August 23rd, 2012Invisible Sky-Diceby Kevin O'Brien | http://www.thewordinc.org
I wrote early this morning about an atheist commenter's use of the really cool phrase Invisible Sky-Man. That's such a poetic phrase, and it really hits the spot.
It makes the believer pause for just a moment and say, "Wait a minute. My God is invisible and He does dwell in heaven, which is kind of like the sky, and He very well may well be simply a projection of my own humanity onto the blank canvas of the cosmos. Invisible Sky-Man is apt indeed. What I have been thinking all these years?!"
But the only reason this phrase works at all is how far we've fallen from reasoned discourse to mere sloganeering.
Take the case of other slogans - Right to Work, for example, is a catchy slogan used as a union-busting tool. A right to work must be a good thing - and if unions oppose this basic human dignity, unions must be a cause of great evil.
Right to Die is even better. It glosses over all the ugly details of killing those who have no say in the matter - like Terry Schiavo - and it asserts at the very least a right to kill one's self, which is surely a "right", but not one most people would endorse. For instance, if instead of saying Right to Die, the phrase was, Go Ahead and Jump Off a Bridge and Kill Yourself and Thereby Exercise a Basic Human Liberty, the "right to die" would have fewer supporters.
So with Invisible Sky-Man.
I pointed out in my previous post that the very word "invisible" is telling, for it implies that things that cannot be seen are less real than things that can. The microscopic cause of the Black Death (namely Yersinia pestis) could not be seen when it decimated Europe in the Middle Ages, but of course it was quite real despite being invisible to the naked eye. Even today, things like energy and force cannot be seen. Gravity cannot be seen. Love cannot be seen. Thinking cannot be seen (and for some people cannot be done). So invisible as a derogatory slap in the face is a rather weak one.
But in this post I want my readers to try on a new phrase I invented, which is actually a pretty good one.
The next time an atheist mocks you for believing in an Invisible Sky-Man, you could either point out that He became visible and walked among us and everything has been a wee bit different since then; or you could be just as nasty and say, "Well at least I don't believe in Invisible Sky-Dice." You could go on - "A giant pair of Invisible Sky-Dice dangling from the galactic rear-view mirror, fuzzy and tacky and forcing me and my loved ones into an existential game of Cosmic Craps."
And then you could explain. "You accuse me of worshipping an unseen anthropomorphic projection that I call God. Perhaps I do. But what do you worship? You worship something even more outlandish. You worship mere Chance, as if the random bumping together of bits of matter had any kind of meaning. Indeed, in your more lucid moments, you acknowledge that meaning is an illusion, the kind of thing weaker people project onto the heavens in their sad and pathetic false hope. And you admit that Chance can have neither meaning nor design. In fact, Chance by definition is the absence of intention; it is something that happens without anybody or anything making it happen; it is quite literally nothing. Chance is not an agent, Chance can do nothing. Chance is our word for things that just happen, either with a cause that we cannot determine, or with no cause at all. Dice are the perfect symbol for this. And in your world, the dice rule. In your world, everything is random and nothing is intentional and all pattern and meaning we perceive is but our own hunger for pattern and meaning thrust onto a universe that includes neither. I grant you your Chance, but I point out that your Chance is just as invisible as my Sky-Man. The role of the dice might demonstrate something random called Chance, but this thing you call Chance cannot be seen; its effects can, but it cannot - kind of like God. Likewise, all of biology from the point of view of a metaphysician might demonstrate design, but the design itself cannot be seen. Like love or gravity it's not a "thing", it's not a "material" thing; gravitons might be material, but the force they convey is not material. Love is utterly immaterial, though its effects are visible all around you. And Chance is the same. You worship Chance - an invisible pair of dice. You enthrone this Chance above all creation. You quite literally bow down before Invisible Sky-Dice."
And then you could go on to add the part about tacky and fuzzy and Cosmic Craps.
This is, of course, no direct argument for God, but it is at least the unpacking of a slogan that more aptly fits the materialist-atheist 20-year-old at Starbuck's, who's hopping on the wi fi as he sips his five-dollar latte, hoping to denude you of your medieval illusions.
And it goes by the principle of another slogan - What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.