Sunday, April 24, 2011

There's no "My" in "Myself"

Am I my own?  If I belong to myself, what part of me is the owner, and what part the property?  Can property own itself?  It seems that such words start to lose their meaning once you hit this level of abstraction.

I think there are those who would have me believe that I am "my own person."  My life, body, consciousness, abilities... these all belong to me.  But when my makeup and circumstances define what I want to do with this "property" of mine, these things are my rulers, not my slaves.  It all seems contrived, but then, so is the general concept of ownership.

More interesting still are the folks who would have me believe that I am not my own person, but that my whole being is on loan from god.  I guess it's not inconceivable that I'm god's little pet.
My question is, does god own himself?  Or is it equally blurry for him as it is for us?  If god can't change his nature because of his nature, then he's as much a slave as any of us.
God's ownership of us is at least in keeping with the general idea of property rights.  God has supposedly claimed us as "his," and has the power to whack anyone who tries to ignore his claim.  We are his to destroy or give away or bake into a hot-dish.  If you owned a sack of flour, the same would be true about you.  Ultimately, some people respect your property in order not to get whacked by someone (some are respectful out of moral principle, but we know for sure that this is not true of all).  You can do what you like with it.

However, I don't see why I have any reason to respect god's ownership of me.  Okay, he could pound me to bits like any defective toy and toss me out with Monday's trash, so if I want to avoid that I should behave.  But when a piece of property malfunctions, we usually find it quite juvenile to get all mad and blame the object in question.  There are a couple of terms that I like that refer to the cause of computer error: GIGO (Garbage in, Garbage out), and PEBCAK (Problem exists between chair and keyboard).  How about human error?  God made us, so it's all his fault, right?  Design flaws?

If, however, we have free will or some germ of existence that is independent of god (as is stated in LDS theology), what we do is no longer god's fault.  However, in this case I would call into question the justice of god's claim of ownership.  Sure, god can still cause us pain and suffering and maybe even nonexistence of some sort, but "might makes right" is not a just moral precept, only an effective one.  If I was an intelligence before I was a spirit, what right did god have to pick me up, stick me into a spirit somehow, and then claim ownership over me as my "creator?"  As I understand it, he, too, is nothing more than a little chunk of intelligence that got stuck into a spirit and then a body, and then eventually got pretty powerful.
Come to think of it, this is starting to sound like abusive behavior toward children propagating down through multiple generations.  Perhaps god is as much a victim as we are, and is dealing with us the way he learned, the way he was dealt with.

I don't really think there's a god, but I sure like to try to figure out what the existence of a god would mean for ethics and reality, not to mention our bizarre relationship with him.

1 comment:

  1. language has dual nature built in it. Look at this "I think of myself sometimes but then I feel.." You can see the apparent duality here. What if you realized you yourself were god? I am him, and so are you. I am created for you, and you...well, you know what for.