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웃 last won the day on August 24 2011

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  1. I didn't know this. Maybe you knew it was plagiarized from another civilization? Below story is from Dawkin's latest book: The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True ---------------------------------------------------- The epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest stories ever written. Older than the legends of the Greeks or the Jews, it is the ancient heroic myth of the Sumerian civilization, which flourished in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago. Gilgamesh was the great hero king of Sumerian myth - a bit like King Arthur in British legends, in that nobody knows whether he actually existed, but lots of stories were told about him. Like the Greek hero Odysseus (Ulysses) and the Arabian hero Sinbad the Sailor, Gilgamesh went on epic travels, and he met many strange things and people on his journeys. One of them was an old man (a very, very old man, centuries old) called Utnapashtim, who told Gilgamesh a strange story about himself. Well, it seemed strange to Gilgamesh, but it may not seem so strange to you because you have probably heard a similar story...about another old man with a different name. Utnapashtim told Gilgamesh of an occasion, many centuries earlier, when the gods were angry with humankind because we made so much noise they couldn't sleep. The chief god, Enlil, suggested that they should send a great flood to destroy everybody, so the gods could get a good night's rest. But the water god, Ea, decided to warn Utnapashtim. Ea told Uttnapashtim to tear down his house and build a boat. It would have to be a very big boat, because Utnapashtim was to take into it 'the seed of all living creatures'. Utnapashtim built the boat just in time, before it rained for six days and six nights without stopping. The flood that followed drowned everybody and everything that was not safely inside the boat. On the seventh day the wind dropped and the waters grew calm and flat. Utnapashtim opened a hatch in the tightly sealed boat and released a dove. The dove flew away, looking for land, but failed to find and and returned. Then Utnapashtim released a swallow, but the same thing happened. Finally Utnapashtim released a raven. The raven didn't come back, which suggested to Utnapashtim that there was dry land somewhere and the raven had found it. Eventually the boat came to rest on a mountaintop poking out of the water. Another god, Ishtar, created the first rainbow, as a token of the gods' promise to send no more terrible floods. So that is how the rainbow came into being, according to the ancient legend of the Sumerians. Well, I said the story would be familiar. All children reared in Christian, Jewish, or Islamic countries will immediately recognize that it is the same as the more recent story of Noah's Ark, with one or two minor differences. The name of the boat-builder changes from Utnapashtim to the Noah. The many gods of the older legend turn into the one god of the Jewish story. The 'seed of all living creatures' becomes spelled out as 'every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort' - or, as the song has it, 'the animals went in two by two' - and the Epic of Gilgamesh surely meant something similar. In fact, it is obvious that the Jewish story of Noah is nothing more than a retelling of the older legend of Utnapashtim. It was a folk tale that got passed around, and it travelled down the centuries. We often find that seemingly ancient legends have come from even older legends, usually with some names or other details changed. And this one, in both versions, ends with the rainbow. In both the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Book of Genesis, the rainbow is an important part of the myth. Genesis specifies that it was actually God's bow, which he put up in the sky as a token of his promise to Noah and his descendants. There is one more difference between the Noah story and the earlier Sumerian tale of Utnapashtim. In the Noah version, the reason for God's discontent with humans was that we were all incurably wicked. In the Sumerian story, humanity's crime was, you might think, less serious. We simply made so much noise the gods couldn't get to sleep! I think it's funny. And the theme of noisy humans keeping the gods awake crops up, quite independently, in the legend of the Chumash people of Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of California. The Chumash people believed that they were created on their island (it obviously wasn't called Santa Cruz then, because that is a Spanish name) from the seeds of a magic plant by the Earth goddess Hutash, who was married to the Sky Snake (what we know as the Milky Way). The people of the island became very numerous, and, just as in the Epic of Gilgamesh, too noisy for the goddess Hutash's comfort. The racket kept her awake all night. But instead of killing them all, like the Sumerian and Jewish gods, Hutash was kinder. She decided that some of them must move off Santa Cruz, onto the mainland where she wouldn't be able to hear them. So she made a bridge for them to cross by. And the bridge was...yes, the rainbow! The myth has a strange ending. As the people were crossing over the rainbow bridge, some of the noisy ones looked down - and they were so frightened by the drop that they got dizzy. They fell off the rainbow into the sea, where they turned into dolphins. The idea of the rainbow as a bridge crops up in other mythologies, too. In old Norse (Viking) myths, rainbows were seen as fragile bridges used by the gods to travel from the sky world to earth. Many peoples, for example in Persia, west Africa, Malaysia, Australia and the Americas, have seen the rainbow as a large snake which soars out of the ground to drink the rain. How do all these legends start, I wonder? Who makes them up, and why do some people eventually come to believe these things really happened? These questions are fascinating and not easy to answer. But there's one question we can answer; what is a rainbow really? ---------------------------------------------------- Rainbow = http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/atmospheric/question41.htm Two interesting things. One, you are gonna believe in the myths of the religion you are brought up in. So for example, a mere 500 years ago when the Aztecs were at the height of their power. You'd be eager to please the sun god (the fifth sun god cause the other 4 had previously died by this time). He loved blood. And he wanted human sacrifices or else he wouldn't rise in the morning. They'd have 4 priests take a human to the top of a pyramid. And the fifth priest would work as fast as possible to cut out his heart. You see he had to work very fast because Huitzilopochtil (his name) loved still-beating hearts! The Greeks worshipped a sun god called Helios. They thought the sun was Helios driving a chariot across the sky! "Here is one of many origin myths from India. Before the beginning of time there was a great dark ocean of nothingness, with a giant snake coiled up on the surface. Sleeping in the coils of the snake was Lord Vishnu. Eventually Lord Vishnu was awakened by a deep humming sound from the bottom of the ocean of nothingness, and a lotus plant grew out of his navel. In the middle of the lotus flower sat Brahma, Vishnu's servant. Vishnu commanded Brahma to create the world. So Brahma did just that. No problem! And all living creatures too, while he was about it. Easy!" "Here's a typical origin myth, from a group of Tasmanian aborigines. A god called Moinee was defeated by a rival god called Dromerdeener in a terrible battle up in the stars. Moinee fell out of the stars down to Tasmania to die. Before he died, he wanted to give a last blessing to his final resting place, so he decided to create humans. But he was in such a hurry, knowing he was dying, that he forgot to give them knees; and (no doubt distracted by his plight) he absent-mindedly gave them big tails like kangaroos, which meant they couldn't sit down. Then he died. The people hated having kangaroo tails and no knees, and they cried out to the heavens for help. The mighty Dromerdeener, who was still roaring around the sky on his victory parade, heard their cry and came down to Tasmania to see what the matter was. He took pity on the people, gave them bendable knees and cut off their inconvenient kangaroo tails so they could all sit down at last; and they lived happily ever after." The Norse of Scandinavia (Vikings) turned tree trunks into the first man (Ask) and the other tree trunk into the first woman (Embla). ------------------------ These are just some examples, although there are thousands more. The second point is there are no myths about bacteria, atoms, molecules. Why you ask? Because the primitive people that created all of these myths were terrible in science! They didn't know something as barely visible as a dust mite contains more than 100 trillion atoms! So it is pretty easy to see why there are no religious fairy tales made up about things that require a microscope. The myths of these primitive species (as I like to say - at the time their intelligence was at a record low and superstition at a record high) are about things like: the sun, the first humans, rainbows, lightening, the sky. Why we have seasons, night and day. Really primitive basic 4th grade level science that has all been fully explained.
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