Why Must We Worship God?

For those that do not know me, I am an agnostic. I do not believe that there is a God, nor do I believe that there isn’t one. In fact I think that both the theist and the atheist make the very same mistake; They each affirm something that there is inadequate evidence for. The agnostic claims that the only intellectually honest answer to ‘is there a God?’ is ‘how the hell am I supposed to know?’ By ‘theist’ I mean someone who believes that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving being and by ‘atheist’ I mean someone who denies that. Theism should be distinguished from religion. All existing religions are silly and are obviously the product of Mankind. It is also demostrably true that organized religion has been one of the greatest forces for evil known to man.  

Having said that I want to ask the theist a question . Why must we worship God? Closely related to this is the question ‘what is the point of it?’

I suppose that there are three traditional answers to this question.

1. Because God is all-powerful!!! He could destroy you in a micro-second or banish you to an eternity of pain and torture…so you had better worship Him or you’re screwed!!

This might be a reason that it is in my best interest to worship God, but it does not seem like the kind of reason that I am looking for. This answer makes God out to be a petty tyrant and that is incompatible with the description of Him as all-knowing and all-loving.

2. Because God deserves it! He created this Universe just for us. Think of a beatuiful sunset, or any natural beauty, don’t you think that it would be nice to thank the Creator of that beauty? We worship God to show our appreciation for the gifts that He has given us.

This answer has always kind of bothered me. In the first place why am I obligated to be grateful for a gift that I did not ask for? But let us wave this consideration. The more pressing problem is whether God really deserves to be worshiped. The problem of evil in the world seems to me to be reason to think that He may not deserve it after all and as far as I can see there is no really good answer to this problem.

3. We should worship God because hecommands us to do so!

If this answer is to be different from (1) then the reason that we should follow the command cannot be because of fear of the consequences or desire for reward. It seems that there must be some reason that grounds God’s command, but so far we have not found one…but let us leave that aside. The more pressing concern is ‘what kind of God would command us to worship him?’ This seems sort of needy and insecure, something that I take to be at odds with the characterization of God as all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful.

A related question that has always bothered me is what is the point of prayer? It seems contradictory to hold that an all-loving, all-loving being would require that I ask for something that I need before He would give it to me. What kind of a person would i be if I knew what my girlfriend wanted and I could give it to her, and I claimed to really love her, yet I refuse to give it to her simply because she did not ask me for it?!?!?!?!

So it seems to me that even if God exists there is no reason that it is obligatory that I worship Him or pray to him, nor do I think that He cares if I do or not. So it is contradictory to hold that there is an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing being who will pucish me if I do not pick the right religion.  

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40 thoughts on “Why Must We Worship God?

  1. I respect your agnosticism, and was myself proud of my own until I acquired (what I worry is not really good enough) evidence that there is a God. Inevitably the evidence is of a rather private nature, but then so, after all, is anti-skeptical evidence, for example. So, whilst it may well be that you would be making a mistake if you made theistic (or atheistic) claims, it does not follow that all theists (or all atheists) are making such a mistake. It seems to me that the range of evidence that could be available to all (or even to all of a certain IQ and/or social standing) would be a lot less than would be required to justify most of our beliefs, many of which are surely perfectly rational. (Of course, the problem is that so much bullshit is talked about God.)

    (And the following may well be part of that, as I’m no theologian.) If God wants you to worship him, then s/he will presumably give you opportunities to choose to. I would not expect the range of such opportunities to be humanly describable, or that humans (even theologians) could possibly judge your response. And why should they, I wonder, why is God’s judgement of such things not enough? Well, it is only natural that we should judge each other, as we go about our business within society. And our social structures naturally build themselves around such assessments. So much is political, I think; but having said that, maybe s/he commands us to worship that we might (more often) look optimistically upon the bigger picture (as one of our social activities) because it is good for us. Personally, because I’m not part of any religion (and because God has not said anything to me about it) I don’t feel that I am under any such instruction. But then I would think of God anyway (in a sort of worshipful way) as a consequence of my theistic beliefs.

