How Close Are We To Armageddon?

How Close Are We To Armageddon?

Nine specific prophecies in the Bible will occur within the final seven years prior to the Battle of Armageddon.
– Armageddon web site of EndTime Ministries

Let’s begin by putting Armageddon into perspective. People have been predicting the end of the world since shortly after the death of Jesus of Nazareth, supposedly based on Revelations 16: verse 16, in the final book of the Christian Bible (also shared by Islam, but seldom mentioned). That is, for 2000 years people have found evidence that the end of the world is imminent. Lots of predictions, not much evidence.

Revelations 16, verse 16, reads as follows: And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. That is the only mention in the Bible of a place called Armageddon.

The name supposedly comes from the Hebrew place name Megiddo. The “them” (King James version) that will gather would be kings who will gather with their warriors on a mountain. They would fight the ultimate battle of the resurrected Jesus versus the Antichrist.

That’s all very well, but there are no mountains anywhere near Megiddo. Plains, maybe, but no mountains. The plains of the Megiddo valley, near Galilee, were the most common place for battles to be fought in ancient times. In all likelihood, Megiddo (or Armageddon) came to be used as a symbol of battle the way many people refer to all facial tissues as Kleenex, or Holocaust (there have been many throughout history) when they refer to the one perpetrated by Hitler.

Despite how often the name has been mentioned over the past 2000 years, there is no place on earth with the name Armageddon.

Who is the Antichrist? Some say Satan. Some insist the Antichrist is human, in particular any foreign leader who happens to be the enemy of the day. In the period following the death of Jesus, that would be the Caesar of the day. Today his name might be Putin or Ahmadinijad, possibly Bush, or even Obama, depending on your preferred prejudices.

Most people today who think about Armageddon, or the possibility of the world as we know it ending, have never read the book of Revelations. If you have read any other parts of the Bible, give Revelations a read. You will likely wonder what happened, why the Bible suddenly became different in its final book. In fact, scholars can’t agree on anything about Revelations, except its position as the last book of the Bible.

Some say it was written by many people, some by only one man, some say by someone who was insane, but it was included in the Bible at the time of sorting in the Fourth Century because it was powerful (scary) and prophetic.

Why should we take those who predict the end of the world seriously? One religious leader, Harold Camping, has predicted the end of the world three times in 2011. He had “evidence” to support each of his predictions. I am here to tell you his predictions were wrong.

Might it all end for us in 2012, specifically on December 12, as predicted by the ancient Maya? Let me say only that the Mayan calendar itself went well beyond that date. If they expected the world to end on that date, it would not make sense to have a calendar extend beyond that date. The Maya predicted a time of renewal in 2012, but not of permanent destruction. They didn’t even predict the end of their own empire, which should give us a clue as to the dependability of their predictions.

Surely all the violence and conflict happening around the world is evidence enough that life is getting worse on our planet. This would only be true if you knew nothing about history and if you believe the news media that have taken their modus operandi from supermarket tabloids. Violence sells advertising, just as we have come to accept that sex and scandal do as well.

The world is actually more peaceful today than it has ever been in human history. Far fewer wars or violent conflicts are happening today than has been the norm for millennia. Major crime is down in most large cities of the world. Though we have seen Occupy protests in many countries of the world, they have been–and they have stressed the importance of their being–peaceful demonstrations.

Even the Arab Spring demonstrations were relatively peaceful. If you know anything of Arab history, you will appreciate how significant that was. Arab peoples are still largely associated with tribes and tribes–anywhere in the world they still exist or did in the past–are notorious for their wars and violent conflicts. That includes the tribes of Israel who were responsible for writing the Bible. They were primitive, coarse, violent people.

Slavery, rampant in the 19th and early 20th centuries (and throughout history before that), exists only in relatively small pockets in tribal conditions today. Genocide, which accounted for something over 60 million deaths in the last century, has all but disappeared due to pressure from world powers.

We live in a time of transition. We live in a period of history when the “civilization” of humanity envisioned in the past could possibly happen in the near future, even in the lifetimes of some of us. It won’t happen quickly. It won’t happen easily. For example, many people today would like to see former U.S. President George W. Bush charged in the International Criminal Court with Crimes Against Humanity. Others see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad leading the world into its first truly nuclear world war. Neither will happen.

We need to separate what is real from the propaganda that those with something to gain want us to believe. We need to understand that when someone, or some power, strongly urges us to believe something, they have something to gain and we have something to lose by believing.

