Vexen Crabtree's Insane Journal

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29th March 2014

10:03pm: Yet more page updates (on secular topics)

Here they are:

  • The End of the World is Nigh! The Dangers of Apocalyptism and End-Times Beliefs: Added loads of text throughout this page, including on the Zhushen Jiao and Dami Xuanjiao, two popular Chinese Christian sects who were warning of the end of the world at the turn of the millennium, and added a quote from the Skeptical Inquirer over the arbitrary nature of astronomical events and the effect of the Earth's orbit of our vantage point. Added text on the Christian fundamentalist Hal Lindsy, whose book predicting the end of the world in the 1980s was the best-selling English book of the 1970s (except the Bible). And added notes on Dorothy Martin's UFO cult and mathematician Stoffler's predictions of the end of the world in the 1950s and 1524 respectively. So many crazy people, and so many gullible people following them! Better education and skeptical thinking is surely the best cure.

  • Alien Life and Planet Earth page relaunch: I've added a new section on interstellar travel, concentrating on the physics of engines and fuel consumption and on the problems of shielding very fast moving ships from electrically charged particles, and the problems of shielding the Earth (and the destination!) against the output of uber-powerful engines. And some notes on promulgation: if you send a signal off from one planet, it is highly likely to travel the entire span of the known Universe without encountering anything solid. The chances of detecting aliens through radio waves is very small. Much of the new content comes from the work of Robert Sheaffer, Edward Purcell, Robert Carroll and Sebastion von. Hoerner.

  • Why Question Beliefs? Dangers of Placing Ideas Beyond Doubt, and Advantages of Freethought: I have added section "2.3: The Benefits of Accepting Opposing Views". And added some notes from William Draper (1881) to section "1. Crazy Beliefs are Dangerous", subsection "1.5. Religious Fundamentalism". And added the famous quote from Thomas Paine to the conclusion: "it is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry"!

The above updates were from previous days and weeks. The page I've just revamped right now is this:

  • Hot Topics in Human Sexuality: Page relaunch. I've added an introductory paragraph, and section "2.1 Human Sexuality Today Verses Ancient Greece". The differences between Greek culture and ours is truly astounding. I've tidied up the section on religoin and sexuality, and added introductory sections on masturbation, homosexuality, birth control and marriage. I have removed some old text (I bet no-one misses it!). Some bits I've left untouched which I ought to have rewritten (but I've not yet got good source material to use).

Enjoy, and please for the love of all things interconnected, someone leave some feedback!

Current Mood: cheerful
Current Music: "Abuse Me" by Union Attempt

2nd March 2014

5:25pm: Sexuality and Religion - page updates
A few updates from recent weeks on sexuality and religion:</p>
  1. The Peacock vs. the Ostrich - Religious Behaviour and Sexuality: Two additions. In Section 1: Nearly all fundamentalist religious organisations reject human rights, and in particular, reject women's rights and are hostile to homosexuality, transvestitism and any other sexuality that is not traditional and patriarchal. They "typically exclude women from the senior ranks of religious leadership. All or almost all express concern about control of female sexuality". But in history, all these things were the mainstream positions of mainstream Christian churches.

    And in Section "3.2. Scientology": Paul Haggis was a Hollywood screenwriter who left the Church of Scientology after 34 years, in 2008, when the Church's name appeared on a list of organizations supporting Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative to ban gay marriage.

  2. The Battle Between Monotheism and Homosexuality: Religious Prejudice Versus Equality page relaunch. Text added to most sections, especially on the current running battles between Christian groups in the UK and UK equality law, and a section listing some court cases where Christians have tried to exempt themselves from equality laws, including noting which Christian organisations have been funding and encouraging those cases. Added text on the Catholic's church active and powerful opposition to gay rights throughout Europe and text on the most important related verses from the bible. Updated the section on Judaism with positive notes from the USA.

