Archive for the ‘yahweh’ tag
This post stems from a conversation over at Bunch about biblical contradictions, particularly related to the creation story and man’s fall from grace in Genesis.
For simplicity’s sake, I am mostly going to be speaking here of the Judeo-Christian conception of God, known as Yahweh in the Old Testament and God the Father in the New Testament, but a good portion of this will apply to the God of Islam or any other deity that man has created with certain transcendent, otherworldy characteristics, such as omniscience.
The following is the first definition of “god” from the Merriam Webster:
capitalized: the supreme or ultimate reality: as
the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe.
I would wager that because of our general acceptance of religion in society, “goodness” continues to be part of our working definition of what we mean when we say God. But does this necessarily have to be the case? The ancient Greeks completely understood that although humans might label a being as a god does not mean that this being is actually good just because he commands powers that might appear mystical to us. Indeed, the Greek gods were in some cases capricious, childish and downright vile in some of their dealings with humans and each other. Take the rape of Europa, for instance (see illustration).
Yahweh, likewise, is certainly capricious, jealous — by his own admission — and overbearing, and thus, not much different than his Greek counterparts in being wholly a human creation.
In any case, let’s briefly take the Bible’s word for it and assume for argument’s sake that the Judeo-Christian god is basically good. The Bible directly tells us in many places that God is good, not the least of which are Psalm 100:5, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” and Psalm 107:1, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His loving kindness is everlasting” and Matthew 19:17, “And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? (there is) none good but one, (that is), God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”
But it seems these passages belie God’s actual actions if we look at the Jewish and Christian narratives in totality, which in turn, make the strong case, once again, that the Bible is wrought with inconsistencies. First, let’s take the Jewish tradition from the Old Testament. Since there doesn’t seem to be a coherent consensus in Judaism about the afterlife, and particularly, heaven and hell, we can just look at the behavior of Yahweh toward his “chosen” people. Although the argument that God is good may be up for debate, as I argue here, the notion that he is omniscient and all-powerful are not, otherwise, we must change what we mean when we utter this three-letter construction.
If God is omniscient, he would have known there in the black chaos before speaking anything into existence that man would be seduced by the serpent and ultimately fall from grace. He would also know, in his omniscience, the precise time and place that Satan would tempt Eve to eat the fruit. He knew there in the black chaos that man would be exiled from the Garden as a result of the fall (and his seeming lack of concern that Satan infiltrated Eden) and would be relegated to a life of toil and birth pains. He knew there in the black chaos that man would soon after the fall become wicked in his sight. He knew he would have to flood the entire earth, kill untold numbers and preserve only one pious man and his family. He knew there in the black chaos that his “chosen” people, Israel, would betray him time and time again by falling into idol worship. He knew his beloved Israel would become slaves in Egypt. He knew of the wandering, the despair and the bloodlust on display against rival tribes in his name. He knew there in the black chaos that someone claiming proprietary knowledge would advocate the burning of random women believed to be witches and of stoning gay people. He knew of the impending Inquisitions; he knew there in the black chaos that Hitler, wanting to purge the world of his own “chosen” people, would maim, starve and slaughter 6 million Jews.
Moving beyond the Old Testament into Christianity, God knew that he would one day send his son for the atonement of man. He knew of the intense suffering that Jesus would endure. He knew of the intense suffering and persecution that early Christians would endure. He knew that one day, he would have to watch as millions, exercising their “god-given” reasoning capabilities, would not be able to believe in the historicity of Jesus or accept his gift of salvation and thus be cast down to perdition to burn forever and ever.
Regardless of whether any of this is true in reality and if we take these stories at face value, God saw the misery, the suffering, the despair, the waste of life and loss that would ensue once he spoke creation into being. He saw it all in the beginning. His mind’s eye envisioned this vale of woe in the chaos, and with a poker player’s blank stare, he went about the business of creation anyway. This alone, notwithstanding any arguments we might make about unnecessary suffering and an all-loving deity, renders God evil at best and sadistic at worst.
