Author Topic: Kcrady - old school  (Read 39960 times)

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #87 on: June 08, 2011, 07:13:07 AM »
me neither.   
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #88 on: June 22, 2011, 07:59:06 AM »
Gott Mit Uns

Quote from: Solvalou
If god tells people to kill, it's all under his exclusive responsibility, I would not like it. But i know better than judge things outside the human domain with human logic.

And that, right there, is why Christianity has proven to be such an effective tool in the hands of monsters.  Don't think, don't judge, because the Leader's orders to commit genocide and atrocity (whether the Leader is Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Pope Innocent, Torquemada, or Hitler) are "things outside the human domain," not to be questioned by us mere mortals.  We must only obey.  And you wonder how it is that "Gott Mit Uns" got stamped onto those SS belt buckles?

Quote from: Solvalou
I also dunno how and when god did tell people to kill, God in the bible is always narrated through men. The men who won the battles. Did they receive special messages or their philosophy of life was so bound with the concept of God that they believed all their actions and decisions were originated within God (oh for some models of reality it could be this way), or something between the two?
 
What I know is that theologically speaking killing a sinner is preventing him to potentially convert and that an omnipotent being who has the whole of humanity lined up for the final judgment has no reason to summon anybody in advance. It's not like they can escape.  Now, to briefly provoke people and to  bed.

What I know is that the Bible sanctions grand-scale atrocity again and again.  "Theologically speaking" it shouldn't be so, but then you've already agreed to shut off your mind with regard to these things and assume that "human logic" is not sufficient to establish that genocide is evil, period.  If there is one thing on which the Bible is absolutely clear, it is that "God" wants obedience from his sheep, not critical thought and rational decision-making.

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #89 on: June 22, 2011, 08:03:34 AM »
Gott mit Uns 2

Quote from: Solvalou
Quote from: kcrady
And that, right there, is why Christianity has proven to be such an effective tool in the hands of monsters.  Don't think, don't judge, because the Leader's orders to commit genocide and atrocity (whether the Leader is Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Pope Innocent, Torquemada, or Hitler) are "things outside the human domain," not to be questioned by us mere mortals.  We must only obey.  And you wonder how it is that "Gott Mit Uns" got stamped onto those SS belt buckles?

You have imperfectly mapped a philosophical assertion in the real world. I say no war could have been occurred if christians had had the courage to follow jesus.

The problem with this is that nobody knows where Jesus is going.  Christians were instructed to obey governmental authorities in the NT, that the government was put in place by God.  This was in the context of the Roman Empire--the Pagan Caesars.  In the OT, the Biblegod clearly sanctions genocide when a race is considered to be a polluting influence on 'the congregation of the LORD.'  The writer of the Gospel of John has the Jewish mob that called for Christ's crucifixion shouting "This man's blood be on us and on our children." 

The idea of Jews being a corrupting influence within Gentile society was a widespread belief at the time, and had been for centuries.  During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church forbade usury (loaning at interest), but banking was needed to keep the economy going.  The solution: Allow Jews to loan at interest, while making it difficult for them to do anything other than banking (i.e. compete with Gentiles in other markets). 
Since the Jews did not have an ethnic homeland (like "Franks" or "Scots"), they were able to be "internationalist" in that they could trade across borders and between Christian and Muslim lands.

Since feudalism emphasized loyalty to place and fealty to the landed aristocracy, land-less people like the Jews, who were goaded into engaging in "un-Christian" financial practices, were viewed with suspicion, just as patriots today frown on people who claim allegiance to the world rather than to any nation.  From this comes the stereotype of the "Jewish Banker."  Throw in the common conspiracy theories, the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, etc., and the German Christians would have had what they thought were perfectly good reasons to consider Jews a corrupt race in the same way the Jews are portrayed viewing the Canaanites as a corrupt race.  The Bible teaches that a race/ethnicity can be corrupt as a whole and worthy of extermination as a whole.  The Bible teaches that humans doing the genocide themselves (instead of waiting for God to hurl fire from the Heavens) is an acceptable response, at least when their divinely-appointed leaders tell them to.

Sure, going to war conflicts with Jesus' teachings about turning the other cheek and so forth.  But then, Christians routinely ignore Jesus' teachings when they're inconvenient.  For example, his claim that we ought to make no plans for tomorrow, or the fact that he and his disciples, and the Acts-era Church practiced voluntarist communism ("they had all things in common").  The Christian Right in America right now ignores Jesus' pacifism to support the wars in the Middle East--ironically, because they feel these wars are harbingers of Jesus' return and also serve to defend Israel. 

Furthermore, Jesus is supposed to be God, i.e. the same being who called himself a "man of war" in the OT and ordered all those OT genocides.  He shows those colors again in the Book of Revelation, which means he is not portrayed as a pacifist on principle.  Pacifism was a pragmatic strategy that kept Christianity from getting bronto-stomped by the Roman legions.  As soon as Emperor Theodosius placed those legions in Christian hands (declaring Christianity to be the official religion of the Empire) Jesus' pacifism went out the window, along with his teachings on economics and life-planning.  Therefore, the "We can ignore the OT" dodge changes nothing.  Again, the very simple, blatant fact:

The Bible sanctions everything the Nazis did.   

And Jesus certainly didn't "get to each one separately" and set them straight.  You assume they're not Christians because they didn't interpret the Bible the same way you do.  Do you get a ray of light from On High and the Big Voice correcting your interpretations of Scripture whenever you make a mistake?  I'm guessing your answer will be "no."  Well, neither did they.  And again, the very obvious fact, inescapably written in plain text in the Bible:

The Bible sanctions everything the Nazis did.   
Quote from: Solvalou
If germans had been christians God would have needed to get to each one separately and convince him to get into war. Hitler  or slogans would have not had  the authority to do that. Something resembling as god would have not the authority to do that because theologically a christian believes if god comes down it's the end of times so no more battles with other men have meaning.

Where do you get that?  The notion that a Christian should never, ever go to war without a personally-delivered command from God Himself is nowhere stated in the Bible, and has never been a teaching of the Christian Church, at least since there was something we could recognizably call "the" Christian Church (i.e. a specific set of formalized doctrines, creeds, etc. intended to be accepted by all non-"heretical" Christians).  Aren't you a Catholic?  Do the words "Just War Theory" mean anything to you?
Quote from: Solvalou
Quote
What I know is that the Bible sanctions grand-scale atrocity again and again.

I say that trying to convince another man to kill by using the bible atrocities is blasphemy. And quite illogical from a philosophical point of view.

Are you the Second Coming?  The way you use "I say" sounds alot like the way Jesus did.  "It says in your Law (Torah/Scripture) X, but I say Y."  Do you have the power to supplant Scripture with your words as the new, true doctrine of Christianity?

Furthermore, since when does the Bible have anything to do with "a philosophical point of view?"  Here's the only Biblical mention of philosophy:
Quote
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  --Colossians 2:8



I readily agree that your "philosophical point of view" is better than the worldview provided by the Bible, as are the "philosophical points of view" arising from cultures that took philosophy seriously, e.g. the Greeks, the philosophies of Confucius, Lao Tzu, the Buddha, etc..

This is something I just don't understand about modern Christians.  Most of them have a worldview that is more enlightened and moral than that of the Bible, which is why they have to resort to incredible feats of mental gymnastics in order to make the Bible seem as if it were "the Good Book."  Why go to so much trouble to redeem a horrible old book?  If you have some sort of mystical experience of a perfectly loving God, why not go with that and write your own Book, if you feel one is necessary?  I have little doubt you could do a better job of writing "the Word" of a perfectly benevolent, loving god than a bunch of iron-age barbarians for whom "women were kinda like cattle."  Heck, I could do it.  Neale Donald Walsh did.  The writers of A Course in Miracles did.

Why do you need a Book at all?  Obviously, when you read the Bible, you have something other than the Bible that tells you which passages are relevant (the nicer ones like the Beatitudes and Psalm 23) and which ones ought to be locked into a mental basement and kept out of sight like a crazy aunt (e.g. Numbers 31).  If you want to call that something "the Holy Spirit" or "Mystic Insight" or "a philosophical point of view," whatever it is, obviously it's a better guide to life and thought than the Bible.  If it were otherwise, you would not use it to decide what you think the Bible ought to say.

So, having a better form of guidance than the Bible, why bother with the Bible?  Why drive an old junker that breaks down all the time when you've got a brand-new Porsche sitting in the garage?
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #90 on: June 22, 2011, 08:11:33 AM »
Faith in god vs grandfathers

Quote from: iamthevoiceofgod
Quote
DNA testing. I see you're behind in the medical journals.

Sure, all of you who replied about DNA testing are stating that this is how you can prove that your GrandFather truly is your GrandFather.

Yet, how many of you have done this?

The point was that we merely believe that our parents are our parents and our relatives are who we are told they are. Some of us would be so incredible surprised if we were told that we were adopted. Wouldn't that be craaaaazzzzzyyyy?

Most of us have "faith" that our parents are who they say they are. I'd say more than 95% of us.

And yes, you can say that we "could" get DNA tested. Everyone KNOWS we have a liver just by being alive. I am just trying to illustrate that 95% of us have faith that our parents are who they say they are, just as the "believers" have faith that their God is alive and well. Who's to say that anyone is right or wrong about that?

There is a distinction here.  First of all, most of us have been told who our grandparents are by people we generally have reason to trust, and who are/were in a position to know.  My mother and father know who raised them.  Family pictures of grandparents at a young age showing resemblances to parents, parents' birth certificates, etc.  Plenty of evidence short of DNA testing.

If I had some reason to consider that I was an exception to the generalized knowledge of human anatomy and had no liver, or if I had a reason to wonder if the people I think are my parents or grandparents were not (e.g. if "my" grandparents on my father's side did not have any resemblance to him, oddities in the family pictures, dad's birth certificate has different names on it, etc.), then there are ways I can find out.  Since there is no evidence that I have no liver, then the preponderance of evidence from human anatomy is that I have a liver.  With no evidence to the contrary, there is no reason for me to doubt the testimony of my parents regarding who their parents were, the family pictures, my memories, etc. with regard to who my grandfaters were.  I can have trust that the people I identify as my grandparents really were, until there is reason to think otherwise.  Just as I can have trust that a bridge I intend to cross will not collapse under me, or that the airplane I get on will carry me safely to my destination.  Bridges do collapse and airplanes do crash, but such things happen so rarely that it is, in general, safe to cross bridges and fly.  You can call this "faith" if you like, but it is entirely different than the kind of "faith" that is required in order to believe in God.

My mother raised me to believe in God.  If I asked her, she would tell me that God exists.  However, she can provide no more evidence for him than you or anyone else can.   I have no reason to consider her a greater or lesser expert on the subject of God than any other normal individual.  God does not show up in any of our family pictures.  There is no equivalent of a DNA test I can perform to show that the Biblical deity (or any other) really is my God--or that he even exists.  In fact, even mentioning such an idea will draw gasps of scorn from believers.  "Thou shalt not test the Lord thy God!"

You see, the kind of "faith" that is required to believe in God is faith in the absence, or even in contradiction to the evidence.  If it were otherwise, believers would not make so much noise about the virtue of "faith."  If there was as much evidence for God as there is for grandfathers, there would be no atheists.

IATVOG, I am glad you did this, whether you're a trickster (as Assyriankey suggests) or not.  I am glad to see the CWG theology getting some atheist CITOKATE[1] here.  I would be even more interested to see the response of some of the more conventional Christians here (I figured J51 would love it :) ).  I think CWG does contain some memetic genius, in that it offers a nice and often witty "God" with "all of the good and none of the bad" (as another poster commented).  I have noticed in discussing with Christians how they will go to virtually any length to bend and twist the Bible in order to make it say God is nice, yet they will not give up the Bible and just believe in their nice God without it.  There seems to be a whole lot of "want-to-believe" involved.  CWG theology (aka "The New Spirituality") offers such people a God(-dess) who would meet their deeply-perceived need for one, but without all of that poison in the Bible or most other Iron-Age vintage holy-books.

Thus it may serve as a kind of vaccine for the memetic virus that is the Abrahamic deity.  There are a few key elements of "The New Spirituality" that I think could be very beneficial if they became more widespread.  One is the notion that God communicates with everyone who's interested in hearing through feelings, experience, etc.  In other words, no specific "Holy Book" or ecclesiastical hierarchy is necessary.  Which would disempower theocratic priests, ministers, and imams.  If theists started looking to their own experiences, their "Highest Thought, Clearest Word, Grandest Feeling" etc. they would have to acquire the virtue of intellectual/spiritual independence.  Another thing implicit in the Highest/Clearest/Grandest thing is conscious evolution.  The Bible may well be the Highest/Clearest/Grandest that a tribe of primitive, Iron Age savages could produce.  We can produce Higher/Clearer/Grander ideas now, and we or our descendents will produce still Higher/Clearer/Grander ideas in the future, therefore we should not get too attached to ideas we have now, especially ones inherited from Iron Age savages.

The idea that God does not need our obedience, worship, servitude, etc.--much less the right kind of obedience, worship and servitude--in my opinion defangs a lot of the most pernicious nonsense of theism.  If God doesn't need witches burned in order to be safe from their "sin," neither do we.  If God doesn't need the World Trade Center, or Iraq destroyed, then neither do we.  If God doesn't need "the community of faith" (the one the believer is part of, of course) purged of sinners, heretics, and infidels, neither does a "community of faith" that believes in such a God.

Unfortunately, the CWG God still regards figures such as Moses and Jesus as "Masters" (people who've "got it right").  With Jesus there are non-canonical Gospels that portray him in a more enlightened light (and CWG mentions them), but Moses--if he existed--was a monster on a par with Genghis Khan.  If you take out all of the viciousness, barbarism and plain ol' nonsense attributed to Moses, there isn't much left except for complete instructions on how to make the Tabernacle and its ritual equipment.  Sanctioning Moses sanctions the whole poison root of Abrahamic theology even if you do add a caveat that the books were written by men with limited understanding.

One thing I find intersting about CWG is that it addresses everything from romantic relationships to extraterrestrials, but never once raises the subject of atheism.  Maybe that's just because atheists go to Heaven...
Quote from: Conversations With God

[vol. 3, p. 120 ("God's" words in italics)]

"What goes around, comes around."

Right.  Others know this as the Jesus Injunction: Do unto others as you would have it done unto you.  Jesus was talking about the law of cause and effect.  It is what might be called the Prime Law.  Something like the Prime Directive given to Kirk, Picard, and Janeway.

Hey, God is a Trekkie!

Are you kidding?  I wrote half the episodes.

Better not let Gene hear You say that.

Come on...Gene told Me to say that.

You're in touch with Gene Roddenberry?

And Carl Sagan, and Bob Heinlein, and the whole gang up here.

You know, we shouldn't kid around like this.  It takes away from the believability of the whole dialogue.

I see.  A conversation with God has to be serious.

Well, at least believable.

It's not believable that I've got Gene, Carl, and Bob right here?  I'll have to tell them that.

Of course, us atheists who aren't hanging around with God in Heaven would like to see God relay some new writings from them via Neale, or perhaps even better, someone who is "in touch with God" but has never read any Sagan or Heinlein and has never seen a Trek episode.  :)

Hmmm... Now that I think about this, does it make any sense within the context of CWG theology to say that God hangs out with Carl Sagan, et. al.?  Consider the concept of a "soul" or "higher self" that "chooses" for us to be born as Bill Gates or as the starving African child lying on her face with the vulture waiting to eat what little flesh she has.[2] Obviously, this "soul" is a distinct entity, unless there are a great number of masochist souls in the spirit-realm.  Since the "soul" of that African child is not the body we can see in the picture or the mind we could communicate with if we talked to her, it is not really "her" in the sense we think of when we would say her name or talk about what kind of person she is.

