Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Worship only God


The Bible demands that we worship God, and only God. The first and second commandments are:
  • You shall have no other gods before me.
  • You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Worshiping other gods is punishable by death. The kings who killed prophets of other gods are lauded for their zeal for the Lord. God punished by death those who failed to consult him or properly respect him.

Say it is true; God is the only one worthy of our worship and those who worship other gods are foolish. Does that mean it is right for God to demand our worship on pain of death? If someone foolishly worships a fake god, is that threatening to God? Why can't he just laugh at that man's foolishness? If someone wants to choose a different god, why not just let him? My only explanation for this defensiveness on God's part is that he feels threatened by people following other gods. But it is kind of surprising that an infinite God would feel threatened by mere mortals. That is the kind of behavior Imight expect from an autocrat fearful of possible usurpers.

I'm not sure what to conclude. If indeed God is not satisfied unless everyone worships him and he punishes those who don't, then the Christian God must be insecure and vindictive. How can I honestly worship someone like that?

30 comments:

  1. First off, God doesn't kill all people who don't worship Him. In fact, He has used "other" people to discipline His own people.

    I don't think God is threatened by man at all. I think He probably does laugh at our foolishness sometimes. Perhaps He even says what my mom says, "Just because I'm laughing, doesn't mean I think it is funny". But as our Father, He disciplines.

    People who choose to not believe in God, or worse, know the truth and ignore it, shouldn't expect God to be all lovey-dovey towards them, should they? I think God is actually more than "fair" in dealing with people who have stated in their hearts or lips that they have no interest in God, or think He ranks right up there with Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.

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  2. I didn't intend to imply God kills everyone who doesn't worship him. But the Bible says he was highly jealous for the worship of the Israelites and made a point of this by killing some or bringing others to execute his punishment on various ones that didn't worship him. That is a pretty brutal way to demand worship.

    Perhaps the issue is that I don't see why God demands worship from people (with the threat of punishment if they don't worship him). It is like demanding that someone admire you. Surely admiration and worship are only meaningful if they are completely voluntary and not induced by reward or punishment. And if you are worthy of great admiration, and someone doesn't admire you then that is simply his mistaken judgement -- perhaps a failing to properly assess your admirable properties, but no reason for him to be punished. The only people I know of who get upset when someone doesn't admire them are those with poor self images or in fear of rejection. If God cared about what we honestly thought about him, then he would accept our honest judgement and thank us, whatever our judgement was.

    You say "People who choose to not believe in God, or worse, know the truth and ignore it, shouldn't expect God to be all lovey-dovey towards them, should they?" Well, why not? You seem to assume that it is obvious that God exists and that he corresponds to the Christian God. I don't think someone who objectively evaluated the evidence would conclude either of those things. What would you say to a person who said the following? "I looked at the evidence and concluded that the evidence for God is lacking, and even if there were one, he wouldn't be the Christian God. But to hedge my bets (to avoid hell and get to heaven just in case I'm wrong) I'll worship the Christian God." Is it more important for someone to be honest, or to believe what he is told?

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  3. "I'm not sure what to conclude except that the Christian God is insecure and vindictive."

    Bertrand Russell argues even more forcefully here, as he has the courage to question even Christ's moral character on this point:

    "There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ's moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person that is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching -- an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers, but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence. You do not, for instance, find that attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to him; and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to take the line of indignation. . . .

    You will find that in the Gospels Christ said: "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell." That was said to people who did not like His preaching. It is not really to my mind quite the best tone, and there are a great many of these things about hell. There is, of course, the familiar text about the sin against the Holy Ghost: "Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world nor in the world to come." This text has caused an unspeakable amount of misery in the world, for all sorts of people have imagined that they have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, and thought that it would not be forgiven them either in this world or in the world to come. I really do not think that a person with a proper degree of kindliness in his nature would have put fears and terrors of this sort into the world.

