God as Donald Trump: Trying to Make Sense of Praise and Worship (part 6)

God as Donald Trump: Trying to Make Sense of Praise and Worship (part 6) October 1, 2018

Let’s steel our nerves with a bracing shot of covfefe and conclude our look at Christians’ arguments that praising and worshiping God makes sense (and doesn’t sound like what a narcissistic man-child like Trump would demand). Part 1 is here.

10. Because praise brings bling

[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 certainly not 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 guy 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.

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 make this claim. Everyone experiences odd coincidences, but they’re infrequent. The Christian who thinks that God is clearly moving the chess pieces of their life (and that any outsider would agree) is making a scientifically testable claim. They need to demonstrate this to the world through something like the JREF 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.

I’ll bet that’s as reliable a divination tool as picking a Bible verse blindfolded and then parsing it for God’s meaning. Why not just read animal entrails or tea leaves?

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 just 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 monitor 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 as big as a Trump Baby balloon and continues to swell.

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. 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 here).

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

.

Image via pixabay, CC license
.

"There is no such thing as a final authority in atheism. You keep conflating it ..."

10 Commandments (for Atheists)
"I think it behooves us not to call common religious beliefs "delusions".A part of the ..."

Bad Atheist Arguments? Let’s Investigate 16 ..."
"Right. In other words, “Are you using a circular argument?”Again no. Statement #3 is a ..."

10 Commandments (for Atheists)
"Who cares what P.Z. Meyers says, P.Z. Meyer's is wrong.So atheists.org is the final authority ..."

10 Commandments (for Atheists)

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Anthrotheist

    So most of the arguments that have been presented to me by thoughtful Christians regarding praising God have basically boiled down to: “God doesn’t need your praise, but because he understand us better than we understand ourselves he wishes for us to praise him for our own sake because us praising him is good for us.” This was #3 (found in part 3 of this series), and most of the other ideas were subsequently presented to me as explanations for why groveling at God’s feet is so obviously uplifting for humans. It still strikes me as profoundly disparaging toward God: there doesn’t seem to be any way around the fact that either God is preposterously vain but is a perfect designer, or God has no need for vanity but was incapable of designing humans who didn’t need to worship him.

    The confirmation bias is what I really find interesting. I’m always amazed how an all-knowing and all-powerful God is so reactive and never preventative. We usually take it as established wisdom what Benjamin Franklin advised back in 1736: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And yet a man arrives with the skills to repair our stove only after the stove is already broken. Where is the man who arrives unexpectedly and tells us, “I had a premonition that your stove is about to break, I have the skills and parts to fix it for you,” after which he does (and can demonstrate what was about to break, unlike a religious conman). Even if God couldn’t stop all hurricanes, or wouldn’t for some reason, why would he change its direction after it makes landfall rather than having it rage around the open sea until it was finished?

    The answer is obvious, of course; at least to anyone who would expect a perfect God to be perfectly reasonable.

    • eric

      he wishes for us to praise him for our own sake because us praising him is good for us.”

      Imagine that instead of God designing humans such that praising God was ‘good for us’ in some vague and empirically un-noticeable sense, he designed humans so that being kind, charitable, and merciful to our fellow humans toned muscle, lowered cholesterol, destroyed any acquired diseases, and added years to our lives.

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        What would God get out of that deal?

        • Bob Jase

          Metaphysically, god needs praise and worship to polish his starship.

    • epicurus

      Given how big the Bible is, surely adding in good clear explanations of topics like why God needs praise or what greater good comes from suffering, etc. wouldn’t have added any significant bulk to to an already big book. 50 extra pages maybe? Hardly a deal breaker.

      • And it’s not like the Bible has any redundant or useless or stupid or wrong or boring or irrelevant stuff in it that could get deleted. You’d want to keep everything.

        • Greg G.

          Do we need Psalm 14 and Psalm 53? They are almost identical.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Bullshit. Kavanaugh flat out LIED several times. Blatant Bald Faced In Your FACE lies. There is no ‘he was maybe mistaken’. No fucking way. He flat out LIED. No , he was NOT legal to drink. Yes HE DID go to parties with the people his accuser said. Yes his friends know that he was a fucking falling down drunk. Yes his fucking yearbook is filled with sexism and drinking. HE FUCKING LIED.

    • Michael Neville

      Don’t be bashful, Cozmo, tell us how you really feel about Kavanaugh.

      • Cozmo the Magician

        This is not about ‘feelings’. This is about FACTS . The facts that he out and out lied. The FACT that he shed his little crocodile tears to show how much he was just sooooo hurts by all this. And then got all bullying and full on asshole when asked simple questions. I’m not the one who got all emotional. It is this fucking piece of shit that Trump wants to cover his ass that made an emotional mockery of the entire process.

  • Jim Jones

    How can you discuss ‘god’ without a working definition?

    Definition:

    “God is the ego projection of the self styled believer in the supposed being — with added super powers”.

    It’s impossible to attribute any effect from such a ‘god’ outside of its effect on the self described follower so it is irrelevant to everyone else.

    As a corollary, 2 billion Christians implies 2 billion gods and 2 billion Christianities.

  • Michael Neville

    Praise discharges strength in faith, which causes God to move on our behalf. . . . God inhabits the atmosphere of praise.

    It appears that this God thingy is so insecure that it requires constant praise. That cannot be healthy.

  • mrahill

    Bill Maher may have been reading this series, here he compares Trump and the OT god:
    https://youtu.be/7dfAd0IglrA

    • RichardSRussell

      I used to sign up for HBO only to watch Game of Thrones, and then I’d unsubscribe after each season had run its course. But, while subscribed, I took full advantage of Real Time with Bill Maher. And now that I’ve also found Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, I just keep the subscription going year-round.

      • Otto

        HBO has a lot of good series, documentaries. Many have been around a long time and can be accessed on demand. There are a lot of gems in there.

    • RichardSRussell

      I appreciate what Bill was saying about how Stalin and Mao didn’t get rid of religion because they hated the church, they did it because they hated the competition. But I wish he’d been more in tune with reality when it came to Hitler, who not only didn’t get rid of religion, he embraced it wholeheartedly. And it worked in both directions. The Vatican was just as happy with the Concordat as the Nazis were, sort of like evangelicals and Trump today.

  • quinsha

    His wife sees colored auras? He might want to get her checked for migraines. That is one of the symptoms.