Category Archives: Religion

Flat Earth Theory

Flat Earth

Flat Earth

Nobody gives ancient religious leaders or philosophers any credit anymore. They had little in the way of scientific education or knowledge of math and lacked advanced tools that might help them to test their hypotheses, so they did the best they could with what they had. This is to say, they sat around and thought about stuff while their slaves, or congregations, did all the real work.

Let’s look at the Flat Earth theory. We all like to deride those people who we now consider to be foolish for ever having assumed the Earth was flat and for suppressing the science that suggested otherwise. Such was the certainty of the Catholic Church, despite the lack of any biblical mention of geometry, math, or anything related to the possible circumnavigation of the Earth, that it took centuries before scientific proof was accepted. The Flat Earth zealots stuck with their theory until they realized that the bible didn’t specifically preclude the Earth from being round and orbiting the sun and until it also became obvious that people were perfectly able to accept that the previous Popes may have been wrong but that the current Pope is still always right.

Philosophers

Philosophers

Frankly, the Popes were just doing their jobs as they were taught. They were just messengers and we all know it isn’t nice to shoot the messenger. How can we expect someone with no scientific training to believe every would-be scientist or soothsayer who has a new theory? Just because the science indicates something, doesn’t mean it is true until god is ready to tell the Pope that it is. Or for the Pope to finally agree that it is true, since I’m not exactly sure how clear the communications path is between god and the Pope. Sure, they could have followed Ronald Reagan’s friendly advice to “trust but verify” any reasonable new scientific theories instead of “burn the lying blasphemer,” but it all worked out in the end. As far as I’m concerned, the Earth was flat until it was round.

Warping of Space-Time

Warping of Space-Time

Or is it? In the early twentieth century, Einstein showed that space and time were linked and that gravity was a manifestation of the curvature of space-time. We finally had reached the point where the science was good enough to refute the earlier science that just said the Earth was simply round rather than flat and that things fell towards other objects with an acceleration corresponding to their mass. Things no longer just fell, they moved along the curved paths of space-time.

Had ancient religious leaders had Einstein’s insight, I’m pretty sure they would have agreed that the world is indeed flat after all, just as they originally thought. You see, the concept of space-time is just so confusing, and makes so little practical sense, that we have to assume that god created an illusion of roundness simply to prevent people from falling off the edge. He simply could not possibly tolerate the existence of a dangerous flaw in his creation. Consider this. The currently-perceived roundness of the Earth might just be another manifestation of curved space-time.

You know that saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing? Well, perhaps a little Newtonian classical physics was just enough knowledge to discredit a perfectly reasonable Flat Earth theory, since it didn’t take warped space-time into account. Thanks Newton. You may have thought you stood on the shoulders of giants, but maybe they were really just midgets after all.

My breakthrough theory, that the Earth may still actually be flat after all, came to me while I was thinking about how the universe isn’t just an expanding sphere as many people may think. Stick with me here for a couple of paragraphs while I go through the proof.

Expanding Donut-Shaped Universe

Expanding Donut-Shaped Universe

The fact that stars are all receding from each other means that the universe is expanding in all directions, or at least appears so. If all matter were flying outward in an expanding sphere, then the stars would not all have to be receding from each other unless we were all sitting on the outside edge of that sphere. That would mean we are actually in a two-dimensional universe, which doesn’t seem right. So, that means the universe is somehow warped in a weird way that might resemble an expanding donut or some other shape we cannot easily conceive.

The space between stars is also warped, which means that the light from a star may actually be seen coming from more than one direction as it passes by multiple massive objects (e.g. stars, black holes) and bends around them. Theoretically, the Earth could be surrounded by starlight that is actually coming from the same star along many different paths through warped space-time. Instead of billions and billions of stars, as Carl Sagan used to say, there may just be billions and billions of refracted images of far fewer stars. We might even be looking at refracted light from our own star.

Alien Genocide

Alien Genocide

The obvious and simple conclusion–and I’m pretty sure Aristotle would be happy to back me up on this–is that god probably made the universe flat, for simplicity’s sake, but also made it appear warped to keep people from flying their spaceships off the edge. Maybe he also made it this way to keep us from ever reaching another star and bumping into some of his hideous and dangerous other alien creations. He might not mind it if humans kill off the rest of his terrestrial creations, or the Earth itself, but it is apparent that he has deliberately made it a lot harder for us to start blowing up his more advanced alien worlds. If there are really billions and billions of other planets out there, there have got to be some less aggressive species out there that are a lot more grateful for the opportunity to spend their days worshipping their god rather than indulging themselves.

Isn’t it amazing how profound and simple the universe can really be if we just realize that there is a difference between reality and perception and that perception is all that should matter to us? Surely, there is no more elegant way to build a universe than to make it appear simple while hiding its innate complexity. Why do we have religion? Religion helps to keep us from thinking too hard about the complexity of reality. It’s easier, and more comforting, to say it is whatever we say it is and just leave it at that.

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Happy Pagan Christmas!

Pagan Christmas

Pagan Christmas

Many people talk about keeping Christ in Christmas, but it isn’t quite correct to say you want to keep something that was never really there in the first place. Christmas is my favorite pagan holiday. You might say that the original Christmas celebrations were Christ-free Christmases. What? Blasphemy! Sacrilege! Yes, Christmas was a pagan holiday that was slowly taken over by Christians. While it is now supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, his actual birth month and date is unknown. December 25th was a made-up date by the Western Christian Church. In fact, Christmas combines the traditions of pagan, Christian, and secular themes. Greenery, candles, yule logs, gift-giving, merrymaking, and especially drinking were part of pagan celebrations for hundreds of years before the Christians adopted the practices.

Pagan Idol Tree

Pagan Idol Tree

Pagan Tree

Pagan Tree

The takeover of a popular pagan holiday did not occur without resistance from Christian leaders. Did you know that they once tried to ban Christmas trees for being pagan? Early Christian leaders also condemned the practice of decorating homes with lamps and wreaths. The early Puritans who settled North America banned the Christmas holiday for the same reason.

