God-is-on-facebook There are more believers than ever before.

Not perhaps in the Judaic God of history. I don't know about any gains in popularity There.

I do know that many claim atheism. And atheism might be a religion unto itself, as James Wood defends the "Supreme Being from the new atheists." Woods argues
that today's "resurgent atheism [is] marked by its own kind of Biblical
literalism." (See the review of books: "God In The Quad," The New
, August 31, 2009.)

But frankly…

I'd rather not debate
atheism vs. monotheism.
It's so tiresome.

I do discuss religion with anyone, but only under these ground rules:

#1. There must be a time limit to the debate. Because the debate never dies of natural causes.

#2. We must first find one thing on which to agree. Because that's nice.

#3. Neither party can seek to change the other party's belief or lack thereof. Because it's a conversation, not a competition. And frankly, the Mind of God is big enough that maybe none of us really knows The Truth and — get this — perhaps all of us are right at the same time.

There is no Rule #4 in my rulebook — "#4. If either of us must burn in hell, it's you." — because I don't fear hell. Frankly, if either of us has to burn in hell for our beliefs then, well, I'll see you in hell.

Why don't I believe in hell?
From what I know of my own tradition, there isn't much description of hell. Hey, there isn't even much about heaven. What gives?

Here's what gives: maybe this life is heaven. Forget the afterlife; enjoy this one. After all, what did you expect of heaven? Isn't this it: fresh breezes, broadband and steaming lattes?

Look around. This is heaven. I hope you like it. I hope you're happy.

Yet, if we must debate religion,
we can start with this.
Did God create humans, or did humans create God? It's an old debate. (Franz Rosenzwieg covered it pretty well in The Star of Redemption.)

Let me know which side you want. I'm ready to argue the other side.

Then, when we are all sweaty and covered by each other's spittle, we can trade positions.

But, I already told you,
This is not about that kind of debate.
This is about a new appearance of a very God-like force.

It's Facebook.

Yes, Facebook.

Here's why.

What Is God?
That's a complex question.

But we all know this: The Fear of A Real and Living God (work address: Eden) was supposed to keep us from mischief. Hashem knows when you've been naughty. Hashem knows when you've been nice.

It works pretty well — not perfectly, to be sure — for those with The Fear, but doesn't have any effect on the rest of us. Especially on a No Fear Day. Carpe Diem, rather than Carpe Deus.

So, What Me Worry?
Now along comes Facebook and people have The Fear Of A New God.

If you are under a certain age — say 30 — and you are not on Facebook, you are odd. Your peers will surmise either:

  • You are so focused on solving cold fusion that you simply don't have time for social networking. Frankly, you have chosen to make yourself irrelevant to everyone except the Nobel committee.
  • You have done something so obnoxious, unethical, abusive, or untrustworthy that you daren't show your face online. Because others will, at best, not befriend you or, at worst, scourge you on your Wall.

A free pass is given to the endearing nerds in the first group. Both of them.

But the second group have a taste of God's punishment: excommunication, the mark of Cain, the curse of Amalek. (And, recently in the news, a taste of God's pardon.)

It's Easy To Believe
Unlike trying hard to believe in an abstract divinity, we can all plug into our computers and believe in Facebook.

For those who spurned "organized religion," welcome back.

Like much prayer, there is the question: am I being functional or am I simply feeling functional? There is a difference.