The God Delusion as a Survival Instinct

Let’s say that 70 percent of people who believe in God would kill themselves if they didn’t have their belief. What is the moral status of these people from the atheist perspective?

I guess it depends on the atheist. But I can imagine some atheists thinking to themselves “good riddance!”, whereas the others would be forced to admit that it might be better for them to believe in God than to be forced into killing themselves, for lack of a reason to live.

What’s weird about me is that I don’t believe in the common version of God, which, in short, has a plan and knows what He’s doing. And yet I face most of the devastating conditions which would make someone believe in this God.

I have noticed, however, that I carry with me many delusions. They seem to serve the same purpose as the belief in God. My true condition may be far more decrepit than I am consciously able to understand. And in retrospect the delusions do a much poorer job of outwardly masking over the decrepitude than I realize. To my subjective self, they make me look good enough to keep going, and even to be a little bit proud of them. This is arguably nature’s way of preserving the organism, presumably because survival can indeed lead to better prospects later on.

But I’m trying to wrestle with the idea of how depressing it is to carry delusions around simply for the sake of survival. A lot people who believe in God are against suicide and abortion and euthanasia because they believe that the existence of human life is inherently valuable, and that it’s not for a human being to judge when life should stop. In other words, God started it, and therefore only God is morally authorized to stop it. According to this belief, a person who maintains delusions sufficient to prevent him from killing himself is acceptable, whereas one who embraces truth completely and subsequently kills himself as a result of clearly seeing the truth is in the wrong. Our current culture generally embraces this view, while only sometimes acknowledging that it hinges on the idea of God as all-knowing and in control.

But just because our society believes something doesn’t mean it is right. The alternative view is to accept suicide as morally right, provided it is based on reality. This view is immediately imagined by our culture, which knows no way other than its own, as strange, cruel, and unjust. But I can imagine many situations where it is better to die than to live. It is very definitely our culture which is vigorously opposed to these deaths. I don’t see our values as absolute rules, although there are many in our culture who do believe God has imposed absolute rules, and by and large those who object to these divine rules don’t have the moral courage or stamina to fight the people who believe in them.

Therefore we default to: All human life is good.

The price we pay is that any belief is acceptable, no matter how delusional, so long as it prevents human death. Truth, therefore, takes second place to preserving life. It is quite possible that this is the origin of the zombie stories which have only gotten more popular in recent years. The idea of sacrificing truth for the blind preservation of life – no matter how useless – is akin to the zombies’ life “after death”, and their lust for human brains. The mind is sacrificed for the blind preservation of the body.

Anyway, I feel like a zombie. I persist in life without a clear reason, based on some kind of blind faith that it makes sense and is worth the effort. While I might like to be in the social spotlight, receiving thanks and awards, I’m not sure if I’m really doing anything worth thanking or awarding. Indeed, that might be yet another delusion which helps me survive.

A half-severed zombie in the dirt with one arm, thinking it is about to be showered with roses. How many more like me are there?

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Something Is Crucifying Something

Just another post I didn’t think about too deeply.

Something is crucifying something.

I certainly feel myself being crucified by something, but I’m not willing to confine the drama to myself. And the thing crucifying me (us) could be anything from myself, to the world of men, to the inert world of matter, to God Itself, while the thing being crucified must be something with a soul.

Imagine a music group with a hit song. This is the one I happen to be listening to right now. The hit song taps into some part of the collective truth of our world and becomes more than just a song and an audience. When the song first appears it represents the crucifixion. It’s easy to hear a song from ten years ago and attach memories and ideas to it which weren’t there when it first appeared. All of these songs are little bits of whatever it is I am talking about.

I could confine the thought process to myself. That is the typical post-modern view, in which no subjective reaction reaches out beyond the person who experiences it. In that case, we could apply modern ideas of brain activity and combine them with ideas of what a person needs to experience emotionally, and try to interpret the “crucifixion” that way. The crucifixion is occuring “in my head”, therefore. And it is a subtle and tempting error to logically conclude that if it is occuring in my head, then it is occurring ONLY in my head, and therefore has no material existence. And in our world, things without material existence are assumed to be less important than those which can be expressed in matter. But let’s not make this assumption.

The crucifixion is happening at minimum in my head, and possibly in more places, in the world somewhere. And what is crucifying me? The source of that is subject to the same analysis. Inner pride is my word for the inner causes. Pride always seems to be unconscious, from my perspective. Unconscious expectations I have about what life is supposed to be are being crucified either by my own inner lack of ability to live up to the expectations, or by the world itself not be able to live up to the expectations of what I want.

I sometimes like to think of the thing being crucified as silly putty. It’s being stretched and malformed, and unless it can achieve the flexibility and stretchability of silly putty, the crucifyee will experience extreme pain.

It’s also possible that the thing being crucified is a collective body, that all beings with souls are subject to the same crucifixion. In that case what I am feeling is not “in my head”, but is some kind of living force in the world. This is the Jungian view. Archetypes are not simply internal processes but collective processes, much like hit songs, although hits songs would merely represent emanations of the archetypes which are ever present but only become vivid enough to enter consciousness periodically.

I think the two most recent Apocalyptic movements, the Y2K scare, in which it was feared the computer systems of the world would fail at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day in the year 2000, and the 2012 belief that the Mayan calendar would bring about the end of our world, are symptoms of whatever is being crucified. I find it very interesting that the first movement, Y2K, thought that technology would kill us, where the second thought that the predictions of an ancient civilization would kill us.

