Agora

I watched this film. Agora.

According to Wikipedia an agora was:

The Agora (/ˈæɡərə/; Ancient Greek: Ἀγορά Agorá) was a central spot in ancient Greek city-states. The literal meaning of the word is “gathering place” or “assembly”. The agora was the center of athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of the city.[1]

An interesting detail is that this is a Greek world while the film is located in Egypt. The film brings amazing views of the ancient city of Alexandria and also of its famous library which was one of the Wonders of the World.

alexandria library
Capture of the Library from the film.

IMDB says about this film:

In the 4th century A.D., astronomer and philosopher Hypatia (Rachel Weisz) teaches her scientific beliefs to a class of male students. Among them is lovestruck slave Davus (Max Minghella), the equally smitten Orestes (Oscar Isaac) and young Christian man Synesius (Rupert Evans). Hypatia dismisses all of their advances, but this romantic drama pales in comparison to a rising battle between Christians and pagans on the streets of soon-to-be war-torn Alexandria.

This synopsis says enough about the film.

The film showed me how amazing people can be when religion takes possession of them. No form of violence is crazy enough to ‘convert’ and ‘convince’ once that madness takes someone in its claws. If you want to learn more about this, I advise you to watch this film.

And no, this is not just Christianity. This is also Islamic and all the other large, monotheistic religions. All of them have their share of bloodshed in their history.

Religion might be something good but the way it’s performed (and seeing the amount of stoning in Agora I can also say ‘executed’) is insane. It made me abhor religion even more than it already did.

Another one on god. The christian one, I mean.

Adam, Eve, the snake and the famous apple

We all know this one. The woman taking an apple from the tree of knowledge even though this mighty god told them not to take it.

What surprises me is that this god isn’t able to keep that snake away from the garden, or at least make it shut up. After all, in this story it wasn’t Eve who got the apple by herself, she was pestered into doing it by the snake. Probably god made a mistake by designing a snake that could talk. I guess that one’s fixed though; I haven’t heard of a talking snake ever since. (Except in the Harry Potter books.)

Now there will be people that claim that god did all this to test his own creations, to see if they would fall for the snake’s words. That’s either kind of stupid – as he made them after his own image – or it’s something that says something about that god. If his creations, who are like him, fail then he would probably fail as well. Which in turn isn’t something you’d expect from an infallible god, a ‘fact’ stated in a book that’s written by fallible men who have never had a 1 to 1 with that god. It’s even never documented that their god said that this book is ‘his word’. It’s all the work of fallible men. Scare tactics.

Religion. I don’t care.

Really. I don’t care about your religion. Are you christian? Fine. Are you muslim? Be happy with it. Are you hindu? Good for you.

Just Don’t Freaking Kill People. Even stronger: don’t kill people in the name of your loving, caring god!

It’s not about killing ‘non-believers’. It’s about killing people. The idiot who shoved the idea into your mind that people who don’t believe what you believe should be killed should be killed. Yes, read that again if it confuses you because I’m sure it does. What god, master of the universe and the whole rest of the area would be happy if tiny little you goes to the market and kills someone? Which excuse for righteousness would be jumping for joy when you brainwash children of 10 years old to tie a bomb around themselves and blow themselves up in a marketplace?

Oh, right, you do that because it’s in your book. Your holy book that conveys the will of your god. The book that’s been written by – ehm – no, not god. It’s written by people who thought it good to write things down, and in the process added lots of their own ideas to it. To screw with your mind. If you don’t believe it then read it again. Or watch this video about a man who tried to live biblically for a year:

And then decide when you are going to stone someone. I’m not just talking about muslims. Christians have their own share of bloodshed to answer for (Crusades, Inquisition, invading South America). All big, monotheist religious organisations have something to answer for, I’m certain.

I don’t give a damn about anyone’s religion. Just stop murdering people.

Christians and their martyrdom

[Candida] Moss, professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, challenges some of the most hallowed legends of the religion when she questions what she calls “the Sunday school narrative of a church of martyrs, of Christians huddled in catacombs out of fear, meeting in secret to avoid arrest and mercilessly thrown to lions merely for their religious beliefs.” None of that, she maintains, is true.

Surprised? You can read the entire article on salon.com. How did I come upon this? A while ago I was looking something up and found an article on how the entire (or at least 99%) of the Christian martyrdom/being thrown for the lions for being Christian etc. was not true. Unfortunately I lost that link, it had loads of interesting links and examples in it. What I remember from it is this:

The early Christians were not prosecuted for being Christian. The Roman empire was insanely huge, there were thousands of religions everywhere, so the Romans couldn’t care less who did what to or with whom, or why, as long as they stayed within the law and paid their taxes. (Most modern governments can learn a thing or two of that, but that’s my personal view.)

What then caused the Christians to be picked off the street and occasionally be thrown for the animals? (Not always lions, often these were wild dogs or bears.) The Christians didn’t want to obey many laws of the Romans. They felt they stood higher than the laws of those savages with their many gods. The early Christians were known to insult others, did not want to pay their taxes and other things that Roman law ordered, and that apparently was, at first, most of the issue there.

The PBS site has a long and interesting article on this too. Part of the article (C.E. =  Common Era, or “A.D.”):

Before the year 250 [C.E.], the persecution of Christians is sporadic. It’s local. It’s improvised. It is at the discretion of a Governor to whom complaints are made and so on. It’s not a dragnet and it’s not an imperial policy. After 250, when the empire is being battered on every frontier by invading armies, when there’s absolute rampant inflation, [there is] incredible governmental instability. There are an average of two or three Emperors in a year. They keep getting assassinated. It’s just an incredibly fraught time. That’s also the point at which you begin to get the imperial expression of persecution of Christians. Now then again, also, it’s interesting. It’s not a criminal offense to be a Christian. What you have to do is get a ticket, a lebevos, a chit saying that you have sacrificed for the well-being of the empire…

The article I couldn’t find any more told that the first written proof of Christians being thrown for the lions because of their religion date from somewhere in the 13th or 14th century. Only a good millennium later. Not much for eye witness reporting…

Sorry. I don’t believe that Christians were prosecuted for their faith. They were prosecuted here and there for being stuck-up, for wanting to convert others. As far as I know they were among the very few religions that actively sought to convert people to their ideas. Not much has changed there…

On this apple and tree thing from the Garden of Eden.

Been thinking about this for a while so I started investigating. What did I investigate?

genesis

 

According to the bible, it was Eve that took an apple from a forbidden tree. I wasn’t certain on the kind of tree – what was its specific function? On http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/06/29/satan-the-fall-good-evil-fruit-edible I found that a) the apple wasn’t necessarily an apple, and b) that this was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The first part isn’t particularly interesting, the second one is.

Does this mean that the christian god doesn’t want people to know the difference between good and evil?

Interesting, since the christian faith (and many others) now use that as their hammer to pound in their wisdom. I perused a bit more and on
http://www.creationtips.com/tree_of_knowledge.html I found:

God told Adam he could freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except one — “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” If Adam ate from this tree, God told him, he would die (Genesis 2:16,17).

We all have heard that Adam and Eve got kicked out, they didn’t die by eating from it.

Does this mean that their god told lies in trying to scare them?

Apparently Adam and Eve eating from that tree is the “original sin”, the one every baby up to now carries along from the moment it’s born, according to old-fashioned christian convictions. But lying is a sin too, according to christianity, so wasn’t their god the first one to sin? Looking at http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-lying-sin.html:

The Bible is clear that lying is a sin and is displeasing to God.

It becomes a bit confusing here, but most religions share that trait. So god lied to Adam and Eve and according to what one might assume ‘his own words’ he became displeasing to himself.

This “original sin” is something that irks me as well. I’m not too clear on how long ago this Adam and Eve/Garden of Eden affair happened. Let’s say 6000 years ago, to please the people who adhere to the Bible instead of proper evolution (in which case it would be several million years ago). Still, 6000 years is a long time, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be time to forgive that mishap? Apparently not, since we still hear this original sin thing. Which brings me to this same bible again:

How do we forgive when we don’t feel like it? How do we translate the decision to forgive into a change of heart?

We forgive by faith, out of obedience. Since forgiveness goes against our nature, we must forgive by faith, whether we feel like it or not. We must trust God to do the work in us that needs to be done so that the forgiveness will be complete.

(read all about it at http://christianity.about.com/od/whatdoesthebiblesay/a/bibleforgivenes.htm)

So god will do the work on forgiveness because ‘forgiveness goes against our nature’. I’m not going to touch that one, this gets worse with each page. Still, god does the forgiving. Except for that one apple which wasn’t supposed to teach people the difference between good and bad. Wow. Imagine the mess we’d be in if there was indifference between good and bad. Saved someone from drowning? Who cares. Shot someone? Who cares. Uhm… somehow this reflects large parts of the world… there is a lot of indifference about good and bad. I’m probably too weird to understand all this. I’m not even going to try…

The Christian Pope

Warning. Don’t read if you love the Pope. Or like him.

On second thought, perhaps then you should read this.

In his ‘Message for the celebration of the day of World Peace 2013‘ the Pope says:

1. EACH NEW YEAR brings the expectation of a better world. In light of this, I ask God, the Father of humanity, to grant us concord and peace, so that the aspirations of all for a happy and prosperous life may be achieved.

Nice. I fully agree with this request. Especially the “aspirations of all” part. For some reason I think that the writer of this piece missed something fundamental in the convictions of his holiness the Pope. Take gay people, who are not fully developed humans. Or gay marriage, which is a threat to humanity. I assume all the gay people fall outside this ‘of all’ idea. And the folks who want to use contraceptive to improve health and for AIDS-prevention, for example in Africa? Are they exempt of ‘all’ too?

Another quote from his message:

peace presupposes a humanism open to transcendence.

The Christian church (the Pope?) should start practising this transcendence too. Get over the ideas of undeveloped people, threats to the world, and eradicating contraceptives for health reasons. Get up to speed with the world, don’t try to revert to the dark ages. There are enough people trying to do that without religion as their weapon.

Christianity is not a bad thing, on the contrary. Its basis is to be good for others. Like the basis of the Quran is, and all the other holy books that go around. It’s the interpreters of the words, the manipulators of texts and minds that are the wrong things.