At Fátima religious pilgrims may purchase and burn wax representations of the things they want to pray for.
Last week, I went with my parents to Bloomington to visit my brother, who is down there starting work on his PhD at IU. We did a bit of shopping and stopped in at a store that sells used weird stuff. My mother came across an interesting Jesus figure (pictured on the right). At first it looks like your standard everyday crucifixion statue, but if you click on the pic and examine the larger version closely, you will probably spot some oddities. It's not very clear due to the angle of the shot, but on Jesus left side (right side of picture) there is a rooster perched on a pillar. Even stranger is the robed figure on the other side with a pile of dice for a head. Other objects include a sword, an ax, a chalice, a pitcher, and what appears to be a pair of pliers. It also looks that there was something else attached behind Jesus but which is now gone. I'd love to hear from anyone who knows the story behind all these symbols(?) or who can identify the country of origin. Originally, I theorized that it was Italian, but now I'm thinking it might be Portuguese.
That's because on Monday, Geoff finally got around to posting the photos from his trip to Portugal, and one of them was this! Apparently the Portuguese are under the impression that, at the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples chowed down on roast puppy rather than bread. I'd hate to attend Communion in a Portuguese church, where I would have to sit through a scenario in which the priest tears pieces from the body of a small puppy and feeds them to those in attendance. (Though if Schwarzenegger gets his way, this practice may soon become feasible here in the US.)
True synchronicity was achieved this Tuesday when Snowball guest blogged about Bakerina's recent pic of another Christ statue. (This one was unusual only in that it caused Snowball to dream about Gumby.)
Truly the signs are upon us. Jesus is making a comeback, and he's reading our blogs. He shall bring forth the Kingdom of God in the blogosphere. (And sometimes he eats puppies.)
In one of my classes, we got to take a fieldtrip to the library to look at medieval manuscripts. I and a partner were assigned a huge tome by Pope Gregory XIX. Since I always have my camera with me, I got permission to snap a few photos. I was particularly fascinated by the pictures, especially since this is not an illustrated work. The monks had a strong tendency to doodle in the Margins.
Bill had a link to an intriguing internet activity entitled Battleground God, the object of which is to determine how rationally consistent your beliefs about religion are. Go play it now, and come back afterwards to read my comments.
Did you try it? Good. Now here are my thoughts.
It's a very interesting and well thought out questionnaire, but I took issue to a few things in it. I took a hit for saying that atheism in the face of lack of evidence for the existence of God was partly a matter of faith, whereas disbelief in the existence of the Loch Ness monster for the same reasons was rational. The site creators explain their thinking at great depth in the FAQ, but I they miss an imortant point. Christianity is faith-based, and I think most christians would generally agree that their God does not allow verifiable proof of his/her existence to be obtained. Otherwise faith would soon become a non-issue. In the case of the Loch Ness monster, there may be some bizarre peripheral beliefs about the creature, but the central idea is nothing more than that a large creature lives in the loch and has yet to be fully documented. This is very different from proving the existence of God, which would be impossible in either case. Either there is no god, hence there can be no proof for his/her existence, or there is a god, whose existence cannot be proved because he/she is omnipotent and does not wish it. Either belief would therefore have to be (at least partly) based on faith.
Also, some of the questions were too general for me to feel comfortable choosing a true/false response. I had trouble with terms like "God" and "morality". What god? The Judeo-Christian one? I especially disliked question #5: "Any being which it is right to call God must have the power to do anything." Not all gods in all religions are omnipotent; most are not. Are they using the word improperly? Isn't a word defined by its usage? So how can anyone dictate whether the word is "right" or not?
I'm not sure I like the concept of "biting the bullet". It seems to imply that you take a really weird position just to maintain consistency, rather than because you actually believe it. Yet I bit the bullet twice, and I would have answered those questions the same way even if they had appeared outside the context of the questionnaire.
Despite the problems I had with it, it is definitely one of the more interesting internet tests out there. Considering the complexity of the topic, I'm not sure that it would have been possible to iron out all the philosophical conundrums and pitfalls.
I found a much easier-to-read source explaining the classification of humans and (other) apes. It also underscores the fact that gibbons are, by far, the most genetically distant (and diverse, with 11 separate species) of all the apes -- much more so than humans. So if humans are placed outside of the ape family, then gibbons would have to go as well, leaving only chimps, gorillas, orangutans, and perhaps that recently discovered mystery ape.
Reading back over my previous ape postings, I don't think I made it very clear that my main interest with regard to the word ape was that I had become puzzled over whether or not it included humans, and I wanted to make sure that I was using it correctly, especially in light of the fact that I often find myself correcting people's usage of it. I probably put way to much emphasis on religion, and I fear that it might have appeared that I was attacking the core beliefs of Creationism, which was not my intent. I was merely being critical the notion that humans are not apes.
By the way, Geoff and Bill, I really appreciate your taking the time to leave comments, especially since my blog is so new. It helps to reassure me that at least a few of the visitors to this site are actually reading some of the entries and not just clicking through. (I will eventually put up a blogroll of the first ten people to leave comments here.)
Also, I should probably state that I've decided to follow the policy of never making responses to comments directly in the comments section. That makes it a bit harder for people to credibly post there posing as me. (It wouldn't be much of a problem now, but if I ever get a large number of comments, it could be.)
I sense a couple more ape entries coming in the near future, but for now I'll try to move on to more varied fare. Tomorrow will be my second Pic of the Week, and I promise it won't be of an ape.
It never fails. Whenever I hear people debating the veracity of religion, someone always brings up the apes, as in But how could something as intelligent and spiritual have come from apes? or even less intelligently, If humans are supposed to have come from apes, then how come there's still apes? Normally at this point, I'm trying not to get involved in the conversation and saving my groans for later when I can utter them in private, but frequently such remarks are followed by the evolutionary proponent's reply, in which (s)he explains, sometimes in great detail, how it is a proven fact that humans come from apes. At this point I always lose my self-restraint and interject with my oft-repeated spiel about humans, apes, and evolution:
Humans did not come from apes. No qualified person in the scientific community has ever made that claim, including Darwin. All apes and humans are desceneded from a single proto-ape species that lived millions of years ago and no longer exists. Thus humans can be said to be closely related to the other apes, but we are certainly not descended from them. Actually, we are apes, no less so than chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons. Whether or not you choose to subscribe to evolutionary theory, there is no doubt that all human beings, including Jesus Christ himself, are classified, both genetically and morphologically as an ape species.
Despite many arguments by people to the contrary, I'd never seriously questioned the fact that humans are apes. After all, I acquired that particular tidbit of knowledge from my father, who is an anthropologist and therefore should know. However, it was disquieting that the CNN article I referenced in my previous post seemed to imply otherwise, as have several other sources I've encountered over the years, so I decided to do some checking. The best explanation I found (under response #6) states in a nutshell that the term ape is sometimes employed to include all species in the superfamily Hominoidea (chimps, gorillas, orangutans, gibbons and humans) and sometimes to only include the nonhuman species, although traditionally, usage of the word has often not included humans. Therefore, I am completely correct when I state that humans are apes. Unfortunately, those who argue against me and say that humans are not apes are just as correct. Don't you just love the English language?; it's so free of ambiguity. Anyway, perhaps I should try to be a little less self-righteous in the future.