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Tag Archives: government
Posted: at 3:56 pm
Why settle for a house when you can have a nation of your own? These Micronations are not just tiny, they’re also weird! 1 The Kingdom of Talossa: created by a 14-Year-Old All hail the Boy King!
On December 26, 1979 from his bedroom in Milwaukee Wisconsin, 14-year-old Robert Ben Madison declared it a separate country called Talossa and appointed himself King. While this proclamation has never been recognized by any Government, Talossa is considered one of the first micronations, inspiring many copycats. Madison/Talossa was tech-savvy enough to have its own website since 1995. It now boasts 222 citizens (you can become one here.)
This peaceful Kingdom is not without internal strife in 2004 a group seceded, forming the Republic of Talossa. However, in 2012 the country was made whole again. (Source 1 | Source 2)
The Province of Bumbunga is yet another tiny breakaway region from a First World country in this case, Australia. It was founded March 29, 1976 by Alex Brackstone, a former monkey-trainer and British Crown loyalist who did not like how Australia was turning against the monarchy. He created Bumbunga on his 4 hectare property and named himself Governor, so at least a small part of the country would still be loyal to the British Throne. He tried to create a giant model of Great Britain out of strawberry patches, but they ended up dying in a drought.
Bumbunga also issued a series of stamps with British royalty; these cannot be used to actually mail anything but became a collector’s item amongst nerds. (Source)
On June 2, 1996, the tiny country of Ladonia was founded by artist Lars Vilks in a nature reserve in southern Sweden because of a legal dispute over his art. In 1980, he had built a 70-ton driftwood sculpture entitled Nimis in this remote region accessible only by water or a long hike. When the authorities finally discovered it, they ordered it destroyed and a years-long battle in the courts ensued. After losing his last appeal, Vilks created the country of Ladonia, which he says trades only in creative expression. There is a queen and crown princess as well as ambassadors and ministers and its official language only has two words: waaaall and p (although it’s unclear what they mean). Anyone can apply to be a citizen here as Ladonia claims all its people are nomads. (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)
The inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen, owns this tiny island just off Long Island, New York (and north of South Dumpling Island). Like many micronations on this list, it was started because of a dispute with government authorities about building something without permission in this case it was a wind turbine. Kamen seceded and established his own one-man nation with flag, navy, currency, and even its own anthem written by Broadway director Paul Lazarus, who is also the nation’s Ministry of Brunch. He even got his friend President George H.W. Bush to sign a non-aggression pact. While this is the folly of a very rich, well connected person, he claims his busy life offers no time to relax and this lets him unwind. Why not just take a ride along a trail on a Segway instead? (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)
On October 20, 2008, at 11:30 am British Standard Time, another 14-year-old boy (see #1) declared a tiny nation within a bigger country’s borders; in this case it was Jonathan Austen declaring his father Terry Emperor and himself Crown prince of Austenasia, located within the confines of their London flat. The country is run as a constitutional monarchy and has expanded to 5 territories in the nearby area. They are very serious about their endeavor (they claim Articles 1 and 3 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention allow them to declare their sovereignty) and have created dozens of Acts of Parliament. You can become an “honorary subject” here. They say you can visit their country as long as they are contacted beforehand. The website asks just don’t turn up. (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)
How to start your own micronation in 9 easy steps!
1. Be very rich or very young 2. Be an artist and/or a little bit crazy 3. Give the country a funny name and yourself a ridiculous title 4. Write a declaration, cite Article 1 and 3 of Montevideo Convention 5. Try and get your president friend to sign a non-aggression pact 6. Set up a website and offer free citizenship 7. Mint your own coins or stamps 8. Prepare to be thrown in jail or taken to court for doing #7 9. If micronation is larger than 1 person, prepare for civil war or coup
Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:24 am
On Monday June 27th, the Libertarian Party of Illinois turned in 53,000 signatures on 4,500 pages. More than twice the required amount for third parties and more than 10 times what is required of a Republican or Democrat in Illinois. As of Tuesday, July 5th, the window for issuing a challenge has officially closed meaning we are on the ballot this November!
Some interesting statistics:
These are more than interesting facts, they represent the lengths (no pun intended) that we as a party must go to in order to secure our place on the ballot. A place we must fight tooth and nail for every single time because the entrenched powers that be make the rules that keep them in power. This year, people are waking up to the options that are out there. The only reason we are on the ballot is the hard work and dedication of volunteers who sacrificed time, money, sleep, and nights better spent with family to make the future a better place for them. The volunteers who came from out of state on their own who collected. The donors who reached into their wallets to fund the work of petitioners. The crew who drove down on the last weekend to bind and validate the last push of petitions. The endless phone calls fielded by our long-suffering ballot access director and state chair. We couldn’t have gotten there without you!
The 2016 campaign season is now in full swing! Visit our campaign page to meet the Libertarians who are seeking election.
Libertarians are traversing the state, looking to meet you. As supporters of the smallest minority: The Individual, we have been looking to touch base with as many of Illinois citizens as possible, from the Shawnee to Chicago.
The message we are sharing says: Enough of the establishments robbing Peter to pay Paul. We need to get the government out of the business of playing one group of people against another. It is time for policies of peace that protect every individuals rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Libertarian Party is the third-largest and fastestgrowing political party in America. There are libertarian chapters in all 50 states and currently over 140 elected Libertarian officials six of them right here in Illinois.
Americans want, and deserve, a political system which respects them as unique individuals, as people who can make their own plans, who take responsibility for themselves, who are compassionate, and who can generally solve their own problems.
Libertarians are practical we know we cant make the world perfect but it can be a lot better.
The Libertarian Party is the only political party that is working to dramatically reduce unrestrained government spending, taxes, debt, regulations, bureaucracies, and wars, both foreign and domestic.
Illinois has the largest pension liability, the worst credit rating, and the most units of government in all the 50 states.
The states foreclosure and unemployment rates are consistently among the worst in the nation.
Meanwhile, establishment politicians make time to control your life, banning incandescent light bulbs and worrying about e-cigarettes and big gulps.
Its time for a change in Illinois politics.
We believe Illinois is ready for a fresh approach. If you do:
Contact us and let us know what interests you about liberty
A fire cannot burn without fuel.
Likewise, nothing happens in the world of politics without money.
Click below to donate an amount of your choosing. Every donation is very much appreciated.
If you wish to make a monthly pledge, visit our donate page for more options.
The next election season is coming up in 2016. We are currently accepting and reviewing candidate applications.
The most recent round of elections were held for municipal offices in April 2015. To see current Illinois Libertarians, visit our candidate page.
If you think that people have the right to control their own lives as long as they do not initiate the use of force or fraud against others, you are a Libertarian.
Join the Party.
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Posted: July 14, 2016 at 4:35 pm
There is a smell of defeatism in the air, a widespread view that the people have spoken and that we must respect them and accept their verdict. What nonsense! There is nothing sacred about a referendum vote, any more than the result of a General Election. We Lib Dems cannot accept Brexit because it would be a calamity that would undo everything we have always fought for. Furthermore reversing Brexit is not a hopeless cause.
When the time is right, there is every justification for a new referendum. A referendum must offer a clear choice, which the last did not. When Theresa May says Brexit means Brexit, what does Brexit mean? Some Leavers want no more free movement of labour, which means no access to the single market. Others want access, which means the free movement of labour must stay. Indeed with only a very tiny margin in favour of Leave, far more votes were cast for Remain than for each of these two incompatible objectives of the Leave Camps.
