He is the mighty supreme being of monotheistic religion. But which religion? There are several — and although they all agree that there is only One True God, they can’t seem to agree much on anything else.
The world’s major monotheistic religions kicked off in the ancient Middle-East, a volatile place where nation begat nation like you wouldn’t believe — and war, commerce and chaos were never far away.
With peoples and tribes swarming all over the place, the Middle-East was overloaded with competing Gods. In fact it was a classic environment for the process of Natural Selection — and ‘survival of the fittest’ ensured that only the very best Gods evolved to prosper down the millennia. (If you can’t cope with the idea that the existence of God proves Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, you’ll just have to put up with it.)
Apart from a brief fling with AHURA-MAZDA, the first mono-God to make a lasting impression was YAHWEH, the God of his chosen people the Israelites. (Let it be noted that they didn’t choose him, he chose them. That instantly set him apart from just about every other God we can think of.) Brooking no rival, he demanded non-stop attention, being a self-confessed Jealous God (Exodus 20:4). And if jealousy can be a divine attribute then paranoia and vindictiveness may also get a look-in. The Hebrews may have respected him, but he wasn’t exactly chummy.
Then something happened which changed religion forever. JESUS was born — and not only was he a nice guy with stunning revelations, he was also the first religious figure to really understand the importance of psychology, love and a good photo-opportunity. Much to the distress of the Jewish people (particularly the High Priests), YAHWEH was given a holy makeover and became JEHOVAH, a somewhat more approachable God for all nations.
After the rise of Christianity, JEHOVAH enjoyed Top God status for a while — until Muhammad came along with a whole new slant and explained that YAHWEH and JEHOVAH were really just alternative versions of ALLAH, and Blessed Be His Name. Which was enough to drive the Christians into a fighting frenzy of Holy Wars.
As if all that isn’t confusing enough, you have to realize that these (supposedly definitive) monotheist religions are full of splinter groups, sects, factions, cliques, schisms and in-fighting. When it comes to the attributes of God and the best way of worshipping him, no-one can agree on anything — and you can count yourself lucky if the discussion doesn’t terminate in explosions.
There are so many different views of the One True God, it sometimes seems to us that all those schisms and sects are really a desperate yearning for the good old days of polytheism. Which is probably the ultimate irony.