On 31 May, 2018, Joan Denoo posted a most excellent quote from David Hume:


That quote was well deserving of a response, which is the following:

The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
-- Robert A. Heinlein

The above shows up in a couple other places around A|N, including this group, but I thought it deserved a replay for some of the very points Joan's citation expresses:

  • God has emotions? If so, then god has WEAKNESSES, and if god has weaknesses, then he/she/it is NOT omnipotent!
  • If god can be "swayed by their prayers," then how well thought out was his/her/its master plan for this reality, especially considering the content of some of those prayers?
  • If god needs / demands "the saccharine adoration of His creatures," then he is PETTY, a trait shared by LOTS of other gods that have been invented over the years and not an admirable one.

Such a god is far less god than it is just an enhanced human, vulnerable to the same kinds of crap that we are and about as worthy of worship as a hole in the head.

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Replies to This Discussion

"Why do we struggle to trust him when" there are other options that work more effectively, reliably, efficiently, and have evidence to demonstrate the validity of my claim?

I'd much rather try to do something myself.

Further thought: what kind of god needs the boot-licking and obsequious attentions associated with worship?  That'd be all we'd need: a god with an inferiority complex!

Great Heinlein quote!

Great quotes!

I vaguely remember a discussion (maybe a TheraminTrees video?) about the many emotions an omnipotent, omniscient god would not have. Such a god would never be puzzled (like after Adam and Eve successfully hid themselves in the Genesis story) or surprised or disappointed. It might never be particularly happy or sad, if everything always goes according to its perfect knowledge. And "love" looks very different when every conversation, every interaction with someone, every action of theirs, is utterly unsurprising, always according to the Master Script. Anyway...

There's a Jewish teaching that "God doesn't need prayers; the person praying needs them to know themselves better." Maybe there's something to be said for addressing the hopes and fears and faults and dreams you don't feel like telling another human being, to "Someone". Better perhaps to talk to Ceiling Cat (with a nod to "You'll pray for me? I'll talk to my cat for you"), or to a cat or dog who's actually present, and responds to you, and can give you actual, visible, tangible (if sometimes slobbery, or fuzzy and tickly) affection.

In the religions we're most familiar with, why mandate a litany of repetitive asskissing to "Someone" who shouldn't need it? For instance, in traditional Judaism, in addition to morning, noon, and evening prayers, a brief grace before meals, and a long grace after meals, it has blessings of thanks to God for just about every circumstance: on waking up, on going to sleep, on using the bathroom, on wearing new clothes, on eating new foods, on surviving a dangerous trip or recovering from illness (ok, that can be pretty major), on seeing a friend or relative you haven't seen in a year (metaphorically thanking God "who revives the dead"), even on getting bad news, such as finding out about a loved one's death (blessing "God, the true judge"(!?); mysterious ways and all that).

(Maybe some rituals, within reason, to show our appreciation of our good fortune aren't all bad. But it doesn't have to invoke an unsubstantiated invisible friend. Maybe someone more familiar with Ethical Culture or nontheistic UUs or unchurches like Sunday Assemblies can speak to whether and how they do that. Some Humanistic Jews adapt the tradition into a form that the rational and emotional parts of their brain can agree on, for instance elegantly whittling down the traditional thanks for bread (hence any full meal) into "Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, they who brings forth bread from the earth.")

Back to "God's emotions"... omniscience plus strong preferences and disgusts, as imputed to various gods by various religions, could give people a fair bit of "Leverage" over such a god! A NSFW Oglaf cartoon explores that... (Hit Next Page to get the end of the story.)

(Snippet from the Oglaf cartoon 'Leverage') 'Oh God who so despises anal, show yourself or I shall slide my dick into this man'

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