In which case the "soul" of Carl Sagan would not be the same entity we see when we watch Cosmos or whose words we read in The Demon-Haunted World.  Since it is the body/mind of Carl Sagan, Gene Roddenberry, Robert A. Heinlein, et. al. we identify as "them" and from which their books arose (attributing their books to their "souls" means we can't blame the Malleus Malificarum on the body/minds of its authors, unless "books we like"="books written by Higher Selves"), in what sense can it really be said that God is hanging out with Carl Sagan, et. al.?  Someone who hangs out with me is not hanging out with the characters I create and play in role-playing games, even if they like the characters.   


 1.  Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote to Error
 2.  This picture has been posted to other threads on this forum
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #91 on: June 22, 2011, 08:14:41 AM »
faith in god vs grandfathers 2
Quote from: iamthevoiceofgod

Quote
What choices does a 5-year-old child in ethiopia have when his mother dies of AIDS and he starves to death?

The journey of what you call life on the physical plain is one that your soul chooses. The soul of the 5-year-old who starved to death and his mother who died of AIDS chose their journey.

So...life is a role-playing game, and we're the characters.  If you think of an RPG, it is a situation in which players get together to create a simulated world much more exciting and dangerous than their own and use dice to simulate the randomness and unknown variables inherent in life.  To be part of this world, they create simulated characters with various attributes (certain Strength, Intelligence, Dexteritiy, etc.) and imagine what sort of personalities they'd have.  They then make choices as those characters, while another player--the Dungeon Master/Game Master/Referee takes what is for all intents and purposes the role of God for that fantasy universe--creating the fantasy universe itself, playing the parts of the non-player characters, monsters, etc. the players encounter, and upholding the rules of the simulation.

Now, there probably aren't that many RPG players who would really like to live in a world where a dragon can swoop out of the sky and obliterate their whole village, savage Orcs can come swarming down from the mountains, the evil wizard in the high tower as a fate even more terrible in mind for them, and their lives depend on how quick they are with a sword or at reading and using arcane magical texts.  Then there's things that don't really come up in RPG's like the fact that it's damn uncomfortable making a long trek on foot or horseback with nothing but what medieval equipment you can carry on your back.  The players never suffer with blisters or lice or heat or cold, and even if their character ends up as a corpse in a gibbet hanging from the wizard's high tower, they can always draw up a new character.

This sounds an awful lot like what CWG and New Age reincarnationist belief in general seems to be saying our world is.  We are told that the world is in some sense an illusion from which we can "wake up" and choose to identify with the "soul," "Higher Self," or whatever you wish to call it.  This "soul" lives in a realm that is apparently even more perfect and boring than Suburbia.  And so it "chooses" to be people here in this simulated world, with all of its problems and dangers.  When those people die, the "soul" is unharmed, and it then chooses to reincarnate as another charact--er, person.  So maybe the soul that chooses to be a 1st Level Starving African Child this time around will decide to be a Software Developer next time and try to make it to 30th Level billionaire status.  It's all rather fun and exciting, and it beats whatever's on TV.

The "soul" does not suffer when the body/mind suffers.  Is it ethical for a "soul" to play the game?  Because unlike characters in RPG's that exist only on paper, body/minds really do suffer.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #92 on: June 22, 2011, 08:21:16 AM »
And you wonder how it is that "Gott Mit Uns" got stamped onto those SS belt buckles?
Being a pedant, I have to correct this: SS Belt Buckles were not stamped with "Gott Mit UnsWiki" but endorsed with "Meine Ehre heißt Treue" (my honor is loyalty.)
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 08:34:00 AM by Graybeard »
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. Ambrose Bierce

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #93 on: June 27, 2011, 03:06:34 PM »
Xianity and astrology

Stardust, your astrological speculations regarding Christianity are interesting.  Astrology apparently played an important role in the Mystery Religions that were popular at the time Christianity emerged.  Mithras was sometimes portrayed turning the wheel of the Zodiac, i.e. causing the precession of the equinoxes.  He is also portrayed slaying a bull, surrounded by other zodiacal signs, i.e. ending the Age of Taurus in favor of the Age of Ares.

Once you're outside the box of Fundamentalism (as you apparently are) and informed about the Mystery Religions and astrological symbolism, it becomes fairly obvious that Christianity is a deeply Piscean religion.  Even on the surface-level there are all the references in the gospels ("fishers of men," etc.) and the use of the ICTHYS fish-symbol to represent Christianity.  Then, going to the next level, there is the fact that this fish-symbol is the vesica piscis, or "sign of the fish," a form in Sacred Geometry that can be used (by employing a compass and straightedge) to construct the other significant geometric forms (triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, the Platonic "solids," etc.).  Hence, the vesica piscis is metaphorically the vulva from which the blueprints of the Universe emerge.

The vesica is created by drawing two circles of equal diameter so that the circumfrence of one circle crosses the center of the other.  This is the Sacred Marriage of the spiritual and physical realms with the "fish" as the uniting proportion, or Logos, that joins them.  In the story of the miraculous catch of fish, Jesus instructs his disciples to toss the net over to the other side of the boat, resulting in a catch of 153 fish.  This number 153 is part of a ratio, 153:256, the height-to-length ratio of the vescica piscis (when it is drawn horizontally as a fish rather than vertically as a vulva).  By factoring in the gematria (numerical values of words in Greek) for terms such as "Fishes" and "The Net" the story is a code that produces a geometric diagram that represents Gnostic cosmology.  If you have not yet read it, I highly recommend David Fideler's fascinating book Jesus Christ, Sun of God.  This book demonstrates the gematria/sacred geometry encoded in the miraculous catch of fish and the "feeding of the 5000" stories, and shows how Christianity is connected to the Mystery Religion centered on the Greek gods Zeus, Hermes, and Apollo, and with Mithraism.

Once this astrological symbolism is incorporated, the teachings of Jesus regarding "the end of the Age" make a certain kind of sense.  The Age that was ending was that of Ares, represented by the Jewish Temple.  The various eschatological "prophecies" and the Book of Revelation may then be taken as references to the Jewish War of 66 C.E. and the destruction of Jerusalem.

Pisces does seem to be an appropriate symbol for Christianity.  Pisces is represented by two fish that are tied together pulling in opposite directions.  From the beginning, Christianity has been an unstable mix of Jewish Literalist dogmatism and Greek "rational mysticism."[1]  On one end of the spectrum, the Ebionites attempted to retain adherence to the Jewish Torah.  Some of these believers who were "zealous for the Law" are portrayed attempting to assassinate the Apostle Paul in the Book of Acts.  At the other end were the Gnostics, who taught that Yahweh was an ignorant demiurge who, forgetting that he was an emanation of the Goddess Sophia/Achamoth--who was herself an emanation of the ineffable Deity--claimed to be the "one true God" and set about forming the material universe and establishing his tyranny.  For them the Christ was an emanation of the Deity symbolically portrayed as a dying-resurrecting godman come to rescue the lost Goddess (symbolically represented as Mary Magdalene, or humans collectively as the "Bride of Christ") from Yahweh's cosmic dungeon.

The Roman Catholic Church ended up somewhere in the middle, keeping Yahweh as God, but throwing in parts of Greek philosophy (the concept of God as absolute perfection, the Ptolmaic cosmology, philosophical arguments for God's existence, etc.).  The RCC is famous for dogmatism and brutal suppression of "heresy," but it also has a philosophical orientation and professes considerable respect for reason (e.g. Aquinas).  It violently suppressed new discoveries in astronomy, but the Vatican also has its own observatory.  It lavishly funded art created in human-glorifying Pagan style (e.g. Michelangelo, et. al.), but with Jewish/Christian-literalist subject-matter (the Sistene Chapel, portrayals of Jesus' crucifixion, Pietas, etc.).

While I remain quite skeptical of astrology[2]I can accept that ancient people who believed in it would write and/or edit their sacred stories to fit with astrological symbolism, thus creating the correspondences you mention in your post.  Now, if it is so that Christianity is a "Piscean" religion (as Judaism was an Ares-based religion), does that mean we need a new myth/new religion for the Aquarian Age we are now ostensibly entering?  If so, what do you think that this new myth/story/idea of God will be like? 
 1.  For the Greeks, rationality and mysticism were not distinct and in opposition to each other as they are now perceived to be.  Pythagoras gave us the formula for the right triangle and other discoveries in geometry, but for him such things were seamlessly joined to mystical number symbolism.  This tradition of a union between science and mysticism continued all the way to Newton, who saw no dichotomy between writing the Principia Mathematica and other works on alchemy and the symbolic meaning of the measurements of the Great Pyramid. 
 2.  The "constellations" of the horoscope we use are arbitrary "patterns" that exist in human concepts and not in the arrangement of the stars themselves.  What people call the "Big Dipper" is "really" the "Great Bear" in conventional astrology.  The Chinese horoscope is entirely different, and is based on birth-years rather than birth-months.  As far as I know, no compelling evidence demonstrates the validity of astrology.  However, if such evidence were forthcoming, there is also the possibility that the constellations themselves do not influence events on Earth, but they were created/discovered as an astonomical "clock" that somewhat accurately described changes wrought by some other influence--in the same way that a wall clock does not cause night to fall, but reflects the flow of time.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #94 on: June 27, 2011, 03:09:53 PM »
Xianity and Astrology part 2: morality

Wow, Zaccheus!  You can justify anything!  If I ever decide to turn to the Dark Side, I'm totally becoming a Christian first!

"How do you like my humanskin lampshade collection?  What?  Since everybody deserves to die horribly and be tortured forever because some other guy ate a fruit, these lampshades of mine are a reflection of God's love and justice.  That pyramid of skulls in the back yard?  Well, if you view them in the context of Judaism and Christianity, you'll see that it's all good.  I've taken up a hobby of raping little girls after killing their families in front of them (Numbers 31 17-13) as a way to demonstrate the perfection of Christian morality.  I killed a Wiccan teenager who lived a couple houses down and I'm serving her tonight with Chianti and fava beans.  Everyone is living on borrowed time, and since she wasn't a Jew or Christian, she wasn't under God's covenantal protection.  She should be grateful God let her live to be 14.  Would you like to join me?  Dinner's at 8:00."

Wow.  Do you even have to wonder why we think you guys are scary?  Or how it was possible for all those "good Christians" throughout history to support Inquisitions, witch-burnings, Crusades, and Holocausts?  Gott Mit Uns indeed!!! 

Could you please, please, take a moment to think about what you're doing?! You've just provided rationalization for any possible atrocity whatsoever!  Does the Good really need escape clauses for genocide and child abuse (do you honestly think that Isaac, seeing his father poised to slaughter him would give a damn about the "context" of Judaism or what a nice Bible story it would make some day)?  Seriously!!!  Think about it for just one second!   If there was a Devil, a Prince of Darkness, isn't this exactly what he'd do?  "Inspire" a book filled with evil, and then convince people that it was "the Word of God," "the Good Book," so that he could get otherwise good-hearted people to sanction genocide, mass child-molestation, attempted human sacrifice, etc. while at the same time garnering their slavish obedience?  The Devil is supposed to be a great deceiver.  If the Bible isn't a Great Deception, I don't know what is!

Wow, I simply can't help being utterly gobsmacked by this.  There is simply no possible act of evil that could be done in the name of God that would make a Christian like you bat an eye.  "Context.  It's all perfectly good and loving as long as you don't see it as individual acts."   Holy Crap!!!!

You know what your "context" is?  Millions of evil acts!  You think that killing and torturing lots of people over thousands of years and changing from one "covenant" to another transmutes each evil act into an act of goodness and mercy?!  Wow!

To paraphrase Giannis' signature: Evil transcends if all the savages agree.

Wow.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #95 on: June 27, 2011, 03:16:33 PM »
Xianity and Astrology part 3: morality

Quote from: Solvalou
Quote from: kcrady
Quote from: Solvalou
Quote from: cMarie
Except God really was cruel according to the OT.

Except that a christian unchanging god is always just, so for whatever crime he committed towards men he could make up for it. The Isaac sacrifice was surely a lesson of theology (God is the most important thing, Life if one wants to make philosophy), and the child didn't even die. The meaning of some other carnages is unclear to me but i don't  consider them as mere rationalizations for that reason.

To prevent the strange but already occurring objection of me accepting and absolving atrocities because of their relative irrelevance considering the afterlife: killing in the name of the christian god, after the coming of jesus is contravening his commandment. Therefore blasphemy. To defend "christian roots" disobeying the NT is blasphemy.

So, it's OK if I kill your daughter, as long as I give you a prettier little girl in exchange (as in the book of Job)?  It's alright to commit any atrocity as long as I "make up for it" or maybe just change my mind later and say that it isn't OK to commit genocide nowdays.  And you wonder why we don't turn to you or your "unchanging" god for "moral absolutes?"

And who are you for me to accept your atrocities? You cannot make up for anything, god's way, you're not god. Besides, i said i accept none because it would be an unnecessary going back. The Law is fulfilled. And Job is old testament. What was your point, i'm not sure.

As for me wondering why you don't turn to religion, I am not. Don't assume what I can describe as a spirit of competition for winning the heart of people. Belief in anything is under your responsibility, and the grace of a god if one exists.

I see, so it's all about "who" and not about what.  If the Big Voice O' God says "Go molest little girls, it's the new, new covenant" then you have to smile, nod, and march off to obey, because its him saying it.  If the Voice says to drown your kids in the bathtub, you go turn on the water.  If anybody else says it, you can be morally outraged by the idea and refuse.  And it's all about moral relativism.  Before the (alleged) crucifixion of Jesus, genocide is perfectly moral.  Having little girl sex slaves is perfectly moral.  Killing a guy's family and torturing him to win a bet with the Devil is perfectly moral.  But then, 33 C.E. swings around, and *p00f*!!!  Now genocide is wrong until Jesus wants to start doing it again (the Book of Revelation).

Notice that these kinds of atrocities which you so easily dismiss ("They're in the OT!  The OT is bunk--well, 'fulfilled,' but it amounts to the same thing!  We can pretend it doesn't exist, but never take the principled step of removing it from our Bibles") are not just plain wrong in your beliefs, they're just not part of the current standing orders.  For all that Christians like to talk about their vaunted "moral absolutes," the Bible doesn't offer any.  It's all relative.  "Well, in the situation Moses and all those guys found themselves in, acting like Genghis Khan was a perfectly acceptable thing to do.  Genghis Khan was wrong because he was the wrong ethnicity (not Jewish) and started about 12 centuries too late.  If only Joshua'd had a guy like him running the Israelite cavalry!

What this means is that the only thing that keeps Christians from going forth and committing the most horrible atrocities possible is their belief that Der Fuhrer in Himmel has told them not to, for now.  Every Christian is a time-bomb, one charismatic leader away from running amok just like they so loudly claim atheists will.  Because, for them, the only reason not to indulge in rapine, massacre and sadism on a mass scale is because the Boss Up There has given them orders to be nice, for now.  The whole "our God is unchanging, but he can rewrite our morality whenver he wants" thing means that the orders can change at any time.

If a babbling idiot like George W. Bush can get tens of millions of otherwise nice and wholesome American Christians to cheer for the murder of 600,000 plus Iraqis, the re-institutionalizaiton of torture as an open practice, the repeal of the Geneva Conventions (they're "quaint," kinda like the Old Testament), the repeal of Habeus Corpus and the jury trial...what could a real orator do?  All Bush had to do to get tens of millions of American Christians to sign off on his war of aggression and the destruction of the American Republic was publicly say that God told him to do it.  That's all!  That's why Christianity as a belief system is so frightening.  Not because Christians are monsters, but because they're not.  The vast majority of Christians are kind, loving people who really think they're worshipping Goodness Made Manifest.  These are people who recoil in horror at the Holocaust or the thought of child molestation or human-trafficking.

