Archive for November, 2010

Religious Right Strategy for Taking Political Control

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, Government, history, humanity, life, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , on November 27, 2010 by chouck017894

Back in the recent timeframe 1992 in the USA, there were money-grubbing televangelists who promoted the idea that grabbing political power was the god-approved way to reap heavenly rewards.  It was October 26, 1992 that one of God’s closest confidants, Pat Robertson, announced, “We want…as soon as possible to see a majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996.”  Borrowing angel Gabriel’s trumpet, Robertson tooted that there would be “physically bloody” confrontations as loving Christians battled for political power.  Robertson longed fervently for a religious war.  To make this into a self-fulfilling prophecy, the Christian Right then pumped out reams and reams of fear-inducing brochures and pamphlets in a shameful campaign of divisiveness.  It is said that history repeats itself, and in their fanaticism the Religious Right was (and still is) every bit as paranoid and emotionally selfish as the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century Christians had been.  (No, they were not the innocent little darlings as commonly portrayed.)  Shamelessly, the Religious Right pretended  to be promoting a democratic view of the world, and as they cultivated this mockery of spirit into a political force they deftly sidestepped medial scrutiny behind the nation’s shield of religious freedom. 

By 1996 the Christian Right, which had been an active participant in US politics (often illegally) for a hundred years or more, did indeed manage to wrest control of the GOP at the Republican Convention.  The takeover was accomplished not by godly favoritism but through devilish strategy that enabled a minority to win significantly in local regions and then in national elections.  Like so many of the Bible’s stars, they used deceit and posturing to accomplish their worldly desire, but this was not even commented upon by the major news networks in fear that exposing the Christian Right’s dirty tactics would be construed as an attack upon religion.  Instead, the media gushed about how well-behaved the deceitful delegates had been! 

Carefully kept out of sight by the Christian Right was their ideology and vision of “Biblical law,” which embraced such plans as:  The systematic disruption and eventual destruction of such fundamental democratic institutions as public schooling, jury trials, and the right of free speech—a right being used in this post right now, but which would be violently punished under their divine guidance.  Being spiritually guided, they advocated the lowering of taxes that supported all citizens entitlements such as public schools and public services.  Instead, they advocated that welfare had to be administered solely by private agencies (meaning their religious agencies), not by a fair-play government.  Indeed, the protective democratic government, they insisted, should be abolished and a mandatory religious belief system imposed upon all citizens!

In this recent timeframe there increased the despicable propaganda tactics of demonizing any opponents, which allowed the Right false justification for pursuing their alleged god-directed actions.  Religious fanatics of any stripe are never supporters of democratic principles, and true to form, the harmless-appearing political proposals that the right-wingers submitted always served in some manner to advance their self-serving religious agenda. 

In 1998 the Christian Right’s push for temporal power in the US was nudged in a new direction with the incorporation of a new private school to be known as Patrick Henry College.  Perhaps it was Henry’s retort to conservatives of his day that encouraged the scheming Right to name the college after a genuine patriot of democratic  principles.  Henry had introduced resolutions against the Stamp Act imposed upon the American colonies by the British Parliament in 1765, saying to those conservatives who favored English rule, “If this is treason, make the most of it.”  So it is not likely that Henry would be much flattered to have his name used in conjunction with the school’s anti-democratic motivations.  The college would not open officially until 20 September 2000.

For a student to ever be accepted in Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia they had to confirm, among other stringent demands, that they held literal belief in the teaching of the Bible.  (Never explained was which translation of the biblical myths.)  In the Admission documents that they had to sign was the reminder why student loyalty to PHC was vital: “Satan exists as a personal, malevolent being who acts as tempter and accuser.”  But the blissful students-to-be were not the only ones required to sign a statement of belief: each faculty member had to sign agreements affirming that they would adhere to and would teach in favor of creationist’s beliefs.  The pledge of literal belief in the Bible was held to be most binding upon those teaching biology and theology—specifically belief in the six-day Creation.  All of these cult-like restraints, it was insisted, was to provide a very good liberal arts education.

By April 2004, with the US being led into moral corruption by born-again George W. Bush, PHC was getting its students into strategic areas that dealt with how the US was governed.  Of approximately one hundred interns working in the White House, seven were from Patrick  Henry College; another was working  for Karl Rove, the senior adviser to GWB; and another was active for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign.  Since PHC had opened its doors in 2000, twenty-two Republican conservative members of Congress had employed one or more PHC students who had been programmed with evangelical fanaticism.  As People for the American Way dared to point out, these students “…are not exposed to the kind of diversity the country has. They (the faculty at PHC) are training people with a very limited ideological view.”

