2/15/2006 Religion / Physics. $1,000 callenge to prove the Earth revolves around the Sun.
"The Geocentrism Challenge. CAI will write a check for $1,000 to the first person who can prove that the earth revolves around the sun. (If you lose, then we ask that you make a donation to the apostolate of CAI). Obviously, we at CAI don't think anyone CAN prove it, and thus we can offer such a generous reward. In fact, we may up the ante in the near future."
You can submit your "proofs" to our e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. We will then offer a response. Both your "proof" and our response will be posted on the CAI science page at our website. ... CAI will be the sole judge of whether you have successfully proven your case. But since CAI is built on its reputation of honesty and truthfulness, rest assured that if you do indeed prove your case, you will be rewarded the money.
Now a word of caution. By "proof" we mean that your explanations must be direct, observable, physical, natural, repeatable, unambiguous and comprehensive. We don't want hearsay, popular opinion, "expert" testimony, majority vote, personal conviction, organizational rulings, superficial analogies, appeals to "simplicity," "apologies" to Galileo, or any other indirect means of persuasion which do not qualify as scientific proof.
The $1,000 Challenge will go on indefinitely. So, if you're up for the challenge, take your best shot! Some may be tempted to say, "Oh this silly. Everyone knows the earth goes around the sun. What is CAI trying to prove, anyway?! What difference does it make?" Well here's the long and short answer to that question. It directly effects how you view God, Scripture, the Church and Modern Man." - catholic
Direct proof of anything is impossible due to the nature of consiousness. However, the rotation of the Earth around the Sun is proveable to the same degree that the Sun still exists at night. If they will offer a proof acceptable to them that the Sun exists at night, I will prove that the Earth revolves around it. I emailed them today. I doubt I'll get a reply.Here is a person's answer, and another which was rejected. Here's one to check out. It is nice to get people thinking!
2/6/2006 Strange Happenings / Religion. God must change his name.
"A US man who signs himself "God" has been told to use his real name by 14 February - or lose his driving licence. Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation told Paul Sewell, 40, he must surrender his licence if he cannot provide proper identification. A week ago Berks County Elections Board questioned Sewell's "God" signature on a voter registration form. ... He said he couldn't see why his signature was a problem: "I have a credit card with it." Mr Sewell called on a Berks County court to intervene after receiving the department of transport letter on Tuesday. He said: "I do not know why they are cancelling my driver's licence that I have had at age 16. Now I am 40." Mr Sewell signed his appeal "God". - bbc
1/11/2006 Religion. Indonesians make ATM sacrifices
"On Tuesday Muslims across the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, the Islamic day of sacrifice. Every Muslim who is rich enough is supposed to donate an animal to be slaughtered, and the meat is donated to the poor. Sourcing the ideal beast can be time-consuming, but in Indonesia help is at hand. There is now an easy alternative - you can buy an animal at your nearest ATM machine. ... A senior Muslim leader contacted by the BBC said he thought it was in accordance with Islam, but he added that unless you witnessed the slaughter first-hand and donated the meat personally, the religious experience would never be the same. " - bbc
Actually, with regard to animals, god specifically requested "laughter". The "s" got tacked on due to a mistranslation and now some people think they are supposed to "slaughter" animals. It's all a big misunderstanding.
1/3/2006 Religion. Prove Christ exists, judge orders priest
"AN ITALIAN judge has ordered a priest to appear in court this month to prove that Jesus Christ existed. The case against Father Enrico Righi has been brought in the town of Viterbo, north of Rome, by Luigi Cascioli, a retired agronomist who once studied for the priesthood but later became a militant atheist.
... Cascioli, author of a book called The Fable of Christ, began legal proceedings against Father Righi three years ago after the priest denounced Signor Cascioli in the parish newsletter for questioning Christ's historical existence." - timesuk
12/21/2005 Religion. There is no "Jesus". Name was a mistranslation.He took it all too far, but boy could be play guitar. Oh, and Yeshua was black, some say.
... Yeshua is a Hebrew name which has been transliterated into Greek as Iesous ( IhsouV : pronounced "ee-ay-SUS"). The English "Jesus" comes from the Latin transliteration of the Greek name into the Latin Iesus .