A re-run is especially justified if there is a dramatic change in circumstances, such as a massive shift in public opinion. This is very likely. Most economists and every independent expert organization, the IMF, the IFS and the Bank of England, predict a serious recession. Leavers promised a future in the sunny uplands, and lots of new money for the NHS, not more austerity and severe cuts in spending. Now they may be ringing their bells, but soon they will be wringing their hands.
Finally the report from The Committee of Climate Change on fracking has been released and produced some interesting results, raising concerns of the effect of fracking on the UKs climate change targets.
Shale gas production of the UK is not going to be the answer to our energy needs when it comes to meeting our climate change targets. It is now obvious the UK has missed the boat on this payday unless development is done on a huge scale, industrializing vast areas of rural England. The recommended regulations in the report to facilitate the size of expansion needed will never be in place.
The regulations needed to mitigate fugitive emissions are also not financially viable, making the cost of fracking even more expensive. There will always be methane leaks, the industry cannot stop it. The industrys own figures of 2% to 5% expected leakage of methane from exploration, production and the supporting infrastructure needed, will put the UKs climate change targets in jeopardy.
The report states that UK shale gas production must displace imported gas rather than increasing domestic consumption. Allowing unabated consumption above these levels would not be consistent with the decarbonisation required under the Climate Change Act. Each alternative has an almost identical climate change footprint and the imports are likely to be cheaper. If the government commits to use domestic fracked gas this will drive up energy prices and eventually hit the poorest families in the pocket!
The report does not consider the ongoing technical issues such waste disposal, water pollution, set back distances, community disruption, seismic concerns, industrialisation, etc. etc. etc! It is time for the government to stop bending over for the gas and oil lobbyists and realise they are backing the wrong horse.
A familiar face heads back to Lib Dem HQ. Phil Reilly, the man who wrote Nick Cleggs brilliant resignation speech which inspired 20,000 people to join the party, has been appointed interim Head of Communications following the departure of James Holt to pastures new. Phil has been working for Nick since then including helping Nick with his new book which is coming out in September.
Since the election, hes shared some funny stories on his blog, Blimey OReilly.
The most recent involves his old colleague Mr Holt, who had a bit of a brainwave at the Eastleigh by-election to get Nick Clegg out of the campaign HQ without being harassed by a throng of journalists. I wonder if Boris might consider using the same technique when he leaves home every day although I doubt the same personnel would be as willing to help him.
The entrance to the building was an enormous roll-up, corrugated metal affair, like a huge garage door or the sort of thing you would use to protect a massive off license after hours. The press pack were all expecting the DPM to come out through the smaller front door, built into the roll-up wall, into an open car park, where they could pounce on him like jaguars on a gazelle. So, Holty arranged dozens of activists, some gripping placards and bright orange diamonds, inside the building facing the entrance, like infantry preparing to march into battle.
Behind the advanced guard was Nick Clegg flanked by dozens more activists and, rather conspicuously, a couple of the Metropolitan Polices finest close protection officers.
Mark Easton presented some interesting Brexit expectations polling by ComRes for the BBC last night on the Ten Oclock News. Here are a couple of highlights:
Most Britons think that maintaining access to the single market should be the priority for the Government when negotiating the UKs withdrawal from the EU (66%), while just a third say this of restricting freedom of movement (31%).
The new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, has already helpfully set out his Brexit negotiating positions in a speech to the Institute of Chartered Engineers in March (carried in full on his website). He has also more recently written a detailed article on the subject on Conservative Home.
The Federal Policy Committee is traditionally very busy in the immediate run-up to the summer holiday. That is because of conference deadlines and the need to get everything concluded before August when a lot of people are away.
The most recent meeting of the committee, which came hot on the heels of the last one, was on 13th July 2016. It also happened to be the day that Labour plunged further into disarray following the revelation that Jeremy Corbyn will appear on the ballot paper in their leadership election and, of course, the country had a new Prime Minister foisted upon it.
As we were going through the meeting, government announcements were being about new Cabinet members. We paused several time for a collective intake of breath.
There was a lot to discuss. We did not finish until some time after 9pm.
Gareth Epps has resigned from the committee because he has taken a job that is politically restricted. Gareth has been a very active member of FPC for a long time and he will certainly be missed from the committee. We were, however, delighted to welcome Antony Hook as his replacement.
The committee agreed the chairs, membership, and remits of three new working groups. Each of those groups was recommended by the Agenda 2020 exercise.
The first of these was education. The remit requires the group to identify proposals for new policy in Education in England. The group is particularly to be directed to identify policies which could be strong campaigning issues within education, reinforcing our overall liberal vision of creating opportunity for everyone regardless of background. The group is also expected to consider and address Liberal Democrat principles on diversity and equalities in developing their proposals. It will deal with the overall principles of education, Early Years, funding, structures, academies, governors, standards and inspections, quality, teacher recruitment, closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students, school and the world of work, Further Education and adult education. It will not deal with Higher Education.
The chair is to be Lucy Nethsingha. The membership of the group was appointed. It is fair to say that there was very strong competition for places. In fact, we had over 830 applications for the working groups.
It does seem that the news over the past fortnight or so has been dominated by people saying goodbye to spend more time with their families or whatever. In some cases, they will be more missed than in others, and, on this occasion, it is time to mark the retirement from the House of Lords of our longtime spokesperson on Universities, Baroness (Margaret) Sharp of Guildford, who has decided to take up the option to retire at the still relatively spritely age of 77.
Margaret is another of those whose work over many years led to a triumph celebrated by others, in that it was her success in reducing the Conservative majority in Guildford from over 20,000 to a rather more slender 4,500 that helped Sue Doughty to her famous success in 2001.
An economist of some regard, Margaret taught at the London School of Economics, as well as working in the National Economic Development Office in the 1970s, before becoming politically active with the onset of the Social Democrats.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 4:30 pm
For the last eight years, Nicky has struggled with advanced ovarian cancer, and despite repeated rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, it’s unclear how long she has to live.
“Ovarian cancer has a very bleak outlook — less than 30 percent make it to five years,” said the 67-year-old former New York City French teacher. “I was diagnosed in 2002, and I was going in to my fourth year and had a recurrence — which was like the proverbial shoe dropping — and it frightened me so much.”
“For the moment, there is no pain,” she said. “The most difficult part is leaving this world early. I wasn’t ready to get on that bus.”
But last May, Nicky volunteered to take a psychedelic “trip” on psilocybin — the hallucinogenic compound from “magic mushrooms” — which has been used for thousands of years by indigenous cultures to reach higher levels of spirituality and consciousness.
Today, even after losing seven friends from her cancer support group in 15 months, Nicky said she is less afraid of death and is living her life more “honestly and authentically.”
Nicky was one of the first terminally ill participants in an ongoing study at New York University on the use of hallucinogens to help those with terminal illnesses.
“I had a wonderful life, a fabulous child and beautiful grandchildren, and here my life was cut short,” she said. “I thought of my two granddaughters and not seeing them growing up and graduating from college — it made me profoundly sad. I wanted to do something for myself, to be able to live more in the moment, rather than worrying about the future and having all these existential thoughts about what life was all about.”
Her “trip” took place under full medical supervision in a warm, living room-like setting with art books, fresh fruit, flowers and soothing music. She was given a pill in an earthenware chalice and a single rose, then hunkered down on a cozy sofa with eyeshades and headphones.
“I was in a dome and it was all bejeweled with colors, mostly striped, like a kaleidoscope, but not turning,” she said. “Every once in awhile, the dome would open up at the top and send a luminescence,” she said. “I was in awe and could feel myself taking deep breaths. At the same, tears were running down my face, but I was not crying.”
“It was incredible,” she said. “I wanted to share it. I couldn’t believe the world could be so beautiful.”
