Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Summer 2009

An Essay

Rich Dengrove

illo by Joe Mayhew

I was debating in an apa about the nature of God with someone who, unless he chooses not to, will remains anonymous. He never answered me. However, I suspect he had a good reason: he had had a Niagara of other things to do. I would be delighted if he chooses to answer me now, but I realize he still has a lot on his plate. For now, my argument will remain:

Neither one of us uses the term God in the normal parlance. There, God both created the universe and is worshipped. You argue that God has to be the creator of the universe, preferably by supernatural means, but need not be worshipped. Here, you have an ulterior motive. You would just as soon get rid of all that faith nonsense and zero in on where God as an entity can be disproved: i.e., the science, the facts and the logic. However, your examples of un-worshipped creators who were gods do not work out. For the Gnostics who believed in the Demi-Urge, while that being created the universe, he wasn’t worthy of being worshipped. For them, the entity above him who didn’t create the universe, God, was the one worthy of being worshipped. Your second example does not work out either, a sheet. You said a sheet would still not be a God if it were worshipped. However, it was never worshipped so we will never know. You are right to find the idea absurd. Of course, because it is, a sheet would be unlikely to ever be worshipped.

A third example seems to work out on the surface, the Deists. They claimed the First Cause, or the Unknown Builder, was God, yet they claimed not to worship him. However, my experience with modern day Deists, the Unitarians, is that they worship God, despite their ostensible belief. In fact, I know they have what they call a “Worship Service.” I suspect the Deists would have too, or they would not have been called the Unknown Builder God.

I freely confess to having an ulterior motive: I wish to separate faith and science, which, I think, should have their own separate places in our lives. Thus, anything people worship is a God. About the sheet, I am not going to flinch: if it were worshipped, it too would be a god.

Whichever way we define Religion, it clears up confusion here: that the creator of the universe has to be God, and is ipso facto worthy of worship. That is the confusion of the Deists and their modern day descendents have failed to disentangle themselves from.

The Fundies I have met do something similar. They have tried to convert me with an argument similar to the Deists, only with a vengeance. They argue the old saw that a building has to have a builder so the universe does too. Very similar to the First Cause or Builder of the Deists. However, the idea is to get you to worship a God a lot harder than the Deists or Unitarians would ever have wanted you to. On that basis, you are supposed to accept the Unknown Builder into your heart, and his son, and be born again. Also, go to church, practice religious precepts, oppose abortions, and be happy having found God. Above all, agree to a literal interpretation of the Bible. No Evolution should cross your lips.

Here too we clear up a confusion: Fundamentalism need not follow from the Unknown Builder argument.

I think my argument has an advantage for most people, though: if creation and worship are independent of each other, it makes God almost invulnerable to the usual doubt: that God does not accord with science or the facts. This has been the curse of the modern age. If science and fact, and faith, are irrelevant to one another, neither should be able to convince people to give up God.

On the other hand, I must admit people are unlikely to advocate my doctrine because it is totally foreign to them.

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