Background on the Website's Author:
Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre
Master of Arts in Education (Social Sciences)
16 Dec. 2001
Revisions & Updates through 07 November 2010
Please click here for this website's most important article: Why the Bible Cannot be the Word of God.
Please click here for _my map_ showing the location of the Garden of Eden based on my research. For Christians visiting this website _my most important article_ is How the Holy Spirit is viewed differently by the Hebrew Prophets versus the Christian understanding. Please click here. Evaluating Internet Research Sources by Robert Harris _ought to be read_ by everyone, Please click here.
It may help the reader to know somewhat of my background. Where I am coming from and why, which may help in understanding the articles posted on this site.
I titled this site "Bible Origins" because my PRIMARY INTEREST is in determining from an Anthropological viewpoint the Ancient Near Eastern motifs and concepts that existed BEFORE the Hebrews came into being and FROM WHICH they formed their beliefs about God and Man's relationship to him AND HOW THEY TRANSFORMED THESE CONCEPTS. If I had to choose "one word" to understand the origins of many Hebrew concepts it would have to be the word _INVERSION_. I understand that most, but not all, of the Hebraic concepts regarding the relationship between man and God are INVERSIONS of Mesopotamian concepts. That is to say they INVERT or REVERSE these earlier concepts by 180 degrees, standing them upside down and on their ear.
Campbell noted that the Hebrews, apparently _employing inversions_, are reversing or inverting motifs by _180 degrees_ borrowed from the earlier Mesopotamian culture. He notes that Abraham through Jacob are portrayed as wandering shepherds, _not_ settled urbanites, planting orchards and harvesting the fruit. He suggests the Hebrew shepherds wanting to magnify themselves, took earlier Mesopotamian themes praising city life and applied these motifs to themselves, portraying the urban life as depraved and not in God's favor (After the expulsion from the Garden of Eden Cain the agriculturalist and murderer appears and builds the world's first city). Campbell may be right. This would explain how a Mesopotamian city garden which man is created to toil in, relieving the Igigi gods, becomes a lush garden planted by a God before man's creation (Adam) in the midst of a wilderness called Eden. The uncultivated desert or steppe land in which wandered wild animals and shepherds was called in Sumerian edin. That is to say, the Hebrews may have reversed or inverted the Mesopotamian "creation of man" myths. Instead of man being created to work in a city garden, he is placed in God's garden in the midst of a wilderness called Eden (edin?). Campbell also notes the motif of man TILLING the city gardens of Sumer and Adam's TILLING the Garden in Eden (emphasis mine):
"No one familiar with the mythologies of the primitive, ancient, and Oriental worlds can turn to the Bible without recognizing COUNTERPARTS on every page, TRANSFORMED, however, TO RENDER AN ARGUMENT CONTRARY TO THE OLDER FAITHS. (p. 9. "The Serpent's Bride." Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. Arkana. New York. Viking Penguin Books. 1964, 1991 reprint)
"The ultimate source of the biblical Eden, therefore, cannot have been a mythology of the desert -that is to say, a primitive Hebrew myth- but was the old planting mythology of the peoples of the soil. HOWEVER, IN THE BIBLICAL RETELLING, ITS WHOLE ARGUMENT HAS BEEN TURNED, SO TO SAY, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DEGREES...One milllennium later, the patriarchal desert nomads arrived, and all judgements WERE REVERSED in heaven, as on earth." (pp.103, 105-106. "Gods and Heroes of the Levant." Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. Arkana. A Division of Penguin Books. 1964. 1991 reprint)
Campbell on the Hebrews "inverting" of earlier myths (Emphasis mine):
"The first point that emerges from this contrast, and will be demonstrated further in numerous mythic scenes to come, is that in the context of the patriarchy of the Iron Age Hebrews of the first millennium B.C., THE MYTHOLOGY ADOPTED FROM THE EARLIER NEOLITHIC AND BRONZE AGE CIVILIZATIONS of the lands they occupied and for a time ruled BECAME INVERTED, TO RENDER AN ARGUMENT JUST THE OPPOSITE TO THAT OF ITS ORIGIN." (p. 17. "The Serpent's Bride." Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. New York. Arkana & Viking Penguin. 1964. Reprinted 1991)
It is my understanding that Genesis’ Garden of Eden motifs and protagonists, God, the Cherubim, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent are recastings involving the frequent use of "INVERSIONS OR REVERSALS" of themes involving characters and events occurring in earlier Mesopotamian myths and compositions. In some cases several characters and motifs from different myths have been fused together into one individual and recast in Genesis’ stories.
As regards an Anthropological viewpoint- Anthropologists are interested in studying cultures, Primitive and Advanced/Modern to understand the mechanisms behind their existence. Using this view, Israel's beliefs are understood to have evolved over time, from cultures which preceeded it and which were contemporary. The bible describes Israel's "great sin" as having not obeyed God, for which she was sent into Exile. She did not "ethnically cleanse" the land of Canaan as directed, slaughtering all its inhabitants, but instead she dwelt amongst the Canaanites, married them and worshipped their gods (cf. Judges 3:5-8 for an excellent succinct summary). Viewed from an Anthropological viewpoint, Israel's "Great Sin" was ACCULTURATION or Assimiliation to Canaanite ways. Anthropologists understand that Acculturation and Assimilation are "ever-present" in ALL societies, despite those societies attempts to have a "Closed Society" to protect the "ways of the ancestors." Acculturation ALWAYS wins. The Mongols conquered China, but in the end the superior civilization ACCULTURATED them, "the Conqueror became the Conquered," just the same happened to Israel, she conquered Canaan, but sophisticated, urbane Canaan "acculturated" Israel! The bible describes the patriarchs as "wandering Arameans," (De 26:5), but by the days of Hezekiah, Israel/Judah had forgotten her "native" tongue, Aramaic (2 Ki 18:26-28), that is, the great-great-grandsons and daughters of the intermarriages of Canaanites and Israelites (Judges 3:5-7) had adopted the Canaanite tongue (Isa 19:18), ACCULTURATION had triumphed over Israel, she had failed to maintain a closed society!
I present myself as "an amateur bible scholar," not having ANY formal education in Bible studies beyond a general Intro to "History of Western Civilization 101" in college. What I know is ALL "self-taught."
My "teachers" are the authors of the books which I cite in my various articles and "Reccomended Books" page in the Bibliography Menu.
Born 1943 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I was raised a non-denominational Protestant.
About 1970 I began a "personal quest" to discover if the Bible was "truly" the word of God or not. I had heard of scholars who claimed it wasn't and wanted to understand upon what basis they held their views. At the time, I thought the Bible was God's word. My studies eventually caused me to realize that the findings of archaeology challenged Holy Writ's presentation of Israel's early history. Archaeology revealed the story of the Exodus and Conquest of Canaan by Joshua were not supported. Upon this realization I became a "Humanist."
This website was created to share my findings in hopes that my research may be of some help to my fellow man. I realize that there are many different approaches to the understanding of the Scriptures, Confessional and Secular-Humanist.
