Sunday, September 02, 2007

ATHEISTS: CHRISTIANS in drag?

In many ways, Western Atheists are simply Christians in sheep’s clothing. What’s more, unless and until Atheists get retrained, they’ll always remain simply Christians in drag.

Just like YAJites Atheists think Mother Earth is mostly something to be cut apart, dissected and conquered.

Just like YAJites they think Mother Earth is inert.

Just like YAJites, when their plane’s about to crash they look up to heaven and pray “Dear God, help me.”

Just like YAJites, on their death beds many look up and pray, “Dear God, help me.”

Just like YAJites they think humor and spirituality have no connection.

Just like YAJites many don’t do well with sexuality.

Just like YAJites they think sexuality has nothing to do with spirituality.

Just like YAJites many are out of touch with their bodies.

Just like YAJites many spend very little time enjoying their senses, sensual things, sitting in and listening to nature, or sitting on and listening to earth.

Just like YAJites many think those who don’t do things “our” way are fair game for colonization.

Just like YAJites most are closet snooty snobs who think people can be set out on a ladder of good, better, best and utterly worthless (they might use different scales to judge people than YAJites do; one for example would be IQ).

Just like YAJites many think it’s only the natural order that some are poor, others not.

Although I could go on and on, I have other things to get done today. But bless their hearts, atheists all need a big hug.
_____________
thnx, Bitter Bettie, for the foto

17 comments:

BBC said...

Just like YAJites they think sexuality has nothing to do with spirituality.

I have no idea what a YAJite is, but this is a very good post, you think like I do.

Sexuality has everything to do with spirituality !! That is why I'm alone, just try to find a woman that is so spiritual that she can look into your eyes as the spirits use the human bodies to sex each other with.

I think that I have to accept that my spiritual soul mate is not to be found. She either died or society has brainwashed her to the point to where she doesn’t recognize herself. And I must accept this and the fact that I will live alone for the rest of my life.

Well, have a nice day, hugs.

Athana said...

bbc, check out the last comment you made; I defined YAJite for you specifically at that point. YAJ is the God YahwehAllahJehovah. Although many split YAJ into three different gods, he's really just the same dude -- the god of Abraham. And he says and does mostly the same stuff in the BibleKoranTalmud.

Athana said...

bbc, excuse, but you seem focused on what others need to be in a sexual relationship.

If you yourself work to become a superior spiritual sexual partner, then I'm thinking it might help your partners become the same.

Do you think that you yourself have risen to become "so spiritual that" you "can look into [her] eyes as the spirits use the human bodies to sex each other with"?

Anti-thesisofreason said...

Another thing I've noticed about Atheists is they proselytize with the same vigor as Yajites do. Here is an actual quote from and atheist I have had conversation with on a message board:
"I used to date a girl some 20 years ago and we are still great friends who has 'psychic' messages. She is a very lovely, honest girl but I simply don't believe the thoughts that come into her head are supernatural. Do I think she is delibrately deceiving ?- no I don't, I simply think she is mistaken in understaning what is going on inside her brain."

The last line about mistaken understanding sounds like a standard fundie line to me.
Throw in some concern for the soul and the temptations of Satan and there is some pretty standard proselytizing going on.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Having been an Atheist myself, I think I can agree with antithesis of reason about the proselytizing.

If you take a strict materialist view of the world and everything in it, it becomes very easy to affirm your own righteousness and everybody else's wrongness.
It's pretty much the same with evangelical and fundie christians.

Love,
Terri in Joburg

Athana said...

As long as you're not hurting anyone it's okay to believe what you want. But most state religions hurt people very, very badly. And because Atheists mimic them (proselytizing being just one more example of it), they hurt us too.

BBC said...

bbc, excuse, but you seem focused on what others need to be in a sexual relationship.

If you yourself work to become a superior spiritual sexual partner, then I'm thinking it might help your partners become the same.


I do, at least what 'she' needs to be to me. But if she can't become the same it isn't going to go anywhere. I don't do that human/monkey sex anymore.

Not that I didn't enjoy a lot of it in the past. But now I need more than that. But every woman I meet is just, well, human.

On any given day I'm just like everyone else, on the surface, but my spiritual side is never more than a thought away.

Morgaine said...

Another thing that always surprises me about atheists is how ANGRY they are - they can get down right nasty to religious people who are being perfectly civil.

The patriarchal big daddy death cult is deeply indoctrinated into most people in our culture no matter what they profess to believe. Use the phrase "Christian mythology" and watch their heads spin. Capitalizing Goddess has a similar, but less dramatic effect.

Athana said...

You are so on the mark, morgaine, and you put it so well -- "The patriarchal big daddy death cult is deeply indoctrinated into most people in our culture no matter what they profess to believe."

This is something that bears repeating over and over, because most people just don't see it or get it. In the West at least, and the Near East, the Abrahamaic religions are so deeply intertwined into our cultures that they've cannibalized parts of them.

Phillip said...

