Friday, December 24, 2010

Haiti and its "Salem Witch Hunt"

Haiti urged to halt cholera anti-voodoo lynchings

    • Joseph Guyler Delva and Pascal Fletcher Joseph Guyler Delva And Pascal Fletcher Fri Dec 24, 5:58 pm ET
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – The head of Haiti's voodoo religion appealed to authorities Thursday to halt bloody lynchings of voodoo priests by people who blame them for causing the Caribbean country's deadly cholera epidemic.
Since the epidemic started in mid-October, at least 45 male and female voodoo priests, known respectively as "houngan" and "manbo," have been killed. Many of the victims were hacked to death and mutilated by machetes, Max Beauvoir, the "Ati" or supreme leader of Haitian voodoo, told Reuters.
"They are being blamed for using voodoo to contaminate people with cholera," Beauvoir said.
He said the killers accused voodoo priests of spreading cholera by scattering powder or casting "spells" and complained that local police and government officials were not doing enough to halt the lynchings and punish the killers. Voodoo is recognized and protected by the constitution as one of Haiti's main religions.
"My call is to the authorities so they can assume their responsibilities," said Beauvoir, who fears more attacks against voodoo devotees. Most of the lynchings occurred in the southwest of Haiti but also in the center and the north.
Since emerging in central regions in October, the cholera epidemic has ripped through Haiti's poor population, still traumatized from a January earthquake. It has killed well over 2,500 people and affected all of the nation's 10 provinces.
Cholera is mainly spread by contaminated water and food.
As the epidemic death toll has risen, so too has popular fear and anger. Some Haitians have blamed Nepalese United Nations peacekeepers for bringing cholera to a Caribbean nation where the disease had been absent for decades.
The U.N. mission in Haiti maintains there is no conclusive evidence to back this accusation, despite a report by an expert contracted by the French government that linked the infection to latrines at the Nepalese camp located beside a river.
In November, there were anti-U.N. riots over the cholera, which continued to claim victims as the Western Hemisphere's poorest state held elections marred by confusion and fraud charges. Final vote results have still not been announced.
Beauvoir said he had discussed the anti-voodoo attacks with Haiti's Communications and Culture Ministry, which confirmed the killings this week. Minister Marie-Laurence Lassegue made a public appeal for the lynchings to end.
More than half of Haiti's nearly 10 million people are believed to practice voodoo, a religion brought from West Africa several centuries ago by slaves forced to work on the plantations of white masters in what was then the rich French Caribbean colony of Saint Domingue.
Cholera, which causes virulent debilitating diarrhea, can kill in hours if left untreated. But it also can be easily cured through fast rehydration of the patient. Aid experts say the ignorance of many Haitians about the disease is one of the causes of the fears and suspicions surrounding the epidemic.
In at least one case in central Haiti, an angry mob worried about possible contagion destroyed a cholera treatment center being set up by foreign medical workers.
For this reason, public education about the disease and how it is spread and can be treated is essential, aid groups say.
"It is hardly surprising that people would be anxious about cholera when it appears in their communities for the first time," said Delphine Chedorge, head of mission in Haiti for Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres, one of the foreign medical groups most active in fighting the epidemic.
"We also need to make people understand that opening new (cholera treatment centers) in or near their towns and villages can help stop the spread of the disease, protecting their communities, rather than endangering them," she said in an MSF statement.
Beauvoir said he suspected that representatives of some other religions might be stirring up popular fears against voodoo practitioners using the cholera as a pretext.
"I saw this coming. Since the earthquake some people have been blaming us, saying that we cast spells and did evil things which brought the earthquake as a punishment," he said.
After the January 12 earthquake, which wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince and killed more than 250,000 people, voodoo leaders had to defend themselves publicly against accusations by some Evangelical preachers that the voodoo religion somehow caused the natural disaster.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christopher Hitchens vs Al Sharpton Part 9 of 9

God Is Not Great - Hitchens Sharpton Debate 8/9

God Is Not Great - Hitchens Sharpton Debate 7/9

God Is Not Great - Hitchens Sharpton Debate 6/9

God Is Not Great - Hitchens Sharpton Debate 5/9

God Is Not Great - Hitchens Sharpton Debate 4/9

Christopher Hitchens vs Al Sharpton Part 3 of 9

Christopher Hitchens vs Al Sharpton Part 2 of 9

Christopher Hitchens vs Al Sharpton Part 1 of 9

Thursday, December 2, 2010

US Labor Department sues nation's 2nd largest wholesale food distributor for discriminating against women

Just so you know the fight is not over. Until we stamp out the roots of such ignorance; it will always manifest in one form or another.

LUMBERTON, N.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs today filed an administrative complaint against Nash Finch Co. for systematically discriminating against more than 80 qualified women who applied for order selector positions at the company's Lumberton facility. Nash Finch is the second-largest publicly traded wholesale food distributor in the United States and is based in Minneapolis, Minn. The company contracts with the federal government to provide goods and services to more than 200 military bases in the U.S. and overseas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Virgin Births" in history

To many that grew up in western culture; the story of the "immaculate conception" or the virgin birth may seem unique. I must say that we are not here to convert,convince, or connive; but merely to inform the reader that there are many "Virgin Birth" stories throughout history.It is a high possibility that this theme was borrowed from surrounding cultures.The following is a short list of "asexual" births.
  1. Mithra-born of a Rock
  2. Buddah-born of the virgin Maya
  3. Romulus and Remus-born of Silvia (vestal Virgin)
  4. Krishna-born of the virgin Devaki
  5. Horus-born from the "Virgin of the World" Isis
  6. Jesus- born of Virgin Mary
  7. Dionysus-one version of 3! has him being born of the "Virgin" Semele
Here are a few quotes from early church fathers; who often had to deal with this issue a lot.
From the Christian apologist Origen (185-254A.D)
"We [Christians] are not the only persons who have recourse to miraculous narratives of this kind." [Origen, Against Celsus 1, 37
 Justin Martyr (103-165A.D)  speaking of Jesus
"He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you believe of Perseus." [Justin Martyr, First Apology, 22] 
 In his book "The 12 Caesars; Suetonius describes the "Virgin birth" of the emperor Augustus. In the "myth" Augustus mother is laying on the floor of the temple of Apollo, when the God impregnates her." 
Other "Virgin" births stories include Plato!,Scipio Africanus and many others.  What is important to understand here; is that in ancient times men who lived great lives were "deified" after death. That is to say that their lives were embellished with super natural occurrences; as a way of honor and respect. Today we eulogize; at funerals. The word means "good words" in Greek . Someone who may have been a fast runner may have been said to "fly;" or a strong man may have said to accomplish superhuman feats. Such as moving large rocks or killing large numbers of enemy troops single handed in battle. Today we exaggerate, but not as much as they did back then (or do we??).