Many non-Christians enjoy the Christmas holiday. Should they feel weird about it? Why should Jews have to call their tree a Hanukah bush? It’s just a pagan tradition anyway. In fact, there are medical benefits to celebrating the holiday with everyone else, according to this article: Christmas Isn’t Only For Christians: Secular Celebrators Also Enjoy Mental Health Benefits Of Community, Giving.

The most fun things about Christmas today are the gift giving, decorations, music, food, drink, and festivity. All of these are based on pagan holiday traditions, not Christian ones. So, from now on, I’m not going to feel bad about celebrating Christmas without going to a church. Maybe I’ll even look into turning to paganism, like another blogger sick of hearing the hypocritical chant to keep Christ in Christmas. We don’t need any new made-up holidays like Festivus to get in the holiday mood. I’m getting Christ back out of Christmas and celebrating a Pagan Christmas! But no human sacrifices, of course–a turkey will do just fine.

Keep the Yule in Yuletide

Keep the Yule in Yuletide

Silly Christian!

Silly Christian!

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Non-Local Senses

Extra-Sensory Perception

Extra-Sensory Perception

Religious individuals believe in the ability to communicate with god through prayer and to receive messages from god or from the devil through a similar extra-sensory mechanism. This is supposedly how prophets and other lucky individuals receive revelations and how disturbed individuals hear evil voices that encourage them to commit terrible acts. Is it possible that communication through prayer or divine revelation doesn’t just occur by magic, but uses an actual physical mechanism? If everything else we do is confined within a well-defined set of physical laws, then why wouldn’t communication with spiritual beings make use of some physical law as well?

For that matter, is it also possible that experiences believed to be communication with god, the devil, or other spirits are actually communications with other humans, animals, extraterrestrials, or other entities who can also make use of this physical mechanism? If such a path for non-local communication between human brains and other entities exists, then is it also possible that this extra-sensory capability could be used in other ways and for other purposes? If god is always right, but the visions, revelations, or prophesies of some people are wrong, it could be that they are just insane, but maybe they are simply receiving messages from other sources that are just plain wrong.

Mind to Mind Communication

Mind to Mind Communication

Maybe god speaks to us on the equivalent an open citizens band radio channel or an online chat room, where any bozo who happens to be passing through and tunes to the right channel can intrude on his transmissions. In the world of radio communications, this is referred to as MIJI, or meaconing, intrusion, jamming and interference. If you have to know, meaconing is when someone falsely simulates the location of a navigation beacon in order to pull someone off course. Let’s use this as a metaphor for how false revelations can change someone’s life by deliberately pulling one in the wrong direction. For those of you too young to remember CB radio, it’s kinda like an anonymous online forum.

The ability for humans to perceive or influence events through some kind of non-local sense (i.e. other than sight, smell, sound, touch or taste) is well documented not only anecdotally, but also in scientific studies. Twins, as well a parents and children or married couples, often appear to have strong bonds that sometimes enable them to sense when something bad has happened to their loved one or when that person has just reached safety. Some studies with statistically significant results have shown the ability of spiritual healers to influence the condition of both human and non-human subjects.

Robert G. Jahn, director of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab, has performed experiments that show a statistically significant effect when people attempt to influence the performance of devices such as random-event generators. Another experiment by Erlendur Haraldsson and Thorstein Thorsteinsson, documented in Reinventing Medicine, tested the ability of two spiritual healers, one physician (who also uses spiritual healing and prayer), and four students to increase the growth of yeast in 120 test tubes. The results showed statistically significant results affirming the ability of the healers and physician to increase growth rates beyond what would normally be expected. Also see Healing Beyond the Body or Entangled Minds. The use of non-human subjects is important because it removes an important variable–the possibility that people can heal themselves through meditation or prayer or can benefit from the efforts of their friends and family.

That Creepy Feeling

That Creepy Feeling

The bottom line is that living creatures may possess some kind of poorly-understood form of extra-sensory perception that is responsible for a wide range of events. I think it is likely that how we feel about someone we just meet is not entirely based on our normal senses. Most of us have experienced a creepy repulsive feeling about someone or an exhilarating feeling of attraction. Sure, maybe it was something physical related to hormones or other bodily emissions that we sense subconsciously, but maybe not. Maybe it is a mental connection.

Parapsychology Revolution

Parapsychology Revolution

It is certainly possible to study this. Maybe we can gather up a bunch of total losers from a high-security prison, along with some really lovable winners, and use them to test their physical and mental emissions. Or is this just too risky a topic for a well-respected scientist? I smell a future Nobel prize here. Is anyone up to the task?

New Religion for the Space Age

Virgin Galactic Spaceship

Virgin Galactic Spaceship

If there is one thing that most people can now agree on, it is that things are changing much faster than before and will probably keep changing even faster. Much has changed in human society over the past several hundred years, from slavery to female rights to freedom of speech, to subtle changes in religious dogma. Unfortunately, many of our moral values were shaped by ancient writers who may have had far different motives when establishing their holy rules. So, we can’t expect those rules to be the best possible way to shape the destiny of humankind through the next millennium. Now might be the time to consider carefully how we might craft a religion that is better suited to the future needs of the human race.

Scientology

Scientology

And no, I don’t think Scientology will fit the bill. Jamie DeWolf, the great-grandson of science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard, spilled the beans on how and why this modern religion was started. Hint: writing just didn’t pay the bills and he wanted to get rich.

If I were to start a new religion, my first thought might be how to gain the maximum amount of control over my potential subjects in order to impose my values on them and increase my personal wealth. But, dictators have been doing that for years and it sometimes backfires on them or their less capable heirs. So, we’ve already been there and done that. Assuming I wasn’t doing this for me, but rather for humanity as a whole, I would evaluate the challenges before the human race and choose some rules, backed up with a currently unchallengeable set of assumptions, which would help us to meet those challenges.

One such challenge is that of interstellar space travel. Most of us realize that when you measure distances in light years, and your technology can only get you a tiny fraction of the speed necessary to get close to light speed, and we don’t think we can ever actually even get to light speed, that we have a problem when it comes to colonizing other worlds. Unless there is some way to move faster than the speed of light or to find wormholes that act as shortcuts between worlds, we will not have much luck. Colonizing Mars or maybe one of the moons of Jupiter or Neptune just doesn’t seem satisfying or useful.