  2. Hi Richard, Interesting post as ever. However, I am curious about your statement that ”the theist and the atheist make the very same mistake”; namely, that they both affirm something for which they lack adequate evidence. Whilst I agree that both theist and atheist affirm something for which they may lack sufficient evidence, I worry that what you say makes both positions equally probable. This further thought would need to be backed up by something that said that the evidence from which both theist and atheist make their respective affirmations is (roughly) equivalent. Now, I am not so sure that this is the case, given what we (think we) know about the natural sciences. Any thoughts?

  3. Hi Enigman,

    I am not a big fan of the argument from religious experience, though it is the one that is most often appealed to when I talk about agnosticism. What’s interesting is that it is not only theists who appeal to it. Some atheists appeal to a profound sense of the absence of God. In fact a lot of people who are hard core ateists use to be religious and had some experience that made them ‘realize’ that there is no God. Sartre called it nausea. The realization that you are alone and that are completely responsible for what you do and what you become. But that is a bit of a digression…the real question, of course, is whether or not the experience gives you any reason to believe that there is a God. Some say yes, for instance C. D. Broad, others say that it merely gives you a ‘weak’ reason in that it provides you with some reason to believe in God but it does not require anyone else to believe in Him…I don’t think that either of these are right. There are just too many alternative explanations and these experiences are rare…which has led me to try to formulate an argument against it. Let me try it out on you…It seems to me that if there really were a God he would make it clearer…the Old testament seems to have it right…He is constantly involved in teh affairs of His people…True, he reveals himself only to a select few, but everyone can see that he is acting in the world (e.g. the plauges in Egypt are witnessed by many, many people). But this doesn’t happen any more…furthermore why would a God who loved me not reveal Himself to me? The existence of God is clearly one of the most important questions that Mankind has ever pondered…doesn’t it seem immoral of Him to reveal the Truth to you but not to me?

  4. Hey Aaron,

    Thanks for the comment, and thanks for the compliment!!

    You are right in your suspicion. I do think that both of the options are equally probable and that the evidence, both in form of argument and science, is roughly equivelent. That is a crucial premise in my argument for agnosticism…but this is a big topic! Did you have any particular knowledge claim from any particular natural science that you wanted to claim would tip the evidential balance towards one or the other?

  5. Hi Richard,

    I haven’t really thought of the issue of worship, but I wonder that another option might go along the following lines:

    I love the idea of God – which for me is connected to the love and respect for the idea of justice, the love and respect for the idea of reason, the ideas of humbleness, wisdom, etc…
    Given this, I can easily connect “worship” to this love. It might mean unconditional love, in which I e.g. value those ideas over my life.

    And quarter-seriously: If God should be worshiped (for those reasons that I gave or others), and if God is sincere, it isn’t really egotistic or insecure from God to tell us that he should be worshiped. :)

  6. Hi Richard,

    The evidence I was thinking would tip the argument in the atheist’s side is evolutionary evidence. As you noted, this is a big topic, so many things turn on what your theist will be committed to. For example, if they are a literalists, in that they hold what the Bible says to be exactly true, then it would seem to me that the argument has been tipped in the atheist’s favor. For many things the Bible says are demonstrably false. One would also need to know what the theists think God’s causal powers are, if any, and so on. When pressed, I would think that the atheist could offer much better ‘evidence’ for the negation of the claim that . This is just to say that their overall world view would hang together better. However, I think religion is ridiculous, so what the hell do I know.

    One further worry is that I fear your argument can be extended too far. Take the case of knowledge. Either person S knows that p, doesn’t know that p, or must remain agnostic about p. Presumably many things we purport to know would fall into this range of options. However, do we really want to remain in a state of suspended judgment until something tips the evidence one way or another?

  7. Hi Richard — like Aaron, I would be curious to learn whether your epistemic abstention generalizes, or if theology is a special case?

    On the main part of your post, I’m not sure that your 2nd argument is in line with your conclusion. The problem of evil is a reason to doubt that any all-loving God actually exists. I’m not sure that you’ve shown that an all-loving God would not “deserve to be worshiped”.

