Religion (and philosophy)
- "Fundamentalism is the blind lunge towards over simplification"
George Steiner (Philosopher)
- "Hundreds of professional and amateur scientists actually believe
that the Bible pretends to teach science. This is a good deal like assuming
that there must be authentic religious dogma in the binomial theorem"
Georges Lemaître (1933) Roman Catholic priest and Scientist
(who first proposed the
Big Bang after analyzing the mathematics behind Einstein's General Theory
- "The bible explains how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go"
Galileo Galilei (1616)
- "Biblical text should not be interpreted as properly literal,
but rather as metaphorical, if it contradicts what we know from science
and our God-given reason. While each passage of Scripture has a literal
sense, this "literal sense" does not always mean that the Scriptures are
mere history; at times they are rather an extended metaphor"
- "All extreme forms of thinking are a form of insanity"
- "An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof"
- "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit
- We live in a world shaped by stories. Stories are threads of our
lives and the fabric of human cultures. A story can unite or divide
people(s), obscure issues, or spotlight new perspectives. A Story can inform
or deceive, enlighten or entertain, or even do all of the above. As humans,
we are literally hardwired for narrative. Stories are essential to human
learning and building relationships in social groups. There is growing
consensus in the scientific community that the neurological roots of both
storytelling and enjoyment of stories are tied to our social cognition.
- Ours is a time of space telescopes, electron microscopes,
supercomputers, and the worldwide web. This is not a time fir parsing
lessons given to a few goat herders, tent makers an camel drivers.
Rev. Michael Dowd, "Thank God for Evolution!"
- There's another reason I think popularizing science is
important, why I try to do it. It's a foreboding I have -- maybe ill-placed
-- of an America in my children's generation, or my grandchildren's
generation, when all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other
countries; when we're a service and information-processing economy; when
awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one
representing the public interest even grasps the issues; when the people (by
"the people" I mean the broad population in a democracy) have lost the
ability to set their own agendas, or even to knowledgeably question those
who do set the agendas; when there is no practice in questioning those in
authority; when, clutching our crystals and religiously consulting our
horoscopes, our critical faculties in steep decline, unable to distinguish
between what's true and what feels good, we slide, almost without noticing,
into superstition and darkness.
My "2 cents" on religious world conflict
Most people of European descent learned during the "30 Years War" (1618-1648)1
that religion and politics don't mix. In fact, it was the principal of religious
freedom2 that was the basis for ideas which created the United
States of America. So I'm confused when:
- the US enthusiastically supplies arms to a democratic theocracy
(Israel) who is in a war with a group of people trying to become a democratic
theocracy (Palestine). On the flip side, Palestine receives and uses
arms from Iran and Syria against Israel while their own people starve
in the streets dreaming of the after life.
- the US is best friends with a tribal theocracy (Saudi Arabia) who
look the other way while their (Saudi) religious police force engages in
kidnappings in the name of Sharia Law
- many US citizens reject science and logic while openly embracing
religious fundamentalism and political extremism. They even claim
that the US was founded on Christian principles when it is clear that
US Founding Fathers (Washington,
Adams, Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, etc.) were
clearly Deists. The
joke gets even better when Ronald Reagan, who gets to power with help
from fundamentalist Christian groups organized by people like
Jerry Falwell, quotes a few lines from
Paine during his inauguration (many religious people consider Paine an
atheist even though he called himself a Deist)
The world will never have peace until there is a
protestant-style reformation in all religions which will enable people to
take back control of their churches from zealots and extremists. Also, we must all
work to ignore any person (religious or otherwise) who instigates war or
martyrdom. We must also be wary of any religious person with "political
ambitions" or "ties to people with political ambitions" (you probably think I am
referring to Islamic Imams and Clerics but American Christians like Jerry Falwell
also spring to mind)
- I do not understand why some Christian have drifted back into the
Old Testament. Christianity is the doctrine of the
New Testament which replaces the Old Testament
leaving it for nothing more than a historical reference.
- Today, any westerner involved in "stoning any person" would be
arrested for assault. Any westerner involved in "stoning any person to
death" would be arrested for first-degree murder. Whether you like the
sound of it or not, secular western society has improved beyond "old testament
law" even though western society only enforces two
(maybe three) commandments of the original ten.
- if you still think the old testament is still
relevant today, then please read these ridiculous excerpts from
- Many Christian sects today may require a second reformation
to abandon many of the intolerant positions of St. Paul which many churches
still use to keep women out of the pulpit; In
Paul's world "only men received educations" and I think Paul
wanted to keep it that way; Paul never met Jesus and I think it is time
to reject some of his interpretations.
- But let us also recall that Martin Luther (the catholic priest who
is credited for getting the
Reformation rolling in continental Europe) also wrote that he stood
with the church in shutting down the absurdity of the Copernican system.
(too bad that Luther died before the trial of Galileo by the Vatican; I
would have loved to read his comments on that).
- But Luther wasn't all bad; he thought it was a mistake to include
the book of Revelation in the bible and now hearing that one in four
Americans believe "they live in end times" and/or "will be raptured up"
proves to me that too much attention has be focused on Revelation
nonsense. (oops, I guess I should have used the acceptable phrase
- I do not understand why many religions use the label "liberal" or "free
thinker" to attack someone who might question why religious practices are
the way they are. Was not Jesus a liberal as seen by the Sanhedrin? Was not
Martin Luther a liberal as viewed by the Vatican?
- in this war Catholics and Protestants fought each other for the
bodies, souls and property of the other group. A whole generation passed
until the children of the people who started the war put a stop to
- "religious freedom" can be rephrased as "each citizen being free
of the untoward interference of the other person's religion"
What I Believe (two more cents)
My Childhood Education
- I was raised Lutheran (Missouri Synod) and baptized in 1965 at the age
of 13. However, almost everything (science and religion) taught to me by the well-meaning people at St.
Paul's Lutheran Church in Kitchener was wrong. For example, here are some of
the things we were told by our minister after he overheard science-oriented
discussion prior to Saturday morning
- "there is no scientific proof for
- "that the world is literally ~ 6000 years old"
- this nonsense comes from an Irish Archbishop by the name of
(1581 – 1656) where he claims the world was created on the night
preceding Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC.
(and yet there are people alive today who still believe in
- that Methuselah
(son of Enoch and the grandfather of Noah; Genesis 5:27) lived a total
of 969 years. Wrong!
- It is more likely that Methuselah lived 969 lunar months (~
80 years). Many ancient societies living closer to the equator
ignored the sun in favor of the moon and so only used lunar
- And wouldn't "969 years" conflict with Psalm
90:10 where we read: "The days of our years are threescore
years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and
we fly away". Since "one score = 20" then "three score
and ten = 70" while "four score = 80".
- that Noah (Genesis 9:29) lived a total of 950 years (see previous
- "that Noah's Flood actually happened and it occurred circa 2000 BC"
- this popular story (e.g.
Gilgamesh first springs to mind) was known to many cultures long
before it was hijacked by Jews writing Torah and most likely describes the flooding event which occurred
the Mediterranean Sea broke through the Bosporus Strait to create
the Black Sea in 5600 BC (Oops, this date is older than 4004
- the geological evidence shows Mount Everest being pushed up ~ 50
million years ago so if the flood was world wide, there wasn't
enough water to cover everything.
- "that the old-testament bible, including the books of Genesis,
Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers are literally true" All
- historical records tell us that much of the old testament was
passed down as an oral tradition. It was not written down until the
Israelites borrowed the idea from their
Babylonian captors ~ 586 BCE
The idea of taking one day off per week (now
called the Sabbath) was copied from the
traditions of Babylon rather than a commandment received by Moses from God.
- There are many conflicts in the old testament which scholars
insist come from two mostly primary sources which they call "A" and "B".
- First off, take a look at the story of Moses receiving the
ten commandments from god. In the book of Exodus he is given 10
(or 12, or 13, depending on how you count). He smashes the
tablets on the ground after seeing his people worship false
idols then, within a few verses, goes back up the mountain only
to come down with "different commandments". Question: do we use
the first set, the second set, or both?
- Now look at the same story in the book of Deuteronomy (this
title literarily means "second law" or "second telling"). This
version is different than the one (or two) given in Exodus.
