Let Everything Be Enough (A Rejection of God-Belief)

December 18, 2007 at 12:54 pm (injustice, proclamations) ()

Where to begin. This is more of this.

I’ve just been reading this article at Salon, another in the well-worn “science vs religion” vein. Interesting reading, but I was fuming mad just two paragraphs in.

Christianity is not the only religion. “Religious” DOES NOT EQUAL “Christian.” Gah.

Anyway. It’s an interview with a Catholic theologian named John Haught. Mr. Haught’s current work is developing a “theology of evolution.” He’s a big critic of mega-atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. Here’s Mr. Haught (emphasis mine):

[The “old” atheists] wanted us to think out completely and thoroughly, and with unrelenting logic, what the world would look like if the transcendent is wiped away from the horizon. Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus would have cringed at “the new atheism” because they would see it as dropping God like Santa Claus, and going on with the same old values. The new atheists don’t want to think out the implications of a complete absence of deity. Nietzsche, as well as Sartre and Camus, all expressed it quite correctly. The implications should be nihilism. . . . They thought it would take tremendous courage to be an atheist. Sartre himself said atheism is an extremely cruel affair. He was implying that most people wouldn’t be able to look it squarely in the face.

I think it’s time to get out the dictionary. According to my Oxford American Dictionary, atheism is “the theory or belief that God does not exist.” Okay. And nihilism: “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.”

Haught goes on to talk about how only theism can “justify” hope. Hope!

I’ve been having a lot of interesting conversations about religion lately, which I’ll surely blog in the future. But for now, I’m just going to use the insights from those conversation to examine Haught’s assumptions. This is what he (and religion in general) are saying to us:

- There is nothing in the world that could inspire or account for hope.

- The world — the entirety of the perceivable world — is not enough to give life meaning.

- The entire world is not enough to generate moral principles.

- The entire world is not enough.

- Atheism is “extremely cruel” and most people just can’t handle it.

These ideas are not the work of Haught, and I don’t blame him for them. They are some of the most insidious ideas in modern culture, and I fucking hate them. Seeing them laid out like they are above, the reasons to hate them should be pretty clear. Basically, they’re all founded on the deep conviction that the entire world is shit.

Why is atheism “cruel”? It’s only cruel if you find the world to be so awful, so incomplete, so lacking, that an entire separate supernal realm is the only way you can bear to live.

And let’s look at the world “supernal” for a moment — it comes from the Latin supernus meaning above. It means celestial, literally — of the sky. But its usage, quite frequently, is “of exceptional quality.”

Embedded in our very language is the idea that to be of the sky is to be inherently better. Embedded in our language, our religion, our culture is the idea that THE WORLD IS BAD and that to be very good means to be not of this world, to be of the sky.

And this idea causes pain. It causes actual, daily pain in the lives of real people. It has caused me pain. It has rung me through several existential crises and brought me to the brink of suicide one or two or twenty times.

I don’t give a shit about truth. I just don’t. The only thing I care about is suffering. The only work we have to do is the work of preventing suffering. When a culture or an idea or a religion causes suffering, we should reject it. We should replace it with ideas that cause joy and love.

If anything is evil, this is. It is wrong to tell people that everything around them is bad. It is wrong to tell people that everything they will ever taste, touch, see, hear, or smell, everything they can ever perceive, is bad, wrong, tainted, sinful, “fallen.” It is wrong to tell people that the only real goodness, that the divine, exists in another realm which is by definition unreachable.

So this is my message today: The fact that bad things exist in the world does mean that the world is bad. The logical conclusion of “some things are bad” is not “everything is bad.” Some things are good. Some things are very good. Some things are senselessly good. Some things are absurdly, unbelievably, unjustifiably, unnecessarily good. And we don’t need God or gods or John fucking Haught to tell us that.

Let the entire world be enough.

7 Comments

  1. Emily (Sqwigums) said,

    This is my favorite post I have read. Particularly the last line.

  2. Daisy said,

    Thank you Emily Swigums!

    I hope you’re enjoying those CDs. And by enjoying I mean crying.

  3. Sarah said,

    Perhaps you do not understand Christianity fully? maybe?

  4. Daisy said,

    I had a religious upbring in a faith other than Christianity. They do exist. I repeat:

    Christianity is not the only religion. “Religious” DOES NOT EQUAL “Christian.” Gah.

