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Article ID: 6317
Age Group: Adult
Posted: May 24th. 2003
Series 06 - Six of Lies...
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." *
Well then, Max, you can just take that telescope of yours and shove it up your astro-tush. I am sick of your scientific lies. You have lost all credibility with me, bucko. I'll never buy another book or believe anything that you might ever say again. Even if you were still alive to write or say it.
It's not entirely Max Planck's fault. In fact, he had very little to do with my latest grand bout of disillusionment. But he was a scientist-mathematician after all and, taken as a group, they have all proven themselves to be quite unreliable. I feel so...so... foolish now. It all began in 1960...
I think I was in the third grade. We were studying the solar system. And this is what the scientists told us: Jupiter has 12 moons and Saturn has seven. And those cool three rings. Based upon this alleged scientific information, our class of thirty innocent children spent an entire week making a scale model of our planetary neighborhood using tennis balls, basketballs, jackstone balls and marbles. There may have been a few spitballs representing the lesser satellites in there, too. We put our little hearts and souls into that project.
And two weeks ago, I found out that it was all just one big lie. Yes, as shocking as this revelation might sound, it's true. Scientists have been abusing the trusting nature of children for years! Yes, you were lied to and your children are probably being lied to. So where is the congressional investigation on these scientific frauds taking place, that's what I want to know!
You want proof? Well, I got the proof! Check this out:
"Two astronomers surveying the region around Jupiter have detected 20 new moons, bringing the giant planet's total to 60." -- Usha Lee McFarling reporting for the Los Angeles Times on 5/17/03.
SIXTY moons? There is a big difference between sixty and twelve, isn't there? I mean, really... are we supposed to believe that the so-called greatest minds in science didn't notice that they had run out of fingers and toes while counting those things? And that's not all. Saturn now has thirty-one moons (and I think a lot more rings), Uranus twenty-one and even Neptune has eleven! These guys have a lot of explaining to do!
So I am calling on the entire Pagan community to boycott all scientific journals, universities, works and their authors. Let's expose them for the shams that they are! For the sake of our children and our children's children, we must end this madness now!
"Whoa there, Wren", you might be thinking. "Take a chill pill, girl. Scientists weren't actually lying to us. They were simply basing their premises on the information available to them at the time. New instruments have yielded new discoveries, that's all. There was no malice involved. Scientists might actually like children for all that we know. Aren't you being a little...uh... harsh?"
Well, of course I am. And you probably have already figured out where this is all going, but let's all go there anyway, shall we?
What is a "lie"? A lie according to Oxford Dictionary is an (noun) 1. intentional false statement; 2. something that deceives. (verb ) 1. tell lie(s); 2. (to) be deceptive. or (noun) 1. fabrication, falsehood, falsification, fib, fiction, invention, misrepresentation, prevarication, untruth.
Does Jupiter have 12 moons? No, Jupiter has 60 moons (so far). Was what I learned in third grade untrue? Yes, it was. One of the definitions of 'lie' is indeed 'untruth'. Does that mean then that scientists were lying when they wrote the information that made its way into my textbook? Technically and relying upon one part of the definition, yes. In reality and taking in all of the defined usage, no. There was no intentional falsehood. The scientists, as you so rightly pointed out, were merely relying upon the information available to them at that time.
Max, you are forgiven. I hereby call off the boycott. It turns out that there is no plot to intentionally deceive our young ones after all. Time, investigation, new techniques, instruments and discoveries have proven some of the original findings to be incorrect. The working theories have been adjusted. And I suppose that I can adjust my thinking along with them to include 60 moons orbiting Jupiter. You probably can, too. That happens a lot in science. We accept that scientific knowledge is progressive and that it often comes to a dead end. Theories then have to be reworked and reevaluated and rewritten. There is no crime in that.
Now if only we could adopt this same mode of rational readjustment in the Pagan communities. Let's consider some popular Pagan-related "lies":
Lie #1: Witchcraft is a religion. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. It often depends on where you live and how you practice it. Witchcraft in many parts of the world is the same thing as sorcery and it is used in the same way: to heal, to hex and often to achieve personal gain and/or benefits or to please and/or appease Gods or other entities. It is an indigenous practice closely related to cultural norms. These 'Witches' sometimes sacrifice animals or people to achieve these results. This tends to irk and vex the modern neo-Pagan type Witch to no end.
