It’s Better to Mock God than to Defend Him

It’s Better to Mock God than to Defend Him January 9, 2015

So rather let us openly mock God, as has been done before in the world: this is always preferable to the demeaning air of self-importance with which one would prove God’s existence. For to prove the existence of one who is present is the most shameless insult, since it is an attempt to make him ridiculous; but regrettably people haven’t the faintest idea of this and out of sheer seriousness see it as a pious undertaking…One proves [God’s] existence by worship—not proofs.

This quote by Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) couldn’t be more relevant to recent, tragic events. While Kierkegaard is referring here to a certain kind of rational, theological apologetics (defending “God’s existence”), there’s another kind of “God’s defender” that takes up actual arms, rather than merely the weapons of theological argument, against the unbelievers. It is better to “openly mock God” (perhaps using comic satire?)  Kierkegaard here urges, than to “defend him.” He further suggests that the act of defending God (or “proving God’s existence”) is tantamount to doing the opposite–because in so doing the defender only reveals the inability of the God to show itself (much less defend itself).

In a recent blog post, James McGrath, re-posted  meme (via the Christian Left on Facebook), that I think resonates with Kierkegaard’s quote. Most-powerful-beingThere is a complicating dimension to all this, though, in that the eruptions of violence against “the West” are likely  not solely motivated by some kind of pathological desire to “defend God.” Reza Aslan provided some helpful commentary on CNN yesterday regarding the cultural and socio-economic underpinnings of these terrorist actions. Underlying this violence are questions about identity, marginalization (or perceptions thereof) and culture-clash than it about religious doctrine per se (although these are intertwined). There are reasons (beyond theological or religious ones) that fundamentalist ideologies attract social castaways and others who have either isolated themselves or have been isolated by the larger culture. The Boston bombers come to mind, too. These reasons are in no way justifications of the violence (as Aslan also made clear, in his commentary). But in defending “God,” they are probably actually defending (or asserting) themselves., albeit in atrocious ways–and in ways that can be defined as idolatry of the most destructive kind. Religious fundamentalism appeals to people who cannot tell the difference between defending God and defending themselves. If this is what it means to defend God, it’s better to mock him instead. But it’s better still to worship God, which as Kierkegaard suggests, is the only “proof” for God worth considering.

 

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  • Robert Landbeck

    One can mock religion for it’s overblown pretensions at pretending to speak in the name of God. And those who mock God are in reality only mocking the all to fallible human theological, systematic or not, construct around that yet unrealized ideal. That human reason and imagination have failed to provide any durable understanding of God probably only means existing tradition has little or nothing to do with God.

    Within the scriptural record, both canonical and non, as well as recently discovered material are close to three hundred references to false teaching and interpretation, the understanding of men masqurading as the word of God as well as self deception and of course the arch deceiver; presumably undetected and at large. There is the obvious contradiction of so much warning about what is false, without the insight to know what is from God and what is not. Obviously that understanding has yet to be revealed. The presumption that an absolute demonstrable PROOF of God is not possible could so easily turn out be the greatest intellectual self deceptions of history. Or to quote Dante from his Divine Comedy:

    “For as I turned there greeted mine likewise
    What all behold who contemplate aright
    that’s Heaven’s revolution through the skies. ”

    What generation will live to see it all?

  • bobmead1960

    His premise is wrong to “defend God is needless and senseless.” Which spiritual system is the right one? Or are they all right? What about those that are dissuaded of the belief in God? You might want to look up 2 Corinthians 5:11 and Jude 3. His argument is woefully short of reaching the souls of agnostics, atheists and unbelievers. They don’t come to worship in a God they do not believe in.

  • Kierkegaard’s point here is that the best “argument” for God is worship (and obedience to God), not rationalist “proofs.” Or we might also say, the best apologetic is to “love one another.” This is quite biblical!

  • How would you know when/if you discovered “an absolute demonstrable PROOF of God”? Other than, say, at the Eschaton–when “proof” of God becomes redundant.

  • Robert Landbeck

    “How would you know when/if you discovered “an absolute demonstrable PROOF of God”

    Quoting from a review of the Final Freedoms:

    “Radically different from anything known from history, this new teaching is predicated upon the ‘Promise’ [Word] of a precise, predefined, predictable and repeatable experience in which the reality of God responds directly to an act of ‘perfect faith’ with a direct, individual intervention into the natural world, ‘raising’ up within a man a newly Enlightened heart, realigning his moral compass by correcting human nature with a change in natural law, altering biology, consciousness and human ethical perception beyond all natural evolutionary boundaries.”

    “this direct personal experience of transcendence and moral purpose is ones first Resurrection [Revelations 20:6], the allegorical Sign of Jonah and justification of faith.”

