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Sunday, June 4, 2006
 Re: If you were setting the agenda...

Topic: Commentary

I recently received a mass e-mail message from the Democratic Party asking "what would you do if you were setting the agenda". This is what they had to say:

Imagine for a moment that you're Republican Bill Frist, the Senate's Majority Leader, and you have the power and awesome responsibility to control what issues the Senate considers and when it considers them. Knowing everything you do about the crises facing our nation and the things that most concern Americans, would your top priority be to:

A) Force the administration to change its failed strategy in Iraq

B) Help consumers walloped by $3.00 a gallon gas and take steps to reduce our oil addiction

C) Pass the first minimum wage increase in 10 years and develop plans to create good jobs in America

D) Expand educational opportunities for college by providing relief from skyrocketing college tuition

E) Ensure access to health care for every American

F) Amend the Constitution to deprive gay people of equal rights under the law

As someone who cares deeply about this nation, its problems and its future, you probably said A, B, C, D, or E. But Republican Majority Leader Frist chose F.

The question was rhetorical, of course, and there was no way to actually reply to the e-mail, but I went to the Democratic Party website and replied from there. This is my response:

As a Leftist I think that the agenda of the Democratic Party should be to fundamentally make the case for  Leftist principles the way that the Republican Party fundamentally makes the case for its Right-wing policy.

If *I* were setting the agenda this is what I would do:

  • Promote and defend secularism, science, and rationalism both in public and in the Senate.
  • Nothing should be done to change the market price of petroleum products. The market price of fuel encourages conservation and efficiency. Taking action to reduce the price of fuel is counter productive.
  • Move for a Global Minimum Wage to be paid by all employers from developed countries when the employ workers in developing nations, or when they purchase goods from suppliers in developing nations. This would require a treaty with the G8 and all other developed nations.
  • In conjunction with the Global Minimum Wage, also move to remove all tariffs on foreign trade.
  • Completely rework the college scholarship system for pubic universities. All public scholarships should be terminated and replaced with a system that compensates based on grades. Students should be reimbursed 95% for As, 75% for Bs, and 50% for Cs. No reimbursement for Ds and Fs.
  • Promote and defend a fundamental ideology as the Republicans have done. Republican social and economic claims must be countered with the factual analysis which shows that social changes are products of economic changes. Social Changes in our society that conservatives complain about are in fact products of free-market capitalism and industrialization. The movement of the home based economy to an economy dominated by multi-national corporations, where 98% of production takes place outside of the home, is what has led to the major social changes in America over the past 100 years, especially the past 50 years. Yes women used to work in the home, back when the majority of businesses were run from the home.
  • Stop claiming that healthcare is a right. Healthcare is not a right, and should never be considered as such. Healthcare is a luxury that we, as the richest nation in the history of the world, should provide to all citizens both because it is cheaper in the long run, and because we have the means to do so, but it is not a right. Just because healthcare is not a right does not mean that we should not provide universal healthcare.
  • Remove the special taxation laws for capital gains. The taxation system can be simplified and made fair by taxing all forms of income equally. It is indefensible to have workers subsidizing investors by taxing workers more than investors.
  • Increase taxes on the wealthy and reduce taxes on the poor and middle class. Defend this with the same reasoning used by Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower: The wealthy receive the most benefit from society and the State, and thus deserve to pay the most for the benefits that they receive.
  • Tax the profits of the petroleum industry and use that money for research & development projects for alternative energy. Allow the petroleum industry to get their own money back by participating in this R&D if they choose.

The Republican Party has been faltering for 4 years now, yet in this entire time the Democrats have shown their incompetence by their inability to provide and substantial alternative to Republican ideas and programs. Despite the Republicans being in an extremely weak and exposed position, the Democrats remain unable to capitalize the the events, because they have no core message, not set of principles, and are afraid to take on a truly progressive agenda. They continue to do nothing, and provide few meaningful alternatives. They offer no solutions to the issues that people really care about, because they are unable to challenge Republican ideology in any meaningful way.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 1:31 PM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, June 4, 2006 1:47 PM EDT
Friday, May 26, 2006
 Debunking the "Da Vinci Code" Debunkers and the Jesus Myth

Topic: Announcements

Debunking the "Da Vinci Code" Debunkers and the Jesus Myth

This article is meant to address the claims that are being used by religious organizations as they challenge the points made in The Da Vince Code. A critical aspect of the article is the discussion of the mythology of Jesus, showing that while claims made in The Da Vinci Code may be false, the claims used to refute The Da Vinci Code are often false as well.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 9:54 PM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Saturday, May 13, 2006
 Da Vinci Code Critics - Fighting Lies with Lies

Topic: Commentary

With all of the fallacies in The Da Vinci Code it gives priests, preachers, and fundamentalists the perfect opportunity to convince people of even more fallacies. Many of the things that Dan Brown presents as "true" in his work of "historical fiction" are in fact false, gross misstatements, or products of proven mistakes or misrepresentations, and this provides an easy target for Christians to fight against.

I have already been able to see many historical fallacies being promoted by Christians in opposition to The Da Vinci Code. Here is an analysis of some of the "best":

The Da Vinci Code's Top 10 Errors

1) CLAIM: Jesus was merely a man, not God. Brown says that the “pagan” Roman emperor Constantine, for the purpose of consolidating his power, created the “myth” that Jesus was resurrected after being crucified. (231-234).

ANSWER: Constantine, who converted to Christianity and ended Rome’s persecution of Christians, convened the Council of Nicea in 325, but only to sort out differences among church leaders, all of whom believed Jesus was divine. Early church historians referred routinely to Christ’s divinity, including Ignatius (105 A.D.) and Clement (150 A.D.)

Ironically, there is plenty of support for the claim that there was no Jesus at all. Nevertheless, Constantine did not convert to Christianity until he was on his deathbed at the very least, if this even happened. So many of the stories about Constantine are forged that it is hard to separate fact from fiction, but certainly we do know that many of the stories about Constantine were fabricated by later priests and popes in order to lay claim to imperial property and provide a basis for their power, claiming that it was granted to them by Constantine, who had for all his life been the high priest of Deus Sol Invictus. Constantine always believed that Jesus was just another representation of the sun god Helios.

Additionally, not all of the early Christians did think that Jesus was divine. Yes, there were many early church fathers that did refer to him as divine, but there were others that did not. The ones that didn't believe he was divine have simply been rejected, and are not counted as "true Christians" today, so this self-imposed filtering is just a bit of nonsense. Everyone who didn't believe in a divine Jesus was rejected, but that doesn't mean that there weren't plenty of people who didn't believe in a divine Jesus.

3) CLAIM: The four New Testament Gospels (the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) comprise a false account. Numerous ancient writings tell a more truthful story.

ANSWER: Brown bases his view on 52 books collectively called the Gnostic Gospels, discovered in 1945 in Nag Hammadi, Egypt. All were written more than a century after the Biblical Gospels were written. None of these books has any tie to eyewitnesses in Christ’s time, unlike the Gospels themselves.

The Gospels have no ties to eyewitness accounts either. None of the stories about Jesus are based on eyewitness accounts. All of the Gospels about Jesus, including the ones that didn't make it into the Bible, such as the Gospel of Thomas, were written as if they were eyewitness accounts, but none of them were. This is most obvious when dealing with the story of the birth of Jesus, which is written as if it were based on eyewitness accounts, even though that would obviously have been impossible. The same can be said for all of the other myths of the ancient world. Stories about Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Orion, Hercules, etc., are written as if they were eye witness accounts too.

5) CLAIM: Jesus did not die on the cross but married Mary Magdalene and fathered children with her. Brown claims the church was led by Mary Magdalene, whose role was covered up by a ruthless Catholic Church.

ANSWER: Jesus’ crucifixion and reappearance after the resurrection are perhaps the best-documented theological events in history, with literally hundreds of eyewitnesses. The Roman pagan historian Flavius Josephus recorded the event this way:

"He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him."[3]

The nonsense about Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene and having children with her came from the Plantard forgeries and the Gnostic gospels of Phillip and “Mary Magdala.”

First of all, the quote that is referenced here is widely acknowledged to be full of errors. Secondly, the writing from which the quote is supposedly taken was not written until 93 CE and would, even at best, have been based on claims of other people, not a first hand account. Adding to that the oldest existing copy of the quote comes from a Christian source from the 800s, and there are many different copies of the text which don't mention Christ at all. For the many errors in this quote see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

Thirdly, the Bible has many contradictions about the number of people Jesus supposedly appeared before after he died. All of the books except one state that "only a few" people saw Jesus after his supposed resurrection:

Acts 10:

33 Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."

34 Then Peter began to speak: ... 39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

The number of people, and who they were, that Jesus appeared before according to the Bible is different according to every account.

Matthew: 13
Mark: 14
Luke: 13 plus an ambiguous amount: "them that were with them"
John: 14
Paul (I Corinthians): 500

For more information on the contradictions in the story of Jesus' resurrection see: http://www.outreachjudaism.org/crucifix.html

There are no claims of a crucified person, Jesus or otherwise, appearing to people after death, aside from in the Bible. Likewise there are dozens of other myths from the same time about other people or man-gods who supposedly came back from the dead and appeared before people too.

The claim that Jesus appeared before 500 people comes from one source, Paul, whom we know never saw Jesus at all or had any contact with anyone who had ever actually seen Jesus. None of the Gospels state that Jesus appeared to 500 people, only that he appeared to the apostils and a couple more (each Gospel lists different people that he appeared before). Far from being "the best documented theological event in history", the story of Jesus' death and resurrection is quite contradictory between all the accounts, and none of them can be considered "documentation", since none of them are eye-witness accounts, they are all STORIES.

Fourthly, however, even if we take the Gospel accounts of Jesus' death at face value, and this whole event isn't just a fabricated myth, then that does nothing to say that he didn't simply survive the crucifixion (he was supposedly taken down after a short period of time according to the story, not left for weeks to rot on the cross as was typical) and then leave town.

8) CLAIM: The “sacred feminine” was at the heart of the early church, but was ruthlessly suppressed. “It was man, not God, who created the concept of ‘original sin,’ whereby Eve tasted of the apple and caused the downfall of the human race. Woman, once the sacred giver of life, was now the enemy” (238).

ANSWER: Once again (and throughout the book), Brown calls Scripture a colossal lie. Far from oppressing women, the church has proved to be a liberating force. Women have achieved unprecedented status in nations where Christianity has had an impact. Jesus honored women among His followers. Mary Magdalene was the first to discover the empty tomb, see the resurrected Christ, and to tell the other believers.

Let's see, the Bible states that wives "should submit to their husbands", Jesus had basically no relationship with his mother, the 12 apostles were all men, Eve is the one who "cursed us all", women haven't been allowed to have leadership roles in the church until just recently, against much church opposition, etc., etc.

In what way did Christianity help women? Women were leaders in civic and religious life in the ancient world until Christianity came along. Women had positions of power in society in Greece and Rome and among many of the other so-called pagan cultures in Europe prior to Christianity. What examples are there of the church "liberating women"? By making them cover their heads and bodies and become nuns? Women have achieved unprecedented status in nations where Christianity has had any impact - IN SPITE OF Christianity, not because of it.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 7:23 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, May 18, 2006 6:57 AM EDT
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
 The Irony of Da Vinci Code Criticism

Topic: Commentary

Ripping 'The Da Vinci Code'

Catholic Anwsers: Cracking The Da Vinci Code

With the coming of The Da Vinci Code to the big screen many Christian organizations, especially Catholic ones, are heavily criticizing the story. To be sure The Da Vinci Code is full of factual errors and presents a very twisted distortion of history. The Catholic Church is upset with The Da Vinci Code because it humanizes Jesus and presents him has a "real person", claiming that the story undermines Jesus' divinity, but the real irony is that The Da Vinci Code presents Jesus as more real than he really was.

Ultimately The Da Vinci Code lends support to the real fallacy, which is that Jesus actually existed and was a real person. As much as The Da Vinci Code presents itself as uncovering the "hidden truth", all it does is lend even more support to the biggest lie, which is that Jesus was a real live historical figure.

The reality is that The Da Vinci Code is based on the many fictional accounts of the Jesus figure. Yes, The Da Vinci Code is based on various texts about Jesus, but these texts are just as much fiction as the Gospels of the Bible are. The real truth is that all of the works about "Jesus" were fictional and mythological accounts, from which the Catholic Church chose four of the earliest ones that were the most believable. In reality there were close to 100 different stories written about "Jesus", and there were even more similar stories written about other mythical "saviors of mankind".

The Jesus story was not new or novel when it became popular. Stories about saviors born from virgins who had been impregnated by a god were as common in the ancient world as sci-fi stories are today. Likewise, stories about saviors who died for the sins of the people were common as well. Stories about half-god half-men who were killed and resurrected were equally as common as the afore mentioned motifs, as were stories about god-men that could turn water into wine, heal diseases, and walk on water. These are all common themes in many different mythological stories that were popular at the time that Christianity was born.

If we look at the structure of the Catholic religion we see that it mirrors the common pagan religions of the day. Effectively:

  • Jesus = Helios / Dionysus / Osirus / Zoroaster / Mithras / etc.
  • Mary = Diana / Isis / Ianna / Hera / etc.
  • 12 Apostles = 12 Signs of the Zodiac, a common theme in mythology of the time
  • Angels = Angels (Angels come from Greek mythology, the word means messenger)
  • Saints = Lesser gods
  • Satan = Angra Mainyu / Pluto / Hades / etc.
  • Demons = Devils / Imps / Pan / Lesser gods (the word devil comes from Persian language and was introduced to Greek culture after the conquest of Alexander the Great)

Thomas Paine, one of the founding figures of the United States, understood the role that the earlier Greek and Roman religions played in the development of Christian mythology:

It is, however, not difficult to account for the credit that was given to the story of Jesus Christ being the son of God. He was born when the heathen mythology had still some fashion and repute in the world, and that mythology had prepared the people for the belief of such a story. Almost all the extraordinary men that lived under the heathen mythology were reputed to be the sons of some of their gods. It was not a new thing, at that time, to believe a man to have been celestially begotten; the intercourse of gods with women was then a matter of familiar opinion. Their Jupiter, according to their accounts, had cohabited with hundreds: the story, therefore, had nothing in it either new, wonderful, or obscene; it was conformable to the opinions that then prevailed among the people called Gentiles, or Mythologists, and it was those people only that believed it. The Jews who had kept strictly to the belief of one God, and no more, and who had always rejected the heathen mythology, never credited the story.

It is curious to observe how the theory of what is called the Christian church sprung out of the tail of the heathen mythology. A direct incorporation took place in the first instance, by making the reputed founder to be celestially begotten. The trinity of gods that then followed was no other than a reduction of the former plurality, which was about twenty or thirty thousand: the statue of Mary succeeded the statue of Diana of Ephesus; the deification of heroes changed into the canonization of saints; the Mythologists had gods for everything; the Christian Mythologists had saints for everything; the church became as crowded with one, as the Pantheon had been with the other, and Rome was the place of both. The Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of the ancient Mythologists, accommodated to the purposes of power and revenue; and it yet remains to reason and philosophy to abolish the amphibious fraud.
- The Age of Reason; Thomas Paine, 1794

Indeed, some of the early saints were simply popular gods that were re-branded as Christian symbols. Just as each little god of the Greeks and Romans was dedicated to a specific role, such as the "god of sea fairing", "the god of travel", "the god of love", "the god of good harvest", etc., the saints simply took on these same roles. There are thousands of saints, just as their were thousands of lesser gods among the pagans. Pagan temples were in fact converted into places of worship for saints. Pagan tokens became saint tokens, etc.

There is really nothing at all in the Jesus story that is new or original; it's all there in hundreds of different myths from all over the Roman world.

Many of the early Christians didn't believe that Jesus was a real person, they believed that Jesus represented an idea or that Jesus was a myth, whose story was meant as a metaphor.

The irony is that The Da Vinci Code leads people to believe that there is more historical evidence for Jesus than there really is, when in fact the case is just the opposite. The evidence overwhelmingly shows that at the very least the character of Jesus in the Bible is a product of fiction and myth. If there is any historical basis to the Jesus story at all, then it is small and buried beneath a mountain of mythology and fantasy.

Indeed even the most celebrated part of the Jesus story, his supposed crucifixion, is very much in doubt. In truth there was no early belief that Jesus was killed on a cross. This is a story that came much later and has been affected by suspect translations. Even the Bible states in some sections that Jesus was killed by being hanged from a tree.

Acts 10:39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

The Gospels in their original Greek did not refer to any crucifix but used the word "stauros" (Mark 18:21, Matthew 27:32, Luke 23:26, John 19:17), meaning a stake or vertical pole. The Talmud refers to a Yeshua (the Hebrew version of the name Jesus) who claimed to be the messiah that was stoned to death and then hung from a tree.

Early Christians worshiped the cross for reasons that had nothing to do with the death of Jesus, as is illustrated by this defense of cross worship by an early Christian father, which lists many reasons for worshiping the cross, but never mentions Jesus:

The charge of worshipping a cross. The heathens themselves made much of crosses in sacred things; nay, their very idols were formed on a crucial frame.

As for him who affirms that we are "the priesthood of a cross," we shall claim him as our co-religionist. A cross is, in its material, a sign of wood; amongst yourselves also the object of worship is a wooden figure. Only, whilst with you the figure is a human one, with us the wood is its own figure. Never mind for the present what is the shape, provided the material is the same: the form, too, is of no importance, if so be it be the actual body of a god. If, however, there arises a question of difference on this point what, (let me ask,) is the difference between the Athenian Pallas, or the Pharian Ceres, and wood formed into a cross, when each is represented by a rough stock, without form, and by the merest rudiment of a statue of unformed wood? Every piece of timber which is fixed in the ground in an erect position is a part of a cross, and indeed the greater portion of its mass. But an entire cross is attributed to us, with its transverse beam, of course, and its projecting seat. Now you have the less to excuse you, for you dedicate to religion only a mutilated imperfect piece of wood, while others consecrate to the sacred purpose a complete structure. The truth, however, after all is, that your religion is all cross, as I shall show. You are indeed unaware that your gods in their origin have proceeded from this hated cross. Now, every image, whether carved out of wood or stone, or molten in metal, or produced out of any other richer material, must needs have had plastic hands engaged in its formation. Well, then, this modeller, before he did anything else, hit upon the form of a wooden cross, because even our own body assumes as its natural position the latent and concealed outline of a cross. Since the head rises upwards, and the back takes a straight direction, and the shoulders project laterally, if you simply place a man with his arms and hands outstretched, you will make the general outline of a cross. Starting, then, from this rudimental form and prop, as it were, he applies a covering of clay, and so gradually completes the limbs, and forms the body, and covers the cross within with the shape which he meant to impress upon the clay; then from this design, with the help of compasses and leaden moulds, he has got all ready for his image which is to be brought out into marble, or clay, or whatever the material be of which he has determined to make his god. (This, then, is the process:) after the cross-shaped frame, the clay; after the clay, the god. In a well-understood routine, the cross passes into a god through the clayey medium. The cross then you consecrate, and from it the consecrated (deity) begins to derive his origin. By way of example, let us take the case of a tree which grows up into a system of branches and foliage, and is a reproduction of its own kind, whether it springs from the kernel of an olive, or the stone of a peach, or a grain of pepper which has been duly tempered under ground. Now, if you transplant it, or take a cutting off its branches for another plant, to what will you attribute what is produced by the propagation? Will it not be to the grain, or the stone, or the kernel? Because, as the third stage is attributable to the second, and the second in like manner to the first, so the third will have to be referred to the first, through the second as the mean. We need not stay any longer in the discussion of this point, since by a natural law every kind of produce throughout nature refers back its growth to its original source; and just as the product is comprised in its primal cause, so does that cause agree in character with the thing produced. Since, then, in the production of your gods, you worship the cross which originates them, here will be the original kernel and grain, from which are propagated the wooden materials of your idolatrous images. Examples are not far to seek. Your victories you celebrate with religious ceremony as deities; and they are the more august in proportion to the joy they bring you. The frames on which you hang up your trophies must be crosses: these are, as it were, the very core of your pageants. Thus, in your victories, the religion of your camp makes even crosses objects of worship; your standards it adores, your standards are the sanction of its oaths; your standards it prefers before Jupiter himself, But all that parade of images, and that display of pure gold, are (as so many) necklaces of the crosses. in like manner also, in the banners and ensigns, which your soldiers guard with no less sacred care, you have the streamers (and) vestments of your crosses. You are ashamed, I suppose, to worship unadorned and simple crosses.
source: Ad Nationes; 197 : http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/03061.htm


Helios surrounded by 12 virgins, 12 disciples, and 12 signs of the zodiac


Apollo with halo


Apollo with halo


Christ as the sun-god from tomb in St. Peter's Basilica, discovered in 1942


Early image of Christ as "The Good Shepherd" (A common pre-Christian theme)


Jesus performing "miracle of loaves and fishes" depicted in royal robes

All of the earliest images of Jesus show him without a beard. The philosopher's beard and robes that he is traditionally seen in now were added around the 6th century CE.



From 420 CE, this is one of the earliest images of Jesus' crucifixion


Isis and Horus - Mary and Christ


Isis and Horus mosaic from The House of Dionysus


pre-Christian Roman figure


Mary - Queen of Heaven


Hera - Queen of Heaven

Helios the sun god "walked on the water" and had "12 disciples". Helio's resurrection after three days of death was celebrated on December 25th - Sol Invictus (Invincible Sun). The sun "died" on December 22nd, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The sun was "reborn" on December 25th, 3 days later. Sol Invictus was appropriated by the Christians to become Christmas.

The Emperor Aurelian dedicated the Sol Invictus Temple on December 25th, 274 CE. The dedication celebration was called The Birthday of the Invincible Sun.

