Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Fundamentalist Christian Analogy...Pt. 2

Ok, so all the prophecies of plagues, natural disasters and whatnot in the Book of John's Revelation have been fulfilled, God has separated the wheat from the chaff, and the favored few are out mowing the perfect Kentucky Bluegrass in front of their solid gold houses in paradise. All is bliss in God's heaven. Except for the fact that, down below...

many of the parents, and children, and uncles, and aunts, and cousins of the heavenly host are experiencing an everlasting existence of exquisitely designed suffering; the sort of absolute torture which only an omniscient, all-powerful deity could conceive. Like Freddy Krueger, He knows what you're afraid of! And don't think you can cop out with a "That's just metaphorical imagery" plea. No matter how you slice the pain, hell spells MISERY, and to an extreme our finite minds could not even begin to comprehend.

Now, I ask you: how could a person of, not only conscience, but purportedly PERFECT conscience, be happy under such circumstances? Much less love the God who created this arrangement in the first place? Let's outline the possible answers to this question, and analyze them a bit.

1) The bible hints at the idea that, in the afterlife, God will lift up the spirits, wipe away the tears, and otherwise lighten the moods of His Chosen. How could He accomplish this, given the fact that the preponderance of humankind are suffering eternally in the most excruciating ways imaginable? I suppose He could just lie; assure everybody that their loved ones have been put up in a nice EconoLodge in purgatory. But then, supposedly God doesn't do that- the lie thing, I mean. Many apologists, when wrestling with this question, have come up with the belief that God will simply erase any uncomfortable knowledge from the minds of His know, the ignorance is bliss credo. But for now, I'd like to give the almighty creator a little more credit than this...seems like a pretty fucking cheap trick for a Godhead to employ. Also, I figure He'd want His people to work this out on their own. After all, he didn't recreate those minds and spirits in the image of His own perfection for nothing.

2) I guess people could just learn to ignore, and ultimately forget all about, the downside of the Holy Trinity dichotomy. I'm sure there's plenty to do in heaven, and the ugly truth might easily be forgotten in the midst of all the pleasant activities going on all the time. Not to mention that the focus of eternal worship and praise is probably a great way to get your mind off the fact that some demon is reaming the ass of your 16 year old agnostic daughter with the business end of a pitchfork (and don't accuse me of reaching here. My ex-wife believes that is exactly what's going to happen to our daughters if they don't wise up).

However, it's hard to believe that such 'super brains' could just forget such fundamental and harsh realities. "Have you seen my keys, dear? Oh, and what's that horrible screaming sound in the distance? Sigh...must be the wind."

In Part 3, I'll continue with my list of attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable.


Anonymous said...

You've probably seen this piece at the Hoover Hog. Also related is this essay on "Hell and Population Size." I would take objection to your dismissal of religion, though I agree that the creation of souls who will likely go to hell is an important and inadequately addressed topic.

(By the way, this piece on free will may be of interest.)

Anonymous said...

I've read your first link before, just read the second, and will leave the third for later, I think. BTW, has a great section of essays on the free will issue, if you're interested. Galen Strawson's pieces are exceptional, I think.

I completely dismiss most aspects of most religions; I think their origins are mostly founded upon superstition. However, the Hog has it right when he suggests through his thought experiment that the possible stakes are HUGELY bigger for a believer having a child. My god! Any risk of bringing a child into the world with this threat of eternal torment is unthinkable, in my view. What possible justification, other than 'following orders'? And what justification for that???

Anyhow, thanks for reading, and for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Two things.

First, just the other day I was feeling angry about how some Rapturists of my acquaintance were venting their selfishness in all directions...and expecting to be stroked for it! Oh yeah, we're gonna go to heaven and leave you all behind coz WE'RE BETTER THAN YOU.

Second, there is a lovely chunk of Mark Twain's "Letters from the Earth" in which Satan comments upon how god treated everyone at the time of the Flood. Check it out.

I didn't breed if for no other reason that exposing another human to cruelty and stupidity seemed the cruellest and stupidest thing anyone ever could do.