As a former educator or "retired" teacher I found myself identifying with another educator's "mission statement" as regards one of the reasons for the creation of this website:
"Apply your mind to at least one problem which has never been solved, which in general is considered impossible of solution, but which, being solved, would help humanity. Do with your life something that has never been done, but which you feel needs doing." (p. 11. Harvey H. Nininger. Find A Falling Star. New York. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc. 1972)
"Do something that needs doing", I had often told my students, pointing out the yawning breaches in man's knowledge of Zoology, Botany, Bacteriology...I felt that I had found a new field, where I could both widen the vision of many persons and at the same time contribute to the sum total of human knowledge." (p. 41. Nininger)
Note: Nininger dedicated his life to increasing man's knowledge of meteorites and showing others how to identify them and report them to scientists. He argued meteorites were really not all that scarce, they must be everywhere, all over the earth's surface, it was mankinds' general inability to distinguish a meteorite from a rock that made meteorites appear to be "rare." He showed his audiences what to look for and let them handle meteorites in their various forms. His efforts paid off and many additional meteorites were identified by the common people, primarily ranchers and farmers, people who worked the land (and even children), thereby increasing Science's knowledge and collections.
Education of Walter R. Mattfeld:
Master of Arts in Education, Major in Social Sciences. California Polytechnic State College, San Luis Obispo, (presently, a State University), 1968.
Bachelor of Science, Major in Social Sciences, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, 1966.
Associate of Arts Degree, Allan Hancock Junior College, Santa Maria, California, 1963.
Occupation: Teacher of Social Studies and Art grades 6-7-8, of pupils aged 11-14 yrs. As a former 7th grade Geography teacher I have an interest in site identifications and illustrating my articles with maps. As a former teacher of Art, I have an interest in providing illustrations and pictures to accompany my articles on the Origins of the Bible. I agree with the truism that "One picture is worth a thousand words" and that includes maps as well!
Citizenship: United States of America
As of 30 June 2002 I have relocated back to the United States, having "retired" from Federal employ of some 30 years in the United States Department of Defense Overseas Schools.
If I were to be asked what I regarded to be my most important article regarding "_new insights_" on old problems "bedeviling biblical scholars" it would have to be my article on the "Pre-biblical origins of the Hebrew Sabbath." I have concluded that the Hebrews via an _INVERSION OR REVERSAL_, took the 6 days of the destruction of the earth and a noisey mankind by wrathful Mesopotamian gods, so that they could rest on the 7th day, and transformed this motif into a God creating in 6 days an earth for man, who was his beloved pinnacle of creation, and then His resting on the 7th day.
The "reason" for my 30+ years of research on the Bible (ca. 1970-2007) was to determine for myself if the Bible was really "true or not." While I have concluded that the archaeological evidence _supports_ in some cases certain events in the Bible, I find that it also _contradicts_ in some cases others. I realize that even if one could archaeologically "prove" that an Exodus really occured does NOT "prove" the Bible to be God's Word.
The "ONE" area of bible research for me that _conclusively proves_ that the Bible cannot be God's word is the subject of "Failed Prophecy," of which I have several articles on my OT Menu and NT Menu pages. I came to realize that God in the Old Testament had told his people NOT to believe a prophet until a sign was accomplished, i.e., the prophecy's being fulfilled (De 18:20-22). This statement caused me to realize that the commonly encountered Christian or Jewish apologetic that the unfulfilled prophecies were intended for another age hundreds or thousands of years into the future was bogus. God's admonishment to his people clearly revealed that the audience hearing the prophecy was NOT to believe the prophet UNTIL it was fulfiled, its unfulfillment in their lifetimes revealing a false prophet had spoken. I therefore had to reject the notion that God would deliberately "con" his own people by sending prophecies to them that He had NEVER INTENDED to be fulfilled in their lifetimes because he intended their fulfillment for a later age, an age after the lifetimes of the hearing audience.
An "unexpected" surprise for me, as a former Christian, and now Secular Humanist, was that Christianity had _falsely accused_ the Jews of not properly understanding their own sacred scriptures, the "Old Testament." I discovered that the Jews did indeed correctly understand their holy writings. The "error" was Christianity's _misreading_ of certain verses in the OT, said readings almost always taking the verse out of its historical context. I eventually came to realize Christianity was _an amalgam_ of Hellenistic Greek metaphysical concepts and Hebrew motifs (That is to say Christianity is a Hellenized form of Judaism). Just as Christianity defined itself via "_INVERSIONS_" of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, I discovered that much earlier the Hebrews had in turn defined themselves by "_INVERSIONS_" of the Mesopotamian myths. Still later Islam would arise and define itself with "_INVERSIONS_" of the Jewish and Christian concepts and motifs.
Another "surpise" was that my articles would come to be read by Jews, Christians, Moslems, and professional scholars affiliated with famous institutions and seminaries from all over the world. Being an "amateur" scholar, I had thought originally that my research would be of interest _only to fellow amateurs_ with Secular Humanist leanings.
Another "surprise" was to discover that some of my articles have made it to the much coveted "page one" of several different internet search engines which present a viewer with the first ten urls on the subject he is seeking information on.
I am not so foolish as to believe that just because one gets to page one that one has a "lock" on the Truth; this is only an indicator of fickle "popularity" or "interest." I am also well aware that just because one reads an article does not mean that they will come away "convinced" of my reasoning and arguments. Just as I pick and choose what to believe, so it must be for you too dear reader.
I still offer a daily prayer of thanks for each day that I am allowed to dwell upon this wonderous earth. While I do not understand the Bible to be God's word, but only an attempt of the Hebrews to understand the creation and its creator, I do not believe that a mindless, random, accidental evolution has all the answers to the universe's creation. So "I believe", but cannot prove, that behind the creation is a creator intelligence or force. That this force is in the form of man, I doubt. As one ancient Greek wit once put it, "If horses could talk, they would tell you God looks like them." I see all religions as speculations by man to understand the creation and its creator.
Of late (23 September 2006) I have, upon further reflection, come to realize their is _no caring_ Creator God. What has changed my mind? Several Medical shows on TV showing "freaks of nature," both human and animal. These freaks confirm for me that a caring God ought not to allow this to happen, but a mindless random "mutating" evolution explains this phenomena quite well.
Christianity, a Religion built upon Flawed Methodologies?
Two hundred years ago Thomas Paine (1737- 1809 ) in his work titled The Age of Reason noted that the very basis upon which Christainity was erected, was that of "flawed methodologies," the taking of alleged Old Testament prophecies and claiming that they referred to Christ who was born some 700 to 500 years after they had been uttered by the Hebrew prophets.
He noted that for the most part these "spurious" prophecies had been created by Christians by resorting to the "lifting" of verses or statements _out of their orginal contexts_ and then claiming they "prefigured" the birth of Christ and his mission. As any scholar worth his salt knows, the lifting of a statement from its original historical context allows it to be misinterpreted, CONTEXT IS ALL IMPORTANT in understanding properly a verse or statement. When Paine restored the "lifted" or "excised" statement to its historical context, the verses or paragraphs preceeding and following it, he realized that it had nothing to do at all in "prefiguring" Christ and his mission. The verse or statement was dealing with a current event or an event only days, months or a few years away at most, which would soon transpire.
"Everything in the Old Testament is perverted and distorted into meanings never intended by the writers. The practice which the writers of the books employ is not more false than it is absurd. They state some trifling case of the person they call Jesus Christ, and then cut out a sentence from some passage of the OT and call it a prophecy of that case. But when the words thus cut out are restored to the places they are taken from, and read with the words before and after them, they give the lie to the New Testament."
