Archive for October, 2012

A Longed For Messiah

Posted in Atheist, belief, Christianity, Hebrew scripture, history, religion with tags , , , , on October 27, 2012 by chouck017894

Belief in a soon-to-come messiah was deep-seated among the Jews long before the time of the Maccabean revolt (144 BCE), and the fervor of that belief by that time had virtually elevated that expected savior into a secondary god.  The Ethiopic book of Enoch, for example, reveals that entrenched veneration by saying, “Before the sun and the signs were created, before the stars of heaven were made, his name was called before the Lord of Spirits.”  In this glorification of the expected messiah there is found the influence of Babylonian myth.  And in this is also found the seed from which Christianity would evolve.  (If you are unfamiliar with the book of Enoch, it is because it was one of the many quasi-religious Jewish writings that were not included as part of the Old Testament because the zodiacal references did not contribute to the idea of a cult leader authority.)

The yearned for messiah was fashioned upon the legendary Israelite deliverer named Jeschu (Joshua), and Jewish literature such as Proverbs, Ecclesiastics, and Enoch reflect a background of centuries of polytheistic ideas among the tribal Hebrews.  Hellenism became an influencing factor upon tribal faith, causing mounting dissatisfaction with pure Judaism among the Jews after the Babylonian captivity (c. 597 and 587/586 BCE), but before the destruction of the Temple (August of 70 CE).  Ceremonial “law” and endless taboos, sacrifices and superstitions  provided individuals little inspiration to act virtuously.  Almost in defiance of priest control there developed a correlation of Jeschu/Joshua with the Greek Logos, and that association as Son of God and messiah is suggested in the Pentateuch.  Thus the name Jesus, derived from Jeschu/Joshua, became revered among some factions of Judaism long before the appearance of the Jesus cult in Rome.  This claim is strengthened in the fact that about a century before the death of Herod (44 CE), there is recorded the public execution of a man named Jesus and his body was hung upon a tree.  The name recorded was Jesus ben Pandira, and it was recorded in the reign of the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus.

There are old documents which show that the early cult of Jesus, in rivalry with law-obsessed  Judaism, was attracting converts among the Jews after the Babylonian captivity.  In the oldest document of this older cult the central feature was the eucharist—the sacrament in which bread and wine (or water) are consecrated, then consumed in memory of a revered deity (a deity that usually had been sacrificed).  This rite was common in many of the  so-called faith practices of the Mideast region in this era, but the eucharist rite was practiced in secret usage among the Jews who were becoming discontent with the frustration and futility of tribal ceremonial “law.”  The point labored for here is that this places familiarity with the name Jesus as messiah nearly a century before the Roman authors of Mark and Matthew introduced the character of Jesus to the Roman public.  On the whole, however, those early Jesus cult writings were aimed primarily at those discontented Jews who wanted a more moralizing and uplifting form of faith.

The original character of Jeschu/Joshua had several attributes which were always associated with Pagan sun gods—the alleged power of halting the course of the sun, for example.  But in the Yahweh priests’ version Joshua was reduced to human status.  This sun god relationship thus became echoed throughout Jesus cult writings with Joshua’s namesake, Jesus, saying, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).  True of the light from the sun, the verse declares, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  It is from this sun-god association that most Christian sects proclaim their faith on Sunday–the day of the Sun.  (The day for holy observance among the Jews is Saturday, the day of Saturn.)

In 60 BCE Jerusalem was captured by Rome; forty-six years later, in 06 CE, Judea was annexed by Rome; by 55 CE the proportion of Jews in the Empire was over twenty percent; by 66 CE the constant religious egotism of the Jews flamed into rebellion.  That portion of the Roman Empire was a source of continuous friction.

When Octavian became sole master of the Roman world in 27 BCE, becoming Emperor Augustus, his empire spread  from Africa, Asia, Gaul, Spain and Dalmatia, so preserving order in each part of the empire was vital for unity and continuance.  By the time that Emperor Augustus died in 14 CE, the Roman populace had become fascinated by the exotic character of cults and rituals such as Mithras (Persian), Isis (Egyptian), and Cybele (Phrygian).  The acceptance of these gods within Rome had made for easier  transitions and cooperation with these subdued regions.  So the Jewish Jesus cult in the Judean region would not have gone unobserved by the Roman aristocrats an literati, for the Empire continued to be constantly troubled with Jewish haughtiness.  Thus, around 50-55 CE, as the more hardline Jews kept being fanned into periodic insurrections, a few Roman aristocrats and literati began to toy with the idea that it could be politically advantageous to cultivate that deviation of the Jesus cult that struggled within the substrata of Jewish culture.  So, can it be simple coincidence that the first versions of Mark and Matthew happened to make their appearance in the Roman Empire at this 50-55 CE timeframe?

