Why call him god?

Reminded today of Epicurus – in particular the “Epicurean paradox” which attempts to deal with why there is evil in the world when there is such a thing as an omnipotent god:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

Tis the season to re-read the classics.

Rest in peace God… but why?

Across the street from the cathedral in Göteborg someone has sprayed the words “Vila i frid Gud” which translates to “Rest in Peace God”. At first I just ignored it. Then I decided to photograph it, but still I didn’t think it was worth much. But the words stuck in my mind. Maybe even more so as an unbeliever.

from my flickr site

The natural connection for me was to link the sentiments that God should rest in peace was that God was dead. This idea has it’s origins in Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science”

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

Nietzsche used his idea of God’s death to present the important idea that theology was no longer able to provide a source of morality for modern society.

But still the grafitti on the wall did not ring true. It took some time before I got what was wrong. If god was dead and unable to provide us with a moral solace what was the point of wishing that he was to rest in peace? The real reason we tend to wish RIP is to act as a comfort to those who are alive, not to the deceased.

But those who do not believe do not need comfort – so what if god is dead? Those who do believe don’t need comfort – they don’t believe the sign! So why bother writing the words on the wall? Just plain vandalism, irony or a fact that the writer does not “get” his Nietzche?

Or maybe I should just stop reading the writing on the wall?

What comes after atheism?

Just finished reading Richard Dawkins‘ “The God Delusion” – what an excellent book! My main reason for waiting before reading it was that I doubted that it would be different from other atheist literature. I was wrong! Dawkins makes a brilliant argument for independent thought and the need to question everything – including atheism itself.

So in the spirit of the book and spending some time on a beach I obviously needed to ask myself about my beliefs – what else should you do between tanning and swimming?

Formally I was a Lutheran but I grew up in a catholic country attending a Roman Catholic all boys school. Since I was a protestant I did not need to take religion – interesting that the name of the subject was religion since it had nothing to do with anything other than Roman Catholic beliefs.

The mix of relaxed, disinterested Lutheranism and strict Catholic schooling gave me an aversion to my own Christianity. So I searched haphazardly among theoretical approaches to Buddhism, Islam & Hinduism. They were all interesting as historical and cultural topics but not as faiths. Even the laid back philosophical Buddhism was too much. Why label yourself a Buddhist? Why not include, Vegetarian, Existentialist, Marxist, Neo Capitalist when labels only constrain ideas.

So for a long time I decided that I was an agnostic. I thought that the problem was that there was not enough proof. Then I realized when I formally left the Swedish church, which I was automatically enrolled into by the state that it was not a question of proof. I was, I realized, an atheist.

The problem is that after reading Dawkins book not that I don’t agree with him – I really like most of his arguments (well almost all). The problem is that even if proof could be found that proves the existence of a God beyond a shadow of a doubt – I still would not believe.

I would believe the proof. That he/she/it exists as much as my laptop, myself and my blog exists (albeit in different ways) but I would not “believe” in the sense of faith (would it still be called faith if we had proof?). It was not religion I was struggling against. It is not that I do not believe today, I have no need for faith and would not have any even if there were a God.

What comes after atheism?

The God Delusion

Yesterday I bought and began reading Richard Dawkins book The God Delusion – The book is a well written, good humored approach to the subject. He includes plenty of quotes throughout the book, an early one in the beginning is from Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: “when one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.”

So far I am very pleased with the book – it’s very nice to read a clear lucid argumentation on atheism. So I guess I will be posting more on this later.