Wednesday, March 1, 2017

RUNNING FOR GOD

From early childhood most of us have been taught that there is one God.  Not only did he create everything, but he has always been in charge.  He sets the rules and commands both loyalty and obedience.  Anyone who challenges his authority (e.g., Lucifer and his band of dissidents) is subject to being exiled, and humans who fail to believe in him and to worship him may be destined for perdition.  In essence, we are taught, God runs a classic dictatorship.

But what if creation were not a dictatorship but a democracy?  What if we got to elect our deity and God was up for reelection?   Would you vote for him?  Or would you support a different candidate on the basis that someone else could do a better job, that it’s time for a fresh administration?  Or would you throw your own hat in the ring?

I think I might, actually.  I know that sounds arrogant, but keep in mind that being God might not be as hard as it looks.  After all, I would be God Almighty—omnipotent and omniscient.  I could do anything, run things any way I wanted, and if I didn’t get things just right, I could tweak things as I went along.
  

If I stood for election, here might be some planks of the platform on which I would run.

Better Communication.  All this time God has demanded that we believe in him, but he has done a really poor job of providing evidence of his existence, at least in modern times.  Other than a mishmash of writings from two to three thousand years ago, God has said essentially nothing.  And even those writings were at best ambiguous.  Basically, the writings consist simply of assertions of God’s existence.  They include nothing that would provide independent evidence of that existence.  Scripture could, for example, have laid out a clear description of how the solar system is structured or a procedure for curing malaria.  Instead, scripture is chock full of egregious scientific errors, errors that would be understandable given the ignorance of the times in which they were written but are way beneath what might have been helpful in creating confidence in God’s existence in our times.  Moreover, while God or his agents appeared to make regular appearances in biblical times, he has essentially been AWOL since Jesus’s death two thousand years ago.  Has God been on an extended vacation, or what? 

Human-centric Rules.  God placed way too much emphasis on rules for worshipping him and not enough on rules for how humans should treat one another.  Consider, for example, the Ten Commandments.  The first four are all about God.  And while the other six are about how we treat one another, they are, frankly, primitive and dated.  Moreover, much of scripture can be summed up as a warning that, first and foremost, humans have to pay homage to God, and woe unto anyone who does not.  True, the New Testament introduces the so-called Golden Rule, but there is no nuance to it.  The human community has gotten much too complicated to rely on one general rule that fails to provide guidance in those situations where one must weigh competing considerations.  The rules, instead, must focus on the human community and how best to structure our conduct to promote the welfare of the social order. 

Honesty About the Afterlife.  One of God’s big promises has been the notion of an afterlife:  If you follow God’s rules then death is not the end.  Instead, you can live forever in some sort of paradise.  The easiest thing as a candidate for God would be to continue that promise; that’s what everyone seems to want to hear.  But I am here to tell you that it is time to be honest about this.  There is no afterlife.  Period.  I realize that a lot of people will be very disappointed to learn this.  But continuing the deception would be, in my opinion, worse.  Putting the focus on a nonexistent afterlife distorts how we handle this life, the only one that we actually have.   Moreover, the actual creation of an afterlife wouldn’t make sense.  That seems to be one thing, at least, that God got right, even if he did lie about it.  I have addressed this in a previous essay: http://skepticreflections.blogspot.com/2013/09/i-dont-want-to-go-to-heaven.html, and offer it for your consideration.

No Free Will.  For millennia God has been making excuses for all the pain and suffering that we humans suffer.  He has claimed that he endowed humans with free will, that otherwise they would just be automatons and what would be the point of that.  But the fact is that humans do not have free will, so God’s excuses for the tragedies that we endure simply don’t hold water.  It’s his rules, not free will, that are responsible for the brutalities of life.  I believe it is time to set the record straight.

No Changes to the Laws of Nature.  I realize that it would be easy to campaign on the promise that I would make changes to the laws of nature to eliminate the natural disasters, the diseases, the pain and suffering, the death that we experience now.  That might be the popular thing to do, but I think it would be a mistake.  It would make us into something we are not.  If there were no challenge, no risk of failure, we would also lose the joy of success.


© 2017 John M. Phillips

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