Sunday, May 12, 2013

Where did God come from?

genesis (n.)
Old English Genesis, first book of the Pentateuch, from Latin genesis, adopted as title of first book of Old Testament in Vulgate, from Greek genesis "origin, creation, generation," from gignesthai "to be born," related to genos "race, birth, descent" (see genus). As such, it translated Hebrew bereshith, literally "in the beginning," which was the first word of the text, taken as its title. Extended sense of "origin, creation" first recorded in English c.1600.
 
In the Old Testament the title of the first book of the Pentateuch (5 books of Moses) is Genesis, as described in the above definition and etymology of this word it basically means origins. The book of Genesis is a book of origins and beginnings. In it we read about the creation of all things from inanimate matter to biological and animate life and its varied forms. But the one thing we don't read about is every atheists question of interest. How or where did the biblical god begin or come into existence? 
 
You see one of the problems theists have with atheists and scientific theories of origins is that they claim that nothing can come from nothing. In other words they believe in the law of causation. Basically, it states that everything that begins to exist must have had a beginning or cause of its existence. Based on this principle they also state that an infinite regress of causes is impossible. It had to start somewhere and that somewhere they like to call in Intelligent Design theory the prime mover or the uncaused cause. Of course there is only one thing in all of existence that does not require a cause for its existence; and that thing is God! 
 
 
The problem with this line of "reasoning" is that if everything that begins to exist requires a cause for its existence then it only leads to the question of what caused God. They try to evade this question by stating simply that God did not begin to exist he just always has! Unfortunately this violates the law of causation and amounts to nothing more than special pleading in favor of their deity of choice. This special pleading of course makes God exempt to the rule that seems to apply to all things that begin to exist. 
 
 The symbol stands for: Doesn't mean
 
The bible actually on several occasions takes this line of reasoning as the answer to the question of the origins of God. But this reply is dependent on one accepting this assertion entirely on faith without concern for any evidence in its favor. Of course there was no one around in "the beginning" to witness it, so we are left with relying on the so called divine revelation claims made by for the most part, anonymous individuals. People whose identity cannot be established and whose credibility cannot be scrutinized outside of his/her writings.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

The bible states clearly that there was a beginning and that the cause of that beginning was God but it says nothing about where God came from. All we get is endless quotes about the biblical deity being the beginning.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:8
 
Notice in the text that God is said to exist in three different planes of existence. He is as in existing now (present), was (as having existed in the past/eternally?), and who is to come (future). He is referred to as the beginning and end of all things that exists. But there is no clue in the entire bible of where he came from other than the authors assertion that God always was and does not require a cause since he did not begin to exist. 
 
Christians want to have their cake and eat it too! They condemn scientific theories on origins for believing in a beginning from nothing when in fact that is exactly what they are doing themselves. At least cosmology has certain indirect evidences that support the theory that a big bang did occur, unlike theists who have absolutely no direct or indirect evidence of the existence of God. 
 
 
You can find more information of the big bang theory here. Here are some evidences of the big bang cited from big-bang-theory.com
 
  • First of all, we are reasonably certain that the universe had a beginning.
  • Second, galaxies appear to be moving away from us at speed proportional to their distance. This is called "Hubble's Law,"named after Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) who discovered this phenomenon in 1929. This observation supports the expansion of the universe and suggests that the universe was once compacted.
  • Third, if the universe was initially very, very hot as the Big Bang suggests, we should be able to find some remnant of this heat. In 1965, Radioastronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered a 2.725 degree Kelvin (-454.765 degree Farenheit, -270.425 Celsius) Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) which pervades the observable universe. This is thought to be the remnant which scientists were looking for. Penzias and Wilson shared in the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery.
  • Finally, the abundance of "light elements" Hydrogen and Helium found in the observable universe are thought to support the Big Bang model of origins. 
Whether the Big Bang is true or not, I consider it to be a much more plausible explanation for how things came to be than "God did it!" What was God doing before the beginning when there was nothing? Was he just floating around in nothingness bored out of his holy mind till he decided to create the earth. Notice that in the text the bible does not mention other planets or galaxies; it only refers to the creation of the earth and even states that the sun and moon and stars were created for the earth to serve as light in the day and night. Genesis 1:15-17

15"and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth,"

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of scripture.

7 comments:

  1. Which god are we talking about here? It looks like you are referring to the god in which Christians believe, but remember, there have been many gods over the centuries and there seem to be at least a handful even today. One useful way to oppose Christian privilege is to refuse to go along with their odd notion that any references to gods must involve theirs. I realize this is a minor point, but "god" cannot equal only the Christian god unless we want to grant them their privilege.

