Pharyngula

The greatest break-up story ever told

i-7a8b9a4d981aa39fccef9a4df3229d34-sita.gif

Long timers here may recall that I mentioned this cool video by Nina Paley called Sita Sings the Blues several years ago. At that time, all that was available were some short but very pretty clips.

Good news! Sita Sings the Blues is done, and available on the web. It’s Saturday evening — go ahead, set aside an hour and a half to watch it. How often do you run across Hindu myths animated and set to the 1920′s jazz?

Speaking of Hindu myths, have you ever read any of their creation stories? Here’s one version:

Before time began there was no heaven, no earth and no space between. A vast dark ocean washed upon the shores of nothingness and licked the edges of night. A giant cobra floated on the waters. Asleep within its endless coils lay the Lord Vishnu. He was watched over by the mighty serpent. Everything was so peaceful and silent that Vishnu slept undisturbed by dreams or motion.
From the depths a humming sound began to tremble, Om. It grew and spread, filling the emptiness and throbbing with energy. The night had ended. Vishnu awoke. As the dawn began to break, from Vishnu’s navel grew a magnificent lotus flower. In the middle of the blossom sat Vishnu’s servant, Brahma. He awaited the Lord’s command.

Vishnu spoke to his servant: ‘It is time to begin.’ Brahma bowed. Vishnu commanded: ‘Create the world.’

It’s silly and magical, but it’s also beautiful. We hear that awful tinny poetry of Genesis so often that I think it’s worth looking around at other cultures just to see how petty and third-rate the Western bible is. Not that I want anyone believing in Vishnu and the lotus growing out of his navel, but at least it’s much more lovely and imaginative than the repetitive nonsense we’re used to.

Comments

  1. #1 Paper Hand
    February 28, 2009

    That is a rather nice story. “Shores of nothingness”, quite evocative!

  2. #2 Sven DiMilo
    February 28, 2009

    A vast dark ocean washed upon the shores of nothingness and licked the edges of night.

    Not bad.

  3. #3 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 28, 2009

    It’s silly and magical, but it’s also beautiful. We hear that awful tinny poetry of Genesis so often that I think it’s worth looking around at other cultures just to see how petty and third-rate the Western bible is. Not that I want anyone believing in Vishnu and the lotus growing out of his navel, but at least it’s much more lovely and imaginative than the repetitive nonsense we’re used to.

    Nothing wrong with “spiritually” inspired music.

    Coltrane’s “A love Supreme” might as well be someone pouring gold into my ear, but i don’t have the urge to believe in anything other than the fact that he’s one bad ass sax man.

  4. #4 Jeff Satterley
    February 28, 2009

    It’s always confused me when people talk about the Bible as wonderful literature (even if its not really true). I’ve never found the writing in the Bible to be very captivating. It’s quite repetitive and simple, without regarding the obvious bigotry and sexism.

  5. #5 Newfie
    March 1, 2009

    wow, I’m gonna smoke and watch that.

  6. #6 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 1, 2009

    Coltrane’s “A love Supreme” might as well be someone pouring gold into my ear, but i don’t have the urge to believe in anything other than the fact that he’s one bad ass sax man.

    I had to read this twice. The first time I thought you wrote “bad sax ass man.”

    (PZ, you should delete this so Jonny doesn’t get offended.)

  7. #7 Monsignor Henry Clay
    March 1, 2009

    Agreed. I’ve always been a fan of Shinto’s creation myth. Basically the guy says, “Hey, part of you is missing, and I seem to have an extra part. How ’bout I put my extra part in your missing part.” You just gotta love pragmatism in a myth.

  8. #8 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 1, 2009

    (PZ, you should delete this so Jonny doesn’t get offended.)

    I agree. I wouldn’t want to offend him.

    Please delete that and all of my offensive comments so as not to offend Johnny or anyone else wearing diapers.

  9. #9 CortxVortx
    March 1, 2009

    The Earth turns slowly round
    Far away the distant sound
    Is with us everyday
    Can you hear what it say
    OM, OM,
    Heaven,
    OM

    — The Moody Blues

  10. #10 SDR
    March 1, 2009

    I’m an atheist but also a biblical scholar, so it might be my bias, but I definitely disagree with your view of the Bible. Some great poetic literature exists in the Tanakh (although I can’t say the same about the New Testament). None of it beats Islamic religious poetry, though. Go Rumi!

  11. #11 Patricia, OM
    March 1, 2009

    Oh now BigDumbChimp you’re just being naughty.

  12. #12 Brian
    March 1, 2009

    It’s not that the Bible has no poetry — it does; it’s just that there’s a few gems buried under mounds of cardboard, legal codes, historical recitations, and prophecies of gory doom.

  13. #13 bad Jim
    March 1, 2009

    There are some nice bits in the old testament, like some of the psalms and the ending of Job. Corinthians I 13 is pretty good, too; Joni Mitchell even set it to music. As for creation verse, though, I’m partial to her line

    “We are stardust”

    since our heavier atoms were formed billions of years ago in the heart of a supernova.

  14. #14 Pohranicni Straze
    March 1, 2009

    Unknown to most scholars, the phrase “A vast dark ocean washed upon the shores of nothingness and licked the edges of night” was originally coined by a debater whose name is lost to history to refer to his opponent’s (lack of) mental faculties. The opponent, Rayjiv Comfortama, is notable for using the fruit of the domesticated banana plant as proof of the existence of Vishnu.

  15. #15 SteveL
    March 1, 2009

    One Hindu creation myth goes on to tell of Purusha, the first man. Brahmins were made from his mouth, Kshatriyas (warriors) from his arms, Vaisyas (traders) from his thighs, and Sudras (everybody else) from his feet. A nasty myth that has been used to oppress millions of people for thousands of years. Just like the Christian one. Eastern != better.

  16. #16 SC, OM
    March 1, 2009

    About a guy (no comment) commanding his servant, who’s depicted as bowing to him, to create the world. Meh. The beginning is poetic, though.

  17. #17 Cheezits
    March 1, 2009

    Don’t let creationists ruin Genesis for you. I rather like the idea of God getting up in the morning and going to work like the rest of us, then getting the weekend off. And the fall of man is a very down-to-earth story. I think most of us can relate to it, at least, those of us who were ever 4 years old and had our parents tell us not to do something just before leaving the room. :-D

  18. #18 tubi
    March 1, 2009

    I’ve never found the writing in the Bible to be very captivating. It’s quite repetitive and simple, without regarding the obvious bigotry and sexism.

    Ever try reading the Book of Mormon?

  19. #19 SC, OM
    March 1, 2009

    OK, I will comment: His servant, awaiting his commands, grows out of his navel. Right.

  20. #20 Facilis
    March 1, 2009

    Hindu myths never made sense to me.

  21. #21 clinteas
    March 1, 2009

    Question then :

    Are there literalists on their side,regarding this Hindu creation myth?

    Or are the Christians the only ones take their collection of creation stories literally?Like,3000 years after they were written….while driving their car to work….and doing online banking sending their pastor/fundie church part of their income…you know,that stuff…

  22. #22 mystyk
    March 1, 2009

    This would be so much easier to watch if I weren’t stuck in a far-away land where the internet is slow and sporadic. It would take me 2-3 hours to download, but that won’t work because the internet resets every 30-45 minutes.

    Damn US military and their “lowest bidder” bullcrap. Where’s a torrent when you need one?

  23. #23 Kel
    March 1, 2009

    HinduChristian myths never made sense to me.

    Fixed

  24. #24 ContainsCaffeine
    March 1, 2009

    I am waiting for the day that Genesis is treated as much as a mythical story as any other creation myth.

  25. #25 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 1, 2009

    Hindu Christian myths never made sense to me.

    fixed. Again.

  26. #26 SteveL
    March 1, 2009

    The original Hebrew of Genesis 1 is supposed to be great poetry, though it loses a lot in translation. There’s a translation by Robert Alter that tries to capture the Hebrew poetic devices. (It’s not bad actually). And Genesis has inspired some genuinely good poetry in English. Here’s GM Hopkins:

    And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs?
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

    Complete nonsense of course, but it’s poetry.

  27. #27 Wowbagger
    March 1, 2009

    facilis, hilariously enough, wrote:

    Hindu myths never made sense to me.

    Now, anyone with even the vaguest clue about cultural acquisition, objectivity or egocentrism would consider that this particular approach could be applied to their own mythology – ah, but not our facilis. His myths are special.

  28. #28 Max
    March 1, 2009

    Well, I think that the Western Bible is beautiful, PZ.
    Perhaps your encounters with its followers have ruined it for you?
    But, yes, Hindu myths are amazing.

  29. #29 Leigh Williams
    March 1, 2009

    Sita Sings the Blues is fantastic. I had only planned on sampling . . . but ended up watching the whole thing straight through.

  30. #30 Rheinhard
    March 1, 2009

    A note for any Pharyngulites in the greater New York area – if you get NY public TV channel WNET (Channel 13), you can also watch Sita Sings the Blues on your television machine at 10:45pm on Saturday March 7. (Some people still like to see movies on screens larger than they have on their computers)

    Also of great importance about this film: The reason that you can only see this film on the net this way and can’t buy it on DVD is because of the insane copyright law in the country. The film uses a number of late 1920s jazz recordings by Annette Hanshaw which, although the recordings are in the public domain, the songs she is singing are still in copyright to various holding companies. The composers of these songs are long dead and this music should have been in the public domain years ago, but because of the ridiculous permanent extension of copyright (thanks Disney!) these companies have demanded exorbitant sums (over $50K!) from the broke indie animator Nina Paley to show or distribute the film. The only reason PBS can show it is because it has different rules regarding copyright permissions! Please, if you care about this film and the ability of artists to have their work seen by the public, check out QuestionCopyright and Nina Paley’s blog for more info!

