God serves an immense variety of functions in people’s life. For many, God is an answer to all mysteries. God can be a pain-killer, a co-sufferer, a counsellor, and so on.
God is also effectively used as a justification for a lot of violence as religious terrorists do. George W Bush used God as a justification for his country’s assault on the people of Iraq.
When an individual claims a mandate from God to justify his violence against another individual or group of persons, is it megalomania, delusion, or plain hoodwinking of people?
A person chooses to leave his workplace unable to bear the harassment of his boss. Eventually he finds a better job. About a year after leaving he visits the place for certain valid reasons. The boss instructs the security personnel at the gate to deny him entry. He confronts the boss via the mobile phone and gains entry. A month later, his accounts are settled. He is also given a farewell by his colleagues. The boss attends the farewell and delivers a speech that God (or ‘Destiny’ in his words) was at work. “It is the way Destiny works,” he said, “bringing something better for certain individuals.”
Such logic may sound very convincing, especially when delivered with a lot of rhetoric and eloquence. Some people are experts in fabricating reality with words.
But what if the person had not succeeded? In fact, there are instances of many other employees who were harassed by the same boss and who did not achieve anything significant in their life. Is that too Destiny’s way of teaching something? Why does Destiny appear to be on the side of the powerful in all such instances?
Professor Barrows Dunham argues in his book, Man Against Myth, that Herbert Spencer (in 1850) applied the Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest, “considerably before the theory reached definitive form,” to human society and ethics. Spencer argued, according to Dunham, “that the same process which in the animal kingdom separates the biologically fit from the unfit also separates the biologically successful from the unsuccessful in human society, and the good from the bad in the moral world…. Thus, in human society, the biologically fit, the economically successful, and the morally good are all one and the same group of people.” [If we observe carefully the political developments of today we’ll realise that it is Spencer’s ethics that is still followed.]
The successful and hence fit people make the rules for survival. Dunham compares the losers in such a world to “the tiger that can’t catch and the deer that can be caught.” That’s destiny at work.
Dunham has a serious problem with that ethics, however. If we regard the human society as created and maintained by a power which human beings cannot control, then human morality breaks down. Ethics belongs within the sphere of human potency. Whatever lies outside that sphere is merely non-moral, like the comets or the earthquakes that come and go unleashing whatever damage they do.
Is Destiny, as envisaged by the person mentioned above, as amoral as the comet or the earthquake? If so, it must have no purpose; it merely works according to certain natural laws. In that case, we cannot invoke it to justify anything.
If it is not amoral – that is, if it has moral purposes – can man control it? Is it in the power of the boss or George W Bush or the religious terrorists? If the answer is in the affirmative, then you know very well the logic that ensues. Such Destiny is not supernatural!
So, why invoke Destiny at all in order to justify anything? Unless it is for reinforcing one’s own ego?