But today, a decade into the 21st century, the US is still reeling from that thrust into “biblical values,” and those “values” are still being attempted to replace the noble democratic principles of equality, liberty, justice, fair trade, and tolerance for each other.  In “biblical values” the Omnipotent being that is fantasized by them is allegedly a highly prejudicial being—a concept that runs from Genesis through Revelation.  Genuine history that surrounds similar attempts at imposing harsh religious “values” upon the masses has shown that they have never brought mankind any semblance of peace, harmony or love to the interrelated but diverse people of the world.

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Holy Mystery of the Tetragrammaton

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, history, humanity, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by chouck017894

During the timeframe 1000-960 BCE, superstition ran rampant throughout the Near East cultures due in part to frightening disturbances in the observable heavens that had gone on for generations.  (See posts: Years of Heavenly Havoc, July 2010:  Threats From Heaven, Sept. 2010.)  This is reflected in this general timeframe in the development stage of the faith system that would become Judaism when the drive for authoritarian tribal control led wily priests to concoct from ancient knowledge the mystery device known as the Tetragrammaton.  This was nothing more than four Hebrew letters transliterated from Yahweh as YHWH (or Jehovah as JHVH) and used as a symbol or substitute for the alleged “ineffable name of God.”

The Hebrews were led to regard the four letters YHWH (Yod He Vau He) to make up the real name of God.  It was, in fact, more of a priestly formula that played upon an ancient numerical riddle in which the number four was shown to be reducible to two opposites.  These two opposites could then produce a third or unifying principle, which, because it is made up of two opposites, must contain the original four.  (This indicates there had been some understanding of DNA/RNA roles transmitting genetic information from parents to offspring.)  In the Hebrew priest interpretation, the quadrangular creative elements could also be epitomized triangularly and used as well as a trinity mystery.  (The later Christian fathers would also promote the triangular aspect active in Creation, but it was/is an even more divine (unnatural) mystery—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—which unites absolutely no opposites.)  The divine mystery of the ineffable name of God is cunningly hidden in plain sight with the four letters, YHWH.

The letter Yod is the letter of the phallus, which symbolizes the will to create, and thus regarded as the “father” of creative activity.  Being the active principle, Yod was therefore presented as male, and was represented as fire, hot and dry.

The letter He represented the passive principle—the bearing principleand was thus understood as the “mother” which gave forth understanding.  This passive action was therefore regarded as female, and was represented with the element of water, and thus was typified as cold and wet.  In unification with Yod, the letter He produced the Sun (or Son) which is represented with…

…the letter Vau (similar to W), and signifies the product of will and understanding (fire and water), which functions as mind.  This trinity power is thus characterized as male, and typified as air, being hot and wet. 

The letter He (the feminine aspect) is repeated, which simply represents energy borne into materialization from the gathered first three creative aspects made active as substance-forms and bearing them forth into matter forms.  This activity was therefore characterized as feminine, and represented as the element earth, and typified as being cold and dry.

The alleged consequence of speaking the name of God, the priests avowed, was that it would bring about the end of Creation.  Considering the periodic heavenly disturbances and resultant upheavals on Earth that occurred for generations when this superstition was advanced, the false notion of the Creator’s ineffable name was an easy sell.  Thus for a period of history the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh, went unuttered and was replaced with references borrowed from Sumerian/Babylonian words such as Adonai (Genesis 15:2), and Elohim (in some versions of Genesis 1:1).  The word El, used in many ancient Near East cultures to personify “the Lord,” or God, referred to the singular creative power out of which all things become manifest.  The original Hebrew account, unlike the translations of holy word that we are presented today, read: “In the beginning Elohim (several gods or the personified polarized energies) bara the heavens.”  The word bara translates as cut out, or as we might say God carved out the heavens and Earth from primal energies. 

The four letters, Yod He Vau He, as previously noted, represented the four interactive creative essentials that involve within the Source as two opposites (polar action), which can become creatively activated in either quadrangular or triangular creative exchanges.  Thus when, in Genesis 1:26, the creative power is alleged to have said; “Let us make Man in our image and after our likeness,” the reference is in regard to those opposites (or polarities) that generated Creation, and those interactive polarities were symbolized by the priests with the letters YHWH—the Tetragrammaton.