Paine also noted another "flawed" Christian methodology, the claim that the Prophets had foretold events hundreds of years into the future, which related to Christ. He ably demonstrated that the prophecies of the Old Testament were intended ONLY for the immediate audience and to be fulfilled within a short space of time, a few days, months or years, NOT hundreds of years or thousands of years into the future as claimed by Christian exegeis. My own research supports him. God in the Bible told His people _how to detect_ a false prophet. If that prophet's prophecy comes true, God has accomplished it . If it does NOT come to pass, its a false prophet. Quite clearly this warning, allegedly from God, envisioned the prophecy's fulfilment to occur _within the lifetime of the audience_ and NOT hundreds or thousands of years after their death, for how could they know if a prophet was false or not if God intended to fulfil it centuries or millennia AFTER their deaths?
Deut 18:20-22, RSV,
"But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not
commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same
prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, 'How may we know the word
which the Lord has not spoken?'- when a prophet speaks in the name of the
Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which
the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need
not be afraid of him."
I concluded that God would not "CON" his own people telling them NOT to believe UNTIL a sign appeared, the prophecy's fulfillment. Christian exegeis of course, denies that prophecies are failed, they are merely intended to be fulfilled by God at some future date, hundreds or thousands of year into the future, in our own days. This Christian "rationalization" however _makes a mockery of_ God's warning to his people that they are NOT to believe a prophet UNTIL the sign is accomplished, the fulfillment of the prophecy.
Judaism, a Religion Built on Flawed Methodologies?
As noted above, God had allegedly told his people in the Hebrew Bible how to detect a false prophet. They were told NOT TO BELIEVE UNTIL the sign had been accomplished, that is to say, the prophecy had been fulfilled. From my research I was able to establish that many if not most of the prophecies in the Hebrew Bible were failed prophecies, they were not fulfilled in the days of the audience hearing them nor have they been fufilled in our own day, the 21st century. I studied Jewish and Christian "apologetics" which claimed certain prophecies had been fulfilled, but when I studied the prophecies for my self I came to realize that the "fine details" embedded within them laying out "how" God would accomplish the prophecy, that the event did not happen at all _in the manner_ predicted.
I asked myself, how could people believe in a God that does NOT keep his word, and who refuses to VINDICATE his prophets down to the last jot and tittle of the prophecy? Why would he lie to his people, telling them NOT TO BELIEVE _until_ the prophecy was fulfilled while all the time he "secretly" intended to fulfill it hundreds or thousands of years _after_ their deaths? I found myself having to reject the Bible as God's holy word. His prophets, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others had ALL issued false prophecies, that were NEVER fulfilled.
I wondered to myself how is it that millions of people in Judaism and Christianity have been able to believe that the Bible is "really God's word" when He has NOT vindicated His prophet's prophecies? It finally "dawned on me," what was going on: "the keepers of the faith," Rabbis and Christian priests, were "turning a blind eye" to the failed prophecies and _excusing them_ as intended for centuries or millennia into the future. The problem however, was that this "rationalization" MOCKED God's warning to his people, that they were NOT to beleive a prophet UNTIL the prophecy was accomplished. So, Judaism and Christianity BOTH EMPLOY FLAWED METHODOLOGIES in order to perpetuate themselves. Their congregations too turn a "blind eye" to the failed prophecies, accepting the "rationalization" that God at some future date will fulfill the unfulfilled prophecies.
Please click on the following articles on Failed Prophecies and Flawed Methodologies employed by both Judaism and Christianity to perpetuate themselves:
It has finally dawned on me "why" people continue in a system of belief despite that system's so-called prophets have made 'false' or failed prophecies, apparently strong ties have been forged of fellowship and a "sense of belonging" that are so powerful one is reluctant to break these ties so one "abides" within the system instead of leaving it. One then contents ones' self that maybe the prophecy will be fulfilled in just a few years more time, as announced by the false prophet or leadership. There is a sense of comfort in staying with the known and discomfort or anxiety if one leaves the group to enter the great unknown in one's quest for "the Truth."
I was once naive enough to think that my articles exposing the failed prophecies of the Bible as revealing that the prophets, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc., were ALL FALSE PROPHETS would CONVINCE peope (Christians and Jews) of the ERROR or their ways, that ALL of the Bible's prophets were False Prophets, ergo the Bible could not be God's holy word. But _NOW_ I realize that people are NOT going to give up "their cherished beliefs," for they find "comfort" in them, a "fellowship", a "networking" of friends and family, and MOST do NOT see ANY comfort in disavowing and exiting a religious establishment leaving all these cherished contacts behind "in a search for _The Truth_".
Cf. the below article on religious groups ability to recover _repeatedly_ from a long history of failed prophecies, they having"rationalized away" the failed prophecies, grew even stronger, and continued believing.
Thomas Paine really "hit the nail on the head" in his perceptive observation that _all_ religions are based on _alleged_ "revelations" from a god to a man.
He points out the "danger" in accepting anyone's word that they have had a "revelation" from God. In order to accept the Old and New Testaments as true, the believer must first accept as true the alleged revelations from God to Moses, Abraham, the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles.
Paine rightly notes that the big problem in accepting a "revelation claim" is that it is pretty much _unverifiable_. One does not know if the person claiming a revelation from God is a con-artist, fraud, idiot, or suffering from delusions, or self-deceived. What one dreams and claims to be a revelation are just as untrustworthy for all the above reasons.
A French savant of Paine's era wittingly noted that "The first rogue claimed God had spoken to him, and the first fool believed him," and that this concept was the foundation of all religions.
As noted earlier, above, the Old Testament does acknowledge the existence of false prophets and gives some good advice on how to detect them. Wait for a sign, the prophecy's fulfillment. If it is accomplished God did it. However, if that prophet then teaches one NOT to observe God's commandments and statutes, he is not to be followed, God is testing his people to see if they will really be true to him. For he says, "If you love me you will obey my commandments and statues." The Jews _had no other choice but to reject Christianity_ for it teaches that God's commandments and statutes (as well as holy days, feasts, dietary laws, etc.) are not to be obeyed, as Christ's death ended the power of the Torah (Law) over man.
I have also noted the failure of many of the prophecies made by Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Christ, which were NOT fulfilled in the lifetime of the hearing audience or even to this day.
"Revelation then, so far as the term has relation between God and man, can only be applied to something which God reveals of his will to man. But though the power of the Almighty to make such a communication is necessarily admited, because to that power all things are possible, yet the thing so revealed, (if any thing ever was revealed, and which, by the bye, it is impossible to prove) is revelation to the person only to whom it is made. His account of it to another is not revelation; and whoever puts faith in that account, puts it in the man from whom the account comes; and that man may have been deceived, or may have dreamed it, or he may be an impostor and may lie. There is no possible criterion whereby to judge of the truth of what he tells; for even the morality of it would be no proof of revelation. In all such cases, the proper answer would be, "When it is revealed to me, I will believe it to be revelation, but it is not and cannot be incumbent upon me to believe it to be revelation before; neither is it proper that I should take the word of man as the word of God, and put man in the place of God.
This is the manner in which I have spoken of revelation in the former part of the Age of Reason; and which, whilst it reverentially admits revelation as a possible thing, because, (as before said) to the Almighty all things are possible, it prevents the imposition of one man upon another, and precludes the wicked use of pretended revelation.
