Where God Went Wrong
Quite often, when people think about evolution, they think only of the biological process that is often a subject of debate between the atheist and fundamentalist and creationist communities. But everything has evolved, including ideas, and that includes the idea of god and how it plays into religion. Even religion itself is an evolved idea and it’s my contention that we can trace all religious belief to a single common ancestor. In doing so, I hope to show that the very idea of god is born entirely of ignorance and is therefore irrelevant. This is why I believe the final blow to end religion will be to simply forget that the idea of god was ever taken seriously.
If we go all the way to the introduction of the first religious ideas, what we find is merely a sort of pantheistic nature worship where the idea of god simply is the world around them. In this form god, or the typical Gaia style figure we see expressed in the cave paintings and early relations of human imagination, simply "is what is.” We weren't running around hurting or killing each other over that idea. And in general it was just an idea that gave a little peace of mind to early humans who were trying to deal with and understand the natural world around them and their new found deeper emotional response to death. Our ancestors where very likely frightened and confused; that same fear and confusion is what fuels the vast majority of the religious world to this very day.
Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes
Religion evolved because it served a purpose. It has survived for so long only because we as human beings continue to have questions and because we continue to be afraid. Anyone who says that their God is not a god of the gaps is not truly being honest with themselves, because the only purpose of believing in a god is to answer an unknown. This unknown always boils down to a single question which can be expressed in two ways; “Where did we come from/do we go when we die?” This is the abyss of the unknown that the human imagination allows us to stare into and tremble as we imagine a boogeyman is waiting. But it is only in seeking solace that someone decided to give that idea of god a face of its own and some corporeal sense of realism, rather than just letting it be an appreciation of the world that sustains and supports us. It was putting a face on the idea of god that has brought us religion and its evolution has yielded some very nasty mutations. They have shown themselves to be viral and parasitic, and thus there is a real need for the anti-theist and activist to rally against them.
However, I don't see that initial idea of god, or the deistic idea of god, doing any harm at all. I have never had a deist try to force any ideas on me or try and use that idea to bring harm or injustice upon others. My personal issue with the deistic idea of god is that I see it as being irrelevant, and that idea is where all these other gods came from. So my position on god is that god is irrelevant. No god has ever done a single thing, and while that is one of the main reasons that we atheists hold to the position of disbelief, it also makes a good case against even a deistic idea of god because it says that even if some greater collective consciousness connects the energy of the universe in some unknown way, that even that idea is irrelevant to humanity as a whole.
Who is this God Person Anyway?
God is an idea that lives in the mind, which is why attacking god never really works on the whole. The only way to kill something that exists only in the mind is to show that even the very idea has no credence whatsoever. I think that the final death blow to god must be to simply ignore the idea altogether. We allow god to continue to live vicariously, even through us as atheists, by offering that even the notion of god, in any sense, has relevance to the lives of humanity. Once we as people simply wave the very idea of god away, we can move forward and focus on humanity and what we can do to help all life prosper. The very idea of god is an unnecessary distraction that does nothing for humanity.
So I have to wonder what is still perpetuating such a meaningless and self-serving idea, and it seems that it is the organization of religion that keeps mankind stuck on the notion of worshiping a god. The U.S. brands of these organizations are headed by “holy men” like Pat Robertson, Joel Olsteen, Creflo Dollar, Ray Comfort, etc., and they are the ones pumping the idea of god out there to the people and telling them they need religion to get by in life. There are “holy men” in nearly every corner of the globe however, and whether they come as salvation salesmen, doom-criers, or the occasional “Hey have you heard about my god and maybe we should kill people or ourselves, or maybe both?” – they are all peddling the idea that some god made all this just for you, but you’ve got to “earn it” by doing exactly what they tell you to.
Well, That About Wraps It Up For God
There’s always going to be at least one blazing optimist in the crowd who’s going to pop in here with guns booming away to ask me, “What about HOPE Mr. atheist man? God gives people hope!” – And that’s where I’m going to piss people off.
It’s a false hope, born of arrogant narcissism, from the minds of men who believed the entire universe was built just for them. And while I could go on for quite some time about this idea of god giving hope, I think I should simply leave you with a quote that sums up my feelings on the origin of that idea perfectly:
The ontological fallacy of expecting a light at the end of the tunnel, well, that's what the preacher sells, same as a shrink. See, the preacher, he encourages your capacity for illusion – then he tells you it's a fuckin' virtue. Always a buck to be had doing that. I mean, it's such a desperate sense of entitlement, isn't it? ‘Surely this is all for me. Me, me, me. I, I, I. I'm so fuckin' important! I'm so fuckin' important! Right?!’" – the character Rustin Cohle from the HBO series True Detective
*a note from the author: I chose to use nods to Douglas Adams with the title and subtitles here because his books are some of my favorite literature ever. Douglas Adams showed me how to really laugh at the absurdity of the very idea of god and the narcissism of the human race that thinks we are so special it was all made for us. But most importantly, his books have always reminded me that we’ve got to get out there and live – otherwise we’re just wasting this crazy thing we call life.
Photo Credits: Avram Cheaney