    Then Christ says, "The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth"; and He goes on about the wailing and gnashing of teeth. It comes in one verse after another, and it is quite manifest to the reader that there is a certain pleasure in contemplating wailing and gnashing of teeth, or else it would not occur so often. Then you all, of course, remember about the sheep and the goats; how at the second coming He is going to divide the sheep from the goats, and He is going to say to the goats: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." He continues: "And these shall go away into everlasting fire." Then He says again, "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." He repeats that again and again also. I must say that I think all this doctrine, that hell-fire is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty. It is a doctrine that put cruelty into the world, and gave the world generations of cruel torture; and the Christ of the Gospels, if you could take Him as his chroniclers represent Him, would certainly have to be considered partly responsible for that."

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  4. These aren't complete thoughts but then the subject is probably inexhaustible...

    All people worship something. What does a person worship when he does not worship God? Wealth, fame, intellect, another person, a made-up god? All these things point ultimately to self-worship, basically making oneself God. This is the root sin for all sins, leading to spiritual death, which is a more final death than bodily death. We are not God; we are His creatures, and to aspire to be God is more than mere foolishness. It's killing God.

    Which is what happened millenia later when Jesus died on the cross to give life back to the spiritually dead.

    I'm being perhaps irresponsible for leaving it at that but will keep thinking and maybe posting.

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  5. I'm sorry to hear that you accept only Scientific evidence as your only source of truth. But Science is not infallible, so why place your Faith in something so unreliable...?

    Life is a Test of Love. Since God is LOVE. SIN is when we place God's LOVE also called GRACE or God's Gift of Himself to us, on the wrong things (material possessions, Scientific knowledge, human pleasures, personal achievements,etc).

    Now, for Love to be true, it needs to be Freely given. Otherwise, it would be nothing but Slavery. That's why God created us with Free Will so that we could freely choose to Love Him. LOVE can only be commanded when it has first been GIVEN...

    You may ask why was there a forbiden fruit in the Garden of Eden? Because for us to experience True Freedom, there needed to be A CHOICE. A choice between Good (Loving God) and Evil (Loving Satan/sin).

    Adam and Eve chose to do the Will of Satan instead of doing the Will of God.

    On the other hand, the Angels were created by God with a Superior Intellect over that of ALL Human Beings. Therefore, they KNEW that the eternal consequence of their decision would be ETERNAL HEAVEN or ETERNAL HELL.

    Because of their Higher KNOWLEDGE, their decision was eternal and it remains irrevocable forever.

    In our case, we can change our minds while we are still alive but at the moment of our Death, our last decision becomes Eternal and Irrevocable.

    God gave us an Intellect so that we could come to the Knowledge of God, and of His Love by means of Science. Faith and Science are not contradictory because God is the author of both.

    When we Freely choose NOT TO LOVE God, we are choosing Hell because Hell is the only place and/or state of being where God is NOT LOVED.

    God is LOVE. Hell is the absence of God. In the absence of GOD, we find nothing but the presence of ALL EVILS.
    (pain, hatred,envy,cursings, anger,etc).

    Hell is a personal choice. God cannot send anyone to Hell against their will. Nor can He send anyone to Heaven against their will.

    If you choose Hell for your eternal destination, God HAS to grant and respect your decision because He cannot interfere with our Free Will. If He did, we would not be Truly Free.

    Our Human Will is so powerful that not even God can force us to LOVE Him nor can He force us to enjoy Eternal Happiness with Him in Heaven if we refuse to Love Him and to be Loved by Him.

    It is always a STRONG attachment to SIN that keeps us away from God.

    I pray [-o> that God will free you from your attachment to sin and that God may give you the grace to come to the knowledge of Him who is the Truth and who died for the forgiveness of ALL your sins, so that you can enjoy Eternal Life with Him in heaven.
    I ask this in God's Will and in His Love, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

    Please be HUMBLE, REPENT and ask God TO FORGIVE YOU...

    HEAVEN WILL NOT BE THE SAME WITHOUT YOU :-(

    God bless you always,
    Mary, Your sister in God's Will

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  6. "There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ's moral character....can believe in everlasting punishment."

    REMEMBER THAT GOD IS INFINITELY MERCIFUL BUT THAT HE IS ALSO INFINITELY JUST.

    He can only apply His mercy to the repentant sinners.


    HELL IS THE ABSENCE OF ALL-GOODNESS (GOD). That's why Jesus describes it as an awful place.

    HELL is how God fulfills the desires of those who reject His Love.

