Monday, February 28, 2011

The Jews were Pagans?

I had a weird dream ... I was transported back 4,000 years and got to meet Abraham, the patriarch of all Judaism and Christianity! It was so exiting ... I was about to find out the truth about the Judeao-Christian patriarch and God himself!

But ... it wasn't quite what I expected ... did you know he and his wife Sarah were pagans? Polytheists? What a shock...

It started like this...

"You must have been overwhelmed in the glow of God's love and kindness!"

"Actually, he was pretty harsh." said Abraham, stroking his beard. "You know, you have to be pretty careful what you say when He is around. He's got quite a temper."

"A temper? But He is a forgiving, loving God!"

Abraham gave a chuckle. "Who told you that, son? You should see what He did to Sodom and Gomorrah! And that business telling me I had to sacrifice my son? And only stopping me at the last second? That wasn't much fun."

"No, well ... I suppose not. But he was just testing you! And you were loyal! I'm so in awe. But he is God Almighty, and who are we to question His reasons, right?"

"Almighty?" Abraham looked a bit perplexed. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"You know, He is the one and only God, He created the universe, and His infinite wisdom and ways are sometimes too mysterious for us poor humans to understand."

Abraham looked at me like maybe I was crazy. "Are you sure we're talking about the same Lord?"

"Of course!" I replied. "You are Abraham, right?"

"That's me. But my Lord never said anything to me about creating the Universe. Did he tell you that?"

"Well, sure! Everyone knows that!"

"Well, son, it's news to me. Around here our Lord helps us with wars and such. He's pretty good at raining down burning sulfur, confusing our enemies, spreading plagues ... you know, stuff like that. But that's about it."

"But, wait!" I was confused. "Doesn't he help you with all of your prayers?"

By now, Abraham seemed to be pretty convinced I was loony, but he was my host and kept humoring me. "Actually, that's a bit of a problem. Our Lord is pretty jealous, and he doesn't want us worshipping the other gods. But that's kind of tricky. I mean, what are we supposed to do when we need some rain?"

"Pray to the Lord, of course!"

"And what good would that do? The rain is one of the other god's jobs."

"Other gods?" I was shocked. "You mean, you worship other gods?"

"No! A deal is a deal. But that's the problem. We have all sorts of gods who could help us. Sometimes we need rain, fertility, love, all sorts of things. But our Lord put us on the straight and narrow. I made a covenant with Him - we're to pray only to our Lord, and ignore the other gods, and in return, he's going to take good care of us. I tell you though, it's hard. We've been worshipping those other gods for so long..." He looked kind of wistful.

"But ..." I didn't quite know what to say. This was shocking! Could Abraham be a polytheist? I had to ask. "You don't believe in those other gods, do you? I mean, they're false gods!"

"Who told you that? Of course we believe in them! They've protected and helped us for time immemorial! That's why it's been hard for me to get my people to worship only the Lord. They just can't see how our Lord, the God of Armies, can help us with all the other things we need. A lot of my people are afraid that if we stop worshipping the other gods, they'll take vengeance on us. But I'm in charge here," he continued, "and I told everyone in no uncertain terms to toe the line. Our Lord made a deal, and He is going to keep it, so we'll keep our part too."

By this time, I was practically dizzy with confusion, and the sky began to spin. I suddenly woke up, saw George C. Scott on the TV, and realized it was all a dream. But ... what about all that stuff Abraham said in my dream? Could that be true? Were the Israelites really pagans?

So I dug into my Bible and there it was. I was shocked! But hey, they Bible is infallible, right?
Jeremiah 44:15-18
Psalm 82
Exodus 15:11
Daniel 11:36-39
Psalm 97:9
Apparently there's more, but it was too much for my brain so I just finished watching the movie.

A note to my readers: I originally wrote this as the opening of the first chapter of The Religion Virus, but my agent and other readers thought it was too lightweight, so I put it aside. I ran across it the other day and it made me smile, so I thought I'd share it with you. There are a couple other deleted chapters that I might dig up some day.


  1. You know, I doubt this was a dream you had, and the things you claim about Pagan Israelites and how bad God is is just run of the mill "Freethought" Gibberish that’s been out and about for years.

    yes I know, you aren’t going to reply as Imp not interested in honest debate... but are you? Do you really think that the above is an accurate interpretation of your select passages? Do you really think anyone explaining why you are wrong is just being an apologist who refuses to see the Truth?

    This is why I say you aren’t fundamentally different form a Religious Person. You have beliefs, resting on ideological and philosophical assumptions, that you argue for, and you attack Christianity base don those same subjective ideas.

