Actually, all Christian interpretations of the Jewish scriptures are shoehorned into the text. That’s the whole history of those interpretations, mind you. As I said, those scriptures are largely poetic and theology is hardly a science, so anyone should be free to read what they like into religious stories. None of those interpretations has much to do with metaphysics, then, if metaphysics is thought of as a rigorous, science-centered endeavour.

The reading of divine immutability into Exodus is rich, coming from the Christians whose split from Judaism proved that if God supports both of those religions, God can hardly be considered impossible to change. God is supposed to have made a covenant with Jews, according to which they’d be protected if they followed his prescribed way of life. Then the early Christians thought the Jews’ God is bigger than that and should be followed by everyone, even by those who don’t live as Jews. One religion splintered off from the other, a second set of scriptures was written, and the Christian God grew to be consistent with pagan polytheism.

Now you can say these apparent changes and conflicts are all about people’s evolving understanding of God. By saying as much, though, you’d be conceding that Jewish and Christian theological ideas are subjective, which would leave you with an abstract, impersonal “God” that would be fine as far as atheists are concerned.

I thank you for cutting to the chase towards the end of your response, when you say, “we don’t claim that God is a person at all! God certainly is the source of personal traits, but He is not a person like we humans are. God is Being Itself.”

A bold statement! Saying there’s such a thing as fundamental Being that’s the source of all particular beings, including people, doesn’t make for any kind of theism that atheists need disagree with. The more you rely on philosophy as opposed to religious poetry and naïve, literalistic folklore, the closer you are to atheism, because reason objectifies.

Again, if you lean on this idea that God is only the “source” of personal qualities, you haven’t established that God is more like a person than he is like a squirrel or a stone. Your “God” would be like Spinoza’s substance and would warrant pantheism, at best. By contrast, monotheists want to say that God is the divine person who’s depicted in scriptures. Those scriptures aren’t supposed to be entirely metaphorical. If they’re just metaphors, as the mystics and philosophers would have it, what’s to stop the slide of such sophisticated readings into full-blown atheistic talk of metaphysical forces, substances, and Being? Theology is supposed to be different from metaphysics, precisely because theology’s dealing with a divine person.

You say God has a will and an intellect and that he chooses to create. First of all, those qualities would make God a person, not just a source of personal qualities. The conflict, then, would be obvious: how can a person be impossible to change? How could a person be timeless? You’d have to go round and round in saying God’s not a person like us even though he has these personal qualities and even though the scriptures describe him in personal terms and even though he chose to create the universe or willed to do so out of love and intellect.

If God is unfathomable Being itself, fine, then stick with mysticism and philosophy, and be closer to atheists than to literalistic, exoteric theists. The problem is you can’t do that and still belong to the Christian social club. You’ve got to take the Christian scriptural narrative half-way seriously, at least, so you’ve got to square the reductive, objectifying philosophical analysis of religious dogmas with the vain personifications and mental projections that gave rise to the scriptures.

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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