    God continues to Love the souls of the damned in Hell because God's Eternal Movement is to LOVE. But it is THEY, who cannot stand to be Loved by God. The presence of God's Love would increase their torments in Hell.

    Therefore, out of LOVE FOR THEM, GOD WITHDRAWS HIS PRESENCE FROM THEM and this is how HELL comes into being.

    HELL is the ETERNAL ABSENCE of GOD and the ETERNAL PRESENCE OF ALL EVILS for only God is Good.

    Loving GOD is a free will decision for Heaven while rejecting God's forgiving Love is a free will decision for Hell.

    Love you in Christ,
    Mary

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  7. Tanya,

    In reply to your post: I wonder, do we all worship something? We come into this world as finite beings with limited capability of knowing and discovering things. We have needs, wants, fears and hopes. Given the position we find ourselves, and the state we see others in, we each choose a path in life. We make goals and we may work hard to achieve them. But I don't see why any of that means we must worship something or someone. I know it is an oft quoted Christian dogma that we all worhip something, but it does not seem true to me.

    Also I'm not sure that it follows that pursuing one's own needs means that one makes oneself into God. All animals pursue their own needs -- but I don't think we would conclude they are making themselves into God. As animals we are programmed to pursue our own needs, although we have the capability of helping others too. I don't see why either course of action would be sinful or make a God out of something.

    Thanks for your thoughts,

    Daniel

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  8. Mary,

    It is hard to reply to all your points, but I can reply to some meta-issues you raise.

    First I am not putting "faith" in science (see skepdic.com/faith.html). Rather I am judging whether things are likely to be true or not, and basing that judgement on the physical evidence I have. I could make mistakes in my deductions, but given our senses and our minds we are all constrained to operate like this. We do it all the time in daily life. And I think conciously not doing it, say with regard to one's religious beliefs, is abdicating one's responsibility.

    In a previous post God-wants-a-relationship-with-you I argue against the justness of God sending someone to hell. Here's a hypothetical example: someone could examine the evidence and conclude that the Bible was created by humans to decieve other humans. At the same time, however, he could still seek God or seek the good. The claim that if one pursues truth and goodness then one also accepts Christian beliefs is simply not true. If God is really just he would not withdraw himself or condemn someone for following the evidence as best as he could nor leave him to hell.

    My challenge for you is to not to simply accept Christian doctrines, but rather for each doctrine you quote, to seek to determine if it is really true and what assumptions it makes. Also ask if it contradicts important principles that you believe in. I am doing this sort of questioning in this blog.

    Regards,

    Daniel

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  9. Yes, it is possible for an atheist to live a moral life. But at the end of his life, he will realize that he has failed to love the only one who was deserving of all his love (God).

    What are those principles that you hold that are contrary to the Christian doctrines? Is it by any chance same sex marriages, adultery, abortion, and so on?

    Could you please mention some of your principles that contradict the Christian faith?

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  10. My principles are that people and God ought to be just, fair and good. I see plenty of contradictions to this in the Bible, see my post: Is God Good?.

    If loving one's neighbor is not the same as loving God, then I think God as a poor self-image problem; needing our love to be happy. But if loving others is loving God (as I think one could argue Jesus believed), then perhaps the athiest may love God after all.

    Daniel

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  11. I am sure that many of those pagans who were killed in obedience to God in the OT, are already in Heaven by God's Mercy while here you are rejecting God for something that you judge as an evil action, according to your poor understanding of life and death.

    But neither life is the ultimate good nor is it death the ultimate evil.

    Then, why should you judge God's goodness based on how many people died in the Old Testament?

    God desires the salvation of all without exception.

    How do you know what were the intentions of God in allowing their lives to be taken back to their Creator?

    What makes you think that the people who were killed in the OT were not immediately forgiven by God and allowed to enter heaven right away?

    They are probably happier ever since in heaven than they could ever be here on earth. But perhaps it was necessary for them to suffer in order to atone for their own sins and enter into heaven.

    God always gave enough signs and warnings to give them (pagans) a chance to repent. For God can only apply His mercy onto the repentant sinners. But if they insisted in their evil practices, they called upon themselves, the Divine Justice.

