The Goat and the Koran

From the “The Goat Ate My Homework” department…

I was looking for one thing and, well, wandered… Frankly, I’m not sure now WHAT I’d started looking up. Oh, wait, it was Maqdad. On Al Jazeera they had an interview with a guy named Maqdad whose “clan” had kidnapped folks from another clan. He looked similar to some Celtic folks I’ve known in “look” ( basically European, but with that slightly more wrinkle look and something about the eyes that were more Irish looking…) so I’d wondered if Mac and Maq had any linguistic touchstone… but that is now ‘for another day’.

In trying to find out what Maqdad meant, or how it was broken down in Arabic, I ran into a page about the Koran. For those not familiar with it, Islam makes a pretty big deal about the Koran having been handed down straight from God and being absolute and pure. Not any error, omission, edit, or word out of place. Rather like the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. One of those cornerstones that simply MUST be swallowed whole for the rest to be accepted…

This is despite the fact that we know the Koran was assembled out of bits some many years after Mohamed had died. (The ‘bits’ are assembled in size order, as an example of this evidence). There isn’t any controversy about the assembly. The “when” and “who” are agreed.

So I run into this page that says “Um, maybe not so pure…”

Realize this like saying the Pope was wrong on the nature of Christ. ( Christology. Was Christ “just a man” and a prophet, like Mohammed? Was Christ a “Holy Man” and above others, the son of God, but distinct from God? Was Christ part of a single holy being “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”? Muslim, some Protestants, Catholic… such are the things that hundreds of years of slaughter and mayhem are made from… )

Chapter Twelve

The Perversion of Qur’an and

the Loss of Many Parts of It

On page 131 of his book, “El-Sheaa and Correction”, the contemporary Muslim scholar, Dr. Mosa-El-Mosawy, makes this frank confession,

“Those who adopt the notion of the perversion of the Qur’an are present among all different Islamic groups, but the majority of them come from the El-Sheaa scholars.”

Perversion of Qur’an is an unimaginable notion to the lay Muslim because the Scholars of Islam are hiding this truth from being published or becoming known.

Of course, we weren’t just satisfied with what Dr. El-Mosawy has already mentioned, but we went back to the most popular ancient scholars and to Muhammad’s relatives and companions to investigate this notion concerning the perversion and loss of several parts of the Qur’an because those are the trustworthy people regarding the history and development of Islam.

Upon examining the testimonies of these great companions, the answer was positive. They clearly stated that perversion and loss of large fragments of the Qur’an did occur. Let us scrutinize their testimony in order to present to deluded Muslims the truth as it is proclaimed by their trusted spiritual leaders and scholars. The deceptive veil must be removed so people can see the true face of the Qur’an.

’Ibn Umar al–Khattab explicitly admits,

“Let no one of you say that he has acquired the entire Qur’an for how does he know that it is all? Much of the Qur’an has been lost, thus let him say, ‘I have acquired of it what is available”’ (Suyuti: Itqan, part 3, page 72).

A’isha (also page 72) adds to the story of ibn Umar and says,

“During the time of the prophet, the chapter of the Parties used to be two hundred verses when read. When Uthman edited the copies of the Qur’an, only the current (verses) were recorded” (73 verses).

For those who do not know, A’isha was the spouse of The Prophet Mohammed. That’s kind of a ‘close connection’… She had a copy of the Koran that was one of the more, um, “proved”…

Many of these things look to be reasonably well attested. From what little I knew already, I can verify the compilation of the Koran and some of the persons listed in the page as to their role. These folks did their homework…

The Goat

I’m assuming it is a goat. Goats are not picky about what the eat. Goats are common in the Middle East. So “what about the goat?” Welllll…. seems that an an inopportune time a ‘domestic animal’ ate the homework… The Prophet Mohammed had just died. Things were a bit of a mess. “Stuff” happens…

Events Which Led To The Loss Of Some Verses

A Domesticated Animal Eats Qur’anic Verses

In his book (volume 8, part II, pages 235 and 236), Ibn Hazm says plainly,

“The verses of stoning and breast feeding were in the possession of A’isha in a (Qur’anic) copy. When Muhammad died and people became busy in the burial preparations, a domesticated animal entered in and ate it.”

A’isha herself declared that and she knew exactly what she possessed. Also, Mustafa Husayn, who edited and reorganized the book, “al-Kash-shaf” by the Zamakh-Shari, asserts this fact in page 518 of part 3. He says that the ones who related this incident and said that a domesticated animal ate the verses were reliable persons among them ’Abdulla Ibn Abi Bakr and A’isha herself. This same story has been mentioned also by Dar-al-Qutni, al-Bazzar and al Tabarani, on the authority of Muhammad Ibn Ishaq who heard it from ’Abdulla who himself heard it from A’isha.

Professor Mustafa indicates that this does not negate that the abrogation of these verses may have occurred before the domesticated animal ate them. Why then did ’Umar want to record the verse of the stoning in the Qur’an if its recitation was abrogated? And why did people used to read the verses of the breast-feeding? And, if Muhammad died while these verses were still recited who abrogated them? Did the domesticated animal abrogate them? It is evident that this really did occur according to the witness of the companions, Muslim scholars, and A’isha herself.

Oh Dear!

My View

There is a lot more at the link. Folks who are really interested in the history of the Koran ought to read it.

For me, the issue of Papal Infallibility and the idea of a Perfect Koran were always a bit of a stretch too far. In some ways, it is a bit of comfort to realize they had as much trouble keeping a pure copy of the original book as Christians have had keeping ONE clean copy of the Bible. Not until about 300 A.D. did it get canonized, and even then we’ve got disputes between Protestants and Catholics and Eastern Orthodox and Coptics about what goes in. Ethiopians have a slightly different version too. Oh, and the Gnostic Bible is yet another variation (and likely much closer to the Bible that was used by Mohammed in his teaching… that he used a ‘lost version’ is the basis of the Muslim repudiation of the current Bible as being unclean and impure.)

On the other hand, it is clearly a point that will cause a great deal of strife and heartburn for Muslim scholars. One INDISPUTABLE Koran is a keystone of The Faith and essential for generating the focus and energy of many followers; especially some of the more violent ones… Start letting in some doubt, even a little bit, and first thing you know, it will be like Christians; arguing over just how do you really know the nature of Christ?

So “refreshing” at the same time I can see it as an “Aw Shit” moment for Islam if folks start actually looking at that history and reading the writings of contemporary reporters.

All due to a Goat…

No wonder they eat them ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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70 Responses to The Goat and the Koran

  1. I see no useful purpose in agitating the “true believers” of any group. even AGW, unless their beliefs conflict with my life and my freedom to have different beliefs.

  2. BobN says:

    I think it prudent that everyone understand the teachings of Islam. I read the Koran and found their teachings to be incompatible with Western Civilization. The law they live by, Sharia, is not compatible with our laws. Do we live by two sets of laws? In my opinion Muslims should not be allowed to immigrate for this reason.
    I don’t want to start a religious argument, just telling everyone they should study and judge for themselves.

  3. Adam Gallon says:

    So nothing of intrinsic difference to The Bible!
    Both composed decades/centuries after the original composers died, the compilers putting their own spin on it, by selecting the items to include, interpretted by people with their own agendas.
    Take Christianity back the 600 years that seperate its & Islam’s founding and we’ll have a similar attitude of intolerance towards non-believers.
    Luckily (For us BobN), many Musilms largely ignore the Koran & the “purest” interpretations thereof.
    Think how awful it would be, if we in the “Christian” world were still ruled by the likes of the Pilgrim Fathers.

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    I largely use this site as my “notebook”. A place where I can put bits of interesting things I’ve found, along with links back to the source. In the past (pre web days) I just ‘learned things’ and moved on. Mostly from books that line my shelves. If I wanted to get to something again, I’d grab the book and start with the index…

    With web pages that doesn’t work. So I now put up postings and insert a link. I also have taken to writing down my observations. 3 reasons.

    1) I’m not going to be around forever. I’m hoping that some future years (decades?) my kids will be able to “find out what Dad was thinking / doing” and hear the voice of my long gone soul to some extent in my notes.

