God, Public Morality and Evolution.
I.What is God?
God is traditionally referred to as a being who is ominpotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Granted the qualities he seems to be endowed with, one cannot help but wonder if he is a person. It is said that he gets jealous when others elect their personal goals over worshipping him or even worse chose the path of Satan. He also smiles in great joy when we do his bidding and finds himself in a state of dysphoria when we do not. He also keeps a close watch over each and everyone one of our deeds, as it has been often said the Holy Ghost judges all things at all times. This seems very reminiscent of how we expect our parents, police officers and office directors to behave. Yet one may wonder, all of those positions are occupied by ordinary people. We know better than to think them infallible and omnibenevolent, irrespectively of how much they would like for us to think of them that way. Essentially, if God is a person, could he truly be omnibenevolent. As David Hume has pointed out in the Dialogues of Natural Religion, if God truly is a person, what reason do we have to suppose that he is a good person. It sounds far more likely that his character would be more resemblant of an average person in this world, which is far from omnibenevolent or even benevolent at all. Even if we give this figure the greatest benefit of the doubt possible and assume him to be the best a person can possibly be, he still will fall far short of omnibenevolence. Could we truly conceive of an idea where the essence of personhood, or the character of a simple human being be reconciled with the notion of all goodness?
Any student of human nature shall deem for this notion to be hardly credible. As we know people tend to possess qualities that are rather undesirable, irrespectively of how much they strive to purge them from their character. The truth of the matter seems to be that those qualities simply cannot be removed from the general essence of our make-up. As even the most admirable of our spiritual and ethical leaders were often destitute of many qualities of character. Consider Mother Theresa who is often deemed to be the paragon of compassion. This, no doubt, may have been an important drive in her life, to be kind-hearted to others. Yet even in this one respect, she has often fallen short, as it is well known now that there were many instances where she has been observed to behave in a decidely non-compassionate manner. What about her virtue of religiosity? It is also well known that her faith was far less stellar than it appeared to be. Can we truly regard religiosity as one of her virtues? Yet for the sake of this topic, we should note that the exhortation on mother theresa to be as virutous as possible led her to merely pay lip service to be regarded as virtuous.
We shall concede that Mother Theresa, as a human being, was far from perfect, however, one is tempted to ask. What if in the future, there will be a person who pursued the same endeavors as Mother Theresa, but was much superior to her in all ways. Such a person would always behave in a compassionately and stay true to his teaching. Yet again, just because he has cultivated those qualities of his character, can we truly expect him to excell at all things? It is well known that people who tend to be compassionate often struggle with logical analysis and objectivity. Hence, this is Jung's celebrated demarcation between the Thinking and the Feeling type. Certainly one can master both of those aspects and be both compassionate and analytical, however, if one insists on being close to impeccable at one of the two, it is highly likely that his other side shall be wanting. One can be very good at both, though manifestly far from impeccable. In the situation where perfection will be demanded from him, he will be forced to create an image thereof without ensuring that the image is supported by the substance within his character. He will do so because the heavy demands of perfection will greatly outweigh his inner quests. Without a doubt, in such a case the person will be far more conscious of his image than of his character.
If a man cannot attain all perfections as we say, if he embarks upon this endeavor, he likely will greatly neglect certain aspects of his character that oppose activities that he specializes in. Can one attain perfection in the single endeavor he specializes in? As for example, can one truly be a paragon of compassion or a paragon of logical analysis. Could an individual like Aristotle truly be the perfect logician, and an individual like Mother Theresa be a perfect nurturer. To answer this question we should clearly define what we understand for perfection of moral qualities to be. If we had an omniscient view of the scenario where we can observe Aristotle correctly solve all of the logic problems he is presented with and Mother Theresa behave compassionately in every case that has befallen her---could we call these two individual perfect in their craft?
What if Mother Theresa thinks about how much she hates the people that she is assisting whilst donating all of her financial resources to charity and spending all of her time taking care of the poor. Can we still call her compassionate? What if Aristotle has some mystical, intuitive method of solving logic problems. Could we still call him a good logician? Essentially, when we see someone do kind deeds, we can conclude that this person merely appears to be compassionate. But in order to see if that is true, we must inquire into the true compelling causes of their actions, or look at their inner being. Thus, an external output cannot be equated with the quality of one's character. We may argue that good people do good deeds, and character always manifests itself externally--whatever the character may be. However, we should note that people who are good, are to be thought of as good not because they do good deeds, but because we've examined their character and have recognized the true inner goodness within them. It would be naive to claim that character always shows itself. As we know con men and politicians make a practice of leading individuals to believe that their character is different from what it truly is for the purpose of attaining personal gain. If we cannot turn to one's deeds to examine the nature of the person's character, what can we turn to then?