    God's Justice is His Love elevated to the highest degree that unable to apply His Mercy upon the unrepentant sinners, it turns into Justice in order to call the sinner to repentance.

    The Divine Justice is always God's last resource to call the sinner to repentance. Then and only then can God apply His mercy and save the lives of the most obstinate sinners.

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  12. If you harm someone, and then overwhelmingly make up for the harm, nevertheless it does not mean the original harm was just or good. Similarly God making up to someone in heaven for an evil he did to him on earth, does not make the evil go away or make it just.

    Or perhaps you are arguing that God didn't do an evil to them and that he can justly do whatever he likes to us humans. Whatever God does to us we deserve as we are sinful creatures with no rights. Well imagine the cruelest, most evil dictator you can, and all the horrible things he might do to his subjects. But it follows, by the above proposition, that God could act just like this dictator since we deserve it all and since God is doing it for the greater good of bringing salvation.

    If we are concerned about the goodness of a supernatural being, I think we must judge him by his actions in this world rather than his claims about the next. As Jesus said, "you will know them by their fruits" rather than by their claims.

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  13. Jesus, who is God, became man and took upon Himself all the punishments that you, Daniel, deserved for yours sins. And you dare to say that God only wants to punish you?

    Jesus who is sinless, suffered the most unmerited and excruciating pains to give you Daniel, salvation and eternal life and you still believe that God does not love you?

    Besides, who are you, the worst of sinners, to believe that you can judge the actions of God? But if you dare to, at least do so righteously and honestly.

    If you must judge God by His fruits then you must consider His death on the Cross which is the greatest fruit of His Infinite Love for you, Daniel, a sinner.

    Only if you are blind, you will not see the outpouring of His Love by taking upon himself the sufferings that we all deserved for our own sins.

    Have pity on God, Daniel, have pity on God and on His undeserved sufferings which He willingly endured to give you salvation and Eternal Life.

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  14. Jesus, who is God, became man and took upon Himself all the punishments that you, Daniel, deserved for yours sins. And you dare to say that God only wants to punish you?

    Jesus who is sinless, suffered the most unmerited and excruciating pains to give you Daniel, salvation and eternal life and you still believe that God does not love you?

    Besides, who are you, the worst of sinners, to believe that you can judge the actions of God? But if you dare to, at least do so righteously and honestly.

    If you must judge God by His fruits then you must consider His death on the Cross which is the greatest fruit of His Infinite Love for you, Daniel, a sinner.

    Only if you are blind, you will not see the outpouring of His Love by taking upon himself the sufferings that we all deserved for our own sins.

    Have pity on God, Daniel, have pity on God and on His undeserved sufferings which He willingly endured to give you salvation and Eternal Life.

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  15. God could have acted like a dictador and inflict upon us the punishment that we deserved for our sins.

    But instead, God turned His Justice against Himself and received the punishment for us, so that we could be free from the slavery of sin and be able to be again in His presence for all Eternity as it was in the beginning.

    If God is a dictador then he must be the worst of them all since He punished none else but Himself.

    Think about it...

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  16. Loving our neighbor has to be understood and interpreted according to the 10 commandments.

    Some homosexuals claim that they "love" each other, so where is the fine line between Loving your neighbor and comitting immoral actions especially when Love for God is missing.

    Many crimes are comitted in the name of Love yet they are still evil.

    None can claim that a crime comitted in the name of Love is no longer a crime.


    Try a society where laws are not followed, criminals are neither punished nor put into prison, everything is morally acceptable and you'll have a perfect receipe for Chaos.

    No God ---> no moral principles, no peace, no harmony, no justice, insanity reigns and so does chaos.

    If God cannot punish His creatures, then the government cannot punish his criminals. Let's throw away our Judicial System and let chaos reign in the world.

    Is that wise? Obviously not but that's what you're asking God to do when you claim that He must not allow the death of pagans in the Old Testament...

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  17. Your thoughts on this?

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  18. If God cannot punish His creatures, then the government cannot punish his criminals. Let's throw away our Judicial System and let chaos reign in the world.

    Is that wise? Obviously not but that's what you're asking God to do when you claim that He must not allow the death of pagans in the Old Testament...

