The reconstruction of a historical artefact is typically a project, that is easily affected by our modern cultural norms and standards. Standards, that we are often blisfully unaware of. Sadly, having such standards and norms makes us easily blind to the wider world and makes us less than objective about reality.

As my example I have chosen a silly little mistake, that I see all too often and probably (hopefully) I am the only person (or one among a very small minority) who is even irritated by such. I guess, there are far more people who get irritated even by my calling this out as a mistake and I would first like to appologize to people who might get offended by me revealing their misunderstanding. In my experience people are more likely to get agitated by their mistakes being pointed out, than they are happy, that they get a chance to repair any such mistakes they might have otherwise overlooked. Why is that?

Anyway, the waistline, especially the concept of male waistline has changed according to fashion lately, but long enough time ago for us to have become unaware of this radical change. It shows us, how what we may easily percieve as conservative, may actually be quite modern and how often we are blind to the changes in our culture. One of the most radical changes on thinking on what is proper attire for men has happened after the industrial clothing markets have totally taken over with their ready made garments. That change has really pulled the pants down for men. Up until the mid 20th century male waistline was typically considered to be at the level of the navel. At the point where the human body twists the most – largely because of this and because that is where a healthy human individual (healthy enough to do close combat with spear and shield, at least) is the most narrow, so it is only natural to tighten the belt there. Yes, men just like women are at their narrowest at the navel, not at the hips, where the waistline in western culture today is percieved and where fashionable pants today reach. But I am actually pulling far back in time when the westerners did not even use pants yet.

I have seen several attempts to recreate medieval armour and (as in my example) armour from antiquity, in wich the modern reconstructionist makes ridiculously large chest piece, to fit the armour to reach all the way down to the modern low waistline. This causes the armour to not turn with the body easily, along the shoulder line, but causes an irritating at best, restricting at worst twist because it now both hangs from the shoulders, but also rests on the hip. One person who had made this mistake, described it themselves as “chafing on their nipples”, or something to that effect.

I could post several pictures, that people themselves have published, in wich they wear a ludicurously tall chest piece, but because my point is not to shame any individual who has made a common (as is my case) mistake, I shall not. If you are interrested, and do not recognize what I am talking about, I recommend you make a search for this and I promise you shall find plenty of examples of both reconstructions fitting the mistake I call out here, and of very good reconstructions, that have not made this error.

In any case, even if my example was hypothetical and nobody had made the particular mistake I present as an example, I hope you get my meaning. Further more, I do not believe in presenting the wrong example, but presenting the right example and especially in historical research a good source material of the orginal, as the better pedagogical example.

The picture below is from a Greek vase from the antiquity and it shows us how the so called linothorax armour plate is worn. Now, one could make the mistake to think that the waistline of this armour is lower than the navel, because of how it is painted here, and that is part of the problem. Our sources are not always accurate, or so obvious to us, that they would set us straight from our own cultural assumptions and biases. Yet, if we examine the picture closely, we see that the crotch of the man in the picture is just a bit lower than where the pteruges (the flaps hanging from the edge of his chest armour) even reach. If we compare them to the width of his hand, we are perfectly justified in thinking that the pteruges must be at least two widths of hand long. Even given the fact, that the hand width is not an accurate measurement, this leaves very little for us to assume otherwise, than that the lower edge of his chest piece is at the level of his navel and it is certainly not resting on his hip. This will not only allow a greater freedom of movement and wearer comfortability. It also explains why there are only two connection points to close the armour (not only in this particular picture, but uniformly nearly all pictures of such an armour), as if the chest piece was any taller, the twisting motion at the level of the navel would open it when the wearer made any radical movements. That would hardly be very convinient in a battle?

Kuvahaun tulos haulle pteruges

Once more, this is just an example of how easily we jump to conclusions about cultural concepts foreign to us, even in seemingly trivial things. In this case the false notion of historical concept of waistline based on modern fashion, makes the armour reconstruction next to unusable and certainly paints a picture of the ancient people having been idiots for using such clumsy military gear for generations after generations. Think about how a more taboo concept may make us see a foreign culture, we come to contact today, in a completely false and twisted light. This is the very same point, where our ignorance, preassumptions and biases makes some of us see all Muslims as potential terrorists.