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    1. This blog is about what I know:Christianity. It has nothing to do with privilege. But when I speak of gods in general I am mainly speaking of all deities whether they be personal or impersonal. I don't call so called natural forces such as nature gods.

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  2. This is powerful Chatpilot! Very powerful. thanks

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  3. It's possible that Genesis 1 doesn't teach 'something coming from nothing.' Another highly plausible translation of Gen 1 is 'When God BEGAN to create the heavens and the earth.' This implies that there is something already there prior to God's actions, i.e. the earth, without form and void etc.

    This reading is usually relegated to a footnote in most bibles, who also generally negate the polytheistic nature of the passage. The word for God in Gen 1 is Elohim, which is a plural noun that can be better translated as 'gods.' See also the use of plurals in 1:26 - 'Let us make man in our own image.'

    The common assumption over centuries of interpretation is that the author of Genesis 1 was a monotheist. I think that's a presupposition that's quite likely inaccurate.

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    1. Thanks for your lucid and very rational comment! Pentecostals believe that the pluralistic nature of the words when referring to God have to do with a reference to the truine nature of God.

      "When God BEGAN to create the heavens and the earth.' This implies that there is something already there prior to God's actions, i.e. the earth, without form and void etc."

      Even if you were correct about this it would clash with verse two. Which starts with "and the earth was without form and void" indicating a continuation of God's creative acts. Most theist believe he created the earth ex nihilo (out of nothing).



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    2. Hi Chatpilot

      Here is the Jewish Study Bible’s translation of Genesis 1-3.

      “1When God began to create the heaven and the earth – 2the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind of God sweeping over the water – 3God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.”

      The argument is that Genesis 1-3 is a complete sentence, with verse 2 forming a parenthesis explaining the condition of the earth before the first creative act, which is the creation of light in verse 3 (this was something first noticed by Rashi, the medieval Jewish commentator.)

      This reading does have much in common with ancient Israel’s polytheistic neighbours, whose gods merely formed the earth, not create the earth out of nothing. In fact, Creatio ex nihilo is not that old a concept. It was developed in late antiquity around 200-700 CE.

      As you say, most of today’s theists believe in creation out of nothing, but it’s a concept that’s not particularly well supported in the original language of the bible. That’s my impression from reading the secondary literature, anyway.

      You’re right about the standard apologetic of viewing the pluralistic nature of Genesis 1 as referring to the Trinity. But that is just reading Christian theology into a much earlier text in the same way as Christians identify the snake in Genesis 3 as Satan. It’s not. It’s just a snake, albeit a wily and charismatic one that can talk. But if you try telling this to your average fundamentalist you won’t get very far, because they basically view the Old Testament as a teaser trailer for their man Jesus.

      Another argument for the polytheistic nature of Genesis 1 and against the belief it supports the triune God is that residual polytheism is still found in other parts of the Old Testament. The best example is in Deuteronomy 32:8-9

      ‘When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” (RSV)

      Here ‘Most High’ and ‘the Lord’ are two different gods. Not different names for the same god but two distinct gods. ‘Most High’ is El Elyon and ‘The Lord’ is Yahweh. As his name suggests El Elyon is the higher god. He was the head of a Canaanite pantheon that pre-dated ancient Israelites by a number of centuries. El Elyon presides over a group of lesser gods, of which Yahweh was but one of many. Yahweh, (or Jehovah), was one of El Elyon’s sons. In the above passage Elyon is portioning out to the various gods of the pantheon their own nations. Yahweh’s portion is Jacob, i.e. Israel.

      Psalm 82 gives more evidence of polytheism, with God once again residing over the divine pantheon, giving his subordinates a jolly good telling off.

      These readings are evident in the earliest sources of the Old Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls and copies of the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament). By the time of the Masoretic Texts (780-930 CE) a lot of the overt polytheism has been removed, and it’s these texts that many modern translations rely on. That’s probably why they aren’t very well known by the average Christian.

      Daryl

      Sources: The Jewish Study Bible; Hector Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies; John Loftus, Why I Became an Atheist. Another great book on polytheism in the Old Testament (and, would you believe, the New Testament) is Margaret Barker’s The Great Angel.

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    3. Thanks for your comment Daryl. I thoroughly enjoyed your explanation of the polythiestic elements of the Jewish religion. I am aware of most of the things you mentioned and agree with you regarding the Christian interpretations of the Old Testament.

      Most Christians attribute prophecies and promises of the O.T. as being previews to the coming of Christ and quote exclusive promises to the Jews as their own out of context. Thanks again for your enlightening comment.

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