we are the mediocre gods
Posted in the Atheism Forum
#1 May 18, 2012
I would like to begin with the remembered quote from a poem I find fascinating. thie poem is by Don Marquis. I think the title is Young Lucifer. The line is: "the God that is not God if it is not we."
I interpret this to mean that human beings have within us both some powers to make changes, and some degree of intentionality. We can have good will. we can become better informed and more intelligent and better able to make good changes in the world, in our lives, in our communities, in our countries. Within us are kind and cruel impulses, and we can learn about psychology and about biology and try to understand causes of these impulses, and gain control of them. We can study child-rearing practices and see what types of treatment of children lead them to grow up to be intelligent, informed, kind persons - and to be reasonably intelligent, informed, and kind even as children. Toward others we are partial "gods" in that our actions can have tremendous effects on their lives. If we drive recklessly, drunk, on the wrong side of the road, in the middle of the road over a hill, we can be the killers of other persons. we become as evil gods to them. If we are careful not to hurt other persons - and as much as possible are careful not to hurt animals - we are being much better gods, in our effectiveness in the world - in our impact upon other living beings.
By believing in a big outside of ourselves, very powerful God with a plan, we give up responsibility for how we have impact on the world. Especially if one thinks that God is entirely good and that what is is right, is part of the great God's great Plan. This is the evil God that undermines us and our own role in the world. It reduces people to waiting for heaven after they die, where they will still be powerless and glad to be irresponsible.
this is just the beginning of my thoughts on this matter, and I am curious to see whether replies will be hostile from one side or the other in the various sides of religious arguments.
I have made my views clear on the theism issue already on other threads. I am an agnostic atheist - not knowing and not believing in any God, gods, or god that I have ever heard of. This version of godness that I set forward is a very small and modest one compared to the notions of a big powerful god - yet I think it is a useful notion, that has great implications for ethics.
I always advocate an ethic that I call INFORMED KINDNESS, and now I am sort of adding a theological meaning to it as well. If one recalls the words of Oppenheimer after the explosion of the nuclear bomb test - something like "Now we have become gods" - a line from some Eastern relgion, I think - one gets another source of my very modest definition of gods - as us.
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