Thursday, January 30, 2014

Is Worship The Same As Belief?

Up until half an hour ago, I had my mind made up on what I wanted to talk about today, but I recently viewed a Youtube video that was just uploaded by one of my favorite Youtubers, Hemant Mehta, a prominent figure in the atheist community as well as an activist and creator of The Friendly Atheist, an online blog that regularly discusses matters of religion, while tackling the more rampant misconceptions about the atheist community and atheism in general. His most recent video, titled "Atheists, would you worship God if he revealed himself to you?", uploaded to his Youtube Channel, The Atheist Voice, has only been out for a few hours and is already eliciting heated responses, from both theists and atheists alike. The most common response that I am seeing from atheists is "If God revealed himself, I would believe he existed, but I would not worship him", prompting me to ask: Is believing in a god and worshiping a god in the same vein?

For me, this answer can be yes or no, or yes and no. On one hand, how could worship and belief not be along the same line? After all, would you worship something you didn't believe in? Of course not... that would be completely illogical. On the other hand, while I can believe in the existence of a supernatural being if it were proven, that does not automatically warrant my devout worship of it. And the way Hemant Mehta glosses over belief and immediately jumps to worshiping is what has many of his atheist subscribers, including myself, a little puzzled about this video.

As someone who has read the bible, the god contained within its pages is one that I was very afraid of when I did believe in a god, and one that I came to loathe when I no longer did. People will ask why I would loathe a god I don't believe is real. It's for the same reason I hated Scar in The Lion King: it's not who he is I hate, but what he represents. The Christian god is a monster. It is one of blatant immorality, one that clearly plays favorites, and one that places an unreasonable criteria on his own creations that not even he himself can live up to, and violates his own rules on a whim. After all, how does one make a commandment saying "Thou Shall Not Kill" in the book of Exodus, and then command his loyal subject (Moses) to take his men into a village and murder everyone, with the exception of the virgins (Numbers 31)? The fact of the matter is, this god has far too many transgressions to ignore and far too many atrocities attributed to his name, especially in the Old Testament, and nary a valid justification for his murderous nature.

 I am not only inclined to agree with the viewers who stated their refusal to worship this god, I am compelled to do so, considering that this was my exact sentiment while watching the video. If the Christian god revealed himself to me, of course I would believe in his existence. Only a dishonest person would deny reality. But I think that Mehta dropped the ball on this video in a big way, not so much with what he said but what he didn't say. This is the kind of question that cannot be asked without qualifying it because if you omit "believing in God" and only leave the choice of "worshiping God", the answer will most likely be "no", giving the impression that atheists are just as stubborn as believers (not saying believers are stubborn... but a lot you are).

In his defense, I want to say that I believe that he was giving us the benefit of the doubt by not asking if we would believe that this god existed because if the god revealed himself with irrefutable evidence, you'd have no choice but to believe it. Granted, there would be those who would deny it, if for no other reason than why most believers cling to their faith: their subjective reality is more comfortable than an objective one. Then again, maybe Mehta did not phrase anything wrong and simply conveyed things from his own point of view. It is safe to say, though, that the message in this video is obviously not one that is unanimously shared in the atheist community. So, I break it down like this: If God revealed himself to me, would I believe he existed? Yes. Would I then turn around and worship God? Absolutely not. The god of the bible is a being that seems devoid of any endearing qualities -- unless you're of one of those denominations that believes God and Jesus are the same being, then I guess he's multitudes better in human form  --  and only sees human life as expendable pawns that are here to kiss his ass and thank him for being only a slight prick to mankind, instead of the raging dick he is in the bible.

Ultimately, Hemant Mehta's video, like his others, was a very thoughtful and poignant message about how we are to look at matters not only with logic and reason, but with intellectual honesty as well.  The overall message of worship, however, is not one that I agree with. This was not me going after Mr. Mehta because I am an avid fan of his videos and his blog, and it is vocal atheists such as himself that motivated me to recently start this blog. But that is the beauty of the atheist community. We don't all have to agree with one another or share the same personal beliefs; we just share the common lack of belief in gods.

You can watch his video here:

Edit: Correction, this was not a question that was posed by Hemant Mehta himself, but rather a question he was asked by someone else. 

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