Researchers at New York University say that in a controlled setting, hallucinogens, which alter perception and cognition, can help patients reduce the anxiety, personal isolation and fear of death.
“I am still not ready to die,” said Nicky, who just returned from trips to Mexico and Bali and boxes with a trainer several times a week. “It’s definitely improved my interactions with those closest to me and figuring out how I want to live my life.”
“Has my anxiety of dying gone away? I would say no, I don’t ever want to die. Will I be able to walk toward death with a little less fear? Perhaps,” she said. “I know it sounds trite, but I live more in the moment,” she said.
The three-year study, “Effects of Psilocybin on Anxiety and Psychosocial Distress in Advanced Cancer Patients,” is being privately funded by the Zurich-based Heffter Research Institute , which promotes the use of psychedelics for the alleviation of suffering. Fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it adheres to rigorous safety guidelines and protocols.
Researchers hope that it will one day lead to reclassification of Schedule 1 hallucinogens so that doctors may prescribe them to patients for palliative care, depression and even addiction.
“It’s daunting working with people in the midst of death,” said principal investigator Dr. Stephen Ross, assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the NYU Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction. “To help people to have a good death, and not more chemotherapy, to prepare for the final part of life and to die with dignity and do it in a way that they are not frightened, that is one of the most important endeavors as a physician.”
Ross and his colleagues are looking for 32 patients who are willing to participate in the random, double-blind study. To be eligible, patients must be 18 to 76 years old with the diagnosis of a “potentially life-threatening disease” or advanced or recurrent cancer who are displaying symptoms of acute stress, anxiety or adjustment disorder due to their disease.
Patients are screened carefully — those with psychotic spectrum disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression cannot participate.
“Mysticism is really the cornerstone of all major religions going back millennia,” said co-principal investigator Anthony Bossis , professor of psychiatry and anesthesiology at the NYU School of Medicine.
“It is characterized by a sense of unity, transcendence, connecting to the broader universe and a sense of life and the promotion of personal spirituality,” he said. “It recalibrates how we see our life and gives a sense of sacredness and reshapes how we view death.”
A mystical experience can help root patients like Nicky more in the present, according to Bossis. “People with cancer can spend their final days and months not anxious and improvement in quality of life is attainable,” he said. “These experiences have the potential to do that.”
Scientists across the country have shown a renewed interest in the medical uses of hallucinogens. So far, 80 to 90 patients have had similar experiences in studies on psilocybin at other universities including Johns Hopkins and UCLA.
In a study on 36 patients at Johns Hopkins, researchers looked at the effects of psilocybin on depression. At the 14-month follow-up, more than 60 percent of volunteers rated the experience as among the five most meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives; 58 percent reported a “complete” mystical experience.
“We have come a long way in pain management with the use of opiods , but the sheer anxiety is so hard to address in a medical setting,” said Bossis, a clinical psychologist whose specialty is end-of-life care.
“The heart of this study is to address these levels of suffering and get at the existential [fear] of not being here any longer that we all face,” he said. “We provide an empirical experience where the patient goes into a journey — his own journey — and can find resolution and peace and transformation and return back here to integrate it into their lives.”
Psilocybin, an alkaloid compound in the tryptamine family, is produced by hundreds of species of fungi and acts on the serotonin receptors in the part of the brain responsible for non-verbal imagery and emotion. Its mind-altering effects can last anywhere from three to eight hours.
It is in the same class of chemicals as mescaline, contained in the peyote cactus, which is used in religious ceremonies by Native Americans, and dimethyltryptamine, which is in ayahuasca, used by indigenous South American religions. The effects are sometimes described as similar to near-death experiences. Some research has shown that brain activity under psilocybin mimics closely that of Buddhist monks meditating.
“It appears we are hardwired with neuro-circuitry to meditate and have the spiritual experience,” said Ross.
Psychologist Timothy Leary popularized hallucinogens like LSD in his 1964 book with Ralph Metzner, “The Psychedelic Experience,” which he hailed as a way to “journey into new realms of consciousness.”
“It opens the mind, frees the nervous system of it ordinary patterns and structures,” Leary wrote.
Experiments with LSD took place as early as the late 1940s and 1950s, after it was discovered in an ergot fungus by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hoffman.
By 1965, more than 2,000 papers had described positive results in 40,000 patients with few side effects and a high level of safety in the treatment of psychiatric orders, depression, sexual dysfunction, bereavement and even addiction, according to the British Journal of Psychiatry.
But by 1966, the drug was made illegal after abuses by the hippie counterculture, scientists distanced themselves and the government cracked down on research licenses. By the 1970s, under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department, virtually all research ended.
“It got demonized as a most addictive drug, but the irony is that it is not addictive,” said Ross. “Used in the models we describe, it can actually lead to sustained sobriety.”
Volunteers in the NYU study agree to take part in two full-day sessions, seven weeks apart, where they are administered either a placebo or the psilocybin. They are monitored for anxiety and outcomes two to four weeks prior to drug administration, then one day prior, then again seven hours, one day and several weeks’ intervals until 26 weeks post administration.
Investigators also measure depression, pain and quality of life as well as attitude toward their disease progression at designated intervals.
Beforehand, they undergo preparation for the experience in psychotherapy. “We take their life narrative and their cancer narrative and review all the safety parameters — what happens if X,” said Ross.
When the drug is administered, the patient is paired with a male and female therapist to monitor responses and for comfort.
“Emotional stability optimizes the chance for a good experience,” said Bossis. “Trust with the monitors is crucial . If the patient doesn’t feel safe, we don’t go forward.”
Sometimes the experience is traumatizing, but facing fears is part of the process. Doctors have an antidote to abort the experience, if necessary, or use valium to calm a patient down.
“We encourage them to go inward, to minimize the communication with us and enter the experience, even if it’s something dark and difficult that comes before them,” said Bossis. “We tell patients that no matter where they find themselves, they will return to a normal state of consciousness within six hours.”
Two of the three patients in Nicky’s group have already died. Both reported extraordinary experiences — “a cleansing of the body and soul of grief and sadness and an increase in the acceptance of the disease and the dying process,” according to Bossis.
The patients said they wanted to give back more — financially or emotionally and were able to reconnect with estranged friends and family members. Both were “peaceful and thankful,” at the end, he said.
As for Nicky, the first hour of her psychedelic journey was awe-inspiring, but the second part was deeper and more emotional. At several points, she had to sit up and take off her eyeshades and seek the comfort of Ross and her other therapist.
“I became profoundly sad, and I actually had to sit up after 45 minutes and talk to them and I cried a lot,” she said. “There was another scenario, then I went through the rest by myself.”
In six hours, when it was all over, she stayed and analyzed her experience with the doctors.
“In therapy we had been working on my top five [issues with death or family],” she said. “During my experience, I reordered the hierarchy of issues to lead a more authentic life emotionally. I didn’t realize my number four was actually number one.”
“It was such an enormous gift,” said Nicky. “It’s really amazing that a king’s ransom arrived at my door step.”
Today, Nicky said she would take psilocybin again — “in a New York minute.” She continues her therapy at NYU and will go on a drug trial soon for late-stage ovarian cancer. She also hopes that her openness about the psychedelic experience will help others.
“I don’t think people should be so afraid of something that could be so helpful when you are nearing the end of life,” she said. “I had huge insight into my head. I can still conjure it up and I tried for very long to relive it — it was breathtaking.”
Nicky never expected to find God. “I didn’t have that spiritual experience, but my dome was very close,” she said. “When it opened up several times and let in the light, I would have thought it was my creator if I had been religious.”
