false "gods"

©2018 michael martin | mike@truthquest.org

1. are false gods real?

It may seem like an odd question. Are the false “gods” we hear about in the Bible and in our culture real, actual entities, or just fictional creations of the human mind? Let’s explore this issue together.

2. false “gods” mentioned in the Bible

There were many false “gods” in Biblical times, and a few of the more prominent “gods” are introduced here. The following is an excerpt of an article titled “False gods of the Old Testament“ written by Jack Zavada, found at ThoughtCo.com

The full article can be found at https://www.thoughtco.com/false-gods-of-the-old-testament-700162

Please note that Mr. Zavada’s views and the views of ThoughtCo.com on other issues may not necessarily represent the views of Life Church church. However, since Mr. Zavada’s article does a good job of introducing some of these false “gods,” we will directly quote his article here. And so, here are some of the false “gods” mentioned in the Bible.

a. ashtoreth

Also called Astarte, or Ashtoreth (plural), this goddess of the Canaanites was connected with fertility and maternity. Worship of Ashtoreth was strong at Sidon. She was sometimes called a consort or companion of Baal. King Solomon, influenced by his foreign wives, fell into Ashtoreth worship, which led to his downfall.

b. baal

Baal, sometimes called Bel, was the supreme god among the Canaanites, worshiped in many forms, but often as a sun god or storm god. He was a fertility god who supposedly made the earth bear crops and women bear children. Rites involved with Baal worship included cult prostitution and sometimes human sacrifice.

A famous showdown occurred between the prophets of Baal and Elijah at Mount Carmel. Worshiping Baal was a recurring temptation for the Israelites, as noted in the book of Judges. Different regions paid homage to their own local variety of Baal, but all worship of this false god infuriated God the Father, who punished Israel for their unfaithfulness to him.

c. chemosh

Chemosh, the subduer, was the national god of the Moabites and was also worshiped by the Ammonites. Rites involving this god were said to be cruel also and may have involved human sacrifice. Solomon erected an altar to Chemosh south of the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem, on the Hill of Corruption. (2 Kings 23:13)

d. dagon

This god of the Philistines had the body of a fish and a human head and hands in its statues. Dagon was a god of water and grain. Samson, the Hebrew judge, met his death at the temple of Dagon.

In 1 Samuel 5:1-5, after the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant, they placed it in their temple next to Dagon. The next day Dagon’s statue was toppled to the floor. They set it upright, and the next morning it was again on the floor, with the head and hands broken off. Later, the Philistines put King Saul’s armor in their temple and hung his severed head in the temple of Dagon.

e. egyptian gods

Ancient Egypt had more than 40 false gods, although none are mentioned by name in the Bible. They included Re, creator sun god; Isis, goddess of magic; Osiris, lord of the afterlife; Thoth, god of wisdom and the moon; and Horus, god of the sun. Oddly, the Hebrews were not tempted by these gods during their 400+ years of captivity in Egypt. The Ten Plagues of God against Egypt were humiliations of ten specific Egyptian gods.

f. golden calf

Golden calves occur twice in the Bible: first at the foot of Mount Sinai, fashioned by Aaron, and second in the reign of King Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:26-30). In both instances, the idols were physical representations of Yahweh and were judged by him as sin, since he commanded that no images should be made of him.

g. marduk

This god of the Babylonians was associated with fertility and vegetation. Confusion about Mesopotamian gods is common because Marduk had 50 names, including Bel. He was also worshiped by the Assyrians and Persians.

h. milcom

This national god of the Ammonites was associated with divination, seeking knowledge of the future through occult means, strongly forbidden by God. Child sacrifice was sometimes connected with Milcom. He was among the false gods worshiped by Solomon at the close of his reign. Moloch, Molech, and Molek were variations of this false god.


3. modern-day false “gods”

As in ancient times, there are still many false “gods” today. Many are worshiped in religion like some of the few we will mention here. Others are worshiped as idols, such as money or power or pleasure.