Spiritual Rigor Mortis

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, freethought, history, humanism, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2010 by chouck017894

The general consensus among man-fashioned faith systems is that the creative power that is to be ceremoniously appealed to is an omnipotent and omniscient (all-powerful and all-knowing) being.  This raises a nagging question: Why should mortal persons be encouraged to whip themselves into a neurotic conviction that there is only one way—their man-concocted way, of course—to seek higher attunement with that omnipotent and omniscient intelligence?  And why would an all-powerful and all-knowing being feel any need to rely upon a theatrical marathon led by pompous and outlandishly costumed charlatans to accomplish his divine intention?

Something in each faith system’s My-Way-Only approach to attracting universal attention simply does not add up; especially considering that this little planet is swamped with a minimum of 4,200 religions, faith groups, schism denominations, independent churches, tribal beliefs, cultural traditions, congregations, etc.  (These statistics were calculated by aherents.com/)  And every one of them is convinced that they alone possess exclusive access to an afterlife paradise or bliss or something resembling a spiritual country club that defies depiction.

These eternally unanswered challenges should send up caution signals to any rational mind.  We should always question any faith system that seeks to forcibly impose their man-invented brand of religious theatrics upon the masses in the name of that all-embracing creative power that demonstratively expresses creative will in endlessly diverse ways.  The diversity that is found throughout all that is seen as life signals to us the universal truth that one’s connection to that Source may also be achieved in endlessly diverse personal ways—not  just through some unyielding, uncompromising dogma.  It is when something is dead that it becomes stiff, cold, inflexible, and unfeeling; i.e. unspiritual.

Rigor mortis is defined as the progressive stiffening of muscular tissues after death, which is due to chemical changes in the physical body.  And this fact of life illustrates the standard by which we may estimate the life-and-spiritual value in our self-awareness which allows each individual to interact with that sustaining creative power.  The creative force  responsible for all creation grants the privilege of diversity throughout all creation.  When faith is made to shrivel into a rigid, unbending, adamant, pitiless practice (fundamentalism), there is no way that such a dead approach could possibly reflect the all-embracing omnipotent and omniscient will in which all diverse things are sustained.  Such self-centered insolence is not a living spiritual practice, for it is purposely directed to achieve only material-tyrannical objectives. 

The fundamentalists habitually string their beliefs upon a few narrowly selected verses of “holy word,” but ignore that the bulk of those stories which they cannibalize for examples on how to stroke God’s ego were primarily concerned about political struggles that were palmed off by the human writers of those self-serving tales as being divine disclosure.  Thus psychologically conditioned, the insecurity that fundamentalists feel in their belief system drives them to seek legal trickery to enforce their distorted values upon the multitude.  Cultivating hatreds and inciting disorder against all those who do not share their inflexible “faith” amounts to nothing more than an indoctrination practice in which followers are conditioned to act as dedicated assassins of spiritual equality.  That is not an honorable way to serve the hallowed source of life; that is personal spirit in the throes of rigor mortis.  There is advice to be found in the New Testament book of Matthew 8:22 that may be directed to those poor souls who have allowed themselves to stiffen into such spiritual rigidity: there it says, “…let the dead bury the dead.”

Two Hothead “Prophets” of Scriptural Myth

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, history, life, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , on November 13, 2010 by chouck017894

Accepting Bible stories literally is always an indulgence in naivety for at least two reasons: 1) All biblical accounts were penned long after the timeframes in which the event allegedly occurred; and 2) Few, if any, genuine historical records ever support the contention that the starring figure in the religious myths even existed.  Where any person or persons can be verified by historical records, they always serve only in peripheral roles, which any writer of fiction knows will add the illusion of reality to a made-up tale.  Take the two “prophets” Elijah and Elisha, for example.

Elijah.  The priest-authors of the “prophet” tales—as they did with every Hebrew scripture tale—took great liberty in use of cosmological facts known to prehistory cultures, and plagiarized myth from neighboring cultures to play upon people’s gullibility.  Regarding the two “prophets” here referred to, both were named by incorporating the word Eli, which means “god,” and using a suffix that referred to life.  In the Ecclesiasticus, an apocryphal or New Testament version, which consists mainly of a series of maxims concerning the practical and moral (?) aspects of life, Elijah was altered to Elias.

