Author Topic: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)  (Read 329 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline The Gawd

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1683
  • Darwins +154/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« on: September 30, 2018, 07:20:35 AM »
This is an argument I try to use when I can, but Christians don't seem to understand the problem.

What I do is explain that the writers of the OT were polytheists, which I have found that Christians accept. They believed in many gods including Yahweh and Ba'al etc. Then I ask the Christian if they think Ba'al actually exists. In my small sample size of maybe 5, 100% don't think that Ba'al exists or existed. My follow up is, "How can you trust the word of people who you readily admit are prone to false positives on the existence of gods?" Typically I get excuses that they were on a path to monotheism, or that they finally came to the correct conclusion. However, they never seem to grasp that the tool they are using to get to Yahweh is admittedly unreliable in it's own propaganda.

I think it's a great argument, but have to come up with a way to make them see the problem easier.

Offline Timo

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1812
  • Darwins +156/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • Ya tu sabes
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2018, 03:16:49 PM »
Typically I get excuses that they were on a path to monotheism, or that they finally came to the correct conclusion.

I don't think this is an excuse. I think this is the actual answer. There's an obvious difference between how people think of God in the Old Testament and the New Testament. But you can see the shift occurring within the Old Testament, as well. I think it's pretty obvious that Yahweh was originally seen as the dominant god within a pantheon. He sat at the head of the divine council. He defeated the chaos monsters to bring order to the world. All that. But by the time you get to Elijah, there are stories about him going against the prophets of Ba'al. And the point there is that Ba'al isn't real. Yahweh is. And then with Christianity, you get all this Greek Platonic stuff mixed in.

So yeah, I do think it's basically right to say that they were on the path towards that conclusion. I think this line of argumentation would work against literalists though.
Nah son...

Offline The Gawd

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1683
  • Darwins +154/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2018, 04:01:36 PM »
Typically I get excuses that they were on a path to monotheism, or that they finally came to the correct conclusion.

I don't think this is an excuse. I think this is the actual answer. There's an obvious difference between how people think of God in the Old Testament and the New Testament. But you can see the shift occurring within the Old Testament, as well. I think it's pretty obvious that Yahweh was originally seen as the dominant god within a pantheon. He sat at the head of the divine council. He defeated the chaos monsters to bring order to the world. All that. But by the time you get to Elijah, there are stories about him going against the prophets of Ba'al. And the point there is that Ba'al isn't real. Yahweh is. And then with Christianity, you get all this Greek Platonic stuff mixed in.

So yeah, I do think it's basically right to say that they were on the path towards that conclusion. I think this line of argumentation would work against literalists though.

I don't think it can be the actual answer because we're not discussing whether Ba'al (and the others) were actually real, but rather the Israelites thought they were real, and got in trouble for worshiping them. So we're using this book written by a group of people who couldn't tell the difference between existent gods and non-existent gods. Were they hallucinating the fake ones? How did they come to the realization of which one(s) was real?

Offline Timo

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1812
  • Darwins +156/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • Ya tu sabes
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2018, 07:03:06 PM »
If you go by the text, they came to know that Yahweh was first the only god worth worshiping and then the one true god by virtue of the fact that his prophets performed miracles. And if you're not a literalist, then you don't need to believe that everything written is true. You can believe that things more or less happened the way that they said they did and that they had insights, that there were lessons to be learned, etc. Also, I think most societies are or have been at one point polytheistic. To believe that there are many gods doesn't require hallucinations. it can just be a matter of going with the cultural flow. In the same way that ideas about ethnicity and gender, even terrible ones, don't require special hallucinations, it can be the case that people accept what society accepts mostly uncritically.
Nah son...

Offline Timo

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1812
  • Darwins +156/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • Ya tu sabes
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2018, 08:08:00 PM »
Also, I think I should point out that some portion of the Israelites believing in foreign gods is canon, even on a super conservative reading of the Hebrew Bible. There's all sorts of stuff in there about people being led astray to worship inferior and/or nonexistent gods. There's the whole book of Isaiah, which pretty thoroughly mocks the practice of idol worship. So yeah, if you learned about the Bible the way I learned about the Bible, that it's a library and not a book, it's really not hard to square all this up.
Nah son...

