Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Bible story explained: Ezekiel saw clouds and the milky way (not God, aliens or UFOs)

Posted by Anonymous on December 14, 2011

Revised Dec 19, 2011:

I’ve been thinking about Ezekiel from the bible for the past few days.

Ezekiel, I believe it is best understood not as a UFO encounter, but as a man who finds himself under a night sky by a river after the sun has just set. Thunderclouds in the distance, back-lit by the sun, are to him deities, living creatures which he attempts to describe.

The word “spirit”, as I have previously shown, was another word for “wind” and “breath” and was used synonymously. The creatures Ezekiel describes are clouds which go where the wind blows. ( “whither the spirit is to go, they go). Through these clouds, he sees the beryl colored milky way, which is over the clouds.

The clouds are lit by the sun which has just set, creating fire and copper colors. The noise he hears is the river Chebar (the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory – link) .

The wheels he describes are those of a chariot, a chariot of the gods. “Chariots are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament,particularly by the prophets, as instruments of war or as symbols of power or glory.” – link

He imagines or just lies that he has a vision of God as part of his anger toward a rebellious tribe. The rebels will use the same “prophet ploy” to say that God is on their side with regard to some property or other dispute.

Then, as now, it is a lot more powerful to say that God told you to smite someone rather than just admitting your own fear of them makes you want to smite them.

File:Beryll.jpg

Beryl: A mineral of pegmatite deposits, often used as a gemstone. – wikipedia

“… And it cometh to pass, in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth of the month, and I am in the midst of the Removed by the river Chebar, the heavens have been opened, and I see visions of God.

And I look, and lo, a tempestuous wind is coming from the north, a great cloud, and fire catching itself, and brightness to it round about, and out of its midst as the colour of copper, out of the midst of the fire.

And out of its midst is a likeness of four living creatures, and this is their appearance; a likeness of man is to them, and four faces are to each, and four wings are to each of them, and their feet are straight feet, and the sole of their feet is as a sole of a calf’s foot, and they are sparkling as the colour of bright brass; and hands of man under their wings — on their four sides, and their faces and their wings — are to them four; joining one unto another are their wings, they turn not round in their going, each straight forward they go.

As to the likeness of their faces, the face of a man, and the face of a lion, toward the right are to them four, and the face of an ox on the left are to them four, and the face of an eagle are to them four.

And their faces and their wings are separate from above, to each are two joining together, and two are covering their bodies. And each straight forward they go, whither the spirit is to go, they go, they turn not round in their going. As to the likeness of the living creatures, their appearances are as coals of fire — burning as the appearance of lamps; it is going up and down between the living creatures, and brightness is to the fire, and out of the fire is going forth lightning. And the living creatures are running, and turning back, as the appearance of the flash. And I see the living creatures, and lo, one wheel is in the earth, near the living creatures, at its four faces.

The appearance of the wheels and their works is as the colour of beryl, and one likeness is to them four, and their appearances and their works are as it were the wheel in the midst of the wheel. On their four sides, in their going they go, they turn not round in their going. As to their rings, they are both high and fearful, and their rings are full of eyes round about them four. And in the going of the living creatures, the wheels go beside them, and in the living creatures being lifted up from off the earth, lifted up are the wheels.

Whither the spirit is to go, they go, thither the spirit is to go, and the wheels are lifted up over-against them, for a living spirit is in the wheels. In their going, they go; and in their standing, they stand; and in their being lifted up from off the earth, lifted up are the wheels over-against them; for a living spirit is in the wheels. And a likeness is over the heads of the living creatures of an expanse, as the colour of the fearful ice, stretched out over their heads from above. And under the expanse their wings are straight, one toward the other, to each are two covering on this side, and to each are two covering on that side — their bodies.

And I hear the noise of their wings, as the noise of many waters, as the noise of the Mighty One, in their going — the noise of tumult, as the noise of a camp, in their standing they let fall their wings. And there is a voice from above the expanse, that is above their head: in their standing they let fall their wings. And above the expanse that is over their head, as an appearance of a sapphire stone, is the likeness of a throne, and on the likeness of the throne a likeness, as the appearance of man upon it from above.

And I see as the colour of copper, as the appearance of fire within it round about, from the appearance of his loins and upward, and from the appearance of his loins and downward, I have seen as the appearance of fire, and brightness is to it round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in a cloud in a day of rain, so is the appearance of the brightness round about. It is the appearance of the likeness of the honour of Jehovah, and I see, and fall on my face, and I hear a voice speaking, and He saith unto me, ‘Son of man, stand on thy feet, and I speak with thee.’

And there doth come into me a spirit, when He hath spoken unto me, and it causeth me to stand on my feet, and I hear Him who is speaking unto me. And He saith unto Me, ‘Son of man, I am sending thee unto the sons of Israel, unto nations who are rebels, who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me, unto this self-same day. And the sons are brazen-faced and hard-hearted to whom I am sending thee, and thou hast said unto them: Thus said the Lord Jehovah: and they — whether they hear, or whether they forbear, for a rebellious house they are — have known that a prophet hath been in their midst. And thou, son of man, thou art not afraid of them, yea, of their words thou art not afraid, for briers and thorns are with thee, and near scorpions thou art dwelling, of their words thou art not afraid, and of their faces thou art not affrighted, for they are a rebellious house, And thou hast spoken My words unto them, whether they hear or whether they forbear, for they are rebellious.”

via Ezekiel Young’s Literal Translation..

So, there you have it. The more elaborate and fearsome his description of his vision, the more power Ezekiel will have in convincing others that he is the prophet.

Our ancestors made mystical events out of things nearly every child today commonly understands. Storms, for example, were powerful and fearsome living beings (see Cherub, Lamassu), not the result of water vapor, electricity and atmospheric pressures.

I suppose Gods, ancient aliens and wheel-like UFOs are more fun than clouds and stars.

