Yep, it’s the big one. Goodings is tackling the concept of God. Make room, open the hangar doors of your preconceptions, and let me unload my truth freight into your shipping bay of ignorance. So, let’s decide once and for all, is there a god? Nah I’m joking, I don’t fucking know. I just like to pretend I’m the annoying sort of atheist that sneers at people who hold religion dearly. But actually, I’ll happily sneer at anyone, I don’t discriminate. Black or white, gay or straight, religious or normal.
The idea of god is interesting, and the concept that some people need a higher power as an arbiter of morality and truth. I don’t mean that as a criticism. There are loads of day to day things that I read on the modern-day deity of the Internet, and like a chump, I just believed them when they are obviously false. I mean, I once read that Einstein abandoned his theory of the cosmological constant as a static universe stabiliser, and for a second I was like ‘Oh yeah that makes sense.’ But then I was just like, ‘Hello! What about the shifted wavelengths of light in between accelerating galaxies that point to dark energy as the cause for an expanding universe?!’ Boy was my face red! Redder than the redshift of the light stretched by dark energy! Haha!
Similarly I recently typed into Google: ‘do spiders eat their own legs?’ And the results amounted to a lengthy version of ‘yes, sometimes’. And now I am entirely convinced that all spiders eat all of their legs all the time. Although that also seems obvious.
But the idea of people needing something to worship is interesting, and not in a BDSM way. For example, the ‘higher power’ needed to complete the twelve step programme for addiction can easily be a religious god. But without having a faith, I have no idea what my higher power would be. The main commandments I regularly surrender to are the cooking instructions on the back of ready meal packaging. And the only thing that can offer me as clean-living advice is the nutritional information on the front, warning me of the dangers of eating ready meals.
I suppose your higher power can be your own well-being, as though you are worshipping the platonic ideal of your own potential, which feels pretty narcissistic. It’s essentially what Matthew McConaughey said in that awards acceptance speech about looking up to a version of himself ten years in the future, who has more wisdom and perspective. A nice idea if you’re Matthew McConaughey, but very few of us are. The ideal version of me ten years from now just looks much more tired, with more wrinkles, but with another 500 blogs written ostensibly about highbrow concepts, but with numerous digressions into self-referential bullshit.
Julian Jaynes has a controversial theory that what humans used to call ‘gods’ three-thousand years ago and earlier, was actually the result of something called the ‘bicameral mind’, which if you’re any sort of discerning legend and have seen the Westworld TV show, you may have heard of. A bicameral mind is a human mind before consciousness. And according to the theory, under stressful, unprecedented situations, we would hear an internalised voice providing advice that felt like it wasn’t under our control, like a form of schizophrenia, or a guided meditation podcast. These voices were attributed to gods, whispering assistance inside our minds on how to deal with a never before seen threat, like a horse with a guy on top, or a blue telephone box landing out of nowhere, producing some old white guy who decides to stick his fucking nose into everyone’s business.
If it seems difficult to imagine someone with no level of insight or self-reflection, essentially running on autopilot, who feels as though they’re constantly under the scrutiny of some remote intelligence, just watch Gogglebox and you’ll see it.
Jaynes also uses the example of the feeling you get after a short, habitual drive where you realise you weren’t ‘tuned in’ during the journey, even if you remember it, known as ‘Highway Hypnosis’. He says this is us behaving without consciousness, enacting a routine task that you do so regularly you hardly have to think about it. In my case that would be something incredibly commonplace like writing a great blog post, or receiving a shower of compliments about my latest great blog post. Also forgetting to take the bins out. Happens so often I hardly have to try now. Don’t even realise I’m not doing it.
I imagine it would be very comforting having a god to look to for guidance, but if Jaynes is right, then that guidance attributed to gods was just coming from our own brains. We are the masters of our own destiny. We are our own messiahs. What I’m saying is, as far as I’m concerned, I’m God. I am the ultimate architect of my own reality, irrespective of whether or not that tallies with a possible objective reality. Maybe McConaughey was right, and I’m the only inspiration I need. Maybe I should strive to be the best version of myself, drowning in success and fulfilment, a subjective god of personal direction.
Really feels like God would have a greater blog readership than this. I blame Richard Dawkins.
Next time on the bandwagon, if radiators radiate, and indicators indicate, do alligators alligate? The answer may surprise you, if you thought the answer was ‘yes’.