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January 18, 2006

“Atheists claim they have morals, but they have nothing to base them on, so where do those morals come from?”  –A friend of mine


Time to make people hate me!  Yay!


What if there was a God, but he didn’t want us to believe in him?  Think about it.  If he wants people to believe in him, he can just show up and say to a chosen few, “Believe in God!”  On the other hand, if he didn’t want us to believe in him, what could he do about it?  Obviously, he can’t just show up and say to a chosen few, “Stop believing in God!”  The only thing to do would be to keep silent and hope people eventually forget.


Here’s another mind-blower: What if the devil planted the idea of belief in a God into people’s minds?  It would be one heck of a hoax, wouldn’t it?  All those appearances and commands from God in the Bible, and even the Bible itself, the works of the devil.  Seems impossible to pull off.  But then again, this is Satan we’re talking about; he’s no novice when it comes to deception.  In fact, he always works in disguise, doesn’t he? 


Maybe God made us to be inherently good, and figured as long as we use our inborn sense of logic and common empathy for our fellow man, and we think long and hard about what is truly right, and come to our own conclusions about the world, we can lead good lives.  So he leaves us without any commands, commands that the world might later grossly misinterpret but still hold fast to because they have “the power of God” on their side.  God knew that the idea of a highest power would lead people to claim a kind of righteousness in following it that would not fit with the kind of humbleness, soul-searching, and most of all, uncertainty that his plan entailed.  But Satan saw his opportunity and seized it.  Satan knew that people would look for easy answers, and he provided them.  Of course, he couldn’t just tell people to murder everyone and be completely immoral; the good that God instilled in man would be enough to see through that strategy.  No, he had to veil it with a whole mess of commands that are essentially good, and in these he hid a few others that appeal to small prejudices and expand them.  And he gives slightly different commands to different people, so they would always be fighting over whose word is the true word of God.  Ever wonder why Jerusalem is the holy place of not one, but several religions?  It wouldn’t be because God wanted centuries and centuries of bloody conflict in that area, right?  Then why?


And now that Satan’s plan is in place, what can God do?  He can try to give people the true word, but at this point, wouldn’t it just bring even more conflict into the picture?  There’s no way he can distinguish his own commands from the thousands that Satan put forth.  People would start a witch hunt to put a stop to his followers before they even started.  The best he can do is try to stop Satan from doing any more damage than he’s already done and wait for people to wake up and finally see that there are no easy answers, that we all have to work through them ourselves.  And he has faith in us, because he knows we have the ability.  He gave it to us himself.  He believes, with all of his heart, that we can do the work of God–by not just doing whatever we think is the work of God.


Just something to think about.  And, for the record, I realize that this “theory” of mine has not a trace of a solid foundation beneath it.  Cough cough.

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12 Comments
  1. I’m thinking what if God is just one big, giant Santa Claus…
    Like we die and it’s like, “surprise” …we believed in flying reindeer and were obviously wrong so…. what if God is just an extension of Santa and our parents bought into it, too?