Suggested reading:
Justin Martyr;Origen any of the early church fathers and the Greek classics.Many of these writings are free online. Also a study of world mythology, and world religions would do well. then you start to see the influences of one on the other.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mithraism and Christianity (Similarities and differences pt 2)

 We look briefly at the similarities between Mithraism and Christianity. I will be brief but I suggest you follow the links for further detail.
  1. Mithra and Christ---Celebrated birth on Dec 25 (Winter Solstice)
  2. Mithra and Christ---Had similar "communion" ritual; where wine was taken to symbolize blood; and meat eaten to symbolize flesh
  3. Mithra and Christ--- Born Supernaturally (I.E. No human father)
  4. Mithra and Christ---Ascend to Heaven
  5. Mithra and Christ---Last Supper stories
  6. Mithra and Christ--- Baptism-except that Mithra`s followers baptized in OX blood!
  7. Mithra and Christ--Resurrect Easter(Ishtar,Astarte etc)
Mithra worship predates Christianity by over a thousand. years. It was a Persian religion that spread westward and was popular during the rule of the Roman Empire. Of course this is not to say that Christianity equals Mithra-ism in any way.It is just to point out similarities and the obvious fact, that many deny; which is simply that cultures and peoples influenced each other. No religion was immune. Not Christianity,Judaism, or Islam, not one.
 recommended reading:
Mysteries of Mithra:Franz Cumont  (1956)   You can probably find this real cheap on Amazon if interested.
Read the ancient classical texts; there are too many too list but a few examples are Justin Martyr,Commodian,Lucian,Tertullian,Plutarch. in them you will find the ancient discussions concerning the origin and influences of these early movements. Take this quote as an example by the early Christian apologist Justin Martyr.
"For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body; "and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood; "and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn (Justin Martyr, (1st) Apology .66)." 
The problem with his argument of "devil imitation;" is that Mithraism predated Christianity by 1500 years!      Be well.Cheers!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Influence of Zarathushtrian faith on the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Continuing our them of "Similarities and Influences," I submit the following article on the Zarathustrian Influence on the three major religions in the world.

Article by: Mehta,Kayomarsh          
Zarathushtrianism (also known as Zoroastrianism) is one of the oldest monotheistic religions. First taught among nomads on the Asian steppes, Zarathushtrianism was the state religion of the three great Persian empires, Achaemenian, Arsacid and Sassanian. The Persian Empire extended from India to the Mediterranean. Because of its lofty character, it had a remarkable influence on other world faiths: to the east on Northern Buddhism, to the west on Later Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The date of Prophet Asho Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) varies from 1700 BC to as far back as 4000 B.C. according to some Greek authors. The date of Asho Zarathushtra is not as important as the date with the teachings of  Asho Zarathushtra. What Asho Zarathushtra taught is perhaps the very oldest and surely the most accurate code of ethics for man. It might indeed be said that Zarathushtra was the discoverer, or at least the uncoverer, of individual morals.
Belief in an all Wise, all Powerful and Eternal God - Ahura Mazda, (Ahura meaning the Creator and Mazda meaning Infinite Wisdom) laid the foundation for all religious faiths. Asho Zarathushtra was the first to teach the doctrines of an Eternal soul, Equality of men and women, Freedom of Choice (to be able to choose between good and evil), Individual Judgment, Heaven and Hell, Resurrection, the Last Judgment (Renovation) and the coming of a Savior. These doctrines were to become familiar articles of faith to much of mankind, through borrowings by the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The Jews were in captivity in Babylonia. The great Persian Emperor Cyrus liberated the Jews from their captivity in about 550B.C. History records that he made no attempt to impose his Zarthushtrian religion on his subjects. He allowed the Jews to follow their own religion and assisted them in rebuilding the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. His inscriptions bear witness to the fact that he encouraged each of his subjects to live a good life according to their own tenets.
“This was only one of the many liberal acts recorded of Cyrus, but it was of particular moment for the religious history of mankind; for the Jews entertained warm feelings thereafter for the Persians, and this made them more receptive to Zarathushtrian influence”. From  Zarathushtrians-Their Religious Beliefs and practices by Dr. Mary Boyce.
The Hebrew scriptures pay tribute to the sterling merit  of Asho Zarathushtra’s rule of conduct, when they speak of the law of the Medes and the Persians as one “which altereth not.”  The Jews regarded Cyrus as a messiah, and therefore one who acted in Yahweh’s name and authority. Yahweh is quoted as “Cyrus will bring forth justice to the nations,….He will not fail….. till he has established justice in the earth.”  Isaiah 42-1,4.
The Jews were intimately connected with their Persian Zarathushtrian conquerors, both socially and culturally. From the times of the Pharaohs of Egypt down to our times, no people had treated them so well as the Persian Zarathushtrians. What the Persian Zarathushtrians did for the Jews is unique in the annals of mankind. The treatment of this kind was therefore all the more bound to lead the Jews to study the institutions, laws and faith of their conquerors. The claim is therefore for a very great and completely surrounding, enveloping and supervening influence of the Zarathushtrian Monotheism, Angelology, Immortality, Soteriology, Judgment, Resurrection, Millen Heaven and Recompense upon the same of the Jews developing during the post captivity period in Babylon.
The Jews found many congenial elements and similar ideas in their faith. Both had many common beliefs such as belief in one God, coming of a Messiah and a strict code of behavior and ethics.  The Jews had progressed much in their ethical and spiritual conceptions after their release from the Babylonian captivity. This progress happened to be for the most part in just those doctrines which were commonly held by millions of Zarathushtis among who they lived. Perhaps the foremost among these is the belief in Future Life. Those portions of the Old Testament which were written before the Exile scarcely mention it. They knew no reward for their deeds other than what they found on this earth. Their hopes were centered on this world and prosperity in this life.
The Exile, however, made a great difference in the Jewish thinking in this regard, for it is during this period and thereafter that we find for the first time in their recorded history the expression of hope in the other world. There is an entirely new note struck in the words such as these in the later Isaiah:
“Let thy dead live, let thy dead body arise; Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is the dew of the heroes, and the earth shall cast forth the shades.” Canon Cheyne, a great Old Testament scholar in his book The Origin of the Psalter mentions:  “The threefold division of sins into those of thought, word and deed in Ps. XVII 3-5 is thoroughly Zarathushtrian. …A knowledge of this great religion is necessary to the full equipment of an Old Testament scholar,….. …had it (Judaism) not come into contact with Zarathushtrianism, Israel would historically speaking have struggled in vain to satisfy its greatest religious aspirations.”
Also, in Daniel:
“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Even after the Exile this lesson about the Immortality of the Soul was not assimilated by all Jews, notably by the Sadducees. But, the people who professed this new doctrine were called the Pharisees, meaning Persians. Zarathushtrian influence on the Dead Sea Scrolls has been unanimously accepted by historians.
In the book of Tobit, we have an allusion to “Seven Spirits” – Amesha Spentas. The Seven Spirits are also mentioned in Zechariah IV,10 and this is further expanded in Rev. V, 6. The book of Genesis seems to have been influenced by the first chapter of Vendidaad. The Asmodeus (Asmodai) of the Book of Tobit is probably Aeshma-daeva of the Avesta. He was the demon of wrath and an opponent of the Amesha Spentas of the Gathas and in Tobit, he fights with the same Seven Spirits.
Various other scholars, W.R. Alger, Von Bohlen (German), Dr. Martin Haug, Rev. Dr. Lawrence Mills, W.D.Whitney, J.E.C. Schmidt, Michaelis, Doderlin, Horst & Hufnagel, Miles Dawson and many many others have testified to the fact that the change that took place in Judaism after the Exile under the influence of Zarathushtrian contact was so great as to make it a new religion almost. We see a full evidence of it in the Book of Job. The Jewish Prophets such as the second Isaiah, Daniel and the writers of many of the later Psalms, and above all Jesus Christ were in many respects nearer to Zarathushtrianism than to pre-exilic Judaism. It is through Judaism that Christianity afterwards received an important influence from Zarathushtrianism.
 “So it was out of a Judaism enriched by five centuries of contact with Zarathushtrianism that Christianity arose – a new religion with roots thus in two ancient faiths, one Semitic, the other Iranian. Doctrines taught perhaps a millennium and a half earlier by Zarathushtra began in this way to reach fresh hearers; but again, as in Judaism, they lost some of the logic and coherence by their adoption into another creed; for the teachings of the Iranian prophet about Creation, Heaven and Hell and the Days of Judgment, were less intellectually coherent when part of a religion which proclaimed the existence of one Omnipotent God, whose unrestricted rule was based not on justice but on love. They continued nevertheless, even in this new setting, to exert their powerful influence on men’s strivings to be good.”  Zarathushtrians by Dr. Mary Boyce.
The three Magis that came to see Christ were Zarathushtrian Priests. Zarathushtis had a belief in the coming of the savior, born of a virgin mother, at least a millennium and a half before Jesus was born. Most scholars agree that Jesus  was not born on December 25, which was reckoned as the winter solstice in the Julian calendar. The Romans celebrated it very fervently as the nativity of Mithra, the Sun God that they had adopted from Iran. Mithraism was very popular among the Romans and many relics of Mithra temples found all over Europe bear testimony to it. It was a corrupted and distorted form of Zarathushtrianism. But, even in its corrupt form it stood for certain basic values such as truth, Justice, Brotherhood, Kindness and loyalty, which inspired allegiance among millions of Romans and Europeans.
Franz Cumont, a noted authority on Mithraism, writes in his book, The Mysteries of Mithra: “Never, perhaps, not even in the epoch of the Mussolman invasion, was Europe in greater danger of being Asiaticized than in the third century of our era. ….. A sudden inundation of Iranian….. conceptions swept over the Occident, …… and when the flood subsided it left behind in the consciousness of the people a deep sediment of Oriental beliefs, which have never been obliterated.”
It seems the early Christians absorbed many Mithraic traditions and festivals, but gave them a Christian interpretation and significance, such as to Christmas on December 25.
Even the main tenets of Islam which replaced Zarathushtrianism of Iran were derived ultimately from this ancient and pre historic religion, such as the belief in one supreme God, Heaven and Hell, the end of the world, Resurrection, the Day of Judgment, the five times of daily prayer, emphasis on helping the poor and the rejection of worship of images. It was through its influence on Judaism and Christianity that indirectly, if not directly, Zarathushtrianism contributed a great deal in the very making and shaping of Islam in the mind of the Prophet himself through what he borrowed from Judaism and Christianity.
A government truly worthy of the name must be in accord with religion, in perfect union with it, is a Moslem maxim. This idea did not come from a Moslem legislator but is outlined in a Pahlavi book The Dinkard. The idea of Theocracy and undoubtedly the Khilaafat thus are Zarathushtrian influences. Also, Sufism, the salt of the Islamic world is also a product of the Persian Zarathushtrian spirit. Apart from the mention of Darius and Cyrus as Zulqarnian, amongst the brotherhood of Prophets, the Koran has very little mention of the Zarathushtrian faith. It may be justified in saying that the Prophet received but little direct influence from Zarathushtrianism.
Yet the influence was more prevalent in its cultural sphere. One of the associates of Prophet Mohammed was a Zarathushtrian High priest, Dastur Dinyar. His name was later changed to Salman-al-Farsee. He was regarded by the Prophet as Ahal-al-Bait, meaning “of the family of the prophet”, that is, a member of his spiritual circle. He had widely traveled in Syria, Mesopotamia and had a profound knowledge of Judaism, Christianity besides Zarathushtrianism. It is highly probable that Prophet Mohammed was influenced by Zarathushtrianism through him.
      Bio:       ,Kayomarsh.htm

Mythological Influences in Islam

Monday, November 8, 2010

Similarities and Influences pt1

Today we are going to take a brief look at the origin and influences of some  religious ideas and characters.Before that; I would like to say that in order to gain a healthy understanding concerning the origins of various religions, it is important to note that (as obvious as it may seem) wars, migration and trade were key in the spread of ideas across the globe. In the Mediterranean region known to some as the "cradle of civilization;" there is a rather unique geographical feature. Three continents; Africa,Asia,Europe are virtually connected. Therefore this area of the world became the incubator for much of the worlds great ideas(and bad ones!); and it also became a fierce battle ground, as it was soon realized that he who controlled the Mediterranean controlled the "world".Around this region we have Egypt,Carthage, Italy, Greece, Israel,Syria to name a few of histories major "players." The benefit was the rapid increase in knowledge for mankind as a whole.Philosophies and religious ideas were rampant as teachers, soldiers and merchants traveled from nation to nation. Under the rule of Kings; it was common for the conquering King to replace the "gods" of the vanquished King. Often victory in battle was attributed to some deity; so to lose also meant that your "god" was defeated also.Some conquerors would not totally abolish the former religion; but would allow religious freedom. Eventually ideas would mingle and sometimes new religions would arise; this process is ongoing. If we look at Islam for instance; there are various sects, such as Sunni and Shiite. If we look at Judaism, we have various sects, such as Orthodox and Reformed. In Christianity there are hundreds of variations and sub divisions. So we can see that even in a singular religion; eventually it breaks up into sections. So Imagine if we have differing religions interacting constantly. This is what took place in ancient times and we truly had a melting pot of ideas and  none of these ideas espoused in major religious thought today are unique . Let us look at some:
We will start with the flood and creation stories because they is probably the most well known stories in the west. Let it be known that there are several "flood" stories that predate the one in the bible and the Sumerian is one of the oldest on record. In the Sumerian version, the hero of the flood is Ziusudu; In the Babylonian account it is Utnapishtim (see Epic of Gilgamesh).The ancient historian Berossus gives Xisouthros, and the Hebrew versions of course give Noah.So what is the point? The point is to show that ideas that people often claim to be unique and even go a step further in claiming divine authority are merely rehashed stories of ancient origin.
Let us look at another hero; Samson. Everyone has heard of the mighty Samson; whose strength came from his long hair.Who allegedly killed 1000 men with a jawbone of an ass(Judges 15:16).In verse 18, after all the killing, Samson is thirsty(who wouldn`t be?) v.19 "But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water...he drunk...and his spirit was revived again.(Judges 15:19)."
Now if you want to take this "hagiography"  literally then be my guest, however an understanding of history and some astronomy helps a great deal here to understand that Samson's feats are allegorical in nature..I quote from the classic text "Hamlet`s Mill": "The "Jaw" is in [space] (e.g.heavens). It (the jaw) was the name given by the Babylonians to the [star cluster] Hyades," which are in the constellation Taurus as the jaw of the bull. If we remember the classic tag "the rainy Hyades" it is because Hyades meant "watery." In the Babylonian creation epic Marduk uses the Hyades (e.g.Jaw) as a weapon to destroy the brood of heavenly monsters (Santillana & Dechend p.166)." Of course the stories are not exact; but think of thousands of years passing and the story is being shared by various languages and cultures. Notice the idea of  "the Jaw" is the same. "In South America, where bulls were still unknown, the Arawak's,the Tupi, the Quechua of Ecuador spoke of the "Jaw of tapir." In our sky the celestial "Samson" is Orion, What is interesting about this connection is that Orion is blind. Samson was also made blind.Orion is the ONLY blind constellation of myth. He was also mighty hunter, alias Nimrod. In China he is called "War Lord Tsan" the master of the fall hunt. Samson's feats included tearing a lion apart with his hands(because he was mad),tying 300 fox tails together(for no reason).What we have is a story mixed with incoherent elements of mythology. For example to understand the 300 foxes tails being tied together; one must read Ovid, who speaks of the feast of Ceres, where foxes with burning tails are chased through the circus, but still it is not completely clear. There is also a similar "Samson" in Japanese mythology. his name is Susanowo which means "Brave,Swift Impetuous male" which describes Samson exactly.The ancient Maya have Zipacna as a "Samson." This is just a crash course in similarities and influences. We will look at many more as this is just part one.Remember these stories are ancient and have been passed on for thousands of years and adjusted according to cultural preference. Notice that images of Jesus often reflect the culture that he is presented in. The same applies with these stories; they reflect the society and culture.The hero will always be the majority or ruling class. Enjoy, ask questions, refute, but above all keep an open mind.


Georgio De Santillana and Hertha Von Dechend (1969)
Epic of Gilgamesh (penguin classics) translated by N.K Sandars (1966)
Legends of Babylon & Eygpt in relation to the Hebrew tradition by Leonard W. King, M.A,Litt.D.F.S.A
pub.1918 from the Schweich Lectures in 1916 at the British Academy

Suggested reading:          A great article called Samson:Myth or fact. It is actually two articles written from the opposing viewpoints of a believer and a skeptic. I suggest you read both, they are both well written.
Books by the early christian writers: (e.g. Tertullian,Justin Martyr,Polycarp etc)
you will find them debating against "pagans" or non belevers (e.g Celsus) what is important is with the debates you will find the discussions of religious influence among other things.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The teaching of"Original Sin": Debunked

We are going to talk about the doctrine of "Original sin." We are going to explain exactly what it is;  and discuss the adverse effects on the human psyche. The teaching in a nutshell states that all mankind was "placed" in a sinful state when the first man, Adam sinned. God told Adam he would die in the day that he ate of the "forbidden" tree (Genesis 2:16,17). So when Adam "sinned;" according to the teaching the entire human race "sinned" also. The logic lies in the idea that since Adam was the first man and we are the progeny; we "inherit" the sin. Lets move on to see how this idea progresses in the Bible. In psalms 51:5 King David says he was "conceived (e.g born) in iniquity." In the book of Job in the Old Testament: "What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?" (Job 15:14).
Now we progress hundreds of years into the New testament. Romans 5:18 -19 says, "through one man's trespass, judgment came to all men, for by one man's disobedience all were made sinners."
Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."Finally Romans 6:23 states that the "wages of sin is death" OK, I think we have made the point; and defined what original sin is, thanks for bearing with me. So think about it; you are born into this world. You did not ask to be here; just one day you wake up in a crib or playpen if you are lucky. As far as I know, no one asked to be here on this beautiful earth; but somehow we are all here. All of a sudden; as you reach an "age of understanding," you are told that basically you are a ticking time bomb. You are filled with sin, and are going to a fiery hell(another fictional place we`ll discuss later) unless you find God and get right with him(why is God a he?). Based on logic alone the entire premise is absurd; to hold someone accountable for something they no nothing about. However logic is often placed aside in favor of superstition; so at times we must "over" explain things. Briefly I will discuss the "origin" of original sin. It is a fragment of "pagan" philosophy and promoted in Christianity by St.Augustine. His influence derived from the teachings of Paul and from his pagan influences in Manichaeism. One must understand, that many early writers of Christianity converted from these polytheistic religions or "pagan" if you like that term. They often incorporated rituals and concepts from them into Christianity. I give you the example of Easter; although it is out side the scope of this essay. Common sense should tell you that Rabbits and eggs have nothing to do with Jesus death or Resurrection; nevertheless it is a mainstay in our yearly observance.   Augustine thought that sin was "transmitted" generation to generation by sexual intercourse. "
...whenever it comes to the actual process of generation, the very embrace which is lawful and honourable cannot be effected without the ardour of lust....
[This lust] is the daughter of sin, as it were; and whenever it yields assent to the commission of shameful deeds, it becomes also the mother of many sins.
Now from this concupiscence whatever comes into being by natural birth is bound by original sin... (St.Augustine, De Bono Coniugali)." Now by the time of the Council of Trent in 1545-63; the church officially made this a doctrine. Now the only way to get rid of the original sin  was to accept Christ and be baptized. Now the sacrament (baptism) had to be administered by a priest, and guess what? There was a fee. That is alot of sin and alot of money to be made for the church. Now I want to list the obvious problems with such a dubious teaching. First of all; it devalues people. We are not perfect, most of us know that already. What this idea does is place people in a state of constant "unworthiness" or "guilt" for no reason. This often leads to extreme Asceticism; where people often reject the "world" altogether, engaging in acts of self loathing and sacrifices in order to get "closer" to God. On the other hand, extreme indulgence; as people may feel "damned" already and over coming sin is too much to bear. The doctrine is misogynistic for sure; as I discussed in my  previous blog concerning women. The "blame" was placed on the woman for the entry of sin into the human race; therefore the teaching is responsible for centuries of "Christian" discrimination against women. It is grossly unfair; even a child knows that he/she should not be blamed for something he/she did not do. The "anti-sex" attitude of Augustine and the church; passed through the centuries mixed up sex and sin together and created a distorted view of sexuality and confusion for many (We need not mention the sexual scandals in the church).Let it be known also that before the 13th Century; the Catholic church taught that un baptised babies went to hell . This was challenged by the secular philosopher Peter Abelard, who bravely proved the absurdity of this. However, he came up with another absurd idea.  "Limbo," this was where unbaptised babies that lived before Jesus would go. They would not "be with the Lord" but not in hell either.Eventually the church accepted this "modification." "Babies dead without baptism go to Limbo, where they do not enjoy God, but neither do they suffer, because, having Original Sin alone, they do not deserve Paradise, but neither do they merit Hell or Purgatory
In April 2007 Pope Benedict XVI approved the findings of a report by the International Theological Commission, a Vatican advisory body, which found grounds that the souls of unbaptized children would go to heaven,thus reversing the teachings on Limbo. Still many parents rush to baptize children; as a matter of fact I have observed the ceremony. Having a child of a few months old, squirming around, not having a CLUE in the world what is going on, having water(excuse me "holy water") sprinkled makes no sense.Finally; the idea that I feel is very dangerous, and is inherent within the doctrine of original sin, is the idea that man needs an outside force(i.e God) in order to do good. This keeps people in a constant state of dependence on an external force; instead of relying on themselves . After all; if you feel that you are "no good" to begin with, it is hard to trust your own ideas and thoughts after a while.My hope is that people will wake up, and see themselves not as a "fallen" being or someone in need of redemption, nor as a "saint" but simply as human being . 

(On babies and "Limbo")
Pope Pius X catechism,1904
St.Augustine, De Bono Coniugali (this book is very expensive;I suggest you look for a Pdf file online)
Bible (KJV)
Suggested Reading:
Yes! read all of the religious texts! Quaran,Rig Veda,I Ching etc
St.Augustine confessions 

Canon and Decrees of the Council of Trent (1978)   You will learn a great deal about why certain books were omitted or added to the bible. There are tons of books "missing" from the bible today. These decisions were made at these various councils.What books are "acceptable," "conforming" and those that are not.(Another Blog! :-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How the "Blame" was placed on Women

We are going to dig up two ancient stories and use them to shed some light on how women came to be oppressed by men throughout history. The first story is that of "Adam and Eve," and the second story is the lesser known "Pandora`s box." When we look at all the great achievements in the history of humanity; we will find that in most fields with very little exception, that men have been credited with all of the major contributions. In the field of music we readily recognize the names of Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin. I wonder how many have heard of Camilla de Rossi who was a female composer in the 18th century. In science we readily recognize Einstein,Tesla,Edison and great male figures; but Madame Curie sticks out like a sore thumb. It is a miracle in itself that woman were able to even get a proper education during the middle ages. So any woman that came to prominance during these times must be doubly praised. We are going to discuss some ideas; on how and why we live in a "man`s world." We are going to talk about the negative effects of having a strictly patriarchial society. Now we look at how this "inequality" started.
When we look at our religious heritage, we find many roots of our societal customs that we practice today. Many are so deeply ingrained, that we may consider it to be at a sub-conscious level. The old ideas of the man being the "provider" or the "bread winner" stem from ancient beliefs. In the story of Adam and Eve; we find that Adam was created first(Genesis 2:7). God placed Adam in a deep sleep; during this sleep God took a rib from Adam and created the woman(Gen 2:21).  This is a critical point of the story already because it is establishing that the woman came from the man; and man came from God. This is used to establish the order of authority in the world. God, Men,Woman and then the rest of creation. Second part of the story: With all of this "perfection" around in the garden of Eden; of course there had to be "potential" for something to go wrong. So we have "the tree of knowledge of good and evil." So the stage is set; Adam and Eve can eat from every tree in the garden of Eden except this tree. So then enters the serpent; now here is where the storyline is at a critical point once again. The serpent first deceives the woman; and she eats the fruit. Then the woman brings the fruit to Adam and he eats. Why is this important? It is important because this is the justification used for thousands of years to place woman in a subjugate status; to justify pain in childbirth; and to keep them from getting an education. The idea is that sin entered the world via the woman`s folly and by deduction all the problems after that are due to the woman giving in to temptation. We will return to strengthen these arguments briefly; but first I want to share with you the lesser known but interconnected story of Pandora`s box. This is a Greek myth; so is not as well known as the Christian stories but the theme is exactly the same. According to the myth, Pandora was the first woman on earth. Pandora was given a jar (commonly known as "box") which contained all the evils of the world. As you can predict; she was told not to open it; but guess what? "Curiosity killed the cat," Pandora opened up the jar and all the evils of the world came upon the earth. What is the point? The point is for you to notice how the stage is set for the oppression of women for ages to come; make the woman a scapegoat,justifying her oppression.Speaking of the Greeks; it is important to note that they are credited (in Athens) with starting  democracy. In the Athenian democracy woman were not allowed to vote. The  philosopher Aristotle(wrongly) felt that women were naturally inferior to men."Again, the male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled (Aristotle,p.1254 book 13 Politics)." Aristotle unfortunately would have great influence in this regard as Women would wait until the 20th century for the right to vote in this country! I want you to follow the logic and see how the combination of these religious and social ideas adversely affected women. Lets look at Hesiod`s comments in  "Works and Days" concerning Women. "From her is the race of women and female kind of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmates in hateful poverty, but only in wealth (Works and Days,590).Women; have you ever considered why you give up YOUR last name in marriage? Let us continue. The Apostle Paul In I Cor 14:34 says "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith." Churches;preachers and ministers have debated over the "meaning" of this passage for centuries. The results have been that women have traditionally held either no role at all in the church or a secondary role.Believe it or not; it wasn`t until the 1800`s that we saw women being ordained by churches. In 2009 Britain almost had its first female Bishop but she lost out to a male canidate (oh the suprise!). "One of three candidates, she lost out to Reverend Gregor Duncan, 59, who is already dean of Glasgow and Galloway -- the diocese for which the election was being held (Macllelan, & Ormsby, 2010)." It is the combination of the above ideas; ingrained in the mind of men for generations that have led to the historic oppresion of women. Although some progress has been made in the western countries; in the middle east we see the barbaric treatment of women on a daily basis. In some African nations, India and in some middle eastern countries Woman are being raped, stoned, and prostituted without penalty. It was only in 1848 that the feeble "Married Women`s property Act" was passed by the New York legislature. Before this, women had no property rights. Therefore, if a woman had an inheritance and then decided to get married, all of that inheritance would transfer to the new husband.Why? "The very being or legal existance of the woman is suspended during her marriage (Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England,1765)." This is just another example of the viewpoints traditionally held by men concerning woman, these ideas were manifested in laws and customs in our evolving societies. We could go on and on speaking about the wage disparity between woman and men or the lack of women in high corporate positions. However the point has already been made and I  wish to move on to what I feel is the greatest tradegy of all of this. The greatest tradegy of holding women down for so long; is that we have cheated ourselves as a race of humans For each Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and Niels Bohr; we could have had a female just as brilliant.For every Marcus Aurelius, and Antonius Pious we could have had female equivalents.Have you ever heard of Zenobia? The woman who led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire. Yes there are exceptions throughout history; these exceptions show us what we have cheated ourselves out of. Today primarily in more "civilized" nations, we see women being effective in high positions. Imagine all of the talent that we men have oppressed,raped, and discriminated against for hundreds of years. All because of a misguided belief that took hold early in our cultural formation. There is still a long way to go; as many are stuck in the barbaric and primative mindset, that places woman in a secondary role.Unfortunately;Woman have been held down so long; that they themselves are struggling to find their idenities outside of what men have defined them to be.We will never know what we have lost; perhaps a cure for cancer; or a great writer, singer, leader, we will suffer unknowingly in silence. I close with a quote from Sara M. Grimke (1792-1873). "I have sometimes been astonished and grieved at the servitude of women...she merges her rights and her duties with her husband...women ,among the lowest classes of society,so far as my observation has extended, suffer intensely from the brutality of their husbands.Duty as well as inclination has led me, for many years, into the abodes of poverty and sorrow, and I have been amazed at the treatment which woman receive at the hands of those , who arrogate to themselves the epithet of protectors .Brute force, the law of violence, rules to a great extent in the poor man`s domicil; the woman is little more than his drudge. They are less under the supervision of public opinion, less under the restraints of education, and unaided or unbiased by the refinements of society.Religion, wherever it exists,supplies the place of all these; but the real cause of woman`s degradation and to be found in the erroneous notion of her inferiority to man; and never will be rightly regarded...until this opinion is exploded (Schneir,1972,p48)."

Hesiod,Works and Days (590)
Aristotle, . Politics.
Bible (KJV)

Macllelan, K., & Ormsby, A. (2010, January 16). Church votes not to elect britain's first female bishop. Reuters, Retrieved from             
Schneir, M. (Ed.). (1972). Feminism:the essential historical writings. New York,N.Y: Vinatage Books.

Suggested reading:
Women without Superstition "No Gods No Masters" ed. A.L Gaylor It is a great compilation of women writers; and will provide a great understanding of their perspective.
A thousand spendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: A great historic fiction novel. It gives great insights on the lives of two woman living in modern Afhghanistan. If you think women in America have a long way to go, read this book!
Read as much as you can because "to know is to be free (B.Spinoza)" :-)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What is "God"?

I wish to begin with a quote from Albert Einstein . When asked  if he believed in God by Rabbi Herbert Goldstein; Einstein responded, "
"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists," not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."
Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp (The Open Court Publishing Co., La Salle, Illinois, Third Edition, 1970) pp. 659 - 660
So today we look at Spinoza`s answer to the question: What is God? Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was a Dutch philosopher with Jewish parents. He was brilliant as a youth; and his brilliance promised him a bright rabbinical career. However his ideas proved to be too controversial for the time, and he was eventually excommunicated from the Jewish circles. His greatest work "Ethics" was only published after his death; we must remember that at the time, to oppose the established religions in anyway was asking for trouble to say the least. I urge anyone who is interested to find out more about this very influential philosopher to read Ethics and  Theological Political Treatise. There are also some great modern works on Spinoza by Prof. Steven Nadler  on Amazon.
We first begin with what God is not.Spinoza believed that God is not anthropomorphic. In other words God does not portray human characteristics. In the Bible we read that at various times that God is angry or wrathful, repentant etc. Understanding history is very important here also; in the times the Bible and other ancient religious text were written, the main style of government was the Monarchy. So we can see that the "God" of the religious texts reflects this. God has a "throne" and "servants" or attendants. According to Spinoza; God has none of these attributes; God is not concerned or involved with human affairs or providing divine assistance in any way.
Spinoza`s God is identical with nature; however a common misconception made by many is to label Spinoza a Pantheist. This is an error because according to Spinoza, God is not "in" all; but God "is" all. Now people may say "Does that mean God is a Rock or Tree? No; this would be a gross misunderstanding. I like to explain it this way. If we take any object in the universe and break it all the way down to its smallest particles; you will see that everything in the universe is made of the same substances. Let us take a look at the periodic table of elements. The only differnce between the elements lies in the amount of protons,neutrons and electrons. So Hydrogen for instance; has one proton and Hydrogen has two. However they have different attributes. Let us take our breathable Oxygen; O2. In nature Oxygen occurs as a "diatonic gas," thus O2(molecule) and not just a single Oxygen atom. The difference between Oxygen (O2) and Ozone(O3); you guessed it! is an extra oxygen atom. This is what we mean when we talk about the "oneness" or "sameness" of all things. Although we see things in nature possessing different attributes; they are all the same in their "core" nature. If we were to continue to break the elements down; we will find that  all of the same particles exist in all elements.
According to Spinoza God is that; which is by nature is self-existant,  eternal, and infinite. This is why there can only be one God; because God is the source of all things in the universe. You can name it what you please; but the attributes must be present for it to be "God." In other words God can`t have a cause; because then that which caused God to exist would then be "God."  The same applies to the "eternalness" of God; by nature God must always have existed. I always am reminded of the First law of thermodynamics "Energy can neither be created or destroyed." God is simply the beginning and end of all things, or  Alpha and Omega; everthing in the universe is just a nother possibility of God manifested.  This led Spinoza to say; "There is one substance in the universe; it is God; and everything else is in God." We are all connected in this way; humans, animals, stars etc. This is why Spinoza used the term "nature" to describe the phenomena; everywhere you look and turn, is just another manifestation or form of "God."We are just different combinations of One substance. Here is a simple way of looking at it: Think of all of the products that are made of crude oil. We have plastic bottles,bags,rubber tires,artificial hearts,band-aids and almost anything else you can think of. Note all of these different things evolve from one substance. This is the same idea of Spinoza; Everything in the universe, Stars, humans,rocks,dogs,guitar stings and whatever you can fathom; all come from the same substance ultimately.As a matter of fact; Try to think of anything in the entire universe that does not consist of the same atomic and sub-atomic particles.Imagine if you could "zoom" in even further; eventually we must reach a place where there is no more breakdown, nothing smaller, and without cause and at the same time has always been (deep!!). It is this eternal,self-generating,infinite force that we call God.
Sources and "Suggested" reading:

Baruch Spinoza: Ethics ;Political Theological Treatise  (these books are so old that you can read them for free online at   or Purchase them super cheap somewhere.

Steven Nadler Prof. @Univ. of Wisconsin (Chair of philosophy)

Spinoza: A life   (A nice read)
In this lecture he gives a nice basic/light intro to Spinoza:

Laws of thermodynamics:

Related is Leibniz idea of Monads :

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How the concept of "God" is used to control throughout the ages.

