Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"If God is dead, then everything is permitted"

This is a quote presented in the Anderson essay. I disagree with this. The word permitted implies that there is one who permits. The theists believe of course that God is the one who permits. But what about for the rest of us? Do we have no laws? Of course we do; our laws our made and enforced by our government "of the people, by the people, for the people." We decide what we should and should not do. We are the ones who permit. I am not implying that the American federal government is God, rather that we humans, all of us together as one, are God.

And who better to decide what is considered moral and immoral for our behalf but ourselves? Surely no one else knows quite like we do what it's like to be us. We understand first hand what it's like to be robbed, attacked, invaded, enslaved, persecuted, maimed, killed. When Jesus died, he went home to be with dear old dad, so God doesn't really know what it's like to lose a child, not like we do. We base our morality on thousands of years of personal experience. We base our morality on what is best for us as individuals, and as a civilization as a whole as well. Some may argue against this with the evidence of so much human evil in the world. If we are the ones who permit, why do we permit this evil? The same could be asked of the theists, and even more so I think. If God exists, why does he permit such evil? Especially if he is so all powerful, surely he could easily rid the world of evil.

We are not so capable, not yet at least. But we are trying, and I think that really says something. I've never seen God try to do anything. It would be easy for him to perform miracles, he's magic. But when a doctor saves a child's life with little more than his bare hands, that's a true miracle. And with technology advancing as it has with no end in sight, who's to say we won't someday have the power of God in our own hands?

Q: Who is the quote in the title from?
A: Dostoyevsky


  1. Charitably to interpret Dostoevsky, he must have meant that if God doesn't exist (and "God" can be taken to mean any conclusive, authoritative, unquestioned disposition of value), then everything in permitted until or unless humans agree that it is not. Further, he may have assumed that humans would never agree.

    But we pretty much have agreed on the broad framework of morals, haven't we? The golden rule has been in, pretty much everywhere and always; murder and incest are out. We've worked it out for ourselves, we've created laws and punishments. We just can't lower the ultimate boom (or boon) of eternal torment or reward. That hasn't seemed to have much of a deterrent effect anyway.

    Speaking of the father and the son, have you seen the latest Mr. Deity?


  2. The Mr. Deity link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ksa5FNQLrA

  3. Heinlen would take exception to the incest taboo, but he was a big proponent of consensual behavior being sacrosanct.