Now, that a lot of right wing extremists have won ground in actual governments, they have also vocalized this demand, that the media should cow down to their version of facts and reality. It appears, that they have lived in this fantasy world, where the press has no integrity at all, but it only spouts lies made up by who ever is holding the political power. But as the media who do hold integrity and/or opposing political views to theirs continues to resist their preconceptions and biases, they are annoyed at the media. They would have the media lie for them, as they percieve the media has lied for others. What nincompoops? But they rely on there being enough of other nincompoops and ignorant people in such a measure, that these supporters are unable to recognize when their leaders that the media should lie to benefit them. The supporters of such politicians only exist for their own leaders to exploit them.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle alt facts

To make matters worse, there indeed exists false media, the sort of publications – in the internet even more, than in radio, TV, or in the printed form – that makes up wild claims and downright lies to feed the preconceptions of, surprize surprize, racists, fascists, and other sort of right wing survivalist looneys, not to mention alternative medicine, regressive religious movements and what have you nonsense. People who are ill equipped to recognize scientific facts fall prey to them, and rely on such media to uphold their own bubble of imaginary safety, where they typically are victims to degenerate naïve fantasies of past glory and lost golden age rethorics. Where their fear of the change and the different are confirmed by non-scientific and made up claims. Where they get false sense of security wether it comes from angels and gods supposedly healing their ailnesses, from climate change denialism, or from them thinking they can recognize dangerous individuals on the street by mere colour of the skin. These false media publications are echoed in their limited social circkless, that remain limited, because they spout out the most abnoxious hatred and slander at anyone who might point out the weaknesses in their conspiracy theories. They provide the most black and white world views, that seem to appeal to the most ignorant individuals, and on top of that, they also provide these individual with similarly simplistic solution models, to these percieved threats.

Building walls, stopping immigration, protectionist economics, do not in in the real world even remotely address the problems to wich they are suggested as solutions by populist demagogues, who infact are not out there to solve these problems, rather just to ride the tide of discontent and fear to their own personal glory. Building wals and restricting immigration only creates more segragation, dehumanization and tension between groups of humans and as such result in more terrorism. Protectionism does not provide jobs, it cuts them down as it downgrades all economy. These are well known facts of history, but the ignoramuses who rely on such methods do not know their history. Do they?

Apparently, President Trump expressed his admiration to President Putin, in a Fox News interview by Bill O’Reilly. To wich somewhat awstruck Mr. O’Reilly replied, that he views Putin as a sort of murderer. President Trump defended President Putin by pointing out, that the US is not totally alien to similar methods of violence. This roused a form of denialism in many more or less patriotic US citizens. For example, Michael McFaul a former ambassador to Moscow, now a professor at Stanford University said in public, that: “Mr. President, our soldiers dont carpet bomb cities. We dont assassinate government critics.”

Yet, in defence of President Trump, I have to point out that the Professor and former diplomat McFaul is incredibly ignorant of the reality in the world, even though I commend him for his conviction to ethics as such. The US is not at all known for not carpet bombing cities. Ask the dead in Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Pjongjang, or a number of other cities and rural areas (because people who get carpet bombed in their homes in the countryside are just as dead as the ones who got carpet bombed in a city). Neither is the US especially admired around the globe for not assasinating their political opponents. If this comes as a news flash to you, please find out about President Allende, Ernesto “Che”Guevara, or any of the victims – killed, assasinated, murdered or tortured – of regressive governments around the globe the US has supported and keeps supporting, unless the people have not overthrown them. This support is freely given to governments, that in return the help to exploit their own nations for the benefit of “US interrests”. Well, that is US based corporate capitalists. Not unlike the owners of companies like Halliburton, wich was heavily involved in the previous Republican government.

Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva

Russian soldiers do not engage in assasinations of government critics, than the US soldiers do. Both of these empires have mercenary forces for anything, that might come as a bit of a problem, if these actions were ever to rise to general public awareness. And the ridiculous thing is, that everybody knows this, exept for some reason this professor from Stanford University.