  3. Incest in the Bible: Adam and Eve and Their Children, and Noah and His Family: I've added a note on Warren Steed Jeffs, the President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a spin-off from the Mormons).He got himself on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" on account of the scale of his sex crimes within his congregation, including sex with minors and incest. And I've added some paragraphs on the Parsis (Zoroastrians) in Hong Kong, where religious inhibitions against marrying outside causes severe problems with the 100-strong community. Zoroastrianism and its dogmas influenced Judaism, Chritsianity and Islam.

Current Music: "Shadow dancer (distorted shadows mix)" by Shadow System

25th January 2014

11:12pm: More updates from January
  • Homosexuality in Animals and Humans: I've added a paragraph to the bottom of Section #2 "International Gay Rights Index (Which Countries are Most and Least Tolerant?)", on the declining rates of homophobia in the UK and USA, although the USA is somewhat behind, and noted the news reports that senior UKIP officials are (quite predictably) a nasty and homophobic bunch.

  • Humanism: Added two paragraphs to section "5. The Basis of Humanism's Morals and Charitable Work by Humanists".

  • Buddhism:
    I've added section 2, "Numbers of Buddhists Around the World" which tabulates Buddhist countries. The population of 7 countries are mostly Buddhist, and they have average life expectancy, slightly lower fertility rates than the global average of 2.81, are much poorer than other countries, and have a poor record on gender equality and LGBT rights.

  • Omniscience: God Knows All?: I've added a part to section "4. Contradictions from Scripture: When God Doesn't Know All " : "4.2. Islam: Times in the Qur'an When God Tests People to Find Things Out".

Current Music: "Heat Moving (The Synthetic Dream Foundation Mix" by Isis Signum feat. Sara Noxx

11th January 2014

6:34pm: Two updates
A few updates to pages:

Single Issue Parties are Dangerous: Against BNP, UKIP, Green Parties and Ethnic Parties: The British National Party certainly have oodles of opinions when it comes to immigration, but do they have the skills to manage the UK's highly complicated budgets and assets across the spectrum? At the start of 2014, Nick Griffin, BNP's leader, was declared personally bankrupt, so, the signs are not good. (Added this sentence to section 2).

Science: Its Character and History: A few little updates. I've added link to the RationalWiki article on The Scientific Method. Added two quotes from Robert Carroll to section #2, one on science in general and one about how anecdotes are not acceptable in science "even if the anecdotes number in the millions and even if the storytellers are Nobel Prize-winning anointed saints".

That's all :-)
Current Mood: cheerful
Current Music: "Abuse Me" by Union Attempt

31st December 2013

5:41am: InsaneJournal, LiveJournal and Spam
Ho hum, I do wish there were more actual users on InsaneJournal. It still has the simplicity that LiveJournal has slowly been losing - the square-cornered Web 1.0 design and feel to IJ is a great asset, in a decade where everything is going high-graphics and low-content. But the amount of bot-links-content and spam that gets poured all over IJ is a real issue here, especially on the Community groups. That, combined with a dwindling almost non-existence user base has probably made the management here all but give up on most aspects of active management. Just saying, though, there are still genuine users using IJ!
Current Mood: mellow
Current Music: "Year of the rat" by Tristania

22nd October 2013

3:28am: More updates...
  • Prayer to God in Christianity and Islam: It is Useless and Satanic!: I've added a quote from Voltaire (1764) to the section "2. Praying is Against God's Will" and massively expanded section "3. Praying is Magic" with commentary of Justin Barret's investigations into people's choices of prayer in emergency situations. And to section "5. How to Pray in Islam, According to the Qur'an" I've added notes on several more Qur'anic verses, such as Qur'an 3:191, 5:6 and 17:107,110.

  • Christianity v. Astronomy: The Earth Orbits the Sun!: Added two more verses to the list of Biblical verses that have a stationary Earth sit at the center of a circling sun: Habakkuk 3:10-11 describes an amazing and miraculous scene, where the sun and the moon stand still "in their habitation". The sun is always standing still, of course, at the center of the solar system. Ecclesiastes 1:5 explains that "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose". The sun, of course, does perform no such acrobatics.

  • Homocentricity or Anthropocentrism: Why Do Religions Think Humanity Is Central to God and Creation?: I've added section "4. The Instruments of Heaven in the Christian Bible" - on how it just-so-happens that the instruments heard from heaven in the Book of Revelations is an instrument popular among the Hebrews and Greeks. Is it coincidence? Why do the hosts of heaven not play a Chinese, Australian or even an electronic or modern instrument? The answer to these questions is that the description of heaven is culturally sourced - "divine truth" is made up. Aside from that, I've added a footnote for Bainbridge's acknowledge of an argument in section "2.1. We are Not the Center of the Universe". And added Qur'an 2:29 to the list of verses in section "1.3. Homocentricity in Islam".

And,

  • Pascal's Wager is Safer in Reverse: Picking a Religion is Dangerous Business: A few updates to this page. I've added section "3.2. The Islamic Qur'an - Worshipping the Wrong God is a Ticket to Hell" which lists many verses - things like saying god is in 3 parts, for example, will make you a loser on judgement day. Also added an opening paragraph to section "3.3. The Christian Bible - Believing the Wrong Things is a Ticket to Hell" - many verses in the Bible warn against the dangers of idolatry (which is, worshipping the wrong god), and punishments include hell and the punishment can effect up to 4 generations of your descendants. In other words: pick the right god! The problem is of course, that according to Pascal's Wager, you /ought/ to pick a god. In practice, it is safer not to, because the world's religions have harsh punishments in store for those who pick the wrong one. It is safer not to pick one, and not even to /know/ about religion!

Current Music: "Forever" by Culture Kultür

11th September 2013

9:43pm: A few updates (none on religion, this time)
A few of these updates are a week or two old, but I wait until I've got a few together so I can post them at once, and I've been busy with Uni work, actual work, and real life!

  • The Illusion of Choice: Free Will and Determinism - Page re-organised to make it flow better and done a bit of mild editing. I've rewritten what is now section 6.1 - "Social Justice Requires Causation, Not Free Will" and added a note contrary to philosopher Robert Carroll. There are still a few sections in the middle that need rationalizing.

  • Accepting Assisted Suicide: A Focus on UK Law - I've added section "1. Country By Country Suicide Rates". Suicides are most common in Lithuania, Russia, South Korea and Belarus. I've added a few other notes and comments throughout the page, and made a few minor editorial corrections. Each country links to its country profile page.

  • What is the Best Country in the World?: An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life. I have updated a few data sets with values from the latest UN Human Development Report (2012) - effecting the Overall Life Satisfaction, Life Expectancy and Development Index tables. I have added a series on the number of Internet Users in the population of each country. I have also added a series on Immunization Deficiency... That is, the percents of people not receiving DTP and measles jabs. The TOP 6 countries remain the same, but Austria, Canada and Hong Kong have been pushed out of the TOP 10 by the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany. On the page look at the latest FB comment to see exactly how the top 10 differed BEFORE and AFTER the updates.

  • And finally, Approaching Death: Some Instincts of the Human Animal: Added a note that we have buried our dead at least since the Paleolithic era, to section "1.1. Timeless Animal and Human Behaviour". And to the section "2.1. Ground Burial: Re-Using Graves and Overcrowded Cemeteries" I've added a note from an article in The Economist from 2012, on South African cemeteries (which are basically all full). And in the section on Assisted Suicide (section 5) I've added a quick note mentioning that it is illegal almost everywhere.

Current Mood: happy
Current Music: "Urnensand" by Reaper

17th July 2013

9:01pm: Hallucinations, Unreligious countries, God as a bad parent, and God's gender neutrality
A few updates:
  • The False and Conflicting Experiences of Mankind: How Other Peoples' Experience Contradict Our Own Beliefs: I've added section #4.1, Hallucinations and Fasting (with a section on Ghosts), which is now the best part of this otherwise old page. I was on the verge of deleting this page in 2008 but settled for deleting large chunks of waffle, and it has just held on. Hopefully with this new content I'll feel better about it!

  • Secularisation Theory: Will Modern Society Reject Religion? What is Secularism? - I've added to Section #3 a list of the least religious countries of the world, and countries that are most atheist. Added a note that some describe Berlin as 'the atheist capital of the world'. I've re-ordered some sections. Added notes that in the West and in the non-Western world (i.e. Amongst Buddhists), the perceived authority of clergy and religious professionals is declining. Added a quote from Richard Fenn to section #6 on Civil Religion.