    2) I’m slowly becoming more normal. My nearly eidetic memory is less perfect now. So I’m making notes for the potential ‘future me’ who doesn’t remember what page of the encyclopedia that particular comment was on…

    3) Some folks find it entertaining to read what I write, and I enjoy that they like reading it. So I let others hang out here and watch me discover things.

    Notice that none of those is the typical reason for a blog. I’m not looking for “ratings” and don’t have any advertizing income. I’m not trying to impress anyone, nor even change folks minds.

    Also notice that “bother someone” or talk against someone’s religion is also not on the list. My purpose with this posting is largely #2. I’ve read a lot of the Koran and know something of the history of the creation of it; but didn’t know these bits. So I’m leaving a bit of ‘bread crumbs’ for me to follow back to that site, and for key word / name searches of other places; when the time comes to flesh out that historical understanding a bit more. Just a simple and pure interest in the real history of what happened at the moment of the creation of the Koran of today. Roughly the same as asking “What did they do at Nicea?” and what might that mean to the completeness of the Bible?

    As to someone taking offense at it anyway:

    Well, not much I can do about that (other than simply close up shop and stop posting public articles). Each person is responsible for their own emotional state. NO ONE can “make someone mad”. Each person chooses their beliefs and their reactions to the world around them. So must each person be 100% responsible for their own emotional state and reactions.

    So I will add some things that amuse me ( like the “no wonder they eat them ;-)” line) precisely because it amuses ME. Folks who are also amused by it ( who choose to be amused by it) are welcome to stay and enjoy more. Folks who are upset by it are best advised not to read it. (Or find ways to control their inner self better).

    In short: If someone wants to find offense, they can find it everywhere. I refuse to play that game. They are advised to look for interesting and more enjoyable things instead.

    Now that does get “pushed” when it comes to Islam just because THAT culture is exactly the opposite. All wound up in Moral Outrage and ready to pounce on any imagined slight. I refuse to ‘let others control my emotional state’ since ‘only I am responsible for my emotional state’. So if they choose to be upset at ME for my not being upset… well, nothing I can do about that as that is the consequence of how they choose their internal state…

    So you see, I’m not making ANY particular statement or any criticism with this posting. I’m just noting in my note book some interesting history of the development of the Koran (and having a little amusement at goats as I find goats funny…) Given that, how some other person might try to turn it into more-than-it-is isn’t really about me, or what I do… nor is it something I can have any control over at all. A fools errand.

    Heck, some folks get “agitated” if you say their name wrong or look them in the eye. (Oddly, others get “agitated” if you DON’T look them in the eye…) Some folks get “agitated” if you talk about them. Others if you don’t talk about them. And so it goes. So I can spend my life trying to build a table of all possible agitations and plans to avoid them; or I can just “make my notes for me in my notebook” and let others choose how they would like to feel…


    I read it and came to a similar conclusion about compatibility. Western Classical Liberalism (and modern Liberalism) are not compatible with Sharia.

    Frankly, they likely are not compatible with Strict Christianity either (!). If we followed Leviticus exactly a whole lot of folks would “have issues”…

    Don’t know how to “fix it”, though. I’m also not so sure which one is “better”…

    @Adam Gallon:

    Oddly, yes, Christianity of 700 AD would not be tolerable by most Westerners today.

    The Prophet Mohammed was a teacher of Christianity. He traveled around proselytizing Christianity from a Bible. It was only after his death that the Koran was assembled from his statements. The particular Bible he used was lost. The other ‘western’ Bibles were held to be ‘not the same’ so suspected / accused of blasphemy. ( Likely true from their perspective as the Catholics were busy stamping out sects like the Coptics and Gnostics and it may well be that Mohammed had a Gnostic Bible.)

    At any rate, that Bible was lost; and so the collected sayings were formed into the Koran. With known ‘issues’ like being in size order not date order or other reasonable order. (Makes the historical bits hard to follow ;-) Leaving his followers a bit rudderless. Do they try finding some OTHER Bible, perhaps a blasphemous one? Do they pick another from among themselves to start over? Or do they pool their records and write it all down?

    I think it was about 30 years later that the “approved” Koran was compiled. So not the 300 years of the Bible… but they were rough years it would seem.

    So the biggest difference was that Islam was more effective in ‘freezing’ their state at that point in time. Christianity as ‘evolved’ more.

    From a Muslim point of view, we have become more filled with sin and vice, more blasphemous.

    And they are right.

    Compared to the pious Christians of old we’re rampant sinners.

    Realize that “Conversion by the sword” was learned by the Muslims from the Christians.

    The first Jihadis with a self sacrificing ‘fight to the death’ where the Christian Knights. In large part they learned those methods of “total warfare” from Christendom.

    Look at the dress of nuns. Rather like classical Muslim women, no? Why? Because that is how early Christians dressed for modesty. (Heck, my Grandma was Amish and dressed not too much differently. Hair cover mandatory.)

    It’s a long list of parallels between old Christianity and Islam.

    So if you would follow The Book exactly, you would find yourself with women being covered, with a beard, not eating pork, refusing to have images in your churches and looking to do “conversion by force” … along with many other “alien” things that are in fact clearly prescribed behaviour.

    So not all that surprising that Muslims look at western modern Christians and say we must have a bogus Book. ( They don’t get much chance to read it, or they would figure out that The Book has not changed in 1700 years, we just don’t do what it says…)

    So what does the future hold? A “reformation” for Muslims as the rest of the world desires? Or a return to “Original Reading” of the Bible as some sects desire? Or will it all blow up in some ultimate Religious War between what ought to have been two divisions of the same People Of The Book?

    I have no idea. Well, really, I have a lot of ideas… just no way to chose between them ;-)

    So for now I’m just enjoying the vision of a desert tent, a village in turmoil as their leader passes, and a goat looking for a snack… and pondering just how much of history hinges on what the goat ate. (Is it, too, the reason for the loss of the Bible of Mohammed? Could all of the strife between Islam and Christendom come down to a goat eating that Bible, too? Strange the way hinge points of history work… How different would the world have been if Islam were based on BOTH the Koran and The Bible of Mohammed…)

  5. It seems to me that the proscriptions in the various Holy Books are mostly valid ways to make a society that worked at the time by avoiding conflicts between people and problems with food storage. With today’s situation, some of those may be valid still, but quite a few are going to be outmoded – necessary in the days when we didn’t have refrigerators and travelled by foot or on an animal, but not now. If The Way wasn’t good at the time, we would only be talking about it as a footnote of history, not as a current religion.

    Over time, the meanings of words change. Dictionaries are updated pretty frequently. If you use modern definitions of words for old texts you’re bound to misconstrue the meaning. If you then concentrate on very specific passages of words, you can conjure up a whole different meaning and can point to “The Book” as justification for doing all sorts of nasty things.

    I should look up the precise wording sometime, but does “Thou shalt not lay with an animal” mean that I’m a sinner for letting the cat sleep on my bed? Damned, we’re all Damned!

    There are various Scholars (Bible, Talmudic, Koran etc.) who argue over the precise meanings of words. This is bound to lead to confusion, given the mutability of language over even a short time. Things might be a little better without this nit-picking – seems OCD to me. That connects to Bill Clinton’s “that depends on what your definition of “is” is”.

    Did the goat have a major effect on history? Probably true. It’s both amusing and saddening at the same time.

    I for one enjoy these forays into the Law of Unintended Consequences.

  6. Beth Cooper says:

    Guess the goat eating the verses was a kind of black swan event.

  7. @E.M. Smith I admire you, in part, because you are politically incorrect at a time when that trait is more rare than a nugget of gold! Perhaps I too write near the end of life to leave future generations a warning – a warning that I now believe my research mentor – the late Dr. Paul Kazuo Kuroda – wanted to leave for his children.

    However many Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc may be our allies in the struggle to survive the alliance of Communists and Capitalists that now threaten the very survival of human dignity.

    Ordinary citizens have been betrayed by both political parties, since the United Nations was established on 24 Oct 1945, but this Republican-sponsored (?) video by High School students in San Diego has the same central conclusion as Climategate:

    “Voices Without A Vote”

    “Reclaim Your Birthright !”

