Post by Alex W. Post by Robert Carnegie Post by ernobe Post by Robert Carnegie
Being a god requires more than existing.
The word "god" actually means being worshipped.
If a man isn't married then he is not a husband,
and if a supernatural being isn't worshipped
then she isn't a god.
That way, things make sense. Imagining a
mysterious creator "god" that nobody knows
about, but whose existence prevents you from
being an atheist, does not make sense.
The reasonable position to take is that
the unknown being, by being unknown,
isn't a god.
The problem with that is that human language is not expressive enough to
distinguish between someone who acts contrary to the wishes God, as
opposed to someone who simply disobeys somebody else.
Hence the common definition of a "strong atheist" as being one who denies
God, has no real corresponding word in any language. Rather the strong
atheist is one who lacks belief in any and all gods, the weak version
being one who lacks belief in one or two depending on the circumstances.
Rather than say that they are not worshippers of God, it would be more
correct to say that they worship something else (this is what
distinguishes them from an agnostic, for whom the object of worship
remains in any case beyond the reach and ken of the worshipper).
But "worship" means attempting to please the god.
Either in ways that they told you to do, or with
things you thought of yourself, to please them.
So, the god has to be a "person" that can be pleased. Otherwise, there isn't "worship"
Generally true, but I would offer up some exceptions for your consideration.
Money: there are those who effectively worship money, in all the ways
that matter. Their behaviour and thoughts are dictated by the demands
of their worship. They twist their lives and sacrifice whatever is
necessary to its attainment in a pursuit that does not and cannot ever
end. Their entire lives are organised around the rules by which money
operates. So to all effects, they worship money.
Disembodied principles: there are those who dedicate their lives to
ideals and principles, who structure their lives according to the
demands and strictures of those ideals. They may give up their homes
and risk their health and very life in order to travel to various
hellholes and help others. They believe so passionately in their chosen
causes that they may forsake wealth and family in order to fight for
ideals -- abolition of the death penalty, slavery, protection of the
planet, what have you. All aspects of their lives are subjugated to
serving this cause. Does this not fit the definition of worship?
I'll say no and no.
Money is just bits of metal or paper. Loosely,
you give the money to other people in return for
them providing material assets and services to
you. And you also provide material assets and
services to people in return for them giving
money to you. Sometimes you give money to someone
just because you want them to be able to buy things.
This isn't a complete explanation, but it's a
In more abstract terms, there is Having Enough Money
and there is Not Having Enough Money. Enough Money
allows you to buy a certain number of things without
selling things or selling your labour for some more
money. How much money is Enough depends on many
factors, that you may not actually understand, and, -
yes, if you forget the reason that you're doing it,
the concern for Having Enough Money can get in the
way of the Important Things. Although on the other
hand, there is a legitimate and "Christian" argument
that it /is/ the Important Thing. (It is contrary
to what Christ supposedly actually said on the
subject, but some Christians expect that they could
persuade him to change his mind about it.)
As for dedication to a Cause (you don't mention
the one that all atheists support, Communism),
no it isn't the same thing as worship - unless
there is a god involved (in your mind) in the
first place. The cause of the common good
is not the same thing as a god. For instance,
it was for the betterment of their fellow men
as well as themselves that the American founders
instituted slavery in the first place; rather than
have citizens suffer the labour of farming the
land, exterminating the indigenous population, etc.,
there would be the slaves to do it.
In a more modern case, the effort to destroy
the polio virus can be an act of worship to God,
an altruistic good deed towards our species as
a whole, a CIA plot to sterilise all Muslims -
or all of those things at the same time.
My personal view is that the polio virus is
an enemy or threat to all humankind, and I hate
it; also, anybody who takes its side; and also
the CIA, and not only for getting in the way here.