Richard Dawkins in his book God Delusion perceives the God of the three Abrahamic religions as a monster with psychopathic tendencies. He says:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
His fellow British atheist Christopher Hitchens sees God as a “celestial dictator” who “punishes man for eternity for thought crime.” He has expressed the following view repeatedly both in prints as well as in his lectures and debates:
“Do I think I’m going to Paradise? Of course not. I wouldn’t go if I was asked. I don’t want to live in some F***ing celestial North Korea for one thing, where all I get to do is praise the dear Leader from dawn to dusk.”
There are a few parts of the Old Testament in which God is portrayed in a distasteful manner, however to extend this image of God to all religions and scriptures is a giant erroneous generalization.
In assessing the atheists argument there can be only three possibilities. First is that God does not exist. Second is that God exists and He is not a dictator. Third is what Dawkins and Hitchens suggest: if God exists, He is indeed a fascist dictator. This is a bizarre and absurd idea on the rise gaining popularity day by day. The following section below is the analysis of the atheist argument in light of each possibility.
1. God does not exist
It is suffice to say, that which does not exist, is not worthy of preoccupation. It is puzzling as to why atheists go outside the domains of their expertise to declare an entity, which they claim to know for sure does not exist, insisting publicly and vociferously that it does not really exist. This is perhaps the only movement in the world that identifies itself with what its followers do not believe, rather with what they actually believe. We agree that it would be silly and waste of time to propagate a universal belief in denial of fire-breathing dragon with wings. The same can be said about denial of any other imaginary concept i.e. “God”. Indeed, what is the point of such an obsessive and over-the-top activism? It is more ridiculous to see them audaciously painting a negative image for an entity that is claimed to be nonexistent and fictional, in order to demonstrate that it is non-existent!
2. God exists and He is not a dictator
All dictators enjoy the support of a superpower or each one forms a coalition or treaty with other like-minded dictators without which they cannot last very long. Who is the higher power behind the scene supporting this “celestial dictator”? Unlike the authoritarian Saudi ruling family who unjustifiably claim that everything in their country belongs to them, (even they named the country after their family) everything in the universe rightfully belongs to God. Everything including mankind. His rulership over the universe and ownership over mankind are legitimate.
Moreover, the universe does not indicate that God is a dictator. On the contrary, everything in the universe indicates that God is a Merciful Provider. Life is a joyful experience. The earth is hospitable place with plenty of renewable resources freely available for our consumption. Regular expression of appreciation to the Provider for what is provided is not a sign of bondage. We can never thank Him enough.
Furthermore, everything in the universe indicates that the Creator of this universe is powerful and intelligent. The Being who is powerful and intelligent must necessarily be unequivocally just, loving and forgiving or He is not intelligent at all. So long as one does not engage in overwhelming acts of transgression, and believes in this non-dictatorial Creator but testing Entity, one is assured everlasting peace after death. What could be a better gift given by this most generous Philanthropist?
Therefore, on what grounds is this Ruler perceived to be a dictator? Is anybody here overtaxed, overworked, underpaid, beaten up, chastised, ostracized, persecuted or detained? Does one feel that one lives under Divine Imperialism where one is oppressed, suppressed or depressed? If so, is it God who is responsible for one’s miserable life, or is it because of the ungratefulness, arrogance, irrationality and rebelliousness from His specified correct path as advised peacefully by the prophets and sages over the ages that mankind is suffering without self-reflection?
3. God exists and He is a dictator
If an atheist claims that God is a dictator, then it seems that the issue at hand is not whether there is a God or not. One gets the impression that these atheists already believe that there is a God, but they just do not wish to submit to this God, because they do not like Him. Hitchens in his book: God is not Great, as the title suggests, presents arguments not against God’s existence, but against God Himself. He refuses to bow down to Him. To a believer in the First Cause, the Uncaused Cause, this is a choice made out of arrogance, not out of logic. Further, it is a choice made out of hypocrisy and not intelligence. Many of these individuals who adamantly claim not to believe in God, whenever they find themselves or their loved one in a life-threatening situation, they suddenly start to pray to the rejected God. However, as soon as they reach safety, they quickly retrogress to their normal routine. If that is so, then they are not atheists, a new terminology is needed to refer to the individuals who believe there is God but hate Him and refuse to acknowledge Him as their Lord. ‘Anti-theist’ would perhaps be a more appropriate term to refer to likes of Dawkins and Hitchens.
