Yearly Archives: 2010

Hindu Gods Iconography

Trimurti: Brahmā, Vishnu, and Shiva

The Mahabharata Series (cont.)

For some of my post a little background on the Hindu pantheon would be helpful.  The descriptions below are oversimplified, butI hope folks would enjoy the iconography !

Hinduism came to India with the Aryan invaders who brought their Vedic gods.  At that time the indigenous people of India had many local gods.  As the Vedic deities and local deities blended, Hinduism  was formed.  As a result of this amalgamation, there are many different names for any one God and many different stories about that god/goddess — often inconsistent.  But three main deities stand out: Shiva, Vishnu and Brahmā who in later Hinduism are known as the Trimurti (three forms).  These three are felt to be different aspects of the divine.  However, the mother Goddess also plays a huge role and she is variously designated as a consort (sexual partner) each in the Trimurti.

Here their brief traits.  Below I will show various pictures of the Gods which are found all over India and explain the iconographic symbolism.

Deity Traits
Brahmā Main Trait: The Creator
Consort: Saraswati
Shiva Main Trait: The Destroyer or Transformer
AKA
: Nataraja (lord of the dance), Rudra, Shankara
Consorts: Sati, Paravati, Kali, Durga
Vishnu Main Trait: The Preserver / Maintainer
Consort
:  Lakshmi

…………

Brahmā & Saraswati

Brahmā

Vehicle: Swan (grace, discernment)Crown: Supreme authorityBeard: Wisdom

4 Arms: represent east, south, west, and north
and also:  mind, intellect, ego, and  self-confidence. The arms hold the items below:

The Book: symbolizes knowledge (The Vedas)

Rosary: symbolize substances used in the creation process

Gold: Symoblises activity – creator

Guru Brahmā

As above plus:4 Heads:  Brahma is often depicted with 4 heads.  There are many stories about why he has 4 heads.Complexion:  Red is common , as are red clothes

Lotus:  Symbolizes nature and the living essence of all things and beings in the Universe.

Note:  Brahma temples and worship is rare in India nowadays.

Saraswati

Saraswati– Consort of Brahma, Goddess of knowledge, music and arts.  Associated with fertility, prosperity, purity and dcreativity.  Saraswatis children are the Vedas (scriptures).Swan:  same vehicle as her husbandVina: her musical instrument

Peacock: represents arrogance and pride over its beauty — the Goddess teaches not to be concerned with expernal apearance and to be wise regarding the external truth.

River:  Her name means “flowing” — related to her early history as a river goddess.

Shiva & The Goddess

Shiva

Third Eye: line in center of forehead.  He used this to burn Desire (Kāma) to ashes.  Cut off head of son, Ganesh.  It will annihilate the world in the end of the age.Tiger Skin: A meditation blanket of only most accomplished ascetics.Matted Hair:  His classic style.  Implies an ascetic meditator who cares not for looks.  Sadhus imitate his appearance.

Trident:  Shiva’s weapon to destroy evil and ignorance

Drum:  Hanging on the Trident.  Shiva is known for his dance which will destroy the world.  (see below: Nataraja)

Blue (esp throat): He drank the poison churned during creation of world to save it.

River (Ganga): A stream of water flows from his hair.  This is the sacred Ganges River (Ganga).  Here its fall from heaven is broken by the Lingum (Shiva’s phallic symbol of potency).

Snake: often shown with a cobra as a garland

Mount Kailāsa: The mountain in the Himalayas where Shiva lives and is felt to be the center of the Universe.

Shiva - Nataraja

Nataraja:  Shiva is known as the lord of the dance- “Nataraja”Ring of Fire:  He uses fire to destroy.Rhythm of the Universe:  Another image of the dance is the vibrant energetic movement and enpowering of the universe.

Releasing Souls:  Another image is the dance used to release the souls of all men from the snare of illusion.

