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    #76
    Originally posted by Nefertiti2 View Post
    What if I’m using A4...?
    7.251 microns x 10.254 microns

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      #77
      Evolution producing the human brain through purely random mutations that are naturally selected is an amazing thing and you can see how religious fundamentalists can convince themselves it couldn't happen, but it is clearly the only plausible theory we have.

      The speed with which Christianity spread across Asia Minor and Europe is awesome given the slender evidence in its favour. Why not just keep believing the myths that were already in the culture? OTOH the depth of faith I see when I visit Greece is rather humbling and can make me feel ashamed of my cynicism, until I remember what religion does in the US.

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        #78
        Originally posted by Patrick Thistle View Post
        The millions of years between dinosaur species thing that we've done before. T Rex living closer in time to the building of the Giza pyramid than to the stegosaurus species.

        Also, more recently, Cleopatra living nearer in time to the invention of the iPhone than the building of the Giza pyramid.

        There was a previous thread about this and it all really stuck with me.
        Indeed - most people have no real concept of the sheer scales involved here, thinking of dinosaurs' time on Earth as though it was over in a flash, rather than 150-180 million years.

        And the history of life on this planet before the earliest of them emerged obviously completely dwarfs even that.

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          #79
          Sod the millions thing - Betelguese has dimmed from the fifth brightest star in the night sky to the 21st (I think). There is some idle specualtion that it could have gone supernova as it is about due. And the tense thing is tricky, because it might have exploded 700 years ago and we're only just getting to notice. Or it could have done so 500 years ago and no-one on this planet will be alive to see it.

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            #80
            Eleventh-brightest I believe - but I thought that Betelgeuse wasn't due to go supernova for another thousand centuries?

            But things tend to go a bit AWOL once you bring the solar system and beyond into the equation.

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              #81
              Originally posted by Satchmo Distel View Post

              The speed with which Christianity spread across Asia Minor and Europe is awesome given the slender evidence in its favour. Why not just keep believing the myths that were already in the culture?
              That's actually been overstated. When Constantine ascended the throne less than 10% of the Empire were Christians and paganism survived for several subsequent "Christian Emperors".

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                #82
                tbf, Constantine himself didn't get baptised until he was close to death, according to the stories.

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                  #83
                  Originally posted by Patrick Thistle View Post

                  That's actually been overstated. When Constantine ascended the throne less than 10% of the Empire were Christians and paganism survived for several subsequent "Christian Emperors".
                  Yes, they were still nailing Christians to things as late as the 14th century in Lithuania, and many christian communities before the middle ages remained either in ghettos or in some of the most remote or hilltop parts of their regions. The conversion to Christianity in Western Europe was really a very gradual rebadging over centuries of the Empire's old pagan rituals and festivals like Saturnalia and Oestre into the ones we celebrate today, as the actual Empire became the Holy Roman Empire and became more Germanic than Latin after the fall of Rome. The Roman Gods themselves, of course, fell out of favour as Rome itself had fallen, and their emperors abandoned them so they were seen as having failed. Having only one new god to worship and, importantly, pay tribute to at the temple, was a much better money-generating wheeze for the people who owned the temples than the old one.
                  Last edited by Rogin the Armchair fan; 11-02-2020, 11:55.

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                    #84
                    Originally posted by TonTon View Post
                    tbf, Constantine himself didn't get baptised until he was close to death, according to the stories.
                    Well that was a sin dodge thing to get out of being good. He saw the potential of a global super religion allied to state power.

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                      #85
                      Indeed. Hideous man.

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                        #86
                        I'm reading a book about him at the moment. He saw himself as the saviour of humanity and establishing the church as the official religion was part of that.

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                          #87
                          There's no real evidence about the old pagan festivals being rebadged.

                          https://mobile.twitter.com/VoxHib. This guy is very good on how there's only very tenuous evidence of "pagan" ritual surviving in Christian form.
                          Last edited by Lang Spoon; 11-02-2020, 22:15.

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                            #88
                            You think the Roman midwinter festival and feasting of Saturnalia, and the later Germanic pagan traditions of feasting and bringing trees and holly into houses and decorating them with lights and gifts, present no evidence of a link to our Christmas festivities?

                            I'll buy you a new Occam's razor next, er, "Christmas".

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                              #89
                              25 December was Mithras's birthday and the Christians definitely deliberately chose it as the date to celebrate Christ's birth.

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                                #90
                                No. That idea has largely been discredited, but it gets passed around by people who think we're all idiots, even though it really doesn't have anything to do with anything.

                                https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...-surprise-you/

                                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithra...belief_systems

                                Another hypothesis is that it was widely believed/accepted that great figures were conceived on the same day they died. The story has Jesus dying around Passover, so if he was conceived then, he would be born in December or January.
                                Last edited by Hot Pepsi; 11-02-2020, 13:59.

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                                  #91
                                  Originally posted by Rogin the Armchair fan View Post
                                  You think the Roman midwinter festival and feasting of Saturnalia, and the later Germanic pagan traditions of feasting and bringing trees and holly into houses and decorating them with lights and gifts, present no evidence of a link to our Christmas festivities?

                                  I'll buy you a new Occam's razor next, er, "Christmas".
                                  All of those symbols didn't get attached to Christmas until fairly recently. The observance of Christmas predates Christianity moving into those northern European cultures.

                                  It's unlikely that Christmas would be such a big deal if it weren't in the middle of winter, but that doesn't mean that's why it is when it is.

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                                    #92
                                    What is the reason for choosing 25 December for Christmas?

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                                      #93
                                      I just linked a WaPo article that tries to explain it.

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                                        #94
                                        Is everyone registered on WaPo, or is there some workaround I don't know about? I always click the link, and then close it when the wall appears.

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                                          #95
                                          Here you go (I subscribe)

                                          Christmas is on Dec. 25, but it wasn’t always.

                                          Dec. 25 is not the date mentioned in the Bible as the day of Jesus’s birth; the Bible is actually silent on the day or the time of year when Mary was said to have given birth to him in Bethlehem. The earliest Christians did not celebrate his birth.

                                          As a result, there are a number of different accounts as to how and when Dec. 25 became known as Jesus’s birthday.

                                          By most accounts, the birth was first thought — in around 200 A.D. — to have taken place on Jan. 6. Why? Nobody knows, but it may have been the result of “a calculation based on an assumed date of crucifixion of April 6 coupled with the ancient belief that prophets died on the same day as their conception,” according to religionfacts.com. By the mid-fourth century, the birthday celebration had been moved to Dec. 25. Who made the decision? Some accounts say it was the pope; others say it wasn’t.

                                          One of the prevalent theories on why Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25 was spelled out in “The Golden Bough,” a highly influential 19th-century comparative study of religion and mythology written by the anthropologist James George Frazer and originally published in 1890. (The first edition was titled “The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion”; the second edition was called “The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion.” By the third printing, in the early 20th century, it was published in 12 volumes, though there are abridged one-volume versions.)

                                          Frazer approached the topic of religion from a cultural — not theological — perspective, and he linked the dating of Christmas to earlier pagan rituals. Here’s what the 1922 edition of the “The Golden Bough” says about the origins of Christmas, as published on Bartleby.com:

                                          An instructive relic of the long struggle is preserved in our festival of Christmas, which the Church seems to have borrowed directly from its heathen rival. In the Julian calendar the twenty-fifth of December was reckoned the winter solstice, and it was regarded as the Nativity of the Sun, because the day begins to lengthen and the power of the sun to increase from that turning-point of the year. The ritual of the nativity, as it appears to have been celebrated in Syria and Egypt, was remarkable. The celebrants retired into certain inner shrines, from which at midnight they issued with a loud cry, “The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing!” The Egyptians even represented the new-born sun by the image of an infant which on his birthday, the winter solstice, they brought forth and exhibited to his worshippers. No doubt the Virgin who thus conceived and bore a son on the twenty-fifth of December was the great Oriental goddess whom the Semites called the Heavenly Virgin or simply the Heavenly Goddess; in Semitic lands she was a form of Astarte. Now Mithra was regularly identified by his worshippers with the Sun, the Unconquered Sun, as they called him; hence his nativity also fell on the twenty-fifth of December. The Gospels say nothing as to the day of Christ’s birth, and accordingly the early Church did not celebrate it. In time, however, the Christians of Egypt came to regard the sixth of January as the date of the Nativity, and the custom of commemorating the birth of the Saviour on that day gradually spread until by the fourth century it was universally established in the East. But at the end of the third or the beginning of the fourth century the Western Church, which had never recognised the sixth of January as the day of the Nativity, adopted the twenty-fifth of December as the true date, and in time its decision was accepted also by the Eastern Church. At Antioch the change was not introduced till about the year 375 A.D.


