“God is Johnson” license plate answers age old question

In Iowa, the name of the county issuing a vehicle’s license plate is printed on the bottom of the plate. This is usually not a problem, unless for instance, you’re making a confession of faith, at which point you may have a problem:

God is Johnson license plate

Well, now we know.

Mankind has searched for years, and while God is said to have had many names throughout history such as YHWH, Allah, Vishnu, Ahura Mazda, Zeus, El, Osiris, Apollo, etc., few knew his name was actually “Johnson”.

Then again, perhaps we’re reading the license plate incorrectly. Biblical scholars have known for centuries that many of the earliest Canaanite religions were fertility religions, which worshiped gods like Ba’al or Dagon in the hope that their crops and family would be fertile. Obviously, the owner of this car worships a different fertility god.

And who knows? Maybe the owner just really loves the ol’ People’s Republic??

How would YOU caption this picture?

(HT: Jeremy Swist)

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11 Responses

  1. The God of the Old and New Testaments both said “I AM who I AM”. Which in an ontological sense, is the same as saying “God Is”. Seems you have a problem with that.

    All you can do is sneer and make fun of an Existent God, such as a Johnson, Ba’al, Osiris et al god, since you’re an atheist. Same mistake dead serious traditional theists make, the folks you also make fun of. Your self-god narcissism just became all the more pathetic. I’m watching you.

  2. Actually, Michael, the god of the Old Testament says his name is אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה in Exod. 3:14, with אהיה being the qal (some say hiphil) imperfect 3 common singular of היה, or the verb of being. Thus, the Hebrew god’s name should be in the imperfect, (and some suggest in the causative), rendering something more like “I will (cause to) be what I will (cause to) be”. If it is causative, it is beyond a simple declaration of being, or an intent to be; it’s a declaration of power and creativity. The Hebrew God is the one who will be, or who causes to be. And from this we have the divine name, יהוה, or YHWH, which is often declined as the qal (some argue hiphil) imperfect 3 masculine singular of היה, the verb of being.

    I don’t have a problem with the name of the Hebrew god in the Hebrew Bible (although the declinsion and the various Masoretic pointings of the word betray the many problems and difficulty many have had discerning the etymological origins of the words throughout history).

    As for an individual who wants to make a confessional declaration on a vanity plate, this is all well and good. But please don’t miss the humor in the placement of the name and the county. The license plate could just have been issued in Polk county, which would have made a US president god, or Cherokee county, making a claim of a certain tribal distinction for God.

    Perhaps the driver went to Pepperdine, whose school creed begins with a belief that “God IS”.

    Or perhaps the guy is a big fan of Houston Texans All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson.

    And who says I am an atheist? You?

    And now I think I am a self-god? Where do you get that?

    And you’re ‘watching me’? Is that a threat, or are you peeping in my window?

    Seriously, if you’re going to respond to me, respond on the merits of what I said, not inferences made based on your fears and beliefs. And remember that I didn’t say it in the first place, but the owner of the car did. I’m just responding to the decision to make such a declaration on an Iowa license plate from the People’s Republic of Johnson County.

    Cheers, bc

  3. See, I knew we could turn this into a language lesson somehow…

  4. Calm down bc, I meant watching the blog. I am no threat unless I make you think.

    It is clear to me that the OT God was ontological, and the NT God was existential, and now ontological.

    So of course God does not exist now. That is not a declaration of atheism, though. “God IS”, means nonexisting ontological, nontemporal – not of time and space.

    For a Christian, it is genius to say that God IS, as it implies God no longer exists and did exist, and was never originitively ex-aliquo, always ex-nihilo. Therefore it is in error for a Christian to state that “God exists”, when God does not exist. The person driving the car, even if Jewish or Muslim, is stating for all to see and feel the ontological truth in two words, and not your long explanation saying the same thing. God IS. It is a declaration of an ontology!

    Honestly, I don’t see the humor in this post. After making your joke, you quickly went into your age old question lecture mode of different names, followed by a closing joke, as if to anesthetize the reader into gullibility to accept the lecture that God IS could be any one of the names you stated.

    So bc, if you are not an atheist, and not into self-god worship, who IS God? What is the name YOU give God?

  5. Maybe “Goddess” was taken and this is a cheeky alternative … lol In order to get it, one must pronounce openly, with the breath and not the back of the throat. ;-)

  6. Dr. Cargill, I submit that the previous commenter’s admitting he is “watching you” means he might be one of your followers on FB? (I have more than 300 followers, so paranoia for me is justified.) Oh, and he doesn’t understand the English word “humor” in the slightest, I suppose…even though it’s the first tag you put on the article. But I’m really glad random fundies are stopping by to educate someone who has a PhD in religious studies. What would you ever do without their input?

    I always thought God’s name was Howard. You know: Our Father, who art in heaven, Howard be thy name.

    Finally, your suggestion that this car owner might be worshiping a different fertility god made me laugh so hard I scared the cats.

  7. Huh?
    “Therefore it is in error for a Christian to state that “God exists”, when God does not exist.”
    “So of course God does not exist now. That is not a declaration of atheism, though. “God IS”, means nonexisting ontological, nontemporal – not of time and space.”
    Are you making this up as you go along??

    Your words remind me of an old saying: “Philosophy is logic without data. Religion is philosophy without logic.” I don’t know who said it. I may have just made it up.

    And your concluding question: “So if you are not an atheist, and not into self-god worship, who IS God? What is the name YOU give God?” Makes an obvious false assumption – that there is a god (which you just said doesn’t exist) and that I call him something.

    There may be a god or gods. There may not be a god or gods.
    There may be a spaghetti monster or monsters. There may not be a spaghetti monster or monsters.
    What difference does it make what name I give him? Regardless of name, it is neither a) a claim for or against the existence of a god or gods, or 2) a claim that I am god. It is neither. Your dichotomy is false.

    As is you’re entire line of reasoning.

    But by all means, please keep watching me. ;-)

  8. Galloping goat plops, all this over a bit of whimsey about a license plate ?

  9. “the owner of this car worships a different fertility god.” haha!

  10. Gee, I never consider the county when I read people’s plates. Then again, I seldom read the fine print on anything so mundane. I love Iowa’s “vanity plates” though. Especially when they are not easily deciphered (but I get tired of those declaring undying love and devotion to “Cy”). Mine says DBLREED and when I travel, I get lots of questions about it. I especially enjoy those who know enough to ask, “Oboe or bassoon?” I need to start answering, “How about English Horn?”

  11. The font size for the county name on license plates varies. Not so visible in here in Indiana (but this recovering legal assistant still knows many county numbers – ha!). Ohio screams it at you, and Kentucky is the font-size of a decent mention. Pretty visible in Florida, too.

    I would like the plate I saw on Parks & Recreation. Sam Elliot drove away in some beat up vehicle with a plate that read “CARMA.”

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