Every once in a while a Christian comes along that I become fascinated with to the point of near obsession. Jefferson Bethke is such a Christian. He has become a YouTube celebrity for his “spoken word” Jesus poems and I have written articles about both of them (HERE and HERE). Now he has a new video out about how everyone worships something.
His view is that if we aren’t worshipping God, then we are worshipping the material world and/or ourselves. My problem with his reasoning is that he doesn’t seem to understand what the term “worship” actually means. Worship is a certain type of praise which centers on devotion. But it also is used in a hierarchical manner in which that being worshipped is superior to those doing the worshipping.
While I acknowledge that the material world (i.e. reality) exists, I certainly don’t praise the world to the point of devotion to the world. I am curious about the world around me and I do what to learn about it, but I don’t think the world is some sort of superior being or something. In fact, there are lots of things in the world that aren’t praise worthy (like mosquitoes and Ebola).
I am also very much aware that I am my brain and so to paraphrase Wittgenstein, the limits of my brain are the limits of my world. Anyone observing my eating habits and lack of exercise will quickly realize that I certainly don’t treat my body as a temple either. So I certainly don’t worship myself.
No, this is Bethke’s attempt to use the old, “It takes more faith to be an atheist” routine but with worship instead of faith. He is getting criticized for blindly worshipping an imaginary deity and so like a child, he is crying that I not only worship too, but that I worship more than he does.
The thing I always like about this type of argument though is that he is at least acknowledging in a subtle manner that worship is a negative and that is a start. No one and no thing should be beyond criticism. We should not praise anything to the level of blind devotion that Christians have toward their imaginary deity. Question everything and doubt!