And isn’t it strange that later New Testament books appeared either during or shortly after other periods of rebelliousness by the Jews?  There was war in Judea in 69, and Jerusalem fell in 70.  So is it simply coincidence that the revisions of Mark and Matthew came to pass between 70 and 80?  This was also the timeframe in which the destruction of the last three outposts of Jewish resistance took place; the Jewish strongholds of Machaerus,  Herodian, and Masada.  After another long siege in 79, Jerusalem was captured by the Romans.  In the period following this, 84-90, Paul supposedly came upon the scene and the books Acts of the Apostles and Luke were composed.

Continuing acts of civil disobedience throughout Jewish population centers necessitated constant monitoring, and in this general timeframe, 94-100, the books 1 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians were written.  Also in this timeframe the Pharisees declared that Italy, and especially Rome, was “unclean. ”  The composition of the book of Romans dates c. 100; 2 Corinthians and the editing of Ephesians occurred c. 100-105; 1 Timothy and Titus c.105-107; and Philemon c. 106-107.  The second great revolt by the Jews began c. 115, and one million Jews took  over Alexandria, Egypt and held it for nearly a year.  By 116 there were also uprisings in Parthia and other places.  2 Peter, 1,2 and 3 John,and the book of Jude all date c. 110-115.

Another great Jewish revolt began in 131 under the leadership of Bar Cocheba, and the Roman troops that were sent to restore order there suffered a surprising defeat.  Roman patience with Jewish spiritual obstinacy was running thin.  The violence of the rebellion in Jerusalem lasted for four years and was climaxed by the Emperor Hadrian having Jerusalem destroyed and forbidding any Jew from setting foot on the site.  Can it be mere coincidence that the book of Revelations was written c. 135-138, the period following that violent insurrection of the Jews?

Curiously, however, the last book to be written in the New Testament lineup was the book Hebrews, written between 138-140—incorporated after Revelations was composed.  In the book of Hebrews, chapter 8, the messianic expectations of the Jews is portrayed as having been answered in Jesus, stating that the Aaronic priests had served only “…the shadow of heavenly things…” (8:5) of which Jesus Christ is alleged to serve the realities.  Thus in Hebrews 8:6-13 there is offered a “new covenant” for the Jewish people.  Even at that late date the Roman rule still was not out to destroy Jewish culture; it only sought to soften the Jewish obsessive pretense of spiritual elitism.

One might say that this is another example of wisdom for keeping church and state separate.

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A Short Example of “Biblical Values”

Posted in belief, Bible, Hebrew scripture, random, religion with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2012 by chouck017894

The Lord got frustrated and angry a lot in the Old Testament.  And rather than just guide his chosen ones through calm psychological counseling, the Lord was often prone to strengthening the enemies of his chosen ones in order to inflict punishment on his darlings.  At least that is often the judgment presented by the priest authors who pretended to chronicle truth of the Lord’s holy mood swings.  Whenever the Yahweh priests lost total control over those subjected to their self-proclaimed god-given authority, and another ethnic group or culture prevailed, a favorite excuse for the Israelite’s defeat was that the Israelites “went awhoring after other gods.”  A typical but lesser known example of this favored excuse is found in the book of Judges, which purports to cover the history of Israel from the time of the settlement in Canaan until just before establishment of the monarchy.  (Related post: Fables From the Book of Judges, August 2010.)

The Old Testament runneth over with blood and guts stories, which seems a peculiar way to express the love and the alleged continual blessing and favoritism of the Lord.  The book of Judges attempted to connect and continue the priestly saga of the violent settlement of Canaan that had begun with the book of Joshua.  But no leader who was comparable to the merciless Joshua had been provided by the Lord after Joshua died, and thus the unity of the tribes weakened, and consequently degenerated into apostasy followed by military defeat to Mesopotamia.  According to the alleged Israelite history by the priest-authors of Judges, Israel’s fall to Mesopotamia was due to a series of desertions from the faith.  So the omniscient Lord determined that the Israelites must therefore be made to endure eight years under Mesopotamian rule, and only then would God raise up a warrior, Othniel, to deliver them.  But then after forty years under Othniel’s supervision the people again “went awhoring after other gods” (a favorite phrase among priest-authors).  And of course God’s favorites wound up defeated c. 1406 BCE by Eglon, king of the Moabites, who had allied with the Ammonites and Amalekites against God’s darlings.

