Saturday, October 28, 2017

Equality in all shades and colors

Sometime back, I went sailing - like usual - with a friend of mine from the Hoofer sailing club, on a keelboat named Spray. He invites a whole bunch of his friends on these sails, so that there was a random medley of people on this sail as well. There was one person who particularly ticked me off. It is hard to explain why; perhaps it was the bossy attitude unsupported by an equivalent knowledge in sailing. At some point, I had said 'let's do a man overboard drill' - and she jumped on me saying it's a "Crew Overboard" and not a man overboard.

I am a person who has always and for eternity advocated for equality in all aspects; be it race/color, caste/class, or gender. Yet, her overbearing delivery just made me repulsed; wanting to fight back. Here is a person, who a little while ago was touting her German boyfriend, and how the Germans and Europeans are better than Americans, and I am suddenly to give her regard to her idiosyncratic views on gender equality? Besides, crew overboard is fairly wrong - the person overboard could be passenger and not crew - in fact, the one real life man overboard situation I have had to deal with was a little girl who was a passenger on the boat I was skippering. Likewise, "man" is a word that has a gendered use of the masculine, as well as a gender-less use of short for "human." I suppose one could use "human" or "person" overboard - but that is an extra syllable. For something like the impersonal pronoun used for a single individual who may be of either gender, I have for while resorted to using "they" instead of "he" or the clunky "he/she" - that fits rather beautifully. For example: "Candidate was smart. They knew what they were talking about" - would be how I would write up about a candidate after interviewing them for work. Plus, in many languages, using the plural is considered respectful as well. But there is not a good substitute for "man" in the use of a gender-agnostic single individual from the group of "humans." In some cases, person or human fits, but not all.

Anyhow, to me there seems to be a few problems with the equality advocated by many people these days. I will enumerate some here:

First of all, a lot of people don't really mean equality when they say equality. Rather they want some sort of retribution. The blacks were oppressed for a long period in history by the whites; so now the whites can take some unfair treatment favoring the blacks, ostensibly for the betterment of the blacks - the heart of "Affirmative Action." India has an equivalent for addressing the caste system. However, these laws actually write discrimination based on color/caste/whatever into the constitution of the country - a fundamentally wrong direction if the objective is to remove discrimination. Or the case that women were oppressed by the men, so it is only appropriate that man bear some suffering for the betterment of women. Etc. I don't think I agree with this view of equality - to me equality really means equality. How I behave to you will be completely uninfluenced by whether you are black or white, or male or female or whatever. Put another way, there wouldn't be any difference in my behavior to you, from that of mine to someone who has the exact opposite of whatever trait is in question, but is otherwise identical. Basically I don't even "see" the difference. If our objective is to eliminate these differences, then we need to get to that place of altogether not seeing these differences ourselves.

Another interesting one is the, I want equality where I get to benefit, but I am perfectly fine to discriminate, when it is to my convenience. A great example: there are plenty of women who are fierce advocates of the gender equality; but when it comes to their dating partners, they have to be from their own race. I can't explain how upset I have felt by the frequency with which I see "whites only" etc. on online dating websites. (Don't get me wrong on my picking on women; I am sure there are men too who state such; I just don't see their profiles as much.) After all, I think intermarriage is the fastest way to reconciliation of all such differences in society except the gender divide. Plus, if anything, there is a lot more opportunity to learn from each other when your partner is from a different background, than if you both grew up under similar circumstances (perhaps it's my streak of 'never choose the easy route' speaking). And it's the better choice from a genetic diversity perspective as well.

A third is some of the dangerous things perpetrated in the name of equality. I will touch upon two:

The most striking thing that comes to mind is the support of the Purdah / Burkah - the muslim female costume. I have come to consider this as a cloth-prison. It is unquestionably the most significant instrument of female subordination in the history of human species. Yet, how the liberal establishment protects this absurdity in the name of equality of religion is appalling. The excuse I have often heard is that the woman wishes to wear it, so it is her right to do so. But by that logic, there were many slaves who genuinely wished to continue to be slaves; who believed that the place god ordained to them in this world was that of slavery - does that support the continuance of slavery in the world? If not, nor should the woman's desire to wear a purdah be encouragement to the abuse.

A second is the recent trend of rioting whenever a black person is apprehended by police. I can understand the rioting if the police behavior were unwarranted - and that after this was established. But in most instances I have heard so far, the person apprehended was guilty of criminal behavior, and the fact that they were black was only incidental. I think it is setting a dangerous trend in society when different people are expected to only live up to different levels of legal integrity based on their skin color.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thoughts on Climate Change

Climate Change is a very heated subject. Everyone has strong opinions about it, and much fighting happens on this topic. Therefore, sometimes I feel like it is hard to be an independent observer asking questions about Climate Change. Yet sadly I find myself full of questions.

 

A bit of background about my interest in the subject:

I was brought up in school with the firm idea that human beings are destroying our climate and our environment. We were taught the effects of Carbon Monoxide on Ozone, and the gaping holes that have appeared in our ozone layer. We were taught how the green-house gas emissions of humans was causing acid-rain, and how the polar ice-caps were melting at an astonishing pace. And I always believed what our textbooks said and our teachers taught us. 

But more recently, some questions have been popping up in my mind. First of all, it has been quite some time now since the alarming predictions of climate change were supposed to come true. California and much of the coastal parts of the world were supposed to be under the sea by the 15meter rise of the sea level already. Yet, the ocean water levels of the world has not significantly varied in that time frame. The northern polar ice is receding, but some studies say the Antarctic polar ice is building up. And so the question started popping up in my mind, was it over stated? Were the effects of global warming exaggerated to scare people? And this thought is what led me into investigating the subject. 

I will confess, my research has not produced a lot of answers. It however has identified a lot of questions, which apparently contemporary research seems to be ignoring. Hence this post, which is intended as food for thought for those inquisitive souls who I have failed to meet in person, but perhaps I might come across over the internet.

Questions:

If Carbon dioxide is the problem, why is reforestation not part of the solution?

To me, the balance of nature is a beautiful thing. What one produces, another consumes - and when one dies, it forms manure for another. Animals produce carbon dioxide. Fire, even naturally occurring like wildfires, produce carbon dioxide. And plants consume carbon dioxide in photosynthesis to reduce it into oxygen and non-gaseous materials. This is part of the carbon cycle.

So if the focus is really ensuring that the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is controlled, why do we expend so much energy in demonizing oil companies etc, when we could instead expend that energy in just planting more tress and plants, living more sustainably?

What is the appropriate level of carbon dioxide for the atmosphere? 

This is a very tricky question. Many people disagree. Patrick Moore, one of the influential figures in the Greenpeace foundation, delivered a very powerful speech at the "Global Warming Policy Foundation" in 2015 titled, "Should we celebrate Carbon Dioxide?" [link1, link2]. Carbon dioxide is life-giving; without carbon dioxide, there would be no life as we know it. And in his speech, he claims that while today's carbon dioxide levels are at 400ppm, the optimal carbon dioxide level for plants on earth is 2000ppm, and plants begin to die off at 150ppm. According to him, plants are "starving" for carbon dioxide - there isn't enough of it in the atmosphere.

What causes the cycle of ice ages? 

We know that the earth has gone through a few ice ages. They happen periodically - I think the period is roughly 100,000 years (?) or something like that. So I thought, if we are so sure that it is our actions that cause the climactic changes in the environment, then scientists must know all the other factors involved such as what causes the earth to cool into an ice age?, what causes the earth to warm while in an ice age, in-order to come out of the ice age? and why do mini-ice ages happen? such as the one in the late 17th century happen? 

It turns out, contemporary science knows very little about what causes ice-ages, and even less about what causes the warming that makes the earth come out of the ice-age. So then, how can we conclusively say it is not one of these natural phenomenon that is causing the warming we observes, but instead human activity? Especially since no model that is premised upon human activity has accurately been able to model these changes, even though many have been tried? 

What impact does Milakovitch Cycles have in all of this? 

It is funny how so many self-proclaimed experts on Global Warming know so little about Milankovitch Cycles. As a species, we understand that Milankovitch Cycles exist. It is caused primarily by three factors:
  1. The orbit of the earth around the sun is not a perfect circle. It oscillates between close to perfectly circular and seriously elliptical. This can greatly vary the distance b/w the earth and the sun in summer over many years. (The argument might be made here that summer is irrelevant, since when it is summer in one hemisphere, it is winter in the other and vice versa. However, this is not a valid argument. The northern hemisphere has more land area, and the southern has more water surface. This means each hemisphere has different heat reflection and retention properties).
  2. The orbit of the earth is not centered on the sun - rather the sun is to one side of it. And the orbit of the earth rotates around the sun in precession  Again another factor contributing to the variation in distance between earth and sun in summer over the years. 
  3. The earth's axial tilt is not a constant. It oscillates by about a couple of degrees on either side - or at least, that is how we understand it today, although I have wondered if the variation isn't even more - considering that (a) the magnetic poles wander extreme distances, even flipping around (b) the continental drift is not strictly longitudinal, but it seems to go southwards as well. So maybe the poles wander a heck a lot more than what we understand? And that means, the local temperatures vary a lot over the years - and given land and water hold and reflect different amounts of heat, that could have tremendous impact on the earth's climate.
What we don't seem to clearly know is the exact correlation between Milankovitch Cycles and ice ages. What causative influences do Milankovitch cycles have on
  1. the earth going into an ice age?
  2. the earth warming and coming out of an ice-age?
  3. the current climatic changes that we observe?

Who is the loser? 

In all of the global warming debate, there seems to be some losers. To me, it has often seemed that the focus has been shifted away from two issues - pollution and population.

We as a species has made a gigantic fucking mess on this planet. All those plastic water bottles, those fancy packaging of things we buy online, all the electronic gadgetry with their PCBs and hard-plastics, all those clothes that we use once and throw away - are all piling up rapidly in the oceans of the world. And many sea creatures - birds, whales etc are rapidly dying off. (Pictures of birds and sea animals dead because their stomach is full of plastic waste and therefore they cannot ingest the nutrients required for survival just makes me immensely sorrowful).