  8. R. de Haan says:

    Oliver K. Manuel says:
    22 August 2012 at 5:08 am
    “I see no useful purpose in agitating the “true believers” of any group. even AGW, unless their beliefs conflict with my life and my freedom to have different beliefs.”

    The UN IPCC could do with some goats.

  9. R. de Haan says:

    The most used excuse in the agricultural parts of Holland: “The goat ate my homework”,

  10. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M: There is another possible disgression: “Maqdad” = MAC (son of) + DAD (father) ? , “Maqdad”= “Maldad” (evilness in spanish)?
    As for the “Infallibility” issue: If You affirm 2+2=4 you are being infallible, there is no other way of expressing a universal law: Being “Infallible”, speaking out “Ex-cathedra”, so every time you affirm or talk about a universal principle you are being “inffalible” and writing or speaking the words of God himself. What if somebody, out there, tells you: You are not infallible, 2+2 = 5!, o , worse, “The world is chaotic, you by definition cannot know that 2+2 equals 4!!” and in order to prevent any ulterior damage on the environment due to such affirmation of yours we should apply, ASAP, the “precautionary principle” and sue and send to jail all those who, believing themselves infallible dare to say that 2+2 equals FOUR!…Have you heard something more abominable?!!!

  11. Keith AB says:

    From my understanding there has been no claim of Papal Infallibility for several Popes now.

    That said all religions are just faith/belief systems and logic will never sway the believer. I must say that the way Pope Gregory ( IIRC ) had quite a neat way of achieving consensus on the composition of the Bible that I am sure many in the church of AGW would love to emulate. Dead men don’t disagree.

  12. Petrossa says:

    There is a school of thought (my ex father in law was a professor in theology) which holds that no verses where never lost, since the quran was never written as such.

    The theory goes, which i find highly probable, that judaic and christian tales where told around campfires due to the fact that most nomadic tribes where illiterate. Along the way this slowly congealed into a collection of orally handed down verses which incorporated the next to the inevitable mistakes (errors in repeating the old testament for example, which has been dated to 2000 bc) the cultural habits of the tribes.

    One day someone somewhere thought it would be a good idea to write them down, so he invited the persons known to have the most verses in their memory and had them written down. The first quran was made. Some selective editing may have taken place not unlike the construction of the bible as we know it. Hence the ‘lost’verses’. First of all because people just forgot them, second because the editor of the first copy left some out for reasons best known to him.
    The rest is history.

    What convinced me is the absurd high degree of similarity between orthodox muslims and orthodox jews in their overall view of the females role in society, their common hatred of anything not conform their beliefs, their easy use of violence, their basic beliefsystem, and their weird dresscode.

    To me haredi and salafists/wahabists are practically interchangeable but for the name of their deity.

  13. We need to focus on events like this: California’s Governor Brown just assured us NASA is still a leader in space science!


    a.) The USSR”s launch of Sputnik on 4 Oct 1957 threatened world domination.
    j.) Kissinger secretly visited China 9-11 Jul 1971; Agreed to dismantle US space program.

    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  14. Petrossa says:

    Wow. And he told me that about 15 years ago. He was an extremely well versed scholar, could read all ancient relevant languages. Had some pretty unpopular things to say about jezus to. Got him royally ostracized and put in a deskjob. He is an embittered old man now.

  15. Pascvaks says:

    When God made man and woman He did not chain them, or beat them with clubs and sticks, or cut off their hands or heads, or stone them to death because they failed to do something. The truth of those who claim to come from God and speak for Him can be seen in their actions. There is very little in any religion that comes from God. God did not create religion, He created mankind. Beware of fools and liers bearing gifts and chains and saying they come in the Name of God. God did not send them.

    PS: There’s a lot to be said for goats. Their milk is the closest to our own. Not much fat. Keep the weeds down. Good leather. You know, people have relied on goats about as much as dogs for their existance and upward progress the last 25K years. Goats are Great. (I’m a Goat. Capricorn;-)

  16. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks: Every system has its rules to work properly, that´s why there are antivirus. When you say 2+2=4 you are expressing a law implicit in cosmos which cannot be changed, no matter how “liberal” you are, all you are allowed is to get it wrong, and say for example: 2+2=4.5, but if you behave as changing any principle as this one, you won´t last too long….you´ll be “deleted” :-)

  17. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pasvacks: BTW, about man and woman…: You know…nature, to overcome fatal entropy, resorts to “life”, to reproduction, thus female cosmoses began to seem very, but very attractive to male cosmoses…the rest is history, or “cosmology”. Really, remember the Da Vinci´s drawing of man, extending his limbs as an “X”?, the center of the symbol “infinite”?:

    Yes, we are the center of the cosmoses, however we are not responsably (from “responsability”) conscious of it and thus we are disconnected from the highest and the lowest though, in principle, we have the possibility not only of reaching the knowledge of what we really are and why we are here. Thus the ancient Greek aphorism “Know thyself”, Greek: γνῶθι σεαυτόν speaks for itself.
    You know, as Hermes Trismegistus said: “As Above so Below”….a kind of Matryoshka doll:
    See?…There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  18. adolfogiurfa says:

    ….and the purpose of any real religion is RE:again, LIGARE= unite, and its purpose it is not to hurt anybody´s private dreams but, instead, to awaken us; and, to achieve that goal natural laws cannot be avoided: For example: In order to become a professional scientist, engineer, doctor or piano player, you need to make sacrifices, need to practice the related art for many hours daily…It does not come as a “gift” from above, from government or whomsoever, nobody gives anything for free: Maturity indicates what a child does not know: Laws are there and effort is unavoidable; how could we imagine that is is possible to tune a HF radio station with a MW receiver?…there is a law out there and there are levels of energy or frequencies to reach, before we can become a scientist, an engineer, a doctor, or a piano player…
    Of course, children do not like laws, however we parents know what they have to do to become grown up women and men.

  19. Pascvaks says:

    @Adolfo –
    When you were a boy, did you you go to a Catholic School, with mean little Nuns that looked like old goats, who carried and swung yardsticks that looked and felt like swords too?;-)

  20. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks: I went to a catholic school, but what I have just said I have learned it in 70 years of life and having visited many schools of thought. We are always at the start, at the beginning every time.

    BTW There were no Nuns at all :-)

  21. Pascvaks says:

    OH NO!!! You had Priests? Yuck! You had it real bad!
    You’re right, they do (did) prepare you very well to question everything, must have been something they dipped the nails in at the end of the yardsticks;-)
    PS: For those who have no idea what we’re talking about, there’s a lot of sarcastic humor here; like listening to two old fishermen at a bar after a few pints, don’t believe a word they say; they’re only ‘remembering’ the good old days of running the crazy obsticle courses of their youth.

  22. j ferguson says:

    Damn it. The reports on Koran content here are so at variance with my memory of the thing, that I’m going to have to read it again. Nuts.

    And this is not at all to suggest that any of you misread it.

  23. tckev says:

    For some reason, I’m not sure way, as I read this piece the immortal words of of that great philosopher Douglas Adams kept recurring in my mind.
    So I had to look up his famous, educational, and learned parable on the human condition – ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, from ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish’, the fourth book of the five book trilogy, and share it with you –

    “…And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.
    Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, and so the idea was lost…”
    Apparently when this was first broadcast in the UK on BBC radio in the 1970s, there were howls of protest from many and various religious types, protesting that this was blasphemous. I believe a BBC spokesperson at the time replied that it would have to be a very weak religion, and it’s followers very unsure, if it could be so easily slighted by such a gentle joke.
    IMHO any strength that a religion has is shown by its toleration and not the opposite.

  24. tckev – nice quote. The “Life of Brian” was also lambasted for being heretical, and also contained a lot of Truth.

    Pascvaks and Adolfo – at the time people were worrying about the safety of kids walking to school, an Irish comedian said that that was the part he was least worried about – his kids went to a Catholic school. The thing about comedy is that, even when it hurts to laugh, it’s seeing the underlying truth of the situation.

  25. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Simon: Yes, I then attended to enough masses worth of several reincarnations. :-)

    @Simon: IMHO any strength that a religion has is shown by its toleration and not the opposite…
    You are right. Reading the Nag Hammadi Library (the lost gospels found in Egypt) I have arrived at the conclusion that Mr.Peter not being satisfied with Mary (See the “Gospel of Mary”) leading the group of disciples while keeping the right way of “gnosis”, left it, with some of the men who really have not understood the matter at all, to make his entrepreneurship of a Church were “alms” were at the center of the new business, so they, among other niceties conditioned “salvation” only through the Church, and more precisely, through the intercession of the “officials” adecquately designed and instructed by himself. Since that time it works that way, while among “Gnostics” (“knowledge is possible to man”), which was anathematized and prohibited, men through special techniques and following universal laws could attain such a knowledge and understanding (not a simple enumerative and parrot-like knowledge), perfectly compatible with science as its goal was about the incarnation or the awareness of the laws of nature operating in man and the universe.
    Thus it was not surprise the declaration of the Pope, 24 hours before the Copenhagen Climate Summit fiasco in 2009, saying that “every good christian should sign the Copenhagen agreement”
    “Gnosis”-knowledge is possible for individual man (and easier if helped and reinforced by an “egregore”) in a proper “school”.

  26. BobN says:

    I don’t understand how knowledge works. When I was a kid everything was black and white and things were easy. I go to college and the gray starts slipping in. Over the years, reality hits you in the face and apposing views that make sense haunt you. As i get old, I find no absolutes and wonder what mankind would be like if everyone lived to be 200. What I argued for yesterday, I might just argue against today. Youth was so much simpler!
    Maybe we just need more goats!

  27. j ferguson says:

    BobN, We need a lot of goats. Bravo for the thought!

  28. p.g.sharrow says:

    I wouldn’t have a goat if you paid me. They are even worse to have around then sheep! The only good experience that I have had with goats was when I rented a barn and corrals to a “Goat Lady” and they were a mile away from my house. She took good care of her goats and she was the best man I ever hired. 8-) pg

  29. E.M.Smith says:


    There’s an odd “drift” in the “Holy Books” over time.

    For the Jews, the Torah is the Holy part, then some of the other books are mostly “good advice and history”. Like the Maccabees that is basically a history book. (Part of why, IMHO, it got ‘left out’ of the Christian Bible – not enough ‘religious significance’).

    Christianity started off with the Jewish books, and added some notes from the various Apostles. A lot of it really kind of mundane. Like the books that are Paul nattering at some of the churches about how they did business… But over time, folks have tried to read ever more “importance” into every single word. Even though a lot of it is is just the opinion of one or the other folks who hung out with that Jesus guy for a while… Still, today, for many folks ‘every word is sacred’…

    Islam picks up the trend and makes it more so. Even though the Koran was assembled from remembered scraps years after the passing of The Prophet Mohammed, it is held as perfect and a complete blueprint for life. Holy word, straight from God…

    Go back to things like Buddhism and there’s a fair argument about just how much it is a religion in the Western Christian or Eastern Muslim sense. More an understanding of reality, IMHO. (Part of what I find most attractive about it… it seeks answers… ) Sikhism is similar. Their “holy men” are called teachers. Their beliefs more “well thought out understanding” wrapped around a monotheistic core. (It is actually a rather attractive religion, if I didn’t have to learn to read a new language ;-) So it goes.

    IMHO, most of religion falls into 2 things:

    Trying to sort out the meaning of it all.

    Guidance about how to keep the peace in social order.

    Per the “definition game”: Not only do words change over time, but once a Religion gets rolling, all sorts of Pedants flock to it and start looking for ever more nuance in nothing… Listening to a preacher fabricate an hour sermon on Something Of Great Importance out of 2 verses that were really about something else entirely is “enlightening”… (I’m stewing on a posting about a sermon where they spent a couple of hours determining that women ought to be kept out of the top ranks of their ministry based on Timothy {some verse} that mostly said Timothy was not found of women minsters 2000 years ago… hardly a commandment from God… )

    At any rate, once it gets rolling, you end up with the Talmud (and the Muslim equivalent) and a Thousand Varieties Of Protestants Pontificating…

    (Yes, I recognize the ‘strain’ in that last one ;-)

    It was that effect that lead to Marin Luther and the Protestants saying they could read The Book for themselves, and lead me to build a library with the Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi Library, Gnostic Bible, Koran, a dozen versions of The Bible, and even copies of the earliest Latin and Greek versions… In the end, I found you can pretty much just read the New Revised Standard (or similar) and have it pretty much straight. Though I like the Peshitta best as I think it is the most accurate.

    @Beth Cooper:

    Cute, very cute ;-)


    Thanks! I’m just not willing to compromise Truth to expedience…

    FWIW, in my more paranoid moments I wonder things like “Is the present upheaval in the Muslim World being driven by instigators who are upset that they do not take ‘guidance’ from the Powers That Be…” So I, too, have thought that the world religions may well be the salvation of the world, even if not for the reasons they think…

    @Keith AB:

    Slowly the Catholics are moving into the post 1800 world… I last looked at it closely about 1965 or so when deciding which way to go (Dad being a Catholic).

    FWIW, while there is a fair bit of good advice in the Bible, it was looking at the Papal history that first put me onto the idea that things were a bit “off” in Catholicism…


    A lot of it comes down to teh more “orthodox” sects just being absolute stickers for no change. That puts them trying to return to 700 AD or 0 A.D. or 1000 BC… The world then WAS very sexist and “had issues’, so depending on when the particular book was written, you get “guidance” from The Wayback Machine…

    Part of what I find attractive about Druidism is that it is based on a more egalitarian social norm. There were women Druidesses. In the Celtic society, women could own property and be national leaders, raise armies and go to battle leading them. And did. There were something like 8 different kinds of marriage contract… Depending on who had the most property and were they mixing it or not. So She might decide to have a marriage of a few years to ‘some guy’ but not share her property… Use the “Boy Toy” without diluting her holdings ;-) Then move on. Really a much more sane system in many ways.

    In many ways, our “Modern Social Norms” that are in conflict with Orthodox Islam and Judaism and Christianity are in fact Very Old Celtic Norms; and the conflict has been going on for a few thousand years…. The role of women being a stellar example.

    Your description of the formation of the books is about right. Just there were not a lot of people who could write then, and often memory was more reliably preserved than books. (Water, rot, goats and all…)


    Very interesting link. I’d come to a similar conclusion, but it’s nice to see ‘scholars’ doing the same. Mohammed existed, and proselytized from a Bible (either the Gnostic or Peshitta IMHO though possible Coptic) and did some amount of “adapting” to the Arab world. When he died, the Bible he used was lost, and the other ones from the West were not trusted, so his saying of what had been in his Bible and his ‘adaptations’ were collected (by whom is more or less known, or at least assigned to a known writer) some decades after his death. That became the Koran. Only then did the process of ginning it all up to divine perfection begin, IMHO.

    Rather like the way the Apostles are now held as High Holy Authority with folks pouring over Mark, Luke, Matthew, Peter, etc. and hanging on every nuance… far more than intended by the authors…


    I drink a fair amount of goat milk (since I have to avoid cow milk or the joint hurt…)

    Firs week or two it tasted kind of funny. Then I got used to the richer flavor. Now cows milk tastes strange and ‘not very good’… Oh, and guess why children like sweetened milk? Because human milk has higher levels of milk sugars in it…

    I wanted to get a couple of pigmy nubian goats, but the spouse wouldn’t let me… so I have rabbits instead…. Still hoping ot get a dinky midget goat some day. I think them interesting and fun…

    BTW, I’d suggest looking into some religions such as Sikhism and Buddhism and such before condemning all religions as evil chaining and beating sorts. It’s a much bigger world than “the big three” and most of them are less, er, ‘violent’…


    IMHO, that’s one of the basic purposes for all religions. To find a way to unite ourselves with an understanding of our universe…

    @J. Ferguson:

    I couldn’t get through the whole thing. About 1/2 way through I started skipping around. Then I found out it was in ‘size order’. Now I think I’d start at the back (largest, thus more complete, suras) and work to the front…


    Always liked that opening to the book… ;-)

    Yes, IMHO, any religion that can’t stand a little friendly competition with the neighbor is a pretty lousy one.


    Ohhh! Nice one ;-)


    I’m rather more partial to the Gnostic view myself. The whole idea of needing someone else to think for me and find understanding or salvation for me never did sit right…


    While I agree we need more goats, I don’t think they iix the problem.