Bill O’Reilly may, or may not be shocked by what President Trump said, but he is actually just reaping what he himself and his “news” channel have been sowing – a climate of ignorance, fear, anger and hatered and an admiration of regressive, conservative, hard line authoritarianism, capitalist greed, tribal moralism and resolving problems through violence. Those are the “traditional” values O’Reilly, Trump, Putin, Al Assad, the ISIS, Al Qaida and so many other “strong” authoritarian demagogues and leaders have shared throughout history. Why? To satisfy their own hollow and meaningless lives they have offered millions of people to the warmachine and murder. What have they given to us other than suffering? War, famon and pestilence are their allies.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle pjongjang bombed

There are and have been a lot of conspiracies in the real world. Because the conspiracy is something secret it is often hard to prove, or disprove.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle new york skyline 2000

Some of the most extreme conspiracy theories have captivated the minds of millions. Some are so ingraned to society, that they are not even discussed when examples of conspiracy theories are presented.

Examples of typical conspiracy theories are the ideas, that the US officials knew before hand about the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbour, or the terror attacks in New York and Washington in 2001. Both of these conspiracy assumptions represent deep distrust a large part of the US citizens have for their government. They also represent the fact the US citizens who pay dearly as taxpayers for an ultra expensive military and extremely secretive agencies – both of wich have been found red handed in ethically questionable actions – do not feel safe. The blatant disregard for legality, or ethics these powerfull institutions have shown, does not make people feel any safer, nor the fact that these very expensive institutions are caught with their pants down. The average person likes to think they are safe and that is the main reason why they agree to big spending keeping such institutions costs. However, when something surprizing happens, that shows how woulnerable people are, they find their previous misplaced trust hard to accept, and try to look reasons for having been wrong from elswhere. Like that they had every reason to believe they were safe, exept for this conspiracy theory.

One major conspiracy theory in this same category is the Nazi hatred of the Jews. As the Germans could not accept their loss in world war I, they had to find a scape goat. Someone to blame that the promised victory never came. Racism is a similarly unfounded prejudice as the idea that a big military will keep your country safe and you personally out of reach of violence. Usually the effect is contrary, since a big military is often used for unsavioury actions to “protect the intrests” of the country, or more likely the corporate capitalism, or some obscure political ideology. This is prone to create enemies, who in face of overwhelming military power need to form conspiracies of their own to fight their oppressors.

However, if you thought any of the abowe were wild and implausible conspiracy theories, there are some that are by far even more ludicurous. For example a couple of surprizingly popular and mad conspiracy theories, that have the same roots and often the same believers are the climate change denialism and evolution denialism. Both are based on a claim that the scientific community has a major conspiracy going on.

Climate change denialists state, that the entire climate change is a hoax and even if it is not a hoax, but true, the change is not a bad thing, nor is it a human caused phenomenon. One of the climate change denialists is the new president of the USA a nation that is responsible for a very large portion of pollution. He has stated in his campaign, that it is a conspiracy by the Chinese to undermine US economy. His main advisor in environmental issues has claimed (while on the payroll of Exxon), that it is a conspiracy by the EU. I am curious as to wich one they are going to settle between them as the purpetrator of this conspiracy. This is a demonstration why conspiracy theories are not just us laughing at the stupid mentally disturbed individuals who think the world is secretly led by lizard people. Ignorance that leads to such nonsensical conspiracy theories is dangerous for the entire world. They make people distrust science and turns them to hand power over to self interrested authoritarianistic demagogues.

Just as with the climate change denialism, the evolution denialism starts with the assumption that the entire scientific community is in conspiracy, a secret pact, to lie to people contrary to their better information. The problem is how to prove such a conspiracy. The scientific method after all is the best method we have to evaluate reality as objectively as we possibly can and the scientists supposedly involved in this conspiracy are the ones who are best equipped to research both evolution and the climate. It would be ridiculous, if it was not so serious, that for these conspiracy theories to propagate themselves, they do not need to be investigated. People take them as true without the least bit of effort to investigate them, or precisely because they are ill equipped to investigate reality. They are most often believed by people who have been from childhood taught and indoctrinated to belive, that faith is a virtue. That their gut feeling is the best judge and somehow in more or less direct connection to some ultimate moral arbitrator creator entity – That in turn has never been falsified to exist on any level of reality. That means these people are effectively adults, who are totally subjected to their prejudices.