  8. Dear Richard,

    Is it immoral for God to reveal itself to me and not to you? That’s a lovely question, which I’d love to waffle on about for hours. But the short answers are (i) I have few ideas about what is really immoral for humen, and absolutely no ideas about this; I don’t, for example, think of God as like a superman, or an emperor, but more as to us what we are to statues (e.g. as essentially numinous).

    Also (ii) is it immoral for only some of us to be rich, gifted, good-looking, well-balanced, healthy, clever, lucky etc.? Maybe, but I can’t help noticing that believers are often none of the above. Anyway my idea of a Creator is of one who by definition created at least this world, and so fantasies about worlds that we would have created are of little meaning, in my opinion. I would first take a good long look at what it is to be rich, etc. in this world, which is time-consuming.

    And (iii) whilst I can to some extent make sense of my own numinous experiences (e.g. in terms of my deepest interests) I can’t say much (or anything, really) about yours (or their lack). Personally I suspect that I don’t really deserve to have a more informative revelation, than the one I had, and that therefore it is not immoral of God not to give me more; and perhaps (I don’t know) something similar applies to you. You say that if there was a God he would make his existence clearer, but I don’t see any reason (or evidence) for such a belief.

    We know the world exists. The question is, was it deliberately created, or not. If the former, we wonder why it was created. If our concept of the Creator is such that such a Creator would not have created this world, but would have made lots of clones of Jesus within His presence, then presumably it is just not a very good concept. If such a concept is sold to us by a major religion, then so bad for the theological credentials of that religion. (If we should not disbelieve a scientific theory just because the applications of that science are in exploitative industries, then why should we regard the bad politics of religious organisations as evidence against the existence of God?)

  9. I was timed-out of my terminal, so that ended abruptly. So to continue with (iii), suppose that I have a fallacious conception of an acquaintance. It seems likely that my delusions will come between us, will get in the way of my part in our forging a deep friendship; and in place of ‘acquaintance’ I could have put ‘parent’ etc. So, I suspect that it was in part my former agnosticism (my analytical mind, my faithlessness in matters of religious doctrine, etc.) that qualified me for perceiving God’s existence (unless I’m imagining that). So I suspect, but on no evidence really. The experts (priests, theologians, psychiatrists etc.) might give a better range of possible explanations, though I doubt it because they are professionally commited to certain sorts of explanation, for inappropriate reasons.

    And similarly, it seems to me that the standard explanations for why God created the world are not very convincing. They seem to go along the lines of God wanting to increase the amount of loveliness in existence (as though his own infinite loveliness was not enough) by creating people who would choose to love him. But since we have to choose to do that when he is absent, either because we are built that way or because he graciously reveals himself to us, that explanation convinces me no more than it does you. Such explanations seem, however, to make perfect socio-political sense! Of course, there may well be hidden depths to such explanations (as there are said to be for David Lewis’s metaphysics, or for materialistic explanations of our selves, etc.) but my point is that there are surely other possibilities, which do not of course have to be prima facie plausible stories (no more than scientific explanations do).

    It seems to me that the idea of God involving himself in his creation in order to constantly repair it (such as the Bible gives us) is an odd one; but it also seems plausible that God would be concerned with his creation, or else why bother to create it? So in what ways would a creator of a universe such as this one be involved with it? I find it very hard to give a justified answer, due to my lack of experience with such things as such sorts of creators, but that hardly makes the idea of a Creator incoherent. I’ve my own speculations (e.g. s/he would not necessarily know everything about stuff that s/he did not create, so perhaps we are part of a scientific research programme, aimed at investigating the abyss) but nothing substantial (and assuming that speculation, we might worship God much as soldiers at a remote post salute the flag of their homeland, whence it would be that we ought to). But enough waffle…

  10. what’s up r brown…
    a comment on the below…
    “By ‘theist’ I mean someone who believes that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving being and by ‘atheist’ I mean someone who denies that.”
    denies what? that she believes that there is God or that there is a God?

    if the former, then isn’t this similar to saying “i don’t believe in santa claus”. in which case, there are myriad reasons to suggest that belief in such a thing is unmerited, or unuseful, or silly…

    if the latter, then why can’t an atheist make a denial that there is a God by saying (in the formal mode) ‘God’ does not refer, or ‘God’ is an illegitimate concept, or ‘God’ is so ill-suited for scientific discourse that it should be discarded, or maybe ‘God’ functions much like other clearly fictional terms…

    why isn’t this a type of atheism, and how is that making the same mistake as the theist?