  31. #31 Atanu Dey
    March 1, 2009

    Indians have lots of creation myths. Interestingly, one of the vedas (ancient texts), the Rig Veda (variously dated to be a couple of thousand years old), has a hymn to creation which ends with an ultimate expression of agnosticism, skepticism and doubt — that the universe is ultimately unknowable, perhaps.

    The Hymn:

    At first was neither Being nor Nonbeing.
    There was not air nor yet sky beyond.
    What was wrapping? Where? In whose protection?
    Was Water there, unfathomable deep?

    There was no death then, nor yet deathlessness;
    of night or day there was not any sign.
    The One breathed without breath by its own impulse.
    Other than that was nothing at all.

    Darkness was there, all wrapped around by darkness,
    and all was Water indiscriminate, Then
    that which was hidden by Void, that One, emerging,
    stirring, through power of Ardor, came to be.

    In the beginning Love arose,
    which was primal germ cell of mind.
    The Seers, searching in their hearts with wisdom,
    discovered the connection of Being in Nonbeing.

    A crosswise line cut Being from Nonbeing.
    What was described above it, what below?
    Bearers of seed there were and mighty forces,
    thrust from below and forward move above.

    Who really knows? Who can presume to tell it?
    Whence was it born? Whence issued this creation?
    Even the Gods came after its emergence.
    Then who can tell from whence it came to be?

    That out of which creation has arisen,
    whether it held it firm or it did not,
    He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
    He surely knows – or maybe He does not!

    -Translation by Prof. Raimundo Panikkar

  32. #32 SteveL
    March 1, 2009

    Robert Alter’s translation of Genesis 1:1-2, which tries to capture the alliteration and other poetic devices in the Hebrew original:

    When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God’s breath hovering over the waters, God said, “Let there be light.”

  33. #33 GBM
    March 1, 2009

    @ #4

    I’m with you; I find the bible just excruciatingly boring
    “abram begot isaac, isaac begot jacob, jacob begot fucknuts…ad nauseum.”

  34. #34 BMcP
    March 1, 2009

    Not that I want anyone believing in Vishnu and the lotus growing out of his navel, but at least it’s much more lovely and imaginative than the repetitive nonsense we’re used to.

    Unless you live in India, then it is the repetitive nonsense you are used to. People there probably find the Bible as fascinating as a mythical narrative as we do.

    It’s all perspective.

  35. #35 SoMG
    March 1, 2009

    “Tinny poetry of Genesis”: I must protest. Listen to Haydn’s DIE SCHOPFUNG. I recommend the following recordings:

    1. The one conducted by Eugen Jochum, with Hans Hotter, Walther Ludwig, and Irmgard Seefried,

    2. The one conducted by Clemens Krauss, with Trude Eipperle, Julius Patzak, and Georg Hann,

    3. The one conducted by Igor Markevitch, with Irmgard Seefried (again), Richard Holm, and Kim Borg.

    As always, avoid the toxic Herbert von Karajan, and the odious Kathleen Battle. Also avoid Annelies Kupper and Luba Orgonasova.

  36. #36 Larry
    March 1, 2009

    Amazing mythical story interwoven with the author’s personal story. I was happy to see the note at the end about Lexi, the cat, left behind in San Francisco.

  37. #37 Matt
    March 1, 2009

    I studied mythology and earned my degree in anthropology with that emphasis. one of the things that drew me to that field was the beauty of the creation myth. just fantastic stories that reach out to the child inside, they tear at your intellect, cause something deep inside to move… Answers a lot of questions really. The amazing quantity and diversity of creation myths was one of the leading cause of my departure from religion to a reason filled life. And yet, i still have an affinity for them , not for any actual history, but for the part inside of each of us that longs fro something fantastic to be true. I believed in Santa Claus until I grew up, but the idea is still wonderful. As long as you can separate reality from fantasy.

  38. #38 SoMG
    March 1, 2009

    If you have never heard Haydn’s DIE SCHOPFUNG, remember: the first part is sung VERY softly (after the overture). In order to hear the bass sing “In Anfane schuff Gott Himmel und Erde” you have to turn the volume way up….

  39. #39 David Harper
    March 1, 2009

    There are some charming and poetic Native American creation myths too.

    And let’s not forget the ancient Egyptian creation myth in which Atum, the self-created first god, creates Shu, god of the air, and Tefnut, goddess of the waters, by masturbating. Now there’s a creation myth that should appeal to any teenage boy.

  40. #40 Kausik Datta
    March 1, 2009

    I am an atheist, but was born in a Hindu household with parents believing in Hindu spiritual philosophy (just FYI, that is not the same as the rabidly fundie Hinduism seen in contemporary India). The Hindu creation myth is indeed a beautiful and evocative story. PZ may have got it slightly wrong, or rather incomplete.

    As mentioned in the Rigveda (first among the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism), Hiranyagarbha (“golden womb”) was the Source of the creation of the Universe. Universe is supposed to be created – and destroyed – cyclically. Following the end of a cycle, the universe was dissolved, and darkness prevailed everywhere. Nothing – neither static, nor moving – existed, yet. The beginning of the new cycle, this condition, has been variously described as undifferentiated, non-manifest, undefined, and unknown. Then a Self-manifested Being (“Swayambhu”) came into existence in a form beyond senses. He/She/It created the primordial waters first and planted the seed of creation into it – which transmuted to the Hiranyagarbha. This Being then entered the Hiranyagarbha. The Hiranyagarbha floated around in emptiness and the darkness of the non-existence for about a year, and then broke into two halves, and there was Vishnu (a.k.a. Narayan) – the manifest form of the Supreme Being, the cosmic intelligence. Vishnu created and pervaded the collective totality of universe, and was both within and without it, far and near, moving and unmoving, larger than the largest and smaller than the smallest. In every cycle, the whole universe proceeds from him, subsists in him and in the end recedes unto him. In different ages, he has manifested as a Fish in water, amphibious Turtle, Hog, Half-Lion Half-human hybrid, and of course, human beings. His final form for the current cycle would be an energy being.

    As far as fantasy or magical fairy tales go, this is pretty involved and interesting.

    Clinteas @#21, to answer your question: Since traditional Hindu philosophy is more spiritual than anything, average Hindus do not take the mythical creation seriously or literally. In fact, all these are considered esoteric, and therefore, in the realm of priests, religious leaders, ascetics and hermits, and of course, big budget movies. But in today’s reality, the fundamentalist Hindu is no better or worse than the fundamentalist Christian, Muslim or Jew – equally warped in their worldview, driven by insane zealotry, and often avarice, greed and lust for power and prestige either here or in the hereafter.

  41. #41 Feynmaniac
    March 1, 2009

    Facilis,

    Hindu myths never made sense to me.

    And of course the idea that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you telepathically tell him you accept him as you master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magic tree just makes perfect sense.

  42. #42 Interrobang
    March 1, 2009

    That was good. Thanks for linking.

    The first part with Lexi the cat wanting to be fed totally cracked me up. Mine doesn’t trampoline on my head, but that’s just because he hasn’t thought to do that yet, evil beast…

  43. #43 SteveC
    March 1, 2009

    I’m surely not the first to notice this (probably several billion Hindus precede me) but it’s interesting that Vishnu didn’t create the universe. Vishnu created a servant. Vishnu’s servant created the universe.

    So, if one is to try to unify a few religions, one might conclude that Yahweh is Vishnu’s servant.

    Not that any of that makes any sense, but somehow it makes me chuckle.

  44. #44 Rey Fox
    March 1, 2009

    “And of course the idea that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you telepathically tell him you accept him as you master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magic tree just makes perfect sense.”

    Impossibility of the contrary, dude!

  45. #45 Anonymous
    March 1, 2009

    Clinteas:

    Are there literalists on their side,regarding this Hindu creation myth?

    Its very hard to be one since there are many, many creation myths in ‘Hinduism’(There is actually no one thing which responds to the word). A lot of these myths come from the Puranas, which are not given as much of an importance as the four Vedas. Creation myths differ from region to region (sometimes villages), they are essentially versions of Puranic stories mixed with local tribal myths. So if pressed (“You really believe that?”) an average Hindu would probably claim something from the Rg Veda (I think this is also quoted in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos):

    Rg Veda Book X, Hymn cxxix

    1. THEN was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
    What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?
    2 Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day’s and night’s divider.
    That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.
    3 Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated chaos.
    All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of Warmth was born that Unit.
    4 Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit.
    Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s kinship in the non-existent.
    5 Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it?
    There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder
    6 Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation?
    The gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?
    7 He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it,
    Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.

    The important idea is that the ‘gods’ came after (they are like the Justice League, only cooler). “He, the first origin of this creation” refers to Prajapati (in later traditions he is identified with Vishnu(Vaishnavism) or Shiva(Shaivism)). And there is no such thing as a big ‘God’, but something called Brahman (an idea explored later in the Upanisads).

    This leads to some strange (wrt Western traditions) consequences. To give two different examples: the single most influential religious ‘saint’ and philosopher in India, Sankaracharya (around 800 CE) mocked the idea of a Creator-god (Isvara). The leader of a popular, Hindu far-right wing party (Shiv Sena, literally, ‘Shiv’s Army’) is an atheist.

  46. #46 SteveC
    March 1, 2009

    “And yet, i still have an affinity for them , not for any actual history, but for the part inside of each of us that longs fro something fantastic to be true. I believed in Santa Claus until I grew up, but the idea is still wonderful.”

    this weird desire for the fantastic to be true is far from universal. I do not seem th have this trait.

