Quora is a strange place where people pose a variety of questions on all sorts of topics. Many of the questions are from a range of people, some genuinely asking questions to find answers and others trolling for angry responses or merely the bored who incite earnest replies from the more serious minded for a laugh. Quora must have me profiled as an atheist because I tend to get a lot of questions and answers in my feed related to religious questions. Many of these seem to be from the religiously minded who seem to pose leading questions that appear to be aimed at encouraging atheists to give up their ignorant ways and see the light – a sample of such questions from my Quora feed as I write this include the following gems:
- As an atheist, who will you turn to in your hour of need? Will you just accept your fate willingly without any additional source of hope?
- As an atheist, why is it hard to believe in a superior being?
- Why would an atheist suggest that more people should read the Bible?
- What is the psychology behind atheism? What motivates people to believe in atheism?
- Is atheism and agnostic the same thing or are they similar?
- As an atheist, what would it take to convince you of God? Think about your answer more before you just say “evidence”. What specific evidence could be only attributed to God that would convince you of God?
Many questions also seem to be aimed at other religionists with differing ideas about god and it is one of that sort that I responded to some time ago that forms the starting point for this article. The question posed was:
How would the believers in “Intelligent Design” explain one of the attributes of God: “simplicity”?
And, my reply was as follows:
The concept of an actual god is anything but simple. If believers think that, then they seriously deceiving themselves. Once one assumes there is a god, then rather than simplifying matters, you have introduced a whole new set of unanswered questions, such as:
- Where did god come from?
- How does god live and survive and in what form?
- How did god create the universe and from what?
- What did god do before he/she created the universe?
- How does god achieve the miracles ascribed to him/her that sit outside current scientific explanation?
- Are there other gods?
- What will happen to god as the universe ages?
- Does god have a god (ad infinitum)?
- Why does scientific understanding of the universe and its laws so far not seem to require a god at all?
Rather the rendering science obsolete, there would be such a wealth of possible areas of study focused on this god entity that it would spawn entire universities and academic careers dedicated to the phenomenon. The fact that science (which is by definition about studying and understanding the world and universe we find ourselves in) seems to have found no credible evidence of a god or need to use god as an explanation for anything we have to-date found in the observable universe, seems to indicate an absence of god. The other alternative is that there is a very large, but so far largely unrecognised (at least by the scientific community), hole in the acknowledged body of scientific knowledge.
It is obvious to any objective observer that the idea of a god is a social construct that is developed, maintained and promoted for a range of reasons. At a personal level, these reasons involve aspects of purpose (why am I here?), morality (how should I act?), explanation (how and why is the universe like it is?), consolation (what happens to the people I love after they die and is this life all there is to my existence?), community and belonging (who am I in relation to those around me?), and a sense of spirituality (what greater purpose is there of which I might be a part?).
But, apart from the personal construction of god, there is also the institutional construction of a god (or pantheon of gods), which is shaped and promoted by societal elites to manipulate, control and exploit the ordinary believers. In this latter aspect, the nature of god is formed, maintained and policed by the elites of the institutional bodies of the organised religions, that is bodies such as the Catholic Church, Anglican Church and the Rabbinical structures of Judaism. It is an obvious historical fact that the leadership of these bodies has been intrinsically linked to the powerful and wealthy elites of the societies that have spawned them, often through direct familial placement (eldest son to inherit, second son to the military and third son to the clergy) or by placing the monarch at the head of the church (as the British monarch has been since Henry VIII took control of the Christian church in England). The importance elites place on their control over organised religion and the way god is created, portrayed and employed as a device of power is amply illustrated in modern contexts through examples such as the:
- Chinese Communist Party’s insistence on having a say in the leadership of the Catholic Church in China and their role in selecting a competing successor as next Dalai Lama
- Battle in Islam between the Saudi promotion of the Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam versus the, mostly, Iranian Shia form (indeed, the role of the House of Saud in forming and promoting this radical medieval Wahhabi form as a means of domestic social control and to gain power across the wider Islamic world)
- Recent politically motivated splitting of the Ukrainian Orthodox church from the Russian Orthodox mainstream
- The conversion of apparently atheist Vladimir Putin to a now ostensibly devout believer and promoter of the Russian Orthodox Church as a key foundation of the Russian Federation
- The fact that it would be probably be harder for an atheist to be elected President of the United States than a self-confessed Satanist or KKK member.
