Can God exist if Yahweh doesn’t?
Can God exist if Yahweh doesn’t?

Can God exist if Yahweh doesn’t?

Can “God” exist if Yahweh doesn’t?

Jaco Gericke
30 Pages

Can God Exist if Yahweh doesn’t?
Jaco Gericke

“In former times, one sought to prove that there is no God
–today one indicates how the belief that there is a God arose and how this belief acquired its weight and importance: a counter-proof that there is no God thereby becomes superfluous. — When in former times one had refuted the “proofs of the existence of God” put forward, there always remained the doubt whether better proofs might not be adduced than those just refuted: in those days atheists did not know how to make a clean sweep.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

To this day, many atheist philosophers of religion still tend to try to disprove the alleged reality of the Christian god by pointing out the logical problems in divine attributes, or by
trying to argue via science or philosophy why “God” as first cause or cosmic designer or benevolent providence does not or cannot exist. This is all fine and well, but what is often overlooked is the fact that there will be no end to apologists’ reinterpretations of the concept of “God”, no end to their error theories to account for why they seem irrational and others remain sceptical, and no end to their labours to make their pseudo-scientific speculations and ad hoc hypotheses appear intellectually respectable. This means that any disproof merits only a relative efficiency value at best when it tackles the God of the philosophers. In my view, there
is a far more devastating way of showing why what most people call “God” does not and cannot exist. It involves philosophers of religion instead focussing on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and actually taking the Bible seriously (more serious than the fundamentalists do). It involves exposing the fact that the clothes have no emperor in Christian philosophy of religion, by looking at the emperor with no clothes in the repressed history of Israelite religion from which it originated. Then one lets common sense do the rest
most people can add two and two without needing the answer spelled out for them. Eating from the tree of knowledge will
always make one aware of one’s nakedness and is a guaranteed one way ticket out of the fool’s paradise.

Who is “God”?

What the western world means when it refers to fuzzily as “God” is not some untouchable ineffable ultimate reality beyond the grasp of human rational faculties that will one day catch up with unbelievers making them realize their cognitive
blindness. Rather, the entity most readers refer to when they speak of “God” is actually an upgraded, mysteriously anonymous version of what actually used to be a relatively young, quite particular, and oddly hybrid middle-Eastern tribal deity called
Yahweh. The trick was done when “God” got lost in translation –
in the Bible the
word “God” can in the Hebrew of the Old Tes
tamest be both a personal name and a generic term. A nice illusion of conceptual dignity is created in English Bible
translations where the Hebrew word “god” in the generic sense is capitalized, even when it does not function as a personal name but as the name of a species or natural kind, i.e., a god. Of course, translators only do this when used of the god of Israel who promptly becomes the God of Israel. In philosophical monotheism since Thomas Aquinas, God is considered as not belonging to a genus, despite the biblical assumption to the contrary, assuring us that we are dealing with a particular kind of god amongst others. Often other gods are
also lost in translation when rendering the Hebrew plural term for divinity as “mighty ones”, “angels” or “heavenly beings”, etc.. Many people don’t know that the expression “sons of God/the gods” in Genesis 6:14 just means “male gods” (as the expression “daughters of man” just means “female humans”). References to a “divine council” like those in 1 Kings 22:19
-22, Psalm 82, Isaiah 6; 14 also presupposes the
reality of other “gods”. Only later in the history of Israelite religion are these “gods” turned into semi-divine “messengers”. Yet even the word “angel” is misleading since these beings were nothing like what Christians today popularly associate with them. In the Hebrew Bible they are fierce humanoid male demi-gods or animal-type functionaries (cherubs/seraphs). They are also to be distinguished from the divine beings in Yahweh’s divine council(and just for the record, there are no kind women or cute baby cupid angels in the Old Testament, except for the one reference towomen in a late passage in Zachariah). To be sure, many texts in the Old Testament do not assume polytheism.However, many others assume monolatrism rather than monotheism

