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This week, we discussed the recent CIA Torture Report, Bart Ehrman's Jesus, Interrupted, what we do and don't know about early Christianity, and more.The CIA Torture Report has been a source of much contention in the media and high-up political circles. Listen as we survey the various points of view bandied about: from those who would seek to excuse the criminal and psychopathic methods of the CIA, to others who recognize it as one more attempt to make the American public complicit in its government's machinations.

In the second part of the show, we examine early Christianity: our common historic understanding of who Jesus was and what he did next to the actual facts that much of the Church knows of - and why those facts aren't generally known and understood by those who consider themselves Christian.

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Running Time: 01:22:00

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript:

Harrison: Okay. Can everyone hear us now? Hello. Welcome. Sorry for the technical difficulties there. This is the second week of the Truth Perspective and today we're going to be doing a bit of a two-part show. First of all talking about the recently released CIA torture report from the Senate investigation and then we're going to get into a bit about early Christianity and maybe even find some connections between the two. So just as a little bit of an aside, we are experiencing some technical difficulties, so if anything crops up and if you can't hear us or anything, just let us know in the chat room and we will do our best to fix things. Next week hopefully we'll have it all ironed out and we'll start out fresh and with better quality sound. But until then we're just going to have to make do with what we've got.

To start out, like I said, the Senate torture report on the CIA, enhanced interrogation techniques. Today joining us we have SOTT editors Elan, Tiffany and William and I am your host as usual, Harrison Koelhi.

Group: Hello everyone.

Harrison: Yeah, say hi. So first off, background information. What's up with this CIA report? Anybody?

William: Well it's intriguing on the timing of it being brought out now. It seems to be there must be some sort of agenda for it to come out. I'm not clear as to why now. This has been going on for over a decade. That's the big question in my mind.

Harrison: Well just to give a little bit of background, of course the whole situation that led to this report was the CIA torture program which was developed after September 11th with the ostensible purpose of interrogating suspects in connection with the attack and gaining intelligence to find all those evildoers that were connected in some way. This became a bit of an issue in years afterwards as details leaked and emerged. In 2008 the ball kind of got rolling when 56 democrats called for an independent investigation. It was only the next year, 2009 that the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to conduct an investigation. So that's the investigation that has just been released. It was completed I believe in 2012, at least that's when the report was approved in that form. So it's been about a year-and-a-half, two years since then.

Of course the full report is 6,000 pages or more, culled from millions of documents and memos and emails allegedly. What we have, which was released, was the 540 page summary which lists some of the main conclusions of the senate investigation and a lot of the details. And even those 540 pages in my mind are damning enough. Of course it would be interesting to see what else is contained in the full report. But as for what is in this report and what we know, again not too many surprises. If you've been paying attention to what's going on and if you've been reading the news and even if you have any kind of idea of how the CIA operates, nothing in this report should come as a surprise.In fact it's kind of lightweight when looked at from the larger perspective of the entire history of the CIA and what we know they do.

So do you have anything to add, Tiffany on this instruction?

Tiffany: Well, when the report came out and they acted like this was something new, like the CIA just did this after 2001, so the CIA released the training manuals back in 1983 called the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual and it starts out with the prohibition against using force against people because they know it has unreliable results. It can lead to prosecution and adverse publicity. But they said it's okay to use psychological ploys and verbal tricking and non-violent and non-coercive means to get information from people. But then in that same report they go on and explain that coercive techniques are bad, but they're going to go ahead and explain the proper way to use them so they can avoid using them. (laughter)

So torture is not new. It's not something that the CIA just embarked upon after 9/11. And even if you take the CIA out of it, torture is not new. You can go all the way back to medieval times and putting people on the rack and thumb screws and all the things that they did back then. So torture isn't anything that's a new invention, catch the 19 terrorists who conduct after 9/11.

Harrison: Well with this specifically and the torture program that was specifically developed in this context and what was revealed in the report, if we look at some of the techniques that have been used, like it said they have been called "enhanced interrogation" and that includes such things as waterboarding, beatings to the point of - anything from open-handed slaps to full-on beatings that result in broken limbs and sleep deprivation, a word that I had never heard of before, probably medical experts have ever of this, but forced "rectal rehydration" which is a method of inserting nutrients through the rectum, even when it's not medically suggested, not medically required; the use of insects.

Apparently locking these guys in rooms with insects, I guess that's one of the techniques. Mock burials; putting the subjects in diapers; some were left hanging by their wrists in so-called stress positions, even if they had a broken limbs. So they were left to stand for hours on end with broken feet or legs or suspended from the ceiling in chains with broken arms or hands. Not only that, also the use of hypothermia. So keeping the temperature of the cells or wherever they're being kept at a low temperature and then dowsing them with cold water. Some of the guys there showed signs of anal rape using whatever kind of objects. You'd probably get an idea of what they were using by going back to Abu Ghraib and some of the stories coming out of there.

So that's the kind of things that have been going on and probably not so much a coincidence, they call it "enhanced interrogation. They don't call it torture. Everyone knows it's torture. But "enhanced interrogation" where does that word come from? Well as far as historians can tell the first use of that word was in German and it was in a manual written by the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. They used the word "enhanced interrogation". And some of the techniques that they prescribed in there included cold exposure, blows and kicks to the body, stress positions, sleep deprivation. Now the interesting thing about this Gestapo report is that they did not allow things like waterboarding and they had mentioned cold exposure but initially they didn't allow hypothermia. Later on that crept in and they used it.

But these are the exact same techniques that the CIA is using. The CIA is basically working from the Gestapo handbook and it's not only using the same terminology, "enhanced interrogation", but the exact same techniques. How is that for a connection? The CIA, the United States government is using the same torture techniques for the same purposes even, as Nazi Germany, the Gestapo.

