sent in by Deamond
I've been reading the book Nineteen eighty-Four by George Orwell. (it's interesting to read a sci-fi novel about a Distopian future that happened when I was three yeqars old.) I think in many ways the book could be seen as an Atheistic aligory.
Big Brother's face exists everywhere. He sees all, he knows all, he can almost read minds, he is all-powerfull, his enemies are tortured and are then erased ("vapourised" is the word used in the book) from all exiswtence including past existence. They never existed. Big Brother can even change the past. And does, all the time.
Yet, most likely, Big brother himself probably doesn't exist, I think he's probably just a cartoon character, like Uncle Sam, used to represent the Inner Party.
I can see elements of myself in both Wynston and Julia. Like Wynston smith, I have always questioned everything, I have a keen sense of bullshit, and am mystified by the stupidity of the Masses. Like Julia, I am totally oposed to the sexual opression of the establishment. I don't swear as much as she does (when there's no Telescreens around, she says the word "Bloody" a lot) but the swear words I do say are much worse.
Before I go on maybe I should explain a little more about how "Oceana" works.
There are tree identicle superpowers; Oceana (America, Britain, Australia, etc) Eurasia (Russia and Europe) and Eastasia (Asia, Japan, and some parts of Africa.) All three are in a contunuous war that's lasted sence the 40's with no progress.
In London there are tree kinds of people; the "Inner Party" (those running everything) the "Outer Party" (everyone else who lives and works in London) and "The Proles" ("Prolitarian" poor people with low education and cockney accents who live outside of London. Many are muggers and prostitutes, but the Thought Police don't care because they mostly victimize eachother.)
There are four huge, Pyramid-like buildings in london; the Ministry of Plenty (MidiPlenty)(the treasury, who are in charge of distributing starvation thruought England) the Ministry of Peace (MidiPax)(The millitary), the Ministry of Love (MidiLuv)(The Thought Police, who are in charge of torturing people for "thoughtcrime") and the Ministry of Truth (MidiTru).
Wynston himself has a job in the ministry of Truth. His job is basically to "correct" old back-issues of Newspapers. If Eurasia becomes the ally and Eurasia becomes the enemy, he has to change all the old newspapers to make it look like eurasia was aleays the ene,my and Eastasia never was. If one of the oher ministries come out with news that contradicts a previous prediction, he changes the prediction so they can claim they were right. Ironically, his job is a huge source of his doubts, and it's also an interesting aradox that the Party's bullshit is expected to be swallowed by the very people doing the shoveling.
Julia works in the Fiction Department, he's basically the mechanic on a computer that writes and publishes crappy romance novels with no plots, which will then be sold to Prole children who think they're buying something illegal.
Thruought London, there are things called "Telescreens", which are basically TVs which can't be turned off and which can also recieve images and sound. The shows broadcast on them usually come from the Ministry of Truth, but it's the Thought Police that are revieving images of what you're doing. This doesn't happen to the Proles because the Party considder them to have a status similiar to animals.
There's also another, less high-tech device called a "Memoury Hole" which is basically an opening in a wall to a tube which leads directly to a furnace. Basically it's used as both a bin and a shredder, only WAY more efficient at destroying evidence beyond recognition.
Anyway, one of the things about Big Brother that struck me as IDENTICAL to Christanity is the Party's attitude towards sex. julia herself is a member of the "Anti-Sex league" (which makes her a blatant hypocrite and prowd of it). Marriages are usually formed only to create children. Prostitution is illegal, but it's a five-year sentence, not a death sentense, even if you're caught. Marriages can even be denied if the authorities in qusetion believe two people want to be married because they're sexually attracted to eachother. The idea here is not so much that Big Brother is opposed to sex, but simply that Big Brother is trying to destroy the joy of sex by turning it into something dirty. Wynston was married, but currently sepparated (but technically not devourced) to a stupid woman without an ounce of sexual desire for him in her entire body, whereas Julia actually liked being toughed. Strangely, it was his wife that was oposed to a platonic husband-wife relationship because whe wanted to "do her duty to the party" by "making babies". Wynston couldn't stand her.
