Superheroes are made up.
A superhero is a person with added powers that real people don’t have, and the bonus of being on the “good guys” side. On the “bad guys” side, those bonus powers make one a supervillain.
Frequently, the additional powers are those that exist in other species, like flying or breathing underwater, or they could be human qualities improved, like running fast.
Sometimes, the power is a quality that is just really cool. Shooting ice out of your fingers, or laser cutting eyes are good examples.
But in any case, the “super” is a person with stuff imagined on by the author. Naturally, this means that we can look at the authorship and pick up on fun cultural cues.
Take for instance, the “good” quality of superheroes. That kinda depends on who is defining “good”. Captain Marvel once had a slave, and he was one of the heroes!
That’s right, in 1942, a dark skinned, monkey faced, poorly spoken slave was considered fine enough for the good guys. And not just any good guys, the SUPER good guys. But they’re comic book characters. We can always re-write them better in later editions.
What power the superhero has can also indicate what a culture values, since the character epitomizes that value or ability. Its like asking kids which superpower they would most want, only with international flavor. In India, “Mr. India” fights bureaucrats with the aid of a special watch. Japanese Ultraman can turn into a giant dragon and fight aliens, but promotes science and technology when in alter-ego form. Malaysia has a hero with a super gecko powers. You get the idea.
The gods, and certainly bible god, are nothing but imaginary superheroes. We know this because, and this should be very obvious, the gods take on qualities of power and judgements of “good” from the specific time and place from which they were authored. And like comic book characters, the fans keep updating the story to appease their modern sensibilities.
I’ll use bible god since I’m most familiar. In original form (Genesis through Deutoronomy) he is human like, complete with doubt, fear, and jealousy. His powers are impressive, but limited to regional influence. He makes lots of mistakes. His power is demonstrated through military conquest, providing slaves, and showing off to priests of other religions. His rules are specific, and punishment is both harsh and brutal.
He is the epitome of a desert warlord. And coincidentally, this is what we would expect of a superhero created by desert warlords. But people today (mostly) don’t find goodness in providing slaves and genocide.
Luckily, bible god keeps getting facelifts. Jesus was originally written as nothing more than a decent dude that unwittingly got hired by God to help him kick start his magnificent end of the world plan. Don’t believe me? Read Mark, just Mark, and keep that in mind.
Then over a few hundred years, Jesus morphed into the son of God, and eventually god himself incarnate. But Jesus was still a superhero of his time. He supported the Romans, but talked shit about Pharisees and Caananites. He softened on BC gods rules a little bit, especially when those rules were a bit uncomfortable for Roman authorities. He preached not getting yours in this life, but totally getting yours after you die. And he proved it by letting the Romans beat and crucify him, then magically coming back to life later. He still was cool with slavery, though. Coincidentally, this is what we would expect of a superhero created by Roman leaders aimed at using an existing superstition to control the population.
Which brings us to today. Modern humans are less impressed by parlor tricks, regional gods, and religion by force. So bible god has had to evolve into a timeless, spaceless, limitless, loving entity. Coincidentally, this is what we would expect of a god in a time of scientific investigation and self-actualization. Odd how that works out.
While the actual bible is as long forgotten as the 1942 racist Captain Marvel, today’s Christian publications have re-created Jesus as the savior not just of the Jews, but of the whole planet. He isn’t racist anymore, the party is for everyone. But only if you believe. You see, modern Jesus has the superpower of whipping up major storms and earthquakes, (although his power is limited to places where earthquakes and storms are geographically prevalent.)
But then again, with a global god, he is free to “punish” globally. Why were there hurricanes in Mississippi? Dunno, musta been some “fags” there or something, right? You see, Jesus isn’t pro-slavery anymore, but he still really, really cares about what you do while naked. And governments that let “the gays” marry deserve damnation and misery.
International organizations that protect child molesters, interestingly enough, are okay in Jesus’ book.
But superheroes change. And thus, I have a prediction. If god is nothing more than a comic book superhero, then future versions will adjust to the morality of the day, and will have strength in areas the future culture deems important. Jesus may be an eco-warrior, backed by some lame bible verse nobody pays attention to now. Maybe the bit where he cursed a fruit tree for not having fruit at the moment he walked by will be seen as a “green” superpower of some sort?
Maybe LGBTQ causes will become “Christian” causes, because some other bible passage will be twisted to sound LGBTQ friendly. It is possible future Jesus may advocate socialized medicine, downplay marriage, or become a fierce warrior (instead of a peaceful dude.) But I predict he will change, and it will only take a generation or two to do it.
Superpowers make you a superhero. Lots and lots of super powers make you a God. But it doesn’t make you real.
The Spartan Atheist