CPBD 041: Jaco Gericke – Philosophy of Ancient Israelite Religion

by Luke Muehlhauser on May 26, 2010 in Bible,Podcast

cpbd041

(Listen to other episodes of Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot here.)

Today I interview Bible scholar Jaco Gericke. Among other things, we discuss:

  • The concepts of God in Ancient Israelite Religion
  • The problem of evil and Yahweh
  • moral realism vs. divine command ethics in the Hebrew Bible

Download CPBD episode 041 with Jaco Gericke. Total time is 53:25.

gerickeJaco Gericke links:

Links for things we discussed:

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Baal May 26, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I really enjoyed this and look forward to hearing more from Mr. Gericke.

It was through an understanding of the historical development of Indian philosophy that I came to atheism.
It was only natural to look at all other religions from the same vantage point.

I have got into strange situations with Christians trying to point out a lot of what was covered in this episode, as when I tried to once make one see how the ancient Israelites took the gods of rival nations to be real.
The particular example was when the Israelites turned tail and ran after being defeated because the king of the Moabites sacrificed his son to Chemosh.
He was totally unable to step out of his mindset and see what I was getting at, instead going off on a tangent about how Satan had answered the Moabites. Of course that implies that Jahweh could somehow be thwarted by Satan. Never mind that nowhere did it say this about Satan in the Bible.

Anyway, great stuff.

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lukeprog May 26, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Thanks, Baal. I loved this interview, too.

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John W. Loftus May 27, 2010 at 6:01 am

Ha! No wonder William Lane Craig didn’t want to debate Dr. Gericke.

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Haecceitas May 27, 2010 at 7:17 am

“Ha! No wonder William Lane Craig didn’t want to debate Dr. Gericke.”

He probably wouldn’t debate any OT scholar, simply because that’s not an area of speciality for him.

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John W. Loftus May 27, 2010 at 10:11 am

Haecceitas, I understand and yet Bill Craig wants to argue that the Biblical God exists, no?

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Pineapple Jo May 27, 2010 at 10:11 am

Sucks that this got cut off early, I was really enjoying it. Hope to hear more from Jaco in the future.

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RA May 27, 2010 at 11:52 am

I always love a surprise ending! This one wasn’t all that great though.

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Steve Maitzen May 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Thanks for this informative interview. As someone whose research often concerns the concept of God “in the abstract,” I’d like to challenge what I took to be a swipe at analytic philosophy of religion. At 41:30, Gerike says that “the concept of God in the abstract, with no connection to any religious tradition, is basically meaningless because the concept of God only arose from religious traditions.” That just doesn’t follow. Analogy: Pythagorean mathematics arose only with religious overtones, but its theorems can be studied meaningfully without any reference to religion; the concepts stand on their own. Besides, the concept of God as a perfect, or unsurpassable, being answers to what a lot of people seem to want from their God: an infallibly wise guide and a guarantor of cosmic justice, meaningfulness, and eventual happiness.

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lukeprog May 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Maitzen,

When I heard that line I interpreted it as meaning that religious people, if they are to believe in the God of the philosophers, should not pretend they are worshipping anything like the God worshipped by Abram or David or Isaiah or Jesus.

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Gimpness May 27, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Kinda like how some religious people come from debates about the traditional theistic god and think that since the affirmative side showed it possible that the traditional theistic god exists therefore the particular god they worship also exists.

Forgetting that there are many steps between this god and the god of the bible or koran

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Justfinethanks May 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Forgetting that there are many steps between this god and the god of the bible or koran

That’s true, but to be fair, atheists are in kinda the same boat when it comes to debates. Most atheists are naturalists, and many think the absence of good arguments for God by itself vindicates naturalism. When in reality, there is a bit of a gulf between “there is no God” and “there are no supernatural forces at work in the universe.”

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Atheist.pig May 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm

When in reality, there is a bit of a gulf between “there is no God” and “there are no supernatural forces at work in the universe.”

Are there any good reasons we know of to postulate supernatural forces at work in the universe? If not then the naturalist is still on firm ground.

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Jacopo May 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Justfinethanks, though it’s true that atheism does not entail naturalism, naturalism surely entails atheism, at least, atheism about an orthodoxly conceived monotheistic God. So there’s no leap there, just a simple syllogism:

P1 – There are no supernatural entities.
P2 – God as orthodoxly conceived is a supernatural entity.
C – Ergo, God does not exist.

So any atheists who accept the conclusion because they strongly accept P1 on the basis of good reasons are being rational, as far as I can see.

As for the link between the Biblical Yahweh and the God of the philosophers, I always found Loftus’ analogy insightful – it’s like flying from the Earth to the moon in an aeroplane. You just can’t do it.

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Justfinethanks May 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Are there any good reasons we know of to postulate supernatural forces at work in the universe?

Well, no, I don’t think so. But that doesn’t change the fact that once you think that you are on rational ground in calling yourself an atheist, that by itself doesn’t necessarily warrant naturalism. Just as “God exists” doesn’t necessarily warrant “Jesus is God.”

Naturalism surely entails atheism, at least, atheism about an orthodoxly conceived monotheistic God.

I totally agree that if Naturalism is true, then atheism is true. But I was talking about the reverse direction: if atheism is true, it doesn’t follow that naturalism is true. For example, it might be the case that arguments for the existence of God fail but arguments in favor of substance dualism do provide compelling reasons to believe in the existence of a non-natural element of the mind.

Actually, that scenario sounds pretty rad, because then EVERYONE would feel pretty dumb.

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J Wahler May 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm

What a fantastic interview, except for that ridonkulous ending, Luke. Would love this guy in book format, tons of interesting things to say. Have him on again for sure.

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Mark May 28, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Was I the only one having trouble with Jaco’s accent?

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lukeprog May 28, 2010 at 6:49 pm

I think the audio quality of the call didn’t help… :(

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GG May 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

I’ve gotta say, this is one of your most original & best.. (weakest probably Erik Wielenberg).
Thank you very much! In Israel we learn biblical studies as school, in a secular manner. Many books as well come out in hebrew as source straight from the oven.

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GG May 29, 2010 at 12:01 pm

PLEASE CONTINUE A SECOND EPISODE

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