- "that new-testament books of the bible, are literally true"
- If books of the new testament were presented in
chronological order of their writing then the books of Paul (Letters
and Chronicles comprising one third of the current new testament) would be presented
- Presenting the gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke first
encourages the young and naive to believe that these names are the names of the
authors and that they were disciples of Jesus. First off, the apostles were illiterate and could not read or write (universal literacy is
a modern concept) although I suspect Jesus' tax-collector friend was
literate. These books were written down much later
(when people noticed the oral stories were changing) and would
have been better titled:
- the oral traditions of
- written ~ 80-90 AD
- the oral traditions of
written ~ 70 AD
- the oral traditions of
written ~ 70-100 AD
- the oral traditions of
written ~ 90-100 AD
- most Christians know that Jesus was born somewhere between 4
BC and 7 BC (The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus was born
under the reign of king Herod the Great. Since Herod died in 4 BC,
it is likely that Jesus was actually born between 5 BC and 7 BC). If
he died at age 33 then the year of his death is somewhere between 27
AD and 29 AD (remembering that there was no year zero). So at least
40 years exist between the end of Jesus' life and these stories,
then they could hardly be treated as eye-witness accounts (as many
churches present them)
- a considerable amount of Roman documents exist but there is no
record of a Roman censuses ever coinciding with the years purported
to be the birth of Jesus as stated only in the gospel of Luke. There
is evidence for a
census in 6-7 AD and it must be pointed out that once started,
these were usually held every 15 years.
- The concept of Trinity
(a word never found in the bible) is most troubling of all. I suppose you
could ignore it until you inspect the evolution of the
Nicene Creed (what
most churches publically recite as as affirmation of what the attendees
believe) which first appeared in 325 AD after the urging of the Roman
Emperor Constantine who was creating a state religion. The Trinity
controversy begins with the insertion of the
Filioque in 451 AD at
Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon making Jesus divine. In a
play in 1054, the Roman Catholic church excommunicated Christian
churches who did not accept Filioque which resulted in a formal spit between
Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox.
I ask you all now: if the Greek belief is still labeled "orthodoxy" then
wouldn't the Roman belief (and everything descended from it) be considered
My Adult Education
- The age of
enlightenment was kicked off by Europeans like
Spinoza who laid
the groundwork for the 18th century
and modern biblical criticism (an open minded scholarly "study and investigation of
biblical writings that seeks to make discerning judgments about these
writings"). For most of Europe this put an end to governments recognizing
superstition and the end of acts like "witch burning". Roman Catholics
behaved badly with inquisitions until Napoleon put a stop to the last one
after he conquered Spain. Spinoza's enlightenment continued in 18th and 19th
century Germany where many more original bible manuscripts (scrolls) were
acquired then compared with ancient historical records and found to be
changed or just plain wrong. (quote: this school reached its apogee with the
influential synthesis of Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) in the 1870s, at
which point it seemed to many that the Bible had at last been fully
explained as a human document).
Summary: When viewed from this
direction, many bible writings seemed political (theocratic) while others changed beyond all
recognition from the original documents.
- Before 2000, I felt fairly comfortable with the writings from Judaism
- After the 9/11 attacks on the US by Islamic extremists I decided to read
three books on Quran (one pro, one neutral, and one critical). I came to the
conclusion that the origins of Islam ares just as questionable as those of
Judaism and Christianity.
- The historical facts presented in the three books representing the
Abrahamic-religions does not match the overwhelming historical data from
archaeological sources. You can either fight about this or just make piece
with your neighbor.
- I think it is important for modern people who have received an
in-depth religious education to heed the words of Saint Paul found in
13:11 where he wrote this:
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned
like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
- When someone outside my childhood family would ask about
religion, one of my parents would proudly proclaim "We are Lutheran".
While I agree with many of the actions of
(1483 – 1546) including nailing his
ninety-five theses to the door of the
as an adult I find it impossible to invoke the name of a German who
lived 500 years ago when
- While I agree with all the teachings of Christ (especially the
non-violence stuff), a combination of the untrue things that religious people have written
about Christ -AND- the military actions of Christian American presidents
(Johnson, Nixon, Regan, Bush-43) make it nearly impossible for me to call myself
Christian. Food-for-thought: I find it odd that the presidents who
seemed less religious (Kennedy and Clinton first spring to mind) seemed
to go out of their way to avoid military conflict.
My Adult View
- I am a DEIST who is now convinced that all
religions are completely man-made. Like literature, music and art, religion
is just another human cultural expression and humanity would, most likely, be poorer without
it. Since no rational person would ever "torture", "murder" or "go to war"
over literature, music or art, then those who believe these activities are
permitted in the name of
religion need to be educated otherwise. No one will ever be able to
prove (or disprove) the existence of god so there is little point in trying.
