Are You a Gorilla or a God?

god or gorillaHumanity stands about halfway between gorillas and gods. The great question that looms over us, is this: “Which will we incorporate into our lives? Gorilla things or God things?”

The choice is ours. Yes, various choices are thrust upon us all our lives, accompanied with various levels of intimidation and threat, but at some point, all of us find ourselves able to choose freely. And it is then that we go in one direction or the other. We are able to change directions of course, but every time we choose, we move a step in one direction or the other.

What We Are

Please understand that I am not endorsing any specific theories here – religious, scientific, or otherwise. I’m merely describing the situation in which humanity finds itself. We are halfway between gorillas and gods: The worst things we do are gorilla-like, and the best things we do are god-like. Either direction is open to us.

Strange as it may seem, we are a lot like apes. Our bodies are built in the same ways, our body chemistry is nearly identical, and the worst aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the worst aspects of primate behavior.

We are also a lot like gods. We transcend entropy; we create. We can touch the soul in others, and the best aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the best characteristics attributed to the gods.

This is not what we can be; this is what we are. What we become in the future depends on whether we choose gorilla things or god things, here and now.

What Are Gorilla and God Things?

Gorilla things are those which operate on a dominant/submissive model. Hierarchy (high-level individuals controlling lower-level individuals) is the blueprint of the gorilla world. Dominant gorillas seek status and the power to control others. The submissive apes seek to pass along their pain to the apes below them (females, juveniles, etc.) and to avoid punishment. They are servile toward the dominants and cruel toward those they are able to dominate. Females trade sex for favors.

God things operate on a creative model. Blessing is the blueprint of the god world: distributing love, honesty, courage, kindness, blessing, awe, gratitude, and respect into the world and to other humans.

Gorilla things are these:

  • The desire to rule.
  • The desire to show superiority and status.
  • Servility.
  • Avoidance of responsibility.
  • Reflexive criticism of anything new.
  • Abuse of the weak or the outsider (women, children, Gypsies, Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, etc.).

God things are these:

  • Producing things that preserve or enhance life.
  • Invention and creativity.
  • Expressing gratitude and appreciation.
  • Experiencing awe and transcendence.
  • Adaptability and openness.
  • Improving yourself and others.

The Two Wolves

You’ve probably heard the old story of the two wolves: A young boy becomes angry and violent, and then feels guilty about his violence. He goes to his grandfather for advice. The old man says, “You have two wolves inside you: one of them is nice, the other is dangerous, and they’re fighting inside of you.”

The boy then asks his grandfather, “Which one will win?” The old man replies, wisely, “Whichever one you feed.”

In the same way, humanity becomes like gorillas or gods depending on whether we put gorilla things or god things into our lives.

I’m not going to tell you this is always easy, but the difficulty hardly matters: Somehow, we’ve been given a choice between becoming gorillas or becoming gods. No other creatures in this world have been given such a choice.

Bring god things into your life, and reject gorilla things. It doesn’t matter if these things are hard – you are defining your own nature between two wildly different options, every day.

Leave gorilla stuff to the gorillas.

Building god stuff into your life is your job, my job, everyone’s job.

Paul Rosenberg

20 thoughts on “Are You a Gorilla or a God?”

  1. No sale… if you have even the most fleeting cognisance of the literature of any theistic power-structure, you will know that it is the “God” paradigm that involves unquestioning submission, undeserved punishment, extreme and asymmetric retributive violence, and generally behaving in ways that might befit Dick Cheney (or any other Dick).

    Read the Torah, or the Old Testament – that will give you a handle on what it means to be ‘god-like’ – it means you’re a vindictive douche who will destroy everything you make because some infinitesimal subset of your creation does stuff that displeases you (Noah’s Ark much). Then you’ll trade everything you created, for the present value of a future stream of genital mutilations. No gorilla would be such a pillock.

    Feuerbach, Durkheim and Neitszche (amongst others) were right when they postulated that man needs to emancipate himself from stupid primitive theistic thinking – that far from ‘God created man’, we need to recognise that ‘man created God’, declare it fruitless and stupid, and move on.

    5 million children die every year of preventable disease: if there is a God, he either can’t prevent that (i.e., he’s useless) or he doesn’t want to (i.e., he’s evil). By contrast, gorillas are vegetarian and do not go around convincing Mesopotamian nomadic peasants to steal other people’s stuff.

    Frankly, if it was a choice between being a gorilla and being a genocidal douche who demands unflinching loyalty and loves foreskins and burning offal, sign me up for a crate of bananas.

