You’re So Special (Not)

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.

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4 Responses to You’re So Special (Not)

  1. Max says:

    You try to believe in God on alternate Thursdays? Brilliant. A bit like Meat-free mondays (Theological Thursdays perhaps?).

  2. David Harris says:

    “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.”

    “If God plays favorites, then he’s not God.”

    Respectfully, I will comment. According to this blog, someone else’s view is “arrogant and egotistical.” Yet, you apparently consider yourself to be in a position to assess what God is and isn’t – and what he should and shouldn’t do. This seems a contradiction to me. You strike me as quite brilliant (seriously), so I’m surprised by the contradiction.

    On a different subject, I fondly remember reading your articles in Keyboard magazine. Each month, they were what I anticipated most. Thank you for countless articles of expertly written information and inspiration.

    • midiguru says:

      I appreciate the sincere compliment, and I’ll attempt to address your comment without being snotty. I don’t think I’m anybody special. Certainly no better the rest of the human race — smarter and kinder than some people, I’m sure, but neither as smart nor as kind as others. However, I do claim, as a philosophical principle, that I’m entitled to an opinion on the subject of what “God” is and isn’t. Or rather, since the entire idea of “God” is silly and vacuous, I’m certainly as entitled as anybody else to have opinions about the various ideas people set forth concerning “God.” Including Malcolm Muggeridge’s ideas. I’m entitled to evaluate those, certainly.

      Am I in a position to assess what “God” (assuming there is such an entity) should and shouldn’t do? Yes, I am. I am in that position by virtue of being a conscious being. If “God” didn’t want his creatures to have opinions about his actions, He ought to have known better than to give his creatures consciousness. I’m not real impressed by the number of Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis, for example. Nor am I real impressed by the Popes butchering all of those heretics, which various Popes did, some with more enthusiasm than others, for centuries. If there were a God, and if God had had a hand in the authorship of the Bible, then upon watching the antics of the Popes, I would certainly hope that God would smack himself in the forehead and cry, “Damn! I didn’t do a very good job of explaining that, did I? Time for a rewrite.” But of course there has been no rewrite (unless you count the Book of Mormon, and there’s no need to get into that). Why? Because there was never an Author to begin with.

      If I were to believe in some particular deity, or in any deity at all (using, I suppose, the conventional understanding of the term “believe in”), I can assure you that it wouldn’t be a deity who created the human race and then scampered off to hide somewhere, refusing either to reveal Himself or to give us a scintilla of guidance as to what He does or does not prefer in the way of human behavior.

      I take it as beyond dispute that the Christian Bible is not worth discussing in the context of moral guidance. It’s full of bizarre shit, such as the idea that God wants us to wring the necks of pigeons and sprinkle the blood around His altar. (It’s in Leviticus — you can look it up.) If some particular deity did indeed dictate the contents of the Bible, I would never be moved to show that deity a dandruff flake’s worth of respect. On the other hand, if there is a God but the Bible is entirely a human creation, full of primitive savagery and misunderstandings (and of course that’s precisely what it is), then we’re back to the point I made just above: If there is a God, He has gone into hiding, and hasn’t told us jack shit about how He wants us to conduct our lives.

      But this is really a separate subject. All I was doing in my original blog entry was taking apart Muggeridge’s notion (which I’m pretty sure is commonly held by a lot of Christians) that we’re something special, that “God” created the universe for our exclusive benefit. Muggeridge has, in any case, not a shred of evidence to support this idea, because nobody has a shred of evidence about ANYTHING to do with “God.”

      If you feel otherwise, I invite you to show us your evidence. If you have any, I’ll be more than happy to change my opinion. That’s how science works — when fresh evidence appears, a scientist alters his or her understanding of the world to fit the new evidence into the picture. Faith works quite differently. People of faith stubbornly refuse to change their world views, no matter how compelling the evidence may be that their views are wrong and even hurtful. That’s why so many people still refuse to accept the reality of evolution, to give one obvious example. The evidence is overwhelming, but people of faith shut their eyes and refuse to see it.

      Faith is really very tiresome, in my opinion. You can’t argue with it. It just lies there in the road like a dead dog.

      Sorry — I guess I ended up being snotty after all. You caught me on a bad day.

  3. David Harris says:

    And while I’m thrilled to have found your site, my discovery comes at the end of a busy week (and I’m tired!). Sorry to hear you’ve had a bad day, as well.

    You make your points clearly and with the same precision I remember from your articles.

    I certainly acknowledge everyone’s right to their own perspectives and opinions. I was simply struck by your adverse label of someone else’s motive for their view while presenting your own as the logical and rational truth. It appears you’re now clarifying it as your opinion. I defend your right to express your views and will consider.

    To switch subjects again, I just listened to a few audio snippets on your audio page. Bravo! In all the years of enjoying your articles, I don’t recall hearing your music. You’re as musically creative as I imagined you to be while reading those articles.

    I was always struck by your knowledge of electronics and synthesizers while remaining active with the cello. Again, bravo! What a stirring combination!

    Please don’t take any of my comments this evening as negative. I’m quite pleased to interact with you at all. You have truly been a catalyst both musically and creatively. Thank you, sir!

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