Even otherwise, as a species, our population today stands at around 7 billion or more. At that number, if we evenly distribute the land area of the planet, that is about 5 acres to a person. If we only consider regions that are neither hot deserts nor cold deserts, but are actually habitable, that number is far less (especially since Antartica, huge patches of Africa and Asia etc are gone). Assuming it takes at least half an acre merely for producing food for one human being, and factoring in the fact that population is denser in cities, but those people still need the farms that make their food and landfills that dispose their waste (New York ships its waste by trainloads into North Carolina for example), that still does not leave much room for other animals! Especially if we consider that the range of many of the bigger animals like Mountain lions, Elephants, Bears, Wolves etc can be many square miles (one Square mile = 640 acres).

To me therefore, the bigger problem is our sheer unsustainable population. If there weren't so many people, there wouldn't be so many cars, there wouldn't be so much plastic trash, there wouldn't be so much deforestation and endangerment of animal habitats. Yet these issues seem to get brushed under the rug due to our fixation on "Global warming".

Just like many people these days claim that religion is the hocus-pocus that diverts people's attention from Science, to me it seems like Global Warming / Climate Change is the hocus-pocus that diverts people's attention from the twin problems of Pollution and Population.

Who is the winner / who gets the money? 

There are a few people that seem to be winning from this focus on Global Warming. One certainly is a bunch of politicians, and I won't go into it since it is beneath my dignity to discuss the merits and demerits of contemporary politicians.

The second group of winners seems to be a bunch of special interest companies - epitomized by "Elon Musk". Why is it okay for us to be talking of the humongous gap between the rich and the poor with the one side of our mouths, yet at the same time, be okay for us to be touting characters like Elon Musk who are the very cause of that wealth disparity, with the other side of our mouths?

Most people don't think through this. Their allegiance is already set on Global Warming. And just like a Christian never questions his multi-millionaire pastor's requests for donations, we don't seem to question the likes of Elon Musk! Why is this the case?

Update: 06/09/2017:

This is a must read article for everyone still putting forth global warming, ahead of other concerns in this world: https://www.wsj.com/articles/matt-ridley-whatever-happened-to-global-warming-1409872855

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jupiter of the Jews

This is a follow-up article to my earlier one on turning Atheist, since after I wrote that article, I have come across some really convincing material that also explains a few particulars about Judaism and Christianity.

Recently I finished the book "Influence: the psychology of persuasion" by Robert Cialdini. (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Robert-Cialdini/dp/006124189X). It is an insightful work on human behavior, and I highly recommend it. But with regard to our topic in question, the book introduced me to a few concepts.

The first was the story of Festinger, Reicken and Schachter, where they studied a contemporary doomsday cult in Chicago. Their story is documented in their work "When Prophecy Fails" (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/When-Prophecy-Fails-Leon-Festinger/dp/1578988527/, Internet Archives ebook: https://archive.org/details/pdfy-eDNpDzTy_dR1b0iB). This was a seminal study that introduced the concept of "Cognitive Dissonance" to the modern world (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance)

Faith strengthens when prophecy fails
In the Festinger et. al. study, the three researchers essentially infiltrated a contemporary "doomsday cult" in a spectacular instance of "Participant Observation" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participant_observation). The cult in question believed that on a certain date, the world would be destroyed, but they being true believers, a UFO from almighty god will arrive at midnight of that day and rescue the 30 or so cult members into eternal salvation.

During the days leading up to the doomsday, the members of the cult, which was headed by a Chicago housewife and her husband who was a physician on staff of student health services, and included housewives, college and high-school students, a publisher, a hardware store clerk etc, sold everything in their possessions, ignored their jobs/schools - some even getting fired, and the like; yet firmly and unwaveringly believed in the prophesies and awaited the UFO coming to their rescue. At this time however, they were smug, self-confident, and refused to admit new members, or give television or newspaper interviews - salvation was reserved for them.

As usual with prophesies, the predicted hour came and went but nothing happened besides the massive dis-confirmation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disconfirmed_expectancy) that the adherents of the cult faced. The hours between midnight and around 4 am are tragic and tense. However, after their dis-confirmation, the cult suddenly became social, actively proselytizing new recruits, giving newspaper and TV interviews upholding their faith etc - contrary to what one would expect, that they hold their tails down, go back to their homes and reflect on their tremendous folly.

The explanation of the subsequent behavior comes from two forces. One, the need to reconcile their cognitive dissonance - they still believed in the prophecy, but the prophecy did not come true, and therefore, two, their seeking "social proof" by having many other people also believe like them, and thereby having the excuse of Pluralistic Ignorance (discussed below).

Now Christianity went through a few too many dis-confirmations, but two that are particularly noteworthy:

(1) The Messiah was stone cold dead: I discussed this in my previous article. There I pointed out that it must have helped to have the followers of ex-messiah John the Baptizer be part of the Jesus cult, in their ability to live through this disconfirmation. Anyhow, contrary to reason, but very much in accordance with the Festinger et. al. observations, the Jesus cult proselytized and "spread the gospel" not only to the "chosen Jews" but also to the gentiles and peoples around them, as a consequence of this disconfirmation.

(2) The failure of the second coming: This too was touched upon in my previous article. But whereas I stood a little confused by why the failed prophecy did not lead them to lock-up-and-go-home back then, the observation makes perfect sense in the light of the Festinger et. al. study. Jesus was expected to be back with Judgement and Vengeance within the lives of the followers - they expected him to take them to the right hand of the father, while the rest of the unbelieving word was condemned to the depths of eternal hell-fire. This too, like all prophesies, failed. Again, predictably, the outcome of this disconfirmation was not reflection upon their folly, but a strengthened belief with the invention of the new excuse that the gospel had to be preached to the ends of the earth before the second coming can happen. I must say, they did take a lesson from the disconfirmation, for the requirements of this new second coming can never be satisfied so that they are not stuck with a doomsday date, the passing of which they have to defend in ignominy.

Pluralistic ignorance
The second concept that Robert Cialdini introduced to me is that of "Pluralistic Ignorance" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralistic_ignorance). His book relates the story of the gruesome1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, the half hour long brutality of which was witnessed by 38 people who just stood there and watched, without intervening on behalf of the victim or calling the police. The details of the analysis of this incident were published by Rosenthal, Freedman, and Sulzberger in a book titled "Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case" (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1510710035/)

Essentially, people look around to other people for confirmation of their actions. If everybody is doing something, they must be right? Except, there are numerous instances in which this crowd mentality does not lead us down the right path - this phenomenon is called "Pluralistic Ignorance."

Sometime back when one of my friends asked, how could so many good and great people, who believe in Christianity, all be wrong, I had to essentially invent my own explanations of this phenomenon to tell him why I thought his argument was wrong - I even have this explanation in my previous article. But today, if I were asked that question, I'd merely say "Pluralistic Ignorance" and say no more.

Sadly, when lots of ostriches have their heads deep in the sand, the ones with their heads held high will find themselves alone in the crowd.

Sigmund Freud
One of the happy coincidences of reading Robert Cialdini's wonderful work was my experiencing a heightened interest in the study of Psychology. Consequently, I looked up the famous figure in psychology that I knew - Sigmund Freud - on Amazon. I have not read many of Freud's works, and the only one I could name up to that point was "The Interpretation of Dreams." To my pleasant surprise it turns out that Freud has made some very insightful contributions to the historicity analysis of Abrahamic religions in the form of a book titled "Moses and Monotheism" (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157898937X/, Internet Archives: https://archive.org/details/mosesandmonothei032233mbp)

Moses: The Egyptian
Back in my previous article, I mention the book, "The Egyptian" by Finnish author Mika Waltari, first published in 1949 (Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1556524412/). Said book was an interesting story to me, founded on history, and narrating the life of Pharaoh Akhenaten (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten) of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, who introduced the first consequential/historic monotheistic religion to the world: The worship of the universal god Atun, a god whose idols must not be made, and who was the one and only god and father - there being no other god. (Some people call Atun the Sun god, but that is a misrepresentation out of ignorance)

A digression into history: we know from archaeology & history that Akhenaten, for a short period in Egyptian history - pretty much a blink of an eye - proscribed the old religions and gods/pantheon of Egypt, and legally mandated the worship of Atun. This was widely resented in Egypt, and shortly after Akhenaten's death, his policies were reversed and Pharaoh Akhenaten's memory and his religion were made anathema and forgotten by the Egyptians. We also know that around the same time, a people group called the "Habiru" invaded / settled parts of Egypt. And shortly after Akhenaten's death was a turbulent time in Egyptian history - the previous dynasty, the eighteenth, ended; there was no Pharaoh, and there was anarchy all along, possibly civil war and such etc, until Horemheb consolidated power and established the nineteenth dynasty.

Here is how Sigmund Freud makes sense of all of this: in the bible we have the "Exposure story" of Moses. The story goes that Moses was a child of poor Jews in Egypt, who for whatever concocted biblical reasons was abandoned in the Nile, and Pharaoh's daughter picked him up and brought him up in the charge of his real mother without realizing so. Now the noteworthy thing about the "Exposure Myth" is that it is not unique to Moses in the bible - many contemporary historical and mythical figures have exposure myths about them - Gilgamesh, some of the Greek heroes, Sargon of Akkad (most contemporary and famous then) etc. In most of those cases however, the adopting parents are poor, and the birth parents are a god or a king or something. The purpose of the "Exposure Myth" is to establish divine parentage, or royal lineage for the hero. In each of these cases, the parent that the myth claims as adopting the child is in reality the birth parents of the child - humble folk. The story essentially confutes this to promote the otherwise ordinary child to divinity or royalty by concocting a myth of divine / royal birth.

So then, why would the "Exposure Myth" do the exact opposite for Moses - demote him from Egyptian royalty to Hebrew simpleton? While on the surface this seems counter-intuitive, it makes perfect sense when you realize that the Jews wanted to forget that Moses was Egyptian, and make him one of their own!

