Intro Witchcraft 
For Milbourne Christopher who told me to write many years ago. This is what I found.
I am so curious that when I investigate a puzzle that has caught my fancy I make others and sometimes myself uncomfortable. Why would anyone want to go that deep just for fun? "I never heard of this before!" (Examples: Ahnenerbe, , the Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation, Curveball (informant), Mina Crandon, John Ernst Worrell Keely and the Keely Motor Co. and the Savior of Asia, Gesar of Ling. "What is the significance of that?" "This does not agree with other things I have read!" Before we try to explain something, we should make sure it actually happened. I get a lot of static on Wikipedia because I support and prefer the use of published: at the time autobiographies, personal diaries, letters, any and all primary sources, and the recorded spoken word in interviews and lectures as valuable tools for examining history and beliefs. I have found the personal biased records of a scientist's experiments many times published in his own papers and books are invaluable, and worthy of critical inspection. Also this scientist's statements in articles, blogs and someone else's book. I use published secondary sources referring to earlier published or lost sources if that is all I can find. Critical historians recognize the present generation reinterprets the past in their own terms. One cannot isolate a historical problem. It is a combination of many past effects, incidents and ideas from deceased people who can no longer speak for themselves. I sincerely believe voices from the present and past have a right to be heard and are not to be silenced for the comfort of editors who prefer the sole authority of selective (it is and must be on the tube) contemporaries. [A bit of sarcasm: I am too busy or lazy to examine materials I do not have immediately on hand.] I believe I have a right to criticize as brief as possible Wikipedia entries that reveal a lack of sincere investigation and interest. Unlike some of my critics, I do not admire brevity for the sake of brevity. Perhaps myself and others may desire a more informative wikipedia entry which satisfies US. Perhaps the statue, Venus de Milo, would be even more attractive if she still possessed her missing arms. I have a pet peeve about lazy people who complain about Wikipedia entries exclaiming that they be cleaned-up and edited, etc. but refuse to do these jobs themselves and those editors that delete Wikipedia material without obviously first reading it.
Trust me. The less you know about me the better. I am most definitely a philogynist  and a misandronist! Love the ladies!  What wondrous creatures.     I am a grunt and misfit. I lack tact. I am no master of words. My grammar is poor and I make spelling errors without spell checker. As will be seen here. I have minimal computer text skills and Wikipedia skills. My kind son is a computer programmer and often helps me out. Here I am often lost in space. In my past profession revising and changing are SOPs. [I do a lot of this on my wikipedia entries. I have seen complaints.] One must be careful about becoming emotionally attached to their creations. I have literally seen people crack and be taken away under the strain of the required flexibility in my past profession. I have been told to my face that a curiosity such as mine must come from Satan. In the real world friends are allowed to disagree. Many times, even including friends, I have also been told that no one understands me. James Randi once phoned my home and asked my wife if I was sane. She replied,"Saner than most." My wife and I laughed. Sandra said, "Others can not understand you because you don't have an ulterior motive." I have genuine curiosity. I enjoy learning about new things. I have always been fascinated by the obscure, creativity, self-deception and the mystery of existence. I am a collector of small details that others find insignificant that I can show are important if they are properly and slowly examined. I have concluded no one can read one book or article on a subject and become an expert. Conclusions are easily reached if one does not widely read and cease to continually explore new information. Conclusions offer comfort and an absence of anxiety. Satisfaction is a fulfillment of desire. In certain cases desire is emotional and not rational. Each person must find out what works for them as they create their own personal meaning of life.
The majority of Americans - 57% - say they believe in psychic phenomena such as ESP (Extra Sensory Perception), telepathy or experiences that can’t be explained by normal means.  It is popular that the ability to produce miracles is a side effect of an individual's greater spiritual development. For about 45 years I have closely watched the strange goings on, gullibility, and the SELECTIVE history of psychical research and its contemporary child parapsychology. At the top parapsychology rarely improves, frequently it is crackpot after crackpot. Many times they make outrageous statements and perform very bizarre experiments that their fellow scientists and laymen admirers blank out completely. Daryl Bem's Time Traveling Porn,  Parapsychologist Helmut Schmidt attempted to control the path of cockroaches with his mind. He concluded not all cockroaches have esp. The general public revering the title of "scientist" and "science" and knowing very little about the practice of critical science and the critical history of parapsychology rarely catches on. Parapsychologists are especially fond of statistical significance and meta-analysis. The general public knows very little about probability and statistics, the recognition of deception and crackpots. They have never taken the time to study delusion and deception in science. (Some information can be found in Martin Gardner's Fad and Fallacies: in The Name of Science pages 8-10.) All scientists in every field are susceptible to mistakes, delusions and fantasies. It seems likely these scientists gather and support each other. It may be that these mistaken scientists with delusions and fantasies make up a great number of those scientists within parapsychology. Scientists with delusions and fantasies have to exist somewhere. Scientists are only human beings. When I was thirteen and in the 9th grade and loving scientific pursuits, I discovered, to my dismay, a scientist I admired fudged his data and cheated. It was a lesson I never forgot. It would be some time before I learned about experimenter effect. Years later I saw Peter Hurkos  do a magic trick on TV and pass it off as proof of a psychic ability. I talked to the Michigan, Washtenaw county, sheriff's officers that escorted him around during the Michigan murders. They had nothing good to say about Hurkos. I followed the Atlanta Child Murders in the local newspaper, the Atlanta Constitution, keeping track of the so-called psychic Dorothy Allison who was chauffeured around by the police. She gave out 42 names of possible suspects, none of which matched the arrested and convicted suspect Wayne Williams. Uri Geller passed himself off as one with psychic abilities. Uri Geller got kicked out of Israel, his home country. The tricks Uri Geller performed there were a bit too overboard. Uri Geller is a multi-millionaire and now accepts praise and recognition for being a renown magician from David Berglas and the London Magic Circle. Some magicians say Uri Geller is a genius and did something good for magic. The popularity of spoon bending? To ruin the reputations of some gullible members of the scientific community? Magic has done this a number of times in the past. Ingo Swann fathered Remote viewing and the Stargate Project. 20 million dollars went down the rat hole. Is Swann to be praised? Also see Daniel Dunglas Home, Leonora Piper, Eusapia Palladino, Henry Slade, Arthur Ford, Gary Schwartz, Ted Serios, and Stephen E. Braude. See Braude's book The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations, University Of Chicago Press, 2007, this video interview , Brass, not gold, never seen breaking out from her bare skin in video, Julie Beischel, Project Alpha and Banachek
There is an urgent lust for transcendence and immortality of the soul, a survival of consciousness after death, especially among the poor and those who have suffered a bereavement. The heart breaking loss of of a dear loved one can only be known through personal experience. It cannot be put into words. It is obvious to anyone who has a serious intermediate education in magic and mentalism that John Edward, John Holland, James Van Praagh, Gordon Smith, Tom Colton, Allison DuBois, Laurie Campbell, Sylvia Browne, and others like them are unscrupulous cold readers and opportunists. They cannot contact the dead. These creeps have to be laughing all the way to the bank. Credible clients create credible psychics and mediums. Pretending and imagining one's self to be psychic can convince one's self they are psychic. I have been taught this and I have seen this occur. I am fascinated by the amoral way these Scam artists use the religious faith of the naive innocent for their own gains. Wolves in sheep's clothing. I wonder if they have one honest bone in their bodies. Some professional mentalists, mediums and psuedo psychics defend these actions. They say their deceptions are giving the bereaved comfort just like members of the clergy. The grievers are not being exploited. Mentalist and psychic investigator Phillip Escoffey has stated phoney mediums stunt closure and inhibit the grieving process. The best scam artists do not appear to be scam artists. Watch, listen and read the daily news. Study the past and present: Ferdinand Waldo Demara, Frank Abagnale Jr., Mark Hofmann, Oded Golan, Clark Rockefeller, William Henry Ireland, John Myatt and Bernard Madoff. See: List of real-life con artists In a personal letter Dr. Oliver Sacks was kind enough to inform me that in his entire practice he has never come across a single individual with paranormal abilities. He seemed like a good person to ask. Like I said I am curious.
