The Existence of God Wasn’t Always A Question

Bible-openSome years back I had an amazing revelation when I was reading Psalm 115 related to the existence of God—not whether He exists but how to digest the arguments against His existence by those who do not recognize Him. In Psalm 115, the writer includes a section about idols:

Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of man’s hands.
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have noses, but they cannot smell;
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
They have feet, but they cannot walk;
They cannot make a sound with their throat. (vv 4-7)

The thing is, this is written in juxtaposition to “But our God is in the heavens.” In other words, by implication, the psalmist is saying, God is all that these idols are not.

My thought was, how did the psalmist know? Did he see a vision of God? Or accept that God had spoken through the Torah? Did he believe the stories passed down from father to son about God in the midst of Israel’s camp for forty straight years—or was he one of those older children who witnessed God’s presence? Was he, perhaps, a high priest who had seen the tablets written by the finger of God? Or had he heard a prophet and witnessed the fulfillment of his words?

Interestingly, this statement that God is in the heavens seems to be unquestioned, not the introduction of a topic to debate.

Years later, Jeremiah said something very similar, but the fact that he was a prophet would indicate to me that he had first hand knowledge of the fact that God lives.

First, reciting what God said, he describes the inanimate idols of the nations, ending with:

“Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they,
And they cannot speak;
They must be carried,
Because they cannot walk!
Do not fear them,
For they can do no harm,
Nor can they do any good.” (Jeremiah 10:5)

The next verse, and this would appear to be Jeremiah’s conclusion, says “There is none like You, O LORD;/You are great, and great is Your name in might.”

All this to say, it doesn’t appear that the Israelites had any question about God’s existence. Their problem was His identity.

Moses’s question was this: When the people ask me for Your name, what should I tell them?

I used to have trouble with the answer: I AM WHO I AM. What did that even mean?

Now I realize it is most profound. God is and always has been. He is before anything else was and He will continue to be, without end. He is the creator and sustainer of the world. All things find their being in Him and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him is life and breath. And He has no end.

So my revelation? Questioning the existence of God seems to be a very modern thing. The psalmist and Jeremiah had no problem identifying false gods as nothing, but they knew quite well that God lives.

This article, minus some minor editorial changes, first appeared here at A Christian Worldview Of Fiction in December 2007.

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Published in: on January 14, 2016 at 6:53 pm  Comments (13)  
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13 Comments

  1. I use to have trouble understanding the phrase “The Great I AM” but through time, experience and building my relationship with him I know EXACTLY what it means. I am who I am; yes he is, THE GREAT I AM! Glad I stumbled across your blog:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome, realtalk. I’m glad you stumbled on this blog too. It’s always encouraging to hear what God is doing in another Christian’s life, so thanks for adding your voice.

      Becky

      Like

  2. I believe it is incumbent on every individual, and especially those brought up in a religious household to question absolutely everything pertaining to religion, and the god they are obliged to revere should be subject t the most severe scrutiny.

    The Christian god, Yahweh, is so little understood by almost all Christians it is almost beyond belief – if you will excuse the pun.
    Christians are never encouraged to examine – and I mean truly examine, the historical foundations of this god.

    The biblical tales are ”hammered” home from an early age with no thought or regard for archaeology and scientific advancements.

    All religions should be taught at schools, or at least as broad a spectrum as possible.
    Christian origins should be paramount on thus curriculum and once again the history of Yahweh.

    Why are so many Christians completely ignorant of the Ugarit tablets?

    As you are a writer I am sure you conduct in depth, thorough research all the time so why on earth are you promoting belief in a god that was simply one of a pantheon of Canaanite deities – and one who even had a consort!

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    • Ark, you approach God from a twenty-first century perspective. In ages past, people didn’t question the existence of God because He was as clear to them as the sun. Do you question the existence of the sun?

      But here we both are in a culture that does question God’s existence, so I agree with you that it’s a good thing to look the issue. I assume other Christians have done the same thing. The ones I know in my day to day life certainly have. So it baffles me why you and other atheists assume we don’t question. Is it because some who once professed belief questioned and turned away, concluding that everyone who questioned would be like them and turn away?

      You can see some of this process of questioning here: https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/the-assurance-of-things-hoped-for/

      And did you miss the questions in this post? It really is a vapid argument to say, Christians believe because they don’t question (or because they don’t actually read the Bible or because they are ignorant of science, or whatever other “Christians are ignorant” slant the argument takes). It’s simply not true—not of Christians, as opposed to pretend Christians. Because, yes, there are plenty of people who say they are Christians because that’s the culture they were raised in but they don’t know much about Christianity at all, especially not the foundation of it.

      I know more than one believer who said they were raised going to church, but they didn’t become a Christian until later in life. They’d basically been “playing church” up to that point. But at some point, “the eyes of their heart” were unveiled, and they understood the truth. The truth, in turn, set them free from sin and guilt and the law and the ultimate separation from God that would have been their destiny.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

      • So if you are as informed on this subject as you appear to be asserting why do you promote and worship the Canaanite deity, Yahweh? ( I am perhaps incorrectly – presuming you know that Yahweh was originally Canaanite and a originally a lessor god in the Canaanite Pantheon)
        And can you please answer the question directly without any sort of deflection?
        We can extend the discussion via a vis ”sin” later if you like?
        Thanks.

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        • God is God, Ark. He isn’t one of a pantheon of gods. Think about it. If there is a sovereign, omnipotent being, there can’t be more than one! Multiple gods would share sovereignty and therefore none would be sovereign. And how can more than one god be all powerful?

          So God—who identified Himself to Moses as I AM—is the one true God. Others are pretenders or false gods or idols.

          And since God created the heavens and the earth, He wasn’t “originally Canaanite.” He created Canaan and all of the Middle East. No nation or tribe or people owns Him.

