The Chosen People Choosing gods
Steve Carell is a very funny actor. I loved him in Bruce Almighty and Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy. He starred in the hit sitcom, The Office. Steve starred in the movie, Evan Almighty, a spin off from the Jim Carrey flick Bruce Almighty. In it, Carell plays the Old Testament character Noah. Is the modern world ready to hear about God flooding the earth and drowning millions of people? People here in the 21st century don’t want to eat popcorn and see that kind of divine carnage. No, God is more moderate these days! You see, according to the Bible, god killed everything except eight people, some animals, and various vegetation. There is nothing funny about believing in a genocidal being like that. That, however, is the god of the Bible, the god of Judeo-Christianity. He sets the standard for vengeance, wrath, jealousy, and judgment. That cute little bedtime story that parents read to their children has a hauntingly macabre message.
The flood story in Genesis is obviously mythological. It is, however, believed by millions to be literally true. Consider the contradictions in the following verses. The first verse states by sevens. The latter claims two and two.
Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.” (Gen 7:2)
“Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, there went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.” (Gen 7:8-9)
It would be impossible for a ship the size of the biblical Ark to contain even two of every kind of species. In the time of Noah, there were millions of species in the world. Even on a boat as large as the ark described in Genesis, they couldn’t possibly have enough room for that. And how did the marsupials of Australia or other isolated species get on the Ark? At that time there was no way for animals found only in Australia to cross oceans and arrive at the ark. And there is no fossil record to suggest that those animals arrived at those countries after the alleged flood.
The Bible said that Noah loaded the entire ark with two (or seven) from each species within a 24-hour day. This would have required him to have taken into the vessel hundreds of species per second. That is hardly possible. Also, Noah’s wife, three sons, and three daughters-in-law entered the ark. Each person would have had to feed, water, and remove the excrement from millions of animals each day. This is hardly possible. That is because the biblical flood story is a myth.
There is no record of a universal flood in ancient Egyptian, Indus or Chinese history. If a worldwide flood really occurred, then all of these civilizations would have been completely destroyed. The entire population of the world would have consisted of eight Hebrew people. The post-flood culture would have been very different from the pre-flood society. The archeological record would definitely show a sudden change from ancient Egyptian, Indus, and Chinese artifacts, to no signs of civilization (flood destruction), to a post-flood Hebrew culture. But Archeology doesn’t record that those cultures were interrupted at all. They continued in succession throughout that period (2350 B.C.E.).
Consider the Babylonian flood legend Epic of Gilgamesh. This famous story is dated way before Noah’s time (hello?). Nearly 300 different cultures have told and handed down flood stories. The account of Noah became the most famous for the same reason Judeo-Christian religions became the most prevalent in today’s world: Jewish and Christian cultural victories have prevailed through the ages. The Jews emerged from Canaan as the triumphant pagan tribe. Their success in war gave them religious leverage. The Christians later conquered Europe through wars and crusades. Every time they won, a declaration of their God was shouted in praise. They, as the winner, emphasized their version of history. The actual history, however, often gets recorded despite the victors. Truth seeking historians examine more than just the winner’s side of the story.
But what about these contradictions, errors, and inconsistencies in the Bible? It stands to reason in any culture that if a book is to be considered the “Word of God” it must be without error of any kind. Any claimed breath of deity intolerably faces the ultimate scrutiny of perfection. If it shows itself to be contradictory or inconsistent it simply cannot be considered divine, much less worthy of elementary school curricula.
I define a flat contradiction to be the strongest form of contradiction. A flat contradiction can be observed in the following two statements:
On Friday, February 13, 2009, Janet, daughter of David, will be 21 years old.
On Friday, February 13, 2009, Janet, daughter of David, will be 37 years old.