We also need to teach this to our children. Unless they learn what we now understand to be true, what has been gained in our lifetimes could be lost.

As always, education is the key to our future.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book of answers and solutions to problems our leaders want us to believe can never be solved. They can and the solutions are inexpensive and fairly easy to implement.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

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Who Is An Atheist?

Who Is An Atheist?

“Samuel [Champlain] has seen other men of the church become as this one: to them, their own insight becomes dogma. Indeed it seems a perversion common to all leadership…”
The Order of Good Cheer, Bill Gaston novelist, House of Anansi Press, 2008

An atheist is someone who can’t believe that something exists that is greater than himself and more mysterious than he can understand.

An agnostic is someone who suspects the atheist may be right, but is prepared to reserve judgment until he gets more evidence, though he usually isn’t prepared to look for the evidence himself.

Which is the greater sinner?

Neither. The whole concept of sinning was invented by religions whose main purpose was and is to control the behaviour of their followers. Establishing “superhuman” control over who qualifies as a sinner and who is a devoted follower who toes the line with regard to all rules of behaviour is one of the most effective ways to control the lives of others.

What’s wrong with being an atheist? For one thing, atheists are the objects of scorn and prejudice from those who profess to be religious. For another, atheists have no rules of conduct to break, so they can’t feel guilt at sinning, as religious people do because virtually every one of them breaks their religion’s code of conduct on a regular and frequent basis. The religionists can always console themselves that atheists are worse.

But are atheists terrible people? My experience with atheists is limited and the number of people I have spoken to about their personal experiences with atheists is relatively small, but atheists seem to be among the most spiritually healthy and morally and ethically straight and well balanced of all the people I have met in my life. In short, atheists stand among the most upright and civic minded people among us.

It is as morally wrong to hate or take action against atheists as it is to commit acts or speak prejudicially against people of a different skin colour, nationality or religion. Yet the most bigotted and prejudiced people are those strongly attached to their religion.

Atheist seem to say that “God doesn’t exist.” Yet what they really say is that the God that is portrayed by advocates of every religion ever created could not possibly exist. The God of the Christians, for example, is contradictory, indecisive, prejudicial, favours one group over others, brutal, aggressive and peace loving at once and vindictive, based on the Bible and Christian history. Atheists claim that doesn’t make sense.

Religionists make no attempt to associate what we in the 21st century know about the mystical and miraculous with their explanation (definition) of God. The Church of Rome designates saints, for example, based on events it cannot explain by any other method than as “miracles” after the death of a well known good person. Yet don’t try to find a non-Catholic among the saints, even though events of a miraculous nature occur in association with living and dead people who are not church members. How could the God of the Christians enact miracles through non-Christians if Christianity is the only means to salvation, as the Christians claim?

Religions began in the early days when humans gathered in small bands, then tribes. The religion of each tribe worked because it answered unanswerable questions. That situation in itself should be enough to tell everyone that the religion is or was fictitious. But it didn’t and it doesn’t today. Adherents are asked to “have faith” because the mysterious answers came through someone who claimed to have gotten them directly from God.

If claims such as those made by religions were made in television commercials, about any product or service other than something related to God, the advertisers would be stopped and possibly charged with making false and unsupportable claims. It’s a crime, unless your claim has something to do with God.

The atheist says “This is wrong.” The agnostic cries “Huh?”

While we try to expurgate prejudice from our societies, religions themselves are the sole sources and support systems for prejudice and bigotry. Each religion could easily eliminate prejudice from its teachings, but that would require it to admit that it is not superior to all other religions. Religions, like snake oil salesmen of the past, require their followers to believe that their product is the best, the only true, safe and superior one. This engenders and foments hatred and prejudice.

Religionists never ask atheists why they do not believe the precepts of a particular religion. More importantly, they never ask atheists what they do believe, as that would be risky since the atheists may well have an excellent reply to which the religionists cannot offer a defence or counter argument.

For all the majority of people know, atheists may be the most spiritually upstanding people in the community. Some atheists may even have a better explanation about what God is and the mystery of what we exist than the religions have offered.

But no one will ask an atheist what he or she believes. And if someone does, the religions will make sure that the atheist is socially ostracized and “unfortunately no longer employable.” Historically, that’s how it works. Remember the trials of the “witches” of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692? The evidence, like the charges themselves, were totally fictitious. History abounds with similar and brutal examples.