  11. Hi Tanasije,

    I love and respect all of those things that you mentioned (minus God), but I don’t see how that gets you worship…besides which, I am not arguing that one ought not to worship God if one wants, I am arguong that one is not obligated to worship God (even if He exists)

  12. Hey Aaron,

    yeah I think you are right about the falsity of a lot of Biblical claims, though there are also a lot of claims that it does get right. Some Christian appologists like Alvin Plantigna hold that there is too much evidence against the claim that the Earth is only 5 thousand years old and so reject that, but as he also argues, that is not to endorse evolutionary theory. But at any rate, that is a different matter from what I am arguing. I must confess that I am not sure why you say that the atheist world view ‘hangs together’ better…and I also think that religion is ridiculous, but I am talking about what I call theisim, which is simply the belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving being…

    Finally, I do not think that those options you listed exhaust all of the possibilities…I think, like Bach, that we should make a distinction between a person being justified inholding a belief and the belief itself being justified (there has actually been some discussion of this over at Go Grue! here) so I think that one can be justified in believing something that is false and that one can have no justification for believing something that is true…the question is then ‘do we have any justification for believeing that God exists?’ I think the answer is ‘yes’, but I also think that we have some justification for NOT believing that God exists. Furthermore i think that the two sets of justification are equally compelling and so we do not have sufficient reason to choose either option. In fact I believe something stronger, which is that it is irrational to choose atheism or theism…

  13. Hi Richard,

    I read your post over at Philosophy etc. and I don’t think that I am the kind of agnostic that you are critisizing. I do not claim that we should be agnostic because we cannot prove that God doesn’t exist. I agree that that would be silly for just the kinds of reasons that you detail. My claim is that we have equal and opposite sets of evidence/arguments and that that is the reason we should be agnostic. Consider an analogy from quantuum mechanics. We have good evidence that light is a wave (double slit experiment) and good evidence that light is a particle (photo-electric effect), so which is it? A particle or a wave? Or both? Or neither? I claim that we really don’t know and that it is wrong to go around saying that we do. (to forstall an objection let me say that we may now have some evidence that tips the scales what with the discovery of Bose-Einstein condensation states, but I am not sure…)

    I agree that the arg. from evil is supposed to show that a God of a certain kind doesn’t exist, or in other words that the existence of evil is incompatible with the way that God is normall;y described. I also agree that it does not show that an all-loving God doesn’t deserve to be worshiped. But my argument, which I see that I did not make as clear as I should have, was that if God exists and allows evil then He is not worthy of worship just because He is not all-loving, or all-powerful.

  14. Hi Enigman,

    I agree that it is mistaken to think of God like a superman, but that does not preclude us from having some ideas about what would be moral for Him. If He is supposed to be an ideally rational agent then it is actually pretty easy to see that He would be bound by ordinary morality. That is to say, that if God makes a promise and He is a rational agent then He kinows that He has an obligation to keep the promise just like us…

    Re ii. the point about what worlds God could have created is not irrelevant. It is crucial for figuring out whether or not God exists. For if He could have made a world with no evil in it but did not then He is evil, plain and simple…as for some being rich while others are not, yes it is OBVIOUSLY immoral, which I take it was the point that Rawls made…

    Re ii. yes I say that if there were a God He would make it known that He exists. You say you don’t see any reason for this belief. Really? Suppose that I love you and that I know everything about you. Also suppose that one of your deepest desire is to know whether I am alive or not. You don’t think that that would give me some reason for letting you know that I am alive? Now imagine an infinitely loving being. What possible reason could that being have for staying hidden? I claim none. So if God selectively reveals himself then He acts immorally…and finally…mmmmm…waffle…:)

  15. Hey James!!! How’s it going?

    Thanks for the comment!! I checked out your self-consciousness blog. Nice.