    When you start off, you have a small understanding, so it is easier for it all to be self consistent (thus comfortable).

    As you learn more, you find more ‘exceptions’ and ‘edge cases’ where things don’t fit in the nix little box of One Simple Rule. Then you realize you really do need to ‘make it up as you go along’ adjusting to each circumstance.

    Lawyers and Religious Leaders tend to get stuck in the first paradigm and think if they can just make enough Iron Clad Rules and force everyone to follow them, things will be better. The rest of us try to get on with the business of living in a very complex and evolving world despite them….

    BTW, I think that same tendency is why Capitalism with its Emergent Behaviour and constant flux always beats out Communism with its Central Planning and rule based control structures. You simply never can write enough regulations to cover all the conditions, and if you do, they smother any change and growth; leading to collapse. Wise folks recognize that. The rest run for office…

    @J. Ferguson:

    Maybe what we need is an official Goat Corps that is allowed to wander through the National Law Library munching 5% of all Law each year. It would give congress something to do and help reduce the burden on the rest of us in the process…

    Or maybe we need the Goat Party. One Plank: Each year we will repeal 10% of the extant Law and Regulation (and hope that keeps up with the new stuff being cranked out…)

  30. E.M.Smith says:


    You don’t ‘have them around’, you put them about a mile away from the house, down wind!

    But they are tasty… especially roast with some garlic, onions, and roots…

  31. Petrossa says:

    About Buddhism, if the violence by which it’s tenets are a measure of how an ideology is a religion then Buddhism is a religion whose violent oppression of other religions bears a striking resemblance to Islam.

    Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth


  32. Petrossa says:

    Should read:
    , if the violence by which its tenets are ENFORCED is a measure of how an ideology is a religion

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    So if any one subset, no matter how small or what dinky island they are stuck on, has any violent behaviour, then the whole of the religion is tarred? Interesting approach…

    Personally, I’ll stick with the 90ish% that thinks it evil to take a life, even an insect, as being more representative…

    Similarly, the Sikhs have a military tradition, but it is NOT one of “conversion” but rather of self defense. (Largely due to Islam trying to insist that they convert… and / or be dominated).

    In that case, I don’t hold the religion as “evil” for advocating self defense. I look at the tenets of the religion. It is an accepting and “nice” religions, generally. Not “pushy” and generally of a “live and let live” sort. But attack them and they reserve the right to self defense.

    That isn’t a failure of the religion, it is a natural right of living beings.

    If you are looking for the belief structure that has zero violence ever, you will not find it. Atheism is worse in that regard. (Look at what our officially atheist government is doing every night on the nightly news…)

    So don’t attribute to religion that which is adequately explained by raw human nature. Comparing Buddhism to all the rest, the tendency to violence and killing is dramatically reduced. (Modulo the Tamils and the Japanese Shinto.)

    No, it can not cure all violence in the world; but it is a work in progress toward that end. Unlike some other belief structures that are pushing violence…

  34. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “I wanted to get a couple of pigmy nubian goats, but the spouse wouldn’t let me… ”

    Hmmmm…. perhaps if you got a couple of pigmy nubian wives, they would let you have a goat! :)

    No! Just kidding! I can see problems with that, ethical, pragmatic and legal! Better to just buy some goat milk.

  35. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: But they are tasty… especially roast with some garlic, onions, and roots…
    Not forgetting some “Rocoto” (red hot pepper)…

  36. adolfogiurfa says:

    Let´s turn the issue around: What about the DEVIL/DEVILS?….we know a few, ya know…they, by definition, present to us fallacies as truth, things that will harm us as good, etc.,etc. and easily get a lot of useful fools as followers..
    And, they have all kinds of fallacies, even for the coolest and cutest from Academia: One of their proclaimed “truths” is that the Universe is a chaotic place, so there are no laws, principles or whatever, so we are FREE…..TO BECOME their slaves, their silent servants, thus we put our lives and wallets to their reach, without any complaint.
    As far as I know they don´t have any TAILS, visible at least. They used to frequent places like London or NY City, but now, being increasingly worried about their health, have migrated to China and other former “third world” countries.

  37. adolfogiurfa says:

    Aha! that´s why THEY have been historically compared and depicted as GOATS!

  38. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.:…..and you want to ROAST them!? :-)

  39. Pascvaks says:

    Ahhhhh yes, GOAT! The World’s Most Consumed Red Meat!!!
    “The taste of goat kid meat is similar to that of spring lamb meat;[35] in fact, in the English-speaking islands of the Caribbean, and in some parts of Asia, particularly Pakistan and India, the word “mutton” is used to describe both goat and lamb meat. However, some compare the taste of goat meat to veal or venison, depending on the age and condition of the goat. Its flavor is said to be primarily linked to the presence of 4-methyloctanoic and 4-methylnonanoic acid.[36] It can be prepared in a variety of ways, including stewing, baking, grilling, barbecuing, canning, and frying; it can be minced, curried, or made into sausage. Due to its low fat content, the meat can toughen at high temperatures if cooked without additional moisture. One of the most popular goats grown for meat is the South African Boer, introduced into the United States in the early 1990s. The New Zealand Kiko is also considered a meat breed, as is the myotonic or “fainting goat”, a breed originating in Tennessee.”

  40. j ferguson says:

    “fainting goat” ?? do they live downwind from Jack Daniel’s place?

  41. Pascvaks says:

    @ J-
    As paranoid as folks are I can’t see that there’s much of a future for this little guy;-)
    “A fainting goat is a breed of domestic goat whose muscles freeze for roughly 10 seconds when the goat feels panic. Though painless, this generally results in the animal collapsing on its side. The characteristic is caused by a hereditary genetic disorder called myotonia congenita. When startled, younger goats will stiffen and fall over. Older goats learn to spread their legs or lean against something when startled, and often they continue to run about in an awkward, stiff-legged shuffle… The myotonic condition is strictly muscular, and does not involve the nerves or the brain.[6]”

    And you’re right, they are ‘down wind’ kind’a sort’a if the wind is out of the North;-),_Tennessee
    “More state governors have hailed from Marshall County than any other county in Tennessee, giving the county the nickname “Mother of Governors.” Marshall County also is home of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association. Another native of Marshall County is the fainting goat. To celebrate this unique breed, the county holds an annual festival known as Goats, Music and More drawing visitors from around the world.”

  42. Petrossa says:

    “So if any one subset, no matter how small or what dinky island they are stuck on, has any violent behaviour, then the whole of the religion is tarred? Interesting approach…”

    True if it were true. However buddhism has a long pervasive history of violence all over the place.

    And that was not the point i was making, the point was that religious fervor of any kind lays at the root of most of mankinds strife. Buddhism not excluded.

  43. E.M.Smith says:


    Pol Pot killed about 3 Million for an economic ideology, not a religion.
    Stalin killed about 20 Million for an economic ideology and political power, not a religion.
    Mao killed untold millions for an economic ideology and political power, not a religion.
    The Japanese in China killed untold millions for an ideology and land grab, not a religion.
    Hitler killed 6 Million (give or take) Jews and a large chunk of Roma and others for genetic fantasies; plus untold millions soldiers died for “Living space” on the Eastern Front, not a religion.
    Napoleon killed untold millions for power and empire building, not a religion.
    The USA has killed untold millions (W.W.I, II, Korea, Vietnam, “War on Terror”) for non-religious reasons. That was after the largest death record in our history in the Civil War, not for religion.

    I think you have a hobby horse you are determined to ride.

    People have a very long history of massive killing for reasons having nothing to do with religion. One of the more common causes is just grabbing land and resources or subjugation for tribute.

    Look at Genghis Khan (who mostly wanted tribute and left folks religion alone) or Alexander The Great (who also didn’t care much about religion – even to the point where some of his generals ended up Pharaoh and head of the Egyptian religion….

    Look at the Russian Czars domination of Muslim areas that were left Muslim (as long as they did as told and payed tribute, er, taxes). Look at the wars between the Maya tribes that were essentially the same religion. Look at the … well, you get the idea…

    Most wars are about power and resources. Some are religious ( Crusades, Islamist Expansion) but more are things like the Libyan civil war or present Syrian civil war – both Muslim on Muslim and more about power than religion).

