Class Warfare Blog

February 10, 2018

Do You Wanna Live Forever?

Filed under: Culture,History — Steve Ruis @ 10:23 pm
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I am reading a book aptly named “Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization” which has the premise that wanting to live forever drives everything. This, I believe, is a false impression and I think I have a better answer. But first things first. Why do I think that, in general, people do not want to live forever? (This, of course, would put a big dent in the author’s case … unless he intends that civilization is driven by only a few, and these could be outliers in the search for immortality.)

The author of this book has a bit of a loose definition of immortality, well, maybe broad is a better word. He describes four different ways people can “live” forever. In short: staying alive, resurrection, soul, legacy. The first and the last are available already. The middle two are iffy at the very best. Staying alive equates to “not dying” and according to Woody Allen it is not death he’s afraid of, its dying; he just doesn’t like pain, so aviding death may just be a manifestation of avoiding pain.

The first “form” is dishonest as we see that our bodies aren’t evolved to last for more than a century or two, so unless there is a total remake in the offing, this is not really an option. And, basically, who wants to keep living as a very old person who can’t take care of himself, move around easily, think clearly, etc. Death is often welcomed in the advanced stages of life, if the quality of the life of the elder is very poor. The last one I just don’t see as a driver of civilization. Can you imagine Shakespeare as a fierce politician hoping to create a world that lasts forever so that his plays will be staged down the millennia? I don’t think one can live long enough to find out whether one’s works will be remembered for a very long time. And is that really immortality?

And didn’t Shakespeare become “immortal” without “driving” civilization?

I just do not see a connection there.

The book opens with the story of Nefertiti’s legacy being erased by the Egyptian king who succeeded her. It was a fairly common practice to erase a predecessor’s likeness from stone and to carve a successor’s likeness on top if it. But a likeness of her survived and she found her way into history and museums, so she is on an immortality path.

This is indicative of what I perceive as the flaw in this argument. Sure Egyptian rulers worked like beavers to equip their shades for the trip into the afterlife. But what effect did a yearning for immortality have upon ordinary Egyptians? Historians are quick to point out that the Egyptians were not slaves and that slaves did not build the pyramids. I beg to differ. As in all early civilizations there is a pronounced religious element to all of their “rulers.” In Egypt, their king/queen was also a god. If a god tells you to do something, heck if they even ask you to do something, can you say no? I suggest not. And when someone has no control over their life and another does, I argue that they are not free, but a slave.

If I may quote Thomas Paine: “All national institutions of churches . . . appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind and monopolize power and profit.” I remember reading these words the first time but they didn’t quite sink in. Now they have. What caused them to sink in was the claim that in the year 1800 over 50% of the human beings on the planet lived in some sort of slavery, as a slave, a serf, as an indentured servant, whatever. This is what civilization created for us: a system in which the many worked so the few could profit from their labor.

Think of the labor involved in building a frigging pyramid. And who benefited from that building? There was one person, one individual for whom that building was built. Clearly the labor of many was mobilized for the elite. In this case one elite, the king/queen.

So, was the search for immortality: to not die, to be resurrected, to have one’s soul live on, or to have one’s works survive forever, did any of these apply to the great masses of humans? If they did, I argue that they only did as part of a great con by the elites. This exists to this day as Christians claim that when they die, they will be rewarded and their enemies punished and they won’t even have to lift a finger. Clearly this “belief” benefits the elites who are sucking off the value of the mass’s labor to fill their pockets, as it were, and would rather the exploited laborers just shut up and keep working.

To give you just a clue, take 15th century England, in which there were about 200 nobles and about 1000 knights in a population of roughly two and a quarter million people. These religious and secular elites constituted about 0.05% of that population, yet they owned about 75% of all of the land. (In an agricultural society, land is wealth.) Now consider the 21st century United States. The 0.1% most wealthy people own about 22% of all of the country’s wealth, about as much as the bottom 90% own. Few of these are politicians but a fraction of these very wealthy people control most of the state governments and the federal government because they control the flow of “campaign contributions.” So, in both cases, 550+ years apart, a tiny fraction of the population controls much of the wealth of the country and make all of the rules and rule changes.

This is civilization. This is what has happened and will continue to happen.

Is the “driver” of this process a desire to live forever? (Fame! … Damn, some songs just won’t leave our heads!) Is this what has caused civilization to be what it is?

