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Everything posted by Marat

  1. The historical who's who problem creates countless puzzles for Christianity's insistence on the centrality of one, single, historical event and our belief in it, even if we have to have an idolatrous belief in a magical historiographic power to reach that belief. For example, what if we believe the entire Christian message in every detail, except that we think that the person who taught those doctrines, recruited those apostles, performed those miracles, and rose again from his tomb to prove he was indeed the son of God was in fact not Christ but was Joe Schmidlap, a Paramus, New Jersey, construction worker who lived from 1896 to 1932? Does that count as adequate belief? What if someone believed in everything Christians assert of the historical Jesus except that he was not endowed with divine wisdom in the things he said? I have seen a Biblical Commentary which explained away the obviously inaccurate, unscientific, or irrational things Christ said and did at times as a 'consequence of the limitations of the incarnation of the divine in human form.' But doesn't this make it idolatry to worship this defective god-man hybrid as we would the infinite intelligence of God?
  2. Since Islam teaches that Jesus is to be respected as a great teacher though not as the son of God, that doctrine seems inconsistent with the view of Mohammed as the Anti-Christ, who presumably would have been the arch-enemy of Christ, without compromise.
  3. Don't read this if your knees go wobbly in a pathology class! The forensic process can determine whether flesh was burned posthumously or while the person was still alive. Although in most spontaneous combustion cases the bodies have been charred to ashes, usually some distal member, such as the region from the ankle to the foot, or part of the foot, remains intact, and here the tissue would be sufficiently integral to permit the determination whether the burning occurred during life or postmortem. The most troubling puzzle in these cases is the thoroughness of the burning. It is extremely difficult and expensive to burn corpses in a mortuary, which is why crematoria fires are lighted only after a number of corpses have been collected for combustion. The type of temperatures required are higher than found in normal house fires, absent some accelerants being present. At one time, to my eternal regret, given the colorful nature of my nightmare images ever since, I was a regular reader of the Journal of Forensic Science, and photographs of combusted corpses from various accidental fires were a frequent feature. The charring never seemed to get very far, since bodies are naturally extremely moist, being around 60% water. Women also should burn much better than men, since they are 30% fat, as opposed to the average male who is 15% fat, and fat can generate a good flame, but I don't know whether any predominane of females has been observed in purported spontaneous combustions. Another odd thing I have read in a few spontaneous combustion cases is that the head is shrunken, often considerably so, but this is physically impossible, since heat applied to the head causes the brain to boil, which should burst the skull rather than contract it. This effect was actually recorded in the infamous Attica Prison riot, when escaped prisoners held a blow-torch to the head of a prisoner suspected of being a snitch and his head was seen to explode. Similarly, a photo in the JFS showed the body of a woman who had become trapped in a heating grill and the boiling of her internal organs had caused her back to blow out, rather than her body to shrink.
  4. You can buy 20% potency over-the-counter in a lot of European pharmacies. Not sure where you live, though.
  5. Very thin people have a shorter life expectancy than morbidly obese people do. It is foolish to say that heart disease caused by poor eating habits is the leading cause of death, since heart disease is really just a final common pathway by which the stresses of countless diseases -- many of which are inherited -- manifest themselves. Thus type 1 diabetes is a major cause of heart disease, but type 1 diabetes has now been identified as probably caused by some abnormal pain response in the nerves surrounding the beta cells of the pancreas, with either that abnormal pain being a consequence of abnormal fetal development which in turn arouses an autoimmune attack against the stinging beta cells, or a secondary effect of a primary autoimmune disease on the nerves surrounding the beta cells. So to take just this one example of 'death by heart disease,' you can see that the cardiac death is in fact just the final manifestation of a long pathological chain of events which begins either in abnormal nerve formation during gestation or abnormal T-cell governance of immune processes. These then are the real causes of the death in such cases, but they still count as cardiac deaths, which is taking the symptom for the cause. You could go through the same steps above with 50 other important diseases, showing how their final expression is in cardiac function cessation, which of course means death, so by virtue of being at the end of the line, heart disease seems to be the most significant 'cause' of death. In contrast, the diseases of the pancreas, kidney, liver, thyroid gland, adrenal glands, digestive tract, and nervous system which all ultimately culminate in a fatal heart attack don't kill patients in and of themselves, so they are undercounted as causes of death. Death certification is always arbitrary in listing primary and secondary causes of death, since the truly significant cause is often the cause which winds up being labelled as 'secondary' or 'underlying' or a 'background pathology.'
