Thursday, 9 August 2018
The God Squad
Voltaire is credited with saying that if god did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. He meant, of course that belief in a supernatural, omnipotent, supra-human entity was essential to a civilised society. In those less ordered times the apparent existence of such a divine and retributive power was an important weapon in the armoury of rulers, who could invoke the ultimate destiny of your soul as a means to control the wayward masses.
Nowadays we have other sticks to do all that. We have police and social media to keep you on the straight and narrow. We have sanctions such as Twitter bans and no-platforming and – worse – withdrawal of freedom of speech. God no longer sees into your heart; twenty-four-seven surveillance does that and woe betide the transgressors for they shall forfeit their internet privileges and be cast unto oblivion lest they spreadest unapproved thought.
Nietzsche told us, long ago, that god is dead, but the bugger won’t stay buried. He keeps popping up here and there (and much to the annoyance of the feminazis, god is almost universally a ‘he’) but these days he’s a much diminished deity. Battsby’s Jehovah Law states that the more devout your belief in a god, the less to be valued is your opinion on other matters. The corollary to that is that men of god are either simple fools with toothless agendas, or else cynical charlatans with evil intent.
Take the Pope – no, really – the papacy wields great power and controls great wealth and has access to texts denied the rest of humanity. The Pope is either an incredibly well-informed leader of millions, in which case he can’t possibly believe in god, or he is a simple dupe of others who pull his strings. I imagine the scene in the movie where, having been chosen to place his arse on the chair of St Peter, the new bishop of Rome is ushered into a star chamber where the true secrets of Catholicism are revealed.
Thereafter he must make a choice to continue the charade or else give up the top job. None have yet been equal to the tricky (and possibly fatal) task of honesty, from which I conclude that exactly like former Eurosceptic politicians who undergo Damascene conversions on attaining high office – Blair and Hague to list but two of many – Popes decide to swallow the blue pill and continue in a state of blissful compliance.
That propensity alone – the willingness to abandon rational enquiry – is worthy of ridicule. To imagine that a god who created all life can somehow be arsed to decree what you must wear is surely fertile ground for mockery. Dave Allen’s entire career was built on mocking religion, especially Roman Catholicism. He wasn’t struck down because, on the whole, Christians are a cheek-turning bunch. But can you imagine the fate of a modern counterpart turning his gaze on islam?
For three days the only news has been people repeating, over and over again the words which Boris merely wrote. As the clamour for him to be punished rise in pitch and increase in frenzy, we should remind ourselves on something else often (if erroneously) attributed to Voltaire: To discover who rules over you, simply find out who (or what) you are not allowed to criticise.