Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sci-fi religion: Are you SURE you want to hang out with god eternally?

Let's say for the sake of argument there really is a god up there in the sky, and he's eternal and all-powerful. Would you really want to meet him briefly, let alone live with him, under his power, for all eternity?

This is a topic that's been explored by numerous science fiction stories. One of my favorites is Isaac Asimov's short story "The Last Answer" (not to be confused with the better-known "The Last Question"), in which an atheist physicist dies, and, much to his surprise, finds himself in an eternal afterlife. But the afterlife isn't the lovely heaven the physicist half expects; instead it's more of a prison, and the entity running the show doesn't really give a damn (so to speak) about the creatures it saves. In fact, the people it saves are only cogs in its greater plan, and it's using them rather than cherishing them.

It's a creepy story that turns the notion of an eternal god around and asks: What if god weren't all that great a person? What if heaven weren't an eternity of joy and love after all? Do you really know what you're worshipping? And are you really, really sure you want to live forever, anyway?

They're all good questions that aren't contemplated thoroughly enough by most theists. Even in the Bible, the Judeo-Christian God doesn't really come across as the sort of guy into whose keeping I'd want to entrust my soul for all eternity. He's hot-tempered and cranky at best, outright vicious at worst. He sends bears to rip up mouthy children, destroys towns and commands his people to kill the survivors and rape the female children, and sends floods to eradicate all life on earth. And that's God as seen through the eyes of his press agents! What might God really be like? I don't know, but I'm not sure I'd want to find out.

Happily, I won't have to:-).

1 comment:

  1. Good point. The Abrahamic God is a control freak who demands absolute obedience and love from his creations, and threatens them with eternal torture if they don't stroke his ego. His actions in the Old Testament make it clear that he's a sadistic tyrant. Spending eternity praising such a monster would be hellish.