For some, the message of today’s short post doesn’t need restating. I apologize for wasting their time. However, I’m always amused when people trot out the “Hitler was a Christian,” or “Hitler was a Catholic” tropes. These are just as inaccurate as the “Hitler was an atheist” trope. Such canned statements show ignorance of history and naïveté in general. It behooves any powerful leader to pander to the religious ebb and flow of his day. Constantine did it, and the Roman Catholic Church was the result. Remember the photos of Bush 43 donning a Kipa and praying at the Wall? Hitler used religion. He tried to destroy mainstream churches. Jews weren’t the only ones consigned to concentration camps: priests, nuns and Jehovah’s Witness were, too. Hitler youth were indoctrinated in blasphemy from the ground up. Consider the following “children of Hitler” chant from the 1934 Nuremburg Party rally:
No evil priest can prevent us from feeling that we are the children of Hitler. We follow not Christ but Horst Wessel. Away with incense and holy water. The church can go hang for all we care. The swastika brings salvation on Earth. (Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p.442)
There was a Nazi rendition of “Silent Night” that was mandatory in state-run orphanages. The Nazis also had their own marriage and baptismal rites. This was anti-YHWH pagan occultism, plain and simple. Next time you hear somebody trot out the tropes, educate them.
I’ve never been a huge fan of holidays, at least not throughout my adult life. I mean, what kid doesn’t love them? You get time off from school, people often give you gifts, and sometimes you even get to dress up funny or scary and collect free candy. But as an adult, and a “religious” adult in particular, I find myself increasingly less enthused with them.
Christmas was the first to go on my “I so love holidays” list, for reasons I’d rather not digress into. In my experience, every argument given to support observance of holidays can be given in support of living holy everyday. Sure, holidays are good because we get to see friends and family, or because they prompt us to more deeply consider our convictions, or because some of us spend them giving to the poor, but people ought to have these things at heart every single day.
A few weeks back, I came across something I wanted to post here for future reference. The following core principles of source criticism were formulated by two Scandinavian historians, Olden-Jørgensen (1998) and Thurén (1997):
1) Human sources may be relics (e.g. a fingerprint) or narratives (e.g. a statement or a letter). Relics are more credible sources than narratives.
2) A given source may be forged or corrupted; strong indications of the originality of the source increases its reliability.
3) The closer a source is to the event which it purports to describe, the more one can trust it to give an accurate description of what really happened.
4) A primary source is more reliable than a secondary source, that is more reliable than a tertiary source and so on.
5) If a number of independent sources contain the same message, the credibility of the message is strongly increased.
6) The tendency of a source is its motivation for providing some kind of bias. Tendencies should be minimized or supplemented with opposite motivations.
7) If it can be demonstrated that the witness (or source) has no direct interest in creating bias, the credibility of the message is increased. (source)
Ingo Douglas Swan (Ingo Swann) is a Colorado-native and consciousness researcher who, along with laser experts Russell Targ and Harold ‘Hal’ Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute, pioneered the field of remote viewing (RV), an anomalous mental phenomenon where subjects appear to gain information by means outside the traditional senses.
Swann sees remote viewing as an innate human ability that can be activated and practiced like any other muscle, and not all parapsychologists or practitioners share this view. Swann claims to have had paranormal experiences since youth. In one experiment, conducted by Gertrude Schmeidler, a professor at City University in New York, Swann was apparently able to cause temperature fluctuations in sensitive equipment presumably by pure thought. Some of these thermometers were spread openly about the room, others were locked safely inside Thermos containers. The test went by sequence, in which Swann focused on a specific thermometer during each stage of the test. He was not allowed to move around the room and was given 45 seconds to rest between stages. Even amongst the sealed instruments, Swann was able to effect changes in temperature up to almost a full degree Celsius.1
On a thread at DA, I remarked that,
..improving the condition of the human species and doing things for the
benefit of our fellow living beings is what true religion is all
to which the Chaplain from An Apostate's Chapel replied,
What is the basis of this proposition?
The following post intends to perfunctorily answer her question. Let's refer to the idea that true religion entails improving the
condition of the human species and doing things for the benefit of our
fellow living beings as the Good Will Hypothesis (GWH).
Time-warp back to WWI around 1920, Newport (Rhode Island) Naval Training Station. The United States government per the Navy recruited male volunteers to pose as gay decoys to infiltrate the growing homosocial subculture the Navy had come to dislike.
The investigation led to the arrest of over twenty sailors and sixteen civilians, whom decoys then testified against in a series of both naval and civilian trials. One vein of entry the decoys used to gain access into the gay male subculture was the local "cruising areas," which are essentially a phenomenon of any underground subculture. Dopers, pill heads and any other kind of recreational drug user have theirs, as do artists, musicians, writers, bikers and skateboarders. People crave fellowship, and this intrinsic need does not simply disappear because the mainstream disapproves of a particular group.
The Bible is an object, and like any object, it can be used for many purposes.
After the Flood in Genesis 9, Noah planted a vineyard, got drunk and fell asleep naked. Apparently, Noah became angry with Ham, one of Noah’s sons, for telling his brothers about their father’s nakedness and having him covered. It doesn’t seem like that big an offense to me, but in the next verse we find Noah pronouncing a curse on Canaan:
"Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers." (v9:25)
A common false argument based in misunderstanding and fear directly blames Darwinism, atheism and evolution for such atrocities as genocide, fascism, racism and the Holocaust. Like most false arguments, this one has some degree of basis in reality, but not of the degree that can support such illogical claims.
