The Ancient World, Middle Ages, Christianity and Modern Times

LTMD: I address this to you as there really aren’t many people with whom I could speak freely regarding this subject. So, as I do with many ‘difficult’ topics I’d rather write it to you.

I’ve recently become fascinated with the ‘ancient world,’ which is defined as the time before the fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476.  I was never taught much about it throughout my education and so I was intrigued by the amount of attention ‘ancient knowledge’ is gaining today.

It first caught my attention when I read “Reality Is Not What It Seems‘ about Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli. (My post about this book here) In this book the majority of his praise goes to  Democritus and his formulation of the atomic theory of the universe way back in 460 BC.  He also attacks the Catholic Church for doing a pretty good job of systematically destroying any ancient teaching that was not in line with its own.

The closure of the ancient schools such as those of Athens and Alexandria, and the destruction of all the texts not in accordance with Christian ideas was vast and systematic, at the time of the  brutal anti-pagan repression following the edicts of Emperor Theodosius, which in 390-391 declared that Christianity was to be the only and obligatory religion of the empire.

His basic point here is that Democritus was a giant of his time in the scientific field, was on the right track and that the rise of the Catholic Church was a major setback for science, truth and the reality of all that is around us.

The next book which I’ve just finished is ‘Meditations‘ by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.  I’ve written a post which contain my favorite quotes here.  In it Marcus Aurelius talks about the universe being formed by atoms which must have come from the teachings of Democritus.  Marcus Aurelius also speaks of the universe as nature, of gods, and even a line mocking Christians.

“What a great soul is that which is ready, at any requisite moment, to be separated from the body and then to be extinguished or dispersed or continue to exist.  But this readiness must come from a man’s own judgement, not from mere obstinacy, as with the Christians, but considerately and with dignity and in a way to persuade another, without tragic show.”  

And so what is my point in all of this?  The point is that I feel I’ve just made an enormous discovery:  It is not a discovery that is unknown to humanity, but it is hidden in academic journals, in the minds of college professors and something that is lightly and delicately mentioned by our most famous scientists of today so as not to alienate the massive amount of religious people.

The fall of the Roman Empire was a complete disaster for science, for knowledge, for philosophy and for advancing mankind’s understanding of our universe.  This incredible knowledge was burned and destroyed by both marauding, wild hordes of uneducated savages and what was left destroyed by a cult of superstition called the Catholic Church.  The rise of the Church coincided with the dark ages, a time of ignorance where the only knowledge was that of a superstitious, quasi-historical book called The Bible.

And what really shocks me is that this superstition persists to our own modern times; times where the regular person has more education than at any other time in history.

Science and the knowledge of the Greeks were making inroads into the superstitions of the western world but it all collapsed with the fall of the Roman Empire.  Superstition through religion gained the upper hand and it hasn’t let go of its grip even now in the year 2017.

Somehow, even the very brightest scientists, Ph.D holders perform an enormous amount of mental gymnastics to believe in science while at the same time believing in the superstition of religion.  Religion has such an incredible grip on the human psyche that I doubt it will ever die away until perhaps thousands of years from now.  Christianity has lasted for two thousand years and even with new discoveries that directly contradict its teachings, many people can still find a way to look past the blatant errors and continue to believe.

And so, today on April 21st, 2017 I’m shocked that scientists in the Ancient World were on to the truth and that it has been blatantly buried by religion, by Christianity until the twentieth century, a century which we’ve just left.  Humanity, through science has landed people on the moon and has machines exploring other planets and our galaxy.  Yet, a very large amount of humanity still clings to a cult started just 2000 years ago.

I’ve come across truth and I feel strange that there are very few people I can speak with about this.  How incredible is it that they would reject it due to superstitions taught to them since birth, or be a subject that doesn’t interest them even though it leads to the reason for their very existence!

This is a subject I’ll surely write more about.  It is shocking to me to realize that the Ancient World had such incredible knowledge and we’ve been thrown into the dark for 2000 years.  Perhaps if we were to look at it through the lens of seemingly infinite time, this is just a very small chapter:  protagonists, races, or even entire species have their ups and downs; they come and go, have triumphs and failures.  Perhaps one day the majority of humanity will dig itself out of the pit of superstition which began 2000 years ago with the tragedy of the fall of the Roman Empire.


Journal Politics

Politics, Religion and getting into the holiday spirit

It is 3:45 AM and I’m feeling a little grumpy.  I did not want to feel grumpy, I wanted to be in a holiday mood!  So perhaps this post will let me release a bit of grumpiness and then perhaps if I concentrate I can switch my mood.

The reason I’m a bit sour is I opened up my phone and clicked on the NextDoor app.  One of the first posts was a neighbor – we’ll call him Frank – wishing everyone a happy Winter Solstice.  There were a few nice replies but then one from the old man down the road who insists on keeping a really junky spray painted sign that reads “Jesus is Lord.”  He tells his neighbors this:

Merry Christmas to all of my neighbors. And please remember the birth of Jesus is why we celebrate this blessed season. Happy new year also! I’m so glade we got a brand new president not made of the same old cloath.

Pacifica is known for its characters who have lived here their entire lives and perhaps never ventured any farther than Lodi and this guy is certainly one of them.  But on the overall Pacifica is a very liberal place and there was an excellent response from another longtime Pacifican.

OK. Let’s talk about this “taking the christ out of christmas” harrassment. Most of our late december festivities, including red peaked hats, gildedtrees, feasting, and the exchange of gifts come directly from both paganism and the roman saturnalia. Jesus was theoretically born most likely in summer.

Now, just as with marriage (which existed before the age of christ), christians are more than welcome to adopt the solstice festival and adapt it to their own beliefs. This is marvelous, actually. But as with marriage, there seems to be this desire to translate “adaptation” into a “mandate.” The solstice at the peak of winter has been celebrated by many cultures in many ways since the dawn of civilization. People should be allowed to recognize (or not) and celebrate in their own way. If one culture adopts the practices of another, how can they then turn around and tell everyone else that their new version is the only version, and scoff and complain and feel oppressed by any other practice?

The post wasn’t what made me grumpy.  What made me grumpy is the realization that a very large portion of Americans think the same way as Frank and these people have just elected Donald Trump.  Facts and logic do not matter for these people; Science is suspect and for the most part are fed a distorted view of reality from one single ‘news’ channel.

But they can be forgiven because Hillary was very unlikable and the Democratic party completely corrupted as was shown by Wikileaks.

What is worse than a President Trump is religion which has distorted humanities view of reality for millennia!  Christianity is what I’m most familiar with having grown up in it and it took a long time of traveling, reading, and thinking to realize that it isn’t true.  Religion on the whole are fairy tales made up for humanity to try and explain his existence, the universe which surrounds him and to comfort him from the extreme terror of not knowing.

As I have traveled, read, and thought even more as I grow older I’ve become completely astounded at how billions of people can believe these fairy tales and how strongly it holds them it its grasp.  Having grown up in a Catholic household I’ve come to understand that they believe it because it is what they’ve been taught their entire lives; it is what their neighbors believe and it is their heritage.  This is the same case for other religions as well as the bulk of adherents were taught to believe since birth.  It is rare for a believer of one faith to switch to another without some extreme reason for doing so.

I guess one of the reasons it really shocks me is because I had always believed in common knowledge, that truth will always prevail and that mainstream thinking would always remain on a true and correct course grounded in science, logic and reason.

Well, with the election of Trump I and the rest of the world have been jolted into the realization that humanity will not always adhere to reason and may not follow the logical, well thought out path.  For me, the election of Trump is exciting in the fact that there will be some real change; it just might be absolutely terrible change but there is also the alternative that it might actually be good.  The world isn’t looking great right now and I’ve grown tired of all this ‘hope’ talk from the Obamas.

