Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Margaret Atwood on "God"

BT: When The Handmaid's Tale was published, Contemporary Authors listed your religion as "Pessimistic Pantheist," which you defined as the belief that "God is everywhere, but losing." Is this still an accurate description of your spiritual philosophy?

MA: I expect you don't have the foggiest what I meant in the first place. On bad days, neither do I. But let's argue it through. In the Biblical version—Genesis-God created the heaven and the earth—out of nothing, we presume. Or else out of God, since there was nothing else around that God could use as substance. Big Bang theory says much the same, without using the word God. That is: once there was nothing, or else "a singularity." Then poof. Big Bang. Result: the universe. So since the universe can't be made of anything else, it must be made of singularity-stuff, or God-stuff—whatever term you wish to employ. Whether this God-stuff was a thought form such as a series of mathematical formulae, an energy form, or some sort of extremely condensed cosmic plasma, is open to discussion. Therefore everything has "God" in it. The forms of "God," both inorganic and organic, have since multiplied exceedingly. You might say that each new combination of atoms, molecules, amino acids, and DNA is a different expression of "God." Therefore each time we terminate a species, "God" becomes more limited. The human race is terminating species at an alarming rate. It is thereby diminishing God, or the expressions of God. If I were the Biblical God, I would be very annoyed. He made the thing and saw that it was good. And now people are scribbling all over the artwork. It is noteworthy that the covenant made by God after the flood was not just with Noah, but with every living thing. I assume that the "God's Gardeners" organization in I used this kind of insight as a cornerstone of their theology. Is that any clearer?

from the BoldType interview

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I imagine that if Margaret Atwood were an English prof, she would be a tough one. She seems like she has an excellent, dry sense of humor but also a no-nonsense, straight-up attitude.


Lloydville said...

It's always amusing when people try to project themselves into the mind of God. God must find this amusing as well.

If I were God, I'd be very pleased at having created human beings -- just for their amusement value alone.

Anactoria said...

"It's always amusing when people try to project themselves into the mind of God. God must find this amusing as well."

Ha! ;)
"Amusing" is a nice way of putting it.

I don't know. If there were some kind of anthropomorphic god sitting up in the heavens, checking us out for his viewing pleasure (an idea I don't concede to), I'm not exactly certain that he'd find more to be amused by then to sadden/horrify him. I mean, unless he created us so that he'd get all the channels - horror movies and all. It's a possibility...

Lloydville said...

Someone said God created people because he loved stories.

Elliot said...

Huh! I didn't know Atwood liked using any sort of religious language. Though I did feel that she was creating a kind of postmodern parable, and a well-written one, with Oryx & Crake. Interesting. I like how she expresses herself here.