One shall say, if we get to know an individual intimately and perform a very careful scrutiny of his character we would be able to see what inheres within them and how this compares to the image he exudes. We often will notice quite the striking discrepancy between what he is on the inside and how others think he is. As he is often forced to wear certain masks in the conventional society in order to get what he wants. A concrete example of this would be in regards to how one will often strive to convince others that he has the qualities that he needs to have in order to be socially accepted, whilst disregarding the absence of such qualities in his character. Lets suppose, however that upon careful examination of such a person we notice great compassion within him or great aptitude for logical analysis. Can this person be omni-compassionate or omni-logical. Or in other words, are his motives for thinking logically or emoting compassionate always pure and undiluted? The answer is essentially no, because he has other concerns to take care of besides those. As essentially his compassion and analytical skills are intimately intertwined with qualities of character that run contrary to those two. As for example, a person can be pure at heart for one incident that he comes across, yet also, without realizing this or not, he will also have concerns for his own security, or other tasks that require him to behave in a fashion incompatible with the essence of pure compassion. Same can be said for logical analysis as the person solving the problem of logic, cannot devote his whole being to this single activity as he inevitable has other concerns to take care of. Therefore he cannot be all-logical.
Therefore if God is a person he is not omnibenevolent. Such a depiction is hyperbolic at best. Noone should be expected to meet the standard of perfection, because when such expectations are imposed on the individual he will be forced to pay lip service to the standard he is pressured to appease. God may be omniscient, as it is possible for a person to know all things. He cannot be omnipresent however, as personhood is necessarily a concrete notion. A Christian theologian can maintain that God may not be a person, but a personality. In this regard such a personality can be omniscient, omni-benevolent and omnipresent. Yet, one may wonder how we could attribute such qualities to a non-person. This is much similar to saying that rocks, trains and automobiles have personalities and because they remind us of certain qualities within ourselves, they can be omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent just like us. Such depictions at best reflect our restrained anthropomorphic biases. Restrained in the regard that here we do not quite depict such entities as typical people, but merely personified objects.
Clearly, however, God is used to depict many spiritual notions that we tend not to have a distinct awareness of. It is often a symbol for the supreme goodness of the world, yet the anthropomorphic depictions of this notion, such as standard theism fall short of this noble notion. God is also commonly depicted as the symbol for supreme power, and for this reason his character often resembles that of the most influential rulers of the religions portraying such a God. As we see the God of Christianity resembled Jesus, the God of Islam resembled Muhammad, and respectively, the God of Judaism resembled Moses. We also notice how the ancient Greeks had many Gods in proportion to their many leaders. Yet Christians, Jews and Muslims whose societies were more organized and structured as well as had more clearly outlined leadership, often with one salient figure. As for instance, the emperor, or the Caliph had strong leniencies towards monotheism. There could hardly be a doubt that our eschatology much reflects our psychological tendencies. Very often, by studying a mythology or a theology of a civilization, we can learn much about that civilization. Very often, when we attempt to depict ideas that are highly complex, we translate them into concrete and simplistic terms. As for example, we attempt to depict the idea of infinite greatness with the symbol of a sublime and powerful person. As well as we attribute changes in weather to the wrath of an angry God. As Carl Jung has pointed out, very often in our studies of philosophy, science and theology, we find more evidence for how our minds work rather than for how the world itself works. We project ourselves onto what we see and in effect anthropomorphize all things. To avoid this, we should strive to attain as objective of an understanding of our external environment as possible. An example of such a practice would be when we see rain, we should rely strictly on our objective observations of this phenomenon. We should merely attempt to describe what we see in as objective of terms as possible. We should not associate this with our emotions, or use our personal biases to describe this phenomenon. The Buddhists subscribe to a belief in an impersonal God. Such a God has little to do with the god of standard theism. It is not a person and does not have any personal qualities. The notion in question is that of spirituality itself, or the perfection of mind. One may wonder why they were inspired to use such a term and the lurid semblance on the anthropomorphic God could not have been any more clear. This is also the tactic that Spinoza has adapted?veiling his pantheistic worldview under the facade of ?godness?, which he called God or Nature. Many, have pointed out that this is common-place atheism obfuscated in theological jargon. Rightly so, and we have good reasons to suspect that this was merely his attempt to promote his ideas to philosophers without incurring the interferences of bigoted Judeo-Christian theologians.
Moses Maimonides who professed to be a standard theist argued that a personal god does indeed exist. Yet he also maintained that God is infinite and shares no human attributes. Yet, the common-place ignorant religious people must believe that he has human qualities in order to ensure their observance of the religious creed. This political approach was whole-heartedly embraced by our contemporary Leo Strauss who insisted on the permissibility of manipulating the ?vulgar? in order to promote the political agenda of importance to the wise. This is a Neo-Platonic notion germane to the noble lie. Yet the difference between the approach of Strauss and Plato is that the motives of the former were self-serving, yet the motives of the latter were paternalistic. Strauss was candid about the fact that the common-place folks are merely being manipulated and in the end they need not be benefited from this to any degree. Yet Plato argued that the common-place folk need to be lied to, as this will set both of their feet on the path to a higher good.
