Why is God male?

Thealogy - the politics and sociology of religion and Abrahamic Hypermasculinity

1. Gender and God - Basic Sex Education
Why is God male rather than female? Come to that, what's the origin and meaning of gender?
Geneticists tell us that gender is required for the process of sexual reproduction, which is a biological mechanism to allow DNA to recombine in different and potentially novel combinations. Without sexual reproduction, evolution would be a lot slower and all populations would eventually end up as clones, which could be completely wiped out with the emergence of any new strain of parasite.

Patriarchal religions preach that God is a single unborn, uncreated, unevolved, non-biological entity who does not reproduce and will endure for all eternity. He hasn't undergone evolution Himself (and he disagrees with its being taught in schools). He presumably doesn't suffer from parasites (apart from the occasional TV evangelist) so why does He need to be sexually differentiated at all?

Why male?
- If He is male, then who is his 'better half'? Surely to goodness it can't be the devil, because the devil is also male.
- So then what has happened to Mrs God?
- Was she ever there in the first place?
- And what is the 'difference that makes the difference' between Him and the female of His species?
- If there is only one sex of God then what are you comparing him against when you say he is male?
- What exactly is the (non-existent?) 'Other' that a male God is not?
- And what's more, will you go to hell if you ask these sorts of questions?

When you put maleness in plain biological terms, (DNA, chromosomes, sperm, eggs and all that stuff) there seems to be something nonsensical about a male God in the absence of a female.

But it does make political and sociological sense to have a male God if you bear in mind that God is defined in terms of superlatives. He's the greatest in all respects. Omnipotent, omniscient, almighty, eternal, highest in the highest, supremely good. All these are definitions of exalted status - high versus low - powerful versus weak - wise versus stupid - permanent versus temporary - good versus evil, and of course male versus female...

1.1 Neolithic Earth Mother
But it wasn't always like this. In Neolithic times the divinity was portrayed as the earthmother - the very ground of being. She was also symbolised by wells and springs. The Goddess was regarded as the source and upwelling, not only of sustenance, but also of all creative potential (awen) and numinous experience.

So why did things change? Why did our ancestors abandon the peaceful, creative Goddess and construct a ferociously destructive male God with an intolerant theology to match? Why was the intuitively-based spirituality of the Old Religion almost completely destroyed by the literal-minded followers of the macho warrior in the sky?

This article will investigate the stages of construction of the God up to His most terrifyingly sadistic aspect (as patron of the Holy Inquisition), and then his subsequent deconstruction by science, philosophy, political analysis and especially radical feminist thealogy. Finally we'll examine what's left, and ask whether we've actually made any spiritual progress since the Neolithic age or have just about come full circle.



Gimme that old time religion

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Most of the ancient sites in Britain have a powerful numinous atmosphere, but it is not in the least threatening or oppressive. There is a feeling of antiquity and peace, which one gets at many sites more than a thousand years old. But there is also a feeling of timelessness, as if what was present at the construction of the sites is still there today . Many old 'secular' sites, for example Roman forts, have an atmosphere of antiquity, but this is coupled with lifelessness - almost staleness - of things long gone and decayed. But the Neolithic sites, though far older, still have a pristine spring-like freshness about them - they are alive yet intensly peaceful. The reason that so many people are attracted to these places is that they generate intuitively spiritual experiences without having to rely on any form of dogma.
Many of the more powerful ancient sites have Christian churches built on them, but the calm 'numinous' aura persists. That both Celtic and Anglican Christianity have long been associated with these upwellings of awen may well account for the relative lack of fanaticism in these forms of Christianity, when compared with their continental equivalents.


1.2 Iron age warriors and the eclipse of the Goddess

But to return to the reasons for the eclipse of the Goddess. What seems to have happened is that her practitioners fell victim to technological change. In Neolithic times and well into the Bronze Age, there was a single peaceful culture throughout most of Western Europe. There were sufficient resources and political stability to transport huge ceremonial stones over hundreds of miles and erect them as places of worship. These stones circles and avenues were constructed to the same basic unit of measurement (the megalithic yard) from one end of Britain to the other, demonstrating cultural and technical uniformity over an area far larger than the individual tribal lands. Fortifications were relatively rare in the Neolithic period and most structures had a spiritual function. Large scale ritual landscapes were mapped out on the surface of the earth, and in places of power shrines were established to the Goddess.

