Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

First nothingness was not, then came the Big Bang and the Gods came later

June 12, 2017

The Rig Veda was probably written between 1500 and 1200 BC and consists of 10 mandalas (books). The first and tenth books were probably written last. The 129th verse of the tenth mandala contains what is called The Hymn of Creation. Nasadiya sukta

It begins:

Then even nothingness was not, nor existence,
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?

It is not difficult to equate this “then” to “before” the Big Bang and the “it” to all the compressed matter which participated in the Big Bang. (Accepting, of course, that “before” is meaningless when time does not flow).

Then there was neither death nor immortality
Nor was there then the torch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.

At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness.
All this was only unillumined water.
That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,
arose at last, born of the power of heat.

arose at last, born of the power of heat” sounds very like a modern description of the Big BangEven though the Rig Veda’s main 8 mandalas are in praise of various deities, the first and tenth books take a much more agnostic position – perhaps written to bring some balance. The plethora of gods are effectively made subservient to an unknowable, unfathomable creation event. “An atheist interpretation sees the Creation Hymn as one of the earliest accounts of skeptical inquiry and agnosticism”.

Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
The gods came later, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?”

First even nothingness was not and existence was not. Then came the creation of the Universe whether by Big Bang or otherwise. And the Gods came later (made by man in the image of man).


 

The Big Bang singularity is indistinguishable from an Act of Creation

June 11, 2017

Most modern physicists and cosmologists who believe (note – believe) in the Big Bang theory of the Universe believe implicitly in an Act of Creation (the Big Bang Singularity) but then usually ignore the question of how and why the singularity occurred. They focus on the Act of Creation and after but do not address the cause of the singularity or a Creator. Religions of all kinds have their own Creation myths but focus on the presumed Creator much more than on the Act(s) of Creation.

(My own belief is that all religions live in the space of ignorance and physics – like all religions – is ultimately dependent upon Magic).

Stephen Hawking describes the Big Bang Singularity thus:

The situation was different, however, when it was realised that the universe is not static, but expanding. Galaxies are moving steadily apart from each other. This means that they were closer together in the past. One can plot the separation of two galaxies, as a function of time. If there were no acceleration due to gravity, the graph would be a straight line. It would go down to zero separation, about twenty billion years ago. One would expect gravity, to cause the galaxies to accelerate towards each other. This will mean that the graph of the separation of two galaxies will bend downwards, below the straight line. So the time of zero separation, would have been less than twenty billion years ago. 

At this time, the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe, would have been on top of itself. The density would have been infinite. It would have been what is called, a singularity. At a singularity, all the laws of physics would have broken down. This means that the state of the universe, after the Big Bang, will not depend on anything that may have happened before, because the deterministic laws that govern the universe will break down in the Big Bang. The universe will evolve from the Big Bang, completely independently of what it was like before. Even the amount of matter in the universe, can be different to what it was before the Big Bang, as the Law of Conservation of Matter, will break down at the Big Bang. 

Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang, are simply not defined, because there’s no way one could measure what happened at them. This kind of beginning to the universe, and of time itself, is very different to the beginnings that had been considered earlier. These had to be imposed on the universe by some external agency.

He goes on, however, to make an unsupportable conclusion.

There is no dynamical reason why the motion of bodies in the solar system can not be extrapolated back in time, far beyond four thousand and four BC, the date for the creation of the universe, according to the book of Genesis. Thus it would require the direct intervention of God, if the universe began at that date. By contrast, the Big Bang is a beginning that is required by the dynamical laws that govern the universe. It is therefore intrinsic to the universe, and is not imposed on it from outside. 

Genesis requires time to begin at 4004 BC and the Big Bang is no different in concept. It too defines the start of time and takes us back to 13.8 (give or take a few) billion years ago. Time is not defined before the Act of Creation – whether by the Big Bang or by the hand of God.

(Note that if the flow of time has a beginning then the concept of a before or an after has no meaning before the beginning of time.  The magical speed of an inconstant time).

