Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Various Chariots of God

Busy, busy, busy. What with working 9 – 5 (I don’t know how you non-shift worker types handle the daily grind, it’s ridiculous) and trying to get through a bit of Sam Harris and the tangents that’s led me on, time for writing has been at a premium. Nonetheless, I think it’s time I penned a missive concerning one of my favourite hypocrisies concerning modern religion, especially where your more fundamental believer is concerned.

You see, the books that make up the collection that include the Torah, Talmud, Bible and Koran seem to contain many references that could easily be construed to be close encounters of one kind or another. Well, especially if you’re into that sort of thing, but more about that later. First I need to say that personally, I put UFOs and ET firmly in the same basket as God, which is to say that I’ll believe it when I see some firm and testable evidence. Unlike my attitude toward God however, I am at least prepared to admit that there’s enough evidence at this point to suggest that it is at least possible, if not as yet probable, that we are not alone in space.


That said - as it needed to be - I found some “stuff” by way of history that I thought you might find interesting. I was poking around at SETI and got sidetracked by this article by Seth Shostak, the senior astronomer there, that speaks about the theoretical number of planets we might find in our galaxy. Here’s another one that talks about a possible “earth like” planet that’s recently been discovered. It got me to wondering just how far back the whole UFO/alien thing goes and why the bible itself might seem to contain a few tales about such things.

Well, it seems that it goes back quite a ways indeed. Here are some images that have no words to accompany them so really, we can’t be sure. I think you’ll agree however, that some of them do bear an uncanny resemblance to what we would call “aliens” and/or “UFOs” today:

Here’s an image that dates back to about 10,000BCE. It hails from Val Camonica in Italy and is a rather amazing image. They could be wearing some sort of costume and carrying some kind of ceremonial or practical implements, as yet unidentified. Some might say however, that they look a bit like ET, which explains nicely why the implements reman unidentified, but little else.



Then there’s this one from Tassiliin in the Sahara, North Africa which dates to about 6,000BCE. This one’s just freaky! It may be ET or it may be a costume of some kind, who’s to say, but the classic disc in the upper right might just make you wonder.







From my neck of the woods (Aus.) we have the Wandjina petroglyphs from the Kimberly. These lads date to about 5,000BCE.















This interesting looking chap was found in Kiev and dates back to about 4,000BCE.







There are many more than just these, of course. It’s unfortunate that the sites that have the most images seem to be concerned more with conspiracies and what have you, but that seems to be difficult to escape when you go looking for “ufo history” or “ancient ufo”. Nonetheless, drawings and statues like these are found all over the world and date to all eras and as we know, rumours and stories continue to persist today.

Is it any wonder then that there may also be stories of such things, as there are images, that have come to us through the folk law of ancient cultures? Given that the phenomena of the humble UFO could possibly be as old as man himself, I don’t think so. It was after all, the ancient stories, artwork and monuments that led Erich von D√§niken to draw the conclusions that he did, erroneously or not.

But then there’s some of the distinctly christian art:




We’ll start with this one by Flemish artist Aert De Gelder in 1710. A classic disc beaming light down on John the Baptist and Jesus. “Beam me up Scotty!” Hehe…:)











Here’s a fifteenth century painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494). Note the detail in the UFO, port holes and everything. One might wonder why so much time was spent on such a small feature, but there it is, plain to see.



This one’s my favourite though. "Glorification of the Eucharist" was painted by Bonaventura Salimbeni to commemorate the Christian Jubilee in 1600 but it does not appear to contain a UFO. It contains, of all things, the humble Sputnik, albeit with only two antennae. Now correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m sure that Sputnik wasn’t launched until Oct. 4 1957. Why then are Jesus and God respectively, each holding one of it’s antennae back in 1600? It’s a conundrum and no mistake.




But, and there’s always one of them, I think it’s an established fact that your more fundamental Christian is not particularly enamoured with the idea that we may not be the only intelligent and sentient beings in the universe. We are after all, supposed to be the pinnacle of God’s creation and the only one like it. “Unique in all creation”, as they say. I find this notion to be quite odd, especially when we begin to read the bible.

We’ll take a little look at Ezekiel here, just as an example:

1:4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north - an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The centre of the fire looked like glowing metal

1:16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went.