The followers of every religion can give explanations for the same mysteries. They all believe these explanations equally strongly and fervently. Every religion is built on story upon story, each one created to give the teller power over the listener that he would not have otherwise. Those who make up the stories and those who retell them get paid for repeating them.

Unfortunately, reality is never allow to impinge itself on these stories, on these religions. Too bad, as the truth is so much more glorious and amazing than the religionists could imagine. Truth and reality have no major roles to play in religion. Religions ask their followers to have faith that the old stories are true, no matter how contradictory, how unsensible they are and how much evidence exists to disprove them.

We should not wonder that television has become such a powerful religious medium and its leaders such powerful manipulators of public belief.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who have the knowledge and skills to avoid having their beliefs manipulated by skilled propagandists.
Learn more at

http://billallin.com

Blaming Is For Losers And Bigots

It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be
unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.
– G.K. Chesterton, essayist and novelist (1874-1936)

When I first read this quote, I stumbled over the word “bigotry.” I didn’t associate bigotry with being right or wrong, but with people hurting other people for unjust reasons.

As I reread the quote several times (always wise with Chesterton quotes), I tried to place the situation into context. In what situation could a person not be able to imagine that he had gone wrong?

The answer: when he has found someone else to blame.

In most branches of culture in the West, laying blame on someone else is one of the primary rules taught to children.

“My child didn’t do anything wrong, it was the others who did it and blamed him.” “My child didn’t do anything wrong, it was the teacher who let the others get away with it and my kid got blamed.” Then there’s a whole litany of examples where father or mother hold the main responsibility for something going wrong, but they repeatedly blame someone else, usually a boss, co-worker, neighbour, family member or someone else they don’t want to see succeed.

The “mother” and “father” parts of those blame sessions serve as role models for the children. What kids learn is what their parents do. This lessons is: when something goes wrong, always find someone else to blame.

That’s not significantly different for blaming unemployment on immigrants who have come into a country and take jobs that the country’s natives would not accept. Including when doctors, judges, architects and professors have to drive taxicabs or work construction jobs because they aren’t allowed into the professions that secured their right to immigrate in the first place.

It’s not significantly different from blaming people of one particular skin colour for doing what they felt absolutely necessary to do to survive when their underfunded education system didn’t give them the skills, attitude and work habits they needed to enter the work force as equals with their peers who happened to be born with more or less skin pigment.

It’s not significantly different from advocates of political correctness who take absurd positions on what might be insulting to “others” (whose opinions they never request) and force the majority to bend to their will by using language like a political or religious paintbrush. Or others of their peers who despise changes in language usage from what they were taught in school, as children, even though language constantly changes (a fact they seem not to know or accept).

Self-righteous people are bigots, no matter in what colour of robes they clothe themselves. Every religion has its share, people who want to tell others how to live their lives. People who condemn others for “sins” they may have invented themselves or adopted from other publicly acknowledged prejudicial organizations, such as the Ku Klux Klan white supremacists of the past in the USA.

The very people who claim that sinners will go to hell when they die when they are condemned by God want to play God themselves and punish the sinners here and now. They want to punish sinners (or preferably have others punish them) who have not broken laws but who may live by moral codes that differ from their own. Despite what they supposedly believe about God punishing sinners when they die, the bigots want to see anyone who is clearly different punished, preferably before they die. Just to make sure that God doesn’t overlook the sinners and let them pass into the same heaven the bigots plant to inhabit themselves.

If the sinners are wrong, these people believe, they should suffer here as well as later. For what are the sinners to blame? They’re different. Bigots have no trouble trumping up reasons to condemn those they feel superior to.

To a bigot, fixing is not the focus, blaming is. To a bigot, teaching someone who is clearly at fault for something so that the same problem or error will not happen again is not as important as making someone suffer now for the fact it happened.

We each get to be blamers or teachers. Destroyers or fixers. Spies or mentors. Those between the extremes live relatively meaningless lives, lives that will result in them not being missed when they die.

Like it or not, the blamers, destroyers and spies receive more recognition when they die than the multitude in the middle between the extremes. Hitler blamed the Jews (for just about everything negative he could think of), for example, and look at how many millions of people believed him and wanted to make him emperor of the world. We remember Hitler today.

We also remember The Mahatma, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a man who singlehandedly brought the attention of the world to the atrocities and brutalities that the British were inflicting on their biggest colony, India, resulting in the country’s eventual independence. Though many people died at the time of independence of India and Pakistan, no one blamed Gandhi who taught that peace was the only way to effectively change anything. The massive slaughter was based on religious prejudice–Muslims and Hindus blaming each other for their problems–not on what Gandhi achieved through peace.