Tiffany: Like psychopathic wisdom passed down through the generations.

Harrison: It's mindboggling.

Elan: Then the question becomes what is this enhanced interrogation really designed to do? We know that we don't get good information from torture. That's already been shown by other branches in the military who've analyzed it. So what you really have is organized terror. You have a population who hears about these techniques being employed on so-called suspected terrorists, and becoming terrified of these acts.

Harrison: That reminded me of one other thing that came out in this report. In addition to all the so-called techniques they used, the torture methods, there are several cases of threatening the inmates with death, threatening to rape or murder their mothers and their families. This is terrorism. That's exactly what it's designed for, to instill terror into these people. And not only that, when we get to the motivations for it, the program was developed by these two air force, I believe, psychologists. Their firm was basically paid $80 million or something and the government paid $5 million in law fees. There was an interview with one of these guys, that Vice produced, that was his first public appearance in relation to this because he had been linked to torture for years but there has never been any kind of official confirmation and he hasn't been interviewed about it.

So Vice interviewed this guy and even he admitted that the program wasn't even developed to get any kind of useful information. In his words it was developed to break down - he didn't use the word "break down" - but it was developed to break down the subjects using a kind of 'good cop/bad cop' where the torturer would essentially show the guys a bad cop, how bad they could be, and that would loosen them up so that the good cop could come in and then establish the rapport and gain some intelligence.

Now of course that's not exactly how it works, as we can see from Kali Sheik Mohammed who basically admitted to every crime committed in the last 100 years under torture. So to say that on the one hand that torture doesn't produce good intelligence, which it doesn't, and then we have the example of that, proof of that. It produced all this bad intelligence. And then to say "Oh, it was actually developed for the interrogators to gather intelligence. Well even that's falls through because they didn't get any good intelligence. And that was one of the conclusions from this report.

Tiffany: One of the arguments that they made is that the interrogation techniques they were using before the enhanced interrogation techniques weren't getting the results they wanted. So therefore they had to step it up a notch. But it came out that they were pursuing these techniques in torture before they even had any prisoners at Gitmo. So that tells me that the whole purpose of these techniques is not to gain intelligence. It's just to satisfy the sadistic wing of the CIA and give these guys who like to torture people something to do. That's there thing. That's what they want to do and they need a place to do it so why not do it at Gitmo or any other black site that's around the world.

Harrison: Exactly. Who tortures people? Sadly, some people may not be aware. We are, we talk about it all the time, that there is a relatively large group of people on this planet that enjoy making people suffer, watching them suffer. They enjoy it. So who do you get to torture people? Well obviously you're going to get someone who enjoys it, that doesn't have a problem with it. This is an outlet for them.

I'm reading a book right now by Sibel Edmonds. She's the FBI whistleblower that came out several years ago talking about the connections between Al Qaeda, the state department and some shady things going on there. But she wrote a novel inspired by all these actual events in which she really tried to relate her book on it. There were several gag orders against her, but she found out that you can pretty much say anything you want if you call it fiction. So she did publish one book on her story and her career as a whistleblower. But in this book it's kind of a fictionalized account that goes into a whole lot more detail, using fictional names, but you can kind of mix and match and figure out who's who.

But one of the points she makes in the book is that the CIA looks for psychopaths. She said that explicitly, that they look for psychopaths because they know that psychopaths are the ones that can torture people. They can kill people on a whim, suffer no remorse from it and can just carry out the job and that these are the guys that become these black ops people that commit assassinations, they engage in blackmail and torture.

It makes sense if you look at the history of the CIA. The CIA has a history of killing people, assassinating people. Now these things aren't public. They don't even exist in a way that you can get definite confirmation of them, but everyone knows they happen. Do you really think that some CIA, some agent that goes out and tortures a guy to death and then dumps his body, is going to file a report that is then picked up by some senate intelligence committee and then they write a report on it and take it to the White House? It's just not going to happen. It's ridiculous to think that that's going to happen.

So the fact that we've got this report, is a limited hangout. They've got this program, which is a very minor program considering what actually goes on. And when you look at the Nazi Gestapo enhanced interrogation, they explicitly said that this was for a specific purpose and that purpose was for when they wanted to extract information or torture people and not leave marks, basically. They wanted to be able to do it and then if they didn't end up killing the person, set them free, there would be very little evidence. This would be kind of like a small internal matter for outing people and getting intelligence. At least that's the purpose they set for it.

So on top of this, of course there's stuff even worse than this going on all the time. You can get into things like false flag terrorism and the black ops that go on constantly on this planet. So this is just the tip of the iceberg. For anyone that's shocked by this, they really haven't been paying attention in the past 60 years.

Tiffany: Do they think these torturers sit down with their secretaries and they dictate a list of everything that they did to this guy and they submit a report? These guys are just going wild on these people and doing whatever they want and they get away with it.

Harrison: Yeah, killing people, torturing them, threatening their families. Oh my god.

Tiffany: So what they wrote about, I think a lot of it is to scare people and to show their power. I don't think it's even half of what they truly do.

Elan: On another level completely, it's just interesting to consider the Fox News discussion about this whole report was pretty interesting. Some pundits were saying that this was politically motivated and it was after 9/11 and we had to do what we had to do. But I think there's a whole other kind of question to this whole subject and that is the individual choice in hearing these stories, to decide for themselves whether or not this was "justified". (bad audio) a kind of acquiescence that people will give to this story to what is essentially just really evil behaviour. So I think on some level the conscience of people who are aware of this story, or choosing not to be aware, choosing to be ignorant, is being tested. And it's kind of reflects on who they are and what they're allowing where we live.

Harrison: Speaking of people's different responses and some of the things that have come out in the media, we've got a couple of clips here from a recent Fox News program. I know we all love Fox News, right?

Tiffany: Fox News is awesome!

