Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Warhammer Game

A friend of mine is about to start up the new version of the Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing Game.  I don't know much about the new system so it will be fun to learn.  I thought I would just post my characters history here.  We had to be from Marienburg and we had to give our character some driving force in their life.  The game master gave us a different history than the canon, so this will be fun.  Here is the history of Torendil Argentpatois Wood Elf Waywatcher:

It has been 8 long years since I lost them.  It has been 8 long years we have had to barricade ourselves from the others.  Everyone is losing hope.   Things were supposed to improve and have instead only gotten worse.  It has been 8 long years of hopelessness, fear and barely surviving.

I was born in the forest.  I have longed to return.  The last 8 years has only made that longing worse.  My parents, Alane and Larandar, were sent here, shortly after I was born, as envoys to the proud humans and our snobbish cousins.  The envoy set up on one of the few uninhabited islands within the deltas of Marienburg.

We set up houses and a community, even raising what little of plant life was there.  I grew up with the trees planted upon our arrival.  They were nothing compared to those that we left behind.  How I long for those giant majestic trees.  My sister was born without ever seeing those trees.

Gallina was born 15 years after our arrival; I was 20 at the time.  There were not many elves close to my age.   Most were either adults or Gallina’s age.  I often got into trouble because I didn’t fit in.  The human children would make fun of me and the young ones only wanted to play baby games.  I once ran afoul of the human authorities.  They beat me and dragged me back to our island.  I was sure my parents would have a word with me over having to obey the humans because we were representatives of the Queen, but instead I was greeted by Ravandil Surefire.  Ravandil was the only real guard we had and the only one we needed.   You never saw him but he saw you.  After the humans left, he seemed to appear out of the shadows near me.

“Torendil, you will never honor the Queen if you continue down this path.”

“Why should I care, we are never going back to the forest.”

“You think the Queen’s eyes are restricted to the forest?  There is much you have to learn.  I can teach you, come back here tonight.”

I came back that night.  Ravandil was a Waywatcher and he wanted to train me as his apprentice.  I am sure my parents wanted me to be diplomat like them but that was never my calling.  I trained every night with Ravandil.  He showed me everything it would take to be a Waywatcher and protector of our home.  I was starting to appreciate our lives here but then everything changed.  That was 8 long years ago.

It started with rumors of some human hero coming to “save” everyone from the current leaders.  They besieged the town and the internal fighting got worse and I had to help Ravandil keep the others out of our community, it took all my training.  I don’t know how long the siege had been going before it happened, the event that changed everything.  Even during the attacks my parents still felt the call of their duty and continued to be envoys to the current leaders.  The explosion could be seen the city over.  My parents and a few of the other elders were in the tower during the explosion.  I learned all of this a few hours after the explosion, Ravandil told me.  I told my sister.

Things went from bad to worse.  I had no time to grieve as the celebrations gave way to food riots.  We had to fight for what little food we could find.  Ravandil was in charge of our island and he decided to secure our borders.  We built barricades to keep the others out.  The only problem was that it kept us in too.  It was up to Ravandil, myself and a few of the other elders to secure our island and gather the food we needed.  This kept us busy and still some of the scum came to steal from us.  We left the heads with arrows in each eye socket just outside the barriers to deter others.  This only worked for so long as the food shortage became worse.  Apparently some of the humans were blaming us for their problems, as if we even cared about them.  There was a large riot that encompassed the entire city.  We fought because that is all we could do.  Keeping the humans out was impossible.  Ravandil forced the young ones and myself into a cellar.  The last thing he said to me was, “Keep them safe.”  We could hear the fighting outside.  I don’t know how long we waited but it was well after the sound of fighting had died away before we came out.  Ravandil and most of the elders were dead.  Most of the houses had been destroyed, a few even burnt down.  The trees were in a similar state to the houses.  I cried but the young ones didn’t understand as they had never seen the forests.  A few elders survived the battle, hurt and the spirit broken.  The riots passed by us and ended a few days later.    From what I can tell, the hero, that came to “save” everyone, was found dead.

I was finally able to mourn the passing of all our brethren, my mentor and my parents.  The city started back like it was before the war, but slowly declined from there.  I decided to keep the barriers around our island up and even fortified them into walls.  We barred ourselves off from the city.  Gallina wanted to take up where our parents left off.  I was reluctant to let her, but finally caved on one condition that I would be her personal bodyguard.  The lords of the city disregarded her, not even granting her an audience.  She was persistent and asked every day.  The lords finally granted her an audience but did not listen to her requests for assistance.  Gallina lost hope that day.  I knew what I must do on that day.  We were not wanted here.  It is time to return to the forest.  My people’s spirit is broken.  It will cost a lot of money for moving and for supplies.  I cannot just muster them all at once but I have been working on it for the better part of these last 8 long years.  Making connections with some of the scum, but I will do whatever it takes to see that my people make it back to the forest.  8 long years have passed and several more years lie ahead but we will walk among the forest again.

Monday, August 9, 2010

TF - Resurrection Time.

It has been awhile, but I am back to working my way through this book.  I am still in Chapter 6 and this section is called Resurrection.  It is a case study in logical fallacies.

He starts off giving a brief overview of the Resurrection story in the bible.  He claims that two Mary's went to the tomb to sprinkle spices on Jesus.  So here is what the Bible has to say:

Matthew 28:1 - After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

So far so good.

Mark 16:1 - When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

Okay the two Mary's came but apparently someone named Salome came also...

Luke 23:52-56 - This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning.  The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

Okay so it is just the women here, no names.

John 20:1 - Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.

Now it was only 1 woman...

Well Mary of Magdalene was possibly in all the stories...

Next Colson says that Mary and Mary were met by two angels, that told them Jesus was risen.  Again going back to the Bible to see what it says:

Matthew 28:2-And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it

Well that only says one angel, maybe "Matthew" just left one out...

Mark 16:5 - As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

Well that doesn't even mention an angel, just a man in white robe and only 1 man...

Luke 24:4 - While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.

Well at least there are two guys here in dazzling clothes, I guess you could assume they are angels and not just two guys coming from a rave...

John 20:1-3 - Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb.

John 20:11-12 - But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

Well here it was two angels but two disciples were present too...

So Colson just mashes these four different stories together and claims it is one continuous perfect story.

The next statement by Colson makes me laugh:

The ugly crucifixion, the most hideous symbol of death and shame ever devised, was converted  in that instant into the holiest of holy symbols.

Well first it took several hundred years before it was considered a real holy symbol (when Emperor Constantine decided to make Christianity the state religion of the Roman empire, for more about Constantine I suggest reading this).  Second I think Eli Roth and James Wan have the cross and crucifixion beat in the most hideous and shameful death devices ever devised.  They are masters of whole movie genre based on torture, shame and painful death.

After that sentence, Colson begins to make his dive into logical fallacy land.

All true Christians believe that Jesus Christ has been bodily raised in victory over death.

We start with a No True Scotsman.  Colson mentions an example of the Anglican Bishop of Durham, who, Colson claims, claimed to doubt the bodily raising of Jesus.  David Jenkins is the Bishop.  David Jenkins is a Christian because he describes himself as such, no matter what Colson says.  That is the thing, whether Colson likes it or not, if someone claims to be Christian then they are a Christian.  I even know a few people that call themselves Christian Atheists.  They are still Christians.

I was in Sri Lanka shortly after his widely publicized statement and was told by an Angelican priest that the Buddhists and Senegalese and Muslims were using the statement to lure believers away from Christianity.

Yet more racism from Colson.  To quote Sesame Street, "One of these things is not like the other things."  Buddhism is a religion.  Islam is a religion.  Senegal is a country in Africa. Apparently there are 0 Christians in Senegal and apparently all Senegalese try to deconvert Christians.  No need for anything like facts to get in the way:

Muslim 94%, Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic), indigenous beliefs 1%

Next Colson contradicts his "All true Christians" statement:

Still, many who call themselves Christians today share Bishop Jenkins's skepticism, embracing the argument that many have made through the centuries that Jesus' followers simply played upon the ancient myths about a god rising from the dead, hid Jesus' body, and the created the Passover Plot.

You know the first time I heard of this plot?  The Bible.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’ So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. - Matthew 27:62-66

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, ‘You must say, “His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.” If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day. - Matthew 28:11-15

Amazing how the pharisees could understand what Jesus was saying when they barely saw him.  Yet, his disciples, whom have been traveling with him everyday, are completely caught off guard by this whole resurrection.

Weird that the authors of the Bible had to insert this...

All the apostles recognized that if the resurrection was not a historic fact, there could and should be no such thing as Christianity.

Option B, making this claim made it seem like what they were saying was more true.  Colson quotes Paul of Tarsus before this.  There are many things I can say about Paul.  Paul seems to have taken over Christianity and determined the path it was to go.  The earliest known writings on Christianity are from Paul, not any of the disciples or even the Gospels.  Paul was the first truly educated person to take up the banner of Christianity.  He claims this because of a vision on the road to Damascus.  Paul had the classic traits of someone with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.  I do not doubt that Paul believed everything he wrote, but belief is not evidence.

Which brings my next point, 'All worshipers of Thor recognized that if lightning was not real, there could and should be no such thing as Thor' or insert your own favorite deity.  Doesn't make as much sense.  Really all it takes is belief that it is true.  Once there is belief then the religion can take off, whether it actually is true or not doesn't matter.

My personal experiences in the Watergate scandal convinces me of the historic proof of the resurrection, as I've written elsewhere.  I was charged with being part of the conspiracy to cover up the Watergate break-in.

He still thinks he did nothing wrong during Watergate.  Colson, you were not just charged but convicted and you plead guilty.  That means you admitted to being part of the cover up. When I mess up, I admit it.  I screwed up at work one time and forgot to change back up tapes.  One of our servers crashed and we didn't have current back ups.  I admitted this was my fault.  Stop using this wishy washy language of 'I was charged'.

