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Judaism begins at the beginning as the basis for all of the Abrahamic faiths, with The Book of Genesis. The authorship of this book is attributed to Moses, but modern historical analysis more or less categorically rejects that possibility. In Genesis alone, for example several distinct, overlapping stories are told, including two different statements of the creation of women at entirely different times and circumstances, in quite different literary ``voices''. In addition:

And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-Cain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

Genesis 4:22
Iron positively dates this passage to being written after the beginning of the Iron Age in the Middle East - around 1200 BCE. This passage was therefore written at least 200 years after the presumed dates of Moses and Exodus. However, this passage is indicative of a much greater degree of anachronism. Tubal-Cain is a seventh generation descendent of Adam, living long before the presumed flood that was in turn long before the time of Moses. This passage is describing events that supposedly occurred some 3000 years earlier. Furthermore, the tone of the verse makes it clear that he was an instructor of artificers, plural, something that could only have been written long after instructers were commonplace, long after the beginning of the Iron Age. It is probably pretty safe to say that it was written sometime in the first millenium BCE, long after the discovery of iron, when iron workers were no doubt relatively commonplace and such a verse would raise no eyebrows.

One might be able to quibble about whether or not iron was known to Moses in spite of the lack of any objective evidence for the use of iron earlier than 1200 BCE, but one can be quite certain that it was not known in 4000 BCE, before even the early Bronze Age in Mesopotamia. A historical fourth or fifth millenium BCE Tubal-Cain might have been a potter, but not a worker of metals. Not that one really should need to quibble over this sort of thing in a work that is an obvious mythology, but on the basis of this single passage we can be reasonably certain that Genesis was not written by Moses at all, but rather was written long afterwards to describe individuals known only as myths or legends, not real people.

This should instantly remove any possible cachet of Genesis as a ``divinely inspired work'' written by a patriarch and saint beloved of God - at least the bit about Adam and Eve and their offspring was the product of an anonymous author who lived at least hundreds if not thousands of years after Moses (if Moses lived at all and isn't himself just a legendary figure). It is difficult to say, since our oldest manuscript fragments of the Old Testament are scarcely older than our oldest manuscript fragments of the New Testament, since it is entirely plausible that all manuscript copies of the Torah were destroyed in the sack of Israel by the Babylonians and were secretly reconstructed from verbal transmissions (interpolating and writing anew as required) in perhaps the fifth or sixth century BCE instead of from a copy that ``miraculously'' survived. By then iron would have been commonplace, of course, which perfectly explains its insertion into a Jewish version of prevelant Sumerian creation mythology.

With that said, let's examine that mythology. Is God the Universe? No, God moves over a preexisting deep, dark, body of water with a surface (so up and down already exist, gravity exists, the space where God moves already exists, time already exists, and none of these are God, God is inside of them, a simple part of the Universe.

It is dark, so God creates light and ``divides it from the darkness'' making day and night, in spite of the fact that there is no sun, there are no stars yet. God then creates a firmament (solid body) in the middle of the deep water and uses it to create a cavity that holds off the waters above from the waters below, calling this solid body heaven. God then pulls waters out of this cavity until the irregular bottom emerges, creating the earth from the lower firmament. God then creates grass, seed-bearing herbs, and fruit trees (still no sun, remember, and no bees).

Only then does God create the lights of the sun, moon, and stars and hangs them on the solid overhead bowl of heaven to ``give light upon the earth'', in the process recreating day and night. The moon, note well, is luminescent, not reflective, the firmament is a bubble that surrounds the earth and holds off the waters above, everything hangs from the sky and can be shaken down by earthquakes. Finally, he fills in the animals and makes a single pair of humans.

There is no purpose to be served by pointing out that all of this is systematically contradicted by every single thing we have learned in physics, chemistry, biology, geology, cosmology, history and archeology. Not a single word of it is even a good metaphor for what the evidence tells us. No human being who was ignorant of the existence of the Book of Genesis (and hence lacked socially conditioned confirmation bias) would ever examine the actual evidence concerning the natural history of the world and construct on the basis of that study a model that was in correspondance with Genesis in any way.

However, all we care about in this context is that the God portrayed is a part of the Universe, not the whole thing, and that the Universe created has finite physical boundaries, is shaped like a bubble placed in a pre-existing gravitational field. God cannot therefore have perfect knowledge of the Universe, and very probably lacks perfect knowledge of even thy dynamic contents of this bubble, as God is outside of and distinct from the bubble and clearly existed in space and time before the bubble of the firmament partitioned a bunch of stuff that already existed in that space and time. This God is not God, it is just a cosmic engineer with finite abilities and knowledge and bound to time, just like us.

This latter view is repeatedly reinforced by all the later books of the Old (and New) Testament. Time and again God is presented with events that obviously surprised and annoyed him, where either experience is hardly possible for a standard model omniscient omnipotent Deity that predestined the events in questions. The God of the Old Testament is a pimply adolescent playing with toys that are distinct from itself, not a self-actualized, compassionate, superbeing, that is the toys it is playing with.

We can therefore positively conclude that the God of the Old Testament is impossible as it contradicts this theorem concerning God. Even if you are willing to completely ignore the staggeringly perfect contradiction of Genesis by evidence-based knowledge, even if you are willing to invoke simple magic to explain all of the contradictions of science and history and ethics evident in the stories, even if you wish to use hermeneutics to interpret your way out of all of these difficulties, it is simply not possible to ignore the fact that the God portrayed is a Creator, distinct from its Creation, and that this is a Gödelian paradox that is information theoretically impossible if God is to be God.

next up previous contents
Next: Hinduism Up: Theistic Models Previous: Theistic Models   Contents
Robert G. Brown 2014-02-06