After eighteen years under the harsh thumb of King Eglon, a self-appointed rescuer named Ehud from the tribe of Benjamin decided to redeem his people by assassinating King Eglon.  Ehud, acclaimed as the second of the revered “Judges,” was convinced that getting rid of the tyrant Eglon was his godly calling, and so he fashioned a two-edged dagger about eighteen inches long, hid it in the folds of his cloak, and managed to get into the presence of the obese king Eglon.  Ehud implied to the king that he had a secret errand, so the king allowed Ehud a private meeting in the king’s summer parlor.  According to the priest-authors, deception for some mysterious holy reason is the honored way to serve an omniscient God, so Ehud came close to the king, saying, “I have a message from God unto thee” (Judges 3:20).  As the king bent near, Ehud then drew with his left hand the dagger hidden under his cloak on his right thigh and thrust the long blade into the belly of the corpulent king.

The lethal attack upon the king is lavishly detailed: “And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he (Ehud) could not draw the dagger out of his (Eglon’s) belly; and the dirt came out.”  Slinking away and locking the door to the summer parlor behind him, Ehud managed to depart the crime scene just as palace servants arrived and lingered uneasily outside the parlor door, for they were sore afraid to intrude upon the king’s privacy.  That detailed gory story is presented in a style similar to cloak and dagger entertainment features of today in which the hero (Ehud) answers his highest spiritual calling.  The priest-written story then gets abruptly condensed from verse 27 to 30 with a hasty brush off saying that Ehud raised an army which he led against the implied might of the combined Moabite, Ammonite and Amalekite forces.  The priestly account tersely sums it up that the combat resulted in the slaying of “…ten thousand men, all lusty and all men of valor; and there escape not a man.”  The chapter then concludes with the claim that Israel “…had rest fourscore years” (the typical forty years in such tales).  There is no further narrative; there is only the statement that Ehud “delivered Israel,” the implication being that all the violence, destruction and killing had been with God’s blessing.

If such a premeditated, cold-blooded murder, as is so explicitly detailed of King Eglon’s murder was carried out today in the manner stated would it be so callously brushed aside as it is presented in the circumstances depicted in the book of Judges?  Could any rational person possibly believe that such practiced betrayal and plotted taking of human life could be carried out as a fulfillment of some divine commission?  The Ehud tale obviously is not true spiritual guidance, and should not be accepted as inspirational or motivational.  Unfortunately, there are religious extremists in the United States today who seek to install such bloody “biblical values” as the righteous path for achieving God’s favor for the nation.

Addendum:  There is a peculiarity to this particular “holy” tale, which is that there is a word used in the telling which is not found anywhere else in “holy scriptures.”  That is the word misdaron, which has often been translated as “vestibule” or “porch“–or as in the above version as “parlor.”  But Professor Baruch Halpern (Pennsylvania University), compared palace architecture of the region in this timeframe and found that the word misdaron is most probably in reference to King Eglon’s toilet.  Royal palaces did in fact have indoor toilet facilities in the mid-second millennium BCE.  No wonder the servants would not be eager to disturb the king’s privacy!

This, however, leaves us wondering why Ehud would have been conversing with Eglon when the king was sitting on that throne.  On the other hand, it does explain the  particular detail that “all the dirt came out” when Ehud plunged the knife into the king’s gut.  Plus it is more logical that Ehud could have escaped through the misdaron while the toilet door was still locked and he exited by means of the droppings area below which was flushed out by a royal “plumber.”  Certainly such labor was not open to public view, which would explain Ehud’s easy escape.

This tale in the time of its writing would have been greeted with hilarity, which was probably the point of the priest authors.  And the abrupt denouement with Ehud’s wondrous triumphs simply added a twist of the knife, so to speak.

God, Sex, and DNA

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, nature, random, religion, sex, Social with tags , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by chouck017894

Thanks to “saints” such as Jerome and Augustine, the Christian world has been schooled to regard the natural attraction and mechanics of sex as being somehow an affront to the power that created and sustains all the diversity which it approved as “Creation.”  The magnetism that stirs the urges for intimate relationship with another person is, admittedly, a power that often confounds us, but that mystification of attraction is not a sign of “sinfulness.”  The fact that such magnetic attraction to others is experienced by us at all is strong testimony that everyone and everything is somehow interrelated, and demonstrates that it is natural for units of similar energies to attract, intermingle and invigorate each other.

All forms of life, in one way or another, experience the magnetic attraction called sex, which insures a perpetual display of energy diversity that glorifies the universe.  That is an awesome truth that fuels infinity.  And that truth can be traced back into the miniscule and infinite energy components out of which we become manifest as definable beings—an involvement of energy-substance activity that science has designated as DNA.  And that awesome creative power, contrary to some self-serving religious assertions, could never disown or reject any expression of itself.

