Imam: Because you do not believe in God does not mean God does not believe in – .
Riddick: Think someone could spend half their life in a slam with a horse bit in their mouth and not believe? Think he could start out in some liquor store trash bin with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and not believe? Got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God… And I absolutely hate the fucker. – Riddick in ‘Pitch Black’
Actually, my first memory of God-blame in Spec Fiction was decades ago in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever. The Riddick quote is there only for pith’s sake. (And that I’m an otherwise fan)
There’s a long, tired tradition of characters crowing against the Creator from the moral high-ground of their personal indignation over injustice, suffering and horror. I stumbled across another just last night, in fact.
My issue wasn’t so much it’s presence, (like I said, it’s a common-enough trope) but that it was so blatantly disingenuous. The novel’s mythology/theology centered around the unspecified but nonetheless ‘strict’ worship of a Goddess, with a stereotypical cruel, hypocritical clergy manipulating a naive, devout flock. Then prior to a dramatic confrontation, our rugged hero launched into a soliloquy castigating God (male deity) as a lunatic Creator consenting to horrific exploitation in his name, somehow directly responsible for a personal tragedy, and who’s generally complicit in all suffering and anguish.
Look, I get Theodicy and the ancient question of the existence of evil. People with intimate experiences, people who have confronted evil ask a profound and valid question. My heart can’t handle the everyday tragedies paraded on the news, let alone those that never make the top of the hour. My concerns here is with characters who otherwise ignore, despise, and disobey “God”, mock faith and devotion, yet throw Him up against the wall with impassioned fervency the instant tragedy strikes. They obviously ‘believe’, (why rage against a non-existent entity?) but God is their whipping boy, their scapegoat, an ironic justification for atheism.
Perhaps I’m being hyper-sensitive. Or getting snarky over inconsistent plot and characterization. What do I expect from a cheap, easy read by a non-believing author? Maybe I need to lighten up.
My problem is the gymnastics of self-justification. Flaccid logic posing as intellectually rigorous integrity, meaninglessness touted as profundity. I’m weary of the double-standard that approves certain ‘definite worldview statements’ yet denounces orthodox devotion as superstition. I’m tired of empty victories over straw men. I’m tired of faith enough to blame accompanied by recalcitrant conceit that won’t own it’s own decisions.
All the more reason to keep faith and Christianity explicit in my own work.
My studies in Speculative philosophy, metaphysics, and science are all summed up in the image of a mouse called man running in and out of every hole in the Cosmos hunting for the Absolute Cheese.– Benjamin DeCasseres
2 Replies to “Faith to Blame”
What gets me in the same way about science fiction is that you’ll get writers who blame faith for a lot of things, but in the next breath draw up a world without it that is absolutely horrible to live in for anyone but a small transgressive elite. What actually got me to stop reading it for a bit was Stephenson’s Snow Crash and that little passage about the guy running a franchise of the Junior Mafia. After that, who CARES what adolescent stuff Hiroanki Protagonist does? All the hackers in the world can’t really erase the horror of that little moment.
It’s like “You blame God, but without him you create a world in which only a few great men have power to act and the rest are sheep or worse? Why is this better again?”
Ah yes. I have to wonder if these otherwise thoughtful people realize how “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” * their lives would be without the rule of law and concept of transcendence – let alone absent the virtues that spring from the character of God.
The other template that kills me is incessant flogging of traditional faith/theology only to stake a claim on pagan mythology or some nebulous, pseudo-spirituality. Bernard Cornwell for example, perpetually mocks Christians and their joyless, Nailed God, yet demands his protagonists die sword in hand to guarantee their welcome into Valhalla. And then there’s Dogma = Bad, The Force = Good.
* props to Thomas Hobbes