Monday, July 14, 2014

Coping with Shitheads: Divine Judgment

I've caught myself often repeating a specific phrase lately: "I hate this world."  I suppose it is a symptom of my growing cynicism.  Last night, after seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (damn, that's a mouthful, but at least it was a good movie) as my friend and I were walking to my car, we heard some local band playing covers of some fairly terrible 90's pop.  It wasn't the fact that these bros were playing that bothered me, but rather that the people at the bar were actually digging it.

"I hate this world," I bitterly uttered.  The funny thing is that this surprised me because I recognized the intellectual fact that the situation wasn't really all that egregious, but it still bothered me enough to curse all of existence.  The people cheering on the crappy cover band reminded me of how limited and imperceptive we humans can be, and that's why the world is so terrible.

The world sucks because it's filled with shitheads.

What is a shithead you might ask?  Well, the great thing about that title is that it applies to an incredibly wide range of humans with specific attitudes, personalities, and preferred modes of interaction.  The people at the bar: shitheads.  Women who thrive on Alice-in-Wonderland (read: completely fucking absurd) type drama: shitheads.  Men who think it's a good idea to get multiple women pregnant without any intention of taking care of their offspring: shitheads.  Terrorists: shitheads.  Politicians: shitheads.

No matter who you are, it is exhausting to ruminate on the staggering number of different ways that this world totally blows.  Over the years, I have arrived at a philosophical conclusion that helps me cope with all the shitheads of the world, but I can't help but wonder: how do the idiots and the shitheads cope with all the shitheads of the world?

It should should not shock anyone to hear that most people in the world are too stupid to understand even the simplest ideas of philosophy, so there is only one logical conclusion as to why there are not mass suicides: religion.  Well, to be more specific, we're talking about divine judgment.

Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do the evil prosper from the blood and sweat of the pious?  Well, the obvious answer is that most of the bad shit that happens to us is completely random, unless you believe that God is a sadistic asshole who enjoys torturing his most fervent believers; and that he's a giant douche who rewards the vile sociopaths of humanity.  Even though it's not hard to conclude that an Omni-Omni Being (OOB) would possess such asinine qualities, that still doesn't provide much comfort.

So, to make ourselves feel better, we invented the notion of divine judgment.  Divine judgment provides humanity with a false sense of eternal reward for the pious and damnation for the vile.  When the greedy fat cats on Wallstreet or in the government get away with stealing right from our pockets, we tell ourselves that they will get theirs in the next life.  When tragedy after horrifying tragedy befalls us, we sooth our weary minds with thoughts of ethereal paradise.

We convince ourselves that our suffering will bring us justice in the end, and the greater our suffering, the greater our reward.  It makes it a lot easier to cope with horror, because the only thing worse than enduring suffering is to do so without hope.  Hopeless suffering is the worst brand of misery a human can experience, and we avoid it at all costs, even if it means believing in an idea that we would normally dismiss as fantastical superstition.

One must recognize that the notion of an afterlife, and religion itself, is an invention of man.  It's humanity's way of coping with meaningless suffering brought on by the shitheads of the world.  For a moment, suspend your belief in the notion of divine truth and examine the psychology of religion.  Religion fulfills the same psychological needs as philosophy, but religion only requires blind faith in the existence of imperceptible things rather than understanding complex ideas about the nature of all things.

So a question for my readers: does humanity truly benefit from the notion of divine judgment, or would we be better off without it?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nope.

We're just a ball of goo passing through.

Glad to see you've finally embraced your atheism

Shaw Kenawe said...

Very Flaubertian post. He shared your low estimation of mankind and preferred his study and his devotion to his writing to mixing with the unwashed masses (except when he delighted in the company of the "elites.")

Does mankind benefit from the idea of divine judgement?

In my lifetime I've seen enough to conclude, resoundingly, NO!

Even the most fanatical religionists make up reasons to commit and to justify mayhem and murder--if it's against an infidel, you will be rewarded for it! So murder does not result in divine judgement, but rather reward.

Obviously, these religionists just make it up as hey go along to justify their monstrous behavior against those who do not share their beliefs.

It's been that way all though human history, and in all religions.

Satan said...

I knew you would come around eventually

Jack Camwell said...

First, let me clarify something: I am not an atheist. The closest thing that I identify with is Deism. Just because I don't necessarily believe in the concept of heaven, hell, and divine judgment doesn't mean I definitively believe that God does not exist.

Anyhow, thanks for stopping by Shaw! I agree that religion has been used for incredibly nefarious purposes, but honestly, I think the world would be a far more depressing place without religion.

NOW HEAR ME OUT!!! Haha!

As I mentioned, I have a very low estimation of the cognitive capacity of the unwashed masses, as they say. When one contemplates the philosophical meaning of existence, it can become very depressing. I remember when I came to a realization that ultimately, life is one big joke--it is the ultimate absurdity of everything--I was pretty distraught for a while.

An existential crisis is not easy to overcome, but fortunately I was introduced to Albert Camus. He seemed to have the answers that I was looking for, and I was capable of understanding his philosophy.