Strangely enough, most of the good citizens of South Asia accepted that communal violence was wrong, they stopped blaming each other and decided that the only way for the future was to coexist peacefully. They learned, they changed and they live now in peace.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow their children without prejudice, by teaching them what is truly right and wrong.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

How A 15 year old Scandalized A Nation

How A 15-year-old Scandalized A Nation

Miley Cyrus did the unthinkable. She had the unmitigated gall to grow from a child to a woman without going through a graceful transition period where the American public could approve.

The daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus (think Achy-Breaky Heart and television’s Doc) is the runaway star of Disney’s Hannah Montana, about an ordinary girl who makes it in the big time as a singer. With a fortune in Hannah toys and accessories in the marketplace, Miley had become the poster child for the clean and safe young American girl, a role model for all young girls with dreams.

But Miley crossed the line. She reached physical womanhood without becoming of legal age. With her parents at the photo shoot, she posed for Vanity Fair magazine’s June issue. I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but she posed with one shoulder and part of her back bare. Actual skin showing in the photo.

The fact that Miley and anyone else in the world would bare more skin in a bathing suit on a beach was irrelevant to self righteous American bigots. In the magazine picture she clutched a silk sheet around her and her hair was slightly mussed. Obviously Miley would be teaching young American girls who looked to her as a role model, an ideal, that sex is the right thing to do, the bigots claimed.

Oh, the dreadful degradation that Miley would bestow on American girls would stagger the imagination. Girls as young as three years old would see their idol as a shameless hussy and want to be like that themselves. Why three year old girls would be reading Vanity Fair, where many other models would be seen wearing far less than Miley, remains a mystery.

So does the claim that a bare shoulder and part of her back is sexually stimulating. Unless the bigots themselves find it stimulating.

Why parents who would not want their daughters to read the magazine would read it themselves is another mystery. Or I should say, hypocrisy.

 Parents who know next to nothing about children want someone to blame if their daughters descend into sluthood and Miley fit the bill perfectly. Miley’s embarrassment and claim that the photo was not to her liking and the distance her parents (who had approved the shoot with controversial photographer Annie Leibovitz ) put from the photo’s publication was just what the scandal-lovers wanted.The photo looks suspiciously like an art picture from the 1950s.

Yes, art, not Hustler. Only Miley wasn’t nude. But art doesn’t matter to the bigots. Bare shoulders are all that’s important.The hypocrisy of the bigots

boggles the imagination of anyone who observed the situation without emotion. The politically correct bigots wanted someone to suffer. They found Miley. She’s a sweet girl, she should do the trick nicely.

 

All parents of young girls should take the time to explain to their daughters the grief that Miley Cyrus and her parents will experience. Not because Miley did something wrong. Because fame brings shame in the United States of America.

That’s how it works. Tell your daughters about how cruel the morality police bigots can be.

Don’t bother telling them about the sins of the bigots themselves

, the ones they keep hidden away. Those sins don’t get published in Vanity Fair anyway.Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to make their children aware of the cruelty that prejudice can do to people so they can avoid it where possible.
Learn more at

http://billallin.com

Fear Affects Your Life

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
– Bertrand Russell

Fear, superstition, cruelty: big subjects, requiring more thought than most people want to devote to subjects that won’t put food on their table.

Fear is the most significant emotion we have. Many people construct their lives around fears they don’t want to admit even to themselves that they have. Everything from remaining on unfulfilling or dangerous jobs to staying with a brutal or unloving mates to supporting children that refuse to work, who take drugs or alcohol or who break the law to committing to a religion about which they have doubts but are afraid to leave for fear of being denied access to heaven.

An element of fear exists in most stories on the front pages of daily newspapers. Fear is the source of war. Fear develops into hate in some people. Most democratic governments pass legislation for fear of being voted out of power if they don’t respond to vocal interested parties and lobbyists. It’s called a reactionary style of governance.

I can’t say that I agree with Bertrand Russell that fear is the main source of superstition. Not fear on its own. People develop superstitions on their own to explain phenomena they don’t understand. Such as the weather for March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, or vice versa, which has no valid basis in meteorological record other than the fact that March marks the transition from winter to spring in the northern hemisphere.

However, ignorance of the unknown and curiosity about it could be used by some people–such as politicians, religious and military leaders–to form superstition, which could easily slide into cruelty, either in the way the manipulative leaders treat their own people or others who are “different” in some way. Prejudice based on skin colour and cultural differences are the most obvious examples of this.