For more information on how to participate in the study, contact patient coordinator Krystallia Kalliontzi at 212-998-9252 or email@example.com.
Posted: at 1:55 am
Herbalism (also herbology or herbal medicine) is use of plants for medicinal purposes, and the study of botany for such use. Plants have been the basis for medical treatments through much of human history, and such traditional medicine is still widely practiced today. Modern medicine recognizes herbalism as a form of alternative medicine, as the practice of herbalism is not strictly based on evidence gathered using the scientific method. Modern medicine, does, however, make use of many plant-derived compounds as the basis for evidence-tested pharmaceutical drugs, phytotherapy, and phytochemistry works to apply modern standards of effectiveness testing to herbs and medicines that are derived from natural sources. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the use of medicinal plants dates at least to the Paleolithic, approximately 60,000 years ago. Written evidence of herbal remedies dates back over 5,000 years, to the Sumerians, who created lists of plants. A number of ancient cultures wrote about plants and their medical uses in books called herbals. In ancient Egypt, herbs are mentioned in Egyptian medical papyri, depicted in tomb illustrations, or on rare occasions found in medical jars containing trace amounts of herbs. Among the oldest, lengthiest, and most important medical papyri of ancient Egypt is the Ebers Papyrus dating from about 1550 BC, and covering more than 700 drugs, mainly of plant origin. The earliest known Greek herbals were those of Theophrastus of Eresos who in the 4th c. B.C. wrote in Greek Historia Plantarum, of Diocles of Carystus who wrote during the 3rd century B.C, and of Krateuas who wrote in the 1st century B.C. Only a few fragments of these works have survived intact, but from what remains scholars have noted that there is a large amount of overlap with the Egyptian herbals. Seeds likely used for herbalism have been found in the archaeological sites of Bronze Age China dating from the Shang Dynasty. Over a hundred of the 224 drugs mentioned in the Huangdi Neijing, an early Chinese medical text, are herbs. Herbs were also common in the medicine of ancient India, where the principal treatment for diseases was diet.De Materia Medica, originally written in Greek, by Pedanius Dioscorides ( ; c. 40 90 AD) of Anazarbus, Cilicia, a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, is a particularly important example of such writings. The documentation of herbs and their uses was a central part of both Western and Eastern medical scholarship through to the 1600s, and these works played an important role in the development of the science of botany.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Pharmaceuticals are prohibitively expensive for most of the world’s population, half of whom lived on less than $2 U.S. per day in 2002. In comparison, herbal medicines can be grown from seed or gathered from nature for little or no cost.
Many of the pharmaceuticals currently available to physicians have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including opium, aspirin, digitalis, and quinine. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 25% of modern drugs used in the United States have been derived from plants. At least 7,000 medical compounds in the modern pharmacopoeia are derived from plants. Among the 120 active compounds currently isolated from the higher plants and widely used in modern medicine today, 80% show a positive correlation between their modern therapeutic use and the traditional use of the plants from which they are derived.
In 2015 the Australian Government’s Department of Health published the results of a review of alternative therapies that sought to determine if any were suitable for being covered by health insurance; Herbalism was one of 17 topics evaluated for which no clear evidence of effectiveness was found.
In a 2010 survey of the most common 1000 plant-derived compounds, only 156 had clinical trials published. Preclinical studies (tissue-culture and animal studies) were reported for about one-half of the plant products, while 12% of the plants, although available in the Western market, had “no substantial studies” of their properties. Strong evidence was found that 5 were toxic or allergenic, so that their use ought to be discouraged or forbidden. Nine plants had considerable evidence of therapeutic effect.
According to Cancer Research UK, “there is currently no strong evidence from studies in people that herbal remedies can treat, prevent or cure cancer”.
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health funds clinical trials of the effectiveness of herbal medicines and provides fact sheets summarizing the effectiveness and side effects of many plant-derived preparations.
The use of herbal remedies is more prevalent in patients with chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, asthma and end-stage renal disease. Multiple factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, education and social class are also shown to have association with prevalence of herbal remedies use.
A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health focused on who used complementary and alternative medicines (CAM), what was used, and why it was used. The survey was limited to adults, aged 18 years and over during 2002, living in the United States. According to this survey, herbal therapy, or use of natural products other than vitamins and minerals, was the most commonly used CAM therapy (18.9%) when all use of prayer was excluded.
Herbal remedies are very common in Europe. In Germany, herbal medications are dispensed by apothecaries (e.g., Apotheke). Prescription drugs are sold alongside essential oils, herbal extracts, or herbal teas. Herbal remedies are seen by some as a treatment to be preferred to pure medical compounds that have been industrially produced.
In India the herbal remedy is so popular that the government of India has created a separate departmentAYUSHunder the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The National Medicinal Plants Board was also established in 2000 by the Indian government in order to deal with the herbal medical system.
There are many forms in which herbs can be administered, the most common of which is in the form of a liquid that is drunk by the patienteither an herbal tea or a (possibly diluted) plant extract. Whole herb consumption is also practiced either fresh, in dried form or as fresh juice.
Several methods of standardization may be determining the amount of herbs used. One is the ratio of raw materials to solvent. However different specimens of even the same plant species may vary in chemical content. For this reason, thin layer chromatography is sometimes used by growers to assess the content of their products before use. Another method is standardization on a signal chemical.
Herbal teas, or tisanes, are the resultant liquid of extracting herbs into water, though they are made in a few different ways. Infusions are hot water extracts of herbs, such as chamomile or mint, through steeping. Decoctions are the long-term boiled extracts, usually of harder substances like roots or bark. Maceration is the old infusion of plants with
high mucilage-content, such as sage, thyme, etc. To make macerates, plants are chopped and added to cold water. They are then left to stand for 7 to 12 hours (depending on herb used). For most macerates 10 hours is used.
Tinctures are alcoholic extracts of herbs, which are generally stronger than herbal teas. Tinctures are usually obtained by combining 100% pure ethanol (or a mixture of 100% ethanol with water) with the herb. A completed tincture has an ethanol percentage of at least 25% (sometimes up to 90%). Herbal wine and elixirs are alcoholic extract of herbs, usually with an ethanol percentage of 12-38%. Herbal wine is a maceration of herbs in wine, while an elixir is a maceration of herbs in spirits (e.g., vodka, grappa, etc.).Extracts include liquid extracts, dry extracts, and nebulisates. Liquid extracts are liquids with a lower ethanol percentage than tinctures. They are usually made by vacuum distilling tinctures. Dry extracts are extracts of plant material that are evaporated into a dry mass. They can then be further refined to a capsule or tablet. A nebulisate is a dry extract created by freeze-drying.Vinegars are prepared in the same way as tinctures, except using a solution of acetic acid as the solvent.Syrups are extracts of herbs made with syrup or honey. Sixty-five parts of sugar are mixed with thirty-five parts of water and herb. The whole is then boiled and macerated for three weeks.
The exact composition of an herbal product is influenced by the method of extraction. A tea will be rich in polar components because water is a polar solvent. Oil on the other hand is a non-polar solvent and it will absorb non-polar compounds. Alcohol lies somewhere in between.
Many herbs are applied topically to the skin in a variety of forms. Essential oil extracts can be applied to the skin, usually diluted in a carrier oil. Many essential oils can burn the skin or are simply too high dose used straight; diluting them in olive oil or another food grade oil such as almond oil can allow these to be used safely as a topical.[unreliable source?] Salves, oils, balms, creams and lotions are other forms of topical delivery mechanisms. Most topical applications are oil extractions of herbs. Taking a food grade oil and soaking herbs in it for anywhere from weeks to months allows certain phytochemicals to be extracted into the oil. This oil can then be made into salves, creams, lotions, or simply used as an oil for topical application. Many massage oils, antibacterial salves, and wound healing compounds are made this way. One can also make a poultice or compress using the whole herb or the appropriate part of the plant, which is usually crushed or dried and re-hydrated with a small amount of water and then applied directly in a bandage, cloth, or just as is.
Inhalation, as in aromatherapy, can be used as a mood changing treatment to fight a sinus infection or cough , or to cleanse the skin on a deeper level (steam rather than direct inhalation here)
A number of herbs are thought to be likely to cause adverse effects. Furthermore, “adulteration, inappropriate formulation, or lack of understanding of plant and drug interactions have led to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening or lethal.” Proper double-blind clinical trials are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of each plant before they can be recommended for medical use. Although many consumers believe that herbal medicines are safe because they are “natural”, herbal medicines and synthetic drugs may interact, causing toxicity to the patient. Herbal remedies can also be dangerously contaminated, and herbal medicines without established efficacy, may unknowingly be used to replace medicines that do have corroborated efficacy.
Standardization of purity and dosage is not mandated in the United States, but even products made to the same specification may differ as a result of biochemical variations within a species of plant. Plants have chemical defense mechanisms against predators that can have adverse or lethal effects on humans. Examples of highly toxic herbs include poison hemlock and nightshade. They are not marketed to the public as herbs, because the risks are well known, partly due to a long and colorful history in Europe, associated with “sorcery”, “magic” and intrigue. Although not frequent, adverse reactions have been reported for herbs in widespread use. On occasion serious untoward outcomes have been linked to herb consumption. A case of major potassium depletion has been attributed to chronic licorice ingestion., and consequently professional herbalists avoid the use of licorice where they recognize that this may be a risk. Black cohosh has been implicated in a case of liver failure. Few studies are available on the safety of herbs for pregnant women, and one study found that use of complementary and alternative medicines are associated with a 30% lower ongoing pregnancy and live birth rate during fertility treatment. Examples of herbal treatments with likely cause-effect relationships with adverse events include aconite, which is often a legally restricted herb, ayurvedic remedies, broom, chaparral, Chinese herb mixtures, comfrey, herbs containing certain flavonoids, germander, guar gum, liquorice root, and pennyroyal. Examples of herbs where a high degree of confidence of a risk long term adverse effects can be asserted include ginseng, which is unpopular among herbalists for this reason, the endangered herb goldenseal, milk thistle, senna, against which herbalists generally advise and rarely use, aloe vera juice, buckthorn bark and berry, cascara sagrada bark, saw palmetto, valerian, kava, which is banned in the European Union, St. John’s wort, Khat, Betel nut, the restricted herb Ephedra, and Guarana.
There is also concern with respect to the numerous well-established interactions of herbs and drugs. In consultation with a physician, usage of herbal remedies should be clarified, as some herbal remedies have the potential to cause adverse drug interactions when used in combination with various prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, just as a patient should inform a herbalist of their consumption of orthodox prescription and other medication.
For example, dangerously low blood pressure may result from the combination of an herbal remedy that lowers blood pressure together with prescription medicine that has the same effect. Some herbs may amplify the effects of anticoagulants. Certain herbs as well as common fruit interfere with cytochrome P450, an enzyme critical to much drug metabolism.
A 2013 study published in the journal BMC Medicine found that one-third of herbal supplements sampled contained no trace of the herb listed on the label. The study found products adulterated with filler including allergens such as soy, wheat, and black walnut. One bottle labeled as St. John’s Wort was found to actually contain Alexandrian senna, a laxative.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide found in 2014 that almost 20 per cent of herbal remedies surveyed were not registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, despite this being a condition for their sale. They also found that nearly 60 per cent of products surveyed had ingredients that did not match what was on the label. Out of 121 products, only 15 had ingredients that matched their TGA listing and packaging.
In 2015 the New York Attorney General issued cease and desist
letters to four major U.S. retailers (GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart) who are accused of selling herbal supplements that were mislabeled and potentially dangerous. 24 products were tested by DNA barcoding as part of the investigation, all but five contained DNA that did not match the products’ labels. The investigation was prompted by the 2013 BMC study.
A herbalist is:
Herbalists must learn many skills, including the wildcrafting or cultivation of herbs, diagnosis and treatment of conditions or dispensing herbal medication, and preparations of herbal medications. Education of herbalists varies considerably in different areas of the world. Lay herbalists and traditional indigenous medicine people generally rely upon apprenticeship and recognition from their communities in lieu of formal schooling.
In some countries formalized training and minimum education standards exist, although these are not necessarily uniform within or between countries. For example, in Australia the currently self-regulated status of the profession (as of April 2008) results in different associations setting different educational standards, and subsequently recognising an educational institution or course of training. The National Herbalists Association of Australia is generally recognised as having the most rigorous professional standard within Australia. In the United Kingdom, the training of medical herbalists is done by state funded Universities. For example, Bachelor of Science degrees in herbal medicine are offered at Universities such as University of East London, Middlesex University, University of Central Lancashire, University of Westminster, University of Lincoln and Napier University in Edinburgh at the present.
The World Health Organization (WHO), the specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is concerned with international public health, published Quality control methods for medicinal plant materials in 1998 in order to support WHO Member States in establishing quality standards and specifications for herbal materials, within the overall context of quality assurance and control of herbal medicines.
In the European Union (EU), herbal medicines are now regulated under the European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products.
In the United States, herbal remedies are regulated dietary supplements by the Food and Drug Administration under current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) policy for dietary supplements. Manufacturers of products falling into this category are not required to prove the safety or efficacy of their product so long as they don’t make ‘medical’ claims or imply being other than for ‘dietary supplement’ use, though the FDA may withdraw a product from sale should it prove harmful.
The National Nutritional Foods Association, the industry’s largest trade association, has run a program since 2002, examining the products and factory conditions of member companies, giving them the right to display the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) seal of approval on their products.
Some herbs, such as cannabis and coca, are outright banned in most countries though coca is legal in most of the South American countries where it is grown. The Cannabis plant is used as an herbal medicine, and as such is legal in some parts of the world. Since 2004, the sales of ephedra as a dietary supplement is prohibited in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration., and subject to Schedule III restrictions in the United Kingdom.
Native Americans medicinally used about 2,500 of the approximately 20,000 plant species that are native to North America.
Some researchers trained in both western and traditional Chinese medicine have attempted to deconstruct ancient medical texts in the light of modern science. One idea is that the yin-yang balance, at least with regard to herbs, corresponds to the pro-oxidant and anti-oxidant balance. This interpretation is supported by several investigations of the ORAC ratings of various yin and yang herbs.
In India, Ayurvedic medicine has quite complex formulas with 30 or more ingredients, including a sizable number of ingredients that have undergone “alchemical processing”, chosen to balance “Vata”, “Pitta” or “Kapha”.
In Ladakh, Lahul-Spiti and Tibet, the Tibetan Medical System is prevalent, also called the ‘Amichi Medical System’. Over 337 species of medicinal plants have been documented by C.P. Kala. Those are used by Amchis, the practitioners of this medical system.
In Tamil Nadu, Tamils have their own medicinal system now popularly called Siddha medicine. The Siddha system is entirely in the Tamil language. It contains roughly 300,000 verses covering diverse aspects of medicine. This work includes herbal, mineral and metallic compositions used as medicine. Ayurveda is in Sanskrit, but Sanskrit was not generally used as a mother tongue and hence its medicines are mostly taken from Siddha and other local traditions.