Hmm an interesting take on the situation, but as a relatively hard-core atheist I feel I must disagree.
It seems to me that you are engaged in just the same kind of inter-religious competition and real-politik that characterises the arguments of your (apparently inherently) evil Abrahamic religions. Just like they, you see your opponent as totally void of 'real' spirituality, and your conflation of atheism and, say evangelical Christianity, seems to rest mostly upon the fact that they both disagree with your concept of spirituality. Your list of points comparing the two are quite simply ridiculous, being mostly meaningless generalisations. For example take "Just like YAJites many think it’s only the natural order that some are poor, others not" - as a matter of historical record, it has been the atheists and the materialists of history who have been the revolutionaries, the anarchists and the radical defenders of human rights (i.e Marx, Bukharin, Kropotkin, etc), not the protectors of goddess traditions handed down through the ages, nor the village wisepeople. Most, if not all of the early figures of Wicca (such as Gerald Gardner) were card-carrying Tories - religiously heterodox but political conservative, and the 'pagans' and 'neo-pagans' of the twentieth century more quickly embraced fascist-type ideologies than they did any cause for life or freedom. Only with and after the critique of religion by such materialists and humanists, did it become clear that elements of religious morality were not terribly enlightened. The morality of your spiritual position is not something given to you by a spiritual reflection, rather it is the end result of a long reassessment of morality brought about by generally anti-religious moral and political philosophy. This 'Humanism' forms the moral background upon which you erect your philosophy - a philosophy deriving not from an otherworldly realm but from a humanistic moral culture. The backbone of this critique was the realisation that by venerating a spiritual reality distinct and independent of human beings (i.e not a creation by them), this relationship is inherently tyrannical since it ultimately locates all truth and meaning not in the creation by the human person as such but in something 'greater' - the end result being the hierarchies you rightly detest. We atheists put forward the radical and dangerous idea that all these religious realties are (like say capitalism or hierarchy for instance) our own creations, and you are like a latter-day capitalist in arguing that the religious (the supernatural/spirituality etc) is simply a 'natural' state of the human species - we say instead that religions are artefacts of human culture and imagination.
As a hard-core atheist and critic of Christianity I have no desire to overly glorify it, however the lopsided and biased form of your presentation of Christianity is revealed in how you characterise your opponent. As another matter of historical fact, Christianity for all its failings, was a great progressive step in terms of humane values. The pagan cults that existed at the time of Christianity's origin, were reactionary and fatalistic. They lacked all sense of charity or human worth. If you got sick, you might ask a goddess to heal you, after offering a sacrifice perhaps, but if she didn't, that was that. Whereas Christian communities actively sought to alieviate suffering and distress. The pagan gods and goddesses were callous, selfish and inhumane beings in comparison to even the grouchy god of the Bible. Thus is the reason why Christianity ultimately triumphed, people wanted to be free of pagan fatalism, so they adopted the apocalyptic 'revolutionary faith' of religions like Islam and Christianity - religions that promised an escape through a new and vibrant moral code. People remembered Christian charity and forgot the 'natural order' of the pagan world and beliefs.
As i said, today Christianity is the old order and has been itself critiqued. The end result, a universalistic, secular (i.e not tied to a religious world view for its legitimation - definitely a revolutionary step in human development since previously all moral systems relied upon supernatural underpinnings) and humane moral theme, common now to religious and non-religious alike, is in a way a direct descendant of Christian morality, and very far removed from the pagan beliefs of our ancient/prehistorical ancestors.
Sorry I have ultimately rambled slightly... I hope not too far from the point. My general conclusion is that, as Nietzsche might have said, be careful when fighting monsters, less you begin to resemble one your self. The early Christians wished to "gently" bring the world to Christ, as you do now to the goddess - is there any reason why we should think your religion would be anyless violent?

Athana said...

Phillip, your argument is full of holes. Just one example: you say “For example take ‘Just like YAJites many [Atheists] think it’s only the natural order that some are poor, others not’ - as a matter of historical record, it has been the atheists and the materialists of history who have been the revolutionaries, the anarchists and the radical defenders of human rights (i.e Marx, Bukharin, Kropotkin, etc)…”

You’re mixing apples and oranges. I’m talking about a belief that it’s the natural order that some are poor, and you start talking about who’s helping the poor. I’m not talking about who’s helping the poor. I’m talking about belief systems.

Furthermore I don’t do much with the historical goddesses on this blog, or with pagans who worship pantheons with war gods in them, so I’m flummoxed as to why you persist in talking about Roman and Greek paganism. If you’d read even a little of the blog you’d know this.

Additionally, you ask: “Is there any reason why we should think your religion would be any less violent” than the Abrahamaic and other war-god religions? If you’d read even a few posts here you’d know the answer to this.

It’s fairly obvious you haven’t read much of this blog. Of course it’s a long blog. On the other hand, it seems somewhat odd that you’d be so adamant that a blog is grossly and irrevocably inadequate – before you’ve even read the blog.

Why don’t you read a bit more, though, and then we can talk.

Also it would help if you’d make your writing clearer. Just because you have a few amazing thoughts running through your head doesn’t mean you have the ability to transfer them into our heads by slapping them onto a computer screen and just leaving the poor things there as they came out. Organize your writing a bit. Paragraphs help. Be kind to your readers. Most good paragraphs have between four and eight sentences. Vary your sentences. It’s okay to have 75-word sentences, just throw us a few shorter ones here and there to lighten up the mix.

Phillip said...

My apologies for my last message. I do have the unfortunate habit of forgetting that I am not always supposed to be writing in an academic fashion. Plus I do also tend to write somewhat late into the night, further muting the simplicity of my prose.

With regard to your following statement: "You’re mixing apples and oranges. I’m talking about a belief that it’s the natural order that some are poor, and you start talking about who’s helping the poor. I’m not talking about who’s helping the poor. I’m talking about belief systems." I made no explicit reference to 'helping the poor' as such. I made reference to both the ideas and actions of social reformers and revolutionary activists. In Europe we have a more robust radical tradition with an older pedigree than that of the US, so you may not be aware of the debt we owe to these great thinkers.

Yes, I am also aware that you were talking about 'belief systems' and so am I as far as I find fault with your argument. My criticism is as follows - your construction of alleged 'war god' belief systems and also of atheistic beliefs is both grossly inaccurate and a terrible generalisation without factual reference. I find it impossible to conceive that an academic writer could fashion such a vacuous and unsupported generality.