A dictator is a person who has no legitimacy to the power, but manages to hang on to it by fear-mongering, threats, use of violence, detentions and mass killings. For sake of argument let us seriously assume that the atheist anthropomorphic view of God, as expressed above by Dawkins and Hitchens is indeed correct. It seems that rather than an old man reclining up there in the clouds, we have a dictator in a military uniform up in the clouds, watching over our daily conducts with surveillance cameras. Let us further assume that God is a “celestial dictator” and we are all trapped in an Orwellian forced labour camp on earth to worship Him. I suppose, subjugation of human beings must be vital in the preservation of this Divine totalitarian regime, or his Divine economy will soon collapse. What are our options to end this tyranny?
A question that I would like to put to our smart anti-theists and seek their guidance is: What is the proper course of action we ought to take in order to bring down “celestial dictatorship” and gain our freedom? Talk is cheap, but actions are priceless.
A) Can we go somewhere else to be free and immune from His reach, for instance to seek asylum and protection? No, we cannot apply for refuge status in a different universe. There is no such a place; everywhere is under the sphere of His influence and control.
B) The most frequently attempted method of changing a regime is a coup d’état. Is there any possibility of regime change in Heaven by a coup d’état? No, there are no competent or worthy oppositions in the autocratic celestial system. If the idea was feasible, the Devil who is the most elite rebel against God’s regime would have plotted this a long time ago. If the Devil is not up to the task, there is no chance for the atheist materialists and anti-theists. Furthermore, study of military coups illustrates that in every single case of a coup, nothing actually changes, as one bully manages to replace another bully. Therefore, what is the point of such a change? No coup d’état ever gave birth to an institutionalization of a durable democratic system, just take a glance at the political history of Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
C) Then, are we going to fight Him? What are anti-theists particularly going to do about this “celestial dictatorship”? Can they show us some leadership?
Let us assume that atheism expands from a philosophical ideology into a political ideology. Atheists now from passive observers of the universe change to active revolutionary freedom fighters who are mobilizing the people to resist and fight this unjust dictator. A movement led by contemporary atheists, the four horsemen of atheism: Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett.
Realistically, how do we fight this dictator, and if we find a practical way, can we win it? His power seems endless. If God is a “celestial dictator”, it seems that resistance is futile. Let us be positive and assume that, we can win this fight, and eventually we will.
One hopeful scenario would be that these revolutionary pioneers would be able to educate and unite the masses and successfully get everyone to revolt against God. Atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and secular humanists together form a formidable coalition against God. Boycotts and civil disobedience are the first things to do. No one should engage in acts of worship or attend places of worship. The movement gets hot and popular, and subsequently starts to spread like a wildfire. There will be secular Jihadists ready to give up their lives for a noble cause: Man’s freedom and unholy secular values. After sacrificing the blood of many humanist martyrs, at the end, humanity triumphs. God losses His throne. He is at last overthrown by humanity. Mankind is finally free from Divine subjugation. Individualism prevails, no more “Dos” and “Don’ts”. Envision a world without boundaries, imagine having a lifestyle when you can act as you like, when you are free to follow all your inner desires, when religious decrees can no longer spoil your enjoyments, when you are no longer judged or held accountable, when you are no longer required to pray, fast, go for pilgrimage or pay charitable taxes. Is this humanist idea of utopia worth fighting for?
D) Where is God’s headquarter in this endless universe? Where does He reside? Where can we find Him? Where is heaven, if He is there, how do we get there to arrest Him and bring Him down to justice?
Let us suppose that God is somehow arrested during a routine traffic stop, and charged with planning and conspiracy to engage in the continuous act of Divine terrorism, using weapons of mass destruction i.e. tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcano eruptions and plagues. He is charged with killing of innocent children by injecting them with cancerous cell and viruses. Further charged with failure to help victims of medical complications resulting in death or bodily harm. The list goes on and on. The bottom line is that He is a fake “Mr. Nice Guy”, He had the power to intervene and stop evil, but He chose not to.