So, if you believe that we, the human race, need to colonize other worlds before our own world is extinguished, how do you get people to volunteer for a one-way trip through space-time considering that they will never see their home again and never even live long enough to reach their destination? You can’t just trick them into thinking it will only take a few years to get there, since they will not plan properly for the journey. You need to give them a reason to want to live and die on a spaceship and to raise future generations who will gladly continue the mission.

Alien Lord?

Alien Lord?

This is the perfect job for a new space-age religion. A religion that tells us that god wants us to travel to the promised world even though we will never reach it ourselves. A religion pushing us away from the evil, decaying Earth and towards a land full of milk and honey waiting for our great, great, great, great … grand children to colonize. A religion that gives us the strength to sacrifice our very lives and those of our children and grand children in the pursuit of a far-off goal, even if it means we may have to expunge the promised land of nasty aliens when we get there. Getting people to sacrifice for each other is usually a challenge, but not so hard if they are sacrificing for an all-powerful ruler. I think we have plenty of experience that we can put to good use here.

Jedi-Sith Battle

Jedi-Sith Battle

There would probably have to be some pretty specific rules on board the spaceships regarding hygiene, diet and exercise to ensure the maintenance of health and reduce the chance of disease. Oh, and it would have to make sure they don’t all kill each other. And we would have to ensure that we don’t just dispose of deceased human bodies, but rather recycle all precious limited resources in the most useful way possible.

Since spaceships have limited space and resources, population control and careful attention to the gene pool will also need to be a key element of that religion. Perhaps a preference for monogamy will have to be displaced by a preference for genetic diversity. It may be necessary to require that all females produce two, and exactly two, offspring, each of which must be from different fathers. This assumes, of course, that all mothers and fathers are fertile, genetically acceptable, and free of undesirable mutations. If this is not the case, then someone else will have to make up for their shortcomings by producing other genetically-diverse babies. I’m pretty sure that, human nature being what it is, the leaders of this religion will probably grant themselves the special benefit of producing however many extra offspring are needed to meet the quota. And they will probably get their choice of females.

Kate Upton in Zero Gravity

Kate Upton in Zero Gravity

I know, I know, you are now cringing in horror at the mere thought of this sterile future and suspect it is just an excuse for a “man”-made religion designed to encourage polygamy. Is it my fault that nature favors diversity? What would you do if you were stuck on a spaceship with the Duggar family and you and your spouse could not even get pregnant? For those of you reading this in the future, when they are no longer front- page news, the Duggars are currently a family of 19 and I’m not sure they have stopped popping out kids yet. No mere human could get away with imposing such restrictive rules on reproduction. The Chinese already tried it with their 1-child policy, which hasn’t turned out so well. It would have to be a god.

How do we create such a religion? I certainly can’t say I’m an expert, but I know of plenty of experienced theologians who would probably give us a good leg up on the task. Some wackos even think that NASA is already trying to create a new religion for the Antichrist. Anyway, if anyone is in the market for a new religion, let’s get together and brainstorm this one before someone else creates a real monster. You know, the kind where everyone either kills themselves or tries to kill everyone else so they can get on to the heavenly afterlife.

NASA's Alleged Project Bluebeam

NASA’s Alleged Project Bluebeam

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving Day. I’m thankful that the Puritans managed to emigrate to America to escape persecution in England, but were eventually prevented from persecuting Quakers and other religious sects once they has established themselves in America. The result was religious tolerance for a country full of dissenters. I give thanks that we can all agree to disagree without killing each other, at least most of the time.

Oh, and if you are a Vegan, enjoy that tofu turkey, or whatever it happens to be!

Vegan Turkey

Vegan Turkey

Her Holiness

God is a Woman

God is a Woman

Is God a woman? I realize this is a meaningless question. How can an all-powerful, all-knowing being of energy have a gender? But I’ve heard it discussed enough to know that people want to know the answer anyway, so let’s give it a go. Think of this like you would small talk at a party–meaningless but pretty much unavoidable.

Obviously, we can’t look at physical features to give us the answer, so we have to compare his or her actions with those of human characteristics that we would characterize as either masculine or feminine. What other measure is there? Sure, the ability to give birth to creatures (not to mention the entire universe) is a strong feminine indicator, but what else? Please forgive any blatant male/female stereotypes used in this analysis–it’s all I have to go on.

Death Penalty for Adultery

Death Penalty for Adultery

Perhaps most indicative is the tendency to change her mind. Should adultery be punished by death? According to the Laws of Moses In the Old Testament, it was a definite yes. In the New Testament, Jesus emphasized compassion and forgiveness. But then Mohammed in the Koran goes right back to death. So, what is the real deal? Even if one or more of these religions are wrong and she was misquoted, she certainly has done nothing to clarify the rules.

God's Warning

God’s Warning

Now that I’m a parent, I understand that we don’t always want our kids to know what will happen if they break the rules. We would rather deter them by implying serious consequences, but don’t necessarily want to have to follow through in the event of a breach. So, being too specific can force you to do something you don’t want to do or make you look like a pushover for not following through, thus reducing the chance that you will be able to deter future bad behavior. So, is god fickle when it comes to punishment or just trying to confuse us like a parent who isn’t as strict as she wants us to believe? If she is deliberately changing the rules just to keep us uncertain, that is pretty bad parenting. After all, we’ve been killing each other over such unclear rules for centuries, which completely undermines the concept of deterrence. No, I don’t think it could be on purpose. I think god must really be fickle.

Meteor Strike

Meteor Strike

Let’s look at god’s demand that we worship her. I think that says it all. Yes, there are guys who think they deserve to be worshiped, but it isn’t exactly the norm. Men prefer to be admired for their accomplishments and their ability to compete and win. Or at least for their ability to knock you senseless. If god were a man, he would probably be more inclined to intervene in human events just to show off. I know that some of you think he already does so every time he throws a hurricane, tornado, or tsunami around, but I don’t think that is how a guy would do it. If god wanted to show mankind that he is “the man,” it would be a bit more dramatic. A meteor taking out “sin city” would be good. Or maybe O.J. Simpson and his attorney bursting spontaneously into flames in front of the cameras just after acquittal. That would definitely make everyone stop and think.

Six Day War Celebration

Six Day War Celebration

If the Jews really are the chosen people and god were a man, I think he would also act a little more like a sports fan. When the Israelis kicked butt in the Six Day War, did anyone feel the ground shake or the winds howl? Were the clouds painted red, green, and purple? Did the victorious soldiers get laid like rock stars? After the first big victory in two thousand years, I would expect a bit of celebration, unless they aren’t the chosen people anymore. But would a guy ever really give up on his home team after such a big comeback? I don’t think so. No, I think god just isn’t much of a sports fan or maybe he has switched to a new team (see the part on fickleness, above).

Worship Your Woman

Worship Your Woman

Women, on the other hand, love to be worshiped. The reason doesn’t necessarily matter. In fact, if you give her a reason, she will probably question you in detail about why you love her, which might lead to doubts about your actual devotion and motivation. “So, are you saying you only love me because I look good in a bikini?” Be too specific and you might just end up in the doghouse. It’s better to just worship her without reason or complaint, which also seems to be what god really wants. It’s rule number one in the Ten Commandments for a reason. It doesn’t matter how much of a jerk you are most of the time, as long as you worship her, you’ll probably be OK.

Would a female god encourage Muslim men to worship their women at the same time they force them to cover their bodies from head to toe and stay at home to keep them safe from all the other sex-crazed men? Are men just expected to completely lose all self control when they see an attractive woman? I think most women would say yes. Men are weak and just can’t help themselves. She knows this and has made appropriate rules.

Sexy Burkas

Sexy Burkas

Does god really believe that hiding female sexuality even works to help keep them safe? When it comes to sex, men have pretty good imaginations and aren’t always too discriminating about what is under the curtain. So, it might not help much, but it could at least shift some of the drooling and harassment away from the hot babes to the less attractive ones. A male god would certainly have dispensed with the monthly hormone surges and either increased the female sex drive to match those of men or increased the proportion of women to men to promote polygamy.

As far as I’m concerned, god is acting a lot like a woman. Of course, what does that really mean anyway? Will she be especially pissed off at men in particular considering the way they have treated women throughout most of history? Would a female god favor women over men? Considering how women don’t always treat other women very well, I’m not so sure. Mothers are also probably more prone to having a favorite son than a favorite daughter. Jesus really could do no wrong, I guess, even when he disregarded her previous laws. So maybe that’s why men have been able to get away with so much mischief.

Will there really be a harem of 72 virgins waiting in heaven for every Muslim man or is that just a cruel joke? Men might just end up doing all the heavenly housework. Somebody’s got to keep the place looking good. Considering that men have to leave their second brains behind when they die, will they even have any more interest in virgins? Tell me it isn’t so, mother! Pretty please?

Welcome to Heaven

Welcome to Heaven

Save the Cows on Yom Kippur

No leather shoes on Yom Kippur

No leather shoes on Yom Kippur

I was just reading up on Yom Kippur because I’m expected to attend a “break the fast” party at the end of the holiday. This is when most Jews get together to stuff their faces after having fasted for 24 hours. I learned that, while everyone knows not to fast, they probably don’t know about four other prohibitions for that day.

For some reason, Jews are not supposed to wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur. Maybe god just didn’t want anyone to wear any good shoes at all, since it is a day of rest after all. Leather was just the best available footwear technology at the time, but I don’t think he would have been that specific without a reason. Was god not able to predict the development of plastic and other artificial materials? Throughout the Old Testament, it is quite evident that god wanted us to sacrifice a lot of livestock. With all that killing of animals, I would expect there to have been an abundance of leather available for shoes and other items of apparel. So, I don’t quite get why he would want to ban the wearing of leather shoes specifically.

Beyonce in Leather Boots

Beyonce in Leather Boots

Maybe he really wanted to ban the wearing of sexy leather clothes to protect us from our sado-masochistic impulses. Of course, he couldn’t come right out and say we can’t dress in leather boots, tight leather pants, leather face masks and leather whips, since some people would have run right out and invented them that afternoon and committed all kinds of perverted sexual sins by that evening. No, he had to be more subtle and hope we stopped making leather apparel in general, thus avoiding the temptation entirely.

Some people really do want to follow all the rules, even the ones that are not commonly known, so they have already looked into other types of footwear that might be permissible. Crocs would seem to be a perfectly good alternative since they are completely made of artificial material.

Crocs on Yom Kippur?

Crocs on Yom Kippur?

However, according to Lithuanian religious leader Rabbi Elyashiv, crocs should be avoided since they are too comfortable and do not provide the level of suffering one should feel on the holiday. Yup, he wants you to suffer more. Sure, god could have just said “no comfortable shoes,” but that leaves it up to the discretion of the wearer as to whether or not they are really comfortable. It also makes his intent more apparent, which, at least according to some religious scholars, is the desire to make us suffer, if only for a day.

On the other hand, maybe god wasn’t bothered so much by the leather as he was by red meat in general. Maybe god really just wanted to ban the eating of red meat to protect our hearts. He had already banned shellfish and a bunch of other “non-kosher” stuff, presumably to protect us from sickness, but probably didn’t want to keep raining down manna until we found some other decent food supply. Maybe he figured that we would be so busy sacrificing animals that there would only be barely enough left for one serving of red meat per person per week. I believe this limit was supposed to have been inscribed on the first Egyptian food pyramid. He probably didn’t think we were smart enough to figure out that it didn’t make much sense to burn all of our livestock and live in poverty and on the verge of starvation. He certainly couldn’t have realized that McDonalds would eventually give up counting how many billions of customers would be served artery-clogging beef by-products.