Another thing I found interesting was the idea of "DoubleThink", which could actually discribe some of the comments Christians have made on this verry websight. They deem Abiogenisis to be rediculous, yet find it perfectly acceptible that an entire multicelular organism can suddenly spring from a lump of cay. They deem the "Big Bang" theory to be bullshit because they don't know what caused it, yet claime Jehovah just existed for infinite eons for no reason and then for no aparent reason suddenly said, "Let there be light".They claim thattheir God is perfect and good, and then start making up excuses when you point out all the Genocide and Slavery in the book itself. They think that "You're going to HELL for making that arguement" is a logical and valid counter-arguement which actually somehow makes what the Atheist said untrue. They'll claim that the Bible is perfect and without error, but will sometimes explain Biblical contradictions by claiming the witnesses to the event were mistaked, i.e. the Authors of the Bible (who most likely weren't even there, if the event occured at all) were in error. Some Christians (not all, to be fair) have even argued not only against Science, but also against logic (logic desn't make any sense), reason (the devil's whore), the use of one's mind (that wouldn't be faith), and examining the evedence (you're being decieved by the Devil).
Doeblethink isn't just hypocracy or contradiction, it's the ability to hold two ideas in your head at the same time. More precisely, what you do is, you're aware of a previous fact, you become aware of a new claim of the party, the claim contradicts the old fact, but you believe both fully and without doubt, and then, through concious and intentional act, you reject and forget the old fact in favour of the new claim. Then you make yourself forget that you forgot it. You didn't forget anything. There was no contradiction, you never performed the act of "doublethink", you didn't make yourself forget anything, there was never anything to forget, the New Claim isn't even new, the New Claim had always been fact.
And it gets worse. After Wynston gets busted, his torturer (I won't spoil it by saying his name) seems to have an interesting definition of "sanity". If you're a minority of one, you're insane. The Party is the majority, therefore the Party is right. Wynston repeatedly thrupught the book said that "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four." His torturer actually challenged this theory. by tortureing him while repeatedly askinghim how many fingers he saw. Twice he sad "Four", once he said "Five" but was accused of lying, and then after more torture hus vision became distorted and honestly easn't sure, to which his torturer said, "Better". He even went on to claim that the universe was small ang young, because Man only existed a few thousand years and reality only exists in the mind of man and therefore the collective beliefs of the minds of the Party can alter the universe as they see fit. He even claimed he could rise up off the floor like a soap bubble but big Brother doesn't want him to. In Short, the Party basically has a collective insanity.
Personally, I say that, if the entire known universe were destroyed (that is, all the planets and galaxies that we actually know exists) 99.9% of the universe wouldn't even notice, and 0.001% of the universe would only be aware of a brief red spot of light in the night's sky millions of years after the fact. Reality litterally exists with or without us. Reality is the thing that doesn't go away when you stop believing in it.
The torturer, when he allowed Wynston to freely ask him questions, told Wynston that Big brother does exist, but also claimed that he was immortal. when Wynston said, "No, I mean, does he exist as I exist?" he replied, "You do not exist".
In fact, the Torturer even compared the party's methods to those of Inquisitors as well as Nazi and Communist interrigators. He said that the Inquisition failed because it killed people while they were still defiant, and instead of destroying herecy they were perpetuating herecy by makeing Martyrs of heretics. the Nazis and Communists were closer to the Party in methods, but they still made Martyrs because they tortured their "heretics" into confession and submission but not enough to prevent them from still becoming martyrs. The Party, however, he claimed, tortures people for much longer untill they not only obey but submit and believe in Big Brother, and give themselves willingly to the Party so that when they ARE executed it's practically a willing act of almost suicide, and thus they are not Martyrs but are dying for Big Brother. In other words, it's brainwashing.
Christians often wish they could change the past as Wynston himself does. But they often do the next best thing; they re-enterperet the Bible as they see fit. Try having a logical arguement with a Fundie about biblical contradictions, they'll start saying, "When Jesus says this he means that" etc.
Became a Christian: 0 or 1
Ceased being a Christian: about 14
Labels before: Catholic
Labels now: Atheist or Darwinian
Why I joined: "give me a child from the age of seven up, and his mind forever."
Why I left: Christianity is no different from any other myth
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)