  2. “Atheists claim they have morals, but they have nothing to base them on, so where do those morals come from?”That’s just embarrassing. Taken to its logical conclusion (which is just a horrible way to go about this in any way, shape or form if you are part of a denomination based on FAITH), you end up in an infinite regression (our current thoughts stemmed from these previous thoughts which stemmed from these previous thoughts which stemmed from these previous thoughts), and what do you end up with at the very beginning? Oh yeah, we don’t freaking know. As far as I know, atheists take their morality from the outside world, which really isn’t all that different from those who take their morality from a book written by people attempting to capture the thoughts of a supreme being. Lost in translation is more than a great movie directed by a chick who can’t act.”What if there was a God, but he didn’t want us to believe in him?”This supposed God (at least the Christian one, and most other ones I suppose) would want us to believe in him of our own volition, otherwise faith and free will would be non-concepts. In this way, anyone who tries to prove the existence of God is not a true believer, because come on, it’s called ‘believing,’ not ‘knowing’.”What if the devil planted the idea of belief in a God into people’s minds?”I’d like some expansion of this train of thought. Even if God didn’t want us to believe in him, as I see it it’s more that he wouldn’t want us to believe in him because of him, so what’s the problem with an ‘impartial’ third party stirring up the ol’ belief train? I do like where you’re going with the final theory as a whole, though. I like to think that if there is a God, he would like to see his creations using their God-given talents to challenge the ignorant acceptance of his existence. Really, what does he stand to gain from people going “yay god” without devoting more than ten brain cells to the matter?It sort of goes with a theory of my own which I like to run through my head from time to time, though. I propose that in the beginning, God was all that was, and created us in his image in an attempt to understand that which he could not; that is, himself. In this way, of course he wouldn’t force us to believe in him or attempt to convince us to- I mean, it would ruin his inquiry, and really, would HE even believe in himself at that point? I still can’t prove that I exist, so…All I can hope for is that he’s getting something from all of this crap I’m doing.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    cough. God by definition is a “being than which none greater can be conceived”, according to Anselm. He is then necessarily omnipotent, for by definition, none is greater. if He created all other beings, as his title necessitates, then all such entities, Satan included, derive their power from Him. therefore he is the source of all life and all subordinate beings have no power over Him. after all, one cannot surpass God, for he is the greatest we can conceive of. if ultimate power rests in God’s hands, then Satan has no power over Him, only humanity. but humanity is Satan’s target. and if he has power over humans and can exploit their many flaws, it seems as if God has lost. however, God must have absolute power, as he is the ultimate Creator; he cannot lose, and this is why faith is centered around God. and if God is the ultimate victor, as his existence as creator necessitates, then Satan cannot win. the Bible then cannot be a collection of lies, as mere deception cannot defeat God. true, we are mere pawns. but although pawns may change hands, they are always the same color. according to Scripture, we are “created in God’s image”, and inherently good, as the existence of morals dictates. but what if the Bible was in fact the work of Satan? as you said, the “whole mess of commands [that] are essentially good”, and it is human folly that distorts it. either way we have a sense of justice that is derived from a greater being. this could be Satan or God. however, God has complete power over both mankind and Satan and thus, Satan cannot control our morals. he can affect our course of action; we have free will. if God has faith in us to overcome our ignorance, then we will. God is God, and is necessarily victorious. on second thought, you are right that Satan has diluted our true sense of morals by introducing conflicting “scriptures”. but one of these must be the absolute truth, as it is all God is willing to do to help us defeat ignorance. like albert said, he doesn’t want people with an ignorant acceptance, so he allowed multiple and conflicting “scriptures”. it is our duty to weed through these and discover the true one; there must exist one true path, for truth must exist in one form or another for the notion of “false” to exist.
    about Satan implanting the concept of God into our heads .. if this were so, then Satan would in effect be our true “God”. after all, as the argument implies, he existed first, and created the “God” we know as God.
    cough wheeze cough. sorry about the incoherent stream of consciousness, i was thinking through typing, and since its already typed, i dont feel like erasing it. shoot me down please

