Why do so many feel unsafe?

Continued from Home Page

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. "
- John F. Kennedy


The first myth which permeates all our Institutions and cultural stories comes from Genesis. In short god created everything.

Those who develped these ancient stories were ruled by monarchs, often tyrannical figures larger than life like the super-rulers of Chaldea, Egypt and Persia whose existence suggested that god must be like a great king of the universe, wise and just but also exacting.

Thus when Genesis came to be written down, the writers like all writers, could only draw upon what was already known; and what already lay in consciousness came from the political cultures of the Tigres - Euphrates and Egypt. Despite the many god and goddesses of, for example, the Greeks and Romans, of Northern Valhalla, the Celts and Hindus, the writers of Genesis describe only one god; and this monotheism came from Egypt. It was created by Amenhotep IV (c 1379 B.C).

This Pharaoh, who married Neffertiti, was so fanatical about the sun god Aten that he changed his name to Akenaten (servant of Aten) and moved the capital from Thebes to el-Amarna. Creating a new capital is a tremendous undertaking and shows how driven this man was to physically remove from statuary and from any hieroglyphic mention any signs of other gods. By the time of his death monotheism was established and Amenhotep IV's enormous undertakings ensured he would be remembered by history. One need look no further than the first Commandment to see the influence of this monotheism.

As we have seen in the evolution of this myth the god of Genesis is a King of the universe, to be bowed down to. The most noteworthy example of the source of this image was another figure who dominated man's memory at this time; his name was Hammurabi (died c. 1750 B.C) , the king of Babylon and conquerer of Mesopotamia.

He is best known to history as the creator of the Hammurabi Code, a series of about 280 Laws which were inherited by the Jews.The best known of these laws is the one about 'an eye for an eye', so we know he wasn't squeamish. He is generally described as 'a strong but fair' ruler but in reality he was one of the early, powerful, patriarchal Kings who may also be described as a tyrant. This latter description is due to the way he used his military to subdue and conquer all of Mesopotamia. Certainly the record show his laws involved strict punishments of offenders.

So the myth of Genesis gives us the popular view of a heavenly King , a singular god who is male, all powerful, law giving and not averse to punishment. He is apart from the earth, like a strict overseeing patriarch, so he is not one of us. This has certain advantages in that like children we may feel we are looked after however, we are also always being watched and judged and if we don't come up to scratch ... well it's eternal damnation with the devil. (Apparently the authors didn't realise that if their god was absolute then he could have no opposite such as a devil). Then our ancestor, an artifact made from clay, was thrown out of the garden. So we cannot help but wonder if the garden was really ever ours to begin with.

If the structure of churches and the language of prayer is considered then in both may be seen reflection of these origins. In mainstream Christianity congregations kneel before an altar as if before a King; and in the Protestant traditions before what is more like a court. And in both the words of prayer are full of supplication.

In this scenario humans are dependent upon god who is somehow outside and beyond them and they had better not break the rules because they may be thrown out at any time. Hardly the way to make us feel secure.

More was to come later, after the formation of the early church, in one of its early Councils, probably either the Council of Nicaea, convened by the Roman Emperor Constanitne 1 in 325 A.D. or the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D.

A little background:- Rome had feared the belief in reincarnation since it was invaded and, all but the inner city, occupied by the Celts around 387 BC. Legend has it that they remained, wreaking havoc, for about 7 months until driven off by 'the white maidens', that is, snow. Then during the early Christian era Rome found it difficult to instill obedience by punishment and was taken aback by the willingness of Christians to become martyrs.

So the Church fathers banned the belief of reincarnation and then they created the Doctrine of Depravity and to this day men and women carry around a terrible, crippling burden of guilt. This doctrine has it that we are all corrupt, that we are born in sin called 'original sin'; and left to our own devices we are banned from Heaven and doomed to the other place! Only the church had the power to intercede on our behalf so man was still not existing in his own right, he was beholden to a great religious monopoly.

So in the collective unconscious lay the notion that man didn't really belong on earth (the garden) but was an inherently corrupt being, separate from god, threatened with eternal damnation and unable to bring about his own redemption. As long as things held together, through a mixture of fear and faith, then life was at least stable and there was a reward awaiting in heaven if the commandments and lots of other rules were all kept, such as not enjoying sex or pleasure (to this day children are exposed to thousands of murders on tv but they must not watch love-making).

But then along came science..................


Relevant comment from Joseph Campbell

A myth is the dynamic of life. You may or may not know it, and the myth you may be respectfully worshipping on Sunday may not be the one that's really working in your heart and the one that's out there in the view of your religious instructors.


The thing I see about the Bible that's unfortunate is that it's a tribally circumscribed mythology. It deals with a certain people at a certain time. The Christians magnified it to include them.