A poem about God and determinism

A poem about God and determinism January 27, 2015

 And now for something completely different. This has come through my friend Julian Haydon, and it a great piece of creative atheology, dripping with deterministic wordsmithying I love it. Let me know what you think.

Your Gift Gorgeous,

or How Handsome is Your Boat?

W. Barrett

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,”

once wisdom,

now a Fool’s Game,


spitting fathers, ferocious families, battling brothers,

the blood of entire civilizations,

exacting their unforgiven judgements,

now forcing their religious laws on you,

their Tiny Point of View,

indulging their enmity,

their hate,

their Flag now complete,

their Religion whole,

their Tiny Unexamined Life, now

“All Wisdom.”

Each of these Murdering Traditions

worshipping a Generous God

as only male, never female—

as Policeman and Judge, not Loving Father or Poet;

as a Clobbering Battle General,

not also Nuturing Mother,

ready to knock some sense into you

or easily annihilate your entire village,

this “God” certainly not even as worthy

as your own mother,

or even a Good Friend

who took the time to help show you the way.

These Old Intractable Traditions,

still overflowing with their spit and vinegar,

still fresh on this earth,

intent on forcing each son,

every wife,

each daughter,

every variety of Art & Culture

that God has breathed Poetic Life into

to Be Them,

to judge you as definitely not like Them

to do this Policeman’s Will,

this Male’s Bidding,

even meddle in all your “stupid” behaviors,

after all, “What’s wrong with you?”

Meanwhile in the East,

or in the Heart of The Poet

or within the Thoughtful Observable World

of Common Sense,

if someone said he was the author of his blue eyes

he was seen the fool;

where he who counted himself the author of his Talents at Birth

was considered a simple mind;

where he who counted his sense of humor his own creation,

not gleaned from 6,000 days in the den of a silly father,

was seen an unthankful simpleton.

And what poor little bruised ego,

or thirsty insecurity,

or ignored thanksgiving

allows one to consider himself the creator of his selflessness,

his much-admired care for the poor,

after he had lived in the stirrings of 18 Falls and Winters

in the warmth of his mother

and all of those hot dinners and warm coats

she collected for the poor?

So that in the Thoughtful Observable World,

or sometimes in Asia,

common folk knew something 2,500 years ago

that the Raging West still refused to learn:

that behavior was largely the result of your Genes,

Your Family Line,

your grandfather’s artistic touch as well as his huge frame,

your great-grandmother’s penchant for parties as well as her blue eyes,

your mother’s raging temper as well as her small wrists;

that behavior was sometimes also entirely the result of Family Example,

what you saw happen during each of those 6,000 Days

of chaos or sweetness,

caring attention or complete ignorance of You,

Rules and Boundaries or the Spoiled Excesses of Narcissists,

6,000 Days of fear and survival or play,

a very specific warm or cold or freezing environment

that molded and shaped each person—

and that the Totality of You was only very partly in your control,

your Will in a Powerful Wind,

depending on whether your parents made $20 a year

or $200,000;

or whether you lived 10 years in the grip of a chronic illness,

or lay dying like a million children are right now,

or not;

and depending on whether your Family or Village ever planted in you

a thirst for violence or art,

for ignorance or reading,

a love of craft,

or any other habit of self-discipline—or not.

Each of these Blessings, Evolutions and Fates now conveniently forgotten,

a Starving, Self-Protecting Ego

now frantically grabbing all the credit,

a Tormented Shame taking all the blame.

And yet what Nuturings and Stabbings

of innocent, starry-eyed children

over twenty Winters,

a thousand Tuesdays

and yet another thousand weekends

ever loomed larger in the lives

of each person here walking???

So that God was much more Generous,

Fate Larger,

much more Understanding

of your “good” and “bad” behaviors,

your Brand-New Idea

among God’s 650 million year Creation

that  Nature or Fate could be “Bad.”

Your brand-new Pre-Packaged Idea,

Unexamined Sales Pitch

here on the earth now

after only four billion years of God’s Ethic,

God’s Oceans churning,

Fate’s Fish having now blown bubbles

for 650,000 years before you came


cementing these Religious Requirements,

unlike God

who was much less concerned with your behaviors

than how Beautiful you were

floating there freckled or black,

happy or miserable

there among the other Fish,





Much less concerned with your behaviors than

what your Experience would be

on your Boat,

your Venture,

your joyful Gasps at the stars,

your Conundrums,

your Loves,

your Dilemmas,

your Lessons Learned on the high seas,

your Beauty floating here,

not the results.

Nature, God, Fate, the Universe

(your Genes and Family Example)

building your Boat,

choosing all the wood, nails, glue, brass,

the fat sails to sail, the open portholes to see,

all the hot oatmeal and fur coats to keep you warm.

Fate, God, Nature, the Universe

choosing most of the Storms,

Star-Filled Nights,

Cracked Hulls,

even a few of your Kisses

on those clear days of your Adventure.

Indeed, if God was the Creator of 100% of your Boat’s shape,

color, size, contents;

if Nature’s Fate was responsible for 100% of your Boat’s Early Sailings,

even most of your Destinations,

was it your “good” and “bad” behavior,

your “good” and “bad” sailings that occupied God’s time?

