The final two reasons why it is altogether unreasonable to credit the God of the bible with the creation of all that there is.
4. YHWH is inadequate
Christians want us to believe that the God of the bible is the ‘First Cause’ who purposefully created the cosmos. He is, they tell us, powerful beyond imagining, capable of bringing into existence a universe of infinite proportions, with its billions of suns, trillions of planets, nebulae, dark matter, black holes and the rest.
But this vast complexity stands is incompatible with YHWH, who demonstrates all the limitations we might expect of a god devised by primitive nomadic herdsmen. He is anthropomorphic, restricted in knowledge and defeated by technology his creators didn’t possess; like other deities of the period, he is obsessed with bizarre ritual, requiring genital mutilation and the sacrificial burning of animals. He lives, alternately, at the top of a mountain or in a box, from where he is capable of smelling roasting meat, and spends his time issuing laws about sex and slavery. He is primarily a god of war, his acts almost entirely destructive, rarely creative, which is what we might expect from a people continually in conflict with their neighbours.
Whatever else such a being might be, he is not one capable of creating the universe. He is nothing more than a small and petty tribal deity – one of many recognised by the Israelites during their history – created and sustained by men who knew no better. This is the god Jesus believed in, though he relocated him in the sky (‘the heavens’) and tried to turn him into something more amenable.
Despite this partial make-over, the New Testament version of God retains the attributes and limitations of his older self. He is, if Paul is to be believed, still pre-occupied with blood sacrifice, in dictating sexual behaviour and wreaking destruction on his supposed creation. He is no more capable of creating the cosmos than his predecessor. The God that modern Christians insist brought everything into being isn’t this limited, feeble, unsavoury figure. That God is another construct altogether, a far cry from the paltry god of the bible, and one they have devised themselves, that they make appear capable of creating the universe as we now know it to be.
5. The supernatural has no independent existence.
This is the bottom line: outside the human imagination, there is no evidence the supernatural exists. Even if we do take the human imagination into account, there is no evidence of an independent supernatural realm. No-one has ever seen a god, demon or angel, in exactly the same way they’ve never seen a fairy, goblin or unicorn. They may think they’ve experienced spiritual beings ‘within’ or felt them emotionally or hallucinated about them, but this does not mean they have independent existence. Despite millennia of religious belief no supernatural beings have ever manifested themselves, been witnessed, demonstrated or measured. Gods, like angels and spirits, do not exist. It follows, therefore, that the cosmos cannot have been created by them.
Thank you for bearing with me on my exploration of why god could not possibly have created the universe. I don’t know, of course – none of us do (yet) – how it came about, but the notion that it must have been god, the Christian god no less, simply isn’t feasible:
He would have had to create something from nothing, when the supernatural and immaterial are incapable of creating the natural and material.
The bible’s YHWH is too feeble to have been responsible and God-as-creator leads, in any case, only to an infinite regress.
The supernatural is a product of the human imagination; it has no independent existence.
However the universe came to be, we can be certain no gods, including the Christian one, were involved.
I love it. well presented for easy understanding. Even I can follow it. Thanks. Hugs
Yet, there are verses in the OT that seem to indicate that God does not desire sacrifice. I’m thinking, for instance, of Hosea 6:6. “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of
God rather than burnt offerings.”
I’m also thinking of other Scripture such as Micah 6: 6-8.
“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, and ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my
body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good, And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
What do you make of these apparent contradictions in the Scripture?
It shows that the bible doesn’t, despite what evangelicals say, offer anything like a consistent view of God. Rather it shows people’s attempts to make sense of a deity they themselves created, with different groups reaching different conclusions about him. There were those, as in the verses you quote, who had a more enlightened view of what such a God might require. They were, however, at odds with those who insisted blood sacrifice was necessary to appease him.