  • I've added comments on two sets of verses to The God of the Christian Bible is Evil: Evidence from Scripture and Nature. I've added Psalm 104:27-30 to section "1.1. God Creates Evil Regardless of Human Free Will". God sometimes feeds and waters animals, and at other "terrifies" them. This makes rubbish of the idea that humankind fell from grace, as animals are innocent of this, yet, they are still harangued by God - in other words, free will is not the cause of human or animal suffering... God is. The other verse I've commentd on is Genesis 6:7, where God decides to kill everyone because we're all not pleasing him. This I've put into section 2.2. on bad parenting... Although "bad" is a bit of an understatement!

  • And finally, a real quickie: God and Pronouns: God has No Gender - I've added a note on Eckankar, who use a word for god ("Sugmad") which they stress "is neither masculine nor feminine", and on the Kabballah.

Current Mood: busy
Current Music: "Vampire Heart" by HIM

16th May 2013

9:34pm: Some more updates!
  • The Causes of Fundamentalism, Intolerance and Extremism in World Religions, and Some Solutions - I've added a quote from Voltaire (1764) to section 4.1. "Monotheism and Violent Intolerance". The quote in full reads: "One remarks a singular contrast between the sacred books of the Hebrews, and those of the Indians. The Indian books announce only peace and gentleness; they forbid the killing of animals: the Hebrew books speak only of killing, of the massacre of men and beasts; everything is slaughtered in the name of the Lord; it is quite another order of things."

  • Errors in Thinking: Cognitive Errors, Wishful Thinking and Sacred Truths - I've added section 3.1 "Story Telling and Second-Hand Information", and, added some notes from psychologists Jonah Lehrer's and Daniel Kahneman to sections "Pareidolia: Seeing Patterns in Random, Complex or Ambiguous Data", and 6.1 "The Prevention of Errors: Skeptical Thinking".

  • Democracy: Its Foundations and Modern Challenges - relaunched this page and moved it to a new domain. I've added several sections, including results of the Press Freedom Index, showing which are the best 25 and worst 25 countries, and added a large section on the Mass Media, largely concentrated on the negative effects on democracy.

Current Music: "Cherokee" by Europe

31st January 2013

10:04pm: A few updates on Religion, Ethics and Human Rights
(1) "Morals With or Without Religion" by Vexen Crabtree (2012) I have expanded two sections - "2.3. Is Religion Required to Be a Good Person?" and "3.2. Human Communities Share Most Morals No Matter What Religion They Are". I have added Talcott Parsons (1966) on dogma, a USA poll from 2002 that saw a ridiculous 44.% of the population say it is *necessary* to believe in God to be moral, and Parsons, Bryan Wilson and Karen Armstrong all saying religion is required for meaningful morals, and 2 of them warn the complete moral collapse will follow on from secularisation. (40 years later... nothing's happened). And in section 3.2 added quotes from Pascal Boyer on the biological and non-religious causes of good morality.

(2) I am completely redoing all of the statistics from "What is the Best Country in the World? Who Sets the Best Examples?" by Vexen Crabtree (2013). The old stats are archived at the bottom of the page, and the news stats include, so far:
  • The United Nations Human Development Index (which includes measures on health (via life expectancy), schooling and wealth).
  • Fertility rates (to see if the country is contributing to overpopulation)
  • Nominal Commitment to Human Rights
  • The year that women attained the right to vote and stand for election (the longer ago it was, the more points the country gets).
  • The UN's Gender Inequality Index
Each country can get a maximum of 100 points for each range, and, the country's final score is their average from all the ranges of stats that they appear in. At the moment, the best countries are: Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and new Zealand!
Current Mood: peaceful
Current Music: "The Trial" by Pink Floyd

10th May 2012

12:17pm: Christianity and Environmentalism
I've added a paragraph to "Satanism and Environmentalism" by Vexen Crabtree (2007), based on quotes from Ellerbe (1995), referenced fully on the page of course:

In the middle era of Christian history, the Church throughout Europe spent hundreds of years suppressing the celebration of nature. In the sixth century bishop Martin of Braga asked "what is the lighting of wax lights at rocks or trees or wells or crossroads if it is not worship of the devil?". The General Capitularies of Charlemagne in 789 described the celebration of sacred natural spaces as evil, and such places are to be destroyed wherever they are found. Images depicted holy men chopping down sacred trees, sometimes, God would prevent such trees from falling on them in order to show its approval of the action.
Current Music: "Rolls Royce" by The Horatii

3rd October 2011

8:22pm: Assisted suicide in the UK
I've added a few bits to "Approaching Death: Cremations, Disposal of Bodies and Suicide" by Vexen Crabtree (2007), on Terry Pratchet and his campaign to legalize assisted suicide in the UK.
Current Mood: productive
Current Music: "Headlong" by Queen

8th June 2011

7:00pm: Minority Religions and Intelligence
I've added a section to "Religion and Intelligence" by Vexen Crabtree (2007):

2.4. The Exceptions of Minority Religions

There are exceptions to the general rule that religion is linked with lower intelligence. Some esoteric or obscure religions attract particularly educated fans. Sometimes this results from an anti-establishment source amongst students or adults, sometimes it is because a particular style of religion gains a very positive image. Buddhism in the UK once attained this status and a wide range of intellectuals flocked to newly formed Buddhist societies and the like. These were later criticized for misrepresenting Buddhism, in particular by omitting irrational and societal elements of it. A survey in 1998 found that nearly 75% of the followers of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (one of the largest UK Buddhist groups) had a first degree, compared to 11% of the rest of the population. A third of them also had higher degrees. Some minority religions attract a disproportionately intelligent following because they are hard to engage with, therefore, those that attach themselves to the religion are the types of people who commit strongly to their interests in life. In all cases, as such movements gain in numbers and diversify to include more types of followers, this initial trend diminishes.
Current Music: "A Touch of Evil" by Judas Priest

17th May 2011

6:35pm: Christian Morality in Action
I've added a long quote from Victor Stenger as section 3.6 to "Christian Moral Theory and Morality in Action: Social Disaster" by Vexen Crabtree (1999):

The skeptic Victor Stenger considers the claim that Christian morality is better than secular morality by examining the actual rates of immorality within Christendom. He finds in general that Christianity does no better, but, that the stricter forms of Christianity are often correlated with worse risks of abuse, neglect and violence.

“According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Christians make up almost 80 percent of the prison population. Atheists make up about 0.2 percent. It is to be admitted that these data are not published in a scientific journal, but I think it is safe to conclude that the godless do not fill prisons. Published studies do indicate that a child's risk of sexual abuse by a family member increases as the family's religious denomination becomes more conservative, that is, when the teachings of scriptures and other doctrines are taken more literally. Similarly, the probability of wife abuse increases with the rigidity of a church's teachings pertaining to gender roles and hierarchy. [...] Even observers from the Christian side have expressed dismay that the current dominance of evangelical Christianity in America has not translated into a strengthening of the nation's moral character or the characters of evangelical Christians themselves. In an article in Christianity Today, theologian Ronald Sider lamented [...]:

"The findings in numerous national polls conducted by highly respected pollsters like The Gallup Organization and The Barna Group are simply shocking. "Gallup and Barna," laments evangelical theologian Michael Horton, "hand us survey after survey demonstrating that evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered, and sexually immoral as the world in general." Divorce is more common among "born-again" Christians than in the general American population. Only 6 percent of evangelicals tithe. White evangelicals are the most likely people to object to neighbors of another race. Josh McDowell has pointed out that the sexual promiscuity of evangelical youth is only little less than that of their nonevangelical peers."

-- Prof. Victor J. Stenger (2007)

18th April 2011

7:45pm: It is theologically problematic that Jesus decided not to write anything down. For thousands-and-hundreds of years, mistranslations of important Biblical verses misinformed the masses, and for much of humankind's history, most people never got to hear Christian ideas. It cannot be the case, therefore, that people need the Bible in order to fulfil God's plan. Tim Rice once had this idea, too:


You'd have managed Peter better if you'd had it planned
Now why'd you choose such a backward time and such a strange land?
If you'd come today you could have reached a whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication!”

-- Jesus Christ Superstar (1971). Written by Tim Rice

I've just been writing on this type of thing on "God's Methods of Communication: Universal Truth Versus Hebrew and Arabic" by Vexen Crabtree (2011)
Current Music: "Letting Go (Delobbo Sika mix - extended)" by Glis

8th March 2011

2:38pm: European Laws of Family Reunification and Muslim Immigration
I've added a section on Fetching Marriages and Muslim European Immigration to "Legislation and Faith: Religious Rights and Religious Wrongs" by Vexen Crabtree.

It is about how in some European countries, Muslim married couples from some countries do not have to sit through the interviews that everyone has to, in order to import their spouse. This is because it is assumed that it is an arranged marriage, and that they haven't met yet!!

Not only is this reverse discrimination - whereby many immigrants are forced to follow stricter procedures than some (Muslim) others, but it also undermines Western ideas of morality, where marriage is a free enterprise with no element of compulsion. For these two reasons, such exemptions should be removed, and all people and all religions should be treated equally under law, as is the ideal in fair democracies.
Current Music: "Freiheit" by Unhelig

4th March 2011

1:31pm: Test

20th December 2010

1:47pm: Some little updates to my Satanism and the New Age page
I've added a few quotes from Asbjørn Dyrendal and Jesper Aagaard Petersen to my comparison page: "The New Age and Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree (2004)

Asbjørn Dyrendal says "New Age and Satanism share a common suspicion of the socialized self and of socially dominant ideologies", which is true, as both distrust the way the "masses" are made docile and predictable by the mass media, trash culture, etc, and seek to break free from such limitations. Jesper Aagaard Petersen writes: "Although modern Satanism is very different from New Age spirituality on many accounts, the basic focus on socialization as repression of an essential nature [...] are comparable" [In "Contemporary Religious Satanism".

Asbjørn Dyrendal adds: "The self-development strategies we encounter in LaVeyan texts are rarely probable candidates for inclusion in a "New Age"-like [environment]".

There are major disagreements of a fundamental and irroncilable type between Satanism and the New Age.

Current Music: "Merging Oceans" by Rotersand

27th October 2010

2:31pm: DPJS redesign continues!
I am finally half-way through the domain redesign of www.DPJS.co.uk ; I am editting each page as I go so it is taking ages. Four more pages done:

"The Symbolism of Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree (2010)

"Lucifer, the Eastern Crown Prince of Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree (2001)

"What is the Relationship Between Satanism and Fascism?" by Vexen Crabtree (2005)

"True, Real and Traditional Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree (2003)
Current Mood: peaceful
Current Music: "Play Dead" by Combichrist

31st August 2010

6:36am: Satanism website revamp
I've moved four more pages over to the new design:

"The Untermensch: The Inferior of Society, the Drones, the Sheep" by Vexen Crabtree (2004)

"The Church Of Satan" by Vexen Crabtree (2002)

"The Satanic Community: Expect Disagreements Between Satanists" by Vexen Crabtree (2001)

"Selling Your Soul to Satan: A How-To Manual" by Vexen Crabtree (1999)

... and deleted a few pages, saving some text and moving it to related pages.
Current Music: "43rd Floor" by Project Pitchfork

17th July 2010

11:14pm: Mind-Body Dualism: Not a Source of Free Will?
I've added notes from Paul Davies in two places on "The Illusion of Choice: Free Will and Determinism" by Vexen Crabtree (1999):

1.2. Body-Soul Dualism: What if Our Minds Are Not Physical?

Some people argue that our 'minds' are separate to our bodies. They hold that because of this, our minds are therefore free from cause and effect. However there are some conceptual problems with this idea.
  1. Most thought must follow cause and effect in order to be coherent. Thinking randomly is no more free will than having your thoughts controlled by neurones. So, our minds must still run along lines of logical cause-and-effect, or, in other words, in a cycle of thought-and-afterthought. To break this chain of causality is to break the very flow of consciousness.
  2. Saying that minds are ethereal, non-physical, spiritual or whatever-else does not grant them with free will. If thoughts are not random, there must be factors which influence what thoughts are thought, and what choices are made. We know that most of those factors are purely physical - sex drives, hunger, hormone-driven emotions and the like all make little sense without a physical foundation. The full emotional range appears to be controlled purely by biology (hence why brain damage can so drastically affect personality). Is there really any room for a non-physical mind?
  3. But nonetheless what if some thoughts are completely non-physical? The philosopher-physicist Paul Davies ponders this in his "God And The New Physics", and unfortunately realizes that "one can still ask, what causes the mind to decide the way it does? If those causes originate in the physical world (and clearly some do) then we are back with determinism, and the introduction of a non-physical mind is an empty embellishment. But if some of those causes are non-physical causes, then we are no better off than we are with uncontrollable physical causes".
Causality plagues both the physical world and any non-physical minds you care to imagine; if thoughts are uncaused they are meaningless, if they are caused then there is no free will.

And, to:

6. Randomness: Quantum Uncertainty, Chaos Theory and Neurones:
BookWe must be careful here. Quantum effects are probably too small to have much influence on the operation of the brain at the neuron level, but if they did we would surely have not free will, but breakdown. A quantum fluctuation that forced a neuron to fire when it would normally not (or vica versa) is surely to be regarded as an interference to the otherwise normal operation of the brain. If electrodes were planted in your brain and triggered at random by an external source, you would regard that form of interference as a reduction of your freedom. -- "God And The New Physics" by Paul Davies (1984)
Not only does randomness result merely in another sublayer of non-choice, but, it is very doubtful if random quantum events have any significance above the smallest scale. Each neurone has between 100 and 10000 synapses that influence when it fires; it would require millions of spontaneous 'random' cascades of quantum effects to cause a neurone to overcome its position in the network and fire without cause; otherwise, the various inhibitors prevent small sudden biochemical events from causing misfires. Statistically, it is unlikely if quantum randomness has ever made a single neurone fire without cause
Current Music: "Sehnsucht" by Wumpscut

23rd May 2010

2:00pm: Animal Sacrifice has been a Traditional Element of Religions since Ancient Times
I've added a few lines about occultism and popular magic to "Animal Sacrifice and Blood Rituals in Traditional World Religions and Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree (2008):

Animal sacrifice has gone hand in hand with traditional and old religions6. The cradle of religion, animism, is rife with it. It is only the post-Roman Empire secular world that has fully rejected animal sacrifice. It remains in the holy books of the world's major traditional religions and is still practiced by many. It has in the past been a part of common, folk culture and folk religion; the resurgence of magic books, general occultism and popular belief in charms, luck, fate, etc, had led to a renewed interest in dusty old ritual magic. Will Emrish of the German Society for Protection against Superstition (DEGESA: Deutsche Gesellshaft vor Aberglauben, founded in 1954), who was also a former president of the German Animal Protection League, complained that "the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses had led to the painful deaths of numerous cats, chickens, moles, and toads by followers of its magical cures".
Current Music: "Altum Silentium" by Reaper

25th February 2010

7:26pm: Slavery
I've rewritten the introduction to "Traditional Religions and Abolition of the Slave Trade" by Vexen Crabtree (2003):

Voodoo priests, slave protests and economics were the three powerful factors that brought the age of slavery to an end. They battled against organized campaigns that aimed to keep the trade going, with religious justifications centering on the Christian Bible. Christianity and Islam were the two worst-offending religions, and conservative Christians hung on to their slaves for the longest. China never ordained slavery, and the Buddhist Emperor Wang Mang was "probably the first recorded ruler to abolish the slave trade". There are some early anti-slavery thinkers, such as the pagan Zeno's Stoics (342-270BCE), but as there are so few anti-slavery movements until much later, this page simply concentrates on the movements that existed at the time when the major slave trades of the world ceased to operate.

