Sleeping Under Enon

solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris

The Beautific Vision

According to many Christians, for God to be revealed to you gives you a psychological compulsion to love it [1]. That is, even the strictest, most arrogant of atheists could not help but love God and feel the need to worship it. If God were to create us with this necessary trait, should this not be considered narcissistic on the grandest of scales?

Why is it that God is allowed to control our minds in such a way that it is not seen as monstrous, when any other being doing precisely the same thing would be morally contemptible (to put it lightly)? If person X were to find out that their love for person Y was simply the result of a curious little pill that Y slipped into X’s tea on a daily basis, a common intuition would be that this would not, or should not, be counted as ‘true love’. It would be artificial. Fake. A lie. So why is it any different with God? Given the contra-causal free will [2] many Christians would want to hold on to, such a design feature would seem to negate that version of free will. It remains to be seen how the two could be reconciled.

The obvious reply at this point would be to say ‘Ah, well there is no contradiction between necessarily loving God and having free will. We never freely choose what emotions we have, why should it be any different here?’. While I agree in part with this, I remain unconvinced that the idea of love, or the act of loving someone, is simply a felt emotion. It is surely more than that, like, for instance, the acceptance of those feelings and acting on them. From a libertarian perspective [3], when we love someone we choose to act in certain ways towards them. We might grant someone has warm feelings towards someone, but if they horrifically abuse that person, it would be difficult (intuitively speaking) to defend the idea that they love that person.  One might say something along the lines of ‘If you loved them, you wouldn’t abuse them’. So it seems that love is more than just a feeling, that includes the way we act towards the object of our love.

Let us say that the vision of God does not force us to love God, it is just, given the glory of God, nearly always inevitable. With our contra-causal free will it would then seem possible that someone may choose not to love God. If someone chooses not to love God, that is they use their God given free will and decide that they do not love God, then on what grounds could God punish them (which, I am told by a Christian theologian, it would)? Eternal damnation for simply refusing the friendship/love of something you consider, for some reason or another, not worth pursuing hardly portrays God in a benevolent light. If anything, it makes it out to be a emotionally unbalanced being in constant need of reassurance. Such a being does not seem worthy of worship.

It would seem that the master-slave relationship is more ingrained than many would wish to realize. From what has been said, we do not consider love formed under such blind compulsion to be true love. Would it not then follow that many Christians’ relationship with God is mere fiction? [4]

If that sits pretty with most people, fine by me. But I would choose the company of the damned.


[1] I’ll consider giving God a gender when the concept of the Trinity is sorted out (and by that I mean rejected). Can something which is both one and three beings (whatever that means) be meaningfully referred to as ‘him/her’ (etc.)?

[2] Libertarian free will, where free decisions are contrary to cause and effect. I.e. the physical state of the world is not sufficient for your decision, it requires something else. What that something else is, however, is still as mysterious as it was when first conceived.

[3] Libertarian will be used interchangeably with ‘a person who accepts/holds contra-causal free will’.

[4] Ignoring the point that their God is a work of fiction anyway.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: