Saturday, December 10, 2011

The real St. Nicholas



One of the beautiful things about Christianity, aside from truth, is the tapestry of culture, tradition and history it brings to our lives. St. Nicholas was a real person, and many of our Christmas traditions derive from him.

Here's a nice article on his life and influence. 

33 comments:

  1. Michael,

    So the earliest and most reliable account of his life comes from about 500 years after his death. Seems to me, that nothing really is known of him besides he was born, became a bishop and then died. Everything else is just legend and myth, a made up story for the gullible and faithful.

    500 years is plenty of time for myths to develop, similar to the way that the legend of the sacking of Troy arose. The truth of that was probably Greek pirates had been raiding Troy off and on, and then on one occasion, they got carried away and burned the city down.

    And then 500 years later, Homer took all the oral stories and set it into written form, including the story of Cassandra, whom you apparently think told false predictions to make a profit. Whereas, she actually had been blessed by Apollo to make accurate predictions, but cursed with having none of them believed, including her warning about the Trojan horse. And when the Greeks took the city through their ruse, she was raped to death.

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  2. Well, at least we know he was born, became a bishop, then died. Jesus on the other hand..

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  3. Fascinating stuff, Dr Egnor.
    The stories surrounding the Saint have long been my family's method by which the children are made aware of certain holiday legends regarding Sleighs and Reindeer.
    Thanks for the post!

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  4. @bach...
    Everything else is just legend and myth, a made up story for the gullible and faithful.

    What about the made up stories, e.g. just-so stories, of AGW and Darwinism? A lot of myths there too!

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  5. A lot of myths there too!

    It is kind of telling that the best you can do to try to "refute" AGW and the theory of evolution by natural selection is to try to compare them to religion. The "worst" insult in your arsenal is to call something religion.

    Proving that you are, in fact, entirely non-self-aware, and an idiot.

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  6. Pepe,

    And the website that Michael links to admits that most of St Nicholas' story is myth and legend. AGW and evolutionary biology aren't made up stories. They're based on evidence and physical facts that anyone with any intelligence (unfortunately, that excludes you) can go and examine.

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  7. @anon...
    <...the theory of evolution...>
    @bach...
    <...evolutionary biology...>

    Can't you two read? I said Darwinism, the blind watchmaker stupid theory!

    As of AGW, please get rid of the A and then we can talk.

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  8. Pepe,

    Evolutionary biology is the correct term. You don't talk of Newtonism or Einsteinism. So why talk of Darwinism? Science has progressed since the time of Newton, Darwin and Einstein.

    Get a brain and we can discuss AGW. You aren't capable of using good arguments, instead obstinately using Monte Hieb's idiotic ones over and over again.

    You're a dill.

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  9. @ Modusoperandi LMAO

    @ Pépé,
    Ah yes! The great 'whatever' and the holy singularity. Without them shit would NOT happen!
    And who could forget the frequently found but STILL missing link... ANY of them.
    Enough hot air to melt an ice cap!
    Hey...maybe Darwinism is the SOURCE of AGW!!!
    Quick...write a tautology! We'll run to the UN and get a grant :P

    @Anonymous,
    It is kind of telling you equate mythology with religion. Shows a lack of depth in your understanding. You might try reading Pépé's comment again.


    Bach,
    "And the website that Michael links to admits that most of St Nicholas' story is myth and legend."
    Myth and legend are two different things. The author of the article looks for truth in the myths and the source of legend. Where is the 'admission' of anything? Perhaps I missed it.

    "AGW and evolutionary biology aren't made up stories. They're based on evidence and physical facts that anyone with any intelligence (unfortunately, that excludes you) can go and examine."
    They are apparently the ONLY objective truths in Bach's universe.
    In truth they are PRETENTIOUS (note Bach's assertion of 'fact' on a non-falsifiable tautology) stories made up in order to force the pieces of an enigmatic puzzle to fit together.

    I also have faith in science, if not of a religious or fanatic nature (as above). I think this AGW junk will be discarded as serious science by the Academe, just as it has been ridden with of past fetishes. Perhaps then a real or more functional climate science will emerge?
    Atheism will look for other excuses to prove futility is the one true God when this Neo-Darwinian farce has finally been laughed off stage.
    I can only guess what twisted shape that will take.
    A guess? See below.

    @All,
    Well....If Father Christmas creates this kind of dissonance in the Atheist set, one can only imagine what will happen if life is discovered on another world, say Mars or a Jovian moon, and it fits the same DESIGN patterns and functions as Terrestrial life. All signs so far indicate exactly that.
    Witness the controversy with the Antarctic/Martian bacterial samples. They MUST argue pan-spermia at that point - otherwise there could be a concession of theory of teleological BLUEPRINT for ALL life as we know it. An actual cosmology would be required! Hawking's gravity God will no cut it (a real tragic irony in that theory).
    So my guess is a leap from Darwinism to Pan-spermia in the ABG camp...then maybe DIRECTED panspermia once the sample pool increases to include impossible, simultaneousness, and unlikely connections.
    This is a future the futurists refuse to consider.

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  10. @bach

    So why talk of Darwinism?

    Simply because Darwinism is a religion created by Darwin. You need faith and only faith to accept that random mutations and blind selection can create complex, organized and purposeful life.

    The laws of nature discovered by Newton and Einstein are used daily and have been fully demonstrated. As for evolution, give me just one instance where a new organ was created by the Darwinian process.

    The most inane statement I ever heard is this one:
    Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.
    Thanks to Richard Dawkins a.k.a Dickie-Dawk!

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  11. @crusadeREX

    You've hit the bullseye!

    I sometime wonder why we care to answer these lame comments.

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  12. CrusadeRex,

    Well, AGW isn't all there is to climate science, which is a mature science, existing since the 1830s when Agassiz realized that several glaciations had happened in the past to explain the otherwise inexplicable moraines stretching across Europe and North America.

    AGW is based on logic. I've listed the logic on many posts and challenged it to be disproved, but Pepe is the only one who 'tried', using Monte Hieb's bogus one of considering only CO2 inputs into the atmosphere.

    Actually we would love for life to be discovered elsewhere in the Universe, particularly intelligent life. Life on Mars still hasn't been confirmed though. That's what the current unmanned mission to Mars is attempting to ascertain.

    Although there need to have two points made. If life on Mars is similar to that on Earth it doesn't mean much. Also, if it's completely different, again it doesn't mean much. Basically, I'm saying that life on Mars doesn't add anything to the design hypothesis.

    Mars is further out from the Sun than the Earth. So life on Earth could have spread from the Earth to Mars. This would happen as meteorites impact the Earth throwing up dust and water contaminated with bacteria into the upper atmosphere, where the bacteria are dry frozen. And then the solar wind blows them away from the Sun, with some of them impacting Mars, where they start growing again, if they find the right conditions.

    We don't know the full range of life on Earth. There are bacteria living and growing in Earth rock kilometres beneath the Earth's surface (extremophiles to put it mildly). Exobiologists are looking at the Earth to discover 'alien' life.

    So if life on Mars if discovered is similar to than on Earth, it COULD have come from the Earth. If its completely different, then it COULD have also come from the Earth because we haven't determined the full range of life on Earth.

    However, finding life on an extrasolar planet would be much more significant. Pangenesis, although still possible, would be much more unlikely, although we'd still need to go there (extremely unlikely to ever happen) to determine whether it was similar life.

    ETI though would be a major blow to the monotheistic religions, particularly Christianity. How would you be able to justify your belief in a personal god who had himself sacrificed to himself to atone for all past, present and future sins, including Original Sin (which didn't happen anyway), if he also created green bug-eyed aliens on Kepler 22-b?

    Although, I doubt if SETI will have any success. We assume that any ETI would be similar to humans. If so, and they're like us, then they would be doing a lot of LISTENING and virtually no TALKING. To set up a METI program (sending powerful directed radio signals to selected promising candidate stars, instead of relying on the leakage of low energy radio or TV signals) would cost around a billion dollars and several hundred million dollars per year, which won't be done anytime soon.

    For example, if Kepler 22b were a candidate for ETI, it would take 1,200 years to get an answer. If ETI were there and they sent a signal 600 years ago, then we could be getting a message tomorrow. Both extremely unlikely.

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  13. Pepe,

    Name one organ created by evolutionary processes? How about the cecal valves in the transplanted lizards to Pod Mrcaru in the Adriatic after just 20 years?

    'Newtonism' was a religion according to your definition. Newton couldn't work out how the planets could remain in stable orbits, so he ascribed one of God's actions to be continually nudging the planets back into position. Laplace in 1802, the same year that Paley invented your 'science' of ID, removed the need for god to do this function in a 5 volume work.

