The Enlightenment of the Devil

November 23, 2010

Dwindling aimlessly in the realm of unbelief, as I am doing recently, I am reading “God and the State” by Bakunin, along with a plethora of other books. A passage from God and the State stood out for me, because it sums up exactly how I feel about Christianity, and it’s obvious contradictions.

The quote:

“The Bible, which is a very interesting and here and there very profound book when considered as one of the oldest surviving manifestations of human wisdom and fancy, expresses this truth very naively in its myth of original sin. Jehovah, who of all the good gods adored by men was certainly the most jealous, the most vain, the most ferocious, the most unjust, the most bloodthirsty, the most despotic, and the most hostile to human dignity and liberty-Jehovah had just created Adam and Eve, to satisfy we know not what caprice; no doubt to while away his time, which must weigh heavy on his hands in his eternal egoistic solitude, or that he might have some new slaves.

He generously placed at their disposal the whole earth, with all its fruits and animals, and set but a single limit to this complete enjoyment. He expressly forbade them from touching the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He wished, therefore, that man, destitute of all understanding of himself, should remain an eternal beast, ever on all-fours before the eternal God, his creator and his master. But here steps in Satan, the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds. He makes man ashamed of his bestial ignorance and obedience; he emancipates him, stamps upon his brow the seal of liberty and humanity, in urging him to disobey and eat of the fruit of knowledge.”

I wanted to expand on this quote.
What Bakunin is getting at, is the idea that the God of the Bible is a ruthless, heartless, crazed dictator. He wants His subjects to understand that they should not question Him. He holds the ultimate knowledge and they shouldn’t. If anyone disobeys him, as Adam and Eve did, they shall be punished. The Catholic Church similarly seemed to punish anyone throughout the centuries, who fell across ideas and discoveries that ran contrary to their teaching. The Church’s treatment of Galileo is a famous example of the brutality of the Church when its authority is challenged. God had the same superiority complex, and tantrum when humanity demanded educating, in the garden of Eden. He created the concept of sin, He punishes a concept that he created, and then a few thousand years later He sends His one begotten son, to die an horrific death in order to absorb the concept that He created in the first place.

God placed a restriction on knowledge. He demanded obedient slaves, and if they wanted to improve their knowledge, they would be punished. Alongside complete obedience, he demands worship. This seem like a game. It serves no overriding purpose. Pawns are played with. And to make matters worse, those pawns are given curiosity and a yearning for knowledge and self improvement, built into their mentality. This wretched little game played by God, is both pointless, and torturous.

Along comes Satan. A symbol of evil, simply, it seems, because he tempts humanity away from God. I’m not entirely sure why this is considered a great evil. We must first accept that we wish to be next to God, to be tempted from him. And that requires our faculties of reason. Perhaps then, Satan is getting a bit of a bad press. Why is the questioning of authority a bad thing? It seems to me that questioning authority, is the basis of liberty. God wants complete obedience as revealed through scripture. This means any progressive free thinking is entirely forbidden. It means if our conscience tells us that a cute old lesbian couple, deeply in love, are not evil people destined for hell, we are to ignore it and instead choose prejudice as sanctioned by the Bible. If we follow our conscience (a conscience given to us by God in the first place), we are simply being tested by the evil of Satan. It means, Galileo should have been imprisoned for questioning Christian dogma, dogma that plunged Europe into a devastating Dark Age, ruthlessly suppressing all advancement, and discarding advances made by the Greeks. Free thought and curiosity, according to God, is a sin. That is the way of God. Satan, if anything, tells you to think for yourself.

If I am to think that the the systematic murder of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of first born children, sanctioned and executed by God in the book of Exodus, is wrong, I am being tempted by the Devil away from God. I should be condemning those first born children. That is the reality of being close to God.

Further in Exodus, we see God demanding the deaths of anyone who dances around the golden calf. This includes family, children and friends of the group. Exodus 32:28 suggests 3000 people were slaughtered for dancing around a calf. I’d say this God is evil.

