One God?

An amusing dialog using excerpts from the Bible to make the point that the notion of there being “one God” is far from clear in scripture.

Of course, some of our religious friends of the Abrahamic faiths might well argue that this is quirk of translation or that God is a “plurality of Oneness” or some such nonsense. In any case, the term Elohim and other such bizarre theological considerations can make one’s mind boggle if seriously delved into. Apparently, it’s much easier for many people to simply accept the Bible as the inerrant word… of God(s).

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “One God?

  1. Ti-Guy

    Historical works on the evolution of the Abrahamic God suggests that the ancient Hebrews accepted that there were many Gods but only the God of their tribe was truly all wise and powerful.

    Modern fundamentalist Christians still labour with this irrationality. They believe the Muslim God exists apart from their own; they just think he’s a lesser God, if not the Devil.

  2. Quite so. I’ve been more than a little amused when some Christians say “your God” when talking to Muslims in reference to their concept of Allah. Um, it’s the same Supreme Being, folks… At least in their particular set of religious beliefs.

  3. UU4077

    The Hebrews/Jews had “different” G-ds. The G-d of the Yahwist (aka “J”) writer was more anthropomorphic and made mistakes. The G-d of the Prietly (aka “P”) writer was monarchical. (G-d in deference to Jews because they do not write the name of God.)

    By the way, Abram/Abraham was G-d’s third try with the covenant thing! Also, you may have noticed there are 2 creation stories (J and P versions) and shades of 2 Flood stories (2 and 2 (J), or 7 clean and 2 unclean(P)).

  4. Contradictions in the Bible are innumerable. But such quibbles over “facts” and “semantics” seem not to matter to “true believers” as they aren’t in the least bit interested in such things, but instead merely want to hold some wooly notion of death-defying faith close to their hearts as it bucks up their spirits a little by making them feel their otherwise insignificant lives have some actual purpose and value, not only in this temporary realm of mundane existence, but also in some imagined hereafter.

  5. i thought eloi meant “lord”.

    KEvron

  6. redtory: “…making them feel their otherwise insignificant lives have some actual purpose and value…”

    Surely you didn’t mean to say that other peoples’ lives are “insignificant”?

  7. Tomm

    The Hindu scriptures include many Gods. But they also suggest that these Gods are all manifestations of a singular God Head. At least that’s always been my interpretation.

  8. L. emersonia

    Genesis Chapter One Verse 26.

    “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion… ”

    Gen 1:27.
    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

    Interestingly is Gen 1 v 29:
    “And God said, behold I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth .. to you it shall be for meat.”

    So, to me, it sounds like really crappy editing or they were stoned out of their minds or stoned out of it’s mind.

    God knows what they were thinking.

    h/t King James version

  9. L. emersonia

    So, Tomm, what do you think about the brouhaha at the Calgary Zoo regarding the elephant statue?

    Godfull, godless, or just a piece of art?

  10. Ted — No, I meant to say that. Sorry if it came across wrongly.

    In the context of the “grand scheme of things” I feel it safe to say that we’re all fairly insignificant creatures of little importance, although sometimes we understandably like to flatter ourselves by thinking otherwise.

    I certainly wasn’t suggesting that my life has any greater significance, purpose or value than any other person’s, if that’s what you intended by your question.

  11. KEv — Eloi is different from Elohim. The Eloi were the upper-class of spoiled, attractive humanoids living “a banal life of ease” (to quote Wiki) on the surface of the earth in H.G. Wells’ Time Machine. This as opposed to the subhuman Morlocks that toiled underground, tending machinery and providing food, clothing and infrastructure for the Eloi.

    I believe an episode of Star Trek took this dichotomy to an even more absurd level by placing the Eloi in the cloud city of Ardana (where the Morlocks were called Troglodytes).

    But I digress… 😉

  12. False Prophet

    There’s no such thing as a Biblical literalist. Those who use the Bible as a guide for their faith simply cherry-pick passages to justify their own particular prejudices. “Fundamentalist” is just short-hand for “I’ll hold the homophobic and misogynist passages in higher regard than those that oppose tyranny and poverty, and I’ll make skewed interpretations of other passages to justify opposing abortion.”

    Even liberal Christians embrace the passages about love and social justice while glossing over the sections of Bronze Age barbarism.

  13. What Ti-Guy said.

    The Bible was written over a span of 1500 years, in three languages by about 100 authors. Almost every culture goes through an evolution over a span like this.