Elijah (said to mean “Yah[weh] is my God) is cast as a 9th century BCE Hebrew “prophet” (traditionally c. 910 BCE), which was indeed a timeframe of social and religious changes.  According to priest-authors writing in Jerusalem in the seventh century BCE, Elijah supposedly led the struggle against the idolatrous worship of the Phenician god Baal.  This is told in 1 Kings 17-18 and in 2 Kings 2:15, both composed, remember, in the seventh century BCE Jerusalem.  Elijah is featured in the tale of King Ahab of Israel who married Jezebel of Tyre, and built a temple of Baal for her, which led to a contest of “miracles” between Elijah and the “prophets” of Baal.  According to biblical myth, Elijah commanded that no rain or dew was to fall except by his okay.  Three years allegedly passed with no rain or even any dew falling.  Myth disguises that King Ahab is actually the Babylonian storm god who was named Adad.

To pursue this tale further, we must recognize that it is a variation of the Deluge scenario from the Noah myth of Genesis.  According to 1 Kings, chapter 18, God told Elijah to go show himself to King Ahab, and then God would send rain upon the Earth (as Noah was told to get ready before the Flood).  Here the plot deviates somewhat:  Elijah goes to the top of Mount Carmel where  he awaits the rain, and seven times he had to send his servant to look toward the sea (symbol of the Source of Creative energy) for what we might think of as a weather forecast.  Finally, at the seventh try “…the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain” (flooding).  It was then that “…Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:45).  And so too did Elijah go, who had “…girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab (the storm god) to the entrance of Jezreel;” meaning the passing over into the first dimension of material matter, just as Noah’s landing on Ararat symbolized.  And what happened?  The queen, Jezebel (symbol of energy-substance in early formation of matter) sought to kill the “prophet.”  But Elijah escaped; he withdrew to the “wilderness,” which is always used as the symbol for the pre-physical energy dimensions.  And guess what: he had to stay there for “forty days and forty nights.”

To cut this story summary short, Elijah was told by God to return—just as Moses had been told to leave the unfulfilling conditions of Egypt and renew the movement through the wilderness to continue the process of energy evolving as matter, i.e. the promised land.  Having demonstrated the supremacy of the god Yahweh over Baal, according to the priest-authors, Elijah then had the “prophets” of  Baal put to death.  Typically, the Hebrew priest account implies that omnipotent, omniscient creative power likes to indulge in fiddling around in the political affairs of one tiny region on planet Earth—Israel.  And a later episode tells of Elijah having 102 innocent soldiers burned alive, for following orders to take the “prophet” into custody.  This is the character that is hailed by some Christians as the precursor of the Messiah—a claim based only on the myth of Elijah being carried to heaven in a chariot of fire (a symbol of the sun).

Elisha.  Elisha’s name is Hebrew meaning “God is deliverance.”  The death of this alleged “prophet” is traditionally set in the 8th century BCE.  Elisha was portrayed as having been a farmer who was chosen by Elijah to be his disciple.  When Elijah supposedly ascended to heaven in his fiery chariot he cast his mantle upon Elisha to indicate that Elisha then bore the responsibility of continuing the struggle against the idolatrous Baal cult.  Although Elisha was portrayed as less fervent than his  predecessor, he is credited with attaining much greater political influence through his alleged power to work miracles.   But he, too, had an impulsive murderous streak.  And the tale of Elisha is strangely reminiscent of the Moses/Joshua involvement, even to the point of repeating their miracles.  For example, in 2 Kings 2:14 it says, “And he (Elisha) took the mantle of Elijah that fell  from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of  Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.”  How many Bible interpreters recognize that God separating the “waters” for Creation is repeated in Moses, Joshua, and Elijah myths, and symbolize the same cosmological circumstances?  The initiation of energy toward definition as matter.

Later, after passing over into the intended land (commonly accepted as having taken place c. 896 BCE), bald-headed Elisha trudged his way for fifteen miles from Jericho to Jerusalem.  His “prophet” status got off to a rough start, however, when he was accosted by 42 mocking boys near the town of Bethel who taunted him, “Go up, thou bald head: go up, thou bald head.”  Elisha lost his cool, cursed the youngsters in the name of the Lord, and immediately two bears miraculously appeared and tore all the juvenile delinquents to shreds.  Biblical scholars disagree as to the authenticity of this tale.  (But who could ever doubt it!)  True or not, Elisha using the power of the Lord to destroy 42 youth still amounts to murder.  Thus, not only Elisha but the Lord himself stand guilty of disobeying the Sixth Commandment.

