left biblioblography: July 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

Profiles In Atheism - The Sanguine Sadist

I'm going to take it on the chin for this one.

In my ongoing efforts to illustrate atheists over the centuries, I have endeavored to keep to the positive spin, since we as a group have so many (imaginary) strikes against us.

However, with any group of people, there are always bad apples, folks we'd like to forget, or pretend never existed.

And, as I've mentioned before, I utterly despise the 'No true Scotsman' fallacy - and what is my motto boys 'n girls? Besides LOOK IT UP?


Double standards absolutely suck the big hairy bird, if I might be so crude. Rules are rules - exceptions might be made for extraordinary circumstance, but they'd best be exceptional.

So I'm going to drag out of the history bins a black eye that no sunglasses can cover.

The Marquis de Sade:

Comte de Sade

The French writer of psychological and philosophical works Donatien Alphonse François, Comte de Sade (1740-1814), was also a libertine, debaucher,pornographer, and sadist - a term derived from his name.

The Marquis de Sade has been traditionally viewed as the greatest incarnation of evil that ever lived. Recently, however, new interpretations of his life and writings have begun to appear. It is now generally agreed that despite his reputation, his works, which were ignored for over a century, must be considered as of the first rank. Sade has been termed the "most absolute writer who has ever lived."

Born on June 2, 1740, to Marie Elénore de Maille de Carman, lady-in-waiting to and relative of the Princess de Condé, and Jean Baptiste Joseph François, Comte de Sade, who traced his ancestry to the chaste Laura of Petrarch's poems, the Marquis de Sade may be the most typical and the most unusual representative of the other side of the Enlightenment, the side at which the philosophes railed.

Very little is known of Sade's life. He graduated from the Colle‧ge de Louis le Grand, was commissioned as a coronet in the French army, and later sold his commission. He was forced to marry the eldest daughter of a leading magisterial family, Renée Pélagie de Montreuil, who bore him three children. Because of his libertinage, which included the seduction of and elopement with his wife's sister, Anne Prospe‧re, he incurred the unending enmity of his mother-in-law, who eventually had him imprisoned in 1781. Sade had tasted imprisonment before for libertinage and indebtedness, and he spent half of his adult life in prisons and asylums. Only three public scandals can be proved against him, and none of these seems to merit the punishment meted out to him, reinforcing his claim that he was an unjust victim of his reputation and others' hatreds.

During the Revolution, Sade was released from prison, served as secretary and president of the Piques section of Paris, and represented it at least once before the National Convention, where he addressed a pamphlet calling for the abolition of capital punishment and the enfranchisement of women. His attitudes and actions gained the hatred of Maximilien de Robespierre, who had him imprisoned (1793). He was saved only by the death of the "Incorruptible." Released in 1794, Sade was arrested in 1801 for being the supposed author of a scandalous pamphlet against Napoleon. He spent the rest of his life at Charenton insane asylum, where he died on Dec. 8, 1814. His best-known books include Justine; ou, Les Malheurs de la vertu (1791) and its sequel, Histoire de Juliette; ou, Les Prospérités du vice (1797).

Thus the life of the Marquis de Sade. Who was he? Why did he acquire the unique reputation he possesses? There are no simple answers regarding the life of any man. For Sade, there is possibly no answer at all. Recent works on his life have justly sought answers in his literary works, and because of this most commentators tend to psychoanalyze him. Although many of these works have offered brilliant insights into the character of the man, none of them is definitive and most treat him out of context, as though his life and aberrations were apart from life. Most Sadean scholars tend to agree that his hostility to religion, to the established social and political order, and to the despotism of existing law was similar in many ways to that of the philosophes. Some writers believe that he carried the beliefs of the philosophes to the rational conclusions, which in the end negated the conclusions and opened for succeeding generations a moral abyss. Others focus on what is termed a philosophy of destruction found in Sade's writings. Sade's atheism is viewed as the first element in a dialectic which destroys divinity through sacrilege and blasphemy and raises to preeminence an indifferent and unfolding nature which destroys to create and creates to destroy. Nature itself is then destroyed by being constantly outraged because it takes on the same sovereign character as God. What emerges is the "Unique One," the man who rises above nature and arrogates to himself the creative and destructive capacities of nature in an extreme form, becoming solitary, alone, unique in the conscious awareness that he is the creative force and all others are but the material through which his energy is expressed.

I find myself somewhat...ambivalent after having read that. I don't share the nihilistic sentiment, but it very much sounds like the man's been maligned in a caricature that's been perptuated over the years. Indeed, the name has (as has been inferred) been associated with unadulterated evil for centuries. As is usual, the facts are often at odds with the rumor. He even rates a brief mention in Barker's Hellraiser (the book, not the multiple movies).

In fact, let's take a closer look at some of his more (in)famous works:

Les 120 Journées de Sodome, written in the Bastille in 1784-5, was first published in 1904. The definitive text was produced in 1931-5 by Maurice Heine, whose work facilitated the passage of Sade's writing from the literary underground to open availability to creative writers (the Surrealists, for example, were already provided with Apollinaire's 1909 anthology of Sade) and scholars in psychology, literary history, and literary criticism. (The appearance in 1990 of the first volume of the Pléiade edition of Sade's complete works marks, as its editors say, the final admission of Sade into the university.) The 120 Journées, which presents the most forbidden subjects in uncensored detail, has not lost its power to shock; it is like a parody of the operations of the well-run modern state: a careful categorization of crimes and perversions, carried out to a strict timetable and set of rules by a brilliantly caricatured group of contemporary authority figures—judges, financiers, churchmen. The institutions of the state thrive in the spaces of individual despotic desire: in the private depths of the family castle, the bodies of the family and the paid servants are the raw material on which tyranny practises.

I suppose I'll have to read it: I've not read anything of Sade's, except a dim memory of the graphic novel of the following (which I put aside in distaste):

Justine ou les Malheurs de la vertu (1791; an expanded version of a text of 1787) is a less hair-raising version of the same theme of the pleasure and power of evil. In this first-person narrative, which inevitably—perhaps in deliberate parody—invites comparison with Voltaire's Candide, the naïve orphan, seeking only to live by an ethic of virtue and kindness, experiences a painful initiation into the logic of a Hobbesian universe. Subjected to a sequence of spectacular rapes and perverted cruelties at the hands of her fellow men and women, Justine, unlike Candide, is denied the chance of a happy ending by a well-aimed, morally indifferent bolt of lightning. In contrast, Justine's sister Juliette, a paradigm of evil, thrives and prospers (La Nouvelle Justine, ou les Malheurs de la vertu, suivie de l'Histoire de Juliette, sa sœur ou les Prospérités du vice, 1797). Juliette, having served and survived her apprenticeship with the most wicked libertines in France, takes off on an early Cook's Tour, spreading death, disease, and immorality through all the antique sites and beauty spots of Western Europe, devastating the cultural inheritance.

