If God Disappeared

Posted by on February 18, 2011 in Thoughts | 12 comments

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:

empire: “If there was no god, I would be a serial killer.And kill all those whom I hate without leaving a single hint.”

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.

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12 Comments

  1. Thanks Marty, i love Edward Current!
    I also want to say that if all believers seriously think that they’d start raping, killing and destroying without god, then i would suggest putting them all under house arrest, just in case one of them happens to lose their faith… just sayin’….
    Kim :)

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  2. I know of people who might fall apart emotionally if they believed (realised?) that God doesn’t exist. One of the things that would worry them intensely is “Where do I get my sense of morality from?”.

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  3. There are high functioning sociopaths who need a strict system of rules to operate in. I wouldn’t be surprised if a percentage of Christians would be serial killers if God disappeared.

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  4. The impossible inoculation happens & everyone *knows* that:

    the universe is not a god project
    god is a human construct
    there is no afterlife

    I presume it would be rather difficult to recruit suicide bombers & we could all spend the *Sabbath* digging over our allotments, insulting each other over a pint in the pub while nibbling pork scratchings & laughing incredulously about the bad old days of genital mutilation & sexual manipulation, the lies we were told about the fires of hell

    Sceptics could turn their attention to the evils of homoeopathy & related snake oil

    Michael

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  5. Those believers that would kill and murder if there was no god (which, as a matter of fact there isn’t) are complete sociopaths. And it is probably a matter of time before they commit a crime. They already do in many parts of the world including this one.

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    • I don’t agree, but I might if you define sociopath

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  6. The disappearance of God not affecting the world only makes sense if your God is a deistic one. The theistic God is not only Creator, but also Sustainer, therefore if God disappears, we cease to exist.

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  7. No Jesus, no peas. Bahahaha. Laughed so hard. Best thing about this.

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  8. This is way too scary, the only thing from keeping you from having sex with a puppy, or killing your next door neighbor, is your fear/belief of God? How bout just because it’s sick?

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  9. Calm down. The Christians spouting this nonsense about how they would kill and rape if there were no god are likely just engaging in a bit of histrionics. They probably aren’t brave enough to do those things anyway, even if they fantasize about them. After all, even without their fear of eternal punishment, there are deterrents that actually exist–like laws, police, and social constraints. Yes, there are sociopaths, but most of us who say things like that don’t mean it, and we are recipients of the gifts of nature you mentioned, such as empathy and mirror neurons. Talk is just talk. Actual deviant behavior of the kind discussed here is far rarer than our violent boasts would indicate.

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  10. I happen to be religious, and I can attest, that though I wouldn’t turn into a raging maniac, I too would consider death.

    Now, I wouldn’t kill myself because of some strange chemical imbalance; I just don’t like prolonging the inevitable. It’s the same reason I won’t go into a relationship bound to fail.

    If it was definitely certain that upon death I would have to recollection of my past, and forget myself, I just don’t see the point of putting it off. Now people say that my memory will be remembered on Earth, but I don’t care really about other’s remembering me. I care about ME remembering ME. That’s why I fear Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative diseases. What’s the point of wasting time and energy doing something when there is one, single, absolute finish? An end that results in my whole being instantly dissolving into nothingness. Why do we stop people committing suicide? If we’re all just higher level organisms living on a rock, spinning around a large ball of fire, in vast nothingness, they can die if they choose to. I mean, it’s not like they’ll regret it if there is indeed no life after death :l

    In the case of those who say they would murder, they are extreme people. I wouldn’t murder anyone for any reason, God or no God. Then again, there are those on Earth who commit crimes because they figure the worst that can happen is death, and if death brings with it no pain or judgement, why should they care?

    It’s a very complex situation. Basically, believe what you want, because we’ll all figure out the truth upon death, so no need to belabor anyone.

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  11. Using Alzheimer’s as an example, the reason why people hate disease like that and dementia is that they lose the ability to remember. So what if they lead an amazing life if they can’t remember. It’s as if it never was.

    And so is my views on living a life that can easily be snuffed out, like the flame of a candle. I just don’t see the point. Then again, there are those who, because they don’t believe in God, live their life to the fullest. To each their own. For my own sake though, I can not believe in God, for that would lead to my demise. (That an I love God too much to abandon Him).

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