  47. #47 bootsy
    March 1, 2009

    @31: That’s fascinating. I’ve always understood Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament (if you’ve heard of it) to be a similar sort of ‘religious’ text that actually critiques religious ideas of omnipotence and eternity.

    The “Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity” phrase I’ve often heard interpreted by Christians to be an attack on pride, whereas a better translation is “Utterly senseless, everything is senseless!” Which you can interpret as nihilsm, or you can think of it as forcing the listener to find his own meaning in life (a very atheist/agnostic thing to do).

  48. #48 Knockgoats
    March 1, 2009

    The best creation myth I know of is in John Horton Conway’s On Numbers and Games. I don’t have a copy, so this is an outline from memory:

    In the beginning was the empty set, . The empty set begat 0: {|}; 0 and begat 1 {0|} and -1 {|0}; 0 and 1 begat 1/2 {0|1}, and, with the empty set, 2 {0,1|}… He gets all the reals, plus lots of transfinite ordinals and infinitesimals, and a whole lot of more complicated mathematical objects (“games”) in this way. Admittedly, the origin of the physical world is more hand-wavey – but at least, unlike all these religious cheats, he really does start from nothing!

  49. #49 Chris Davis
    March 1, 2009

    “In the Beginning, there was this Turtle.
    And the Turtle was Alone.
    And he looked around, and saw his Neighbour,
    Which was his Mother.

    And he lay upon his Mother, and behold!
    She bore him, in tears, an Oak Tree.
    Which grew all day, and then fell over.

    And under this Tree was walking a Catfish.
    And he was very big.
    And he was the biggest he had seen.
    And the fiery Balls of this Catfish –
    The one is The Sun.
    And the other they call: The Moon…”

    The Big Bang according to Firesign Theatre

  50. #50 bootsy
    March 1, 2009

    @48: I would guess almost every sci-fi writer of the modern age has taken a stab at an origin story. And has probably done a more consistent, believable job of it than ancient myths.

    In my historical bible class in college, which was fascinating, we read the old and new testament based on the late-19th-century German scholarship that started trying to ferret out the original canon and where the various fragmentary stories in the bible came from. Our professor made the point that these stories were originally oral, and so consistency didn’t matter. Almost no one was literate, so few could re-read a passage and discover how contradictory and illogical everything was.

  51. #51 Knockgoats
    March 1, 2009

    for the part inside of each of us that longs for something fantastic to be true. – Matt

    Like SteveC@46, I have no such “part”. You are invalidly generalising from your own psychology.

  52. #52 Atanu Dey
    March 1, 2009

    Since Anonymous at #44 mentioned Carl Sagan’s book, here’s a relevant piece where he mentions Nataraja, Shiva’s form as the cosmic dancer who brings the universe into being and then dissolves it. About Nataraja, he writes:

    It is the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of.

    The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long; longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang.

    And there are much longer time scales still.There is the deep and appealing notion that the universe is but the dream of the god who, after a Brahma years, dissolves himself into a dreamless sleep. The universe dissolves with him – until, after another Brahma century, he stirs, recomposes himself and begins again to dream the great cosmic dream.

    These profound and lovely images are, I like to imagine, a kind of premonition of modern astronomical ideas.

    I have a page on my blog on Tandava, Shiva’s Cosmic Dance. It’s taken from Heinrich Zimmer’s book ?Philosophies of India.?

  53. #53 Anonymous
    March 1, 2009

    Kaushik@40

    The Hiranyagarbha floated around in emptiness and the darkness of the non-existence for about a year, and then broke into two halves, and there was Vishnu (a.k.a. Narayan) – the manifest form of the Supreme Being, the cosmic intelligence. Vishnu created and pervaded the collective totality of universe, and was both within and without it, far and near, moving and unmoving, larger than the largest and smaller than the smallest. In every cycle, the whole universe proceeds from him, subsists in him and in the end recedes unto him. In different ages, he has manifested as a Fish in water, amphibious Turtle, Hog, Half-Lion Half-human hybrid, and of course, human beings. His final form for the current cycle would be an energy being.

    The Dasavatar is not it the Rg Veda, its from the Puranas. Vishnu and Shiva are later modifications of Prajapati and not really the Hiranayagarbha as is understood in the Rg Veda. Hiranyagarbha breaks up into two parts: Swarg and Prithvi. However, Hiranyagarbha would only later be identified with Prajapati. In the Puranic literature, Hiranayagarbha is also identified with Brahma.
    Since your last name seems to indicate you are probably Bengali (as I am) a lot of the re-telling of the Vedas have a decidedly Vaishnav flavour. But, Vishnu is a relatively new deity.

  54. #54 Anonymous Coward
    March 1, 2009

    I have to agree that the Bible must hold some kind of record of boredom. As has been pointed out, there are some gems, but they are few and far between. By the time I got around to reading it, I had already consumed quite a lot of myth (Greek, Roman, Nordic and others) and what immediately struck me, even before the sheer nastiness, was the unending boredom. Not only is most of the text badly written, repititive, overusing the same style tricks over and over until they’re quite stale, but the narrative is for the most part shoddy, incoherent, unimaginative and simply unengaging.

  55. #55 bootsy
    March 1, 2009

    @52: More great stuff (to me, at least). All these ancient myths are fun to dissect, when you use them as metaphors (and not as some crazy literal truth). Some of the ancient stories like this Hindu intuition of great cycles of time probably shouldn’t be thought of as religion, exactly. They sort of get lumped in with ancient folkways.

    Sort of like how the bible contains origin myths, lists of members of each tribe of Hebrews, laws for living, a few possibly slightly accurate histories of the time before the Babylonian exile (you’ll notice that there are fewer miracles in these sections).

    I always feel bad if I somehow blame ancient peoples for the excesses of contemporary religious followers. Ancients were just relying on their own limited information to make sense of the world around them. It’s simply our responsibility to acknowledge that we know more about many areas, and to go on building our knowledge from there.

  56. #56 Nerdette
    March 1, 2009

    I feel like there is a little unjust beating on Matt. Just because one longs for something fantastic to be true, does not mean they deny the reality that it is not possible. While some claim not to have such a trait of considering the impossible, the vast majority of people do. I fantasize on a daily basis the sudden invention of teleportation, but accept the fact that the only way I can transverse the mile to campus is to hoof it myself.

  57. #57 Nerdette
    March 1, 2009

    *transport across

    That’s what I get for doing late night math…

  58. #58 Anonymous
    March 1, 2009

    Atanu @52

    The coolest myth with Shiva and creation is the one where this world is being dreamed up by Shiva and ends when he wakes up. In turn, his world is being dreamed up by another Shiva, etc. This has to be one of the wildest application of recursion ever. Unfortunately, I don’t know which Purana it is from. But, I do know that the idea of Recursion became a popular philosophical idea during Panini’s time, so the myth most probably dates after 400BC.

  59. #59 fcmk
    March 1, 2009

    There is nothing more creative than the creation myth of the Norse mythology. I mean, c’mon: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/creation.html

  60. #60 arekksu
    March 1, 2009

    Couple of years ago, i read the Koran in its entirety. Only the english translation, but it had a simple appeal in its overly repetitive poetic elements (the only bits i really remember are the parts where Mohammed addressess Allah with three or four titles every time he mentions his name).

    Not long after, i borrowed a Bible, got halfway through Genesis and went “fuck this”.

  61. #61 Nsherrard
    March 1, 2009

    I suppose I should start with the standard “I am a staunch atheist” disclaimer. I take my rationalism very seriously, but I must say, how completely absurd. Sorry, but to claim that the poetry of Genesis is “tinny,” which I assume is derogatory despite the fact that “tinny” is an adjective that makes sense in the context of sound, not writing, smacks of philistinism. Likewise the assertion that the western bible is “petty” and “third-rate.” The King James translation is an extraordinary work, and widely acknowledged as such even by such strident atheists as Hitchens (who, whatever one’s disagreements with his character or political views, is perhaps a touch more knowledgeable in literary matters than PZ). But yes, art is subjective, and if PZ doesn’t like biblical poetry, then so be it. Some people can’t stand Shakespeare, although I doubt any would go so far as to call him petty and third-rate. The real problem with this ridiculous claim is that PZ is comparing translations, not the original works. Unless one is fluent in Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and whatever Hindi dialect the Vishnu creation story was written in, one doesn’t have a leg to stand on. For example: “Yo female deity, sing that one about Peleus’ kid, Achilles, how he was royally pissed off, and how that fucked up the Greeks’ shit really bad.” Wow, turns out the Iliad is really a piece of crap. Who knew? Look, the bottom line is that no book, religious or otherwise, survives for thousands of years if it does not resonate deeply with the human beings who are reading it and passing it along. So dismiss the absurdity of belief, by all means, but to dismiss the profound power of biblical language is to seriously underestimate what one is up against, and also, perhaps, to deprive oneself of real beauty because of one’s biases. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. I thoroughly enjoy this blog, but in this particular instance, I am forced to call this one as I see it: fail.

  62. #62 Brian
    March 1, 2009

    Just finished watching Sita Sings the Blues. Wow. What a charmingly eclectic goulash, and very idiosyncratic in the details. I’ve never seen any large-scale works of Nina Paley before — that was great.

  63. #63 uknesvuinng
    March 1, 2009

    #59 That’s good stuff. I especially like that the bridge comes with a disclaimer. Other religions should try that approach.

