Earl's God

“Their gods are wood and stone, but our God cannot be destroyed.” As a boy, in fifth grade Bible study, I read these words and they remain with me always as a testament that my God is the final answer. It was the first time I realized that one god could be better than another. Clearly, my God was less vulnerable than these pagan idols, which could easily be destroyed by the ravaging acts of iconoclastic armies. To execute my god, you would minimally have to exterminate everyone with a memory of His existence. A god made of nothing; it’s brilliant: a god with a surface harder than diamonds. A devoted iconoclast, of course, will always find a way.
If our God is given dimension and substance by our thoughts, then it is the thoughts themselves that the conquering armies must ravage. As a young man, I enlisted my time in support of this cause. Though I have softened my position later in life, I am not sure I was ever discharged from the army, as the call to destroy still cries from within me. I was a fool to enlist.
I once asked my brother, who was deeply religious and brighter than I even on his dimmest day, if he believed that God could do all things. “All things that are possible,” he responded. He preemptively answered my attack. I had intended to ensnare him in the philosophical trap invented by Blaise Pascal: “God is not all-powerful, as He cannot build a wall He cannot jump.” Today I would never borrow such a ruse, not even from Mr. Pascal, whom I admire immensely. While Pascal may have thought it was illogical to assume the All–Mighty’s omnipotence, his conundrum offers no evidence to support his theory. To say that a being’s power is limited because even the being himself is incapable of circumventing it is not a very good argument against his absolute power. The thing that He cannot do is nonsensical, and only impossible for that reason. It is like one kid telling another that his dad can win a fight with anyone: “Oh, yeah, what about with your dad?”
I used to exterminate regularly, but it has been awhile. I have a spider living in the corner of one of my bathrooms. He is a bit of an obstacle. I have to dust around him to avoid disturbing him and I am careful not to spray anything toxic near his ramshackle home. I think he is a daddy long legs, but I do not call him that to his face, as it somehow seems base. His more proper designation is pholcus phalangoides, and though that sounds really dignified, I just call him Earl.
If Earl were a little more aware, he would realize that there is nothing that I cannot do. From my brilliant production of written words with the mere tap of plastic keys on my laptop, to my magical extermination sprays that seem to come out of nowhere and smite his cousins when they displease me, it would seem that I am god; and an omnipotent god at that. Earl would be wrong about my powers. While I am infinitely more capable than he is, I cannot secrete silk. Moreover, no matter how hard I try, I cannot perform the simple task of thinking like a spider. I can never know what it means to be Earl, to feel what he feels, to experience the world through eight eyes, and his philosophically sleeping mind.
I was surprised to learn that in making his webs, Earl does not use a uniform silk. He is a very meticulous artisan, and far more clever than I used to think. The silk he weaves has many different textures and a variety of fibers, each with its purpose. I am not even scientific enough to distinguish one silken thread from another, a feat he makes look effortless. This spider has a horrible god. Moreover, Earl is a bit of a genius when it comes to the production and use of silk.
My God, the real God, is completely invisible to Earl. I can see Him, mostly through the lens of legend and the swash of rumors. He also co-authored some books, which once were scrolls, whose foundations started out as rocks. My God has a network of ghost-writers and has been producing literature for some time now. Unlike Earl, I see my God through the things He creates. His living creations and written words tell me of His existence. His missionaries point to the paper work He left scattered about and they show me marvelous things, like Earl, and explain that I cannot make a spider, nor can any man, so my God did it. Before I learned of God, I thought Earl was created by other daddy long legs, but it turns out that daddy long legs and their ancestors could not have always existed. I later learned that everything in the universe must have a beginning, so something must have started daddy long legs off; these spiders were caused to come into existence, which means, by definition, that they must have a Causer, and that causer is my God. My God has no causer, which seems like a violation of the rule, but it’s really OK, as He has no beginning.  
As Earl’s god, I am proud to be part of the divine chain. Earl is in there too. If moths were more aware of my spider’s exploits, and had a vocabulary sufficient to allow it, they would probably pray to him. Poseiden used water, Vulcan (Hephaestus) used Fire, Earl uses silk to maintain his divinity.  As we look up this divine chain we find creatures that are increasingly capable, until finally, all the way at the top, we find My God, the uncaused Causer of it all, who needs to pray to no one, who answers to no one. Everything is His way and there is nothing any creature in the universe can do about it.
I wonder if my God realizes His true power, or if He gets confused, and like the lower gods in the chain, prays. What if He imploringly lifts His hands to empty ether and beseeches it for greater understanding? What if this futile act makes Him sense more intimacy with the nothingness in which He imagines an ineffable life-form? How foolish that would be. I guess His spiritual life shouldn’t really concern me when all that really matters is that my God can do anything; He is indestructible; He is the final answer. One thing still bothers me, though: He is not wood, not stone, not really any other corporeal material either, and so I worry that maybe He has trouble secreting silk.


  1. interesting but maybe Earl was aware of a god beyond you after all. You see animals have this unspoken law not to kill for fun but for need. In the animal world needless killing would be considered murder. Earl saw you not as a god but as a danger. Animals understand something we don't. So treat them as if they were a brethren. They don't need books yet they understand in a way if we were made kings they would be guides.

