left biblioblography: January 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

MOSES AND ANKHENATON - A BOOK REVIEW

It's been a while. Sorry.

I've been trying to re-read the book, Moses and Akhenaten: The Secret History of Egypt at the Time of the Exodus, by Ahmed Osman. For those of you unfamiliar with this gentleman, the answers.com entry says this:

"He has identified the Semitic-born Egyptian official Joseph with the Egyptian official Yuya, and asserted the identification of Hebrew liberator Moses with the Egyptian monotheist pharaoh Akhenaten. Ahmed Osman has even claimed that Moses and Akhenaten were the same person, supporting his belief by interpreting aspects of biblical and Egyptian history. Apart from the most obvious alleged correlation that Atenism can be considered monotheistic and related to Judaism, there are alleged to be others, including a ban on idol worship and the similarity of the name Aten to the Hebrew Adon, or "Lord". This would mesh with Osman's other claim that Akhenaten's maternal grandfather Yuya was the same person as the Biblical Joseph."

I've been slogging through this book, and I find loads of problems with it. For one thing, it's pretty much a fact that the Exodus didn't occur at all (the old 'absence of evidence doesn't mean that the evidence is absent' headache: it just ain't there). Not to mention that Josephus Flauvius tells an account of the Hyksos (Osman mentions this, and claims it incorrect in his book, Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt), who by all accounts, were anything but slaves - rather, they ran the joint for approximately a century, and got their asses kicked out. Osman also tends to cite the Koran as an historical source (that it might be - but only in concurrent times, certainly not a valid source for something centuries earlier. The Koran cribbed off of the Tanakh and Christian writings in this regard: that's common knowledge). So his book(s) reflect an enormous religious bias.

Another perspective, is that he considers the writings of Moses to actually be authored by the personage, when in fact a huge portion of these are by all means pseudepigrapha.

This is an extension on Freud's Moses and Monotheism, in which Sigmund stipulated that Moses and Akhenaten were connected (related or perhaps the latter had an influence upon the former).

For those of you unfamiliar with the Akhenaten backstory, Ankhenaton (alternately known as Ikhnaton, or Amenhotep IV) was an 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, who began the first monotheistic religion the world had ever seen, and became somewhat...fanatical about instituting it (what is it with these guys? Why are the polytheists more easy-going?) to the point where he began defacing temples and idols. This was dimly viewed by the populace and priesthood. After his...de-Pharoahment, efforts were made to wipe his name and his reign from the history records.

Turbulent times make for difficult re-construction of records (especially in lieu of the expunging of Ikhnaton's existence). It is especially difficult for most Egyptologists in regards to this time period. So (as I understand it) there's more room for guesswork. In pops Osman.

Is it possible that Moses was influenced by Akhenaten? Certainly. Did Moses even exist? Quite uncertain. Could there have been a specific Egyptian influence on the Israelites? Of course there was. How much, is hard to tell. Could Yuya be the biblical Joseph? That one is not so preposterous.

From here:

"More recently, Ahmed Osman has claimed that that Moses and Akhenaten were the same individual. While these speculative views have gained acceptance in some quarters (e.g. Laurence Gardner, Bloodline of the Holy Grail, Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark; Gary Greenberg, The Moses Mystery: The African Origins of the Jewish People), most mainstream Egyptologists do not take them seriously, pointing out that there are direct connections between early Judaism and other Semitic religious traditions, and that two of the three principal Judaic terms for God, Yahweh and Elohim, have no connection to Aten . Additionally, Akhenaten appears in history almost two-centuries before the first archaeological and written evidence for Judaism and Israelite culture is found in the Levant. Furthermore abundant visual imagery was central to Atenism, which celebrated the natural world, while such imagery is not a feature of Israelite culture. [portion truncated] Some Egyptologists, however, give him a Mitannian origin. It is widely accepted that there are strong similarities between Akhenaten's Great Hymn to the Aten and the Biblical Psalm 104, though whether this implies a direct influence or a common literary convention remains in dispute."

Mr. Osman's site can be found here, for the interested reader.

Oh, and did I mention that there's a movie in the making?

Nutshelling: it's an interesting read, no doubt. Osman takes after Hemingway in one respect: he lists his evidence in short, declarative sentences. But it's a book for historians. I can only read so much about shards of pottery and different mummification techniques (and my grasp of ancient Egyptian politics is minimal at best) before I start nodding off. If you're a big fan of Egyptology (I like it, but it's not a huge hobby of mine), then this is an interesting book to have on your bookshelf. But by no means would I swear by it. More than a few grains of salt, I might add.

Or, you could just wait for the movie. But I'm willing to bet that it won't resemble the book outside of a few characters mentioned in it. Probably Akhenaten will be a James Bond type, and Nefertiti will be played (one can only hope!) by Halle Berry.

Till the next post, then.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

PROFILES IN ATHEISM - PROTAGORAS

And now, the latest installment in Profile In Atheism - Protagoras.

"Protagoras (Greek: Πρωταγόρας) (c. 481–c. 411 BC) was a pre-Socratic philosopher and is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato. In his dialogue Protagoras, Plato credits him with having invented the role of the professional sophist or teacher of virtue.

Protagoras was born in Abdera, Thrace, in Ancient Greece. He was famous as a teacher who addressed subjects connected to virtue and political life. He was distinguished from other educators who offered specific, practical training in rhetoric and public speaking by his pioneering attempts to formulate a reasoned understanding, on a very general level, of a wide range of human phenomena (for example, language and education). He also seems to have had an interest in orthoepeia, or the correct use of words (a topic more strongly associated with his fellow-sophist Prodicus).

His most famous saying is: "Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not" (80B1 DK).[1] Like many fragments of the Presocratics, this phrase has been passed down to us without any context, and its meaning is open to interpretation. Plato ascribes relativism to Protagoras, and uses his predecessor's teachings as a foil for his own commitment to objective and transcendent realities and values.

Protagoras was also a famous proponent of agnosticism. In his lost essay, On the Gods, he wrote: "Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not or of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life" (80B4 DK).

Other lost works of Protagoras include On the Art of Disputation, On the Original State of Things, and On Truth. The Protagoras crater on the Moon was named in his honor.

Protagoras and the scientific method

Even though Protagoras was a contemporary of Socrates, the philosopher of Abdera is considered a presocratic thinker. He followed the Ionian tradition that distinguishes the School of Abdera. The distinctive note of this tradition is criticism, a systematic discussion that can be identified as "presocratic dialectic", an alternative to the Aristotelian demonstrative method which, according to Karl Popper, has the fault of being dogmatic. The main contribution of Protagoras was perhaps his method of finding a better argument by discarding the less viable one. This is known as "Antilogies", and consists of two premises; the first is "Before any uncertainty two opposite theses can validly be confronted", the second is its complement: the need to "strengthen the weaker argument".

Protagoras knew that the less appealing argument could hide the best answer, which is why he stated that it was constantly necessary to strengthen the weakest argument. Having been born before Socrates himself, this progressive viewpoint in the development of consensual truth could conceivably have contributed to the progressive styles of many of the other great minds which followed him."

Much of his work has been lost. Note also, that he was of the school of Sophists, back when the word wasn't a pejorative. Protagoras was one of the forerunners of pragmatism.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

CHUCK NORRIS HAS BECOME A RIGHT WING WINGNUT

I've been perusing Worldnutdaily, reading these columns by Chuck Norris.

The man's entitled to his opinion, as am I. Thus far, am thoroughly unimpressed by his lack of knowledge in matters American.

Here is a column, dated November 2006, in which he regurgitates some of the more stale canards of the Religious Right.

"Don't Speak About Religion And Politics?

"Over the past couple of years there has been much debate over the civil display of religious inscriptions, like the Ten Commandments (also called the Decalogue).

"I was shocked to read this past week Bob Unruh's exclusives on WND about how the U.S. Supreme Court is even now silencing the truths about the Commandments in its own building.

"People often say to stay clear of discussing religion and politics. True patriots don't do that. That is why I will address both in this article.

"Revolutionary Thought about the Decalogue

"I've learned some things recently about the Ten Commandments and the foundations of our country, excellently documented by David Barton and Wall Builders"

David Barton? The compiler of bogus 'quotes' by the founders? Barton's a lying hack, and I CAN prove that. However, Barton's pandering to the lowest common denominator: anyone who'll listen.

"Historians dismiss Barton's work, with Derek Davis, director of the JM Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, saying "He's not a trained historian. He can be very convincing to an uninitiated audience. He's intelligent. He's well-spoken. But a lot of what he presents is a distortion of the truth." [8] But Barton is widely respected among the Religious Right, with Sen. Sam Brownback praising Barton’s work for providing "the philosophical underpinning for a lot of the Republican effort in the country today -- bringing God back into the public square.” [9]"

I'll skip down a few paragraphs:

"The fact is our Founding Fathers introduced the tenets of the Ten Commandments not only into their families but into law, to promote civility and morality for everyone."

Oy vey! Not only is this incorrect, it shows a distinct lack of knowledge as to the Decalogue as opposed to the Septalogue.

First off, the Decalogue was intended for Jews only. It's the Septalogue (the Noahide laws for gentiles) that apply to non-Jews.

Secondly, our laws are by no means founded on the Decalogue. Witness:

"In truth, the alliance between Church and State in England has ever made their judges accomplices in the frauds of the clergy; and even bolder than they are. For instead of being contented with these four surreptitious chapters of Exodus, they have taken the whole leap, and declared at once that the whole Bible and Testament in a lump, make a part of the common law; ante 873: the first judicial declaration of which was by this same Sir Matthew Hale. And thus they incorporate into the English code laws made for the Jews alone, and the precepts of the gospel, intended by their benevolent author as obligatory only in foro concientiæ; and they arm the whole with the coercions of municipal law. In doing this, too, they have not even used the Connecticut caution of declaring, as is done in their blue laws, that the laws of God shall be the laws of their land, except where their own contradict them; but they swallow the yea and nay together. Finally, in answer to Fortescue Aland's question why the ten commandments should not now be a part of the common law of England? we may say they are not because they never were made so by legislative authority, the document which has imposed that doubt on him being a manifest forgery." - Thomas Jefferson.

I will skip over to something that seems to be another staple in the lies of the Religious Right:

"In the U.S. House of Representatives, Moses is the only one of twenty-three law givers facing with a full-frontal view, still staring down on the proceedings."

Mr. Norris doesn't seem to have ever been there. Neither have I. But, as shown here, Moses' prominence is not quite all that prominent (this is the Library of Congress, by the way):

"Above the marble columns surrounding the room are eight statues symbolizing fields of knowledge along with appropriate inscriptions. Sixteen bronze statues along the balustrade represent men known for their accomplishments in those fields: philosophy, Plato and Sir Francis Bacon; art, Michelangelo and Ludwig von Beethoven; history, Herodotus and Edward Gibbon; Commerce, Columbus and Robert Fulton; religion, St. Paul and Moses; science, Sir Isaac Newton and Joseph Henry; law, Solon and James Kent; poetry, William Shakespeare and Homer."

It's the House of Representatives' chamber that bears what are known as bas-reliefs, in which Moses is seated next to Hammurabi.

So Norris goes on a tirade about this nonsense:

"Friends, I am a patriot and an optimist at heart. I must admit, however, that recent attempts these past few years to suppress the truths about our country's heritage are raising even my blood pressure. "

Hey, sport, I'm a patriot too. But this monochromatic viewpoint doesn't work: it never really has. All of the Founders were religious, to some degree, including the Big Three: Jefferson, Franklin, Paine. Deists all. Did religion have some play in the founding of this country? Sure it did. But this sort of approach in the 21st century has all the earmarks of brownshirts.

"I believe the voices of our Fathers echo down through the generations in hope of helping us remedy the rampant degradation in our nation. "

Aye caramba! God at gunpoint, is what I get from this. "Behave the way we tell you to!" Let's never mind that just about every major society (including those who were by and large untouched by your religion) has implemented these rules: they're just sense, is all. No 'hand from on high' needed.

"I, as with many of you, still believe we can remain a great country, but that will only be accomplished by rising up new generations of decent, law-abiding, people-loving, and God-fearing citizens. "

Can you say 'Free will', boys and girls? And those of us who don't believe in gawd?

"And how can we create such a society? "

Translation: we're screwed.

"I believe our Founding Fathers had the answer: by not being afraid to establish some common absolutes, a code of conduct, like the Ten Commandments. "

Consider yourself corrected, Mr. Norris. Our laws were built on English common law, which was in effect in the 7th century in England, prior to the coming of Christianity.

What you're demanding, as I see it, is extra privileges. Standard fare for the hyperreligious.

You don't get those. Neither do I. Why? Because we're equals. In the eyes of the Law. I don't recognize your book, or your deity. I will not take dictation from a crowd of zombie worshippers: I shall not have your set of rules forced down my throat. I will certainly not appreciate your side's efforts at revisionism. Because that's what it is, pure and simple.

So I advise you get off your high horse, Mr. Norris. This country isn't just for Christians. This isn't your country: it isn't my country either. It's our country, and it's founded on equal liberties for all, minority as well as majority.

Get over it.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

KUNG WOO - FALUN GONG IS ANOTHER CULT

It's no secret: I'm a Tai Chi practitioner (player is actually the proper word). What most don't know, is that Tai Chi Chuan is a form of Chi Kung (Qi Qong), more properly known as Nei Jin. This is powerful stuff: it works, and evidence is mounting all the time in favor of it.

It (Tai Chi as well as Qiqong) is often confused with Falun Gong - which the latter borrows heavily from Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist principles. Let's take a quick peek inside (from the link provided):

"Also known as Falun Dafa, Falun Gong means Law of the Wheel Breathing Exercise. Its aim is to purify the mind and body and improve moral character through exercises, meditation and study. Li Hongzhi, also known as "The Master" or "Master Li", introduced Falun Gong to Beijing in 1992. His teachings are contained in the books, Falun Gong and Zhuan Falun (Turning the Law Wheel), which are available in a variety of languages. The exercises of Falun Gong have been described as relaxing and energizing, and many practitioners of Falun Gong perform them as a group, outside. Falun Gong is practiced all over the world and Li Hongzhi has claimed to have a following of over 100 million people."

Like most cults, it appears relatively harmless at first glance. However, the Chinese government is thoroughly against it.

"In 1999, the Chinese government initiated a campaign against spiritual and religious groups, including Falun Gong practitioners. On April 25, 1999, approximately 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners staged an unauthorized silent protest against the Chinese government actions outside Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leadership's official residence. Following this protest, on July 22, 1999, the Chinese government outlawed Falun Gong for practicing "evil thinking" and threatening social stability. Throughout China, Falun Gong practitioners were arrested, interrogated and forced to sign letters rejecting the practice. In addition, the Chinese government destroyed over 2 million Falun Gong books and instructional tapes and has put Li Hongzhi on a list of wanted criminals."

Wow, that's...so uncool. It's not as if they're infiltrating the government, having violent protests, or even hurting anyone, is it? No, they're not.

As usual, there's a dark underbelly (as it is with most societies, secret or otherwise).

"At the beginning, Li introduced himself to the public as a Qigong master. In A Short Biography of Mr. Li Hongzhi, which appeared as an appendix in the Chinese version of his book, Zhuan Falun, before 1996, it was claimed that Li was guided by more than 20 masters of both the Buddhist and Taoist cultivation ways since the age of four. Li’s first teacher reportedly introduced him to the cultivation of truth, compassion and forbearance (zhen, shan, ren). At age of eight, he was reported to have acquired supernatural powers. It was claimed that he could levitate off the ground and become invisible simply by thinking "Nobody can see me.” Two other claims of supernatural powers were his ability to control people’s movements by thoughts and to move himself anywhere he wanted by thought alone. The biography also claimed Li has discovered the truth of the universe and the origin of humankind and has foreseen the development and future of the humankind."

Now, where have we seen this sort of nonsense before? I trust I don't have to inform my loyal readers, that this is standard fare?

Onwards:

"Whether Falun Gong cultivation practice derives legitimacy from the ancient teachings of Buddhism is a matter of some controversy. Supporters say that traditional Chinese teachings called the Fa (Dharma) or “Dharma and principles” form the foundation for their Falun Dafa. In Zhuan Falun, Li states “the Falun Dafa is one of 84,000 cultivation ways in the Buddha’s School, which has never been made public during the historical period of this human civilization.” However, as reported by Benjamin Penny [6], Falun Gong’s earliest critics stated that by dramatically changing the meanings of traditional Buddhist terms, Li misrepresents the basic tenets of Buddhism and should not claim to be part of that tradition."

Cripes, here we go again. Guess the West isn't the only place where allegory muddies the water. Falun Dafa replies:

"Why can’t we follow the conventions of ordinary human language when we teach the Fa? As you know, the meaning of a standardized term has been predefined: “This word means precisely XYZ.” Moreover, standardized language is limited and unable to describe the immense Fa. In this enormous cosmos, humankind’s Earth isn’t even a speck of dust in a speck of dust inside yet another speck of dust. That’s how puny it is. How could it possibly hold such an immense Fa? How could the Fa of the cosmos possibly be confined by the conventions of human languages? How could It conform to the conventions of human languages? There’s absolutely no way. Our Fa merely employs human language. As to how this language is used to teach Dafa, it’s good enough as long as it allows you to understand—that’s the purpose. That’s why the language we use doesn’t conform to conventions of grammar."

More appeals to wonder. No big whoop: I won't go into this at length, because

  1. I don't speak Chinese, and
  2. I'm an Occidental, so I'd probably mangle the whole thing

Here's something a tad more...disturbing:

"More than being a religion, an examination of Falun Gong’s beliefs and practices, as revealed in Li’s writings and lectures, indicates that it bears striking similarities to such historical Chinese sectarian religious societies as the White Lotus and the Eight Trigrams. Although Li disavows a belief in the main deity of those two societies—the Unbegotten Eternal Mother (Wusheng laomu)—his ideas are similar to theirs in the eclectic blending of Buddhism, Daoism, classical folk religion, and magic. To this amalgam are added some modern touches: just as the ideology of the Taiping rebels was modernized by a banal Christianity, the beliefs of Falun Gong are given a contemporary veneer via references to science and UFOs."

UFOs? Oh, shit! Not this again! Oh, and we have a creed of exclusivity, mixed with a 'divine' blessing to boot:

"Chang opines: “If Li Hongzhi’s disciples can become gods by engaging in Falun gong, it stands to reason that the founder of this cultivation practice must himself be a deity.” Included in the idea of Li’s supernatural status is his claim of having numerous Fashen (spiritual Law bodies) which protect his practitioners from harm. These Law bodies “exercise great supernatural power." They surround practitioners at all times and know everything that is on their minds. Li Hongzhi states in the Zhuan Falun : "If you truly follow the righteous way in cultivation practice, nobody will dare to do something to you at will. Besides, you have the protection of my Fashen, and you will not be in any danger."

Hmmm...you might want to take a look at how the practitioners are being persecuted in China. Apparently, Hongzhi's 'Fashen' don't extend very far.

Get this - they even have their own version of the Rapture! I kid thee not:

"Just as human civilizations had been destroyed in the past because of immorality, like the followers of the White Lotus and the Eight Trigrams in Chinese history, Li is convinced that the moral decadence of our times is leading to another apocalypse. His writings and speeches are replete with references to the “Dharma-ending period” of “the apocalypse,” the “Great Havoc,” and the “end times” (mojie)….With the end days approaching, Li has set about disseminating Falun Dafa so as “to provide salvation to mankind….in this final period of the Last Havoc."

Oh, yeah, and don't THIS sound familiar?

"Mankind! Awaken! The vows of Gods in history are being fulfilled. The Dafa is judging all beings. What path a person takes in life is his own choosing. One thought a person has might determine his future."

Wait, there's more!

"Moreover, when an Enlightened Being descends to the world, it is usually at a time when people’s morals are declining day by day, when people’s sins and karma are enormous, or when people’s morality is degenerate. Once the saved ones have attained the Fa and left, the dregs of humanity and the degenerate world that are left behind will be weeded out."

Yeesh, this guy ever hear of plagiarism? All this dreck has been done before. And of course, we have the good ole 'end of days' scenario:

"You must have seen the epidemic that’s come along in China now, right? Hasn’t a huge epidemic arrived? To put it in human terms, it’s Heaven punishing people. What it’s targeting, we Dafa disciples know full well: it’s targeting those who don’t deserve to be saved, who are impossible to save while Dafa disciples clarify the truth, and who aren’t useful to the evil rotten spirits. This is the first round of cleansing. Heaven is punishing the evil, yet China is still lying to cover up the number of deaths, and I’ll tell you, it’s huge, and it hasn’t peaked yet. People find it scary, but in fact, the truly horrible thing hasn’t begun yet. This isn’t the real, big cleansing when the Fa starts to rectify the human world. It’ll be even more horrifying when that big cleansing arrives, and it’ll target the entire world. When the vicious people go crazy they don’t fear anything, but, when the calamity really descends on them they’ll be stunned. Wait and see, this is going to be an eventful year. A lot is going to happen."

Hallelujah! (Wait: how do you say that in Mandarin?)

Hongzhi's a racist, by the way (read this part carefully):

"The issue of the interracial children I have just mentioned has told mankind a heavenly secret, but it is not that we would do anything. I said that I have done something even greater in the sense that I can also save a person of mixed blood, but I can only save him in this period of time. Though oriental people and Westerners all live on earth, man does not know that there is something separating the East and the West. It is well known that oriental people believe in the so-called "nine". They like the sound of it, which implies everlasting. "Eight" is pronounced as "fa", implying making a fortune. These kinds of things can indeed have a little bit of effect in the East, such as geomantic omen telling or landscape analysis, etc. But when applied in the West, they appear to be ineffective and do not work. They do not work with the white people. Then again, the so-called astrology or some phenomena believed by the white people do not work with the oriental people either. Some people think that they work. That is because you think they work. In fact, they don’t. Why is it then? It is because the white people's biosphere has its special physical matter formed in its own dimension while the oriental people's biosphere has the special matter made up with their life. Such things run through the makeup of one's life. Thus, the two sides are not the same. After races are mixed up, you will find one’s child born to be an infant of mixed blood. However, there is a partition in the middle of this child's life. If it is separated, he will be physically and intellectually incomplete or a person with an incomplete body. Modern science also knows that it is getting worse one generation after another. It would be like this. Of course, if such a person wants to practice cultivation, I can help, and I can take care of it. It cannot be done to a non-practitioner."

Oh, and he's a homophobe:

"Considered to be an act that brings bad karma upon oneself, Li states in Volume II of Zhuan Falun that "The disgusting homosexuality reflects the dirty mental abnormality that has lost ability to reason at this time."

Also taught is the idea that if it were not for Li’s “upright Fa to keep human beings in check” homosexuals could expect to receive a particularly harsh punishment from the Gods. [45] In Switzerland, Li stated that by renouncing their sexual behavior homosexuals could experience a different outcome. Responding to a question asking why homosexuals are bad people, Li said: "Let me tell you, if I weren’t teaching this Fa today, gods’ first target of annihilation would be homosexuals. It’s not me who would destroy them, but gods.” As an example, Li talked about a similar phenomenon that happened in ancient Greek culture. According to Li, that culture no longer exists “because they had degenerated to that extent, so were destroyed."

And:

"In Frankfurt (1998) Li stated that homosexuals could still practice cultivation, provided they give up their bad behavior: "You are wantonly indulging your thoughts. Your thoughts, like the ones I just mentioned, are not actually you. The mentality that makes you homosexual was driven by postnatally-formed bad things. But you yourself were numbed by them and went along with them and wallowed in the mud. You need to find yourself again and stop doing those filthy things. Gods view them as filthy."

Let's nutshell this: a mystic messiah figure, exclusivity, persecution (this time provable), racism, homophobia, evil spirits, the Eastern version of apocalypse.

Final analysis: yep, it's a cult. Expect some real, real heavy payback on this one, sometime soon, I'd bet.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

ALLEGORIES GONE WILD - THE SECOND COMING IS...WELL, NOT QUITE THE WAY WE WERE TOLD IT WOULD BE

All hail the Lizard King, er, Queen?

I'm surprised David Icke hasn't gone apeshit over this.

So now Flora (pictured below) is the new Virgin Mary.






Problem is, she had a litter of seven eggs, which are hatching. (OOOOO - sacred number seven! Quick, go get your Bible Code and cross-reference it with Nostradumbfuck! There must be some sort of connection!)







Oh, but wait, you say. The wholly bibble was talking strictly about bipedal people, this doesn't apply, how can anyone possibly juxtapose the bible allegorically allow serpentry to ascend?

Apparently, this nutter:

"ABSTRACT: There is an increasing amount of archaeological and linguistic evidence that pterosaurs (flying reptiles) were mentioned by several authors of Scripture. This introductory article will deal with some of those biblical words and what I've learned about them from word studies and archaeology. The scientific basis for this study has been established by articles for peer-reviewed scientific publications for both secular and creation groups. The spiritual symbolism for these animals and cultural relevance during the biblical era will also be looked at. Finally, some implications from this knowledge will be examined."

Yeesh, and Christians get upset when we call them irrational?

"Strong evidence has been found that pterosaurs lived during biblical times in the middle east. Moreover the Bible itself mentions these animals at least a half-dozen times. Though maintained by biblical scholars for more than two Millennia, until (and including) the NASB and NRSV translations, the popular NIV has abandoned Isaiah's two allusions of these colorful creatures. Of course the reason for that is because mainstream science has maintained for more than a century that pterosaurs (i.e. flying reptiles) have been extinct for tens of millions of years and that no person ever saw them."

Remind me to write a monogram titled 'Religious allegory: a recipe for non-edible fruitcake'.

"Recent studies of ancient Egyptian (and other) artifacts have revealed that they must have observed at least several pterosaur species now known from the fossil record because of the morphological characteristics that were depicted. Among these species are the: Pteranodon ingens, Quetzalcoatlus, Ornithoceras, Rhamphorhynchus, as well as the Scaphognathus crassirostris and Dimorphodon macronyx. Moreover the depictions of undetermined species of Rhamphorhynchoid (long tailed) pterosaurs with tail vanes demands that they observed pterosaurs since they wouldn't depict reptiles with that feature if they hadn't actually observed a living pterosaur."

Yeah, they also had observed people with the head of a crocodile, and women with the head of a wasp and the body of a hippo. Oh, wait: those aren't mentioned anywhere in the fairy tales. Talk about cherry-picking. There's more (he said, with trepidation):

"I believe 'tan' was the word the Hebrews used later for griffins (which I think were formerly living animals based on the archaeological evidence). That could explain why the term nahash saraph became nahashtan many centuries later. Providing my reasons why the griffin was represented by the Hebrew word tan would be the subject of another article."

I'd really love to see the fossils for that particularly wild speculation.

Apparently, the imposter (oops, sorry, I meant apostle) Paul also verifies this:

"However, there were no ibis birds to protect the Israelites in the wilderness. The apostle Paul confirms the historicity of the event with his first epistle to the Corinthians: Nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents (10:9). The Greek word that Paul uses, ofewn, is the dative plural of ofi", a word used of both terrestrial and flying reptiles by first century Greek authors. A word for 'winged,' such as petein (like the Septuagint) sometimes modifies the subject when pterosaurs were being described."

Holy Pteranodon, Batman! Killer Croc's got wings!

And hey! The pterosaur's a symbol for Jay-sus! I shit you not:

"The pterosaur's symbolism for Christ is found in both the Pentateuch and Isaiah. The Exodus event, with the brazen saraph being raised in the wilderness was explicitly mentioned by Christ to Nicodemus to be symbolic for his crucifixion (Jn. 3:14). His sacrifice would provide spiritual healing to all who would look in faith like the physical healing provided during the Exodus.

One interesting facet to be gained by acknowledging the saraph to be a pterosaur is the consistency of biblical symbolism. The serpent is universally a symbol of evil and of Satan from Gen. 3 right through to Rev. 20. How could an animal that almost always symbolized the Devil be taken to symbolize Christ? When the saraph is seen to be a pterosaur, distinct from the serpent, the imagery becomes clear."

Hey, if I juggle the allegorical symbolism of the bibble, maybe I can even make a case for evolution, can't I? Apparently, you can make a case for anything based on the mutterings of a bunch of Iron-age madmen.

I particularly love the crap about Jeremiah (time to start singing that old Steppenwolf song):

"The meaning of that obscure Hebrew word was lost in antiquity before the Septuagint was translated. There are two variants for that word from the Septuagint, O translates it apospasma, meaning tearing away, severing; and A and S egkentrizwn, meaning goading on, spurring on. Modern scholarship, however, has found equivalent Aramaic and Arabic words (to the Hebrew) that mean literally, 'a biter.' That would correspond best with the O edition of the Septuagint. Specifically, the Arabic word is now ascribed to an insect (i.e. horsefly). Many animal words, though, change their meaning after the animal becomes extinct."

Wait: if it said word was lost in antiquity, how on earth did you manage to latch onto it...ohhhh, riiggghhhtt. Betcha this dimbulb had a vision of some sort, or consulted the Ouija board. More hilarity:

"The archaeological evidence confirms the cultural phenomenon of flying reptiles in both the northern and southern kingdoms in the eighth century, corresponding with the time of Isaiah's prophecy. The symbol was prominent in Egypt many centuries before its popularity in Israel and Judah. Indeed Isaiah's word for pterosaurs, saraph, is a loan word from Egypt and probably represented a griffin, an animal unknown to modern science for which fossils may someday be found. The name of the griffin for Israel was probably tan, and therefore the usage of nehushtan instead of nahash saraph.

The metal bowl found at Nimrud, among the Assyrian loot from late eighth century Judah, indicates that Nehushtan was a flying serpent. That would be consistent with Isaiah's rediscovery of the word saraph that had not been used since the Exodus and had, apparently, been forgotten. That bowl is additional evidence of the cultural phenomenon that occurred when Isaiah had his dramatic experience at God's throne. The many seals from Israel and Judah are also some of that evidence. The ancient accounts of some poisonous pterosaurs matches the context of the exotic animal that Isaiah mentioned."

Ummm...hello? The Exodus never happened. Really. Your time would've been better spent trying to prove that, than to indulge yourself in wild speculation trying to prove that dinosaurs existed in the time of Moses.

This concludes another episode of Allegories Gone Wild.

Now get down on your knees, and start praising our new Lizardly Queen. Or, there's a new world comin', and you ain't gonna like how it comes out THIS time.

Till the next post, then.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

HALLELUJAH: IT’S THE SECOND COMING…OR THE FIRST COMING…OR MAYBE THESE IDIOTS NEED TO VISIT LAKE ‘WOO-BEGONE’

This is getting really frakkin’ old…

I have, on more than one occasion, taken blasts at Scienmythology, but now? More Messianic delusions in the pop culture (thanks to elliejay at the NGB for this piece of poppycock):

Cruise 'is Christ' of Scientology

“TOM Cruise is the new “Christ” of Scientology, according to leaders of the cult-like religion.

The Mission: Impossible star has been told he has been “chosen” to spread the word of his faith throughout the world.

And leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion.

A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure.

“Like Christ, he’s been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.”

Cruise joined the Church of Scientology in the ’80s. Leader L Ron Hubbard claimed humans bear traces of an ancient alien civilisation.”

Holy crap. At least the article said ‘cult-like’. Cult is definitely more like it.

I suppose it’s time for me to pull out my copy of Dianetics, and start hunting around for some obscure allegorical wording that, if (im) properly juxtaposed, could validate this pop-culture i-clown as the actual 2nd (1st? 3rd?) coming.

Next thing you know, we’ll have Cruise-tian churches, and old Tommy-boy will be ‘cruise-ified’.

Hopefully, the America public will wake up, and smell the coffee. He’s an actor (he’s actually not too bad at it), a fanatic, and an idiot.

And of course, all my polemics are simply ‘Xenu whispering evil into my ear’.

Will blunders never cease?

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

MARTYRDOM AS A MENTAL ILLNESS

(cross-posted at gods4sucker.net)

I have made no bones in the past about this: persecution is a simple ploy, on the part of the religious (in this country, at least) to garner sympathy, to play on that empathy that most folks have for the underdog.

In other countries, certainly, there is persecution. There is a degree of intolerance that’s deplorable, whether we speak of Christianity, Islam, or any other faith large or small.

But in this country? The good ole U.S of A? We hear the nonsense about the pilgrims coming here on the Mayflower, fleeing from persecution (this is mostly folderol: they lived unmolested in Amsterdam for 12 years prior to shipping out to the Americas). There have been instances of persecution among different sects, true enough (such as the anti-mormon movement), but overall, Christianity has always been, and still is, in the ascendancy.



But more than once we have been ‘treated’ to cries of ‘foul!’, more than once we have heard the bogus concept that ‘secularization is poisoning the sancrosanct values of the West’, and we are told that we are bigots for daring to criticize that which had carte blanche in the pre-9/11 days.

Or, to quote Jon Stewart:
“Does anyone know...does the Christian persecution complex have an expiration date? Because...uh...you've all been in charge pretty much since...uh...what was that guys name...Constantine. He converted in, what was it, 312 A.D. I'm just saying, enjoy your success.”

But they do not. We have seen three instances of ‘Justice Sunday’. We see increasing efforts to theocratize our government (wait: doesn’t their holy book say that their kingdom is not of this world? Yes it does). The misperception of persecution is stoking the fires of discontent. And persecution can be a mental disorder (culled from the American journal of Psychiatry):

“People with persecutory delusions selectively attend to threatening information, jump to conclusions on the basis of insufficient information, attribute negative events to external personal causes, and have difficulty in envisaging others’ intentions, motivations, or states of mind.”

I encourage you all to read the entire entry. It’s eerily…apt.

Any of that seem familiar? As well it should. We’ve seen multiple occurences, on this blog alone – a small sample, perhaps, but if indicative, scary to the degree of double-locking one’s doors.

It ‘s not historically unusual, that a large majority is hesitant to lose their status quo. It also isn’t unusual, that they will go to great lengths to ensure that said loss doesn’t occur.

But how on earth are they ‘persecuted’? They have tax-free exemptions on their temples. Indeed, in some areas, there are churches just about everywhere (I can drive through Hayward for ten minutes, and see one per minute). Are people being yanked from their homes in the wee hours of the morning, due to their beliefs? Do we have a Guantanamo Bay for fundies? Are there mass executions (or even one or two), based on someone’s Christianity? When the holidays are upon us, aren’t the TV airwaves literally inundated with religious propaganda? Don’t they have more than one channel devoted to their fantasies? Are there trainloads of Christians being carted off to some unknown concentration camp? Are there mobs publically denouncing or attacking them? Are their children being castigated and humiliated in the public schools? Are churches being bombed? Are their children being whisked away? Are ‘militant atheists’ throwing bricks through Bible bookstores? Are they being targeted for hate-crimes?
All twelve are rhetorical questions, of course: the answer is a firm, resounding NO.

So my response is this: Got Martyrdom? No? Go do missionary work in Cypress, or Palestine, if that is what you seek. You won’t find it here. If anything, y’all get to slaughter the fatted calf every Sunday, and barbecue the bloody thing.

So cut the lamentations and the rending of your clothes (keriah), and please, do stop flagellating yourselves: it’s an embarrassment, no matter who does it.

The British have a great phrase: sod off, you wankers.

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PROFILES IN ATHEISM - ANAXAGORAS

Here's another noteworthy atheist: Anaxagoras.

From the Britannica:

"(born c. 500, Clazomenae, Anatolia-died c. 428 BC, Lampsacus) Greek philosopher. Though only a few fragments of his writings have survived, he is remembered for his cosmology and for his discovery of the true cause of eclipses. His cosmology grew out of the efforts of earlier pre-Socratics to explain the physical universe in terms of a single element. The most original aspect of his system was his doctrine of nous (“mind,” or “reason”), according to which the cosmos, including all living things, was created by mind in a process of attraction of “like to like”; mind also accounts for the power of living things to extract nourishment from surrounding substances."

From the Encyclopedia:

"c.500–428 B.C., Greek philosopher of Clazomenae. He is credited with having transferred the seat of philosophy to Athens. He was closely associated with many famous Athenians and is thought to have been the teacher of Socrates. His belief that the sun was a white-hot stone and that the moon was made of earth that reflected the sun's rays resulted in a charge of atheism and blasphemy, forcing him to flee to Lampsacus, where he died. Rejecting Empedocles' four elements (earth, air, fire, and water), Anaxagoras posits an infinity of particles, or “seeds,” each unique in its qualities. All natural objects are composed of particles having all sorts of qualities; a preponderance of similar though not identical particles creates the difference between wood and stone. Anaxagoras' universe, before separation, was an infinite, undifferentiated mass. The formation of the world was due to a rotary motion produced in this mass by an all-pervading mind (nous). This led to the separating out of the “seeds” and the formation of things. Although Anaxagoras was the first to give mind a place in the universe, he was criticized by both Plato and Aristotle for only conceiving of it as a mechanical cause rather than the originator of order."

And a snippet from the Wiki Entry:

"Cosmological theory

"All things have existed from the beginning. But originally they existed in infinitesimally small fragments of themselves, endless in number and inextricably combined. All things existed in this mass, but in a confused and indistinguishable form. There were the seeds (spermata) or miniatures of corn and flesh and gold in the primitive mixture; but these parts, of like nature with their wholes (the omoiomere of Aristotle), had to be eliminated from the complex mass before they could receive a definite name and character. Mind arranged the segregation of like from unlike; panta chremata en omou eita nous elthon auta diekosmese. This peculiar thing, called Mind (Nous), was no less illimitable than the chaotic mass, but, unlike the logos of Heraclitus, it stood pure and independent (mounos ef eoutou), a thing of finer texture, alike in all its manifestations and everywhere the same. This subtle agent, possessed of all knowledge and power, is especially seen ruling in all the forms of life.

"Mind causes motion. It rotated the primitive mixture, starting in one corner or point, and gradually extended till it gave distinctness and reality to the aggregates of like parts, working something like a centrifuge, and eventually creating the known cosmos. But even after it had done its best, the original intermixture of things was not wholly overcome. No one thing in the world is ever abruptly separated, as by the blow of an axe, from the rest of things.

"It is noteworthy that Aristotle accuses Anaxagoras of failing to differentiate between nous and psyche, while Socrates (Plato, Phaedo, 98 B) objects that his nous is merely a deus ex machina to which he refuses to attribute design and knowledge.

"Anaxagoras proceeded to give some account of the stages in the process from original chaos to present arrangements. The division into cold mist and warm ether first broke the spell of confusion. With increasing cold, the former gave rise to water, earth and stones. The seeds of life which continued floating in the air were carried down with the rains and produced vegetation. Animals, including man, sprang from the warm and moist clay. If these things be so, then the evidence of the senses must be held in slight esteem. We seem to see things coming into being and passing from it; but reflection tells us that decease and growth only mean a new aggregation (sugkrisis) and disruption (diakrisis). Thus Anaxagoras distrusted the senses, and gave the preference to the conclusions of reflection. Thus he maintained that there must be blackness as well as whiteness in snow; how otherwise could it be turned into dark water?

"Anaxagoras marked a turning-point in the history of philosophy. With him speculation passes from the colonies of Greece to settle at Athens. By the theory of minute constituents of things, and his emphasis on mechanical processes in the formation of order, he paved the way for the atomic theory. However, his enunciation of the order that comes from an intelligent mind suggested the theory that nature is the work of design."

And finally:

Anaxagoras, the first undoubted theist, among the philosophers, was perhaps the first that ever was accused of atheism.

David Hume, The Natural History of Religion, Chapter IV

Hume claimed that the reason that Anaxagoras was accused of atheism was that he denied that stars, planets and other created objects were divine.

Ponder, muse, and get back to me.

Till the next post, then.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

UNCOMMON DISSENT

I was reading this over at Uncommon Descent, and I’m just…well…startled. I shouldn’t be, but I am.

So I read this:

“Indeed, this is evolution in action. But it is small-scale microevolution that no one disputes and that is irrelevant to the really big claim of evolutionary theory, namely, that the bug that developed antibiotic resistance and you, the poor human whose immune system cannot resist the bug, are both offspring of some common ancestor in the distant past and that the process that brought you and the bug into existence is Darwinian, operating by chance and necessity and without plan or purpose. In particular, you, your aspirations, and the entire human family to which you belong are simply an accident of natural history, here for a brief moment and destined for extinction. This is Darwinism in its full glory.”

I won’t quote Dawkins’ oft repeated statement about non-randomnicity. The entire piece is just poor writing. It’s not smart: it doesn’t back any of its claims with anything other than an Ozzian Scarecrow factory. It’s just…sad. Let’s bypass the known fact that we share the genetic make-up of the fly, along with just about everything else that flies, swims, crawls, or just plain moves. Clearly an appeal to the reader: Darwin says you’re not special! Those mean old evolutionists want to deprive you of your individuality!

Pathetic indeed, was this bit of hogwash:
”At this point, valiant defenders of evolution, of which there are many, usually play the “overwhelming evidence card.” Accordingly, they tell us that there are “mountains and mountains of evidence for evolution” (Darwinist Richard Dawkins used precisely those words in his recent attack on religion for the BBC series titled The Root of All Evil?). When I hear Darwinists use the phrase “overwhelming evidence” to tout their theory, I think of a story that my colleague Del Ratzsch at Calvin College tells about the wife of an entertainer who, according to a tabloid, descended from aliens. The key piece of evidence cited to support this hypothesis was that the woman had slightly lower than average blood pressure. Obviously, the problem with such an argument is that there is no rational connection between blood pressure and alien descent.”

But of course, no citations. A buddy telling a story about an unnamed entertainer's wife that he read about in the National Enquirer. I mean, this is something you talk about over a pint at a pub, not as a representative of a ‘scientific community’ on the web, fer chrissakes. It’s not only stupid, it’s misrepresentative, it’s…oh hell, you figure it out.

All through the piece, Dumbski blathers on about the ‘mad scientist’ conspiracy (I could rework the entire piece on another subject, and send it to him: he’d probably dismiss it as the ravings of a schizoid, if he didn’t know it was him), all the standard tinfoil hat crap.

Here’s another sampling:
”Indeed, the grand claim of Darwinian evolution has never been tested: all the evidence and experiments cited to support it have no rational connection with it. At best, they support that there was a gradual progression of living forms. But they do not support that such a progression occurred without the need for intelligent input.”

Can any of you tell me what’s wrong with that last sentence? Read it carefully.

More laughable nonsense:
”Yet, in fact, as this book makes clear, intelligent design is the real science here. Intelligent design studies patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence. As such, it merges the natural sciences (such as physics, chemistry, and geology) with the engineering sciences (such as information theory, communication theory, and computational intelligence). Intelligent design makes testable predictions about the forms of complexity we should find in biological systems and the inherent limitations we should observe in evolutionary processes not controlled by intelligence. As this book demonstrates, these predictions are now being consistently borne out.”

And just where are all these ‘testable predictions’? Where’s the science? Where’s the evidence? Has it been released? Oh, yes, it has: internally, a deep dark secret, not yet declassified. Because all their ‘work’ to date has been debunked. We’ve seen diddlysquat except strawmen, false dilemmas, and paper-mill degrees. Oh, and millions spent on propaganda, and nothing other than the occasional vague biblical quotation.

Here’s a paragraph from 1 of the commenters, it bugs me, it does:

“To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times [why not say billion?] until it is twenty kilometers in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings, we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.”

We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines. We would notice that the simplest of the functional components of the cell, the protein molecules, were astonishingly, complex pieces of molecular machinery, each one consisting of about three thousand atoms arranged in highly organized 3-D spatial conformation. We would wonder even more as we watched the strangely purposeful activities of these weird molecular machines, particularly when we realized that, despite all our accumulated knowledge of physics and chemistry, the task of designing one such molecular machine — that is one single functional protein molecule — would be completely beyond our capacity at present and will probably not be achieved until at least the beginning of the next century. [Well, we are now 7 years into the next century, have we designed a functional protein yet?]”
pp.328-329

Clearly an appeal to incredulity. Here’s these guys, they go on and on and on about the ‘lack of evidence for macroevolution’, but they bloody well wax philosophic on the microcosmic scale, literally drooling at the mouths about it. Cells die, clearly a rejection of irreducible complexity on a diminutive scale: we function fine without the dead cells, due to an overabundance. Hell, we’re still functional, even if we lose an eye, or an arm (not optimal, but you get the point). Forest for the trees, etc.

This next one made me laugh out loud; it was so stupid:

“The capacity of DNA to store information vastly exceeds that of any other known system; it is so efficient that all the information needed to specify an organism as complex as man weighs less than a few thousand millionths of a gram. The information necessary to specify the design of all the species of organisms which have ever existed on the planet, a number according to G.G. Simpson of approximately one thousand million, could be held in a teaspoon and there would still be room left for all the information in every book ever written.”

All that’s true and well and good, but for one thing: 97% of it is broken! An intelligent designer, let alone a loving deity certainly wouldn’t break the strand of DNA that forces us to take Vitamin C, or eat fruits, else we die of scurvy? I’m sure there’s some obscure passage in the Apocrypha that makes some vague mention of mankind having to eat fruit (besides the obvious one: oh, hey! Wait! Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, that’s what broke that particular strand! I’m a freakin’ genius! Too bad I’m an atheist).

I guess it's no secret: 'Divine Wind' Dembski shot hisself in the foot,  "after much pre-trial bluster about how, in an open forum, he would shred the arguments of the “Darwinists,” when he was actually presented with a wonderful public opportunity to do exactly that in the Dover courtroom, Dembski declined to show up!"  Also, that he actually provided that Banshee of Bullshit, Ann Coulter, with her more inaccurate anti-science polemic in that Neocon Necronomicon, Godless: The Church of Liberalism (and then denied any culpabity). Or that he managed to actually alienate an ID-friendly crowd in Kansas, of all places. He also bans dissenters from his blog: that's not the sign of a true scientist. That's a sign of a ______ (you fill in the blank).

This self-styled 'Isaac Newton' has neither the grace, wit, nor intelligence of that worthy, by any stretch. I'll be clear: I don't like the guy. Not because I disagree with him, oh, no sirree. Let's put it this way: whether he's a creationist or an evolutionist, the man is simply a clown. One only has to read his history to figure that part out. If I were an ID advocate, I'd be pissed, no, I'd be through the roof if this bozo was representing my interests.

I don't care much for Behe, but I'll give him this: he showed up for the scuffle, and made the attempt to prove his point, albeit he copped to the fact that his 'open definition' would actually allow astrology a foothold! But he gets points for honesty.

Latest episode of Dembski foot-in-mouth disease:
"the performance is poor, but poor design is not the absence of design"

Till the next post, then.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

ALLEGORIES GONE WILD – THE LOGOS RIDES A WHITE ONE-TRICK PONY

“See how he dances
See how he loops from side to side
See how he prances
The way his hooves just seem to glide
He’s just a one trick pony (that’s all he is)
But he turns that trick with pride”

- Paul Simon, One Trick Pony

This is something I was tipped to, over at Aaron Kinney’s Kill the Afterlife blog, here. Specifically, one Samael Aun Weor.

While this fellow in his lifetime dabbled in a plethora of arcane subjects, he was a one-trick pony, via the use of Occam’s razor, illustrated here:

“In The Revolution of Beelzebub (1950), Samael Aun Weor announced himself the White Rider of the New Testament's Book of Revelation, whose name is the "Word of God."

Which gave him the authority to multiply entities needlessly (dontcha just love paradoxes?).

As with any self-declared prophet, he of course had a zillion anecdotes to back his play:

“In his autobiographical work The Three Mountains, Samael recounts the ways in which he had already assimilated into his understanding a vast amount of esoteric and occult knowledge before reaching adulthood. He states that because he was born with an awakened consciousness, he recapitulated his practice of meditation and was analyzing previous incarnations before mastering how to walk.”

Yeesh, the mystical equivalent of Mozart without music?

“At the age of seventeen, he was asked to lecture at the local Theosophical Chapter, and a year later was admitted into the occult society Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua (F.R.A.). While a student in the F.R.A., Samael methodically studied the entire Rosicrucian library, expanding his intellectual culture and seeking out the secret path of true religion. Allegedly it was here that Samael was secretly taught the "Great Arcanum," or White Sexual Magic, the profoundly veiled sexual key which, according the occult sciences, underpins all of the world's great religions.”

Of course, he brings SEX into the picture. Everyone likes sex, don’t they?

“A period of historical obscurity ensues between the mid-1930s and 1950.”

Probably underwent training at the Academy of Used Car Salesmen, is my bet.

“Admittedly recapitulating some of the bygone events of his former incarnations, he became a spiritual vagabond of sorts, traveling with neither home nor income. While exploring the regions of Central and South America, he encountered a secluded tribe of indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta (Northern Colombia). Invited to live with them, he recruited a vast wisdom of ancient indigenous medical practices, which would later form the foundation of his medical treatise, Occult Medicine & Practical Magic.[3] It was also during these years that he claimed to have had his first experience of the Illuminating Void where he first met his "Inner Being", or Atman whose name is "Aun Weor".

Listen closely: can you hear the audience say “OOOOOO! AAAAAAHHH!”?

I wonder if that fraud Castaneda took his cue from this. Of course, this is par for the course in most magickal stories: the vanishing act, the reappearance, the good ole ‘I was studying with the reclusive shaman/tribe, which I can’t verify, nor can anyone else find. Ergo, I am heir apparent to mystic powers beyond human reckoning!”

Now, I’ve always liked the Gnostics: they had some sensible ideas. Only some, though. Ideas such as women’s rights, free love (hey, everyone likes…wait, I said that already), communal living (no, not communism, but that’s a different topic), etc. I especially liked the concept of the Demiurge – it makes a helluva lot more sense than the Judeo-Christian template. (It’s all crapola, but let me play, willya?)

So, I began digging around here, as my starting point.

And, as always, like multiple other frauds, he had a number of predictions that failed miserably.

In his ‘The Great Rebellion’, good old Samael makes a series of predictions that don’t come true (is anyone surprised?).

He mixes a number of easily observable phenomena, while citing ‘experts’ without any kind of citation whatsoever [the underlined is my emphasis on failed ‘prophecies’]:

CHAPTER 2.

THE HARSH REALITY OF FACTS

“Soon millions of people from Africa, Asia and Latin America could die of starvation.

"Gases released from Aerosol sprays could radically put an end to the Ozone layer of the terrestrial atmosphere.

"Some experts forecast that by the year two thousand the subsoil of our terrestrial globe will be exhausted."

It has already been proven that marine species are dying due to contamination of the sea.

Unquestionably, at this rate, by the end of this century al the inhabitants of big cities will have to wear oxygen masks to protect themselves from pollution.

If contamination continues at this alarming pace, it will very soon be impossible to eat fish.

Living in totally contaminated waters, this will be a serious danger to health.

"Before the year two thousand it will be impossible to find a beach where one can bathe in pure water.

"The excessive consumption and exploitation of the top-soil and subsoil, the land soon won't be able to produce the necessary agricultural elements to feed people.”

He DOES make a prediction in Chapter Two, of a single nuclear event that would cause ‘great consternation’, but there’s no demarcation: nice, loose and general.

In Chapter three, he waxes on (and on and on) about how unhappy people in general are. No doubt to induce nods from aspiring acolytes. [Special note: for someone who claims a vast array of erudition, the documents in question are riddled with typographical errors. I’ve had to run a number of spellchecks on the quotes here].