From Greek mythology the mortal hero Orion was fathered by the god Neptune. While Orion's story does not parallel that of Jesus', he was claimed to be able to walk on water.

Dionysus was a man-god of peace who was conceived by Zeus and a mortal woman named Semele. Before his birth Dionysus was merged with Zeus and then born from the god. Dionysus was a bringer of peace and was said to be able to convert water into wine. He was eventually tortured, killed, and resurrected according to myth.

The Egyptian god Osirus was one of the most important gods. He was the god of the dead, and considered to be a merciful god that judged the souls of the dead to see if they could enter the eternal afterlife. Osirus gave birth to the child-god Horus. Osirus was said to have died and been resurrected. The yearly growth of grain was said to represent the resurrection of Osirus and thus bread was seen as the body of Osirus. Every year "The Passion of Osirus" was performed as a religious play in which Osirus was killed, dismembered, rejoined, and then reborn. After Osirus is resurrected Horus sends him on to the afterlife and then there is a battle between Horus and Set in which Horus defeats the evil Set.

After the Greek and Egyptian cultures had merged, due to the conquest of Alexander the Great, the cult of Osirus and Horus was merged with the cult of Dionysus. The rituals and myths of these cults were also merged with Platonic philosophy, which was ostensibly monotheistic and believed that the material world is corrupt and the afterlife is a place of purity where the soul rejoices after death.

For more on the mythology of Jesus see:

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/

http://www.medmalexperts.com/POCM/index.html

http://www.jesuspuzzle.com/

http://www.sabbatarian.com/Paganism/Madonna05.html

http://www.jesus8880.com/chapters/gematria/helios-greek-mythology.htm

http://www.artsales.com/ARTistory/angelic_journey/

http://www.qohs.org/depts/fpa/art/art_history/chapterseven.htm

http://www.coco.cc.az.us/apetersen/_ART201/early_ch.htm


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 10:31 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, May 12, 2006 8:22 PM EDT
Thursday, May 4, 2006
 Review of April 23rd Speaking Event

Topic: Announcements

he April 23rd speaking event actually took place on two days, the 21st and the 23rd. Together there were about 40 attendees, most of which were college students. After the video presentation of Ancient Monster Hunters I gave a 45 presentation that expanded on the information presented in the video.

The focus of my presentation dealt with the extent to which fossils have influenced cultures from around the world and how the rise of Christianity led directly to the loss of knowledge about fossils in Greek and Roman civilization and prevented later generations from understanding them.

The accepted view for the past 200 years in Western Civilization has been that "savages" and the ancients would have been incapable of comprehending what fossils were. The reality, however, is that virtually every culture in the world for the past several thousand years, except for Christian and Islamic culture, has recognized fossils and incorporated them into their worldviews.

In fact, the story of Noah and the "Great Flood" from the book of Genesis was likely inspired by fossils as well. Many ancient cultures believed in a world wide flood, because many different cultures, especially throughout Mesopotamia, observed fossilized seashells and fish on mountaintops. Seashells are by far the most common types of fossils, and were prevalent across Mesopotamia and around the world. We do have several recorded accounts from as far back as 500 BCE of people specifically stating that they believed that the world had been covered in water at one time because of the shells that they had found in the mountains. It is very likely that these observations and beliefs date back even farther and influenced flood myths in many cultures, including the flood myth of the Sumerians, The Epic of Gilgamesh, which the story of Noah is based upon.

For ancients, who saw seashells on mountaintops, the conclusion that the mountains must have been under water at some time was a logical conclusion, but they were unaware of plate tectonics of course, and thus had no way of knowing that the mountains had been pushed up from what had once been seabed.

Fossils were extremely important in Greek culture, both to the pagans and the materialists. Fossils became central to Greek pagan beliefs, and they became central installations in several Greek cities and were often on display in Greek temples. For Greek and Roman pagans fossils validated their mythological beliefs, and were thus very important symbols for their religions.

For the Greek materialists fossils were integral to their theory of evolution and their understanding of earth history.

For these reasons fossils and knowledge of fossils were majors targets of destruction for the Christians when they came to power. Fossils were important items that validated the beliefs of non-Christians, and were thus a threat to Christian beliefs and cultural domination. As such, Christians destroyed fossils and did not teach about them. A couple hundred years after the Christians came to power, knowledge of fossils had been forgotten in Western Civilization. For Christians the basis of knowledge was divine revelation, and the natural world was seen as something corrupt and not worthy of study. As such, for the next thousand plus years fossils were generally ignored and overlooked by Christian theologians and scholars.

When Europeans came to the Americas they encountered the Native Americans, many of which had a profound understanding of fossils and had integrated knowledge of fossils into their worldview. One of the first things that the Aztecs did when they came in contact with Cortez was show him their collection of fossils, which they claimed (and probably truly believed) were the remains of giants whom their ancestors had slain. This was a myth that validated the power of the Aztec people.

Western paleontology was heavily bolstered by the work and knowledge of the Native Americans, who introduced Europeans to many new fossils. The Europeans, however, gave no credit to the natives, shipping back tons of fossils to Europe, while taking all of the credit for discovering them.

Fossils held great cultural significance to many native tribes. In fact, the Zuni tribe had developed an origin myth that is essentially equivalent to the theory of evolution. They did so because of their careful observations of nature.

The Zuni creation story states that the earth is older than can be known, and that the earth was originally covered in water. In the early times there were many small bizarre creatures. Over time life developed and changed and grew bigger. During this time humans existed as small slimy creatures that lived in the water and were preyed upon by great monstrous creatures. Then the children of the sun-god came and began to dry out the earth so that land would be exposed. Life, including the proto-humans, moved onto land where it continued to evolve and change. On land even larger and greater predators developed, which continued to prey on the early weak humans.

