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Atheist Community of Austin
Rationality and worship

I have been a Christian for most of my adult life and have many agnostic and atheist friends. Many conversations that I have with them often deal with rationality and reason-- obviously. I often make the case that if God existed-- at least the Judeo-Christian God-- that it would be rational to worship God. In response, one of my friends says that there is no reason I should think it reasonable or rational to do so. I reply that it is rational to do so, because if God did create the heavens and the earth and that sin is rebelling against God, which is usually the highest good and in my best interest, then it is rational to do so. Of course there be reasons why people would choose not to do so or unbelievers who would scoff at the idea of being subservient, but as I said if it were true then would it not be the right thing to do? Many people talk about rationality, reason, ethics etc., but I often find some of my friends unwilling to practice what they preach as it were. So, my question is as stated above-- is it the right thing to do, if it were true?

The whole idea of worship seems to me to be inherently self-interested. The worshiper sucks up to power to reap the rewards or avoid the wrath. Either way, it's a calculus of benefit.

It seems natural to me that any being would have its own self-interests and giving up your own in favor of its is something of a moral abdication. What if your god wanted you to kill Jews or witches? Where would you draw the line?

Here's a question for the worshiper: If some alien beings landed on this planet and they were sufficiently advanced to awe, would you worship them, too? How would you be able to distinguish such beings from gods?

BTW, you've posted under a bunch of different names pretending to be different people. Since this post seems to be an attempt at honest dialog, I've decided not to remove it as per my ultimatum in the "Meme of memes" thread. I would appreciate it if you'd keep it up.

Fischer4: "I often make the case that if God existed-- at least the Judeo-Christian God-- that it would be rational to worship God... So, my question is as stated above-- is it the right thing to do [worship God], if it were true? [God exists]"

"Rational" and "right" are far from being the same thing. What is rational is not always right. And what is right is not always rational. "Rational" refers to intellect, but "right" refers to morals. Morals have little to do with intellect. Give me a moral rule (e.g. "love your neighbor") and I will give you, at least two rational reasons why I should not follow it (e.g, "love myself more"). To uphold moral rules, one must rely on a completely subjective and made-up "just so" statement. Some deeply internalized belief or deeply rooted tradition or some personal motive. I'd be interested if someone could have an example to disprove this statement.

If we consider the origin of the word "worship" it's simply putting the highest value, or "worth" on something:

"Middle English worshipe worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being, from Old English weorthscipe worthiness, respect, from weorth worthy, worth + -scipe -ship". http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worship

All of us have values. We value different things differently. So, something ends up having the highest value. The question is not "is it right to worship". The question is "what is it right to worship". Most religions teach not to worship anything in this world, if we want to live free of worry and fear to lose what we value most.

Is worship selfish? That, probably, depends on the motives and results of our worship. If worshiping God results in me loving my neighbor, and I get some imaginary reward for that, what's wrong with that? "God makes me do it" is just a figure of speech. It simply means that "I do this because of my deep fundamental belief". I don't see how this is different from an atheist helping others because he believes that it is the right thing to do.

DB: "It seems natural to me that any being would have its own self-interests and giving up your own in favor of its is something of a moral abdication."

You seem to say that "it's OK to be selfish", but it's wrong to worship for an imaginary reward. That's confusing. I must be missing something in your doctrine.

DB: "What if your god wanted you to kill Jews or witches? Where would you draw the line?"

And God does command to kill witches. And homosexuals. And adulterers. And those who gather sticks on Sabbath. He also commands not to kill others. He also commands to judge my own sin before judging others. Why didn't Jesus kill all the witches and other sinners, but allowed to kill himself instead, according to the story? Many people see this as a message that we should kill the sinner inside ourselves first and foremost. I would see this as the only right way to kill a sinner. The "line" is my own skin - as simple as that.

Would I worship an alien being performing what seems like a miracle? How do I tell if this being is God? If I can see that being, it, surely, is not the Father or the Holy Ghost, for nobody can see them. And miracles performed by Jesus have a distinct signature - according to the NT, he never performed one for his own benefit, not even to save himself from the death on the cross, despite a huge temptation to do so. So, if that alien being raises dead, cures sick and mentally ill, then dies and raises again, I would agree to worship such being, because I would not see a difference between such being and Jesus. Any other kind of "miracles" would be suspicious. For all practical purposes, I would be as skeptical as any atheist.

