Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bullshit Pulpit: The Gospel of Godlessness

My roommate, Silver Garou, recently saw this salt stain where his car was parked when he was visiting his girlfriend:
He was kind enough to share with me, and now I want to share it with all of you. Now, everyone knows that A is for Atheism. Clearly, this is a sign from the Universe that he should keep on in his faithlessness and spread the gospel of godlessness. But there's a deeper meaning here, and that's what I want to explore today.

We begin with Douglas Gasking's proof that God does not exist. It is elegant in its simplicity, and it goes something like this: the impressiveness of an act is the product of both its inherent difficulty and the handicap to the actor; the creation of all existence is the most inherently difficult task imaginable; not existing is the greatest handicap imaginable; therefore, God (i.e. the most impressive actor imaginable) must have created all existence without existing himself. Otherwise, we're just not talking about God.

What's so amazingly powerful about this little bit of argumentation is that it succeeds where every other ontological argument fails: it explains how God could create all of existence, which is completely senseless when you consider that if God was around then he would have been all of existence. By positing God firmly outside existence (i.e. in the idea space of nonexistent entities), this ontological argument finally explains how stuff comes from nothing in a way that those science-challenged blatherskites can finally understand!

At this point, I think I should point out a key difference between Gasking's argument and all other ontological arguments, namely: Avicenna, Anselm, Plantinga, et al. have always sought to establish God's existence with their syllogistic gyrations. But they fail as a category for the simple reason that the existence of an entity cannot be positively established by argumentation alone. However, the impossibility of an entity's existence (and thus the necessity of its nonexistence) can be established by argumentation alone. To wit: from the definition of a square and the definition of a circle, we know that square circles cannot possibly exist, and thus we know that pro wrestling is fake. (As an aside, compare the commercial success of pro wrestling with that of religion, and then try to tell me with a straight face that the dim-witted mouth-breathers who believe in either of them aren't just plain retarded - and don't bother getting offended, because I didn't just make a slur; I mean that these people literally have a crippling mental disability.)

At any rate, Gasking's argument is not properly ontological, but rather the antidote to such foolishness. As a decoupler undoes the work of a coupler, Gasking's is a deontological argument. Since deontology also means duty-based ethics, we are therefore duty-bound to accept Gasking's argument by ethics, which is always the most important reason to do anything. We just have to buy it, no two ways about it, and anyone who says she doesn't buy it is lying to you and probably to herself as well because she hates God. Yeah, that's right: believing in God equals hating God. Furthermore, this argument applies with equal force to all possible gods (and even most of the impossible ones!), cancelling out all possible ontological arguments for those possible gods, forever, The End. You just can't argue with logic like this.

Perhaps the most elegant aspect of this whole scene, however, is that it also makes sense of the platitudinous deepities spouted by empty-headed theists. A "deepity," for those unfamiliar with the lingo, is Daniel Dennett's term for a profound-sounding statement with two interpretations: one of which is literally true but entirely trivial, the other of which would be profound if it were not manifestly false. Dennett's example is the statement, "Love is just a word," because of course the word "love" is just a word; but the referent of love is not a word, stupid. My favorite deepity is, "The only thing you can see is light," which sounds profound but is no more amazing than, "The only thing you can hear is sound." And so deepities like Karen Armstrong's "God is the God behind God" become obviously true when we replace the word "God" with what we really mean by it: a nonexistent entity, a nothing. Nothing is the nothing behind nothing. "God created all of existence" becomes the rather innocuous (and also scientifically supported) "Nothing created all of existence." "We're on a mission from God?" More like a mission from nothing! God is the source of morality? Oh, I get it now! Nothing is the source of morality - it all makes sense now!

And if a nonexistent entity could create all of existence, then of course it could also perform the comparatively trivial task of forming a salt stain to speak to an atheist. The message from God is clear as the salt crystals in which it is written: "I don't exist, so don't believe in me; and tell other people not to believe in me, too." So hop to it, folks! Go spread the gospel of godlessness!


Anonymous said...

Whatever. I fully submit to the "A" and worship it completely!

Sosry, still haven't remembered me own passyword.

Ebonmuse said...

I just love the A in the salt. Clearly, this is a sign from the all-powerful Nonexistent God that we must not believe in him! I hear and obey, O supreme one!

Jack Phillips said...

Screw Atheism, I'm going to create a separatist-quasi-religious-interpretation of this picture and claim it actually shows the divineness behind Nathaniel Hawthorne.

D said...

Dammit, I think Jack just won at commenting. But Jack, now you have to write a book called The Salted A and make it about a deist who's labelled an atheist by a culture who thinks that's bad because the protagonist doesn't subscribe to the fashionable relationship - I mean, religious - ideas of the day.