But the pure, evil genius of the Bible is that it can persuade such people--people like you, Zaccheus, UnkleE and the rest--to completely abandon all morality and say that Nazism is morally righteous, so long as you replace the Swastika with the Star of David, replace Germans with Jews, seek your lebensraum "from the Nile to the Euphrates" instead of from the Rhine to the Urals, and do it sometime before 33 C.E. or whenever God changes his mind again.  Murdering a man's family and torturing him to win a bet with the Devil is a wonderfully righteous thing to do, as long as it's God doing it, and he gets the timing right.  And that anything, anything at all, becomes moral and righteous as soon as whatever leader(s) a given Christian follows says "God told me."  Maybe it's Pope Benedict, or any conservative Evangelical Republican President of the U.S., or Pat Robertson (the guy gets "words of knowledge" from God all the time), or the Prophet of the Church of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City[1].
 
If there has ever been a feat of "black magic" in the world, the Bible would have to be it.


 1.  In discussing this subject with a pair of nice young Mormon missionaries who came to my house, I asked them if they would commit OT-style genocide on orders of their "Prophet," and they said they would--without hesitation or a moment's discomfort.  They're not "orthodox" Christians, true, but there's still millions of 'em, and it's Bible "ethics" (do whatever you think the Boss in the Sky wants, morality be damned) that makes that possible.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #96 on: June 27, 2011, 03:25:13 PM »
Xianity and Astrology part 4: morality

Quote from: zacchaeus
velkyn, kcrady, cMarie

Quick request. If you or someone else asks me a question in response to a post I make, can you wait for me to answer before asking me another. Otherwise with multiple people asking multiple questions either I can't keep up at all, or my posts become very long. Thanks.
Quote from: kcrady
Why would God be justified in killing the entire human race?  Because a couple of our ancestors ate a fruit?
No, because humanity did something knowing the consequences of it was death. In other words humanity chose to die. God would be justified in abiding by that choice and allowing human beings to become extinct on that basis alone.

Whaddaya mean "humanity?"  Christians often like to point out how heavily they outnumber atheists.  Throw in all the other religions (most of which teach that the purpose of humanity is to serve and obey Gods, they just make their assumptions and a priori arguments-by-definition in favor of the "wrong" one(s)), and the majority in favor of servitude to Deity becomes utterly overwhelming.  Which means, if 'humanity' had a vote in what Adam (supposedly) chose to do in the Garden of Eden (Eve, being a mere woman, didn't count as a choice-maker), then "Obey God's death threat and back away from that dangerous knowledge" would have won out over "The Serpent is telling the truth, and he's nonviolent and reasonable to boot" by a complete landslide.

Now, at this point you'll probably spew out some assumption-based gobbledygook about how Adam "represented" humanity, or was the "federal head" of the human race, that we are all Adam (and thus responsible for his choice) in some esoteric symbolic sense, or some such, entitling him to make the decision for us.  "Humanity" has not chosen to die.  How do I know?  Because you and I are still drawing breath.  For several decades now, the United States and Russia have had between them the capability to obliterate humanity.  Never once did any President run on the campaign platform of promising to start a nuclear holocaust.  "I'm voting for the guy who'll kill us all!!!"  Well, OK, I'll grant you that those who voted to re-elect Bush so he'd start more wars and bring the Rapture sooner would qualify.  But then, most of humanity (e.g. China, Africa, Europe, etc.) didn't get a vote there, either.
Quote from: zacchaeus
In the same sense that people now are told that by doing certain things, they are going to die, i.e. be separated from God forever. By continuing to do those things, such people are effectively choosing to die.

LOL, you're making it sound as if A) there's no such thing as "Original Sin" (which makes us "sinners by birth" and not by choice) and B) the whole "salvation" vs. "hell" thing is the result of external circumstances for which God (if he existed) would have no responsibility.  You're evading the fact that the "choice" you're talking about is the simple ultimatum God is portrayed giving to Adam, and repeating through the rest of the Bible.  OBEY OR DIE!

That's it.  That's the whole message of the Bible, which you try desperately to cover up, and make it sound like something wonderful and sublime.  You worship a Mafia don in robes and halo.

"Well, Mr. shopkeeper, I'm here to help ya, but ya gots ta pay yer protection, see.  If ya don't, well, I'd really hate to see ya get hurt.  Accidents happen, capiche?  It's your choice."  You're like a shopkeeper who forks over the dough and then tells the wife and kids how the Don is like a loving father, and really has everyone's best interests at heart, and the other shopkeeper who got gunned down for refusing the Don's "protection," well, he made the choice to die, so it's his fault, not the Don's.

There is, however, a major difference: Mafia Dons actually exist and can carry out their threats.  A threat of violence is only as good as the agency making the threat.  There is no evidence that your god can carry out the threats his alleged press secretaries (Bible writers and ecclesiastical "authorities") make on his behalf.  Even the Catholic Church implicitly recognized this and took action to make the threats genuine.  Hence, the Inquisition.
Quote from: zacchaeus
As with early humanity, God would be quite justified to sit back and le us make that choice and be separated from Him forever.

Why do you insist on such evasive and misleading language?  We're "separated from him" now, to the point that it's not even possible to validate that he exists, so hey, it's not so bad.  But that's not what you're really talking about.  What you're really talking about is eternal torture in Hell.  That is not the same thing as being "separated from him forever."  We could be "separated from him forever" by having an afterlife in the Elysian Fields or the Summerlands, or by just dying and ceasing to exist.  Why don't you just drop the damn euphemisms?  Have the balls to come right out and say, "be tortured by him forever?"  You've already demonstrated that Divine sadism doesn't bother you.  Why not just be honest about it?
Quote from: zacchaeus
Quote
If your Sky King is really "omnipotent," why does he need obedient humans so badly?

To refer to God as Sky King is unnecessarily rude to me and other Christians because I find it disparaging. You may simply not be aware of that, or you may consider it morally acceptable to disparage someone's beliefs because you don't share them. In either case can you respect that I do consider it rude, at least for the purpose of this discussion.

How so?  The Bible repeatedly refers to God as a king. ("King of Kings and Lord of Lords" etc.)  It says he dwells in the sky ("The heavens are my throne and the Earth is my footstool") etc., and he's always surrounded by sky imagery like clouds.  He's called "the Most High."  Go to any Catholic cathederal on the planet and you're likely to find a fresco or stained-glass window portraying God as a king, usually surrounded by clouds and winged angels/cherubs.  It's all Sky King imagery.  If you find that offensive, then it's time to tear down a whole lot of Catholic churches and sell off all that art in the Vatican.
Quote from: zacchaeus
To answer the question. God doesn't need humanity. God gains nothing from the existence of humanity. The existence of humanity is purely for the benefit of humanity. God would loose nothing by being separated from humanity. Humanity would loose everything. God would gain nothing by being reconciled to humanity, humanity would gain everything. God wants to be reconciled to humanity for humanity's sake, not His sake. In the same way that a good parent loves their child and wants to protect and nurture her, wants to be with the child in order to do that, so God loves and wants to protect us. A loving parent wants their child to be wherever it's best for their child.

Wow.  Your capacity for evasion and self-deception knows no bounds.  Let me get this straight.  Let's say I have a family.  I tell my kids they'd better obey me, or I will set up a stake in the back yard and burn them to death.  One of them eats a cookie before dinner when I told them not to because it would spoil their appetite.  And so, I take the child out back and burn her at the stake.  But I only wanted what's best for her!  I wanted her to save her appetite so she could eat a nutritious dinner!  But now that she's disobeyed me, all of my kids are "sinners" and deserve to burn at the stake, except for my eldest son.  He's OK, so I talk him into letting me torture him to death so i can spare the other kids.  Being a good-hearted boy, he agrees.  I torture him to death, and then tell the other kids that they burn at the stake unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood.  I'm a loving parent!  Really! 

Come on.  The Bible is not Dr. Spock's Guide To Raising Children written in poetic language.

Have you ever heard of the saying "Actions speak louder than words?"  What do God's actions say?  It's very, very simple.  From the beginning of the Bible to the end, God is portrayed as a King who demands the unconditional obedience of his subjects, and punishes them savagely if they do not obey.  Confronted with the prospect of human disobedience or alternative beliefs, God is portrayed lashing out with as much force as he and/or his followers can muster.  It is as clear as it could possibly be that the Biblegod is interested in "glorifying himself" and not in humanity's best interests.  Jesus even calls Peter "Satan" for seeking humanity's interests rather than God's.     
Quote from: zacchaeus
God knows the best place for us to be is with Him, so that's exactly where he wants us to be. However, a loving parent also knows that as a person develops, the dignity of that person requires freedom of choice, and they love their son or daughter enough to give them freedom of choice, even if it means choosing not to be with them, even if it means choosing to have nothing to do with them ever again. Though the parent knows their child will suffer because of that decision, their love for the child and respect for their independence means that they abide by it regardless. The same is true of us and God.

>sigh< Very well.  So, if someone chooses to have nothing to do with your God every again, he'll abide by that decision?  Since he will respect that choice, according to your words, then unbelievers don't have to worry about the whole "Last Judgment" thing.  After all, you can't be dragged before the royal throne and forced to bend the knee and "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" if the "Lord" in question respects your choice to have nothing to do with him.  Given the kind of "parent" your God is portrayed as being in the Bible, we would not "suffer" for that decision any more than a brutally abused child "suffers" for getting removed from sadistic parents.  >rolls eyes<
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #97 on: June 27, 2011, 03:28:34 PM »
Xianity and Astrology part 5: morality

Zaccheus, every grand-scale atrocity was justified at the time by some "wider context" that was supposed to make it all right.  If you asked Hitler why he killed the Jews, he'd say he was vaccinating the body of the Volkish State against a racial infection that had caused Germany's defeat in World War I.  If you asked Stalin why he killed tens of millions of people, he'd explain that the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was infected with reacitonaries, and that by curing its illness, he was paving the way toward the inevitable worldwide socialist utopia in which everyone would be equally prosperous, the State would wither away, and we would all live happily ever after.  Chairman Mao could justify the Cultural Revolution as purging China of the rigid Confucian traditions that had held its progress back for so many centuries.  Etc.

In all these cases we can ask if the "omelets" these guys were cooking up were worth breaking so many human "eggs" to produce.  Since most people, Christians included, rank these guys at the top of the list of history's villains, we can all agree that the answer is "no."  If we strip away the rationalizations given by these monsters and look at their actions, it's not too hard to see that it was really about the leaders achieving power and domination, and getting cowed masses to unthinkingly do their will.

But, if the people committing the genocide happen to have dressed like Nativity Scene re-enactors and did it in the parts of the Bible we don't read to the kids in Sunday School, well, then what we call the ultimate evil anywhere else is suddenly transmuted into goodness and light.  The Bible is often much clearer and more open about the "wider context" than most Christians like to admit.  Again and again the Bible states openly and with blatant clarity, that the "wider context" is about God garnering for himself power and domination, and cowed masses who will unthinkingly do his will.  "Every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords"  Jesus will "put all things in subjection to himself"  And on, and on, and on.  You can wring your hands and whimper about God's perfect love all you like. 

The Bible could not make it more clear that "what it's all about" is the great King in the Sky getting people to worship, praise, and "glorify" him.  And this isn't just the OT.  In the Book of Revelation, as prologue to promises of torture and massacre that make the OT look like The Sound of Music, we are treated to a scene in Yahweh's throneroom, in which he has himself surrounded by hideous Lovecraftian monstrosities who serve no other purpose than to continually chant "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord" over and over again, forever; and "Elders' representative of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and the Twelve Apostles of the Church throwing their crowns at his feet and prostrating themselves before him.  In fact, the brutalities of Revelation are conducted as a worship ritual, with angels sounding trumpets, pouring out vials of incense, etc., which have their effects of unleashing utter destruction upon humanity.

The idea of mass ultimate brutality as worship of Yahweh could not be made more plain.

Of course, if you believe in an all-powerful Sky King who lives in a Borg Cube made out of gems and transparent gold, then it would be understandable that you'd accept the "wider context."  "Well, God is lots bigger and stronger than us, and he says he knows best, and he does really, really bad things to his enemies, so...well, yeah, it was perfectly OK for Moses and his merry men to kill the Midianites and rape their virgin daughters.  Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!"

However, if either: A) Yahweh does not exist except as an idea in the minds of his followers, or B) He does exist, but is not as powerful as all the "I am the Mighty Oz!" bombast in the Bible would lead us to believe,[1]then there is no reason to accept the "wider context" as valid.  In the latter case, we have the option of fighting him.[2]  Even if Yahweh does exist and is invincible, there is still the possibility of deciding to go to Hell with one's morality and honor intact rather than spending eternity toadying before an ultimate cosmic monster...

So then, the crucial issue becomes: is your "wider context" valid?  Does Yahweh exist, and if so, how powerful is he really?  If you cannot substantiate his existence and unlimited power, then you are adopting a rationalization for genocide for no reason.




 1.  . Despite the claims of vast, invincible power and complete foreknowledge, whenever Yahweh is portrayed "in action," he is not shown to be an omnimax.  Such alleged events as the Flood and the nuking of Sodom and Gomorrah imply considerable destructive power, but he is fairly regularly caught by surprise after going away for awhile (e.g. what was going on before the Flood, the Tower of Babel narrative, etc.) and on one occasion, got his ass pwned by guys with chariots (Judges 1:19)!
 2.  The Book of Revelation (19:11-19) tells us that Yahweh is predicting a great cavalry engagement, and that Jesus will ride out on horseback to fight with a sword that comes out of his mouth.  I imagine that Israeli F-16's and Merkava tanks would prove to be quite an unpleasant surprise to Jesus and his fellow equestrian soldiers.  Of course, the langauge of Revelation is highly allegorical, so the Charge of the Jesus Brigade need not be taken literally.  However, for a "divinely-inspired prediction of the future," it is remarkably rooted in an iron-age context, i.e. no Mahabharata-style descriptions of military aircraft and nuclear weapons. 
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #98 on: June 27, 2011, 03:31:08 PM »
Case agains jesus H

Quote from: james51
Quote from: Malachi151
    * Philo, a prolific Jewish writer who lived from 20 BCE to 50 CE, wrote extensively about the political and theological movements throughout the Mediterranean, and his views foreshadowed Christian theology, yet he never once wrote anything about Jesus. Not only this, but he actually wrote about political conflicts between the Jews and Pontius Pilate in Judea

This would have been more impressive had the writer been a greek or Roman. I don't think the Jews would have had a vested interest in admitting Jesus Christ ever existed.
Even today they make laws to try and erase Jesus from history, at least Israeli history.

If Philo had been Greek, you would say, "Well, it would have been more impressive if he had been a Jew, since the Greeks and Romans weren't interested in Jewish messiahs" or something along those lines.  The Jewish Conspiracy Theory falls because A) the Gospels claim the Jews attempted to 'spin' the Empty Tomb with a 'Disciples stole the body theory' rather than trying to suppress all Christian writings.  B) The Book of Acts portrays the renowned Jewish teacher Gemaliel arguing that Christians ought to be left alone, on the premise that if their religion was "of man," it would fail anyway, if "of God," it would be unstoppable.  This event allegedly happened after the life of Christ-.  In other words, even the Gospels do not portray any Jewish authorities even discussing the idea of suppressing Christianity and accounts of Jesus' miracles until after Jesus' death, and even here they take a hands-off policy.  By this time, given his interests as known from his writings, Philo would already have written extensive commentaries on the astounding miraculous events that had been happening for the last three years. 

