Response To The Video: Atheism A History Of God (Part I)
There are two types of people. Those who think they know it all and are very difficult to introduce anything new or opposed to their belief; they have a difficult time accepting new and opposing ideas, these are most of us. And then there are the other types who have no choice but to absorb information like a sponge no matter what. The latter are predominately known as Geeks. I'm in the first of those categories. Its difficult for me to accept something which opposes or differs from what I already think I know. I am aware of this flaw and I will eventually get it, but it is difficult for me.
When I realize I'm talking to one of the other types its kind of a thrill, because you know that the person listening is actually listening. The majority of people, like myself, tend to hear what we think the opposition is saying whereas the the Geek listens to the information with a fresh perspective. So when Luminon posted this video I didn't want to respond to it because I knew the atheists would gobble it up like candy and not listen to anything I say, but since it was Luminon I have decided to respond to it. My thinking is that there is at least one person out there capable of actually listening.
The video begins with a very popular school of thought with atheists. It is the notorously infamous scholarship of Higher Criticism. It was popularized in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially when in the latter portion of the 19th century German Bible critic Julius Wellhausen promoted his theory that the first six books of the Bible were written in the fifth century B.C.E., about a thousand years after the events they described.
Though Wellhausen did say that some of the material had been written down earlier the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica explained: "Genesis is a post-exilic work composed of a post-exilic priestly source (P) and non-priestly earlier sources which differ markedly from P in language, style and religious standpoint."
His theory included the ideas that Jacob and Esau didn't really have enmity between them but that it was symbolic for the enmity between Israel and Edom in much later times, the Aaronic priesthood wasn't fully established until a few years before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and Moses didn't never made the ark of the covenant, and the tabernacle never existed. But what sort of "proof" did Wellhausen and the Higher critics have for this? Dividing the Bible into several documents supposedly written by various authors based upon such information as if the Hebrew word Elohim appeared it was one writer (E) and if Jehovah's name appeared it was another (J). They apparently thought it impossible for the same person to have written both. Also if an event was recorded more than once in a book it was proof of more than one writer. It sould be noted that ancient Semitic literature often has examples of repetition.
Some critics of the Wellhausen and Higher Criticism have made some important points of consideration.
"The arguments by which Wellhausen has almost entirely captured the whole body of contemporary Biblical critics are based on two assumptions: first, that ritual becomes more elaborate in the development of religion; secondly, that older sources necessarily deal with the earlier stages of ritual development. The former assumption is against the evidence of primitive cultures, and the latter finds no support in the evidence of ritual codes like those of India. Wellhausen's views are based almost exclusively on literal analysis, and will need to be supplemented by an examination from the point of view of institutional archeology." The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1909
"Archaeological criticism has tended to substantiate the reliability of the typical historical details of even the oldest periods [of Bible history] and to discount the theory that the Pentateuchal accounts [the historical records in the earliest books of the Bible] are merely the reflection of a much later period." The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911
"the Wellhausen school started with the pure assumption (which they have hardly bothered to demonstrate) that Israel's religion was of merely human origin like any other, and that it was to be explained as a mere product of evolution." A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, by Gleason L. Archer, Jr., 1974, p. 107.
If the school of thought promoted by Higher Criticism is so questionable why then is it so popular? Because it supports the prejudices of the evolutionist. "Personally, I welcomed this book of Wellhausen's more than almost any other; for the pressing problem of the history of the Old Testament appeared to me to be at last solved in a manner consonant to the principle of human evolution which I am compelled to apply to the history of all religion." The Inspiration & Accuracy of the Holy Scriptures, pp. 258, 259
Enuma elish - The Babylonian Epic Of Creation
There are many ancient Babylonian creation stories, but the most popular one is the one that is often thought, even by theologians, to be a precursor to the Bible, The Enuma elish. When the Babylonian tablets creation tablets were first discovered, they were expected to be followed by further discovery and research to demonstrate a correspondency between them and the Genesis account. However, further discovery only demonstrated a vast difference between the two. The Babylonian Legends of the Creation and the Fight Between Bel and the Dragon, by the Trustees of the British Museum stated: "the fundamental conceptions of the Babylonian and Hebrew accounts are essentially different."
As P.J. Wiseman added: "It is more than a pity that many theologians, instead of keeping abreast of modern archaeological research, continue to repeat the now disproved theory of Hebrew 'borrowings' from Babylonian sources." - Creation Revealed in Six Days, London, 1949, p. 58.
