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Fred, a few years ago, I was doing some medical research, and I learned that people of faith may produce higher amounts of a hormone, oxytocin, that protects one against numerous ailments. I had noticed that people of faith do live longer and healthier lives. Until then, I considered myself agnostic.
So even though I wanted to pursue a faith, I don't like to be suckered. I knew the history of Christianity is filled with blood and that Dawkins and Hitchens have their point. Until the invention of the printing press, I dare say that if Jesus did come back he would say "you are doing what in my name??"
When I finally sat down and read the gospels, I was shocked at how relevant their message was. I never thought anything I had read that was written 2000 years ago would have an immediate impact on my life, but it did.
Nonetheless, I know politics and marketing when I see it. It bugs me that Christians are so unaccepting of alternate versions of what happened. A biblical scholar wrote this book, http://www.amazon.com/Misquoting-Jesus-Story-Behind-Changed/dp/0060738170, and anyone who reads it and states the Bible is perfect as is must be a fool.
The Da Vinci code was a ripoff of the Nag Hammadi collection found in Egypt in 1949. What many orthodox Christian scholars don't like is that many of the gospels found in this collection overlap with our current Bible. And they are upset that the carefully crafted image of a chaste Jesus is shattered by the Gospel of Phillip.
Faith does not mean I have to close my eyes and believe what others tell me is true. Any child who has been told of Santa Claus knows society is capable of a group conspiracy. Atheists make a great point when making analogies between Jesus and Santa.
December 25 was a Pagan holiday and a prophet born of a virgin mother was another Pagan tradition. And the Holy Trilogy is a smooth way of going from many Gods to one (or three).
The commercialization of Christmas is a much more mild form of using Christ's name to make a buck. It pales in comparison to Spainards who slaughtered native Americans and use Christ's name as justification for stealing their gold or my personal favorite, the abstinence-unless-married RCC Church of today running brothels in Rome in 1400 AD. One in seven women in Rome was a prostitute registered by the church at that time.
So while you might think I am not Christian from what I have written, I would say that it is others who have strayed from the teachings of Christ. Christmas is about showing love to our family and to God for bringing us the wisdom of Jesus. I don't give gifts to impress others. I do it to please God.
Some have said Jesus may not have been a man but a movement. FWIW, I could care less. I think Christians should worry a lot less about the myth and focus on the substance.
Before Christ, the world was harsh and cruel. An eye for an eye was justice. Jesus changed the world. He taught the world to love one another and love God, which was a radical change, and I think it is that philosophy that is worth celebrating.
Feliz Natal, everyone.
"I was doing some medical research, and I learned that people of faith may produce higher amounts of a hormone, oxytocin, that protects one against numerous ailments. I had noticed that people of faith do live longer and healthier lives."
A nasal spray which increases our trust for strangers is showing promise as a treatment for social phobia, say scientists from Zurich University. They found that people who inhaled the "love hormone" oxytocin continued to trust strangers with their money - even after they were betrayed. Brain scans showed the hormone lowered activity in the amygdala - a region which is overactive in social phobics. Drug trials are under way and early signs are promising say the scientists.
Nicknamed the "cuddle chemical", oxytocin is a naturally produced hormone, which has been shown to play a role in social relations, maternal bonding, and also in sex. Lead researcher Dr Thomas Baumgartner said: "We now know for the first time what exactly is going on in the brain when oxytocin increases trust. "We found that oxytocin has a very specific effect in social situations. It seems to diminish our fears.
Previous studies have shown that participants in "trust games" took greater risks with their money after inhaling the hormone via a nasal spray.
In this latest experiment, published in the journal Neuron, the researchers asked volunteer subjects to take part in a similar game.
They were each asked to contribute money to a human trustee, with the understanding that the trustee would invest the money and decide whether to return the profits, or betray the subject's trust by keeping the profit.
The subjects also received doses of oxytocin or a placebo via a nasal spray.
After investing, the participants were given feedback on the trustees. When their trust was abused, the placebo group became less willing to invest. But the players who had been given oxytocin continued to trust their money with a broker.
"We can see that oxytocin has a very powerful effect," said Dr Baumgartner.
"The subjects who received oxytocin demonstrated no change in their trust behaviour, even though they were informed that their trust was not honoured in roughly 50% of cases."
Fred, on this cheesy looking website, http://www.verolabs.com/, you can buy oxytocin without a prescription. I bought a bottle not expecting much but it worked. If I were in sales, I would load up on the stuff.
In addition, being around people with similar values, bright lights, and music all stimulate endorphins, the cause of "natrual" highs. After my first church service in a lot of years, I told my wife that people were so high the preacher could have said anything.
Endorphins are natural pain killers, soothing to the nervous system, and boost immunity. They also boost oxytocin.
What bugs me is when church folks use this high to push a hateful, selfish, or political agenda.
Endorphins are also stimulated by chocolate (the dark casein free type is best) and spicy foods. Anyone who has a runny nose and sucks down some picante sauce can see the healing benefits of endorphins.
"It bugs me that Christians are so unaccepting of alternate versions of what happened."
It doesn't bug me. If I sat down tomorrow and wrote the Gospel according to Mario, it would not become part of the canon. Sometimes, when something gets left out, it is because it is simply inaccurate. More specifically, about Nag Hammadi's Phillip Gospel, I consider it unlikely in the extreme that Jesus was married or messed around with Mary or anyone else. First of all, it was accepted that Rabbi's would be married and therefore, if Jesus were married, there would have been no reason whatsoever to conceal that fact. Second, and much more importantly, the single most significant theme of the New Testament is the marriage between the Messiah and the Ecclesia. You can read the N.T. and never notice it, but once someone points it out, it is like D'OH!
