Three major religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) have more in common than they care to admit. Christianity and Judaism are both based on the Bible (at least the Old Testament) while Islam claims to be a combination of and successor to both Christianity and Judaism. Two of the religions (Islam and Judaism) trace their roots back to the same patriarch (Abraham), who was also revered by Paul as a progenitor of the messiah. However, none of the three religions have ever talked with any great clarity about the entity that is generally referred to as God (or Yahweh or Allah). This may be because little to nothing is known about him.
The universe was presumably created some 14 billion years ago and man came into the picture only in the last million years, roughly speaking. So there was a large time gap of 14 billion years from the original act of creation until man came along. Yet in the first book of the Bible (Genesis), there are two stories which comprise the account of creation, the first of which refers to the original act of creation (Genesis 1) and the second of which gives a detailed account of the creation of man (Genesis 2). The two stories are intentionally woven into one story even though they were written at two different times by two different writers, which scholars have referred to as P and J, respectively. The P and J designations have been used since the actual writers are unknown.
The account of the original creation is much older (than the account of man’s creation) and dates back to a time when the Israelites were polytheists – that is, they worshipped many gods. Thus, the use of the term Elohim (plural term of El or God) in the first verse of Genesis, a term that has been translated into the word “God”. Accordingly in Genesis 1, God says, “Let us make man in our image”. Obviously the words “us” and “our” are plural terms indicating that there were many gods(elohim). This is consistent with other passages in the Bible which refer to many gods (see Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians, for example).
By the time Genesis 2 was written, Judaism was just becoming a formal religion. At that time, the Israelites believed in just one God with a belief system dating back to Moses and his life in the court of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who is widely claimed by scholars to be the father of monotheism.
Because of the conversion to monotheism, the term Yahweh (YWHW) was used for God in Genesis 2 and it was translated into the words “Lord God”. It was Yahweh, one of the Elohim, that became the one and only God of the Israelites. But then, just who was Yahweh talking to, or referring to, in Genesis 3 when he said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us” (emphasis added)?
Of course, most scholars, and even many theologians, would say that these stories about God are simply mythological in nature and not to be taken literally. After all, the original creation predates man by 14 billion years and just who was God talking to, anyway, when he said, “Let there be light”? Besides as it says in the Book of John, “No one has ever seen God”. It’s fair to say then that indeed no one has ever seen or even talked to God, at least not God as in the “prime creator”.
I have reason to believe that lesser gods, that is god with a little “g”, were the basis for some of the stories about gods that appear in the oral traditions (and writings) of many cultures around the planet. This would include gods like Jehovah in the Bible. It was Jehovah who made the covenant with the Israelites whereby if they would choose him as their god then he would be their god. Well, you’re either the prime creator or you’re not. There’s no choice involved. Only a god (little “g”) would say such a thing or act in that way. Anyway, why does an all-loving, all-knowing God need to have a contract to cover such things.
The conundrum then for religion is what exactly is their moral authority based on if they don’t really know God? This situation is further complicated by the faithful who are concerned because they want to feel that moral actions result in eternal rewards. As a result, we get the church involved in the selling of salvation as opposed to trying to teach their flock about God. In a world where chaos rules the day, churches are suppose to be a haven for the weary and the downtrodden. However, because of a lack of a meaningful message the church has become marginalized, and without a moral compass people just wait around hoping to be saved.
In the absence of concrete evidence about the existence and nature of God, the world has developed what are essentially faith-based religions. Perhaps then we should consider rewriting Genesis because, for one thing, we know that in the Genesis story God violated one of his own commandments by lying. That is, he told Eve that if she ate from the Tree of Knowledge she would surely die, and of course she ate the apple and didn’t die. While religion has brought the discussion about God to the masses, it has done so through the invention of largely superficial stories. Just as with Jesus who taught through parables that even his disciples didn’t understand, the common man has never been allowed to fully explore the deeper esoteric truths about God. In one sense, though, I guess it’s hard to fault the church because if it was okay for God to lie, why shouldn’t they.