    I am not sure what your objection is. I think that what you offer is not just a kind of atheism, it is atheism. The mistake that such a person makes is to assert that ‘God’ does not refer whithout proper evidence. The theist, on the other hand, asserts that ‘God’ does refer, but again without proper evidence. So each camp is just talking bullshit, making claims that they do not have theproper evidence for. Therefore each camp makes exactly the same mistake.

  16. Richard, I think that I agree with your agnosticism (my dubious personal experiences aside), so I’ve posted my version of an argument for agnosticism today, and wonder what you make of it (whether I’m anywhere near your reasoning).

    Regarding your last comment (on my reply to your question), i.e. that there is no possible reason, there is at least one (and your analogy is misleading) as follows (and I bet there are better ones). God might have created a world just like this one because s/he wished to find stuff out. S/he might have created our souls and asked us whether or not we wished to participate. In view of our great love for our Creator at that point we might have agreed (whilst others might not have). Such a motive is consistent with the creation of a world just like this one (with its materialistic evolution etc.) and is hardly a bad one (if our philosophical and scientific drives are not, which might be why it appeals to me).

    So your supposition (your analogy) is misleading because God is (by hypothesis) our creator, not a fellow beloved creature. In your example there would indeed be an overwhelming reason for you to reveal yourself to me, or so it seems… But how about if things are just as in your example, but I’m in enemy (or potential enemy) territory (wanting to know if you’re alive or not), and that if you contact me in any way that would not so much endanger one or both of us (although it might, given how little we know of the enemy’s powers of observation), it would (most importantly to us) endanger our mission. Furthermore suppose that you know that I’m bound to be rescued soon, to be debriefed (!) by you.

    Anyway, whether or not God is immoral to do as s/he must have done (in order to be the creator of this world) is, I think, very sensitive to the details of our concepts of morality, and of a being so far beyond us that s/he created us and this Universe. Regarding promises, we are obliged to keep them, but also sometimes (e.g. when on dangerous missions of great importance to us) obliged to break them (and of course, although there are stories of God promising in the Bible, theism is independent of the literal truth of such stories). As regards evil in general (and inequalities of wealth in particular), I think that such issues are complicated rather than straightforward, but a relatively simple point is that although we could call a God who punished us in what we consider unfair ways evil, that would surely not make God evil unless we also assume that we are right (e.g. such an attitude on the part of a bad criminal would not make his judge evil).

  17. Thanks for thew response. I am very interested to check out your argument for agnosticism (I may not have time to do it until tomorrow, though…)

    I am not sure that we are really disagreeing. I am aruing that we should be agnostic with respect to the existence of a certain kind of God…in particular one that is all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful…so ex hypothesi it is impossible that God created the world ‘to find something out’ since the God I am interested in knows everything…

    Also I fail to see why His (alleged) soon-to-occur recueing of me alleviates all of the suffering that I have been through due to not knowing the truth…after all, as you say, He is supposed to be our creator and so he made me with this deep thirst for knowledge…what a cruel creature this God must be if He makes us with a desire that cannot be fulfilled!

    And lastly, I again do not think that we are disagreeing because the God I am interested in does not have to do anything. I also agree with you about the last point that you make…but barring such mitigating circumstances we can still know that God ought to keep His promises, and since He is supposed to know everything, then it does not seem to me that God could possibly make a promise that He did not know if He would keep or not…

  18. i) You’re right, I misread your definition. But in my defence, were God defined as the Creator, s/he would know everything about creation, have complete power over creation, and would presumably love it (or else why make it), so there are senses in which the two definitions go together. Anyway, the reason I misread your definition is that (given your definition) I’m an atheist, whereas (given my experience) I feel myself to be definitely a theist. I’m an atheist (given your definition) because I don’t believe that it is possible to give a definite meaning to all three conjuncts of your definition. E.g. what is love, precisely; and if God’s powers are at least bound by logic then what is logic, and if not then we have contradictions. (So I’m an atheist just as I don’t believe in Brlopsufx!)

    ii) I was suggesting that your deepest desires would be fulfilled eventually, unless there is no God. But it occurs to me that, with your definitions and worries, it is surprising that you are not an atheist. (Is it not true that, if God exists, then s/he created only Heaven, whereas this is Earth?)

    iii) With your definitions you may well be right about promising. As I say, I cannot think within your definitions. (Sorry:)

  19. The main reason why I’m an atheist, though (with your definitions), is precisely your stipulation that God is all-knowing in the sense that there could not be anything that God would want to find out. Presumably that concept of knowledge is akin to ours (or else that stipulation does not mean anything) but then I don’t see how He could know everything because it’s inconceivable (for me) how His knowledge of Himself (and the stuff around Him) could be sufficient to rule out the possibility of there being, in some completely unconnected (spatially, causally, etc.) place, another such being, another God.

