2014-03-07

Five updates on pages on Christianity

  1. Iyyobh, in the Jewish Book of Truth - Known to Christians as the Book of Job: I've added a paragraph to the introduction on this page on the theological problems in the story of Job, and 2 sections to this page: (1) God Testing People in The Bible, and (2) God as the Author of Evil: Are Satan and God Interchangeable?

  2. Jesus Did Not Exist: I have added a long introductory paragraph, and added multiple quotes from Bart Ehrman and a bit from Karen Armstrong. This page needs a lot of work - there are several important books and authors on this topic that I ought to be mentioning (for example the dry Richard Carrier and the impassioned Acharya S). The parts on the birth of Jesus and on his death will be revamped too at some point.

  3. The Book of Revelation: Some notes on authorship and symbolism.

  4. The Birth of Jesus and the Christmas Story: Pagan and Unhistorical: I have revamped this page... given it an introduction before the menu, added notes from Prof. Bart Ehrman on historical proofs, and added a few other bits throughout the page.

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

2014-01-13

A Few Updates

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

  • Hinduism: Added some text on the Numbers of Hindus Around the World (section #1). There are 3 countries that are mostly Hindu, Nepal (81%), India (80%) and Mauritius (56%). On average, compared to the rest of the world, those 3 countries have average life expectancy (70yrs), a slower fertility rate (2.25), are much poorer than other countries, and are poor places for gender equality. However, they do well on LGBT rights where the world average is -7.3 but those 3 countries' average score is 0 (zero) (using values derived from my Social and Moral Development Index).

  • Faith Schools, Sectarian Education and Segregation: Divisive Religious Behavior: Added Section "5.3: Sneaky Selection Criteria Continues to be Widespread, Making Themselves Look Good at the Expense of the Poor". Religious schools have 10-61% fewer poorer students than other schools, artificially boosting their league table rankings. And added a datum to section "9. Experts are Against Faith Schools": Aside from experts, the British public themselves are highly suspicious of schools that divide children by their religion. In 2005 a poll found that 64% thought that the government should not be funding faith schools at all36, and, many thought that faith schools should be illegal. In 2013 it was reported again that polls reveal "a majority of people in Great Britain are against Government funding of faith schools". (References exist in the text on the page).

  • The Christian Institute: A UK Political Lobbying Organisation: Updated section 2.2 on Christian B&B Couple Peter and Hazelmary Bull, as the Christian Institute (UK) continued to fight the latest of their failed anti-gay-rights cases through successive courts. As expected, they lost the case yet again, for the same reasons that they have lost their others.

  • Christian Mythology: Adam and Eve, and the Serpent, in the Garden of Eden: I've rewritten the opening paragraph, putting the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden into the context of the multitude of similar Mesopotamian myths, moved a few sections around, and rewritten the section that was called "Reconciling Adam and Eve with Science" and renamed it "Evolution and the Origin of the Species".

2013-11-16

A load of updates on religion and Satanism

I've done quite a few updates, here are some of them:

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

  • Is God All-Powerful? Can God or Anything Truly Be Omnipotent?: I've added a 6th (important!) item to the list of things that an all-powerful god cannot do: omnipotency is incompatible with benevolence. Responsible for making every aspect of evil and suffering possible and for creating the long chain of cause and effect that results in disasters and influences people to choose wrongly, god is so absolutely responsible for all evil and pain that it renders it an amoral being at best, and at worst, an immoral one. And on that note, I've added Section 2 on The Problem of Evil. On a sociological bent, I've added section "5. The Ineffectiveness of God to Answer Prayers", which is about the way choices of prayers give away the fact that people are saying them more as magic words rather than saying them with the confidence that God itself can change the laws of physics (i.e., a link to the text mentioned in the first update mentioned in this entry!).

And three updates to my Satanism website:

  • Misanthropy, Nihilism and Self-Worth: People are Shit, Boring and Stupid: Added two new paragraphs, including: "People attain varying shades of greatness. Some become great and lead humankind forward, successfully encouraging others to shake off their shackles and dogmas, and face the wondrous world with imagination and open-mindedness. Some become great through beauty, acting, entertainment, or other temporal endeavours, and find their egos drag them onwards. Both the humanistic greats and the egotistical greats are prone to thinking themselves better than others, and both can often be found bemoaning the state of the masses. Are you with me, or are you part of the deluded herd? Because of the two types of greatness I mention above, one is formed of breakable china, and the other is formed from rock, upon which we build humankind's greatest scientific, technological and moral victories. When looks and talent fade, who has left the enduring legacy on which others can build? They are the greats, and they are ones who have permission to announce their disgrace at the state of humankind! Follow them, copy them, be inspired by them and read their books!"

  • Moojan Momen's 8 Pathways to Religious Experience: Categorizing Satanism: I've added this paragraph to section "1.7. Gnosticism". Momen's use of the word "gnosticism" is a little problematic, as, nearly all gnostic documents discvovered archeologically have been largely Christian affairs, having as a saviour a Christ figure who comes and reveals the necessary secret knowledge, and, being heavily centered on the ways in which the Old Testament god is defeated by the Good News. Momen's category mostly describes what are called mystery religions, rather than gnosticism. For this reason, although in 2007 when I first published this text I stated that there was a 4 out of 5 match between this category and Satanism, I am not revising that to 3 out of 5, due to the poor choice of category title by Moojan Momen. I follow this with a good description of actual Gnosticism.

  • Righteous Satan Theologies: When Satan is Good: I've added section "2.3. Classical Gnosticism". Just added a few paragraphs on the Gnostics who were caught occasionally identifying with bad-guys such as Cain, Kresh and Judas. Because it turns out that if the God of this world is actually evil, then, those who oppose that god are in fact the good guys.

Scroll around these updated pages and look for the little "New" graphics as always, which Ziggy will leave in place for ~ 6 months for any new paragraph, quote, or section.

2013-10-04

A few updates to some of my pages on religion

A few of these updates I done a few weeks ago, but I've been busy with University work so I'm only just around to posting this.

  • Traditional Religions and Abolition of the Slave Trade - I've added a paragraph to section 1. The Early Slave Trade, War and Rejection of Slave Ownership : "Slavery was part of the culture of the entire Mesopotamian area (from which Judaism and Christianity arose) but in Babylon in the era of 1800 BCE, injury to slaves was a punishable offence, although the punishment was only a fine2, slaves were better off than in the surrounding areas. Organized Judaism arose from Babylon, and the God that they described in their holy writings happened to reveal to them laws and guidelines regarding slaves that were eerily similar to those found in the wider Babylonian community. Some use this fact to argue that all the verses regarding slaves are merely cultural artefacts, and not God's word."
    And I have also added half a dozen more verses to the text on the Old Testament and New Testament.

  • Islam and the West: Pluralism, Immigration and Danger - Made a few minor updates and added section "4. Violent Fanaticism and Terrorism, Starting With Intolerance" with an example of the way a pro-evolution and pro-women's-choice cleric was forced out of his teaching role in the UK by anti-evolution and anti-women Muslims. The potential scope of what I could put on this page is staggering, so much so that I've chickened out and only made a few minor updates at the moment, due to time constraints.

  • Institutionalized Religions Have Their Numbers Inflated by National Polls - Added some stats to section "5.1. Hidden Secularisation" on American atheists; 4 in 20 of them still call themselves Christian or Jewish, and only 1/4 of them actually call themselves atheist.

And finally,

  • Is the Christian God Evil? Evidence from Scripture and Nature - I've added a new section to the bits on the New Testament - "2.3. Jesus and the Crucifixion - A Trick". The whole scheme of the life of Jesus does not add up, and it is very hard to reconcile it with the plans of an all-knowing, good God. The crucifixion makes no sense, except if the God of the Bible is evil. Then the magic tricks are the successful attempts of an evil god to impress us simple mortals.

2013-07-26

A few little updates to religion pages

  • Monotheism and Free Will: God, Determinism and Fate - added a note on the contradiction between Omnipotence and Free Will (section #2), added a few more verses from Qur'an to the list of determinist verses, and re-ordered the page a little bit.

  • Added section Atheism and Secularism #2. Lower-case or Upper-case Atheism? and commentary on the confused opinions of sociologist William Sims Bainbridge.

  • The God of the Christian Bible is Evil: Evidence from Scripture and Nature - Added section "4. Sowing Seeds of Confusion - Not the Antics of a Good God" about Biblical statements on dreams, prophecies and the like and how they should be trusted, against the real-life situation that many conflicting religions and beliefs result from such visions. Also, the story of the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11 has God create all the conflicting languages of mankind, because otherwise "nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them".

And finally,

  • Biblical Christianity Denies Free Will: I've added Matthew 5:45 to the section on predeterminism; although it isn't about salvation, it is at least about justice. The verses say that the sun and the rain afflict both the good and the evil amongst us. Also added a quote to section "4.5. The Church of England" from John William Draper (1881).

And in other news, I'm loving the summer heat even though it makes it harder to do my marathon training - mostly means I'm having to go running a bit later in the day than normal.

2013-06-03

A few of these updates I done a month ago! A few are from the last few days:
  • I've split my page on zombie films into two pages; Classic Zombie Films: the Slow Undead and Aggressive Zombie Films Where the Undead are Angry and Fast. And I've added reviews of Romero's latest films to the classic page, and a review of Osombie (where Osama Bin Laden comes back from the dead in Afghanistan!).

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

  • Modern Mass Media: The Bane of Human Cultural Evolution - I've gone through all my notes from "Media Studies: The Basics" by Julian McDougall (2012). Although it was only a relatively light book, it still contained a few paragraphs I've quoted, and other factoids that I've added to this page, and, took the chance to clear up a few bits and make a few minor edits.

And finally:

2013-02-14

UK Religion and What Country is the Best in the World?

I've added a few more charts and bits of historical data to "Religion in the United Kingdom: Diversity, Trends and Decline" by Vexen Crabtree (2012). In particular: And I've at last been updating "What is the Best Country in the World?: An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life" by Vexen Crabtree (2013)... I reset all countries' points and have added a new set of data sets. Some of the latest ones I've added are:
  • Three more data sets: (1) the Global Peace Index (2012) which measures militarisation, arms deals and domestic and neighbourly conflicts. (2) The Press Freedom Index which measures media independence of authority, transparency, and criminilsation of opposing view (including imprisonment and murder of journalists). (3) Freedom on the Net index, which measures government intrusion on normal user rights.

2012-09-13

Updated a load of pages with notes from Qur'an

I've slowly been getting through my notes on the Qur'an. I've added some stuff to these pages:

A lot of these notes have been appended to other pages because I haven't written enough to 'break out' the sections into their own pages. Everything is still growing!

2012-08-06

Synthetically grown meat

I've written a load more on synthetically grown meat; the introductory paragraph reads:

Meat in vats, grown in culture from a chemical source derived from animal genetics, will result in meat being grown more like plants than livestock. Such research aims to massively reduce the land and resources used by meat production, increase the safety and nutritional value of meat, stop animal suffering and prevent the further hunting of endangered species for food. It has even been researched by NASA in 2002, as part of an investigation into food production on long-haul space flights. The Economist newspaper in 2006 hailed it as a future industry. Animal farming as an industry is in distress in the modern world, and is criticized for its heavy use of water and inhumane nature. The potential benefits of growing synthetic meats in a sterile and controlled manner are huge.

2012-05-06

Voltaire - nothing is new in metaphysics!

I've added this quote to the beginning of "Nothing New: Religions Evolve From Previous Religions" by Vexen Crabtree (2007):
"In metaphysics, in moral philosophy, the ancients have said everything. We coincide with them, or we repeat them. All modern books of this kind are only repetitions."
- Voltaire (1764

2012-04-19

I am still alive!

2011-11-18

Some updates

Some recent updates:

2011-09-13

Christianity: Times in the Bible When God Doesn't Know All, and Tests People to Find Things Out

I've added a new section to http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/omniscience.html#Christianity:

The Bible says God is perfect in knowledge, knows all thoughts, all secrets, sees all and no-one can hide from God. See: 1 Samuel 2:3, Job 28:24; 37:16; 42:2, Psalm 44:21; 139:4,7-8; 147:5, Proverbs 15:3, Jeremiah 16:17, 23:24, Acts 1:24, Hebrews 4:13, Matthew 10:30 and 1 John 3:19-20. Yet there are plenty of times when God doesn't know things, such as where people are. Check these verses:
  • Genesis 3:8-13 - Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord, amongst the trees of the garden, and God had to go find them, and then asks them questions. Either Adam and Eve are so dumb that they can't grasp that God is all-knowing, or, God is genuinely asking because it doesn't know the answers.
  • Genesis 18:20-21 - "20Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”"
  • Genesis 32:22-30 - In this obscure story, Jacob wrestles with God in bodily form and sees God face-to-face. God asks Jacob what Jacob's name is; yet an all-knowing god would surely know!
  • Numbers 22:9 - Balaam and some Moabite officials spend a night waiting for God, who duly pops down for a visit, "And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?" An all-knowing God would have known.
  • Job 1:7, 2:2 - "And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."
  • Hosea 8:4 - Some princes of Israel were set up without God's knowledge.
Sometimes, it is said in the Bible that God tests people. In Deuteronomy 8:1-2 God reveals that the 40-years in the wilderness was a test done by God to find out what was in people's hearts - whether they would still obey orders. In Deuteronomy 13:1-5 God sends some false prophets and wonder-workers as tests to see if people will follow other gods, and in 2 Chronicles 32:31 God is doing similar fact-finding tests. Yet an all-knowing God, creator of all time, knows exactly who will pass any tests, and knows exactly what is in everyone's heart. So either God is lying about his reasons, or, god is not actually all-knowing. See: "God Never Needs to Test Us" by Vexen Crabtree (2005).

2011-08-29

Current stuff

In order of priority, I am:

* Looking after my little boy while I'm not at work. Finishes in about 16 years.

* Doing final course essay for Religious Education module going towards degree. Finish in early October.

* Penultimate RE essay (1000 words, easy). Finish in a week.

* Studying/revising for Com Sys Eng degree; including Microsoft and Cisco CCNA exams - during the week. Finishing them all in December.

And stuff I sqeeze it when taking a break:

* Programming Moggy, my music playing software.

* Light maintenance / editting of web domains and occasional programming/improving of Ziggy, my content-management software.

And stuff which has been completely abandoned for a number of years, mostly because although they were fun, they just take too long:

* Baphomet Method (music project)

* SquaddieWars (Facebook game, asp.net platform)

2011-08-11

Uni

I am mostly studying at the moment, and not doing website stuff. This year I'm doing a foundation degree in Communications System Engineering, for which I'm always revising for Cisco and Microsoft exams, and I'm doing another module towards my Open University degree in social sciences with religious studies.

2011-07-16

The Gospels and the Crucifixion - Differences in style

I have updated "The Crucifixion Facade" by Vexen Crabtree (2002) with a few biggish quotes from Bart Ehrman on the gospels' accounts of the crucifixion. Whilst there are well-known contradictions between thses accounts (who'd have thought that various people could have thought Jesus' last words were so different?!!), Ehrman's quotes summarize the totality of the style of these differences, and is the best summary on this topic. Find the quotes in section 3 of that page.

2011-07-05

The Problem of Evil and Suffering: Can a Good God Exist?

I've redone "The Problem of Evil: Why Would a Good God Create Suffering?" by Vexen Crabtree (2011). It still opens with a list of all the main areas of the problem of evil (natural disasters, angels heaven, babies going to heaven). And a list of all the main theodocies used to try to explain why evil exists (free will, the absence of god, god testing us, etc). All these explanations do not answer the fundamental problem of evil, however.

The page contents:

2011-06-19

How to Pray in Islam, According to the Qur'an

I've added a whole load on Islam to "Prayer to God in Christianity and Islam: But Praying is Useless and Satanic" by Vexen Crabtree (2005), concentrating purely on the Qur'an (for now), and commenting on:
Qur'an 3:43: Women in Prayer: No Segregation
Qur'an 3:191-4: Praying Posture (standing, sitting or laying)
Qur'an 7:55: Pray With Humility and in Secret (same as Christian Bible)
Qur'an 52:48-49, 73:1-7: Prayer (Timings) at Night

These are pretty much all the Qur'anic says about prayer.

2011-06-02

The End of the World and Our Egos!

I've added a paragraph to "The Importance of Current Events is Amplified by our Egos" by Vexen Crabtree (2005):

End-of-the-world-mania is dependent upon certain properties of human ego. We want to witness important historical times, and we want to be at the fore and center of tumultuous and attention-grabbing events. There have been thousands of end-of-the-world predictions. They have been the products of many great minds, many devoted believers in various religions and cults, with a lot of time and effort put in to each and every theory, building up supporting evidence from religious texts, historical trends and numerology. What do all these predictions have in common about the end of the world? They have all been wrong. Those promoting these fears, and those subject to them, are all in the grips of their own ego!
This is based on my new page "The End of the World is Nigh! The Dangers of Apocalyptism and End-Times Beliefs" by Vexen Crabtree (2011), which includes stuff on the Harold Camping, the Mayan calendar, suicide cults and the Christian Bible.

2011-05-09

2011-04-26

Last Human on Earth

I just spent 30 minutes daydreaming about what I'd do if I was the last human on Earth. After some fansical ideas about spending the time learning, building a nest, taking up radio astronomy, I realized I would probably need to spend most my time on food-management and pre-emptive medicine-learning. Boring!

Assuming food-management was sorted, and I didn't go crazy... I'd have to be strict with myself. Up at 7am every day (or 8am, depending on day break), I'd always set an alarm. I'd give up most things computer-related (no point). I'd obviously learn where hardware stores are, supermarkets for most my food, but I'd need to start growing veg and fruit straight away.

Library. Surival books, gardening books, health books. Find pharmacy, rig up kit to generate electricity. Lots of Army bases in the SW have kit like that, that I've (seen) used before. But then what?

Library: Astronomy, research, physics... a last ditch attempt to find ETI? Broadcast my own radio station on AM and FM in case there is anyone else?

I'd not be much interested in travelling around or thrill-seeking. Resources matter, that's all. So I need fuel for electricity; when resources run out, I'll go somewhere else, in a truck full of stuff. Build lots of large signs and message telling people how to find me. Just try to keep busy, rather than lose my faculties!

2011-03-03

How many Muslims are there?

I've put this on to http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/islam.html :
  • 44 countries are over 50% Muslim.
  • 1.6 billion Muslims in 2010 (23.4% of the world): 2.2 billion by 2030 (26.4%)
  • 6% of Europe was Muslim, in 2011. Will rise to 8% in 2030
  • 2.7% of the population of England & Wales are Muslims (and rising)
Population growth in the world is highest amongst the poor and the uneducated. Muslims have a disproportionate share of such people, so their numbers are rising. Factors such as war and instability in the Middle East keep the reproduction rate higher.

The Muslim world is slowly aging. "In 1990 Islam's share of the world's youth was 20%; in 2010, 26%. In 2030 it will be 29% (of 15-29-year-olds)". But on average, Muslims are starting to age. "The media age in Muslim-majority countries was 19 in 1990. It is 24 now, and will be 30 by 2030. (For French, Germans and Japanese the figure is 40 or over.) This suggests Muslim numbers will ultimately stop climbing, but later than the rest of the population".

2011-02-24

Anti-Jewish Violence by Muslims, in Europe

I've added a new section to "Anti-Semitism: 2000 Years of Christian Love" by Vexen Crabtree (2004):

10. The Growing Violence of Muslim Antisemitism in Europe


The European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia's report on the subject of growing and violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males. Because of this, the EUMC withheld publication (until it was leaked). The report summarized country-by-country events, including large rallies against Jews by hundreds of Muslims chanting "kill the Jews", and no end of other incidents. Throughout the West, violent anti-semitism is correlated with Muslim immigration.

“Since 2000, anti-Semitism in France has been epidemic. Synagogues have been burned down, schools vandalized, shops attacked, rabbis beaten, children assaulted, school buses shot at, [...]. At Muslim demonstrations shouts of "Death to the Jews" have become common. [For example in 2004] an assailant shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Great") stabbed another seventeen-year-old Jewish boy in the chest in another suburb of Paris [as he left a Jewish school].”
--Bruce Bawer (2006)

2010-12-29

Some Satanism pages updates

Three updates:

I've added Asbjørn Dyrendal's description of Satanism as "humanism with horns" to http://www.dpjs.co.uk/humanism.html . Also added Jesper Aagaard Petersen (a serious academic of Satanism)'s comment that Satanism is "a functional equivalent to religion", and a quote from Asbjørn Dyrendal who says "There are many definitions of "religion" by which at least rationalist Satanism ought to be excluded".

I've also quoted Asbjørn Dyrendal agreeing with me that "Satanism is world-affirming" to "Satanism is a World-Affirming Religion, not a World-Renouncing One" by Vexen Crabtree (2007)

2010-10-04

DPJS redesign

I've redone 4 more pages on my DPJS website to the new design:

2010-07-19

Aliens and Saviours!

I've added text to "Alien Life and Planet Earth" by Vexen Crabtree (1999). Contents:
  1. The Chances of Life in the Universe
  2. UFOs Are Probably Not Aliens
    1. Is There Intelligent Life on Earth?
    2. The UFO Craze Was Created by Sensationalist Media and Hoaxes
    3. What We Learn From Skyhook Balloons
  3. Communication with Aliens
    1. A Very Slow Affair
    2. Our Transmissions into Space Already Span 100 Light Years
  4. The Impact on Religion
    1. Can Species-Specific Religions Claim to Embody Ultimate Truth?
    2. Saviour Religions Will be Challenged
    3. Universalist Religions
And the added text centers around a quote from Paul Davies:

Book“The existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence would have a profound impact on religion, shattering completely the traditional perspective of God's special relationship with man. The difficulties are particularly acute for Christianity, which postulates that Jesus Christ was God incarnate whose mission was to provide salvation for man on Earth. The prospect of a host of 'alien Christs' systematically visiting every inhabited planet in the physical form of the local creatures has a rather absurd aspect. Yet how otherwise are the aliens to be saved?” -- "God And The New Physics" by Paul Davies (1984)
Did the God of the universe, who authored however-many intelligent species on however-many planets, really have a special covenant with a tribe of Humans? Will Heaven - the Heaven of all creatures from all planets - really descend upon Jerusalem on Earth? And do aliens who live billions of light years away, really need to have known Jesus, to have accepted Christian religion, to be saved? These questions have few answers that Christians can accept.

2010-06-19

1836: The first cheap newspaper

I've added a little bit of history - the 1830s - to "Modern Mass Media: The Bane of Human Cultural Evolution: 4. Politics and Democracy" by Vexen Crabtree (2009)

It was the year 1836 that saw the first cheap newspaper appear (La Presse) that depended upon a readership that was not an intellectual or class élite of some kind. Mass media had arrived. Politicians worried about the destabilizing effects of the misinformation and sensationalism that news papers frequently contained.

“The growth of such powerful engines of information or misinformation inevitably had large political implications. [...] Conservative fears that an irresponsible trouble-making press, given enough rope, might become a danger to political stability and public order, seemed fully justified. [...] Opposition papers were more often than not factious, irresponsible and sometimes dangerously violent.” -- "The Ascendancy of Europe 1815-1914" by M S Anderson (1985)

Close to two centuries later, and not much has changed: mass produced cheap newspapers remain an anathema to civility.

2010-03-15

The Problem of Evil and Free Will

If God is all-powerful and all-good, it would have created a universe in the same way it created heaven: with free will for all, no suffering and no evil. But evil and suffering exist. Therefore God does not exist, is not all-powerful or is not benevolent (good). [...] A theodicy is an attempt to explain why a good god would have created evil and suffering.

The most common theodicy is the free will theodicy. This is that God created evil so that we could then choose between good and evil, and make moral choices. If all choices result in good, there would be no moral choices. If love is acceptable, it must be chosen over hate and therefore evil and suffering result when we make morally poor choices. However this classical theodicy does not hold up, for many reasons. Prominent historical Christian theologians who have rejected the free will theodicy include St Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin1. The arguments on this page are thousands of years old, but, many continue to believe in the simplicity of the free will theodicy, so, it does no harm to state the arguments against it again.

These are the menu headings on my page about the free will theodicy:

The contents of "Is Free Will the Reason God Allows Evil and Suffering?" by Vexen Crabtree (2003) is now:

2009-11-06

How to fix newspapers

I have added a section to my critical page on the Mass Media, with regards to newspapers and cheap sensationalist journalism, and their negative effects on individuals and society. Here is a bit of the next text, view the rest by clicking on the title, above!

  • Stronger international laws against the public spreading of disinformation. Broadcasters should be placed under extra legal obligation to check facts. Many journalists avoid legal trouble by claiming that they don't know what stories are true or not. So, if it is scandalous and it will sell, then, they publish it without checking (or admitting) their sources. There needs to be an international body that specifically deals with mass-media outlets, proscribing to them a greater responsibility to check their facts, with the ability to suspend printing or publication once a certain amount of abuse has built up.

  • Journalists should be required to be a member of a journalist association, which they get kicked out of if they produce very low quality information. Many developed countries already have such associations. It should especially be the case in wire agencies, from which most other news outlets get their news.
Some methods of curbing the press's abuses are good-hearted, but occasionally dysfunctional:
  • "In 2008 the Slovak parliament introduced one to guarantee the subject of a story the right to reply, of the same length and prominence as the original" - this sounds good, because the idea is that the press will have to print criticisms of itself in its own papers with such frequency that they will be compelled only to publish accurate information. There is however a very unfortunate second part to that law - the right to reply stands even if the facts were correct. This would seem to me to lead to a barrage of responses from politicians and lawyers that abuse the right-to-reply principal, in effect, ending the ability of the press to be critical. In a healthy democracy, the press must free to be critical of governments and institutions.

  • In Poland, an old law gives sources the authority to withdraw or edit quotations right up until the point of publication41. So when a paper tries to quote someone out of context, as they are often eager to do, the subject can withdraw their quote. Unfortunately, it seems like it can again be abused by officials to ruin newspaper stories in order to hide truth.
In short, it appears to be very difficult to concoct laws that allow individuals to protect themselves against ridiculous press stories, but where instititons and democracies are still subject to critical journalism without fear of recriminations. What would be an ideal is a world where consumers, as pointed out above, avoid the more outlandish papers, and where editors and journalists only try to produce responsible pieces. Unfortunately, neither is likely to happen.

2009-06-27

The Creation of an International Military Force and the Fear of Progress

I've added some text to "Uniforce: An International Military Force" based on stuff I've written in "General Neophobia in Everyday Life: Humankind's Fear of Progress and Change" which traces a few historical battles between progress in defence (such as wearing camouflaged uniforms) and those who worried that changes in defence were too dangerous to contemplate. Experiments in pooled defence have so far proved successful and stabilizing, but, there are few attempts to explain this to the general public.

“Despite the advantages of pooled military defence, there is much public concern about things such as combined European defence, even though the advantages far outweigh the theoretical disadvantages. Because it is big, and new, there is much opposition to it even though the status-quos in international defence are widely acknowledged to be broken. [...]