In Indonesia, especially among the Javanese, the jamu traditional herbal medicine is an age old tradition preserved for centuries. Jamu is thought to have originated in the Mataram Kingdom era, some 1300 years ago. The bas-reliefs on Borobudur depicts the image of people ground herbs with stone mortar and pestle, drink seller, physician and masseuse treating their clients. All of these scenes might be interpreted as a traditional herbal medicine and health-related treatments in ancient Java. The Madhawapura inscription from Majapahit period mentioned a specific profession of herbs mixer and combiner (herbalist), called Acaraki. The medicine book from Mataram dated from circa 1700 contains 3,000 entries of jamu herbal recipes, while Javanese classical literature Serat Centhini (1814) describes some jamu herbal concoction recipes.
Though highly possible influenced by Indian Ayurveda system, Indonesia is a vast archipelago with numerous indigenous plants not to be found in India, which include plants similar to Australia beyond the Wallace Line. Indonesians might experimented and figure out the medicinal uses of these native herbal plants. Jamu may vary from region to region, and often not written down, especially in remote areas of the country. Although primarily herbal, materials acquired from animals, such as honey, royal jelly, milk and ayam kampung eggs are also often used in jamu.
According to Eisenburg: The Chinese and Western medical models are like two frames of reference in which identical phenomena are studied. Neither frame of reference provides an unobstructed view of health and illness. Each is incomplete and in need of refinement.” Specifically, the traditional Chinese medical model could effect change on the recognized, and expected, phenomena of detachment to patients as people and estrangement unique to the clinical and impersonal relationships between patient and physician of the Western school of medicine.
Four approaches to the use of plants as medicine include:
1. The magical/shamanicAlmost all societies, with the exception of cultures influenced by Western-style industrialization, recognize this kind of use. The practitioner is regarded as endowed with gifts or powers that allow him/her to use herbs in a way that is hidden from the average person, and the herbs are said to affect the spirit or soul of the person.
2. The energeticThis approach includes the major systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Unani. He
rbs are regarded as having actions in terms of their energies and affecting the energies of the body. The practitioner may have extensive training, and ideally be sensitive to energy, but need not have supernatural powers.
3. The functional dynamicThis approach was used by early physiomedical practitioners, whose doctrine forms the basis of contemporary practice in the UK. Herbs have a functional action, which is not necessarily linked to a physical compound, although often to a physiological function, but there is no explicit recourse to concepts involving energy.
4. The chemicalModern practitioners – called Phytotherapists – attempt to explain herb actions in terms of their chemical constituents. It is generally assumed that the specific combination of secondary metabolites in the plant are responsible for the activity claimed or demonstrated, a concept called synergy.
Herbalists tend to use extracts from parts of plants, such as the roots or leaves but not isolate particular phytochemicals. Pharmaceutical medicine prefers single ingredients on the grounds that dosage can be more easily quantified. It is also possible to patent single compounds, and therefore generate income. Herbalists often reject the notion of a single active ingredient, arguing that the different phytochemicals present in many herbs will interact to enhance the therapeutic effects of the herb and dilute toxicity. Furthermore, they argue that a single ingredient may contribute to multiple effects. Herbalists deny that herbal synergism can be duplicated with synthetic chemicals They argue that phytochemical interactions and trace components may alter the drug response in ways that cannot currently be replicated with a combination of a few potentially active ingredients. Pharmaceutical researchers recognize the concept of drug synergism but note that clinical trials may be used to investigate the efficacy of a particular herbal preparation, provided the formulation of that herb is consistent.
In specific cases the claims of synergy and multifunctionality have been supported by science. The open question is how widely both can be generalized. Herbalists would argue that cases of synergy can be widely generalized, on the basis of their interpretation of evolutionary history, not necessarily shared by the pharmaceutical community. Plants are subject to similar selection pressures as humans and therefore they must develop resistance to threats such as radiation, reactive oxygen species and microbial attack in order to survive. Optimal chemical defenses have been selected for and have thus developed over millions of years. Human diseases are multifactorial and may be treated by consuming the chemical defences that they believe to be present in herbs. Bacteria, inflammation, nutrition and ROS (reactive oxygen species) may all play a role in arterial disease. Herbalists claim a single herb may simultaneously address several of these factors. Likewise a factor such as ROS may underlie more than one condition. In short herbalists view their field as the study of a web of relationships rather than a quest for single cause and a single cure for a single condition.
In selecting herbal treatments herbalists may use forms of information that are not applicable to pharmacists. Because herbs can moonlight as vegetables, teas or spices they have a huge consumer base and large-scale epidemiological studies become feasible. Ethnobotanical studies are another source of information. For example, when indigenous peoples from geographically dispersed areas use closely related herbs for the same purpose that is taken as supporting evidence for its efficacy. Herbalists contend that historical medical records and herbals are underutilized resources. They favor the use of convergent information in assessing the medical value of plants. An example would be when in-vitro activity is consistent with traditional use.
Indigenous healers often claim to have learned by observing that sick animals change their food preferences to nibble at bitter herbs they would normally reject. Field biologists have provided corroborating evidence based on observation of diverse species, such as chickens, sheep, butterflies, and chimpanzee.The habit has been shown to be a physical means of purging intestinal parasites. Lowland gorillas take 90% of their diet from the fruits of Aframomum melegueta, a relative of the ginger plant, that is a potent antimicrobial and apparently keeps shigellosis and similar infections at bay. Current research focuses on the possibility that this plants also protects gorillas from fibrosing cardiomyopathy which has a devastating effect on captive animals.
Sick animals tend to forage plants rich in secondary metabolites, such as tannins and alkaloids. Since these phytochemicals often have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antihelminthic properties, a plausible case can be made for self-medication by animals in the wild.
Posted: at 1:51 am
Civil rights attorneys say surveillance evidence used to convict a Somali-American man who plotted to bomb a 2010 Christmas tree-lighting ceremony was gathered unconstitutionally through the U.S. government’s warrantless foreign surveillance program.
They laid out their arguments Wednesday before a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in downtown Portland — directly across the street from the plaza where almost six years prior Mohamed Mohamud tried detonating a fake bomb that was part of an undercover operation.
Mohamud is appealing his 2013 conviction on grounds that he was entrapped by undercover federal agents posing as al-Qaida members and the warrantless surveillance of his foreign communications violated his constitutional rights.
It marks the first time a federal appeals court is considering whether the National Security Agency’s foreign surveillance programs — the same ones that came under scrutiny after the Edward Snowden leaks a few years ago — violate the Fourth Amendment rights of criminal defendants.
Stephen Sady, Mohamud’s public defender, and another attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union urged the court for a new trial on grounds that the evidence used against Mohamud should’ve never been allowed in the courtroom.
Sady told the judges that using surveillance information on foreigners, which doesn’t require a warrant, to spy on any Americans they communicate with is “an incredible diminution of the privacy rights of all Americans … That is a step that should never be taken.”
U.S. prosecutors defended the program, saying it’s perfectly legal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to access information on Americans that was obtained through foreign communications.
Kelly Zusman, assistant U.S. attorney, said the information they glean on Americans, such as the communications that was used as evidence against Mohamud, already exists in the NSA databases.
“The query is not a search,” Zusman said. “It’s simply a means by which we access the information we have already lawfully acquired.”
Mohamud, 24, is a Somalia-born naturalized U.S. citizen who was 19 when he attempted the Christmas bombing.
Tung Yin, a professor at Portland-based Lewis & Clark Law School who specializes in national security issues, said it’s tough to predict how the court will proceed. But he said Mohamud only needs to win on one of the arguments for a new trial.
