Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

God, Government, and Magic

Published full of typos and not edited because it took to long to write and I’ll edit it later.

If God is not self evident to you there can be no evidence.  God is god because he is godlike, and not humanesque.  For God to be God it reasonable to expect that God is bound by space and time.  Good proof requires a control group.

Wikipedia (may its servers turn forever) says “A positive control is a procedure that is very similar to the actual experimental test, but which is known from previous experience to give a positive result. A negative control is known to give a negative result. The positive control confirms that the basic conditions of the experiment were able to produce a positive result, even if none of the actual experimental samples produce a positive result. The negative control demonstrates the base-line result obtained when a test does not produce a measurable positive result; often the value of the negative control is treated as a “background” value to be subtracted from the test sample results, or be used as the “100%” value against which the test sample results are weighed.”

If God exists, God’s actions must be quantifiable.  To test these things we need control groups.  If God is everywhere at once, then he cannot be isolated from a group to create a control.  Anything which cannot be isolated cannot be tested.  The universe is beautiful, but beauty is subjective.  Subjective experience does not constitute proof.  So, I say again, if God is not self evident, then God is not evident at all.  (I make note here, nonevident and nonexistent  are not identical.)

I don’t think you can make a world view which involves a personal God that doesn’t fall apart at some critical junction.   A personal God means the “Author of Creation”  When one believes that life is a grand story, then one wants to find one’s part in the story, and one is entitled to a certain place in the story.  This is called magical thinking, a favorite subject of mine on my blogs.  Magical thinking is, in essence, applying order to non-ordered events.  A person engaging in magical thinking takes the random distribution of events in life and weaves them together into a story, replacing statistical likelihood with the divine.

All human beings know basic right and wrong.  They how they feel about people stealing their stuff, thus they know its wrong to steal.  They know they don’t want to die, thus its wrong to kill.  This is why all the disparate tribes of humanity worldwide have more in common that not when it comes to taboos.

Stealing is taking that which we didn’t work for.  We don’t want the things we have worked hard for to be stolen, so we know that stealing is wrong, but other people have such nice things… So how can we steal without feeling like we have does something wrong?  One, apply to the great story.  “Oh, I have suffered so. Surely, it’s my time to have something nice.  I have worked, and worked, but still I don’t have the things I want.  Why that person over there hasn’t suffered at all!  Surely, I could take just a bit of there stuff.”  This is textbook rationalization, but the key here is that the rationalization is taking place in the context of a grand story.  Two, we form groups of people who agree with us, allowing us to reinforce our values by making them (locally) normal.

I think the above is the explanation to organized human suffering.  I am not so naive to believe that if people just quit magical thinking there would be no more violence or suffering.  That, ironically, would be magical thinking.  There will always be individuals who hurt people not for any other gain than the pleasure of hurting people.  Helping those people see the truth of their rationalizations and social groups won’t help at all.

But to really hurt people you need a group.  Serial killers kill their tens, and world leaders their millions.  Existentialism says life is absurd.  My mom put it a little simpler: Life isn’t fair.  I think all the stupid wars, all the religious persecution, all the terrorism boils down to one thing: A group of people who cannot accept the fact that life isn’t fair.  They “should” have gotten more, so they do things they know are wrong to get it.

You look at Hitler.  We like to pretend he could have won if this, that, and the other thing, would have been different. Bullshit.  As soon as the US entered the war it was all over but the crying.  Wars cost money, resources, and men.  We had more of all three.   Hitler didn’t have the managerial talent to run a shoe store, let alone an imperial economy.  But he thought he should win.  His only victories were the one’s that loyal patriots (who thought he was a chode and were fighting for Germany, not the Fuhrer) won.  Once they died, or were purged, he started losing.

But why did the German people tolerate him in the first place?  Oh, sure, he seized power by a conspiracy, burned down the Reichstag, etc.  but other men who tried similar ploys found them less effective.  Julius Caesar, for instance, was stabbed to death by his friends.  Hitler was allowed to keep his illegally seized power because he told people what the wanted to hear:

Their troubles were someone else’s fault and it was OK to take stuff they didn’t work for. They didn’t work to buy northern France, they took it.  They didn’t buy the houses of the Jews, they took them.  For the Nazis the war was giant criminal undertaking encompassing murder, theft, protection rackets, and smuggling.  (Read about the Vichy Regime if you don’t believe me.  The Nazis pealed France like an orange, after promising not to do so.  Beware the promises of armed men who demand you remove your ability to defend yourself.)

Rather than the truth: Life isn’t fair.  We are going to have to work really hard to fix these problems.

This is sort of the “war clause” of morality.  Its wrong to beat people up and take their stuff, or threaten to do so. Unless your at war.  Then it’s cool.  Now, in our enlightened age, its wrong for an individual soldier to mug people, however, if the government at large wants to take the conquered’s stuff, well that’s reparations.

Terrorists?  See life’s just not fair.  They didn’t the country they wanted, they weren’t treated right.  We don’t respect them enough, we don’t respect their God enough.  So it’s OK to kill us.  Drugs violate the Koran’s teachings about self control, but its OK to run them pay for the terror.

Offensive war, terrorism, jihad, holy wars, concentration camps, gangland, all of it.  It’s a bunch of people who can’t accept that LIFE. ISN’T. FAIR.   So they decide that its right to do wrong.

If we really want world peace, the issue isn’t guns and bombs.  People act out what they believe and the belief that leads to organized misery is this grand narrative that there is certain way things SHOULD be and the universe itself favors them being that way.  There is no should be, just the way things are.  The change the world needs is the end of magical thinking.

October 25, 2008 Posted by | atheism, Government, Politics, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment