Monday, December 19, 2005

God-or-Not Carnival

Oh, this "God or Not" Carnival is a hoot! Morgaine at The-Goddess is sponsoring it this time around, and she's put together an excellent roster of theists and atheists opining on the subject of "morality." I'm finding some interesting thinking going on over there. For example, VerumSerum had a thought-provoking post called "Atheism Hampers the Moral Efforts of Atheists."

I left this comment:

"Excellent post. You're right: among atheists, every woman and man decides for herself what is moral. And as well-oiled corporate bodies, God-the-Father religions can deliver more money, goods, and services to the needy than atheists can.

"But there's so much more to morality than putting bandaids on people who hurt. How do we prevent the hurt from happening in the first place? How do we deliver the bandaids so as to preserve the dignity of the receivers? What do we give before the hurt happens, so as to prevent it from happening?

"God the Father religions have had about six thousand years to answer these questions, and as I follow Their trail around the world, all I see is misery, poverty, slavery, abuse, devastation, imperialism, hierarchy, classism, racism -- and I could go on, of course.

"There's a growing body of evidence showing that (1) six thousand years ago and beyond, humans worshipped female deity almost exclusively, and (2) lived under universal peace, prosperity, and even technological sophistication. And yes, men were virile, hunky risk-takers -- possibly even more so than today, from all appearances.

"So, I'm curious: how would you explain this? The human species going from female deity coupled with comparative utopia on the one hand, and then male deity along with a slow slide into human hell on the other?"
It'll be fun to see how (and if) he answers.


Mike said...

My knowledge of archeology is based in a single university course and a reading of Guns Germs and Steel, so I don't even qualify as a lay archeologist.

The scraps of knowledge I do have, though, lead me to be hyper skeptical of the types of claims you make. You suggest certain societies in in virtual utopias 6000 years ago - yet this statement requires a great quantity of evidence. It also requires a certain quality of evidence -and as I understand it, ancient archeology is simply not equipped to provide this.

To support your broad, strong claims, you need to show accounts of life. You need to show how the leaders dealt with natural crises and other societies. You need to provide accounts of how ordinary people lived, and more importantly you need to provide accounts from their perspectives.

None of which you can do, because 6000 year old writings are practically non-existant.

Therefore your claims can never be anything other that a whole lot of wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

There you go. One guy has one university class and read one book and he is an authority to dismiss what has been found and documented and on this site too.
Well, well and of course he gets to decide what is evidence and what is wishful thinking. Why are "some" men so afraid of this possibility? That could be fun speculation. I bet he thought his comment was thoughtful and scientific.
Don't you just love being dismissed?

Mike said...

I know it's very possible I'm wrong about the amount of evidence available. It's just that Athana is making types of claims that I have never heard coming from archeologists before, especially not those who study ancient history.

Not even archival historians make these kinds of broad and strong claims, and they work with an abundance of written sources. And I do know something about historians.

Morgaine said...

Mike -

Grab a copy of Saharasia. Or The First Sex by Elizabeth Gould Davis. When God was a Woman by Merlin Stone. Anything by Marija Gimbutas, Marilyn French or Barbara G. Walker.

There is quite a bit of literature about this, but the patriarchal bias in this culture is so strong, that most people have a knee-jerk reaction that it can't be correct because they've never heard it before. The same thing happened to Galileo. And Louis Pasteur. And Einstein.

I realize this is new information, but that doesn't make it wrong. It means that you need to expand your mind enough to consider the possibility. It means you need to read some sources you've never read until now before you reach a conclusion. It means you need to factor in the patriarchal sieve that everything you've ever read or heard has been filtered through, and the professional jealously the professionals who've been getting it wrong all along are going to have to any idea that contradicts what they've been taught and been teaching.

See, we've done our research, we've asked the hard questions and looked at all of the opposition to our point of view. We stand by our conclusions, and there are more of us every day.

Athana said...

Morgaine, so well put.

Mike, I'd especially recommend James DeMeo, because he's a geographer who's brought together an immense amount of rock-solid geographical and anthropological data. It took him ten years to put it all together. 454 pages of argument, based on the most solid data available. But, as Morgaine notes, anyone who tries to take on the prevailing norms finds it tough going, especially at first. Also, it's unpopular these days to make broad claims about anything. Germs Guns and Steel was broad, but it was written about anthropology -- by a non-anthropologist. Social scientists are afraid to make generalizations these days about much of anything. It goes against the prevailing scholarly norms.