THE NAME OF GOD AS REVEALED IN EXODUS 3:14
An explanation of its meaning
K J Cronin
Rational Monotheism - A new monotheistic religion
Elsewhere in this site I have explained why it is that I am neither Christian nor Jew nor Muslim and so I will not repeat it here. Suffice is to say that I whose life has been dominated by thinking about and explaining God have no religion. This is an anomaly that only a new monotheistic religion can put right. Before I talk about this new religion, I will give a brief account of how it is that I have arrived at this place in my life.
I was born into Christianity, and raised and educated in it, but rejected it in my teenage years in favour of discovering the truth for myself. I did not look to other religions for the truth because I naively believed that if Christianity did not have it then those others probably did not either. Indeed, I did not even allow for the existence of God at that point in my thinking because I did not then have faith. Instead, I started from existential first principles and after a particularly sustained period of contemplation in my early thirties I arrived at a defining moment in my life, which was the belief that there must be a God and that there must be only one God. I came this belief while I was asleep and so when my rational defences were down. I awoke with fully fledged faith. It was my first experience of monotheistic faith and I have never doubted it for an instant since. After this, my contemplative efforts were employed in reaching an ever-greater and ever-deeper understanding of God and His creation.
The next defining moment in my life came several years later after a very sustained period of contemplation on God and His creation. This time my thinking brought me to an understanding of the words ‘I AM’ as articulated by God, although it did not then occur to me that ‘I AM’ is a Divine name. I felt at that time that I had arrived at my spiritual destination and so decided that the next thing I ought to do was to read the Bible for the first time in my life, just to make sure I was not missing anything. Catholics were not traditionally encouraged to read the Bible and so I had not done so. The very next day I read the Book of Genesis in the only Bible I happened to own and the following day I began the Book of Exodus. I very quickly came upon the words ‘I AM’ in Exodus 3:14, the very words that I had come upon myself only two days earlier after many years of thinking. Needless to say I was extremely surprised by this and then wondered if I was, after all my thinking, the only person who did not know about these words and about the significance they have for our understanding of God. So I researched Exodus 3:14 at length in Jewish and Christian commentaries and found that many facile and superficial interpretations of Exodus 3:14 had been written over the course of the last two thousand years and that none of them had come even close to the real meaning of these uniquely profound and fascinating words. So I then set about explaining the meaning of the Divine name ‘I AM’. This represented a new beginning in my ever-deepening contemplation on God and His creation. It took a few years more of thinking and writing about Exodus 3:14 before I arrived at my finished understanding of the Hebrew words Ehyeh asher Ehyeh in what I can only describe as a moment of inspiration. With my understanding of Exodus 3:14 complete, I set about writing this website.
It was at or about this time that I began to think about which religion made most sense to me, which most appealed to me and ultimately which I could convert to, because I very much wanted to have the experience of sharing my faith. I quickly rejected Christianity as not being a monotheistic religion and wrote a refutation to that effect on this website. I then considered Judaism and Islam, reading and re-reading their scriptures and writings and attending their places of worship. The upshot of it all was that neither of them suited me for reasons that I have explained elsewhere on this website. It therefore became clear to me that if I was to have the experience of sharing my faith, then it would have to be in the context of a new monotheistic religion. Because my adult life had been dominated by reasoning, and because that activity had brought me to this pass, I naturally decided that the new religion should be called Rational Monotheism. I believe that I cannot be the only one who does not find their religious needs met by the allegedly monotheistic Christianity or the truly monotheistic Judaism and Islam. Hence I introduced Rational Monotheism in 26 posts on Facebook and Instagram and am now writing this paper for my website and app. The two should be thought of as complementing one another rather than as alternatives to one another as their content is different though overlapping.
Rational Monotheism is a religion by virtue of the fact that it espouses belief in the God of Moses, has its own sacred scripture in the form of Exodus 3:14 and Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and has an extensive body of beliefs rooted in that scripture and articulated in www.exodus-314.com. Those beliefs set it apart from all other religions in what it has to say about God and His creation. Finally, it informs my life in every aspect of it and I believe it can do the same for others. All things considered, it is what I understand a religion to be.
In my last post on social media I stated that Rational Monotheism is your religion if you can declare with confidence the Seven Affirmations. The Seven Affirmations are as follows:
1. I affirm that there is only one God Who is the only Creator.
2. I affirm that all that is not God is His creation, so that before He created, He was the totality of existence.
3. I affirm that God in Himself is perfect in unity, which means that he is The Perfect One in every conceivable sense and that there is in Him no multiplicity of any kind.
