I just posted this review of God Made Man by Barbara G. Walker on Amazon Reviews. I'll see her next Thursday and I'm anxious to hear what she thinks. I hope the Amazon editors don't think I came on too strong.



If I would have read this book 50 years ago it would have changed my life. Now that I'm retired, as I think back, only two books have had a life-changing effect on me: Lord of the Flies by William Golding and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Now I have a third.


Here's why. When I went to Catholic high school I sat quietly and listened meekly to all the magical nonsense that was foisted on me on a daily basis. Believe what you want, was my attitude, just don't try to sell me any of this supernatural boogety-boo. Symbolic cannibalistic rituals were all right with me—just as long as I can sit in the back of the auditorium my comforting, teenage daydreams.


If I would have read Barbara's book back then, I would never have put up with it. “Hey, Brother, is it true the Church tortured and killed millions of people over five hundred years? After the Council of Nicea, Europe was awash in blood and learning was ground to a standstill. The Dark Ages were imminent. Books were burned, libraries destroyed and the peasantry kept illiterate. All I got from your religion classes was the Apostle's creed.”


How come you never mentioned the genocide caused by your religion? After the bloodbath had subsided in the 1800s, a century later Cardinal Angelo Sodano would apologize and call this insane, sadistic mayhem, “a sad episode in church history.” Is he crazy?


How can church officials live with themselves? How come there's no priests listed on the National Sex Offenders list? What's going on?


In short, I didn't become a militant atheist until 40 years later. I was always an atheist but I was close-mouthed about religion and tolerant of it. This very year there will be hundreds of people, mostly women and children, tortured and killed in Africa because of witchcraft, just as Barbara describes it. She even gives the line from the Gospels, Christ's own words, that centuries later the Inquisitioners would use to rationalize burning heretics at the stake by the millions. One town in Germany, states Ms. Walker with accurate annotation, burned as many as 1000 pathetic victims in one year. Outrageous—that's nearly three per day! Watching public immolation must have been a national pass-time, like going to the movies or the Friday-night fights.


Good job, Barbara, it's the scholarship and research that makes Man Made God so powerful. I hope your book goes down in history as one of the most important humanist statements of the modern age. All I can say to any Holy Ghost/heaven-hell/Eve-came-from-Adam's-rib/Noah's Ark believers is: read it and deal with it.


Richard Goscicki, author of Mirror Reversal, Peppertree Press, 2007



Views: 212

Tags: Barbara, Inquisition, Walker, endmeme

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Comment by Matt VDB on September 28, 2010 at 12:31pm
Hi JstN,

Free speech or not, blatant insults are not tolerated on any decent site. Calling someone "fucking stupid", an apologist, implying that I have brain damage, and a dozen other nasty things, is not civilised debate and considering the subject it's actually laughable. Disagreeing is fine; childish nonsense like what you've been engaging in lately is not. I'm actually perfectly willing to let you start with a clean slate as soon as you apologise though.
Also, you don't need to continuously repost my previous posts as if it somehow makes it clear that I'm insulting people on the site. I'm not.

Hi Richard,

From your mail to Barbara:

"Here's the latest round in our rousing debate. Matt is quite an apologist for the Church but claims to be a non-believer."

Word of advice: drop this bullshit about how I just 'claim' to be a non-believer. I am a non-believer and have made that clear multiple times. And I'm not an apologist for the Church either (that implies religiosity as well as fundamentalism, neither of which I employ and both of which I deride) so stop that and start engaging in the debate without feeling the need to sling mud.

"He says he just wants keep the record straight, but he behaves much like fundamentalists who refuse to accept any argumentation, no matter how strong, and always manage to find an excuse and wiggle off the hook."

See above for the mud-slinging. And I haven't seen any argument from you that's even close to being sound. If my arguments are so weak, why haven't you simply refuted them? Why are you sending this discussion to Barbara in the hope that she will give you counter-arguments?
Is it because you're slowly realising that I've done my homework on this and you haven't?



Serious question: do you think that your eagerness to paint me as an apologist (even though several members have already pointed out that that is ridiculous) is because it's easier to dismiss my arguments that way? Be honest.

"Question for Matt: Did the writers of the Bible have any idea of the suffering these lines would cause in future generations?"

No idea. Probably not; but what's your point and what does it have to do with the discussion we were having?
May I remind you that you've yet to substantiate your millions-of-witches number?

"And if the Bible were inspired by God, did God have any idea of the sadistic mayhem these lines would unleash on humanity?"

Shouldn't you ask that to someone who actually believes this book to be divinely inspired?

Kind regards,

Matt
Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 27, 2010 at 4:02pm
Matt, here's a spot-on excerpt from the book regarding our controversy:

Though this god was supposed to have said, "Thous shalt not kill," he ordered massive slaughters again and again of various "infidel" peoples and even commanded the faithful to kill their own family members, neighbors and friends who did not share their one-and-only religion.: "Neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, nether shalt thou conceal him: but thous shalt surely kill him." (Deu 13:5-9)

Here's the non plus ultra:

Exodus 22:18, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," which was directly responsible for twelve centuries of the most hideous persecutions, tortures and legal murders of, by one estimate, nine million "witches"--and this has been said by others to be a low estimate.

DeMeo,James. Saharasia: the 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression and Warfare and Scial Violence in the Deserts of the Old Word. Greems[roms. OR: Orgone Biophysical Research Lab., 1998

Gage, Matilda Joslyn. Woman, Church and State: A Historical Accou8nt of the Status of Woman through the Christian Ages. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Company, 1893.

Question for Matt: Did the writers of the Bible have any idea of the suffering these lines would cause in future generations? And if the Bible were inspired by God, did God have any idea of the sadistic mayhem these lines would unleash on humanity?
Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 27, 2010 at 11:33am
Diana, beautiful. How about the Parable of the Shepherds? Ezekiel 34:1. The shepherds fell asleep (pasturing themselves) and a couple of hungry wolves got a few. "And the Lord God was pissed off (at the shepherds, not the wolves). And the Lord sayth, 'I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths.'"

The Bible is full of good shepherd references. It all leads to one conclusion: that the faithful didn't mind being considered "sheep." All that sheep stuff flew out the window, however, when an infidel came along or the crusades needed to be fought.
Comment by Diana Agorio on September 25, 2010 at 8:14pm
The good shepherd pastures his flock on public land and avoids paying property taxes. He makes his living by fleecing sheep. He butchers lambs for his meat and castrates many of the young males. And, he has his favorites for those lonely moments. The shepherd sounds like an apt metaphor for a priest (pastor) to me.
Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 25, 2010 at 8:05pm
After reading Man Made God, I get more and more pissed off every day. It was just on tonight's Jeopardy, the question: What relationship was referred to in Psalm such and such?

Answer: The sheep to the shepherd.

Think of it: the writers of the Bible wanted the faithful to be like mindless, obedient sheep, blindly tailing the shepherd to the slaughter house.

Does that piss you off? It must be getting to me. I can't even watch a quiz show on TV without getting mad at religion.

I was just listening to the Robert Ingersoll lectures that Man Made God mentions a few times. See if that gets you mad. He was great and way ahead of his time.
Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 25, 2010 at 6:20pm
Barbara,

I just received the below from Amazon. Man Made God is making progress. Notice some of the distinguished names on the "forward to" list: Our Leslie, who was at the meeting Thursday, Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard, Darrel Ray author of The God Virus, Dr. Meaden, whom you know, plus others including, Roy the Infidel, Shane Smith, the Earthling, and the inimitable Canadian brauler/hauler Mac Rex.

Rich


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "D R Hosie"
To: "Richard Goscicki"
Sent: Sunday, September 12, 2010 4:23:16 AM
Subject: Amazon Review

D R Hosie has sent you a message on Atheist Nexus

Subject: Amazon Review

------------
Good review - I put it on my wish list.