I do not think so, and I will explain in my next post.


4000 Prophecies … All True?

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:21 am
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One of the claims proffered for the existence of her god by a Christian apologist (I suspect a young one) was that the Bible contained 4000 prophecies and “all of them came true.” Prophecies are one of the three pillars supporting Christianity, the others being miracles, and the resurrection of Jesus. Should any of them fail, so would Christianity, so they “must be true.”

So, is this true? Where would such a statistic come from? I suspect the person offering it did not count them herself. I suspect that this was a factoid presented to her by another apologist. So, if this is a claim, one can check it for truth value. Just from memory I recall the prophecy made by Jesus in Matthew, that the Kingdom of God would come before all of the people hearing him make his prophecy had died. Well, if he did make it and there were people around to hear it in ca. 30 CE, then they are all dead and the Kingdom either did or did not come. I have read some rather contorted explanations of how that prophecy did indeed come true, but I suspect those were at best fanciful. If you were walk around and ask Christians at random “Has the Kingdom of God come yet?” I suspect they would all say “no,” certainly a large majority of them would say “no.”

So, that is one prophecy that did not come true, so the “all” part of the claim we started with is now gone. But it still could be “many” or “most,” no?

That leads to another question: how does one verify a prophecy?

I read a book in which a scholar tried to sum all of the human deaths in the Bible that could be attributed to the god of the Bible, either directly or indirectly. By the time he got to the end, he had a total of 2-3 million people plus the entire population of the Earth (minus eight) at the time of The Great Flood (est. at 80-1000 million people). These estimates are more than a little uncertain, because when the Hebrews were told to kill all of the inhabitants of a town, the description doesn’t say “kill all of the 1,862 inhabitants of Kreplach,” or whatever, it just says “all.” So, reasonable estimates needed to be made and the author was clear in his communication as to how he made those estimates.

So, to come up with “the Bible contained 4000 prophecies and all of them came true,” one would need to a) read the entire Bible (which one?), b) identify all of the prophecies, counting them along the way, and c) determine whether they came true. To avoid the problem of fraud, as Christian fraud is rampant, there are some absolutely necessary additional points needed. We need to know who is making the prophecy. We need to know who is reporting it (the author of the scripture). We need to know whether the author is trustworthy. And we need to know when the prophecy was made. The easiest prophecy to make and one that always comes true is the “after the fact prophecy.” For example, I predict the Eagles will beat the Patriots in Super Bowl 52. I have a perfect track record in making these predictions; I have never been wrong. (For the puzzled among you, the Super Bowl was two weeks ago and the Eagles did beat the Patriots.) When Jesus predicts the Temple will be destroyed, that is easy for the author of a gospel to write as the writer was writing after 70 CE the year the Romans tore down the Temple. Now, did Jesus say he was going to raise the temple again in three days or that he could raise it again in three days? Hmm….

Prophecies are rarely clear as to what is being predicted, which is a major problem. People wanting a prophecy to be true interpret it one way, while opponents interpret it another, so to be able to state unequivocally that a prophecy is true or untrue, the prophecy itself has to be very clear. Unfortunately, prophets have a very long history of making quite obscure pronouncements. The Greek prophets were notorious for this and had “priests” nearby who would help you interpret the prophet’s utterings … for a fee, of course.

Add to this the fact that we have no idea who the people writing the Christian scriptures were. Consider the books of the New Testament which claim Paul as the author. There are 14 of them. By analyzing the writing, scholars think that 7 of the 14 were written by the same person. Several of the remaining (and a couple of other extra-biblical “letters”) are clearly not written by this person, and a less than handful of the others are labeled as “probably not written by ‘Paul’.” There is no way to prove at this late date that the author “Paul” is who he says he is or even if he is a real person and not a pseudonym for some proselytizing early Christian. And this is basically the best it gets.

So, we do not know who wrote most of the Bible. We do not know whether they are trustworthy. We do not know whether the prophecies were written before or after the events they predicted. Many of the prophecies are at best vague and unspecific.

In other words, there is no way to verify the truth of most of those prophecies, so the “faithful” are back at square one (faith). As to the evidence “the Bible contains 4000 prophecies and all of them came true,” uh, no.

