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Jan 25 2007

Poor, Tragic Yahweh

Christians often have the impression that atheists somehow hate Yahweh, the God of the Bible. We don’t, and we can’t, because we do not believe there are any gods to hate, even if we wanted to hate them.

Actually, in a sympathetic way, I find the character of Yahweh quite likable. Like most of the ancient gods, he’s an exaggeration of humanity, with both his good side and his foibles written larger than life. He’s just mucking along, trying to get his relationship with humanity to work out, but is met with failure after failure: he fails to keep Adam and Eve in the dark about good vs. evil; he’s so upset by his sons interbreeding with human women to create the hybrid god-man race know as Nephilim, that he decides to eradicate everyone but Noah and his family; he frees the Israelites from Egypt, but when their scouts are intimidated by the forces of Canaan, he pouts and has them remain nomads for forty years until most of the responsible adults are presumed dead; he establishes the reign of kings, starting with Saul, but that idea turns out to be a mixed bag; etc., etc., etc.; at long last, he inseminates Mary to become his own son, and sacrifices himself to himself to take advantage of a loophole in his own law of sin and death–but even this convoluted gesture failed to resolve his problems with mankind; he promised to come again and set everything straight within the lifetime of the apostles, but that didn’t happen either; two millennia later, it still hasn’t happened; those to whom he speaks, once respected as prophets, are regarded as lunatics today. What a compellingly tragic figure is Yahweh.

3 comments

  1. 1
    Martin

    You know, I’d never quite looked at poor YHWH in this light. The guy really is a schmoe, isn’t he? I suppose if you were casting God in a movie, you’d have to go with someone like Rodney Dangerfield.

  2. 2
    Anonymous

    What is the loophole that you refer to in this post? Thank You.

  3. 3
    Stephen

    Anonymous,The original law of sin and death was pretty simple: you sin at all–ever–you die. The death penalty for any and every offense. Very, very simple.Yahweh changed his mind as soon as Adam and Eve sinned, though, because he figured that if he killed them immediately, there would be nobody left to prop up his ego through worship.As often happens to simple laws, it was amended, which made things just complex enough to open up a neat little loophole. One such amendment permitted substitutions: just kill a goat that didn’t do anything to anyone, and you get forgiven for whatever sins you blame on the goat. Another amendment clarified that humans are worth more than goats, and deities are worth more than a person, ranging in value from just a dozen or so people to perhaps a third of the global population.Recalling that he, as the perfect and omnipotent ruler of the universe, was indestructable, Yahweh realized that he could “sacrifice” himself, to substitute for all of the sins of everyone he likes, without actually dying! Although this clearly does not satisfy the spirit of the amended law of sin and death, the letter was satisfied just fine, Yahweh’s human buddies were off the hook, and nobody had to give up anything of value at all! Isn’t that clever?So that’s the loophole: because he is omnipotent, Yahweh cannot do anything that he cannot undo (like die), so he can be a sacrifice to himself without sacrificing anything.

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