God Is No Excuse
By Liam Fox
We are all born, and we have no choice in that. We have no choice as to the situation we are born into, good or bad. We have no responsibility for negative hardships that exist at the time of our birth anymore than we can take credit for any inherent advantages. We come into this world blind, ignorant and incompetent and we learn about our environment, the limitations and the potentialities as we develop. Each one of us share this experience. In fact, this is one of the few universal things that we all share equally. We are born, we share the vulnerabilities as humans to illness, pain, hunger, violence and suffering, and then we die. These are facts. This is the situation that all of us share. These are the things we have in common that none of us can escape. These are the things that none of us can exercise any substantive control over. We are born, we are vulnerable and then we die.
At any given instant, a snap-shot may be taken of our planet, and regardless of when that snap-shot is taken, the result would be the same. We would see a population of people who all share these same basic conditions of existence struggling to survive. All having arrived on this planet within the past several decades and all equally irresponsible for the condition they found it in. All of us are struggling to survive, but many are working diligently to capitalize on the discovered and created inequalities that sentence the vast majority of our fellow humans to incredible poverty, leaving a minority to live in comfort, and a fraction of a percent to wallow in absolutely perverse wealth.
Belief in divine intervention, or supernatural orchestration, only reinforces these inherited, institutionalized inequalities. Divine reasons are attributed to situations that provide benefit to those who have discovered the divine reasons. To give credit to a god for what has been attained, achieved or exploited removes responsibility from the beneficiary for becoming a ‘have’ at the expense of the ‘have-not’s’. People believe that they are blessed because a god has blessed them. This sounds selfless, to not take credit for personal achievement or acquisition. It sounds downright humble and pious. However, what it really does is free a person from the guilt of exploitation at another’s expense. If all blessings come from a creator or master conductor, it stands to reason that those not blessed, are so by the will and purpose of the same divine being, or supernatural power.
To believe that there is a divine power in charge is to believe that the impoverished, the suffering, the hungry etc… are such by divine decree, if not allowance. Somehow, and in some way, if one is deserving and worthy of blessing, the un-blessed must have deserved their lot as well. We saw and heard examples of this in the callous, dispassionate and selfish pronouncements from religious leaders following the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. Even if you discount them for their ignorance and believe that blessings rain equally on the just as they do the unjust, it’s still the supreme being in ultimate control of the ‘raining’ and the allowing of a huge majority of humans to be rained on by a merciless shit-storm of poverty, hunger and oppression.
To claim an intelligent design or divine orchestration of this world, is to escape personal responsibility by making the suffering of our fellow humans the province of an invisible supreme being. It’s very convenient. We declare it ‘horribly unfortunate’ for these destitute and suffering people and we offer them our prayers in lieu of equality. We send money, but never enough and always too late, and we never address the fundamental systemic issues that cause and perpetuate the suffering and inequality. We decide that the status quo is unchangeable and accept it as ‘just the way things are’. We tell ourselves there is nothing we can do about it. We work hard to convince ourselves that it is not only easier, but much wiser, to leave it in the hands of an unseen, unproven and unknowable god.
Believers in divine provenance seem conveniently able to ignore the exploitation, cruelty and oppression necessary to create the favored position they found themselves in by accident of birth. Others, unfettered by compunctions about exploitation and capitalization, increase their lot at the expense of others, and once again, reason that since they were able to, it must have been allowed by a supreme being and therefore is sanctioned by that supreme being. It is a wonderful mind-set that provides freedom from responsibility and gives divine permission to personal, gender, ideological, theological, ethnic and national exceptionalism and the subsequent exploitation and capitalization required to maintain that favored position of consumption and excess. Further, it is reasoned, that to share equally with our fellow humans in need, is to disrespect the gift of favored status and divine supremacy bestowed by said supreme being. It is by grand design that the favored children wallow in luxury while millions die, every day, lacking the basic necessities. This is considered glorifying to many gods, as long as public displays are made, giving the god credit for the excess.
Religions that believe in omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent gods or supreme beings, provide the supreme excuse to exploit, and accept as divine intervention, the fruits of past and current greed and lust. Religion is a barrier to human cooperation and shared prosperity. As humans, we are all in this together. We are equal. We share the fundamental experiences of birth, human frailty and death. We need to recognize this shared responsibility for all of our needs and challenges as well as our potential and achievable successes. The only way to ensure the safe, secure and mutually prosperous sustainable development for any of us, is to work towards it for all human beings. No more excuses, tricks or confidence schemes. We are the only answer.
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