Answering Milosz

Czeslaw Milosz (1911 – 2004) is an astoundingly insightful poet, elegant in his simplicity. As a writer, I aspire to reach the depths of humanity as he did. His poetry survives translation from its native Polish to English, and still rivals any native English speaker’s work.

That said, Milosz presents a literary paradox in his poem, “If There Is No God.”

IF THERE IS NO GOD
If there is no God,
Not everything is permitted to man.
He is still his brother’s keeper
And he is not permitted to sadden his brother,
By saying there is no God.

In the case of these five lines, I cannot agree with this poet I so admire. I have composed a response, because I feel this poem needs one. I humbly submit it here, not because I think I can better the poetic form or the poem itself. I am not a poet by trade; I deal mainly in prose. But I think my own quintet encapsulates my personal feelings on the matter:

IF THERE IS NO GOD
If there is no God,
Man must create his own permit.
He is then the keeper and servant of all society
And he is not permitted to let chaos reign,
By saying there is a God.

Goodbye, for all the wrong reasons

I don’t know if you’ve heard of VenomFangX – depending on one’s particular stance in the theist/atheist debates, he is either one to greatly admire or greatly disdain (respectively). I personally find the boy willfully ignorant, smug and juvenile. I don’t think I can make that clear enough. I am not a fan.

Yesterday, Shawn (aka VenomFangX) posted a video on YouTube simply titled “Goodbye.” In it, he describes death threats from someone or some people who have specific enough details about his life/home to make the threats a real concern. So for the sake of his family, he is choosing to shut his YouTube ministry down.

I admit it – I’m not entirely convinced this is not just a brilliant attempt at martyrdom. But the scary thing is, I would be completely unsurprised if his claims are true, and I’m inclined to believe that it is. There are some crazy-ass people in this world. So I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. If nothing else, he is passionate about his message, and it’s hard to imagine he would walk away out of boredom, or in the face of adversity – he’s been experiencing that pretty much since he started getting noticed on YouTube.

So here’s the deal – I get why atheists and scientists are frustrated with this guy. He refuses to listen to reason, he dismisses evidence against his claims because they don’t support his own personal views, and he continues to propagate erroneous scientific and historical facts to “prove” that God exists. But no person, regardless of creed, regardless of whether they are right or wrong, should be subjected to violence or the threat of such, when his or her message is peaceful and non-threatening to the safety of others. It is disgusting that this is happening, that Shawn and his family are having to experience this. And it does nothing to debate him or disprove his points.

I wish Shawn and his family the best, and I acknowledge that he has to do what he feels necessary to protect himself. I would have preferred to see him shut down his ministry because he finally opened his mind and eyes to reason, logic and science, and not because some Neanderthal bully couldn’t think of words intelligent enough to attempt that, so stooped to swinging his club.

I tried to post a comment on Shawn’s video to tell him that I wished him well, even though I’d never agreed with his videos, but because dissenters are the work of Satan, non-worshiping posters don’t make it to his boards. I hope he took a moment to read the full comment before dismissing it, because I meant it sincerely.

So I’m asking – begging – people to have some common sense. There are things like this flying on both sides of the fence now. PZ Myers has received several death threats from Catholics and other Christians in response to Wafergate, and PZ’s followers have responded to some of the worst of them in kind, much to PZ’s chagrin.

Do people not realize that these threats and vituperations accomplish nothing? They’re cancer and poison and only serve to highlight the other side’s point about overreaction and thuggery. If we’re in this debate, we’re passionate about protecting what we perceive to be the truth, and sometimes it can be like we’re banging our head on a sharp pointy stick over and over again. But there are better solutions that abusing or killing the opposition. That won’t stop their message, it only hurts yours.

So, please grow up, and learn to cope with anger and frustration with more intelligent mechanisms. Don’t spew your venom onto everyone else. Go sweat it out in a rigorous kickboxing routine and let it evaporate.