Sunday, 1 January 2012

Does Yahweh Exist?

I'm finally getting around to reading John Loftus' "The End Of Christianity".  I don't plan to do a full chapter by chapter review, but below I will discuss, in some detail, one of my favorites in the book (chapter 5, by Dr. Jaco Gericke, "Can God Exist If Yahweh Doesn't?"). In it, Dr. Gericke makes an argument that is a little different than any that I've heard before, and his case is a convincing one.

Dr. Gericke's basic contention is that most Christians today believe in the more sophisticated "God of the philosophers", and not at all "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob", namely Yahweh, as depicted in the Bible...

"What the Western world means when it refers fuzzily to 'God' is not some untouchable, ineffable ultimate reality beyond the grasp of human rational faculties that will one day catch up with unbelievers, making them realize their cognitive blindness.  Rather, the entity most readers refer to when they speak of 'God' is actually an upgraded, mysteriously anonymous version of what used to be a relatively young, quite particular, and oddly hybrid Middle Eastern tribal deity called Yahweh."  (Side note: for more on the history of Yahweh I recommend checking out this interesting documentary.)

I've noticed that many of the best arguments against Christianity come straight from the Bible text itself, and Jaco's argument is no exception.  In fact, most of those which led directly to my own de-conversion were argued in just such a fashion.  Jaco "takes the Bible seriously" allowing Yahweh, in effect, to "fend for himself".

With that said let's examine, in more detail, the characteristics of Yahweh...

Yahweh's Body

What does the Bible mean when it speaks of man as being created "in the image of God" (Gen. 1:26-27)?  Sophisticated apologists will no doubt want to insist that the reference is simply metaphorical, but actually the Old Testament seems to be saying that God was believed to look like a male human.  For example, we find references to Yahweh's sexual organs (Ezek. 1:27-38), feet (Exod. 24:10-11), backside (Exod. 33:23), hands and fingers (Exod. 31:18), and face (Exod. 33:20).  Yahweh also has a nose, supposedly, with which to smell the pleasing aroma of sacrifices.  Jaco continues...

"When Christian scholars try to tone down the problem with the concept of anthropomorphism (ie. speaking as if Yahweh appeared only in human form but does not look like a human), it's because they, too, realize the absurdity in such a belief.  One justification for taking seriously the Old Testament's religious language can be found in the recognition that nonmetaphorical elements tend to spill over into those depictions of Yahweh that make sense only if the limitations of embodiment are assumed to be of constraining effect on him.  Thus we find him needing to rest in order to be refreshed (Gen. 2:1; Exod. 31:17); having to travel to obtain information and to verify reports (Gen. 3:8-11; 11:5-7; 18:17); needing to test people to discern their beliefs, intentions, and motives (Gen. 22; Deut. 8:2; 2 Chron. 32:31; etc.); being forced to act based on a fear of human potential (Gen. 3:22; 11:5-7); being of insufficient power so that his people could not defeat the enemy because it had iron chariots during the battle (Judg. 1:21); and desiring assistance in some matters (Judg. 5:23; 1 Kings 22:20-23; Isa. 63:3-5); etc." (bolding mine)

Yahweh's Mind

If it's troubling for believers to admit the Bible contains factually incorrect information, and so it does, it ought to be doubly so to point out that some of this very misinformation is believed and propagated by Yahweh himself.  (Would somebody please remind me, again, how it is that these two facts alone don't completely demolish the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy?)

"Yahweh himself believes that the universe was literally created over a period of six days (Exod. 31:17) and that there is an ocean above the stars behind a firmament from where rainwater falls to the earth (Gen. 1:6; Job 38:34).  He also believes that the landmass of the earth floats on water (Deut. 5:8; Ps. 24:2) and that there is literally a place underground where the dead live as shades according to their nationalities (Num. 16:23-33; Deut. 32:22; Job 38:16-17; Isa. 7:11; Ezek. 26:19-20; 32:18-32; Amos 9:2).  Yahweh also believes in mythical creatures like the Leviathan, Rahab, Behemoth, sea monsters, flying dragons, demons of the field, malevolent spirits of the night, etc. (cf. Job 40:41; Isa. 30:6; Lev. 17:7; Isa. 34:14; Amos 9:3; etc.).  He even assumes that thought issues from the heart and emotions from the kidneys (Jer. 17:10; etc.).  Yahweh also believes in the historicity of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, all as depicted in the biblical traditions, at least according to the texts in which he speaks to them and in subsequent stories in which his character refers back to them as though they were real people (see, for example, Ezek. 14).  But if these people as they are depicted are fictions (as scholars have established), how can Yahweh--speaking to fictions and referring to them as reality--not himself be fictitious?"

