This is kind of an old topic, but it is one that seems to never die. That is, does God exist? The debate between deists and atheists typically is centered around the Christian god with atheists rejecting God simply because they reject Christianity. To be fair, though, there are some 4,200 religions in the world and the Christian god, therefore, is just one of 4,200 gods .
So, I pose these questions: In order to be intellectually honest, do atheists need to reject all 4,200 gods before declaring themselves to be atheists? And exactly what makes Christians feel that their god, amongst all of the 4,200 gods, is the one and only?
While my interest in this debate wanes by the day, I feel that it’s still worth a mention. To begin with, religious beliefs are claims rather than the truth. Holy books, however, may be considered to be the truth by a believer, even if it’s based solely on their faith. On the other hand atheism, is a religion too. Michael Ruse, an evolutionist himself, admitted that, “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion-a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality…Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”
Scientists of all stripes have weighed in on this debate. Here’s a few thoughts from some of the great minds of science:
“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”
– Albert Einstein
Note: According to Wikipedia, Spinoza believed that “…everything is a derivative of God, interconnected with all of existence.” Further, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that Spinoza’s God is an “infinite intellect.”
“The universe does not exist ‘out there,’ independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators.”
– John Wheeler, physicist
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
– Carl Sagan, astronomer
Note: Of course, Sagan was admitting that there is super- intelligence in the cosmos, an intelligence which can think, extrapolate… and “know itself”.
“Our brains mathematically construct objective reality by interpreting frequencies that are ultimately projections from another dimension, a deeper order of existence that is beyond both space and time….”
– Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe
“Life is the most mysterious of all the wonders of creation because atoms have been assembled in such a way so that they can ponder their own existence.”
– Martin Rees, astrophysicist
“The secret of DNA’s success is that it carries information like that of a computer program, but far more advanced. Since experience shows that intelligence is the only presently acting cause of information, we can infer that intelligence is the best explanation for the information in DNA.”
– Jonathan Wells, molecular biologist
“To me, it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.”
– Michio Kaku, physicist
“Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe that was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.”
– Arno Penzias, physicist
“It is easy to understand why many scientists like Sir Fred Hoyle changed their minds in the past thirty years. They now agree that the universe, as we know it, cannot reasonably be explained as a cosmic accident.”
– Frederic B. Burnham, historian of science
“Beyond all finite experiences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas and principles, there is an Intelligence or Mind, the first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas are grounded.”
“When it comes to the origin of life on this earth, there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation (evolution). There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved 100 years ago, but that leads us only to one other conclusion: that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds (personal reasons); therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.”
– George Wald
“Super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.”
– Antony Flew
These gentlemen hardly referred to God at all in explaining the origins of life. Therefore, I would suggest that the vast majority of concepts/perspectives about God (both pro and con) are incomplete, at best. Since the word God is generally associated with religion, I believe that it would be preferable to use the term “creator” instead.
Of course if there is a creator, he doesn’t have to be the god of any religion, now does he? So, if any of you are hung up over the illogic of religion, especially Christianity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no God. It may simply mean that you have been looking for him in all the wrong places and calling him by the wrong name.
– Joseph Campbell
I read a post the other day where a reader commented that one should follow God’s will. That comment immediately raised a couple of questions, at least for me. First off, how do we know that God has a will? At first blush, maybe that seems like a pretty innocuous question. However, how does anyone really know? After all, The Pascal Wager states that, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible” (i.e. the finite cannot conceive of the Infinite).
That, of course, begs the second question. That is, what kind of a life form might God be? However, we first probably need to define “will,” as in God’s will. The Free Dictionary says that will is “The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action.” In that case, I suppose, God has to be considered to be some sort of a physical life form. The Bible confirms this as it says that God was a man, specifically referring to God as Him.
Aside: Of course if God was a man, then who created God?
Now, I know that some people would say that God does not have to be a Him; that God could be a She or even an It. Fair enough. However, consider this. Some researchers/historians, myself included, believe that the Genesis story (in particular the Creation and Flood stories) was borrowed from older Sumerian writings.
Aside: That was only natural, in a way, since the Israelites actually were descendants of the Sumerians through Abraham.
In the ancient Sumerian writings, God (or more accurately the gods) is referred to as Him because he actually is a man – a real flesh and blood man. This is why the Bible says that man (Adam) was created in God’s image, (i.e. the image of a male, human being).
Aside: That is, man and God have nearly identical DNA.