This false argument has its grain of truth in the history of eugenics. Defined neutrally, eugenics is the study of human betterment through means of gene manipulation and control. The movement itself is said to begin with Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. In his work Hereditary Genius, Galton states his opinion that humanity should be eugenically regimented. Charles’ son Leonard Darwin was Chairman of the British Eugenics Society between 1911-1928, and vice-President of the 1912 and 1921 International Eugenics Congresses, the first of which was an offshoot of an earlier meeting by the predominantly German-controlled International Society for Racial Hygiene.
In one of many arguments to establish the New Testament as unreliable historically, Mangasarian brings up what he feels to be a discrepancy between accounts of what took place during the time immediately after Jesus’ birth.
Matthew records that after Jesus was born, Magi from the east came to visit him and present gifts. Prior to finding Jesus, they approached Herod and asked if he knew where the newborn ‘king of the Jews’ was. (Matthew 2:2) Herod, disturbed, told the Magi to report back to him when they found the location of the newborn ‘king of the Jews,’ no doubt a political move. The Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, while Mary and Joseph were warned in a dream to take Jesus and flee to Egypt. It is important to point out that the length of time the Magi stayed is not specified in Matthew’s account. Luke then records that after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple to be presented as was the Jewish custom of the time. Are the two in conflict, as Mangasarian claims?
Mangasarian writes, “It is impossible to reconcile the flight to Egypt with the presentation in the temple…Luke says nothing about this hurried flight. On the contrary, he tells us that after the 40 days of purification were over, Jesus was publicly presented at the temple, where Herod, if he really, as Matthew relates, wished to seize him, could have done so without difficulty.”
Luke indeed does write that after the 40 days of purification required by Jewish law were over Jesus was presented at the temple. So what exactly does Mangasarian contend? He is arguing that since Herod wanted to kill Jesus, there is no logical way in the world that Mary and Joseph would have presented Jesus in the temple, because Herod could have seized him. In theory it sounds logical. However, Mangasarian omits to mention Matthew 2:7,8 in which Herod originally told the Magi to report back to him to disclose the location of Jesus so he could worship him. However, the Magi never returned to Herod. It was not until two years later that Herod realized the Magi had ditched him. It was then that Herod “…gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (Matthew 2:16) Why, otherwise, would the edict include the detail of two years? In other words, I’m contending that the three could’ve slipped in for purification right under Herod’s nose, while he was waiting for the Magi to return.
So, at the time Jesus was being presented at the temple, 40 days after his birth, Herod was still waiting for the Magi to return and tell him where Jesus was. Herod may or may not have been engaging in an active search for the baby Jesus, his edict had not been decreed. Mangasarian forms an irrational conclusion from a faulty premise. The faulty premise is that ‘it is impossible to reconcile the flight to Egypt with the presentation in the temple.’ This, as just demonstrated, is not true. At the time Jesus was presented in the temple, Herod was waiting for the Magi to return. It was not until two years after Jesus had been born that Herod gave his murderous orders.
So, the likely scenario is that Jesus was born and presented in the temple forty days later, and shortly thereafter, Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt. Mangasarian’s faulty conclusion is that ‘this inconsistency is certainly insurmountable and makes it look as if the narrative had no value whatever as history.’
Mangasarian has made better arguments against the New Testament. The only inconsistency in this case Mangasarian’s inaccurate interpretation of scripture.
Questions of absolute historicity cast temporarily aside, Luke was probably somewhat of a thinking man, an analytical person who operated on known and demonstrable fact rather than whimsical allegory.
The opening of his gospel, which was written to a man named Theophilus and quite possibly never intended for general reading, records, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us…Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4)
There is much to infer from these verses. Generally, Luke speaks as an articulate, educated person. He is very calculating and precise. There is much less heated emotion in his recording of things than, say, John’s. In matters of factual reporting, Luke’s writing is strong. I get the impression from Luke’s writing that he was somewhat reserved or skeptical and that he weighed and measured everything that transpired during those years with the utmost consideration. William Mitchell Ramsay, (1851-1939) noted archaeologist of Asia Minor, wrote that, “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness,” and Luke himself said he had, “carefully investigated everything from the beginning.” Of course that doesn’t make Luke’s claims about Jesus automatically true or absolutely historically accurate, but it certainly inspires one to wonder why such a calculated account would reference something as intellectually contradictory as resurrection, unless it either actually happened or there was some motive in the pretense of it actually happening.
Also of interest was the personal nature of his presentation. It was apparently intended for a man named Theophilus, and the prefix, “most excellent” implies this person was either a close friend of Luke’s or somebody Luke held in high regards for whatever reason. I infer that Luke did not write his account of things for a general audience. This is just my inference; in no way do I present it as historically valid. Whether Luke intended to write for a mass audience or not, this particular piece was intended for a friend or superior of his. A third observation is the closing statement, which is seemingly revelatory of Luke’s intent. He says, “…so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” This implies a desire for the preservation of historical fact and overall truth. There is concern for truth in that statement. Again, if Luke or later copyists were lying, then this statement was born of a complex, calculated desire to deceive.
Who would he want to deceive about Christ? And why? It got him and his friends ridiculed and killed. What if Christianity was one big lie? First of all, socially and culturally speaking, lies are usually constructed to advance an agenda. What type of agenda could the early Christians be charged with having? There were definitely zero benefits to being a Christian in Roman-ruled Judea during the first century.