Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stand Up

Words of inspiration by Jessie J.

 “If you surround yourself with negative people
You'll never feel settled in or become equal, no
They'll suppress you of your spirit and rinse you dry of smiles
So reach deep and release your inner child. Yeah, Yeah! 
So Stand Up! For the Love, Love, Love
So Stand Up! Yeah”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Freedom Blessed Freedom

I was thinking about the past few months recently, and how we'd "converted" from Christianity to Atheism. Still sounds funny. The process was sudden and unanticipated. But at the end of it, here is a brief synopsis of our conclusions:

- it is wasteful and counterproductive to believe in falsehood. Therefore we will spend no more time entertaining thoughts of returning gods, resurrections and sundry nonsense.

- there are a huge number of Christian believers in this world. The vast majority are simple, unsophisticated people who have not taken the trouble nor have the inclination to examine the origins of their faith - and possibly do not even have the mental capacity to undertake serious critical study and formulate their own opinions. If they did, they would likely have evolved different viewpoints by now.

- the balance of people in the Christian world, are "the management" - the class who are running the show. I'd wager many of these have not even opened their minds enough to see the discrepancies and (dare I say it?) - lies, right in front of them. They're mired in tradition from the foundation of their birth. But there are many others who know only too well what the real truth is - and it has nothing to do with virgins, messiahs and trinities. But religion is a very profitable business.

- most people want to "feel safe" - someone else is steering the ship. They're in control . It's OK - you're just a passenger. Hello! You need to steer- and power your own boat! There is no such thing as a free lunch. Even if they are told the real facts, they'll shy away from them because there is too much emotion invested in believing some bozo is going to come back and save us. And of course, it will never happen - but don't tell anyone. Keep believing the lie.

So what's the thought process we followed ? Simple. The bible either is or is not the inerrant, perfect, inspired Word of God, or it is not. If it is, it will hold up under scrutiny. If not, we start to see the cracks appear and I stop believing a pack of lies. Here's a basic starter kit :

- Jesus (if he existed at all) was not from Nazareth. He couldn't have been. Nazareth didn't exist in the first century. It was a burial ground. It became a city because of the tourism potential after the Jesus story happened. Don't believe me? Check it out yourself - no excuse. Google is with us - try "Jesus never existed".

- And then Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem in Judea for the Roman census count when Jesus was born? No they weren't. Because Judea was not a Roman province at the time and therefore there would have been no Roman census in Bethlehem. Besides, there is no historical record of a Roman census at that time.

- John the Baptist was beheaded, making way for Jesus to succeed him. Oh yes? Unlike Jesus, John the Baptist was in fact a real person. The historical record reflects that he was in fact executed, but that this happened after the supposed date of Jesus Crucifixion. (or should that read "crucifiction"?). John died around 37AD, while most reputable scholars would date Jesus death around 33AD. So guess what - John didn't make way for Jesus' ministry.

- While Jesus was supposedly in a Roman prison, we are told the crowd cried out for the release of Barabbas. Do you know what Barabbas' first name was? Jesus. That's right - Jesus Barabbas. And what does Barabbas mean? Bar = Son Of. Abba = The Father. Ah! So we had Jesus Christ Son of God in prison, at the same time as Jesus, the Son of The Father! Just how many divine Jesus sons of God did we have in prison at once?

- Was there ever a historical record of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ? No. There were many crucifixions and many Jesus - it was a common name. But no Jesus The Christ.

- And what of the most famous man in history? The man who walked on water, who fed the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes. The one who turned water into wine? No historical record. Nobody saw him. Nobody wrote about him. Whassat you say? Flavius Josephus the Roman historian, in his "Histories". Sorry - our Flavius was a Roman, and he did not write in the admiring tones of the exploits, death and resurrection of Jesus (a Jew) in only a couple of hundred words - in almost the exact same way as a Christian apologist might have written, if he were wanting to have something included in the historical record. It wasn't his style. It looks odd. In a place in the text which is disjointed, and which screams "REDACTED" (amended, forged, inserted later etc.) Besides, at the time when the faithful were contending for the faith with unbelievers, the works of Josephus were well known, and had such a passage existed then, it would surely have been pointed out as a triumphant verification of the Christian reality. But it wasn't - and this means that at the time - after Josephus' death, the text didn't exist. It was inserted later.

- And what of empty tombs after three days? Who found the stone rolled away? Why, the woman of course who were going to refresh the dressings of the embalmed remains of Jesus. No they weren't. They were Jewish, and they had strict customs concerning being defiled by contact with the dead. No Jew would ever have gone back with the intention of coming into contact with a dead body - it was unclean. So what was the reason for the story? A flimsy excuse to write a tale about somebody discovering the empty tomb, otherwise they couldn't make up a story about a miracle resurrection. Besides, if we are to believe Jesus was able to move through solid matter and disappear and reappear at will after his resurrection, why bother to roll away a stone at all? Just move through the wall.

- Jesus cleared the temple of the tax collectors and traders. Yes? No - not at all. When you realise that the temple was huge - quite a few hectares, Jesus couldn't possibly have run around through all the crowds of humans and animals, clearing all before him. A physical impossibility. What's that? The J-bike? The Jesus monkey bike to get him from A to B quickly and efficiently? Nope. Just another impossible tale.

- And the earliest gospel was that of "Mark" which was copied by Matthew, Luke and John. In Mark, Jesus is a man - by the time we get to John, Jesus is a God. Check it out. These were stories written by men, years after the supposed death of Jesus. Between 40 and 100 years thereafter. Who can remember exactly what was said, 70 years after it happened, in a time when nothing was written down about this particular person? Gimme a break.

- The earliest New Testament writings were the Acts of the Apostles which predated the gospels. In it, Paul (if in fact it was he who wrote large parts of the Acts), makes no reference to the actual supposed acts of Jesus while on Earth. How odd. This was the Saviour after all, the greatest man who ever lived....

- Who was faithfully writing down the events of the night of Jesus' betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus was praying, the disciples were sleeping. In comes the Roman guard to arrest Jesus, and he managed to scribble everything that happened while everyone else was sleeping, on the back of a cigarette box, while he was being arrested? Hello! Is anyone thinking out there?

- Remember the genealogy of Jesus? 14 Generations and all that? (Twice times seven, being perfection). Except that a few generations were "accidentally" left out. Oops.

OK OK - so I am convinced. The bible is no more infallible, inspired or divine than I am. There are horrendous mistakes, inconsistencies and this is a document I am supposed to revere? In kicks the scientist - if this is the best the Divine God can do, it's a really sloppy job. So how much of the rest of it should I believe? And the answer of course is - none of it. Because I don't know if any of it is in fact true or not. It's questionable at best. So the obvious course of action is to lay it down and call for corroborating historical evidence. But there is none. Oops.

And then I came across Zeitgeist the Movie which is an expose of a couple of things - firstly Christianity. And I am informed (unless the makers of the movie are deliberately lying to me - which is easy enough to verify), that Christianity like all other religions of the time, had its roots in the worship of the sun and personification of astrological figures in the heavenlies. So, the "death and resurrection after 3 days" becomes the sun dipping down to the horizon in mid winter in the Northern hemisphere (22 December), at which time after 3 days, it can be observed to have moved up off the horizon - surprise, surprise 25 December!!!! Christmas day!! The birth of the son (or sun, if you prefer).

And the ancients had the belief that when the night fell "darkness triumphed over light" - or evil triumphed over good - and in the day time good once again triumphed over evil. So what happens in the morning? The son will return in glory on the clouds for his people! In other words : sunrise. It happens every day. There are many people waiting for Jesus to return on the clouds in glory some day. Dare we tell them, their wait is in vain? I tell you what : let's encourage them - tell them Jesus already returned today, but if they set their alarm clocks early enough, they can be awake in time for his return tomorrow. How's that?

Zeitgeist does a far better job than I - go watch it if you really have an open mind and are willing to hear the truth - which will set you free. Besides, there were dozens of other "Godman" religions with exactly the same death-and-resurrection tale, the December 25th birth, the Virgin mother and Divine Father - the list goes on and on. And all of these predate Christianity - which was merely the latest one on the block. But this was the one which became the "official" religion of the Holy Roman Church - forerunner to Catholicism and which was worked on to refine its doctrine over hundreds of years and to create a class of clergy holding power over the laity which has persisted to the present day. And in the modern church it is no different - the Church is still an immensely powerful business.

Ominously, the vast majority of people do not see the truth in front of their eyes, and will spend the rest of their meaningless lives acting out the tragedy of religion and foisting it on their children and children's children.

And me? I'm free. You have no idea how wonderful it is not to be glowered down on by some disapproving deity from on high. To not be going to hell on a whim or to have my "sins" counted against me when I die. That truly is good news!

To realise that I have the freedom - and the obligation - to make this world the best it can be for the following generations, and to be responsible in my custodianship. Because there is nobody who is going to divinely clean up after me when I'm gone.

(Did you hear - The Catholic Church has decided the Big Bang actually happened. (Round of applause). But that God caused it. There's still some work to be done, isn't there?)

KNOW THE TRUTH. It will set you free.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bridge 14 and other Military Intelligence

"Cheppies, Aht spekts yaw pirrints wud lahks to knaw where bridge 14 are." 

This epic of communication delivered by a slope-headed permanent force member of the SADF with a terrible Afrikaans accent to the waiting servicemen in 1976 in Voortrekkerhoogte, Pretoria. Major Something-or-other. Or maybe it was Commandant something-or-other. Or "Common-dolt" Something or Other as I preferred to call them.  I don't think he was a Colonel. That was serious brass on the shoulders and  hat. Lots of gold and silver and red whatsits. "Shit on the shoulders" we called it. We saw those once in a while when they visited the base, but we had no resident brassworks.

I kinda think these people were the type who sat on their backsides their whole life - in at 7.45am for coffee before morning parade, then tea at 10am, then lunch at 12.30 till 13.30 then tea again at 15.45, and then leave at 16.00. Go home, drink brandy and cokes, eat supper, occasionally fuck their wives, go to sleep, wake up and repeat the whole process ad infinitum until one day some bozo with a higher rank walked in and congratulated them on great service to their country and told them to piss off on government pension. Way to go. 

This was 1976 and South Africa was beating the shit out of the MPLA in Angola and Frelimo in Mozambique, ably assisted by the Rhodesians (as they were then). In the interim, the South Africans were having to deal with popular uprisings in the townships - like the 1976 youth uprising on June 16 which is still commemorated today as a public holiday. But back then, the army knew what it was doing. It was highly trained and got on with the business of annihilating the enemy who by and large, were an ill-trained mob - ripe for the picking. I heard at the time that they were burying the MPLA and the Cubans who came to help them, with bulldozers in trenches. 

But back to old slopehead and the "cheppies". Essentially the address was to tell us to advise our doting parents that in case they sent us letter or parcels, we might be incommunicado while we were out "somewhere on the border" and therefore might not respond. Of course, the military at that time had no intention of actually telling anyone where Bridge 14 was. In fact it was several hundred kilometers inside Angola where the South Africans had merrily set up shop. But make no mistake - stupid or not, the Afrikaans Permanent Force member knew his business when it came to killing and the training was refined and proven. We were ready. I wouldn't say we were all that willing though, and therefore it came as a relief one day, when right in the middle of a Morse code lesson, someone burst in the door and asked who wanted to do border service in Northern Natal. Of course, since a couple of us were from Natal, we stuck up our hands. "Come". And we were off to northern Natal. At 11am we were in Pretoria - just another day. By 4pm we were in Northern Natal on the Mozambique border. Unbelievable. And before we could gather our wits, we were the new ears of the SADF on the Mozambique border, while spending our off time gardening.

What? Gardening you say? Yes. We took over part of a deserted town and rebuilt the houses in a couple of roads in what became a military village. And there were 6 of us to a house. So we spent our border service growing lettuces and pawpaws. And that was the type of soil where you dropped the seed into the ground and watered it, and pow! - up it came. And every so often we went off to Sodwana bay to skindive and swim. And every so often the South African taxpayer coughed up for some steak and wors (sausage) which we cooked over the fires -  which we did quite often.  

It was hot. Seriously hot. 120 degrees Fahrenheid in the shade. 50 degrees Celcius. And when you touched the metal bedstead, it was hot enough to poach an egg. And the mosquito nets didn't seem to help. We were in a malaria area so we were taking maloprim daily and just as well. Because all you got for your mosquito net was an airless night and when you woke in the morning, there were all the mosquitoes inside the net with you. And try as you might, you couldn't find the hole.

But every 6 weeks we got seven days leave and off we went hitching down the road to Durban and then Pietermaritzburg. That was fun - 4 hours if you were lucky and you were home - with an army rucksack full of huge lettuces and squashed pawpaws. And you went back (reluctantly) the following Wednesday.

Life was hard... Could have been harder - a lot harder. But I never had to fire a round in anger at another human being, and for that I am thankful.  I cannot think what it must be like going to bed with the death of another person on your conscience. For King and Country. Right. But who lives with the consequences?