Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Bat-God

Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same god? Is the God of the Torah the same as the God of the Bible the same as the God of the Koran?

Here's my (atheistic) take on it: God is like Batman. I don't mean that he's a superhero who fights crime under the cover of darkness (though that would be pretty cool). What I mean is that the different versions of Batman are like the different versions of God. There's the Batman of the comics, the Batman of the early Batman movies and the Batman of the rebooted Christian Bale Batman movies.

In each version, certain important characteristics stay the same. Batman is always dresses up as a bat to fight crime, has a batmobile and a batcave, etc. God is always the omnipotent creator of the universe, who personally cares about humans.

But also, important characteristics change. Who killed Batman's parents and where did he learn to be an expert in hand-to-hand combat? Who was God's most recent prophet and does he care if we eat pork?

So, is God the same God? Well, in the most important aspects, yeah, pretty much. But, that doesn't mean they're interchangeable regardless of context. You can't talk about why Michael Keaton's Batman never mentions Ra's al Ghul because it's not the same continuity. Similarly, you can't ask why the Christian God allows pork when the Jewish God prohibits it.

Of course, this is approaching God as a purely fictional literary character. A real entity can't be three different versions at once. Wait a minute...

(As a sidenote, I find it somewhat interesting that Aphrodite is another god(dess) who rather different versions of herself.)

1 comment:

  1. I think this issue is a matter of what perspective you take. In the historical development of these religions, all of the subsequent descriptions are technically about the same source power. However, within the context of each religion and each ones' "word of God" they all describe very different deities. They have different command, voices, actions, identities, and ideas that are stressed. These forms as described by each religion are very similar in nature maybe, but have very contradictory characteristics (more even that the inherent contradictions in each religion!).
    I think your comparison to Batman is a good one. All the different versions of Batman are "technically" the same character with the same history. And while the general characteristics of each Batman are similar, the set up of each Batman realm are so different it becomes easy to feel a very different character is being portrayed.