The way slogans seduce us: Angel, Absurdism, and Faith (not the girl)

YouTube – Joss Whedon: Atheist & Absurdist.

I love Joss but I have extreme skepticism about what he claims he has suffered for his atheism. I also hate the hearing the word “faith” used for an opinion on God’s existence. Whether or not God is trustworthy is a matter of faith. Whether or not he exists has nothing to do with faith (and Hebrews doesn’t say otherwise).

But I’m posting this because I remember actually liking Angel’s slogan: “If what we do doesn’t matter; then all that matters is what we do.” And I feel really stupid for not seeing the irrationality of it immediately. Sometimes I think paradoxes give off the glint of hidden wisdom when they are just plain nonsense.

Angel’s conclusion at the end of Season 2 (or near the end) was that (to repeat) “If what we do doesn’t matter then all that matters is what we do.”

If what we do doesn’t matter, then anything might matter except what we do. You can’t draw the contradiction of a premise from that premise as if it followed as a conclusion from it.

Now that I’ve gotten that issue out of the way (in my own mind, at least), let me say why I think Whedon’s view appeals to people, especially to Christians.

Being able to evaluate and value one’s decisions and commitments without having knowledge of the eternal plan for them is a requirement for the human condition. It is set forth most starkly in the Bible in the book called Ecclesiastes.

So, I think the appeal is precisely because Joss’ view is a close replica of the truth.

But I don’t think it works if there is no plan at all. (And claiming there is no plan seems to actually assert endless knowledge rather than humbly deny it. But that argument would be endless, so I’ll let it go.) It is one thing to make decisions and do your best without understanding why your circumstances exist or how you fit into a larger picture. But it is another to say that there is no picture.

To really act as Angel does actually requires faith. And that, in my opinion, is why Whedon had to include a miracle in his story. Viewers would have felt like there was no point without it.

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