Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A God of Hell and Hamnation

Horror movie: Execution by mega tsunami; Islamic State would love it!

The video above is the proud production of the fundamentalist ministry Answers in Genesis. It shows the destruction of Noachian communities by a huge continent enveloping tidal wave. But even taking the Genesis flood story literally it hardly conjures up a picture of a miles high tsunami. Rather, the Biblical impression is of waters rising and inundating. The meaning of the references to the "fountains of the deep" is unclear but it is interesting to note that AiG have filled in the ambiguity here with images true to their psyche. We are, after all, dealing with the imagination of personalities that have no inhibitions about imputing wickedness to those outside their community, a wickedness that, in their view, thoroughly deserves horrifying punishments and even eternal torture. What drives this taste for retribution and judgement seems to be a combination of group paranoia and narcissism. The paranoia sees malign agents and machinations behind the scenes (and provides a fertile ground for conspiracy theorism)  and the narcissism finds utmost personal offence in the slighting implicit in the rejection of fundamentalist teaching and, needless the say, the mocking they bring upon themselves.

The fundamentalist trait of projecting their sense of offence and vindictiveness on to God who then dishes out the most extreme forms of vengeance and punishment has, of course, been a big theme of this blog. Just a couple of references:

Fundamentalism, by definition, attracts personalities whose imagination doesn't bulk at thinking of God as the agent of extreme chastisement. But others will find in this depiction of God extreme repugnance. Interesting in this connection is the atheist reaction to the above video showing a divine orgy of destruction of men, women and their families. Here's how evangelical atheist PZ Myers sees Ken Ham and the vision of God he portrays:

Ken Ham’s ark is not going to be a happy story about cute baby animals. He really likes to play up the horror…….It’s the same story in the Creation “Museum”. When I went through it, I was rather repelled by the portrayal of what they imagined happened in their mythical flood: they almost gleefully show all the damned souls drowning and begging to get on the big boat, and they also show this heartwarming little video of what they think happened. Notice the innocent, happy people just living their lives when the giant wall of water sweeps over their village? They all died, and deservedly so, because God decreed it.
So no, Ham doesn’t sugar-coat the murder of innocents by his god, he revels in his righteousness, the sick fuck.
Also, think about what that video shows: a tsunami that sends a wave that is miles high, and that is so immense it crashes all the way to the center of the continent.
And his little wooden boat rides it out, no problem.

PZ Myers also published a YouTube by fellow evangelical atheist Rebecca Watson who Myers quotes as saying (My emphases):

For the record: I agree with Ken Ham. The Christian God is a horrible monster.
Ham is not in any way trying to contradict this reading of the Bible, and in fact the Ark is going to have an entire exhibit debunking the “dangerous” image of Noah as a happy old man surrounded by cute animals and rainbows. Ham wants people to know that it is not a happy children’s story — it is a horror film in which God literally commits mass murder, and he believes that it’s dangerous for kids to grow up thinking otherwise.

Given the modern existential crisis it ought to be no surprise that Myers and Watson think of faith as something akin to fairies at the bottom of the Garden. But perhaps that's just a little better than the idea that faith is about malevolent monsters at the bottom of the garden! All faith is a turn-off for the likes of Myers and Watson, but some faith puts them off more than others. Of  "Ken Ham's Scary Ass Ark Park" Watson says:

May be the Ark Park will be an atheist recruiting tool!

May be indeed! But let's get this straight: Watson and Myers are not evil and wicked people; In fact they are by human standards very moral people; only paranoiac fundamentalist narcissists can read their mocking of very human (and very flawed) expressions of faith as wickedness. Myers and Watson are no doubt subject to the standard human lot of annoying traits, failings and foibles we all have, but they no more deserve eternal torture than Ken Ham himself.  But for extreme fundamentalists like Ham it is not considered spiritually sufficient to break the implicit soteriological impasse here by turning to Christ in repentance and receiving God's forgiveness. For according to Ham whether they profess faith in God's grace or not, those who do not accept the divine authority of Ham's opinions have at best an inferior faith and at worst are in danger of being damned. See for example:

For myself I have a very different view of scriptural inspiration to the fundamentalists and of how the divine sovereign management of oral and written tradition works*: It is likely the Genesis flood story is a creative account (along with many other such stories, world wide) based on real events which made themselves felt over a very wide region of the Earth; may be it was the oral memory of the inundation at the end of the ice age, who knows. Since the ancient peoples who carried the oral tradition are not likely to have had a clear concept of a spherical Earth the limits of the flooding were unknown. These stories of flooding were then embellished with creative elements consistent with the spiritual world view and interests of the story tellers/writers; in particular a dominant theme in Genesis is, of course, of a severe judgmental God - a concept that connects with personalities like Ken Ham and readily finds a home in his stentorian psyche. The inspired spiritual and social lessons are, however, found at a different level: Those lessons tell us about disaster narratives conceived by a spiritually, epistemically and materially insecure mankind who without God or, more usually, with a false/inadequate conception of God and sometimes with a bad conscience has an innate sense of impending apocalypse and/or judgement. This existential anxiety, often dressed with Freudian mythical encryptions, has dogged humanity for time immemorial. We need to take note and make our peace with God.

* It is probably my views on this subject which disqualify me from the appellation "evangelical". 

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