Overview:

Here's the selfish side of praise and worship: tell God how fabulous he is, and you get gifts in return.

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We’ve been looking at how the Christian god has been shaped into a narcissistic Donald Trump. This is the concluding article in this six-part series. Part 1 is here.

The final reason Christians give for praising God:

10. Because praise brings goodies 

[Praise] paves the way for God’s power to be displayed, [and] miracles ​[do] happen. People’s lives are affected and changed. (Source)

Praise discharges strength in faith, which causes God to move on our behalf…. God inhabits the atmosphere of praise…. If we want to see a clear manifestation of God’s blessings and grace, all we need to do is to praise Him with all our heart, our mind, and our soul. Source

So what happens if we praise God, and nothing happens? God moves nothing on our behalf, and there are no miracles? Let me guess: you weren’t wrong, and it’s never God’s fault. The blame is always on the individual Christian.

Next time, back up these bold claims of miracles with evidence.

Confirmation bias

The evidence for God is so paltry that he’s indistinguishable from a being who doesn’t exist at all. Confirmation bias is one of Christians’ few friends supporting their belief that their praise and worship has a target that actually exists. (Confirmation bias is our tendency to accept evidence that supports our preconceived ideas and ignore evidence that goes against them.) Changing our minds is difficult and unpleasant, and confirmation bias is like air bags for the psyche, protecting us from reality.

One of our apologists shows us how it’s done:

[God provides encouragement] along the way, letting us know how He feels about us…. Reminders of particular lessons arrive at the moment when they’re most needed, and we become aware that God knows how we’re feeling and knows precisely what we need to hear…. The man who has the skills to repair our stove appears just when we need him; a job comes open at just the right time; we hear a chance word that settles the secret worry of our heart. (Source)

Only with confirmation bias could anyone buy this claim. Everyone experiences happy coincidences, but they’re infrequent. The Christian who thinks that God is clearly moving the chess pieces of their life (and that any observer would agree) is making a scientifically testable claim. They need to demonstrate this to the world through something like the JREF Million-Dollar Challenge (now terminated).

This apologist continues with an example of Christian magic that could only be supported through confirmation bias.

My wife, for example, sees significance in colors. When God has something to say to her, she notices a particular color that stands out, and over the years she’s come to associate specific colors with specific meanings. Also, when God wants to get her attention, she loses something; she might misplace her car keys, for example, and whenever she finds them, the location where she finds them and the nature of how she misplaced them will give her insight into some problem she’s facing at the moment.

Seriously? I’ll bet that’s as reliable a divination tool as picking a Bible verse blindfolded and then parsing it for God’s meaning. You might as well read tea leaves or animal entrails.

He concludes:

All of the interaction I’ve described goes on subtly, without fanfare. God is seldom ostentatious; He does what He needs to do to get His point across with a bare minimum of disturbance, and He leaves no tracks.

Which is what you’d have to say if “God” were nothing more than coincidence and wishful thinking.

Conclusion

I marvel at the god Christians have collectively created with these ten rationalizations (realizing, of course, that not every Christian would embrace them all). God becomes a Donald Trump, drunk on power and demanding that he get all the praise he’s due. On a sticky note above God’s computer screen is “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

This God is no sage, determined to reduce his ego. On the contrary, his ego is bigger than a Trump Baby balloon.

And yet these apologists must explain why this thin-skinned God is unaccountably hidden. If praise were so important, that’s all the more reason for him not to be hidden. A God unwilling to step into this spotlight of praise is as likely as Donald Trump avoiding the opportunity to be the center of attention.

We’ve looked at ten reasons Christians give to praise and worship God. Now it’s my turn.

  • Focusing on praise and worship keeps Christians compliant and submissive. They’re repeatedly shown how insignificant they are and how dependent they are on the church. Like a battered woman, the Christian is continually told that they can’t do it alone and that they’re inherently worthless. This benefits those in power at the top, the priesthood and politicians.
  • Praise and worship can help the Christian feel better, like music or the grandeur of a big church. It’s comforting and infantilizing (more on how Christianity infantilizes churchgoers).

These natural explanations are sufficient to explain why a religion might incorporate praise and worship. No gods are required. Religions evolve, and these are two of the beneficial traits that stuck around.

I cannot believe in a God
who wants to be praised all the time.
— Friedrich Nietzsche

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CROSS EXAMINED After graduating from MIT, Bob Seidensticker designed digital hardware, and he is a co-contributor to 14 software patents. For more than a decade, he has explored the debate between Christianity...