Like my mentor Martin Gardner, I do not believe in the existence of the supernatural or spirit world. I do not believe the Old One is a supernatural being with infinite power. The ancient God of the Bible, that I grew up with is a human creation, who acts like humans of that ancient time act. The Biblical God is a product of the spirit of the times within which earlier people lived. Primitive people create primitive Gods. More sophisticated people create more sophisticated Gods. (Notice the great change that takes place in Biblical literature as time passed. The savage God of the Old Testament, First Testament, or Hebrew Bible who kills all the innocent first born of Egypt and approves genocide in war becomes somewhat merciful, a healer and redeemer in the New Testament. Yet there is no specific condemnation of, or criticism of, slavery, the mistreatment and lower status of women and children, and barbarism with the exception of, now and then, human sacrifices.) The story of David beheading the giant Goliath and taking his head to the city of Jerusalem, and David collecting the foreskins (?) of two hundred slain Philistines, whether true or not, reflects the times, the early iron age. We have found ancient art depicting the Assyrian practice of collecting the hands and penises of their conquered dead enemies. People who believe in justice and immortality believe in Gods that are just and immortal. It is difficult for me to believe that God, if there is a creator, has human feelings. Martin certainly believed this creator, the Old One, existed. Martin was one of the world's great puzzlers. In Catholic theology God manifests his love through creatures. Religious traditions, as do all traditions, strongly resist change and do not welcome uncertainty. But as a society changes so do their anthromorphic Gods. The Old One may be only mysterious still unknown natural laws that create other known and familiar natural laws. There is a something. How can we be certain this something is conscious? Does a cut heal and not heal due to adaption? Is there a purpose of each species' physical structure being determined by the requirements for survival? If so, what is it? How much more is there to the universe than we can imagine? Many wise people think there is an unknowable outside the grasp of human mental capabilities. I do not think that unknowable is a delusion. Richard Dawkins in his talk, titled, "Queerer Than We Suppose: The strangeness of science," suggests that the true nature of the universe eludes us, because the human mind evolved only to understand the "middle-sized" world we can observe."
"The universe is the most exquisite masterpiece ever constructed by nobody", from G. K. Chesterton, was one of Martin Gardner's favorite quotes. Alas, skeptics claim Chesterton's statement falls through the cracks IF most of the universe is disorderly, or composed of dark-energy-matter. Indeed, by current assessment – and discounting plasma abundance, one may reckon that even rudimentary order is evident in barely 0.00001% of the cosmos. Still in effect, 93% of the universe can’t even be assessed for “order” since it can’t be seen. In the case of dark matter, one can only discern its presence indirectly by the visible effects on neighboring matter. In the case of dark energy, the underlying physical basis isn’t even known – though we know the result is an increase in the acceleration of the universe (arising from a cosmic repulsion attributed to dark energy). Could the universe create itself from nothing? Lawrence M. Krauss,Ph.D., internationally known theoretical physicist, proposes a positive answer in his 2012 book, "A Universe From Nothing". In the following order: Magic, Myth, Religion and Science have supplied us with desired explanations. If we are happy with something we look no further. Thus we are limited by our curiosity and comfort. One's beliefs are determined by emotional factors. Truly reason and the formation of concepts are influenced by our contemporary environment, various wants and needs. Human beings are not totally rational. When I asked my mother if she believed in an afterlife she replied "There has to be something more than this." I thought, "Mom, we briefly travel forward through time on a spinning planet full of life in an elliptical path around a flaming star. What is the Higgs boson? It boggles my mind." MAGIC is an overwhelming experiential moment of awe-inspiring astonishment from having witnessed something beyond comprehension. Everything science has so far examined has been caused by natural laws. A talented magician uses their skills bound by natural laws to delight and mystify his or her audience.
Isaac Asimov was convinced outside the universe's farthest boundaries there was NOTHING. Is that what was here before time began? Before Stephen Hawking's creation singularity? There are no other universes? We live in the one and only universe? We can only see our universe so there must be no others? This seems like the earlier mistake of accepting and teaching the Milky Way was the one and only galaxy a short 70 years ago. And of course we lived in the "center" of the Milky Way. At present the best guess is that our solar system's distance from the center of the Milky Way galaxy is 26,000 to 28,000 light years. The estimates vary due to the uncertainty in the exact size of the galaxy and the time it takes the solar system to complete one orbit of our galaxy. The time it takes our solar system to complete one orbit of the galaxy is referred to as the galactic year. Values for the galactic year vary between 200 and 250 million Earth years. That the values differ by 50 million Earth years is due to uncertainty in the values we have for the speed with which the solar system moves relative to the galaxy's center and the estimates for the value of the radius of our orbit. When we explore we broaden our imagination. There is a story that one of Augustine of Hippo's students asked the question, "What did God do before he created the Earth?" Augustine replied,"Making a place for people like you!"
We create everyday rituals. Some are as simple as reading a story in a certain chair. Sitting in a certain chair at dinner time. Doing exercises in a certain order, placing objects in the same places, creating order to replace a confusion of random. Religion and ritual help create a sense of order in a too big random world. The celebration of a birthday, of a special event, a rite of passage, and or a holiday are types of ritual. They note a certain special symbolic moment. Religion and worship have supplied the world with wondrous art, kindness and unspeakable hate and horrors. When I was a kid I was knocked unconscious. I remember the black and nothingness. Hours later when I became conscious my perception of time was all out of whack. Because of this experience, my observations of humanity, nature, an uncaring universe and the skepticism I have learned from studying (hopefully critical) history I am very doubtful of an afterlife. But I wouldn't be surprised if there is one. Martin Gardner was sharp! My wife, Sandra, strongly believed in an afterlife and a union with God. She was very wise. How fantastic and strange is the universe? Martin thinks that the reality of an afterlife would be strong evidence of a loving Old One. Every body croaks. What ever happens to you after that last breath happens whether you like it or not. The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson has been a long time favorite of mine. It has only recently been edited and updated. The new version by John Stoddard and William Hope Hodgson is "The Night Land, a Story Retold." "It has been called "the most touching, exquisite... romance that has ever been written" by the Bookman. According to H.P. Lovecraft "The picture of a night-black, dead planet, with the remains of the human race concentrated in a stupendously vast metal pyramid and besieged by monstrous, hybrid, and altogether unknown forces of darkness, is something that no reader can ever forget.." Most certainly, I am a romantic and a lover of illustrated books, science fiction, thrillers, westerns, magic, fantasy, horror, history, and all sorts of books.
Bible and Christianity
A few things in the ancient prescientific Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) just for starters: We know today disease, death and toil existed millions of years before there were humans. Original sin and the fall of man are serious theological errors of a less educated time. There was no human disobedience. The garden of Eden and Adam and Eve never existed. A snake never spoke. We have found no evidence of a world wide flood. After over a hundred years of critical archaeology in and around ancient Egypt we have found no evidence of the Israelites being held in bondage, building the so-called treasure cities of Pithom and Pi-Ramesses, as described in Exodus 1:11, or their mass 40 year journey crossing the Sinai desert. Frank Moore Cross in his 1973 book, "Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic," stated the Egyptians' boats over turn as they pursue the Israelites across the Sea of Reeds, in a little known version of the ancient "Song of the Sea." The 1914 edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia states that the stories about Moses in the Bible are "imaginary". In the 2003 edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia Moses' existence is no longer denied by scholars, but arriving at the historical substance of Moses has been made complex by authors and editors of the Pentateuch. Factual details have long been obscured in the oral and written traditions of the cult epic celebrating the historical deeds of Yahweh. In a Jewish library I visited Moses was in the fiction section. William G. Dever writes of the archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus as having been "discarded as a fruitless pursuit." He is not saying that he believes that the biblical Moses never existed. He is talking about what can be gathered from archaeological evidence. (See: "Exodus the Egyptian Evidence" edited by Ernest S. Frerichs and Leonard H. Lesko) There are ten plagues in Exodus 7:14-12:36, there are seven plagues in Psalms 78:44-51. and nine plagues in Psalms 105:28-36. We have found We have no evidence for the Israelites' military conquest of Canaan. The excavations of Jericho by Kathleen Kenyon proved John Garstang's earlier conclusions about the time the walls of Jericho fell were wrong. Joshua 6:1-23. Jericho was destroyed in the mid-16th century B.C.E. and was unoccupied in the late Bronze age, except for a small area for a short time in 14th century B.C.E.. Biblical scholars agree The Book of Joshua has little historical value. It was written much later than was earlier believed. We have found no ruins of the cities Sodom and Gomorrah at the south end of the Dead Sea. Where they are supposed to be. But we do know there are natural salt formations there, that with a little imagination could look like a person. Book of Genesis 19. I am tired of ignorant skeptics calling the Bible stories fiction. Biblical scholars claim this is Theology that has been preserved from a primitive and barbaric culture very different from our own. Certainly this literature reflects an ancient time, train of thought, environment, and social structure. (See The PBS TV NOVA Program: "The Bible's Buried Secrets: Archaeology's New Theories". This will give you the latest information. www.shoppbs.org) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qalTJzk4kO0 * NOVA's The Bible's Buried Secrets page * The Bible's Buried Secrets at the Internet Movie Database The conservative American Family Association has issued an online petition urging Congress to cut off federal funding for PBS. "PBS is knowingly choosing to insult and attack Christianity by airing a program that declares the Bible ‘isn't true and a bunch of stories that never happened,’" signers of the petition are encouraged to declare to members of Congress.