At this point, it all starts making sense.
  1. Moses was an Egyptian, an ardent follower of Akhenaten's Atun - aka, the Biblical "Adonai." (Possibly Osarseph (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osarseph) who Josephus quotes from Manetho (now lost) as leading an Egyptian revolt with of Lepers and the Hyskos and later assuming the name "Moses" - the name meaning "child of" and always previously used with a god so that, just assuming that name would translate in English to either "child of none" or more likely in Osarseph's perspcitve - Child of <name that must not be named>.)
  2. When Akhenaten died, and Egypt revolted against Atun, Mr. Moses was stuck. His choices were to give up his Adonai, or run away. And he chose to run away - with an inferior people, a bunch of gypsies - called the "Habiru" (same as "Hyksos"?) or the Hebrews. Because Moses stooped down below his level to choose a people such as the Hebrew as his "Chosen People" is why the Bible stresses so much on the Jews being the chosen people. They were not really God's chosen people; they were Moses's chosen people. Otherwise, what good reason does a universal and omnipresent god have, to choose one people group over all the rest of the people of this world who are stated to be his own children- as his chosen people? That question had puzzled me for a long time - why one people group over others? And why a rather culturally backward and ethnically hostile one at that?
  3.  Moses is said to have a speech impediment; a slur of speech - but yet it sticks out as a sore thumb in the Bible. Once you put the picture together, it makes perfect sense. Moses was an Egyptian and at least in the beginning did not know the Hebrew tongue. He needed a translator!
  4. The ten plagues of Egypt, like many things in old folk songs, are symbolic. A modern day analogy would be the "12 days of Christmas" song. The ten plagues merely is an allegorization of the anarchy and turbulent times Egypt went through concomitant with and possibly causative of the Hebrews leaving Egypt - Gypsies leave town when the economy tanks. (PS: this is my own contribution - Sigmund Freud doesn't mention this in his theory.)
  5. Many of the Biblical Psalms are strikingly similar to Akhenaten's hymns to his Adonai. In fact, one of them is almost word for word the same. 
  6. It must also be noted that the question, who was Pharaoh when Israel left Egypt, has perplexed historians for ever. If like the bible claims, the Israelites were established in Egypt before the exodus and lived interspersed with Egyptians for them to have to mark their houses against the angel or death, and for the Pharaoh's daughter to have an Israelite maid, how come nothing much is written of said people besides passing mention of "Habirus," a few statuettes etc? How come no Egyptian material cites these spectacular plagues of Egypt? And why do historical facts line up against the bible, whichever Pharaoh you try to fit on the Egyptian throne at the time of the Exodus. On the contrary, the narratives in the bible line up spectacularly when considered according to Freud's explanation with Akhenaten on the Egyptian throne before the exodus, and anarchy causing the exodus.
Another striking thing to note is Freud's explanation of the lack of after-life in original Judaism. For Akhenaten, everything pertaining to Egyptian gods was anathema. And the greatest of all Egyptian gods was their god of the underworld - hence the focus on embalming and mummification etc. So natually, Akhenaten, and therefore his god Adonai, vehemently detested the god of the underworld, the underworld, the burial practices, and anything related to after-life. The idea was anathema to Akhenaten and so to his Adonai.

(Note: Another interesting source on the above, that I haven't found fully credible, but yet has some interesting points: http://www.ancient.eu/Moses/)
If Adonai was the god, who is YHWH?
The earliest historical mention of the god YHWH is not actually from Israel, nor does it have to do anything with Israel. Rather, these earliest known references to YHWH (there are two) are in Egyptian texts, referring to 'Yahu in the land of the Shasu people' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shasu#Shasu_of_Yhw) - the Shasu being a semi-nomadic Medianite tribe, enemies of Israel. It is also noteworthy that Jehova (not just in the English rendering, but also in the original renderings) corresponds so much with Jove/Iove (or Jupiter) the Roman god of the sky which is the same as Zeus (Djeus) the Greek god of the sky (in all cases, not only do transliterated spellings come close, but the original names are even more strikingly similar).

A noteworthy Bible verse here is Exodus 6:3
And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. (KJV)
Sigmund Freud mentions Eduard Meyer's book "Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstämme" (https://archive.org/details/dieisraelitenun00luthgoog) in his book, and gives Meyer and others credit when saying "They concur that the Jewish tribes, who later on become the people of Israel, at a certain time accepted a new religion." Sadly, Meyer's work is in German, and has not been translated to English so that I am unable to review the work, and examine the evidence on which this statement is made. Yet, we know that the bible cites incidents of the Israelites lusting after other gods such as Baalim; so that it is not beyond the nature of those nomads to follow after YHWH either. Also it is curious that Moses had them build a serpent on a pole to save them from the calamity they faced - even when their Adonai strongly censured idols of any nature, so that one has to understand that Moses became a legend and things that did not happen in his time were attributed to him, and it is highly likely indeed that the Jews mixed the religion of their neighbors with their own. 

Also, the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness is figurative. It likely comes from needing to bridge the lineage from Moses to Joshua, the interim having been forgotten for being uneventful, boring and medieval. 40 years gives long enough a time for one man to grow old and die, and for the next to become leader - two generations. It is likely their wandering was much more, and Moses and Joshua were much more temporaly separated than as stated by the Bible. Therefore it is possible, the second Moses that Sigmund Freud theorizes in his work is indeed Joshua, and he was possibly the leader when Jehova was adopted as god and Adonai put aside. This also means, it is quite possible the Israelites roamed farther and wider than previously thought, and reconciles our difficulty with precisely locating Mt. Sinai. Anyhow, YHWH of the Shasu had possibly assumed the nature of a volcanic god rather than merely the god of the sky, and Mt. Sinai likely was an active volcano - hence the presence of god as a pillar cloud / pillar of fire, and hence the constant fire burning atop the mountain. 

I do not know what to make of Sigmund Freud's theory that Moses was murdered by the Israelites, in their anger at some point - and hence the need for blood to cleanse the sin. It is possible, but there is no evidence presented either to corroborate or to disprove. The psychological line of reasoning does agree however. And I have always wondered, why the heck is it that the "all knowing, all powerful, and eternal god who is love" could not find any better way than gruesomely killing a man on a pole as the way to absolve sins - I must confess Sigmund Freud's theory is the only one I have seen which gives at least a plausible explanation. 

Also, I have often wondered why there was a proscription among the Jews against uttering the name of the god. It now makes sense, because at some point, the followers of Adonai and the followers of YHWH could have been at each others throats, and such a proscription was part of establishing peace between the factions?

Anyhow, bottom line, how do you guys who are Christians / Jewish / Muslim feel about worshiping Jupiter/Zeus, because that's essentially what you are doing!
Update 05/28/2017: This article - http://www.newenglishreview.org/Robert_Wolfe/From_Habiru_to_Hebrews%3A_The_Roots_of_the_Jewish_Tradition/ - gives some insights relevant in the context of the above paragraph. The section on Shechem is particularly noteworthy. Around the 14th/13th centuries BC, an exodus of Habirus from Egypt arrived at the outskirts of Shechem (Israel) and subsequently integrated with the Habiru already afflicting Canan. The transference of gods, the adoption of the patriarchs etc must have happened during this integration - as the author too independently asserts based on such evidence as Merneptah Steele etc. The Shasu tribe of YHWH, according to Wikipedia, were also located at the same precise spot of the Jezreel Valley. However, he becomes defensive in the name of YHWH - yet many noteworthy points surface, the "Elohim" cult vs. the "YHWH" cult, the Greek rendition of "Iao" which is rather close to "Iove" etc. His summarisation - he Jewish religion is founded on the worship of a god called "gods" whose real name is said to be "I will be" - is also noteworthy. And the article is an interesting read from a perspective of why Judaism is probably cardinal in abolishing Slavery in the world.

The "Patriarchs" Problem
Another interesting problem that Sigmund Freud points out in his book (or at least his book is where I first noticed it) is that of the Patriarchs. Moses lived in the Bronze age. Hence if the patriarchs had to precede Moses as the bible goes, then they had to also at least be Bronze age characters. Yet, scholarly opinion today is that the patriarch stories confirm with an Iron age setting. This suddenly presents a big problem - Abraham came after Moses!

The two references Freud cites are: (I have not read these)

There is also another interesting facet to this same problem. Abraham's son Ishmael is said to be the father of Muslims. So then, how exactly did Moses, who Biblicaly (and as far as I know, according to the Quran as well) came much later, become the prophet of the Muslim's as well. 

The explanation expounded by Sigmund Freud has some merit in this. Moses created the Jewish people and endowed them with his god Adonai. However, when the Jewish people put aside Adonai and took up YHWH, it was as part of integrating with another tribe - possibly the Shasu. And so, in that process they also took up the legends of the other tribe, where-from came the legend of Abraham etc, which was further magnified and transposed to antecedent times to predate Moses. This does put us at a contradiction with the verse Exodus 6:3 mentioned above, since that says Abraham et al did not know Jehova by that name. However, it can easily be reconciled because such a statement would have been made by the storyteller when antedating the story to predate Moses.

Circumcision = Symbolic castration
I have always wondered what is the whole point of Circumcision. The Jewish people allude to themselves a certain superiority for being circumcised. And even among my Christian friends in America, there are some who in this day and age still circumcise their male children. But what for?

Some people claim it's cleaner. But studies have been done to validate this claim, and the results have rather clearly concluded that there is no such benefit. So who conceived the idea of Circumcision, and what the heck for - like why would you sit on a rock one fine day and think, let me just cut off the tip of my weiner?

But Sigmund Freud makes this patently clear. In fact, when you read and realize what it stands for, it feel like a blow - like why didn't I think of this before?

Circumcision is an Egyptian practice (not Jewish) dating back to prehistory. Back then there were harems and the stronger man fiercely guarded his female chattel, and the punishment for the weaker man who wished to steal sex with "his property" was castration. In fact, eunuchs were a rather common thing until rather recent history; and modern translators try to avoid and hand-wave over this rather garish practice by deliberately mistranslating the word eunuch to mean just an "officer," whereas there is one and only one meaning to this word - a castrated male slave.

So, essentially the Jews are reveling in their semi-eunuch status. And I have to ask my Christian friends contemplating circumcision for their children: would you feel proud to castrate your male progeny? If not, why do so symbolically?

It is noteworthy that Circumcision has been handed down in history from the Egyptians not only to the Jews but to other African peoples, and sadly one particular manifestation of it is extremely garish and cruel - that of Female Genital Mutilation or Female Genital Cutting. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_mutilation) I first came across this practice through this rather powerful story first published in the readers digest and which I happened to read at least a decade ago: (warning: It is inhuman and gruesome) http://www.fgmnetwork.org/articles/Waris.html

And so in summary on the topic of Circumcision, no "universal god that is love" can potentially ask a human being "made in his image" to undergo such a practice. Leave alone such an ask - a loving god will ferociously condemn such a practice. So, if such is the nature of your god, then fuck that god!

Summary
The summary of this article is essentially simple. Jehovah is no true god, but merely a child of human creation - one with Jupiter of the Romans and Zeus of the Greeks. He wasn't even the original Jewish god - that was Adonai which got kicked aside. So if the father is a product of human delusions, so much for the story of the son and of the holy spirit. Gives more substantiating evidence to what I already discussed in the first article.

Man created god - in his mind; and god exists only in the mind of the irrational man. And when his god does not manifest, the irrational man's faith actually grows stronger - perpetrating the vice of religion! For those who are rational enough to eschew such impotent gods and know that the randomness of the universe needs no god, and accepts no god, the universe is an "Amazing place" (but without all that kool-aid called "grace" - https://www.theatheistbook.com/products/a-better-life-an-exploration-of-joy-meaning-in-a-world-without-god)

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Turning Atheist

For a long time I've gone back and forth between being a Christian and being an agnostic. I was born and brought up in an Orthodox Christian family on the southwestern shores of India. I have had my skepticism on many aspects of Christianity. For example, just how exactly does somebody dying on a cross wipe away sins of everyone? Or if there is a heaven or an after life, just exactly where would this be stashed away?

Yet for the longest time I strongly believed that the Atheists are wrong. I believed there is a god; perhaps the Christians only got a partially accurate version of this god, but it was better than any other. And the driver for the quest of life was to understand that god better; to be seen right in his eyes.

However, in July of 2016, all of that changed. I became completely convinced, beyond even a shred of doubt, that there is no god - that god itself is a child of desperation of the human mind, that wants to cling to the supernatural redemption as succor for his abysmal state of being.

The unattributed joke:
Man and god walk into a bar; each looks at the other and go "My Creator!"
has immense depth and humor in it.


Sources:

So what are the sources, the writings and thoughts of other people, the giants whose shoulders I stood upon, to come to this conclusion?

The bible

Well, the very first was the bible itself. But unlike the Christians "who gouge their own eyes out to give them cause for a quest for light," I decided to use a historically annotated bible. When we read Herodotus or any of historically significant works, we use heavily annotated versions because what is written assumes the contextual knowledge of contemporary space and time; and to interpret it without that contextual knowledge would be foolhardy.

I found this "Historical Study Bible" KJV version on Amazon (They also have an NIV version).
https://www.amazon.com/KJV-Archaeological-Study-Bible-Hardcover/dp/0310942616/
Remember, back when I bought it, I was still a devout Christian wanting to read the bible in depth cover to cover and with the full context in light so I could better understand my god. Hence the irony that the Bible disproved Christianity to me.

Edward Gibbon

I have always enjoyed reading. And recently I've started taking an interest in reading history. It is ironic that high-school textbooks made me vehemently hate history in comparison. There is something to be said about presentation; I've enjoyed reading works like Herodotus' Histories, Kerry Trask's History of the Blackhawk War, James Ford Rhodes' History of the Civil war, even Mara L Pratt's American History Stories. Many of the authors that I admire and esteem look upon Edward Gibbon's "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" as a must read classic that has few parallels and which has inspired them in their own literary genius. And so it was only natural that I wanted to read this work.

I picked up a copy from Barnes & Nobles first, but found out that it was an abridged version despite being almost a thousand pages. Thereafter I found that Everyman's Library, a publishing label that I prize because of their beautifully delectable hardbound volumes, puts out a 6 volume unabridged version of Edward Gibbon's work as two box sets.
https://www.amazon.com/Decline-Roman-Empire-Everymans-Library/dp/0307700763/

I bought that and started reading through the work. I have so far finished the first two volumes, given I intersperse this with other reading. However, I have already covered the (in)famous fifteenth (last chapter in vol 1) and sixteenth (first chapter in vol 2) chapters that are a systematic and scathing criticism of Christianity.

R Joseph Hoffmann

Edward Gibbon introduced me to some ancient writings - those of Celsus, Porphyry and Julian. These three were the most eminent figures that produced caustic polemic against the Christians. Naturally, in the fourth century when Christianity came into power (of course through the most unchristian and disgusting machinations), the detestable politicians titled Bishops of the Church enforced incineration of all extant copies of their works, as well as other writings that in their words were "heretical" because they either exposed the folly of Christianity or did not jibe well with their denominational overtones. It was so bad that many eminent contemporary personages, fearing that some work in their extensive libraries might be construed heretical, chose to completely burn down or otherwise destroy their libraries rather than risk the senseless punishments of the rapacious Christian overlords. Consequently there are no extant copies of these works.

However, Dr R Joseph Hoffmann (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Joseph_Hoffmann) as part of the "Jesus Project" and otherwise, has done an extensive job of collecting all available quotations of the trio in various Christian apologetic works to compile collections of what is left today of their writings.

Hoffmann's compilations are again available through Amazon:
I will admit I have only so far read the work of Celsus. I have procured the other two but have not read through them yet.

Dr. Hoffmann has also collected an insightful work titled "Jesus outside the Gospels," attempting to ascertain what we can know and find out about the historical Jesus as opposed to the hyperbolic Jesus of the bible. It is a particularly interesting read, and opens ones eyes to some non-canonical early Christian sources and what they make of this man Jesus.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0879753870/

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russel, as I understand it, gave a very famous speech titled "Why I am not a Christian." It was also subsequently published as a pamphlet in 1927.
https://users.drew.edu/jlenz/whynot.html
It is a tremendously instructive read. One can essentially say Bertrand Russell is to the Atheist what C.S. Lewis is to the Christian.

Particle Physics

The moment you bring science into an argument about Christianity, many Christians often harangue that Einstein himself believed in god. I find this rather childish and foolhardy. Aristotle, Columbus etc can be credited with the discovery that the earth is not flat, depending on how exacting you are for proof. And yet they in their respective days quite likely believed that the earth was the center of the universe. Each man can only do so much. That one contradicted or disproved one of his contemporary follies while espousing yet another does not make the latter any less a folly.
Update 10/29/2017: I did not know this back when I wrote the above, but reading Richar Dawkin's famous work, "The God Delusion," I came to learn that Einstein was so tired of being bandied about by the Christians as a pillar to stand on, that he actually wrote a paper titled "Why I do not believe in a personal god!" So much for the Christian tendency to misrepresent facts.

In the recent day, the discovery has already been made that physical particles - those building blocks of atoms and molecules and eventually our very own beings - can spontaneously come into and go out of existence in the universe. Yes, there are many unanswered questions still; but what we already know significantly rules out the possibility of a first cause. Historically, when science advances, the necessity for god decreases, and Occam's Razor shaves the god down the drainpipe.

I was introduced to all of this by Lawrence M Krauss's appropriately titled book "A Universe from Nothing: Why there is something rather than nothing"
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1451624468/

Other influences

Early on in my childhood, one of my Sunday School teachers - Dr. Binny Paul, who was the district inspector for Sunday school for Ernakulam district of Kerala - introduced me to the fact that most of the bible and early writings of Christianity are heavily embellished subsequent narratives, and not historical descriptions of events as they transpired. Mesopotamian civilization, the Babylonians, the Jews etc were masters of embellishment back in the day. Some of these can be observed within the bible in the creeping of and even butchering of ideas from chronologically antecedent material when subsequent material were written. Especially noteworthy is the whole Mark 16:9-20, the ending of the Gospel of Mark, which is by now established as tacked on subsequently and the credibility of which is unanimously suspect.

Another heavy influence was Mika Waltari's "The Egyptian," an outstanding literary classic which I am surprised (and can only explain through the Christian censoriousness) why it has not made top charts for literature. The book is tremendous in its philosophical ponderings.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002AXLAUO/

Why Dostoevsky threw away the natural flow and ending of his book and construed an apologetic to Christianity in "Crime and Punishment" is a mystery to me, but observations of human nature would make Raskolnikov's point in his experiment patently plain to anyone. That was another influence.

Human sexuality and the artificiality of monogamy has always interested me. Many historical societies, including the Romans, the native Americans, Keralites, etc have had what I would consider far superior matrimonial systems which ensured a superior status for women in society. In fact, today I believe the three Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - are the worst offenders from the perspective of base treatment of women in society. Sources that have led me to these ideas include a vast variety; from the works of Herodotus, Aan De Kust Van Malabar (On the coast of Malabar), readings on the state of women in Iraq before and after 1979, women leadership of the church antecedent to the fourth century - the memory of which has essentially been obliterated, and a contrast of the Husa and Igbo of Nigeria that I came across when reading Chimmamanda Ngozi Adichie's work.

PS to all those of my American friends upholding the "constitutional right" of the Muslim woman to wear the Burka/Hijab. You are unwittingly (or maybe knowingly) upholding one of the most pervasive instruments of subordination of women. It's like in "The Matrix": Until they are unplugged from the system, they don't even realize the follies they are perpetrating. That one slave wishes to remain in slavery because he loves his master does not anymore justify allowing slavery, than a woman's religion justifying allowing her base treatment. And while I myself, in tune with the quotation attributed to Voltaire - "I despise what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it," will not support acts of violence against people that fall prey to this folly, I must point out the supreme irony of liberty in that she must guarantee unto others even the liberty to shackle herself up.


A critique of Religion in general:

An interesting question one must answer when critiquing religion is why it exists and how it came to be.

Fear and Wonderment

As an animal, man must always have been afraid of many things in the world around him. There were predators larger than he, and powerful natural phenomena that could upset his life. There were also things that were visible blessings in his own life that came from nature.

Those that he was afraid of seems to have tended to be associated gods or the wrath of gods. For example: thunder or lightning. Likewise it is conceivable that fire, as well as many predators were regarded divine by early man. Similarly also the blessings in his own life, such as the Sun, water, cows etc were revered at some point in time.

The former, as the science behind them became apparent, or the fear of them were tamed by the superiority of man through weaponry, no longer could hold tenable positions as deity for man. For instance, once man learned to tame the fire, it could no longer stand as a source of mystery and hence could no longer be a god to man thus enlightened.

On the latter - the blessings - it was never conceivable as a cause of respect or fear anyway. Hence, over time, these became manifestations or blessings of some humaniform deity behind them. It is noteworthy also that these deities almost always eventually resolved themselves to something humaniform, for man cannot conceive any other form that held the potential to be intellectually superior to himself; furthering evidence in favor of the creation of god by man rather than vice versa. Yes, he may give that form four heads, three eyes on each and a thousand hands, or pretend superiority and insist on the purest of humaniform, but it is still essentially always human. And most certainly, it thinks and converses like a human for there is no value in a god that only barks or moos.

Unfortunately, scientific explanations take a long time in their coming, and not everyone gets it at the outset. So before fire was tamed and explained and lost its fear, there was a long time during which man had become used to revering fire and worshiping it and even praying to it. Suddenly when the mystery of fire goes away, that leaves a void - an empty space in his heart - which, like the parable in the bible of the woman who pushed out an evil spirit only to have seven come back and occupy, the inveterate man must fill by a humaniform, mysterious god of fire; whose blessing or manifestation is fire so that the worship of fire continues to be justified, yet given the entirety of existence of this humaniform deity lies in the imaginations of the believer, it is "untouchable" to science merely because science is not allowed to repudiate or explain what is already deemed otherworldly by definition/diktat.

Political and financial gain

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
- Seneca

As civilization progressed, there was power in religion. No force or cunning was required to bend the people to the 'will of god,' for their parents and society had seen to it in their childhood. Hence if the 'will of god' could be reconciled to the will of the party soliciting power, the sheep would naturally follow from generations of self imposed subordination.

I have read somewhere - perhaps by Dostoevsky? - that while many notions and conceptions of man can be corrected by giving him sufficient proof or explanation, attempting to fix that which is learned at the mother's knee is akin to unbending a dog's tail. The belief in god is like this. And this explains the many 'holy wars,' where even while the god itself may be perceived as one that apparently detests bloodshed, by convincing the people that it is in the interest of their god to do away with the infidels, many holy wars have been and continue to be fought, and entire people-groups exterminated for the pleasure of the deity.

The office of the papacy is the prime example. If that pope, never mind that he will never challenge the god, but if he at least ate his own dog food and stayed true to the biblical Jesus, one would think he would dismantle that den of thieves and abdicate pretensions to divinity and overlordship. However, history is too rife with these examples, and if it weren't so grim it would have been humorous. The Pharaoh reconciles the office of god to the office of the regent in Egyptian civilizations for another quick example and even "resurrects" occasionally to come visit his people; never mind that the resurrection happens only in the minds of the people.

Remunerative Justice

Many people think that mankind is essentially sinful, and only a fear of god and the existence of a religious order can dispel this inherent sinfulness and establish a civil society. Yet, over time I have come to question the very essence of this belief. If you take existing religions, none of them serve a testament of a faultless religion, excepting of course the spiritual ones such as Buddhism and Zoroastrianism which essentially are closer to an agnostic viewpoint than a deistic viewpoint. Likewise, many men who are established patrons of atheism are better patrons of civility than the stringently religious. From these observations, I have come to believe there is such a thing as an essential moral compass of a human being. He naturally wants to adhere to it, and if not confounded in his attempts to adhere, or forced into a habit of disregarding this moral compass, he essentially will remain a good man (yes, I realize this is a completely contrarian doctrine to the Christian sinfulness).

Update 10/29/2017: I found the work only late, but Richard Dawkins's "God Delusion" has tons to expostulate on this front.

Of course culture is an immense determinant in the orientations of this moral compass. What is north differs from the white European to the indigenous Sandwich islander to the American Indian to the East Indian. Perspectives on sexuality is an excellent elucidative example of such differences. And considering culture is that which is learned at the mother's knee, it may be observed that more than any fear of god, it is the example of the society in which a child grows up that determines the orientations as well as stability of his moral compass.

That however begs the question, why be good, when being bad can make you prosper? - the essence of the Raskolnikovian dilemma.

It may have started as good expedient to keep children in check by relating a faerie tale of riches and abundance that await them in a netherworld of the good, or the eternal fire and discomfort that awaits those that are evil in their ways. And as far as proof by repetition goes, there is nary a better buyer than the pliable child. Thus we grow up to believe in a netherworld that is in many ways the corner stone of most religious order. Speculative deferment of remuneration works with human beings. He will bear much oppressive taxation and vexation from a rich master without protest, believing abjectly in a last laugh that he can have at the master from their respective nether-worlds.

Yet, the words of Bertrand Russell are particularly incisive. We know of only this world, and it is full of injustice. So at least from the example of what we know, if there is another world, it is less likely to be a perfect heaven or a perfect hell and more likely to be just so as our own world; a mix of these. It is especially noteworthy that many of the christian parables of both Heaven and Hell end up evoking descriptions of a world with varying gradations of holy men and a world with varying gradations of sinners, and aside from an eternal fire in one and the presence of a devil, and an eternal festivity in the other and the presence of the deity, there is little that distinguishes one from the other.

Update 10/29/2017: Additionally, many Christians bring out the "Pascal's Wager" when confronted with the above - either in it's formal fullness, or maybe ignorant of the titular personage, but the same argument in paraphrase. I have a few thoughts on this. The first is borrowed from Richard Dawkin's - "And what if that god turns out to be Baalim?" A second is a further development of Russel's ideas: what is eternal joy, and what is eternal damnation? Joy is not joy, unless it is contrasted with sorrow. If you were "happy" all the time, that would no longer be happiness to you. So can a continuous singing of praises to the lord be joy? And there is happiness even in the midst of the lives of those people who live in the most abject misery - so that even in hell-fire, there will be moments of happiness. Also, hell fire is scary, because it can kill you; but if you are already dead, why exactly is it scary again? In other words, heaven and hell are inherently impossible in their contemporarily accepted manifestations. And a final third is the clincher: let's take all the great people in history that most people admire (I'll keep this list to only those I know - and Jesus is noteworthily not on this list; I think of him less than the people mentioned :D ): Herodotus, Shakespeare, Edward Gibbon, Newton, Einstein, Isaac Asimov, etc - there is more, but I don't want to make it a laundry list.  These people were all atheists / disbelievers in essence. So if the Christian dogma is true, these people are all in hell. So if there is an eternity (Pascal's Wager), do I want to spend it in the company of these great people, or removed from the company of them?

Sexual wants and cravings

Warning: If you are an inveterate christian, it is eminently possible that you will find this section revolting. I know first hand from my past life as a Christian - read at your own risk.

This subject falls within the title above of political and financial gain, because essentially women is a commodity right? something to be owned and proprietored over, paraded as arm caddy in public appearances, and disposed off at one's convenience as one becomes bored of it? Just like slaves of back in the day? (I don't believe that one bit, but popular history and myself are generally at odds in my choice of beliefs - sadly.)

Man has always desired women, plural, but he has also always - or generally always - wanted exclusivity over the multitude of women he "owned" (or the single one when resistance or penury limits the number he can own). David DeAngelo, a dating guru / pick up artist, puts it best in his work "Double your Dating" - how man has subverted religion into establishing polygamy and guarding his harems - but I'd recommend you read it yourself lest I spoil his punch through paraphrasing. Sometimes the irony is also that it is indeed those women, who have themselves submitted to the yoke of some man, who become enforcers censuring others of their kind from enjoying their equal liberty. Equality is only equal if it can be equally exercised - that sounds so simple yet is incomprehensibly complex.

The exceptions to the above are always advanced civilizations - Rome, where a women (or a man) could bathe naked in the public pools, or some of the ruling classes of Kerala where historically the woman was the heir, she essentially slept around at her will to make herself children - the children being her own and the father having no rights, and where she may at her pleasure provide for the keep of select men for her sexual satisfaction (see Duarte Barbosa: A description of the coasts of East Africa and Malabar, circa 1500), or the regression of Turkey where in the 1970s a women could go to the beach in a bikini, but today she will have her lips cut off if she wears lipstick, or Wisconsin where the nude beach at Mazomanie was closed because the Christian finds no scruples in taking away the freedom of another to do that which he pleases and which does not disturb others in any way.

But in every advanced civilization, while women have more rights than religious fiefdoms, the man languishes in peace - and a barbarian conqueror comes along, the Christian zealots of Gaul / Britannia, or the Moslem zealots making their way into Europe today - who raises to ground the advances of civilization, and with it whatever measures of equality that has so far been attained. (Of course, not all conquerors are religious fanatics - for example, all were equal before the Moghuls; in the equality of wretchedness - before the Moghuls endorsed first Christianity, and thereafter Islam).

I digress a lot above, but the less advanced a society, the stronger superstition is, and so also the baser the desires of man. And the stronger the man is, the weaker the women. And naturally, the base nature of man allows him to use whatever means available at hand, including religion for the purpose of subordination of his chattel to himself. The blaming of Eve, the denunciation of divorce, the explicit command to the wife to submit herself to her husband (leave alone that it is the modern censorship that has carefully elided the polygamous references from the originals), etc of the Christians, or the burka and the laws of the Moslem are only some shining examples of these. Religion and the fear of god were far superior in their effectiveness than chastity belts. Compare that with the peak of Rome where the people celebrated the Bacchanalia, or the Babylonian practice described by Herodotus where when a woman comes of age, she goes to the temple and gives herself to the highest bidder. It is great for genetic diversity, and therefore for the perpetuation of the specious, but sadly Christian values will make you revolt the practice. It is dangerous to the station of a man when a woman realizes that she can choose to leave if the man she is with abuses her - that sex is not sacrosanct, and having had more than one lover does not condemn her to a life of eternal damnation. Such knowledge can only be allowed to exist in advanced civilizations - and most naturally, gods, or at least those not inclined to a degree of frivolousness,  have no place in such.


A critique of Christianity:

I have always wondered why Yahweh, if he is the god of the universe, only cared about the Jewish people. Entire civilizations existed before: for example the Indus valley civilization dates between 3300 - 1300 BC, the Mesopotamian civilization existed 4000 BC, early dynasties of Egypt date 3000 - 2600 BC and even the bible cite them as a mature civilization along with the Babylonians. Or take the Chinese civilization, which barely is known to the Jews, even though a contemporaneous civilization. So how exactly is it that the god of the entirety of the universe, the father of the Egyptian and the Chinese and the Dravidian and the Sandwich Islander, deigned to make himself known to or be bothered by only a squalid non-social nomadic people group that dwelt in what might very well be considered the dust bowl of the middle east?

The above situation did not really strike true to me. It is definitely impossible that the all knowing god that is love cannot be bothered by any other people but the Jewish folk. Either he is not the all knowing god that is love, or he must have cared about and manifest himself to all other peoples of the world as much as to the Jew.

For a while, I believed in the latter, and therefore considered myself agnostic. I believed that the various deities that the various peoples of the world worshiped were indeed variegated manifestations of the same one true god of the universe. The god can only reveal to the human, that which he is ready to accept, and so to each people group the lord revealed those bits about himself as they were ready to believe. Hence the Jew had a varying perception of the god than the Hindu. At the bottom of these various perceptions, there was some unity and some disunity. Those bits that held true across various religions, I believed indeed attested to the true nature of god; whereas the disunity had its roots in human embellishments and emendations.

Now this is a pretty strong "local minima" to fall into. It is a highly tenable position; it reconciles what you learned at your mother's knee with what others learned at their respective mothers' knees; it allows for a benevolent and loving god, all the faults of which can be erased away as faulty interpretations by fallible human beings; and most importantly you believe that god himself gave you this revelation because you are genuinely seeking after this god (heightens your sense of feeling special doesn't it?), there is no good reason for this god to feed you a bunch of lies, and this set of ideas makes sense and is perfectly palatable with your understanding of god (translated: what you demand your god be).

And when you believe such, you're not really against any particular religion. Rather you believe that in their own way, they each lead to god. So for me that meant, since I was born into a Christian family, and grew up a Christian, I might as well choose to follow the Christian path correcting it where due to the follies of man, it has deviated from the divine. It is with this intention that I bought the study bible to garner a better understanding of what is in it and what constitutes the belief systems of the Christian, so that I may separate the grain from the chaff.

So why then did I abandon this view and what led me to endorse Atheism?

Afterlife

Like mentioned above, the idea of an afterlife, and this life being a quest to assuring eternal joy in the afterlife, is a cornerstone of many modern day religions. The bible beats the dead horse to pulp on this front, especially in the visions (or hallucinations if you may) of John in revelations. It is so central to Jesusian Christianity - the death of Jesus on the cross followed by his descent into the nether-world to salvage the souls of the long dead before his resurrection that defeated death itself etc - you know the lore.

The study bible made it clear to me however that the original Judaism - the religion of Moses and the like - did not have a concept of an afterlife in it. You were dead, and you slept with your fathers and that was it. There was no soul that continued upon in paradise or purgatory. This was so even up to the times of the Judges - and it was potentially somewhere in this period that the idea of Sheol was borrowed from possibly the Egyptians or Assyrians or Babylonians. In essence it is a pagan idea that has as its source, not the Yahweh of the Jew, but rather the gentile neighbors that Yahweh supposedly detested.

The import of this realization is rather astounding. For one, what was John smoking? And if the Revelations are a product of his being high, that rips apart as untenable the supposed infallibility of the bible, for out goes the window a much revered book that is cause of significant speculation. It also plucks at the veracity of the Jesus narrative because, where the heck did the dead man descend to then?

(It is also noteworthy that Jesus himself nor the disciples had no such concrete notions about the "Kingdom of God" as we do today. The "Kingdom" nature of it is attributed to the period of the KJV translations sometime around 1600.)

Flood narratives

The next in the line of controversial things in the bible is the flood narrative of Noah. It looks like a splendid narrative of divine retribution, as well as forgiveness to the believer. Our hero Noah builds an Ark and saves humanity and the entirety of life upon the planet. And some Creationists go so far as to theorize that the Dinosaurs became extinct because they did not make it to the ark.

But anyone who is a scholar knows about the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the plethora of flood narratives that permeated the period. In fact, the flood narrative of the Bible is contemporaneously clichéd and stolen from gentile sources. If that in itself was not deplorable, then that the bible attempts to pass it off as original is even more so. And since proof by repetition was not persuasive enough, that methodology was enhanced with proof by embellishment with corroborative contemporary factoids as an expedient.

It reflects poorly on how much Christians will suspend disbelief when one realizes that there is a Texan creationist building a "life sized" replica of the Nohean ark. One would think at least he would do his baseline research to find out that if such an ark ever existed, it must have been circular and not rectangular.

Also as a side note, where exactly did the grandsons of Noah take wives from? Or were they inbred? With their mother and sisters? And for that matter, where exactly did the sons of Adam take wives from?

David & Solomon

The next in the line of questionables is the Israelite kings David and Solomon. How exactly does one reconcile that the revered kings of Israel kill a man to take his wife, or push a whole bunch of prisoners down a cliff in an act of deliberate mass homicide? 2 Chronicles 25:12 would compare these to a modern day Hitler. Is that what the Jews had as the blessed king of the lord Yahweh? Eww.

Also noteworthy is that while Yahweh promises the land of Israel to the Israelites, the promise is never really fulfilled (If you look closely, no promise is ever really fulfilled in the bible; instead they're relegated to fulfillment at an eternity that is eternally just around the corner). The Israelites fail at the task of expelling the people that lived there in totality, and the bible sort of glosses over this incapacity of the lord to keep his promise. Of course a Christian would argue you to death that it was because of Israel's sin; but frankly it's quite patent in the bible - the lord promised, but it never came to pass. This one didn't take a study bible to see it.

Now it all would make sense when you take into account the fact that the aforementioned god does not exist.

Virgin Birth

Skipping forward to the time of Jesus, for frankly there is nothing much noteworthy in the old testament - it's a disconnected bunch of books of a deranged and disillusioned people: we come to the Virgin birth of Jesus.

We are told at our mother's knees that Jesus was born out of the miraculous work of the Holy Ghost in Mary's womb. And we buy it. A self respecting person would however have asked 'who did she sleep with' rather, if he were told this as a grown adult. Says something to the effectiveness of indoctrination at infancy.

Anyhow, wise men did ask that question. It turns out, written Jewish material refer to Yesua ben Panthera and Yesua ben Stada - the former meaning son of Panthera, a Roman soldier, and the latter son of the adulteress. Celsus, and most in the contemporary educated circles ask the same question, which is more like of us to believe - that he was the bastard of Panthera or the son of a Virgin through divine conception. It is noteworthy also that the father is explicitly identified.

Now, of course, it doesn't behoove of the professed savior to be not only not of the Davidic line, but also a bastard seed of a Roman soldier, which might explain the elaborate attempts to impose a virgin birth and divine equivalence on the man Jesus - the culmination of which actually did not happen until the Synods of the 4th century with the imperial endorsements of Constantine and rapacious destruction both of lives and evidence of dissenting perspective. Noteworthy also is the discrepancy of patrilineal vs matrilineal ancestry outlined in the two gospels - the patrilineal particularly being pointless, and the discrepancy of the birth narrative, one having the whole scene of the manger, whereas the other being tacit and making it sound like a birth at home, and a third narrative from a Gnostic gospel that even brings in a midwife and throws in a miracle as well at the birth. The embellishment with the passage of time being patent to all but the 'believer'.

Plethora of sources (not)

Another interesting fact that is worth inquiring into is how many extra-biblical references are there of this Jesus in recorded history. It is usually the case that we as kids are taught in Sunday school that the Romans were a people heavily invested in record keeping, and there are a plethora of extra-biblical references about Jesus. I was no exception. Especially given the census that was called, and the heavily contested crucifixion as the bible would have us believe, it would be natural for one to expect that there were many contemporaneous extra-biblical accounts of the Jesus of Nazareth, his miracles - especially the raising of the dead, his crucifixion and resurrection, his teachings etc.

Yet it turns out, extra-biblical references to Jesus are almost non-existent. Here is one tally. This source, while it is just another website on the internet, is (1) from someone who leans Christian (2) is among the very first search results on the topic on google - so that it's what anyone who asks this question sees and (3) corroborates with the written sources I have seen both in the Study Bible, and in the works of Dr. Hoffmann.
http://www.rationalchristianity.net/jesus_extrabib.html
Further noteworthy is that only Josephus may really be considered a contemporary of Jesus - and that too is a stretch. Josephus wrote a massive tome ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0785250506/ ), 1000+ pages in two column format with bible size print, on the history of the Jews for the edification of the Romans, and in all of that, there are three references to Jesus. (I own a copy of this, and while I have not read it cover to cover, I have examined said references) The totality of the references do not tally up to an entire page, and the authenticity of the references are widely contested - they being not conformant to the style of Josephus in the rest of the work, and is generally believed by scholars to be additions by subsequent copywriters invested in Jesus propagation.

That is it. That is the entirety of all we know about this miraculously wonderful man, this son of god, outside of the gospels / christian works, which on their own were written at least 20 and probably over 40 years after the death of this Jesus. How is it that nobody ever heard of this man, or found him of any consequence. Could it just be that the tales of his deeds are heavily inflated?

And if the tales are inflated, what motive would the authors have for such an inflation? This question is extensively answered by Dr. Hoffmann.

Crucifixion

The Christian narrative is that Jesus, the son of god, died on the cross to wash away the sins of all the people of the world. It is said to be some sort of a repayment of a debt by Jesus on behalf of everyone in the world. I have always found myself wondering, how exactly does that work? How exactly does it take away the sins of people? So far, I have never found a convincing answer.

The Jewish people were heavily invested in the idea of sacrifices back then, as the bible itself shows. You name it, and the priests had some kind of a sacrifice/offering for that purpose - pigeons, lambs, heifers. First off, the idea of sacrifices is not a novelty of Judaism. Anyone who has read Homer knows the Greeks did the same. Even the bible itself alludes to sacrificial practices of the civilizations around the Jews. The Egyptians, and the Babylonians had their respective practices. So first off, it is most likely a conception of man or at least an idea borrowed from Gentile sources. Next, the blood of the unblemished lamb is the sin offering of the Jews - hence the notion of the "unblemished" Jesus dying on the cross to pay for the sins of the people. And therein lies my problem with it. Are you telling me that this god of the universe Yahweh conforms with the ideas created by man around sacrifices and sends his son to be killed by the Jews to save those very Jews? And if this son of god is eternal and hence cannot exactly die, how is it that he can die to pay for these sins? And worst yet, are we saying this god of the universe who controls and determines everything could not conceive of a better way than killing someone on a cross to reconcile his beloved children to him? I smell BS.


And so it continues to remain a mystery to me, how exactly does Jesus's death on the cross remove sin from the world? In the first place, the sins of the world itself is an arbitrary concept lacking clarity of definition. Besides, near two thousand years have passed, a large portion of the world was baptized into Christianity, coercively or otherwise, and yet the order of the world pretty much remains the same. I for one do not see any difference from before and after in the general sinfulness (as defined by the Christian) of the world population. If he was crucified, it certainly was in vain.

Additionally, a few discrepancies are noteworthy regarding the crucifixion. First off, there is no contemporaneous Roman record of a crucifixion of Jesus. All the evidence of Crucifixion comes purely from biblical sources. On the other hand, some Jewish sources claim that Jesus was stoned to death, the rationale being stoning to death and not crucifixion was the appropriate punishment of the era for blasphemy which was what Jesus was accused of. Likewise, the Koran of the Muslims actually claims that Simon who carried the cross for Jesus was substituted in Jesus's stead at the cross - Jesus did not die, but Simon rather was the one crucified. Which version of the tale must one believe? And why so many versions if there was but one fact?

Resurrection & Communism

One is next informed by the diligent Christian of the miracle of Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Oh what a wonderfully unique thing; unheard of heretofore. Except, not, when you examine history.

Around that time, there are many characters who are claimed to have resurrected from the dead. A great example would be the great mathematician Pythagoras. While we know Pythagoras for his theorem about the relationship between the sides of a triangle, he was also a great socialist who established his commune. Apparently, this was common practice - collectivism is not new in human history (Russians don't get the credit), and dates back to the time before Jesus; both Jesus and John the baptizer being leaders of their respective communist sects as well - yes, that was what they each really were. Anyhow, Pythagoras is recorded to have effected his death and resurrection for purposes of solidifying the faith of the members of his commune. Likewise, the day of the risen king is a festival that was celebrated potentially in Babylon and Egypt, where the body of the son of god - that is the Pharaoh (hence the equivalence between king and son of god) - who was dead and long interred, was taken out annually, and celebrated around town as the resurrected son of god. So my initial belief of the uniqueness of the resurrection went down the drain; apparently any charlatan back then would concoct such an idea.

Also, why did the dead Jesus live? Before we examine this question, let us look at the context of the cult of John the baptist to set context for this. Like with Pythagoras, John was also a collectivist leader. With collectivism, as with communism, the complete unquestioning devotion of the "comrade" in the equal sharing of everything was an absolutely supreme necessity. The story of Ananias and Saphira, who according to the bible dropped dead before the charlatan supreme - Paul (but more than likely was murdered in cold blood by Paul) is case in point - because if the "disciples"/"comrades" withheld from the commune, that would destabilize the commune. (There can only be few who are more equal than all the other equals). Anyhow, Mr. John baptizer had his commune, just like Jesus did - and while both protagonists were alive, each one's "comrades" bethought him the Messiah, and there was bitter enmity between the followers of each against those of the other. However, one fine day, Mr. John was dead - executed by the law. Poof went their Messiah; because he was a dead man, and the messiah could not die. This development actually tremendously helped the case of Christianity because the befuddled followers of Mr. John, used to being sheep that were led, but finding themselves without a leader, flocked to the tribe of Jesus; for oxen cannot apparently bear being rid of the yoke.

Anyhow, sadly pretty soon, the same thing happened to the tribe of Jesus. And when that happened, they, being more experienced now, resurrected him instead this time, so that the commune can continue.

Now, here is where I speculate a little. And full disclosure that this discussion below is my own theory. I don't believe that the resurrection was deliberately conceived. Rather, I believe that this idea ended up taking root by accident of chance, but being propitious to their cause, was rapidly endorsed by the Christian sectarians. Noteworthy facts on this front are:
  1. Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, who was a rich/influential man, but possibly not of the family of Jesus, and the tomb he buried Jesus in was one of his own - not one that had a kinship with Jesus's family. He probably did this because he respected Jesus as a teacher. Yet, there probably was cause for resentment amongst Jesus's family that he was not interred in his rightful place. 
  2. There is the narrative of a fear of an attempt to steal Jesus's body away from the tomb. It should be noted that while the bible builds the narrative that it was Jesus's enemies who plotted, and even posts guards at the tomb of Jesus, all biblical scholars today agree that a lot of this - especially the posting of guards - was narrative later introduced into the bible; that the original story did not have any guards for one. 
Now, I believe that like all rumors, the narrative of the attempt to steal Jesus's body has its beginnings in reality. It was the discontented members of Jesus's kin who actually successfully stole the body of Jesus and buried him elsewhere in a tomb more fitting to his family. However, this led to the tomb of Jesus being found empty, and someone must have said in passing that "he must have resurrected." And the desperation of the followers gave credence to this tale - especially with the alternative being admission to theft - and it was taken up, and beautifully embellished with visitations of angels and of the risen Jesus. At this point, the actual story of the theft of the body must have leaked out, but since that could not be allowed to sustain by the commune, this was spun as an attempt that was feared, and the whole proleptic narrative of the posting of guards, and the many sightings of the person of Jesus etc invented to defend the claim of resurrection.

In sum, the resurrection was an expedient invented by the distraught "comrades" of Jesus, to get themselves out of the double predicaments that they were corpse thieves and their messiah was stone cold dead.

Second Coming

This is the most ludicrous facet of Christianity. The initial biblical narrative was that Jesus would come back before the "comrades" were dead - and would establish himself king, and them - his faithful followers - ministers of his dominion with much power and glory. Except, much water flowed under the bridge, and many of the "comrades" started falling dead, and there was no sign of this Jesus. Of course, how can there be a sign of the dead man, but only a few were even privy to the great falsification - the rest genuinely believed that he had resurrected, like all the many Christians of today.

Now, if you are a Christian, the bible is true unto you. Jesus is recorded clearly and unambiguously in the bible as saying that he will be back before the disciples are dead. So pretty clearly, Jesus could not fulfill his promise, and the prophesy in the bible turned out to be false (PS: there are many prophesies in the bible that turn out abundantly false; other noteworthy ones being the Jews never being able to remove all other inhabitants from the promised land - in stark contrast to the promise etc) So, my question for all Christians, and for myself when I used to be a Christian is/was "why the heck do you believe in something that is so obviously false."

Instead, Christianity subsequently spun narratives of how the word of the god had to be preached to the ends of the earth before Jesus would come back and blah-blah-blah; narratives which could not easily be proved false because their predicate clauses could never be fulfilled, and therefore wouldn't put them in a bind like the last one. Unfortunately, their emendations and additions to the text still failed to wipe out the clear and unambiguous words of Jesus as recorded in the text of the bible.

And that is all there is to the second coming. Nobody is coming back. May the dead man rest in peace.
Update 04/01/2017: There is a description of the behavior of a group with a similar modern doomsday prediction, which incidentally happened to be studied with tremendous diligence by three interested psychologists who infiltrated the group in Robert Cialdini's book "Influence: The psychology of persuasion". Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Robert-Cialdini/dp/006124189X/
The failure of the original Christian narrative of the doomsday and second coming, according to Cialdini's readings, is potentially what spurred the proliferation of Christianity. The disillusioned sheeple that adhered to Christianity avidly sought compatriots who they could proselyte so that they could use the "social proof" of many people believing in the hogwash to reorient themselves from their disillusionment and essentially feel better about their stupidity!

Kingdom of God

Every Christian professes himself to be ardently awaiting the Kingdom of God. First, as mentioned and based on Jesus's own words, there was the belief that the kingdom will be soon in the coming - before the original disciples were dead. That didn't happen, and so the narrative was changed to one that the kingdom will steal upon us, like a thief in the night; nobody knows its time of coming etc. And the allusion of all the ends of the earth had to be baptized before the kingdom would come was also spread - that latter being unlikely to happen, the Christians did not have a date to defend  unlike the poor Mayans whose calendar was unwisely pegged to a discrete date and therefore needed to be revised with each passage of the doomsday date without incident.

Also noteworthy is that the whole notion of the kingdom is a 15th century invention. The original, at least as I understand from reading Dr. Hoffman's works, only consisted of a day of the lord / day of Judgement. Embellishment being the order of the day where anything pertaining to religion is concerned.

Bertrand Russel's arguments are noteworthy on this front. We know one world, people in that work cunning - some are more powerful than others and the like. There is a mix of sin and good. If there is any other world or state of the world, based on what we know, is it more likely it's going to be perfect, or is it more likely to be similar - a mix of good and bad?

In fact, Christians say every sinner burns in hell - yet Christians also concede that some parts of hell are hotter and some colder. The catholic church goes so far as to make a purgatory separate from the Hell, with the priest having the ability to prolong or shorten your stay in purgatory. And likewise with heaven; everyone is equal and everyone worships god. Yet some people are more equal than others - St. Peter for instance guards the gates of heaven. Plus the pious Christian believes, the part reserved for themselves being only second tier to that of the saints, but those fellow Christians who they don't like as much will be one or a few levels below. Reminds one of the Orwellian idea of "doublethink" (-1984).

Saint worship

I grew up in a Church of St George. Oh the valiant George, who saved a damsel from the dragon. Yet that fantasy land shatters away when one reads Edward Gibbon and realizes that the said saint George of the church was an Antiochian bishop of a very disgusting character. Granted, there are people who question Gibbon's narrative and put forth the Catholic narrative of an otherwise unknown George who was a knight/soldier of unknown origins (if there are no annals of this man, why was he canonized). Yet, Gibbon's narrative is well reasoned and whatever facts can be found agree with him, whereas the church's narrative could as well be a grandmother's tale. Hagiographers apparently have excellent imaginations.

And such was the case of most saints - the most disgusting, vile and self centered characters were proclaimed saints of the Church either because they were killed as example by the Romans or whoever else the church was at war with at that point in time; or because they coercively converted large masses of people into Christianity by edict or diktat (see Riasanovsky's History of Russia https://www.amazon.com/History-Russia-Nicholas-Riasanovsky/dp/019534197X/, in addition to Gibbon's accounts). Pretty saintly saints you have going if you look at it closely! (PS: I am not generalizing for lack of examples. Rather I can enumerate so many myself, I am forced to generalize for brevity.)



Evils of Christianity:

One might ask, fine Christians believe in Jesus as the savior and such, and maybe in doing so they are fooling themselves. Yet what harm does it do? And if it is harmless, isn't it okay, given all the good they do in the world? Doesn't Christianity at least have a good impact on the world?

However, I have come to conclude that Christianity is actively bad in many ways so that the sum total trends downward. Granted, there is a worse religion (or possibly two, all in the same family), but that does not make bad any less bad.

The compulsive need to proselytize:

This is generally regarded as the Abrahamic religion problem. The old religions of the world - those of the Romans, Egyptians, Indians, Chinese etc were long established, and were as much culture as they were religion. The gods and festivals of the Romans for instance were part of the cultural backbone of the country, and not really a religious system as separate from a political system. When a new people group came, their gods were also absorbed into the Roman pantheon, and equivalences were already established between the gods of the Greeks, the gods of the Egyptians, the gods of the Romans etc. An Egyptian participated as fervently in the festivals of the Roman when he was in Rome, as the Roman did in those of the Egyptians while an expatriate in Egypt.

