The first chapters of Genesis concern creation, the fall, and the flood. These stories all took place in Mesopotamia, nowadays Iraq. It is the birthplace of several ancient civilisations, such as the Sumerians and the Babylonians. These civilisations are much older than the Jewish nation, and they had myths about creation and the flood that are at least 1,000 years older than the Jewish Bible. When the Jews compiled their scriptures, they were in exile in Babylon in Mesopotamia. Most likely, they used existing myths from the area to write the first chapters of Genesis. A Babylonian creation myth, the Enūma Eliš, resembles the first chapter of Genesis:
When in the height heaven was not named, And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name, And the primaeval Apsu, who begat them, And chaos, Tiamat, the mother of them both Their waters were mingled together, And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen; When of the gods, none had been called into being, And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained; Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven, Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being.
Other parts of Genesis resemble the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. The epic tells that the gods became tired of working on Creation and created a man to do the hard work. For that, they put a god to death and mixed his blood with clay to make the first human in the likeness of the gods:
In the clay, god and man Shall be bound, To a unity brought together; So that to the end of days The Flesh and the Soul Which in a god have ripened – That soul in a blood kinship is bound.
In Genesis, God created humans in the likeness of the gods (1:26). God rested after six days of hard labour (Genesis 2:2-3). God then made a man to work the ground (Genesis 2:5) and made him from soil (Genesis 2:7). In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods created the first man in Eden, the garden of the gods in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The same happened in Genesis (Genesis 2:14). There is an alternative account of the creation of man in the story of Enki and Ninmah. The gods, burdened with creating the earth, complained to Namma, the primaeval mother. Namma then kneaded some clay, placed it in her womb, and gave birth to the first humans.
The original man, Enkidu, was wild, naked, muscular, hairy and uncivilised. The gods sent a woman to tame him with her nakedness and love. By making love to him for a week, she turned him into a civilised man of wisdom like a god. She gave him a meal and clothed him. In Genesis, Eve made Adam eat (Genesis 2:6). Eve and Adam were naked before they came to knowledge (Genesis 3:7). God gave them clothes (Genesis 3:21).
The Epic of Gilgamesh differs from Genesis, but the similarities are striking. In both stories, a god creates a man from the soil. The man lives naked in nature. A woman then tempts him. In both accounts, the man accepts food from the woman, covers his nakedness, and leaves his former life. The appearance of a snake stealing a plant of immortality in the Epic of Gilgamesh is also noteworthy.
The flood story in Genesis closely resembles the account in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The stories are so similar that few scholars doubt the Epic of Gilgamesh is the source of the biblical narrative. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the city of Shurrupak at the Euphrates River had grown. The god Enlil could not sleep because of the sounds the city made. The gods then agreed to drown all the humans in a flood.
But the god Ea appeared to Utnapishtim, warned him and asked him to build an ark. With his children and hired men, Utnapishtim built an enormous boat, and he went on it with his relatives, animals, and craftsmen. The storm god, Adad, sent a terrible thunderstorm with pouring rains that drowned the city. Then the gods felt sorry for what they did.
After seven days, the weather calmed. Utnapishtim looked around and saw an endless sea. He saw a mountain rising out of the water. After another seven days, he released a dove into the air. The dove returned, having found no place to land. He then released a swallow that also came back. Then he released a raven that did not come back. Utnapishtim disembarked and made an offering to the gods.
Featured image: Dutch replica of Noah’s Ark. By Ceinturion CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum (WEF) launched a plan, The Great Reset. It aims to rebuild the world economy more intelligently, fairer and sustainably while adhering to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These SDGs include ending poverty, improving health and well-being, better education, equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, jobs and economic growth. That sounds great, but is it a reset? It would be up to so-called responsible corporations and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to implement the agenda before 2030. Not everyone thinks that is a great idea.
The change is supposed to be powered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a fusion of technologies in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing. I get an uneasy feeling when I read that. It looks like an excuse for technology addicts to play with our future. Is it because I am against progress, or is it because of a rational fear that something is about to go seriously wrong even though I don’t know exactly what?