This is an extensive presentation of it:
This is a...well,... colorful... presentation of it:
Given the coherence between the 1st century marriage customs and the events in the Gospels, it is clear that Jesus was abiding the law and living out the marriage plan - only NOT to an individual. Had he been breaking law or custom, his enemies would have accused him of those breaches and the accusations would be a matter of record today.
In fact, it is partly because the accusations made against Jesus by his opponents survive in multiple sources, that we can establish so many things about Jesus as facts. (Ernest Martin reveals much of this in his book Secrets of Golgotha, and Jonathan Cahn's tape: Mystery of the Temple Doors also discusses these things: tape number 35 here:
Another excellent consideration of evidence in the N.T. is Simon Greenleaf's Testimony of the Evangelists. See these links:
"Faith does not mean I have to close my eyes and believe what others tell me is true."
At some level, that IS what faith is. Just as it is true that science is an effort to discover truth that does NOT depend on human authority for it's veracity. But since you and I cannot afford to perform, for example, the EPR experiment in our basements... in practice... we DO depend on the testimonies of scientists as IF we are "closing our eyes and believing what others are telling us." Sometimes this is safe,�and sometimes it is not. The cool thing about the Star of Bethlehem subject is that it can bring a hard science (Orbital Mechanics) to the table as a means of evaluating the veracity of the Bible. By the way, here is another good link - to the first chapter of Martin's book:
This is an instance of a very productive intersection of scripture and (hard) science.
Hey, Doc, Fred...
I'd just like to mention a small historical footnote to this: "Before Christ, the world was harsh and cruel. An eye for an eye was justice. Jesus changed the world. He taught the world to love one another and love God, which was a radical change, and I think it is that philosophy that is worth celebrating."
The historical figure Gautama Siddhartha, aka the Buddha, who pre-dated Jesus of Nazareth by 400 years, also taught a philosophy of loving kindness for all living things.
<The historical figure Gautama Siddhartha, aka the Buddha, who pre-dated Jesus of Nazareth by 400 years, also taught a philosophy of loving kindness for all living things.>
Musk, the gnostic Gospels were found in a remote village in Egypt in 1949 and were a treasure trove for archeologists. The story in of itself as to how they were found was fascinating. Sadly, some of the scrolls were burned by mistake.
Perhaps most troubling to modern Christian scholars was the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of some of the sayings of Jesus. About 50% of the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas are also found in the Bible. This of course has to be troubling to the modern Christian movement. How can you condemn the whole collection of Gnostic Gospels then without condemning the Bible? Until the Da Vinci Code came out, there was little popular debate about the authenticity of the Bible.
What the Da Vinci Code did to some degree with its many historical accuracies was give the modern Christian movement cover. However, anyone who did a little digging could see that the basis for Dan Brown's novel was the Gnostic Gospels.
Christians are fond of saying that Jesus was the son of God, and no other religion makes that claim. However, the Gnostic Christians, who were slaughtered once Orthodox Christians aligned themselves with the Roman Empire, believed that Jesus was more of a guide to God than God Himself.
It has been theorized thus that the Orthodox Christians then kept the writings that made Jesus to be more of a deity and discarded those that made him appear human.
The Gospel of Phillip suggested Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers, and this phrase may have come from Siddhartha himself, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him."
But this saying was not from Siddhartha rather it was in the Gospel of Thomas. You can see why the Orthodox Christians were so anxious to remove it.
"December 25 was a Pagan holiday and a prophet born of a virgin mother was another Pagan tradition."
Nevertheless, Jupiter was at the stationary end point of a retrograde loop above Regulus, in Leo, on the night of December 25th, 2 B.C. and this would have been almost impossible for anyone to have confirmed for the first 15 centuries of the Christian era. By itself, this may not mean much, but with the context provided by Martin, it makes sense of the Biblical story.
The "wise men"�may have originated in a culture that we would call "pagan". If their expertise led them to Bethlehem, maybe we should defer to their interpretation,�initiative and accomplishments and accept that God was in the business of leading pagan seekers to Jesus.
"Spainards who slaughtered native Americans and use Christ's name as justification for stealing their gold or my personal favorite, the abstinence-unless-married RCC Church of today running brothels in Rome in 1400 AD. One in seven women in Rome was a prostitute registered by the church at that time."
One cannot blame Newton for any misapplication of Calculus. Similarly, one should not hold the misbehavior of a rogue Spaniard to discredit Christianity. And I wrote "rogue" deliberately since Cortez ignored orders revoking his authority just before he began his mission of conquest.
After years of searching for a used copy of an english language edition, I bought a copy of Fanny Bandolier's translation of Sahagun's Historia General aka the Florentine Codex.
I would NEVER have believed anything negative about pre-conquest Mexico or Mexicans before reading it, but after reading it, I think the arrival of the conquistadors might have been divine justice. The culture had become consumed by a cult of human sacrifice. Ritual brutality.... Flaying captives alive... The Christian part of the story may have transpired a thousand years earlier when a real a Christian, an Irish Monk named Brendan arrived in the 560's A.D. But that is too large a digression to pursue here. :)