In which We Talk about God and Morality
I kind of got involved in some strange conversation on the intertubes. It involved religion to some degree and someone said that I have a level of “equanimity” about the universe. I liked the sound of that as it made me feel less stupid than normal.
(I’m the best there is at what I do and what I do is pretty stupid.)
I have a big joke that I have been using for several months. That I am a “Militant Apollo Fundamentalist” – that I worship the sun god. There’s a reason for this. I figure worshiping the sun – Apollo – is the most productive I can be with my deity worshiping time. Because, unlike other deities, Apollo actually grants shit to you, every day, without thanks:
3) Vitamin D
4) Photosynthesis in plants, which means “food”
3) Sun Tans
That’s a lot to be given for free!
Aside from Apollo, you might as well worship Danny DeVito. Because he’s the one most likely to hear and answer your prayers.
This makes me sound like an atheist with a bunch of jokes to play.
However, if the truth be told, I best fall into the category of “deist“. I believe, through logic, that there is a thing that we might call “god”.
How is that, you ask? Mostly, it’s Occam’s Razor. The most simple explanation is likely the most correct one. I can hear several of my skeptic friends right now screaming, “THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS!”
But it does work that way.
So, yeah. We have this Big Bang thing. Given that, everything falls utterly into what we call “science”. However, I have to ask the question: what caused the Big Bang? Well, okay. Many things, maybe? A previous universe collapsing on itself. Or something like that. Who knows?
But what caused that? And what caused the thing that caused that? And so forth, until we have turtles all the way down.
Eventually, we hit the idea of “First Cause”. Something existed first. And that’s a really fucked up concept. Something existed before time began. Think about it for a second. See if you can wrap your brain around that.
This is where we start using the word eternal. That word – “eternal” – has been thinned out by our culture. We use it a lot, to be sure. Mostly in Christian creeds, mind you, but even there it has lost its meaning. The word means something VERY specific:
“Something that has always existed, and will always exist, and, through that, becomes its own reason for existing”
Eternal things were not created. There was nothing to create them. They are their own first cause.
That we exist is a given (well, that I exist; I’m not so sure about you fuckers still). Once we have that, it’s an (admittedly complex) series of logic steps to find that there must be something that is eternal. And that thing, whatever it is, is the First Cause.
So. To my mind, the simplest explanation as to why the universe exists is that there is something that is Eternal. Occam’s Razor.
For lack of a better term, we can call this thing “god.”
Now, I am not certain that this “god” cares about us in ANY way, or is even aware that we exist any more than I am aware that there are bacterium swimming in the sweat my skin secretes. We are citizens of 1 planet among 8 (9!) in 1 solar system among, oh, 200 billion, in 1 galaxy among, oh, 10 trillion (easy). Those are some big numbers.
We’re pretty much alone, I think.
Further, this “god” is bereft of what we call “morality”. I don’t think it even cares what “good” or “evil” are. These concepts are things for mortal creatures. I think that ascribing morality to a deity is the height of arrogance. Ants may very well have an idea of what is right and wrong to them but I don’t give a fuck. I’ll still squash them.
So “god” doesn’t tell me what is fine and good or worthy of respect.
Without a deity to provide me with a map to what is right and wrong, I am left with my own, internal moral compass. That leaves me with a set of axioms to live by. They basically break down to a few simple rules, most of which are also driven by logic, and ultimately boil down to “greed is good.”
That sounds bad. But let’s be brutally honest with each other: you are the most important person that exists from your perspective. Oh, sure, you can try to deceive yourself into thinking “my partner or my children are more important than me” but that’s a deflection: the reason they are more important to you is because you place that value on them. You may be willing to die for them, but you do so because you put that value on them.
Everything we do – everything – is for ourselves. This isn’t a bad thing! Far from it. Selfishness is good! It’s good for everyone.
Why? Because you, me, all of us – we may be individuals, but we are still members of a society. You are a hive creature. You cannot escape being part of the hive: it is part of your very nature.
The stronger the hive, the stronger the individual members of the hive. So, the laws of selfishness dictate that it is to your advantage to make the hive stronger.
These axioms are dependent. If an axiom violates a higher number, you shouldn’t do it. Like the Laws of Robotics. Here are mine:
1) Don’t be a Dick. Jesus said this, only nicer: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Dude had some smarts until he got stabbed and left to die on a hunk of wood. You’re part of a hive. When the hive is stronger, you are stronger. If you’re a dick, you make the hive weaker. Thus, you become weaker. Don’t fuck over people. This is selfish, but good.
2) Take Care of your Peeps. You have a family. It may not be defined by blood. But you know who they are: the people you trust, the ones who will be there when the chips are down. You have to take care of these people as much as you can within your power. Because one day, they will take care of you. This is selfish, but good.
3) Pick a Brother Up. Your fellow hive members sometimes fall down. They may not be your family, but they are still part of the hive. Help them to become stronger, because as the hive grows, so do you. This is selfish, but good.
4) Scotch is Awesome. Fuck it. We’ve got very little time. As long as you’re not hurting someone (axioms 1, 2, and 3), you might as well indulge in pleasure, since that is what makes life worthwhile. It’s better to regret something you did do than to regret not doing something. Love who you love, love what you love. Everything drives to this, which is the ultimate degree of selfishness.
Effectively, as long as you follow 1, 2, and 3, you can engage in #4 as much as you want. 1-3 are the base. That’s Taking Care of Business.
I am not saying “this is what you should do.” I’m saying “this is what I do”. It may or may not work for your personal situations or beliefs.
Given that statement, it hasn’t failed me at this point.