User talk:Pma jones

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Thank you for your message on my talk page, I appreciate it. I don't think you lack intelligence, I think you just haven't read enough on the subject. Books by people like Hitchens and Dawkins are very popular, and they are boooks by smart men. But the fact is, they are also ignorant. What I mean is, they know little of Biblical criticism or Biblical history. A smart person can read the Gospels and say "I cannot believe that Lazarus was brought back from the dead." I think any rational person would share this refusal to believe. It is easy to say that the universe could not have been created in six days or that Jesus did not walk on water. What is much harder is to explain why people told these stories. Biblical historians acknowledge that this is hard. They spend years learning Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and for the Hebrew bible, Babylonian and Egyptian. In addition to learning these languages, they study the mythologies of other peoples, and what is known about their political and economic systems.

Then they do something even harder: they force themselves NOT to imagine that "religion" meant the same thing two or three or four thousand years ago as it means today. I have not actually read Hitchens, so I cannot say anything about his book, but i have met plenty of people who assume that people two or three thousand years ago thought like fundamentalists today. This is intellectually lazy, because all you need to do is guess what a fundamentalist today would think, and then you know how someone two thousand years ago thought. To my way of thinking, it is also implausible. I see the logic - fundamentalists reject the theory of evolution and much of modern science, therefore, people who lived before Darwin and modern science were fundamentalists. But this is speculation and anachrnonistic thinking. The Protestant Reformation challenged Europeans to rething, radicallly, what they meant by religion, and it involved wars where tens of thousands of people died. The decline in power of the Catholic Church led to weird (to me) changes. Did you know that among Catholics there is a belief in the infalibility of the Pope, that under certain conditions the Pope asserts he is speaking a divine truth? This sounds superstitious, so one might think that it is a relic of how people thought back in Roman times. in fact, Papal Infallibility only came into existence in the 19th century. When the "Papal States" were liberated to become part of modern Italy, the Pope proposed this new kind of authority. The rise of Protestantism, which also meant the rise of nationalist religions (e.g. the Church of England) also changed the way people thought about religion - maybe Puritans were protesting the state as much as they were proposing religious beliefs. I think religious fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon, that it came into existence in the context of political as well as scientific revolutions in Europe in the 17th, 18th, and 19th century. I think it is a reaction against modernity, like communism and the utopianist movements and romanticism were all different kinds of reaction to modernity. So when the question is, "what (or even how) did people think two thousand years ago," my answer is: "I am not so sure." From what I have seen on TV, the problem with Hitchens and Dawkins is, because they think they are smart enough to know some things, they are smart enough to know everything. But in fact, they are speculating.

You brought up something about Jesus from Nazareth from Hitchens - I happen to agree with him, or with you as it was your point. But just as you got it from Hitchents, Hitchens got it from others. There is a long tradition of Biblical criticism and scholar for a very long time - over a hundred years I think - have claimed that Jesus was born in Nazareth and that the Bethlahem stories (and indeed the story of the Virgin beirth) were all added later. Perhaps Hitchens has notes where he gives credit to the actual historians who first forwarded this theory. But Ellegard is just making things up. The one thing he should have learned from spending a lifetime studying the English language is, you need to spend a lifetimes studying something to be an expert in it. But he reached the opposite conclusion: he thought that because he was so smart, he could read some secondary sources and then speculate, and because he is a "linguist" (with expertise in English) he can speak with authority on texts two thousand years old and written in other languages. To me, this is as irrational as Papal Infalibility.

I agree with you that the phrase "theological construct" is unclear and therefor obfuscating. I just do not agree with you about what it obfuscates. I may be misreading you, but I think you think it is obfuscating the fact that something was made up. If you don't mjind (if you have gotten this far you are obviously kindly indulging me) I will try one more time to explain what I mean, and then offer a bit of advice. I want to try to imagine what people two thousand years ago thought, and like I said I feel I have lots of good reasons to assume that whatever they did think, it was very different from religious Christians today. The historical context is so different. Did they take the stories literally, so Jesus' miracles roved that he could break the laws of physics, that scientists are wrong? Or did they read it metaphoricaly, because the scientific mind knows that such miracles cannot occur? I doubt both of these interpretations - because back then they did not know the laws of physics, at least not the big ones, and i do not think that people were really arguing over "religion versus science." (One big argument I know of was between the idealist followers of Plato and the materialist followers of Jesus, and I know that these debates influenced early Christians).

