"The Real War" (3/2002)
I think with all the talk about Christianity and Islam being at odds with each other, about "the West" being at war with the Muslim world, and about all the "us against them" posturing that's going on, we are losing sight of what's really going on here. The terrorists are using the people they recruit to engage in violent acts against those they see as not whorshiping God the "right" way, and our own government pits our entire civilization against the terrorists, and paints a picture of one culture against another (much like they do in the overblown "culture wars") to foment jingoistic hatred. But all of this bluster and shouting masks the real war that's going on.
That war, the one we should be concerned about, is not us (the supposed universal Christian "us") versus the Taliban, or us versus al Qaeda, or us versus Islam in general. It's the war between those who believe that serving God's will is more important than the health and well-being of humanity, and those who know better than this and think otherwise. All theophiles, whether they be fundamentalist Christians or extremist Muslims, are on the same side, because they all have the same goal—to bring about conflict between people based on ethnic and religious boundaries, at the cost of our collective and individual freedom and happiness, all for the glory of God.
Their leaders are categorically not interested in bringing about peace; they relish the thought of conflict between us. Bush gleefully sees himself as a war President, and sees the resurrection of the US's military-industrial complex to the status it had back in Nixon's day as a primary goal. Bin Laden has no desire to free his fellow Muslims or bring about any benefit in their lives, he is encouraging them to suffer and die for the glory of their God. More important than choosing sides in this battle between bullies is choosing not to choose sides, electing instead to reject the very notion that we should be in conflict with each other over what God tells people to do.
God is like the family patriarch who runs a family business and expects all his "children" to continue to work for him forever. When his children elect to go out into the real world and find their own way (as is their right of course), he not only seeks to keep them from doing so—discouraging and even lying to them about the outside world to keep them reined in—he also reaches out into the world to thwart their efforts to live their own lives.
"Why We Don't Proselytize to Theophiles" (5/2003)
What people don't seem to get is that I am not in any way at all interested in proselytizing to theophiles. For most of them, there is no hope of their changing their minds about their beliefs—so entrenched in them have they become that it's virtually impossible to get out of the rut. And even if I could: listening to some of these people speak out about the beliefs they hold now—would I want them to stand up for maltheism, given the way they argue, the way they present their opinions, and the way they treat those who disagree with them?
No, the intent is definitely not to proselytize to such people. Their vanity may lead them to assume that they are "targets" of Maltheist "evangelism," but nothing could be further from the truth. Given their attitude towards religious belief, they would be counterexamples of everything Maltheism actually stands for.
The real intent is to simply give voice to the notion that God is not all he's cracked up to be, to let others who have already considered this notion (or are on the verge of doing so) know that they are not "crazy" for believing it nor alone in considering it. Theophilia thinks it holds a unchallenged monopoly on religious thought among the human race. Each group may violently disagree with each other and even hate each other (as God commands them to) but one thing they "agree" on is the erroneous belief that God is good, and challenges to that supposedly "universal" anti-glue that bonds these people together in the act of separating themselves from each other are the greatest "blasphemy" imaginable.
We need more blasphemy like that in the world.
"The Myth of 'Necessary' Evil" (1/2003)
Taken from Paul Zimmerman's notes in the early part of 2003, combining several entries into one for completeness. This entry provides a rebuttal to the belief that God needed to create evil in this world, as an excuse for his not making a world without evil in it. Here is a link to one of the original posts on Beliefnet from which this was derived.
I was recently asked the converse question to the (supposedly unanswered) question associated with the problem of theodicy. While that question asks "If God is good and as powerful as he claims to be, why is there evil and suffering in the world?", the converse question is "If God is bad (as Maltheism asserts him to be), why is there good in the world?"
Allow me to present an answer.
Theophiles would tell you that "good needs evil in order to exist." They use this as an apologetic excuse for why God created evil—he "had to." They also claim that if he did not create evil, there would be no free will.
Both these claims are patently false. Good could certainly exist without evil, but would not "stand out" as something distinct from "anti-good" (ie, evil) if there were no evil. It would not be labeled as something "special" distinguished from some "opposite," but it could and would still exist.