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  19. And this is the verdict, that The Light came into the world, but people preferred Darkness to Light, because their works were evil.

    20
    For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.
    21
    But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

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  20. In reference to the above post, I don't think that we should judge people who are seeking the truth.

    Back to the topic being discussed, I disagree with you in that I believe that God does not kill anyone.

    He allows evil people to continue to exist and to perpetuate evil in the world while our government takes freedom and sometimes even life away from individuals who become threatening to our society.

    Why does God allow everyone to do whatever they want even when their actions could be threatening to others?

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  21. The examples we have of God killing people are mostly in the Old Testament, although in the book of Revelation there is plenty of pleasure shown in God slaughtering huge numbers of people who don't worship him. And it is from the Bible that Christians draw most of their conclusions about God's character.

    But it is true that there isn't any evidence of God killing people nowadays, whether or not they worship him. This is surely to the chagrin of those wishing for a God who rights the wrongs of this world and punishes all the evil people. (Although there are always those who interpret any calamity as a judgement of God).

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  22. I personally don't see any difference between the God of the OT and the God of the NT.

    In the OT, in my opinion, not many nations knew the True God so he had to show with actions who he was and what he could do.

    One way of doing it was by supporting in battle, those who worshipped him and by giving them victory over the pagans.

    I see nothing wrong with this.

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  23. "Cosmic laws reveal such a Superior Intelligence that compared to it, every human thought is insignificant." Albert Einstein.

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  24. teach me to seek you,
    and reveal yourself to me
    when I seek you.
    For I cannot seek you unless
    you first teach me,
    nor find you unless
    you first reveal yourself to me.
    Let me seek you in longing,
    and long for you in seeking.
    Let me find you in love,
    and love you in finding.
    --Saint Ambrose of Milan, c. 340 - 397

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  25. Suffering is not due to the vengeance of an indignant God but rather it is like the pain one might suffer as a result of arrogantly defying the law of Gravity.

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  26. DM

    It does not please God when he has to apply his justice to sinners, but he has to do what His Justice claims.

    Even our Judicial Systems calls for criminals to be punished and if this is not done, we consider our Judicial System a total failure.

    This is no different in God. Those who offend God in this life, are violently rejecting to Love Him and to be Loved by Him for all eternity. This total and willingful separation from God's Love is called HELL. It is a personal choice that God has to grant to those who choose it for God cannot send us to heaven (His Eternal Loving presence) against our Will. We would be miserable if we had to Love God against our Will, and this would NOT be love anyway.

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  27. Anon:

    You say God has to follow his system of justice. Well, first I wonder what does justice mean? Perhaps it means appropriately punishing people for what they have done that they know is wrong. Let me go with this definition for now, but perhaps you can provide a better one.

    But doesn't Christianity depend on God not following his justice and choosing to forgive some for their sins? The idea of a someone taking someone else's punishment (Christ dying for our sins) is not just in any way I understand justice -- so it must involve a violation of God's justice. If God can violate his justice for some, then why not for all?

    On the topic of hell, please see my post Choosing Hell.

    DM

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  28. There has been, is, and will always be, onle one GOD! Nothing created can be THE CREATOR. It astounds me how man, although in our smartest state is simpleminded in comparison, can actually picture GOD in our likeness. We are beings, He is a spirit. We have a beginning of time, He is infininte. We strive to be good/better/best, HE Is Perfection. We learn, He already knows.

    When He says that He is a jealous GOD, it means NO OTHER GODS BUT HIM. If we are jealous men, we don't mean that you can love your mate and another too, just as long as you love your mate the most. We mean no others, so why can't we see this with him?

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  29. God simply wants you to appreciate all that he has given to you. He wants your respect.

    Here's an example:
    Let's say that you own a dog. The dog doesn't come around you and has nothing to do with you, but loves your neighbor. Would you keep that dog?

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  30. this whole universe have been cread by God, the only one God, and the creation in this world are just for the only one purpose, that is to worship him,, to obey what he says, and follow the ways, What have mentioned in the Quran,,, this is really what we are doing for ourselves,, not for others.. if we do good deeds, that means we are defending us from the fire, and if we are making good deeds, that we are making the ways for the jinnah....

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