Saturday, February 28, 2009

history of Christianity

Christ with the crown of thorns, 1623, Oil on canvas, 106 cm x 136 cm, Catharijneconvent, UtrechtThe history of Christianity concerns the history of the Christian religion and the Church, from Jesus and his Twelve Apostles to contemporary times. Christianity is the monotheistic religion which considers itself based on the revelation of Jesus Christ (cf. Galatians 1:12). "The Church" is understood theologically as the institution founded by Jesus for the salvation of mankind.

Christianity began in the 1st century AD as a Jewish sect but quickly spread throughout the Greco-Roman world.

Although it was originally persecuted under the Roman empire, it would ultimately become the state religion. In the Middle Ages it spread beyond the old borders of the Empire into Northern Europe and Russia. During the Age of Exploration, Christianity expanded throughout the world; it is the world's largest religion.

Throughout its history, the religion weathered schisms and theological disputes that have resulted in the development of three main branches: Catholicism, Eastern Christianity (Eastern Orthodoxy), and Protestantism.


Friday, February 27, 2009

The Roman Empire

The Roman Empire at its greatest extentThe Roman Empire is the term conventionally used to describe the Ancient Roman society in the centuries following its reorganization under the leadership of Caesar Augustus in the late 1st century BC. After Constantinople had been made capital and the Western parts were lost, the Eastern part continued its existence, in what is currently known as Byzantine Empire.

"Roman Empire" is also used as translation of the expression, Imperium Romanum, probably the best known Latin expression where the word imperium is used in the meaning of a territory, the "Roman Empire", as that part of the world under Roman rule.

The expansion of this Roman territory beyond the borders of the initial city-state of Rome had started long before the state organization turned into an Empire. In its territorial peak after the conquest of Dacia by Trajan, the Roman Empire controlled approximately 5.


Thursday, February 26, 2009


Ur seen across the Royal tombs, with the Great Ziggurat in the background, January 17, 2004 Ur was an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia, located near the original mouth of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers on the Persian Gulf and close to Eridu. Because of marine regression, the remains are now well inland in present-day Iraq, south of the Euphrates on its right bank , and named Tell el-Mukayyar, near the city of Nasiriyah south of Baghdad.
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. 7 He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it." 8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"-Genesis 15:6-8
The site is marked by the ruins of a ziggurat (right), still largely intact, and by a settlement mound. The ziggurat is a temple of Nanna, the moon deity in Sumerian mythology.

It has has two stages constructed from brick: in the lower stage the bricks are joined together with bitumen, in the upper stage they are joined with mortar. Ur at its height had around 30,000 residents.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Temple of Solomon

Solomon brought in masons and architects from Tyre to build the temple, which took seven years to complete.The Temple of Solomon (Hebrew: בית המקדש,transliterated Bet HaMikdash and meaning literally "The Holy House"), also known as the First Temple, was, according to the Bible, the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It functioned as a religious focal point for worship and the sacrifices known as the korbanot in ancient Judaism. Completed in the 10th century BCE, it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

Before his death King David had provided materials in great abundance for the building of the temple on the summit of Mount Moriah (1 Chronicles 22:14; 29:4; 2 Chronicles 3:1), where he had purchased a threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite (2 Sam. 24:21 et seq.), on which he offered sacrifice.

The bible states that in the beginning of his reign, King Solomon of the united Kingdom of Israel, set about giving effect to the ideas of his father, and prepared additional materials for the building. From subterranean quarries at Jerusalem he obtained huge blocks of stone for the foundations and walls of the temple. These stones were prepared for their places in the building under the eye of Tyrian master-builders.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Akkadian Empire

virtual map of the area of the Akkadian empireThe Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad (Sumerian: Agade Hittite KUR A.GA.DÈKI "land of Akkad," Biblical Accad, אכד 'Akkad) and its surrounding region Akkadian URU Akkad KI in central Mesopotamia.
6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD." 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and 12 Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 13 Egypt fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorim. -Genesis 10:6-14

The city of Akkad was situated on the west bank of the Euphrates, between Sippar and Kish (in Iraq, about 50 km (31 mi) southwest of the center of Baghdad). Despite an extensive search, the precise site has never been found. It reached the height of its power between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC, following the conquests of king Sargon of Akkad.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Neil Armstrong

“ Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed. ”  Neil Armstrong photographed by Edwin E. “Buzz”  Aldrin, Jr. after the completion of the Lunar EVA on the Apollo 11 flight.Neil Alden Armstrong (born 5 August 1930) is a former Test pilot and astronaut, and was the first man to step upon the moon. His first spaceflight was Gemini 8 in 1966, for which he was the command pilot. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft together with pilot David Scott. Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969. On this famous "giant leap for mankind", Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface ("The Eagle has landed") and spent 2.5 hours exploring while Michael Collins orbited above.

That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Before becoming an astronaut, he was an aviator for the United States Navy and saw action in the Korean War, then a test pilot at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he flew over 900 flights in a variety of aircraft.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Biblical archaeology

An aerial view of the Tel, Apollonia IsraelBiblical archaeology involves the recovery and scientific investigation of the material remains of past cultures that can illuminate the periods and descriptions in the Bible. As with the historical records from any other civilization, the manuscripts must be compared to other accounts from contemporary societies in Europe, Mesopotamia, and Africa; additionally, records from neighbors must be compared with them. The scientific techniques employed are those of archaeology in general including excavations as well as chance discoveries.

By contrast Near Eastern archaeology is simply the archaeology of the Ancient Near East without any particular consideration of how its discoveries relate to the Bible.

Biblical archaeology is a controversial subject with differing opinions on what its purpose and goals are or should be.


Friday, February 20, 2009


Saint Barnabus, Artist: Anonimo LombardoBarnabas was an early Christian mentioned in the New Testament. His Hellenic Jewish parents called him Joseph, (although the Byzantine text-type calls him Joses, the Aramaic version of Joseph, (Aramaic of Jesus) but when he sold all his goods and gave the money to the apostles in Jerusalem they gave him a new name: Barnabas, which means huios parakleseos (Greek: υιος παρακλήσεως) "son of exhortation," or 'man of encouragement.' see Acts 11:23) and connotes a prophet in the Early Christian sense of the word (see Acts 13:1; 15:32). In many English translations of the Bible, including the

  • New International Version (NIV),
  • King James Version (KJV), and
  • New American Standard Bible (NASB),

Barnabas is called an apostle. In Acts 14:14 of these translations, he is listed ahead of Paul, "Barnabas and Paul," instead of "Paul and Barnabas;" both men being described as apostles. Whether Barnabas was an apostle became an important political issue, which was debated in the Middle Ages.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ark of the Covenant

There have been many elaborate reconstructions of the Ark of the Covenant but in all probability the Ark was similar to the Shrine of Anubis found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun.The Ark of the Covenant (ארון ברית in Hebrew: 'arown bĕriyth) called more fully, The "Ark of The Testimony," wherein rested the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. The Ark was built at the command of God, in accord with Moses's prophetic vision on Mount Sinai:
10 "They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you -Exodus 25:9-10.
Its primary function was for God to communicate with Moses, "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark's cover:


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Acts of the Apostles

Peter the Apostle Date: 1743. Artist: Giuseppe NogariThe Acts of the Apostles (Greek Praxeis Apostolon) is a book of the Bible, which now stands fifth in the New Testament after the four gospels. This book describes the development of the early church from Christ's Ascension to Paul's sojourn at Rome. It is commonly referred to as simply Acts. The traditional view is that it was written by the Macedonian Christian physician and historian Luke the Evangelist (also the author of the gospel of Luke).

An alternative name for the book is Acts of the Holy Spirit. It describes many of the journeys and actions taken by the apostles, meaning "those who have been sent" by God, to be His witnesses.

This was originally applied exclusively to those who had personally seen and/or lived with Jesus of Nazareth. The book of Acts contains many descriptions of miraculous events (which were given as signs from God to validate the apostles' teachings), which were performed by the Holy Spirit through the apostles. These included miraculous healings, casting out evil spirits, the raising of the dead, and also historical descriptions of everyday life in The Roman Empire and in ancient Jerusalem.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The Sacrifice of Isaac, Artist: Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, Oil on canvas, 66 x 54 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, BudapestIsaac or Yitzchak (Hebrew: יִצְחָק "he will laugh" or "he laughs") was the only son of Abraham and Sarah, and the father of Jacob and Esau as described in the Hebrew Bible. His story is told in the Book of Genesis. Isaac was the longest-lived of the patriarchs, and the only biblical patriarch whose name was not changed. Isaac was the only patriarch who did not leave Canaan, although he once tried to leave and God told him not to do so. Compared to other patriarchs in the Bible, his story is less colorful, relating few incidents of his life.