Elisha, nonetheless, is allowed a  passing report card; the reason being that he supposedly allowed himself some compassionate acts later in his “prophet” career.  Priest-authors claim that he made a poisonous spring wholesome, made poison soup palatable and harmless, saved a woman who was deeply in debt from having  to sell her sons into slavery, cured a barren woman and raised her dead son, and other standard miracles.  And Elisha even cured the Syrian king Naaman of  leprosy; this kindness was much appreciated by the king, but not so much by the king’s servant, Gehazi, to whom the ghastly disease was transferred!  Hey, God thought it was okay.

But, as with Elijah, impulsiveness was never abandoned in Elisha’s character.  He is credited with having played a role in two assassinations years later for political reasons.   The first assassination involved Hazael who murdered Ben-hadad (2 Kings 7-15), and the second assassination allegedly took  place after Elisha instigated an uprising following the idolatrous Jehu gaining the throne of Israel (2 Kings 1:37).  It all seems to have amused God, for apparently nothing else on this little planet was worth looking into.

Again it becomes rather obvious why the fundamentalists and those who want the US government to be Bible-based or “God-led” find the holy book so inspiring.  Upon Elisha’s death, traditionally placed c. 841 BCE, the king of Israel is said to have wept copiously for the “prophet,” and the bald man was buried with highest honors.  Holy word remains frustratingly silent as to whether the townspeople of Bethel, where the 42 children were killed, felt the same grief at the “prophet’s” demise.

Susanna Did What!

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, faith, random, religion, sex, thoughts with tags , , , , on November 7, 2010 by chouck017894

There is a narrative that does not appear in all Bibles, which exemplifies the pick-and-choose habit of faith systems to select only things that they wish to accept as true.  The narrative in question is in regard to Susanna and the Elders, which is omitted in Protestant Bibles such as the King James version and the Revised Standard.  The tale is regarded as of questionable origin or of doubtful religious significance but which was tacked onto the  Book of Daniel.  The earlier Roman Catholic Church, due to the Council of Hippo (393 CE) and Council of Trent (1546 CE), made up of priests needing occasional suggestive reading matter, cleared the tale as the word of God and added it to Daniel as chapter 13.  This was allowed despite the fact that the style and setting of the story, and even the character traits of Daniel do not harmonize with the rest of the book of Daniel.  The work is now place in an appendix after chapter 12, which also includes the work  known as Bel and the Dragon.

In a nutshell, Susanna is about a beautiful and devout Jewish woman who is falsely accused of adultery by two Jewish elders who had lustful desires for the untouchable Susanna.  In essence, the story verges on soft porn, but the tale was included as an example of justice being  triumphant due to her plea to the Omniscient Lord to reveal the truth of her innocence.  Susanna was summoned before the judges who constituted the court, and the two accusers were  among them.  A beautiful woman being publicly accused of adultery attracted widespread attention, for the prospect of witnessing the sadistic punishment and death for a female adulterer was a powerful magnet.  But young Daniel is alleged to have risen to her defense, seeing in her the living example of truth and faithfulness as she faced her accusers, the court, and the gathered mob.

The trial began with the two lying elders demanding that she uncover her face, a custom prescribed in the book of Numbers 5:18; but by the historical timeframe in which the tale is set, the Mishna, tr. Sota 1, 5, forbade public unveiling of an attractive woman at such an event.  But the story goes on that the two elders rose up “…in the midst of the people, (and) laid their hands upon her head.”  Not a likely move, for under Jewish judicial procedure a witness could not also serve as judge.  But the false witnesses, their lust unfulfilled, told of having been by chance  in the orchard where the alleged incident took place and seeing Susanna receiving and having congress with a young man.  The mob absurdly believed that honored elders were above lying  about anything, and so the mob, manipulated into a  frenzy, condemned her to death. 

It is here that young Daniel enters the tale.  The  story does point up the fact that the majority of people  do not like to apply reason to a problem; they prefer finding gratification in having their opinions manipulated.  Ignored was the detail that no one had bothered to ask; why the two elders just happened to be loitering in the woman’s private garden.  Nor had anyone bothered to ask them to describe the young man or describe what the young man had been wearing.  Fortunately there was an established juridical procedure in this timeframe by which an appeal from a conviction of a capital offense stayed an execution until new evidence was asked for and received. 

Daniel made use of this procedure, and in the reopening of the case proceeded to cross-examine the two dishonorable elders separately in front of the court so that neither man knew what the other had said.  The single question put to the men was, under what kind of tree had the intimate incident occurred?  The first elder, without hesitation, declared the sexual act took place “under a mastic tree.”  The second elder, a bit reluctant, said it had occurred “…under a holm tree” (Daniel 13:58).  The assemblage recognized the discrepancy in the alleged witnesses’ testimony, and true to the fundamentalists’ mentality moved to, “To fulfill the law of Moses…(and) put them to death, and innocent blood was saved that day.” 