    From what I know of knowledge, I’m pretty sure that no one could ever know such things. Of course, I might be wrong (given that we are considering the properties of an infinite being), and so your agnosticism might be justified. But still, such an all-knowing God would have to be quite unlike us. E.g. I don’t see how He could have the sort of free will that we have. Our free will seems to rely on our ability to choose between live options, whereas your (possible) God would already know what He was going to choose. (Again, maybe it could, but then if anything might follow, at every stage of our reasoning, then we could hardly think about such a hypothesis at all.)

    Still, I admit that your agnosticism might be justified (although my own would be no more justified than my belief that 1 + 1 might not be 2) and so, since our free will also seems to be connected to our moral responsibility (for our freely chosen actions), it occurs to me that your God might not be morally responsible (for anything), and in particular might not be to blame for anything. Such a God would not (could not) change through time (and might not even be persisting through time, as we do, but might exist in a more atemporal sort of way), and His amorality (in the sense of freedom from blame) might follow from that.

    But therefore He might nonetheless, despite such (an unusual and infinitary sort of) amorality, be worthy of worship, not entirely dissimilarly to how a great piece of music might be appreciated and admirable (in its entirety) even though some of its parts might (considered by themselves) be inadequate or even annoying. When we first hear a great piece of music, we might fail to appreciate its greatness, and so we might be tempted not to bother with it, whence it can make sense for it to be suggested to us that we try to appreciate it. Or maybe it is like a conductor telling each musician to think about their place within the whole piece, even as they must also immerse themselves in their playing.

    Thinking like that is, for me, a bit like thinking of how 1 + 1 might not be 2, but in short it seems that we might tell some analogical stories about how it is possible that the suggestion that we (try to) worship God could be justified.

  20. Hi Enigman,

    Thanks for the detailed comments!

    You raise some very interesting considerations regarding knowledge and (God’s) free will and whether a flawed God is worthy of worship…I will have to think about them before I respond in any detail.

    But for now let me just say that this is not ‘my’ definition of God. This is the standard conception of God in most monotheistic religions.

  21. Hi Richard… yes, I didn’t mean to suggest that you’d invented a silly definition of ‘God,’ it does indeed crop up a lot. But since the “all-knowing” etc. bits are also part of my conception (if not my definition), with appropriate precisifications of ‘all’ etc. following from my preferred definition of ‘God’ (as the Creator of this Universe), so I used ‘your definition’ to indicate when the precisification of ‘all’ etc. was as you indicated at the begining of this post. (I did feel awkward typing “your definition” incidentally, but I couldn’t think of a better way of putting it without waffling even more:)

    If I comment much more I’ll feel like I ought to be posting on my own blog, but to return to the question of why we should worship God (with your definition), I recall that believers used to tell me that I had to want to believe, and that going through the motions of worhip (with at least a mind open to God’s influence) would help me to do that. To me, that seems a lot like asking to be hypnotised, but I wonder if the nature of God might not make a difference. After all, simplicity in a theory is not just to be preferred for its pragmatic virtues, it is also regarded (quite widely) as a sign of truth. That is, we might deduce truth from simplicity. And again, we might deduce truth from the goodness of a hypothesis (all else being equal), if we are optimists, and one could argue that perhaps we ought to be optimists…

  22. Hey,

    So I have been thinking about the knowledge point that you made…you say that you can’t imagine God knowing everything…but it seems to me that I can. It also seems to me that this would not interfere with God’s free will if it doesn’t interefere with ours (though I know that some poeple think it does)…consider: just because I know that I will have coffee this morning does not mean that I couldn’t have tea. It just means that I have made my choice already. SO maybe God is like that. He has made all of his choices all ready (this is especially intuitive if, as some argue, God is outside of time and sees all of time as equally present), but that doesn’t imply that he isn’t free…

