Creationism

Let us assume, for purposes of argument, that the Christian fundamentalists are right, and that the world was created as described in the Book of Genesis. God the Creator, omnipotent and omniscient, did the whole job in a week. But was this omnipotent God also benevolent? He certainly moves in mysterious ways, judging from what He has caused to happen. Is it possible that God, when creating the earth, was motivated by celestial concerns beyond our understanding, and humans just assumed the benevolence bit, in a rather arrogant act of wishful thinking? Here are some possible scenarios, sketching possible motivations for an omnipotent God constructing the earth and humanity as we know it:

1) All the World’s a Stage:

In movies like Jurassic Park and Titanic, the movie moguls have created virtual reality that is overwhelmingly convincing. Dammit, those dinosaurs, let’s face it, scared the bejesus out of all of us, and we all half drowned when the Titanic went under. Where is all this leading?

If you take the realism of Hollywood’s latest megaproductions and extrapolate it, maybe you come right up to and onto what we see around us and fondly and firmly believe is the one and only true reality, namely our planet earth and all the weird and wonderful life forms on it, including the weirdest of all, namely our good selves. In short, maybe we too are just one more relatively advanced form of virtual reality. Maybe Shakespeare wasn’t kidding, and all the world really is a stage. Maybe all this prancing around, all this sturm und drang in our lives, is just for the amusement of some celestial party or parties unknown.

This notion that life as we know it is just some sort of expanded theater could explain a lot of things that now are inexplicable. Lawyers, for instance, and the behavior of the U.S. Congress. But its most useful application, perhaps, is that it could provide a rational, consistent explanation for the view of the creationists that God created the earth and everything on it in a week, and that this extravagant display of inventiveness took place about 6000 years ago. Yes, it took the movie industry years to produce the Titanic, but God presumably has more advanced technology. Not only was He able to put everything in place in a week, He even salted the earth with things like dinosaur bones to confuse us and to provide even more raw material for the unfolding human drama. (Think of His celestial audience rolling in the aisles at the sight of us terrified humans watching Jurassic Park).

This could explain why so many humans are running around right now slaughtering each other, and why so many of us lead tortured lives, whipsawed by all sorts of ethical and other dilemmas. Probably the audience got a real kick out of the Elian Gonzalez case. Our God really picked a winner, when he invented H. sapiens! His ratings have never been higher!

2) Caviar and Pate de Foie Gras:

Who can be sure, in this totally unverifiable series of conjectures, what an omnipotent deity’s motives really were when he created us? Perhaps He is in something like an agrobusiness, supplying a market composed of masses of other deities with a special kind of food, namely, human souls. Perhaps we are flattering ourselves, but our souls may have a respected corner in the celestial cuisine, being sought after in much the way caviar and pate de foie gras are in our own better markets.

Can we further assume that different kinds of souls command different prices in this market? Judging from the way religions drive us, the souls of young men who die heroically in battle, or otherwise martyr themselves for their God and nation, might be exceptionally valuable, like the best grade of Beluga caviar. Women who die in childbirth, presumably because their faith precluded an abortion, could send souls heavenward that would be prized like the best pate de foie gras is here on earth. And so on. The Old Norse may have had it right with their Valhalla concept; they were doing God’s bidding even more accurately than Christians or Muslims.

God could have run a special during the Second World War, or more recently during the fracas between Iran and Iraq, the supply of choice souls being so large. On the other hand, the soul of a crusty old nonbeliever like me, probably destined to die in his bed of old age, would likely end up as pet food.

This scenario lacks the comic dimension of the first one but is even more plausible as an explanation of the way human history has unfolded over the millenia.

3) The High School Lab Project:

Maybe human history has a totally different explanation that is still consistent with the creationist belief. Maybe God is like a high school student with earth as the project he has been assigned to manage for a while. And maybe He is not a gifted student, in fact He is a bumbler. Can you hear His teacher complaining to another faculty member: “That Yahveh, he screws everything up! Can you believe it, last time I looked at his project, he’d managed to get the world polarized into two armed camps, armed with nuclear weapons, and on the verge of blowing up the whole shebang! I barely caught it in time. No telling what he’ll do next. The lad needs a lot of supervision…”

If this is the nature of creation, maybe the true believers should address their prayers, not to God, but to His faculty advisors.
_____________________

I could go on, but enough is enough. I’m not trying to persuade the diehard creationists that science is right and they are wrong. They’ve made their bed, and they can lie in it. All I’m trying to demonstrate is that even if they are right, their God may be all-powerful, or he may be benevolent, but he surely isn’t both.

