George Jonas: It ain’t easy being God

 George Jonas is always a good read and his column on being God is no exception. The gist of the column is that Mr. Jonas describes a dream he had – and only the credulous think he really had a dream – in which he was God and got to read everyone’s prayers.  Some choice quotes are below to give you the idea but take the time to read the  June 15 column in National Post at http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/author/gjonasnp/

“I was disappointed, though. Frankly, the prayers were embarrassing”

 “It isn’t mendicants who embarrass me as God; it’s people who pray for faith. Specifically, those who demand to see my ID, so to speak. These good folk want to believe, but would feel silly if they believed in a God who didn’t exist — why, Christopher Hitchens might mock them — so they ask for a sign.”

 “People who wait for a sign usually mean a “miracle” — in other words, a suspension of a law of nature. Why would a suspended law confirm the existence of God better than an operating law? Search me.”

George Jonas is very smart and starts his column by saying that he is not religious so why is engaging in apologetics and why is he using the ‘operating law’ line of reasoning.  I’m curious to hear your answers.  I’ll tell you mine.

 The ‘operating law’ proof of God reveals something of Jonas’ conservative nature, not that he tries to hide it. Conservatives tend to believe that the universe has rules for society and the economy, that must be obeyed just as the rules of physics must be obeyed. They use history as evidence for these rules thus Jonas would be familiar with the many creation stories. The ancients believed that Zeus or Odin brought order out of chaos.  YHWH was a step up from that because he first created the Heavens and the Earth but they were without form and void which he soon corrected.   So to the ancients an ordered universe was evidence of God. To the non-religious conservatives, like Jonas, the stories of a god bringing order are evidence for a deep longing among the ancients – and people today, since people don’t change – for order. This is seen as a confirmation of conservative ideals and it is why Jonas would be familiar with the idea.

 More interesting to me than the specific apologetical argument that Jonas is using is the fact that he is arguing. He is not religious so why defend the existence of God. Mr. Jonas may have other things going on but I’m fairly sure of one purpose. George Jonas is a conservative apologist. While he himself is not religious be recognizes religious people as being natural allies of conservative ideology.  As a rule conservatives take a long term view of things (this is why people tend to become more conservative as they grow older). Who takes a longer term view then the religious with their, work in this life for a reward in the next life values. The religious also believe in some form of reward commensurate with behavior. This is also how conservatives view things. Religious people and non-religious conservatives both have a ‘that’s the way the world works’ view of the world, though for different reasons.  For instance, It would be very nice if the pharmaceutical companies would keep developing new drugs out of the goodness of their heart so we can break the patents and have cheap drugs but ‘That’s not the way the world works’.

 Where the religious and the non-religious conservatives usually disagree is over morals. The religious tend to believe in moral laws that are as immutable as economic laws. Just as economic conservatives are against monopolies because the cause harm to the economy and thus to society, moral conservatives are against divorce etc. because they also cause harm to society and again ‘that’s just the way the world works’.

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