But though, speaking for myself, I thus admit the possibility of revelation, I totally disbelieve that the Almighty ever did communicate any thing to man by any mode of speech in any language, or by any kind of vision or appearance, or by any means which our senses are capable of receiving; otherwise than by the universal display of himself in the works of the creation, and by that repugnance we feel in ourselves to bad actions, and disposition to good ones." (p. 820. Thomas Paine. "The Age of Reason, Part Two." Thomas Paine, Collected Writings: Common Sense, The Crisis and Other Pamphlets, Articles and Letters; Rights of Man; The Age of Reason. New York. Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. 1995. ISBN 1-883011-03-5)
I find myself in complete agreement with Paine!
Apparently Judaism, Christianity and Islam are constructed upon two very important "pillars": 1) a belief in "revelation", as noted above by Paine and 2) "answered prayer." Ask _any_ Christian, Jew, or Moslem how they can be so sure their's is the _one_ "true faith" and they will invariably respond that their God has answered their prayers. The problem? Because _all_ religions invoke "answered prayer" as confirming for the faithful the "correctness" of their religion it is really NOT useful in determing the _one_ "true" faith (if such exists).
Does the Bible offer a guide to determining the _one_ "true" faith? Yes, it does. The claim is advanced by the Hebrew Bible that _only_ Yahweh's prophets have their prophecies fulfilled, all other faiths are under the power of "false prophets" whose prognostications are unfulfilled. So, the Bible invokes "fulfilled prophecy" as a "sign" from God to lead the open and inquiring mind to the _one_ "true" God. However, as I have noted above, my investigations into the Bible's prophets and their prophecies revealed that many if not all were failed prophecies, not fulfilled in the lifetimes of the audience hearing the prognostication for the future. So, by the Bible's _own_ "yardstick" of determining which faith is the _one_ "true" faith, -fulfilled prophecy- the Bible's prophets failed the test.
Callahan's recently released book titled Secret Origins of the Bible (2002) notes in its concluding chapter that the so-called "secrets" are really not secrets at all. He explains (emphasis mine):
"Anyone reading this book who has even an amateur background in comparitive mythology might well look at the title and ask, "So where are the secrets?" In fact, what I have revealed is for the most part known not only by Bible scholars but by many well-read lay persons as well. Yet many intelligent and otherwise well informed readers will find much of the material new and quite startling. IN ALL PROBABILITY THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION IS PROFOUNDLY IGNORANT OF THE _MYTHIC ORIGINS_ OF MUCH OF THE BIBLICAL MATERIAL. And therein lies the problem. Much of what is known is not communicated. I doubt this is intentional. Yet, just as in science, so it is with the Bible: increasingly our culture divides between the few who know and the many who do not." (p. 248. "Dark Secrets in the Light of Day." Tim Callahan. Secret Origins of the Bible. Altadena, California. Millennium Press. 2002. ISBN 0-9655047-8-6 paperback)
Shermer on Callahan's book:
"There is a vast disconnect between the public's belief that the Bible is a divinely-produced original work of religious literature, and the scholar's knowledge that all of the major stories in the Bible have historical antecedents and can be traced to very non-divinely produced works by other cultures in earlier times. The Bible may contain 'the greatest story ever told,' but as Tim Callahan so brilliantly reveals the greatest secret of all is that the story is not original." (Michael Shermer [back cover endorsement of Callahan's book])
For my part, I think Callahan and Shermer are too "generous" in their observations. My experience has been that the general public DOES NOT WANT TO KNOW or be told their religious beliefs are based on "reworked" Mesopotamian creation myths. Shermer and Callahan also fail to seriously address the "refutations" assembled by "defenders of the faith," Christian, Jewish and Moslem, who come up with _counter arguments_, explaining why those who think that Mesopotamian myths are being reworked are in error.
"Ideally" one ought to suspend judgement and investigate for oneself the pros and cons and then decide which has the better argument, faith or reason. The "reality" however, is that the vast majority of people simply don't have the time or energy to explore all the arguments pro and con on whether or not Mesopotamian myths underlie their religion's teachings of man's relationship to God. They will, _understandably_, "tend to side" with arguments advanced by the defenders' of their beliefs rather than the detractors. They certainly will NOT be encouraged by their Rabbis, Pastors or Mullahs to "think for themsleves" and investigate the claims of the detractors of their faith. These detractors are often characterized as being "the enemy," the infidel (meaning: "non-believer"), who "dwell in error" and who will lead the faithful "into error" too. As a result, in my humble opinion, I doubt "the many" will leave the comfort of their faith and dare to explore for themselves who really has "the correct understanding of what the truth is."
There is yet another reason why many are "reluctant" to question or investigate their faith: _FEAR_. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are TERRORIST RELIGIONS. Their growth and power is based on the employment of fear and terror and any who do not subscribe to their beliefs are subject to being persecuted, ostracized and held up to public ridicule, contempt, and disapproval (400 years ago dissidents were burned alive at the stake as heretics). It is a very "rare" soul that dares to standup to persecution from the population at large that he/she lives amongst (How many avowed atheists and gays have been elected to the American Congress?).
Callahan made a very perceptive comment about the myths regarding man's creation and his relationship with the gods; he noted that in these myths man sought an explanation for _why_ "the world is what it is?" Why death, disease, strife, murder, lying, jealousy, lust, covetness, greed, and selfishness? For the Mesopotamians the answer was that man "was the way he is" because he was made in the image of the gods who themselves possess ALL these unflattering qualities. The created can not be any better than his creator. Of course, from a modern Anthropological point of view (which I embrace), the gods are "projections" of man's fears, loves, hates and weaknesses on to imaginary invisible beings. Yahweh-Elohim possesses many of the traits of humans, GOOD and BAD, he loves, forgives, regrets, shows mercy, is angered, lies, gets jealous, is forgetful, sleeps, has to consume food and drink, wears clothes, dwells in a house, has a chair (throne) to sit on, gets angry and wrathful, vacillates, and contradicts himself -just what one would "expect" of a god made in man's image.
"Implicit in all these stories are a number of assumptions about the world...the gods are not always kindly disposed toward the human race...they are jealous or fearful of them, witholding...wisdom and eternal life...ancient peoples were provided with a wry sense of why the world was less than perfect -those who made and ran it were themselves flawed." (p. 429)
Kamer on the Sumerian notion that the god Enki (in Eridu) made man in "the image of the gods" (delegating the task to others):
"Enki gives the matter thought, leads forth the host of "good and princely fashioners,: and says to his mother, Nammu, the primeval sea:
"O my mother, the creature whose name you uttered, it exists,
Bind upon it the image (?) of the gods;
Mix the heart of the clay that is over the abyss,
The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay,
You, do you bring the limbs into existence;
Ninmah (the earth-mother goddess) will work above you,
The goddess (of birth)...will stand by you at your
O my mother, decree its (the newborn's) fate,
Ninmah will bind upon it the image (?) of the gods,
It is man..."
(p. 109. "The First Moral Ideals." Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins At Sumer: Twenty-seven "Firsts In Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959 reprint of 1956 edition by Falcon's Wing Press)
The below e-mail sent to an individual explains my "worldview":
02 May 2005
For me man is a "beast," a very clever animal. Like all animals, he _is_ "motivated by FEAR." Your "quest" to create a new goddess religion ("Ishtar"), I regard as a "waste of time." You are merely substituting previous men's notions with your own notions. By what "authority" are your "revelations" or insights better than your predecessors?