    Alos, the point about the flawed pices of music is a good one, but after thinking about it, it seems to me that this is only a consideration that would let one choose to worship God if they could get over the flaws…it does not COMPELL one to worship God, and that was the question I asked (‘why MUST we worship God?’)…I wanted to suggest that even if God does in fact exist it is not obligatory that we worship Him, and I don’t think that that intuition is threatened by your point…

    I am not sure I see the point that you are making in this latest comment…it is true that simplicity is widely assumed to be a harbringer of Truth, but I don’t see that this is justified at all!!! It assumnes that Nature is simple, but the more I know about String Theory and Quantum Gravity, the more I suspect that this assumption is itself simple (minded!)…as for deducing Truth from the goodness of a hypothesis…I doubt it! Take a modal logic of obigation….in S5 the following is a theorem []p –> p. If we take ‘[]’ to be ‘obligatory’ we get ‘if it is obligatory that p, then p is the case’ this is a very good hypothesis, but obviously false!!!! So, optimism in this respect just seems so naive…

    but again, I am not suggesting that people ought not to worship God if they so choose, I am arguing that, even if there is a God, I don’t have to worship Him…

  23. Thanks Richard, I was misreading you again; and I think you’re right that even if there is a God (in the omni sense) then you need not worship It. Also I think that you’re right about God’s omniscience not contradicting Its free will. But I still don’t see how it’s possible for any knower to know the full extent of what they don’t know.

    We can posit that God just does know that there is nothing about which It doesn’t know everything, but consider God’s knowledge of Its justification for that belief… how could such justification (merely that It knows it) not appear circular to the believer in question, i.e. to God? But if the justification seems circular to God, then God knows that it is circular, and so It knows that that belief does not amount to knowledge (even if it happens to be true). That is, to imagine that omniscience (in your strict sense) is possible is to imagine that such a belief might not have a circular justification, and it is that that I can’t imagine.

  24. The reason that religion demands worship of “God” is that all religions depend on brainwashing of their flock. That’s why it has to start when the poor schnuck is so young (I was such a schnuck, myself..) Brainwashing will wither and eventually vanish unless it is constantly reinforced. That is why religions promote bible study, daily prayer, Sunday “worship,” various ceremonies. That’s why at every service, Christians have to recite the Apostles Creed time and again. An effective brainwashing technique is also mind-numbing repetition, such as the catholic rosary. How could any rational being on their knees recite the same incantations over and over and over, unless it is to brainwash the person doing the chanting. I have been freed from this brainwashing and am now seriously searching for answers to how the universe came to be, how the earth was born, how life came to be on this planet, and how we became human. As long as I was trapped in this mental prison of religion, I never sought answers to any of these things, because I had been taught that it was all “God’s Work.” Absolute and Total Nonsense. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has said that, throughout history, whenever man reached the limits of his knowledge, he would involke a deity. Examples are wind, rain, fire, volcanoes, earthquakes, fertility, storms, etc. etc. etc. As these have been explained as natural phenomena, these “gods” have disappeared. There is no supernatural anything. All there is is the natural world.

  25. Hey! I just noticed this!

    Thanks for the comment.

    I defintely agree with what you say about organized religion and its brainwashing techniques. And I definitely agree with your charge that organized religion often inhibits rational inquiry. But this doesn’t show that there is no God, though it does emphasize the problem of evil in a nicely dramatic and ironic way.

