There's at least a dozen questions I could preface, infer, or imply with this. One of the prevalent ones being xians' belief that the Bible proves the existence of Yahweh. Also worth mentioning is xians' belief that only Yahweh is real, and that all other gods are fake. There are more, but I'm going to focus on these two for now; please feel free to add to the mix if you feel so inclined.

Does the Bible ever actually say the others are fake gods? This might just be arguing technicalities, but as I recall the Bible refers to them as false gods. In fact most of the time the Bible doesn't even imply that much, sometimes just referring to them as gods. This seems to indicate that Yahweh (or at least the Bible authors) knew these other gods existed. Yahweh does mention that he is jealous, and that his people should worship no other gods before him. The theme seems to repeat often through the Old Testaments: acknowledgment of other gods, and then reinforcing that they are the wrong gods.

If the Bible provides repeated 'proof' of Yahweh, doesn't this same argument work as proof of other gods? Especially when you consider that Yahweh himself acknowledges the existence of these other gods.

So based on this information, couldn't we imply that anyone who believes in the existence of Yahweh should thus believe in the existence of these other gods? Even if they don't worship these other gods, wouldn't it make sense to concede they exist?

But how many other gods are there in the Bible? Probably more than you think, and definitely more than most xians think.

Some of the Gods Mentioned in the Bible
*not an exhaustive list
Adrammelech II Kings 17:31 Sepharvite God.
Anammelech II Kings 17:31 Sepharvite God.
Ashima II Kings 17:30 Samaritan Moon Goddess.
Ashtoreth I Kings 11:05 Canaanite Goddess.
Baal I Kings 18:19 Canaanite God ("Lord") of fertility, vegitation, and storms.
Baal-berith Judges 8:33 A regional variation/aspect of Baal.
Baal-peor Numbers 25:03 Moabite regional variation/aspect of Baal.
Baal-zebub Luke 11:19 Philistine/Ekronian regional variation/aspect of Baal.
Baalim I Kings 18:18 Canaanite Gods ("Lords"), a collective of the different aspects of Baa.
Bel Isiah 46:01 Assyrian/Babylonian/Sumerian God ("Lord").
Chemosh I Kings 11:07 Moabite war God.
Dagon I Samuel 05:02 Philistine/Ekronian/Babylonian God of agriculture.
Diana of the Ephesians Acts 19:35 Ephesian moon and nature Goddess, ("Divine/Brilliant").
Jehovah Exodus 6:03 Hebrew God
Jupiter Acts 14:12 Roman God (possibly derived from 'Zeus-pater', Father Zeus).
Lucifer Isiah 14:12 ("Light-Bearer")
Mercurius Acts 14:12 Otherwise known as the Roman God Mercury, God of communication and travel, and messenger of the Gods...which is probably why Paul was called this at Lystra.
Milcom I Kings 11:05 Ammonite God
Molech I Kings 11:07 Ammonite God, also called Moloch, most probably Baal-Hammon of Carthage.
Nebo Isiah 46:01 Assyrian/Babylonian/Chaldean God of wisdom and writing, also called Nabu.
Nergal II Kings 17:30 Cuth/Assyrian/Babylonian war and underworld God, also called Meshlamthea.
Nibhaz II Kings 17:31 Avites God
Nisroch II Kings 19:37 Assyrian God
Rimmon II Kings 05:18 Babylonian/Syrian storm God involved (as Ramman) with the Deluge, according to Hebrew texts; also known as Ramman/Rammon.
Succoth-benoth II Kings 17:30 Babylonian fertility Goddess ("She Who Produces Seed"), also known as Zarpanitu/Zerpanitum.
Tammuz Ezekial 8:14 Assyrian/Babylonian God
Tartak II Kings 17:31 Avites God

I'm well aware of course that most xians would never take this conversation seriously; they are so set on their god being real and all others being make-believe.

Another side thought while we're here... Is Yahweh even a monotheistic god? You really could argue that he is more polytheistic. This is something Dawkins briefly touches on in God Delusion; but also take a look at some of these Bible verses.

Thanks to Norbert Sykes for the table.

Views: 10564

Comment by Physeter on July 9, 2014 at 11:07pm

Hmm. I kind of see what you're getting at, Bob, except also I kind of don't.

Can I measure "pure energy", apart from temperature or photon frequency? I don't think I can. And yet I can measure energy. Measuring temperature is in fact measuring energy. And measuring the frequency of a gamma ray, for instance, is measuring another kind of energy. So like Piano said, energy can be thought of as a property of matter.

That's not how most Christians I know talk about God. So I'm trying to understand what you are saying. Do you say "god" is a property of the universe we live in, but not something that actually exists on its own?

I still have trouble seeing how a property of the universe, an "idea" that is useful to describe an overarching truth, can be said to be one and the same with the personal, anthropomorphic, intelligent God named YWHW who is described in the Bible, who loves and forgives and damns and creates and destroys.

Comment by Dr. Bob on July 10, 2014 at 9:57am

@Bob, I would say energy is a "property" of all matter that is both measureable and observable.  I do not consider it just be an idea because we can observe it working all around us, all the time. The very transformation that makes life possible. A slice of bread is a slice of bread AND it is energy.

I'm sure you would say that.  I might as well.  Now substitute "God" for "energy" and note there isn't much difference.

The only thing you have technically wrong is that there is no way to directly observe or measure "energy."  We observe other things, and attribute the cause of those other things to the made-up concept of energy.  It's a useful concept.  It works really well.  We believe in it, at least enough to rely on it and dismiss other people who don't.  It's not observable or testable, though.  You can't "prove" that energy is real.  Skeptics might say we're ensconced in a confirmation-bias bubble. 

