In the beginning, let me address our religious friends who are continuously preaching about their tolerant faith and its openness to contain all the straying souls from god’s flock. Now, if god is that merciful and generous, his followers will have to be patient with all those hesitant folks who wish to search for the truth and make up their own minds through their own intellectual endeavor rather than just enter into the complacent comforts of a given faith. And if this strong and mighty god is capable of leading whomever he chooses to him, wouldn’t that mean that perhaps one of the manifestations of his wisdom is to create individuals who do not believe in him? If that is the case, believers will then have to stop their preaching, resort to silence and resign themselves to their god’s will, He who better knows the mysteries ways of the unknown.
What exactly is bothering the faithful and believers? Aren’t they well at ease in god’s infinite embrace? Why would they feel threatened by that which lies beyond their religious world?
I think that the reason behind the resentment some believers express towards those who do not share their faith has something to do with the possibilities open to atheists to roam freely and unrestrained in those infinite divine realms, in the entire universe while exploring the very meaning of freedom.
Slaves would wish nothing more than to see everyone else partaking in their slavish condition. They will always covet life and liberty and eye those who break free from oppression with spite and malice. To slaves, liberty is a dream that is neither realized nor even understood. Their intellect is incapable of grasping anything beyond words and imagery inscribed in their holy book, unable to make sense of their own dreams and feelings. Understanding is reached through affects, here understood as a mediator that transforms inner energy into acts.
Understanding or perception is in itself a constructive and creative impulse and this is exactly what most religious minds lack. Believers do not possess crucial intellectual skills to help them engage with the experience of creativity. They always surrender to words and expressions that were thought and written a long time ago. I don’t think that the problem resides in faith itself. The real problem is in the very complacent and obedient psyche of the faithful who are willing to accept all that is dictated to them. They lack the competence to translate and perceive events from the lens of science and logic.
I sometimes wonder why some individuals who belong to certain societies and more specifically religious ones, seem to find new ideas disturbing. This manifest resistance is symptomatic of a chronic pathology closely connected with their belief and with the god they worship. This god is projected in the image of an immutable, absolute and perfect entity. This imagery is very close to the hearts of our faithful brothers who would lavish all kinds of virtues and praise on their chosen god. But is this god truly great and tyrannical as they say? Is he really capable of making anything happen, omnipotent and so powerful to the point that he rewards his followers with victory over the unfaithful?
But let us first take a close look at this god from a purely objective perspective. Let us see how his own followers describe him. This anthropomorphic god seems to be suffering from a set of human psychological complexes such as sadism, irritation, self-aggrandizement and arrogant pride. Take a look at some of his ninety-nine ‘Beautiful Names’: Allah, Al-Muhaymin: the all seeing, all-powerful One. Al-Jabbar: the One that nothing happens in His Dominion except that which He willed. This word literally means tyranny and oppression. Al-Mutakabbir literally means the haughty one but here thought to reflect the idea of god occupying a higher order above his creatures. Al-Qahhar: the Subduer who has the perfect Power and is not unable over anything. Al-Muthil: the one who gives esteem to whoever He willed, hence there is no one to degrade Him; And He degrades whomever He willed, hence there is no one to give Him esteem. Al-Qawiyy: the One with the complete Power. Al-Muqtadir: the One with the perfect Power that nothing is withheld from Him. Al-Muntaqim: the One who victoriously prevails over His enemies and punishes them for their sins and has the power to destroy them.
This selection from Allah’s pantheon of ‘Beautiful Names’ brings to mind a human rather than a divine and supernatural character. Similarly, when we try to compile an inventory of this god’s illnesses, I don’t think we will ever see the end of that lengthy list for days to come. But what is more important is to understand the reasons behind god’s afflictions with these chronic pathologies. The truth is that these attributes have nothing to do with god. They all stem from human conflicts and the desire of the few to exert their control and power over the many or simply over each other. In another sense, the idea of god is the direct outcome of the relentless human pursuit of knowledge and perfection. God is that objectified idea of absolute knowledge and absolute mastery and perfection that humanity sets outside and before its own self.