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  14. @bach:

    [ETI though would be a major blow to the monotheistic religions, particularly Christianity. How would you be able to justify your belief in a personal god who had himself sacrificed to himself to atone for all past, present and future sins, including Original Sin (which didn't happen anyway), if he also created green bug-eyed aliens on Kepler 22-b?]

    I'm not aware of any argument in favor of God's existence or of Christ's divinity that is predicated on the non-existence of ETI.

    I do understand that, after the astonishingly accurate (for an ancient text) description of the Big Band in Genesis, atheists are hoping for some astronomical discovery that will for once support their cosmology.

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  15. @bach...
    How about the cecal valves in the transplanted lizards to Pod Mrcaru in the Adriatic after just 20 years?

    The lizard’s cecal valves, muscles between the large and small intestine, have always been there. Since the transplanted lizards had to adapt to a vegetarian diet, those with larger muscles had an adaptation advantage. This is similar to the Galapagos finches developing larger beaks during drought because of harder seed shells. Chances are that returning these lizards to their original island, their cecal valves would dwindle as the lizards returned to an insectivorous diet.

    So this is no new organ. As always, Darwinists commit the same lame mistake of extrapolation macro-evolution from micro-evolution, e.g. normal adaptation by species within the bounds of their genome.

    For a Darwinian process to develop a new organ would require that process to reprogram the genome. Programming implies intent and purpose which a Darwinian process does not have.

    So no can do!

    BTW, I never heard of Newtonism until you wrote about it.

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  16. @bach...
    ETI though would be a major blow to the monotheistic religions, particularly Christianity...

    Your ignorance of what Christianity is and stands for is truly abyssal! Stop embarrassing yourself.

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  17. "I do understand that, after the astonishingly accurate (for an ancient text) description of the Big Band in Genesis"

    Hahaha

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  18. Isaiah 28:28: "cart"

    An astonishingly accurate (for an ancient text) description of the Space Shuttle.

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  19. Michael,

    'Im not aware ...'

    The second accurate statement you've made that I'm aware of to go along with you calling climate scientists 'Cassandras'. Cassandra made accurate predictions, was disbelieved and got raped to death for her pains. So calling climate scientists Cassandras, you're admitting that they're right and you're denying that.

    ETIs do bother some Christians, who have to reconcile their belief in an Apocalypse, in which the Earth and Universe are destroyed and replaced with a new Universe for the benefit of the 'Saved'. Of course, you could do a post hoc argument if an ETI is ever discovered, by discarding the Apocalypse, but that was done thousands of years ago with the failed predictions of Jesus and Paul, who'd said that there would be some still living who wouldn't know death before the Second Coming.

    Pepe,

    The cecal valve is a new structure in that lizard. What would you want to define as a new organ? An organ for ESP? Wings or gills in a lizard? Actually, some lizards have membranes which allow them to glide, similar to some snakes.

    New functions developing in human time worries anti evolutionists. Schlafly of Conservapedia 'fame' was so worried by Lenski's E coli developing citrate metabolism in his experiment that he wanted to be given samples of the E coli to test them for himself.

    'Newtonism' is of course a neologism similar to 'Darwinism' and Paleyism'. If I don't mind being called a Darwinist (which I consider to mean that I think that everything is produced by physical means) then you shouldn't mind being called a Paleyist who thinks that some things are poofed into existence by the ineffable.

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  20. Michael,

    Also, your Catholic Church burned Bruno at the stake in 1600 for claiming that stars were suns similar to our Sun, and that they could have planets with intelligent life.

    As I've said, you could do a post hoc argument if an ETI is ever discovered, but you'd be just telling a story. The early Christian cosmology (with heaven above and he'll below) had to be abandoned too when faced with the ugly facts.

    The Big Bang described in Genesis? Now you are farking crazy ...

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  21. @bach...
    The cecal valve is a new structure in that lizard...

    No it's not! An adaptation of what's already there is called micro-evolution and everybody agrees on that. Since you seem to like playing with words, give me a clear example of macro-evolution, the creation of an entirely new organ or species.

    Darwinist (which I consider to mean that I think that everything is produced by physical means)

    You forgot to say that a Darwinist believes that everything that exists poofed into existence, as you say, mindlessly and without any purpose. That is so illogical!

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  22. "...your Catholic Church burned Bruno at the stake in 1600 for claiming that stars were suns similar to our Sun, and that they could have planets with intelligent life."

    I don't think that was why Bruno was burned at the stake.

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  23. "Well, at least we know he was born, became a bishop, then died. Jesus on the other hand.."

