The Christmas Star

Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 9 months ago to Science
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  • Posted by  $  mminnick 8 months, 4 weeks ago
    I'll not disagree with the physics proposed and put forward in the commntw to date. I just have one comment to make about the material here presented.
    If I recall the story correctly, Mary and Joseph were traveling to their home town in order to pay taxes and register. In nRoman times taxes were collected after the sprint harvest ortherwise there was no money to pay the taxes.
    If this is true, the Jesus was born in the may/june time fram, not the December time frame. This would necessitate a different set of circum stances to generate the Christmas star.
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    • Posted by ewv 8 months, 3 weeks ago
      There need be no physical connection with an observed bright star at all. By the time the myths were spread decades later no one had any factual knowledge of it, just a subjective association in a myth. Whatever scientific detective work establishes historically observable phenomena that were remembered and found there way in some form into the myths, they have nothing to do with the religious pronouncements.
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    • Posted by  $  8 months, 3 weeks ago
      If you care, you can use an academic database and find very many explanations for times other than December. It is pretty well accepted even by true believers that December 25 is a convenience. Nothing in the Bible supports the date. The shepherds being out with their flocks is scriptural and speaks against the December 25 timeframe. So, everyone knows that, and always has. It is one reason why true believers such as the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock (and Ebeneezer Scrooge) did not celebrate Christmas.

      On the other hand, the problem of Easter was an impetus to the development of astronomy in the Middle Ages. They had to reconcile the lunar and solar calendars. The Church of 1200 was lightyears ahead of the Church of 1600.
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      • Posted by ewv 8 months, 3 weeks ago
        The Church of 1200 was 400 years in time ahead of the institution in 1600 and that's it. It was all mystical and authoritarian. At least by 1600 the influence of Aristotle had begun to return. The Church was never an impetus to science. Science, where it existed at all, was done in spite of religion with its faith, authoritarianism, and rationalizations.
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        • Posted by  $  8 months, 3 weeks ago
          You just repeated an Objecticist article of faith contrary to an array of known facts. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) did not "introduce" Aristotle to the Church. It was Gerbert d'Aurillac (946-1003) Pope Sylvester II who brought Greek learning back to Europe as a result of his studies among the Muslims of Spain. He also brought the astrolabe and "Arabic" numbers.

          Your hatred for religion, rooted though it may be in reason, eclipses too much, not the least of which is that your highly valued Greeks and Romans were just as religious as the people of the Middle Ages. For the Greeks from about 650 BCE to about 300 CE from the Crimea to Spain and from Egypt to England, traditional religion did not have a monopoly on customary ethics. However, remember that Anaxagoras, Aspasia, and Socrates were all tried for impiety. Even after 400 BCE, Diogenes the Cynic engaged and challenged pious people in the streets. That he got away with it marks a change, but that was one full generation maybe a lifetime after your "Golden Age of Athens" in the time of Pericles - when Anaxagoras and Aspasia were tried for impiety.

          We call it the Roman Catholic Church for a reason. If you know anything about the sociology of republican Rome you can see the root and rock of the Christian Church in the Vestal Virgins, the elected priests, and the fact that one of the titles of the Pope is "Pontifex Maximus" i.e., the head guy in charge of maintaining all the bridges. (Later, they said that he was a "bridge" between God and man, but that was not the origin of the title.) The very word religion a Latin word has LEX and then legio as a root: to bind, as in ligature. Nothing says "Rome" like "legion" and "law." Roman lictors carried the fasces in ceremonies.

          Compared to that, the high Middle Ages were a wild and heady time of new ideas, new customs, new words, new ideas... including the fact that Aristotlean argument moved into the mainstream of Church doctrine via Thomas Aquinas. But there were other people - largely anonymous; some not - who advanced real learning and real science.

          And some of it was religiously motivated. After 1000 AD it was clear that Jesus was not coming back anytime soon. ... But they had the means to project the calendar centuries into the future. And centuries later they could see the drift in the numbers. By the time of Thomas Aquinas - who as far as I know did not write about Astronomy - they measured and remeasured the precession of the equinox and the distance to Saturn. They worried about that not because of Christmas, but because of Easter. Until about 1000 AD, the best advice the Church could give was to ask. your Jewish neighbors when Passover is.

