Fanstastic. Informative, interesting and well argued as always.

Futile Democracy

I have previously pointed out – here – that one of the major inaccuracies in the entire Bible is the suggestion that the Ten Commandments – the very foundation of Christianity – are unique to Christianity, or originated with Christianity. They didn’t. They originated with a pre-Pharoah tribe of Egypt called the Kemet, whose concept of truth, law and justice was consolidated into a theory called ‘Ma’at’. The ten commandments of the Bible are derived from the 42 principles of Ma’at.

But what if the glaring lie that the ten commandments were uniquely handed to Moses at the top of Mount Sinai, was not the biggest inaccuracy in the Bible? What if the biggest lie in the Bible was that Jesus existed at all?

Biblical historians generally agree that a man named Jesus probably did exist. Though, they never tend to give any strong evidence for his existence. Nothing written…

View original post 3,629 more words

This Comment Made me Cringe


On going through my emails (a task so gargantuan these days, that painting the Severn Bridge might actually take LESS time), I saw I had a comment on quite an old post.  Nevertheless, I thought I would give it a look (probably out of a sick sense of curiosity) and low and behold I’ve now had my first religitard rant.

<sarcasm>Can’t tell you how proud I feel</sarcasm>

From $150 billion shot to hell

Aug 06, 2011 @ 18:37:26 [Edit]

“Navy SEALS helpcopter crash of 8.6.11 was revenge for Osama bin Laden.
One day default will bring insolvency, while the wealthy your bailed out with multi-trillion dollar stimulous package leaves you behind in the ruins.
You fell for it. And now you will pay dearly. The United States is the empire of evil.”

Was it really?  Pilot error combined with technical failures had nothing do with it then?  Newsflash:  Accidents DO happen.  NOTHING is ‘divinely driven’.  By the way, the US and the UK are at war with the Taliban.  Dead soldiers (and others) go hand in hand with war.  Are you so naive to think that the Taliban would just curl up their toes and fall dead just by looking at our troops?

“Even with all the corruption this wasn’t going to happen on W’s watch because the conservatives are the good ones. It is the social decay which was the trademark of The Beast, and what has destroyed our favor with the gods, filthy sodomites.”

What social decay?  The decay that leads people to denigrate and try to deny others needed medical assistance because they don’t earn enough to afford the extortionate insurance premiums charged by US insurance companies?  The same decay that leads people to be fired from their jobs for no other reason than holding a different theological position to their colleagues or employers?  The same social decay that allows whole towns to close ranks against a family and drive them away through bullying and harassment for the apparently heinous crime of not being Christian?  You really need to look further past the end of your own nose if you hope to see what’s actually going on rather than what the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah “Potty” Palin, Michelle Bachmann and the Libertarian lunatic fringe tell you to believe.  Social support programs enrich a nation as a whole by ensuring that nobody starves and nobody suffers unnecessarily.  It has noting to do with divine intervention.  Since no sufficient evidence in favour of the existence of any God(s) has yet emerged, I am happy to call myself an Atheist.

“Your job as a future mother is to learn the god’s ways and to help your child understand despite the negative reinforcement and conditioning of today’s society. Without consciousous parents the child will have no hope, and may even exaserbate their disfavor by becoming corrupted in today’s environment.
Your ultimate goal is to fix your relationship wiith the gods and move on. You don’t want to be comfortable here, and the changes in Western society in the last 100 years has achieved just that.
1000 years with Jesus is the consolation prize. Don’t be deceived into thinking that is the goal.”

Future mother?  I AM the mother of two fine boys who will be lucky not to be brought up under the yolk of religion.  My job is to keep them safe from harm and unhealthy influences (yes, I mean the Church), physically healthy, and teach them right from wrong, and then step back and let them explore their own individuality, whether they be straight, gay, bi or otherwise.  Neither their father I do not want them to become mere replicas of their parents If they choose religion for themselves that is THEIR choice to make, not mine.  We only have one life and I will not have my children waste theirs by waiting for some posthumous reward in the next life in return for being a gullible prat in this one.  In short they will be raised as freethinkers, and equipped with the tools that they need in this (their only) life.

