Is God a Human Fiction?
Inventing God. A question recently came to the website about that. "What is this I hear about archeological discoveries that point to the Israelites [creating] the idea of Yhwa [Jehovah] from YHW, the patron god of the "Shaw-say" in Egypt?
I assume that the questioner had seen one of the PBS documentaries about the Bible. Irritating stuff, in my opinion! I usually end up turning to another channel. What we are dealing with is a bottom-up way of looking at things, versus a top-down way. (I'll explain further in a moment.)
It all comes down to where our faith is placed. The Christian puts his faith in God, and in His trustworthy Word. The secular humanist places it in an evolutionary theory that seems to make God unnecessary. Natural processes, and the operation of blind chance, over time, are thought to account for everything. Charles Darwin popularized this way of thinking with his 1859 book on evolution in the world of nature. But others were soon applying evolutionary ideas to what was happening in society, in industry, in economics, and to religion as well.
For the Christian, everything begins with God. "Of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever" (Rom. 11:36). God alone is eternal, in the sense of having no beginning as well as no ending (Ps. 90:2). Everything else that exists has been called into being out of nothing, by His almighty word. For example, "God said, ‘Let there be light;' and there was light" (Gen. 1:3). "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible" (Heb. 11:3; cf. Isa. 46:9-10).
If human beings choose to take what I've called the "bottom-up" view, "God" becomes the invention of men who, perhaps in prehistoric times, were looking for some way to explain things they could not understand. According to this notion, their desire caused religious beliefs about spirit beings to evolve piecemeal and willy-nilly over thousands of years. As you can see, this is completely opposition to a top down concept in which the eternal God reveals Himself to humans who would not otherwise know Him.
And since the creator is always greater than what he creates, man inventing a god means he is actually making himself god! This way of thinking began on earth when Satan (in the guise of a serpent) tempted Adam and Eve. He argued that they did not have to obey God, that, in fact, they could be their own gods (Gen. 3:1-5). We have been reaping the painful results of their rebellion and disobedience ever since.
These days there is much discussion in the media about "intelligent design." Many people who believe in God (not necessarily just born again Christians) feel that children in our schools are being short-changed if only naturalistic evolution is taught. There is so much evidence in creation that requires intelligent design by a Being greater than ourselves. An unbiased view of nature points to the careful planning and great wisdom behind it. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" (Ps. 19:1; cf. Rom. 1:19-20).
That being said, however, there are many more things about God that we simply cannot deduce by looking at the world of nature. That is why God has given us two special revelations of Himself. For one thing, the Lord has revealed a great deal about Himself and His will for us in His inspired Word, the Bible. The Apostle Paul confessed that the gospel he preached and wrote about was not a human invention. The Lord revealed it to him (Gal. 1:11-12; cf. II Tim 3:16).
There is also a personal revelation of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Son came to this earth as Man, and He too is called the "Word" of God in the Scriptures. With words, we can have information in a language we do not understand translated into one we do. And we could say that Christ has, in His Person, "translated" the eternal, invisible God into terms we can better understand (Jn. 1:1, 14; Col. 2:9).
But instead of accepting God's revelation of Himself, many human beings have turned their backs on Him and, and in the words of Romans, "their foolish hearts were darkened" (Rom. 1:21). They replaced Almighty God with gods of their own invention, idol gods shaped like animals or human beings. The utter blindness of this man-made religion is seen in the total impotence of these gods to do anything at all (cf. Ps. 115:1-8). "Professing themselves to be wise," the Bible says, "they became fools" (Rom. 1:22-23).
Don't be too quick to accept high-sounding, clever "proofs" of some theory (like inventing God) that contradicts the Bible. Often the information has been distorted on the basis of an anti-God, humanistic position. And sometimes claims are adjusted and opinions are forced to change as more data comes to light. For example, for a long time scholars denied the existence of a people called the Hittites, a group the Bible mentions about 50 times. Conclusion: the Bible must be wrong. But then more and more archeological discoveries confirmed not only their existence, but showed that the Hittites were once a powerful nation.
The nation of Israel originated in the sovereign choice of God. He called a man named Abraham to leave his home in Chaldea (Babylon) and go to the land of Canaan. The Chaldeans at the time worshiped the moon god and other pagan deities. However Abraham did not get his understanding of God from the idol worshiping heathen, but from God Himself. And the Lord promised that He would make a great nation of the descendants of Abraham, and that the land of Canaan would belong to them forever (Gen. 12:1-3, 7; cf. 17:8).
God has revealed many names and titles for Himself in the Bible. Each of these tells us something about Him. One name, Jehovah (sometimes written as Yahweh) is a Hebrew form of the verb to be (cf. Ps. 83:18; Isa. 26:4). It means simply the Existing One, the One who is. In addition, this name for God implies His self-sufficiency. He does not need anything or anyone beyond Himself. He just is. When God introduces Himself to Moses as the "I AM," He is saying much the same (Exod. 3:14; cf. Jn. 8:56-58). His I AM name also suggests that God exists in an eternal now, and is able to view the past, present, and future all at once--and more clearly than we can see the present moment. The Bible says He "inhabits eternity" (Isa. 57:15).
One of the greatest earthly monarchs who ever lived was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. And he had a very high opinion of himself (Dan. 4:30). But after the Lord got his attention, and taught him a lesson, he confessed of God, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation....Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice" (Dan. 4:34, 37).
Human beings may create a god to their liking, but inventing God Almighty is both impossible and unnecessary. The God of the Old Testament and the New Testament is not a man-made concept we evolved by borrowing from other religions. Rather, those other religions are human inventions which often began as a corruption of truths the true God revealed about Himself. And they demonstrate the self-centredness of the sinful human heart, and man's tendency to worship himself! To bow in humble submission before the God of heaven is not something that man by nature wants to do (Rom. 3:11). So, he seeks any way he can to discredit Him and explain Him away.