Biblical theology is often being taught in an entertaining story form in BOTH the old and new testaments of the Bible. Lessons are best taught and remembered by the use of story form. They are not meant to fool or trick us but to tell us the truth in a way which is significant for human beings with a special capacity for story and all that means. Think about how you are engaged as you read the science fiction classic, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, a book like Robert McCammon's world fantasy award winning novel, Boy's Life, or Mark Twain's, classical American fiction, Huckleberry Finn and Charles Portis' western novel, True Grit. There is no problem that the story is not literally true; it still manages to let you enter into a world of compassion, imagination, different times, places and cultures and possibly meet the truth of what it means to be young, to truly love others, to imagine growing up and all that means, to reclaim parts of your own past, to meet heroes and heroines with values and character that the reader admires and will remember and desire to imitate in their own lives, etc. Stories are very powerful they can capture your emotions and if you are deep within the story can remove you from the real world. From my faithful friend's perspective Jesus' capacity to tell really unique teaching stories is a witness to his uniqueness --- more so than the stories of miracles. His stories are so unique and powerful in their capacity to empower change in us they seem miraculous to her. I accept many books outside the Bible, family, friends, experiences, counselling, etc. and one's altered view of reality can bring about dramatic changes in a person's life. Tao, Buddhism and Confucianism all present moral codes. The Apologist Justin Martyr, said both Socrates and Heraclitus were Christians before Christ: "those who lived reasonably are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them." 
The faithful claim science is a search for certainty in an unsure world. The faithful also claim scientists MUST make a kind of pre-faith leap in order to do science; they must TRUST that the reality that they perceive is ultimately intelligible and that human beings are capable of knowing the truth. The skeptic counters: the thrust of scientific inquiry, rather, presumes an approach to objective truth is by way of successive approximations. Religions - by contrast- simply impose their truth ab initio by fiat or decree. There is no attempt whatever to incorporate any approximation. Or to even acknowledge that 'truth' can't be accessed all at once. Rather, one must set rational truth aside and succumb to ‘faith”. The faithful say science cannot proceed without such an act of 'faith.’ The skeptic counters no one embarks on high quality research without a good idea that one's goal will be achieved. By contrast, if science's quest for knowledge were merely based on an internal (subjective) faith in its methods and rites, there would be no hardware ever emerging from discovery of first principles. Nor would there be advances in the hardware. The reality of the hardware, and its effective practical applications, implies that science must be based on something radically different from faith. In essence, there must be a substantial and objective dimension to scientific knowledge, i.e. that exists apart from the scientist's mind and personal beliefs. For example, there is no disputing the reality of high-speed computers and micro-processors, medical imaging and diagnostic devices (e.g. MRIs), more efficient telecommunications systems -including fiber optics relays, and novel advances in gene mapping and splicing techniques. Collectively, these show two things: 1) that science as a process cannot be "standing still" - since technology advances and technology is the offspring of applied or basic scientific research. The very fact we began with the airplane of the Wright brothers and in time succeeded in landing crafts on distant worlds like Mars and Venus shows in no uncertain terms humans can obtain the truth through science. And 2): these researches can generate real, physical counterparts in the objective world. In addition, the discoveries didn't hinge on faith but on basic curiosity and open inquiry into how things work in nature. Arguably, NONE of these things would ever have been invented, developed had science merely been based on some "faith" quest. Faith does not assure of any depth to reality because unlike science - which recognizes impossibilities based in the conservation laws (i.e. the entropy law renders it impossible a dead man can ever come back to life like Lazarus), faith leaves them open. Also, faith provides no tests of itself so how can we know what it embraces is true or false? An immaculate conception? A "miracle" in which thousands at Fatima claim to see the Sun bouncing around? A man walking on water? These are probably the product of the longing of the faithful because no empirical tests support them!
Humans are limited by their knowledge and senses. We base a lot on the sense of sight or observation. It used to be thought all dogs were color blind. They only saw things in shades of gray, black and white. That is disputed now. Still the world of a dog and the world of a human are very different. Dogs do not seem to be able to read books. A dog’s sense of hearing is significantly greater than a human’s. Studies have shown that dogs are capable of perceiving frequencies about twice that of a normal human and can pick up and distinguish sounds roughly four times that of humans. This means that dogs can hear many sounds on frequencies that humans cannot even begin to detect and what a human can hear at 20 feet a dog can hear at roughly 80 feet. Dogs interpret their world through smell as they have anywhere from 150 to 300 million scent sensors (depending on the breed) compared to the 5 million we humans posses. A dog's sense of smell is 500 times that of a human. Dogs can smell cancer. Some animals and birds demonstrate mourning behavior. The way I understand quantum science (I admit I do not fully understand it. For one thing I got lost on particle spin). Quantum seems to open up a depth to reality that we do NOT fully understand. And - the way some use the word faith here makes the need to know less important. See: Tenyo's Geometrick  Lubor Fiedler's Brain 
Only the mysterious Jesus of a shadowy emerging faith can be known to us. Jesus is a common nobody. He is not a king or prince of the world. He is a Jew. He teaches by the use of parables, using simple stories that are not always understood by his closest followers. He limits his teaching to the Jews of small rural cities. As far as the stories go Jerusalem is the only large city to which Jesus ventures. We have no record of Jesus visiting Sepphoris, which was very near by. It is excluded. The sermon on the mountain and Jesus' teachings were not originally given to gentiles they were given to Jews. These teachings became to be accepted by gentiles and pagans much later as the gospels spread across the ancient Roman Empire and all ancient peoples believed Jesus was talking to them. From what we know today, Jews were the first to follow Jesus and later become the first Christians. Jesus talks about being kind and charitable. He is deeply concerned about good human behavior and what he calls the kingdom of heaven. Which at that time was believed by people to be up in the sky. He heals and promises that God, the creator of the universe, will reward the good with an eternal life. There will be divine justice. He himself is resurrected after his death, seen by his disciples and others, and finally ascends into the sky. He is first thought of as being the long awaited Messiah, or Christ by his earliest Jew followers. The early gospel writers sought out and selected parts of the to be Hebrew Bible and declared these parts were about and foretelling Jesus. The historical Jesus is lost and will remain that way unless someone invents a flying backwards in time machine. No one really knows exactly what he said or did. The most critical ancient historians and critical Bible scholars agree on only four things about Jesus. He was an actual living person, a Jew, was baptized by John and Jesus met his death by crucifixion at the hands of the Roman army. There are many guesses about the historical Jesus. He is ill-documented and remote. There is little contemporary hard evidence. Conclusions are based on presumptions and selectivity. We remain in the area of conjecture. We do not know the facts, especially what Jesus thought of himself. We cannot read Jesus' mind. We are unsure what words come directly from Jesus and what words are the inventions of the early church gospel writers themselves. Comparing the historical evidence of Julius Caesar to Jesus is ridiculous. In the New Testament Gospels it is claimed Jesus was discovered by astrologers following a moving star, was born of a virgin, cast out demons, calmed a storm, could see into the future, read minds, walked on water, raised the dead, told Peter where to cast his net in order to catch a fish with money in its belly, [Matt 17:27] rose from the dead and levitated. These examples and many others do not sound like historical evidences, but folktale and legend. How much of the Jesus Gospel stories is and is not history? What is the basis for deciding which elements of the Jesus narratives to keep and which to discard after a gap of 2000 years? Your own personal preferences? Many elements of these stories are to say in the least historically suspicious. The historical Jesus remains buried beneath layers of folklore, ancient miracle, magic, myth and theology stories. See: Lord Raglan's Hero Pattern  Today critical ancient historians know the ancient world was very different. It can only be imagined. In the ancient world predestination, Gods, divine heroes, demons, rising dead, miracles and magic were real. To doubt these things was rare and abnormal. According to William G. Dever magic and religion were the same. There was little curious inquiry and skepticism and little doubt about one's own experiences. Believing one can emotionally "feel the truth" is difficult to doubt even today.
In my grand parents' family Bible Jesus' "spoken words", translated into English, were printed in red. First of all, one must be wary of translations from other languages. In comparing translations and the interpretation of Jesus' words one finds they differ. How can any one conclude these are Jesus' actual spoken words at all? The early Church and proto-Christians could have put the words in his mouth and thoughts in his head. There are clues that this occurred. This would explain some of Jesus' contradictions that appear in the gospels which are rarely presented as if they have value. It is common for followers, contemporary and later, to put their own words in the founder's mouth. I have encountered this process frequently in my studies and in my lifetime. You hear it from the pulpit frequently. Someone reads and interprets Jesus' mind. Sometimes in very strange ways. What is true in the Jesus stories is this is the way a group of ancient preliterates and later literates who obtained first religious freedom and eventually power under the Roman Emperor,Constantine the Great, 306 to 337, taught there was a decided and only way these myths spoke. Later, after years of Church bickering Jesus, originally taught to be a predicted Jewish messiah and a son of God became the only God. It was certainly not broadly accepted earlier and immediately. (Characters, or heroes admired in stories inside and outside of history need not be accurate or real for you to desire and copy them within yourself. Ender Wiggin from Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead came almost immediately to my mind.) The hero's journey, rugged individualism, courage, the theme of the deathless and surviving hero ( the trials and bullets never kill him, he is a master of fighting skills) and the woman of his dreams has been told and retold in movies and literature over and over to an admiring audience. I find it interesting in the Gospel of John only Mary Magdalene is mentioned as being at Jesus' empty tomb in the early morning and later Mary Magdalene is the first person to see the resurrected Jesus before all his male companions. (Was she the woman of Jesus' dreams? Certainly Jesus seems to be the man of Mary Magdalene's dreams. Also See: "The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha and the Christian Testament" by Jane Schaberg) Today in Christianity Jesus is God and human perfection, an unobtainable human perfection, unobtainable yes, but THE Divine hero to be admired, revered and copied. People need heroes. They will always create them. Today professional Biblical Scholars have a greater desire to teach their theology and values than to translate the texts of the Bible accurately. The old testament texts are censored. Nothing must seriously endanger earlier Theology and Biblical traditions, even if there are known errors. See: Trials of a Translator by Ronald Knox, Sheed & Ward, NY, 1949. Sometimes some brave soul crosses the line and traditional theologians and the public go crazy. You do not bite the hand that feeds you. The truth is already known and written in stone. Raymond E. Brown, whom TIME magazine calls the leading Catholic authority on the Bible questions the existence of demons. To Brown in Jesus' time they were an inadequate explanation for sickness that Jesus and his followers accepted because they did not know any better than others of their time. Raymond E. Brown: An Introduction to New Testament Christology, Paulist Press 1994, page 41, Why would a person confess to being a witch possessing remarkable powers (without or with torture) if it wasn't true? Could they have been deluded or wanted to end pain. See:New Catholic Encyclopedia: Witchcraft At present time [during my life time (1942-20??)] the Catholic teaching of Jesus spending three days in tartarus before his resurrection, the existence of Limbo as being the final destination of unbaptized babies, and the use of the term "mankind" instead of humanity in Biblical translation are disappearing. Going to Hades is sometimes now kindly defined as being in a place without God. (Like living on Earth?) Instead of being in a place of eternal damnation and torture. It sounds kinder and softer this way. Supposedly we are no longer as barbaric as our ancestors. We have socially changed as long as we are comfortable. We are not always comfortable.
Irenaeus of Lyons, France (2nd century AD – c. 202) was, and is still, accepted as the oldest voice that there are ONLY FOUR gospels. Irenaeus' writings had been gathered and preserved through the pagan persecutions. When Constantine the Great granted Christians the freedom of religion Christian scholars examined their earliest historical surviving records concerning the gospels. By that time anybody and everybody claimed they were divinely inspired and cranked out a gospel. (This still goes on today.) According to Irenaeus there had to be only four gospels, no more or no less, because four is a complete magic number. It is perfection. There was an angel at each one of the four corners of the world. North, south, east and west. The four directions. Only four sphinxes with human heads and animal bodies. Sometimes these are described as mystical reasons by the faithful. This is what Irenaeus believed and perhaps had been taught. This became to be known as the apostolic tradition. It is the similarity, contained, and claimed to be in only the four gospels which are known by us today as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. For centuries Biblical scholars saw this clearly evident in the early Koine Greek texts. [To conclude that the gospels of Matthew and Luke were copied from the gospel of Mark and then extremely amended seems to have been outside the grasp of Eusebius of Caesarea's scholarly mind. Eusebius saw only parallels.] It was believed these four gospels changed people's lives. All other gospels were false. They were new, with some being composed in Irenaeus' lifetime. See: Muratorian fragment. (Take note of the fragment's dates. This is the earliest list of the gospels and the books of the New Testament that has been found. The names of two gospels are missing and lost. The Apocalypse of Peter no longer in our current New Testament is listed in the fragment as no longer being read in church.)
Because of its unique peculiarity and short length the Gospel of Mark is thought, by big time Biblical scholars, to be the earliest version of the Jesus story that has survived. Earliest does not mean truest. This has not made a lot of Biblical scholars happy. Half of the earliest Greek texts of Mark begin with "This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ." (In the Greek text Christ means the anointed one.) Others begin with "This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the son of God." Because of its added length and grandeur this is most likely to be a copyist's later addition. By comparing texts we have discovered that small groups of literature were added to the New Testament as time past. There are other passages that have come under suspicion with new discoveries and as Biblical scholarship improved and grew until our day. They are many forgeries attributed to Paul. They are rarely spoken of at the pulpit for this can endanger faith. In Mark Jesus calls some one else and possibly himself a son of man. Others call Jesus a son of God. Mark occasionally offers Greek translations of Jesus's presumably original Aramaic spoken words for his listening audience. It is firmly accepted that before the gospels were written into THE STORY they existed in earlier oral forms. These oral forms disappeared. This is a common occurance when literates become the authority and gain control. If this is true the origin of the gospels remains unknown. They are NOT what the critical historian terms primary sources as claimed by the prominent Biblical scholar Craig A. Evans and others. We have NO idea who and exactly when or where the authors gathered the materials used in the gospels as we know them today. We have no original documents. We only know them from copies of copies of copies with occasional errors. This is to be expected when copies are done by hand. It is thought that not all copyists could read what they copied. We can only make a best educated guess that stories about Jesus were gathered together and put in writing decades, forty to seventy years, after the life of Jesus. They are accepted only by tradition and faith as coming from Jesus' disciples. They are the ONLY sources that tell about the life of Jesus that were approved by the early Church for the Canon of the New Testament, possibly at the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa in 393AD, but all its records are lost to time. So the next synod, the Synod of Carthage in 397AD took up that cause again and supported the canon approved in 393. How this was done and who was directly responsible remains a mystery. There were other gospels of Jesus at this time but they did not meet Church approval. The gospels in our Bibles today are the earliest versions of the Jesus story. The others came later. Check out the famous Infancy Gospel of Thomas. This is why Irenaeus of Lyons states there are only four. The earliest manuscript of a New Testament text is a business card sized fragment from the Gospel of John, Rylands Library Papyrus P52, which dates to the first half of the 2nd century. The first complete copies of single New Testament books appear around 200, and the earliest complete copy of the New Testament, the Codex Sinaiticus dates to the 4th century.
The surviving copied claims from Papias of Hierapolis as to the origin the gospels, from what we now know today by good detective work, are suspect and likely to be a traveler's tale. This is not comforting. There is no virgin birth or sermon on the mount in Mark. These seem to be later developments in the Jesus story appearing in Matthew and Luke as the story grew and was amended. The author of Mark is very familiar with Jewish law. Mark is the only gospel that has been found with several different endings. With the short ending which is found alone only in the Mark's earliest texts the resurrected Jesus is never seen. Here Mark ends with frightened women, who have been told to stay silent, and an empty tomb. The other later two synoptic gospels, Matthew, and Luke many times copy passages of the, thought to be original, Koine Greek text of Mark word for word and are more grandiose. (The author of Gospel of Luke seems to be very fond of appearing angels). The Gospel of John begins with the Johannine Prologue (1:1-18). It is known as a mystical reflection on the "Word" of God. This is likely to be a later addition by a second and later author because of its distinct style and developed theology. There is emphasis on the pre-existence of Jesus as God, The biography of Jesus that follows in John is being accepted as coming from an earlier version called the Signs Gospel. There is a focus on Jesus' miracles or signs in John. The surprising dramatic resurrection of Lazarus only appears here. The Gospel of John tells a very different story, than Mark, Matthew and Luke and is believed to have been written using the other gospels for the progression of events. Things fall in the same order. In the Gospel of John there is a seasonal healing angel who appears at a well.(John 4:5) There are no exorcisms or warnings of an End Time in John. These are explicit in Mark and Matthew, the earliest gospels, leading some Biblical scholars and historians to conclude the historical Jesus was a apocalyptic prophet. I am fascinated by the way the so-called historical reality of Jesus' resurrection is debated by people more educated than I. Yet, the so-called reality of Jesus in a physical body flying or ascending into the sky (Where is he going? God's realm is a physical place up in the air?) is rarely questioned. The resurrection of Jesus is the climax and origin of Christian theology. Also See: Eostre
Paul of Tarsus appears out of nowhere, first as an enemy extremist against Jesus' disciples and then later as an extremist apostle traveling the ancient world attempting to convert others, mainly pagans, who are not required to be circumcised, to his brand of Christianity. Traditionally Paul, while being alone on the road to Damascus, had a personal vision of a raised Jesus. To Paul, this vision of a first raised Jesus meant that God would also raise others and give them salvation at the immediate approaching End Time. Paul warned the faithful of the approaching End Time in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. Paul was wrong. The end of time did not occur as Paul promised. The First Epistle to the Thessalonians is accepted by Biblical scholars as being the first and earliest document in the New Testament. It is thought to predate the gospel of Mark, the earliest gospel in its written form, by about 20 years. There is a small school of thought that proposes only because the End time did not occur were the gospels committed to writing at all. B.C.-A.D. According to the New Testament, The End time should have occurred before the death of the last Apostle. In the Gospel of Matthew 16:28, it records Jesus said: "Verily, I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." One by one, all the apostles and others of that time died. And the world rolled on for everyone else. . . . In the Book of Revelation the End time was predicted to take place with the fall of the city of Rome. See: Seven hills of Rome Again this did not happen. See: When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger, Pursuit of the Millennium by Norman Cohn and Questioning the Millennium by Stephen Jay Gould. Raymond E. Brown explains these mistaken prophecies exist because the End Time was extremely popular. There is End time talk in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Tests give strong reason for thinking that most of the Qumran manuscripts belong to the last two centuries BCE and the first century CE. Jesus and Paul were mistaken because they were only men who were products of their time. During the Jesus movement of the 1970's Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth" predictions about the End time were quite popular. Chuck Smith, a popular pastor, thought he could predict the End time. He could not. All predictions about an End time have one thing in common. They are always wrong.
The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, Borg and Crossan claim that the later letters of Paul, which are widely known to be forgeries, were created by the early church to dilute Paul's affirming and promoting of equal political, economical, social and civil rights for all people, and instead attribute to Paul the promotion of a church hierarchy, the condoning of slavery, and giving women a secondary status.
It is important to remember Christianity was not a hit outside a small group of Jewish people, for the most part pagans adapted it. The pagans brought with them their beloved theater, art, pageants, choirs, philosophy, science, mathematics, history, prejudice and superstitions. Basically only through pagan tolerance and converted gentiles did Christianity survive in the pagan world. ( At the time of Constantine the Great only ten percent of the Roman empire was Christian. Three quarters of the people in the Roman empire were illiterate. (100 AD to 400 AD) Modern scholars claim the four gospels were originally written entirely in Koine Greek. Biblical scholars believe this illustrates the influence of the scholarship of the pagan Greek world.
I have strong suspicions that the popular brutal theology of Jesus' death as a human sacrifice, or a dying and resurrected savior, to grant humanity salvation (immortality) was a later construction made by his dismayed followers after the pattern of other slain and resurrected redeemers in pagan religions through out the ancient world. I especially find the similarity of Tummaz and Osiris.  interesting. Possibly as far back as 2400 B.C.E.., we know today across the ancient world members of the faithful wept and wailed while their hero was dead in the underworld and then celebrated the return of their redeemer. Mythologist, anthropologist and champion of psychoanalysis, Joseph Campbell, was also intrigued by these similarities.
For over a century, various authors have drawn a number of parallels between the Christian views of Jesus and other religious or mythical domains. These include Greco-Roman mysteries, ancient Egyptian myths, and more general analogies involving cross-cultural patterns of dying and rising god While some scholars continue to support these analogies, others contend that the perceived similarities are often without historical basis, that first century monotheistic Galilean Jews would not have been open to pagan myths, and that the analogies are usually based on parallelomania, exaggerating the importance of trifling resemblances. But as I previously mentioned not Jews but pagans made up the majority in the new Christian religion. Christianity did not begin on a clean slate. How much did early Christianity borrow from its neighbors? This remains unknown but we do know it happened. We have ancient physical evidence to prove it. In ancient times pagan similarities were explained by the early Christian writers, such as Justin Martyr, as the work of demons and Satan, with the intention of leading Christians astray. [Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho (ca 147-161 A.D.) Catholic University Press, 2003] Historian, Justin Martyr believed Jesus to be pre-existing as God. Arnold J. Toynbee, saw these pagan similarities as a preparation for the advent of Jesus and Christianity. This seems unlikely to me. Students of archaeology and ancient art may find the Depiction of Jesus of interest. In earliest art Jesus is sometimes bare headed like Apollo, and bears a wand. Some of the earliest Christians may have thought Jesus to be sorcerer, magician, or divine man with magic powers. We are unsure. Only the Apostle Peter is also depicted in ancient art with a wand. I did not find any ancient art depicting Paul with a wand. Since the writings of Paul are so prevalent and authoritative in the New Testament this surprised me. A wand in ancient art is thought to be a symbol of power. Also see the informative pagan imagery of early Christianity  and the zodiac wheel portrayed in mosaic art on the floor of the Beth Alpha synagogue and other synagogues.
I think the cornerstone of the Bible is simply the belief that every thing happens for a Divine reason. But Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer prefers to put it this way, "Not everything is the will of God, but inevitably, nothing that happens happens outside the will of God." In other words, chaos, meaninglessness, etc. happens. Faithful Jews and Christians believe that God brings order and meaning out of these things and does so ultimately; nothingness is never the ultimate winner, death is never the last word or the final silence. Instead, a sovereign God brings all things to fulfillment and will one day be all in all. Isn't this just a flowery way of saying just the same thing? Every thing has a Divine reason? Since many incidents in the Jesus story are looked at as being predetermined, the fulfillment of past prophecy, there is some question about Jesus' portrayal in the New Testament as having free will. That the Divine required a human sacrifice of a savior, in this case Jesus, to give humanity redemption, a new life (immortality) may seem outrageous to moderns. Such was accepted and favored by pagans, the earliest Christians and many of today's Bible readers. One finds this this every evident in Catholicism and southern Baptists. "You are saved through the blood of Jesus" is a common phrase. Like those peoples who lived thousands of years ago, a bright future must be appeased by giving an offering. The past and present faithful prefer to take the blame and guilt for Jesus's torture and crucifixion and then celebrate Jesus' resurrection. My faithful friend claims God wills to redeem his creation and reconcile it to himself. To do this he must enter into all those places from which human beings have excluded him. Most especially he must be allowed to enter into the realities of sin and godless death. (Therefore Jesus, who later became God in 325 A.D. theologically speaking, had to be crucified to experience betrayal, horror, disappointment and sins humans encounter throughout their lives including a final death)' As far as we know Jesus, himself, never experienced the slow creeping terrors of Lou Gehrig's disease, leprosy, schizophrenia, terminal illness, the paralysis of polio, dismemberment, burning, etc. Jesus is supposedly crucified for three hours. There are people who reenact Jesus' suffering on the cross every Easter.
As for the reality of Jesus' resurrection it is claimed by the faithful only an event of genuine resurrection (not merely return to this life, but NEW life) could have changed the disciples from frightened, cowering, former disciples to those who proclaimed the risen Christ with courage. Such a change is as unprecedented as the belief in Jesus' resurrection actually is. But if Jesus did not come back from the dead, how could the disciples overcome the trauma of watching their leader killed and go on to found Christianity?” Would they deny his death. After all Jesus taught there was an afterlife. Some of Elvis Presley's fans refused to accept he died. Would it be likely for resurrection stories to begin and grow? Is there wish fulfillment and emotional contagion or folie a duex at work here? The gospels display very different versions of resurrection stories that indicate growth. But what happened to Jesus' body? Couldn't it have been easily displayed by skeptics? John Dominic Crossan ventures that Jesus' body was pulled away and torn apart by wild dogs. Perhaps, perhaps not. A wonderful 2000 year old puzzle. Remember the gospels are Theology and nonliteralistic. They support a primitive belief in magic and the supernatural that has been preserved from an ancient barbaric time and culture very different from our own. They are not and were never meant to be critical history. They are articles of an ancient faith and pre-scientific primitive world view. In the Bible storms and disasters were seen as the products of Satan. God's breath became the holy spirit. Earthquakes were caused by God's footsteps. They were not natural disasters. Disease and death were the results of sin and disobedience to God. In studying the Bible one steps back in time to inadequate answers that were popular and believed long ago. See: the Roman Pontifical Biblical Commission's "Instruction on Historical Truth of Gospels" (1964), "An Introduction to New Testament Christology" By Raymond E. Brown, Paulist Press ,1994, and Charles H. Talbert. "The Concept of Immortals in Mediterranean Antiquity" Journal of Biblical Literature, Volume 94, 1975, pp 419–436  Charles H. Talbert. "The Myth of a Descending-Ascending Redeemer in Mediterranean Antiquity", New Testament Studies, 22, 1975/76, pp 418–440 Also see:Resurrection: disappearances.
There is a similarity in Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál, Odin is attributed with discovering the runes. In a sacrifice to himself, the highest of the gods, he was hung from the world tree Yggdrasil for nine days and nights, pierced by his own spear, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds. If this sacrifice of life theology is in reality a fact it is far outside my world. It strikes me as being very weird. But then again man made religions are very strange. Some times they are helpful, utterly ridiculous and other times threatening. Questioning and genuine curiosity are not fostered, rather intellectual boundaries and obedience to tradition. Changes are not welcomed. They bring discomfort. The masses find higher education threatening. In the world of Biblical scholarship, critical history, archaeology for archaeology's sake and human rights it has been an up hill battle. Many changes take place during one's lifetime. The are not any female biblical scholars in the first 1968 Jerome Biblical Commentary only later in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary 1990 do they first appear. As with all other previous generations only change and adjustment is constant. I saw the racial segregation of blacks in the south, the whites only signs. It ended in my life time. Among the things my deceased mother saved there was a newspaper clipping about the first black woman employed by the J.L. Hudson department store in downtown Detroit, Michigan. My mother was born in 1920. This was the first year women were allowed to vote in the U.S.A. When I was a kid I remember there were blue laws in Detroit Michigan, only pharmacies and gas stations were allowed to stay open on Sunday.
Catholic Biblical scholars use the Latin term vaticinium ex eventu, or foretelling after the event. Christians and Jews of the past and today believing in magic and fortune telling created their own prophecies as they misunderstood and reinterpreted the Old Testament texts as the belief in Jesus being the foretold messiah and son of God grew. The author of the Gospel of Matthew had a habit of taking parts of the Koine Greek, Septuagint, not the Hebrew Bible, out of context and using the phrase "as spoken by the prophets". A clue that it seems unlikely that this gospel writer and the others who stuck to the Septuagint text were capable of reading or caring about the original Hebrew. In the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus speaks while dying on the cross he quotes Psalm 22 . Matthew does this to persuade his, Greek reading possibly pagan, audience that Jesus was the foretold Jewish messiah and a son of God. It takes hundreds years before Jesus, a son of God, becomes a one and only God. The meaning of the term son of God evolved as hundreds of years passed by and social changes took place. There were various Christian sects who had very different opinions as to who Jesus was and what he taught. Finally Christian bishops, by popular vote, officially proclaimed Jesus to be God at a Church council, A.D. 325. The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day İznik in Turkey) This put an end to the then theological argument that Jesus was of a lower rank and a submissive subordinate to God. See: Arianism. The Ebionites believed in the Messianic character of Jesus, but denied his divinity and supernatural origin. Examine the difference between the early Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. By popular vote at the First Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431 the early Church defined that Mary can be properly referred to as the Mother of God, not in the sense that she is older than God or the source of God, but in the sense that the person she carried in her womb was, in fact, God incarnate ("in the flesh"). The Virgin Mary was to be called Theotokos this word originating from Greek language "means god bearer". This was due to the influence of Emperor Theodoius II's sister, Pulcheria's zeal for her faith. She took Bishop Nestorius' attacks on the Theotokos as a personal affront. Nestorius was banished. ( See: Divine Heiress: The Virgin Mary and the Creation of Christian Constantinope by Vasiliki Limberis). It may be just coincidence that the Temple of Artemis (Greek: Ἀρτεμίσιον, or Artemision), also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to the virgin goddess Diana, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, stood also in Ephesus. Early hymns to Mary preserved the strong indigenous goddess traditions of Demeter/Persephone, Isis, Hecate and Athena.
Biblical studies do not stand still. New things are always being discovered that bring about reinterpretation. Scholarly Biblical studies containing new knowledge and challenging earlier and outdated knowledge are volatile to many people. There is a hunger for the security of past, proofs and convictions. (I have found this to be true in many scientific inquiries). It is very difficult to be flexible and change one's mind after you have created a conviction on evidence that no longer seems valid. Especially if you are convinced your conclusions were divinely guided and void of human error. This seems unlikely. See: On the Jews and Their Lies by Martin Luther, The Long Death: The Last Days of the Plains Indians by Ralph K. Andrist, and Seizing Destiny: How America Grew Sea to Shining Sea by Richard Kluger. Sigmund Freud, the revered explorer of the unconscious mind, was confident of Penis envy in women who did not always display feminine traits and disregarded women clients who claimed they had been sexually abused by a family member. He was also confident the farting of children was a sign of rebellion. (But to Freud, who smoked cigars, a cigar was always just a cigar). Expect to have incorrect convictions due to limited explorations in your time and culture. (Besides being a Jew hating bigot Martin Luther was a very vulgar man).
In 1995 the Biblical Archaeology Society published a book containing the best queries and comments of letters to the magazine Biblical Archaeology Review, titled Cancel My Subscription. Bible Review was a publication that sought to connect the academic study of the Bible to a broad general audience. Covering both the Old and New Testaments, Bible Review presented critical and historical interpretations of biblical texts, and “reader-friendly Biblical scholarship” from 1985 to 2005. It was trashed and after 2005, Bible Review in very very small chunks merged into Biblical Archaeology Review.
Early on I was taught by the great magician Milbourne Christopher to always read a book with a pencil nearby. I have lost much reference materials because I didn't listen. I consider myself a puzzler, an amateur historian and a fan of psychology. The goal of a critical historian is objectivity. I try. When I disagree with someone I am called a skeptic, but I am not. I just collect data and try to critically examine it with objectivity. I am a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Order of Merlin Shield (35 years in the I.B.M.) and a long time member of the Association of Ancient Historians, but I am not a professional ancient historian. My favorites are ancient historians Edwin Hatch, E.R. Dodds, Ramsay MacMullen and Bart D. Ehrman , American New Testament scholar, Norman Perrin, Pheme Perkins, Raymond E. Brown, Rudolf Bultmann , the Encyclopedia Britannica, Jewish Encyclopedia, the New Catholic Encyclopedia in both its old and newer editions, and the new or older edition of The Jerome Biblical Commentary. The problem with the JBC is the limited exploration of probabilities, lack of knowledge, ill documented incidents, and persons exaggerated or otherwise, that may or not have taken place or lived thousands of years ago, [which is to be expected] and the complete insistence of the existence of supernatural forces and miracles. Certainly when you read the Bible you are seeing the world by a best guess translation from the faithful through the eyes of supersitous primitive and ancient people who sometimes have different versions of the same story. (Doublets) Many moderns do not seem to be able to grasp these huge cultural, historical, and technical problems, such as the translation, the understanding of ancient languages and the theology incorporated in oral traditions. I am a fan of archaeologist, William G. Dever. Over the years I have watched with interest the slow accumulation of archaeological evidence that support Dever's claims that archaeology should be preformed for the sake of good archaeology alone, and if new findings present evidence and interpretation conflict with the older very conservative conclusions made by William Foxwell Albright, who desired to prove the Bible to be historically true, let this be known to the public.
I have contributed historical materials to the American Museum of Magic and others. I was an ancient historical consultant for Paul Kurtz's book "The Transcendental Temptation: A Critique of Religion and the Paranormal." Paul sent me chapters of his book as he wrote them. Paul asked to review and criticize his work. I considered this a great honor. Paul took none of my advice. In fact, he told me the chapters he sent to me went to the printer first. I knew this was not true because I saw early material that never appeared in the published book. I was very disappointed and hurt. Soon after this I contacted Martin Gardner for the first time and told him about my plight. Martin told me Paul had strange ideas. Paul told me without skepticism one only has nihilism. That he was confident that either Jesus never lived or if he did live he was a magician. I thought this to be odd and mistaken. (See: "Jesus the Magician" by Morton Smith, a noted ancient historian. At the invitation of Paul Kurtz Smith had lectured to CSICOP. Like so many others Smith was confident only he, after 2000 years, had recovered the true historical Jesus. Smith concluded Jesus was a charlatan magician who preformed secret homosexual rites. I was the only slight of hand magician who corresponded with Morton Smith. His hand writing was terrible. He was very knowledgeable about ancient arcane magic but he was not very knowledgeable about Biblical problems. He was sure he had discovered a small bit of a copied text from proto-Mark in a fragment of an ancient letter written by Clement of Alexandria. Smith was positive his interpretation of this small bit of text was correct. Others claimed seeing this same letter in the monastery where Smith had found it. This was not a hoax. From my correspondence with Smith I do not think Smith had the talents of a hoaxer. I believe Smith was mistaken in his conclusions. The fervor of his unique discovery had caused experimenter effect. Only he had found the true historical Jesus after 2000 years seemed most unlikely. It seemed more likely this proto-Mark was a text written by the 2nd century Gnostic Carpocratians. After all Clement's letter was about the Carpocratians). Though we never met face to face I found Martin and his wife Charlotte delightful. Charlotte was completely puzzled with Martin's study of the Urantians. (Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery). "Who ever heard of them?" she questioned. Martin said they were so weird he had to write about them. Martin told me I taught him a lot. That seems impossible. In our last correspondence Martin wanted to know the various locations of Mary, Jesus' mother's tomb. I only found information on two. Once Martin did a magic trick with me over the phone. I loved it. I put my own twist on it and have baffled many intelligent friends with it. My long time psychotherapist became very uncomfortable and expressed anxiety. I was well pleased. She had experienced the performance art of magic. I have just discovered a splendid version of this trick created by magician Paul Gordon called "Knock Them Dead" and demonstrated by one of my favorite magicians, Aldo Colombini. I was surprised to see a photograph on line of Martin and James Randi where Martin is displaying Robert Sabuda's incredible Alice's Adventures in Wonderland pop-up book I sent him. It must have thrilled him. When one seriously studies deception and error it can fill one with distrust. I am very fond of the unique magical toys manufactured by Tenyo. They are truly amazing and rarely performed as magic for the public. They have become collector's items.
About thirty years ago when I first got very severe clinical depression. My wife, Sandra, and I shared near to exact visual hallucinations including mutual nightmares, folie a deux ( at this entry be sure to check out related phenomena and become aware of the military incapacitating agent BZ in the late 60s). This came as quite a surprise.  Especially to me. Could this be telepathy occurring in mental illness? Supporter of remote viewing, Marcello Truzzi was very confident a shared visual hallucination could not be skeptically examined by one of the participators. Truzzi brushed off shared visual delusions of folie a deux as an anomaly. Yet, Truzzi blasted critics of the paranormal experiments that concluded the statistically significant positive results being found by meta-analysis may not be due to a psychic ability but instead to anomalies. (As used in statistics statistically significant does not mean important or meaningful, as it does in everyday speech. It means other than chance. That includes a lot of territory. Not necessarily a psychic ability.) In a 26 October 1982 interview on the Detroit Free Press Science page Truzzi stated that controlled ESP, Ganzfeld experiments have "gotten the right results" maybe 60 percent of the time. This question remains controversial. The results reported by others were far below 60 percent. Regardless of the many claims by parapsychologists and their fans, quantum physics is a doubtful answer to the question of consciousness and brain activity. Plain old chemistry is certainly a great part of what makes a person who they are. See: Risperidone, Bupropion, Lithium Carbonate, Fluoxetine,Thorazine, Trilafon, Elavil, Imipramine, Ritalin, and Endep. These medications and others do not affect human behavior and mental illness due to quantum physics.
Sandra said her religious faith gave her a greater capacity to love. Certainly Sandra's Catholicism was a part of her I dearly loved and respected. Having a religious faith does seem to make one happier. A person's faith is a vital act of will. James Randi's atheism and the atheism of many others does not seem to keep them happy and inquiring. But it does keep the clique supportive of each other. There seems to be an arrogance and haughtiness among some scientific and pre-scientific people with little hope of compromise and tolerance. Love, understanding, and friendship can rise above all this. If survival is at stake and a person's life is endangered then people find it easier to put true beliefs aside and accept the value of others whose philosophies and religions clash. I find this of deep interest and concern. One well known mentalist and magician said Randi is just an angry old man. I have yet to decide. The dark side of religion or any cause is BLIND OBEDIENCE. On 2 May 2008 Sandra passed away from breast cancer. We had been married 42 wonderful years. It was like a fairy tale. I was married to Radha, Snow White, Scheherazade or a dancing fairy princess. Mirdath, My Beautiful One, hopefully I shall find and hold you again.  Sandra and I both agreed our lives have been extraordinary adventures. Due to Sandra's illness I retired to care for my darling. For the last 2 years and about 6 months of her life I was her primary caregiver. I would read aloud and delight my Cherished One in the evening with a story. In previous years I had introduced her to the outrageous worlds of Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, Algernon, the mouse, Lincoln Rhyme and his love Amelia Sachs. This time I introduced her to Jane Whitefield, Nina Zero, Jay Fletcher, the brave women of Lisa Scottoline, and Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life, Going South, Mine and Swan Song. I intentionally skipped James Morrow. Is anyone ready for the satire of Morrow? Who? Loved his Towing Jehovah, Only Begotten Daughter, Shambling Towards Hiroshima, etc. I still read aloud in the evening pretending my darling is with me. Sandra would have been hooked on Lisbeth Salander. My daughter is a long time fan of Modesty Blaise.