The sense of impotency and fear may have been completely understandable when felt by the first humans because they still haven’t evolved towards a more advanced stage of perception and understanding. But things are different now and yet we persevere in holding on to old beliefs and values that clash with our modern world. Such values have become unethical and their increasing ugliness is best illustrated in acts of religious, racial and gender discrimination. It has of course extended to speciesism at a time when we are seeking to understand more comprehensive and post-human values that include all living creatures.
Let me come back once more to the question of god’s chronic pathologies usually misrepresented as His divine attributes. The morbid fascination with destruction and hypocrisy in the guise of truthfulness and generosity, are human psychological pathologies. These are the attributes of those who are seeking to control by all ferocious means, their fellow men and women. One of the characteristics of this collective (divine) illness is the persistence of one point of view and one narrow angle of vision. This limited perception is unable to see or hear the other’s ideas and opinions; it is very irritable and violent and would not refrain from putting to death anything that clashes with it. The bearers of this perception and its inheritors cannot conceive of thought outside the sphere of their religions and cultures. They are so far removed from that clement, peaceful, generous and all-loving One. Am I wrong in thinking that the very existence of this One is predicated on the numbing and obliteration of our intellects?
If I am wrong in my judgment about this god perhaps because I am so ignorant about his essence, aren’t his followers better off if they were forgiving like Him rather than intolerant and hostile towards all those who disagree with them? Why are they always defending their god? Isn’t He supposed to be capable of protecting Himself? When they do not leave the matter of deciding the fate of the non-believers to god, aren’t they contradicting themselves and doubting god’s power?
I think that in their hearts, believers cannot rely on such a frail and weak god who cannot harm even a small fly. They are in constant inner turmoil, torn between mind and myth, science and ignorance. But because of their strong desire to belong to a collective container, they start erecting that divine wall and then implant it in their deeper unconscious thoughts where it becomes a bottomless abyss. This is how a doomed path opens up before them, the path of misery, spitefulness and fables. Here they are, unable to reconcile themselves with their inner impulses and desires. These drives seem to be banished from the outside world and practiced in a secret inner world with pathological vengeance. Yes, they are unable to control their biological needs.
According to Wilhelm Reich, the religious mechanism to which inexperienced individuals and groups resort as a means to understand the world and make inferences about what happens around them can collapse at any moment. When this happens, various options to discover and make sense of life opens up before the intellect. Life and liberty are not two different things and neither of them is given. We can only get closer to them after successive attempts to understand and make sense of them in rational and logical ways.
We need to pay attention to the subtle mechanisms of brainwashing operated by the spiritual and political leaders along side the collective social body. Our most privileged electronic pages and print newspapers seem to reflect an active engagement with research and publication. The truth is that none of it has anything to do with culture and freethinking. Their readers are constantly dumbed down; breathing the cancerous poisons of religious faith or entertained with the usual tabloid stories. It is rather laughable when you constantly hear the same question on why Arab nations are still incapable of partaking in or contributing to development and progress. Such things however can never be born out of the culture of the immutable and divine perfect One. The politics of oppression whether practiced by religious or political power has the same origin and causes. We cannot ask for any form of freedom without securing the intellectual and cultural freedom of the individual. We need to embrace individualism and the emancipation of men and women from all obstacles and chains that stand between them and their creative impulses. We need to embrace ethics that are born out of the self and diminish the influence of mandatory ethics inculcated by religious texts. Perhaps we need to build our ethics on a more open and comprehensive connection with all living creatures rather than with a god of our own making.
Now more than any other time, we need to shake off the dust of fear from within our deeper thoughts. We need to say no to all forms of power trying to shackle the individual to keep him humiliated and subjected to a condition of perpetual slavery. No ethical grounds can be found in a man or woman stripped of their humanity, curled up in their religious, racial or gendered carapace. If both believers and atheists among us are united by the same pursuit to defeat oppression and injustice, we then have to say no to all its forms and practices. There is no freedom without the reliance on self-criticism, inferences and judgment and all that must come from the individual him or herself. We need to believe in ourselves first and then delve deeper in our human depths to find that little ego disguised as a god.
In conclusion, I can only say that our Arab cultures will always remain subjected to humiliation and oppression as long as they own nothing other than god. Our cultures with their diverse but antagonistic religious faiths derive their sole solace from the false pride of being the cradle of three major religions, of being god’s elect people, the people He has chosen to remain tucked by his side and lost in their infinite slumber.