i.e., the belief that one god should be worshipped, not that only one god exists. People who readthe English Bibles seldom notice this. But one need not know Hebrew to recognizemonolatrist assumptions. Take the Ten Commandments, for example. If there wereno other gods assumed, readers never bother to ask why Yahweh was called a god(and not something else) in the first place, or of who he was supposed to be jealousof as the first command assumes. How is onea god no less jealous of something that does not exist? I am not denying monotheistic beliefs in the Old Testament, but the beliefs of one biblical author on this matter often contradicted those of another. The translations obscure this and I offer a literal rendering of the Hebrew: “…On all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahweh.”
(Exod 12:12 “When Elyon gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoplesaccording to the number of the sons of
El. But Yahweh’s portion ishis people; Jacob his measured out inheritance.” (Deut 32:89,about which see Hector Avalos’s chapter

“Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess?
And all that Yahweh our god has dispossessed before us, we will
possess” (Judg 11:24)

“God stands up in the council of the gods, he judges in the midst of
the gods; I have said myself, you are all gods, and you are sons of
the most high (god)” (Psalm 82:6)

“For who is like Yahweh among the sons of the gods” (Ps
“For Yahweh is a great god and a great king over all the gods.” (Ps
“All the gods bow down before him “(Ps 97:7)

“Then he will act, with the aid of a foreign god” (Dan 11:39)
These texts only make sense on the assumption that they (in contrast toother texts) assume there are other gods. It is no credit to Yahweh if he is fightingagainst, king of, jealous of, judging or greater than entities that do not exist. Of course many reinterpretations of these passages are available in apologeticliterature but these are motivated by dogma more than the need to accept theBible on its own terms.In the Old Testament taken as a whole, not only Yahweh but other nationalgods are called gods. Also, spirits of the dead, heavenly messengers or counsellors,kings and even demons can be called a “gods” (see 1 Samuel 28; Deut 32; Ps 45; etc.).
Add to the capitalization of the generic term the fact that the highly specificHebrew(!) personal name for this god –
– is recast with the generic term
“Lord” (following the Jewish tradition) and you avoid the scandal of peculiarity altogether. “The Lord your God” sounds somewhat more respectable and intimidating than “Yahweh your god.” So what is often overlooked in debating the existence of “God”, if by “God” is understood anything with any relation to biblical theism, is the fact that the entity as known today is in fact the product of a complexconceptual evolution from the variable conceptions of the god Yahweh to “God”, a panel-beaten hybrid that can be made into what can seem like philosophically respectable proportions. So what? Well, this little bit of information is more a theologically potent and philosophically significant than it seems at first sight. For it means that, in trying toprove “God” does notexist, so
long as “God” is in any way related to the entity
worshipped in modern (or post-modern) biblically-derived forms of theism (nomatter how sophisticated), the only thing needed is to show that representations of Yahweh in ancient Israelite religion do not refer to any ultimate reality outside the
text. It’s not unlike trying to prove there is no Zeus. Not even Christians can do it, but you can demonstrate belief in Zeus to be absurd by pointing out the ridiculously superstitious nature of the representations of the entity in question, i.e., his human appearance, his less than scientifically informed mind, and his non-existent divine world, thus exposing his artificial origins. Well, the same can be done with “God,” a.k.a. Yahweh.

Taking the nature of the Bible seriously
The Bible is a text, a literary artefact. The question is the relation betweenYahweh as depicted therein and the world outside the text in which we live. Onthis matter, many biblical scholars are still theists of sorts.First, there are still some fundamentalists (naïve realists). This is your average committed conservative (often “evangelical”) Christian scholar who thinks one is warranted to believe in a correspondence between representations of Yahweh in the biblical text and an alleged extra-textual reality to which the supposedly refer. The text and language are assumed to function like a window
through which you see reality as it really is. The Bible is literally the Word of God. Second, the majority of mainstream biblical scholars are theists but critical realistss. They
believe the Old Testament contains Israel’s fallible human

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