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.

What Happens at an Exorcism and Why It Should Worry Us.


“There were only a small number of priests who had any real expertise, and they were getting calls from all over the country.” So many attended the conference, he said – “They must have requests.” Bishop Thomas Paprocki

Bishop Thomas Paprocki - The organiser of this October's Conference on Exocorism 

In October 2010, a Catholic conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland (preceding yet another) attended by 56 US Bishops and 66 Priests.  That Bishops had bothered to attend was indeed a novelty because the annual conference is normally only attended by Priests. What the focus of this conference is certainly surprising considering that it was held in a (theoretically) civilised country.  None the less, these Priests and Bishops find reason to gather every year to discuss exorcism.

While all Catholic priests are permitted by the Vatican to perform these ceremonies, very few American are trained and able to. Though how much training does it take in order to become ‘proficient’ in bullying, manipulating, and terrifying and further brainwashing an already troubled individual into first believing that their troubles are due to a demonic possession and secondly that their lifestyle had allowed the possession to occur in the first place.  The conference was meant to train priests in the ‘art’ of exorcism and was organised by the Bishop Thomas Paprocki who is also the chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance.

Paprocki is of the view that there is an increasing demand for exorcism in the US despite the lack of data on the subject: But when has real evidence had anything to do with what the Catholic church believes or how they decide to act.  Out of the 68 million Catholics in the US, only an estimated 6 to 14 are ‘trained exorcists‘ though the church seems determined to rectify this issue and plunge America further back toward the Dark Ages of Europe and the reign of tyranny and fear exerted by the Inquisition.  One of those exorcists is the Rev Gary Thomas of Saratoga and the subject of The Rite.  (The book by Matt Baglio and forthcoming film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins)

Paprocki’s feeling is seconded by Rev. Thomas.  Exorcism is being requested by parishioners who have family they believe to be in need of this ‘service’ yet there is no mention of any clerical recommendation.  I am sure these family members are well-meaning but the greatest harm is often caused by the best intentions (Thanks to Terry Goodkind for that one.).  The Rev. believes the cause of this demand is an increase in paganism and ‘idolatrous activity’ by Catholics.   This is, of course, garbage and garbage of the sort spouted by the likes of Michael Voris.  The Church feels threatened by its lack (or loss) of privilege in the developed world and is trying to increase their influence by any means necessary.  When you consider that even the president of the National Federation of Priests, Rev. Richard Vega, has not heard of any requests at all.  He speculated that immigrant Catholics, who were probably more familiar with the practice, may be making requests.  He also reported to the Guardian that it is Canon Law requires every diocese have a trained exorcist.  That many do not, he blames on a post Vatican II church.  In 2005 Pope John Paul II wrote to all US Bishops instructing them to train an exorcist.  Rev Thomas was asked when the initial candidate declined and despite his own reservations that it was not what he had ‘signed up for’, he took the course while in Rome on a sabbatical.

“Some demons are very strong,” he said. “So it needs repeated prayer and fasting and penance.” People breaking up relationships don’t always make a clean break. “The relationship didn’t develop overnight and is not broken overnight.”Paprocki

An exorcism requires discernment to determine whether or not the person ‘brought in’ is really in need of one or if their family just thinks they are.  The ritual is not just performed on demand (apparently) but it seems a rather convenient idea that a person may not realise they are possessed and may be subjected to this treatment against their will by the very people with a vested interest in the belief in the practice.  The initial discernment is carried out by team including a physician, a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist who (should all know better) are all practising Catholics.  Rev. Thomas claims that only five out of one hundred requests (again gave no real indication of the number of requests) result in an exorcism and that the exorcist is an ‘ultimate sceptic‘ (doubtful) based only on the idea that they do not just assume that all those who ask for the ritual need one.  This is NOT a sceptical outlook because they STILL believe in demonic possession despite the lack of evidence in favour of it and they STILL practice an outdated, unnecessary and harmful (extreme stress) practice.

“The person who is possessed may not even realise it. It’s more frequent that someone would bring a person in,”Paprocki.

