Monday, November 16, 2009

Inebriation - Bible style!

This morning I read an article in the CDT from a reader expressing vehement hatred for alcohol. The author made no distinction between the casual drinker and drunken college students who spend their Saturday nights in the local bars, then chasing every blonde, brunette, and redhead up and down College Avenue.

Graham Spanier recently solidified his tone against binge drinking and alcohol abuse, which he dubbed "dangerous drinking", by Penn State's student population. The author took exception to Spanier's position, and I agreed with the author's stance that throwing more money at the problem isn't going to rid State College of alcohol related problems. That is, until the author invoked religion.

Not surprisingly, the author is a Christian who possesses a very weak knowledge of the Bible and its origins which are deeply rooted in gnosticism and paganism. The author carefully chose two passages from the Bible which he/she used to bolster his/her argument that alcohol itself is pure concentrated evil, and that anyone who enjoys even the occasional drink is subject to hellfire. The favored passage used is Proverbs 23:31-32:

"Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder."

Of course, the author made a huge blunder by omitting the New Testament narrative of the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), where Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine. Needless to say, Christians maintain that this passage simply illustrates Jesus turning water into unfermented grape juice. Honestly, if you were at a wedding and had a choice between wine and grape juice, which would you choose? Yep, I'd choose the wine, too. As the Psalms say, "wine maketh glad the heart of man".

But the Wedding at Cana is only one example of celebratory and ceremonial inebriation that can be found in the Bible. It is filled with example after example of inebriation, the first possible example of which could (emphasis added) be found in the Garden of Eden narrative, where God forbids Adam from eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil:

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

Genesis 2:16-17

And we all know the rest of the story. God creates Eve for Adam, Eve tempts Adam with the fruit from said tree, Adam gives in, God calls out Adam for giving into his curiosity (i.e., being a human being)...errrr...sinning, Adam blames God for giving him Eve in the first place, God curses Adam and Eve, and Adam and Eve go on to live happy, healthy, productive lives.

Wait. I thought God said they were to die on the day they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? And not only did they not die, Adam went on to live 930 years. That's odd. Nearly 7 billion people later, and we're still here. That sounds more like the rise of mankind, not its fall. Besides, there's something unnerving about a god who doesn't want you to know the difference between good and evil, but punishes you for doing something wrong.

Perhaps the most telling evidence of inebriation in the Bible can be found in Exodus 16:12-24, which tells of Moses leading the Israelites through a wilderness. God appears to Moses and speaks to him from a cloud, telling Moses that he will give him and the Israelites bread, or manna, to eat. But even a casual glance over this passage reveals that the Israelites were more than likely consuming psychoactive fungus, not bread. As a matter of fact, the term manna is a Hebrew word that doesn't mean bread at all, but literally translates to "What is it?" Surely, the Israelites knew what bread was?

Most Christians believe that just because the Bible says that the manna is bread, then that means it's bread - period. But let's take a closer look at this passage starting in verse 14.

"And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.

And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.

Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.

And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein."

Genesis 16:14-24
Consider the characteristics being described of said manna. It appears in the presence of moisture, something which mushrooms need in order to grow. Also, after enough time passes mushrooms will begin to rot and give off an odor, and will subsequently "melt" in the heat of the sun. But spray a mist of water on bread and leave it out overnight, and it will turn into a soggy mess. However, it will produce nowhere near an offensive odor as a rotting mushroom, nor will it melt away in the heat of the sun. On the contrary, if you put bread outside under the heat of the sun, you get a crouton.

The word "manna" is used 17 times in the Bible, and the term "hidden manna" can be found once in Revelation 2:17. Strong's Concordance refers to manna as the food of the angels, those who the Bible refer to as the elohim. Elohim is the Hebrew word for God, however, its meaning changes when the word is presented in all lower case. It is interesting to note that multiple cultures around the world also refer to some hallucinogenic mushrooms as the "food of the gods".

