excerpted from caro's journal: topic: tips for god

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2001_09_20:17: Advice For God

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God seems to be fresh out of ideas. Given the number of hits the supersaturated web sites are getting from search engines, there's a very good chance that he'll find these tips in the next few weeks. Then he can start implementing them and Infinite Justice will finally be achieved!

God seems to have thrown up his hands on the question of free will versus evil, and left the innocents to fend for ourselves. Worse yet, his apologists keep repeating the same tired and implausible justifications for his Neutrality Policy. To rouse him from his apathetic slumber, then, I supply these EZ tips for dealing with the problem.

It is said that god wants us to have free will and that this one overriding predilection of his requires that he allow one person to victimize another. For example, the reason that he didn't prevent the slaughter of 5500 innocent people at the World Trade Center and the bankruptcy and suffering of countless others, is that the perpetrators of the acts of violence have free will. Their free will is sacrosanct and inviolable, and not even god wants to go there.

But I submit that this Holy Conclusion shows an extreme failure of imagination and creativity on the part of the Omninscient One. Human beings have long known how rob each other of free will. Various methods can be used: drugs, lobotomy, brainwashing, etc. Despite our ability to so deprive each other of free will, we don't do it. Even those of us who are atheists, despite our lack of religious scruples, refuse to to it. Most of us have either an explicit or implicit principle that holds that we ourselves will be damaged if we engage in such acts of mind control.

Instead, we human beings find other methods of preventing known criminals and would-be criminals from hurting innocent human beings. For example, we jail known criminals to get them away from innocent people. In jail, the criminals retain their free will. They are free to think evil thoughts and plan evil deeds. They are simply prevented, physically, from involving innocents in their freely-laid plans. Where criminals appear to be incorrigible, we jail them forever. In other cases, where we believe the person to be insane, we confine and attempt to treat the illness--but most importantly we prevent the person from engaging in acts of violence that would result from their free will ruminations. It's a quite simple solution, and if we were omniscient, it would be a snap to eliminate all possibility of the perpetration of acts of violence, all without in the slightest infringing upon the person's freedom of will.

God might also use such a strategy, were he only able to think of it for himself. For example, suppose that when the hijacking nazis attempted to stab the first flight attendant, god turned his box cutter into a pat of butter. Boy, that would have put a crimp in their plans, eh, Your Holiness? And yet, the nazis would still hold their fate in their own hands! They'd be making their own choices, selecting evil over good, turning their eyes from your Just Light, fully believing that they were about to murder one person in order to enable themselves to murder thousands. And while the flight attendant and the passengers were beating the bloody crap out of him, risking their own eternal damnation for raising their hands against one man in order to save countless people, the nazi wouldn't necessarily have to know that the Blessed Barricade had intervened. He might use his free will to try to use his hands to beat or strangle the flight attendant; at that point, The Omnipotent One could make him lose his balance; he would go down freely and evilly plotting and physically swinging, to be sure, but he wouldn't be able to affect any other beings. He might use his free will to conclude that he'd somehow dropped his box cutter, calling himself an idiot for being so sloppy, as the passengers and crew brought justice upon him and restored their peaceful flight to order. Everyone's free will in tact, evil chosen by one, good chosen by 100, thousands saved. Neat, clean, miraculous, and highly righteous. Easy!

There's really no need, as you can see, for robbing human beings of their free will, not even the evil ones. Human beings could still be left free to do what it is that god gave us free will to do in the first place, which is choose him over the abyss. And they would continue to do that, despite the human consequences that would be visited upon them, just as they continue to to choose evil despite the fact that we jail them and retaliate against them. The only difference would be that no one who didn't deserve it would ever be killed, maimed, tortured, or otherwise beset.

I have to say, as an educator and a philosophical person, that it's quite astonishing that god never thought of this. It's an obvious solution. I'm sure that some of his apologists must have thought of it. But of course the job of the apologist is not to criticize but to put a good spin on foibles, so that the less thoughtful, less philosophically-minded people follow the pretty spinning distraction and can't think of other alternatives.

If I'm mistaken and this is actually all part of god's plan for us, it's a really pathetic one; perhaps he has no clue what is going on, because he lost his cable access. At the very least, we'll have to stop imagining that his motivation is to ensure that human beings can freely make their own choices, as we can see before us this elegant alternative.

Now, there is one possible response that god's apologists can make at this point. Jerry Falwell, one of the people who surely have already thought of the above solution, has publicly made this response. He said that gays, lesbians, sexual heterosexuals, and other other people that Falwell doesn't like, have visited this terror upon the United States. Let us put aside the question of whether god made the nazis hijack and crash the planes, thus robbing them of their free will. There still remains the troubling question of why god didn't have them bomb Studio 54 and the Gay Pride parades. Doing so would have made his message to us much more clear: "No more unapproved sex, you bad humans!" As it is, on this hypothesis, god chose to bomb buildings full of people of every sexual preference, belief system, national origin, and age, including infants, some of whom it is safe to assume were sexually abstinant. The only point that humanity can take away from such a fitful display of pique is that we can't do anything right, and that no matter how old we are or what we do, we're worthless drops of dung in His Omnibenevolent Eyes. It's really not very good P.R. Thus, I'm going to have to reject Falwell's explanation as a red herring dragged across the trail to draw our attention away from the fact that even after all eternity god still hasn't gotten his act together.

Next time, I'll have some tips for god on eliminating world hunger.