Clearly, the notion of God, after having been taken out of its spiritual context and placed into the political has degenerated into a manifold of destitute notions. It has become a ponderous tool of corruption as well as spiritual and political chicanery. One may wonder why this has become the case, and as we have established in our discussion concerning the nature of prophecy. Even the noblest of ideas are easily corrupted once placed in the political context. As at that point, what is truly of importance would not be the ideas themselves, but merely how those ideas serve an external agenda. Their essence would be twisted to better fit the hollow practical interests of individuals manipulating such ideas.
Thus, in the end God is best defined as the primary essence of spirituality, or the other world. Yet, could we have any knowledge of the other world? As we have established in the previous entries, our emanation theory seems to suggest otherwise. One may ask, what was the beginning of the universe. If A created B, what created A? A must be without a creator, as it could not have come from nothing. Therefore it must have always existed. If it has always existed, then it has no beginning. An entity that has no beginning, must also be without an end. This is the very definition of infinity. To be infinite and to be ubiquitous doubtlessly mean the same thing. Could we have access to the foremost essence of the universe? This would require that we have access to the infinite realm. In the infinite realm, there could not be time, space, or matter as everything would be without a beginning or an end. Yet our metrics of assessment of entities by definition of themselves presuppose a finite environment. Moreover, if we had access to this infinite essence, we would see all things as one, as this single infinite essence would occupy all things. But, we clearly see the universe in many attributes, therefore we know that we do not have access to the infinite realm. However, the world as we see it, is the way we incept such a realm, we translate the infinite into a finite apparatus of perception. This is the process of objectification of our unconscious perceptions which counter the infinite realm directly into the finite terms that we incept the world with. Thus, we are not capable of accessing God. Therefore when we speak of God, we necessarily talk of things of this world, as we are merely translating our unconscious perceptions into terms of conscious perceptions. Yet, because our unconscious perceptions are inaccessible, we necessarily confuse them for what is accessible. One may be inspired to act compassionately or bravely by his unconscious visions, but he certainly would be mistaken to claim that the particular act he has experienced is a direct manifestation of the spiritual transformation. Thus, it is a mistake to associate any particular deed of this world with the other world, as the other worldly essences do not depend on any external deed for legitimation. The external deeds, at best are numerous expressions thereof. They can express themselves in a myriad of other fashion that we?d be at a loss to depict with our concrete symbols.
Is this an atheism? A negation of the personal god? By the depiction of the term God that we have in this case, that is certainly not the case. As we equate God not with an omnipotent person, but with the other world itself, or the quest for the other world. Yet, our culture notoriously equates atheism with the lack of belief in a personal god, rejection of public morality, hostility for the church and most of all materialism. In any case, are the moral charges against atheism justified? Should they be reviled as immoral materialists? Not at all, because materialism purports to show that an inner being is illusory only on the metaphysical level, yet this does not at all suggest that we can circumvent dealing with properties that we typically accrue to the mind. This is essentially the case to the extent that it is so with the problem of Free Will and Determinism. Our belief in theoretical determinism does not at all imply that we do not hold responsibility over our actions. As on the practical level, we always feel that we have free will. The only way this could be otherwise is if when we do not have a conscious awareness of our ability to make choices. Such a case would be reminiscent of a hypnosis or a coma. If materialism is to be applied on the practical level, it has to be shown that we are not aware of our minds and that the mind plays no role in our activity. This is not possible because it is only through the mind can we be made aware of any notion, or document any experience, even that of the material world. Clearly, this evinces the absurdity of the proposition that those who are either atheists or materialists value nothing that isnt material and incidentally have no inner being.
In any case, are the moral charges against atheism justified? Should they be reviled as immoral materialists? Not at all, because materialism purports to show that an inner being is illusory only on the metaphysical level, yet this does not at all suggest that we can circumvent dealing with properties that we typically accrue to the mind. This is essentially the case to the extent that it is so with the problem of Free Will and Determinism. Our belief in theoretical determinism does not at all imply that we do not hold responsibility over our actions. As on the practical level, we always feel that we have free will. The only way this could be otherwise is if when we do not have a conscious awareness of our ability to make choices. Such a case would be reminiscent of a hypnosis or a coma. If materialism is to be applied on the practical level, it has to be shown that we are not aware of our minds and that the mind plays no role in our activity. This is not possible because it is only through the mind can we be made aware of any notion, or document any experience, even that of the material world. Clearly, this evinces the absurdity of the proposition that those who are either atheists or materialists value nothing that isnt material and incidentally have no inner being.