24 Nov, 14 > 30 Nov, 14
14 Jul, 14 > 20 Jul, 14
3 Feb, 14 > 9 Feb, 14
20 Jan, 14 > 26 Jan, 14
18 Mar, 13 > 24 Mar, 13
28 Jan, 13 > 3 Feb, 13
30 Jan, 12 > 5 Feb, 12
5 Dec, 11 > 11 Dec, 11
31 Oct, 11 > 6 Nov, 11
24 Oct, 11 > 30 Oct, 11
10 Oct, 11 > 16 Oct, 11
22 Aug, 11 > 28 Aug, 11
4 Apr, 11 > 10 Apr, 11
14 Mar, 11 > 20 Mar, 11
7 Mar, 11 > 13 Mar, 11
28 Feb, 11 > 6 Mar, 11
24 Jan, 11 > 30 Jan, 11
17 Jan, 11 > 23 Jan, 11
10 Jan, 11 > 16 Jan, 11
27 Dec, 10 > 2 Jan, 11
20 Dec, 10 > 26 Dec, 10
13 Dec, 10 > 19 Dec, 10
6 Dec, 10 > 12 Dec, 10
22 Nov, 10 > 28 Nov, 10
8 Nov, 10 > 14 Nov, 10
1 Nov, 10 > 7 Nov, 10
18 Oct, 10 > 24 Oct, 10
11 Oct, 10 > 17 Oct, 10
4 Oct, 10 > 10 Oct, 10
20 Sep, 10 > 26 Sep, 10
6 Sep, 10 > 12 Sep, 10
16 Aug, 10 > 22 Aug, 10
12 Jul, 10 > 18 Jul, 10
31 May, 10 > 6 Jun, 10
3 May, 10 > 9 May, 10
19 Apr, 10 > 25 Apr, 10
29 Mar, 10 > 4 Apr, 10
11 Jan, 10 > 17 Jan, 10
28 Dec, 09 > 3 Jan, 10
30 Nov, 09 > 6 Dec, 09
24 Aug, 09 > 30 Aug, 09
16 Mar, 09 > 22 Mar, 09
9 Feb, 09 > 15 Feb, 09
8 Sep, 08 > 14 Sep, 08
1 Sep, 08 > 7 Sep, 08
4 Aug, 08 > 10 Aug, 08
9 Jun, 08 > 15 Jun, 08
26 May, 08 > 1 Jun, 08
19 May, 08 > 25 May, 08
12 May, 08 > 18 May, 08
5 May, 08 > 11 May, 08
28 Apr, 08 > 4 May, 08
21 Apr, 08 > 27 Apr, 08
14 Apr, 08 > 20 Apr, 08
24 Mar, 08 > 30 Mar, 08
3 Mar, 08 > 9 Mar, 08
25 Feb, 08 > 2 Mar, 08
18 Feb, 08 > 24 Feb, 08
28 Jan, 08 > 3 Feb, 08
7 Jan, 08 > 13 Jan, 08
24 Dec, 07 > 30 Dec, 07
17 Dec, 07 > 23 Dec, 07
10 Dec, 07 > 16 Dec, 07
12 Nov, 07 > 18 Nov, 07
29 Oct, 07 > 4 Nov, 07
20 Aug, 07 > 26 Aug, 07
30 Jul, 07 > 5 Aug, 07
7 May, 07 > 13 May, 07
9 Apr, 07 > 15 Apr, 07
26 Mar, 07 > 1 Apr, 07
5 Mar, 07 > 11 Mar, 07
19 Feb, 07 > 25 Feb, 07
5 Feb, 07 > 11 Feb, 07
29 Jan, 07 > 4 Feb, 07
8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
30 Oct, 06 > 5 Nov, 06
23 Oct, 06 > 29 Oct, 06
16 Oct, 06 > 22 Oct, 06
2 Oct, 06 > 8 Oct, 06
25 Sep, 06 > 1 Oct, 06
4 Sep, 06 > 10 Sep, 06
21 Aug, 06 > 27 Aug, 06
10 Jul, 06 > 16 Jul, 06
3 Jul, 06 > 9 Jul, 06
26 Jun, 06 > 2 Jul, 06
12 Jun, 06 > 18 Jun, 06
5 Jun, 06 > 11 Jun, 06
29 May, 06 > 4 Jun, 06
15 May, 06 > 21 May, 06
8 May, 06 > 14 May, 06
10 Apr, 06 > 16 Apr, 06
3 Apr, 06 > 9 Apr, 06
20 Mar, 06 > 26 Mar, 06
6 Mar, 06 > 12 Mar, 06
20 Feb, 06 > 26 Feb, 06
13 Feb, 06 > 19 Feb, 06
6 Feb, 06 > 12 Feb, 06
23 Jan, 06 > 29 Jan, 06
16 Jan, 06 > 22 Jan, 06
26 Dec, 05 > 1 Jan, 06
19 Dec, 05 > 25 Dec, 05
12 Dec, 05 > 18 Dec, 05
21 Nov, 05 > 27 Nov, 05
7 Nov, 05 > 13 Nov, 05
24 Oct, 05 > 30 Oct, 05
17 Oct, 05 > 23 Oct, 05
3 Oct, 05 > 9 Oct, 05
26 Sep, 05 > 2 Oct, 05
12 Sep, 05 > 18 Sep, 05
29 Aug, 05 > 4 Sep, 05
22 Aug, 05 > 28 Aug, 05
8 Aug, 05 > 14 Aug, 05
4 Jul, 05 > 10 Jul, 05
27 Jun, 05 > 3 Jul, 05
13 Jun, 05 > 19 Jun, 05
6 Jun, 05 > 12 Jun, 05
30 May, 05 > 5 Jun, 05
16 May, 05 > 22 May, 05
9 May, 05 > 15 May, 05
2 May, 05 > 8 May, 05
25 Apr, 05 > 1 May, 05
11 Apr, 05 > 17 Apr, 05
28 Mar, 05 > 3 Apr, 05
21 Mar, 05 > 27 Mar, 05
14 Mar, 05 > 20 Mar, 05
7 Mar, 05 > 13 Mar, 05
28 Feb, 05 > 6 Mar, 05
21 Feb, 05 > 27 Feb, 05
7 Feb, 05 > 13 Feb, 05
10 Jan, 05 > 16 Jan, 05
3 Jan, 05 > 9 Jan, 05
22 Nov, 04 > 28 Nov, 04
8 Nov, 04 > 14 Nov, 04
1 Nov, 04 > 7 Nov, 04
2 Aug, 04 > 8 Aug, 04
26 Jul, 04 > 1 Aug, 04
21 Jun, 04 > 27 Jun, 04
17 May, 04 > 23 May, 04
29 Mar, 04 > 4 Apr, 04
22 Mar, 04 > 28 Mar, 04
15 Mar, 04 > 21 Mar, 04
23 Feb, 04 > 29 Feb, 04
2 Feb, 04 > 8 Feb, 04
24 Nov, 03 > 30 Nov, 03
10 Nov, 03 > 16 Nov, 03
3 Nov, 03 > 9 Nov, 03
27 Oct, 03 > 2 Nov, 03
20 Oct, 03 > 26 Oct, 03
22 Sep, 03 > 28 Sep, 03
15 Sep, 03 > 21 Sep, 03
4 Aug, 03 > 10 Aug, 03
5 May, 03 > 11 May, 03
Saturday, March 24, 2007
 Against Bio-fuels

