Admittedly there is at least one major bummer about being an atheist. It’s a pretty big one, too. Quite simply: I’m deprived of a bunch of gods. Dammit. I guess that comes with the territory. So, in self defense, I learned to pray only to the Great Airlock.
“Oh, Great Airlock, please hear my humble plea.”
“I’m sorry, Tom. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
It’s easy to see how the Great Airlock could come in handy. Alas, it never quite works out that way. The Airlock is a cruel god. But you still gotta believe, right?
I’ve pontificated about The Great Airlock in the past. In theory, He represents immutable consequences to choice and action. The origin mythology is exceedingly simple: When the button is pushed the door opens. The door cares not what is on the Other Side. The door cares not if the occupant is ready. The door opens. The results are what they are. Nothing can change that. Nothing. Not even a god.
The burner on the stove is on. The burner is hot. You have a choice. Touch it? If that is your action, the consequence is akin to “hot water burn baby.” Even the Great Airlock can’t help you. And what if He did? What if Great Airlock said, “You’ve been sucked out. You are now in the vacuum of space. But I have decided to protect you with my great magic. You live still.”
What, pray tell, would be learned? Without great consequence great actions have no meaning. Stupidly written but I’m trying to sound Spiderman-esque.
Humans make shitty gods. That’s why the Great Airlock says, “Thou shalt have no airlocks before Me except such redundant systems as seems logical for safety.” Make a stupid choice and He will make you pay, but He also respects those who take proper precautions. Get humans involved, though, and suddenly it’s all muddled up with emotions and gaming of the system. What used to be starkly simple is now grossly unfair because of fuzzy things like feelings of regret, nepotism and irrelevant manipulations due to money and power.
I long for the simplicity of the Great Airlock.
What if killing a person was subject to His powers? The killer would die. There would be no debate. No explanations. No begging. No heartfelt appeals. No legal trickery. No deception. The door opens and you go into space without a suit. You’re dead (and exploded a bit from the inside out). Nothing personal. That’s just the way the shit works. And it has the added bonus of being absolutely fair. Everyone gets the same thing no matter what. No variance. Always and forever.
What if, however, the system was designed so that similar actions always resulted in different outcomes? What if the hot stove didn’t always burn?
Take a human being and manipulate the system so they do not face the consequences of their actions. What happens? This is powerful stuff. If that pattern gets established, the person is fucked for life. And, because of our social nature, other members of the group notice and learn. Humans quickly glean that if there is no negative result to an action then there is no reason to avoid the action. We excel at that. Water seeks its own level and humans seek that which they can get away with.
My case in point is drunk driving. It is my opinion that since the activity can (and often does) result in the deaths of innocents, driving while intoxicated should literally be treated as attempted murder. Period. Because that’s exactly what it is. Even a bullet can’t kill every single time.
But, for reasons completely unknown to me, humans don’t treat DUII that way. The Great Airlock is kept at bay. Many second chances are provided. So many that no learning can actually take place. The system accommodates the offender again and again.
My point in simple: If the system took notice, in the spirit and style of the Great Airlock, then people would be less likely to engage in the activity. If the outcomes are certain and sufficiently unpleasant, why risk the activity? There are other choices to be made. But no risk means the decision making has been rendered completely meaningless.
Some might argue: No one was hurt this time. No harm, no foul. I say that only postpones the inevitable.
What then if the worst does happen? What if a person who has never learned the meaning of consequence steals a couple cases of beer, goes out for a joyride, and with a BAC over three times the legal limit kills four human beings? What then?
Sadly, even then, the Great Airlock is powerless against us humans. How is the person held accountable? Do they die? No, we don’t even attempt to enforce that standard. That’s not even on the table.
So they go to jail, right? If the Great Airlock was the decider, the answer would be yes, each and every time, no matter what.
But He has no power here. Instead we humans get to decide. And that means consequences that are completely unfair, twisted and gamed. To such an extent that sometimes the guilty aren’t even sentenced to a single day in jail. Kill four human beings through your gross and deliberate irresponsibility and we won’t even incarcerate you.
The Great Airlock has no power on this planet. And an already damaged person was just made a hell of a lot worse. My prayers have been denied.
Advanced Studies: Archived “airlock” posts
“Thou shalt have no airlocks before Me except such redundant systems as seems logical for safety.”
May need to include this in my manual ‘Atheists at Your Meeting: What To Do When Your Higher Power Gets Publicly Kicked To The Curb.’
Serious subject, wonderful work.
note: Had to write the manual after a bible-thumping-jesus-spouting-noob basically chased everyone who wasn’t religious out of an AA meeting one day. I may have gone a bit overboard in my retort. Just a bit. She ran crying from the room and never returned to that particular meeting.
I feel it was for the greater good. As opposed to the great god.
When people try to convert me I generally take it as a compliment if they are nice and not too pushy. I don’t care very much, though, for the ones with sniper rifles.
Feel free! I’m honored at the inclusion. 🙂 I’d love to read this miraculous tome.
Thanks for the nice words!
I think we all have gods — whether they are the old, bearded white guy on a cloud, the rampant pursuit of stuff and money, or even something as blase’ as “karma”. Gods are the things that we tell ourselves about to make us feel better when we start realizing that we’re a fairly random biological blink of an eye. So why not The Great Airlock? 🙂
Totally agree with you re: DUI —
I want the Great Airlock on a tee shirt. For Christmas. Better get busy. *grin*
It’s the perfect get for some random December day. I hope it drops for you.