  4. Well, Wilson, as stream of consciousness goes, I’d say that’s pretty coherent.  But anyway, since you asked so politely, I’ll do my best to shoot you down.
    You started off by saying that God is a “being than which none greater can be conceived,” and a lot of your points play off of that definition.  But if Satan was the one who gave us that definition of God, then obviously he was trying to mislead us.  Like you said, he created the “God” we know as God, and the real God does not fit what we generally think of as him.  That’s a really cheap shot, though, so I’ll go a little further.  Maybe no being can be more powerful than God, but that definition doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a being as powerful as God.  What if we said that God is the creator of the universe and Satan, and then Satan turned out to be as powerful as God was?  Similar things happen all the time.  The son grows up to kill the father.  Or like in Aladdin, where Jafar wishes to become a genie, and the Genie grants his wish–and turns Jafar into a genie every bit as powerful as he is, “and everything that goes with it.”  Earth could be an equal battleground between good and evil, it’s just that we assume that creating another being so powerful is not within…. God’s… power.  Hm.
    There’s another thing: I have problems with the idea of omnipotence in general.  No one’s really given me a good solution to that old riddle (maybe you can): Can God create a mountain so big that he himself cannot move it?  But that’s another cheap shot, and really, being as powerful as is possible within the bounds of logic, and being more powerful than everything else, is plenty powerful enough.  But on the other hand, infinite power being logically impossible implies that there can always, always be something more powerful.
    Still, let’s forget about that and just assume that God is a lot more powerful than Satan.  But like you said, God allows Satan to exist because he can provide the conflicting scriptures that makes sure people don’t have an ignorant acceptance.  So maybe God just lets Satan create all the scriptures and doesn’t give the “true scripture.”  Yes, he wants to help us defeat ignorance himself, but the fact that he is allowing Satan to provide the scriptures shows that he’s also a big fan of testing us.  Not providing the real scripture just makes the test more difficult, right?  God has a lot of faith in us, so setting the grading curve a little higher shouldn’t be a problem.  Because again, with my theory, it’s about not having any easy answers.  The different scriptures do provide lots of different ideas, which is really a good thing–Satan’s plan does nothing but serve God’s ends, once again.  But the problem is, people tend to adhere to a single scripture and believe that one exclusively.  And I have to think that, for a lot of them, believing in just one scripture isn’t the result of long years of careful consideration.  I mean, is it just coincidence that the population of some sections of the world overwhelmingly believe one doctrine, and the population of other sections overwhelmingly believe in another?  Maybe, if what God really wants of us can be found anywhere, it is distributed throughout all of the scriptures.  Or none of them.  He might just want us to figure out our own morals from “the outside world.”  After all, he gave us our senses, right?  Maybe that’s because he wants us to use them to perceive the world on our own, and not take answers that he gave us.

  5. “There’s another thing: I have problems with the idea of omnipotence in general. No one’s really given me a good solution to that old riddle (maybe you can): Can God create a mountain so big that he himself cannot move it? But that’s another cheap shot, and really, being as powerful as is possible within the bounds of logic, and being more powerful than everything else, is plenty powerful enough. But on the other hand, infinite power being logically impossible implies that there can always, always be something more powerful.”This is the fallacy of humanism: assigning human boundaries to a nonhuman being. Which is more supreme, God or logic? What happens with this is that God is capable of creating a rock so big (or a mountain so large, or a burrito so hot) that he cannot lift/move/eat it… and then he does it anyway, because he’s God. If God wanted to humor us and remain ‘logical,’ he could also give up his omnipotence in order to create this rock/mountain/burrito, in which case the question becomes not ‘can he’ but ‘would he.’

  6. But all theories therein are chained down by the paradigm that so blankets this country especially that there is a higher power, that some being is all-powerful, and that we are all the creations of something higher than ourselves. Maybe God is the adult version of Santa Claus. The idea of him was impressed on you (and I speak generally here, not in reference to a particular individual) by someone who was born before you were, someone who wanted to give you a sense of the magic they wished was in this world as well as give you a reason you would easily accept to do what they said and follow their teachings. Maybe they invoked the idea of a higher power not to manipulate you, but to give you a reason to live by what they thought were morals. And maybe whoever did this was not the one that taught it to you, maybe she or he that taught you believed the teachings as firmly as you do, but if you went back far enough…
    And let’s consider for a moment that there is no higher power – that God and Satan and all the gods of the religions that are not Christianity (which I focus on only because it is most prevalent in this country) are the creations of human minds, rather than humans being their creations. Perhaps within all of us there is an eternal spirit that is connected to all the other spirits in the universe and which together make up the life energy that we feel all around us. In this scenario there is no other that may judge you, for only you decide whether in your life you have been successful or no, and you define this term yourself. As such you may choose to live out lives as you will, personally knowing when there is a lesson you need to learn from some different position in society and making and holding agreements with other beings to come into their family in this life or the next. Maybe you strive toward your own perception of perfection, maybe you simply try to continue an infinite learning process. Each time you enter the physical world you can try to make it a better place for future generations, for they will involve you. You owe nothing to anyone, you are self-reliant, but you remain connected to the eternal spiritual consciousness of the universe.
    And then you could call the eternal spirit by the name of God, and here we have come full circle. But this God is not one separate from you that decided where you would live your one life and will judge your goodness when your single lifetime has ended. This God is not He or She, but We, and within that We there is You, and You are You. And while so many religions seek to comfort you in the knowledge that there is more out there, isn’t there a certain comfort and satisfaction in the idea that You are the more that is out there? That what you have is attributed to you alone, and that you are completely in charge of your own fate? Perhaps you need to know that your life has a purpose ordained by one more powerful than yourself. In that case, though you may not be able to communicate freely with your spirit, know that You chose your life for a reason, that you are always gaining experience from the life you lead, and strive to better yourself because of it.
    As for the idea that atheists have no place from which to draw their morals, I believe that I draw my morals from myself, from my innate sense of what is right and what is wrong. And if I make mistakes so be it, for I will learn from them and do better in the future. Or to twist my mind even further, maybe what I learn now will help me do better in the past, for time may be an illusion, an idea we live by that We in reality have full controll over. And there again I give both Me and You ever more power over our own existence.
    Or perhaps I am wrong, as I surely am in some way or another, for I cannot know the ultimate truths, and I fullheartedly accept this fact. But I believe that what I say, which is what I deeply feel to be the meaning of things, has some merit. And this is enough for me, though in no way do I try to impose this on you.

