Sketches on Atheism

The Middle Eastern Christian god: A Review.

Cópia de whiteFew tacitly proselytised Christians ever recognise it because few baptised-without-consent Christians ever bother to take even a modest step back to gaze at their assigned religion with even a mildly independent eye, but if they did they’d see that there exists no external reason to have ever heard of, let alone believe in the particular Middle Eastern god detailed in the bible outside of the claims made in the bible itself. The god of the Pentateuch (re-invented in the New Testament, then again revised in the Qur’an) is invisible and inaudible. It gives off no odour and has no perceptible taste. It generates no heat signature, produces no electromagnetic field and provokes no resonance at any frequency. It cannot be detected with any instrument and no measurement of any natural phenomena has ever indicated its presence. Its influence cannot be inferred from any secondary observation, no earthly geological record speaks of its intervention, and no examination of any biological or astronomical system has ever alluded to its agency. It is massless, it displaces neither liquids, solids, gas nor plasma and has no perceptible gravitational effect on anything. No disturbance in the fabric of spacetime suggests it’d once moved through any region of the cosmos, and the last remaining place where the Christian god could possibly reside (undetected) is a place where the Christian god cannot reside; beyond the last Schwarzschild radius of a black hole where events can no longer affect an outside observer. Temporally speaking, the god of the Pentateuch is entirely absent from all but the last 1.25% of human history, and even after its literary debut in the 6th Century BCE failed to register as anything other than a minor Middle Eastern artistic anomaly envisaged by no other culture on the planet. It didn’t materialise independently in mainland Europe, emerge unassisted on the British Isles, or rouse a single word across the entire Far East. It inspired no one in any of the 30,000 islands of the South Pacific, energised nothing across the African continent, stirred naught in North America, and didn’t move anything or anyone in Central or South America. No one across the vast Indian Great Plains or Russian steppes ever heard of it. No Azorean fisherman suddenly spoke of it, no Scandinavian shipwright carved its name in a stone, no Japanese mother ever thought she’d heard it speak in whispered tones, and no Australian aborigine ever dreamed of it. Outside the pages of the bible there is positively nothing in the natural or anthropological landscape which might even remotely lead a person blissfully ignorant of the claims made in bible to suspect that that particular Middle Eastern god has ever inspired anything except the imaginations of a few linguistically specific Iron Age Canaanite hill tribes looking to add a little supernatural spice to their otherwise perfectly terrestrial lives.

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93 thoughts on “The Middle Eastern Christian god: A Review.

    • Indistinguishable from nature also 😉

      Good to see you back, Raut. Was starting to think you might have just thrown the line and sailed off toward the south in search of permanent warm weather.

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      • Haha! One more sailing trip for me before the autumn storms begin and then the ship has to be taken up before the sea freeses over. Or as we say, the Finnish summers are short, but fortunately there usually is not much snow…

        Indistinguishable from nature, indeed. Mind you this Middle-Eastern god alledgedly has a lot of natural traits, that we share whith our relatives the apes, like jealosy and an innate need for vengeance.

        One thing about the god of the gaps, religious people seem unable to grasp, is that one is not warranted in a belief to something, just because it might be hiding beyond our knowledge. Anything might be hiding beyond our knowledge. Anything.

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      • Ah yes, god of the gaps: the Discovery Institute goes to great lengths to hide their “creationism” agenda by replacing the words “Christian god” with “supreme intelligence.” Both fail to actually describe anything.

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  1. 😀

    What’s this you say no god at all
    What foolishness you impart
    I know he’s true and oh so real
    I feel him in my heart

    What’s this you say no god at all
    Your head is in a hole
    I know he’s true and oh so real
    I feel him in my soul

    What’s this you say no god at all
    For me no ands, ifs or buts
    I know he’s true and oh so real
    I feel him in my guts

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  2. …there exists no external reason to have ever heard of, let alone believe in the particular Middle Eastern god detailed in the bible outside of the claims made in the bible itself.

    One might be tempted to think of this fact is a clue…

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    • Mythological creatures aside, it does seem to be the first thing that should (under normal operating conditions) catch someone’s attention. Odd that something so obvious is missed so easily. I actually wrote a whole string on this thought, that the most obvious witch’s warts are the very things that are essentially invisible, but i cut it all for the sake of brevity.

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      • Will they one day say the same thing about all the government and otherwise official buildings we have dotted around the globe, and take it as testament that these people knew what they were talking about? Scratchy-head time!

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    • Some creation myths and the gods contained within are more logically sound than others, though. The personal, wilful, mindful, interfering Middle Eastern Christian god is patently absurd. However, the earliest of the Hindu creation myths sung in Vedic hymns have some real power to them and are at least metaphorically and rationally logical. My favourite is this:

      In the beginning there was a swirling dark chaos. Enveloping this thing that was neither non-existence nor existence there was a cosmic man, a giant named Purusha who had a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet. Although there was nothing he pervaded everything and even stretched ten fingers’ breadth beyond. Purusha was all that was and all that would be, which presented certain, unavoidable problems. Before doing something, anything, Purusha realised that he would have already done it. The future was the present and the present was the past. Doing everything but nothing at the same time left Purusha just one option for his first (and last) ever action: he sacrificed himself, and from his body parts came all that is.