Harrison: Yeah. So these first couple of clips were aired recently. This is from the so-called Fox News national security analyst KT McFarland. Now she was deputy assistant secretary of defence for public affairs under President Reagan and after she lost either a congressional or senate position, she went on to spout spin for Fox News. So the reporter has just asked her about the timing of the release and here's what she had to say:
Reporter: The report is now saying the intelligence didn't really help. These enhanced interrogation techniques didn't really take us anywhere. There are plenty of folks saying 'yes they did' and they're pointing to specific instances of where those interrogations actually led to actionable intelligence. Your take.

McFarland: Well the report is making two claims: one, what was done was illegal. No it wasn't! The legal advice at the time to the Americans who were conducting these investigation was 'yeah, it is legal'. And as you point out, it was done in the aftermath of September 11. I watched those twin towers come down. I live in New York. We assumed there was another attack coming imminently.
Harrison: (laughing) Yeah, that was a different clip. But basically what she said was "Oh there was an imminent attack after 9/11 so of course we did this". So first of all they had legal advice, so this was totally legal. What planet is this woman living on? It's legal because some people told the CIA that it was legal. No it was not legal! It never was! That's why what's-his-name came up with the justifications for torture.

Elan: Gonzales?

Harrison: But then John Yoo there was his memo where he basically told Bush that everything was alright. The thing about law is that if you write the laws and then say something's legal of course you can say that it's legal. But this was some really shady legal argument going on there. So it's not that if you get legal advice and someone tells you "okay you can get away with this" that it's necessarily legal. It's ridiculous.

Tiffany: It's certainly not moral.

Harrison: No, exactly. And that's what this really comes down to, is it's not a matter of if the intelligence you get is accurate or not. So let's say that we got plenty of good intelligence for it. So does that mean that the US will become a country that is okay with torture because we got good intelligence out of it? Okay, so then fine. Go ahead America. You can go down in history as the Ted Bundy of nations. That's perfectly okay, but just be aware that that's what you are and that's what you've become and if you agree with that fine, but that's your choice if you want to get behind stuff like that.

Let's go on to the second part of her answer here. Okay, here we go.

The second thing is were these - what was the intelligence gathered? Was it effective? Look, we had three former directors of the CIA, deputy directors of the CIA, people involved in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, they have all said that they got a lot of intelligence from this. So it was legal, it was effective. Why go after it now unless the motivation is completely political.

Harrison: (laughing) Exactly. So it's political. That's the only reason that we're going after this. It has nothing to do with ethics and transparency and letting the American people know what's being done in their name. It's a matter of politics. Let's just do it now. In a sense she's kind of right, right?

Tiffany: From her point of view, from the psychopathic point of view, for all the sheeple out there who believe the official story of 9/11 won't have any trouble swallowing what she says.

Harrison: From her perspective I think she's totally wrong because she's trying to dismiss the torture of course because of its politicization and she's saying that the motivations are political behind it, it has nothing to do with what's really going on. But in a sense she is right because is this really going to change anything?

Tiffany: No.

Harrison: Is this representative of what's really going on and still going on? One of the take home messages from this report is that the torture program has stopped, right? We're not doing this anymore. There's no mention of the fact that this is standard operating procedure. It's not like this is the only instance of torture in history. This is one specific example and it was one program developed by these two guys. And back to that Advice interview, even then he said that the CIA probably has other interrogation programs. He doesn't know about them. This is just the one that he developed. Well, he didn't even admit that. He's under a nondisclosure agreement so he couldn't confirm or deny that he was directly involved in developing the program.

But moving on, after KT McFarland's there is another show on Fox News that aired. This is a show out-numbered, hosted by Andrea Tantaros. And if you thought KT McFarland was bad, wait until we get to Andrea. But first, this is kind of like a round table discussion on this program. So the first guy that you're going to hear is Fox correspondent Jesse Watters. This is a short little clip so just take a listen to this.
Do the American people have a right to know? Jessie, your thoughts.

Jessie: I don't want to know about it. I think people do nasty things in the dark especially after a terrorist attack.
Harrison: Okay "I don't want to know about it".

Tiffany: I just want to keep my head in the sand.

Elan: And you should too.

Harrison: Yeah. People do a lot of nasty things in the dark during a terrorist attack and I don't want to hear about it. Wow!

Elan: Classic authoritarian thinking. Leave it up to the CIA. They know what they're doing.

Tiffany: We have everything control. Don't worry.

Harrison: Don't worry. Don't tell me about it.

Tiffany: Just keep watching Dancing With the Stars. We'll take care of it.

Harrison: Okay, this is just too much fun, so we're going to listen to Jesse again.
Jesse: To say that this is about transparency at the CIA? The democrats didn't care about transparency when they were destroying hard drives at the IRS, so I'm just not buying it.

Harrison: Oh well what can you say? Jesse's an idiot. Okay, now this is where it gets interesting. Andrea Tantaros. Some of our listeners have probably heard this already because it's kind of gone viral on the internet. Jon Stewart has had a little statement on it, I think Russell Brand even, it just deserves to be heard in all its American glory.
Tantaros: Sunlight at the CIA? I'm sorry that's one place I don't need sunlight. I don't think they need to give me a lot of transparency at the CIA. Look, thousands of Americans were killed after 9/11, the Bush administration did what the American public wanted, and that was do whatever it takes to keep us safe. These terror tactics have been stopped because as a country we decided we are better than this. So we stopped them, which is my point. Then why are we putting out this memo? We've had this discussion. We've had this debate. And it's not about democracy now. No, no. It's about politics. It's about democrats being so fundamentally lost as a party Harris, they have to return to an old play book, the plays that they ran right when Obama got into office, trying to prosecute CIA officials for these terror tactics and that same play book that they feel got them the house of representatives back, even under Tom DeLay's electoral mouth, they were screaming about this. It's how they were winning elections. They have nothing else to talk about and they don't want to talk about Gruber or health care or the IRS or anything else.
Harrison: Yeah, the IRS, Gruber, health care, that's all vastly more important than the fact that Americans torture people. Did you notice in her little rant there that she referred to the enhanced interrogation as terror tactics. I don't know if this was deliberate on her part or not but she says "You know, we've stopped these terror tactics because the country realizes...". She essentially called the American government, the CIA, a terrorist organization for using these terror tactics. And she does it twice. I can't remember if there were two in that clip but there's one in the next one. But I just thought that was a nice little slip, that in there she admits the CIA uses terror tactics.

