Thursday, October 13, 2011

STUFF I THINK ABOUT! The Clockwork God

deism [dee-iz-uhm]
1. belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation. (distinguished from theism).
2. belief in a God who created the world or the Universe but has since remained indifferent to it.

Time to get a little heavy, but I hope I can entertain you with an explanation for my current belief. From childhood to about the age of twelve, I was a Christian. After finally reading the Bible and attending church, the seed of doubt was sewn after I was encouraged by an educator to question and even disprove a story from the Bible. His intention was probably to inspire us to question the validity of the entire King James Bible, but not our religious beliefs. Unintentionally, he set me on the path of all intellectuals who come to my conclusion. I had never experience a Revelation or felt as if God had directly interacted with me (as some people believe he speaks to them). By the time I started high school, I found that upon logical analysis, that the processes described by Christianity that created the Universe and other dogma, from angels to Hell, to the Devil to Jesus, and so on. The straw that broke the camel's back was a combination of the fact that so many people in the world are not Christian and, a rather disturbing belief shared by many Christians, that non-Christians are doomed to Hell. The idea that a perfectly righteous and humble person would be sent to Hell for merely being Buddhist or Hindi or Islamic. This simple idea and my own frustrations were enough to set me on the path of flip flopping between Atheism and Agnosticism.

Eh, close enough?
Today I am a diest. I believe in one God, karma, the human soul, and the afterlife but I also believe that the Universe is incredibly old, incredibly vast and Natural Laws dictate the way the Universe has formed and operates. I do not believe in Jesus or other supernatural beings or presume to know anything about the afterlife, prayer, churches, or that God punishes/rewards anyone in this life. It is important to know that, while I believe in these things, I don't begrudge anyone their own beliefs. My general philosophy, on morality, is do no harm unto yourself or others, unless to prevent the harm of yourself or others. I believe that the human purpose is to progress and spread throughout the Universe.

An important part of being a diest is that you believe in science and a compassionate, but hands-off God.

The hands-off God sets diests apart from other monotheists. The best analogy for the hands-off god is The Clockwork God. A diest believes that, much like a clockmaker making a clock, God set up all the natural laws and components of the Universe to be logical and then started the Universe. From that moment, he has just watched as the Universe swelled from a few simple bits of matter and energy into a seemingly infinite Universe, much like you might watch the gears and listen to the ticks of a well-made clock. There is no room for supernatural beings, like Jesus or angels, in this Universe. This God is infinitely complex and knows everything, yet the Universe had no need for his intervention. Neither does mankind, as we have all the tools available to us to create society, laws and progress without his intervention.

 The best example in literature or film that I can think to compare The Clockwork God is Dr. Manhattan in Alan Moore's The Watchmen.

Dr. Manhattan begins his life as a simple watchmaker's son but, after the creation of the Atom Bomb, his father sets him on the path of becoming a physicist. He becomes a very successful scientist, but seems to be destroyed in an accident involving a complex energy experiment. Yet, soon after, his conscience's willpower forces him to construct a new body.

 He is changed into his world's first truly super powered super hero. He is, more or less, turned into a new God. He is indestructible, immortal, and can create, change or destroy matter with the ease that we might blink. He is also all-knowing, all-seeing and, if he wished, omnipresent. At first, he tries to play the role of a super hero or savior. Yet, the more he tries to help humanity, the more he becomes disaffected by them and realizes that he has left them behind. And, eventually he does.

And what does he want to do? He can do anything! So, he wishes to create his own Universe. The only thing that Dr. Manhattan does not know is what this new Universe should be and this is only answered through his interactions with humans. He realizes that humanity does not come from within, it comes through one's connections with others.

Yet, this more of a brilliant metaphilosophical approach to The Clockwork God hidden in the covers of the most critically acclaimed graphic novel of all time than a true depiction of the concept. In reality, I believe that God's existence is impossible to understand or comprehend, at least in this mortal coil. Perhaps, in the afterlife, or perhaps not.

So, what can be taken away from this? Read or watch The Watchmen and try to look at your religious beliefs with some scrutiny but don't get too hung up on it. In my opinion, what's most important is that you do whatever you want in the beautiful world we live in but try not to hurt others in your pursuits.

"Belief in a cruel God, makes a cruel God."-Thomas Paine

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