Under the umbrella of the Great Reset, so-called young global leaders of the WEF came up with new ideas. For instance, new technologies can make products like cars and houses cheaply available as a service, ending the need to own these items. A young global leader wrote an article titled, ‘Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better.’1 She hoped to start a discussion, and the article produced a slogan that also became an Internet meme, ‘You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy.’ There certainly is an economic rationale for sharing items like cars, most notably if they become more expensive to keep because of technological innovation.
Property, for instance, a home, can give you economic freedom. If you own a home, you don’t have to pay rent. And you own some capital when you retire. Some people think the WEF is a sinister elite club scheming to achieve a secret agenda where the elites own everything, and the rest of us ends up with nothing. And that might happen anyway if current trends continue because that is how capitalism works. Capital accumulates and ends up in the hands of a few because of interest. It is not a secret since Karl Marx figured that out. And it leads to a crisis when the impoverished masses can’t buy the things that capital produces. With negative interest rates, there is no need for that.
Property rights have become a semi-religious value in Western culture. That prevents us from taking the property of the elites and ending their stranglehold on our political economy. Marx advised that workers or the state would take over corporations. That might not be a good idea because workers and governments often do poorly at running corporations. Markets and private enterprises can efficiently provide goods and services, but it comes with wealth inequality and happens at the expense of future generations. Our societies must find the right balance. At some point, the disadvantages of the current political economy start to outweigh the advantages.
We use far more resources than the planet can provide, and wealth inequality is now so extreme that we might need a genuine Great Reset. Taking the wealth from the elites and discontinuing enterprises that don’t provide for our essentials is not communism, as long as there are markets and private property. People should prosper if their work benefits society and enterprises often do better at providing for our needs. But we don’t benefit from the corrupting influence of oligarchs. Their wealth comes from inheritance, criminal and shady activities, and, most notably, accumulated interest on their capital. That arrangement may have suited us in the past, but not now.
Economists believe property rights are essential for economic growth, and that business owners should be able to do as they please. For instance, Elon Musk has the right to ruin Twitter because he owns the company. Should employees and others suffer from the irrational behaviour of their owners? In the Netherlands, a series of interesting trials took place, where corporations tried to escape the influence of their majority shareholder Gerard Sanderink, who allegedly didn’t act rationally in the interest of these companies.2 Limited property rights and a collectivist attitude have not prevented China from becoming a large and advanced economy surpassing the United States and may have contributed to China’s success.
The degree of individualism currently existing in the West may do more harm than good. They promote political fights and litigation and prevent us from doing what we should do. And perhaps, less privacy can go a long way in reducing crime. Property rights and individualism were crucial to start capitalism and made the West dominate the world for centuries. And so, we have learned to see them as necessary, inevitable or even desirable. But once the European imperialist capitalist engine ran, these features became less important than economic stability. If you start a business, you must be able to estimate your returns, but you can lease everything and own nothing.
Individualism and property rights also play a positive role in society. The cultural heritage of the West is extensive compared to other cultures, for instance, if you express it in the number of books written or discoveries made. Self-interest and personal responsibility can inspire us to work harder and do a better job. The Soviet Union failed to produce enough food for its citizens while there was enough arable land. In the Soviet Union, farmers had to work on collective enterprises where they could not do as they saw fit and didn’t share in the profits. The tragedy of the commons is that we don’t care for public spaces as much as our possessions. Homeowners usually take better care of their houses than tenants. The same is true for car owners.
As they are now, property rights protect the elites. And the WEF plan is just a fart in the wind, not a Great Reset. We face unprecedented worldwide challenges while wealth inequality is at extreme levels, so individualism and property rights need limits. And we need a proper Great Reset, or a switch from economic to political control of the world’s resources if we intend to live in a humane world society that respects our planet. It is what a corporation named Patagonia did in 2022.3 We can do that on a global scale.
It begins with seizing the wealth of oligarchs and criminals and all hidden wealth in offshore tax havens, including their so-called charities, placing them in sovereign wealth funds, and setting a limit on what individuals can own or earn. And perhaps, we need to build our future on values rather than balance sheets. And everyone should contribute. Capital accumulates by interest, and people who live off interest don’t work for a living. That might be as bad as being on the dole while you can work. And peddling unnecessary products that harm life on Earth could be as bad as being a criminal.
