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Meditation 663
Duties to God

An agnostic classic essay

by: Robert G. Ingersoll

From Ingersoll's Some Reasons Why

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RELIGION is supposed to consist in a discharge of the duties we owe to God. In other words,we are taught that God is exceedingly anxious that we should believe a certain thing. For my part, I do not believe that there is any infinite being to whom we owe anything. The reason I say this is, we can not owe any duty to any being who requires nothing - to any being that we cannot possibly help, to any being whose happiness we cannot increase.

If God is infinite, we cannot make him happier than he is. If God is infinite, we can neither give, nor can he receive, anything. Anything that we do or fail to do, cannot, in the slightest degree, affect an infinite God ; consequently, no relations can exist between the finite and the Infinite, if by relations is meant mutual duties and obligations.

Some tell us that it is the desire of God that we should worship him. What for? Why does he desire worship ? Others tell us that we should sacrifice something to him. What for ? Is he in want ? Can we assist him ? Is he unhappy ? Is he in trouble ? Does he need human sympathy ? We cannot assist the Infinite, but we can assist our fellow-men. We can feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and enlighten the ignorant, and we can help, in some degree at least, toward covering this world with the mantle of joy.

I do not believe there is any being in this universe who gives rain for praise, who gives sunshine for prayer, or who blesses a man simply because he kneels.

The Infinite cannot receive praise or worship,
The Infinite can neither hear nor answer prayer.
An Infinite personality is an infinite impossibility.