Sunday, April 26, 2015

Clash of Worldviews: God and the Devil

MODERATOR: Welcome, viewers, to an astounding edition of our philosophical show, Clash of Worldviews. This evening, we’re graced by the voices of God and the devil themselves. I say “the voices,” because those personages aren’t physically present in the studio—and perhaps we should begin the discussion by asking why they chose not to be more fully here with us. God, would you care to take that one on?

GOD: You’re asking why we’re not there with you in the confines of your studio? It’s too cramped for my taste.

DEVIL: You see how he jokes? Such a kidder is the devil’s creator. But to address your question, we’re not there with you because we’re not natural beings, so our full, essential selves don’t belong within those paltry dimensions. To attempt to manifest in your studio would entail the undoing of your universe; your solar system would dissolve like a bad dream. Also, and speaking just for me now, I’m rather busy at the moment reengineering several galaxies at once—or “corrupting” them, as the moralists would have it; that is, I’m multitasking. As for God, who can say what else he’s up to? Crying in his beer would be my guess. Anyway, you’ll have to settle for just our voices.

MODERATOR: Ah, well, fair enough. I wonder what to discuss next: the choices are endless, I suppose. Talk about an embarrassment of riches! I mean, I’m the envy of all interviewers.

DEVIL: Isn’t that just like a human? Confronted by infinite, unhuman powers and he’s got to talk about himself. You’ve got your exalted creator on the line and you can’t help remarking what a big man you are, how you’re the envy of your peers. Ah, the demonic pride you find nestling in the genetic code of all natural creatures: survive at all costs, even though to God your entire cosmos is an unfinished rough draft written on a scrunched-up, coffee-stained sheet of paper he’s since tossed into a waste bin.

GOD: You and the other demiurges created their cosmos, not I.

DEVIL: Yeah, but we were your agents at the time.

MODERATOR: Uh, I suppose we should turn next to clarifying, then, exactly who you two are. Which god and which devil, for example? 

GOD: Yes, that is a sticky wicket. You should think of me as the fellow at the center of all Being…

DEVIL: [to the moderator] Is that all you’re going to get out of him? What a gyp! I could enlighten you, but you may not like what you find: inquiry ends in light—issuing from the fires of hell.

Who is the devil? you ask. Your world’s religions are mixed up on the subject, let me tell you. Zoroaster called me the destructive mind, Angra Mainyu, creator of the daevas or demons who deceive humankind due to the demons’ ignorance or self-deception. The Gnostics identified that malign mentality with Yahweh, with the sole, tyrannical god of the priestly class of ancient Jews, identifying me with the Christ-like provider of gnosis, with the Promethean, redemptive knowledge that frees your species from its bondage to this shadow-world. Orthodox Christians side with Zoroaster and demonize all sources of subversive knowledge, so I become the evil rebel against truth, beauty, and goodness, destined to perdition along with those I corrupt.

It’s all a glorified soap opera, of course, a personification of certain natural processes. For example, the myth of the fallen angel derives from Isaiah’s remark on how the planet Venus, the brightest “morning star,” appears to be submerged by the mighty sun’s rays each morning, before it can attain the highest point in heaven. You see, your institutional religions began as hopelessly anthropocentric astrotheologies, poetic musings on the comings and goings of local planets and stars. Those musings took so many childish notions for granted that it’s very hard for those in the know to take them seriously even for the briefest moment. What can the path of one wandering planet say about God’s chief rival, even on a metaphorical level, when the universe contains trillions of other such planetary paths? Of course, your ancients thought they were at the universe’s center so that even the gods in heaven revolved around them. Again, the arrogance of humans is breathtaking. But you’re babies, after all, which is why I’ve got all your candy.

GOD: But just which sort of creature would steal candy from a baby? 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Clash of Worldviews: Sex and Love Edition

MODERATOR: Good evening, viewers, and welcome to a spicy edition of Clash of Worldviews, the financially unlikely show in which philosophical disputes take center stage. This week, we turn to questions of sex and romantic love. Is sex shameful? Is love the meaning of life? To discuss these and related matters, we’re fortunate to have with us the ebullient sexologist, Sexy Nerd Cassandra, whose podcasts and workshops promote sex positivity. Joining her is Heather Fogarty, renowned postmodern cynic who considers herself antisexual. Ladies, welcome! Heather, why don’t you get us started by explaining what on earth could be wrong with sex.

HEATHER: Thanks, Mr. Nameless Moderator. I’m amused to serve again as gadfly of the modern social order. Your question sounds rhetorical, which means you’re assuming that antisexuality, that is, the opposition to sex, is obviously wrongheaded. But if that’s so, if sex is obviously right, why don’t you share your sex life with the world by presenting our viewers with recordings of what goes on under your covers? I’m talking photographs, movies, descriptions—the works. Why keep something so wonderful a secret?

MODERATOR: I must say if I understand it correctly, your request isn’t entirely professional.

HEATHER: That’s exactly my point—which comes across despite your dithering. Sex is animalistic. It proves we’re animals. So it falsifies our delusions of grandeur, including our prejudice that by donning a power suit we become a “professional.” You and virtually everyone else find public dissection of their own sex life distasteful, because you’re embarrassed by your sex acts. You think disgust with sex is ludicrous, whereas the sex act itself is plainly asinine. Most people’s worst fear is to be caught in the act of having sex. And yet they condescend to virginal loners and to those who abhor sexuality and the body, calling them losers or omegas or mentally ill. But how can antisexuality be disordered when we’re ashamed of the norm in question? If the behavioural standard itself is dubious and must be kept private, for fear of being blackmailed by evidence of the nonsense we get up to when we’re naked and otherwise savage with our partners, how can dissent from that standard be wrong, let alone pitiful? Indeed, how can the presumption be against outsiders like me who choose not to do what most people implicitly agree is foolish, namely hump each other like the animals we think so poorly of that we routinely dine on them or hunt them for sport? Sure, many species evolve an instinct to seek shelter in the wild while copulating, because animals are vulnerable to predation when they’re in the middle of the sex act. But we can have sex behind locked doors and still be embarrassed about what sex reveals about us even long after the farcical act is accomplished.

MODERATOR: Uh, Cassandra, why don’t you jump in here?

CASSANDRA: Gladly! I’m delighted to be here. Heather, I’m fascinated by your audacious case against sex, but I must say that if you’re missing out on sex and love, your life is passing you by. These are such important parts of being human that I fear your over-analyses are only making you miserable. While it’s often our choice whether to be happy or depressed, I question your attempt to cast aspersions on something so central to our wellbeing. Even if your pessimism were to become widespread, what would you have accomplished other than to prove the aphorism that misery loves company? 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Eighth PDF Installment of RWUG

Here's the eighth eBook installment of this blog. For the other installments, click the eBook label in the Labels section or the eBook tab at the top, between Satirical News and Videos (if you're reading this on a desktop computer). Otherwise, just click here for them.

Enjoy! Or rather shudder at my discernment of the undead god's monstrous non-intentions towards our piddling species!