Christmas can be a clarifying time. It clarified that yes, the fervent Mariah Carey, not The Beatles is the best Western music act of all time. On a less serious note, we learn a great deal about the woke postmodern subject this time of year. The postmodern subject may see Karl Marx as just another theorist to be modified, corrected, and therefore continually individualized (therefore continually resold, marketed and divided). But somehow this subject also manages to see right through the scam of Christmas as a materialist plot that was never about the transcendence of love but only another event in the game of capitalism.
What exactly is going on here? What I think the postmodern subject misses is that the point of capitalism is to produce lack. Much of the lack it produces is naturally in itself. Take a superficial campaign of love, perhaps promoted by the latest spokesperson for a corporation. There are two ways to get the postmodern subject to buy into this campaign. They appear to be opposed, and perhaps they are, but they both end up in the same place.
The first way to buy such a campaign is to believe it. Here the belief in love, presumably always on stand by, waiting to be used, in these lonely times, is used falsely; wasted money or labor that goes directly to the extracting capitalist. But there is another way to fool the postmodern subject. The postmodern subject very likely reads the campaign for love, recognizes it is false, and rather than simply disavow the incentive behind the particular, instead declares in the universal, that love is false. This leaves the subject with lack that cannot be filled by love, for it is disavowed. Eventually the subject, in spite of themselves, will feel unfulfilled and will find that the only thing it can’t fill itself upon is love in the particular, therefore leaving this subject with even less chance of resisting capital’s nihilistic grip, as the first example could have arrived to love by coincidence. With the second subject, this is specifically an impossibility.
Enough of being a Scrooge. I will let people enjoy their Christmas, in all its lacking. Let’s move on to another argument, more heard this time of year, that God does not exist. In this pro-God argument let’s imagine that God is like a modern gender and we are using the pronoun They or the acronym + in the LGBTQ+ (Zizek has sapient commentary on the ‘+’). Basically, God, in this piece, is whatever people of any religion or non-religion believe it is. This could even be the belief that God is nothing. We are assuming that nothing exists, in a positive form. Nothing can mean vagina and what could be more positive than that? This piece is certainly not an argument for the particular of Christianity, but rather the use of an example of logical narrative thought that could be applied as truth in a variety of contexts against the non-tolerant doctrine of finality.
There are two claims about God that atheists claim can’t exist at once. 1. That God is all powerful. 2. That God is all good. Atheists see a bad event and say that either God was not powerful enough to stop it or they was powerful enough, but was not interested in doing so, making God bad. There is a gap here already that needs to be addressed. If someone was all powerful, couldn’t they make themselves all good, assuming that such powers transcended all limitations, including human sin? And likewise, if someone was all good, wouldn’t it be a moral failure for them to not be powerful enough to stop something bad, assuming a transcendence of the self/surviving interest, we must assume God did transcend if in fact if they was all good.
There is an easy enough rebuttal here which would be that God is both lacking power and morality. To which one could say if such a person exists, how on earth would you prove them to be God? What, in other words, separates the subject with no transcendent features from the rest of us?
The atheist then could prove everyone to be flawed but would that then not make them God? Now this is only establishing doubt, when to compete with the atheist is to apply certainty, the ultimate expression of faith. For the atheist, belief is not enough, they need knowledge. Slavoj Zizek greatly complicates this in his superb dialogue with Cornel West, but let’s continue by acting as if the atheist and the believer are not aware that they are each other.
Now I can say, quite truthfully, that I believe that Jesus literally died and came back to life (I do). I could also say, quite truthfully, that I believe in a woman’s right to an abortion, climate change, and (exclusively) gay marriage. But being a person of faith, how could I be any more certain of any of those facts than the others? They are what I believe, not what I know, which is only my own lack. I only know that I am not God.
Descartes then was wrong when he said “I think, therefore I am”. He should have said “I think, therefore I know”. Plenty of animals cannot formulate his phrase, but still exist. The only unique thing about humans is our faith in our own knowledge. But even now we have not gone far enough. Who is to say we know that the others are not thinking, and therefore, are not knowing? Therefore even better would be “I think, therefore I do not know.”
Let’s pretend as if the atheist is still not convinced, or on the contrary that the religious person is still convinced. We should have to deal more directly with this critique of God. Because in this limited argument we maybe should not so much pity the atheists, who have escaped their own creation. Rather we should pity anyone who somehow believes that God exists but does not love them.
