I’ve been thinking about the book of Job.
It was never one of my favourite parts of the Bible, because I always thought it portrays God as an unjust and cruel asshole, who gives more value to Satan’s desire to test a good man, than to this man’s wellbeing – essentially, God allows Satan to turn Job’s life into a living hell just to test whether he’ll spiritually crack under pressure and turn to evil.
But lately I’ve been thinking if maybe I got it wrong. Of course it’s an allegory, and I always understood it as such, but maybe it’s a different kind of allegory. Maybe it’s not about the superficial moralizing message, but a more profound one, with mythical power, in a sense where a myth is something that never happened, and yet it happens daily. Maybe the message is that we, here, incarnated on Earth, are Job. Not in a sense that we are surrendered to Satan to be cruelly tested, but in a more profound sense, where this world in its entirety was devised by Satan as a form of a wager with God, where he publicly claimed to have created a test that only the truly virtuous and noble souls can pass, and secretly hoped that nobody, even God were he to accept the same human limitations, could. Essentially, he hoped to create such hopeless darkness laced with deceptions and lures, at the same time separating the souls from their memory, from their powers, from the ability to leave, and he blocked their personal access to God, so that he could envelope them in darkness so completely, that the only pieces of light they can see are his own lures, set in such ways as to burden them with sin, attach them to this world, separate them further from God and essentially kill them. As they died, deceived into sin, drowning in filth they were convinced to embrace, Satan could always claim that they failed to remain faithful to God, that their spiritual virtue, so obvious in heaven, was but a reflection of the heavenly light and not their own nature, and when they were separated from what was not truly their own, they showed their true, base and lowly nature, and sinned against God.
The deception, of course, is in the fact that a saintly soul is not such due to the light of its own. Everybody shines but with the light of God, and if this light is taken from us, we are truly doomed. So this is essentially a trap for the arrogant ones, who can believe that their virtue and achievement are their own, and not merely the result of acceptance of God into their lives. I cannot claim this with certainty, but what I do know is that not all came here with the same intent. Some came here to show how their powerful spiritual being can shine with God’s light even in deepest darkness. Some were lured here with promise of spiritual evolution under pressure, which supposedly isn’t possible elsewhere. Some wanted to teach and help others who were trapped here, in essence displaying a trait of arrogance, thinking themselves above those who were ensnared and deceived, and those who already attempted to help them, and failed. Some came here because they wanted to hide from God, whom they hated. Some wanted to do evil deeds. Some were just stupid. There doesn’t seem to be a singular motive; however, the common thing is that they all perceived this place completely differently and did not understand what actually happens here, which includes the concepts of time, and process.
The error in my analysis of the book of Job is, perhaps, in the assumption that the situation was portrayed correctly. What if the wager wasn’t between Satan and God, but between Satan and Job? What if Satan told Job that he has a test for him, that only a true devotee of God can pass? What if Job was eager to show his devotion to and faith in God by accepting the challenge? What if God advised him against it, but Job was either ignorant or arrogant enough to dismiss it?
So, we are Job. Deceived, bound, stripped of our memory, separated from the light and certainty of God, surrounded with pain, darkness and evil, tempted with deadly lures that promise to ease our pain at the price of our soul, with no certainty in our hope that it will ever be better.
The book itself offers the unobvious way out: don’t assume you did something very bad to deserve your fate. Don’t repent. Don’t “curse God and die”, as his wife advised the protagonist. Accept that your condition just is. It’s not certain why it is here. Maybe it’s a punishment for your sins, and maybe you’re so perfectly pure that Satan wagered with God that he can break you, and God agreed. Maybe you wagered with Satan that he can expose you to all the rage and darkness of hell, and you will not lose faith in God. Many things are possible, and it is unwise to claim responsibility for your situation just because someone told you it’s a constructive approach. It’s not constructive to accept guilt and punishment if you are completely innocent. It is also not constructive to pass judgment and blame God for your situation, under the assumption that God created this place and He is omnipotent. The thing is, creation of this place seems to be a very complicated thing, and involved many parties, none of which seems to be God directly. Also, the parameters of this place seem to be such that God is very limited in what He can do here.
So, how can I say that God didn’t create this world? Does this detract from God’s greatness?
First of all, this place is such a nightmarish hellhole, that claiming that God created it detracts from His greatness.
Second, if you think that God needs to be attributed with the creation of everything lest his greatness be diminished, what about the computer I’m presently using to write this article? Was it created directly by God? OK, so you have to concede that God didn’t directly create some things, even very sophisticated and valuable ones. If we extend this further, did God create humans directly, or were they a product of natural evolution? It is much more rational to accept that God didn’t necessarily create most things directly, and that in most cases things that exist are the result of actions of either sentient beings lesser than God, or a result of natural forces in action, such as lightning, which wasn’t created by anyone, but is merely a result of an electrostatic discharge in the atmosphere. If lightning can exist without being created by God, why should this world have to be created by God? Why should it not be of the order of being similar to my computer, which can also maintain a simulated reality, or, should I say, reality of an inferior order? It is much wiser to say that God is the deepest reality, and that everything else in existence has reality inferior to God’s; things can exist that simulate virtual universes, and I hold one such device in my lap as I use it to write this, and the text on the screen is of reality that is less than the reality of the laptop itself, and yet it is quite real, in a sense that I write it, I can read it from the screen, I can post it on the web and then you can read it and know that it is real; and yet, is it more real than merely ones and zeros, represented by the voltage in the memory cells, mapped onto characters, and displayed on some physical device that conveys the information to your brain. Things can obviously exist in weird ways, once you accept the reality of computers, and differences in reality between hardware and software. Someone, who is not God, created a computer. Someone else, who is also not God, uses this computer, as well as the software which is on that computer, to modify the software for some nefarious purpose. So, what if this entire Universe runs on what is the equivalent of a smartphone in some higher-reality Universe, and only when you follow this rabbit hole of realities to its end do you reach God. I’m formulating this hypothetically, but to me it is much more than a hypothesis. It’s a theory, in a scientific sense, where a theory is a set of hypotheses that were experimentally verified, and form the intellectual framework for explaining the evidence.
And the most interesting thing is that, although this can all lead you to conclude that God is so very far away, hidden under a palimpsest of superimposed illusions, nothing is farther from the truth. Because, if we use the analogy of God as the computer, and various recursively nested illusions as software entities running on this computer, such as the BIOS, OS, applications, windows within the applications, and nested structures within the windows, how far is all of this from the computer? It is all the computer. It’s right here, and the entirety of software has any existence only within it, and it is given reality by having its instructions executed directly by the hardware. You are as far from God as any of applications on your computer is from its CPU and RAM. Not only does it mean that God is truly the closest to your being, it means that envisioning your existence as detached from God, or even in opposition to God, is madness – because, in the end, only God Is; only I Am.