I just came across your answer to a question about the origin of Yahweh and usage of the name. Your info is lacking. Yahweh originates out of Canaan though he is described [sic] concerning his theophany with Baal. Both are storm Gods. The Israelites are an offshoot of the Canaanites so it’s no surprise that the Israelites who begin as polytheists often will refer to Yahweh while the Canaanites kept Baal and El. Hebrew is the oldest Canaanite language on record, go research this. And I don’t know why people miss this but the Sumerians far out date the Canaanite and Israelites, Baal, Yahweh, even El. All those gods have their roots in Sumerian cuneiform, check out the original flood epics of Ziusudra and even the much later Babylonian Utnapashtim. We can further debate this if you’d like. My question, however, why do you apologists make the assumption that atheism is such a paramount subject to tackle? Atheism asserts there is no such an animal called God and that’s atheism in a nutshell. By the way, I’m a polytheist.  Polytheism which predates any monotheistic school of thought, I’d even go as far to say the first monotheistic culture is the ankhet out of Egypt and not the Israelites. But seriously why the obsession with atheism? You do realize that Sumerian, Babylonian, Hittite worshipers abide?


First of all, you make claims here but do not back them up with evidence.  I am not being critical, as I definitely would like to hear from you, but unless you can provide evidence to support your contention that YHWH was first a Canaanite God, I will struggle to agree with your conclusion.  I understand that the names El or Elohim can be traced to Sumerian or Canaaninte roots,.  I have stated that repeatedly both at the web site and in my lectures, but I have never seen evidence that the name YHWH had any roots other than in Judaism.   Do you have evidence to present to support your contention?  I believe that you do not.  My info that YHWH originated with the Jews comes from a very good source–the Bible, which happens to be rooted in the second millennium BC.   I agree that the names Baal, El and Elohim come from sources outside Israel, but I have seen zero evidence to support your claim about YHWH.   To me the words El and the plural Elohim are really just generic names for God, which explains why the Jews used this label for their monotheistic God.  Arabs in the western world call Allah God and Christians in places like Indonesia call God Allah.  These are simply the generic names for a god or, in this case, for the one God.  What other word would they use for God than the common world for god, which was El?  YHWH is a proper name, while El is more of a descriptive name.  That is why the name YHWH is original to the Jews.  I believe your claim to the contrary is simply not true. If you can provide evidence, fine.

As for polytheism, I have heard this charge again and again, but what I have not seen is evidence that the Jews were ever polytheists.  They were monotheists who, unfortunately, dabbled in polytheism.  The Old Testament makes that abundantly clear.  But this idolatry was always denounced by the mainstream of Judaism.  Were there other gods worshipped in Israel?  Yes!!!  But there is no evidence, either from archaeology or from history that they ever accepted this as their national religion.  Zero.  None.    We have a LOT of documents from ancient Israel, but none of them show that Abraham or Isaac or Jacob or Joseph or Moses were polytheists.  The Jewish nation began with Abraham.  His father was likely a polytheist, but I see no evidence that the father of the Jewish nation was a polytheist.  Arguments that the Jews were polytheists that I have seen are always circular reasoning, not based on actual evidence.  The argument goes something like this.  Obviously, Israel began polytheist because all groups did.  Therefore they surely did.  We do not have evidence to support this, but surely it is impossible that a group back then began monotheist, as monotheism always comes after polytheism.  This is a totally circular argument, and to this day, I have seen no direct evidence that the mainstream leaders of Israel ever accepted polytheism.  Again, I need to see evidence, not just statements.

As for the apologetics I teach, I try to respond to the needs as they come up.  I meet few polytheists (unless you want to call Hindus polytheists, which is somewhat valid).  I do not have the time to respond to a religions movement which has no presence in the cultures I interact with.  If you want to be a polytheist, that is your business, but I feel little need to respond to a religious idea which is not relevant numbers-wise in today’s culture. Sorry, but this is a matter of what is practical to me.  Probably less than 10% of Americans are atheists, but up to 30 or 40% of today’s youth are “nones.”  In other words, they ascribe to no religious belief.  Responding to atheism is a form of responding to the “nones.”  In Europe, atheism is way over 50%, as it is in Russia, China and Japan.  This is a massive part of the world and the need to respond to atheism is a growing need.  I have no intention of letting this group go.  In my discussions about worldview, I primarily respond to Islam, Hindism, Buddhism, New Age religions, atheism and postmodernism simply because these are by far the most common philosophies or religions in the world today, other than Christianity, of course.

I would guess that less than 0.01% of people today believe in the Sumerian or Babylonian gods.  So… that will explain why I do not spend time responding to this idea–at least not a lot.  If you go to my material on Genesis you will find that I actually do discuss the Near Eastern polytheism because this was the chief competing worldview when Genesis was written.

BTW, I think you mean Atenism, not Akhenatenism.  Akhenaten IV was the one who created the Aten monotheism.   Abraham was a monotheist around 1900 BC and I am sure there were other monotheists before him, but Atenism is not the first monotheistic belief.  You should change your opinion about this.

Specifically, which of the Sumerian gods do you believe in?  What is your evidence that these particular gods, and not others, are real and can actually impact the world?  Do they answer prayer?  Do they work miracles? Do you have evidence you can present to me that I can use to evaluate your claim that  such and such god is real?

John Oakes

Comments are closed.