AG "Morals have little to do with intellect." I disagree. How we reason about the effects of our actions depends greatly on our ability to reason. This is why we treat people who are high or otherwise mentally unstable as being morally impaired. If you sabotage reason, you sabotage one's potential morality.

AG: "You seem to say that "it's OK to be selfish", but it's wrong to worship for an imaginary reward. That's confusing. I must be missing something in your doctrine." Thanks. That does need to be clarified. Doing things for selfish motives is just fine. Let's not pretend, though, that worship is noble. Let's not force atheists to support houses of worship via tax subsidies. If you want the benefit, you need to pay the cost.

You seem to agree that the Bible is a moral muddle. There doesn't seem to be any evidence it was written with any special moral insight. No. It's just a product of its human creators--their whims, thoughts, and agendas.

I'm still left to wonder what one is worshiping. "God" seems to be little more than a synonym for the things one is ignorant about. I do support peoples' right to have such reverence, however. I appreciate that you are aware that others might be impacted by your actions (based on your beliefs). I think if other Christians were so aware, I might not have so many issues.

With your final answer, it seems like you are saying you wouldn't necessarily know your own god.

From my perspective, the "evil" of gods (or powerful aliens) lies in humans attempt to trade with it. What would you trade with the alleged creator of the universe? Surely, no material possession. You can trade your own behavior, but why would such a being care? What seems to be traded is the rights and lives of those who don't claim to worship/adore the same god. That's when people kill "witches", fly planes into buildings, and produce and consume rapture snuff porn.

If the god/alien were real, it might be understandable, but given the lack of evidence for a god, it all just seems to be gratuitous harm.

AG said, "Rational" and "right" are far from being the same thing. What is rational is not always right. And what is right is not always rational. "Rational" refers to intellect, but "right" refers to morals.

Linda's Answer: Well, that's a matter of definition. How about, people have the "right" to live as rational beings.

AG said, "Morals have little to do with intellect. Give me a moral rule (e.g. "love your neighbor") and I will give you, at least two rational reasons why I should not follow it (e.g, "love myself more")."

Linda's Answer: He's saying that morals don't come from the ability to reason it took a superior being to make it possible for man to rise above "human nature" God gave morality to humanity; that makes religion necessary to have morality, it's simply not true. Traits that help a species to survive are passed to the next generation, and traits that don't will die out. If the trait to be serial killers was passed on that species would be done for. The basic adaptation possessed by humans for survival is reasoning ability; an evolutionary ethics would make this a primary consideration.

All of the religious wars proves that morality didn't come from the Bible. It appears that the God given command to conquer our neighbor was much stronger than the axiom "love they neighbor."

AG said, "To uphold moral rules, one must rely on a completely subjective and made-up "just so" statement. Some deeply internalized belief or deeply rooted tradition or some personal motive. I'd be interested if someone could have an example to disprove this statement."

Linda's Answer: "Subjective" is a belief or an opinion. Subjective matters are not certain. "Objective," on the other hand, means certain or factual. Objective matters are those that can be measured or quantified.

What other kind of moral rules are there except for those made by man. Oh yes; the God moral rules, good luck with that one, first you rape, then you pillage and then you burn. Some of us think that what we know scientifically today 2012 is light years ahead of what we knew just a short time ago. Science is advancing very quickly now. That means the scales that may have been level in the past, have now dipped very far to one side because of a preponderance of evidence. All of the evidence points to natural causes and no evidence points to a Creator or Creation; it is now sensible for scientists and other well-grounded people to say the existence of God is not a reasonable hypothesis.

AG said, "If we consider the origin of the word "worship" it's simply putting the highest value, or "worth" on something: "Middle English worshipe worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being, from Old English weorthscipe worthiness, respect, from weorth worthy, worth + -scipe -ship". http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worship"

Linda's Answer: Let's face facts! You're poking wholes in the ceiling with your finger and talking to an imaginary being and calling that worshiping. You are putting the highest value on something that never talks to you or gives you the time of day. Good Luck.

AG said, "All of us have values. We value different things differently. So, something ends up having the highest value. The question is not "is it right to worship". The question is "what is it right to worship". Most religions teach not to worship anything in this world, if we want to live free of worry and fear to lose what we value most."

