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God Doesn’t Exist: Christianity Looks Invented

Let me propose this axiom: a human-invented religion will look radically different from the worship of a real god.  That is, human longing for the divine (or human imagination) will cobble together a very poor imitation of the real thing.

Let’s first look at an example in the domain of languages.  Imagine that you’re a linguist and you’re creating a tree of world languages.  Each language should be nearer languages that are related and similar, and it should be farther from those that are dissimilar.  Spanish and Portuguese are next to each other on the tree; add French, Italian, and others and call that the Romance Languages; add other language groups like Germanic, Celtic, and Indic and you get the Indo-European family; and so on.

Here’s your challenge: you have two more languages to fit in.  First, find the spot for English.  It’s pretty easy to see, based on geography, vocabulary, and language structure, that it fits into the Germanic group.  Next, an alien language like a real Klingon or Na’vi.  This one wouldn’t fit in at all and would be unlike every human language.

Now imagine a tree of world religions.  Your challenge is to find the place for Yahweh worship of 1000 BCE.  Is it radically different from all the manmade religions, as unlike manmade religions as the alien language was to human languages?  Or does it fit into the tree comfortably next to the other religions of the Ancient Near East, like English fits nicely into the Germanic group?

You’d expect the worship of the actual creator of the universe to look dramatically different from religions invented by Iron Age tribesmen in Canaan, but religious historians tell us that Yahweh looks similar to other Canaanite deities like Asherah, Baal, Moloch, Astarte, Yam, or Mot.  What could he be but yet another invented god?

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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About Bob Seidensticker
  • Bob Calvan

    Well, the fact is the Triune Monotheistic Creator is unique from all man made gods. The liberal religous historians is you satandard of factual truths? Like my historian can beat up your historian? How foolish. THe fact is the Bible ( the Absolute standard of truth) tells us that the Creator is the only God ( monothesim) and this God exist in 3 persons. And the Creator of time stepped into time and took on the form of a man and redeemed His Elect. No other man made religion does this. And the Triune God destroyed the Canaanite’s for there idolatry and child sacrafices to one of thier polytheistic gods Molech. THere is only one true God (YHWH) who created all things and controls all things. And we are all made in His image and we all know Him, and His moral law is written on our hearts. But the unbeliever rejects Him and worships and creates false gods. As Atheist Bod is a great example of this.. He spends all this time trying to disprove something he does not even believe in? As Douglas Wilson said about Richard Dawkin’s.. Dawkins says there is no God, and hates this God.

    • http://crossexaminedblog.com bobseidensticker

      You identify some unique characteristics of Christianity and say, “No other manmade religion does this.” OK, I’ll accept that. And we can move on to other religions and find their unique traits.

      What’s the point? I already accept that Christianity is different from other religions (otherwise, we wouldn’t give it a different name). That’s hardly a claim that it’s true.

      Your frequent ejactulations of faith don’t make much of an argument. Are you simply looking for a soapbox? Or do you actually have an argument to make?

      I’m not sure why my interest in this subject is puzzling. You’re right that I don’t spend time worrying about belief in unicorns. But belief in unicorns doesn’t have a huge impact on American society. Belief in Jesus does.

  • RandomFunction2

    Hi Bob,

    Actually, there are many things that sets the biblical religion apart from other near-eastern religions. For instance YHWH forbids witchcraft. He forbids sacred prostitution. He forbids the worship of other gods. The creation of the world is described very simply and “rationally” in comparison with the Enuma Elish (the Babylonian epic of creation). There is no speculation about what came before God, contrary to Egyptian and Babylonian religions. God wants his chosen people to obey his laws as part of a covenant (pagans did not always see the connection between their gods and moral rules). The Bible invented linear time, (even if it’s not impossible that Zarathustra co-invented it as well). The Bible says you cannot and ought not to make pictures of God. Think about it. In nearly all the other ancient religions, there are pictures and statues of gods. Now a prophet turns up and says: my god is so different from ordinary gods and from people that he cannot be imagined.

    So yes, biblical religion IS special. Which is not to say that in other respects it was not influenced by paganism.

    • http://crossexaminedblog.com bobseidensticker

      We can agree that early Judaism wasn’t identical to any other religion. I’m just trying to figure out if it could logically be said to be in the same family as the other (manmade) religions of that place and time.

      The 10 Commandments doesn’t prohibit the worshipping of other gods. In fact, it acknowledges them. It only says that Yahweh must be your main squeeze. The OT documents the transition of Judaism from being a henotheistic (or even polytheistic) religion to being monotheistic.

      I don’t know much about the Enuma Elish, but I thought that Genesis shared the idea of a water-world chaos with that book.

      I’m sure we agree that religions change. And that new religions can pop up pretty quickly (Mormonism and the other American religious variations of the 19th century might be examples). The question is: are the changes that we see in Judaism what we’d expect as variations on the Canaanite religions of that time? Or is Judaism so radically different that it couldn’t have evolved from its peers?

      That Judaism changed at all seems to answer the question for me.

      • RandomFunction2

        Hi Bob,

        Read the Enuma Elish. It’s not very long. And then you will be able to appreciate how rational and simple the genesis accounts of creation are in comparison with that. Genesis is one of the least absurd tales of creation back in the first millenium B.C. Part of its brilliance is that it does not speculate about the origin of God. You may think it trivial, but in many mythologies, there are narratives explaining how gods arose in addition to the world and people.