The Bible is also full of evidence of things being misplaced in time. For example, the armor worn by Goliath, of the David and Goliath fame, as described in the Bible won’t be invented for about 400 years after the time setting described. Understandably the author, writing 400 years, or so, after the “event,” describes what he could see when he was writing and could not imagine what a warrior like Goliath would have worn “back then.” The Bible, though it contains historical elements, is not a history book, nor can its unknown authors be trusted to tell the truth.

Unfortunately, the promulgators of the nonsense of the 4000 prophecies, deliberately cover up the nonsensical aspects of their source. For example, many people point to the miracle of the loaves and fishes, in which 5000 people are fed from a very small supply of food and from which the leftovers are greater than the amount begun with. Truly this is a miracle, even all of Jesus’ companions were agog at this event. What they do not point out is that the next story is about another miracle of loaves and fishes, in which 4000 people are fed from a very small supply of food and from which the leftovers are greater than the amount begun with. This, too, must have been a miracle because, even though it happened less than a week after the first one, all of Jesus’ companions were again agog at this event, just as if they couldn’t conceive of such a thing. How any sermons do you think have been given on the two miracles of the loaves and fishes?

So, you start with gullible believers desperately looking for confirmation of their beliefs and then you feed them bullshit such as the above, and this is what you get. So, if someone makes a claim like “4000 prophecies …” I suggest you simply ask a few questions:

  1. Did you count them yourself?
    2. Are you sure you can trust the author of the scripture? (If they claim divine inspiration, ask them how they can tell the difference between God-inspiration and Satan-inspiration; clearly Job couldn’t tell the difference.)
    3. How did you determine whether the prophesies were written before the events predicted?
    … and so on. I don’t think you will get past more than 1-2 such questions.

What Happened to “My Country, Right or Wrong!”

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:08 am
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Conservatives in this country have historically been fond of the country’s institutions, especially the military, the police, the FBI, the CIA, the churches, etc. Conserving the social order was #1 on the list of important things for conservatives and the institutions designed to provide order and to defend the status quo were highly prized by the same. Cynically, I would point out that the class of conservatives also contained the wealthiest members of our society, so it was in their best interest to keep the mechanism that made them their wealth moving like a well-oiled machine.

The current Republican administration, however, while claiming to be nominally conservative, has been throwing conservative ideals to the wind. In attempts to obscure what is really happening, the President has thrown judges and courts under the bus, the Congress under the bus, and most recently, the CIA and the FBI and much else of the “intelligence infrastructure,” under the bus. All to achieve what end, I wonder?

Have all of the true conservatives been culled from the GOP? Have they all been replaced by libertarians and self-serving lackeys?

Seems so.

PS If you do not recognize the phrase in the title, it comes from Richard Nixon’s years in the White House. The Viet Nam war had been going on for a long time and protests regarding it were ramping up … anti-government protests, because the protesters were complaining about the actions of the government. The response came back as the slogan “(I Support) My Country, Right or Wrong!” which really was a response of the government’s current supporters, specifically conservative Republicans. Imagine that, Republicans defending the government! How far we have come!

How to Solve the Abortion Contretemps

Filed under: Culture,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 9:49 am
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All over the world, the issue of abortion is contentious. On one side are women who want to control their own bodies. On the other side are people who think “life is sacred” (and there are probably 42 other sides as well). Please do not buy the argument that “life is sacred” as it is not a valid argument. The behaviors of those who claim life is sacred do not exhibit a commitment to that idea. So, the argument is a smokescreen for their real reasoning, which is suspect is based upon a millennia old fear of the power of women.

In any case, I can solve this difficulty with little political fuss. Currently through artificial birth control suppression and abortion suppression, women are being forced to have babies they do not want to have. If they do have a baby and abandon it, they are subject to child abandonment laws. If they do have a baby and do not raise their children to a level acceptable to society they face social punishments up to and including legal punishments. This forced baby having is a punishment that takes 15-18 years to play out, sometimes longer. (Please, no “how can you not love a baby” comments. If you do not know, just grab the nearest male and ask them.)

To solve the abortion and even the artificial contraception issue, simply make fathers 100% responsible for their progeny. If a father abandons a mate and child, the law finds him and makes him pay. If a mother does not care adequately for a child, it is the father’s fault and his will be the punishment of not providing for his children.