Abraham's willingness to follow God's command to sacrifice Isaac was viewed by Early Christianity as an example of faith and obedience, and is often cited today:
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. -Heb. 11:8-12
Etymology and meaning
The English name Isaac is a translation of the Hebrew term יִצְחָק, Strong's H3327 - Yitschaq which literally means "he will laugh," or "he laughs." The term conforms to a well-known Northwest Semitic linguist type, but is not known from elsewhere. As mentioned the term literally means "may God smile", and the Ugaritic texts from thirteenth century BCE refer to the benovolent smile of the Canaanite god El. The Bible (i.e. the canonical collections of sacred writings of Judaism), however, ascribes the laugher to be Isaac's mother (Sarah) rather than the Canaanite god El. The reason for Sarah's laughing, according to the Bible, was that, when God gave the news of the birth of Isaac to his parents they were beyond the age of having children, so they privately laughed at the prediction.


Monday, February 16, 2009

The Exodus

Interactive map of the area of the ExodusThe Exodus, more fully The Exodus of Israel out of Egypt, was the departure of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt under the leadership of Moses and Aaron as described in the biblical Book of Exodus. It forms the basis of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Although we cannot be 100% certain, we have a general idea how many people were among the Israelites during the Exodus because

1 The LORD spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 2 "Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. 3 You and Aaron are to number by their divisions all the men in Israel twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army.

And Moses and Aaron and one man from each tribe proceeded to count them:

Numbers from each of the tribes

(note: the alotment of the tribes and the images of the tribes, below, happened after the Exodus. The images below are merely for illustrative purposes)


Sunday, February 15, 2009


Moses holding up his arms during the battle, assisted by Aaron and Hur. Painting by John Everett MillaisAccording to the Hebrew Bible, Moses (Hebrew: משה Mosheh "to draw out, pull out") led the Israelites out of Egypt, and received the Torah of Judaism from God on Mount Sinai. The Torah contains the life story of Moses and his people until his death at the age of 120 years, according to some calculations in the year 2488, or 1272 BC. Consequently, "may you live to 120" has become a common blessing among Jews.

Moses's greatest legacy was probably expounding the doctrine of monotheism, which was not widely accepted at the time, codifying it in Jewish religion with the 1st Commandment, and punishing polytheists. He is revered as a prophet in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The birth of Moses occurred at a time when the current Egyptian monarch had commanded that all male children born to Hebrew[1] captives should be killed by drowning in the Nile River.
22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive. Exodus 1:22


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee region interractive mapThe Sea of Galilee is Israel's largest freshwater lake, approximately 53 kilometers (33 miles) in circumference, about 21 km (13 miles) long, and 13 km (8 miles) wide; it has a total area of 166 km², and a maximum depth of approximately 43 meters. At 209 meters below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake. It is not a sea by any normal definition; it is called a sea by tradition. The lake is also known on modern maps as Lake Galilee or Lake Tiberias. The name Galilee refers to the region of Galilee in which it is located. In modern Hebrew it is known by its biblical name, Yam Kinneret (ים כנרת), "Sea of Kinnereth" (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 13:27). The name may originate from the Hebrew word kinnor ("harp" or "lyre") - which the lake's shape resembles. It has also been called the Lake of Gennesaret or the Sea of Gennesaret (Greek: Γεννησαρέτ Strong's G1082 - Gennēsaret, of Hebrew origin, cf H3672 כנרות Kinnĕrowth, Chinneroth or Cinneroth or Chinnereth = "harps"). (Luke 5:1) after the name of a small fruitful plain which lies on its western side.

The Kinnĕrowth is fed by underground springs, but its main source is the Jordan River, which flows through it from north to south.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Christian worldview

Christian WorldviewChristian worldview refers to a collection of distinctively Christian philosophical and religious beliefs. The term is typically used in one of three ways:

  1. A set of worldviews voiced by those identifying themselves as Christian;
  2. Common elements of worldviews predominant among those identifying themselves as Christian;
  3. The concept of a single "Christian worldview" on a range of issues.

There are some rather startling statistics, based upon the following definition of "worldview," including a firm belief in six specific religious views.
  1. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life;
  2. God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today;
  3. salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned;
  4. Satan is real;
  5. a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and
  6. the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

Based upon the above definition, Barna and other polling organizations have observered a decline in Christian beliefs. A recent study indicates that only 4% of American adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making -- while at the same time "spirituality" has been on the rise.


Thursday, February 12, 2009


virtual map of Alexandria.Alexandria (Greek: Αλεξάνδρεια), (population of 3.5 to 5 million), is the second-largest city in Egypt (see ancient Egypt), and its largest seaport. Alexandria extends about 20 miles (32 km) along the coast of the Mediterranean sea in the northwest of Egypt. It is home to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the New Library of Alexandria, and is an important industrial centre because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez.

In ancient times, the city was known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) and the Library of Alexandria (the largest library in the ancient world). Ongoing maritime archaeology in the harbour of Alexandria (which began in 1994) is revealing details of Alexandria both before the arrival of Alexander, when a city named Rhakotis existed there, and during the Ptolemaic dynasty.

The city of Alexandria was named after its founder, Alexander the Great and as the seat of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, quickly became one of the greatest cities of the Hellenistic civilization — second only to Rome in size and wealth.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Antony van Leeuwenhoek

Microscopic Section through one year old ash (Fraxinus) wood.Antony (October 24, 1632 - August 30, 1723), full name Thonius Philips van Leeuwenhoek (pronounced 'vahn Laywenhook') was a Dutch tradesman and scientist from Delft, Netherlands. He is commonly known as "the Father of Microbiology". Born the son of a basket maker, at age 16 he secured an apprenticeship with a Scottish cloth merchant in Amsterdam. He is best known for his work on the improvement of the microscope and for his contributions towards the establishment of microbiology. Using his handcrafted microscopes he was the first to observe and describe single celled organisms, which he originally referred to as animalcules, and which we now refer to as microorganisms. He was also the first to record microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatozoa and blood flow in capillaries (small blood vessels). He published his observations in a series of letters to the Royal Society. The name bacterium was introduced much later, by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg in 1828, and is derived from the Greek word βακτήριον -α , bacterion -a , meaning "small staff".
His faith in God and love for His creation undergirded his science. Along with others, he exposed the fallacy of spontaneous generation (abiogenesis), the superstitious belief that life sprung from material objects, such as raw meat "birthing" maggots.
Van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch Reformed Calvinist. He often referred with reverence to the wonders God designed in making creatures great and small. He believed that his amazing discoveries were merely further proof of the great wonder of God's creation.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009


German economist Karl Marx German philosopher, political economist, historian, sociologist, humanist, political theorist and revolutionarySocialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation. Modern socialism originated in the late nineteenth-century working class political movement and the intellectual movement of that period which criticized the effects of industrialization and private ownership on society. Karl Marx posited that socialism would be achieved via class struggle and a proletarian revolution and would represent the transitional stage between capitalism and communism.

The first socialists predicted a world improved by harnessing technology and combining it with better social organization, and many modern socialists share this belief , although modern socialists have a bigger emphasis on egalitarianism whereas traditional socialists favored meritocracy. Socialists mainly share the belief that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital, creates an unequal society and does not provide equal opportunities for everyone in society to attain such status. Therefore socialists advocate the creation of a society in which wealth and power are distributed more evenly based on the amount of work expended,although there is considerable disagreement among socialists over how, and to what extent this could be achieved.


Monday, February 09, 2009


virtual map of Iraq and surrounding areaIraq, officially the Republic of Iraq (pronounced Arabic: العراق Al-ʾIrāq), officially the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: جمهورية العراق Jumhūrīyat Al-ʾIrāq, Kurdish: كۆماری عێراق‎, Komara Iraqê), is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert. It shares borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the west, Syria to the northwest, Turkey to the north, and Iran to the east. It has a very narrow section of coastline measuring 58 km (35 miles) between Umm Qasr and Al Faw on the Persian Gulf. There are two major flowing rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates. These provide Iraq with agriculturally capable land and contrast with the desert landscape that covers most of Western Asia.