    I hope you are not suggesting that there is not enough evidence to conclude Jesus existed because if that is the case, then I would have to conclude that you are an ignoramus.

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  24. Pepe,

    You're still an idiot.

    Actually, a new organ developing in a species in human time would disprove evolution, not prove it.

    You should be out trying to find an example of what you claim evolutionary biology 'predicts', because it doesn't.

    Evolution predicts that change is slow and progressive. IDiots get exited over their misunderstanding of Gould's punctuated equilibrium and the Cambrian explosion, which occurred over tens of millions of years, even going to the extent of making a video 'Darwin's Dilemma' about it.

    'Darwin's Dilemma' was part produced by Paul Nelson, a you g earth creationist who thinks the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    O'Brien,

    Bruno was only partly burned at the stake for saying that the stars were other suns, and that they could have planets with intelligent life. He was also found guilty of heresy, so perhaps he wasn't so upset at being done in ....

    What's the difference between an old atheist and a new atheist? A new atheist is one that the Catholic Church can no longer legally burn at the stake.

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  25. @bach:

    [Also, your Catholic Church burned Bruno at the stake in 1600 for claiming that stars were suns similar to our Sun, and that they could have planets with intelligent life.]

    Bruno was burned at the stake by secular authorities for heresy. The Inquisition did not and could not impose the death penalty. Secular authorities did that. People accused of heresy often requested to be tried by the Inquisition rather than by the secular authorities, because the penalties of the Church were much lighter.

    [As I've said, you could do a post hoc argument if an ETI is ever discovered, but you'd be just telling a story. The early Christian cosmology (with heaven above and he'll below) had to be abandoned too when faced with the ugly facts.]

    Heaven and hell are supernatural, and do not have a location relative to the earth. The traditional notion of "up" for heaven and "down" for hell has never been Church teaching, but merely a metaphor.

    [The Big Bang described in Genesis? Now you are farking crazy ...]

    Cite for me the atheist or secular references that asserted a moment of beginning of the universe that consisted of a burst of energy (light) prior to Hubble's discovery.

    The accuracy of Genesis is astonishing.

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  26. @bach:

    [What's the difference between an old atheist and a new atheist? A new atheist is one that the Catholic Church can no longer legally burn at the stake.]

    How many atheists were burned at the stake by the Church? Can you name any of them?

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  27. Michael,

    Now you're talking bullshit. Reread Genesis and quote the verse that indicates the Big Bang.

    There wasn't any light till 300,000 years after the Big Bang, till the temperature to have dropped sufficiently for electrons to join to nuclei to allow free transit of photons.

    Science doesn't claim to have all the answers or even know the relevant questions immediately. But you're claiming that Genesis has an accurate account of the Big Bang by revelation? Bullshit.

    It was actually thought that the Universe consisted just of the Milky Way Galaxy, albeit 300,000 light years across, till the early 1920s. That galaxies such as Andromeda were just clouds within our galaxy and not actually 2.5 million light years away. The true size of the Universe only became apparent with better technology. It's not something that can be ascertained by pure thought.

    And the current cosmology fits very nicely with an atheist viewpoint. Enormously large and old. We don't know what initiated the Big Bang, but then again, neither do you.

    The Inquisition handed their victims, after they'd tortured a confession out of them, to the civil authorities for them to perform the execution. Their victims must have been relieved.

    You're still farking crazy.

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  28. @bach...

    How about the cecal valves in the transplanted lizards to Pod Mrcaru in the Adriatic after just 20 years?
    Evolution predicts that change is slow and progressive.

    A bit mixed up in your thesis, aren't you? You should make up your mind...

    You're still an idiot.

    When you use insults for an argument, I know I have gotten the best of you and won the game.

    Thank you.

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  29. Pepe,

    Cecal valves in 20 years in small transplanted populations is the sort of change one would expect from evolution. A major change, like the development of a new organ such as a fully formed eye, would exclude evolution.

    Telling you that you're an idiot isn't an argument. It's just noting an absolute fact. You are an idiot.

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  30. @bachfiend

    Atheists are really a sorry bunch and you, bachfiend, are their king. You are so full of yourself you are busting at the seams!

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  31. Pepe,

    You're still an idiot and I'm not a king.

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  32. Pepe and Bachfiend,
    You two are so cute together!

    Its funny, this blog. Every discussion in the comments end up totally different from the initial post! This one went from St. Nicholas to cecal valves in lizards.

    Egnor doesnt even need to post a topic. Very entertaining stuff..

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