Saturday, September 10, 2005

Intelligent Falling?

Have a look at this article on The Onion... ;o)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Pagan origins of Christianity

Another of the Infidel Guy radio shows featured Greg Kane who has a website looking at the 'pagan origins' of Christ and Christianity.

The main point of his theory is that many pre-Christian religions had beliefs similar to Christian ones, indeed he claims that Christianity is basically a mish-mash of bits of older religions and was nothing new at all. More than that, he claims that Jesus never existed as a historical person and that he also was a composite of various old bits of belief.

One of his main points is that Christianity was not the first religion to feature a 'man-shaped' god who was born of a virgin, was killed and came back to life again. Apparently some Christian groups have responded to this claim by suggesting that 'the devil' knew (in advance) what Christ would do and so he invented false stories ahead of time to throw folk off the scent.

Of course, the Infidel Guy and Greg Kane had a good laugh at the expense of this theory on the show.

But I found myself thinking in this way about the whole thing:

Christians believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus is the crucial event in all of history - this event influences the salvation of everyone who ever lived, even those who lived before the event. This suggests to me that the influence of the event could be felt hundreds, if not thousands, of years earlier. Perhaps some spiritually attuned individuals picked up on the future echoes of the resurrection and formed their own belief systems around them?

Scientists are happy to think of time as merely being another dimension. Just because we appear to be in freefall in one direction in time, doesn't mean that everything is. I believe that important events cause ripples in both directions through time. But that's enough philosophising for one day, I think.


This week I've listened to two of the Infidel Guy's radio show podcasts. Both shows featured 'deconversion' stories, one was the (ex-)wife of a Baptist pastor and the other had actually been a 'fundamentalist' (his word) minister (see his website).

Both shows were interesting and a bit sad.

The common theme in both stories was that they had fully believed all the '6000 year old earth' and 'creation in six actual days' stories, and when they came to believe that these stories could not be true, they dismissed all belief in any kind of a God.

This strikes me as odd. It appears that, for both of them, Christianity was exclusively a system of belief, based entirely on the words of a book and nothing else. Especially, no experience. Basically it was a house of cards and if you remove one of the cards then the whole thing falls apart.

Christianity is not like that for me at all. Over the years I have come to doubt the historical accuracy of certain stories in the bible, but that doesn't make me doubt the existence of God, but rather confirms my belief that the bible was written by fallible human beings - albeit ones with good intentions.

My belief in God is largely based on experience - I became a Christian when I saw that my Christian friends posessed some extra quality that others did not have. I knew that this extra quality was the Spirit of God, and from observing these Christians, I knew I wanted it too. On becoming a Christian I experienced the Spirit of God in an utterly unexpected way (certainly no 'wish fulfillment' there) and this confirmed to me that God is real. OK, so the bible says that too, but without seeing and experiencing I wouldn't have become a Christian.

So, having experienced God, questionmarks over bits of the bible do not particularly shake my faith.

But coming back to the deconversion stories, I just feel sorry for those Christians out there who are merely sticking to a system of belief with no real experience. To me that would be like looking at holiday brochures without ever going on holiday. It really is missing out.

By the way, I don't mean to imply that the bible is merely a book. It certainly does contain the words of God and the stories of God, its just that I believe that these have been written through flawed human beings who have occasionally put their own slant on things. But God can and does still speak to Christians through His book.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


I saw a programme about seances on telly the other night. It started me thinking about ghosts, the afterlife and all that.

I believe in ghosts - for the simple reason that so many people across the world claim to have seen, heard, felt or otherwise experienced ghosts. However, I am far from convinced that ghosts are the disembodied spirits of dead humans.

So what are ghosts? Well, I have no definite answer to that question, but here are a few speculations.

Ghosts come in a range of different guises. The one that I think is least likely to be any form of intelligence is the sort that apparently does the same thing over and over every day for centuries - why would any self-aware being do that? For example, in St. Andrews, Scotland (where I once lived) is an apparently haunted tower - folk climbing the stairs have occasionally referred to seeing someone else going up or down the stairs when they're in the tower, only to be told that no one else was in the tower with them. So apparently this ghost spends its entire existence going up and down the stairs. Why? If this is some form of intelligence, it must be really bored by now. I prefer to think that there is no being behind these phenomena - rather, the phenomenon is more like a kind of recording on magnetic tape - the building has somehow retained an imprint of an earlier event which is occasionally or periodically "replayed". OK so that's a bit of an unlikely sounding idea, but is it more reasonable to assume that a sentient being chooses (or is somehow constrained) to do the same thing over and over again ad infinitum?

Another form of ghostly appearance is characterised by seeing something vague and indistinct whilst experiencing 'a sudden chill' or something like that. I once read of a church that was apparently haunted in this way - but all sightings / experiences of the ghost ended when the heating system was replaced. On further investigation it turned out that the old heating system produced a very low frequency vibration - way below the hearing threshold. Apparently this vibration could be felt - as a kind of a chill - and apparently low frequencies can occasionally cause a resonance in eyeballs (I'm not making this up) which causes a slight distortion in someone's vision. So there was no real ghostly goings on at all in that case, but a scientific explanation.

And of course there could be non-dead-human intelligences out there too. The bible speaks of angels and demons and other 'spiritual' creatures - maybe some of these are around and are messing about.