Friday, December 31, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
My name is Jabu. I’m an 18 year old atheist from Zimbabwe living in Botswana, Africa. I’m the author of OH MY GOD!!!(Or lack thereof). To fully communicate my reasons for starting this blog, I must tell you a little more about myself. I live in a Christian household, specifically Seventh-Day Adventist, and my family is blissfully unaware of my chosen ideology. The greater majority of my friends are also very religious, most possessing a uniquely African brand of Christian fundamentalism. So I started this blog with a dual purpose: trying to get my friends to seriously think about all the dogma they accept as truth and as a sort of repository of explanations for my lack of faith I can show to my family when the truth finally comes out.
That’s not to say other non-theists, doubters or people just out for a good debate are excluded – you are just as welcome to read, and feel free to follow the blog or subscribe to the feed. An African and ex-Seventh-Day Adventist perspective will permeate my posting, and if you have acquaintances that belong to either party, please do refer them to the blog. Adventism will be a major focus in the blog, as I am constantly bombarded with it, and a pet passion of mine is refuting the pseudoscientific claims constantly being repeated on their TV channels. Adventists are much more difficult to deal with than other Christians, because they not only believe themselves superior to those of other religions, but to other Christians as well.
Anyway, please do visit the blog, follow, and make comments if you feel the urge.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
The versions of historical documents we have today are certainly not originals. Through the ages, books have been copied and recopied for the purposes of dissemination, and in order to replace worn out copies. Throughout this process, overseen by humans without any technical aids, changes must inevitably occur, whether through simple human error or according to some influential individual’s own diabolical ends.
Errors, be they simple linguistic or replication errors, have crept into religious and historical works. For example, interpretations of the Bible differ widely, as translations from one language to another always do. A mere glance at the myriad versions of that particular book is sure to confuse and confound any sane man. Which is correct? Is it, as many ultracon fundamentalists from ‘round the hood would have us believe, the King James version that is the undiluted word of God? Does Jesus speak in thees, thines and thous? Does Job 39:9 speak of a unicorn, an ox or a rhinoceros? These are simply ambiguities in the original language, but there are intentional alterations made to back up a certain viewpoint. Take for example 1 Samuel 20:41. Most translations say that David and Jonathan kissed, and linguists back this interpretation of the original, but the New Living Translation says that they shared a buddy hug, the thought of two men playing tongue twisters (okay, maybe that’s a little exaggeration on my part) seemingly abhorrent to its translators.
There is also much evidence of additions and alterations made in the past to the manuscripts themselves during their replication. These seem to have been made to back up a certain viewpoint, with quite a few presenting one in particular that would prove to be the driving force behind some of the greatest atrocities ever committed.
The first of these forgeries: Jesus’ deity and equality with God seems to have been manufactured some time after he supposedly walked the Earth. Take Luke 3:22. Earlier manuscripts say, “You are my son, today have I begotten thee,” implying that Jesus was not God’s son right up until his baptism, which is when he achieved his “apotheosis”. Yet later manuscripts, on which the majority of modern versions are based, say, “You are my son, whom I love.” This alteration seems to have been made to back up the view that Jesus was God, and was so from the moment of his birth, a view that only became popular among Christians much later after his death.
Another set of alterations describe the period after his supposed rise from the dead. The entirety of John 21, in which Jesus appears to some of the disciples while they are fishing, proclaims Peter as head of the church and prophesies how he would die, and the writer of the gospel is identified, is completely absent from earlier manuscripts. Another notable addition is Mark 16:9-20, in which Jesus gives the Great Commission, which is the basis of the entire evangelical movement which has caused so many of us who really don’t give a flying filbert so much grief.
Now for the biggest, and most controversial supposed alteration. This has to do with one of the biggest criticisms of the Bible and Christianity as a whole. Yep, we’re talking about the issue of patriarchy and misogyny as practiced by the Good Fellows of the Pan-Millennial Bible Writers Club. Misogyny in the Old Testament is well known: I mean, the fellows made no attempt whatsoever to hide it (‘tis the woman who tempted the man to eat the forbidden fruit, all sorts of weird rules in Leviticus about being “unclean” that seem to single women out more than men, like how a woman is unclean for longer after giving birth to a girl than she is for a boy, arranged and forced marriages, and so on, and so on, and so on, and so on...).
But that’s just the Old Testament, the Christians say. Jesus changed all that stuff, and we make use of the New Testament. But closer inspection shows that the New Testament isn’t all that different. Sure, it’s a little watered down and marginally better than the crazy crap you find in the OT, but it’s still there, and definitely abhorrent by today’s standards. This isn’t an attack on biblical misogyny, though. That’s the subject of a whole different post.
The insertion of passages ostensibly perpetuating misogyny is a recurring thread in the New Testament’s history. For example, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, the infamous 1 Corinthians:34-35, the one which states how women are not allowed to participate in Church discussions, is entirely absent from earlier manuscripts of the epistle.
By far one of the most famous controversies surrounding the bible is the apparent smear campaign on Mary Magdalene, made famous by Dan Brown’s The da Vinci Code. Whole swaths of verses connected to her were seemingly added on to the gospel centuries after they were written: they are completely absent from earlier manuscripts! Take John 8:1-11 for example, the parable of the woman found in adultery. It is not even clear whether this woman was even Mary, but the connection seems to have been made by the early church. Well, it is definite that this woman cannot have been whom it is claimed, because this passage was fabricated some time much later. Also of note is Mark 26:9-23, which I have already mentioned. This passage contains an additional smear of Mary, stating that Jesus drove seven demons out of her. These (apparent) forgeries, coupled with the exclusion of gospels presenting Mary as much more than a simple acquaintance of Jesus certainly lend credence to parts of Dan Brown’s theory, though I still have my reservations on certain details.
The presence of forgeries also raises an interesting dilemma for the fundamentalist Christian. If a Liberal or non-Christian raises the example of misogyny as a reason for not basing their morality on the Bible, the fundie cannot say that the given examples are forgeries, for that is a challenge to the Biblical Inerrancy the Fundie holds dear, which is in and of itself another reason for one not to base their entire existence on what the bible says. But this is the topic of another essay entirely.
Now, you may have noticed that I pretty much entirely used the Judeo-Christian scriptures as an example of changes made through the ages. Some may then go on to accuse me of harbouring specifically anti-Christian sentiments, but any such accusations would be misplaced. Yes, the Christian faith does hold a special place in my heart as the one in which I have been so long incarcerated and has forced me to live an emotionally draining double life, but these emotional reasons are not the only ones. The Bible is the only religious text I have read in full (unless The Secret counts) and I simply have no experience of others. I have only read excerpts of the Koran, and snippets of other religious texts that give the gist of what they have to say, hence are not really qualified to offer a full-on exegesis of their flaws and issues. I can only defer to those who have had more experience with them.
I also need to touch on the possibility of small errors creeping into the works over time. The versions of texts we have today are copies of copies of copies to the nth factor. Undoubtedly, in the process of copying these texts, accidental errors have crept in, incrementally adding up to something quite different from the original. But mere error can only alter a work so far, and I don’t believe they are such a large factor in alteration of historical texts.
The bottom line of all this is that most, if not all ancient texts we possess have been unavoidably adulterated in the process of preserving them for future generations, not just for religious texts but pure historical ones as well. This has been for various reasons, some decidedly sinister, some merely political while others may have been well-meaning but ultimately deviated from the facts or at least the original content. I see no problem in people extracting bits of these ancient texts which are compatible with their own morals and today’s more enlightened society, and applying them to their own philosophy, but to insist on calling them inerrant and hinging one’s entire existence upon them is folly indeed.
Friday, December 10, 2010
For some reason the primeval MWUETSI was popped into the bottom of a lake along with a horn of Ngona oil. This is amazingly fertile stuff and soon the lake was full of aquatic life. But MWUETSI complained bitterly. Not only were living conditions far too damp, he had gone right off raw fish suppers.But placed against some Middle-Eastern beliefs...:
In the beginning, YAHWEH created the Heavens and the Earth. It only took him six days with no hired help. He also found the time to include incontrovertible evidence of a Big Bang, presumably to annoy future cosmologists...
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The interpretations we possess of history are varied and conflicting. This is largely a result of a large number of sources covering one event as they personally see it, hence resulting in many differing original accounts, and also in the large number of interpretations of these very sources. The result is a widely varied and very confusing picture of the past, and the average Joe and Jane are at a loss to decide which version to believe. Hence, they often decide to adopt the first they are exposed to, a practice which, I must say, is not very good scientific procedure. The aim of this treatise is to dissect these reasons and lay them before the reader, and also present, in a nutshell, my own theory, my reasons for holding it, and a fair concession of its weaknesses.
The Source: Subjective Witnesses
From the very earliest written historical records we possess, which date back to the Sumerian Empire which flourished in the Tigris and Euphrates valley about 6,000 years ago, there is ambiguity. From that era right up to the 20th Century, when reliable archiving systems were developed and advances in multimedia technology allowed for the recording of history as it happened, conflicting accounts of events exist. Even after the advent of these systems, accounts have been twisted, manipulated and altered to serve the disseminator’s own ends.
Good ol’ fashioned politickin’ has been the main culprit in the alteration of historical accounts. Battle accounts, especially, are prone to embellishments. It is well known that the victor in a war is always the one who writes the history books. As such, said victor will always take up the opportunity and choose to paint the opponent in a different light in order to vindicate their own motives. A practice which was common especially in the age from the dawn of civilisation right up to the 18th Century or so was to embellish battle reports, exaggerating army sizes and battle conditions in order to prove a military leader’s battle prowess. The loser of a battle may also do the same in order to save face.
Religion also plays a major role in the deliberate alteration of history. Religious texts are riddled with embellishments inserted on purpose to reinforce the supposed “greatness of the Big Guy being praised. As a result, the outcomes of battles, army sizes and military tactics are altered from fact, actions of individuals falsified and legends of heroes and villains created from thin air.
Not all misrepresentations featured in religious writings are deliberate. Lack of scientific knowledge is also to blame. Early peoples had no knowledge of certain phenomena and hence subjectively misinterpreted them to be the actions of the gods. As a result the texts are filled with wild superstitions and improbable phenomena which today’s science minded people dismiss as nonsense as they are unable to see the truth behind the myth. This is very unfortunate, as I do believe that hidden within the smoke and shadows are many actual historical accounts.
Perhaps even more unfortunate is the fact that the type of thinking that was prevalent in those dark, uninformed days is still perpetuated today. Even as the boundaries of the unknown are continually being pushed further and further back people still cling to their illusions, hindering the progress of good, sound science. But this is a completely different topic that I shall later discuss in detail. Meanwhile, I would advise you not to take what you read about the past without a dose of good, healthy scepticism. Do come back to read the next part of this treatise, scrutinising the process by which information is passed down from generation to generation.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Those who know me would probably testify otherwise, but let's put things into perspective: I haven't taken any I.Q tests of late, but I'm sure it's slightly above average. But there are, there most definitely are many, many others whose are way higher than mine. Tales abound of child geniuses, kids who've had PhDs as young as twelve. I'm eighteen and still have a year and a half of high school ahead of me. Leonardo da Vinci, estimated to have been the most intelligent man to have lived was a master of the arts and sciences, decades ahead of his contemporaries. I am but a blind, bumbling fool in comparison to him.
Let's take into account the sum total of man's collected wisdom and knowledge. There are eight odd billion functioning minds on the planet today, and billions more have flared for but a moment and ceased to exist. Can we possibly calculate how much knowledge has passed through these minds, passed on to eager, young disciples or committed into writing? How much more has been lost, descending to the grave with its owner?
Taking it further, how much more is there to be known? The universe is infinitely vast, and we occupy an insignificant rock, the third from an insignificant sun in an unfashionable part of the universe (with apologies to Douglas Adams). How much knowledge, how many mysteries does the universe hold? How much of it do we, the human race, possess?
These are questions to ponder about, questions which the human race needs to keep in mind. Ultimately, who has the right to call himself smart, to lord it over others because he is intellectually superior? I certainly do not.
Well randomly, a thing happened and caused me to start writing all sorts of profound, philosophical stuff. This has been going on for over a year now and I've amassed several thick volumes of my thoughts on issues ranging from religion to time travel, archaeology to zoology, the New Age movement to the big bang theory.