Laws should prevent people and corporations from doing wrong, but they often fail to do that. Corporations pollute the environment or exploit employees to make a profit. But consumers desire excellence for rock-bottom prices. It is profitable to break the law if you can get away with it or when the gain is higher than the fine. And if there are loopholes, they become exploited. The anonymity provided by money, large corporations and markets turn us into uncaring calculating creatures. That is why big pharma, the military-industrial complex, the financial industry, and the Internet giants threaten us. If corporations do right out of their own, many laws and regulations become redundant. If moral values can replace the law, it could be better.
Less efficiency, poorer service and a smaller choice of products can be preferable if that doesn’t lead to deprivation and starvation. For instance, why must you get your meal from a takeaway restaurant instead of preparing it yourself? Or why do you need to dress up in the latest fashion if you have ample wearable clothing? And you must work to pay for these things, so if you don’t buy them, you have time to prepare your meal or mend your clothes. We don’t want to give up these things, so in a democracy, we can’t fix this problem. Perhaps we might accept the change if God sends a Messiah who tells us this is for the best.
That might be wishful thinking, but what else can make it happen if it is not religion? Do you believe we will come to our senses, become one humanity, and do right on our own? That is wishful thinking. God is our only hope. As we are heading for the Great Collapse in one way or another, the End Times could be now. We might live inside a simulation run by an advanced humanoid civilisation.4 Hence, God might own this world, and you might soon discover that you own nothing and be happy. God’s kingdom might be a utopian society as early Christians lived like communists (Acts 4:32-35).
So what can we achieve by taking political control of the world’s resources and means of production by seizing the elite’s wealth and placing it in sovereign wealth funds? You can think of the following:
We can direct our means to the goals of a humane society, be respectful of this planet, and plan long-term.
We can dismantle harmful corporations or give them a new purpose without starting an economic crisis with mass unemployment.
We can make corporations employ people in developing countries and give them an education and decent salaries.
We can fund essential government services in developing countries and eliminate corruption insofar as it is due to insufficient pay of government employees.
We can make corporations produce sustainably and pass on the cost to consumers.
We can determine the pay of executives.
We can halt developments like artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy if we believe they are undesirable.
We can end the incentive to produce and consume more and stop the advertising industry from tracking us.
We can end stress in the workplace if we axe bullshit jobs and redirect workers to the needs of society. A twenty-hour working week might be enough.
Interest stands in the way of a better future. The economy ‘must’ grow to pay for the interest. We ‘must’ work harder in bullshit jobs to pay for the interest. Corporations ‘must’ sell harmful products to pay for the interest. Corporations ‘must’ pay low wages or move production to low-wage countries to pay for the interest. And because of interest, money disappears from where it is needed most and piles up where it is needed least. Interest is our tribute to the wealthy. If we hope to live in a humane world society that respects creation, ending interest might be imperative. That is where Natural Money comes in.
Latest revision: 28 April 2023
Featured image: You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy. WEF.
1. Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better. Ida Auken. World Economic Forum (2016). 2. Zakenman Gerard Sanderink tierend in rechtszaal: ‘Deze rechtbank deugt voor geen meter!’ AD.nl (2023). 3. Patagonia’s Next Chapter: Earth is Now Our Only Shareholder. Patagonia (2022). 4. Are You Living In a Computer Simulation? Nick Bostrom. Philosophical Quarterly, 2003, Vol. 53, No. 211, pp. 243-255.
Religions claim that a god or gods have created this universe. The simulation hypothesis explains how the gods might have done this. We could all be living inside a computer simulation run by an advanced post-human civilisation. But can we objectively establish that this is indeed the case?
There is sufficient evidence that we live inside a simulation, and it allows us to establish the most likely purpose of our existence. The book does not promote a specific religion. It goes along with science, but there are limits to what science can establish. God is beyond those limits.
The book addresses the following topics:
Why our existence is not a miracle that requires a creator.
Why the simulation hypothesis is not scientific.