Obviously, the historical evidence for Jesus passing down parables and performing the many miracles attributed to him is slim to nil, so much less is the possibility that Jesus suffered a physical death and then on the third day ascended to the heavens to take his place (again) at the right hand of the father, thus becoming one of numerous figures in the Bible to break the laws of nature. This is, nonetheless, what believers claim, and they rationalize that Jesus’ ascension is theoretically possible, as Bowen points out, because God, after all, is all-powerful and can break the laws of physics if he chooses since he, believers so confidently argue, stands outside of time and space.
Bowen essentially argues that if we make two generous concessions, that an all-loving and omnipotent God exists and that Jesus was an unethical figure who did not eschew slavery, taught prayer healing, advocated sexism, supported faith-based decision making over reason and logic, among other questionable moral stances, that God, being perfectly good, would be opposed to Jesus’ resurrection and thus, Jesus did not ascend on the third day.
This is his main argument, which was preceded by some other points about Jesus as an unethical character:
Jesus was a false prophet because he taught his followers to pray to and worship a false god (i.e. Jehovah).
This one reason, it seems to me, is sufficient to show that the existence of God would be a strong reason for believing that Jesus did NOT rise from the dead.
And he concludes:
… an omniscient and perfectly good being would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus, because the resurrection of Jesus would provide a divine stamp of approval upon: the worship of a false god, mass murder, slavery, sexism, cruelty, injustice, irrationality, superstition, sociocenrism (sic), pacifism (i.e. tolerance of oppression) and other evils.
Christian believers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If there is no God, then the resurrection of Jesus would be unlikely because true resurrections are contrary to the laws of nature and thus require a supernatural intervention by God or a god-like being. If there is a God, then the resurrection of Jesus would be unlikely because God, an omniscient and perfectly good person, would be opposed to the resurrection of Jesus. Either way, the case for the resurrection fails.
This a peculiar argument, and one that is actually a novel one for me. Let me see if I can explain it more thoroughly and then supply some additional thoughts. First, Bowen seems to have made a correlation, implicitly or otherwise, between the hypothetical God to which he refers throughout the post and Jehovah, the Old Testament god and the father of Jesus. Yet, he uses Jehovah, or Yahweh, as an example of why his hypothetical God would not support Jesus’ resurrection. Because Jesus obviously teaches that believers should pray to Yahweh, this hypothetical God would conclude that Jesus was practicing idol worship.
But here’s the hang of it, and why this argument as a consequence seems to double back on itself. If this hypothetical God is not Yahweh but some other god, let’s call him Wutu the Almighty, it seems obvious that Wutu wouldn’t care two farthings about another supposed god named Jesus, just like Yahweh so readily dismissed Baal in the Old Testament. Gods tend to not like competition, after all. So, sure, Wutu would be opposed to the resurrected Christ on the grounds of worshiping a false god, Jehovah. But the entire notion of a resurrected Jesus relies on maintaining a link between Jesus and Jehovah, for without Jehovah’s story, we would have no resurrection story. This is why I said that Bowen must be referring to Jehovah when he mentions God. Otherwise, where is the point of reference?
Now, if Bowen actually is referring to the God of the Old Testament, the argument is dead on arrival since Jehovah would obviously not condemn Jesus as a false prophet for telling people to pray to himself, Jehovah. Having said all that, this does not take address the claims — for another day — that Jesus was a bad person or that God must necessarily fit into our idea of “good,” since Yahweh had no problem with slavery, stoning gay people and burning random women who might have been witches. For all the reasons not to believe in the resurrection — and there are many — this particular argument seems to suffer severely.