... Yeshua was one of the most common male names in that period ... Nearly one out of ten persons known from the period was named Yeshua." - naz
12/19/2005 Religion / Strange Happenings. Christians strip to build a new Eden
"... After two years of biblical debate over Adam and Eve and their fig leaves and whether or not nudity is sinful, a 67-year-old Quaker grandfather is preparing to open a modern-day Garden of Eden 40 miles north of Tampa, Florida.
... Bill Martin's ambitious plan for a 200-acre Christian- oriented Family Naturist Village has survived legal challenges, doctrinal disputes and a plague of internet prudes. Land is now being cleared for the opening next year of what may become the world's only Christian community to feature nude volleyball.
... Much of his group's philosophy appears in a book, Nakedness and the Bible ... . The book cites several biblical references suggesting that God does not disapprove of nudity and that Jesus may have been naked at several key moments of his life — notably when he washed the feet of his disciples. " - timesonline
11/18/2005 God / Physics / Biology. Vatican official refutes intelligent design / Time Train
" The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States. ... Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science. ... supporters hold that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power." - seattlepi
Our ignorance is not evidence of a diety, nor is the vast complexity of our universe. Random systems self organize based on universal laws. Who created the random stuff, who created the laws? Perhaps the question is both misleading and meaningless. There is no "who" if time itself came into being along with the universe. In that case there was no beginning and no prime mover. We don't understand because we can't step off of the Time Train.
11/9/2005 Religion / Biology / Politics. Ignorance Wins in Ingelligent Design Debate in Kansas.
"The Kansas state Board of Education adopted new science standards for classrooms that, ... go further in challenging Darwin's theory of evolution and redefine the word “science” itself. Yesterday's 6-4 vote by the education board was a big win for proponents of “intelligent design” – those who believe the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power." (see newsci, timesonline, abcnews)
Absurd. Can you build an exact working replica of your own car from scratch? Go ahead, try it. You can't? Then, obviously, your car was designed and built by God. This proves that God exists... becuse your car is so complex, right? Uh, no. The available evidence says biological complexity existing today is the result of random systems with feedback loops self-organizing over large spans of time due environmental pressures.
The complexity of life is not driven by a bearded man in the clouds. It is the result of a massive collection of diverse building blocks interacting over millions of years based on physical laws like gravity, electro-chemical effects, chaos and quantum effects. The small inevitable local interactions of your sub-atomic particles, your atoms, microtubules, organelles, cells, tissues and organs are your creator. Your parents are your creator. "God" is shorthand for "I don't know and I'm tired of thinking."
Our human minds really can't grasp the concept of millions, much less billions of years. We have no frame of reference for such time spans. This, in part, leads some to fail to understand how incredibly many dead ends life has taken before getting to where it is now.
You don't personally have to know how to make rubber insulation to know that your car is the result of a process of technical evolution. Wishful thinking that helps people cope with fears of insignificance and mortality is fine for those who need it. Go ahead, believe in the Easter Bunny. Happy fantasies of a big man in the sky, however, are not a useful foundation for progress in the sciences. Why not go back to saying the Earth is flat? Sheesh.
10/9/2005 Religion. Catholic Bishops: Some parts of the Bible are not actually true.
"THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true. The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture." - timesonline
The Bible is a collection of old stories from many older sources. It has changed per the politics of the day over the course of history. It has provided 'answers' and has given comfort in doing so. Only problem is, it is, in part, a work of fiction. The comfort it provides to millions is fine, great... so is its ability scare some people into doing the right thing.... but at what cost? Religious wars, endless hate, depression, fear, etc.? Good for the Catholic Bishops for encouraging people to take religion with a grain of salt. Kind of like the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. Parents are a little embarassed when kids get old enough and they finally have to confess that they sort of, well, lied. But it sure was fun, so no harm done! Enjoy the Bible stories if you like, and those stories from all religions too, but don't go postal about it.
9/30/2005 Religion. Scientific Paper: Religion is Hazardous to Society.
"RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.
According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.
The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society , a US academic journal, reports: ... “In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies. ... The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.” - timesonline
9/27/2005 Biology / Religion A reducibly complex mousetrap
"To illustrate the concept of irreducibly complexity, Behe uses the common snap mousetrap. "If any one of the components of the mousetrap (the base, hammer, spring, catch, or holding bar) is removed, then the trap does not function. In other words, the simple little mousetrap has no ability to trap a mouse until several separate parts are all assembled. Because the mousetrap is necessarily composed of several parts, it is irreducibly complex." (Behe, 1996)." ...
I wish to point out that the mousetrap that Behe uses as an analogy CAN be reduced in complexity and still function as a mousetrap. The mousetrap illustrates one of the fundamental flaws in the intelligent design argument: the fact that one person can't imagine something doesn't mean it is impossible, it may just mean that the person has a limited imagination."
Emphasis added. This is the key point that destroys the flawed logic of irreducibly complexity. John H. McDonald's page shows how complexity can be reduced and still retain the original function. Usually there are other adaptive functions for the less complex parts.
You might think, "Ah, but someone had to put the wire there! So there must be a God!" No, there are random wires all over the place, most don't catch a mouse, but the one that happens to catch the mouse gets to breed and pass on its traits. That is evolution. Order from chaos without God.
"Ah, but someone had to put the wires all over the place!" The mousetrap is an artificial example. In real world examples the stuff found randomly is not wire, but biological building blocks. Evidence suggests that the building blocks of life are found all over, throughout the universe. "Ah, but ..." And so on.
9/27/2005 Religion / Biology Biology Professor Testifies: Intelligent Design is Creationism
Parents who didn't get a proper science education resist that education for their kids at times because they don't want to admit that they are ignorant of the basic facts regarding their own existence. That is embarrassing and uncomfortable for them, but this debate is healthy. The "Intelligent Design" debate gives adults a second chance to learn by asking questions (in the form of a trial) and to slowly understand what is known and what isn't.
... Intelligent design supporters often cite "irreducible complexity" in their research, he said. "Irreducible complexity" means that a living thing can't be reduced by any part or it won't work at all. So those living things could not have evolved in the way Darwin suggested; they had to be created with all of their existing parts, Miller said. Intelligent design proponents often cite the bacterial flagellum, a bacterium with a tail that propels it, Miller said.
Behe and his colleagues claim bacterial flagellum had to be created with all of its parts because it couldn't function if any of them were taken away, Miller testified. But scientists have proved that the bacterial flagellum can be reduced to a smaller being, a little organism that operates in a manner similar to a syringe, Miller said.
... Miller countered that no scientific theory is a fact: Even the theories of friction and gravity are not "fact" because in science, everything is subject to testing. " - york
The truth is, so much is still unknown! Theories change constantly based on new data. Some people have incredible difficulty with this. They need things to be known, 100% understood by authority figures, otherwise, they feel afraid. This need draws them to religion, where everything is certain. Science is just a "best guess", but those "guesses" are often based on mountains of data from experimentation.
8/29/2005 Blog / Religion. Religion vs. Science.
Ironic, isn't it, that science has provided the world's faith-based thinkers with radios, cars, televisions, clothes, homes, food, etc. These wonders of modern technology resulted from the same scientific method which the religous zeallots claim is 100% wrong ... about evolution.
Perhaps y'all who think science is a bunch of "just theories" could get off my radio and communicate only via the holy spirit. Just try it for a few weeks, m'kay?
I'd enjoy some educational science channels on my AM dial.
8/29/2005 Politics / Religion. Venezuela threatens legal action against Pat Robertson
8/15/2005 Religon / Strange Happenings. Jesus leaves council facing almighty bill: Wiccan Seeks $65,000 in Public Prayer Case
Fanatics who want non-scientific alternatives to evolution taught in science classrooms are opening Pandora's box. Think about it. How soon until lawsuits require the teaching -- along with Christain flavored intelligent design -- of satanic design, alien design and design by magical imps from the planet Frobozz? Trust the founding fathers: The separation of church and state is your friend. I say good for Darla the Wiccan for keeping the Church out of the State.
GREAT FALLS, S.C. — A small South Carolina town is facing a hefty legal bill after losing a battle over whether it should stop using Jesus Christ's name in prayers before council meetings. The U.S. Supreme Court refused in June to hear the town's appeal of a lower court ruling over the prayers. Now Darla Wynne wants Great Falls to pay her more than $65,000 to cover legal bills. A judge is expected to rule on the matter within the next two months. Wynne, who describes herself as a Wiccan priestess, sued Great Falls in 2001, saying the town violated the separation between church and state by using the name Jesus Christ in prayers because it promoted one religion over the other. ... The Rev. Michael Sollers, pastor of Evangel Temple Assembly of God, said most of the town supported the council's decision to keep fighting the case and would be willing to help pay the legal fees. - fauxnews
8/3/2005 Biology / Politics / Blog. "Intelligent Design" Disproved Every Day
Certain random semi-stable systems with the right feedback loops will adjust to their surroundings and duplicate themselves. Long term adjustment is evolution.
Unless dumb random failures are part of the "intelligence," there is ample evidence that "living" systems are not the result of intelligent design. Life today is the result of countless failed random attempts.
We are wonderfully extraordinarily complicated human beings but complicated things occur over time on the large scale due to small local interactions of our building blocks: organs, cells, microtubules, DNA, proteins, atoms, electrons, etc.
We are the fantastic result of quantum effects meeting chaos effects at the lowest level of the fabric of our reality. Perhaps life is not an impossible miracle, but given the right circumstances, an inevitable result.
Therefore, I'm going on vacation. See you in a week or so!
8/3/2005 Religion/ Politics. (washingtonpost) Bush Recommends Schools Teach "Intelligent Design" (Creationism)
Here is an alternative idea: 2 + 2 = 5. We should teach this idea right along side the scientific teaching, just to be fair, right? Why not?
"Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," he said, according to an official transcript of the session. Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes." - read more
There are also still schools of thought that say the Earth is flat and that our planet is at the center of the universe. Should those disproved notions still be taught in our classrooms? There are schools of thought that teach we are the result of genetic manipulation by aliens. Should we teach our kids that some people think Satan put dinosaur bones in the ground to confuse people about the bible?
There is only so much time in a school day. Why use up time "debating" the fact that there are human genetic mutations with positive results when this has already been established? The "debates" about Australopithecines being transitional fossils showing the origins of human evolution read more like zealots debating physical reality when you get down to the details.
Our kids have so much to learn to reach even the most basic levels of competence in science. Fundamentals of science are needed so people can make good decisions as adults.
Instead of the messianic myth being a Jewish reworking of pagan mythology Mike writes, "Actually, it's a Christian reworking of Mithraic mythology, formed during the consolidation of Mithraism and the then-outlawed Christianity to form a state religion for the empire. Jews never believed in a demi-god messiah who comes back from the dead."
Thanks for the tip! I'll enjoy reading that angle. What does the ring below have to do with Mithras? I don't know. It was named that for some reason. I really dig these titanium rings!
Back on the subject, Wikipedia says:
"The term Osiris-Dionysus is used by some historians of religion to refer to a group of deities worshipped around the Mediterranean in the centuries prior to the birth of Jesus . By Late Antiquity, some Gnostic and Neoplatonist thinkers had expanded this syncretic equation to include Aion, Adonis, Attis, Mithras and other gods of the mystery religions."
I've been reading that the myth of Jesus comes from an earlier Pagan myth. Regarding that topic, I found this article interesting.Accusing someone of "plagiarism by anticipation" is a neat trick to use on the simple-minded if you are a thief of ideas. First, you steal someone's idea. Since they had the idea first and since you don't like to be called a thief -- even though you are one -- you claim the person with the original idea stole your future idea from where they were in the past. Brilliant. Not.
"... Although surprising to us now, to writers of the first few centuries CE these similarities between the new Christian religion and the ancient Mysteries were extremely obvious. Pagan critics of Christianity, such as the satirist Celsus, complained that this recent religion was nothing more than a pale reflection of their own ancient teachings. Early 'Church fathers,' such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Irenaeus, were understandably disturbed and resorted to the desperate claim that these similarities were the result of 'diabolical mimicry.' Using one of the most absurd arguments ever advanced, they accused the Devil of 'plagiarism by anticipation,' of deviously copying the true story of Jesus before it had actually happened in an attempt to mislead the gullible! These Church fathers struck us as no less devious than the Devil they hoped to incriminate."
7/17/2005 Religon. Was the Jesus Myth Borrowed, like Christmas, from the Pagans?
Not that it matters, but anyone interested in the truth about history and religon should consider this point of view:
"The gospel story of Jesus is not the biography of an historical Messiah. It is a Jewish reworking of ancient Pagan myths of the dying and resurrecting Godman Osiris-Dionysus, which had been popular for centuries throughout the ancient Mediterranean." -binterp
7/7/2005 Humor / Religion. Some people have unfair natural advantages. That's life.
4/25/2005 Religion / Souls / Blog. Finding Your Soul. Okay, I found my soul. My soul is an idea, a real idea in my real brain. That's it. In that way, I do have a soul and it is real. It is not, however, eternal. It is not bound for heaven or hell. It exists for me only while my brain holds the idea of it.
This is tricky, but reality is tricky. All ideas have some reality to them in that we can react to them with real physical (bodily, emotional) reactions. My soul is as real as Santa Claus. It is as real as the Easter Bunny. My soul is as real as the Grey Aliens. My soul is as real as Gilligan's Island. Perhaps our species is unique in the ability to invent shared realities with little or no connection to the physical universe. The play is the thing; the tears and the laughter are real. Thus, I make peace with my religous friends and enjoy their soul fantasy as much as I enjoy the ideas of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. The pope has a great costume, doesn't he?
4/25/2005 Religion. Prove god exists and win a million dollars. Interesting thread on Museum of Hoaxes.
4/22/2005 Religion / Superstition / Holy Stains (bbc). Motorway Madonna "Traffic stopped in a Chicago underpass after a stain, which many say looks like the Virgin Mary, appeared on a wall. To some the image appeared as a white outline of the Holy Mother's face wearing a shadowy cloak. To the Chicago authorities it appeared to be a build-up of salt."
One explanation: Religion exists as a mental defense mechanism for coping with awareness of our death. In other words, knowing you are going to die is freaky, so we protect ourselves with a little self-deception that says we will live forever in an afterlife. Those who fear death the most go the most crazy in jumping at any little thing to support their defense mechanism. When you point this out, some people become extraordinarily angry. The truth hurts. Mortality sucks. I'd like to live to be about 600 because there is so much I'd like to do and see!
Anyway, if you change a person's brain (as our experience with brain tumors, surgery, drugs, etc. show) you change that person's personality. If your "soul" is not your personality, or your memory, your body, etc. Then what is it? Answer: it isn't. You have no soul. Sorry. But you do exist! You have a body, and you have an incredible mind which does both conscious and intelligent subconscious processing. While you are here, you do need to live well, in harmony and peace with others. The golden rule still applies. Religion is not all that bad. Deception sometimes has some positive outcomes for those deceived. Most religions, for example, ask us to be honest and to treat each other well. They also give us peace of mind about death. The problem is, they can lead to massive religious wars over our differing little superstitions and also to denial of physical realities. The Earth is not, we grudgingly now accept, the center of the universe.
3/28/2005 Religion / Biology / Evolution. Someone at nccg.org wrote: " There was, for example, once a group of very silly Christians a century-and-a-half ago who said that the devil put dinosaur fossils in the rocks in order to confuse the faithful! Intelligent people don't need to consider such nonsense. And yet that is exactly what we are expected to do with evolution, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that complex things cannot be built randomly out of less complex ones."
Right about the fossils, but your last idea is a dead dinosaur. The new hotness: The right kind of random elements can and do self organize into complex intelligent systems. My idea's overwhelming evidence can kick your idea's overwhelming evidence's butt. In fact, the only evidence I suspect your idea has is flawed human "common sense" and generalizations from bad examples. Complex things are built randomly every minute all around us from simple interconnected communicating elements. You are one result of that fact. For man-made versions, read about Self organizing neural networks (SONNs). Neural networks are composed of simple elements that start out random and disorganized. Due to the rules each element follows, however, they learn and become complex useful things! Evidence:
Neural networks have been applied in many fields ... Aerospace: aircraft control systems, autopilot enhancements, flight path simulations, etc. Automotive: Automobile automatic guidance systems. Banking: Check and other document readers, credit application evaluators. Defense: Weapon steering, target tracking, object discrimination, facial recognition. Entertainment: Animation, special effects, market forecasting. Financial: Real estate appraisal, loan advisor, mortgage screening, corporate financial analysis, currency price prediction. Manufacturing: Beer testing, welding, quality analysis, paper quality prediction. Medical: Breast cancer cell analysis, prosthesis, design, optimization of transplant times, hospital expense reduction, hospital quality improvement. Oil and Gas: Exploration. Speech: Speech recognition. Telecommunications: real-time translation of spoken language. Transportation: Truck brake diagnosis systems, vehicle scheduling, routing systems.
If simple random elements could not self-organize into complex systems none of the above would work. But they do.
Below is a self oranizing map. Due to the simple rule/fact that elements of the same color attract eachother, as they are randomly jiggled, they self oranize into useful molecules. Complex organized systems result from the local interaction rules of simple elements. In fact, this type of organization is going on in your head as you attempt to incorporate this photo into your existing world view.Ironically, if complex things could not be built randomly out of less complex ones, you would be unable to exist to make the claim that your own existance is impossible. It isn't, of course, because you do exist, Christopher. Therefore, you are wrong.
2/8/2005 Religion Update: The Origins of the Devil / Satan (reader feedback) :
Hi Xeno, The actual origin of the word "Satan" is Hebrew. I am not saying that it may not have a Dravidic origin also (which would explain if similar words were adopted into Prakrit languages) since there are some suspected Dravidic root words in Hebrew. In ancient Jewish theology, the heavenly court of judgment is seen with God presiding as judge, Michael as the defense attorney and HaSatan ("the accuser") functioning as the accusing attorney. The bad rap HaSatan received was a second century C.E. invention and the devil was a Christian and Islamic invention. Prior to this, HaSatan was seen in Jewish mythology as not so bad but not someone you wanted to play around with. He was known to have done many good things. He held the Egyptians chariot wheels to allow the Israelites to escape when crossing the parted sea during the exodus. He seeded plague among the Assyrians encamped around Jerusalem, which caused them to withdraw without siege. He spends all year every year telling God that the Jewish people are unworthy of His kindnesses because they are immoral, then on Yom Kippur (Yom Din, Day of Judgement) Satan pleads with God to be merciful and give the Jewish people one more chance. Anyway, that is just a very brief overview of an interesting subject. Oh, BTW, the serpent in the Garden of Eden was not HaSatan. [Right, I believe the serpent comes from an ancient tale which predates both the Hebrew Bible and the Homeric epics by more than one thousand years. Read the Gilgamesh story here. - xeno] Also, the association with "Lucifer" comes from a mistranslation and misunderstanding of Daniel 14:12 into Latin. The original text refers to the no-longer-favored-by-the-gods Nebuchadnezzar, who recently sacked God's temple in Jerusalem, as formerly the "day-star, son of morning" (a.k.a. Venus) and now states that he will fall. He went from being the man to being the chump when he ticked off God. Early Christians built a whole good guy vs. bad guy theology around this by having God kick Satan out of heaven (therefore, he "fell"). Jewish theologians later in Europe were sucked into this misconception also and there are a number of medieval sources with similar stories. HaSatan is still working for the Boss and can only do what he is told. Anyway, hope you find this interesting. Your Faithful Regular Reader of Weirdness, Michael
Great info, thanks for the summary! I've added a few links so people can research and read more. It seems clear that several different stories melted into today's one "Devil/Satan" myth.
2/7/2005 Religion The Origins of the Devil / Satan: Our modern idea of the Devil is a fairytale told by some crafty humans to control other human's behavior using fear. You might say the Devil is a Jedi Mind Trick that works on the weak minded and superstitious.
For those unafraid to seek the truth about the Devil, check this out: The Devil's historical origins: According to one researcher, "Our traditional image of the horned, winged demon comes from the Sumerian Myth of Zu." Another author, Gene D. Matlock, writes,
(Paraphrased) Satan Was Really a Saintly Indian King. ... Satana was in reality a Gujarati city-state that lost a war to the Seunas. The city's name was probably derived from that of Satan-ikas (Satan of Kasi?), a pious Jaina king and founder of a small Jaina sect. Some years after the death of Mahavira, Satan-ikas began expounding his own version of Jainism.
"He succeeded in getting only 11 converts. They distinguished themselves from other Jainists by wearing blood-red robes and occasionally bull-horn headresses. Because the sect was (and still is) so very small, it was probably rejected by Jainists as demoniacal and heretical. In those days, the different Indian sects often fought one another, as, indeed, their non-Indian descendants do even today. Over the centuries, this saint and his red clothing evolved to the red-colored monster that the TV preachers use to scare fanatical Christian fundamentalists and convince them to unload their bank accounts and wallets.
The following are the "evil" teachings that this "Satan" used to ensnare innocent victims:
- 1. The senses are not the seat of wisdom.
- 2. The Law of Karma (the effect of our past deeds, whether good or bad) is a reality.
- 3. The world and the beings in it are realities; not illusions.
- 4. The spiritual dimension is also real.
- 5. No one should kill animals.
- 6. We must endure patiently the life conditons that we cannot change.
- 7. Do not mortify (inflict wounds upon) the body.
- 8. Always be truthful, sincere, and pure of conduct.
- 9. Do not steal.
- 10. Do not be unfaithful to your spouse. Control all earthly desires.
If Satan-ikas were to return ... he'd truly be saddened to learn that he is remembered as The Great Tempter - the man that everyone loves to hate. The preachers need not worry overmuch. Very few people have ever fallen into the clutches of Satan-ikas.
"The Sanskrit/Kashmiri word for "devil" is exactly as in English: dev-il (condition of being a devil). The amazing similarities between English and Sanskrit prompted Indian historian A. K. Mazumdar to write, ".English is essentially Rig-Vedic Sanskrit in disguise." (The Hindu History; p. 349.) For more information about this anomaly, see my book India Once Ruled the World."
Comment: My guess is that the orthodox Jains regarded Satan-ikas as a heretic and demonized him and his followers. Somehow, he became the Devil for the rest of the world.
Of course the true history (assuming these researchers are correct) shows that Satan worshipers are just as misguided as fundamentalists who preach against them. Neither group has bothered to research the real origins of "Satan", origins which are unimpressive in being entirely human and not at all supernatural. The truth is out there. You just have to bother to look outside your own head. It is sad to me that so many ignorant people will spend lifetimes worrying about and fearing "the devil." Do people really need a fantasy of eternal damnation to keep them from running amok? Why not just be good because it is the right and logical thing to do?
2/7/2005 Religion The House of the Devil. Most any skeptical scientist will tell you there is no devil. But according to our Italian friend Sergio who is into ghost research and the like, there are legends about this house in Sorga Verona, Italy ... legends that say it is the house of the devil! Boo! I've requested some details.
1/20/2005 Odd Happenings / Religion (local6) "A man was attacked and injured after jumping into a lion's den at the Taipei Zoo and trying to convert the lions to Christianity. The 46-year-old man leaped into the den of African lions and shouted "Jesus will save you," according to the report. He also said, "Come bite me" before one of the male lions attacked and bit the man. ... Zoo workers were able to drive off the lion with water hoses and tranquilizer guns." It was remarkably kind of these lions to spare this man's life.
1/14/2005 Religion / Strange Beliefs: "Creation Scientists" study "the Natural World to find evidence of the handiwork of the Lord and His divine act of Creation." These people are confused, but there is help.
People with wrong beliefs can be very nice people, they just have wrong beliefs. For example, imagine me saying to you,
"Friend, I am a '22 Scientist'. I want to introduce you to a beautiful and simple truth: 2 + 2 = 22. You can just look at it and it is obvious. The evidence for this fact is all around us. We are surrounded by the number 22, and EVERY SINGLE '22' shows how it is created, by adding '2' and '2'. Glory be!"
Arguments for a creator are based on similar simplistic thinking and faulty logic. The confusion is that "Nature is so complicated." True, it is. There is so much we don't understand and many people fear the unknown, some more than others. Therefore, here is what is going on: The believers are being tricked by their brain's own fear defense mechanisms. To avoid fear of the unknown when pondering their own complicated biology, death, the vastness of the universe, etc. their brains cause them to adopt a simple comforting answer: "God." At this point, amazingly just by giving the unknown a name, they can drop the troubling details of these puzzles and can carry on eating, sleeping, mating, watching "DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES", etc.
Related news: (news-leader) federal judge orders a Georgia district to rid biology texts of stickers calling evolution "theory."
The school district attorney for the case said, "Science and religion are related and they're not mutually exclusive."
Continuing my analogy, this is like saying, "Okay, I can't stop you from teaching kids in math class that 2 + 2 = 4, but kids should also be exposed to the view in math class that 2 + 2 = 22. These ideas aren't mutually exclusive." Sorry, but they are, because 2 + 2 = 22 is wrong. Luckily, the federal judge agreed: we don't teach comforting religious fairytales in science classes in the USA. Thank God.
1/13/2005 Religion / Odd Happenings: Does God Ease Pain? Believers Put Faith to Torture Test. "Dozens of people are to undergo painful experiments to test whether spiritual belief affects how people feel. The American-funded study will involve exposing them to religious symbols such as images of the Virgin Mary and crucifixes while they are put through agony."
Stupidest study award. Yes, pain perception has a mental component. Just follow the brain pathways. Self-hypnosis, faith, etc. can lower the perception of pain, but physical trauma still happens as do the many subconscious results of torture. We already know all of this.
This is not funded by "America." It is funded by a religious group seeking to validate a particular religious belief.
The Good News:
On my new planet you can't get out of your protective plastic super bubble until you prove you have acquired enough basic logic to safely operate a brain. Do your thoughts lead you to ideas that will hurt yourself or others? If so, just relax. You aren't going anywhere yet. Keep learning. Perhaps you'll get it. If not, your rage and confusion will be safely absorbed to provide energy for the rest of the planet.
11/23/2004 Odd Happenings / Religon By the way, you know that holy cheese sandwich below? It sold for $28,000.
11/18/2004 Odd Happenings / Religion The image of the Virgin Mary appeared on a grilled cheese sandwich. "Duyser said that she made the sandwich 10 years ago and on plain white bread and American cheese and cooked with no oil or butter. ... For those potential buyers who are skeptical over the saintly powers of the grilled cheese sandwich, Duyser has said that since having the tasty treat in her possession, she's won a total of $70,000 at a local casino. 'I can show the receipts to the high bidder if they are interested,' she offers."
The running price people are bidding is currently over $16,000. Damn. The image looks more like Dana Scully. I'll bid $17,000!!
10/19/04 Religion Which has caused more death religon or science? I'd say religon uses science to kill these days, (high tech middle east wars, for example) so it isn't really a fair question. Imagine no Religon. I wonder if you can. Here is some proof of the non-existence of god ...
Hey! I do too exist!
You stop that!
Sorry God, I can't help it. I was created with free will and a skeptical mind.
argument: ... the pro-god crowd replies: "That's impossible! [The Universe can not] have existed forever. It must have started at one point. It must have been created at some point. It must have been created by god!"
That's when I ask them: "So, when was god created?"
And they reply: "God always existed. He was never created. He never started. He was always there. "
... If it is possible that something called "god" can exist forever, without ever having been created, then that very same possibility applies to something called "universe".
6/4/04 Religion. Odd Happenings. I'm not making this up. Really! VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II presides over a performance of break- dancers from a cultural organization of Poland, during a special audience at the Vatican in this image from television. (01/25/04 AP photo) No, really. Check out the video. This is one hip Pope. He also opposed the war.
63/04 Religon. Here is a strange idea that I suspect is being watched closely by the FBI. This group of Christians opposed to gay marriage (or just gay sex?) is planning to overthrow the bonds of the USA to form their own country... inside the USA!
"ChristianExodus.org is orchestrating the move of 50,000 or more Christians to one of three States for the express purpose of dissolving that State's bond with the union. The three States under consideration are Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina. The exact destination will be chosen by vote of our membership. Our move will commence when the federal government forces sodomite marriages on our local communities or once we reach the 50,000-member mark, whichever comes first."
I doubt the Christian Lesbians will be joining them.
5/7/04 Odd Events Jesus, the balloon...
"The Jesus hot air balloon floats high in the sky after its sunrise launch from the Tracy Municipal Airport in Tracy Calif., as part of an observance for the National Day of Prayer. Owned by the Merritt Ministries and piloted by Bob Schaible, the 11-story-high balloon is one of the three largest in the world and it is the sixth time it has flown to mark the national prayer event. (AP Photo/Tracy Press, Glenn Moore)"
2/19/2004: Did you know that the Garden of Eden ideas appear in Gilgamesh, a story written thousands of years earlier? Read it yourself. I don't think any Christian would claim Gilgamesh is the work of the Christian God. Yet there is the Ark, the flood, the serpent, a plant which robs eternal life ... Did you know the Ten Commandments are contained in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, also written thousands of years before Moses?
10/17/03: US is 'battling Satan' says general. "US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has declined to criticise a senior army officer who told audiences the war on terrorism is a battle with Satan." Evangelical Christian Lieutenant-General William G Boykin in one speech recalled a Muslim fighter in Somalia who said he had the protection of Allah against US forces. "Well you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his," said Lt Gen Boykin. "I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol." No, this is not a joke. He really said this. Yes, the US, at the highest level, has been drawn into the long standing Holy War in the Middle East. Remember when Bush called the fight against the Taliban a Crusade? Are 76.5% of people in the US Christian? Perhaps. Doesn't fit the people I know but this is a big country and it is a bit different in the middle than on the edges. (So they say.)
8/22/03: Alabama Chief Justice suspeded over 10 commandments display. It is funny to me that most people don't even research the things they believe. The Ten Commandments existed 2000 years before Moses. Sorry, but it is true.
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