    So I think it is more often that religion gets used as a “prop” inside a real battle for resources and power…

  44. Petrossa says:

    I see it exactly the inverse actually. (PolPot and such dids peanuts compared to what religion did in. )
    I can make a good case that religion is an ideology and vice versa. Well anybody could.
    And there is a case to be made that religion drives power madness. Religion taps straight into the most basic elements of the brain.

    It’s a kind of shortcut between ratio and emotion. Wrote some idea’s on it and together pretty well explain how religion drives humanity’s more base tendencies.

  45. Is there a third way? I see it as leaders deciding what they want to take over/subjugate and giving religious reasons to the populace in order to get the followers to do it. If you can put a “religious need” gloss on a simple robbery, unfortunately a lot of people will be swayed and support it.

  46. Petrossa says:

    You need to be receptive to religious reasons in order to follow up on them. Personally i am not, and no leader could make me do things for religious reasons. Good or bad. Religion works as a channel overriding reason and directly addressing the limbic system.

    Religion and ideology (imho) are one and the same thing. The latter is just a religion without a deity but utilizes the same mechanisms.

    Therefore people can do the same horrific deeds in the name of an ideology as a religion. No sane person would stone a woman to death. No sane person would do a PolPot on a nation.
    But nonetheless all these people where/are sane by any common standard.

    So not being insane they commit insane actions. Only one way to account for this: Ratio is overridden via a backdoor to the limbic system.

  47. Quoting from memory here, Napoleon said that around 1 in 20 people were leaders, and the rest were followers. Overall in my experience I’d agree with that. You’ve probably also seen the experiments where ordinary people were told by people in white coats to inflict what they thought was severe to fatal electric shocks to a hidden other person – put up an authority figure and in general people will obey. I can’t remember the percentage they quoted there, but IIRC was also around 95% of people.

    Note also the riot situation, where ordinary people do things they would not normally do – crowds react differently to thinking individual people. I think this is what you mean by ratio(nality) being overridden.

    Soldiers who don’t advance into bullets from the enemy tend to get a bullet in the back instead. This also might apply to the stoning situation – not joining in with the others might make you yourself a target next time. Killing one member of the group who has been shown to be a danger to the cohesion of that group may be overall a positive in the survival of that group in harsh circumstances – sexual problems and jealousy have always been very divisive. I’m not condoning it, just trying to see a reason for this – not something I’ve thought of much before since it’s not in my experience.

    If I understand the semantic baggage that comes with the word “ideology” correctly, I’d agree that it’s a religion without a deity. Yesterday there was the sentencing of Breivik in Norway – terrible things done in the name of ideology and he was regarded as “sane” for legal purposes.

    We need a lot more goats.

  48. j ferguson says:

    Man is walking through village toward market. He happens on group preparing to stone woman “taken” in adultery. He pushes through the crowd. Upon reaching the woman, he turns and facing the crowd says “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    A stone soars over the crowd and strikes him in the forehead.

    “Oh, mother”

  49. Petrossa says:

    Simon, yes i’ve seen the experiment. The original one from the 60’s and the later one. I have a lot of reservations about them. The circumstances weren’t exactly ‘natural’, in my mind it was to out there to be a valid representation about ‘normal’ behavior.

    But follow the leader is obviously deeply ingrained in our brains, it’s again that blasted pre-historic system we have in common with other primates.

    To me that doesn’t account for the whole horrific acts mess. Stoning is voluntary, you can either join in or not. It’s usually a small group doing the deed and a crowd of onlookers. Only in really tiny villages peer pressure could be an argument.

    Breivik is very sane, sane to a point that he took the extreme consequences of his thoughts and accepted the outcome. Some interesting points about Breivik here:

    There won’t be enough goats

  50. Pascvaks says:

    “The root of all evil is Human!” Indeed, we might conjecture, there wouldn’t be any evil without Humans.
    ‘Religion’ is a human word for a general concept, it attempts to name, and by various definitions define, something that –as far as we know– is uniquely human. When we cram too much into a definition, it becomes less definitive and more and more meaningless. To say that religion is the root of all evil ignores a few billion humans in the room who know a little about life, and people, and have their own ideas about what makes people tick. Verily, verily, again I say, “The root of all evil is Human!”;-)

  51. adolfogiurfa says:

    Again: If we think we can be liberally “free” from any principles or measures, just try to make 2+2 don´t equal 4, like stop eating, breathing, or, worse, stop receiving any impressions (sight, odor, sound and touch) from outside, no one will last but a few nanoseconds: We are tied to natural laws, which, btw, can be called God´s laws or whatever. There is no chaos at all but in the chaotic psyche of some idealogues.

  52. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks: The root of all evil is NOT human nature but IGNORANCE!

  53. Pascvaks says:

    @Adolfo –
    OK! The root of all evil is ignorance? I have no problem with that. Though not specifically stated, ‘nature’ is very much understood to be inherently ‘ignorant’ and ‘amoral’. While the words “Human Nature” traditionally suggest something better and higher, such assumptions only make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. (or “It is Human Nature for humans to ASSUME humans are better and higher than all other life forms, therefore human nature makes an ASS out of U and Me;-)

  54. Pascvaks says:

    PS: I’m very much assuming you understand that I’m talking about the collective ‘us’ (the species) and not ‘u’ and ‘me’ the eaches — I never thought I was very evil, and I never thought you were evil either, but I’ve know many an ‘evil’, and I’ve been ‘tempted’, and I admit I wasn’t always as strong as my poor dear sainted mother would have hoped I’d be in such circumstances; the world is indeed an evil place, and I’ve noticed that whenever I came upon evil there were people there; they were also present too when I felt I was closest to the best in man (collectively speaking). I’m thinking right now that there’s a little more to evil, and it’s root, than ignorance –there’s some chemistry down there too;-)

  55. E.M.Smith says:


    I think you have an exceptionally narrow and broken view of religion. That some people do horrible things in the name of religion is just not relevant. A lot of folks do horrible things without any need to appeal to religion. The necessary conclusion is that a lot of people do not think effectively no matter what the context. The Communist countries declared that religion was not valid, and proceeded to kill millions “for the state”. Hitler tried to trump up a new mythology to replace religion, and killed millions for greed, a racial theory, and ‘the state’. You choose to ignore such events with a wave of the hand.

    So who would kill someone (like stoning) without religion? Well, look at the history of “rational justice” around the world…

    The simple fact is that many folks are inherently cruel, stupid, or both. When they get power, by any means, bad things happen. Religions is just another means to power for them.

    One the other side, there are a great many folks who explore religion as a way to answer some of the more fundamental (and often least answerable) questions of life; yet do not harm. I would assert that most religious folks are in that group. Clearly religion alone does not lead to mayhem.

    Equating ideology to ‘religion without a deity’ is a weak rationalization. So you would assert that Communism is a religion? That National State Socialism is a religion? That there is no dividing line between religion and political systems? That’s a necessary consequence.

    So your ‘answer’ to the non-fit of religion with the greatest death processes in our recent history is to change the definition. OK, I choose not to play “redefinition games”.


    You are on the right course, right up until you accept the “redefinition dodge”. It is an inherent property of people, especially in crowds, to be irrational and easily led. Doesn’t need religion to do that, nor to cause them to kill. Heck, I’ve known people who like to kill things because they enjoyed it. Most of them were not religious.

    @J Ferguson:

    That’s about it. Look at what Chimps do in the wild. They will sporadically pick out one chimp and kill them. Not often, but a mob will kill them, biting off toes, fingers, genitals, and blinding them. That is the genetic root of “mob violence”. Religion has nothing to do with it.


    IMHO, most religions start out trying to get past those base failings of our nature and to better understand the greater mysteries of life. Only later does a professional clergy develop that tries to pervert that into self aggrandizement and political leaders perverting it into a means of social control. That is not the fault of religion, but of the people…

  56. Petrossa says:

    Thank for you value judgment but my view is neither broken nor narrow. Actually its quite broad having spent years with my father in law, Professor in theology. If anything my view is broader then the overwhelming majority of the population due to my having studied various religions in depth because of my f in law.