    The above is really just a dishonest distortion of Biblical accounts interpreted in the worst possible spin in order to make it look horrific, and the whole "Pagan Israelites" rubbish is not going to fly if anyone has the slightest understanding of the actual texts and what they are saying.

    There is no evidence in the Bible that Abraham was a Polytheist. None.

    As to the later passages, you are citing references to events long after Abraham had died, and Children in Sunday School are taught the Israelites frequently fell into Idolatry or worshipping other gods. This is not a jaw Dropping revelation on your part.

  2. Zarove, I promised myself I wouldn't respond to your idiotic claims any more, but you're just such an easy target. You make these assertions without doing even a tiny bit of research. You're making a fool of yourself.

    The fact is that EVERYONE in Abraham's time was a polytheist. Why do you think God demanded that Abraham swear his loyalty? If there was only one god, then the god called El (and other names) that you know as "God" wouldn't have had to demand that the Israelites only worship him. The Old Testament is very clear: Abraham and his people called El the "god of war."

    In fact, Abraham and his people were henotheistic (believe in many gods but only worship one) up until roughly the time of Jesus, when true monotheism had taken over.

    Zarove, this isn't something that I made up. These are facts that every Biblical historian knows. They even teach this in Baptist seminary colleges! Good grief, are you living under a rock? Have you read even one book about the history of religion?

    Here's a good place to start: God Against the Gods by Jonathan Kirsch.

  3. Hahaha! I was about to warn about the unavoidable Zarove crap about "interpretations" and "atheist are religious".

    Every common person can comunicate clearly and directly to someone else. Even more in these Internet times.

    So why is that the creator of the universe is supposed to be so completely incapable of comunicating his words without the need of a specific "correct" interpretation?

    That's ridiculous. If a powerful god existed and wanted to communicate, he would do it. Simply as that. There wouldn't be a need for excuses.

  4. Mr. James- (By the way I included Links.)

    Zarove, I promised myself I wouldn't respond to your idiotic claims any more, but you're just such an easy target.

    Calling my claims idiotic doesn’t mean they are. Keep in mind you said Will Durant was one of the most well respected Historians of all time, and with a straight face. You also seem oblivious to the fact that one can easily look up the definitions of words like Faith or Religion and learn that my pretentious redefining them, which you found silly, was actually just me citing the real meanings of the words.

    What’s idiotic is thinking that you can smugly end with “But the Bible is infallible, right?” After citing the fact that some Israelites were Polytheistic, as if this was somehow relevant to Abraham, your principle, and as if it was somehow evidence against the Bible.

    But, how does the Bibles Infallibility become questioned by noting that some Israelites turned to worship other gods?

    And what does that have to do with the long dead Abraham?

  5. From The Above, Continued.

    You make these assertions without doing even a tiny bit of research. You're making a fool of yourself.

    You mean like “Will Durant is one of the most respected Historians of all time”? I’m sorry but, even his own website says Historians by and large took a bad view of him and anyone who bothers to do the least amount of research knows that both Durants wrote a subjective History that was the work of Amateurs, and was never respected in the field. Oh, I also look foolish when I redefined Religion, even though I posted two sources to support my own view.

    Saying I look like a fool whilst not even addressing what I’ve actually said to prove my point is really not evidence, tis just you trying to depict me as something to evade answering said points. Its Ad Homonym.

  6. Continued From Above.

    The fact is that EVERYONE in Abraham's time was a polytheist.

    And you can support this how?

    How do you know that small cults of Monotheists didn’t exist? We know full well that Animists likely still existed and they aren’t exactly Polytheistic, and the idea of Monotheism seems to be ancient, rather than developmental. Many Anthropologists now thing that multiplying goes is more common than unifying them to one, and Monotheism may have been earlier than Polytheism.

    Even if not, even if everyone was a Polytheist at the time of Abraham’s Birth, this doesn’t mean he couldn’t have discovered Monotheism all on his own, and founded his own beliefs based around there being but one god. Given that Monotheism exists now, someone had to do that eventually, didn’t they? So why not Abraham?

    Before you try the “maybe he didn’t exist” route, keep in mind the post itself assumes he did.

  7. If he didn’t exist, then it becomes even more moot.

    Why do you think God demanded that Abraham swear his loyalty? If there was only one god, then the god called El (and other names) that you know as "God" wouldn't have had to demand that the Israelites only worship him. The Old Testament is very clear: Abraham and his people called El the "god of war."

    This is as silly as when people claim the Ten Commandments prove Polytheism… its especially problematic when you say they claim he is “the god of war”. No, they don’t.

    When dealing specifically with Abraham, he’s never even really mentioned as anything “of war” at all. The first time this comes up is Exodus 15:3, in which reads “The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.” This is not the same as Abraham thinking of him as only the god of war and there being several gods, its not even really the same as Moses saying this. In this case they are simply noting that God can fight wars, an is prepared to do so, not that he is specifically the god of war, and most assuredly not that thee are other gods.

    As to why he’d want Abraham to swear Loyalty to him and not other gods, the obvious answer is that other gods were worshipped, but this is not he same as admitting that other gods have an actual existence. One can note the reality of the worship of Ba’al and tell people not to worship Ba’al but to worship YHVH only, whilst still not admitting Ba’al exists. Look at Elijah, and how he admitted that people were loyal to, and served, Ba’al, but still insisted that Ba’al did not exist.

  8. The fact that people worshipped other gods and Abraham was to swear allegiance to one god alone is not sufficient evidence from the text that Polytheism is an assumed reality. It only means they acknowledge the existence of those who worship other gods.

    In fact, Abraham and his people were henotheistic (believe in many gods but only worship one) up until roughly the time of Jesus, when true monotheism had taken over.

    Now you are just being absurd. For one to accuse me of not doing proper research, you seem oblivious to the fact that everyone who has bothered to study the actual History of the peoples of Israel would tell you that they were Monotheists in Culture long before Jesus.

    The Jews in Babylon, for instance, were clearly Monotheistic. The Book of Daniel at its latest can be Dated to the Alexandrian period and still makes it plain that the people were Monotheistic. The Book of Ezra-Nehemiah makes this obvious too.

    Even if we accepted that Abraham was a Henotheist, the evidence is overwhelming that Monotheism was a Cultural Feature in Israel by the time before the Babylonian Captivity, some 400-500 years prior to Jesus. Saying that Monotheism only came about by the First Century BC is really not something that can be supported by the evidence.

    And as stated, you have no actual evidence that Abraham was a Henotheist, other than the “Everyone was a Polytheist back then” claim.

    Continued Below

  9. Continued From Above.

    Zarove, this isn't something that I made up.

    But, you still got it wrong.


    This first link even agrees with you that they were Henotheistic in Abraham’s day. (something I can find even Atheist Scholars contesting.)

    Saying they were Henotheistic to Jesus’ time is untenable.

    Now, MB Soft.

    Not only dos this give explicit evidence that Monotheism goes back to at least the Book of Deuteronomy. (Which if you use JPED Theory is still much older than Jesus’ Advent)

    Chapter 4 verse 35.
    Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him.

    Verse 39 of the same book.

    Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.

    Verse 39 of chapter 32.

    See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

    Until the time of Jesus?

    I will repeat myself now.

    Acknowledging that other gods are worshipped is not the same as admitting they actually exist as gods.

  10. We have no evidence at all that Abraham believed in other gods actually existing but deciding to worship only one, that is purely conjecture on your part and to apply it to Abraham just because it helps your prejudices doesn’t make an argument valid.

    Keep in mind you also try to use other passages, such as one in Jeremiah, to shoe that the Bible teaches other gods exist, when its obvious that this is not what Jeremiah said, only that they worshipped other gods.

    Your whole argument hinges on people not reading the texts you link to in full and gaining any perspective on them.

    The New World Encyclopaedia.

    Abraham promoted belief in one god.

    This undermines your claim.

  11. Unless you have direct evidence that Abraham believed in the existence of other gods, and just worshiped one, not just that other gods wee worshipped, you really have no case.

    These are facts that every Biblical historian knows.

    Yeah like Durant being a world renown Historian, one of the most revered of all time, I take this sentence with a grain of Salt.

    No Biblical Historian I’ve read (and I’ve read more than you have) says that Monotheism didn’t solidify till around the time of Jesus. Its pretty obvious that Monotheism is a central tenet of Judaic beliefs in the Maccabeean period, and after the Babylonian Exile.

    Its also clear that mist Biblical Historians regard Abraham as either legendary, in which case we know little of him, or else as the first primitive Monotheist in the line that brings us to Modern Abrahamic Faith. The Theory that he was a Henotheist has no direct support.

    Continued Below.

  12. From The Above Continued…

    They even teach this in Baptist seminary colleges! Good grief, are you living under a rock? Have you read even one book about the history of religion?

    I’m getting a doctorate in it.

    I don’t take your word for it.

    Here's a good place to start: God Against the Gods by Jonathan Kirsch.

    And I should trust Kirsch over N.T. Wright, or Rowan Williams of course. Or over Baur Arndt. The last one by the way is a follower of Campbell and his Heroes Tale theory, not a Christian or Jew.

    At least Kirsch is an actual academic, unlike Durant, the Philosopher you tried to Palm off as one of The most respected Historians of all time. (despite his work, along with his wife’s help, have received massive criticism from real Historians.)

    But Kirsch is not the most respected name out there, he’s a Bachelors Degree holder. Given that I’ll be finishing off my Masters soon, I actually am above him.

    That’s OK, he’s an Attorney principle, and his academic studies into the Bible are purely secondary.

    Which brings me to an interesting point, did you read him as simply a part of voraciously reading anything you can on the study of Religion? Or did you select his works because you heard that he would support your prejudices? Have you read anything that doesn’t support you?

    It may be said that Kirsch can be a good Primer for some of these ideas, but a single source is not “a good place to start” if its also where you stopped. Have you read anything by others who disagree with Mr. Kirsch? Have you read anything at all by a PhD? I’d guess perhaps Ehrman if that, which would at least give you real gravity. Kirsch is simply putting forward ideas that help his own biases, and from what I’ve read ( I haven’t read God against the gods but did read Harlot on the side of the road a while back) he’s basically on the same level and intent as is Helen Ellerbe, who studies the Biblical accounts or History in order to criticise them, and uses his (limited) academic credentials to help provide him greater authority, as if this helps his argument.

    If I want help with my Taxes I will go to Kirsch, if I want actual Biblical studies, I’ll go to Ehrman if I want an Atheists perspective. Or perhaps E.P. Sanders. Or even Karen Armstrong if I’m in the mood.

    But not Kirsch.

    By the way, have you read Dr. Rowan Williams? His latest book was a wonderful piece. I can link to Amazon if you’d like.

  13. Read Man Made God: A Collection of Essays by Barbara G. Walker and stop being a crazy apologist for ancient death cults.

  14. Barbara Walker is a Crackpot with no academic training whose one book I've looked at, "The Women’s Encyclopaedia Of Myths And Secrets' is so chocked full of absurdity there’s no way I'd buy into it. You may as well suggest Acharya S.

    That’s the problem, the sources cited here are descending in value. Will Durant was about the highest one, and even he was really a Philosopher and highly biased, and his History Books filled with error and subjective interpretation that exceeded justification. Then we get Jonathan Kirsch, a Lawyer who doesn’t really seem all that well known who, from what I’ve read really hasn’t put a lot of thought into his Thesis, and now Barbara Walker, the New Age Wiccan Atheist feminist Guru who spouts about the Goddess one minuet then how here are no gods the next, and who buys into the whole “Goddess culture was better than the evil patriarchy” nonsense. She twists things to create a feminine History that never was, and lionises Pagan Cultures whilst demonising Christians even though he real pagan Cultures ere worse to women than were the Christians, out of her own bizarre biases.

    Why take her seriously?

    This is the same Barbara G. Walker who said that in Acts we see Christians ordered to Rob and destroy the Temple of Artimis, yet the actual verse says they haven’t done this, and were let go by the Governor. No such order exists. The same Barbara Walker who says the 12 Disciples are the 12 Hours of the Day? The same Barbara Walker who calls a moon god a moon goddess? The same Barbara Walker who said Little Red Riding Hood was based on the goddess Diana or who said that Leda was an Egyptian goddess not a mortal human (Greek) Princess? I hope you are joking, because Walker is not credible.

    Using her as a reference only serves to prove my greater point, you lot aren’t here to try to get others to embrace reason over Religion, your here to make sure your own hatred of Christianity grows and to use that as a springboard into your own Religious beliefs.

    Anything that attacks Christianity or that depicts it as evil will be used as if its a Valid source.

    Why not look at real Scholars for a change?

  15. Oh wait, I just looked it up on Amazon.Com. It was co-written by D. M. Murdock, AKA Acharya S!

    Come on guys, you think this is credible?

  16. Zarove - I rarely censor but you're over the top. Twelve posts in one day? You're trying to hitchhike on my credibility, posting junk that nobody would read if you had your own blog. It's cluttering up my blog so that nobody else wants to participate.

    New rule: one post per day, a couple short paragraphs. Everyone else seems to be capable of expressing themselves concisely, so why not you? You claim to be a writer, and succinctness is one of the hallmarks of a good writer. Break the rule, and your posts get deleted. All of them.