Unanswered is the nagging question, where was Susanna’s husband during this sordid trial?  He is absent for the simple reason that if the husband, named Joakim, had played the loyal husband role at the trial, Daniel would not have held the starring role: the episode was inserted as part of Daniel, after all.  So the tale ends with a fairytale flavor, the implication being that Susanna and Joakim lived happily ever after.

We are supposed to ignore that in gambling with contradictory answers from the elders to a single question, Daniel was actually gambling with Susanna’s life.  It was not totally impossible that both elder might have named the same tree.  Modern legal practice would never hinge on such a flimsy procedure.  What this tale does accentuate, however, is how easy it is to sway the populace through inflammatory remarks, slanted news, and  unethical persuasion. 

Unfortunately, the crude, swift, and erratic injustice personified with the elders and by the mob is still to be seen in religious and political arenas to this day.  For some reason we may wonder why we think of the Tea Party crowd in today’s US politics.

  • Related post: Book of Daniel, Another Borrowed Myth

Book of Daniel, Another Borrowed Myth

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, Hebrew scripture, history, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , on November 6, 2010 by chouck017894

Biblical stories are never really sequential: they commonly have identical plotlines told under different circumstances.  For example, the twenty-seventh book of the Old Testament is Daniel, which is regarded by many biblical scholars as being more apocalyptic in nature than prophetic.  In the book of Ezekiel (14:14), written 592-586 BCE, there is mention of a Daniel who, along with Noah and Job, is characterized as one of history’s most outstanding righteous men.  The biblical tale of Daniel is set in the timeframe of the sixth century BCE when Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylonia.  The implied date in Daniel 1:1 is 606 BCE.

But this is Hebrew literature, and the book of Daniel is actually a make-over tale taken from a north Syrian poem dating c. 1500 BCE and updated c. second century BCE as part of the alleged historical background of the Judeans.  We should note as well, the Syrian Daniel was from a city named Salem, meaning “peace,” which also just happened to have become part of the name Jerusalem.  In the Syrian original, Daniel was portrayed as an authoritative judge and lawgiver, ala Moses-style; and, Moses-style, provided for his people’s welfare.  In the 1500 BCE timeframe of the original writing, the story of Daniel was well-known among many Near East cultures.  It is this Daniel of whom Ezekiel refers, not the plagiarized priest version.  But history revision is too often a religionists’ specialty, and thus the transposed youthful Daniel is declared to be “skilful in all wisdom, cunning in knowledge, and understanding science” (Daniel 1:4).  [It should be noted also that the storyline for Joseph in Genesis was closely structured upon this same Syrian poem.]

As the priest-authors revised the Syrian story, the name Daniel was interpreted as meaning “God is my judge;” a loose interpretation of the Syrian Daniel who was  portrayed as a  son of the god El—the same El that pops up in Genesis (as El and Elohim).  The priest version portrayed Daniel as a pious and wise Jewish youth of a  prominent family who was among those who had been deported to Babylon.  In the priestly plotline, Daniel has six defined  episodes: 1) Daniel, and friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego at the table of the king; 2) Daniel interprets the king’s recurring dream (as Joseph had done with Pharaoh); 3) three youths are tossed into the fiery furnace (as Joseph, the butler, and the baker in Pharaoh’s  pokey); 4) Nebuchadnezzar’s temporary madness; 5) Daniel reads the handwriting on the wall; 6) Daniel in the lion’s den.  The biblical Daniel also had visions, among them being a reference in a prayer to seventy years of “…the devastation of Jerusalem” in chapter nine reminiscent of seven years of famine in the Joseph version).  His final vision, generally dated 535 BCE (but actually written c. second century BCE), extends a promise of Jerusalem’s resurrection.

As in the biblical story where Joseph has his name changed to Zaphnathpaaneah by Pharaoh (Genesis 41:45), in the priest-version Daniel is alleged to have had his name changed to Belshazzar by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:7).

Daniel, in its early Bible-style presentation, was written in two languages, Hebrew and Aramaic, and portions switched back and forth suddenly without obvious reason.  Although this seems suspiciously like composite authorship, in the timeframe of this composition both languages were in use, for Aramaic is a  linguistic cousin to Hebrew.  On the other hand, the literary style of chapter 1 through 6 is more “heroic” and is noticeably different from the style of 7 through 12 that concentrates on Jerusalem and the sanctuary.  The early portion has more of a diaspora flavor (dispersion of any originally homogeneous people), and reflects extensive contact with both Persian and Hellenistic influences.  The apocalyptic portion of Daniel (10-12), in contrast, provides something of a review of the ancient Near Eastern political current that swirled around the tiny Judean community from the time of the Persian Empire down to about 167 BCE.  The book of Daniel is rather unique, therefore, in that theological intention and literary genre do not show a strong relationship to the language that was used.

But Daniel has still another level.  The material from which both the Daniel and Joseph stories were “borrowed,” the Syrian poem, although also a myth-fashioned tale, was in regard to cosmological actions.  The priest-authors in Jerusalem were not particularly knowledgeable of cosmology  or particularly psychologically wise, but they knew a good storyline when they could steal one.  Thus in the dream which King Nebuchadnezzar allegedly saw “a great image, whose brightness was excellent…” the original Syrian story was in reference to primal energies in the process of involving toward matter forms.  This is why the “image” is described as having a head of fine  gold, with breast and arms  of silver, his belly and thighs of brass, his legs of iron, and feet part iron and clay (Daniel 2:32-35).  It doesn’t take a divine interpreter to see that this describes the progression from pure energy into materiality, and this accounts for the tradition of speaking of the gold, silver, bronze and iron ages of man’s evolution.

One of the many theatrical events in Daniel is the fiery furnace episode in chapter three, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are tossed into a fire pit.  Nebuchadnezzar is said to have seen them walking in the midst of the flames with a  fourth figure, described as being “…like the Son of God.”  This is history?  No, this is from ancient cosmology and deliberately misrepresented as history to glorify themselves.  What has been perverted is the ancient allegory of the Sun’s formation’ and the three men walking in that fire represented the three pre-physical elements from which the Sun takes on form.  The fourth figure is element number four, and the slowly appearing image in the fire said to be holding a stone refers to the formation of physical matter.  Witnessing all this, Nebuchadnezzar is therefore said to save those elements.  Of course they were saved; Creation is not halted at the whim of some pompous mortal.

We could go into detail about numerous other “images” mentioned in Daniel, but suffice it to say they all concern stages of energy transforming into matter.  There are the usual “beast” symbols, of course, the fourth of which is said “…shall be  diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth…” (Daniel 7:23).  Should we fear this fourth beast?  Frankly, yes, for it  is in regard to the human kingdom, which history has repeatedly shown the brutal, predatory nature of this animal.  But hope is extended with the promised fifth kingdom: i.e. man’s higher potential that will be achieved only through knowledge of the creative process—indicated in Daniel as employing a reverse engineering process to raise man’s worth from clay, iron, brass, silver to gold.

With these hints regarding ancient symbolism, biblical tales begin to actually make sense.  And reading from the book of Daniel we can recognize where “saint” John “borrowed” much of the imagery used in the convoluted book of Revelation.

A note on real history.  According to holy word, it is  implied that Belshazzar (Daniel) served as king after Nebuchadnezzar; again this is political propaganda, not truth.  As noted in encyclopedias, no ancient historian ever mentioned his name as one of the successors of Nebuchadnezzar.  He certainly was not the son of Nebuchadnezzar as suggested in Daniel 5:2, and his only position of power was as regent.  Nor was it Nebuchadnezzar who became ill; it was Nabonidus, the last of the Chaldean dynasty to reign at Babylon (583-556 BCE) who did have a son named Belshazzar.  The priest-author(s) indulged himself in the liberty of applying some known facts about Nabonidus to the wacky story of Daniel.

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Abortion and the Bible

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, humanity, life, medical, nature, random, religion, science, thoughts with tags , , , on November 1, 2010 by chouck017894

More important than the event of being born into this harsh material world is the prospect of what the quality of that newborn’s life is likely to be.  This is not an aspect that those opposed to abortion seem willing to consider seriously.  They prefer to let incompetent religious hucksters manipulate them and short-circuit their reasoning ability by use of cherry-picked biblical verses taken out of context of certain stories.  To use two or three biblical verses out of context to claim a godly pronouncement against abortion, and jimmy them into a doctrine stoked with hatred amounts to true sacrilege.  Far more verses can be lifted out of context that will contradict the antiabortion stance, not to mention  that whole chapter in the Old Testament tell of god-approved slaughter of babes, infants, children and parents.  The book of Joshua, for example, is glorification of a holocaustic orgy of such slaughter of innocents. 

