Friday, August 25, 2006

The Ultimate Sadist

I shall preface this essay by submitting the fact that the god I am speaking of is not the “totality of all existence” god, the vague pantheistic god of deist-like enlightened transcendentalists. I am not speaking of this god that exists in some vague realm but does not meddle in the affairs of human endeavor. I am explicitly speaking of the “watchmaker” god, the creationist god of Abraham. The god that is both a part of nature and above it, the god that creates miracles, heeds prayer, rewards and punishes and is enveloped in the affairs of human endeavor; more precisely, the god that is allegedly a “benevolent providence.”

It is a striking observation that the concept of a benevolent god who is concerned with the affairs of human endeavor is, in every way, contradictory with the reality of existence and the occurrences of everyday life. It is clearly not a benevolent entity that oversaw the savage killing of innocent human life, including many children, in hurricane Katrina. It cannot be a benevolent entity that not only allows but puts into motion such brutal violence and savage murder. Who, in their right mind, is able to reconcile a benevolent god that interjects itself in the midst of human activity with such “acts of god” consisting of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, mudslides, firestorms, plagues, birth defects, deadly viruses, etc.? Clearly this index of barbarism cannot be written off as the effects of gods gift of free will and the inherent iniquity of humanity, this is either evidence that god is a twisted sadist, that god doesn’t intervene in the affairs of humanity or that god simply doesn’t exist. If the concept of god is that of the “watchmaker” who concerns itself with the affairs of humanity then this god is so very clearly the ultimate sadist.

To believe in such a god requires the believer to be the ultimate masochist and as Freud so insightfully pointed out sadism and masochism are both intricately intertwined with repressed and/or distorted aggressive sexual urges and desires. Masochism, in short, is the manifestation of the ids, or the subconscious’s, repressed and distorted sexual instincts. I am by no means an orthodox Freudian, I believe much of the psychoanalytic theory regarding the foundational aspects of the libido, that libido is the foundational physiological substratum of human instinct and motivation, is incorrect and misguided but with regards to the sexual links between sadism and masochism psychoanalysts have a very strong case. It is not without significance to point out that many of these devout believers who conceptualize a “watchmaker” god who is concerned with the affairs of humanity and interjects itself into them are also, not so incidentally, the very same fundamentalists who believe that abstinence is the only correct moral position regarding sex before marriage, that sex is only to be used for procreation and that, essentially, sex is fundamentally filthy and sinful.

The god I have been speaking of is, without a doubt, the ultimate sadist and for the belief in such a god to exist it is a necessary requirement of the believer that they be the corresponding ultimate masochist.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Religious Sensitivity

Whenever I encounter an individual pleading for a cessation of criticism on behalf of religious sensitivity I am usually never sympathetic. The entire charade of religious sensitivity reeks of intellectual bankruptcy, if one is able to support the beliefs, dogma and practices with argument then one hardly needs to plea for exemption. It is predominately those beliefs, dogmas and practices which are unsupportable which individuals will evoke sensitivity for. I find this tactic not only intellectually reprehensible but exceedingly revealing. It doesn’t say much for the beliefs in question if, rather than allow the evidence and support for them surface, one attempts to prohibit their being questioned or criticized in the first place.
Religious sensitivities raison d’etre is clearly a not so subtle attempt to prohibit the questioning and criticism of religious beliefs, dogma and practices. This illustrates that the individual evoking such a plea is already well aware of the insecurity inherent in their claims and practices, otherwise they would be more than willing to illustrate the evidence and reason for these items so that the questioner or critic would be able to understand the conviction in dispute and possibly even agree with it.
I am also not the least bit sympathetic to anyone who becomes offended when a cherished belief of theirs is questioned, criticized or repudiated. I understand very well that many people are unable to review their beliefs and hold to them in a dispassionate manner, this is no ones fault but their own, and furthermore many of these “sensitive” beliefs are not only offensive to others but dangerous. People would do well to arrive at their convictions through a systematic and dispassionate process by which they reviewed specific claims and adhered to them only when they are sufficiently supportable and furthermore they should not become emotionally involved with the convictions to a point that, when the convictions are questioned or criticized, they then feel personally denigrated.
I hold to many beliefs - as does everyone - and many of them are questioned and criticized on a daily basis and yet still others have been repudiated. Never have I felt that my personhood was under attack, except for the instances in which it was, I have never reacted in an overtly emotional manner and I have never pleaded for the cessation of questioning or criticism on behalf of sensitivity lest I become offended. Sometimes I am offended by an argument or a criticism sent my way but rather than ask for the cessation of that criticism I engage it and the majority of the time I and my antagonist reach an armistice or at least a better understanding of each others positions, this is only possible when tactics such as pleading for exemption on behalf of sensitivity are completely ignored. I take such questioning and criticism as the very process by which my convictions are emboldened and strengthened, it illustrates the errors of my beliefs and helps in their remediation; I take such criticism as an essential aspect foundational to my pursuit of knowledge and understanding and I am nothing less than grateful for it.