There couldn’t be two more opposite sources. I think that the Mayan obsession was rooted nonetheless in the feeling that we have gotten too far from some kind of stable pattern which they knew about but which we have lost altogether. As if they knew how to interpret cosmic events according to a relatively orderly pattern whereas we are victims of our lack of ability to find order and wholeness in the cosmos. Y2K was about not being able to order our own technology, and 2012 was about not being able to order our place in the Universe. When you look at our knowledge of matter and energy, from the very largest to the very smallest, there is a distinctive feeling of chaos and randomness. That Intelligent Designer many Christians and other theists depend upon so childishly is completely absent. It’s the exact opposite case with the Mayan Calender, in which all of civilized life fit into a cosmic pattern. We bathe in uncertainty so constantly that a force asserts itself from the unconscious which posits the opposite feeling, that is, a perfectly ordered universe with timed sections for each phase. The force attaches to Mayan civilization and convinces people that our world will end.

Crawling Up Out of the Ground

Yeah, I’m just in the groove. The dark groove which is how I write. My curse, to live in a condition I can’t escape, which I can hardly see. I’m much more interesting in person.

I read my posts and it almost seems like there are parts of me which are just dead. Possibly, but I’m trying to integrate all of the parts of myself. If one part is dead or close to it, I don’t know how to shut it out.

Unfortunately, writing in this way means that few people can stomach it. But from my perspective, I am maintaining a connection with the universe by publishing this. While it might not make anything better, I also don’t think it will make anything worse.

When you have nothing to lose, you have “freedom”, I guess.

No, I don’t have a plan. Not for this blog post anyway. I’m responsible for where I am. If that’s twenty-seven feet under the ground, I must claw my way back up. Blogs are funny that way, because you are now reading something no one before the internet would have published. Words as crappy as these would not have made it even into a zine (a cheap self-published paper magazine), because I would have to have cared about them enough to put them there.

So, back to the clawing-my-way-out-of-the-ground metaphor. I fit the role, socially. I don’t make any of my own money, and no one expects me to succeed at anything daily. Still, I would love to figure out how I could express my condition artistically. God created me for a reason.

I kind of like that idea. That God is some sort of scientist and I’m one of Its lab experiments. It’s easy to see all people that way, but the scientific attitude removes all emotion, and most people are not able to remove that much emotion from their lives. The idea that God is good and that It knows what It is doing is a necessary counterbalance to the lack of power and awareness felt by the people themselves. If I am a lab experiment… in other words, if God is not on my side, how do I crawl out from the ground? Where is the motivation?

Perhaps there is a certain pride I can take knowing that I know more about the sadness and depravity of my condition than God appears to. That the guinea pig, or the microbe, knows more than the scientist. Yes, there is a sort of defiant pride there, which may provide motivation when all other sources are gone. I know Carl Jung has written an essay Answer to Job which addresses this issue. 

But do I personally have anything to add to what Jung has said? What can I do to be useful and creative? 

To say “creative” always makes me think about the videogame I may well never make, but which is the most compelling thing which seems “creative” to me. Absent that, and absent meeting me in person, which can be beneficial (people seem to like me when I’m not blogging!), I have nothing to offer the world. 

But do I really have nothing to offer the world? Apart from the glory of interacting with me directly, what can I offer the world? When I read my blog, it seems interesting, but essentially a paltry offering. It’s basically poorly written, off-the-cuff, and even depressing, forcing people to dig through it for the good stuff. It’s nothing I could make money off of, unless I find a way to cut out the bad stuff, and market it better. And find more good stuff. Not that I even want to make money off of it. I’m just using that to ask, what can I offer the world?

Posting to Avoid Not Posting

More thoughts. Self-reflection in no particular order.

Narcissism is self-preservation. But I’m asking, why preserve myself? I’m feeling like crap, frankly.

I want someone else to believe in the videogame.

I’m searching for areas where I arbitrarily destroy myself based on lack of self-esteem. Based on some concept I have of myself, that I already believe myself to be a failure somehow, I end up not doing the right thing.

I would like someone outside of me to somehow conceive of what would be the right thing for me to do. I wish I had the kind of resources which would enable me to reach out to… well, I don’t know what. But to have someone competently analyze my life. My problem is that I don’t know anyone “deep” enough to really look at the situation accurately. But I don’t want to say that, without acknowledging that inside of me there may be pockets of pride which don’t want to change. But that’s why I’m asking for someone who can analyze me deeply enough to at least identify those pockets of pride. It’s easier to overcome areas of pride when someone else knows about them.

Still, it’s my responsibility in the absence of such a person to try to find the problems myself.

I continue to have problems with not wanting to work, either on my own projects or on anybody else’s. I want whatever work I do to be meaningful. But the precise meaning of that term may pose a problem in itself. But it’s a start, anyhow. I think that my not working is because I can’t feel a sense of meaning in the things I encounter on a daily basis. I think perhaps it’s because there really isn’t anything meaningful to encounter. The rest must be the problem with my attitude which is hard to pin down.

I also lack the kind of intellectual connection which is said to be good for people. When the only person to whom one’s own ideas matter is oneself, many opportunities for formulating and publishing those ideas may be lost. A person may need other people to take an interest in what they think, and the lack of other people makes that impossible.

There may be other reasons I can’t/don’t work, sources of pride I haven’t yet identified. It doesn’t solve it just to say that, but the truth is, with pride, there’s no way to approach it directly, and it can be better to say something neutral and true than to pretend it doesn’t exist. But to even admit there is pride pre-requires at least some humility, which I obviously have.