But take someone who can't even understand something as simple as, say, the Allegory of the Cave. If that person didn't just end up committing suicide, he/she would likely just live life miserably. Could you imagine an already miserable world plagued with mass, chronic depression? I'd rather not imagine such a place.

I'm not the biggest fan of religion, but just like anything it serves a positive function despite all of its problems. As I mentioned in my article, the worst possible scenario is hopeless suffering, and a world full of hopeless misery is a scary thought.

Perhaps it is all hopeless as Camus would suggest, but getting people to understand the concept of "hopeless hope," for the sake of sanity and mental health is a tall order, especially considering 90% of the human population has never even heard of Camus.

Jersey McJones said...

Well, Jack, it sounds like you got a touch of "You're Getting Old" - a funny as all hell South Park episode. You know the one, where everything sounds like shit to Stan and his dad becomes a shit-grunge musician.

Divine Justice comes down to a further bottom line, and that's Free Will. I am in accord with today's understanding of Free Will coming from the likes of Sam Harris - that it is a fallacy at best, and leads to all sorts of problems with the way we engage each other and our environs. There is no Divine anything. We make all the rules, we come to our own consequences, or we don't, and we live with the luck of a draw in a game we barely understand.

JMJ

Jack Camwell said...

"Well, Jack, it sounds like you got a touch of "You're Getting Old" - a funny as all hell South Park episode."

YES! That's exactly what I had in mind when I was writing this. Everything sounds like shit, haha. Poor Stan.

Singularity57 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke Brannigan said...

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

― George Carlin

I have a personal policy to not call or think of people as being stupid. That doesn't make George Carlin any less right (or funny), but in the interest of developing the lenses that I use to perceive the world, it keeps me sane.

One of the biggest problems with religion, is it has a near monopoly on some really cool and interesting cultural inventions.

On paper, it sounds great. Once a week, Me and a bunch of my friends meet to listen to stories and poetry, talk about morality and one's place in the world. We even sing songs together, and teach our kids about morality and their place in the world. We tell each other that we wish them peace and love and we even get together sometimes to help a member of the group (even if we don't know them well) because it's the right thing to do.

Sign me up!

Except, it ends up being a breeding ground of groupthink fallacy and confirmation bias. Don't even get me started on the way pastors encourage their congregation to abuse their children (spare the rod, spoile the child.) Members are sold a product that doesn't exist (immortality) and are told that not buying the product results in eternal, painful consequences. The people who sell this product (whose livelihood depends on it) gradually radicalize their "flock" (like sheep, and people willingly submit to this term for themselves) using social engineering and psychological manipulation tactics that are, in my opinion, psychopathic.

And it is such a powerful tactic that most people subscribe to it in some form, for fear of the eternal consequences. "What if I'm wrong?" we think, and we nod approvingly along to the "Word" when someone so bold as to testify in public, does so in our presence.

And, not to pick on Christianity, but let's call it what it really is: an Apocalyptic Death Cult. And, according to a 2012 Gallup Poll, 77% of Americans identify as being a part of it.

People tend to go with the group. We all do it in some form or another. But anyone who thinks they can't be manipulated, tell me that next time you drive past a McDonald's and start smelling those fries and decide to stop in and grab a sack of deep-fried cardboard packaged in our fucking childhood.

Because I joined Amway for a week, and I read books.

I think the solution is to engage people. Maybe I can't engage that guy, but maybe you can. We need to open our minds and our hearts to other people; we are social primates, and we are infinitely complicated. That makes every person beautiful, like a fractal of ideas.

Ignorance can only be defeated from the inside to the outside.

And if you want to avoid shitty cover bands, avoid OSU campus. Otherwise, you buy the ticket, you take the ride.

Jack Camwell said...

"And if you want to avoid shitty cover bands, avoid OSU campus. Otherwise, you buy the ticket, you take the ride."

This was at the Rave theater in Polaris =p

I agree with your idea on engaging people. That was the original intent with my blog, but too often I fall into cynicism mode, and I can be a little harsh on groups of people.

Part of the problem, though, is that most people don't want to be engaged. They believe whatever they believe, and they don't want to change that. I know it is in fact possible to change a mind--an old friend of mine, an ardent Christian, once told me that I significantly shaped his views on God and religion--but only a small percentage of the human population is willing to listen.

Hopeless hope, Luke. That is what will drive me through our upcoming joint projects.

Sprickoló Tömegek said...

"We convince ourselves that our suffering will bring us justice in the end, and the greater our suffering, the greater our reward."

No actual religion teaches this. Straw man much?

"So, to make ourselves feel better, we invented the notion of divine judgment. Divine judgment provides humanity with a false sense of eternal reward for the pious and damnation for the vile."

Had you had any insight into actual philosophy, you would know that the value, utility and worthiness of anything comes from OUTSIDE itself, so what determines the value of wordly existence necesarily exists outside of wordly existence.

"For a moment, suspend your belief in the notion of divine truth and examine the psychology of religion."

You believe you can examine the psychology of anything while ignoring what it's talking about.

