[PREFACE: I suspect that the majority of the audience for this piece won’t need to be asked to familiarize themselves with the Logical Absolutes before proceeding but, if you do not have at least a passing familiarity with the building blocks of logic (and subsequently, rational discourse) then I beg you to go learn them now before trying to read another word from me, or anybody else or, for that matter, before even putting on your pants and leaving the house. Thanks.]
I’ve entertained the notion of this essay for some time now, but just recently an online provocateur set my keyboard a-clickin’, as we say wherever I’m from. My antagonist had insisted upon two things simultaneously: that God’s moral standards hadn’t changed throughout history, AND that they HAD.
“You can’t have it both ways,” I admonished.
“Yes I can,” was his terse (and final) reply.
I took that as the intellectual equivalent of lying down one’s king. Because it established that my adversary was either unwilling or unable to adhere to rational discourse and, instead, embrace what I’ve come to call the “Illogical Absolutes”.
With profuse apologies to the memory of Aristotle, here they are:
A is not equal to A
A is equal to NOT A
A can be both A and NOT A
I submit that any appeal to the Illogical absolutes is tantamount to waving the white flag. It suggests the person you are speaking with is either unwilling or unable to adhere to the boundaries of rational discourse.
Recognizing the Illogical Absolutes is, I think, crucial for not allowing those moments to go unnoticed when the devout effectively concede the debate. One of the most common scenarios where this happens is when the believer starts chipping away at “existence” itself. I put the word in quotes so that you’ll take note and, when it is offered up, go immediately on high alert for the potential for an upcoming concession.
Share this diagram with your conversant, and ask if we can agree that a thing either IS, or is NOT, “A”.
“But God is not bound by the confines of our reality,” is the sort of thing the believer might offer. “He exists outside of the temporal universe.”
We’re almost there already.
“So, here’s the temporal universe and existence as we know it,” you should reply, sharing some version of the above graphic. “And you’re telling me that when we can’t detect God here in the temporal is because he’s transcendent and can effectively be found HERE.”
If the opponent concurs, you’re done. They’ve just relegated their god to non-existence.
“Can we agree that this is where your God exists? Because if this is “existence” then everything outside the circle of existence is that which does not exist. (Lightheartedly) So we can both agree that your god exists in non-existence or, better put, does not exist?”
I don’t recall a time when the reply did not result in a retreat into some manner of the Illogical Absolutes.
“God is not confined by man’s logic!”
“So we can agree God is not logical?”
“Not by our standards!”
You can guess, if they’re asked, whose standards we should use: their illogical, non-existent God’s, of course…
Who do you turn to when you need answers? When you feel lost? When you need to know that you’re not alone?
Only few generations ago, the majority of Americans might have said “God”. But the latest polls from Pew Research tell us that, at least for millennials, God is no longer the answer. At least, not the most satisfactory one.
Who is? I’d argue, it’s the Internet.
And here’s why:
The Internet Answer Prayers
Granted, a Google™ search for “The Meaning of Life” is likelier to recommend a Monty Python movie rather than actually help you out of any sort of existential crisis, but an argument could be made that the Internet is just as apt at something like, say, answering prayers than any purported celestial deity has ever shown themselves to be.
In fact, thanks to things like online petition drives and networked charity fundraising, the Internet has a demonstrable and replicable track record of answering prayers and (unlike deities) it leaves behind an empirical trail of evidence to support its involvement in the phenomenon.
Some 75,000 petitions on GoFundMe now invoke the Internet service as an answer to their posted “prayer”. Sure, they still tend to give God[s] the credit, but the Internet is divinely humble, and not offended in the least by the slight.
The Internet Heals
Also, given the plethora of medical knowledge online, the Internet is demonstrably more efficacious at promoting healing than any god[s]. People die all the time waiting for their god to intervene, but pull up a high-res image of what happens to somebody’s face when they ignore that lump in their jaw and your ass can’t get to the nearest walk-in clinic quickly enough.
And while you can’t drop bitcoins in the collection plate on Sunday, they will get you a fistful of pain relievers from Mexico overnight drop-shipped to your front door.
Hey, don’t get all judgmental. You heal your way, I’ll heal mine.
The Internet Redeems and Forgives
Which is more sublime: confessing your indiscretions to a priest in a darkened booth or sitting down to write a heartfelt apology email to the person you’ve wronged?
And before you ask, yes there ARE anonymous online absolution services, for anybody who can’t bring themselves to confront the victim[s] of their misanthropy directly.
People die all the time
waiting for their god to intervene…
but the Internet answers prayers
The Internet Does Weddings, Baptisms, and More
The Internet is authorized to perform marriages, and those ordained in the ULC [myself included] can and will baptize you online as well. There’s online counseling for those in grief, online spiritual retreats, and yes, even online affairs and one-night stands [for those times you’d like to cry out to God out of sheer pleasure rather than despair].
The Internet offers Immortality and an Afterlife
We lost R@y Tomlinson this week. If you don’t know who that was, the spelling of his n@me was a pretty big hint.
Tomlinson invented email. And just as much as Steve Jobs, his contribution to our lives lives on well beyond him. Further, the more prolifically we translate our own thoughts and feelings into binary perpetuity, the more of the inner-us can live on for our posterity.
And of course, I’ve saved the best for last. So here is:
The Most Compelling Reason the Internet Is God
Dude, it’s in the cloud.
C’mon, you had to have seen that coming…