In Numbers 31, God commands the total annihilation of the Midianite people (The Midianites were a tribe of Abraham’s descendants through the line of Keturah. This story always struck me as particularly cruel, whenever I read the Bible. I have my copy of the Bible sat on my lap as I write this, and I cannot for the life of me workout how anyone can read it, and not despise this God as we despise people like Hitler and Pol Pot. He seems no different. After the annihilation of the Midianite people, Moses, working on the command of God, says:

“……. kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves.”

Kill all the male children, but keep the female children, as long as they’re virgins, for themselves. Nice. 32,000 virgins in all. I am not sure how Christians or Jews can suggest that any children deserve that treatment. The Midianites inhabited a large area. Much of Northern Arabia was Midianite territory at one stage. They were a diverse people.

An authoritarian God, cannot also promote truly ethical values and behaviour. An authoritarian God necessarily negates free will. We must be good because we’re commanded to be good, by the standard of Holy Texts that most of us find the majority of, to be abhorrent to our sense of right and wrong. Morality is not morality, if it is forced and threatened.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church”, a book of defined Catholicism suggests that Satan exists only because God allows him too. In paragraph 395, it states:

Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries – of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature- to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence.

You may be mistaken into thinking that the above is the ramblings of an insane person. You’d be wrong. But only slightly. It is the ramblings of an insane institution; the Church. God allows Satan to exist. God therefore allows what he considers evil to exist. He is not at war with evil, he will never be at war with evil, because he is in complete control at all times. Which suggests, he isn’t all that loving afterall. But we knew that, given that he’s already wiped out a few million people, whilst condemning young virgins to a life of abuse at the hands of his followers (Catholic Priests are carrying on the tradition recently, it would seem).

Paragraph 397 states:

Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.

– Interesting use of the word ‘freedom‘. You are ‘free‘ to decide whether or not to believe in God’s word, but if you choose not to, you will be punished. That’s like saying to your child “You are free to play with the skateboard indoors, but if you do, I will put your head in the oven.” Freedom isn’t freedom if one of the two available chooses includes awful punishment.

In fact, there are virtually millions upon millions of people condemned to death, and violent deaths at that, by God. I cannot for the life of me find one death ordered by Satan. All he tends to do, is tempt people to question everything this maniac in the sky tells them. Satan, although portrayed in Christian literature (although not so much in the Bible) as the fallen angel turned demon, sent to tempt humanity into evil, seems actually to be the voice of reason. If we were to take the Bible as metaphor, perhaps one could infer that Satan represents reason, and enlightenment, whereas God represents Christian/Islamic dogma and slavery.

The only way we “know” that Satan is evil, is because it is alluded to in the Bible and subsequent Christian texts. Forgive me for saying, but I am not going to rely on the writings of the single most violent and corrupt institution that has existed over the past two thousand years, to lecture me on what is good and what is evil. How hypocritical of them. It also suggests that Satan is far more powerful than God. The entire history of humanity and its suffering, according to Biblical principles, was caused by Satan. The triumph of free thought over mind-dictatorship.

Bakunin points out that Satan is the first great rebel against great an evil authoritative figure. He encourages disobedience and questioning. He is the founder of the enlightenment, millennia before the enlightenment takes place. Satan is the Christian version of Prometheus. A champion of mankind. It would appear that Christianity has taught us, that an entity that gave us the courage to investigate for ourselves, and expand our understanding, and to question everything; is evil. Genocide on a scale that would make Stalin fall to his knees in awe, gets twisted and presented as “good”, whereas educating people away from this nonsense, is presented as “evil”. Christianity is therefore a very regressive force within society. The Catholic Church embodies this regressive nature perfectly.

The Enlightenment, and all the advances it brought with it. The scientific method, political and social rights, evolutionary theory, separation of Church and State….. This is what the Biblical God forbids, and attributes entirely to Satan.

We should perhaps be a little more critical of the Theocratic dictator God whom punishes you for loving the ‘wrong’ person, requires constant worship, and demands complete obedience, and a little less critical of the free thinking, enlightened Devil.

To be good

October 25, 2010

“It is unfortunate when people say ‘this is the only way’. That’s the only thing I’ve got against anybody, if they are saying ‘this is the only answer’. I don’t want to hear about that. There isn’t just one answer to anything.”
– John Lennon

You will have to excuse this blog. It is merely me trying to reason out a philosophical issue in my mind. I find it far easier to reason out a problem, if I am writing it down. That is the purpose of this blog. You may disagree with me, and you may think i’m talking nonsense. That is fine. It is your prerogative to do so.