Which brings us to the nature of the god that has been constructed for us and, in particular, given the nature of the geopolitical world today, (which seems to be dominated by the two powerful Old Testament based religions) Zionist Judaism (Israel) and Evangelical Christianity (the USA) – and one could argue, Islam, which also acknowledges the god of the Old Testament.
What sort of god is the God of the Bible?
When you start asking about the nature of any god, lacking any sort of scientific evidence even for such a being’s existence, the only place to look is in the texts that are held up to be the word of God – that is the Bible, or the Koran or a similar foundational text for other religions. Which brings me to Laurent Guyénot’s book From Yahweh to Zion: Jealous God, Chosen People, Promised Land…Clash of Civilizations, which has had a rather profound impact on my thinking about both the nature of the god that is held up to us as worthy of our belief, faith, trust and worship and the nature of the Zionist state of Israel. The latter being in regard to its treatment of the Palestinian people, its wars on its neighbours in the region and the influence it has on the world stage through the sway it is able to exert over US and European politics.
Guyénot is an academic in religious history and anthropology with a PhD in Medieval Studies from La Sorbonne, Paris, and his extremely well referenced book is really a history of Judaism and, in particular, of the Zionist movement. The book starts with an examination of the history and nature of the Judaic god, as revealed in the Bible’s Old Testament, which for all intents and purposes is a direct import of what the Jewish people refer to as the Torah. The reason this question is relevant to modern Zionism, and the effects this movement has on current world events, is that the fundamentalist nature of the Zionists and their actions is guided by a literal understanding of their foundational text, of the moral lessons they draw from it in their interactions with the gentile (everyone who is not Jewish) world and the things it says about their position and entitlements in the world. Moreover, as Guyénot explains, the nature of the god called Yahweh, as revealed in the Torah, is critical to understanding the people who believe in him (yes, I mean him now – there is no question of Yahweh being anything other than a male god).
For Guyénot, rather than being a divinely inspired text or literal word of God, the Torah is a contrived history of a desert tribe that was written by a succession of Jewish rabbinical elites for their own purposes. As with the texts of most (all?) organised religions, those purposes had to do with the manipulation and control over the followers or adherents of the religion for their own personal aggrandisement and enrichment. As Guyénot explains, this manipulation of the ordinary Jewish people through the constructions and prophecies contained within the Torah has continued for some three thousand years and is evident in the nature, actions and moral justifications of the leaders of the Zionist movement today.
In the first instance, Guyénot traces the derivation of Yahweh to the Egyptian gods and, in particular, to the god Seth. According to Guyénot, the Egyptophobia of the early Yahwist scribes led them to take this rejected (indeed, Satanic) god of the Egyptian pantheon, the mortal enemy of their good gods – represented by Osiris, Isis and their son Horus – and make him the object of veneration. But, in so doing they create a god that is not just the god of death, but one that that closes off the afterlife (which is offered by Osiris) and rejects the female, as represented by the goddess Asherah, the Great Divine Mother. The Yahweh so created is not an all powerful god, but one that hides in bushes and whispers instructions. A god that is capable of commanding a man to kill his own child as a test of obedience. A god that not only does not espouse love for the fellow man but commands them to massacre them for occupying the lands promised to them, and punishes them for not doing so to his satisfaction. Moreover, rather than being a monotheistic god Yahweh is inherently and admittedly one of many gods, but one that expects exclusive worship, so that the first commandment reads not that there is only one god but that “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3-17).
As Guyénot goes on to point out, the sum of the stories in the Torah that describe this Yahweh illustrate a mean spirited, jealous, narcissistic being that commands complete obedience, exclusive worship, extermination of competing gods and their adherents and harshly punishes the Israelites when they fail to deliver. A god that promises not everlasting life in heaven, but rewards on earth in the form of wealth, power, possession of lands and progeny to continue the bloodline. What is more, aside from having a psychotic, narcissistic, abusive father figure for a god, the Israelites of the Torah are perpetually cast as victims of the nations around them; Conquered, enslaved and exiled, the Children of Israel venerate individuals who ingratiate themselves into the power structures of their enemies and destroy from within.
An example of this approach to power and its uses, is the story of Joseph (Genesis 37-47) is sold by his brothers as a slave to Potiphar, eunuch of the Pharaoh, he manages to become his chancellor with responsibility for the national grain reserves and in this position he accumulates large stocks that when a famine strikes he sells at huge profit and “accumulated all the money to be found in Egypt and Canaan”. The next year having created a money shortage he forces the peasants to hand over all of their lands and livestock in return for food to survive. The following year, with nothing left to sell the peasants are forced to sell themselves into slavery to the Pharaoh. “So Joseph bought all of the land in Egypt for the Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became the Pharaoh’s and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other.” The net result of this story is a transfer of the land to the Israelites so that “Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number” (47:27). The stories of Esther and Daniel are cited as providing similar illustrations that are celebrated and lauded because of the way they promote the tribal interests of Children of Israel in spite of their objectively dubious morality when viewed from the perspective of the victims of their actions.
Implications of this construction
This formation of Yahweh as god of the Torah and the construction of the Israelites as an embattled victimised people that have only each other to look to and for whom moral actions only apply to those within the tribe has direct implications for the way fundamentalists approach the external world. Guyénot traces those implications through to the Zionist movement that was formed in the mid to late 1800s and which found the realisation of its aspirations in the founding of Israel at the conclusion of World War II. But more than that, he argues that based on the sort of infiltration celebrated in the stories of Joseph, Esther and Daniel, the Jewish elites have not only managed to maintain a cohesive community over three thousand years but have subverted host nations by usurping their monetary systems to create debt slavery at personal and national levels.
In this sense, historical anti-Semitism is not a one-way street where gentiles have persecuted Jews just because they “murdered Christ”, but a reaction to the methods employed by the wealthy Jewish elites to gain power and extract wealth from those Christian nations, much as Joseph is portrayed as doing in the Pharaoh story. Many of the Jewish purges have come as a result of powerful gentiles realising what has been done and acting to take back the wealth that has been siphoned from their treasuries and populace (much as Henry VIII on declaring independence from the Church of Rome acted to strip the church of its land and properties across England that had been accumulated through centuries of tithing and bequests). Indeed, the Jewish elites have been accused of promoting and using anti-Semitism to strengthen the sense of victimisation among their fellow Jews to gain tighter control over them.
This latter aspect has direct implications to how one can consider the Zionist role in supporting the Nazi regime’s pre-war persecution of Jews and to their later actions in persuading the US and other European nations to refuse Jewish refugees during and after the war in favour of promoting emigration to Israel. In this sense, the holocaust is a Zionist’s dream in that it represents an urgent galvanising call to action and an ultimate victimisation that has been used to weld Jewish people into powerful unit against the world that is directed at the realisation of the state of Israel in fulfillment of the prophecies set out in the Torah. In these terms, the people of Israel are entitled to that land (all of it) by God’s word and, what is more, the treatment of the previous inhabitants is fully justified by the models provided in the Torah for other past non-Jewish occupiers of same lands. You just have to read the papers to see what that means, just some examples being:
- More than 700,000 Palestinian people expelled and made refugees during the formation of Israel in 1948
- Snipers killing children for throwing stones
- Homes of whole families bulldozed for the actions of one family member
- Villages taken over and people forcibly expelled to make way for Jewish settlements as a consistent and tacitly acknowledged policy of land acquisition
- School children on their way to school stopped and searched at gunpoint
- Massively asymmetric use of military weapons such as jet fighters and tanks used against a civilian population and its infrastructure
- Concrete fences and checkpoints walling off the ghettos created for the displaced
- Use of assassinations of leaders of the Palestinian people to weaken opposition and create political chaos
- Full control over movements into and out of the occupied territories
- Aggressive pre-emptive military and other actions against neighbouring nations to expand territories and enfeeble potential opposition.
If you read the Old Testament with a critical eye, modern actions both in Israel (against the Palestinians) and in the international monetary systems (against other nations) spookily mirror the stories told of what became of those who stood in the way of the Israelites in Biblical times.
But through all of this, as Guyénot backgrounds, the ordinary Jewish people have manipulated by their own elites through an elite radical rabbinical class so that they become unwitting tools of a millennia spanning intergenerational wealth and power accumulating program that has primarily advantaged a very few. The Jewish identity has been fostered through religious laws that emphasise insular personal and business relationships, inter-marriage within the community and the idea of maintaining separation from the societies within which they have lived. In essence, the effect is extraordinarily cult-like (as indeed all organised religions tend to be) in its ability to control its members by separating them from the general population by inciting an embattled sense of victimisation and a highly prescriptive set of laws that detail how they should dress and wear their hair, what they can and cannot eat, who they can and cannot marry, and how business is to be conducted with those inside the community as opposed to outsiders. The radical nature and philosophical basis of this Zionist elite is exposed and documented by Israel Shahak .
However, as Michael Parenti in History as Mystery points out, this manipulation is not a one way street. Parenti documents how Christian elites in eastern Europe used Jewish compradors to control and exploit their own peasantry, a practice which led to much inter-religious antipathy and massacres of these Jewish intermediaries during times of violent revolt. Parenti’s analysis of early Christianity reveals a church not of love and understanding, nor one that saved culture and civilisation through the dark years following the collapse of the Roman empire, but a church of cruel persecution and eradication of competing religions and a bloody history of misogyny, book burning and support for the elites of the time against their own people.
For Guyénot, even moderate and reformist Jews are trapped by the Zionist movement in a double bind where supporting the Zionists has been conflated with maintaining their own Jewish identity. This conflation is supported by a mixing of whether being Jewish means being a member of a religion or of a race, much as the Zionists have been able to conflate anti-Semitism as opposition towards a religion and its adherents with opposition to the actions of the Zionists in Israel. But, as evidenced in Israel Shahak’s books, such as Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (1994) and Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years (1994), the radical aspects of the Zionists are not unrecognised nor unopposed within the Jewish community and there is a sense that younger Jews in the US are distancing themselves from the actions of the radical Zionists.
One can only be awestruck at how successful Judasim has been in forming and maintaining a community of thought and bloodline across three thousand years in the face of often strenuous persecution and acts of genocide promoted and enacted sometimes at the behest of opposing elites and other times through popular revolt against those elites and the Jewish intermediaries used to support those in power. Putting aside any questions of divine guidance or intervention (which, obviously I do), this longevity is a testament to the strength of the Torah and the laws contained within the Talmud as mechanisms of social control that have been shaped and then wielded time and again in the interests of a rabbinical and wealthy elite using ordinary Jews as tools. When taken together, Guyénot and Parenti illustrate how from its foundation the Christian church has been a similar project. Indeed, according to Guyénot the Christian church has been extensively infiltrated by Jewish thought, so that the Torah was imported largely unchanged into the Christian bible as the Old Testament. Today, the Evangelical Christian fundamentalists are massively enthusiastic supporters of the Zionists in Israel and their attitudes to crime, punishment and wealth can be seen to owe more to the lessons and moral codes of the Old Testament than the purported teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.
The underlying foundations and policies of the neoliberal and the neoconservative movements in the US are inextricably linked to Old Testament morality. In the former case, this is expressed in an emphasis on the power of money as a primary organising force at all levels of society and the rights of those with money over those without. In the latter case, the neocons are militaristic, imperial in nature and unashamedly Zionist in their total support for the state of Israel, often at the expense of the US’s own interests. As Guyénot documents, the founding fathers of neoconservatism were Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol (father of neocon William Kristol), Donald Kagan, Paul Wolfowitz and Adam Shulsky all children of Jewish immigrants and all involved in prominent influential think tanks and organisations (such as the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Council on Foreign Relations and the Project for a new American Century), and all of whom were disciples of Machiavelli loving Leo Strauss who espoused that “truth is harmful to the common man and the social order should be reserved for superior minds (while religion for the rest, as the necessary opium of the people).” (Guyénot, page 353). Meanwhile, the neocons continue to assert their right to shape the world in Israel’s image, so that we have ex-CIA Director (ie leader and head spokesperson of arguably the most evil organisation in the world today and military arm of the ruling western elites) and now US Secretary of State, Mike Pomeo, as follows:
Speaking at the annual Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) dinner in Washington on Wednesday, Pompeo argued that Israel “is democratic and prosperous, it desires peace, it is a home to a free press and a thriving economy,” calling it “everything we want the entire Middle East to look like going forward.” RT 12 Oct, 2018 https://www.rt.com/usa/441041-pompeo-middle-east-like-israel/
The Christian god of morality and values
The Christian god, as described in the Gospels and the purported words of Jesus (if such a person actually existed) appears to be an entirely different construction and one that Guyénot links back to the Egyptian god Osiris. The Christian god offers something akin to the Egyptian concept of an immortal soul that has life after death and entry to eternal paradise through the commission of good deeds and purity of heart (as denoted in the Egyptian weighing of the heart against a feather as the entry ticket). Unfortunately, as Parenti points out, the actual practise of Christians since the very early days of Christianity has been anything but “Christian”. Starting with book burning, persecution and extermination of rival religions and their adherents, leading on to successive rounds of brutal barbaric inquisitions with their witch burnings, crude instruments of torture and often politically motivated elimination of heretics and alternative ways of thinking across Europe. Then to colonial days starting with the invasions and colonisations of America and Africa in the 1500s, where Christian missionaries led (still leading in many places) the charge against the cultures, religions, traditions and bodies of indigenous peoples across much of the world in the name of bringing civilisation, modern education and medicine and the imposition of good Christian values onto heathen savages everywhere.