If Jesus had really existed and worked so many miracles that "the whole world could not contain the books" needed to record them, there would have been many thousands of eyewitnesses from many countries (cf. the Pentacost story) who had seen the miracles or personally received them.  It would have been impossible to cover up, especially for the Jews, whose policing power in Judea was extremely limited.  Especially since, by the time they got around to trying, tales of the great Jewish wonder-worker would have spread well beyond the boundaries of Judea.  Furthermore, Philo was not a fundamentalist Jew, so he would not have been inclined to heed any fundamentalist cries for censorship anyway.  And, given the vast scope of the alleged miracle-working, the Jewish Conspiracy would have had to resort to spin ("This 'Jesus' was a Satanic magician, not the Messiah!  He did not free Israel from Rome and re-establish David's Kingdom, did he?  Where in the Scriptures does it say that God begets sons with human women?  That is Pagan claptrap!")  They would have had to publish such spin early and often, "Big Lie" style.  The writings of the Jewish Conspiracy would be full of denunciations of the evil magician Jesus and warnings not to be led astray by his sorcerous disciples, just as Christian writings include many denunciations of "cults" like Mormonism. 

Joseph Smith--whose "miracles" were pretty much limited to the claim of having translated golden plates seen by a handful of his early followers (sound familiar?) received a great deal of denunciation in contemporary writings (newspaper articles, church sermons, etc.).  A real-live miracle-working godman able to do things nobody else on the planet could, doing them right in the middle of the strategic crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, would have received even more attention, even if most of it was negative propaganda.  Reports of a Jewish messiah-claimant able to feed thousands out of a lunchbox, heal major injuries, cure diseases and raise the dead (think of what that would mean in terms of supplying an army on the march) would have put the whole Roman Empire on red alert.  He would have been the single greatest threat the Empire faced at the time.  Entire Legions would have been tasked with bringing him down. 

The very best the "historical Jesus" school can do is reduce him in stature from a miracle-working God-man to an insignificant itinerant preacher that nobody but his followers cared about until heavy layers of exaggeration and myth (the miracle-stories, etc.) accreted around him in the centuries that followed.  A "Jesus" who wandered around the desert, saying a few pithy statements and not even approaching the level of Plato, Aristotle, or Pythagoras as a teacher of wisdom or a creator of a philosophic system is not one many Christians would care to worship.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #99 on: June 27, 2011, 03:35:13 PM »
A Sermon from the Dark Side...

Quote from: Isaiah 45:7
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things]

Such things are only a mystery for those who wish to have a God that is only goodness, love, sweetness and light.  But such is not the God of the Bible.  Yes, the Bible says "God is love," but it also says God is jealous, that his "name is Jealous."  Jesus tells us to love our enemies, but he also tells us to hate our families. 

Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, and from the Cross he says "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do."  Yet, he also promises to return with his heavenly legions to "tread the winepress of God's wrath"--to squash masses of people like grapes and splatter his robes with blood!  To rule with a rod of iron and shatter the nations like pottery!

The doctrine of Heaven tells us that God's love, mercy, and kindness for those who serve him is eternal.  The doctrine of Hell tells us that God's wrath against those who reject him is equally eternal.  To simply think upon the fact that God will be filled with furious wrath--forever--as a permanent manifestation of who he is, as an eternally ongoing manifestation of his nature, that will disabuse one of the notion that God is a simpering cosmic Care Bear!

God is in the parasitic wasp as much as he is in the rainbow.  We can see him in the beautiful reds and oranges of a sunset, or the reds and oranges of an Ebola sore eating the flesh of a child.  Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Ebola virus looks like a shepherd's hook!

God may be the author of the moral laws we are to obey, but he himself is not bound by morality.  If he tells us we are to love our enemy, then we are to love our enemy.  If he tells us "thine eye shall not pity them"--that we should be the first to throw the stone at a beloved family member who would have us worship another god--then that is what we are to do.  Did God create humans to be ethical creatures?  No!  It could not be any clearer.  The book of Genesis tells us that Man was complete, "good"--exactly as God wished him to be--without any capacity to tell "good" from "evil." 

To become a servant of God is to toss aside "morality," which comes from the Serpent rather than God, and choose obedience, obedience that knows neither "good" nor "evil."  Even these limp-wristed "goody-goody" Christians know this.  Simply ask them about the Book of Job, or any of the many, many times God commands that violence be done, or does it himself, and they will immediately squirm to find ways to exempt God from morality while upholding it for everyone else.  What these people refuse to see is that God is indifferent to morality, justice, and all of these human concepts with which they would box him in! 

Here is the truest, clearest description of God in the Bible.  God is not a thing that can be evaluated by man, even as good.  To call God good is to judge him, to say he ought to be this, and not that; that he ought to form the light and not create darkness, make peace and not create evil.  No wonder then that atheists can tear down this notion of an only-good God!  To hold up rainbows and kittens as proof of God, while pretending tape worms, lampreys, and hideous deep-sea fish do not exist is to tell God what he should and should not create.  And to go further still, and say that "sin" created parasitic wasps and cheetahs whose swift, graceful beauty exists to rip out the throats of gazelles?  Where do we find such nonsense in the Bible?

In Genesis, it is God, not "sin" or some other external force that pledges to raise up thorns for Adam and his descendants, and it is he who cursed women with painful childbirth that often resulted in death for both mother and child.  In the Bible, God never tries to pass off responsibility for these things onto the Devil or anyone else.  He openly proclaims his authorship of it.  Who are you, you rainbows-and-light Christians, to tell God what he can and cannot create?
Quote from: Isaiah 45:9
Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! [Let] the potsherd [strive] with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

And lest you try to whimper that the Old Testament is "fulfilled" and thus can be ignored, look to the use the Apostle Paul makes of this verse in the ninth chapter of Romans!  What does the Bible tell us God really is?  Power.  Pure, absolute, total, power unrestrained by any limits of puny "morality!"  And this too is what the parasitic wasp and the Ebola virus would teach us about him, written in the book of creation.

BWAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAAA!!!

[/Dark Side]

Whoa...was my head spinning all the way around? :)
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #100 on: June 27, 2011, 03:40:36 PM »
That stupid fig tree

Quote from: xaleia
Jesus and the fig tree has always confused me, even as a Christian.  Why would Jesus, in such pointless anger, kill a tree for not having fruit during an off season?  If I saw someone take an axe to a tree just because there were no apples during the winter, I certainly would doubt their ability in rationalizing, and I would doubt their ability to control their anger.  Jesus was perfect, so why the irrational response?  On second thought, why does he overturn tables in the temple?  Certainly such a rash response is uncalled for.  Anyone who reacts in such a way to trifle situations is usually seen as an aggressive, unreasonable person.

Am I coming about this in the wrong way?

I think these things (especially the fig tree) are probably more like Zen koans than news accounts of "what Jesus did."  I think the evidence is pretty overwhelming that "Jesus" is the "Jewish Edition" of the perennial dying-resurrecting godman myth/Mystery Religion that pervaded the Mediterranean world at the time (Osiris, Dionysus, Attis, Tammuz, Bacchus, Mithras, etc.).  Even if there was a "historical Jesus" what we have of him are heavily hagiographic and mythologized accounts.  The name "Jesus" itself is a construct.[1]  It does not come close to transliterating the Hebrew name "Yeshua."  What it does do, is add up to the number 888 (Greek letters were also numbers, so every word had a numerical value).  In music, 888 is the string ratio of the full tone (the interval between C and D).  In Greek sacred geometry, it also embodied the Logos (harmonizing proportion) that united the spiritual and material realms.[2]

At least some of Jesus' miracles, such as the "miraculous catch of fish" and the "feeding of the 5,000" encode gematria/geometric diagrams representing the Hellenistic cosmology with "Jesus" as the Solar Logos, it makes sense to consider the possibility that his actions as portrayed in the gospels may also have hidden meanings that would have been taught to initiates into the "Inner Mysteries" (i.e. the Gnostics).  Jesus is portrayed saying so, i.e. that he speaks in parables so that "they" would not understand, "they" being people who were considered unprepared to receive the secret teachings.  Such a saying also would have been read by a Gnostic as encouraging the reader to probe beyond the literal surface (e.g. by employing gematria and sacred geometry to solve the puzzles and/or using meditation and the like) to find the Mystery teachings hidden within.

Odd stories like this would also trigger a Gnostic-oriented reader to wonder, "OK, what is this really about?"  A prime example of this is in the miracle of the "miraculous catch of fish."  Jesus tells his disciples, who are fishing without luck, to cast their net on the other side of the boat.  They do so, and get a huge catch, but they haul it in without breaking the net.  Then we're fed the detail that there were 153 fish.  This makes no sense from a literalist perspective.  Who cares how many fish there were?  Who would even count in that situation, and why record the number?  It turns out that 153 is part of the ratio of height to width (153:256) of the vescica piscis or "sign of the fish" (this became the "Jesus fish" we see on cars) that is formed when you draw two circles of equal diameter so that the edge of one touches the center of the other.  This is the fundamental starting point for geometric construction (drawing forms such as the regular polygons).  Other words in the story such as "Fishes" and "The Net" turn out to have number-equivalents that can be used to create a complex geometric diagaram[3] representing the "Three Worlds" of Hellenistic cosmology.

Even if we go with the "mythologized historical Jesus" model, it is unlikely that hagiographers who were busily turning their philosopher/teacher into a miracle-working superhero (much less ingenious mythmakers encoding complex sacred geometry and gematria into their writings) would record a random temper-tantrum. 

I'd have to do some research to try to figure out what the fig tree story means, but my "throw a dart blindfolded" guess at the moment is that the idea of a fig tree producing fruit out of season would represent the unexpected and mysterious nature of spiritual transformation, and that the tree's "refusal" to receive enlightenment (produce fruit) at the prompting of the Solar Logos would result in its "withering."  The tree, of course, would be representative of a person, or humanity in general, the story teaching that people "shrivel up" in a metaphorical/spiritual sense if they just "go along" in ordinary life waiting to bloom until they're "supposed to" (which, if the theological and political authorities have their way would be never, or only in the "season" after death i.e. you'll be a wise godlike being then, just don't try it now!).

Before anyone says, "Oh, come on, what a bunch of mystical gobbledygook to rationalize Jesus being a jerk!"...

1) This is a "throw a dart blindfolded" guess at the story's meaning, so it could obviously be wrong.

2) The overwhelming preponderance of evidence says the Gospels (including the ones the Catholics didn't want in the Bible) are mystical allegories, not literal biography/history.  In which case, it is to be expected that they would be full of what could be called "mystical gobbledygook." 

3) The fig tree thing is a lot easier than all that stuff about weeping and gnashing of teeth in Hell.  But then I think it's probable that the canonical gospels are composites, at least some of the material the result of different oral traditions being merged.  Examples would include how sometimes "Jesus" sounds like a Jewish fudamentalist (quoting the Hebrew Bible as authoritative, saying that not one jot (yohd, the smallest Hebrew letter) or tittle (serif, a small bump or protrusion on a letter--some Hebrew letters can only be told apart because of serifs one or the other has) will disappear from the Torah "until all things be fulfilled," hanging out with Zealots (Jewish fundamentalist rebels), etc.  At other times, Jesus sounds like a Gentile philosopher.  "It says in your Torah X, but I say Y," (if he was a Rabbi, wouldn't it be his Torah too?), repealing various ordinances at will, such as working on the Sabbath and ritual handwashings.  This would make sense if a "Jewish fundamentalist" version of the Messiah/Godman were merged with a Gnostic/Hellenistic version.  Such mergers of different accounts are fairly common in the Bible.  So perhaps the "fire and brimstone" parts come from the Jewish-fundamentalist strand (IIRC the Dead Sea Scrolls contain a lot of apocalyptic and "fundamentalist type" literature) while the "get along with Gentiles" parts (Jesus' praises for Roman centurians, Samaritan women, etc.) and the "love and peace" stuff comes from a Greek-influenced Gnostic tradition.  Literalist Catholics then cherry-picked the available material (oral traditions, etc.), merged it and edited the resulting products to be suitable for "canonization."


 1.  Jesus Christ, Sun of God by David Fideler, p. 264
 
 2.  ibid, pp. 266-267
 
 3.  ibid, pp. 291-308 
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #101 on: June 27, 2011, 03:43:40 PM »
That stupid fig tree

Quote from: IateGodHeWasBitter
kcrady,

If all that is true, I still fail to see the relevance of any mystical mumbojumbo in my life.  I guess I was left wondering whether you are an atheist interpreting the scriptures in light of historical documentation and conjecture...or come from some mystical tradition that requires that you take available historical material, conjecture, et al, and then build up a case to defend one specific personal interpretation?   **I realize that I may not have exhausted all possibilities for this situation.  Realize my intent isn't to provide for every contingency, but to understand where you are coming from.**  Honestly, if you do believe in extra-biblical traditions, I would enjoy hearing about it.  I always like to learn something new, and I would love to debate its validity upon hearing it.

Actually, I'm not really arguing that "all of that is true."  I guess "atheist interpreting the scriptures in light of historical documentation and conjecture" would come closest to the mark.  In this case I was explaining why I don't think the Jesus/olive tree story was intended as a literal recording of a temper-tantrum by Jesus.  It reminds me somewhat of a Zen story I once read:
Quote
There was a Zen Master who, when he began to teach, would raise his index finger.  He had a young student who would imitate him, raising his finger in exactly the same way.  One day when the student did this, the Zen Master chopped off his finger in a swift motion.  The student cried out and asked the Master why he'd done this, but the Master said nothing.  Then, next time he was teaching and rose his finger, the student went to do the same, and became enlightened.

Now, if this is taken as something that literally happened, the "Zen Master" is a brutal, dangerous psychopath that ought to be in jail.  However, if it is taken as a myth along the lines of Aesop's Fables, it does have an important lesson to teach, namely that "enlightenment" (whatever that is) isn't found by imitating anyone else.  The student "found enlightenment" because he was no longer able to imitate the Master, and thus had to become his own Master.  We humans do have a very strong tendency to play "monkey see, monkey do" and "follow the Leader," so as a parable this story conveys one of the most important things we can learn--to use our own heads instead of becoming Followers, and does so in memorable fashion.  Taken as literal biography on the other hand, it sanctions Zen Masters cutting off their students' fingers on a whim, which is obviously not a good thing! 

Likewise, a person literally using magic powers to shrivel an olive tree for not producing fruit out of season on command would be a nutjob.  Since the writers obviously did not intend to portray "Jesus" as a nutjob (well, they could have been nutjobs themselves, expressing a wish that their stupid tantrums would involve special effects...), it seems more likely to me that a bizarre detail like this is intended to alert the reader that "there's a puzzle here--try to find the answer."  Kind of an ancient-world version of Myst. :)

Regarding "where I'm coming from," what I've read so far on this website seems to match my current thinking pretty well (I've mostly just watched the videos so far, so it's possible I could disagree with some of the other content).  I'm very skeptical of "miracle-type" claims in general, but I do assign a low probability (around 25% or so) that psi and certain other "unexplained phenomena" could exist based on evidence from studies that seem to demonstrate above-chance results for certain psi abilities.  I consider the scientific method to be the best fact-accumulation/error-correction protocols we have for finding out "what's really going on out there."  I'm somewhat skeptical of Big Bang theory (while admitting my knowledge of the necessary mathematics, etc. is limited) and much more so of things like String Theory and Brane Theory, which, in the context of my present knowledge rank with UFO's and Sheldrake's "morphogenetic fields" on the low end of the evidence scale--if that high.

