Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stonehenge or Lourdes

CNN reports on the latest scientific findings concerning the enigmatic and fascinating Stonehenge.

Professors Geoffrey Wainwright and Timothy Darvill argued their own explanation for the mysterious monument: Stonehenge, they said, was a kind of primeval Lourdes, drawing prehistoric pilgrims from around Europe.

It seems the stones used at the center of the monument, known as spotted dolomite, were believed to have curative properties. Burial sites nearby contained both bits of the stone along with the remains of handicapped and crippled people. These clues have led the archaeologists to conclude that the shrine was an ancient center of healing. That sounds good to me.

I liked very much what Unremitting Failure had to say about it, though.

Where would you rather go, to Lourdes or Stonehenge? I'd like to visit both.


  1. Stonehenge would be neat to visit. Lourdes would be mind-killingly depressing and frustrating. i can deal with the fact that neolithic people 35 centuries ago were superstitious, delusional, and believed in supernatural miracles; the fact that we still haven't learned better is something i'd rather not rub my nose in.

  2. Dear Nomen, I'm afraid you already did rub your nose into it, wouldn't you say? Does your comment mean that you're an atheist?

    If you'd rather not say, I understand. I'm somewhat reluctant to discuss personal beliefs on a blog. I find them too intimate, whatever they are, to be shared this way. What do you think?

  3. being able to comment on such matters is part of why i'm pseudonymous online, Mike. i'm a strong atheist in the flavor of Richard Dawkins or P.Z. Myers, although sadly i lack the academic qualifications of those two.

    ("strong" atheism: i'm willing to come right out and state i believe there is no such thing as [Gg]od(dess){s,es}, where a "weak" atheist usually sticks with merely stating they have no belief in the existence of such things.

    "agnostics" are folks who believe the matter either is not definitively known, or that it definitively cannot be known. agnosticism does not necessarily imply atheism, although the two can be compatible. agnosticism speculates about knowledge, atheism concerns itself with belief.)

    i don't usually bring that up in face-to-face conversations, certainly not here in the USA, although my partner shares this outlook (we'd not be able to stand each other, otherwise) and most of my social acquaintances think similarly.

  4. Nomen, Thanks for sharing that especially the difference between strong and weak atheists.

    I don't know much about the two you mentioned, but academic credentials or not, I'll bet you could hold your own with the best of them.

    I think it's important to respect people for their beliefs, whatever they may be. Unfortunately, it's often from your atheist compadres that I see a lack of this. They, some of them, often mock believers. The ones who do this love to show off their glib vocabularies. This even happens between believers, for example, Roman Catholics might easily mock the Mormon belief in the angel Moroni and the Golden Tablets all the while not questioning some of their own rather bizarre beliefs.

    My idea is that one should never ridicule the beliefs of others. How do you feel about that?

  5. mock believers? hogwash. we mock belief. it's believers who choose to ignore the difference.

  6. all right, now that i've some more time on my hands i can go into more detail.

    one should never ridicule the beliefs of others? garbage, mike. that's special pleading, it's asking that nothing should ever be questioned, or at least not questioned vigorously if somebody else really wants it to not be questioned; that approach kills critical inquiry. i might agree that one should never ridicule other people's beliefs unless they are ridiculous ones.

    i mean, look at the Flying Spaghetti Monster. now there's a belief system deliberately constructed to be ridiculous. would you try telling me that, if some bunch of people somewhere (how many?) began to earnestly believe that rot, we should not point and laugh at their beliefs? and this presumably just because they earnestly believe it??!!

    or, let's pick a real-world example. transubstantiation. catholics really believe (well, they're officially supposed to!) that a cheap cracker turns into human flesh because a witch doctor mumbles magic words at it. even though there's no way to tell any difference with any real world measuring tools, they really believe (unless they're hypocrites about the tenets of their faith!) that the "important" part of the cracker turns into human flesh.

    oh, and that it's morally acceptable to eat it, regardless. that, in fact, it's not morally acceptable to do anything else with it.

    i mean, is that not a belief tailor-made for rousing ridicule? of course it is! this notion that we shouldn't hurt people's precious fee-fees by laughing at them when they say, do, and believe in obviously laughable things is itself deserving of ridicule.

    if people don't like being mocked, let them stop acting so ridiculously; it isn't all that hard. better yet, let them develop some maturity and self-respect, with which to realize being laughed at will not kill them. best of all, let them understand that their beliefs are ridiculous, and why, and then let them decide to either keep or discard said beliefs with that understanding firmly in mind. but how are they to ever come to any of this development if their insanity is not first pointed out to them?

    nothing should be above criticism; no, not even above ridicule. nothing should ever be held sacred, or considered holy. "sacred" and "holy" are nothing but code words for the phrase "don't laugh at me! i can't deal with laughter! my bully-boy scheme to become high priest falls apart if you laugh at it!". if anything in reality ever actually was "holy" (whatever that word really means --- have you ever seen a non-circular definition of it?) then it could certainly stand up to laughter. if it can't, we need to laugh it down, for our own sakes.

  7. Nomen, You have truly left me speechless. Thanks for the comment.