Over the last thousand years Christianity has adopted many things from other religions, but it also took from science too.
A Spherical Harmony
The earliest ancient civilizations all shared the same fundamental view of the universe; that our earth lay at the centre. The characteristically inventive Sumerians of what we now call Iraq; the Amorite dynasty that founded the Babylonians; and also the North East African civilisation of the ancient Egyptians; all these ancient civilizations had the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets revolving around us. The specific explanations varied from society to society, but the viewpoint that came to dominate the minds of Europeans was established by successive generations of the ancient Greek philosophers. Though I say “ancient greeks” they were in reality learned philosophers who lived across many centuries with their theories of the cosmos being somewhat refined over a time period scanning more than six hundred years.
Te first known idea of the stars being fixed to a sphere, or hemisphere, rotating around the earth is attributed to Anaximenes of Miletus, who lived in the 6th century BC. Like his predecessors, Anaximenes was preoccupied with cosmology, searching for the world’s origin in which he is most known for his assertion that air is the most basic and originary material and the source of all things. While empirical evidence was essential in Anaximenes’ work, the less evidentiary notions of the divine remained apparent as well. Perhaps in line with early Greek literature that rendered air as the soul, as in the ‘breath of life,’ Anaximenes relates air with god and the divine, according to the accounts of Aetius. The qualities of air, that has similar attributes as the qualities of Anaximander’s aperion, are those of the divine and the eternal. It is posited, by Aetius and later by Cicero, that there is a strong correlation between the notion of air as an originary principle element and the notion of air and breath as the divine and eternal substance of the soul and of god.
In the 6th century, Anaximenes of Miletus, saw the Earth as a kind of flat disc, or a flat-topped cylinder that floated like a cork in the air. Pythagoras of Samos – the same Pythagoras whose theory we use today to calculate the area of a triangle – changed the disc to a globe then placing it at the centre of concentric spheres, one for the Sun, the Moon and each of the planets, with the other stars ‘fixed’ at the furthest distance. For Pythagoras, the physical distances separating the spheres was of great importance, even seeing the seven planetary spheres (Moon and Sun included) and the shpere of the stars being separated in the same seven ratios as those of the musical scale. It was this particular notion that gave us the concept of the “harmony of the spheres” that was to resonate for two milennia.
The model that later became fixed stemmed from a proposition laid down by the philospher and methematician Plato circa. 400 BC. For Plato, the circle was the perfect form and he was totally convinced that the Sun and the Moon revolved around a spherical Earth in circular orbits. Plato’s students were left with the challenge of creating a model that explained his philosophy. Eudoxus of Cnidus offered an ingenious solution of multiple concentric spheres. The orbit of our Moon illustrates this idea; to explain its apparent movement through the heavens the Moon needed three spheres; one rotating every day in order to explain the rising and setting; a second rotating every month in order to explain the movement through the zodiac (movement against the stars); and a third rotating monthly on a slightly different axis in order to explain its variation in latitude. To see Eudoxus solution click here.
The problem that was obvious to the ancient astronomers was that planets behaved in a strange fashion, sometimes they were closer, sometimes farther away from Earth, sometimes speeding up and sometimes slowing down or even appearing to travel backwards. The word “planet” comes from the Ancient Greek word for “wonder”. Our friend Eudoxus required 27 concentric spheres to explain the movements in the heavens, but that was later refined by his contemporary, the great philosopher Aristotle, in to a model of greater perfection. In an attempt to make sense of what was observed, he placed 55 concentric spheres around the Earth, each responsible for a specific movement of the heavenly bodies, always though in the perfect eternal motion of a circle, as they passed through the substance out there that he called the “aether”. At the furthest extremities he placed the “Unmoved Mover”, or the force that centuries later came to represent the all-powerful Christian God.
All this could have, and should have, been rendered irrelevant had the ideas of Aristarchus, also of Samos, caught on some 200 years later! Essentially he had it all worked out. He placed the Sun at the centre of the cosmos, with the Earth and other planets circling it, in the same order as we know them today.
But his theories did not stand up to the withering logic of the time. He was unpicking the established teachings of the great Aristotle and Plato. Yet it didn’t gain kudos because it seemed so self-evidently wrong. If indeed the Earth were moving through space, why would an object thrown upwards come straight back down? Surely it would land at a distance away as the ground the individual were standing on moved through space. So, the common sense of the time indicated that Aristotle had it right.
Disfellowshipping or excommuniation –
Jehovah’s Witnesses practice something they refer to as ‘disfellowshipping’ this is something they use to control their congregations by fear. As someone who was a Jehovah’s Witness and who has been disfellowshipped allow me to please explain what happens to you once you are disfellowshipped.
I was brought up as a Witness* and left when I was in my early thirties. Unlike many ex-JW’s I didn’t walk away from it, despite many seemingly unanswerable questions, I was excommunicated and treated like a criminal. This meant that all of the friends that I had grown up with over the years of being a JW were now no longer permitted to have any contact with me. I couldn’t contact them and explain my side of the story (they wouldn’t take my calls). It meant my immediate family were to no longer have any communication with me (not even via email or text message).
*you can read my story in full here
Now credit to my folks, they allowed me to stay in their house as, due to a divorce I had lost my own along with everything I owned after 6/7 years of marriage to an upright christian sister (yeah right).
Now unless you’ve been through a divorce you cannot understand what it is like, you go through a mourning process as if someone close to you has died. In my case my ex had two kids from a previous marriage who lived with their biological father, but I still loved them as my own.
I mention this as I want you to appreciate how depressed I would have been. I had lost my house and my marriage. I was still working but was obviously not in the best frame of mind. I had a friend and his name was Vodka.
Then I met someone. I could talk and she would listen, we became friends and the rest is history. I was getting on with my life. But this wasn’t what the Jehovah’s Witness plan allowed. Oh hell no, you can’t be happy after you’ve left them! I had had many accusations thrown at me by my ex so they had to act on them, she was of course out for blood. Plus the ‘committee’ were on a witch hunt and I was the target. I never got on with any of them really and none of them knew the real me. I attended the first meeting as I was misled but refused the second one as I knew the outcome already.
(Note; none of the buffoons had any legal or educational qualifications so were never in a position to help – which is surely what Jeebus instructed them to do right?).
So that was that.
My family, my friends, everyone I knew were erased in that moment. Imagine falling from an aircraft a mile up without a parachute that’s kind of how it felt. That inevitable feeling of imminent death.
But it doesn’t come. Well it didn’t for me because I had someone who cared for me. Who encouraged me and helped me to find the answers to those unanswerable queries I mentioned before.
But that isn’t the end of the story. Despite moving on, being social awkward, making a few friends but none I am really close with. I have moments of dark depression and loneliness. These appear at random times and vary in veracity. Sometimes I can mentally kick my ass and get on with it, but when I am low because of illness or whatever, it gets harder. Being disabled doesn’t help much either.
These moments are when you need to speak to a parent, sibling, or mate over the phone or over a pint down the Dock and Duck. But you have no one. I don’t anyhow. I am a social outcast who lacks the skill to befriend. Don’t get me wrong, I have over 100 friends on Facebook! But aside from my wife none I am close to. I’ve put it out there a few times about meeting up for a coffee or a beer. But no one ever responds. I know folks have their own lives and are busy. I know too I am a very vocal Atheist, perhaps too vocal. But I care. Why should anyone have their heart ripped out twice?
So I admit it here (though I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore) I am 42 years old. I am married to a woman whom I love very much. I have five lovely children and……..I am painfully lonely.
I watch those films where a guy meets up with 4 of his buddies who he’s known since school and they go on a road trip and get drunk have a right laugh, gamble, drink, sky dive etc.
I’ve wanted that since I left school! I couldn’t then because of the cult’s restrictions so lost all contact. I couldn’t befriend workmates, because of the cult’s restrictions. Then they took all that away from me (though I am glad to be out trust me).
But they left behind a dysfunctional social outcast. Not that I have a social life.
I get up, I take my medication, some days I can leave the house. Most days I stay in my bed.
I sit and wonder what is the point?
I read to keep my sanity.
There’s that big question mark. What’s the point?
Honestly, if my Wife and kids weren’t here I wouldn’t be.
Even then I have my moments.
Because for all eternity we hold the hand of the person who brought us in to this world, who loved and cared for us, sacrificed much and yet will no longer have any contact with you.
So the wound is an open one, and the pain continues. The anger rises, the frustration takes a grip, but overall that feeling of utter rejection and self loathing permeates your very being.
All because a printing company decided that this control method, never mentioned in their bibles, should be adopted in 1952.
I am thankful for my wife, best friend and soul mate for being there.
Learn more about the Jehovah’s Witness practice of disfellowshipping here:
My own view of the bible is that it was tribal and plagarised stories from other continents and cultures, watered down or copied and then adopted by a power hungry institution as a means to control.
There are many versions of this book, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult have their own, but from where did it come?
A short history lesson
The New World Translation (NWT) was written by Nathan H. Knorr (then President of the organisation), Frederick W. Franz (then Vice-President), George D. Gangas, and Albert D. Schroeder. However, according to Raymond V. Franz, the “principal translator of the Society’s New World Translation” was Frederick W. Franz. (Source – Raymond V. Franz, Crisis of Conscience (Atlanta: Commentary Press, 1983), p. 50. The author, Raymond V. Franz, was from 1971 to 1980 a member of the Governing Body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a nephew of vice-president Frederick W. Franz. He wrote Crisis of Conscience after being expelled from the organization. On page 50 of the book he adds the following information in a footnote: “Other members of that Committee were Nathan Knorr, Albert Schroeder and George Gangas; Fred Franz, however, was the only one with sufficient knowledge of the Bible languages to attempt translation of this kind. He had studied Greek for two years in the University of Cincinnati but was only self-taught in Hebrew.”)
Not one of these men were qualified scribes, nor did they hold the relevant qualifications. In fact they wrote “The publishers believe that “the particulars of [the New World Bible Translation Committee’s members] university or other educational training are not the important thing” and that “the translation testifies to their qualification”. The Watchtower, December 15, 1974, p. 768. None of these men had any university education except Franz, who left school after two years, never completing even an undergraduate degree. In fact, Frederick W. Franz, then representing the translation committee and later serving as the Watchtower Society’s fourth president, admitted under oath that he could not translate Genesis 2:4 from the Hebrew.” (Source Walsh Trial)
Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults—Expanded Anniversary Edition, October 1997, Bethany House Publishers, p. 123-124. “the New World Bible translation committee had no known translators with recognized degrees in Greek or Hebrew exegesis or translation. While the members of the [NWT] committee have never been identified officially by the Watchtower, many Witnesses who worked at the headquarters during the translation period were fully aware of who the members were. They included Nathan H. Knorr (president of the Society at the time), Frederick W. Franz (who later succeeded Knorr as president), Albert D. Schroeder, George Gangas, and Milton Henschel’.”
Indeed, until the release of the NWT, Jehovah’s Witnesses in English-speaking countries primarily used the King James Version. (Sources The Watchtower, 1 November 1959, p. 672: “Up until 1950 the teachings of Jehovah’s witnesses were based mainly upon the King James Version of the Bible” additionally Botting, Heather; Gary Botting (1984). The Orwellian World of Jehovah’s Witnesses. University of Toronto Press. p. 99. ISBN 0-8020-6545-7. “The King James Bible was used by the Witnesses prior to the release of their own version, which began with the Greek Scriptures, in 1950.”)
The King James version of the Bible was completed in 1611 by 8 members of the Church of England. Earlier English translations such as The Wycliffe Bible pre-dated the printing press and were circulated very widely in manuscript form. However, there were (and still are) no original texts to translate.
The oldest known manuscripts were written down hundreds of years after the last of the apostles passed away. There are indeed over 8,000 of these old manuscripts, yet no two are alike.
The King James translators used NONE of these manuscripts. Instead these men took it upon themselves to edit previous translations to create a version that their King and the Parliament of the day would approve.
So the book all 21st Christians (including the Jehovah’s Witness cult) believe to be the “Word of God” is a book that has been edited in the 17th Century from 16th Century translations of 8,000 contradictory copies of 4th Century scrolls that claim to be copies of lost letters written in the 1st Century.
This is not faith, this is total insanity!
Thoughts or comments? Leave your marks below.
‘Social’ pain hurts physically, even when we see it in others
We would like to do without pain and yet without it we wouldn’t be able to survive. Pain signals dangerous stimuli (internal or external) and guides our behaviour. Its ultimate goal is to prioritize escape, recovery and healing. That’s why we feel it and why we’re also good at detecting it in others. Pain in fact protects not only the individual but also his social bonds. The brain contains circuits related to the more physical aspects of pain and others related to affective aspects. As observed in a study just published by Giorgia Silani, Giovanni Novembre and Marco Zanon of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, social pain activates some brain circuits of physical pain whether we feel it personally or when we experience it vicariously as an empathic response to other people’s pain.
The study by Silani and colleagues is innovative since it adopted a more realistic experimental procedure than used in the past and compared behaviours and the results of functional magnetic resonance imaging in the same subjects, during tests involving both physical and social pain. “Classic experiments used a stylized procedure in which social exclusion situations were simulated by cartoons. We suspected that this simplification was excessive and likely to lead to systematic biases in data collection, so we used real people in videos”.
The subjects took part in the experimental sessions simulating a ball tossing game, where one of the players was deliberately excluded by the others (condition of social pain). The player could be the subject herself or her assigned confederate. In another series of experiments the subject or her confederate were administered a mildly painful stimulus (condition of physical pain). When the subject was not personally the target of the stimulus, she could witness the entirety of her confederate’s experience.
“Our data have shown that in conditions of social pain there is activation of an area traditionally associated with the sensory processing of physical pain, the posterior insular cortex”, explains Silani. “This occurred both when the pain was experienced in first person and when the subject experienced it vicariously”.
“Our findings lend support to the theoretical model of empathy that explains involvement in other people’s emotions by the fact that our representation is based on the representation of our own emotional experience in similar conditions” concludes Silani.
Simply put he’s the celebrated leader of the so-called ”969” movement, a group of extremist monks responsible for the murderous deaths of innocent Muslims in Burma (also known as Myanmar).
Ashin Wirathu is no stranger to activism; he was arrested in 2003 for political incitement and served seven years in prison before he was reportedly released as part of a government amnesty program.
How does he feel about the Muslim settlers in his country? “Muslims are like the African carp. They breed quickly and they are very violent and they eat their own kind. Even though they are minorities here, we are suffering under the burden they bring us. Because the Burmese people and the Buddhists are devoured every day, the national religion needs to be protected,” he said, before announcing that he would push for a ban on interfaith marriage and vowing to continue the so-called “969” movement that calls for Buddhists to only do business with other Buddhists and exclude Muslims who have a strong tradition as merchants in Burma.”
Often compared in the press to the late terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden, Wirathu’s sermons play on the fear among some Buddhists in certain parts of Burma of a rising Muslim population that some feel is threatening the majority Buddhist religion and its traditions. The movement known as “969,” which calls for Buddhists to band together to defend their faith and for Buddhists to do business only with other Buddhists, has been spurred by support from Wirathu and his monks. The numerology of the “969” movement refers to the virtues of the Buddha, the practices of the faith and the community. The distinctive “969” stickers are ubiquitous on shops, motorcycles and car windows.
Burma, comprises eight major ethnic groups, yet 90 percent of the population is Buddhist. Approximately 5 percent of the population is Muslim and the rest are a mix of Christian and Hindu.
Muslims live throughout the country, as they were merchants along the trade routes between India and China. They have settled in waves of immigration from around the world since at least the 19th century. More recently, Muslims are coming across the border from Bangladesh in search of work and opportunity in Burma’s Rakhine State, where much of the recent violence has been centered.
As mentioned earlier, Ashin Wirathu has also pushed a ban against interfaith marriage, claiming that the Buddhist majority is diluted by such marriages and reeling off one anecdote after another of forced conversions of Buddhist women to Islam. Many critics in Burma and abroad say Wirathu’s sermons are racist rants against Muslims who he has likened to “mad dogs” and “cannibals” and, in perhaps a more charitable reference, as simply “troublemakers.”
However, Wirathu’s movement is gaining a wider and wider following.
He heads the Ma Soeyein monastery attended by some 2,500 monks, has an active Facebook page [do with this what you will] and leads speaking tours that attract thousands of followers. Wirathu is also gathering signatures for a petition to introduce the interfaith marriage legislation which he has titled, “Safeguarding the National Identity.”
The ban on interfaith marriage is not new in Burma, and it has been implemented in other countries in the region, including Singapore. It is similar to a popular idea that first emerged in the 1930s and called for a strong nationalist movement. And this is not the first time that Buddhist monks have used their authority to influence the history of Burma. They have always been part of major political movements.
You may recall that Buddhist monks were also at the head of the 2007 “Saffron Revolution,” in which monks took to the streets in large numbers to protest the rising prices of food and fuel. Images of the military cracking down on the monks with tear gas and batons were carried around the world and served to propel the pro-democracy movement.
Recently the violence sparked clashes and left more than 12,000 Muslims displaced, with the government seemingly slow to respond and according to those displaced apparently unwilling to offer assistance.
As extremists go this man is misguided at best, pure evil at worst. The world is standing by observing whilst a form of ethnic cleansing is happening in Burma.
Regular readers to the blog know I am atheist and that my assertion is that ALL religion is evil, religious leaders and their eager followers like this underline the fact. Yes there are Christian extremists, there are Muslim extremists, and conversely there are many ‘faithful’ who distance themselves from such extreme actions. But whilst religion is around innocents will be harmed. Religion retards.
Recent news concerning the attacks on Muslim settlers in Burma –
Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide are being instructed to ‘step up’ the shunning of former members, or family that have left the faith.
It has evoked a powerful response from many who are being victimised by this act.
This pretty young woman succinctly voices what many, including myself, feel about the Jehovah’s Witness cult.
Saint George’s Day is the feast day of Saint George. It is celebrated by various Christian churches and by the several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint. Saint George’s Day is celebrated on 23 April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George’s death in AD 303.
As Easter often falls close to Saint George’s Day, the church celebration of the feast may be moved from 23 April.
As an Englishman I am proud of my country and its heritage, but we are far from a christian country anymore. We are more a multicultural hub and with the internet religion is a spent force slowly dying out. Unfortunately this means religious extremism is on the uprise.
Now I am not referring to any particular flavour of religion, they are in my view all as bad as each other. But by the dilution of religion through knowledge the medieval beliefs we once held as a nation to be true are now dissolved to an extent that extremists pick up on the parts of their holy writings that suit them and therefore innocents are harmed.
Aside from this it disappoints me no end that St Georges day is not a national holiday. Despite The Sun newspaper and various traditional breweries attempting to instill national pride, it is met by apathy from those that are nonchalant towards it. In fact a colleague of mine once called it St Chav’s day. But he was a twat.
So I am going to enjoy a few traditional ales, a pork pie and some Branston pickle and celebrate being English – whilst ignoring the naysayers and the religitards who try to spoil my fun.
So yes, Happy St Georges day folks!
ps. Countries that celebrate St George’s Day include England, Canada, Croatia, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republic of Macedonia. Cities include Moscow in Russia, Genova in Italy, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Beirut in Lebanon, Qormi and Victoria in Malta and many others. It is also celebrated in the old Crown of Aragon in Spain—Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Majorca.
JWActivists.org is the official website of The Association of Anti-Watchtower Activists, a legally incorporated organization representing an international group of campaigners against the Watch Tower Society. Most of its associates are either current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Association of Anti-Watchtower Activists (AAWA) is an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the damaging influence of the Watch Tower Society through respectful and well-informed activism. AAWA is also committed to offering help and support to those who are mentally and emotionally afflicted by the Society’s teachings and practices in whatever ways it can.
AAWA arose in early 2013 through a series of discussions between its founders, who all felt it was the right time to try to organize the efforts of the many individual Anti-Watchtower activists into one cohesive unit. It was agreed that an organization needed to be formed that could confront the Watchtower head-on, and serve as a focal point whenever future media stories arise so that the position of those affected by Watchtower policies can be articulated.
With so many activists around the world, all of whom offer unique skills and experience, it was felt that much meaningful work could be accomplished if all of these individuals could be connected as a team that could work together. It was decided very early on that AAWA would need to be religiously-neutral, in that it would not promote or endorse any religious or philosophical belief system in particular. Its sole purpose would be to shine a bright light on the Watchtower’s murkier practices, and help thinking Witnesses break free from its clutches.
To that end, following considerable thought and discussion, AAWA was legally incorporated on March 7th 2013, and work began in earnest towards getting the basic infrastructure of the organization up and running. A “launch date” was penciled in for April 3rd, by which time the organization would be ready to start taking on volunteers. At the time of writing, it remains to be seen exactly what the response will be – but so far the early signs are promising. All who have been approached about AAWA have embraced it enthusiastically, and pledged their time and efforts to help make it work.
Taken from the ‘About’ section of the website JWActivists.
Learn more by watching this short introductory video made by the JWActivists team;