Many people believe ridiculous things. Most of the time, we eventually shuffle off such beliefs. But some remain. In the case of Christianity, this is the belief in Yahweh. I don’t mean to be overly rhetorical, but the belief in Yahweh is patently ridiculous, much more so than the belief in God.
Primarily, Yahweh is a product parochial people with little connection to the rest of the world. In fact, the details and the ‘reality’ (vis-a-vis what people actually believed about him) of Yahweh are, for all intents and purposes, not believed any more by most Christians. What I mean by this is that most Christians are atheistic towards Yahweh in the same way they are atheistic towards Zeus, and even if they claim to believe in Yahweh, their reinterpreted version of Yahweh is so far removed from the Old Testamental version as to effectively result in a lack of accurate belief qua atheism of such a narrowly defined piece of antiquity.
This is the thesis of Dr Jako Gericke in his excellent chapter “Can God exist if Yahweh doesn’t?” in John Loftus’s superb anthology The End of Christianity. I will hopefully lay out some of the main points in the chapter in this series.
The best argument against any Christian dogma is its own history back to and from within the Bible itself. Christians’ own reinterpretations show us that even the most fundamentalist “believer” is really an atheist when it comes to Yahweh, and the most “biblical” of believers are not as biblical as they think. In the end Christian theology was brought down by Christian ethics; belief was destroyed by its own morality, which demanded we follow the truth. (p. 153)
The thesis states that there are many aspects of this God which root it within the contemporary culture and which are no longer adhered to:
- Historically who Yahweh was
- His body
- His mind
- His world
Gericke does a great job in bringing all of these threads together to create a watertight canvas upon which is painted a picture of Yahwistic inconsistency and incoherence. Towards the end of his piece, Gericke states:
But few Christian philosophers ever ask why it is that a god’s main desire is that his creations agree that he exists. Of all the things one could, in theory, worry about–and then do so little to make possible. That a god needs to be hidden and that there needs to be faith to make a relationship possible is simply a ridiculous and unbiblical notion. Moses allegedly both saw and believed in Yahweh, and they had a great relationship. So what is the problem with one-on-one intimacy on a daily basis with every human being, in a time when atheism is more popular than ever? Like Voltaire said before Nietzsche, God’s only excuse is that he doesn’t care. (p. 152)
This is a massively important point, which Gericke earlier details in pointing out that the Old Testament concerns itself with evidentialism. In other words, God reveals himself through empirically verifiable methods. Evidence first, philosophising second.
Nowadays, Christianity has been absent of evidence as God has been on holiday for 2000 years. The sort of god that Yahweh was, was an in-your-face sort of god, relating very obviously and personally with people, appearing with his booming voice. And this isn’t something which can be taken allegorically or metaphorically since these things either happened or they didn’t. Moses either did those things, or he didn’t, as reported by the Bible in which God dictated his desires rather verbally.
What happens today is that Christians believe predominantly on faith. Now they love to claim that faith is not defined as belief in something in the absence of evidence; but really, this is exactly what it means, otherwise words like hope, trust or belief based on evidence will suffice. Faith, in this case, is not necessary as a term.
So we have a scenario where God simply doesn’t turn up past the odd feeling that he has answered a prayer, or the feeling of the holy spirit or some such other physically explicable phenomena. And yet for the Old Testamental peoples, he was right there, getting involved (albeit with a consort, with physical attributes, and arrayed in heaven with only the technology of bronze-aged people, etc.). No matter how you look at it, Yahweh is the product of his bronze-age inventors, and is best explained in the same way that all other such gods are: he just doesn’t exist.
The Christian god is so far removed from the entity that was Yahweh, that he/she/it is almost unconnected; a different god concept. And modern Christians do not believe in this Yahwistic version, they just don’t like to admit it (save for the most fundamental Christians, but even they reinterpret such an ontology).
In later posts I will look at these characteristics of Yahweh which are no longer believed.