I have a Facebook friend who is a sincere and very loving Christian. He likes to post inspirational messages. If perchance he posts something I can agree with, I make a point of telling him so. I would never get into a religious wrangle with him, because he’s too nice a person.
Today he posted this quote from Malcolm Muggeridge: “Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.” I suggested, mildly enough, that I thought this was a bit self-aggrandizing — a bit lacking in humility. To my surprise, he and one of his friends defended the point that Muggeridge was making.
After meditating on it for a few minutes, I’ve decided that this is one of the defining flaws of Christianity. Certainly not the only flaw, but a more important one than I had heretofore considered.
It would appear that many Christians sincerely believe that the entire Universe is about us — about you and me and the rest of the human crew. There’s God, who created the whole thing, and we humans are his super-duper special creation, with whom he is uniquely concerned. The rest of the Universe exists solely as a backdrop for the giant morality play that unfolds here among us. God’s primary concern, in all of Creation, is to guide us in making the moral choices of which he approves. Everything else is of secondary concern, at most.
I think that sums up Muggeridge’s view. Entire galaxies, spinning in the heavens, exist not in their own right but solely and entirely as illustrations for our benefit of God’s infinite power or sense of beauty.
On alternate Thursday afternoons, from 2:00 to 4:00, I have a stab at believing in God. One of the things I’ve concluded is that if there is such an entity (a proposition that I consider very unlikely), God plays no favorites. I am no more important to God than a sparrow or the three-inch-tall oak sapling that has recently sprouted in my front yard. And I am certainly no more important than an entire galaxy with hundreds of millions of stars in it. Quite probably less important, if God weighs things and puts them in order from most to least important.
The idea that the true order and structure of the Universe is God first, then humanity, and then a backdrop containing the natural world bringing up the rear — that idea is boundlessly arrogant and egotistical. It’s also, if you believe in morality at all, a profound and disgusting moral error.
I believe it was Jesus who said something like, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, so ye have done it unto me.” I’m probably misquoting, but I think I remember that being in the book somewhere. And insofar as we can give any credence to anything in the book (personally, I give it not even a shred of credence, not even on Thursdays between 2:00 and 4:00), I think we have to understand that by “the least of these,” Jesus wasn’t just talking about children and the poor. He was talking about earthworms and sand fleas. If he had known about bacteria, he would probably have meant it to include bacteria.
If God plays favorites, then he’s not God. He’s some kind of monster, and should be shunned by anyone who has a shred of moral feeling. I don’t know a lot about theology (a college-level subject that, as far as I can see, has no subject matter whatever, since it’s devoted to the study of something that doesn’t exist), but I’m pretty sure I’ve stumbled into a bit of sound theological reasoning here.