If God Disappeared
A while back I found this youtube video from 2009 by Edward Current, a video-maker who plays Poe and acts like a fundamental Christian to point out the logical fallacies of religion. In this video her talks about the idea that if God disappeared, the world would fall into chaos, and life would become meaningless. Take a few minutes to watch it, it’s quite good.
More after the jump…
First of all, I want to reiterate that Edward Current is not a Fundamentalist Christian. He is a satirist who does quite a convincing job of playing the part of a biblical literalist, so much so that people even answer his videos thinking he is the real thing. But when viewed with the foreknowledge of the fact that he is actually sending these people up, his videos highlight some of the irrationalities we face when dealing with fundamentalists of any kind.
Back to the video at hand. The most poignant point to come from this video is that if there were no God, the world would actually be exactly as it is now. I’m talking specifically about the personal God, the god that controls our destinies and the God that watches over us as we sleep (creepy). I’m not talking about the abstract notion of God the creator who stands by and watches his creation unfold before him. No, this is specifically about the interventionist God, the one Nick Cave doesn’t believe in.
The real point that the video is highlighting, though, that some people believe that without God there would be nothing to stop people from raping, killing and destroying this world. This is a real notion that some people have, I have even seen occasion where a Christian will state outright that they would go about killing, raping and destroying the world if they didn’t believe in God, or if God were to simply cease to exist. Through a simple search on Google, I found this tract on Facebook from an unnamed person:
“without God, I would kill rob and murder. In fact without God, I would cut your throat and enjoy watching you die slowly. I would take everything you own, murder any witnesses and burn everything you own to the ground. Just for disrespecting me. I am filled with rage and hate. If there were no God, as much as I hate this world, I would go to brazil, breed an uncureable deadly virus in some monkeys then wipe the planet free of the evil that consumes it. So do not be coy or stupid when you say without God we would not just go around raping and murdering, because I would. I take what i want and do as i please.”
This I found on MyLot.com in a discussion thread about this topic:
This I found on an answers.yahoo.com discussion thread:
100th Monkey: “If there was no GOD I would of killed myself decades ago.”
This is just a drop in the ocean of claims like this. I have also seen this on Twitter under the #atheism hashtag, and again and again on forums, comments on blogs, etc. There certainly does seem to be a lot riding on the certainty of God’s existence. Many many people truly belive that thir moral compass, their sense of right and wrong, their control and willpower and their every judgement is sent to them from God. I find this very alarming indeed. If this is truly the state of humanity, I am really very worried about the future.
To think that, for so many, the existence of God is the only thing from the world spinning into chaos and anarchy, is a troublesome concept. Are these people really sociopathic, and need the crutch of religion to stop them from becoming violent? Is religion necessary for some? Does it really stop people from doing wrong because of the threat of punishment and damnation? What kind of person makes statements like this?
We all have, in our brains, mirror neurons, which allow us to empathise with others, humans and animals alike. Because of this, knowing what another creature might be feeling, we know what it would be like for us to be in the same situation as another. We also have a self-preserving aversion to pain, which stops us from wanting to get hurt or put ourselves in perilous situations. The combination of these factors in our brains allows us to make decisions about right and wrong, and decisions about what actions we should or shouldn’t take. This is what stops us from hurting or killing others, yet some call it God.
I wonder if the people who made the statements truly feel this way, or whether these statements were made in a particularly stressful time for them. I also wonder, if the idea of God were to disappear from their minds, would they spontaneously lose all self control and become serial-killers, or suicidal, or both?
Back to the video. While Edward Current’s topic may come across as humourous, the real topic at hand is quite serious. What would be the effects of disproving God’s existence? I know my moral compass does not hinge upon the idea of punishment as a deterrent. Does it for those who believe God is watching them? If, for example, the police department were to spontaneously disappear, would these people who depend upon their ever-watchful God suddenly start breaking in to shops, speeding and crashing into others? Without the deterrent, are people really all just out for themselves? If this is the case, then maybe the idea of God is not only useful, but necessary for those who lie on the fringes of sanity.
If God disappeared, there would be no difference in the world. However, if every God believer suddenly realised that there was no heaven, no hell, no afterlife, and no invisible sky-daddy watching over their every move, and that their lives and decisions have been primarily guided by themselves, by chance, by interaction, and by cause and effect, there may be some consequences, if not for everyone, at least for these individuals.