Sounds like a wild read.

Aline et Valcour, begun in the Bastille and finally published in 1795, had the merit, according to Sade, of predicting the Revolution, in the scattered references throughout the text to democratic principles and especially in its section on the Utopian kingdom of Zamé. In fact, the centre of the novel is the pleasure of incest: the baron de Blamont and his libertine friends engage in a complex seduction and exchange of daughters, closing the circle of desire.

Small wonder, that he wasn't so popular, n' est-ce pas?

Of the three aforementioned scandals he was convicted of, all three of them are exceedingly disgusting:

This first of his many incarcerations resulted from the violence he meted out to the young Jeanne Testard, whom he had paid to spend the night with him in small rented quarters in Paris which, like a number of aristocrats, the marquis kept for occasional trysts. During his encounter with Testard, the marquis first asked the young woman whether she believed in God, and then proceeded to desecrate a number of crucifixes and other religious objects. He asked the young woman to beat him with a red-hot whip and pressed her to choose the whip with which he would flagellate her.

Uggh! Along with marrying his aunt, and his pedophiliac affiair with a very young teenager in his dotage. Consider my ambivalence utterly demolished.

An unsavory character was the Marquis, filled to the brim with depravity, obviously incapable of anything remotely resembling self-control.

As to his ability with the written word, I will forbear judgment until having listened to his voice.

"Dread not infanticide; the crime is imaginary: we are always mistress of what we carry in our womb, and we do no more harm in destroying this kind of matter than in evacuating another, by medicines, when we feel the need."

"Wolves which batten upon lambs, lambs consumed by wolves, the strong who immolate the weak, the weak victims of the strong: there you have Nature, there you have her intentions, there you have her scheme: a perpetual action and reaction, a host of vices, a host of virtues, in one word, a perfect equilibrium resulting from the equality of good and evil on earth."

"There is no God, Nature sufficeth unto herself; in no wise hath she need of an author."

"Your body is the church where Nature asks to be reverenced."

"Never lose sight of the fact that all human felicity lies in man's imagination, and that he cannot think to attain it unless he heeds all his caprices. The most fortunate of persons is he who has the most means to satisfy his vagaries."

"The primary and most beautiful of Nature's qualities is motion, which agitates her at all times, but this motion is simply a perpetual consequence of crimes, she conserves it by means of crimes only."

"Get it into your head once and for all, my simple and very fainthearted fellow, that what fools call humanness is nothing but a weakness born of fear and egoism; that this chimerical virtue, enslaving only weak men, is unknown to those whose character is formed by stoicism, courage, and philosophy."


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Allegories Gone Wild -Till Death Do Us Part...And Beyond...


Cross posted at God is for Suckers!

More proof that superstition (especially that of the alleged 'afterlife') is hazardous to life and limb.

From the Scotsman:

'Ghost bride' returns to haunt Chinese trio

CHINESE police have arrested three men for killing two young women and selling their corpses as "ghost brides" for dead, single men.

The women were victims of a belief dating back to before the Han dynasty in the highlands of western China that young men and women who die unmarried should go to their graves accompanied by a recently deceased partner to be their spouse in the afterlife.

Yang Donghai, 35, a peasant of Shaanxi province, confessed to killing a woman bought from a poor family for 12,000 yuan (£785) last year, China's Legal Daily reported yesterday. Yang said he was "tricked" into buying the girl, who was mentally handicapped and unable to care for herself.

Realising she was not marriage material for himself, Yang hatched a plan to recover his losses with Liu Shengha, who reportedly told Yang: "Who wants a living person? A dead woman's body still gets a great price in Shanxi."

The two men went to Shanxi to find a buyer, making contact with Li Longsheng, an undertaker whom police said was known for buying and selling dead women for "ghost weddings". Yang and Liu poisoned and then strangled the girl, selling her to Li for 16,000 yuan.

Emboldened by their success, Yang and two accomplices lured a prostitute to an abandoned courtyard where they strangled her and sold her to Li for 8,000 yuan. "I did it for the money; it was a quick buck," Yang said, according to the paper. "I planned to do a few more."

Zhang Zhangyan, the Yan Chuan county police officer, said: "It's a good thing we broke this case when we did, otherwise who knows how many women would have been murdered? These guys found a get-rich-quick scheme."

People on mainland China and Taiwan, and Chinese people throughout Asia, still carry out "ghost marriages".

According to superstition, the unmarried dead will often haunt the living in dreams and can ruin the prosperity of future generations unless their ghosts are wed.

When the Communist Party took control of mainland China in 1949, it sought to eliminate "feudal customs" such as foot-binding and arranged marriages that relegated women.

However, despite decades of rapid political and economic change, many old superstitions persist. And in China - where no method for getting rich is beyond the pale, from the organ trade to mass production of fake medicines - cases such as these may not be rare.

Police in Yanan, the poor and dusty corner of Shaanxi where Chairman Mao Zedong nurtured his Communist revolution, believe there may be many more ghost brides acquired by murder.

Tai Jianlin, the journalist who interviewed Yang, believes this case reveals a dangerous gap between the rich and modernising cities and the poor and often backward countryside.

This is just so incredibly wrong on so many levels, it boggles the mind. For one, it relegates women to property, whether alive or dead. For another, superstition enables the greedy to prey upon the ignorant. For yet another, it allows greed to overcome anything resembling a modicum of decency.

The Asia Times reports, from the same story:

An investigation by Southern Weekly uncovered similar cases of women murdered to be sold as brides in marriages in the afterlife in the provinces of Shanxi and neighboring Shaanxi.

Some have speculated that the murders have been prompted by the mounting death toll in China's mining industry, which has pushed up demand for ghost wives for casualties. In many of the interior provinces where coal is produced in small and unsafe mines, deadly accidents have been happening weekly. China's official tally of coal miners' deaths for 2006 stood at 4,746, or an average of 13 each day.

