The Eco-Tech Dialogues
... there being a god, that god must be worshipped. Worship means raising the god above the individual, and liturgies often make the point that the individual is less than nothing compared to the deity. If this is done, then, when the god is invoked, the individual has so little worth that he or she may be sacrificed for the needs of the god....
And who speaks for the god? If all people do, then no one does, and there is no god. If the people accept a priesthood, or the equivalent, then those priests exercise whatever power that god's believers grant that god over them, and the elite may cause an individual to be worth less, to be exiled, or even to die or be killed. Yet such powers do not come from a deity.
In modern history and science, never has there been a verified occasion of a god appearing or demonstrating the powers ascribed throughout history to deities. Always, there is a prophet who speaks for the god. Why cannot the god speak? If a god is omnipotent, then the god can speak. If he cannot, then that god is not omnipotent. Often, the prophets say that a god will only speak to the chosen, the worthy.
Should the people accept a god who is either too powerless to speak, or too devious or too skeptical to appear? Or a god who will only accept those who swallow a faith laid out by a prophet who merely claims that deity exists--without proof? Yet people have done so, and have granted enormous powers to those who speak for the god.
More ironically, as technologies have advanced, men and women have gained powers once ascribed to deities, yet deistic faith always claims greater powers for their deities and appear to seek equally greater controls over their followers, over those followers' finances, and at times even over their sexual habits and private lives ... and many people have accepted such controls, even with enthusiasm....
The Parafaith War - chapter:7
... As cultures advance in knowledge and power, the conflict between reason and faith becomes apparently greater. Not only have people attained through technology the powers of old gods to cast thunderbolts or to heal or to destroy, but they have exercised those powers, and they know that divinity is not required. They can determine that sufficient power determines destiny.
The problem with technology is that it rewards the able while also empowering those who are less able. A man who cannot fathom a computer or an infonet can destroy those who can, and who have been rewarded for their skills.
Yet, if each individual obtains and wields the power within his or her scope, few individuals will survive. By placing power in a greater being, a deity, in some force greater than the individual, or even into a belief that the community is greater than the individual, an individual is expressing a faith in the need for an entity greater then mere personal ambition or appetite. That faith ... allows the individual to refrain from exercising power, yet it also places such an individual at the mercy of those without such faith.
While it can be and has been argued that all peoples are created equal, genetics and environmental analyses have verified that such equality ceases at birth, perhaps even earlier.
With unequal power and unequal ability the lot of humanity, religion has sought to establish a common ground by subsuming all to a mightier god, yet reason and technology have conspired to communicate that no such god exists--or that such a god does not interfere--and that some form of might makes right. And no god has, in recent historical times, destroyed the side with the bigger battalions and mightier technology.
So ... how can a rational individual confront the problem of power? In the same way that all the faithful have throughout history--by sharing a set of ideals and a spirit of community more highly valued than individual application of power....
One of the cries of the true believer is that there are moral absolutes that can only be set forth by a deity. Yet if life is sacred, as many deities have proclaimed, how can a deity command people to kill in his name, as most deities have done? How can we even exist, since we must consume, in the natural state, some other organism, and that means killing? Likewise, if life is not sacred, then the injunction to be fruitful and multiply is a military command, not a deistic one....
The Parafaith War - chapter:38
Without a deity the universe is uncertain. But, once the deistic faiths have been analysed, they provide no greater certainty, nor is there any verified evidence that deities per se have improved humanity or its institutions. Certainly, improvements have occurred, but those improvements have been accomplished in purely human fashion. These accomplishments have proved that people can bring greater certainty, greater goodness, greater understanding into the universe, and, while they may have been inspired by faith, those good people have done so without the physical help of a deity.
Thus, it can be argued that the invention of a deity only serves as a pretext for human beings to believe in a set of values beyond those rooted merely in self. Yet, most societies in history have chastised those individuals who have attempted to acknowledge publicly that need for a set of values beyond those rooted merely in the individuals needs, or that a 'mere' human being could consider and develop such values. Thus, great truths have always been presented in the guise of divinely inspired guidance.
Yet theologies exist which claim that men and women will be as gods, or equal with god, upon their physical death, and they have proved immensely popular and successful, despite the inherent contradiction. How, logically, can death transfigure a man or woman into a being that much superior to the one who lived on earth? Such a theology avoids the need to admit that individuals can develop and live by a moral code with 'higher' values, as well as the need to admit the effort required in doing so, by providing a deity with the wherewithal to accomplish a theological transmutation almost magically....
That is the greatest danger in theology and deities--that they create the impression that goodness cannot be created or maintained by mere humans without divine help. This allows all manner of excuses ... and strange contortions to explain perfectly logical occurrences....
The Parafaith War - chapter:71