However, the Christian stories of Jesus sit in stark contrast to the Old Testament stories of harsh punishment, rape, murder, enslavement and extermination of enemies of the chosen people. The New Testament provides examples of showing love and kindness to those outside the community, such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) or to forgiveness of sins, as in the story of the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50. It is the ability of the Christian elites to overcome these good and admirable qualities that have been practised as a personal creed by millions of pious Christians that is remarkable. The same people who have espoused love for their fellow man and obedience to the Ten Commandments (including the one against killing people) have been persuaded to go to war against other human beings in the interests of the elites of their nations, praying to God for success in killing the chosen enemies of the time while standing in line wearing a uniform, gun at shoulder and saluting a flag. It has long been the role of the institutional religion to mediate the cognitive dissonance by introducing concepts of obedience, sacrifice and God’s Will into the frame so that generations of pastors and priests have passively sent the young of communities all over the Christian world off to war to kill and be killed in the name of God.
So, what to make of the term “Christian morality and values”? When people say they admire Christian morality and values, I guess they are talking of the personal morality and values that come from following what Jesus is reputed to have said. But none of those things are unique to Christianity. For instance, the Egyptian concept of sin encapsulated many of the so called Christian values, such as:
- Crimes of a cultic nature: blasphemy, stealing from temple offerings or offerings to the dead, defiling the purity of a sacred place
- Crimes of an economic nature: tampering with the grain measure, the boundaries of fields, or the plummet of the balance
- Criminal acts: theft and murder
- Exploitation of the weak and causing injury: depriving orphans of their property, causing pain or grief, doing injury, causing hunger
- Moral and social failings: lying, committing adultery, ignoring the truth, slandering servants before their master, being aggressive, eavesdropping, losing one’s temper, speaking without thinking.
The biographies of the Egyptians show that they also valued ideals of morality and ethics, so that: “The ideals expressed in such biographies, including justice, honesty, fairness, mercy, kindness and generosity, reflect the central concept of ma’at, the cosmic and social order of the universe as established by the creator god”. (Source http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/ethics.htm).
Likewise, indigenous cultures the world over have established strong moral frameworks that have included proscriptions against a range of anti-social behaviours. For instance, in The moral lexicon of the Warlpiri people of central Australia, Lester Hiatt documents concepts of good and bad behaviour and a range of positive qualities including: “jama” meaning generous, giving, kind and “jami” meaning well-behaved, good-natured, of good character, quiet tame, mild. For the Warlpiri, negative qualities and behaviours included behaviours such as: “jatu-jatu” meaning spoiling for fight, trouble-maker, bothersome, nuisance and “kurlpu-kurlpu” meaning mean, stingy, ungenerous and “minjinpa” meaning a bully, aggressive, picking a fight, trouble-maker, quarrelsome, bothersome, bad-tempered.