Hawking concludes:

The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago. The beginning of real time, would have been a singularity, at which the laws of physics would have broken down. Nevertheless, the way the universe began would have been determined by the laws of physics, if the universe satisfied the no boundary condition. This says that in the imaginary time direction, space-time is finite in extent, but doesn’t have any boundary or edge. The predictions of the no boundary proposal seem to agree with observation. The no boundary hypothesis also predicts that the universe will eventually collapse again. However, the contracting phase, will not have the opposite arrow of time, to the expanding phase. So we will keep on getting older, and we won’t return to our youth. Because time is not going to go backwards, I think I better stop now. 

It seems to me that he contradicts himself when he says “The beginning of real time, would have been a singularity, at which the laws of physics would have broken down. Nevertheless, the way the universe began would have been determined by the laws of physics, …..” 

The Big Bang singularity where the laws of physics do not apply is just another Act of Creation. If the laws of physics do not apply at the singularity then, which laws or whose laws do? Or do the laws of physics change? Do they vary in different universes such as that which may have existed before the Big Bang?

Even a singularity must follow some laws. It is disingenuous of physicists and cosmologists to claim that the laws of physics break down at the Big Bang singularity and not address which or whose laws apply at the singularity. If, however, no laws apply at the singularity then the Singularity is Omnipotent (or Magic or God or whatever other label suits you).

I prefer to think it’s Magic.

The fundamentals of physics are just magic.


 

Would religions survive if children were not brainwashed into them?

May 25, 2017

Whether “indoctrination” of an empty child’s mind is less reprehensible than the “brainwashing” of an adult mind that has existing beliefs is not the point.  At issue is whether beliefs, which, by definition, exist outside the realm of knowledge, can be force-fed. No religion allows its followers to develop their own beliefs. All religions presume to instill their standard beliefs onto their own adherents and onto potential converts. Can beliefs be externally imposed or must they be developed internally? My own “belief” is that an idea, which is not the result of an individual’s own cognitive processes but is externally imposed, cannot be a true “belief”. All societies permit, and most approve, the indoctrination of children into the religions of their parents (or guardians). Apart from coerced conversions (which are still going on), I would guess that over 95% (and perhaps 99%) of all those who follow a religion, follow that of their parents.

Human behaviour has effectively made religion hereditary. Religion is not controlled by our genes except in that our genes may determine how susceptible we are to indoctrination. Yet our religious beliefs are determined by who our parents are. Unfortunately parents have not succeeded as well in indoctrinating children away from other undesirable behaviour. The growth or decline of religions across the world simply mirrors fertility on the one hand and the coercive conversion of peoples into the religion.

If a group of children were brought up in isolation on a desert island, by robotic instructors confined to teach only in the area of knowledge, and to answer any question in the space of ignorance with a “don’t know”, some of the children may well develop “religious” beliefs with divine power being attributed to the sun and the moon and the winds and the waves. But for there to be war between the sun-worshipers and the wind-worshipers there would first need to be those arrogant enough to anoint themselves as priests. There would be no organised religions without priests appointing themselves as special messengers of the divine powers. There would be no religious wars without “turbulent priests” bent on religious expansion. If every child was allowed, as it felt necessary,  to develop its own religious beliefs, organised religions would never catch hold. And if organised religions did exist they would merely wither and die without a continuous stream of new adherents in the form of brain-washed children growing up.

The problem lies not in whether one believes in gods or not, but in that organised religions exist and that they compete. They compete by claiming that one set of beliefs in the space of ignorance are superior or better than another set, also in the space of ignorance. The claims for the one or for the other are made by turbulent priests. It has been so ever since organised religions came into being. It is still so today, whether it is a mad mullah pronouncing a fatwa or a Hindu God-man calling for the destruction of a mosque or a Buddhist monk attacking unbelievers or a “celibate” Pope pronouncing on family values.

Who will rid us of these turbulent priests?