Ancient man was NOT stupid, he realized early on ONLY FEAR works as a "corrective" to anti-social behavior. A religion based _only_ on "LOVE" and compassion will NOT work with "the animal." Christianity realized this too, hence the reasons for FEAR to take power over people (If you're bad you'll go to the lake of fire to burn for all eternity!).
I do NOT see a "Providential" God in operation on this planet who "cares" about his creatures enough to intervene and protect the loving and caring from the selfish and ruthless.
Thomas Paine had it right, "All claims by men to have had a revelation from a god are bogus" (And I would include your Ishtar nonsense). As Paine so rightly observed, _only_ the study of Nature will reveal the Creator (if such exists). I have _studied Nature_ and I agree with Darwin, "the masterplan" is strife and competition among _ALL_ species, for territory, sexual privileges, and dominance, including man. Refuse to fight and struggle against your fellowman and you will be destroyed by him. "Root hog or die!"
What you deplore in this world, man's greed, selfishness, and ruthless, is only the masterplan in operation, as noted by Darwin, moving right along and ignoring all attempts by man to "change" human nature (his animal nature, bound up in man's DNA) with "religion."
Yet, I empathize with you, acknowledging for society to exist, there must be laws to prevent the strong from exploiting the weak of the species, but ONLY FEAR will work (and I acknowledge it does NOT work for all or on all).
The struggle and strife man is engaged in _against_ his fellow man will end _only_ when the last human is gone from this planet. For peaceful co-existence to happen Man's DNA would have to be changed and the "master plan" of strife and struggle for all species would have to be changed, and I don't see that ever happening.
My advice for you, don't waste your time trying to create a "new religion," be it Ishtar or anything else.
I have culled together a number of statements from various philosophers (as well as Durant's) which have given me some "food for thought," and these have to some degree, shaped my "worldview."
Will Durant. The Story of Philosophy, the Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers. (New York. Time Inc. Book Division. 1926, 1927, 1933; reprint 1962)
"The great problem of philosophy is to devise a means whereby men may be persuaded to virtue without the stimulus of supernatural hopes and fears." p. 465.
"Truth will not make us rich, but it will make us free" p. 2
"Stirner expressed the idea briefly when he said that 'a handful of might is better than a bagful of right.' " p. 19
"The Sophist Callicles denounces morality as an invention of the weak to neutralize the strength of the strong." p. 19
"The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must." p. 20
"What is justice? Shall we seek righteousness, or shall we seek power? -Is it better to be good, or to be strong?"
"Behind political problems lies the nature of man...like man, like state." p. 23
"And last are the few whose delight is in meditation and understanding; who yearn not for goods, nor for victory, but for knowledge; who leave both market and battlefield to lose themselves in the quiet clarity of secluded thought; whose will is a light rather than a fire; whose haven is not power but truth: these are the men of wisdom, who stand aside unused by the world." p. 24
"...a living God can do all this, and can stir or frighten the self-seeking individualist into some moderation of his greed, some control of his passion." p. 28
"...the majority of men...hunger and thirst not after righteousness, not after honor, but after possessions endlessly multiplied." p. 38
"So with common property: it would mean a dilution of responsibility; when everything belongs to everybody nobody will take care of anything." p. 42
"So good he is good for nothing." p.109
"He scorns knowledge that does not lead to action." p.109
"Nietzsche says somewhere that the last Christian died upon the cross." p.144
"I have often wondered that persons who make boast of professing the Christian religion -namely, love, joy, peace, temperance, and charity to all men- should quarrel with such rancorous animosity, and display daily toward one another such bitter hatred, that this, rather than the virtues which they profess, is the readiest criterion of their faith." (Baruch Espinosa) p. 155
Only knowledge, then, is power and freedom; and the only permanent happiness is the pursuit of knowledge and the joy of understanding." p.157
"If you do not want to commit suicide always have something to do." p. 188
"History is nothing more than a picture of crimes and misfortunes...History is after all nothing but a pack of tricks which we play upon the dead; we transform the past to suit our wishes for the future, and in the upshot history proves that anything can be proved by history." (Voltaire) pp. 206-207
"I wish to write a history...of the human mind...what were the steps by which men passed from barbarism to civilization?" (Voltaire) p. 208
"Why did his [Voltaire's] greatest book bring him exile? Because, by telling the truth, it offended everybody. It especially enraged the clergy..." p. 208
"We shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm or deceit adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them; and that custom respects and tyranny supports them in order to make the blindness of men serve its own interests." p. 216
"The man who says to me, "Believe as I do, or God will damn you," will presently say, "Believe as I do, or I shall assassinate you." By what right could a being created free force another to think like himself?" (Voltaire) p. 222
"War is the greatest of all crimes, and yet there is no agressor who does not color his crime with the pretext of justice." p. 228
"...man is by nature a beast of prey..." p. 231
"All religions promise a reward...for excellences of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding." p. 293
"Finally, and above all, life is evil because life is war. Everywhere in Nature we see strife, competition, conflict...Every species fights for the matter, space, and time of the others." p. 304
"The life of every individual...is really always a tragedy..." p. 305
"The fear of death is the beginning of philosophy, and the final cause of religion. The average man cannot reconcile himself to death; therefore he makes innumerable philosophies and theologies; the prevalence of a belief in immortality is a token of the awful fear of death...theology is a refuge from death..." p. 307
"The final refuge is suicide...Life laughs at suicide, and smiles at death...Suicide...is a vain and foolish act...misery and strife continue after the death of the individual, and must continue..." p. 307
"If you would subject all things to yourself, subject yourself to reason." (Seneca) p. 310
"Men distinguished in philosophy, politics, poetry or art appear to be all of a melancholy temperment." p. 313
"...Christianity...is a profound philosophy of pessimism; the doctrine of original sin (assertion of the will) and of salvation (denial of the will) is the great truth which constitutes the essence of Christianity...The power by virtue of which Christianity was able to overcome first Judaism, and then, the heathenism of Greece and Rome, lies solely in its pessimism, in the confession that our state is both exceedingly wretched and sinful, while Judaism and heathenism were both optimistic; they thought of religion as a bribe to the heavenly powers for aid towards earthly success; Christianity thought of religion as a deterent from the useless quest of earthly happiness. In the midst of worldly luxury and power it has held up the ideal of the saint, the fool in Christ, who refuses to fight, and absolutely overcomes the individual will." p. 316
"In 1858 Darwin and Wallace read their famous papers before the Linnaean Society; and in 1859 the Old World as the good bishops thought, crashed to pieces with the publication of The Origin of the Species." p. 330
"Honor is pagan, Roman, Feudal, Aristocratic; conscience is Jewish, Christian, bourgeois, democratic...the 'world and 'the flesh' become synonyms of evil, and poverty proof of virtue."
