Donar by Gustaaf van de Wall Perné (1911)

Imagined gods versus one true faith

Throughout history, humans imagined thousands of gods. The Jewish deity Yahweh was one of them, just like Zeus of the Greeks, Venus of the Romans, and Thor of the Vikings. And there were countless others. Archaeologists discovered that the worship of Yahweh was first much like other local deities in Canaan. Like Israel and Judah, neighbouring small states had also adopted a god to protect them from harm. And the evidence does not support much of the historical account in the Hebrew Bible. Atheists often use these arguments to refute the Abrahamic religions.

There is an issue with this view. Somehow the worship of the Jewish deity in all its forms survived and grew, so by now, nearly half the people believe that Yahweh, also known as The Father or Allah, is the only true God who rules our world. To appreciate the miracle, you have to go back 2,500 years in time, when the insignificant nation of Israel had visions of grandeur and began to believe that all the nations would receive blessings through Israel and its special relationship with the Creator (Genesis 12:1-3).

For 500 years, nothing of that kind appeared to be in the making. But then came Paul, who altered the cult of Jesus to give it universal appeal. And thanks to Muhammad, the worship of Israel’s God spread even further. This universe could be a virtual reality running a script, so that may not be a historical accident, and this deity may be a veil behind which the owner of this universe is hiding. Even if you believe in evolution and survival of the fittest, you must admit that one of all these imagined deities has won the competition.

Existing faiths cannot be correct. Not only do they conflict with the evidence, but there is only one explanation for our existence. Christianity comes with more than 45,000 branches, all claiming to be the one true faith. And two entirely different religions worship the same God, Judaism and Islam. They also claim to be the only true religion. Christians and Muslims hold that non-believers will go to hell, even when they have never learned about the one true faith. That remains without a satisfactory explanation.

Israel’s history was one of disaster. Israel survived while the other nations did not. Israel had little military power. And so, the Israelites clung to hope. One day, and probably soon, a Messiah will come. He will liberate Israel, destroy its enemies, and restore its glory, which it supposedly had when David and Solomon were kings. And the world will witness the power of the God of Israel. As a result, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share an apocalyptic worldview featuring a final battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil and a day of reckoning.

So, what about the final battle between the forces of good and evil? It makes little sense in today’s world. We are social animals who live in groups. Morals help us cooperate. Good actions benefit the group, while wrong actions harm the group. The group we belong to and our estimates of benefits and harms affect what we see as good and evil. Thousands of years have gone by. Nations have risen and fallen, but the day of reckoning never came. Meanwhile, the Jews still exist while the worship of their God has spread over the globe. But God has remained a mystery all that time.

Latest revision: 9 March 2023

Featured image: Donar by Gustaaf van de Wall Perné (1911). Public Domain.

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