"Religion fulfills the same psychological needs as philosophy, but religion only requires blind faith in the existence of imperceptible things rather than understanding complex ideas about the nature of all things."

You apparently never heard about the term "axiom" before, so must not know much about philosophy in general.

You are also willing to believe that people who believe in God don't know what they believe in, as it's "imperceivable".



But alas, shitheads need not know anything to declare themselves full of insight.

Jack Camwell said...

"No actual religion teaches this. Straw man much?"

Religion is an invention of man, so whatever religion "teaches" is what man is teaching himself. It's not a strawman argument, especially if you follow the logic, which I'm guessing you perhaps did not.

"Had you had any insight into actual philosophy . . ."

Oh boy, here we go.

"the value, utility and worthiness of anything comes from OUTSIDE itself . . ."

You're a nihilist and didn't even know it!

" so what determines the value of wordly existence necesarily exists outside of wordly existence."

So then how do you know that ANYTHING has any value at all? Is it because a book tells you so? But the book itself that tells you that God loves you is, in itself, something that exists in this world. So how do you know that the book itself has any value since you--a being of this world--cannot judge its value?

You essentially shot yourself in the foot with that argument, because the ONLY actual "evidence" of divine anything comes from human experience--our recollection of things or events that were perceived to be divine. So since human recollection exists in the realm of worldly existence, then that means we have no idea about the value of our ideas, memories, and recollections. So basically, you have no idea whether your claims have any more value than my claims. You do realize that in order to believe what you have stated, you have to accept the notion of divine judgment based on . . . faith. Think about that for a while, and you'll see where you failed to present a compelling counter argument.

"You apparently never heard about the term "axiom" before, so must not know much about philosophy in general."

Given what you've said so far, it is apparent that you do not have a strong understanding of philosophy, or even the things that you personally believe to be true.

The alternative, I guess, is that you're just not all that concerned with logical consistency.

Satan said...

Don't listen to that Sprickoló Tömegek character!

Anonymous said...

"Religion is an invention of man"

So is philosophy, and everything else not given us as pure nature.

"the value, utility and worthiness of anything comes from OUTSIDE itself . . ."

To state otherwise is to spin a tautology

What separates Aristotle or Plato from Moses or St. Paul?

Think about it.

Jack Camwell said...

"the value, utility and worthiness of anything comes from OUTSIDE itself . . ."

To state otherwise is to spin a tautology"

Based on what you've said, I don't think you quite understand the definition of tautology.

Again, I think you and the other guy greatly misunderstand what it is you actually believe. Just as well, your philosophical argument about the value of things *only* works if you believe that God exists and that our value comes from God.

But, as I explained to the other guy, since anything divine is ultimately not-perceivable to humans, that would mean that you have no real solid evidence for the value of anything.

And the believe that value is completely extrinsic is essentially Nihilism, i.e. the belief that nothing has any intrinsic meaning or value.

Personally, I believe that things have intrinsic value and meaning. So, for example, if we discovered tomorrow beyond a shadow of a doubt that God does NOT exist, then for me, humanity would still have value and meaning. In your scenario, the meaning and value of humanity hinges entirely on the notion that God exists *AND* that God actually gives a shit about us.

What separates Aristotle and Plato from Moses or Paul? Aristotle and Plato speak about the lessons we learn from real, tangible human interaction. Moses and Paul spoke about the lessons that someone claimed they learned when they claimed to have a potentially real, yet wholly intangible interaction with something that does not exist in a way human beings can understand.

Anonymous said...

Have you read Aristotle, Jack?

Do you realize how much he was wrong about?

Jack Camwell said...

Of course I've read Aristotle. I'm fairly familiar with his work.

I realize that there's a lot of Aristotle that I don't agree with. But I have to ask you: what's the basis of judgment for Aristotle being right or wrong?

Secondly, what's the basis for anything written in the Bible being right or wrong?

Keep in mind that just because someone thinks an idea is "wrong" doesn't mean the idea itself bears no truth. That goes for secular and religious philosophy.

I am of the mind that when we declare one source of information and ideas as the absolute, indisputable truth, that is when we have truly given up on being a free-thinking human being.

Aristotle was wrong to try to justify slavery (although if you know anything about the history of slavery, you would know that slavery as he knew it was much different than slavery in 19th century America) but Joshua was also wrong for murdering women and children and claiming that "God commanded it."

Shaw Kenawe said...




Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.

AHB said...

Right you are, that goes to show me that a philosopher and a great thinker like Aristotle was a shitty scientist.

None the less here we are all these years later debating his work.

Tesla fell in love with a laser aura pigeon, so mayhaps he was a bit touched in the head. Absolute undeniable genius, absolute undeniable mad man.

None the less everyone in the first world pretty much relies on AC electricity and his numerous other contributions.

When the deals are done I am of the opinion that if the religious people stick to what they know/feel or whatever it is, and don't try to encroach it on the rest of us, we shall have no problems.

There is a lot about science that doesn't make sense, and even after you look at the data and the evidence you still have questions and doubts, that is the fundamental difference. Science tries to explain something complex by adding up simpler principles; Religion starts off trying to explain something as simple by making it overly complex.