Who Were The Gods of The Bible?

12/05/2012

In recent posts, I explored the origins of the Hebrew god Yahweh.  Having been raised in the Christian Church, I’ve always had questions about God that neither my pastor nor the church could answer.  As for the Bible, it seemingly raises more questions than it answers.

To recap, Yahweh/Jehovah is the god of Genesis who is arguably the foundation of three of the most important religions in the world today.  Yet, in order for anyone to accept Yahweh as the one true god, a giant leap of faith is required.  First of all, one must accept that God took human form and acted as a human would act.  The biblical stories (in the Pentateuch) demonstrate that God acted in anger, with hatred and vengeance in his heart; in addition, God lied and worst of all God killed, both wantonly and indiscriminately.  Secondly, one must feel comfortable that God taking human form was not a violation of man’s free will, for how can man be truly free if God interferes in his affairs.  Thirdly, one must be able to reconcile the fact that Yahweh wasn’t even considered by the Israelites to be the one and only God for nearly 2,000 years, from the time of Abraham to the time the Torah was written.  If the Israelites were that unsure, how could anyone who came afterward be sure.  Lastly, one must believe that Adam (first man) was created less than 5,000 years ago (the biblical chronology) despite overwhelming scientific proof to the contrary.  If any of those things are not true, the Bible cannot reasonably be considered to be the word of God, only man’s word about God.  That would leave the Bible as an historical work of sometimes questionable accuracy, as recent archaeological finds confirm (see BBC documentary “The Bible’s Buried Secrets” on YouTube).

Now Hindus, Buddhists and Moslems would deny that God could appear in human form, while the Aztecs (with their god Quetzalcoatl) and the Incas (with their god Viracocha) would say that God came in human form because their gods were simply men who they revered as gods.  A number of years ago, a scientific mission visited the remote jungles of Borneo where the local aboriginal tribe had never had contact with the outside world.  The scientists landed their helicopter in a small jungle clearing to be greeted by the locals who bowed down to them because they thought that they were gods.  It seems that the tribe’s legends told of gods who flew like birds and came from the heavens!

Other religions also say that the gods were of flesh and blood.  For example, Credo Mutwa (a Zulu shaman) has said that their history tells of creator gods who were non-divine beings and the Dogon tribe of West Africa say that their gods came from the stars (extraterrestrial beings from the Sirius star system).  In India, Tibet and China, ancient stories going back as far as 3000 BC, tell of gods who came from the stars and subsequently returned to the stars.  Among the world religions then, Judaism and Christianity are unique in that they state that a divine God took human form, even if he has been absent for nearly 3,000 years.

Assuming for a moment that Yahweh was a god, how do we know that he was the only god.  Yahweh, after all, was the self-proclaimed one and only God (Isaiah 44:6 “…apart from me there is no God”).  Interestingly enough, Yahweh must have been insecure about his godhood because in Exodus 20:3 he says that, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”.  This obviously implies that there were other gods and that Yahweh needed to convince the Israelites to worship him and him alone.  Actually, though, the Bible tells us in very plain language that Yahweh was not the only god (Psalm 82:1 says that, “Yahweh presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the gods”).  But even more controversial is the passage from John 1:18 that says that no man has ever seen God.  If that’s not true, then the Bible cannot be taken literally and if it is true then religious doctrine (interpretation of the Bible) has it all wrong.  Further, if the Book of John is to be believed, then who exactly was Yahweh?  More to the point, what then should one make of the Genesis creation story?

First of all, nobody was around when the heavens and the earth were formed so there is no record (scientific, historic or otherwise) that explains the creation.  If there is a God and he created everything, there is certainly no proof that it was actually Yahweh. The Pentateuch contains two versions of a number of stories (e.g. the flood story), which the compilers of the Torah tried to merge rather unsuccessfully into one story. The Book of Genesis, itself, is actually two creation stories from two different writers and those two stories were woven together to form the Genesis story.  In my opinion, the purpose of weaving those two stories together is to give the impression that Yahweh was God, the Prime Creator, since Yahweh does not even appear in Genesis 1.  This would have been necessary in order to introduce monotheism with Yahweh as the one and only God, as prior to that the Israelites worshipped many gods (including Yahweh).

