COLUMN: Advocatus Dei

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to CacheValleyDaily.com. His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

<em>“What does God need with a starship?”</em>

—-Captain James T. Kirk, USS Enterprise.

For the better part of four centuries, any historic figure who was a candidate for sainthood in the Roman-Catholic religion was put on trial In absentia. One lawyer, appointed by the Church, was to argue against that person’s deeds and the miracles attributed to them. They were known as the advocatus diaboli. The Devil’s Advocate.

In this column, I will promote the cause of God. I will be the advocatus dei. God’s Advocate.

I never felt comfortable calling myself an atheist. I feel no stigma when telling people I do not believe in the existence of an omnipotent deity. I worry not about persecution. It has more to do with the fact that I find I cannot make a completely logical argument against an afterlife, or any animate being that may live there. I do not think there is an afterlife, but I have no proof for or against the premise.

Add to that, the term agnostic is one I have shied away from because it just seems so wimpy. Agnostics are the people who buy a container of ice cream with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Choose one flavor and stick with it!

An oft-utilized argument in favor of religion, or the simple belief in a god, is based mostly (if not entirely) on faith. I will agree with that. And I have little problem with those who adhere to that supposition.

My skepticism for both the mission statement and the apparatus by which it is implemented is too resolute to go on faith.

Faith is not enough. Having faith in those who would wield power over me in the name of this invisible deity comes off as nothing short of illogical.

And the texts used to declare the word, will and law of God? They have more plot holes and contradictions than all of the Christopher Nolan movies combined.

This sounds like an argument against religion—and it is. So, what is my argument in favor of a belief in God? That is two-pronged.

Firstly, God makes things easier. The great French philosopher Voltaire once said that “If God did not exist, we would have to invent him.” There is profound truth to that. God, or more to the point, the belief in God, creates social order.

That social order, which binds believers and nonbelievers alike into communities, commands the vast majority of people into an adherence to laws. It is one thing to serve a jail sentence for manslaughter; it is a decidedly worse thing to know that you will be damned for all eternity..

This is a great thing for people like me. I get to walk the streets of the world with an unshakeable impunity, knowing that those who believe in God will not kill me. God forbids it.

The second reason for defending God, even without tangible proof that He is there, is that most atheist’s pugnacity is too overwhelming to allow them to know they are right.

Atheists and Libertarians: two collectives who could never win graciously if compelled to do so with the offer of free candy. I am all for the act of stupefying smugness when climbing the pedestal to receive your gold medal. What I refuse to condone is using that medal to beat in the heads of the silver and bronze medalists on the podium.

Does anyone think if atheists were proven right that they would rule the planet with any sense of gracious benevolence towards religious adherents? It would be the living embodiment of Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” All humans are equal, but if you go to church we are going to throw eggs at you.

Mind you, I am not saying atheists lack morals, nor humanity. Quite the contrary. As someone who does not believe in God, I believe myself to be a highly moral man. And my humanity is not based on a coupon given to me by God granting me passage to heaven via the express lane.

My humanity comes from an innate desire to be nice to people. Needing to find favor with God does not compel me to ask if I can help someone having a bad day. That is a contraption of my identity and character.

I believe most atheists think like me. But they are tired of having their lives relegated to a stereotype. LIke most humans, they refuse to accept second class citizenship for the beliefs they profess to—constructed through the natural process of reasoned thought.

Someday, my ilk will run the world. We need to let go of the bitterness from our oppression before I will view that as a happy day.

Atheists (Or should I call us non-theists?) need God in our lives. We need to continue to reap the benefits of a social order that allows us to blithely go about our unbelieving business. We need religious people to pray for our souls on Sundays while we are out cavorting and making merry.

Pragmatism is the best virtue of a literate mind. As such, I make this argument for the continued belief in God and all the fruits of peaceful living that can come with it.

And if God does not like my argument, He can tell me about that Himself. I doubt that will ever happen. If you disagree, well, I am happy to hear that you do.

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