What most Watergate buffs have failed to note, however, is that the conspiracy succeeded for less than three weeks.

Yes, he is using a modern conspiracy to try and disprove the idea that the disciples conspired.  Not taking into account that there was far less communication networks then or literate people then.  Colson also somehow ignores the irony of saying things like this:

After all, Christians are rightly concerned that extremists have turned Earth Day into “Worship-Earth Day.”

Just listen to a few of these suggestions for Earth Day 2010 that some of the more radical groups are proposing: taking down “global eco-criminals” like Exxon-Mobil; having school kids meditate about the Spirit of Life (that’s “Spirit of Life” with capital letters); seeking international cooperation on reducing the human population; or working for, and I quote, the “ultimate, inevitable, and necessary dismantling of industrial civilization.”

Or this screed against Global Warming.

So those conspiracies can exist but any kind of conspiracy that happened during a time when most people were illiterate and we didn't have any way of electronically recording anything and no way to spread news really fast and if it goes against Chuck Colson's preconceived notions could not have happened.

The comparison of a conspiracy today to one in First Century CE is apples and oranges.   Also we have a nice example of a conspiracy working just recently in 9/11.  Several fundamentalist Muslims conspired to fly planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House and they succeeded (the US Government didn't do it).

Think of it: the most powerful men around the president of the United States could not keep a lie for three weeks.

Not just the most powerful, but also one of the most scrutinized group of people in the world.  Unlike a small group of fanatics in the mountains of the Middle East.

And you'd have me believe that the twelve apostles - powerless, persecuted, exiled, many martyred, their leader Peter crucified upside down - these common men, gave their lives for a lie, without ever breathing a word to the contrary?
Yep, they sound just like a group of radical Muslims who have done exactly the same. 

As we are seeing with Islamic radicals today, people will die for something they believe to be true; but men will never die for something they know to be false.

I now expect to see a press release saying that Chuck Colson has converted to being a Mormon or a member of Heaven's Gate or just admitting that David Koresh was the second coming of Jesus.  I would even be happy if Colson just said he missed out in Jonestown, among other cults.  All because no one ever dies for something they know not to be true.

Besides the evidence of people dying for something that they would have to know is not true, Colson is also making the assumption that disciples were all martyred.  The earliest known recording of the martyrdom was by Origen in the 3rd Century CE.  We have nothing before that.  How can one be sure that it happened as Origen said?  And not just stories passed down to help legitimize a struggling young religion?  Much like the Bible, it can only be done on faith.  The evidence is just not there.

For two thousand years the historicity of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection has been challenged on many grounds.  But no one has ever produced evidence of the kind that brought President Nixon down - "a smoking gun," that is, evidence that could contradict the biblical account.

Evidence, you are doing it wrong.  No, the burden of proof is on you Colson to prove that the Bible happened as it says, you cannot switch the burden of proof on the negative.  Your example proves that.  It was not up to Nixon to prove he wasn't part of the conspiracy but it was up to the prosecution to prove that he was.  Now your claim is that Jesus, lived, died and rose from the grave.  You have to prove that happened.  You will have a hard time proving that he even lived.

It also has not been challenged for two thousand years.  Most of that time, Christians ran the show and people were tortured and killed if they remotely challenged anything in it, including the idea of the Earth orbiting the Sun.

Is that not evidence of its veracity?

 I was abducted by aliens when I was in college.  Prove it didn't happen.  Is that not evidence of its veracity?

Can you think of any other event in history that has been so thoroughly examined, has not been disproved, and yet some still disbelieve it?

Alien abductees, Muslims, Mormons,  Bigfoot hunters, Loch Ness monster hunters, make that all of Cryptozoology, Zeus, Odin, Hindus, Buddhists, and countless others would like to talk to you.  Unless of course you have found some way to disprove them all.  Shifting the Burden of Proof is a logical fallacy.

The constant eyewitness testimony of the apostles and earliest believers to the reality of Jesus' bodily resurrection, given among those hostile to the claims of Jesus, clearly points to the resurrection as a historical reality.

If you think we have any writings from any direct eye witnesses, you are fooling yourself.  There is none, zip, nada, nothing.  We have people writing at least 30 years after the fact, claiming that they talked to a reliable source, who may or may not have been an eye witness, but won't mention the source by name.   Some even admit to just being made up of the stories being told among Christians (Luke 1:2).

The last bit of this chapter is just an appeal to authority and the authority being the Bible.  Colson just claims that since the Bible says Jesus is in Heaven then he must be in Heaven.  I am still waiting for any other reports of the many prophets that rose from the dead in Jerusalem that Matthew talked about (Matthew 27:52).  I am not holding my breath.

The next Chapter is an attempt to prove that the voting process that created the Nicene Creed and the Athanasius Creed were correct, about the Trinity.