If the believer in any wild conspiracy theory is prejudging the reality around them according to some arbitrary tribally moralist ideal, be it something like a religion, or nationalism, they are helplesly biased. For example, to think they have every right to own a big polluting car, as the car is part of their identity, way of life and a continuation of their sexuality and self image. Or for a nother example to think, evolution must be untrue, as it challenges the fairytale they think is the ultimate truth from some god they worship, and feel as a base for their morality and sometimes even the justification of their very existance and possibly a redeemer of their guilt from the evil they have done because of their arbitrary understanding of morality.

As with everything else, the time to believe in an extreme conspiracy is when the evidence is presented, and the evidence is achieved by using the scientific method, as it is the only even remotely objective way to achieve reliable information. In addition, the more extraordinary the claim for a conspiracy is, the more extraordinary should the evidence be.

It seems to me, people believe the most extreme things when they are ill-educated, ill-informed and when the theory supports their preconceptions. Did I get this right?

If we are to assume, that the universe may not have appeared by natural reason, and that there has had to have been a creator behind the creation, and if we further assume, that this creator is still around, by the same token should we not accept also, that this creator is responsible for all the suffering in the world?

https://smccmartin.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/st-martin-dividing-his-cloak2.jpg?w=510

It does not really matter wether we think the creator entity is justified in creating, or allowing evil, for what ever reasons we could possibly excuse this entity for all the suffering and pain in the universe. You see, wether if someone is justified in some action or inaction does not remove the responsibility of the choise to act, or not.

I have been told, that all the suffering is the fault of mankind for having fallen from the grace of a particular god, by a more or less symbolic act of some of our ancestors. This is a vile and immoral concept, since when has anyone been responsible for the actions of their ancestors? What sort of a person would hold anyone responsible for the actions of their ancestors?

I have also been told, that suffering is the result of our free will, but I do not see how that would be a prerequisite for freedom of choises, nor how that would set the alledged creator free from responsibility of having created us as we are. Many of us are fully capable of making choises between two good things and most of us seem to prefer to choose between such options rather than that our choises were between good and bad. If all choises need to be between good and bad, then the creator entity either made and/or makes choises between good and bad, choosing sometimes bad over good (for the heck of it), or this entity has no free will of it’s own. If we look at the world presuming there is an ultimately powerfull creator entity acting behind the scenes, there is no escaping the notion, that this is an entity who has created evil, and allows it to run amock.

Further more, I have been told that the point of evil existing in our present state of existance is for us to learn compassion. This idea was obviously presented by someone who really needed to learn compassion. A child is capable of learning compassion from imaginary fairy tales, that do not have to involve the reality in wich the child lives in any way. As if the suffering of animals and other humans only existed for the benefit of some individuals who are (or possibly were created to be) incapable of learning compassion through imaginatory stories?

You may ask, to whom would a creator of the entire universe be responsible to, if there are no higher authorities, than this creator god? As in might makes right sort of excuse for this creator being beyond our moral estimation. But I expect you would not ask such a silly question, as you my friend, propably already understand, that such a question would represent regressive authoritarianism. That an adult is responsible to a child to protect the child, because the child is less capable than the adult and not vice versa. Should not the same apply between humans and their gods?

Responsibility means taking care of things regardless wether there is someone stronger to answer to, or not. Not because one has to answer to some stronger authority.

If we assume the universe has appeared and formed to the current state of things through natural processes, we are still fully capable of choosing to be moral, that is to provide ourselves and each other with as good lives we are able to. Are we not? Why would we choose otherwise?

Ultimately, the assumption about the creator entity remains beyond our capacity to prove, provide any evidence of it, or even investigate. How should we treat such an assumption? Or do you have any evidence of it existing?

 

Crucifixion

“Hey guys, I think we have a live one here!”

