Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

"97 per cent of all deities of wisdom have been female."

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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#21  Postby Nostalgia » Apr 07, 2012 1:16 pm

MattHunX wrote:Hey, now that they bring it up, it's actually rather interesting and perhaps odd, that so many female deities were created in the minds of early(er) humans, and that some of them were worshiped as the deities of wisdom, of all things. Considering all the misogyny present in scripture and how gender-equality is still far from being completely wide-spread, I find it strange how men, people with penises, could come to worship goddesses. Or was it the females of a...tribe (to move back further in history), their imagination and superstition from where these female deities originate from. I'm just having a bit of difficulty seeing how the males would make up beings of power, who are women, with more wisdom and more power than...the men themselves? Not quite patriarchal. :scratch:

Some more info from basic anthropology, and I'll understand this, too. :)


Well, who's to say that ancient pre-history human society was patriarchal? We have precious little info on the matter so it's often speculation. To expand on what I said earlier: early human society was a tough place. The infant death rate was really high and you'd be lucky to live to thirty. But if our basic understanding of the way that society was managed is even partially correct (men went out to hunt and gather whilst women stayed at home to raise the kids) it seems reasonable to assume a female's life expectancy would be higher than that of a man. Even if the immediate dangers you were dealing with was other humans then it stands to reason that your enemy's females would more likely be captured than killed. Given all this, to me it makes sense that often the only elderly people (or at least relatively elderly) in a community would be women. If this situation is something akin to the way it actually was it makes sense that gods of wisdom would be female, and in fact females overall had a very high standing in society.

They would be a precious resource that would of been highly prized for both their wisdom and their irreplaceable ability to produce babies - remember although it seems ridiculous to us these ancient peoples may not of been able to connect sex with conception as discovery of an uncontacted tribe (In the Amazon in the 70s I think) who likewise didn't put two and two together proves. I think it's likely the patriarchal nature of our society didn't begin to show itself until we discovered agriculture and as a result founded civilisation. With decreased infant morality and larger male life expectancy that would come about with a higher and static population along with increased scientific knowledge into the "miracle" of birth the position of females within society would decrease. And this could perhaps be seen in the rise of gods with a dangly bit between their legs.

I must say, this is all pure speculation on my part, I'm no expert on anthropology nor pre-history sociology, and I'd be interested to hear from someone who knows more of these subjects than I do. However, it does seem to make sense to me. And it certainly makes sense that the first gods would be female, because life comes from females.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#22  Postby Nostalgia » Apr 07, 2012 1:18 pm

Oh, and Onyx8, until Thommo pointed out the bleeding obvious I didn't realise they were arms either! Her boobs looked like an uncircumcised penis to me... :shifty:
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#23  Postby MattHunX » Apr 07, 2012 9:05 pm

MacIver wrote:
MattHunX wrote:Hey, now that they bring it up, it's actually rather interesting and perhaps odd, that so many female deities were created in the minds of early(er) humans, and that some of them were worshiped as the deities of wisdom, of all things. Considering all the misogyny present in scripture and how gender-equality is still far from being completely wide-spread, I find it strange how men, people with penises, could come to worship goddesses. Or was it the females of a...tribe (to move back further in history), their imagination and superstition from where these female deities originate from. I'm just having a bit of difficulty seeing how the males would make up beings of power, who are women, with more wisdom and more power than...the men themselves? Not quite patriarchal. :scratch:

Some more info from basic anthropology, and I'll understand this, too. :)


Well, who's to say that ancient pre-history human society was patriarchal? We have precious little info on the matter so it's often speculation. To expand on what I said earlier: early human society was a tough place. The infant death rate was really high and you'd be lucky to live to thirty. But if our basic understanding of the way that society was managed is even partially correct (men went out to hunt and gather whilst women stayed at home to raise the kids) it seems reasonable to assume a female's life expectancy would be higher than that of a man. Even if the immediate dangers you were dealing with was other humans then it stands to reason that your enemy's females would more likely be captured than killed. Given all this, to me it makes sense that often the only elderly people (or at least relatively elderly) in a community would be women. If this situation is something akin to the way it actually was it makes sense that gods of wisdom would be female, and in fact females overall had a very high standing in society.