Then came the great technological advance - iron. The previous technologies of stone weapons had been relatively inneffective and bronze weapons scarce and not particularly sturdy. But iron was plentiful and could be made into highly effective weapons. For the first time there was enough metal around for every tribe to have a fully equipped army. Warfare and anarchy became a way of life and political unity collapsed. This was the era of the construction of the hill forts in Britain and fortified cities in the Middle East. Rape and pillage was the order of the day. Desirable booty was anything made of metal, and young childbearing women to procreate the tribe and provide enjoyment for the warriors.

"...and they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord " -
JOSHUA Chapter 6 verse 24

"Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women-children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves" NUMBERS chapter 31 verses 17 - 18

Moses was very much an Iron Age warrior acting on instructions from the Great Tribal Warlord in the Sky. (At least Moses had the excuse that he was 'only obeying orders'). A woman's only function in this man's world was as a chattel or a piece of war booty, and anything that could possibly have been made pregnant by its previous owner was to be killed. We can imagine the charming Biblical scene of young female children being subjected to intimate examination while their brothers, elder sisters and parents were being put to the sword around them, and all in the name of The Lord.  How come we were never taught this in Sunday School?

[Note that the God-given right for men to sexually abuse children is not just a Biblical phenomenon   -  see The Three Poisons ]

The only real resistance to Iron Age androcentrism was in the Celtic lands of Gaul, Britain and Ireland, which held out longest against patriarchal oppression. Up to the time of the Roman invasions women had equal rights, could hold property and succeed to the throne. The Celtic women were a pretty wild bunch, not easily subdued and could even lead their tribe in war, as did Boadicea who raised an army and fought an intially successful campaign against the Roman occupation of Britain. The Celtic goddesses were a pretty tough crew as well. Brigit in Ireland had made the transition to the Iron Age with a vengeance - she had become the patron Goddess of smelting and metal-working, a position reserved for male deities in all other pantheons. But she was also the goddess of all the creative arts including poetry (regarded as a religious sacrament by the Celts). Brigit occupied such a powerful position in the Irish psyche that the church could not suppress her, and had to marginalise her by changing her into a Christian saint - Brigit or Bride. She was eventually relegated to be a sort of patron saint of midwives.

1.3 The Iron Age Warlord in the Sky
Throughout the Middle East the warrior took over the mantle of deity, but in the first instance as the force of wanton destruction. Presumably the forces of creation still resided in the female aspect of the divine - but not for long. The Warlord was about to rape and pillage the Goddess in order to make good his deficiencies

2 The Warlord's defects and deficiencies:

2.1 The problem of creation
The female was still needed for creation of new life, and indeed the earth mother was a potent ancient symbol that needed to be subdued. The problem was solved by the Genesis creation myth. God created the world and then created Adam. Eve was created out of Adam's spare rib "she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man" - Genesis 2:23 . Genesis put woman firmly in her place: third in line after two males.

2.2 The problem of evil
The only difficulty with God taking over responsibility for creation of everything is that the world as we see it is far from perfect. There is suffering and death etc. Either God was a pretty lousy project manager or somebody else had screwed things up. Genesis tells us that there were only three players in the early stages - God, Adam and Eve. Guess who got the blame.

Some liberal theologians accept that the earth may not have been created exactly as described in Genesis, so they interpret the Biblical story as being allegorical. But what is it an allegory of? What are its two take-home messages?

2.3 The problem of power
The Warlord was powerful (but not yet omnipotent). The Warrior in the Sky was originally the God of the tribe, and other tribes had their own Gods.

The commandment was 'Thou shalt have no other Gods before me - I am a jealous God' etc not 'There are no other Gods but me and if you're stupid enough to worship them you won't make me jealous because I'd have to be totally paranoid to get jealous of something that doesn't exist' .

This problem had to be resolved now that God had become the creator of the universe. The only logical way out was to make him the one and only God and regard other tribes' gods as being either non-existent or some form of low-life demon.

2.4 The problem of exclusivism
Now that God was one and universal, what do you do about other tribes? You could either accept that your tribe had a very special relationship with God and that was it, or that the other tribes also had a special relationship with God except they just didn't know it yet and it was your job to convince them. The Jews took one route, the Christians another.

2.5 The problem of retribution
Some Jews and the early Christians believed in reincarnation, with people being reborn within the same family lineage. That's why the sins of the fathers were visited upon the children unto the eighth and ninth generation. If He didn't get you in this lifetime He'd revenge himself on your future incarnations. The idea of sin was very legalistic. There was no concept of mercy and God was implacable. He had also recently become omniscient, so none of your actions or indeed thoughts could be hidden from Him. Yet His scope of retribution was limited. He could kill you and do nasty things to your children, grandchildren great-grandchildren etc unto the umpteenth generation. But he couldn't send you to hell for all eternity because hell hadn't been invented yet.