But on with Andrea. We're getting to the good stuff right here.
Tantaros: And look, I agree with you. The United States of America is awesome. We are awesome. But we've had this discussion. We've closed the book on it and we've stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we're not awesome. They apologize for this country. They don't like this country. They want us to look bad and all this does is have our enemies laughing at us.
Harrison: (laughing) "All this does is have our enemies laughing at us." Because America really is awesome and the only thing motivating these people publishing this report is just how not awesome we are. Right?

Tiffany: Are we 12 years old? Arguing about who is awesome and who is not awesome.

Harrison:m: (laughter) Apparently. That's what viewers of Fox News think. Well that's what Fox News wants people to think.

Tiffany: I guess they do have to fill the air and have bills to pay. So that's saying something, no matter how stupid.

Harrison: I think we've had enough of Andrea, but search the clips out because there's some more good stuff on there, coming from Jesse again and then some more from Andrea. And you know I wasn't sure they could fit this in or not, but they did. They essentially ended up blaming Russia. I'll play that clip just so you can hear it. It's a short one.
Tantaros: really should be that the horrific abuse of women and children in the Middle East and what North Korea is doing to its citizens and what Russia - how it continues to abuse its citizens to this day.
Harrison: "What we should really be talking about is not the fact that we torture people, but the fact that Russia mistreats its citizens. How horrible is that?" I laughed when I heard that; a report into the use of torture by the CIA and somehow they managed to fit in blaming Russia and saying that we should really be talking about Russia instead because Russia is so bad. We shouldn't be talking about things that are wrong with America, things that we've done in the past, things that we're not doing anymore. We should be talking about the real issues in the world, like Russia.

Tiffany: It's a classic case of deflection. "Let's not pay attention to that. Let's talk about something else."

William: I'd like to bring in something that Ron Paul caught my eye on, something he just wrote recently. It's one thing that people argue that they shouldn't have their feet broken or to stand and be cuffed to a wall as opposed to rectal force feeding and condemned waterboarding the detainee 50 or 100 times. Yeah, most people do reject that kind of torture. But that's not the only kind of torture. Isn't torture when you go to a wedding in Pakistan and watch your family get blown up by a US drone? Is it not torture when your water treatment plant is bombed by NATO planes seeking to overthrow Gaddafi? And torture is also for the parents of 500,000 Iraqi children who were killed by US sanctions on this pre-emptive war, knowing that thousands of civilians are sure to be collateral damage. Is that not in support of torture?

And he makes a great point. The consistent anti-torture position would also reject sanctions, humanitarian interventions, regime change and pre-emptive war. Anything less is missing the whole point. We should all be more than just disgusted and ashamed. This all has to be put to a stop. We have to bring humanity back into our daily lives and into politics.

Harrison: Yeah, I can't add anything to that. That kind of proves KT McFarland's point that this is really all politics, right? Because all these things that you said William, are torture.

William: Right.

Harrison: And they're mass torture and it's serial murder, what's going on. Serial murder and torture.

Tiffany: It's stripping people of their humanity.

Harrison: And that's the purpose of it. That's why people torture people; to demean them, to humiliate them, to stamp out whatever actual humanity exists on the planet. It happened to several different people, types of people, groups of people. People in general who were in the wrong place at the wrong time because at least 26 of the 119 people listed as being tortured in this report, that were listed as being held, incarcerated, more than 50 of these people were wrongfully arrested and then tortured for (bad audio)
Clip from Good Will Hunting
NSA: So the way I see it, the question isn't why should you work for the NSA. The question is why shouldn't you?
Will Hunting: Why shouldn't I work for the NSA. That's a tough one. But I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at the NSA and somebody puts a code on my desk, something no one else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it and I'm real happy with myself 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East and once they have that location they bomb the village where the rebels are hiding. Fifteen hundred people that I never met, never had no problem with get killed. Now the politicians are saying "Oh send in the marines to secure the area" because they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there getting shot just like it wasn't them when their number got called because they were off pulling a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie over there taking shrapnel in the ass. He comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from and the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job because he'll work for 15 cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so that we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies use a little skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain't helping my buddy at $2.50 a gallon. They're taking their sweet time bringing the oil back of course. Maybe they even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fucking play slalom with the icebergs. It ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work, he can't afford to drive so he's walking to the fucking job which sucks because the shrapnel in his ass is giving him chronic hemorrhoids and meanwhile he's starving because every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they're serving is North Atlantic squab with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holding out for something better. I figure fuck it. While I'm at it, why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard. I could be elected President.
Sharon: Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?
Professor: Well, why is America the greatest...
It's not the greatest country in the world professor. That's my answer.
Professor: You're saying...
Professor: Let's talk about...
Fine. Sharon, the NEA is a loser. It accounts for a penny out of our pay check, but he gets to hit you with it any time he wants. It doesn't cost money. It costs votes. It's costs air time and column inches. You know why people don't like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so goddamn always?
Sharon: Hey.
And with a straight face you're going to tell students that America is so star spangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom. Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. So 207 sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom. And yeah you, sorority girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there's some things you should know. One of them is there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labour force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita; number of adults who believe...
Harrison: Okay, we're back. Sorry about that. It's been a heck of a day with technical issues. We actually lost our internet connection there for a while, but we were just finishing up on talking about the torture. Basically the concluding point is simply that this is a time to choose and show what you really think and basically if you have any humanity or not. The use for torturing people or don't you. That's really what it comes down to. Do you have a conscience? Do you think it is worth it to demean, humiliate and obliterate a person in such a way, for whatever purpose? That's what it comes down to.

