Friday, March 13, 2015

What if it turns out God's a monster?

Hello and welcome to another amazing countdown post. Click here to see them all.

Today's post dates all the way back to 2006, a glorious time in the life of this blog. I don't remember writing this post, let alone what I was thinking as it was composed. But I do remember what it was like to blog before Facebook. You could sneeze and get a hundred comments (though after Facebook page-views did skyrocket) This post isn't a sneeze. Its a well thought out wail of concern.


My nightmare
Originally posted August 30, 2006
What do we do if it turns out God's a monster? I mean what if after 120 we discover the extreme Haredi/RW Zionist conception of God is true, that He's basically this overlarge sky demon who likes watching us do bizarre things.

It's not impossible.

I can conceive of a 7 year old tormenting smaller, stupider, weaker creatures with absurd demands. Why not extend the analogy? Why couldn't God be a brute, but a benevolent brute who took us out of Egypt and as payment wishes for us to keep our meat and milk separate (which I do, religiously) and slaughter Arabs (which I don't do, religiously or otherwise) and all the rest?

Maybe the extreme Hasidim are correct about God wanting men to avoid woman and secular wisdom they way other men might avoid the plague. Maybe God wants us to devote ourselves to a life of wearing fur hats and white socks. Maybe the sight of all those little people dressed in black, singing songs and eating kugel, makes the creator happy, in the way it pleases my son to see the residents of his ant farm scurry about. Is it impossible? Why?

Maybe the extreme non-Hasidic Haredim are right to be hostile toward science. Perhaps it's all a test, and the non-benevolent Trickster God did bury all those dinosaur bones, and fiddle with the carbon levels just so he could see for sure if we loved Him or not.

Maybe the extreme religious Zionists are right about Arabs. Perhaps we are supposed to be stacking their bodies like cordwood, and razing their villages and orchards so that the next generation of Kachniks have a place for trailers and target shooting.

If any of them are right, it means the Rambam was wrong, and that his rationalist conception of God and the Law was about as accurate as his views on medicine. It would mean that those Rishonim-accepting Jews who believe that the Torah was given to us only for our own benefit, have half the picture.

But it would also mean that a lot of what chazal said about God, is true. The idea of a monster God even fits a lot of what God said about himself in the Torah. Oh dear.

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