The capital city, Baghdad (Arabic: بغداد‎ Baġdād), is in the center-east. Iraq's rich history dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is identified as the cradle of civilization and a birthplace of writing. Throughout its long history, Iraq has been the center of the Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Sassanid and Abbasid Caliphate, and part of the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Parthian, Roman, Rashidun, Umayyad, Mongol, Ottoman and British empires.

Beginning with the invasion in 2003, a multinational coalition of forces, mainly American and British, occupied Iraq. Under the Laws of War and UNSCR 1483, the occupying Coalition Provisional Authority completed the transfer of sovereignty on June 28th, 2004 to the Iraqi Interim Government in accordance with UNSCR 1546, formally ending the "occupation." Elections on January 30th, 2005 created the Iraqi Transitional Government, which drafted the Constitution of Iraq, approved by referendum on October 25th, 2005. Under this new Constitution, elections chose a new Iraqi National Assembly to form the Government of Iraq. Some dispute whether Iraq is de facto sovereign (see Iraqi sovereignty, United States-Iraq relations).


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Paul the Apostle

St Paul Healing the Cripple at LystraPaul the Apostle, also known as Paul, Paulus, Paul of Tarsus, and Saint Paul the Apostle, (AD 3—67) is widely considered to be central to the early development and spread of Christianity, particularly westward from Judea. Many Christians view him as an important interpreter of the teachings of Jesus. Paul is described in the New Testament as a Hellenized Jew and Roman citizen from Tarsus (present-day Turkey), and as a persistent persecutor of early Christians, almost all of whom were Jewish, prior to his "Road to Damascus" experience, which brought about his conversion to faith in Jesus as Messiah, not only for Jews, but for all, regardless of ethnic background.

Paul made the first great effort, through his Epistles to Gentile Christian communities, to show that the God of Abraham is for all people, rather than for Jews only, though he did not originate the idea, for example see Isaiah 56:6-8 or proselyte or Great Commission, or Simon Peter's vision of the sheet descending from Heaven in Acts 10:9-23a.

Paul is venerated as a Saint by all the churches that honor saints, including those of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican traditions, and some Lutheran sects.

He is the 'patron saint' of the City of London and has also had several cities named in his honor, including Sao Paulo, Brazil and Saint Paul, Minnesota in the United States. He did much to advance Christianity among the Gentiles, and is considered to be one source (if not the primary source) of early Church doctrine, and the founder of Pauline Christianity. His epistles form a fundamental section of the New Testament. Some argue that he was instrumental in establishing Christianity as a distinct religion, rather than a sect of Judaism, as Christianity was first known.

Due to his body of work and his undoubted influence on the development of Christianity, some modern scholars have considered Paul to be the founder of Christianity, who modified Jesus' teachings and added important new doctrines. However, this view remains controversial. Most Christian scholars say that no teachings were modified, and assert that Paul taught in complete harmony with Jesus. Some Christians, however, particularly those who embrace dispensationalism, believe that Jesus' teachings are for the Jews — especially those teachings found in Matthew — and that Christians necessarily have a different belief system since Christianity, according to this perspective, only arose as a result of the rejection by the Jews of Jesus as their Messiah.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the United States. It was Rand's fourth, longest, and last novel. Afterward, she completed only non-fiction works, concentrating on philosophy, politics, and cultural criticism.

At over one thousand pages in length, she considered Atlas Shrugged to be her magnum opus. The book explores a number of philosophical themes that Rand would subsequently develop into the philosophy of Objectivism. It centers on the decline of Western civilization, and Rand described it as demonstrating the theme of "the role of man's mind in existence." In doing so it expresses many facets of Rand's philosophy, such as the advocacy of reason, individualism, and the market economy.

Atlas Shrugged, the three sections of the book:  Part 1 - Non-Contradiction;  Part 2 - Either-Or;  Part 3 - A Is A

The theme of Atlas Shrugged is the role of the mind in man's life and, consequently, presentation of a new morality: the morality of rational self-interest.