With so many male miners dying prematurely, there is a booming market for ghost wives, one middleman told Xinjingbao. "If the groom has died in a coal-mine accident, my commission for finding a bride is higher," the man, identified as Wang Zengxi, told the paper.

Coupled with the madness of killing girl children, China will soon be a sausage fest, and the population will drop rapidly.

I call this spiritual necrophilia, which, in truth, extends to the morbid fascinations that enable folks to not only have physical relations with the deceased, but allow them to baptise the dead, mutilate the dead, and yes, even murder innocent bystanders in the name of death.

Each time I read some grotesque new spin on an old scam, the words of Dorothy Parker spring to mind: "What fresh hell is this?"

('Hell', by the way, is another word I refuse to surrender to the theist.)

The sooner we are free of this madness, the better off all of humanity will be.

Because life is too short, and there is no hereafter. Best then, not to run smiling into the arms of mortality.

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Profiles In Atheism: The Jurist of Jurisprudence

Not long ago, I had a theist who kept trying to engage me in a conversation about the is-ought problem (I'm fairly sure the fellow was trying to trap me in the naturalistic fallacy, but it's hard to be sure - he was a slippery clown, to be sure). He kept referring to it as a fallacy, but it's really not...quite that distinct.

He also kept using the word jurisprudence - again, it was unclear as to the inference (I assume it was that it was 'gawd' that had huge ramifications in the Western legal system).

Truth is, I was terribly distracted at the time, and with multiple items to juggle, I shrugged and evaded the issue (between a lack of concern and allocating hours to analyze/view just exactly what the hell he was talking about).

But, as is my wont, I dipped into the subject as my schedule permitted, and one name kept popping up: Jeremy Bentham:

(February 15 , 1748 O.S. (February 26, 1748 N.S.) – June 6, 1832) was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He was a political radical and a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law. He is best known as an early advocate of utilitarianism and animal rights[1][2] who influenced the development of liberalism.

Bentham was one of the most influential utilitarians, partially through his writings but particularly through his students all around the world. These included his secretary and collaborator on the utilitarian school of philosophy James Mill, James Mill's son John Stuart Mill, and several political leaders (and Robert Owen, who later became a founder of socialism).

He argued in favour of individual and economic freedom, including:

He was in support of:

  • Inheritance tax;
  • Restrictions on monopoly power;
  • Pensions; and
  • Health insurance


Bentham was born in Spitalfields, London, into a wealthy Tory family. He was a child prodigy and was found as a toddler sitting at his father's desk reading a multi-volume history of England. He began his study of Latin at the age of three.[5]

He went to Westminster School, and in 1760 his father sent him to The Queen's College, Oxford, where he took his Bachelor's degree in 1763 and his Master's degree in 1766. He trained as a lawyer and (though he never practised) was called to the bar in 1769. He became deeply frustrated with the complexity of the English legal code, which he termed the "Demon of Chicane".

Among his many proposals for legal and social reform was a design for a prison building he called the Panopticon. Although it was never built, the idea had an important influence upon later generations of thinkers. Twentieth-century French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that the Panopticon was paradigmatic of a whole raft of nineteenth-century 'disciplinary' institutions.

Bentham was in correspondence with many influential people. Adam Smith, for example, had opposed free interest rates before Bentham's arguments convinced him on the subject. As a result of his correspondence with Mirabeau and other leaders of the French Revolution, he was declared an honorary citizen of France, but Bentham was an outspoken critic of the revolutionary discourse of natural rights, and of the violence which arose after the Jacobins took power (1792).

In 1823, he co-founded the Westminster Review with John Stuart Mill as a journal for the "Philosophical Radicals" - a group of younger disciples through whom Bentham exerted considerable influence in British public life.[6]

Jeremy Bentham's Auto-Icon in University College London

Bentham is frequently associated with the foundation of the University of London, specifically University College London (UCL), though in fact he was 78 years old when UCL opened in 1826, and played no active part in its establishment. However, it is likely that without his inspiration, UCL would not have been created when it was. Bentham strongly believed that education should be more widely available, particularly to those who were not wealthy or who did not belong to the established church, both of which were required of students by Oxford and Cambridge. As UCL was the first English university to admit all, regardless of race, creed, or political belief, it was largely consistent with Bentham's vision, and he oversaw the appointment of one of his pupils, John Austin, as the first Professor of Jurisprudence in 1829.

He was an odd duck (aren't we all?), as observed in the following snippet:

As requested in his will, his body was preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet, termed his "Auto-icon". Originally kept by his disciple Dr. Southwood Smith,[7] it was acquired by University College London in 1850. The Auto-Icon is kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the College. This has led to the familiar, but untrue story that the Auto-Icon is occasionally brought to meetings of the Council (at which Bentham is listed on the roll as "present but not voting").

The Auto-Icon has always had a wax head, as Bentham's head was badly damaged in the preservation process. The real head was displayed in the same case for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks including being stolen on more than one occasion. It is now locked away securely.

There is a plaque on Queen Anne's Gate, Westminster commemorating the house where Bentham lived, which at the time was called Queen's Square Place.

Yet, according to this account, he was perhaps not so odd:

Bentham was not in the least given to odd. The conditions of his will stand paradoxically to the acts if his long life. Bentham lived the utilitarian principle. He lived/preached that AN ACT IS MORALLY RIGHT IF IT PRODUCES THE GREATEST BALANCE OF PLEASURE (HAPPINESS) OVER PAIN--and each person counted as one. This principle of utilitarianism expressed his singular commitment to the public’s wellbeing. He was a respected public figure life not given to being offensive. Yet in death he violated Victorian sensibilities: bodies endured a church service followed by internment in holy ground--and dissection was a crime. This review of Bentham’s life and teachings reveals how exceptional the cabinet is.

For more on the works and life of this amazing fellow, see here, here, and here is a great quote:

Said Bentham, "There is no pestilence in a state like a zeal for religion, independent of morality."* One of the founders of the philosophy of Utilitarianism, and a mentor to John Stuart Mill, in private Bentham was candid about his Atheism: he called Christianity "Jug" or "Juggernaut" in unpublished manuscripts.** With English historian George Grote he wrote Analysts of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind (1822), under the pseudonym "Philip Beauchamp," a work in which both attacked religion and professed Atheism.