          I could go on all day about this. Ayn Rand blew through the Middle Ages in two paragraphs of FNI. She had a point to make. But just like her opinions on Darwin and the hemlines of skirts, not everything ex cathedra is error free.

          "Objectivists value the scientific method as the cornerstone of the engineering achievements of our civilization from structural trusses and direct current to alternating current and cybernetics. We too easily see the Middle Ages as a time of ignorance and barbarism in which learning was chained to (and by) theology. The reality is more complicated." -- "Science in the Middle Ages" here: https://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2...

          "In fact, because of the religious viewpoint, the very scale of the measurable universe and the comparatively small size of the (spherical; not flat) Earth, were substantiating evidence to the relative unimportance of Earthly affairs. Saturn's orbit was estimated to be 72 million miles from Earth. (McCluskey, page 203)."
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    • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 8 months, 3 weeks ago
      From what I understand, research has shown that the census and taxes would of been in early April.

      But look at it this way, how many favored people do we actually celebrate their birth on their actual birthday.
      Presidents day comes to mind here.

      I think the placement of "the birth" was more symbolic. Remember that the priests were not necessarily conscious beings...they dealt with the pagan ideology and mysticism's and of course were looking to keep their jobs, power and control...very few entered service cause they understood the teachings and really cared about humanity.

      That's why the organizations of the teachings and history we call "religion"...kinda sucks.
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      • Posted by lrshultis 8 months, 3 weeks ago
        Just how does a non-conscious being do "were looking to keep their jobs, power and control...very few entered service cause (sic) they understood the teachings and really cared about humanity."
        Sounds like conscious beings to me!
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        • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 8 months, 3 weeks ago
          The brain can do many things but it can't view itself, inspect itself nor control it's own temptations. The ultimate desire for power and control is not only a hubris one but a non introspective one.

          In other words, if they were truly conscious beings, possessing a conscience, they would think twice about what they were doing or at least hate themselves for it...we actually see a lot of that these days.

          That's my take anyway, Irshuttis, and I think I will stick to it, until I learn of and convinced of, something different.
          After all, that's what "Conscious Beings" do.
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          • Posted by lrshultis 8 months, 3 weeks ago
            Conscience is a subconscious judgment that has been learned in some way. The judgment is made conscious as an emotion about one's actions relative to others. Whether one reasons about one's conscience is up to the person. A conscience need not be rational but reflects one's past experiences in society and with one's self, assuming some degree of self.
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            • Posted by  $  8 months, 3 weeks ago
              Following Julian Jaynes, I point out that you have probably done many complicated things without conscious awareness. Perhaps the most common one many of us can share is driving home from work and not remembering it. You are conscioulsy distracted - something happened at work, say - but your brain does a good job of driving the car on automatic. Jaynes suggested that before writing led to introspection everyone was like that and even today, many people still are. From that, I posit that they do not have a conscience. I accept that you do.
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              • Posted by lrshultis 8 months, 3 weeks ago
                One is conscious when one does automatic actions such as driving a car. One need not have any conscience about the activity unless something about one's driving goes against ones sense of beliefs about oneself such as harming someone or driving dangerously with respect to what one considers dangerous to others or oneself. Conscience is a moral concept of good or bad with respect to others or oneself. I agree that many of mankind have not created such a conscience mind. Such a mind must be produced by experience and rational thought and especially an awareness of self. But not all consciousnesses has a conscience faculty, just as not all consciousnesses have a critical faculty and can easily get lost in selectively thinking.

                https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary...
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              • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 8 months, 3 weeks ago
                Mike, you might appreciate this one: Talking about the automatic mode of the brain. Just doing stuff around the house, stuff one usually does everyday seems at times to get done without an awareness of doing them...some call this: "absent mindedness". But that couldn't be, because you obviously were IN you mind but not paying attention to what your brain nor your body was doing at the time.
                So, I propose that we start calling these instances: "Absent Brainedness"!...laughing
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            • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 8 months, 3 weeks ago
              I think the difference between conscience and super ego...is the mind. A super ego, perhaps, is nothing more than an imitation conscience.