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    • I sometimes feel bad for mythology that – like the term ‘belief’ and ‘theory’ – really has two significant meanings. Yes, myths are factually false and so are entirely fiction in this literal approach. This is the first meaning often applied to other fictions held to be literally true like many of the stories in the OT. In this sense it has a negative connotation.

      But myths are different when their second meaning is appreciated: they are the public expression of communal traits in the form of symbolic stories that are a rich source of wisdom in how to live well. They are special stories of metaphor because they are interactive. We assign meaning to the symbols and we experience insight into the meaning of the stories and this why the Genesis creation myths are quite rich compared to, say, the story of Job’s travails. Myths possess symbolism as their central feature and are easily recognized as such as soon as we encounter supernatural elements. Of course, one must be rather obtuse and relatively ignorant of mythology to assume a literal reading but this second meaning has a very positive connotation that is often ignored and unappreciated. I appreciate myths and just wanted to mention why they are worth remembering apart from the negative meaning often assigned to it.

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      • I agree with you that the second meaning of mythology is too often ignored. The point is however, that christians believe that their stories are just more than symbolic stories, whilst they often denounce other stories as “myths”.

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      • I adore mythology and folklore. One of the greatest expressions of human inventiveness, and the cultural value is simply priceless.

        “Fairy tales are true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” (Neil Gaiman)

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      • Yup, the hero’s journey all of us must undertake to grow up and become autonomous agents in the world. And yes, as the maps of old clearly stated, “Here be dragons” as we step into the unknown and the uncertain that is life – two necessary states to have to experience and move about but switched by religious belief with cut-outs labeled The Known and Certainty as stand-ins for what’s real and true. Believing these stand-ins are the ‘real’ reality is called faith and it diverts us from living and experiencing the hero’s journey by urging us back into Mom and Dad’s basement in the name of comfort and security.

        Now imagine deciding which movie plot line we want to watch: the one with a plot line based on comfort and security confined in a basement pretending to be the world or adventure and heroism in the world? For non myth readers, our death beds will be the very first time we will have come to the realization that we actually made this choice.

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    • Indeed. It was never actually meant to be taken on the road, rather invented to justify a northern land grab in the early 6th Century. In fact, the Middle Eastern god is about as welcoming as syphilis to all but Jews.

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  3. John,

    I like this post quite a bit – a nice subtle flavor of humor which is really generated from a bunch of facts. Some of it describes very well why I don’t claim belief in any gods at all. I may “lift” some of it for a future blog post of my own if you don’t mind – I’ll link to give you credit of course. 🙂

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      • That was a satirical observation (bites own tail in remorse); it just fell out by bitter reflex.

        I actually think it was a brilliant compilation that like the biblical stones will fall on seedless ground.

        We (if the human race is to ever find peace) need to find a way to get through. Pointing out the obvious won’t do it. It’s an emotional thing but the religiosi have too tight a grip on the only hope there is, which is education.

        If we do nothing else we must get folk to think, qua think for themselves. Not easy. Actually, impossible~?

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  4. But… but… I feel this burning in my bosom. John. How can you deny that?

    Oh, wait… never mind. It was probably that three-alarm chili I had for supper last night.

    Cheers! And thanks for another excellent post.

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  5. I do not subscribe to any philosophy abot men in the sky watching my every move (we have governments for that stuff) but there is something about eastern mystery traditions that fascinates me. They do not claim to have life after death answers per say, but that there is a mystery about that final moment in life. Revel in the fact that we cannot know what happens next, and enjoy this moment. Past and present are only memories and speculations. Now is an infinite string of events; each moment destroying the last leaving us with an ever evolving present.

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  6. Bravo, John!

    If a thing can’t be proved scientifically for everyone’s benefit, then the world is being served a massive dose of shredded fish bollocks posing as beef on a bed of ignorance with a side dish of gullibility.

    Can people think of nothing better to use their imaginations for?

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  7. I believe in God. I was baptized in a river in my teens, then recommitted my baptismal vows years later during Lent in the Episcopal church. No one coerced and my parents weren’t even there. I’ve come to understand as a mature adult, I was influenced by my culture – how could I not be? Even now the culture of atheism interests me as I’ve become a theologian. I’ve graduated from religion, glad of my time in it.

    To me God is the cosmic glue, the quantum physics of the universe. I’ve heard an atheist Buddhist describe the universe/s as a sentient being. These kinds of terms have more meaning for how I experience God, than more traditional religious lingo.

    You’re more eloquent than I, but I wanted to say I appreciate your essay and agree with your allusion that some religious anthropomorphize God. I struggle not too, but one must have words.

