Journal Of Applied Misanthropology

Of Cats And Gods

I recently had to take my cat to the vet, since she was producing even more output, relative to her food input, than was normal, and she had a sort of lump on her tail I was worried about. The upshot of it all was, I spent 180 bucks to have the vet tell me "She's fine, but you'll proably want to spend another 200 bucks to have her teech cleaned, and here, try this overpriced food that they won't like." Still, she's my widdle fuzzy baby, and compared to human bratlings, cats are a bargain -- all the love and affection you could want, they bathe themselves, and you don't have to buy them expensive sneakers or send them to college.

Of course, getting a cat into a container and to a vet is an ordeal worthy of some Homeric (or at least Barteric) prose. The animal does NOT want to go into the case;is NOT happy to be in the car;and, at the vet, does NOT want to come OUT of the case. Then she is poked, prodded, pried, and otherwise subject to countless indignities, many of which are painful. Since you love your cat, you want to somehow make it understand that all of this really is for its own good, but there's just no way to communicate it to the poor beast. It thinks you are torturing it out of random spite, and views the world as a chaotic and evil place, where it is subject to the whims of cruel and malicious beings.

Now, it occured to me, that some of the religious types might jump up and down and scream:"SEE! This is like, a metaphor! This just like God and us! He loves us and cares for us, but we can't always understand why he does what he does! He's sad that we're fearful and confused, but he just can't breach the gap! That's why we just have to trust that He loves us and accept the things that happen!"

Except that that's total bullshit.

If I could communicate to my cat why I do what I do, I would. I can't, except by a soothing voice and a gentle touch. Reality constrains and binds me -- there is no way for me to make genuine contact with the cat, to speak to her as she needs to be spoken to, to communicate what I wish. I am human, finite, and limited.

God is not.

It is impossible to claim that God 'wants' to do something he cannot do -- if he is worthy of the name 'God', and is not just some technologically advanced alien being still bound by higher rules. If God wanted to communicate the reason why Bill Gates is filthy rich and I'm not, he could do so. If he wants to explain to someone why a freak accident killed her twelve kids, he could. He chooses not to -- an odd thing for someone allegedly 'omnibenevolent' to do.

Please do not say, "It's just impossible for humans to understand the ways of God!". If we are, it's because God made us that way. (If you accept that myth, which you must, if you believe in God.) And he could make us different on a whim. He could MAKE us understand, or at least, make us capable of understanding. He chose to make us ignorant. If you believe in God, every failure, flaw, or weakness in humanity can be laid squarely at the feet of our putative Creator. He designed our hormones, our mating cycles, our lusts. Every instinct and urge we have was put into us by conscious, planned, design. No matter what you do, you can escape any feelings of guilt or shame by blaming God. (Evolution, thus, is a superior basis for ethics -- there's no one to blame but yourself. We are free willed beings not 'designed' to be anything, and thus, are morally accountable for our own actions.)

Reality does not constrain God. God made reality, and can unmake it at whim. (And often does so for trivial purposes) Paradox? God is immune to paradox -- he sets the rules on the most basic level. He can make square circles, if he wishes, or be both three and one concurrently. Infinite power, coupled with presumably infinite benevolence.

How dare I judge God, you ask? Simple -- God gave me the power to do so. Those who believe in God tend to believe He 'built in' a sense of right and wrong, a universal concept of 'justice' that exists in all of us. Well, fine. By those standards -- by the knowledge of good and evil that is my heritage from Adam, I judge God and find him wanting. If He sets the rules for morality, He has failed to live up to them. The very ethical sense He gave me tells me He is in the wrong. And I don't care if he made some big fish. Might doesn't make right -- indeed, the more he shows off his power, the more of an obligation he has to use it properly -- or if he doesn't, he has an obligation to explain why he doesn't, in terms we can understand -- and being unlimited in his power, it is impossible to claim it is impossible for him to do this. The argument becomes circular:

Believer:God does have his reasons, we just can't understand them.
Lizard:Why didn't he make us capable of understanding them?
Believer:He had his reasons for making us incapable of understanding his reasons, we just don't understand them.

Repeat ad infinitum.

It's a good thing he doesn't exist. A universe ruled by a being which possesed the power to do infinite good and refused to do so, all the while claiming he loved everything, would be a damn scary place to live. I'm happy that's not the universe I live in.

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