Later in the chapter, Jaco goes on to make the following point...

"Many people take this need of God for granted but never bother to ask why God wants--no, demands--to be worshipped.  It is one thing if creatures, in awe of their creator, erupt spontaneously in praise.  It is quite another if the creator should be thought of as having premeditated the formation of creatures who exist solely for the purpose of perpetually reminding him how exalted and powerful and benign he is (Isa. 6).  I mean, is it really credible to believe that the ultimate reality is a person who is so narcissistic and egotistic that he has to prescribe in minute detail exactly how he wants to be worshipped?  Why do we take for granted the idea of a god so self-absorbed that he even threatens to destroy anyone diverging in any way from his instructions?  Look at the details in Exodus 25-40 with regard to the furnishings and construction of the tabernacle and the niceties of the rituals.  Such controlling obsessiveness can only be accounted for if we postulate behind it all a projection of human desire for control and order." (bolding mine)

This Sunday, millions of Christians the world over will gather together and sing, "how great is our god, sing with me, how great is our god, sing with me how great, how great, is our god...".  Will any of them pause to wonder why Yahweh desires this in the first place?

Yahweh's World

Yet more evidence, for Yahweh as a cultural construct, comes from the Biblical paradigm which claims...

"...the entire cosmos is a monarchy and that Yahweh's eternal divine abode in the skies operates like a kingdom (Deut. 32:8-9; 1 Sam 8:7; Dan. 6:27; etc.).  Yahweh's own abode is believed to be a palace in which the deity himself sits on a throne (Ps. 11:4 etc.).  A favorite form of transportation for the god is horse-drawn chariots (2 Kings 2:11-12; 16-17; Zech. 6:1-8; etc.). Yahweh also needs an army whose weapon of choice is the sword (Gen. 3:22; 32:1-2; Josh. 5:13-15; 2 Sam. 24:16, 27; etc.).  Yahweh is wise but not omniscient and makes use of councilors (1 Kings 22:20-23; Isa. 6:3; Jer. 23:18; Ps. 82:1; 89:5; Job 1:6; etc.) and intelligence services that spy on the subjects in order to ascertain their loyalty (Job. 1-2; Zech. 3; 1 Chron. 21; etc.).  The ram's horn was a popular musical instrument in Yahweh's abode (Exod. 19:16), and the inhabitants of heaven eat bread and dress in pure white linen (Ps. 78:25; Ezek. 9:2; Dan. 10:5; etc.).  Yahweh even engages in writing on scrolls (see the "book" [of life] in Exod. 32:32; Pss. 69:29; 139:16; Dan. 7:10; 10:21; etc.).  To appreciate the impossibility of this state of affairs, the reader should take the time to reflect on the historically temporary and culturally relative nature of objects like scrolls, horse-drawn chariots, swords, dresses of linen, and shofars.  These are all-too-human, time-period artifacts.  There was once a time in the past when they did not exist.  Before such things were used by humans, people wrote on stone and clay; fought with clubs, bows, and spears; and ran on foot.  Then humans themselves designed or invented these objects Yahweh uses, and then the objects themselves evolved through time.  Some cultures never used these objects and have never even heard of them.  Eventually, due to cultural and technological development and change, both the political institution of monarchy and many of these artifacts Yahweh makes use of fell into disuse and today are only kept for interest's sake as antiquities. Few people today write on scrolls, fight battles against enemies with swords, dress in linen, blow on rams' horns, or ride in horse-drawn chariots to reach a destination.  Yet if the Old Testament texts are to be believed, ultimate reality is the god of Israel who forever uses Iron-Age artifacts. In Yahweh's sky-palace, things like shofars, swords, scrolls, and chariots have been around forever and will be so ever more."  (bolding mine)