Naturally, all of this raises more questions than it answers. For example, is God the Prime Creator? Well, certainly, the god of Genesis was the creator of man, at least the modern-day version of Homo sapiens. As for being the creator, the Bible actually says that God is not the Prime Creator. In Deuteronomy 32:8-9, it states, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s (Yahweh) portion is his people; Jacob (Israel) is the lot of his inheritance.” This shows that Yahweh was, at best, a lower god since Yahweh was subordinate to the Most High. Further, in John 1:18, John says that ““No one has ever seen God.” Of course, John was speaking about the spirit form of God, so the physical god of Genesis could not be God, according to John.
Back to the issue of God’s will. If God was an intelligent life form with a physical body, by definition he would almost certainly have a will. God then might impose his will on man, if he so chose, similar to what happened in so many of the biblical stories. The problem is that the so-called god of Genesis is not God, as in the Prime Creator. In that case, why worry about god’s will at all? Indeed, why even worship Yahweh?
…Or perhaps, the “god concept” is really just a distraction to keep us from connecting with our real Creator.
As Yahweh told man, you shall have no other gods before you. Hopefully, you can now see how that Bible verse makes some sense. That is, there were many Yahweh-type entities running around in ancient times. Yahweh was simply one of many (see Deuteronomy 32:8-9 above). In fact, the Israelites were polytheistic for thousands of years, even after Moses. Yahweh was an important god but the goddess Asherah was just as important, perhaps even more so. However, with the introduction of monotheism, the Israelites were told to have no other gods before them – and certainly not the gods of the Sumerians, the gods of Abraham.
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” – Carl Sagan
P.S. Of course, “the universe” Sagan mentions is not a life form (i.e. it cannot know itself). When reading his quote, therefore, you need to replace the word “universe” with the word “Creator”.
Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku says that he understands the mind of God! In an interview, he said that, “The mind of God that Einstein eloquently wrote about…would be cosmic music resonating through eleven dimensional hyperspace.” So, the question is this: Exactly what kind of a god would that be?
Without really defining God, Kaku said that the laws of physics can give us an idea about what God is like. That is, God would not be a personal god or a god of intervention, a god who parts the waters. However, a universe created by God would be a universe of order, beauty, harmony and simplicity. In short, Kaku believes in the god of Einstein and Spinoza. No doubt, Kaku’s perspective won’t make either religious leaders or atheists very happy.
So, let’s take a look at the beliefs of Einstein and Spinoza. Einstein said that, “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.” While most people are familiar with Einstein, not too many people know about Spinoza. Baruch Spinoza was a famous 17th century Dutch philosopher. According to Wikipedia, Spinoza believed that “…everything is a derivative of God, interconnected with all of existence.” Further, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that Spinoza’s God is an “infinite intellect.”
While some might disagree, it appears that both Einstein and Spinoza believed in Intelligent Design. However, there’s not much doubt that neither Einstein nor Spinoza believed in the god of the Bible, the god of intervention. So, who exactly, then, was the god of the Bible? Well, let’s just say that the god of Genesis was an interloper of sorts. He definitely had a big ego since he told man that there were no other gods besides him, even though the Bible says that he was not the god Most High. In any event, he certainly would not qualify as the god of either Einstein or Spinoza, that’s for sure.
“Beyond all finite experiences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas and principles, there is an Intelligence or Mind, the first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas are grounded.”
According to the Bible, man was created to till the Garden, of Eden that is. It’s part of a recurring thread that runs through the Bible. I’m talking about slavery, servitude or whatever term one may choose to refer to it.
In Exodus, Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God. In addition, he also receives a multitude of other laws and instructions that was referred to as the Book of the Covenant (see Exodus 24:7). One of the more interesting things in the Book of the Covenant is the discussion of slavery. The text goes like this:
“If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing…And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do (Exodus 21:2,7).”
The Israelites had so sooner been freed from slavery in Egypt than they enslaved others, including their own kind (Hebrews). A man could even sell his daughter into slavery. So, slavery is actually permitted by God himself; it’s even a part of the Tenth Commandment. Is there a biblical precedent for this?
Well, yes, as a matter of fact there is. In Genesis 9:24-27, it says, “And he (Noah) said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. And God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Apparently, the only righteous person that God could find believed in the concept of slavery, in this case condemning many of his own descendants into servitude.
However, the origins of slavery actually go back further, all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was in the Garden that man was created to till the garden. Yes, to till the ground, to dress it and to keep it, just like it says in Genesis 2:5,18.
Contrary to popular belief, then, man was not created for the express purpose of worshiping God, or to be fruitful and multiply for that matter. With respect to procreation, Eve was an afterthought (see Genesis 2:18-24 and 1 Corinthians 11:9) and Adam and Eve did not have children until after they left the Garden. Besides, prior to eating from the Tree of Knowledge, man was unaware of his sexuality. This is what was meant by the passage in Genesis 2:25 which states that Adam and Eve were naked and they were not ashamed.