And added a bit:

6.4. Christian Pro-slavery

Christians with vested interests justified slavery on account of their religion although the Bible is much less openly embracing of slavery than the Qu'raan. Christian arguments were used such as slavery facilitated the evangelizing of slaves, that black couldn't be saved anyway, and that certain Biblical stories made blacks out to be inferior and cursed by god - although no scholars nowadays interpret these passages in this way, at the time, they did. Bishops and Monks provided some of the arguments that were used all over to justify the ownership of slaves. The fact that god-worship does not lead to better morals in society is one of the factor that leads skeptical and atheist thinkers such as Victor Stenger to conclude that God doesn't exist:
Jesus had many opportunities to disavow slavery. He never did. St. Paul reaffirms the practice: "Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect" (Titus 2:9).

Prior to the Civil War, the Bible was widely used to justify slavery in the United States. Baptist leader and slave owner Richard Furman (d. 1825) laid the foundation for the biblical arguments that would be made in support of slavery leading up to the Civil War. While president of the State Baptist Convention, Furman wrote to the governor of South Carolina, "The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example". [...]

While Christians in the South held onto their slaves as long as they could, secular humanist Richard Randolph of Virginia began freeing his in 1791. Popes and other fathers of the Catholic Church owned slaves as late as 1800. Jesuits in colonial Maryland and nuns in Europe and Latin America owned slaves. The Church did not condemn slavery until 1888, after every Christian nation had abolished the practice.

"God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist" by Prof. Victor J. Stenger (2007)

Current Music: "Rot v1.0" by SITD

16th February 2010

7:56pm: The Crucifixion Story of Christianity: Did Jesus Die for Our Sins?
I have rewritten large chunks of "The Crucifixion Facade" by Vexen Crabtree (2002). I've rewritten the central analogy about the Christian story of God's plan for salvation, highlighting the absurd nature of the whole plan, check it out:

God makes the rules of the Universe. Adam and Eve sinned: We suffer for it. This is God's rule. He then creates a Son, lets it be murdered in a brutal way, so that we no longer suffer the Original Sin. It would have been much more logical if God simply never allowed us to inherit the sins of Adam and Eve. God makes the rules... then creates more suffering (of Jesus) in order to repeal one of his own rules? It is a contradiction, and a moral absurdity, and therefore can't be true of a perfect, moral or just God.

An analogy can be used to explain the fall of man and the salvation offered by God's plan for Jesus. Each successive part of the story is less moral than the version before it:

  1. You have slipped, and are hanging from a mountain ledge. A man sees your predicament and pulls you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.</p>

The next version introduces the idea that you have to 'accept' Jesus as your saviour before God will save you:

  1. You have slipped, and are hanging from a mountain ledge. A man sees your predicament and tells you he can save you, if you admit Him as your savior. When you do, He pulls you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.</p>

The next version introduces the idea that God created the system of original sin ('the fall') in the first place, and makes us subject to it:

  1. You're on a mountain ledge, when the man pushes you off. You have no chance except to grab onto the ledge. He tells you he can save you, if you admit Him as your savior. When you do, He pulls you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.</p>

And the final story of Christian salvation introduces the idea of the crucifixion of Jesus to atone for our sins:

  1. You're on a mountain ledge, when the man pushes you off. You have no chance except to grab onto the ledge. The man is holding baby Jesus in his arms. He tells you he can save you, if you admit Him as your savior. When you do, the man throws the child over the edge so he can then pull you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.</p>

There is no reason to throw the child over the cliff in order to save mankind. None at all... God can just save us, even if its son never existed. Some argue that it was necessary because of the laws of the Universe, that a sacrifice had to be made. However... who made the laws of the Universe? God! [...]

Submitting to such a monstrous scheme is to condone its immorality, to sacrifice our morals too, along with our dignity. We are granted knowledge between good and evil... and I know an evil scheme when I see one! If I am a selfish person, I would do anything to attain heaven... but if I am a moral person, I cannot accept God's scheme as portrayed by Christian beliefs.

Current Music: "Be Me" by Ayria
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