    I’m TESTING this new teaching out now for myself!

  • bobmead1960

    He didn’t speak of loving those who reject God. Worship is giving praise and adoration to God. How do those who are atheists or agnostics and unbelievers find God? They don’t get it by osmosis. This violates the Great Commission Matthew 28:18-20; and Acts 1:8 – Go and preach – that is not just worshiping. So he is quickly proven wrong. Apologetics is the defense of something. You can’t defend something by not speaking or writing. Good day.

  • dotEdus

    Kyle,

    I’m not sure I understand what Kierkegaard meant and how you’re using it here.

    First, it seems that you put very different expressions of apparent devotion to God under one label- “defending God”. You write, “Religious fundamentalism appeals to people who cannot tell the difference between defending God and defending themselves. If this is what it means to defend God, it’s better to mock him instead.” People can confuse their desires for God’s will, but are you saying that that is the only thing happening when people “defend God” in the different ways you mention? You don’t mean to lump the motivations for jihadist violence and rational apologetics together, do you?

    Second, when someone tries to give an argument for God’s existence (by this I mean the triune, Christian God), you said that Kierkegaard and the meme you shared draw a single conclusion: that the person is actually giving a better proof that God doesn’t exist, since if God did exist He would just come down and defend Himself. Isn’t this too limiting, though? Instead of being evidence that God is unable to defend Himself because He doesn’t exist, why can’t it just be evidence that God is unwilling to defend or speak for Himself apart from some cooperation from His people? Maybe He just chooses to use people more than we would?

    Lastly, what do you think Kierkegaard means by “worship”? I haven’t read his work, but I think he would say “worship” is more than just going to church and singing, correct? Do you think he’s saying, then, that giving others my rationale for believing the Gospel falls outside of “worship” and loving my neighbor? Why can’t giving that rationale just be another part of loving my neighbor, though?

    Thanks

  • All worldviews, secular and sacred, are religious, without exception. Because every worldview is founded on “metaphysical” beliefs that are beyond science and physics, including atheism, Naturalism, Humanism, Secularism, communism, socialism and, even the beliefs of non-belief . Indeed, history is a panorama of “nature red in tooth and claw”, and cultures and nations red in blood and war butchering other people and nations. The followers of every worldview on planet earth, secular and sacred, have engaged in activities that cause widespread pain, surrendering and death, without exception. As for ISIS be-headings, the supposed ‘Enlightenment’ and “Age of Reason” lead directly to the “reign of Terror”of the French Revolution. Where from 16, 000 to 40,000 citizens were “beheaded” by the guillotine in the name of equality, liberty, fraternity, All in the quest of reason and science. And the subsequent unfolding of the ‘enlightenment’ produced global atheistic socio-political movements such as Marxism, Communism, Socialism, Nazism and godless Humanism. Which resulted in horrendous suffering and the brutal slaughter of untold millions. And millions of unborn children now being ripped apart in the womb, With late term aborted babies left to die while struggling for breath on on the stainless steel abortion benches, All thanks to ongoing godless leftist Humanist activism.
    So,spare us all the mindless rant that God orientated religions are the source of human suffering and death. As there is no delusion like self-delusion.

  • histrogeek

    As far as rationalistic arguments for the existence of God, Kierkegaard felt that they were inadequate and ultimately doomed. A believer in his system needed to make a “leap of faith” (he coined the term), because we simply cannot make a watertight case for God (or really anything). The leap of faith would be meaningless if there was no risk. Believers who do not make this leap in Kierkegaard’s judgement are credulous fools and sheep. Those who reject God are simply different kind of sheep, cowering beneath the conformity of the natural world and science.

  • bobmead1960

    You see I have Kierkegaard at a humongous disadvantage. His life and understanding was built around 200 years ago. We have exponentially grown in knowledge beyond the measure of what he could have presently taken in. We have cars, planes, super sonic planes, ball point pens, house heating systems. I have also the advantage that greatly handicaps him with internet, computers and a vast amount of information at my finger tips. My lifetime has seen DNA, the Dead Sea Scrolls (some 800 documents proving the Bible over 99% correct), Jericho discovery, medical science, science discoveries of going to the moon – understanding the magnitude of our universe, the space hubble, measurements of the earths inner magnetic core. When all the “cards are placed on the table” he may change his mind due to all the discoveries in the past 50 years. People look at these older theologians and may be missing that God is going to poor out His Spirit in the last days. Information overload I believe.

