Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jupiter of the Jews

This is a follow-up article to my earlier one on turning Atheist, since after I wrote that article, I have come across some really convincing material that also explains a few particulars about Judaism and Christianity.

Recently I finished the book "Influence: the psychology of persuasion" by Robert Cialdini. (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Robert-Cialdini/dp/006124189X). It is an insightful work on human behavior, and I highly recommend it. But with regard to our topic in question, the book introduced me to a few concepts.

The first was the story of Festinger, Reicken and Schachter, where they studied a contemporary doomsday cult in Chicago. Their story is documented in their work "When Prophecy Fails" (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/When-Prophecy-Fails-Leon-Festinger/dp/1578988527/, Internet Archives ebook: https://archive.org/details/pdfy-eDNpDzTy_dR1b0iB). This was a seminal study that introduced the concept of "Cognitive Dissonance" to the modern world (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance)

Faith strengthens when prophecy fails
In the Festinger et. al. study, the three researchers essentially infiltrated a contemporary "doomsday cult" in a spectacular instance of "Participant Observation" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participant_observation). The cult in question believed that on a certain date, the world would be destroyed, but they being true believers, a UFO from almighty god will arrive at midnight of that day and rescue the 30 or so cult members into eternal salvation.

During the days leading up to the doomsday, the members of the cult, which was headed by a Chicago housewife and her husband who was a physician on staff of student health services, and included housewives, college and high-school students, a publisher, a hardware store clerk etc, sold everything in their possessions, ignored their jobs/schools - some even getting fired, and the like; yet firmly and unwaveringly believed in the prophesies and awaited the UFO coming to their rescue. At this time however, they were smug, self-confident, and refused to admit new members, or give television or newspaper interviews - salvation was reserved for them.

As usual with prophesies, the predicted hour came and went but nothing happened besides the massive dis-confirmation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disconfirmed_expectancy) that the adherents of the cult faced. The hours between midnight and around 4 am are tragic and tense. However, after their dis-confirmation, the cult suddenly became social, actively proselytizing new recruits, giving newspaper and TV interviews upholding their faith etc - contrary to what one would expect, that they hold their tails down, go back to their homes and reflect on their tremendous folly.

The explanation of the subsequent behavior comes from two forces. One, the need to reconcile their cognitive dissonance - they still believed in the prophecy, but the prophecy did not come true, and therefore, two, their seeking "social proof" by having many other people also believe like them, and thereby having the excuse of Pluralistic Ignorance (discussed below).

Now Christianity went through a few too many dis-confirmations, but two that are particularly noteworthy:

(1) The Messiah was stone cold dead: I discussed this in my previous article. There I pointed out that it must have helped to have the followers of ex-messiah John the Baptizer be part of the Jesus cult, in their ability to live through this disconfirmation. Anyhow, contrary to reason, but very much in accordance with the Festinger et. al. observations, the Jesus cult proselytized and "spread the gospel" not only to the "chosen Jews" but also to the gentiles and peoples around them, as a consequence of this disconfirmation.

(2) The failure of the second coming: This too was touched upon in my previous article. But whereas I stood a little confused by why the failed prophecy did not lead them to lock-up-and-go-home back then, the observation makes perfect sense in the light of the Festinger et. al. study. Jesus was expected to be back with Judgement and Vengeance within the lives of the followers - they expected him to take them to the right hand of the father, while the rest of the unbelieving word was condemned to the depths of eternal hell-fire. This too, like all prophesies, failed. Again, predictably, the outcome of this disconfirmation was not reflection upon their folly, but a strengthened belief with the invention of the new excuse that the gospel had to be preached to the ends of the earth before the second coming can happen. I must say, they did take a lesson from the disconfirmation, for the requirements of this new second coming can never be satisfied so that they are not stuck with a doomsday date, the passing of which they have to defend in ignominy.