              This is just an observation of mine while I continue my study's and cannot be proved as yet...but it sure fits.
              Note, Freud only studied sick people, it was a mistake to apply his findings to normal healthy people.

              Haven't heard much from you lately Irshultis, how are you?
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              • Posted by lrshultis 8 months, 3 weeks ago
                I am doing slightly better. The last anti-arrhythmic (solalol) had taken me from 40% PVCs to 30% PVCs so the elctro-physiologist changed the drug to a third class (amiodarone) one which has many potential side effects but not so much in the low dose that I am taking. It seems to be working, but I have only been on it for 3 weeks, darn stuff has a 50 day half life in the body so needs to be adjusted fairly often as various blood tests dictate. If that doesn't do the trick, I will need to go in for a ablation procedure for mapping the electrical nature of the right ventricle and finding the cells putting out a premature contraction current and then destroying those cells by radio frequency.
                That sounded more dangerous than the drugs and I don't like the idea of being unconscious for 2 to 4 hours with someone working on me.
                Hope you are doing well and that I am not being too contrary to your ideas. I have been interested in the mind for a good part of my 78 years and have tried to see how far AI will go in mimicking a mind. There seems be a large amount of recursiveness going on which makes in near impossible to predict the results, so it would act like a free will and also make some questions one may have about reality undecidable in thinking until new concepts are created. Kind of a Gödel's incompleteness thing.
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                • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 8 months, 3 weeks ago
                  Hope all goes well with the new protocol. Everything is electric...seems so doesn't it.

                  As I study and especially observe I find the "Mind" an amazing thing. A place, an energy, a connection we just can't measure but for those that have one, we know it's there...somewhere.
                  It augments the brain, completes the individual and opens up a whole new world...but, yet many, don't even use it, explore it or depend upon it for oversight and control over that fickle, yet necessary thing we call our brain.

                  I am sure that science will create a program that mimics the brain, maybe even better and might even be able to somewhat imitate a mind...but there again, it's only a program, an imitation and if in fact I and others are correct, that the mind is connected to the quantum world and all it's entanglements then there is no way they can create an AI with an "I"...a specific identity known only in that realm.

                  Sounds mystical, I know, many get tripped up by it, but it's not...it may go down in history as another one of those things we can't prove one way or the other but sure can experience and observe it at work.

                  Don't get me wrong, but it would still be quite an achievement to create an imitation of 2 parts of that 3 part equation.

                  Take care of yourself...Carl
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                  • Posted by lrshultis 8 months, 3 weeks ago
                    Here is an article that you may find useful dealing with where brains and perhaps minds might exist.

                    https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-th...

                    Have a good 2018. I am looking forward to, maybe, fewer doctor visits, but what can one expect while getting closer to 80.
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                    • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 8 months, 3 weeks ago
                      Finally read the article: Extended cognition reminds me of an experiment by Bruce Lipton, cellular biologist, inwhich he extracted the DNA from a single cell and found that the cell lived and functioned quite well without it, abet, only for a few days, (I think-it's been a while).
                      So, might this explain, Extended Cognition?...seems the information necessary to function is in the cell's membrane and the DNA only dictates what the parameters inwhich the cell exists...(purpose.)

                      But that doesn't explain how a like cell or species for that matter, on the other side of the planet picks up the new behaviors...for that, at least for now, we have the ether and quantumly entangled wave transfers to account for that.

                      We might observe similar behavior in preconscious man to some degree...a trait we may have lost or at least weakened extensively in most once we became Conscious or at least less dependent upon that connection and more individually competent...no longer part of the collective.
                      Sounds like natures rejection of "Liberation Theology"...laughing
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                      • Posted by ewv 8 months, 3 weeks ago
                        There is no such thing as "preconscious man" or "extended cognition" bypassing the base of knowledge through the five senses. That is mysticism, not science.
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                    • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 8 months, 3 weeks ago
                      Thanks Irshultis, hope you have a Lot Less Dr. visits...let 80 be the new 40...wouldn't that be nice.

