On the Creation and Toleration of Human Gods
Post from March 2, 2017 (↻ March 24, 2017), reflecting Jens the Human and Citizen.
How do you call someone who can do whatever they want, when they want, and must not fear any consequences? How do you call who own half of the world, or more? How do you call people who are effectively immune to prosecution—think recession bankers (mostly)—and to lecturing—think ethically challenged celebrities (I just cleared my browsing history)?
Figure: On that note, German readers may enjoy the excellent guest talks for the University of Hamburg’s 2016/2017 Lügenpresse lecture series.
If we are to discount the idea of immortality (in physical reality), would it be far-fetched to call those who match these descriptions gods?
If this is true, how are these gods created, and why do we tolerate them?
We create gods, an ad hoc explanation, when we either severely exaggerate or severely neglect values. Without the exaggeration of individualism and material wealth, and without the neglect of character and solidarity we might already be talking about a world in which there’s much less need and much less incentive for people to free-wheel and amass fortunes that are not only never needed, but actively harm others, and neither to display a conduct (nor to celebrate such) that is rather pathetic (to rather be called out as such).
Why we tolerate gods, then, may have the same reasons—a distorted value system—, but doesn’t follow logically: There could be many ways how we deal with people who prima facie reach god status. Why do we allow for people to own a million times more than others (this can never be justified in terms of achievements)? Why do we allow people who kill, who cause extensive harm to evade prosecution? Why do we allow people to walk away after wilfully, knowingly trampling on our values?
Perhaps this recurs back to our value system once more, a value system in which we give people who possess money or status power, but the way this is phrased should hint at possibilities, for it’s us who assign this power; we don’t have to do that, and neither is this the only option. We don’t need human gods, and we should stop tolerating them: developing our character, re-establishing our values, and peaceful protest are three good ways to get those of us who we’ve all permitted to fly a little (much) too high back to the ground. And yet, that’s not going to be a quick and easy feat.
Update (March 24, 2017)
There is, “of course” I almost quipped, another interesting angle when it comes to human god-likeness, one I’ll touch just slightly:
[…]the idolization of man is actually what has happened in the development of modern industrialism, and with increasing rapidity in the last decades. By knowing the secrets of nature, man feels that he becomes omniscient; and by controlling nature, he becomes omnipotent. The creation of nature by God is followed by the creation of a second nature by man. The denial of God is followed by the elevation of man into the role of God.
—Erich Fromm: On Being Human.
About the Author
Jens Oliver Meiert is a philosopher and developer (Google, W3C, O’Reilly). He experiments with art and adventure. Here on meiert.com he shares and generalizes and exaggerates some of his thoughts and experiences.
On March 2, 2017, 20:24 CET, N said:
Why would immortality be seen as a prerequisite for god-hood?
Simply existing doesn’t denote anything other than to exist in this case forever…
but then maybe we are just in awe of something we cant do yet…
Probably once simply flying was enough to promote oneself to godhood.
On March 3, 2017, 16:56 CET, Jeff said:
If the question is rhetorical, then I say “yeah, why?” I attribute the tolerance to, what I call, “the american dream conundrum”. I am not referencing an American with goals and ambition here. Rather, the idea that, if I work hard and apply myself, I can be like that God (referenced as one with power and money and lack of character). The thought might sound like this, “someday I will have enough money to buy that Maserati. If I get pulled over for speeding, the cop will not give me a ticket because of the donations my estate has made to the precinct”. If one aspires to be something then they must support those that alreday have it.