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46 Responses to “Bible story explained: Ezekiel saw clouds and the milky way (not God, aliens or UFOs)”

  1. Michael said

    Xeno… Ezekiel is describing the merkavah ascension. Many kabbalists used this meditative technique to achieve prophecy, however Ezekiel is the only one to openly write about it. He also does not advocate stealing from or killing anyone. His words are an admonishment to those who have strayed from Torah. By the way, Ezekiel was also judged by the religious scholars of the time to be an authentic prophet. Recall that there have been many claimants in the past who were denounced.

    I realize much of your anti-religious hatred stems from negative experiences with Christianity and I cannot blame you for that. The majority of wars with religious overtones have been started on this planet by Christians and Muslims, but try to leave us Jews out of it. We did not ask for all you people to misappropriate our writings, misunderstand them, and misrepresent them.

    • Xeno said

      I’m not really a hater. Some of my best friends are religious and I’m not on a mission to change anyone … but I do get excited when my own sense of logic tells me that I may have discovered something, like a huge misunderstanding about some ancient writing. I could be wrong, and I’d enjoy hearing more of your evidence regarding the “merkavah ascension”. I’ve never heard of it. What elements of the text of Ezekiel point to this explanation? I have no favorites as far as religions. To be honest, I find them all a bit silly and superstitious, but interesting and inspiring as a very human best attempt to understand the unknown. Happy holidays! Love, Xeno

      • Alex said

        Xeno – no offense. With these things, either you are going to look into them in a real way or you aren’t – as I’ve said before. The books by real scholars are out there. And I can list them if you like regarding Ezekiel. Wild speculations of the “Ancient Aliens” variety, with regard to ancient texts, without consulting people trained to read them, is simply masturbation in blogger form.

  2. licky said

    as i see it, xeno’s writings are very far from the word ‘hatred’- where did you get that sense from? really, please find some quotes. i see him as being curious, creative and kind of a scientific pragmatic nut… but hatred? if thats what you see, i suggest considering the religiousness of your own as a lens that is creating more hatred within yourself.

    if you think one religion is greater than another, you have been snookered into the hegemony of religious ill will. no religion or spiritual practice that is authentic condemns another human being. the point of all religion is to learn to live LOVE and COMPASSION.

    • Michael said

      “The more elaborate and fearsome his description of his vision, the more power Ezekiel will have in convincing others that he is the prophet, and thus is justified to kill and steal from the other group of people he calls the rebels.”

      Where in the text does Ezekiel advocate murder and theft? The rebels are Jews themselves, specifically the 10 tribes led by Ephraim who were previously decimated by the Assyrians and disappeared from history. They rebelled against Torah and had been exiled from Eretz Israel, as had Judah, Levi and remnants of Simeon and Benjamin collectively exiled to Babylonia, the target of Ezekiel’s criticism. Hard to steal from rebels that no longer can be identified…

      I feel there is a distinct bias in Xeno’s statements. Also, the translation used is not entirely accurate to the Hebrew, but was back-translated in Christian bibles from Greek.

      Read here instead: http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1202.htm

      My only point was that associating theft and murder with a prophet who was instructing his own people (Jews only) to return to Torah and live a Godly life is insulting. It actually seems to be a form of inverse replacement theology. Logical fallacy. Since Christians used religion as justification to kill and steal, and since Christians claim as part of their divine writings the writings of another, foreign group with no relation to them whatsoever, Ezekiel, one of our revered prophets, was a bad guy. The same could be said for Muslims. I find it beyond insulting.

      My only point to you, Xeno, whose postings I have read for years, is that you should not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Were I to start a religion and begin using Mohandas K Gandhi’s writings as part of my liturgy, then convince my followers to murder and steal, would you retroactively denigrate the Mahatma? Food for thought.

      Peace and Happy Holidays.

      -Michael

      • Alex said

        Michael – no offense to you or your’s, but I am a Christian. Firstly, we can just agree that Xeno is an idiot when it comes to religion. We’ve had some long debates on the issue. I personally like Xeno and love this blog, but the man just has no brain when discussing religion. And he refuses to pick up a real book on the subject and educate himself, so we are occasionally subjected to what sound like the rantings of an intemperate child on the matter. If you want to witness me give Xeno a real smackdown, you can see here on another nonsensical religious post, see here:

        https://xenophilius.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/the-pagan-origin-of-the-biblical-rib-story/

        Now, beyond that, I can say that if you think you are accurately representing history here, then you have almost no understanding of Christian origins. Christianity’s founders, and the authors of the Christian scriptures, were Jews and were more legitimate in their claim to the Hebrew Bible as “their” scriptures theologically, culturally, and genealogically, than any modern Jew today. Further, the ethical problems in the Hebrew Bible are real – ranging from divinely sanctioned genocide, notions of corporate responsibility and generational guilt that we no longer subscribe to the modern world, the destruction of innocent women and children, etc. The Torah particularly is a book of tribal warfare. You can argue that it is a divinely inspired book of tribal warfare, and it very well may be, but no Jewish scholar has, to my mind even come close to making a rational case here. Christians accept the Hebrew Bible as an incomplete and imperfect revelation of God, that has been surpassed, and ironically, it is Christians that have done the best and most relevant work in Old Testament ethics. Jewish scholars don’t even attempt this. Amy Jill-Levine’s recent work is probably some of the best and its very weak.

      • Xeno said

        Yes, go read our past debates where Alex accidentally supports my points about the Flavian hypothesis in the process of his attempting to belittle me as intellectually bereft of religious historical dogma… I mean knowledge. ;-)

        I claim that “spirit” and “wind” and “breath” are used interchangeably in the early bible, Alex. From this, I conclude that the people of that time believed that the wind and the breath were magical forces. In this latest blog entry in the series, I apply that idea to Ezekiel.

        In my view many religions today are based on simple misunderstandings by primitive and ignorant (but intelligent) people about our world. I claim truth is simpler and stupider than you imagine.

        Sorry if that assertion disturbs you, but I’ve presented my evidence and no one has refuted it yet. I don’t hate anyone for their religious views. We are all human and we all do our best to make sense of mystery and ambiguity.

        Best holiday wishes, Alex.

      • Xeno said

        Michael, this was a useful comment, much appreciated. I will study what you’ve said and comment later when I have read the version you suggest. Thanks for your help to improve my understanding of Ezekiel. Best wishes, Xeno

      • Alex said

        Xeno wrote: “We are all human and we all do our best to make sense of mystery and ambiguity.”

        Alex: Ah Xeno, if this is your best, I’d hate to see you on an off day. I would no more attempt to refute your silly post than I would attempt to reason with a person who has dementia, and is also having a bad acid trip. It would be waste of time and (“magical”) breath. Quite frankly, there’s nothing there that’s sensible enough or supported by any evidence – *to* refute. Just a bunch of weak assertions.

      • Xeno said

        Alex, more insults, no substance. Why so rude? Feel the love. Tis the season after all, Mr. Grinch.

        My explanation that Ezekiel saw clouds and the Milky Way is a demented acid trip, while you believe instead that he saw actual creatures with four faces and four wings which look like coals of fire? If that is your claim, perhaps you should drop some acid. ;-) The experience may help you distinguish freaky trips from typical waking reality. I mean, FOUR FACES and FOUR WINGS?!? What the hell?!? THAT sounds like an acid trip. Ezekiel seems to be the one having a psychedelic experience. Actually, his bizarre vision makes sense in historical context.

        “Early Semitic tradition conceived the cherubim as guardians, being devoid of human feelings, and holding a duty both to represent the gods and to guard sanctuaries from intruders, in a comparable way to an account found on Tablet 9 of the inscriptions found at Nimrud. In this view, cherubim, like the shedu, were probably originally depictions of storm deities, especially the storm winds. This view is offered as a hypothesis to explain the reason for cherubim being described as acting as the chariot of the Lord in Ezekiel’s visions, the Books of Samuel, the parallel passages in the later Book of Chronicles, and passages in the early Psalms: “and he rode upon a cherub and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind”. – link

        Storm deities! You are here in the year 2011 insulting me … because a long time ago… people ignorant about water vapor, electricity and atmospheric pressure believed that clouds, thunder and lightning were caused by GODS (plural) … in the sky.

        Years, even lifetimes of scholarly learning and debate can form an elaborate self-supporting scaffolding around some very simple and incorrect child-like ancient beliefs about nature. Storm deities, Alex? Come on. Ezekiel saw clouds.

      • Alex said

        Xeno – here’s a clue to the symbolism in Ezekiel’s vision – there are four cardinal directions. In what ancient conceptualized cosmology do the cardinal directions correlate with these images Ezekiel conceptualizes as faces? I don’t mean to be rude Xeno; you just really don’t have the understanding to grasp ancient texts. You think you can read them like a newspaper and completely miss the symbolism; and in that regard you are just like a fundamentalist.

      • Xeno said

        If you don’t mean to be rude, then I recommend you re-examine your choices of words and your condescending attitude.

        You’ve still missed my point about the symbolism, it seems.

        The four directions were part of many ancient cosmologies. The Hindu god Brahma is traditionally depicted with four heads, four faces. Mayan mythology had four brother gods who held up the sky, each representing one of the four directions. Some Native Americans are very attentive to the Four Directions. … and on and on. The early bible text includes in some form the early Sumerian view that the earth was rectangular and had four corners.

        My point about ancient symbols is that they started as actual experiences and had simple practical reasons for existing and for being passed on.

        Personifying directions helped people remember and communicate about getting around. Storm gods made frightening experiences seem understandable.

        Today’s symbolic representations were originally real experiences: planets (angels), shooting stars, the wind, thunder storms, the cessation of breathing when one dies, and so on. It is from the loss of connection to these experiences and permutations of descriptions over time that the original simple meanings became lost and the stories, now imbued with imagination, took off as myths which became religions.

      • Alex said

        Xeno – the problem is that you need to hear that you are extremely ignorant when it comes to all matters religious. You need to actually pick up a book by a real scholar and read it. If there’s a kinder way to say that, let me know. Its not just the four directions. They are the cardinals in the zodiac as well. Look and see how they relate to the same faces in Revelation. Read a commentary on Revelation by an anthropologist who actually studies the culture under question like Bruce Malina or John Pilch. I understand how the ancients read the skies. You do not. And your simplistic notion of just looking at things and assigning meanings to them has nothing to do with it. They were actually in altered states of consciousness while reading the skies.

      • Xeno said

        Your “real scholars” are not universally accepted as credible because they work with implicit beliefs others do not share. I think you need to hear that.

        One critique of Pilch, for example, is similar to what I would say myself of your responses here: “actual anthropology is an empirical, not a deductive science, and Pilch seems to have missed that point altogether. ” – link.

        I need to keep reminding you that it is possible to be 100% logical and 100% wrong. If 1+1 = 3 then 1+2 can be 3.5. These two statements support each others “world view” but they are both false.

        As to knowing how the ancients read the night sky, that’s not much of a trick, since most of the ancients could not read.

  3. Alex said

    Xeno – this is a new intellectual low for you. You seem to get worse with time.

    • Xeno said

      Alex, insults like this with no substantive commentary only divide us. If you disagree, say why. Every day, and in every way, I’m getting better and better. ;-) Thanks.

    • Michael said

      Alex, I did not have a reply link for your posting above. Your reply was eloquently stated and I appreciate your attempts to cite sources in support of your argument. This is much better than vacuous, opinion-based statements. However, your assertions that no Jew today is in any way genetically related to those of antiquity has no basis in fact, gemological, genetic or otherwise. Easy example for you to follow up on: read about kohain modal haplotypes. While there has been a bit of marrying-in through gentile converts (which is why Jews today are so diverse in their appearances), Levi and Kohanim have very strict marriage rules and can only marry within their tribe. Violation of said rules is out of the question.

      Addressing your other point that, to paraphrase, only Christian scholars have been able to make heads or tails of an incomplete document is a patently false statement. The wealth of Jewish literature is immense and would be regarded as such even if the Talmud never existed. Some of this I realize, and I am in no way meaning to sound condescending, is outside of your experiences or access. Most people are unaware of the existence of many Jewish exegetical writings. It is true that early Christianity was considered a fringe sect of Judaism and that the authors or early Christian works were Jews.

      But to readdress my point with more clarity, Christianity has traditionally viewed itself as a replacement theology. I assume you know what that means, so I will not bother to define it. Christian theological outlook differs in many ways from Judaism, and differs markedly with respect to escatological themes. Torah is not a book of tribal warfare, but in reality is more of a collection of historical incidents and laws. It cannot be altered because there are many layers divinely encoded (P’shat, Remez, Derash, and Sod). This is why Moses also taught the Mishnah (oral law), since he could not go in and alter the text to add in explanatory passages. To say that Torah is an incomplete revelation is actually a rather dangerous statement for a Christian to make. It negates the foundational arguments which Christianity uses as justification for its very validity.

      On a side note, I find this discussion stimulating. Hopefully, it will build bridges, as long as everyone agrees to discuss things in a civil manner.

      • Michael said

        editing error: should read “no basis in fact, gemological, genetic or otherwise.” –apologies

      • Michael said

        continues to re-edit my statement. Let’s try this again: no basis in fact, genealogical, genetic or otherwise.”

      • Alex said

        Michael – you wrote: “However, your assertions that no Jew today is in any way genetically related to those of antiquity has no basis in fact, gemological, genetic or otherwise.”

        The problem is that I made no such assertion. If you’ll re-read what I wrote it is in regards to the first Christians having a better claim to the Hebrew Bible in every way, over modern Jews – and this is especially the case given the fact that many of them still observed Jewish customs, went to the Temple, etc. I understand the history of replacement theology and I don’t advocate it. As far as the Mishnah, I have read it and own Neusner’s translation. In my view, and that of most scholars, it is simply a mythology that the Mishnah can be traced to Moses. You need to read some critical Jewish scholarship on the Mishnah. I’d be open to seeing your arguments to the contrary.

  4. Ann said

    Every time Xeno puts up a religious topic on his blog, there is always, it seems, conflictual points of view and occasionally arguments ensue. It seems, it occurs more often with religion than any other topic. And, Xeno has had a very wide range of topics on his blog. Why is that? Why do people feel as though they must make an uncompromising stand, when it comes to religion?

    Whatever the answers are, it may explain why in a larger context religious topics from a historical perceptive not infrequently become issues in wars. Maybe it’s “religion,” as we know it today, that is evil, bring out the worst in people.

    • Michael said

      Ann, I understand your statements and agree. Religion always seems to dredge up conflict. Were the passages discussed part of Hindu literature, I would have no conflict. Others are entitled to their ideas and their culture. My sore point resides in the replacement theologies Christianity and Islam have pasted over Judaism. These religions have further attempted to negate Judaism and relegate us to being funny little people who still believe that old boloney and will not wake up, just give in already and become one of the majority. This is the source of the conflict. If someone took something personal from you and misused it, would that not bother you?

      Another question also for Alex: Since you are a Christian, do you believe that all the stated future events God relayed to the prophets will not come to pass? Did God plan it out, then humans did things even He could not predict, and now God has to completely change all his plans? God is not inept. He did not figuratively smack himself on the head and exclaim “Wow! Didn’t see that one coming. Now what will I do?” He sees his universe as a complete thing. Only we experience it linearly through time. It will unfold in the way He intends.

    • Alex said

      The history of atheistic communism (Stalin, Lenin, Mao, etc.) with more slaughtered in this century alone, than all the recorded religious wars (upwards of 200 million) shows that it is not religion per se, but mankind that is the problem. And arguing over matters is not warfare – it is simply what men do. Its the surest way to arrive at the truth – present your case and consider alternative views. Argument is at the foundation of philosophy, which is at the foundation of science and technology. Its a guy thing.

      • Ann said

        Alex, are absolutely certain (swear to God, hope to die …) that you are interpreting “history” (because this all we can do, i.e. “interpret” history) correctly? Consider, if you will, there are other interpretations, even by “scholars” – you know, those people who spend a lifetime studying specific things, events etc.

        What is the relationship between the huge number killed and technology in the 20th century, as oppose to the technology available, say, during the Crusades or that the Conquistadors had available? Whatever, … I think if only one person dies because of some stupidity, however it’s rationalized, it’s awful. (That includes those people who have killed others and are sentenced, through whatever legal channels, to die. It’s still awful. )

        I still think most religions are evil, if they condemn others … kind’a like politics, huh?

      • Alex said

        Ann – you’re using the same horrible rebuttal to the superior number of atheist atrocities that Michael Shermer does. I hope he’s not your scholar because he hasn’t spent a lifetime studying any of these issues.The problems with this line abound. Firstly, as Peter Parker’s uncle would say, “with great power, comes great responsibility”. The technology to kill in a more efficient manner is still wielded by an individual with a moral conscience, and whether its wielding a club, or pushing a button that detonates a bomb, to kill in excess of what is needed to defend one’s own country, is still a HORRENDOUS evil, the order of magnitude of which increases with the number of senseless deaths, regardless of any other factors. The other problems with this rebuttal are that it simply doesn’t apply to the atheistic atrocities mentioned. Stalin’s “river of blood” as its called, did not flow forth from any technological advancements. In fact, his purges of “national contingents” (foreign ethnicities), were executions that were extremely inefficient involving actual trials. His massive scale of deportations were also very inefficient and non-technological as a means of eliminating people, though they caused the horrendous deaths of nearly 50% of the exiles via malnutrition/starvation and disease. Any of these programs could’ve been carried out as efficiently with *stone age* technology. To claim some sort of technological efficiency or advanced killing technology for the deaths under atheistic communism, is to due a great injustice to the tortured souls of these men, women, and children who died slowly and painfully in an archaic, cruel and barbaric manner. Any of these families would have suffered infinitely less at the end of a sword.

        Also – we can both agree that these things are horrible and so horrible indeed that their horror is almost incalculable, even by listing the numbers and the methods used; the lives touched and ruined by the hand of these evil regimes and the specifics of their circumstances – the pain felt by a mother as she holds her starving disease-ridden child’s corpse in her arms, crying for hours, refusing to let him go – these wrongs resonate throughout eternity. Were Joseph Stalin reincarnated a million times, and somehow made to relive the full life of every soul he cursed with his heartless decisions and actions, it would not right his wrongs.

        The difference between yourself and the believer in God, is that we have a rational ground from which we can say these things are wrong. On atheism, men, women, and children have no intrinsic value, no soul, they are nothing but complex collections of molecules, and there really is no rational difference between smashing a rock, and smashing the head of a child against a rock. Any revulsion you have at the notion is not a real moral revulsion, but simply hardwired into your genes and is a by-product of your genes’ desire for survival. In fact, you cannot even rationally say these things are actually morally wrong. Statements of morality is and categories like “evil” hat you speak of, are not objective facts about the world. Morality and ethics are simply social conventions that generally aid survival.

        Lastly, like “Licky”, your summary statement at the end betrays a deficiency in the logic required to assess these issues rationally. You wrote:

        “I still think most religions are evil, if they condemn others … kind’a like politics, huh?”

        The only thing that is “like politics” in this statement, is that you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth – simultaneously contradicting yourself. Let’s analyze the logic of your statement: You give us a conditional statement of your belief (“if…then”) on the order of:

        “if they condemn others, most religions are evil”

        Therefore implying that the “evil” of a particular social group is primarily contingent upon their condemnation of others. But you’re own worldview falls into the trap of condemning others (by judging them “evil” and by judging them to have “condemned” others), and is thus “evil” by its own standards. Please try to revise your statement in a way that doesn’t expose its self-contradiction. In my opinion, we have a responsibility as human beings to speak honestly, and this requires effort in the direction of rational discourse.

      • Ann said

        By “scholars” I meant historians, people who systematicaly study a subject, not fictional characters. Peter Parker’s uncle? Is it no wonder our discusion will lead no where?

        By identifying evil, I am clarifying what is, where it is found, I defined it as condemning others. Who is it that rallies people to condemn others? To see the characteristics, features or values of others as evil? Me?

        Silly person. Go back to your Spider Man movie.

      • Alex said

        Ann – would you mind citing an actual historian who makes the argument you do? I notice you offer no rebuttal to my thorough dismantling of your weak argument. I quoted Peter Parker’s uncle in jest, but the point still stands. I find it humorous that you attempt to exploit a movie reference in my post, rather than address my arguments.

        If you define evil as condemning others, and then you call others evil, you are indeed condemning others, and are evil. Now that kind of self-stultifying position is beyond silly – it is foolishness at its height. Truly, you have become what you despise most.

      • Ann said

        Ok, Alex, since you like, apparently, fictional characters. I got this just for you, Alex. It’s from a socialist and atheist – (Evil is not people, but what they do when encouraging others to condemn. I discovered the act, not the person/s. ALL PEOPLE ARE GOOD, but they do evil by condemning others and encouraging others to do as they do. “Follow me,” said the “Lord”)

        ONE OF THE GREATEST POSTS ON YOUTUBE SO FAR!

      • Alex said

        I’ll watch it when I have time, Ann. I’m busy building some furniture. In the meantime, as I argued in a previous post, without an objective basis for morality, on atheism, “good” and “evil” are merely names we give to configurations of molecules that we find agreeable or disagreeable – and have no real objective status as such. On atheism, it is merely a social convention that it is wrong to rape women; it is not actually wrong. Atheism can’t really encompass objective right or wrong, let alone objective good and evil.

      • Ann said

        “On religion, [Charlie] Chaplin wrote in his autobiography, ‘In Philadelphia, I inadvertently came upon an edition of Robert Ingersoll’s Essays and Lectures. This was an exciting discovery; his atheism confirmed my own belief that the horrific cruelty of the Old Testament was degrading to the human spirit.”‘ – wiki

      • Ann said

        In your argument you listed “firstly” that “, as Peter Parker’s uncle would say, …”. It’s not what he “would” say, because “he” is a fictional character. A fictional character would say just about anything you want him to say, Alex. You quoted what “Peter Parker’s uncle” did say to his nephew, Peter Parker, Spider Man. Furthermore, listing something first means, at least I would think, it is the most important thing you’re going to write. And, you do use the quote from “Peter Parker” to build your argument. But, no, I was wrong. In your next comment, you write “I quoted Peter Parker’s uncle in jest,” but then you immediately write, “the point still stands.” Huh?

        With future comments from you, Alex, I think, I also will be “busy building some furniture.”

      • Xeno said

        Sorry Alex, I award 10 points in this particular exchange to Ann for wit, brevity, pointedness, use of multimedia and for cracking me up. Back to your corners for just a minute while I stop laughing.

        If this referee is a tad biased it may be because you haven’t yet acknowledged that this “religious idiot” took you to school about your religion’s relationship with early pagan storm deities when you condescended to offer me a clue about the four directions imagery in Ezekiel. ;-)

        You are, as I’ve said before, a great mind. Though we often disagree, I admire you and appreciate your help in refining my ideas and hope you will consider using your gifts to bring people together, Alex.

      • Alex said

        Ann: “On religion, [Charlie] Chaplin wrote in his autobiography, ‘In Philadelphia, I inadvertently came upon an edition of Robert Ingersoll’s Essays and Lectures. This was an exciting discovery; his atheism confirmed my own belief that the horrific cruelty of the Old Testament was degrading to the human spirit.”‘ – wiki

        Alex: I think I’d have to agree with Chaplin and Ingersoll regarding large sections. Most of the “horrific cruelty” in it is perpetuated by men though. Maybe Michael can elaborate on the Old Testament. Its frankly not my area, and I think its largely mythological.

      • Alex said

        Ann: In your argument you listed “firstly” that “, as Peter Parker’s uncle would say, …”. It’s not what he “would” say, because “he” is a fictional character. A fictional character would say just about anything you want him to say, Alex. You quoted what “Peter Parker’s uncle” did say to his nephew, Peter Parker, Spider Man. Furthermore, listing something first means, at least I would think, it is the most important thing you’re going to write. And, you do use the quote from “Peter Parker” to build your argument. But, no, I was wrong. In your next comment, you write “I quoted Peter Parker’s uncle in jest,” but then you immediately write, “the point still stands.” Huh?

        Alex: LOL, this is too funny. Listen, I wasn’t using Peter Parker’s uncle as a serious source, as if I thought he was some authority on anything. I quoted him in jest. It would be like telling you your argument was weak, and then quoting the old Wendy’s lady and asking “where’s the beef?”. Get it?

        And yes, I said the point still stands. It is still true that, with the greater power that comes with technological weaponry, human beings have a greater responsibility to wield them in an ethically responsible manner, as we are fully *aware* of their greater power, and its potential for greater negative effect. This greater power doesn’t minimize the level of ethical accountability any group possesses. It is still more ethically heinous to push a button and kill one million people with a laser beam, than it is to kill 100,000 slowly and inefficiently via catapults.

        Ann: With future comments from you, Alex, I think, I also will be “busy building some furniture.”

        Alex: Build yourself some bookshelves, then fill em up with books (starting with logic textbooks). Spend the next 10 yrs of your life reading these, and then maybe we can get somewhere.

      • Alex said

        Xeno: Sorry Alex, I award 10 points in this particular exchange to Ann for wit, brevity, pointedness, use of multimedia and for cracking me up. Back to your corners for just a minute while I stop laughing.

        Alex: Not sure what’s so funny as I haven’t watched the vid yet. But if mockery’s the game, I’ve found few rivals.

        Xeno: If this referee is a tad biased it may be because you haven’t yet acknowledged that this “religious idiot” took you to school about your religion’s relationship with early pagan storm deities when you condescended to offer me a clue about the four directions imagery in Ezekiel. ;-)

        Alex: Xeno, you can’t take people to school on the short bus. Only special needs children are allowed to ride it. And if you really think you have supported your utter nonsense about Ezekiel thinking the creatures with the faces are the clouds being moved around by the wind, you’ll have to show me where. I gave you a clue as to how you can stop embarrassing yourself on the topic – even recommended a good book by social scientists who understand the cultural imagery. But nope – Xeno and his dad used to talk about what different animals the clouds looked like on long car rides, so Ezekiel MUST have been seeing faces in the clouds too! You are a true scholar, my friend. You should publish your work with an academic press.

        Xeno: You are, as I’ve said before, a great mind.

        Alex: Well, here we agree.

        Xeno: Though we often disagree, I admire you and appreciate your help in refining my ideas and hope you will consider using your gifts to bring people together, Alex.

        Alex: Some ideas you should refine, some of them need to be pulverized into fine powder and swept into the trash. Most of your ideas of the religious variety are the latter.

  5. licky said

    or the way SHE intends. really guys, i think you missed the point. the greatest religion is that of matriarchy- the guns, wars, and dogmatic slandering that SHE creates with her daily rising of the sun, and setting of the moon. ha ha- yes, nature can be cruel too…. but not ignorant like men attached to their religious opinions.

    michael and mostly alex, can you see how attached you are to your own religion? and how that creates unpleasant reactions in you? yes, obviously its something very personal. you can have that. and keep it to yourself. or make your own blog. but please dont try and wrap your small minded views of the world in its majesty, multi-universe expansion of spirit, magic and beauty, around our planet and this blog. tho xeno may not be well read on the verses of this or that holy book, this is his blog of expression and exploration~ tho i may not agree with all his posts, i dont find it useful to insult him with a holier than thou attitude.

    religion is a construct- not a truth. its a way that humans have been brought together to serve a higher power, usually that of the controlling class, not the kindness of Divinity or God.

    i resonate with your comments ann.

    and keep posting your creative interpretations xeno, you are a real thinker, understanding personal freedom and myth. i believe there are no truths here on earth, just attempts at understanding the incredible Mystery of life.

    • Alex said

      Licky: michael and mostly alex, can you see how attached you are to your own religion? and how that creates unpleasant reactions in you? yes, obviously its something very personal.

      Alex: LOL, this is the new breed of anti-religionists. They are so driven in their quest to rid the world of religion that anyone that adheres to any religion in any form MUST be blinded by it. Nevermind the fact that I’m obviously a very sort of liberal Christian who thinks the Bible is filled with mythology of all sorts. Nevermind the fact that I just responded to an orthodox Jew about the ethical problems in the Old Testament that Jews typically sweep under the rug. HE’S BLINDED BY HIS RELIGION!!! Never mind the fact that my views on religion change almost daily as I study deeper into religion daily. I’M BLIND AND CLOSED-MINDED!

      Did you ever consider that, if I seem unpleasant, maybe I’m just a tad unpleasant as a person? Or irritated at the particular moment that I wrote something unpleasant? LOL – what if it is my religion that helps me *curb* my naturally unpleasant disposition. Anti-religionists seldom go that far as they are oh so focused and unwavering in their attempt to blame the world’s problems on religion.

      Licky: you can have that. and keep it to yourself. or make your own blog. but please dont try and wrap your small minded views of the world in its majesty, multi-universe expansion of spirit, magic and beauty, around our planet and this blog. tho xeno may not be well read on the verses of this or that holy book, this is his blog of expression and exploration~ tho i may not agree with all his posts, i dont find it useful to insult him with a holier than thou attitude.

      Alex: Eh, I think I’ll just hang around and zing my pal Xeno whenever he says foolish stuff about religion. How’d that be?

      Licky: religion is a construct- not a truth.

      Alex: LOL, everything is a “construct”, as everything is filtered through and constructed by our perceptual apparatus. So you aren’t saying anything. Make an argument (hint: those have premises that support the conclusions). I’m all ears. But otherwise, thanks for sharing your faith.

      Licky: and keep posting your creative interpretations xeno, you are a real thinker, understanding personal freedom and myth. i believe there are no truths here on earth, just attempts at understanding the incredible Mystery of life.

      Alex: We are all enraptured by your misty-eyed postmodern posturing, but logical thinking is a prerequisite for discussing these matters intelligently. When you start off with “I believe there are not truths here on earth”, you rule yourself out from the get-go.

      Were we to take you at your word, saying that you believe the proposition “there are not truths here on earth”, entails that you believe this proposition to be true. So basically you just showed us in one sentence how your worldview is hopelessly self-contradictory. If there are not truths here on earth, then this entails that even the proposition “there are not truths here on earth” is *necessarily* false. Thus, no one can logically believe in it.

      How’s that resonate with ya? ;-)

    • Michael said

      Licky: Emphasizing the SHE part is hilarious, but point well taken. Recall that I am a Jew. God does not have a gender and we do not have a neuter tense in English other than “it”. Don’t feel it’s right calling God an “it”, though. The primary manifestation of God that humans can experience is the Shechinah, which is feminine in aspect.

      Regarding any “hostile” reactions we Jews might have, if you had people hunting and killing you for thousands of years, that might generate a bit of hostility. There have been few times where Jews have been in a position to effectively fight back in their own defense. Mostly, we just want to be left alone to do our job.

      BTW, regarding truth… whether you buy it or not (I’m guessing not), Judaism as dictated in Torah is the only religion that was handed to humanity by God. All others are outgrowths of the human intellect and desire to connect with God. Granted, modern Judaism is actually an “adjusted” version, since we no longer have a temple for sacrifices. If we built one today, there are not many Jews who would be keen on going back to that system. We’re waiting for God to clue us in on a modernized version.

      • Alex said

        Michael – can you show us why you think the Torah was handed to humanity by God? And can you explain why it is necessary to slaughter animals in a Temple indefinitely, to secure forgiveness for our sins?

  6. licky said

    i have little interest and energy for posting much on blogs and the like, because i find a lot of it is in the head. i mean, mental debate over points which may or may not be true. mental exercises. and often attack to prove ones point so attached to. you can believe whatever you would like on any subject… including religion. but all these words and attempts to prove ones point about whats true or not about our existence and universe, really miss the point, i think, of all religion. as i stated before, its about the Heart, and learning to be human, and coexisting. not about one religion being more true than another, or better.

    forums like this can be useful to learn, and that is helpful for us to evolve mentally, and spiritually.

    but time is so precious that i find obsessively responding and attempting to dislodge, devalue, and undermine a person’s healthy response is just plain wasteful.

    but it is a clue into each one of you…. into your inner workings of self and how you feel about yourself, through how you treat others.

    and i’m not saying i am at all ‘there’ or perfect… always a work in progress!

    i believe we are in a period of evolutionary shift from the 3rd chakra of power over, to the 4th of power together. its about tuning in to what you Love every day, and holding that as a touchstone. many spiritual leaders, ancient teachings, visionaries~ have talked about this time, the turning of the ages, the great shift, end times. i see humanity as coming into a greater embodiment of the 4th chakra of Love and Equality. this struggle is happening everywhere. its very exciting to be alive today.

    below is an article i enjoy on the Heart’s intelligence.

    Follow Your Heart, it is Smarter Than You Think
    The heart is also the first organ that is being formed in the womb. The rest comes later.

    by Rebecca Cherry

    Recently, Neurophysicists have been astonished to discover that the Heart is more an organ of intelligence, than (merely) the bodies’ main pumping station. More than half of the Heart is actually composed of neurons of the very same nature as those that make up the cerebral system. Joseph Chilton-Pearce, author of The Biology of Transcendence, calls it “the major biological apparatus within us and the seat of our greatest intelligence.”

    The Heart is also the source of the body’s strongest electromagnetic field. Each heart cell is unique in that it not only pulsates in synchrony with all the other heart cells, but also produces an electromagnetic signal that radiates out beyond the cell. An EEG that measures brain waves shows that the electromagnetic signals from the heart are so much stronger than brain waves, that a reading of the heart’s frequency spectrum can be taken from three feet away from the body…without placing electrodes on it!

    The Heart’s electromagnetic frequency arcs out from the Heart and back in the form of a torus field. The axis of this Heart torus extends from the pelvic floor to the top of the skull, and the whole field is holographic, meaning that information about it can be read from each and every point in the torus.

    The Hearts’ torus electromagnetic field is not the only source that emits this type of electromagnetic field. Every atom emits the same torus field. The Earth is also at the center of a torus, so is the solar system and even our galaxy…and all are holographic. Scientists believe there is a good possibility that there is only one universal torus encompassing an infinite number of interacting, holographic tori within its spectrum. Because electromagnetic torus fields are holographic, it is more than likely that the sum total of our Universe is present within the frequency spectrum of a single torus.

    This means that each one of us is connected to the entire Universe and as such, can access all the information within it at any given moment. When we get quiet and access what we hold in our Hearts, we are literally connecting to the limitless supply and Wisdom of the Universe, thereby enabling what we perceive as “miracles” to enter into our lives.

    When we disconnect and shut down the Heart’s innate wisdom of Love-based thinking, the ego-based intellect takes over and operates independently of the Heart, and we revert to a survival mentality based on fear, greed, power, and control. In this way, we come to believe that we are separate, our perception of life shifts into one of limitation and scarcity, and one in which we must fight in order to survive. This amazing organ, that we often time ignore, neglect and build walls around, is where we can find our strength, our faith, our courage and our compassion, enabling our higher emotional intelligence that can, if we allow it, guide us through our lives.

    We must now switch the gears out of the fear-based mental state that we have been taught to believe in, and move into Heart Centered living. For this transformation to take place, one must learn to meditate, “go into your Heart” and access the inner wisdom of the Universe. It is the only way, it is THE WAY. As each one of us begins this quiet revolution of living from the Heart, we will begin to see it reflected in our lives and in our World. This is how each one of us will create change in the world, create Peace, create Harmony and Balance, and in this way, will we all create the New World Paradigm of Heaven on Earth.

    http://dimensionalbliss.com/2011/03/23/follow-your-heart-it-is-smarter-than-you-think/

    • Alex said

      Licky wrote: i have little interest and energy for posting much on blogs and the like, because i find a lot of it is in the head.

      Alex: I understand. It definitely takes alot of energy to study and apply principles of logic and research topics thoroughly. It isn’t for everyone. Unfortunately, these are merely prerequisites for intellectually responsible discussion of any topic.

      Licky: i mean, mental debate over points which may or may not be true.

      Alex: Well, when you’re coming from the stance that you are (blatantly contradicting yourself), we aren’t in the realm of “may or may not be true”. We are quite obviously in the wrong, right out of the gate.

      Licky: mental exercises. and often attack to prove ones point so attached to. you can believe whatever you would like on any subject…

      Alex: This is probably not the case. We have a certain range of control over our beliefs, but for most of us, alot of our beliefs are involuntary as well.

      Licky: including religion. but all these words and attempts to prove ones point about whats true or not about our existence and universe, really miss the point, i think, of all religion. as i stated before, its about the Heart, and learning to be human, and coexisting. not about one religion being more true than another, or better.

      Alex: I don’t entirely disagree with this – I’m not arguing against other religions per se and I’m all for inter-religious dialogue. Postmodern anti-religionists like yourself though, coming from a very irrational standpoint (there is no truth), are dangerous – not to religion, but to critical thought and rational engagement of all subjects.

      Licky: forums like this can be useful to learn, and that is helpful for us to evolve mentally, and spiritually.

      Alex: Right.

      Licky: but time is so precious that i find obsessively responding and attempting to dislodge, devalue, and undermine a person’s healthy response is just plain wasteful.

      Alex: I find it strange that you are so exhausted and wasting precious time typing all these words about how you’re wasting precious time, when you haven’t even engaged my arguments at all really, and we’ve barely even scratched the surface of a discussion. It seems more likely that you want to pontificate and pronounce your beliefs and faith, rather than actually have a rational discussion (which I admit, does take work).

      Licky: i believe we are in a period of evolutionary shift from the 3rd chakra of power over, to the 4th of power together.

      Alex: See? Just what I said above….Pronouncements of faith – of the Hindu variety this time. And that from someone who claims to be anti-religion.

      Licky: below is an article i enjoy on the Heart’s intelligence.

      Alex: Thanks for sharing the New Age misinterpretations of modern neuroscience from a blogger who believes that a council of aliens from the Pleiades are communicating with us. It is full of faulty logic. Just because the heart generates an electric field, it does not follow that it has access to any information whatsoever. This is actually some of the most archaic thinking I have seen yet. The ancients believed the heart was the center of reason. We now know it has nothing to do with the conscious process but still preserve the ancient metaphor. This numbskull has somehow leaped from “the heart has an electric field” to “the universe is holographic and we can access universal wisdom through our heart!”

      If your heart tells you this kind of stuff is true, please…stop following your heart. Start using your brain; it is much better at reasoning.

      • licky said

        you are really funny alex- lol!! have you thought of a semiotic stand up routine? then you could let your critical light shine….

        one question though— have you any friends?

      • Alex said

        Well, I’ve been with friends all night actually. I tend to have the opposite problem in life – I need to be very careful about who I open my life up to, as I tend to get alot of space invaders (i.e., cling-ons), who want to be my best friend. I’m so good at relating to people I generally get a pronouncement of “you’re the best friend I’ve ever had” within a week or two. Granted, online I come across a little cranky, but these smackdowns I give out really are good for you.

  7. Alex said

    Xeno: Sorry Alex, I award 10 points in this particular exchange to Ann for wit, brevity, pointedness, use of multimedia and for cracking me up. Back to your corners for just a minute while I stop laughing.

    Alex: Not sure what’s so funny as I haven’t watched the vid yet. But if mockery’s the game, I’ve found few rivals.

    Xeno: If this referee is a tad biased it may be because you haven’t yet acknowledged that this “religious idiot” took you to school about your religion’s relationship with early pagan storm deities when you condescended to offer me a clue about the four directions imagery in Ezekiel. ;-)

    Alex: Xeno, you can’t take people to school on the short bus. Only special needs children are allowed to ride it. And if you really think you have supported your utter nonsense about Ezekiel thinking the creatures with the faces are the clouds being moved around by the wind, you’ll have to show me where. I gave you a clue as to how you can stop embarrassing yourself on the topic – even recommended a good book by social scientists who understand the cultural imagery. But nope – Xeno and his dad used to talk about what different animals the clouds looked like on long car rides, so Ezekiel MUST have been seeing faces in the clouds too! You are a true scholar, my friend. You should publish your work with an academic press.

    Xeno: You are, as I’ve said before, a great mind.

    Alex: Well, here we agree.

    Xeno: Though we often disagree, I admire you and appreciate your help in refining my ideas and hope you will consider using your gifts to bring people together, Alex.

    Alex: Some ideas you should refine, some of them need to be pulverized into fine powder and swept into the trash. Most of your ideas of the religious variety are the latter.

    • Xeno said

      Alex, I can only imagine, based on the way you relate to people, that you suffered great and repeated belittlement in your formative years, and if so, you have my sympathy, but this is now. The length of bus you took to get to my class is irrelevant.

      Lets go step by step.

      Ezekiel (1:4) claims to have beheld a stormy wind and a great cloud. Agree or disagree?

      Ezekiel (1:5) claims that in the fire of that storm was what looked like four living creatures. Agree or disagree?

      The creatures each had four faces and four wings. (ezekiel 1:6) Agree or disagree?

      Ezekiel is describing cherubim. Agree or disagree?

      Cherubim are mentioned in the Torah as well as in Ezekiel and Isaiah. Agree or disagree?

      The Cherubim were originally storm deities. Agree or disagree?

      Where are you getting lost? Last step too big leap?

  8. Dan said

    You don’t think our ancestors knew what a cloud looked like or a rainbow? They were smart enough to build pyramids, shrines, and civilizations so I think they would know what a cloud in the late afternoon looked like. It’s all part of a bigger plan man, the elite people are trying to controle us and tell us what is right. Look at all the animals that have died, birds by the thousands. As well as fish. Also the chemtrails that airplains leave. It’s the illuminati bro/chick. They don’t want the common people to be so knowledgable about history. Hell, even people say 9/11 might have been a conspiracy. Just don’t listen to everything the media says, because they are the main source of it. Everyone has become to lazy to research or read anymore and all anyone does is watch news and media. Media tries to tell us how to act through music. They sat what is wright And wrong to do and wear.

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