Hi! My name is Claudia, and I want to talk to you about subjective versus objective existence!
Having finally taken a break from doing all the boring responsible things I am compelled to do as a member of adult society, and having picked a title for this very serious thesis, I sat down at my keyboard to write this all full of vim and vinegar and Aaaargh! Before beginning though, I read over everyone else's theses, and now I feel quite intimidated and very much doubtful of the likelihood of being up to par! I only hope the peer review commitee has all manner of flimsy standards, not only moral ones...
My title: Why is the FSM not like a writing desk?
Caveat 1: Quoting with references aside, I have to admit that this idea was not entirely my own, thought up completely out of the blue by no one else but me, with no outside influences to assist. The fact is, Neil Gaiman is my second favourite fanatsy author of all time, and his book American Gods really got me thinking about this subject. Plus he's a much better writer than I am and uses a fantastic story to do full justice to the subject of what the gods need from humanity. Also, my title is ever so slightly borrowed (nicked) from Lewis Carroll.
Caveat 2: Since today I am sick to death of all the bloody formal research bloody papers I keep having to do (does "bloody" count as a cuss word? Does "flimsy moral standards" mean I can cuss with impunity in this thesis?) in order to get my Religious Studies degree, I have absolutely no intention of doing much proper research, or indeed of referencing anything with the (bloody) Harvard method. I fully intend to just wing it and, indeed, make it up as I go along.
Justification 1: Thank goodness for flimsy moral standards, that's all I can say! I'm feeling barely even a twinge of guilt. I feel so good I think I'll abandon a contents page completely and just jump right in:
Quote 1: "Remeber, however, that there is a difference between the desk and society in the sense that, unlike the desk, society cannot be external to all the individuals in society. ...society would cease to exist without people. But the desk would still be there, even if everybody disappeared from the face of the earth." (*referenced at the end of the page)
I wish to compare God/gods/any form of personal deity to society in the above example, in that he/she/it/they have no existence independent of humanity. I intend to contend that gods exist in the same way as Justice exists, or Beauty, or any other abstract virtue of your choice, which is to say as a sort of anthropomorphic personification. Gods exist because people exist, and not independently of them.
As the old philosophical question puts it: If a pirate falls overboard (probably on account of having first fallen into the rum keg) and there's no one around to hear it, does he make a splash? This is a very handy question, philosophically speaking, and it also, conveniently, is unaffected by the observer effect, and remains unaffected even if I was the one who pushed him over, as I clearly was not even there at the time and neither saw nor heard anything.
And the answer to that particualr question, I submit, is completely irrelevant. And can't be proven in a court of law either. Moving on, we have to ask the question: If every single person disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow, would god (any god, all gods) still continue to exist? I submit: no. Which is my whole point. I have a lot more to say about this and it's very difficult to get myself to shut up sometimes, but I feel I should wrap this thing up before somebody suggests twenty lashes for wasting everyone's time.
Suffice it to say that if we are willing to grant that subjective existence is, in its own way, a valid form of existence, then the FSM truly does exist. (And so does Odin-gallows-lord, and Anansi, and Quetzalcoatl, and Bast...) He just doesn't exist in the same way as a writing desk does. There are also a number of demonstrable ways the FSM is superior to a writing desk, but I don't feel we need to go into that now. I propose simply that if He exists then he exists because we believe He does - belief creates a form of existence. If someone truly believes in that invisible elephant on his (above his?) head, then for him that elephant does exist, for a given value of existence. Which means that rather than humanity needing gods, it is in fact the gods who need us. Point Proven! Roughly.
Whew! That's done then! If it's disordered it's because I was too Sunday-afternoon-lazy to do a better job, and because my brain is always a bit disordered, and because all the words try to rush out at once instead of waiting their turn. And if anyone has any counter-arguments I beg of you to have it out with me with cutlass and pistol, or failing that to argue with me vociferously. I love a good rip-roaring debate, and the people I live with refuse to argue religion with me anymore because they say I use ridiculous arguments to make my point. (Just because one time I happened to mention the Turtle that carries the world on its back).
*Study Guide for Sociology 101V. Original text by Derik Gelderblom, Elize Koen, Veronica McKay, and Charles Puttergill. University of South Africa Press. Pretoria. 2008.
"There's a hell of a good universe next door, let's go!" e e cummings
"And the new day was a great big fish." Terry Pratchett
"WHAT CAN THE HARVEST HOPE FOR, IF NOT FOR THE CARE OF THE REAPER MAN?" Terry Pratchett (yes again, I'm afraid. He's my absolute favourite author)