Pluralistic ignorance
The second concept that Robert Cialdini introduced to me is that of "Pluralistic Ignorance" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralistic_ignorance). His book relates the story of the gruesome1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, the half hour long brutality of which was witnessed by 38 people who just stood there and watched, without intervening on behalf of the victim or calling the police. The details of the analysis of this incident were published by Rosenthal, Freedman, and Sulzberger in a book titled "Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case" (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1510710035/)

Essentially, people look around to other people for confirmation of their actions. If everybody is doing something, they must be right? Except, there are numerous instances in which this crowd mentality does not lead us down the right path - this phenomenon is called "Pluralistic Ignorance."

Sometime back when one of my friends asked, how could so many good and great people, who believe in Christianity, all be wrong, I had to essentially invent my own explanations of this phenomenon to tell him why I thought his argument was wrong - I even have this explanation in my previous article. But today, if I were asked that question, I'd merely say "Pluralistic Ignorance" and say no more.

Sadly, when lots of ostriches have their heads deep in the sand, the ones with their heads held high will find themselves alone in the crowd.

Sigmund Freud
One of the happy coincidences of reading Robert Cialdini's wonderful work was my experiencing a heightened interest in the study of Psychology. Consequently, I looked up the famous figure in psychology that I knew - Sigmund Freud - on Amazon. I have not read many of Freud's works, and the only one I could name up to that point was "The Interpretation of Dreams." To my pleasant surprise it turns out that Freud has made some very insightful contributions to the historicity analysis of Abrahamic religions in the form of a book titled "Moses and Monotheism" (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157898937X/, Internet Archives: https://archive.org/details/mosesandmonothei032233mbp)

Moses: The Egyptian
Back in my previous article, I mention the book, "The Egyptian" by Finnish author Mika Waltari, first published in 1949 (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1556524412/). Said book was an interesting story to me, founded on history, and narrating the life of Pharaoh Akhenaten (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten) of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, who introduced the first consequential/historic monotheistic religion to the world: The worship of the universal god Atun, a god whose idols must not be made, and who was the one and only god and father - there being no other god. (Some people call Atun the Sun god, but that is a misrepresentation out of ignorance)

A digression into history: we know from archaeology & history that Akhenaten, for a short period in Egyptian history - pretty much a blink of an eye - proscribed the old religions and gods/pantheon of Egypt, and legally mandated the worship of Atun. This was widely resented in Egypt, and shortly after Akhenaten's death, his policies were reversed and Pharaoh Akhenaten's memory and his religion were made anathema and forgotten by the Egyptians. We also know that around the same time, a people group called the "Habiru" invaded / settled parts of Egypt. And shortly after Akhenaten's death was a turbulent time in Egyptian history - the previous dynasty, the eighteenth, ended; there was no Pharaoh, and there was anarchy all along, possibly civil war and such etc, until Horemheb consolidated power and established the nineteenth dynasty.

Here is how Sigmund Freud makes sense of all of this: in the bible we have the "Exposure story" of Moses. The story goes that Moses was a child of poor Jews in Egypt, who for whatever concocted biblical reasons was abandoned in the Nile, and Pharaoh's daughter picked him up and brought him up in the charge of his real mother without realizing so. Now the noteworthy thing about the "Exposure Myth" is that it is not unique to Moses in the bible - many contemporary historical and mythical figures have exposure myths about them - Gilgamesh, some of the Greek heroes, Sargon of Akkad (most contemporary and famous then) etc. In most of those cases however, the adopting parents are poor, and the birth parents are a god or a king or something. The purpose of the "Exposure Myth" is to establish divine parentage, or royal lineage for the hero. In each of these cases, the parent that the myth claims as adopting the child is in reality the birth parents of the child - humble folk. The story essentially confutes this to promote the otherwise ordinary child to divinity or royalty by concocting a myth of divine / royal birth.

So then, why would the "Exposure Myth" do the exact opposite for Moses - demote him from Egyptian royalty to Hebrew simpleton? While on the surface this seems counter-intuitive, it makes perfect sense when you realize that the Jews wanted to forget that Moses was Egyptian, and make him one of their own!