God could have condemned slavery at any point in man’s evolution, not unlike his condemnation of taking a human life (in the Ten Commandments) or his admonition not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (in Genesis 2). Of course, free will being what it is, man was going to make less than perfect choices. That was to be expected. In fact, an omniscient God would have known that it would happen (even before he created man he would have known). However, God never took a stand. He never said that it was wrong. There wasn’t even any punishment for it. What’s wrong with this picture?
There are only a couple of possibilities to explain all of this. Stop me if you have heard this from me before. Either God isn’t very godly (in fact, he wasn’t even omniscient), or the god of Genesis is not God. Your choice. Myself, I would simply say that the god of Genesis was the very source of the cultural mores that said that slavery was acceptable. After all, he created man to till the garden, didn’t he?
“Much that the Bible says about him (God) is rarely preached from the pulpit because, examined too closely, it becomes a scandal.”
– Jack Miles, God: A Biography
The origins of the Jewish people are a real mystery. That is, there is little to no evidence of exactly who they were, not even in the Old Testament (which is essentially a history of the Jewish race).
The Jewish people believe that their roots go back to the Old Testament (the Jewish Bible). For example, in the Old Testament, the Jewish people are called Israelites and prior to that Hebrews. However, these designations only appear in the Bible and they have never been placed in the context of ancient history. So, let’s explore who the Jewish people really were.
Biblically speaking, the origins of man, and by definition the Jewish people, goes back to the Garden of Eden. Now, the Garden of Eden is generally considered by biblical scholars to have been in the Middle East. Where, exactly, has been somewhat difficult to pin down, however. The Bible does say, though, that Abraham and his family came from the city of Ur and since Ur was located in the ancient Mesopotamian kingdom of Sumer, Abraham was by definition a Sumerian. Since Abraham was a Sumerian, so too were the Jewish people since they were Abraham’s descendants.
Family trees aside, there is virtually no real history in the Bible prior to Abraham. For a period covering over one thousand years, all that we have is two stories, the Creation Story and the Flood Story. The elephant in the room is this. Why is there no real family history of the Jewish people prior to Abraham? Why?
Since Abraham and his family were Sumerians, let’s start by examining Sumerian history. Now, the Sumerians were perhaps the greatest civilization that ever existed on the planet up until the 20th century, far beyond that of the vaunted Greek civilization that came over 1,000 years later. What’s important to realize is that the origins of Western Civilization go back much farther than Greece. Their origins actually go all the way back to Sumer, as the Sumerians almost single-handedly invented civilization.
Samuel Kramer, in his book History Begins at Sumer, lists 39 “firsts in history” which began in Sumer, including the first written language. The Sumerians wrote the first Great Flood and Creation stories, long before Genesis was penned by Jewish scribes. Not surprisingly, many historians and scholars have concluded that the Bible’s own creation and flood stories are actually of Sumerian origin, drawn from more ancient Sumerian texts. When you think about it, why shouldn’t the Jewish scribes have patterned their creation and flood stories after Sumerian writings. The Jewish people were Sumerians, after all. The Sumerian writings were their legacy.
The Jewish people wandered around the Middle East for the better part of two thousand years – from Sumer to Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) to Egypt to Judea and Samaria (modern-day Israel) and then on to captivity in Babylon in the 6th century B.C. When they wound up in Babylon, their journey had come full circle back to ancient Sumer, as Babylon would have been part of Sumer if it had existed back then. When the Jewish people were in captivity in Babylon, the Persians ruled over most of the Middle East, the Achaemenid Empire it was called with Babylon as its capitol. The Jewish people thus became a very tiny minority within that empire.
Up until that time, no civilization on Earth had a monotheistic religion except one, the Persians. The Persians’ religion is called Zoroastrianism. Their God is named Ahura Mazda and he was considered to be omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Creation was accomplished in six days and began with a single couple. Just like Moses, the Persian prophet Zoroaster received God’s commandments on the top of a holy mountain. Perhaps, you can already see where I am going with this.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Up until this point, the Israelites were basically polytheistic. However, their beliefs were about to get a face-lift as Israelite culture would collide head-on with the religion (Zoroastrianism) of the ruling Persians. Furthermore, in Babylon, they came face-to-face with their forgotten past as the ancient Sumerian texts had been preserved and were available for the Jewish scribes to read.