I am wary of philosophers, theologians and scientists as being accepted as critical historians. They are not. In a lecture to the New York Theosophy Society, Secret Doctrine Class, famed parpsychologist Dean Radin, who was convinced the phases of the moon affect gambling slot machines, stated Eastern yogis could see into the past, present and future, read another person's mind, and levitate. Radin asked his audience,"What do they know that we don't know?" Radin, psychic researchers of the past, and the whole school of modern parapychologists have not produced one such person. It seems very doubtful from the information critical historians, magicians and scholars have gathered even as far back as the ancient past, that such persons ever did exist. Strange stories, superstitions, the belief in miracles, prophecy, magic, and the occult flourished and grew without challenge, and still do today. See Supernormal by Dean Radin. Magicians and the medical and scientific communities have sought out persons with astonishing powers and examined the data on miracles for over a hundred years. They have never found one that stood up to skeptical investigation. [I personally researched and collected scientific and historical data on the miracles and apparitions of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima. I was informed by scientific materials sent to me by Encyclopedia Britannica that there was much medical misinformation from Lourdes. The young girl who saw Mary, Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos, became a nun and was continually visited by [the apparition] of Mary the mother of Jesus while living in a convent.] But they did come across talented tricksters, hustlers, delusions, unusual unsupported and ill-documented claims that gradually became more elaborate as time passed. This can easily be seen in the growth of the empty tomb story of Jesus from the earliest gospel, the Gospel of Mark, into the resurrection accounts that are written in the later gospels. Only Mark's short ending [Mark 16:8] is found in the earliest surviving Greek texts of Mark. (Feminist Biblical scholar Jane Schaberg has pointed out here in the short ending of Mark, only four faithful women discover Jesus' tomb is empty. None of the male disciples who deserted Jesus accompanied them.) Supposedly Christianity was financially supported and attractive to ancient women. Mithraism, across the whole Roman Empire, was a soldier's religion that excluded women. Today we know the longer endings of Mark, there are more than one, are newer additions found in newer texts. Jesus only becomes a pre-existing God in the late gospel of John. Also see: Andrew Dickson White (1896 first edition. A classic work constantly reprinted) A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, See chapter 13, part 2, Growth of Legends of Healing: the life of Saint Francis Xavier as a typical example. See:The Greeks and the Irrational by E.R. Dodds. For my fellow puzzlers in magic I suggest the classic book: Greater Magic by John Northern Hilliard, containing his fine thoughtful and brilliant essays In the Beginning- and And at the End- these mysteries are as true today as they were when Hilliard gathered them in 1938.
Albert Einstein taught, "Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth,". Remember that each time YOU have created a conviction and have refused to "change YOUR mind." Errors hurt. Remember that each time you fail to investigate a puzzle entirely and your happy satisfying conviction brings about the end of your inquiry (too soon?). I make a lot of mistakes but I try to learn a lesson from each one. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I am a slow learner. (Read: "Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain" by Michael Paterniti). Due to powers beyond my control this is my second user page. I have found the Wikipedia a blast but disappointing. Genuine curiosity seems to be rare and not greeted with open arms when examining so-called touchy subjects. Be a careful inquirer and puzzler. Be cautious about reaching conclusions and closing your mind. There is endless data. Do not expect to collect it all. You are limited to the selective knowledge you can collect in your lifetime. You have no choice. Remember also as a human you are limited by your senses, that can easily be deceived and easily influenced when exploring unfamiliar ground. Good-bye Martin, my dear friend and teacher, as puzzlers we understood each other. Perhaps we are theists of a different color. I find it fascinating that I am frequently misunderstood by others who assume they can read my mind and tell me the direction of my thoughts without my complete disclosure. I do not think that is possible. Each individual measures reality through their own perceptions. What you perceive to be so is used by a magician to entertain and amaze you. Your perceptions are very limited. In life each individual has their own particular history, experiences and feelings. Can science be used to choose a lover, a friend, a special time, a favorite book, favorite piece of art or music? Most importantly we believe what we tell ourselves. Accept the likelihood that you can be wrong. Master magician Jerry Andrus stated magic defies the laws of nature. It is unlikely we will ever know all the laws of nature. In nature we find curious patterns (sometimes mathematical), symmetry and Fractals. Why are they there? What is nature? What is time? Does it have a beginning and end? How did something come from nothing? Is mathematics the language of the universe? Like Martin Gardner, my mentor, I am quite content to confess…that I have no basis whatever for my belief in God other than a passionate longing that God exist and that I and others will not cease to exist. Accepting there may be a God makes me feel good and certainly consoles me and others. I would be delighted to hold Sandra once again forever. "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." –Helen Keller– I do KNOW that love, goodness, and compassion exist. If God is a symbolic name for WONDER, LOVE, GOODNESS, and TRUTH I do not believe God exists. I KNOW God exists. I am very doubtful and suspicious that God dips his finger into human history and is correctly and definitively portrayed for all time ONLY in the ancient pre-scientific books of the Bible. To me this seems very unlikely and childish. It is more likely history is in the hands of people, their pictures of reality, their actions, and no one else. In India the Gods and Goddesses are most certainly symbolic and alive and well.
A boy once said to his father,"Dad, when I grow up I want to be a magician." His father replied,"Son, you cannot do both."
POSTSCRIPT I have a reoccurring dream about walking into the house and finding Sandra there.
I am startled and say,”What are you doing here?”
She replies,"What do you mean, what I am doing here? I’m fixing dinner.”
“Sandra, baby you are dead. I just got back from visiting your grave.
She smiles and says,“That’s ridiculous can’t you see I’m alive.”
I say,"Babe, maybe you should call your mother...."
In my dreams it does not make any sense that Sandra, my wife, is still alive and yet passed away years ago. She is known in my dream world as the woman who lived, died and lived again. Very mysterious.
I used the words and thoughts of many others to construct this User page. I thank them. I hope the reader has found this, my presentation of magic interesting, entertaining, amazing and memorable.
THAT'S ENOUGH BLABBERING! NOW LADIES AND GENTLEMEN HERE IS THE SHOW. ENJOY!
Marvel at the art of talented magicians, entertainers, dancers, and musicians
Rock Candy, Montrose 
Elvis Presley 1956 
J. P. Vallarino Macdonald's Aces 
Ryan Hayashi's Ultimate Cups and Balls 
Anthony Owen's Beautiful Oil and Water 
Caldonia: Louis Jordan 
Oriental Card Manipulation 
Sin City Jessica Alba
J. P. Vallarino's Wild Card 
I am a Good Girl 
World Champion of Card Magic 
Amazing Johnathan 
Bendy Kate 2014 Pole Dance Champion
Hotel California, Flamenco 
Ryan Hayashi's Ultimate Coin Matrix
Sin City Eva Green 
Glenn Falkenstein and Francis Willard 
Hans Moretti Cardboard box 
Ginger Lee Valentine 
Benjamin Earl 
Omar Pasha 
Max Maven 
James Brown 
Penn and Teller cut a woman in half 
Armando Lucero 
Samba Dancer 
Eduardo Galerno 
John Archer 
Galina and Sonny Hayes
Lady Marmalade 
Jaehoon Lim 
I'm a Voodoo Child: Winwood and Clapton 
Black Magic Woman: Santana 
You Can Leave Your Hat On, Joe Cocker 
The Music of the Night  Sandra was a big fan of Phantom of the Opera.
All Around the Watch Tower, the incredible Jeff Healey. Jeff is blind.
Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin 
One for My Baby, Frank Sinatra 
When Your Lover is Gone, Don Shirley 
Once I Had a Woman, Jimi Hendrix
Some to Watch Over Me, Ella Fitzgerald 
Macarthur Park, Waylon Jennings and the Kimberlys 
It's About to Begin, Robin Trower 
Bridge of Sighs, Robin Trower 
In This Place, Robin Trower 
Shattered, Linda Ronstadt and Jimmy Webb 
I Miss You, Sandra. My Darling I Love You and I Always Will.
Sensual passion and love We knew them well.
Copies of this essay in an earlier form (January 2015) have been sent to The London Magic Circle and The Smithsonian Institute. This page is continually being edited and revised with new data.
I was informed 1 Jan 2015 by the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C my question of "What is the proper age for a student to be introduced to the classic study: A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom by Andrew D, White?" was forwarded to the Religious Studies Department but has not been answered.
- New PBS program says Bible isn't true, stories made up, AFA Action Alert, American Family Association
- Josh Kimball. 'Bible's Buried Secrets' Trailer Hits YouTube, Christian post
- Justin Martyr. "First Apology of Justin". Early Christian Writings.