Carl Coon (6/30/00. revised 7/7/00)

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4 Responses to Creationism

  1. Anthony Cook says:

    No I’m sorry Carl I don’t agree with you. He’s benevolent, loving, the way we love our children only moreso.
    All-powerful? It’s tempting to think He is but it depends how you define it. He’s not so powerful He can override our free will which He’s committed to preserving for the benefit of everyone on earth. He’s not so powerful he can remove all evil from the earth (which was not His doing in the first place – His plan for us was going to be long-term bliss if our forebears hadn’t dropped the ball) –
    As I was saying, He’s not so powerful he can remove all evil from the earth to protect us, if it’s going to cause eternal harm to the vast populations of His children in other planets or realms (I’m not sure which).

    I understand that you think these are just alibis I’m putting up, how could you think otherwise unless you studied the literature (the bible) as if your life depended on it for five years? And why would any sane person do that?
    I’m not going to tell you the story of my life. But if you’re curious, I decided to give up on atheism five and a half years ago at the tender age of 58, and to act as if God is real, and the bible is His book. Not as if there’s a 5% chance, as if He is and it is. And I was able to do this because my life had come to an end anyway, I had nothing to lose. And I wanted, if it just so happened it was true, to be able to do something for everyone else in my world for once, whichever way it turned out.
    Initially it was only going to be for a couple of months, but that stretched to six, then to a year, now to 5 1/2 yrs and counting.
    And whaddaya know, turns out it is true.
    I’m in the process of writing a book on it all so as to let as many people as I can know about it. And I hope I can be convincing, I’m not what you’d call a talented writer. But maybe He’ll give me a hand.
    Anyway Carl, I’ve taken up enough of your time. All the best mate. Watch out for my book.
    Anthony

    • Thoth says:

      Ahhh the Bible and it’s study in English! What can I say other than that our study of this book in the English language has led to the formation (or rather schismatic splitting) of over 2,000 different churches that disagree with each other on one point or another. One of my personal favorite interpretations of that book though comes in the form of a novel that explains the garden of Eden in a way that the author of this website might even like. It’s called Ishmael (by Daniel Quinn). The wikipedia article will give you a good idea pretty fast of what it is about:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael_%28novel%29

      Now as for your proof of God debate, you might want to learn two Spanish words to help you out if you don’t already know them: Conocer and Saber. I would agree with the author of this website that we definitely have NOT proven God’s existence so that everyone can universally SABER it as a fact. However, many people personally feel that they have found proof of God’s existence within their own personal experience which means that they CONOCER it. Because we have lost or missed out on the distinction between these two words in English because we are limited to the our one verb “to know,” we tend to run down ridiculous roads in English arguing endlessly about what we think we have intellectualized about God and religion, but this only leads to endless divisiveness and doesn’t tend to help any of us out.

      John 8:19 spells this out for us pretty clearly if we can catch the point as the Greek language (like Spanish) as has a better set of words than English for differentiating philosophically about different kinds of knowing:

      “Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.”

      This verse nails the point about CONOCER verses SABER. So make sure you side step the landmine of arguing about SABERing that God exists in your book if you can. It will be a much more interesting and helpful read if you do.

      Then when you are ready to publish, a word of practical advise. Self publish your work as an E-book on Amazon. If someone desperately wants an old fashion hard copy in print, Amazon will print on demand one copy at a time at an extra high price, but in general most people can just instantly download your work onto their Kindle or Nook electronic book readers and take it (and the rest of their personal libraries) around with them where ever they go. I just found out about this over the course of this last week, and I can’t wait to jump on board with this myself. I too plan to self publish by the end of August. Hopefully we’ll also eventually see the entire contents of ProgressiveHumanism.com’s complete collection of essays in E-book volumes on Amazon too!

      Thoth

  2. Carl Coon says:

    Thank you, Anthony, for being the first visitor to this underemployed essay. My purpose being purely satirical, I only hope you didn’t take it entirely seriously.

    • Thoth says:

      Have you thought of organizing all of your essays from the website into volumes that you could self publish on Amazon as E-books? If you do, I would recommend that you publish the collections in chronological blocks rather than topical ones, as the “cult of the author” (or interest in the life context of the author) is becoming increasingly important to people in the new media environment. People will want to think about you and the times in which you wrote each piece of work as much as they will want to think about the work itself. This would be especially true of future historians (both professional and amatuer ones) who look back at many of your political commentaries relating to events in the news. It might be nice to even include some news summaries of the current events relating to your essays in the E-book volumes if you choose to publish them.

      Thoth

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