Linda's Answer: That's right every fanatic will give his life for his god.

AG said, "Is worship selfish? That, probably, depends on the motives and results of our worship. If worshiping God results in me loving my neighbor, and I get some imaginary reward for that, what's wrong with that? "God makes me do it" is just a figure of speech. It simply means that "I do this because of my deep fundamental belief". I don't see how this is different from an atheist helping others because he believes that it is the right thing to do."

Linda's Answer: No you don't know the difference in a doctrine that induces people to believe the myth that the world would be lost without the savior that (was sacrificed) tortured and killed on a cross. And a civilized society that doesn't need those kinds of myths in order to do what is right.

AG said, "You seem to say that "it's OK to be selfish", but it's wrong to worship for an imaginary reward. That's confusing. I must be missing something in your doctrine."

Linda's Answer: In certain instances it's appropriate to be selfish. For instance: you take care of your own family first if there is a disaster.

Brainwashed people who are living under the delusion that this life is not important are very selfish. Their imaginary (pie in the sky) life after death is more important than anything that is real, and yet, they have to die before they get their reward or punishment. I think that many theists are apathetic do-nothings who believe that (no matter what) it's all God's plan. Most atheists and theists have totally opposite ideas about life. Atheist think this life is important because it's the only life that any of us will ever have.

AG said, "And God does command to kill witches. And homosexuals. And adulterers. And those who gather sticks on Sabbath. He also commands not to kill others.

Linda's Answer:I'm sure you won't have a bit of trouble finding some amongst the brethren.

AG said, "He also commands to judge my own sin before judging others. Why didn't Jesus kill all the witches and other sinners, but allowed to kill himself instead, according to the story? Many people see this as a message that we should kill the sinner inside ourselves first and foremost. I would see this as the only right way to kill a sinner. The "line" is my own skin - as simple as that."

Linda's Answer: How about, it's a myth made up to make man indebted to something that they must worship and doggedly follow. It gives them something to die for.

AG said, "Would I worship an alien being performing what seems like a miracle? How do I tell if this being is God? If I can see that being, it, surely, is not the Father or the Holy Ghost, for nobody can see them."

Linda's Answer: Genesis 12:7 "And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him."

And we have people who also claim to have seen aliens.

AG said, "And miracles performed by Jesus have a distinct signature - according to the NT, he never performed one for his own benefit, not even to save himself from the death on the cross, despite a huge temptation to do so."

Linda's Answer: The Bible records that there were miracles performed by exorcists Mark 9:38-41 and sorcerers Acts 8:9-11. Apollonius of Tyana was an itinerant Greek philosopher and contemporary of Jesus who reportedly cast out demons and raised people from the dead. Luke says the apostle Paul healed a man crippled from birth and he was consequently hailed as a god (Acts14:8-18). There were reports that the Roman emperor Vespasian healed a blind man with spittle.

Most religions claim that only the miracles of their god or holy ones are legitimate, and that those of other faiths are fakes. Mohammed split the moon in two and the modern Hindu milk miracle shows Hindu statues drinking milk from spoons.

AG said, "So, if that alien being raises dead, cures sick and mentally ill, then dies and raises again, I would agree to worship such being, because I would not see a difference between such being and Jesus. Any other kind of "miracles" would be suspicious. For all practical purposes, I would be as skeptical as any atheist."

Linda's Answer: When the myths about savior god/men were circulating the common people had no knowledge of modern medicine, they were told that disease was the result of sin, or punishment by God John 5:13-15; Luke 13:11; Deuteronomy 28:27-29. Mental illness was demon possession (Matthew 9:32-34), or was a punishment from God (1 Samuel 16:14-16). They believed that miracles preformed by holy men or God, could cure the victim Acts 5:15-16; 19:11-12. Bacteria, viruses and psychoses, the real causes of illnesses, were unknown, as were the causes of natural phenomena like lightening striking, floods or earthquakes. The common man in the time of the Jesus myth were ignorant, superstitious and gullible when it came to understanding nature and disease. The gospel myths relate that the man named Jesus had the same understanding of nature and disease as the people of his day. I don't consider that very convincing evidence that he was a Supreme Being.

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