Monday, September 7, 2009

The Wobble God Hypothesis--a personal caveat to How Not to Talk of God

One thing I do not understand about such discussions as these—and it is probably such a silly question that it does not deserve an answer—is why are we so focused on the generic God. Used to be that the God had a name: Kali, Shiva, Dionysius, Apollo, Zeus, Hera, Isis, Orisis, Set, Amon Ra, Thor, Loki, and so on and on. In the history of ideas there must have come a time when this generic God rose up and replaced these others.

I have three thoughts about this: One is that we forgot the name of God—supposedly—so we have to call him by the Generic. Two is that the name of God is so sacred that we dare not use the name, if we knew it.

I have heard, however, of a third explanation. That is that all these named Gods were associated with stellar phenomena so that constellations were named for them and so forth. These constellations and the dominance of the God associated with each of them shifted about once each 2,000 years. So we had an age dominated by the Apis sacred bull God associated with the constellation Taurus, an age dominated by the Ram God Osirus associated with Aries, an age dominated by the constellation Pisces which accounts for the fish imagery in Christianity, which has just come to an end to be replaced with the so called "Age of Aquarius."

When it was realized that there was a grand precession of the constellations ancient astronomers realized that this implied the existence of a super God who ruled over the others and placed them among the stars. Some think that the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep IV in response to this insight overthrew Egypt’s ancient religion and created the solar religion of the Aten and created a whole new capital on the west bank of the Nile called Armarna to be the center for this new religion and renamed himself Akhenaten. From this new monotheistic religion many believe the Abrahamic religions rose.

Now astronomers realize that this grand precession of constellations is the result of a wobble in the earth’s axis which creates the way the constellations can be seen. Consequently, we might call this idea of a super God beyond all the ancient constellation Gods, the Wobble God hypothesis. The problem with the wobble God is that it did not have the personal accessibility apparent in the older gods such as Osirus and Isis and Amun Ra. That is the ancients could look up into the heavens and see the constellations, but they could not see the wobble, all they knew was that something or someone very powerful was causing the constellations to drift across the heavens in a 2,000 year precession, something that was literally beyond their comprehension.

Because they had no language to describe it, or conceptual ground to explain it, the Wobble God became the unknowable one, our generic God. Because it is much harder to have a personal relationship with a God created by a wobble they could not understand at the time, as soon as Akhenaten died, the Egyptians quickly returned to the worship of the older gods they could visually comprehend. Moreover, the 2,000 year change of the precession was far beyond their brief life times and hence impossible for them to comprehend the timescale involved in the recognition of this new super god. For hundreds of years as these different religions came into contact with each other, they recognized that each was an expression of these constellational divinities, so that they recognized Zeus as Osirus, Apollo as Ra and so forth. It was only the descendents of the Armarna experiment, as Jan Assman calls it in his book Moses the Egyptian, who persisted in worshiping the Wobble God rejecting all other constellation Gods as inferior to it.

What we are left with then is the Abrahamic religions who all reject the constellation Gods in favor of the unknowable force which set them in the heavens in the first place. And so we have the generic god who is without a name because its existence is literally beyond the ancient’s ability to comprehend as they had no knowledge of the spherical earth or its wobble which caused their view of the constellations to shift in a 26,000 year precession. This is similar to the enormity of the billions of years inherent in the geological concept of Deep time, which makes evolution so hard for those of us granted only three score and ten in our life cycles to comprehend that many reject it out right in favor of a much more familiar creation story from Genesis.

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