On anti-Semitism and self-censorship
As has been pointed out by Ron Unz in a series of articles on his weblog The Unz Review concerning Zionism and the influence of the Israel lobby in the US, it is a testament to the power of the Zionist movement that no article that mentions Judaism, Jews, the Holocaust or anti-Semitism that could in any way be construed as critical must include some form of defence against being accused of anti-Semitism. And, in taking on this article, which for me was a reflection on how Guyénot’s work and the work of the other authors mentioned here have affected my own outlook concerning Judaism, Zionism and the role of institutional religion, I also felt this tendency towards self censorship.
In examining the issue of anti-Semitism, it is apparent that much as the leaders of the state of Israel have conflated opposition to their crimes against the Palestinian people with prejudice against Jews and Judaism as a whole (ironically by definition the Semitic peoples include the Arab Palestinians), the Zionists and their forebears have been successful in conflating two distinct concepts: that of Judaism as a religion and moral order, and Jewishness as an inherited genetic lineage. Personally, I have nothing against Jewish people nor the others that may be included in the category of Semite as defined above nor the adherents of any other religious creed that do not seek to advance their own interests at others expense. I certainly do not condone actions taken against any person, or group of people, merely on the basis of personal belief or conviction, race or heredity.
However, I have a great deal of antipathy to anyone who by any ordinary standards of justice may considered to be guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. This includes the leaders of western nations and institutions that make economic and physical war on the peoples of other countries (such as Palestine, Vietnam, Honduras, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Korea, Yemen and Somalia to name but a few), including support of the US hegemonic imperialist agenda which has now been overtaken by the neoliberal and neoconservative agendas that have in the last 50 years resulted in death, destruction and misery for millions of people across the world through wars, coups, physical and economic destruction of nations and impoverishment of many, even in so called “first world” countries. The fact is that at the heart of a substantial proportion of these deleterious events there appears to sit a core of people with a particular ideology and manifest self interest is now becoming only too apparent. For instance, Peter Phillips in Giants: The Global Power Elite identifies 389 individuals who control over $40 trillon of assets across the world on behalf of a Transnational Capitalist Class that comprise a global power elite for whom the primary goal appears to be intergenerational enrichment and power accumulation. These people know each other and manage these assets under a complex web of interlinked organisations and corporations that usurp the power of nations and transcend international borders. Under their management and influence the gaps between wealthy and impoverished are reaching extreme levels as ever more wealth is diverted through economic enslavement, corruption, environmental exploitation, harsh austerity programs, warmongering and profiteering. The god of self interest and wealth is well and truly out of control and leading us all towards social, environmental and mortal disaster.
As an atheist and anti-theist, I am opposed to the way religious institutions and key figures acting in their interests have infiltrated governments, legal and educational systems to enable the transfer of wealth and power from the general population into the hands of a very few. But, of course, as I started out on this article, institutional religion is and always was a tool of the elites to exert control and manipulate the masses to achieve their own ends. Niccolò Machiavelli knew this in 1513 when he wrote The Prince, Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus (Constantine the Great) knew this when he adopted Christianity as the religion of Rome and the early writers of the Torah knew this when they created the god Yahweh as an anti-god in opposition to the gods of Egypt and neighbouring nations so as to define, isolate and wield the Children of Israel for their own ends. Moreover, the power elites of the world today know this as they employ religion to separate, motivate and direct us in ways that advantage themselves at our expense. And when religion does not work, they have found a new god for us in the shape of the holy dollar, the illusion of democracy and through the destruction and creation of history so that our sense of what we “know” is carefully crafted through propaganda dressed as news, misinformation dressed as entertainment and a fake reality dressed as common sense. The current war on independant journalism being waged on Facebook and Twitter is evidence of the power elite seeking to reassert control over the narrative which they lost when the Internet and social media exploded as a forum for popular sharing of knowledge that did not conform to the shaped reality.
Railing against religion is like railing against guns; as the US gun lobby so fondly reminds us, it is not the gun that kills but the person who wields it. The best hope we have is that we identify the killer and expose his agenda and thereby counter it. Alternatively, by taking away the killer’s gun he might employ something less lethal to achieve his objectives. So far, history shows religion has been, and continues to be, an extremely effective and lethal weapon in the hands of an organised and motivated elite. The construction of the chosen god is a tell for the moral underpinnings of their agenda and range of permissible and self-justifiable actions. What does that tell us about the constructors and employers of the god Yahweh or the dollar god (and are these even different things)?