Aron Ra: Regarding the Most Hated Woman in America

In Canada, we are now debating the proposed legislation in Quebec on the restriction of in-your-face religious symbols in government owned spaces.

I am on record with my unease in permitting a government – any government – in legislating how sovereign citizens may or may not dress…while at the same time, I am also on record with my reservations about permitting individuals who are acting as ‘agents of the state’ to display overt religious symbols as we, as a country of immigrants, are bound to have some citizens who have come to Canada to escape the oppression of every single religious group ‘out there’…..and if an agent of the state, WHILE acting as the agent of the state, displays that religion’s symbols, the individual citizen will have been, in my never-humble-opinion, alienated at best and oppressed by the state at worst.

I have never claimed that I know where the balance lies!!!

Indeed, I do not.

Yet, I do think it is essential that we have this discussion honestly, without the fears that Cultural Marxism with its doctrine of ‘political correctness’ and the fear to speak honestly about our own desires and fears – so that our fellow citizens can honestly understand them, however irrational they may be – can happen.  Only when we understand this can we go back to the first principles (self ownership) and reason out the least harmful solution…our fellow citizens deserve nothing less than that!

The following video offers a bit of that – much less than that in some respects, much more in others.  I think it brings some factors to this discussion that we all ought to keep in mind when we consider the wider implication of any legislation which would seek to define what the boundaries of the outward expressions of one’s religious faith ought to be:

Reason TV’s Nanny of the month – July 2012

 

ReasonTV’s ‘Nanny of the Month’ award for June 2012

 

Thunderf00t: OVER 30 PERCENT OF US NOW NON-RELIGIOUS!!

 

Reason TV: An Atheist Billboard in Brooklyn

This reminds me…

Five or six years ago, when we were checking out the high-schools in our area for the right one to send our older son to, we visited a number of the ‘best’ schools in our area.  All the schools were trying to get as many of the ‘gifted’ kids to go there as possible, so on these visits, we were given the red carpet treatment…

I always checked out the library:  the natural environment for an Aspie…

In one of these schools (the one whose formal presentation was most adamant that they are inclusive and do not tolerate any ‘cliques’), in the ‘religion’ section of the library, I found a surprisingly wide range of Christian literature.  Not only did they have the books on the most common Christian denominations, they even had books representing Gnostic Christianity and even saw one on the Russian Orthodox faith.  I was impressed.

Soon, however, I was struck by the fact that though the variety of Christianity represented in the ‘theology’ section was commendable, there were absolutely no books on other faiths.  Not one!

I did what any other person would do:  I asked the librarian where books on Islam, Judaism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Hinduism and so on were.  With a smile, she directed me to the ‘mythology’ section…

Yes, ‘mythology’.

I could not stop laughing!

This just goes to show you:  even theists are perfectly capable of seeing that ‘religious beliefs’ are nothing more than a collection of myths.  It is perfectly obvious to them – all of them…

…with the tiny exception of their own religion…

AronRa: Reasonable Faith?!

 

Thunderf00t’s thought experiment

Pat Condell: ‘Children of a Stupid God’

Here is Pat Condell’s latest video, ‘Children of a Stupid God’.  Whatever your belief-system (or lack thereof), he does bring up an intersting perspective…and a few good points for thought:

Nature of ‘Faith’

In the last two posts, I looked at an alternate explanation of some statements in the Bible.  As the feedback showed, some Christians believe these statements literally, others figuratively.  And they are all happy holding onto their very different beliefs, even though all of them are inspired by the same passage in Genesis.   That is great!  

People ‘hold on’ to their ‘profound beliefs’, regardless of what others think of them or anything else – and I would not want it to be any other way.  This is called ‘faith’.  I have learned about this phenomenon.  I do not comprehend it, but I am ready to accept that some people are capable of it.

Yet, people often ‘hold on’ to ‘beliefs’ or ‘opinions’ on trivial or non-profound points which are demonstrably unsupportable.  I have tried, but I really don’t understand this aspect of human nature.  Personally, I have a hard time with this 100% one way, or 100% the other way mode of thought…..perhaps because I’m not ‘wired just right’…but I don’t think there is anything I’ve invested a 100%, non-conditional ‘belief’ in.

No, I’m not talking about everyday life things, like knowing I love my kids and so on….emotional investment is NOT what I am talking about.  Nor am I talking about the ‘ought to’ kind of belief, as in “I belive all humans ought to be treated as equals in the eyes of the law.”

I mean ‘factual’ stuff:  like physics, chemistry, history…that ‘stuff’…. and global warming, political implications, someone’s culpability in something, superstitions, trust in actual physical institutions …that ‘stuff’, too.  For example, when driving over a bridge, I am reasonably convinced that the probability that the bridge will collapse under me is so low as to be negligible – or I would not have driven onto it.  Yet, I do not believe that it will not collapse….there is a difference!

OK, I ‘know’ gravity is a ‘force’ – yet, if someone presented me with substantiated evidence that it wasn’t a force, but rather an aspect of, say, space, I would be sceptical, yet I’d want to know what they based their claim on.  They’d need solid evidence, but….I could be convinced by it.   Knowledge, conclusions, opinions – these are all subject to change as more information comes in.  I get that!  I understand that process, and have experienced it many times.  What I don’t get is ‘belief’ or ‘faith’.

Perhaps this is a characteristic of us Aspergers’ people:  I recall some friends cutting out a comic strip in which a teacher is handing back a math test.  She reads one of the answers out loud:  “provided both trains are travelling in straight line, with no hills or curves, provided there are no accidents that slow them down along the way, provided we neglect to account for the curvature of the Earth, provided the clocks in both stations are synchronized, and that the whole path is along same height above sea-level and so no time diallation occurs, the trains’ average speed is XXX. ”  She hands the test to a boy, and he wonders:  “How did she know this was my paper?  I forgot to put my name on it!”

For some reason, my friends thought this was hillarious and wanted to show it to me….something about the comic basing a character on me… 

It seems many people have as much problems with ‘my’ processing of information into conditional conclusions as I do with ‘faith’.    This truly shocked me….after all, does not EVERYONE state the obvious limits under which any conclusion is valid?  Why do many people percieve such qualifications as ‘waffling’?  It certainly is not so!  Would not presuming such things be an oversimplification, to the point of error? 

Yet ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ seemed more natural to many people than my ‘conditional conclusions’!

What is it that allows one person to ‘believe’ or ‘have faith’, while another cannot even commit to a math-problem answer without stating all the assumptions and limitations?  Which one is the ‘normal’ one, and which the ‘anomaly’?  Or is this like a spectrum, where there are no discrete breaks, just a continuum….with my ilk falling squarely at one extreme?

These questions have haunted me, ever since I can recall formulating their cognitive pre-cursors in nursery shool.  Even back then, I simply could not understand the motivations and expected goals behind other children’s games – and when I asked, I got blank stares or the old ‘index-finger-making-circular-motion-by-the-temple’ gestures in return.  I can understand both the process and the motivation/expected goals behind a calcualted risk, problem analysis, conditional conclusion, that sort of thing….  But, for the life of me, I cannot understand either the process nor the motivation/expected goals behind ‘belief’ and faith’ – both profound and mundane.

Is this just another aspect of my ‘faulty wiring’, one that makes me so very Aspergers?  Or, are ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ simply a label for ‘I don’t understand and am not worthy/willing to think about’?  Or is there something entirely different at play here?

Old Guys in the Bible: Part 2

This traces the search for the ‘nifty little formula’ used to ‘translate’ the high ages ascribed to Old Testament patriarchs into something more closely related to our current experience, as listed in Part 1. It is certainly not intended to challenge anyone’s personal faith. If you are likely to find such exploration offensive, please, do not read this post.

Ancient peoples were rather good at setting up calendars. The Ancient Egyptians were no exception: they observed the lunar cycle, but they also kept precise track of the solar cycle which affected the seasonal flooding of the Nile. Theirs was a lunisolar calendar. And Egypt is where the Israelites came from…

Surely enough, the early Hebrew calendar. And the lunations themselves were VERY important in Early Hebrew culture, to the point that people ‘bore witness’ of having seen the new crescent moon during religious ceremonies in the Temple.

Thus, the natural inclination would be to see if it would be reasonable that the time period cited as ‘years’ really signified ‘lunation’… now to follow that lead!

The Hebrew lunisolar calendar is specific. The solar year is divided into 12 lunar months. There are a few days left at the end of the year – but no partial months are allowed. Instead, every 2 or 3 years, an extra month was inserted into the year to ‘catch up’. It was sounding complicated, but there is a regular cycle: every 19 years, exactly 7 extra lunar months were added. Averaging this out, every year would have 12 months and 7/19ths ‘extras’. So, as a simplification, one solar year could be treated as having 12.37 lunar months.

I love it when complicated-looking things turn out to have easy-to-follow rules!

Armed with this new evidence, I took a peek at the ages the Old Testament patriarchs became fathers.

Even a cursory look made it clear that there could not be a simple misunderstanding between lunar and solar cycles in the chronology: it simply does not seem credible that someone could become a father at the age of 30 months. So, there had to be another factor at play.

Sometimes, it is curious how one holds many clues, but does not see they are even related….until some key connects them all. Then, things fall into place faster than one can ‘think them through’!

It was G’Kar, a character from Babylon 5, who handed me that key. He described how as a child, he had a different name: he only chose his ‘adult’ name at his coming-of-age ceremony!

Could it be THAT simple?

The Jewish coming-of-age ceremony for boys it the bar-mitzvah, when they reach the age of 13. But, this particular ceremony has only existed in its current form for a few hundred years. So, is it based on an older tradition, one that could bring us back into Biblical times?

Jesus Christ is said to have been baptized at the age of 30. Even though Jesus’ baptism may have been indicative of induction into priesthood, it is the basis of the modern practice of baptism which marks a person as a member of the Christian community Intriguing, but …

Back to history: there has been a long tradition of welcoming boys into the ranks of men at about the age of thirteen. The ancient middle-eastern traditions are no exception to this. The early Hebrew tradition seems to have been that young boys would undergo secular education, until about their thirteenth year. After this point, they would be allowed to join the ranks of men in the Temple and study religion.

There are references to it certainly being so in the times of Abraham (Abram): Abraham himself is said to have rejected idolatry and accepted God at the age of 13, and both his sons attended a school until they turned 13, after which one went to study Hebrew scriptures, the other ‘heathen ones’. There is also evidence that 13 may not have been too rigidly adhered to, that circumstances may have led to allowing younger boys to be accepted as men.

Furhtermore, there are references that Abraham (among others) refers to his coming-of-age ceremony as the time he started being called ‘something’ – and there are many conjectures as to the meaning of this ‘something’. I certainly am not a Talmudic or Biblical scholar, so I simply lack the knowledge to comprehend, much less assess these claims…(and I fully expect to be educated on this by incoming comments). 

But, what if the ‘something’ was a reference to his own name? As in, what if these comments about him starting to be called ‘xxx’ mean that he started to be called by his name: Abraham (Abram)?  Could it be evidence of a ‘naming’ ceremony which marked the beginning of his life as a man

What if the ages, as cited in Genesis, do not refer to the number of LUNAR cycles a person lived, but the number that he had lived as a man?

Presuming 13 to be the age that the patriarch became ‘men’ (even if some, like Nahor, may have been younger), and using 12.37 as the approximate number of lunations in a year, I arrived at my ‘nifty little function’:

Age(new) = [Age(old) / 12.37] + 13

This offset by 13 years just might make ‘sense’ of the listed ages.

I would like to stress that this is not meant to criticize or deny anyone’s personal faith, should they believe these ages to be true as given in the Bible. Personal faith is above such things as my little musings!

Also, I fully expect to hear back from those of you more knowledgeable on Biblical issues than I, with valid criticisms that will demonstrate the errors of my analysis. And that would be great! I’d rather be corrected than persist in error, any day.

Yet, looking at the ‘newly proposed ages’ for these ancient men, I cannot but wonder if, possibly, there might be some plausibility……?