He used to be the god of the gaps. But then the gaps became ever smaller. According to Richard Bube, there were no gaps left when Darwin had written the Origin of Species. After the theory of evolution, humans had forever lost their special place on earth. This gives me an opportunity to put in one of my favourite quotes, by J.B.S. Haldane. When asked by theologians
– if there was anything that could be concluded about the Creator from the study of creation,
this geneticist and evolutionary biologist said:
“The Creator, if He exists, has an inordinate fondness for beetles.”
After all, this creator would have made 400,000 attempts at the perfect beetle. Haldane was duly impressed.And we all know he made even more different stars, which inspired Stephen Hawking to say:
“We’re just chemical scum on the surface of a moderately sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies.”
So, maybe we are unique in the sense that we’re the only chemical scum around? No, I’m sorry, but it increasingly looks like we’re not. Very recently, the newspapers were telling us that six percent of red dwarfs have Earth-sized planets which could be habitable. The closest one might be only thirteen light-years away.
For one moment I thought this was an awkward predicament for preachers. But it wasn’t, because they’ve found a way out a long time ago. The God shaped hole is not in nature, not in the universe, it’s in your heart.
When Derren Brown, who is well-versed in the methods of the evangelicals, said it on “Miracles for Sale” I really thought he was overdoing it a bit. To have someone stand in front of a crowd and shout:
“You cannot fill that God shaped hole with drugs! with money! with sex!”
I expected people to laugh at this. But Derren was right. Only a few days later, I saw a real preacher saying exactly the same thing in front of some well-educated Pentecostal churchgoers. And after that I noticed a post from a Japanese blogger She explained how she’d been threatened she would never be happy because of that very same God shaped hole. Suddenly, the God shaped hole showed itself everywhere. It must be synchronicity, except I don’t believe in that either.
It’s attributed to Blaise Pascal. I mean the quote about the God shaped hole. I’m not trying to tell you that you have a Pascal-shaped hole in your heart as well.I’ve always had Pascal down for an opportunist because of “Pascal’s Wager”.
And I find it hard to believe that a modern-day person could be threatened or coerced to embrace God. (People could force you to live by their rules, I have no doubt about that. But could they make you believe something?) You could lose any belief in an instant, and once you’ve realised it, there’s no going back. Criticofchristianity, another blogger, describes her personal experience with this. By the time you start wondering what eternal damnation will feel like, it’s too late to change your mind back to its innocent state.
But don’t fear, because:
“Eternity in the company of Beelzebub and all his hellish instruments of death will be a picnic, (…)”
Pascal never knew it, but it’s the five minutes with a pencil and Blackadder that you really have to worry about. He says it all in this 31-second fragment on youtube. So it looks like even hell is not all they said it would be. This will be tough to face for some people, I’m sure, but Haldane can help you with that:
“I suppose the process of acceptance will pass through the usual four stages:
(i) this is worthless nonsense;
(ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view;
(iii) this is true, but quite unimportant;
(iv) I always said so.”
With this in mind, please vote on the above blogpost, now…