Topic: Commentary
I haven't had time lately to do the type of research that I normally do for this website, so this will be a somewhat "off-the-cuff" commentary, but it's something that I wanted to point out. I was recently watching a program about fuel technology on television and one of the segments was advocating so-called "bio-fuel". What really struck me was that they noted that the largest user of bio-fuel in the world is Brazil, and this program had nothing but praise for the "Brazilian bio-fuel revolution".

Here is the thing though. What this program failed to mention is that the rate of rain-forest destruction in Brazil has been consistently growing, and though I have not done the research on this issue to fully address the facts, I strongly suspect that bio-fuel plays a large part in "fueling" that destruction.

Bio-fuel is not a viable alternative to oil and gas, and I would say that it's not viable for any kind of use other than on a small scale when waste materials are used to create the fuel. Bio-diesel from waste vegetable oil is fine, as are other fuels developed from waste plant material, but growing plants purely to use them as fuel is neither energy efficient nor environmentally friendly.

The reality is that farming is more destructive to the environment than the extraction of oil and gas is. This is unfortunate, because it would be great in terms of politics and market competition to have more viable alternatives to challenge the oil and gas fuel monopoly, but bio-fuel simply isn't the answer.

Think about this for a moment. Oil and gas is basically millions of years worth of accumulated organic material that has been pressure cooked and concentrated into a super dense and highly energetic substance. There is no way to effectively match the energy in oil and gas from a plant crop. The earth has done work on tons and ton of organic matter already to transform it into something extremely energetically dense. It's like taking a million years worth of farm crops and compressing it into a new dense substance, where the calories per gram far exceeds the calories per gram of the original plant matter.

In this sense, oil and gas are highly efficient because the earth and time have already done a lot of the work for us. But, of course, these resources are limited and burning them contributes to global warming, so there are other factors to consider as well.

Bio-fuel does somewhat address the issue of renew-ability, but it does not address the issue of global warming or environmental destruction.  Indeed even if we turned the entire planet into nothing but farmland, we still couldn't produce enough fuel to meet existing needs.

Bio-fuels emit less carbon-dioxide when burned than oil and gas when burned in the same manner, and this is really one of the biggest advantages, as well as the fact that in theory you plant a crop that consumes carbon-dioxide to supposedly offset the carbon emitted when the fuel is burned, but if you are clearing natural habitat to plant the crops then this is not really a gain.

However, a more effective use of resources would be to design ways to make oil and gas burn more cleanly, as well as putting more research into wind, solar, and wave energy collection systems. I suspect the engineered fuels will emerge soon as well.

I drive a Toyota Prius, which has it's own environmental problems when it comes to producing the nickel for the battery, which is an environmental nightmare, but in terms of carbon emission the Prius still emits less carbon-dioxide than a typical car running bio-diesel.

What I suspect we will see happening is that countries like Brazil, Indonesia, and places in Africa will emerge as the major sources for bio-fuels and these fuels will be produced through massive environmental destruction. Bio-fuels could become the leading cause of environmental destruction very soon actually. The fuel market is huge and extremely competitive. There are billions if not trillions of dollars at stake here, and if environmentalists think that they can "manage" this market or keep bio-fuel producers honest, or whatever, they are kidding themselves.

As far as I'm concerned, bio-fuel is a bad idea and this whole bio-fuel business is just letting a genie out of the bottle that could turn into a very, very ugly genie. What I have discussed here so far doesn't even begin to address the impact that bio-fuel could have on global hunger and starvation, as crops are used to fuel machines instead of feed people.

While oil and gas are limited resources, the earth's surface is a limited resource as well, and growing low energy fuel is not a very good use of that resource.

These are things to think about. As I said, I haven't put in the research on this issue to fully comment on it. If anyone has information that contradicts what I have said here, please let me know.

Posted by at 10:11 AM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (8) | Permalink
Monday, March 5, 2007
 It's The Da Vinci Code all over again

Topic: Commentary
This "Lost Tomb of Jesus" issue is just like what happened after The Da Vinci Code was released all over again. In both cases bad "scholarship" and hype was used to promote controversial claims about Jesus, and in both cases the primary reaction of course came from conservative Christians. In both cases as well, the poor scholarship gave traditional Christians a way to beat-up on the claims of those "attacking their faith" and actually get away with it.

The problem with both The Lost Tomb of Jesus and The Da Vinci Code is that they suffer from huge gaping holes in scholarship, but rely on a variety of Christian texts as legitimate and true history, indeed they rely on a greater number of Christian texts being more true than even traditional Christians do.

These poorly constructed claims really do nothing more than give traditional Christians a platform and a rare opportunity to "be right" about the claims of their faith in a debate. This was already seen in the follow-up to The Lost Tomb discussion hosted by The Discovery Channel and it is seen across America in newspapers and across the Internet on blogs and websites.

I'll just use the claims of one representative Christian apologist as an example, Ben Witherington, who writes the following in his post,  THE JESUS TOMB SHOW--BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGISTS REJECT DISCOVERY CHANNEL SHOW'S CLAIMS.

"Both William Dever and Jonathan Reed were not merely dubious about the findings of the show. Reed actually called it archaeo-porn, the worst sort of misuse of archaeological evidence to support a tendentious theory that is so speculative it requires linking one weak hypothesis to another to another to reach a conclusion."

Of course Reed did, he is a Christian, so he is immediately going to attack anything that challenges his faith, regardless of the merits. Did Reed call The Passion of the Christ "archeo-porn"? I'll wager that he didn't, yet surely The Passion of the Christ deserves the title more than Lost Tomb does.

"In other words, the show could not find the sort of experts in Biblical archeology which would have lent real credence to their theory.

This stands in contrast to when Andre LeMaire was prepared to put his good reputation on the line to say that the James ossuary is genuine (and this word just in. He still thinks that, and the recent evidence presented in the trial in Jerusalem of genuine patina from the word 'Jesus' on the James box inscription provides further evidence for this conclusion)."

