My last post was about loosing faith in “fate,” an idea I left undefined. It wasn’t a bearded sky god, passing judgement. But more like an intuitive, uninformed impression of the “Higher Power” of AA. Some sort of thing larger than myself. An idea that things would be ok in the long run. That’s all crap.
Ok, obviously all of humanity is larger than myself. And the movement of chance and the actions of others are all out of my control, which is part of the idea I had. So the idea of serenity is still valid. But other ideas are impacted.
Let’s imagine a metaphorical compass. The red side of the needle points at moral actions. You’re walking through the woods of life and are trying to follow the compass direction, but taking into account local circumstances, including things like cliffs, trees in the way, streams, etc. And the terrain itself has a lot of magnetic rock, which makes the needle direction really unclear sometimes. But there is, out there, a set of right actions, which are handed down from someplace outside of ourselves. But that view of morality is crap.
Foes of prop 8 angrily insist that we can’t put people’s rights up for a vote. But, in effect, that’s all we ever do regarding people’s rights. People have rights because we’ve all agreed they do. Because of our human emotions and logic and ideas like the golden rule. Actions aren’t moral or immoral because they adhere to some imaginary Platonic form, but because the people involved all pretty much agree on the action. One person leaving a comment on my last post called this “freeing.” There’s not one way to be good.
But, still, more questions. A lot of morality and especially the application of justice is configured such that “crimes” are what poor people can do to rich people. And morally-neutral actions are what rich people can do to poor people. This is crap. Are poor people less human?
Also, what the hell does humanness matter? If we’re not created in god’s image, what makes us better than battery chickens in cages laying eggs all day, unable to move with their beaks torn off? Aside from us having all the power and them having none?
All morality seems deeply vested in power relations. Deists think something is good because God demands it and he’s got more power than us. Atheists think something is good because they want to preserve their position in life and understand this relies on mutual cooperation. The golden rule isn’t just a good idea because it helps use empathy to figure out right actions, it is also the test condition and justification for right actions. And we can’t imagine being chickens, and there’s no danger of being reincarnated as one because none of that actually exists, so who cares about them? And in these circles of “us” and “them” and powers to enforce, we decide right and wrong. Can we see ourselves in an out group? Then they’re in. Otherwise, they stay out.
Which is what it’s been all along. And knowing that might be freeing because we’re free to negotiate our relationships with others however the people in them want. And we take whatever life has handed us and try our best with it. Or not. And it won’t turn out fine in the long run. In the long run, we’re dead. And either other people stop caring or it all becomes somebody else’s problem. And they might not solve it either.
So let’s say you wanted to have faith because somebody told you it was a good idea. You want to put it somewhere. Where? You can’t put it in god, because he doesn’t exist. You can’t put it in a happy future because that doesn’t exist either. You can’t put in humanity because they could very easily decide that ‘personhood’ no longer applies to queers or some other group you think it should. You could put in your friends, but in the short term, they might not be up to it. In the long term, one by one, they’ll die or leave and then, you die. Despite that, you could have it in yourself, which would be a nice heartwarming thing to do, but what is that but the idea of fate and happier future? That’s crap. So fuck faith. Drown your faith like an unwanted kitten.
I don’t know if it’s freeing, but I can live with it. What choice do I have?
I do feel better, though.

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Charles Céleste Hutchins

Supercolliding since 2003

One thought on “Faithless”

  1. I am hearing a lot of what’s the point because then we’ll be dead. well of course. but right up the the point we are dead, we’re alive. that part is worth caring about. faith has always been unscientific. but connecting with other human beings is real enough


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