More on The Golden Compass

My piece late last week on The Golden Compass has generated some interesting comment, especially from Mark.

First, an interesting follow up.  I spent some time talking about the reality of some people’s atheism.  Atheist Theodore Dalrymple, writing on Sam Harris’ site, has also come to the conclusion that being a "pure" atheist is a trickier proposition than many of the unbelief’s proponents would have us…believe?  So theists such as me aren’t the only ones to perceive the reality of this problem.

And that brings us to Mark.  He makes the following statement:

You said it yourself, the god killed is called “Yahweh” Is that the name of the christian god? I think not.

Well, unless you are a Marcionite, Yahweh is certainly the name of the Christian God.  It is based on Exodus 3:14-15, where God reveals his name to Moses.  The fact that later Jewish and Christian tradition substitutes "Lord" or "Jehovah" for this out of respect for the divine name does not change this.  Just take a look a the Jerusalem Bible (English and French) and see for yourself how the Old Testament reads when "Yahweh" is restored.

While we’re at it, let’s explore the issue of Marcion.  He was a wealthy man from Pontus (on the Black Sea in what is now Turkey) in the second century A.D.  He came up with a religion where the God of the Old and New Testaments were in fact different.  According to Marcion, the Old Testament’s deity was incompetent and vindictive; the New Testament’s loving and kind.  It would be interesting if Marcion had inspired some of Pullman’s thinking.

Then Mark asks the following question:

Besides, he ("Yahweh") gets killed, does that sound like something a divine being does?

No, it doesn’t, but that’s my point: you can’t be a real atheist and believe in the death of God at the same time.  That’s the dilemma that both Dalrymple and I are looking at: people proclaim themselves atheists one minute and then turn around and say things that require the existence of God, at least at some point in time.

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