I often hear the Western World referred to as the ‘civilised World’. I’d have to disagree profoundly with that statement, because there are so many contradictions between the way we live, and the idea of a civilised World; Education, to create a workforce rather than inquisitive minds. Laws to punish crime rather than extensive research and investment into the reasons that create the criminals and the solutions for that. Enough food to throw in a bin because we didn’t finish it, yet still not enough to give to the starving. Nation States that need huge aircraft carriers, and nuclear bombs, just incase. People considered “Illegal” because they fled their Country and came here for a better life. When we get past all of that, we become civilised.

What, then, does it mean to be ‘good’? Can we truly consider ourselves ‘good’ morally? I don’t think so. I think we can kid ourselves into believing we are good people. But below the surface, are any of us truly good? I would argue no.

To be ‘good’ is not to follow the law or to conform for the sake of society. That isn’t being good. You are simply living the life created and enforced by someone else. Conforming to a religious ideal, or Patriotism, or a class, or a race, or a certain way of life is simply creating social barriers between you and the ‘other’ which means, creating or perpetuating conflict. If you accept the meaningless barriers, you are part of that conflict. I am part of that conflict. We all know that being part of a Country is to be part of an endless conflict for superiority. As is being part of a religion. It is absurd to call yourself peaceful if you are part of a social barrier. I consider myself British, which I recognise comes with its wall of absurd superiority. Because to recognise myself as British, means I recognise someone else, who in essence is absolutely no different from me, as being ‘other’ simply because he or she is part of a great absurdity that actually doesn’t exist and is just an abstraction. That pointless and empty abstraction has always lead to a state of continual competition and conflict.

I’d argue that by considering yourself part of a great abstraction, you are creating a mass of dividing lines; not just between yourself and the rest of humanity, but between you and what society expects of you. Sixty years ago, the vast majority of the population of the United States would have told you that interracial marriage was a great evil. This is a curious thing, because in 2010, the vast majority would say the exact opposite. Society has its own brain apparently. It would seem that we look to others to tell us what to believe, within the confines of the four walls of our particular society, and then we conform accordingly. It is immensely absurd at all levels. We don’t tend to question this, because we want to be included in this exclusive club that forbids entry to those considered ‘other’. So essentially, ‘good’ is largely, a social construct. We mould our conduct and our way of thinking to suit that construct. We become robots. If we sat down, and observed the thoughts in our mind, as if we were watching through a one way mirror; did not try to suppress the thoughts and ideas that run contrary to societal expectations, only then would we start to recognise who we are, and act accordingly.

We are taught from a very early age to constantly be in conflict. Be like your older brother. Be like the ridiculously intelligent kid in school. Look as attractive as the most attractive kid in school by wearing expensive shoes or branded jeans. Be like the businessman, if you’re not, you’re a failure, and need a boss, because you’re inferior. We are taught not to question the old adage that life is cruel and that we should apparently just ‘get on with it’. By constantly comparing yourself to others, you are ignoring who you actually are, because you are being conditioned to aspire to be like someone else; someone who is not you, in any way. This also cannot be described as ‘good’.

Now, if you believe you are doing ‘good’ because you are religious, or because you are performing an act based on the expectations of society; you are actually just performing a superficial act of goodness, based on the idea that others may think it is virtuous of you. It is not truly ‘good’. You are not acting according to your own individual, subjective view of the word ‘good’.