The bishop Paprocki strongly believes in the need for exorcism and tried to explain possession it in terms of a relationship between a human and a demon having turned sour.  He states that it may have gone bad due to the human having realised their error.  This idea is highly speculative and even dubious, when accuracy is brought into question.  It is absurd, obtuse and fatuous to contrast an imagined demonic possession (based entirely on superstition and ill-conceived dogma) to real human relationships.  Paprocki is a fool to believe this rubbish and a dangerous fool to be promoting the practice and spreading his belief.  The Rev. Thomas says that he has performed 40 exorcisms over five years on five people.  Two gave up the ‘project’ due to time constraints.

When asked what was involved after the discernment, Thomas told The Guardian that it consists of a set of prayers meant to break up the relationship between the possessed and the demon (so a fake problem is solved with a fake cure.  It sounds about right for the church)  in order to force the demon out.  Even Thomas won’t call the work rewarding, and is reluctant to even go so far as to call it meaningful, he calls the work arduous and time-consuming with little chance of success.  Never thought that it’s because none of it is real and you have based at least the last 15 years on lies and half-truths, good Reverend?

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The demand for exorcism – as seen in Hollywood films such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose – is growing in the US. Photograph: ScreenGem/Everett / Rex Features

Both the Bishop and the priest have found themselves having to reassure people regarding the nature and risks of possession; correcting mythology with more mythology to the people who have already been misled into believing Christianity at all.

“Possession is not an involuntary thing. It’s not contagious. The person themselves has to open the door,” Paprocki said. To those who come to Thomas asking, “‘How do I protect myself from being inhabited by a demon?’ I say if you have a prayer life, if you have a sacrament life, if you have a faith life – you have nothing to fear.”

This is assuming that those brought in (or anyone) believe in either demons or possession.  The bishop believes that demons must be invited but are always looking for a way in.  80% of those brought to the Bishop have been sexually abused by a family member or ‘someone else’  and this abuse, the Bishop says, leaves the victim vulnerable to the possession of demons.  It just emphasises the church’s tendency to externalise blame, hold the victim responsible for the actions of others, and typical of this barbaric and outdated religion of ridiculous superstition.

Exorcisms which have made the news are those that have ended in tragedy but were dismissed by the Bishop as having been carried out by untrained amateurs who resorted to beatings drownings and asphyxiation in order to ‘drive the demon out’.  Forget the need for training and more of these pointless rituals,  there is a need for a worldwide ban on the practice.  We only hear about the handful that are even reported but how many tragedies go unmentioned?  How many of these people are permanently damaged or injured by this practice?  We don’t hear about them for the same reason we didn’t hear of the widespread (and current) practice of protecting paedophiles for so long: the church do not regard themselves as subject to the man-made laws or morals that contradict their own idiotic philosophy.  It is in the interest of public safety that the practice is halted entirely rather than escalated.  When you consider that there are some who regard the ritual to be dangerous to the exorcist but the danger was also dismissed by the Bishop (who has never performed one) who put the deaths down to the ignorance of the untrained.  He added that the ‘unofficial’ exorcism were merely ‘ineffective’ and that “Jesus is more powerful than the Devil”.  Not the first to close their eyes and mind to reality but his influence on this subject makes him dangerous.

The Bishop’s dismissal make little impact on the Reverend who believes that the danger to exorcists is very real.  They can be attacked emotionally, physically and psychological but added that he had never experienced a physical attack (I wonder why? duh) but his celibacy is often attacked.  Often? 8 a year for 5 years is often?  Heaven for bid he ever quit the church and get a real church: the shock would probably induce a stroke.  Paprocki and Thomas both refer to demons and devils in the plural and the singular but the Bishop seems proud (isn’t pride a sin?) to admit this as if he was showing off some expertise on the matter.

“I use those interchangeably,” Paprocki said. “Sometimes a person can be possessed by more than one devil.”

According to these paranoid papists, a demon is a spiritual being who has rejected God and is being punished eternally for that ‘crime’ and the trick to a successful ritual is to learn the demon/devil’s real name while remaining aware that the Devil is the Prince of lies.  That simple huh?  The knowledge of this grants the exorcist power over the demon and the ability to banish it.  They have both noted that this cannot be done in one session so one wonders how much the church charges for their time.  It also begs the question of why the exorcist would believe a word spoken by/through the possessed?  The rarity of exorcism is, claims Paprocki, due to the rarity of real possession (no shit, Sherlock moment?).  The Bishop went on to say that the Devil’s ‘real’ game is temptation (aside from his earlier claim that demons are always looking for a way in) so it is a mistake to assume that the only danger lies in possession.  The devil is no more real than God, Jesus or any other mythology for that matter and it is foolish to fear mere characters in stories.