4. I affirm that my purpose in Creation is to love God as fully as I am able. I further affirm that the highest expression of that love is to relieve the burden of suffering in His creation.
5. I affirm that personal life continues after bodily death and that it is my goal to spend eternity in a relationship of perfect love with God.
6. I affirm that the proper name of God is Yahweh and that His Personal name is Ehyeh/I AM. I further affirm that the proper name Yahweh should be spoken freely and that the Personal name Ehyeh/I AM should be spoken only when the need arises in the course of a purposeful exchange.
7. I affirm that my God-given faculty of reason equips me to know God to the extent that He can be known, so that whatever is alleged of God and that does not make perfect sense I reject as false.
Affirmations 1 to 5 are derived from and are supported by what I have written in the Explanation of the Meaning of the Name, the Explanation of the Purpose of Creation and The Afterlife. Affirmation 6 articulates my understanding of the Divine names and my conviction of how they should be employed, and it is supported by what is written in the Textual Analysis of Exodus 3:13-15 and in In Conclusion. Affirmation 7 is my personally-held conviction and is the guiding principle of my writings and of Rational Monotheism. Only numbers 1 and 3 are affirmed by both Judaism and Islam. Taken together, the Seven Affirmation are unique to Rational Monotheism and distinguish it from all other religions. The Explanation of the Meaning of the Name and the explanation of The Meaning of Ehyeh asher Ehyeh together with the Diagram and the Explanation of the Purpose of Creation constitute between them a considerably more profound and complete understanding of Yahweh and His creation than is espoused by any other religion. I regard these three explanations and one diagram as the foundational documents of Rational Monotheism.
The defining feature of Rational Monotheism is a complete dedication to rational and believable understandings of Yahweh and His creation coupled with a complete absence of irrational and unbelievable understandings of Yahweh and His creation. You will never encounter anything irrational or unbelievable in my writings and you will never be asked to believe anything irrational or unbelievable as a Rational Monotheist. Muslims might lay claim to the same, but Muhammad did not even try to make sense of God and His creation in his Qur’an. There is in the Qur’an almost nothing that could be described as a rational explanation of God and His creation, so whereas the Qur’an is not irrational, it is not positively theologically rational either. Having said that, I would argue that Muhammad’s insistence on the existence of hell is irrational, even if it is popularly believed. However, this is not the place for that debate. For more on the non-existence of hell, please read The Afterlife on this website.
Underpinning Rational Monotheism is the conviction that the existence of one God can make perfect sense of everything in existence and that it is the only belief or scientific theory that can do this. The primary objective of everything I have written is therefore to make perfect sense of everything in existence, which is comprised in its entirety of Yahweh and His creation. Rational Monotheism is therefore a religion that aims to make perfect sense of Yahweh and His creation. It is the natural choice of religion for anyone who is dedicated to thinking their way toward God.
Rational Monotheism asks only of its adherents that they accept the evidence of reason and common sense. Reason cannot directly prove the existence of God because that would make coming to faith no more than an intellectual exercise, which would be contrary to Yahweh's will, but it can take you a very long way on the road to faith. I believe that anyone who has an open, rational and capable mind, and who is not dead set against it, will eventually arrive at monotheistic faith, even if they do have to take the final step while they are asleep.
There is nothing in Islam or Judaism that compares to what I have written in this website, especially in the Explanation of the Meaning of the Name, the explanation of The Meaning of Ehyeh asher Ehyeh, the Diagram and the Explanation of the Purpose of Creation. It is my belief that these writings constitute the most original, most profound, most complete and most important understandings of Yahweh and His creation since Exodus 3:14 was first penned. In terms of making perfectly rational sense of Yahweh and His creation, there is simply nothing to compare with it in Judaism and Islam.
What I want for every Rational Monotheist is that they should possess a rationally sound and complete understanding of Yahweh and His creation, so that they will have rationally sound answers for all the questions that they may be asked about Yahweh and His creation and that it is possible to answer. That is something that no other religion will equip them with. Needless to say, questions about Yahweh in Himself may not be possible to answer, such as, what is the nature of the relationship between the Divine essence and material creation? Reason cannot provide us with a compelling answer for this and so Rational Monotheism does not speculate on it.
This rationally sound and complete understanding of Yahweh and His creation requires something of the would-be Rational Monotheist. It requires of them that they make the effort to read what I have written down in the four documents identified above, which can be demanding at times, and make the understandings in them their own. I will also welcome writings from other Rational Monotheists who may perhaps chose to elaborate on one particular section of the explanations or who may have something original to contribute.
As a Rational Monotheist, your principal religious obligation will be to relieve the burden of suffering in Yahweh's Creation wherever and whenever you encounter it and in whichever of Yahweh’s creatures you encounter it, because all suffering is one before Yahweh. Such a practice is a way of actively engaging in our purpose in Creation. Giving in charity should be a part of every Rational Monotheist's commitment to relieve the burden of suffering in Creation.
Prayer is highly desirable. I am hesitant to say that it is compulsory because prayer is only as welcome to Yahweh as is the mindset of the person who says it. Ideally, every Rational Monotheist should develop their own routine of saying prayers at times of the day when they are most likely to be in the right frame of mind to do so. The exception to this ideal is a short prayer of thanks before every meal which I believe every Rational Monotheist should say. I love to start my day with a self-penned prayer of thanksgiving to Yahweh. I would recommend this practice to all Rational Monotheists. I also love one other prayer in particular, a prayer that extols Yahweh and that I also say in the morning in my own amended version. It is Psalm 145 and I recommend it - in my version - to all Rational Monotheists. I do not say prayers of petition because I do not believe that asking Yahweh for favours is efficacious. Yahweh already knows my wants and needs. My petitioning Him will make no difference to His decisions in relation to these. Such a belief is just another example of belief in Divine intervention in Creation, which I reject and which is the principal reason why I am not a Jew. The only prayers that Rational Monotheists should say are prayers of thanksgiving to Yahweh and prayers of praise of Yahweh. I have selected from the Book of Psalms a number of prayers that speak deeply to me – also in my own versions - and make for a spiritually satisfying half-hour in reading and sometimes reciting them and so I would recommend this practice to all Rational Monotheists.
As regards holy scripture, Rational Monotheism has three verses of holy scripture that it has made its own. These are Exodus 3:14 and Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Exodus 3:14 is by far the most important holy scripture in Rational Monotheism. I believe that there is no deeper or more complete an understanding of Yahweh and His creation than is contained in Exodus 3:14. It is no exaggeration to say that there would be no Rational Monotheism if it was not for this verse. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is of course of great importance in Judaism, being as they are the opening verses of the Shema, the most important prayer in Judaism. However, the Shema is not important to the Rational Monotheist. Instead, it is in these two verses that we find our purpose in Creation written down in perpetuity, which is to love Yahweh as fully as we are able. Jews have not yet recognised the depth of meaning in these three verses that have a unique and distinctive importance to the Rational Monotheist and so we make them our own.
Aside from these three verses and a selection of Psalms, I do not regard any of the Jewish Bible as sacred. However, I love it just the same, with the caveats that I mentioned in Why I Am Neither Jew Nor Muslim. For this reason, I would heartily recommend it to all Rational Monotheists as top-quality monotheistic reading material.
The diet of the Rational Monotheist should have no association with the suffering of any of Yahweh’s creatures. In my opinion this does not necessitate a vegan or even vegetarian diet. For example, I do not believe that wild-caught fish suffer in becoming my food and hence I eat wild-caught fish, mostly tinned sardines. I also do not believe that deer who are shot and instantly killed suffer in becoming my food and hence I endorse the eating of venison, although I have only ever done so on one occasion. I also eat eggs but only those that come from a farm where the hens are free to live out their lives without constraints or eventual conveyor-belt slaughter, which I recognise is somewhat fortunate on my part. On the other hand, eating cow’s milk cheese or other dairy produce is not acceptable to me because of the appalling mistreatment and slaughter of male calves born to dairy cows and the use of their rennet to make cheese. A similar practice exists in the making of goat’s and sheep’s milk cheese. Every animal-derived foodstuff must be likewise interrogated to determine its acceptability to the Rational Monotheist. An invaluable resource for doing this is the charitable organisation Compassion in World Farming, which is to be found at www.CIWF.org.
That is all that I have to say for the present. I look forward to your thoughts and I look forward greatly to your declaration of adherence to Rational Monotheism.
October 19th 2023