One thing that all false “gods” have in common is that they are all creations of man.

romans 1:25

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Let’s take a very brief look at some of the humanly created “gods” that man still worships today.

a. allah

While some people believe that Allah, the “god” figure of the Muslim religion, is the same as Jehovah, the Almighty God of the Bible, the truth is that they are completely unrelated and separate.

While the word “Allah” can simply be a generic word that means”God,” it is more understood as the proper name of the one god of Islam. In other words, some Arab people may use the word “Allah” as a noun to describe God, and even some Christian Arabs may describe the Biblical Almighty God (Jehovah) as “Allah,” meaning “God.” However, Muslims take the word “Allah” to be the proper name of their god, and so Allah of the Muslim faith is not the same as “I AM” (Jehovah) of the Bible.

In Muslim faith, Allah is actually a moon god. This is why we often see crescent moons associated with the Muslim faith.

There is, of course, much more to study on this issue, far beyond the scope of this article. For further study, please see this article titled “Who is Allah? What is the Origin of Belief in Allah?”


b. buddah

While Buddah is not technically a god, but more of a prophet, he is treated as a god in many ways. Buddhism often involves statues of buddah, which mirrors the idol worship found in the Bible.

c. hindu gods

Not unlike the ancient Egyptians, the Hindu religion has many gods, although it also holds to the idea that its primary god is the universe and everything in it. In this way, the creation itself is worshiped as their god.

d. modern idolatry

Idolatry is alive and well today. Unlike in Bible times, where idols were man-made statues and such, today’s idols are still creations of man. Today’s most common idols are money, power, and pleasure. They can be televisions, smartphones, video games, food, and many other things that we “worship” by the amount of importance we give them in our lives.

But make no mistake, all of these idols, if they are more important to us than God, are false “gods” in our lives.


4. are these “gods” real?

No. All of the false “gods,” both ancient and modern, are creations of man’s imagination in an attempt to explain the unexplained and to try to bring meaning and purpose to life on earth.

It is quite logical to believe that all of creation must have been designed and continues to be managed by a powerful being who has always existed and who is self-existent and not reliant on anyone or anything else.

The fact that all of creation must logically have come about by an “uncaused cause” is indisputable, no matter what one believes about the creation of the universe. The inescapable truth is that all of creation has to have come from someone or something that has always existed, and when observing creation, it is impossible to miss the fact that it is all intricately designed.

Belief in God is very rational and is supported by what we observe in valid science.

It is no surprise, then, that mankind has tried to explain the creation and purpose of life by imagining godlike beings. However, any “god” created by the human mind or by human effort is no god at all. Consider this passage from Isaiah:

isaiah 44:6-20

“This is what the Lord says—

Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:

I am the first and I am the last;

apart from me there is no God.

7 Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.

Let him declare and lay out before me

what has happened since I established my ancient people,

and what is yet to come—

yes, let them foretell what will come.

8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid.

Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?

You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?

No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

9 All who make idols are nothing,

and the things they treasure are worthless.

Those who would speak up for them are blind;

they are ignorant, to their own shame.

10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol,

which can profit nothing?

11 People who do that will be put to shame;

such craftsmen are only human beings.

Let them all come together and take their stand;

they will be brought down to terror and shame.

12 The blacksmith takes a tool

and works with it in the coals;

he shapes an idol with hammers,

he forges it with the might of his arm.

He gets hungry and loses his strength;

he drinks no water and grows faint.

13 The carpenter measures with a line

and makes an outline with a marker;

he roughs it out with chisels

and marks it with compasses.

He shapes it in human form,

human form in all its glory,

that it may dwell in a shrine.

14 He cut down cedars,

or perhaps took a cypress or oak.

He let it grow among the trees of the forest,

or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.

15 It is used as fuel for burning;

some of it he takes and warms himself,

he kindles a fire and bakes bread.

But he also fashions a god and worships it;

he makes an idol and bows down to it.

16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;

over it he prepares his meal,

he roasts his meat and eats his fill.

He also warms himself and says,

“Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”

17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;

he bows down to it and worships.

He prays to it and says,

“Save me! You are my god!”