The deposed God is brought on live television, interviewed by a panel of humanists. He confesses to His crime and is put on a fair trial. His trial is televised like O.J. Simpson’s trial. He is found guilty by a very objective judge and competent jury in the International Court at The Hague for crimes against humanity.
E) What is next rational step? Are we going to execute Him? The answer should be very obvious: We cannot. This dictator unlike all other dictators is immortal. He has no beginning and no end. He has no head to hang, no body to shoot at. He cannot be electrocuted or terminated by needle injection.
F) If death penalty is not an option, can He be sentenced to life in prison without parole? Once again the answer is no, this dictator’s life expectancy is eternal and never-ending. Furthermore, what if He escapes from prison and tries to regain His throne? For this detainee, the cost of His eternal everlasting escape-proof detention ought to be infinite.
G) Are we going to throw Him out of His domain and send Him off into exile somewhere far away? We cannot. Where to? Everywhere is His domain. That is a serious dilemma. What shall we do with a convicted God? Let us say he is kept in Guantanamo indefinitely until a solution is found. Meanwhile, maybe He will go on hunger strike and dies out of starvation and depression.
I suppose, we shall not be content with our achievement so far on this planet and would like to free the rest of the universe. We shall export our democratic revolution of “by the people, for the people and of the people” to other galaxies to free all other enslaved creatures as soon as we overcome the ‘minor problem’ of attaining warp speed. I suppose, it would free them up and help other lifeforms/extraterrestrials just as it did help the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and tons of other places.
H) Let us say that this guilty God voluntarily gives up His power and somehow wipes Himself out of existence into the realm of Nothingness. Let us suppose when He disappears, His creation will not disappear with Him. What is next? Who is taking over the universe now? Richard Dawkins? Or perhaps the ambitious Lawrence Krauss, or maybe Daniel Dennett since he has more experience. Let us assume there will be no back-stabbing and rivalry among these intelligent men of science for humanity’s intellectual and political leadership and there will never be divisions in this forever-cohesive political movement. But, are there any guarantees that the future leaders are not going to turn into another dictator? I think, human history can convincingly answer this question that power corrupts. In particular some of the worst dictators in human history were atheist revolutionaries, cruel Godless absolutist like Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot and Mugabe. In most human revolutions, the new clique turned out to be more ruthless and more ambitious than the old one, to the extent that soon after the regime change the masses started to regret the loss of the old ruler.
Thus, if all the above options are not a workable solution to deal with a “celestial dictator”, what would be a workable solution? If one somehow rationally comes to this conclusion that God is truly a dictator, this person should also objectively come to the subsequent conclusion that resisting this powerful dictator is futile and suicidal. So, get use to it, this is one dictator that you do not want to mess with. Therefore, the best sound thing for this individual to do is to submit to God as all other options are dead-end. And, if one really wants to gain favors and impresses this “celestial dictator”, it is best to “praise the dear Leader from dawn to dusk” and start reading this Dictator’s handbook on how to gain His favours. This is the only “dictator” worthy of adoration and worship. Hence, it pays off to conform and be submissive than to be a defiant loser.
When you think of it, to surrender to this so-called “dictator” whole heartedly may indeed be a very liberating experience. Is this not what many believers in God voluntarily do with so much pleasure? For example, Muslims willingly submit to Allah from dawn to dusk by not separating “profane” from “mundane”, “sacred” from “secular”. They do not believe the Sustainer of the universe is a ruthless “dictator”.
Can the Creator of the Universe be a “Dictator”?
By looking at the universe there are two things that one can ascertain about its Originator with absolute certainty. One is that the Creator of the universe is Powerful. The one who is truly Powerful lacks no self-esteem, has no need to be admired or acknowledged. His might is self-evident and speaks in volumes. Thus, He has no need for a military parade to showoff His power, to glorify Himself and yearn for human subjugation, otherwise His power is hallow and fake. This is a necessary truth and irrefutable.
Second is that He is Intelligent. The one who is Intelligent must by nature be just, compassionate and merciful, otherwise He is not really Intelligent. This too is a necessary truth and irrefutable. Dictatorship and divinity are mutually exclusive.
In conclusion, the obtuse and appalling idea of a “celestial dictatorship” seems to be deeply flawed and void of basic common sense.