How possible motives of post-humans can help us establish that we live inside a simulation.
Why there is no proof in real life, not even in science.
How our minds can trick us, and how to avoid pitfalls in our observations and reasoning.
How laws of reality can help us establish that we live inside a simulation.
Why evidence for the paranormal is not scientific but strong enough to count.
How to interpret religious experiences and miracles.
How to explain premonition, evidence suggesting reincarnation, ghosts, ufos, and meaningful coincidences.
How coincidences surrounding major historical events indicate that everything happens according to a script.
Why do many people see 11:11 and other peculiar time prompts.
What predetermination tells us about our purpose.
By reading the book, you will discover that the world makes perfect sense if we assume it to be a simulation created by an advanced post-human civilisation to entertain someone we can call God.
The book is freely available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence. You can download your free PDF here:
The Jewish people still exist after 2,500 years, while they have not had a homeland for most of the time. That is a remarkable feat, most notably because the Jews are supposed to be God’s chosen people. It is also a bit of an enigma that Christianity replaced the existing religions in the Roman Empire. Somehow the message of personal salvation through Christ caught on. A pivotal moment was the conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity in 312 AD. He made Christianity the favoured religion in the Roman Empire.
A few centuries later, a small band of Arab warriors created an empire stretching from the Atlantic to India, spreading a new religion called Islam. Is it a realistic scenario that the illiterate camel driver Muhammad became a crafty statesman after seeing an angel representing the God of the Christians and the Jews? We only know this world, so we cannot answer that question. Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same deity. Our universe could be a simulation, and God might be the best explanation. But who is to say it can’t happen without God?
When Islam arrived on the scene, there was widespread monotheism as Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians in the area believed in an all-powerful creator. Muhammad had met them on his travels, so he was familiar with these religions. Before that, Christianity had faced an uphill struggle. While the Roman state suppressed this religion, pagans left their gods behind and accepted the Christian God as the only true God. And they did so in large numbers.
That begs for an explanation, even though the conversion to Christianity was a gradual process that took centuries. The number of Christians increased 2-3% per year between 30 AD and 400 AD. Each Christian may have converted just one or two persons on average. Over time, exponential growth made Christianity grow from perhaps 100 followers in 30 AD to 30 million in 400 AD. There appears nothing supernatural about this process until you realise that the most often cited reason for conversions were stories about miracles Christians did.1
An early miracle was Jesus appearing to a few followers after his crucifixion. The New Testament tells of miracles the disciples allegedly performed. These stories may be inaccurate or exaggerated, but miracles are a consistent theme in Christianity until today. And so, there may be more to it than science can explain. On message boards, people tell stories about prayers heard and miraculous healings. Perhaps, many of these stories result from chance or other causes like a misdiagnosis. But chance or misdiagnosis is not always a plausible explanation. And it seems unlikely that Christians always lie about these matters.
A recurring event is the appearance of the Virgin Mary. Many people have seen her. For instance, she appeared several times in Venezuela. In 1976, she showed herself to Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini, who received exceptional powers. She could tell the future, levitate, and heal the sick. In Egypt, Mary appeared at a Coptic Church between 1983 and 1986. Muslims also have seen her there. There have been many more Virgin Mary appearances. The most notable one was in Portugal at Fatima on 13 October 1917. The sun spun wildly and tumbled down to earth before stopping and returning to its normal position, radiating in indescribable beautiful colours. More than 50,000 people witnessed the miracle. They had gathered in response to a prophecy made by three shepherd children that the Virgin Mary would appear and perform miracles on that date.2
Jesus also appeared, but less frequently than the Virgin Mary. An intriguing account comes from Kenneth Logie, a preacher of the Pentecostal Holiness Church in Oakland, California, in the 1950s. In April 1954, Logie was preaching at an evening service. During his sermon, the church door opened, and Jesus came walking in, smiling to the left and the right. He walked right through the pulpit. Then he placed his hand on Logie’s shoulder. Jesus spoke to him in a foreign tongue. Fifty people witnessed the event. Five years later, a woman gave testimony when she suddenly disappeared, and Jesus took her place. He wore sandals and a glistering white robe. He had nail marks on his hands, which were dripping with oil. After several minutes, Jesus disappeared, and the woman reappeared. Two hundred people have seen it. It was on film as Logie had installed film equipment because strange things were happening.2
Latest revision: 11 March 2023
Feature image: Mohammad receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. Miniature illustration on vellum from the book Jami’ al-Tawarikh, by Rashid al-Din, published in Tabriz, Persia, 1307 AD. Public Domain.