 

Shiva's Family

Paravati:  The Gentle aspect of Shakti (the power of the mother Goddess).  Kali & Durga (below) represents the violent aspect of the feminine power.  Symbol of fertility.  Vehicle Lion.Ganesh:  Son of Shiva and Paravati — see post on Ganesh

Ganesh

Ganesh: Son of Paravati & Shiva
Elephant Head: Denotes Wisdom.Fan-like Ears:  He hears all petitionsTrunk: symobl of his discrimintation (viveka) needed for spiritual progress.

Pot-belly:  Bounty of nature and shows that gansh swallos the sorrows of the universe and protects the world.

Sweet rice:  (left hand) symbolic of sweetness of the realized inner self.

“Swastika”: (right palm) symbol of fortune (stolen by Nazis)

Goad:  (in right hand) Helps propel mankind forward in righteousness and truth and remove obstacles.

Noose:  (left hand) “Pasha” – symbol that worldly attachments and desires are a noose.

Broken Tusk:  (right) Symbol of sacrifice which he broke for writing the Mahabharata.

Trident:  (on forehead)  Shiva’s symbol

Mouse:  Ganesh’s vehicle — at his feet.  He is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures.

 

Kali

Kali: The violent aspect of Shakti (the power of the mother Goddess).  The goddess associate with eternal energy.  The goddess of time and change.  Some conceive of her a benevolent mother goddess.  Associated with other Hindu Guddesses like Durga, Bhadrakali, Sati, Rudrani, Parvati and Chamunda.Necklace of Heads: after destructionSkirt of Arms: after destruction

Severed Head:  Human Ego which must be slain by Divine Knowldge in order to attain moksha.

Sword: Signifies divine knowledge

Vishnu & Lakshmi

Vishnu

4-Arms: All-powerful and all-pervasive.  Holding the following items:Crown: symbolizes supreme authority.Conch Shell:  represents power to creat and maintain the universe.  It represents “OM”

b: A sharp-spinning discus-like weapon.  Represents destruction of one’s ego

Blue Skin: All-pervasive like the infinite ocean

Peacock Feather: Borrowing from Krisna Avataar.

2 Earrings: Inherent opposites in creation:  knowledge and ignorance; happiness and unhappiness; pleasure and pain.

Garland of Flowers:  “vanamālā”

Jewel on Chest:  Lakshmi dwells in the jewel

Mace:  Weapon

Conch Shell:  auspicious

Lakshmi

Lakshmi : Vishnu’s consort
4 Arms: Brahma is often depicted with 4 heads. There are many stories about why he has 4 heads.Lotus:  Stands of Lotus — symbol of spiritual perfection and rises above worldly contaminationCoins:  Goddess of means of obtaining objectives:  Prosperity Goddess. dressed in fine garments and precious Jewels.

Elephants: Flanked by elephants signifying her royal power. Some texts have the owl as her vehicle.

Avatars of Vishnu

Avatars of VishnuIntro:  When the world needs help, Vishnu incarnates and works wonders (from Wiki).

  1. Matsya, the fish-avatar who saved Manu – the progeniter of mankind from the great deluge and rescued the Vedic scriptures by killing a demon
  2. Kurma, the tortoise-avatar, who helped in the Samudra manthan – the churing of the ocean
  3. Varaha, the boar-avatar, who rescued the earth from the ocean, by killing her kidnapper-demon Hiranyaksha
  4. Narasimha, the half man-half lion avatar, who killed the tyrant demon-king Hiranyakashipu, to rescue the demon’s son Prahlada, who was a Vishnu-devotee
  5. Vamana, the dwarf-avatar, who defeated the demon-king Bali
  6. Parashurama, sage with the axe who killed the thousand-armed king Kartavirya Arjuna
  7. Rama, the king of Ayodhya and the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana
  8. Krishna, the king of Dwarka, a central character in the Bhagavata Purana and the Mahabharata and reciter of Bhagavad Gita
  9. The Buddha (Gautama Buddha) meaning “the enlightened one”
  10. Kalki (“Eternity”, or “time”, or “The Destroyer of foulness”), who is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga.