Without analysing it fully, I’d say this latter view is the more prevalent in the OT. Indeed, the conflict is still there in the NT; Jesus appears to say that what God requires is ‘righteous’ living, whereas Paul insists the only way humans can be reconciled to God is through blood sacrifice (of his Christ).
What do you make of it?
Hi, Neil, I can agree with you in part. The Scripture does not always offer a consistent view of God, but I think this is more an issue for people who hold to a certain view of Biblical inerrancy.
I also think for many folks this is tied very tightly to Christian faith. They can actually have this view that if any error or inconsistency can be found in the Scripture, this proves that all of Christianity is false, and based on a faulty foundation. This then can lead them to reason that there is no God at all, sort of like a domino effect.
However, most people of faith I know do not think or reason in this way. As a Christian believer, I personally feel that we should look at Scripture seriously. It does contain and reflect the word of God, but I also think it records the struggles of fallible humans, attempting to understand, and to get it right. We can also learn and grow from their mistakes and struggles.
Also, often the Scripture speaks of God in anthropomorphic terms. There are descriptions and things in the Scripture that convey deep truth and meaning, but are not always literally true.
IMO God’s revelation, so to speak, and our apprehension of HIm is progressive over time, ( as illustrated in these verses, I’ve shared) and also can reflect the teaching and culture of the time as well.
So, I guess I”m seeing alot of the same issues in Scripture as you are sharing here, but this does not at all lead me to a rejection of God as the creator, or the reality of God’s love expressed in the incarnation.
Also, the church has shared differing views of the atonement of Christ over the centuries. Currently alot is being written concerning the non violent atonement, and Christ as the scapegoat to end all scapegoating and retaliatory violence. I”m studying this whole issue in greater depth.
But, I’ll tell you this idea that somehow God needs HIs Shylockian pound of flesh to forgive us, so Jesus stepped in to get us all off the hook is repugnant..(How does this square with the parable of the prodigal son, for instance?)
Scripture says that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting human sins against them…I think it was God who fully entered in human life and suffering so that we could share in HIs love and life, and to change us to be like HIm in love. I don’t pretend to fully understand all of this, and I think it’s something that cannot even be completely expressed in words.
Every image and analogy falls short of describing the thing itself. But, I can share that my Christian faith has made a deep and positive impact in my life, and is very precious to me.
Thank you for commenting, Rebecca. I’ll respond more fully soon, probably as my next post.
Awesome, I’ll look forward to it. Have a great day. 🙂
I’m actually responding to your comment below, but there is no “reply” button there, so I’m leaving this here.
The beliefs you describe sound very much like the ones I was brought up with. (Presbyterian, in my case.) It was a much friendlier belief system than the fundamentalists had, no need for obsessive literalism or strict obedience to outdated moral codes. I never had the stress about religion that I see from many ex-evangelicals.
I wanted to look at this statement of yours, however: ” I can share that my Christian faith has made a deep and positive impact in my life, and is very precious to me.” You know, back when I was 18 or so, I probably would have said the same thing.
But when I think about where this idea came from, I realize that it never came from me. At church, we constantly sang about faith, and the impact it was supposed to make, and how great it was, and how happy we were to have it. Sermon after sermon, bible story after bible story, group recitations, and then still more songs, this was the point that was hammered home, how great faith was, how much we liked it, how much everybody needed it.
And it strikes me that they were having to try too hard. When something is really great, and really makes a difference in our lives, there’s no need for anybody to market it that way. I don’t have to go to a group meeting every week to remind me of how much I love my kids, or hear sermons about how much I should like chocolate, or to sing hymns in praise of the internet. If religious faith were as wonderful as they say, I realized they wouldn’t need to be pushing it so hard.
I agree, Ubi. I think many times as kids we can become culturally conditioned into the institutional church,
But, faith has to become our own at some point if it’s going to be real and lasting.
Trust in Jesus Christ certainly can’t be based in some kind of brain washing going on or in other people’s thoughts and opinions about how great it is to be a Christian.