Jesus attempted to introduce some compassion and appeared to regard women as the equal of men. It is possible that Jesus may have come into contact with Buddhism before beginning his ministry. But his disciples were men of their time and soon reverted to form. Their writings must be treated with the hermeneutics of suspicion. Meanwhile a separate and more authentic branch of Christianity had been carried to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea. This mixed with indigenous Celtic spirituality to produce a short-lived but brilliantly creative civilisation and a much more tolerant version of Christianity than was prevalent in the continental Roman Empire

2.6 Eternal damnation
The idea of reincarnation and sins being visited on the hapless progeny for the next few hundred years wasn't good enough for the Romans, who were particularly fond of long drawn out and sadistic punishments imposed by their tyrannical rulers. And what could be more long drawn out and sadistic than being burned for all eternity? The Warlord-in-the-sky had become Caesar-in-the-sky. The memetic loop was complete and the final ingredients were in place for fourteen centuries of repression.

The early theologians heaped superlatives on God as one might flatter a Roman Emperor. Omniscient, omnipotent, eternal, supremely good, unchanging  (in ancient Platonic philosophy anything that was capable of change was regarded as imperfect).

For centuries after no-one seemed too keen to point out that some of these terms are mutually contradictory. But then the consequences of doing so would involve several weeks as the guest of the Holy Inquisition followed by burning alive of whatever gibbering wretch of a human being was left at the end of the process.

The Bible became the infallible word of God. - How do we know it's the word of God? Because it says so. How do we know what it says is true? Because it's the word of God. Biblical criticism was not encouraged.

3. The Burning Times
The church was becoming uneasy. It was riddled with corruption and split by schisms. A combination of religious wars, epidemics and revolts led to an outbreak of paranoia and the need to find scapegoats. In 1494 the Church published the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the Witches) which inaugurated three centuries of persecution. The vast majority of the victims were women, not only followers of the Old Religion, but also any women who owned land or property which could be confiscated by the Church. Throughout Europe, hundreds of thousands of women, girls and even young children were tortured into confessing being in league with the devil and then burnt at the stake for practising witchcraft. All dissent was eventually crushed, and the Old Religion was left with just a few surviving followers in the areas most remote from Rome. The period from 1500 to 1700 represents the high point of patriarchal authoritarianism in the West.

3.1 Science and religion
Having removed what it viewed as one source of dissent, the Vatican now came under attack from improvements in technology. Things started to go wrong with the invention of the telescope. The more detailed observations made possible by the telescope proved that the earth was not the centre of the universe, and that the earth went round the sun, not vice versa as stated in the Bible. The Pope attempted to suppress this knowledge by the usual process of torture and burning alive, but eventually he had to accept that the Bible wasn't literally true.

4. Philosophical criticism
With the literal truth of the Bible in question, philosophers could begin to point out the Emperor's lack of clothing. Ontolological superlatives, overspecification and theological hype had produced a tangle of logical contradictions which had never been challenged for a millenium (apart from the practitioners of the Old Religion who saw through all this bullshit - but they had to keep their mouths shut or burn). The contradictions were as follows:

4.1 Omniscience is incompatible with Love
The logical contradictions in the idea of a supreme being who is omniscient, and yet allows his creatures the free will to damn themselves, began to be questioned. If he is omniscient (all-knowing) then he knows all events past and future, including how people will behave, and their ultimate fate before they are even born. So he must deliberately create people who are destined from before birth to end up burning in hell for all eternity. Is this the action of a merciful and compassionate loving father?

4.2 Freewill conficts with Omnipotence
Can God create autonomous beings, whose wishes and intentions he can't control? Most Buddhists and neo-pagans claim that humans have free will. Most materialists and many Christians (especially Calvinists) claim that free will does not exist. Materialists reject free will on the basis of physicalist determinism. Calvinistic Christians reject free will because in creating autonomous beings God would lose his omnipotence (he couldn't control their actions) and also his omniscience (he wouldn't know what they were going to do). Which implies that by creating such beings he would have changed in his ultimate nature from a perfect being to a limited being. Thus God would be seen as an inconstant, changing and indeed diminishing over time. This is regarded by the Calvinists as a theological non-starter.

If God is not omniscient,  in that He allows people to make their own choices about being damned or saved, then He cannot be omnipotent. If He cannot simultaneously see all times, past and future, laid out like the frames from a movie, then God exists within time. So He is a creature of time and is subject to the uncertainties of time just like the rest of us. Time is ultimately more powerful than God.

