God is first?

I was just viewing an image online from a devoted “Christian” car. He/she had written on the car “First God, then people…”.

I don’t know about other religions, but I have a good understanding of Christianity, since I studied it both in school and church, like any other good Greek would do early in life. And at least for Orthodox Christians (and for most Catholics too), the New Testament is the *main* book of Christianity. Meaning, that while both the Old and the New Testament are accepted, the New Testament is exactly that: “a new deal between God and Man”. And as every new deal and contract, it has new rules. New rules that Jesus put forth for his believers that overwrote the old rules that were put forth by a jealous, revengeful, self-centric God. That’s why Jesus’ cult became so popular in the first place: because the new rules made more sense to people who have been asking for a humanitarian-based religion, in a world ravaged by war.

The new rules are these: love, forgiveness, love your neighbor as you love yourself, etc etc. Christianity aims to make the living world a better place. And this can only be done if you put people first, not God. If you put God first you end up being a mujahid, not a true Christian. If you put God first, you are missing the whole point of Christianity. This is no different than idolizing the never-present school board for giving out the rules on how to behave in the school playground, instead of actually enjoy playing with the other kids, and be nice to them in the process. Putting God first makes no freaking sense.

As I have written in the past, I am not a believer anymore, but I do consider myself an “atheist humanist”. The way I live my life is not different than what I was taught by the Church. If I can help a fellow man, I will. It’s just that I don’t believe in the supernatural, and I don’t do things because of fear of a being called “God”. When I’ll die (and I feel it might be sooner rather than later), I will just die. The end. This blog will be the only thing that’s left of me for those who choose to remember me. This is why I get so personal some times in public.

But one thing is for sure, even in my deathbed, when I will probably start praying despite being an atheist (part of the human nature, I guess), I will still not put God first. If he exists, he should feel free to put my praying requests at the bottom of his queue if I am on the wrong about my priorities.

28 Comments »

Mike Kelly wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 4:47 AM PST:

Eugenia, you really missed the boat on this one. The bible is replete with telling us that nobody comes before God. Putting God first doesn’t make you a mujahid; being a fanatic of some sort makes you a mujahid.

“If you put God first, you are missing the whole point of Christianity.” Really! There probably isn’t one priest, or minister who would agree with you on this one. Pull out your Bible and do a little more research next time. I hope you come to know Christ as your lord and savior. It’s only your eternity at stake. We’ll be praying for you.


dimosd wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 5:55 AM PST:

I say “First beer, then God, then people”


Charels Bradley wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 6:31 AM PST:

Hi Eugenia, I’m afraid that perhaps you don’t have as good an understanding of Christianity as you suppose. Instead of thinking of the New Testament in terms of “new rules” and “new deal”, think “new relationship,” not in the sense of brand new where nothing existed before, but in a closer and more certain way. A relationship made possible through Jesus Christ, who is, after all, God in flesh. If you define God the way the term has been defined by Christians for centuries your statement that the God of the Old Testament is “a jealous, revengeful, self-seeking God” is a contradiction of terms. How do you square that with something as basic as John 3:16-17? We don’t >put< God first. He IS first and it is our privilege to realize it and to be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ. Then His is first always out of gratitude. "Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors" is His economy. Love God then you can love your neighbor. Without God in Christ we never could know what love is, let alone love anyone else.


dimosd wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 6:39 AM PST:

I am Greek and my understanding is pretty much the same as Eugenia’s. Perhaps this is an Orthodox, Catholic vs. Protestant thing and this is probably not the best place for a detailed discussion.


Rob Aronson wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 7:17 AM PST:

It’s not just me then…

I too am a humanistic Atheist. I’ve found that most Christians are not smart enough to read the Bible, let alone understand it. They revere it so much because it’s so mysterious and old to them, and someone special appointed by God must deliver it to them in tiny doses each Sunday.

It’s too bad that they have to decorate their cars with signs and slogans; it just immediately identifies an idiot to me that I wouldn’t have been mentally biased against otherwise.

Ohhh, what a bad person, you say. Let me explain: I was deeply religious for a number of years and almost became a Christian missionary. It was in studying the Bible (to include translations into its various languages), church history, theology, hermeneutics, apologetics, etc., that I came to find it to be a mere human contrivance. Especially when you factor in the study of real history and comparative religion. Anyone who studies the same batch of stuff either cannot think for themselves, or they’re being intentionally dishonest.

There’s no point in arguing with them, they think Atheism comes from directly from the Devil’s bee-hind and love only comes from God.

