Archive for May, 2014

Betting on God’s Favoritism

Posted in Atheist, belief, Christianity, faith, Hebrew scripture, random, religion, scriptures, theology with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2014 by chouck017894

Gambling, simply defined, is taking a risk in the hope of gaining some advantage; it is an act or undertaking with an uncertain outcome. From a mortal’s point of view, that seems to be the game plan of Creation itself. Conception is a gamble. The first breath of every entity is a gamble. And, to be candid, even one’s personal faith is a gamble, for belief-chips are wagered at the table of life where the dealers may be slipping in cards from the bottom of the deck. That premise is slyly admitted in the rules of the game as promoted in holy texts.

For example, in the scriptural book Numbers (17:8-10) there is given instructions for making twelve rods to be placed upon the altar so God could show which of the twelve tribes of Israel he allegedly favored for priesthood honors. That, of course, is simply a variation of casting lots to determine a question by chance. How the tribe of Levi, as the story has it, wound up with special sacerdotal functions which entitled it to receive material support from all the other tribes sounds more like the result of a priestly con job than godly selection. Suspicion is aroused by the fact that Hebrew Scriptures are not consistent with regard to either the number or the names of Jacob’s sons after whom the tribes were allegedly named.

Chapter 17 of the book of Numbers, written by priest authors, is an account of how the Lord allegedly conveyed his wishes to Moses concerning which of the twelve tribal members he favored to serve as his representatives. This game of chance was set up by Moses after his brother Aaron’s priesthood had been questioned in the rebellion of Korah. Each leader of the twelve tribes were instructed to bring their tribe’s rod–a long, thick piece of wood bearing the tribal identity which symbolized their tribal leader’s authority–and place it in “…the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony…” (verse 4). The godly scheme was that whichever of the twelve rods of supposedly dead wood would blossom would reveal the Lord’s choice for priest. Why the Creator-God could not express his will without intermediators is never addressed. Anyway “…every one of their princes gave him (Moses) a rod apiece…according to their fathers’ houses…and the rod of Aaron was among the rods.” (verse 6)

Well, Surprise! Surprise! It came to pass that Moses’ brother Aaron’s rod won the prize! Verse 9 set the scene: “And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.” These rods which represented a tribal leader’s authority were all handed down and dried out with age, therefore it is a declared “miracle” that one of the rods could bud forth. Verse 10: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels…” Moses had not made any objection to this means of determining God’s will. As far as Moses was concerned the position of high priest was already settled. It was merely coincidence that Aaron’s rod happened to have some life-flowing sap within it. Thus was the priestly lineage divinely bestowed by God upon the descendants of Levi.

According to Deuteronomy (written c. 640 BCE) the priestly status was to be determined through Levi lineage, and this is what supposedly validated a priests’ share of secular goodies. But there has been disagreement whether Levi was originally a secular tribe (Genesis 49:5-7). Indeed, in Numbers (4:1-33) the descendants of Levi’s sons–Gershon, Kohath and Merari–are burdened with strict distinctions of duties which actually barred them from priesthood and the three sons functioned under Aaronic supervision. However, according to Deuteronomy, the contents of which happened to have been “discovered” in the wall of the Temple in Jerusalem being remodeled c. 640 BCE, the Levites are presented as “Judges” (17:8-9), and as custodians of the Torah scroll (17:18). And later in chapter 27:9 the Levites are said to stand with Moses to proclaim a covenant renewal “…this day thou art become the people of the Lord thy God.” In the two books of Chronicles, however, the confusion seems to stem from an attempt to arbitrate and establish a cooperative approach between the Aaronic and Levite tribes.

As noted, the chance of “rods” budding to indicate the Lord’s chosen representatives, is a close relative to the casting of lots to determine some prize. Interestingly the practice of casting lots is referred to seventy-seven times in the Old Testament and pops up seven times in the New Testament. Casting of lots are used in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, 1 Samuel, Esther, Psalms, Proverbs, Daniel and Jonah. In the New Testament lots are referred to in John, Acts and 1 Corithians.

In Christian lore (John 19:24) the soldiers present at the crucifixion of Jesus are depicted as casting lots for his garments. This brings up the curious fact that it is from the Greek word kleros, which means “lots,” or more correctly that which is assigned by lot (gambling) that we received our word for those who are ordained for “religious service”–the clergy. (Some dictionaries trace the word clergy only to Middle English, from Old French influence clerge, meaning a body of clerks; but this is not the real source.) The word clergyman is advertised and promoted to mean those who are authorized to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances. But looking at the Greek origin of the word, what is admitted is that these persons are ordained, in a sense, as gambling men! In the word clergy, from the Greek kleros, to gamble by lots, we can see why organized by-the-book faith systems, acting as pulpit casinos, have so often missed their declared spiritual purpose.