This chapter has an example of just about everything we’ve invented names for today; lenticular clouds, spinning lights, ring lights, classic “flying saucers” zooming around, etc. It seems a bit weird to me now, but there was I time I’d read this and see it all as evidence of God’s power and all round mightiness. Now I find I’m turning the page in anticipation of a description of the resulting crop circle, which viewed from the vantage of that hill over there, bears an uncanny resemblance to King Jehoiachin, alas…

But as I said earlier, fundamental Christians do not tend to believe that ET is a possibility. There’s no room for it, you see. Once every spare nook and cranny is filled with Jesus, there’s just not enough space left for anything else, not even “common” sense, or so it seems. Even so, it does seem a tad hypocritical to me to ridicule someone else’s belief in ET while at the same time subscribing to a book that has no less than 362 descriptions of what in today’s language would be nothing more than first, second or third hand reports of UFO sightings and rather dubious ones at that.

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fact Becomes Myth?

Every culture not only has a creation story of some kind, but they also share a myth or legend that concerns a great flood. Everywhere from the ancient stories of Scandinavia, through Egypt and Mesopotamia, China, Australia, North America, South America etc has one. Basically, name a place and you’ll find a similar legend. All these legends have another commonality in that at least one human being was somehow spared and managed to repopulate the race somehow. They all speak of purification of one kind or another and in every case it was caused by some god or gods, and it was these gods that saw the righteousness of certain individuals and saved them. Usually by getting someone to build a boat of some kind. Or, in the case of one story from China a couple just happened to find a canoe and managed to paddle around until they bumped into a mountain. Now how lucky’s that? The only real point around which some differ is that a few provide that a great deluge (an extended period of rainfall) was the cause, while most tend to lean towards the oceans rising or vast volumes of water coming out of nowhere. I think there is a good reason for that and that an historical case can be made.


Despite what some may think, the old testament as we know it is a reasonably good historical reference where ancient history is concerned, so using the old testament as an historical record rather than a spiritual one, science can prove that there’s absolutely no geological record to support that there was a great flood as written in the story of Noah. This is where we run into a bit of a problem, I think.

The general consensus is that there’s about 4000 years of human history tied up in the old testament one way or another. That means that Noah existed only about 2000BC. The problem I have with this is that we can only trace Yahweh back about 5700 years, which actually places Noah at about 1700BC. Of course, there’s evidence to suggest that monotheism of sorts (the God of Gods, Lord of Lords thing, the singular rules over the plural, etc) goes back much further than that. Every pantheon has it’s top god after all, but that doesn’t change the fact that around the time of Noah as it’s interpreted from the bible, things were pretty stable and there probably wasn’t any flood at all.

Given what we know of earth history though, this could also indicate that we may have made a mistake in estimating how old some of the old testament stories actually are. If that’s the case, and I think it is, then the reference in time we attribute to the historical data contained in the old testament is hazy at best, even though the data itself can be reasonably accurate. It could very well be that the stories were actually written down for the very first time about 2 – 3 thousand years ago, that seems to be about when written languages started becoming popular, but man has been around a hell of a lot longer than that. The problem with what we call pre-history is that it wasn’t written down, or if it was it’s been lost, hence the term.

We know that the earth came into existence about 4.5 billion years or so ago, via the interplay of astronomical forces, and that man is a relative youngster at about 400,000 years in one form or another due to evolutionary change and upheaval. Modern man however, we can say has been around for about 30 - 40 thousand years. We can also prove, via geological records and records locked in ice cores, that the earth suffers from an extended cycle of ice ages, with periods of major glacial activity where glaciers grow and retreat quite rapidly every 11,00 years or so.

The popular theory is that we are currently still in the grips of an ice age that began around 40 million years ago, or so the above records would seem to suggest. The problem with ice and particularly glaciers is that they scour the landscape and make interpretation of the data collected from the these sources difficult. We can’t be sure for instance, that the ice caps have ever truly disappeared once they formed for the first time, but that’s the benchmark we use to denote an ice age. One thing we can be sure of however, is that the last major glacial period ended about 11,000 years ago.

When the earth experiences a major glacial period, a lot of water is locked into ice, some land becomes uninhabitable but ocean levels drop markedly which causes other land, closer to the tropics, to be exposed. Naturally, when the glaciers melt, the opposite occurs but with some changes evident afterwards. Generally, what used to be high ground has been ground down a bit by the relentless action of the ice and the tailings of the grinding get deposited elsewhere, sometimes hundreds of miles from their point of origin.

The evidence that exists in cores and the geological record from both the start and the end of the last glacial period, would suggest that both events happened fairly rapidly by geological standards. 25 to 50 years for both events. This means two things: That the ice forms in about half a single lifetime when the freeze begins, and about 11,000 years later, water inundates the lower lying regions in less than half a single lifetime (once again, 25 – 50 years) when the melt occurs.

Evidence also suggests that sea levels rose 150 metres at the end of the last glacial period. So considering the size of the planet and the amount of ice and water involved, that much melt in that short a time will make for some very large and fast moving volumes of water that will spend very little time filling and devastating any low lying areas. Consider also that man has always felt the need to settle near water (for very good reason) and I believe we find the source of this particular and very common tale. Massive volumes of fast moving water are going to make for devastating floods in coastal areas all around the globe. The other result of course, what with all that moisture having been released in such a short time, would be that in some parts of the world, there’d be a hell of a lot of rain where there probably wasn’t much before.

What this probably means as far as the legends go is that Noah, Gilgamesh, Deucalion and his wife, the survivors from Samothrace and a myriad others are all one in the same. They are simply the survivors of the great melt that occurred in a very short period about 11,000 years ago and caused massive upheaval in many human settlements around the globe and the story itself I think, was just meant to serve as a reminder.

So in conclusion, I think it’s fairly obvious that the story of the flood is entirely plausible. I also think that science has proven the plausibility of it, just not in the biblical context and time frame that certain factions might have us believe.

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Take the test

I just had a bit of fun over at Dikkii's Diatribe where I found this test. I was pretty chuffed with the result, so I thought I'd better post it here.


You scored as Scientific Atheist, These guys rule.
I'm not one of them myself, although I play one online.
They know the rules of debate, the Laws of Thermodynamics,
and can explain evolution in fifty words or less. More concerned
with how things ARE than how they should be, these are the
people who will bring us into the future.

Scientific Atheist


83%

Spiritual Atheist


83%

Agnostic


75%

Apathetic Atheist


67%

Militant Atheist


50%

Angry Atheist


33%

Theist


8%

What kind of atheist are you?
created with QuizFarm.com


Just don't ask me to do what it says I can.

I do like the 33% "angry atheist" though. It sounds like a good name for a band...:)

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Hitler Youth

Here’s a short video titled “Aim lower, think smaller”. Some call it a “short video showing how we can better fulfil the great commission”. Personally, I’m not so sure…



Now, unless you are a Christian of both dubious and devious nature, I’m sure you will agree that that was a nasty and insipid little video that probably belongs in the archives of the Hitler Youth, despite its being dressed in nice, friendly language that even a child can understand. I mentioned as much when I saw it posted on a blog a while ago and was immediately jumped on by a Christian crying foul and quoting Godwin’s Law. It’s a sad fact also that those that didn’t argue later admitted that they’d simply ignored the comment. I must admit though, that the guy was probably right but then, so was I.

First, a little history: The first group of young members of the National Socialist German Workers Party was organised in 1926 by Kurt Gruber. Rudolf Hess suggested the name be changed to “Hitler Youth” (Hitlerjugend) and later that year, leadership transferred to Franz von Pfeffer of the Sturm Abteilung (“Storm Section” or “Storm Troopers”). In 1936, membership was made compulsory for all boys aged 15 and 18 and Baldur von Schirach formed the Jungvolk which had a compulsory membership for all boys aged 10 to 14.

The children in these groups were subjected to exactly the same kind of indoctrination that the video above advocates. They were taught Nazi dogma, how to be intolerant of those that don’t meet the Nazi ideal, to spread the doctrine and to teach Nazism wherever they went. They were also encouraged to report those that spoke out against Nazism. There were even cases of kids being so brainwashed that they were happy to pull the trigger themselves when it was their own parents who were the victims.

So how is the ideal preached in this video any better? In short, it isn’t. What the video asks us to do is to teach our children that an unfounded belief is the truth and that they will suffer for eternity if they don’t believe it. We’re also to teach them that they have no privacy, that God is looking over their shoulder and can see everything they do. They don’t even have the luxury of private thought, because God knows what they are thinking, every minute of every day. Then, if that’s not enough, we’re to send them off, armed with the three mainstays of religion - ignorance, fear and guilt - in to the world to “spread the word” and continue with “the great commission”. It really is quite disgusting.

I brought up Hitler in that comment in the hope that I might goad someone there into thinking about it, but alas. The fact that most of them managed to simply ignore the remark and dismiss it out of hand really only shows just how narrow minded, out dated and blinkered the Christian view of the world really is, and indeed needs to be in order to be able to believe in any of it it at all.

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

© Blogger Templates | Tech Blog