 

Palm Sunday and the start of Easter week

April 9, 2017

It’s Palm Sunday and the start of Easter week. We shall be attending a concert of Bach’s St. John Passion for musical rather than religious reasons.

I have written about the Bible story before.

The Easter timeline suggests Judas was eliminated

The Gospel of Judas – found in the 1970s and dated to 280 AD – is considered a Gnostic text and is not accepted as being part of the Bible.

….. Consider the timeline of Holy Week in the Bible story.

  1. Day 1: Palm Sunday: Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem with all his apostles, riding humbly (?) on a donkey. Spends Sunday night at Bethany a little to the east of Jerusalem at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
  2. Day 2: Monday: Returns to Jerusalem. Along the way he curses a poor fig tree because it had failed to bear any fruit. The tree withers. He enters the Temple to find it filled with money changers (forex dealers since the Temple only accepted Tyrian shekels) and merchants selling animals for sacrifice. He chases them out with much ado. He returns to Bethany to spend the night.
  3. Day 3: Tuesday: Jesus returned to the Temple in Jerusalem and played hide-and-seek with the priests who challenged his authority and tried to apprehend him. But he evaded them. In the afternoon he and his disciples climbed the Mount of Olives and he made prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem. He spent the night again in Bethany. Matthew reports that Judas negotiated his deal with the Sanhedrin on this day.
  4. Day 4: Wednesday: The Bible is silent about this day. It is presumed Jesus and his disciples stayed in Bethany and took it easy.
  5. Day 5: Thursday: Jesus sent Peter and John to “prepare” (presumably to reserve it as well) the Upper Room in Jerusalem (The Cenacle) for the Passover feast which would begin at twilight and continue on Friday. At twilight he washed the feet of his disciples and then began the Passover meal – the Last Supper. He prophecies that he will be betrayed by one of his disciples – which they each in turn deny. He identifies the traitor as being Judas by giving him a piece of bread soaked in the dish and as soon as he does so,  “Satan enters Judas” (?). From the Upper Room they all went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, late that evening, he is betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Sanhedrin and taken to the home of Caiaphas where the Sanhedrin Council have gathered.
  6. Day 6: Friday: Early on Friday morning, Judas is found dead. By the 3rd hour (9 am) the trial of Jesus has started. He is found guilty and forced to carry his cross to Calvary where he is crucified. By the ninth hour (3 pm) he is dead. Around the 12th hour (6 pm) his body is removed from the cross and is laid in a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers.
  7. Day 7: Saturday: The tomb is guarded by Roman soldiers all through the Sabbath day until dusk (12th hour – 6 pm). When the Sabbath ends, his body is anointed and prepared for burial by Nicodemus (himself a member of the Sanhedrin Council which found Jesus guilty).
  8. Day 8: Sunday: Early on Sunday several women went to the tomb and found it open and Jesus missing. He “appears” to five people during the day providing “proof” that he has been resurrected.

…….. 

It is not surprising that the Gospel of Judas is not accepted within the Bible. For that would mean that Jesus had orchestrated his own capture. Poor Judas. He may have just been a dupe chosen by Jesus to be the scapegoat. But if he knowingly sacrificed his life and accepted being remembered in perpetuity as the “betrayer” of Jesus, his was probably a very great soul.


 

Indian Hindus are genetically racist

March 28, 2017

Hindu matrimonial advertisements are littered with “fair”, “very fair”, “tall”, “beautiful” and the like, but also with the bizarre “innocent divorcee” and ” clean shaven Sikh”. There are always enough clues to specify caste, if caste and sub-caste are not specifically named. Often the classified ads are classified by caste.

from scoopwhoop.com

The ad can be very specific and require a “convented girl” (which is someone educated at an english-medium school originally started by nuns – a “convent”) like this one from a Brides Wanted classified.

Typical conversations within families could well include:

“You can marry anyone you like, as long as he is from the community” (“community” means sub-caste) 

“You can marry anyone you like, as long as she is not Muslim”

“If she is a gora you will be divorced within a year” (“gora” actually means red but is a euphemism for pale-skinned)

“Even an Indian Muslim rather than an African”

“But she’s so dark, (so short), (so homely), (so well built) … ….”

“Not an Assamese (Sikh), (Punjabi), (Tamil), (Bihari) …………..  “

So I was not very surprised at this story today:

Times of India:

  • In keeping with the stereotype that “Nigerians sell drugs”, residents of a Noida neighbourhood want Africans to move out
  • Locals alleged one of the foreign students sold the drugs to a Class 12 boy who died of an overdose
  • Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister Adityanath this morning promised a “fair investigation”

Five people were arrested today in connection with the assault on four Nigerian students yesterday, Noida police said, according to ANI. “Police have arrested 5 persons. FIR registered, action will be taken accordingly,”said Daljeet Chaudhary, assistant director general (law and order), to ANI. 
One of the assaulted students spoke to the media today. “We asked people around for help, but not one called the police. Even our college did not help,”the student said.

Racism is not just endemic among Indian Hindus, it’s genetic.


 

Primordial belief

January 13, 2017

Take all our conscious thoughts about ourselves and the world around us to be either in the realm of knowledge or of ignorance. Take also that what lies in the space of knowledge is true. Then what lies in the space of ignorance may be true or false or both or neither. It is only within the space of ignorance that a “belief” can exist where that “belief” is then a possible truth. Take also that “science” is the process by which some of the “beliefs” within the space of ignorance are shown to be truths and thereby come into the space of knowledge. Knowledge is transferable between humans only if the recipient “believes” that the person transmitting the knowledge is transmitting the truth.

Much of what I take to be “knowledge” is not actually known to me but which I take to be known to others and part of the body of “human knowledge”.  I take the earth to be an oblate spheroid, not because I have personally observed that, but because I “believe” the many humans who have made the observation and brought that “true” statement into the body of human knowledge.

Most of what we therefore consider to be “our” knowledge is actually somebody else’s knowledge and not “known” to ourselves. However our belief in these persons leads to us claiming that knowledge as our own as being part of the body of knowledge available to humanity. The longer some statement has been within the body of knowledge, the stronger is our belief in that statement. Most of our actions are based then, not on our own personal knowledge, but on the belief that whatever lies within the body of knowledge of humanity is true.

But it strikes me that there is an assumption, a belief, which underlies every thought, every perception. This “primordial belief” is in fact implicit in every living thing. In fact it is so intrinsically intertwined with life that it may well be a part of the definition of what life is. This “primordial belief” is that the flow of time is unhindered and that a future exists. I breathe because there is future to breathe for. I cannot know when I take a breath that there will not be another one. Every living thing – a cell, a microbe, a virus, a tree or a human –  does what it does because there is a future (explicitly or implicitly) it believes it can live in. Even the very last breath I take will be taken in the belief that there will be another one to come. A belief in my future is existential.

A belief in a future is inherent in life. There can be a future without life (and there probably will be), but there is no form of life which does not have an implicit belief in its own future.

So every conscious mind (and that includes atheists, agnostics, religious fanatics, scientists and even economists) has this primordial, fundamental belief that a future exists. That, that future exists, can not be within the space of knowledge. All religions exist in the space of ignorance. But long before any of the “beliefs” they adopt comes the primordial belief that every living thing has  – that it has a future.


 

A “moderate” Muslim wishes more people had died in the Russian air crash

December 27, 2016

It is not difficult to come to the conclusion that there is something in Islam – or the practice of Islam – which inherently engenders hatred of all infidels.

This story is about the sick hatred in the head of the LA Director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations.  Of course the story is set in California and needs to be somewhat discounted also for mental instability. Needless to say that this “moderate” Muslim is an Executive Board Member of the California Democratic Party.

Political Insider:

Hussam Ayloush, an executive board member of the California Democratic Party and executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR, publicly announced that he wished more people had died in the Russian military plane crash that claimed 92 lives on early Christmas morning. 

“I’m sad about the crashed Russian military jet,” Ayloush tweeted, before pivoting to a dark, twisted joke wishing the plane had more people on it. “The TU-154 could have carried up to 180 military personnel instead of just 92,” he happily declared.

Here was Ayloush’ message …

Hussam Ayloush on Twitter: “I’m sad about the crashed Russian militar…
archived 25 Dec 2016 21:34:01 UTC

The Russian plane was transporting more than 60 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, a well-loved army choir and dance troupe that performs folk music and popular songs.

There were no survivors in the crash.

Ayloush deleted his post after learning that the disaster had claimed the lives of non-military members.

Read more: http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/russia-plane-crash-democrat-wishes-more-civilians-died/#ixzz4U13bjzxo


 

ISIS has given up on the Caliphate and is focused on terror attacks in Europe

December 21, 2016

After Berlin, I recalled this broadcast on Swedish Radio just a few days ago. It would seem that the reverses they have suffered in Iraq and Syria and even Libya have caused a shift of focus within ISIS. A shift away from their dreams of establishing a Caliphate within their lifetimes to creating a parallel, segregated, Islamic population in Europe. Their focus has shifted from directing their European supporters to travel to the front line in the Middle East to instead, implementing terror attacks wherever they happen to be; in place, in Europe.

The Berlin terrorist is still at large. And so are many others – plucking up the nerve to kill indiscriminately. Berlin will be followed by other Islamic, Sunni Muslim, terrorist acts. Islamophobia is not the cause but the inevitable consequence. But a healthy dose of Islamo-skepticism – and amounting to terroristphobia – is absolutely necessary if Islamic terrorism is to be neutralised.

Swedish Radio:

As the Islamic State loses territory in Iraq, Syria and Libya, the group’s propaganda changed. The terror group  no longer invites their sympathizers to go to war. Reporter Fernando Arias is in conversation with Robert Egnell, a Professor at the National Defence University, about the terror group’s propaganda.

“It is too early to say what the effects are of the IS reversal of its propaganda”, says Robert Egnell. According to Robert Egnell propaganda has been important to recruit for the Islamic State and what they call their Caliphate. But now the propaganda has changed, he says, and points to three major differences with earlier:

  1. it has reduced in scale over the past year,
  2. it is more concerned with calls to take the fight where one is, and
  3. the positive images of the Caliphate has almost disappeared.

“It’s about being able to show a positive image that can attract. Previously, it has been the Caliphate and the dream of a better life, but it is difficult to show such images today when all the media coverage points to the contrary, and instead must then create success through terrorist attacks and publicise them” said Robert Egnell.

Several intelligence services report that fewer are travelling to Syria and Iraq, but we have yet to see the final effects of the reversal of IS propaganda on terrorists in place in Europe, according to Robert Egnell.

“We have had an increase of attacks in Europe, but it probably can not be linked so directly to just the propaganda, but it can probably rather be linked to a new IS strategy to focus on Europe”, he says.

Is it such a great difference that that people are now encouraged to carry out attacks at home instead of traveling to Iraq and Syria?

“Yes, it’s a very important distinction, and it is perhaps something to hope for. The threshold is much higher for committing acts of violence in the home country compared to follow a new dream of the Caliphate. This provided a kind of positive appeal to a certain type of people, and now there is only death and destruction (in the Caliphate). In a society they have grown up in, one can hope that the threshold (to act) is significantly higher than making the trip down to Syria and fighting for some ’cause’ “.

But the Caliphate dreams are certainly shrinking.

Shrinking Caliphate dreams

Shrinking Caliphate dreams


 

It is not Islamophobia that is the problem

December 20, 2016

Yesterday, again, a number of Sunni Muslim terrorists killed indiscriminately.

Berlin. A Pakistani or Afghan asylum seeker in Germany, hijacked a Polish registered truck, killed the chauffeur and then drove into the crowd at a Christmas market killing 12 and injuring around 50 people.

It isn’t reported but it is fairly obvious that the terrorist identified himself as a Sunni Muslim.