4.3 Omniscience precludes Action
One the other hand, if He is omniscient, he can never make a decision or choose a course of action, because he knows in advance exactly what his future actions will be for all eternity. He cannot decide to change his mind because he will know in advance when and how he will decide to change his mind, so his mind will already be made up. Such a God would be totally paralysed by his own pre-ordained future.

4.4 Omnipotence is Self-Contradictory
If He is omnipotent, can he produce a truly indestructible object? If He can't then He's not omnipotent. If He can then He's not omnipotent either because now there's one action He cannot do (destroy the truly indestructible).

4.5 Omnipotence is incompatible with Love
If He is good then why is there so much human and animal suffering in His creation? If suffering and other evils result from Satan rather than God, then why doesn't God get rid of Satan - after all, God is omnipotent and Satan is limited. In any case, if God is omniscient He knows what Satan is going to do in advance, so God could always outwit Satan and spoil his devious plots if He wanted to.

4.6 Perfection conflicts with the creation of the universe
If God is perfect then he is sufficient in himself. So why bother to create a world at all? If he's been there for all eternity why did He suddenly decide to create the world six thousand years ago? If there was no universe before he created it what possible kind of 'event' could have given him the idea to create it? What was he doing throughout all those millions of aeons when there was no universe?

4.7 The fallacy of the Necessary Being
Caesar-in-the-Sky has been so overspecified with superlatives, especially with the fatal feedback loop of omniscience, that he has been constructed into what philosophers would call a 'logically necessary being' (ie a changeless, inherently existent being ). But a logically necessary being can neither change anything, nor undergo change itself. Nor can it make a decision or in any other way interact with contingent reality.

4.8 First cause argument requires Occams razor
The concept of the Creator is fraught with difficulty.  Who created the creator. If the Creator 'just is' then maybe the universe 'just is'. Why multiply entities unnecessarily?.

Of course there is always the question "Why is there something rather than just nothing?" 
But is this a sensible question or merely a tautological statement?  The opposite question "Why is there nothing ?"  is unaskable.

Similarly the  statement  "Nothing exists" could never be true, because at least that one statement would exist.  Conversely the statement "Something exists" must always be true - it is a tautology.

4.9 Biblical Truth defies rationality
If, as the believers claim, God created the universe during six days, less than ten thousand years ago, why did he create the fossil record? The account in Genesis would seem to be contradicted by every mineshaft sunk and every drill-hole bored. Are fossils indeed forgeries planted by Satan to support the theory of evolution, or did God plant them to test our faith in the Bible?

And what about those light rays from distant stars which appear to have started on their journey millions of years ago? Are these fakes as well? Maybe God has constructed a vast planetarium surrounding the solar system, from which he projects the appearance of an old universe towards us in order to tempt us into disbelieving Genesis.

5. Scientific triumphalism
The twentieth century saw the removal of any need for God as the creator of the universe. The truth of evolution was borne out by the demonstration that the DNA sequences of animals are more similar for those which share a later common ancestry than for more distant relatives.

This vindication of evolution had disastrous consequences for those sects which relied on the literal truth of the Bible. Their response has been a retreat into obscurantism by attempting to censor the school biology syllabus.

The need for a designer and source of the laws of physics was removed by quantum mechanics and the participatory anthropic principle. Creation is not a once and for all event in the past, but seems to be a continuous process requiring an upwelling of potentialities and a defining activity which limits those potentialities to a much smaller number of actualities.(see quantum physics)

In the late twentieth century the mechanism of the propagation of religious belief came under scrutiny and the concept of the meme was introduced. A meme is a belief system which carries the instructions for its own propagation, usually in the form of threats and promises for the infected individual and instructions to infect others, or in some cases exterminate those who show resistance to the meme. According to meme theory,  religions are similar to computer viruses except they infect the human mind rather than the Windows operating system.

5.1 Limits of science
It should be noted that very recently a number of philosophers and scientists have begun to doubt the tenets of materialism - that all that exists can be explained in terms of the laws of physics. There is an increasing willingness to accept that there may be a mental dimension of existence which is not reducible to physical causes, though this has not gone along with any attempt to reinstate God.( See materialism.)

In attempting to reconstruct a thealogical worldview, one is entering into a three cornered dispute.

The other two players are:

  • Patriarchal repression.
  • Pseudoscientific materialism, which claims that there is no spiritual dimension to existence.

Hopefully this page will have supplied useful information about counteracting traditional patriarchal belief systems.