Were this to be implemented, you would soon find no legal prohibitions of artificial birth control methods or abortion. And rape would be a crime punishable by death or at least a slot in a cell as some large person’s bunk muffin.

Simple, easy, effective.

This is also a route to solving the hijab/burkha issue also. Men need to be masters of their sexual urges. If the visual stimulation of an attractive female incites a male to attack her, it is not her fault and the entire burden falls upon the male. How it is that the control of the male libido was transfer to women is beyond me. Any male who cannot control his own urges is clearly a danger to society and needs to be locked up.


February 4, 2018

I Wonder Why Sundays?

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:36 am
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Last March the Minnesota Legislature passed a law permitting liquor stores to be open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Prior to that, Minnesota, which only allows liquors sales in dedicated “package goods” stores, did not allow sales of liquor on Sundays.

I wonder why … Sundays?

You’d think Monday was the most depressing day of the week and people would be out driving to and from work. Alcohol, driving, and depression don’t mix well. Or maybe Wednesdays … “Hump Day” … a day which represents the mid point between weekends. If people were to start celebrating the coming weekend early it could hurt worker productivity. Or maybe Thursday … “Thor’s Day” … celebrating Thor’s Day could lead to Viking-like behavior such as pillaging local villages, that wouldn’t be a good thing. Saturday … “Saturn’s Day” … with freely flowing alcohol could result in a Saturnalia, not a good thing in a sober society.

I wonder … why Sundays?

February 2, 2018

Do You Buy This Argument?

Clearly our educational system is failing, heck it has failed. In the last 100 years, the average IQ of Americans has been stuck at 100 and if we are going to solve the problems of the future, we need to get smarter!

Is this a valid argument?

Do you accept it?

You should not.

IQ tests are “re-normed” every year, that is the average IQ test score, whatever it is, is defined to be a score of 100. Studies have shown that actual IQ scores are 10% higher now than they were 100 years ago, which means that a tester with a score of 100 (aka “average”) now would have had scores 110 back then or a tester back then who scored a 100 would score a 90 now.

So, this “complaint” about “the system” is taking what is actually a positive result and making it sound negative. This is not a new practice. People have been cherry-picking evidence since the dawn of making arguments. Often this is exacerbated by ignorance but possibly as often this is done with full knowledge of such distortions. The unfortunate thing for us is this practice is becoming acceptable to large swaths of the American people.

We see it in politics and we see in religion. For example, Christian apologists keep trotting out arguments that were disproved centuries ago as if they were new. I can’t believe all of them are ignorant to the facts, so some of this is done deliberately. What happens to an apologist who is caught out, basically telling an “untruth”? The answer: nothing. Similarly, in politics, politicians who lie and are shown to have known the truth ahead of the lie suffer no ill effects. We used to have a joke from many, many years ago that went: Q: How can you tell a politician is lying?, A: His lips are moving. This was considered funny and was based partially upon the fact that politicians are not allowed to tell the truth in many cases due to security issues (it is illegal to release “top secret” info) or they have been ordered by political superiors to not tell the truth yet (timing issues), etc. Now, lying is so commonplace that politicians don’t even bother responding to journalists who catch them lying. It is almost as if they are saying “Of course I was lying … didn’t you see my lips move, fool!”

If we are to save our democracy, we need to become better participants as citizens. We need to make sure there is a penalty for lying. To do this we need to stop trying to be universal experts in every political issue that comes up as that is a Herculean task and we are not demigods. Pick a topic (climate change, dark money, gerrymandering, whatever) and set out to become educated about that topic. Heck pick two topics, but whatever topics you pick, learn about the nuances. Then fire away.

In the absence of an educated citizenry, we will fall victim to arguments that sound valid, such as the one above, created by those wanting to manipulate the process and do not care for the truth, the people as a whole, or democracy in particular. We are many, they are few. No matter how many of us chose to become “experts” in a particular topic, we will still be many and they will still be few. But if we continue to flounder and, watching the “news,” bounce from topic to topic we really know nothing about, we will fail. We are many and they are few … and it is easier to organize a few than many.

Oh, and the answers you seek are not available on the “news.” In fact, I am not sure there is anything of value any more in the “news,” so if you think you are keeping up on current events because you watch “the news” on TV, you are being duped. I never watch TV “news” and when I stopped, I became much better informed on the issues I care about.

