Cat’s paws: A person used by another as a dupe or tool.
I just finished reading the science fiction novel Catspaw by Joan D. Vinge as a part of my book challenge. I have also written about religion lately, and in my previous post I wrote about angry atheists in What happened?
A young man named Cat is the hero in Catspaw. He was used as a tool to do dangerous jobs, but he was also clever enough to be a game changer. There are several scary characters in the story, one of them is Sojourner Stryger. This was a very carismatic, religious leader that was running for a very important position in this future society. He appeared to be perfect, but behind his image there was a very evil man. He hated psions, which meant that he hated Cat intensely. The hero of the story is half human, half Hydran, and that gave him psion abilities (such as telepathy).
Soujorner Stryger has a hidden agenda. He has someone supplying him with psions, which he tortures and kills. He wants to purify earth, and in the religion he preaches there is only room for humans as Gods children. Everyone else is filth. There would be alien species in a science fiction story of course, but this is also something that is being debated in the real world. There are Christians that feel that if we discover life on another planet, these life forms would have to be demonic. I guess atheists agree with them because many of them are suffering from the delusion that discovering life elsewhere would contradict the Bible, that there could be only one creation. The desire to kill God is in fact what drives some scientists. I believe that to be utter nonsense.
As no one would believe any accusations made against Stryger, Cat had to use himself as bait and let Stryger torture him. He was the evidence. He was double crossed, however, and almost died from his encounter with this sadist preacher.
This is from the torture scene:
“Filth”! he shrieked……l
“Never touch me with your filthy — ” He broke off, swallowing the word, shuddering. And then with what almost sounded like grief in his voice, he said, “I don’t want to do this….” And the worst part was that some part of him really didn’t. I watched him come forward, a step at a time. He held out his hand to me, as if he really wanted to help me up. “But God has shown me that it’s necessary. You have shown me yourself that you deserve punishment. Your very existence is a blasmphemy…. The Hydran civilization was corrupt. They set themselves up to be in God’s place; that was why their civilization fell. It fell from grace. Only full-blooded humans are God’s children, recognizing their role as it was meant to be. Only Earth is pure..”
The scary part of this isn’t that it’s fiction; the scary part is that it’s real. This happens in the real world too (for example Hitler, slavery, prejudices within the same ethnic group etc.) and there are people that for different reasons don’t use their ability to think critically and analyse events. I mentioned Stephen Fry in What happened? He is a very well read man, but still fails. I don’t know if that’s because he is afraid to tackle what science can’t explain and he can’t understand, but that is my theory. That is a sentiment I totally relate to. Life is hard and withdrawing because you fear life is easier than fighting and working towards accepting it.
Among the realities of life we find the presence of evil. Evil likes to hide, preferably in plain sight. It wouldn’t be hard to identify and eradicate evil if it was obvious, if it was plain that it was ugly. To avoid detection it frequently hides where you don’t expect to find it. That requires more of us because the worst type of deception and evil has some element of truth in it. That’s probably why you find it among Christians as well. The Bible warns us against false prophets, but also against false messengers in general. A man isn’t a man of God just because he dresses and talks like one. I remember a priest many years ago that talked about something similar. Studying theology is hard because the students have to read the original texts in Greek and Hebrew, and many do it without conviction. They just see the church as a good career opportunity and a good cover. That’s why God gave us a mind and a free will. He wants us to use the hardware (brain) and the software (our thoughts using the hardware) that make out this beautiful man and woman he created. I believe that’s what it means to be created in his image.
As I mentioned in my previous post I used to be a fan of Stephen Fry. He played in some funny TV-series when I was growing up, but these days I have a lot more respect for C.S. Lewis. He was an atheist, but came to the conclusion that the only thing that made any sense was to accept that there is a God. He had a major crisis when his wife died of cancer, but ultimately his faith survived that too.
Instead of doing the work some look at the harm everything from insects to earth quakes to governments do, and use it as evidence of an evil God. I don’t think these atheists are using neither their hardware or software when they talk like that. If you don’t pay attention you could easily get damaged by malware (malicious software).
I always try to be objective and fair, and I don’t like it when Christians use sarcasm to attack for example supporters of evolution. I don’t believe that’s the behaviour God wants from us. Sometimes it’s very tempting, though. Cat called his adversaries deadheads. It’s very tempting, dear atheists, but I guess I’ll restrain myself. Now that I think about it, we have had an unusual amount of thunder and lightning this autumn/winter, sometimes close to my house too. Are you trying to tell something, God?
Many Nazi soldiers during World War 2 had Gott mit uns/God with us written on the belt buckle. Does that mean that God was responsible for their actions? Hardly!
George Bush has been accused of using God to justify war too.
I’m not sure it was ever confirmed, so I take it with a pinch of salt, but Bush supposedly told the Palestinian President Abbas once that he acted on behalf of God in Afghanistan and Iraq. It could have been a misunderstanding as the statement was translated a couple of times. It probably was a misunderstanding, or one of W’s many examples of a bad choice of words. Read an interesting comment about this on the University og Colorado-site.
On the other side, Tony Blair supposedly said something similar according to The Telegraph, and he was usually more articulate than W, off script as well.
That raises an interesting question. Do you think it is acceptable to use God to justify or legitimize a war for democracy because we are the good guys? I’m very much a pro-American, but it puzzles me how this union can be secular and still talk very much like it represents Christianity.