  5. The Many-Headed Goddess, Part 1: An Attempt Has Been Made To Solve The Unsolvable « Our Descent Into Madness said,

    […] An idea (not a very original one): sex is overwhelming and nearly unstoppable, and in that way, it is terrifying. Many of the cultural myths and lies, the cruelty and slander, about sex, are misguided attempts at making sex less horrifying, less uncontrollable. They are attempts at making it understandable (but it is not understandable), making it rational (but it is absolutely irrational), making it manageable (but it is not). They are attempts to mechanize sex, to simplify it, to reduce it to the sum of its parts. (And these ideas would be very applicable here.) […]

  6. Christofacists: Stop Using The History Of My People As A Means To Your Evil Ends « Our Descent Into Madness said,

    […] with being “merely” miraculous accidental creatures in this vast, beautiful world? Why is everything not enough? That is my biggest problem with religion: what is wrong with the entire world? Why is your ideology […]

  7. rafael said,

    PROSECUTION
    Is there a God? I will not try to say yes or no to this question. Rather, I will make this place a law court. I will ask you to be the judge, and I will be the prosecutor. The work of a judge is to make decisions, to approve or disapprove the truth of statements; the work of a prosecutor is to present all the evidence and arguments that he can possibly gather. Before we proceed, we have to be clear about one fact: all prosecutors are not eyewitnesses of crimes. They are not policemen. A policeman may personally witness an event, whereas a prosecutor obtains his information only indirectly. He places all the charges, evidence, and arguments collected before the judge. In the same way, I shall present before you everything that I can possibly find. If you ask whether I have seen God or not, I would say “no.” I am reading or demonstrating what I have gathered. My job is to search for facts and to call for witnesses. You are to arrive at a conclusion yourself.
    THE UNIVERSE
    First, looks at nature, the world that is before our eyes and every phenomenon in it. We all know that scientific knowledge is the rational explanation of natural phenomena. For example, there is an observed drop in the temperature of a patient. The drop in temperature is a phenomenon, and the explanation for it is scientific knowledge. When an apple falls from the tree, it is a phenomenon. Why does an apple not fly into the air? The explanation for this phenomenon constitutes knowledge. A man with knowledge is a man who has the proper explanations.
    ONLY TWO EXPLANATIONS
    The universe displays countless phenomena of diverse forms, colors, shapes, and nature. We cannot fail to notice these phenomena before our eyes. The explanation for all these phenomena is known as knowledge. All thoughtful persons have only two explanations as far as the origin of the universe is concerned; there is no third explanation. You have to take one or the other of them. What are these two explanations? The first says that the universe came into being through natural evolution and self-interaction; the second attributes its origin to a personified being with intellect and purpose. These are the only two explanations presented by all philosophers of the world. There is not a third one. Where did the universe come from? Did it come into existence by itself or through chance? Or was it designed by the One from whom we derive the concept of God?
    CHANCE EVENTS
    What are the characteristics of things that come about by chance? First, we know that they are unorganized. At the most they can be partially integrated. They can never be totally organized. One can achieve a specified goal by chance once, but he can never achieve a specified goal by chance all the time. Anything that comes together by chance can only be integrated partially, never totally. For example, if I throw this chair to the other side of the room, by chance it may come to rest at a perfect angle. If I do the same with a second chair, it may also lie neatly beside the first one. But this will not keep on happening with the third and the fourth and so on. Chance can only provide partial organization. It does not guarantee total integration. Furthermore, all random interactions are aimless, disorganized, and purposeless. They are without order and structure; they are loose, formless, disorderly, and not directed toward any meaningful purpose. Briefly, we can say that the characteristics of chance events are disharmony, irregularity, inconsistency, purposelessness, and insignificance.
    CONSISTENCY AND ORGANIZATION
    Now let us compare the things in the universe with these characteristics. Take, for example, the human being. He is carried in his mother’s womb for nine months and delivered; he grows up and eventually dies. This cycle is repeated for every single individual. Consistency can be observed. It is not a wild game of chance. Again, look at the sun above your head. It does not exist purposelessly. Rather, it has its purpose and significance. Look at the moon, the stars, and the myriads of galaxies through your telescope. Some stars have their own planets. They all follow definite tracks and patterns. They are all organized. Their manner of motion can be calculated and predicted. The calendar in your hand is derived from them. Even next year’s calendar can be printed before this year is past. All these show that the universe is organized, consistent, and purposeful.
    MICROORGANISMS
