Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bullshit Pulpit: The Boss of Bosses

I'm starting to come under the impression that the cornerstone of certain religious minds is a very warped view of authority. I wasn't sure how to talk about that. Then I tried to get creative and this happened.

This story is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real persons, places, or events, is simply a product of your imagination.

In the beginning, there was nothing. But before that, there was the Maker. And before that, there was the Word. Before that, there wasn't anything; now stop asking stupid questions. And from the Word was born the Maker, because the Word said so, and that's that.

And the Word told the Maker what to do, and the Maker did not like that, so the Maker made Authority and took it. Then the Maker told the Word to be silenced, and lo, it was. The Maker then set about a great Making, the likes of which are beyond words alone to describe. Seriously, you would need years of specialized mathematical and scientific training to truly understand just how complicated the world is, let alone all that has been discovered about how it works.

But before all that, the Maker made itself, for after such a Making it wanted to play around.

And so the Maker made the World, and gave to it Complexity. And lo, the Complexity manifested itself in many ways, but all based upon the Number, which is way better than a silly old Word, anyway. And the Maker made the world such that from its Nature was born physics, and from physics did the atom arise, and upon the atom is the chemistry founded; and from chemistry did the protein arise, and upon the protein is the biology founded. And to make a very long story short enough for an ape to understand, from All That There Was eventually proceeded Life as You Know It. But the Maker was not paying attention to very much of this, for it was mainly concerned with making life into the image it had created for itself.

After a whole lot of conditions were just thus-and-so in just the right spot, the Maker cooked up an enormous pot of primordial soup, big as your planet. It took a few tries, but eventually an ecosystem emerged. And the Maker made catastrophe after catastrophe, shaping and selecting for this and that way of being alive, until after a whole lot of trial and error and evolution and sex, there arose Humanity which the Maker had made in its own image.

And the Maker made them man and woman, after finding out that shuffling the genes about is good for you and figuring out better and better ways to do that thing. Like the other apes from which they came, and the Maker before them, the men tended to crave Authority. And also like the apes before them, the women tended to fall for the idea that Authority is a real thing and not made up. Big winners all around, those apes. Well, the bonobos might be doing it right.

Next, the Maker wanted to tell Humanity what to do. And here the Word was able to take its revenge.

The Maker set about telling Humanity how to live; Humanity were curious and asked a lot of questions. When the Maker tired of answering or did not know, it told Humanity, "Because I said so, and I have the Authority." And then the Maker pointed at its Authority, which it had placed between its legs for easy access. "And my Authority's the biggest of all, so you have to listen, because that's what Authority means."

And so the men were intimidated, for their authorities were no match for the Maker's; and the women lost interest and went about their lives raising children and tending the home, I guess because they felt like getting things done. And so the Maker told Humanity of all the World, and behold, Humanity took poor notes indeed. And even at the start, the Word did play tricks in the World, and did confuse Humanity even as it shaped and increased their understanding.

Men eventually conspired to work together so that their Authorities might match that of the Maker. Women were not unanimously opposed to this goal, and for failure to band together as the men had, they got steamrolled. When the Maker caught wise of this plan, it drove Humanity apart and sowed discord among them, telling each small group that they were better than all the other groups.

And lo, to each of these groups the Maker did tell a different but similar story. You see, the Maker is rather uncreative and has a poor memory; it just so happens that the World is such that difference and variety arise on their own. And the Maker did make rules and tell them to Humanity, and some of them were sensible, and some of them were not. Some of them were passed down through the generations rather faithfully, even if only a few of them did any good.

But all the rules were told in sounds and letters. And here the Word was able to increase the revenge it had wrought thus far.

From the words of the Maker did proceed the Law, and Humanity were quick to question it. For this Humanity were punished by the Maker, who sought not Humanity's understanding, but merely their obedience. And the Maker saw to it that its Authority was recognized wheresoever it went, for whosoever did not properly genuflect before the Maker's Authority was punished. This was partly from sadism, partly to make an example, and partly just to keep Humanity in line. It was all based on Authority, which the Maker had made from nothing.

The Maker went from group to group, and each group of people thought that they were the Maker's favorite, and in every group there arose a cult of Authority. Behold, there was War, for each group came to think that they alone served the Maker, and all others worshipped a false Authority. None of them could see that all Authority is meaningless bluster and bravado.

Humanity fought to see whose idea of Authority would win out. How they came under the impression that a conflict of ideas could be resolved by violence is a matter for speculation, but the Maker saw all this strife, and it tried many times to bring Humanity back together under its own original Authority. Every time, Humanity would change, or question, or do as they pleased, and a great anger came upon the Maker, for it could not understand why Humanity was not content to simply obey Authority and do nothing else.

Eventually, the Maker grew weary of all this nonsense, and changed its mind. The Maker tried to live among Humanity, to be as a person is, and so the Maker discovered that humans are as complicated as the World from which they were made. The Maker sought to end all strife and settle all grudges, but failed as any ordinary human might. This frustrated the Maker, who found that it simply could not convince Humanity to behave themselves. Humanity then turned on the Maker, and so it came to pass that the Maker was unmade.

Now there was no Maker, and no Authority; only Humanity and the Word in the World.