Some folks within the nonbelieving community have suggested that the History Channel’s series, “The Bible,” may produce an adverse effect than what its creators may have anticipated, as “casual” believers or fence-sitters see depictions of the mass murders and other atrocities that Yahweh in the Old Testament either caused directly or ordered through his followers. It just occurred to me that today we call the deaths of thousands of people, like on Sept. 11, 2001, a tragedy. Yet, God orders the mass slaughter of nonbelievers in the OT, and no one raises an eyebrow. Some of the people murdered on Sept. 11 were believers; some were not. Their deaths were, by all accounts that I have heard the last 10 years, tragic. Yet, a deity can order the slaughter of thousands of nonbelievers and somehow that’s OK. Today, we would call that terrorism. I’m amazed at religion’s power to desensitize so-called “morally upright believers” to violence, rape, incest and genocide.
But in any case, a question over at Bunch has been raised whether “The Bible” will turn off believers because of the many deaths the series depicts that are directly attributable to Yahweh. Matt O. wrote:
I suspect, and I might be wrong, that History’s The Bible mini-series might be one of the best things for atheism to happen in a long time. As the Bible is actively read by some 16% of Christians this is giving millions an opportunity to see parts of the cannon that are morally objectionable attributed to their god.
And he then listed numerous scenes in “The Bible” in which Yahweh wipes out mass amounts of people from Earth in the OT, to which I replied:
It may turn off some “casual” believers, but it won’t make much difference to the “church every Sunday” crowd. They know full well what Yahweh did and commanded that his followers do in the OT, and they believe anyway because any amount of wickedness or depravity can be justified in their eyes since we supposedly live in a fallen world and God’s law is supreme no matter how morally bankrupt it appears to us.
The killing of innocent children: Psalm 137:9. This sign is slightly misleading. The passage does say “your,” but this Psalm addresses Babylon. In any case, that doesn’t exactly make it any better. Any action, it seems, is permissible so long as the nation of Israel does the killing under Yahweh‘s direction. Is that about right? Just like the commandment against murder in the Ten Commandments only applies among fellow Israelites. Jews in the Bible, of course, can plunder, murder, rape and maim with impunity.
In a video series YouTube user Mike Winger calls, “Things Atheists Should Never Say,” he claims that nonbelievers should never ask this question to believers: “Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?”
I believe the typical phraseology goes like this: “Can God create a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift it,” with the common perception being that if God is all-powerful, he could, in theory, create an object bigger than his omnipotence will allow him to lift, thus hurling his supposed nature into logical entropy. This is called the omnipotence paradox.
Now, I’m not going to write a long essay defending this question. I and fellow nonbelievers don’t need this question, as it were, to tear holes through Christianity and religion in general, but I will add a few words in reference to some comments made over in Mike’s comments section on YouTube.
First, here was my initial response to his video:
What are the list of things an all-powerful god can’t do? It must be a short list. If an all-powerful god has a constraint in character, he is not his own agent, but rather, is answerable to some other entity. If this definition of omnipotence is wrong, then we need another definition of what you mean by “god,” because the traditional Judeo-Christian view holds that he is not only all-powerful but he is the source of all morality, this he has no constraints of character except of his choosing.
And his response:
Again, the false thinking is when we assume that the lack of the ability to do something is because of a lack of power. God cannot lie, this is because of His character not because of some lack of power. This leads to all sorts of strange thinking, I mean, how much more power does God need till He can lie? It starts to sound more and more ridiculous then more you explore it. All powerful doesn’t mean “can do anything” but it does mean “is not limited by any lack of power.”
If I can borrow a line from Nwolfe35 from the Defending the Truth forum, the apologist’s explanation about God’s supposed power usually becomes whatever it needs to be to defend the faith. Thus, Mike is saying here that it is part of God’s nature that he can’t lie, not that he has the inability to lie because of “some lack of power.” OK, but on whose authority does Mike know that God can’t lie? Because the Bible says so? And outside of the passage in Hebrew about God’s supposed natural inability to lie, how does he know? Before going on, I’ll argue again: who says God can’t tell a lie? In any case, he would need to expend very little actual energy to do so.