February 1, 2018

Consider What They are Asking You to Believe

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:55 pm
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I have just finished reading Valerie Tarico’s book Trusting Doubt, which describes her recovery from evangelicalism. It is a very good read as the author is thoughtful, consistent, and

Buy this book! Read it!

comprehensive in her examination of her former faith. And, as I have told her, she is a better person than I because she is gentle and loving in her presentation, whereas I would not be were I in her position. Since she is a psychologist now, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that she still has positive feelings about parts of her religious faith. She seems to be committed to some idea of a god, theism, deism, whatever, but some role for gods and religions as we go forward. This I cannot agree with. But do buy and read her book, as it is a wealth of knowledge and understanding on the topic.

The reason I cannot buy into a future with religions and gods in them is that if they are there, we will never get past those beliefs into a state in which we learn to take care of ourselves. While you can stand in an abandoned house that has trash in it up to your hips and imagine how you would transform it into a beautiful home, the first necessary step is to clean out the trash so you can see what is actually there.

I do believe Dr. Tarico’s warm and comforting feeling for some kind of god came from her evangelical upbringing, therefore it is Christian. I do not condemn the yearning for the warmth, comfort, and love provided by the illusion, but it is an illusion and we should be looking for a source that is real and not imagined.

To break this illusion, I ask you to imagine what the major monotheisms want you to believe (in part all of them, although I will be focusing on Christianity, the dominant religion in my country). The basic story line/narrative is that a god (no one can define such a thing, so I will not try) created an entire universe. This universe was 99.999 percent radiation-soaked hard vacuum, inimical to life. Of the remaining 0.001 of the universe, 99.999 percent of that is stars and black holes and dark matter (who knows?) which is also inimical to life. This we are told was all done to support life here on Earth, specifically us. This god created all of the earthly plants and animals, again done to support us. Then it created one man and one woman, the details of which are muzzy, but the only rationale given was that the god wanted someone to tend his garden. Without any documented training or with an innate ability to distinguish good from evil, the man and woman disobeyed a direct order from the god and so he cursed them and all of their progeny … forever. He later created Hell, a domain of exquisite torture to condemn people he didn’t like … for all time. Apparently he was very upset. He was also supposed to be omniscient, so why he didn’t see this before it happened and extract a promise of good behavior from Adam and Eve beforehand is not understood.

Later this very same god looks upon apparently millions of his first two human creation’s progeny and declares them to be evil. He slaughters all of them save eight people and all the plants and animals he created in a very large flood. This gigantic do-over resulted in a fresh start for his experiments in creating sentient beings.

Later, he relents in his curse (again an omniscient being changing his mind(!?)) and creates an avatar of himself to go to Earth and die a tortured death to absolve the Earthlings of their disobedience. How this is supposed to work physically is quite opaque, but there are also conditions placed upon every human’s salvation which, if they are not met … and they are not for the vast majority of humans … the result is Hell forever and ever, amen. How this is significantly different from the previous state of affairs is also not explained.

So, the upshot is, this god created humans and forced them to undergo life on Earth to see if they could earn a shot at a life with him in Heaven, a supposedly marvelous place, after they died. Otherwise Hell. In Heaven, the primary occupation for humans is basking in the glow of being in the presence of this god and worshiping him. Why he couldn’t just skip the whole Earth part is also not explained.

So, the entire endeavor has an all-powerful being creating an entire universe, most of which isn’t needed, then creating a planet with flora and fauna to support intelligent life who then get to go through the Afterlife Game Show, which if they win, makes them into a sycophant, passionately worshiping this creator god.

No one seems to ask why a powerful entity as this god is described to be has to create worshipers for himself, or why is his creation so bloody awfully done? This god may have been all-powerful and all-knowing but apparently was not all-confident, nor was he free of self-esteem issues. This wasn’t helped when his very powerful support staff, called angels rebelled and caused a war to be fought in Heaven. One would, therefore, not refer to it as being all-competent, either.

How this leaves warm, fuzzy feelings for an all-loving spiritual entity is quite beyond my understanding. Well, maybe not, but it is not “this” that is responsibile.