Glad to hear you're on the mend, but take it easy - no complications. :)
> Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2010 22:34:03 +0000
> From: Richard Goscicki
> To: Brian Dalton, Brother Richard, Clarence Dember, Creature, D R Hosie, D. Winthorpe, Dane, DarkTheAtheist, Darrel Ray, Dave Rogers, David Williamson, Dawn K, Dr. Terence Meaden, Edward Teach, Fabio, Free Thinker, Gecko, Seth...bro..., George, Graeme Kelley, Grundgetta, Jake Collyer, James Croft, James M. Martin, Jason Mark Ellison, Jo Jerome, Joe Burke, John "Jack" Kolin..., John Smith, Joshua Holloway, JstN Earthling, Kevin Saldanha, Kristi Leitholt, Leslie Downing, Lester Grinspoon..., Loren ɟɟןoʍ, Louis Davout, Mac Rex, Margaret Downey, Mohamed Zaki, PigDiesel (Austra..., Reverend Jeremiah, Richard J. Collins, River Otter, Roy The Infidel, Rusty Gunn., Salvatore Pertutti, Sarah Bonner, Secular Sue, Shane Smith, SkeptiChris, Steven Nunn, Taylor Tyler, Timo Ostrander, Wonderist, Yvette Edwards (A..., benjie m. apostol, heretic
>
> I had some time to read in the hospital and rehab. Barbara G. Walker is a pretty good friend of mine so I read her book. I was enthralled. At the end reading "Man Made God," I found myself pissed. How the hell did Church officials get away with what they did to humanity. And it's still going on!
>
Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 25, 2010 at 5:59pm
Barbara,

Here's the latest round in our rousing debate. Matt is quite an apologist for the Church but claims to be a non-believer. He says he just wants keep the record straight, but he behaves much like fundamentalists who refuse to accept any argumentation, no matter how strong, and always manage to find an excuse and wiggle off the hook.

As I mentioned at the meeting Thursday, he said Mr. Lea had an "axe to grind." I don't believe the years he spent in Rome and the Vatican library will change anything. The number of murdered and immolated seems to be a stumbling block.

I'll post this email and your reply if you permit and find it fun and interesting.

Here's the latest round:

Rich

______________________________________________________


Comment by Matt 1 day ago


Mac wrote


"If the Romans wrote at least something about him, that might change my belief, but the fact remains that there is not a single person of Jesus' generation who wrote about him. Everything that was written about him came after his last disciple died."

Jo has already (simplistically and spiced up with lots of strawmans, as usual) laid out the Roman historians that did write about him, but yes, you're correct, they are not contemporary. The point is: that doesn't matter. Contemporary accounts are extremely rare in ancient history: we don't have any for Hannibal, or Arminius, or Boudicca; and yet these are three of the most influential characters of their era. That should give you an idea of how reasonable it is to expect contemporary historical evidence.

"Perhaps I am imagining a pattern that isn't really there, but it seem to me to be very similar to what I've seen from Christian trolls, both here and at Richard Dawkins web site."

Yes, in fact, that's exactly what you're doing: imagining a pattern based on incomplete information and fueled by bias. Do Christian trolls:
- argue that Jesus was a ranting nutter?
- analyse how beliefs about the resurrection grew and evolved from their Jewish context?

No? Then how about you stop trying to paint me as an apologist?

Hi Richard,

"Referring to Matt, she said he should read the Malleus Malefactorum, line by line as she did. "

I never read the entire work but I've read sections. What are you trying to prove with this? You do know that the Catholic Church quickly recognised that the authors of the Malleus were kooks and condemned the book, right? When one of its authors, Heinrich Kramer, was investigating 57 suspected witches at Innsbruck, the local bishop became so alarmed at his methods, suspicious of his theology and disgusted at his fascination with the witch's sexual behaviour that he halted the trial and expelled Kramer. In 1487 Kramer tried to get his book officially approved by the Church by submitting it to the theologians of Cologne University. They rejected it as a collection of superstitions and sexual obsessions. Kramer was forced to forge an imprimatur from them to get his work published. The Malleus was then banned by the Catholic Church in 1490 and in 1538 the Spanish Inquisition repeated the rejection of Kramer and Sprenger's theology and methods.