All we need to do is take a look at scripture to understand that not only God can lie, he does it quite openly. He tells Adam that if he eats of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, he will die (More to the point, the writer of Genesis should have said “when Adam eats” of the fruit because God already knew it was going to happen). Christians like to say this is a figurative statement, but the verse simply doesn’t support it, and any attempt to read back into the story doctrine that would be developed much later in the church’s history is vacuous. The Hebrew word, “מוּת,” is used in this instance, and none of the definitions support some kind of delayed punishment that would befall sinners that was later developed in the New Testament, but the meaning is an immediate and/or premature death. Of course, we know that’s not what happened in the tale: Adam lived to be 930 years old — unless we are to believe that Adam’s punishment was being subjected to centuries of shear boredom. I don’t see how someone could argue that when the writer of Genesis jotted down “מוּת,” that he had in mind a spiritual death or delayed punishment, and certainly not that Adam would live to the ripe old age of 930. Yes, mankind was “cursed” because of the sin, but the quote about Adam eating the fruit did not say that he would be cursed, but that he would die (מוּת), as if the tree contained a poisonous fruit, which is actually the impression I got as I read this as a child. My literal childlike mind knew then that, in context, God was talking about an immediate death based on a severe disobedient action. Further, doesn’t God talk to himself (or to the other members of the godhead … or whatever) when he claims that if mankind eats of the fruit, they will become like “us,” knowing good and evil? Here is more support for a physical death interpretation: by becoming like God, mankind would have to leave his carnal existence for a spiritual one.
Next up in the pack of lies is the covenant. Yahweh tells Abram that he would inherent all the land of Canaan. This did not happen, either in the Bible or historically.
Acts 7:5: And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
Acts 7:17-18: But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.
Hebrews 11:13: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Hebrews 11:38-40: … they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
But back to the original question. The argument against whether God can create something too heavy that he can’t lift is not an argument against God, necessarily, but an argument against the idea of omnipotence. Believers’ attempts to redefine omnipotence, which means
1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.
2. having very great or unlimited authority or power.
doesn’t erase the problem of omnipotence, no more than it erases the problem of omniscience, for “infinite in power” must include the ability to make a very large rock indeed, and yes, even one that crushes the logic of omnipotence under its weight. Suggestions that God can’t do something outside of his character presupposes that God gets his character from an outside source or force. If God wants to lie, he is certainly at liberty to do so because even he supercedes whatever may have been written about him in the Bible. If he wanted to change the laws of physics so that humans could walk through walls if he so desired, he could. Indeed, he does do this in some sense if we are to believe that all humans are immortal and will exist as massless souls in the afterlife.
The logic behind this question, then, is not airtight only if Christians are allowed to change the definition of omnipotent to suggest that God can’t perform an action that is against his character or nature. First, we can’t possibly know what that character is, and any believer who claims to know an all-powerful creator of the universe is either deluded or lying. Second, an all-powerful creator of the universe would seem to be unconstrained by space, time and logic itself since he knows every detail about the past, present and future. If he is beholden to the ideas that 1+1=2 or that triangles have three sides, he is not in control of everything. He could just as easily, at his whim, decree that he was changing the rules so that four-sided objects would not be called circles, dogs would now be called pigs, horses would grow wings and birds would no longer fly. If he can make our world and perfectly tune Earth to have the right conditions for life, he can just as easily send it hurling toward the sun or remove our ozone layer and let the sun scorch us to death.
How is it that Christians can say that God is constrained by the nature of his character, and thus, can’t do absolutely anything, yet still believe that he knows the future? How is omniscience more acceptable logically than God having the ability to change the laws of physics or the rules of math? As earlier stated, believers’ attempts to make God fit within the bounds of some defined character traits gets God off the hook, as it were, from being fully omnipotent and fully illogical, thus he is given whatever power necessary to defend the belief. In this case, God appears to have been demoted by several steps. I must have been mistaken; I thought this god was truly “awesome,” as the song goes. It seems that believers who do not fully believe in omnipotence and all its implications have a rather dim view of their god, so much so that the explanations given to show that God somehow does not have unlimited power or authority or is somehow constrained seems to pose more severe problems for believers than the recitation of this question in question, silly or not.