The mixture of these elements was tantamount to cultural dynamite and the result was the Old Testament and a new radical worldview – monotheism. Over time, monotheism would spread around the world through Christianity and then Islam. As for the Sumerians, they have been all but forgotten… although, today, some of them constitute what is commonly referred to as the Jewish people.
A genetic study of Ashkenazi Jews traced the roots of many Jewish people to just four women whose genetic origins come from an unknown source. It appears that their unknown genetic origins may have been confirmed by a DNA study done by the Harvard Medical School, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. That study found that ancient man had sex with an unknown species. Yes, the Ashkenazi Jews and ancient man both received DNA from an unknown species – unknown to everyone, except for the Sumerians who wrote about it in their ancient texts. They referred to this DNA as the DNA of the gods. This, then, was the legacy of the Sumerians – a bloodline that reached back to the gods, a bloodline which, by virtue of its genetics, gave them and their descendants a divine right to rule.
“With stunning abruptness… there appears in this little Sumerian mud garden… the whole cultural syndrome that has since constituted the germinal unit of all the high civilizations of the world.”
– Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God
Legends from around the world tell of blue-eyed gods. For example, the god of the Incas was called Viracocha, the Mayas had their Kukulkan and for the Aztecs it was Quetzalcoatl. These gods were all described as having blue eyes. Likewise, the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians thought that blue eyes were a sign of the gods (and royalty), as many of their statues show. Even statues of Buddha show him with blue eyes, as traditionally Buddha was regarded as having the Thirty-two Characteristics of a Great Man (one of which characteristics was blue eyes). It makes one wonder if God could have possibly had blue eyes.
Science says that in the beginning man had dark eyes. Life began in Africa, right? However, a funny thing happened on man’s sojourn out of Africa. A recent genetic study at the University of Copenhagen says that 6,000 to 10,000 years ago a person was suddenly born with blue eyes, for the very first time. Before that, we supposedly all had brown eyes.
Today, the catch phrase in science is that blue eyes were caused by a mutation, which of course means that scientists don’t really know how it first occurred. Supposedly, one person was born with a mutation in the gene that controls eye color which resulted in blue eyes. This was followed by identical second and third mutations, and so on until finally the mutated gene became so prevalent that blue eyes occurred naturally in child births. I said, supposedly.
Certainly, there were changes in the DNA but the real question is where did these changes actually come from? That is, either DNA has the innate ability to change on its own or it can be altered by outside forces, or perhaps even both. However, science seems unsure which it is. All they say is that blue eyes were caused by a mutation. The scientists at the University of Copenhagen who did the genetic research say that this particular mutation was “neutral” in terms of whether it improved the chances of the species survival. Neutral is, I believe, a first for science. That’s because either scientists believe in natural selection (a positive change) or conversely believe that mutations have always been shown to be the result of defects in genes (a negative change). In any case, if a mutation was not due to a defect, it would certainly imply some sort of intelligent design of DNA which allows the DNA to adapt on its own to its environment.
According to the University of Copenhagen study, blue-eyed people migrated from the Black Sea area to various parts of the world – east to China, south and east to India, west to North Africa and Europe (and eventually North America) and south to Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. Linguistics has also traced these very same people through the progression of languages of what’s referred to as the Indo-European family of languages. In essence, it’s one family and one bloodline and it now stretches virtually around the world. By some estimates, there are 300 million people today with blue eyes. Despite historical migration, the highest percentage of people with blue eyes in any one country still live fairly close to the epicenter (the Black Sea). For example, in Estonia, a vast majority of people still have blue eyes.
However, what very few people are talking about is that fair skin and blond hair also mutated in the same timeframe as the mutation associated with blue eyes. A case-in-point is the recent scientific study by an international team of researchers headed by Harvard University which says that Caucasians first arose some 8,000 years ago. In addition, the scientific consensus is that Caucasians also came from the Black Sea area. So, both blue eyes and fair skin arose in the very same timeframe and in the same geographic area, the Black Sea.
What this really amounts to is a “poof” moment. Some people just suddenly (poof) got blue eyes instead of brown, blond hair instead of dark hair and fair skin instead of dark skin. One could even go so far as to say that the very first blue-eyed person also had fair skin and blond hair. Those three physical traits are genetically linked in ways that science does not yet fully understand. After all, almost all people who are blond with blue eyes have fair skin.
After leaving Africa, other unexplainable changes took place in man, especially in Europe. About 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals were replaced in Europe by Cro-Magnon man. Some mutation; we literally got a whole new species, with Cro-Magnon being considerably larger than Neanderthal. Since Cro-Magnon man was also larger than Sub-Saharan Africans, their geographic origins are in doubt. However, the bigger question is how did they evolve, since they were a mutation that was so great and so sudden that they don’t fit in the context of evolutionary theory. Then, Cro-Magnon man disappeared some 12,000 years ago and was replaced by modern man who is smaller than Cro-Magnon (including having a smaller brain size). Somewhere along the way, modern man wound up with three different skull types, only one of which is obviously of African origin. Confusing, right? Try fitting evolutionary theory into that scenario.
