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Getting On : Faith

Cultural Atheisim/ God as a four letter word

from xhrisl - Thursday, October 24, 2002
accessed 4440 times

Lilith, Adams first wife, God as a hermaphrodite, reincarnation, ritualistic cannibalism, and other stuff that you wouldn't know was part of the early Christian canon of belief.

I'm what might best be defined as a cultural atheist. Lets face, it all religion is pretty weird at best.
Those of us raised within TF have had an interesting indoctrination in a specialized view of Christianity, and I use the word Christianity loosely.
For starters the Christian faith is a religion propagated by the belief that the end of the world is at hand, this justifies the ability of the religion to throw out its own history, thereby reinventing itself continuously and at the same time allows it to throw out the mistakes of the past and get on with the business of redeeming the lost in a final effort to proselytize the rest of the world.
The philosophy of the Christian faith may best be explained with the catch phrase "Jesus is coming, hurry up and look busy."
The Christian theological canon is continuously revised to keep the religion alive and vital for each successive generation. A few examples of this revitalization of the faith are Lilith (Adam’s first wife), and the doctrine of reincarnation.
Let me explain, firstly one must understand that the Christian faith stems from Judaism, which in turn takes much from Assyrian and Babylonian religious history as well as early Egyptian forms of worship. If one was to go back further, one could trace these belief systems to Sumerian culture and ultimately to Paleolithic man. But alas I digress... the point is that in order to understand a religion, or a belief structure one must start as close to the source as one can. However for the examples mentioned above one need only look as far back as the Judaic mystical tradition.

The History of Lilith and the First Creation Myth:
Lilith is mentioned in Isaiah 34:14 yet is strangely lacking from other biblical texts, however she is the most important femme fatale of Jewish lore. The legend of Lilith is tied closely with the Judeo/Christian creation myth and also with the gender/sex of God. In Genesis we have God say "let us create man in our image, (god plural, man singular) in the image of God created he them (god singular man plural) male and female created he them, in the image of god created he them (god singular man plural). Therefore according to Jewish legend God creates Adam and Lilith from the same dust of the earth and at the same time. Now follow closely because this is where it starts to get confusing, and where the debate rages even with scholars of the Torah, as there are two accounts of the creation.
In the first creation story Adam and Lilith are created from the same dust and they are equal. When the time comes to engage in coitus and fulfill the first commandment, Lilith demands that she be allowed to straddle Adam and be on top, a proposition that Adam vehemently refuses, in response to which Lilith curses Adam and his seed and vows to steal the seed of mankind forever (Lilith is blamed for all nocturnal emissions, aka wet dreams). It is at this point that God sees Adam is alone and decides that it is not good for him to be alone and creates Eve from his body as a servant and helpmeet to him. Eve in turn bears Adams children and raises them along with the children of Lilith who has since left Adam. A story is told of the fate of Liliths' children in which when God walked through the garden in the evening, as was customary, that all were gathered to greet him. God asked of Eve; "are these all?" to which Eve having hidden the children of Lilith out of jealousy and spite, (it is assumed that Lilith and her children far surpassed Eve and her offspring with their beauty being created first by God) replied "yes, these are all" to which God knowing Eve’s lie replied "then let those that are hidden remain hidden." And so it was that the children of Lilith eventually through folklore and mystic tradition became what western culture defined as the Faerie, (large immortals with attributes of fair skin, pointed ears, and wisdom) Fairy, (small impish but generally harmless) Wood nymphs, etc. Lilith is a highly sexualized creature and the seeds of Liliths other copulations after leaving Adam are with rebellious angels and are believed to have be the demons and goblins of the nether world as well as this one.
Lilith is found today primarily in Jewish folklore, although C.S. Lewis makes reference to her in the Chronicles of Narnia. She is dropped out of the canon of Christian religion and mythology around the 17th century. Prior to that medieval artists pictured her extensively as a black dog with her demon companion, also a black dog. She is generally found in the background of paintings and one can see her depictions in many of the works of Hermonyous Bosh.

The Second Creation Myth:
We have once again the grammatical incongruities of God as both singular and plural and man as the same the debate arises as to the gender/sex of God because of the language used in describing how and when God...caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and took one of his ribs. The incongruity of the translations from Hebrew to Greek and latter to Latin and then English leaves much in question. This is especially true for certain scholars of the Torah as the original Hebrew uses a word altogether different from what the Greek and latter the English translated as "rib", when in fact the Hebrew translation seems to most closely mean "side of man." This for scholars of the Torah fits well with the seeming confusion regarding how God and man are both singular and plural, male and female at the time of the creation. And also explains how Judaism and Christianity monotheist faiths hold to the belief that "the lords our gods, are one God" (original translation).
This belief in the hermaphroditic properties of divine being is evidenced throughout history and is found in the Greek god hermaphrodites, later known to the Romans as Mercury. It is also of interest that biology presents this side of evolution in nature with population groups within species that are heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, bisexual, and hermaphroditic, attesting to the fact that there are many variations of sex and gender.

A point of interest that many are unaware of and which I found to be just another example of the use of religion as a tool for subjugating the masses is reincarnation.
Jewish mystical tradition and Buddhism share a similar belief in reincarnation. This belief was incorporated into Christianity as well, but was latter dropped from the Christian canon of belief at about 1600 A.D. with the formulation of the Bible as we know it today by Nicean Council. This council’s task was to gather all the various writings that had been preserved to the present and to bind them into one book (aka The Bible). However at the time of the counsel the Holy Roman Empire had been split in two and Christendom was divided between the Holy Roman Empire out of Rome, and the Holy Byzantine Empire out of Constantinople. There were also political and personal ego issues at stake, and the end result was that the majority of the writings that were held in Constantinople were not included in what became known as the Bible and hence the doctrine of reincarnation was lost. This was not seen as a great loss however as the writtings of St. Paul propagated the notion that "it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the Judgment." Such teachings gave credence to the subjugation of converts through the doctrine spread by the church that since you only get one shot at this life, one must live it in accordance with church doctrine or face everlasting damnation.

Modifications Continue.
Latter in Christian religious history Martin Luther at the time of the Reformation breaks away from the Catholic Church and drops another four books from the Bible, these are known as the Books of the Apocrypha and are still found in Catholic Bibles.
Yet another example of how this modification of belief occurs over time is the Mormon doctrine of alcohol as a sinful substance. With regard to the early cultural history of the United States and to the population segment from which the Rev. Joseph Smith recruited his early following, these being mostly working laborers and many of them illiterate no less, coupled with Smith’s own distaste for alcohol, led to the Mormon Church’s' discounting/denial of the first miracle of Christ in Canna of Galilee where he turns the water into wine. And if you ask a Mormon today about this they will insist that the Latin word "vino" really means grape juice.
I find this personally to be wonderfully akin to the way that new religious movements such as TF modify a belief structure to accommodate personal directives.

And You Thought Other Religions were Weird.
I have oft heard Christians criticize peoples of other faiths as pagan, and yet Christianity itself holds some rather bizarre practices. For instance the Holy Sacrament (otherwise known as Communion) is nothing more that the symbolic ritualistic act of cannibalism, wherein one eats the body and drinks the blood of the redeemer to gain power over death.
Other examples as to the bizarre nature of God can be found in the creatures and angels found with great descriptive detail in the book of Revelations. Beasts that guard the throne of God etc, and you thought Shiva the Indian God was weird?

Well those are some of my thoughts...
As far as personal beliefs...
I hope to come back around a few more times, as a man, as a woman, as black and as white, why not? If I'm going to develop into a mature soul or consciousness doesn’t it make sense that one would need to experience life from every possible aspect?
In my next life I'm going to try to come back as a tall, leggy blonde. Until then I'm going to keep striving for new experiences.
Until then I remain a cultural atheist ascribing to no particular religious faith or ideology, and I might add without fear of death....
And so in closing, I have just one thing that I like to say to all those people who preach, especially the "Zerby Bunch" and you can say it too...
"Why don't you take you idea of God and shove it up your ass, cause if you keep preaching I'm gonna send you where you can find out!"

As to the nature of Life and Death, well all I can say is "you'll find out when you’re dead!"

Xhris is a former Soldier, a Student of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona.
Materials used in reference for this article:
The Battle For God
God: A Brief History
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality
A Field Guide to Demons.

Reader's comments on this article

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from PompousJohn
Wednesday, November 20, 2002 - 08:36

Excellent article man, really interesting read. I'm gonna read the books you mentioned.
(reply to this comment)
from smittyfan78
Tuesday, November 19, 2002 - 17:41

You said:

"For starters the Christian faith is a religion propagated by the belief that the end of the world is at hand, this justifies the ability of the religion to throw out its own history, thereby reinventing itself continuously and at the same time allows it to throw out the mistakes of the past and get on with the business of redeeming the lost in a final effort to proselytize the rest of the world."

That isn't true, the majority of Christians don't adhere to the belief in the 'endtime', or that the end of the world is at hand.
This is a belief that is propagated by certain fundamentalist & evangelical christians.
The Catholic Church rejects these fallacies. We also cling to our history & tradition very closely, we don't 'throw it out'....
We certainly don't 'reinvent' ourselves either.
It's important to look at Christianity as a whole, not just a few so called christian groups, & use them as your supposed definition of Christianity.
Thanks, Andreas.

(reply to this comment)
From xhrisl
Wednesday, November 20, 2002, 02:10

Nevertheless, Christianity is based on the premise of the reserction of the dead and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth---two key tenents of this issue are the of the rise of the antichrist and the end of the world.
With regards to Catholosisim, your right the Catholic Church does not throw out belifs the mearly kill the messenger or have we forgoten the inquizition and the reformation? Notwithstanding, Catholsisim is a wonderful belif structure and should I ever desire to become a priest they would be first on my list of organization to look into. However, I do recomend that you take a more in depth look at your religion, perhaps talk to you Priest as he has no doubt been thru extensive training (usually 6-8 years of semminary)and he might enlighten you on the inconcruencies within the faith itself. Most theologians and phillosophers will tell you that with all the contidictions, myths and fallaceis inherent within religion it is not the belief in the religiion itself, yet rather the importance of having a belief in that which is unknown and unassertainable with provides the spiritual comfort which most individuals seek. Otherwise, welcome to the rest of humanity---we all find out when we're dead.(reply to this comment
From PompousJohn
Wednesday, November 20, 2002, 08:18

dude...spellcheck....(reply to this comment
From xhrisl
Thursday, November 21, 2002, 01:28

yes I noticed it after the post lol.(reply to this comment
from Tae Kwan Do
Monday, October 28, 2002 - 06:46

Be that as it may the human mind needs a spiritual component. Mind, body, and spirit--unless you are completely apelike. Get it. Without a metaphysical option you are likely to go really off--like dear Flannigan, remember "on again, off again, Flannigan."

Read Nietzsche and get back to me on this. Okay? Don't be too rational or you'll miss all the fun! Believe me on this!
(reply to this comment)
from tommyknocker
Saturday, October 26, 2002 - 10:17

I'm by no means an authority on this subject but I have read a little on the subject. Something interesting I remembered reading a while back:

Eliezer Segal's Critique of the Alphabet as a Lilith source.

Looking for Lilith(*)
The feminist critique of conventional values has not overlooked the Jewish tradition. Whether or not one acknowledges the validity of all the charges that have been leveled against the treatment of women in Jewish law and theology, it is hardly possible to ignore these issues.
As one who is normally sympathetic with feminist aspirations, I have often been disappointed with the scholarly standards of the debate, especially when it has been directed towards the classical texts of Judaism. In the course of polemical ideological exchanges, I find too frequently that sweeping generalizations are being supported by flimsy or questionable evidence, with a disturbing disregard for factual accuracy and historical context.

As an example of this sort of scholarly sloppiness, I wish to discuss an intriguing Hebrew legend that has found its way into dozens of recent works about Jewish attitudes towards women.

The legend in question was inspired by the Bible's dual accounts of the creation of the first woman, which led its author to the conclusion that Adam had a first wife before his marriage to Eve. Adam's original mate was the demonic Lilith who had been fashioned, just like her male counterpart, from the dust of the earth. Lilith insisted from the outset on equal treatment, a fact which caused constant friction between the couple. Eventually the frustrated Lilith used her magical powers to fly away from her spouse. At Adam's urging, God dispatched three angels to negotiate her return. When these angels made threats against Lilith's demonic descendants, she countered that she would prey eternally upon newborn human babies, who could be saved only by invoking the protection of the three angels. In the end Lilith stood her ground and never returned to her husband.

The story implies that when Eve was afterwards fashioned out of Adam's rib (symbolic of her subjection to him), this was to serve as an antidote to Lilith's short-lived attempt at egalitarianism. Here, declare the feminists matronizingly, we have a clear statement of the Rabbinic Attitude Towards Women!

There is only one slight problem with this theory: The story of Lilith is not actually found in any authentic Rabbinic tradition. Although it is repeatedly cited as a "Rabbinic legend" or a "midrash," it is not recorded in any ancient Jewish text!
The tale of Lilith originates in a medieval work called "the Alphabet of Ben-Sira," a work whose relationship to the conventional streams of Judaism is, to say the least, problematic.

The unknown author of this work has filled it with many elements that seem designed to upset the sensibilities of traditional Jews. In particular, the heroes of the Bible and Talmud are frequently portrayed in the most perverse colours. Thus, the book's protagonist, Ben-Sira, is said to have issued from an incestuous union between the prophet Jeremiah and his daughter. Joshua is described as a buffoon too fat to ride a horse. King David comes across as a heartless and spiteful figure who secretly delights in the death of his son Absalom, while putting on a disingenuous public display of grief. The book is consistently sounding the praises of hypocritical and insincere behaviour.

So shocking and abhorrent are some of the contents of "the Alphabet of Ben-Sira" that modern scholars have been at a loss to explain why anyone would have written such a book. Some see it as an impious digest of risqué folk-tales. Others have suggested that it was a polemical broadside aimed at Christians, Karaites, or some other opposing movement. I personally would not rule out the possibility that it was actually an anti-Jewish satire--though, to be sure, it did come to be accepted by the Jewish mystics of medieval Germany; and amulets to fend off the vengeful Lilith became an essential protection for newborn infants in many Jewish communities.

Eventually the tale of Lilith was included in a popular English-language compendium of Rabbinic legend, and some uncritical readers--unable or unwilling to check after the editor's sources--cited it as a representative Rabbinic statement on the topic. As tends to happen in such instances, subsequent authors kept copying from one another until the original error turned into an unchallenged historical fact.

Certainly there are volumes of real texts and traditions that could benefit from a searching and critical feminist analysis, and it is a shame to focus so much intellectual energy on a dubious and uncharacteristic legend of this sort.

(*)First publication: JFP Feb. 6 1995.


J. Dan, The Hebrew Story in the Middle Ages, Jerusalem, 1974.

J. D. Eisenstadt, ed., Ozar Midrashim, Israel, n.d.

(reply to this comment)
From xhrisl
Tuesday, October 29, 2002, 02:01

I must agree with you on the befudlement surrounding the Lilith issue. Much like the creation myth and the descrepances found in it so too dose the Lilith myth present one with all sorts of quandries as to it's validity and origin. With regard to origin however we would do well to remeber that Both myths steem from oral tradition long before they where ever written down, as far as writtings of Ben-Sira are concerened I place no more validity in his than I do in the first five books of Moses. One must remember however that history is written by the winners to discribe their point of view, I merely offer this legened as an alternative variation on a classic tale.(reply to this comment
from ordained minister of what?
Friday, October 25, 2002 - 19:39

the agnostic church of podunkville where no one spells their name correctly?
(reply to this comment)
From xhrisl
Saturday, October 26, 2002, 03:34

I'm glad to see that this article has disrupted the equalibrium of your theologocal mind set. I last studied under an Anglican Bishop whose best friend was a Rabi. I asked him one day how he maintained his faith having devoted his life to studying the incongruencies within his own faith, to which he replied "Faith is a highly subjunctive personal belief systeem. One finds central to all religious beleif systems the premise to to unto your neighbor as you would have done unto oneself, aside from this the rest is all tradition and myth, in the end one choses a belief systeem that best matches ones own concepts of God."
The great trajedy of religious beleif lies within the fundamentalist adhearance to the traditions of those beleifs and the willingness to kill others who do not share ones own personal ideas as to the nature of God. This is attested to by the historical fact that more people have been killed in the name of God than for any other cause in history.(reply to this comment
from Interesting analysis, but shite conclusions
Friday, October 25, 2002 - 14:47


(reply to this comment)
from faeriraven
Friday, October 25, 2002 - 09:42

Now that was enjoyable reading! Thanks for that! Look forward to hearing more soon.
(reply to this comment)
from porceleindoll
Friday, October 25, 2002 - 00:23

That really was interesting. You seem to have put a lot of thought and time into this subject. Have you ever read 'the power of myth' by Joseph Campbell? I am finding it quite interesting.
(reply to this comment)
From xhrisl
Saturday, October 26, 2002, 03:37

Not yet, but it's on my list. Thanks :)
(reply to this comment
from fascinated
Thursday, October 24, 2002 - 22:11

Thanks for this article, it was very informative. Have you read Moses and Monotheism by Freud?
(reply to this comment)
From xhrisl
Saturday, October 26, 2002, 03:41

Yes I have, and thanks. Also of intrest are the writtings of Carl Junge and his analysis of myth and the collective unconcious, an idea which is attributed originally to the Jewish mystial tradition.(reply to this comment
from .
Thursday, October 24, 2002 - 16:51

Hi, xhrisl
I've really enjoyed reading this. I'm currently deciding what I want to study & mayor in.
One of my options is Psychology & I'm interested in studying people's present reactions & behaivors influenced by culture, folcklore, & history & religion & how they vary when there's a culture or racial mix, as well as similiarities between people with same racial or cultural mixture. So all this was really interesting to read..
(reply to this comment)
from BabaYaga
Thursday, October 24, 2002 - 16:19

Now that was good. Thank you.
(reply to this comment)

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