Most of the following video you can skip if you like because the interviewer, Howard Conder, quizzes Richard Dawkins on some rather absurd questions about evolution, irreducible complexity, etc., that he would already known the answer to if he had bothered to read any of Dawkin’s books.
Conder seems to not be able to comprehend the point that Dawkins makes, that is, if Yahweh is all powerful and essentially sets the rules on how mankind will be redeemed after the fall of Adam and Eve, why does God require a “perfect” sacrifice, or even a sacrifice at all.
Here is Dawkins:
The idea that God could only forgive our sins by having his son tortured to death as a scapegoat, is surely from an objective point of view, a deeply unpleasant idea. If God wanted to forgive us our sins, why didn’t he just forgive them? Why did he have to have his son tortured?
That’s a very good question.
Well, what’s your answer?
Conder then recounts the Genesis narrative in which Adam “lost that perfection for us all” when he sinned in the Garden. He then explains why Christ was necessary:
Another perfect being of the same degree of perfection could only be the proper ransom for our redemption.
Conder in response:
Being the god that he is, allowing for us to have freewill, it wasn’t just scrumping an apple. There was more to it than that. Adam was plainly disobedient, and I think he even admits it himself in the fact that he hid from God that particular evening because there was a fellowship between man and God every day.
So Adam was disobedient and that sin reverberated down the ages, is inherited by all humans. What kind of a doctrine is that? Inherited by all humans and had to be redeemed by the son of God being tortured to death. What kind of morality are you propagating there.
That’s a very good question (Are you noticing a theme? Dawkins raises very good questions to which there are no answers).
Conder then reiterated the point that Christ’s life had to be perfect. In apparent frustration with this exchange, Dawkins agreed that they should move on. Before going to a question and answer part of the interview, Conder said:
Please Richard, see my heart, not my intellect because my heart is for mankind as well.
And with a tinge of sarcasm, Dawkins replies:
Oh I can see that.
OK, so if you didn’t view the whole video, that’s enough to get a general feel for how it went in the last few minutes. As I said, Conder seems unable to wrap his mind around the question that Dawkins posed time and again, that is, if God is all-powerful and all-loving, why the need for a sacrifice at all, much less a perfect sacrifice. At one point, Dawkins hints at the problem when he asks: “Why did God have to have his son tortured.”
Conder didn’t pick up on the subtly, but implicit in the question is if God “had” to do anything, if he is operating under a set of rules outside of himself or if he is constrained in his actions in any way, then he is not God. Essentially, he makes the rules, and the sacrifice that would redeem mankind had to be perfect, then some being or entity other than God is in control. Christ didn’t have to be killed to redeem mankind. Indeed, mankind didn’t have to redeemed by any physical action whatsoever. God could have just done it. He could have said:
OK, the gig is up. It’s been thousands of years now. I think you have toiled and suffered birth pains long enough now. You guys are off the hook. Eat, drink and be merry and enjoy your lives.
But no, believers would continue to have us believe that their God is so obsessed with the notion of vicarious redemption that nothing but a perfect sacrifice for redemption would do. Well, if that’s the case, God’s might, whatever it may be, is not omnipotent, and his love, whatever it might be, is not all-encompassing.
Clearly, this makes a lot of assumptions, and Rosa outlines a lot of them in the post. First, it assumes that God and Satan are actually real.
Second, it assumes that Satan is able to act as his own agent and that he has freewill. According to Christian teaching, he presumably does have freewill since he disobeyed God and revolted against him. Third, it assumes that God is either unwilling or unable to squash his great nemesis. Finally, the question assumes that Satan is an able creator in his own right. For instance, he can create false gods to lure humans away from Yahweh, he can create false impressions in people’s minds and he can create feelings of hate and contempt in the hearts of potential believers in an attempt to draw them away from the fold.