18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;

their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,

and their minds closed so they cannot understand.

19 No one stops to think,

no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,

“Half of it I used for fuel;

I even baked bread over its coals,

I roasted meat and I ate.

Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?

Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”

20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;

he cannot save himself, or say,

“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

This passage beautifully illustrates the foolishness of worshiping something that was created by human thought and human hands. How can a creation of man possibly be a god who can save him?

And yet, the fact that an all-powerful Creator must exist remains; a God who was not imagined or created by man. Logically speaking, this must be a singular God and not a family of gods with different powers. It makes no sense that a race of “gods,” each with different powers and responsibilities (as some cultures believe) could be behind the creation and management of our universe.

The Bible is very clear that Almighty God is the only God and that all others are false. Consider these many examples:

deuteronomy 4:35

You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.

deuteronomy 4:39

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

2 samuel 7:22

“How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.

1 kings 8:60

so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other.

1 chronicles 17:20

“There is no one like you, Lord, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.

psalm 86:10

For you are great and do marvelous deeds;

you alone are God.

isaiah 43:10-12

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,

“and my servant whom I have chosen,

so that you may know and believe me

and understand that I am he.

Before me no god was formed,

nor will there be one after me.

11 I, even I, am the Lord,

and apart from me there is no savior.

12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—

I, and not some foreign god among you.

You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.

isaiah 45:5-6

I am the Lord, and there is no other;

apart from me there is no God.

I will strengthen you,

though you have not acknowledged me,

6 so that from the rising of the sun

to the place of its setting

people may know there is none besides me.

I am the Lord, and there is no other.

isaiah 45:18

For this is what the Lord says—

he who created the heavens,

he is God;

he who fashioned and made the earth,

he founded it;

he did not create it to be empty,

but formed it to be inhabited—

he says:

“I am the Lord,

and there is no other.

isaiah 45:21-23

21 Declare what is to be, present it—

let them take counsel together.

Who foretold this long ago,

who declared it from the distant past?

Was it not I, the Lord?

And there is no God apart from me,

a righteous God and a Savior;

there is none but me.

22 “Turn to me and be saved,

all you ends of the earth;

for I am God, and there is no other.

23 By myself I have sworn,

my mouth has uttered in all integrity

a word that will not be revoked:

Before me every knee will bow;

by me every tongue will swear.

joel 2:27

Then you will know that I am in Israel,

that I am the Lord your God,

and that there is no other;

never again will my people be shamed.

mark 12:29-33

“The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

john 17:3

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

1 corinthians 8:4-6

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

ephesians 4:4-6

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

1 timothy 2:5-6a

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.


5. then how do we know that God is real?

In Exodus, when Moses finds the burning bush, where God chose to introduce Himself to Moses, God introduces Himself simply as “I Am.”

exodus 3:14

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

For everyone else, the words “I am” must be followed by a description. I am tall. I am old. I am your father. All of these descriptions serve the purpose of setting us apart from others.

But God is already set apart. There is no one to compare Him to. And therefore, God requires no description after “I Am.” God simply is. And there is no other.

We know from Romans chapter one that the very creation itself testifies to the existence of God:

romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

There is overwhelming proof of God’s existence from the creation, and from the work that He continues to do today. Man’s unwillingness to see what is in front of him is the cause of unbelief.

romans 1:21-22

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

In every human heart, God has written down the truth of His existence and His work. Every human that takes this inherent revelation and sets out to seek out their Creator will surely find Him.

jeremiah 29:13

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Those who seek God will find Him. Those who reject what God has shown them and who refuse to seek God will not see Him.

Yet, the truth remains true regardless of what anyone personally believes. Truth is defined by God, and God is above and outside of the subjective thoughts of man.

isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

6. conclusion

Yes, God is real. There is truly no other rational, logical conclusion available. God is not and cannot be a creation of human thought or action. He is the Creator and the Master, and there can be only one.

God does not have to be set apart from anyone else. He is not “the God of this” while another “god” is “the god of something else.” God is God over all. He is the self-existent One.

He, and only he, is simply “I AM.”