Meanwhile arguing about the inaccuracies found in all religious writings
make me think that humanity's only hope is to keep personal religious
Other noteworthy deists include:
Madison, Thomas Jefferson,
and perhaps John Adams
the American founding fathers were deists of some kind and anyone who tells you
otherwise is lying. If you don't believe me then you should start by
first taking a look at the
Tripoli which was ratified unanimously by the U.S. Senate on June 7,
1797 and signed into law by President John Adams on June 10, 1797.
Quote: As the Government of the United
States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian
religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the
laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said
States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any
Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext
arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of
the harmony existing between the two countries.
After this it was
published in ~ 200 newspapers and there is no record of any outrage of
- Although Charles Darwin started out a Christian (he graduated with a
degree from Trinity College, Cambridge and was destined to be an
Anglican Parson) he became a deist after questioning the premature death
of three of his ten children before he published
Origin of the Species in 1859.
*** you probably do not need to read past this line
- There is only one God and its name is irrelevant and incomprehensible
to us. Also, I suspect that God's sexual pronoun (he/she) is also
irrelevant and incomprehensible to us. This god is not a personal god
but more of a prime mover.
- God could create miracles and answer prayers but does neither.
And when you think about it, believing in prayer is like believing in
telepathy (Hey, look at me, I am sending a mental message to the creator
of the universe). On the other hand, the world we live in already seems a
wonderful place, and science provides us with more evidence of both beauty
and complexity than is possible from religion.
- All humans "feel" as if we are physical containers supporting a
spiritual soul. (spirits in the material world)
- Science will eventually tell us everything there is to know
about the physical world including our bodies
- Science will never be able to tells us about anything beyond
the physical world. This will always remain a mystery.
- Therefore science has nothing to say about religion and religion
has nothing to say about science
- Therefore science classes should never mention anything about
religion -and- religion classes should never mention anything about science (or
when life begins, how the world was created, when the world was
- God could have created the world 6,000 years ago like some cheap
Las Vegas magic trick, but this did not happen. Creating us through physical processes
like "the big bang"
and biological processes like "evolution"
is much more awe inspiring. (I am not talking "intelligent design" here but
am referring to a self organizing property that seems to be built into the
fabric of our universe)
- Our creation:
- The universe was created in an event called "the big bang" approximately
13.7 Billion years ago.
- The big bang only created the elements Hydrogen, Helium, and
Lithium which later coalesced via gravitational attraction into
galaxies of small and large stars.
- In a process known as
stars begin to create heavier elements like Carbon, Oxygen, and
- Small stars usually burn out as white dwarfs while large stars first
create all the elements "heavier than iron" before exploding as a
- Star ash coalesces again into second and third generation stars
but this time with planets.
- Our sun and earth system began forming approximately 6 billion years
ago. So when the bible states that the world is 6,000 years old
(by adding "the begats" in Genesis, it is off by a factor of one million)
- "Life"began on earth approximately 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago as
chemicals were constantly exposed to solar and cosmic radiation.
Since I call myself a DEIST/Naturalist, I
believe that our creator inserted a self-organizing force into the
fabric of our universe although there is no science to support this
- There have been five
major extinction events so far where more than
90% of all life was wiped out. The first four were due to global
warming while the last one was due to an astronomical impact (see
- 65 million years ago, the dominant form of life on Earth
(dinosaurs) was wiped out after a 10 Km wide asteroid impacted the
Earth in an area just north of Yucatan, Mexico. Mammals would not
have successfully competed against dinosaurs had this not happened.
In fact, there were no humanoid mammals living at the time of the
dinosaurs which means the artistic exhibitions by some (One
Million Years B.C. by the movie industry or
Museum by fundamentalist Christians) are totally wrong.
- Pre-humans and chimps split away from gorillas and orangutans
about 6 million years ago. We know this through the sciences of:
comparative biology, molecular analysis, molecular clocks, and
- Pre-humans split away from other primate lines about 3 million
- Modern humans (homo sapiens)
appeared 200,000 years ago. Click
of Life for more details.
- Humanity really begins to explode 11,700 years ago with the end
of the previous ice age
- There was no garden of Eden where humans was fully created.
We are still in the process
of creation. Women were not made from the rib of a man. Women
are not inferior to men. In fact, since women have two X chromosomes and
only need one, they are perhaps biologically superior to men.
