Do you believe in Yahwe?

This is a bit unhandy, as embedding was disabled, but you can look at the video I want to speak about here.

The story is told relatively quick, supposingly more quickly than watching the video:

Person A asks person B about his or her belief in a variety of godhead names: Vishnu, Baal, Shemosh, Thor, you name it. person B keeps saying „no“, to all the questions.

"Garuda Vahan Vishnu," from the Ravi Varma studio, c.1910's Source- ebay, Oct. 2009


Person A does not react to these answers in any way, just keeps on throwing names of godheads at person B. This goes on for a while until person B answers the same „no“ to the belief in Yahwe.

All of a sudden person A starts cussing and yelling at person B all kind of things, basically saying that person B was very very evil not believing in Yahwe.

The video has a point. In some way. That is insofar as it criticises condemnation of people who do not believe in God (or any other godhead). As for christianity, I wish my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would rather approach people of different or no faith with love then with condemnation, cussing and the like. It should not play a role, what a person believes for how we treat her or him. Christ commanded us to love. Period.

But on the other side, the video also speaks of someone havng gotten into a trap. The trap of mixing up god and God. This is why I write „godhead“ above.

Johann Heinrich Füssli 011

Thor fighting the snake of Midgard

The wrong presumption is that there was no real difference between Yahwe, Vishnu or Thor and disbelief in the one was the same as disbelief in the other or any of them or all together. It is not.

And I am not going to tell you that the difference was that Yahwe exists and Baal does not. While I do believe this my self, of course, being a christian, this is not what I am talking about here.

What I am taling about is the diffrence between a polytheistic godhead and the monotheistic God, like Yahwe, or even Allah, if you like. Even the Flying Spaghetti Monster should qualify, f anybody really beieved in it, which I do question.

Anyway, what is the difference between God and the godheads. The first way to recognise this would be to see that people did (and do) believe in Thor and Odin at the same time, or Zeus and Poseidon, or Vishnu and Ganesha, but hardly in Yahwe and Mars, or Allah and Baal.

Historical sidenote: Historically seen, there was most supposingly a time when people did indeed believe in Yahwe and Astarte or other godheads. I know this, you don’t need to point this out to me. And while the same name Yahwe is used, the concept behind it is different. The Yahwe besides Astarte, El or Shemesh is not more than a godhead, while the other Yahwe, God Yahwe, is a monotheistic God. Many scholars believe that there was an evolution from polytheism over henotheism to monotheism. What I am referring here to is monotheism, none of its supposed prior forms, whether or not they have existed before (I just don’t want to go into that discussion here).

So what is the difference between monotheism and polytheism? The difference is that polytheistic godheads are weak enough that there can be other godheads beside them, while a monotheistic God does not and will not make it even possible to have other godheads besides Him (or Her if you like).

Understood correctly, this would render the first commandment superfluous, because there would just not b the possibility to have other godheads beside a truly monotheistic God. And from that point of view it would not make a big difference whether you call Him (or Her) Yahwe, Allah or Hank. (the problem is that people do not always keep a strict monotheism, that’s why the first commandment still makes sense).

Baal Ugarit Louvre AO17330

Figurine of Baal found in Ras Shamra

Monotheism means that there is one God who created everything (I’d like to hear about monotheistic Gods who are not also thought of as creators) and is beyong everything else, not only above. There is a qualitative difference between a monotheistic God and all that belongs to creation. On the other hand are the polytheistic godheads, each one having their own affairs to deal with, none of them is really superior to all the others, fights are possible and we have stories about that. Basically they are closer to modern superheros like Spiderman or Superman, than to a monotheistic God. They are powerful, but not unable to overcome, be it by some other godhead or some (human) trickster.

So person A woud be more sensible asking person B whether he (or she) believed in any system of godheads (pantheon) or whether she (or he) believed in a monotheistic God. Of which there are also many, besides Yahwe also Allah or the FSM and others. So it’s not that all monotheisms would be the same. They have very different ideas of their God.

And one final note: I am not too deep into modern Hindu theology, but I think I heard about all Hindu godheads being only appearances of the same one God. Yes, God, capital letter, because I guess this would then be a monotheism as well.

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