Essay on Theism versus Atheism in Catch-22

791 Words 4 Pages
Theism versus Atheism in Catch-22

Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 deals with many issues that mankind is prone to deal with. One issue that is raised is the subject of theism versus atheism.

This argument is manifested in a dialogue, approximately two pages in length, between Yossarian, the main character, and Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife. In this particular scene, Yossarian and the lieutenant's wife are debating the existence of G-d, presumably in the Judeo-Christian sense. The scene begins with each character introduced as an atheist, although the degeneration of the argument eventually proves somewhat otherwise. Yossarian is portrayed as a character in a perpetually negative mindset; he is invariably bitter and
…show more content…
She argues, "But the G-d I don't believe in is a good G-d, a just G-d, a merciful G-d. He's not the mean and stupid G-d you make Him out to be" (190). This element of the debate satirizes the intellectual and emotional segregation of faith and religion. Whereas both Yossarian and the Lieutenant's wife may be more than ready intellectually to deal with the lack of a higher power, they may not be ready to accept it emotionally. Yossarian, on the emotional level, needs G-d as a scapegoat, someone upon which to blame all the negative attributes of life. On the other hand, Scheisskopf's wife needs someone to assign recognition to for the positive values in life.

Finally, however, it is possible that Heller used the wife's argument as a subtle contention against religion in the broader sense. Because she did not support her 'lack of faith in the good G-d' (190) with any information whatsoever, she may perhaps have been a representative of those with blind faith. She blindly disbelieved in a 'just G-d' (190), just as some would blindly believe in that same G-d.

It was implied in the novel that Catch-22 is a myth, invented by someone somewhere along the line and then enforced through others believing in its existence. This idea is also implied in the notion of G-d in the novel through this argument: G-d could quite possibly be a myth, invented somewhere along the

Related Documents