Offline Timo

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1812
  • Darwins +156/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • Ya tu sabes
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2018, 08:20:29 PM »
Maybe another way to frame this is that, even if we accept that every world of the Bible is true and that things were reported exactly as they happened, people were pretty easily led astray. People who were contemporaries with Moses himself didn't fully believe in Yahweh. All it took for his men to leave the faith was the attention of pretty foreign girls. The disciple Thomas had to see the risen Christ in the flesh and examine his wounds to believe, even after witnessing his entire ministry. If that's all true, if being a first hand eye witness to the ministries of Moses and Jesus leaves you with that shaky a faith, why should we believe based on some stories passed down over the centuries?
Nah son...

Offline jdawg70

  • Administrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 5114
  • Darwins +1095/-10
  • Ex-rosary squad
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2018, 09:53:38 AM »
Maybe another way to frame this is that, even if we accept that every world of the Bible is true and that things were reported exactly as they happened, people were pretty easily led astray. People who were contemporaries with Moses himself didn't fully believe in Yahweh. All it took for his men to leave the faith was the attention of pretty foreign girls. The disciple Thomas had to see the risen Christ in the flesh and examine his wounds to believe, even after witnessing his entire ministry. If that's all true, if being a first hand eye witness to the ministries of Moses and Jesus leaves you with that shaky a faith, why should we believe based on some stories passed down over the centuries?

Well that's proof that faith is difficult, and faith is supposed to be difficult.  'Believing correctly' (or having the 'right faith' or what have you) is supposed to be challenging, for...reasons.  Henceforth why god doesn't just show up and say 'hi' (oh and also him just showing up and saying 'hi' wouldn't be convincing anyway, but god totally doesn't do it because it would be far too convincing and defeat the point of faith).
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

- Eddie Izzard

http://deepaksducttape.wordpress.com/

Offline The Gawd

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1683
  • Darwins +154/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2018, 06:42:25 PM »
@Timo,

I hear what youre saying. But none of their apologetics can address the fact that the people in the story for some time could not discern between an alleged real god and a non-existent god. Even if they eventually came to the "correct" conclusion, to have previously believed in imaginary gods when they were 1st hand witnesses to the "real" one is a damning indictment. It says Yahweh wasn't as real as he is described, otherwise how could you be more convinced of non-existent gods?

Offline Timo

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1812
  • Darwins +156/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • Ya tu sabes
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2018, 10:12:30 PM »
If I were an apologist, I'd probably point out that the whole thing doesn't need to be literally true. The writers of the Hebrew Bible could be setting up a situation as a historical event just to make a point. Or re-read the Gospel of Mark. The whole thing has a last shall be first motif running through it. People outside of Jesus' circle are better at recognizing who he is than his disciples. Were the disciples that dumb or were the writers of Mark making a larger point?
Nah son...

Offline albeto

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1808
  • Darwins +363/-4
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2018, 11:42:03 AM »
Even if they eventually came to the "correct" conclusion, to have previously believed in imaginary gods when they were 1st hand witnesses to the "real" one is a damning indictment.

I quite agree. The idea that Yahweh's Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt after having an epic wizard duel with the priests of the Pharaoh's god makes no sense outside the narrative of these cultures actually believing these gods existed.

So maybe it wasn't literal and Moses didn't really lead a group of Israelites large enough its population rivals that of Chicago, and the whole thing is allegorical. That certainly fits better with the evidence of the history of the region we do have.

But then if the Passover never happened, why would Jesus seem to have referred to it as a literal event? Why would he have taken that event as the ultimate event in history to offer a new covenant if people in his day had figured out these gods weren't real? And if they didn't figure that out, why would Jesus not have corrected them? Maybe the whole story of Jesus' death and resurrection also isn't literal but allegorical too. What if the moral of the story is that we can all work at self-awareness and "put away" the characteristics that we were conditioned to have as children but no longer serve our desires today? We can be born again in the sense that we change bad habits out for good. That doesn't require any weird beliefs.

But then why bother with the religion at all if it's nothing more than one ancient culture's way of inspiring their people to live mindfully, not in excess, not ignorantly, with an eye out for the sufferings of others and with a focus on being peaceful individually and fostering peace in one's community? Because if that's the point of the religion, then churches aren't necessary, supporting pedophiles by guaranteeing a readily available career path for them becomes a personal responsibility to change, and ideas about god killing people in natural disasters because they wrong person touches the wrong genitalia makes the entire religion rather irrelevant.

And so the house of cards starts to fall. It certainly did for me in just this way.

Which is why I suspect the xian's answer is so often, "Satan fooled them into thinking they were dealing with gods when really they were dealing with demons." Because something that can be claimed with no evidence, so long as it supports the narrative, can be supported with no evidence. Besides, Satan does things like that even today. Why, he's fooling millions of people into wanting to choose homosexuality, don't you know? He can come dressed like the light of Jesus, or something, according to the bible.