My conclusion after considering the evidence from all over the world is that the many gods (in human form) could not have been gods, even if they might have created modern man. They were certainly far more advanced than ancient man, having brought the knowledge that helped develop civilization on this planet.  There was no way for people back then to relate to these advanced beings who could travel easily through the heavens (some would say in clouds) and who created magic with their technology.  Under the circumstances, how were they supposed to consider them to be anything less than gods, especially when those beings said that they were gods?  Accordingly, religions and mythology grew up around these historical events and figures, and today we are left trying to make some sense out of those varied stories and beliefs.  Were they gods?  Certainly, they were treated as such.  Were they divine?  Only God knows for sure.

Epilogue

NASA has recently made earth-shattering discoveries on their current mission to Mars with the Mars rover Curiosity.  It’s not known when this information will be disclosed to the general public, if at all, but what they have found could well be described as a former Type II civilization (on the Kardashev scale).  In other words, a lost civilization of the gods.  If we’re lucky, maybe they will even find a Bible of the gods.

Advertisements

12 Responses to “Who Were The Gods of The Bible?”

  1. Lux Ferous said

    Haha! I can’t remember what you are referencing about the helicopter religion. But the name of their “prophet” was pretty funny.

    And Yahweh was not the god of Genesis. Yahweh was the god of Exodus onwards (for the most part). Yahweh specifically tells Moses he did not reveal his name before then. Some theories go that the God of Genesis was “El”, short for “Elohim”, in that they were two separately worshiped gods within Israel, and the differing texts talked of the different two. The worshiping of Yahweh was the truly montheistic one, the worshiping of El was simply in believing him to be the most powerful of a pantheon.

    • chicagoja said

      I’ve got two Bibles, one in English and one in Hebrew. They both refer to Yahweh beginning in Genesis verse 2. In Psalm 82:1, it says that God/YahwehGod presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the gods. Obviously, Yahweh was not a monotheistic god.

      • Lux Ferous said

        Oh wait, my bad. Historically speaking, If I remember right, the early references to Yahweh were later additions by scribes. At least in general, and we cannot obviously treat the Hebrew Bible as one text. Meaning if Genesis thinks Yahweh is not the only god, exodus might think something else, etc…

      • chicagoja said

        Thanks for the comment, but I’m sorry that I missed your point. I was trying to communicate the idea that the Israelites were polytheists (as you said, El and the pantheon of the Elohim – see Psalm 82). Hundreds and hundreds of years later, the Israelites converted to monotheism and wrote the Hebrew Bible using the old polytheistic stories. Despite their editing of those stories, the polytheism still shines through. For example, in Genesis the use of the term “us” and “our” indicates that there was more than one entity involved in creation. Also, they left in Genesis the story of the Watchers/Fallen Angels and the Nephilim. According to the Bible,the Nephilim were the offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men.” For a more detailed account of this story, I would refer you to the Book of Enoch that was the original reference for this story which was used by the Genesis writer.

      • Lux Ferous said

        To be fair, Genesis also uses Elohim in the singular tense, despite being a plural world. Which Christians point to as trinity. Also, it is possible that “us” and “our” are being used as royal plural, like how a king may say “we” to refer to himself. Such usage is not found in ancient literature, but modern Hebrew does this and so does classical Arabic, like in the Quran.

      • chicagoja said

        To be fair, the concept of the Trinity is not even in the Bible and only became Christian dogma upon a vote at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.

      • Lux Ferous said

        Obviously Trinitarian christian would argue otherwise. There are elements that might “suggest” trinity, but I agree those arguments are weak. I am merely giving the mainstream christian apologist viewpoint.

      • chicagoja said

        You’re absolutely right. Then again, my role is not to lay down and accept their dogma but rather to challenge it. No person will ever grow and evolve by remaining static in their knowledge and beliefs. It’s only when we break away from the cultural indoctrination that the truth is possible.

      • Lux Ferous said

        I am all for breaking cultural indoctrination. That’s the goal of of my blog too, at least the plan. I just wish you could offer the alternative explanation – the one most Christian would argue in objection to you. To give the readers the opportunity to decide for themselves.

        Also, do you mind deleting what I accidently sent before this? This little blurb as well. thanks

      • chicagoja said

        Thank you. Please give me an example of what you mean by providing an alternative explanation.

      • Lux Ferous said

        The trinity thing. You say “Elohim” signifies polytheism. The alternative explanation that your christian viewers will argue is trinity in the Old Testament. I personally agree with you, not with them, but I think you should at least mention that your opinion is not universal amongst Old Testament Nerds 😛

      • chicagoja said

        Thanks for the comment. It’s a given among my readers that my opinion is not universally accepted, not by a long shot. That’s why Orwell said that telling the truth can be a revolutionary act.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: