Myths about religion- Tamara Sonn at TEDxCollege of William & Mary

This is a 2013 Ted talk where a typical loony left wing academic advocates global liberalism and scientism as the way to deal with religious excesses. I left this furious reply

And below I included the video transcript because reading is faster than listening.

This was my furious comment left under this video.

2022 This is a very much atheist liberal propaganda advocating a scientific technocracy should rule. That science is some great bastion that moderates religious excesses. And it brought us Fauci and Covid 19 scientifically produced to kill millions. To produce inhumane lockdowns and mandatory vaccines that have killed 20 million people so far and introduced a new raised death rate boosted by 40 pc calculated to kill 3 Billion in a couple of decades. Insurance companies verified this. So the religion of “science” has outstripped the excesses of old fashioned religions. If you don’t know the holy spirit your opinions are next to worthless. BUT you will be pleased to know that in 2022 God now makes daily broadcasts thru verified prophet Julie Green on Rumble. In the daily lessons God vigorously campaigns to ELIMINATE RELIGIOUS thinking and legalist thinking. And listen only to his internal, mentoring voice in a state of Gnosis. (knowing the spirit).

And below I included the video transcript because reading is faster than listening.

Transcript of this video faster than watching

Myths about religions transcript

Notice only Christianity is demonised. So academics work for who ? Can you deduce that ? 10 guesses. Warning it finishes with Obama worship.

Thanks so much Prave and Alex and Anna and Todd and all of you who worked so hard to bring TEDx to William and Mary are really more to bring William and Mary to. TEDx, I know you’ve worked for so long. The program has been so good so far. Lots of historic innovation, lots of tech prezis PowerPoint, none of that with me. It’s just myth and religion. And what could possibly be historically innovative about myth and religion? Well, I’m glad you asked that question, actually. We have a lot to learn from studying myths and how they work in our lives, especially myths about religion. But before we can talk about it, we have to know what we mean by myth. We usually think of myths as simply false beliefs. And some myths about religion really are just false beliefs. Like the belief that the stories of the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an were uniquely revealed to the prophets. In fact, some of those iconic stories have precursors in earlier texts. Like the story of the creation of the world by a god who tamed the raging seas and separated the earth from the skies or earth from the heavens. This story is told in the Book of Genesis and in the Quran, but it’s also told in the Enuma elish of ancient Iraq, the homeland of the biblical patriarch Abraham. And that version probably dates to at least 1000 years earlier than the biblical text. Or the belief that the Quran teaches that Muslims will be greeted in heaven by 72 virgins. The Quran does describe heaven as populated with pure and ageless partners and refers obliquely to the ancient tradition of psychopomps. One of my favorite words pure souls serving as guides for the righteous across the narrow bridge from earth to the heavens. But these figures are not defined as people who have never had sex. And nowhere is the number 72 mentioned. But many scholars don’t use the term myth to mean a false belief. For them, myths are stories that may or may not be true, but that we cherish anyway as part of our group’s story. Because they tell us who our heroes are and they highlight our values. Like the story of George Washington. We’ve mentioned him before in the cherry tree. In religion, myths are stories about things in the deep recesses of prehistory, or stories about things in the far distant future. Stories that are beyond the realm of science and history and may even sound a bit fanciful to scientists and historians. But we cherish them anyway because they do highlight our values and tell us about our heroes. And they help us answer the big questions like why we happen to exist in the first place, why life is so difficult sometimes, who can we trust? What might happen next? And when we hear these stories, we get a sense that we’re in touch with a higher reality, a transcendent. And we feel a measure of assurance that things are basically under control and that there’s a reason for us to carry on. In that sense, in their own way, these myths are true. In that sense, as the fourth century historian Seleucius put it, myths are things that never happened but are always true. Very much like what Picasso said about art a lie that makes us realize the truth. And in that sense, myths are not separate from religion. These sacred stories are part of religion. Scholars like Mercia Eliade, Joseph Campbell and Karen Armstrong take this approach to myth. But other scholars caution against such a romantic view of myth and advocate instead a more critical approach to matters of belief. Because too many people can’t tell the difference between this special or sacred kind of truth and everyday reality. Too many people can’t tell the difference between transcendent myth and literal truth, and that can lead to serious problems in real life. Take that creation story that a single mighty maker accomplished the job in six days. It’s one thing to find in this story assurance that we don’t just exist by accident and quite another to insist that the story is literally true and therefore to dismiss the science that demonstrates otherwise as an attack on a higher and more unquestionable authority. That is, to insist on choosing between myth and science in such a way that science loses. A 2012 Gallup poll indicates that 46% of Americans believe the Adam and Eve story is literally true. And that’s up 2% since 1982, perhaps because of the increasing tendency to teach creation teach the creation story instead of science. And that despite a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the teaching of the creation myth as science. The Spread of anti-science was alarming enough in Europe that the parliament of the Council of Europe passed a resolution in 2007 titled The Dangers of Creationism in Education. The resolution warns that denying the science behind the theory of evolution in favor of unquestioning belief in our group’s stories can undermine the research necessary to deal with major challenges facing humanity today, including epidemic, disease and environmental disaster. So that’s one of the major issues identified by scholars who caution against romanticizing myth the danger of sacrificing scientific reasoning even in areas when we need to use it most. There’s another danger involved in confusing sacred myths with everyday reality, though it’s one thing to believe that Jesus founded a church with authorities headquartered in Rome and quite another to justify killing people who disagree with those authorities. Within five years of Christianity being declared the official religion of Rome in the fourth century, the Church executed someone for disagreeing about how to worship. In the same century, Augustine became an authority of that church, claiming that the commandment forbidding killing was not broken by those who wage wars at the command of the Church. This paved the way for Christians to serve in the military, which until then had been considered a violation of Jesus pacifist teaching, and it would ultimately legitimate wars to expand Christian sovereignty, wars against pagans and heretics. So this is an example of another danger involved in valorizing, uncritical belief, belief in our own stories to the extent of sacrificing those who do not fit into them. Need more examples? If you think pagans and heretics had it bad, what about Jews? After Christianity was politicized in the fourth century, if you didn’t accept trinitarian Christianity, you were at best potentially a traitor, and at best, sorry, at least potentially a traitor and at best looked upon with suspicion. In times of turmoil, war, depression, disease, people tried to figure out why such bad things were happening and sometimes resorted to just finding someone to blame. And that’s when stories about the treachery of Jews went viral. The most common one was that Jews killed Christian children to drink their blood because of its purity or to make mozz. I’m not making this up. There’s the famous case of the English child who was found dead in a well in 12 55. 90 Jews were accused of participating in torturing him, draining his blood, and crucifying him to mock Jesus. 18 were hanged, and King Henry confiscated their property. Miracles were attributed to the child. He was called a saint, and he got a shrine in Lincoln Cathedral. It took 700 years for the Anglican Church to disavow the story of little Saint Hugh of Lincoln. And this kind of slander wasn’t limited to just the ignorant masses. In 1534, Martin Luther wrote a book titled The Jews and Their Lies. In it, he said that Jews were nothing but thieves and robbers who wear and eat only what they have stolen from us. Through their accursed usury, they suck the marrow from our bones. What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people? He asked. He suggested burning their synagogues, schools, and houses, forbidding rabbis to teach on pain of death, and confining Jews to their homes. This, Luther said, is to be done in honor of our Lord and Christendom so that God might see that we’re Christians. You see, the Jews didn’t fit into the story. It’s not very difficult to see a connection between such teaching by one of the founders of the Protestant Reformation and the horrors of the Holocaust some 400 years later, a connection that’s been acknowledged by Lutheran groups in apologies since by the Roman Catholic Church since 1998. Again, these two issues rejecting science and demonizing those who aren’t a part of our stories call uncritical belief into question. This does not mean that there’s no room in our lives for the myths that enrich us, that give shape to the shapeless mysteries of existence and that motivate noble behavior even in our darkest days. But it does point to the importance of understanding myths so that we can appreciate when it’s unique sacred realm, the realm of life sustaining paradigms, when the boundaries of that sacred realm have been breached and its stories perverted. Some of you may have been watching the dramatizations of biblical stories that have been showing on TV for the past couple of weeks as people prepare for Passover and Easter. It’s pretty terrifying stuff death and disaster everywhere. Confiscation of property by divine command. What can happen when people take those stories out of the sacred plane and use them for political programs? Here’s an example. In 1630, the governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, declared that God had called upon the English settlers to build a model Bible commonwealth. If we are six, if we are faithful to our mission, Winthrop wrote, we shall find that the God of Israel is among us. When tens of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, we shall be as a city upon the hill, the eyes of all people upon us. That biblical illusion became a powerful motivator for colonial expansion or exploration, as Euphemistically called in 1045. An article in the Democratic Review called for Americans to take more land on this continent, saying that it would be the fulfillment of our manifest destiny, a destiny that had been allotted by Providence for the free development of our multiplying millions. How many Native Americans lost life and property in confrontations with zealous European settlers? Enough for us. Congress to pass a resolution of apology to native peoples, acknowledging, quote, the years of official depredations, ill conceived policies, the breaking of covenants violence, maltreatment and neglect inflicted on American Indians by US. Citizens. But that wasn’t until May 2010, after the damage had been done. The chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chad Smith, spoke at the ceremony marking of the congressional apology. He said that apologies for atrocities are difficult. The past obviously can’t be changed, but we can learn from it. The real question, Chad said, is what happens from this day forward. So what can the study of myths and religion tell us today? That our sacred stories can be sources of inspiration and consolation, even if they’re not empirically verifiable, but also that we have to be careful how our stories are used? Are we responsible for how other people use our beliefs? And how do we even know if our stories, if some of our beliefs are impacting other people in negative ways? These are the questions raised by the study of myth and religion, and I have the audacity to hope that asking them could change the way we look at belief. As President Obama said last week when he visited Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, we see the barbarism that unfolds when we see other human beings as less than us. We have the choice to ignore what happens to others, he said, but knowing what can happen when we do it is our obligation to act for us in our time, the president said this means confronting bigotry and hatred in all of its forms. The courage to do that, I believe can also be found in our sacred Stories. Thank you.

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