- There was no world-wide flood which placed fish fossils on
- What appeared to be a world-wide flood was actually a
of Mediterranean breaking through the
Bosporus to the
Black Sea. This occurred between 5600 BCE and 8000 BCE (both dates older
that 4004 BC) and dating of archeological artifacts from underneath the
Black Sea support this explanation.
- Fossils of fish can be found on mountain tops because these mountain
tops used to be under the sea. Sea floors become mountain tops due to
which is a consequence of
Dark Age (a warning for all of us)
Humanity's Coming Dark Age
Symptoms before each collapse: ignorance,
superstition, religious fundamentalism, xenophobia,
intolerance, rejection of science
- Download a free PDF copy of the 418-page 2002 publication:
The Phoenix Principle and
the Coming Dark Age by
(British military analyst and educator)
- subtitled: Social catastrophes – human progress
3000 BC to AD 3000
- Marc Widdowson's original web site at www.darkage.fsnet.co.uk
appears to have fallen into the bit-bucket sometime after 2008.
But you can still access much of the original material (including
charts and diagrams which are not in the current PDF) via the
Way Back Machine here:
- The chart above illustrates the rise-and-fall of six major empires. Notice
the amplitude and period are decreasing.
The associated tables, which were published 5-years before the 2007-2008
American-caused world-wide financial debacle, seem shockingly accurate.
- Download ($10) an eBook of
The Coming Dark Age
by Roberto Vacca - 153 pages in PDF format
- This book was first published in 1973 then updated in 2000
here for a free view "Contents, Foreword, Introduction
and the First Chapter"
- "I read this book in a palsied fascination
of horror. I have never read a book that was at the same time so
convincing and so frightening." - Isaac Asimov
- Entering a dark age of innovation
- While there are many complicated and interacting reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, I am now convinced that
was correct when he stated that the primary reason was due to the the
organized religion. Today's world might collapse for nothing
more that the reasons of religious intolerance or greed (materialism
is another form of religion)
- Religious Method (dogma): Fiction, Assertion, Suppression
Scientific Method (pragma): Observation, Hypothesis,
Experiment (test), Debate. Then publish and repeat.
Useful Links (and a few departing points)
- www.deism.com - God gave us
reason, not religion
- belief in the existence
of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection
of supernatural revelation.
- belief in a God who created the world but has since remained
indifferent to it.
- Notable members include most of the American "Founding Fathers"
including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington,
John Adams and James Madison. Also includes revolutionary writer
and US Civil War president
is the belief that
reason and observation of the
natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of
God, accompanied with the rejection of
revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge.
Deism gained prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries during
Age of Enlightenment—especially in Britain, France, Germany
and America—among intellectuals raised as
Christians who believed in
one god, but found fault with organized religion and could
not believe in supernatural events such as
inerrancy of scriptures, or the
Trinity. Deism is derived from
the Latin word for
The earliest known usage in print of the English term deist
is 1621, and deism is first found in a 1675 dictionary. Deistic
ideas influenced several leaders of the
French Revolutions. Two main forms of deism currently exist:
classical deism and modern deism.
- www.skeptic.com -
promoting science and critical thinking
Development of the
Canon of the New Testament
- Christian bible scholars like
Bart Ehrman tell
us that half of the books of the 27 books of the
(forgeries). It does not matter how well intentioned the authors were,
if you are serious about religion then you had better not teach from the
forgeries especially where they knowingly conflict with other teachings.
of Matthew (then follow links elsewhere)
Document Hypothesis @wikipedia
- The Nicene Creed
is a verbal affirmation of what a congregation believes the New Testament
- It first appears in 325 AD under the first council of Nicaea (when
Constantine was attempting to make Christianity the official religion of
the Roman empire)
- In the late sixth century, the Latin-speaking churches added
the words "and from the Son" (Filioque)
to the description of the procession of the Holy Spirit, in what
Eastern churches have argued is a violation of
Canon VII of the Third Ecumenical Council, since the words were not
included in the text by either the Council of Nicaea or that of
- Roman Catholics, as well as the followers of all
Christian sects derived from it,
including protestants, are heretics.
- If you ever "prayed to Mary or any other saint" then you are a
- If you ever "prayed to Jesus" then you are a heretic
- Northrup Fry
- Northrop Frye on The Shape of the Bible.
- Northrop Frye on An Approach to the Bible.
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.