“Much like the other prophets Mohhamed (polygamy/superiority over women/misogyny) and Jesus (forgiveness/savior), the gods use me for temptation as well. In today’s modern society they feel people are most weak for popular culture/sensationalism, and the clues date back to WorldWarII and Unit731:TSUSHOGO, the Chinese Holocaust. They used this Situation to bury Japanese atrocities.
It has been discussed that, similar to the Matrix concept, the gods will offer a REAL “Second Coming of Christ”, while the “fake” Second Coming will come at the end and follow New Testiment scripture and their xtian positioning. I may be that real Second Coming.
What I teach is the god’s true way. It is what is expected of people, and only those who follow this truth will be eligible to ascend into heaven as children in a future life. They offered this event because the masses have just enough time to work on and fix their relationship with the gods and ascend, to move and grow past Planet Earth, before the obligatory xtian “consolation prize” of “1000 years with Jesus on Earth” begins.”

Can I have that again in English please?  I don’t feel weak and I couldn’t really give a toss about modern popular culture.  Or celebrity scandals.  Or anything else you might have imagined me caring about.  Second coming?  Until you can provide proof that Jesus even existed at all (NOT the Bible), let alone divine, I’m going to continue to dismiss all such statements for what they are: UTTER DRIVEL. It’s surprising how “God’s true way” always seems to correspond so neatly with what the people spouting it want to do anyway. You’ve just outed yourself as a mercenary who is only behaving in this manner to gain a reward.   Do you stone your disobedient children?  Would you force a rape victim to marry her rapist because he paid her father compensation?  Following the Bible means actually following what it says without dismissing the parts which are not so palatable to enlightened western society.  If you do not then you are as guilty of playing along with “the changes in Western society in the last 100 years” that you claim to so deplore.  So which is it?  Are you a hypocrite or a liar, M. I-Don’t-Have-The-Stones-to-Leave-A-Real-Name-With-My-Rant?

“The Prince of Darkness, battling the gods over the souls of the Damned.
It is the gods who have created this environment and led people into Damnation with temptation. The god’s positioning proves they work to prevent people’s understanding.
How often is xtian dogma wrong? Expect it is about the Lucifer issue as well.
The fallen god, fighting for justice for the disfavored, banished to Earth as the fallen angel?
I believe much as the Noah’s Flood event, the end of the world will be initiated by revelry among the people. It will be positioned to be sanctioned by the gods and led for “1000 years with Jesus on Earth”.
In light of modern developments this can entail many pleasures:::Medicine “cures” aging, the “manufacture” of incredible beauty via cloning as sex slaves, free (synthetic) cocaine, etc.
Somewhere during the 1000 years the party will start to “die off”, literally. Only those who maintain chaste, pure lifestyles, resisting these temptations, will survive the 1000 years. Condemned to experience another epoch of planet’s history for their ignorant pursuit of xtianity, they will be the candidates used to (re)colonize (the next) Planet Earth, condemned to relive the misery experienced by the peasantry during history due to their failure to ascend into heaven before the Apocalypse.
Never forget:::It is not a house of Jesus.
If this concept of Lucifer is true another role of this individual may be to initiate disfavor and temptation among this new poulation, the proverbial “apple” of this Garden of Eden. A crucial figure in the history of any planet, he begins the process of deterioration and decay that leads civilizations to where Planet Earth remains today.
Which one is it?:
One transitions into the other, allowing the gods to wash their hands of obligation to their Chosen One. My personal “consolation prize”.
And since the gods never committed despite tens of billions in mass media, product development and natural disasters/tragedy they will employ the freedom they positioned into the Situation and CHEAT me out of everything.
For those who would listen I was used to assist people to rapidly increase their understanding of this system. Unfortunate for me, the gods can claim they never intended this, despite being control freaks who guide everything specifically and have the power to force it with AI, and now they are free to fuck my brains out subsequently. Lucky me.”

Seriously?  I’m not going to waste my time ploughing through that load of rubbish.  Just let it be known that I am extremely embarrassed for you.  I really hope you seek some proper help because leaving posts like this on people’s blog comment threads, is NOT healthy behaviour.