Skip ahead: Chapter 23, he touches on Elohim being the Lord of Atlantis. Not joking.

In ‘The Rings of Alcyone”, he makes a pile of weird, bizarre statements:

“Friends, once again I address myself to everyone, with the purpose of talking a little bit about the spaceships that cross space. This topic of the flying saucers, that is so disquieting, has propagated in al the corners of the Earth; nobody can deny it any more.

"Nowadays, those who dare deny it are heard, unquestionably, by their foolishness.

The English themselves do not deny it any more. Some time ago, England officially declared: “Flying saucers exist and are manned by extraterrestrials; they are people who are ahead of us in civilization by many millions of years. As we, earthlings, cannot understand them, we prefer not to think about it. Let us see if we can build our own ships to conquer the infinite.”

England declared this? When? Who? Where? Was it at a Crop Circle convention? WTF?

Also:
”Not long ago, a probe was sent to Mars with the purpose of knowing whether there was life there. The men of NASA ended up affirming in an emphatic manner that there was no life there. The photographs that they showed to humanity were not of Mars; they were actually of the moon.”

Yeah, the surfeit of red dust sure proves THAT, doesn’t it?

“This signifies that the Martians knew how to orientate the American cameras towards the earthly satellite. So, what these cameras transferred to the Earth were lunar images. What I know, however incredible it may seem, is due simply to the information from an extraterrestrial who, as he says, laughs at the silliness of the Americans and their NASA.”

Ooooo, it’s all a ‘Martian conspiracy.’ Gimmee a break here, willya?

He blathers on for some time here and elsewhere, about ‘blue men’ [no, not the Blue Man Group]:

“I was there in that forest, when I was surprised by a ship that slowly descended until landing in a clearing of the forest. Moved by curiosity, I approached to see what was happening and my surprise was great when I saw, precisely over a steel tripod, an extraordinary ship, marvelous. A hatch opened and a slim person descended by a ladder, of medium stature, copperish skin, blue eyes, ample forehead, straight nose with slim lips, small and tucked ear, conic hands, elongated like that of Francis of Assisi or Antonio de Padua. He had a strange apparatus, a mechanical instrument that was unknown by me. Behind him, descended a whole team, among them two ladies of unknown age. I extended my hand to salute them and as a curious thing, he extended his hand and stretched it with mine. I greeted him in our language and he answered in perfect Spanish, something that really surprised me; I did not know that the astronauts spoke Spanish. Anyway, it seems that they have the gift of languages. So, I understand, because he spoke with no difficulties.”

And, not to mention, he not only invokes the Kabballah and the Bible, he also seems to give Dante (of all people!) theological veracity, here. All the while, a very labyrinthine meritocracy with liberal doses of East ‘n West.

So, nutshelling it:
Bible, Kaballah, Atlantis, Lemuria, UFO’s, little blue men, and varying degrees of psychic psychobabble (I particularly liked the bit about the ‘igneous particles’ being manipulated by ancient alchemists). I think he missed the Reptoids, but then, he hit base with close to almost every crackpot mythology extant.

Fun as this has been, I have to stop now: my eyes are beginning to cross.

"The customs and fashions of men change like leaves on the bough, some of which go and others come." -Dante Alighieri.

Till the next post, then.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

PROFILES IN ATHEISM - DIAGORAS

I have to admit: this guy's one of my favorites. I'm sympatico, mostly because I, too, have gotten into trouble due to my smart mouth.

Diagoras:

"Diagoras the Atheist of Melos was a Greek poet and sophist of the 5th century BC. He became an atheist after an incident that happened against him went unpunished by the gods. He spoke out against the orthodox religions, and criticized the Eleusinian Mysteries. He once threw a wooden image of a god into a fire, remarking that the deity should perform another miracle and save itself."

That one NEVER fails to crack me up.

"The Roman philosopher Cicero, writing in the 1st century BC, tells of how a friend of Diagoras tried to convince him of the existence of the gods, by pointing out how many votive pictures tell about people being saved from storms at sea by "dint of vows to the gods", to which Diagoras replied that "there are nowhere any pictures of those who have been shipwrecked and drowned at sea." And Cicero goes on to give another example, where Diagoras was on a ship in hard weather, and the crew thought that they had brought it on themselves by taking this ungodly man onboard. He then wondered if the other boats out in the same storm also had a Diagoras onboard."

Somehow, that reminds me of Jonah's journey to Ninenveh.

"The Christian writer Athenagoras of Athens (second century AD) mentions that Diagoras was punished because he "divulged the Orphic doctrine, and published the mysteries of Eleusis and of the Cabiri, and chopped up the wooden statue of Hercules to boil his turnips."[1]"

We need more men like Diagoras. People who tell it like it is, and the devil take the hindmost.

Ponder, muse, get back to me on this one.

Till the next post, then.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

A PENTACLE OF TRIVIA - FIVE ITEMS ABOUT MYSELF

Perhaps the prettiest blogger around, Too Many Tribbles, has tagged me for the Five Things About Me meme. As I consider myself perhaps one of the most sharing atheists in the blogosphere (hey, who doesn't like to prattle on and on about themselves?), I have to really search my noggin for something I haven't already told y'all. Lessee:

  1. I have a grand total of 14 awards from martial arts tournaments I participated in, from 2004-2005 (11 medals, gold silver and bronze, and 3 plaques),
  2. I'm a certified Tai Chi Sifu (teacher),
  3. I love the feel of silk against my skin (hey, when I first started competing, I thought I'd look silly in a silk uniform, but the decadent sensation is addictive),
  4. I tell alternately awful, stupid, corny jokes, but I tell them so well, most people laugh anyways, and
  5. I find women with accents very...attractive.

For the next five, I duly nominate: Aaron Kinney at Kill the Afterlife, Bacon Eating Atheist Jew, Aviaa at Amanda's Irreverent Musings, Mesoforte at An Eye at the Past, and Stardust at Stardust Musings and Thoughts for the Freethinker.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

'DAVID AND JONATHAN, SITTIN' IN A TREE, K-I-S-S-I-NG...

It has come to my attention, that despite all the efforts to bring my readers the weirdest, the wackiest, the strangest bits of arcana, esoterica, and general oddness that this evolutionary modality we call religion generates, y'all really prick up your ears and pay attention whenever I

  1. Bash the wholly bibble, or
  2. Talk about gay (read: ANYTHING SEXUAL) rights

And that breaks me heart, it do. Sniffle, sniffle....WAAAHHHH!

Okay, I'm over it now.

So, in an effort to kill TWO birds with ONE stone (as that old Chinese sage once said), I will hereby merge the two into one post. So y'all best appreciate it.

We begin this...sordid tale with that all time favorite hero of the Old Testament: KIIIINNNNGG DAAAVVIIDDD!

Let us, in all fairness, begin with the...ahem...PLATONIC relationship:
"Some scholars claim that the relationship between David and Jonathan, though strong and close, is ultimately a platonic friendship. This interpretation views the covenant made between the two men as a political, rather than affectionate, commitment. Jonathan and David agree to look out for one another and care for each other's family should one of them perish (a promise which David keeps).

"The books of Samuel document physical intimacy (hugging and kissing) between Jonathan and David, but do not explicitly indicate a sexual component. Kissing is a common social custom between men in the Middle East for greetings or farewells, and does not necessarily indicate a physical relationship.

"In addition, David was not only married, but in fact had multiple wives, one of them being Jonathan's sister Michal. David's relationship with Bathsheba is explicitly more sexual than the one he has with Jonathan."

That's not the first I've heard of this. It's not uncommon for Middle Eastern men to kiss as a greeting, or to bask in each other's scent. Bush holding hands with that Emir, teasing him about that, well...that's just silly.

The romantic theory is...interesting (same link):

"Other scholars, however, interpret the love between David and Jonathan as more intimate than friendship.[1][2] This interpretation views the bonds the men shared as romantic love, regardless of whether or not the relationship was physically consummated. Jonathan and David cared deeply about each other in a way that was certainly more tender and intimate than a platonic friendship."

From here [all boldened and underlined are my emphases]:

"1 Samuel 18:1

"...Jonathan became one in spirit with David and he loved him as himself." (NIV)

"...the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (KJV)

Most translations use the term "soul" rather than "spirit" to describe the bond. They speak of an "immediate bond of love", their souls being "in unison," their souls being "knit", etc. Genesis 2:7, as written in the original Hebrew, describes how God blew the spirit into the body of Adam that God had formed from earth, so that Adam became a living soul. This means that "soul", in the ancient Israelite times, represents a combination of body and spirit. Thus the two men appear to have loved each other both physically and emotionally.

