The Trouble With God
School Chaplain: Oh Lord. Ooh you are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh we’re all really impressed down here I can tell you. Forgive us, O Lord, for this our dreadful toadying. But you’re so strong and just so super. Amen. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life 1983, Chaplain to children
Hymn from Chaplain: O Lord please don’t burn us. Don’t grill or toast your flock. Don’t put us on the barbecue. Or simm our arse in stock. Don’t braise or bake or boil us. Or serve our arse in a rock. ibid.
Either God exists or God doesn’t exist.
‘Do the gods exist or do they not?’ posed Cicero. ‘There is a God,’ responded that twentieth-century rapier of philosophy Sarah Palin.
If God doesn’t exist, we rot in the ground, and worms and maggots eat our flesh and bore into the marrow of our bones. We fittingly provide fodder for further families of flowers and bees and dickies, and not forgetting of course jolly good grass.
If God exists, why bother? Why take an interest in God when God takes so rare an interest in us? We stagger home, we grab en passant another beer from the sideboard, we lean out the window, and release not only the beer but our bugbear: ‘Look, Lord. I intend to watch Network when I get around to it. But rest assured, I’m mad, and I’m not going to take this any more.’
That should get God quaking in Her boots, hey?
Why would God bother to be God? Why would God want to be God? Did God have a choice? asked Albert Einstein. Why would God not rest the hump part of the week in Her favourite armchair and huff-’n’-puff the stiffest, spiffiest trumpet? (not asked by Albert Einstein). The scientific burning-bush question is not whether Life exists elsewhere in the universe, but where in the universe can we unearth a planet blessed with weed more wickeder than the weed we’ve been allotted.
What’s God’s job description? What qualities does God need to be God?
JOB VACANCY: GOD
God required for seven billion people. Minimum wage exempted. Must have own transport. Psychopaths and sociopaths considered. Will involve some Sunday shifts. Experience of plagues and famine desirable. Main duties will include not answering prayers, dividing the sheep from the goats and non-executive director on Spurs board. Pension scheme available. Heaven Inc is an equal opportunities employer.
We quietly dissemble and back-engineer God to find what traitorous and other admirable traits for the job does your fascist sociopathic intergalactic empire-building mass-murderer need to qualify as God.
‘You couldn’t meet a nicer bloke than God.
He really is a thoroughly good guy.
He doesn’t ever ring you
When you are in the bath,
And if your haircut’s lousy
He never ever laughs.’ Spitting Image s2e2, Conservative Party at prayer
How might we tell the difference between God and a fascist intergalactic empire-builder?
‘Who are you carrying all those bricks for anyway? God? Is that it? God? Well I’ll tell ya. Let me give you a little inside information. He’s laughing his sick fucking ass off. He’s a tight-ass. He’s a sadist.’ The Devil’s Advocate, Al Pacino as Satan
How to tell the difference between God and a fascist intergalactic empire-builder is a material question as the God of the scriptures shows little sign of being God and every sign of being a fascist intergalactic empire-builder.
‘There can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven.’ Robert G Ingersoll
A slurry of souls are so flushed to believe in God, it doesn’t make a pull-chain of difference how fascist and fickle their God threatens to be.
‘I can’t believe that God created parasites in order to torture small children.’ David Attenborough
Epicurus sets the job-test for any fancy-dan-space-suited-johnny out there fancying a stab at 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?’
Picture a slime-green alien landing a small space-craft on the lawn of the White House. ‘I am God,’ squawks the slime-green alien in pigeon English, green veins bulging Her thick neck and bobbing Her Adam’s Apple. Are you a believer? What should be the proper level of proof? More than just a few party tricks? An open-palmed exposition pulls the first rabbit from the hat.
‘God doesn’t exist. So I guess nobody loves you.’ Author Unknown
Does it matter what God looks like? A snake-God tends to shed skin on the red carpet. A good hat, a God who doesn’t wear flared trousers with sandals, and a God who doesn’t dribble green slime at award ceremonies are admirable traits for the top job.
‘Q: You’re dead. This is the afterlife. And I’m God.’
‘Picard: ‘You are not God!’ Star Trek: The Next Generation: Tapestry s6e15
A vox populi survey of readers might reveal the required qualities of a God and democratically compile God’s Job Description. What percentage of readers would prefer God to be perfect? Perhaps we should hesitate on humanitarian grounds before forcing God to be perfect. We recall the faults bedevilling the Greek gods, and the mad killing sprees beloved by the God of the Hebrew Bible.
‘I am in contact, in communication, with those at the highest levels of Creation who are passing on this information ... with the Being we call the Godhead, certainly.’ David Icke, televised interview
God forbid we give up the ghost and allow God to escape blame-free to a spiritual sanctuary with no street-law of right and wrong, and claim God-given immunity against the war-crimes, and the mass slaughters and the plagues and the famines and the hunger for sacrificial animal blood: ‘If God says something is right that isn’t right, God’s wrong.’ Professor Colin McGinn
All right, let’s cut God some rope and say God needs to be reasonably (the standard of English law) good, and reasonably have our interests at heart, and God has a reasonable explanation of why we’ve been dumped on a lonesome and dreary planet three-quarters the way across the universe.
‘God has blessed us so much I can’t afford to feed you any more.’ Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life 1983, Catholic father to children
But burdening God with the need to be reasonably good may be building the gallows a bit high.
‘When it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I really really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God who created each of us in His own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that. But I got to tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realise something is fucked up. Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption ... Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong in the résumé of a supreme being. This is the kind of shit you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. Just between you and me, between you and me, in any decently run universe this guy would have been out on His all-powerful arse a long time ago ... I firmly believe if there is a God it has to be a man. No woman could or would ever fuck things up like this. So, if there is a God, if there is, I think most reasonable people might agree that He is at least incompetent. And maybe, just maybe, He doesn’t give a shit, doesn’t give a shit, which I admire in a person, and would explain a lot of these bad results.’ George Carlin, Religion is Bullshit
The best prize we can hang around God’s neck is maybe God was good at some point around the time of the Big Bang, maybe God had our interests at heart once, and maybe once God thought about doing some good God stuff. Our God isn’t much up to snuff. Which positions snugly with my doctorate theory that God on the Elysian Fields of Mount Olympus (White Hart Lane) must have played left-back for the Spurs.
We anthropomorphise God supine on a plump cloud and sporting an enormous snow-white beard which She strokes every time we covet our neighbour’s ass: ‘All your Western theologies, the whole mythology of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent.’ Tennessee Williams