“Consistant with “reverse positioning” understand the REAL Second Coming would equate with The Matrix’s Anti-Christ, the fake battle of good and evil which will come at the end.
I have spoken on this issue in years past. Understanding how they use the political encviornment to redefine people’s value system, realize anyone who speaks of the old world and its ways will envoke hatred. So when/if the Anti-Christ comes along speaking of reverting back to what liberalism would consider repressed and immoral it may be the only hope to salvage the god’s favor and keep moving forward rather than begin the 1000 year clock. The fake Second Coming will feed into this political environment.”

I let it go once but, mate, The Matrix is a film.  That makes it fiction.  Though truth be told, if you believe the bible then I am honestly not surprised that you cannot tell fiction from reality.  Again, prove the existence of divinity BEFORE you expect to get the more rationally minded of us debating real or false resurrections or anything else for that matter.

“The gods pimp you all. You think “going along” is going to help you but it only makes your life here on Earth more comfortable, so that is where you will stay:::Prepare for the 1000 year clock.”

All I can do is shake my head at this whole bizarre statement and reiterate my hope that you seek psychiatric help before you hurt yourself or someone else.

Genesis; The Nasty Little Book That Man Wrote.


The book of Genesis is the first, and one of the most hotly debated, books of the Bible.  It opens from where Christians believe God created the universe and everything else stems from this huge and groundless assumption.  The main action of the book is the supposed (and highly unlikely) conversation between God and Abraham and then his descendants. It is not merely Christians who are expected, and claim, to believe this but the rest of us are too and it is still treated as the height of bad manners to disbelieve it but to openly admit our disbelief and challenge their faith in unprovable stories and parables is considered a gross insult.  Tough.  I refuse to be bullied into submission over a set of ideas which places unthinking obedience (Because, let’s face it, religion has little or nothing to do with morality) over considered thought and questions.  We are meant to believe that an all-knowing god needed to test the faith of a single desert dweller over that of entire populations, and comparatively more advanced, societies in China or Rome.

This is but one of the stories meant to describe the meaning of life, the origin of the universe and deserve unreserved respect from believers and non-believers alike.  The psalms regularly speak of God’s creative streak and he is often portrayed as being on a constant campaign of self-defence against questioning.  One example of this is a five chapter long rant in Job (38-42).  Job is not alone in this and it does much to explain the grossly over-done and frequently exhibited persecution complex.  The book of Isaiah (45:9-23) does much in a laboured attempt to answer preempted charges of unfairness and unfaithfulness.  Could it be that those ancient men had anticipated the ungainliness of their fraudulent claims of wisdom and authority?  Did they realise then that they would be called out on their tall tales by those who were not so credulous as to swallow their lies?  What better way to stamp out such unbelief and non-conformity than to make it a sin and inspire fear in/persecute those who don’t accept their authority at face value?  These religions began as a con and as such they continue to be.

“1 LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?[c]

5 You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e]
and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their[g] feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Psalm 8

The anticipated defence often consists in depicting humanity as uncomprehending and incapable of understanding either God or his creation.  The act of keeping the congregation humble and dependant is a foundation stone of this ancient con.  It also centres on the fact that not only are we incapable of understanding this but that we should not even try to because doing so usurps the position of God.  If we had heeded this absurd idea (of power-hungry self-interest of the church) we would still be in the dark ages blaming demons for our ailments and witches for our woes.  The Gospel of John also refers back to Genesis and echoes the assumption that God claims the creation of the universe as his achievement.  This may go a long way to explain the ever so Christian affection for circular ‘reasoning’ and disregard of empirical evidence when defending their own beliefs (John 1:1-5).