They would be a precious resource that would of been highly prized for both their wisdom and their irreplaceable ability to produce babies - remember although it seems ridiculous to us these ancient peoples may not of been able to connect sex with conception as discovery of an uncontacted tribe (In the Amazon in the 70s I think) who likewise didn't put two and two together proves. I think it's likely the patriarchal nature of our society didn't begin to show itself until we discovered agriculture and as a result founded civilisation. With decreased infant morality and larger male life expectancy that would come about with a higher and static population along with increased scientific knowledge into the "miracle" of birth the position of females within society would decrease. And this could perhaps be seen in the rise of gods with a dangly bit between their legs.

I must say, this is all pure speculation on my part, I'm no expert on anthropology nor pre-history sociology, and I'd be interested to hear from someone who knows more of these subjects than I do. However, it does seem to make sense to me. And it certainly makes sense that the first gods would be female, because life comes from females.


Just one thing, there, in your post. I remember seeing some documentary film, perhaps it was linked from the forum, about Neanderthals (I think), and how they went extinct and their possible run-ins with our ancestors, where they acted out stuff with cave-man make-up, and there oddly enough it was the women who were hunting around and men were guarding the temporary settlement and the fires. :)

Was just reminded of that.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#24  Postby HomerJay » Apr 07, 2012 9:35 pm

MacIver wrote:If the BBC was truly "pro-religion" instead of just airing a wide range of different opinions on existential matters do you honestly think they would of made The Bible's Buried Secrets, a show hosted by an atheist bible scholar that examined the polytheist origins of Abrahamism and pissed of a hell of a lot of Xians.

I'm sure they would have done, yes.

Anything that keeps religion in the public eye is considered worthy by some of the theists, especially in the UK.

That said, there is a difference between commissioning and production.

The intent of the commissioners might be very different to those involved in the production.

I don't know the religious status of Hughes but this excerpt from a book review she wrote sounds like she may not be terribly religious:

What with the dark days of Christianity and pandemic secularism Hera, Apollo and co. aren’t adored as they once were. But, (of course), they are still with us, and still bickering, boozing, fucking, slaughtering just as they have been for close on 3000 years.

It is Apollo who first behaves badly. He’s just asked a mortal (Kate, ‘in mergers and Acquisitions at Goldman Sachs’) on her sandwich-break to give him a blow-job.

https://sites.google.com/site/bettanyhu ... ving-badly
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#25  Postby Oldskeptic » Apr 08, 2012 3:40 am

MacIver wrote:
MattHunX wrote:Hey, now that they bring it up, it's actually rather interesting and perhaps odd, that so many female deities were created in the minds of early(er) humans, and that some of them were worshiped as the deities of wisdom, of all things. Considering all the misogyny present in scripture and how gender-equality is still far from being completely wide-spread, I find it strange how men, people with penises, could come to worship goddesses. Or was it the females of a...tribe (to move back further in history), their imagination and superstition from where these female deities originate from. I'm just having a bit of difficulty seeing how the males would make up beings of power, who are women, with more wisdom and more power than...the men themselves? Not quite patriarchal. :scratch:

Some more info from basic anthropology, and I'll understand this, too. :)


Well, who's to say that ancient pre-history human society was patriarchal? We have precious little info on the matter so it's often speculation. To expand on what I said earlier: early human society was a tough place. The infant death rate was really high and you'd be lucky to live to thirty.


I have to take issue with this. This idea that hunter gathers lived a hand to mouth disease ridden existence isn't evidenced. In fact the evidence points to life spans of 70 years or more. Infant mortality rate may have been high compared to today, but no one knows how much higher. The claim that hardly anyone lived past thirty is not supported by any evidence and is refuted by what evidence there is.

But if our basic understanding of the way that society was managed is even partially correct (men went out to hunt and gather whilst women stayed at home to raise the kids) it seems reasonable to assume a female's life expectancy would be higher than that of a man.


Another misconception. In hunter gather societies the women don't/didn't stay home to raise kids. The men are the hunters and the women are/were the gathers. Life would have been tough on everyone, just not as tough and rough as some people think.

Actually lower life expectancy came with the invention of agriculture and animal husbandry. Constantly defecating in the place that you live all the time and sleeping with livestock that carried diseases that can jump from one species to another was not a good idea.

Even if the immediate dangers you were dealing with was other humans then it stands to reason that your enemy's females would more likely be captured than killed. Given all this, to me it makes sense that often the only elderly people (or at least relatively elderly) in a community would be women.


