Praise means to offer words that express approval or admiration for someone. Worship means to treat somebody or something as divine and show respect by engaging in acts of prayer and devotion. When the words praise and worship are used together, religion comes to mind. If you're one of the billions of religious people on the planet you probably praise and worship the God of your religion.
Let's put our religious practice of praise and worship into perspective. Our little planet orbits one of 100 billion stars in one galaxy, which is only one of 100 billion galaxies. The universe is at least 13.7 billion years old and we know nothing about what exists beyond our approximately 42 billion light years viewing horizon. The universe is expanding faster than the speed of light at the farthest edges so we will never know what's out there. We have no idea how big the universe is. And at the small end, where human math and logic break down, we find a quantum foam of probability. At this level ordinary human measurements make no sense.
And I'm to believe an entity who could create this magnificent and mysterious universe from nothing needs praise and worship from frail creatures who can't live out of the thin film of life on this insignificant rocky planet?
This sounds very suspicious to me.
In fact, it sounds very much like the entity in question has human characteristics. Or better yet, those who prosper from promoting praise and worship have convinced these frail, earth-bound creatures that this omnipotent and omniscient entity has human characteristics.
To be clear, I'm not commenting on the existence of such an entity. I'm commenting on the intuitively obvious absurdity of it needing praise and worship from feeble earthlings.
I'm also not commenting on prayer. I think prayer is valuable to those who pray. And I'm not criticizing religion per se. It does a great deal more good than the evil rap it gets from some.
My problem is with certain human ideas contained in organized religions; in this case, the one that promotes praise and worship as though the most powerful being in the universe, their God, needs it and without it, "He" roams around heaven feeling irritable.
If we trace the practice of praise and worship back far enough we would find self-selected holy men offering sacrifices to appease an angry god, interpreted to be in need of it by these same holy men. And we would find a society of these holy men who make a market in convincing ordinary folks that this god needs lots of praise and worship -- designed, ritualized and led by them. And that this same god wants believers to tithe in support of the organizations designed by these holy men or "He" will fell more disgruntled.
Let's do a little word experiment here. If I believe my praise of someone is so powerful that he or she would suffer without it, I have a pretty high regard for myself and a lower regard for him. Using the same logic, doesn't it sound a bit arrogant to believe that God can't get along without tons of praise and worship from simple earthlings?
Yet, what are a good portion of religious services about? Doing exactly that.
Here's my proposal. If this God exists, "He" doesn't need a thing from us. We need a whole lot more from us. So if we simply dropped the praise and worship part and concentrated on helping each other, (a message spread by a human some believe to be God's only begotten son) I bet we could make a much better world.
And somehow, I think that this God, if He, She, It, does exist would be very happy about how creatures on this little planet are behaving toward each other and the web of life, of which they are a strand.
Robert De Filippis