Archive for Pagan gods

Construction of Monotheistic Belief

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, faith, Hebrew scripture, random, religion, scriptures with tags , , , , on June 15, 2013 by chouck017894

In assessing the background giving rise to one-god-only faith systems it is necessary to consider the Yahweh culture in the small settlement of Jerusalem circa the eighth century BCE. Whereas all Pagan cultures affirmed that all things were made manifest out of a single Source, the gods that they recognized were but personifications of various creative energies which they could observe in the panorama of life around them. Thus the ocean, for example, could be addressed as a god, for its might and power was received and reflected from the Source and therefore it could more directly transmit personal appeals through its interaction with the Source. Any energy-as-matter phenomenon was also theorized to hold this capability, which accounted for a pantheon of gods endowed with various degrees of power. The Pagan’s closeness with nature and the observable universe provided a sense of intimacy with the creative power which is lacking in monotheism.

In the timeframe of the struggling Yahweh cult in the hill country of Canaan, the small region which became Judah was being encroached by powerful forces (Assyria). The wily priests of Yahweh in the little village of Jerusalem had long yearned for broader control over regional happenings, and what they contrived was a psychological management system by which the people could be manipulated by claiming that the ultimate creative power could be approached directly through a system which the priests alone could provide. If the priests could convince the people that the priests possessed a system of exclusive access to the Creative Source, the people would stand defiant against any threatening forces of man.

As noted in Time Frames and Taboo Data (pages 108-110): Jerusalem burst forth in sudden expansion c. 720-717 BCE. The little kingdom of Israel to the north had fallen to the Assyrians two years earlier (722 BCE), and the Assyrian provinces and Assyrian vassals surrounded Judah. Under the steady influx of refugees the village of Jerusalem (the so-called city of David) that had covered no more than ten to twelve acres rapidly mushroomed out of its narrow ridge-site to engulf the entire western hill, growing to one hundred and fifty acres of closely packed residences, workshops, businesses and public buildings.

Jerusalem was not yet regarded as a “holy city”–except perhaps by the priests of Yahweh. There was, in fact, a widespread diversity of worship practiced throughout Judah, and there was a widespread mixing of other gods with that of YHWH inside the Jerusalem Temple complex itself. Archaeology has proven that the claimed golden age of tribal and Davidic fidelity to Yahweh was not a historic reality. Cults of various gods and goddesses were prevalent throughout Judah, with “high places” (referring to hilltops, roofs, etc.) being the popular sites for acts of devotion, which included burning of incense to the sun, moon and the planets (especially to Venus, “Queen of Heaven,” Jeremiah 7:18 and 44:15-25). Furthermore, inscriptions from one archaeological site (Kuntillete Ajrud) in northern Sinai indicate that the goddess Asherah was regarded as the consort of YHWH. The priests in Jerusalem, of course, regarded this as blasphemy.

Despite the biblical accounts (written by priests in Jerusalem), Israel and Judah had never been equally powerful sister kingdoms: the implied early united monarchy claimed as being comparable with Israel was nothing more than priestly falsification. As the kingdom of Israel had battled with Assyria, the priests in Jerusalem were well aware that priests in the northern kingdom had composed a “holy” account of beginnings, and so the Yahweh priests busied themselves in writing a similar account which, of course, featured the Creator as Yahweh. The perspective of the two accounts were quite similar, and as Judah rose in power after the fall of Israel and the temple in Jerusalem became the focus of religious attention, the influx of refugees from the north brought a need to blend the two versions of Creation into one text. The result was somewhat uneven. Thus chapter one and chapter two of Genesis as we now receive it seem to present somewhat different versions in the Creation sequence and in the presentation of Adam and Eve. This is marked enough that biblical scholars speak of the version written by priests in Judah as “J”, which called their god Yahweh: the version incorporated from Israel sources is known as “E”, whose authors referred to the Creator as Elohim.

In the “J” version the priest-authors seemed to be uncertain over whether or not Yahweh was the sole Creator of heaven and earth and man. Vacillating between the “J” and “E” accounts of Creation, the “J” version’s singular God thus suddenly and unexpectedly says,”Let us” create man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). In the second chapter, however, it is declared that God (again singular) carefully formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life… (Genesis 2:7). This cunning verse about man being fashioned from dust effectively blocked any idea that man might share some divine attributes of the Creator as Pagan versions seemed always to accept. This “dust” assertion intentionally invalidated all earlier Pagan versions of Creation which routinely presented primal energy conditions (presented as the Almighty) as essentially active within any and all defined matter forms.

