Pink Eye Sine

Pink Eye Sine
Art by Norman E. Masters

On Helping God

To me God does not yet exist; but there is a creative force constantly struggling to evolve an executive organ of godlike knowledge and power: that is, to achieve omnipotence and omniscience; and every man and woman born is a fresh attempt to achieve this object.

The current theory that God already exists in perfection involves the belief that God deliberately created something lower than Himself when He might just as easily have created something equally perfect. That is a horrible belief: it could only have arisen among people whose notion of greatness is to be surrounded by inferior beings -- like a Russian nobleman -- and to enjoy the sense of superiority to them.

To my mind, unless we conceive God as engaged in a continual struggle to surpass Himself -- as striving at every birth to make a better man than before, we are conceiving nothing better than an omnipotent snob.

Also we are compelled by the theory of God's already achieved perfection to make Him a devil as well as a god, because of the existence of evil. The god of love, if omnipotent and omniscient, must be the god of cancer and epilepsy as well.

Whoever admits that anything living is evil must either believe that God is malignantly capable of creating evil, or else believe that God has made many mistakes in His attempts to make a perfect being. But if you believe, as I do... that the croup bacillus was an early attempt to create a higher being than anything achieved before that time, and that the only way to remedy the mistake was to create a still higher being, part of whose work must be the destruction of that bacillus, the existence of evil ceases to present any problem; and we come to understand that we are here to help God, to do His work, to remedy His old errors, to strive towards Godhead ourselves.

I put this very roughly and hastily; but you will have no trouble in making out my meaning. It is all in Man And Superman; but expressed in another way -- not in the way that an uneducated man can understand. You said that my manner in that book was not serious enough -- that I made people laugh in my most earnest moments. But why should I not? Why should humour and laughter be excommunicated? Suppose the world were only one of God's jokes, would you work any the less to make it a good joke instead of a bad one?

~~ From a letter to Leo Tolstoy (from near the end of the first volume of Shaw's Collected Letters) written in 1910.

by George Bernard Shaw

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