*Side tangent – I saw Michelle Obama speaking with Oprah about how we all need to have hope and frankly many do not have hope right now.  Well, my thought is we elected President Obama on the premise of hope and they had eight years to turn hope into reality.  Well, they failed pretty badly as we now have Trump and a Supreme Court that will veer America to the right for decades to come.  I would call that a massive failure.  But no, the media is giving them tearful goodbyes and saying how wonderful they were.  A successful coach not only does well in one season but lays the groundwork for another successful season to follow.  The Democrats have failed terribly in one of their main responsibilities which are to have further successful seasons.  What do you do with a coach who has a mediocre eight years and then never wins a game for the next four? I’m firing the Democrats and going elsewhere.

But politics isn’t my main target for this rant, it is religion.  Aside from putting blinders on the majority of humanity for almost as long as humans have been around I wouldn’t say I’m anti-religious.  Like I said I grew up in the Catholic faith and appreciate the quiet calm of an empty church or cathedral.  I like to walk in and take a seat on the creaky wooden bench which briefly breaks the silence and recognize the smell of incense burnt weeks ago.  Through the church’s stone walls pass currents of many life experiences: birth, marriage and joy, death and sorrow are all experienced here day after day, year after year through the generations and in an ever changing world.  If you sit and quiet the ruckus that is going on in your own mind you can feel traces of emotions, the energy of the souls who have experienced important, life changing events within the church’s walls.

Religion is quite useful in getting people to be still, reflect and pray.  Unfortunately I believe that ‘prayer’ as far as Christianity is concerned at least, has also been corrupted in that instead of turning inward towards your own divine nature it is aimed at the external, at God and at a human turned idol which is Jesus.  Modern prayer is always asking for this and that, give me this or that, do this or that for me.  In fact, even though I had gone to church thousands of times in my life it wasn’t until I attended after having been away for a decade that I was able to hear what the priest was saying with new ears.

The priest was telling God what to do, and to please do this and that and the congregation always repeats what they are to believe with the Nicene Creed and then the priest tells God/Jesus to do some more things.  Instead of just accepting all of this as I had been taught to do as a child I heard the mass with a rational, logical mind.  Through my extensive travels and studies and all that I had learned over the past two decades this mass no longer made any sense to me.  Yes, I agree that there is much that humans cannot understand with our very limited brains but there is also much we can understand and I understand Christianity to be based on falsehood.

Christianity is based on one major pillar and that is the divinity of Christ.  If that is not true then all of Christianity falls down.  I have come to think of Christianity as one enormous cult.  Christians today now scoff at the cult of Jupiter or Osiris little knowing that they themselves are now in a cult created from very similar cloth;  humans thousands of years from now will regard Christianity as a religion for primitive humanity, a time in which many professed to believe in peace and justice yet waged war and destroyed the planet.  Religions of peace and love fought and killed the other religions of peace and love.  Their school children will read about this in the history books and become quite confused.  In fact, they may become quite sad that they are descended from those who professed peace on Sunday yet advocated war on Monday and every other day of the week.

Well look at that, I’m now in a better mood!  It is 5:22 AM and I feel the need for another hour or so of sleep before the day begins.  I can get in the holiday spirit, I know I can!


Journal Entry – Tuesday 7.21.2015

I prefer to write in the morning.  As the day goes on my mind fills with the minutia of work, bills, life and it seems to make the mind somewhat numb.  The best time to write is when I awake in the middle of the night, around 2-3 AM.  There is an energy in the air, the sound of silence rings in my ears and it is as though I’ve stepped into an alternate, parallel world to the one I live in during the day.  I do not often awake at 2 AM however so the next best thing is to write in the morning when I have my deepest thoughts.  

It was an extremely busy morning and I worked like a banshee until now with only a few minutes to stuff a salad in my mouth.  Luckily I made a few notes before my thoughts evaporated as the sun climbed higher into the sky.  

When we are young it seems that happiness and excitement come very easily.  Going to the pool during a hot day, ordering a pizza from the concession stand, taking a nap after becoming utterly exhausted from all the play are things that brought me much happiness.  Now that I’m 38 the excitement and happiness are much more muted.  I would very much like to rediscover this joy of my childhood .  

I think one of the main reasons is that as we get older we develop set routines that can run for years at a time.  We are breathing the same breath over and over again as Thoreau says in Walden.  The quote that we should gather experiences instead of material items is recommended as good advice and those that actively try to enjoy life are applauded.  