One of the disguised gambling angles in spiritual showmanship is the tenet of “free will“, the supposition that the constant choices which each individual faces daily are voluntary and are not determined by any external causes. This is something of a slight-of-hand manipulation which disguises that everything in life is a gamble. The ironic part of this clergy-style inference of free will is that the clergy then abruptly performs a U-turn and says that free will must be abandoned if we are to serve god’s higher purpose: and that abandonment of personal will must be channeled into submission to whatever they, the clergy, willfully choose to sermonize about. The resultant spiritual advice which they so liberally distribute too often implants in the faithful only a feeling of self-chastisement. We are left to wonder, are these imposed odds of the spiritual game in the seekers favor or are the odds in favor of the house?

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Mythic Creatures in Holy Scriptures

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, Hebrew scripture, random, religion, scriptures with tags , , , , , on May 1, 2014 by chouck017894

The key to any institutional faith system’s functional success rests in the manufactured illusion that it is the lone faith system which represents an out-of-this-world power. To accomplish this impression there has to be put in place some worldly illustration of authority which they may point to as their certificate for representing that power. An imposed sense of wonderment can be inspiring, but spiritual inspiration is not being well served when rationality is crucified upon a rickety cross of myth. A case in point is the inclusion of grotesque monsters in the “holy” texts which are held up as divine truth. In the main, the Old Testament inclusion of mythic creatures essentially meant only to symbolize the violent primordial elements with which the imagined Creator had to contend. Once it is understood that those imagined monstrous creatures served as metaphors for primal creative energies, the references then carry surprising scientific insight. We will briefly examine here the better known fictional beasts which have long inhabited “holy” scripture.

Leviathan
The word Leviathan (from Hebrew libhyathan) is a compound word taken from two words, and is interpreted in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament) to mean “drakon” (dragon), and “ketos” (a whale). However, it is most commonly said to be derived from words meaning “a great fish” and “fastened” (as together), and thus imagined to be a huge fish-like animal that was covered with armor-like scales and possessed monstrous tusks. In other words, Leviathan was a mythological monster. By the descriptions given in the book of Job, it is widely accepted that the beast was modeled on the crocodile which is found only in tropical regions and so not known by experience to the priest-authors in 8th century BCE Jerusalem. Some of the monster’s features do suggest a crocodile, but other elements, such as breathing fire, are clearly mythological. For this reason Leviathan was sometimes linked with another mythic monster known as Behemoth (explained below). Leviathan can be traced back to Ugarit texts in which the monster was known as Lothan, and describe as “…a crooked serpent, the mighty one with seven heads.” We should remember that many-headed beasts were a feature throughout many ancient cultures such as Egypt, Greece, Roman, etc. For example, this imagery was a feature of the Greek myth in which the many-headed dog Cerberus guarded the portal of the infernal region. And this many-headed imagery was drawn upon in the New Testament book of Revelation 13:1 and 17:7-8. etc.

In the book of Job 3:8, Leviathan is identified with the sea, which is allegorical reference to the primordial sea, which is to say the primordial energies of Creation. Thus in Psalms, passed off as the work of David, it is said in priest-style lingo, “…thou breakest the (7) heads of Leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.” The allusion of seven heads metaphorically refers to those seven primal energy conditions which involve and evolve into matter form as once taught in ancient cosmological lessons. The “wilderness”, as always, refers to those same primal energy conditions through which units of primal energy must pass to manifest in matter form. Thus the “people” being given “meat” refers to those energy units which are energized to manifest as matter forms. Keep in mind the Genesis account of Creation, the book of beginnings: the word “wilderness” always signified the pre-physical energy planes out of which matter is made manifest. This is openly confirmed in Psalms 74:14, which alludes to God defeating Leviathan as a prelude to Creation.

This is rich story material, and thus Leviathan was presented by various priest-authors as destined to be involved with the final battle–or the End Times of apocalyptic literature. This, however, completely reverses Leviathan’s representation which Pagan cultures understood to characterize the violent primal energies out of which Creation occurred. As an example, in Isaiah 27:1 it says that Leviathan is to be defeated once and for all in the End Times, and that “prophecy” was enthusiastically latched onto in the New Testament book of Revelation 12:3, 17:1-4, 19:20, and 21:1. In that version the Leviathan image is cast as the Great Dragon with seven heads. This was a deliberate misinterpretation of more scientific lessons once given in antiquity which were given with the northern circumpolar constellation Draco as illustration. Elsewhere, in the book of Job, however, Leviathan was intentionally misrepresented and said to be fully under God’s control and something of a pet! The “end” which is alluded to in Isaiah is NOT in regard to this material world; the pre-Bible reference was in regard to reaching the end of the pre-physical conditions out of which the material world evolved. So it meant to signify the end of what may be termed the Edenic world, the prototypal world of Adam and Eve, not a prophecy that our immediate world is about to be phased out. It is an allusion which should be understood as referring only to the end of a creative eon.

Behemoth
Another mythic creature, known as Behemoth, is often interactive with and confused with Leviathan. According to the book of Job 40:15-24, the first of God’s creations was an animal of enormous strength which lived in the river valleys. We should be aware that the book of Job was plagiarized from a Babylonian source. The creature that is referred to as Behemoth is a metaphor for primordial chaos, and mythologized as a primeval monster out of which Creation evolved. The priests of Yahweh writing in 8th century BCE Jerusalem possibly modeled the physical description of their monster on verbal accounts of the African hippopotamus, and their fictional details of the creature’s physiology have no likeness to any known animal species.

Behemoth, like Leviathan, had its origin in the Babylonian myths of Creation. In the original version the roaring waters (primal energies) of the Deep (quantum Source) was presided over by their queen Tehom. By the queen’s command the primordial waters arose to threatened God’s handiwork of Creation. The Babylonian Tehom in the plural is Tehomot. This may get confusing, but an ally of Tehom was named Bohu, a land monster, and the plural of Bohu is Behomot, which was altered by the Yahweh priests and cast in the book of Job as a male monster known as Behemoth. From this same Babylonian creation myth the priests of Yahweh writing in the book of Genesis 1:2 misinterpreted Tobu and Bohu as meaning “without form and void.” Thus in the Hebrew version of Creation Tobu and Bohu were interpreted as the energy-substance of Earth. And the darkness which was said to have prevailed and blanketed the primordial conditions was the Hebrew version of the Babylonian darkness which covered the surface of the Tehom. In the Babylonian version, God responded to that darkness with fury, hurling hail, lightning and universe-shaking thunder, which caused Tehom to tremble and withdraw her forces.

Rahab
Another but lesser known Babylonian creature was Rahab, meaning “haughtiness”, a sea monster who was characterized as contributing to the chaos of Creation in Babylonian, Ugarit and Canaanite cosmogonies in which the Creator was known as El, Marduk, Baal, or Jehovah. In each of those holy presentations the Creator had to struggle against the boundless quantum energies to initiate some control and order. The Babylonian sea monster, Rahab, slithered its way into Hebrew pre-scriptural accounts and was designated as Prince of the Sea–we might say the administrator over the primal sea (energies). In the timelessness before Creation, as told in one of the early Hebrew pre-scriptural tales, when Yahweh wanted to drown all life on Earth he commanded Rahab, “Open your mouth, Prince of the Sea, and swallow all the world’s waters.” Rahab was not enthusiastic and grumbled, “Lord of the Universe, leave me in peace.” Apparently in that hectic pre-space/time the Almighty had not yet personally perfected any emotions of compassion or love, for he responded by kicking Rahab to death and sinking the carcass beneath the sea. In the 8th century BCE priest-revised version, this violence and insensitivity within the raw power at the Source was smoothed over. However, the God of the opening verse of Genesis is still depicted metaphorically as tearing apart the waters of Creation into opposing energy poles—an inference of sexual action with the upper waters hovering male-like over the submissive feminine lower waters.

Curiously, in later priest composed “history” the name Rahab, once linked with Creation activity in Babylonian myth, was craftily borrowed for the coded story of Joshua in 1 Kings. In that tale the name Rahab was borrowed and characterized as a harlot who lived in the defensive walls surrounding Jericho, and portrayed as having aided the attacking Israelites. (Remember, the Israelite themselves represent the primordial elements of Creation.) Cast as a “harlot” the character thus openly suggests the free availability of primal elements. In Joshua’s alleged capture of Jericho, the “city” symbolizes the pass over of energy into matter, thus the “walls” fall down. With this we should not be surprised that according to archaeology digs it has been revealed that in the 14th century BCE calculated for Joshua’s alleged destruction of Jericho, that location had had no defensive walls and any settlement there was already in ruins–possibly from planetary disturbances.

related post, Unicorns and Satyrs in Scripture? August 2009