Many Christians profess to have a personal relationship with Jesus. What do they mean? A personal experience impossible to replicate, if one has not experienced it. It is sometimes even presented as the best and foremost evidence they have to believe in the existance of their god.

What do Christians mean when they say they have a personal relationship with their god entity? It is often described some form of conversing between them and their god. They ask their god for advice in choises they have to make and supposedly this god of theirs answers. How? How do they know, that who ever answers is actually their god?

How does one make the distinction between a particular god talking to oneself within the limits of the inner mind of the person experiencing this, from the normal inner dialogue we have? How does one make the distinction between different alledged supernatural entities talking within our minds?

Or are they referring to hearing voices? Hearing voices is not necessarily a sign of schizophrenia and it is far more common than commonly assumed. Be it caused by such serious condition or not, it is a trick of the mind. The physical brain within our cranium. It is perfectly natural, that when a person starts to hear voices, those voices that are echoes of the brainfunctions reflect the cultural heritage of the individual. Sometimes including their religious beliefs and cultural ideas about the supernatural. The Jesus character in the Bible seemed to think, that sort of experience is a form of coexistance with some sort of demons. This makes the Bible appear very much as a book and the Jesus character in it as a typically superstitious human being of the time when the book was written. Does it not?

If the relationship with a particular god entity is not described as much as hearing actual voices inside your head, merely the natural inner dialogue, perhaps even a muted version of it, it still is necessarily connected to the cultural heritage and culturally induced ideas such as particular concepts of gods. Even if a person later in life becomes convinced, that the connection they had to a particular god was not those of a particular god concept of their own cultural heritage, in order to recognize wich god concept fits the experience they remember having had, they first need to become aware of the cultural notion of a particular god that would fit the bill. God concepts are necessarily cultural constructs. Similar god beliefs have appeared ignorant of each other around the globe, but the very same concept has never appeared simultaneously in different cultures indipendend of each other. Instead the succesfull religious movements all require a form of proselytising.

How could a personal experience, limited between our own ears be evidence of a particular god to exist? Even to us ourselves? Most of these experiences are direct reflections of the cultural heritages and subsequent beliefs people already had even before they had the experience. Putting aside the fact, that the personal experience of an individual is presents very poor evidence for a nother person. The obvious cultural connection of recognition of a particular god depending on the culture and experiences of the particular individual, at very least, puts the evidence value of any such experience to question. In any case it reminds us, that either, if there is a god behind such phenomenons this god is “challenged” in trying to convey who this god is to human individuals, or then there are multiple different gods providing evidence of their existance.

Now, if the god of the Christians manifests somehow differently from other gods, and the “personal relationship” is a concept to describe this, it still means, that it is a cultural concept. As this personal relationship seems more common among particular mutually competing Christian sects, it means, that most Christians are not included in this personal relationship. Most Christians in the world are just normal people who have no personal relationships with anything supernatural. Why?

What if there is something supernatural causing these experiences, and the cultural interpretation was just a side-effect of the phenomenon being transmitted to the rest of us, by superstitious and culturally indoctrinated individuals? Well, perhaps, but how likely is that? According to the Occam’s Razor, the more simplistic model of explanation is the more likely truth. If applied to voices in the head, the inner monologue feeling or seeming like it was between the individual and a god, or just a chance occurance seeming like it was an answer to a question presented by the person inside their head, it is still more simple to explain any of those as tricks of the mind, rather than by anything supernatural, that would still require an external verification to even exist as much as to be a possible explanation to the experience.

I have to admit it, if I ever had any such an experience, I would rather have my head examined, than jumped to the conclusion, that a particular deity was trying to make a contanct with me. But is that just my own cultural heritage and bias? I am not immune to my own culture, or the assumptions it provides me. Yet, my ally is the scientific method. As long as it does not provide any direct information about divinities, I am quite happy to neglect any suggestions of gods as fable. Much the same way I neglect any ideas of demons, angels, pixies, unicorns, dragons and such. Besides, being a researcher of history, I have quite scientific evidence of how the beliefs in the supernatural appear. We have no reliable knowledge about anything supernatural, but we do have reliable knowledge about otherwise perfectly rational people being able to make up fantastic stories, believing them against all evidence and even sacrificing themselves for their faith in the most ludicurous and harmfull beliefs. Like for an extreme example the Nazies.

