Thursday, March 25, 2010

This week's lesson: godliness

It's a commonplace notion that our gods resemble us.

But it's worth pointing out the reverse is also true -- that as time goes by, we grow ever more like our gods.

Albert Schweitzer makes this first point in The Quest of the Historical Jesus -- the book in which he points out that most attempts to tell us what Jesus was really like usually end up telling us more about the author than the subject.
  • When a socialist writes about Jesus, for instance, he will tell us the Son of Man was a true friend of the working class.
  • But when a conservative writes about Jesus, it turns out the Son of God was a big fan of the free market.
  • And if I graduated from college believing that Jesus was a mild-mannered teacher with a strong interest in ethics . . . well, right there you can guess what most of my professors were like.
Yes, Schweitzer was right: we do create God in our own image.

And then He returns the favor.

Consider the impact of social networks -- those communities of like-minded people who are united by their love of Farscape, for instance, or their belief that Sarah Palin should be the next President of the United States.

Now if you don't share this point-of-view, then you probably won't join a group that does.

But if you join a group that does, then you're going to believe this point-of-view all the more.

That's one reason why groups of like-minded people tend to become even more extreme over time -- an effect called "group polarization."

So the left gets leftier . .

And the right gets rightier . . .

And since it's clear to one and all that God is on our side, that gives us all the more reason to . . .

Okay, I'm going to let you finish that sentence -- but for now, it's enough to point out two things:

You're not god.

So try not to follow a god who is.

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