If you look back over just the past few hundred years in physics writings and texts, there are lots of different forms and formulations of energy.  Some we incorporated into the current One Energy idea, others like phlogiston we abandoned.  That doesn't mean that the concept of energy/energies is flawed because we had so many different versions, it just means we got better in our understanding. 

Does energy exist?  The real physics answer is "we don't know, but it's useful."  Useful enough that we all believe in it and think in those terms. 

Comment by Dr. Bob on July 10, 2014 at 10:26am

And yet I can measure energy. Measuring temperature is in fact measuring energy. And measuring the frequency of a gamma ray, for instance, is measuring another kind of energy.

So you attribute the expansion of mercury in an evacuated glass tube to the magic gremlin "energy"? And you attribute the voltage increase you measure from ionization by a gamma ray photon to a "different form" of the magic gremlin? 

You haven't actually caught the gremlin, though, and you can't really "prove" the gremlin exists.  All we can really say is that thinking about these physical measurements in terms of the movement and mutation of gremlins seems to be useful.  So we teach children to believe in the invisible, unmeasurable energy gremlin.  We even attribute behaviors to the gremlins, in that they really like to get away from each other and escape, and it takes effort to get them back together again.

The point is just that yes, we humans make up ideas to describe the world, and over time hopefully we refine those ideas and hold on to the ones that are useful.  Energy is a useful idea; useful enough that we "believe" in it and think it's "real".  There are communities of people that study and talk about energy.  We might even argue that the universe "revealed" energy to us, though really we would be saying that the universe "revealed" energy to a select few faithful theorists and experimentalists and their cult of followers <g>. 

Similarly, for me, God is a useful idea.  There are communities of people who study and talk about God.    Just like with energy, there's a whole, vast literature about God, some of it pretty firm, some of it more speculative, a lot of it hard for outsiders to understand without extensive study.

Comment by Strega on July 10, 2014 at 11:47am
"a lot of it hard for outsiders to understand without extensive study"

Do you not see how counter-intuitive this statement is? This god is supposed to have personal relationships with everyone, not just with scholars. In fact, if I take the biblical narratives of Jesus's opinions, it's not the upper echelons of people that he meant to connect with, but more the average and the poor. If the teachings aren't obvious to the lay man, they are unfit for purpose.

Energy doesn't require us to worship it. It doesn't even care that we exist. That would appear to be a cavernous gaping difference between your deity and a scientifically observable phenomenon.

Take a look at the Dawkins letter to his daughter, where he explains the same principle of existence regarding love. You cannot observe it as a physical manifestation, yet... But I won't spoil it for you, I'm quite sure a little Googling will get you there.
Comment by Dr. Bob on July 10, 2014 at 12:12pm

Sorry, @Strega, when I said it was hard to understand, I was referring to theology - the study of God-stuff.   Energy doesn't need physics to operate, and God doesn't need theology to operate. 

You are quite correct that the analogy is just an analogy.  It breaks down in that God is presumably an independent actor, and (quantum uncertainty aside) energy presumably is not.  The point is just that both are human notions, made up to describe what we think (hope?) are underlying truths or phenomenon.   We don't prove them so much as make judgments on their utility.

I will take a look at Dawkins' letter when I get a chance.  I confess find him an interesting commenter on biology, but rather a boorish hack when he gets too far from his field.  I'll try to be open minded, though.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on July 10, 2014 at 1:47pm

FYI - Here is the letter.

Comment by Erock68la on July 10, 2014 at 3:35pm

@Dr Bob

I've heard you allude to disparities between physics textbooks and equate that to disparities between versions of the bible.  That doesn't seem very comparable to me.  Don't textbooks change based on new information gathered using new technologies, new experiments, and new observations?  There is no new information coming out about god; just new inventive feats of cognitive gymnastics in order to make oneself believe in something that makes zero sense.  Is that what makes theology so "hard to understand"?

Comment by Dr. Bob on July 10, 2014 at 9:24pm

Don't textbooks change based on new information gathered using new technologies, new experiments, and new observations?

Personally I think textbooks mostly change based on the publisher's need to rip off of a new bunch of students.  Beyond that, for physics they change mostly because of changes in the art or technology of teaching, not changes in the underlying science.  We're pretty much still teaching "old" physics to undergraduates and even early graduate students.  I frankly find that disturbing sometimes.

I do appreciate your comment about cognitive gymnastics, as I'm not at all a fan of the theological angels-on-pinheads stuff.  Did you know that the schism between Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox was over whether the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son or just from the Father?   That and how to compute the date for Easter.  What a bunch of confounded nonsense.

I'm not sure why you think there's no new information coming out about God, though.  Whether it's God or energy, the concept may be invariate but our understanding of it and its applications isn't.   Humanity is learning more about things all the time.  That's the reason it's hard.

Comment by Strega on July 10, 2014 at 9:34pm
Do you realize that to compute the date for Easter, you simply start with the Spring Equinox (21st March), go to the next full moon, and then grab the first Sunday after that, and presto! You've got Easter.
Comment by Physeter on July 10, 2014 at 10:41pm

@ Dr. Bob - Thermal energy is a type of energy. Kinetic energy and potential energy are types of energy. Electrical energy is a type of energy. I can measure these energies. I can use them to do "work" -- to lift a block of wood using a machine, for example.

What god-pieces do we observe that are a type of God?

And the expansion of mercury is just a way to measure the increase in thermal energy. You could do the same with a thermocouple. They're measuring the same thing: an increase in the speed at which molecules in a substance are moving, i.e. how much energy the molecules have.

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