  7. let me add my own chapter and a half to all these fools
    it’s hard to care about something that you dont believe influences you. however, if you could see what influenced you then you admit to the fallibility of a superior being. our ignorance of a higher plane is either because of the lack of its existence or an example of the perfection that comes from that being
    as bruce almighty said
    “i’ve got the power”

  8. Anonymous permalink

    sorry chris im not used to xanga discussions so i forgot to check your xanga =(
    you mentioned the possibility that Satan is just as powerful as God .. if this were the case, then the ‘spiritual’ battle would conclude in a draw. we would not be bound to the influences, or morals, of either entity; we would have to derive our sense of justice from “the outside world”, as you later mentioned. we would have no obligation to God’s faith or Satan’s temptations; our actions would be dictated by our surroundings. but the very existence of such opposing infinite entities would require a decision. we must either follow God or Satan, and ignoring both would get us nowhere, as both are infinite. there is no equal balance, no equilibrium. one power must surpass the other, be it God or Satan. true, we cannot know which is greater, but the vast majority of us choose God. this is not to say that we have created God. we just assign the title to the entity that each of us desires to be God. good and evil are opposites, and as God and Satan each represent one, they are opposites. however, they are not equal, because then good and evil would both be meaningless, and all that follows from that would be disorder in an intricately ordered universe.
    anyways, lets assume that God IS the greater power, as you said. and lets say that he allows Satan to test us with false scriptures. but the supremacy of God necessitates moral absolutes, which he dictates. how are we to discover these moral absolutes? if they are in no scripture, then we are left with the outside world and ourselves. the former is a dead end, for why should we become dependent on other imperfect and ignorant entities? there can be no perfection from imperfection; we could see glimpses of the truth, but this would be a mere illusion, or a distorted reflection at best. so we must look within ourselves. we are also imperfect, but our greatest resource at the same time. we are limited only by ourselves, so others cannot impose limits or “morals” upon us. we dictate our own morals. but how can we trust our own conceptions, as they are molded by a society of equally imperfect peers? we can find morals within ourselves, but by doing so we are acknowledging the existence of a God, because without God and Satan there is no good or evil. and if God then exists, we are incapable of creating our own morals, for we are then making a futile attempt at becoming God. we must then assume that if we cannot find a true sense of justice outside or within, then we must find it in something that God gave us.
    this could be scripture, but as all scriptures are diametrically opposed, there can only be one true Scripture written by God. but must we sort through millions of letters, all recorded by imperfect men? this seems to be another dead end, if we assume that Satan is the devious author of millions of such texts. so God must have given us something else, and Christ is the missing piece that bridges the gap. he cannot be man, because man is imperfect, and we would still be left with nothing. so he must be God in a form that we can relate to. Christ would be a guide, a shepherd, in essence, God’s demonstration of faith and method of allowing us to grasp his sense of justice. with the existence of a God, the end purpose of life is to glorify him. if we are imperfect and he is perfect, then we need Christ as a sort of guide. but who is “Christ”? this is merely a name for a third entity, and he could exist in any religion. however, this figure must exist in some form of scripture. so it is then a question of which. the true scripture is “God-breathed”. i use this term because all scripture is recorded by man, an imperfect being, so the best we have is the “essence” of God’s law, which is what we regard as morals. i guess my version would require accepting Christ to acknowledge God as God, and scripture would then be a form of gaining more insight into an infinite and omnipotent God.
    oh yeah, your riddle .. God cannot be bound by logic, for logic is the product of man. sure, logic points to God and seems to be our most reliable guide, but if God is truly God, then he is hopelessly beyond our comprehension, and therefore not bound to our conception of logic.