Polish exorcists gather in Warsaw

The national congress comes as part of a policy by Poland’s Catholic Church to lift the veil on what was once a secretive practice Photo: CORBIS

Clearly these men (and those who follow his promotion of exorcism) are deranged and should be removed from positions where they can influence the ideas and actions of others (and possibly placed in psychiatric institutions?) so they can do no further harm.  Regardless of the improbability of their claims and ideas, people DO listen to these men and change their minds according to what their local clergy tell them to think so these insane and parasitical ideas of demons, devils and possession are being spread and have more than merely the potential to cause very real and lasting (if not permanent) harm.

Sources

 

 






Secularism Is the Way Forward.


Over the years the meaning of the word Secularism has become confused and misunderstood. As well as changing its meaning, and being open to interpretation in different ways, the word has also been deliberately misrepresented by some religious interests who fear the influence of secularism on privileges that they have enjoyed for centuries and taken for granted.  Certain religious organisations (and some humanists) have pleaded for something variously called healthy secularism or state neutrality, that appears to be meant to justify all of them getting handouts from the state for the mere merit of existing at all. They reject as ‘radical secularism’ any attempt to get them to pay their own way.

Richard Gilyead, letter to The Guardian:
“Tony Blair and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor deliberately conflate secularism with atheism. Atheism is lack of belief in gods. Secularism is a belief in equality in politics, education and law, regardless of religious belief. So when they refer to militant secularism and aggressive secularism, respectively, then they are implying that such equality of treatment is a bad thing.

Firstly, to clerics who try to conflate secularism with atheism, the two are not the same thing.  Atheism is the lack of belief in god or gods.  Secularism means quite literally the separation of church and state.  It does not mean to forbid or marginalise religious beliefs, only that it protects people who do not share those beliefs from having those ‘moral’ codes and rules forced upon them.  The concern of secularism is to protect the rights of the individual against the imposition of a religious organisation within society so that they are dealt with on an equal basis.

National Secular Society

  • The National Secular Society affirms that this life is the only one of which we have any knowledge and human effort should be directed wholly towards its improvement. It asserts that supernaturalism is based upon ignorance and assails it as the historic enemy of progress.
  • They affirm that progress is possible only on the basis of equal freedom of speech and publication; that the free criticism of institutions and ideas is essential to a civilised state.
  • Affirming that morality is social in origin and application, the National Secular Society aims to promote the happiness and well-being of humanity.
  • They demand the complete separation of Church and State and the abolition of all privileges granted to religious organisations.
  • It seeks to spread education, to promote the friendship of all people as a means of advancing universal peace to further common cultural interests and to develop the freedom and dignity of humanity.

The word secularism was coined by the British writer George Holyoake in 1846.  George Holyoake (1817-1906) was the last person in England to be imprisoned in 1842 for being an atheist (The law against blasphemy was strict in Victorian Britain.). He was jailed for 6 months for a speech which included the line:

“For myself, I flee the Bible as a viper, and revolt at the touch of a Christian.”

The 19th century saw a serious campaign against the Churches by the secularist movement.  A powerful, but rather unexpected attack on Christianity came from a group of people, including the writer George Eliot, who thought that Christianity was immoral. According to the doctrine of original sin, God was prepared to punish people for a wrong that was not their fault, and the evil that He created in them, just because they were human beings. What sort of God was it, they wondered, who then decided to let us off this unfair punishment because he had punished his son instead of us?

“I would sooner perish for ever than stoop down before a Being who may have power to crush me, but whom my heart forbids me to reverence.” – James Froude, 1849

Their particular target was the state church, the Church of England, which was highly privileged (and still is).  The Church was founded in 1534 by King Henry VIII when England separated from Rome.  The Church of England traces its roots back to the early church, but it’s specifically Anglican identity and its links to the State date back to the Reformation.