BBC:

An articulated lorry has ploughed into a busy Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48. Germany’s Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said “many things” pointed to a deliberate attack. Police said on Twitter that the lorry driver had been arrested, and that a passenger died from his injuries. The market is at Breitscheidplatz, close to the Kurfuerstendamm, the main shopping street in the city’s west. Almost 50 people are in hospital and at least four have suffered serious injuries.

Security sources cited by the German news agency DPA said that the driver of the truck was an asylum seeker from Afghanistan or Pakistan who had arrived in Germany in February. Berlin police spokesman Winfried Wenzel said a suspect believed to be the person driving the vehicle was picked up about a mile (2 kilometres) away from the crash site, near Berlin’s Victory Column monument, and was being interrogated.

Turkey: The Russian Ambassador was killed by a Turkish policeman shouting “Allah is Great” and other Aleppo related slogans.

It isn’t reported but it is fairly obvious that the rogue policeman also identified himself as a Sunni Muslim.

BBC:

Video of the event shows Mr Karlov making a speech when gunshots ring out. Eight bullets are said to have been fired. The camera pulls back to show a smartly dressed gunman, wearing a suit and tie, waving a pistol and shouting in Arabic and Turkish.

He can be heard yelling “don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria” and uses the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar” (God is great). He is said to have died in a shootout with police soon afterwards, but details have not been given.

The gunman after the attack in Ankara

The attacker shouted about Aleppo and Syria  – image AP via BBC

Islamophobia is certainly the consequence of Islamic terrorism and without the Sunni Muslim fanatics it would have no reason to exist.

But Islamphobia is not the problem.


 

Time to stop pretending that Islamic terror and ISIS have nothing to do with Islam

November 19, 2016

The paranoia about being considered Islamophobic now often leads to the abandonment of common sense. To be Islamophobic is not politically correct. That Islamic terrorists constitute a small number of all Muslims is obvious. But it borders on inanity to extend that to the claim that the terrorists have nothing to do with Islam. It is the concepts – sometimes medieval – contained within Islam which are currently providing the motivation and the justification for self-styled imams and “teachers” to spread the disease. They infect thousands (maybe millions) of immature and vulnerable minds and convert them into barbaric killers. To absolve – in these instances – Islam of being the source of the problem is to be naive. No doubt outdated values contained in Islam are being exploited but they are being exploited by Muslims to brainwash other Muslims. And that itself has something to say about Islam. There is no doubt either that the brainwashed  – who are also Muslims – are vulnerable and somewhat deficient in critical judgement. But that does not mean that Islam is not involved.

Anybody under 25 who claims to be a follower of any religion has of course been brainwashed into that belief as a child. Right now, among all the religions, Islam allows the creation of more terrorists than any other religion.

It is not often that I find the Archbishop of Canterbury in agreement with my views, but in this case he seems to have applied some of his common sense:

The Telegraph: Claims that the atrocities of the Islamic State have “nothing to do with Islam” are harming efforts to confront and combat extremism, the Archbishop of Canterbury has insisted.

Religious leaders of all varieties must “stand up and take responsibility” for the actions of extremists who profess to follow their faith, the Most Rev Justin Welby said.

He argued that unless people recognise and attempt to understand the motivation of terrorists they will never be able to combat their ideology effectively. 

It follows calls from a series of high profile figures for people to avoid using the term Islamic State – also known as Isil, Isis and Daesh – because, they say, its murderous tactics go against Islamic teaching and that using the name could help legitimise the group’s own propaganda.

But the Archbishop said that it is essential to recognise extremists’ religious motivation in order to get to grips with the problem. ……

His comments came during a lecture at the Catholic Institute of Paris, as he was awarded an honorary doctorate.

Of course the Archbishop did not say much about the fact that the vast majority of all Catholics and all Anglicans are brainwashed into following those religions as children by their parents.

I wonder what would happen if parents did not force children to follow a particular religion. Over 99% of all who claim to have a particular religious belief have been forced into that belief as children.


 


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