<<  August 4, 2014
Highlighting the necessity of violence raises troubling questions. Like: How can one rationalize bringing life into, let alone worshiping the maker of, such a fundamentally cruel world? I don't know that either is possible for anything other than hedonistic reasons.

As a matter of logical necessity, a single omnipotent deity cannot be any less responsible for one's misfortunes than for one's blessings. Restricting the agency of divine choice to any set of people does not distinguish them in holiness, but limits one's conception of the Almighty.

Whatever the pretensions of their faith, most people do not subscribe to monotheism. Crediting divine providence for one's gains while attributing one's losses to the devil or free will or some other causative agent outside God's control exemplifies at most monolatry, the worship of one deity among many. ("You shall have no other gods before me" does not rule out the existence of other gods, for example.)

In fairness to monolaters everywhere, I don't know if monotheism is truly possible—or even desirable. A true monotheist, at least of the philotheistic variety, would respect the divinity of all living beings, including those who would do them harm. Those followers who do not perish at the hands of their enemies would succumb to starvation from inability to eat life harvested for consumption, even fruit. A true monotheist would behold the House of God as both maternity hospital and slaughterhouse, through which souls enter and leave this world.

The realization that existence inflicts unseen harm on others belies the notion of original sin. Though primarily a Christian doctrine, the concept finds earlier expression in Psalm 51. To fault any group of people for original sin is to reject the right of those people to live. And to single out an ethnic group for a sin one ignores in others is to engage in racial profiling. Neither of these practices is consistent with the principle of humanism.

If we are to coexist peacefully on this small, fragile world, then we must recognize each person's death at the hands of another as a profound moral tragedy, regardless of nationality (or lack thereof). Our survival demands no less.

We can improve life for ourselves and others—and I hope we continue to do so, in spite of my cynicism—but the more we insulate ourselves from the horrendousness of reality, the more shock we feel upon its inevitable revelation.

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