  2. The best way to manage a creation a corporation or any group is to make changes so minimal they go unnoticed. Anything more or less causes chaos. Its these small things that add up. So god can be incredible weak yet manage a world so immense.

  3. TK, I try to be good to them. I am a vegetarian. I don't kill them when I want them removed from my house. I take them outside. The exterminator kills them, but he is a just an assassin for hire. I do hire him, of course, but I reason that this is act of altruism, for if I let Earl and his family continue to procreate, at some point I will have to rid myself of him. Of course, I am now protecting Earl, because he is my beloved spider, not an anonymous pest. If we knew our enemies, they would often be our friends. Thank God, we don't.


  4. Thats great then by the way happy new years

  5. You see animals have this unspoken law not to kill for fun but for need. In the animal world needless killing would be considered murder. How true and I found it simply wonderful that you mention this fact TK! Is the fact that we kill for spite and other stupid reasons because we have the ability to reason or we are just assholes at the top of the food chain?

  6. Dusty,

    This will probably not be very popular when I take it this far, but we kill for sport and for spite because we are the assholes at the top of the food chain.

    Animals who do not kill for sport, which is most, are no "better" than the ones that doI don't think the ones that do kill for sport have a moral center, in which case they are exempt from any guilt.

    I am unclear as to why hurting something or watching something suffer is fun to an intellectual human. Some people try to invoke the Malthusian theory as an explanation as to why we should want to see things suffer at our hands. I think Malthus would rollover in his urn.

    You know who I blame? Eve and her damn apple!

  7. John, I agree with you on most of your comment, but I must take issues with this:
    I don't think the ones that do kill for sport have a moral center, in which case they are exempt from any guilt. - They might not have any guilt, but that doesn't mean they aren't assholes and/or fuckwads of the highest degree.

    Also, blaming eve is just wrong! ;p

  8. Oh, I should have been more clear. I meant that non-human animals that kill for sport have no moral center, and are therefore exempt from guilt. I think most humans who kill for sport probably do have a moral center, and its defective.

  9. One more thing: By reading these comments, people would think this post was about hunting or killing.

    It is basically asking the question about God:

    "... What if I found Him on His Knees,
    to a greater sky, hands raised?"

    And observing that if a God that is way more powerful than us exists, does that mean he is almighty?

    He may not be omnipotent. I would seem to be God to a spider, but I cannot even secret silk.

  10. I own a handgun but I am a bleeding heart liberal thru and thru. That means I do not turn the other cheek nor am I a pacifist. Someone fucks w/me or my loved ones and I will take their ass out, or at the very least...shoot the door jam by your left ear to kingdom come.

    Gawd..or God..is nothing more than a figment of peoples imagination..people that have the need to believe in a higher being. To give him omnipotent attributes is just plain ole bullshit.

    On the other hand, when I have smoked a bowl or two..I think my feline Scooter is God..or at the very least, one of his disciples. ;P

    You still haven't addressed the Eve comment dude! Plus, I sent you my email address as per your request.

  11. This electonic world is very complex. I did not get the Email.

    Above Eve. I guess I owe her an apology, but she is kind deceased, so it's complicated.

  12. shit, the gods are against me it seems.

    I resent the email. Pray that it makes it's way to your inbox. ;p

  13. I enjoyed this. Send my regards to Earl. Here we have spiders in the bathroom too, also woodlice in season. But slugs are the creatures which most inspire me to compassion and theological reflection, because of their helplessness and apparent humility. I say “apparent” because it is possible that they are arrogant and haughty, and I’m simply misreading their body language.

    You have inspired me to start tagging my posts with a label. Over at my place I now proudly have a list of labels, containing one item: Slugs (4).

  14. John Myste, I marvel at your mind, sir!

    I must admit that, through your thought-provoking writing, you have indeed caused me to fall down in awe and become a fan! (That does not make you my God, however!)

  15. Vincent,

    I found your slug tags and they were jolly funny (Since jolly good seems to have fallen out of favor and I still like it, I am coining this new phrase. I think this is OK).

    Mr. T,

    Now that I have converted you to atheism, we must work on your ideas about healthcare and taxes. I started with a post on your site. I said what the truth is and offered not a stitch of evidence to support it.

    Admittedly, I was tempted to find you statistics and other indicators, perhaps with a few documented facts scattered about, but then I realized that this would be a ton of work and would do nothing to lessen your faith in your position.

    As the Almighty Apostle has taught me, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for ...."

    I hope you will join me and my fellows in liberalism.

  16. Did someone steal my moniker and declare me to be some heathen unbeliever?!? ;) I proclaim it to be not so!

    Further, as I have seemingly found a worthy political and philosophical opponent in you, Mr. Myste, I will endeavor to show you the error of your liberal ways accordingly.

    Already it appears that despite your well-thought-out arguments and protestations, it would seem that I am the winning Perry Mason to your always-defeated Hamilton Burger. I admire your perseverance thus far, my friend! Cheers to you, counselor!