“At one level, it’s a question of what can the government do within the bounds of the Fourth Amendment? And a second issue is, even if the government is allowed to do something, should it? And that’s not a judicial question, but a political question,” Yin said.
Continue reading here:
Federal appeals court considers constitutionality of NSA …
Posted: at 5:28 am
by Daniel Smartt
Would Richard Dawkins ever acknowledge that his rabid atheism is actually a religious view?
Atheism is the belief that there is no god. According to the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Buddhism is atheistic in the sense of denying that there is any overarching deity such as the Creator-God of the Bible. Atheism in the western sense excludes Buddhism, and adherents claim that it is not a religion. One Atheist said:
However, atheists make such claims so Atheism can avoid legal imperatives placed on religions in many countries, and can avoid some of the ideological hang-ups people have about religion. It also creates a false dichotomy between science (which they claim must be naturalistic and secular) and religion.
Atheism3 will be defined in the contemporary western sense: not just the lack of belief in a god, but the assertion about the non-existence of any gods, spirits, or divine or supernatural beings. Atheists in this sense are metaphysical naturalists, and as will be shown, they DO follow a religion.
Atheism creates a false dichotomy between science (which they claim must be naturalistic and secular) and religion.
Religion is a difficult thing to define. Various definitions have been proposed, many of which emphasize a belief in the supernatural.4 But such definitions break down on closer inspection for several reasons. They fail to deal with religions which worship non-supernatural things in their own right (for example Jainism, which holds that every living thing is sacred because it is alive, or the Mayans who worshiped the sun as a deity in and of itself rather than a deity associated with the sun)5; they fail to include religions such as Confucianism and Taoism which focus almost exclusively on how adherents should live, and the little they do say about supernatural issues such as the existence of an afterlife is very vague; they also dont deal with religious movements centred around UFOswhich believe that aliens are highly (evolutionarily) advanced (but not supernatural) beings.
A better way to determine whether a worldview is a religion is to look for certain characteristics that religions have in common. The framework set forth by Ninian Smart,6 commonly known as the Seven Dimensions of Religion, is widely accepted by anthropologists and researchers of religion as broadly covering the various aspects of religion, without focusing on things unique to specific religions.
The seven dimensions proposed by Smart are narrative, experiential, social, ethical, doctrinal, ritual and material. Not every religion has every dimension, nor are they all equally important within an individual religion. Smart even argues that the secularisation of western society is actually a shift of focus from the doctrinal and ritual to the experiential.
Every religion has its stories. Almost all religions have stories explaining where the universe came from and what humanitys part in it is. Smart calls this Narrative.
Narrative is a particularly important aspect of western Atheism. As the prominent Atheist Richard Dawkins said, referring to Charles Darwins theory of evolution:
Evolution is an explanation of where everything came from: the cosmos (came out of nothing at the big bangnothing exploded and became everything); humans evolved from non-human creatures, hence humanitys place in the cosmos is being just another species of animal. Some have gone so far as to say that humanity is a parasite on earth, and advocate killing up to 90% of humanity.8 There are some who attempt to combine belief in God with belief in evolution, not realizing the foundational nature of evolutions connection to Atheism.9 The testimony of those who after learning about evolution in science reject Christianity should alert church leaders to the incompatibility between evolution and the Gospel.
There are two aspects to the experiential dimension. The first is the events experienced before someone founded a religion (for example the Disciples physically saw and touched the bodily resurrected Jesus). It is often asserted that Charles Darwin, after observing evidence from around the world during his voyage on HMS Beagle, developed the theory of evolution. (In reality, he had already learned a version of evolution from his grandfather Erasmuss book Zoonomia and similar ideas were around at the time).
According to the Humanist Manifesto II, the only meaning in life is what the person gives it.
The second aspect of the experiential dimension concerns the experiences of latter adherents. Many people feel certain emotions when they participate in certain religious ceremonies. Atheists often believe that Atheism is freedom from religion, and some Atheists have reported feeling liberated after converting.10 Karl Marx said that the removal of the illusion of happiness by the removal of religion was a step towards true happiness. Atheistic denial of the divine entails denial of an afterlife. If there is no afterlife,11 then ultimately there is no higher purpose in life for Atheists than to be happy. According to the Humanist Manifesto II, the only meaning in life is what the person gives it. In the Humanist Manifesto III, this was changed to finding meaning in relationships. Belief in evolution also causes people to aim for self preservation and to spread their own genes.12
Smart also seems to include faith as part of the experiential dimension. The meaning of the word faith is often twisted to make it mean things it does not. In Christianity, faith is logical, being defined in Hebrews 11:1 as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is not blindly believing the impossible (which is how many Atheists define faith), but rather trusting the promises of God, whose past promises have all been fulfilled. I would classify Christian faith as part of the doctrinal dimension rather than experiential. On the other hand, Atheism requires faith (using their own definition) that the laws of chemistry, physics and biology were once violated and life arose from non-life via chemical evolution.
The social dimension of religion looks at the hierarchies and power structures present within the religion, such the Hindu caste system. In missionary religions, it also includes how people get converted and how missionaries go about their work.
Contemporary Atheism has been fueled largely by authors promoting their Atheistic beliefs. In the preface to The God Delusion, Dawkins says,
Dawkins is saying he hopes that his book converts religious people to his worldviewexactly what a missionary of any religion hopes to do.
Communist countries often made the state religion Atheism, often to the point of persecuting (other) religions.13 This followed from Karl Marxs statement:
Marxists saw the removal of religion as a step toward true happiness for the common people, although in practice this did not occur, and contemporary critics see Marxism itself as a religion15. (I would contend that Marxism is a sect of a larger religion: Atheism).
Many scientists are high up on the social hierarchy of Atheism because their research enhances their understanding of the world. Particularly honoured are those scientists who write extensively about evolution. Because of this, many scientists include a little about evolution in their research papers, even when there is little or no relevance (one recent example concerns research into the chameleons catapult tongue and suction cap; see Created, not evo
Atheism is also taught to children in many schools in science classes as evolution. As atheistic philosopher Michael Ruse admits, evolution is a religion, and it could be considered the narrative dimension of Atheism. Thus teaching evolution is teaching Atheism. Several Atheists even support teaching lies, as long as the end result is more children believing evolution.16
Doctrines are the beliefs and philosophies that develop out of a religion (not necessarily being specifically stated in the religious narratives, etc). For example, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, while not directly stated in the Bible, is logically derived from it.
Contemporary Atheism gained popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries, after the enlightenment. In 1933, some prominent Atheist philosophers realised the effects the lack of a belief in a god would have on the morals of society and wrote what they believed would be a suitable set of beliefs and goals for a secular society in the 20th century. In doing so, they formed the branch of Atheism known as Secular Humanism. By and large, Atheists believe and adhere to the things written in the Humanist Manifesto, even if they dont know the specifics of the document. After all, many Atheists do want to do what is good.
The doctrines, ethics and goals outlined in the Humanist Manifesto, while being atheistic and accepting evolution as true, are opposite of what would be expected if they were solely derived from the evolutionary narrative. This is because Humanism also makes the assumption that humans are basically good.
In 1973 however, the Humanist Manifesto was updated because of the atrocities that humans inflicted upon other humans during the intervening years (specifically mentioned are Nazism and communist police states).
Atheism is a morally relativist religion. Most Atheists adhere to one ethical system or another, but in Atheism there is ultimately no foundation for morality, as atheists Dawkins and Provine admit. Many systems of ethics have been proposed; utilitarianism is probably the most popular one.
Some people have taken a further step by creating ethical systems based on the evolutionary narrative and the principle of survival of the fittest. People who have lived by such principles include the perpetrators of the Columbine Massacre, the Jokela School Shooting in Finland, and on a much larger scale, the Nazis.
