“BECAUSE I COULD”

I don’t remember who and where it was (not that it really matters — they’re everywhere and nowhere), but I saw a news report recently of a computer hacker who, when caught and asked why he did it,  answered “Because I could.”

How ignorant is that? I mean, if I were to do likewise unto him, impersonally drive him crazy and arbitrarily make his life miserable, would he let it pass if I told him I did it “Because I could?” I’m not God, after all….if I were, there would be no question of letting the victim figure it out for himself. I wouldn’t have to tell him anything.

Except if I were such a God, how I could live with myself….which, it seems to me, is why man had to invent a god in his own image — a God who works in mysterious ways, a God who at least professes to care, at least pays lip service to empathy; and, to go man one better, promises eternal bliss in a next life for those who love, honor and obey Him. Above all, man cannot have a Creator whose mixed bag includes God-caused suffering for which He is morally responsible. Man brings more than enough grief on himself in this life  — he needs all the help he can get to get through it without losing it.

But, assuming there is a non-invented Creator (which I assume is a non-starter for atheists), what are we to make of created reality?  Wouldn’t a realistic relational afterlife (if there be such) demand that a Creator apologize to us as much, if not more, than we apologize to Him for wronging others? And if that is the best we can hope for, how surreal is that? How could there be a moral Creator who supposedly would have been cognizant of all this from all eternity? Can you say “premeditated?”

And that, my friends, is why it is much easier to be either an atheist or a believer in the God of religion — any religion. No muss, no fuss, no getting all bent out of shape (except with each other). Whatever you do, don’t be a deist, or even an agnostic. Why risk torturing your brain with conundrums that tie up your mind in knots?

Because you could.

 

 

 

MORE LIFE AFTER DEATH

In my last column many moons ago, I reflected that I don’t know if there is life after death. I don’t have another such scoop….but I do have another reflection.

Suppose the Creator had created this universe in exactly the same way, minus human beings? Without sentient, more-or-less intelligent beings capable of realizing/appreciating the wonder and wonders of creation, what would have been the point of creation? And, by eternal extension, what’s the further point if realization/appreciation cannot continue to be shared beyond the grave?

Unfortunately, this otherwise logical rationale for an afterlife rests on an imperfect foundation. In the real world, human beings may die in infancy or survive a while longer in unawareness, insanity or other stunted capacity. All too often, fate is the determinant of whether individual human beings ever reach the capability point. Perhaps primitive man, locked in a brutish daily struggle merely to survive, and without language by which to contemplate, lacked such capacity. In any case, we seem to be back where we started.

So, what other impulse (for lack of a better word) might have motivated creation? Love? Not if love’s golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) applies to the Creator of man’s subjugation to suffering. Curiosity (as to how would man play the cards he was dealt)? This suggests not only that the Creator didn’t know, but was bored.

Enough. For a deist (at least, for this deist), it is all but impossible to envision an afterlife based on any relationship other that might makes right….which, come to think of it, bears a striking resemblance to the God of the old testament.

We are indeed back where we started.

DEISM AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN

I was a practicing Catholic for decades before finally confessing (to myself) that all that practicing hadn’t really made me believe the “revealed” God is the real God. If you, too, are a slow learner, perhaps my evolution to deist may interest you. Not that I seek a label for my spiritual status, but the definition of deist appears to fit, so….

I’ll start here: the belief that God is perfect, and Leibniz’s contention that this is the best of all possible worlds, seem to stand or fall in concert. Thus, even if God is perfect in his omnipotence and the world is the best possible arrangement of natural laws, by what logic does it necessarily follow that the creator is perfect morally? Wouldn’t a perfect God know that might does not make right?

The opposite side of the coin, atheism, also fails my “smell test.” There isn’t a snowman’s chance in hell that the complexity of the universe and life came about by anything other than intelligent design. But this design must include ALL of creation. You can’t pick and choose, crediting the creator for all things good and beautiful while absolving him for creating diseases and natural disasters. Let’s face it – we were deliberately made to suffer and die and not know why.

Some have tried to put a positive spin on suffering by saying it can build character and maturity. But how does that apply to infants suffering from terminal cancer, for example? Others justify our mortal condition by defending some variation of the might makes right argument. How does that square with the “God is love” claim?

I don’t know if there is life after death, but it doesn’t seem to make sense that the creator would go to all this complexity just for the sake of creating and then walk away from it. Surely, given reversed roles, the creator wouldn’t want done to him what he has done to us. And yet, unless everything can somehow be made right in the next life, what is the basis for a moral, loving relationship between creator and created (not to mention between created and created)? In that context, the word “somehow” seems beyond amoral omnipotence.