                      Saved the article, but also skimmed it the once over. Similar, but perhaps better, to other articles I have read on animal evolution which seems to point to some connectedness, perhaps quantumly where a species, regardless of their distance, changes their behaviors. Two points, one, they are not aware of it, 2 it sure as hell didn't come from the brain as the article seems to point out. That observation for many is the dreaded "M" word, (mystical) but unless they have a "landline" connection, (laughing-reference-Avitar) there is no other way but the quantum, (ether) field that we know of.

                      Humans on the other hand, conscious ones anyway, are aware of these, let's say: Insights; and have a will to adapt or reject.

                      I will share if I have additional revelations when I properly digest the article.

                      Thanks again.
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    • Posted by  $  blarman 8 months, 3 weeks ago
      Actually, if one reads about "shepherds abiding with their flocks", it becomes very precise: late spring during lambing season - typically late March or early April.

      Christmas was moved to December to coincide with pagan holidays during the reign of Constantine.
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 8 months, 3 weeks ago
    Great piece, thank you.

    I attended a presentation at a local planetarium which presented the same theory and which went into detail as to the timing and what happened and why it was significant and even walked through the astronomical calculations as to time/place. It was fascinating. I don't remember all the details, but it happened to be the appearance and positioning of a specific planet within a specific constellation over the course of several days/weeks. The "wise men" were astronomers (outside the Roman Empire) who tracked the motions of the stars and planets and assigned significance to the various positionings as portents, omens, signs, etc. This is further supported because when one reads the accounts in the Bible, neither the common people nor the Jewish leadership (Herod et al) were familiar with "the sign" - meaning it couldn't have been something as ostentatious and obvious as either a comet or supernova.
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    • Posted by  $  8 months, 3 weeks ago
      In my original published article, exerpted for a blog post in 2015, wrote:

      "The U.S. Supreme Court has heard several cases involving so-called “creation science.” Those rulings defined the limits of what is permissible for public funds and religion. In 1971, the Supreme Court created “The Lemon Test” named for the plaintiff in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). Writing for the Court’s unanimous (8 to 0) opinion, Justice William J. Brennan established a three-pronged test to determine whether or not government action in religious matters was allowable.
      1. There must be no “excessive government entanglement” with religious affairs.
      2. No law or action can either advance or inhibit religious practice.
      3. Any government action must have a secular legislative purpose.

      "The Supreme Court, and lower appellate courts, heard many such cases over the past 35 years. The Lemon Test stands the test of time. If your planetarium is publicly funded, then the “Star of Christmas” cannot be a December holiday show."
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      • Posted by ewv 8 months, 2 weeks ago
        It's worse than that: trying to rationalize that the mythical "wise men" were astronomers while claiming evidence from the Bible is itself a real lemon.
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        • Posted by  $  blarman 8 months, 2 weeks ago
          If you can prove it didn't happen, more power to you. But ask yourself this: since you don't believe it happened, why does it matter?
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          • Posted by ewv 8 months, 2 weeks ago
            Your faith is not the standard. No one has to prove a negative. What matters here is the repetitive, obnoxious shoving it in our faces as if it matters cognitively. Take your religious proselytizing somewhere else. It does not belong here.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 8 months, 3 weeks ago
    In those days, and even before, our worshipping of the "one tru God" was predicated on the rumblings of a volcano.Approval or disapprovat was predicated on whether the volcano in question needed a dose of Pepto-Bismol or not..So worrying about a guiding star seems like small potatoes compared to the residence of God..In any case, natural phenomena had to be explained by the shaman of the day. So whoever was the Walter Cronkite of the day had the obligation of assuring the populace that all is well by making up an impressive fiction so that it forestalled the prediction of the day of judgement.But to spend days and hours verifying the fiction into science is such a waste of time and energy. It is like a Dagwood sandwich. A giant edifice that no one could digest.
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    • Posted by  $  8 months, 3 weeks ago
      Well, again, for 1500 years no one tried to explain the Christmas Star. The miracle was accepted as stated. However, the Renaissance was a change in worldview. Look at the large number of modern academic citations to the Christmas Star. Many explanations have been offered because in our time, we expect rational answers.We live in a scientific age. It is not like a "Gernsback Continuum" story where everyone wears a lab coat and speaks in equations, but, fundamentally, this is a material-rational society. And that is global even despite counter-examples.
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      • Posted by  $  Dobrien 8 months, 3 weeks ago
        The question to me is navigation. In Anne Salmond 's "Aphrodite's Island" the European discovery of Tahiti" from the captains log. The ship took on a young Tahitian boy who guided them to safe harbor sometimes in dead of night, through deadly reefs only 50 meters of clear sailing . He was passed down this astronomical
        Navigation as it had been for thousands of years.
        Many islands had never been visited by him before, yet he could pin point the safe pass. He was just an avg Tahitian.
        The Magi a word that Greek magos itself is derived from Old Persian maguŝ from the Avestan magâunô, i.e., the religious caste into which Zoroaster was born (see Yasna 33.7: "ýâ sruyê parê magâunô" = "so I can be heard beyond Magi"). The term refers to the Persian priestly caste of Zoroastrianism.[11] As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was at that time highly regarded as a science. Their religious practices and use of astrology caused derivatives of the term Magi to be applied to the occult in general and led to the English term magic, although Zoroastrianism was in fact strongly opposed to sorcery.
        These Magi could navigate using the stars for sure.
        So how could they know what their destination was? The star didn't guide Joseph and Mary were traveling and as became dark they happened on Bethlehem they took the only shelter available a manger basically a barn. It was by chance for them.
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      • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 8 months, 3 weeks ago
        This is the way I see it: As more and more people started using the mind instead of acting, behaving, thinking out of fear of consequences from some unseeable force or what we call "Reason".

