A member of a Christian forum asks:
I know several places in the bible it says have no other gods before YWH[sic], and that he’s the most powerful, but does it ever say he’s the only one?
What do you think about other gods?
I cannot help but offer my own thoughts:
In my understanding, all gods are created by the humans that want them to exist to explain what happens in the world. Gods are a part of our cultures, and they evolve as we do. Gods began as celestial bodies (sun worship) and gods who ruled different natural forces (gods of fertility, volcanoes, the sea). As we grew to know more about how the world worked, our gods grew to be more and more complex, more powerful, and more concerned with the ways of humans. Once we knew that the sun rose and set on its own, there was no need for a deity to carry it across the sky. Once we discovered our orbit and gravity, we could let go of the giant turtle that carried the flat earth on its back.
So yes, other gods did and do exist… but only in the mids of those who worship them. The ancient gods died along with the people who created them (like Ra and Apollo). Some gods linger on (Allah, Shiva) because they thrive in their home cultures.
Yahweh is one of the most advanced gods because he can be defined a bit more than the others and is more personal. We say he is outside of time because we know what time is and what restraints it puts on our universe. We say he speaks through books because we have written languages and the technology to pass it on. God is as advanced and as brilliant as we are, because our amazing minds imagined him and adore him.
This is just the way we are. I’m sure in the future our deities will grow and evolve to fit into the holes that science has not yet closed, into the mysteries that are still unsolved.
It’s kind of confusing, in a way… deities are getting bigger all the time as our minds and imaginations expand… but at the same time they shrink smaller and smaller as we give them less and less credit for the natural things of this universe.
We truly are amazing, thoughtful beings.
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My thoughts are greatly inspired by the documentary Creator of God: A Brain Surgeon’s Story and the Q&A session our audience had with the creator Dr. Vivekanand Palavali at a local film festival. Although it has some weaknesses, I recommend seeing this film if you have the chance–especially if you have an agnostic or believing friend with you. It sparks some lively conversations!