But we are going to move on to part 2 of our show and sitting with me now in the studio we've got a house full of people here just waiting to talk about things. We have Larry.

Larry: Hi.

Harrison: Karyn.

Karyn: Howdy.

Harrison: And Adam.

Adam: Hey y'all.

Harrison: And now we're going to be moving on to a related topic, because we're talking about control systems and torture and killing people and what better way to exemplify all those things than an institution like religion, specifically Christianity which has a history of torturing people. You can even search online for some of the medieval torture implements used. And you'll see a nice beautiful crucifix attached to those..

Adam: The wonderful hand clamps.

Harrison: Yeah, the hand clamps.

Tiffany: Yeah, X marks the spot.

Harrison: Christianity, what can we say? What do we know about it? We know that it's one of the biggest religions in the world. It's been around for a long time. Million, billions of people profess themselves to be Christians. Yet when we examine the document that they turn to as holy scripture, things are not quite as we think they are. (bad audio) several books ... bible texts and different variants and manuscripts and there are guys that spend their entire lives comparing wordings and the shapes of different letters used in the Greek script, all kinds of conclusions about them. But we're going to be talking a little bit, just to use them as kind of a jumping off point to talk a bit about Christianity and the early role.

First, to get a little bit of an idea on, from our hosts here, on their history and how Christianity fits into their lives, so where they come from. I'll start with Adam. So Adam tell us a little bit about yourself and where you come from.

Adam: My background was born and raised southern Baptist my whole life. I was forced to attend every church service that there was for my church up until I was 20. So it was very fundamentalist, almost like you see on Joe Ogle's scene, how they had all the bibles in their right hand and say "This is the infallible word of god and it is completely inerrant and everything in it is the truth". It's mind-boggling after having examined some of the texts from some bible scholars that "No, it's not infallible". But that's what people believe (bad audio).

Harrison: What about you Larry? Are you a firm believer?

Larry: I was. (sound gap)

Harrison: Okay, more technical difficulties. Let's see what's going on. We are connected. We're just going to try logging...

Tiffany: We're back.

Harrison: Oh, we're back? We're good, okay.

Tiffany: It's a miracle!

Harrison: Thank you Jesus! (laughter)

Adam: Praise the lord.

Harrison: So I guess Adam when you turned 20 it was kind of like "Okay, I'm out of here", right?

Adam: Yeah. I was pretty much done with it. I tried to stay friends with some of the people but there was no having any kind of conversations with them because it always eventually came back to the religion and so I just had to cut ties and move on.

Harrison: Well me personally, I've come from a totally different background. I was raised roman catholic but when I think back about my religious education, one, I never read the bible. I had no interest in reading the bible. I had to go to church every Sunday, but I'd just dissociate and doze off during the sermon. So I knew next to nothing about what it was to be a catholic. I said my prayers every night though. That was the extent of it. We never really had a super hard-core religious overtone in our family or anything like that. So for me (audio issues again) notions about what was going on because I'd never really had that need to believe in the bible. So when I started reading books like this, like Bart Ehrman's. It was just kind of interesting. I was like "Okay, that's how it works." But I never really went through that crisis of faith. What about you guys?

Karyn: My parents were spiritualists. That kind of faded into the background as I got to be five or six years old. They sent me to the Methodist Sunday School. That was fun. You got to (audio). So by the time I was 14, 15 I viewed religion as a crutch and it was a crutch I felt that I could overcome. I didn't need it. It wasn't scientific. So I kind of let it go.

Larry: My background's very similar to the last two, both you and nothing serious. My parents exposed the three kids to Sunday school, very similar, but very little indoctrination and when we got old enough to refuse to go, they didn't stand up.

Harrison: Good, yeah. Same here. So we're coming from very specific points of view and backgrounds. So keep our biases in mind as you're listening! But what strikes me is that the entire time I went to church, the interesting thing that comes up in this book is that I wasn't aware of a whole lot of stuff that apparently is common knowledge on the history and study bible, especially among preachers and pastors. They learn all this stuff, but they don't tell it to any of us going to church.

Adam: Same here. The entire 20 years I was there I had read the bible I think twice.

Harrison: Good job.

Adam: (laughter) Yeah.

Karyn: Twice.

Adam: And none of the contradictions really stood out to me because when I read it, it was more "this is truth, this is completely inerrant." I think starting out with the idea that it is completely inerrant and infallible then blinds me to seeing any contradictions as contradictions.

Larry: Because they're not really taught that way.

Adam: Yeah exactly.

Larry: So all the stories, I think Ehrman makes a good point, all the different books, most all of them have a different message. The author that wrote the books was meaning to give you a different message. But in today's version of it that you get in the church with the pastor and so on and so forth, you get a shuffled version, which are all part of the same story, and they really aren't.

Harrison: Exactly. Those are two of the main points that Ehrman makes in this book. One is to just point out the many contradictions. And that can be just simple contradictions like the date that Jesus' crucifixion, what he said when he was dying on the cross, whether he was in agony or if he was just resigned to his fate and totally holy about it. There are tons of contradictions between the different accounts in the bible, the different gospels. Then there's the fact that these different gospels not only have contradictions, but they have different theologies almost. When you look at what the doctrine they imply or...

Larry: The core values.

