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“God is dead. . . And we have killed him. . . . Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? — “Nietzsche
Appeasing the Gods
Human beings have a long history of worship, of seeking to secure some certainty in the face of forces beyond their control: wind and weather, wild beasts, and things that go bump in the night.
Through ritual and sacrifice, people tried to control the unknown, to shape the world to their liking: to survive and thrive.
The means have been varied: shamanic dancing, religious chanting, alchemy, animal sacrifice, and even cannibalism, whereby warriors sought to assimilate the virtues of their respected and formidable enemies.
To many, the whole of the natural world was sacred, each animal, tree, or blade of grass. The very ground on which they stood was imbued with religious significance. They had mythic names for each feature of the local geography.
Each mountain was a magic mountain.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, From whence cometh my help. — Psalms, King James Bible
Over time, slouching toward what we now call ‘civilization,’ polytheism gave way to monotheism. One god to rule us all. A giant bearded paterfamilias even if, occasionally, God the Father displayed some of the characteristics of The Godfather.
Sooner or later, as the priest kings of old were stalked and killed in the sacred grove by the new god king, the old monolithic and wrathful God of the Old Testament was bound to be dethroned.
So, what’s a worshipper to do? The urge to worship is deep, so something or someone must be found to fill the power vacuum of a people ‘alone in a hostile world’ as Karen Horney describes the basic mind-set of the neurotic.
If one feels powerless—or at least not powerful enough—to cope with life’s dangers, be they physical or social, one must find the most powerful force with whom to ally oneself.
If God the Father made man in his own image, why cannot a mighty man create God in his own image. Indeed, why cannot he be a veritable god himself? The king is dead. Long live the king!
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties, in form and moving
how express and admirable, in action
how like an angel, in apprehension
how like a god!
— Shakespeare, Hamlet
Man As God
In times past, kings and emperors took unto themselves powers that were almost god-like in their scope. Caligula forced the Roman Senate to worship him as a god.
If you are a Roman emperor you can get away with that, at least until your kingdom comes crashing about your ears.
For most people, however, the declaration ‘I am God’ would land you drooling in the corner of a psychiatric day-room, doped up to the gills with powerful pharmaceuticals.
The key to pulling off this caper is the amount of power you have at your disposal. As might makes right, the more power you have the more ‘right you are, if you think you are.’ You decide what reality is, and the faithful must believe in their god, and his pronouncements from his own personal Olympus.
Bamboozling the World
If you have wealth beyond the wildest dreams of avarice, media companies, advanced technology and legions of scientists at your command, the world is literally your oyster. You are ‘king of the world.’ What you say goes, and the common herd dutifully swallows your version of reality, submissively bleating: ‘Yes sir, no sir. Three bags full, sir!’
Insanity Turned on its Head
When the lunatics are in charge of the asylum, what was insane becomes sane; sanity becomes insanity—even criminally insane. Some will be considered dangerous terrorists, akin to heretics of old, insofar as they disturb the delicate equilibrium of the madhouse.
Reality is defined by the most powerful and, in a culture that reveres power, the powerful are revered, even worshipped, and their word is law, the revealed gospel truth.
Naturally, when flattered by nearly universal reverential kowtowing, ego-inflated, megalomaniac master magicians believe their own publicity. They believe, in fact, that they are ‘as gods,’ joining the other worshippers in worshipping themselves.
Now they have formed their own religious sect, and evangelized most of the known world, there is no stopping them—no chance they will come to their senses this side of the grave. They may even believe they have found the elusive ‘Fountain of Youth’ and achieved immortality.
So, like ‘Mad King George,’ they will require a force and a will greater than their own to destroy their diabolical delusions, along with their illusory virtual world, before they destroy us all, and the very real and beautiful planet we live on.
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S.M. Smyth was a founding member of the 2006 World Peace Forum in Vancouver, and organized a debate about TILMA at the Maple Ridge City Council chambers between Ellen Gould and a representative of the Fraser Institute.