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Mahabharata: Introduction

Vyasa: the author

The Mahabharata Series (cont.)

Authorship

The Mahābhārata is an amalgam of many authors but traditionally attributed to Vyasa (an immortal)

Date

Composed over centuries (like the Hebrew Bible).
Some think it was begun in the 700s BCE and finished in the 300s BCE.  Here is some dates to give perspective:

  • 3000-900 BCE ? Kurukshetra War (subject of Mahabharata)
  • 1600  BCE  Beginning of Greek Civilization
  • 1194 BCE Trojan War (subject of Greek Epics)
  • 1000 BCE King David (legend)
  • 740 Kingdom of Israel falls to Neo-Assyrian Empire
  • 586 Jerusalem fall to Nebuchadnezzar
  • 551 BCE  Confucious born
  • 486 BCE Buddha born
  • 469 BCE Socrates born
  • 327 BCE Alexander the Great reaches India
  • 304 BCE Ashoka the Great born
  • 27 BCE Founding of Roman Empire

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Philosopher: share thyself !

I have several “Share Thyself” table to help folks quickly share themselves on blogs.  Philosophical sharing is tough — first because most of us mortals are not familiar with the categories, and the categories may not be ones we agree with.  Nonetheless, in philosophy circles, these terms are often used.  So perhaps they will be useful to you.

Your Philosophical Positions

School of Philosophy:
Analytic / Continental
Ontology:
Naturalist / Non-Naturalist / Supernaturalist
Science: Scientific realism / Scientific anti-realism
Theory of Time: B-Theory / A-Theory
Theology:
Theist/ Deist / Pantheist / Panentheist / Non-Theist / Atheist / Agnostic
Politics:
Libertarianism / Egalitarianism
Language: Russellianism / Fregeanism
Mind: Anti-physicalism / Physicalism
Mental Content: Externalism / Internalism
Abstract Objects:
Nominalism / Platonism/ Conceptualism / Immanent realism/ Meinongianism
Knowledge:
Empiricism / Rationalism
Personal Identity:
Physical View / Psychological View
Free Will:
Incompatibilism / Compatibilism
Normative Ethics:
Consequentialism / Deontology / Virtue Ethics
Meta-Ethics:
Moral realism (Cognitivism, Ethical Naturalism, Ethical non-naturalism, Rationalism) / Moral Anti-realism (Non-cognitivism, Expressivism, Emotivism, Error Theory, Prescriptivism, Relativism, Subjectivism)

CATEGORIES & DEFINITIONS

I list some of the above categories below in order to add brief definitions and/or links to help understand each category. I will be working on this list slowly. Suggestions welcome !

  • School of Philosophy: Analytic (wiki) / Continental (wiki)
  • Ontology: Naturalism / Non-Naturalism / Supernaturalism
  • Science: (sep) Scientific realism / Scientific anti-realism:
  • Theory of Time: (sep) B-Theory / A-Theory
  • Theology: Theism/ Deism / Pantheism (sep) / Panentheism (sep) / Non-Theism / Atheism / Agnosticism
  • Politics: Libertarianism (sep) / Egalitarianism (sep)
  • Language: Russellianism / Fregeanism (sep)
  • Mind: Anti-physicalism / Physicalism (sep )
  • Mental Content: Externalism (sep) / Internalism (sep)
  • Abstract Objects: Nominalism (sep)/ Platonism (sep)
  • Knowledge: Empiricism / Rationalism (sep)
  • Personal Identity: Physical View / Psychological View (sep)
  • Free Will: Incompatibilism (sep) / Compatibilism (sep)
  • Normative Ethics: Consequentialism (sep) / Deontology (sep) / Virtue Ethics (sep)
  • Meta-Ethics: Moral realism (Cognitivist, Rationalist) (sep)(wiki) / Moral Anti-realism (Expressivism, Emotivism, Error Theory, Prescriptivism, Relativism, Subjectivism) (sep)

__________
Resources:

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Christian: share thyself !

There are many different kind of Christians. So as to make dialogue easier, please consider sharing your present beliefs.  See the section in my Religious Dialogue Tools for an explanation for how to use this table as a means of sharing your Christian theology.  Note, no one is expected to know all these various categories or positions.

Christian Theology

Present Denomination:
Short religious history:
God’s Nature:
Majority View (  Personal,  Intervening, All-knowing / All-powerful / Omni-present / All-Loving / Perfect / Eternal / Perfectly Just / Perfectly Merciful )
Non-Majority View ( Impersonal / Non-intervening …)
Christology:
High / Low
Bibliology: Inerrant / Errant
Infallible / Fallible
Inspired / Inspiring
Unified Theology / Multiple Theologies
Harmartiology: (coming – your view of “sin”)
Favored Hermeneutics: (coming)
Favored
Apologetics:
Evidential / Propostional
Cosmology: Young Earth Creationist / Gap Creationist / Old Earth Creationist / Evolutionist
Goyology:
Socialize with Unbelievers (rare, occasional, often) ;
Deep friendship with Unbelievers (never, yes);
Discourage marriage with unbeliever (always, sometimes, never)
Soteriological
Goyology
Exclusivist/  Inclusivist/ Pluralist/ Universalist
Soteriological
Determinism
Calvinism / Arminianism / Moninism
Atonement
Theology:
Moral Influence Theory / Recapitulation Theory / Ransom Theory / Satisfaction Theory / Penal Substitutionary Theory / Governmental Theory / Participatory Theory / Mystical Theory
Literal Bodily Resurrection: No / Yes
Type of Christian Ethics
Divine Command / Virtue Ethics / Utilitarianism / Deontological
Missionology:
Salvation First / Service First
Eschatology:
Premillenialist / Postmillenialist / Amillenialist / Preterist / No Millenialist
View of Hell:
Traditionalist / Annihilationist / Universalist
View on
State of Israel:
Christian Zionist / Pro-Israel / Israel-Neutral
View on Science:
Science leery / Science friendly
Women-Men Relationships Chauvanism / Complimentarianism / Egalitarianism
Women can be priest or minister: No / Yes
Homosexuality can be valid life style:
No / Yes
Abortion
Legality:
Should be: Illegal / Legal
 Personal Teleology: life without Jesus is essentially meaningless / every persons life can have rich, deep meaning — with or without being a Christian

I list some of the above categories below in order to add brief definitions and/or links to help understand each category.  I will be working on this list slowly.  Suggestions welcome !

Christian Theology Categories

  • Bibliology :     Unified Theology/ Multiple Theologies, Infallible / Fallible
  • Favored Hermeneutic Tools: coming
  • Cosmology :    Young Earth Creationist / Gap Creationist / Old Earth Creationist / Evolutionist
  • GoyologySee the post where I coined this theological term to mean: how a believer treats or thinks about non-believers.
  • Soteriological Goyology :     See my post on these positions:  Exclusivist,  Inclusivist, Pluralist, Universalist
  • Soteriological Determinism :    Calvinism / Arminianism / Moninism
  • Atonement TheologySee my post
  • Literal Bodily Resurrection :    No / Yes
  • View on State of Israel :   Christian Zionist / Pro-Israel / Israel-Neutral
  • Type of Christian Ethics: Divine Command / Virtue Ethics / Utilitarianism / Deontological  (variety of Christian Ethics)
  • Missionology : Salvation First / Service First
  • EschatologySee my post
  • View of Hell:  I will expand this, but see this now.
  • View of Science:
  • View of Women:
  • Women-Men Relationships: See wiki on Complimentarianism
  • View of Homosexuals:

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Shakespeare’s Philosophy of Self

This morning, while doing my atheist education homework, I read Luke’s “CommonSense Atheism” post on the infinite regress argument.  On that post, I read an excellent comment by a proud Irish fellow named “John D”, so I went to his site, “Philosophical Disquisitions” where I enjoyed his article  discussing Colin McGinn’s book “Shakespeare’s Philosophy”. I am not a huge literature person, but wish I were.  And I have not read Shakespeare, though I have seen many of his plays.  Yet this article got me excited about looking into Shakespeare again.  For it seems that Shakespeare agrees with my philosophy of self (“Many-Selves, No Self”). But, as to be expected, John D (through McGinn & Shakespeare) captures my view of self in far less words than me, and with rich imagery. For convenience, I will now quote part of John D’s post but please do go read the rest if you have a chance.

(b) The Self
Drama is all about selves. A play is usually an assemblage of characters or selves engaging in activities and events. These activities and events constitute the “plot”. The question that arises is whether the self remains constant throughout the plot or whether it is changed by the plot.

McGinn argues that Shakespeare is sceptical of the notion that the self is a constant, definite, singular “thing” or “essence”. Instead, McGinn suggests that for Shakespeare the self is interactive and theatrical.

It is interactive in that it never makes sense to talk about the self in isolation. The self only becomes apparent in social interactions. For example, if we describe someone as being generous, what we mean is that they behave in certain ways towards other people.

It is theatrical in that it is best understood in terms of the roles a person plays in life. This idea is manifest in the famous Seven Ages of Man speech in As You Like It. We treat life like a stage play in which we play different roles, each designed to make an impression on an audience of some kind. We are familiar with this: we all put on a different “act” depending on the people we are with.

This View of Self is part of Shakespeare’s worldview and my worldview.  Luke started to build a Taxonomy of Worldviews and I feel such a taxonomy can be useful in facilitating conversations between those with philosophical or theological inclinations. Luke states that

A worldview consists of one’s beliefs about:

  • Ontology
  • Explanation
  • Values
  • Epistemology

For me, philosophy of mind or view of self is absolutely central to my worldview.  And apparently Shakespeare captured my views hundreds of years ago.  Perhaps my View of Self would fall under Epistemology in Luke’s schema, or does it inform my epistemology and thus epistemology should be subsumed under philosophy of mind?  I am not sure. I think most of us have no formal, systematized worldviews nonetheless many of us have deep preferences and ways of seeing the world that inform all our other views — systematized or not.  We are all casual philosophers.   Shakespeare’s View of Self is a great illustration of a major way I view my world.  The other major component of my worldview is “The Fool” — it is the fundamental insight into my own ignorance and limitations. I feel that Shakespeare understood this very well too!  I really have to read the chap.

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Visualizin’ Philosophizin’

Philosophical Blogging

Many of us bloggers philosophize.  Some of us are outright professional philosophers, some of us sloppily slip out philosophical claims in the midst of our dairy-like posts, and then there is everything in between.  Recently I envisioned a way to simply illustrate two important aspects of philosophical thinking — systematization and knowledge.  I have quickly crafted this taxonomy of  Philosopher Types which categorizes according to both degrees of systematization and depth of knowledge.

This visual taxonomy goes with the caveat that none of us is just one type of philosopher.  We all have different philosophers living in us depending on the time of day, our company and the subject matter.  On a good day, I like to think of myself as a solid casual philosopher.  However, when I read the smart guys, it makes me feel like that is a bit of an arrogant over-estimation ! 🙂

Questions for readers

  • Would you add or correct any categories?
  • What axises would you like to see on a philosopher taxonomy chart?
  • How do you see yourself when it comes to your blogging philosophy or theology?

Chart Wars

Finally, below is a fun video I saw on “Graph Wars” which illustrates the importance of visual thinking — both deceptive and productive uses.  It also secretly evangelizes the great Flying Spaghetti Monster (pbuh) and speaks of the infamous pirates.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
HT: Experimental Theology

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Taxonomy

Linnaeus

I love taxonomies !

Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification.  It is an important tool to expand knowledge.

Strengths of Taxonomies

  • Help wrestle with data, with the world
  • Help to see patterns that before escaped your eye
  • Is a tool of science to build models and deepen understanding

Weaknesses of Taxonomies

  • Views only a small part of the things being classified (reductionistic)
  • Imply deeper understanding than actually present
  • Ignore or overlook deeper complex relationships

Solutions

  • Hold loosely:  The trick with taxonomies is to hold them loosely, to realize their short comings, and to rejoice when evidence comes forth showing that a better taxonomy exists.
  • Use several taxonomies to view something
  • Test your taxonomies !
  • Don’t let taxonomies be your only way of viewing reality

Interestingly, the word was coined by Carl Linnaeus (1707-78) who laid the foundations for how we name living organisms in science using the binomial nomenclature.  The taxonomies of organisms has changed drastically over the centuries.  We have progressed from Linnaean Taxonomy to Evolutionary Taxonomy and now to Cladistic Taxonomy.

One of my other favorite taxonomies is that of  language families and their taxonomies have changed over the last 100 years.  But early taxonomies, no matter how inaccurate were good starting points — initial hypotheses.  Below is a fun illustration (here is the large version):

—————————

Linguistic Romp:  Latin vs. Greek

  • tax = taxare [L] “evaluate, estimate, assess, handle”
  • taxi =  short for “taximeter”= “charging (assess) meter” [L]
  • taxidermy = “taxis”[Gk] = “arrangement” + dermis [Greek] = “skin”
  • taxonomy = “taxis”[Gk] = “order, arrangement” + “Nomos ” = “law” or “science”
  • ataxia = “a” [Gk] “not” + “taxis”=ordered. “Not-ordered” . Inability to walk correctly
  • syntax = “syn”[Gk] together + “taxis”= arrange

triangle_end_tiny

See other “Word!” posts, here.

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Searchers vs. Explorers

Poor Searching Souls

Images are important.  We often use images to think about others, to understand them and to interact with them.  But images can be wrong.

Some Christians, when imagining themselves to be generous, have an image of Atheists as “searchers”.   They envision us as fumbling in the dark until we discover their brand of Truth.  Or perhaps they use the image of the proverbial blind men who can only barely perceive the elephant [God].  Thus they see their role as being there to gently fill in our lack of vision.  These Christians get their “seeker” image from one of their favorite Bible verses where Jesus says:

‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; Search, and you will find; Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
— Luke 11: 9-10 (NRSV)

Blind Unbelievers Searching for God

You see, using this image of us as searching for the truth,  Christians can then feel they are part of God’s mission to help us — they are there to offer our blind eyes a glimpse of Jesus.  To them, it is much more generous to see us as blind seekers rather than to just envision us as doomed blasphemous unbelievers.  For if we are “seekers” or “searchers”, we are not yet full blown dangerous hell-fated heretics.   To rid themselves of that image, they are compelled to sanitize us with the “Seeker Image”.  For if they didn’t, they would have to contend with this haunting Bible verse that commands them to shun us:

Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person.
— 2 John 1:9-11 (NRSV)

Thus if they are truly Bible-loving Christians and they want to keep relating with us unbelievers, they must first sanitize us.  They sanitize us by imaging us poor atheists as still “searching”.   They then think of themselves as being in relationship to us so as to gently guide us toward the light — toward truth.   Or perhaps to just be kind to us while God works with us.  Either way, once they have sanitized us as being a “searcher” instead of just a pure outright blasphemer, they feel safe to continue relating to us.  These images help ease their cognitive dissonance.

This sanitization is further needed because of another conscience-haunting Bible verse:

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness?
— 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NRSV)

So,  2 John tells them to shun guests or strangers who don’t believe, while 2 Corinthians tells them to not even partner up with deniers of Christ.

So, how can a Bible-loving Christian deal with us hell-bound unbelievers?  They must do something to cure their cognitive dissonance.  Well, one method is to use the imagery in the Luke verse above (also in Matthew 7:7).  They can use Luke and Matthew to help see us as seekers who may someday find Jesus.  Doing this, they sanitize us and then can sweep those other nasty verses under their spiritual carpet and alleviate their mental distress.

But don’t let them sanitize you !   Get the image of a “searcher” out of their heads.  Tell them you are an explorer !

Images are important.  Don’t indulge them by letting them envision you as a blind seeker.   This blind seeker image is fed by this story of Jesus healing a blind man just like you.

He [the former blind man] answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.’
— John 9:11 (NRSV)

I am an Explorer !

Instead of letting Christians sanitize you and thus letting them easing their consciences, keep that cognitive dissonance burning in their minds.  Tell them you are not a seeker.  Tell them you don’t need Jesus to rub mud in your eyes.  Tell them you are not searching for either Jesus or God.  Tell them you are not searching for the final truth of the universe so as to comfort your soul.

Let Christians know you are not burdened with spiritual confusion nor seeking the one answer.  You are not a seeker.  Instead, tell them you are an EXPLORER !  Instead of buying into their view that there is some final goal in life, tell them that “The path IS the goal”.   You may appear as a seeker to them because you keep looking into all the various religious thoughts out there.  But let them know you do it more as an anthropologist,  a sociologist, ra psychologist,  a scientist, an artist or a musician — not as a seeker.  Give them the image of yourself as an excited explorer.

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An Older Bible !

Credit: Courtesy of the University of Haifa

Fascinating new discovery of ancient Hebrew text – 10th century BCE.
This post contains some supplements to aid your understanding of this story.

English translation of the deciphered text:

  1. you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
  2. Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
  3. [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
  4. the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
  5. Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

Note: this post has been updated to include the excellent comments of Ian

Continue reading

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Friends’ Blog Stats 2010

In the Bible scholar blog world, there has been much chatter about rankings.  Biblioblog use to compare all the Biblioblogs to each other using Alexa rankings (the lower the number, the more visited the site is).  Recently, John Loftus, at Debunking Christianity, got high in the Biblioblog rankings and that apparently caused a stir.  Then Luke at Common Sense Atheism (one of my favorites) rated top atheist sites where he himself now lies.

So with all this talk about Alexa rankings, I decided to explore them.  I started with my own site, of course, only to find I was naturally orders of magnitude from Luke, John and the other disciples of popular atheism !  😉   So, I decide to look at my blogging friends.  I recently re-made my “Friends Tab” which I am very proud of and decided to use their data to test out Alexa and see what it is all about — I am a nerdy, experimental guy.  The data  is at the bottom of the post.  Continue reading to see the results !

But before list the ratings, I must admit that I am hesitant to put this post up for fear of being misunderstood or angering folks, but I figure, what the heck ! 🙂  But maybe I can avoid bad feelings by stating my caveats first:  For me, the ranks means nothing except popularity — and we all know both the strength and weaknesses of popularity.  Popular does not mean “good”, or “valuable” or anything like that.  And though it can be correlated to influence, it is only influential on those who value such things.

So, popular has to be looked at with a very critical eye.  I care nothing popularity — almost so little that my attitude verges on pathological 🙂 . Of course, it is to my advantage to devalue popularity  considering I shall never be popular ! 🙂  But the sociological side of this data and the idea of influence is very interesting.  Thus, I thought some of you would find the links to the Biblioblog, the controversy, the link to Alexa and this list to be interesting.  And finally, please do not think of me superficial — or at least not from just this post.  🙂

Alexa Traffic Ranks on My Friends ! (Jan 5, 2010)

Ranked Friends:

  1. Friendly Atheist: 13,222
  2. Atheist Media: 80,093
  3. Dr Jim’s Thinking Shop: 170,417
  4. Common Sense Atheism: 225,646
  5. Epiphenom: 1,041,796
  6. Sects and Violence in the Ancient World: 1,417,731
  7. Triangulations: 3,445,108
  8. Theophiliacs: 4,037,922
  9. Biblecritic: 6,491,244
  10. On Leaving Fundamentalist Christianity: 10,572,806
  11. Al’s Musings: 12,132,703
  12. The Last Laugh: 12,546,570
  13. Atheists and Christians: 12,986,764
  14. Super Jesus: 17,218,298
  15. Losing My Religion: 17,416,446
  16. Toothface: 25,021,593

“No Data”: (not sure what that means)

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