    Doubtless this will not pass the scrutineers – it’s your sandpit so you can moderate using whatever ill-devised metric you think will add value – but just know that you personally ought to think harder about stupid terms like ‘god’.

    1. Your quarrel seems to be about how to define the word “God”. If Paul had used some other word, or had made up a word which he defines with the points above the Two Wolves story, would you still have an issue?

      1. Yes – why didn’t he use Dora the Explorer or Barbie or something equally-fictional but less malevolent?

        Bear in mind that the OT example was only an ‘accessible’ example of the vile nature of gods – if it was possible to reliably assume that an audience was more widely read, I might have discussed Marduk, or Sutekh, or Allah, or Quetzaltcotl, or Zeus, or Zalmoxis.

        Also, anybody with the slightest familiarity with gorillas knows that the taxonomy “god v gorilla’ is entirely ass-backwards: gorillas are peaceful unless disturbed or interfered with, whereas gods demand sacrifice.

        Are you a ‘homo economicus’ or ‘homo politicus’ would have been the perfect analogy, but would make an unweildy title.

      1. I feel way better than I would have if I had lived in the period before the Enlightenment dismantled Church hegemony – thankfully religiotards wield little or no political power in modern society (especially outside the cartoon US where 68% of the population are stupid enough to believe “that angels and demons are active in everyday life” [Pew Poll, 2007]).

        Religion is mind-cancer, and one of the biggest and most malignant tumors is the facile idea that Yahweh is ‘good’, when any objective reading of the supposed record of his behaviour shows him to be a monster. Compared to a gorilla, it’s not even close – a gorilla would not try to wipe out life on earth because he was miffed at the behaviour of some humans.

        1. For the record, I don’t think religion has ever done anything good for the world. But, I think you’re making a lot of totally unsupported assumptions, and I think you’re off base. It’s not religion that’s the problem. It’s intolerance. Not all religion is intolerant, but you’ve got it in spades. If it bothers you that people talk about god, or being god-like, don’t read it. Go ahead and unsubscribe. Maybe find a place where everyone freaks out at the mere mention of divinity. There are plenty of those places. But remember, for everything you say in a place like this, where multiple views are represented, that people will assume that your views represent atheists everywhere, and that’s simply not true. You’re doing more harm than good, friend.

          1. For the record, if I want advice on which websites to frequent I’ll ask someone whose opinion I value…

            It probably made you feel sophisticated and urbane to pretend that “religion isn’t the problem”. What it *actually* did was make it clear that you’ve never read any of the documents that form doctrinal underpinnings of the major religions in the West: if you had, you would know that actual observance of the principles they contain is a recipe for ignorance, stupidity, superstition and obscene mistreatment of those who have the good sense to see nonsense for what it is.

            Nobody’s ever been burned alive by an atheist for claiming that some illegitimate first-century Jewish revolutionary was the son of an imaginary fairy in the sky… that’s not how *we* roll: we’re more about the argument than the auto da fé.

            My views are not meant to represent atheists everywhere: I’m not part of a cult, and I’m not imbued with any authority to speak on anybody’s behalf but my own – anybody who infers anything else is, simply put, an idiot. The appropriate weight to attach to the opinions or morons is zero.
            Also, of COURSE I’m intolerant. I’m intolerant of primitive gibberish. Why do you think that all ideas have to be tolerated? The whole process of human advancement is the gradual rolling back of stupid and primitive superstition: the idea that ‘tolerance’ is a virtue *per se* is absurd since there are patently some things that should NOT be tolerated (e.g., priests and rabbis having sex with young boys; people stealing other peoples’ land because a Sky Wizard told them they could; genocide in the name of the same Sky Wizard… you see where I’m heading here?).


      1. God is **not** the universe. The universe is an interesting set of physical phenomena (about which the Bible is completely and utterly wrong in every salient particular). The universe will not rain stinging serpents down on me if I decided I don’t believe in it; it won’t tell some band of roving nomads to steal my stuff and put everyone in my ton to the sword; it won’t demand I be slaughtered if I mix wool clothes with cotton; it doesn’t explicitly sanction rape, slavery and genocide.

        Jesus wept – there are so many ways that the universe is both more interesting than, and outright morally superior to, ‘God’ that it is not possible to believe the latter is not the antithesis of creativity.

    2. According to god, he found no man on earth better than Abraham! According to the biblical stories, Abraham had sex with his slave, and she birthed a son for him. Later his old lady got pregnant and gave him a second son. His wife asked him to kick out his slave and her son. Abraham, as a good man just throw them out in the desert to survive or not ( no credit card in hand, or even a packed lunch).