And one more for the road (alas, I can't find Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion On the Temporal Happiness online for free - so if you're intrigued, guess you'll have to order it, sorry):

“No power of government ought to be employed in the endeavor to establish any system or article of belief on the subject of religion.

. . . in no instance has a system in regard to religion been ever established, but for the purpose, as well as with the effect of its being made an instrument of intimidation, corruption, and delusion, for the support of depredation and oppression in the hands of governments.”
-- Jeremy Bentham, Constitutional Code



Sunday, July 22, 2007

What Happens With A Proper Exegesis? Exit, Jesus.

(Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!)p17_exegesis

"Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived." - Isaac Asimov

"So the universe is not quite as you thought it was. You'd better rearrange your beliefs, then. Because you certainly can't rearrange the universe." - Isaac Asimov, Nightfall

There is no doubt that we've all heard that nonsense, the 'prophecies concerning Jesus', in various guises in the blogging world.

I've pretty much slaughtered this whole nonsense, and torn some Old Testament folderol into confetti. Oh, and lest I forget, I pretty much trashed the entire New Testament, in accordance with the book's own rules. (For those interested in my amateur exegesis that lead me to where I'm at today, my personal 'trilogy' that grants some insight can be found at one, two and three - but be forewarned: they're somewhat on the long-winded side, but I fancy them entertaining.)

These would be mind-boggling feats, except that

A. It's been done before, and
B. it's fairly easy, for anyone with any sort of a critical mind. (I mean, really! Christians snort and scoff at others, yet don't realize that their miserable little fairy tales are just as outrageous.)

And the patterns are fairly predictable. We hear about the 'odds' about these alleged 'prophecies' coming true, yet we're criticized when we point out how these allusions are taken completely out of context. Then the claim is that we're the ones who are quote-mining (talk about Tu Quoque!).

And for my efforts, I've been deemed 'evil'. I must confess, my favorite is the old 'retreat behind the trilemma' tactic (which is, of course, easily debunked by adding a fourth option: LEGEND). This is usually a tactic used when the 'logic' of the elocutor is sliced to ribbons by the audience (that is to say, when a creationist comes into an atheist blog and starts babbling in tongues, claiming the world's only X amount of years old, you know the drill).

Religion seems to be a form of voluntary hemispherectomy - a form of voluntary lobotomy where logic is disabled, and the naturalistic fallacy (or a form thereof) is engaged.

It is to weep, sometimes.

It is a world of wonder we live in: there is no need for supernatural fairy tales to awe us into submission. The universe is wild, wooly place indeed. Chock full of mysteries, replete with content enough to fill our lives and eyes. Who then requires a divine hand to stir the pot?

Not I.

Till the next post, then.


Friday, July 20, 2007

And Here I Thought I Had NO Defects....

Hat tip to Professor Myers for this gem (composed by Saint Gasoline).

Ah, perfection is perpetually out of reach. The concept of perfection, by the way, makes me think of Humes' is-ought problem, the variation being, I ought to be perfect (?), as opposed to the way I am.

Perfection is a fool's game - there has never been, nor will there ever be, a creature that is perfect. Because the criterion is entirely subjective.

Enough of my rattling on: here's the test scores.

Your Score: Hand-Raiser

You are 85% Rational, 85% Extroverted, 28% Brutal, and 28% Arrogant.

You are the Hand-Raiser, that annoying kid in class who always had an answer for everything. No doubt, as a child you probably sat in the front of the class, anxiously waving your hand back and forth in the air while your teacher desperately tried to avoid calling on you because you were the ONLY fucking kid that answered her questions. Clearly, the key traits of your personality are your rationality and your extroversion. You are like a little talkative calculator, in other words. You also tend to be rather gentle and less arrogant than most people. Your presence is a bane to everyone's existence, because you are too nice for your own good and you absolutely will not shut up. So what is your defect, then? Well, you're boring, and when you're not boring, you are just plain annoying with your ultra-logical responses and constant need to talk to others. So keep waving that hand in the air, son. I'm still not calling on you. You are too logical, you talk too much, and your humility and gentleness only makes me hate you more, because they make me feel like I almost SHOULDN'T hate you. But I do. Big time. And by the way, the more you wave your hand in class--your extended hand becoming nothing more than a blur as you insanely wave it, thinking we can't see it--the more smug satisfaction the teacher takes in watching the look of excruciating pain cross your face as you agonize over not being called on, and the longer we'll wait to call on you, just because we absolutely love torturing you so.

To put it less negatively:

1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.

2. You are more EXTROVERTED than introverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.


Your exact opposite is the Brute.

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Braggart, the Haughty Intellectual, and the Robot.



If you scored near fifty percent for a certain trait (42%-58%), you could very well go either way. For example, someone with 42% Extroversion is slightly leaning towards being an introvert, but is close enough to being an extrovert to be classified that way as well. Below is a list of the other personality types so that you can determine which other possible categories you may fill if you scored near fifty percent for certain traits.

The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

Be sure to take my Sublime Philosophical Crap Test if you are interested in taking a slightly more intellectual test that has just as many insane ramblings as this one does!

Here's my issue with this specific test - it assumes the adage of 'give me the boy at ten, I'll give you the man at forty'. Rest assured, I'm nowhere near being the same individual in my pre-teens. I was a scared little rabbit then: I'm closer to a bear or a tiger now. Or so I'd like to fancy.



Sunday, July 15, 2007

Allegories Gone Wild - The Arm Of Gord Smites Mightily The Feeble Of Mind...


(Cross-posted at God is for Suckers)

The dark underbelly of the 'holy bible' contains numerous warts, boils, and cancerous tumors, inflicted by that loathsome grimoire of madness.

The CSA is one shining example of how racism, religion, and lack of education turns ordinary people into the walking wounded.


"The founder of the CSA was a polygamist, James Ellison, who was jailed for a period of time, along with his 'high priest' Kerry Noble in federal prison. Robert G. Millar became one of his spiritual advisers, who was the founder of Elohim City. He was also mentored by Richard Butler of the Aryan Nations and Robert Miles, founder of The Mountain Church in Cohoctah, Michigan. Both extreme right leaders taught and practiced the sect of Christian Identity, a religion the FBI yet has on its watch list as an 'extremist religion'. Ellison had very close ties to the KKK and the Northern Idaho group, Aryan Nations, in Hayden, Idaho, led by Richard Butler *. Miles had a very active prison ministry and newsletter, relating mostly to the violent white Aryan groups, of which there are many, most notably, the Aryan Brotherhood. The image here is neo-Nazi racists. After Ellison was released from prison, he moved to Elohim City, where he married Millar's granddaughter."

It's 'All In The Family' meets Charlie Manson. More info on these charming folks:


"The CSA was an organization that believed doomsday was imminent, and the 250-acre compound that was set up in Elijah became a community for its members. There they trained their members in paramilitary operations. The group strongly believed in white supremacy, and held a particularly strong sense of anti-Semitism. Like the other prominent extreme right groups, they referred to the United States Government as ZOG, for Zionist Occupied Government. Contrary to the ambitions of The Order, they professed that the United States government would dissolve from its own corruption. The military leader of the group, who used the name Randall Rader during his stay at CSA, left the group in a rift with Ellison and joined a newly forming group in Idaho called "The Order". It was The Order that declared war on the United States government in a 21 page declaration. Virtually all of the members of that group have been imprisoned on felony charges ranging from robbery to murder. Its founder, Robert Jay Matthews, died in a fiery shoot-out on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle. Matthews signature poem was:

"Lay down your bibles and pick up a gun

It's time to deal in lead.

We are the armies of the damned

The soldiers of the already dead!"

Oh, wow, these wackadoos got it all. Racism, conspiracy theorists, anti-Semitism, anti-government, survivalist ethics...I may run out of fingers and toes to count how crazy these assholes are.

Unwilling to sit on their hands and wait for the apocalypse, they decided to take matters into their own hands:


"After it was set up, the CSA began targeting local and federal agents, including the sheriff who participated in the later siege on the organization's compound and the U.S. Attorney, Asa Hutchinson, who would negotiate a peaceful conclusion to the siege and later prosecute CSA members. CSA assassins would monitor the homes of their targets and actually practice mock assassinations of the targets with scoped rifles and practiced attacks in a mock "Combat City". The perimeter of the CSA compound had 100, 200, and 300 yard indicator plates nailed to trees to allow the defenders to adjust their sights accordingly to engage attackers. The central rallying point in the event of attack was a concrete bunk house that housed the communications radios next to the 95 foot tower, which itself, was constructed for defense. The perimeter of the compound had built-in bunkers for one to three men and each was numbered as a post and assigned to individuals as an 'area of responsibility'."

Disturbed is too mild an adjective for these clowns, I think.


Possible ties to the Oklahoma City Bombing

"There are several claims that the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City Bombing was tied to the 'New Day' teachings of Elohim City. No proof, however, has ever been established. Elohim City was assembled for the purpose of gathering 'prophets of the New Day'. Robert Millar envisioned himself to be the 'Shepard of Shepards' traveling to numerous alternate societies, many of whom were and remain, communes. His ambition as a charismatic Christian leader, was to unite these 'underground' organizations. He appeared several times at the Padanaram Settlement, in southern Indiana, but contrary to reports, members of the Padanaram Settlement did not concur with the radical calling of either Millar or Ellison who made two appearances there. 'The Valley' was and remains known more as a cultural hub for artists and philosophers and until roughly 2003, operated the largest deciduous hardwood sawmill in five states. Timothy McVeigh was tied to several radical religious organizations, however, McVeigh was not yet exposed to the charismatic messages of these groups in his early teen youth and was just joining the Army when the CSA compound was sieged and broken up. Also, the Oklahoma City Bombing occurred very close to the 10-year anniversary of the siege of the CSA compound. But the most plausible link is that Richard Wayne Snell, who was executed on the day of the bombing, had planned a similar attack on the Murrah building in 1983 after becoming upset with the IRS. Not only that, but Snell was heard taunting jailers that something drastic would happen on the day of his execution. It is plausible that McVeigh may have been mentored by Snell since Snell frequented gun shows, a CSA practice until shortly before Snell made active contact with the group he is documented to have been a part of. Of itself, that is understandable since he hid out there between pawn shop robberies. He did not, however, reside on the property. CSA considered him to be a 'Patron'. Shortly after McVeigh was released from the Army he became very active at gun shows. "

End Snip.

There's more here via the ADL - it's a veritable cornucopia of craziness.

This then, is yet another symptom of how religion ruins people. It poisons the mind, and saturates it with delusion. The aftermath of self-loathing generated by some anachronistic Bronze Age tome that teaches its followers that humanity is naught but evil children, always worthy of punishment (and more to come, if draconian rules are not kept), and that the 'maturer' of said evil children are the arbitrators of worthiness.

And of course, the argument from the other side is, as always, "They're not with us!"

The sooner it's gone, the better off our species will be.

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Will Be Incommunicado For The Next Day Or So...

...as my room is getting painted. It may be 24 hours (likely) or more till I can respond to comments, chit-chat, or even post something.
In the meantime, there is a wealth (less than a small fortune, more than a piggy bank's worth) of content, so feel free to read, cavort naked amongst the metaphorical lilies, have discussions among yourselves, as you please.
Normal programming will resume shortly. We thank you for your patience.
(I always hate that announcement: as if you've a CHOICE in being patient?).


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Reclaiming The Rites Of Passage

(Cross-posted at God is for Suckers!)

"A funeral is a pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by enriching the undertaker." - Ambrose Bierce


A recent post by a dear friend of mine, Beep!Beep! It's Me, about the topic of marriage, started me weary old brain cells a-percolatin'.

It has occurred to me, that the religious have not only co-opted our language, but have also hijacked those moments in our lives that speak of transition.

Momentous transitions in our lives, from beginning to bonding to end, are viewed overall as requiring some religious institution to oversee them.

Baptisms, to mark birth. Weddings, to mark marriage. Funerals, to provide closure for the grieving.

So many have been brainwashed into viewing any and all rites of passage as needing an obligatory nod from on high.

When indeed, not only marriage, but funereal rites and the welcoming of a new child into the world are as old as our species, long before those ugly monolithic monotheisms came shambling along and dug their metaphorical tentacles into the pulse of humanity.

We are creatures that yearn for structure, and long for routine. A ritual need not be religious in content for it to do us good. Even though the word rite is religious by definition. That, for the record, is another word I'm co-opting, and anyone who doesn't like it can go take a flying leap.