Your generalisation is vacuous because, as I stated, the historical record shows quite clearly that the great social reformers and revolutionaries of the past (the socialists and anti-capitalists) were by far, exponents of materialistic belief systems (in this regard i cited Marx, Kropotkin, Bukharin but one should also add Gramsci and Luxemburg). I also noted that those exposing early 'neopagan' belief systems, such as Gardner were, while religiously heterodox, politically conservative and reactionary - and certainly saw no contradiction between an earth-centred religion (in his case of both God and Goddess) and conservative politics. Indeed, as your dear opponent R. R. Ruether might point out, people like Gardneer exposed very a narrow/patriarchal conception of sexuality (Gardner thought homosexuality was unnatural and an affront to the natural order of the living world).

I find your following statement interesting: "Furthermore I don’t do much with the historical goddesses on this blog, or with pagans who worship pantheons with war gods in them".

Your somewhat selective reference to the pagan goddesses of the past is deeply problematic. You seem to quite arbitrarily ignore the pagan religious experience of a great chunk of human history, solely because you believe them compromised by the illusion of 'warrior god cults'. But of course, you have to take this line since otherwise you would have to admit that the legitimate spiritual experience of the human species (both male and female) includes war and conflict - in contradiction to your belief that such things have no part in any divine reality - being simply a foreign fraud introduced by evil men who wished to dominate and oppress. The nonesensical moral absolutism (i.e. 'male gods are dangerous') of your world view is quite 'Christian'.

Hence of course, you don't deal with historical goddesses, since the evidence is overwhelming that authentic female deities could have the same delight in warfare as their male counterparts. Your approach thus places much of its weight upon the dark waters of prehistory - a dangerous tack to take given the dire scarcity of accurate information concerning this period. Yet you seem confident in making the most bold and far reaching generalisations about the beliefs of countless separate peoples we know very little about. To say that prehistoric peoples were also democratic and peaceful is also to brutally twist the historical evidence. For one thing warfare, while certainly not being endemic, seems to have been common in many places (certainly the per capita rate of homicide in traditional societies is far greater than that of contemporary Manhattan). As regards democratic - there is scant evidence to make any sound conclusions. Plus, how can we apply a modern political concept like democracy to neolithic societies? Both are separated by thousands of years of cultural evolution and possess unique cultural formations. What form of democracy did you imagine that they had?! Parlimentary monarchy, federal republic, voting by lots or constituency representives perchance?

My reason for the statement: “Is there any reason why we should think your religion would be any less violent” is simple. Like these faiths you practice the same tawdry dualism of good (you) Vs evil (the Abrahamic/war gods) that the great monotheisms preach. You preach absolutes that exist without exception. Now i'm a star wars fan and as such i'll quote you a little wisdom from that epic tale: "only the sith deal in absolutes."

Finally you have stated: “Six thousand years ago, everyone worshiped Goddesses and things were good. Then gods came. Things got bad. They have stayed bad for 6000 years." Which planet are referring to? I assume its not this one? At least not with a straight face? If you want to argue semantics over the word 'war' then no, there certainly was nothing like modern war in prehistory, since modern war is impossible without modern society, technology, population and political organisation. However, do you mean there was no organised violent conflict at all? No murder or homicide? What evidence do you have for this?
And you do realise that in the above statement you have your own little myth of the fall! Things start good, then things go baaaad. Oh no... was it war-god apples and war-god serpents tricking peace loving egaliterians into a quick bout of homicide.
Sorry to be sarcastic, but in the words of Ron Weasley, that's just mental. How exactly did these gods 'come'? If they were so bad, why believe in them? I can probably guess how you will reply, but i'll wait 'till I hear the real thing.

Apologies if I inflict any grammatical errors upon readers via this message. Also being English I spell words in the old style.

Anonymous said...

Im with YOU phillip! You caught right on to this same type of rhetoric and hatred in this blog as the blogger decries the same in religions and atheism! Good for you -- who the f... cares in what paragraph form you state it! Just another example of this blogger's fear of the real world and her narcissism!

Phillip said...

Yes indeed, thank you very much for your words of support on my position - good to know its not completely erroneous at least.

Although I must in part decree her methodology and premises, her motives are nevertheless admirable. Given the present state of the world, its hatred and violence, its perfectly understandable that human beings, being what they are will attempt to create a mythology which might promise the hope of a better alternative.
We have seen similar excesses in other utopian philosophies, which while being entirely commendable, lack much of a self-critical regime. As Nietzsche said: "Convictions are greater enemies of truth than lies."

Athana said...

Phillip has left a new comment on your post "ATHEISTS: CHRISTIANS in drag?":

Phil sez: Your construction of alleged 'war god' belief systems and also of atheistic beliefs is both grossly inaccurate and a terrible generalisation without factual reference. I find it impossible to conceive that an academic writer could fashion such a vacuous and unsupported generality.

-- What generalization do I make? Geez-Louise, Phil, I can’t “support” everything I say in a blog. This isn’t academia, ya know.

Your generalisation is vacuous because, as I stated, the historical record shows quite clearly that the great social reformers and revolutionaries of the past (the socialists and anti-capitalists) were by far, exponents of materialistic belief systems (in this regard i cited Marx, Kropotkin, Bukharin but one should also add Gramsci and Luxemburg). i.e.

-- Phil, I don’t think you know everything that lurks in your heart and soul. You may want to think atheists are the true carers of people, better than people who believe in the horrid supernatural, but I don’t think caring is a natural part of your heart. No, I can’t prove it – beyond saying that social hierarchy is a deep part of the culture you were reared in. And that somehow I doubt that you've done any work on repairing that error in yourself.

I also noted that those exposing early 'neopagan' belief systems, such as Gardner were, while religiously heterodox, politically conservative and reactionary - and certainly saw no contradiction between an earth-centred religion (in his case of both God and Goddess) and conservative politics. Indeed, as your dear opponent R. R. Ruether might point out, people like Gardner exposed very a narrow/patriarchal conception of sexuality (Gardner thought homosexuality was unnatural and an affront to the natural order of the living world).

-- Not sure what you’re implying here. That anyone not a god worshiper or atheist is a Gardnerian?

I find your following statement nteresting: "Furthermore I don’t do much with the historical goddesses on this blog, or with pagans who worship pantheons with war gods in them".
Your somewhat selective reference to the pagan goddesses of the past is deeply problematic. You seem to quite arbitrarily ignore the pagan religious experience of a great chunk of human history, solely because you believe them compromised by the illusion of 'warrior god cults'. But of course, you have to take this line since otherwise you would have to admit that …

-- You’re right, Phil. I do ignore pagans I feel aren’t doing the world any good.

… the legitimate spiritual experience of the human species (both male and female) includes war and conflict - in contradiction to your belief that such things have no part in any divine reality - being simply a foreign fraud introduced by evil men who wished to dominate and oppress. The nonesensical moral absolutism (i.e. 'male gods are dangerous') of your world view is quite 'Christian'.

-- Read my recent three-part post called “WANT UTOPIA? Get THE GODDESS,” Phil. Since you’re an Atheist I have no idea what you mean by “legitimate spiritual experience.” However, since all societies anthropologists have ever found have had supernatural religion, I feel fairly confident that Neolithics had religion -- and supernatural religion at at that. And the evidence suggests that mostly their religions didn’t include war.

Hence of course, you don't deal with historical goddesses, since the evidence is overwhelming that authentic female deities could have the same delight in warfare as their male counterparts. Your approach thus places much of its weight upon the dark waters of prehistory - a dangerous tack to take given the dire scarcity of accurate information concerning this period. Yet you seem confident in making the most bold and far reaching generalisations about the beliefs of countless separate peoples we know very little about.

-- What is an “authentic female deity,” Phil? Do you know? What are your credentials for knowing? What are your criteria for such? And upon what are your criteria based?

-- I suspect you’re not a prehistorian, Phil. Prehistorians rarely use the term “accurate information” when talking about prehistory. Prehistory’s a matter of what theory is blessed by the sustenance of the most data collected.

-- Do you know anything for certain about any specific prehistoric people? What gives you the chutzpah to come to a site written by a prehistorian and tell her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about? Just curious, Phil. Can you give me a sensible answer to this question?


To say that prehistoric peoples were also democratic and peaceful is also to brutally twist the historical evidence.

-- Excuse me? Did you really mean to say that the historical evidence here informs the situation of prehistoric peoples?

-- Again go read my recent posts. You seem to know very little about the academic debate re: warfare in the Neolithic. If you want to dialog with me here, Mr. Phil, go do some reading in the proper areas!

-- What’s more, what evidence do you have that any prehistoric society was run by anything but self-rule? If you have it, cough it up, Phil.

For one thing warfare, while certainly not being endemic, seems to have been common in many places (certainly the per capita rate of homicide in traditional societies is far greater than that of contemporary Manhattan).

-- Wha? Warfare common in many places? I assume you mean in prehistory? Many way more qualified than you would beg to differ, Phil. Read my recent posts.

As regards democratic - there is scant evidence to make any sound conclusions. Plus, how can we apply a modern political concept like democracy to neolithic societies? Both are separated by thousands of years of cultural evolution and possess unique cultural formations. What form of democracy did you imagine that they had?!

-- Who cares what kind they had?

My reason for the statement: “Is there any reason why we should think your religion would be any less violent” is simple. Like these faiths, you practice the same tawdry dualism of good (you) Vs evil (the Abrahamic/war gods) that the great monotheisms preach. You preach absolutes that exist without exception.

-- Dualism equates to violence? C’mon, Philly, I’m losing respect for your intellect.

Finally you have stated: “Six thousand years ago, everyone worshiped Goddesses and things were good. Then gods came. Things got bad. They have stayed bad for 6000 years." Which planet are U referring to? I assume its not this one? At least not with a straight face? If you want to argue semantics over the word 'war' then no, there certainly was nothing like modern war in prehistory, since modern war is impossible without modern society, technology, population and political organisation.
However, do you mean there was no organised violent conflict at all? No murder or homicide? What evidence do you have for this?

-- Oh c’mon! Get real! There was nothing in the Neolithic like you find in Bronze-Age Egypt, the Middle East, or China. War in the Bronze Age in most places was large-scale, institutionalized, empire-building war. There was nothing in the Neolithic that even began to compare to it. What’s more, in the Indus Valley and on Crete there was no “organized violent conflict” period. Go read some more, Phil. You’re out of date.

And you do realise that in the above statement you have your own little myth of the fall!

-- So what? What difference does that make to the price of tea in China?

Sorry to be sarcastic, but in the words of Ron Weasley, that's just mental. How exactly did these gods 'come'?

-- Somewhere above you’ve stated we can’t know anything in prehistory. So how do you expect me to know how gods ‘came’? There are theories. But what difference does it make how they came? The fact is they did.

If they were so bad, why believe in them?

-- What? You think they weren’t bad? Phil -- I thought you were an Atheist!

Phillip said...

-- What generalization do I make? Geez-Louise, Phil, I can’t “support” everything I say in a blog. This isn’t academia, ya know.

Well, you make some pretty controversial and debatable statements, statements that you present as being straightforward facts. In actuality, much of what you use to support your beliefs from a historical stand-point, is currently widely disputed in academic circles. To not include caveats when you make these statements is intellectually dishonest.

-- Phil, I don’t think you know everything that lurks in your heart and soul. You may want to think atheists are the true carers of people, better than people who believe in the horrid supernatural, but I don’t think caring is a natural part of your heart. No, I can’t prove it – beyond saying that social hierarchy is a deep part of the culture you were reared in. And that somehow I doubt that you've done any work on repairing that error in yourself.

LOL, with all due respect, I know my own heart and soul (if I actually possess a soul) quite well thank you very much. I made no statement that atheists were unilaterally the carers of the cosmos. I merely provided examples to support my statement that your generalisation was invalid. As a Humanist, 'caring' as you call it, is a far greater part of my philosophy than it is of religiously inspired belief systems that subordinate human dignity to the whims and caprices of mythological god images - be they 'male' gods with a thing for war and legalism or 'female' deities with a perchant for the low-grade melodrama of Californian yuppie mysticism.

-- Not sure what you’re implying here. That anyone not a god worshiper or atheist is a Gardnerian?

Quite simply, that your assumption of the intrinsic linkage between your earth-centred religion and social justice/peace is tenuous and not well born out by real experience. Of course you can easily draw a line between yourself and other neo-pagans, but if other neo-pagans who expound a philosophy little different from yours can also subscribe to conservative politics, by what right could you claim to be correct while they are wrong? Do you have a special hotline to the will of the goddess that they don't?

-- You’re right, Phil. I do ignore pagans I feel aren’t doing the world any good.

To continue my above line... are they truly doing no 'good' at all in the world? By what criteria are you qualified to judge them? Can you hoenstly say that compared to you they have done the world no good? Even I, as critical of religion as I am, wouldn't brutalise the historical record in order to forget that people believing in so-called war gods have performed many great humanitarian deeds. In fact I struggle to find comparable acts committed by goddess worshipers. Now that's not to say goddess worshipers couldn't or wouldn't engage in equally altruistic acts, but you are distorting the truth if you try to colour any religion you disapprove of as intrinsically and universally malign. This relates also to my criticism of your simplistic good/evil dualism.

-- Read my recent three-part post called “WANT UTOPIA? Get THE GODDESS,” Phil. Since you’re an Atheist I have no idea what you mean by “legitimate spiritual experience.” However, since all societies anthropologists have ever found have had supernatural religion, I feel fairly confident that Neolithics had religion -- and supernatural religion at at that. And the evidence suggests that mostly their religions didn’t include war.

Spirituality is not an intrinsically 'religious' category. Christian theology in particular, has brought many up to believe that it is, simply because it has permitted of no real alternative. Plus i would be a very strange kind of person if I could not understand or talk about the conceptions others make of the world and their place in it. You conflate the term spiritual with the supernatural. The 'supernatural' is a philosophical/theological construction of modern western thought, particularly due to the development of a naturalistic science and the perceived distinction made between nature and the non-natural transcendent reality of god. Pre-modern cultures make little distinction between the natural world and the 'spirits' that inhabit them. Most of these such beliefs do not even regard spirits and ancestors as being 'immaterial' beings either - this also being a modern conception. You may be confident that the Neolithic had religion and that's your opinion, but you should be aware that trying to impose to concept of 'religion' upon the prehistorical data involves a hell of a lot massaging. For one thing we know nothing about what these peoples actually thought; we have to 'infer' meaning from allegedly ritual artifacts and sites. Such inferences are problematic at best seeing as whoever made them was a member of a completely different culture, about which we know nothing. To say that every 'contemporary' society studied possesses 'supernatural religion' is patently false for both the reasons I gave above and for the fact that some religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are decidedly monistic - seeing no reason for a distinction between nature and supernature.

-- What is an “authentic female deity,” Phil? Do you know? What are your credentials for knowing? What are your criteria for such? And upon what are your criteria based?

By referring to 'authentic female deities' I am simply honouring the fact that women throughout history have claimed a religious perception of life and have lived accordingly (whether this conception was 'true' or not is no relevant). Furthermore, that this conception of the spiritual was as well supplied with dark and morally dubious overtones as its was with motherly/nurturing one's. Momma seemed quite keen for her children to go our bash the living daylights of their enemies. Now that's what I meant by legitimate. Now you'll probably claim that such dark overtones were simply the result of war-god infatuation, but unless you can justify your credentials for over-writing their religious conceptions in favour of your own (to ignore the native viewpoint in anthropological speak), then you are on shaky ground.

-- I suspect you’re not a prehistorian, Phil. Prehistorians rarely use the term “accurate information” when talking about prehistory. Prehistory’s a matter of what theory is blessed by the sustenance of the most data collected.

True enough, 'accurate information' is perhaps slightly inaccurate! However prehistory still requires that the method and rigour of data collection, and thus interpretation, be 'accurate'. I'm not a prehistorian; I'm an anthropologist by training. I have degrees in religious studies (theology), anthropology and ancient history, and I am currently beginning a MPhill in the anthropology of religion by studying how the evolution of social organisation effected religious ideologies. However I do not think my tentative approach to prehistory is uncommon. Certainly your ideas on prehistory are more heterodox. Like your idol Cauvin, you place too much emphasis upon idealistic structuralism for my liking.

-- Do you know anything for certain about any specific prehistoric people? What gives you the chutzpah to come to a site written by a prehistorian and tell her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about? Just curious, Phil. Can you give me a sensible answer to this question?

No one knows anything for certain about prehistory! We can make tentative general hypotheses but any responsible prehistorian knows that such are fleeting. A site doesn't belong to a researcher. His/her data/findings are open season for criticism - but thats nothing radical - thats standard scientific practice. And did I say some researcher does not know what they are talking about... no, apparently not.

-- Excuse me? Did you really mean to say that the historical evidence here informs the situation of prehistoric peoples?

My, you can be picky about terminology considering you don't think you have to write in an academic fashion here... I was referring to your slip-shod application of specific cultural concepts like 'democracy' without any reference to time and place.

-- Again go read my recent posts. You seem to know very little about the academic debate re: warfare in the Neolithic. If you want to dialog with me here, Mr. Phil, go do some reading in the proper areas!

That's a little rude I think. I actually know something of warfare in the Neolithic (to be honest there's not much information to learn). Warfare is one of my secondary interests. The academic opinion on the area is again, deeply divided. To call any prehistorical period 'peaceful' (or warlike for that matter) is a strong statement considering the meagre evidence.

-- What’s more, what evidence do you have that any prehistoric society was run by anything but self-rule? If you have it, cough it up, Phil.

Very little, but again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Certainly we can only guess at prehistorical political organisation. the idea that they had self-rule - whatever that is - is impossible to verify directly. Thus prehistorians have been forced to rely upon analogies drawn from my field - anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer societies. In the case of these societies, some are 'egalitarian' like the !Kung San, while others like the Haida of British Columbia are more hierarchical. However both of these societies are not self-ruled per se... there is a strong sexual division of labour resulting in some specialisation and most important decisions are not made by democratic concensus but by those seen to either have greater wisdom (usually the elders) or to be part of a dominant clan or descent lineage.

-- Wha? Warfare common in many places? I assume you mean in prehistory? Many way more qualified than you would beg to differ, Phil. Read my recent posts.

Indeed they are entitled to. Though I should point out that those who differ are similarly opposed by those who agree (see Azar Gat's War in Human Civilization). I should point out again that I regard 'warfare' as a complex behaviour, contextual to time and place.

-- Who cares what kind they had?

Well its kinda' important, especially if you want to elevate it upon on a pedestal as a great utopian era in human history. I doubt that their forms of political organisation would be compatible with our contemporary situation.

-- Dualism equates to violence? C’mon, Philly, I’m losing respect for your intellect.

Yes, your dualism is just a brutal Us vs Them philosophy. If you're not with me you're against. This type of thinking dehumanises the other, making it easier to rationalise violence against them (see James Waller's Becoming Evil).

-- Oh c’mon! Get real! There was nothing in the Neolithic like you find in Bronze-Age Egypt, the Middle East, or China. War in the Bronze Age in most places was large-scale, institutionalized, empire-building war. There was nothing in the Neolithic that even began to compare to it. What’s more, in the Indus Valley and on Crete there was no “organized violent conflict” period. Go read some more, Phil. You’re out of date.

Well firstly you never qualified your meaning in your use of the word 'war' - that's pretty general. If you now mean specifically war raged by large empires, then as I also said, nothing like that existed in the neolithic. My problem was with your ludicrous statement that 'gods' (I assume you really mean 'male' gods) came along and everything went bad! That statement finds absolutely no support by the evidence. Do you really believe that someone invented these gods one day and then everyone became bad - obsessed with conflict, oppression, empire building and war? Your dependency on the discredited work of Marija Gimbutas is evident, but even she did not make such grotesquely nonsensical statements.
As far as Indus valley and Minoan civilisations are concerned, we are confronted by a lack of data. Harappan society could well have been peaceful but since it largely follows your war god take-over you have to explain why its male gods didn't drive it to wars of conquest. Harappan society was certainly not egalitarian. Neither was Minoan society for that matter. As to the famous Minoan peace, recent evidence has challenged its lack of warfare status. The status of weapons once thought to be ceremonial is now challenged, and evidence of fortifications has been uncovered. It is also possible that warfare didn't exist because there was no one to fight - the Aegean civilisations being too remote from each other to be territorially threatening (unlike the Middle East). Minoan society society also provides evidence of human sacrifice - that doesn't sound very nurturing to me.

-- So what? What difference does that make to the price of tea in China?

Merely pointing out the irony of mocking Christian war god beliefs while simultaneously mirroring their mythology!

-- Somewhere above you’ve stated we can’t know anything in prehistory. So how do you expect me to know how gods ‘came’? There are theories. But what difference does it make how they came?

Yes, that's my position on prehistory - you on the other hand seem to know a hell of a lot about the religious beliefs of prehistoric cultures. The difference it makes my dear is paramount for you. You put the blame for everything bad at the feet of these 'daddy' war gods - surely if they represent such a complete break with what came before we should need an explanation of their sudden dominance of prehistoric people. Its your story, you dig upon the evidence.

--The fact is they did.
Did they? Again I what evidence do you provide. I don't see any. I don't think they did anything of the sort - you're looking for explanations in the wrong places. Your hypothesis is too enslaves to your religious beliefs. You are no more able to consider alternatives to your beliefs than the creationist or hard core capitalist.

-- What? You think they weren’t bad? Phil -- I thought you were an Atheist!

Have you ever read Feuerbach or Marx on religious alienation. Gods are not things with an independent existence that can judged good or bad. People are good or bad, depending upon what criteria you use to judge them. I don't disbelieve in Yahweh, Zeus, Athena or the Mother Goddess because i believe they are morally bad. I disbelieve because they do not exist, they are meaningless projections of human self-alienation. I cannot judge Odin a bad daddy war god, because he doesn't exist! I cannot judge a non-entity, that is by definition not capable of doing anything to be judged by!
Right, I'm tired now, so I must be off. Books beckon to be read. Thank you for such a stimulating response!
Yours, Phillip.
PS. sorry if i have missed any grammatical errors or lacked paragraphs!

Athana said...

Well, you make some pretty controversial and debatable statements, statements that you present as being straightforward facts. In actuality, much of what you use to support your beliefs from a historical stand-point, is currently widely disputed in academic circles. To not include caveats when you make these statements is intellectually dishonest.


