Sunday, 25 December 2011

Repost: Merry Christmas!

Hey, hey, hey! We thought you're a radical atheist! What's this now with Merry Christmas?

Slow down my dears... Despite the rumours you might have heard, even radical atheists can be polite, well mannered, and considerate of others. Even those others who have chose to live their lives in a state of delusion, filled with angels, demons, and ghost - maybe even ghosts of Christmases past.

So, while I still want nothing to do with, and could not care less for, any sort of Christian malarkey, I have absolutely no problem to wish anyone who does a very merry Christmas, and generally everything that goes with it. My wishes may also include one for my dear friends to rid themselves of the religious malaise, but I am wont to keep that one silent. At least for Christmas. There's plenty other days in a year when I can try my wicked ways with them, and their problems.

So, my dearest dears, the ones, at least who care about Christmas, have the happiest one ever! Just don't come complaining to me when St Nicholas turns not to be the one he claims he is. Not to mention he may even be a she.

Have fun!

PS
If you're wondering why a repost, well, aren't all Christmases essentially the same?

Friday, 16 December 2011

If...

Religious or not, you probably wondered at some time or other how it would be if you were a god, or rather, the God...

OK, if you ever wondered how it would be if you were that kind of god then I'll happily give you that it'd be cool, noodly, and most of all filled with fun and freedom lovin' pirates.

But that's not what I had in mind...


What I did have in mind is a deity not unlike the ones advertised by the major(ity of) world religions. The omniscient, omnipotent, and above all, benign entity. I am sure it's not difficult to imagine oneself being just such a person, er, god. What's more, I'll bet you the bottom dollar the experience is also a (very) pleasant one. And I'll bet you your other bottom dollar you played it at least once in your life.

So, with this clear, let's see what the "rules of engagement" look like.

You are omniscient

You know absolutely everything that goes on in your world, past, present - and future. Yes, I know it's quite a stretch for your average capability to suspend disbelief, but that's what major religion teach us. If you're in one of them - or plan on entering one (or more, why not?) - you have to realise this is an idea you'd have to live with.

Immediate problem I can see with this is the future part. If I knew exactly what is going to happen at any given point in the future I'd probably want to kill myself lest I die from boredom. But that is a problem in itself, too! If I were to kill myself I'd have to already know I was going to kill myself, which would make the whole thing even worse.

But, let's not dwell on this, and let's crack on to

You are omnipotent

That's, by the looks of it, the best part of being a god. You can do whatever you want. Whatever. Period.

One thing I'd use this for first would be to modify that omniscient bit above. I wouldn't want to know all of my future. Knowing which horse will win next year's Grand National would be cool. Knowing much more than that would be suicide inducing (see above).

While I go through the benevolence bit, I'll leave you to ponder on whether I would still be an omniscient god of various religions if I decided to deliberately limit my omniscience to lottery winning part.

You are benevolent

You know you're not, really. I mean, who is? Remember, various religions assume their gods are completely and absolutely benevolent. Even if they are doing apparently horrible things they are doing it out of the kindness of their heart. Like that burning in hell for all eternity. Your god prescribed so it must be both good for you, and at the same time, a sign (if not the sign) of their sheer and utter benevolence. Go figure.

***

Now, imagine yourself being all three of the above.

And now, imagine you were to create a world full of people.

What do you mean: nobody in their right mind would want to create a world full of people? You can't choose! If most religions are to be believed, their respective deities did just that. What's more, it would seem that not only they wanted to create a world full of people, but they didn't necessarily also want a world full of Martians ,or Andromedans, or Whateverans. Or maybe they did, but never bothered to tell us. But even if they did, and the religions are suspiciously quiet on this one, we are apparently the chosen ones - about which religions are shouting from the rooftops.

So, you have to come up with a world full of people, and those are your chosen people, the ones you love above all else. Live with it. You are a god, after all.

Now to the most important bit: if you were a god (omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent), and you had to create a world full of people, and for the people, and those people are your chosen people who you love dearly and would do anything for them (including torture and kill your own son) - would this world (and those people!) be anything like this world is and we - the people - are?

I submit to you that you would not. I'd even tell you that you couldn't!

How so?

Well, you are benevolent, aren't you? So why create a world in which your beloved, chosen people suffer? There's no need for suffering at all! You are, after all, omnipotent as well, so you could have easily crafted a world in which your chosen people would be always happy and content. And if you're going to tell me that your people will tend to spoil your gifts and create suffering themselves I will remind you that a) you are omniscient as well so you should have been able to foresee it, and b) you are omnipotent so you would be able to act and correct at any point - preferably the starting point, what with you being all mighty and all perfect, and all.

So, if you (or any god) are trully BOO, then if you really wanted a world full of people who are your chosen, cherished and beloved (BCC?), then it follows that world would have to be just perfect. No stupid and unnecessary suffering, pain, and what have you. That'd be just cruel, and you are such a benevolent god after all.

On the other hand, if we simply removed the benevolent bit then we'd all have a ball! Well, that's if we're all gods, that is. What fun could you (or even better, I) have being omnipotent and omniscient (to a point - remember that Grand National!). Of course, we'd probably create a bit different creature than your average human. Maybe something not after our own image, but something rather more pleasing maybe? And then, what fun could be had pitting those poor (but good looking!) creatures against each other (and maybe select animals, and even plants)!

What do you mean we already have that? Surely not! If we are to believe your average popular religion it is entirely impossible! Their god(s) are benevolent. They love their people (that's us to you and me). They're only doing it for our benefit and eternal life. Oh, and if we can't be forced into being "good" (for any given value of "good") then our deities, in their infinite benevolence, will make us suffer for an eternity. How terribly nice of them.

Therefore, I must suggest to you, regardless of whether there are any gods out there, most (all?) modern religions are, for want of a better word: bollocks. Crap. Utter nonsense. And that's even by their own standards of "proof".

And then, having realised most (all?) modern religions are really talking through their collective arses, you should be free to ask yourself: even if religions are wrong, is there really a god (or gods) out there? And if there were, would it make any difference to us?

I mean, when you look at the human lot, it is most definitely looking as if there's nobody watching, and certainly nobody watching over us. So, even if there were any gods, it seems they're quiet busy elsewhere. Why wouldn't they be. Being omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent, they are busy playing with their people. Or, at best, busy watching us unhappy lot and making bets on what other stupid things bar religion we're going to come up next instead of getting off our collective arses and working hard (and urgently!) at improving our lot.

There may also be one other thing those putative gods are busy with:

Betting on next year's Grand National...