This does not hold up under my scrutiny. Why would it make sense that bride stealing would give the brides a longer life span?


If this situation is something akin to the way it actually was it makes sense that gods of wisdom would be female, and in fact females overall had a very high standing in society.


No stone female figure from a prehistoric age implies anything other than possibly worship of a fertility goddess. Or it could be just something that grandpa made to keep the children entertained.

They would be a precious resource that would of been highly prized for both their wisdom and their irreplaceable ability to produce babies - remember although it seems ridiculous to us these ancient peoples may not of been able to connect sex with conception as discovery of an uncontacted tribe (In the Amazon in the 70s I think) who likewise didn't put two and two together proves. I think it's likely the patriarchal nature of our society didn't begin to show itself until we discovered agriculture and as a result founded civilisation. With decreased infant morality and larger male life expectancy that would come about with a higher and static population along with increased scientific knowledge into the "miracle" of birth the position of females within society would decrease. And this could perhaps be seen in the rise of gods with a dangly bit between their legs.

I must say, this is all pure speculation on my part, I'm no expert on anthropology nor pre-history sociology, and I'd be interested to hear from someone who knows more of these subjects than I do. However, it does seem to make sense to me. And it certainly makes sense that the first gods would be female, because life comes from females.


You're putting a lot of fragile eggs in one basket. Life expectancy did not increase with the agricultural revolution, it went down. For men and women alike. Filthy cities are not conducive to healthy citizens.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#26  Postby Onyx8 » Apr 08, 2012 3:58 am

I've read too that in these tribal societies, children were raised by the grandparents while the more able and agile younger folk did the hunting and gathering.

Also that agriculture was not a chosen improvement in lifestyle, it was an uncomfortable necessity due to increasing population that likely started the patriarchal system by entrenching animal husbandry which grew from hunting in men while entrenching cultivation in women who had been doing more of the gathering. This meant an extreme difference in the workload after agriculture as the men got to sit about while the women did all the freaking work.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#27  Postby Nostalgia » Apr 08, 2012 4:24 am

Oldskeptic wrote:You're putting a lot of fragile eggs in one basket. Life expectancy did not increase with the agricultural revolution, it went down. For men and women alike. Filthy cities are not conducive to healthy citizens.


All very good points, some of which I concede. I was simply trying to use my limited knowledge on the subject to explain why the male dominance within deities in Europe and the Fertile Crescent seems to coincide with the the rise of civilisation in these areas. There are some arguments I've heard that state as Middle Eastern polytheism was evolving into Abrahamic monotheism there was an active campaign (whether concious or subconscious) to decrease females position within society and religions - Eve being the ultimate cause of Original Sin is probably the most outright example of this. It could be a coincidence, or it could be through other unrelated factors. But I think there's something in my theory. Civilisation is male dominated, it always has been. Pre-civilisation societies were more egalitarian in nature if for no other reason than they were smaller.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#28  Postby Onyx8 » Apr 08, 2012 5:48 am

MacIver wrote:
Oldskeptic wrote:You're putting a lot of fragile eggs in one basket. Life expectancy did not increase with the agricultural revolution, it went down. For men and women alike. Filthy cities are not conducive to healthy citizens.


All very good points, some of which I concede. I was simply trying to use my limited knowledge on the subject to explain why the male dominance within deities in Europe and the Fertile Crescent seems to coincide with the the rise of civilisation in these areas. There are some arguments I've heard that state as Middle Eastern polytheism was evolving into Abrahamic monotheism there was an active campaign (whether concious or subconscious) to decrease females position within society and religions - Eve being the ultimate cause of Original Sin is probably the most outright example of this. It could be a coincidence, or it could be through other unrelated factors. But I think there's something in my theory. Civilisation is male dominated, it always has been. Pre-civilisation societies were more egalitarian in nature if for no other reason than they were smaller.



Or maybe the men had little to do but sit around thinking up rationalisations why they didn't have to work so hard. Hence religion...
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#29  Postby Nostalgia » Apr 08, 2012 3:23 pm

Indeed... :think:
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#30  Postby surreptitious57 » Apr 08, 2012 4:11 pm

If God is female then she has perfect symmetry and brown skin and
long fingers and a husky voice and never ages beyond twenty four
or puts on weight or has periods or gets pregnant but has lots of
lesbian sex with her equally adoring girlfriends and survives on
just four things : chocolate : friendship : cigarettes and yoga
She also has universal and eternal altruism as standard and
so any one who is nice to her gets rewarded appropriately
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#31  Postby Onyx8 » Apr 08, 2012 4:36 pm

Works for me, surreptitious.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#32  Postby Moonwatcher » Apr 09, 2012 8:02 pm

Alan B wrote:New BBC2 series Wed 11th at 21:00.