      Now, when I left my wife, I gave her half of my wealth, which makes me better than Abraham, and makes god mistaken. God should call me the best man on earth, LOL

      1. You left out that Sarai was Avram’s half-sister (they had the same father).

        So the best bloke roaming around Mesopotamia was an incestuous goatherd.

        And God so loved his creation that he would make Avram the father of the Master Race, in exchange for genital mutilation (and later, blood-sprinkles on the alter, and burning offal). Mmmmm, foreskin-snippings and burning liver-fat…

        There are more pages in the collection of primitive racist genocidal Iron Age drivel dealing with how to make God’s **curtains**, than there are about morality.

        If you think I’m “impassioned” about my hatred for this nonsense, have a read of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (a French anarchist):

        “**The first duty of man, on becoming intelligent and free, is to continually hunt the idea of God out of his mind and conscience. For God, if he exists, is essentially hostile to our nature, and we do not depend at all upon his authority. We arrive at knowledge in spite of him, at comfort in spite of him, at society in spite of him; every step we take in advance is a victory in which we crush Divinity.

        Let it no longer be said that the ways of God are impenetrable. We have penetrated these ways, and there we have read in letters of blood the proofs of God’s impotence, if not of his malevolence. My reason, long humiliated, is gradually rising to a level with the infinite; with time it will discover all that its inexperience hides from it; with time I shall be less and less a worker of misfortune, and by the light that I shall have acquired, by the perfection of my liberty, I shall purify myself, idealize my being, and become the chief of creation, the equal of God. A single moment of disorder which the Omnipotent might have prevented and did not prevent accuses his Providence and shows him lacking in wisdom; the slightest progress which man, ignorant, abandoned, and betrayed, makes towards good honors him immeasurably.**”

        And atheists, on average, are ~0.5 standard deviations smarter than fundamentalists. True story, bro.

  2. Very thoughtful column, and I mostly agree. Perhaps just as an amplification, I think it’s important to understand that the attempt to “reject gorilla things” can, if one is not careful, be ineffective or even counterproductive. Witness the millions (or is it billions?) of pseudo-Christians around the world, who apparently actually believe that they’re followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, while they support every murderous war under the sun.

    To rise above the base side of our nature, the bad wolf, we must venture into its lair, and understand it as part of ourself. For example, when we act badly, we must not merely reject such action, we must understand where it came from. We must realize that such impulses will never be annihilated. What they CAN be is understood, along with the consequences of acting on them vs. the consequences of bringing a better spirit to bear even when most frustrated. With such knowledge, the good wolf may largely prevail.

  3. Very useful way of seeing homo sapiens’ potential for either the atavistic or the transcendent.

    To “Kratoklastes”

    Please reread the article. You will realize you totally missed the point. All over your own take on the term “god.”

  4. Why insult gorillas? Humans are more related to chimps… and it shows.
    The word “God” is interchangeable with “ideal” anyway; just the deluxe version.

  5. It’s fun to see how authors decide who the “weak” are. Why is this always about the white guy? Why not include in the “Weak” the white male?

    Cuz let’s face it, guys got a big problem when they want to poke anything that walks. That is the ape inside. If you watch gorillas the head male is basically raping female after female. If women finally catch on to this, especially the feminists, men are never going to hear the end of it.

    The entire human race is basically at the mercy of male power…which revolves around sex. Things gotta start evolving here or we aren’t going to make it. you could liken the Atom-bomb, wars, economic struggle all to the power structure that arises over human apes trying to gain power for purposes of sex. Just like an ape. That’s why there is nothing really intelligent in any of the technology….It always morphs into power and killing and pillaging (raping) the people and lands of other nations….

  6. The parable of the two wolves is very instructive. Here is a mantra to extend the wolf analogy further.

    The Wolf Credo:

    Respect the elders
    Teach the young
    Cooperate with the pack
    Play when you can
    Hunt when you must
    Rest in between
    Share you affections
    Voice your feelings
    Leave your mark.

  7. Did you take a special course in ignorance and stupidity or were you just born that way? Gods in all cultures kill other gods, often eat their children, abuse their wives and in general act like homicidal psychopaths. Women, including goddesses were often raped.

    No one has even known of a gorilla to kill its own children. The females in these groups seem happy and solicit males. Have someone read and explain this article to you.

    A note on circumcision. Take a look at all research on this practice and HIV infection. Circumcision is much more than a useless ritual. One of the things that I dislike about many of my fellow atheists is that all to many of them have the same blind obedience to “faith” that the accuse believers of having.

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