Media coverage of the ESDP (common European defence policy) has been entirely negative, despite the commendation of senior military experts and diplomats in Europe. In the future, when a European or International military force exists, historians will look back and puzzle over what our problems were.

From "General Neophobia in Everyday Life: Humankind's Fear of Progress and Change" by Vexen Crabtree (2009)

There must be more effort to explain to the public the massive costs and disadvantages of having nearly every nation maintain world-faring military forces, to explain that some developed countries only have a defensive force (look at Switzerland) and have not been immediately invaded by their neighours, and that the African Union proves the principal of pooled defence. In practice, NATO and Europe are operating as if they had a unified worldwide force, and deploy it where is necessary. It makes sense to formalize this, so that it can be strengthened and made more dependable. But the public do not hear anything of these ideas or debates - they exist only in specialized military journals. While the mass media, which is inherently sensationalist and nationalist, is the main voice on international military issues, most people receive reactionary information that is biased against intra-national accords.

2009-05-28

Neophobia and the Irrational Fear of 'Radiation'

I've added some text to "General Neophobia in Everyday Life: Humankind's Fear of Progress and Change" by Vexen Crabtree (2009):

We saw that in zombie films and other hollwood products often used the idea of 'radiation', sometimes in a very simplistic manner, to sow the seeds of fear and horror. There exists as part of the fear of the invisible and the unknown, a fear of 'radiation'. This is despite the fact that the colours of the spectrum and radio signals are both forms of radiation, along with infra-red light (all are merely different frequencies on the electro-magnetic spectrum). This general fear of immaterial waves plays a part in the unfounded fears of mobile phones. Dr Frank Barnaby, a specialist on military technology and nuclear physics, points out that this fear is also a weapon in the hands of terrorists:

'The true impact of a dirty bomb would be the enormous social, psychological and economic disruption [...]. It would cause considerable fear, panic and social disruption, exactly the effects terrorists wish to achieve. The public fear of radiation is very great indeed, some say irrationally so.'

The effect is that, in the dirty bomb, terrorists have a particularly dangerous weapon only if the media continue to mislead people into believing it is particularly dangerous.”
From "Flat Earth News" by Nick Davies (2008)

Nick Davies, a journalist and media analyst, warns that as long as the media publish sensationalist articles and news that is not checked for scientific accuracy, such fears will continue to be spread in a self-perpetuating cycle.

2009-05-03

Life is Mostly Procrastination

All those things that you pursue to make yourself happy... such as good food, nice music, adorable pets... all those things are just placeholders.

The things in life that make you happy are generally not the things that give your life worth.

In other words: Watch out for all those addictive little pleasures that take up lots of time, but will be completely forgotten as soon as you die!

2009-03-05

Humans and Food!

I have added some to "The Food Chain" by Vexen Crabtree (2007):

Dr Richard Wrangham of Harvard University notes that cooking is a behaviour found universally in human societies. Only very few single individuals attempt to live without it. Some have theorized that this radical behaviour formed a major factor in our rise to stardom. Dr Wrangham investigated the effect it has on food, and finds that it hugely improves the efficiency of the energy gain from the food cycle. Commentary was published in The Economist:

“Cooking alters food in three important ways. It breaks starch molecules into more digestible fragments. It "denatures" protein molecules, so that their amino-acid chains unfold and digestive enzymes can attack them more easily. And heat physically softens food. That makes it easier to digest, so even though the stuff is no more calorific, the body uses fewer calories dealing with it. [...] Cooking increases the share of good digested in the stomach and small intestine [...] from 50% to 95%.”
The Economist (2009)

The full page contains much more!

2009-01-06

The UFO Craze: Media exaggeration and hoaxes!

Although it is common sense that the popular press play up and exaggerate stories, it wasn't until I read the research of Martin Gardner that I realized just how much of a role imaginative newspaper editors had played in the creation of the UFO craze. It started in 1947, when Kenneth Arnold saw 9 small weather balloons that were strung together, 'flying' in formation in the sky. The papers came up with the idea of 'flying saucers' on their own, and henceforth, enthusiastically published hyped-up articles attributing all unidentified flying objects to mysterious advanced technology and aliens. It was a science-fiction decade, with a popular press to match.

The contents of "Alien Life and Planet Earth" by Vexen Crabtree (1999) is now:

2008-11-29

The Benefits of Consolidating Power in the European Union

I've added this text to "The European Union: Democratic Values, The Euro, Crises and Migration: 7.1. The Power of Solidarity" by Vexen Crabtree (2007):

The benefits of EU consolidarity means that multinationalism should often trump national interests. This means that when the EU acts together as a whole, the advantage to all of its members is greater than if countries maintained their own unilaterial national policies. If a nation combined its efforts in (say) ten endeavours within consolidated EU plans, it would benefit enormously even if in a few of those areas this means that the norm which emerges is not one that is beneficial. It is like any collection of humans: If you group together, the whole group has more capability, even though sometimes all individuals will feel that peer pressure has stopped them doing something they wanted. Anyway, needless to say that at present the EU is only united on a few, mostly economic, points. Great rewards can be gained in the future if further chioces are made at a EU level rather than a national one, and of those those is energy foreign policy especially. The Economist ran an article on this in 2008 with regards to Russian antagonism:

The European Union will be heeded by Russia only when it speaks with one voice. That was the universal battle cry in Brussels as EU officials and diplomats hurried back from their summer holidays to prepare for an emergency EU summit on the Georgian crises, called by the current French presidency for September 1st. And faced with the sobering sight of tanks trundling around Europe's backyard, there was equally loud agreement among national politicians that their usual squabbling over the right attitude towards Russia harms the common interests of the 27-member union. [...]

A November 'power audit' by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a think-tank, argued that Europe was throwing away what should be its considerable leverage over Russia. After all, the EU's population is more than three times that of Russia, and its wealth more than a dozen times greater. The EU depends heavily on Russian energy, but the flip-side is that it is Russia's biggest market for gas (indeed, for all Russian exports). If the 27 EU countries dealt with Russia as one, they would surely have less to fear from Moscow hawks.

The Economist (2008)


2008-07-30

God's Will Versus Genetics

I've added a large new section to my page on evolution: "Evolution and Unintelligent Design: Religion: God's Will Versus Genetics" by Vexen Crabtree. The online version is formatted better and is footnoted:

Many religionists, especially conservative Christians in the USA and fundamentalists around the world, oppose Humankind's intervention in genetics. "Some, like Leon Kass, the former head of President Bush's bioethics council, regard genetic interventions as humankind's contemporary replay of the Tower of Babel episode". They say we 'shouldn't play God', that genetic engineering is a Promethean seizure of God's power. A poll in 1997 revealed that 70% of Americans said only God should have the power to interfere with inherited traits, following on from polls in the 1980s that saw two-thirds of Americans declare that the altering of human genes was against God's will.

I will now offer four arguments that genetic engineering is in accordance with God's will - and also offer one cheeky argument that at the very least, genetic engineering foils the Devil's plans! So for those of us who don't believe in such dualisms, take the following with a philosophical pinch of salt:


  1. Firstly, God doesn't have control over inherited traits. If there is a God, and it designed the way nature works, then it relinquished its control of inheritability when it chose to create genes. Genes are subject solely to the deterministic laws of physics and chemistry. These laws run without God's interference; the genes that we inherit result from natural cause and effect in accordance with fixed physical laws, not from God's will. There is only one reason why God would create such roundabout way of facilitating the inheritance of traits: because it wanted to place genetics within the grasp of human biological sciences. If it did not want us to consciously examine and improve our genes, then God would not have made them accessible. Traits would be picked by god and bestowed upon individuals by magic, without a physical intermediary (DNA) doing the job. If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, then DNA exists in the physical world (rather than the spiritual one) for a reason: God has placed DNA within our reach to see what we will do.


  2. The desire to eradicate disease is the desire to help others; it is a moral impulse derived from our best social instincts. The expression of this desire through advanced science provides us with new methods of preventing disease. If God's test is to see if we will do the right thing, then, my bets are with the geneticists. Those who wish to let disease run its course, and let mutant genes continue to cause disease, are the ones who are interfering with God's will. It is God's place to punish humankind for transgressions, not our place to punish ourselves (and those around us) by failing to fight disease and biological dysfunction.


  3. Thirdly, exegesis: Christians will remember that in their 'Old Testament' it implores humankind to govern nature. God has placed DNA within the realm of nature, the same as it placed seeds and plants within our grasp. We took those seeds and plants and selectively bred them to create many crops that over thousands of years, have become intensely genetically modified by us. Consider that the Bible grants us "animal husbandry". There was no phrase in the Hebrew vocabulary for genes or evolution, but husbandry is a sexual term that implies the act of mixing male chromosomes with those of a female egg, to produce life. This is genetic in nature. The next section on this page details advances we have already made with crops and with our creation of domesticated species such as cows, pigs and cats. These animals did not originate in nature - we created them without causing the heaven's to rain fire on the Egyptians or Indians.
    "The same Genesis narratives that many read as a source of the prohibition confer on human beings the task of governing and tending to nature. Throughout the Bible, agriculture, animal husbandry, metalworking, and many other technological interventions in nature are permitted and even approved."

    "Babies by Design: The Ethics of Genetic Choice"
    Ronald M. Green (2007)



    Human achievements with crops and domesticated animals are much more extreme that the simple genetic engineering changes we would implement now, such as removing genes mutations that cause certain diseases, and adding vitamin-producing genes to common crops. This is small fry to what we have already achieved. It's not that the religionists are opposed to the results, its just that they perceive continued scientific achievements to be a threat to their general religious worldview.


  4. Finally, genetic engineering may aid in the fight against the Devil! Genetic engineering will eventually absolve us of the need to kill livestock to feed ourselves. Researchers have already grown meat in laboratories, from germlines extracted from animals. Such meat is the real thing, but is grown without the need for a living organism surrounding it. It is maintained by the laboratory as fresh, non-living meat. Manufacturing on reasonable scales in so far impossible, but in the future it will be possible, and the barbaric era of animal slaughter will start to enter history for good. This underlines our final argument. The food chain is designed so that in order to survive, living beings have to kill and destroy each other. The whole food chain is based on blood and death. This is the design of an evil genius, not of a good god. Likewise for gene mutations (which cause the suffering of many innocent and unborn children) and other biological dysfunctions. No good God would have created such a flawed biological world. If it genetics is a chance at dashing the devil's (apparent) designs, then, we should give no hesitation!


2007-06-30

Airport Internet Access

Airports are ok for internet access; whereas previous experiences have included myself paying £1 coins per minute (or fifteen) for access at a poor, difficult-to-use, clunky internet dumb terminal, nowadays there are WiFi access zones, and power points, where I can use my laptop & T-Mobile account.

You'd expect this from airports, as they are a fundamental building-block of modern globalisation, and along with coffee shops are a beacon of modernity.

But on the other extreme, why, in a world where technology and the Internet have driven people closer together and made business worldwide, are people travelling more and not less? It is not the technology at fault, but Human nature. Our instincts and drives are out-of-date. We are evolved for face-to-face contact when it is now more rational to stick to abstrac contact. Unfortunately, there are no readily available cures for Human nature.

2007-01-28

The Fear of Death is a Cause of Irrational Beliefs

“It is not rational arguments, but emotions, that cause belief in a future life. The most important of these emotions is fear of death.”
"Why I am not a Christian" by Bertrand Russell, p74

Child psychologists say that 'there is no death' in the world of most childen. Others in history, such as Freud, have explained that "dealing" with the learned idea of death is one of the greatest challenges of adulthood. Many, of course, "deal" with it by imagining that death is not real. That, in fact, we somehow survive death, despite that the self is the brain, and the brain dies.

The fear of death has got to be one of the biggest causes, in history, of religious beliefs. The difficulty in imagining the discontinuance of thought and the loss of all motivations, memories, life, to some seeming void, has lent itself in history to the idea that somehow we don't actually die. These "spiritual pipe dreams" (in the words of Anton LaVey) fuel irrational religious beliefs.

I've added the quote by Bertrand Russell to my page, "The Causes of Religion" by Vexen Crabtree (2007).

2007-01-04

Vexen Crabtree's New Pages in 2005


2005 Dec 28"Christian Prayer" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Dec 24"Satanism: The Natural Religion (Forget the New Age!)" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Dec 18"Blasphemy Laws in the UK" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Dec 11"Christmas: The Multicultural Celebration" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Aug 29"The Goodguy Badge": Vexen's page on LaVey's term describing the shallow things people do to look and feel 'good'
2005 Aug 16The International Date Format (ISO-8601): Vexen's appraisal of the YYYY MMM DD date format
2005 Aug 15Doubled size of ""If there is a God, it Must be an Evil God" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Aug 14"Satanism as the Worship of Truth and Reality", according to Vexen
2005 Aug 13How does Acupuncture Work? Scientific studies included. Summary by Vexen
2005 Aug 07"Military Drill: Its Theory & Purpose" by Vexen Crabtree
Vexen Sociology: The Importance of Current Events is Amplified by our Egos
2005 Jul 20Pornography: Vexen on the porn industry
2005 Jul 20Hellraiser films; Reviews and Commentary on Hellraiser, the Cenobites, Pinhead. By Vexen Crabtree
2005 Jun 04If Vexen Crabtree was God, what would he do? And why doesn't God do these things?
2005 May 28"Cultural Religion and Scholarly Religion" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 May 03Vexen shows that Biblical Christianity Completely And Specifically Denies All Free Will
2005 May 01"Satanism is a Different Religion to Christianity!" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Apr 24New website on politics and countries, including new essay "Which Country Sets the Best Examples in the World?" by Vexen
2005 Apr 10God never needs to "test" us, it already knows what we'll do
2005 Mar 22"Prayer is useless and satanic, not godly" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Mar 20New dream pages: Dream Interpretation, The Biology of Dreams and Nightmares and Night Terrors
2005 Mar 19New page on "Homosexuality" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Jan 31"Fascism and Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Jan 27"Equality, Egalitarianism and Social Stratification in Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree
2005 Jan 25Friedrich Nietzsche on Vexen's A to Z of Satanism page
2005 Jan 06List of pages on Buddhism by Vexen
Archive of Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal entries in 2005

2007-01-01

The Taboo of Death

I have added the following text to "Death and Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree:

We divert our attention from disease and death as much as we can; and the slaughter-houses and indecencies without end on which our life is founded are huddled out of sight and never mentioned, so that the world we recognize officially in literature and in society is a poetic fiction far handsomer and cleaner and better than the world that really is.

"The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James, p103



The psychologist William James, above, spoke 100 years ago that normal Human beings hide death away. We clinicalize death, so that only trained professionals have anything to do with the practical side of slaughter, bodies, funerals and burials [Clark, 1993]. This denial of reality extends far and wide amongst the masses. Dead bodies do not litter the floor of battlefields in films, in computer games also corpses fade away majestically, and one's future death is hardly featured in public angst, except where the subconscious, desperate, finds expression in dreams.

The invisibility of death, the taboo of it, and the strong (largely) subconscious desire to avoid it during our reproductive years, fuels popular religion. The major religions of the world do, and always have, denied death and comforted people with the lie that we survive death. Hades, Heaven, Paradise and Nirvana are all names for the afterlife, despite the theological and philosophical impossibilities that arise.

2006-09-04

Don't want to die: Why isn't the world more futuristic?

The thought of dying is impossibly tragic, I just can't imagine being nothing and not caring about anything. In the thousands of years to come, we will be able to scan a persons' neurones in their heads and build a copy of their life thoughts... basically, to digitize our thoughts and therefore live forever, by dispensing with our biological bodies.

But... why am I alive NOW, and not hundreds of years in the future when such technology is possible?

Why do I have to *die* without seeing us explore the stars and planets, without seeing where Computers will lead us, and without seeing how far technology can go?

I mean... if I didn't have commitments here, and it was safe... I would freeze myself and tell them to wake me up in 100 years. But what if war, religious fundamentalism (Christians in the USA, & Muslims in the East) disrupt the cryogenic system? What a complete waste, to die without even knowing.

When I die... I want to it to be slow, predictable, visible... not sudden, not heroic, not unforseen. I want every last thought out of life!

So... I keep fit, eat well, keep my brain busy, drink lots of water... anything, to prolong life expectancy and mental health.