        Thanks to the Greeks.
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  • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 9 months ago
    Thanks Mike, great history on what is thought to be the Star.

    Recent papers mention a conjunction with Jupiter as well. But it is a good lesson to consider physical things the ancients spoke of, they didn't make stuff up...however, the language, the meme of those times and the translations are confounding...not to mention, as the article eludes to...the organization of the teachings (religion) and recounted physical happenings are often very different from one sect of those organizations to another.

    After studying Julian Jaynes, I came to appreciate and kind of understand those memes of the ancients a little better. Pagan, preconscious and mystical they were, but still had interesting and important stuff to pass on.
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    • Posted by  $  8 months, 4 weeks ago
      Pax vobiscum, to you, Gaius. Ayn Rand pointed out (wrongly) that Christianity was the first religion to be concerned not with obedience to the gods - though there was that - but with the salvation of the individual, i.e., how to live a good life. I add that another innovation in thought was the expectation of a New Age, a better time. The only other narratives from Hesiod or the Bible (maybe there were others) were about the Fall of Man. To the Greeks we were (are) in the Iron Age of War. It never gets better. Christianity promised "better."

      Right now, I am reading The Philosophical Breakfast Club by Laura J. Snyder about how Babbage, Whewell, William Herschel, and William Jones, transformed science in the early 19th century. They all had some interest in economics - "political economy" of the nation vs. domestic economy of the home - but Jones made it his special study; and he transformed it from the "dismal science" of Malthus and Ricardo. Understanding economics makes it possible to improve life even and especially for the poor.

      The book opens with this:

      How much has happened in these 50 years--a period more remarkable than any, I will continue to say, in the annals of mankind. I am not thinking of the rise and fall of Empires, the change of dynasties, the establishment of governments. I am thinking of those revolutions of science which have had much more effect than any political causes, which have changed the position and prospects of mankind more than all the conquests and codes, an all the legislators that ever lived." -- Benjamin Disraeli, 1873

      Buti t is funny and sad that when Babbage demonstrated that his Difference Engine could produce direct-to-type accurate and correct tables that everyone depended on, Prime Minister Robert Peel, Astronomer Royal George Airy, and physicist Thoimas Young were among those who did not see the value in it.
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      • Posted by philosophercat 8 months, 3 weeks ago
        Snyder is a joy to read. We have corresponded on other topics but is correct about Whewell and his theory of induction. It only needs Rand's theory of concept formation to be fully explanatory.
        You will appreciate Whewell was Darwin's instructor and mentor at the Royal Society and gave Darwin the method to arrive at a proof of his theory. Darwin dedicated the Origin ot Whewell and sent him a copy of the first printing. Whewell was a deep Christian and knew what argument the book contained. He never opened the package sending a note to Darwin that he was sure it was well argued but he did not have time to read it. It is one of the great dramatic moments in the history of science. The father of the method of proof feared the result of his method.
        Enjoy Laura's work also "Reforming Philosophy"
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      • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 8 months, 4 weeks ago
        Interesting Mike and I agree.

