Introducing An Alternative Blog: A Skeptic’s Bible Studies

After giving this matter some thought, I have decided to create a topic specific blog as an alternative to my ahumanistsperspective.wordpress.com site. Now, by no means will I abandon my Humanists Perspective site, for such is and will remain a viable outlet for my thoughts and writings. However; as those of you who have read my Humanists Perspective site may have noticed, I have a keen interest in the Bible, and write on such from time to time. As I think on it, I tend to write on the Bible from two perspectives, only one of which really relates to the concerns of humanism.

On the one hand, I am proned to write on my concerns regarding the Religious Right. I am a firm proponent of the separation of Church and State, and the contemporary social climate of Right Wing Religious sorts only affirms my concern with regards to such. That said, I oftentimes address the Right Wing extremism which has plagued our society by critiquing the Bible itself, for the simple reason that so often times archaic Hebrew principles are incorporated into the thinking of our society through the influence of Fundamentalist Christians. There is too much bigotry and sexism whose root is founded upon religious ideology that frankly should have gone by the wayside aeons ago. Thus, I believe that Bible discussions in that context and toward the end of contesting the Religious Right, are discussions which are most definitely suited for my Humanists Perspective site, and thus I shall continue in that regard.

I also have an interest in good old fashioned Biblical exegesis; although my perspective is anything but old fashioned. Having been raised on the Bible, I suppose I am just too taken with the book that I once took literally, and simply must continue to study the Hebrew scriptures now that I am able to view such from a completely different perspective than I did in years gone by. For whereas I once considered the Bible to be literal and historical, I now view such to be a national myth and mostly allegorical. And in this regard, I am simply fascinated by both the Hebrew Bible (aka: Old Testament), and the Judeo and Hellenic writings known as the New Testament.

And so I now view the heroes of the Old Testament to be representative of specific facets of the making of a Nation, and the New Testament to be representative of a mystical replacement for national aspiration long lost in view of promises for a messianic delivery forever forgotten. My perspective then is that The Old Testament is a myth of the hopes of a great nation in the making, and the New Testament became a mystical substitute for a nation of people who were both defeated and dispersed to a life of insignificance and non-identity.

It is from these perspectives then that I will share some of my studies, and record my reflections in this; a skeptic’s bible studies.

So if you are so inclined, please do suscribe to: https://askepticsbiblestudies.wordpress.com/

Either way, thank you for reading.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

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Civilization’s Song

Some march off to war;
Others march for peace.
Corporate vermin,
Shear the sheep for their fleece.

Poor boy becomes a thief,
Rich boy spends daddy’s loot.
Paranoia abounds,
Everyone learns to shoot.

Turn your back on the poor,
Teach them to fend for themselves.
Treat ‘em like a commodity,
Like an item on a shelf.

Don’t you dare marry Jonathan,
If your name is Dave.
Biblical homosexuality?
Did they so behave?

Dead man in the streets!
Oh, no need to worry.
Just another black thug,
Off to work we scurry.

Revised history down in Texas,
The facts we must be rinsing.
Young Texans should not be taught,
Of conquest by ethnic cleansing.

Thousands dead in Gaza,
Chomsky calls it “mowing the lawn”.
Faux News calls it justice.
I just call it wrong.

Sonny and Cher had it right,
Truly the beat does go on.
Time to end this rhythmic lyric,
I call it: “Civilization’s Song”.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

Adam and Eve: A Myth About Reality

Myths are a fascinating form of communication. Not only do myths teach and reveal certain very basic truths, but they can also be quite revealing as to the way the narrator thinks. This in turn can and oftentimes does offer the reader a glimpse into the world in which the narrator lived. The clues as to such are in the details, and the details are that which; to me, make myths such a fascinating form of communication.

Take as an example the myth of Adam and Eve. Undoubtedly, one of the best known myths of our era. The myth of Adam and Eve of course relates the story about the original couple, who the narrator portrays as having lived together once upon a time in a paradise known as the Garden of Eden. Per the myth, Adam and Eve unfortunately failed to live up to the standards of God, who had made the effort to plant the garden on behalf of the charter couple. Thus, they were expelled from the garden, into the real world, where they lived….. Well, unlike many myths, which conclude with the words “and they lived happily ever after”, no such concept is presented in the myth of the original couple. Rather, they merely lived. And such is actually the most basic lesson that I myself take from the myth of Adam and Eve.

For once you get past human beings springing forth from soil and surgeries, forbidden fruit trees, and talking Serpents, this myth is reduced to a most fundamental truth based upon a rudimentary reality. That reality being that life is a constant struggle against one’s immediate elements, and then we decay, and then we die. Such is life. And that is actually the point, for if nothing else; the myth of Adam and Eve is a commentary on life. And so how ironic that the myth begins in Paradise, for actually this myth is not only about life, but more specifically life in the real world.

And it is at this point in the myth that I personally feel comfortable to analyze the content, even though the banishment into the real world somewhat concludes that which is commonly regarded as “the creation account”. In my studies, the analysis begins at that point for the simple reason that this is where the myth gets real. I cannot relate to magically produced men, and women that spring forth from a side splitting surgery. Nor can I relate to magic trees and talking serpents. But I can relate to the struggles of everyday life, working “by the sweat of the brow” in order to make a living and pay bills. And I can relate to physical hardships. Furthermore; having witnessed the birth of my three children, I even have an abstract appreciation for the hardships of my feminine sisters in the family of humanity. The struggles of the human experience. Such is what life is. Such is what the described curse upon Adam and Eve is all about. And so I relate on an existential level to the curse of the hardships of the human experience as described in Genesis 3. Thus, it is at this point of continuity with the narrator that I am able to analyze the myth itself, and thereby ascertain the message so revealed.