The refutation of  materialism relies on presenting a case which demonstrates that materialism is unscientific.   To do this it is necessary to gain some understanding of the technical and philosophical  issues involved (see references below). There is no point in attempting to produce a facile 'post-modernist' refutation of science itself, with science being portrayed as only one of many competing and equally valid worldviews.  Equations such as E=mc2 may be the products of dead white males, but they do reflect some deep underlying reality. After all, it only takes one H-bomb to ruin your entire day.

6. The politics of gender

It had long been realised that traditional theology had a social-political message, but it was not until the late twentieth century that the full extent of the sexual-political message came to the fore. In previous times it had been taken for granted that any intellectually demanding profession (such as doctor, scientist or engineer) could only possibly be performed by a man. Even politicians were almost exclusively men. So, it was reasoned, the architect of the universe had got to be a man.

It was only after World War Two that career opportunities really began to open up to women, and college education became normal rather than exceptional. Economic success raised the status of women in the western countries, and from the late 1960's onwards the churches came under pressure to modernise their attitude. .

Some concessions were obtained, and there was the occasional use of often clumsy inclusive language ('Our father and/or mother which art in heaven'). But this couldn't hide the fact that from the story of Adam and Eve onwards the Bible contains numerous passages which cannot be read as anything other than attempts to keep women in their place....

6.1 Scriptural authority

Ephesians 5:21 - 24 . "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything"

1 Corinthians 11:7-9 "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man."

1 Corinthians 14:34 "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

1 Timothy 2:11 - 14 "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."

7. Thealogy

Women are faced with the realisation that the old Iron Age God was a meme, a purely political construct, but He is still so deeply embedded in the ecclesiastical establishments that no change is possible. The Abrahamic religions are irredeemably sexist.  So does this mean that women should become atheists or materialists?

The fact that the establishment has attempted to delude people about the true nature of spirituality for 3000 years doesn't mean throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The recently established field of study known as thealogy is attempting to assemble a coherant view of the divine which has not been corrupted by the politics of repression. Thealogy is the systematic study of the nature and existence of the Goddess and her relationship with other beings. In particular, it is an attempt to disentangle what can sensibly be stated about the ultimate nature of reality from the agenda of previous generations of male theologians.

The especial emphasis in the early stages is re-establishing the female aspects of the wellspring of existence. This is being accomplished by a combination of philosophical analysis and reconstruction of the Goddess from ancient sources (employing the hermeneutics of suspicion whenever there is evidence that the text may have been corrupted)

At the present there seem to be two main options for women who are open, to or wish to open themselves, to the numinous dimension of existence:

1. Pursue a non-theistic spiritual path such as Theravada or Zen Buddhism.


2. Pursue a theistic spiritual path which honors the divine feminine, such as Wicca or Tibetan Buddhism.

7.1. Wicca
Wicca is the modern survival of the Old Religion which the Inquisition went to such extreme measures to (nearly but not quite ) wipe out. Wiccans worship the Triple Goddess who is usually identified with the Celtic Goddess Brigit or Bride. The Goddess has the aspects of maiden, mother and wise woman. She is also identified as the source of 'awen' or artistic and poetic inspiration. Wicca is growing rapidly in Europe and the U.S. It has immense appeal for young people of both sexes in offering an escape from sterile dogmatism and intolerance. It is also sexually non-judgemental, and welcomes gays and lesbians into membership.

7.2 Tara
Within Tibetan Buddhism the major deity is the Lady Tara. Tara is not the creator of the Universe (in Buddhism the universe 'just is') nor is she some sort of vengeful judge of the dead.

Tara is our common mother, our Holy Mother. When we are young we turn to our worldly mother for help. She protects us from immediate dangers, provides us with all our temporal needs, and guides and encourages us in our learning and personal development.

In the same way, during our spiritual growth we need to turn to our Holy Mother, Tara, for refuge. She protects us from all internal and external dangers, she provides us with all the necessary conditions for our spiritual training, and she guides us and inspires us with her blessings as we progress along the spiritual path.

8 Terrorism and hypermasculinity

Terrorism is the destroyer of all that is beautiful, spiritual, gentle, innocent and vulnerable. Most religions have a softer feminine aspect (eg Virgin Mary, Arya Tara) but all trace of the feminine has been eradicated from Terrorism to give something which is consequently only half human.

Predatory and domineering, Terrorism is a hypermasculine barbarian tribal warrior cult ('mlecchas') that glories in murder, mutilation, rape, genocide, destruction and anarchy.  Women, girls and all the feminine aspects human nature are chattelised and subjugated.

- Sean Robsville

Christian versus Buddhist worldviews

If we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking religious faith?

Buddhism in Everyday Life
The Daily Meditation