Anti-abortionists declare themselves to be “pro-life,” and yet they extend no compassion or thought as to the quality of  life into which a forming fetus is to be born.  Very few of those pro-life activists ever lift a finger to do anything about the infants after they are born into life-demeaning or life-threatening circumstances.  If these pro-life activists really were pro-life they would organize to help all those infants who are  born into poverty and have only a bleak, miserable existence waiting for them.  To ignore such tragedy that is played out all around this overpopulated planet is a testimony that pro-lifers actually lack any true spiritual perception. 

As a small example of how they blind themselves to the enormity of real life and spiritual problems, consider these facts from United Nations.  One-point-four billion people around the planet live in extreme poverty where income is less than $1.25 per day.  Around a billion people have no access to clean water, and infants and very young children perish from contaminated water.  And more than a billion persons, mainly infants and very young children, are chronically undernourished.  These are just a few examples of conditions of conscious, self-aware life, not potential life.  What do those who claim to be pro-life do to actually raise the quality of life in this world?  Nothing.   For pro-life fanatics to claim themselves as pro-life but ignore these tragedies while indulging in social mayhem amounts to nothing more than a stimulant for masturbating their egos. 

Nowhere in “holy word” is it said that God defined a fetus as being a sentient person.  In fact, in the timeframes in which the few cherry-picked verses were written a babe was not considered a person until it had passed its first year of life.  That is historical fact.  And it is made clear in the book of Exodus, chapter 21, verses 22 through 25.  It is highly unlikely that the anti-abortionists ever exert themselves to really read the Bible so here is what it says:  “And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide.  But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”  So if a woman were to lose a fetus when accidentally struck as two men are fighting, it was not deemed a capital offense.  If the woman had been killed, however, then another life had to be forfeited.  In other words, a fetus was not deemed to be a person, but the woman was man’s property.

Biblical translations abound, and one can pick and choose what they want to use as basis to practice some prejudice.  In the verses quoted above, the word miscarriage is changed in some editions to read “gives birth prematurely,” which is claimed to be closer to original text. (The New International Version of the Bible.)  But here, too, the choice of words are not scripturally correct.  The Hebrew word yalad, a verb, was translated as the word “miscarriage” or as “gives birth prematurely;” but more correctly it describes the process of expelling a fetus, not the personhood of the fetus itself.  And in the wretched book of Leviticus, a baby had to reach the age of one month before it was judged to have any monetary value (27:6).  In the book of Numbers (3:15) it tells of a census that was taken, but any babes under one month were not to be counted, so it is certain that any fetuses were not counted as forthcoming persons. 

Still the anti-abortionists love to point out cherry-picked verses chosen for them by some egocentric faith merchant, and then go forth in God’s name to bomb women’s clinics or indulge in outright murder of doctors who serve such clinics.  What part of the phrase pro-life do they not understand?  The favored verses chosen by the unspiritual faith merchants as a rallying cry for practicing hatred come from alleged special case character in some biblical tale.  One of their favorite rallying choices comes from Psalms 139:13-16, which reads:  “For thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.  (Wrought where?)  Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

The verse quoted above is alleged to have been written by David, but sounds suspiciously like priest jargon.  In any case, it is about one  particular person who was to be used by God to intruded upon regional politics: that one glorified womb product was not in reference to every conception and fetal growth. 

Another cherry-picked phrase taken out of context and thrown around to stimulate their urge for inhumane conduct is, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee.”   And who was it that God allegedly said this to?  It was not to all humankind but to one particular prophet: it was to Jeremiah, supposedly chosen for a divine purpose.  The full passage reads: “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto nations.”  This hardly applies to the run of the mill fetuses.  And further on it says: “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant.”  How does that possibly apply to every fetus?

There is one  more favorite cherry-picked Bible episode lifted out of the New Testament book of Luke (1:39-41); the crafted scene where Elisabeth, mother-to-be of John the Baptist, meets with Mary pregnant with Jesus.  “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.  And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.”

Once again it is an alleged divine prophet that is portrayed as a sentient fetus.  Fetuses may kick and move as muscles and nerve systems develop, but the impulses of energy hardly makes every fetus a god-fashioned sentient person.  And using Bible verses out of context cannot be legitimately pointed to as a mandate against abortion.  If those who claim to be pro-life could find the stomach to actually read the “good book” from cover to cover they would find absolutely nothing in regard to abortion—neither condemning nor defending it.  As far as holy word is concerned, abortion is a non-issue.