The clothes have no Emperor!

The clothes have no Emperor! June 4, 2020


You know the popular Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale about the Emperor who was sold ‘invisible garments’? He was told they were made of the finest fabric that was invisible to all but the clever. Naturally, he didn’t want to appear to be stupid so he played along by admiring the standard of tailoring and went on parade in the nude. Everyone kept their mouths shut because they didn’t want to appear stupid either, except for one small boy who blurted out the truth. Danny Kaye turned this into a classic song in the movie version, “The King is in the altogether, the altogether, the altogether, he’s altogether as naked as the day that he was born”.

So why has that floated into my mind?

Well, it’s occurred to me that belief in a god is the opposite: this is a case of real clothes but an invisible King!

Think about it…

We have no evidence for the existence of any god, but that hasn’t stopped believers from creating wardrobes of ‘clothes’ for their preferred deity. They claim to know all sorts of things about his powers, his character, even his sex! According to them, he is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and, more recently, omnibenevolent, and yet, he is acknowledged to be invisible and immaterial!

In their parade, these ‘real clothes’ are spookily floating down the avenue with no visible means of support! “The clothes are on the altogether, the altogether, the altogether, the altogether as invisible a god as the day that he was born”! (Sorry about the scansion!)

I spent a lot of my life teaching Biology, and I can tell you that this is the wrong way round: we can’t attribute properties to a life form until after we have found it. It should come as a surprise to no one to hear that, before Europeans discovered Australia, they had no idea what a kangaroo was like, how it moved, what it ate, how it raised its young, etc. 

For some inexplicable reason, having no evidence for the existence of their god doesn’t stop theists from claiming to know what it is like! It’s as ridiculous as me asserting that my Loch Ness Monster is green and likes Nutella! (Other chocolate spreads are available) See? I can make stuff up too!

Where’s that small boy when you need him?

Image by ArtsyBee Pixabay

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