Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Museum of Hoaxes

01/11/2011

This very large site covers numerous types of hoaxes, including fake photographs, hoax websites, tall-tale animals, publicity stunts, forged documents and books, faked deaths, forged paintings, fake news reports, fictitious people, scams, pseudoscience, fake UFOs, and urban legends.

The section on fictitious people includes an article about Debbie Swenson, a forty year old woman who in 2001 started an online diary in which she pretended to be a nineteen year old girl dying of leukemia. Thousands of people visited her website daily to read the latest entry about her struggle to survive. Concerned people communicated with her by email, chatted with her in online chatrooms, and even phoned her. Finally after more than a year, an entry by her “mother” reported that she had died, causing many people to become distraught. Suspicions began to arise when people wanting to attend her funeral couldn’t find any information about it. The hoax was finally revealed after an extensive investigation.

An article about fake religious relics says that many churches and monasteries still display fake artifacts that were purchased during the Middle Ages. Examples include the milk of the Virgin Mary, the preserved brain of Saint Peter, and pieces of wood from the true cross. The article mentions that three different churches claim to have the skull of Mary Magdalene.

To visit this site, go to Museum of Hoaxes.

Gospel Mysteries Website

09/10/2010

This is a good website for anyone who is interested in exploring mysteries about various events described in the bible. Actually, most of the content is related to events mentioned in the gospels, with very little reference to the Old Testament. Altogether the author examines about thirty topics, including mysteries about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the roles of Judas Iscariot, Mary Magdalene, and the released prisoner Barabbas, lost and missing gospels, the identity of the Beloved Disciple, holy stigmata, the Devil, the atonement, the possible locations of hell, Mary and the virgin birth, demonic possession, the discovery of true cross, the controversial teachings of Jesus, the possible lost ending of Mark, the location of Golgotha, and the Nazarenes.

The article about the devil describes the ancient story of how he was originally an angel in heaven but was thrown out after he led a rebellion against God. Other parts of the article discuss the methods he uses to tempt people, why God gives him the freedom to do evil things, and personal encounters with him. There is also an examination of his temptation of Jesus, the witch hunts, and satanism. I’ve always wondered whether the devil really exists, but the author doesn’t give a definitive answer. To read this article, go to http://www.gospel-mysteries.net/devil-satan.html. Also on the page are some reproductions of paintings which depict Satan’s fall from heaven and the temptation of Jesus on the mountain.

This website also includes a glossary and an opportunity to download a free ebook that contains all of the articles.

Capella’s Guide to Religion

06/05/2010

Although this site calls itself a “guide to atheism”, most of its focus is on problems with religion, especially Christianity. This is reflected in the numerous articles about supposed contradictions in the bible and inconsistencies in the Christian belief system. These articles are grouped into sections with titles such as “Atrocities and deviant behavior by key Bible figures”, “Peculiar Bible verses”, “Problems with common Christian doctrines”, “Recognizing false and illogical arguments”, “Problems with the Bible flood story”, and “The Greek roots of Christianity”.

A special section contains critiques of common arguments that Christians use to support creationism and intelligent design theories. There is also a section about failed prophesies.

At this point I will give a warning about this site, because many Christians will find some parts of it to be offensive. For example, an article called “Was Jesus just another Doomsday Cult Leader?” tries to point out similarities between Jesus and modern cult leaders such as Charles Manson, Jim Jones, and David Koresh. This is obviously wrong, since Jesus was against the use of violence, whereas Manson, Jones, and Koresh caused the deaths of many people.

If, despite my warning, you still want to visit this website, you can find it at Capella’s Guide to Atheism.

Internet Sacred Texts Archive

04/23/2010

The Internet Sacred Texts Archive contains a huge collection of books and articles about religion, mythology, legends, folklore, the occult, and the esoteric. Many of these are public-domain works which anyone can copy and republish, but the main purpose of the site is to provide material for free online reading. Some of the material could also be very useful to scholars or anyone else interested in doing original research. The site is dedicated to religious tolerance, and has the largest readership of any similar site on the web.

The amount of material on the site is truly amazing. It includes full texts (translations) of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the Vedas, Upanishads, and other sacred texts of Hinduism, works of Plato, Aristotle, Virgil, Ovid, Archimedes, as well as hundreds of other ancient writings far too numerous to list. There are also full texts of thousands of works from medieval and moderns times. Obviously not all of these are sacred texts in the strictest sense, but most have some connection to religion, folklore, legend, or mythology.

The site is organized into several dozen sections covering areas such as Alchemy, Atlantis, Australia, Basque, Buddhism, Celtic, Christianity, Confucianism, Egyptian, Gothic, Gnosticism, and many more. It would undoubtedly take years to read all the available books and articles, so for this post I decided to focus on just one: The History of the Devil, by Paul Carus, originally published in 1900 and now in the public domain. The introduction describes it as a “lavishly illustrated” “massive work on the history of evil”. Judging by the table of contents, it includes chapters on subjects such as Devil Worship, Demons, Ancient Egyptian Religions, Persian Beliefs, Israel, Christianity, The Inquisition, Witch Hunts, and others. If you don’t want to read it online, print copies and a CD can be purchased. Maybe someday I’ll find time to read it myself.

To visit this site, go to Internet Sacred Texts Archive