Our modern resurgence traditional Witches may or may not view witchcraft as a religion. To some it is a magickal art and a power that they have learned to harness. The only ethics are those of the Witch him/herself. Hence, the Witch as a practitioner of the magickal art could theoretically be of any religion or no religion.**
There are also Witches who do consider Witchcraft to be a religion. This is based mainly upon the belief that -- at least to him or to her -- practical application of his/her magick cannot be separated from his or her spiritual beliefs or religious foundation. Magick is performed as a spiritual exercise and primarily devoted to revering or petitioning Gods, spirits or Ancestors.
Two different types of Witchcraft; two different types of Witches. So who is lying?
Probably neither one. The witch as magickal practitioner has a long cultural and social history. The Witch as spiritual believer may be just as old. But the evidence for any ancient religion called 'Witchcraft' is just not there. Witchcraft has been practiced solely as a magickal art and has also been associated with deities or spiritual elements throughout history. Blessing and curse tablets found in Greece and Egypt contain magickal formulas and the names of the specific Gods/Goddesses being petitioned to 'make it so'. Blessing and curse tablets have also been found that contain no references to any deity at all.
A simple example: Two Witches each light a candle. One Witch considers the timing of his/her spell and perhaps the color of the candle and of course, the intent of the action. He/she is utilizing magick. The other Witch lights a candle and does all of the other things that the first Witch does, but also invokes/names/ dedicates the spell to/for/via a God or Goddess (or several). He/she is performing a religious/spiritual rite. Neither one is lying about what 'Witchcraft/witchcraft' is or how it is used although each may not necessarily grant the other sort of 'Witch' such courtesies.
Wicca is a modern neo-Pagan religion and its practitioners may or may call themselves 'Witches' and may or may not practice magick in any or all of its various forms.
Which brings us to...
Lie #2-6: Take Your Pick and Place Your Choice Here. And don't forget to blame it on the Pagan authors of yesteryear. Or yesterday. Much of what was published in the 'early days' of the 50's, 60's and 70's as the truth about witchcraft and its origins does not hold up today. The number of victims executed during 'The Burning Times', how many -- or if any -- actual 'Witches' were amongst those victims and even the theories on what motivated the persecutions themselves have all undergone radical revisions in the last few years. Were the Pagan authors then who wrote books using the 'old' facts lying?
No. They weren't lying. (Most of them anyway.) They were simply using -- much like our scientist friends -- the information that they had at the time to formulate their theories. And many of those theories have fallen by the wayside in light of new archaeological and/or cultural studies. They were not 'lying' (most of them) any more than the scientists who had me convinced that Jupiter had 12 moons were lying. But they were mistaken and -- if they are still around -- they should say so.
Discovering that one's pet theory is incorrect -- while painful and perhaps a bit embarrassing -- is no crime in the scientific community. It happens. It happens a lot actually. But we do not take such errors to be intentional lies and we do not cast all of science and scientists out into the wilderness forever because they made a wrong assumption. With one exception.
If a theory has been thoroughly disproved and/or debunked, it must be discarded. At least in its present form. For a scientist -- or a Pagan -- to cling to theories that have been proven to be wrong by a preponderance of newly available or discovered evidence and research indeed is to invite censure. To continue to tout as truth a theory that has been proven not to be founded upon facts, then does indeed open the door to charges of lying. Or fraud. Or deception. Or all of the above.
The remedy is simple: If you were wrong, admit it. If you published or taught wrong information -- even though you believed it to be true at one time -- stop pushing it. Publish a revised version of that book. Rewrite those essays. Make it a mission to actively work on getting your revisions out there. So you were wrong. So what? As long as you did not act -- or write -- with the aim to intentionally mislead or harm, then you can amend the material. And we can probably make the adjustment. We probably already have.
And since we certainly do not yet know everything about our Pagan past -- nor where our Pagan future may lead us -- our present day authors should probably try not to appear too smug. They, too, may one day need to revise their works. It happens. It's the chance that we take when we dare to work with what we know today and it is the challenge that we will encounter if we are to remain open to whatever possibilities may come tomorrow.
No, we do not know everything that happened in the past. And we cannot know -- good as many of us are at that sort of thing -- everything that will occur in the future. But I think we do know and we are sure of this one thing: If Paganism (or Witchcraft or Wicca or any other related path) is to have a future...
It cannot be based upon lies.
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, May 26th., 2003
* Max Planck
**How the Witch will reconcile religious beliefs (if any) with the practice of magick would depend on that religion's teachings on the matter and the Witch's own abilities to integrate those religious teachings with magickal practices.
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