The main crux of the book surrounds the decision of the "men of the mind" to go on strike, refusing to contribute their inventions, art, business leadership, scientific research, or new ideas of any kind to the rest of the world. Each man of ability eventually reasons (or is convinced) that society hampers him with unnecessary, burdensome regulations and undervalues his contributions to the world, confiscating the profits and sullying the reputations he has rightfully earned. The peaceful cohesiveness of the world begins to disintegrate as each of these men of ability slowly disappears and society loses those individuals whose mental effort allows it to continue functioning. The strikers believe that they are crucial to a society that exploits them, denying them freedom or failing to acknowledge their right to self-interest, and the gradual collapse of civilization is triggered by their strike. This is not to say that they believed that giving the creators their due would cost civilization. Rather, the strikers believe that the current irrational altruist/collectivist culture impeded them and therefore the rest of society as well. As such it would serve no one's interest to continue to allow himself to be exploited, although the strike is not primarily motivated by the harm the current state of society does to others as well.



Depiction of Jesus, reading the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Himself.
Liberty, the freedom to act or believe without being oppressed.


  1. the state of being free, esp. to enjoy political and civil liberties
  2. exemption or immunity: freedom from government control
  3. liberation, such as from slavery
  4. the right or privilege of unrestricted access: freedom of the skies
  5. self-government or independence
  6. the power to order one's own actions
  7. ease or frankness of manner


  1. to burden with cruel or unjust impositions or restraints; subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise of authority or power: a people oppressed by totalitarianism.
  2. to lie heavily upon (the mind, a person, etc.): Care and sorrow oppressed them.
  3. to weigh down, as sleep or weariness does.
  4. Archaic. to put down; subdue or suppress.
  5. Archaic. to press upon or against; crush.

Individualist and liberal conceptions of liberty relate to the freedom of the individual from outside compulsion or coercion; A collectivist perspective, on the other hand, associates liberty with equality across a broader array of societal interests. As such, a collectivist redefines liberty as being connected to the reasonably equitable distribution of wealth, arguing that the unrestrained concentration of wealth (the means of production) into only a few hands negates liberty. In other words, without relatively equal ownership, the subsequent concentration of power and influence into a small portion of the population inevitably results in the domination of the wealthy and the subjugation of the poor. Thus, freedom and material equality are seen as intrinsically connected, a line of thought that finds its home in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. On the other hand, the individualist argues that wealth cannot be evenly distributed without force being used against individuals which reduces individual liberty.

The words liberty and freedom are also mentioned numerous times in both the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

for the love of money

Silver Denarius, Augustus Caesar, 29BC to 14 ADBoth the Hebrew bible (containing common portions of the Jewish and Christian canons) and Christian New Testament have a substantial amount to say about money and finances; evidence that these principles are something God considers important for us to be aware of.

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10 NIV)

φιλαργυρία philargyria: for the love of money (avarice)

ῥίζα rhiza: is a root (that which like a root springs from a root, a sprout, shoot)

πᾶς pas: of all (each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything)

κακός kakos: sorts of evil

  1. of a bad nature
    * not such as it ought to be
  2. of a mode of thinking, feeling, acting
    * base, wrong, wicked
  3. troublesome, injurious, pernicious, destructive, baneful


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Wailing Wall

Jews praying at the Wailing WallThe Wailing Wall (Hebrew: הכותל המערבי HaKotel HaMa'aravi), also The Western Wall or simply The Kotel, is a retaining wall from the time of the Jewish Second Temple of Jerusalem (see also Temple of Herod). It is sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall, or as the al-Buraq Wall, in a mix of English and Arabic. The Temple was the most sacred building in Judaism. Herod the Great built vast retaining walls around Mount Moriah, expanding the small, quasi-natural plateau on which the First and Second Temples stood into the wide open spaces of the Temple Mount seen today.

In recent centuries, Jews were allowed little or no access to the site, such as when Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) ruled over it for 400 years (1515-1917), followed by the British Mandate of Palestine (1917-1948) and the Jordanian rule of Jerusalem (1948-1967).