Then the gods came and began killing all of the giant beasts with lightening, turning them to stone. Then, after all of the great beasts were killed, humans were able to develop and prosper.

This is the Zuni story of creation. It was developed based on fossil evidence and it closely resembles our present evolutionary understanding of the history of life on earth.

The fact of the matter is that human history has been significantly misinterpreted in Western Civilization because of the effects of Christianity. Not only did Christians eliminate much knowledge of natural history when they came to power, but they inculcated Western Civilization with a worldview that was divorced from reality and nature. As a result, Western culture has tended to view all cultures as being as divorced from reality as their own, but in reality most cultures have been much more naturalistic than Christian culture and based their understandings of the world on natural observations.

One question that I received after the presentation was:

What would explain why it is that so many cultures developed mythological explanations for fossils, or, in a more general sense, why do mythological explanations for phenomena seem more prevalent historically than naturalistic ones.

My answer at the time was that I did not know, but I think now that I do have an answer for this question. I believe the answer is that explanations for phenomena that have a perceived social value are naturally selected for. Myths are typically moralistic. They offer explanations that have direct social implications. When the cultures found giant bones they could explain them in many ways. Naturalistic explanations typically don't have any direct moral or social implication, they do not enforce sets of values or lend support to social systems. Mythological stories, however, can use the weight of observable evidence, such as giant bones, to lend support to moralistic stories that affect social behavior. Myths dominated ancient cultures because their main purpose was not to explain the world for the sake of explaining the world, their purpose was to support social institutions.

"Look at the power of our gods! Our gods have killed giants and turned them to stone, as you can see from these giant bones. Do you think that you can defy gods that are powerful enough to kill giants? Only a fool would think that they could defy such powerful gods! The gods have put me into power to rule and control you. If you defy me you defy the will of the gods, and as you can see, the gods are more powerful than any man. You can never hope to defy the gods, and you can never hope to defy me!"

The fact that mythological explanation serve some ulterior purpose has a lot to do with their use to explain phenomena, as we can see with the current debate of evolution and creationism in America today. The supporters of creation mythology support it for moralistic reasons, not for scientific ones.

Timeline of Fossil References

~50,000 years ago - Neanderthals collected fossil mollusk shells and used them to make necklaces.

~6000 BCE - Fossilized fish and shark teeth collected in ancient Egypt.

~3000 BCE - Legends of griffins recorded by the Babylonians.

~1600 BCE - First recordings of "dragon bones" in Chinese texts.

~2000 BCE - Evidence that Native Americans were finding and interpreting fossils by this time.

~1000 BCE - ~200 CE - Greeks and Romans record findings of large stone bones, as well as other fossils. Some of these items were excavated and put on display.

~600 BCE - ~100 CE - Greeks develop naturalistic explanations for fossils and use them to develop evolutionary explanations for the development of life on earth.

~300 BCE - First detailed description of dinosaur fossils in China by Chang Qu, who describes them as "dragon bones".

~414 CE - Chinese monk describes "dragon bones" he found in the Gobi desert.

~420 CE - Augustine of Hippo (Saint Augustine) Recalls having seen giant bones during his pagan years. Recommends using the pagan belief that there used to be giants to convince people to believe in the accounts in Genesis of people living to be hundreds of years old. Augustine also established the Christian doctrine that the earth was less than 6,000 years old.

~530 CE - The Code of Justinian legally demands the destruction of all non-Christian culture and scholarship.

~700 CE - Japanese describe a fossilized mound of sea shells in great detail.

~1020 - Muslim scholar publishes work on erosion, and argues that fossils are not the remains of previously living things, but rather just types of rocks.

~1500 - Leonardo da Vinci refutes common Christian explanation of fossil shells in the mountains as evidence of "The Great Flood", and refutes the dismissal of other fossils as unimportant.

1590 - The head of a dragon sculpted in Austria is noted to have been modeled on a "dragon skull" that was found in a rock quarry in 1335.

1668 - Robert Hooke presents a lecture to the Royal Society of Britain stating that fossil shells in mountains are not evidence of a global flood as described in the book of Genesis, but rather that mountains have been raised up by earthquakes from what was once sea bed.

Recommended reading:

The First Fossil Hunters - Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times. Mayor, Adrienne
Fossil Legends of the First Americans. Mayor, Adrienne
The Forgotten Revolution - How Science was Born in 300 BC and Why it Had to Be Reborn. Russo, Lucio
Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections - Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture. Lloyd, G.E.R.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 10:21 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, May 5, 2006 7:28 AM EDT
Monday, April 10, 2006
 Speaking event Sunday, April 23rd

Topic: Announcements

Fossils, Mythology, and Science in the Ancient World
Sunday, April 23, 2006 at 3:00pm

Recent reexamination of the historical record shows that ancient cultures were aware of fossils and had a general understanding of what they were. New scholarship examines the role that fossils played in the development of Greek mythology, as well as Greek philosophy and science. This presentation will not only examine what the Greeks knew about the fossil record, but why it is that their knowledge was not passed on.

Presentation includes:
 

  • 50 minute showing of "Ancient Monster Hunters"
  • 30 Minute speaking presentation
  • Group discussion

Additional Information

BCC North Campus - Building 47, Room 112
1000 Coconut Creek Blvd.
Coconut Creek, FL

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/fll/


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 11:05 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 7:17 PM EDT
Friday, March 31, 2006
 What is Going Unsaid in the Globalization and Immigration "Debate"

Topic: Commentary

Americans love the idea of "free-market" capitalism when it works in their favor, but as soon as someone else starts competing then those "free markets" don't look so good. We saw this with the Dubai Ports deal, the CNOOK oil deal from China, and we see it with American attitudes on immigration as well.