    This is my blog. If you want to write whole books every day, get your own blog.

  17. Hey ZAROVE, the reason you won't read any of Barbara G. Walker or D. M. Murdock, AKA Acharya S books is because you're a coward who's afraid of facts with sources. Heck you're probably a crazy YEC. Your imaginary god is the god of willful ignorance and submission. It's nothing but a telephone game gone horribly wrong.

  18. Mr. James, your rule is draconian. I could see a rule that said no multiple posts, but one that says one post per day applied only to me? Others post more than once per day, surly you can allow me more than one a day too.

    Anon, I've read "The Christ Conspiracy" and "Women’s Encyclopaedia". If you think these are books that are factually based and sourced, an present proven facts, you prove my point that this is not about reason triumphing over Religion. This is about Hatred of Christianity and using any source that attacks it as legitimate.

    The Creation/Evolution Litmus is irrelevant froth, by the way, it wouldn’t matter if I were a Young Earth creationist or a staunch Atheists, my points on these matters are independent on my views on Creation.

  19. Wow. I wanted to give props to Kirsch's book last night, and left it for this morning, and here is a train wreck.

    Zarove (why all the caps?) I have to wonder what sort of PhD you claim to be working on - it smacks of bible college, and of no real use in the real world.

    The Christian Bible is no more a source of facts than are the Upanishads, the Egyptian Book of The Dead, the Bhagavad Gita, Liber Null, Dianetics, the Book Of The Law, Abrahamelin The Mage, or any other so-called holy book.

    The above might be sources of poetry, literature, a look at how humans once thought, but to try to derive fact from them about the real world is silly.

    Oh, and it was Akhenaten who was the historically agreed upon first monotheist.

  20. There are other books from D. M. Murdock, AKA Acharya S besides The Christ Conspiracy. Such as Suns of God, Who Was Jesus and Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection.

  21. Does nobody actually read the Bible? I noticed this when I was just a child. Why does God acknowledge the existence of the other gods? When it mentions other gods, it doesn't refer to them as made up or imaginary false gods. It acts as if they are real, but the Jews aren't supposed to worship them. Or that the main Bible God is more powerful than they are.

    I guess the best answer I could come up with at the time was that the other gods were really there, but they were actually demons pretending to be gods. In which case, God should have simply destroyed them if he actually cared.

    That's the interesting thing about religion. The average person doesn't study it enough to find the inconsistencies. And those that study it more thoroughly just find a rational solution to their own quandaries if they think about it long enough within the context. It can always be justified within itself. ("This part doesn't make sense with my modern Christian beliefs. Satan/Demons must be behind it!")

  22. Anon - Bart Ehrman's Jesus, Interrupted addresses the very question you ask, "Don't people read the Bible?" Yes, they read it, but they read it the wrong way. People read it in chapters, or they take a verse here and a verse there. But they never look at a story, like the Sermon on the Mount or the Easter story or Genesis. It's only when you try to follow a single story, to find all parts of it and put it together into a cohesive whole, that the inconsistencies and craziness become really obvious. Frederick March did the same thing in his encyclopedic book, The Bible Through the Eyes of its Authors.

    Interestingly, almost all seminary schools do teach the inconsistencies. One of the questions that Bart Ehrman asks is, "Why the double standard?" Why are the priests and preachers taught one story, but then teach a completely different story to the masses? It's a fascinating book.

    At the risk of sounding self-serving, your question about God versus the gods is one of the questions I address at length in The Religion Virus.

  23. I agree with you some.The Bible does mention Abraham worshipping planets until God changes him or Jehovah changes him.I am not affiliated with religions but I did go to a Christian academy which was more of he'll than heaven.Like it or hate it it is true.Critics hold nothing but insults.Christmas and Easter are pagan.Jesus was not born on December 25,yet Mithra was and the Cstholic church has a statue of Mithra stabbing a bull in the Vatacan and that is one reason why I never went Catholic and that they pray to statues of Mary.Idolatry basically.People are obligated to their opinions and as Albert Einstein said:Opinions are e cheapest commodities on earth.Fight on critics while I watch the ridiculousness.

  24. The Bible was compiled by the pagan Roman counsel and by a vote it became The Word of God which does not make it so.A vote is a vote.It is not like God wrote a book and handed it to a person and it became the Bible.Many believe that Genesis is a book by scribe priests.


Dear readers -- I am no longer blogging and after leaving these blogs open for two years have finally stopped accepting comments due to spammers. Thanks for your interest. If you'd like to write to me, click on the "Contact" link at the top. Thanks! -- CJ.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.