Thursday, August 03, 2006

Part-time God

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of mankind is man. - Alexander Pope

I was thinking about this conversation at Nails' joint:

When you become an atheist you become your own god. There is nothing more comforting than to live and die by your own determining.

I still don't see the point of being your own God. I mean, who would you have to blame the next time you were smitten with boils? You'd have no-one to turn to but yourself. I don't really see why any believer would depend on God to get things done, anyway; I'm pretty sure the people who built the cathedrals didn't just sit around waiting for a notional entity who may or may not exist to do the job for them. No, as far as I can see, the point of God is, pretty much, that God is the point. Whatever that means.

Still, one of the nice things about being your own God is self-worship, which makes you feel good, even if it is entirely useless. I decided to give it a crack myself, just to see what it was like ...

Setting Myself On A Pedestal

In this exercise, I attempted to place myself on a pedestal so that I could look up to myself as a deity while looking down on myself as a lowly wretch. This was difficult at first, but I achieved it by keeping my two feet firmly planted on the ground, while reaching down and lifting them both up onto the pedestal with my hands.
Unfortunately, the pedestal turned out to be wobbly, so after several seconds of me gazing adoringly up at myself glaring imperiously down, I fell up onto myself.

Note: I think I need to go on a diet, as I had difficulty pushing me off myself.

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Setting My Own Destiny

God, as we know, is omnipotent arbiter of all that was, is, and will be in the universe. Man, on the other hand, is an intelligent, independent being with a free will of his own. As both omnipotent God and independent, free-willed being, I had the unique opportunity to set my own destiny, apart from the horrible caprices of a vast and indifferent deity (apart from myself, that is.)
As God, I immediately set down as my fate that I would take over the universe. However, as man, I obviously had a different idea, as I preferred to lie down on the couch and watch the television. Outraged at my impudent refusal to do the bidding of Almighty Me, I immediately decided to punish myself: for I, the Lord my God, am a Vengeful God.
However, I am also a just and loving God, so I decided instead that my destiny would be to lie on the couch and watch the TV. After a few seconds, I discovered that I wasn't watching the TV at all, but fantasising about a cute girl at work. Curses! Foiled again!
I guess, at this point, I could have changed my destiny to win her love, but for some reason, I had begun to doubt that I would have achieved this. Even if I was omnipotent.

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Becoming One With the Godhead

In all religions, Man longs to become united with God. In my religion, this seemed a rather easy task, as I was my own God. However, every time I moved towards myself to become united for eternity with myself, I found myself moving away towards someone else.
In the end, I had to give it up as a bad job.

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As you know, one of the most endearing characteristics of God is his habit of sacrificing himself for his worshippers. As God of myself and worshipper of myself, this pleasing duty fell to me. You'd have to be fucking mad if you thought for one moment that I was going to kill myself just to please myself, however. The only way I'd do that is if I'd be around to enjoy it, and I'd probably be too busy being dead to do that.
Instead of God sacrificing himself for people, I thought, why not people sacrificing themselves for God? So when my flatmate got home, I asked him if he'd like to top himself for me.
Unfortunately, he just looked at me strangely, and asked if I'd paid the rent.

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Death and Destruction!

There's nothing man and God likes to do more than have a nice war. One group of Gods will fight with another group of Gods, polytheists will fight against monotheists, monotheists will fighty against other monotheists, Muslims against Christians, Jews against Muslims - not to mention the various types of polytheists squabbling amongst themselves.
Shortly after becoming my own God, I got into a dispute with myself over whether I was Many or One. Outraged at such blasphemy, I picked up a sword and rushed at myself.
Over the course of the next hour, I enacted the wars of the Hittites v. the Persians, the Persians v. the Greeks, the Greeks v. the Romans, the Romans v. the Egyptians, the Egyptians v. the Babylonians, the Babylonians v. the Assyrians, the Assyrians v. the Byzantines, the Byzantines v. the Turks, the Turks v. the Germans, and the Germans everybody. It was all good clean fun, and not a little pleasing to Me: for I, the Lord My God, am a jealous God, and I do like a little bloodsheed, ooh, yes I do!

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The Temptation of Myself

One of the most difficult aspects of self-deity, I found, was being at once the Just and Omnipotent deity who set moral laws, and the timid wretch whose duty it was to follow these laws, however imperfectly.
Clearly, as an Omnipotent God, I could do anything I bloody well wanted; obviously, as a worshipper, I had to do exactly what I was told to do. Matters soon came to a head over a chicken pie:

An Ethical Discussion with Myself:

Tim: Clearly, this chicken pie is Good, and I should eat it forthwith!

Tim: Puny human! Hold back thy hand! For that chicken pie is high in cholesterol and congealed fats, yea, even in MSG! And I forbid it thee!

Tim: (Quails) Forgive me, Lord, for I know not what I do!

Tim: Arise, wretch! For I forgive thee thy faults!

Tim: (Licking lips) Oh, your mighty magniloquence, it does look delicious, doesn't it?

Tim: Turn thy head in the other direction, worm! Or else, I shall smite thee with a thunderbolt!

Tim: O Lord, I know what you're up to - you'll steal it when I'm not looking!

Tim: (Quietly) He's a smart cookie, this one (Aloud) Silence, mortal! I'll show you! (Throws pie out the window)

Tim: O Almighty, why did you do that? Now I'll never get lunch!

Tim: I ... don't ... know!

Tim: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani!

Tim: What does that mean?

Tim: I don't know, I can't speak Hebrew ...

Now, I don't know about you, but I think I came out of that pretty well ...

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On the whole, I enjoyed being my own God, but I don't think I'll take it up full-time. It's far too likely to cause a chronic case of schizophrenia.


Don Quixote said...

"Standing above the crowd,
He had a voice so strong and loud and I
Swallowed his facade cuz I'm so
Eager to identify with
Someone above the ground,
Someone who seemed to feel the same,
Someone prepared to lead the way, with
Someone who would die for me"

Every act of masturbation is an act of self-worship; ergo, we're all our own gods. You don't need a stool, you just need a tube of ky and a catcher's mitt; although admittedly, as recent posts on other blogs have outlined, some gods have been neglected of late.

Hey, if you end up schizophrenic it just means that you're a polytheistic self-god.

I go all irrational when talk turns to god. I figure that, just as when my demented grandpa defecates in his pants, prompting us not to argue with him about the smell, I should avoid arguing with people about the existence of god. Really, any such discussion and I'll end up making a lame-duck statement like, "be your own god." It sounds like the marketing slogan that didn't make it off the design board when someone came up with "just do it" at the Nike headquarters.

TimT said...

Everybody gets touchy when the talk turns to religion. Glad you seem to have taken this good humouredly, it wasn't aimed at your comments in particular, just inspired by the conversation.

Caz said...

Being an atheist means never having to think about anyone's god.

Caz said...

If you are your own deity, what to you have left to aspire to?

Caz said...

Aspiring to being "a better deity" would lower your value in the deity market.

Caz said...

And how does a deity decide on whether to be omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient?

Don Quixote said...

"And how does a deity decide on whether to be omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient?"

You become superomni! It is a collage composed of all three virtues.

And, Timt, I take everything good humoredly; except disparaging reviews of Mars Volta albums - those can send me into a rage.

TimT said...

Omniomni, perhaps?

TimT said...

- Atheism is often an excuse for endless obsession over other people's Gods (who don't, of course exist); and all the trouble those Gods (who never did exist) cause.

Were the early Christians atheists about other people's Gods? In order to turn from a polytheist to a monotheist, don't you have to kill a lot of Gods?

- That's a question for God.

- Depends whether you're a monotheist, maybe ... which would make you a monotheist monopolist.

- That's a problem for the fundamentalists! God being all powerful is not the same thing as God being all just, and not even necessarily the same thing as him being all wise and knowing. Are we talking about the same God?
The various 'proofs' of God's existence I've seen in facts very different aspects of his supposed identity. (eg, the existence of morality, God as the First Cause, God as the most powerful, etc.)

Caz said...

Actually I don't think about gods - ever - other people's gods are so far outside my frame of reference that it's unimaginable.

Religion, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish and large cup of wine, as religion is entirely man-made, and the man-made belief systems drive a lot stuff going on around us, none of which has anything to do with anyone's deity of choice. So, one can take a passing interest in various religious belief systems - particularly so as to understand the agenda of different groups - without ever having to give contemplation to the existence of a god of any flavour.

TimT said...

I do, probably partly as a result of my fondness for mythology of all sorts. There was a time when I argued about religion as much as possible, but I think I got over that.

Religion and God are perhaps two slightly different concepts, but I'm not happy with the concept of religion, anyway. It seems like a weird composite of ethics, myth, science, history, and a couple of other disciplines chucked in. I don't know what it is, and I think that worries me.

TimT said...

Edit: argued about religion and God as much as possible ...

(I had religious friends at uni)

Email: timhtrain - at -

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