1. The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World. Bart Ehrman. Simon & Schuster (2018). 2. How Jesus Became God The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee. Bart Ehrman. HarperCollins Publishers (2015).
Before he was born, a visitor from heaven told his mother that her son would be divine. Unusual signs in the heavens accompanied his birth. As an adult, he left his home to become a travelling preacher. He told everyone not to be concerned about earthly lives and material goods but to live for the spiritual and eternal. He gathered several followers who believed he was the Son of God. He did miracles, healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead. He aroused opposition among the ruling authorities, and they put him on trial. After he died, he appeared to some of his followers, who later wrote books about him. This story is not about Jesus of Nazareth but Apollonius of Tyana, Bart Ehrman tells us in his book How Jesus Became God.1 The following analysis draws on Ehrman’s work.
The parallels are striking. In ancient times, there was no chasm between the divine and the earthly realm. Critics of Christianity used the similarities between the tales about Jesus and Apollonius to question and mock Christianity. The miracles attributed to Jesus were not exceptional either. Other men allegedly did similar deeds. Legends about people spring up from time to time. People claim that Elvis still lives and that they have seen him. So, who is to say that Christians didn’t make up the tales about the miracles Jesus did? The Gospels contain contradictions, and scholars believe stories have been modified, exaggerated and embellished. The Gospels were never written as an exact account of what happened. They were meant to spread the good news about Jesus. Finding out the truth later can be an arduous task. And success is not guaranteed. It has been the work of biblical scholars for centuries.
Miraculous and virgin births occurred in other religions too. For instance, in Roman mythology, the mother of the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, was a virgin. Greek mythology also includes a few virgin births. Claiming to be a Son of God was not unusual either. Julius Caesar pretended to be a descendant of the goddess Venus. Of Alexander the Great, claims circulated that his father was the Greek supreme god Zeus. Kings in the ancient world often claimed to be descendants of the gods. That gave them legitimacy, for who dares to go against the will of the gods? Jewish kings were also called Sons of God. If Jesus called himself the Son of God, he could have meant he was king of the Jews. And it was seen that way by the Jewish and Roman authorities.
About Jesus, much remains unclear. The Gospels date from decades after Jesus’ death, which makes them unreliable historical sources. Scholars believe that the Gospels partially describe what Jesus said and did. Much is plausible, given the time and place in which he lived. The Gospels also tell us things Christians would not have made up because it might undermine their teachings. For instance, John the Baptist probably baptised Jesus. The one who baptises is usually spiritually superior to the one receiving the baptism, so Christians probably didn’t make it up.1 To deal with this uncomfortable truth, Christians might have invented that John said that someone more powerful than him would come whose sandals he was not worthy to touch (Mark 1:7-8, Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16, John 1:26-27). And the Gospels might be copied from earlier sources now lost. If these sources were decades older, fewer errors might have crept in as written texts don’t change during copying as much as oral stories.
An account of an Apostle could have been of great help in uncovering the truth. Paul knew several first-hand witnesses, so he had insider knowledge. He could have written about what transpired but did not. And so, the obscurity surrounding Jesus and his relationship with God could be intentional. The first three Gospels are remarkably similar. Scholars believe the sources for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are the Gospel of Mark and another text with the sayings of Jesus. They have an unclear origin and appear not written by people close to Jesus. Nevertheless, there may have been an insider account that, after several revisions, became the Gospel of John. And that might be why this Gospel is so remarkably different.
