My longtime friend is a secular Jew, which makes him, I think, a humanist. He hasn’t renounced his Judaic heritage, but he takes it with a grain of salt.
Hard not to, what with the “talking snake,” Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Isaac, the plagues of Egypt, blood in the rivers, the frogs, the boils, the slaughter of the firstborns, manna from heaven, the whole “Promised Land” bit, not to mention the “Chosen People” thing. That’s a lot to swallow!
Over the years I came to share my friend’s aversion to religion. Under his influence—and a host of thoughtful skeptics such as Baruch Spinoza, Thomas Paine, and Bertrand Russell—I gradually discarded theism (trust in a supernatural god) in favor of humanism.
Humanism gives prominence to nature, natural law, and science. It expects human ingenuity to solve problems. Humanists aren’t superstitious. Humanists don’t expect any god to save us.
My friend now believes in such a god.
A few weeks ago when a close associate of the president tested positive, my friend fell to his knees and asked the god of his ancestors to smite the president with the virus, and if his ancestral god would do that, my friend would gladly make a sacrifice.
The next day the president tested positive.
My friend immediately redialed Jehovah. My friend thanked Jehovah and then explained that he had only daughters, so sacrificing his firstborn son wasn’t possible. Instead, he would give up drinking beer until after “The Election.”
I know how much my friend likes (loves!) beer. I thought he was joking. But he insisted it was true, and he certainly didn’t want to go back on his word with a god who smites people.
I told him that this sort of superstition (Let’s try something here. Kill a chicken and see if it rains!) is what gave rise to religion in the first place. He shrugged it off. He’s keeping his promise to Jehovah.
I saw him last week. He has definitely lost weight.
Well, as it turns out, the whole positive test–Walter Reed Hospital–ll Duce balcony appearance thing turned the electorate against the incumbent. My friend’s prayer did it!
If Biden wins, I will mold a statue of my pious friend, place it next to St. Francis in my flower garden, and every November 3rd salute it with a pint of beer.
See Paula’s “Barn in the Fog” photograph on the home page.
When I first read your title, I thot it said “A God who Smiles”… then I saw the t, and went oh yeah, Old Testament… here we go! This god who smites story brought a welcomed smile… 10 days before the most consequential vote of my lifetime (just another Tuesday drama in my grandson’s lifetime of real world smites)… thanks for the smiles & belly laughs!
While it is at least somewhat inapplicable, my first thought, right thought, upon reading your latest screed, was a quote from that great American philosopher, W.C. Fields: “There was once a woman, who drove me to drink. You know, I think I forgot to thank her.” Finally, since this seems to be a spontaneous thought morning, a spin off of Ram Dass’s meditation classic, “Be Here Now,” I offer, “Be ‘er now!”
“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.” Perhaps, the “natural law” is the Logos?
While my rational mind agrees with you, I can understand where your friend is coming from. But my “gut mind” longs for a god who delivers justice (as I see it) to evildoers! Watching Mark Meadows on TV this morning made me want to kill that chicken, quickly! Maybe it will rain and wash them all away.
Nice juxtoposition between your path from superstition to humanism and your friend’s belief in a non human first responder. Your friend’s belief in his own enviable power to influence the supernatural being of his choice through petitionary prayer is age old and must convey to him a sense of being rather special in the events of earth.
Just wanted to let you know that my birthday is coming up next week, and the only thing I want for a birthday present is Joe Biden’s win!
Just to set the record straight—When the pilgrims sailed for the New World (which, compared to theirs was really the Old World then) they took more beer aboard with them than they did water. That showed that they believed in science as well as in God. For God didn’t say much about beer in the biblical record, but even in that day, science knew that beer resists spoiling far longer than water will. So, if Trump should win on November 3—God and science forbid—stock up on beer if you don’t have “running” water. Selah