Robert Ressler, Ph.D:

Behind the Fig Leaf:

The Roots of Patriarchy in the Garden of Eden


RobertResslerPeople are born sinners? It’s God’s will that women be subordinated in patriarchal families? These are religious distortions of an orally transmitted Eden story that lamented patriarchy, according to a new evolutionary/feminist reading of the Bible’s story of Adam and Eve by retired evolutionary psychologist Robert H. Ressler, drawing eye-opening connections to our present reality.  


For roughly 1500 years, children in the West have been raised to believe they were born sinners, doomed to suffer an eternal afterlife in hell unless they accepted Jesus as savior. As philosopher Paul Ricoeur once wrote, “The harm that has been done” by that Augustinian Christian interpretation of the Eden story “will never be adequately told.”


The same can be said of the harm done by the Hebrew Eden story’s subordination of women in monogamous patriarchal families and the fallacy buried in the story that men’s “seed” is the sole source of new life, which Ressler calls our Original Spin.


Beneath that Bible story, Ressler sees an older, orally transmitted, subversive tale that the Bible’s authors appropriated and reframed to suit the interests of patriarchal monotheism. The oral story lamented what the Bible portrayed as “God’s punishments” of Adam and Eve. History is written by the winners, and the Bible’s Eden story was no exception. But this lost tale, for which there is circumstantial evidence, would have been history told by the losers, the women and lower classes, who suffered from the patriarchal and agricultural revolutions, which the Israelite elite gave divine justification.


That history is playing out to this day.


Robert H. Ressler, Ph.D., formerly Associate Professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, published research in Science and other leading journals. He now works as a Bay Area creativity and life purpose coach. A songwriter for many years, he’s produced a CD of songs inspired by his research on the Eden story. Samples of the songs will be included as part of his talk.


After the discussion we will walk to dinner at our usual venue at King Dong, 2727 Milvia (at Haste) in Berkeley. The walk is nearly the same distance as it was when we met in the library.

When: Sunday, January 15th, 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM


Location: Sports Basement, 2727 Milvia St, Berkeley. Four blocks from Ashby BART. Parking in the neighborhood, and you can use the store's parking. Like many stores today, the Sports Basement is not heated to a comfy home temperature. We suggest you wear a coat or sweater, and bring another warm layer in case you get cold sitting during the talk. The store is certainly warmer than the outside, be we have had some cold days lately. Our room is large with lots of comfy sofas, but we were concerned that the retail area might intrude on our space, which is only partially partitioned off from the rest of the store. At our Solstice Party we found this was not a problem. Several people said they became oblivious to the nearby store space, and really enjoyed our pleasant room.


To Find Us: Enter the front door and proceed to the main shopping area. Then turn right. We will be on your right.


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Information: Larry Hicok, Coordinator: 510-222-7580

Ski Grabowski, Treasurer: 510-652-8350

Albany Hill Cross On the Way Out

As a result of pressure applied by the City of Albany, PG&E has replaced the electrical service for the Albany Hill Cross, located in the city park in Albany. The replacement makes the cross many times safer than before, when it used a small euclayptus tree as a utility pole. This was particularly egregious because it was in a critical fire area. The history of the cross is a case study of the special privileges given to religion, and the current city administration wants this to end. Below is a postcard sent to every Albany household in December, when the council doubted PG&E would properly repair the service. Ultimately we are confident that the cross will soon be gone from the park.



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