The Gawd, do you ever get people responding that the gods of the first testament were really demons pretending to be gods? And if so, how do you respond?

Offline The Gawd

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1683
  • Darwins +154/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2018, 04:04:15 PM »
Even if they eventually came to the "correct" conclusion, to have previously believed in imaginary gods when they were 1st hand witnesses to the "real" one is a damning indictment.

<sniption>

The Gawd, do you ever get people responding that the gods of the first testament were really demons pretending to be gods? And if so, how do you respond?
In the small sample size I have, no. In my opinion this is partially due to current Christians not knowing the context of any of the bible really. They are unaware that both Ba'al's and El's symbol was a Bull, when you realize that and see the Israelites worshiping a golden calf it puts things in a new light. Christians I know think of it as no more than a golden calf instead of an avatar for an actual god they believed in.

As far as demons, I have had one claim that some mental illness is due to demons. I asked, in that case, how does medication interact with demons. Needless to say that convo did not go far.

Offline Timo

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1812
  • Darwins +156/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • Ya tu sabes
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2018, 07:34:49 PM »
Yeah, because if you actually read the Bible, to me it's pretty clear that the Israelites were Canaanites trying to whitewash their history. There's shit in there about the "first fruits" belonging to Yahweh along with rules overturning that and passages saying that the Canaanites deserved genocide for sacrificing their first born. Also, when you're reading Joshua it's clear that the Canaanites are still there. Like even before you get to archaeologists saying that the exodus couldn't have happened the way it did in the text, it's right there in the next book that it didn't happen that way.
Nah son...

Offline Add Homonym

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 4759
  • Darwins +475/-8
  • Gender: Male
  • I can haz jeezusburgerâ„¢
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2018, 12:24:33 AM »
Well that's proof that faith is difficult, and faith is supposed to be difficult.  'Believing correctly' (or having the 'right faith' or what have you) is supposed to be challenging, for...reasons.  Henceforth why god doesn't just show up and say 'hi' (oh and also him just showing up and saying 'hi' wouldn't be convincing anyway, but god totally doesn't do it because it would be far too convincing and defeat the point of faith).

And yet, the NT is rock solid proof of Jesus' resurrection.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be bleedn obvious.

Offline Add Homonym

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 4759
  • Darwins +475/-8
  • Gender: Male
  • I can haz jeezusburgerâ„¢
Re: the problem of Ba'al (and other gods in the OT)
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2018, 01:09:59 AM »
This is an argument I try to use when I can, but Christians don't seem to understand the problem.

What I do is explain that the writers of the OT were polytheists, which I have found that Christians accept. They believed in many gods including Yahweh and Ba'al etc. Then I ask the Christian if they think Ba'al actually exists. In my small sample size of maybe 5, 100% don't think that Ba'al exists or existed. My follow up is, "How can you trust the word of people who you readily admit are prone to false positives on the existence of gods?" Typically I get excuses that they were on a path to monotheism, or that they finally came to the correct conclusion. However, they never seem to grasp that the tool they are using to get to Yahweh is admittedly unreliable in it's own propaganda.

I think it's a great argument, but have to come up with a way to make them see the problem easier.

Great arguments should just kick them in the nuts.

I think you can do a lot more damage by pointing out that the Old Testament doesn't refer to hell, resurrection or afterlife. The only thing NT writers could find in the OT was a grammatical exploit :

[32] I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
[33] And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.

Rather than attack their religion, you say you can't work out how to become a Christian, because there are 3 religions in the Bible. (OT, synoptic, Pauline)  Matthew's Jesus says you are supposed to build your house upon the rock, which is the sermon on the mount. Then you point out that the discretion allowed for Christians not to follow Jewish law or Jesus' ideas, is in case you have to rescue a dying man in a way that goes against those laws and principles - not so you get forgiven for anything the devil happens to tempt you into. Point out how strict Jesus is, and that you don't believe many people who call themselves Christian are actually going to be recognized by Jesus. Get them to give an estimate on what percentage of their Christian friends are going to heaven, despite not following the sermon on the mount. If they say 95%, then you argue 1%.   Ask them where God's chosen people are going.

Ask them why you should believe the church, when it's clear that Satan constructs many religions.


But these are all theoretical questions that always get ducked, because someone on the forum gives them a way to duck out. That's your main enemy.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be bleedn obvious.