Well of course. Almost all Biblical archaeologists are Christians, who else would bother specializing in this field? There are Jews in the field of "Old Testament" archeology, but even if they felt like commenting most would not due to fear of Antisemitism. Can you imagine a Jewish specialist claiming that the bones of Jesus were found that Jesus wasn't really God. Like, duh, they have been saying that all along, for which they have been persecuted by Christians for 2,000 years. They have learned to steer clear of this issue.

Of course people are willing to put it on the line in defense of the James ossuary, since that would SUPPORT the Christian faith, not undermine it, so this is an obvious double standard. Also, I don't agree with Dr. James Tabor, but he is putting his career on the line over this.

"1) The DNA lab in Thunder Bay was not told that they were testing alleged samples from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Why is this important? For the very good reason that the lab no doubt wishes to keep its good name, and not be associated with sensationalistic projects of dubious merit. Had they been told in advance, then at least they could have decided whether they wanted to be involved in the project. This is not how a free and open historical inquiry into a subject proceeds. It is not shrouded in secrecy until unveiled at a press conference in order to make big news, garner big ratings, and sell lots of books."

Not true. This is exactly how it should have been done to get an unbiased analysis of the data. There was nothing wrong with their methods and this type of thing is done all the time, though obviously with less controversial material, because this is the most controversial material there is. Their job, however, was simply to do the analysis. The fact that some labs might be afraid to do the testing if they knew what the material was is only evidence of how much religion corrupts free inquiry and intimidates people.

"2) Ted Koppel's own correspondence with the DNA lab, and with the statistician reported in the follow up debate finds those folks doing their best to distance themselves from the conclusions of the show, and insisting that it is only a remote possibility."

Of course, because of the stigma and repercussions that can be wrought by the religious community. This is an example of the fear and intimidation of religion and their effects on our society.

"4) Towards the end of the program itself, we discover that the intrepid amateur archaeologists, namely the film maker and his cohorts failed to even ask the IAA for permission to find and reopen the sealed Talpiot tomb. But this was an IAA controlled archaeological site now adjacent to an apartment complex. And when the IAA did find out about the snooping around in a tomb without permission, they came and put a stop to it."

Again we have fear and intimidation being used to try and cover up information. They probably didn't want to controversy and just hoped that this would go away, but right or wrong, the information deserves to be investigated and properly assessed, not covered up.

"But the most interesting thing found when the filmmaker was in the tomb was a very large Greek inscription inside the tomb. What does this suggest? It suggests to me this is not the tomb of the Aramaic speaking family of Jesus of course!"

That inscription doesn't prove this by any means, since Greek was the most widely used language even in Judea, and every single New Testament document we have was written in Greek. Also see the following article: Jewish Funerary Inscriptions - Most Are in Greek

The Greek text in the tomb doesn't really add or detract from the case, but I can assume that if it said anything that supported the case they would have mentioned it, so I assume that it didn't say anything that supported their case.

"5) Strong objection was taken in the debate program to the dramatizations in the show because they present the theory of the filmmakers as if they were facts. There are not, for example any dramatizations of other theories. What's the problem with this? Well as one professor from Virginia Seminary rightly pointed out, drama is powerful. It's a form of preaching and persuasion. If this really were an open ended historical inquiry and not an argument for a particular point of view, not a docu-drama, this sort of filming technique would not have been used."

I found this to be a totally hypocritical complaint. Their use of dramatization was no different from its use in every other historical program on The History Channel and The Discovery Channel, many of which make claims that are far less credible than the ones made on this program. Add to that the fact that Christians make major use of dramatizations to support their story, which we can certainly say is more outlandish and dubious than what these people are claiming. What can we say of Ten Commandments, when Moses parts the Red Sea and the army of the pharaoh is drowned? Oh, well that's a movie. What about all of the supposed documentaries about the life of Jesus that dramatize his whole life and the crucifixion, acting as though there is some kind of solid basis for their "enactments"? What about The Passion of the Christ, which was hailed by Christians because "it was so true"? Did you complain that drama should not be used to give people the impression that this is what really happened to Jesus? No, of course not. Not only that, but The Passion of the Christ isn't even based on the scriptures, and you can't even find support for many of its scenes in the scriptures. Passion plays have been used by Christians since the very beginning, indeed Paul himself may even have talked about these in his writings. Christians certainly use drama and reenactment to persuade people of the truth of their story, for which there is not only no support, but defies reason and believability.

"6) No mention at all is made of the fact that though we only have a few hundred ossuaries with inscribed names, there is in fact another ossuary with the inscription 'Jesus son of Joseph'."

