God’s Role in a Misery-Free Society

April 30, 2019 by Essay Writer

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World portrays a world in which pain and suffering have been all but eliminated, where pleasure is perpetual, and where society is immersed in stability. In a world such as this, the novel argues, there is no need for God and religion. God is simply a response to human suffering, and since there is no suffering in the novel, not even in death, God ceases to be useful. Modern society reflects a trend somewhat similar; as science has progressed and suffering and inconveniences have decreased, people have strayed from religion, preferring modern pleasantries over God. Indeed, there are many people today who would argue that, as the amount of suffering in life decreases, God becomes less and less useful. Yet, there are also those who would say that God is an objective truth, and that religious sentiments are a part of human nature. The argument between Mustapha Mond and John illustrates this conflict. However, despite the evidence in Brave New World and the real world that God is unnecessary without suffering, there is also evidence that perhaps religion is something built into human nature, meaning that, even without suffering, God would continue to be a part of human society.Religion has been removed from human life in the novel because, as Mustapha Mond puts it, “God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness” (234). For Mond, God is simply a human invention used to explain and alleviate suffering and misery. Religion provides answers for death and makes dying less frightening, and God motivates people to be better, a sort of social stabilizer. Therefore, if society is already stable, death is not frightening, and happiness is universal, God is not necessary. Mond makes the relativistic argument that “Providence takes its cue from men,” that men create God to answer questions that society cannot; consequently, when men have no questions society cannot answer, God becomes obsolete (236). Mond says, “people will only believe in God because they’ve been conditioned to believe in God” (235).It seems that the relationship between God and man throughout the course of human history supports Mond’s assertions. At any point in history, the religiousness of a certain society varied directly with the amount of suffering the members of that society had to go through on a daily basis. When people were left to question life and death, to wonder about happiness and misery, they turned to religion. As history progresses, though, man has been able to answer more and more of life’s questions on his own and alleviate discomfort through science and medicine. At the same time, he has turned away from God. Western society, arguably the most advanced society in today’s world, is also the least religious. In fact, many aspects of Western society already resemble those of the novel’s World State. Objective truth has been abandoned for the sake of pleasure, morality has been abandoned for stability, and orthodoxy, particularly among art and religion, has been abandoned for whatever appeals to the greatest number of people at a given time. It seems that Mond is correct when he says that the changing of men makes “all the difference in the world” in terms of the way in which God is perceived (231).There are still those who do not agree with this view of history, with Mond’s opinions about society’s need for religion. In the novel, John argues that it is “natural to feel there’s a God,” that on some level of human nature there is a fundamental need for religion (234). It seems that human history, and even the novel, gives some credence to these beliefs. In the novel, the Solidarity Services seem incredibly similar to modern religious ceremonies in their intent “to lose their twelve separate identities in a larger being” and their axioms, such as “I drink to the imminence of His Coming” (80, 82). Furthermore, there is the near-deification of Ford and the Model T which also play a large role in the novel’s society. Although these are extremely bastardized versions of historical religion, they provide evidence of human reliance on religion nevertheless. In the real world, the fact that man even conceived of God at all seems to be evidence that God is somehow a part of human nature, and that conditioning is not the sole source of religious sentiment. As Mond quotes from Cardinal Newman, “we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false‹a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God” (233).Brave New World poses the problem of whether humans would inevitably turn to God as more than a response to suffering. That is, in a society in which everyone is happy and pleasure is free, would humans need God to continue to exist? The obvious answer provided by the novel is no, that humans have merely invented religion as a means to answer seemingly unanswerable questions. Human history also seems to support this conclusion, for as more questions are answered by science, more people turn away from God. However, the answer to this question is much more complicated, and reveals that perhaps people do have some inherent reliance on religion. Both the novel and human history also suggest that God may actually be built into human nature, not merely the result of previous conditioning. If this is true, then religion will always be a force in human history, and the society of Brave New World may never exist outside of the human mind.

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