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Billl Maher and Tim Tebow are Right

One thing many of the so-called "New Atheists" are right about, and something they share with Tim Tebow, is that religion, by its very nature, cannot be left merely a matter of private and personal opinions.  It very much belongs in the arena of public discourse. Your beliefs (even the belief that religious faith is a misguided set of pathetic superstitions) form the framework through which you understand your world and your place in it. It is as irrational as it is hypocritical to insist it is a private matter. Few things you will ever think about or have conversations about have the potential for greater impact on every aspect of life. This is hardly something that should be politely avoided or relegated to the "it-does-not-matter-much" closet of private opinion.

It is a strange era in the evolution of cultural expectations of civility when an open and frank discussion on the merits of masturbation will likely be seen by many adults as less awkward or inappropriate than a discussion about the basis and reasons for someone's religious faith. Actual assertions about religious conclusions made in public settings have managed to achieve that status once reserved for profanity, sex, or bodily waste - a kind of awkward stare-downward uncomfortableness that suggests the speaker has broached a boundary into what ought not have been brought up in mixed company.

Many among the popular cultural wave of new atheists have no hesitation to insist public declarations against a religious faith (or all religious faiths) are appropriate, since religion has been the source of so much violence and oppression (largely oblivious to the absurdity of the claim in light of the magnitude of carnage wrought in the name of decidedly secular ideologies, nationalism, and the ambitions of warlords in the last two centuries, alone). They are entirely correct, however, to insist that a person's understanding of ultimate reality and meaning (or, in the case of pure materialism, lack of meaning) are so fundamental to a person's values and behaviors that it is ludicrous, if not impossible, to relegate the subject to politely held personal preferences.

Bill Maher is absolutely correct when he reflects the assumption that religion is something too important and central to be pushed out of public discourse. Ironically, he shares that conviction with the likes of Tim Tebow. However contradictory their conclusions, they stand as reminders that the questions regarding God and religion cannot be removed from education, discussion, and discourse without creating a pathological culture -- that is, a culture in which education, critical thinking, or rational discourse are left only to address subjects of limited genuine importance to how that same culture actually arrives at its expected behaviors, values, laws, and reasons to exist.

Labore est Adorate

"Work is worship."

It's the often heard (although usually indirectly and generally not in Latin) clarion call of Protestant Evangelicals.  Doing good hard work is simply another way to worship.  Living a good life is worship.  Heck, let's just go ahead and say it, everything is worship.

With all due respect, and in all kindness, and fully mindful of the noble intentions resting behind such idiotic thinking: Hogwash!

Jesus never says that "good deeds" glorify God. In fact, He draws a clear (and, to me, reasonable, distinction). When we do our good deeds before others, one result will be that they will "glorify God." He does not say the aim is that they will also join us in doing good deeds in front of others, who would then also join those doing good deeds in front of others, and so on. The good deeds can lead to, but are not the same as, glorifying God. My atheist relatives also do "good deeds." Muslims do good deeds. Many live admirable and ethical lives. Living ethically, even supremely ethically, is not, in and of itself, worship.

If everything is made worship, however noble to intention, the result is that worship diminishes, fades, and is eventually swallowed in our growing sea of secularity. The person who sleeps in, catches a few minutes of Joel Osteen, and then plays golf without cheating is able to happily tell himself he is spending the Lord's Day in Christian worship. If there is not a categorical and important difference between Texas Roadhouse and Eucharist, we have not just lost the battle, we have refused to admit there was ever a war in the first place.