The notion that free will requires the existence of evil is also nonsense. Those offering it assert that, without evil, we would have no free will, and thus be "robots" or "slaves." This notion makes it sound like there are only two choices, to do "the good thing" and to do "the evil thing." In reality, there is a near infinity of possible choices, even if you remove all the "evil" choices (or, more accurately, if the world had been created so that nothing resulted in harm and evil).
Further, remember that God claims to offer his followers a place of infinite bounty where there is no evil but where we are NOT robots or slaves! Is God lying about the existence of this place? (It also begs the question: why would an omnipotent benevolent God put his creations in the place with evil and suffering in it rather than in the place without those things that he also created?)
Now, having said that good does not require evil in order to exist, let me demonstrate the converse—that evil DOES require good to exist.
While good does not depend on the existence of a contrast between it and "non-good" to make it exist, evil depends on this very contrast. It needs good in order to thrive and survive for any substantial amount of time. In fact, evil could not exist in a world without good! Can you imagine a world that is totally evil? It would disintegrate itself in an infinitesimal amount of time!
Imagine a world, for instance (as horrible as this might sound), where all newborns of all species are stillborn. (Note that as horrible as this sounds, it is far from being "as evil" as the world could get.) First, it would only last for one generation (or non-generation), if that long. How long could such a universe sustain itself? The stillborn babies could not reproduce and give birth to a further generation of stillborn babies, could it? The evil would be terminated by its own excesses.
Second, the presence of a mechanism for birthing new beings implies the possibility of birth and regeneration. The evil exists in the failure of a mechanism that should bring about good—as in new life. If nothing could ever be born, because the world was not set up to create and generate new life, the evil of a baby coming into the world stillborn wouldn't even be possible. If dead entities simply "gave birth" to other dead entities (eg, rocks coming out of other rocks), where there was no reasonable expectation of life emerging, would this be "evil?" Of course not. It is only within a world in which is life is possible but denied and thwarted that such a thing can be considered evil.
Evil IS evil because it lives off of good, in a parasitic fashion. It tries to take what has been produced by the good from the good for its own ends, without compensating the good or benefiting it. That is, by definition, what makes it evil. That is what evil is.
Thus, the question "If God is bad, why is there good in the world?" is easily answered: because evil requires the existence of good in order to sustain itself. And when God seeks to exploit us and feed off of our whorship forcibly solely for his own ends while claiming he is doing it "for our good," this is an example of evil.
"Imagine if you would: Religion and the X-Files" (11/2001)
Imagine, if you would:
The world is under attack from an extraterrestrial force, not of this Earth. Those in charge deny there is a problem, deny that there is anything wrong. In fact, unbeknownst to us all, those in charge are collaborating with the enemy.More than just collaborating: they are acting as the enemy's fifth column, propagandizing to us the notion that this alien foe is really our friend, and that we should joyously embrace eternal servitude to this monstrous force.This sounds like the theme of the long-running TV series "The X Files," or the plot from a new Oliver Stone movie, doesn't it?Except it's the way things really are in this world, and the way they have been for centuries.The extraterrestrial force is God. The collaborators are the God whorshippers who tell us, despite all evidence to the contrary, that God is good, worthy of our devotion and supplication.They tell us, despite all the evil God has wrought upon us (and all the good he takes credit for that happened naturally with no assistance from him), that we should whorship him, obey him, fall in line and accept him.
Did Chris Carter (creator of the X-Files) present us with a literal description of the UFO phenomenon as factual history? Or was he offering a metaphor for the way God and his whorshipers have crushed the spirit of mankind for millennia?
Does it make you wonder? Probably not. Most people are so fixed in their intransigent mindsets about the obvious goodness of God that they would never give thought, despite all evidence, to the notion that God might not be what he says he is.
Greetings to all.
Having worked out various details, I am finally getting ready to post excerpts from my Dad's writings here on this blog. The first of these will be posted later today, with more to come. I hope you get something positive out of the things my Dad had to say.