | July 23, 2009

As a thought experiment, I was always fond of Pascal’s wager. To put it simply, French philosopher Blaise Pascal proposed that being a Christian and following the rules of Christianity not only was a good bet if God exists, but there was little to any downside in living a Christian life.

As with any thought experiment, your mileage may vary. Distilling the essence of God’s plan is what’s important to me. When you get down to it, there are rules, but there is also forgiveness. To have forgiveness, you must have free will.

Stephen Hawking has stated that God may be the sum total of all the laws of the universe. If I may digress into scifi fandom for a moment, J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5, while not religious, used the term “the universe” in such a way that God could have been used interchangeably.

Lack of specific faith has been a byproduct of this creeping form of determinism. If God doesn’t actually do anything, why bother thinking about Him? This brings to mind another Frenchman,  Charles Baudelaire. He quoted “the devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!”

Christianity and certain other religions have a method to deal with people who fall short. People struggle because the struggle itself has value. The Founding Fathers of this country were good Christian men (if not always good Christians). They believed that we are endowed by the Creator with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights belong to us and cannot be separated from us. They can be taken away, but they always belong to us.

Even if you believe that God is the order of the universe, there is still the possibility of evil. Evil is what seeks to defy the laws of the universe and of man. Taking away our individual liberty in the service of the collective makes us less than human. Instead of being a pawn of a deterministic universe, a person can become a slave of a fundamentally flawed oligarchy.

When I think of faith, this example comes to mind. Let’s say that God decides to directly intervene in the lives of everyone on Earth. He starts by making it impossible for anyone to commit a crime. Let’s say the punishment is swift, painful and universal. Criminality would drop precipitously. Still, would the criminal mind be affected? Do people stop committing crimes because they want to or because they are always caught? What happens if God moves on to other behaviors that are undesirable? We would have a population that lives in fear. Eventually the fear would give way to oppression and desperation.

When J. Michael Straczynski created the epitome of evil on Babylon 5, he created a race that traded power for loyalty, used people as the main computers of their ships and implanted biological minders into their allies. The “good” guys weren’t much better, but they only genetically enhanced people and blew up planets outright.

The worst countries in the world rule by a lifetime oligarchy. They control the means of production. They have minders all around. The seek the pacification of the collective. It’s peace at a very high cost. It seems that the countries with freedom are growing tired of the messiness and disorder of freedom. The freedom to do the wrong thing is considered worse than being forced into doing the “right” thing. The question is, why bother doing anything if you have no choice in the matter?


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5 Comments

  1. God is deep inside. It’s * a source of light, wonder and Goodwill.

    God lives and lets live if only if we so desire.

    I want you to know that I really love Sarah Palin and I am throwing my support not because we agree but because we have a common belief that your personal pursuasions need not be legislated. Freedom is the only answer no matter what you think about anything. It’s American. It is essential.

    I still don’t even yet know what a ‘blue dog’ is and it just occurred to me that I may be one.

    I have always ejoyed your company P4P and I admire you for owning your convictions.

    We need someone to step up and belittle these criminals.

    🙂

    Comment by Papoose — July 23, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  2. free will vs determinism.

    Comment by imustprotest — July 23, 2009 @ 11:35 pm

  3. P4,

    We are at low ebb, yet you gift us with philosophy. As I said to you once before when you offered hope, you’re pretty wonderful.

    1. “Distilling the essence of God’s plan is what’s important to me.”
    Though they may not recognize it as such, to physicists, that essence is the elusive
    theory of everything. For alchemists, it is the philosopher’s Stone.

    2. “Let’s say that God decides to directly intervene in the lives of everyone on Earth.”
    (a) There are millions who say He already does so.
    “not one [sparrow] will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the
    hairs of your head are all counted.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
    (b) Then you are redefining God, and even the very designation “God” no longer
    applies.

    3. “Evil is what seeks to defy the laws of the universe and of man”
    2 Thessalonians: “the “lawless one,” aka, the anti-0 operatesChrist, and you may
    recall whom I nominate for that position. Flouting the Law is how jackass works.

    4. “The question is, why bother doing anything if you have no choice in the matter?”
    One of my undergraduate profs taught us, when we read Dante’s Inferno, that
    the characteristic which distinguishes humans from all other animals is hope.

    5. “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights belong to us and cannot be
    separated from us. They can be taken away, but they always belong to us.”
    Thank you, esteemed friend and colleague.

    Comment by Mary — July 24, 2009 @ 1:43 am

  4. My uncle used to accuse me of pragmatism when I talked about this. I tend to believe that God intervenes indirectly, in ways both imperceptible and fundamental. I don’t think I’m redefining God so much as proposing that He affects the world in ways we can’t comprehend.

    Today, a co-worker was talking down religion and talking up Darwin and evolutionary theory. I find that kind of amusing, because Charles Darwin is the atheist Mohammed. Atheism is still a religion, it’s a belief in a theory that mixes obvious natural selection processes with ill-defined ideas about spontaneous creation.

    Comment by 1539days — July 24, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  5. In your face atheism is a shrill and desperate religion preached by those who, if they but knew it, are disciples of despair.

    Oops, point #2 in my post of last night, after “2 Thessalonians,” should say,
    The anti-Christ.

    Comment by Mary — July 24, 2009 @ 9:27 pm


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