Ironically, blocking China from legitimately purchasing Unocal, an American company that primarily owns oil properties in Asia, only resulted in pushing China more towards dealing with Iran, thereby weakening our national security, not protecting it.

Here is the deal though, Western capital has been going into markets all around the world and in developing countries for hundreds of years. Western capitalists and the Western public have been praising "free-market" capitalism for the past century precisely because the West had all of the natural advantages, and "free-markets" at that point meant foreign countries opening up their boarders and their markets so that the West could dominate them, own their infrastructure, and control their labor markets.

Now that global competition is becoming more equitable, and some foreign countries are now in a position to actually participate in the markets in a capacity other than being taken advantage of, well, now Westerners don't like it so much. It was never really "free-market" capitalism in the first place, it was just imperialism under a false banner.

Look at the immigration issue. Why are so many Republicans, who claim to be champions of "free-market" capitalism, opposing open boarders with Mexico and Canada (and the Caribbean for that matter)? If these people truly believe in free-markets then they should be supporting open labor markets.

The false debate taking over immigration policy in the media is about whether we should "lock down the boarders" or "legalize all of the current illegal aliens".

This is completely bogus, and fails to address the real issue or even recognize why we have illegal immigration in the first place.

There was an interesting phenomenon that took place when Imperial Japan colonized Korea during the first half of the 20th century. Thousands of Koreans fled Korea and illegally immigrated to Japan. The Japanese were killing and enslaving the Koreans in Korea, so its not like the Koreans were going to Japan because they loved the Japanese, they went to Japan because they could earn a better living in Japan than they could in their home country, where they were being exploited by Japan.

Enter NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, backed and signed by the Republicans in the 1990s as a measure of "free-trade".

NAFTA was supposed to be a "win-win" for America, Canada, and Mexico, that would "lift all boats", but since the signing of NAFTA Mexican immigration to America to find decent paying jobs has skyrocketed.

The reason that we have immigration from "3rd world countries" into America and Europe is because America and Europe are exploiting the 3rd world countries. The West enriches itself by underpaying labor in third world countries and essentially stealing their natural resources, so those countries have extremely depressed economies. The depression of their economies is what enables the West to enrich itself. The West is enriched at the expense of the 3rd world, so of course people from 3rd world countries are better off moving here. By moving here they remove themselves from the area of exploitation and go to the area that is on the receiving end of the exchanges.

So, how do we solve the "immigration problem" with Mexico? Well, the first thing to do would be to force American companies to start paying higher wages in Mexico, but the problem that you have there is that we can't only do it in Mexico, because then they will just move operations to Pakistan, or Vietnam, or Indonesia, or China, or wherever, so really, the first step in solving the immigration problem is a global minimum wage for Western countries. In other words, American, European, Australian, Japanese, companies, etc. should be forced into a pact where they have to pay workers in the 3rd world some minimum wage.

For example, since 9/11 American business with Pakistan has increased dramatically due to changes in American import laws. The American government gives millions of dollars a year to the Pakistani government, under the banner of "foreign aid", yet American companies employ Pakistani workers for less than 37 cents an hour, or purchase goods from Pakistani contractors who pay less than 37 cents an hour. Why are we paying foreign aid to a country were we under-pay the workers?!?! Just pay the workers a decent wage and there will be no need for foreign aid, which in reality only goes to government officials and corrupt politicians who keep the people oppressed.

Secondly, to solve the problem with Mexico, instead of wasting money on enforcement programs here, or on building absurd walls and fences, we should spend that money helping Mexico develop its economy.

This should be completely obvious to any sane person.

Why waste resources on something non-productive, like building a wall or getting more patrol officers, when those resources could be used to create more capital? If we help make Mexico more productive then everyone will benefit, mostly the Mexicans, who will then have no reason to immigrate to America in the first place. Obviously Mexicans are hard workers, so there is no problem with Mexican labor or desire. The Mexicans have a very strong desire to work hard and get ahead, much stronger than most Americans, which is why they risk death to come here and work their fingers to the bone.

The solution to the immigration "problem" is to stop calling it an immigration problem and stop thinking about how we "protect ourselves" and instead start thinking about how we can help others. We shouldn't help Mexico just to help ourselves, but in the long run the objective of those people who don't like immigrants will be achieved by helping Mexico.

Trying to "protect America" from globalization and immigration is a fools game and what it really amounts to is trying to maintain an empire of exploitation, but the world is not having it. We can't maintain what we had in the past, because what we had in the past was exploitation.

It's like Whites in the South after the Civil War trying to figure out how they could maintain the standard of living that they had before the Civil War. Impossible. There was a fundamental shift of power. The Whites before the Civil War had a way of life that was supported by the enslavement of over a million Black people. Without that enslavement, without that exploitation, there was no way to maintain the Plantations. There is no way to maintain the American standard of living because the American standard of living is built on exploitation. We better just face those facts and deal with it, because reality is coming.

After the Civil War Whites tried to oppress the Black and keep them down, and what good did that do? For 100 years after slavery was ended Whites worked to keep Black less productive, they didn't help them succeed. As a result the Southern economy was depressed for over 100 years. After the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, however, once we started helping Blacks succeed or at least removing some of the roadblocks, the Southern economy has exploded.

What good could possibly come by keeping a segment of the population oppressed? None, it hurts everyone. Helping Blacks to succeed helps everyone to succeed.