OK, with those assumptions on the table, since Satan has all this power, why doesn’t he create a place that rivals heaven as a great postmortem destination? Why doesn’t Satan create a hell that can compete in the afterlife free market of ideas. It could be the Key West of the afterlife; heaven without all the groveling and singing. Instead of all the weeping and woe and fire and brimstone that has given hell a bad rap for hundreds of years, Satan could create a hell that’s actually better than heaven, with waterfalls, mermaids, no illness or loss of life, sex without the threat of pregnancy or AIDS, endless buffets, wine and beer on tap 24-7 and perfect weather.
That would make one hell of a spiritual travel brochure.
The first, written by Tim Stanley, says that Dawkins is either a “fool” or a “coward” for not taking the stage with Craig in a debate about God. Stanley proceeds to call Craig an “excellent speaker” with a “witty, deliberate style that often makes his opponents look (and probably feel) a little ridiculous.”
Therefore, everyone just presumed that Dawkins refused to debate Craig because he’s scared. He is, after all, only human (or a talking monkey, depending on your point of view).
But Dawkins is a proud man (or arrogant chimp), and the accusation of cowardice probably ate at him from within. Finally, on Thursday, he gave a proper excuse for his no show to The Guardian. Its intellectual emptiness says so much about his particular brand of atheism.
To call Dawkins scared of debating anyone is completely absurd in the first place, especially considering any notion that Dawkins was or is quaking in his boots about the possibility of debating a professional obscurantist like William Lane Craig. Please.
“But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel‘s part. In commanding complete destruction of the Canaanites, the Lord says, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods’ (Deut 7.3-4). … God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. … Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.”
Dawkins in response:
Do not plead that I have taken these revolting words out of context. What context could possibly justify them?
Here is Stanley:
Actually, the context is called “Christian apologetics”, and it’s been around for centuries. It’s the attempt by scholars to present a rational basis for belief in God. … Craig’s purpose in writing this piece is to unravel the paradox of a moral Bible that also includes lashings of apparently random violence. Craig stresses that these passages of the Bible are difficult for us to read because we are not of the age in which they are written – they are just as alien to us as Beowulf or the Iliad. That’s because Christian society has been shaped by the rules of life outlined in the New Testament, not in the section of The Bible in which this massacre occurs. Far from using this passage to celebrate the slaughter of heathen, Craig is making the point that the revelation of God’s justice has changed over time. The horrors of the Old Testament have been rendered unnecessary by Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. That’s why the idiots who protest the funerals of gay soldiers or blow up abortion clinics aren’t just cruel, they’re bad theologians.
Bad theologians? Really? How is the God (or gods) of the New Testament an improvement on the Old Testament deity? In the Old Testament, we see Yahweh, through his arbitrarily chosen race of people, wreaking havoc on various tribes (men, women, children and even livestock) in Israel’s quest to conquer the Promised Land.
Dawkins, then, does not refuse to debate Craig out of cowardice or fear but out of contempt for Craig’s failure to denounce the corrosive morality of the Old Testament. Dawkins simply does have enough respect for the man to share a stage with him, and I think that’s clear if one reads Dawkin’s entire column.
In the New Testament, Jesus, operating under the veil of peace and goodwill, actually introduces a more ruthless form of justice than Yahweh ever did. God in the Old Testament seems satisfied with merely killing innocents in the physical world and going about his business. By the time we get to the New Testament, God, we learn, will not just demand utter servitude while people are alive, but he will demand it for all eternity in heaven, or else, they will face the fire forever.
I ask again, how is this system of justice an improvement over the Old Testament? God has went from a completely carnal system (killing people as a means to conquer territory) to a spiritual judgment for non-believers, a punishment that never ends. And, of course, it is not until the New Testament that we get a more robust picture of the idea of sheol, a place of darkness or, by new Testament standards, a place of never-ending torment. So, God’s justice, while it may have changed from the Old Testament to the New, actually got more brutal and more severe by many large degrees.