This is a legitimate point and a point against the presentation. However, Christians take the exact opposite position if the claims are in their favor. For example, if the "James brother of Jesus" ossuary were authentic Christians, including Dr. Witherington, would surely tout it as proof of the existence of Jesus and corroboration of their story. They wouldn't abide the claim that these were just common names and could thus be anyone. No, they would be certain that this was "the James".

"Apparently this was not a rare combination of names at all, and in any case, as I have said Jesus of Nazareth is never called 'son of Joseph' by his family, or by his disciples. Notice how Luke pours cold water on that theory in Luke 3.21-- "Now Jesus himself was about 30 when he began his ministry, he was the son, so it was supposed/thought, of Joseph." Supposed by whom? Clearly not by Luke or the family whom Luke has just shown knew about the virginal conception of Jesus. Even the cousins knew about this miracle when Mary told Elizabeth. There can be no good reason Luke would put it this way if he knew the earliest followers of Jesus or members of his family had thought that Jesus was son of Joseph."

"Luke" (not even the real name of the author of the Gospel) can't pour cold water on anything, because "Luke" was a late 1st century or early 2nd century writer who was telling a very slanted story from secondary sources at best. "Luke" doesn't "show" anything. "Luke" is writing a story, for which we have no evidence to corroborate, and no reason to believe is true. Claiming that "even the cousins knew" is like quoting Wuthering Heights and claiming that Nelly knew about Catherine's relationship with Heathcliff.

"Here is but one more example of how normal interpretations of the Biblical evidence are ignored and rejected in favor of rewriting the text to support the theory, and much later non-eyewitness Gnostic evidence from the Acts of Philip is made crucial to the case, even when that evidence itself does not likely support the case at all!"

Most serious Biblical scholars don't consider any of the Gospels, much less the Gospel of John, to be an eyewitness account.

I have many problems with the presentation myself, and I don't think that this is the tomb "of Jesus", but once again poor scholarship has both given Christians a larger platform to crow from and greatly exaggerated the historical validity of the entire Jesus story. Instead of following the real developments in critical New Testament scholarship, which challenge the historical validity of most to all of the Jesus story, these claims present most of the Jesus story as more historically certain than it really is. The claims made by both Christians and this documentary often rest on single contradictory passages in stories for which there isn't one shred of independent verification, which are full of obvious fabrication and mythology, and for which there are obvious scriptural precursors that the passages are likely built on. The Gospels aren't history, and they should not be treated as such.

Posted by at 3:58 PM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Monday, March 5, 2007 4:14 PM EST
 Commentary on The Lost Tomb of Jesus

Topic: Commentary

Having watched The Lost Tomb of Jesus on the Discovery Channel and most of the follow-up commentary, I have many problems with the presentation. First of all, the presentation actually treats many pieces of Christian lore as more historical than even most critical Christian scholars.

The fact is that the first four hundred years of Christian writings are a nest of conflicting, legendary, and purely made up stories. The Christian stories include multiple different names for seemingly the same people, who are in reality only tied together by later legends and traditions in an attempt to try and make the conflicting stories fit together.

A perfect example of this is the use of the two different lineages of Jesus from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. A common apologetic claim is that one of the two genealogies is of Joseph and the other genealogy is from Mary. However, serious scholars do not believe this, even Christian scholars. The dominant scholarly view on this is that the authors of Luke and Matthew were unaware of each other's writings, having worked from the common "Q" source and the Gospel of Mark independently, and both simply made up different lineages that reflected the important families of their local communities.

Think about this for a second. How on earth could either of these two people, no matter who they were, know the genealogy of Jesus going back over 1,000 years? This is impossible, unless one resorts to miracles and divine revelation via the Holy Spirit, etc. The documentary claimed to be taking a historical look at this issue, but then was totally uncritical of the Biblical texts, because those same Biblical texts provided an abundant mine for names. Here we have two huge lists of names, from which just about every Hebrew name under the sun can be drawn, and so of course this is a convenient way to try and draw on the names that don't seem to fit into the "hypothesis".

The reality is that both genealogies were completely fabricated decades later based on scriptures and local politics, and thus should have no role in tying random names into this so-called cluster. The fact that an ossuary for "Matthew" was found should have been a point against the validity of this claim.

Secondly, you would have noticed throughout the presentation that they referred to "Christian tradition" often, when those Christian traditions supported their claim, however, most of those traditions are total bunk, and some of the ones they referred to are traditions that developed in the 4th century and later.

