What is 'idolatry'? I know what the dictionary says, but some traditions include worship of a false god.  Is it possible for something non-existent to also be false? If so, then those who worship god are by definition idolaters. But there's another question this leads to: When someone is worshiping something that doesn't exist, what's really going on?

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Comment by Doc Feral on February 20, 2012 at 7:57pm

Wikipedia says this..
"Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God...

Behaviour considered idolatrous or potentially idolatrous may include the creation of any type of image of the deity, or of other figures of religious significance such as prophets, saints, and clergy, the creation of images of any person or animal at all, and the use of religious symbols, or secular ones

So technically, any Chrstian who wears cross (plain or otherwise) would be performing a type of idolatry. Now, they get around that by saying instead of being the son of God, Jesus was God. So when they're praying to the cross with Jesus on it, they're actually praying to God.. 

 Check the Wiki for more detailed info..  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idolatry

Comment by Gabriela Menicucci on February 20, 2012 at 8:13pm

Idolatry is worshiping a physical object or image. Some people also consider it to be the worship of money, power, beauty, the self, political systems, nature, etc.

Basically if you put something on the top of your moral pyramid, thats not the christian god, you are an idolater and this is why some christians may see Atheists as idolaters. They claim Atheists worship science and the material world.

Comment by Gabriela Menicucci on February 20, 2012 at 8:40pm

Correct, for example gravity, you either accept it or worship it and go and jump from the 9th floor and hope not to die. Big difference. But we know how christians tend to see everything wrote in the bible as a "metaphor" and that golden calf story is used by many to also include Atheists in the picture, where Atheists are clearly not implied by any means, not even if it was a sketch comedy.

Comment by onecae on February 20, 2012 at 8:45pm

Dictionary.com says that an idol is: 2) Bible: 1.an image of a deity other than God: 2. the deity itself.

There are of course, obvious philosophical problems inherent with using dictionaries for anything other than basic general reference, but the phrase “the deity itself” indicates that an idol need not be a physical object.  Other definitions of ‘idolatry’ (especially Christian ones) include the idea that worship of a “false god” is idolatry.  I agree with the definitions in that way, but in light of my previous “debate” I’m wondering how common are these ideas of idolatry.

Maybe the key to the puzzle is the idea of "worship" - that's always a tough one.

Comment by Gabriela Menicucci on February 20, 2012 at 9:16pm

It all depends what exactly is that your oponent thinks Atheists worship. Science? Themselves? Evolution? Money?. Obviously they are coming from the statement that a man needs something or someone to worship, and that is their god, whether the Atheist recognize it as a god or not.

Comment by onecae on February 20, 2012 at 9:45pm

Uh, that is towards the point, but with a little different spin. The word 'worship' seems pretty intense and for some minds implies a fearful, jittery kind of emotion.  I really do not believe that the word 'worship' is a part of atheism. We probably need to invent some new words.

However, for other purposes, I would like to entrench this notion of "that is their god."  I was arguing elsewhere and the word 'god' became kind of dogmatic. I think the word has many varied meanings (besides the ones in a dictionary), however, according to the  most commonly used notion, I, like everyone I've ever met, am an atheist.

Comment by Ed on February 20, 2012 at 10:57pm

Speaking of idolatry the next time your in Rome be sure to visit St Peter's Cathedral. The gemstone of all Catholics. It is a magnificent structure- a bit overdone and gaudy IMO. Funny thing about it- on the back wall inside is a HUGE obelisk of the Egyptian sun god Ra! I'm talking 10 to 15 feet in diameter IIRC. Ignorance is bliss in Rome it seems.


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