If a flat contradiction is not considered an error by Bible readers, then what is? Here the fundamentalist theist must ignore his mind and exchange it for nonsense. He retreats into piousness while dispensing subtle arguments that are circular and evasive. The burden of proof is always on the person making the outrageous claim. In my view, fantastic stories must be held to the highest criticism. When someone claims a miracle, miraculous proof must be provided. Otherwise, people will just continue to sell their lies which leads to further confusion and ignorance.
Because the Jewish people have survived in one form or another throughout millennia, their influence in the world has been highly significant. The early Christian Jews crafted their messiah to be a fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophets, laws, rites, and names of God. Through their writings, the early Christians thus continued the tradition of Hebrew religion in the world. When Rome embraced Christianity in 324 C.E., the Western world became a Jesus machine. Because Judaism is the foundation of Christianity, Zionism is a built-in reproductive philosophical feature that resides within the evangelical design.
The Jews were basically indistinguishable from other pagan tribes before 1000-800 B.C.E. They emerged from the pagan tribes in the Mediterranean to become the victorious history writers of Palestine. As you probably know, the winner usually gets to pen the history. Theirs is a bloody tale of war, wondering, and animal sacrifice. Blood spilled onto the battleground as fast as it spilled from the altar. The pagan tribes sacrificed animals and people to the Canaanite Pantheon (pagan gods). Yah (later, Yahweh) was one of the pagan deities in the Pantheon. The pagan deity known as Yahweh originated from the names and attributes of pagan gods. This often comes as a shock to religious readers though it is historically true. Believers have been claiming for centuries that the god of the Bible has always been the same god. That is simply not the case. Historically, the record shows a transformation in both Yahweh’s attributes and in the way he was worshipped. The Jews are an amalgamation of many pagan tribes and Yahweh is an amalgamation of many pagan deities.
Contrary to common religious belief, there is not a shred of historical evidence that there was ever a Jewish exodus from Egypt. There is no archeological verification for the Jews in the Sinai Desert during the so-called 40-year wandering. The Egyptians sometimes omitted defeat from their records. Nonetheless, there would still be strong evidence of two million people living and dying for 40 years in the Sinai Desert. The history of the Exodus as seen in the Bible contradicts the actual record. The actual history record shows that the Hebrew tribes that grew to a larger nation are from Palestine and the nearby region.
After the Babylonian exile in 586 to around 400 B.C.E. the Jews redacted, interpreted, edited, and consolidated their holy books. The Old Testament canon began to take its initial form. Much of the Old Testament was actually written during the exile and post exile years.
Consider the actual reality of Judeo-Christian history. Both religions follow the teachings of dead people. All of the Jewish prophets are dead, including Jesus. And if Jesus is alive, then at least in our realm he is dead. Therefore, Christians and Jews derive their teaching from biblical doctrines as spoken by dead biblical icons. Mainstream Jews follow the prophets of the first five Old Testament books (the Pentateuch). Evangelical Christians follow all 66 books of the Bible. In short, the Jews created both religions (Jesus was a Jew). The primary difference between the religions is the primary Jewish prophet (priest, teacher, etc.) they choose to follow: Moses or Jesus.
Modern Christianity and Judaism can now be seen much in the same way that the Northern and Southern Kingdoms looked after King Solomon died. After Solomon's death in 926 B.C.E., the kingdom began to fragment, bisecting into the kingdom of Israel in the north and the kingdom of Judah in the south. In 922 B.C.E., the Kingdom of Israel officially divided. Theologies, ceremonial rites, and race were points of extreme contention between the two kingdoms. Both were indeed Jewish in their foundation, but they looked at each as polar opposites. The people of those two Jewish kingdoms indeed saw the other as a different religion. They believed that the same god started both faiths but that one of the groups went off the path. Get it? This is how Jews look at Christians and Christians look at Jews today. They both think the other went off of Yahweh’s path. We can now observe that we currently have our own Divided Monarchy: Christianity and Judaism. Moses rules the Kingdom of the Jews and Jesus the Christian empire.