The book remained popular, however, largely because it makes for lurid reading. And it definitely continued to be used by some Catholic witch-obsessives and - in particular - by Protestant witch hunters. So it did contribute to the witch hysteria of the early modern period, but largely in the Protestant countries where that hysteria flourished. Not in the Dark Ages (the book was published way too late for that anyway).

So, your point?

"I never said the numbers were speculation. I propounded the number as reality: eight million—mostly mostly women and children."

And yet you've yet to substantiate that number in the slightest. I've already linked to a refutation of where the eight/nine million number comes from. When will you finally start explaining that all modern scholars are wrong and that the number of witch-burnings was actually a hundred times larger than careful analysis has concluded?

Take care,

Matt


"If the Romans wrote at least something about him, that might change my belief, but the fact remains that there is not a single person of Jesus's generation who wrote about him. Everything that was written about him came after his last disciple died."

Jo has already (simplistically and spiced up with lots of strawmans, as usual) laid out the Roman historians that did write about him, but yes, you're correct, they are not contemporary. The point is: that doesn't matter. Contemporary accounts are extremely rare in ancient history: we don't have any for Hannibal, or Arminius, or Boudicca; and yet these are three of the most influential characters of their era. That should give you an idea of how reasonable it is to expect contemporary historical evidence.

"Perhaps I am imagining a pattern that isn't really there, but it seem to me to be very similar to what I've seen from Christian trolls, both here and at Richard Dawkins web site."

Yes, in fact, that's exactly what you're doing: imagining a pattern based on incomplete information and fueled by bias. Do Christian trolls:
- argue that Jesus was a ranting nutter?
- analyse how beliefs about the resurrection grew and evolved from their Jewish context?

No? Then how about you stop trying to paint me as an apologist?

Hi Richard,

"Referring to Matt, she said he should read the Malleus Malefactorum, line by line as she did. "

I never read the entire work but I've read sections. What are you trying to prove with this? You do know that the Catholic Church quickly recognised that the authors of the Malleus were kooks and condemned the book, right? When one of its authors, Heinrich Kramer, was investigating 57 suspected witches at Innsbruck, the local bishop became so alarmed at his methods, suspicious of his theology and disgusted at his fascination with the witch's sexual behaviour that he halted the trial and expelled Kramer. In 1487 Kramer tried to get his book officially approved by the Church by submitting it to the theologians of Cologne University. They rejected it as a collection of superstitions and sexual obsessions. Kramer was forced to forge an imprimatur from them to get his work published. The Malleus was then banned by the Catholic Church in 1490 and in 1538 the Spanish Inquisition repeated the rejection of Kramer and Sprenger's theology and methods.

The book remained popular, however, largely because it makes for lurid reading. And it definitely continued to be used by some Catholic witch-obsessives and - in particular - by Protestant witch hunters. So it did contribute to the witch hysteria of the early modern period, but largely in the Protestant countries where that hysteria flourished. Not in the Dark Ages (the book was published way too late for that anyway).

So, your point?

"I never said the numbers were speculation. I propounded the number as reality: eight million—mostly mostly women and children."

And yet you've yet to substantiate that number in the slightest. I've already linked to a refutation of where the eight/nine million number comes from. When will you finally start explaining that all modern scholars are wrong and that the number of witch-burnings was actually a hundred times larger than careful analysis has concluded?

Take care,

Matt
Comment by Matt VDB on September 24, 2010 at 5:20am
Mac Rex,

"If the Romans wrote at least something about him, that might change my belief, but the fact remains that there is not a single person of Jesus's generation who wrote about him. Everything that was written about him came after his last disciple died."

Jo has already (simplistically and spiced up with lots of strawmans, as usual) laid out the Roman historians that did write about him, but yes, you're correct, they are not contemporary. The point is: that doesn't matter. Contemporary accounts are extremely rare in ancient history: we don't have any for Hannibal, or Arminius, or Boudicca; and yet these are three of the most influential characters of their era. That should give you an idea of how reasonable it is to expect contemporary historical evidence.