When I read the narrator’s description of the curses that God put upon Adam and Eve, I am immediately aware that the writer is like myself: A working man who endures each day of life as a means to survive, and just doing his best in the process. A man who struggles everyday to survive. A man who wanders why life has to be so tough, but a man who has no time to overthink the situation which is the human experience because he has to remain kinetic just to stay above ground so to speak. Like Bob Seger, he is running against the wind. Like Bob Dylan, he is a rolling stone who cannot afford to take a day to rest. And like Robert Frost, he would like to stop and take it all in, except he has promises to keep, and miles to go before he sleeps. Indeed, the curse of God upon the charter couple of humanity is the reality of the myth of Adam and Eve which navigates this tale from fantasy to reality. And as is always the case, reality is that which unites all humanity, for reality; such as it is, is all that any of us has ever known.

Now there is another internal detail relative to the myth of Adam and Eve which I suggest offers clear insight as to the gender of the narrator. It seems obvious to me that that the narrator is a male. Not that this question has ever been debated. I merely suggest that the gender of the narrator is evident by the internal details, and therefore does not have to be accepted merely as a matter of tradition. Now the reason I am so certain that the narrator is a man is that I find it hard to believe that any woman would throw her sister Eve under the bus to take the blame throughout all Hebrew history for the hardships which are natural to the human experience. But frankly, I can see a man doing so. I truly can. Sad to say, but it is an all too often male thing to do. “Blame it on Eve” is an all too prevalent pattern of male behaviour which seeks to transfer blame for perceived failures as a means to process the frustrations of the hardships of the daily experience of the human predicament. It is therefore no stretch of the imagination to picture the narrator of the myth doing the same either cognizantly or subconsciously.

And inasmuch as the narrator did indeed take the low road by blaming the woman in the story for all the natural hardships of the entire human experience; nonetheless the poor guy was likely a product of his environment. Not that such justifies his literary blame shift, but no doubt his patriarchal perspective was a conditioned experience. In fact there are two clear internal indicators in the myth which are revealing as to the extent of the patriarchy of his day. One such indicator is that the setting of the sinful deed involves the doings of an independent woman. The second such factor is that she did so while separate from an inattentive man. Now, when I say independent woman, I do not mean that she was not an individual with a mind of her own and who had the freedom to express her will and explore her world on her own, for such I believe to have been her natural right. However; I daresay that the society of the narrator would by no means maintain such an open mind as to her rights of individuality. And when I say inattentive man, I do not mean he did not bring her flowers or failed to say ‘I love you’ to the woman enough. Rather I mean that in the eyes of the narrator’s society, Adam would have been deficient in keeping an eye on her activities and maintaining control over her comings and goings. Now, such thinking is limited, antiquated and stifling. And certainly unacceptable by the standards of a society which has been socially enlightened as to the reality of the equality of the genders. Nonetheless; I do not doubt that the world in which the narrator lived would have judged Adam as deficient in his social duties as a man due to his being inattentive as to the comings and goings of Eve, while at the same time would have judged Eve as defiant and deficient in her social obligations as a woman due to the fact that she actually dared to think and function for herself. Hence, the narrator portrays a scenario which I suggest both reveals him not only as a man, but likewise as a man who was a product of a patriarchal society.

The myth of Adam and Eve being the literary creation of a man who was the product of a patriarchal environment, then the qualifying of an act of autonomous volition by an independent woman as an explanation for all the natural hardships of the human experience is somewhat to be expected, if not outright predictable. But by no means justifiable.

The fallout of such limited thinking of course has been the ongoing subjugation of the female in societies so influenced by this ancient myth. And aside from the clear cut moral deficiency of patriarchal thinking and sexist ideology, the shame of the situation is that such ruins the effect of and misses the most fundamental point of that which to my way of thinking is a most profound and practical literary creation of the human imagination. For the myth of Adam and Eve is simply an astounding literary commentary on the existential reality that life is no paradise, and that ultimately the human experience is that of incessant drudgery, unavoidable decay, and an inevitable death. And I personally have no doubts that the creator (no pun intended) of the myth of Adam and Eve was struggling with that very reality. And so he responded with a literary tale truly representative of his times. And thereby blamed Eve for all the natural hardships of the human experience. Well, I suppose everyone has to cope with the human predicament on their own terms.

For the fundamentalist Christian copes with the realities of the hardship of the human experience by aspiring to an eternal existence with Jesus in the sweet by and by.

And many of the early Christians (and a few of the contemporary ones) coped with such by envisioning returning to a loving, merciful, and sweet heavenly Father who sent Jesus to earth to deliver them from the evil Creator God Jehovah.

Then there are the earth bound humanist types of philosophies which rationalize life as an experience to be lived, and death as simply a part of that process.

As for myself, I am an earth bound humanist type who qualifies as an Atheist and who reasons as an Epicuran. I rationalize life as an unavoidable experience, friendship and fellowship with my familiars as the most viable means of security and satisfaction, and death as release from suffering and a return of my elements to the earth to be recirculated into some other form of natural existence.

Life is no paradise, and speaking for myself I do not anticipate such after I expire.

But then, who knows?

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas