The book of Exodus gives God’s demand that the Jews avoid foreign religions when they returned to Canaan (“You shall have no other gods before me,” etc.). God had to make sure that they weren’t corrupted.
[SFX: Record scratch]
Wait a minute! How could they have been corrupted?
The Jews enter a land full of foreign gods—invented gods—but God had made plain the correct religion. How would those made-up gods look next to the real deal? Judaism would be a stunning and brilliant jewel compared to the other religions’ tawdry plastic beads.
Imagine the Hollywood set of a Western town, built with plywood facades, compared to a real building—Neuschwanstein castle, say. Who’d be tempted to stray to the cutout imposter if you could have the real thing?
Another example: imagine that God provided Disney World for the Jews but warned against moving into the filthy trailer park across the street. Why bother with the warning? How could anyone possibly be tempted?
Similarly, with the Jews given the correct religion, how could God have ever been worried that another religion would be the least bit compelling?
… or maybe Judaism didn’t look special. Perhaps the prohibitions—remember that these were imposed by priests—made a lot of sense because in fact early Judaism looked similar to all the other Canaanite religions.
The very existence of these prohibitions argues that Judaism was made up, just like the rest.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
- See all the arguments in favor of atheism at the first post in the series, God Doesn’t Exist: Historians Reject the Bible Story
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Haha. I was hoping for a good argument here instead I get this?…
So you’re saying that the more people are drawn to something, the more substance it must have. I guess you also think the Transformers movies are the most culturally relevant and artistically meaningful pieces of cinema of our generation.
Atheist tip: The same logic can be used to make an argument for theism, and a lot of theists do use it.
Sorry to disappoint.
I’m saying that reasonable people, given the facts, will be drawn to the real deal rather than a sham.
Thanks for the tip, but it makes zero sense. Explain to me how the theist would use this argument to argue for his position.
‘I’m saying that reasonable people, given the facts, will be drawn to the real deal rather than a sham.’
Well in the case of the Israelites, it wasn’t a matter of one being the real deal and the others being a sham, because it was all real to them. They believed every nation had its own god, so it was a case of where their loyalties were. If they were tempted by a Canaanite god, I wouldn’t see that as evidence that the Israelite god wasn’t real, anymore than I would see it as evidence that the Canaanite god was real.
‘Explain to me how the theist would use this argument to argue for his position.’
The theist would argue (poorly, I might add): If people are drawn to the real deal, then his God must be real because millions of people follow his religion.
Agreed. And that’s my point. We all agree that Baal or Moloch or any other Canaanite god are nonsense. They don’t exist, but they were as real to the Israelites as Yahweh was.
But what does that say about Yahweh?
I agree that the bandwagon argument is ineffective. But that’s not the argument I’m making in this post.
If you’re arguing: The Israelites were tempted by other bandwagons, therefore their bandwagon was made up.
Fair enough, but for it to work you would have to acknowledge the opposite as being true:
If the Israelites were only devoted to their bandwagon and nothing else, then their bandwagon must be real.
Otherwise you run the risk of using a double standard. And that sounds like a bandwagon argument if I ever heard one.
As I thought I made clear in the post, if the Israelites were not only devoted to their own god over all others but weren’t tempted in the least (so that no warning against straying to other gods would’ve been necessary), then the claim that Yahweh existed would be at least supported.
I’m completely missing my use of the bandwagon argument.
‘if the Israelites were not only devoted to their own god over all others but weren’t tempted in the least (so that no warning against straying to other gods would’ve been necessary), then the claim that Yahweh existed would be at least supported.’
Ok but the problem with that is, if complete and utter devotion gives supporting evidence for the existence of a deity, then the theist could use that same logic and tell you that the hardcore devoted followers of his/her religion is evidence of the god of that religion to exist. I don’t know any Atheists who would agree with that argument, despite it using the same logic.
That being said, the Christian Bible is choc full of warnings about being tempted, not just by gods but by other stuff too. Jesus spoke about the subject with a seed parable. My point here is that your idea that a follower of a real god would never “in the least” be tempted is not a Christian claim, it is an assumption that you have bought to the table and is therefore a strawman. It can not be said that Christianity has defeated itself in this instance as the crux of the argument is not acknowledged by the Christian religion.
No! Not utter devotion but finding the alternatives completely uncompelling. It’s because Yahweh had to caution them against going to the competition that says that there was viable competition, and that Yahweh appeared to be just another Canaanite god like Molech or Baal, and that (since those gods are nonsense) that puts Yahweh’s existence in a poor light.
I think the post was pretty clear about this, but if this message didn’t come through, let me know.
Right. And I’m focused on just one kind of temptation here.
No more use of the bandwagon argument, then?
“if the Israelites were not only devoted to their own god over all others”
“No! Not utter devotion”
So now devotion now comes out of the equation?
No no, bandwagon is still here –>Billions of believers today would indeed find the “alternatives completely uncompelling”. I wouldn’t see it as having any bearing on whether or not their god exists.
The fact that Christianity has fully acknowledges temptation as a problem, it is no surprise to any Christian that the Israelites were compelled by other gods. If the New Testament stated something along the lines of ‘you will never be tempted by anything once you’ve started following the real God.’ Then Christianity would indeed have defeated itself. But the NT says no such thing.
Huh? Did I introduce the idea of devotion? I thought it was you.
My last post explains my position pretty well, I think.
Are we on the same page here? The Bandwagon Fallacy is saying, “Ten million Buick owners can’t be wrong!” or “nine out of ten doctors smoke Camels!” That is, if everyone is doing it, it must be right.
I don’t see where the bandwagon fallacy applies to my post.
Given Disneyworld and a trailer park, do I even need to warn you away from the trailer park?
Given you favorite politician and a cardboard cutout of that person, do I need to warn you that the cutout isn’t worth voting for?
And given a real, actual, no-questions-about-it god and Moloch, do I need to warn you against worshipping Moloch?
Modern Christians may well not be surprised that the Israelites were tempted. But then they agree with my post: that Moloch was pretty much as real as Yahweh.
So I guess we’re on the same page.