Then there is the curious case of Rh negative blood. It’s a real can of worms. Science is stumped as to how man originally came out of Africa with Rh positive blood and then developed Rh negative blood, especially since Rh positive blood is incompatible with Rh negative blood. The mystery only deepens when you realize that almost no Africans or Asians have Rh negative blood. It’s basically a European (Caucasian) thing.
In the final analysis, we have fallen back on the concept of mutation because we don’t have a plausible explanation for how man evolved. Like I said earlier, either DNA can evolve on its own (with all the implications of intelligent design that this would entail) or there were outside influences which would explain the sudden and significant evolutionary changes in man.
The elephant in the room is that blue eyes, blond hair and fair skin may be linked to one ancient gene pool that carried all three of those genetic traits. That is, we all didn’t evolve from just one gene pool. Religiously speaking, we didn’t exclusively evolve genetically from Adam and Eve. For example, in the Bible there were the Sons of God who mated with the daughters of ancient man. You may not buy into that story, however, a new DNA study from the Harvard Medical School in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, found that ancient man had sex with a still unknown species.
No doubt, this relates to the results of a genetic study of Ashkenazi Jews which traced the Ashkenazi origins back to just four women carrying distinctive mtDNAs that showed that they were not related to each other and that their genetic origins are unknown. The same could be said for man in general. His true origins are simply unknown. God may have had blue eyes, after all.
Interestingly enough, this might lead to what some would consider to be a politically incorrect worldview. That is, the difference in races is caused by man’s evolution from more than one gene pool. In other words, not all of our genes came “out of Africa.” Now, you may be wondering why you haven’t heard about this before. Like I said, it’s politically incorrect – a dirty little secret that has been intentionally suppressed from the history books…but, of course, now you know.
“The falsification of history has done more to mislead humans than any single thing known to mankind.”
– Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Here’s the three things that you need to know about the Bible, at least from one person’s perspective:
What’s the most important part of the Bible?
That’s easy. It’s Genesis. Why? Because, above all, man needs to understand his place in the universe. That is, why do I exist?
What’s the most interesting part of the Bible?
It’s Genesis, again. Why? Because we get to eavesdrop on God during the creation process.
What is the importance of the Bible to religion?
This one is trickier. It’s moral authority. That is, man needs to be able to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong and arguably this can only come from God.
With respect to Christianity, Genesis is central to their faith. So, there are three things that one ought to know about Genesis, as follows:
The God of Genesis is the God of the Hebrews
The God of Genesis is Yahweh who is the Hebrew God. In fact, Christianity does not have a God that is unique to its own religion.
Genesis is not an original Christian story
That is, like Yahweh, Genesis was borrowed from Judaism.
The author of Genesis is unknown
Genesis was written by Jewish scribes shortly after the Babylonian exile (6th century BC), however, the exact author(s) is unknown. Contrary to popular belief, though, it was not written by Moses.
All of which leads to three things that one ought to know about Christianity.
Who were the very first Christians?
Obviously, the disciples, themselves, were the very first Christians (i.e. followers of Christ).
What did the disciples believe in?
The disciples’ beliefs were based on their first-hand experiences from being around Jesus. What Jesus taught them, they taught others. The disciples were Jewish and they lived their lives strictly in accordance with the Jewish Written Law, the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). The scriptures that they studied were from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament); as for the New Testament scriptures, they had not yet been written as of that time.
Who decided the official church doctrine?
There was a lot of diversity in early Christian thinking. After much debate, the core tenets of Christianity were officially decided by a series of church councils beginning with the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, which was convened under the auspices of the Roman Emperor, Constantine I.
All of which takes us back to the literal beginning…to Genesis. That is, what makes Genesis so important to Christianity? Does it answer the age-old questions of how and why were we created?
How were we created?
Well, for starters, Genesis has an explanation of how life was created. The Bible’s concept of God creating the heavens and earth is sometimes referred to as Creation Out of Nothing. Interestingly enough, that concept is actually supported somewhat by science whose own Big Bang Theory is also, essentially, creation out of nothing.
Why were we created?
Almost everyone I know has, at one time or another, wanted to know the reason for their existence. That is, what is the meaning of life? Genesis has a reason, but it isn’t exactly what you might think or have been taught to believe. Genesis actually says that man was created to care for the Garden of Eden. As for the woman, she apparently was an afterthought as she was created later (to be a companion for man).