Author Dan Merkur, Ph.D., is one of the first researchers since the late John Allegro to approach the topic of hallucinogenic fungus use in the Bible from a scholarly perspective, even though Merkur is at times at odds with Allegro. Merkur's research has taken a critical look at the manna found in the Bible, and offers evidence that manna could have been a hallucinogenic fungus called ergot. There are about 50 different species of ergot, some of which infest grains like barley and rye, and were often baked into loaves of bread. However, some other forms of ergot are small, round, granular fungi, about the size of a "hoar frost".

In short, if I ate psychoactive mushrooms by the handful, I'd be seeing the glory of God, too. And even if there was such a person named Moses that led the Israelites from Egypt, he was simply an ancient version of Timothy Leary, and nothing more.

more to come...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brian Kilmeade is a douchebag

How bad does the racism at Fox and Friends have to be when even Gretchen Carlson seems dumbfounded?

Kilmeade apologized soon after for this hugfest for bigots, but the damage had already been done.

Can someone please explain how FNC is at the top of the Nielsen ratings all the time with such jackassery? Seriously.

Muslim goes on a shooting spree at Ft. Hood

All too often, we are afraid to speak out against the evil actions that are committed by Muslims, especially when they commit those actions in the name of their god. In many places, particularly Europe and the Middle East, if you speak out against Islam at all, you're either thrown in jail or murdered. But Pat Condell is rather fearless and is pretty vocal in his views toward fundamentalist religion, specifically Islam. Here's one of his most recent clips.

Last Thursday in Ft. Hood, TX, Nidal Malik Hasan, a man with a very questionable military record, revealed not only his contempt toward the US military, but against infidels as well. Of course, the glaring irony is that this man was a psychiatrist serving in the US military, who gave into his own personal darkness and decided to kill 13 people and injure 30 others.

There are so many red flags that are associated with this man that it's truly frightening that he slipped through the system because of the sensitive nature of his religion. Once again, common sense and reason have taken a backseat in favor of dogma. The FBI opened an investigation on Hasan in 2005 because of suspicions that he was warming up to terrorist networks, but he was found innocent. But now that this and every other dirty secret about Hasan continue to surface, we're beginning to realize just how afraid we are of this heinous religion that deserves nothing more than to be laughed at. Sadly, we often need to take the threat of militant Islam even more seriously than the laughing stock known as creationism.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jerry Goldsmith: A musical genius

I love science fiction. I get lost in it. Heck, I even started a short story in college that I never finished.

There are two movies that absolutely stand above all others in the sci-fi genre. The first and foremost is 2001: A Space Odyssey, co-written by the late, great Stanley Kubrick and Arther C. Clarke. 2001 is the perfect marriage of science and fiction. Though the dialogue in the movie was barely more than 18 minutes, it's musical score helped propel the movie and hold sci-fi aficionados utterly spellbound. Kubrick originally wanted Pink Floyd to do the entire soundtrack, but as we all know, that never happened. Which, is too bad. It would have been interesting to listen to. If you want to get an idea of what it would have been like, take a look at this clip. It is the last part of 2001 entitled, "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" coupled with my personal all-time favorite Floyd song, Echoes *sigh*. It's more than apparent that the music hinged on the progression of the final part of 2001.

The second movie that stands above the rest of the sci-fi competitors is Ridley Scott's 1979 classic Alien. At the time, Scott had no intention of being anywhere near sci-fi, but he took the director's chair anyway. Needless to say, the movie probably wouldn't have been such an immense hit with such a huge cult following if it weren't for the nightmarish, sexually repressed, yet strangely beautiful mind of Hans Rudolf Giger. Giger has always had his finger on the pulse of the dark and obscene, and knows just how to make you squirm. His designs for the creatures and the derelict spacecraft in the movie continue to inspire thousands of artists and sci-fi buffs everywhere.

But aside from the visual aspects of the movie, its perfect use of lighting, narrow passageways, and the unknown to induce fear, there is the musical score that could come only from the mind of Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith passed away on July 21, 2004, but not before leaving behind an enormous legacy. His music can be heard in over 100 movies and television shows, and he is the recipient of 18 Academy Award nominations, 7 emmy nominations, and 9 Golden Globe nominations, one of which was the score for Alien, which did not win. The judges must have been bought and paid for.

Goldsmith's score for the movie is everything that music for a sci-fi/horror film should be. Beautiful, dark, brooding, mysterious, pensive, edgy, unnerving, and at times, just downright creepy. It fits Alien so perfectly that it is virtually inseparable from the visual content of the movie. It makes you feel the vast emptiness, grandeur, and loneliness of space, the suspense and fear of being trapped in a narrow tunnel with nowhere to run, and the fear of one who is ultimately doomed from an unseen presence. Even the orchestra sounds alien at times.

An FYI, Scott is currently drawing up plans for a prequel to Alien. Hopefully, this will make up for the last two pathetic excuses for what Fincher, Jeunet, and the ever inept Joss Whedon tried to pass off as sequels, not to mention the Predator crossovers. Mr. Scott, if you're reading this, please, please, please, please, please, please, PLEASE contact me!

So here for your listening pleasure is the score from Alien (in 9 parts), followed Howard Hanson's Symphony Number 2, "Romantic" which played throughout the ending credits. Turn down the lights, put on your head phones, close your eyes, and listen. Because they just don't make 'em like these anymore.

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. Part 9. Romantic.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pennsylvania gets an "A" in science!

Being from a small town trapped between Pittsburgh and the dogmatic Allegheny Plateau, I never thought Pennsylvania was so hot at science. Sure, we got some pretty great schools, such as Penn State, Pitt, Bucknell, Penn, and Carnegie Mellon, but what about the high schools? My high school was far from the ideal setting in which to learn about the sciences. But much to my surprise, Pennsylvania fairs better than most states in the Union. According to a recent study released by the NCSE, Pennsylvania does pretty well in the science department.

Back in January I posted a review of the most and least academic states in the Union and their inverse relationships with religion. Vermont is the least religious in the nation, while Mississippi is the most. In nearly every aspect of everyday living, Vermont came out on top. Not only is the quality of education and IQ higher there, but the overall quality of life is better. Meanwhile, Mississippi predictably lags behind. I also drew comparisons between the Northeast and the Bible Belt. Any ideas which region came out on top?

As predicted, the Northeast leads the Southeast in terms of science education. Not surprisingly, Texas has taken a sharp nose-dive thanks to anti-science goons like Don McLeroy. Meanwhile, the West dominates the trend toward quality scientific education.

But back here at home, things are okay. Maybe things aren't as bad in Pennsylvania as I once thought.

Ray loses. Again. (and again, and again, and again...)

In a couple of weeks, Ray and Kirk, along with their cohorts from ICR and AiG, are going to ascend on UC Berkeley en masse, where they plan to distribute their hacked up version of On the Origin of Species. They will attempt to convince students of all scientific disciplines that evolution is bad, that they know more about science than scientists do, and that they're all headed to a rather toasty eternity unless they turn to Jesus to forgive them of their sins, which includes accepting evolution.

In case you missed it, Ray has been muttering about his "debate" with executive director of NCSE, Eugenie Scott in US News and World Report. As usual, Ray's argument is the same old garbage that has been quickly disposed of - there are no transitional fossils, that evolution is atheistic, and species really means "kinds". Of course, Scott responded and handed Ray's rear end to him on a silver platter in the process. In his defense, Ray did post Scott's response at his blog. I have five points I'd like to make here:

1. It wasn't a debate, Ray. It was a beatdown, and you were on the receiving end.
2. Say it with me, Ray, and repeat over and over, "There are many examples of transitional fossils."
3. Evolution is neither theistic, nor is it atheistic. Evolution is a science, and like all science, it deals with empirical, observable, predictable evidence in a natural universe. That's all. End of story. Period.
4. Species is not the same as "kind".
5. You're not a scientist, Ray. Stop trying to fool everyone into believing that you are.

Scott stated that Ray apparently ripped out entire chapters from the book in his edition of Origin, and once again misrepresented science.

What? A Christian being dishonest? GASP!

I'm almost giddy with anticipation to hear about the aftermath of Ray and Kirk's visit to Berkeley. If you're a student or professor at Berkeley, please do us all a favor and record this debacle with your camcorder so we can all enjoy. Thanks!