So I say, we reclaim the rites of passage. No, no padre at the funeral, thanks. Baptisms? No thanks. Circumcision? Fahgetaboutit! Church wedding? I can't go into a church, since my skin starts sizzling like a steak on a grill when I enter one (oops! Shouldn't oughta let that slip, ssshhh! Don't tell anyone!).

So spread the word, let it sound, shout it from the rooftops, spray it on a wall, or whisper it in someone's ear. Let it be heard:

We want our rites back. Free of the shackles of superstition, free of the fear, free of the whispers of old ghosts that never were.

And I, for one, shall not say please.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

An Octagon Of Ontology

My friend Chris Bradley at Deeply Blasphemous tagged me recently  - and no sooner had I blinked and said, "Huh?", then my good friend Stardust at Thoughts For the Open Minded tagged me with the same meme.

It seems to be that these memes are mushrooming. Not long ago (I recall), it was usually a list of five. Now it's up to eight. I've noted that other bloggers are being tagged far more often (with the same meme) than me.

So I've given it some thought (and trust you me, I've shared so very much with you all, it's been some deliberation indeed - a Herculean effort to remain original), here's yet more to add to anyone's gossip hoard (although, if you're gossiping about me, then I suggest a few more hobbies: I'm really rather a regular fellow in most respects, and my antics are unlikely to garner a mention in a supermarket tabloid, I'll warrant):

First, the rules.

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

So, now, on to the meat of the meme:

1. I have what can best be described as neurotic eating habits. That is to say, I eat each item separately, in a specific order. If I have potatoes, vegetables, and meat on my plate, I eat them respectively like that. Desert is almost always the afterthought. Bread, usually after the plate (or salad, if served separately). I eat cookies in even numbers, and certain foods are consumed at certain times. I stick to a schedule, and am not a huge snacker (as of late, I eat two sticks of string cheese at work).

2. I have a bugaboo about wasting food. It's the closest thing I can think of to a sin, to waste it. I get in high dudgeon if people start joking about food fights. Unless you've gone hungry (and been hungry for a while), that'll be hard to understand.

3. I get weepy when I watch movies or TV shows where a character sacrifices him/herself to save others. I may be a guy (time for a rendition of "I'm a man, a big fucking man, a manly man, I do MANLY things"), but it's not emasculating to weep - case in point:
I'm working my way through Farscape - Season 2, and I just watched 'My Three Crichtons', where an alien probe tries to take a sample of Crichton, and is interrupted. The result is three Crichtons - an atavism, modern day, and extremely evolved. Turns out the least evolved of them (the caveman version) could see the solution to the imminent destruction of Moya. Call me a big softie, but something about altruism gets me a bit choked up.

4. I actually like doing windows - both the OS and the actual physical act. The former is the surfeit of tools/doo-dads that make life easier (though I've gotten past the 'ooh, let's install THAT' phase, as it's too costly), and the latter? Well, you can see what kind of job you've done. I find crystal clarity enchanting on multiple levels, I guess. That, and it's hard to argue with results.

5. I'm fairly careless about my own possessions as a rule, but extremely careful about others'. Example: I haven't ever balanced my own checkbook. However, if my job entails balancing someone else's, it'd be to the penny, you betcha. I tend to be somewhat less object-oriented than most people (you computer programmers can have fun with that one all you like, at my expense) - I've found that material possessions, like most items, are ephemeral at best. So I don't get all engrossed over what's mine as opposed to what's someone else's. For example, I've been rear-ended a couple of times at stop lights, but I don't turn into some raving lunatic when it happens. I tend to shrug it off.

6. I have mentioned this before, but I'm extremely empathic. Almost to a fault. I recently hit a squirrel on a freeway - I still feel bad about it. I hate hurting anything, if I can help it.

7. I'm an extremely generous lover. Yeah, every guy makes that claim, but I got references, I tell ya! A woman's cries of pleasure are one of the biggest aphrodisiacs for me. The noisier you are, the more you're going to get, baby. (In the voice of Barry White): "Wanna see my love resume, baby?" Passion's a byword for me, a way to live, a way to be, a way to...you can figure out the rest.

8. I talk to myself. This seems to get commoner every day (for everyone, I mean). I am capable of silence, both internal as well as external (wouldn't be much of a Tai Chi player now, would I?), but I am just such a garrulous fellow, sometimes I just gotta talk to someone. Sometimes, I rehearse what I'm going to say, sometimes I just crack myself up, other times it's just entertainment value. I maintain that it's all right to talk to yourself, and equally okay to answer yourself: however, if you end up beating yourself up over the disagreement, therapy might be advised (you may laugh, but I've seen an example or two where someone actually was hitting themselves while jabbering like a monkey).

There. I've shared much of myself with my beloved readers. I could go into detail about many, many other mundane details, but eight is stretching it just a bit, ere the eyeballs go glazed.

As to rules #4 and 5: I'm going to opt out here, and do the lazy thing. Please feel free to go tag yourself (and I say that in the least derogatory manner). Almost everyone I know has been tagged more than once (though I've not yet seen any bloggers tag themselves), so please take it upon yourself/selves to participate (void where prohibited, hehehehe).

Any questions?

Till the next post, then.


I began thinking after the post, and realized that not EVERYBODY I know has been tagged. So, without further ado, I hereby tag -

The Grecian beauty, Toomanytribbles
Atheist in a Minivan
The Watcher
The right Rev. Jenner J. Hull


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Profiles In Atheism - The Principled Patriot


When I was nineteen,
I joined up with the reserves
And I fought on weekends
paid my college tuition
But out in the killing fields,
you come to question all you learn
is peace the truth
a universal truth
or some man made superstition
- 'Kiss The Sun'

This July 4th, I am going to pull a profile from the present, rather than the nostalgic trips into previous centuries, and present you all with an actual 'atheist in a foxhole' and a true patriot: Pat Tillman.

Truthfully, when I first heard about this (Tillman's abandonment of his professional sports career for the military), I didn't think very highly of it. Of course, that was the typical American snapshot judgment in action (I'm as prey to it as anyone else, I fear).

As is standard, there's far more beneath the surface than most know.

"At one point in his NFL career, Tillman turned down a five-year, $9 million contract offer from the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals."

(I'm no sports buff, can barely them - but loyalty is an attribute I can understand, and respect.)

