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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Truly Sacred Scripture

1. a. A sacred writing or book.
b. A passage from such a writing or book.
2. The sacred writings of the Bible. Often used in the plural. Also called Holy Scriptures.
3. A statement regarded as authoritative.
What is a sacred or holy scripture? Hundreds of millions of people around the world hold sacred the Bible, the Koran, the Dhammapada, the Vedas, Puranas and many other texts that are considered to be "divinely inspired" in some way or another. Countless people claim that there is a single god somewhere "out there" who directly inspired these texts, which are therefore infallible, since this god "himself" is infallible. Others see these texts as manmade and containing errors, although they may also possess much divinely inspired wisdom. Still others consider these so-called scriptures to be entirely contrived by human beings and a reflection of human understanding, rather than divine inspiration.

What is the truth? Is a book that contains endless stories of warfare and slaughter against infidels or unbelieving nations and individuals really "holy writ?" One which dictates that there are "chosen people" who are superior to others, who may thus be unreservedly dominated and exploited? Or that human beings are revolting "sinners" who can only achieve grace by believing in a "Son of God" who was hideously tortured and murdered "for our sins?" Is this sort of "scripture" truly the most appropriate and intelligent writing the God of the cosmos could come up with?

Let us briefly examine some of what these "holy scriptures" say:
"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth." Deuteronomy 7:6
"You shall suck the milk of nations, you shall suck the breast of kings; and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." Isaiah 60:16

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but with a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy." Matthew 10:34-37

"For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the sufferings." Matthew 24:7-8

"This Book is not to be doubted.... As for the unbelievers, it is the same whether or not you forewarn them; they will not have faith. God has set a seal upon their hearts and ears; their sight is dimmed and grievous punishment awaits them." Koran 2:2-6

"God's curse be upon the infidels! Evil is that for which they have bartered away their souls. To deny God's own revelation, grudging that He should reveal His bounty to whom He chooses from among His servants! They have incurred God's most inexorable wrath. An ignominious punishment awaits the unbelievers." Koran 2:92-6
Phew! That's a whole lotta spewing. Now, of course, this collection represents only a small fraction of what is contained in those "holy texts." And, of course, there is some "good" stuff to balance it...slightly. But, again, is this type of sentiment - which permeates not only the so-called scriptures but also the ideologies themselves, oozing out of believers like some supercilious and smug sludge, heartlessly hurled at all who do not believe likewise - really the best and holiest concept in the cosmos, such that it merits the distinction of being deemed "divinely inspired" and representing the "infallible Word of God?"

Or could there be something much more enlightened that deserves to be held up in a higher sacrosanct position?
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The American Constitution may well be the "holiest of holies." It is not "infallible," nor does it address religion specifically, except for this particularly pithy amendment that is not only wholly relevant but also holy in its implications for securing liberty from religious imposition of all kinds:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
These remarks do not suggest that the constitutions of other nations are necessarily inferior or that the U.S. is flawless, but at least in this well-considered and well-written scripture - as defined by the third definition: "A statement regarded as authoritative" - there is a chance for humanity to be truly free and to reach its best.

If we were to fling open the doors of nations around the world and allow free movement in either direction, which way would most of the traffic flow? Would most people up and run towards "Oppressivestan," under the dominion of so-called holy law, or towards "Libertyland," governed by such a constitution? Think about it.

(This essay is updated and included in my book The Gospel According to Acharya S.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Afghan Convert Released, Goes Into Hiding

Ah yes, the religion of peace! Along with the violent agitation over cartoons illustrating, well, violent agitation, how much more evidence is needed to prove that the assertion about Islam being the "religion of peace" is completely false?

My article on quotes from the Koran ranks number one when the keywords "quotes on Islam," "quotes about Islam" or "quotes from the Koran" are googled. This article contains numerous Koranic scriptures calling for the death of infidels. This meme or mental conditioning is not going away anytime soon, as has been abundantly evidenced over the past several decades.

How soon we have forgotten why our airports had metal detectors installed in the first place! Does anyone remember the constant threat of hijackings perpetrated by Muslims fanatics beginning in the '70s? The assassination of Anwar Sadat (1981)? How about the Achille Lauro in 1985? Or the slaughter of tourists at Luxor in 1997? We're not talking about a new phenomenon even in the modern era - the destruction of Bengladesh is proof enough of that fact. The religion did not begin peacefully, nor has it been perpetuated peacefully.

The question is, how do we stop this destructive meme?
Afghan Convert Released, Goes Into Hiding


KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan man who had faced the death penalty for abandoning Islam for Christianity was freed from prison and went into hiding Tuesday in Kabul after Muslim clerics threatened his life. Italy said it may grant him asylum.

Abdul Rahman, 41, was released from the high-security Policharki prison on the outskirts of the capital late Monday after a court dropped charges of apostasy against him for lack of evidence and suspected mental illness. President Hamid Karzai had been under heavy international pressure to drop the case.

Muslim clerics condemned Rahman's release, saying it was a "betrayal of Islam." They threatened to incite violent protests.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Museums warned about Bible-era fakes

More frauds in the long list of biblical forgeries starting with the Bible itself, the great book of hype. An article of mine entitled, "Bone-Box No Proof of Jesus," was published in a three-part series in Secular Nation a few years ago. I also discuss forged texts, relics and other artifacts at some length in The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. Creation of such fakes has been going on since the beginning of the priesthood, with its distinct priestcraft that weaves tall tales and foists them off on the public as "history." There is nothing wrong with mythology per se - in fact, it is quite enjoyable as a magnificently colorful expression of man's tremendous creativity. There is, however, something wrong with presenting such mythology as "history," particularly when people are abusing, tormenting, torturing and killing each other over it. The fact will remain that much of the Bible is fiction, representing mummified mythology being palmed off as "history." Until humankind understands that fact, it will remain forever puerile and infantile. With the understanding of the "astrotheological" themes underlying such mythology, humanity can become mature and wise.

As concerns the "Solomon" artifact, there remains, to my knowledge, no evidence outside of the biblical texts for the existence of either the Temple or Solomon himself. If either existed, they were far less grand than depicted in the Bible.
Museums warned about Bible-era fakes

"JERUSALEM - Experts advised world museums to re-examine their Bible-era relics after Israel indicted four collectors and dealers on charges of forging items thought to be some of the most important artifacts discovered in recent decades.

"The indictments issued Wednesday labeled many such 'finds' as fakes, including two that had been presented as the biggest biblical discoveries in the Holy Land — the purported burial box of Jesus’ brother James and a stone tablet with written instructions by King Yoash on maintenance work at the ancient Jewish Temple."

Israel accuses 4 of forging trove of biblical artifacts

"The forged items include an ivory pomegranate touted by scholars as the only relic from Solomon’s Temple, an ossuary that reputedly held the bones of James, Jesus’ brother, and a stone tablet with inscriptions on how to maintain the Jewish Temple, officials said."

Friday, March 24, 2006

My God is Bigger and Better than Yours!

This attitude is precisely what has created almost all of the murderous discord on planet Earth. "God's way is the right way" - the arrogance of such a statement is beyond the rational mind. So long as people actually believe and possess power to sway others in such a conceit - to wit, "My God is bigger and better than your god" - there will never be peace on Earth. Unfortunately, the remedy for such arrogance is so far advanced of the average human mind that we are not looking at any time soon for humankind en masse to become enlightened. In the meantime, each individual can choose to awaken his or her own true humanity by refusing to engage in and endorse the menacing mainstream religious "party lines."

Pressure Grows to Free Afghan Convert

"Rahman had 'committed the greatest sin' by converting to Christianity and deserved to be killed, cleric Abdul Raoulf said in a sermon Friday at Herati Mosque.

'God's way is the right way, and this man whose name is Abdul Rahman is an apostate,' he told about 150 worshippers."

Afghan Christian 'likely to be released soon': official

According to other news reports, many common people are calling for this man's death, in a number of vile ways. One Afghan official objected that the Afghan people cannot change their ways, and that they have for centuries insisted upon the death of apostates. Such behavior and sentiment constitute good cause for not allowing such individuals into other nations, as they could not be trusted to uphold the laws or be patriotic citizens, since they themselves have admitted that loyalty to Islam and sharia law comes first. We may not be able to deal with this lawlessness except on our own turf, and it is high time for tougher immigration laws as concerns fanatics and fundamentalists of all stripes.

Of course, it's a bit too late to deal in such a manner with most Christian and Jewish fundies and fanatics, since they already occupy these nations. However, there is absolutely no reason that Western countries need to let in other fanatics who have openly stated that their goal is to destroy the Western culture and way of life.

Perhaps there needs to be a "freethinker test" for people trying to escape the oppressive regimes, so that they may be allowed to immigrate to freer nations. Just a few questions to determine whether or not the person can be trusted to be a sane individual:

1. Do you believe that human beings have the right to believe in whatever they want to, so long as it harms or imposes upon no one else?
2. Do you believe that women are human beings who have the right to move freely in public, without covering their faces and/or hair and without deserving to be raped merely because they are out without male supervision?

And so on. It wouldn't be too much of a burden to inquire whether or not people think other human beings should be murdered because of their particular gender, belief or lack of belief.

Afghan Christian 'likely to be released soon': official

"KABUL (AFP) - An Afghan Christian facing possible execution for converting from Islam was likely to be released from jail 'soon,' a senior government official said following huge Western pressure over the case.

'He is likely to be released soon,' the official said, adding there would be a top-level meeting on the matter Saturday.

Abdul Rahman was arrested two weeks ago under Islamic Sharia law and faced a possible death sentence in a case that has attracted widespread condemnation, especially from the United States."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

New Wineskins, Old Vinegar: Mankind Doomed to Repeat Mistakes

An article in National Geographic from September 1972 regarding the then newly-formed nation of Bangladesh illustrates how little the world's situation has changed over the past 30+ years. The story of Bangladesh is simply appalling. It begins centuries ago, with the Bengali people being murderously ping-ponged back and forth by whatever forces trudged across their path. While at one point Bangladesh - an area roughly the size of the American state of Wisconsin and surrounded by India, with Pakistan on the west, Nepal and Bhutan to the north, and Burma/Myanmar on the east - was largely composed of Hindus and Buddhists, in 1202 it was invaded and bent under the sword of Islam by the Turkomans. After the horrendous disaster in November 1970 of a cyclone and tsunami wiped out an estimated 600,000 people, in 1972 civil war erupted after minority Urdu-speaking Pakistanis attempted officially to impose their rule over the far more populous Bengalis. The atrocities that followed included not only an estimated 3 million deaths but also approximately 200,000 rapes, vicious acts that created thousands of unwanted pregnancies and tremendous disgrace for the women involved.

Despite these casualties and the millions of refugees by the hand of man and God, it was estimated in 1972 that 75 million people remained in Bangladesh, a density of 1,300 individuals per square mile, in a country of just 55,126 square miles and comprising the 8th largest population in the world. At that time, it was also estimated that the population would double within 30 years. By 2005, there were some 144 million inhabitants of Bangladesh. At the nation's formation, the per capita income was under $80 per year. Despite fervent hopes and strides made through countless donations comprising hundreds of millions of dollars, Bangladesh remains one of the poorest nations in the world. Its people work themselves to the bone at everything from farming to bike-cab driving to milling and jute-working. Its factories are jam-packed with exhausted and thin workers. And laboring children can never be exempt in the quest to keep their families fed. Also, the Bengali economy depends largely on floods that take a certain amount of casualties so the land can be replenished and the majority may live at least a bit longer.

The National Geographic article of November 1972 calls what happened to the Bengalis a "Holocaust," addressing the mind-numbing mayhem and horror that decimated villages and left mass graves for all to see. At this time, art became filled with bloody images of murder and rape; even children were encouraged in drawing contests to chronicle these horrors. This section in the Geographic states:

"Sheik Mujib's government says that three million Bengalis died between March and December 1971. The figure is probably inflated. But certainly the terrors and atrocities committed here - in Dacca [Dhaka] and all across the gentle land of rivers and marshlands - came close to genocide."

Before its blood-soaked independence - what independence has not been blood-soaked? - Bangladesh was part of Pakistan, a nation created on two sides of India, one West and one East. The West Pakistanis would not give up East Pakistan, even though the Urdu-speaking West Pakistanis constituted only 5% of the population of Bangladesh. West Pakistan subsequently unleashed another wave of violence against a people whose pre-Muslim Hindu roots remained, exemplified by their normally pacifistic behavior. It is clear that had not these people been decimated in the 13th century under the hue and cry of "convert or die!" by members of the "Religion of Peace," they would have remained Hindu or Buddhist.

Hypocritical Faith

Among the victims of the "ruthless campaign [of West Pakistan] to suppress the rebellious Bengalis" were intellectuals, political leaders and Hindus, "considered agents of India." In the midst of this horror, caused by Muslims ostensibly led by Allah, the victims sank to their knees begging mercy from the same Merciful Allah, carrying amulets containing verses from the Koran. The pathetic irony of the situation should be as obvious as that of the Christian Crusades, which employed both professionals and amateurs to massacre entire towns of equally Christian people in their ill-founded quest to conquer the "Holy Land" and secure it from the "infidels."

As reported by National Geographic, the number of Bengali women raped during this most irreligious orgy of viciousness and violence was officially estimated at 200,000. Says the Geographic: "As with most government statistics having to do with war, the number of alleged victims - 200,000 - may be exaggerated." It is important to note that it is considered "good reporting" to mention the exaggeration of the numbers involved in the Bengali "Holocaust" - to use National Geographic's term - of poor people in the East, while such a doubtful remark regarding the sacrosanct Western "Holocaust" can land a person in prison in several "civilized" countries. The Bengalis apparently do not share the irrational view forced upon the West that the attempted genocide of only one particular group, to the exclusion of the rest, may be termed "Holocaust," as the Bengalis themselves possess their own "Holocaust Museum."

Through no fault of their own, and under the eyes of the Merciful Allah, tens of thousands of Bengali women - violently and viciously raped by men claiming to be devoutly religious Muslims - were subsequently considered disgraces who had dishonored their equally devout Muslim families, and were shunned or worse.

The Urdu-speaking Pakistanis in Bangladesh ("Biharis") fared little better, as they were forced out of their homes and jobs into foul refugee camps and given no assistance from the overlord West Pakistanis who incited them to fight in the first place, serving as another example of man's capacity for injustice and treachery.

In the midst of this mess, a primitive prehistoric tribe called the "Murungs" ("Mros" or "Moorangs") managed to maintain itself. Their only wish was to be "left in peace, to follow the old traditions." As concerns the Moorangs, Geographic states:

"The Murungs fish a little in the lake. They farm, too, using the ancient slash-and-burn method of agriculture, planting seeds in hillside soil enriched with the rain-soaked ash of burnt brush. Though they believe in spirits, they have no well-defined religion, maintaining that the scriptures they were meant to follow were written on banana leaves, and that the leaves were eaten by a cow."

Thus, a simple cow has prevented these decidedly docile and peace-loving people from following the way of fiery zealots who believe in set "scriptures" as the very words or Word of God, such that their beliefs drive them to slaughter, rape and pillage other living, breathing beings in the name of their religion and God. The relaxed and happy Moorangs seem to have the right idea, thanks to the cow, who showed them that life itself was more valuable than banana-leaf "God-given" scriptures.

If the rest of the world were so enlightened, peace would finally be within our grasp. Alas, it may never be the case, as "religious" derangement continues to infect the human brain and cause its fervent believers to wantonly murder living, feeling human beings in order to protect "scriptures" better left to the cows.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Murder in the Name of God

It appears that the Afghan goverment will have to overturn the constitution put into place by the Taliban fanatics. The current constitution, based on sharia law, allows for the death of this poor sap and many others who have converted to Christianity and other faiths besides Islam. Afghanistan is already - and has been for centuries - a very harsh place that severely tries the humanity of its citizens.

It is beyond ironic that Islam calls for the death of converts to Christianity, since the two faiths are much alike. Both are Abramic religions derived from the Tenach (the so-called Old Testament); and both are totalitarian dictatorships run by an all-powerful male God. Until it was tempered by the outcry of moralists and freethinkers, Christianity repeatedly called for - and got - the blood of "infidels," little different from the Mohammedan ideology.

As concerns sharia, we will all need to be vigilant to prevent its brutal influence on our culture. There has been talk for some years now about instituting it in - of all places! - Canada, but I don't know how serious are the powers that be there. There has also been a push by small but powerful special interest groups such as Hassidic Jews to implement Noahide Laws, which call for capital punishment in many cases beyond murder. If that development ever came to pass, we would, of course, lose many of the freedoms we may currently take for granted.

Afghan prosecutors say Christian convert may be unfit to stand trial
Last Updated Wed, 22 Mar 2006 05:48:15 EST
CBC News

Afghan prosecutors say a 41-year-old man facing the death penalty for rejecting Islam and converting to Christianity may be mentally unfit to stand trial, according to a report.

* INDEPTH: Afghanistan

'We think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn't talk like a normal person,' prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari told the Associated Press.

Abdul Rahman went on trial last week in Afghanistan after being charged with rejecting Islam. He had converted to Christianity 16 years ago, but was arrested in February after his family denounced him during a custody battle.

A judge told Rahman he faces the death penalty unless he agrees to convert back to the faith in which he was raised, but on Wednesday a state prosecutor and presidential adviser said he may be unfit to stand trial.

A religious adviser to President Hamid Karzai said Rahman would undergo a psychological examination.

* FROM MARCH 21, 2006: Canada concerned over Afghan facing death for being a Christian

The case has raised international concern from Canada, the United States, Germany and Italy.

'Canada will continue to encourage the Afghan government to adhere to its human rights obligations,' Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Pamela Greenwell told Reuters on Tuesday.

Speaking with top Afghan officials in Washington Tuesday, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns also urged Afghanistan to respect freedom of religion.

The case highlights divisions between Afghan's conservative clerics and reformers.

The nation's constitution, drafted after the ultra-conservative Taliban government was forced from power four years ago, is based on Shariah law. Shariah is the legal code of Islam, based on the Qu'ran."

Monday, March 20, 2006

I Can Only Imagine God is Gay!

I don't know how many of you have heard this song, but I've heard it a bit too much. Really, I can't imagine why someone would write or sing - much less play - such a song, but it's been going on in one way or another for so long... Centuries, in fact - that it's almost something to be ignored. Except that it bludgeons us on a daily basis and is thus worthy of commentary.

This commentary is in specific response to the song "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe. Now, perhaps I am in such a cultural backwater that this ditty is rarely played elsewhere. I truly hope so! If that's the case, please allow me to reproduce here the pertinent lyrics:

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By Your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When Your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son
I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine


Okay now, I do not wish to denigrate anyone of any particular "gender inclination" or assorted state, but, oh gosh, does it not seem a bit, well, queer - that is, gay - to be singing such a love song to a man? Truly, I don't want to offend anyone, but this song - and the passion and emotion contained therein - seem a tad homoerotic, to say the least. I hope such frankness will not get me blacklisted with the Berkeley crowd. But, can we please be a bit more politically correct and culturally dignified here? Should not heterosexual men be interested in "the Goddess," rather than effeminate rabblerousing males, with or without long hair?

I can only imagine a time when men were men and women were, well, stimulated.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Cult of Christianity

I was born into a Christian world. My family is for the most part Northern European, and my genetics are traceable on my mother's side to English royalty. My genealogist buddy Don is certain that King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine are one set of my 24th great grandparents. Of course, Don is quick to point out that 100 million or so North Americans are descended from European royalty, which means that those guys were mighty busy back then! (And that Don and I are cousins, as we are to many of you reading this, but that's a subject for another post.)

My mother was raised a Baptist and later became a longtime Congregationalist. She died a Unitarian, after determining that her new local Congregational church was too harsh. My father, I'm not sure about. He didn't seem to like church, and I don't blame him. Unfortunately, my beloved father passed away when I was 26, long before I became the rankest religious philosopher of our era. I know Dad would have enjoyed my rabblerousing, and I would have felt safer on this planet if he'd been around. I didn't get mad at God when Dad died, because I wasn't a fervent believer, but I was pretty po'ed at the medical industry, which at times does not seem particularly competent.

I firmly believe that if my father had been disabused of the culturally engrained notion that we are all "born-in-sin" pieces of dog dung, he would have lived significantly longer. In retrospect, I can see that, despite his overtly agnostic position, Dad was profoundly affected by that negative conditioning, and struggled mightily with a lack of self esteem. At times he was possessed by a self loathing that spilled out beyond self and was directed at others. I know well that Dad was not alone in this perspective or behavior. Perhaps we are all prone to it. I can't conceive of anyone being immune to it, especially in a Christian culture.

One of my biggest beefs with Christianity is precisely this heinous teaching - forced into the innocent minds of countless beautiful children - that we humans are born-in-sin pieces of crap in the face of a glorious God. I find this brainwashing - or brain-dirtying, as the case may be - to be at the heart of much of the world's suffering. Whether or not this derogatory, anti-human perspective is confined to Christianity is immaterial to the present discussion, as it is within the cult of Christianity that it is most widely promulgated.

I am no Polyanna, nor do I wear rose-colored glasses, but I choose to see the beauty in the world in order to survive and thrive. Like practically everyone else, I have at times behaved badly and caused trouble in my life, albeit in a fairly mild manner. I have also been on the receiving end of a tremendous amount of grief and trauma. So, I can relate to many people's experiences. I cannot, however, understand the atrocious abuse heaped on people who do not subscribe to one religion/cult or another. Having studied in depth many of the world's religions - or mythologies, as I mostly see them - I cannot narrow down myself, my knowledge, my spirit, my intellect, my education or my integrity, to pronounce any one of them "the truth," to the exclusion of all the rest. I also perceive many of them to be cults, in both the anthropological and pejorative senses of the term. I do not comport myself by going around and threatening others to join my cult, nor do I expect others to do likewise. But they do. Oh, how they do.

For instance, for several months I have been under assault by a "good and loving" Christian who has obsessively scribbled page after page of calumny, libel and defamatory remarks about me. This disturbed person has relentlessly vilified me, even viciously attacking me and my family over horrible traumas and tragedies we have endured, making despicable commentary on these terrible and heart-breaking events. He portrays me in the most negative light possible in any instance he can find, depicting me as an evil person with sinister motives in everything I do. In fact, he speaks of me in precisely the same terms believers use for Satan, and he appears to believe that I am absolutely evil and that everything I do is evil, an evidently delusional state that insists on reducing living, breathing and feeling human beings into two-dimensional caricatures out of comic books. In reality, this person does not know me at all and is projecting Satan upon me in his delusional state. People who actually know me view me as a generally generous, benevolent, caring and loving person who goes out of her way for others. But this type of projection has happened to countless others over the centuries who have been entirely innocent of such untoward sentiments and violent charges leveled against them. It is the dualistic brainwashing of Christianity and other ideologies that has caused their persecutors to be blinded to their humanity and to fail to respect them as good and decent human beings. The bottom line is that Christianity allows for people to dehumanize and demonize others.

Moreover, in his hatred this person, who holds himself up as being righteous, has threatened to commit crimes against me. When called on his shameful and disgraceful behavior, he merely gets worse, making even more vile commentary about my person and life. He has clearly crossed the line of decency into becoming a deranged stalker who is committing hate crimes against me.

Another "good Christian" who has likewise incited hatred against me states that she would enjoy being a "fly on the wall" when God tortures me in the pits of hell. She is not alone in her hateful and sadistic sentiments, of course, as many people have expressed similar derangement towards others over the centuries. Once at a "New Age" expo, I confronted a Catholic priest who was asserting that bringing back "witch burnings" would make life better!

Why have these people been doing and saying these atrocious things to and about me? Merely because I have written books and articles daring to question whether or not Jesus Christ is as mythical as Hercules. I have studied mythology nearly all my life, and I frankly see little difference between Zeus and Hey-Zeus. Like so many others before me, I see no historical or archeological evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, and I cannot in all honesty be convinced by the gospel fable any more than I can by The Iliad or by Gulliver's Travels. It would be with gross dishonesty and a betrayal of my hard-earned education to believe in such a tale as "historical fact." Because I try to live in the realm of honesty and integrity - not always succeeding but increasingly so as I get older - and because I feel I have something to offer to the world, I have taken a strong stance and made it known.

For that position, according to "compassionate" Christians I deserve to have endless scorn and derision heaped upon me. Their behavior has, in fact, constituted psychological and emotional abuse of a high order. I have not attacked anyone personally, but they have attacked me personally, over and over again. I have been lampooned in silly and meaningless cartoons - welcome to the Big Time! I have been assailed for not answering or cursorily answering deceptive emails from fanatics trying to trap me into impugning myself or bait me into a flame war, so they could publicize the results on webpages. And I have had the most false and vicious things said about me, as well as threats to post private affairs on the internet, in an attempt to show me in the harshest light possible. None of these obnoxious individuals, of course, knows me at all. None has spent even a minute in my presence, but they nonetheless present themselves as authorities on who I am. You see, because, like you, I am a born-in-sin piece of crap. According to this belief, we have no respectable wisdom or divine spark within us. Hence, we deserve to be abused and pilloried. These folks have no intelligent response to my argument that Christ is as mythical as Hercules, who was, like Jesus, once fervently believed to have been a "real person," so they resort to ad hominems of the lowest level in order to defame me and assassinate my character. If by throwing enough mud they can succeed in destroying a doubter's good reputation, apparently in their irrational minds that somehow proves Christ existed as a human being.

Still another, well-meaning Christian friend decided she was going to make her place in heaven by "converting" me. In the first place, there is nothing to "convert." I have already been a Christian - even briefly a born-again Christian, believe it or not. I know what it means. I choose not to behave in a cultish manner by begging an invisible Jewish man in the sky, but I certainly spend a great deal of time contemplating and studying him! So, what's the difference? A little begging? Not very dignified - or effective. How does the fervent believer know that he or she is not begging the wrong invisible person? Maybe he or she should be talking to Hercules!

One day, my good-hearted Christian friend - who spent much of her life addicted to appalling street drugs, has been in the pokey and rehab, and who barely lives above subsistence level - came to me somewhat tipsy and tried to argue her case. "I love you," she gushed, "but I wish you would think like I do!"

"Why?" I replied, thinking - not unkindly - "Fat lot of good it's done you!" Perhaps she needs to think like I do, but that's not important to me, as I am not interested in "converting" anyone. If they are happy with their lives and are not abusing others, so be it. But often they are not. And frequently, religious fanatics make life miserable for the rest of us.

If a "bona fide" cult - that is, a non-mainstream one - used abusive tactics in order to "convince" or "convert" others, it would be roundly condemned and its members scrutinized for possible criminal charges. In fact, it is considered criminal - and the mark of a conman - for someone to threaten another with harm - whether it be here or in the "afterlife" - if he or she does not subscribe to the aggressor's particular religious beliefs. Yet, this behavior is precisely what "good Christians" engage in on a daily basis, if you are not a member of their cult.

And I do view Christianity as a wacky cult - how not? It teaches that there is a giant being, the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God of the cosmos, who came down to Earth as a Jewish man through the womb of a young virgin girl! How much more cultish can you get? And how is this belief system different from so-called Pagan cults, such as that revolving around Hercules of Greece? Or Osiris of Egypt? Or Krishna of India? All of these gods, and so many more, have been believed by millions to have been holy beings who walked the earth - so, what makes the Christian set of beliefs any different? Little to nothing.

We are back at square one. I cannot believe in the cult of Christ any more than I believe in the cult of Hercules. I do not abuse others who do not believe in Hercules, and I expect the same courtesy in return for not believing in the cult of Christ. What you do with your mind is up to you, but do not expect me to do the same thing. And please, do not resort to cult indoctrination tactics in order to make me believe as you do.

Friday, March 17, 2006

'South Park'-Scientology Battle Rages On

Very funny! Isaac Hayes had no problem with making big moola off South Park when it was confined to ridiculing other religions, but as soon as it stepped on the toes of Scientology - ouch! I can only wish I had the clout and power of Messrs. Stone and Parker! It's also a bit ironic that Hayes's character was constantly making sexually explicit remarks to CHILDREN, yet that apparently didn't bother Hayes. As concerns Cruise, well, having been on the receiving end of cruel ad hominem attacks, I can understand his reluctance to let the South Park boys have their way with him. I prefer to aim my ridicule at ideologies, rather than human beings.


'South Park'-Scientology Battle Rages On
By ERIN CARLSON, Associated Press Writer Fri Mar 17, 5:51 PM ET

NEW YORK - 'South Park' has declared war on Scientology. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of the animated satire, are digging in against the celebrity-endorsed religion after a controversial episode mocking outspoken Scientologist Tom Cruise was yanked abruptly from the schedule Wednesday — with Internet rumors it was covert warfare by Cruise that led to its departure.

'So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!' the 'South Park' creators said in a statement Friday in Daily Variety. 'Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies... You have obsructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!'

Internet bloggers accused Cruise of threatening to not promote 'Mission Impossible 3,' a surefire summer blockbuster, if the offending episode ran. Comedy Central is owned by Viacom, as is Paramount, which is putting out 'MI:3.'

But Cruise's representative, Arnold Robinson, told The Associated Press Friday that the mega-star made no such demands.

'Not true,' Robinson said. 'I can tell you that he never said that.'

A call by The Associated Press to a Paramount representative was not returned Friday.

The episode in question, 'Trapped in the Closet,' which first aired last November, shows Scientology leaders hailing Stan, one of the show's four devilish fourth graders, as a savior. A cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won't come out. An animated John Travolta, another famous Scientologist, enters the closet to try to get him out.

In another dig at the famously secretive religion, the credits at show's end are filled with names like 'John Smith' and 'Jane Smith.'

The battle began in earnest earlier this week when Isaac Hayes, another celebrity Scientologist and longtime show member — voicing the ladies' man Chef — quit the show, saying he could no longer tolerate its religious 'intolerance and bigotry.'

Stone and Parker didn't buy that either.

On Monday, Stone told The Associated Press, 'This is 100 percent having to do with his faith in Scientology...He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians.'

A Comedy Central spokesman said Friday that the network pulled the controversial episode to make room for two shows featuring Hayes.

'In light of the events of earlier this week, we wanted to give Chef an appropriate tribute by airing two episodes he is most known for,' the spokesman said."

Muslim's Blunt Criticism of Islam Draws Threats

Muslim's Blunt Criticism of Islam Draws Threats:
Three weeks ago, Dr. Wafa Sultan was a largely unknown Syrian-American psychiatrist living outside Los Angeles, nursing a deep anger and despair about her fellow Muslims.

"I have no choice. I am questioning every single teaching of our holy book." - DR. WAFA SULTAN

Today, thanks to an unusually blunt and provocative interview on Al Jazeera television on Feb. 21, she is an international sensation, hailed as a fresh voice of reason by some, and by others as a heretic and infidel who deserves to die.
Read the full article about this brave and important woman. Hopefully, others will follow suit, and we will see an emancipation from this fascistic fanatism like that from the tyranny of the Catholic Church in Europe. We also hope such an event will not require "the blood of martyrs!"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

British Scientist Wins Religion Prize

British Scientist Wins Religion Prize - Los Angeles Times:
"Astronomy, he said, 'breathes new life' into so many religious questions that arise from humanity's quest for meaning.... Barrow is a member of the United Reform Church, created in the 1970s by the merger of Presbyterian and Congregational traditions in Britain."
I would wager that, despite his immense erudition and cosmic meditations, Barrow does not know how close he has gotten to the astrotheological perspective! It is the contention of many thinkers over the centuries that the major myths and rituals found within mainstream religions are astrotheological in nature, which means that the central figures are not "real people" but cosmic elements, such as the sun, moon, Earth, planets, stars, constellations and so forth. It would be fabulous if someone like Barrow (although there aren't too many people like Barrow) could have such an epiphany and then come forward with it. Imagine if he were to pronounce Jesus Christ a solar myth! Somebody send him my books - quick! (Actually, he can well afford to pay for them, eh?)

Religious Dementia

More evidence of dementia in the name of religion, continually providing good reason for wanting to "eliminate our beliefs," as this statement claims "Western infidels" wish to do. One partial solution, it would seem, would be to make sure these hordes of young men are gainfully occupied. Before a nation is "liberated," would it not be a good idea to have an economic plan in place so that the occupants are not wallowing in destitution with little to do? Happy and fulfilled people generally do not behave in this manner; they cannot be lured by the promise of "heaven" in exchange for killing themselves. There is such a profound derangement being displayed here that any true solution - such as a complete psychological and sociological upheaval - may take centuries to accomplish. Another problem is the engrained cruelty and systematic abuse of children, which has the effect of creating hardened and dysfunctional adults with little reason to live. This particular issue does not get enough attention.


Purported Taliban Statement Issues Warning

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A statement attributed to Taliban leader Mullah Omar said Thursday that large numbers of Afghans were signing up as suicide bombers and that an offensive in the coming months would cause many casualties among foreign and Afghan troops....

"Young Afghans are coming to mujahedeen camps in large numbers to enroll their names for suicide attacks," the statement said.

"This year, with the beginning of summer, Afghan soil will turn red for the crusaders and their puppets, and the occupiers will face an unpredictable wave of Afghan resistance."...

Thursday's statement predicted that 2006 will be "the year of success and victory for Muslims."

"Those who have attacked the holy soil of Islam and their puppets will face shameful defeat because Muslims now understand that Western infidels want to eliminate our beliefs, soil and culture and make us their puppets," the statement said.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Is the Universe Intelligently Designed?

"Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a flea, and yet he will be making gods by the dozens." -Montaigne

"A one-planet deity has for me little appeal." -Harlow Shapley
Perhaps I am missing something in my lack of formal training in theology. I am not provincial enough to be considered a homespun philosopher. Yet, it appears to me that the Great Debate over "Intelligent Design" is in reality a non-issue.

In the first place, I do not see the harm in teaching children that billions of people in numerous cultures around the globe for thousands of years have believed in a god or goddess of some sort or another. In fact, I consider such a teaching to be crucial to a proper understanding of life on Earth. I would also teach that the concept of God is rejected by many people as well, and that still others may never even consider it. Further, I would emphasize that the concept of God has widely varied throughout the world and over time, with gods and goddesses of all variety being believed in and beseeched in numerous manners. And I would point out that, despite the irrational and megalomaniacal fanaticism that says otherwise, no one culture, civilization, people or individual has possessed the entire truth or the "correct" religious belief.

In other words, the claim that Christianity, for example, is "God's ultimate truth" is wrong. Period. Nor are Islam or Judaism. With Buddhism and Hinduism there is usually not such fanaticism in the first place - although it has been there on occasion enough to leave bloody trails from these two faiths as well. I do not believe that atheism is wholly correct either, which brings me back to my point that the furor over the idea of Intelligent Design seems to be a waste of time.

Maybe I am naive in my refusal to see anything complicated about the issue of Intelligent Design, from whatever perspective, whether pro or con. I see no need for a complex Gnostic-like explanation for existence, with levels and beings of all manner beyond our mundane dimensions. I do not find it necessary to explain the universe in terms of an overarching God in command of invisible legions of angels, archangels, devils and demons. Nor do I find that entertaining such notions - or, gadzooks! even believing in them for some period of time - is going to destroy my mind. In reality, contemplating such notions as the myriad imaginary friends and foes humans have come up with over the millennia can be fun, amusing and, at times, soothing. And the opposite - to wit, the disbelief or lack of belief in such theological things - can be extremely liberating mentally and emotionally. Disbelief certainly should not be viewed as "evil" or "diabolical," nor is it appropriate to abuse unbelievers because of it. Frankly, I see no harm in knowing about all of these concepts - or in teaching all of them to our children. To me, it's all art, a vast canvas filled with a riotous explosion of color. Indeed, the no-god side of reality could be perceived as artless, drab, dreary or gray. Or, it could reveal the more subtle and exotic colors of nature.
My own mind is not conflicted by the acceptance that the human mind in general has the capacity to be theistic, monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheistic, henotheistic and atheistic all at the same time. I am not at all bothered by my insight into or acknowledgement of that all-encompassing concept. Au contraire, I find it extraordinarily liberating, thrilling in fact, to simply accept it and not to agonize over whether or not there is a God, or Intelligent Designer behind the design. Perhaps my own thinking could best be described as Taoist, if a intelligent designer label my mind must wear. This understanding, or recognition of this wide-ranging concept, thus frees my mind from the debate as to whether or not there is an intelligent designer. Not only do I believe, but I know, that there is one. But this intelligent designer to me is not a person, i.e., a "god" or "goddess." It is simply a mechanism inherent in the design itself, such as the DNA of a cell.

Does DNA have a personality? Not according to the strict scientific definition. Does personality exist in the cosmos? Certainly, but that fact does not mean there is a giant "man" somewhere "out there" who is designing, creating and orchestrating the whole of creation. The fact is that there are animate and inanimate objects in the universe, and the totality incorporates all of them. The cosmos, then, contains personality and no personality. In like kind, any intelligent designer, such as DNA, cannot and never will be a "person," other than as it is within us, as persons. In this regard, we are, in a sense, self-willed. Again, the intelligent designer is simply inherent in the design itself.

Even if we were to call this inherent intelligent designer "God," it would still not be a person, giant or otherwise, because "God" by the very definition of the word is all-encompassing, and that means "he" would possess a mechanical nature in addition to a myriad of personalities and colors that we could ascribe to "him." Being the totality, "God" would also be of both genders, as well as neutral. In other words, "God" cannot be real in the sense believed by most people because by the very definition of the word a truly honest and profound assessment would need to see every characteristic conceivable by the human mind, including all types of personalities, as well as the total lack thereof. Thus, "God" is not a person but is all persons, not a reality but all realities. And, there is also No God.


Whether you see "God is now here" or "God is nowhere," or both, is entirely up to you. It all depends on the perspective you are free to choose in any given moment. And to have the choice in that perspective - to believe or not to believe - is the ultimate liberation.

There is a Buddhist tale in which a fervent believer approaches the great sage and says, "Speak to me of God, O Great One, as I have always known that He exists." Buddha looks at the acolyte and curtly replies, "God is not." The believer, horrified, runs quickly away, and word shortly spreads that Buddha is an atheist. An atheist excitedly comes to Buddha and says, "O Wise One, I have heard that you do not believe in God. I have always known that God does not exist." Buddha sharply retorts, "God is." Likewise, the disappointed atheist scurries away. Buddha's disciples approach him, confused, and ask why he has told the one that God is not and the other that God is. Buddha then replies, "Both had only one side of the coin and needed to see the whole."