    I also agree with Tyson’s comment about appealing to deities when humans reach the limit of their knowledge, but that doesn’t show that there is no God either (compare, for instance, how people always appeal to causal relations when they don’t know what is going on. So, you eat some chinease food and feel sick 5 minutes later and conclude that it was teh Chinease food that made you sick and so vow not to eat any more chinease food even though it couldn’t have been the chinease food that made you sick…that doesn’t show that there is no causal relation)

  26. I love the title of the blog; it fits with the irreverence. Your Chinese Menu on Godliness is, well, disturbingly limited. I am debating, even now, on the MickeyD next door. You narrowly define ( and this by de facto inference ) “worship.” Let’s stay with this.
    You point out, or hint at, that problems with the motivations for “worship.” Agreed: crap all. But prayer and “worship” need not be motivated by the above-mentioned. God does not have being; God is the idea of being; Godness is in relatedhood — to “know” God is to be a participant in predication; that there is predication is “proof” of God. A loving and all powerful God? What? You mean the Wizard of Oz? — Still working this out.
    Now go to worship or Sister Sarah will build you a new layer of skin on your ass!

  27. Maybe the answer is like the old question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?”

    If you find its half full, then worship God. Take it that the things that don’t work out logicaly are a limitation of our minds, not His.

    We assume our logic is impecable. But, we know so very very little. The nature of evil doesn’t fit in logicaly with our logical idea of an all powerful God.

    So what?

    Logic can’t peer into the mysterious, you need a msytic.

    Some things are forever going to be a mystery, no matter how much knowledge or logic we throw at them.

    Love is kind of a mystery don’t you think?

    Is it more pleasing to believe or disbelive?

    Why worship (find worthy) anything? Why praise cable tv or pizza and beer.

    Why worship God? Just for the joy of it might be the best answer, or maybe the challenge of letting go of the crutch logic can sometimes become. Logic has limits. God has none. Which do appeals to you the most?

    To all that clutch their logic so preciously, explain gravity, light as a wave and particle, magnetisim, the earth’s core, how a hymn in praise of the Lord Shri Krishna, is also the value of p/10 to 32 decimal places, the accelaration of the size of the universe, a mothers intuition, beginers luck, Jungian Synchronicity, remote viewing, crop circles (ok two drunk guys and a pack of wild hedge hogs..right), fear, truth.

  28. Hi David, thanks for the comment.

    You mention reason why we could (or should) worship God if we wanted to, but I want to know why we HAVE to worship Him, as many religious people think.

    Each one of the things that you mention have a natuarlistic/empirical explanation…in other words, it isn’t all logic. Some of it is observation.

  29. If we need “enoght evidence” to believe in somenthing, then, how do you determine what/how much evidence is enoght evidence?

    After you have answered that, we can discuss a multitude of other problems
    that will follow.

    If you can’t succesfully answer that (which is what I think it will be the case), then, you might have there a good reason to worship God… Indeed, if we cannot hold that there is something that we can refer to as “enoght evidence” to believe , then, you can belive whatever you want, and you might as well decide to worship God just in case that all or some of what it is said about him might be true.

  30. Hi RBD,

    thanks for the comment.

    Whether or not we should believe in God is a seperate question than the one I am asking in this post. I want to know why we are morally required to worship God, given that we believe there is one. The thing you allude to, i.e. his power to punish us, is not a reason of the sort that I am after. I want to know why I am morally obligated to worship God,. After all unjust tyrants can force me to worship them via fear of punishment, but that doesn’t mean that I should worship them…surely this is not what you want to say about God is it?

  31. Although thinking some more… here are 3 possible (admittedly somewhat question begging) arguments that I thought of by using your 3 points as starters.

    1) god is ultimate good – so we should contemplate him and that the proper approach to contemplating ultimate good is worshiping
    2) You should worship/thank him IF you are grateful for existing
    3) God has a perfect plan (which flows from being all loving and omniscient), any change you make to it no matter how well thought out will detract from that plan – part of that plan is that you worship him.

  32. I guess my thought is you don’t have to worship him.

    God is what God is, not what religions define.

    We have the choice.

  33. Hi again David!

    Yeah, I have no problem with that kind of view, but a lot of religions take the position that we are morally obligated to worship god, or that we are in some sense required to worship him…I was trying to question that assumption. I was asking whether I would count as doing anything morally wrong by choosing not to worship an existing God.

  34. Hi Richard,

    It is my understanding that the general definition of atheism is the lack of belief in a god. If you answer “no” to the question, “do you belief that a god or gods exists” then to me, you’re an atheist. Agnosticism is the belief that god is unknowable or unprovable, but you might still believe in a god anyway, on faith. You could be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist.

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