The priest-authors of the “J” version of Creation then purposely sought to bind Creation activity into ordinary time and in this manner fashioned a pseudo-“history” of their “chosen” status. The priests of Yahweh thus brought God (personification of the almighty Creative Principle) down to Earth. In this dimension of energy-as-matter, the Creator-God then allegedly interacted directly with man and participated with his “chosen people’s” national events instead of presiding over universal management from within sacred time–i.e. the pre-creation conditions. For this reason the progression of life development as narrated in Genesis speeds along rapidly until Genesis 12 where Abram is introduced and from whom the “history” of Israel allegedly descended. When the archetype of life form, which is referred to as Abram, takes up mortal life (rather than remaining an energy-archetype), God renamed him Abraham and allegedly told him that he had a special destiny and his descendants would one day possess the land of Canaan. Monotheism, which the Yahweh priests thus introduced, and the alleged promotion of Abraham’s descendants into some “special destiny”, would expand to become permanently etched upon western man’s conscience and set the stage for constant religious conflicts over which one of today’s three interrelated faith systems supposedly holds God’s especial favor.

Christianity, An Urbanized Faith

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, history, nature, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , on June 1, 2010 by chouck017894

Christianity can be said to have been formulated by and for city dwellers.  Rome was certainly Christianity’s nursery, and the great outlying cities of Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus and Alexandria served as its teething rings.  As Roman domination surged after Octavian became sole ruler of the Roman world (as Augustus, 34 BCE), the cultural attractions and economic allure of Rome developed steadily.  Augustus was a patron of the arts, and maintained close friendship with Ovid, Horace, Vergil, and Livy.  The phrase “the Augustan age” became a synonym for this timeframe in which literature and architecture triumphed.  This environment was to influence events that would result in the initiation of a defiant new cult that would evolve into Christianity.  There arose, as a consequence, a subtle urban style about the faith’s character quite unlike the world’s more nature-focused faiths of the peasantry.  This has led some scholars  to assess Christianity’s elaborate atmosphere as the most unnatural religion in the world, for it functions not so much on what one may feel inwardly but upon what one wills.  That, of course, reflects the traits by which the Roman Empire rose to domination.

Christianity, taking root in Rome, could be evaluated as a religion in determined disregard for the natural world, for the alleged supernatural conception of the savior, the miraculous overrule of normal limitations, and the alleged physical resurrection from death have nothing to do with the world in which we live.  That, of course, is the intent, and the tribulations of the natural world are openly scorned in Jesus saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  Somehow that doesn’t ring true if God the Father created this world. 

Nature, “in the likeness” of the power and force that is personified as God, is amoral (neither good nor evil) in its implementation and operation.  Pagan reverence of natural energy involvements as minor gods tended to offer mankind nothing greater than a numb resignation that this life experience is all that one could ever expect.  That didn’t set well in a willful and thriving urban environment that expanded and prospered while extending respect to the belief systems of conquered peoples.  Despite this extended tolerance, the empire found its governance being repeatedly disrupted by the civil disobedience of those of the Jewish faith.  In face of these continuous disruptions which threatened the stability of the empire it seems more than a bit peculiar that it was in this timeframe that God suddenly found it necessary to dispatch his only begotten son to instruct the (Roman) world in the technique of gaining heavenly favor.  In defense of the new Christian cult so influenced by urban abundance and self-alienation from nature, it dared to throw off the sense of resignation and pursue a more joyous prospect of an ultimate payoff.

In city life it was easier to ignore the seeming indifference to the struggle for life that appears to underscore nature.  The religion that arose within the Roman Empire was shaped instead to appeal to human nature’s deepest yearnings for joyous, abundant life.  Christianity was offered much like a divine lotto game: if you picked the right choices, you won; if chose wrongly you gained nothing.  It offered unsupportable promises, sweetly frosted with hope.

Many of the urbane principles that came to define Christianity were polished in the environment of the outlying major cities.  These were then later revamped and stamped as canon in which belief and doctrine and dogma and rites were held to be more important than one’s inward and indefinable life experiences.  Like a map of city streets, these codes were marketed as the best means to arrive at one’s desired destination.  The young faith was blueprinted in an architectural style, an assemblage of parts—not exactly a faith that grew organically or spontaneously.  Devotion to the resultant set of principles was declared to be the only thoroughfare into the willed love of God.  The only thing not provided for was the need for occasional rest stops.