Harrison: The core values, they're completely different. So when you take these cards that are the gospels and the epistles and you just shuffle them together, like you were saying Larry, it creates this kind of motley mosaic of different beliefs and ideas and when you're studying the bible as the inerrant word of god, it all just becomes one thing. So then you look at all these different itemized pieces of information and then you can kind of put them together and create your own mass religious narrative out of it. When you look at the books themselves, the thing that results from that is nowhere present in the actual books themselves.

Adam: It's like Ehrman said in this book, people have to come up with these dramatic stories to try and explain all the different stuff that are contained in all the different books. But the things that they come up with aren't actually in the bible itself.

Harrison: Kind of like the Rorschach test.

Karyn: You kind of choose and pick psychologically what you want to believe or what you want to discard and religion is very much an emotional-based construct and that's a very manipulatable way of controlling segments of a population or a society. And there are the powers that be that put together these kinds of fledgling ideas and the more you have a variety of ideas that can be talked about and conversed about, argued about and going to war about, then the more people you engage in this process. It's seductive and you get into it and you have no idea that you are devolving as a thinking, rational human being.

Adam: Yeah, you think that you're smart but...

Karyn: You're becoming more irrational.

Adam: Yeah, but you're becoming more irrational so you're not able to see what you're actually doing.

Larry: Just like you said, you've got such conflicting messages that don't stand out in the way that they would if you really did a comparative analysis like Ehrman's talking about. And what that says to me, it says that the power structure in control, much like what you're saying, is giving it more and more freedom to tell the story that it wants to tell at any given time. So we can not only change the picture of the truth in their words, "truth" in quotes, but we can make it change in time to feed the need we have as controllers.

Karyn: But you can also take all of these little pieces that you have all over the place, of people saying "I believe this and they believe that and no, it's this way" and eventually over generations it hones itself down into much stronger lines of religious ideology or belief systems so that a bigger, unwieldy construct that then progresses into politics. It progresses into social structures. It progresses into justice systems. And so these little starter things now have their force and a power of their own that the hands behind that are pulling the strings have a mechanism.

Harrison: If we look at the history of Christianity and how it developed in the early years, it's really fascinating to look at how we got to where we are today. We've got all these individual ideas, so many that it would be hard work to get a willing population to go along with what you want to do. But that's exactly what we had in Christianity, and whether by accident or design, in the first two centuries, as Christianity was developing, we have tons of different groups, very different from each other. And the perspectives that we have in the bible are just four gospels of four examples of four different kinds of theology, if you will. But there are tons of gospels. It's like in the second century probably, you had your gospel or your oral traditions. And they were all different forms of each other. You had the Gnostics. You had the kind of proto-catholics that wanted to appropriate the old testament for themselves and divest themselves of the Judaic - the Torah, the law. They wanted to latch onto the history of Israel and the old testament but they didn't want to be Jews.

Adam: They wanted to use it as justification or verification of their own legitimacy.

Adam: Legitimize it, yeah.

Harrison: Their own ancient origins. And then you had the actual Jewish Christians who were full-fledged Jews who just happened to believe in this Jesus guy as well. Then you had the more Hellenistic groups that didn't really think the old testament had much to do with anything, or Judaism. Paul for example, Paul's letters, he tried to get away from that and to say that no, you don't need the Torah, you don't need the law, you don't need circumcision. The only thing that matters is the faith, having the faith of Jesus.

Larry: And it's hard to find the truest, earliest accounts, by true I mean they're early.

Harrison: Exactly. And that's another problem that you get into in Ehrman's book is that when we look at the history of the actual text itself, the new testament, for full and partial manuscripts and full books and the full new testament, we've got basically manuscripts from the third, fourth and fifth centuries, hundreds of years after the fact. When we look back at these early formative years, we have copies of copies of copies of copies of books that were allegedly written then allegedly by these people. And the conclusion of pretty much all biblical scholars is that the vast majority of the books in the bible a) were not written by the people whose names are attached them, like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, probably only some of the letters of Paul were actually written by Paul.

Adam: Assuming that was Paul.

Harrison: Yeah, assuming Paul was his real name. (Laughter) So we look back at that point we've got copies of copies of copies. We don't know who wrote these documents. Sometimes we can have an idea of when they might have been written, but when you get to a certain point around like in the second century, like 100 to 150 AD, we can start seeing sources that quote different books, that quote Paul's letters or that quote certain gospels. But we don't have any documents from before (audio) writing about these topics. We don't know necessarily if they said exactly what they said, how much has been changed in those manuscripts.

So it just becomes a total mess when you try to think about it. But if we just use probabilities as historians do, we can come to certain conclusions. And one of the conclusions that I've come to after reading this book and several others, is that this is kind of the point at which we don't really have much information, before the first half of the second century. We really don't have any firm, absolute idea on what was going on before. All we have is some information about some of the books that existed at that time and then some people at that time writing about things that might have happened before. But we have no way verifying what was going on before.

Larry: (Missing audio) for what may be the earliest quotes really were valid. And I have to agree. I kind of agree with his arguments as he went through analysis, that the earliest Jesus, from the very earliest times, that maybe would be in the first two generations after the supposed death of Jesus.

Harrison: So this would be like the second half of the first century basically.

Larry: Yes, yes. This would be somewhere where Jesus is portrayed as a apocalypse.

Harrison: Apocalyptic?

Larry: Whatever it is, yeah. But with that being the case, it made sense to me in the sense that how are you going to get the most attention from somebody? A message of extreme need in the times that you're trying to (missing audio). "The end is coming, judgement day" all these different little snippets that come out and then Ehrman's analysis goes back to the very earliest documents, at least what he believes to be. And then if you approach it from, okay now we're past the first generation, now we're past the second generation, your stories are going to have to change because the end has not come. The end is still a ways off in the future and you still want your goal of the minds of all these people; bring them back into the fold, so on and so forth. So the stories begin to change. The books change. The authors change, the message.

