We atheists find at least some enjoyment in reinforcing the believers’ nagging paranoia that God does not exist. However, if he does exist, the sheer volume and intensity of suffering on our small planet does raise some difficult questions as to his nature. An all-just and all-good deity (as the Quran claims), he is not—and he is certainly not all-powerful in addition to these first two divine Islamic attributes.
This got me thinking; what concern is it of mine if I just grant them the benefit of the (very severe) doubt and say that God exists. I decided I will, with a caveat:
“I will admit God exists if you admit he is an asshole.”
That is, the extent of his involvement with the universe was having been the “first mover”—after which he skipped town (much like a dead-beat father plays an important role in creating life only to turn-heel and run).
As a child I was made to memorize the “99 names of God” in lieu of dashing my parents hopes that I become proper qari (one who has memorized the Quran). A mere mortal like myself can have 99 attributes and in fact many more. (This is all semantics and we are, after all, dealing with words which can and often do have many meanings.) However, the absoluteness with which Allah refers to himself as the “All-this” or “All-that” creates a paradox which cannot be explained away as easily as it can in the human context. God cannot, like myself, be benevolent and patient one day and a selfish hot-head the next. He is necessarily all things at all times and his nature is thus necessarily unchanging. He always has been and always will be. He is “The Eternal”.
God cannot be all-just and all-powerful in the same way that I as a human can be mostly good and sometimes evil (or the other way if you like). If God were truly The Compassionate and The Powerful (two of his 99 names), one would expect senseless misery to disappear forever. There are some very artful philosophical debates on how this paradox can be solved—most of which degenerate into wishful nonsense and the idea that since God is divine he can be all things at once. This happy state has been referred to as “compartmentalization” of Allah’s attributes so that there is no paradox. This is an incoherent gibberish argument, a major underpinning of which is that we with our tiny human brains are simply unable to fathom God’s transcendent nature. However, if this were true, then from where does the argument come? How can one argue for something which they themselves readily admit they know nothing about? Here again we find the desire to view God as a completely perfect and infallible being drives the believers to extreme hyperbole.
It is impossible to attribute to God (whose very dubious existence is constantly under scrutiny by the brighter portion of our species) ninety-nine traits without some serious incompatibilities. Muslims take this paradoxical equation and push it beyond all reason by adding to the equation the utmost of each attribute. They make a joke of it by making the sum-total of God’s attributes into the somewhat cultishly appealing number ninety-nine.
The reason for the clearly provocative (if not click-baity) title is this: in all my arguments with the faithful, I have not met a single one who is willing to concede the idea that God is wicked (much less imperfect in any way) for me to express belief in some First Mover. Theists: I tried to be reasonable, but you really need to meet me halfway.
As it stands, I cannot help but thinking that the Greek (as one example) polytheists perhaps had a better idea as to God’s true nature. The Greeks believed in a fine assortment of cynical, politicking, fornicating and sadistic trickster-Gods who came down to earth from time to time to deflower the best of us. The Greek view on deities—that they are lusting warring and conniving beings—seems, in my humble opinion, to explain the daily realities and miseries of our existence infinitely better than the consolidated all-powerful and all-good and all-things deity of the monotheists. Should one not expect terrible results from terrible creators?
Time for a question: what amount of homelessness is acceptable? (Or, for any Ayn Rand fans who might be reading: how close does homelessness have to be to you before it becomes unacceptable?) If you are God, your answer would be: nothing. Try asking him; I guarantee he will not answer. What I can say comfortably is this: if I was God we would live in a much better world. Everyone would be a billionaire and all our cab-drivers would be cute puppies who told knock-knock jokes and sang show-tunes. Also, twice a day, you could wish to have sex with anyone you want and poof—there they’ll be—oiled up, ball-gagged (or whatever your thing is) and ready to go! And, of course, unlike our current thoughtless bigot-overlord, this would apply to women as well because lady-boners matter. Also, pot would be legal. Sound ridiculous or too good to be true? It shouldn’t. We are, after all, talking about all-powerful! I would make a pretty damn good deity, that’s all I’m saying.