At this point, it all starts making sense.
  1. Moses was an Egyptian, an ardent follower of Akhenaten's Atun - aka, the Biblical "Adonai." (Possibly Osarseph (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osarseph) who Josephus quotes from Manetho (now lost) as leading an Egyptian revolt with of Lepers and the Hyskos and later assuming the name "Moses" - the name meaning "child of" and always previously used with a god so that, just assuming that name would translate in English to either "child of none" or more likely in Osarseph's perspcitve - Child of <name that must not be named>.)
  2. When Akhenaten died, and Egypt revolted against Atun, Mr. Moses was stuck. His choices were to give up his Adonai, or run away. And he chose to run away - with an inferior people, a bunch of gypsies - called the "Habiru" (same as "Hyksos"?) or the Hebrews. Because Moses stooped down below his level to choose a people such as the Hebrew as his "Chosen People" is why the Bible stresses so much on the Jews being the chosen people. They were not really God's chosen people; they were Moses's chosen people. Otherwise, what good reason does a universal and omnipresent god have, to choose one people group over all the rest of the people of this world who are stated to be his own children- as his chosen people? That question had puzzled me for a long time - why one people group over others? And why a rather culturally backward and ethnically hostile one at that?
  3.  Moses is said to have a speech impediment; a slur of speech - but yet it sticks out as a sore thumb in the Bible. Once you put the picture together, it makes perfect sense. Moses was an Egyptian and at least in the beginning did not know the Hebrew tongue. He needed a translator!
  4. The ten plagues of Egypt, like many things in old folk songs, are symbolic. A modern day analogy would be the "12 days of Christmas" song. The ten plagues merely is an allegorization of the anarchy and turbulent times Egypt went through concomitant with and possibly causative of the Hebrews leaving Egypt - Gypsies leave town when the economy tanks. (PS: this is my own contribution - Sigmund Freud doesn't mention this in his theory.)
  5. Many of the Biblical Psalms are strikingly similar to Akhenaten's hymns to his Adonai. In fact, one of them is almost word for word the same. 
  6. It must also be noted that the question, who was Pharaoh when Israel left Egypt, has perplexed historians for ever. If like the bible claims, the Israelites were established in Egypt before the exodus and lived interspersed with Egyptians for them to have to mark their houses against the angel or death, and for the Pharaoh's daughter to have an Israelite maid, how come nothing much is written of said people besides passing mention of "Habirus," a few statuettes etc? How come no Egyptian material cites these spectacular plagues of Egypt? And why do historical facts line up against the bible, whichever Pharaoh you try to fit on the Egyptian throne at the time of the Exodus. On the contrary, the narratives in the bible line up spectacularly when considered according to Freud's explanation with Akhenaten on the Egyptian throne before the exodus, and anarchy causing the exodus.
Another striking thing to note is Freud's explanation of the lack of after-life in original Judaism. For Akhenaten, everything pertaining to Egyptian gods was anathema. And the greatest of all Egyptian gods was their god of the underworld - hence the focus on embalming and mummification etc. So natually, Akhenaten, and therefore his god Adonai, vehemently detested the god of the underworld, the underworld, the burial practices, and anything related to after-life. The idea was anathema to Akhenaten and so to his Adonai.

(Note: Another interesting source on the above, that I haven't found fully credible, but yet has some interesting points: http://www.ancient.eu/Moses/)
If Adonai was the god, who is YHWH?
The earliest historical mention of the god YHWH is not actually from Israel, nor does it have to do anything with Israel. Rather, these earliest known references to YHWH (there are two) are in Egyptian texts, referring to 'Yahu in the land of the Shasu people' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shasu#Shasu_of_Yhw) - the Shasu being a semi-nomadic Medianite tribe, enemies of Israel. It is also noteworthy that Jehova (not just in the English rendering, but also in the original renderings) corresponds so much with Jove/Iove (or Jupiter) the Roman god of the sky which is the same as Zeus (Djeus) the Greek god of the sky (in all cases, not only do transliterated spellings come close, but the original names are even more strikingly similar).

