Monday, August 6, 2007

Another Letter to Phil (if he exists)


I have never been one to let things lie. One of the advantages of a blog is that I can always indulge that part of me that thinks of clever things to say after the fact. Mainly I find myself to be a slow thinker. I have random thoughts and insights after I read something, and sometimes while I'm reading something. I don't think I've ever finished thinking about something on one reading or in one fit of cogitation.

It's 2am and I can't sleep. I thought thinking about your letter to God would send me off to sleep. It didn't. I ended up complaining to myself about this, that, and the other thing.

I found the last two paragraphs of your letter to God particularly thought-provoking. Probably not in a way that you intended:

It is your[God's] responsibility as the parent of humanity to ensure our well being. At least until we are well grown up and we are able to take care of ourselves, otherwise what type of parent would you be?

If you do not, faith in you could be damned. Humanity could be damned too.

I included the first paragraph for context and to clarify a little the second paragraph in the quoted section. Incidentally, these are the last two paragraphs of your letter.

Some of these expressions that you come up with challenge the stylistics and syntax of modern English. I don't know how "faith in God could be damned." It's always been my understanding that in Christianity to damn means to curse and more specifically to eternal punishment in hell. If by some chance you mean that "faith in God could be immoral and therefore worthy of damnation," I can only agree with you.

Faith in God can be immoral and judging from what I've seen of contemporary Christendom, I should say that it is almost always immoral, if not now then later. An explanation of possible exceptions can be found here. There so much familiarity, so much rubbing elbows with God and Jesus, as if the three days on the Cross was like a really bad day at the mall. The immorality of Christendom is acquiescence in banality, conformity, fear, and laziness, as if three days on the Cross was just so that little Jane and Johnny could avoid the hard spiritual work of doubt, ostracism, and persecution. One of the things I never, ever understood about Christians is how they could believe God would see to their needs, when He crucified his own firstborn. Why should a "Christian" think that he will be treated any better?

Once the possibility is admitted that one's faith is immoral, it's not such a big step to rejection of faith as immoral. Really, it's not so much a matter of rejection, as it is admitting that the old formulas, arguments, and Bible verses are no longer persuasive. Nietzsche seemed to have arrived at his atheism by a similar route. "Christian morality overcoming itself" or something similar. I prefer to phrase it as realizing that one is too honest to remain a Christian.

The last paragraph, though, sounds nihilistic: God be damned, and this world too! Without God, there's nothing to live for. Consequently, nothing matters. There are no standards, no basis for morality, etc. etc. It's all very melodramatic and more appropriate for adolescents than for adults.

* * *

One of my principal objections to Christianity is the lack of humility. It offends my sense of modesty that I am supposed to attach such a great significance to my own thoughts, moods, feelings, and desires. Somehow feelings of guilt, pride, envy, lust, etc. are supposed to have metaphysical importance? My feelings of guilt over are tied up with the most important event in human history? The comings and goings of my feelings and desires affect my fate after my death??? My fate post mortem is directly linked to the opinions and beliefs that I espouse before I die? It's all so fantastic. I have great difficulty attaching so much significance to my opinions. I'm just not egotistical enough and so craven in my desire for the admiration, respect, and fear of my fellow human beings.


PS. Phil--it's not nice to post a link to your site in the comments section and then not have a section for comments on your site. It just doesn't seem fair somehow. What if God decides to reply to your letter? Cf. The Grand Inquisitor.

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