  • Until 1828 no-one could hold a public office without signing up to the beliefs of the Church.
  • Until 1836 only Church of England ministers could conduct marriages.
  • Until 1871 only members of the Church of England could teach at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. (Both of which have been bogged down by the intrusion of monarchy with Henry VIII, and church interference for centuries.  It was not until Prince Albert was elected Chancellor of Cambridge, that the University began to focus on more practical subjects.)

The Church of England still has a law-making role in Britain. Twenty-six bishops (including the two Archbishops) sit UNELECTED in the House of Lords and are known as the Lords Spiritual. They are thought (but only by believers and those who believe in belief) to bring a religious ethos to the secular process of law. However, in an increasingly multi-cultural society, questions are being asked as to whether that role needs to be specifically fulfilled by Church of England Bishops. Future reform of the House of Lords could see the Lords Spiritual made up of a variety of Christian denominations and other faiths to reflect the religious make-up of Britain.  What about non-believers and Atheists?  Come on people, this is the 21st CE!!!

Most histories of atheism choose the Greek and Roman philosophers Epicurus, Democritus, and Lucretius as the first atheist writers. While these writers certainly changed the idea of God, they didn’t entirely deny that gods could exist.  In 1877 Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were prosecuted for publishing a book containing birth control information, The Fruits of Philosophy by the American doctor, Charles Knowlton. In the twentieth century the NSS campaigned against the BBC’s excessive use of religion and for disestablishment and the abolition of religious education.

The French Republic has always recognised individuals, rather than groups: a French citizen owes allegiance to the nation, and has no officially sanctioned ethnic or religious identity. This view of citizenship is fundamentally non-discriminatory and inclusive.

“Secularists oppose religion or the religious being afforded privileges, which – put another way – means others are disadvantaged. [Religious secularists] don’t think that belief is a reason for [their own] special treatment.” BBC Online – Secularism


Charles Bradlaugh

Bradlaugh (1833-1891) was one of the most prominent of the Victorian atheists. He edited the National Reformer, which itself was prosecuted for blasphemy, and in 1866 was one of the founders of the National Secular Society.  He championed unpopular causes like birth control, republicanism, atheism, reform, peace and anti-imperialism. His views placed him in conflict with powerful interests, institutions and people, but most of his arguments have since been vindicated.

Bradlaugh was elected to Parliament in 1880, but was not allowed to take his seat because he would not swear a religious oath but wanted to affirm. He was re-elected several times over five years, but did not take his seat until 1886.  Between 1880 and 1886 Bradlaugh fought for the right of non-believers to sit in the House of Commons. His act of 1888 established the legal right to affirm a Parliamentary oath rather than swear on a Bible. When he eventually took his seat he became Britain’s first openly atheist member of Parliament.

 

Cambridge University

to the Institute of Continuing Education

Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest universities.  The University has always had strong ties with the church; in 1086 the town was an important trading post with substantial residential property and a successful commercial economy.  Since before 1112, cannons in the church of St Giles and the convent of St Radegund was completed in 1135 but the site later became Jesus College.  Two hospitals existed in Cambridge.  One was specifically for the treatment of lepers and the other was for paupers.  The latter was taken over to become St John’s college.

St John's College. Bridge of Sighs

St John's College. Bridge of Sighs

In 1209 scholars fleeing Oxford took refuge in Cambridge and eventually settled.  Henry III, in 1213, took those students under his protection from the townsfolk who were known to over charge them for food and board but also decreed that only students under the tuition of a recognised master were permitted to stay in the town due to a spate of public disturbances. By 1226 they were numerous enough to have formed an organisation, represented by a Chancellor, and have devised official courses of study. The medieval University was even more established. Ceremonies and faculties were overseen by Bedells (pronounced bee-dell) while the treasures and books were attended by a Chaplain.  By the 16 CE, a registrar was needed to administer matriculations, admissions and the decisions of the Masters, and an Official Orator wrote ceremonial letters and addresses.  Most of these offices are now purely ceremonial and no longer hold any official authority.

King's College Chapel.  View from the Backs

King's College Chapel, Cambridge. View from the Backs

Most of the places held at Cambridge were held by either clerks or clergymen in some form of holy orders and expecting to enter careers in the Church or Civil service.  In order to obtain the support they needed during their years of study, students were required to look to the church but were first subject to the scrutiny of the local ecclesiastic authority. Before the end of the 15th CE they had managed to free themselves from this and were independent of authority with the exception of the pope.   The Chancellor was then elevated to the position of an ecclesiastical judge with jurisdiction over all cases involving discipline and proving the wills of both students and masters alike.  He also provided a secular court which would convene to hear civil and criminal cases with the exception of major crimes.