  • RandomFunction2

    Hi Bob the atheist,

    So, frankly, I don’t think it is one of your strongest arguments.

    • http://crossexaminedblog.com bobseidensticker

      OK, I appreciate the input.

      But note that this is either an argument for me or one for you. Unless the historical record is too incomplete to make a judgment (quite possible), ancient Judaism either looks like just another religion of that time and place or it looks radically different–as unlike the Canaanite religions of that area as it is the religions in Asia or the Americas.

      One of us needs to be making this argument. If it fails for me, then you need to be using it!

      • RandomFunction2

        Hi Bob,

        But in many ways, the biblical religion was a reaction against near-eastern religions rather than just a remix of them. Now, I don’t claim that God told the Hebrews what to believe the way you talk to someone on the phone. But it’s possible that God inspired to the prophets some insights about what was NOT the truth. And those insights became more specific as the chosen people grew wiser. So revelation should not be understood as the hearing of a voice in the sky. But more like a new awareness in the heart of some prophets. A new awareness that enables them to critique false religions.

  • Bob Calvan

    Bob,

    I forgot who said this? “But there is nothing new undeer the sun”.. The Atheist has the same old arguments..And one is Christianity was just coppied form ancient religions or mythologies.
    Your buddy Dan Barker ( president of the freedom from religion foundation) debated Dr. James White. On this issue..The debate was called ” The story of Jesus is cut from the same stories as other ancient mythologies”.
    Dr. White spanked Dan Barker in this debate. Every example was debunjed with Historical evidence. I sugest you listen to it.

    • http://crossexaminedblog.com bobseidensticker

      Dr. White spanked Dan Barker? Well, I guess that settles it then. Case closed!

      Let me know if you have a link to the whole thing.

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  • Bob Calvan

    http://www.aomin.org. Go to store and get the MP3 on the 3 hourd debate.

  • Jon Cohen

    Here is a list of places in the Bible were it says that is only one God:

    http://www.bible.ca/trinity/trinity-oneness-unity-one-god.htm

    Apart from the one word “before” instead of “beside” in the Ten Commandments, what mention is there for the possibility another god?

    The Bible also says that God spoke directly to Noah, and so from that you would expect that all religions that developed after point would share a lot in common, just as a flood story. Within that context, monotheism (and thus the non-deity of kings), prohibition against human sacrifice, and rejection of idolatry really set it apart as more than just a few idiosyncrasies.

    • http://galileounchained.com bobseidensticker

      That mention of having “no other gods before me” in the first commandment is indeed an important clue.

      Here are lists of references where the Bible claims one god and multiple gods.

  • Bob Calvan

    Yup,the Bible mentions other gods, And they are false gods. They are man made idols. Either material or invented in ones mind. As the Bible teaches. THere is only 1 God
    the Triune God of the OT and the NT. Sorry Bob all your scripture you used is in perfect harmonywith the infallable truth that there is only one God..YHWH.. If you wish post any of them and I will show you the consistent harmony of Monothesism. Which is taught all through the Bible.

    • http://galileounchained.com bobseidensticker

      Well, at least we agree that humans invent gods.

      As for using the Bible, first you have to show us that it is an authority. You’ve only claimed that, not provided evidence.

      I’m not sure what “harmony” has to do with things. I’m still stuck on your need to provide “evidence.”

  • Bahama

    “As for using the Bible, first you have to show us that it is an authority. You’ve only claimed that, not provided evidence.”

    What evidence would you accept the Bible as an authority?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      Great question! As I mentioned in another post, I can’t think of anything that would convince me that the Bible (or the Hindu Gitas or the Muslim Koran or any other book with supernatural stories) was history and not legend.

      But perhaps you can think of something.

      • RandomFunction2

        Maybe if the Bible teaches something that no human could possibly know? But even then, it would not rule out alien/spirit influences… But at least, it would be a first step.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        That would indeed be intriguing. But the Bible simply documents facts known to this primitive tribe (plus a few superstitions, like Jacob’s trick with the strips of wood in Genesis 30:37–9).

        You’re quite right that science centuries ahead of its time would be intriguing (but would point to aliens more than supernatural forces). The Bible doesn’t even document basic hygiene practices or give the recipe for soap!

      • Bahama

        ok. Let me try and rephrase it. What criterion should we use to make judgement about its authority?

        How do you accept other things as authoritative and what is the criteria for those?

        What im really trying to get at is this: what are the preconditions for us, as humans, in order for us to know that things are real.

        Your statement “i cant think of anything that would convince me that the Bible….was history” seems to automatically assume that there is some standard of authority that the Bible must be judged upon. I want to know what *that* standard you are using.

  • Bob Calvan

    How do you know that Bob? Were you there to empirically see these things? Again just your subjective opinion.

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      Huh? You’re asking how I know that Jacob thought that animals mating while looking at strips of wood would change the appearance of the offspring? I don’t! I’m just refering to a Bible story. The idea is laughable, of course. Just a superstition of the time, I imagine.

      If you’ve said anything more in your last comment, I didn’t get it. In that case, please restate.

      • Bahama

        which verse is that?

      • Bahama

        nevermind. didnt see the post above

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Bahama said, “How do you accept other things as authoritative and what is the criteria for those?”

        The main relevant point for me is that historians reject supernatural stories.

        In a history book, you might certainly find supernatural stories (“It was said about King Arthur that he had a magician compantion, Merlin, who was a shape-shifter” for example). But you will never find these stories passed along as historians’ best guess at what actually happened.

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