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What does this mean?

There is no god and we are his prophets.

This quote is spoken by Ely from the novel The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I don't understand how this works.

  • To what does "this" refer in your question? "I don't understand how this works." Do you have a question about the language? Or is it the illogic of the statement that gives you trouble? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 3 '16 at 10:37
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This sentence is deliberately confusing. It is a play/joke on the theme of religion, which is that there is a God and we are his prophets (or creations) that must talk about him and share the religion with other people.

The quote refers to Atheism. What it means is, there is no god, and we are prophets of this belief.

So there is no god, and we are the people that should spread the word that there is no god, and teach reality and atheism.

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This quote has multi-faceted interpretations. In addition to the interpretation above, the quote also refers to the complete lack of dignity and vast cruelty acted upon people by other people. An example of this within the novel is the infant being roasted on the spit.

"There is no God", as no rational God would allow his people to behave this appallingly, and "we are his prophets" as our shocking indecency or dark side, is a testament to this.

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As Alan Watts explains it:

"...are you a theist or are you an atheist? See the theist is caught by god and the idea of god, the belief in god. But the atheist is equally caught. Because an atheist is very often an atheist because he cannot stand the idea that god is watching him all the time. That there is this constant all seeing eye prying on your most private life, and that there is this…You know how when you were a child in school and you’re writing something or doing arithmetic and the teacher walks around the class and looks over your shoulder. Nobody wants to be watched like that. Even someone who is good at writing or at arithmetic doesn’t want someone looking over their shoulder while they’re doing it. It puts you off. It bugs you. So the idea of the lord god who is watching us all the time; who is judging everything that we do puts people off, and they can’t stand it. So better be an atheist to get rid of teacher. So… But the atheist, you see, the man who advertises his disbelief in god is a very pious person. Nobody believes in god like an atheist. “There is no god, and I am his prophet.” "

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