  • histrogeek

    I’m not sure that Kierkegaard lived in an age when people believed that science and technology held all the answers. Physics was widely believed to have been solved; the quantuum revolution was decades off. Origin of Species was still a few years off, which actually makes rationalistic arguments for God a bit easier for people of Soren’s era. The thing is that Reason imposes its own restraints on individuals as strong or stronger than older religious strictures. Kierkegaard wanted to show that God provides a means to escape from that trap, but only through acceptance that Reason cannot be the final answer. (This is why Kierkegaard influenced later anti-rational, atheist philosophers like Nietzsche and Sartre even as they rejected his conclusion.) If anything, information overload is a good reason to make the “leap of faith.” With so much information and so many opinions most of which an individual cannot test personally, the individual must make some leap of faith about personal belief knowing that it is quite possible that he or she is wrong.

  • bobmead1960

    God does not portray Himself in a way that is falsely identified. God also wants to lay tons of ‘crumbs’ so man can find enough evidence to show He exists. Kind of like dropping a popped kernel of popcorn every twenty feet, but you never catch up to the person who is doing this action. Faith is being “fully persuaded” of something. We have many benefits that I name in my book that helps us identify truth – unknown or mere statements that are not processed through our cognitive processes. I call it the UNKNOWN TRUTH DETECTOR which activates when given information on an unknown topic. God is mostly unknown to all people, and yet, they can discern if they are being told truth if they are not yet blinded. Just like asking a 5-8 year old if there is a God and they will all say yes. This is because they have not been influenced by cognitive training that may dissuade their belief. Good comment Brother Bob

  • Mark

    So, you don’t believe that God’s spirit has been pouring out since the beginning of time? Why would God wait until the last minute to pour out God’s spirit? That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me.

  • bobmead1960

    Very good question. God’s Spirit is the Holy Spirit that prods and resides currently on earth. But the Bible speaks of a “great out pouring of the Holy Spirit in the last day” speaks of God working in His agents “bondservants” to provide this outpouring. It also speaks of prophecy, dreams in both men and women. I believe it will be more revelation that tells more of the story of Jesus Christ and God. Acts 2:17,18

  • Mark

    I have to admit, I don’t get too hung up on individual words and phrases. I like the Bible, I think there are a lot of wonderful stories in it, stories that speak to me of man’s search for – and limited understanding of – the Divine. And I try to lead a life that I believe Jesus would want me to lead, even as I know I fail more often than not. But I don’t put any stock in end times prophecy, and I don’t really concern myself over what this or that scripture “means” anymore. I just have gotten to the point where it doesn’t matter very much. I find God everywhere I’m willing to look, and I believe God’s spirit is with me and everyone else all the time. And of course, that’s just one man’s opinion, and probably no more valid than yours.

  • Guest

    Mark the real challenge

  • bobmead1960

    So the question is “what life does Jesus want you to lead?” You are right that we mere to the rules God sets for us. What does God require from us?
    You are in a precarious situation when you self determine the parameters that God operates under. You have had ‘gods’ throughout your life by parents, teachers, principals, bosses and more. I believe God set them as an example to show us that we must submit to His will.

  • Mark

    I don’t consider that I “self determine” the parameters any more than anyone else. We choose to believe that men wrote their thoughts or that God guided them. There really is no proof that God sanctioned the scriptures that became our bible. It is a matter of what we choose to believe. I believe that God loves me unconditionally and will some day take me back – whatever that means. I’m not worried about being sent to Hell by a petty, mean spirited God.

    How do you even claim to know when you are submitting to God’s will? We can try to do what we believe God would have us do, but to claim we know God’s will is, pardon me, arrogant. And brother, not all teachers out there are teaching the right things. There are parents who are drunks and pedophiles, teachers who come on to their students, and bosses who expect you to work to the detriment of your family. I doubt that God “sets them as an example to show us” how to submit to God’s will.

  • bobmead1960

    There is not “little proof” that the Bible is the Word of God. I prove it in my book beyond a shadow of a doubt. There are 3 needed requirements to make a book authentically from God; 1) revelation – information that God revealed to man he would have otherwise could have known on his own. 2) inspiration – is proving that this message is God originated. 3) preservation – is making sure that message does not become distorted or destroyed.
    When I said a God figure I thought you might have figured out was that they have authority over you and dictates your actions. Certainly man is devoid of righteousness.
    God does not pardon of forgive those who are not reconciled with Him. Man has violated His laws and He is not unconditionally forgiving to those unprepared to meet His judgment for eternity.

  • Wonder

    Says the guy who claims to know what God wants

  • Weismonger

    Correction….god exists when you “worship” the god of your imagination….and in reality, you are worshipping yourself, your very own narcissistic, alter ego of HOW POWERFUL YOU WISH YOU COULD BE…..KING OF THE WORLD!!!!!

  • Weismonger

    There is NOTHING beyond science…if there was, it would become a scientific observation.
    Grow up. Stop making stuff up for which you have zero proof it exists.

