Friday, November 21, 2008

Monotheism before Akhenaten?

This is essentially a revival of an interesting discussion-board topic several years back, that proved to be instructive in highlighting the complexity of ancient Egyptian religious and spiritual thought. Some tend to have a rather monotypic sense of what constitutes ancient Egyptian religious concepts, usually dismissing it as merely "polytheistic", and by extension, one which remained unchanged in character over time, without actually examining in detail, the features of the concepts, their possible origins and how that changed over time. On the contrary, ancient Egyptian religious and spiritual thought was anything but static and/or simplistic in character. To recapitulate from that discussion, here is an excerpt from E. A. Wallis Budge's "Egyptian Religion", making note of common misunderstandings of ancient Egyptian belief...

...neteru, i.e., the beings or existences which in some way partake of the nature or character of God, and are usually called "gods". [notice the emphasis on capital letter used for the one being, and that the lower case letter for incarnations]

The early nations that came in contact with the Egyptians usually misundertood the nature of these beings, and several modern Western writers have done the same.

When we examine these "gods" closely, they are found to be nothing more nor less than forms, or manifestations, or phases, or attributes, of one god, the god being Ra the Sun-god, who, it must be remembered, was the type and *symbol* of *God*.

Nevertheless, the worship of the neteru by Egyptians has been made the base of the charge of "gross idolatry" which has been brought against them, and have been represented by some as being on the low intellectual level of savage tribes.

It is certain that from the earliest time one of the greatest tendencies of the Egyptian religion was towards monotheism, and this tendency may be observed in all important texts down to the last period; it is also certain that a kind of polytheism existed in Egypt side by side with monotheism from very early times.

Whether monotheism or polytheism be the older, it is useless in our present state of knowledge to attempt to enquire. According to Tiele, the religion of Egypt was at the beginning polytheistic, but developed in two opposite directions:
  • in the one direction gods were multiplied by the addition of local gods, and...
  • in the other the Egyptians drew nearer and nearer to monotheism.
Dr. Wiedemann takes the view that three main elements may be recognized in the Egyptian religion:
  1. A solar monotheism, that is to say one god, the creator of the universe, who manifests his power especially in the sun and its operations;
  2. A cult of the regenerating power of nature, which expresses itself in the adoration of ithyphallic gods, of fertile goddesses, and of a series of animals and of various deities of vegetation;
  3. A perception of an anthropomorphic divinity, the life of whom in this world and in the world beyond this was typical of the ideal life of man -this last divinity being, of course, Osiris.
But here again, as Dr. Wiedemann says, it is an unfortunate fact that all the texts which we possess are, in respect of the period of the origin of the Egyptian religion, comparatively late, and therefore in them we find these three elements mixed together, along with a number of foreign matters, in such a way as to make it impossible to discover which of them is the oldest....

...The epithets which the Egyptians applied to their gods also bear valuable testimony concerning the ideas which they held about God.

*We have already said that the "gods" are only forms, manifestations, and phases of Ra, the Sun-god, who was himself the type and symbol of God, and it is evident from the nature of these epithets that they were only applied to the "gods" because they represented some quality or attribute which they would have applied to God had it been their custom to address Him.

Source: Title: Egyptian Religion; chapter 1>The Belief in God Almighty; E.A Wallis Budge.

In reference to the above text, as an example amongst many, it should be noted that Ra, the Sun-god, is actually a symbol of invisible one Almighty God. The neteru are just manifestations of the various innate powers of the one invisible Almighty God. Ra though, in many cases being the main "type and symbol" of the supreme being, was apparently at the top of the divine hierarchy, in terms of visible characterizations of the supreme being's attributes, while the rest of the neteru — generally personified by both mythic and deceased [royalty] anthropomorphic figures — were lesser manifestations of the different attributes of the [invisible] supreme being's power.

If one re-exams the Budge text, he states that from the various Egyptian texts, it appeared that both monotheist and polytheist *tendencies* existed.

Most of the gods like Osiris, including Ra himself, are "manifestations, or phases, or attributes of one god", the invisible God. In other words, these aren't really separate gods, but incarnations. This in itself would be aligned to the "monotheistic" approach, however outwardly it might appear to a layperson, not familiar with the concept.

Texts that suggest that at one point a "polytheistic" approach was taken, in the very early social development stage of the Nile Valley communities, are exemplified by the following:

"Negative Confession" in the 125th chapter of the Book of the Dead. Here, in the oldest copies of the passages known, the deceased says "I have not cursed God" (1.38), and a few lines after (1.42) he adds, "I have not thought scorn of the god living in my city."

It seems that here we have indicated two different layers of belief, and that the older is represented by the allusion to the "god of the city," in which case it would go back to the time when the Egyptian lived in a primitive fashion.

If we assume that God (who is mention in line 38) is Osiris, it doesn't do away with the fact that he was regarded as a being entirely different from the "god of the city" and that he was of sufficient importance to have one line of the "Confession" devoted to him. - Budge

While it is hard to determine when the Egyptians started adopting the "monotheistic" approach, since "it existed there at a period so remote that it is useless to attempt to measure years the interval of time" (according to Budge), it appears that the 'monotheistic' approach took steam throughout dynastic time. Nevertheless the periodic references like the example above, provide some indicators that at one point, at an earlier time frame, a polytheistic approach was also in place.

By the way, the "god of the city", is described by Budge as the following:

god of the city in which a man lived was regarded as the *ruler of the city*, and the people of that city no more thought of neglecting to provide him with what they considered to be due to his rank and position than they thought of neglecting to supply their own wants.

...this would be a living person, as indicated by lower cases.

Sources of various Egyptian cosmology were found virtually everywhere from inscriptions on monuments to Papyri, some of which were rewritten by scribes or Priests from very early periods to the later ones. So we have religious texts dating to various periods , works of early sages of Egypt like “Precepts of Kaqemna” and “Precepts of Ptah-hetep” or "Maxims of Khensu-hetep" , Papyrus of Ani , Papyrus of Nekht, Papyrus of Hunefer, Text of Unas , Text of Teta, and the hymns found in places likes of the “Book of the Dead”, and more.

In many cases, the particular incarnation or being with god-like qualities to which a hymn is dedicated, is identified with Ra. As Budge put it, an example of this can be seen in a hymn to Hapi in which, he is called “One”, and is said to have created himself. Later on in the text, in order to identify him with Ra, the epithets which belong to the Sun-god are applied to him. The hymn in question was popular in the 18th & 19th dynasties.

According to Budge:

The late Dr. H. Brugsch collected a number of the epithets [published in “Religion” pages 99-101] which are applied to the gods, from texts of all periods; and from these we may see that the ideas and beliefs of the Egyptians concerning God were almost identical with those of the Hebrew and Muhammadans at later periods. When classified these epithets read thus [Budge provides more examples, we’ll just stick to a few] :-


“ God is One and alone, and none other existeth with Him; God is the One, the One Who hath made all things.”