It cannot be said that I haven’t tried many new things but I’d just like to record with this post that the euphoria and excitement I once felt as a boy are an infrequent visitors here at 38 years of age and I wonder if these feelings will ever return?  

My mind doesn’t help with this task either.  We all run simulations in our head of how a new experience, or trip, might be and if we would enjoy it or not.  Unfortunately, when I run these simulations in my head I tend towards the negative such as it being a hassle, or something that takes too much effort.  It is at these times I need to realize that my thoughts are wrong and to go ahead with it.  Having two kids does add quite a bit of work and it is more of a hassle since the amount of stuff one must prepare for any outing is substantial, but in the end the memories it brings are priceless.  I already miss the baby/toddler days of my oldest boy and it saddens me greatly to think that those times are gone forever.  

I must snap out of it and really appreciate everyday, every moment.  But it is impossible to remain in such an appreciative state for more than a few moments.  Life continues on and our brains return to autopilot.  

My youngest is still a baby but he too is growing up too quickly.  He changes his behaviors on a week to week basis with his latest trick being that he points to where he wants to go.  I hold him and he has me running all over the place, to the fish tank, to that purple thing on the table, to Mom – pointing all the way as though I’m an incompetent cab driver.  

I think back to when he was first born and the children in the nursery.  This is a bit off track but I don’t care, its my journal.  I never wanted to put my kids in the nursery at the hospital after they were first born.  They do have a nice room and the nurses do a good job so Mom and Dad can have a little break.  But my question is why the hell would Dad need a break, he didn’t do anything, well nothing that requires a great amount of effort anyway!  Sure, I was a little sleep deprived but who cares, not when I’ve got a brand new life changing present to hold!  The thought of leaving my newborn boys in a nursery even for a few moments horrified me.  It’s not exactly comfortable with the lights on all the time and the certainty that at least one or two kids will be crying.  How could a newborn, or anyone for that matter, get any rest!?  

So whenever the nurses came in and had to take my babies, I went along and wasn’t going to let them out of my sight.  

But I do remember one baby who I felt very sorry for.  His name was Thomas and he was born around August 15th 2014.  He had a cleft lip and I gathered that his father was no longer around and he had a mother that needed a lot of help.  I heard one of the nurses mention needing a social worker and that “someone needs to feed that baby.”  I cannot be absolutely sure but I believe they were speaking about Thomas’s situation.  Now that my #2 is almost a year old I wonder what happened to Thomas and where he is now.  Lying there as a baby he was so innocent, ready to start life in this brand new world, with the only requirement being love, which he may not have received.  To think about this makes me feel very sad.  I think of Thomas from time to time and it hardens my belief that if there is a God, he pays absolutely no attention to us.  

At 38 I see many of my old acquaintances becoming more religious, certainly more-so than they ever were in their 20s.   The reason this is happening is because they were born into it and now that they are getting older they feel they should set a good example for their children; they are mirroring their own parents.  But to tell a secret, blithely throwing religion around on the social networks, or any type of missionary activity really, annoys me to no end, especially when I think of poor Thomas.  Of course I do not engage in religious debates, not unless they actually have a deep knowledge of the historical facts, have traveled and read a book or two outside their own belief systems that again, 99% were born into.  So I write it here, I get it off my chest.

I cannot imagine what Thomas has been through his first year.  Most likely endless crying without being consoled, visits from social workers, perhaps even removal from a time from his own mother.  And where can we place the blame on the mother, who more than likely went through the same experience herself as an infant?  Children grow up, become parents and mirror their own parents for the most part.  

If I linger on the thought for too long I become angry.  “Jesus/God/Allah loves everyone.”  Yea, a bunch of nonsense as they apparently paid no attention to Thomas from the moment he was born; oddly enough God helped Mr. Curry put the basketball in the basket many times the following year!  Religion is fantasy land and make believe for adults, now how do I make a hands clasped emote?

Journal LTMD

LTMD #3 – The only show I ask you watch

Another letter to my descendants: 

In my time, 8.30.2014 an updated version of one of the best television programs ever has been updated and re-released.  The show “Cosmos” is the most concise and up to date scientific attempt to enlighten humanity and convince them of the truth about where we came from and what we are.

Unfortunately, even in the year 2014 when my country the USA is filled with universities and places of advanced learning where more people than ever before go to study, a great majority still cannot shake the chains of superstition and magic of organized religion.  

Science has made incredible progress but unfortunately scientific discoveries are relatively new and our ‘modern’ religions have a 2000 year old head start.  Old habits die very hard and even though these scientific discoveries are freely open to all, many will not accept them if they disagree with their religious beliefs.

If one could step back and look at this situation from afar it is almost quite laughable.  These same religions taught that the world was flat until it was proven otherwise.  It took centuries to change the popular opinion that the world was indeed, not flat.  So here we are today and it would be rather hard to find someone who didn’t consider themselves moderately intelligent yet these same people continue to believe the fairy tales from people thousands of years ago who knew nothing of science who made up stories to explain our existence and place in the universe.  

I could go on and on but in order to keep things simple let me offer you this advice:

  • Let scientific discoveries supersede any previous beliefs. 
  • Religion for the most part is nothing more than made up stories and fairytales.  
  • Spirituality however is not the same as religion.  Look inside yourself, see the beauty of everything around you and never lose the sense of wonder at simply being alive.   
  • Never stop learning and asking questions.  Understand that everything you think you know could be completely wrong.  


PS:  I cannot believe they ran this show on Fox.  Fox is the television station for the dumbest people in our population.  Science and intelligence is incompatible with the regular Fox viewer, I wonder why they couldn’t find another station.  


Living a magical life

As I get older and more set into my routines I find that life loses a little bit of luster.  New experiences become less frequent and the activities I’m used to become a little less enjoyable.  

Then I look at my son and see how he is excited about pretty much everything.  Everything is new to him and his curiosity is limitless.  Couple that with Lapham’s Quarterly which current theme is Youth, I find this realization of mine is not unique and has occurred through time and cultures.  

In fact, I’ve touched on this topic before in a post two years ago “Importance of an Open Mind” I realized that it is possible to see the world with “new eyes” and the magic and excitement will come rushing back.  But, without practice it is easy to let the magic slip away and revert back into that mainstream current in which most adults find themselves: bored, going through the motions, sleepwalking.  

This morning, I’m reminded that I do need to work on my own thought processes and bring back that magic.  So, I took a walk in the garden and looked at some of the most beautiful flowers that have just started to bloom.  It had been a while since I took time to really look at them and appreciate the beauty they bring to the garden.  I also took time to see the flowers that rarely get much appreciation such as those yellow flowers that spring from my pumpkin plants and only last one day.  

To really think about it a flower is a most extraordinary thing!  It starts as a seed in the earth and under the right conditions begins to grow.  This tiny plant pushes its way through the tough earth and over time becomes a beautiful, soft object, exploding with color and meticulous in design.  The pumpkin flower graces us with a one day only show, it is best we pay attention!  Then my thoughts to the nature of reality and I wonder about the intelligence/being that designed such a beautiful object.  I’m like the child that never stops asking why.  When one can deeply contemplate the nature of reality life the realization that life and our own consciousness in the most incredible, wondrous thing one has ever experienced!  No longer would one need some particular stimuli to get high, once the miracle of being alive is realized and understood then simply existing should astound one with wonder and amazement.  

I find that religion has robbed a vast amount of humanity of this wonder.  Religion attempts to provide answers for existence and people puff up their chest and parrot these answers simply because it is what they have been told and what those around them also believe.  Often the religious can and do become ecstatic when they deeply contemplate reality and the entirety of existence but they remain within the safety net of their respective beliefs.  

It is much more incredible to contemplate this existence when one realizes that religion is simply a man made attempt to explain the explainable and that we do not know the answer.  It only follows that any theory or belief could be just as probable as any other.  To put more ‘faith’ in one answer over any other is nothing more than arrogance.