I am skeptical of mystical beliefs (especially things like "channeled" screeds about extraterrestrials with names like Kryton that express nothing but Care Bear platitudes and don't even make good science fiction), but I do have respect for some mystics/mystical traditions, ones that reject dogma and seek to accumulate techniques by which adherents can explore consciousness.  E.g. Sufi Islam (as opposed to Fundamentalist Islam), Gnostic Christianity (as opposed to Literalist/Fundamentalist Christianity), Kabbalistic Judaism (as opposed to Literalist Judaism), Tantra, Buddhism, people like Israel Regardie and Robert Anton Wilson.  In other words, mystics who reject dogmatic assertions (even their own) and encourage people to explore on their own, offering techniques in much the same way that scientists offer experiments.  It does turn out that these mystics tend to agree with each other far more than they do with the Fundamentalist/Literalist versions of their own "traditions" (e.g. a Gnostic Christian, a Sufi Muslim, and a Kabbalistic Jew will agree more closely with each other--and with, say, a Buddhist or a practicioner of Ceremonial Magic(k), than they would with "their" religions' literalist/fundamentalist doctrines.

This is not to say that the mystics' version of reality is true, only that their explorations seem to be venturing into the same territory, because the maps they make are similar.  Various mystical practices such as meditation or shamanic use of entheogens (mushrooms, ahuyasca, peyote, etc.) do seem to generate experience of "oneness with everything" and the like.  Using advanced brain-scanning techniques, it has been shown that certain areas of the brain do shut down during "mystical experiences" of this sort, in particular the "Orientation Association Area" that enables us to distinguish "ourselves" from "everything else."  (The book Why God Won't Go Away explains this research).

This gives us two basic "models," as I see it:

1) "Mystical experience" is something that happens only in the brain, basically a deliberately-induced malfunction.  The shutdown of the OAA doesn't mean "we are all one" any more than wearing a blindfold makes the universe disappear.  Mysticism is bunk.

2)  By shutting out external stimuli and cross-chatter in the brain (the stream of thoughts), the brain becomes able to "tune in" to Something Else, perhaps something like a direct experience of quantum non-locality mediated by structures in the brain that (may) exhibit quantum properties (e.g. the microtubules; see The Emperor's New Mind by prominent physicist Roger Penrose and Entangled Minds by Dean Radin).  This "brain-quantum interface" could also be the basis for an explanation of psi (if it exists) and perhaps (alleged) phenomena like synchronicity.

I think that Model #1 is "in the lead" evidence-wise, but we are still only at the beginning of the quest to figure out exactly how the brain works (though our technologies for figuring this out are getting better, faster), and I think we have some major new discoveries in physics ahead as we finally figure out how quantum mechanics and relativity fit together.

I do not believe in the Magic Sky King of the Bible or any other anthropomorphic Invisible Superhero/-ine, but it does seem to me that there's a "Deeper Mystery" that could perhaps be comparable to the "God" of Spinoza, Einstein, and Buckminster Fuller. 

Anyway, enough about me...  How did you go about eating God?  Did he have stringy meat?  Give you indigestion? :)  Reminds me of the T-shirt that says, "God was my co-pilot, but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him."
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #102 on: June 27, 2011, 03:50:31 PM »
Jesus’ non-temptation

Quote from: Skitch
Quote from: Kryten
Well if he wasn't born with sin-nature, then he wasn't tempted like the rest of us are. 

Not hard for a man who goes through life having zero desire for women to be able to withstand being tempted by them.  But wait- I thought he was supposed to be tempted like every other man!??  But he had no built-in desire as is common to human males-- so it was easy.  Or if he DID have desires, then he's guilty of lust. 

You can't have it both ways.

I guess you missed this comment that answers your question or your just to stubborn to read:

"Although Jesus is fully human, He was not born with the same sinful nature that we are born with. He certainly was tempted in the same way we are, in that temptations were put before Him by Satan, yet remained sinless because God is incapable of sinning. It is against His very nature (Matthew 4:1; Hebrews 2:18, 4:15; James 1:13). Sin is by definition a trespass of the Law. God created the Law, and the Law is by nature what God would or would not do; therefore, sin is anything that God would not do by His very nature.

To be tempted is not in and of itself sinful. A person could tempt you with something you have no desire to do, such as committing murder or participating in sexual perversions. You probably have no desire whatsoever to take part in these actions, but you were still tempted because someone placed the possibility before you. There are at least two definitions for tempted:

1) Tempted - To have a sinful proposition suggested to you by someone or something outside yourself or by your own sin nature.

2) Tempted - To consider actually participating in a sinful act and the possible pleasures and consequences of such an act to the degree that the act is already taking place in your mind.

The first definition does not describe a sinful act/thought, the second does. When you dwell upon a sinful act and consider how you might be able to bring it to pass, you have crossed the line of sin. Jesus was tempted in the fashion of definition 1, except that He was never tempted by a sin nature because it did not exist within Him. Satan proposed certain sinful acts to Jesus, but He had no inner desire to participate in the sin. Hence, He was tempted like we are but remained sinless.


You're missing his point.  To be offered the "temptation" to do something you'd never want to do hardly counts.  If someone tried to "tempt" me with the prospect of torturing a six-year-old girl there'd be no "temptation" for me (except the temptation to get violent with the guy offering the "temptation," which I'd probably resist in favor of finding some way to get the guy in the back of a cop car). 

If Jessica Alba (especially before she bleached her hair) walked up to me in something nice from Victoria's Secret, slow-blinked those beautiful eyes of hers and started sliding the strap off her shoulder, you bet your bippy there'd be "temptation!"  It's not even a question of "consider[ing] actually participating in a sinful act and the possible pleasures and consequences" etc. as if there was some sort of logical deliberation involved.

Well, let me see...  If I make love to this gorgeous woman, it will obviously be pleausurable; however if I were to participate in this I should wear a condom so as to mitigate possible unwanted consequences such as pregnancy.  Perhaps I should also revisit Aquinas' ontological arguments for the existence of God, since Aquinas' God, if he exists, he would disapprove of me making love to Jessica Alba without marrying her first, and his disapproval can result in serious consequences indeed.  In which case I would then need to determine whether or not God would object to the wearing of the condom...

Doesn't work that way.       

In a situation like that, the whole physiological reproductive system would gallop ahead and have me "looking upon her with lust" before any faculty of "considering consequences" even got its boots on.  If you think your thoughts are really a matter of personal choice, try and stop them some time.  Just sit down, close your eyes, and try not to think any thoughts.  It can be done, temporarily--by people who spend years practicing.

Or try this one: don't think of a bear! 

Did you think of a bear?

Don't think of Jessica Alba naked!

How'd you do that time?  You sinner you! :)

Now, you're apparently suggesting that Jesus would have been completely indifferent in the latter situation and nothing Jessica did could give him an erection.  Well, gee, if I was impotent like that I guess I could resist "sin" pretty easily too.  Did Jesus have free will?  If he genuinely had the option of, say, peeking through a hole in the wall to watch Mary Magdalene getting undressed (and the inherent biology-based motivation to do so) and chose not to, you can say that he resisted temptation.  If the act of peeking through the hole in the wall to watch Mary M. getting undressed was not a possibility for him (because of inherent righteousness or some such) then he had no free will in relation to the choice to sin, so his "sinlessness" would be no greater virtue than the sinlessness of a remote control car.

If he had the free will to sin, but his mind was constructed in such a way that seeing Mary M (or Jessica Alba) naked (plus the subconscious sensing of her pheremones, etc.) would not generate an automatic "lustful" response, but that he could only manifest an increase in heart rate, blood flow to the nether regions, and sexual desire if he first deliberated on the prospect, contemplated the consequences (and after full consideration decided to go for it) then his consciousness would be fundamentally different from human consciousness.  Furthermore, the very idea that God can magically create a human without a "sin nature" combined with the common assertion that God really, really can't stand "sin" brings up the question: why doesn't God just insure that all humans are born without this "sin nature?"

God, presumably, is the Creator, the one who determined all of the "laws" of existence.  He chose to make force equal mass times acceleration, decided that sub-atomic particles should obey Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, picked a number for the gravitational constant, etc..  Given his amazing fortune-telling powers, he would have known that "sin" would enter the Universe--in fact, as Creator, it would have been him who determined the principles under which it operated.  Why, exactly, did he make it hereditary?  Think how much better his world would have been if humans all started out perfectly sinless and could only become 'sinners' after some process of deliberative consideration!  Why, exactly, did he decide that only the sacrifice of some innocent creature or sinless man could get rid of "sin?"  If he'd made "sin" a few orders of magnitude less powerful (it's treated as a power that can restrain God himself, i.e. force him to resort to sacrificing his Son, with no other optoins possible), he could have avoided the whole gruesome blood-fest of both Testaments, and most of the things that make us question his Perfect Goodnesstm

Why did God decree that "sin" should be such a powerful thing, anyway?
[Quote author-Skitch]
Those who hold to peccability believe that if Jesus could not have sinned, He could not have truly experienced temptation, and therefore could not truly empathize with our struggles and temptations against sin. We have to remember that one does not have to experience something in order to understand it. God knows everything about everything. While God has never had the desire to sin, and has most definitely never sinned – God knows and understands what sin is. God knows and understands what it is like to be tempted. Jesus can empathize with our temptations because He knows…not because He has “experienced” all the same things we have.[/quote]

No, he doesn't know and understand, any more than he knows what chocolate mousse tastes like.  He may have some sort of biology-textbook theoretical concept of what it would be like for an ordinary human male to be in the Jessica Alba scenario I've described, but he does not know "in the Biblical sense."  Interesting thing, that.  The Hebrew word for "know" is synonymous with sexual union--the very epitome of direct experience.  If Jesus walked around like a meat-robot, with sexy dancing girls being no more desirable or tempting to him than rocks, he can no more know and understand our "struggles and temptations" than you can really understand what it is to be a fly and find putrified rotten meat delicious and a great place to raise kids.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #103 on: June 27, 2011, 05:02:01 PM »
Hmmm... not so good this time. The astrology bit and "a direct experience of quantum non-locality mediated by structures in the brain that (may) exhibit quantum properties" let down other observations. On the question of the temptation of Christ, he could have mentioned that God was unlikely to take Satan up  on any offer. I did enjoy his references to "Sky King" given Yahweh's origins - he should have pushed that further.
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. Ambrose Bierce

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #104 on: July 12, 2011, 06:45:21 AM »
Reincarnation

Quote from: notself
Quote from: L6
And yet some Buddhism sects yield to science when it proves them wrong. Doesn't that make more sense? This whole soul-birth thing is making things more complicated than they need to be. You can't have widsom without facts and experience, and this falls under neither.

I think rebirth gives a simple answer to the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"  "Why do bad people seem to be rewarded with good things?"  Good action has good results: bad actions have bad results: not all results are expressed in one lifetime. 

This is arguably the most loathsome doctrine of the Eastern religions.  Take the case of Adolf Hitler.  Let's say he keeps getting reincarnated as starving African children, and/or children who are horribly brutalized by their parents, i.e. as the "bad results" of his "bad actions."  Now, each of those children has no real consciousness of being Hitler.  Even if they have a few dreams/memories/visions/whatever of being Seig-Heiled at a Nuremburg Rally and the like, this is not the same thing as Hitler receiving any sort of "results" for his actions.  The person that was Hitler dies and basically "gets away with it," while innumerable innocent children--most of whom will have no Hitler-memories whatsoever (based on the apparent rarity of such memories in general) suffer horribly because some invisible somethingorother tangentally related to Hitler happened to get together with the sperm and egg from which they grew.

Which means: the guilty (those who actually do the bad actions) get off scott free while innocent people who themselves did not do the bad actions, suffer for them.

I've heard it said that a rapist will later be reincarnated as a rape victim.  Which means: A) Rape victims "had it coming" and B) An ongoing supply of new rapists is needed to punish each succeding generation of reincarnated rapists.  Which means: C) The vicious cycle just keeps going 'round and 'round.

As I see it, this concept of reincarnation ranks right up there with the Christian doctrine of Hell in terms of pure evil and sadism.

Why is it that humans have such a propensity to worship evil/incorporate evil ideas into what are supposed to be their highest thoughts and aspirations?  Religion is generally supposed to represent the very best in human thought, i.e. our ideas of perfection, "Universal Love" "Truth and Righteousness" etc., but it always seems to accumulate the worst, most heinous ideas we can come up with.  Not to mention exhibiting/sanctioning the very worst behaviors we can think of.  And I'm using "religion" very broadly here, to include the various ideological "religions of the State" (which replaced God in Heaven with a Hegelian concept of the State as a superorganism individuals exist to serve) from the French Revolution to the Communist China.
Quote from: notself
There is no soul inTheravada Buddhism.

As for science, how can it prove or disprove rebirth?

Since you have provided no evidence in favor of rebirth, it is an arbitrary postulate with no connection to reality.  "Venus is populated by invisible, incorporeal dragons."  Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of Venusian dragons.  That is no reason to consider their existence as a probability.  Merely stating that they exist (without providing any evidence) does not conjure them into a 50/50 probability of existing.  It is up to the Thereveda Buddhist to provide evidence in favor of "rebirth."  Otherwise, Occam's Razor lops it off as an unnecessary complication.  The scientific model of conception and natal development works quite well without a "rebirth" hypothesis.

« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 07:34:23 PM by screwtape »
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #105 on: July 12, 2011, 06:49:57 AM »
Did christ really exist?

[the thread begins here, but kcrady does not jump in until page 2]

The fact that there are no contemporary artistic representations of Jesus isn't such a "big thing" to me.  The vast majority of people in the ancient world were never commemorated by artistic representations.  Even famous people like Socrates and Pythagoras do not (to my knowledge) have any surviving artistic representations made during their lifetimes.  Furthermore, the Jewish prohibition against representative art (the Second Commandment) would probably have been a hindrance to making a statue of Jesus.  Of course we could argue that Jesus, being a miracle-working superman, could have seen to it that an artistic representation was created and preserved.  But then, as we have seen, the Biblegod generally doesn't like art, except for things like the sculpted cherubim for the Ark of the Covenant (interesting that the Biblegod would violate his own Second Commandment to produce his "holy artifacts," isn't it?).

However, I consider the New Testament itself to be compelling evidence that Jesus is a myth, and not even a non-miraculous Jesus Seminar-style "historical Christ."  What, exactly, do we have as the "New Testament?"  First, there are four "Gospels" (selected by church authorities out of dozens) written decades after the events in they portray, with questionable authorship.  The rest is an ad hoc collection of old mail!

Now, just for a moment, imagine yourself in Jesus' sandals.  You've come to earth to promulgate the most important teachings ever taught and do the most important deeds ever done on the face of the Earth.  What people come to believe you are about to say and do will redound through 2000+ years of history, with eternal consequences for billions of people.  Wouldn't you... write a book?

Why leave the job to others?  Even if you're not a miracle-working superman who knows the future, if you believe your teachings really matter, it only makes sense to write them down yourself.  If Paul could procure the means to get scrolls and writing materials as an itinerant tent-maker, obviously Jesus, descendant of the royal line of David (his family was presumably able to record not one, but two geneologies--well, they contradict each other, but still!) surrounded by loyal disciples, possessed of enough money for Judas to bother imbezzling (as is implied in one of the Gospels, as I recall) would have been able to get some scrolls together.  If he actually had the Amazing Miracle Powers, then he could have multiplied scrolls Loaves-and-Fishes style like a walking printing press.

Jesus could have spelled out in detail what is, and what is not the doctrine he wanted taught, how he wanted his Church to be organized, exactly how his "New Covenant" relates to the "Old" and so on.  Using his super powers (or in the Jesus Seminar scenario, the styluses of a few dozen dedicated followers) he could have replicated enough copies of his works to insure that they would be authoritative and known as "canon" long before any heretical movements even startred.  This would have saved the Christian Church from many schisms and disputes over doctrine. 

Instead, the Church had to try to figure things out as it went along, picking which books out of a confusing multitude of gospels and alleged letters ought to be part of "the Bible," defining and explaining doctrines not explicitly spelled out (e.g. the Trinity, the specific meaning and nature of Jesus' humanity and divinity, eschatology, salvation, etc.) and then voting on what is and is not Christian scripture and doctrine.  Certainly a clumsy way to go about it, especially when the issues in question are supposed to be the most important things, ever!

Protestants reject the claimed Apostolic authority of the Catholic Church (while, for some reason, trusting the Bible it compiled under the dubious auspices of Emperor Constantine).  Even the most devout Roman Catholic has to admit that Catholic clergy are fallible men.  Why would Jesus trust the very foundation of Christianity to such men, especially men of the Roman Empire at its most decadent?  Any one of us would, if we believed we possessed the most important teachings in the history of Universe, write them down ourselves instead of just telling our friends and hoping that the people they tell (or the people those people tell) will write them down accurately decades later.  It's just common sense.

The very fact that a "Book of Jesus"--even one pseudonymously written--ought to have been authoritative enough to have provided incentive to write one makes its absence conspicuous.  Why didn't anyone write such a book?  To me, the absence of a "Book of Jesus" indicates that for the early Christians, it was understood that "Jesus the Christ" was a mythic God-man whose words and deeds exemplified the spiritual quest of the individua and not a person who walked the shores of Galilleel.  Anyone trying to promulgate an "Book of Jesus" (i.e. a book supposedly written by the physical hand of a real, living God-man) in those crucial early decades would have been laughed at, like somebody now trying to promote a book written by the historical Luke Skywalker.

By the time Literalism began to take hold, it was already too late.  Everybody knew there was no "Book of Jesus."  It was much easier to weave the doctrine of Apostolic Succession out of a few cryptic words of Jesus to Peter and back it up with Roman force.  A Pope with the power to speak ex cathedra has more power than one
hemmed in by a clearly-written "Book of Jesus" anyway (yet another incentive for a real Jesus to have written one...).


« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 10:58:08 AM by screwtape »
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #106 on: July 12, 2011, 06:51:23 AM »
did christ really exist? pt 2

UnkleE:

It all depends on what you mean by "Jesus."  I am not arguing against the idea of some itinerant preacher named "Yeshua" who walked around Galilee for awhile and ended up being crucified.

I am arguing against the notion of a literal Godman routinely violating or changing the generalized principles of physics (walking on water, resurrecting people dead for 4 days, etc.), who was omniscient, omnipotent, etc., etc..  Do you have an "established scholarly consensus" that this Jesus existed? 

I consider the existence of a mundane "historical Jesus" (i.e. an ordinary human being who may have been a faith-healer like Benny Hinn, but not a genuinely super-powered incarnate God) to be a separate issue than the existence of the "Jesus" of traditional Christianity.

If I were to go and prove that there was a reporter for a major New York newspaper in the 1940's named "Clark Kent," that would not prove that the original Superman comics were historically accurate, even if their author based the "Clark Kent" character on a real person.  You are doing the equivalent of showing a news story with the byline "Clark Kent" from the 1940's and saying, "See!  this proves that Superman is real!" 

Your scholars can accept a "historical Jesus" only by cherry-picking the Gospels to cut the Jesus-character there down to size, so that contemporaries like Philo of Alexandria (who wrote about Pilate's rule of Judea, and whose own beliefs foreshadowed Christianity) would not have known about him.  The events that clearly didn't happen, like Herod's "slaughter of the Innocents" are just ignored.  As are the miracles themselves (I challenge you to cite your list of scholars saying Jesus really fed 5,000+ people out of a lunchbox).  We've had this argument before, and as I recall, the best you could assert from your "scholarly consensus" regarding "Jesus'" magic powers was that various miracle stories may have appeared in the original gospel manuscripts. 

I would be interested to see a quote from any scholar who is not a Christian apologist providing some theory as to how Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven (maybe he used nanotechnology and a gravitic tractor beam from his mothership?) because there's just sooooo much historical evidence that it really happened.

If you want scholarship, read David Fideler's Jesus Christ: Sun of God.  This book clearly demonstrates that the Greek name Iesous ("Jesus") was deliberately constructed (doesn't sound to much like "Yeshua" does it?) to be the core of a system of gematria and sacred geometry, and that at least two of the "miracle" stories--the Feeding of the 5,000 and the Miraculous Catch of Fish--are gematria/sacred geometry puzzles intended to reveal to initiates "Jesus" as the Solar Logos.

Since the title of the thread is "Did Christ Really Exist" I've been acting on the premise that we're talking about a super-powered incarnate omnipotent god walking on Earth.  Your scholars are arguing in favor of an itinerant Messiah claimant who claimed miraculous powers and caused a minor nuisance for awhile.  There were plenty of those.  If you want to debate the existence of a particular wandering faith-healer, we can do that.  Do you concede then, that the super-powered incarnate God thing is a myth?
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #107 on: July 12, 2011, 07:38:05 AM »
Did christ really exist, pt3

Did Superman Really Exist?

Thanks to the compelling testimony of the early Superman manuscripts, no serious scholar questions his existence.  The Earliest Superman manuscript we possess, Action Comics #1 dates from 1897 B.S.M ("1938" in the pre-Space Migration calendar), which is contemporary with the period of Superman's life.  This manuscript accurately depicts Superman's era, including detailed depictions of ancient American dress, technology, architecture, social attitudes and morality.

This manuscript also reflects real historical conditions of Superman's time.  We see his conflicts with organized crime, a significant problem in ancient America we know about from other sources.  Later manuscripts feature the Second World War.  A recently discovered manuscript fragment appears to show Superman promoting the purchase of war bonds, a form of financing believed to have been employed at the time.

Skeptics who reject the historicity of Superman have attempted to argue that "Metropolis" was a fictional city, since no maps of ancient America show a major city with that name.  However, some later manuscript fragments portray Superman in relation to known ancient American landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.  Thus, we can positively identify Superman's chosen residence as ancient New York City.  With regard to Superman's nativity and childhood, the province of Kansas mentioned in the Superman manuscripts does appear on ancient American maps.  Archaeological excavations indicate that it was in fact a conservative rural area, as described in the Superman manuscripts.

Some have attempted to argue that the Superman manuscripts were originally written as a kind of fantasy literature.  However, the accuracy of historical detail and the real historical locations and situations the Superman manuscripts depict rule out this theory, as every genuine historian agrees.  While the exact nature and source of his powers remains unknown, the ancient Kryptonians may have enhanced their capabilities using nanotechnology and, perhaps, a cybernetically-implanted dark energy accumulator to provide the means of his aerial propulsion.  His "strength" is most likely also an application of dark energy-based manipulation of the spacetime metric, reducing the mass and inertia characteristics of matter locally rather than hefting it by brute force alone.  This would explain why he was able to throw exceedingly heavy objects without being cast in the opposite direction by Newtonian reaction.

Liberal scholars admit the possibility that writers in the comic genre may have employed artistic liscence at times, perhaps exaggerating Superman's abilities, on the premise that he is metaphorically portrayed as the apotheosis of ancient American values--'Truth, Justice and the American Way'--so that his strength is that of his adopted homeland, his flight represents American ascendancy (heavier-than-air flight was coming into its own in those days, and appears to have been highly admired by the Americans of Superman's time).  The earliest Superman manuscripts portray him as being able to leap great distances, but not sustain powered flight, lending some credence to the liberal position, especially in regard to later Superman manuscripts.

However, despite these controversies, no serious scholar today would assert, as some have in the past, that Superman is a myth.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #108 on: July 12, 2011, 07:41:05 AM »
Language of god

Quote from: VoiceOfReason
Would it not be fair to contend that point on the basis of the language barriers that divide cultures across 2000 years? It is almost always true to state that meaning is lost in translation and with the almost indescribable magnitude of the cultural gulfs in addition to that, all the unspoken assumptions are also lost or misunderstood.

 Perhaps these ambiguities would not have caused problems at the various times when they were written? Furthermore, would it also depend on the nature of the ambiguity and specific examples?

Does the fact that ambiguity can be used as a stylistic technique preclude the automatic assumption that an author of ambiguity is "incompetent"? I don't know but I would very much like to read a response from someone who can clarify these issues.

This is actually a really good argument for debunking the idea that an infinitely intelligent superduperbeing capable of creating billions of galaxies with a thought would resort to a book, any book, as its means of communicating with humans.  Especially a book (well, anthology to be more precise) written by a single culture within a tiny geographic region, with billions of people still lacking access to said book, which is now culturally obsolete (even devout Christians must study up on Hebrew and Greek words, historical research on obscure ancient Jewish cultural practices and idioms, etc. in order to have a decent go at understanding it), and ambiguous/contradictory enough that devout Christians can disagree with each other for centuries on what it says on important issues (e.g. free will vs. predestination, the extent to which baptism is required for salvation and what sort of baptism, whether the Biblegod is a Trinity or not, what any of the eschatological stuff means, etc., etc..).

The Bible can only be seen as "divinely inspired" if the purpose of the deity in question was to spew a lot of confusing ink like an octopus, rather than actually communicate effectively with humankind.  If the purpose of the Bible is to mislead and confuse, it does a brilliant job.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #109 on: July 12, 2011, 07:44:01 AM »
On jesus

As much as we can disagree with Skitch's methololgies for citing sources, I think this one is actually interesting and revealing.

Note how the theologian openly admits that for the Gospel writers, literary concerns trumped fact.  They moved events around (relative to other gospel writers) for literary purposes, such as placement of the climactic reveal of who Jesus was, wrote pericopes about figless fig trees to critique Temple Judaism for failing to "bear fruit" and provide a house of prayer for the Gentiles, and so forth.  They made little effort to reveal the personality of Jesus.  Now, if Jesus was really God-in-the-flesh walking on Earth, every moment of his life would be a revelation of the Divine, and supremely important.  Yet, as the theologian points out, we get almost nothing of his life, and only a few scraps of teaching (compared with the volume of teachings we get from a mere human follower like the Apostle Paul). 

Instead, the writers focus heavily on Jesus' death.  His teachings and miracles are really only a set-up to tell us why his death matters.

All of this makes perfect sense if Jesus is "the Jewish Edition" of the perennial mythic God-man.  We never learn anything about Osiris' personality, his teachings, his taste in clothes, the royal edicts he issued while ruling Egypt in "the First Time."  But we do learn exactly how he died, how his body was chopped into pieces by his brother Set, and scattered, how his wife set out on a quest to re-gather his body, how she restored him to life and conceived his son Horus, and how he became the Judge of the Dead.  We never learn anything about what Horus was like as a child, either.  Only that with the aid of Isis and Nephthys he had to escape Set's minions bent on killing the child of destiny, and about the battles he fought with Set after he had grown into an adult.  The same applies to the other God-men (Mithras, Attis, Dionysus, Tammuz, Adonis, etc.) whose myths parallel each other and Jesus.'

The God-man is meant to be a blank slate and not an individual, because "he" is an Everyman, a place-holder for the individual on the spiritual quest his story symbolizes.  The "death-and-resurrection" part signifies the regeneration of the natural and agricultural world (winter/night = death, spring/dawn-day = resurrection and life) as well as the Initiate "dying" as an ego concerned only with everyday life and becoming awakened ("resurrected"/"born again") to the notion of "higher" "spiritual" awareness.  Just as the Egyptians would identify themselves as Osiris and other gods (as is done frequently in The Book of Coming Forth By Day, aka "the Egyptian Book of the Dead") in order to actualize the resurrection myth in their own quest for eternal life, so Paul tells us that he is "crucified with Christ" and "raised with him," encouraging his readers to identify themselves with Christ as well.

Now, as atheists grounded in "this" Universe (do mystic experiences alone really show us that there is another?), we can reject this awakening-to-Gnosis stuff as hooey if we like, but it does seem to be what the Gospels (including the other 26) are about, rather than a literal, historical biography of an actual Incarnate God-man with calluses on his feet.  The theologian's "literary talk" is just more evidence for the "Jesus is a myth" theory.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #110 on: August 02, 2011, 10:56:24 AM »
Did christ really exist?, pt 4

This post comes from a 41 page thread where kcrady does most of his best posting on the old forum.  I will repost many of his posts from there, but you should definitely go read the whole thing for yourself.  There are many other good contributors to that thread.

UnkleE, I've started reading your links.  This one does seem to make some good arguments against the strict Mythicist position.  However, from what I've seen so far, the "historical Jesus" they're arguing for--an itinerant preacher and faith-healer who was largely unnoticed in his time, but became a minor nuisance to the authorities until they had him crucified--is still a far cry from the character portrayed in the New Testament Gospels.

Returning to my Superman analogy, let's say that scholars were to discover some evidence that there was a newspaper reporter named Clark Kent who was active in the late '30's and '40s, who had a girlfriend named Lois (also a reporter), that he was an orphan adopted and raised by Kansas farmers, and that he was an acquaintence of the creators of the original Superman comics.  Even if the evidence was fairly fragmentary--say, a couple surviving articles written under his byline, a few scraps of court records about the Kents' adoption of a baby they named Clark, and some testimony from other reporters who worked at the newspaper ("Ayuh.  I knew a Clark Kent once.  Nicest feller ya'd ever care t'meet.  We used t' tease him about them Superman comics all the time.")--scholars could accept that this was "the historical Clark Kent."  Being a "mild-mannered reporter," he would not attract the notice of the greater society around him, so it would be no surprise that he is not mentioned by other contemporary sources, and so on.

So, given this sort of evidence, we could accept the existence of a "historical Clark Kent."  But does this validate in any way the conclusion that this "historical Clark Kent" was in fact the Last Son of Krypton, a super-powered being who came from the heavens and repeatedly saved lives, even the whole world, with his amazing powers?  No.  Why not?  We have the "Superman manuscripts" (the early comics written by people who knew the historical Clark Kent), and those manuscripts contain a lot of accurate historical documentation of the background of 1930's and 1940's America, far more detailed in fact than what the Gospels offer for their time period. 

The reason the "Superman manuscripts" cannot be taken as proof of the existence of Superman, even if one could provide good evidence for a "historical Clark Kent" is because the ramifications of Superman's activity would extend far beyond those comic books.  A real-live super-powered alien man flying around saving the world, bouncing bullets off his chest and so forth would have made a huge impact on his world, even bigger than the impact he has had as a mythical character (I bet even the guys hiding in caves with Osama bin Laden have heard of "Superman"). 

Contemporary historians would have mentioned him prominently.  The many thousands of people who had seen and been saved by him would have passed the tales on to their children and grandchildren.  There might be physical evidence, such as cars he had lifted and thrown being preserved by admirers as souvenirs.  Political rulers would have either seen him as a threat, or tried to ally with him.  Military planners would have started developing scenarios to respond to the possibility of other, hostile Kryptonians.  Samples of Kryptonite would have been highly sought-after by governments and organized criminals alike.

In short, a "historical Clark Kent" could have existed without making a splash.  A "historical Superman" who actually did the things attributed to him in the comics, could not have.  The scholars you cite rely on the premise that we can examine the Gospel accounts and the question of the historicity of Jesus in the same way we would for any other historical figure.  I think there is an important distinction between Jesus and other historical figures, such as Alexander the Great: with other figures, historians can reject wildly exaggerated and/or supernatural elements of their narrative as a matter of course, even if the scholar in question accepts the existence of the supernatural.  For example, I do not know of any Egyptologist, Christian or otherwise, who accepts that Ramesses II did in fact single-handedly fight and best an entire army from his chariot at the Battle of Kadesh, prevailing because "Amun strengthened his arm."  Nor do historians accept magical birth-narratives for historical figures, such as the tale in the Alexandrian Romance that Pharaoh Nectanebo II (the last native-born Pharaoh of Egypt and a legendary magician) fled to Macedonia at the fall of  his kingdom and conceived Alexander the Great by disquising himself as the god Amun in order to sleep with Queen Olympias.[1]

Scholars simply wave these kinds of things off as accretions of myth or exaggeration, and irrelevant to the real historical person.  Which, for figures like Pharaoh Ramesses, Alexander the Great, and Pharaoh Nectanebo II, they are.

For Jesus, on the other hand, it is the supernatural elements, not the "historical" ones that matter.  Would any Christian worship the "historical Jesus?"  Sure, he may have said the Sermon on the Mount and some of the Gospel parables, but so what?  As a teacher, he does not compare with Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato, Confucius, or the Buddha.  Even in the New Testament his teachings play a distant second fiddle to his death, mystically atoning for the sins of the world as both High Priest and Sacrifice, and his miraculous resurrection and ascension into Heaven.  Take away all the miracles, and what you have left is exactly what the scholars propose as their "historical Jesus:" an insignificant wandering preacher who was unnoticed in his time, and would go equally unnoticed in ours.  Here is a quote from the above-linked article (it is copyrighted to James Hannam, but he is not given a byline as the author):
Quote
Occasionally people ask why there is no record of Jesus in Roman records. The answer is that there are no surviving Roman records but only highly parochial Roman historians who had little interest in the comings and goings of minor cults and were far more concerned about Emperors and Kings. Jesus made a very small splash while he was alive and there was no reason for Roman historians to notice him.

This is not what the Gospels say.  In the Gospel of Matthew, we are told that magi from nations to the east came to give Jesus gifts and revere him.  King Herod becomes frightened at this, "and all Jerusalem with him."  (2:1-3)  He calls together "all the chief priests and scribes of the people" (v. 4), so right away, when Jesus is still an infant or young child, the leaders of the whole literate caste are made aware of him and his importance.  Then Herod goes on to massacre all of the children in and around Bethlehem two years old and younger.

Before Jesus even learns to talk, he is said to have caused a rather large splash, drawing the notice of emissaries of important foreign kingdoms, panicking King Herod and the city of Jerusalem, being brought to the attention of the scribes and priests, and finally, triggering a major atrocity on the part of King Herod.  None of this is validated in any external account, even in Josephus, who chronicles Herod's atrocities closely.  The Gospels go on to portray Jesus working astounding miracles in front of tens of thousands of people, drawing huge crowds of followers, and at his death, causing literally earth-shaking events--a large earthquake, the rending of the Temple veil, the spontaneous emergence of people from their graves, and a darkness that covered the land. 

And not one of these incredible events is noticed by anybody but a small handful of Jesus' followers!  In one of the two skimpy and disputed accounts of Jesus in Josephus, he attributes the fall of Jerusalem to the Jewish establishment's killing of James the Just--not to Jesus, whose death was attended by cosmological special effects and resurrections from the dead!

Now, maybe a "historical Jesus" who was "called the Messiah (Christ)" existed, but the fact that for Josephus he was outshined by his brother James does not bode well for the hypothesis that this Jesus fellow was God Incarnate, endowed with amazing miraculous powers he demonstrated before tens of thousands, whose death literally shook the world and was followed by a miraculous resurrection and ascension into heaven.  That Jesus is still a myth that has more in common with the godmen of the Mystery Religions than with the man who was his supposed historical basis.   


 1.  Magic in Ancient Egypt by Geraldine Pinch, p. 162
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #111 on: August 02, 2011, 11:02:38 AM »
Did christ really exist?, pt 5

Quote from: moshydog
If the historical Jesus was (from the secular sources purely) the God-like being described in the gospels, would there be any need for the gospels, or faith?

Well, why should faith be necessary?  What you're saying is that God does all this collossal Cecil B. Demille special effects stuff (parting seas, stopping Earth's rotation for several hours, performing astounding miraculous feats in front of tens of thousands of people, etc.) and then does some kind of Jedi Mind Trick on all but a handful of followers so that nobody else will remember earthquakes, darkness, people clawing their way out of their graves a la Night of the Living Dead, etc., all so that we can only accept that any of this stuff is real by "faith."

In short: God works all kinds of astounding miracles (proves he exists by direct experience) but makes sure only his press secretaries (Bible writers) notice it.  Isn't he working at cross purposes here?  Trying to show off and hide at the same time? 

Again, what you're doing here is explaining why everything looks exactly the way it would if Jesus-the-superhero was a mythic construct/allegory.
Quote from: moshydog
The fact that there was a historical jesus, allows for the Jesus Christ described in the gospels,

No it doesn't, any more than finding a man named "Clark Kent" who lived in New York durinig the late '30's and '40's "allows" for the existence of a real, live Superman.  I wouldn't be surprised if there's a "Peter Parker" living somewhere in New York.  Does that "allow" for the existence of Spider-Man as a real person?
Quote from: moshydog
but (from the secular sources) could not point to him as the 'super jesus' described in the gospels, otherwise it wouldn't be secular, but would itself be another one of the gospel accounts. "The gospel according to Josephus" would be another book.

This would be a good point if all secular sources acknowledged that Jesus' super-powers meant he was the Incarnate Son of God.  This wouldn't necessarily be so.  Jewish elites could have written propaganda warning the people to stay away from the Satanic magician from Galillee.  Roman accounts might mention the deployment of several new legions to the area to reinforce the Judean occupation force against a magician-leader capable of healing, resurrecting, and feeding an army in the field without need of a supply train.  For the Romans, the Jewish Messiah would have been a military threat, not an eagerly-awaited Redeemer.  For Greeks, he might have represented a terribly interesting phenomenon, but lacking knowledge of his teachings or the Jewish Messianic expectations he was coming to fulfill, acknowledging his powers need not have automatically resulted in conversion to Christianity.

Again, in relation to Superman, Lex Luthor and his other enemies readily acknowledged his existence and his powers, without joining his side. 
Quote from: moshydog
Jesus, not being a significant political figure (much like superman) would have no reason to be mentioned in a political historians narrative.

That's assuming the point you wish to prove.  If Jesus had really been a super-powered descendant of the royal Davidic line, claiming to be the Messiah and the Incarnate Son of God, he would have been a significant political figure.  Even if he did not pursue political power himself, the very existence of a super-powered man who claimed to be the Messiah would have major political effects.  The Gospel of Matthew claims that he did have major political effects, as a toddler.  No external evidence for this, of course, but surely the local rulers would have been more worried about someone walking around raising the dead and feeding thousands out of a lunchbox than they were about a 2-year-old boy from Bethlehem. 
Quote from: moshydog
I would not be surprised that, say if superman had visited earth 2000 years ago, whether he would have gotten much of a mention in the course of political history and in the historical books (other than his revolutionary fashion statements). And even if he did get a mention (say, by those who were close to him and found his real identity), i would think that only those with "an open mind to the possibility" would actually believe he existed...

Well, I'm sure that after he whipped a Roman legion or two single-handed as part of his heroic campaign to rid the world of Roman oppression and started teaching the Gospel of Truth, Justice, and the American Way, that he would have been noticed.  Unless you're suggesting that he'd just hide in a cave somewhere and pretend not to exist.  That doesn't seem to fit his character. :)

Again, all of your reasoning here adds up to providing explanations for why everything looks exactly the way it would if Jesus the miracle-working superhero were a myth just like Osiris or Apollo.  Why would God bother working huge, blatant miracles if he wants things to look as if he doesn't, so that we have to accept his existence only by faith?

This whole thing of God working astounding, grand-scale miracles but making sure there's no evidence and no one but a few followers notice, is like saying, "Preach the Gospel to all nations--just don't tell anyone!"

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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #112 on: August 02, 2011, 11:09:10 AM »
Did christ really exist?, pt 6

UnkleE, as GG pointed out, most of the items on your list are common enough, especially in that time of extreme Messianic expectation.  The name Yeshua ("Jesus/Iesous" is a construct of Greek gematria, not a proper transliteration of a Hebrew name) was also apparently fairly common as well. 
Quote from: Matthew 27:16, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Third Edition, NRSV translation
At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesusg Barabbas.

g Other ancient manuscripts lack Jesus

(annotation:) 16: Jesus Barabbas, later manuscripts omit Jesus (note g) either to avoid confusion or because it had become a sacred name.

Here we see, even in the Gospels, another fellow named "Jesus" arrested at the same time and held in the same dungeon.  It is also interestnig to note that his surname, "Barabbas" means "Son of the Father."  He is decribed as a "robber" and also as being involved in an insurrection (in other words, probably a rebel rather than an ordinary bandit).  Jesus' own charge, which was nailed to his cross ("Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews") is also one of subversion and rebellion against the Empire.

If even the Gospels record another "Jesus" whose last name could indicate a claim to being the "Son of God," who also had made a nuisance of himself and was about to be crucified, it would not be surprising that there should be at least one "historical Jesus" that fits the criteria you gave.  In my opinion, there are some indications that the "Jesus" of the NT is a composite character.  At times, "Jesus" is portrayed as a Jewish nationalist, claiming that he had come only for "the lost sheep of Israel," having a number of Zealots (Jewish rebels) among his inner circle, and claiming that "not one jot or tittle (yohd or serif) would disappear from the Torah (Law) until all things are fulfilled."  The Temple Police and the Romans are portrayed as declining to molest Jesus while he taught in the Temple because they were "afraid of the crowd."  In other words, this crowd is not a bunch of turn-the-other-cheek pacifists.  He is arrested at night while he is alone to avoid having his (seemingly militant) followers start a riot.

At other times he speaks of the Torah as if he were an outsider.  "It says in your Torah X, but I say Y"  A Jewish Rabbi would hardly refer to the Torah as if it wasn't also his!  I'd have to go back digging into the links you gave, but as I recall, even some of your scholars point out that Jesus fits the mold of a wandering Cynic sage, and some of his practices (e.g. celibacy) were foreign to mainstream Judaism, but traditional for Greek sages.  This "Greekish" Jesus advocates paying taxes to Rome, carrying the packs of Roman soldiers, etc. and sets out to repeal the Jewish Torah.

I am not a professional NT scholar, but it seems to me that the "Jesus" we see there is a compilation of at least two different characters, one a Judaic fundamentalist, one a Hellenized Jew or perhaps even a Gentile.  This would be possible if you had enough "sayings of Jesus" (coming from more than one person by that name) eventually being assimilated together into the hybrid of Judaism and Greek thought that Christianity has always been.  Looking at the various sects of early Christianity, they form a spectrum of Judaism/Hellenism, with the Ebionites on the "Jewish" end, the Gnostics on the "Greek" end, and what was to become "orthodox" Roman Catholicism more or less in the middle.   

Perhaps scholars have evidence against this "composite Jesus" hypothesis.  However, it still seems that a would-be Messiah or prophet named "Yeshua" getting in trouble with the Romans at that time was a common enough occurrance that the Gospels provide us with not one, but two of them!

This leaves only two of your list items that could provide for a "historical Jesus" that is exceptional and potentially supernatural:
  • His tomb was empty
  • His disciples "saw" him in some fashion after his death

The first seems to be called into question by the Tabliot tomb.  Of course, the claim that this is the tomb of Jesus and some of his family members (including Mary Magdalene and their son Judah!) will no doubt be hotly debated.  Ironically, this is the only direct physical evidence we have that a "historical Jesus" existed, that I know of.  The tomb contains ossuaries labeled with the names of Jesus' family ("Joseph" and "Mary") and one that could be Mary Magdalene, who is not genetically related to "Jesus" (hence, likely a spouse).

Regarding Jesus' "post-resurrection appearances," the Gospels provide us with more intriguing clues.  Matthew 14:12 and 16:14 say that there was a fairly widespread belief in Jesus' time that he was a resurrected John the Baptist.  Given that he and John the Baptist are supposed to have been born at the same time and had a fairly close relationship, the currency of such a belief is striking.  If so many people could believe that Jesus was a resurrected John the Baptist, belief in a resurrected Jesus is no surprise.  Several of the "post-resurrection appearances" of Jesus portray the disciples not recognizing him until later, or until the person they're talking to says something that makes them think of Jesus.  In the context of people "seeing" Jesus as a resurrected John the Baptist, it is not hard to imagine disciples "seeing" some other person they meet on the road as a resurrected Jesus.  Throw in a few "Elvis sightings" and mystical visions like Paul's, and you have a story of a resurrected Jesus spreading rapidly among his devoted followers.

Within the context of the Mythicist theory, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy[1] argue that the Gnostics portrayed Jesus having a "twin" in a number of different ways,[2] this serving as an allegory of his "Higher Self" and his "eidolon" or outward image/ego-self.  "Jesus Barabbas" would fit this hypothesis, as a remnant of an allegorical portrayal of one "Jesus" (the eidolon) suffering and dying while another (the eternal "witness"/"higher self") does not, being indestructible and untouched by suffering.

John the Baptist and Jesus are portrayed as reflections (or photo-negatives) of each other.  John is born of an old, barren woman at the time of the summer solstice (representing the "declining Sun" as winter approaches) while Jesus is born of a young virgin at the time of the winter solstice (representing the "unconquered Sun" as the longest night of the year is passed and days become longer, leading to the "resurrection" of Nature in the spring).  John says "He must increase while I must decrease," indicating this solar symbolism.  On another level, John represents the eidolon of the initiate, which "decreases" as the initiate moves to greater levels of spiritual realization as a Christ.  On still another level, John represents the descent of "spirit" into the material realm (this linked with the "decling Sun" astrological symbolism) while Jesus represents the return journey of "spirit" to the "pleroma" ("fullness") of pure, beyond-everything Divinity, which takes place as the initiate achieves greater and greater Gnosis.

At the time of Jesus' baptism, John "passes the torch" to Jesus, and Jesus is portrayed immediately going forth and preaching the same message John preached ("Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand").  This links them together into a continuum.  Thus, the Gospel descriptions of this odd "Jesus = resurrected John the Baptist" belief could represent a clue to the initiate of the symbolic meaning of John/Jesus as the Solar Logos, rather than as a literal statement that people actually believed a "historical Jesus" was a resurrected "historical John the Baptist."

These mythic allegories need not be mutually excusive to the existence of a "historical John" and a "historical Jesus."  In Galatians 4:21-31, Paul uses the "historical" figures of Sarah and Hagar to allegorically represent the New and Old covenants, as well as a mystical Heavenly Jerusalem in contrast to the earthly Jerusalem, with Christians being represented by "the child of the promise," i.e. Isaac as opposed to the child of the flesh (Judaism/Ishmael).  Whether or not these people existed as historical figures has no effect on the meaning of Paul's allegory.  In the same way, a "historical Jesus" and a "historical John the Baptist" could have been used (along with a corpus of astrological symbolism, sacred geometry, gematria, and OT prophecies) as the scaffolding on which to build the mythic God-man we see in the Gospels ("canonical" and otherwise).


 1.  . I have read some sites that provide good evidence that their scholarship is of dubious value, at least with regard to the question of a "historical" Jesus vs. a "myth-only" view.
 2.  The Jesus Mysteries, pp. 102, 103, 110, 117-118
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #113 on: August 02, 2011, 11:13:53 AM »
Did christ really exist?, pt 7

UnkleE:

So far as I can tell from your posts, these scholars of yours do not have any evidence for Jesus except for the Gospels, and maybe a couple of dubious passages in Josephus.  That's it, right?  Do they have anything else?  If not, then your continuous invocation of them sounds a lot like Argument From Authority.  Sure, a scholar can read the Gospels, and decide that something astonishing must have happened with Jesus' body because of the "change in the disciples."  Another scholar can read the Gospels and decide that the "change in the disciples" is a literary device to show how awesome "Jesus" is, like Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Here's an excercise for you:  Go pick up a copy of Income Opportunities or any other magazine oriented toward home business or entrepreneurship.  Flip through it and look at some of the ads.  I guarantee you you'll find lots of ads for "get rich quick" schemes that follow a simple formula:

"I was dead broke and deep in debt, I'd just gotten fired from my job and the creditors were hounding me--until the phone company cut me off.  Then, I discovered [insert name of GRQ program here] and my life was changed!  Now I drive a Ferrari Testarossa, I'm married to a French model, and I have a $3 million mansion, working 10 hours a week.  And you can too!"

