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The notion of the Abrahamic God as the Devil was advanced by several religious authors throughout history. They make the case that the Biblical god is a divine force that wreaks suffering, death, and destruction and that tempts or commands humanity into committing mayhem and genocide.

These writings refer to this god variously as "a demiurgus"[1], "an evil angel"[2], "the devil god"[3], "the Prince of Darkness"[4], "the source of all evil"[5], "the Devil"[6], "a demon"[7], "a cruel, wrathful, warlike tyrant"[8], "Satan"[9], "the devil"[10], and "the first beast of the book of Revelation"[11].

Many of the authors criticize only the concept of god found in the Tanakh, in contrast with the "true god" they claim to see in the New Testament. However, other authors apply their condemnation to the entire godhead of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The authors assert their claims by reference to a number of passages in Biblical scripture describing actions of God that they say are evil or Devil-like. Many of the authors have been severely chastised for their writings, and their followers killed.

Contents

Theological literature

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Early Christian Church

Marcion of Sinope

Marcion of Sinope, the first major heretic of Christianity in the first century AD, "[held that] the Old Testament was a scandal to the faithful … and … accounted for it by postulating [that Jehovah was] a secondary deity, a demiurgus, who was god, in a sense, but not the supreme God; he was just, rigidly just, he had his good qualities, but he was not the good god, who was Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ."[1]

Apelles, the second century AD Gnostic, "consider[ed] the Inspirer of Old-Testament prophecies to be not a god, but an evil angel."[2]

The Persian prophet Mani, founder of the Manichaean sect in the third century AD, identified Jehovah as "the devil god which created the world"[3] and said that "he who spoke with Moses, the Jews, and the priests … is the [Prince] of Darkness, … not the god of truth."[4]

Middle Ages

The Albigenses were a Christian sect in 12th- and 13th-century France, a branch of the Cathari. Their doctrine held that "the creator … of the material world … is the source of all evil … He created the human body and is the author of sin … The Old Testament must be either partly or entirely ascribed to him; whereas the New Testament is the revelation of the beneficent God."[5]

Modern times

The 18th-century Anglo-American philosopher Thomas Paine wrote in The Age of Reason that "Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the Word of God."[7]

"New Age" author Dorothy Leon makes an argument that is not just based on God's actions, but on a remarkable correspondence in two Biblical passages. Their significance has been debated by Biblical scholars through the ages,[12] but Leon states, "The fact that Jehovah is Satan is confirmed in 2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chron. 21:1."[13] The first passage says, "And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah," while the second reports conversely that "Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel."

American anthropologist Walter L. Williams has written a revision of the story of Jesus which presents "God as Satan, the evil doer rejected by Jesus in the New Testament confrontation during Jesus' retreat in the desert."[9]

There are also at least two anonymous items on the Internet that carefully argue the case. Rotten Fruit - God is the Devil does so with a combination of historical references and personal experience.[10] The Old Serpent Chained is a book-length analysis of Biblical content which concludes that "The Lord and God of the Old Testament that says him alone doeth great wonders is the first beast of the book of Revelation who doeth great wonders so that he maketh fire to come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men and deceives those that dwell upon the earth."[11]

Cited Biblical references

Depiction of family drowning in the great flood, by Gustave Doré.

Criticism of the Abrahamic God has been based on many passages of Biblical and Qur'anic scripture. The following are some of the examples cited[citation needed].

Tanakh (Old Testament)

A detail of a painting showing the punishment of the wicked ones in Hell

New Testament

While church heretics previously cited identified the Old Testament God as evil in contrast to a loving God of the New Testament, some excerpts of the latter also contain teachings seen as morally bad by some, as the existence of "Hell".

Opposition

The notion that the Biblical God is himself the Devil is heretical to mainstream Jewish, Christian, and Islamic dogma and may be treated as blasphemous in any of those religions. However, in the work of any one philosopher or theologian, this notion was only one in an entire body of criticism of established religious and political doctrine.[14] So while the literature does not show isolated arguments against and condemnation of this notion alone,[14] the following shows that people who have expressed it and their followers have been suppressed, sometimes by death.

Marcion of Sinope was excommuncated from the early Church and condemned as a heretic. Apelles' writings were similarly condemned. Mani is reported to have been imprisoned for his teachings, and to have died in prison.

Cathari being expelled from Carcassonne in 1209

The Albigenses, along with the Cathari, who held similar beliefs, were the subjects of a 20-year long crusade of the Roman Catholic Church which aimed to exterminate them. The crusade massacred an estimated 200,000 to one million people between 1209 and 1229 and was followed by one of the first in what became a long series of inquisitions conducted by the church to purge society of heretics and nonbelievers. Repenters were required to wear a yellow cross sewn onto their outer clothing and to live apart from other Catholics. Those who refused to recant were hanged or burned.[15]

Like Marcion, Luther was excommunicated by the pope. He also was condemned as a criminal by the Holy Roman Emperor.

Religion was only a part of Thomas Paine's writings, which largely focused on political freedom and human rights. He was living in France, supporting the French Revolution, and had begun writing his diatribe against organized religion, The Age of Reason, when he was arrested and imprisoned in 1793 and narrowly escaped execution. The US ambassador to France declined to intercede on his behalf, and Paine later complained bitterly to George Washington for betraying him. Paine returned to the US at the invitation of Thomas Jefferson in 1802 and suffered no further government suppression, although his religious writings made him deeply unpopular with devout Christians.

Religious suppression is generally more subtle in modern than it was in ancient and medieval times, although some Islamic regimes continue to punish blasphemy by death.[16] While the primary author of Ebon Musings does not seem to make any comment on his own choice of anonymity, such comment is offered by a subsidiary author whose work is published on the site: "I have chosen to remain anonymous … because this subject, unfortunately, cannot be shared with others without arousing strong emotions and animosities. Countless people have suffered and even died over these issues, and I have no desire to create hard feelings or to isolate myself from friends and family. "[17]

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b  "Marcionites". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Marcionites. 
  2. ^ a b  "Gnosticism". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Gnosticism. 
  3. ^ a b Manichaeism by Alan G. Hefner in The Mystica, undated
  4. ^ a b Acta Archelai of Hegemonius, Chapter XII, c. AD 350, quoted in Translated Texts of Manicheism, compiled by Prods Oktor Skjærvø, page 68. History of the Acta Archelai explained in the Introduction, page 11
  5. ^ a b Albigenses by Nicholas Weber in Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907
  6. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Luther; see Help:Cite error.
  7. ^ a b The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, 1794, Part I, Chapter VII, Examination of the Old Testament
  8. ^ A Book of Blood: Biblical atrocities on Ebon Musings, undated
  9. ^ a b Walter L. Williams, private correspondence (quoted here with permission), March 19, 2009, referring to The Essential Teachings of Jesus and Mary by Walter L. Williams, unpublished manuscript, December 24, 2008, excerpts available at The Community Of Jesus And Mary
  10. ^ a b Rotten Fruit - God is the Devil, The Magdalene Foundation, undated
  11. ^ a b The Old Serpent Chained by "Son of man", Author House, 2006. (Full text of book available by clicking "Free Preview", then "Download the free eBook".)
  12. ^ See, for example:
  13. ^ Is Jehovah an E.T.? by Dorothy Leon, Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2002, page 31
  14. ^ a b See sources cited above on Marcion, Apelles, Mani, the Albigenses, Paine, Leon, Ebon Musings, and Williams.
  15. ^ See Albigensian Crusade and Catharism: Suppression in Wikipedia.
  16. ^ See, for example, Hashem Aghajari (Iran, 2002) and Blasphemy: Pakistan (Penal Code §295C, 1986) in Wikipedia.
  17. ^ Thoughts on Religion: One Man's Quest for Understanding, guest essay on Ebon Musings, April 24, 2006

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