The fact is -and yeah, I could be wrong - I do not believe that people read the gospels in order to learn what you and I would call a "historical accurate" account. Well, I do believe that they knew th difference between what you are calling a truth and a lie (e.g. they knew that the statement "The Greeks lost to the Persians at the battle of Marathon" is a lie) - I am just suggesting that they had other criteria they applied to other kinds of writings. Let me try a crude analogy. I am suggesting that to ask an early Christian whether x really did happen or did not happen is like asking a lover of classical music today whether Beethoven's 9th symphony is the truth or a lie. I think if you asked someone that question they would thinkl you were weird, because they do not even know what it means to say a symphony is a lie. They have completely different criteria for judging music. Now, you can say that there is a big difference between music and a written text. My point is just that there is a big difference between us and people two thousand years ago. This is a complicated point to make ande I agree with you that the way the article is currently written it is not clear enough. We need to improve it. But just saying the text is "wrong" is frankly a lazy and anachronistic (i.e. sloppy history) way out. It had some value to people two thousand years ago, and I think those people were not concerned with whether it was "made up" or not, but something else.

Now, here is my advice: Hitchens may be great if you want to learn about atheism. But if you want to learn about the New testament, you should read works by New Testament scholars. In the Jesus article I added citations for a few, and would highly recommend the one by E.P. Sanders. Other long-term editors might recommend other books, I think Sanders is very readible and sensible.

I appreciate your statement on my talk page that you consider most people sincere. Personally, I add that i think most people are smart. I think people two thousand years ago were smart, and I do not think they were gullible or that they made up fictions to explain what they did not know and then believed these fictions as truths (I think any argument along these lines is pure projection - sometimes it is WE who do not know, for exsample we do not know what motivated people two thousand years ago, or how they thought, so we fill in our own ignorance with speculation). I am not sure what people thought back then, I just do not think it was stupid. On my talk page you wrote maybe you are not intelligent enough to get my point, and i do not believe this either. I think you just haven't read enough books by Biblical historians to understand how they interpret these texts. I be if you read Sanders you would have a better idea. And if you read a few more books you would really understand the different ways historians explain thse things. Hitchens is a great source for an article on atheism. For an article on Jesus, why not read the best contemporary critical scholarship? If you are interested in discussing this stuff, you will find these books interesting and I promise yo you are intelligent enough to undersand it all! Slrubenstein | Talk 11:31, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

I have now read it all and although there are some points above that I disagree with, I think you express them well. To change the topic slightly, I think that quite apart from any claims of divinity, I think Jesus is a very flawed teacher of ethics, although there are some nice parables and ideas. He advocates the use ofeternal torture in hell, which is utterly immoral . I'm convinced that hell does not exist, but his threats are very real ( for example he says: Anyone who says you fool should fear the fires of hell. ) He is veryintolerant of dissenting views. For example he says he will not forgive people who deny the holy spirit. Again it is not something that I respect him for.
The only way to read the gospels and end up liking him is to assume that they are very unreliable and that his is being badly misquoted. But when if we have deemed the Bible to be unreliable, when it makes extraordinary claims, such as theresurrection, we couldn't possibly take them seriously.
For me, his claims of divinity are just the same as the claims that the Japanese royal family are descended from the gods. Extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence are deemed highly improbable. If Christianity were true, then it would raise so many unanswered questions. Conversely, if it was largely made-up around the life of a preacher who lived in Israel 2000 years ago then things make much more sense. Here are a sample few questions:
  • If it were important to God that people believe in him, then why did he give so little evidence. What about all those people in china who lived for centuries after the birth of Christ and never heard about him. For me that's strong evidence that the christian god doesn't care if we believe in him or not.
  • Why does God never give amputees new limbs in answer to their prayers?
  • Is it fair for God to reward people for believing in him, when all those who don't do so with sincerity. Following on from my all beliefs are sincere idea.
  • Why is nature so callus to humans?
  • If humans have an immortal soul, how does that fit in with gradual evolution?
  • If God wanted to have religion, then why do religious organisations have such terrible records on so many fronts? ( for example the inquisition )
  • If God knew that religions were going to cause so many wars, would he have regretted starting another one?
  • Why did god think it would be a good idea to have the following in the Bible:
I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
  • If God is really a god of love, then why did he insist on the slaughter of amalakite infants in the OT?
  • Why did Jesus keep telling people that the world was about to end?
  • Is it moral for God to eternally torture someone (in hell)?
  • Is it moral for God to threaten people with torture?
  • If Jesus could heal a blind man whom he happened to meet, then why not heel blindness?
  • Why has the bible been proven wrong about so many different things? For me, if it were really the word of god, then new science should always back it up.
  • If the story of Noah is metaphorical, they why forget to mention that and mislead people for so long.
Religion was the first attempt at history. It has long been replaced.
Religoin was the first attept at medicine, people now use science much more than religious relics.
Religion used to utterly define politics, thankfully that is less so now in much of the world inspite of the best efforts of the taliban.
Religion used to give people a sense of ethics. Here it is clinging on. Fortunately people are using the bible as their source less and less and now for example wives no longer feel the need to promise to be obedient to their husbands.
When I started writing this, I thought I'd just write a few lines to say thanks for your lengthy posting. Now my posting has become a bit of a rant.
Anyway finally, judging by what I've read of Hitchens, he seems to have ready quite a bit of theology.

Pma jones (talk) 18:26, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Just to be clear - it sounds lik you are a Biblical fundamentalist, are you? You seem to be one. Slrubenstein | Talk 19:02, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you mean by fundamentalist, though I would say, that the Bible really is a terrible book to get your ethics from. It is really important to first work out your ethics and then secondly read the bible. Pma jones (talk) 02:31, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

By fundamentalist, I mean: you believe that every word of the Bible is historically reliable. That is the only way you could say that Jesus "advocates the use ofeternal torture in hell." I ask because shortly after that, you suggest that maybe the Bible is not historically reliable, but then you write "when it makes extraordinary claims, such as theresurrection, we couldn't possibly take them seriously" and it just is not clear to me whether you consider it reliable or unreliable.

Historians have three choices facing them when they read any document: it is wholely unreliable, it is wholely reliable, and it is somewhere in between. Most Biblical historians believe the Gospels are somewhere in between. They reject supernatural claims (e.g. Jesus was resurrected thre days after being killed) and they accept claims that might have been embarassing to later Christians (e.g. Jesus being baptised by John the Baptist, and Jesus being crucified). There is some debate about pretty much everything else. But if you ever read E.P. Saunders' book, you would get the mainstream view of historians. I believe Jesus existed, but I do not believe he ever said people would be punished in hell. I do not believe that because it is a claim inconsistent with other things he said, and inconsistent with what Jews at the time believed. It is possible he said it, but it seems unlikely. I do not believe that Jesus claimed to be the messiah, because there are very few instances in the Gospels where he makes any such claims - they way I read the Goispels it makes more sense to think that he aspired to lead John the Baptist's followers after John was killed, and believed that the coming of the messiah was immanent. It is possible he believed himself to be the messiah, but I think it is unlikely. I do not believe in the virgin birth because (1) it is biologically impossible, (2) Jews at the time had no belief in a virgin birth (that such a birth meant anything) and (3) for Jews "son of God" does not literally mean that God somehow inseminated your mother. You say you reject Jesus' claims to divinity- I do not believe he ever claimed to be divine. I do not see any good evidence that he claimed he was divine. A claim to divinity would have had no meaning to 1st century Jews (it would not have been blasphemy, just silly). It made perfect sense to Romans, whose emperors were regularly deified after they died. So I think that it just makes more sense to believe that Roman Christians believd this, and put it in the New Testment.

I am just sharing with you some of my beliefs, but the real point here is that there are men like Saunders, or Geza Vemez, who have spent their lives not just studying the new Testament but Josephus and other historical texts of the time, as well as the Mishnah and other Jewish religious texts of the era. They have not just read English translation secondary sources on these documents, they have read them in their original language. And they have taught univesity courses on them. And they have gone to international conferences and given papers on them, in front of other world experts (not Christian clergy or theologicans, I mean other historians). So I think what they have to say about Jesus and the New Testament is worht listening to. I find it intelligent, thoughtful, and provocative. Like I said, if you just want to think more about being an atheist, Hitchens' book is the one for you. But if you want to know what Jesus was probably like - and of course this could still be a Jesus you personally do not like, historians are trying to reconstruct a Jesus as he probably was like, not a Jesus that will be popular! - you would love reading Saunders' book.

You are very kind not to complain about my leaving long messages on your talk page. So I am sorry to say this because i do not want to disrespect you, but there is one thing you write which offends me - when you use the word religion, you write as if the only religion in the world is Christianity. When you write about God, you write as if the only possible God is the Christian God. Maybe you just mean to say you reject Christianity, but you most just talk about God or religion

I guss i should be up front and tell you I am Jewish. I do not believe all the things my fellow Jews believe. But Jews as you know never thought Jesus was divine, and most Jews do not really believe in an afterlife, and definitely do not believe in the Christian hell (i.e. eternal damnation).

  • Maybe it is not important to God that people believe in him. Maybe the God that exists is Spinoza's God. Or maybe God is Paul Tillich's "Ground of Being."
  • Why should God give amputees new limbs? Maybe God cannot interfere with nature?
  • I see no evidence that God rewards people who believe in him and am not sure God can reward anyone for anything
  • Human beings are a part of nature, and we are callus too, we swat flies and step on worms and hunt animals. Why is nature callus? Why shouldn't it be? But my real answer is: creation did not end four billion years ago, or whenever the Big bang was, "creation" is an ongoing process. The creation of the earth occurs through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and hurricanes. Plants and animals die, and their carcasses (even of human bodies) become food for new life - flies, worms, grass, flowers, whatever.
  • I do not believe humans have an immortal soul.
  • I am not sure God wants us to have religion (I am not sure that the word "want" applies at all to God). I think people want religion. Given that all human societies have some sort of religious beliefs, I would say that having supernatural beliefs (the will to have them, not any specific beliefs) are hard-wired into the human brain, the product of our evolution ... this is the only scientifically valid view (All human societies have language. Not the same language, in fact, very different languages, but all have language, and all evolutionary biologists believe that human beings evolved the capacity for language. I think religion is analogous). Religions change just like languages, and religions can be used to do good things or bad things just like language can be used to lie and slander or to tell the truth and write love poetry.
  • It is true that the Bible suggests God started religion, but that does not mean he really started religion. This is why I asked if you are a fundamentalist, you keep on acting as if it is in the bible means it is true. I think it is much more reasonable to say that if it is in the bibl it is something the authors of the Bible believed to be true. So why did the authors of the bible believe God created religion? This is a good question because in no other surviving mythology from that time, from other peoples, do any of the gods create religion. I think the ancient iraelites were proposing a radical idea: God cares about people. You have to compare the Bible to myths written around the same time or before - in those myths, the gods are WAY more arbitrary, callous, cruel, vain, than the Biblical God. In those myths gods pretty much do not care at all.
  • Why did the ancient Israelites believe God cared? Well, first of all, not all of them may have believed this. Also, maybe none of them believed it in the way that fundamentalist "believe in" the Bible. Why do so many Americans believe Oceanic Flight 816 crashed on a mysterious island? Well, maybe they don't "really" believe that. But they watch the TV show Lost each week as if it were real; they care about the characters as if they were real. Maybe the idea of a caring God just made for a better story. Maybe it is a plot device. Can you prove to me that the first people who told and read these stories four thousand years ago took them literally, to be the "truth" any more than Lost is "the truth?"
  • You are really asking why people who believe in God do such bad things. Well, who knows? First of all, maybe the worst people in the Inquisition didn't really believe in God, just like there were people in the CIA driving the US to war in Iraq who did not really believe Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. OR maybe they did believe in God, but also just had terrible tempers or sick desires because of their childhood - maybe they couldn't help from doing evil things and believed in God because they needed somewhere to turn for comfort. OR maybe if they did not believe in God, they would have done even worse things. I certainly think people who do not believe in God do really terrible things too. There was far more brutality and suffereing in the 20th century caused by people who did not believe in God, than in the middle ages. You can say that this is just because technology made it possible to kill more people, you cannot blame their lack of belief in God. Okay. But maybe it was also a coincidence that the people in the middle ages who did bad things also believed in God. Maybe back then before technology and science eveyone believed in God, and everyone = all the good people + all the bad people.
  • You ask, "Why did god think it would be a good idea to have the following in the Bible: I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." and again you sound like a Christian fundamentalist. Why do you think God wrote that, and not people? But I can tell you why people following Jesus death believed this. There are two reasons. First, according to Jewish belief, the crucifixion of Jesus proved that he was not the Messiah. But there were some Christians who really loved Jesus, who really felt he had changed their lives for the better and that he had to be the messiah. For him to be the messiah they had to come up with an explanation for why his being killed did not matter, did not prove that he was not the messiah. Second, the answer to this question came from the greek philosopher Plato, who was so popular back then that he is still assigned in philosophy courses in universities today. Plato taught that the visible, material world is all false and that the true world is the world of ideals. Plato's teacher Socrates had been tried by the people of Athens for corrupting the yong and sentenced to die by drinking hemlock, a poison. Socrates' students tried to convince him to escape, and Socrates refused. He said that by dying his soul would be freed from his body and he would be freed from this false world to live among the true ideals. These beliefs are totally foreign to Jews, but were very popular among the Greeks, and everyone, even Jews, knew about Plato. Jesus' followers figured; if Socrates and Plato were right, then it didn't matter that Jesus was crucified because only the flesh was killed, the spirit lived, and the spirit, the ideal, what is in the heart, these are the real and true things, not the flesh. So they rewrote everything jesus had told them, to emphasize that the ideals - the feelings in one's heart, one's soul - are more important than mere flesh. Does this make sense? This is how real historians work: they try to answer questions by looking at all the different things going on at that time.
