god the all powerful: or something like that

Friday, November 14th, 2003

The issue of the nature of an all powerful or all knowing deity keeps coming up in BL, which is, of course, the reason for the Great Lettuce Head: tell me about the deity you might ask and I’ll say: he’s green and has lots of leaves; other than that I’m silent on the issue.

I think we had an incredible discussion about this in brit lit. Honestly, I have no idea how to deal with Milton’s audacity or genius in the face of the nature of the Christian deity, who knows all and for whom, in human conception all paths have yet to be taken, are being taken, and will be taken. Bacon would say, “Do you think you can grasp such an idea with a human metaphor? Go back and read my book and the section on Idols of the Tribe. Then check out my riffs on Cave and Theater: personal bias and perception; and myth and incomplete or indeterminate systems and logic.” In religious conception we could certainly go with Neha and Jenn’s buggy computer program metaphor that God created an imperfect world. We could work with that as a model, but my point in class was that in terms of the conception of God such a metaphor is only useful to a point. If the deity is all knowing and powerful then there would be no bugs. What we see as bugs tells us more about the limitations of the metaphor, as Hugh would claim. That Satan is a part of a plan is also limited (both of these metaphors are insightful thought; I don’t mean to say that they aren’t; nor does the issue of will and choice and determination negate valid questions about human nature) in that plan suggests “incompleteness” or process but God in Milton’s world already knows the answers. Plans are for rodents and humans.

Milton must write a deity within a linear narrative yet is also beyond the moment. Dr. Manhattan is contrained by his knowledge. Nor does he know everything; there’s no indication that he knows anything beyond his own immediate experience past, present, future. In McCarthy the judge is an entirely different animal than Satan. The nature of the judge is part of the problem of Blood Meridian. In a way, the judge is more frightening than the Fiend.


One response to “god the all powerful: or something like that”

  1. susan says:

    There is no doubt that Gods charm lies in His promise of an afterlife. The two concepts are inextricably tied and selfishly, we care more about one than the other. Man is very familiar with the end of life, but has no tools to substantiate anything beyond it. Eternity is an ego trip that is highly preferable to thinking, thats it, all done. Belief in spirits, visions, the great tunnel of lighteven those eyewitness accounts are questioned unless one has seen them himself. I was never angrier with my mother than when she stopped breathing and didnt let me know that she was still there somehow. This, after I spent an hour telling her it was okay to go. Did I want my guilt assuaged or did I want a sneak peek at confirmation of a learned belief, I dont know, but she supposedly loved me in life and youd think she would have let me know. But the human need to believe still could not accept her silence as evidence that there is nothing there to believe in. Perhaps she was not allowed, perhaps she was so taken with whats out there that it was superior to a mothers love. Still then, no reason to doubt nor believe, and we are left dangling.

    Belief in a God necessarily keeps some people honest. I am in awe of those agnostics who are still good and decent people. The judge in Blood Meridian appears to believe in God, yet murders and scalps a young Apache boy who minutes earlier he had been playing with. He buys two puppies from a village boy and promptly drops them in the river. Is this lack of faith or is it an incredible show of challenge and scorn in the face of what human existence has proven itself to be at the time. For the judge, can there truly exist a Godsupposedly smarter, more powerful, but also more loving and fair than any man is capable of beingwho would allow such goings on? The judge, I believe is daring Him to show proof. And it aint comin.