20 December 2016

Stumbling into familiar obsessions again... (God, atheism, etc.)

I found this line drawing on the street; that’s why it’s so dirty. Apparently it’s a page from a coloring book for children. My guess is that someone began highlighting the damsel’s bangs and then got kidnapped. All I added is the text; which I cut from the same package that accompanied my recent death-quote entry.

Dear diary,

Would you rather travel the world to experience adventures, or stay in one private room and imagine everything?

You people who stay in one room all day and imagine your adventures, as opposed to living them out in the exterior smog – how many of you actually CHOOSE to be room-ridden? My guess is that a number of you are in jail, and a number of you are scared to wander outside for very good reasons.

What is an adventure? Skydiving, snorkeling… How about descending into penury – is that an adventure? Is death an adventure? Think about God, up there in his cloud, just sitting there, watching. Is God adventurous? I say God is the opposite. If you are a God who never leaves your cloud, you’re no better than a human who never leaves his room. Get out there and experience the world. Become mortal. Have some death.

I can’t mention God even flippantly without imagining a heckler shouting from the audience: “I refuse to listen to your god-talk, for I am an atheist.” But all atheists are not so irksome. I would say that even most are model citizens. Of course there are bad deists, bad believers of all religions, as well as bad atheists; yet there are also non-bad everything. The problem is that the worst are often the loudest. But the caring atheists understand what I mean, because they deign to imagine the view from my nutshell. They can tell I’m a royal solipsist, and thus my words cannot be…

The truth is that I just read an article about atheism, and so the topic is on my mind; so I wanted to poke at it. There was something about the stance of the article’s author that bothered me: the fellow seemed to be coming at the issue from the standpoint of pantheism. And pantheism exasperates me, as does almost everything except…

I label myself an atheist. But I also relapse into belief whenever I talk to a believer. Those believers are persuasive. Plus it’s much more enjoyable to converse with a companion when you are both building upon a shared idea, rather than wasting time butting heads. So I wonder if I’m maybe a false atheist: a traitor to the cause, unwilling to suffer martyrdom for tohu-bohu…

What must one do to qualify as an atheist, excatly? If I read the work of a poet and exclaim “Emily is divine,” does this invalidate my atheistical certification? I would think not, because atheists grasp that the term divine is practically always used figuratively. (It’s the fundamentalists who are semi-literate.) Yet, do any religious terms exist that are NOT employed without some degree of figuration? In other words: Aren’t all humans atheists at heart?

It’s too bad we can’t just return to that simple way of thinking, which says: When lucky things happen, God has favored you; and when misfortune occurs, God has stiffed you. Then we could all love or hate God, in the same way that we experience good or bad hair days. It’s all just boring destiny. I myself, citing the divergence of my intellect from my class, would claim that God has turned his back on me; and people might argue: “But you possess adequate food, clothing, and shelter.” Then, after a lengthy trial, I’d have to admit that our deity has indeed treated me fairly. But I’d remain suspicious.

We’ve been taught to show thanks for whatever good that God gives to us. But I say: We should work overtime to prove that God is not blessing us enough.

Yet, above, I wrote: “…can’t we just RETURN to that simple way of thinking…” —To return to a method requires that we once utilized that method; and now I’m doubting that we…

When has humankind ever performed anything as a unity, en masse, all together? Maybe if we were to act in concert for once, we would realize our collective self as the Sole True Atheist.

I do not use that A-word sarcastically: I mean to insinuate that if we humans all come together and form God, then our first communal thought will be: “I am lonely.” And we will hope that one of the other spheres contains a similarly united deity, to be our friend.

But say that some alien planet’s inhabitants form their own God, just like we did, and they also build an intergalactic transport system that allows this God to visit us. We shake hands and introduce ourselves. We take a photo, standing side by side with our deific comrade, and label the picture: TWO GODS; which is to say: TWO ATHEISTS. For there’s no way we’re going to be able to avoid suspecting the absence of a being superior to either of us, of whom we are both diminutive echoes. Am I wrong?

And if humankind as the Earth God lovingly embraces the Alien God, shall we fuse into the Sole True Super God? Will this result in us giving live birth to a godling? Or will we just be lonely again?

The godling scenario interests me. First, if we two deities, upon coupling, do not literally become one godflesh, then it would seem that the task of bearing our offspring would fall to either the Earth or the Alien deity (unless we’re both hermaphroditic and respectively pregnant with twin halves of the exact same God, like Yahweh and Satan). And who decides such things?—the same fate that drives poets mad? Also: shall the godling be inferior to its parents, or equal, or shall it possess some other unthinkable relation?

This godling, being a combo (so to speak) of two divine gene pools, shall be full Atheist; but won’t we, its parents, appear to our child as divinities? We’ll therefore have to decide if it’s wiser to disclaim our apparent godliness, or to adopt this minor lie to our advantage. It will be a temptation. And what if complications arise in our attempts to hoodwink our newfangled superior issue? Foul play might result.

Oh, thou clear spirit, of thy fire thou madest me, and like a true child of fire, I breathe it back to thee. […]

Oh, thou magnanimous! now I do glory in my genealogy. But thou art but my fiery father; my sweet mother I know not. Oh, cruel! what hast thou done with her? There lies my puzzle; but thine is greater.

Those outbursts are Ahab’s, from Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville, chapter 119: “The Candles”. Last night my sweetheart and I watched a movie: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004); it’s a tragicomedy that contains many light references to Melville’s book; I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen the film: it’s one of my favorites: it’s genuinely funny and genuinely sad at once – I think it’s among the best films that have been made in my lifetime – but many critics panned it when it first appeared, because “He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry out the wealth of the Indies,” and they lacked the fancy to do this. Too many of my generation’s so-called film critics are…

I stop myself from dreaming up an insult. Instead of upbraiding those who review movies for a living, I should offer my own contributions to that discipline. Take action rather than complain. After all, what’s stopping me?—am I afraid that I might prove not a whit better than the herd?

I’d like to run for U.S. president, next time around, but my stance will be simply to avow that I will try my best at the job: although I’m opinionated, I have a lot to learn, and I’ll be a good listener. I’ll admit when I don’t know the answer to any question; I’ll say: “The way this argument is being phrased is too complicated for me to follow – economically speaking, all I want is to make life better for the vast number of average and downtrodden people.” And when bloggers and pundits excoriate me in magazine articles and through video rants, I’ll attend to those criticisms gladly: I’ll implement the stuff that I agree with, and pass over the stuff that seems wrong. My goal is to become such a distinguished candidate that the power-mongers will reward me with assassination.

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