SMOKE: Could Humanity Handle No God?
Originally published: 18 October 2005
Let me preface this article by asking for your co-operation when it comes to suspension of disbelief.
If you believe in God - in whatever form - you no doubt believe it is impossible to prove that God doesn't exist. You'd be a right fool otherwise, wouldn't you?
But work with me here. Suspend your religious beliefs in order to serve the greater philosophical question. Don't worry - I gave God a call before publishing this and he said it's cool mon, in a Jamaican accent.
"Nobuddy be going to hell heah, mon", said he. "It's cool mon".
Here's the question: if some bright spark discovered definitive proof that God does not exist, what would happen to humanity as we know it?
Work on the assumption that all world religions study the proof and concede that it is too definitive to believe otherwise, before whipping off their kit and grabbing the first available nun to make up for lost time.
Imagine a world conference of religious leaders - from Christians to Muslims to Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Hare Krishnas, Rastafarians and any other religion believing in one all-powerful, omnipotent God - appearing before the world media, with representatives of each solemnly declaring the evidence to be overwhelmingly true.
Imagine all those religions disbanding. No more God. It was all bollocks.
Would humanity be able to cope? I seriously doubt it.
Our biggest safety net as human beings - everlasting life - would be ripped from underneath us. We'd have to face the fact that when we die it's all over. A pile of dust/a corpse rotting with worms/a cadaver in a medical research facility.
Nada. Nothing. You're history.
The laws of the universe would become unbound, leading to widescale depression. Suicides would jump alarmingly as folks realise they won't go to hell for ending their own miserable lives.
Everything most people on this planet have ever known would be turned upside down and the anger at what would be perceived as the greatest hoax of all time would be immense.
Fear would be everywhere - fear of death being the greatest. It's a comforting thought to think that when you die you will go to a better place for eternity and be reunited with all the people you love.
Take that comforting thought away and the death of loved ones - and indeed your own life - takes on a whole new dimension.
What would happen to morality? Religion is the cornerstone of morality. Naturally you'd still have governments and police and laws, but morality is very often based on personal beliefs and not guided by laws.
Adultery, for example. It's not a crime (as far as I know) but it's breaking one of the 10 Commandments. If the 10 Commandments are suddenly the work of some ancient hack who got pissed one night and changed the world with what he believed to be no more than idle doodles on a noterock - and not God - then what's stopping everyone finally having it off with the neighbours as they've always wanted to?
Mind you - plenty of good religious folks don't need proof of no God in order to commit adultery. So maybe not much will change in that regard.
I reckon people would become even more selfish than they currently are - an "every man for himself" sort of thing. Why help anyone when there's no ultimate reward in it for you?
There'd also suddenly be millions of people worldwide - once gainfully employed in the religion business - who suddenly find themselves without a job. What happens to them?
I imagine they'd be slightly miffed at having devoted their lives to a fairytale, and not a little scared about their future prospects.
Religious hatred would end but it would be replaced by an even more vicious cultural/xenophobic hatred, not to mention infighting amongst ethnic and social groups.
The laws of just about every country in the world would have to be rewritten and the new laws would be exploited as far as possible by folks looking to cash in on loopholes.
All religious holidays would fall away, which would have a disastrous effect on the world economy. All those billions and billions of dollars spent across the world over festivals like Christmas and Easter would suddenly evaporate.
Entire manufacturing chains would disappear, leading to even more pressure on an already overburdened unemployment ticket.
Popular culture would undergo a radical shock and facelift - hard rock and thrash metal would return to rule the day as religious bands implode and hatred, anger and fear explode.
There would be violence and confusion.
And that's just skimming the immediate surface - the ramifications to the world in the longterm would be immeasurable. You don't suddenly take a belief system away from billions of people and not expect repercussions - entire ways of thinking and dealing with life would have to come to the fore, radically changing our way of thinking and behaviour as a species.
The greatest irony would be that all the good things religion teaches us would be thrown out of the window, simply because a figurehead of it all suddenly no longer exists.
There should be no need for anything to be different, apart from the huge consequences of all the religious infrastructures falling apart.
But just because there's no God doesn't mean you should shag your mate's wife, or bear false witness against someone else. The Commandments are basically good, common sense, as are the teachings of the Q'uran, the Hebrew Bible and most other religious teachings.
It's scary to think how bound together this world is by the concept of a God and how fragile it would be without that concept. We'd evolve our thinking in time, of course, but the first few hundred years would be some rather tough times, I think.
Not to worry though - even if some boffin did produce proof of no God the last okes on Earth to verify that proof would be the world's religious leaders.
So what do you think? Would the world fall apart in dire ways as I have predicted, or do you believe in the power of common sense and the depth of human resolve?
And more importantly - what would happen to your life? Would it change in any way? How would you tackle the future? What would you teach your kids?
The first thing I'd do is light up an enormous bong, toke deep and praise Jah. You gotta thank someone.
All Smoked Out,