    “And lo, the Lord shall smite thee for thy transgressions. He may not strike precisely with the affliction, though. This is not the Lord’s fault, for Michael the Archangel sat upon the Lord’s glasses last week, and the replacement pair hath not yet arrived.”

  64. #64 Richard Harris
    March 1, 2009

    Nsherrard, the bottom line is that no book, religious or otherwise, survives for thousands of years if it does not resonate deeply with the human beings who are reading it and passing it along.

    Sorry, but I disagree. The bible has a few verses of pleasing poetry – some of the Psalms, & bits of the Song of Solomon – but mostly it’s a crock of shit.

    The reason this absurd nonsense has survived is because it had the power of religion behind it. First it was the Jews, then the Christians. People, such as William Tyndale, were brutally killed, merely for translating it into their native language.

  65. #65 Walton
    March 1, 2009

    I have to agree that the Bible must hold some kind of record of boredom.

    Not really… have you ever read the Book of Mormon? “And it came to pass that X begat Y and they travelled into the land of Z”… repeat five thousand times…

    But if you want real boredom in written form, try reading some of L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction (not strictly religious texts, of course, though I don’t doubt that many Scientologists venerate all his work). Battlefield Earth made me want to claw my own eyes out. And for a braver man than me, there’s the ten-volume Mission Earth (the longest conventionally-published book in the English language), something I’ve never read and don’t intend to.

  66. #66 GMacs
    March 1, 2009

    I like the Celtic myths, but the interesting thing about them is that they don’t have a creation myth. Time was infinite to the Celts, and could be warped if you ventured between this world and that of the Sid.

  67. #67 Tony Sidaway
    March 1, 2009

    I’m watching it now at thirteen.org.

    The music sounds eerily like Kraftwerk.

  68. #68 Matt Heath
    March 1, 2009

    @Nsherrard: I thought you were doing pretty well there until you wrote “whatever Hindi dialect the Vishnu creation story was written in”. That pretty much killed off your credibility as a snearing aesthete; it’s a bit like referring to “whatever Spanish dialect Virgil wrote in”.

  69. #69 Paul
    March 1, 2009

    He grew a lotus flower out of his navel? What, did the guy never shower?

  70. #70 The Wanderer
    March 1, 2009

    I created a creation myth a while back for the characters in one of my books. It’s a tad hierarchical, but it runs a bit like this:
    There is a Creative Power, detached and aloof, completely impersonal. From It arose the Deities (I think you could consider them asexual, as they are neither male nor female). One of them created the first actual being, a female.
    Since she was the first created being, all of the plants, animals, insects – basically all living organisms – arose from her as she breathed and walked. Finally she realized that there was no male of her kind, and she wept. As she wept she menstruated and the male arose from the blood that dripped to the soil.
    The final line of the myth has the Female and Male performing a creative act for “thirteen times thirteen days and thirteen times thirteen nights” and they gave birth to the Race.
    It’s rather silly compared to all the other myths I’ve studied, but it’s engaging.

  71. #71 Stagyar zil Doggo
    March 1, 2009

    Regarding aesthetic pleasures to be found in Hindu religious/mythical texts:
    It should be noted that most (or perhaps all) of these were orally transmitted for several centuries before being put down on paper(actually palm leaf scrolls, I think). So like the Iliad and Odessey, these narratives likely improved much in the retelling. Contrast this with the New Testament in which each chapter was (for the most part) composed by just one man and is – not counting translation – available to us in its original form.

    On being recorded on (relatively) permanent media, the narratives became predominantly locked in and could not be improved upon, except in translation. But if the translator was aiming primarily for accuracy, the aesthetics could only suffer …

  72. #72 Tim Harris
    March 1, 2009

    There is quite a bit in the Bible that is beautiful and well-written: The Song of Solomon, some of the Psalms (not the one about dashing babies’brains out), the Book of Job, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, the Book of Judith, and other wonderful stories… and I am not so distressed by the Creation myth(s) as PZ (though I hugely admire also some of the various Hindu myths of creation, as well as the account in the Tao te Ching, that stimulated the imagination of Joseph Needham) – but of course much of the Bible wasn’t intended to be beautiful or ‘literature’, but to be useful, and so it is a bit silly to complain about the aridity of large stretches of it. Somebody has mentioned Haydn’s ‘Creation’; that of course was based on the greatest long poem in English, ‘Paradise Lost’, a poem which one does not have to a Christian, or anywhere near a Christian, to enjoy, admire, and be profoundly moved by; it is tremendous. The problem, PZ, is not the literary qualities of the Bible, or the lack of them, but the emphasis in Christianity (and in Islam, and increasingly in Hinduism) on willed belief in the truth of things that are either unprovable or patently false, including of course, in the case of Christianity, the truth of at least certain parts of the Bible. I wish, PZ, you would concentrate your energies and your considerable intellect on that problem, which is the only important one, and not waste your time on peripheral issues – complaining about the style of the Bible is not really going to win anyone over.

  73. #73 HalfMooner
    March 1, 2009

    That was simply beautiful. Thanks for making us aware of “Sita Sings the Blues,” PZ!

  74. #74 Cruithne
    March 1, 2009

    Time was infinite to the Celts, and could be warped if you ventured between this world and that of the Sid.

    There’s a great old rock album called The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony, by an Irish group called Horslips which focusses on some of the stories of the Sidhe arriving “in boats from the sky” and whatnot.

  75. #75 Hoonser
    March 1, 2009

    Flash is the absolute worst thing to ever happen to animation. That was garbage.

  76. #76 The Wanderer
    March 1, 2009

    Hoonser, I respectfully disagree. I’ve seen some really spectacular Flash animations.

    Of course, most of them have been anthropomorphic porn …

  77. #77 Bruno
    March 1, 2009

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmg46Zq13wI

    Phanes /Protogonos has a good yarn too.

  78. #78 Bob
    March 1, 2009

    The poetry of Genesis “tinny”?? Have you listened to it in its original language? Or really listened to it in King James English? What is described in the opening poetic passages of Genesis is any creative act – any creative act: science, art, cooking, cosmetics, biology, writing a comment here – all of them follow the same pattern of making order from chaos.

  79. #79 Mark Borok
    March 1, 2009

    Creation Myth:

    At first there were just the three of them ? Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, taking their siesta under the World Tree together. Above them was emptiness, while below were the Waters of Life-Giving, dark and bottomless. Other than this there was nothing.
    Tomorrow said, ?Isn?t it a fine thing to be here in the shade of this tree, away from the heat of the sun? I can think of nothing pleasanter.?
    ?Yes, indeed,? said Yesterday. ?But you will observe that there is no sun in the sky, just the dark void.?
    Today grunted; then he made the sun and hung it in the sky overhead. Now there was a nice, cool shade under the tree where the three of them were floating.
    ?Like I said, I can think of nothing pleasanter than this,? said Tomorrow. ?The shade of this tree, the sensation of floating on these buoyant waters ? so much nicer than the hard, stony ground??
    ?There is no ground anywhere,? observed Yesterday. ?Only the bottomless Waters of Life-Giving.?
    Today thought for a bit and made the earth, stretching it out in every direction for a great distance. It covered the Waters completely, except for a round lake around the base of the world tree where they floated still.
    Tomorrow continued; ?Although you may say that a breeze is refreshing, I for one am glad that it isn?t windy where we are. Too much wind can ruin an otherwise perfect day outdoors.?
    ?I don?t know what you mean by ?outdoors?, brother,? said Yesterday. ?And as for wind, no such thing exists.?
    Today shrugged and waved his hand in the air. The air stirred to life and so the four winds were born; they roamed over the newly made earth and whipped up the dust, avoiding only the lake where Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow floated under the tree. They whipped up the dust for thousands of years until they had formed it into mountains.
    ?What a splendid view!? said Tomorrow, spreading his hands as if to embrace the horizon. ?Imagine if we had a whole forest of trees blocking it. Yes, it?s nice to sit here and admire the unobstructed view and I?m glad the birds are quiet, too.?
    ?Birds?? asked Yesterday.
    Today knocked on the tree and instantly seeds of every kind grew from its branches and the winds picked them up and spread them all over the earth. Birds appeared among the leaves, but the birds slept and the seeds, wherever they alighted on the ground, lay dormant.
    And so it went. In this way the whole of the world and everything in it was created, all for the comfort and delight of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, who continued exactly as before ? floating in silence, undisturbed by any of it. When Tomorrow was satisfied that everything was still perfect he yawned and went to sleep. Yesterday followed his example. Today pulled the ground over them like a blanket, forming the World Mountain, and then he, too, fell asleep. And as they slept the birds and animals awoke, the trees and flowers grew and life began in earnest?

  80. #80 Elwood Herring
    March 1, 2009

    In the Beginning was the Word… well that’s not quite true. Actually before the Word came the Clearing of the Throat. And it wasn’t just a word either, it was more like:

    “A-one, a-two, a one two three four…”

    And thus was the Universe created in four-four time.

    (At least that’s the view of the Common Time-ists. I am more inclined to the belief that the Universe is inherently waltz-like, with the odd bar in seven-eight to keep things interesting.)

    Elwood

  81. #81 Brian
    March 1, 2009

    Are you fucking joking PZ? Dave Noon from Lawyers, Guns, and Money will soon be offering you a free membership to the Philistine Club of America. The fucking Bible is without doubt a wonderful work of art, at least the equal of anything in the Hindu canon. I speak here as an atheist. You are of course entitled to your unsophisticated opinion–some people really do dislike Shakespeare and frolicking puppies–but really, this is beneath you. You should be embarrassed to share your ignorance and middlebrow taste with anyone.

  82. #82 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 1, 2009

    Brain, the bible is trash as a work of art. Unless the art is illogic, bit your tail idiocy.

  83. #83 PZ Myers
    March 1, 2009

    Nope, no joke. 90% of the bible is abysmal garbage, and I include the book of Genesis in that category. There are bits that are wonderful — Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, a few of the stories in the new testament — but the whole book is a hodge-podge.

    You have to recognize that nothing in the book was selected for inclusion on the basis of its literary quality, but to address abstract theological arguments and local politics and jostlings within the church hierarchy.

    Seriously. Try reading Genesis without the cultural bias, this default lens of respect that we give to it. It’s dull, confusing, ugly stuff. Ecclesiastes, as one example, can stand alone, but Leviticus? Jebus. Revelation? It’s like the deranged scribblings of Charles Manson.

  84. #84 Michelle
    March 1, 2009

    It’s a very pretty story for sure. Artsy and all. I gotta watch that movie.

    But if there’s one thing I like in all silliness, it’s the japanese creation myths. It just shows they were REALLY weird from the start. It just leaves you with a big “WTF?!” face.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_16962_bukkake-gods-japans-insane-creation-myths.html

  85. #85 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 1, 2009

    The fucking Bible is without doubt a wonderful work of art, at least the equal of anything in the Hindu canon. I speak here as an atheist. You are of course entitled to your unsophisticated opinion–some people really do dislike Shakespeare and frolicking puppies–but really, this is beneath you.

    Comparing the bible to Shakespeare?

    Now that is funny.

  86. #86 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 1, 2009

    Bah, I really had a bad case of typos for post #82. Need more coffee.

  87. #87 Christiaan
    March 1, 2009

    The bible third-rate? I think not; the Song of Solomon is one of the best early erotic poems around.
    And the bible beats the quran any day of the week.

    And for those that liked the Hindu creation myth, check out the Norse creation myth. It’s insanity defined.

  88. #88 Danio
    March 1, 2009

    Comparing the bible to Shakespeare?

    Indeed, this made me choke on my first cuppa. And we’re supoosed to be the unsophistocated, middlebrows.

    Stranger still, though was the inclusion of ‘frolicking puppies’ in that insult. What are they for? Hors d’ouevres?

  89. #89 Danio
    March 1, 2009

    “supoosed” /sb/ “supposed”
    “sophistocated”/sb/”sophisticated”
    extraneous comma.

    Evidently I have not yet reached the caffeine load required for accurate 8AM proofreading.

  90. #90 Becca Stareyes
    March 1, 2009

    I remember reading a book when I was in middle school — ‘In the Beginning’ by Virginia Hamilton. It was a book of retelling of creation myths, including the Biblical one. Really interesting.

    I also think my period of interest in mythology as a kid was also when I read a children’s Bible cover-to-cover. (Basically, a summary of the Bible in language kids could understand, pictures, and cutting out all the boring bits about what not to eat and who beget who.) IIRC, I tended to view them about the same, except with the realization that one had current adherents and the other not so much.

    (Also, I reserve the right to note that the beauty of the Bible’s language depends on being able to read ancient Hebrew/Greek/etc. IIRC from my lessons on Greek epic poetry, a lot of oral texts had a lot of poetic devices used in them to make them easier to memorize and recite — think about how many songs all of you can sing versus stories or plays you can recite. Plus, a lot of holy books were probably assembled after they had caught on, taking the bits that the assemblers thought were important*, and not the bits we think are good stories or pretty poetry.

    Not a Bibilcal scholar, so take this with a grain of salt.

    * Hence the dietary laws, and the history bits, with the justification that ‘God is on our side, or we wouldn’t have won’.)

  91. #91 Sven DiMilo
    March 1, 2009

    Wait, the claim is that some people don’t like frolicking puppies? And that these same people also dislike Shakespeare? And that there are also people (are these different people now?) who don’t appreciate The Bible as art?
    My own unsolicited opinion is that certain parts, even whole “books” of TB are worthy of appreciation as art, and that these parts are generally those (SoS, Psalms, others) that were actually intended as art. The millenia of committee decisions that produced the rest, not so much.
    But seriously, frolicking puppies?

  92. #92 blf
    March 1, 2009

    Well, the KJV was written when Shakespeare was alive and in his prime. The King James of the KJV was also the patron of Shakespeare’s company, The King’s Men. So you can compare them by age and patronage with some validity. (Of course, the source material for the KJV is much older.)

    Content-wise they are utterly different (except for both being fiction), in both subject and quality. The KJV is bilge (with a few exceptions) whilst it’s the other way around for Shakespeare’s existing works. And an intriguing point about Shakespeare’s work is there’s almost no mention at all of the babble or its fiction.

  93. #93 AnthonyK
    March 1, 2009

    I have always thought it fascinating that religion is essentially absent from Shakespeare’s work. Of course the Gods are in there, but not the Christian one. Some say that he couldn’t put references in there because of the politico/religious attitude at the time, or that he was a secret Catholic, and placed coded references in his work…but I think it’s more significant that the greatest writer ever, living in a religious age, should make no comment regarding Christ or Christianity.
    Bill Bryson’s book Shakespeare is very good, incidentally – and very brief!

  94. #94 blueelm
    March 1, 2009

    “for the part inside of each of us that longs for something fantastic to be true.”

    I almost understand, but not quite. Why does it need to be true? Can’t it just be beautiful? I find lots of stories wonderful, but even as a child I never felt a sense of sadness that they were not real depictions of life… only that they were fantastic things to think of. I work as an artist, but to me all these creative expressions are facets of real true human minds and thought processes. I’m actually curious why so many people feel a need for the art to transcend the human nature of the people who make it.

  95. #95 PeteC
    March 1, 2009

    What is the original source of this Hindu creation myth with the navel and the lotus and the bowing? All I can find on the web are a bunch of websites that refer to a page on a Catholic college. Where did it come from? Who translated it into English? And how much poetic license was taken?

    The beauty you are finding in this passage may have more to do with a talented English translator, than the original Sanskrit text…

  96. #96 Stewart
    March 1, 2009

    What a nice post for a regular Pharyngula reader who’s also an Annette Hanshaw fan of long standing. Do see it if you haven’t yet. I caught it in Berlin last year with Nina Paley in attendance. Though I originally got hooked from the musical side (people like the Dorsey brothers and Benny Goodman were accompanying her before they got famous themselves), the film was a delightful surprise in other respects, too. The recurring soundtrack discussion which tries to clarify the Indian mythology with imagery that keeps changing to match what’s being said is hilarious (and was apparently recorded without any scripting). If I could think of a film with which to compare it to encourage you to see it, I would, but absolutely nothing ever done before suggests itself.

  97. #97 Susan
    March 1, 2009

    @16, SC, OM

    About a guy (no comment)

    No kidding. Any creation myth starring a male immediately screams “wishful thinking.” All the snake imagery’s a bit obvious, too, don’t you think?

    My book club tried reading Genesis once, taking turns. We literally put each other to sleep, and I don’t think it was our reading skillz. You can pick and choose some interesting bits and call it “great,” but isn’t that true of anything?

  98. #98 Doc Bill
    March 1, 2009

    After I viewed it some years ago I searched the web and downloaded all the Annette Hanshaw I could find.

    That’s all!

  99. #99 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 1, 2009

    Unknown to most scholars, the phrase “A vast dark ocean washed upon the shores of nothingness and licked the edges of night” was originally coined by a debater whose name is lost to history to refer to his opponent’s (lack of) mental faculties. The opponent, Rayjiv Comfortama, is notable for using the fruit of the domesticated banana plant as proof of the existence of Vishnu.

    “Lost to history”? His name is C?rv?ka, he of the clear voice.

    the Rig Veda (variously dated to be a couple of thousand years old)

    Probably 1700 BC.

    DIE SCHOPFUNG, remember: the first part is sung VERY softly (after the overture). In order to hear the bass sing “In Anfane schuff Gott Himmel und Erde”

    Die Schpfung, Im [or, less Latin, am] Anfang schuf Gott Himmel und Erde.

    And of course the idea that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you telepathically tell him you accept him as you master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magic tree just makes perfect sense.

    If — unlike Facilis — you take the separate stories as separate stories, some of them do make sense. Look here for Genesis 2:4b — 3:24. Genesis 1:1 — 2:3 is a cunning distortion of the En?ma Elis into a roaring speech against polytheism and pantheism; it’s the demystification of nature…

    The gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?
    7 He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.

    Wow. Humblest myth ever.

    There is quite a bit in the Bible that is beautiful and well-written: [...] Ecclesiastes

    That one is best in the original Klingon Lolcat. Here’s the first half of Chapter 1:

    Everything Iz Ghey

    1 Teh werdz ov teh preechur, teh son ov David, King of teh Jerusalem. 2 “St00pid! St00pid!” Sez teh teechurcat. “Srsly st00pid. Everythingz ghey.” 3 Wut man getz 4 laburz he toilz @ undur teh sunz? 4 Generashun comez n generashun goez, still same lolcats. 5 Sun rizez n setz, goez bak n rize agin. 6 Teh wind blowz souf n norf, rownd n rownd, alwayz teh sayme. 7 Seaz can has streemz, nevur fullz. Streemz go bak where comez frum. 8 All tingz has DO NOT WANT, more den werdz sez. Lolrus never sez “enuf bucket, kthnx” or kitteh sez “dats good, enuff cheezburger.” 9 Has happen? Gunna be agin. Nuthing new undur teh sunz. 10 Kitteh can not sez “OMFGZ sumthing new!” is jus REPOST!. 11 New kittahz 4gitz old kittahz, new kittahz 4gitd bai even newer kittahz.

