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Clay and Air

Creationists point to the eye as evidence of design. This is a sorry strategy, because the human eye is not very well put together. But it isn’t the poorness of the design that gets me, though, it’s the inability to explain the poorness that I find most intriguing. This, I find, is absurdly common in religious belief. When confronted with the question of why the eye sees things upside down, for instance, the creationist must shrug his shoulders and proclaim that this is a mystery we are not meant to understand. What this really means, or ought to mean to … Continue Reading

The Crone’s Illusion

Below is a repost, salvaged from the olden days, of my thoughts on the film Agora, which I most heartily acclaim.

My reaction to Agora was highly charged, and I wanted to let myself cool down long enough to write something sane, something that wasn’t a searing screed against book-burning fundamentalists. I finally got there, and lucky too, because what I ended up discovering in this film was enlightening for me.

I have a mighty respect for Roger Ebert, who has a keen critical mind, but when he calls Agora … Continue Reading

Red Riding Hood

After posting the bit on Genesis, I was challenged, jokingly I’m sure, to explain Little Red Riding Hood in the same way. Challenge accepted.

The redness of the girl’s cloak is a later embellishment. We don’t need it to understand the symbols, but it helps. This is another transformation story, only the subject matter is pretty well restricted to a young girl’s awakening to grown-up sexual experience. The wolf is an agent of transformation. One of Loki’s children is Fenrir, the Great Wolf who will kill Odin at the Ragnarok. The point of killing a god is to pass on his … Continue Reading

Genesis, Briefly

Reposting a post that I wrote on Reddit.

Standard interpretations of the first bits of Genesis are very badly done. It isn’t, and never was, a story about something that happened. What it really is, is a story about the beginning of agriculture (and also the economic triumph of agriculture over shepherding), and the abandonment of the worship of trees.

This is a very big topic, but I’ll try to do the brief version. The Tree of Life is Asherah, i.e., the Sacred Tree at the heart of the Sacred Grove, which is always deep in (or “in the middle of”) the … Continue Reading