Oliver Cromwell

The crown aided the independence of the university by granting it the power to prosecute market profiteers; a move which continued to be a source of contention until the 19th century.  In 1381 there was a series of attacks on the university and it’s residents (in a largely ‘Christian’ society no less). Cambridge was given the right to prosecute those caught falsifying weights and measures, endangering public health by tampering with food and drink, interruption the supply of fresh water and those wilfully introducing infection in times of plague. Even now the University retains rights over licensing and policing.

Buildings, Lives and Legacies. A Celebration of Cambridge University

In the 16th CE Henry VIII founded Trinity College by merging the houses, King’s Hall and Michael House. Goville Hall was enlarged; Emmanuel absorbed the Dominican site; Sidney Sussex of the Franciscans and Magdalene absorbed the Benedictine house known as Buckingham College. All of these were concerned with training new ecclesiastic priests and clerics in the new National Church.   In 1536, the King suppressed the faculty of Canon Law and forbade scholastic philosophy.  This laid the path for Mathematics, Latin studies and Biblical Studies, and an education which was out of the reach to most of the population.    The statutes of 1570 ensured the continuation of the university’s concentration on churning out future leaders (The same people who directly benefited from the power and influence of having THEIR religion be the central authority of everyone’s life so they could both rule the people and live off their efforts.) of the Church of England.  Henry VIII endowed the university with five professorships; Divinity, Hebrew, Greek, Physic (purgative medicine; stimulates evacuation of the bowels) & civil law. Royal influence and pressure the Privy (private) Council continued into the 18th CE.

A sunset of King's College

The Church controlled university was given a license to print and publish works of which it IT approved in 1534 but it was 50 years until this right became fully exercised.  In the 1690s allowed the University, in conjunction with Oxford, to exploit their monopoly on Bible printing as well as producing the printed works required for its courses.  Despite the provision for natural sciences and arts, from the late 17th century, mathematics came to dominate studies in Cambridge, and eventually ‘the Tripos’ came to mean the examination in mathematics.  The University Library had expanded with the rest of the University during the later seventeenth century, and after the gift by George I of the manuscripts and books of Bishop John Moore, it outgrew its original quarters in the Old Schools.

Trinity College, main gate

Trinity College, main gate

Despite these developments, there was in the first half of the nineteenth century a continued call for change and reform in the University, which in part reflected the political movements of the country as a whole. The election as Chancellor of Prince Albert the Prince Consort in 1847 is an indication of the strength of the movement for reform, and in 1850 a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the two ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  The Commission’s report resulted in the promulgation of new Statutes for Cambridge in the Cambridge University Act of 1856. These Statutes have been much revised since their first appearance, but the form of government which they embodied has remained as a framework. The ultimate authority in the University was at first the Senate, the whole body of graduates, together with the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and doctors.

Sir Isaac Newton

The natural sciences and moral sciences (now philosophical) Triposes were approved as early as 1851, and before 1900 Triposes in law, history, theology, Indian languages, Semitic (later oriental) languages, medieval and modern (European) languages, and mechanical sciences (later engineering) were all established. To develop these new branches of learning a number of new or remodelled professorships were established by the University and by private benefactors, the earliest being the Disney Professorship of archaeology in 1851.

Sidney Sussex College. View from Sidney Street

Sidney Sussex College. View from Sidney Street

‘Extension lectures’ in provincial centres were an important feature of University activities in the late nineteenth century. They were often associated with attempts to provide professional teaching and examinations for girls through the local examinations for schools provided by the University in conjunction with Oxford.  Training courses for male graduate teachers began in Cambridge at much the same time, but perhaps the most far-reaching effect of the movement was the establishment at Cambridge of two Colleges for women students (Girton in 1869 and Newnham in 1872). From the first, these Colleges aimed to prepare their students for the Tripos, and the first women were in fact examined in 1882. Attempts to make women full members of the University were repeatedly defeated until 1947.