Pat and his brother Kevin abandoned their respective sports careers to serve in the armed forces.

His political views?

"The September 25 2005 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reported that Tillman held views which were critical of the Iraq war and did not support President Bush's re-election. According to Tillman's mother, a friend of Tillman had arranged a meeting with Noam Chomsky, to take place after his return from Afghanistan. Chomsky confirmed this [12]. The article also reported that Tillman urged a soldier in his platoon to vote for John Kerry in the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. [13] However this could not be independently verified due to his death in Afghanistan."

This of course, does not necessitate that he was a liberal: I'm sure there's a few moderate conservatives who hold these views.

'Religious' beliefs:

Tillman's religious beliefs are not totally clear, although by accounts, he was not religious. According to speakers at his funeral, he was very well-read, having read a number of religious texts including the Bible, Quran and Book of Mormon as well as transcendentalist authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau; his younger brother Rich stated that he "isn't with God... He wasn't religious."[14] Another article quotes him as having told then-general manager of the Seattle Seahawks Bob Ferguson in December 2003 that "you know I'm not religious".[15]

A few snippets, from alternate sources:


"But in the meantime, a recent ESPN.com exposé by Mike Fish aired an interview with Kauzlarich, who was the “cross commander” of the Rangers in Khoust, Afghanistan, in April 2004.  Kauzlarich, in a stunning display of Christian empathy, blamed the family for continuing to ask questions about the circumstances of Pat’s death, and suggested that the reason they’d found no closure was that infidels such as themselves (the Tillmans did not belong to a church), when they die, are only “worm dirt.”

Mrs. Tillman's response (via Thefutureofthebook):

Well, this guy makes disparaging remarks about the fact that we're not Christians, and the reason that we can't put Pat to rest is because we're not Christians," Mary Tillman, Pat's mother, said in an interview with ESPN.com. Mary Tillman casts the family as spiritual, though she said it does not believe in many of the fundamental aspects of organized religion.

And it's rumored that Richard Tillman spoke at his brother's funeral, and said:

"And after listening to officials talk about Pat being with God, Richard spoke at the memorial and said, “Pat isn’t with God. He’s fucking dead. He wasn’t religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.”

How much the 'atheist card' has played into the cover-up over Tillman's death via 'friendly fire' will be the subject of much ruminations over the next few decades, there is no doubt.

What makes this different? Well, I think there's enough evidence that he was at the very least an agnostic. He also signed up on the side of his country, regardless of his own stand on the issues. There was a thing that needed to be done, however distasteful it may have been (and that is pure speculation on my part), and he stepped up to the plate.

I am also no large fan of the fact that we require any military force in order to protect our country - but the need is there, and will be for quite some time. Until that day when all arms are laid down, when one-eyed stares are no longer a requirement of countries to protect themselves, when the concept of peace is no longer some abstract theory with nuances abounding. Till that day comes, we are indebted to our servicemen (and women) for their willingness to lay down their lives to keep us safe.

And so, I salute his bravery and his principles, and that strength of character that had no religious underpinnings to prop it up (because in truth, courage in an afterlife is no courage at all: it's not even remotely courageous to sacrifice oneself if the base is that there is a hereafter).

In memoriam: Pat Tillman. Regardless of how he met his end, he gave of himself without the promise of rewards post-mortem.



Monday, July 02, 2007

Allegories Gone Wild - The Badges of Blood

This is bizarre, and yet, a phenomenon most of us have heard of.

It is no newsflash, that the bible abounds with blood rites. From the fable of Cain and Able to that alleged sacrifice that 'expunged' humanity of 'original sin'.

While the current crop of modern Christians are less violent than say, the Aztecs of old or the hairy-eyed fanatics of Islam, still, I wonder at the ability to dismiss many of the brutalities that plague their 'history'.

I find the apologia devoted to this...unsettling.

Herein, we look at an allegory taken to literal heights, to an introversive self-flagellance that shakes any empathic being to their core, since the practitioners are inflicting it on themselves.

I speak, of course, of that grotesque practice of stigmata:

"Stigmata are the wounds of Christ as reproduced in a human body. Visible stigmata are frequently located in both hands and both feet, and on the right side of the chest, replicating the sites of Christ's wounds, which he showed to the disciples in his post-resurrection appearances (Luke 24: 36-40 and John 20: 19-29). The most famous of the stigmatics, St Francis of Assisi, received the stigmata in these places. Occasionally wounds on the head, in the shape of a crown (copying the crown of thorns), and marks on either shoulder (representing the carrying of the cross and scourging) are evidence of stigmata too. Stigmata might also be invisible, marked by the pain of wounds in the classic places, or alternately invisible and visible. St Catherine of Sienna received the stigmata of the five wounds in a vision but asked God to make them disappear, after which she experienced only the pain of the wounds."

This is one of those illusions that delude the masses: who would want this visited upon them? There's more:

"The appearance of stigmata varies greatly. Stigmata have ranged from the nail imprints of St Francis' wounds — for which Francis consequently required bandages to cover the protruding nail shapes so that he might use his hands and feet (though he had no bandages from Thursday evening to Saturday morning in order that he might share Christ's Good Friday suffering) — to cuts of varying length and depth, blisters, and scabs of dried blood. Bleeding or manifestation of the stigmata might in some cases be continual while in other cases occur only periodically — for example, in Lent and Holy Week, or on particular days of the week, especially Fridays or Good Friday. In the case of Padre Pio, the twentieth-century stigmatic, his hands bled lightly but almost continually, soaking the gloves he wore, and the wound in his chest produced a cup of blood each day."

Why on earth any loving deity would inflict this on its 'children' is an eye-roller.

"Stigmata are often accompanied by other bodily phenomena such as pain, blood, sweats, levitations, or even lameness or blindness, and they quite often occur in people who are already ill or are voluntarily abstaining from food for religious reasons. Many of the women nuns and saints who fasted and/or existed on the host alone, in late medieval and early modern Europe, received the stigmata, such as St Catherine of Sienna, who fasted — except for eating the blessed host — for eight years. Stigmatics often receive religious visions or ecstasies, having visions of Christ and various saints, and also ‘re-living’ or seeing parts of Christ's passion and sharing in his suffering.
Stigmata seem to have begun to appear only in the thirteenth century, with the growing popularity of the imitation of Christ, especially the suffering Christ, in patterns of piety and devotional life. Of some 330 recorded cases of persons receiving the stigmata, only about 60 of those have been made saints. The official Roman Catholic position towards stigmata has always been rather guarded."

