At the core, man is religious. To think of any man who is not religious in the sense that he does not worship is as absurd as trying to think of a non-thinking man. To be human is to automatically think, for not think is unthinkable. And as thinking is basic to humanity, so is worshiping. Every man is a worshiper. The question is who or what they are worshiping. God? A tree? Science? Reason?
To think that you do not think is to think about everything else but your own thinking. It is to be absurd. The same goes for worship. By thinking you do not worship, you actually deceive yourself, for you would be worshiping your not-worshiping ideology. It should be a wonder at all that thinking exists, and that man takes it for granted that he thinks and reasons. But why should thinking be taken for granted without questioning and yet set out to deny He who made you with the ability to think?
To not worship God is to worship but yourself, or humanity, or nature. But when nature receives our adoration, it is no longer neutral in the sense of being observed, it becomes a god, a devil. So those who do not worship God in Christ, worship the devil in nature.
The skeptic wants us to believe that he doesn’t worship. Because he believes it too. But to believe a thing and the thing being true are two different things you see! The skeptic worships, may be science, reason, nature or something else. But he worships. The atheist differs from a Christian, not on the point of faith or worship, but on the object of faith and worship.
Our hearts manufacture idols at a speed of light. The prophet Jeremiah described it as deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). We may wish that there is no God. We can pretend to ask which God it is worthy of our worship. But the heart’s deception is such that every idol we manufacture falls short. And we know it. We are frustrated in the idol manufacturing business, and we yearn for the answer that satisfies.
Simon Greenleaf was an atheist lecturer at Harvard University in the 19th century. Greenleaf was responsible largely for the development of the law faculty at Harvard, and his well-known work, a Treatise on the Law of Evidence, is considered a classic of American jurisprudence and remained a standard textbook in American law throughout the Nineteenth century. He also prepared the original constitution of the Colony of Liberia.
Upon his investigation into the soundness of the gospels using the law evidence technique, he turned Christian. Concerning worship, this is what he said:
That man is a religious being, is universally conceded, for it has been seen to be universally true. He is everywhere a worshiper. In every age and country, and in every stage, from the highest intellectual culture to the darkest stupidity, he bows with homage to a superior Being. Be it the rude-carved idol of his own fabrication, or the unseen divinity that stirs within him, it is still the object of his adoration. This trait in the character of man is so uniform, that it may safely be assumed, either as one of the original attributes of his nature, or as necessarily resulting from the action of one or more of those attributes.
I think it a waste of time indeed for us to continue asking if we worship, but who do we worship. Because at the heart of life is worship. All other gods are idols and the only One worthy of our worship is the One who rose from the dead. He alone can grant us passage beyond death, having Himself conquered it.