  100. #100 blueelm
    March 1, 2009

    “Shakespeare and frolicking puppies”

    LMAO! Because Shakespeare is just so pedestrian.

  101. #101 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 1, 2009

    Damn. I foresee the LOLCAT bible getting a lot of play here.

    I know I’ll be using it.

  102. #102 Chris Tucker
    March 1, 2009

    For those who are bit torrent savvy and unable to view the Channel 13 version,

    this MIGHT be of some interest:

    http://www.demonoid.com/files/download/HTTP/1811510/4575403

  103. #103 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 1, 2009

    Oh. Should have put that in 10pt. Why does Arial look so different in 10pt than in 12pt?

    You can pick and choose some interesting bits and call it “great,” but isn’t that true of anything?

    No.

  104. I’ve seen bits ofSita over the past few years, and I’m thrilled that it’s completed. I recommend Nina’s short work Fetch just for fun. And of course, Thank You for Not Breeding.

    Creation myths: I’m reposting something I posted here in 2005, for the new kids:

    The folks just north of here have my favorite creation myth, because it has the best creator’s comment ever.

    Komokums lived under Clear Lake, and at that time Clear Lake was the whole world. One day he popped up to the surface and got bored with nothing but water all ’round to look at. He scooped up some mud from the bottom of the lake and put it on the water and started patting it, patting it, here and there. When he was patting it, it started spreading out and after a while just patting it, patting it, it spread out all over the horizons in every direction and became the world.

    “Oh,” said Komokums, “I didn’t know it would do that.”

  105. #105 SC, OM
    March 1, 2009

    “Oh,” said Komokums, “I didn’t know it would do that.”

    :) Profound in many ways.

  106. #106 Eveningsun
    March 1, 2009

    nothing in the book was selected for inclusion on the basis of its literary quality. Not necessarily so. It’s hard to see the Song of Songs or Ecclesiastes or even Job being included for their theology. Might be that they were included out of a general respect for their antiquity–but even then they might have survived long enough to become antique because of their literary quality.

    There are wonderful new translations out there I’d like to recommend:

    Jonathan Alter’s “The David Story” (which pulls the David cycle out of the larger and later “Bible”)

    Raymond Scheindlin’s “The Book of Job”

    Ariel and Chana Bloch’s “Song of Songs”

    The increasing quality and popularity of these translations suggests to me that the canonization process, in which the Bible’s various components were assembled into the cumbersome and often boring anthology called “the Bible,” is now reversing itself. As the good works come to be read more and more on their own, the bad stuff won’t be able to compete and perhaps will fade away. Perhaps someday it’ll only be religious historians who speak of this thing once known as the Bible–but people will still be enjoying Ecclesiastes and Job and a few other works that will survive, not because they were bundled with superior works, but on their merits.

  107. #107 tim Rowledge
    March 1, 2009

    And thus was the Universe created in four-four time.

    Oh foo – everyone with better than half a brain knows that the universes run off the opening riff of Tubular Bells. 7/8, 7/8, 7/8, 9/8……

  108. #108 Josh
    March 1, 2009

    #93: When Shakespeare’s characters live in Christian societies, as in Hamlet, they make reference to the Christian God and Christian ethics (note all the concern in that play with old Hamlet’s having died unshriven and the possibility that Claudius will go to Heaven); when they live in pagan societies, as in Lear, they refer to “the gods.” Religion shows up in Shakespeare, as in many great narrative artists, as just one aspect of characters’ lives and perceptions: his works don’t take a stand against it, like a Voltaire story, or for it, like Flannery O’Connor. I can’t imagine drawing inferences from that about his own convictions.

  109. #109 Susan
    March 1, 2009

    @ 103 David Marjanovi?, OM

    No.

    And yet, it’s been quite inspiring, in its own way.

  110. #110 BlindRobin
    March 1, 2009

    ~3/48 of a day well spent. Very nice fillum I’m sending it along to frenz.

  111. #111 dieselrain
    March 1, 2009

    “The Origin of Life and Death, African Creation Myths” by Ulli Beier, published 1966, makes fun reading. Eighteen different myths. Does not include the Masaai myth that when God created the earth, he gave ALL cattle to the Masaai so when Masaai warriors raid other tribes and steal the cattle, they’re just taking back what God gave them in the first place! Convenient, eh?

  112. #112 Gene
    March 1, 2009

    Where’s Cuttlefish when you need him to come up with some really inspiring poetry? I think Cuttlefish should create his own entire poetic creation mythology. I’d buy the book!

  113. #113 Charles Minus
    March 1, 2009

    Question for Matt @ #37: If you’re still with us.

    I have always loved reading different creation myths. Can you recommend a good compilation of such, so we can see a lot of them all in one place?

  114. #114 Stewart
    March 1, 2009

    @Doc Bill #98

    Well, I’m not old enough to have bought the original 78s when they first came out, but I can claim to have grabbed (yes, and paid for) all the Annette Hanshaw recordings I came across that had been reissued on vinyl. And when I started doing that, she was still alive, so it’s got to be a good quarter century ago. The style grabbed me the very first time I was exposed to it (haven’t forgotten; it was “Telling it to the Daisies” on BBC World Service).

  115. #115 peter
    March 1, 2009

    Comparing the bible to Shakespeare? Now that is funny.

    How so, when Shakespeare himself WROTE the King James version of the Bible?! Consider: While Shakespeare’s date of birth is unknown, the best estimates of scholars have him being 46 years old at the time the writing of the KJV was completed (1610). Look at Psalm 46 – the 46th word from the beginning is “shake”, and the 46th word from the end is “spear” (disregarding the “Amen” inserted at the end of each Psalm) – this is the Bard’s secret message to you, saying “I wrote this”.

  116. #116 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 1, 2009

    Well I’m convinced.

  117. #117 Patricia, OM
    March 1, 2009

    Now I’m gonna be hooked on Annette Henshaw. :)

    Went over to YouTube and watched ‘The Stork’ by Paley. That should be shown in every school everywhere.

    AnthonyK, Have a look at Paley’s cartoon called ‘Fetch’ it’s starring your favorite body part. *smirk*

  118. #118 Patricia, OM
    March 1, 2009

    Damn cooties. Hanshaw.

  119. #119 Jaycubed
    March 1, 2009

    Nobody appears to have mentioned the rape of Ushas from the Rig Veda. Her virginal blood created the first dawn (Ushas is cognate with Aurora & Eos) and began time.

  120. #120 Anton Mates
    March 1, 2009

    I like the Enuma Elish, because the big fight scene reads like a video game.

    When Tiamat slows down, Z-target her and launch the Net of Anu. She will become tangled, then open her mouth to fire. Immediately cast Seven Winds, and she will inflate and begin to flash red. Now strike with your spear as many times as you can before she recovers. After three repetitions of this, you should defeat her. Her corpse can be used to generate 1 Heaven and 1 Ocean once you rank your Cleave spell to 10.

  121. Shakespeare WROTE the Bible? LOLzers! I have heard the secret message claim before, but usually it’s the more modest claim that Shakespeare was one of the translators.

    Personally I do very much like the King James for the language – but of course some parts are boring and some are horrific. I find the laws anthropologically interesting, and there’s blood & gore & sex enough for dozens of Hollywood boy movies. That “dashing babies on the rocks” poem has inspired many songs ancient and modern… That’s the one that starts with “By the waters of Babylon”, in case you didn’t know :)

    Mark Twain nailed it: “It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.”

  122. #122 'Tis Himself
    March 1, 2009

    The best use of the Genesis myth was in Isaac Asimov’s short story “The Last Question.

  123. #123 Rick T
    March 1, 2009

    To those who insist on defending the literary excellence of the Bible (against all good taste) I submit for consideration the opinion of Hector Avalos. He has written a book called, The End of Biblical Studies. One of his reasons for putting the study of the Bible out of it’s misery is the fact that it has not much value as an example of great literature. It has been highly overrated.
    Some of you have offered up a few books that are worthy of being considered good literature but most of it is drek.
    I can’t tell you how many times the reading of this book put me to sleep as a youngster. And I was trying to get to heaven and still couldn’t keep my attention focused and my eyes open even with eternal bliss at stake.

  124. #124 Holbach
    March 1, 2009

    Read the bible? I would rather read a roll of toilet paper than deaden my brain over that crap.

  125. #125 Nsherrard
    March 1, 2009

    @68 Yes, fair enough, I suppose Sanskrit has a similar relation to Hindi as Latin to Spanish. However, “sneering aesthete” was not really what I was going for. I was simply pointing out a serious, and in my opinion fatal, flaw in PZ’s reasoning. My knowledge of the lingual history of the Hindi sacred texts is clearly limited. Accuracy is something to be striven for, even when one is writing an off-the-cuff polemic on a blog, and I appreciate the correction, but does my mistake alter my point in any way?

  126. #126 Brian Matchick
    March 1, 2009

    This exchange between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers always spoke to me. Good old Campbell; a marvelous teacher. He knew how to take these old myths, emphasize the metaphor, turn them around so they point inward and show how they can actually mean something even today and highlight the beauty in the world. I heard him comment once that he was so disappointed when during one of the moon shots one of the astronauts read from Genesis. He said it was a shame something more poetic and meaningful wasn’t chosen.

    Moyers: Don’t you think modern Americans have rejected the ancient idea of nature as a divinity
    because it would have kept us from achieving dominance over nature? How can you cut down
    trees and uproot the land and turn the rivers into real estate without killing God?
    Cambell: Yes, but that’s not simply a characteristic of modern Americans, that the biblical
    condemnation of nature which they inherited from their own religion and brought with them,
    mainly from England. God is separate from nature, and nature is condemned of God. It’s right
    there in Genesis: we are to be the masters of the world.
    Campbell: Well, you read from Genesis, and I’ll read from the creation stories in others cultures,
    and we’ll see.
    Moyers: Genesis 1: ”And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
    Campbell: And from the Upanishads: ”Then he realized, I indeed, I am this creation, for I have
    poured it forth from myself. In that way he became this creation. Verily, he who knows this
    becomes in this creation a creator.” That is the clincher there. When you know this, then you have identified with the creative principle, which is the God power in the world, which means in you. It’s beautiful.

    Moyers: But weren’t the people who told these stories asking, for example: Who made the world?
    How was the world made? Why was the world made? Aren’t these the questions that these
    creation stories are trying to address?
    Campbell: No. Its through that answer that they see that the creator is present in the whole world.
    You see what I mean? This story from the Upanishads that we have just read?”I see that I am
    this creation,” says the god. When you see that God is the creation, and that you are a creature,
    you realize that God is within you, and in the man or woman with whom you are talking, as well.

  127. #127 Stewart
    March 1, 2009

    @Patricia, OM #117 & 118

    I’m sure you’re not the only one getting hooked, which is making me very happy (hell, I wasn’t a Hanshaw fan all these years in order to be elitist) and which also makes the copyright-holders’ attitude less understandable. Why don’t they cut a deal instead of trying to suppress (which will only backfire on them anyway with a movie like this)? BTW, you really haven’t seen this picture till you’ve seen it with an audience.

  128. #128 Timothy (TRiG)
    March 1, 2009

    Even the Gods came after its emergence.

    – post 31.

    The gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?

    – post 44.

    So Douglas Adams wasn’t the first with that idea!

    TRiG.

  129. #129 Mrs Tilton
    March 1, 2009

    It is so long that I cannot remember where I saw or heard this, but I have a vague recollection of some comedy cleric or other recounting the creation story along these lines: ‘In the beginning, there was nothing. Then the Lord said, “Let there be light!” And there was still nothing. But now you could see it.’

  130. #130 E.V.
    March 1, 2009

    Why would a unique being, a deity who created all things have a gender?
    And if there had to be a gender, a sex, wouldn’t it be female for the sake of parthenogenesis?

    A lone male god with a set of twig and berries is just laughable and sick, obviously he’s going to rape one of his creations to beget a demigod.

    Why doesn’t Jesus spring up out of the ground like Adam?

    It is fun to yell, “Gods Balls!” when parodying profane oaths like “Zounds!” (God’s Wounds!).

  131. #131 Anonym
    March 1, 2009

    Why doesn’t Jesus spring up out of the ground like Adam?

    . . . or like Mithras!

  132. #132 Katkinkate
    March 1, 2009

    Posted by: Facilis @ 20 “Hindu myths never made sense to me.”

    That’s ’cause they’re, like, myths man! If they made sense they’d be … science.

  133. #133 Holbach
    March 1, 2009

    I should have mentioned that I am also a fan of Annette Hanshaw and have five CD’s of her wonderful singing. Much before my time, but that is the thrill of discovering great music of another era, which for me is the popular and jazz music of the 1920′s and 1930′s. Ruth Etting is another fine singer of that period, a pleasant rival to Annette and a double dose of really great music. Thank science for the CD, and Tom Edison for it’s precursor in the phonograph which gave Annette and Ruth the ability to spread joy.

  134. #134 Doc Bill
    March 1, 2009

    OK, here’s a treat for Annette Hanshaw fans. Unfortunately, in this video she doesn’t do her signature “that’s all” at the end of the song. Alas.

    But, she is wonderful.

    Annette

  135. #135 Holbach
    March 1, 2009

    Doc Bill @ 134

    Nice to see another Annette fan out there. Have seen that clip many times previously and never tire of listening and looking at that charming sweetie.
    I may be right in suspecting that you are also a jazz lover of that period, and here is a site that will thrill you into swooning. Sure beats religion any day!

    http://.www.jimmiejazzarchive.com/index.php

  136. #136 faux
    March 1, 2009

    When I was a teenager I started playing a lot of D&D and noticed that every creation myth, be they real world or admitted fiction, had exactly the same probability. No matter how you dressed them up, no matter how much poetry was used (and they all are poetry in their mother language) they still had zero chance of being proven or even real.

    But then I read A History of Knowledge by Charles Van Doren and was completely underwhelmed by its dependence on theology to support its very lame points. And looking for another side things I read Brief History of Time and thought “Thats a little better”. Then I read Demon Haunted World. Nothing was the same for me after that.
    All creation myths a poetic and crappy. But science offered a whole other way of things starting that didn’t require poetry but was poetic in a different way.

  137. #137 Doc Bill
    March 1, 2009

    Thanks, Hol, for feeding my growing obsession.

    Actually, I stumbled over Nina’s experiment several years ago and was captivated by Annette’s singing. I love the “that’s all” she says at the end of most songs. But, Nina’s graphics, composed of simple geometric shapes, combined with the music haunted me.

    Of course, I corresponded with Nina and she told me about the origin of the music and how it figured into the narrative. Talk about a confluence of ideas! Nina is brilliant and her interpretation is wonderful.

    I, too, purchased through eBay and Amazon all of the Annette CD’s available. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Obama has a Hanuman charm. Worked for Sita!

  138. #138 natural cynic
    March 2, 2009

    PZ should be proud to be identified as a Philistine, after all they were the enemies of the Hebrews. And the Philistines probably had more fun, too, since the common knowledge of the Philistines comes to us from the winners of the cultural evolutionary lottery.

  139. #139 Piltdown Man
    March 2, 2009

    natural cynic @138:

    PZ should be proud to be identified as a Philistine, after all they were the enemies of the Hebrews.

    Oy vey!

  140. #140 Lucy
    March 2, 2009

    um…..for some reason the video won’t play for me. I just get a message that says “The selected item is not currently available”. Anyone run into a similar problem, or know where else I can watch it?

  141. #141 John Atkeson
    March 2, 2009

    Lucy,

    >um…..for some reason the video won’t play for me.

    Yeah I get the same error message. Maybe all the Pharyngula click-throughs broke the site?

    John

  142. #142 Holbach
    March 2, 2009

    Lucy @ 140, and John @ 141.

    Same for me, but it eventually kicked in after a time. It probably wants to recover from so many hits.

  143. #143 me2
    March 2, 2009

    Does anyone know the Hawaiian creation myth which tells the story of how the octopus is the lone survivor of the previous universe which existed before this one? I saw the entry about it on wikipedia and would love to read the whole story, but I haven’t been able to find it.

  144. #144 Holbach
    March 2, 2009

    me2 @ 143

    Try reading “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” by Charles Mackay.

    Will give you an insight into your choice of pursuit, and it is better reading for your brain.

  145. #145 astrounit
    March 2, 2009

    Well, at least they got an allegory of symmetry breaking with the ‘breakup’ in there. (kinda sorta)

    Even though it suggests that Vishnu remained ‘undisturbed by dreams or motion’, they had to beef it up with the humming Om that ‘began to tremble’ which ‘grew and spread, filling the emptiness and throbbing with energy’.

    One is left to wonder just how ‘empty’ that precursory state of affairs could possibly have been to put on such an elaborate pre-show. I do not think the authors of this story posed it that way just because it would make it more understandable to the illiterate non-thinker masses they sought to control. I think it’s obvious the storytellers had no special knowledge either, and just made it all up.

    Yet with the dull Abrahamic traditions you just get a bifurcation of the universe between ‘good and evil’, which is about as sophisticated as a group of kids choosing up sides before playing a ballgame. Even a passing thought plainly points out the glaringly obvious: the Supreme Creator was evidently so incompetent as to let fully half the universe get away from His Control.

  146. #146 me2
    March 2, 2009

    @Holbach 144

    Thanks for pointing me to a book on woo, which will help me,….how?
    All I want is a copy of the myth.

  147. #147 TritoneSub
    March 2, 2009

    Vishnu has a navel? Who was his mother? The reason why those little ivy tendrils in paintings of Adam cover not just his naughty bits but also the area where his navel might be is because the artist is unsure about whether Adam should have a navel [/Gould]. 12. 12 Angels can dance on the head of a pin (if it’s a slow dance and there are no Angel chaperones).

  148. #148 Watchman
    March 2, 2009

    Gotta love Nina. She’s an old fave.

  149. #149 Sven DiMilo
    March 2, 2009

    TritoneSub, excellent nym.
    Am digging the new Roy Hargrove record as I type–very nice.

  150. #150 Holbach
    March 2, 2009

    me2 @ 146

    How will a copy of the myth help you? After you have read it, will you be the better for it? And to think of all those great books on science out there just waiting to debunk all those senseless myths and superstitions.
    My good friend Edmund Wilson put it so succinctly:
    “With so many fine books to be read, so much to be studied and known, there is no need to bore ourselves with this rubbish.”

  151. #151 TritoneSub
    March 2, 2009

    Thanks Sven! Seems very few jazzers/theory buffs out there. I find myself whistling bop tunes in the hopes that some random stranger will approach me and ask “say, isn’t that Klacktoveedsedsteen?”. Maybe I’m just not whistling the head recognizably…

  152. #152 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 2, 2009

    Thanks Sven! Seems very few jazzers/theory buffs out there.

    Oh there’s more than you’d think.

  153. #153 Sven DiMilo
    March 2, 2009

    I find myself whistling bop tunes in the hopes that some random stranger will approach me and ask “say, isn’t that Klacktoveedsedsteen?”