I do suspect, but cannot prove, that those feelings come with a natural cause. It came to me while discussing cosmetics. There are no magical ingredients in cosmetics, just simple variations upon a theme involving simple chemicals. Since the demand for cosmetics is so great (aka lucrative), the manufacturers of these products (I have always found the name “Max Factor” most appropriate.) add ingredients that create good feelings when these products are applied. Such products rarely perform as claimed, but they do feel good when applied. Plus their marketing focuses on these physical, as well as psychological, good feelings their products use delivers. When you consider the above synopsis of our dominant religion, it can clearly be seen that the major monotheistic religions have little to offer but threats and promises, so proponents of said religions market them based on the feelings they claim are present in such transactions. (The ignorance of most Christians of what is to be found in scripture, combined with reports of those positive feelings, supports this point.) As just one hypothetical example, a sub-teenaged girl is very sad when her grandmother dies so she is told that Grandma isn’t really dead, but in a wondrous other place where she no longer feels aches and pains and gets to meet her dead husband and all of her dead friends and the dead family dog because Jesus is the god of love, yada, yada. The youth, noting how well others are taking Grandma’s death has no choice but to buy into this fantasy as it makes the pains of separation and she feels less. (This is described as being consoling, which it is … but consolation based upon pure fiction.)

The story is entirely made up whether you feel it through rock-ribbed belief or not, and it does create a warm, protective, supportive feeling in children and so they cannot grow up to not miss these feelings if they lose their faith.

I suggest we explore ways to provide those warm, protective, supportive feelings for children by actually being warm, protective, supportive people in their lives and skip the unicorn, My Little Pony, and religious fictions we now use.

And we cannot do this until we clear away all of the obvious trash we have allowed to pile up in our “spiritual” lives. (Sorry for the quotes there, I hate the word “spiritual,” as it represents a yearning for things not present that doesn’t involve creating those things with the people who are present.)

I hope, if Valerie reads this, she will not take any of this as a criticism of her thoughts and feelings or her book … I loved her book! … but I am trying to point out yet another consequence of indoctrinating our children into bullshit religions instead of reality and working to improve our reality.

January 31, 2018

What Religion … Trying to Control Us?

I continue to insist that no matter why a religion was created in the first (or second, third, etc.) place, it continues to exist because it controls the great masses of a society to the benefit of the religious and secular elites. The easiest example is Christianity. If Christianity had not supported slavery, it would never have become the state religion of Rome and would have remained an obscure Jewish sect.

Fast forward to today and Ireland is having a referendum on the legality of abortions. In the U.S. there has been a massive anti-abortion campaign being waged for the last thirty years (at least). A primary source of the energy for the “opposed” position on abortion has come from the Catholic Church.

So, what do you think the scriptural basis for this opposition is? For some, the important distinction was of “ensoulment,” the exact moment in time a fetus receives its soul. So, what does the OT have to say about this? While the Hebrew Bible only requires a fine for the loss of a fetus through the actions of another, whatever its stage of development, the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Hebrew text (a pre-Christian translation that the early Christians used and quoted extensively in the NT) introduced a distinction between an Aristotelian “formed” and an “unformed” fetus and treated destruction of the former as murder. The debate was over when the fetus became “formed.” So, the scriptures were distorted to include Greek philosophical distinctions by Greek translators. (The NT is rampant with such things, both segments having their science based upon Aristotle or superstition.)

The “debate” was not settled quickly (nor has it been settled now). In 1679, Pope Innocent XI publicly condemned sixty-five propositions taken chiefly from the writings of Escobar, Suarez and other casuists as “at least scandalous and in practice dangerous.” He forbade anyone to teach them under penalty of excommunication. The condemned propositions included:

  1. It is lawful to procure abortion before ensoulment of the fetus lest a girl, detected as pregnant, be killed or defamed.
  2. It seems probable that the fetus (as long as it is in the uterus) lacks a rational soul and begins to first have one when it is born and consequently it must be said that no abortion is homicide.

That these teachings that were being condemned were of Jesuit Catholics, it can hardly be claimed that scripture is crystal clear on the topic.

Of late, the idea of ensoulment at the moment of conception has become popular, but not because it is supported by scripture, just by the Catholic hierarchy, which means it is political.

Now, why would Christianity in the form of the Catholic Church and many Protestant sects (allies in the anti-abortion movement), have its position “evolve” in this manner? For one, each religion has seen itself involved in a war of attrition. People in general did not tend to lose their faith (it wasn’t healthy) but to dominate, more “believers” were needed, consequently more and more children were favored. The Catholic Church didn’t just oppose abortion, it has opposed all artificial birth control methods. More Catholics means more power and that is the name of the game they are playing.