DNA, Deoxyribonucleic acid, is the chief constituent of chromosomes; it can replicate itself, and is responsible for transmitting genetic information, in the form of genes, from parents to their offspring.  This is the famed double helix, the “ladder of life.”  It consists of two long chains of linked nucleotides (various organic compounds consisting of a nucleoside combined with phosphoric acid), which are connected to each other by hydrogen bonds between the bases adenine and thymine or between cytosine and guanine.  (Sorry for this bit of technological stuff.)  The chromosomes are organized in 23 pairs—which make up the famed “ladder of life”—that mysterious “ladder” supposedly seen by Jacob in Genesis 28:12–before his name-change to Israel (where he attained physical life).  Out of these 23 pair of chromosomes only one pair of X and Y—one chromosome from the mother and one from the father—determine the diverse and variable sexual features of the entity.  The other 22 pair are known as autonomies, meaning that they are not sex determinants.

Amazingly, the complexity and specialness of each human being is determined by only around 30,000 genes, which is an astonishingly small number to be responsible for the escalation and intricacy that results in all the variety to be found in human life.  A haploid (cell) refers to a single cell which has the number of chromosomes present in the usual germ cell, and this is equal to only one half the number in what is known as a somatic cell—or in a manner of speaking, only one half of a rung on that “ladder of life.”  Soma, in biology, designates the body of an organism (cell) which is present but is not actually part of the germ cells.  Thus a gene is a hereditary unit located on a chromosome, which determines a specific function or characteristic in an organism.  A complete set of chromosomes is known as genome.

Male and female development is dependent upon the different determinants or segments or genes that are distributed along the X and Y chromosomes.  Each and every individual has thus been created with different combinations of these factors which affect their body structure, brain activity and behavior patterns, and this includes how physical stimulants arouse a person.  This fact of life-inception clearly attests that the Creative Source does not indulge in or demand cookie-cutter sameness within a species.  Thus the holy truth is that the chromosomes assemble in this manner to insure a wide diversity of physical characteristics for species benefit—and this includes differences in sexual preferences.

The X and Y chromosome—X for female, and Y for male—demonstrate how the chemical process results in character traits and attractions that are of psychological and social interest.  For example, all males with an excess of either X or Y chromosomes are likely to be predisposed to produce an increased amount of male hormones which often tend to become expressed with a tendency toward aggressiveness and a lower threshold for committing violence in comparison with the so-called “normal” male population.  Perhaps the religious extremists and obstructionist politicians in our society could possibly be accounted for by having an extra Y chromosomal composition.

For the XYY males it seems that tendencies toward violence generally begins early; around the age of 13 instead of surfacing around 18 years.  The XYY males generally issue out of a fairly “normal” sample of the population, but nonetheless the XYY male often feels at odds with the “normal” environment.”

The religiously obsessed commonly choose to ignore this resourceful means by which life’s fluid “design” become active for providing the energy source for manifestation of a life form.  Instead, the priest-written “good book” encourages the idea that human propagation is the sole purpose of physical closeness.  The priest-authors who dared to presume Yahweh’s “laws” (probably driven by their own XYY chromosomes) sought to encourage the non-stop reproduction of their followers because heavy breeding activity insured the increase of followers.  This priest-issued sexual license also assured their authoritative influence in the face of the differently oriented societies around them.  Therefore, it was the scheming priests, not the Creative Principle (personified by them as God) who decreed that any sexual activity that did not contribute to the growth of their cult was a “sin.”  The fourth book of priest-written Hebrew scripture tales is entitled Numbers, and that objective is always what all religious and political would-be leaders want—a steady increase in the number of followers and supporters.  Thus the widespread encouragement of nonstop breeding by such power-hungry men has today blessed this little planet with an excess of eight billion persons!

Thus it was claimed by the priest-authors of “holy word” that the Lord (creative law personified) abhorred and condemned any unproductive sexual activity such as masturbation, coitus interruptus, fellatio, celibacy, homosexuality, and by extension any use of pregnancy preventive aids and abortion.  This feigned godly abhorrence of unproductive sex was/is, to be blunt, economically and politically profitable for their religio-political power base as well as being eugenic.

But if procreation was supposedly God’s sole intent for instituting sexual attraction in the human species, would he/she/it not have also established physical safeguards to assure that?  It would have been easy enough for god to have incorporated in the human species, as in most other mammals, sexual activity that is regulated by estrus cycles.  That is the mammalian feature where the regularly recurring periods of ovulation and sexual excitement in female mammals become ready to bear offspring.  Obviously, if the estrus cycle in the human species was altered by god’s sanction, the role of sexual attraction was intentionally liberated and broadened in mankind in the probable expectation that the value of love would be achieved among humans.  Instead, man’s organized and self-serving religions and politics have chosen to pursue the mindless premise that the propagation of ever more humans is a sacred duty!  With the human population of this little planet today swarming with more than eight billion persons, such indulgence in runaway breeding is demonstratively irrational and irresponsible.

  • Related posts: Sex Attraction, A Bogus “Spiritual” Dilemma, Oct. 2009;  Creation’s Law of Diversity, Feb. 2010; God Didn’t Mention Chromosomes, May 2010.