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    • A rarefied gem you are, Miss Keene. Anthropomorphic concepts are the first to go in any honest evaluation of the myths at hand. A personal, willful, wishful, interfering, invisible sky father is ludicrous, but there is merit in your idea of a glue. Personally, the only concept which might make sense to me is the god described in Gods Debris; a “thing” (let’s just call it that) which annihilated itself (which is in keeping with the Vedic ideas) and is now unconsciously re-assembling… we are primitive stirrings of that consciousness trying to recognise our-self. Poetically that’s beautiful. Socially it’s brilliant because it encourages only right action and relation with all living creatures in the here and now. Is it true? It was a story. Does the universe require a conscious actor? No, is the answer cosmology is teaching us, but the book’s not closed.

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  8. In an Anthropology of Religion class I once took, we reviewed various examples of modern religious diffusion; specifically, Christianity’s spread through Mexico and South America. The Virgin of Guadalupe, for me, was one of the more interesting stories. Juan Diego, a recent native convert, was supposedly visited by a supernatural alma. He got the Church involved, those dummies built a chapel directly over the ruins of an old Aztec temple, which just so happened to be in the same location as a shrine to an Aztec goddess. The natives worshiped at this Christian church, but they still referred to “The Virgin” by her Aztec name. Anyway, I specifically remember them justifying this worship (including calling the virgin by her Aztec name) because they said it was proof that Christianity came to the Americas before the Spanish. That is, the Aztec goddess was ALWAYS the Virgin of Guadalupe, and she was just waiting for Juan Diego to come around and let everyone know.

    Soooooo, this article is wrong. Christianity was spread, at least in the Americas, divinely; and, moreover, long before anyone from Europe set foot there. Neener neener!

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  9. I love the way you can recycle the same old argument time and again, it takes real skill you know. I like the way you did it this time though from a literary point of view, beautifully penned. You have some cracking poetic structures going on in that there post of yours, makes me go jelly-kneed 😉

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    • What same old argument; theism isn’t natural? Sure, its tasty low fruit, but i did at least add the physical things, too! Actually just lifted this from something larger i’m writing. Had to post something.

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      • It’s good, I like when you don’t cut and paste. Obviously I understand that you are a busy busy man just as Argie suggests God is, but you should exercise your literary skills here on your blog more often.

        As for atheism being natural… well no less than anything else. Thing is we eat, sleep, breathe and shit metaphors, can’t seem to get away from them. Unfortunately and fortunately language is one long string of metaphors, so getting anything salient out of it is difficult without attaching an emotional value to it, which also is impossible not to do. So that being said, whether something holds weight and rings true is down to the lowly individual. But the salad is tasty, and the dressing most entertaining. Bring on the croutons!
        😉

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      • Atheism is no more natural than my body being more of less symmetrical and both my feet pointing in the same direction…. Oh bugger, shit, dammit! I used a metaphor, sorry 🙂

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      • I like the way you think in concentric circles. Like a fisherman you cast your net far and wide and gradually draw it in to a finely focussed point. You are a Poseidon of the alphabeti-soup! 🙂

        How’s that for a bunch of metaphors? Now for the cheesy garlic bread…

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  10. Pingback: Hurt me with the truth… Don’t comfort me with a lie | the superstitious naked ape

  11. Pingback: Why I Don’t Believe in God(s), Part 2 | Truth Is Elusive

  12. @ John Zande
    “The god of the Pentateuch (re-invented in the New Testament, then again revised in the Qur’an) is invisible and inaudible. It gives off no odour and has no perceptible taste. “ Unquote

    The Christian God (they wrongly name it Jesus) is not the One-True-God of Moses (OT); and definitely not of Quran. Quran’s God is not physical or spiritual; He is only attributive hence no human instrument could detect Him. Quran mention it:

    [6:103] Such is Allah, your Lord. There is no God but He, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Guardian over everything.
    [6:104] Eyes cannot reach Him but He reaches the eyes. And He is the Incomprehensible, the All-Aware.
    [6:105] Proofs have indeed come to you from your Lord; so whoever sees, it is for his own good; and whoever becomes blind, it is to his own harm. And I am not a guardian over you.
    [6:106] And thus do We vary the Signs that the truth may become established, but the result is that they say, ‘Thou hast learnt well;’ and We vary the Signs that We may explain it to a people who have knowledge.
    [6:107] Follow that which has been revealed to thee from thy Lord; there is no God but He; and turn aside from the idolaters.

    http://www.alislam.org/quran/search2/showChapter.php?ch=6&verse=103

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    • Paarsurrey, we’ve been through this before: the god of Islam is the god of Abraham. That means the god of Islam is the god of the Pentateuch. There are precisely ZERO other references to this god. Either you produce another reference to the god of Abraham who is NOT Yhwh, or just accept it: you worship the same Hebrew god (a polytheistic god, no less) as Christians and Jews.

      And please don’t post nonsense quote from the Qur’an.

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