In search of God
Man has been forever in search of his origins, in search of his creator; in other words, in search of God. God, of course, is the main character of the Genesis story. However, there are some age-old questions that Genesis doesn’t answer about him. For example, although much has been said about God, we still don’t know what God looks like. How could that information have possibly been left out of the Genesis story…unless the author didn’t know.
Further, did Adam really have a fireside chat with God and did Eve really have a conversation with a talking snake? The answer to those questions is that Genesis should not be read literally (rather it’s allegorical in nature). Luminaries such as Paul, St Augustine, Philo of Alexandria and Origen all agreed that certain parts of Genesis should not be read literally. Accordingly, down through the years, there have been a myriad of interpretations concerning the Creation. Even people who still read Genesis literally have different interpretations from each other.
As a result, everyone has an opinion and they say that they’re the only one that knows the truth. Perhaps, in the final analysis, that’s the only thing that you really need to know about the Bible.
The Hebrew scribes that penned Genesis no doubt relied on older sources for their story. Among other reasons, I can say that with full confidence because Genesis was written some 3,000 years after-the-fact. Yes, 3,000 years if you can even imagine that. Besides, as the Talmud says, some Genesis passages were taken from tradition (in other words older belief systems) or older writings. So, Genesis, while it may be an interesting read, is not even an original rendering of the creation story.
“For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.”
– Origen, Christian theologian
“You shall have no other gods besides me.” (Exodus 20:3)
So, who was God referring to when he supposedly uttered those now-famous words? What other gods could there have been? Take your pick, as there were actually many different gods in the Bible!
In Genesis, God creates heaven and earth, and man of course. The thing to remember about the Genesis story is that it took place a couple of thousand years before Moses. There is a linkage there that’s often missed, though. That is, Moses lived at the time of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten who is considered by most historians to be the father of monotheism. If true, this would mean that all religious beliefs prior to Akhenaten, including that of the Israelites, were polytheistic. That should really be no big surprise as most biblical scholars believe that was the case anyway.
Therefore, the context of the Genesis story had to have been one of a belief in many gods. How could it have been otherwise? The Bible, itself, actually confirms it (e.g. it says that Abraham’s family worshipped other gods). Yet, the Genesis story has been widely interpreted as the story about the one and only god. Do you see the incongruity there? So, how should the Genesis story be correctly viewed given that the ancient Israelites were polytheistic? Let’s try to break it down.
The gods of the Bible
The god of Genesis 1 was referred to as the Elohim in the Hebrew texts. Wikipedia says this about the term Elohim, “Hebrew grammar allows for this nominally plural form to mean ‘He is the Power (singular) over powers (plural)’, or roughly, ‘God of gods.’” Along those lines, certain verses in the Bible are actually translated as “God of gods” (for example, see Joshua 22:22, Psalm 136:2 and Deuteronomy 10:17).
Things really get interesting in Psalm 82:1,6. There we find that, “God (Yahweh) standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods…I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” Here the plural form of Elohim is on full display. The twist in this verse is the use of the term “most High”, referring to the god most High. The relationship between Yahweh and the god most High can be plainly seen in Deuteronomy 32:8-9, as follows:
“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s (Yahweh) portion is his people; Jacob (Israel) is the lot of his inheritance.”
So, the writers of the Old Testament believed that the Elohim were the creator gods and that Yahweh was the ranking member of the Elohim. However, above them all was someone they referred to as the god most High. So when Yahweh proclaimed that “you shall have no other gods besides me”, it makes sense who he might have been referring to.
Gods or humans?
Something that is often overlooked about the gods of the Old Testament is how much they looked and acted like humans. One could chalk that up to fanciful writing on the part of the Old Testament writers or there could be a simpler explanation. The stories could just as well have been based upon actual contact with a life form that they didn’t understand, a life form that told man that they were gods. The Old Testament is actually replete with such stories.
In Numbers 23:19, it says that, “God is not a man, that he should lie….” The clear inference is that God does not lie, only man does. However, the god of Genesis lied about dying if you ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (see Genesis 2:17). The only logical conclusion that one can draw from this is that the god of Genesis was not God. If he wasn’t God, then, exactly who was he?
Well, there’s actually a few clues in the Bible that indicate who the gods of Genesis might have been. For starters, Genesis 1:26 says that man was created in the image and likeness of the Elohim. In evolutionary biology, the only way for life to be created is from a similar life form, more specifically one with the same DNA (e.g. every human being on this planet came from another human being and every elephant on this planet came from another elephant). Further, in Genesis 3:22, Yahweh says that man has become “like one of us” (like the Elohim). So, man’s creator gods must have been very similar to a human DNA-wise. That is, modern man’s creator gods must have been physical life forms.
