left biblioblography: Scriptural literalism: the Patriarchal Divide

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Scriptural literalism: the Patriarchal Divide

I was looking up Scriptural literalism, for inclusion to the next GOD OR NOT (#6), when I stumbled across this analysis.
[Author’s note: I do know what the phrase means, but for the sake of clarity, I looked it up anyways, & surprisingly, answers.com DOESN’T have a solid definition, go figure.]

The study is here. (Note to readers: I absolutely loathe having the link spill over into margins: call me anal. Ergo, I went with the shorthand version, many pardons.)

I had originally planned to do some of the usual targeting of scriptural miscommunications (koine Greek vs. Aramaic, vagaries of language, etc, since this WAS one of my first steps on the road to atheism), but rather than trot out the hoary old chestnuts (mistranslation of the word ‘by’ as opposed to ‘on’, when Jesus walked ‘by’ the water, that sort of thing) that have been already spoken by men by far smarter and more eloquent than I, I opted for, as Monty Python puts it, “Now, for something COMPLETELY different!”.

The excerpt from the article as follows -
Authors: Burn, Shawn Meghan1; Busso, Julia1
Source: Psychology of Women Quarterly, Volume 29, Number 4, December 2005, pp. 412-418(7)
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing

“This correlational study explores the hypothesis that religiosity and scriptural literalism (the degree to which one interprets scriptures literally) are associated with sexism. Participants were female and male (N= 504) university students who anonymously completed the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory ( Glick & Fiske, 1996, 1997, 2001a, 2001b), the Scriptural Literalism Scale ( Hogge & Friedman, 1967), and the Religious Orientation Scale–Revised ( Gorsuch & McPherson, 1989). Intrinsic religiosity, extrinsic religiosity, and scriptural literalism were positively associated with benevolent, but not hostile, sexism. Intrinsic religiosity and scriptural literalism were positively related to the protective paternalism subscale, whereas extrinsic religiosity was related to the heterosexual intimacy, complementary gender differentiation, and protective paternalism subscales.”

Allow me to clarify a few points here:

  1. One study doesn’t conclusively prove the point: statistics can be skewed

  2. Not all literalists are male.
However, it does seem, in my eyes, a logical inference.

Let’s place this in an anthropological light.
As hunter/gatherers, it does require a singular focus to ‘bring home the bacon’, so to speak. Whereas, in the matriarchal societies (from whence most civilizations stem), the ability to juggle multiple tasks requires more of a  ‘right-hemisphere’ connection.

Let’s take this a little deeper.

Literalism is in the eye of the gender.

While not positing an absolute here (the topic IS literalism, hard not to), we do see a preponderance of men in literal roles in society. Physicists, biologists, etc. Yes, it is a man’s world, no, women are indeed capable of performing many of the same roles as men (Gah! Political correctness has contributed so much driftwood in the construction of sentences; it makes the head spin and the knees go wobbly!). That’s not the point: we both know it.

Men are better (as a rule) at particular things. Women are better at other particular things.

‘Nuff said. Onwards.

Being as there’s a distinct capacity in the male of our species to adhere far more strictly to given parameters, biblical literalists being (for the most part) male is no surprise to me whatsoever. Of course, we live in a patriarchal society. It is only more recently that civilization has begun to redefine boundaries and language, to be more inclusive, and less strict.

An anecdote, if you will:

I love to play scrabble. However, I’m one of those people (men) who adhere very strictly to the rules: no ‘teaming up’, no looking up the word (prior, during, after the turn), etc.
I can’t play scrabble with my little sis anymore.
If I come up with a word, she asks my mom (if she’s there) if that’s a ‘real’ word, looks at hubby’s letters, makes suggestions, you get the idea.
Drives me into a frenzy, it does. I can pull out the rules, read them to her, spell them out (pun intended), have her read them.
Does not a damn piece of good.
Maybe this is the ‘unrepresentative sample’ fallacy. But somehow, I doubt it.

Let’s examine this from another perspective:
Studies show that men, when they shop, go straight to the items they need, get them, and go to the cashier (I know I do it: there’s no shame for the male reader in admitting this also).

A woman, however, does far more than that.

They squeeze the melons. They compare prices. They weigh all the variables (price, nutritional value, ingredients [sometimes]); need I go on?

Another example that springs to mind, is McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict, wherein McDowell relates an anecdote that his father was such a horrible drunk, the family made a habit of tying him up in the barn (as to the veracity of this story, I am unsure: it could very well be semi-apocryphal). A very poor father figure indeed. This does seem to be symptomatic of literalists.

So, small wonder that most literalists are males.

If indeed the bible had been written by women (and, in retrospect, I’m beginning to wish it had), there would likely be less bloodshed, far more of a nurturing aspect, less hellfire and damnation, less ‘slaughtering of the innocents’ overall.  Less of the old ‘kick school’ mentality (testosterone makes lunatics of us all, methinks). Because, after all, women show more sense in many ways than we do.

Men tend to think with their southernmost regions. Their bellies, and that which dwells beneath it.  Those are stricter parameters. If A, then B, else C.

Perchance we’d have a better world, had the ladies been running it all this time, is all.

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Doctor Marco said...

You say many things that make sense after experiencing 32 years of life. As part of my profession I have learned to navigate in the sea of uncertainty, but I definitely feel more comfortable if everything would have a 100% correct answer. By being an atheist I believe I am open minded. I have learned to analyze and interpret scientific papers without accepting what they say, however, when I return to my life as a male, I go to the mall and buy what I intended to buy and leave.

I just placed a comment in a blog from a right wing guy, who does not like "moral relativism". http://truthnoteverybodiescupoftea.blogspot.com/2006/01/they-just-dont-get-it.html

Visit me at Multae Sententiae

Krystalline Apostate said...

Doctor Marco:
Thnx very much.
Ummm...am 47 right now (I assume that you're 32, correct?).
I'll check out the 'moral relatvism' on the Right link. Thnx again

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Sweet-tastin' chewy-caramelcenter-jaheseus-bugfuckin'-Ellison!
How I'd DEARLY wish that
Danish author
Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff had been translated into English.

Krystalline Apostate said...

doctor marco:
Thnx for the link. Left a few commentaries there.

Your visits are appreciated, & a tad surreal, my friend.

What does Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff write, exactly? & What put you in mind of good ole Harlan, my literary idol, if I may be so bold to ask?

Jeremy Pierce said...

Methinks this is really just a side-effect of the fact that taking the Bible authoritatively requires taking views that require seeing complementary but different roles for men and women, which many wrongly think amounts to seeing men and women as intrinsically different in a way that has anything to do with one being better or worse than the other. That sort of view takes the Bible's statements to be sexist. Given such a view, is it surprising that those who take it as it was intended are labeled sexist? You've got the order of causation backwards, at least for many people.

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Pierce. Read the bible. (Why is it always necessary to tell -theists- to do so?)
In no way, shape or form are women treated as equals.
That's not to say that men, or people at all, are treated "well" in that book. God torments and kills folks left and right, and several times for reasons that are indeed beyond the mind of mere mortals to understand... they're flat out ludicrous.

Krystalline Apostate said...

How can you possibly deny that women are treated as lesser than men?
Look at Exodus, the 8th commandment (Catholic & Hebrew), where the man is commanded not to covet his neighbor's wife, servants, or property.
Corinthians, where the man is the woman's leader.
Or howzabout the fact that Levirate law measures kingship thru the male, not the female?
Or that there was NEVER an Israelite queen?
Women are treated very poorly in patriarchal societies.
& let me ask you this:
What were normally considered the 'spoils' of war, in most patriarchal societies? Real estate, cattle, homes....and women.

say no to christ said...

I love you guys. :) Well said!!!


Anonymous said...

yes he must be returning soon never mind the Lord will be returning soon, in heaven it sounds like there is no gender because the abomination of desolation has been as well as the son of perdition revealed but true no one will know the exact time

Krystalline Apostate said...

anonymous - I'd advise very strongly, that you find an Allegories Anonymous somewhere near by.
Because this is just ridiculous. See my post on 'Demolishing The NT in 500 words or less'. Also, 'Proof-reading the Prophecies'.
You've been lied to. Sorry.