Posts Tagged ‘superstition’
Those who believe that a supernatural being created the universe have never posed an intellectual challenge to evolutionary theory. But creationists, whether biblical fundamentalists or believers in “intelligent design,” do pose a threat to scientific thinking. Indeed, creationism’s insidious genius lies in its ability to reinvent evolution in its own image as a dogmatic belief system – and thus the antithesis of science.
The creationists are right about one thing: contrary to the impression given by much popular writing on the subject, the theory of evolution is in crisis. But this is a positive development, because it reflects the non-linear progress of scientific knowledge, characterized by what Thomas Kuhn described in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions as “paradigm shifts.”
For the last 70 years, the dominant paradigm in evolutionary science has been the so-called “new synthesis.” Widely publicized in recent years by Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, the new synthesis unites Darwin’s theory of natural selection with Mendelian genetics, which explains heredity.
The current crisis in evolutionary science does not imply complete rejection of this paradigm. Rather, it entails a major, progressive reorganization of existing knowledge, without undermining the fundamental tenets of evolutionary theory: organisms alive today developed from significantly different organisms in the distant past; dissimilar organisms may share common ancestors; and natural selection has played a crucial role in this process…
A British man has been arrested in Thailand after being found with six foetuses that had been roasted and covered in gold leaf as part of a black magic spirit ritual.
The corpses of the unborn baby boys were found packed in a suitcase in his hotel room in Bangkok’s Chinatown district.
Chow Hok Kuen, 28, who holds a British passport but is of Taiwanese origin, confessed to police that he had bought the foetuses several days earlier for almost £4,000. The source of the foetuses is unclear.
He said he intended to smuggle them to Taiwan where they would be sold for as much as six times what he paid on the internet to people who believe that their possession would bring wealth and good luck.
The man told police that that he was hired by another Taiwanese man, named Kun Yichen, who regularly travelled to Thailand to collect the ritualistic foetuses. Worship of the foetuses — observed by some on the Chinese community — is a Buddhist-animist practice known as Kuman Thong that is described in ancient Thai manuscripts…
Lore has it that if the owner reveres the ritual foetus, its spirit will warn and protect its possessor of danger. In practice the foetuses have been replaced by wooden effigies…
Officers made the gruesome discovery in the hotel in the Yaowarat district of Bangkok, where they found that the foetuses had also been tattooed and were adorned with religious threads.
You have to love transubstantiation.
Police in northern Mexico have arrested eight people for allegedly killing two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman in ritual sacrifices. Prosecutors in the state of Sonoru say the alleged suspects belong to the cult of La Santa Muerte, or Saint Death.
Jose Larrinaga, a spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors, said the victims’ blood was poured around an altar to the saint, which is depicted as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes.
The cult, which reveres death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico among drug traffickers and criminals in recent years, but there have been no confirmed cases of human sacrifices in the country…
Authorities began investigations after 10-year-old Jesus Octavio Martinez Yanez was reported missing on March 6 by his stepfather. Investigations led authorities to an apparent altar site in the Sonora city of Nacozari, about 110km south of Douglas, Arizona.
Larrinaga said the arrests were made after tests by forensic experts on Thursday found blood traces spread over 30 square meters there…
Those arrested included Silvia Meraz and her son Ramon Palacios, who allegedly killed the victims.
Speaking to reporters, she said: “We all agreed to do it. Supposedly she [one of the victims] was a witch or something.” She did not respond to questions about the boys’ killings.
Often, reasonable educated people find the rituals and trappings of religion simply laughable. A sensible reaction to a serious look at what people truly believe will result from prayer, tithing, repeating gestures leftover from trying to scare away things that go boomp in the night while a frightened and ignorant clan huddles in their cave. But, no unusual stretch of the imagination is needed to extend belief in, say, transubstantiation — partaking in the body of Christ, cripes! — into an act of human sacrifice.
It happens all the time and usually results in an arrest of some singularly demented individual like Jeffry Dahmer. That something similar can move to become a public cult, growing along with parallel hero worship of the leaders of drug gangs speaks volumes about a massively ignorant population accustomed to being led at the local level by a broad hierarchy of superstition.
Don’t kid yourself that Americans are above this, that it can’t happen here.
From morning all through the night, tens of thousands of Russians have been lining up since Saturday in the cold with just one aim: to kiss a glass-covered reliquary that they believe holds the Virgin Mary’s belt.
They shuffle along, waiting for up to 12 hours without complaint in a line that stretches for miles. Within a few days, the organizers say, the wait could reach 24 hours. At any given time there are about 25,000 people, according to news media estimates, and as of Wednesday morning, 285,000 true believers had earned their moment before the belt, said the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation, which organized the tour…
Of all the industrial nations, perhaps only Russia outdistances the United States in the religiosity of its people, two million of whom venerated the belt before its final stop in Moscow…
“We came so that we will live well, be happy and healthy, for the sake of our children,” said Anna Kozlova, 68, a pensioner who joined the end of the line late Tuesday night with her daughter Oksana Kulikova, a nurse, wrapped, like her mother, in fur against the cold.
She said she planned to head straight to work after venerating the relic at the towering Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which has been open around the clock…
Moscow’s city government closed streets around the cathedral — causing those Muscovites not so inclined to venerate relics to rant about the even-worse-than-usual traffic jams. Mobile canteens were set up to feed the pilgrims, and heated city buses lined the embankment to offer respite from the cold. A free bus service is shuttling provincial visitors to train stations…
Next – I hear someone is bringing in Jesus’ jockey shorts.
An American Christian organization spreading the gospel of a May 21 judgment day is the latest in a line of doomsday groups older than Noah himself, says a religion expert who’s confident we’ll still be here on May 22.
Prof. Richard Ascough, who teaches an apocalyptic literature course at Queen’s University’s School of Religion, says Family Radio’s international billboard campaign and mission play on a consistent human belief that the current generation is somehow unique.
“Throughout history, every generation has had… some interpretation that places the end times within their own generation,” he told CTV.ca in a recent interview, days before doomsday as predicted by the fringe group. “I get the worrying sense from their material that they would be as surprised as their followers that they are still here May 22.”
According to Family Radio’s website…”On May 21, 2011 two events will occur… A great earthquake (that) will be so powerful it will throw open all graves. The remains of the all the believers who have ever lived will be instantly transformed into glorified spiritual bodies to be forever with God.
“On the other hand the bodies of all unsaved people will be thrown out upon the ground to be shamed. The inhabitants who survive this terrible earthquake will exist in a world of horror and chaos beyond description.”
Family Radio has mounted an extensive campaign to share its discovery, posting thousands of billboards warning of the May 21 Judgment Day in cities throughout North America, including Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Kingston and Quebec City. It has also organized missions to Iraq and Turkey, where volunteers are asked to use their final days on Earth handing out leaflets. RV caravans have been tasked with spreading the word across North America — including one that will end its journey in Vancouver on the big day…
Such rhetoric also adds to the atmosphere of fear in today’s society, says Ascough, who points to former U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as leaders who often used doomsday language when pushing for drastic measures.
Religious nutballs will continue to morph their way through each temporal failure. Collecting money from very ignorant people along the way. They work at achieving no improvement in the lives of anyone. They leave no useful knowledge behind.
Thanks, Ivonne, for being the first to warn us about the prediction
A vial containing blood drawn from Pope John Paul II shortly before he died will be installed as a relic in a Polish church…
Piotr Sionko, the spokesman for the John Paul II Center, said the vial will be encased in crystal and built into the altar of a church in the southern city of Krakow that is opening in May…
The blood was drawn for medical tests at Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic shortly before John Paul’s death on April 2, 2005…
After John Paul’s death, some Polish officials said they hoped John Paul’s heart would be removed from his body and returned to his homeland for burial. However, church officials dismissed any possibility of dismembering the body, saying the age had passed for that practice.
The last part comes almost like a punchline. It’s interesting to watch the church “evolve”,
Two Red Devils together after the Labour Party conference
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
New Labour leader Ed Miliband does not believe in God, he has said.
Mr Miliband had previously said his religious views were a “private matter”, and his declaration means two of the three leaders of major British political parties are self-proclaimed atheists.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also confirmed he does not believe shortly after being named Liberal Democrat leader, while David Cameron last year said religious faith was “part of who I am” but admitted he did not go to church regularly…
In an interview on Radio 5 Live, Mr Miliband was asked by presenter Nicky Campbell: “Do you believe in God?”
The Labour leader replied: “I don’t believe in God personally, but I have great respect for those people who do. Different people have different religious views in this country. The great thing is that, whether we have faith or not, we are by and large very tolerant of people whatever their view…”
Despite spin doctor Alastair Campbell’s famous comment to reporters that “we don’t do God”, Mr Blair has confirmed since leaving power that his religious faith was “hugely important” to his premiership. He said he did not speak publicly about his belief while in office out of fear voters would think him a “nutter”.
Since leaving Downing Street, he has converted to Roman Catholicism, and in his recent memoir, A Journey, he wrote: “I have always been more interested in religion than politics.”
Confirming that he is a nutter.
Here in the States, of course, cowardice is the better part of valor. If any potential candidate for president didn’t prattle on about “God bless you all – and God bless the United States of America” he or she would probably be shot at sunrise.
They certainly wouldn’t be elected to any office requiring intellectual honesty, knowledge of science or insight into history. Fortunately, none of these is apparently needed for Congress or the White House.
Seventy-five leaders of the nation’s medical schools [.pdf] signed an ad in the Sept. 3 Washington Post urging Congress to act now to make sure that lifesaving stem cell research can continue in the wake of the Aug. 23 court decision prohibiting further federal funding.
The ad asks that legislators resolve the issue “once and for all” by passing legislation ensuring “continued federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research under the NIH’s rigorous ethical guidelines.”
Scientists and educators respond to the ideology of superstition, those who would halt federal support for stem cell research, an important and growing aspect of modern medicine.
God did not create the universe and the “Big Bang” was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book.
In “The Grand Design,” co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant…
“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” Hawking writes.
“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”
Hawking, 68, who won global recognition with his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time,” an account of the origins of the universe, is renowned for his work on black holes, cosmology and quantum gravity.
Since 1974, the scientist has worked on marrying the two cornerstones of modern physics — Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which concerns gravity and large-scale phenomena, and quantum theory, which covers subatomic particles…
In his latest book, he said the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting another star other than the Sun helped deconstruct the view of the father of physics Isaac Newton that the universe could not have arisen out of chaos but was created by God.
“That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions — the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings,” he writes.
Hawking isn’t saying anything that any scientist worth their salt – if they have more than a passing interest in philosophy – hasn’t figured long ago. Probably in undergraduate days.
I give Hawking credit for trying to educate our species on a large scale. That obviously is the target for the new book. The folks who have little contact with science or academic passages at philosophy – other than utilizing the results of the craft constantly without praying to their TV set or shoes.
Still, the superstitions which go back to building a fire at the cave mouth to keep away the banshees are hard to explain away to those who reject reason as a useful practice.
A “ghost hunter” waiting for a phantom train on a North Carolina trestle was killed by a real one Friday after trying to save a woman, witnesses said.
Christopher Kaiser, 29, was killed and the woman was seriously injured investigators said.
Kaiser and 12 fellow ghost hunters had gathered on the 119th anniversary of North Carolina’s Bostian Bridge train wreck, The Charlotte Observer reported…
A woman who was with the group was seriously injured and airlifted to a hospital. Witnesses said Kaiser pushed her out of the way before he was hit.
I wonder if this will turn into the “curse” of the train of North Carolina’s Bostian Bridge train wreck. Superstition always finds a way to modify itself to avoid extinction.