Most people (Atheist or not) inherently know that systems that lead to such atrocities must be wrong, but Atheists cannot give a logical reason for why it is wrong. This contradiction was highlighted by Dawkins when he said Im a passionate Darwinian when it comes to science, when it comes to explaining the world, but Im a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality and politics. It was also graphically shown when two evolutionists wrote a book claiming that rape is an evolutionary mechanism to spread male genesand see how one of them squirmed to justify why he agreed that rape is objectively wrong under his philosophy.
A world governed purely by Atheistic, evolutionary ethics has been shown by history to be a horrible place to live. Most Atheists recognise this and choose to live by the ethical systems of other religions instead, or at the very least, live by the laws enforced by the government.
Ritual is the only dimension which on the surface might appear to be absent from the religion of Atheism. In some religions, rituals have meanings attached to them, such as Passover commemorating the Israelites escape from Egypt. Because Atheism is a relatively recent movement, it doesnt have much of a history to commemorate. In other religions, rituals such as sacrifices and dances are done to appease the gods or the spirits. Because Atheism denies the existence of gods and spirits, it doesnt have the second type of ritual either. Many Atheists do practice secular rituals such as their birthday celebrations, or the ritual holidays of other religions such as the Christmas and Easter public holidays of Christianity, but this is usually to simply maintain the tradition of a public holiday, and the original meaning of the celebrations are rejected. Its noteworthy that in recent years, the atheists public commemoration of the anniversary of Darwins birth each February (and even of the publication of his Origin of Species in November), along with calls for the general public to do the same, is rapidly becoming something of an annual ritual, even in some churches. One might even say that this modern Atheistic commemoration is being celebrated with greater fervour and passion than many longstanding religious rituals.
While Atheism by its nature of denying the divine cant have objects that represent the divine (such as icons or idols), nature is treated as sacred by some Atheists in and of itself.
The material dimension of religion, says Smart, includes all the physical things created by a religion such as art and buildings, and also natural features and places treated as sacred by adherents. While Atheism by its nature of denying the divine cant have objects that represent the divine (such as icons or idols), nature is treated as sacred by some Atheists in and of itself.
There are two extremes in the range of ideas held by Atheists on the material:
Both ideas can be derived from the evolutionary narrative, but views tending towards the second idea are more prevalent than the views tending towards the first. But as G.K. Chesterton said a century ago:
An Atheists view of the material dimension is strongly influenced by their view of the ethical dimension.
Atheists often claim that their belief is not a religion. This allows them to propagate their beliefs in settings where other religions are banned, but this should not be so.
Contemporary Western Atheism unquestionably has six of the seven dimensions of religion set forth by Smart, and the remaining dimension, ritual, has also started to develop. Thus its fallacious to assert, Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair colour. Perhaps a better analogy would be calling a shaved head a hairstyle. Other than the denial of the divine, there is little difference between Atheism and other worldviews typically labelled as religions.
The dichotomy that Atheists try to create between science and religion is false. The conflict is between interpretations of science coming from different religious worldviews.
Atheism shouldnt be taught or enforced in settings where other religions are banned and shouldnt be favoured by laws which imply a religiously neutral government.
Jonathan Sarfati responds
Jonathan Sarfati responds
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Posted: July 1, 2016 at 9:53 pm
In an environment of worsening economic conditions, Dagny Taggart, vice president in charge of operations, works to repair Taggart Transcontinentals crumbling Rio Norte Line to service Colorado, the last booming industrial area in the country. Her efforts are hampered by the fact that many of the countrys most talented entrepreneurs are retiring and disappearing. The railroads crisis worsens when the Mexican government nationalizes Taggarts San Sebastian Line. The line had been built to service Francisco dAnconias copper mills, but the mills turn out to be worthless. Francisco had been a successful industrialist, and Dagnys lover, but has become a worthless playboy. To solve the railroads financial problems, Dagnys brother Jim uses political influence to pass legislation that destroys Taggarts only competition in Colorado. Dagny must fix the Rio Norte Line immediately and plans to use Rearden Metal, a new alloy created by Hank Rearden. When confronted about the San Sebastian mines, Francisco tells Dagny he is deliberately destroying dAnconia Copper. Later he appears at Reardens anniversary party and, meeting him for the first time, urges Rearden to reject the freeloaders who live off of him.
The State Science Institute issues a denunciation of Rearden metal, and Taggarts stock crashes. Dagny decides to start her own company to rebuild the line, and it is a huge success. Dagny and Rearden become lovers. Together they discover a motor in an abandoned factory that runs on static electricity, and they seek the inventor. The government passes new legislation that cripples industry in Colorado. Ellis Wyatt, an oil industrialist, suddenly disappears after setting fire to his wells. Dagny is forced to cut trains, and the situation worsens. Soon, more industrialists disappear. Dagny believes there is a destroyer at work, taking men away when they are most needed. Francisco visits Rearden and asks him why he remains in business under such repressive conditions. When a fire breaks out and they work together to put it out, Francisco understands Reardens love for his mills.
Rearden goes on trial for breaking one of the new laws, but refuses to participate in the proceedings, telling the judges they can coerce him by force but he wont help them to convict him. Unwilling to be seen as thugs, they let him go. Economic dictator Wesley Mouch needs Reardens cooperation for a new set of socialist laws, and Jim needs economic favors that will keep his ailing railroad running after the collapse of Colorado. Jim appeals to Reardens wife Lillian, who wants to destroy her husband. She tells him Rearden and Dagny are having an affair, and he uses this information in a trade. The new set of laws, Directive 10-289, is irrational and repressive. It includes a ruling that requires all patents to be signed over to the government. Rearden is blackmailed into signing over his metal to protect Dagnys reputation.
Dagny quits over the new directive and retreats to a mountain lodge. When she learns of a massive accident at the Taggart Tunnel, she returns to her job. She receives a letter from the scientist she had hired to help rebuild the motor, and fears he will be the next target of the destroyer. In an attempt to stop him from disappearing, she follows him in an airplane and crashes in the mountains. When she wakes up, she finds herself in a remote valley where all the retired industrialists are living. They are on strike, calling it a strike of the mind. There, she meets John Galt, who turns out to be both the destroyer and the man who built the motor. She falls in love with him, but she cannot give up her railroad, and she leaves the valley. When she returns to work, she finds that the government has nationalized the railroad industry. Government leaders want her to make a speech reassuring the public about the new laws. She refuses until Lillian comes to blackmail her. On the air, she proudly announces her affair with Rearden and reveals that he has been blackmailed. She warns the country about its repressive government.
With the economy on the verge of collapse, Francisco destroys the rest of his holdings and disappears. The politicians no longer even pretend to work for the public good. Their vast network of influence peddling creates worse chaos, as crops rot waiting for freight trains that are diverted for personal favors. In an attempt to gain control of Franciscos mills, the government stages a riot at Rearden Steel. But the steelworkers organize and fight back, led by Francisco, who has been working undercover at the mills. Francisco saves Reardens life, then convinces him to join the strike.
Just as the head of state prepares to give a speech on the economic situation, John Galt takes over the airwaves and delivers a lengthy address to the country, laying out the terms of the strike he has organized. In desperation, the government seeks Galt to make him their economic dictator. Dagny inadvertently leads them to him, and they take him prisoner. But Galt refuses to help them, even after he is tortured. Finally, Dagny and the strikers rescue him in an armed confrontation with guards. They return to the valley, where Dagny finally joins the strike. Soon, the countrys collapse is complete and the strikers prepare to return.
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