  6. You might want to read about some of the more strictly scientific and philosophical approaches to your area of interest discussed under the 'anthropic principle.' Essentially that principle (of which there are several versions) states that the nature of the outside world conditions the type of perceiving apparatuses and intellects which could possibly know it, describe it, and form theories about it. In this sense the common physical platform of the perceiver and the perceived conditions the intelletual nature and known appearance of the universe to fall into a narrow range of congruence. Turning this around, the only universe which we could possibly know would be one whose physical characteristics were such that the outside world could appear to us and be understood by us, so we also condition and limit the type of world which could be significant for our intellects. Evolutionary processes, which exist as part of the outside world, also condition our perceptual response to that world to be congruent to it and to be able to comprehend it, since otherwise we would not have survived to see it and theorize about it. The more mystical version of this that you are presenting sounds a bit Rosicrucian in inspiration: "As above, so below."
  7. Throughout India you'll find that many technical terms in English are used by people who do not speak any English. The reason is that these terms were borrowed from the English administration of India during the Raj, since there were no corresponding terms in the local Indian dialects. As a result, they have been incorporated directly into those dialects as borrowed words and so they are spelled and used correctly, while most other English words are unfamiliar and so are not understood, spelled correctly, or used correctly.
  8. Devaluations are essentially state defaults on loans, since the loans are denominated in the nation's currency and so can be paid back at less cost than their value. But why, given this equivalence, did lenders keep lending to Greece throughout its history of devaluations? The fact that they were willing to continue lending suggests that if Greece were now to default and the investors rather than just the poor were required to bear the burden of this financial dislocation, the result would be equivalent and the lenders would come back to extend loans. All capitalists make money by selling their commodities to those who want them, and the commodity sold by lenders is cash, and their consumers the debt-prone. What makes the necessary adjustments is just the interest rate paid. Now, for example, Irish government bonds are paying around 12.5% annual return, in contrast to the 2% return you can get on most bank accounts.
  9. What do deprived people steal, and what do angry people vandalize? Only things that are both rare and valuable. If sex were treated as a causal human interest which was freely shared and distributed the same way we share and distribute handshakes, help with directions, or our role as potential conversation partners, then it would not become a scare and valuable resource which anyone would ever bother 'stealing.' And in fact we see that among our closest genetic relatives sex is indeed freely distributed all time, as it is in 'primitive' human tribes extant today, like the Kalahari Bushmen, among whom promiscuity is so common that they have never even figured out what causes pregnancy. So, the question which naturally arises from this point in the reasoning is, why is the potential problem of violent stealing of sexual cooperation artificially created in our society by sex being 'commodified' as a scarce and valuable resource, when in fact it is a universal, ubiquitous resource which is always and everywhere in adequate supply for natural human demands for it? The answer to that question which naturally follows is that we should 'follow the money' by asking who has benefited from transforming the nearly unlimited human potential for sexual partnership into a rare and valuable commodity, and how. Given that women can sell themselves as prostitutes much more effectively than men; given that courtship rituals require men to give gifts to and flatter women, but not vice versa; and given that women decide how, when, why, and to whom sexual partnership cooperation is extended, while male sexual partnership cooperation is not at all a rare commodity, in the resulting 'sellers' market' the women are able to demand all sorts of favors from men and protective social institutions -- such as the marriage institution that they want together with its moral and sometimes civil penalties for infidelity which they don't want -- it seems that women are to blame for having made sexual cooperation into something so scarce that it can be stolen, in contrast to something like human conversational cooperation, which is so commonly extended to all people that no one ever holds a gun on someone in a dark alley and forces him to discuss the day's weather with him!
  10. There is some speculation among historians that the war may have accelerated rather than retarded the Holocaust, which only began as a systematic killing of people in 1942, once the plan to force all the Jews to leave Europe by their peaceful transportation to Madagascar became impossible with the Allies' recovery of that island from the Vichy French Nazi sympathizers. War also accustoms everyone to doing terrible things in the name of current political policy, and this both increases public tolerance for violent policies and the leadership's comfort with enacting such policies, given the general desperation of the times with mass starvations, bombing of cities, military combat deaths and injuries, and devastation of disputed territories. In that context, the Holocaust became not some unique horror but just one more horror among many.
  11. The 18th century Scottish philosopher made the useful point that 'extraordinary hypotheses require extraordinary proof.' So you would probably believe me if I came into an underground bunker where you were living and said it was raining outside, even though you had no evidence beyond my mere statement. The evidence would be quite poor, and would not even satisfy the criteria of proof accepted in a court of law, but the assertion is so ordinary that very little evidence is needed to establish it. But if I were to tell you that a three-headed cat on the Moon reads our minds and controls the fate of the universe, you would rightly demand considerably more evidence than just my assertion or the assertion of a group of people. If you were shown photos of the cat and fur from its paw, heard personal testimony from some astronaut who had been to Moon, or read accounts of this cat and its supernatural powers in some books, you would still probably refuse to believe that it could really read minds and control the universe, despite all that extensive proof. Now if we turn to the case of Christ having lived in Judea ca. 30 A.D., if by 'Christ' we mean the Son of God, then we certainly don't have sufficient evidence at this historical distance that such an entity really existed. If you mean just some fellow named Jesus of Nazareth about whom some books that survive today were written and who could convince superstitious peasants that he was performing real magic -- as countless figures in the Ancient world did, according to historical accounts -- then the evidence we have still seems a bit weak, but possibly believable. As I said before, even though if the Romans had had stirrups there would have been tens of millions of them spread throughout the Roman Empire, archaeologists still have to admit that we cannot know today whether they had made that invention or not, although some of the tribes who invaded and destroyed the Empire did probably have them. It is unfortunate but true that even with all the images of horsemen riding we have from the Roman world, none is clear enough to show whether the riders had stirrups. Many historical facts of much more recent vintage also cannot be accurately established, either. So the idea we can today know for certain what a simple carpenter from Nazareth was doing or not doing in Judea in 30 A.D. is historiographically preposterous, and is something like someone purporting to be a serious astronomer while maintaining that he can see someone waving to him from the surface of Saturn. Also, it is important to realize that we are under no obligation to disprove any miraculous hypothesis in order to insist reasonably on our lack of faith in it. The burden of proof is always on the party purporting to show that some extraordinary thing is in fact real -- an Elvis Presley who didn't really die, the ghost of an Antebellum lady who walks the walls of a fort in Boston harbor, the capacity of medium's to read minds, the ability of people to levitate, or some bizarre god-man hybrid of Antiquity who proved his divinity by becoming a zombie.
  12. In response to the point about Pascal's Wager as applied to religious belief or disbelief, the problem is that religious belief is not just an option which I can select to be safe and at no cost to me. On the contrary, the cost to me of being a believer is huge, since it would amount to what I feel is intellectual suicide and existential cowardice. Belief would make sense though if life were just a 'dimensionless' move in a hypothetical gamble.
  13. From having seen one applied many times, I can tell you that you don't want it. The experience is so unpleasant that you should resort to it only if you are going to starve otherwise. The trauma of using it -- unless you are a sword-swallower -- will unleash so many stress hormones that the net experience will be more unhealthy than just skipping your veggies. Vegetables are all right as a food but not vital for heath. More important from a general health perspective is why you would vomit up vegetables in the first place? Are you predisposed to nausea and do you have this problem with other foods, or generally with foods containing a lot of fibre? You can buy lots of medical equipment from used medical equipment suppliers, but it tends to be overpriced even when obtained second hand since the original customers were intended to be clinics, hospitals, and doctors, all of whom are assumed to have no negotiating room over the price.
  14. Perhaps the example was misleading, but I'm arguing that since our perceptual dispositions, depth grammar, intellectual wiring, and language predispose us to recognize certain similarity spaces as 'natural,' our science begins its investigations from the implicit 'natural kinds' we operate with, which may not be the natural kinds that actually exist in nature, or may disguise the most informative patterns out there. But since our inductive methods usually begin by operating over what we think are natural kinds, the strictest empiricism is already covertly informed by a certain ideology which may lead to misleading results. Similarly, an overlay of theoretical doctrine may also confuse attempts to base science strictly in empirical evidence. Thus what if the most scientifically informative patters in a forest for understanding how forests grow and develop is not most rationally based on the type of units we are predisposed to have our inductive processes operate over, such as trees, grass, leaves, etc., but over novel unitizations of nature which seem unnatural to us, such as the colors or the smells? What if the best laws to describe the universe should have been based on how each planet tastes to a codfish, rather than on how the planets move, and what we should be doing is putting the mouth of a live (Mercury, etc., are out!) codfish up to each planet and using electrodes to record what it senses? Theoretical overlays are more commonly noted as blocks to inductive discovery of nature's reality, but they just represent a more potentized version of the perceptual/linguistic natural kinds screen between us and nature. Thus one of the most commonly demonstrated experiments in 18th and early 19th century physics involved showing students that electricity and magnetism are not related, but only Oersted's famous 'accident' showed that the reality was being disguised by the contemporary theory of how Newtonian forces had to operate.
  15. I think you can correctly make an association between Islam and poverty if you focus not on the number of countries which are Islamic and poor but on the number of people. Many Islamic countries are contingently rich because of oil deposits, though before oil was discovered and exploited in the early 20th century, all these areas were extremely poor, which provides a better baseline for measuring the link between the Islamic beliefs of the population and wealth. But the mass of Moslems are today living in poverty, since Islamic nations with a huge population base, like Egypt and Indonesia, are poor, while the wealthy oil countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Quatar have small populations. Perhaps the link between Islam and poverty is not cause and effect but effect and cause. Thus only if a nation is poor and thus lacks education, critical thinking, modern institutions of learning, etc. can it preserve the necessary conceptual narrowness to fit comfortably within such an absolutist dogma as Islam represents. In contrast, cultures which have historically experienced the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment also experienced a major boost in productivity and wealth from those historical events, as well as an enormous improvement in their collective critical intellect, and so in these countries wealth and intelligence were linked, and intelligence ousts dogmatic belief systems under its critical power.
  16. Why are so many thefts committed by impoverished Blacks living in the inner cities? Because the power structure of society denies them what they need and should have as a matter of social justice -- that is, enough money to live a decent life and to have the necessary opportunities for self-development -- and then it also criminalizes their attempt to defy this power structure and take by force what they are illegitimately denied. Similarly, so many rapes are committed by men because women withold their cooperation as sexual partners in order illegitimately to enhance their social power over men, even though in the natural state of the world there is sufficient sexual interest among both males and females, and they exist in sufficiently equal proportions, that everyone could be sexually fulfilled and happy all the time. But women are willing to create widespread sexual frustration, misery, and tension just to create an artificial power for themselves as governors of the artificial sex economy that they invent. This exploitation and power imbalance, like all such social moves, whether they be imbalances of wealth created by the rules of capitalism or racial power conjured up by the rules of racism or slavery, calls up a corresponding resentment in those mistreated, and the exploited and abused population lashes out with violence, whether in the form of Luddites smashing the machinery that put them out of work, Nat Turner murdering white slave holders in the Antebellum South, underpaid workers killing the Russian elite on their gigantic estates in 1918, or Jack the Ripper blindly striking out against Victorian morality. In all these cases, a key element in the power structure is to disguise the exercise of power as 'natural,' and to point to any disruption of the power structure as 'violent' and 'criminal.' Thus if a poor family is turfed out on the street by their slum landlord since they can't pay the rent, this is not violence but just the ordinary course of the law according to the rules governing breach of contract, though it that same family now steals bread to feed themselves, they are dangerous criminals.
  17. It seems the height of absurdity to say that only if you believe in a fairy tale can you find sufficient motivation to treat your fellow humans decently, which is what morality is all about. Unless you treat other people decently for the intrinsic goodness of respecting other people, you are essentially psychopathic, since you don't understand the value of moral behavior in itself, since you have to support it by something alien to it, like an imaginary story about a mind-reading giant in the sky who will burn you in a cosmic frying-pan after you're dead unless you're nice on earth. Someone who is 'moral' for that reason is not really moral at all, but just prudent, acting to his own long-term self-advantage. So belief in God and heavenly rewards for being good, instead of promoting morality, actually makes morality impossible, since believers could always be being good just for the reward, which is about as moral as a trained seal leaping out of the water to get a fish.
  18. The usual story that capitalists would like you to believe is that the Greeks are fat and lazy and don't pay their taxes, so as a result they got their economy in a mess, and now the hard-working part of Europe is sick of bailing them out, so the Greeks have to endure the cruelties of government belt-tightening to get their debt under control. But if you look at the percentage of the GDP that the Greek government collects in taxes, you will see that they take in about 33%, which is a much higher collection of taxes than the U.S. government at all levels has at a mere 26.9%. So the Greek tax income is adequate, and so this cannot be blamed for its debt crisis. In essence, what is happening now is that the people who make their incomes by risking their cash in loaning it out to people on interest -- the banks and speculators -- now don't want to pay the price that they ought to pay for having made a bad gamble on Greece. Having to pay for making the occasional bad loan decision is the fair social cost of the high interest income that banks and speculators make from loaning their money successfully in most cases. But of course, since this is a loss for capitalists we are now talking about, governments, the media, and other capitalists are getting together to insist that they should not have to pay for their gambles when they go bad, but that instead the pain should be shifted to the debtors, in this case the Greek people. The upshot is that to save the loan investments of French and German bankers and speculators, the Greek people will be made to endure unemployment, cruel adjustments in welfare, and cutting of humane social services.
  19. All science strives to account for the complex by the simple, since only this method yields that type of focused, finite account which amounts to an 'explanation' rather than a mere replication, mirroring, or passive cataloguing of the world which would never explain it rather than just depict it. But the important thing about simple scientific explanations for large amounts of data is that they are ultimately derived from large amounts of data whose mathematical description and relation to the more basic laws of physics is then distilled to yield the final, summary, 'simple' explanation, like e = mc(2), which although simple in appearance and statement in fact develops out of a lot of complicated reasoning going back thirty years to the Michaelson-Morley experiment and Ernst Mach's theories. In contrast, the simple explanations for everything offered by religion and mythology start at the opposite end of the conceptual spectrum, with a single explanatory thing or event -- Jason was able to steal the Golden Fleece, the gods of Olympus ate the apples of immortality, the Olympians defeated the Titans in a Great Battle, Lucifer was cast down from Heaven for his attempted rebellion, Christ rose again after his death -- and from this they purport to derive an explanation of 'how the world is as it is today,' or 'what the world and human experience ultimately mean.' The single explanatory focus, in contrast to science, is not derived from an extensive examination of nature, but rather, it precedes that examination as a mere posit or a mere assumption. Maybe there was some unstated survey of the world and derivation of implications from it which went into inventing the explanatory focus, but the steps rationally connecting that survey to the explanatory focal point are not stated. Although Isaac Newton was a particular person with individual, idiosyncratic characteristics, nothing about his explanation of the world in the Principia and the Opticks turns on that. If either or both books were accidentally written by a monkey who got lucky with his random scribblings, that wouldn't make their truths contingent. In contrast, since the personhood and the miracles of Christ are essential to the Christian explanation of the universe, the peculiarity of this contingency is a real problem for its purported ability to account for the moral meaning of the whole of Creation. If it were discovered that Christ's escape from his tomb -- a cave provided by one of his supporters who might have had an interest in ensuring it had an escape tunnel hidden at the back -- was some sort of stage magic rather than a genuine resurrection (see the book, 'The Passover Plot'), could such a tiny change in what happened to a single person in a single place on a single day change the moral significance of someone committing murder today, or the hope of immortal life for more than six billion people on earth? The disproportionateness seems preposterous.
  20. I think that the humanistic half of the world has trouble with math because they forget or fail to notice that math is really just a form of disciplined, logical reasoning. Instead they understand math as a system of algorithms which have to be memorized because they make no logical sense, but just solve problems by some sort of occult magic. Thus when you see non-math types trying to solve simple arithmetic problems they should be able to do in their head, they rely entirely on some remembered algorithm from grade school which they perform as a mindless ritual, with no notion that its results can be checked by rational reflection or could have been guessed by simplification and approximation. If a popular math book could just convince them to accept that math was really just a form of thinking and not cabbalistic manipulation of mystical signs, they could do much better with it. I read a psychological study of the mental processes of humanists which sought to explain their trouble with math in terms of their demand for absolute certainty and completeness of understanding at every step of an explanation. In contrast, math types were willing to hold their minds open in a passive way while someone explained some new and unfamiliar math concept to them, and their thinking did not panic and convulse into irrationality or forgetting while being loaded up with defined terms whose ultimate purpose and interrelation was not yet evident at the moment. I suspect that the difference may have to do with the fact that humanists know they are not good at math so they are constantly insisting on getting their bearings as the explanation unfolds, while math types know they will eventually get it so they are more calm. If that's the case, then the brain difference between humanists and math types is just a symptom, not a cause, of their differing aptitudes. I think that people don't play lotteries on the mistaken reasoning that lotteries are a sensible investment overall. Instead, they are just hoping to be lucky, since their dead-end lives leave no other chance for dramatic improvement. There is a certain logic to playing the lottery if you know you are stupid or untalented, since then you take a chance on your luck, which is identical with that of everyone else playing the game, rather than on your intelligence or talent, which put you at a competitive disadvantage. An MIT professor who is a friend of mine always plays the Massachusetts Lottery on the theory that it is a negative insurance. With regular insurance, you pay an insurance company a fee to protect you against improbable catastrophes, and since the company charges you more than their service is worth to make a profit, your buying insurance is to that extent irrational. With a lottery, you are inversely buying, for more than it is worth, a chance that something extraordinarily good will happen to you, and for this you are also paying the company organizing the system enough for its profit. So buying insurance and lottery tickets are both equally rational, though in opposite senses.
  21. You can now apply online to many European medical schools, and they are all astonishingly cheap compared to U.S. schools, except for Ireland and Britain. As I said, I went to med school in Germany for $30 a year, not the $40,000 a year you hear about today for U.S. med students. Sure, it costs a little more to get there and live there, but that's trivial compared to the fees. Getting a residency in the U.S. if you graduate offshore is really a matter of the quality of the school you attend abroad. Berlin has a few more Nobel Prize winners than the Universidad Medico del Este in the Dominican Republic. But why worry about getting back, when medical practice is much more conceptually open to independent thinking, as well as much more humane because of the lack of user fees, in Europe than it is in the U.S.?
  22. Though the point is often made that historical wages and prices are not closely comparable with modern prices, since we are comparing two entirely different forms of society. One Prussian government memorandum from 1825 recorded a discussion among government officials about hardships caused by the inflation of the time, and their conclusion was that so little of the economy was a money economy as opposed to barter or donations required by custom (e.g., the town minister had to be provided with fire wood for free) that the currency deflation would not affect people that much. Similarly, in a world where medical care cost almost nothing by today's standards, the significance of the relatively high cost of clothing (Marx was sometimes confined to his house because he had to pawn his clothes to raise cash, something that would make no economic sense today) would have to be discounted -- to name just one incommensurability between costs, prices, and living standards between today and yesterday.
  23. Ideally you should try to find a way either to assemble your own capital to back your ideas with some enterprise of your own, so there would be nothing to limit the impact of your talents. A second-best option might be to recruit investors for your plan and with their funds establish your own business to let your ideas have their proper effects, but in this case your investors might limit your creativity by their natural conservatism. Still, as long as you were clear with them up front about what you intended to do, your investors might be a self-selected group of people who would be the kind of bosses you would like to have.
  24. I agree that if the population of the world had been increasing earlier then perhaps counterpressures against it would have become manifest sooner so that the world would have responded sensibly by trying to reduce population -- but then again, maybe it wouldn't have. The world's population is much larger now than it was in 1945, so that shows that we have not been dissuaded from reaching our present size, so if the absence of World Wars I and II had caused us to reach our present size significantly sooner, would we have acted to prevent it? If the development of pharmaceuticals had been slowed by the absence of the two world wars, the birth control pill probably wouldn't have been developed any sooner than it actually was in the 1960s, so a major force for restricting population growth would not have been available to address the earlier expansion of population. Also, if the two world wars had not given Third World countries the opportunity to shake free of their self-destroying European colonizers, perhaps the world would have had less empathy for the Third World's population growth and so less would have been done to restrain it. Or would the diminished empathy of a still-colonialist First World have decreased its interventions in the Third World to prevent starvation there and thus decreased population? In short, the puzzle is like Ray Bradbury's famous problem of the time-traveller who steps on a butterfy in the past and sets loose a concatenation of trivial events which result in his future home world being destroyed. As soon as we subtract two world wars from the history of the 20th century, all we can do is guess how all the resulting changes would have interacted. While I agree that there were countless horrible effects of the two world wars (I'm still schmitzing over the loss of Koenigsberg to the Russians of all people, who have the nerve to call the city Kant made famous 'Kaliningrad'!), all wars, as gigantic upheavals, have some good side-effects, even though they are generally negative on balance. E.g., without the American Civil War slavery would have lasted much longer in the South; without the Carthaginian Wars we might have inherited Carthage's tradition of baby-burning rather than the Roman Empire's legal and engineering wisdom; if the Austrian Empire hadn't defeated the Ottoman Empire and occupied Serbia in the 18th century, the famous scientific study of vampirism, published by Ranfft, 'Dass die Toten nicht Schmatzen in den Graebern' would never have appeared, etc.
  25. Somewhere in the Bible we are warned that the Devil may sometimes speak to us in the persona of an angel, and we know as well from the Old Testament that the pagan magicians who displayed their miracles in opposition to Moses before the Pharoh were able to achieve stunning feats. Putting these 'Biblical facts' together, we are led to the conclusion that both inner promptings of self-certain belief ('I know Jesus lives because he is in my heart!') and external miracles (raising the dead, turning a staff into a snake) are unreliable evidence as to whether the source of this magic or inspiration is human, divine, or diabolical. So why would God/Christ try to impress us with these devices which his supposed text warns us against accepting as reliable evidence? Raising the dead is often associated with the black arts rather than religion, and the Devil himself promises somewhere in the Bible, just as does Christ, that 'Thou shalt not surely die' (i.e., there will be everlasting life posthumously). But this seems suspicious right away, that both the embodiment of Good and Evil are making the same promise. The Christian Church has for many years forbidden or discouraged all forms of necromancy, so the fact that Christ seeks to prove his own divinity, not by pulling a rabbit out of his hat, but by pulling himself out of the grave ('ta-daah!') seems inconsistent with the anti-necromantic stance of his religion. There are ideas of the Devil existing in various forms which often merge with apparently divine forms. Gnostic theory posits that what we are preconditioned to recognize here in this defective realm with its warped logic as God is in fact the Devil, while the only route for us in our fallen state to the true God is to turn all our deviant thinking inside-out and embrace the irrational.
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