The modern divided monarchy is almost exactly the same in its ancient premise. One group rejects teaching from specific prophets and teachers. One group follows Moses, the other Jesus, and still others worship as Samaritans. One group hates the other because Gentiles are allowed into the worship community. You see, what is happening today was happening then. Samaritans, Pagans, and Gentiles are all words that one group used to discredit the other. Why, then, did Christianity flourish while Judaism declined?
In 70 C.E., Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish nation scattered. There were dozens of Jewish groups and sub groups throughout Palestine. The Jewish-led Jesus Movement, then a spawning school of Jewish and Gentile religious thought, was enjoying many new converts and influence in the Mediterranean region. The Christians Jews, however, had something the Mosaic Jews couldn’t match. They had Gnostic, Greek and Roman thinkers adding to the philosophical mix. The Jesus design was that of a super prophet. He was one-up on all of the others. How? For starters, he was the embodiment and fulfillment of all the Jewish prophets put together. This, combined with a cross mixture of Christ-Cult theology and Greek sophistication, made the man Jesus into a dying and rising god. Christianity was a fresh message of hope, forgiveness, and love. Gentiles were often welcomed into this new part-Jewish faith. Because of Christianity, the Jewish Kingdom was again divided.
In the first two centuries C.E. both Mosaic and Christian Jews continued to organize. Christianity, however, was open and evangelistic while Mosaic Jews were exclusivists. The Mosaic Jews relied primarily on natural birth to gain numbers into their fold. Christianity offered “rebirth” to all people. As a result, the Christian Jews soon realized that their numbers were gaining on their Mosaic neighbors. Rome persecuted the Christians for two centuries, trying to keep their numbers at bay. The primary reason for persecution was that Christians wielded spiritual, political, and philosophical influence while often refusing to worship the Roman Emperors. The Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official Roman religion in 324 C.E. Christianity now had ecclesiastical, judicial, and military teeth. Blood would begin to flow again in the name of the Jewish God. This time around, however, the altar was “Christianity” and anyone who stood in its way became a sacrificial lamb.
The Mosaic Jews had at that time been around for over a millennium. Their heritage was strong and full of tradition. The Jewish right to be a people has been continually achieved by their use of war, political alliances, and intellect. Their historical gift of storytelling is perhaps second to none. They wrote the Bible for God sakes! The history of the Jews, however, is not simply their own. They adapted, borrowed, and sometimes out right stole the stories, myths, and fables from other cultures. Dozens of the mythological scenarios found in scripture are dated from much older renditions from other cultures. The Garden of Eden, talking serpent, flood, and many more fables are not originally Jewish or Hebrew at all.
The very fact that the Jews have continually written “prophecy” that states that Israel will always ultimately survive as a nation is simply genius. Prophecy has a way of being fulfilled, not by some mysterious god, but by the people who believe it. Israel, in writing these predictions of Dominion, has attracted friends and enemies all over the world. Look at how most modern Christians and Jews believe that Israel is a nation due to God’s promises. Look at how the Muslim countries hate the Jews and consider them to be a pack of infidels. These are recurring themes throughout Israel’s history. They recur because history tends to repeat. Israel continues to proclaim God’s Dominion over the Land of Palestine while neighboring cultures continue to hate them. It is one thing to say, “We conquered this land by military force and therefore it is ours.” It is quite another thing to say, God gave us this land and therefore it belongs to us by way of holy birthright.” The former statement is frankly a reality in the world while the latter is a fantastic religious claim that attracts religious hatred. Claiming that they took the land because God favors them has historically brought war upon the Jews. The problem is two-fold:
1. We took your land.
2. God loves us but forsakes you.
It’s a double insult. An affront that Muslims are not prepared to take. Were the Native Americans and Mexicans not living on American soil long before the Europeans took it from them? Who’s right was it to take it from them? In this world the right belongs to the sword. That is verified, empirical, and recorded history. Neither God nor the Easter Bunny commanded the Europeans and then empowered them to take America; humans did.