Craig also claims in his article that we should not feel remorse for the children who died in the Old Testament because they were bound for heaven upon their death. But here, Craig is reading New Testament and later Christian doctrine back onto the Old Testament text because there is scant little in the OT to suggest an afterlife or a system of eternal rewards or punishments (exceptions being, perhaps, Daniel 12:2 and Psalms 16:10-11).
Of course, if God’s idea of justice did change, as is suggested based on the differences between the Old and New testament, that would also rip holes in the doctrine that God is unchanging, as goes the common church mantra: “God is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
A British theologian has come to the conclusion that the god of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament had a consort, commonly known as Asherah or Astarte. Here is an article on the theologian’s findings.
According to Francesca Stavrakopoulou of the University of Exeter,
You might know him as Yahweh, Allah or God. But on this fact, Jews, Muslims and Christians, the people of the great Abrahamic religions, are agreed: There is only one of Him,” Stavrakopoulou wrote in a recent article. “He is a solitary figure, a single, universal creator, not one God among many … or so we like to believe.
Archaeological evidence as well as details in the Bible, indicate not just that he was one of several worshipped in ancient Israel, but that he was also coupled with a goddess, who was worshipped in his temple in Jerusalem.
This, of course, rips holes in the idea that Judaism was a monotheistic religion from the start. The idea that it could have been polytheistic just like almost all religions around at the time would be more typical of what we would find in ancient civilizations. In fact, this would also make a lot of sense on a purely logical level. As Stephen Fry has said, the idea of polytheism is a tenable position on some levels. We can understand that ancient people might have been compelled to make gods out of the ocean, sky, trees, the sun, etc., because this helped them to explain a highly complicated and hostile world. Here’s Fry on the matter of polytheism:
It appears from research others have done that Yahweh’s “wife,” as some are calling her, was an early addition to some of the current books that are now in the OT, but Asherah was later redacted because monotheism, not polytheism, was taking hold. But researchers say that we can still find traces of Asherah in the OT.
Here is a detailed look.
And here is archaeologist Amihai Mazar in The Quest for the Historical Israel:
An analysis of the biblical sources as well as the archaeological remains shows that Israelite religion passed through several stages of development. The worship of Yahweh alongside a consort named Asherah is known from the inscriptions at Kuntillet Ajrud, a fortified citadel-like structure in the eastern Sinai desert dated to about 800 b.c.e. This unusual and remote site, located on the main highway between Gaza and the Red Sea, seems to have been used as a roadside station, but was also a place of religious activity. It seems to have been utilized by people from both Israel and Judah, as can be detected by pottery types that represent both kingdoms. Ink inscriptions and paintings found on the white plaster of the walls, as well as on large pottery containers and a stone trough, contain dedications, prayers, and blessings. The most revealing is a dedication or prayer to Yahweh and “his Asherah.” A similar combination of Yahweh and Asherah appears also on an inscription from a cave at Khirbet el-Kom (biblical Makedah?) in the Shephelah. This combination probably reflects a theology that is substantially different from the pure monotheistic religion as it is preserved for us in the Hebrew Bible.
This evidence indicates a strong continuity with Canaanite religion, where El was the head of the pantheon and Asherah was his consort. While the worship of Asherah was condemned by the Jerusalem prophets, they probably represent the new theology that was emerging towards the end of the monarchy among the Jerusalem intellectual elite, while the popular religion embraced by the common folk was much more traditional, preserving indigenous ideas and beliefs rooted in Canaanite religion.
Glad they cleared this up for us:
And here is the equally nebulous Athanasian Creed:
…. we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Uncomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord.
Sounds like a lot of specious reasoning and begging the question to me. For all the Church’s accomplishments or good deeds in the world, lucidity would not be among them.
[Of course, I wouldn't bother with the last 1 1/2 minutes of the video because the site owner solicits donations. While I don't disagree with a person's right to donate to a certain charity they believe in, the bit at the end of this video seemed hauntingly like any other pleadings seen on religious channels. In other words, revolting. Thus, the same applies for believers and nonbelievers: if you want to produce free videos on YouTube or elsewhere, by all means, produce away. But do it with your own funds.]