The stories about Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary carrying on ministries and things of this nature are all much later stories which are widely agreed upon as legends written by later writers based on fantasy and story telling. This became a popular subject in the 3rd and 4th century and later and you can find stories about all of the different figures, developing many different plot lines and involving a number of miracles and all kinds of wild acts and such things. We also have the 4th century writing about the Virgin Mary bodily ascending to heaven and things of this nature as well.

None of the Gospels even agree on who the supposed bothers of Jesus are, or the supposed disciples, as there are different names in each Gospel. There are a core of important names, but many of the lesser names are different in each book. So, with all of this, because of the confused and contradictory nature of the Christian writings, you have almost every name in the Hebrew language of the period to pick from, because just about every name is listed among the Christian sources when you start factoring in the different names for the brothers given in the different writings. Then you have the different "apocryphal" traditions, from which they also pull, and here we have further variants on names, etc.

My big disappoint, of course, was that the program actually treated the Christian sources as far more reliable than they really are. In fact the Christian sources are a mine field.

I think that their hand was also shown to when they started talking about "secret bloodlines", and things of this nature. So much of the dramatizations were based on assumptions that are completely unsupported, though indeed in line with Christian beliefs, such as the idea that (to paraphrase) "Jesus was considered a contender for the king of Israel, so those close to him had to be eliminated." This is Christian fantasy really. There is no evidence of any of this. They mentioned that Herod killed John the Baptist, but according to both the Christian and non-Christian sources this had nothing to do with his relationship to Jesus, and the idea that John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus is only introduced in the Gospel of Luke (not a claim in any of the other Gospels) in order to tie into an "Old Testament" theme. This is a story element introduced purely on a scriptural basis and is not considered historically true.

Likewise, the documentary stated that Josephus spent more time talking about Jesus' "brother" James than he did about Jesus. Where to begin with this one? If indeed he talked about them at all, then this claim would still be false, since in the works of Josephus there are two passages that talk about Jesus, both of which are contested as inauthentic, and there is only one mention of James, which is also contested. But, assuming that the Testimonium passage is inauthentic, as is widely agreed, that leaves the one passage that mentions both James and Jesus in passing in the same sentence, and though I think that this is not talking about Jesus of the Gospels or the James of the Gospels, even if it were what the documentary said would be false. They would both have been mentioned once in the same sentence in passing, which doesn't comply with the claim that more was said about James.

It's interesting, because this documentary represents the view of those people who think that Jesus was a historical person but not a divine being. It is ironic that in supporting this view they have taken a completely uncritical view of the source material, basically embracing the flimsiest Christian material as historically authentic because it can be used to help account for the names in this tomb.

Most damning of all, perhaps, is the idea that if Jesus were a real person his tomb and his child could have gone totally unknown and unreported in all of the source materials. There isn't a single known writing about a tomb of Jesus, about evidence that there was no resurrection, or about any child. Of all the various heretical sects, of which we know a good deal about their basic claims, these two claims are not among any of them. That there could have been a hidden tomb of Jesus himself is not impossible, but a family tomb pretty much is, because this is a tomb site that would had to have been visited many times over a period of 20 to 40 years or more by multiple different people, and the idea that such a tomb would have remained unknown and unreported on by all of the various sects who talked about Jesus, along with a child of his as well, is pretty well beyond belief.

I do hope that more study is done on this and I would like to see the bones recovered and more analysis done. I don't think it should just be dismissed, but I don't think the evidence will prove the case out either.

See also:

The Talpiot Tomb Controversy 

Viewers Guide to Understanding the Talpiot Tomb ‘documentary’ to be aired on the Discovery Channel 

Posted by at 12:40 AM EST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2007 5:32 PM EST
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
 Vanity, Narcissism and Capitalism

Topic: Commentary

A study was recently published reporting that vanity and narcissism are on the rise among American teenagers. This should really be no surprise, I think that most people have figured this out on their own, but what was most interesting was the analysis, at least what was reported of it. I have not been able to access the entire study yet, so this commentary is based on what has been reported in the news.

Interestingly, this study was done by the marketing department of San Diego University, but from what has been reported there seems to be very little self-reflection in the study. The study, somewhat correctly, attributes much of the rise in narcissism to school programs that have intentionally sought to increase children's "self-esteem". This is certainly a legitimate issue and one that needs to be addressed, but there is much more going on here than that.

Indeed marketing and a consumer driven capitalist culture are equally at the core of this "problem". As discussed in my article Understanding Capitalism Part IV: Capitalism, Culture and Society, capitalism promotes a self-centered narcissistic culture, as marketing itself encourages this behavior. Anyone who watches television knows that marketing is all about telling people what they want to hear, and also encouraging self-indulgence.

