|RANT FROM OCTOBER 2008
"The Definitive Proof"
Many centuries ago Thomas Aquinas worked hard at compiling proofs of the existence of God. They were not quite completely convincing, and over the ensuing centuries many theologians and philosophers got into the discussion. Baruch Spinoza, Rene DesCartes, Bertrand Russell, Paul Tillich and many others joined in. Sometimes the game switched into trying to prove the non-existence of God. Recently four books which deny the existence of God have become best-sellers; the authors are Dennet, Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens. And I wrote one of my own, FREEDOM FROM GOD: RESTORING THE SENSE OF WONDER, but it has not yet become a best-seller.|
Thomas Henry Huxley invented the word "agnostic," which felt like a safe position for many. "Not-knowing" is what it means. But what it really means, in most cases, is, "I don't know, and you don't either!" Nowadays the key word seems to be "atheist." The four books mentioned above are shelved in chain bookstores under "atheist lit." "Atheist" is Greek for the Latin, "non-theist," and means simply, "no god." Sometimes it is used to deny the existence of "the god everybody has in mind without thinking about it." Socrates, for example, was executed for being an atheist, even though he believed and tried to obey some sort of "transcendence." He simply didn't take seriously the gods of his enemies.
Many reject the label "atheist" for themselves because one supposedly cannot prove a negative. "You can't prove that there is no God, of some sort, somewhere." Joseph McCabe dealt with that argument in a practical manner. If your wife wakes you in the middle of the night and says, "There's a burglar downstairs," you can get up, put on your slippers, grab your shotgun, go down and search the entire downstairs floor of your house, and come back, satisfied of the truth. "There is no burglar downstairs."
Practical atheism, in our time and place, doesn't mean checking out every corner of the universe to see if there isn't some kind of a God lurking somewhere. It means, "Does THAT God, the one described in the Bible, the one worshiped by hundreds of millions of practicing Jews, Christians and Muslims, exist?"
Well, now we have definitive proof. Sarah Palin, candidate for Vice-President of the United States of America, stated on network TV that God approves of the Iraq war. That statement, and the subsequent non-reaction from on high, gives us the final incontrovertible proof that the God of the fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims is not there.
"God is a Spirit, infinite and eternal, infallible, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent, just, loving, truthful." If that God existed, he would have zapped poor Sarah immediately, for slander and blasphemy. Would he approve all those deliberate lies, and all those dead and maimed? He obviously would not.
Jesus of Nazareth quoted a commandment, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Sarah sure did exactly that. But God didn't take the bait. Because he isn't there.
Abraham challenged God, in one of the early stories, "Shall not the judge of all the world DO RIGHT?" What? Approve this war, with all the lies and terror bombing, door-breaking, mass slaughter, maiming, raping, torturing, false imprisonment, all the limbs lost, all the brain damage, all the cholera and dysentery? It's becoming hard to imagine how anyone could approve of such things - even Sarah herself, let alone a kind, just, loving, almighty God.
What? Can't God do mathematics, or even arithmetic? One million dead in retaliation for three thousand dead? Is God just or not? None of the million dead had anything to do with the attack on the U.S. which is supposedly being avenged.
No self-respecting God would tolerate such a twisting of everything he supposedly stands for. So he must be what we suspected all along - not there at all.
Our country and our species are in very serious trouble, on several fronts. But at least we do have this old question settled once and for all.