Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In the beginning...

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." This is Genesis 1:1, the very first verse of the Bible. Children memorize it. Adults repeat it. Everybody knows it. The only problem is it's incorrectly translated. The original Hebrew doesn't say "God". Rather, it says "gods" (plural). So in fact, the original is: "In the beginning, the gods created the heavens and the earth."

The Old Testament has been rewritten and reinterpreted so many times over to match the expectations of the Christian religion. But how can the religion be true when its sacred document has been rewritten and fixed up and changed?

Christians today pride themselves on their supposed monotheism. But are its roots of the ancient Hebrew religion even monotheistic? When you let go of your pre-programmed notion that the ancient Hebrews were monotheistic and begin reading the Old Testament with an open mind, you start to find that this notion of "monotheism" is anything but true.

In fact, the ancient Hebrew people did believe in multiple gods. Officially, they only *worshipped* one of those gods. But they believed many, many existed. In fact, many of those other gods they believed in are gods from other religions, carry-overs from the religions of the surrounding people that influenced the beliefs of these ancient Hebrew people. People of the time quickly and easily absorbed the religions of others. Their superstitious beliefs let them easily think that other people had their own gods, gods who really existed but were looked down upon by their own god.

These other gods are mentioned at times in the Christian Bible. (Baal is one. There are others.) But while the ancient Hebrew people actually believed these other gods existed, they simply "demoted" them to the level of demon. But the belief was there.

As you read the Old Testament, you'll see many bizarre sentences that become more clear when you accept that the Hebrew people believed in multiple gods. There are many places where God is supposedly talking to others. For example, in Genesis 11, God is worried about the people building the Tower of Babel, and he has a conversation with somebody (it doesn't say who) and refers to "us" in plural: "Come, let us go down...". In other places he warns people of worshipping other gods, and the assumption among most Christians today is that these other gods existed only in the minds of those worshipping them. But when you let go of that assumption and read the stories at face value, it starts to become clear that the authors of the Old Testament (and the people being described in the stories) actually believed these other gods were *real* -- just not to be worshipped, that's all. In other words, they believed in competing gods. Look at how the God character warned the people that he's a jealous god. It was as if he was suggesting these other gods existed and were real.

And indeed today many Christians who are particularly superstitious often believe in demons and other evil beings (Satan included) who have supernatural abilities, but aren't gods per-se. But regardless of whether they're to be called a "god" or not, they are the same thing.

And thus, the opening verse of the Bible tells much more than people today seem to realize. The ancient people believed in multiple gods, and the Hebrew people from whom the Jewish and subsequent Christian faiths emerged believed in multiple gods, just like all the other people of the time. And they believed that these gods worked together to create the universe.

It's interesting how people will spin this, however. In my book I spend some time explaining how people will rationalize such difficulties and spin it in their own minds to "make it work." I mentioned Genesis 1:1 to somebody yesterday, a Christian, and his response was that the word "gods" in plural here simply refers to the different aspects of the one true god. That's an example of completely making up a rationalization to fit what one wants to hear.

And it's totally absurd. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Something to offer

From time to time I read blogs and even editorials where the writers criticize atheism as having nothing to offer, and for believing in "nothing" while Christianity has tons to offer.

Here's a recent article on Examiner.com by somebody who seems to have studied very little about Darwin, evolution, atheism, archeology, and even the history of his own church. (His writing reminds me of when I was younger and believed that you could make outrageous claims in your writing without backing them up and people would believe it without question. No research or preparation whatsoever went into his article. What's surprising is he appears to be an older fellow; most people eventually learn this about writing, but apparently he never did.)

Other than pointing out the obvious problems (no, we don't worship Darwin), I'll focus on one point in particular that he makes:

The problem as I see it is that Atheists seem to have a great deal of passion about …ah…ah…um……nothing. You got it, they have a passion for nothing. They don’t believe in God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Heaven or Hell! So what do they believe in………nothing, that’s what.
Yeah, so? And?

I do not believe in his God that he promotes, and if he (or you all!) read my book Christian No More, it becomes very clear why I stopped believing in this God that instructs people to sacrifice their children, kill innocent people, and wipe out entire cities, all while maintaining outrageous, narcissistic rules about how to get accepted into this supposed Heaven.

Many times I've heard Christians talk about the great promise of what is to come if we believe that Jesus both existed and is the Son of God, and if we also repent our sins: Everlasting life in Heaven.

But what these people fail to realize is that they offer to us no compelling evidence that what they're offering is even real.

I've said this before in earlier blogs, and I've said it in my book, and I'll say it again: What do we have to offer? Nothing. I'm not making outrageous claims of some glorious afterlife.

But I do actually have *something* I can offer, but I'm not really the one offering it. You are offering it for yourself. And that's a life without fear and terror of what might happen to you as a result of simply being human. And a life of accepting yourself for who you are. Now that sounds pretty good.

p.s. If you like this, please Digg it. :-) Sphere: Related Content