          We’re not going to see eye to eye on this because you believe people invented god. It’s just not so. That an ancient people group used the name Yahweh only tells me that somewhere they’d been introduced to the One True God. That doesn’t surprise me at all, since God was in the beginning. Of course people knew Him and talked about Him. It also wouldn’t surprise me if they perverted worship of Him, even if they twisted it to be something completely different from His revelation through the Bible. I mean, that’s what the northern kingdom of Israel did. That’s even what Moses’s brother Aaron did. Man has been “re-imagining” God since the fall.

          Becky

          Liked by 1 person

          • I am sorry, Becky but you are mistaken and if you truly wish to understand the history of Yahweh yo need to read up on the Ugaritic tablets.

            We live in an age of incredible ease of access to information and willful ignorance simply is no excuse any longer.
            There are numerous sites on the internet that you can look at which describe these texts n detail.
            For you, a writer obliged to research thoroughly and, no doubt, to fact- check, there really is no excuse for you not to thoroughly research the origins of Yahweh.

            Furthermore, your referencing Moses is also a clear indication of indoctrination or a bloody-minded attitude toward history.
            There was never any real live historical character named Moses.
            The Pentateuch is simply historical fiction – a series of books written for by Jews, for Jews who recognize the
            writing as by and large geopolitical myth.
            The Torah was never intended for gentiles, and you know this.

            To reiterate:

            The Ugarit tablets show that El was the supreme Canaanite deity and Yahweh was simply one of the sons of god, a lessor deity in the pantheon.
            The Israelites adopted Yahweh, elevated him above El and eventually denied all other gods.
            I dd not wrote this stuff – it is there for all to read and learn.

            You can deny all you like but you can no longer claim ignorance, Becky.

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          • Ark, your bias is showing. Because I’ve studied and come up with a different conclusion from you, you think I haven’t studied. What I can’t seem to make clear is that God, Yahweh, “pre-dates” the Ugaritic tablets. There is no reason to study them as if I’ll find truth in them as you seem to think.

            And Moses was actually a real life person. You have no proof to say other wise other than your interpretations of the Bible. There simply is no historical record that says, Moses never existed; he wasn’t a real person.

            Becky

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          • Bias?
            I read, study and follow evidence.

            How can Yahweh predate the Ugarit tablets?
            Or are you referring to an Egyptian reference?
            If so, please specify, and be aware that I too have studied this.

            ”And Moses was a real life person.”

            As historians and scholars have pretty much established when the Torah was composed, and the fact that archaeological evidence has established the settlement pattern of the early Israelites – which was internal, there being no captivity,Exodus or military conquest – please supply evidence for this statement.

            Thank you.

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          • Yes, Ark. You write as if this is a settled issue, as if all archaeologists agree, as if only ignorant Christians hold to the Biblical account. But those assertions are just not so. I’ll give you two links to support the fact that there isn’t agreement in the archaeological community. First is a scholarly article by a Christian and second is a one by a Film News writer with the London Telegraph, prompted by the movie about Moses that came out last year, I think.

            https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/moses/searching-for-moses/

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/11307733/Exodus-the-evidence-for-the-Bible-story.html

            The point I’m making is if you read these articles: there isn’t a settled understanding of the history of this period and place. Hence, it’s only your decision to believe certain narratives over others that make you say such categorical things as, Moses never existed.

            I’ll also stipulate that I’m biased as well. Maybe I should say, I’m convinced of the truth of the Bible, so I think it’s the best starting point to understand archaeological findings.

            Becky

            Liked by 1 person

          • Is this all you have?
            I asked for archaeological evidence to
            back your statement and you offer this drivel?
            The author ballsed up the number of Israelites and that was the first and last straw.
            For shame you call yourself an author if this is the level of rubbish you rely on for your facts, Becky.
            The numbers would have been closer to 2 million and when one considers the estimated population of Egypt at this time the demographics alone should tell you this is simply a load of crap and such a massive sudden population depletion would have cause an unprecedented economic collapse.

            What about a rebuttal of Dever or Finkelstein , or Her’zog?
            Do you think these and the hundreds of other archaeologists who have spent almost their entire professional lives devoted to uncovering the archaeological ”title deeds” to Israel as it were are all involved in some massive worldwide conspiracy that they would willingly admit there is no evidence for an Exodus and acknowledge there IS evidence of an internal settlement pattern that runs contrary to the biblical tale?

            Are you seriously suggesting all these men and women are liars?

            The overwhelming archaeological position is this:
            The Exodus is simply a geopolitical myth an the evidence clearly show that there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.
            And you are correct, only ignorant fundamentalists and biblical innerantists consider the biblical tale has any veracity.
            if you wish to continue this then please supply genuine archaeological links otherwise you only continue to make yourself look rather silly, confirming your earlier statement about ignorant Christians.

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  3. Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ark, I’m sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. Also, I’m bringing the comment thread out from the embedded reply–too hard to read.

    So you wanted archaeological evidence. I assumed that, and that’s what I gave. The links I provided are discussions of archaeological finds and how to interpret them. Like every other historical fact there are interpretations of those facts. The interpretation is based on your presupposition. You clearly have determined in your mind that the Bible doesn’t give reliable evidence. The scholars who wrote those articles and who hold the positions and did the studies they discuss, take the opposite view. They believe the Bible is reliable and it is we humans and our suppositions about things that happened thousands of years ago that are incorrect.

    So there really is no “answer” in archaeology as you want. It’s very much a he said/she said situation, which is why it’s good to look at other things when you discuss God’s existence. When inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning and experience and documentation and more are taken into account, the interpretation of the archaeological evidence falls into place.

    Becky

    Liked by 1 person


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