Levitations? I'll need some sort of filmed evidence, and a team of debunkers. Note that there's a causal relationship here.

"It seems that the vast majority of stigmatics have been women. In the case of the late medieval and early modern female religious, their receiving the stigmata has been interpreted as one of a number of experiences or phenomena, including fasting and other forms of asceticism, by which women participated in the imitation of Christ. Through their bodies they could share in the suffering of Christ, who in his body suffered to save humankind, and by the signs of their suffering, such as the stigmata, they gained access to power and authority, not by virtue of office (which was denied them) but through experience. In the modern period, female stigmatics have been consistently subjected to medical testing, in the quest for authenticity, and there is an abundance of medical evidence for stigmatics, such as Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), Louise Lateau (1850-83), and the early twentieth-century Teresa Neumann. In nineteenth-century France especially, this kind of medical testing of female bodies by male doctors bears some comparison with Charcot's study of hysteria, especially as stigmatics and hysterics were seen to share some of the same pathologies or symptoms. In both cases the body was seen to hold the ‘truth’. A medical doctor, Imbert-Gourbeyre, visited and examined as many of the nineteenth-century stigmatics as he could, as well as examining and compiling evidence about other unusual religious phenomena such as the miracles reported at Lourdes, and his medical study of 1894, La Stigmatisation, I'extase divine, les miracles de Lourdes, illustrates very well this sort of approach."

Something about the larger percentile being women nags me - can you spot the connection? There's a perfectly rational explanation here, and I shall provide it, from the link supplied:

"One difficulty in assessing the strictly Christian spiritual value of stigmatization is due to the perception that some stigmatics have not been especially religious. Moreover similar phenomena have been reported of Islamic ascetics, who appear to have reproduced the wounds received by Muhammed the Prophet in spreading the message of Islam. Experiments with posthypnotic suggestion have shown that burns, blisters, and similar wounds may be produced on the body as a result of strong suggestion, and it is possible that some cases of stigmatization resulted from conscious or unconscious self-hypnosis."

And another snippet:

"Similarly self-inflicted wounds can be associated with certain mental illnesses. Some people who fake stigmata suffer from Munchausen syndrome which is characterized by an intense desire for attention. People with Munchausen hurt themselves or fake an illness hoping to end up in a hospital where they can be given attention and care."

Only some? It seems that some individuals' need for attention is rather...extreme.

Skeptics also point out that stigmata have appeared on hands in some cases, wrists in others, and the lance wound has appeared on different sides of the body. This suggests some form of internally generated phenomena, based on the victim's own imagination and subjective in character, rather than something of external divine origin. It is unknown, either through the gospels or other historical accounts, whether crucifixion involved nails being driven through the hands, or wrists, or what side the lance pierced Christ's body, and this would appear to be reflected in the inconsistent placement of stigmatists' wounds. However Roman Crucifixions involved the nails driven through the ulna and radias gap, being just medial to the wrist.

It should be noted, however, that many stigmatics have wounds piercing the palms of their hands, which may be associated with the common conception of Christ hanging on the cross (this is visible in much of Christian imagery). Many studies have suggested, however, that it would have been impossible for Jesus to have been suspended on the cross by his hands - it would have been a physical impossibility for the hands to support the entire weight of the body without breaking through the fragile bones in the human hand. These studies further suggest that Christ's arms would have to have been nailed to the cross by his wrists in order to be able to support the weight. A new study and documentary called "Quest for Truth: The Crucifixion" on the National Geographic Channel has shown that a person can be suspended by the wrists. However, the study also claims the palms are a likely place for the nails to be driven, as it would cause the maximum amount of pain and trauma, and the victim would be tied to the cross to support the weight. [6]

Some studies, however, suggest that if a foot-stool were placed on the cross, as depicted in Christian imagery, the body would be able to be supported.

A little more info, and the picture becomes clearer:

"Similarly, no case of stigmata is known to have occurred before the thirteenth century, when the crucified Jesus became a standard icon of Christianity in the west.[7]. "

So, thirteen centuries had to pass, for anyone to qualify? Hmmm...

"Some believe that the condition can be explained by 'frontier science' such as with the unexplained phenomena of the mind exerting physical effects on the body.[1] There have been claims that non-religious people under deep hypnosis, when told that they had a crown of thorns on their heads cutting into their flesh (in the manner similar to Christ), have had bleeding welts appear on their foreheads even when nothing had come into contact with the skin. Thus, if this is true, the effects have been inflicted by the mind onto the body. Other accounts of this strong mind-body connection have been observed and documented in experiments such as the case in which heart disease patients were administered a placebo pill, but told that it was a new 'super-medicine', and their conditions noticeably improved. It is thought by some that the deep trance-like state which deeply religious people claim to go into mimics this type of hypnosis, and the extremely strong and vivid impressions of the wounds and suffering are somehow transmitted from the mind to the body. This also fits with the fact that stigmata were first observed at around the time when graphic detail of the crucifixion started to appear in Christian art, making the wounds and suffering easier to comprehend and imagine in the minds of observers of the art. "

Oh wow, so it's all in their minds.

In his paper Hospitality and Pain, iconoclastic Christian theologian Ivan Illich touches on the phenomenon of stigmata with characteristic terseness: "Compassion with Christ... is faith so strong and so deeply incarnate that it leads to the individual embodiment of the contemplated pain." His thesis is that stigmata result from exceptional poignancy of religious faith and desire to associate oneself with the suffering Messiah."

In conclusion, the human mind is a wondrous thing indeed, capable of physically marking the body with wounds, causing blood to pour forth, and taking the flagellant's need for pain to new, bizarre heights.

The evidence keeps mounting: religion propounds that we love our neighbors, and yet hate ourselves to such a degree, that we should be willing to not only be punished simply for existing, but that we even punish ourselves. And for those who are suffering from scars on their psyches, they take it to an extreme that boggles the mind and startles the rest of us to our cores.

This paradox of self-loathing is one more nail in the coffin of this anachronism.

We need to exorcise this demon from our midst, raise our species from the mire of mystic madness, and put our feet back on solid ground.

Till the next post, then.