“God is a spirit, a hidden spirit, the spirit of spirits, the great spirit of the Egyptians, the divine spirit.”

“God is from the beginning, and He hath been from the beginning; He hath existed from of old and was when nothing else had being. He existed when nothing else existed, and what existeth He created after He hand come into being. He is the father of beginnings.”

“God is the eternal One, He is eternal and infinite; and endureth for ever and aye; He hath endured for countless ages, and He shall endure to all eternity.”

“ God is the hidden Being, and no man hath known His form. No man hath been able to see out His likeness; He is hidden from gods and men, and He is a mystery unto His creatures”

“God is merciful unto those who reverence Him, and He heareth him that calleth upon Him. He protected the weak against the strong, and He heareth the cry of him that is bound in fetters; He judgeth between the mighty and the weak. God knoweth him that knoweth Him, and He protected him that followed Him.”

We have now to consider the visible emblem, and the type and symbol of God, namely the Sun-god Ra, who was worshiped in Egypt in prehistoric times. According to the writings of the Egyptians, there was a time when neither heaven nor earth existed, and when nothing had being except the boundless primeval water, which was, however, shrouded with thick darkness. In this condition the primeval water remained for a considerable time, notwithstanding that it contained within it the germs of the things which afterwards came into existence in this world itself.

At length the spirit of the primeval water felt the desire for creative activity, and having uttered the word, the world sprang straightway into being in the form which had already been depicted in the mind of the spirit before he spake the word which resulted in its creation. The next act of creation was the form of a germ, or egg, from which sprang Ra, the Sun-god, within whose shining form was embodied the almighty power of the divine spirit.

Such was the outline of creation as described by the late Dr. H. Brugsch, and it is curious to see how closely his views coincide with a chapter in the Papyrus of Nesi Amsu preserved in the British Museum. In the third section of this papyrus we find a work which was written with the sole object of overthrowing Apep, the great enemy of Ra, and in the composition itself we find two versions of the chapter which describes the creation of the earth and all things therein.

It must be noted that despite the monotheistic base of Egyptian belief, the neteru appeared to have added to the confusion felt by outsiders or foreigners in Egypt.Akhenaten's rejection of the neteru is what made him stand out, because it revealed the true monotheistic base of Egyptian belief.

Akhenaten simply just stuck to Ra, the Sun-god, whom as Budge and many sources have made clear time and again, was the type and symbol of Almighty God, but without the anthropomorphic personification — in other words, just the "disc" itself becoming the only "type and symbol" of the supreme being. The Almighty God here, is the one and eternal spirit.

Egyptians never left the "monotheistic" base, in so far as the neteru were treated as manifestations of Ra, who in turn is the visible symbol of the invisible God Almighty. This is what needs to be understood. The 'gods' who were manifestations of the one God, convey a "polythiestic" outlook to a concept with an otherwise monotheistic inclination.

Take note of the three elements recognized in ancient Egyptian belief (identified by Dr. Wiedemann), that was mentioned in the first Budge text quoted.

Some scholars are of the opinion that Egyptian belief, in their lesser social development state in Pre-historic times, may have started out being polytheistic, before the adoption of the approach with a monotheistic inclination. Of course, there is no evidence that determines when the Egyptians first started adopting the monotheistic concept, since it goes back to a remote period.

Akhenaten did away with these manifestations!

Pre-dynastic Egypt was made up of Lower and Upper Egyptian kingdoms, which means each had their own local gods and beliefs. This is consistent with what Budges says about the "god in the city":

In prehistoric times every little village or town, every district and province, and every great city, had its own particular god...

The god of the village, although he was a more important being, might be led into captivity along with people of the village, but the victory of his followers in a raid or fight caused the honours paid to him be magnified and enhanced his renown. [kind of like what we see in the Rainmaker King concept]

The gods of provinces or of great cities were, of course, greater than those of villages and private farmilies, and in the large houses dedicated to them, i.e., temples, a considerable number of them, represented by statues, would be found...

whenever and wherever the Egyptian attempted to set up a system of gods they always found that the old local gods had to be taken into consideration, and a place had to be found fo them in the system. This might be done by making them members of triads, or of groups of nine gods, now commonly called "enneads"; but in one form or other they had to appear.

The researches made during the last few years have shown that there must have been several large schools of theological though in Egypt, and each of these the priests did their utmost to proclaim the superiority of their gods...we see that the great god of Heliopolis was Temu or Atmu, the setting sun, and to him the priests of that place ascribed the attributes which rightly belong to Ra, the Sun-god of the day-time. For some reason or other, they formulated the idea of a company of gods, nine in number, which was called the "great company (paut) of gods", and at the head of this company they placed the god Temu...

The priests of Heliopolis in setting Temu at the head of their company of the gods thus gave Ra, and Nu also, a place of high honour; they cleverly succeeded in making their own local god chief of the company, but at the same time they provided the older gods with positions of importance. In this way worshippers of Ra, who had regarded their god as the oldest of the gods, would have little cause to complain of the introduction of Temu into the company of the gods, and the local vanity of Heliopolis would be gratified.

Despite the above, it is restated, from the same source:

It is quite true that the Egyptians paid honour to a number of gods, a number so large that the list of their mere names would fill a volume, but it is equally true that the educated classes in Egypt at all times never placed the "gods" on the same high level as God, and they never imagined that their views on this point could be mistaken.

Upon unification of Lower and Upper Egypt, apparently all the local gods had to be brought under a system, with the important and surviving ones included. Despite the numerous local gods before unification, it appears that there were some common elements found in the beliefs of different kingdoms, cities, or villages. This would have made it easier to bring them together under one system, for lack of a better word. Given that some of these shared attributes to begin with, they were synchronized and made into a composite deity, rather than eliminating one or the other of the contributing deity elements altogether. The belief in one Supreme being and a creation story is an example of this.

Earlier reference to "enneads" was made in the Budge text, appears to have been a Greek reference to nine gods of Heliopolis, and the Egyptians used the term "pesdjet" to denote a collection of deities in any temple. Examples of this can be the aforementioned 9 deities of Heliopolis, the 7 deities of the Abydos temple, or the 15 deities of the Karnak temple complex (see @ site: philae.nu).

As an example, consider the above mentioned Budge piece, with emphasis to the case involving Atum or Temu...

whenever and wherever the Egyptian attempted to set up a system of gods they always found that the old local gods had to be taken into consideration, and a place had to be found fo them in the system. This might be done by making them members of triads, or of groups of nine gods, now commonly called "enneads"; but in one form or other they had to appear.