Or was it the absolute Thrill,

the gut-wrenching Experience,

the Lessons Learned

on the deck of Your Gorgeous Vessel,

this Boat’s Color and Strength and Buoyancy

in the Winds of Fate that would surely blow?

Indeed, the questions God asked of you,

were not about your “good & bad” behavior

as much as they were about

how unique and rare Your Creation was,

this Evolution,

your Drama

this Holy Process,

your History

of “Why” these behaviors were there in you in the first place.

It is true that you did often yell at her,

but wasn’t it  because she wouldn’t shut-up,

or was it because you were a bad person?

It is true that Robert did steal food,

but was it because he was a criminal or because he was hungry?

And if he had no parents to teach him to work, would he ever?

And did you yell at everyone in your family because they misbehaved,

or becuase you hated your work,

or were tired?

Indeed, here was God,

here in this Holy Process,

in You,

in your Holy Seeing,

the Holy Revelation of WHY you were so temper tossed?

Or WHY people could walk all over you?

Or WHY you had to be right all the time,

so much more the point

than endlessly blaming you.

Or him.

The Gods certainly unphased by

all of your quick judgements,


your lack of compassion,

your cheap, lazy cartoons

of “good” and “bad” behavior,

and having written-down so permanently

that this is exactly who God was.

So, friend,

how much of Your Boat did you create?

And how much of the wood and nails and glue did you contribute?

How far had your Boat sailed before you awoke?

Indeed, hadn’t you lived every hour of your life on an Ocean,

in a Weather,

on a Colorful Sea,

a Chunky Soup,

a Holy Fate

that had shaped and punched and serenaded you?

Leaving you now standing there

sometimes struggling

with your “Good & Bad” Behavior?

Do you really think you are smart enough

to have created all your Talents at Birth,

or your Temper, your Sentimentality?

Or that you can actually control which person your heart pounds for

when your chest goes “Bang, Bang, Boom!?”

Or that you can actually control who and how much you love,

or hate?

Or, lying there in your first waddling, what Design you would become,

how skinny or fat

you would someday be,

what all of your holy history has been,

your Life’s Arc,

your Fate?

Tell me, were you the Master Author of You,

or did God build,

Nature paint,

Fate prepare


So the answer had never been  “An eye for an eye,”

or “burning in hell for eternity”

or behavior alone,

but “Why” you do what you do.

Much more important to

see your Colorful Dramas,

your Chunky Dilemmas,

and learn from them

accepting yourself as part of Nature’s on-going Evolution,

understanding yourself as Unfinished,

forgiving yourself as God’s Child,

Fate’s Vessel,

one of the Sky’s Shooting Stars

out there on the high seas.

So the answer was not  “An eye for an eye,”

or “burning in hell for eternity,”

or behavior alone,

but “Why” he does what he does.

See all of his Colorful Dramas,

see his Chunky Dilemmas, not just yours.

Accept him as Unfinished,

forgive him as God’s Child,

Fate’s Vessel,

one of the Sky’s Shooting Stars

out there on the high seas.

Indeed, how handsome is your Boat?

Not even what you do with it,

not even how old it is,

but that Grand Vessel floating there right now,

decked-out in all of its Holy Comforts,



a few Dreams,




a daily Breeze,

colorful sea flags,

a worn white bottom,

polished brass portholes that had seen a Lifetime,

music and laughter sometimes fluttering in its wind.

And how holy do you count its Creation,




And did you know that deep down in every heart,

far from where we judge our lives,

far from where we persecute,


beat-up on ourselves

and God’s other Creations,

is a flickering,

Struggling Light,

a knowledge that innately knows,

that innately respects,


this Boat as Gorgeous?

Your Gift Gorgeous.

W. Barrett

Inverness, CA; 2006

Mr. Barrett granted me the right to use this poem with credit to him, through Julian Haydon.

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  • Void Walker

    One of the primary reasons that your average theist rejects determinism and holds to contra-causal free will is to rid Yahweh of culpability. After all, He would be an abhorrent monster otherwise….

    Also, check this out Johnathan: http://breakingthefreewillillusion.com/cause-cannot-multiple-possible-effects-infographic/#more-1317 I just ordered his book and I’m uber psyched to delve in.


    • It’s a great introductory book. He’s a mate on facebook and reviewed mine.

      • Void Walker

        So, as far as more in-depth and detailed explorations of determinism go, what are some good places to look? I’m beginning to grasp determinism in more ways than I’d previously imagined, and it’s utterly transformed my view of both life and the cosmos, so I naturally want to learn as much as humanly possible about it.

          • Void Walker

            Yep, and I greatly enjoyed it, but, IMO, it wasn’t so much an exploration of determinism as it was an application of it in legal systems and the implications of said application.

            One thing I’ve been pondering is the role that evolution has played in determining both the structure of living things and their behavior. I think of it as evolutionary determinism (or, shorter, ED), and it’s not mentioned enough when discussing determinism/free will related issues. When you think of it, evolution (as far as life is concerned) is the causal master of our brains, and equally of our ability to make choices. One could easily work up a powerful argument in favor of determinism via evolution. After all, our very ability to make decisions of any color is the end of a litany of evolutionary factors over vast spans of time.

          • Have you read Incognito?


            Also Steven Pinker’s How the Mind work is a voluminous piece covering much of evolution of our brain and characteristics.

          • Void Walker

            Thanks for the recs, I’m gonna check em both out.