I can already sense the hapless reader saying, “well where else does it come from? The Bible says…” Yeah, yeah. I know better than you what it says.

This is not a troll post. I just get tired of being nice to religious people. When reason fails, and blinding violence is not an option, all that’s left is ridicule.


Robert wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 8:14 AM PST:

Matthew 22:34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”


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Eugenia wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 8:46 AM PST:

Robert, yay! For a self-centric God.


Dominique wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 8:53 AM PST:

@Mike Kelly: It is inconsiderate to pray for somebody when they didn’t ask you to do so.

@Rob Aronson: Amen!


Robert wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 10:52 AM PST:

Respectfully, I’m not sure how He is a self-centric God. God allowed his only son, Jesus, to die in our place for our sins to redeem us from our separation with Him. It wasn’t just a death like any other, God emptied His wrath against sin onto His Son when He died on the cross. Putting Him first is the least I can do for what He did for all of us.


Mike Kelly wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 11:20 AM PST:

Dominique,

Quite the contrary, it’s very considerate.

Rob, I am not sure what Christians you’re talking to. I would suggest that you’re the one being ignorant and close minded by broadly classifying billions of people as stupid and idiots.

The irony and hypocrisy of calling Christians close minded and ignorant with a close minded statement likes yours is priceless, made my day!


dimosd wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 12:22 PM PST:

Not that it means anything, but I think there was a quote of Einstein that went something like: People that believe in God are naive. People that don’t believe in God are foolish.

(either way you are …ed)


Tom Dison wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 12:26 PM PST:

Shorter translation [basic version]:

10: Love God
20: How do we love God – by loving others (not by ‘sploding’ people in His name!)
30 GOTO 10

Love is an endless loop!


Soulbender wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 1:17 PM PST:

But who’s on third?


Darrell wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 2:55 PM PST:

Eugenia,

Because I don’t believe in the God that most people posit, I once thought myself an atheist, but I was always a bit concerned that there wasn’t something larger than myself that I thought important. Recently, I’ve had an ‘epiphany.’ (Don’t be scared away, just yet.)

Etymologically speaking, ‘God’ is closely associated with ‘good.’ I completely bought into Robert Pirsig’s idea that, although I can’t define ‘good’ (or quality), I recognize it when I see it. So, just between you and me, let’s define ‘God’ as the good that we recognize on our better days.

My epiphany is that most of us have better days than others. On those days, most of us consider good to be things like inflicting harm to others is bad, that empathy to the plight of others is good, and that my life is only as important as the contribution I make to the good of us all.

Now, suppose that were our first and only ‘religious’ belief. It works for ants, and it works for us. Suppose I called that my religion. Would you be religious? I decided that I was, as I define it. Who has a better definition?

Eugenia, on your deathbed, realize that you have benefited many of us, by your contributions to our knowledge and joy.


Daren wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 3:52 PM PST:

Look around you. God created you and your environment. There is nothing that we can do for God. God demands that we put him FIRST for our own sake, not for his.

Remember your mom telling you not to run out into the road? At the time she told you that you probably didn’t understand why she said that. In fact you probably felt that you knew better than her. This is probably similar to how you feel now Eugena. Because, compared to God’s wisdom, we are pretty inadequate. Trust in God and put Him first in your life. It’s for your own good. Not for God’s.

Daren


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Eugenia wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 4:36 PM PST:

Maybe. It’s just that I don’t believe that he exists, so I can’t put first a mythical person.

This conversation is moot. I will never convince you, and you will never convince me, so feel free to give it a rest. I have (as you can see my replies are scarce).


pluijzer wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 5:11 PM PST:

I’m agree with what you are saying, but think your last reply is a little hypocritical as your the one starting the discussion.

Still I also agree with that last reply, think it can be extrapolated to the entire web, so many discussions, agruments, flame-wars, milions of terabytes wasted in endless opinions…and when was the last time anybody changed your view after reading one of those comments?

Getting worked up about the way some-one thinks the world came into being is wasted energy, we’re all wrong anyway.


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Eugenia wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 5:44 PM PST:

>your last reply is a little hypocritical as your the one starting the discussion.

I don’t think so. I started a blog post, not necessarily a discussion. If people want to reply, that’s cool, but I am not interested in getting deeper into a war between religious views and atheism. There can never be a winner. So it’s no hypocrisy, but realism. Why fight something that can’t be won? And this goes for both sides of the fence. But I can still write a blog post, because this is my blog after all.


Stefan wrote on August 14th, 2009 at 7:25 PM PST:

Agreed 100% with Eugenia. As an Orthodox, I can see her opinion in contrast with the proselytism of churches of the West. Think of the Beatitudes, and who will inherit the “kingdom of heaven” and you’ll have the answer. Do good for your fellow man, no need for a bumper sticker. That’s Christianity in my opinion.


Fabricio C Zuardi wrote on August 15th, 2009 at 1:03 AM PST:

Well, the argument for “God first, then people” is that some underlining basic rules still apply, even after Jesus. For example: humans are still sinful and assholes by default, that didn’t changed, Jesus (AFAIK) didn’t changed our nature, he simply paid for our debit, but the path continues to be God/Jesus, not the sinners.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be nice to others, it is just means we should keep him as the guide, in order to be better people.

But then again, that also doesn’t justify a bumper sticker like that in your car… 🙂


dhjfskjfdh wrote on August 15th, 2009 at 11:32 AM PST:

look up on wikipedia what carl sagan’s widow said about him on his deathbed


zima wrote on August 16th, 2009 at 3:12 AM PST:

There’s another thing worth mentioning…why I find putting religious texts/symbols in/on a car (or even consecrating them) disgusting.

The justification in many cases is that this will protect from accidents. Which is of course total bullshit. Actually, I fear it might slightly increase the probability of accidents, when false sense of protection replaces proper training.

In the case that started this thread, after thinking for a moment about the meaning of those words in this particular environment, it’s perhaps not only disgusting, also disturbing.


Mike Kelly wrote on August 16th, 2009 at 6:24 PM PST:

Eugenia, my intent is not to ‘convert’ you, but to make sure you make informed decisions. We all need to get away from our beliefs and start talking about truth. In other words, which worldview best answers the big questions, where’d we (and everything else) come from, what best explains the current state of the world, and where are we likely to end up. And by best answers, I mean through logic, evidence, and fact, not blind faith. Enter into a period of honest discovery without ANY preconceptions; if you say ‘you’ll never convince me’, then you’re not even open to the potential truth, you’ve excluded it as a possibility. That’s being close minded. Just see where the evidence takes you.

May I suggest ‘I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist’ by Norman Geisler. Not that any one book is the be-all end-all but I think if nothing else, you’d find it very intellectually stimulating.


Kurt Schroeder wrote on August 16th, 2009 at 11:25 PM PST:

There are some Christians who believe in God as an old man. For them, it would be important to put Him first. There are other Christians who believe that to follow the teachings of Christ you do not need to believe in magic and guys in white robes, but instead, follow what Jesus taught, which was basically: (1) don’t be greedy (2) love and accept other people.

It sucks to write a blog post that then turns into other people giving you advice you didn’t want. Then again, you allowed comments on it so, Meh.

Just keep believing in Sony Vegas and making suggestions on how to use it. I’ll pray for that.


JrezIN wrote on August 17th, 2009 at 10:29 AM PST:

Until there’s proof about any supernatural begins, no need to put anything first them humanity AND the ecosystem.
peace and reason.


Jim wrote on August 17th, 2009 at 6:30 PM PST:

As someone who played Gospel music for 20yrs and shared the gospel in song and word with millions of people when you include international tv and radio. I have lost my religion.
I still beleive in love and that I am reminded to Love and that God is love, but beyond that, all the hassle, the hatred and the justifications for actions happening today, not the past has caused me to change


Luis wrote on August 18th, 2009 at 8:52 AM PST:

I just completely agree with you.
It’s is nice to read this.


Tony wrote on August 23rd, 2009 at 1:26 PM PST:

Eugenia – I am so disappointed to read about your lack of belief in God. I have followed your posts concerning video editing for a long time and gained a good respect for your knowledge. You have impressed me as being someone who is very intelligent and observant. However – as a techno-geek myself – I cannot understand how anyone who has intelligence could not believe there is a supreme creator. Just from the physics. If you had a clear and scientific understanding of the human body alone – you’d realize there had to be a creator – the body is just too complex and perfect to have just \evolved\. The complexities of the human body is far greater than any software or computer we could ever conceive – yet some would have us believe it just happened. Much like saying Sony-Vegas software just \happened\. Of course not – it took many minds to design and create Sony Vegas. My car didnt \just Happen\ Someone had to conceive it – design it – build it. The same is true for every living thing – there is no possible way – none – that all living creatures just evolved. They say we all evolved from monkeys – then why do we still have monkeys. Study the human anatomy – deeply – learn of all our features and you will, if you are as intelligent as I think – never doubt there was and is a creator. A favorite line i recall from years ago attached to a video game – \Our Creator – evidenced by our creativity\.


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