"...the road to the superman must lie through aristocracy. Democracy...must be eradicated...The first step here is the destruction of Christianity...The triumph of Christ was the beginning of democracy; The first Christian was in his deepest instincts a rebel against everything privileged; he lived and struggled unremittingly for 'equal rights'...He who is greatest among you, let him be your servant...this is the inversion of all political wisdom, of all sanity...Only among the lowly could such notions take root; and only in an age whose rulers had degenerated and ceased to rule. When Nero and Caracalla sat on the throne, the paradox arose that the lowest man was worth more than the man on top." p. 398
"Hatred and war come largely of fixed ideas and dogmatic faith." p. 448
"Art can only be a flower that grows out of wealth; it cannot be wealth's substitute. The Medici came before Michealangelo." p. 450
"Christianity was at first a combination of Greek theology with Jewish morality." p. 463
"The man of culture then, will leave undisturbed the myths that so comfort and inspire the life of the people; and perhaps he will a little envy them their hope, but he will have no faith in another life." p. 465
"Real education comes after leaving school." p. 484
Finally, to answer the question posed by one of this website's articles "Why a Naked Adam in Eden?":
The Mesopotamian art forms of the 4th-3rd millennia B.C. (as shown above) at times show man in a NAKED state "serving the gods." These scenes may explain why God (Yahweh-Elohim) in Genesis "_KEEPS_" Adam and Eve as his servants _IN A STATE OF NAKEDNESS_. I thus understand that _the Hebrews are preserving Mesopotamian notions_ from the 4th/3rd millennia of CLOTHED Sumerian gods "_KEEPING"_" man as their "servant" IN A STATE OF NAKEDNESS for a time _DENYING_ him the knowledge it is wrong to be naked; only later did he come to clothe himself as portrayed in Mesopotamian art forms of the 2d milllennium B.C. and later periods (Man being portrayed _still serving_ the gods but now in a "clothed" state). The question then arises as to WHY the gods were content _to keep_ man in a state of NAKEDNESS as their servant? The answer lies with "the priests lively imagination". Man was created to be a lowly servant/slave of the gods. By portraying man in a naked state while serving clothed gods, the message was loud and clear that man was "as NOTHING" in the eyes of the gods, just the dirt under their feet. In other words man _was despised_ by the gods. So the above scenes of NAKED man serving the gods was to PUT MAN IN HIS PLACE, to humiliate him, to enforce upon him that he was "as NOTHING" in the gods' eyes. He was to SERVE and FEAR them and subordinate his will to THEIR WILL. There is another possible explanation for man the servant of the gods being presented in the above art forms in a state of nakedness as he carries out his duties before the fully clothed gods and goddesses: They are "having a private joke" at man's expense. Here he is, NAKED, serving fully clothed deities and all the while, it never enters his mind it is "wrong" to be naked. He never wonders "Why shouldn't I be clothed too?" This latter expanation however still portrays the gods "as contemptuous" of savage man who has the "naive innocence" of a small naked toddler playing amongst fully clothed adults, blissfully unaware it is wrong to be naked. Genesis sees man in a somewhat different light, he is _beloved_ of God and "the pinnacle" of his creation. I call this an "inversion or reversal" (a 180 degree reversal) of the Mesopotamian concept of man's relationship with the gods. I understand that many of Genesis' notions about God and man are _DELIBERATE reversal/inversions_ of Mesopotamian concepts of the relationships between the gods and man. The Hebrews were doing nothing new here in giving NEW TWISTS TO OLD IDEAS, they were following along in the footsteps of their Mesopotamian predecessors, as noted by Professor Lambert.
Lambert, has made a very important observation regarding the manner in which Mesopotamian mythographers worked:
"The authors of ancient cosmologies were essentially compilers. Their originality was expressed in new combinations of old themes, and in new twists to old ideas." (p.107, W. G. Lambert, "A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis," , in Richard S. Hess & David T. Tsumra, Editors. I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood. Winona Lake, Indiana, Eisenbrauns, 1994)
I believe Lambert's observation can be applied to the Hebrews who were combining old themes and putting "new twists" to old ideas. My research indicates that, at times,"reversals" or "inversions"are occurring in the Hebrew transformation and reinterpetation of the Mesopotamian Creation Myths which sought to explain the origins of the Earth and of Mankind and why the gods sought man's demise in a Flood. These "reversals," as I call them, can take the form of different characters, different locations for the settings of the stories, and different morals being drawn about the nature of God and Man's relationship.
It is my understanding that the three great monotheistic faiths of the Western World, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are each employing similar techniques. THEY EACH IN TURN ARE CHALLENGING EARLIER RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND VIEWS REGARDING MAN'S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. The observations by Professors Wenham and Kramer are important here:
Professor Wenham, (Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the College of St. Paul and St. Mary in Cheltenham, England) has done a brilliant presentation, in my opinion, on explaining what Genesis is _really all about_, in its transformation and reinterpretation of the Ancient Mesopotamian concepts regarding the relationship between man and god. IT IS A POLEMIC, A CHALLENGE OF THE VIEWS held by the Mesopotamians of God's relationship with man, A CHALLENGE OF THE MESOPOTAMIAN VIEWS ON HOW MAN CAME TO BE MADE AND WHY HIS DEMISE WAS SOUGHT IN A FLOOD:
Wenham (Emphasis mine in capitals and italics):
"Though Genesis shares many of the theological presuppositions of the ancient world, most of the stories found in these chapters are BEST READ AS PRESENTING AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW TO THOSE GENERALLY ACCEPTED IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST. Genesis 1-11 is a tract for the times challenging ancient assumptions about the nature of God, the world and mankind. (p. xlv) An understanding of ancient oriental mythology is essential if we are to appreciate the points Genesis 1-11 was making then (p. xlvi)...It is my conviction that many of our problems are caused by misunderstanding the original intentions of Genesis...many of the individual episodes in Genesis 1-11 may be seen to have a distinctly polemical thrust in their own right, particularly against the religious ideas associated most closely with Mesopotamia (p. xlviii)...Viewed with respect to its negatives, Genesis 1:1-2-3 is a polemic against the mythico-religious concepts of the ancient orient...the seventh day is not a day of ill omen as in Mesopotamia, but a day of blessing and sanctity on which normal work is laid aside. In contradocting the usual ideas of its times, Genesis 1 is also setting out a positive alternative (p. 37)...We have noted that the overall structure of the material in Genesis 1-11 finds its closest parallels in the Sumerian flood story and the Sumerian king list and in the Atrahasis Epic, all dated to 1600 BC or earlier (p. xliv)...This is not to say that the writer of Genesis had ever heard or read the Gilgamesh Epic: these traditions were part of the intellectual furniture of that time in the Near East, just as most people today have some idea of Darwin's Origin of the Species, though they have never read it." (p. xlviii. Gordon J. Wenham. Word Biblical Commentary, Genesis 1-15. Waco, Texas. Word Incorporated. 1987)
"The ancient oriental background to Genesis 1-11 shows it to be concerned with rather different issues from those that tend to preoccupy modern readers. It is affirming the unity of God in the face of polytheism, his justice rather than his caprice, his power as opposed to his impotence, his concern for mankind rather than his exploitation. And whereas Mesopotamia clung to the wisdom of the primeval man, Genesis records his sinful disobedience. Because as Christians we tend to assume these points in our theology, we often fail to recognize the striking originality of the message of Genesis 1-11..." (p. 1. Wenham)
"In all these cases there is no evidence of simple borrowing by the Hebrew writer. It would be better to suppose that he has BORROWED various familiar mythological motifs, TRANSFORMED them, and integrated them into a fresh and original story of his own. Whereas Adapa heeded the word of the god Ea and did not eat the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve rejected the Lord's command and followed the serpent." (p. 53. Wenham)
"If it is correct to view Genesis 1-11 as _AN INSPIRED RETELLING_ of ancient oriental traditions about the origins of the world with a view to presenting the nature of God as one, omnipotent, omniscient, and good, as opposed to the fallible, capricious, weak deities who populate the rest of the ancient world; if further it is concerned to show that humanity is central in the divine plan, not an afterthought; if finally it wants to show that man's plight is the product of his disobedience and indeed is bound to worsen without divine intervention, Genesis 1-11 is setting out a picture of the world that is at odds both with the polytheistic optimism of ancient Mesopotamia and the humanistic secularism and the modern world.
Genesis is thus a fundamental CHALLENGE to the ideologies of civilized men and women, past and present, who like to suppose their own efforts will ultimately suffice to save them. Genesis 1-11 declares that mankind is without hope if individuals are without God." (p. liii. Wenham)
Wenham's _penetrating analysis_ of Genesis being a CHALLENGE of Mesopotamian religious belief is echoed by Professor Kramer:
The Late Professor Kramer (Curator Emeritus of the Cuneiform Tablet Collection at the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania and Clark Research Professor Emeritus) using "politically correct" uncontentious and neutral scholarly language, alludes to the Sumerian god En-ki's "survival" in today's gods, Yahweh, Christ and Allah:
"Ideas do not necessarily die when the civilization that nurtured them expires. Eridu declined, and Sumerian, like Latin in the West many centuries later, was maintained only by an educated, literate elite. The great empires of Akkad, Assyria, and even Babylon were brought down- Assyria in the late seventh century BC, Babylon less than a century later. Persians, Macedonians, Seleucids, Arsacids, Sassanians, Ummayyad and Abbasid caliphs and later dynasties excercised lordship in Mesopotamia, JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, AND ISLAM were deeply rooted in the Near East, and as often as not CHALLENGED THEIR PREDECCESSORS . Enki survived, if at all, in new guises, under different names...If Enki and his city-state had all but disappeared, literary traditions and religious syncretism kept something of them alive. The two traditions that formed the basis of Western civilization, Greek and Biblical, appear to know stories of Enki, in much disguised form. For various reasons, orthodox and official streams of those traditions ignored or denounced outside influences. Because- with rare exception- Sumerian names do not appear, much of the tracing that follows here is necessarily speculative. In one sense we are very much the inheritors of civilization in its early, Sumerian, forms; but in another sense we will always have a difficult time recognizing such early debts." (p.154. "Traces of the Fugitive God." Samuel Noah Kramer and John Maier. Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. New York and Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1989)
I understand the "challenges of earlier faith systems" posed by Judaism, Christianity and later Islam, at times involves _the deliberate nullification_ of certain beliefs held by their predeccessors. In no case is this a 100% nullification of _all_ previously held beliefs by the earlier religion being challenged. In some cases the earlier beliefs are re-worked and transformed and given new meanings or interpretations. At times some earlier beliefs remain intact and are accepted into the "new" faith which challenges its predeccessors. I understand that at times deliberate "reversals" or "inversions" are employed to nullify or modify earlier concepts, beliefs, events, motifs, reinterpreting them and transforming them for the new religion.
The above "exposition" on WHY A NAKED ADAM? is but just one of many aspects of the CHALLENGE Judaism raised in defining itself against its predeccessor, the Mesopotamian gods at first worshipped by Terah and Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees. A Jewish savant writing at the time of the Hasmoneans (2d century B.C.) notes these two FLED Ur of the Chaldees, when their CHALLENGE was "rejected" by the populace:
"Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites, said to him, "Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will tell you the truth about this people that dwells in the nearby mountain district. No falsehood shall come from your servant's mouth. This people is descended from the Chaldeans.At one time they lived in Mesopotamia, because THEY WOULD NOT FOLLOW THE GODS OF THEIR FATHERS WHO WERE IN CHALDEA. FOR THEY HAD LEFT THE WAYS OF THEIR ANCESTORS, and they worshipped the God of Heaven, the God they had come to know; hence THEY DROVE THEM OUT FROM THE PRESENCE OF THEIR GODS; and THEY FLED TO MESOPOTAMIA, and lived there a long time. Then their God commanded them to leave the place were they were living and go to the land of Canaan. There they settled, and prospered..." (Herbert G. May & Bruce M. Metzger. Editors. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. [Revised Standard Version]. New York. Oxford University Press. 1977)
Reflecting on the above observation of Terah and Abraham being rejected and driven from Ur of the Chaldees because of their religious challenge, it would seem history has a way of repeating itself. In the first century A.D. a NEW CHALLENGE AROSE, Christians were driven from the Synagogues by the Jews who had rejected their views. Then arose ANOTHER CHALLENGE, Islam, as preached by Mohammed the Prophet. He was rejected by Jew and Christian and fled from Mecca to Medina, rejected by some of his own people. CHALLENGE VIA REDEFINITIONS, REJECTION, FLIGHT, RE-GROUPING, the never-ending saga of man's spiritual quest or odyssey. TODAY's CHALLENGE? Secular Humanism (which I embrace) declares there are no gods, they are of man's making, Humanism seeks the pre-empting of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, freeing man of supersition and belief in non-existant gods, devils and demons.
Professional Bible scholars have come to the conclusion that errors exist in all the various recensions of the Bible (Old and New Testaments), none are free of errors. So, _I understand_ in the final analysis, ALL BIBLE RECENSIONS ARE FULL OF ERRORS, revealing they are Satan's handiwork, and the Bible is not the handiwork of God or his Holy Spirit, for God's handiwork _ought to be_ distinguished from Satan's handiwork by an absence of ALL ERROR FOR ALL ETERNITY. Why? because Christian Apologists claim the Holy Spirit is still alive today and guiding the scribes and translators of todays Bibles, and this Holy Spirit also guides the Church in correct doctrines from the Biblical texts. The errors in todays Bibles are proof the Holy Spirit does not exist and is bogus. The contradictory dogmas and beliefs embraced byhundreds of Christian denominations, each in the past accusing the others of being in error and led by Satan, reveal Christianity's notion of a Holy Spirit's existence is false. For why would the Holy Spirit allow Christianity to fragment into so many contradicting denominations and give them Bibles full of man-made errors? In past ages Christians tortured fellow Christians into confessing heresy, then they burned the heretics alive at the stake in public pageants called Auto da Fe's (Roman Catholic). Protestants returned the favor (in England Catholics wre burned alive by Protestants). The wars of the Reformation of the 1500's and 1600's witnesed the savage butchery of Protestant against Catholic, each claiming the Holy Spirit led them into victory over each other, and that torture and burnings were with the Holy Spirit's blessings! What nonsense! The Holy Spirit told Christians to "turn the other cheek to their enemies and to pray for them", not torture, burn alive and kill fellow Christians! No, dear reader, there is NO Holy Spirit, NO God, NO error-free Bible. All of the foregoing Christian behaviors better fit the God of this earth, Satan.
Of course, I am being "tongue-in-cheek facetious" (playing the Devils' advocate) in the above discussion of the Bible being Satan's work, for I am a Secular Humanist who understands _all_ religions are bogus, they are the creations of men's imaginations, projecting man's loves, hates, fears and lusts onto imaginary gods.
I found Tarnas' work exploring the evolution of ideas leading to the modern Secular mindset (which I embrace) most interesting. Here are some reviews from the book's back cover (Richard Tarnas. The Passion of the Western Mind, Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our Modern World View. New York. Ballantine Books. 1991. ISBN 0-345-36809-6 paperback):
"The best intellectual history of the West in one volume I have ever seen." Huston Smith.
"Here are the great minds of Western Civilization and their pivotal ideas, from Plato to Hegel, from Augustine to Nietzsche, from Copernicus to Freud..." (Publisher's Synopsis of the book?)