St John's College. New library, 1994

St John's College. New library, 1994

In the First World War (1914-19), 13,878 members of the University served and 2,470 were killed. Teaching, and the fees it earned, came almost to a stop and severe financial difficulties followed. As a consequence the University first received systematic state support in 1919, conditional upon a further inquiry into its resources and organisation, and a Royal Commission appointed in 1920 recommended that the University (but not the Colleges) should receive an annual grant, and should be reorganised so as to take over responsibility for lectures and practical teaching. The Colleges retained control of individual teaching of their students and this division of responsibility continues today.

 

Oxford University


From its early days, Oxford was a centre for lively controversy, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes.  The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380’s AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian and against the explicit instructions from Rome, not to.  In the 1490’s another Oxford professor, and the personal physician to King Henry the 7th and 8thThomas Linacre, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary, “Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel… or we are not Christians.”.  In 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek and translating it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could actually understand (but still couldn’t read), that within six months there were 20,000 people packed in the church and at least that many outside trying to get in!  The 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus further focused attention on just how corrupt and inaccurate the Latin Vulgate had become, and how important it was to go back and use the original Greek (New Testament) and original Hebrew (Old Testament) languages to maintain accuracy.  No sympathy for this “illegal activity” (Any translation from Latin) was to be found from Rome… even as the words of Pope Leo X‘s declaration that “the fable of Christ was quite profitable to him” continued through the years to infuriate the people of God.

In the 13th century, rioting between town and gown (townspeople and students) hastened the establishment of primitive halls of residence. These were succeeded by the first of Oxford’s colleges, which began as medieval ‘halls of residence’ or endowed houses under the supervision of a Master. University, Balliol and Merton Colleges, which were established between 1249 and 1264, are the oldest.  Less than a century later, Oxford had achieved eminence above every other seat of learning, and won the praises of popes, kings and sages by virtue of its antiquity, curriculum, doctrine and privileges. In 1355, Edward III paid tribute to the University for its invaluable contribution to learning; he also commented on the services rendered to the state by distinguished Oxford graduates.

In 1530, Henry VIII forced the University to accept his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and during the Reformation in the 16th century, the Anglican churchmen Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were tried for heresy and burnt at the stake in Oxford.  The University was Royalist in the Civil War, and Charles I held a counter-Parliament in Convocation House, and in the late 17th century, the Oxford philosopher John Locke, suspected of treason, was forced to flee the country.  The University assumed a leading role in the Victorian era, especially in religious controversy. From 1833 onwards The Oxford Movement sought to revitalise the Catholic aspects of the Anglican Church and in 1860 the new University Museum was the scene of a famous debate between Thomas Huxley, champion of evolution, and Bishop Wilberforce.

From 1878, academic halls were established for women and they were admitted to full membership of the University in 1920. Five all-male colleges first admitted women in 1974 and, since then, all colleges have changed their statutes to admit both women and men. During the 20th and early 21st centuries, Oxford added to its humanistic core a major new (remind me again when Darwin published Origin of Species? Oh yes, 1861 so hardly a ‘new’ science.) research capacity in the natural and applied sciences, including medicine. In so doing, it has enhanced and strengthened its traditional role as an international focus for learning and a forum for intellectual debate.

Conclusion.

The less influence and authority granted to the church over matters of higher education and laws concerning blasphemy and civil rights, the further forward we have managed to progress both in science and society. No longer are ordinary people socially expected to trot along to Sunday services to nod and agree with every word a speaker bellows at them in a language they cannot understand, let alone read for themselves.  The time that the church has had authority over us is long past expired.  It is not surprising that they are unhappy about it, when you consider the grandeur and prominence which their church given (NOT God-given)and self-assumed authority magically entitled them too.  Due to the heavy mental shackles and religious bullying hampering our progress as a species, it has taken us centuries just to get where we are today and we have had to fight every step of the way against walls of superstitions dogma and greedy power grasping.

As education was made available and eventually free and compulsory to the masses, and unhindered scientific research has provided us with solid and testable answers, religion has had to work harder and harder to not only to explain their nonsensical mythology, but to justify their artificially exalted social positions.  The time has come to look the pushy believers and the church squarely in eye and tell them very firmly that we do NOT recognise their authority over us and will no longer tolerate their bullying and public tantrums over their rightfully waning authority.

 

Sources.

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