The Gospels say that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and called God Father. That looks like a close relationship with God. To Jesus, being the Son of God probably meant something different than being king of the Jews. In The Parable of the Ten Virgins, the kingdom of heaven compares to a wedding where the bridegroom was a long time in coming (Matthew 25:1-13). All the synoptic Gospels hint at Jesus being the bridegroom. The Romans convicted Jesus for claiming to be king of the Jews. In the Gospels, Jesus never made this claim, but he didn’t deny it either. In the Jewish understanding, the king of the Jews is a son of God. But Jesus might have believed himself to be Adam, the eternal Son of God, and because of that, king of the Jews.
To understand the following paragraphs, you are advised to read the following post:
The scriptures as an obstacle
The Jewish religion of the Jewish deity Yahweh and its scriptures can cloud our understanding of God. To understand God, we may need to take the perspective of this universe as the creation of an advanced humanoid civilisation to entertain one of its members. And so, there could be more to the mysterious apocalyptic prophet who felt a close relationship with God and started a new religion with over two billion followers today. Christianity began as a branch of Judaism, a religion defined by scriptures. Many religious people think the scriptures are infallible. Their scriptures outline how Jews, Christians and Muslims see the owner of the universe.
Christians say that God is love. Christianity paints a different picture of God than Judaism and Islam, which present us with a vengeful warrior God. Many religious people think the scriptures are infallible. So, how can we explain it if the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is the same? Paul likely went to great lengths to align the new religion with existing Jewish doctrine. Paul could have obscured the most controversial parts of the new religion by making cryptic references to the Jewish scriptures. So if God appeared as an ordinary woman who married Jesus, and Jesus had preached somewhere else, for instance, in Egypt or China, Christianity would have been a different religion.
Biblical scholars reason from what they can establish from historical sources, while Christians believe the Jewish deity Yahweh is Jesus’ father. Both see Jesus within a Jewish context. Jesus looked at himself in this way too. That may obscure things as Yahweh is the imagined deity of the Jews. It may be better to view Yahweh as the cloak behind which our Creator hides. The most pressing problem for Paul may have been that God is a woman who had a romantic relationship with Jesus. To suggest so was blasphemy. And so, Jesus became married to the Church like God was married to the Jewish nation. It made Jesus eternal and godlike. That was not a great leap if he was Adam, God’s eternal husband.
Firstborn of all creation
Jesus may have thought himself to be the reincarnation of Adam. Adam was God’s son (Luke 3:38) and Jesus the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15). These words relate to the Jewish scriptures but can also be cryptic references to Adam being born first as the son of Eve and Jesus being the reincarnation of Adam. The phrase born of God (John 1:13) may relate to Eve giving birth to humanity. Within the context of the Jewish religion, these phrases have other meanings that can be useful for obfuscation.
In traditional agricultural societies, the firstborn son was crucial for the inheritance of land and the leadership of the family clan. The Jews were no exception. The theme occurs on numerous occasions in the Hebrew Bible. The story of Jacob and Esau is well-known. King David was God’s firstborn son (Psalm 89:27). The Jewish nation Israel is God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22). Israel is also God’s Bride (Isaiah 54:5, Hosea 2:7, Joel 1:8). It provided Paul with a theological escape because God married His firstborn son Israel. But God marrying Her firstborn son Jesus in a romantic relationship seemed inappropriate. And so, Jesus may have married the Church instead. In this way, Jesus became like God, and the Christians became Jesus’ people, just like the Jews were God’s people.
Jesus as God
That is not as problematic as it might seem. Many Jews believe there are two powers in heaven.1 In Genesis, God speaks in the plural, ‘Let us make humankind in our image.’ It may be a relic of the polytheist past of the Jews when they believed the gods created the universe. When the Jews became monotheists, large parts of the Hebrew Bible already existed. If we live in a simulation created by an advanced humanoid civilisation to entertain one of its members, it makes monotheist sense too. The beings of this civilisation are the gods, and the owner of this universe is God. The Jews did not see it this way, so this phrase fuelled speculation about a godlike sidekick working alongside God.