The origins of man
Arguably, the greatest scientific discovery of all-time was the discovery of DNA. In 1962, molecular biologist Francis Crick and James Watson were awarded the Nobel Prize for developing a model for the helical structure of DNA, which was the jumping off point for the ground-breaking work that would follow in the field of genetics. Because of his own continued work in the field of genetics, Crick would come to believe that life on Earth may have been seeded deliberately by other civilizations. That theory is generally referred to as Directed Panspermia.
So, according to Crick, an advanced extraterrestrial civilization may have been responsible for the creation of modern man (Homo sapiens). They wouldn’t have created the universe and all life in it, but they could have been responsible for a DNA upgrade of an existing life form on this planet, an upgrade utilizing their own DNA. If so, they may have been referred to by ancient man as the Elohim (or God, to some).
Understanding the Bible
What’s missing in all of the discussion about the Bible and its creation story is this. There was more than one god. Without that understanding, there is no way to fully comprehend the bible stories.
That is, in the beginning there was the Prime Creator god who presumably said, “Let there be light.” He created the universe and was responsible for the Big Bang, whose cause was obviously beyond space and time. As life evolved, other life forms came into existence. So, eons after the initial creation, highly evolved life forms came to this planet and created modern man (from life forms that already existed here). They were not gods, but rather an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, just as Crick surmised. That’s why they looked and acted like humans (unlike the God of the New Testament who is considered to be an invisible spirit). Because they were a very advanced species, they had technology that made ancient man believe that they were dealing with gods. After all, they created modern man, didn’t they?
In the final analysis, it’s important to remember that the Bible never says that man was created in the image and likeness of God. What it actually says is that man was created in the image and likeness of the Elohim. Ancient man called the Elohim “God”… but they weren’t. This understanding is the secret that religion has not passed on to the masses…but, of course, now you know.
It was more than three thousand years after Adam and Eve before the Israelites wrote the Old Testament and adopted Judaism. Yahweh finally got his wish. He received a promotion to the “one and only god”. From that point on, the Old Testament would be considered to be a story about the one true god. There would be no other gods before us.
“Beyond all finite experiences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas and principles, there is an Intelligence or Mind, the first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas are grounded.”
It never ceases to amaze me how people can read the Bible and come up with a different explanation from what the printed words say in plain language. I guess that’s what George Bernard Shaw meant when he said that, “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says – he is always convinced that it says what he means.” Here’s a case in point.
The question has to do with God telling Adam that he would die if he ate from the Tree of Knowledge. If you recall, here’s how the conversation went:
- In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
- In Genesis 3:17, God doles out his punishment for disobeying him with regard to eating of the Tree of Knowledge: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”
The plain words of these passages tell a pretty simple story. God told man not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge (and Adam disobeyed him). The punishment was to live “a life of sorrow.” However, Adam did not die as God had warned him but rather lived to be 930 years old.
Actually, the serpent knew the truth all along and told Eve as much. Here’s the pertinent Bible verses:
- In Genesis 3:3, Eve tells the serpent, “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”
- In Genesis 3:4-5, the serpent responds to Eve as follows: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
What follows in Genesis 3:6-7 is also telling: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened….”
So, it was just like the serpent said. One doesn’t drop dead if they eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Further, what the serpent said would happen did, in fact, happen. That is, if you eat from the Tree of Knowledge “then your eyes shall be opened”…and they were indeed opened as the Bible states. The serpent also told the truth about what happens when your eyes are opened. He says in Genesis 3:4-5 that you will become gods, knowing good and evil. In Genesis 3:22, God actually confirms the truth about what the serpent said when he says, …“Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil….”
The fruit (apple) of the Tree of Knowledge is a universal symbol of temptation and the giving in to that temptation resulting in Paradise Lost, as Milton would have it. However, the use of the apple as this kind of symbol predates the writing of Genesis. For example, Greek mythology used the symbol of a serpent-like dragon that was coiled around a tree in the garden of the Hesperides protecting the divine golden apples. In fact, both Shakespeare and Milton later included the divine Garden of Hesperides in their works.
Today, most people would say that the world is not a safe place. Certainly, God, if he were here, would not look out over his creation and say that it is good. So, even religious people have to question how an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God created such an imperfect world. That’s why the Church came up with their theology of Creation Out of Nothing to explain how God was not the cause of evil. However, if God didn’t create evil, pray tell who did? Further, if Eve could be tempted by an evil being, then the temptation had to be the end-result of something that God both created (i.e. the serpent) and expected. After all, God was omnipotent and omniscient, wasn’t he?
