Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Thor attacks Jesus in Rio, damages a thumb

Posted by Anonymous on January 18, 2014

A vicious lightning strike from the heavens hurt Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue during an electrical storm on Thursday night.

The 125-foot-tall figure that presides over the Brazilian city had its right thumb damaged when a lightning bolt struck its outstretched hand.

Father Omar, of The Archdiocese of Rio, who manages the shrine that holds the statue, said that the icon, which sits atop the 2000-foot Corcovado mountain, is frequently hit by lightning during storms.

The middle finger of the right hand was also chipped by lightning last month.


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Group unveils Satan statue design for Oklahoma

Posted by Anonymous on January 14, 2014

49A satanic group unveiled designs Monday for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan it wants to put at the Oklahoma state Capitol, where a Ten Commandments monument was placed in 2012.

The New York-based Satanic Temple formally submitted its application to a panel that oversees the Capitol grounds, including an artist’s rendering that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard that’s often used as a symbol of the occult. In the rendering, Satan is sitting in a pentagram-adorned throne with smiling children next to him.

“The monument has been designed to reflect the views of Satanists in Oklahoma City and beyond,” temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in a statement. “The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”

The Satanic Temple maintains that the Oklahoma Legislature’s decision to authorize a privately funded Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol opened the door for its statue. The Ten Commandments monument was placed on the north steps of the building in 2012, and the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to have it removed.

Similar requests for monuments have been made by a Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

In response, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission recently placed a moratorium on considering any new requests.

“Anybody can still make their request, but we’ll hold off on considering them until the lawsuit is adjudicated,” commission Chairman Trait Thompson said.

The push by the Satanic Temple has rankled elected leaders in this conservative state known as the buckle of the Bible Belt, who say such a proposal would never be approved by the commission.

“I think you’ve got to remember where you are. This is Oklahoma, the middle of the heartland,” said Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon. “I think we need to be tolerant of people who think different than us, but this is Oklahoma, and that’s not going to fly here.”

While Greaves acknowledges the Satanic Temple’s effort is in part to highlight what it says is hypocrisy of state leaders in Oklahoma, he says the group is serious about having a monument placed there.

The group already has raised nearly half of the $20,000 it says it needs to build the monument.

“We plan on moving forward one way or another,” Greaves said.

via Group unveils Satan statue design for Oklahoma – Yahoo News.

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Former Pastor Decides To Spend A Year Without God

Posted by Anonymous on January 13, 2014

Minister Ryan Bell has decided to "try on" atheism for a year. The former Seventh-day Adventist pastor was asked to leave his congregation in March.Former Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Ryan Bell made an unusual New Year’s resolution: .

He used to lead a congregation in Southern California, but in March, he was asked to step down after voicing some of the doubts that led to this decision to “try on” atheism.

Just a few days into the new year, after announcing his resolution, Bell was asked to leave the teaching positions he held at the Christian Azusa Pacific University and Fuller Theological Seminary.

Bell spoke with NPR’s Arun Rath about his flirtation with atheism and how he arrived at the decision to put his work as a religious leader — and follower — on hold.

My entire adult life, I’ve been a leader in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And I think the expectation of church leaders is that they would have fewer questions and more answers, and that the members or seekers or people that come to the church are the ones with the questions. And I can’t remember a time that I wasn\’t wrestling with my faith. I think faith is one of those things that people wrestle with.

When things start to come unwound, sometimes they unwind all the way. And then, you know, perhaps you can wind it up a little bit again later — who knows? But I feel like I lost my church leadership position and then I really didn’t have any compulsion to go to church internally, like I just didn’t feel like participating in church. I tried a number of times.

And it woke me up to the kinds of things people had been saying to me all these years, like, “I love what you’re doing at the church, but church just isn’t for me.” …

So I just decided not to fight it. I just decided to say, “Well, let me just give church a rest.” And as I did that, I just began to wonder about the very existence of God.

Some people have been encouraging, some people have just been silently watching. Some are a little heartbroken. It’s almost like people respond as though I’ve lost a loved one and I’m going through a deep grieving process and doing strange things as a result. Some people have just tried to talk me off the ledge.

Others have said, “I have these same questions. I’m really glad that you’re doing this, and I’ll be following along. Maybe I’ll figure some things out along the way, too.”

I’m not saying to my former members, “Follow me out the door.” Nothing like that. I don’t want them to do that. I want them to be on their own journey authentically.

Some people are, in a way, gloating. They’re like, “Congratulations on coming to the other side” … But other people are skeptical. There are a lot of atheists who are really not sure what I’m doing. So they say, “You are either an atheist or you’re not. You can’t be ‘a little atheist,’ like you’re ‘a little bit pregnant.’ “

In a way, what I hear them saying is, “You’re not authentically atheist” … And my internal reaction to some of that is to say, oh, I was a Christian leader for a long time. I heard that argument on the other side, as well: “You’re not properly Christian. You’re not a Christian in our way of being a Christian, so you don’t really fit here.” And my response to that is, I’m used to not fitting places. So that’s fine with me.

via Former Pastor Decides To Spend A Year Without God : NPR.

I’ve never met a religious person without doubts. Sometimes the ones with the most doubts are the most virulent about expressing  their faith. It is as if they are at war internally.  I enjoy people, gatherings, stories and singing, so I do find myself in a church from time to time. If there is any solid reason to believe in an all powerful creator who watches over us and offers us eternal life in exchange for obedience, however, I haven’t yet experienced it. These days religion seems more of a political tool than a relevant moral education.

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Are there any known virgin births? Sort of, but not really

Posted by Anonymous on January 5, 2014

Are there any case reports of virgin births in the medical literature? Sort of. According to a 1995 report in the journal Nature Genetics, a mother brought her infant boy to the doctor after noticing that his head was developing abnormally. When doctors analyzed his blood, they found something truly bizarre: Despite his anatomically male features, the boy’s blood cells were entirely female, consisting only of genetic material from his mother. Some of his other cells—such as those found in his urine—were normal, consisting of a combination of both maternal and paternal DNA. No one knows exactly how this occurred, but the best guess is that immediately after being fertilized, one of his mother’s eggs fused with a neighboring unfertilized egg that was dividing parthogenetically. This gave rise to a boy who was considered half-parthenogenetic, since approximately half of his cells were derived from a “faux” conception, containing no remnants of his father’s DNA.


This was not really a virgin birth but a child was shown to exist with blood cells which have no genetic contribution from the father. That is normally not possible since each blood cell has DNA from both patents.

See: Nature Genetics 11, 164 – 169 (1995) “A human parthenogenetic chimaera”


Posted in Biology, Religion | 2 Comments »

World’s oldest Buddhist shrine discovered in Nepal

Posted by Anonymous on November 28, 2013

Buddhist monks at the Mayadevi temple in Lumbini, NepalArchaeologists in Nepal say they have discovered traces of a wooden structure dating from the sixth century BC which they believe is the world’s oldest Buddhist shrine.

Kosh Prasad Acharya, who worked with archaeologists from Durham University, said on Tuesday that the structure had been unearthed inside the sacred Mayadevi temple in Lumbini.

The Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, is generally thought to have been born in about the sixth century BC at the temple site.

The findings were published in the December issue of the journal Antiquity.

Acharya said the traces had been date tested using radiocarbon and luminescence techniques. The archaeological team dug underneath previously known brick structures in the temple, and experts from the University of Stirling examined and collected the samples, he said. The team has been working at the site for the past three years.

Previously, a pillar installed by the Indian emperor Ashok with inscriptions dating to the third century BC was considered to be the oldest Buddhist structure, Acharya said. “This finding further strengthens the chronology of Buddha’s life and was is major news for the millions of Buddhists around the world,” Acharya said.

“Very little is known about the life of the Buddha, except through textual sources and oral tradition,” a Durham University archaeologist, Robin Coningham, said. “Now, for the first time, we have an archaeological sequence at Lumbini that shows a building there as early as the sixth century BC.”

Each year, tens of thousands of Buddhists visit Lumbini, 175 miles south-west of Kathmandu. Followers believe Siddhartha, a prince, left his family and kingdom and meditated in the jungles of Nepal and India before achieving enlightenment. …

via World’s oldest Buddhist shrine discovered in Nepal | World news | theguardian.com.

Posted in Archaeology, Religion | 1 Comment »

Tennessee judge orders baby’s name changed from ‘Messiah': report

Posted by Anonymous on August 12, 2013

A Tennessee judge has ordered a baby’s first name changed from “Messiah” to Martin, saying that the only true messiah is Jesus Christ, a ruling the boy’s mother promises to appeal, a Tennessee television station has reported.

Vía Reuters: Oddly Enough http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/oddlyEnoughNews/~3/8deaYJCrLU8/story01.htm

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Right-Wing Christian Group Claims Scientists are Peddling Dinosaur Hoax

Posted by Anonymous on August 7, 2013

This is why you just have to love so much of what passes for right-wing thinking in 2013. Call it the Fred Flintstone Effect. Yesterday, Ken Ham, President of “Answers in Genesis,” a staunchly conservative Christian group, released a brief radio spot claiming that dinosaurs are being used to “indoctrinate children.”

As Mr. Ham sees it, this is part of a plan hatched by paleontologists to trick innocent youth into believing the theory of evolution.

Well, you may be able to fool some people all of the time, and other people some of the time; but you can’t fool Ken Ham. God, Ham insists, created all living creatures on the same day, “about 6,000 years ago.”

Fortunately, when it comes to all of America’s impressionable children, Ham is not alone in his position. Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) is also on the job. Until recently, in one of their most popular biology texts they noted:

“Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the “Loch Ness Monster” in Scotland? “Nessie” for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”

See how simple science is kids! If Nessie is real – and dinosaurs aren’t extinct – then, evolution is a myth. God, it all makes such perfect, right-wing sense…


Is it the paleontologists now? I thought Satan planted all of those bones to fool people. ;-)

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Long backlog for godless wedding services in Ireland

Posted by Anonymous on July 23, 2013

(Reuters) – Traditionally Catholic Ireland has allowed an atheist group to perform weddings this year for the first time, and the few people certified to celebrate them are overwhelmed by hundreds of couples seeking their services.

Vía Reuters: Oddly Enough http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/oddlyEnoughNews/~3/dGrBXA_ekpM/story01.htm

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Creationism Camouflage: Ohio School Board Mulls Policy To Counter “Controversial” Evolution

Posted by Anonymous on May 29, 2013

The Springboro Board of Education is asking for trouble.

Board members are considering a policy that would require faculty to teach creationism in science class.

According to the Dayton Daily News, the proposed policy would require teachers to offer all sides of “controversial issues” such as evolution. Evolution is lumped in with other “controversial” issues such as sex education, legalization of drugs, pro-life/abortion, contraception/abstinence, conservatism/liberalism, politics, gun rights, global warming and climate change, and sustainable development.

WDTN Channel 2 News reports that Board Vice President Jim Rigano is trying to downplay the impact of the policy.

“It’s about controversial issues and creation/evolution being one of those,” he said, “and the policy is being brought forward for a couple reasons. One is we don’t want to be indoctrinating students to any particular point of view. We want to make sure that all sides are being taught in a fair and balanced way and, then, also, we want to encourage critical thinking.”

We’re all in favor of “critical thinking,” of course. And my critical thinking leads me to believe that board members are on a religious crusade.

Evolution is not a “controversial issue,” at least not within the scientific community. Scientists regard evolution as the central organizing principle of modern biology.

The National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and other allied organizations have repeatedly insisted that science education must focus on science, not religion. Evolution is only controversial with fundamentalist Christians who want to teach their theology in public schools.

Many parents in Springboro are on to the obvious religious agenda the board is considering.

According to WDTN, David Bowman said, “I think this school board likes to play politics and likes to play games. This is merely a means for them to introduce their specific ideology. I don’t think they’re at all interested in teaching our kids critical thinking.”

The Ohio ACLU is on the case as well.

“In 2011, the Springboro school board backed away from plans to teach creationism under public pressure,” said ACLU of Ohio Staff Attorney Drew Dennis. “At the time, they claimed they were no longer pursuing the issue and called it a “distraction” from more important work. Less than two years later the district has proposed a series of policies designed to integrate creationism into the school curriculum.

“These plans are just as unconstitutional today as they were in 2011,” added Dennis. “And they remain an unnecessary distraction from the more important work of giving children the education they need to succeed in the real world.”

In these days of limited resources, it would be a huge waste of public funds to defend a school policy that is manifestly unconstitutional. The Springboro school board will be failing its duties to the Constitution and the children of the community if it proceeds with this reckless scheme.

Media accounts say board members are likely to vote on the policy at its next meeting June 4. Here’s hoping they do the right thing….


In my view the best evidence points to consciousness as a brain function:

  1. We can turn off consciousness and put people reliably into reversible drug-induced comas. The drugs make brain cells fire at the same time or otherwise disrupt different areas from communicating (so they aren’t listening to each other) and that makes people go unconscious … every time [link].
  2. Brain stimulation of the right angular gyrus can make someone experience leaving their body [link].
  3. Aspects of consciousness such as sensory perception, emotions, memory, language, complex motor skills and personality are all seen to be changed or removed when different areas of the brain are damaged.

Odds are high that you will not get a new perfect spirit body when you die. You will probably not go for long walks on the beach laughing with Jesus. You may actually experience an afterlife, however, as your brain cells are slowly winking out. Hopefully that last dream will be at least as enjoyable as this waking dream. While we are here together, have fun and keep it real. … And by “real” I mean factually verified as opposed to wishful thinking. You’ll live longer and help even more people with that philosophy, I believe.

But how do non-religious people deal with the fear of death? The same ways as religious folk, mostly. We think about it when it comes up and sometimes we feel uncomfortable, anxious or sad about it, but we try to make the best of our time here. If we keep busy, really large spans of time can go by where we don’t think about it at all. We do have hopes of continued conscious existence, but our hopes are somewhat more factually based (life extension, cryogenics, stem cells, tissue rejuvenation, transfer of consciousness to a quantum computer, etc.)

The time before birth was nothingness and I expect the same after death. Nothingness is not unpleasant. It’s just nothing. Imagine there’s no heaven. Whatever death is, we will most likely all ride that ride. Meanwhile, however, we should all be doing what we can to end biological death, which I believe to be a curable disease! Religion just distracts us from doing that. Donate some of that money to SENS instead of building temples to worship someone who might not have even actually existed in the flesh.

Very interesting and informative, but the ignorance about the evidence in the Roswell crash weakens his credibility at the end. There was a recovered disk reported around the world at the time of the crash not 30 years later as he claims. Embarrassing blunder for a scholar, but that’s what happens when you are biased to discount all conspiracy possibilities.

Roswell Daily Record, July 8, 1947, announcing the “capture” of a “flying saucer.”

Yes Major Marcel was interviewed by Stanton Friedman in 1978, but the “saucer” was first reported in a newspaper in 1947, 30 years earlier.

In 1978, physicist and ufologist Stanton T. Friedman interviewed Major Jesse Marcel who was involved with the original recovery of the debris in 1947. Marcel expressed his belief that the military covered up the recovery of an alien spacecraft.

It may not have been an alien spacecraft, but it wasn’t just sticks and foil.

Posted in - Video, Biology, Education, Religion | 1 Comment »

Quantum gravity takes singularity out of black holes

Posted by Anonymous on May 29, 2013

Falling into a black hole may not be as final as it seems. Apply a quantum theory of gravity to these bizarre objects and the all-crushing singularity at their core disappears.

In its place is something that looks a lot like an entry point to another universe. Most immediately, that could help resolve the nagging information loss paradox that dogs black holes.

Though no human is likely to fall into a black hole anytime soon, imagining what would happen if they did is a great way to probe some of the biggest mysteries in the universe. Most recently this has led to something known as the black hole firewall paradox – but black holes have long been a source of cosmic puzzles.

According to Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, if a black hole swallows you, your chances of survival are nil. You’ll first be torn apart by the black hole’s tidal forces, a process whimsically named spaghettification.

Eventually, you’ll reach the singularity, where the gravitational field is infinitely strong. At that point, you’ll be crushed to an infinite density. Unfortunately, general relativity provides no basis for working out what happens next. “When you reach the singularity in general relativity, physics just stops, the equations break down,” says Abhay Ashtekar of Pennsylvania State University.

The same problem crops up when trying to explain the big bang, which is thought to have started with a singularity. So in 2006, Ashtekar and colleagues applied loop quantum gravity to the birth of the universe. LQG combines general relativity with quantum mechanics and defines space-time as a web of indivisible chunks of about 10 -35 metres in size. The team found that as they rewound time in an LQG universe, they reached the big bang, but no singularity – instead they crossed a “quantum bridge” into another older universe. This is the basis for the “big bounce” theory of our universe’s origins. …

Jorge Pullin at Louisiana State University and Rodolfo Gambini at the University of the Republic in Montevideo, Uruguay, have applied LQG on a much smaller scale – to an individual black hole – in the hope of removing that singularity too. To simplify things, the pair applied the equations of LQG to a model of a spherically symmetrical, non-rotating “Schwarzschild” black hole.

In this new model, the gravitational field still increases as you near the black hole’s core. But unlike previous models, this doesn’t end in a singularity. Instead gravity eventually reduces, as if you’ve come out the other end of the black hole and landed either in another region of our universe, or another universe altogether. Despite only holding for a simple model of a black hole, the researchers – and Ashtekar – believe the theory may banish singularities from real black holes too.

That would mean that black holes can serve as portals to other universes. While other theories, not to mention some works of science fiction, have suggested this, the trouble was that nothing could pass through the portal because of the singularity. The removal of the singularity is unlikely to be of immediate practical use, but it could help with at least one of the paradoxes surrounding black holes, the information loss problem.

A black hole soaks up information along with the matter it swallows, but black holes are also supposed to evaporate over time. That would cause the information to disappear forever, defying quantum theory. But if a black hole has no singularity, then the information needn’t be lost – it may just tunnel its way through to another universe. “Information doesn’t disappear, it leaks out,” says Pullin…..


If there are an infinite number of other universes, there would surely be one where “a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.”

Posted in Religion | Leave a Comment »


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