    Ha!
    That one’s a tough whistle, for sure.

  154. #154 Jaycubed
    March 2, 2009

    “Read the bible? I would rather read a roll of toilet paper than deaden my brain over that crap.
    Posted by: Holbach

    The sign of a small mind. That’s exactly the same thing holy rollers say about Darwin.

    The Jewish Bible (Old Testament) is a fascinating record of the reality of human behavior. The violence, hatred, greed, obsession, lust, power hunger & stupidity of people is well catalogued within.

    A marvelous record of how people actually behave, it is a horrible model for how people should behave.

    The Christian Bible (New Testament) and the Koran are both inferior, but there are many examples of devotional literature of high quality from both traditions.

  155. #155 TritoneSub
    March 2, 2009

    Not as hard as “Shaw Nuff” IMHO. I think “Donna Lee” is my favorite. Bird wrote it over the changes to “Back home again in Indiana”. I’ve been groovin’ to Cassandra Wilson singing “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” Lots of 5/4 measures at the ends of 4 bar phrases on the verses and then back to 3/4 and I’m telling you, that shit swings hard!

  156. #156 E.V.
    March 2, 2009

    Anyone catch the Chuck E. Weiss profile on NPR yesterday?

  157. #157 Sven DiMilo
    March 2, 2009

    that shit swings hard!

    Well, yeah; having Mulgrew Miller on hand pretty much guarantees that much. Added to the playlist!

  158. #158 TritoneSub
    March 2, 2009

    Posted by: E.V. | March 2, 2009 1:48 PM

    Anyone catch the Chuck E. Weiss profile on NPR yesterday?

    Nope, he still in love with RLJ?
    Have to look for that online.

  159. #159 E.V.
    March 2, 2009

    Nope, he still in love with RLJ?

    Funny thing was RLJ was shacking up with Tom Waits at the Tropicana Hotel when she wrote that song.

  160. #160 me2
    March 2, 2009

    @Holbach 150

    Perhaps you’ve misread me/my query.

    While I agree with your friend that “With so many fine books to be read, so much to be studied and known, there is no need to bore ourselves with this rubbish.”

    I find some of this “rubbish” interesting. I’m not a woo nut or anything like it – far from it, in fact. I was just interested in the story because it features an octopus and would liked to have known what the story was about.

    I find stories that involve animals interesting – many African myths revolve around animals; just because I’m interested in myths doesn’t mean I believe them. ;-D

  161. #161 TritoneSub
    March 2, 2009

    Funny thing was RLJ was shacking up with Tom Waits at the Tropicana Hotel when she wrote that song.

    Guess she got tired of that “You gotta suffer to make art” idea. Tom was a bit uhhmmm gritty

  162. #162 blf
    March 2, 2009

    There’s a great old rock album called The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony, by an Irish group called Horslips which focusses on some of the stories of the Sidhe arriving “in boats from the sky” and whatnot.

    Thanks for reminding of this album! After digging around a bit and choking from the dust, I finally found my (original?) cassette tape and am listening to it right now as I type this. Dunno why it got put to the side; new-fangled CDs I guess? (OTOH, the tape seems a bit damaged with occasional dropouts?bummer!)

  163. #163 Holbach
    March 2, 2009

    Jaycubed @ 154

    You are a little mixed up in the analogy of comparing the bible as crap to what religious dolts think of Darwin. My mind is far from small in denigrating a pile of nonsense myths written by morons in the pre dark ages.
    As for equating “devotional” literature to any of profound rational literature is not only a farce, but indictative of the state of your mind and your blatant defence of nonsense screeds. Your pathetic defense of antyhing religious is lost on me, my small mind not withstanding.

  164. #164 Jaycubed
    March 2, 2009

    “You are a little mixed up in the analogy of comparing the bible as crap to what religious dolts think of Darwin. My mind is far from small in denigrating a pile of nonsense myths written by morons in the pre dark ages.
    As for equating “devotional” literature to any of profound rational literature is not only a farce, but indictative(sic) of the state of your mind and your blatant defence(sic) of nonsense screeds. Your pathetic defense of antyhing(sic) religious is lost on me, my small mind not withstanding.”

    Posted by: Holbach

    Your response speaks for itself. Your contempt & arrogance sounds exactly like the bleatings of the religious Sheeple defending their Beliefs. Closed-mindedness is closed-mindedness, regardless of what you intentionally blind yourself to.

    Perhaps my comments are lost on you because of your admitted small-mindedness.

  165. #165 Holbach
    March 2, 2009

    Jaycubed @ 164

    My mind has not shrunk, nor my opinions changed in spite of hasty misspellings which you so obviously noted. I am an ardent atheist, and take note and umbrage in comparing me with religious morons of any stripe or insanity. My mind is open; this is why I am an atheist and do not suffer from blindness in regard to anything irrational, particularly religion in all mannner of degree, including your regard for devotional dreck which is not worth the irrationality they represent. My mind encompasses Astronomy which requires a big prospective to take it all in, and not as a closed universe which smaller minds relegate to an imaginary god. Small-mindedness? Yes, my mind would indeed be small if I even considered religious nonsense to take hold in any guise, including your “devotional” literature.
    My regard for the “bullshit”, bible to you, still is maintained no matter how far you may reduce my mind because of your pathectic response to views other than your own.

  166. #166 Jaycubed
    March 2, 2009

    “I am an ardent atheist, and take note and umbrage in comparing me with religious morons of any stripe or insanity.”
    Posted by: Holbach

    If the shoe fits . . .

    Along with your expressed love of intentional ignorance, you appear to be responding to your own internal stimuli in these posts.

    Do you even bother to read what you comment on or do you just pick out a word or two & go nuts from there?

    A person who claims, “I am an atheist and do not suffer from blindness in regard to anything irrational” is making a claim no different from, “I am a Believer and Know the Truth.” Both are either fools or liars.

    Why should a self-professed atheist be held to a different standard than a self-professed christian. It is what one says & does that is important, not what they claim as an identity.

  167. #167 Sven DiMilo
    March 2, 2009

    *shrug* That’s our Holbach!

  168. #168 Kausik Datta
    March 2, 2009

    Everyone missed the little gem Mrs. Tilton left at #129. I almost choked with laughter when I read her last line!!

  169. #169 Ian Gould
    March 3, 2009

    “…try reading some of L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction (not strictly religious texts, of course, though I don’t doubt that many Scientologists venerate all his work). Battlefield Earth made me want to claw my own eyes out. ”

    Some of Hubbard’s sf from the 30′s and 40′s – such as “final Blackout – is surprisingly good.

    Mission Earth was, apparently, written by Kenneth Bulmer based on an outline by Hubbard. Bulmer was usually a pretty competent writer of commercial genre fiction.

  170. #170 flygirl
    March 4, 2009

    There is a version of Creation in Hinduism similar to the Big Bang, with a “cosmic egg” being the beginning of everything. I don’t know too much about Hindu literalists – actually, I don’t think I want to – but their concepts of time are huge – consider yugas and mahayugas.

    I haven’t read enough of the Bible to comment, but it’s King James Version all the way..

  171. #171 Pixxie
    March 15, 2009

    Hello everyone. I am a Christian, but don’t panic. I am currently writing a book called “Simple Answers to Atheist Questions.” So, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind my being a silent observer here. I am NOT your typical Bible thumping Christian, nor a judgmental one. Just very curious about your beliefs and choices as well as your unanswered questions. Would truly love to understand your perspective on Spirituality, Religion, and Biblical Authenticity, but definitely DO NOT want to debate or argue about those perspectives. I choose to respect everyone regardless of their choices. In time, when we are comfortable with each other . . . and you realize my genuine sincerity and nondiscriminatory nature, I would like to ask questions and test some “simple answers” on you to gain an even better perspective and understanding of your beliefs and my interpretation of same. What say ye? May I observe? I will not be offended if you say “No.” :-)

  172. #172 clinteas
    March 15, 2009

    @ 171,

    too many lies,strawmen and pompous self-righteousness already mate.And that was only your first comment.

  173. #173 John Morales
    March 15, 2009

    Pixxie, this is Pharyngula.

    You’ll get responses, all right.

    BTW, you can either be a silent observer, or ask questions. Not both.

  174. #174 CosmicTeapot
    March 15, 2009

    Greetings Pixxie.

    My beliefs – I see no evidence for any god or gods going ooga booga and the universe appearing by magic.
    My choices – I choose to treat people with respect, unless I deem them to be nasty peices of work, liars, or stupid and unwilling to learn (amongst others).
    My unanswered questions – where have all the teaspoons gone.
    Spirituality – I like good sunrises, and the feeling of wind in my hair. I used to have two hairs, but the wind blew the other on away.
    Religion – The down side really outways the good. Often a crutch for those who do not want to think, or are afraid of death.
    Biblical Authenticity – 1% historical, 99% religious propoganda

    “In time, when we are comfortable with each other . . . and you realize my genuine sincerity and nondiscriminatory nature, I would like to ask questions and test some “simple answers” on you to gain an even better perspective and understanding of your beliefs and my interpretation of same.” Just read other entries on Pharyngula, then you will get a feel of our “beliefs”!

    “May I observe?” Can we stop you?

    Now it’s your turn.
    1. How old is the earth?
    2. How accurate do you think the bible is. The new testament will do.
    3. What are your views on evolution.

  175. #175 Kel
    March 15, 2009

    My non-belief in Christianity is quite simple – there’s no more evidence for the Christian God than there is for Zeus, Thor, Ra, Brahman, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  176. #176 hery
    January 25, 2010

    Hindu myths are amazing.