Animal Sacrifice

Animal Sacrifice

But maybe he really is smarter than I give him credit for. It could also be that he was actually thinking ahead to a time when people would actually be able to make decent shoes without leather and wanted to give the animal rights activists another good reason for banning the misuse of animals. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the one who made all those rules commanding us to sacrifice perfectly good livestock is actually a huge proponent of animal rights? I guess if we look at it from a wider perspective, we will realize that there really weren’t that many people back when the Laws of Moses were first made, so the impact on the livestock population probably wouldn’t have been as bad as it would be today. If a thousand Hebrews burned a thousand animals per year back then, can you imagine how many we would have to sacrifice today to meet the weekly quota? I don’t think there would be a burger left for McDonalds to sell and Italian leather goods would be unaffordable. So, god must have predicted we would eventually figure out that we had to stop sacrificing animals to avoid their extinction. Unfortunately, we haven’t been smart enough to figure out that too much red meat might kill you, and who wants to waste all that leftover leather?

To take the place of animal sacrifices, god had to find a way to ban leather without saying why he didn’t want us to have leather. If he told us it was to keep cows from going extinct, we would have shrugged our shoulders and moved on to lamb, and buffalo, and alligator, and kangaroo, and whatever else makes a good hide. God must be an animal rights activist who was way before his time. He knew that a little bit of animal sacrifice back then would have given the people something fun to do to spice up the boring prayer sessions, but would, in the long run, have to be phased out.

Land of Milk and Honey

Land of Milk and Honey

Why didn’t god just tell Moses the secret for how to make other kinds of shoes? That could have saved a lot of cows in the past few thousand years. Cotton would have been a good choice, but it was probably fairly hard to grow in the desert and he apparently had no interest in making the Middle East a friendlier place to live. After all, if it were too nice, full of rivers, waterfalls, flowers, rolling plains and forests, for example, people would have been more inclined to fight over it. Who would want to fight over a desert? Hmmm, I’m still not sure why anyone would want to do that.

The secret of polyester would have been an awesome gift to give Moses. But it also probably would have prematurely made the Hebrews rich beyond their wildest imaginations. Unfortunately, there is nothing worse than wealth and success to discourage people from worshipping a god. People seem to be far more appreciative of the almighty when they are poor, uneducated, and continuously persecuted by other groups. So, apparently, god decided to make the Hebrews burn their most valuable assets (i.e. livestock) to keep them poor, humble, and extremely devoted. He also declined to provide any substitute for leather shoes until such time as the technology enabled the Chinese to make shoes so cheap that nobody else could possibly make any money from them.

In short, god banned leather shoes on Yom Kippur to save our hearts, save us from sexual perversion, and save the cows. As a bonus, it would also be a way to prevent wealthy Jews who buy hideously expensive Italian (i.e. Roman Catholic) leather shoes from showing them off on the high holy days. I’m glad I figured that out, because I can now explain the reason I will be going shoe less.

No bathing on Yom Kippur

No bathing on Yom Kippur

Two of the other activities prohibited on Yom Kippur are bathing/washing and anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions. Now I’m not sure how they celebrated the holiday back then, but I can imagine that it was really hot and stinky in the temple all day. By the time the day was over, I’m sure everyone wanted to enjoy breaking their fast in private, where they could actually smell the food, not the stinking bodies around them.

Today, it is a tradition for Jews to get together in temple to see people they haven’t seen all year, because they probably haven’t been to temple since last Yom Kippur. This isn’t a problem for Jews, since they only have to confess their sins once per year and get to start all over again. It is certainly much more convenient than the weekly confession system than the Catholics set up to boost attendance. After Yom Kippur services, someone usually hosts a party where their friends can share a big meal to break their fast. This holiday is a time when people want to be seen at their best, which means wearing their best clothes (minus the Italian leather shoes), getting their hair styled, fixing their makeup, putting on their most expensive jewelry, and, oh, not stinking. If they followed the rules to the letter, the human stench would make this whole holiday needlessly unpleasant.

No perfume on Yom Kippur

No perfume on Yom Kippur

So, the question is, why did god ban both bathing and perfume instead of just one or the other? It seems to me that he could have given people the option to either cover their stench with perfume or to wash, but not both. It would still have involved some sacrifice, but not enough to keep us from showing up in public at the most important holiday of the year.

For people who decide to follow both rules, one would hope they at least clean themselves before the big party after sundown. But people are usually so starving by then that they want to get right to the food. Men can just jump in the shower and be ready in a few minutes. But it’s a little too much to expect women to be ready without having most of the day to prepare. They need to shower, shave, blow dry their hair, get dressed, get undressed, change into something else, find out what their friends are wearing, change back, put on their makeup, and finally get out the door before their husbands and boyfriends leave without them. The night would be over by the time most of them were ready. So, it seems to me that these two rules must be a mistake.

It could have been an either/or choice that got lost in translation. Or maybe bathing was just one of those things that used to involve a lot of work and thus was not considered appropriate for a day of rest. Someone had to carry many buckets of water from a well, pour it into a basin and start a fire to get the water nice and warm. Watch Survivor and see how much fun it is trying getting a fire started without matches. Today, taking a bath or a shower is fun. Who is against having fun on a day of rest? Perfume, for that matter, was probably something that only Egyptian princesses could afford anyway, so banning it wasn’t exactly a sacrifice. So, you can consider the perfume ban a reasonable sacrifice, but going to a public function without bathing, no way! At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’m hungry.

No sex on Yom Kippur

No sex on Yom Kippur

OK, now for the final prohibition for Yom Kippur. Marital relations. That’s right, no sex Friday night and no Saturday morning quickies–just a long, boring night with no food, no sex, and nothing else that violates the rules for the Sabbath. It always comes back to sex, doesn’t it? God just can’t get over the fact that we really like to have sex. Like I said, who could be against fun, especially on a day or night of rest! It isn’t like sex is actually work. OK, maybe that isn’t entirely true. It probably used to be work back in biblical times if you were just one of many concubines or slaves and had to put out even when you were tired, especially if your master threw a party and decided to share you with his friends. So, for some, I agree, sex could have been more work than play. I guess god wanted to make it a holiday even for wives and slaves. Today, women are perfectly willing and able to say no to sex if they don’t want it, which is pretty likely if they are planning a big party or getting dressed and ready to go to temple for the first time all year.

To make sure it was a day of rest, god could have just said no concubines, slaves, prostitutes or orgies during Yom Kippur. But that would have implied he knew we were going to be breaking his other anti-sex rules every other day, which of course we do and always will. So, he couldn’t exactly say that and not look like a fool. Hence, the total ban on sex during the holiday. Is this reasonable? No sex for a day? Considering that we’re supposed to be confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, and praying all day, I guess I’d have to say yes, it is a small sacrifice to pay. After a day spent in temple checking out all the gussied up hot guys and girls and, hopefully, getting forgiven for what we did last year, followed by a night of binge drinking and gorging, the sex is bound to be that much better anyway. So, in a sense, god was doing us a favor by making us wait.

In summary, Yom Kippur is a day when you just have to suck it up for a day. No food, no bathing, no perfume, no Italian leather shoes, and no sex. Would you even want to have sex without bathing or perfume? For guys, probably yes. For women, not so much. In fact, there are plenty of other interpretations on what else needs to be banned, even if they were not specifically mentioned by god, including technology, toothbrushes, and makeup.  But whatever you do, please, please, please, take a long, leisurely hot shower before you show up to pig out at the sundown food fest. Eat plenty of bagels, Whitefish and Smoked Salmon. Then get your asses home and finish off the evening the way god intended–drunk, naked, and satisfied. But whatever you do, no burgers or leather apparel, please. Save the cows!

Hunger Games Yom Kippur

Hunger Games Yom Kippur

Survivor Jehovah

Survivor TV Show

Survivor TV Show

I’m a fan of the TV show Survivor. In some ways, I wonder if the game is more like an analogy for life on Earth than you might think. We all go through life just trying to survive and, if possible, to win. Everyone has a different definition of winning, but it often has to do with getting a lot of money so that we can buy a bunch of crap and do fun stuff without having to work anymore.

Survivor has plenty of people who try to win the million dollars by preserving their energy and doing the minimum amount of work, while others try to work hard all the time and win as many competitions as possible so they can claim that they deserve the reward. Some claim they deserve to win because they were physically or socially dominant, while others think it is just as worthy to lay low or subtly manipulate others. Some think it is a greater feat to win when everyone hates you than to win when everyone likes you. Some even have the nerve to ask god for help to win the game. Since it is a zero-sum game, they are asking to be favored over others. I find this kind of request funny, since it seems completely inappropriate to ask god to help you beat someone else when there is no clear moral difference between competitors. Athletes are constantly asking for god’s help to win a game, and then thank him when they win. Of course, you never see the losers blaming god for making them lose. Bad luck–usually. Bad refereeing–sometimes. Personal mistakes–maybe, if they aren’t too egotistical. But nobody ever blames god. But now that I think about it, asking god for help to win a game really might not be such a bad idea.

Let’s look at it from god’s point of view. We’ve now got seven plus billion people on the planet (not to mention alien civilizations we don’t know about yet) all asking for stuff. Dealing with this has got to be very time consuming and boring as hell. Considering that an all-knowing being already knows everything about you, including what is going to happen to you, it seems kind of silly to waste time choosing what wishes to grant. So, if you are god, you might welcome the chance to watch a game just for the fun of it and to choose, in front of millions of people, the winner who you think deserves to win a million dollars.

Survivor Winners

Survivor Winners

But if you are god, how do you decide? We’ve seen winners on Survivor who were likeable, unlikeable, hard workers, slackers, leaders, followers, strong competitors, and weak competitors. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern, so anyone who thinks they deserve to win has to wonder what makes one deserving? If you are god and you know everything, how can you make a game fun? If you already know who is going to win, what is the point? I ‘m going to assume that god would not want to know what will happen. He would want to keep it interesting by leaving the outcome unknown. The only way that I can think of for this to work is to employ chance in place of choice.

When I was a teenager, I used to have to play two-player board games by myself when I didn’t have anyone else around who wanted to play. But because I knew everything about what was happening and what I was likely to do, you would think the game would be boring or predictable. To avoid this, I tried to keep it interesting by role-playing and employing chance to ensure that I didn’t make predictable decisions. When I played one side, I would make myself pretend to have one set of values, strategies, tactics, and preferences. When I played the other side, I would employ a different set of rules. I would also use the chance of a die roll to help me decide what to do in some cases.

Does God Play Dice?

Does God Play Dice?

So, I ‘m thinking that maybe god has to employ similar strategies to make things more interesting for him. Maybe Einstein had it all wrong and Heisenberg was right–god might just play dice with the universe! It would ensure unpredictability in outcomes and would confuse anyone who was expecting him to make certain decisions based on fixed moral grounds. Sounds kind of like real life to me. Maybe god would go nuts if he always had to do the right thing–the predictable thing. Maybe all we can expect from god is chance or games because predictability is just no fun at all. Does he exist to serve people with totally predictable, pre-ordained decisions, or do people exist to worship him and deal with whatever he chooses to give them? In other words, why should god have to condemn himself to an eternal life of boredom so that everything will be predictable for the rest of us?

Maybe we just need to figure out how god is role-playing our life. For you, maybe god has decided to drop you in the dunk tank every once in a while. You just have to learn to enjoy the moments when you are warm and dry and shake off the cold, wet days. For that other lucky bastard, maybe god has decided to use weighted dice every time he goes to Vegas, picks stocks, or applies for a job. Everybody likes to see a lucky winner once in a while, so why shouldn’t god? Maybe good or bad luck is just the way it is for you, so you’d better get used to it. If you can’t catch a break, just think about the Ghostbusters, who were told they could only choose the form of the destructor.

Think Positive

Think Positive

For many, I think god plays us like a Miss America pageant. If you look good and answer the questions correctly, you may go far. I think he plays this role a lot. Maybe we actually choose our own game, good or bad, as they allege in the book The Secret. In that case, we will only achieve heaven on Earth when everybody starts to think in a positive way. Fat chance. Frankly, if god is playing dice with us, then he might as well not even exist. Hmmmm. I agree with Einstein. God doesn’t play dice with the universe. But that doesn’t mean that I actually believe in god. Einstein was an agnostic, which is as close as anyone who values the scientific method can get to atheism. He preferred the term agnostic to the term atheist because of the impossibility of disproving the existence of god. In his words, he had “an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”

What I mean to say is, life isn’t a game where only the deserving get to win. In life, as in the game of Survivor, the good guys don’t always win and the bad guys don’t always lose. We can’t all win a million dollars and get to do whatever we want. Somebody has to lose and get stuck doing work they don’t want to do. At least, that is, until we get fully functional intelligent robots to take care of us. If you have a hot stock tip on a robotics startup company, please let me know. I’m betting on the laziness of humanity to make robots the next big thing!

Is Heaven Really Hell?

The Ghost Whisperer

The Ghost Whisperer

According to James Van Praagh, author of many books on communication with the dead and the inspiration behind the Ghost Whisperer TV show, we carry our old beliefs and habits with us after we die. This allegedly applies both to earthbound spirits and those that have progressed into the light, which is to say they moved onto higher planes of existence. This is discouraging news for anyone who expects to receive some answers after death or at least free ourselves of the stupid habits, phobias, and quirks we have accumulated over a lifetime.

When I die, I expect to be brought into a briefing room of sorts where some experienced soul will explain everything about life, the universe, and everything. With all eternity to look forward to, there must be plenty of time and opportunity for learning, no? I especially want to know how quantum theory really works and if string theory is the bunch of crap I think it is. I can’t imagine a heaven where there is nothing to do other than to float around worshiping some all-knowing deity who doesn’t want to share the secrets of the universe with the rest of us.

Can we really stay just as ignorant after death even after we shed our earthly influences? One would think that we would at least suddenly remember what happened during many past lives and be able to benefit from many diverse experiences, resulting in a sudden “aha” moment of truth! If we are able to read thoughts, then we would instantly know what everyone else thinks about us and they would know all the embarrassing things we did in the past. Everything would have to change. How could we not know more or be smarter, wiser and more accepting of others?

Nuns with Guns

Nuns with Guns

I was really hoping to be present to watch as some ignorant jackasses die and finally realize what how stupid they have been all their lives. That would be an even better reward than 77 virgins. I could just sit there, sipping whatever a soul of pure energy needs for sustenance, watching the newly dead arrive, blushing and embarrassed at their own ignorance and asking for my forgiveness (as if I’m qualified to offer it). Doesn’t everybody long to hear someone they know acknowledge that you were right all along? Doesn’t everyone really want to say “I told you so?” Of course, I’d have to carry my pride and personal grudges with me after death for this to be the case. And if that were so, then there is a good chance that I’d have to put up with some other pompous ass I couldn’t stand who was likewise waiting for me to show up so he could display his superior intellect or maturity.

The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying

Somehow, it just doesn’t sound likely and this isn’t how near death experiences are described. All we hear about is that people we loved come to meet us and lovingly help us move into the light. If these people were still the same imperfect creatures they were when they were alive, then dying would be a pretty embarrassing and uncomfortable situation for the newly dead. Since it isn’t described in that way, then we can’t possibly stay the same. Either we all suddenly learn from our mistakes and use that to transform into loving, sympathetic, empathetic creatures, or we continue to be the same ignorant fools we’ve always been. If we are still fools, we somehow must be kept isolated from all the other ignorant fools. If we were not kept isolated, these others would probably make our life after death pretty much the same as life before death.

If we remain basically the same, then what is the point of reincarnation in the first place? I thought the idea was to progress through diverse experiences. According to Mr. Van Praagh, nobody is there to judge you except yourself. In some cases, he describes the process by which souls review their life in order to learn lessons and prepare for the next life. Others may be there to help and encourage you, but it is essentially up to you to figure things out. This sounds a lot like life as we know it now. I think we call it therapy, or sometimes an intervention.

Can we read each other’s thoughts after death? If so, how could there be any form of games or competition if everyone had total access to the thoughts of others? Is paradise devoid of games and fun? Is it devoid of sarcasm and the kind of humor that often comes from poking fun at others, which is usually the best kind? Are extraterrestrials telepathic? If so, we could ask them what they do for fun other than experimenting on humans and cows. Maybe they are already dead, which is why it is so hard to catch one of them.

Mansion in Heaven

Mansion in Heaven

Does everyone who goes to heaven get a mansion, as suggested in Ricky Gervais’ movie The Invention of Lying? It sounds reasonable if we have to exist somewhere for all eternity. Of course, it wouldn’t be a real mansion. It would probably be a virtual one that we imagine and create ourselves. If I were a being of energy who could build a virtual mansion or an entire world using only mind and energy, without having to worry about the law of gravity or limitations of space-time, my home would probably be pretty outrageous and constantly changing. I might live in a spherical, gravity-free house with no ceilings or doors and would teleport from room to room. The sun would permeate it from the inside or through windows all around. My garden would have snow fountains and chocolate covered strawberry trees.

Of course, if my home was so unusual that it scared everyone else away, I might have to moderate my designs to accommodate the tastes of others. But compromise and trendiness are traits we already exhibit too much of in our daily lives. Do we have to conform with everyone else even after we are dead?

In a virtual world, people should be able to visit each other’s virtual homes and, when they see something they like, be able to copy it. So, we would all end up becoming collectors of the ideas and designs of others. Would this become a form of competition? If so, would there be some kind of intellectual property rights that would guarantee us at least some form of credit for our creations? Would we care? If we don’t care what others think, what would drive us to create in the first place instead of just keeping it tucked inside our own thoughts, assuming that privacy is even possible? Do we all have to share everything after we die, including our thoughts? Would it drive us crazy? Would it turn us all into an interconnected selfless mass of souls connected for all eternity like the Borg Collective from Star Trek? Maybe we should try this all out in a virtual computer game before we die, so we can set our expectations and avoid excessive shock.

Star Trek Virtual Reality Holodeck

Star Trek Virtual Reality Holodeck

On the other hand, if everything is mind and energy, wouldn’t we be able to create our own visions on top of everyone else’s? For instance, if my wife were to decorate our virtual home with her favorite art and nick knacks, couldn’t I simply visualize a totally different form of art on the walls and a room stocked with my favorite things? When I walk into a room, I would want my wife’s decorative pillows to vanish from the couch or the bed or the chair or wherever else she decided to stick her ubiquitous, color-coordinated piles of fringy fluff. Since objects would be nothing more than creations of mind or energy rather than matter, nothing would be permanent and could be perceived differently by everyone. I think this kind of virtual reality is what Google Glass and Facebook’s Oculus Rift will eventually be able to do here on Earth, so maybe we’ll figure out how well this works soon enough.

For that matter, she might visualize herself differently from the way I visualize her. And the words I speak or think could be translated differently so that she hears what she wants to hear instead of the inappropriate babble that is likely to come out of my mouth or brain. She might perceive herself in her favorite stylish J. Crew clothes while I mentally picture her in her sexiest underwear or swimsuit. Of course, she would know it once she read my mind, but would she care? Would I even care without hormones and a body that is able to get sexually excited? Would we all want to dress in drab blue Mao clothes or Men-in-Black suits just to avoid bringing up any memories of the hot sex we are no longer able to enjoy? Or would sex become something that is based purely on mental stimulation? Wouldn’t it be ironic if we could now read the minds of our lovers and know exactly what they want, how they want it, where they want it, when they want it, and be able to materialize in any physical form desirable with any kinds of toys imaginable, yet be unable to act upon our desires!

The more I think about it, heaven or life after death sounds less like paradise and more like the candy store from hell–it looks good, but you can’t touch the merchandise or do anything fun! I think I would prefer Earth with virtual reality technology. After I die, I think I will have to make a special request: send me back to Earth again, pleeease!

And God Created BDSM

Tinkerbell

Tinkerbell

There is a not-so-secret underground of sexual adventure and experimentation in the world, and probably always has been. It is called BDSM, a compound acronym standing for Bondage and Discipline (B&D), Dominance and Submission (D&S), and Sadism and Masochism (S&M). But with the advent of the Internet, it has become far easier for people with specific interests and fetishes to find each other, to learn about other common kinks, and discover that they are not the only freak in the world.

This is happening right under the noses of mainstream society, at least in democratic countries that tolerate it. But the size of this socially and sexually liberated “minority” seems to be quite large, with online communities, clubs, parties and events in towns and cities all around the world. Those who disapprove call it perverted, but participants merely call it “the lifestyle” as it is simply an alternate way of living outside the mainstream concept of morality.

obey-godIronically, I think there is a link between BDSM and religion. In fact, religion may be the first institutionalized form of BDSM. Think of it this way. God is the ultimate Dominant, Master or Mistress, while his followers are the ultimate submissives or slaves. God has laid down rules and his submissives are expected to follow them or accept punishment. Religious leaders embody the role of the Master on behalf of god and set up communities of submissives or slaves.

However, god can hardly expect his submissives to follow all his ambiguous rules. Could it be that he wants us to fail so that he can give us the punishment we sinners crave and deserve? Why else would he fill the world with so many temptations and our bodies with hormones that cloud our judgment? Could he possibly expect us not to break the rules once in a while or even all the time? Why give some people such a high sex drive that they can’t help themselves, even when it comes to children? Why give some people such a strong homosexual tendency while calling it immoral? Why are so many people attracted to so many different weird fetishes, including bondage, whips and various forms of torture and denial? Why is it so hard for priests and nuns to honor their vows of celibacy?

My hypothesis. The answer is that god wants to push us up to and beyond our limits. But it isn’t a game to see how much temptation we can resist. He isn’t testing us just to make sure we are worthy of entry into heaven. It is a game to see how much we are willing to submit and how much punishment he can get us to take. It is a game in which we have to live in servitude and suffer his punishments in order to please our Master. In effect, religion is the ultimate Dominant/submissive power exchange game. Don’t get me wrong–this does not mean that there is no place for god’s love.

Hell

Hell

To a submissive, heaven is a place where they are completely dominated and cared for, not a place of independence, leisure and comfort. A good submissive often wants to be loved, but not as an equal. Others want to feel that they are unworthy of love. The submissive mostly just wants to be controlled and to do anything to please his or her Mistress or Master. God probably doesn’t even care whether we want to be loved or unloved or whether we enjoy the pain and denial or just do it because we think that is what we deserve. He will give us whichever role we seek.

God probably isn’t all that interested in those people who say screw it and break all the rules without much hesitation. They are no fun for him. However, they still do serve a purpose by providing ever more temptations to torment his submissives. So, if you are a bad little boy or girl, don’t sweat it too much.

When god supposedly created us in his image, was he referring only to his Dominant side? Or does god actually have a submissive side as well? Could he be a switch, which is what the BDSM community refers to someone who switches between a Dominant and a submissive role? That brings Jesus to mind.

Life of Brian

Life of Brian

How much more submissive can one be than to suffer all that other men can inflict on him while turning the other cheek? Jesus is almost the embodiment of a submissive, except that he never appeared to enjoy his mistreatment. Of course, who knows what really happened? Maybe that is why I like the closing scene of Monty Python’s Life of Brian so much. For those of you who aren’t fans (and I’m not sure why I should even bother to explain), this is when all the crucified prisoners started to sing and whistle “always look on the bright side of life.”

The characterization of religion as a form of BDSM provides a different perspective on the ceremony where Catholics eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus. Replace it with other body parts and fluids and you’ve got a real BDSM scene! If Jesus is the son of god, or god himself (I’m still confused about that part) then it seems he is playing the game of a switch. Obey me. No, let me serve you. Take my punishment. No, hurt me. Can it be any clearer? Don’t even get me started on the Spanish Inquisition.

Spanish Inquisition

Spanish Inquisition

Dominant/submissive or Master/slave relationships are abbreviated as D/s and M/s. Maybe we should refer to the trinity as G/j/? (God/jesus/holy spirit?). I added the question mark because I’m still not clear on the whole holy spirit thing.

There has got to be a reason why god tolerates satan and his demons instead of wiping them out. It just makes the game so much more interesting. God can play the submissive, or good cop bad cop, or so many other roles. I don’t think there is a heaven and a hell. I think there is just a Heaven and Hell Club, and it’s rockin the universe!

Oh, yeah, if I wasn’t already, I’m surely gonna burn in Hell for writing this post!