As simple a story as Genesis is, some people still feel the need to reinterpret it. Thank you, George Bernard Shaw. After all, every story has to have a good guy and every story has to have a bad guy. Therefore, in the orthodox church, the snake has been forever known as the villain of this story. Yet, it was God that lied while the serpent told the truth. Of course, this wasn’t the first time that God deceived man. In the very beginning (Genesis 1), God originally gave the Tree of Knowledge to man, as the Bible says, to have dominion over. Who would have ever believed that Paradise could have been lost over a Tree that had been originally promised by God to man?
…”If you get mad at your Mac laptop and wonder who designed this demonic device, notice the manufacturer’s icon on top: an apple with a bite out of it.”
– Peter Kreeft
Recently, I was reading a blog that stated that at the time of the Creation God saw that it (his creation) was good. So, I posted a comment saying that, “Eventually, however, he would repent and come to see that man was evil, that man wasn’t good after all (and brought a great flood to destroy his creation). Not very omniscient I would say.”
The rest of the thread went like this:
Blogger: Prior to the fall, man was good. The flood is multiple thousands of years after the first few chapters of Genesis.
My comment: The point was, though, that a supposedly omniscient God didn’t know that man would become evil. In fact, he should have known even before he created him.
Blogger: Where on earth are you getting this insane idea that He didn’t know what was going to happen?
My comment: God saw that it was good, just as Genesis says. What, he didn’t know that it (man) would become evil? Of course, he knew since he is omniscient. So, there are a number of possibilities (your choice): (1) God lied when he said that it was good; (2) God had a plan from before the time of creation to produce a being that would become evil; (3) God is not omniscient or (4) the God of the Bible is not truly God. Which one do you choose?
Blogger: God created a being with the freedom to choose. That freedom held within it the possibility to choose evil. That does NOT mean God created evil….
The problem of evil
So, if God didn’t create evil, who did? Let’s break it down.
According to the Bible, God created everything. Yes, everything, even the serpent. By definition, then, he must have created evil. Therefore, if you believe in Satan, the Devil or Lucifer, God also intentionally created them as well (by definition). Reflect a moment and consider why he would have done that.
If God was indeed omniscient, he would have known how his creation would turn out. As the Bible says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). Biblically speaking, then, an omniscient God knowingly created evil.
The god of Genesis
There’s one catch, though. God didn’t really know how man would turn out (see Genesis 6:5-7). When he saw man’s wickedness, he regretted having created man in the first place and, therefore, decided to destroy his creation. It’s what I call a Frankenstein moment. God, only then, realized what a monster he had created. These verses clearly demonstrate that God was not really omniscient, or that Yahweh was not really God. Your choice.
Then there are what I call the “say what?” moments in the Bible:
- God created the serpent (Genesis 3:1) and saw that it was good. Remind me again how something that was supposedly evil was good. I guess that God thought it was good, though.
- God gave man the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 1:29) and later changed his mind (Genesis 2:17). Changed his mind? How is it even remotely possible that an omniscient God could, or would, change his mind. However, he didn’t just do it once. He did it at least three times that we know of. He also changed his mind with regards to the Tree of Life, placing it off-limits after the fact (Genesis 3:22-24). Then, there’s God change of heart in deciding to destroy his creation.
Finally, God lied about dying if one ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Of course, he then punished the serpent for telling the truth. So, tell me, exactly who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?
What have we learned, then, about what the Bible says about the god of the Old Testament? Let’s recap:
- God is somewhat bi-polar. One moment he loves us and the next he’s bringing a flood to get rid of us.
- God likes to change his mind. We’re good, we’re evil; you can have the Tree, no you can’t.
- God isn’t fair, which explains God punishment of the serpent (for telling the truth) and God’s punishment of Adam and Eve for a so-called act of disobedience when they didn’t have the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong.
- God lies (e.g. about dying if you ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge).
- God subscribes to the philosophy of do as I say, not as I do. That is, he violated his own commandment about killing.
So, that’s what the Bible, itself, says about the God of the Old Testament. Given all of that, exactly what kind of god are we really talking about here? Certainly, not one that I would want to emulate or pray to. How about you?
Truth be told… he wasn’t even God (the Prime Creator).
There is more than one god in the Bible. Actually, there are many gods, including Yahweh, the Elohim, the Most High god and the invisible spirit (God) of the New Testament, among others. It can all be pretty confusing to a reader of the Bible so, in my next post, I’ll try to sort it all out.
“Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?”