Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

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!

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Thursday, May 10th, 2012

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.
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Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

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)
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Monday, April 18th, 2011

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)
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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

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".
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Thursday, February 25th, 2010

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)

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Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

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.

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Friday, November 27th, 2009

Animal Ritual Sacrifirces and Kosher & Halal Food

I've added a few research studies to "Animal Sacrifice and Blood Rituals in Traditional World Religions and Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree (2008). The introduction to the text reads:

World religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism all embody a traditional and sometimes bizarre set of animal sacrifice rituals in their holy texts. These practices, despite being borderline barbaric and not in keeping with modern ideas of animal welfare, are still in use today by religious communities all over the world, including in the most modern countries. Although it might seem reasonable in the West to allow butchers to sell halal food, at the core of this familiar label is weird ritualistic behaviour that belongs in the dark ages. The ideals of pluralism have blinded us to the stark reality that some religious practices are simply unacceptable. Animal rights campaigners have joined forces with moral activists to try and curb religious ritual slaughter of animals. The general public associate blood rituals involving animals with Satanism, not realizing that they were all invented and are still practiced by mainstream religions - and that Satanism does not involve animal sacrifice. We compare scriptures below and look at some of the gory and shocking rituals that God directly asks people to do in the Jewish Scriptures / Old Testament. As modern governments continue to legislate against cruelty to animals, we will find that it is the world's mainstream religions' adherents who retreat to shady basements and hidden locations to perform secret rituals to kill animals, rather than Satanists or Pagans.

The studies include definitive proof that animals feel pain during religious ritual sacrifices when preparing Halal and Kosher food for Jews and Muslims. Stunning stops animals suffering completely, and it has been proven that stunning does not hinder blood draining.
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Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Child Abuse: Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi defends the Catholic Church at the Human Rights Council

I have added a serious new part to my page "Child Abuse by Christian Priests: Horror, Paedophilia and the Clergy" by Vexen Crabtree (2009):

The Human Rights Council of the United Nations met in Geneva on 2009 Sep 22, where the Catholic Church was challenged over its response to its child abuse horrors. The Vatican's official UN observer was present, Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi. This religious body's presence at the UN HRC is nowadays matched by the non-religious secular representative of atheism and suchlike, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, who in this instance was Mr Keith Porteous Wood, who is also the director of the UK's National Secular Society, a body that lobbies for politics and religion to be kept seperate.

Keith Porteous Wood set the context by recalling that in 1990 "the Holy See acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It submitted its first and only report in 1994 - about which CRC expressed several areas of concern. But since then - nothing". The RCC has breached five of its Articles. Some of the most serious complaints which he then iterated were that the Church had not taken claims of child abuse seriously, had not acted on cases that were clearly within its power to act upon, had accused many victims of making up stories and has moved offenders to one place to another instead of reporting them to authorities as instructed to do.

Bishop Silvano Maria Tomasi's reply contained some quite odd reasoning. Some of his arguments were that actually, homosexuals were to blame, that abuse has occurred in other institutions too, not just in the Catholic Church, and that the church has acted on at least two occasions by issuing statements to its priests. Probably as a result of continued revelations of cover-ups and scandals, the Archbishop also mentions that the Catholic Church, in its second report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, will devote an entire paragraph to the problem of child abuse by the clergy. I hope it is a truly efficiently-written paragraph, as I do know how busy the Church is tackling other problems, such as the evils of contraception. The Vatican's defence of child abuse by its staff rests on a few further points that Archbishop Tomasi raises:

  • Most cases of child abuse are by relatives of the child in question. Also, pupils in public schools are also given 'unwanted sexual attention' by staff.
  • Protestant Churches in the USA have more cases of child abuse by its clergy than do Catholics.
  • Also, Jews have a higher rate of child abuse too.
This appalling and dismissive response not only misses the facts - the Archbishop was called to defend the Vatican against claims it had breached 5 Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but instead spent most his time pointing out that Catholic priests were not the only ones at it. Not only that, but his comparison was misleading as, as the IHEU pointed out, there are far more Protestants in the USA than there are Catholics. When I first estimated that 3% of Christian priests were involved in recurring cases of child abuse, I thought that this number might be too horrible to be true. The Archbishop, however, actually agreed:
From available research we now know that in the last fifty years somewhere between 1.5% and 5% of the catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse cases.
Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi (2009)
I am quite sure that the Archbishop, given his other dismissive defences, is himself repeating a conservative claim of the numbers of clergy involved, and I suspect with horror that the number might therefore be over five percent.

Something which highlights the odd and elusive arguments of the Archbishop, is the response of a Rabbi as reported in The Guardian:

"Representatives from other religions were dismayed by the Holy See's attempts to distance itself from controversy by pointing the finger at other faiths. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, head of the New York Board of Rabbis, said: "Comparative tragedy is a dangerous path on which to travel. All of us need to look within our own communities. Child abuse is sinful and shameful and we must expel them immediately from our midst.""

His condemnation of child abusers is clear and his comment is directed solely at those who commit such crimes. He didn't pass the buck, play down the problem or indicate that homosexuality was the real problem, as opposed to paedophile priests. His quick response shames the Archbishop's politics and games.

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Friday, February 27th, 2009

The Progression of Paganism into Early Christianity

I have added the following text to "Historical Christianity: Theologian's Explanations of Progression from Paganism to Christianity" by Vexen Crabtree (2003):

The fact that many pagan religions had many of the same dates, beliefs and practices as Christians led later Christians to denounce them as 'satanic imitations'. Theologians made the famous argument that the Devil had created these pagan religions so that people would think that Christianity was just a developed copy of them. The Cardinal Newman argued that (be it God or Satan's fiat) these pagan religions merely prepared people to accept Christianity. In other words, god made pagan religions in order to teach people Christianity, before revealing actual Christianity.

To Newman, 'Pagan literature, philosophy and mythology were but a preparation for the Gospel.' His Protestant counterpart, Bishop Westcott of Durham, praised Greek thought for representing several stages in the unfolding of divine purpose. Gladstone determined 'to prove the intimate connection between the Hebrew and Olympian revelations', and told the House of Commons that Greek mythology had prepared minds for some of Christ's teachings. Kingsley agreed that it contained essential lessons in the human relationship with the divine.

"The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft" by Prof. R. Hutton (1999)


Unfortunately, it seems that all such arguments are only half-truths. If there is a progression of human belief, then it implies that Christianity is itself not the final truth. Islam, for example, claims to be host to the teachings of the prophet that followed on from Jesus. If this progressive march continues, then Christianity itself may well just be a stepping-stone for another religion.
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Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

The Pro-Blasphemy Position

Blasphemy is required to weed out people who would restrict our speech, not for fear of us insulting people, but for us questioning concepts.

Vexen Crabtree

I have rewritten "The Pro-Blasphemy Position: Satanism in Action!" by Vexen Crabtree (2000)
  1. The Positive Reasons to Intentionally Blaspheme
  2. Reasons Why Blasphemy Laws Should Never be Enshrined in Law
  3. Satanism
  4. A Blasphemous Religion
  5. What is Blasphemy Against Satanism?
  6. The Realities of Blasphemy Laws
  7. A Religions' Territory
  8. United Kingdom's Blasphemy Laws
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Monday, July 21st, 2008

Christian abuse of minors in communities

I've added the following paragraph to my text on the sexual abuse of minors by the Christian priesthood:

"The Peacock vs. the Ostrich: Monotheist Religions and Sex" by Vexen Crabtree (2008)

"The abuse has occurred in communities large and small, in private homes and in church. In 2008, the Pope apologized in person to President Bush about the extent of the child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, and the Canadian prime minister made an official apology to his indigenous population, because "between 1870 and 1996, an estimated 150,000 indigenous children were wrenched from their homes and sent to Christian boarding schools, where many were sexually and physically abused". Not even schools have been safe from the secret violence. The worst frequency of abuse has been when Christians themselves live with other Christians, as we will see:"

The page continues: 4.2. Internal Abuse in Christian Institutions
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Sunday, February 25th, 2007

St Paul Was Converted to Christianity by a Seizure

New text on St. Paul: St Paul Was Converted to Christianity by a Seizure:

Saint Paul certainly had once an epileptoid, if not an epileptic seizure - "The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James, p35.

William James, the well-known psychologist and author on the history of religion, is convinced that St Paul's vision of Christ (his only "contact" with Jesus, ever) was a seizure (ref: Acts 9:3-9). His claim is scientifically likely and has been made by scientists and doctors many times in history4. The prominent book on brain neurology, Neuroscience states that some people have a once-in-a-life seizure that can include visual hallucinations. In the general (non-epileptic) population, it occurs in 7 to 10 percent of people's lives5.

(References exist on the page linked)
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