"Perhaps I am imagining a pattern that isn't really there, but it seem to me to be very similar to what I've seen from Christian trolls, both here and at Richard Dawkins web site."

Yes, in fact, that's exactly what you're doing: imagining a pattern based on incomplete information and fueled by bias. Do Christian trolls:
- argue that Jesus was a ranting nutter?
- analyse how beliefs about the resurrection grew and evolved from their Jewish context?

No? Then how about you stop trying to paint me as an apologist?

Hi Richard,

"Referring to Matt, she said he should read the Malleus Malefactorum, line by line as she did. "

I never read the entire work but I've read sections. What are you trying to prove with this? You do know that the Catholic Church quickly recognised that the authors of the Malleus were kooks and condemned the book, right? When one of its authors, Heinrich Kramer, was investigating 57 suspected witches at Innsbruck, the local bishop became so alarmed at his methods, suspicious of his theology and disgusted at his fascination with the witch's sexual behaviour that he halted the trial and expelled Kramer. In 1487 Kramer tried to get his book officially approved by the Church by submitting it to the theologians of Cologne University. They rejected it as a collection of superstitions and sexual obsessions. Kramer was forced to forge an imprimatur from them to get his work published. The Malleus was then banned by the Catholic Church in 1490 and in 1538 the Spanish Inquisition repeated the rejection of Kramer and Sprenger's theology and methods.

The book remained popular, however, largely because it makes for lurid reading. And it definitely continued to be used by some Catholic witch-obsessives and - in particular - by Protestant witch hunters. So it did contribute to the witch hysteria of the early modern period, but largely in the Protestant countries where that hysteria flourished. Not in the Dark Ages (the book was published way too late for that anyway).

So, your point?

"I never said the numbers were speculation. I propounded the number as reality: eight million—mostly mostly women and children."

And yet you've yet to substantiate that number in the slightest. I've already linked to a refutation of where the eight/nine million number comes from. When will you finally start explaining that all modern scholars are wrong and that the number of witch-burnings was actually a hundred times larger than careful analysis has concluded?

Take care,

Matt
Comment by Jo Jerome on September 24, 2010 at 2:55am
@Mac Rex - I should add the P.S. that the cherry on top of the con argument is that it is misleading to try and draw a solid, straight line between historical Jesus and biblical Jesus. Even if Joesphus and Tacitus are spot on and got their sources straight from Pilate's court records (which is weird no Christian grabbed those and held on to them, but anyway...), all that we have in terms of Jesus' sayings, deeds and miracles are scripture.

Scripture which I hope we Atheists can all agree are highly vulnerable to spin of the various authors. In another blog, I compared it to looking for Historical Dorothy Gale from Wizard of Oz. Even if there was a real Dorothy from Kansas who lived on a farm, she contributes little to the Oz story other than name/place/occupation. The Oz story and the supernatural adventures of Dorothy are make-believe. Cool, most awesome transition from book to film, I'll watch it a hundred more times before I die, but make-believe nonetheless.
Comment by Jo Jerome on September 24, 2010 at 2:43am
--- Mac Rex - There is still no evidence that Jesus existed as a real person. If the Romans wrote at least something about him,

The most oft-referenced, and the earliest secular sources are from Flavius Josephus and Tacitus.

The pro in a nutshell: Both are respected, 1st century historians and both make specific reference to Jesus and/or Christ; a preacher executed by Pilate upon whom the religion was founded.

The con in a nutshell: The references are conspicuously short for a man who was supposed to have started a now-growing-in-influence cult. At least one is debated as a forgery or embellishment. At least one is debated as simply stating Christians exist and what they believe without necessarily making judgement on literal belief in their belief. Both come decades after scriptures started floating about and the cult of Christianity had begun to blossom, begging the question of whether either man's source was scripture, Christians themselves, or some other secular source now lost.

Pro rebuttal in a nutshell: Nonsense. No way can a historian be influenced by these factors.

Con rebuttal in a nutshell: Way. They can. (Note that the con POV varies widely between "Definitely did not exist" up to "Probably existed, but not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.")

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