“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.” – John 1:1-5

Genesis does not state facts. It states only what was the acute misunderstanding of the world at the time.  It is nought but an ancient creation myth.  The basis of that understanding is known to be drastically flawed because it was limited by the knowledge of the time and should have long ago been disregarded.  The traditions of the bible are nothing unique.  They are derived from older mythologies at best and plagiarised at worst.  While the similarities are both numerous and striking the differences are equally.  The Gods of the Greek (The Romans emulated the Greeks to such an extent that they even adopted the mythology) and Egyptian pantheon were both portrayed and acknowledged as hypocritical, capricious, malevolent, selfish and frivolous.  However much they were worshipped and their believers attempted to appease Ra, Osiris, Ptah, Zeus, Ares, Athena, Artemis and Apollo or Hera (to name but a few) they did so only under duress: the fear that if they did not, all manner of ills would befall them and thus rendering their acts of worship little more than mercenary acts of self-interest.

The Christian mindset of working only for god and to earn ‘his’ love is nothing new but the God of the Bible seems to be immune from the criticism afforded to the afore mentioned deities by the followers of said cults.  Those ancient gods were also often regarded as an example of how not to behave.  The idea of a God’s representative on earth is also one which far pre-dates those stories of the bible.  I have lost count of the times I have heard people claim to follow the ‘ways of Jesus’.  They may as well claim to follow in the ways of Heracles (Hercules is the Roman incarnation) or Prometheus for it would just as little.  There is no proof that God exists so the argument that an ancient Jewish carpenter was his own father (actually God in human form) who was sent to us to be sacrificed in order to atone for the ‘sins’ of all mankind (before and after his lifetime) and impress himself is not only ludicrous but sickening.  There is also no more evidence that Jesus existed than there is of Heracles, Perseus or Ra and if people expect to be taken seriously they need first to start realising that their beliefs are not immune to scrutiny and second, to stop stamping their feet and throwing tantrums whenever a contrary idea is expressed in public.

Neither the quantity of these stories, nor the similarities between them grant them any truth by any stretch of the imagination.  The god of the bible, along with the ancient gods, are no more than characters in very old stories.  Interacting and interfering in human affairs (Prometheus and fire and Pandora’s Box), the Christian god is no different in its attempt to hold humanity in its subordinate state.  The common thread in creation myths differs from Genesis in one very particular manner.  While Genesis goes out of its way to reiterate the peaceful origin of our world, the others depict violent conflicts between deities and titans, petty squabbling among deities, and catastrophic natural disasters.  Also, the relationships between gods and mankind is often unfriendly with humanity created as a race of slaves to God or gods.  Even though the a few relationships may have positive elements, the majority are little more than the systematic bullying of a subordinate (behaviour which would merit an employment tribunal under modern western civil law).

In Genesis the antagonist is alone in his malevolence though, and free to claim all credit for the creation of the universe (Light on day one but no sun until day 4?  So where did the bloody light come from?).  There may be no squabbles between gods with only a single god but there is great animosity between the God of the Bible and his immortal adversary (Formerly an immediate subordinate and once an angel, but weren’t angels also supposedly created to be slaves? The all-powerful wasn’t doing such a great job really) as well as the conflict sanctioned between rival tribes.  In this case the all-powerful seems capable of doing little more than banishing and ineffectively imprisoning his rival though there is not much of a story if the antagonist is too easily defeated.

The Genesis story has less literary content to offer than any title by Dan Brown (and that’s saying something) and reads like a badly written fantasy novel.  The apparently perfect lone deity organises the sun, moon, earth, and stars with the intention of sharing it with his imperfect creations.  Like the gods in older stories this god requires that his creation worship him in return for protection from his own acts of cruel violence (much like a Mafia protection racket) but the book still goes out of its way to explain the innate goodness of the acts of this immortal ‘provider’.  The assumption that every word of this dreadful story is the literal truth is crass beyond belief.  Genesis is not a challenge to the perceived or accepted origins of our universe because we do not know what they are yet.  Anyone who claims to know that answer is either deluded, a liar, or both.  It cannot even be claimed to be an accurate examination of the culture at the time and is proof of nothing more than the people who wrote it had developed to the stage of using a written language (something which the Egyptians had achieved several millennia before hand).  Genesis, and the rest of the bible,  does little more than attempt to arrest human development by discouraging natural curiosity in the provision of a flimsy answer which does not stand up to scrutiny.  It achieves little more than the flattery of human arrogance by granting our short lives some specific significance in some cosmic plan.

