Cain and Abel revisited.

The ancients dealt in concepts of God, gods, heart, soul, good and evil; even winged sphinxes and mixed human and divine beings. God and humans communicated directly according to antediluvian myth. The commentaries by pre-modern scholars were about ethics, morality and the nature of G od. Later, philosophers posited essences and values, logic and existence and a rationalization to life.

Freud posited an unconscious but did not specify where it was. Einstein confused everyone about time and his ideas have subsequently been confirmed. Darwin reluctantly upset the apple cart of certainty in creation. Dostoevsky and Nietzsche pointed out that humans avoid freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil. Edmund Wilson concluded that humans were mammals descended from other primates. Pinker has outlined the mechanics of language and has persuasively suggested that a language module in the brain generates language and grammar. I wish it worked more efficiently in my brain.

I interpret the story of Cain and Abel as an ontology concerning human consciousness. It was the first of many sibling stories in the bible. One can hardly believe that it was about siblings because monotheism did not allow for dualities in human awareness but it seems this is how they got around it. These ancient, you gotta watch them like a hawk.

Good and evil were brought up in the expulsion story but the concept was fleshed out with the offspring of Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel were brothers like good and evil are brother concepts, not opposites of one another.

If consciousness was the good brother Abel, then Cain was the identity of humans- the ego containing evil. Their ages reflected the essentialist philosophy that essence preceded existence. In other words, his Creator endowed man with His essence.

Ego depended on the mirror of consciousness and interpreted what was reflected as experience in the world, to be stored away as empirical data in memory. Representing unconscious ego, Cain, grew into its own powerful self and identity, he resented the need for consciousness, Abel, whose offering of the fat parts of Lamb God favored over Cain’s vegetable offering. Abel, the shepherd, represented a more God like occupation.  Abel’s was a pure offering, unadorned by value yet valuable to God. Cain’s offering was a result of judgments made by him in order to implement agriculture, the product of an ego. Cain judged it better than Abel’s offering and was jealous of God’s decision.

The moral and ethical lessons drawn from biblical text do not cover the relative nature of ethics and morality although the many discussions of its meaning do just that. There is no final agreement, only final judgments made by various interpreters. The later philosophers do not recognize the even later existentialist‚ claim that the unconscious is the signification of things in the world.

I think that the logical extension of that would include the subconscious, which would be the signification of things in the memory and imagination. In that light, the unconscious and the subconscious are grounded in concrete being; the content generated much the same way as language.  Scientists have established the evolution of biology and psychology. Yet, scientists have not identified consciousness only philosopher’s evolved theories about it.  

The idea that existence precedes essence makes the interpretation of the story of Cain and Abel concrete for me. It provides an elaboration to ideas that could only be expressed poetically due to the words and concepts available at the time they were written.

It is a further elaboration of the expulsion story that precedes it. Certain implications surrounding man‚ leaving the Garden of Eden do not address the changes in the mind of man, only the terms on which man will live in the world.

For me, the story of Cain and Abel provides evidence of the change in the mind of man. This was a layer of interpretation beneath even the ethical and moral considerations given to it. In the Garden, where the lion and lamb coexisted peacefully, Adam and Eve had puerile egos and they knew not of death, consciousness was merely an adjunct to communicating with God. The essence of God preceded the existence of man.

This is not so clear after the expulsion even to religious existentialists. Man defies all prevision, existence is here and now and essence is only a possibility. This may explain the hide-bound nature of the Eastern European Jew, like Cain, forced to wander because of essentialist prejudices.

A fully formed ego generates denial, just as it generates all of the comparisons it uses to interpret consciousness. It also denies that the ego depends on consciousness for its content; the ego being jealous, wants to destroy consciousness. When Cain asked, Am I my brother’s keeper? This very lawyerly rebuttal question to God was designed to put God into a double bind. Regardless of God’s answer, Cain had very practical arguments in his defense. His deceit extended even to God.

God did not answer, indicating that even for Him there is no answering someone in denial or any other dissociated state.  Excommunication with God and becoming a wanderer was the only effective response to Cain’s lying. A man in denial will not even listen to God.  It follows that it is Liberal hubris in thinking that dialogue can overcome ideology in persuading an opposition in denial. People who follow the direction of voices and who cannot be convinced of the harmfulness of the voices are doubly damned and it is not just a Conservative quirk.

Previously, Adam and Eve freely admitted to God that they disobeyed His command. After the expulsion, Cain has misused his freedom to choose from the knowledge of good and evil by hiding the truth from himself thereby becoming emboldened to dissimulate, even to God. This is the indication of the expansion of man’s mental capacity, how it can be misused and how difficult it is to deal with someone who dissimulates. God knew that he was guilty and decided not to kill him but to excommunicate him. I believe this is the crux of all discussion about this story. It means to me, that the actions devised by an ego without the benefit of consciousness are similar to lies made to God.

Cain went on to found the first city. Religion might be that city which claims to communicate with God, making consciousness a minor player in mental life. The ‚ÄòGod-ego’ is in a perpetual project to destroy or enslave consciousness out of jealousy. Consciousness, by its nature is non-judgmental; only the ego makes values.

If consciousness is freely accepted as God given or even as a given, it forces the individual to face his or her freedom to choose wisely in matters of right and wrong or to not choose at all, deferring to an adopted authority. It also indicates that those choices are based on the situation.

God later sees that man is hopelessly delinquent on that score and He delivers The Ten Commandments in order to bind man to him through laws that will also serve as moral guides. By doing this God indicates that man’s existence precedes any essence.

This is not only contrary to prevailing philosophies but to essentialist philosophies of Plato and Aristotle; that somewhere in the world is the essence of Truth and Beauty, preformed and prefigured into the scheme of things. A comforting thought to those who only want to look hard enough to find these essences and not have to take on the responsibility to reason them for themselves.

This story offers an opportunity to discuss the role of consciousness. It was through Cain that we learn of God’s decision to banish Cain yet protect him, indicating that Cain had an active role in determining his own punishment. He was straightforward enough about that, not arguing his guilt but his punishment. God didn’t want him killed, so He marked him, thus preserving the ego of man. It is up to humans to find and preserve their own consciousness and use it to inform the ego.

Denial is a useful device to prop up a tautology when that tautology is used for one’s own selfish motives. Saying to your child that Moses parted the Red Sea may serve the purpose of encouraging your child to delight in his or her imagination. Continuing to insist that Moses parted the Red Sea after your child has grown is a puerile and destructive faith exercised only for achieving power. Not acknowledging that it was a story from the collective unconscious (Jung wasn’t far off) is a betrayal of human consciousness.

The continuing evaluation of biblical meaning is important because so many people take it as the received word of God. In the expulsion story, Eve was told that she will be ruled by her husband. Certainly that is reason enough to further examine the meaning of that communication by God. Subsequent centuries have seen the subjugation of women, sanctioned by men who are ostensibly following the direction of God.

Why did the serpent choose Chava, the mother of humanity? It took the sneakiest of God’s creatures to entice her to eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, even with the puerile state of her ego before eating the fruit. Eve only had to offer the opportunity to Adam for him to taste the fruit. It wasn’t necessary for the serpent to persuade him. But, this has been used against women as if they are weaker and more gullible than men. I was duped, Eve explained to God. Adam could only blame his wife.

Come the New Testament, today’s version mostly commissioned and edited by Roman Emperors; a political document. It’s not possible to interpret the New Testament ontologically any more than it is the Magna Charta. Until then, the Emperors were the nominal gods, now a young Jew from the hinterlands was being hailed as replacement God. It only made sense to commandeer the narrative. In an increasingly more conservative democracy in the United States, the media is doing the same by hijacking the narrative.

Jesus taught Godliness, no one followed these teachings except St. Francis. St. Francis lived a life of agony because he believed that there was a God. He ultimately failed to help all of humanity but, according to him, he served God. What was needed was Christianism or Islamism, not the certainty of God that is Christianity and Islam. The writers of the New Testament have largely ignored the conclusion drawn from the expulsion story. Man is condemned to be human, to be free to choose from the knowledge of good and evil and that he will die.

Christian charity, to pick out the most prominently lauded form of charity in the West, requires only a little suffering if any, to make its proponents feel justified and cleansed by their works. Three billion people living in poverty makes the point. Adding up the cost of bringing health care, nutrition, clothing, housing, and education makes it clear that the haves are living at the expense the have nots’.

In the United States, the total amount of charity dollars was generously estimated to be eight hundred billion dollars from all sources in 2005. The cost of damage from hurricane Katrina alone is estimated to be six to ten trillion dollars. It stretches credibility to believe that contributed time or taxes make up the shortfall. It brings into doubt people’s claim that they deserve rights for their hard work or property ownership. It implies that without these incentives, people would not work, create, think or live morally.