"The most thrilling narrative of the West's 3,000-year odyssey in pursuit of truth accessible to a broad public of which this reviewer is aware...A work of genius." Harrison Sheppard.
As a Secular Humanist I found most interesting the rise of Secularism, and fall of Faith. Following are various excerpts:
"The Christian injunction to love and serve all humanity and high valuation of the individual human soul now stood in sharp counterpoint to Christianty's long history of bigotry and violent intolerance -its forcible conversion of other peoples, it ruthless suppression of other cultural perspectives, its persecution of heretics, its crusades against Moslems, its oppression of Jews, its depreciation of women's spirituality and exclusion of women from positions of religious authority, its association with slavery and colonialist exploitation, it pervasive spirit of prejudice and religious arrogance maintained against all those outside the fold. Measured by its own standards, Christianity fell woefully short of ethical greatness, and many alternative systems, from ancient Stoicism to modern Liberalism and Socialism, seemed to provide equally inspiring programs for human activity without the baggage of implausible supernatural belief." (p. 318. Tarnas)
"Despite their high-minded doctrines, the organized churches seldom seemed to concern themselves with the plight of workers or the poor. This seeming contradiction, Marx held, was in fact essential to the churches' character, for the true role of religion was to keep the lower classes in order. A social opiate, religion, effectively served the interests of the ruling class against the masses by encouraging the latter to forego their responsibility for changing the present world of injustice and exploitation in exchange for the false security of divine providence and the false promise of immortal life. Organized religion formed an essential element in the bourgeoisie's control of society, for religious beliefs lulled the proletariat into self-defeating inaction. To speak of God and build one's life on such fantasies was to betray man. By contrast, a genuine philosophy of action must start with the living man and his tangible needs. To transform the world, to realize the ideals of human justice and community, man must rid himself of the religious delusion." (p. 314. Tarnas)
"The tenor of Christianity no longer suited the prevailing mood of man's self-sustained progress in and mastery of his world. Modern man's capacity to understand the natural order and to bend that order to his own benefit could not but diminish his former sense of contingency upon God. Using his own natural intelligence, and without the aid of Holy Scripture's divine revelation, man had penetrated nature's mysteries, transformed his universe, and immeasurably enhanced his existence. Combined with the seemingly non-Christian character of the scientifically revealed natural order, this new sense of human dignity and power inevitably moved man toward his secular self...Man was responsible for his own earthly destiny. His own wits and will could change his world. Science gave man a new faith -not only in scientific knowledge, but in himself." (p. 319. Tarnas)
"The West had "lost its faith" and found a new one, in science and in man..." (p. 320. Tarnas)
"But regardless of what attitude was maintained toward Christianity, the conviction that man was steadily and inevitably approaching entrance into a better world, that man himself was progressively improved and perfected through his own efforts, constituted one of the most characteristic, deep-seated, and consequential principles of the modern sensibility. Christianity no longer semed to be the driving force of the human enterprise. For the robust civilization of the West at the high noon of modernity, it was science and reason, not religion and belief, which propelled progress. Man's will, not God's, was the acknowledged source of the world's betterment and humanity's advancing liberation." (pp. 322-323. Tarnas)
"The premodern world had been permeated with spiritual, mythic, theistic, and other humanly meaningful categories, but all these were regarded by the modern perception as anthropomorphic projections...The scientific liberation from theological dogma and animistic superstitions was thus accompanied by a new sense of human alienation from a world that no longer responded to human values, nor offered a redeeming context within which could be understood the larger issues of human existence...Science may have revealed a cold, impersonal world, but it was the true one nonetheless...With Darwin, these consequences were further amplified...Man was a highly successful animal. He was not God's noble creation with a divine destiny, but nature's experiment with an uncertain destiny...All was in a flux. Man was not an absolute, and his cherished values had no foundation outside of himself. Man's character, his mind and will, came from below, not above. The structures not only of religion but society, of culture, of reason itself now seemed to be relatively arbitrary expressions of the struggle for biological success.
Thus too was Darwin liberating and diminishing. Man could now recognize that he rode forth at the crest of evolution's advance, nature's most complex and dazzling achievement; but he was also just an animal of no "higher" purpose. The universe provided no assurance of indefinite success for the species, and certain assurance of individual demise at physical death...The chief facts of human history until the present were fortuitously supportive biophysical circumstances and brute survival, with no apparent larger meaning or context, and with no cosmic security supplied by any providential design from above." (p. 327. Tarnas)
"The true wellspring of human emotions was a seething caldron of irrational, bestial impulses...Not just man's divinity but his humanity was coming into question. As the scientific mind emancipated modern man from his illusions, he seemed increasingly swallowed up by nature, deprived of his ancient dignities, unmasked as a creature of base instinct...Marx exposed the social conscious. The philosophical, religious, and moral values of each age could be plausibly comprehended as determined by economic and political variables, whereby control over the means of production was maintained by the most powerful class. The entire superstructure of human belief could be seen reflecting the more basic struggle for material power. The elite of Western civilization, for all its sense of cultural acievement, might recognize itself in Marx's dark portrait as a self-deceiving bourgeois imperialist oppressor. Class struggle, not civilized progress, was the program for the foreseeable future..." (p. 329. Tarnas)
At the ripe old-age of 64 (born 1943) I at last realize that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are _all_ TERRORIST RELIGIONS. Their source of power and growth IS TERRORISM. All preach love and compassion, but in the end it is their employment of TERRORISM that makes them "great."
The God they all worship is himself A TERRORIST-GOD. This vindicitive God allegedly destroyed the world in a flood, AN ACT OF TERROR. He gave Israel Canaan via ACTS OF TERROR (telling Israel to slaughter the Canaanites, man, woman and suckling child).
Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire via ACTS OF TERROR sanctioned by the Christian Roman Emperors. Pagans outside the empire were forciblly converted via TERRORISM. Any nation that "aspires to greatness and power in the world" does so THROUGH TERRORISM.
This is "Nature's Way," the dominant in any species maintains their dominance via TERROR, be it insects, fish, fowls, animals or mankind (or nations). FEAR guarantees DOMINANCE and POWER, FEAR arises from acts of TERRORISM.
The Mesopotamians portrayed their gods as TERRORISTS, the god who was not feared was portrayed as being held in contempt and despised by mankind, please click here for my article on "Wrathful Gods and the Day of the Lord," a Day when the Lord revels in the slaughter of the righteous and innocent as well as the evil, because he feels that mankind does not fear him but instead despises him. He will get fear (and "respect") via ACTS OF TERROR.
Jesus' last act will be when he returns to the earth as a TERRORIST-GOD to destroy those who refuse to bow-down and acknowledge him as "Lord" in the Battle at Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).
Another hobby I have is Genealogy. I was born a Warttig and have traced the family to the village of Velten north of Berlin and to the village Diebach south of scenic Rothenburg an der Tauber in Bavaria (1800). Mattfeld is my stepfather's name, they are from Armsen bei Verden, Hannover (1845). de la Torre is my mother's maiden name, her father Miguel Angel de la Torre Bosch was born in Matanzas Cuba (1885), his father Miguel de la Torre Balbontin was born in the village of Polanco (1851), just north of the industrial city of Torrelavega and SW of the port of Santander in Santander province (today's Cantabria Province) in Spain. So I have German and Spanish and Cuban ancestry (Bosch of Matanzas, Cuba).