    Your chimp story actually reenforces my pov, namely that religion is a shortcut between reason and the limbic system. (Chimps also hunt monkeys with spears, just like we do btw)
    Chimps do those things because they lack the control structures we have. That is what makes them chimps and us humans.

    However, there are ways to directly influence the same brainstructures, and i think i made a good case in my articles on how religion is one of them.

    Would you have read my insights you would have realized that ‘humans’ don’t do much, but the brain does a lot. That ‘we’ are just in the backseat having a some modicum of control but that in the end its our ancestral primate brain that calls the shots leaving the ‘we’ trying to find an explanation why its body did what it did.

    No its NOT people (as in we consciousness beings) that do those things. That only works for people with ASPD.

  57. Pascvaks says:

    @Petrossa: We are driven by our nature. We are rarely in control. hummmmmm…. OK! You sound like an angel looking down from a very high place. I’ve done that myself, manytimes. I guess one of my favorite examples is one I’ve used off and on here at EM’s Place: “What if we could become ants (or whatevers) and live the life of a lower life form, and when it died we reverted to our higher human form, what would we think of the experience? You do sould like you’re stepping outside of yourself and looking back. So.. OK!

  58. Pascvaks says:

    @Petrossa: “sould” sound;-)
    I’m getting worse, aren’t I? I do proof; a quick glance and ‘enter’; but the link between my eyes and brain keeps shorting out. One more little thing about brains, and speaking from personal experience, we are soft wired, very softwired. People think (I did once;-) that “I am me”. We aren’t. We’re the ‘tip of an iceberg’. We consciously think ‘we are who we are’ but the conscious us is, I believe, a very small piece of ‘who we are’. I’ve had the experience, on a number of occassions, of Left Brain short-out and I then only have Right Brain functions. My ears hear, my eyes see, my nose smells, everything works head to toes, everything but ‘language’ and whatever; my brain ‘knows’ but I am unable to form ‘thoughts’ and ‘words’ or communicate or understand what others say. I somehow ‘know’ that a STOP sign means stop; it’s the color and shape of it, the wordless command to stop is there, it’s instinctive. I somehow ‘know’ what the traffic light is ‘saying’. I can drive, eat, walk, sit, everything but form words and understand sounds and read. Right Brain is primal, instinctive, reactive, thoughtless, and I’ve been there many times. Left Brain is what we normally think of as ‘who we are’. We are so much more than we think we are;-)

    PS: They only lasted a few seconds; meds do the trick of keeping me ‘human’;-)

  59. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks: That´s a task for your next reincarnation: “Know thyself”….

  60. Petrossa says:

    Your brain doesn’t need you to do what it does. You are an abstraction, a happenstance created out of the massive datastreams flowing. The way unconsciousness is induced is by limiting the dataflow. That’s how the meds for anesthesia work.

    You only know things after they happened, but the brain tricks you into thinking you know it at the same time.

    Gazzaniga has proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt in the 60/70’s with open skull experiments. He measured a minimum time 0.5 sec to max 1 sec between the brain performing an action and the patient being conscious of it.

    Which stands to reason. The consciousness isn’t necessary for everyday interfacing with the environment. So it gets the filtered data afterwards, to prevent it from getting overwhelmed. Try and drive a car consciously, that is do every act needed to control the car by rational thinking.

    You’ll get a few 100 yards before freaking out.

  61. Pascvaks says:

    @Petrossa –
    I hear, I think, what you’re saying. But your example of ‘the brain’ being an independent operator is a little like saying each of our organs are too, and it’s all just a chemical process on auto-pilot; and it is; and, as you say, if we didn’t have our auto-pilot(s) we wouldn’t have time to be anything but a self-absorbed, walking, talking bio-machine; which we are, but aren’t we a little more? Something’s missing..

    “You only know things after they happened, but the brain tricks you into thinking you know it at the same time.” Yes, but couldn’t you argue that we don’t need to be looking at the guages.. couldn’t you say “We have tricked the brain into thinking that we know all that’s going on at the same time it does, that there’s a conscious difference of opinion as to what’s important, that ‘I'(me) am in control here, not ‘you’ the brain).”?

  62. Petrossa says:

    The brain is a collective of multiple neural networks, most preprogrammed via genetics, the rest filled in by the environmental feedback. Always makes me cringe to see Nature versus Nurture debates. There is no Versus. It’s both in a continuous feedback loop.

    As the body got more complex, nodes got evolved with it in the brain to handle that. Evolution doesn’t reinvent, it builds on old stuff. As the collective grew another node become necessary to coordinate the lot. The spawn of the storyteller was formed.

    The storyteller is the continuous collation, extrapolation and processing of events. Since the auditory cortex can be activated from within as from without you get an inner voice. That’s your storyteller telling you the story of your life.

    (Un)fortunately the storyteller has only limited access to all that the brain is up to, so many times it has to invent a reason why the body did something. And it can come up with some real doozies.

    Extensive experiments with split-brain patients have conclusively shown this phenomenon to take place. For example, when you hold an instruction up to a split-brain patient so only it’s right hemisphere can read it, the instruction gets acted out. The right hemisphere is quite literal.

    If you after the instruction has been carried out ask the patient why he did what he did, the storyteller which is in the other hemisphere has really no clue, it couldn’t see the instruction. So it makes up an explanation.

    Instruction: stand up and walk to the door.
    Patient does as told.
    Question: why did you walk to the door?
    Answer: oh, i just wanted to stretch my legs.

    Fascinating stuff

  63. E.M.Smith says:


    You are welcome.

    At it’s core, the place where we diverge, and where you have IMHO an error, is in changed definitions you chose to use. “Religion without a deity” is NOT ideology, but secular spirituality.

    Whilst the terms spirituality and religion both relate to a search for an Absolute or God, and thus have much overlap, there are also characteristic differences in their usage. Religion implies a particular faith tradition that includes acceptance of a metaphysical or supernatural reality;[8]:22, whereas spirituality is not necessarily bound to any particular religious tradition. Thus William Irwin Thompson suggest that “religion is the form spirituality takes in a civilization.”

    Those who speak of spirituality outside of religion often define themselves as “spiritual but not religious” and generally believe in the existence of different “spiritual paths,” emphasizing the importance of finding one’s own individual path to spirituality. According to one poll, about 24% of the United States population identifies itself as spiritual but not religious.

    Further up it says:

    Spirituality is belief in an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop an individual’s inner life. Spiritual experiences can include being connected to a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self; joining with other individuals or the human community; with nature or the cosmos; or with the divine realm. Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life. It can encompass belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world.

    Traditionally, many religions have regarded spirituality as an integral aspect of religious experience. Among other factors, declining membership of organized religions and the growth of secularism in the western world have given rise to a broader view of spirituality. The term “spiritual” is now frequently used in contexts in which the term “religious” was formerly employed; compare James’ 1902 lectures on the “Varieties of Religious Experience”.

    Secular spirituality emphasizes humanistic ideas on qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others[8]:22, aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialist view of the world, without necessarily accepting belief in a supernatural reality or divine being. Spiritual practices such as mindfulness and meditation can be experienced as beneficial or even necessary for human fulfillment without any supernatural interpretation or explanation. Spirituality in this context may be a matter of nurturing thoughts, emotions, words and actions that are in harmony with a belief that everything in the universe is mutually dependent; this stance has much in common with some versions of Buddhist spirituality. A modern definition is as follows:

    “Spirituality exists wherever we struggle with the issues of how our lives fit into the greater scheme of things. This is true when our questions never give way to specific answers or give rise to specific practices such as prayer or meditation. We encounter spiritual issues every time we wonder where the universe comes from, why we are here, or what happens when we die. We also become spiritual when we become moved by values such as beauty, love, or creativity that seem to reveal a meaning or power beyond our visible world. An idea or practice is “spiritual” when it reveals our personal desire to establish a felt-relationship with the deepest meanings or powers governing life.”

    The psychology of religion uses a variety of metrics to measure spirituality

    Were you to say that ideology is a tool for social manipulation to make people do what they would not otherwise do, I would have no disagreement. BUT when you expand the definition of Religion to equate all the evil ideologies with it, and then assert that it is the fault of Religion that people do evil, you’ve got the definitions wrong. It simply has NOTHING to do with those things that make religion, religion. It’s the wrong word.

    Arguing over the rest of your thesis is pointless if the words are defined wrong.

    So I’m not going to waste time on it.

    In short: Yes, ideologies are used to manipulate folks behaviour (including the point about decisions being made below the conscious level). No, religion is not responsible for those ills. (Nor is it completely benign. As a subset of ideology, it can be subject to the same kinds of abuse as other ideologies, but that is not a characteristic assignable to religion as cause, but to human nature as exploitable by ANY ideology, religious or not.) In fact, Religions most often work to suppress and control those ‘urges’ (modulo the exceptions like Islam where the ‘urges’ are encouraged if directed outward).

    You also use the word “humans” in an odd sense. Somehow separating the conscious mind as “human” and the rest of the package as not. Human means the whole package to me. Brain, consciousness, body, the works. Not just a part. So to say that the common behaviours of chimps and humans supports the idea that religion CAUSES those behaviours in humans (though somehow ‘human-ness’ is the part that suppresses them) but not in chimps; is just so muddled as to be useless. We both do them for the same reasons. Religions often (though not always) try to suppress and control those behaviours (even though it can fail). Other more evil ideologies often try to fan and expand those behaviours. That is the root difference between good and evil; with religion mostly on the ‘good’ side.

    In short: Religion tries to be a force for good and suppress our base violent behaviours inherited from our common past with chimps (but sometimes, perhaps even often, fails). It is not causal of those behaviours. Belief in an all powerful God who will punish you for killing is not a very good way to stimulate killing… but a non-religious ideology of hate for others and denigration of the value of life can be.

    BTW, it doesn’t matter how much you talk with your inlaws if the words are muddled…

    On brain / self separation: Yeah, I’ve read that stuff. It “has issues”. Yes, to some extent our self awareness is “the readout”; but that ignores that the process under it is just as much “me” as any other part. So when did “I” decide to type “So”? IMHO that the brain HARDWARE has to take an action before it is manifested at the level of readout is just not surprising at all; and in no way means “I” didn’t do it. I AM my brain: hardware, software, and readout.

    So IMHO the thesis presented is about as unsurprising as saying the motor has to run before the car moves. Doesn’t mean at all that the car goes where it wants to go…


    Well, it varies by person. I’m “exactly balanced” right and left hemispheres and both ‘share’. I can do “no verbal thought” just fine (often needing to do that to solve a problem then do the laborious part of translating it to left brain words as a distinct step); yet can do left brain symbols just as easily. Either side can be ‘on’ or not for any given task.

    I don’t see it as a problem, but a feature, when I look at something and ‘understand without words’. (Though it can be annoying when I read something that doesn’t translate well from words to ‘just knowing’…)

    I have noticed that left brain folks often are surprised or worried when they have a ‘right brain moment’. I don’t know why nor really understand the worry. To me, it’s like swapping between speaking or typing. Just a slightly different modality. Visual / intuitive or verbal / analytical? Swap swap swap… Sometimes I go out of my way to “still the voices” and idle down the left brain. IMHO that’s part of what meditation does. Let the right brain ‘speak up’…

    The notion that if I’m driving a car or doing Karate and not “verbalizing” (even mentally) about it or “thinking” in abstractions about it somehow means “it isn’t me doing it” is just crazy talk. I’ve had a ‘kill shot’ aimed at someone and held it off based on a decision all inside fractional seconds. Nothing verbal. Nothing analytical. Still “all me”. It is a state most martial arts train to reach. Being able to integrate all you are and know “in a flash” and make the best decision. Again, that does not in any way say “I” didn’t do it.

    It is a peculiarity, IMHO, of the dominant left brain (right handed) culture to think that way. To them, only verbal linear thought is ‘them’ (for many). You can see that clearly here:

    “No its NOT people (as in we consciousness beings) that do those things. That only works for people with ASPD.”

    Yet verbalizing / conscious thought isn’t all of who we are, and we can integrate all our parts and be comfortable. But being non-verbal / right brained is not just an Aspe thing; it also works for the long trained Karateka, for the spiritualist doing meditation, for the athlete in mid competition, for the fighter pilot being ‘one with the plane’ and the sky. We all have within us the seed of whole brain thinking, just needs more nurturing in our left brain society…

    BTW, being “religious” or spiritual helps ;-)

    (IMHO, the best is a blend of the two. Right brain having ‘flash’ insights and gestalt understandings while the left brain does a ‘logic check’ on the symbol translation; just to make sure one didn’t leap off a cliff of enthusiasm without looking first ;-)

  64. Petrossa – I’m one of the unfortunate people who does have to drive a car by thinking what needs to be done to each control. It was a long time before I found out that other people go on to autopilot, and don’t need this level of conscious attention. Tying a shoelace, walking – things where I do actually need to think. Having a conversation when driving is not good, since I have to split attention. I can walk and chew gum at the same time, though. This “disability” is useful when it comes to reducing the amount of work to do a job, since I do know each thing I have to do.

    There does seem to be a lot of variation in peoples’ inner experiences – what it actually feels like to be conscious and alive. Consciousness is really not one size fits all.

    It seems to me that, in general, psychiatrists and sociologists rely on generalisations extrapolated from a subset of individuals….

  65. Petrossa says:

    I think i’ll pass on wikipedia’s definitions. Wikipedia, facts by consensus.

    To me ideology and religion only differ in that one has a deity and the other not. For the rest all the basic ingredients are the same. I see no difference between islam and communism in their makeup. They are both totalitarian ideologies.

    Human is a different package indeed. It’s a unintended byproduct of an overevolved primates brain. The basic primate is still there, fully functional. There is just an abstraction that springs to life due to the intense neural traffic. As such it’s not part of the whole, since it has no origin. Cut the dataflow and the human is gone, but primate always stays having an origin. A real hardwired reaction pattern.

    YOU are not your brain. YOU are an afterthought. Your brain acts, YOU fill in the gaps afterwards. When someone commits a heinous act in a rage, its the brain doing that, YOU are nowhere near it. YOU would never do that if you had full control of your body. (assuming you are sane and un braindamaged)

    You should read a very good clearly written book that goes into detail on the subject.

    As for hemispheric thinking i don’t hold much with that notion. The corpus callosum is so incredibly thick that when its intact you can’t speak of two different brains. They are one and the same in function. The back and forth communication is to intense to tell the difference.

    What does happen in for example HFA or Aspergers is that the CC is of a different structure leading to a different kind of human. But both hemi’s cooperate fully.

    My father frequently says: “I wish i could believe in a god, then i could just blame it on him and go on with my life. But i just can’t. I am jealous of those who can.”

    I concur with that. Religion is not a choice, if you can’t believe you can’t. Same for spirituality which, again, is to me exactly the same thing with a different name.

  66. Petrossa says:

    Simon, your experiences might or might not conform to some form of reality. Nobody can tell which is what. That goes for everyone on earth. But in general all healthy brains work in about the same way. If yours doesn’t that makes it an exception not a confirmation that the rule doesn’t exist.

  67. E.M.Smith says:

    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    a : the state of a religious b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

    Religion, sometimes used interchangeably with faith, is commonly defined as belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the practices and institutions associated with such belief. In its broadest sense some have defined it as the sum total of answers given to explain humankind’s relationship with the universe. Religion takes an almost infinite number of forms in various cultures and individuals, but is dominated by a number of Major world religions.

    The problem is not in the definition from wiki… I could list a dozen more, all substantially the same.

    When you start making up your own, novel, definitions and bending them to support your preconceived notions you don’t get very far, and certainly not places that are very useful…

    You have chosen a broken path, I refuse to follow and will not indulge further.

  68. Petrossa says:

    All you say confirms what i said, i am confused.
    Ideology is a religion without the deity. You say THE DEFINITION of religion is a religion because it has a deity.

    We are taking about the whole system here. The way a collection of ideas binds people and make them do things because of those ideas. Evidently when i say ideology is a religion without a deity and religion is an ideology with as deity i refer to the system, not the literal definition in the dictionary.

    Both are interchangeable if you leave out the deity.

  69. Pascvaks says:

    “Word” – Sound(s) people use sometimes to express themselves when attempting to communicate with other people.

    We have a long way to go;-)

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