Utopians; whether secular Marxist types or religious Godly types are not content to encourage the private practice of their axioms, but must invest themselves with political authority, which they don’t deserve. Idealists need a certain amount of reality in order to deny it. Similarly, realists require more than a little idealism in order to trample it. Violent video games and Gangsta rap demonstrate that.

While it is true that people want and need God, they demonstrate that a golden calf (Cadillac?) that has a good ride and parks easily at the mall will do. Those who believe in the literal interpretation of the bible will have missed the point that the Messiah will return when people are able to act Godly, not just accept Jesus into their hearts. They use the lame excuse of just being another sinner and one of God’s children to excuse their bad behavior and thoughtlessness while acknowledging the immorality of their actions in war and even in their day to day existence.

Born again folks believe that they have a free ticket to heaven. Did they think that Jesus was not serious after giving the good news and they were further commanded, Go and sin no more.  I wonder if the waiting room in the Kingdom of Heaven is any nicer than the waiting room in a Ugandan hospital emergency room where they will probably have to wait an eternity.

Leading a conscious and mindful life is the best one can hope for in the world. It stretches the powers of imagination and compassion by choosing the appropriate action for any particular situation. Politicians today, would like us to believe that achieving unchallenged power is God’s work; this childish concept seems to work for consumers who don’t want to examine the capricious nature of that power and their own foolish choices. They prefer peace, even death to freedom of choice in creating themselves.

Conventionally minded religious people who have incorporated absolutist philosophies are happier than those who have paid attention to the bible lesson that teaches that after the expulsion from Eden, that they are condemned to be human. Yet, they try to make themselves believe that they are saved from that labor.

Denial is lying. Christians vicariously see the expulsion as the fall of man, not the freedom of man or the opportunity of man. That is why I question their collective values. They can neither adapt constituted values nor generate their own because they continually hide them from themselves by covering them with the fall of man.

They have composed an excuse for man to have invalid ideas by subordinating consciousness to God. They look to a Biblical statement in order to remember their values or argue that they have them written for them. They can say that they have values but they have them in the sense that one has credit at the bank.

Their stated values have no value. There is no redemption in their deeds because they are performed to get grace points, not to love their fellow man. What is more, it doesn’t require that you love your fellow man to have compassion for him and help him. They miss that point as well. They cannot face the truth that man is the being that creates value.

My Consciousness endures God as declared by humans. No human can make a believable determination about whether God exists or God does not exist. Because of this, God, is nobody’s business but consciousness is.

People have one undeniable function, to survive. Evolution is one way to achieve that life-sustaining imperative.

I have had some disagreements about the future of human evolution. I maintain that as long as we are aware of that, we can effect changes in it. The way to do that, I think, is to rid our selves of denial because it is no longer adaptive.

I must be the only one who admits to it. It is not the same as recognizing one’s unconscious denials and making them conscious, it is abandoning them by cooperating with others. It is not a psychological project; rather, it is small group projects with concrete goals.

One of the big steps in evolution, again, IMO, was democracy, a deliberate conscious agreement in a past Enlightenment.

Politics is, I think, a cause for regression because politics no longer works in this democracy to match candidates and issues with voters. In the early development of the United States, it was an informal, agreed upon method to match candidates and issues to voters.

It has become a racket because its patrons are captives of fear. Politics is populated by a self-serving culture that only has political dominance as a goal. Divisiveness is their business plan; there are no longer disagreements but artificial hatreds. R’s and D’s hate each other like pit bulls trained to fight. If you are not a gambler, this game is not for you.

Mature democracies are burdened by militarism, neo-colonialism, class disparity and the tendency to concentrate wealth and power, resulting in conservatism. The things that I see as being wrong occurred in this democracy.

I am concerned with the struggle for human rights and social justice, i.e. the progress of civilization; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, building playgrounds at your school, healing the sick, freeing the unjustly persecuted and teaching the illiterate.

This struggle is not contained in the politics box, the economics box or the God box. In fact, people perseverate in these things like walking and spasticity in a neurological condition.

A personal ideology, well formed and thoughtful will help any individual but if it is not mine, I don’t want it. I say, get to work feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, building playgrounds at your school, healing the sick, freeing the unjustly persecuted and teaching the illiterate.

If you do that with other people, you will compromise with each other and eventually when enough people do that, a new politics will arise from that.

If you keep supporting the phony political wars with time and money, you will delay your own progress and probably evolution.

     

1 comment

    • Diane G on September 21, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Lots to chew on here.

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