This is a story of something that happened before Roger left. I did not consider it significant enough at the time to record, but since Peter's, or I should say his persona as Priscilla Van's article, accusing the NatAlSec of attacking God, the subject now seems to have some significance.
The question of God became very prominent in the news, and Peter, as Priscilla Van, came under attack by the atheists, which was doubly ironic, because Peter does not believe in God, and the atheists hated the NatAlSec sweep as much a Peter did, since those who weren't socialists were mostly libertarians.
The Priscilla Van article was so widely known, it became an accepted truth that anyone who opposed the NatAlSed sweep was either Catholic or an "alien." It made the atheist libertarians wild, of course. It's the same kind of attitude faced by those who reject evolution as science and are therefore automatically labeled creationists, except they really don't care what they are labeled, unlike the libertarians.
At the time of the incident, there was not yet any NatAlSec or Priscilla Van column. It is the idea, or perhaps non-idea, of God the incident I'm about to relate is about.
The incident itself was a meeting Roger had with a former Christian evangelical preacher. Roger had invited me to the meeting, with the intention, I'm sure, that at some time I would record the substance of it, and, of course, that is what I am doing now.
Roger thought religion was important to his research since the majority of earth humans embraced some form of religion and it was an obvious source of many of the absurdities earth humans believe. It was to learn more about the Christian religion that Roger had invited the former preacher. His name was Stanley Fox, and he had been a very successful evangelist when he was one.
I'll not record every detail of that very long meeting, however, but will do my best to capture the substance of it.
Roger had just asked Stanley Fox why he was no longer a Christian and no longer believed in God.
"I almost wish there were a God," Stanley said. "Human consciousness is obviously not a physical attribute and just as obviously not caused by anything physical. It is unique in every way and seems to have no purpose but to make life, and everything else it is conscious of have meaning. Without the kind of consciousness humans have, nothing would have any meaning, not even the universe itself. What would it have meaning to?"
Roger seemed very impressed by this.
"Do you think, then, this observation that non-physical consciousness is the source of meaning is the reason most human beings on earth embrace some form of religion?" he asked the preacher.
"Oh, not at all. It would be a good sign if it were, but I'm afraid must people embrace religion because they are simply gullible. Every religion is mostly baseless assertions void of any evidence or reason and any rational person can see through them in a minute if they honestly think about it. The only exception is Christianity, or at least those varieties of Christianity that are based on the teachings of the Bible. One of the reasons I began to seriously doubt Christianity is the fact that so many versions of Christianity do not teach what the Bible teaches, and of those versions that claim to accept the teaching of the Bible, almost none of those Christians know what the Bible actually teaches and hold many views they consider Biblical truths which are in clear contradiction of the Bible.
"What I found was, Bible teaching was actually quite rational, if some of the fantastic and mystic passages are set aside, but that theologians had turned those rational teachings into something totally irrational.
"I finally realized there was not another Christian in the world that agreed with what the Bible actually taught, which made me realize, there was not another Christian in the world who agreed with me. I was shocked. If Christianity were true, I was the only Christian in the world.
"That made me re-examine everything. What I found first were obvious contradictions in the Bible itself. Then I found things in the Bible that contradicted clear reason. Finally I realized what was wrong with all religions is that they all make the relationship between moral values and reality have two different and contradictory objectives. There is the obvious practical objective that pertains to this world and the success and happiness of individuals in it, and there is the supernatural objective that is totally divorced from any consequences in this world, and those two objectives are contradictory.
"If it is wrong to kill another person, for example, then it is wrong. and would be wrong even of God said it wasn't wrong. In fact, the God of the Bible does just that, and it is one of the most damning contradictions in the Bible."
"Can you give me an example of such a contradiction?" Roger asked.
"You mean from the Bible?"
"Well, if that's where it is, yes," Roger said.
"There are many actually. Do you have a Bible?
Andrew retrieved one of the Bibles from the library, from which Mr. Fox read some of the passages where God commanded the slaughter of men, women, children, and animals. There are many such passages. That evening I recorded the passages that were read as: Numbers 15:3-4 and 25:3-4, I Samuel 15:2-3, II Samuel 12:31, Ezekiel 9:5-6 and some longer passages I did not record.
Roger was intrigued by these contradictions.
"How do people, those Christians who claim to believe the Bible, rectify these obvious contradictions?"
"They don't," Mr. Fox said. "There is plenty of rationalization, of course, but there is no attempt to deny them. There is this view that God's wisdom is above man's and man has no right to judge God."
"But Christians say that God is good, and loving. Do they not realize those are judgments? If they can judge that God is good, why can't they judge that God teaches contradictions?" Roger asked.
"Well there is no reason, but reason is not the basis of a Christian's belief in God. It is simply belief, without reason, without evidence, and without proof. They 'just know' there is a God, and believe to deny it means certain damnation."
"Oh yes, I know that one," Roger said. "They will go to a place of eternal torment and endless suffering when they die. And they really believe that, and also believe that a 'God,' that would make such a place, and actually send people there is good. No wonder the people on this planet have turned their planet into the very hell they believe in." Roger was quite incensed that people could actually believe such horrors.
Roger was not totally satisfied with the discussion, and made a point of what it was he was really trying to understand.
"Earlier you mentioned the fact the human consciousness is not explainable in terms of the physical, which is true enough, but you also denied that is the reason people believe in God. That, however, is the very thing I am trying to understand. A belief in God is not the only irrational belief, but it is one of the most common—almost universal. Why do you think a belief in God, or some other religious explanation for everything is prevalent?"
"I'm not sure I know the whole answer, Mr. Conant. I know why I believed in God, when I did. It was a ready answer for the reason there was life, an answer that explained why I was living and what I was living for, it was the explanation for the meaning of everything.
"Everything was created by God, for God, and everything has the nature it has because God created it. The obvious questions for me were, if there is no God, then why does everything exist, where did it come from, and what's the purpose of living? What is it all for, if there is no God?"
"But you no longer believe in God. How do you answer those questions now?" Roger asked.
"I don't answer them all, because some of the questions themselves are mistakes. I know the answer to the meaning questions. The purpose of my life is for me to live and enjoy it. There is no purpose outside of that. If there were, it would make me a slave, or a pet, or a puppet.
"By 'everything' I mean the universe, of course. Asking what purpose the universe has is a mistake. It has no purpose, it just is. Purposes assume someone capable of having purposes, someone alive, someone conscious, someone capable of learning, of thinking, and making choices. Only human beings have purposes. Inanimate matter, which the entire universe is except for the living beings in it, does not have a purpose. Even the irrational animals to not have purposes.
"It was not those things that made me disbelieve in God, however. It was the fact the very idea of God was a huge contradiction. The idea that any being could know everything is absurd, or that a being could have all power or be infinite in any way. Nothing can be infinite. One of the first thoughts that occurred to me is if God is infinite in time, everything He could possibly do, He must already have done since He would have existed eternally already. If he still had something to do, than He could not have lived eternally already, else he would already have done it. The thought is absurd, of course, because the premise is absurd. Nothing can already have lived forever. But any other view gives God a beginning, and then the question is obviously, 'who made God?'
"Every so-called attribute of God ends with the same absurd notion. Even the mistaken question I once considered so important: 'if there is no God, where did everything come from?' Again, it's the false premise, that everything had to have a beginning, which if true, would mean God had a beginning.
"Before any of those questions came to me, the one idea that led me to the conclusion that the very idea of God was an evil one, was the fact of moral values, which if true values, must be absolute. If moral values are absolute, they are principles that are eternally and universally true, and like all principles, must be discovered, not dictated. No one decides what principles are true, they are true because they are a correct description of some aspect of reality, and are true no matter whether anyone knows them and no matter what anyone decides.
"Why do most people believe in God? Most people want simple answers. They love the idea that some authority provides those answers. They love the idea that all they have to do is follow the dictated rules or conform to the dictated formula, and they are 'good' people and that no matter what they do, or whatever happens, 'all things work together for the good,' for them, an idea they cling to even when everything around them, including their own life, is a great horrible disaster.
"They fail to meet the requirement of their nature, to use their own minds to discover what is true and not true, what is right and wrong, and evade the fact, that everything they believe, everything they choose, and everything they do, they are responsible for, and no dictated set of rules and no God can relieve them of that responsibility.
"Not only Christianity, but every religion offers its adherents some formula, some secret key, some method of achieving what they believe is 'righteousness," that they will be eternally rewarded for. No religion can promise that for this life, of course, because it could never get away with it. That is why the promise is always for some future life."
"Of course," Roger wryly commented. "Put the promised prize where no one can ever check to see if the promise is actually kept. The perfect lie that can never be proved a lie."
There was much more discussion, but no other points were made. I have my own opinion of that evening's discussion, however, but you can skip it if you like, since it is only my opinion.
I was particularly impressed by two ideas, one at the beginning of the discussion, and one at the end. The one at the beginning was the statement by Stanley Fox, "I almost wish there were a God."
I'm not sure why Stanley "almost" wished there were a God, but I do know why I sometimes wish there were a God, or at least some future great day of reckoning.
It is not a desire I truly entertain, but enjoy as a kind of fantasy. I imagine a day when all those who have smeared the independent individualists of this world with accusations of the vilest motives and intentions would have to confess their lies before all of people of history, and above all, confess it was their own hatred of the best among men for being the best that was the reason for the evil they had inflicted on the world.
It is only a fantasy, of course, because, in truth, no independent individualist gives a pickle what anyone else knows or thinks about them, because they know what they are, and their own judgment is the only judgment that matters.
The idea at the end of Roger and Stanley's discussion that impressed me was Stanley's summation of why people believe in God.
"Most people want simple answers. They love the idea that some authority provides those answers. They love the idea that all they have to do is follow the dictated rules or conform to the dictated formula, and they are 'good' people and that no matter what they do, or whatever happens, 'all things work together for the good,' for them."
That impressed me, because it is another example of what Roger explained is wrong with all human beings on this planet, as I described in my article, "What's Wrong With The World?"
Roger said, "The essential act of evil is attempting to have what one has not earned and does not deserve by one's own merit. All temptation to evil comes from the desire to have more than one can have or achieve by their own effort. ... It is only on this planet that short-cuts to success, wealth, happiness, or anything else are believed in. It is only on this planet that it is believed knowledge is possible without the effort of study and objective reason. It is only on this planet it is believed virtue can be achieved by obeying someone else's rules or laws without understanding whether those rules or laws are correct principles or not. Only on this planet is it believed one is not obligated to discover if the rules they live by are right or not."
Obviously religion is just another, "short cut to virtue," or "righteousness" as the religious prefer, and "eternal reward" one cannot see. But there are no shortcuts, because virtue must be earned and it can only be earned by one's own effort.
The idea of a "God" is certainly used by the unscrupulous to exploit and control others, but those others, who are taken in by a belief in God, are not innocent, because their belief in God is their way evading the requirements of their own nature, which evasion is the root of all evil.