The Origin of God
Dr. Ali Sina
July 14, 2009
Though I do believe that a spiritual reality permeates this universe which I call The Single Principle, I cannot believe in the absurd notion of the deity invented by the primitive man that is being inherited by us through the relics of their primitive religions. These religions do not answer the intellectual quest of the modern wo/man and their god is outdated and rationally untenable. So when I talk about feeling God, I am not talking about Allah or Yahweh. These are figments of human imagination in the early stages of its maturity. They have no place in our modern world. They are stupid gods that cannot stand the test of reason. The Single Principle underlying the creation, that eternal spiritual reality permeating every atom of this universe is not what our prehistoric ancestors invented and a bunch of charlatans calling themselves prophets have echoed and perpetuated.
It is not true that religions were the first to introduce the concept of God to humankind. The notion of God is evolved with the intellectual capacity of human brain. People believed in spirits and assumed that behind every natural phenomenon there is a deity that makes it happen. There was a god for thunders, a god for winds, a god for fertility and a god for creation, a god for death and a god for birth. Gods were abounding and they were all the products of human’s imagination.
People prayed to these gods and offered sacrifices in their altars. They sought their protection and invoked them in their wars. Shamans and medicine men came along and took advantage of the credulity of people. They posed as the mediums between men and gods and robbed them with their lies.
To enforce their hegemony over the people they claimed to be the prophets and messengers of these gods and demanded absolute obedience and payment of money in exchange for salvation. No one could see these gods but them and they were the vicegerents of the deities among men. Of course rivalry arouse between the prophets, each claiming that their god is superior and more powerful. A contest of power is reported between Elijah the self acclaimed prophet of Yahweh and the followers of Baal in a very naïf tale in the Bible. In this story Elijah challenges the power of Baal by asking his followers to bring a bull, place it on the altar and ask the Baal to set it to fire. The followers of Baal pray all day and nothing happens. But when Elijah prays to Yahweh (Lord), the bull is immediately consumed in fire. Then Elijah having proved the superiority of Yahweh over Baal, orders the execution of Baal’s followers. (Which makes one wonder why Yahweh himself who was so powerful did not kill them?) This story is narrated in 1Kings 1Ki 18:21-40
Naturally, no rational person can believe in the accuracy of such an absurd tale. If it was so easy to prove the existence of God, then I challenge, the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims to invoke their god and ask him to perform the same miracle in front of TV cameras, (without any tricks) to settle this controversy about his existence once and for all. With the promise that if they end up making fools of themselves at the end of the day, like the followers of the Baal in the above narrative, and their god does not respond, their lives will be spared, thanks to our Universal Declaration of Human Rights that allows people the freedom to believe even in false and impotent gods like Yahweh and Allah.
In the old days there were many gods. All these gods had prophets, intermediaries and messengers. This was then, as is now, a very lucrative and enticing business. It gave the prophets immense prestige and a lot of power. In the above story it is said that Baal had 450 prophets.
Then Elijah said to them, "I am the only prophet of the LORD [Yahweh] who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets. 1Ki 18:22
In those days people prayed to several gods. At first there was little religious hostility between them. They simply prayed to each other’s gods, just in case. If their prayers were answered, they attributed it to the power of that god and promoted him amongst their own people. However, the prophets and the priests were not happy of such an arrangement. They wanted control over people. If people believed in other gods then they would also take their offerings and sacrifices to those gods. This would have damaged their [the prophets’ and priests’] business and meant lost of income. So it was imperative to dissuade people of praying to other gods. Thus we hear such harsh condemnations like the following.
Again the Israelites did evil in the LORD's sight. They worshiped images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and the gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia. Not only this, but they abandoned the LORD [Yahweh] and no longer served him at all. Jud 10:6
Actually even the famous biblical figure Solomon, worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians; Chemosh, the god of Moab; and Molech, the god of the Ammonites 1Ki 11:33 and 1Ki 11:5 Solomon even built shrines for these gods. 2Ki 23:13
In fact it was not just Solomon, but most of the Israeli’s believed in a pantheon of Gods as is clear from this King Samuel rebuking of the Jews.
Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, "If you are really serious about wanting to return to the LORD [Yahweh], get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the LORD; then he will rescue you from the Philistines." 1Sa 7:3
More confirmation that the Israelites were worshipping other gods can be found in the following verses.
They abandoned the LORD to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. Jud 2:13
Before long Israel was joining in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the LORD's anger to blaze against his people. Nu 25:3 -
See also. Nu 25:5 , 1Sa 7:4 and 1Sa 12:10
One wonders if these “other” gods really did not exist, what was the big fuss. Why should Yahweh and his priests and functionaries be so jealous of gods that really do not have any existence? The answer is that the authors of the Bible really believed that they did exist, but they did not want the Israelis to worship them for the following reasons.
