One of many ways the old shamen and priests had of foreseeing the future. They would kill an animal and spread their entrails out to read what was going to occur.
It was a profession that took guts.
This practice still goes on. There’s loads of ways, crystal balls, tea leaves, crows, you name it; any weird way of hoodwinking the public or raising your status as a soothsayer.
In Peru if you get ill the shaman makes you sleep with a guinea pig. In the morning they kill the guinea pig and examine its guts. They look for signs of disease in the belief that your sickness will have magically been transmitted to the guinea pig.
I might add that you have to pay for this service. It doesn’t come cheap. Shamen are important people. They charge a lot.
An epiphany is a sudden realisation or vision that makes things clear and leads you down another path.
I had an epiphany. When I was young I went through that adolescent period of looking for meaning in the world. I wanted to find my purpose, to understand and become wise. I studied the religions, got into Buddhism, and wanted to believe in magic. I linked in all those coincidences and unlikely happening and found plausible spiritual reasons for things. Then I had an epiphany and realised that it was all a lot of wishful thinking and plausible gobble-de-gook. I never looked back.
This need to understand the purpose of everything, find the meaning, and have a personal goal is nothing more than a product of our psychology. It has made us extremely successful in dealing with predators, prey and natural phenomena that has enabled our survival on this planet but it has its limits. We look for patterns, meaning, reasons and love solving problems. It is very good for hunting and gathering but when applied to infinity and subjects as immense as the universe or life it is not so useful. It leads us into superstition and religion like some pigeon pecking at a disc in Skinner’s laboratory. We mistake coincidences for connections and become superstitious. We can’t help it. It’s in our nature. First step to rid ourselves of this scourge is to recognise it.
The idea of esoteric is that there is a mystical element to things that lie within. This suggests a greater meaning to things on some spiritual level.
I am distinctly unesoteric.
I see esoteric as replacing the unknown with mumbo-jumbo. The mumbo-jumbo does not explain the unknown but conveniently kicks it down the road. The universe came from nothing. No it didn’t – god made it. See. We invented something even more esoteric (where did god come from? How was something powerful enough to create universes from nothing created?) than the unknown and some of us are satisfied with this new answer. I’m not.
Ethics is the study of moral philosophy. I am greatly in favour of ethics. In my view morality has nothing to do with any supernatural fiction. It is the result of clear thinking. There are things that we intrinsically know are good and things that we intrinsically know are bad. This is a result of our social evolution, intelligence, inbuilt compassion, and ability to rationalise. Our natural empathy enables us to see what has a detrimental effect on others and what has a positive effect. We are happier when we live in peace, harmony and friendship. We are unhappy when we are in conflict, aggression and violence.
With the application of our empathy and intelligence it is not beyond our wit to devise a moral code that gives individuals their rights and freedoms without restricting the rights of others; a moral code that eliminates cruelty, exploitation and violence. We do not need any tablets of stone to do this. This has not been generated by some make-believe pixie. This is fundamental to the Human condition – a product of intelligence and understanding. Happiness, smiles and cuddles are good. Pain, violence, fear and hatred are bad. I could go on. There is a sound reason behind it. Things that make us feel good are good. Things that make us feel bad are bad. We make laws and codes around this. At our best we are awesome.
The foundation of this secular basis for an overarching code of morality that should inform all our laws and freedoms is enshrined in the UN charter of Human Rights.
Let’s jettison religion and start building on what we do best – using our intelligence to make the world better, more tolerant and more caring! Amen!
A Eulogy is a tribute to someone who is dead. It is a great idea to celebrate someone’s life. It is good for all their friends and relatives. The only sad thing is that the focus of the celebration is not there to hear it. I like celebrations!
A eunuch is a castrated man. There is a history of castration in religion. In the early church there was some who chose castration to aid celibacy. This is all part of the christian church’s passionate hatred of sex. This repressive hatred has resulted in centuries of guilt and messed up sex lives.
Castration was also used on choirboys so that their voices did not break. I cannot believe that they would have consented to this. Even if they did they were not of an age to fully understand what they were signing up to. It’s another example of child abuse so prevalent in the christian church and other Abrahamic religions.
Eunuchs historically were used to look after harems and also had roles as guards and in the army.
You can’t help thinking that a little bit of selective castration might have made the world a better place. I’ve got a list.
I fear religion makes eunuchs of us all. Fortunately some people throughout history have had the balls to stand up and say what they think. Unfortunately most of them have been murdered by their respective religions for daring to speak out.
Evangelism is a vicious mixture of brain-washing and racism. The idea behind evangelism being to undermine whatever beliefs other people might have and, usually through fear, bribes or threats, bring them round to your way of believing.
Evangelists start with the arrogant belief that they have a religious message that is more important than that of anybody else. It is their task to take that message out to everyone else, inform them that whatever they believe is wrong and if they don’t come round to their way of thinking there will be dire consequences.
They have, throughout history, regarded other races as savages who required civilising. By civilising they mean coercing into their way of dressing, behaving and worshipping.
Evangelists often pretend to befriend or offer assistance in order to gain purchase.
Evangelists like to get out to 3rd world countries where they can daunt the population with technology; where they can offer education; where they can offer health care, all as a ploy to undermine their culture and convert them to their brand of superstition. It is a shameless scam.
Evangelists like to ‘get them young’, before their brains have developed and they are able to question, young minds being particularly susceptible so that their poison can be carefully inserted through lies and claims of wisdom. The belief is that once the ideas have become entrenched they are caught for life.
Evangelists often play on people’s fears and prey on the weak and helpless.
Evangelists set out to destroy a people’s culture and replace it with their own brand of shoddy superstition.
This benevolent assistance was what they brought to Tierra Del Fuego in Argentina. The island was home to half a million natives all living happily naked and feeding on walrus and seals. The missionaries came, made the natives dress, banned sex (including the missionary position) and killed all the wildlife. The natives starved and died of hypothermia from waterlogged clothing and now the last one has just died and they are no more. But at least their non-existent souls were saved!
Whatever form of benevolent assistance an evangelist might appear to be offering you can rest assured that the true intent is to get to people’s minds and convert them.
I don’t care if they really feel they are doing right and saving souls; it is evil. They should keep their noses out of other people’s business.
I am not sure if you have noticed but I have a pretty low opinion of evangelism.
Strangely the church does not believe in evolution yet, even a cursory glance at history shows that it has itself evolved. It used to burn people that were heretical enough to say that the Earth moved round the sun. They used to believe the earth was flat and you’d fall off the edges, heaven was above and hell was below, the stars were holes where God’s light leaked through from heaven, that the rest of the universe didn’t exist. They were amazingly ignorant. These so called heresies are now accepted as true and have been incorporated into church dogma.
I don’t think anybody expects British coal to break through into satan’s domain or NASA to invade heaven. We’ve moved on. The dogma of the past is quietly shelved and new dogma adopted. Infallible popes discover they were wrong but never apologise to the ashes of the tortured.
Yet religions tend to want to dwell in the past. The sad thing is that that’s how the church wants to keep it – back in the age of ignorance when people couldn’t challenge their doctrine. They want us back in the dark ages where everything was simple. Look at the stultifying effect of islam. They fight any change. They still go around in primitive costume as if it was somewhere in the mid 1500s.
Yet the christian church has grudgingly adapted their dogma to fit perceive knowledge. The church still believes that god made the world in seven days. They now believe he planted the fossils in the rocks to confuse us, likewise with carbon dating. For some obscure reason he playing around with the radioactive carbon isotopes to throw us off the scent. Why would he do that? Just so he could condemn a whole lot more of us to everlasting torture? – Nice bloke!
Many indoctrinated, ill-educated Americans still believe this rubbish. They still think people walked around with dinosaurs and every living thing was placed on Earth ready-made. They deny genetics and the whole realms of Biology and Geology that say otherwise and pay lip service to it.
The reality is that life is an accident. It is staggeringly incredible but given an infinite system it had to happen somewhere. Indeed the almost impossible will have happened an infinite number of times in an infinite system. The problem we have with our tiny brains is in understanding the huge size of the numbers involved.
Having been spontaneously formed life then evolved into all the myriad of forms we see today. This is no accident. It is natural selection. It just takes billions of years.
That might upset a lot of people who, because of our limited intelligence, find that hard to comprehend. They also don’t like the idea of their being no purpose to life.
That’s how it is.
Making up stuff like god’s ultimate plan, which we can’t understand, does not make it better.
Lazing by fountains waited on by virgins may be nice to contemplate but that does not make it real. The idea of singing in heavenly choirs forever is pretty horrifying and reincarnation is a cop out.
No there was no creation. God didn’t do it. It happened spontaneously. There is no purpose.
It’s time we grew up and dealt with it.
If we were to start applying the same reasoning this means that it will inevitably have happened elsewhere in the universe. However, given the unbelievable distances involved we are unlikely to ever find out about them and almost certainly won’t be able to make contact unless, by pure chance, there are some very close in our own little arm of the Milky Way.
So all those ultra-keen evangelists, eager to convert aliens to the ways of medieval superstition, can take your spacesuits off and put a halt to building your rockets. Your services are not required. You’ve done enough harm already.
Hopefully, by the time we contact alien life we’ll have evolved into more rational people or the aliens will be superior enough to put us right.
This was another great invention of the Catholic Church. Supposedly at the last supper, after he had been betrayed, Jesus was eating and drinking with his mates. He is reported to have said something along the lines that his apostles should eat the bread as it represented his body and drink the wine which represented his blood. You know the sort of things you say when you’ve got a bit squiffy? The church took this on and developed it into the idea of transubstantiation.
The Priest says mass and blesses the wine and bread which is transubstantiated into the actual body and blood of Jesus. Now I’ve watched closely and it still looks like bread and wine to me.
I don’t believe it.
Religion uses whatever tactic it can to play with your head. But cannibalism is a bit much even if it is only symbolic.
The Catholic Church can excommunicate you if you break the rules. This stops you participating of the Eucharist or confession. The end result of that is that, as a sinner, you are doomed to hell.
By writing, or even thinking, this I am probably automatically excommunicated. I wouldn’t notice as I don’t go to church, have never taken the Eucharist or confessed my billions of sins.
I can be put back on the good path by repenting but I have no intention of doing so.
Oh well – at least it will be warm.
Christians and Jews believe exodus is the Story of Moses leading the Israelites out of persecution in Egypt on a trip through the wilderness to Canaan.
A nice little tale but there is no evidence of this actually having taken place. Historians have taken the view that it was probably based on much earlier writings and was used symbolically to support the belief the supernatural, fictitious fairy, chose the jews as his chosen people. That is what the early jewish cult leaders wanted the acolytes to believe. It gave the followers a sense of importance that was psychologically very appealing.
In other words even the scholars think it is crap.
I’ve been to Palestine and looked over the land from mount Ararat. It’s actually not that big an area. I find it hard to imagine anyone getting lost and wandering aimlessly around. Jesus must have had trouble finding a bit of wilderness far enough away to be completely secluded for forty days and nights.
Bob Marley did a good song about the Rastafarian belief of a different exodus. According to Rastafarian belief all the black people in the world should pack up and head off back to Ethiopia. That would be an immense shock for a great number of them who have become quite partial to western lifestyles, particularly as there would be standing room only!
These are not at all the same as the charming little winged creatures of Victorian fairy-tales. They are described differently in different parts of Europe. Sometimes winged and little, sometimes beautiful and human size, sometimes large and Troll-like.
They were often vicious, malicious and plain nasty and had to be placated with all sorts of rites. No little Tinkerbelle’s here.
You have to remember that Europe was heavily wooded and quite dangerous. Not at all like it is now. There were wolves, bears and wild boar. The woods were treacherous places. Communities were often huddled in little clearings without satellite TV. In the darkness they heard things and half saw things in the twilight shadows. They had plenty of scary time to mull it over. It’s no wonder their imaginations ran riot. Then, when they started exchanging their tales and embellishing them they reinforced one another until they believed it themselves.
Boogiemen, trolls, orcs and fairies, imps, goblins and vampires. You can’t fault human imagination, can you?
Fakirs are so-called holy men, ascetics who travel around preaching islam or hinduism and living off alms. They practice controlling their metabolism and some are famous for feats of great control such as lying on a bed of nails or being buried alive and surviving.
Some people will do anything to make a living particularly if it avoids the drag of a nine to five existence.
They were superseded by travelling circuses but some still survive in rural India.
A fallacy is something that is completely false such as the whole concept of religion and the evil of superstition.
Billions of people have had their lives ruined; billions of people have been tortured to death, whole societies have been strangled, all in the name of a primitive, illogical untruth.
Fantastic has two meanings. It can be used to describe something, such as a religion, as being so far-fetched as to be unbelievable i.e. – the result of fantasy.
It can also be used as a word of ecstatic exclaim as when the scourge of religion has finally been eradicated and everyone is free of the yoke of superstition. That would be fantastic.
If you want something, and you have to give something up in order to get it, it makes it all the more important. It’s like going to the top of a mountain by cable-car or the hard way by walking. The views are all the better if you’ve put in the leg work.
That is why religions make so many demands. You have to pray at five in the morning and twenty times during the day, facing west, standing on your head while reciting the entire scriptures from memory. It shows god how much you care. You have to go on pilgrimage swimming the Atlantic and circumnavigating the world twenty times before arriving at the magic rock on top of the magic mountain. Then god’ll believe you really are worth bothering with. If you don’t do it right god’ll not like you.
Fasting is one of these rituals.
It works on the psychological principle that the more you have to work at something, the more you invest in it; the more you convince yourself that it is not baloney. They get you to invest until you can’t admit it’s bollocks, because you’ve committed so much to it. You’ve given too much of your time and effort to pull out now. ‘You mean I spent my entire youth learning the Koran/Torah, got up in the middle of the night to pray, starved myself to death and it’s a pile of bollocks? I can’t believe that!
You may not be prepared to believe that but it’s true!
Fate describes a predestined course. Some people believe the whole of their life is mapped out by fate.
Nothing I can say will change their mind! It was ordained. It’s in the cards, written in the stars.
They’re welcome to it. In my life, I decide.
Now it’s good to get to something that I can believe in. Father Christmas, St Nicholas or Santa Claus, as he is sometimes known, is real. I know that for a fact because he used to come down my chimney and bring me presents on Christmas day when I was a kid. He drank the sherry, ate the biscuits and may or may not have snogged Mum.
That degree of evidence is as substantial as any that I’ve had the fortune to discover regarding any other aspects of religion.
We have the whole mythology of Santa. It comes straight out of the Nordic shaman tradition with the magic mushroom trappings. The red and white represents the cap of the Amanita muscaria mushroom. It contains two psychotropic substances – atropine and muscarin. Both can kill you. Atropine speeds the heart up. Muscarin slows it down. Taken together they hopefully balance up. The mushroom causes a strong psychedelic experience hence the shaman winging through the tree-tops on his magic sledge in search of truth and the wonderful presents he brings back to you (presents of truth and wisdom from the ‘other world’).
That’s religion is a nutshell!
In Greek mythology Charon the Ferryman rows you across the river Styx to Hades.
I think that sums up the limitations of writing about the fictitious supernatural. The imagination can only be based on the technology of the time. Just think how much more convincing it would have been if Charon powered across on an antigravity cushioned fusion driven sleek little space craft. Or even shot you off down a wormhole to some distant planet. That would have been much more impressive. But no, the primitive minds had not yet devised Sci-fi and had no concept of spacecraft, wormholes or even planets. Their imagination was limited to rivers, ferries and ferrymen. Ho hum.
You put pennies on a dead person’s eyes so that they can pay the ferryman. If you go empty-handed he might not take you across; then where would you be? (In actual fact the pennies were used to hold the eyelids down until rigor mortis set in as it was a bit disconcerting having dead people staring at you!)
With a population of seven billion and climbing Charon’s bound to be one hell of a busy man. When we’ve finally destroyed the planet and everyone dies off at once – like has happened with millions of highly abundant species before (ammonites, trilobites, and dinosaurs to name a few) he’ll have one hugely busy week and then he can put his feet up and read a few good books. I wonder if he’ll get round to reading this? Hi – Mr Charon. I don’t believe we’ve met.