It is a bit of fun watching the Catholic Church squirm as it is rapidly approaching “majority minority” status. The highest birth rates in Catholicism are in Latin America, Latino Americans, and Africa, etc. Pope Francis may come from Argentina but his parents were Italian and of Italian-extraction, so he is far from being a South American, just another overseas Italian and the church does love them some Italian (aka white) popes. How well that will continue to go down as Catholics become more and more brown and black skinned is what will be interesting to watch.

Still, the name of the religion game is to control the behavior of the masses to the benefit of the religious and secular elites. Since, for example, 96% of Catholic American women have used artificial birth control at some point in their lives, that control seems to be slipping. Ireland has approved gay marriage and may decriminalize abortion.

But the Catholic Church and other churches will continue to have opinions, backed with political muscle in these debates. Be sure, however, that there is no clear guidance from scripture on these and many other issues. (The Catholic Church also extols “tradition” as a basis for their opinions which equates to “the way we have always done things” which, surprise!, puts them in control of their opinions.)

And what do you call someone whose political stance is to preserve the status quo and all its institutions? Answer: a conservative. More and more the “opinions” of churches (for example, on the fitness of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States) is determined by their conservatism rather than their professed faith.

The game is all about power … over us. Are you surprised?

January 27, 2018

Breaking News: Religious Faith No Longer Needed!

I ran across an amazing breakthrough yesterday and needed some time to process it. Apparently the existence of a god or gods is now proven and therefore religious faith is no longer needed or wanted! Why operate upon a basis of faith when one has proof?

The document under discussion was posted at The Christian Post under their “Christian Evidence” column. The title? Need Proof That God Exists? Check This Out! The subtitle was “If you ever needed proof that God exists – here’s 30 of them.” What followed was astonishing. The first four on the list were the usual suspects: the ontological argument, the teleological argument, the fine tuning argument, etc. but then things got interesting in the form of 25 new proofs never before published! Here for example is #5:

  1. The Golden Ratio. In God’s creation, there exists a “Golden Ratio” (the mathematical constant of 1.618) that is exhibited in a multitude of shapes, numbers, and patterns whose relationship can only be the result of the omnipotent, good, and all-wise God of Scripture.

And here is #15:

15: Specific Bible verses have numbers and themes in the text of the Bible that seem to line up with the locations where the verses are found. This requires a supernatural author. For example, Matthew 24:42 is about the Day of the Lord. It is the 24th chapter, it’s about the DAY (24 hours) of the Lord; and the 42nd verse (reverse of 24) is the key verse to watch out for we don’t know when this DAY will occur. These three references to things related to 24 are all found in the 24,000th verse of the Bible (now that really sets it apart)! Mathematics shows it’s statistically impossible for this to be chance occurrence (calculated at billions to one could not be coincidence).

The sheer breathlessness of the presentation of these glaringly obvious proofs points to the author of the list being a home-schooled high school valedictorian. But I might be wrong in that guess (unlike the author).

Let’s just take just these two apart to see what we can see.

The exposition here seems somewhat incomplete as geometry is loaded with the fingerprints of the Lord and not just in the Golden Ratio. Take for example the fact that the interior angles of a square, actually any rectangle, add up to 360°, the same number of degrees as in a circle! What are the odds of that happening?! And there is nothing round about a rectangle! Parallelogram’s interior angles also add up to  360° even though it has no curves and not even a single right angle! Triangle’s interior angles add up to 180°, exactly half of those in the rectangles and has a different number of sides! Surely the Lord’s Creation is exposed here for all to see.

Uh, no. I just don’t think one can take mathematical oddities and follow them with “therefore God.” I suggest this person read the book Flatland to find out the real mystical properties of geometry.

Uh, no. It is highly unlikely that the authors of said scriptures embedded information in the numbers referred to. For one, nobody has ever seen the original manuscripts and copyists make mistakes, so these numbers could have gotten jumbled. More importantly, chapter and verse numbers were inserted into Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in the fucking 16th century. Robert Estienne (Robert Stephanus) was the first to number the verses within each chapter, his verse numbers entering printed editions in 1551 (New Testament) and 1571 (Hebrew Bible). Embedding knowledge in numbers that did not exist is not another miracle, by the way.