"Neti, neti" - Neither this nor that.

To me, the bottom line on the issue of Intelligent Design is not whether or not there is a designer. As far as I'm concerned, there is, but it can be purely mechanical and need not have a personality. The question to my mind is, is the universe intelligently designed? Or is it rather kooky? Chaotic? A gigantic - nay, infinite - mess that we puny humans must sort out and attach order to? In the end, will it really matter whether or not we deem any designer to have a personality? The Earth could be destroyed tomorrow by a lurking meteor, and none of it will have mattered. All the bickering and battling over these concepts will have been for naught. It seems superbly more sensible just to accept that these concepts exist within the human mind - all of them that have ever been conceived - and to move on gracefully and peacefully from there.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Is God with us?

My nom de plume is Acharya S, but my Christian name means "gift of God." I am somewhat known for my books, articles, essays and rants at about religion, mythology and assorted other subjects of interest to me and many other members of the human species. My interest in religion and mythology stem from childhood, and I can vividly recall discovering the Greek myths when I was around three years old. My family adhered to a very mild form of Christian Protestantism, and we belonged to a lovely Congregational church in New England. Despite the fact that it was not a "hellfire and brimstone" type of church, and that the minister was a kind and caring man who offended no one, I was extremely bored with church itself and found little of interest in Sunday school. One of the few things I enjoyed as a child about the gospel tale was the part in Luke where a short man climbs a tree in order to see Jesus above the crowd. That part stood out to me, a little child, because I was forever standing on tiptoe to see things, peering over the counter at the bank, for example.

At seven I decided that I would stop attending church at the age of 12, and so I did. My mother, who was the main person in the family interested in church and who had served as the treasurer and choir director, was not terribly dismayed by my not going to church, although I'm sure she would have enjoyed it if any one of our family had continued to share her interest. My mother was not terribly religious, in the typical sense of the term, and I never heard her discuss God, Jesus or the Bible. She went to church every week, and sang beautifully in the choir, but I do believe her attendance was a social instinct, rather than a need for "religion" per se. She was highly respected in our small but gorgeous town, and to this day there are those who remember her fondly. Unfortunately, my beloved mother passed away in 2004 of ovarian cancer.


The word "God" comes from the German "gott" and the proto-Indo-European "*ghut," meaning "that which is invoked." The related Sanskrit term is "huta," which means "invoked" and which was an epithet for the ancient god Indra. "God" may also be derived from the proto-Indo-European "*ghu-to," which means "poured," as in a libation. The Germanic word "God" did not become masculinized, i.e., a male, until the advent of Christianity. "God" is deus in Latin and dios, dia, zeus and theos in Greek.

The term "God" is defined as:
"A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions." (
Over the millenia, it has been widely believed by billions of people that there is a dominating force in the cosmos that controls everything we experience in life. This dominating force - which even in polytheistic cultures such as Egypt was conceived as overarching - has been deemed omniscient or all-knowing, omnipresent or everywhere present, and omnipotent or all-powerful.

In some cultures, it has been believed that this power - called "God" in modern English - was the architect or orchestrator of both good and evil, while in other cultures and religions "He" has been separated out as wholly good, with an evil being (of "His" creation) responsible for all the evil. There is no escaping the fact that life on planet Earth is beset by evil, yet this dualistic and simplistic explanation of a wholly good God and a totally evil Satan, found particularly within Christianity, is unsatisfactory, for the very reason that the definition of God includes the qualities of omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence. If God is omniscient, then he surely knows what Satan is up to and is going to do. If God is omnipresent, then he must be Satan. And if God is omnipotent, then he can readily stop Satan. Yet, none of these things appears to be true, as Satan often seems to reign supreme, unopposed and unrestrained.


We humans have spent many centuries attempting to explain why, if there's a good god in charge of everything, so much suffering and evil occurs on planet Earth. We have come up with an immensely complicated yet childish perspective of reality that includes assorted afterlife scenarios such as heaven, hell, limbo, purgatory, etc. When something bad happens to us, like the passing of a loved one, we want answers that make the heartache less painful, the memory more vivid and the death less final. Hence, we have created these elaborate systems and explanations, including excuses for the supposedly omnipotent God who must have allowed these tragedies to occur in the first place.

Nevertheless, these explanations have been found wanting by countless thinkers over the millennia, and it has been eloquently pointed out by numerous people that the existence of such a god is not a done deal in the first place. To be truthful, therefore, we cannot assume a priori that such a god exists, and then work from there. We must clarify that there is great doubt about the existence of an all-powerful, benevolent god who would allow such trauma and tragedy to go on day after day, relentlessly, around the globe. No other position is truly honest, and that fact constitutes the bottom line. Those who righteously question this assumed position will not be satisfied by the pat explanations designed to make the pain go away. They will continue to be haunted, possibly until a more honest and profound exploration is proffered.

The old adages tell us that "God works in mysterious ways" and that "we cannot know the way of God." But are these musty mottos really true? These antiquated assertions assume, and are often accompanied by the declaration, that we humans cannot know God because our minds are small and finite. Yet, there can be no concept greater than infinity, and the human mind can conceive infinity, even though the concept may spin us off into a parallel universe. We nonetheless can understand it. We can also fathom omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence. Hence, we can understand the concept of God, and we are capable of judging whether or not the concept is intelligent, logical and rational.

In the final analysis, our quest for the truth is neverending - and has not been set forth once and for all in any manmade book or set of beliefs thus far created. Despite the profound investigations and the fervent desires of so many for so long, we simply cannot say for sure that God is with us.