                                          ​​​​​​What considerations led the ecclesiastical authorities to institute the festival of Christmas? The motives for the innovation are stated with great frankness by a Syrian writer, himself a Christian. “The reason,” he tells us, “why the fathers transferred the celebration of the sixth of January to the twenty-fifth of December was this. It was a custom of the heathen to celebrate on the same twenty-fifth of December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and festivities the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day and the festival of the Epiphany on the sixth of January. Accordingly, along with this custom, the practice has prevailed of kindling fires till the sixth.” The heathen origin of Christmas is plainly hinted at, if not tacitly admitted, by Augustine when he exhorts his Christian brethren not to celebrate that solemn day like the heathen on account of the sun, but on account of him who made the sun. In like manner Leo the Great rebuked the pestilent belief that Christmas was solemnised because of the birth of the new sun, as it was called, and not because of the nativity of Christ.
                                          Thus it appears that the Christian Church chose to celebrate the birthday of its Founder on the twenty-fifth of December in order to transfer the devotion of the heathen from the Sun to him who was called the Sun of Righteousness….
                                          Yet an account titled “How December 25 Became Christmas” on the Biblical Archaeology Society’s Web site takes some issue with this theory:

                                          Despite its popularity today, this theory of Christmas’s origins has its problems. It is not found in any ancient Christian writings, for one thing. Christian authors of the time do note a connection between the solstice and Jesus’ birth: The church father Ambrose (c. 339–397), for example, described Christ as the true sun, who outshone the fallen gods of the old order. But early Christian writers never hint at any recent calendrical engineering; they clearly don’t think the date was chosen by the church. Rather they see the coincidence as a providential sign, as natural proof that God had selected Jesus over the false pagan gods.

                                          Furthermore, it says, the first mentions of a date for Christmas, around 200 A.D., were made at a time when “Christians were not borrowing heavily from pagan traditions of such an obvious character.” It was in the 12th century, it says, that the first link between the date of Jesus’s birth and pagan feasts was made.

                                          It says in part:

                                          Clearly there was great uncertainty, but also a considerable amount of interest, in dating Jesus’ birth in the late second century. By the fourth century, however, we find references to two dates that were widely recognized — and now also celebrated — as Jesus’ birthday: December 25 in the western Roman Empire and January 6 in the East (especially in Egypt and Asia Minor). The modern Armenian church continues to celebrate Christmas on January 6; for most Christians, however, December 25 would prevail, while January 6 eventually came to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas.

                                          The earliest mention of December 25 as Jesus’ birthday comes from a mid-fourth-century Roman almanac that lists the death dates of various Christian bishops and martyrs. The first date listed, December 25, is marked: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae: “Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea … ” So, almost 300 years after Jesus was born, we finally find people observing his birth in mid-winter.”

                                          Bottom line: Nobody knows for sure why Dec. 25 is celebrated as Christmas.

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                                            #96
                                            Thanks.

                                            As far as I can see, that doesn't rule out the cultural explanation, or provide an alternative.
                                            Last edited by TonTon; 11-02-2020, 15:16.

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                                              #97
                                              Yeah, the 25th works for most people because they're already off school and work for Christmas break.

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                                                #98
                                                Originally posted by TonTon View Post
                                                Thanks.

                                                As far as I can see, that doesn't rule out the cultural explanation, or provide an alternative.
                                                Same here, though it does support a Scots verdict of Not Proven

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                                                  #99
                                                  Originally posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
                                                  No. That idea has largely been discredited, but it gets passed around by people who think we're all idiots, even though it really doesn't have anything to do with anything.

                                                  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...-surprise-you/

                                                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithra...belief_systems

                                                  Another hypothesis is that it was widely believed/accepted that great figures were conceived on the same day they died. The story has Jesus dying around Passover, so if he was conceived then, he would be born in December or January.
                                                  If you'd read that Wikipedia article, one person disputes that 25 December being Mithras's birthday. Mithras was identified with Sol Invictus so the 25 December was regarded as Mithras's birthday as it was also the sun's birthday. The WaPo article cites an early Christian writer claiming exactly that.

                                                  Mithraism is really interesting - I just finished reading Manfred Clauss's* book about it (which is the university textbook on it).

                                                  The 6 January was another god's birthday and may be why Jesus's birthday was situated there originally (and still is in the Orthodox world)


                                                  * no relation to Santa

                                                  Comment


                                                    Originally posted by Patrick Thistle View Post


                                                    The 6 January was another god's birthday and may be why Jesus's birthday was situated there originally (and still is in the Orthodox world)

                                                    And is still the main gift-giving day in Spain.

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