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Ramble: Godless


godless(ADJECTIVE): Not believing in God.

I find the Oxford English dictionary primary definition of godless rather amusing: they capitalize the word god. Implying that godless is not to believe in the monotheistic Abrahamic God. Psst – it really is the lower case version of the word because it is general disbelief in god(s) of all stripes and flavours.

Looking at other dictionaries gets even more amusing since godless also means “evil or wicked”. “to be profane”. And a synonym of godless is atheist. A the joys of language – judgement passed without even making an accusation.

Now just to be clear I am not an atheist. An atheist is one who believes there is no god. It is an absolute conviction that there is no greater being, no creator, no primal consciousness of any kind. And well I just don’t know that, and I think we can never know the truth of that. And I think it doesn’t matter. That makes me an agnostic.

agnostic(NOUN): someone who does not know, or believes that it is impossible to know, if a god exists.

While I don’t know if there is a god at all, I am absolutely certain there is no such thing as a personal god. A god that walks along with you to guide and protect your life. After all, if god will protect me from all harm because of my faith, and protect your from all harm because of your faith. What happens when we go to war?

There could be a god, a creator, prime-mover. I just have no proof there is one. And even if there is one (or dozens) – a god has no need to spend their time monitoring and judging my actions. What a waste of an infinite mind to act as a cosmic voyeur tsk-tsking everything the little people chose to do in private. “Oh my god did you see that he put his thing in her thing and they had pleasure! And they aren’t even married”

That type of observation isn’t godly – it is simply being a peeping tom. Tsk tsk.

And in the end I guess that makes me godless. That doesn’t mean I don’t have an ethical or moral code to guide my life and my choices. I believe in the precept that we each should strive to “cause no harm.” Which is a great starting point until you end up in a conflict because you want cherry cola and I want plain cherry soda – and we can only have one bottle to share. One of us will be disappointed – and one of us will be “harmed” in some sense by that conflict. Yes it will be a minor snowflake of harm, and truly the single snowflake of harm is no great event. However, the infinite accumulation of snowflakes does tend to leave an impact of some sort. The point being that striving to “cause no harm” isn’t a complete moral code in itself. One needs more principles to navigate the complexity of humans and human interactions.

In that light my next guiding mantra is “find the greater good.” Sounds simple enough. And as slippery as all hell. What is “good” anyway? Who decides? How is it measured? And there you have me – I cannot completely define what “good” might be, or what makes something “better” than something else. Yet we all seem to have a shared sense of that concept of goodness; and what is harm. The reality is that sometimes in order to make things better there has to be a loser.

I am not sure I can take you any further in this ramble except to say there are no elegant perfect solutions to any of this. Just do your best to keep it simple and cause no harm whenever possible. And if that isn’t possible then share in the suffering.

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