Adam: The interpretation has to change as well.

Larry: Same thing, right.

Karyn: And the suffering goes on for much, much, much longer. And with the better way to control people than to make them believe they have to suffer. It's a way out. It's the only way you can get it through suffering. If you suffer right, if you become very good at suffering, then you have this reward in heaven coming some time in your distant future and you'll reap your rewards there. But that's being already bought the steps up. Then you buy the big lie and who in their right mind is going to sign up for suffering? It's so darn stupid.

Harrison: Well we could get into that but that's a different...

Larry: But anyway, once you get five to ten generations down the line, now you have to step in with the Council of Nicea (audio glitch) You've got a really big effort (audio glitch) Constantine and so forth. You've got a big effort to bring all this stuff together and come out make it all fit together.

Adam: It's an interpretation that's a standard by which we measure everything.

Larry: Which is what we have now or something very close to it.

Adam: So looking and seeing how far it's all come, what is known among scholars, then how come it hasn't trickled to the generation? We know certain things, say knowing that this is wrong, so how can they tell people who essentially use them for their tithes?

Larry: Because they're part of the system.

Adam: Are they part of the major control system or are they just...

Larry: They're willing all the way down to the small church.

Karyn: Because they also are under the umbrella of "I only can believe what I let myself believe." So there are aspects of all of that information that these priests or ministers are not accepting in their psyche. And if they were to go into the congregations and start telling all that is, they have a congregation of people who also have the same mindset, that are not going to filter through and understand and incorporate information. So their congregations of a couple hundred people sitting there in pews...

Harrison: Like you said, it's not as simple as someone just hearing some new information and then they're going to find their religion. The religious ideas are like a prison and they are very difficult to get out of because they are these emotionally held beliefs and people don't change their beliefs rationally. You can't just give someone and convert them to Bart Ehrman. They will read these and they may experience cognitive dissonance. They may reject it just out of hand because like those Fox News reporters that we played earlier, they just don't want to hear it. "Well I don't think about that kind of stuff." So if anyone has a plan to de-christify it's not going to happen because that's not the way beliefs are changed.

Larry: Adam was I think referring to the ministry, the pastors, the ones that have gone to school, that have learned these things and they know this. It's up to them to pass that kind of information on if they choose to do so.

Adam: I think Ehrman gave the ministers and pastors too much leeway because if you know this and yet you still propagate the lies, then that...

Larry: Yeah. Who's the real devil?

Adam: Exactly. That's completely psychological. (Laughter)

Karyn: And another thing is that if someone has a very strong belief system and someone else comes up and says "Here's proof that what you're believing is wrong; here's proof, here's proof, here's proof", if that person doesn't accept the truth, they get more deeply ingrained in their belief system. It's the oddest thing, but study after study has shown that's what happen.

Adam: So it takes a real shock to the system like Paul had.

Harrison: Yeah. What I always think of is from the movie They Live, the fight scene in They Live where the one guy just won't accept the truth and they get into this seven minute long fight scene. That's what it's like. You can't just tell a Christian something like that and expect them to accept it immediately. It's not going to happen. And that's why I think it's a prison because how do you get out of it? What it really takes is that inner wish for truth basically and the willingness to go through the real suffering. This is the kind of suffering that one takes on for one's self, the suffering...

Larry: Which you go through if you want the truth.

Harrison: Exactly. So in a sense Christianity is not so bad in that it can instil in a person this love for truth and to seek the truth. But then once you reach that point and you start seeing that "Oh, this can't be the inerrant word of god because, first of all, it's obviously errant. There are obviously errors and contradictions. And look at this, the manuscripts change from one to the other. None of them are identical. How can god make such mistakes?" Well obviously these books were written by human beings. And so that love of truth causes you to question the foundations of the very religion that instilled that love of truth in you, possibly.

Larry: And even in preface Ehrman wrote that there's two basic things here, on a scale if you want to put it that way. You've got faith or belief and you've got truth. So which one are you going to really pursue? And if you decide to pursue the truth then his argument is of course you become an agnostic...

Karyn: Well between faith and proof, proof is reward in its own end and that's only something that you can do for yourself. Faith is something you can be promised, paradise. It's a hard one to give up.

Larry: Did I say proof or true?

Karyn: Truth.

Larry: I just wanted to make sure I didn't say the wrong...

Harrison: So really the way out of the prison is to go through the suffering of thinking about these things and coming to your own conclusions. And like you were saying earlier Karyn, about when you read a book like the bible and people pick and choose what they want to believe and in a sense that's probably the only thing you can do. If you go through and you pick and choose, but a lot of people do that without a basis in objective history and what really happened. Now if you're reading a part in the bible that you really like and then you find out that that was a later addition by some scribe, well that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a bad idea, but you should be aware that it wasn't part of the original bible and it should give you some insight into how the bible was constructed over a long period of time and that might have its effect on some of your other beliefs and doctrines, like one being the inerrant word of god. Okay, so cross that one off the list. But you've still got that passage that was really meaningful to you.

Adam: (bad audio) to be a better person.

Harrison: Sure. At the same time there will be passages in the bible that you look to as the inerrant word of god that basically are influencing you to be a nasty person. It's like you're saying, you've got this book with all these ideas in it that can be used by the powers that be at will because "Oh, I need this in this situation so I'll use that one. So whenever we go to war, we'll pick some bellicose passage from the old testament to justify going and killing all the women and children in this village", for example and then "Okay, you can get away with it". But, now if I look back and if I know a little bit about the bible and it's not the inerrant word of god, I can say "Okay, well actually that's a terrible idea. Obviously that was written by a person who was pretty sick in the head".

