Tuesday, October 12, 2004 +

Arthur Krystal

From “Why Smart People Believe in God”:

The God of colon and cervical cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, pus, phlegm, shit, chancre, stillbirth, crib death, poverty, famine, war, pestilence, race hatred, paralysis, constipation, incontinence, child molestation, floods, earthquakes, accidents, rape, mutilation, botched medical procedures, death marches, Zyklon-B, despair, and suicide is a God who has a lot to answer for. He’s got the whole world in His hands, and they’re covered with blood.

And if He exists, I hope I shall have the courage to tell Him off. Just because I may end up acknowledging Him doesn’t mean I have to approve of Him.

I doubt that many people try to reconcile these two visions of God: the amorphous unknowable Being and our resident genius loci. People drawn to God, but not to a specific faith, usually resolve the issue by opting in favor of the former and then trying to find links to bring Him closer to home or that make His unavailability more tenable. But the more ineffable the God, the fewer the links.

Those of us disinclined to believe have grown accustomed to His absence, and we pay but a small price for our uncertainty or feelings of abandonment as compared with writers such as Dostoyevsky and Camus, who either wrestled with their doubts or expressed the dismay of the decision they felt bound to make. Which of our writers or philosophers today are tortured by the prospect of having to make a choice?

The biblical god is out of the question, not because of intellectual scruples but because of a temperamental predilection to go it alone, if He is the alternative. “The one excuse for [this] God,” Stendahl remarked, “is that He does not exist.”

From “Here's Looking at You”:

Men who look like weasels don’t necessarily suck eggs, and women who look like angels can make life a living hell. But knowing this isn’t the same as believing it.