And Professor George A. Barton observed: "The Babylonian poem is mythological and polytheistic. Its conception of deity is by no means exalted. Its gods love and hate, they scheme and plot, fight and destroy. Marduk, the champion, conquers only after a fierce struggle, which taxes his powers to the utmost. Genesis, on the other hand, reflects the most exalted monotheism. God is so thoroughly the master of all the elements of the universe, that they obey his slightest word. He controls all without effort. He speaks and it is done. Granting, as most scholars do, that there is a connection between the two narratives, there is no better measure of the inspiration of the Biblical account than to put it side by side with the Babylonian. As we read the chapter in Genesis today, it still reveals to us the majesty and power of the one God, and creates in the modern man, as it did in the ancient Hebrew, a worshipful attitude toward the Creator." - Archaeology and the Bible, 1949, pp. 297, 298.
The fact is that "No myth has yet been found which explicitly refers to the creation of the universe, and those concerned with the organization of the universe and its cultural processes, the creation of man and the establishment of civilization are marked by polytheism and the struggles of deities for supremacy in marked contrast to the Heb. monotheism of Gn. 1-2." - New Bible Dictionary, edited by J. Douglas, 1985, p. 247
What really was the story of the Enuma elish? "According to this ancient record, Marduk, city-god of Babylon, vanquished the primeval sea goddess Tiamat and cut her in two. From one half he fashioned the vault of the heavens, from the other the solid earth. That done, he organized the world. . . . Then 'in order that the gods should live in a world to rejoice their hearts' Marduk created humanity." - Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology.
It doesn't sound like the Genesis account I am most familiar with.
The video doesn't point out to the viewer that the tablets coming from the discoveries at Ashurbanipal, who reigned from 668 - 627 B.C.E. were actually only first appear at that time. There can be some pretty elaborate and exaggerated estimations regarding dates given by archaeologists where secular history is concerned. (See my post as Daystar on The Skeptic's Annotated Bible Forum.
Archaeological Evidence Of The Bible And Israel Prior To 950 - 850 B.C.E.
The claim the video makes regarding the absence of any presence of Israel in the archaeological record prior to 950 - 850 B.C.E. is blatantly false. I find it difficult to believe that the producers of the video could have missed references to the Merneptah Stele, which shows that the Israel existed in 1212 B.C.E. and that the pharaoh of Egypt acknowledged them. Skepticism regarding the Tower of Babel, the Babylonian king Belshazzar, the Assyrian king Sargon have all been obliterated by archaeological discoveries in the 19th century. Etemenanki, Uruk, Ur, The Nephtoah monument, the remains at Bethel, the Moabite stone, and countless other examples too numerous to mention demonstrate this video to be nothing more than the wishful thinking of either uninformed or desperate atheists.
El Shaddai And El Canaanite Deities
Some may recall my post of [looks at watch]yesterday? in which I explained variations of the Hebrew El, meaning strong, mighty, which is translated as God. I mentioned Jesus being mentioned prophetically at Isaiah 9:6 as El Gibbohr, meaning mighty God. El Shaddai is Hebrew and means God Almighty. In scripture it is only applied to Jehovah, but the Canaanites spoke Semitic language. Texts found at Ras Shamra (Ugarit) dating back as far as the 114th century B.C.E. indicate this. It is not surprising that the use of the generic term El (god) and its variants appear in Canaanite worship. Their primary god was El, who was a rebellious son that dethroned and castrated his own father. He was a murderer and an adulterer, refered to the "father bull" in the Ras Samra texts. A pretty lame comparison again out of desperation.
The comparisons they make with the elohim is an example of why I stress the importance of accurate knowledge for atheists in making the distinction between generic terms for gods, like elohim which I addressed in my post yesterday (God, Gods, Godesses). Elohim is a term that is applied to Jehovah (Genesis 1:1) to angels (Psalm 8:5) to idol gods (Exodus 12:12) to Pagan gods and godesses like Dagon (1 Samuel 5:7) the goddess Ashtoreth (1 Kings 11:5) and Marduk (Daniel 1:2).
The Greek historian Herodotus, who is sometimes referred to as "the father of history" lived in the fifth century before Christ and he wrote that the Egyptians grew no grapes and drank no wine. Critics scoffed at the Biblical account written by Moses of the cupbearer whose duty it was to supply the wine for Pharaoh's table (Genesis 40:9-13) until archaeologist discovered frescoes which decorate the tombs of Egyptian antiquity which picture the Egyptians caring for vines, gathering grapes, pressing out the juice and storing it in stone jars and skin bottles. One of the murals show an Egyptian party and slaves assisting their drunk masters home.
The video is a joke.