 

Sources

William James on Mystical States and Agnosticism


Mystical States

“One may say truly, I think, that personal religious experience has its roots and centre in mystical states of consciousness,” William James

Our tendency to ‘pyschologise’ our experiences may well have grown since the time of William James but I rather think that now we know more about the works of the human mind, we tend to at least try to attach natural explanations before leaping feet first into the realms of the mystic and supernatural.  Ecstatic states that apparently provide sustenance for a human need for personal affirmation should not be merely issued with unquestioned validity.  Believing something that makes you ‘feel good’, or provides consolation or even offers comfort to the bereaved, does not make it accurate or true in any sense.

Childishly clinging to any imagery is a hindrance to meditation as any instructor will tell you.  So why should we be expected to maintain religious imagery for the sake of tradition? We shouldn’t.  These religions offer us nothing and have now reached the point that the followers of such now struggle to justify the existence of said religion.  This is so much so that very few can do more than bluster about the ‘marginalisation’ of Christianity and how they are being persecuted, waffle on about their country’s tradition being rooted in Christianity (despite all evidence to the contrary), and then parrot what they heard on Fox News the night before.  Tradition, by the way, is no reason to continue any practice, it is merely an excuse used to justify the continuation of a dubious habit.

James acknowledged that mystical experience has a lot to do with emotion along with memory and awe so even he admitted that these experiences are affected by the subject’s own cultural knowledge.  He also admitted that the experiences must be filtered through the subject’s conscious scrutiny so as not to attribute it wrongly to mysticism.  Mr Vernon only gives this acknowledgement a passing mention.  James did not however, believe that the correct means of assessing the truth of these mystical experiences was that advocated by who he referred to as the ‘medical materialists’ for whom mysticism had no meaning other than to suggest hysterical and semi-hypnotic states in an intellectually limited and superstition-biased mind.  Indeed, they would have been the ideal people to test the ideas as they had no interest in their truth.

James’ theories are now at odds with modern conventions of psychology and scholars of mystical experience.  He believed it had little to do with time or place but rather emphasised a need for dialogue of the experience and examination of the historical context in order to distinguish between a real experience and a mere imagining.  James’ interest rested in the individual’s experience more than in the communal as he viewed the former as the ‘real and positive’ version.  The shift in perspective between what is real and what is imagined does little more than add to the religious delusion; because one felt small and alone before, they involuntarily invented an event which allayed a negative and uncomfortable emotional state.  This still does not prove that these experiences were in any way mystical.  However much James wished for there to have been truth to the claims of mysticism, it does not grant them that truth and for or those people to have experienced any positive effects from their moments of epiphany, they would have to have had a negative view of their lives beforehand.  Unless we know their state of mind, what they were doing or how they were living prior to their visions, it is impossible to do anything more than take James at his word that the changes were positive.  It is also likely, considering this was in 19th CE America, that James himself had a preconceived and strict idea of what constituted a good lifestyle and whatever did not fit into that mindset, did not qualify as ‘good’.

Even the great mystics do not claim that their good deeds prove the truth of their visions but instead that misdeeds invalidate them. James’s propensity to disregard the influence of prior knowledge or experience leaves him vulnerable to other charges of biased investigation such as side-lining historical context.  James attempted to judge these accounts based on reasonableness and how well it fit within existing and articulated systems of belief and went on to stress that it is the overall consequences for the individual which matter: the quality he thought of as ‘saintliness’.  I agree that the consequences matter but only in the sense that those who experience these episodes should seek help from the psychiatric profession rather than the church.

Agnosticism

Vernon, wrote in his article that there is an agnostic sentiment in James’ writing.  This may be, but only if he was an agnostic with a desire to believe.  A claim of knowledge which is based only on a religious vision can not truly be taken seriously in scholarly circles.  We have already established that James had become convinced that these visions were helpful to mankind regardless of any ill effects and probed the accounts he had collected in an attempt to prove his case.  One of his observations in from his 18th lecture was that mysticism was too private and varied a matter to be able to claim any form of authority of any overall positive effect on mankind as a species.

