Saturday, 11 August 2012

Shifting The Burden

I've just listened to a five minute interview with Peter Hitchens, Christopher Hitchens younger brother. He is by all accounts a formidable intellect and he has his legendary brothers voice. He defines himself as a Christian, and when pressed as to why he declared that nothing made sense without God.
Now this strikes me as odd. First off, and the most obvious objection I have is simply to wonder why the Universe needs to make sense? Does it owe us sense? It occurs to me that the Universe doesn't owe us this any more than it owes us happiness or wealth or good health. Peters comments seem something akin to grasping at straws. And frankly, what specifically makes greater sense when you posit a divine intellect lurking behind the curtain like some cosmic Wizard of Oz? Does suffering make any more sense? Do the great tribulations of this and other epochs take on a lesser meaning unless we see it as part of a divine plan?
Some plan. I mean, this planet is really something of a mess, a real children's bedroom. And the mess is mostly of our own making. I see neither the necessity nor value in projecting our hopes onto a being so vastly improbable that it is rendered near impossible. In fact I see very real dangers in doing so. Like any problem, to project it is not really to take ownership. How many people do you know cannot face up to their own mistakes, their own poor decision making? How many times have you heard them bemoan the rough hand they've been dealt. Well maybe so, but you're no further down the road when you fail to deal with your problems. When you blame the rest of the world you've failed to engage in your part of the malaise. It's a bit cowardly, a bit weak, an unimpressive response to everyday reality.
In many ways, God is the ultimate burden shift. You just refer the problem on, or pass them up, as I used to hear in church circles. Like the proverbial damsel in distress we expect the Almighty to come to the rescue upon his trusty steed, issuing bail out after bail out. And the trouble with bailouts, as the euro zone crisis demonstrates, is that when you're constantly being bailed out you're often only pushing the problem further down the line.
You might call that a solution. I call it an abdication. How could it be anything else?

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