The ancients used differences in culture as reason to conquer others and to kill, rape or enslave them. More recently Europeans used difference in skin colour as a reason to capture dark skinned people from Africa and transport them to be slaves in the Americas. That slavery, as we know, was cruel in many cases, beginning with the trip across the ocean.

Can fear be conquered, as Russell recommended? Fear is a learned emotion. It may be learned through experience, such as falling down stairs as a child might develop into a fear of heights in an adult.

It also may be learned from others. US President George W. Bush’s admonition after 9/11 that “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists” made enemies out of people who had little interest in the US before that. As planned, American citizens came to fear those enemies their own government had made, fearing that any one with olive coloured skin might poison, explode a bomb or otherwise kill any one or hundreds of them without notice.

Abu Graib prison, in Iraq, symbolizes as well as anything the cruelty that evolved the from superstition US military personnel had of “the enemy”.

Fear dissolves when the cause of the fear is put into context with facts. The more comprehensive the education a person has, the less likely he or she is to have fears, at least fears within the subject areas they know well. AIDS researchers, for example, do not fear getting HIV/AIDS. They exercise due caution.

In a few select communities and tests, Jewish and Palestinian children who played together had no fear of each other because they knew each other as playmates, not as “others’ that should be feared.

If we want to banish fear, we must teach the fairly simple lesson that most fears are unfounded, most fears are intended to manipulate us and we have little or no need to adopt fears of people or events that are less likely to happen than being struck dead by lightning.

Teach the children that fear is an emotion that is rarely based in or supported by fact. The children will grow to have the normal complement of caution that they will need as adults, without the fear that plagues many adults today.

Teach the children what they need to live, not just what they need to be employable.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a handbook for parents and teachers who want to grow children into healthy and well adjusted adults.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

Why Peace Doesn’t Work

I offer you peace.
I offer you love.
I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty.
I hear your need.
I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the Highest Source.
I salute that Source in you.
Let us work together for unity and love.
– Mohandas K. (“The Mahatma” – Great Soul) Gandhi

Beautiful, isn’t it? It’s a longer version of the meaning of the Hindi salutation “Namaste.”

Why doesn’t it work?

Gandhi himself, perhaps the most peaceful leader in history, was murdered by one of his own, a fellow Hindu. Peace didn’t seem to work for him that way. Why not? Especially when, generally speaking, most Indian people are peaceful compared to the people of most countries.

A concept such as peace must be taught to children, to all children, in order to be effective. Forces that work slavishly to teach fear and violence to children never sleep. In the United States, for example, you would be hard pressed to listen to a newscast or read a daily newspaper that would not incline a child toward fear and/or violence if its contents were taught to that child. Violent news is certainly repetitive.

Concepts we want to impart to our children require repetition, whether peace or violence. The US national anthem is a war song, the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag a commitment to use violence to enforce the safety of the people of the country, if necessary. The US has, since its inception, always found someone to fear, thus a reason to engage in war almost constantly throughout its history.

These two have been daily features in US classrooms longer than anyone can remember. That is, the message that violence is to be considered a primary means to resolve conflicts is taught to children every single day they attend school.

That is but one example. Canada, one of the more peaceful nations in the world has a somewhat similar national anthem, though not a pledge to its flag.

The same teachers who supervise these daily exercises–the US anthem and the pledge–do not place similar emphasis on the concept of peace or peaceful resolution of conflicts. They rarely, if ever, appear in curriculum, though the conflict messages are repeated daily.

Peace, to most of us, means that when the potential for disagreement arises, the parties involved should consider ways of resolving it other than by using violence or psychological coercion.

Until that message is conveyed to children more often than the messages about violence, the message that is taught in a stronger manner will win out in the minds of the kids, who will grow up to have similar beliefs but have access to more weapons.

Indians are taught to adore and to respect the leader who brought independence to their country. They are also taught the concepts of peace and passive resistance.

Canadian children are taught that a Canadian began the concept of international peacekeeping through the United Nations and that Canada is the only country in the Americas that gained its independence from its imperial power by peaceful means.

What children are actively and repetitively taught becomes a way of life for them in adulthood.

Those who love and support violence are tirelessly dedicated to passing their message to younger generations. Those who love peace tend to not have the same devotion to their cause.

If you want change, teach the children.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, what and when to teach children the important life lessons they need to become secure, competent and confident adults. It’s a manual for life.
Learn more at http://billallin.com