The study did point to one aspect of this, which is the use of the terms "my" and "you" in so many marketing tools. Pretty much every company now uses "my" in some kind of personalized marketing strategy. The study pointed out "MySpace", but you can also find MyFord, MyCoke, MyRewards, and just about every other "My" attached to a company brand. But what is all this "My" about? Well, it does feed into the narcissism, but it also creates a false sense of ownership. It's a form of pseudo-capitalism, where the companies, like Wal-Mart with their "associates", tell people that they are enfranchised, tell people that they are empowered, tell people that they have ownership, but in reality they aren't and don't. It's all just hype and propaganda.

This study was done by a marketing department, and the irony is, that even though they have concluded that increasing narcissism is a problem, what are the effects of this study going to be? Marketing agencies and corporation are going to see this information (not really, since they have their own private studies and know this already) and conclude that in order to be effective they need to develop increasingly narcissistic marketing campaigns, feeding the problem and making it even worse.

This is the type of problem that arises in a completely unregulated market economy where industry is not held accountable to society. Market forces will always tend towards narcissism and self-centered behavior, because market forces are always going to cater to "giving people what they want" and, all things being equal, people will always acts in their "self-interest" - that's what capitalism is all about after all.

A self-interested economy is going to yield a self-interested society, that should be pretty easy to figure out. Whereas our school systems and other social institutions should be countering the socially degrading effects of capitalism, they have instead been appropriated into the system and are actually feeding the situation.

There are many reasons that our schools have subscribed to the "increase self-esteem" mantra, but one of the most interesting, perhaps, was the idea in the 1980s, that there was a need to decrease sexual promiscuity among teenagers. The people who were pushing this program were conservatives and they viewed teen sex as bad, and in their moralistic world view they believed that people do bad things for bad reasons. Taking a totally unnatural view of sex and human behavior, these people thought that young people had sex because they had low self-esteem and used sex as a way to try and make themselves feel better or to be popular.

In reality, as reported in Scientific American MIND last year, the effects of this program have been to increase teen sexual behavior because the reality is that people with a low self-image shy away from sex or do not get into sexual situations, whereas people with high self-esteem and an inflated ego are highly sexually aggressive. So, in fact, this anti-sex program developed by moralistic conservatives had the total opposite effect of its intention, because these people have no clue about human behavior.

Sex, of course, is perfectly natural, it's not "bad" per-se, and people don't always do bad things for bad reasons anyway. High self-esteem leads to increased sexual promiscuity, not the other way around. This should be perfectly obvious, unless you are a moralistic conservative who thinks that sex is evil and only bad people who have emotional problems engage in such dirty acts.

New Age liberals no doubt added to this problem as well. They seem to suffer from the same basic mentality and lack of fundamental behavioral understanding, thinking that you can simply smile all your problems away and that loving yourself is the greatest good.

It would be interesting to see a comparative study between America and Europe on the issue of teen narcissism. I would be willing to bet that narcissism is lower in Europe, and I think it would be due to both the more secular understanding of human behavior there and the smaller impact of marketing and capitalism there, though of course Europe still has plenty of marketing as well.

The effects of neo-liberal economics are being felt everywhere though, from America to India to China to Europe. For a variety of reasons, however, people in America simply don't understand the social effects of capitalism, though in most other countries these connections are made and understood and thus somewhat addressed. Any criticism of capitalism in this country is so taboo, however, that these problems cannot be properly addressed. And, ironically, the conservative defenders of so-called "free market" capitalism continue to get more and more unhappy with society, yet they still feed they very root-cause of their unhappiness.

For more on this study see:
Study: Vanity on the rise among college students

Are Today's Students Too Self-Centered? 

Study Shows Narcissism Plus Social Rejection Equals Aggression

Posted by at 11:37 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (8) | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 11:43 AM EST
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
 The Bones of Jesus Discovered? Not Likely.

Topic: Commentary

Documentary Shows Possible Jesus Tomb

The recent announcement that "the bones of Jesus have been found", has made headlines and spurred much discussion, but it's not just Christians who are skeptical of the claim. Despite the fact that Christian critics have claimed that skeptics would like this to be true and are likely to believe it, the fact is quite the opposite, with most skeptics and non-believers that I have talked to not putting any credence in the claim.

There are, of course, many problems with the claim, though these are difficult to fully address until the documentary airs on the Discovery Channel on March 4th. Even the film maker claims, however, that the odds calculated for these names occurring together in a burial find are 100 to 1 to 1,000 to 1, but these aren't really very high odds, especially with thousands of known burials in the region.