        I think the point of salvation was of course, leading to a good life but more importantly, controlling one's baser instincts, temptations, attending to one's self and sharing any abundance when able and justified.

        I think, if we look at the whole picture, it translates into being productive, inventive and honest with self and others.

        In the spirit of Jaynes, I see that as the link of emerging consciousness and awareness of self, self introspection, (rational "celf"interest) and use of the mind and less dependent upon the automatic brain.
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        • Posted by ewv 8 months, 2 weeks ago
          The "big picture" was to live for the supernatural and do your duty to the edicts of a god. That does not "translate" to "being productive, inventive and honest with self and others" or rational self interest.

          The "emerging consciousness" line is the usual meaningless New Age nonsense. Humans during that era already were fully conscious and aware of themselves. How else do you think they left a record of what they were thinking? But there is no record that they had any concept of or talked in terms of the "automatic brain"; they were torn in a false alternative between range of the moment irrational feelings and following their authoritarian duty because they had no understanding of Aristotelian rational thought and egoism that came later or not recognized or ignored. Today we know how the subconscious is 'programmed' by one's choices in thinking and that emotional reactions are responses to values accepted consciously or by default.
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      • Posted by ewv 8 months, 3 weeks ago
        Where did Ayn Rand wrongly say "that Christianity was the first religion to be concerned not with obedience to the gods - though there was that - but with the salvation of the individual, i.e., how to live a good life"? She didn't generally make sweeping, unqualified a-historical statements, and religious ethics are not synonymous with living a good life in contrast to duty to a god. For a duty ethics, including religion, living properly a "good life" means to do your duty, even if that is supposed to wind up saving your soul.

        Ayn Rand did write, in an informal letter to a fan in 1946:

        "There is a great, basic contradiction in the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism — the inviolate sanctity of man's soul, and the salvation of one's soul as one's first concern and highest goal; this means—one's ego and the integrity of one's ego. But when it came to the next question, a code of ethics to observe for the salvation of one's soul—(this means: what must one do in actual practice in order to save one's soul?)—Jesus (or perhaps His interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one's soul, one must love or help or live for others. This means, the subordination of one's soul (or ego) to the wishes, desires or needs of others, which means the subordination of one's soul to the souls of others.

        "This is a contradiction that cannot be resolved. This is why men have never succeeded in applying Christianity in practice, while they have preached it in theory for two thousand years. The reason of their failure was not men's natural depravity or hypocrisy, which is the superficial (and vicious) explanation usually given. The reason is that a contradiction cannot be made to work. That is why the history of Christianity has been a continuous civil war—both literally (between sects and nations), and spiritually (within each man's soul)."

        Christianity's emphasis on saving one's soul in a later, supernatural dimension was intentionally an appeal to individualism, but in a meaningless mystical way; here on earth one's actual life required sacrifice to others. All of it was by duty to the claimed edicts of a god.
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  • Posted by ewv 8 months, 3 weeks ago
    What is the point of and conclusion of your blog?
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    • Posted by  $  8 months, 3 weeks ago
      (1). For about 1500 years, the story of the Star of Bethlehem was accepted as historically accurate because it was divine truth. Miracles were not questioned. With the Renaissance, a new way of looking at the world evolved. Over the centuries, the Christmas Star has been explained as a comet, a meteor or meteor shower, but the conjunction theory has been the most popular.

      (2) Rather than attempting to force-fit various events in the sky as seen from Earth, just accept or reject the story on faith or lack of it.

