By Noah Berlatsky
DC Comics has just suggested that Batman is an atheist.
On the one hand, that seems a bit odd, since Batman — a.k.a Bruce Wayne — has met a wide array of gods and demigods personally. On the other hand, Batman’s atheism makes sense. When humans have super powers, what’s the use of gods?
Batman hangs out with Wonder Woman, who hobnobs with Zeus, Ares and other deities. He’s buddies with Deadman, a ghost resurrected by a goddess named Rama Kushna. In one memorable comic that gave me nightmares for years when I was a kid, Batman got turned into a vampire, which seems as if it would be hell on one’s skepticism. If you live in the DC universe, you’ve got to believe 12 improbable things before you eat your Bat toast. Being an atheist in those circumstances seems less a spiritual stance and more like carelessness.
But if everything is possible, there’s not much need to believe in transcendent powers beyond our ken. Mystery and faith are essential to most religious experiences. When gods are as common as bullfrogs or bananas, what makes them divine or special? Superheroes and supervillains aren’t exactly gods. But they don’t leave a lot of room for worship, either.
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