The Abrahamic religions were not like that. In fact, the old world hated the Jews, because they were so uppity in their supposed superiority of their religion and essentially refused to commune with the rest of the world - yet the Jews were a wretched people, inferior in technology and culture to their contemporaries, and always in bondage either of the Babylonians or of the Egyptians or of the Romans or whoever else bothered to put effort into subordinating a people as wretched as them. (The bible of course paints a different picture of Jewish glory, but any self respecting person can figure out the folly in the bible rather easily with the amount of information we have of history. Also note that the Jews of today are much different; ironically they endorsed civilization to a commendable degree once their temple was razed to the ground).

Out of that self isolating uppity people, in a time when gods were a source of joy, glory and valor, came the Christian people with a god that favored monasticism and isolation, abstemious life, abstinence from sexuality, and illiteracy and blind faith. Of course, they had to fight out and proselytize people to increase their following. I used to often wonder what is the point of symbolic acts like baptism, communion etc, to people that otherwise claim to despise idols - but when you realize these were tools to proselytize, or in other words 'props for the sale of religion,' it all makes a lot of sense.

They had to make themselves feel eclectic and special, and invent esoteric rituals to proselytize and obtain converts. And even today, that smug attitude continues in Christians. A Christian does not spread the gospel for the benefit of those he is preaching it to; rather he does that because it makes him feel smug and special and superior - a paternalistic condescension disguised as concern for the fate of the soul in an afterlife that actually does not exist.

Anyone who is willing to look can find the stories of how Christianity was spread in India or Africa or among many indigenous tribes of America and Australia. The religion of love has no scruple in going to war and shedding blood in the name of the lord (even though it expresses unfathomable disgust at it's little brother doing the same). And the Christian finds no scruples in violating laws of other countries and falsifying reasons for international travel as tourism or education, when the real mission is smuggling bibles, because they take themselves to be the possessors of divine Carte-Blanche in their infractionary behavior.

Anti-Evolution &Anti-Abortion

The enemy of Christianity is science, because obviously they fear their god will not withstand scientific scrutiny. And Christianity teaches that the divine purpose of existence is to breed like rabbits. Blessed be the woman by the number of children she has born, for that be the only edification of her life! And so, naturally, everything scientific finds some quarrel with the Christian, be it evolution because poof went creationism, or be it abortion - because, da, if people control childbirth, it hurts Christianity in so many ways:
  1. The creation of life no longer has so much mystic power around it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZimLVVzdf0
  2. Sexuality would increase in people. This would lead to women being more independent. This would lead to increased prevalence of education in society. And education impedes the suspension of disbelief necessary for indoctrination. 
  3. There is fewer homeless and miserable people at whose expense the Christian can feel good about their charitable behavior!
I will stop with that or I will start ranting on this topic. However, note that, we live in a finite planet. It has only so much natural resources. And no divine miracle is going to suddenly change the way nature works.  (And before you start, I don't believe in human caused global warming - and that is not what I am talking about. On that front, like any well informed man, I am perfectly aware of Milankovitch cycles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles).

1500 years of Dark ages

The period from somewhere around 400 AD till somewhere around 1800 AD is generally regarded as the dark ages / medieval period in the history of civilization. Much knowledge was lost, and civilization regressed in that period. Wars were rampant, the majority of masses lived in some form of bondage, poverty and paucity was severe and life on the whole was dark. Scarce wonder it is that this period more or less coincides with the time between when Christianity ascended the throne of the Roman empire, and when the Renaissance shattered many established "facts" as defined by Christianity.

Even today, the opportunity cost (as defined by economics) of a person being a Christian, is good talent wasted in superstitious pursuits, which could have otherwise furthered the cause of science and our understanding of the universe so much more. This is especially disappointing when one realizes that we are so close to unfolding many of the mysteries of the universe.

Joy Killer

Among the evils of Christianity, this is the worst. This religion deludes its following into believing that any form of pleasure is a sin. So many are the people who got themselves killed under a misguided belief that they were attaining martyrdom which gave them a place at the right hand of a god that does not exist. Likewise the monks and ascetics who disdained all forms of joy, social intercourse, and erudition and literature under a misguided sense of chastity. So much time - so many people years - lost in pursuit of a misconception, when you only live once. And worse, if those talents were actually engaged in the industry of furthering civilization, humanity would have come so much farther. What demonic abomination of a god would condemn his children into a soulless existence devoid of the essential joys and curiosities of life!

Worst is the treatment of sexuality within ardent believers of Christianity. Many are the men and women who considered it their divine sacrifice to partake in the abominable act that was the necessary prelude of procreation - yet their imbecility did not allow them to ask that if their god required it, it could by definition not be abominable. I would rather chose many stark Wisconsin winters over the joys of their nuptial beds.

For anyone desirous to internalize how dire the state of the world possessed of the demon of Christianity was during the middle ages, I will highly recommend the movie - "The Crucible." Trailer at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N358aoK_V0E. Be Warned - it is dark, gruesome and heart rending.


So what do I believe in?


Jesus of Nazareth

As we discussed above, I find it immensely more probable that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier and a man in fullness with no divine capacity beyond that of any ordinary man, and no product of any divine conception necessitating only female participation. This likelihood is further supported by the diligence with which the early Christians tried to suppress this information. The Gnostic gospels (see the Infancy gospels, which the church condemns and refuses to canonize because their narratives are not conducive to the image of Christ that the church sells) demonstrate the recalcitrance of this unruly child who was a menace to his parents and allowed no master to instruct him in the arts of learning and erudition. Therefore I believe that he was an unlettered man. He was definitely a philosopher, and did much to further philosophy and original thought among the Jews, but considering that the state of the Jews was so pathetically behind the rest of the contemporary world, few if any of his ideas were actually ahead of the time, and therefore he was merely a mediocre philosopher. He is well dead, killed by his own envious kinsmen on charges of blasphemy, his resurrection was a sham concocted by a group of desperate sectarians, and over time he was transformed into so many things that he himself would not recognize the Jesus of today.

The First Cause

It is funny how the Christian world sells you their god packaged in the image of a loving father that dotes on his children. That syllogism took exception with me because conveniently (actually rather inconveniently and unfortunately, but I won't dwell on it) I had a miserable drunk and abuser for a father - he was very christian and pious though.

Bertrand Russel's speech essentially gave me the clincher in the argument of the existence of a first cause. If we are resorting to the first cause to explain the inexplicable in the universe, we are really not gaining much by the use of the first cause - we are merely transposing the mystery from the universe onto a new variable. We might as well settle with calling the universe itself the first cause.

But the bible is right in one powerful parable - that of the woman who drove away the evil spirit residing in her house and cleaned up her house, only to have seven evil spirits find the house all clean and empty and squat into residence. Driving away the first cause leaves a big chasm - because the universe is now inherently unexplained to you. The scientific curiosity in you cannot settle with that. And so naturally I started searching for an explanation for the universe.


The Universe is random and arbitrary

The answer that I sought to the existence of the universe, like all other tangible answers, came from science. We have by now discovered the big bang. We know that the universe is immensely large, and we are not even a spec in the vast scheme of the universe. Additionally, the term "Universe" has been redefined to include only the observable universe which is the outcome of one single big bang, so that who knows how many other universes exist beyond our knowledge as the outcome of potentially innumerable big-bangs that happened across the truly illimitable expanse of space and time, the light from which will never reach our little drop of dirt and water in the solar system anytime in the lives of our own species!

So then what causes the big bang? Here is where I thank Laurence Krauss and his book mentioned above, for giving me in somewhat simpler terms, what only an astrophysicist would otherwise understand. Most of us have learned Heisenberg's uncertainty principle at some point in our schooling. It turns out, the position of the electron is not accurately determinable not just because of our inability to measure, but instead that electron actually disappears by colliding with a positron (the anti particle) and another electron appears elsewhere in it's stead. Yes, in this process, momentarily there were three particles where only one should be - the other two having appeared out of nothing. Welcome to quantum mechanical randomness!

And hence, the randomness of randomness quite likely means, at random points in space and time, it is possible that a sufficient amount of particles may randomly appear to produce the various interactions of the four known (and possibly other unknown) fundamental forces ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_interaction ) of nature required to make these particles persist and collapse by gravity to form the "singularity" that leads to the big bang. This is about as far as we know today - enough to discredit any need for the supernatural. Yet there is tremendously much more to know - in Jesus's words "The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few," because Christianity steals good men to the pursuit of the superstitious and therefore away from the pursuit of science.

Hence I believe 

that our lives are a mere spec in the dust, that is born out of the randomness of quantum mechanical chance akin to the flip of a coin, and lasts but a few tens of years, and ceases to exist in its entirely thereafter. And we live in a universe that is likewise not governed by any sentient being, but rather is random and arbitrary, almost capricious in its machinations. 

Given that being the case, we might as well use that little bit of time we have in the pursuit of joy and learning, not only to ourselves, but also to others around us!

Parting words

I will frankly confess that there is one thing I miss of Christianity - the feeling of community. Perhaps because one needs others likewise invested in the pursuit of identical folly, to make oneself look less ridiculous, the Christians do make an effort to build a tight knit community around them. And while I pity them the folly that they are born into and which only few find the courage to grow out of, I do believe that in their hearts, most of them are good people, genuinely trying to do what is right within their belief systems. And while I definitely do not miss the unsolicited pious testimonies embellished to surfeition or the pretended glossolalia rampant in American churches, I do miss the feeling of companionship and that of mutual support that is engendered by regularly meeting with each other on a weekly basis. 
This is especially true given my situation because, I am an expatriate in a place where I do not have childhood friends, and because of the state of my relationship with my abusive father and therefore with my family. But such is the caprice of the universe.

My uncle used to say, one cannot change another through debate. One can only hope to sow a seed or nurture what another already sowed. If you are a Christian, you will likely have hated what you have read here; and will hate me for writing all of this. But one cannot unlearn the truth; and just like me, you have also learned it now. I genuinely hope that the truth will set you free one day, from the yoke that is dragging you down, even if you refuse to accept that a yoke is a yoke.

And so, my final thoughts are these: the universe is tremendous, vast, random and arbitrary. Enjoy it while the randomness of chance conspired to give you a blink of an eye, make the best of it while you can; instead of being stuck up on a mistake from 2000 years ago.

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