      As for the middle part. Since many people are intetested in astronomy, I thought that the many attempts at a natural explanation were interesting on their own merits. A lot of that early research was done by hand. Back in 2010, another graduate student and I placed a book review in the Newsletter of the British Association for the History of Astronomy. We had several software products, including NASA sites, with which we could "run the clock back." It is still not that easy to get the various models to agree at a detail level.
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      • Posted by ewv 8 months, 2 weeks ago
        We know that miracles ceased to be taken at face value. What do you think the validity is for the proposed scientific explanations of an astronomical event that was claimed to be observed long ago? Why do the claimed events have to be accepted or rejected on faith or its rejection, separately from the package deal? People did see things that were real, and wove them into their myths. Real events from history that may be confirmed have no implications for a claimed validity of the rest, but not everything in the stories need be made up and in principle it is possible for scientific methods to confirm what they referred to. Why do you say the attempts to find out are attempts to "force fit" events in the sky? Do you think they are all attempts at rationalization?
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        • Posted by  $  8 months, 2 weeks ago
          Right now, I am reading The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World by L:aura j. Snyder (Broadway Books, 2011). Charles Babbage, William Whewell (who invented the word "scientist" in an argument with Samuel Taylor Coleridge), William Herschel, and Richard Jones fell out with each other after 50 years largely over religious interpretation. Everyone accepted that species come and go. The fossils that were revealed fiirst by coal mining then by canal building established that. Does God create each new species? Babbage the computer maker said that God made a programmable universe that changes its actions according to a scheme invented once and left to run: "the divine clockmaker" of the Enlightenment. They had a hard time giving up the idea of God. Darwin - a frequent guest of Babbage's - eventually did.

          "People did see things that were real, and wove them into their myths." Agreed. One interpretation of the "floating rocks" seen by the Argonauts is that it was ice, a phenomenon unknown to the Greeks. "Walrus" means "foreign horse" and "hippopotamus" is "river horse" and the rhinoceros became the "unicorn." The historical Jesus is less well established than those.

          "Real events from history that may be confirmed have no implications for a claimed validity of the rest ..." George Washington did not throw a silver dollar across the Potomac, but maybe he did throw a piece of slate across the Rappahnnock. In any case, we are pretty firm in our acceptance of the reality of George Washington. That brings us back to the historical Jesus. As far as I know, the only existing manuscripts - copies of copies - of Josephus Flavius's "History of the Jews" have been altered and re-altered so that no trace of the original can be detected. So, I have no opinion beyond that on the question of who was born when.

          "Do you think they are all attempts at rationalization?" Yes. All kinds of things are always haopening in the sky. According to the two different accounts in the New Testament, the range of dates is 4 BCE to 6CE. Use your sky calendar to find your favorite interpretation. Note also, that astronomy aside, modern scientists offer different constellations as being indicative of the Jews: Aries or Pisces? Or was it in the constellation of the Virgin? Take your pick. The first "son of God" born on the Solstice was Octavius Caesar. That was just one element of pagan religion that was adopted into Christianity.

          But for personal reasons, aesthetic reasons, from the context of an amateur astronomer who goes out in the backyard with his telescope, I found it more satisfying to write it as I did, versus saying "All you guys are wrong."
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          • Posted by ewv 8 months, 2 weeks ago
            I could not discern what the point of the blog was. If you think they are all wrong then come right out and say so, and give the reasons why you think so.

            But ancient people observing a bright star has nothing to do with the birth myth or its alleged timing. Why do you think that scientists finding an event around the same time, and which could be what they saw, must be a rationalization of the whole myth? Some of the historical attempts clearly are, but all of them?
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    • Posted by Lucky 8 months, 3 weeks ago
      " What is the point of and conclusion of your blog? "

      That some people make up stories.
      Stories are used to frighten, cajole, bully or threaten others to do what they would not do otherwise.
      To preserve the power structure, the priesthood reworks the sacred stories into contemporary language and culture.
      The current culture is to link things, especially to what is called science, so the old myths are linked to current knowledge of harvest times, earthquakes, and supernova events.

      Those stories told to children are hard to let go. Instead, attempts are made to build them up.
      Much effort is put into this, after all, it is a worthwhile cause - fostering the faith.
      (Saving the planet, or not).
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      • Posted by ewv 8 months, 3 weeks ago
        We already know that some people make up stories. Mike Molnar is an astronomer who used astronomical data to confirm that historically there was a bright star in the sky that could account for why the stories of the time spoke of such an astronomical event. If the point of the blog was only that some people make up stories, why refer to that research? What was the conclusion supposed to be about that?
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