Nonsense On Stilts

In the last section of the chapter Dr. Gericke tackles Christian philosophy of religion (he calls it "nonsense on stilts").  As pointed out previously, since Christians no longer really believe in the biblical God Yahweh, they engage in "reconstructive mythology...it only seems to work because people forget that God used to be Yahweh.  They might as well try to rehabilitate any old tribal god under the universal umbrella nowadays covered by the concept of divinity...conceptions of Yahweh by most Christian philosophers of religion tend to be radically anachronistic and conform more to the proverbial 'God of the philosophers' (Thomas Aquinas in particular) than to any version of Yahweh as depicted in ancient Israelite religion."

Jaco makes a great point here.  Is there any legitimate reason for us to believe that Yahweh is more likely to exist than other tribal Gods from the ancient superstitious past?  If so, what is that reason?

Some Christians today attempt to casually dismiss all of the Old Testament difficulties with the sweeping claim that God spoke in a language (and using symbols/terminology) that ancient people could understand.  (The implication being that we shouldn't expect him to say anything which might rise to the level of supernatural knowledge; ie. beyond that of the people living at the time. Ironically, these same Christians still believe that the Bible is a supernaturally inspired book.  On what evidence do they believe this exactly??)  Besides, how is this argument not simply a clear cut case of special pleading on their part?

Even if this view were correct (and I don't buy it for a second), how would it account for all of the information presented above?  Why would the Bible claim, for example, that Yahweh was in deep trouble, simply because the enemy had iron chariots?  And for what reason would the Bible depict Yahweh as believing in mythical creatures?  The problems only deepen from there.

No, what such believers fail to consider is that there is in fact a much better explanation...Yahweh is a mythical figure.  Will they be willing to honestly consider this possibility?

And if Yahweh doesn't exist, Christianity is necessarily false.

There's simply no way around it.

9 comments:

  1. Not only the old testament but also the new. Can you imagine yourself their when Jesus was feeding the five (four) thousand. What would it have looked liked to see the bread and fishes mutiplying? Was it done in the basket or was it all on the ground in front of the people. Relating back to your other post how very silly of me to bought this hook line and sinker. I feel the anger stage off and on. Really can anyone read the bible and not see the fairy tales?

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  2. I hear you. When I look back on it now I find it hard to fathom that I ever believed so much on such little evidence (but that's the power of the "faith" delusion)!

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  3. Hey guys. I just wanted to share this information with you. OK Yahweh and his son yashua do exist however, every religion in the world has taken what was said and twisted it all around to "fit" their ideas. Christianity is the worst offender. Look, what "God" says is right and wrong is completely different that what all religions say he says is right and wrong. All of the Bibles have been changed to fit their beliefs. "God" has never like the established religious systems. But I will say this, even athiesm is a "religion". It is founded upon evolution. So its a "religion" that has no God. A religion is simply a shared system of beliefs.

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  4. @May 12 2013, 4:48

    Atheism is a position regarding the existence of a deity (says nothing about biology in general or evolution in particular). Biological evolution is a scientific theory that explains biodivetsity (it says nothing about atheism). Learn the subjects first.

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  5. Yahweh, like Zues, does not exist.

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  6. this is also damaging to Judaism. btw Judaism including reform Judaism insist Exodus is historical and Moses existed

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  7. Yahweh does not exist.

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  8. The fact that the Creator of the universe exists and that His Name is expressed using four Hebrew letters, k own as the tetragrammaton, can only be understood through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), teaching the Believer directly. Without the Hebrew, I agree, the English translations do not embody the actual meanings, except in part. Original Hebrew is a supermatural language. Yeshua, known to western believers as Jesus, (although no J existed in language until around the fifth century), is the Devar, or in English, the Word of Yah. He is the physical manifestation of the Unseen Creator God. All this, however, is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who have a personal knowledge of Yah it is Life.

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  9. What if we're wrong and Zeus,yahweh and all the other gods do in fact exist? Lol

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