Theodicy means “justifying God” in reference to the Christian culture. One often presented idea to wich I have had the misfortune to run into again and again is, that a benevolet and omnipotent god would allow evil in order to access for free will. If you have anything new to add or submit to this idea I might be interrested, because I seem to have trouble understanding it. That is how otherwise seemingly intelligent individuals might even consider this as a good defence to the problem?

protective angel

Angel protecting these particular children from polio? But not some other children, why?

To me this has been just gibberish from the first time I run into it. First of all, wether a god is benevolent and from whose perspective tells us absolutely nothing about wether such an entity might exist. This is just about wether we are justified in calling something “benevolent”. Or are people merely pronouncing their hopes on the rather hypothetical issue even contrary to the observable evidence? To declare that this very same god is the final arbitrator wether something is benevolent or not makes the issue totally moot. Add to injury, in my experience, the same people who press forward this idea of their god being both benevolent, omnipotent (or even maximally potent) also only too often claim, that we humans are not worthy to even evaluate the morals of the actions of this very same god. I suppose in their minds benevolent and good is what ever this god of theirs wants, wich peculiar enough seems to be very much in line on what they would want, even if it means to limit the rights and free will of other people.

How do these people expect they are able to evaluate and choose between different god claims? If they are unable to evaluate the morals of a god, how do they know wich god is true, or even wich god to them seems benevolent? It seems to me as a terrible and potentially very dangerous not to mention harmfull hubris to assume the creator entity of the entire universe is telling specifically you what is the true religion, what is right or wrong only through such dubious methods as communicating with you, through your intuition, gut feeling, conscience – that is to say – your subconscious and of course through a particular relgious book written by obvious ignoramuses in ancient times, when written word was so rare, that people had superstitious attitudes about all written word. A book that is so filled with obvious mythos and tribal moralism. A book – like so many others – demands blind faith and makes the sad claim, that this is actually a virtue! This remembering, that the method by wich most people “choose” their religion and their version of it, is by being born into a specific culture. A sort of fatalism in wich the people who were born into the “right” culture benefit from their god being “benevolent” for the accident of birth, exept for some random exeptions, reminds me of racism, in wich it was typical for the members of the “superior” race imagining themselves as justified to their position by mere accident of birth. If racism is wrong then so is this method of divine “choise” for whom shall be saved from them alledged lakes of fire. Is it not?

It is tragicomic, that the very same Christians often also believe they are to continue their lives after their death in some state of a heaven where they expect no evil will exist. Do they think they are going to have free will in them Heavens? If they assume they do posses free will in afterlife, do they also think there is evil in there? If they think, that in their afterlife they are so in line with their particular god, that they only want good things and no evil is required for them to have free will, then what ever for was evil created onto this world?

Who in their right mind would argue, that a creator entity, who deliberately causes, or even allows unnecessary suffering such as for example polio, could honestly be called benevolent, if they could prevent and or at least stop it? How has the existance of polio enabled the free will of anyone in the world?

All this free will argumentation seems like nothing but an evasion attempt at the face of obvious in the high hopes, that if there indeed is a creator entity, it is not only fair, but also benevolent in terms of granting some specific humans an afterlife, if they pay their tithes to support the ritual experts whose job it is to tell the story to people who have never heard of it, because obviously neither omnipotent, or even maximally potent mean, that this god was able to communicate directly with everybody.

Ultimately, the entire notion of free will requiring evil to exist is just nonsensical, even if we could ever prove on any sane level there existed something we could call a creator god. Evil would then need to be an inherent part of that god, for it to have free will. That would mean, that we could call this god benevolent only for overcoming it’s own evil side. If this god did not have evil in it before it chose to create it, then it could not have made the free choise to create evil, or anything really.

It would all seem like from a bad joke, unless this all involved the fact that the adherents of these gods have for centuries felt justified in forcing, coercing and indoctrinating other people to believe like they do, or at very least to act according to what they think (wich is very culturally relevant and tribally moralistic) their particular gods wants from people in general, not just them.