  • Weismonger

    Christians have murdered 35 million people…defending god.
    Poor god, he cannot defend himself, and instead appoints some of the most hideous, liars, fraud, con artists, snake oil salesmen, and religious magicians to defend himself.
    Poor god….he also apparently has no lips because poor god can’t speak either. And poor god cannot even write anything so its obvious god poor god has to get other people to write the bible….and speak for god.
    Every time someone says….”And god said ________” I just laugh. And usually its some dofus ignorant, self aggrandizing twit who believes he or she has been appointed to speak for god.
    Poor god, he cannot even spek for himself.

  • Weismonger

    Kierkegaard died in 1855….why would anyone in 2015 take anything he said seriously….this is like explaining physics to a 5 year old.

    a religious god is associated with magic….. not nature. Nature does not need to be worshipped, or prayed to. Worship is worthless.

    Nature requires only to be respected.

  • Weismonger

    The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that over 50% of the bible is incorrect….you did not read the Dead Sea Scrolls you are merely mouthing what you heard from your snake oil saleman preacher.

    The DEAD SEA scrolls do not mention Jesus. In analysis, the Dead Sea Scrolls are hideously violent and filled with revenge….more so than the later versions of the OT.

    And regarding science…it has proven that there is no hell in the middle of the earth, demons do not cause disease, and Hubble has proven that heaven is not “up there” contained in seven floors, with stars being lights shining down from the floor of heaven like windows cut through a wall. Grow up.

    There are dozens and dozens of versions of old testament writings….all of which can be traced right back to the previous pagan religion that Judaism and Christianity copied and then claimed as its own coming from Jesus or their version of god.

    Please, stop making stuff up. Christians are now being rightly labeled as….the Liars for Christ. Your religious beleiefs are nothing more than your own alter ego…creating an all powerful imaginary god who you wish you were….

    On second thought…keep lying, you create many more Atheists than any other source, and we thank you.

  • Weismonger

    Prove there is a spirit….
    Prove there is a god…
    What is sensible is providing proof of what you claim.
    If you hav no proof of any spirit, or god, or reiigious magic, it just makes you sound childish and silly.

  • bobmead1960

    My book soon to come out (about 3 months or less) covers your levied complaints. But consider the last leader that “used” Christianity to kill millions of people – Hitler. Do you really believe he was a Christian? NO WAY! He was a ruthless, sick and demented man who hated the Jews and thought his German race was superior to all mankind. Go down the list and much of the worlds mayhem was brought about by a few leaders who “used” the name of Christianity to promote their selfishness and greed. But What God does not their creation to know them? NONE. Good day!

  • bobmead1960

    Wrong! The Dead Sea Scrolls are over 309 manuscripts dating from 400 BC to 200 AD that prove the Bible over 99% accurate. My book will prove beyond a shadow of doubt that there is only one true faith. All God’s want their creation to know them. Good day.

  • Mark

    No, it just make it faith, and belief. You have your belief, and I have mine, and there is no requirement – nor ability – of either of us to prove our belief to the other.

    I may be childish, and I may be silly, but it isn’t because of my faith and belief. You, on the other hand, are at a minimum, rude. But enjoy your trolling.

  • charlesburchfield

    wow, man you seem to be very angry or something. what’s driving all that anger?

  • histrogeek

    Is there a statute of limitations on ideas? Or is it more of a sell-by date? There are ideas that are of a much more recent vintage, say Sarah Palin or Irving Kristol, which shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    In any event the rest of your post is warmed-over Rousseau who died way before Kierkegaard, who died in 1778. Maybe he and you are right, but the age of a philosophical idea has nothing to with its age and besides ideas, like people and nature, evolve and develop.

  • Guest

    The proof is everywhere, but you’re too blinded by rage to see it, too stupid to understand it and too cowardly to admit it.

  • Weismonger

    So, you cannot prove there is a god, and so you cop out, become a coward and a liar, back track and blame your failure and your lies on someone else’s anger. Its called deflection, and its not working ….you and the Christians, Moslems, orthodox Jews, are all liars…you know it, and we know it.

    A blind person such as yourself, closes their eyes and then imagines there is a god. Your god is only from your imagination, and no where else.

    How is it cowardly to ask questions? How is it cowardly to have doubts, because something like a god does not materialize and show its self, or do anything for anyone anywhere. There is no such thing as religious magic…praying does not “move mountains” as promised by the imaginary Jesus.

    You are the supreme coward hiding under neath your bed because you will not demand proof. Extraordinary claims, require extraordinary proof…Carl Sagan…and you have no proof. You are a delusional liar who does so much hard to the world by lying…and demanding others, including child who you brainwash, to believe in your imaginary gods. If there was a hell, you would be going there for being the religious scum you are.