  • I guess there was at some time a war between Israelites and Amalakites and the israelites wiped out the Amalekites. This does not mean that they killed women and children - it is possible that Amalakite refugees assimilated into neighboring groups, maybe even into the Israelites this is what hapened to the "lost" ten tribes - the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel and transported the survivors to different parts of the emire, where they intermarried with different peoples, lost their language and identity, and assimilated). Why and how did this happen? Who knows? Maybe three thousand years ago there were twenty different versions of the story, each giving a diferent reason. But today we have only one version, and it is the version where EVERYTHING happened because it was God's will. But look at the mythologies from other peoples of that time (Egyptians, Akkadians, Sumerians, Uggarites, etc) and you will see that they all have very violent gods). Certainly, Israelites did think God was a god of love but they did not think he was ONLY a god of love. Or maybe israelites were divided - maybe some believed he was a god of love and others thought he was not so pure, and these different versions got mixed together?
  • Why did Jesus keep saying the world would end? What he said was, God would soon establish his kingdom. God's Kingdom would be one of justice and harmony. And it would definitely replace the existing kingdom, i.e. Rome - the "world would end" in the sense that that Rome would be destroyed (in Revelation, Babylon is a metaphor for Rome, obviously). Why did he believe this? The Romans were an occupying force, imposing huge taxes on the Jews. The Romans had already crucified several thousand Jews who at different times had rebelled against Rome. I am sure most Jews were praying that God would get rid of the Romans. Look at it this way: there is no doubt that the Romans treated the Jews worse than the Israelis today treat the Palestinians. Nevertheless, there are Palestinians who are so sick of despair and of the injustice and humiliation of the Occupation that they are willing to kill Israelis even if it means strapping a bomb to themselves. Death, and the hope of heaven, is better for them than the Israeli occupaton. Now go back to the Roman occupation which was worse, in which far more Jews were killed, and killed by crucifiction which is torture. Jesus was just giving voice to the one thing all Jews desperately hoped for. (what is remarkable is that he preached resistance to the Romans AND said to love one's enemy. No Palestinian does this, and frankly I think most of us would be shocked if one did, it sounds so irrational ... I guess the closest we have today is Nelson Mandela and even he preached armed resistance against Apartheid ... really the closest is Ghandi, who, of course, said he was influenced by Jesus)
  • I do not believe in Hell, and I do not believe jesus believed in Hell.
  • At the time of Jesus there were many others who claimed the ability to heal someone. Jews did not believe in "blindness." "Blindness" is a modern word for a problem that could have a variety of biological causes. Jews in the first century believed that some sicknesses were caused by being posessed by a demon. Some people had the power to cast out demons. Apparently many people believed Jesus was one such man.
  • I do not believe that the Bible is the "word of God." Once again, it sounds like you are a fundamentalist.
  • "If the story of Noah is metaphorical, they why forget to mention that and mislead people for so long." You are kidding, right? Did you ever tell a joke and someone did not get it and you had to explain the joke? Didn't that destroy the joke? I mean, if you have to explain a joke, it is no longer funny. Can you imagine if, everytime someone was going to tella joke, they started by saying: I am going to tell a joke? That is the worst way to tell a joke! It is most funny when someone tells it and you just "get it!" It is the same thing with literature and poetry. How many novels have you read that started: none of this really happened, it is just made up? 20? 10? 5? None? Now, if I write a novel and forget to say at the beginning "None of this is true, I made it up" am I misleading people? Anyway, I would syay the Bible akes it perfectly clear to people that it is poetry, literature, and not the historical truth. One way it does this is by providing multiple accounts of the story. Genesis chapter 1 provides one version of "the creation" and Genesis chapter 2 provides a very different version of creation. You know they were told by different story-tellers, because they use language differently. The storyteller for the first version uses the word "Elohim" which is usually translated as God, and the storyteller for the second version uses YHWH which is usually translated as Lord. The Noah story also provides two different versions - the God version tells Noah to put two of every animal into the ark, and the Lord version tells him to put fourteen ov every "pure" animal (we are not sure which ones are pure). To me it is crystal cleae that whoever edited the Bible was telling people: look, there is no one truth, all we have are different versions, this is the world of storytelling. Also, aside from the different versions IN the book, anyone who listened to the story of Noah when this book was first written would have also known the Gilgamesh epic, which was probably the most popular story in ancient times. And the Gilgamesh epic has a version of the "flood" story. The authors of the Biblical version of the flood story use elements from the Gilgamesh epic but also make changes - it is very much like the way rappers "sample." Anyone who knows music will understnd the quotes and samples and also the jokes and metaphors and ways the rapper is playing off of the music sampled. Now, do you expect a rapper to stop the music and explain to the audience "And here I sample a Stevie Wonder song, but i change this word to that word because i want you to expect one thing and bet something else and experince the surprise" .... wouldn't that just ruin the whole performance? It is also clear that this is storytelling rather than simple history because the book is filled with word-play and puns. For example, in the garden of Eden story the author plays off two similar sounding words (bout sound like "arum") but one means shrewd (descriing the snake at the beginning) and the other meand nude (describing how Adam and Eve feel, at the end) - books that have all these kinds of word-plays are more poetry than history. Now, if you ever took a class on the Bible your teacher should have explained these things, just like if you take a class on any work of literature the teacher explains these kinds of things. I can see how you might be angry at a ad teacher, but at the book?

You say that religion was the first attempt at history, medicine, science. You are not the only person who thinks this, lots of people think this. All I can say is, this way of thinking does not make sense to me. The first people to write history in our sense of history had specific motives for doing so, and wrote in a particular way, that suited their interests. The Bible is so unlike history, it seems more rational to me to assume that whoever wrote it had very different reasons for writing it than when people write history. Now, maybe the ancient Israelites did have an idea of history. In Numbes 21: 14 the author of this part of Numbers quotes another book, "The Book of the Wars of YHWH." Maybe "The Book of the Wars of YHWH" is a "history book" that the author of Numbers is using as a source?

The fact is, this idea that human history goes through stages - the earliest is religion, the middle stage is metaphysical (or philosophical) and the final stage is scientific, was proposed by the French thinker Auguste Compte in the 1700s. He was articulating an idea that was very popular with Europeans around the time of the industrial revolution: the idea of progress. Another form this taks is, first people were savages, then they became barbarians, and now they are civilized.

What science has taught me is: however things happen, people have many different ways of interpreting how things happened. These different intepretations express different values or lessons people want to draw. Now, there is a word we have for a story told in order to express a moral value or lesson: it is a myth. And I think that it is entirely unscientific, irrational, to believe that all human societies live by myths except us. Yet that is what "progress" claims - that we are radically different from all humans before us, because we are better 9we have science, medicine, history, we just tell the truth). I think "progress" is our myth. And it is a dangerous myth - George Bush said we do not have to worry about global warming because new technologies will fix it (in fact, it is highly un likely that electric cars and windmills will be enough to stop global warming). People look at modern pharmacology and see progress in medicine - when between heart disease and diabetes and othe health problems caused by stress and obesity, we are in many ways far less healthy than people before us. I could go on and on. My point is not that the Bible is "true," my point is just that we have myths just like the ancient israelites or medieval Europeans had their myths, and our myth is the myth of progress, and what it does is this: it leads us to interpret everyone who is different from us by interpreting them in relation to us and that means they are either more like us ("more advanced") or less like us ("less advanced") but the basic point is, the less they are lick us, the stupider they are, or the more inferior. To me this view is completely lacking in objectivity. It is entirely irrational.

I am not criticizing you, I apologize if it sounds that ay, I am criticizing Hitchens and Dawkins and others who may be right that there are many things that they understand better than othes, to believing that they understand everything better than others. That is actully not a scientific attitude, it is just another kind of religion! Slrubenstein | Talk 12:25, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Clearly you've given quite some thought to religious topics. People often do ask themselves, how do I know I'm right? On the face of it, it is a sensible question to ask. However, I think the human mind often works in a funny way and isn't nearly as self-aware as it thinks it is. People often make up their mind first and then later look for some justification. So, I think a better question someone could ask is: if I'm wrong, how will I find out?. It takes a lot more humility and it allows for new evidence and ideas to come along and be accepted. Wikipedia does really have a good answer to the question. It is open for editing by everyone. The result is spectacular. I think it is one of the most amazing pieces of human collaboration. It is not perfect, the fact that it knows it's not is key.
Science also has a reasonably good answer to the question if I'm wrong, how will I find out?. All the time, new experiments cause old theories to be dumped. To my mind, religion doesn't have a satisfactory answer. It is stuck with old texts and ideas. The beliefs evolve over time, the texts typically don't.
To a large extent there is a dishonesty ingrained in religious education. When I was a child, highly contested statements were presented to me as facts. Dissenting views were not mentioned. Religious leaders know that if they don't indoctrinate children, then their power will be significantly reduced in the next generation. In places like northern Ireland religious leaders were presented with the option to either do what they can to maintain their power-base along with the sectarian divide or to give up some power and encourage integrated schooling, they consistently chose the former. The consequences were dyer. Pma jones (talk) 05:52, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

John Hayes[edit]

Good call, I'm pretty sure a 20 stone plus, 6'4 prop forward wouldn't make a great jockey! GainLine 13:39, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Sockpuppetry case[edit]

Puppeter template.svg

Your name has been in mentioned in connection with a sockpuppetry case. Please refer to Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/Pnelnik for evidence. Please make sure you make yourself familiar with the guide to responding to cases before editing the evidence page. O Fenian (talk) 18:21, 22 February 2010 (UTC)


Thanks for noticing, Hopefully I will have more information shortly and we can really get a great page together. I also want to get Booterstown and Monkstown up to scratch. Do you have any suggestions yourself for something that could be dug up about any of those places. Did you know there is a ruin of a castle type building on the edge of the park beside the rock road. I haven't seen anything about this yet, but I am curious as to it's past use. Also, someone tried to set up a cafe in the Martello tower 20 years ago, but it failed. I can't verify that yet. Then not to mention the houses. --DubhEire (talk) 12:07, 26 February 2010 (UTC)