If Israelis believed in other gods than Yahweh, (the gods of other nations) they would feel friendly with their neighboring nations, associate with them in amity, intermarry and the rulers would not be able to secure the integrity of the Israeli nation. To have a sense of nationality you have to have something that binds people together; something unique that is not shared by other neighboring tribes. Israelites were a small nation among many nations, all clustered in a small area. Intermixing and intermingling was inevitable. A common religion, unique to the Israelis would have given them a common cause and a sense of belonging. The kings needed an excuse to secure the allegiance of the nation and instill in them the hatred of the enemy. The religion with a different god would have provided such an excuse; a god that was superior to the gods of their neighbors - a god that was mightier than all other gods, and above all a god that was jealous and vengeful that would not tolerate betrayal.
The priests also liked the idea of a single god. So when the nation of Israel was released from the bondage of Nabuchadnezar and by the leave of Cyrus returned to Jerusalem to rebuild her temple and worship her own god, (Ezra 1) the priests of that time; Jeremiah, Ezra and perhaps others regrouped the Israelis that were split in two separate nations, Judah and Israel, each having a different country, a different king and a different deity, into one nation. They blended their bibles (religious lore) and amalgamated their gods, El and Yahweh [Lord], into one single god. They instigated in the people the hatred of other gods and claimed that their sufferings, exiles and captivities were caused as a punishment because Jews had forsaken the Jewish god El/Yahweh, (now posing as a single god). And as Samuel promised them, if they returned to Yahweh they would be victorious over the Philistines. 1Sa 7:3
This story obviously makes little sense. Why should God be the god of the Jews and not of the Philistines? But it made perfect sense to those living in 700 BC. For them, there were many gods and each nation had its own patron. Yahweh was the god of the Jews and other nations had their own gods.
A thorough study of the Bible makes it clear that Yahweh is not the same as El. These were two different deities that were later synthesized in one.
Yahweh originally was the god of war, the deity of Yahwism --a very old Bedouin religion of Arabia. His name is most likely the diminutive of "Yahweh Sabaoth." Which means, "he musters armies."
A reference to that can be found in the Ex 15:3
Yahweh is a warrior
Yahweh is his NAME
He is the exclusive God of the Hebrews. (Ex. 7:16) and it is him who plays all sorts of trick and punishes the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. It is again Yahweh who acts as the commander in chief when the Israelis led by Moses and then by Joshua invade nation after nation, massacring them and pillaging their towns and pledges to make them victories over their enemies whose lands were promised to the Jews (Ex. 23:27-33)
Yahwism was the religion of Judah the tribe that settled in southern regions of Palestine and from there it must have spread to the rest of Arabia. Yahweh is basically a chieftain very much concerned to find new homes for his clan and assist them in their wars. The old version of Yahwism was the religion of Ancient Arabia.
The god of Jacob however, was El. El was worshipped in Aramea were Jacob came from (Deut 26:5). Therefore Israelites are originally Arameans. And El was worshiped in the kingdom of Israel.
Psalms 82 leaves no doubt that indeed El and Yahweh are two distinct gods. This short chapter is the minutes taken at the counsel of gods where Yahweh is presiding. These are all sons of El, the Most High. Yahweh is admonishing other gods, rebuking them and firing them for being inept. In fact he reminds them that they are the sons of the Almighty (Elyon). This makes it clear that Yahweh is not the Most High. The Most High is El or Elyon, Yahweh's father and the father of all the gods.
At the end he cast an ominous condemnation at his sibling gods and warns them that they shall die like Mortals. The Bible does not say whether these gods actually died but Yahweh [LORD] calls upon The Most High [Elyon] to rise up, judge the Earth, for all the nations belong to him.
Psalms 82 6 I say, "You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince." 8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you!
Firing all the gods, condemning them to death and monopolizing the power in the hands of El must have been a political move by the Israel to impose its hegemony over other nations. It is possible that this decision was taken during the kingship of Jeroboam I on behalf of the Elyon to establish the superiority of Israel over Judah and most likely other nations.
Though the Psalms 82 is politically motivated, its implication on history of monotheism and the subsequent monotheistic religions is immense. From this moment on, Elyon, the sky god, the most high is to rule the entire world single handedly without the help of intermediaries. This psalm does not head off monotheism right away. But it levels the terrain for the direct rule of one god over all the nations. With this psalm the seed of monotheism is planted but the fruit of that will be harvested when Paul travels to Rome and Athens to present the Jewish god as the god of all humanity and the same god worshipped by the Athenians and Romans. Act 17:22,23
The verses in Deut 32:8 and 9 reaffirm the existence of multiple Gods -- Each of which is in charge of a nation. The following translation is from New Revised Standard
When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods;
the Lord's own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share.
This verse in other versions is translated differently.
In the Hebrew Names Version of World English Bible we read:
When Ha`Elyon gave to the nations their inheritance, When he separated the children of men, He set the bounds of the peoples According to the number of the children of Yisra'el.
For the LORD's portion is his people; Ya`akov is the lot of his inheritance.
Here is clear that the Most High is the Elyon. But unlike the translation in NRS it says that the nations of the world were divided according to the number of the children of Israel and not according to the number of the gods. I asked my friend Shlomi Tal who knows Hebrew, Arabic and Latin, just to mention a few among other languages for clarification. An hour later I got the following response:
Hello Ali Sina.
