Tag Archives: Epicurus

My Problem with Your God 1 – Divinity

Who is this ‘God’ fellow anyway?God

When I say ‘God’ I confine myself specifically to the monotheistic deity of the Abrahamic faiths, as, for reasons upon which I shall elucidate presently, the other faiths of the world, which are either polytheistic or spiritual, do not arouse my philosophical ire to such a high degree, as their humble gods do not lay claim to the vast theological estates as the supercilious, capitalised God does.

So, what is this ‘God’ thing? It, though often described as ‘He’, is the creator of everything “seen and unseen”, the supreme ruler of the universe. It is described as being all-powerful, all-seeing, ever-present, unknowable, and as a being of infinite mercy, wisdom, love and compassion. It is also wrathful, angry, vengeful, destructive, silent, and judgemental. I have no issue with a god having some or any of these traits, but God cannot. It can be either one, or the other; it is either infinite or finite. The polytheistic gods were divine, but limited. They could, and often did, die. They have human traits and failings because they are reflections of the people who invented them. The monotheistic God is granted the supreme prejudice of being omnipotent. This is a coherent deity-concept only if you accept the full implications of its construction; it is entirely unknowable, such that no fragile human mind could grasp the extremes of reality that such a being would inhabit. Which is fine, but then people attach human notions to this supreme being. It is ‘good’, ‘merciful’, etc., petty human conceits, which would be entirely alien to such a being. This is due not to a lack of imagination on behalf of the faithful, but either an impossibility of imagination or purposeful obfuscation by the keepers of the ‘Word’. By attaching human characteristics to this thing people hope to grasp it in some fashion, but it was never designed to be held in the mind. It doesn’t even have a name; ‘God’ is its title.

It might be said that this God is infinite and the human attributes attached to it would be present in any self-aware being capable of reason, just taken to an infinite extreme. This might lead one to the Epicurean dilemma,[1] but I am more concerned with the clear folly of this idea. An infinite and supreme being would just as equally have no understanding of finite and pathetic creatures, such as us, as we would of it. It, I’m told, lives forever and is beyond time, we do not and are not. Pick any attribute of this peculiar deity and it will fulfil this formula. Death, which defines us, means nothing to it; how could it comprehend us if it cannot even share in this most crucial aspect of our being? It could be said that because of its supreme nature it can understand us while maintaining its own ineffability. To understand something it would have to be that something. I cannot understand what it is to be a bat, unless I were a bat. But seeing as we are dealing with the divine, let us allow it this latitude of understanding. Would it not now then be moved by its infinite compassion to help? But that again leads us to Epicurus.God-Python If it understood us, all of us and everything, then it would be, at least in part, us and everything. This is pantheist, and heresy. Aside from the thing itself, what is attributed to it is farcical. It lives in a kingdom in heaven, it has a throne, a son (depending on the faith), and vast armies of loyal soldiers. This is clearly a monarch, a king, a human invention.

Choose then that your God is either finite, knowable, comprehensible to the human mind and is prone to the same failures and weaknesses, or infinite and beyond understanding. The former is clearly the God of Abraham and all his descendants, while the latter is what is often professed by the faithful in their less than infinite wisdom. Pick the petty God and live in fear of his (gender might be applicable to this incarnation) wrath or in hope of the eternal reward he will provide in his kingdom. This God is not worthy of worship, and, more importantly, is not real. Pick the infinite God, and abandon religion and those who claim to interpret this being’s truth for they lie. While there is no good reason to believe that such a being as ‘God’ does exist there is a chance, however unlikely, that it might. If it did, it would be the infinite God, and so far beyond the intellectual capacity of humans as to be not worth even thinking about.

So, even if God exists, it doesn’t matter.

Ceterum autem censeo, religionem esse delendam

[1] “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

Epicurus – Greek philosopher, BC 341-270