“Can philosophy stamp a warrant of veracity upon the religious man’s sense of the divine?” William James

But what is religious philosophy and how does it have any bearing here?  James believed very much that it was a secondary consideration to experience because he felt that humans were driven by passion and emotion rather than reason that drove human this area of inquiry.  He deemed philosophy a necessary, but not sufficient, means of exploration and explanation.  He also had quite a scathing view of intellectualism, describing it as a “preference for concepts over reality” and an insidious means of becoming a spectator of life rather than a participant.  In summary, he felt it encouraged speculation for its own sake with mere ‘intellectual bubbles’ as it’s result.  James detected this intellectualism within religious circles in attempts to prove the existence of God as a fact  but decided that these ‘proofs’ were sought by those who felt the need to separate themselves from what they saw as the randomness of the world.

James charged the Cardinal John Henry Newman of being a ‘vexed spirit’ with a ‘disdain for sentiment’ though considering James’ own disdain for reason and rationality in examining what he believed to be mystical encounters, I do not feel this accusation is entirely a fair one.  Newman made a clear distinction between ‘notional assent‘ and ‘real assent‘ and believed that to determine a belief using only philosophy is to give it only notional assent.  The Cardinal believed that this was an inadequate way to think about such things because it only engaged the rational and that real assent required more than reason.  He also stressed that he believed that in order to achieve a real understanding of mysticism the subject must examine all the evidence and experience as a whole – rational, emotional, cultural and observational.  Though each, on its own, are not conclusive proof of anything but added together, he believed, they supported the truth of a powerful belief.  Newman used the an allegory of a cable to symbolise the elements of religious beliefs.  If one strand is broken then the cable remains intact.  But the more strands that break the weaker the cable becomes until it eventually breaks and thus the individual is freed from the yoke of belief.  The tactic employed by the leaders of organised religion is that they aim to keep their congregations attention away from the man behind the curtain (as it were) by focusing on other issues; the supposed ‘persecution and marginalisation’ of Christianity, for instance. Real assent implies that God is a fact rather than a mere hypothesis and requires a complete suspension of disbelief in order to just accept it as a possibility.

belief in God is “an action more subtle and more comprehensive than the mere appreciation of syllogistic logic”, John Henry Newman

In his essay, ‘The Will to Believe‘, James drew upon the tenuous preoccupation with belief which doctrine requires of its adherents. He admits to the absurdity of the idea that a belief in God can simply be willed.  The essay seeks instead to justify individual belief in God even when those individuals have not been coerced into them.  He began by attempting to define religious belief.  Firstly the beliefs must be ‘real’ to count as such and secondly those individuals must consider those beliefs to be real possibilities.  For example, the subject must consider adherence to a religion and a set belief system to be a viable option for themselves.  They also had to affect the subjects’ outlook on life to be considered ‘religious’.  In the same essay James makes reference to Pascal’s wager, the hypothetical argument in favour of a belief in god, which many have taken seriously in the years since.  The wager is, as James saw it, based upon the logic of the gaming table.  James however had failed to see the wager for what it was; based upon very long odds indeed.  Instead James took it to mean that Christianity was a valid option for the French philosopher and mathematician despite the obvious objections to the suggestion that one may even feign belief if the odds favour a positive result for doing so.

instead of being powerless, [it] seems a regular clincherWilliam James

The wager did not work for Pascal any more than it should have worked for James (it didn’t) or for anyone else for that matter.  Pascal may have had a will to believe but that ‘will‘ does not render one capable of submission to religious belief for to do so we non-believers and agnostics would have to consciously and deliberately ignore all of the evidence and education we have accumulated over the course of our lives (and over human history).  The form of objectiveness demonstrated in the wager does not work in the case of religion because religion requires that we voluntarily lay aside our reason, independent thought and rationality, and our will to question ‘authority’ (rendering objective thought impossible) in favour of becoming a form of intellectual slave to ancient superstition.  That does indeed require a certain willingness but it is not one that I, or anyone in my non-believing activist circle, are in possession of.

Sources