Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pay dirt - November 22, 2011

God and Jesus. It’s like when your parents get on Facebook.

NOVEMBER 17, 2011

On the way home from our vacation/hospital-stay, Victor and I ended up traveling with a very well-meaning man who wouldn’t stop talking about how God put me in the hospital on purpose because apparently He hates me.

Stranger: Well, God doesn’t close a door without opening a window.

Victor: Well that explains why our electric bill was so high. Because God doesn’t understand how expensive air-conditioning is.

Stranger: That’s...not what that phrase means.

me: I bet Jesus has to deal with this shit all the time. God’s always leaving the windows open at home…accidentally letting Jesus’ cat out. That sort of thing.

Victor: Right? And then Jesus would be like “Dad. STOP LEAVING ALL THE WINDOWS OPEN. WERE YOU BORN IN A BARN?”

Religious stranger: *stunned silence*

me: And then God would point out that Jesus actually WAS born in a barn. BURN, Jesus.


Religious person: Wow. You guys have…really thought this out.

me: No, not really.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pay Dirt: Heaven is a fairy tale, says physicist Hawking


LONDON - Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said in an interview published on Monday.

Hawking, 69, was expected to die within a few years of being diagnosed with degenerative motor neurone disease at the age of 21, but became one of the world’s most famous scientists with the publication of his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time.”

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he told the Guardian newspaper.

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

When asked how we should live he said: “We should seek the greatest value of our action.”
Hawking gave the interview ahead of the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London where he will join speakers including British finance minister George Osborne and Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Addressing the question “Why are we here?” he will argue tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe sowed the seeds of human life.

The former Cambridge University Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a post once also held by Isaac Newton, has a history of drawing criticism for his comments on religion.

His 2010 book “The Grand Design” provoked a backlash among religious leaders, including chief rabbi Lord Sacks, for arguing there was no need for a divine force to explain the creation of the universe.

As a result of his incurable illness Hawking can only speak through a voice synthesiser and is almost completely paralyzed.

He sparked serious concerns in 2009 when he was hospitalised after falling seriously ill following a lecture tour in the United States but has since returned to Cambridge University as a director of research.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pay Dirt: 'Last Supper' was on a Wednesday, not a Thursday?

Suzette Dalumpines/ Veronica Pulumbarit, GMA News
Every year on Holy Thursday, Christians call to mind the "Last Supper" — the time when the Lord Jesus Christ shared a meal with His apostles on the eve of His passion and death.

However, according to a Reuters report (by Nia Williams), a study of the Cambridge University in the United Kingdom claims that the Last Supper actually took place on a Wednesday, not a Thursday.

Filipino priest Father Abundo "Jay-ar" Babor, Jr. of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart based in Quezon City said in an interview with GMA News Online "the news of the study done by Prof. Colin Humphreys, a Cambridge University scientist, that the Last Supper took place on a Wednesday is indeed earth shaking."

"It comes at a time when we are celebrating the Holy Week. Humpreys theory, if it were true, would have a lot of implications and shake our understanding of the established traditional liturgical practices," he said.

Babor, who holds a licentiate in moral theology from the Academia Alfonsiana in Rome, cited the possible effect of the Cambridge study on the "Paschal Triduum" (also known as Holy Triduum or Easter Triduum) which begins on Holy Thursday and ends on Easter Sunday.

The Paschal Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. It remembers the passion and death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

"The Last Supper celebration, on Maundy Thursday, is essentially the beginning of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord," Babor said.

"If the Last Supper happened on a Wednesday, as Humprey theorizes, then it would change the counting of what is liturgically considered the holiest three days: Maundy Thursday-Good Friday-Easter Sunday (the Paschal Triduum)," he added.

Babor said "Humphreys’ theory could just be taken at face value but won’t radically change our liturgical practice of celebrating the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday (or his concern of setting a fixed date of Easter)."

He said "what is important in the Biblical tradition and our liturgical tradition is the celebration of the Biblical event/s, not on the preoccupation on the accuracy of the exact day/s when these Biblical events happened.

Different calendar

In an interview over radio dzBB on Wednesday, Father Bong Bongayan of St. Andrew's Shrine in Cainta said the calendars used in ancient times were far different from what we know today.

“The day starts on sunset," he said.

Thus, “Wednesday" during that period is already counted as “Thursday" in our calendar, Fr. Bangayan explained.

He further said that the news no longer surprised him since it has already been spreading for quite some time now.

"Hindi na bago yan (that is no longer news)," he said.

Humphrey's theory

A Reuters report on Monday said "The Last Supper took place on a Wednesday -- a day earlier than thought -- and a date for Easter can now be fixed, according to a Cambridge University scientist aiming to solve one of the Bible's most enduring

"I was intrigued by Biblical stories of the final week of Jesus in which no one can find any mention of Wednesday. It's called the missing day," Humphreys told Reuters. "But that seemed so unlikely: after all Jesus was a very busy man."

Reuters said Humphreys' findings help explain an "inconsistency" among the Gospels.

Matthew, Mark and Luke said the Last Supper coincided with Passover while John said the meal took place before the Jewish holy day commemorating the Exodus from Egypt.

"Humphreys' research suggests Jesus, and Matthew, Mark and Luke, were using the Pre-Exilic Calendar, which dated from the time of Moses and counted the first day of the new month from the end of the old lunar cycle, while John was referring to the
official Jewish calendar of the day," the Reuters report said.

"The contradictions have been known for a long time but not been talked about by the general public very much. I am using science and the Bible hand in hand to solve this question and showing the Gospels are actually agreeing, just using different
calendars," he added.

Humphreys, a metallurgist and materials scientist and a Christian, said "It was an extremely curious mistake for anyone to make because for Jewish people Passover was such an important meal."

With the help of an astronomer, Humphreys reconstructed the Pre-Exilic calendar. They placed Passover on April 1 (Wednesday) in the year AD 33, widely accepted as the year of Jesus' crucifixion, Reuters said.

If Christians want to ascribe a date for Easter based on Humphreys' calculations Easter Day would fall on the first Sunday in April.

If the Passover meal and the Last Supper did take place on a Wednesday it would help explain how the large number of events that the Gospels record between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion took place.

What Humphreys failed to consider

According to Babor, "Humpreys theory apparently fails to consider the following:

(1) The four Gospels were written at different times with different cultural milieu. The Gospel of Mark, which Biblical scholars agree was the first Gospel ever written is dated between 60-70 AD; the Gospel of Matthew was written between 80-90 AD; the Gospel of Luke was written at the same time with Matthew, between 80-90 AD; and the Gospel of John between 90-100 AD.

What does it tell us? It means that there’s really no problem with the inconsistency of the date and time when those events happened. The Gospel stories were handed down from one generation to another; the Biblical message remained the same but the particular dates were not the particular concern.

Whether Matthew, Mark and Luke used another calendar than John didn’t really matter. The Gospels were not intended to be a biography of Jesus.

(2) The Biblical writers' primary intention was not Biblical accuracy of the dates (as Humpreys strongly argues that the discrepancy of the Gospel accounts of Synoptic Gospels on the Passover and that of John had been the source of debate on the reliability of the Gospels) but the preaching and the telling of the story, the “narrative" of Biblical events especially concerning the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.