  9. I guess, effectively, my religion is logic.  I do tend to believe in it almost unquestioningly.  And, like religion, it gives me a certain amount of comfort and meaning in my life.  I mean, if something as consistent as logic actually turns out to be inconsistent, how can I even begin to make meaning out of anything?  
     
    But, let’s consider a couple of implications of a God who can transcend logic.  He wouldn’t have to create us to learn more about himself, that’s for sure–he’d just learn it without doing a thing.  He could also make everyone believe in him without interfering with free will.  No, it doesn’t make sense, does it?  
     
    And he could most definitely create a being as powerful as himself–but then, yes, the more intriguing question would be, would he?  I say, why not?  I mean, most people think that God never loses, right?  Well, if you played a game–say, chess–every day of your life, and you played with one king and all the rest queens and your opponent played with one king and all the rest pawns, and your opponent sucked at chess to boot, you’d get pretty bored, wouldn’t you?  Every game would just be the same old thing.  The game only becomes worth playing when you’re evenly matched.  So maybe God created Satan to be his foil, in a sense–one who has all of his abilities, who is strikingly similar to him, yet is fundamentally at odds with him at the same time.  God made us in his image, right?  Our sense of adventure could easily have been modeled after his own.   
     
    Also, I’m afraid your argument about “one power must surpass the other” went right over my head.  Why can’t there be an equilibrium?  A constant battle between good and evil?  Isn’t that what life is, basically?  Saying that the “spiritual battle” would just invariably conclude in a draw is like saying that if God is greater than Satan, then there is no such thing as evil, or vice versa.  Just because two people are evenly matched doesn’t mean that the result is always the same.  To use the chess analogy, you can play against somebody and lose one day, then come back the next and beat them.  That’s what keeps it interesting: you don’t know what’s going to happen on a given day.  
     
    And why can’t there be good and evil without God and Satan?  Does all light flow from the same source?  Does all anything flow from the same source?  Then why must all good flow from the same source, why can’t it be dispersed among humanity?  
     
    And why can you get morals from a Christ figure yet not from anything on Earth, when “all scripture is recorded by man, an imperfect being, so the best we have is the “essence” of God’s law, which is what we regard as morals”?  Okay, so that word actually comes directly from God, but it’s still interpreted by imperfect beings.  Just “glimpses of the truth… a mere illusion, or a distorted reflection at best.”  If perfection cannot come from imperfection, as you said, then as imperfect beings, we have no hope.  But then, the goal isn’t perfection.  It’s improvement.  And there’s no reason why you can’t achieve that from the outside world.  If God did create the world, then the world is God’s ultimate creation, his chief work.  Doesn’t that mean that the world as a whole is perfect, though each of us may be imperfect?  And again, couldn’t God have bestowed us with an inborn ability to perceive the truth, which we would need anyway if we are expected to pick out the right word to follow?  It’s like Mr. Chayo says: It’s not about the grade, it’s about the knowledge.  If you get your morals from having it dictated to you, fine, but you’ll just forget about it later.  If you get your morals by deriving it from the truths you can perceive, even better, because it’s ingrained into your very way of thinking.  
     
    More evidence supporting the fact that you can get morals from the outside world even though it is made up of other imperfect beings: There used to be slavery in this country.  Now there isn’t.  The influence of religion between these two time periods has been more or less the same.  What changed was the interaction of society.  Improvements in technology led to imperfect individuals interacting with a greater and greater number of other widely varying kinds of imperfect individuals.  We learn from each other.  Plain and simple.  
     
