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  • Including one (probably short-lived) link that appears to be a now-deleted blog entry, and then this [].

    (From [])

    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • Whoa. I actually knew about the investigators, but I didn't say anything because I wasn't aware it was public knowledge and I was afraid a friend of mine would get in trouble for sharing that. The story I heard is that basically they were having PIs follow him and his parents and the constant harrassment scared the heck out of them. From that blog entry, though, it sounds like a bit more may have happened. Of course, this is all conjecture and rumor, so let that disclaimer be out there.

      And not just co

      • That's organized religion

        Not necessarily. Those are hallmarks of a "cult" but not necessarily a religion.

        • How do you define 'cult' and 'religion'? Someone (Heinlein, I think?) differentiated a cult as a religion where the majority of members have joined it and a religion as being something where the majority of people are born into it. By this criteria, perhaps Scientology only has to wait?

          • Several years back there was some kind of study about religion and those personality tests you see all the time (no, not the Scientology personality test :) ). For the record, I think much of those "personality tests" may be hooey, so take this with a grain of salt: :)

            Anyway, they tested folks twice, asking them to describe themselves as they were now the first time, then asking them to describe themselves as they WANTED to be, in the future.

            Now in any given group of people you usually have a wide dist

            J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
            • That jibes with the criterion I heard and use: that in general, cults revolve around the person and personality of the founder himself.

              Scientologists worship Hubbard.

              Admittedly, this isn’t very well defined; trying to apply it to the major religions gets mired in a swamp of murky questions. F.ex., there’s little biblical evidence for Trinity, upon which depends whether Christianity is a cult by the letter of this criterion or not. Islam and (to some extent) Buddhism suffer similar confusions

              • The "word" Trinity is never used in the Bible. There is ample evidence "of" a trinity in the Bible.

                • I was not picking on words. There is ample evidence of Father and Son being separate entities.

                  • There is ample evidence of the Holy Spirit being one as well. Although I would not use separate, I would say distinct.

                    • You should read Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion". He has a very funny section on the linguistic knots that christians get themselves tied up in when trying to prove that they can believe in the trinity and still claim their religion is monotheistic :-)

                      Polytheism to monotheism to atheism. You know it makes sense.
                    • Polytheism to monotheism to atheism. You know it makes sense.

                      ... except, historically speaking, the evidence from the Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews does not support that line of thought. (Then again, try believing anything but Manichaeanism these days; people will look at you as if you'd grown a fifth leg.)

                    • If I recall correctly, it was via Asimov's research that I found out that early Jews, prior to the Babylonian captivity, were regarded as henotheists (belief in many gods with only one being worth of worship). After the captivity, they had settled on a religious structure very similar to the Babylonian dualist Mazda/Aingru-mainu belief structure (I could be misspelling that). Thus, there's at least an appearance of the Hewbrew people deciding to incorporate large portions of the Zoroastrian faith into their religion -- and the similarities between some Old Testament and Zorostrian beliefs are remarkable and this supports the idea that the former borrowed from the latter.

                      In short, they are one of many cultures which started with many gods, only to see them fall, one by one.

                    • My reading of the history suggests that Zoroastrianism was the borrower -- especially if you take the conservative dating of the book of Job to at least 960 BCE, if not earlier. If so, it's the nature of syncretic polytheism to elevate the idea of a powerful local or tribal deity into a place of power within a crowded pantheon.

                      Still, I repeat, it's amazingly difficult not to read the Manicheanist zeitgeist backwards into history. Maybe it's unfair to characterize post-Enlightenment western scholarship a