 Throughout the ages man has worshiped everything that he has laid his eyes upon; men,women, animals, statues etc.Religions of the world; in an attempt to control God, and by default everything else have created the multitude of "gods" that we follow today.The idea is ancient and simple; the one who has "God" on their side has the power and control over the masses. In ancient Egypt the Pharaohs were worshiped as the fleshly incarnation of God on earth under the name of Horus.(Note: The theme of God coming to earth as a man occurs in many ancient writings). Believing that the Pharaoh was "God in the flesh," gave him great power.Fast forward to the Roman Empire; Jesus was worshiped by the later Christians as God Incarnate.(see I Tim 3:16) The emperors were also worshiped, especially in the east and in Asia.In the western part, the people worshiped symbols of the emperor. In India; the word "Avatar (you may have seen the movie!) describes an incarnation of God on the earth."Eventually; the idea of "God-Men" walking the earth faded somewhat; and then we had people claiming to be sent as Gods messenger. For instance your local pastor,priest, rabbi, Imam etc often claims to be sent by God in one way or another. Or they say  God is "speaking through them." Notice the results are still the same; if you believe I am from God, then you are likely to listen to what ever I have to say.How can you refuse God after all? It is possibly the greatest hustle of all time; for another man  who is born to live and die just like you, to elevate himself above you by claiming power from an invisible deity.Moving on; The rise of the Catholic church and the immense power of the popes and bishops all stem from these old ideas. It is well known before the invention Gutenberg`s press, that the Bible was only in Latin and translated and interpreted by the Catholic priests. It does not take too much imagination to think of the control the church had over peoples lives, and the injustices wrought as a result. This of course would birth the protestant revolution; but that is another topic. Across the world many are going to war and dying because they believe God is telling them; of course it is another man, who simply says that "GOD told HIM to tell YOU" to give your life. In the days of slavery in the U.S. the slaves were taught to expect little here on earth, but to "wait for their reward in heaven." The barbarian Nordic tribes (inaccurately called Vikings) believed that if they died in battle; that they would go to Valhalla, which is sort of a paradise or heaven. Overkill; is mentioning the 10+ Crusades or "holy wars" that took place between the Christians and Muslims. The point is; that many millions and millions of people have lost their lives needlessly, because of these beliefs. If anything God should sue for defamation of character and copyright infringement. God has been used to control, steal, and kill more people in this world than anything I can think of. Why?? I think that inside many of us, resides a deep fear of the unknown; we desire to know. The charlatans take advantage of this longing inside of us; and many of us waste our lives serving other people, who made us think we were serving God.  In the next blog we ask and answer the question :What is God? (hint: Spinoza)
suggested reading:

The Crusades: A Short History by Jonathan Riley Smith
Edward Gibbon: Decline and fall of the Roman Empire (It is a huge work, but great)
Plutarch: Moralia vol: V, Isis and Osiris
Anything! on the Catholic church in the middle ages
Slave Narratives (U.S)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Miracles in the New Testament:Literal, allegorical, or neither?