1 Samuel 18:2

"From that day, Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house." (NIV)

David left his parent's home and moved to Saul's where he would be with Jonathan. This is a strong indication that the relationship was extremely close. It echoes the passage marriage passage in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

1 Samuel 18:3-4

"And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt." (NIV)

Since people in those days did not wear underwear, Jonathan stripped himself naked in front of David. That would be considered extremely unusual behavior (then and now) unless their relationship was physical.

[author's note: sorry, that is ssooooo GAY!]

1 Samuel 18:20-21

"Now Saul's daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 'I will give her to him', he thought, 'so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him'. Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law" (NIV)

In the King James Version, the end of Verse 21 reads:

"Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law, in the one of the twain." (KJV)

Saul's belief was that David would be so distracted by a wife that he would not be an effective fighter and would be killed by the Philistines. He offered first his daughter Merab, but that was rejected, presumably by her. Then he offered Michal. There is an interesting phrase used at the end of verse 21. In both the NIV and KJV, it would seem that David's first opportunity to be a son-in-law was with the older daughter Merab, and his second was with the younger daughter Michal. The KJV preserves the original text in its clearest form; it implies that David would become Saul's son-in-law through "one of the twain." "Twain" means "two", so the verse seems to refer to one of Saul's two daughters. Unfortunately, this is a mistranslation. The underlined phrase "the one of" does not exist in the Hebrew original. The words are shown in italics in the King James Version; this is an admission by the translators that they made the words up. Thus, if the KJV translators had been truly honest, they would have written:

"Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law, in the twain."

In modern English, this might be written: "Today, you are son-in-law with two of my children" That would refer to both his son Jonathan and his daughter Michal. The Hebrew original would appear to recognize David and Jonathan's homosexual relationship as equivalent to David and Michal's heterosexual marriage. Saul may have approved or disapproved of the same-sex relationship; but at least he appears to have recognized it. The KJV highlight their re-writing of the Hebrew original by placing the three words in italics; the NIV translation is clearly deceptive.

1 Samuel 20:41

"After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with is face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together - but David wept the most." (NIV)

[ummm...this does sound like something lovers would do.]

Other translations have a different ending to the verse:


"...and they kissed one another and wept with one another, until David exceeded." (KJV)

"...and they kissed one another and wept with one another until David got control of himself." (Amplified Bible)

"and they sadly shook hands, tears running down their cheeks until David could weep no more." (Living Bible)

"They kissed each other and wept together until David got control of himself." (Modern Language)

"They kissed each other and wept aloud together." (New American Bible)

"Then David and Jonathan kissed each other. They cried together, but David cried the most." (New Century Version)

"Then they kissed one another and shed tears together, until David's grief was even greater than Jonathan's." (Revised English Bible)

"...and they kissed one another and wept with one another until David recovered himself." (Revised Standard Version)

The translators of the Living Bible apparently could not handle the thought of two adult men kissing, so they mistranslated the passage by saying that the two men shook hands! This is somewhat less than honest. The original Hebrew text says that they kissed each other and wept together until David became great. The word which means "great" in this passage is "gadal" in the original Hebrew. The same word is used elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures to refer to King Solomon being greater than all other kings. Some theologians interpret "gadal" in this verse as indicating that David had an erection. However, the thoughts of David becoming sexually aroused after kissing Jonathan may have been too threatening for Bible translators. They either deleted the ending entirely or created one of their own.

2 Samuel 1:26

"I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women."

In the society of ancient Israel, it was not considered proper for a man and woman to have a platonic relationship. Men and women rarely spoke to each other in public. Since David's only relationships with women would have been sexual in nature, then he must be referring to sexual love here. It would not make sense in this verse to compare platonic love for a man with sexual love for a woman; they are two completely different phenomenon. It would appear that David is referring to his sexual love for Jonathan. "

It seems that old King David was hanging around with those Athenians just a...touch too long.

And hey, it's simply natural behavior, after all...

Till the next post, then.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-TWO YEARS OF BAD CALLS

Another flashcard in the debates of evolution vs. creationism.

(Hat tip to a poster at Pharyngula for this tip-off)

We've all heard it at one point or another (and if you haven't, just wait: it's the much-awaited 'swan song ' that gets batted around in any online debate when someone claims 'evolution is dying') - turns out it's been around longer than Darwin's theory. 1825, to be exact.

Title of said paper is The Imminent Demise of Evolution: The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism, by one G. R. Morton.

"In recent reading of Dembski and other ID proponents I saw them make a claim which has been made for over 40 years. This claim is one that the young-earthers have been making. The claim is that the theory of evolution (or major supporting concepts for it) is increasingly being abandoned by scientists, or is about to fall. This claim has many forms and has been made for over 178 years. This is a compilation of the claims over time. The purpose of this compilation is two-fold. First, it is to show that the claim has been made for a long, long time. Secondly, it is to show that entire careers have passed without seeing any of this movement away from evolution. Third, it is to show that the creationists are merely making these statements for the purpose of keeping hope alive that they are making progress towards their goal. In point of fact, no such progress is being made as anyone who has watched this area for the last 40 years can testify. The claim is false as history and present-day events show, yet that doesn't stop anyone wanting to sell books from making that claim. Now for the claims in chronological order."

It's actually 182 years, but the publish date is 2002 (albeit there's some obviously later addendums at the bottom, up to 2006).

"1825

"...Physical philosophy, for a long time past, had taken upon itself to deny the truth of the Mosaic statements, and often with much sarcasm, because it assigned a date of not more than about four thousand years ago, for the period of a Revolution which was able to cause marine substances to be imbedded in all parts of this inhabited earth; even in places the most remote from the sea, and in elevations very considerably above its present level. But, the progress of physical research during the last few years, conducted by naturalists of acute and honest minds, has at last terminated in so signal a concession to the testimony of the Mosaical record in this particular; that, added to the authority of Bacon's and Newton's philosophy, it renders that testimony paramount, as the rule by which all inquiries concerning revolutions general to the globe ought henceforth to be conducted. For, the mineral geology has been brought at length, by physical phenomena alone, to these conclusions; 'That the soils of all the plains were deposited in the bosom of a tranquil water; that their actual order is only to be dated from the period of the retreat of that water; that the date of that period is not very ancient; and, that it cannot be carried back above five or six thousand years.'" Granville Penn, Mineral and Mosaic Geologies, Vol. 2, (London: James Duncan, 1825), p. 6"

We all know how that worked out, don't we? The next one is interesting:

"1840

Speaking of the diluvial theories of Granville Penn and the imminent demise of the old earth viewpoint:

"Till within a few years, these two [Neptunism and Huttonism] have been the prevailing system; but another has lately appeared which seems likely, I think, to supercede them: it is called by Mr. Granville Penn, who is its great champion, the MOSAIC GEOLOGY, because it is chiefly derived from the Mosaic History of the Creation and the Deluge." Granville Penn, Conversations on Geology, (London: J. W. Southgate and Son, 1840), p. 38

For those who don't know, Hutton was the predecessor of Charles Lyell and believed in an old earth without a global flood.

Of the concordance of history and the Biblical account:

"As time rolls on, new accessions of proof are unfolded; these will accumulate age by age continually, as Providence lifts the veil, until in the fulness of time, they shall merge into one mighty and irresistible blaze of truth, which will consume all the cobwebs of sophistry, and forever confound the infidel." John Murray, Truth of Revelation, (London: William Smith, 1840), p. xv, xvi"

Read the rest. That's mmm-hmmm, good readin', it is!

I searched on Neptunism and Huttonism. Strange stuff.

"Neptunism is a discredited and obsolete scientific theory of geology proposed by Abraham Werner in the late 18th century that proposed rocks formed from the crystallisation of minerals in the early Earth's oceans."

Apparently, this was in direct opposition to the 'Great Deluge', that long held theory stemming from the bible that the world was covered by a flood (which everyone who has half a mind knows, has been debunked and refuted so thoroughly, only a hopeless romantic would cling to it).

Also, Huttonism is "This paper discusses some controversial petrological ideas, expressed in the geonomic literature of our time.

Origin and evolution of the crust: According to ldquoclassical magmatismrdquo the sialic crust is segregated from the mantle in the course of the Earth's evolution, causing a growth of the continental crust. Arguments against this concept are advanced.

According to ldquoneo-huttonismrdquo the sialic crust developed from the outside in an early phase of the Earth's history. This might have occurred according to the ldquohot-Earthrdquo theory on the origin of our planet (Rittmann), or according to the ldquocold-Earthrdquo theory of cosmogenesis (Urey; Berlage)."

How that conflicts is a mystery I don't feel obliged to root out. I restrict myself to the arcana of religion (that's rich enough in context to keep me blogging for years, no end in sight).

So put this puppy in your back pocket, and...wait for it...THWACK! Right between the eyes.

Imminent demise, my homesick ass.

Anyways, till the next post.

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