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7

Subjects (abstracts): "The Evolution of Speech, Thought, and Selfless Behavior"; Forgotten Scripts; Hammurapi's Code; "The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilisations"; Biblical Polemics; Nietzsche; "memes"; etc.

"His [Nietzsche] own obsession with moral and intellectual hygiene guaranteed that throughout his life he remained aghast at and incredulous of the degree of self-deception and willingness to believe what suits them that almost everyone routinely practices. " [see Nietzsche, 192].

from: William Howells, The Heathens, Primitive Man and His Religions, Doubleday, c1948.

[for this book reference (11/24/95), I thank an old friend, D.F.].

'Man is a supremely sensitive and excitable animal, whose fancies and fears leap up around him like flames. He is also imaginative, ingenious, and highly adaptable, socially and emotionally. As far as he is able, he gains his ends by direct methods, using his eyes, his hands, and his tongue: "scientifically," he brings changes in the world around him (such as making a live animal [DEAD] into an edible one). Where this does not suffice to meet what he feels, consciously or unconsciously, to be his necessities he is apt to make the adjustment not by changing his surroundings but by changing himself. And the main medium whereby he changes himself is religion [add drugs (overeating, etc.)].' [24].

from: Daedalus, Winter 1958, "111", Texts and Motifs, Max Weber: "Science as a Vocation", Introduction: Philip Rieff (thanks to Guy E. Swanson, The Birth of the Gods, The Origin of Primitive Beliefs, U. Michigan, 1968 (c1960)).

"Men became religious when they had to approach and rationalize the chaos of powers by which they were moved and their destinies sealed. But from Hobbes [Thomas Hobbes 1588 - 1679] to Weber [Max Weber 1864 - 1920] there has been an insistent, ironic voice saying that religious man is really, at bottom, political man. All theologies are metaphors of politics. Thus, from the primitive notion that God is power we have advanced to the notion that POWER IS GOD. "

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from: Philip Lieberman, Uniquely Human, The Evolution of Speech, Thought, and Selfless Behavior, Harvard U., 1991.

"We can...trace the evolution of modern human beings in the fossil record through the features of the skull that yield human speech. These features also serve as an index for the presence of the brain mechanisms which are also necessary for speech, and which, as the following chapters argue, are key elements in the evolution of human language, cognition, and culture. " [72].

"A completely modern supralaryngeal vocal tract is present about 100,000 years ago in the Jebel Qafzeh VI and Skhul V fossils from Israel. The length of the palate is similar to that of present-day humans, and the vocal tract would have produced quantal speech sounds that were stable. Recent theories propose that anatomically modern Homo sapiens originated in Africa somewhere between 100,000 and 400,000 years ago, subsequently dispersing through the Middle East to Europe and Asia (Stringer and Andrews, 1988). The presence of a functionally modern vocal tract in the African Broken Hill fossil 125,000 years ago and its retention and elaboration in Jebel Qafzeh VI and Skhul V 100,000 years ago are consistent with this theory.4" [76].

"Skhul V and Qafzeh are two of the oldest fossil hominids who possessed the speech-producing anatomy and brains that are the biological bases of speech and syntax. The evidence of their burials with grave goods is consistent with their having possessed cognitive abilities that approach our own.

It is necessary to consider all the alternatives before interpreting particular archaeological data as evidence of religious rituals. Flower pollen was present in the Neanderthal grave found in Shanidar, Iraq, which may be about 60,000 years old; Ralph Solecki (1971) suggested that it had been placed in the gravesite as an offering. However, as Dibble (1989) notes, it is impossible to determine whether the flowers were deliberately placed in the grave or were simply part of the cave floor debris that fell into it. " [163].

"If we assume that the minds of our distant ancestors worked like ours, we can take burials that include grave goods as evidence for religious beliefs that predicate an afterlife, rebirth, or perhaps even reincarnation. Although there is a risk in assuming that the basic emotional needs of thinking humans have been similar over a span of 100,000 years, the alternative hypothesis--that profound differences exist--is even less likely. The continuity of evolution argues for the existence of similar emotional needs. " [164].

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"The earliest fossil remains of anatomically modern Homo sapiens that can be accurately dated lived about 100,000 years ago in what is today Israel. These early humans had modern supralaryngeal vocal tracts and the brain mechanisms that are necessary to produce human speech and syntax. They probably had a language or languages, that made use of complex syntax and reasoning ability. They thought and talked about death and constructed theories about life, death, and a world that might exist beyond death--for which they prepared their dead in burial. Human language and thought may be still older. If the dating established by recent studies of DNA is accurate, modern human beings may have first appeared 250,000 years ago; and it is possible that they also talked, thought, and acted in this manner, though perhaps to a reduced degree. However, we can date language as we know it back to at least this period and place ["Israel"]--100,000 years ago at the edge of Africa and Asia. And we can trace the human drive to construct theories and codes concerning our place in life, the meaning of death, and the conduct of life--that is, religious and moral systems--to these people. " [171-172].

