There are many perplexing questions presented in the Bible. Trying to find the answers to questions that come up in life is often difficult. Clerical opinions differ only slightly depending upon the tilt toward orthodoxy or modernist practicality (also known as heresy to the orthodox). It is the same in all the Abrahamic religions. The struggle between faith and reason is a constant effort.
This has prompted many people to try to cross examine the Bible in order to determine where the most appropriate answers may be found as well as what those answers really are. Forensic cross examination is a tried and true way to find truths mired in large amounts of often seemingly contradictory information.
One of the more contentious issues is about the role and treatment of women. The easiest to find answers seem to support an agenda of misogyny. Women seem, at first reading, to be placed in a subordinate position to males at every turn and in every imaginable situation. Forensic cross examination, however, involves delving into facts that may tend to explain the motives for positions taken as well as absolute insistence upon the infallibility of those positions.
This inquiry seeks to find more reliable support for the contention that misogyny is/is not an intended absolute mandate by God him/her self. Yes, divine gender is a related issue in this search for reliability.
This assessment begins with a major premise that God represents ultimate divine intellect. God is all knowing, understands everything at a level of acuity far above that of humanity. God does not do or say stupid things. The other position, of course, would be that God is in fact error prone, and we should accept on faith whatever God says no matter how much it may conflict with our own standards of logic or rationality. Therefore, we are required by God to be as stupid as God is.
I reject any notion that God is stupid or ignorant. I long ago satisfied myself through forensic cross examination of biblical texts that God is indeed the ultimate intellect, all knowing and free from error. Moreover, I did not have to accept anything on faith to get to that point. I got there by applying very cynical, aggressive cross examination. I am a trial lawyer with 53 years’ experience. I know how to cross examine everything. I don’t "believe" that God is real and the ultimate intelligence in any and every universe. I know that to be true. Ironically, all the sacred texts of all three Abrahamic religions agree with me on that point. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all affirmatively and unequivocally state that God is all knowing, the ultimate divine intellect.
However, in the Old Testament, right in the beginning, woman is blamed for causing man to acquire secular knowledge. That is the meaning of the forbidden fruit, the end of innocence. Parsing that, one would conclude that Genesis claims God intends humanity to remain ever ignorant, dependent upon being provided for in some idyllic garden. It takes no stretch of logic to appreciate that God the divine intellect did not create us to be ignorant. Why would God place so much richness of opportunity that requires the acquisition of knowledge in order to use it? From the wheel to the space rocket, secular knowledge is requisite for progress.
When reading of the beginning of the world we are reading a poetic "story", not a history. The beginning of Genesis is full of Symbology that absolutists miss through oversimplification and lack of perceptiveness. Consider, if you will, the following.
The Symbology of light is enlightenment, knowledge, experience. The best knowledge is that which comes from experience, for it is first hand knowledge. Bringing about light to replace darkness has always been used in the art of the written word to signify movement from ignorance to wisdom. The tree of life and eating from it symbolize human experience, not real fruit. Actually, the fruit is – in the context of this passage – secular knowledge, which comes from experience. It is intended by God/Allah that humanity develop through a process of experience. There is no other logical explanation of the story. No sentient person could ever believe that we were intended to remain forever ignorant. Yet absolutists/orthodox claim that the experience of Adam and Eve was a sin. The absurdity of that contention is compelling.
The obvious sensible answer is that God did not punish anyone for acquiring knowledge. Religious institutions prefer mind control through advocating ignorance, forbidding categories of study. Orthodox rabbis and the Catholic church have all had their "index" of forbidden literature that include far more useful knowledge and go way beyond pornography. But God can never be seen to promote ignorance. Inquiry is the essence of progress and that requires the constant study of everything.
The bottom line is, therefore, that much of what we see in the bible was placed there by "leaders" with an axe to grind, a pernicious agenda. That they claim God to have blamed woman for causing man to commit the great sin of acquiring secular knowledge reveals the stupidity of the agenda. For this "sin" woman is condemned to endure an eternal state of submission to man and to endure pain in childbirth. You can’t get much dumber than that. Throughout the bible, old and new testaments, one finds the denigration of women. Woman is to remain silent in church. Woman is subordinate to man and must obey man as man must obey God. Man is head of the family just as Christ is head of the church. Utter nonsense!
One may easily find misogyny in the cultures of those who wrote the bible. It is obviously the inclusion of those social practices and their attribution to God to provide divine imprimatur that lies at the bottom of this agenda being promoted in the sacred texts.
Similar limitations abound with respect to the intermixing of cultures. In the first four chapters of the book of Judges the Israelites are supposedly to "put to the sword" every man, woman and child of each place in the "promised" land to prevent cultural mixing. Where that did not happen, the Israelites are stated to have been severely punished for non compliance. Marrying someone from another culture is denounced as "whoredom". All women doing anything disapproved of by the religious establishment are labeled whores in the Bible. To prevent any notion that Jesus may have had a serious relationship with Mary of Megiddo (Magdalene), she is referred to as a harlot. There are actually three dimensions of Jesus. There is the theological Jesus, the historical Jesus and the political Jesus. The study of the historical Jesus strongly suggests that they were in fact husband and wife and had a child together. But the theological agenda to portray Jesus as God incarnate in the mind of the religious leaders requires that he remain forever celibate.
Jesus regularly refers to himself in the Bible as the "son of man". Referring also to God as his father. In Romans it is said that they are the sons of God who do the will of God. There is a similar passage in the Quran. One of the apparent contradictions of biblical fairytaleism is, obviously, if Jesus is God’s son, then God must be married. Otherwise Jesus’ status of earthly legitimacy is brought into question. I know. There are different rules for God. God makes the rules "in earth as it is in heaven". When one considers that the convenience of making God male without consideration of the gender limitations that would impose upon God as a person creates logical inconsistencies that defy resolution via "there are different rules for God". God either is or S/He is not. Which is it to be? I know. According to the mythology of God, He can do whatever he pleases and who are we to question. Do as I tell you and not as I do, right? Oh well.
Fabrications to fit agendas abound in the Bible. According to the Bible, men may have as many women as they like as long as they are called wives. Woman, on the other hand are confined in their circle of intimacy to only one man who may at his discretion throw her out simply by saying "I divorce you". Does that sound like something that came from the divine intellect?
If one applies simple common sense to the bible, it is easily and reliably apparent that our Creator does in fact intend us to use productively everything placed here for our progress, development and betterment. In fact, productivity in a secular sense is requisite if one is to credit Matthew 25:15-48. "Us" includes everyone, not just males. Simple common sense compels the conclusion that God did not order anyone to slaughter anyone else, although societies tolerate slaughter on a continuing basis. Tolerating slaughter does not exonerate it. It is what it is.
To be sure, slaughter is an expectable consequence of over population and the desire to impose hegemony upon others and their land. When we want what belongs to/is inhabited by others, we simply go and take it. That is the way of nature at every level, and it applies to every aspect of life, not just territory. Evolution is the process of the survival of the strongest and the demise of the weakest. In that way species are improved over time and better cope with the necessities of progress. Those who are slower to improve, animal or human, are consumed. It is logically, if not morally, absurd to castigate aggression.
Aggression can only occur, and always does occur against a perceived weaker group. An example of how incredibly important this lesson is would be the experience of the Jews in Europe in the early 20th century. Slaughtered by their stronger enemies and devoid of the abilities to resist, they established a Jewish state and produced an incredibly capable army. Unfortunately, that is how most lessons of life are learned, through catastrophe. Productivity is not just learning without effective application of learned subjects. Productivity at the scale of human usefulness requires ability and commitment.
Everyone familiar with human history appreciates that a very strong military resource is absolutely essential to any nation’s survival.
There is no one alive today who does not know – though many refuse to admit it – that women are in many instances as intelligent as men and even more so. They are leaders in science as well as in social and political matters. Who could rationally suggest that Marie Curie was not the equal of a man, or that Florence Nightingale was not a great leader upon whom so many injured men depended for aid and for their survival in many instances? Who could deny the leadership of Clara Barton or of Harriet Tubman? The list is endless. There cannot in any logical construct be any rule that intelligent women are in any way inferior to any man. That such a notion appears in theological texts is evidence that social custom of the people who wrote the Bible were inserted to make them appear, falsely, to enjoy divine imprimatur.
Would Mrs. God ever allow her husband to publish such nonsense?
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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