We all thought of this one day: how do Religions convince people God gives a shit?
Well, you should ask Spinoza. Baruch, Oh Baruch. He may have been the first (significant) man in History to have lived most of his life out of any religious community, after he was excommunicated from the Jewish community of Amsterdam on 27 July 1656.
In this famous extract of the Ethics, Spinoza gives a very simple demonstration of the technique used by religions to convince people God has a will.
For example, if a stone falls from a roof on to someone’s head, and kills him, they will demonstrate by their new method, that the stone fell in order to kill the man ; for, if it had not by God’s will fallen with that object, how could so many circumstances (and there are often many concurrent circumstances) have all happened together by chance? Perhaps you will answer that the event is due to the facts that the wind was blowing, and the man was walking that way. “But why,” they will insist, “was the wind blowing, and why was the man at that very time walking that way?” If you again answer, that the wind had then sprung up because the sea had begun to be agitated the day before, the weather being previously calm, and that the man had been invited by a friend, they will again insist : “But why was the sea agitated, and why was the man invited at that time?” So they will pursue their questions from cause to cause, till at last you take refuge in the will of God—in other words, the sanctuary of ignorance.
Here you can find the full Appendixof the First part of the Ethics from which the example of the stone is extracted.
I give my word it is worth it. And why not read to whole First part, and then the whole book! But let’s not get carried away.
In Candide, Voltaire takes a close stand; he thinks we should no care about God because he does not care about us. We are the mice on board of a ship that God created and then let go.
Read on for more.
How did Voltaire answer the question so easily solved by optimism, namely, why does evil exist in the world? As a Deist, Voltaire’s God was one who initially created the world and then left it to its own devices. When, at the end of Candide, Pangloss asks the dervish why man exists, the dervish responds, “What does it matter whether there’s good or evil? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he worry whether the mice on board are comfortable or not? (378)” To Voltaire, men were the mice, and “his highness” was not concerned in the least with their day-to-day existence.