The researches made during the last few years have shown that there must have been several large schools of theological though in Egypt, and each of these the priests did their utmost to proclaim the superiority of their gods...

we see that the great god of Heliopolis was Temu or Atmu, the setting sun, and to him the priests of that place ascribed the attributes which rightly belong to Ra, the Sun-god of the day-time. For some reason or other, they formulated the idea of a company of gods, nine in number, which was called the "great company (paut) of gods", and at the head of this company they placed the god Temu...

The priests of Heliopolis in setting Temu at the head of their company of the gods thus gave Ra, and Nu also, a place of high honour; they cleverly succeeded in making their own local god chief of the company, but at the same time they provided the older gods with positions of importance. In this way worshippers of Ra, who had regarded their god as the oldest of the gods, would have little cause to complain of the introduction of Temu into the company of the gods, and the local vanity of Heliopolis would be gratified.

Here, we see that Atum was also identified with the setting Sun.

Keeping in mind that Atum is supposed to be the creative force of Nun, which is the primeval waters, the state of nothingness, which apparently was devoid of light. Atum thus personified this creative force.

Ra, as the present author has noted elsewhere in the past:


Re or Ra, originally meant the heavenly body, joined Herakhty (a recognized sun god) to represent the morning [and/or daytime] sun, and adopted the falcon head. Later he joined Atum, to become Re-Atum, manifestation of the setting sun and the daytime sun.

Couple the "creative force" of Atum, which the following intuitively puts...

Courtesy of philae.nu:

O Atum! When you came into being you rose up as a High Hill, You shone as the Benben Stone in the Temple of the Benu in Heliopolis
.
...Here Atum is the Primeval Mound itself. This is understable when we think of how the ground and banks along the Nile rose from the receding waters each year, soon sprouting new weeds and greenery, and animals and insects would inhabit them again. Life seemed to come out of the ground itself. This is the idea behind Atum, the Primeval Mound, the Creator, god who within him contains the possibilities of every life form.

...with the "regenerative" and "life-supporting" role of the Sun's light and radiation in the above mentioned "creative force":

"symbolic of life, warmth, light and day. It dispels the darkness and cold. It calls the unseen seed-life from out of the dark soil. It brings forth the light from the darkness of the night, as well as life from out of the underworld. It symbolizes the Creator's power to enliven, nourish and enlighten." - courtesy of John Van Auken

And out of that, it makes sense to synchronize Atum with Ra, originally the morning or daytime Sun-god, so that we get Atum-Ra — the composite deity representing the sun's cycles from sun rise to sun set.

While Shu was perceived to be the patron of Gases (atmosphere; generally associated with daylight sky), which begot Geb, with Tefnut — the matron of moisture and liquid, Geb would become the patron of solid state. Geb in turn would unite with the matron of Gases [also atmosphere; generally associated with the night sky], "Nut", to give rise to Ausar, after all the human body for example, is a product of all state of matter.

Courtesy of www.philae.nu, we have:

Heliopolis
The ruins of Lunu lies under the suburbs of north-east Cairo. It was known to Herodotus ca 450 B.C. as Heliopolis. But already about 3000 B.C. this was where one of the most important and influential myths of creation was formulated. The earliest written source of this are the Pyramid Texts of 5th and 6th dynasties, the largest single collection of religious writings. They were probably composed mostly by priesthood. They held their position and developed through time, until Amun became the state god at Thebes.

Nun or The Primeval Waters
Before the structured cosmos was created there was only darkness which held a limitless water, the primeval Nun, also called the Father of Gods. There were no temples built to Nun, but this deity is made present in many shrines as the sacred lake which *symbolizes* the non-existence before creation. The concept of the Primeval waters are common to all Egyptian creation myths. Even if their details differ, they are all explanations of how light and order was formed in the unordered, unstructured chaos of darkness and timelessness.

Also relevant to the point just made, courtesy of Touregypt.net, we have:

"The growth of the Egyptian religion is one of the reasons why Egypt ended up with such a complex and polytheistic religious system. When a town grew in prominence, so did the god. When the town was deserted, the god disappeared. Only a few of the many deities ended up in the Egyptian pantheon, and even then their popularity waxed and waned through the thousands of years of Egyptian history. Another reason for complexity was when people moved, their god did, too. This meant that at the new town, there was sometimes a battle between the old and new gods - but the Egyptian gods were easily merged, with other gods taking over that god's attributes and abilities! So it is that some of the ancient gods of Neolithic and Predynastic Egypt came to national prominence are considered to be some of the main gods in the Egyptian pantheon today: Amun of Thebes, Ptah of Hikuptah (Memphis), Horus (the Elder) of Nekhem, Set of Tukh (Ombos), Ra of Iunu (Heliopolis), Min of Gebtu (Koptos), Hathor of Dendra and Osiris of Abydos."

This is perhaps a gist of the reasons behind the complexity of Egyptian cosmology, but it appears that idea of the invisible God is a very old one, for which the present author doubts any evidence has been uncovered indicating when the idea came about in the Nile Valley.

It should be noted, that Akhenaten's Aten itself was the representation of Re or Ra, the Sun-God, although the Aten's association with an anthropomorphic form was done away with in this case. Of course there are some who question the "monotheistic" inclination of Akhenaten's religious philosophy, but the commentary on Touregypt.net may well have summed that philosophy in a way that many can understand: "there is no god but Aten, and Akhenaten is his prophet" - touregypt.net

An example of the aforementioned viewpoint came along the following lines, in a discussion, supposedly to refute something that the present author had said at the time, when in fact, in certain instances, it even goes onto to reiterate and vindicate some of the very points that the present author had already shed light on:

I can only reply that the Atenists were no more worshipping the sun than the Christians worship a piece of wood called a crucifix.

Even if I were to go along with your suggestion here, Ra or Re is only "representative" of the risen sun. He originally manifested himself at Heliopolis in the form of the ben ben stone nurtured in the bosom of Nun from which by an effort of self will he arose from the Abyss as Atum, and appeared in the sun as resplendent light. He then gave birth to Shu (the holy breath) seen in the rays from the Aten disc, and Tefnut, who without the assistance of a mate in turn gave birth to Geb and Nut who then produced Isis, Osiris, Set and Nephthys. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Akhenaton worshipped just the symbol of Aten and Re without the theology. For example why would the Anke appear at the end of the suns rays unless there were a whole theology and doctrines involving all the natures of Ra. The Book of the Dead actually refers to Ra and Osiris as the same being!

Theres only one God in the Bible represented by a Cross on the binding cover, but God has many characters. With Akhenaton it was decided not to physically represent those facets literally as idols.

They were there nevertheless, and your point of view is over simplified and unrealistic for intelligent people of the Egyptian l8th dynasty.

The present author's response to this was put this way [might seem repetitive, because this happens to be the original source of where some of the earlier mentioned postings came from]:

The act of making suggestions and over-simplifications comes from your end; I gather available information known from the work of various Egyptologists.

In your theory, you fail to comprehend that Atum came from Primeval Waters, which actually if one fully grasps it, has no form. So Atum was created from himself, and then rose out of the Primeval darkness or water to form the Primeval Mound. This Primeval Mound became the dwelling place for the sun-god. The Sun-god, is the manifestation of God's power through the sun. The power can perhaps be expressed as:

" symbolic of life, warmth, light and day. It dispels the darkness and cold. It calls the unseen seed-life from out of the dark soil. It brings forth the light from the darkness of the night, as well as life from out of the underworld. It symbolizes the Creator's power to enliven, nourish and enlighten. " - courtesy of John Van Auken

So [to reiterate], Ra himself came to represent the sun. Re or Ra, originally meant the heavenly body, joined Herakhty (a recognized sun god) to represent the morning sun, and adopted the falcon head. Later he joined Atum, to become Re-Atum, manifestation of the setting sun and the daytime sun.

Now the Aten was the sun disc itself, again a heavenly body, that became personified as Re or Ra. "aten" in itself is simply meant a disc, and could represent any round body. Its association with divinity first appears in the Tale of Sinhue at about 2000 B.C., which claims that Amenemhat I rose into the sky in unification with Aten, his creator. It was just a matter of time, for the 'aten' to be elevated into a deity in its own right from being a mere symbol.

Akhenaten accepted Aten as the only representation of the formless God. Just to take an external source as an example, perhaps Touregypt.net website relayed this basic them in a way that is intellectually-digestive to almost anyone...

…Before Akhenaten, the placing of one god in a privileged position never threatened the existence of the remaining gods. The one and the many had been treated as complementary throughout Egyptian history and gods were not mutually exclusive. Now they were and we witness the formulation of a new logic. Although his qualities are not absolute, the Aten becomes a monotheistic God by virtue of this. He becomes a jealous god, who will tolerate no other gods before him.

Essentially, anything that does not fit into the nature of the Aten was no longer divine. The main difference between the hymns of Akhenaten, though using similar working to earlier works, is what they omit. For example, now, the difference between night and day is simply that during the night, the Aten is not present. No longer do other gods rule the dark. Furthermore, several thousand years of myths can no longer exist. The Aten's nature is not revealed but is only accessible through intellectual effort and insight only to Akenaten and those whom he teaches. Akenaten tells us that "there is no one else who knows you (the Aten)", and he is constantly given the epithet Waenre "the unique one of Re".

Hence, the Aten is so far removed that an intermediary is required in order to be accessible to mankind, and that intermediary is the king. During the New Kingdom, the use of intermediaries had been increasingly important to access the gods. However, worshipers had been able to turn to a variety of these, including sacred animals, statues, dead men who had been deified who functioned in this capacity. Now, there only recourse was the king, who becomes the sole prophet of their god. Hence, the faithful of the Amarna period pray at home in front of an altar that contains a picture of the king and his family. The new religion could be summed up as "there is no god but Aten, and Akhenaten is his prophet".

Hence, the transformation becomes visibly apparent because of the unparalleled persecution of traditional gods, above all, Amun. Akhenaten's stonemasons swarm the country and even abroad to remove the name of Amun from all accessible monuments, including even the tips of obelisks, under the gilding on columns and in the letters of the achieves. In fact, Egyptologists use these erasures and later restorations of the name of Amun in order to date monuments to the period before Amarna. Though Amun felt the worst of Akhenaten's revolution, other gods were also eliminated…

He may have eradicated the names of other gods, but he could not extinguish several thousand years of mythological traditions, particularly at a time when Egyptian religion was increasingly democratized.

Earlier I posted:

"Heliopolis
The ruins of Lunu lies under the suburbs of north-east Cairo. It was known to Herodotus ca 450 B.C. as Heliopolis. But already about 3000 B.C. this was where one of the most important and influential myths of creation was formulated. The earliest written source of this are the Pyramid Texts of 5th and 6th dynasties, the largest single collection of religious writings. They were probably composed mostly by priesthood. They held their position and developed through time, until Amun became the state god at Thebes."

"Nun or The Primeval Waters
Before the structured cosmos was created there was only darkness which held a limitless water, the primeval Nun, also called the Father of Gods. There were no temples built to Nun, but this deity is made present in many shrines as the sacred lake which *symbolizes* the non-existence before creation. The concept of the Primeval waters are common to all Egyptian creation myths. Even if their details differ, they are all explanations of how light and order was formed in the unordered, unstructured chaos of darkness and timelessness."

Now add this, a part of which was also cited earlier...

"Atum
Out of Nun rose the creator of the world Atum or the Primeval Mound, "lord to the limit of the sky" and "lord of Heliopolis", who self-developed into a being, standing on a raised mound, i.e., which became the Benben, a pyramid shaped stonde, regarded as the dwelling place of the sun god.

Atum is therefore the creator god who created the universe, he is the supreme being and master of the forces and elements of the universe. Utterance 600 in the Pyramid Texts:

O Atum! When you came into being you rose up as a High Hill, You shone as the Benben Stone in the Temple of the Benu in Heliopolis.

...Here Atum is the Primeval Mound itself. This is understable when we think of how the ground and banks along the Nile rose from the receding waters each year, soon sprouting new weeds and greenery, and animals and insects would inhabit them again. Life seemed to come out of the ground itself. This is the idea behind Atum, the Primeval Mound, the Creator, god who within him contains the possibilities of every life form.

Then Atum created Shu and Tefnut, an extract from Papyrus Brehmer-Rhind states:

All manifestations came into being after I developed...no sky existed no earth existed...I created on my own every being...my fist became my spouse....I copulated with my hand...I sneezed out Shu...I spat out Tefnut...Next Shu and Tefnut produced Geb and Nut...Geb and Nut gave birth to Osiris...Seth, Isis and Nephtys...ultimately they produced the population of this land." - courtesy of philae.nu

Next we have:

"Prior to Akhenaten, the sun disk could be a symbol in which major gods appear and so we find such phrases as "Atum who is in his disk ('aten'). However, from there it is only a small leap for the disk itself to become a god.

It was Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) who first initiated the appearance of the true god, Aten, by formulating a didactic name for him. Hence, in the early years of Amenhotep IV's reign, the sun god Re-Horakhty, traditionally depicted with a hawk's head, became identical to Aten, who was now worshipped as a god, rather than as an object associated with the sun god. Hence, prior to Akhenaten, we speak of The Aten, while afterwards it is the god Aten. Initially, Aten's relationship with other gods was very complex and it should even be mentioned that some Egyptologists have suggested that Amenhotep IV may have equated Aten to his own father, Amenhotep III. Others have suggested that, rather than true monotheism, the cult of Aten was a form of henotheism, in which one god was effectively elevated above many others, though this certainly does not seem to be the case later during the Amarna period...

Amenhotep IV, who would change his name to Akhenaten to reflect Aten's importance, first replaced the state god Amun with his newly interpreted god. The hawk-headed figure of Re-Horakhty-Aten was then abandoned in favor of the iconography of the solar disk, which was now depicted as an orb with a uraeus at its base emitting rays that ended in human hands either left open or holding ankh signs that gave "life" to the nose of both the king and the Great Royal Wife, Nefertiti. It should however be noted that this iconography actually predates Amenhotep IV with some examples from the reign of Amenhotep II, though now it became the sole manner in which Aten was depicted.

Aten was now considered the sole, ruling deity and thus received a royal titulary, inscribed like royal names in two oval cartouches. As such, Aten now celebrated its own royal jubilees (Sed-festivals). Thus, the ideology of kingship and the realm of religious cult were blurred.

The Aten's didactic name became "the living One, Re-Harakhty who rejoices on the horizon, in his name (identity) which is Illumination ('Shu, god of the space between earth and sky and of the light that fills that space') which is from the solar orb."

This designation changes everything theologically in Egypt. The traditions Egyptians had adopted since the earliest times no longer applied. According to Akhenaten, Re and the sun gods Khepri, Horakhty and Atum could no longer be accepted as manifestations of the sun. The concept of the new god was not so much the sun disk, but rather the life giving illumination of the sun. To make this distinction, his name would be more correctly pronounced, "Yati(n)".

Aten was now the king of kings, needing no goddess as a companion and having no enemies who could threaten him. In effect, this worship of Aten was not a sudden innovation on the part of one king, but the climax of a religious quest among Egyptians for a benign god limitless in power and manifest in all countries and natural phenomena.

After Aten ascended to the top of the pantheon, most of the old gods retained their positions at first, though that would soon change as well. Gods of the dead such as Osiris and Soker were several of the first to vanish from the Egyptian religious front...

Aten took on many characteristics alien to Re. Re did not function in a vacuum of gods and goddesses. Yet there remained cloudy associations with Re even as Akhenaten moved into his new capital." - touregypt.net

— The above are extracts from a discussion-board archives dating to February through to March 2005.

Having said all this, perhaps in the midst of debates stemming from people's subjective opinions about what constitutes 'monotheism' or 'polytheism', one might want to examine standard definitions of the terms, and related terms. For example, if one were to go by an online "encyclopedic" tool like Wikipedia, the standard definitions given are...

Henotheism: Most monotheists would say that, by definition, monotheism is incompatible with polytheism. However, devotees within polytheistic religious traditions often behave like monotheists. This is because a belief in multiple gods does not imply the worship of multiple gods. Historically, many polytheists believe in the existence of many gods, but worship only one, considered by the devotee to be the supreme being.

In religion and philosophy, henotheism is a term coined by Max Müller, meaning belief in, and possible worship of, multiple gods, one of which is supreme. It is also called inclusive monotheism or monarchial polytheism. According to Müller, it is "monotheism in principle and a polytheism in fact".

Communities which have an exclusive relationship with one deity whilst not denying the existence of other deities are called monolatrous.

…There are also monotheistic theologies in Hinduism which teach that the many forms of God, i.e., Vishnu, Shiva, or Devi merely represent aspects of a single or underlying divine power or Brahman (see articles on Nirguna Brahman and Saguna Brahman). Some claim that Hinduism never taught polytheism.

Monolatrism forms a type of henotheism. Its adherents believe that many gods do exist, but these gods can exert their power only on those who worship them. Thus, a monolatrist may believe in the reality of both the Egyptian gods and the God described in the Bible, but sees him or herself as a member of only one of these religions. The gods that he/she worships affects their life; the other gods do not.

Monistic Theism is the type of monotheism found in Hindu culture. Such type of theism is different from the Semitic religions as it encompasses panentheism, monism, and at the same time includes the concept of a personal God as an universal, omnipotent Supreme Being…

In Hinduism views are broad and range from monism, dualism, pantheism, panentheism, alternatively called monistic theism by some scholars, and strict monotheism, but are not polytheistic as outsiders perceive the religion to be. Hinduism has often been confused to be polytheistic as many of Hinduism's adherents are monists, and view multiple manifestations of the one God or source of being. Hindu monists see one unity, with the personal Gods, different aspects of only One Supreme Being, like a single beam of light separated into colours by a prism, and are valid to worship. Some of the Hindu aspects of God include Devi, Vishnu, Ganesh, and Siva. Additionally, like Judaeo-Christian religions which believe in angels, Hindus also believe in less powerful entities, such as devas.

Contemporary Hinduism is now divided into four major divisions, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. Just as Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe in one God but differ in their conceptions of him, Hindus all believe in one God but differ in their conceptions. The two primary form of differences are between the two monotheistic religions of Vaishnavism which conceives God as Vishnu and Shaivism, which conceives God as Shiva. Other aspects of God are in fact aspects of Vishnu or Shiva; see Smartism for more information.

Substance monotheism, found e.g. in some indigenous African religions, holds that the many gods are different forms of a single underlying substance, and that this underlying substance is God. This view has some similarities to the Christiantrinitarian view of three persons sharing one nature.

Inclusive and Exclusive Monotheism: Monotheism can be divided into different types on the basis of its attitude to polytheism: inclusive monotheism claims that all polytheistic deities are just different names for the single monotheistic God; exclusive monotheism claims that these deities are distinct from the monotheistic God, and false (either invented, or demonic, in nature).

Deism is a form of monotheism in which it is believed that one god exists, however, a Deist comes to his belief through reason, and rejects any religious revelations such as the Bible, the Tanakh, or the Qur'an.

Pantheism holds that the Universe is God. Depending on how this is understood, such a view may be tantamount to atheism, deism or theism.

Pandeism: combines elements of deism and pantheism, suggests that a single, sentient God designed the universe, and then became the current, non-sentient universe.

Dualism teaches that there are two independent divine beings or eternal principles, the one good, and the other evil, as set forth especially in Zoroastrianism, but more fully in its later offshoots in Gnostic systems, such as Manichaeism.

Kathenotheism is a term coined by the philologist Max Müller to mean the worship of one god at a time. It is closely related to monolatrism and polytheism. Müller originally coined the term in reference to the Vedas; he argued there are different supreme gods at different times. Kathenotheism is sometimes distinguished as follows: a monolatrist worships only one God during their whole life (assuming they do not undergo a conversion); while they accept that other Gods exist they do not worship them. A kathenotheist worships one God at a time, depending on their locality or the time.

Atheism is the state either of being without theistic beliefs, or of actively disbelieving in the existence of deities. In antiquity, Epicureanism incorporated aspects of atheism, but it disappeared from the philosophy of the Greek and Roman traditions as Christianity gained influence. During the Age of Enlightenment, the concept of atheism re-emerged as an accusation against those who questioned the religious status quo, but by the late 18th century it had become the philosophical position of a growing minority. By the 20th century, atheism had become the most common position among scientists, rationalists, and humanists.

Monotheism strictly [and there is no compromise in its 'true' definition] means the belief in one deity, as the supreme being, and no other deities are involved. Polytheism, on the other hand, applies to a belief system that has more than one deity, even if this belief system is hierarchical, with the supreme being at the top, and the lesser deities, usually manifestations of this supreme one.

One would think with such terms available, with straightforward and unflinching definitions, there won't be complications in their usage, but various people don't abide by the unwavering and specifically defined terms, and have their own perceptions of what these terms are supposed to mean. Case in point, the various terms mentioned above, aside from disbelief in the existence of deities (like Atheism), can in actuality be described as either 'monotheism' or 'polytheism', according to whether the belief systems involve one deity or not.

If we are to accept the definitions of 'polytheism' or 'monotheism', then the terms have to be consistently used across the board, for all belief systems, and not just a select few, as one sees fit. Take Christianity for instance, the practitioners of which will swear that their belief system is "monotheistic": In Christianity, there is more than one deity [recall the trinitarian view]. So by definition, in that feature, it is polytheistic in its inclination. The same can be said of Kemetian belief system in the various periods, except possibly, the Amarna period of Akhenaten's "monotheistic" approach to religion. Now, if one argues that Christianity isn't polytheistic, despite its belief in more than one deity, while insisting that the Egyptian belief systems of various time frames are polytheistic, that would be hypocrisy. That argument modifies the meaning of 'polytheism' in one instance, and strictly applies the standard definition of the term in another instance. If one is going to look at monotheism and polytheism in terms of how a deity or deities are worshiped, rather than what the terms mean by standard definition, then it is no wonder that one finds elements of both in Kemetian cosmology.

Here is an interesting perspective offered by a discussant going by the pseudo-moniker of "Imhotep":

I think most people in general have the wrong idea when it comes to African spiritual systems period. We have to remember that this is a system of heavily codified myths and it was designed for initiates in the Shetaut Neter system.

All indiginous African systems are based on the study of energy and how different degrees of energy interracts with each other. Since certain energy forces are too subtle for the mind to conceptualize, they were given anthropomorphic characteristics and put in story form with varying episodes to help facilitate an initiate's journey into discoverying self.

The key to understanding the Ta-Merrian system of spirituality, is to understand the concept of divination and the proper use of Hekau (words of power). In all African spiritual systems, it is the concept and manipulation of energy that becomes the focal point of study.

The Egyptians have always recognized one "supreme" God. A careful study of the Menefer Theology puts this into perspective. A study of the Ifa and Dogon systems will shed light on this also. It is understood that the suprume deity is all-encompassing. This is why they called it Neb-r-tcher. But they never really had a name for the supreme deity. They couldn't. No words can conceptualize what it is.

People must understand exactly what metaphysics is. True metaphysics is the study of what can be seen in nature and applying its governing laws to the understanding of the supreme being and ultimately how to unite with it (Sma Tawi).

So each deity is actually a concept found in nature or a force that governs it. Since God is all encompassing and it didn't create anything outside itself, everything is of God and is divine.

In Ifa (and most all African systems), God is just experiencing itself in many different fashions. God created this plane of existence to experience what it can't in a plane that has no physical concepts: it is all consciousness. God is all that exist. This is why in your stories Ptah speaks words that churn the Nun into creation or Amun masterbates and completes creation. God only used aspects of itself to create because nothing exist outside of God itself.

This is what is currently and in times past taught in the priesthoods of Africa. They didn't worship various deities. They called upon the energy pattern of what the deity is supposed to represent for various things in their lives (to manipulate other energy). This is what you find with the Dogon, with the Dagara, amongst the Zulu and in Ifa. It is a recognition of the energy that governs the universe. What you read on temples and in papyri are for first level intitiates. Milk before meat.

— The above are discussion-board extracts dating to 2005.

Speaking of African spiritual interpretations of the workings of energy, the contrasts between the material world of the organic and inorganic, and its associated implications on the issue of darkness and lightness, another discussion-board poster by the alias of "Osiris El" offered the following in an interesting discussion that the present author was a part of, and the present author weighed in on it as follows...

“...So Black is looked at as bad and the Jackal is looked at as something evil, when Neither Is Negative. Black Is A State Of Supreme Balancement, You exist longer in dark than light,

If Light is life, you only Live Your Physical Life With Human And Animals From 1-100 years or up to 120 the most . But in Darkness Or Death You Are With God and The Angel Forever .

So Light is Temporally and Darkness is Eternal.

Light Is With Man And Darkness Is With God! Think About It .

Before you were Born, you were In This State. And when you die you Will Return To That State Of Supreme Balancement.

(When Man invented Light, he created Chaos. Murder And All Evil That Brought The Light Into Existence) Blackness is An Abode Of Peace, It is the Light that You cut off when You're Ready To Sleep , to bring upon Peace, I Think You've Been Fooled By Racism .

The Jackal just happen to be the Animal Symbol Used By The Neter (Deity) Anubu (Anubia).

Most People Might ask, are Jackals really Blacks? Answer; No! There is no such specie as a black jackal, the real reason why the black jackal is depicted as black, can not be revealed to those who is found not worthy. But little is revealed and can be told, it is symbolic of "The nine black knights"…

…Why is it, once a person passes away, it is looked at as something depressing Or as such a tragedy? Foremost, it is because it is something Unknown.

If you join God when you die, why do you, as a religious person, try to Stay Alive So Bad?

If you already gave yourself to God, you should be happy to die, Right! Other cultures don't view death as something bad but accept it as something that Is A Natural Part Of The Cycle Of Life To Be Celebrated, as the Soul Moves On To The Next Realm…"


The Jackal [Anubis]

— The above is an extract taken from a discussion-board archives, a topic titled: Why The Wearing Of Black To Funerals? Egyptian Knowledge from June 2004.

Personal weighing in...

The Sun embodies:
Regeneration via its cyclic rise and setting , and is the cause of liveliness at the same time through its light. Thus, while the positioning of the Sun vis-à-vis the earth is cyclic, it marks the temporary phases of the interplay of light and dark. Darkness in itself however, is in a non-random state, and is ETERNAL, while light [actually the product of disorderly/random dispersion of photons from the source of emission (Energy source), like the Sun], as the aforementioned poster claimed, is a TEMPORARY phase.

I tend to think of the Pharaonic concept of the "living" king’s identification with Heru [the son of Ausar], and the passed away king’s identification with Ausar [the father of Heru], as being correlated to the aforementioned cyclic nature of sunrise and sunset, whereby the living king represents the temporary "light" phase of life, while the dead one is in its eternal [and peaceful]"dark" state in the Nederland or dwt, and that this is a process that was envisioned to keep going [reoccurring events of life, in the same manner as the suns cycles vis-à-vis the earth] in cycles; i.e. for every ruler who passed away, there will be a replacement by a living counterpart. Heru thus represents the temporary phase of the king’s soul, while Ausar, represents the eternal phase of the king’s soul. Meanwhile, as part of the dualism in the material world of the "balancing" between forces and counter-forces, including that manifested in belief systems as good and evil, we have St/Set for example; although this deity had attained notoriety in several periods of the Dynastic era, it attained one that of strength under the Rameside Dynasty. In its antagonistic personification, it actually embodied "chaos", storms, desertification, conflict/war, destruction and other adverse natural phenomena. Notwithstanding its anthropomorphic renditions in ancient Egyptian story telling, it was actually the embodiment of all "adverse" phenomena, which may be brought about by either an inorganic or organic agent. Hence, it is not accidental that Set's personification ran antagonistic to that of say, Asr (Ausar's)/Osiris, with his embodiment of regeneration/rebirth and fertility. So religious thought like "evil" doesn't do much justice in characterizing Set, in my opinion; for instance, can inorganic phenomenon like weather storm or desertification be characterized as "evil"? Something to think about.

In looking at the aforementioned piece from Osiris El, with regards to the Egyptic viewpoint that,

Before you were Born , you were In This State. And when you die you Will Return To That State Of Supreme Balancement.”,

there is a sense of scientific reality or parallel to this perspective. Although, biologists are still struggling with understanding of what "life" is exactly, or how it was precisely brought about, “life” in science is viewed as an entity that cannot be seen, but its effects are seen. “Life” here, is claimed to be in an eternal state, whereby life cannot be recreated, nor be destroyed. In science, it is claimed that a single life is being distributed across the board in all living organisms, not separate or newly created “life” for every individual born. When organisms die, the biological elements of the dead, i.e. the corpse, go back to nature; e.g., we all know about body decomposition and the C14 isotope. Life however, continues; it's just that it is taken away from the dead organism, but not destroyed. Outside of science, some might interpret this as the “soul”. So in science, we are once again confronted with the notion of the temporary and eternal stages of the “life”.

Other interesting excerpts, with regards to Kemetian perspective of “life”…

From Faulkner's "Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts"

The translations for Utterance 12 were ommitted, because they are lost

Utterance 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18

"I give you your head, I fasten your head to the bones for you."

"I give him his eyes, that he may be content - a htp offering"

"Geb has given you your eyes, that you may be content"

"the Eye of Horus- water a nmst-jar"

"O Thoth, put for him his head on him - water, a ds-jar"

"He has brought it for him - water, a drinking cup"


With respect to the above piece, a poster of an old Nile Valley forum, by the name “Allah” wrote:

The receiver of the organs in these passage, is not necessarily getting new organs. What Nt is trying to convey is that she and her counterpart Gb give WSR (the deceased or MENTALLY dead) stimulus, by which the purpose of the head and eyes come into being, being they provide the canvas of the night sky, as well as the landscape to use as an observational anchor.

All of these stimuli are in fact synthesized and processed through the "third" Eye or the man's intelligence (Eye of Hr (Horus or Heru) ) The word nmst is the female form of the word nms which means veil or covering. With the suffix, this becomes a water covering or jar. The word ds or tsmeans pot or jar also. The root of the word nmst, nms, is related to head covering, and in factnms is related again to the Name Wmn (Amen) which represents mentality, and the head being the center of activity of the mentality.

Ds is related to knife, charcoal, chalk, or other implement of making marks, and thus this is how the relation with Djhty (Djehuti or Thoth) comes into play since those in the offices of Djhty are in charge of writing and communication.

Thus this series of utterances illustrates the development of awareness (head and eyes and nmstjar) and the communication of this knowledge through writing (ds jar).

Vessels in this case not only deal with the funerary furniture, but their interiors also represent the shell which represents one field of view, as well as ones canvas of record. Basically the point of this series of instructions is to instruct the rites of passage candidate in the art of literacy, which was a valued and rare commidity in the Hpy River Valley.


This piece again highlights the temporary [living] stage, whereby one is enabled in “awareness“, and the art of communicating it via the organic matter of one’s head and its components [eyes, brains, mouth and so forth], and enhancing this communication by way of writing, with the hand being the main organic matter here. Basically, the organic body which acts as the “shell” of eternal “life” or “soul”, is a "temporary" medium through which the “life” or “soul” is manifested when an individual is alive and doing all those daily activities in the light of day [sunlight] and at night [after sunset]. Geb/Gb, as the poster above pointed out, should be identified as “Material Science” patron, or more appropriately, patron of "solid" entity, rather than simply being passed off relatively ambiguously, as patron of “Earth”. On this, directly from the poster “Allah”,...

“In the profane scientific literature, Gb was not listed as a patron of a particular planet in conjunction with listing of the other visible planets. Also Gb's association with other Patrons and Matrons involved with STATES OF MATTER, such as Shw and Tfnt (Wind and Moisture).”

— The above are extracts from an old Nile Valley forum posts, in a discussion titled: Mr (Pyramid) text study for Science and Education ut. 1-18 from 2005.

Atum as noted earlier, was the personification of the "creative force" of Nun, the limitless premival water devoid of light, which was also given an attribute of the Sun — in particular, the setting sun; it is not the most fundamental expression of 'solid' [for example, an atom is even more fundamental — as a solid — than the Sun is; the latter is made up of the former], which is the role played by Geb. There is a difference between the Sun — which is another physical manifestation of ensembles of the most fundamental [microscopic] solids — and the fundamental essence of Solid, as a state of matter. This feature of Atum is what paved way for an eventual synchronization with Ra, another Sun deity, as noted.

...however there are some things that the present author would like to assess herein. In looking at the intro notes, it is indeed safe to characterize concepts dealing with the symbolism of the Sun as an element of deity representing the Sun cycles vis-à-vis the earth, the interplay of Heru and Ausar in dedication to the two "states" of existence of the Pharaoh, the insights into Thoth/Djehuti as an intellectual element, Geb and Nut as the embodiment of the inorganic natural states/organization of microscopic solids [aka atoms] which has been likened to the comparison of land and atmosphere, likewise Shw and Tfnt with respect to gases and liquids, and so forth for the rest of the neteru, as "Pantheistic". Does it then make sense that the idea of "one" invisible "God", the "creator of the universe", as being part and parcel of such concepts, is NOT "supernatural"?

Well, let's explore...

Many of us are by now familiar with how the ‘creation stories’ molded after those from the pre-dynastic Nile Valley concepts were harmonized. The primeval waters:

According to the writings of the Egyptians, there was a time when neither heaven nor earth existed, and when nothing had being except the boundless primeval water, which was, however, shrouded with thick darkness. In this condition the primeval water remained for a considerable time, notwithstanding that it contained within it the germs of the things which afterwards came into existence in this world itself. - Budge

Naturally, this would embody a time inaccessible to the memory of humankind, but one that is presumed to be the case before the being of celestial bodies/planets, and naturally, including the organic world of planet earth. The idea of eternity of “nothingness” prior to the organization of microscopic solids [atoms] into the different states of gases, liquids and solids. This state of “nothingness”, i.e. before the coming about the structured cosmos, was personified as ‘Nun’/Nn

Budge continues...

At length the spirit of the primeval water felt the desire for creative activity, and having uttered the word, the world sprang straightway into being in the form which had already been depicted in the mind of the spirit before he spake the word which resulted in its creation. The next act of creation was the form of a germ, or egg, from which sprang Ra, the Sun-god, within whose shining form was embodied the almighty power of the divine spirit…

Such was the outline of creation as described by the late Dr. H. Brugsch, and it is curious to see how closely his views coincide with a chapter in the Papyrus of Nesi Amsu preserved in the British Museum.


Hence, light eventually came into being, presumably out of this state of “nothingness” with the formation of light-emitting sources like the Sun and other stars; basically, the coming about of light in the "unstructured" state of darkness and timeliness. If one examines Nt and Gb, one sees a similar talk of the creation, whereby atmosphere and planet/solids are formed, and the interactions of which, often visually exemplified in the person of Nt and Gb engaging in an “intercourse“. The same with Shw and Tfnt in wind/air/gases, and moisture/oceans/liquids respectively. If the present author didn’t know any better, it would seem that the aforementioned stage of “nothingness”, i.e. eternal state of “darkness” and “timeliness” may well be equated with the “invisible” god. But let’s see what Budge tells about this…

The late Dr. H. Brugsch collected a number of the epithets [published in “Religion” pages 99-101] which are applied to the gods, from texts of all periods; and from these we may see that the ideas and beliefs of the Egyptians concerning God were almost identical with those of the Hebrew and Muhammadans at later periods. When classified these epithets read thus [Budge provides more examples, we'll just stick to a few] :-

“ God is One and alone, and none other existeth with Him; God is the One, the One Who hath made all things.”

“God is a spirit, a hidden spirit, the spirit of spirits, the great spirit of the Egyptians, the divine spirit.”

“God is from the beginning, and He hath been from the beginning; He hath existed from of old and was when nothing else had being. He existed when nothing else existed, and what existeth He created after He hand come into being. He is the father of beginnings.”

“God is the eternal One, He is eternal and infinite; and endureth for ever and aye; He hath endured for countless ages, and He shall endure to all eternity.”

“ God is the hidden Being, and no man hath known His form. No man hath been able to see out His likeness; He is hidden from gods and men, and He is a mystery unto His creatures”


“God is merciful unto those who reverence Him, and He heareth him that calleth upon Him. He protected the weak against the strong, and He heareth the cry of him that is bound in fetters; He judgeth between the mighty and the weak. God knoweth him that knoweth Him, and He protected him that followed Him.”

We have now to consider the visible emblem, and the type and symbol of God, namely the Sun-god Ra, who was worshipped in Egypt in prehistoric times. According to the writings of the Egyptians, there was a time when neither heaven nor earth existed, and when nothing had being except the boundless primeval water, which was, however, shrouded with thick darkness. In this condition the primeval water remained for a considerable time, notwithstanding that it contained within it the germs of the things which afterwards came into existence in this world itself...

This brings us to the question confronting us: IF this state ‘primeval water’ state can be equated with the invisible “one” God, can the invisible/formless eternal God then be considered “supernatural”? [note: the “one” would connote the point that there was nothing else, but this state of “primeval’ waters prior to formation of the structured cosmos]

The other side of coin…

Those who feel that ‘primeval water’ cannot be equated with the invisible/formless “one” God , the question to them would be, do you then perceive the “one” God as preceding the “primeval” state? How would this be known from Kemetic concepts?

— The above are extracts from a discussion-board archives, dating to 2006.
______________________________________________________________

*Speaking of "life", here's something that might offer an interesting read. The scientific community don’t know what life actually is, but that hasn’t stopped some of them scientists from trying to create it anyway...

August 19th, 2007

"We're all sort of thinking that the next origin of life will be in somebody's lab," said David Deamer, a University of California, Santa Cruz, biochemistry professor who is one of the leading experts trying to create life. But ask Deamer what life is, and he responds by saying it's best to describe it, not define it…

Look for changes in religion, too.

"As knowledge has (been) added, religions have adapted," Venter said. "I don't see why this is any different. We're pushing the frontiers of knowledge, understanding life on this planet."

Venter dismisses suggestions that scientists are playing God as media sensationalism. And Collins, a scientist who talks at length about his faith, said he finds it interesting that the people who most often use the phrase "playing God" usually don't believe in God.

"Playing God" is a secular, not religious, term, said Ted Peters, a professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and author of the book "Playing God." He said people who worry about that are really talking about tinkering with nature.

"What Craig Venter is doing is an extremely complicated form of animal breeding," Peters said. "We're going to be changing the face of the planet no matter what. The question is do we want to do it responsibly or not?"

One of the men trying to make life from scratch, Mark Bedau, understands the worries. A philosophy professor from Reed College in Oregon, Bedau is also the chief operating officer of the synthetic biology firm ProtoLife in Venice, Italy.

His team and others are trying to make single-cell organisms from chemical components, creating a genetic system that multiplies and a metabolism that takes in energy from the environment. Scientists say they are close to completing a key first step, creation of a vesicle, or container, for the cell.

"We are doing things which were thought to be the province, in some quarters, of God — like making new forms of life," Bedau said in a phone interview from Venice. "Life is very powerful, and if we can get it to do what we want ... there are all kinds of good things that can be done.

"Playing God is a good thing to do as long as you're doing it responsibly," he said.


In another revelation, related to the issue at hand:

…One of the leaders in the field, Jack Szostak at Harvard Medical School, predicts that within the next six months, scientists will report evidence that the first step creating a cell membrane is "not a big problem." Scientists are using fatty acids in that effort.

Szostak is also optimistic about the next step getting nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA, to form a working genetic system. His idea is that once the container is made, if scientists add nucleotides in the right proportions, then Darwinian evolution could simply take over.

"We aren't smart enough to design things, we just let evolution do the hard work and then we figure out what happened," Szostak said.


Sources for the excerpts above: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-08-19-life_N.htm

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