The same with Mexico and with immigrants. We can keep playing this foolish game of trying to keep labor depressed in foreign countries so that we can exploit it, or we can engage in a "Civil Rights Movement" for the world and work to improve wages, living conditions, and technology in Mexico and other developing countries. We have to stop looking at foreign counties as a source of "cheap labor" and start looking at them as partners.

That's the only way to actually solve the "immigration issue", but, of course, none of the people in the media are talking about that...


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 8:04 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, April 5, 2006 8:23 PM EDT
Thursday, March 30, 2006
 It Takes More Than Democracy

Topic: Commentary

The on going controversy in Afghanistan over the fate of an ex-Muslim who converted to Christianity, and has since been charged with apostasy in Afghani court where they were seeking the death penalty under Islamic law, and where the man is still in mortal danger, highlights the fact that democracy itself has nothing to do with human rights.

Since this case has made international news, President Bush and other administration officials have called on Afghani leaders to “follow democratic principles”, but that is exactly what they are doing. All that democracy means is “majority rule”.

Democracy in no way guarantees human rights or even protects human rights at all, and this is one of the major problems with the so-called “Bush Doctrine”, or really the neo-con doctrine, of pushing for democracy in the Middle East.

The neo-cons act as though “democracy” = “human rights”, but his is not the case. Democracy only means that the majority opinion holds power, and if the majority opinion in a country is that people should be killed for leaving Islam then following democratic principles is going to contradict Western ideas of “human rights”.

Of course all of this presupposes that the neo-cons actually even care about democracy at all, which is doubtful, as it is more likely that the whole democracy rhetoric is just a front for the real objective of material conquest and continued exploitation of foreign lands to extract resources, which of course is going horribly wrong because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing much more than the neo-cons had predicted.

But putting that aside, the belief that “democracy” has something to do with human rights, and that spreading democracy is going to spread human rights, reveals a gross misunderstanding of Western history.

Democracy is not what brought human rights to Western Civilization, Secularism and Humanism did. Democracy was only the vehicle by which secularism and humanism were brought to power.

Democracy resulted in an increase in human rights in Western Civilization not because of some defacto power of democracy to improve living conditions, but because there was a growing movement for secularism and humanism in Western society at the time that was being kept down by theocratic tyranny.

So, when the majority voice was able to come to power, it brought secularism and humanism to power with it. In the Middle East, however, the majority voice is not secular or humanist, instead it is theocratic and fundamentalist, so democracy in the Middle East is not going to yield a peaceful tolerant society, it is going to yield a militant, mobish , theocracy.

Freedom of conscience is not a democratic principle, there is no such thing as a democratic principle, other than “majority rules”. The majority is not always right and the majority is not always good and the majority is not always nice and the majority is not always tolerant, in fact, the majority is often not tolerant.

The reason that the policy of the Bush administration is failing and will continue to fail, is that the policy of the Bush administration, if it even is what it claims to be, only advocates democracy, yet democracy is not what produced the freedom that we have in Western society, secularism and humanism did. Without promoting secularism and humanism, democracy is useless.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 7:33 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
 Regarding Demise of the Palestinian Left

Topic: Commentary
Demise of the Palestinian left

This is a pretty good article that actually touches on a much boarder phenomenon of the post World War II era.

During the Cold War anti-Leftists in the West supported fundamentalist religious groups as a way to fight against Marxists and other "radical" Leftists. In fact, Hamas was created with the assistance of Israel because the Israelis thought that it would be a good idea to draw support away from the secular PLO and Popular Front.

The same thing took place in Afghanistan with America backing the Islamic Jihadis there in opposition to the Marxist regime and Soviet invasion to support it. On a broader level, this has taken place all across the West, but especially in America, where corporations and political parties supported religiosity to combat Leftist ideology throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

The result is the world that we see today, with growing religious fundamentalism, conflict, and sectarian violence.

The Israelis wish they were still dealing with the PLO or the Palestinian Popular Front. The Leftism of the Cold War era was a Leftism that had developed through The Enlightenment era of Western Civilization. It extended the ideas of The Enlightenment: women's rights, democracy, racial equality, the breaking down of national boundaries, and economic equality.

The big problem was that last one, economic equality. In defense of economic inequality the West was willing to sacrifice everything and collaborate with the most barbaric and backwards of ideologies and cultures.

The conflict of the Cold War was at least a conflict between two modes of thought within the same framework. Marxists and secular Leftists were fighting for equal treatment of women, equal treatment of homosexuals, the end of racism, the end of conflict between nations, the end of religion as a tool for suppression of rights and thought, and the end of economic exploitation.

That was the big fight of the Cold War, to "defeat" the people fighting for these things. Well, now that we have defeated Leftists, now what?

In order to defeat the Left the West has armed and emboldened religious zealots from the Dark Ages, which have now, predictably, turned on the institutions that coddled them and are now raging across the planet attacking the very cultures that armed and funded them. This includes both the Islamic fundamentlaists from the Middle East and the Christian fundamentalists in America.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 7:30 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 8:27 PM EST
Monday, March 6, 2006
 Understanding Evolution: History, Theory, Evidence, and Implications

Topic: Announcements

Understanding Evolution: History, Theory, Evidence, and Implications

This is an extensive piece that covers the history of evolutionary concepts, conflicts between Christianity and evolution, an explanation of, and evidence for, biological evolution, criticisms of evolutionary theory, and the broader implications of evolutionary theory. Unlike many pieces on evolution that try to dance around or reconcile the conflicts between science and religion, this article addresses those issues head on.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 9:44 PM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (14) | Permalink

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