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Why would a perfect god accept praise or worship? Donald Trump, sure, but a perfect god?

Let’s continue with Christian apologists’ justifications for praise and worship of God (part 1 here).

3. Worship isn’t for God’s benefit but Man’s

We don’t worship God because He needs it (He needs nothing and is entirely self-sufficient), but because we need it. . . . God “needs” no worship whatever because in Christian theology, He needs nothing. He’s completely all-sufficient and self-sufficient. It’s for our sake that we “render unto God’s what is rightfully God’s.” (Source)

Don’t tell me that God gets no benefit from human actions. Burnt offerings are a “pleasing aroma” in the Bible, but this wasn’t like incense, where God could take it or leave it. This is explicitly labeled a food offering 27 times in the Old Testament. And in the Garden of Eden story, God created Adam to be the gardener (Genesis 2:15).

Getting onto more cerebral or emotional needs, God refers to “everyone . . . whom I created for my glory” (Isaiah 43:7). No, God isn’t “entirely self-sufficient” when humans support his Maslow’s pyramid, providing food and labor at the bottom and glory and esteem at the top.

Christianity confuses itself because God evolved dramatically through the Bible. Perhaps an apologist could cherry pick Bible verses later in the Bible to show that God is aloof from human actions. Maybe this god sings along with Simon and Garfunkel, “I am a rock / I am an island.” But early in his development, God needed humans, and that included their worship.

4. Or maybe worship is for God’s benefit

It must be maddening being a Christian apologist. You’ve just taught some manners to an insolent atheist cur with the back of your hand and a powerful argument when a fellow Christian comes along and undercuts it.

Argument 3 declared that worship is for our benefit, not God’s. And 4 says the opposite:

God created us for His pleasure (just as we create delightful things for our pleasure). Praising God—acknowledging His goodness, love, perfection, and all the incredible things He has done for us—brings Him pleasure. If you have children, you know what a beautiful thing it is to have them praise you. (Source)

Yes, I have children. No, I don’t want them praising me. Love, appreciation, thanks, and so on (as appropriate) is great, but not praise.

We praise children. God is like a child in this sense—or like a happy performing artist. Creation is like a great performance in which the artist loves to create and also loves to be praised for creating. Praise of God is a gift to be prayed for, not a duty to be performed. (Source)

We praise God like a child? I suppose “Aren’t you the smart boy for tying your shoes?” becomes, “Didn’t you create a nice earth?”

And “Nice job destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. You’re so thorough!”

And “What a pretty rainbow—and the bunnies are so fluffy!”

Maybe you ought to talk it over with the source for argument #3 to get your story straight. Like the poor analogies in argument 2, the Christian might retreat by saying that analogies only go so far. Fair enough—if the analogies are poor (like God as a child) then don’t use them.

5. Why worship? Because the Bible tells me so.

You might think that praise is the same as saying “thank you,” but there is a difference. . . . All believers are commanded to praise God! (Source)

The Bible commands it. As the Psalmist says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6). (Source)

Why is praising God important? The reasons are countless. First, God deserves to be praised and He is worthy to receive our praise: “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4). (Source)

There are a mountain of Bible verses with this demand.

“If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings” (Malachi 2:2–3).

Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water (Revelation 14:7).

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Philippians 2:10).

This isn’t God wanting praise simply because it’s the best thing for us. This is a demand.

We laypeople get a piece of that with the song with the phrase, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty! / God in three persons, blessed Trinity!” And then Revelation talks about the four living creatures who say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8), forever.

And Christians wonder what is weird about worship when their god tolerates that.

Continued in part 4.

I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father,
expects or requires no worship or praise from us,
but that He is even infinitely above it.
— Benjamin Franklin


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CROSS EXAMINED In his first career, Bob Seidensticker designed digital hardware and was a contributor to 14 software patents. Since then, he has explored the debate between Christianity and atheism for...