Could be interesting.

God was a Girl


I didn't see this but I once read a book called "When God Was A Woman" by an author who wrote as "Merlin Stone", clearly not a pseudonym. :grin: Most of it was probably New Age bull but there were a few gems. She rightly pointed out that in reading one of the OT prophets, I think it was Isaiah, he was railing about how the people were worshipping "false" gods as well as Yahweh and was calling on people to massacre all of the people among the Israelites who worshipped these "false" gods (nothing new there). But that gives away that plenty of the Israelites worshipped other gods and, from archaeological evidence, most likely the gods from the pantheon Yahweh was once a part of. According to her, excavations found statues of Yahweh and Ishara side by side in temples in Jerusalem. Ishara was one of the goddesses the OT prophets railed against but, further back in Middle Eastern myth, she was Yahweh's wife.

She also argued that most of the earliest religions were Goddess oriented revolving around the concept of life coming into the world.

Now whether they really were or whether this is more, "We have no solid evidence at all about this so let's just make things up just as the Patriarchal religions do", I don't know. One thing she did point out is that even some of the most respected scholars tend to fall into the Mysogynist mentality in that they almost always refer to male deity based beliefs as "religions" but almost always refer to female deity based beliefs as "cults".
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#33  Postby Moonwatcher » Apr 09, 2012 8:05 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:If God is female then she has perfect symmetry and brown skin and
long fingers and a husky voice and never ages beyond twenty four
or puts on weight or has periods or gets pregnant but has lots of
lesbian sex with her equally adoring girlfriends and survives on
just four things : chocolate : friendship : cigarettes and yoga
She also has universal and eternal altruism as standard and
so any one who is nice to her gets rewarded appropriately


And if she came down and brought her daughter into the world by having sex with a mortal man, we can forget the rape accusation because we can reasonably guess he volunteered.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#34  Postby Nixon » Apr 09, 2012 8:12 pm

Quetzalcoatl was a geezer last time I looked.

I'm having trouble recalling any theological system in which Deities associated with wisdom weren't expressly male, and Goddesses tended to relate to childbirth, weaving, love, fertility, even death.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#35  Postby Moonwatcher » Apr 10, 2012 7:21 pm

Nixon wrote:Quetzalcoatl was a geezer last time I looked.

I'm having trouble recalling any theological system in which Deities associated with wisdom weren't expressly male, and Goddesses tended to relate to childbirth, weaving, love, fertility, even death.


The Greeks. Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#36  Postby Nixon » Apr 10, 2012 8:24 pm

Moonwatcher wrote:
Nixon wrote:Quetzalcoatl was a geezer last time I looked.

I'm having trouble recalling any theological system in which Deities associated with wisdom weren't expressly male, and Goddesses tended to relate to childbirth, weaving, love, fertility, even death.


The Greeks. Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom.


Dang. Well spotted.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#37  Postby HughMcB » Apr 10, 2012 8:39 pm

What exactly is distinguishable between a non-corporeal, absentee invisible man and a a non-corporeal, absentee invisible woman?
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#38  Postby Nebogipfel » Apr 10, 2012 9:01 pm

HughMcB wrote:What exactly is distinguishable between a non-corporeal, absentee invisible man and a a non-corporeal, absentee invisible woman?


A non-corporeal absentee invisible penis?
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#39  Postby Moonwatcher » Apr 10, 2012 11:45 pm

HughMcB wrote:What exactly is distinguishable between a non-corporeal, absentee invisible man and a a non-corporeal, absentee invisible woman?


That we can pretend she looks like whatever actress most recently played Athena or Aphrodite- if she, you know, was solid and visible rather than invisible and non-corporeal.
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Re: Divine Women - God was a Girl, says Bettany Hughes

#40  Postby MattHunX » Apr 11, 2012 12:46 pm

And god created man in his own image. It's why some blokes are just...cunts, even if they don't have one. :)
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