A noteworthy Bible verse here is Exodus 6:3
And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. (KJV)
Sigmund Freud mentions Eduard Meyer's book "Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstämme" (https://archive.org/details/dieisraelitenun00luthgoog) in his book, and gives Meyer and others credit when saying "They concur that the Jewish tribes, who later on become the people of Israel, at a certain time accepted a new religion." Sadly, Meyer's work is in German, and has not been translated to English so that I am unable to review the work, and examine the evidence on which this statement is made. Yet, we know that the bible cites incidents of the Israelites lusting after other gods such as Baalim; so that it is not beyond the nature of those nomads to follow after YHWH either. Also it is curious that Moses had them build a serpent on a pole to save them from the calamity they faced - even when their Adonai strongly censured idols of any nature, so that one has to understand that Moses became a legend and things that did not happen in his time were attributed to him, and it is highly likely indeed that the Jews mixed the religion of their neighbors with their own. 

Also, the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness is figurative. It likely comes from needing to bridge the lineage from Moses to Joshua, the interim having been forgotten for being uneventful, boring and medieval. 40 years gives long enough a time for one man to grow old and die, and for the next to become leader - two generations. It is likely their wandering was much more, and Moses and Joshua were much more temporaly separated than as stated by the Bible. Therefore it is possible, the second Moses that Sigmund Freud theorizes in his work is indeed Joshua, and he was possibly the leader when Jehova was adopted as god and Adonai put aside. This also means, it is quite possible the Israelites roamed farther and wider than previously thought, and reconciles our difficulty with precisely locating Mt. Sinai. Anyhow, YHWH of the Shasu had possibly assumed the nature of a volcanic god rather than merely the god of the sky, and Mt. Sinai likely was an active volcano - hence the presence of god as a pillar cloud / pillar of fire, and hence the constant fire burning atop the mountain. 

I do not know what to make of Sigmund Freud's theory that Moses was murdered by the Israelites, in their anger at some point - and hence the need for blood to cleanse the sin. It is possible, but there is no evidence presented either to corroborate or to disprove. The psychological line of reasoning does agree however. And I have always wondered, why the heck is it that the "all knowing, all powerful, and eternal god who is love" could not find any better way than gruesomely killing a man on a pole as the way to absolve sins - I must confess Sigmund Freud's theory is the only one I have seen which gives at least a plausible explanation. 

Also, I have often wondered why there was a proscription among the Jews against uttering the name of the god. It now makes sense, because at some point, the followers of Adonai and the followers of YHWH could have been at each others throats, and such a proscription was part of establishing peace between the factions?

Anyhow, bottom line, how do you guys who are Christians / Jewish / Muslim feel about worshiping Jupiter/Zeus, because that's essentially what you are doing!
Update 05/28/2017: This article - http://www.newenglishreview.org/Robert_Wolfe/From_Habiru_to_Hebrews%3A_The_Roots_of_the_Jewish_Tradition/ - gives some insights relevant in the context of the above paragraph. The section on Shechem is particularly noteworthy. Around the 14th/13th centuries BC, an exodus of Habirus from Egypt arrived at the outskirts of Shechem (Israel) and subsequently integrated with the Habiru already afflicting Canan. The transference of gods, the adoption of the patriarchs etc must have happened during this integration - as the author too independently asserts based on such evidence as Merneptah Steele etc. The Shasu tribe of YHWH, according to Wikipedia, were also located at the same precise spot of the Jezreel Valley. However, he becomes defensive in the name of YHWH - yet many noteworthy points surface, the "Elohim" cult vs. the "YHWH" cult, the Greek rendition of "Iao" which is rather close to "Iove" etc. His summarisation - he Jewish religion is founded on the worship of a god called "gods" whose real name is said to be "I will be" - is also noteworthy. And the article is an interesting read from a perspective of why Judaism is probably cardinal in abolishing Slavery in the world.

The "Patriarchs" Problem
Another interesting problem that Sigmund Freud points out in his book (or at least his book is where I first noticed it) is that of the Patriarchs. Moses lived in the Bronze age. Hence if the patriarchs had to precede Moses as the bible goes, then they had to also at least be Bronze age characters. Yet, scholarly opinion today is that the patriarch stories confirm with an Iron age setting. This suddenly presents a big problem - Abraham came after Moses!

The two references Freud cites are: (I have not read these)

There is also another interesting facet to this same problem. Abraham's son Ishmael is said to be the father of Muslims. So then, how exactly did Moses, who Biblicaly (and as far as I know, according to the Quran as well) came much later, become the prophet of the Muslim's as well. 

The explanation expounded by Sigmund Freud has some merit in this. Moses created the Jewish people and endowed them with his god Adonai. However, when the Jewish people put aside Adonai and took up YHWH, it was as part of integrating with another tribe - possibly the Shasu. And so, in that process they also took up the legends of the other tribe, where-from came the legend of Abraham etc, which was further magnified and transposed to antecedent times to predate Moses. This does put us at a contradiction with the verse Exodus 6:3 mentioned above, since that says Abraham et al did not know Jehova by that name. However, it can easily be reconciled because such a statement would have been made by the storyteller when antedating the story to predate Moses.

Circumcision = Symbolic castration
I have always wondered what is the whole point of Circumcision. The Jewish people allude to themselves a certain superiority for being circumcised. And even among my Christian friends in America, there are some who in this day and age still circumcise their male children. But what for?

Some people claim it's cleaner. But studies have been done to validate this claim, and the results have rather clearly concluded that there is no such benefit. So who conceived the idea of Circumcision, and what the heck for - like why would you sit on a rock one fine day and think, let me just cut off the tip of my weiner?

But Sigmund Freud makes this patently clear. In fact, when you read and realize what it stands for, it feel like a blow - like why didn't I think of this before?

Circumcision is an Egyptian practice (not Jewish) dating back to prehistory. Back then there were harems and the stronger man fiercely guarded his female chattel, and the punishment for the weaker man who wished to steal sex with "his property" was castration. In fact, eunuchs were a rather common thing until rather recent history; and modern translators try to avoid and hand-wave over this rather garish practice by deliberately mistranslating the word eunuch to mean just an "officer," whereas there is one and only one meaning to this word - a castrated male slave.

So, essentially the Jews are reveling in their semi-eunuch status. And I have to ask my Christian friends contemplating circumcision for their children: would you feel proud to castrate your male progeny? If not, why do so symbolically?

It is noteworthy that Circumcision has been handed down in history from the Egyptians not only to the Jews but to other African peoples, and sadly one particular manifestation of it is extremely garish and cruel - that of Female Genital Mutilation or Female Genital Cutting. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_mutilation) I first came across this practice through this rather powerful story first published in the readers digest and which I happened to read at least a decade ago: (warning: It is inhuman and gruesome) http://www.fgmnetwork.org/articles/Waris.html

And so in summary on the topic of Circumcision, no "universal god that is love" can potentially ask a human being "made in his image" to undergo such a practice. Leave alone such an ask - a loving god will ferociously condemn such a practice. So, if such is the nature of your god, then fuck that god!

Summary
The summary of this article is essentially simple. Jehovah is no true god, but merely a child of human creation - one with Jupiter of the Romans and Zeus of the Greeks. He wasn't even the original Jewish god - that was Adonai which got kicked aside. So if the father is a product of human delusions, so much for the story of the son and of the holy spirit. Gives more substantiating evidence to what I already discussed in the first article.

Man created god - in his mind; and god exists only in the mind of the irrational man. And when his god does not manifest, the irrational man's faith actually grows stronger - perpetrating the vice of religion! For those who are rational enough to eschew such impotent gods and know that the randomness of the universe needs no god, and accepts no god, the universe is an "Amazing place" (but without all that kool-aid called "grace" - https://www.theatheistbook.com/products/a-better-life-an-exploration-of-joy-meaning-in-a-world-without-god)

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