The exact wording of Deuteronomy 32:8-9 is:
32:8 b'hanhel elyon goyim b'hafrido b'ne adam yatsev g'vulot 'ammim l'mispar b'ne yisrael
32:9 ki heleq YHWH 'ammo ya'aqov hevel nahalato
When Elyon (=Upper, Most High) apportioned [the] nations,
When he separated sons of Adam (=humankind),
[he] fixed the boundaries of nations
in the numbers of the children of Israel.
For the portion of YHWH is his nation,
Jacob [is] the portion of his land.
Elyon (Upper, Most High) is a name for the God of Israel, among others. It may also be a pre-Biblical deity in which the Hebrews had believed. Compare the Aramaic deity Ilyaan in cuneiform scripts. (Ilyaan = Elyon just as Hebrew olam = Arabic 'aalam, "world"). So Elyon can be translated as "Most High", but if you're writing an article on Bible criticism then you can mention Elyon as the name of a previous deity.
"In the numbers of the children of Israel" is correct - it refers to the 70 children of Israel who are mentioned in the very opening of Exodus. That is the meaning, which both critical and pious (like Rashi, the 11th century commentator on the Torah, parallel to the Jalaalain of Islam) gave, but the critical commentators also allow for it to mean in the number of the sons of El". El was a Canaanite deity and had 70 sons.
Wherever "elohim" appears in the Bible, the Greeks translated it as "ho theos" (God, Latin Deus), whereas "YHWH" they translated "ho kyrios" (master, Lord, Latin Dominus). The God of the Hebrews has many names: Elohim (plural of elo [a]h = Arabic ilaah), El, YHWH, Shaddai. They may be names of previous separate male deities (there were also female deities, such as "tehom", abyss in Genesis 1, which is Babylonian tiamat, the Sea Godess if I recall correctly). There is little doubt the ancient Hebrews believed in many gods, but gradually a single Skygod became supreme among them (like Allah among the pagan Arabs), eventually excluding their existence altogether. What we have in the Bible is edited material striving to wipe out the old polytheism, so we have to discern the old belief through a filter. Whether the children of Israel were tossed from one god to another is unclear - a possibility, but don't count on verifying it through all this filtering.
Sources for my explanations: Torah with Rashi commentary and Olam HaTanakh (World of the Bible) Encyclopedia (secular commentary, published by Davidzon-Eti).
Shlomi Tal aka devnet, Al-Mulhid Al-Faaqidullaah.
Seems that it pays to have erudite friends, doesn't it? :-)
The fact that Yahweh is portrayed as a jealous god is clear that the Jews agreed that there are other gods. You cannot be jealous of something that does not exist.
Amazingly even Jesus believed that other nations havd their own separate gods. The concept of monotheism was evolved gradually and perhaps with no little thanks to the over zealot Christian missioner Paul the apostle.
Interestingly Even Muhammad had the slip of the tongue when one day next to Ka’ba while discussing religious matters with some prominent men of Quraish revealed this verse:
And see ye not LAT and OZZA,
And MANAT the third besides?
These are the exalted Females,
And verily their Intercession is to be hoped for.
This story is reported by both Katib al Waqidi p. 89; and Tabari, p. 140.
This open concession and the acceptance of Lat, Ozza and Manat, surprised and pleased the Quraish who unanimously bowed in prostration when Muhammad ended his speech with these words: “Wherefore bow down before God, and serve Him.”
Quraish were happy for this concession and avowed to end hostility.
Some narrators say that on the very night of that day, Gabriel appeared to Muhammad and said: “What is this that thou hast done? thou hast repeated before the people words that I never gave unto thee.” (Muir p. 151) And Muhammad realizing that these verses were put into his mouth by Satan, retracted from what he said, disowned the whole proceeding, and called those verses “Satanic Verses”.
However, the fact that the tidings of the reconciliation between the Muslims and the Quraish reached Abyssinia and many of the immigrants returned to Mecca makes us deduce that Gabriel did not appear to Muhammad on the same night and this state of peace between the Quraish and the followers of Muhammad went on for a while. Until Muhammad realized that by accepting the three goddesses, the daughters of Allah, he is shooting in his own foot and making superfluous his own raison de etre. So he claimed that Satan put those words into his mouth and the real verse as revealed by Allah should have been:
“And see ye not LAT and OZZA,
And MANAT the third beside?
What! Shall there be male progeny unto you, and female unto him?
That were indeed an unjust partition!
They are naught but names, which ye and your, Fathers have invented.” (Q.53: 20-22)
These verses were not only more in line with the misogynist nature of the prophet, but also through them the prophet could reaffirmed himself as the sole intermediary between Allah and man.
In conclusion the concept of God did not descend from religions. Both religion and god are the inventions of man. They both evolved as human intellect kept growing. But today we have advanced to a stage that we no more can accept those antiquated and unverifiable dogmas of our forefathers. We can easily and logically disprove the existence of the god given to us by our ancestors and then enforced by the religions, but there is not a shred of evidence that can prove the existence of such deity.
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