O Guess what, Phil. If you read books written by academics they soon stop with the qualifiers “It could be,” “it’s my opinion that” and so forth and just begin to state their theory(s). I defy you to show me I’m wrong here. Same with a blog.

LOL, with all due respect, I know my own heart and soul (if I actually possess a soul) quite well thank you very much.

O Only a young fool would say this. How old are you?

I made no statement that atheists were unilaterally the carers of the cosmos. I merely provided examples to support my statement that your generalisation was invalid. As a Humanist, 'caring' as you call it, is a far greater part of my philosophy than it is of religiously inspired belief systems that subordinate human dignity to the whims and caprices of mythological god images - be they 'male' gods with a thing for war and legalism or 'female' deities with a perchant for the low-grade melodrama of Californian yuppie mysticism.

O What?!? Where are you getting this stuff? I live on the Atlantic coast Phil, not the Pacific.


… your assumption of the intrinsic linkage between your earth-centred religion and social justice/peace is tenuous and not well born out by real experience. Of course you can easily draw a line between yourself and other neo-pagans, but if other neo-pagans who expound a philosophy little different from yours can also subscribe to conservative politics, by what right could you claim to be correct while they are wrong? Do you have a special hotline to the will of the goddess that they don't?

O What makes you think it’s intellectually honest to lump all “pagans” into one pot? How do you define ‘pagan’? Typically it’s defined as all religions outside the Abrahamaic. Ya got quite a bit going on in that pot, Phil. Actually, since atheism is just another religion outside the Abrahamaic, it would fall into the category of ‘pagan’ as well.

-- You’re right, Phil. I do ignore pagans I feel aren’t doing the world any good.

To continue my above line... are they truly doing no 'good' at all in the world? By what criteria are you qualified to judge them? Can you hoenstly say that compared to you they have done the world no good? Even I, as critical of religion as I am, wouldn't brutalise the historical record in order to forget that people believing in so-called war gods have performed many great humanitarian deeds.

O You might be right. Tell me about it. What pagan war-god groups have performed what great humanitarian deeds? The Romans? The ancient Greeks? Who?


In fact I struggle to find comparable acts committed by goddess worshipers. Now that's not to say goddess worshipers couldn't or wouldn't engage in equally altruistic acts, but you are distorting the truth if you try to colour any religion you disapprove of as intrinsically and universally malign.

O Well we all draw our lines in the sand somewhere. Personally I find war and any religion that fosters it “intrinsically and universally” evil.

-- Read my recent three-part post called “WANT UTOPIA? Get THE GODDESS,” Phil. Since you’re an Atheist I have no idea what you mean by “legitimate spiritual experience.” However, since all societies anthropologists have ever found have had supernatural religion, I feel fairly confident that Neolithics had religion -- and supernatural religion at that. And the evidence suggests that mostly their religions didn’t include war.

Spirituality is not an intrinsically 'religious' category. Christian theology in particular, has brought many up to believe that it is, simply because it has permitted of no real alternative. Plus i would be a very strange kind of person if I could not understand or talk about the conceptions others make of the world and their place in it. You conflate the term spiritual with the supernatural. The 'supernatural' is a philosophical/theological construction of modern western thought, particularly due to the development of a naturalistic science and the perceived distinction made between nature and the non-natural transcendent reality of god. Pre-modern cultures make little distinction between the natural world and the 'spirits' that inhabit them. Most of these such beliefs do not even regard spirits and ancestors as being 'immaterial' beings either - this also being a modern conception. You may be confident that the Neolithic had religion and that's your opinion, but you should be aware that trying to impose to concept of 'religion' upon the prehistorical data involves a hell of a lot massaging. For one thing we know nothing about what these peoples actually thought; we have to 'infer' meaning from allegedly ritual artifacts and sites. Such inferences are problematic at best seeing as whoever made them was a member of a completely different culture, about which we know nothing. To say that every 'contemporary' society studied possesses 'supernatural religion' is patently false for both the reasons I gave above and for the fact that some religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are decidedly monistic - seeing no reason for a distinction between nature and supernature.

O There you go again with your monster paragraphs. Thanks for leaving it to me to mop up after your inconsiderate prose, Mister.

O Nuh-uh, Phil. I stand by my statement that every society anthropologists have visited and studied have had supernatural religion – defined by our Western notions of “supernatural,” not be some emic definition of the word.

 What is an “authentic female deity,” Phil? Do you know? What are your credentials for knowing? What are your criteria for such? And upon what are your criteria based?

By referring to 'authentic female deities' I am simply honouring the fact that women throughout history have claimed a religious perception of life and have lived accordingly (whether this conception was 'true' or not is not relevant). Furthermore, this conception of the spiritual was as well supplied with dark and morally dubious overtones as it was with motherly/nurturing ones.

Momma seemed quite keen for her children to go out and bash the living daylights of their enemies. Now that's what I meant by legitimate. Now you'll probably claim that such dark overtones were simply the result of war-god infatuation, but unless you can justify your credentials for over-writing their religious conceptions in favour of your own (to ignore the native viewpoint in anthropological speak), then you are on shaky ground.

O “Now you'll probably claim that such dark overtones were simply the result of war-god infatuation.” Righto you are. And I am totally in the dark as to what you’re saying after this statement.


True enough, 'accurate information' is perhaps slightly inaccurate! However prehistory still requires that the method and rigour of data collection, and thus interpretation, be 'accurate'. I'm not a prehistorian; I'm an anthropologist by training. I have degrees in religious studies (theology), anthropology and ancient history, and I am currently beginning a MPhill in the anthropology of religion by studying how the evolution of social organisation affected religious ideologies. However I do not think my tentative approach to prehistory is uncommon. Certainly your ideas on prehistory are more heterodox. Like your idol Cauvin, you place too much emphasis upon idealistic structuralism for my liking.

-- Do you know anything for certain about any specific prehistoric people? What gives you the chutzpah to come to a site written by a prehistorian and tell her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about? Just curious, Phil. Can you give me a sensible answer to this question?

No one knows anything for certain about prehistory!

O Of course you can know things for certain about prehistory. You can know how many female figurines have been unearthed so far at Catal Hoyuk. You can know how many are made crudely and how many obviously took quite a bit of time to make. You can know how many were found in graves and how many in house walls. I could go on.

-- Again go read my recent posts. You seem to know very little about the academic debate re: warfare in the Neolithic. If you want to dialog with me here, Mr. Phil, go do some reading in the proper areas!

That's a little rude I think. I actually know something of warfare in the Neolithic (to be honest there's not much information to learn). Warfare is one of my secondary interests. The academic opinion on the area is again, deeply divided. To call any prehistorical period 'peaceful' (or warlike for that matter) is a strong statement considering the meagre evidence.

O Sorry if I seem rude. You seem very rude to me. Could be the cultural differences – Brit vs. US.

O Yes I know the “academic” opinion on warfare is deeply divided. Some think warfare is in our genes. They ignore much evidence to the contrary. Cynic that I am I have to wonder how much influence the military-industrial complex has in this ‘debate.’

-- What’s more, what evidence do you have that any prehistoric society was run by anything but self-rule? If you have it, cough it up, Phil.

Very little, but again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Certainly we can only guess at prehistorical political organisation. the idea that they had self-rule - whatever that is - is impossible to verify directly. Thus prehistorians have been forced to rely upon analogies drawn from my field - anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer societies. In the case of these societies, some are 'egalitarian' like the !Kung San, while others like the Haida of British Columbia are more hierarchical. However both of these societies are not self-ruled per se... there is a strong sexual division of labour resulting in some specialisation and most important decisions are not made by democratic concensus but by those seen to either have greater wisdom (usually the elders) or to be part of a dominant clan or descent lineage.

O The Moso of Tibet make most important decisions by democratic consensus – not by elder-rule or a dominant clan. And they’re centered around a Mother Goddess. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your academic institution is necessarily giving you the whole truth, Phil.

I should point out again that I regard 'warfare' as a complex behaviour, contextual to time and place.

O So what?

-- Dualism equates to violence? C’mon, Philly, I’m losing respect for your intellect.

Yes, your dualism is just a brutal Us vs Them philosophy. If you're not with me you're against. This type of thinking dehumanises the other, making it easier to rationalise violence against them (see James Waller's Becoming Evil).

O Who’s talking about violence against anyone? If warBad peaceGood is dualistic, then I’m dualistic.

-- Oh c’mon! Get real! There was nothing in the Neolithic like you find in Bronze-Age Egypt, the Middle East, or China. War in the Bronze Age in most places was large-scale, institutionalized, empire-building war. There was nothing in the Neolithic that even began to compare to it. What’s more, in the Indus Valley and on Crete there was no “organized violent conflict” period. Go read some more, Phil. You’re out of date.

Well firstly you never qualified your meaning in your use of the word 'war' - that's pretty general. If you now mean specifically war raged by large empires, then as I also said, nothing like that existed in the neolithic. My problem was with your ludicrous statement that 'gods' (I assume you really mean 'male' gods) came along and everything went bad! That statement finds absolutely no support by the evidence. Do you really believe that someone invented these gods one day and then everyone became bad - obsessed with conflict, oppression, empire building and war? Your dependency on the discredited work of Marija Gimbutas is evident, but even she did not make such grotesquely nonsensical statements.
As far as Indus valley and Minoan civilisations are concerned, we are confronted by a lack of data. Harappan society could well have been peaceful but since it largely follows your war god take-over you have to explain why its male gods didn't drive it to wars of conquest. Harappan society was certainly not egalitarian. Neither was Minoan society for that matter. As to the famous Minoan peace, recent evidence has challenged its lack of warfare status. The status of weapons once thought to be ceremonial is now challenged, and evidence of fortifications has been uncovered. It is also possible that warfare didn't exist because there was no one to fight - the Aegean civilisations being too remote from each other to be territorially threatening (unlike the Middle East). Minoan society society also provides evidence of human sacrifice - that doesn't sound very nurturing to me.

-- So what? What difference does that make to the price of tea in China?

Merely pointing out the irony of mocking Christian war god beliefs while simultaneously mirroring their mythology!

-- Somewhere above you’ve stated we can’t know anything in prehistory. So how do you expect me to know how gods ‘came’? There are theories. But what difference does it make how they came?

Yes, that's my position on prehistory - you on the other hand seem to know a hell of a lot about the religious beliefs of prehistoric cultures. The difference it makes my dear is paramount for you. You put the blame for everything bad at the feet of these 'daddy' war gods - surely if they represent such a complete break with what came before we should need an explanation of their sudden dominance of prehistoric people. Its your story, you dig upon the evidence.

O I’ve already done it Phil. It’s under the title of “starvation culture” on my blog. If you’re interested go read.

Did they? Again I what evidence do you provide. I don't see any. I don't think they did anything of the sort - you're looking for explanations in the wrong places. Your hypothesis is too enslaved to your religious beliefs. You are no more able to consider alternatives to your beliefs than the creationist or hard core capitalist.

o Hm. Most me criticize me for being more of a scientist than a person with spiritual beliefs. I wear two hats – one spiritual the other academic. The academic side of me sees Goddess spirituality as a way out of the nightmare humans have lived in for six millennia.