Only when the Israel Defense Forces won a victory in the 1967 Six-Day War were Jews finally able to gain free access to the site.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Holocaust denial

April 12, 1945: Generals Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and George S. Patton inspect, at Ohrdruf forced labor camp, an improvised crematory pyre.Holocaust denial is the claim that the genocide of Jews during World War II—usually referred to as the Holocaust—did not occur in the manner or to the extent described by current scholarship.

Key elements of this claim are the rejection of any of the following:
  • that the Nazi government had a policy of deliberately targeting Jews and people of Jewish ancestry for extermination as a people;
  • that between five and seven million Jews were systematically killed by the Nazis and their allies; and
  • that genocide was carried out at extermination camps using tools of mass murder, such as gas chambers.
Holocaust deniers do not accept the term "denial" as an appropriate description of their point of view, and use the term Holocaust revisionism instead. Scholars, however, prefer the term "denial" to differentiate Holocaust deniers from historical revisionists, who use established historical methodologies.


Monday, February 02, 2009


Jawaharlal Nehru sitting next to Gandhi at the AICC General Session, 1942.Asceticism (Greek: askēsis) refers to the idea that a higher spiritual and moral state is attainable through the practice of self-denial. It is characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures such as cultivating power, engaging in sexual activity or consumption of alcohol. It is often accompanied with the objective of pursuing religious and spiritual goals.

Some non- Judaeo-Christian religions teach that salvation and liberation involve a process of mind-body transformation that is effected through practicing restraint with respect to actions of body, speech and mind. The founders and earliest practitioners of these religions (e.g. Buddhism, Jainism, the Christian desert fathers) lived extremely austere lifestyles refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth. This is to be understood not as an eschewal of the enjoyment of life but a recognition that spiritual and religious goals are impeded by such indulgence.

Asceticism is closely related to the Christian concept of chastity and might be said to be the technical implementation of the abstract vows of renunciation. Those who practice ascetic lifestyles do not consider their practices as virtuous but pursue such a life-style in order to satisfy certain technical requirements for mind-body transformation. There is remarkable uniformity among the above religions with respect to the benefits of sexual continence. Religions teach that purifying the soul also involves purification of the body which thereby enables connection with the divine and the cultivation of inner peace. In the popular imagination asceticism is considered a sort of perversion (self-flagellation by birch twigs as the archetypal stereotype of self-mortification) but the askēsis enjoined by religion functions in order to bring about greater freedom in various areas of one's life, such as freedom from compulsions and temptations bringing about peacefulness of mind with a concomitant increase in clarity and power of thought.

The adjective "ascetic" derives from the ancient Greek term askesis (practice, training or exercise). Originally associated with any form of disciplined practice, the term ascetic has come to mean anyone who practices a renunciation of worldly pursuits to achieve higher intellectual and spiritual goals.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Founders of Modern Science

Earthrise over the Moon, Apollo 8, NASA. This image helped create awareness of the finiteness of Earth, and the limits of its natural resources.Science (from the Latin scientia, 'knowledge') is a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method, as well as the organized body of knowledge gained through such research. Science as defined here is sometimes termed pure science to differentiate it from applied science, which is the application of scientific research to specific human needs.

The renewal of learning in Europe, that began with 12th century Scholasticism, came to an end about the time of the Black Death, and the initial period of the subsequent Italian Renaissance is sometimes seen as a lull in scientific activity. The Northern Renaissance, on the other hand, showed a decisive shift in focus from Aristoteleian natural philosophy to chemistry and the biological sciences (botany, anatomy, and medicine). Thus modern science in Europe was resumed in a period of great upheaval: the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation; the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus; the Fall of Constantinople; but also the re-discovery of Aristotle during the Scholastic period presaged large social and political changes.

Thus, a suitable environment was created in which it became possible to question scientific doctrine, in much the same way that Martin Luther and John Calvin questioned religious doctrine. The works of Claudius Ptolemaeus (astronomy) and Galen (medicine) were found not always to match everyday observations. Work by Vesalius on human cadavers found problems with the Galenic view of anatomy.

Approximately 1,000 years ago, modern science began to supplant superstition (the commonly held irrational beliefs emerging from ignorance or fear). What follows is a list of some of the "Founders of Modern Science" who were, with the exception of one, of the Christian faith. The links below provide information regarding each person's faith and contributions to humanity.




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