Monday, August 29, 2016

Big Brother and God

In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, Big Brother is the tyrannical, unseen leader of the Party. His image is everywhere, displayed on posters, coins and even cigarette packs, not to mention in the omnipresent telescreen bulletins. There is no escaping. No escaping him, or rather his Thought Police. I am not the first, naturally, to find a resemblance with the god of the Bible here. Of course, his real life inspiration is clearly Josef Stalin, who ruled over the Stalin Union much like a god on earth world, to the point of worshipful devotion from the people.

Big Brother is but a pale shadow of the Biblical god however. Vast as his power is, he remains limited by mortal constraints. Though his minions can brainwash and destroy even the memory of a person, at least in death they are free. No such limitation applies to the Biblical god, naturally. He can pursue you into the grave. God's power is unlimited, and so no one could escape, unlike Big Brother. Like the minions of Big Brother, God demands love from his subjects or be horribly punished. Yet Big Brother can only punish by brainwashing, death and destroying the memory of a person. God can do so with eternal torment. 

Thankfully, just as Nineteen Eighty Four indicates that Big Brother is not a person, but merely the embodiment of the Party, so too it does not seem the Biblical god exists as more than a concept. It is also clear that God, or at least his devotees, are well versed in the concept of doublethink. "God loves all people unconditionally, yet if you do not believe in or love him he will torment you forever" and so on. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order once even said "We should even believe that black is white, if the hierarchic Church defined it thus." Orwell uses this same example to define the idea of doublethink: blackwhite, the ability to think black is white, and vice versa, even at the same time. 

Airstrip One, the renamed England of Nineteen Eighty Four, is officially atheist, as was the Soviet Union. This is claimed by many believers to be evidence that atheism causes terrible things. While this ignores the fact that atheism was just one aspect of the Marxist ideology, and does not actually necessitate atrocities nor anything else, I hope this shows that a world with the Biblical god would be far worse. Stalin, Hitler and co., bad as they indeed were, could not hold a candle to how this being is described to us. The claim that such a being is all-good and all-loving simply makes this worse, an insidious doublethink that torments the mind. His devotees are quite real, unfortunately, many with a devotion that would make Big Brother very proud. We can only be happy that at least the object of devotion himself appears to exist only in their minds. 

Return to Blogging

It's been over three years since I posted on this blog. Posts were infrequent in those days, but much has changed in my life since then. I write much more, and some of my thoughts are fodder for blog posts. Much of my outlook has also changed. So it seems like a good thing to take up again. Just an update for anyone who may read this and wonder about the long gap in posting.