In the Hebrew Bible, God appeared from time to time. For instance, some people saw God sitting on a throne (Exodus 24:9-10) while no one has ever seen God and lived (Exodus 33:20). Others saw the Angel of the Lord, who is also God, and survived. Abraham and Hagar are among those who have seen the Angel, and the Hebrew Bible then tells us that they have seen God. Hence, the Angel of the Lord is God but not God himself. Otherwise, they would not have survived.1 And so there must be two gods, an invisible all-powerful Creator and his visible godlike sidekick. From this perspective, Jesus could be the Angel of the Lord and the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).
The road to Trinity
In the first century AD, Greek philosophy influenced Jewish scholars like Paul. Plato claimed that ideas are the basis of knowledge and that ideas, not objects, are the building blocks of reality. In Platonic thinking, the world of ideas is superior. Platonists think that a spirit can use words to produce matter. God is a pure spirit, the highest being. Platonic reasoning thus agreed with Judaism, as God created all things using words. And so, words must have existed before creation.
The Jewish philosopher Philo lived at the same time as Jesus. He claimed that the Word is the highest of all beings, the image of God according to which and by which the universe receives its order. Philo called the Word the second God. The Word is thus God’s sidekick. The Gospel of John starts similarly: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ Here, the Word had become Jesus.
In Proverbs, Wisdom says that she was the first thing God created. And then God created everything else with the help of Wisdom alongside Him (Proverbs 8:22-25). She is a reflection of the eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of His goodness (Wisdom 7:25-26). Wisdom is female because it is a female term in Greek. She was present when God made the world and is beside God on his throne (Wisdom 9:9-10).1 And so, we end up with two contenders for being God’s sidekick, the Word and Wisdom. Or perhaps, there are two sidekicks. If the Word had become Jesus, Wisdom could have become the Holy Spirit, so we arrive at the Trinity.
Eve giving birth to Adam contradicts the Jewish scriptures. And that is a problem as religious Jews consider their scriptures sacred. So, why not say Jesus was born from a virgin instead? After all, Jesus was Adam, and Eve was a virgin when she gave birth to Adam. And God’s name was Mary, just like Jesus’ mother, while God was Jesus’ Mother. That is very convenient indeed. Early Christians may have understood Jesus’ virgin birth as code for Eve being the Mother of Adam. That presented them with yet another problem. The Virgin Mary was the mother of God’s son and a substitute for God. That may have been the origin of the Virgin Mary veneration.
Christians made up the birth story. Virgin births are not a theme in Judaism. It does not appear in the Jewish scriptures, so Christians may have had a pressing reason to introduce the idea. Isaiah wrote that a young woman would give birth to a son as a sign that God would destroy Judah’s enemies (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah addressed king Ahaz in the eighth century BC and did not think of Jesus, who was to come seven centuries later.
The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible available in the first century AD translated a young woman as a virgin. The author of the Gospel of Matthew came to see it as a prophecy of Jesus’ virgin birth. By then, the virgin birth probably had been a circulating story. In this respect, it is remarkable that the Quran claims that God has no son and consistently calls Jesus the Son of Mary and not the Son of God, thus implying that Jesus had no father. It could be code for God having been Mary.
Logical issues leading to arcane theology
Christianity began as a Jewish sect, so Christians founded their religion in the Jewish scriptures. The observed facts may have contradicted the scriptures, for instance, God being a woman who can take a human form. The efforts to resolve these logical difficulties helped turn Jesus into God. It should not surprise us that early Christians disagreed on the godlike nature of Christ and that most Jews didn’t buy into it.
If Jesus had preached in Egypt and claimed his wife was the goddess Isis, the all-powerful Creator of the universe and that he was the reincarnation of her son Horus, there may still be records of his teachings. Egypt was a polytheist nation that could have adopted another cult alongside the existing ones.
The Jews, however, were monotheists with established scriptures. It also made Christianity uncompromisingly monotheistic. Converts had to renounce all false gods. That allowed Christianity to wipe out the other religions in the Roman Empire. And if this universe comes with an all-powerful owner, that may always have been the plan.
Latest revision: 17 March 2023
Featured image: Christ Pantocrator in Hagia Sophia. Svklimkin (2019). Wikimedia Commons.
1. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher. Bart D. Ehrman (2014). HarperCollins Publishers.