One of the issues I have, is with education. It teaches kids not to be wrong. Because to be wrong, is to be punished throughout life. If you are wrong in business, and you lose out, you REALLY lose out. Too much is at stake to be able to afford to be wrong. Which in itself, is a problem. Sir Ken Robinson, a lecturer on education, says that by stigmatising mistakes, and scaring children into trying to always be right, we are educating them out of their creative capacity. They will be scared to be wrong, which means they will be less likely to be innovative and the problem is that it is financially insecure, to dare to be wrong. Robinson points to Picasso, who once commented that all children are born artists, the problem is remaining so as we grow up. We are educated out of creativity, a resource within us that we all have, for purely financial reasons. Forget your creativity, and your longing for an artistic outlet, and focus on being a data administrator for a Company that doesn’t know your name, or pouring drinks for rich people, and a boss who verbally pisses on you every time he opens his vomit-inducing mouth. Robinson states that the problem is that every education system in the World, puts a hierarchy of subjects at it’s very core. Maths is considered more important than music. And so the natural musicians are less likely to discover their creative talent, because they are too busy focusing on a subject they don’t care much for. If they want to learn this craft, they better be rich enough to afford a private tutor. Robinson says that we are teaching kids to be their heads, their equation solving selves, their computer analysing, data processing selves and nothing more; we are teaching children that their bodies are just a form of transport for their heads… a way of getting their heads to meetings. The hierarchy is set up, on the grounds that you’ll never get a job if music and art were at the top of the list. And so highly talented, brilliant people will steer away from higher education, because they think they simply aren’t good enough, because they were awful at maths and didn’t care much for science. It is a system created and moulded by industry and commerce, for economic reasons. And so, creativity and innovation crumble away.

A business is no different to a Nation. It isn’t the height of human freedom. If I were to make 10 shirts, at £5 each, I have made £50 for the business. If I know I am paid £25 per shift, is half of the money i’ve made, being taken away from me? I have essentially made the last 5 shirts, for free. Why does my boss get a bit of the money that i’ve made? Why is that different from condemning the tax man? The businessman taxes every employee he has, and instead of it going to improving schools or hospitals, roads or fire service, it goes to buying him a lovely new Porsche. I’m sure the Libertarians among us will attempt to justify this and why it is wondrous. It isn’t. It is manipulative. We are encouraged to be entirely in conflict with other businesses, as well as our colleagues. Back stabbing is rife. Competition breeds violence. It is written inevitable.

True freedom is still considered monetary based. Wages, scarcity, succeed or starve. I’d suggest that is a manipulation of human thought. As is the idea that without monetary incentives, humanity would crumble. I disagree. Human creativity and the desire for self realisation, can drive humanity. But so does compassion. We do not all think like Libertarians. We believe in social structures, and the benefit of a social fund. But if we insist on instilling into the minds of every generation, that a World without money and trade is some great ‘evil’ without it ever actually being tried on any level; then all we get is greed and a weak attempt to justify it. This in turn means that every aspect from life, from school onwards is presented as a competition for survival. And so naturally, the human trait of greed and selfishness is amplified. This isn’t ‘good’ and by not recognising this problem, we perpetuate it by throwing our children onto that very same framework that we all don’t particularly like. So how are we possibly doing ‘good’ by our children? We just accept that ‘such is life’. Why? We are deluded.

And so the conclusion is quite unnerving, and perhaps a little too farfetched for most people, but I would suggest that it is far fetched because we’d prefer to choose not to believe it. I would conclude, similar to the conclusions of the great philosopher Krishnamurti, that to consider yourself to be part of a society, or a religion, or a Nation, or a race; you and I are inherently violent. And that is the great problem of mankind. We segregate ourselves. We might not be violent directly. We might consider ourselves charitable and loving. But through the vicious competitive system that we live in, built on rugged individualism conflicting with each other, and the products we buy, and the abstract unreal associations we put upon ourselves, we are one in a vast World of socially created and perpetuated, vicious conflictions that will never cease until we realise we are part of it and try to change it. Our boys go to war, for what? The average Western citizen will tell you they are fighting for our freedom. What an horrendous miscalculation on their part. How manipulatable can an entire populace be? To be anti-American or anti-religious, or anti-British is not necessarily a bad thing. It is portrayed as a bad thing, because it is damaging to certain interests. There is nothing pro-American or pro-British or pro-Islam or pro-Christianity about the major institutions and businesses that act in their name. We are currently the robotic, unquestioning mouth pieces of those major institutions and businesses. And they fucking love it. These societal barriers can never create a ‘good’. We are part of  system that is institutionally violent. But it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. It is a creation. It can be broken. We let it happen. I let it happen. Therefore, I am inherently violent.

‘Good’ is what you perceive to be so, without any outside influence and social barriers.