Natural maltheology

In the following, I try to imagine how I might reason/rave if I was a theist.

The results are not pretty.

Not very coherent, either.

* * *

So. Look around, brother or sister or being of indeterminate gender. See the world.

I trust you know that between one and three million people, mostly children and mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, die of malaria every year.

A similar amount dies of AIDS yearly, three-quarters in the same place.

And the animal kingdom, well, no less an authority than Charles Darwin wrote that

“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.”

War, syphilis, leukemia, meningitis, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis, starvation, noma, rape, hate, greed, sloth, lust, envy, pride, gluttony and wrath — this world is not a pleasant place.

This quite proves the silly assertions of the Christians, the Muslims and their like wrong — there is no beneficent Creator. But there is truth in the serious assertions of polysyllabic theologians: we can still accept this universe was Created — its arguments fine-tuned and mankind nudged up to sentience by a divine hand. Life is no accident. We are no accident. But there is a danger in this view.

Namely, such assertions, even if acceptable, do not prove Christianity or Islam. They merely posit a God, a faceless form, a shadow glimpsed in single acts of making — and the nature of that God can be read from the horrid suffering everywhere in Its Creation. Its nature can be read from the fact that all of mankind’s efforts to reach out to that Creator have collapsed into internecine strife, doubt, uncertainty, suffering, sadomasochism, miserable authoritarianism, misogyny, misanthropy, adulation of death and fetishization of ignorant and unsophisticated childishness. The imagined gods above are monsters: petty, vindictive, jealous, fickle, bloodthirsty, unforgiving, capricious and implacable, treating their followers like pets are treated by a particularly callous and unreasonable man.

This does not mean religions have failed — oh, no. All religions of man are false, that much is true, because they have with horror and cowardice flinched away from the truth glimpsed and reflected in their vapid search for good in the universe: there is none.

There is simply divine malice.

All of universe screams this: All but an infinitesimal fraction of everything is a lightless, airless, lifeless hostile vacuum of radiation and never-ceasing death. All but an infinitesimal fraction of the rest is roiling mass in the burning, seething hearts of stars, in their bestial thunder an antithesis equally disastrous to all life, equally loud in its mockery of our uninformed hopes. Earth is but a mote, a speck of dust, a drop of drool on the jaws of the uncaring brute universe which, like Poe’s pendulum, swings ever closer to mankind’s exposed neck.

Why avoid this horror? Why ascribe it to some random laws of nature? This vertiginous terror is there for our education, to hint of the terrors beyond. Shouldn’t we rather see it for what it is — the final evidence that there is a God, a Creator, and It is a sadist and we are Its playthings, positioned in the middle of limitless death to play our parts upon this arena of misery and sorrow with sure certainty that our struggles are meaningless and futile?

Our intelligence is but a toy to It our Creator — why else would our sentience be limited by time, and tormented by the consequent uncertainty and fear of extinction? Why else would biases and failings of scale and kind plague our thoughts, rendering us susceptible to superstition, panic, selection bias, projection bias, self-fulfilling prophecies, false memories and the horrors of herd instinct and xenophobia? The placebo and Hawthorne effects alone would lead any fair theistic observer to conclude that we are defective by design, and our grief and frustration is planned; and therefore we are nothing but puppets that tangle their strings and break their bones for the cold, terrible amusement of the One who caused us to be!

All religions deny this, but their very existence is proof: would a True God have allowed such an abundance of lies and contradictions without a good reason?

Were Jesus a truth-telling son of the True God, wouldn’t his followers have converted the whole world with miracles, with unity, with the incontestable rightness of their moral teachings?

Were Mohammed the honest prophet of the True God, wouldn’t the desert bloom at the footsteps of his followers, all poverty and misery vanish at the sound of his name?

But no, both call the other a lie, a demonic delusion — and maybe they both are correct, for what else would more amuse a God of Absolute Evil than perverting mankind’s want of knowledge into self-flagellatory pursuits of silent gods and impossible perfections? What would be a more terrible crime for this Supreme Criminal than commanding men and women to scorn their evanescent happiness and pleasure, and to love their agonies and denials?

Though the True God that now stands revealed, immense in Its power, cunning and malice, is not one to reward loyalty or invite worship, can we do anything else? Its existence is more certain, more bare and evident, than that of any other divinity; no arguments stand against the supposition of a torturer, the one who admits a ray of reason and hope only to make its extirpation and frustration more bitter and crushing — and having seen this terrible God, this black monolith of despair and callous amusement higher than the stars, older than time, and as evil as every tear ever cried and every pained last gasp ever breathed, what can we do but fall to our knees in horror, and adulation? What else can we do, having glimpsed a reality that cannot be denied or changed, and having found no balm therein, no Force concordant to our deepest desires? What else can we do, but worship the Merciless, the Compassionless, the Maker of Grief, the Father of Despair, the Son of Torture, the Blight of the World?

Amen.

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