    And if you do need a Christ figure for morals, how do you begin to go about choosing one?  Like different scriptures, different Christ figures can give you conflicting messages; whose advice do you follow?  It still comes down to a guessing game, just as if there had been no Christ figure at all.  And what if the real Christ figure God sent down is not found in any of the major religions?  What if he came, and we just never recognized him as God, because we’re imperfect beings?  If you’ve never even heard of the Christ figure God sent, it would make it pretty difficult to follow his word.  And moreover, the Christ figure is still mortal.  That means we can’t just go to Jesus’ house today and ask him what he meant by something he said; we just have to hope we’re following his advice correctly.  I would think that if God were to make a “bridge” between him and humanity, he would make it a constant, something that’s always there to connect him with you no matter what time period you live in.  Again, the outside world fits the bill.

  10. Sorry about the one-paragraph format there, for some reason pressing enter to skip lines in the comment box doesn’t translate into skipping lines on the finished product. 

  11. yeah you have to use the HTML ‘break’ tag. chris stop trying to implement your christian fundamentalist beliefs on the world. just kidding

  12. Anonymous permalink

    If we have a God who transcends our capabilities of logic, then we really can’t reduce him to logic. We can’t assume that he will tire of winning every game of chess.  We can’t assume that he created an equal power for the sake of competition.  Along the same lines, why would he create us?  There’s no logical explanation.  We are ignorant, spiteful, insufficient in every way.  If he didnt need us, then he must have created us because he wanted to.  But then that confines him to logic, haha.  What are your thoughts on this, why are we here on this earth?
    I like what you said about logic being consistent, otherwise “how can I even begin to make meaning out of anything?”  If God transcends logic, then it is certainly insufficient in describing him and his intentions.  And if God is within our concept of logic, then he is not perfect, he is not infinite, he is not God.  Where could we find meaning?  I still haven’t figured this out, I started looking through the Bible for answers.  I feel like I’ve gotten a better understanding of God, but like you proposed, it could all be a sham.  I guess the reason I’m reluctant to turn to the “outside world” is that I haven’t been able to disprove anything in the Bible.  I can’t seem to grasp your idea that “the world as a whole is perfect, though each of us may be imperfect.”  How can millions of imperfect beings comprise a perfect whole?  It’s like our bodies. We have limbs and organs that cannot survive on their own; they are imperfect in a sense.  These limbs and organs can be combined to create a body that is definitely an improvement, that can live.  However, that body is not perfect either; it will fail sooner or later.  It is imperfect because it is comprised of imperfect constituents.
    You asked why there can’t be an equilibrium.  I’ve been wondering how there couldn’t be.  If good and evil were equally balanced, how would we have good and evil?  We couldn’t punish someone for murder.  And if someone else dedicated their life to helping others, why?  It just seems to me that there would be no end goal, no purpose.  The way I see it, we value good because we know it is greater than evil.  We could never bring ourselves to embrace the doomed side.  About the topic of a Christ, you said that if God were to make a “bridge”, “he would make it a constant”, and that this constant would be the outside world.  However, you previously cited the issue of slavery as evidence that the “outside world” changed.  Sure, we could certainly take our morals from each other and improve.  But who are we to say what improvement is?  The outside world’s morals are shaped by a society that embraces greed and kills for the trivial.  Five hundred years ago, people discussed philosphy for fun.  Now we discuss Lindsay Lohan’s bulemia.  Who knows, five hundred years later, slavery could be morally justifiable again.  I just see a necessity for an absolute truth that exists whether we do or not.  When we turn to the outside world, we are forming the truth for ourselves, from an inconsistent source.  I guess the reason a Christ figure appeals to me is that we cannot even come close to comprehending God, and he is a figure we can relate to, a bridge.  I do not view him as mortal; where is his body?  I see Christ as a constant, as a bridge that never shakes, no matter how hard the wind blows or how many nails are pounded in.  There is no evidence that Christ ever “sinned”, ever erred.  You could say that we must have faith in humanity, but humanity no longer has faith in God.  I truly believe that we should all find God for ourselves, but society cannot lead us to him.

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