I have found that concerning biblical exegesis that there are several types of believers. Those that take the bible literally (e.g. God created  everything in seven days) and those that interpret the scriptures in an allegorical manner.For instance; the seven creative days maybe seven "periods of time." However there are certain tenants that most believers take in a literal fashion. Some of these are:
  1. The Resurrection of Jesus
  2. The Ascension of Jesus
  3. The immaculate conception
There are many more, but the point is made already.I will open up with a quote from the great 'freethinker' Annie Besant (1847-1943)."The most remarkable thing in the evidences afforded by profane history is their extreme paucity; the very existence of Jesus cannot be proved from contemporary documents. A child whose birth is heralded by a star which guides foreign sages to Judea; a massacre of all the infants of a town within the Roman Empire by command of a subject king; a teacher who heals the leper, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the lame, and who raises the moldering corpse; a King of the Jews entering Jerusalem in triumphal procession, without opposition from the Roman legions of Caesar; an accused ringleader of sedition arrested by his own countrymen, and handed over to the imperial governor; a rebel adjudged to death by Roman law; a three hours' darkness over all the land; an earthquake breaking open graves and rending the temple veil; a number of ghosts wandering about Jerusalem; a crucified corpse rising again to life, and appearing to a crowd of above 500 people; a man risen from the dead ascending bodily into heaven without any concealment, and in the broad daylight, from a mountain near Jerusalem; all these marvelous events took place, we are told, and yet they have left no ripple on the current of contemporary history (Besant,1893;p.194)." When I first read this years ago, I was intrigued by the boldness of the statement. She had articulated the very ideas that I had jumbled around in my head for years.As a youth I was told about Christ and encouraged to "believe" the bible, but not "think" about it. The point of her argument is that with all of these miraculous things; there is not one mention of any of it by the historians of the day. "The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, demons were expelled, and the laws of nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the Church. But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world. Under the reign of Tiberius the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman Empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours. Even this miraculous event, which ought to have excited the wonder, the curiosity, and the devotion of mankind, passed without notice in an age of science and history. It happened during the lifetime of Seneca and the elder Pliny, who must have experienced the immediate effects, or received the earliest intelligence, of the prodigy. Each of these philosophers, in a laborious work, has recorded all the great phenomena of nature—earthquakes, meteors, comets, and eclipses, which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the globe.(Besant,1893;p.195)."I see this as a major problem for those that believe these things actually happened. The lack of historical collaboration from contemporary Greek, Jewish, and Roman historians is just telling. Here is a list of historians that were living during the time of Jesus or within a hundred years:
Apollonius             Persius
 Appian                 Petronius
 Arrian                 Phaedrus
 Aulus Gellius          Philo-Judaeus
 Columella              Phlegon
 Damis                  Pliny the Elder
 Dio Chrysostom         Pliny the Younger
 Dion Pruseus           Plutarch
 Epictetus              Pompon Mela
 Favorinus              Ptolemy
 Florus Lucius          Quintilian
 Hermogones             Quintius Curtius
 Josephus               Seneca
 Justus of Tiberius     Silius Italicus
 Juvenal                Statius
 Lucanus                Suetonius
 Lucian                 Tacitus
 Lysias                 Theon of Smyran
 Martial                Valerius Flaccus
 Paterculus             Valerius Maximus
None of these writers mentions any of the "miracles" ascribed in the new Testament. I believe that none of those things actually took place. Think of the ascension; if a man was seen floating into the heavens one day, don`t you think someone would take the time to write it down ?
I will give my explanation for these "miracles," but I must say the fault is not in the bible. The fault is in those that read and interpret with limited understanding. To better understand the teaching; it is important to understand the culture surrounding the region. This will be important when we discuss the "themes" and influences of various religions on each other. Any cursory study of mythology will demonstrate that we have a tendency to exaggerate. It is an ancient tradition. The word eulogy comes from the Greek; eulogos and means "good words." In ancient times great heroes were "deified" or made into gods, this was how they were eulogized. I give you the example of Hercules; who is regarded as a "mythological" character, but did you know that the ancient northern Africans regarded him as someone who actually lived? The book, "Jugurthine War" by Gaius Sullustius Crispus; also known as "Sallust,"  describes this in some detail:
"Concerning the original inhabitants of Africa, the settlers that afterward joined them, and the manner in which they intermingled, I shall offer the following brief account, which, though it differs from the general opinion, is that which was interpreted to me from the Punic volumes said to have belonged to King Hiempsal[65], and which the inhabitants of that country believe to be consistent with fact. For the truth of the statement, however, the writers themselves must be responsible.
XVIII. Africa, then, was originally occupied by the Getulians and Libyans,[66] rude and uncivilized tribes, who subsisted on the flesh of wild animals, or, like cattle, on the herbage of the soil. They were controlled neither by customs, laws, nor the authority of any ruler; they wandered about, without fixed habitations, and slept in the abodes to which night drove them. But after Hercules, as the Africans think, perished in Spain, his army, which was composed of various nations,[67] having lost its leader, and many candidates severally claiming the command of it, was speedily dispersed (Conspiracy of Cataline and Jugurthine War)." So here we see that the now mythological figure Hercules was at one time regarded, at least by ancient northern Africans as a real living leader. This is why understanding history is very important.In ancient times great men were said to be "half man, and half god," that is usually  a God as the father and a human as the mother. So in mythology Hercules was the son of Jupiter; which by the way is the Roman equivalent to Zeus-pater of the Greeks, and Deus-pater of India, but that is another topic. The name translates to "father-god" or "God the father." So Hercules was son of Jupiter and his mother was Alcmena, a mortal. Dionysus was born of Zeus and the mortal woman Semele. You can look up any of these myths online at . If you really want to be an "old school" scholar, you can read the "Theogony" by Hesiod, which describes all of the origins of the Greek gods. So without going into much detail one can see a pattern of Gods and mortals being the mix of a "great" man. Now when we see that Jesus was born of God(holy Spirit) and a mortal (Mary), the story no longer sounds original, but like an old story retold. In ancient times great men were deified after death, in modern times  this is hard to understand, and people either take these ancient stories literally or they reject the person altogether as if they did not exist. Lets look a bit further for a final example of this phenomenon. The Roman Emperor Augustus; who was the nephew of Julius Caesar, was born to Atia balba Caesonia(mother) and Gaius Octavius in 63B.C. He died in 14 A.D (In the time of Jesus) at 75 years of age. Now when he died, he was declared a god by the Roman Senate to be worshipped. According to the Roman historian Suetonius Tranquillus, "When Atia(mother) had come in the middle of the night to the solemn service of Apollo, she had her litter set down in the temple and fell asleep, while the rest of the matrons also slept. On a sudden a serpent glided up to her and shortly went away. When she awoke, she purified herself, as if after the embraces of her husband, and at once there appeared on her body a mark in colors like a serpent, and she could never get rid of it; so that presently she ceased ever to go to the public baths. In the tenth month after that Augustus was born and was therefore regarded as the son of Apollo (Suetonius,chap 94)." So you can see by this example, how a normal man would be made into a "magical" or mythological figure. There are countless other examples, but the point is that we must understand that it was normal to relay fantastic stories about great men after their deaths. In this way they are never forgotten. It was never meant to be taken literally.I believe the New Testament was just as much a product of its time as anything else. Although the evidence is quite spurious and scarce to say the least. It is possible that Jesus existed; but merely as a man and a great teacher. Upon his death; it is quite possible that his followers, then "deified" him in the same manner that other highly esteemed men were in ancient times. My final point lies in a little book written in the 13th century called the "Golden Legend." You can read it for free here: It a compilation of books about all of the lives of the Saints. What makes the book stand out; is that all of the stories are written in this "deified" way.Tons of miracles and amazing stories about all of the saints.Here is a brief example: St.Christopher; "After this Christopher was brought before the king, and the king commanded that he should be beaten with rods of iron, and that there should be set upon his head a cross of iron red hot and burning, and then after, he did  make a siege or a stool of iron, and made Christopher to be bounden thereon, and after, to set fire under it, and cast therein pitch. But the siege or settle melted like wax, and Christopher issued out without any harm or hurt. And when the king saw that, he commanded that he should be bound to a strong stake, and that he should be through-shotten with arrows with forty knights archers. But none of the knights might attain him, for the arrows hung in the air about, nigh him, without touching (Golden Legend, ST.Christopher).   This is obviously  not meant to be taken in a literal fashion; and it was not at the time. It was extremely popular, and published in several editions. Each story is pretty much the same, The saint is introduced, and somewhere in the narrative a major miracle is done, and then we are told how they died.In this new light; try reading the gospels, and also Acts of the apostles, along with the Golden Legend; you will see the similarities.My conclusion is that the dead were never raised, nor was there any miraculous birth, or darkness over the land. I believe that in order to preserve the legacy and as a way of honoring these great leaders; that such narratives were written to encourage and generate faith and hope in the believer.After all; you may forget Reverend "so and so" after he is gone, but if he "healed the sick,raised the dead, walked on water, and ascended into heaven" it would be hard to ever forget him, or not to believe his teachings; and this, I believe was the main purpose of such stories in ancient times.

references:    a free link to the "Golden Legend stories"
Besant, Annie. (1893). The freethinkers handbook pt2 
Gaius Sullustius Crispus, . Catlline conspiracy & jugurthine war
Suetonius Tranquillus, . The lives of the twelve caesars:The life of augustus.  

further reading:
Cassius Dio: Roman History
Appollodorus:The library


I want to welcome everyone to my world. Here I will be discussing various and wide ranging topics. As per my collegiate training; I will always use reliable sources( key word is reliable; not wikipedia), so that what I say can be researched and verified by another. I also expect the same in a response. I f you disagree with me; it is fine as I do not get offended, but reliable sources are what we use to test the veracity of what is being postulated. I ask that people be open minded, as we will be discussing "heavy" topics, such as religion, history and politics from time to time. As well as social issues such as crime, feminism, as well as traditional institutions. Why start a blog? Well I have something to say; and it is a great outlet. Furthermore, I feel that many people have lost the ability to think critically about issues. To much dependency is placed on "leaders," (e.g. Limbaugh, Sharpton, Jackson)  religious figures (e.g. Pope, Pastors etc.) and government. Going into depth on certain topics is designed to provoke thought at the least and change at the most. The title "Ubermensch" is inspired by Nietzsche; it is popular translated as the "Superman" but more accurately the "over-man." The concept behind it : " a foundation from which to attempt to challenge the ingrained values of society. These values behind what is considered to be good and evil, he asserts... serve only to hamper human potential and have no basis on our everyday experiences (486-487, The Portable Nietzsche by Viking Press)." In our posts we will be looking critically at several institutions. It is important for me to say that; critically does not mean condescendingly, we are merely using the tools given to dig for enlightenment. Namely, historical evidence, opinions from great minds (who don`t always agree of course) and of course the pragmatic application in today`s world (i.e. Is it working?). I humbly ask that you maintain an open mind, have a willingness to learn and seek.
"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing (Socrates)."
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