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from: Cyrus H. Gordon, Forgotten Scripts, How they were deciphered and their impact on contemporary culture, Basic Books, 1968.

"Western civilization came to be conceived as starting with the three classical forms of Mediterranean culture--Israel, Greece, and Rome. Homer and the Bible stood at the beginning of recorded history, and everything earlier was regarded as prehistoric. " [viii].

"We are about to tell the story of how forgotten scripts were deciphered and lost languages recovered, adding two thousand years to the documented span of Western civilization. Greece and Israel no longer stand at the dawn of history. Thanks to the decipherment of Egyptian and cuneiform, there are now fifteen centuries of recorded history in the cradle of Western culture, before the Greeks and the Hebrews appear on the scene. " [viii].

"While Darwinism was hitting at what eighteenth-century rationalism had left of traditional religion, the cuneiform texts revealed a pagan mythology that was used as ammunition to blow up the vestiges of biblical faith. If Noah's flood was only a late Hebrew copy of the ancient Babylonian deluge, what could one still accept in Sacred Scripture? The net result was a tendency to split the public into two opposing camps: atheists and obscurantists. The one maintained that science and archeological discovery exposed religious tradition as fallacy and fraud. The other rejected the testimony of science and the newly deciphered texts as pernicious. We are still suffering from this needless dichotomy, which has bred a lost generation seeking meaning in history and life. " [ix].

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"To be civilized and complete, we must accept scientific enlightenment and our traditional heritage, each in its proper place. Neglect of either is disastrous. Science without tradition can produce technicians but not cultured men; tradition without science can breed learned but not rational men. " [x].

"Secular fundamentalism stemmed (and still stems) largely from classicists who object to giving credit to the "barbaric" civilizations such as the Egyptians or Phoenicians. Religious fundamentalism is opposed to connections between the Chosen People and their heathen neighbors....Classical fundamentalism was unleashed after Champollion's decipherment of Egyptian. Religious fundamentalism broke loose with renewed vigor after the announcement of the biblical parallels in cuneiform literature. " [xi-xii].

"The classicist does not as a rule welcome any evidence of profound Phoenician impact on Greece, and the well-adjusted Hebrew scholar is quite content to shut his eyes to Mycenaean and Minoan developments even though he knows that Palestine is named after an Aegean people called the Philistines.

Thus, the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century has left us a twofold legacy--[1] the expanding mentality which produced the decipherments and [2] the reaction which not only prescribes blinkers but resists the mounting evidence of mutual relationships and a common heritage in the ancient Mediterranean. " [xiii].

"Long before Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt or Agamemnon sailed with his troops to Troy, great literary civilizations in Mesopotamia and Egypt had laid the foundations of our arts, sciences, humanities, religion, ethics, law, and economy. " [166].

"The glory of Israel and Greece, therefore, is not that they created their cultures ex nihilo but that they eclipsed qualitatively the brilliant civilizations that provided them with their headstart. " [167].

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from: Cyrus H. Gordon, Hammurapi's Code, Quaint or Forward-Looking?, Rinehart, 1957.

[facing page 1] "Drawing of sculptured top of the stela, showing Hammurapi standing before Shamash, god of justice. The stela is a column of black diorite more than seven feet in height and containing about 3600 lines of cuneiform. It is now in the Louvre in Paris. " [see map: "Old Babylonian Empire"].

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'The immediate origins of Western civilization can be viewed as being ancient Israel, Greece, and Rome. Moreover, inasmuch as all three lay along the shores of the same sea, we could call our heritage "the Mediterranean culture. " Yet many basic elements of this culture were brought from the other areas....The westward movement of the Indo-European immigrants brought the Hittites, Greeks, and Latins to the Mediterranean. And, because of the northerly course of the Nile, Egyptian culture also found a natural outlet there. But no area was better equipped, and more inclined, to export its culture than Mesopotamia. ' [1].

"The Sumerians were gradually replaced by the Akkadians, who were Semites. Although the basis of Mesopotamian civilization was Sumerian, from about 2000 B.C. the Akkadians were largely responsible for developing this civilization and carrying it abroad. The Akkadian peoples (embracing the Babylonians in the south and the Assyrians in the north) excelled in many cultural activities ranging from mathematics and astronomy to business and law; it is on the two latter spheres that we must focus our attention. " [1].

"The oldest code of laws from anywhere in the world is that of Ur-Nammu, the Sumerian king who founded the Third Dynasty of Ur in the 21st century B.C." [2].

"Hammurapi2 (around 1704-1662 B.C.)...picked off his rivals one by one and established an empire embracing Assyria and Babylonia. As seen from our vantage point, his greatest accomplishment was not any one battle but the promulgation of the code3 that bears his name. " [2].

"the legal sections of the Bible fall technically short of Hammurapi's laws, because the biblical laws are scattered and disorganized, in sharp contrast to the orderly and comprehensive legislation of Hammurapi. " [2].

'In the prologue [of the stela] Hammurapi [d. 1750 B.C.E. (king of Babylonia 1792 - 1750 B.C.E.)] states that the gods of old had predestined Babylon to be supreme in the world, and predestined him "to cause justice to shine in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil, that the strong might not oppress the weak. " ....It is significant that the authority of the law depends on its divine origin. This claim of divine origin made any infraction of the law an offense not only against the state or society but also against the divine order itself. The Bible is thus not the first way of life to claim divine authority, for the earliest books of the Bible date from long after Hammurapi's Code. But laws like Hammurapi's paved the way for mankind's acceptance of Sacred Scripture as being of divine origin. Hammurapi's claims did not stick, but ever since 621 B.C. [interesting date. source?], when the Law of Moses was once and for all time accepted as of divine origin, Scripture has stuck without interruption in Judaism, and subsequently in the daughter religions of Christianity and Islam. The success of the Bible has, in its rich prehistory, many an apparent failure, including the Code of Hammurapi.' [3].

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'The end of the epilogue [of the stela, in poetry] is a long curse for any future ruler who alters the code or rubs out Hammurapi's name in order to inscribe his own. Such a ruler Hammurapi curses with many a hearty malediction: Anum, the god of heavens, is to break his scepter and curse his fate; Enlil, the god who determines destinies, is to stir up revolts against him that cannot be suppressed, so that his fate will be "a reign of sighing, days few in number, years of famine, darkness without light, sudden death . . ., the destruction of his city, the dispersion of his people, the transfer of his kingdom, the extinction of his name and memory from the land. " Even post mortem, that wicked ruler is to have no peace in the underworld where "his ghost is to thirst for water. " Following all kinds of catastrophes (both personal and for his land) that ruler is to perish without an heir after suffering from a horrible disease which is not only incurable but which the physicians cannot even diagnose. The Near East, ancient and modern, knows how to curse abundantly, heartily, and in rich literary form.' [27].

[See: All the Obscenities in the Bible, Gene Kasmar, 1995, Chapter 23: "Hatreds I" [Old Testament]; Chapter 24: "Hatreds II" [New Testament] (a "Must See" book! [1/800/66 WALDO])].

'Until the Digest of the Roman emperor Justinian (reigned 527-565 A.D.), the world produced no better basis for the study of law than Hammurapi's stela against the background of thousands of cuneiform contracts and cases. The stela contains the finest codification of laws produced by the most law-conscious culture of antiquity more than sixteen hundred years before Christ. The fact that Mesopotamian law (best exemplified by Hammurapi's Code) influenced the Bible would be enough to make it a subject of great significance for the Occident. But as we have seen, the effects of that law live on intimately in our secular lives. Mesopotamia introduced, to a world conducting business mainly through barter, the seeds of the capitalistic system: notably the idea that capital could be invested with a return of interest on the principal. Indeed the word "capital" is a reflex of the Babylonian qaqqadum or "principal" (whose primary meaning is "head").' [27].

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from: Cyrus H. Gordon, Professor of Near Eastern Studies Brandeis University, Before the Bible The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilisations, Harper & Row, 1962 (2nd edition 1965 ["Books That Live The Norton imprint on a book means that in the publisher's estimation it is a book not for a single season but for the years. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. "]).

'2The reader will bear in mind that this book does not deal with the Hellenistic Age, when the union of Greece with the rest of the Near East is universally recognized. We are instead primarily concerned with the "Heroic Age" of Greece and Israel (ca. 15th to 10th centuries B.C.).' [footnote] [11].

"Everyone knows that Homer is very different from the Bible. What is not sufficiently known is the fact that the two share a common East Mediterranean heritage. " [19].

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"Shortly after 3000 B.C., the Sumerians developed a system of writing from pictographs. At first the Sumerian script was linear, but it gradually became cuneiform, normally inscribed on clay tablets with stylus. During the third millennium, Sumerian became a great medium for writing the records of business, law, religion and literature. If we are to measure greatness in such matters by impact on other nations, Sumerian is certainly the world's first great written language and literature [see books by: Samuel Noah Kramer]. The late Edward Sapir listed Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek and Latin as the five great languages of the world, because of their impact on other speech groups. Sumerian ought to be added to the list. " [48].

"1George Smith's discovery in 1872 of this Babylonian parallel to the Genesis flood story inaugurated the era of ancient oriental parallels to the Bible (see L. Deuel, The Treasures of Time, World Publishing Co., Cleveland and New York, 1961, p. 133). " [footnote] [75].

"The Septuagint [Greek] and New Testament [Greek],2 [see footnote below] as well as Rabbinic literature,3 never lost sight of the royal status of the Patriarchs. " [143].

[footnote] '2Which derives Jesus, the last "King of the Jews," from Abraham, the first "King of the Jews," in the opening chapter of Matthew. The purpose of the genealogy is hardly to establish the Jewishness of Jesus which was never challenged, but rather his kingship which was questioned.' [143].

"The notion of a language of the gods [indicative of level of cultural sophistication?] appears in Sanskrit, Greek, Old Norse and Hittite literatures.2 It is unattested in Egyptian and Semitic texts because the Egyptians never doubted that the gods spoke Egyptian and at least some of the Semites (certainly the Hebrews who never doubted that God and the angels spoke Hebrew) could not imagine the gods speaking any but their own dialect. " [238-239].

"Zeus is in fact pained that his son Sarpedon is to die, but Hera reminds Zeus that many sons of gods are fighting around Troy, and that if Zeus spares his son, other gods will do the same for their sons, so that the earthly system would cease (Iliad 16: 445-449). " [245].

"Hector, the son of Priam, boasts of being the son or lad (páïs) of mighty Zeus in Iliad 13: 54.2" [see footnote below] [245].

[footnote] '2Jesus is called the páïs of God in Acts 3: 13, 26; 4: 27, 30; cf. David's title in 4:25; and Kret's [Epic of Kret from Ugarit] title glm il "Lad of El. " The Septuagint [Greek] of Genesis 18: 17 has God referring to Abraham as his páïs.' [245].

[See classics: The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors, Kersey Graves, c1875; Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions, T.W. Doane, 1971 (1882); Pagan Christs, J.M. Robertson, 1903].

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'demonology preoccupied the West from the dawn of Christianity to virtually modern times. It was the spread of Judeo-Christian religion that debased the pagan gods into demons.

Among the fanciful notions of ancestry was the claim of descent from some famous tree or rock [compare the famous Matthew 16:18 (play on Petros [Peter] and petra [rock] [Oxford Bible 1193])] (Odyssey 19: 163). Such ideas are not playful inventions of Homer. Jeremiah (2: 27) tells of people who "say to the tree 'You are my father' and to the stone 'You have borne me'. "2' [247].

"In the case of Abraham, there can be no god of the father, because his father Terah is the pagan parent of the first true believer according to the tradition. The Covenant [see 191] between God and Abraham is strictly personal, for the two talk together and God promises protection to Abraham and his seed in exchange for Abraham's devotion. This concept is found outside Scripture. For example, Odysseus in appreciation for past help and future aid, promises to call on Athene as first among the immortals of Olympus (Iliad 10: 462-464). " [257].

"Old Testament sacrifice has close technical analogues with Homeric sacrifice, Iliad I: 459-463 and 2: 42I-43I describe how the animal is slain by having its head drawn back so that its throat can be slit; then it is flayed. Cf. 2 Chronicles 35: II for slaughtering (by slitting the throat: which is still obligatory in Judaism and Islam) followed by the flaying. The lads with the five-pronged forks (Iliad I: 463) are to be compared with the priest bearing the trident at the sacrifices in I Samuel 2: I3-I5. " [259].

"The ability to lie, deceive and beat the other fellow through chicanery was admired by onlookers if not by the victims themselves. "

[Reference to Odysseus, Jacob, et al.] [273].

[See: Fiction in Antiquity, my 1.-564. (#1-4) passim, etc.].

"That certain parts of our Bible circulated in oral form before they were committed to writing is not only possible but likely. However, the high literacy of the age points to a maximum of written sources lying behind Scripture. " [283].

"Just as God saved Isaac in the nick of time and provided a ram to substitute for him on the altar, Artemis saved Iphigeneia at Aulis by snatching her away and putting a stag in her place on the altar (Cypria, Loeb edition, pp. 494-5). This parallel shows that the essential elements of the story are East Mediterranean with reflexes in both Greece and Israel. " [290].

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"Isaac was conceived through divine agency. Like the Mycenaean Greek heroes, Isaac could claim paternity at two levels; the human and the divine. His human father, through whom he obtained his specific position in his people's history, was Abraham; but his superhuman quality was derived from the deity that visited Sarah. This is of a piece with the dual paternity of Homeric heroes, who hold the office of their human fathers, but are supermen because of their divine fathers....some of the original Isaac Cycle survived to re-echo in Christianity. Jesus derives his human-office of Messianic King from Joseph, but his divine quality from his Divine Father. Moreover, the Church tradition that connects the sacrifice of Isaac with the sacrifice of Christ apparently rests on sound exegesis, for the sacrifice of Isaac would have meant not only the sacrifice of Abraham's son but of God's. " [290-291].

"Before the Bible was sent to press as a bold thesis (but whose truth I never doubted). It ends with the specific proof that establishes beyond cavil that Greek and Hebrew civilisations are parallel structures built upon the same East Mediterranean foundation. " [302] [End of text].

[See: The Legends of the Jews, Louis Ginzberg (1873-1953), 7 volumes].

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from: Biblical Polemics [Published bi-monthly, P.O. Box 9773, Jerusalem 91091, Israel, Price of Annual Subscription, USA $25] [this magazine reference, thanks to Louis Cable (TFE contributor), 1994] [note: referenced by Timotheus (via Ralph Nielsen), TFE #21, 108-109] /November - December 1995, 5-20, "Encounter with Paul", S. Levin.

[This is a "dialogue" [excerpts] between the author, and "a young [24] Jew who had embraced Christianity. " Note: utterances of S. Levin, begin with bolded words (external quotation marks are omitted)].

I am not ignorant of the New Testament; I have been studying it for 15 years and have published some studies of the subject. If you wonder why I am busy with the New Testament - it is not for the attraction you find in it - then I would say there were three reasons: [1] because of its seminal influence in the genesis of antisemitism and specifically, the holocaust, [2] because it is a valuable guide to the nature of the ancient pagan religions and [3] because one must read it in order to fathom - and this I still find a mystery - why any Jew [et al.] should find it attractive. I don't. [5]

The New Testament is a Jewish book.

It's not. It's a Greek book.

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The language is unimportant. The message is Jewish, the people are mostly Jewish, the whole setting is Jewish and in Palestine.

It's not. If it was Jewish, it would have come down to us in Hebrew or Aramaic fragments, instead of Greek documents. The New Testament is a Greek view of Jewish matters, which accounts for its numerous errors and its continued appeal to pagans, rather than to Jews.

All its writers were Jews.

Not even one of them. [10]

I reject you and reject your Paul and the New Testament which he launched. None of you have anything Jewish to tell us. Greek mythology has no religious significance for us. [10] [Greek, and Roman mythology!].

Christendom was in a position from the fourth century on, to take up the sword against us.

Was Hitler a Christian?

He could not help but be. In a culture as profoundly Christian as that of Germany, Hitler had little choice. He was born a Catholic, brought up as a Christian and reacted to Jews in a predictably Christian manner. For several years during the 1930s, Mein Kampf was published by the Catholic Paternoster Press. Something like 20% of the SS were Catholics, the rest mostly Lutherans - and not ignorant peasants, either. Nazism was fostered in the universities. Its chief advocates and executives were lawyers and professors. Antisemitism is not ignorance of Jews but knowledge of them - a very special kind of knowledge - New Testament knowledge. [12]

[see TFE #20, 19-20 ("Christians and the Holocaust")]

the cross when held at the top, is a sword and it [Christianity] succeeded only in the wake of the sword. [12]

Which God?

There is only one God.

I agree but which one?

How do you mean, which one? There is only one.

There are several only ones. There is, for example, the God of Israel Who is one God. There is also the three-in-one god of the Christians, the one Allah of the Moslems and the composite one. Brahman, of the Hindus. So, we have at least four ones. [14]

They [above gods] are one and the same. Don't talk nonsense.

They can't be. Ours is the God of Israel. Who is also the one God of the universe. Yours is the god of the Christians, who is also the one god of the universe. They can't both be true 'one gods'. One of these two 'ones' must be an imposter or a phantom. [14]

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Our [Jewish] atheists, like the ones King David complains about in Psalm 14, are still a part, with our Orthodox, in one peoplehood. However, you Christians are not part of our peoplehood and so cannot share in the patrimony of our God. [15]

Of course, our Bible and our God extends His grace to gentiles. It specifically mentions Ethiopians, Egyptians, Assyrians and the stranger within our gates - but this injunction is listed in our Bible. They are not religiously qualified, nor are any Christians, to interpret what our Bibles says. That is why I am so adamant that the expression is 'our Bible', for us to interpret and not 'the Bible', for any to use. [15]

Old Testament? What is an old testament? It is as non-existent as the Bible. There is no such thing as an old testament somehow suspended within the cultural milieu of all peoples and available for all to pluck. It is just not available on such terms. It is ours! It is not an old text. We have three objections to this term: [1] it is unknown in Jewish sources, being in fact a Christian import [Imperialism, etc.]. For us, it is our Hebrew Bible, our Torah, our Tanach. There is a second objection: [2] we Jews do not care for the word 'old' because, though it can mean venerable, it can also mean senile, decrepit and obsolete and it is dismissed as such in many parts of the Greek scriptures - your New Testament, for example, in Hebrews 8:13. There is a third objection in that [3] 'old testament' implies a continuation in a new testament and that is why Christians include both within the covers of one book, thus neatly excluding Jews and Judaism from the continuing concern of our God, except unless we conform with this scheme [scam!] of old continuing in the new. Of course, the Greek New Testament has no connections with our Hebrew Bible, which continues in our Talmud and other continuing writings - and not only writings but our very existence, because we are not only the People of the Book, as Mahomet observed; we are the Book. [16]

but the Ten Commandments were given to us alone, at Sinai. However, Christians also covet them, covet everything we have, especially our religiously-favored status, our chosenness and, notwithstanding Paul's abrogation, want our Commandments. It may interest you to know that there is a small stream of Christian attitudes which reject the Commandments, reject everything in our Torah as religiously irrelevant for Christians. This stream begins with Paul and Marcion in the second century and continues into our century in the opinions of the German theologian, Bultmann. He claims that the Hebrew Bible is of only historical and literary consequence to Christians but of no religious value, having been overthrown as obsolete and superseded by faith in Christ [The greatest psychological (and physical) Imperialism ("Existential cannibalism", etc.), etc., in the history of Homo sapiens!]. In further attempts to dissociate Jew from Christian, German theologians have tried to prove that Jesus was not a Jew but of Persian origin. [16]

Matthew leaves no stone unturned in utilizing passages from our Bible to his purpose of fulfilling prophesies; i.e., history made to order. [17]

Christians are notorious correctors [forgers] of texts. The text of Josephus is the best example. [18]

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There are about a hundred vague and dubious passages in our Bible which hungry Christians have filled with Jesus-meanings and the attempt is as futile and fatuous as it is dishonest. In fact, competent and honest Christian scholars have long since ceased to twist Hebrew biblical passages toward Christian ends and the New English Bible proves it. This translation is far more damaging to the traditional Christian claims than anything a Jew can say. [18]

What do you think of that? Just imagine the importance for us of a messiah when but once - in Daniel 9:25, 26 - in a thousand pages of small print, the actual word 'messiah', 'mashiach', appears. Even in that passage, the meaning is wholly enigmatic, with certainly no connection with Christ. [19]

If you deny Christians access to what you call your God, then Christians have no God?

Quite so. They never made the transition from the pagan Baal, called Zeus, Herakles and other names, to the God of Israel. They remain stranded half way across a bridge, unable to return to Baal, who has since died and unwilling to join the People and the God of Israel. Christianity is a religion of arrested development. It has had 2,000 years to work out a solution and has failed and the consequence has been cruel and tragic - for Jews, of course - that goes without saying - but also for Christians [and Others]. Christianity is a religion of orphans. They have no God, no God they can really call their own.

[below, appears an add for Gospel Fictions, Randel Helms, Prometheus] [20].

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from: Biblical Polemics/November - December 1995, "The New Covenant", Shmuel Golding.

'To make a covenant, the Bible uses the word (karat) which means to "cut a covenant". It is possible that this idiom derives from the ceremony accompanying the covenant in which an animal was cut in two and both parties to the covenant walked through the middle of the divided carcass.' [2-3].

[Recently, visiting a friend (Marion H.) in a convalescent home, I saw a Desmond Morris program on the television (I do not have one). (As I recall) In Europe, present-day, a small tree was split. Passing through of a teenager, was a "rite of passage" (the split was rejoined)].

"Although no real evidence for a covenant festival has ever been discovered, it has become clear that the covenant was in use for centuries in the Near East. " [3].

'These verses ["Rom 11. 20-27"] from Paul's pen to the Romans gave birth to the concept of the Church being the "New Israel of God". Yet when we read the Hebrew Bible nothing can be further from the truth.' [4].

'The "New Israel of God" is simply a Christian myth invented by Paul.' [4].

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from: Friedrich Nietzsche [1844 - 1900], Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ,

Tr. R.J. Hollingdale, Introduction by Michael Tanner, Penguin, 1990 (1968).

"His [Nietzsche] own obsession with moral and intellectual hygiene guaranteed that throughout his life he remained aghast at and incredulous of the degree of self-deception and willingness to believe what suits them that almost everyone routinely practices. "

[repeat from 180] [found 11/8/95] [Introduction] [17].

"- Who has not pondered sadly over what the German spirit could be! But this nation has deliberately made itself stupid, for practically a thousand years: nowhere else are the two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity, so viciously abused. Lately even a third has been added...music, our constipated, constipating German music. " [72].

"Species do not grow more perfect; the weaker dominate the strong again and again -the reason being they are the great majority [breeders!], and they are also cleverer....Darwin forgot the mind (- that is English!): the weak possess more mind....To acquire mind one must need mind - one loses it when one no longer needs it. He who possesses strength divests himself of mind". [?] [87].

"It was only Christianity, with ressentiment [resentment] against life in its foundations, which made of sexuality something impure: it threw filth on the beginning, on the prerequisite of our life... " [121].

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from: Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Oxford, 1976.

"I think that a new kind of replicator has recently emerged on this very planet. It is staring us in the face. It is still in its infancy, still drifting clumsily about in its primeval soup....

The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. 'Mimeme' comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene'. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to 'memory', or to the French word méme. It should be pronounced to rhyme with 'cream'.

Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. " [206].

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"When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme's propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell. And this isn't just a way of talking--the meme for, say, 'belief in life after death' is actually realized physically, millions of times over, as a structure in the nervous systems of individual men the world over.'" [207].

"Consider the idea of God. We do not know how it arose in the meme pool. Probably it originated many times by independent 'mutation'. In any case, it is very old indeed. How does it replicate itself? By the spoken and written word, aided by great music and great art. Why does it have such high survival value? Remember that 'survival value' here does not mean value for a gene in a gene pool, but value for a meme in a meme pool. The question really means: What is it about the idea of a god which gives it its stability and penetrance in the cultural environment? The survival value of the god meme in the meme pool results from its great psychological appeal. It provides a superficially plausible answer to deep and troubling questions about existence. It suggests that injustices in this world may be rectified in the next. The 'everlasting arms' hold out a cushion against our own inadequacies which, like a doctor's placebo [compare: the limitations of placebo effects/affects], is none the less effective for being imaginary. These are some of the reasons why the idea of God is copied so readily by successive generations of individual brains. God exists, if only in the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture. " [207].

"Perhaps we could regard an organized church, with its architecture, rituals, laws, music, art, and written tradition, as a co-adapted stable set of mutually-assisting memes.

To take a particular example, an aspect of doctrine which has been very effective in enforcing religious observance is the threat of hell fire. Many children and even some adults believe that they will suffer ghastly torments after death if they do not obey the priestly rules. This is a peculiarly nasty technique of persuasion, causing great psychological anguish throughout the middle ages and even today [it is phenomenal how millions of persons have been conditioned (in the Christian milieu) to endure (suffer) this heinous abuse (in lieu of retaliation via mayhem!)]. But it is highly effective. It might almost have been planned deliberately by a machiavellian priesthood trained in deep psychological indoctrination techniques. However, I doubt if the priests were that clever. Much more probably, unconscious memes have ensured their own survival by virtue of those same qualities of pseudo-ruthlessness which successful genes display. The idea of hell fire is, quite simply, self perpetuating, because of its own deep psychological impact. It has become linked with the god meme because the two reinforce each other, and assist each other's survival in the meme pool. " [212].

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"Another member of the religious meme complex is called faith. It means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence. The story of Doubting Thomas is told, not so that we shall admire Thomas, but so that we can admire the other apostles in comparison. Thomas demanded evidence. Nothing is more lethal for certain kinds of meme than a tendency to look for evidence. The other apostles, whose faith was so strong that they did not need evidence, are held up to us as worthy of imitation. The meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry. " [212-213].

"Blind faith can justify anything. If a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual for worshipping the same god, blind faith can decree that he should die--on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a Crusader's sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast. Memes for blind faith have their own ruthless ways of propagating themselves. This is true of patriotic and political as well as religious blind faith. " [213].

[See: Free Inquiry, Title of this issue: "Is Religion a Form of Insanity?", Summer 1993, "Viruses of the Mind", Richard Dawkins].

___

from: Nature, "The memetic basis of religion", Mario Vaneechoutte, Department of

Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology & Immunology, Blok A, University Hospital, B 9000 Ghent, Belgium, September 23, 1993, 290:

"religion has to do with the confrontation of our animal emotionality with our human superintelligence. I will try briefly to explain. "

"regarding animals and humans as basically EMOTIONAL BEINGS is the first cornerstone in any hypothesis. The ability to enjoy and to fear underlies the evolutionary development of intelligence; animals and children [and adults] learn through joy and fear, and experience emotional reward when making new discoveries. "

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"The superintelligence of human beings, however, is something else. Its capacity for making associations leads to unlimited fantasy and allows even speculation about the future. But that leads to a fundamental problem: animals fall asleep after a good meal or feel relieved after escaping a predator, but humans lose their ability fully to enjoy the present happiness because of anxiety over whether they will find food tomorrow or escape next time. And they do so on every possible occasion. Will our children grow happily? Will I pass my exam? Will I see her again?

What will happen when I die? For humans, instant animal anger and joy turn into endless fear and longing. Because mental events can strongly influence neuro-endocrinological functioning (and vice versa), humans become uncertain and are prone to depression.

Religious belief, in my opinion, is a human behaviour devised as a solution to this problem. [Yes!] [see 196-197: Wilson]

Logically one can do two things: [1] try to solve the problems caused by our excess ability to make associations by more thinking and by constructing thoughts or theories that bring relief, [2] or try [more "memetic" action] to stop thinking (which is very difficult). The first [and second] solution gives rise to ideas that Richard Dawkins has called 'memes'--thought constructions that endow an individual with certainty about its own fate. "

"Another interesting meme, which could be regarded as co-evolving with religion, is anthropocentrism. That is a meme because it provides an individual with self-confirmation by the assurance that he/she belongs to a superb (divine) species. [compare words in book title, 181: Uniquely Human, "Selfless"].

To be fair, one should then ask whether science is a meme. "

"The nonmemetic way [via memes] to tackle the problem is to stop thinking. No one wants to eliminate the other root of the problem (feelings), because emotion developed earlier and is more essential to our functioning. Elimination of mental activity allows us to reach directly the state of animal happiness. Again, two major approaches can be distinguished.

Buddhism (generally not considered a religion, pace Josephson1), is one technique. Meditation can produce a happy feeling of unawareness, the not-knowing state of animals.

Materialistic nonmemetic solutions become possible in societies of plenty. People try to stop thinking by emphasizing the essential (animal) needs: they try to stimulate their pleasure centres directly with all kinds of chemicals or they try to experience joy through evolutionary channels by exaggerated feeding, sexual or self-confirmation behaviour.

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All of this is only a hypothesis, but one that allows the interdisciplinary scientific study of human behaviour, including religion. It might give us an opportunity to approach very different kinds of human behaviour (from killing for ideas to driving cars that are too big) with a single key: we are doing all of this because evolution made us naturally unhappy organisms, struggling with the emotional consequences of our excess of associative capacity. " [290] [End of article].

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from: Edward O. Wilson, Sociobiology, The New Synthesis, Harvard U., 1977 (1975).

'It is a reasonable hypothesis that magic and totemism constituted direct adaptations to the environment and preceded formal religion in social evolution. Sacred traditions occur almost universally in human societies. So do myths that explain the origin of man or at the very least the relation of the tribe to the rest of the world. But belief in high gods is not universal. Among 81 hunter-gatherer societies surveyed by Whiting (1968), only 28, or 35 percent, included high gods in their sacred traditions. The concept of an active, moral God who created the world is even less widespread. Furthermore, this concept most commonly arises with a pastoral way of life. The greater [continues after Table 27-3, on 197]

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Table 27-3 The religious beliefs of 66 agrarian [agriculture involves the plow] societies, partitioned according to the percentage of subsistence derived from herding. (From Human Societies [a "Must See" book (see also, later editions)] by G. and Jean Lenski.


Percentage of subsistence from herding Percentage of societies believing in an active, moral creator God Number of societies

36-45

92

13

26-35

82

28

16-25

40

20

6-15

20

5

the dependence on herding, the more likely the belief in a shepherd god of the Judaeo-Christian model (see Table 27-3). In other kinds of societies the belief occurs in 10 percent or less of the cases. Also, the God of monotheistic religions is always male. This strong patriarchal tendency has several cultural sources (Lenski, 1970). Pastoral societies are highly mobile, tightly organized, and often militant, all features that tip the balance toward male authority. It is also significant that herding, the main economic base, is primarily the responsibility of men. Because the Hebrews were originally a herding people, the Bible describes God as a shepherd and the chosen people as his sheep [that simple (anthropocentrism [anthropomorphism]!)!].'

[560-561].

"religions, like other human institutions, evolve so as to further the welfare of their practitioners. " [561]. [Yes!] [see 194-196: Vaneechoutte].

"The enduring paradox of religion is that so much of its substance is demonstrably false, yet it remains a driving force in all societies. Men would rather believe than know, have the void as purpose, as Nietzsche said, than be void of purpose. " [561].

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from: Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins, New Edition, Oxford, 1989 (c1976).

["Why are people?"] "Living organisms had existed on earth, without ever knowing why, for over three thousand million years before the truth finally dawned on one of them. His name was Charles Darwin [1809 - 1882]. To be fair, others had had inklings of the truth, but it was Darwin who first put together a coherent and tenable account of why we exist. Darwin made it possible for us to give a sensible answer to the curious child whose question heads this chapter. We no longer have to resort to superstition when faced with the deep problems: Is there a meaning to life? What are we for? What is man? After posing the last of these questions, the eminent zoologist G.G. Simpson put it thus: 'The point I want to make now is that all attempts to answer that question before 1859 ["Darwin, C.R. (1859) The Origin of Species. London: John Murray. "] are worthless and that we will be better off if we ignore them completely.'*" ["1"].

[Endnote] "p. I...all attempts to answer that question before 1859 are worthless...

Some people, even non-religious people, have taken offence at the quotation from Simpson. I agree that, when you first read it, it sounds terribly philistine and gauche and intolerant, a bit like Henry Ford's 'History is more or less bunk'. But, religious answers apart (I am familiar with them; save your stamp), when you are actually challenged to think of pre-Darwinian answers to the questions 'What is man?' 'Is there a meaning to life?' 'What are we for?', can you, as a matter of fact, think of any that are not now worthless except for their (considerable) historic interest? There is such a thing as being just plain wrong, and that is what, before 1859, all answers to those questions were. " ["267"].

"The argument of this book is that we, and all other animals, are machines created by our genes. " [2].

"Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to. " [3].

"at the gene level, altruism must be bad and selfishness good. This follows inexorably from our definitions of altruism and selfishness. Genes are competing directly with their alleles for survival, since their alleles in the gene pool are rivals for their slot on the chromosomes of future generations. Any gene that behaves in such a way as to increase its own survival chances in the gene pool at the expense of its alleles will, by definition, tautologously, tend to survive. The gene is the basic unit of selfishness. " [36].

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"We have the power to defy the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination. We can even discuss ways of deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism--something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world. We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.*" [200-201].

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from: Uniquely Human (see 181-182):

"The development of human culture, of which moral sense is arguably the highest form, has obviously progressed in the last 100,000 years. We can see progress in the last century. Slavery has been almost universally outlawed; torture is concealed by most governments because it is now considered unacceptable and abhorrent. However, it is also obvious that our moral development is imperfect. Although we have populated and changed the continents, harnessed the forces of nature, and subjugated every other form of life, we have not conquered ourselves. The remnants of the primitive brains within ourselves still generate the rage, anger, and violence that dominate human affairs. If these behavioral attributes--altruism, empathy, and moral sense--are markers of fully modern human beings, then it is apparent that this aspect of our potential is still incomplete. Our only hope is to use our unique evolutionary heritage--the powers of human language and human thought--in the service of selfless behavior and moral sense. " [172] [End of text].

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