To combat this doubt we may have to make some leaps that many aren’t comfortable with making. Hopefully, it is possible to skip some steps, if needed, but I’ll outline them anyways. Let’s begin by recognizing that we are all God’s children (not to make this sexual). ‘Children’ may not be the right word, but ‘all’ certainly is. This comes from the Quaker idea of “a light in everyone”. But it doesn’t even have to be that, if that’s too far. Perhaps it’s easiest to imagine that whatever God is, that entity made all that we (don’t) know. If the Big Bang (very sexual) is God, then fine, but of course that is particular.
Now we must also accept that the self does not exist. The self knows itself, and its lacking, but that is all it knows. Without the self, no one knows about it, therefore, it can only be proven to itself, which makes it either the entire world or something highly corrupt (because it decides its own value). Even the government of the United States has three branches of checks and balances that prove the existence of the others.
Todd McGowen and Ryen Engly do such a crucial task in reminding us of the terms “universal” and “particular”. The assumption that God saves the good subjects and punishes the bad is one shared by believers and atheists. But this is a very modern neoliberal division between subjects that presumes the self exists. If God built a house, would they choose a favorite brick? It’s non-sensical. If one believes in the self, they believe they have a creator. If one believes in the creator, they believe that the creator has a self and what they create are not subjects, but a creation that could be divided for organizational and functional purposes but never distinguished as beings (this right is reserved for the creator).
God is the particular (not the same as singular). Creation is the universal (not the same as plural).
The modern subject is so sure of the self that the only public political division is whether or not the self accepts the other. Seldom do we hear that the self is the other. Knowing that no two things are exactly equal, this othering automatically assumes hierarchy. Therefore even well-meaning diversity intiatives or charity events assume difference and therefore superiority when there is none. What actually occurs is what McGowen and Engly and Freud see as fetishistic disavowal. Racism then is being so ashamed of your own feet you cut off your hands.
What better proof is there of God’s existence than the resurrection itself? Zizek says Christianity is the only religion where God doubts God. Zizek is referencing Christ doubting his own father on the cross. But let’s think about that. Because Christ was saved, but the whole reason the resurrection was a sacrifice was because she really didn’t know she was going to come back. If Christ is certain, then he is not human.
So why have the greatest sacrifice of death be reserved for the greatest human? The reason is explicit: Christ died for our sins. We do not die for our own sins. This is not a just structure if the self is separated but it is a coherent one if the self is not. If there was justice, Christ would have lived. But Christ didn’t die because it was fair, she died because it helped the communal project. Because of this ultimate sacrifice of self, billions of people are saved.
God then most cruelly uses his own son for the betterment of the world. What does this say about God’s belief in the family system, which is biologically fascist in form, but certainly not always in practice. However this is not a critique of the family even, but a denial of its existence. Not only does God invade on the structure of Virgin (never sex), husband (power to sex), son (sexed). God may go as far as to say there is no separation between subjects if she was willing to kill her own son who was in a scientific way closer in proximity to God by lineage.
God echoes Ralph Nader: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
It may be more helpful to think of the world like a body. With cells that are bad and cells that are good. No one would try to apply a greater meaning to good cells dying in their fight against the bad cells. No one would even say much about the bad cells winning. Unfortunate, but not unjust.
In the same way God sends organisms, not as individuals, but as part of the whole. The job of each of us may be to fight off the invasive cells, who are part of the body too. This does not mean we fail if we are poor, humiliated or sick. To the contrary, the role we are playing in the world is much closer to that of Christ: one who is put in for a grander purpose than self-actualization.
Would the good God, the all powerful God, have any reason to save us? No. They didn’t even save their child. It’s the opposite that is occurring. We are sent to save God. God’s body, God’s world, is under attack from bad cells. God will always exist, but for the world to run smoothly for the good cells (and even the bad) many good cells must regulate the bad. Who is to reward the good cells for this? Who could? If we are sent to save God, if God sent his son to save us, how could the self have any greater purpose? For if God were to save us, we’d be ourselves. But if we were to save God, we’d be God, which is the point of modernity, is it not?
So are we to conclude that the working class was created just to sacrifice for God’s planet while the ruling class destroys it and prospers? Nonsense. The ruling class are the bad cells, cancerous threats to the cohesive whole, and the working class has the material function of saving the whole by eliminating the power of autosarcophagic forces. To do so we need n