Larry: So you begin to separate out those things that are meaningful to you in your life based on your truth and weed out the things that are not. And that's the beginning of that focus on the truth, objective truth and the truth that you feel inside.

Karyn: But often times truth is not rewarded in society. Even Jesus was accused of blasphemy. In fact that was supposedly the reason why he was put to death, because he had blasphemed and offended somebody's sensibilities. And what religions do and social control does is it creates difference between insiders and outsiders. It becomes kind of a predatory survival instinct to eliminate the opposition, therefore whos left is right. So it's oftentimes correlated with animalistic characteristics. Then it devolves humanity down to a more basic kind of organic base.

Larry: Base. Yeah.

Harrison: Animalistic, in other words, psychopathic and how to psychopaths operate? Well they create their little in-group of patsies and pawns that they use to effect whatever devious plans they have for their own interests. And it works the same in corporations and; businesses and; police departments; in government offices; and in geopolitics. You have this method and it's tried and tested and everyone uses it; this creation of insiders and out-group. So what they essentially end of doing is taking all the qualities that they themselves have as psychopaths, being bloodthirsty monsters that will do anything to get what they want. And then they'll just project all that on to the non-believers. So they've got this whole group of people who are invested in this belief that then see "Oh, yeah because we know the truth and we're the true followers of god and they're not and so therefore they must be these evil people". So then they end up doing the will of the psychopaths themselves that are egging this on. So really the people that are in charge in your own in-group have more in common with what they say the out-group is, than you think.

Karyn: But you would think that a western society would have a heads-up on some kinds of things because people have freedom here and there's kind of an ascending theory of legitimacy. In religion it's kind of that the people have the power and they can choose the religion that they want to partake of. In the Middle East, for example, it's kind of a descending theory of legitimacy. You have a supreme person like Mohammed that makes these edicts and the stuff comes down by divine right and so the religion chooses the people. So there's two different vectors, but they all end up kind of being in the same place. It's like taking two different roads and they both end up at the sinkhole.

Larry: They are all used at even a higher level.

Harrison: It's like democracy and authoritarianism. You have a strong leader or you've got a democratically elected Parliament or whatever, but really when you look at it, they can be the same thing essentially. Look at democracy. It's not democracy and yet compare that to other systems of government. Of course you can have a brutal dictatorship but you can have a good democracy, which most people think we have over here, but we don't. You can have a good dictatorship in a sense, if the system in place and if the so-called dictator is a decent person. So just like in the religions where we've got the inside group and then the outsiders who are "heathens" or whatever, we've got this kind of religious attitude to our government system where we see any kind of alternative form of government as inherently evil and therefore we must go and spread democracy to them, democracy our way. And we'll use torture on our way to do it.

Larry: So many people are caught up in that illusion.

Harrison: Yeah. It's crazy.

Adam: To bring it all back, in order to get people to continue believing or to be too afraid to even think outside of what they were raised in, be that Christian fundamentalism or be that the United States form of a republic, or be that something else, you have to threaten them with torture, whatever that is, be that eternal damnation or Gitmo. It's just sick.

Harrison: Yeah. Anything else we want to add to the show?

Larry: Can't think of anything else right now.

Harrison: Well, it looks like we might end it there.

Larry: Did you want to answer the question on the healthcare issue.

Harrison: Oh yeah, before we close for this week, Adam's got a little update for all you dieters out there. Give a little background.

Adam: So there was an abstract that was posted sometime recently on the ketogenic diet. It was a comparison between advanced body builders to see and compare how the ketogenic diet stands up to the Mediterranean diet. They called it the western diet but it essentially was high carb, but there was still a lot of fat, so that's more Mediterranean. It was just a comparison to see how the ketogenic diet stood up because we know that the ketogenic diet is really good for weight loss but there's literally nothing in terms of building any kind of muscle mass.

Harrison: Just for anyone that's listening to this that isn't aware of the ketogenic diet, that's essentially a low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet. Totally different than what most people eat.

Adam: Completely different.

Harrison: So go on Adam.

Adam: So this is the first study that's ever been done on the evaluation of the ketogenic diet on the performance for muscle-building purposes. From what we see so far, the ketogenic diet was actually superior both in terms of losing body fat and building muscle, which is interesting because they weren't planning to try and lose body fat and yet they did while at the same time building muscle. If you know anything about traditional bodybuilding, that's completely impossible and yet here it is to a significant margin. In three months people are building 10 pounds of muscle and losing 15 pounds of fat. That's huge! That's huge! So I'll be keeping my eye open for that one.(Laughter)

Harrison: Alright and we'll probably be talking a bit more about topics like that in the future. Maybe we'll have Adam back to talk a bit about that kind of stuff because Adam you do a lot of martial arts.

Adam: Yes, yes.

Harrison: So we've got an inside source, an expert for looking at the use of the ketogenic diet in an athletic, physically active lifestyle.

Adam: There's a little background on that. I train with the US Olympic kick-boxing coach and I also train with other world class martial artists, so I have a good experience in evaluating the performance of the ketogenic diet and how it keeps up and actually in smoking as well.

Harrison: Yeah, I wanted to ask, how do your teachers respond when you tell them about your diet? Or have you?

Adam: Some of my direct instructors know about my diet. Some of them I kind of like don't go there just because it's not necessary. They're like "Oh, okay. Cool." Some of them even tried it and they're like "Oh, it's not for me." But it's really interesting when I bring up that I'm a smoker because they just don't know.

Harrison: Alright. Well thanks for that Adam. So we'll end here for tonight. Again the book that we were discussing (canned applause). Thank you. The book we were discussing was Jesus Interrupted by Bart Ehrman and we had Elan and Tiff and William the first half of the show and Larry, Karyn and Adam on the last. So say good-bye everyone.

Harrison: We'll see you next week. Bye-bye everyone.