Well, this is disappointing. I thought these proofs would finally put faith to rest, but sadly it was not to be. It is encouraging, though, that the ranks of apologists are so thin they are recruiting teenagers to the task.

I will keep other examples from this list at hand for occasions in which I think you, dear reader, need a laugh. (Oh, go ahead, read the whole list if you want, but don’t blame me if you pull a muscle laughing. Take it slow and just read a few at a time and you should be okay.)



January 26, 2018

Right … Are You Sure It Wasn’t Aliens?

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:25 am
Tags: , ,

The Conversation (U.K.) website ran a piece yesterday with the interesting title “Religion isn’t the enemy of science: it’s been inspiring scientists for centuries” by Tom McLeish. (What has happened to the capitalization of titles?) Mr. McLeish is writing a book on the same topic. Many other British outlets including mainstream media organs produce puff pieces supporting religion and this is no different.

The author, of course, cherry picks the Jewish and Christian Bibles to make connections of those documents with the scientific method, and then, also of course, ignores all of the opposition to scientists and to scientific findings over the course of Church history.

Unsupported claims like “The content of this timeless text has clearly steered the story of science for centuries” are made. Steered the story of science … it sounds as if the Bible has been humanity’s research director all along and we just didn’t notice.

In reality, the Church has insisted that if one wanted to know anything, the answer was to be found in scripture. If it could not be found, then the question was too trivial for scripture to have addressed it, so the question was too trivial to pursue. If one insisted on pursuing answers to such questions, the scientist was being prideful and sinful and was subject to repercussions such as excommunication, house arrest, inability to publish, imprisonment, torture and death.

In the history of science there have been occasions in which scientists, being very sure that their thinking was right, bent their evidence to align it with their foregone conclusion. It happened then and it happens today, it is normal. It is also normal in science today that when a deception is discovered the scientist responsible is excoriated, typically loses his job, and is drummed out of the field. In the history of religion, theists who fabricate documents and religious relics are almost never chastised because having an excess of zeal is “erring on the high side” and is excused.

Many religious miracles have been investigated scientifically and none have been shown to have supernatural sources. More than a few have been shown to be the result of chicanery. Mechanisms to cause inanimate objects to more, statues to ooze “tears” or “blood,” etc. have been created to attract religious pilgrims, willing to pay a small fee to observe proof of their faith.

Proving faith is what this all comes down to. This is why apologists appeal to reason all of the time instead of faith. Faith is a dead end philosophically as there is no way to create more of it through faith, only through reason. (Ask C.S. Lewis.) Since the supernatural seemingly cannot be depended upon to provide what is needed, theists feel no compunction against, apparently, providing the proof that faith is reasonable by carefully fabricating “evidence” to support their positions. This “evidence” is designed to appeal to a certain audience of certain capabilities. What works for simple people does not necessarily work for intellectuals and vice-versa.

There are more than a few books telling us that science and religion are not only compatible but handmaidens in human progress. Since only a small fraction of our culture actually reads books, the messages in these books are directed at that audience. This one, I am sure, will be no different. The text will sound literate, offer citations (mostly scripture) and connections they see which in reality aren’t significant or, in many cases, appropriate. And, they will leave out the Church’s repression of scientific ideas that lasted for centuries.

If the Bible steered the story of science it is only because people were finally allowed to study its contents and then asked “How could that be?” (Remember the Church did not want people to be able to read the Bible, so it forbade its translation into vernacular languages. They wanted the Bible to be doled out by “experts” who knew what conclusions to draw. This cherry picking of scripture continues on today’s churches. When was the last time a minister preached on the meaning of the many massacres in the OT?) Those “How could that be?” thoughts led to investigations that almost always contradicted what scripture claimed. The list of bad science in scripture is very, very long and I will not bore you expounding it, but as just one example, if you get sick would you go to a doctor or to an exorcist? The Bible would have you go to the exorcist as demons create human maladies. And it isn’t that Church leaders have not known that what they are teaching in these areas is false, Renaissance Popes had Jewish doctors on retainer to treat their illness, even after Jewish doctors were banned from treating Christians. No exorcists for them, they wanted only the best medicine available, even if it came from detested Jews. (Much like Republicans claiming our health care system is the best in the world because their platinum health care plans are so much better than our tin ones.)


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