Living in a geeky home, it is fairly normal to have conversations regarding things like the metaphors in Dune or who is the best supervillain. Today my teenager (adopted), was talking about superpowers. As I've stated before, this kid knows very very little about religion and despite attending a Unitarian church weekly, has shown zero interest in actually learning about any religions although tells people that he is a Christian. He decided that if he had his choice of superpowers, he would like to have the ability to create living beings. The conversation went something like this:
Teen: And then once I created them, they would have to do what I said.
Me: So wait, they wouldn't have free will?
Teen: Well, if they developed free will I guess that would be okay.
Me: But you wouldn't create them with free will?
Teen: No. Why would I?
Me: Why would you create them without free will?
Teen: So they would do what I said.
Me: So you would create sentient creatures and then demand they do what you tell them to do. What happens if they develop free will and don't want to? What happens then? What if they chose not to acknowledge you?
Teen: They would have to. I made them.
Me: What if many generations went by and you lived on a mountain and they hadn't seen you in a long time. What if they didn't believe you existed?
Teen: Then I would come down and show them. I would show them my superpowers.
Me: Well, that makes you at least a god who is somewhat understanding that some people require evidence to believe. But what if they see you and still choose not to help you or do what you say?
Teen: Well, I created them. I can destroy them.
Me: Oh. So you are a vengeful god then?
Teen: No. I wouldn't be a god.
Me: But you created them. And are demanding they worship you. That makes you a god, at least to them.
Teen: But I am not asking them to worship me.
Me: Requiring people to obey you and acknowledge that you are their creator is what worship is, even if it doesn't include things like prayer and songs, although those would probably follow. So as these people's god you are saying you would kill them for not obeying you?
Teen: ::shrugs:: I made them.
Me: But what if you aren't a good god? What if you did terrible things and didn't deserve to be obeyed? After all, you are just a human with superpowers.
Teen: If they didn't obey, they would be killed.
Me: So you would be a god who controls his people through intimidation and fear? One who demands worship even if you are undeserving of it? And condemns people to death for not doing what you want them to do? Sounds like a villain to me.
Teen: I wouldn't be a villain. I would do good things.
Me: Killing people for not obeying you doesn't sound good. Congratulations Teen. You just described the Jewish and Christian god. And here I thought you didn't understand the Bible. Jesus says that the only thing you have to do to be a Christian is acknowledge he is god and then later Paul says that obedience to Christ is the key. And if you don't obey and acknowledge this god you will go to hell and be tortured for eternity. I wouldn't call that kind of a god a good god or a superhero of any kind. And unlike you, that god isn't coming down from heaven and showing people his superpowers. If he exists, he is choosing to remain invisible and still condemn people for not worshiping him.
Truth be told, if my teen ever got superpowers, he would be a villain because he struggles a good deal with self-control, kindness, and being empathetic. Foster care and neglect don't really lead to the light side. He also has a very difficult time with rules and makes up his own rules even when he has no authority to do so. For example: Teacher says no headphones in class. Teen decides (tells himself) that music helps him focus so he turns on music despite his teacher's rule and then gets angry and curses out the teacher for telling him to shut it off. So the conversation wasn't surprising to me. What was surprising was how quickly his "hero" devolved into a a petty, jealous, controlling god. I don't really think I got through to him. I think that he lacks the capacity to understand this complex topic or why such actions would be wrong. He makes many of these same mistakes when we play D&D and his character is basically evil at this point because of the many of the stupid decisions he has made for the character. And he doesn't understand why. Does he not understand right from wrong? I think in clear black & white instances he does. It is wrong to murder someone. It is right to give people hugs. But the more nuances things, like how do you treat someone who does something you don't like? He just doesn't get it and 9 times out of 10 he chooses to be mean instead of kind. This is hard to live with on a daily basis because I see a kid who wants to be good, but has absolutely no idea how to do it, particularly when he is angry, which is a lot.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.