    The earlier manuscripts are of a worldview where Elohim was one of many gods – the others being Baal-Harmon, Malduk, Molech etc. The earliest manuscripts of the Bible read much like Greek mythology where Yahweh battled against the others through human proxies. As time went on the Hebrew concept of God and their concept of humanity evolved. There was one God over all, and everyone was created in His image. The Hebrews were not to make war with pagans but act as an example of how they should live as God’s “special” people. Christianity was meant to universalize this “chosenness” by moving beyond a chosen people based on blood to one based on belief.

    Secondly, every mainline Christian acknowledges there are contradictions in scripture. What was written down in the Bible was originally passed along by oral tradition and over time variations in the details will pop up. What’s odd is how modern people act as if they are the first to discover these contradictions. I think a better question would be “Why would the writers and compilers of Scripture leave in the contradictions instead of removing or harmonizing them?” What does it say about our worldview why this matters to us and not to the ancients?

    Thirdly, I have always found the all-or-nothing approach to the Bible odd as well. Martin Luther said that not every passage in the Bible has the same value as the others. He even wanted to get rid of some books in it.

    There are sections of the Bible that are bloody or have Bronze Age morality, whose worth may be only that they give us insight into another time and culture. But there are also sections of the Bible with great wisdom – the Sermon on the Mount, the Parables, the Proverbs, Paul’s treatise on love, etc. And isn’t the ultimate goal of religion to impart wisdom? I certainly think it is. I don’t think most of my mainline Christian or Jewish friends think much about the afterlife at all. They embrace religion because of the wisdom it can impart in the here and now.

  14. Dan — Thanks as always for your informative and humanistic perspective on the matter.

    I don’t know what particular sect you subscribe to, but it seems to embody the general direction where I’d once hoped Christianity was headed before much of it started to become all weirdly regressive and fundamentalist about 30 years ago.

  15. I am an Anglican (Church of England)

    —————————————————-

    C of E here too. If I were ever to return to the fold, that’s where I’d most likely go as it has an expansive view of things. Or at least it did, and some of the more progressive elements within it still do. 😉

    Pity that it too is being consumed by radical fundamentalists and crackpot loons because they’re its most active and thriving constituency.

    Ah, church politics… that’s a whole other story.

  16. And thanks. My goal isn’t to convert anyone. I have respect for my atheist, deist and humanist friends, but I figure we all have to live together and if humanity is going to succeed we need to stop hitting each other over the head.

  17. Indeed. I would definitely agree with that sentiment and I hope you appreciate that my atheistic views are directed primarily at fundamentalists and those seeking to impose their moral/religious construct onto others, infringing their rights in the process, and not toward those believers who have found ways of achieving balance, moderation and tolerance between their faith and the beliefs or intellectual convictions of others.

  18. Navvy

    Apologies for posting in the other thread Red. But the hilarity has already begun. Should be links in there to completed “translations”.

    http://conservapedia.com/Gospel_of_Mark_(Translated)

    Such as:
    “And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.”

    to

    “Jesus then rebuked the evil spirit, “Shut up and depart from him.””

  19. No problem.

    Is this a joke, or actually serious?

    KJV:

    And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

    PCT:

    As he sowed, some seed was scattered on the path, which was eaten by the bird.

    Wow. Who knew that wingnuts were so tone-deaf and insensitive to poetry?

  20. Navvy

    I know, it stretches Poe’s Law to the extreme.

    Notice that references to “scribes” or “pharisees” have been changed to “intellectuals”.

  21. Haven’t you seen the Conservapaedia project to re-translate the Bible? They want to remove “liberal” verses, like Jesus forgiving the adulteress and anything that doesn’t match with conservative values and free-market economics. It’s bizarre.

    See: http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project

    It’s right of out of Orwell’s 1984.

  22. I have to confess that this is news to me. I’m aware of various “modern” translations of the Bible that purport to make it more accessible or whatever to a nation of semi-literate people — and that are just horrid and painfully dull to read, in my opinion — but I’d never heard of a project designed to put an explicitly “conservative” or more accurately “right-wing” spin on the Good Book.

    That’s just seriously wrong on so many levels. But then, I guess it just goes to show what levels these ideological charlatans and depraved hacks will stoop to in order to further their cynical agenda of indoctrination.

  23. “But I digress…”

    hilarious. :/

    no, on the cross, he pleads “eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani”, (“lord, whay have you forsaken me”), but some of the bystanders thought he was calling to the prophet elijah, so they mocked him.

    been 25 years, so i’m a little rusty with my stations of the cross….

    KEvron

  24. Pingback: In the Beginning was The Word… « Red Tory v.3.0

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