Wednesday, February 14, 2007

God cannot create a burrito so big even He cannot eat it.

I've been kicking this idea around in my head for a while now, and what better open space to shovel it onto than my tedious blog.

One of my bosses, the bigger of the two, is pretty religious. Very in fact. She gave all of her employees a copy of this book that means a lot to her. It's all about God's love and the value of being moral and virtuous. I'm immediately turned off, but it's important for me not to judge. That paradox established, I started reading, and discovered that this writer is very eloquent, very genuine and very pleasing. Yet, I still have one fundamental flaw with the writer's conception of God, and it's the same criticism i have of most conceptions of God. God "loves us", "pays attention to us", "listens to us", is "always there, we just have to find Him", and is always trying to get us to resist the "enemy" (Satan). Aside from the fact that I think an evil force in the world is silly and juvenile, I find the idea of a God who is on one hand completely benevolent and at the same time good and capable of "listening to us" to be unreasonable. Here's why:

If we assume that God is completely benevolent, then God must be omnipotent. If God were simply very powerful and good natured, God would be potentially fallible. If we have the faith that God is always 100% good all the time, God must not be capable of being governed by any force which could cloud Its judgment.

So, if God is omnipotent, there is nothing greater than God. God is the Alpha and the Omega. God cannot be influenced by anything. If God were vulnerable to being "made angry" or "being pleased", there is some force of the universe capable of acting on God. Something is influencing what God thinks and feels. If this were true, God is not all powerful. God's behavior or thoughts would be subject to forces beyond God's control.

For that matter, God can't "do" or "think" anything at all, since those too would limit God in some way. If God "did something" there would be something that God "did not do". Laws of physics would be in play allowing God to be a certain way and not another. An all-powerful being cannot exist in a world where any governing laws or categories exist outside of It, or those the forces which create and govern those laws and categories are more paramount that God.

So, God cannot love and not hate independently. God must simultaneously love and hate at all times. God must at all times be all things. In fact, there can be no physical separation of anything from God, else whatever separates the two is a force greater than God.

God cannot exist in a world, because in that world there would be existence without God and physical separation from God. God would not be omnipotent. If we concretize God in any way, we establish that God in fact has an boundary, an end. God would not be omnipotent.

It can't even really be "good" or"evil" and remain all-powerful, since both would have to be God. God certainly cannot be omnipotent if it has a polar opposite.

All this sounds like I'm making a go at proving God doesn't exist. Quite the contrary. I've found that I have no problem with a benevolent, omnipotent, all powerful being. It just doesn't run the world. It literally is the world, everything in it, and the entire universe. It is time and timelessness and has no beginning or end.

This is pretty close to there being no God though. For me, if there is a God or isn't, it makes no difference. The world is the same. We either say that there is a God and it's everything, or we say there isn't a God and the world remains entirely the same.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Pretty On the Outside...

I finally got a chance to play Gears of War, and to see Lost Planet. It was an experience. These games look amazing. Not even like "oh wow the snow looks really great" or "wow, there isn't any pixelation at all!" or "gee that box sure falls like a box!". It's like "wow.....this looks real. Like, it looks like it's happening. I believe it!" Amazing tools for storytelling. And so far, from the little ive seen, I like Eternal Darkness better.

I really didn't think that Eternal Darkness would get under my skin the way it did, but it was just so well done! The atmosphere and the drama and the way the game flowed in and out of story, and the way it was continually exciting, for different reasons, the whole way through! A really well made game! What was the main problem I had with it, that would make me not say to a non gamer "hey, you should play this"? All the things that Gears of War impressed me with Eternal Darkness lacks. We made fun of the graphics and teased the poor animation and jeered the video-game-like suspention of disbelief that comes with having to give so many silly commands and having weapons conveniently placed in your path. It isn't real. Yet it was such a more well rounded experience than my limited one with GoW has been.

By the way, I've already stopped playing FF12. It's sad and I'm sure I'll pick it up again, but I really don't care right now. I'd rather be playing FF6 on my computer.

I don't know why I keep trying to justify my scruples when it comes to games. I think it's because critics and art culturs have already come to the concensus that big budgets don't make good films, or good music, or good art. While many people are on my side, that Halo simply isn't that great and SNES is the best system ever, it seems like it's very hard to convince people that big graphics and big budget don't make good game! The Final Fantasy series consistently gets high critical approval, and consistently sucks. First person shooters are praised for their microscopic changes and labeled as innovative when the DS is creating really original games that raise really interesting questions about format and even content, and are labeled as "niche". All the while, self-declared game enthusiasts complain that games are becoming homogenous and simplistic, yet still question the value of the medium as artistic. If we want games to be more sophisticated and expressive, we need to insist that it's possible! Support games that move in the direction you want them to move in. The novelty of pretty textures can only last as long as it takes for the technology to become standard. Good stories engaging gameplay last much longer. If games like Eternal Darkness had the technical research that Gears of War had, perhaps there would be something that would actually cross boundaries.

I feel like the horse I've been beating has actually decomposed and I'm just beating a dry patch dirt, but I will continue to beat said dirt until somewhere, sometime, some video game is given a place in a major entertainment news story, and someone writes Understanding Video Games.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

:( -> :)

There's a feeling that I used to get more when I was in college. It's a strange content feeling that comes from...I guess coming out of a depressed mindset. But thats not really it. It seems like it's partly a self-indulgent, introspective, wallowing in mild depressed thoughts and feelings. It comes on most pleasurably when listening to bitter-sweet music. It hit me just now, a strange masochistic reveling in sadness. It's one of the main draws of post-rock for me. Sometimes things seem most beautiful and worth your time when they're broken and pitiful. I feel justified when I feel sorry for myself.

Real sadness isn't fun though. Real sadness comes with a sense of hopelessness. Maybe what I'm feeling is sadness with hope. The euphoric surprise of things getting better, or things not as bad as they seem. It seems like I've not had time to sit and think in solitude enough to have this feeling. It's strange, you'd think that being preoccupied, being busy and being entertained would breed some sense of profound fulfillment.

Maybe it's just drama. Maybe contentedness is too mundane. Being sad and woeful makes me feel like there's some deeper substance in my boring little day to day, and surmounting the feeling lets me take a step back from the melancholy and label it as substance. If it happens quickly enough, in the span of say a few seconds of a song or the duration of a melody, I hardly feel the sting of loneliness at all and am able to focus on just the pleasure of my own false drama.

It reminds me of the sense of fulfillment that comes from watching a sad, dramatic film about hardships of people you never were and will never meet. If you're convinced that you "get it", then you might be able to leave feeling like a better person, having safely experienced something awful. Even if you were moved to tears, even if you feel like you really really felt the hardship, once you get in your car you're safe. If you don't feel guilty for all your privileges , you (I) might just feel like a more worldly, more valuable, better person with a more substantial world view. All this without actually having to sacrifice anything. I get both the luxury of experience and safety. Feels good, even if it's false.

I hope I don't feel bad soaking in my fleeting dreary now. I like that bitter-sweet feeling.