With the Maker gone, and its Authority with it, Humanity sought to establish a new Authority upon which to build a new Law. Humanity worked with the Word, and sought to understand it, but there was a problem.

Humans, for some reason, insist upon asserting that they have the Maker's Authority. Whether by invoking the Word, or by insisting that their tradition is more faithful to the Maker than their neighbor's tradition, or by violence, Humanity has continuously failed to understand Authority.

Authority was invented by the Maker. It means nothing, for it is but a word, which comes from the Word. The Word came of its own, and has changed in some ways and stayed the same in others, much as persons change in some ways and stay the same in others throughout their existence. Only by this change may improvement be made, and this will mean correcting the Old and embracing the New, until once more the New becomes the Old and must be corrected and discarded.

Every person has its own Authority, no matter that person's shape, size, or flavor; and this Authority, too, is meaningless. It matters not what one person thinks or says of its Authority, nor what others think or say about the Authority of any other, for Authority has always been made of nothing. There is only the Word and the World for Humanity to understand, for by the World comes understanding of All That There Is, and the Word is the only way that such vastness may be known.

Know that the vastness of the World shall always escape the Word, for the Word is only in your head, while the World is everything and everywhere at all times. The only way to know whether there is any authority in any word is to check the World, and only then may you begin to close the gap between the Word and the World. Know also that to do this well, you must set aside your own Authority, lest you be unable to look past it.

Now Humanity stands to do a great Making of their own, for they have seen much of the World and have increased their understanding of its mechanisms. Yet even as Humanity stands to make new minds and new bodies from metal and sand and petroleum, they still have not moved past the myth of Authority.

Humanity's greatest moral mistake was thinking that the Maker was entitled to Authority simply by virtue of being the Maker. Humanity's greatest failure of reason was believing that to accept Authority unquestioned was rational. And so the cults of Authority have grown, and spread, and changed, yet the myth of Authority remains as silly as it ever was. The Maker was born only by conceit of the Word, and the lie that Authority comes from Making has plagued Humanity since before the oldest writings.

The World, so the Maker said, runs on the Maker's Authority. If you do not assent to this, the Maker's followers insist, then you do not understand the Maker's Authority. For some reason, people seem to think that all they must do is to follow behind the proper Authority, and then everything will work out just fine. This is the lie of Authority: follow the leader and you shall prosper.

When you do as Authority asks, you put your head down and get behind the Authority, and you follow wheresoever it leads. If you attempt to lift your head, to ask a question, to look past Authority and see for yourself, you will be told that you are guilty of doubt. You will be told that you are too prideful. You will be told that you are ungrateful for where Authority has led you so far. Know that this is the insecurity of Authority, for Authority is puffiness, it is all form and no substance. Authority needs your obedience to have any effect at all. Follow if you like, but look past Authority and know to what ends you are going, and do the hard work of sorting out whether it is a good or a bad end, independent of all questions of Authority.

Be wary of any person who tells you that all your problems can be solved if you only get behind an Authority and put your head down. Be especially wary of any person who tells you that you cannot know the Authority yourself, and that that person must intercede on your behalf.

There is no Authority. There is only Truth, and Truth can only be known by looking at the World with eyes that see Authority for the lie that it is. Humanity's understanding of Truth may never be complete, but Authority destroys Humanity's capacity to understand Truth by convincing them that Authority is the same as Truth. Whosoever claims to have Truth, but is unable to demonstrate it, is a victim of the myth of Authority. And so long as that person is more loyal to Authority than it is to understanding reality, you will be unable to increase its understanding directly, and must chip away at the edifice of Authority that the person has constructed in its heart.

It is a difficult matter to tear down a temple of Authority, but once that is done, Truth may be pursued. Truth needs no temple. Truth needs no Authority. Truth simply is what it is, it cannot be angered, it cannot be changed, it cannot be insulted, it cannot be avoided, and it cannot be harmed. The only interaction a person may have with Truth is to move towards it, or to move away from it. Truth cannot be wielded as a weapon, as Authority often is in its confused ignorance.

If you must seek to be different than you are, then do not seek to be like vain Authority; seek instead to be like imperturbable Truth, which makes no demands and demands no genuflection, but is secure in itself. The World was not made for you, and cannot be made to respect any idea of Authority - sweet as it tastes, Authority is poison. Truth, on the other hand, may be uncomfortable and alienating at first, but as you move towards it you shall see the freedom of being unbound by mythical Authority. And as you move towards the Truth, you shall be free even of your own desire for Authority.


Silver Garou said...

This is a nice take on the bible that accounts for the reality we see much better than the actual myths, but I don't really see who this is supposed to speak to.

Theists, I would wager, would just see this as an insult to their beliefs that is simply untrue and will continue to submit themselves to authority over reason.

I still enjoyed it, I just don't think it will do anything but entertain a few frustrated atheists.

D said...

Ha ha, glad you liked it! And fortunately for my intentions, you're the target audience (the "royal you," as opposed to "theists"). It's just supposed to be a slightly silly way of looking at "cults of Authority." But yeah, ideas of "Authority" are everywhere in religion, and I think that's what gives it such pull in people's minds: they think Authority is real, but it's not.

In other words, this is the literary equivalent of interpretive dance.