Monday, December 05, 2005

God isn't big enough for some people

By Umberto Eco
(Opinion.Telegraph, Filed: 27/11/2005)

We are now approaching the critical time of the year for shops and supermarkets: the month before Christmas is the four weeks when stores of all kinds sell their products fastest. Father Christmas means one thing to children: presents. He has no connection with the original St Nicholas, who performed a miracle in providing dowries for three poor sisters, thereby enabling them to marry and escape a life of prostitution.

Human beings are religious animals. It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion. You can see this in the positivist scientists of the 19th century.

They insisted that they were describing the universe in rigorously materialistic terms - yet at night they attended seances and tried to summon up the spirits of the dead. Even today, I frequently meet scientists who, outside their own narrow discipline, are superstitious - to such an extent that it sometimes seems to me that to be a rigorous unbeliever today, you have to be a philosopher. Or perhaps a priest
Read the whole article here.

1 comment:

michael said...

As I said, I've been reading Frankfurt. deal with it. But to the point.

Frankfurt has a wonderfull little argument in "The Reasons Of Love" that goes vaguely as follows:

Normally when one's beloved suffer one sufferes as a result, and thus it is relevant to consider carefully the objeccts of one's love (not that one can choose what to love and what not to love, but one is capable of shaping one's identity to n extent, and one's identity is strongly bound to one's loves).
God, being omnipotent, is not affected by the losses that befall his beloveds, and thus has no reason to attempt to censure his loves. And he is capable of loving everything. And to not love something is to diminish one's self (because one identifies with what one loves). Therefor God loves everything equally, and thus cares for nothing more than anything else. This include my being in a state of pain or in a state of euphoria.

So lets forget about God.

You may be wondering where I'm going with this. This is an argument that says God is too big for everybody. Yet there is still a religiouse element here that is not a product of "the death of God" but is actually something that came into existence as part of God, but lives on afterwards.
And because it enables one to identify with something other than the self, then death loses some of its primary importance.

I do agree, there is alot to be said for a coherent absurdity, though the various forms of gnosticism (including christianity, with its 'mysteries of faith') also fit this picture.