A startling discovery of 70,000-year-old artifacts and a python's head carved of stone appears to represent the first known human rituals.
Scientists had thought human intelligence had not evolved the capacity to perform group rituals until perhaps 40,000 years ago...The discovery was made in a remote region of Botswana called Tsodilo Hills, the only uplifted area for miles around. It is known to modern Sanpeople as the "Mountains of the Gods" and the "Rock that Whispers." Their legend has it that mankind descended from the python, and the ancient, arid streambeds around the hills are said to have been created by the python as it circled the hills in its ceaseless search for water...
"Our find means that humans were more organized and had the capacity for abstract thinking at a much earlier point in history than we have previously assumed," Coulson said. "All of the indications suggest that Tsodilo has been known to mankind for almost 100,000 years as a very special place in the pre-historic landscape..."
I have nearly finished re-reading my college volume on Nietzsche. He, of course, wrote several times against anti-semitism, and admired the fortitude of the Jewish people, but had little patience for ignorant dogma of any kind - and his particular beef was against the Christian church. But everything he says about the priests of his time can be said about the Rabbis today, and it is worth reviewing his observations about religion versus reality. He had decided to write a four part Re-evaluation of all Values, essays, and the preface to the first was called Der Antichrist - but the title can also mean "The Anti-Christian," and it is in this vein that the tone of the piece obviously reads. The main thrust of his observations, however, apply to any religious power structure that bans scientific reality from its thought processes, and that necessarily would include modern Ultra-Orthodoxy.
Excerpts starting at section 47, interpreted in relation to Judaism instead of Christianity:
A religion like [Ultra-Orthodoxy], which does not have contact with reality at any point, which crumbles as soon as reality is conceded its rights at even a single point, must naturally be mortally hostile against the "wisdom of this world," which means science. It will applaud all means with which the discipline [of a free thinking spirit]...can be poisoned, slandered, and brought into dispute. "Faith" as an imperative is the veto against science - in practice, the lie at any price...
...Has the famous story that stands at the beginning of the Bible really been understood? The story of God's hellish fear of science? It has not been understood. This priestly book par excellence begins, as is fitting, with the great inner difficulty of the priest [Rabbi]: he knows only one great danger, and consequently "God" knows only one great danger. The old God, all "spirit," all high priest, all perfection, take a stroll in His garden, but He is bored... What does He do? He invents man - man is entertaining. But lo and behold! Man, too, is bored. [Of all created beings] only did man learn to taste from the tree of knowledge.
What had happened? The old God was seized with hellish fear. Man himself had turned out to be His greatest mistake - He had created a rival for Himself: science makes men godlike, it is all over with [Rabbis] and gods when man becomes scientific. Moral: science is forbidden as such - it alone is forbidden. Science is the first sin, the seed of all sin, the original sin. This alone is morality. "Thou shalt not know." The rest follows...
...The beginning of the Bible contains the whole psychology of the priest. The priest knows only one great danger: that is science, the sound conception of cause and effect...
...The whole "moral world order" was invented against science! Against the emancipation of man from the [Rabbi]. Man shall not look outside, he shall look into himself, he shall not look at things cleverly and cautiously, like a [real] learner, he shall not look at all! - He shall suffer. And he shall suffer in such a way that he has need of the [Rabbi] at all times...
...All straight, honest, scientific paths to knowledge must be rejected by the [Rabbinate] as forbidden paths. Even doubt is a sin... Faith means not wanting to know what is true!
...The pietist, the [Rabbi]...is false because he is sick: his instinct demands that truth not be conceded its right at any point!
...Strength, freedom which is born of the strength and overstrength of the [free] spirit, proves itself by skepticism. ...Convictions are prisons. ...The believer is not free to have any conscience at all for questions of "true" and "untrue." To have any integrity on this point at all would at once destroy him.
...By lie I mean: wishing not to see something that one does see, wishing not to see something as one sees it. The most common lie is that with which one lies to oneself. ...Now this wishing-not-to-see what one does see, this wishing-not-to-see as one sees, is almost the first condition for all who are party in any sense: of necessity, the party man becomes a liar.
...As long as the [Rabbi] is considered a higher type of man - this professional negator, slanderer, and poisoner of life - there is no answer to the question "What is truth?" For the truth has been stood on its head when the conscious advocate of nothingness and negation is accepted as the representative of "truth." ...Having sacred tasks, such as improving, saving, or redeeming mankind - carrying the deity in the bosom and being the mouthpiece of imperatives from the beyond - with such a mission a man naturally stands outside all merely intellectual valuations: he himself is sanctified by such a task! He himself is a type of a higher order! What is science to the [Rabbi]? He is above that! And until now the [Rabbi] has ruled! He determines the concepts of "true" and "untrue."
...All the methods, all the presuppositions of our current scientific outlook, were opposed for thousands of years with the most profound contempt. For their sake, men were excluded from the company of "decent" people and considered "enemies of God," despisers of the "truth," and called "possessed." Anyone with a scientific bent was an outcast...
Why? To preserve their "right" to rule the ignorant am-Yisrael, the unwashed masses, who look around them and see for themselves that there's something seriously wrong with Ultra-Orthodox Rabbinic Judaism when compared with scientific fact. There is in the Talmud numerous examples of Rabbinic writings that are supposedly "the word of God" which are so ignorant and obviously scientifically false that no reasonably intelligent person can believe God could be so stupid. [I will give some examples with specific references later, right now I don't want to try it off the top of my head, lest I cite something incorrectly.] And the truth is, God isn't that stupid, but the Rabbis are if they believe such superstitious nonsense.
For now, suffice it say that a religion or philosophy that can't deal with reality as it is proven to be is something one should be wary of. What do those who push such a philosophy hope to gain, class? What purpose does ignorance serve? Think about it.