    Let us turn to the micro-world or quantum mechanics. Take a thin slice of wood. Put it under a microscope and observe its grain and structure, all meticulously regular and rhythmic. Even a blade of grass and the petal of a flower are finely fashioned. Nothing is unorganized or confused. Everything is disciplined and functional. All these things witness one fact to you: the universe, with its macro (the whole universe and galaxies) and micro aspects (quantum), is purposeful and meaningful. Can you say that all these came into existence by chance? Surely you cannot.
    CHANCE OR DESIGN
    The universe has to be created by someone with profound wisdom, vast knowledge, and intricate design. If you cannot accept the concept of random formation of the universe, you have to admit that it was created by such a God. There cannot be a third explanation. The choice is left to you. You have to decide if the universe came by chance or whether it was created by God.
    A DEMAND AND ITS OBJECT
    One witness may not be enough. I will call in another. This time we will consider man’s heart. Before doing so, we should also observe one fact: wherever there is a desire, there must first be an object for that desire. For example, an orphan who has never seen his father naturally has a desire for a kind of paternal love. I have asked many people who were orphans, and they all have felt this irrepressible yearning. By this we can see that every desire of the heart arises out of an object in the world. As human beings we have a need for social belonging. We need companionship and mutuality. If you put a boy on a deserted island and he grows up alone, he still has the yearning for companions, for beings like himself, even though he has never seen a human being. This yearning or desire is the very proof that somewhere in the world there is something known as “man.” At a certain age, man begins to think about posterity; he starts desiring children and grandchildren. This is not a mere fantasy. This desire stems out of the existence and possibility of offspring. Hence, where there is desire, there is an object for that desire.
    THERE IS GOD IN THE HEART
    Do we have any desires other than social identity and self-propagation? What other cravings do we have? Deep in everyone there is a craving for God. Whether they are highly civilized races, such as those among the Caucasians, or the ancient civilizations, such as the Chinese civilizations, or the African natives and uncultured aborigines, they all have a common craving –God. As long as they are men, they have a yearning for God, no matter what race or nationality. This is a fact. You cannot argue against it. Everyone is seeking after God. Everywhere man is craving for God. This is very clear. By applying the principle that we just mentioned, we can see that since our heart feels the need for a God, there must necessarily be a God in the universe. Since there is a need for God in the heart, there must be the existence of God in the universe. If no God exists, we would never have such a craving in our heart. We all have an appetite for food. In the same way, we all have an appetite for God. It would be impossible to live if there was only an appetite for food but no food. Likewise, it would be impossible to live if there was a capacity for God but no God.
    NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT GOD?
    Once, an atheist rudely rebuked me in a loud voice: “You said that a man has the psychological need for a God. But there is no such thing, and I do not believe in it.” I said, “Well, do you mean to say that you never think about God? In fact, even while you were talking, you were thinking about Him. This indicates that you do have a capacity for God. There is no one who has never thought about God. He may try not to think much about Him. Since this thought is in you, there must be such an object outside of you.
    “THE WORDS AND THE HEART”
    A young man once came to me to argue about God. He was vehemently against the existence of God. He gave me one reason after another for saying that there is no God. As he was enumerating the various reasons why God should not exist, I listened to him quietly without saying a word. Then I said, “Although you insist that there is no God and support yourself with so many arguments, you have lost your case already.” He said, “What do you mean?” I went on to explain: “Your mouth can say as much as you want about there not being a God, but your heart is on my side.” He had to agree with me. Although one can give all sorts of reasons in the head, there is a belief in the heart that no argument can defeat. A stubborn person may give a thousand and one reasons, but you can have the boldness to tell him, “You know better in your heart that there is a God. Why bother to look for evidence outside?”Now what would you say? After looking at nature and the universe, after checking with your inner feeling, it is up to you to decide whether or not there is a God. But you should not be irresponsible; your attitude must be sober because everyone has to meet God soon. One day you will all stand before Him. Everything concerning you will be laid bare. On that day you will know God. But now is the time for you to be prepared. We should all be prepared to meet our God.
    Finally is there is a God. Who is he? Who among all the most ancient religions of the world who was the only one who claim to be God’s son?
    There must be a written record of God and God’s son. Among all the ancients’ written records is there such a book?

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