Secondly, dating is an issue, and the dating is questionable.

More importantly, however, is the fact that if this were a burial cave for "the real Jesus" and "his family", then that means this site would have been accessed multiple times over a long period of time, and it is  quite unbelievable that if this were the burial site of "the real Jesus" that the site would not have become widely known and either venerated or attested to by someone.

Additionally, the site contained an ossuary for "Judah son of Jesus", but it is quite unbelievable that if the Jesus of the Gospels were real and had a son that this son would have been unattested to by the many different so-called "heretical" sects.

So, on the face of it, the evidence and the claim does not seem compelling at all, and indeed this does look like an attempt at profiteering, not scholarship.

Really, all that this find shows is how common these names were and why it can be very difficult to identify information about the characters in the New Testament stories, since all of the names used for those characters are among the most common of the time and place. It is as if the stories were written about Joe, George, Mike, and Bob.

I will watch the documentary with an open mind, but I'm highly skeptical of the claim, because, of course, I do not think that "Jesus" existed at all.

Posted by at 7:57 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Friday, February 16, 2007
 Jesus Myth Part II - Follow-up, Commentary, and Expansion

Topic: Announcements

Jesus Myth Part II - Follow-up, Commentary, and Expansion

This article further explores the themes and ideas of the prior Jesus Myth article.  This article focuses more on pre-Christian Jewish mythology and the Pauline writings.

Posted by at 12:13 PM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (61) | Permalink
Thursday, February 1, 2007
 Regarding "Do You Believe In Miracles?"

Topic: Commentary
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has produced and aired an expose on the televangelist  Binny Hinn called "Do You Believe in Miracles". The "revelations" of this journalism should be no surprise, Binny Hinn gets millions of dollars a year from gullible people who are desperate to be healed and he lives like a king through a fully tax free estate by funneling all of the income through his church, thereby taking advantage of America's tax free status for religious organizations.

What is really the most revealing, however, is that this program was produced and aired in Canada, yet programs of this kind, at least this hard hitting, are not produced and aired in America by American new organizations.

This just goes to show, once again, the degree to which we do not have freedom of the press here and the degree to which the American media simply props up the status quo and fails to engage in serious journalism.

Here is someone who is not only taking advantage of millions of people and taking their money, but is also defrauding the American public through a legal form of tax evasion, and thus we should be very interested in exposing this fraud here in America, but this doesn't happen because programs that challenge people's religious beliefs in America are simply unacceptable and don't get air time.

This is to say nothing of programs like Richard Dawkins', "The Root of All Evil", which has shown on television in Europe and Canada.

Below are links to the programs that you can't watch on American  TV:

Do You Believe in Miracles? 

The Root of All Evil Part I 

The Root of All Evil Part II 

Posted by at 6:07 PM EST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, February 1, 2007 6:16 PM EST
Saturday, January 27, 2007
 Some new changes to the website

Topic: Announcements
I just completed a minor revision of the website, cleaning up and few old links and doing some minor restructuring. In an effort to satisfy requests for printed versions of some of the articles here I am now making some of the writings from rationalrevolution available in printed format from the self-publishing site

I am combining related articles into larger books and then making those books available for purchase or PDF download there. The editing that I am doing or this is minor, most of the spelling and grammatical errors will probably remain, but links are being removed and images are being altered and things of that nature. I am also fixing some spelling and grammatical errors for print as I see then as well.

I currently have one such publication, Understanding Capitalism, completed and available via the Store link at the top of the website, and more will follow as I am able to get the materials prepared.

I have also added a Recommended Readings page that has links and comments on books that I have personally read and recommend. I will add new books as I myself read new books. The links will take you to and yes I do get their commission fee (4%-6%) if you purchase a book via following a link from this website. I also recommend, however, that you look for these books at your local library or look for some of the older ones on-line.

Thank you

Posted by at 8:00 PM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Sunday, January 7, 2007
 Visitor comments are working again

Topic: Announcements
For some time visitors were unable to post feedback comments to the blog, but this problem has been corrected and you can now post feedback comments again.

Posted by at 12:30 PM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
 Jesus Myth - The Case Against Historical Christ

Topic: Announcements

Jesus Myth - The Case Against Historical Christ

This article examines the evidence for the historical existence of Jesus and puts forward the case that the story of Jesus Christ is best explained as the product of developing Messianic stories and mystery religions within the Hellenized Jewish community.

Special thanks to many people at the Internet Infidels Biblical Criticism & History who helped with finding documents, proving translations, and offering criticism and advise.

Posted by at 9:11 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (46) | Permalink

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