Monday Meslier: 165 – Universal Religion


A Universal God Should Have Created a Universal Religion

Jean Meslier Portrait

Jean Meslier

Divinity has revealed itself in the different parts of our globe in a manner of such little uniformity, that in matters of religion men look upon each other with hatred and disdain. The partisans of the different sects see each other very ridiculous and foolish.

The most respected mysteries in one religion are laughable for another. God, having revealed Himself to men, ought at least to speak in the same language to all, and relieve their weak minds of the embarrassment of seeking what can be the religion which truly emanated from Him, or what is the most agreeable form of worship in His eyes.

A universal God ought to have revealed a universal religion. By what fatality are so many different religions found on the earth? Which is the true one amongst the great number of those of which each one pretends to be the right one, to the exclusion of all the others? We have every reason to believe that not one of them enjoys this advantage. The divisions and the disputes about opinions are indubitable signs of the uncertainty and of the obscurity of the principles which they profess.

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I was lucky and never was really infected with religion. My parents didn’t push it on me, and I grew up looking at a lot of medieval art – most of which was religious. Had I grown up looking at more Michaelangelo, things might have worked out differently for me, because I thought the medieval stuff was pretty bad, and that it was clearly no more divinely inspired that a preschooler’s refrigerator magnet masterpiece.

At some point I remember thinking “if there was one god, wouldn’t the Indian temple artists and African tribal artists be making crucifixes and madonnas?” That’s Meslier’s question. Clearly, god isn’t trying very hard! Suddenly, a rather obvious simplifying assumption presents itself.

Comments

  1. says

    Dave@#1:
    Good point. I meant, of course, that the simple assumption is there’s no god at all. Though, given the information available to us, I suppose we could believe we are counters in some god-game like “Populous” in which god jerk us around for their amusement.

    Hmm, that brings me dangerously close to the “simulationist” heresy, doesn’t it?

  2. brucegee1962 says

    I don’t believe in any gods; however, if pressed on which theist hypothesis was more likely, it seems pretty obvious that polytheism is a lot more likely than monotheism.

    I can imagine the ancient Greeks looking around and saying “I’ve worked on committees before, and this world has all the hallmarks of something designed by one of them.”

  3. says

    brucegee1962@#3:
    I’m going to have to dub that “notpologetics”

    I definitely agree that the malicious god hypothesis makes more sense than the loving god hypothesis. I’d classify the comittee of gods theory as a form of malicious god. (Though I always loved the rendering of the gods of Asgard in “Erik the Viking”)

  4. John Morales says

    A universal God ought to have revealed a universal religion.

    Why?

    (There’s at least one hidden premise there)

  5. davex says

    Simulationist sounds reasonable. Though a god might get some tangible benefit from his simulation. Sometimes I think of this imperfect world like a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation: Maybe ‘God loves us” the way “Americans love chicken” We wouldn’t put chickens in a CAFO unless we loved them, right?

  6. John Morales says

    Owlmirror, heh.

    Marcus @6, that’s true, but not apposite.

    The peculiar inherent flaw of monotheism is that it posits a God that definitionally gets whatever it wants, so the ineluctable implication is that what actually exists is what it wants.

    Loki, Coyote, Ekwensu, or Anansi aren’t in that category — they exist and act within reality, rather than being the reality itself.

  7. says

    davex@#7:
    I guess that the operator of a given sim is, for all intents and purposes, god. With some limits – maybe god cannot make a sim so big that he cannot fill it, or something, because of the 256-bit architecture it’s running on. The “big bang” was just the “big reboot”…

  8. says

    John Morales@#9:
    The peculiar inherent flaw of monotheism is that it posits a God that definitionally gets whatever it wants, so the ineluctable implication is that what actually exists is what it wants.

    Is that universally the case with monotheisms, or just the judeochristianmuslimmormon monotheism? (I kind of stopped studying religions after mormonism and islam because Twain was right, it really is chloroform in print)

  9. John Morales says

    Marcus @11, far as I know, the deity with the omni- attributes is unique to the Abrahamic tradition (aka judeochristianmuslimmormon) — other traditions are essentially deistic though they may posit a creative something (e.g. Brahman in the Hindu tradition), but don’t ascribe personhood to that principle.

  10. John Morales says

    PS [and OT]

    (I kind of stopped studying religions after mormonism and islam because Twain was right, it really is chloroform in print)

    Admittedly absurdist religions are interesting; e.g. Discordianism.

    (They have the benefit that one can take them seriously yet have plausible deniability ;) )

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