The purpose of this sort of "literature" is to use the person giving the testimony as a model to demonstrate the wonders of the "program."  First, he is portrayed as something of a hopeless dolt (fulfilling the "embarrassment criterion" your scholars point to as evidence of truth), but then, he discovers the Amazing Secret, and is transformed.  Using the criteria your scholars provide, we ought to accept "get rich quick" schemes as true.   

With regard to the Gospels, we have to take the Gospel writers' word and their word alone (unless you can provide some external evidence, which you haven't so far).  How do we know the disciples were clueless dolts until they discovered the Amazing Resurrected Jesus and became miracle-working martyred superheroes in their own right?  The Gospels say so.  How do we know Jesus was famous as a healer?  Not because his renown extended to interested observers like Philo of Alexandria or any other external evidence--but because the Gospel writers tell us he was famous.  How do we know he was crucified by Pontius Pilate?  The Gospel writers say so.  How do we know his tomb was empty (unless it turns out to contain a bunch of ossuaries, including his own...)?  The Gospels say so. 

So far, you've provided lots and lots of quotes from scholars stating conclusions, and not very much in the way of actual evidence (apart from their interpretation of...the Gospels) upon which they base their conclusions.  I'll grant you that a professional New Testament scholar has some advantages over the rest of us, in that he can read Gospel manuscripts in the original languages, compare the styles of writing, minor lingustic changes, etc. to date and categorize manuscripts, and so on.

But we are not dealing with anything that technical.  Right now, we're asking questions like:
  • If a man could feed tens of thousands of people out of a lunchbox, would the tens of thousands of people being fed notice? 
  • If he raised people from the dead, healed lepers, and did so many great things that "the whole world could not contain the books" needed to record them, and did it in a strategic crossroads between Europe, Asia, and Africa, would anybody notice or care? 
  • Would his legend spread, or would he only be known by his followers? 
  • If a man claiming to be the Jewish Messiah was known to have the ability to miraculously feed thousands of people in the desert, control the weather, heal grievous injuries and raise the dead, and had huge crowds of followers, would the Romans have considered him to be a military threat? 
  • If, at the moment of his death in approx. 33 C.E. or so, a "great earthquake" struck Jerusalem, and an enveloping celestial darkness fell upon the land, followed by people spontaneously emerging from their graves, would the literate caste that lived in Jerusalem notice?  Would they need to provide some kind of explanation to prevent panic?
  • If there was a "great earthquake" in Jerusalem in 33 C.E. or so, would there be any physical evidence, such as shearing in the Wailing Wall or any other structures dating from before that era, cracking and shifting in Hezekiah's Tunnel, evidence of new buildings being constructed on top of earthquake-destroyed 1st Century, buildings, geological evidence of fault-line shifting, etc.?

For these sorts of questions, I do not think scholars have a monopoly on truth.  Any one of us can read the Gospels (and other Biblical accounts of grand-scale miralcles) and get a pretty good idea of what sort of events are being described.  Being human beings, we can imagine human reactions to such events about as well as any scholar.  If a Gospel account says Jesus fed 5,000 men (and who knows how many women and children)--and did so because he was renowned enough to attract such large crowds to come see him even in the harsh Judean desert--it doesn't take an "expert" to grasp that something like this would be a "big deal."  We're not talking about your classic UFO abduction story that happens to some yahoo hunting elk alone in the middle of a national forest here.

And Pilate and the Roman military, upon hearing that a man claiming to be the Jewish Messiah could feed, heal, and resurrect an entire legion (at least!) in the Judean desert without the need for a baggage train, were supposed to have said, "Meh.  Couldn't possibly be a problem.  We're not worried about some super-powerful Jewish magician.  We'll just ignore him." 

All these scribes and Pharisees Jesus argues with all the time see no need to alert the Rabbinical councils of the existence of someone working actual miracles (as opposed to the usual faith-healer chicanery), claiming to be the Messiah, and offering radical new teachings?  These same scribes make no effort (outside of...you guessed it--the Gospels!) to debunk or defame him?   

The Rabbinical councils make no attempt whatsoever to discover whether this person doing all these astounding feats for as long as three years is A) the Messiah, or B) a magician and deceiver?  They managed to find time to rule on things like serving meat and milk together, and how many steps you could walk on a Sabbath without "working." 

BTW, the frequent appearence of Jewish scribes in the Gospels debunks any claim that Jesus' miracles were seen only by a few illiterate rednecks.  If you can provide some scholarly evidence that these scribes were illiterate, please do so.  The special effects around the crucifixioin happened in Jerusalem, a major city, at the time of the Passover when it was thronged with Jewish pilgrims from all over the known world.

Now, if your scholars could provide evidence that people in the First Century were utterly uninterested in miracles and strange phenomena, to the point that they could say, "Oh, a bunch of people crawled out of their graves alive during the big earthquake and inexplicable darkness when that miracle-worker died?  >yawn<  Hey, did you see Zedekiah on Judean Idol last night?  He was awesome!" maybe you'd have a case.  From what I've read on the era, people were utterly fascinated by miracles, and flocked to "miracle workers" like Catholics to a Mary-shaped smudge on a tree.  To suggest, as you do, that the kinds of miraculous events described in the Gospels could go unnoticed by the literate caste even when some of them are described as being on the scene (the "scribes and Pharisees") seems as miraculous to me as the alleged miracles themselves.

Does one really have to be a New Testament scholar to think that the "Jesus" described in the Gospels would have attracted a lot more notice than that of a tiny little cult?  This is like saying that a UFO landed in Central Park, its alien occupant stepped out and spent three years traveling around New York state demonstrating alien super-technology, followed by a week-long teach-in at the United Nations in front of a crowd so large the NYPD and the National Guard didn't dare try to disperse it--and only the Raelians cared enough to write about it, decades later. 

To me, this just strains credibility, and all the ex cathedra pronouncements by "mainstream scholars" in the world, given in the absence of any actual evidence, don't seem that impressive to me.



[next post, not worth making new post here...]
BTW, UnkleE:

What do you think of Sai Baba?

Roswell UFO crash: True or false?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 11:19:06 AM by screwtape »
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #114 on: August 02, 2011, 11:19:55 AM »
Did christ really exist?, pt 8

UnkleE:

With regard to your appeal to scholars, there is one important fact you seem to be overlooking: The Gospels have been translated into English.  This work has been done by--scholars.  Now, I grant you that when it comes to things like dating an ancient Greek NT manuscript by looking at the way the letters are written, describing what sort of dyes and fabrics would have existed in Jesus' day, or explaining an event described in the Gospels in terms of obscure ancient cultural practices or linguistic idioms, that non-experts like us will generally have to resort to scholars in lieu of doing years' worth of research ourselves.

However, one does not have to have a post-doctorate degree to read the Gospels, because the fellows with the post-doctorate degrees have already done the work for us and provided translations of the Gospels (as well as Gnostic and other manuscripts) into modern English.  What this means is that ordinary people can read the Gospels and get a pretty good idea of what they portray Jesus saying and doing.  Ordinary people can also read some history books and get a fairly good idea of what the Roman world was like in terms of culture, technology, dress, and so on.  Again, scholars do the heavy-lifting, i.e. writing the history books.

We can know things like the fact that Jerusalem in Jesus' day was a fairly large city with about a hundred thousand people living there, that Herod's Temple was one of the grandest places of worship of its time, etc.  We can learn that ancient Judea was an important crossroads (this being one of the reasons it was fought over so much throughout history).

This isn't quantum mechanics.

You try to offer me a choice between these alternatives:
Quote from: unkleE
The alternatives are (1) Don't speak until we both become experts, (2) rely on experts, or (3) make it all up without bothering about the facts.  I know which I will choose.  I would be interested to see how you as a person who (I believe genuinely) supports evidence based beliefs can justify any other stance.

I choose option (4): Look at the evidence for myself.

The Gospels have been translated into English.  I can read them myself.
  • Do they say Jesus performed amazing supernatural feats like feeding thousands with a few loaves and fish, controlling the weather, and raising the dead?
  • Do they say he attracted large crowds, even in remote areas?
  • Do they say he healed many people of maladies ranging from blindness to leprosy to demon-possession?
  • Do they say he was noticed and either feared or honored by important political figures of his day, such as kings of the Herodian dynasty and emissaries from foreign nations (the Magi)
  • Do they say that he had frequent contact with literate people ("scribes") and that these literate people personally witnessed at least some of his amazing supernatural feats?
  • Do they say that at the moment of his death, on the outskirts of a major city (Jerusalem) that there was a series of astounding events including a "great" earthquake, people spontaneously emerging from graves, and a mysterious darkness[1] covering the land, and the veil of the Temple being rent[2] from top to bottom?

All of these questions can be answered by reading a modern English translation, and all can be answered in the affirmative.  From there it becomes a matter of simple common sense.  If these astonishing events all happened in front of many thousands of people would those thousands of people notice and react? 
Would the literate people among them be inclined to write about them, either in affirmation or denial?  Would the elites who had been threatened by Jesus enough to crucify him have felt the need, before or after, to widely disseminate some form of counter-propaganda?  Would the Romans, faced with an already restive population (this fact available from any decent history book, no postdoc degree required) have felt militarily threatened by a miracle-worker who could supply and replenish an entire rebel army[3] in the harsh Judean "wilderness?"  Would writers who were alive and writing about Judea at the time these amazing things were taking place write about less interesting things (e.g. Pilate causing uproar by displaying Roman military standards in Jerusalem) while ignoring grand-scale miracles and wonders no one has ever seen outside of myth and legend?

So far you have not provided anything approaching proof or even an explanation why only renowned scholars can answer such questions.  You have only invoked them and pasted quoted opinions as talismans.  Unless you can provide some explanation of how the facts at question here are accessable only to professional scholars, their opinions are just opinions, based on the same evidence the rest of us can see for ourselves.  Which means we are entitled to form our own opinions. 

This isn't quantum mechanics.

Regarding your attempt to draw a comparison between the evidence for evolution and the evidence for Jesus, I can go into a museum and see fossils.  There are no museums I know of anywhere on the planet that contain physical proof of a Jesus miracle, or physical proof of even a mediocre non-miraculous "historical" Jesus.  Correct me if I'm wrong.



 1.  I recall reading that this darkness could not have been a mundane solar eclipse, because Passover is celebrated on a full Moon, so the Sun is on the opposite side of Earth than the Moon, hence a solar eclipse is an astrophysical impossibility.
 2.  One wonders how the Gospel writers ever found out about such an event since it would be unlikely to be publicized by the priests, and if it had been it becomes a mystery why only the Gospel writers were told.
 3.  The ability to supply an army without a baggage train (heavy, slow wagons carrying the large amounts of food, etc. the soldiers need) would provide a powerful military advantage.  Such an army could move much faster than a conventional army and would not have to post a rear-guard to protect its supplies.  It would not need to purchase or "forage" (loot) new supplies when those ran out, so it could remain in the field at greatly-reduced cost, and would be able to focus solely on its military objectives.  Add the ability of its leader to cure major wounds and even resurrect dead soldiers, and it becomes an utterly formidable force.
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Re: Kcrady - old school
« Reply #115 on: August 02, 2011, 11:25:17 AM »
Did christ really exist?, pt 9


Quote from: unkleE
kcrady:

Thanks for your further contributions.  Whatever criticisms I may have about your methods and conclusions, I certainly cannot fault your commitment and effort.  (Someone back there accsued me of being patronising, although I note you made no such objection, so I had better add that this is not a patronising comment [nor was the previous one!], but a genuine appreciation.)

To tell you the truth, your previous post did sound patronizing to me, I just didn't want to bother arguing over that.

You keep chanting about the "experts in history."  So far, despite pages and pages of your posts, you have yet to provide even a single datum of evidence these experts are using to back up their opinions, besides the Gospels and those two dodgy Josephus passages.  Apparently you believe that reputable modern English translations of the Gospels are insufficient when it comes to analyzing them for historical validity.  Perhaps reading about the "great earthquake" (which apparently caused no physical damage), the earth-covering darkness, and the crowd of people crawling out of their graves at the time of Jesus' resurrection in the original Greek will make the stories sound more credible somehow.

Apparently, the Gospel manuscripts that only scholars can read contain crucial data regarding their historical validity that cannot be found by reading modern English translations by reputable translators.  What else are all those non-scholar Christians missing?  Given that the ironclad proof of the Gospels' historicity lies within those manuscripts only scholars can read, for all us non-experts know, there could be entire doctrines that are discussed only in the pages of technical journals.  Yet another good reason for Christians to trust their Bibles, I suppose.

Regarding your analogy to evolution, it is self-refuting.  You are able to describe areas of knowledge that scientific experts have that you do not, which can provide evidence for evolution.  You have not yet cited any form of evidence that NT scholars have that we do not, that would provide further validation of the Gospel stories, beyond the Gospel stories themselves.  To return to your analogy to evolution, it would be like me claiming that evolution is true because a renowned scientist, Charles Darwin, wrote a book that said so, and he must be right, while providing no evidence whatsoever beyond Darwin's say-so.  Even that is more than you've got for the Gospels, because Darwin described a great deal of evidence in his book (e.g. the Galapagos finches, etc.).

So far, all you've presented is the Gospels themselves, and a bunch of quotes from scholars claiming they're historically valid without providing any evidence, except for--the Gospels.  Apply the same standard to the Illiad, and we have to consider it historically credible that Achilles was magically invulnerable except for his heel.  We have the excavations of Troy, Mycenae, Agammemnon's tomb, etc., and to my knowledge there's solid scholarly consensus that the Trojan War happened.  Therefore, by quoting the Illiad to validate the Illiad, we can establish that the existence of the Greek gods, an invulnerable Achilles, an accurate-though-ignored prophetess Cassandra, etc. are historically credible positions.

Now, unless you're a scholar and can read the original manuscripts of the Illiad, you are therefore in no position to reject the historicity of Achilles as a supernaturally invulnerable (except for his heel) warrior.  Likewise, by quoting the Odyssey to validate the Odyssey, we can establish the historical credibility of Cyclopses, witches who can turn men into pigs, Sirens, and the rest.

Pharaoh Ramesses II inscribed a mural in stone on the walls of the Temple of Karnak describing the Battle of Kadesh, in which he was isolated from his army, but managed to beat the enemy army by himself from his chariot, because "Amun strengthened his arm."  Now, Egyptologists agree that this inscription was carved at his order, during his lifetime, after the battle.  That makes this, for all practical intents and purposes, an "original autograph" (i.e. an equivalent to a Pauline epistle written by Paul's own hand), the absolute gold-standard for ancient historical texts.  The mummy of Ramesses II can be seen today in the Cairo Museum.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Ramesses II is a real historical figure.  Therefore, by the standards you're applying to the Gospels, we have even more compelling reason to believe that Ramesses II bested an entire army single-handed because of the supernatural aid of the great God Amun. 

Skeptical?  Unless you can read Egyptian heiroglyphics, you're in no position to question the historical validity of Ramesses' astounding battle prowess.
Quote from: unkleE
So I have to ask you as I asked Star Stuff - if you are willing to accept the findings of experts on evolution and many other matters, are you also willing to accept the findings of experts on history as it relates to Jesus?

I can think of all kinds of things that people like Richard Dawkins know about biological evolution that I don't.  Supporting evolution is a vast store of data from virtually every one of the "hard" sciences--geology, physics, biology, anatomy, genetics, paleontology, cosmology, and so on.  Not being an expert in all these fields, but noticing the consensus of experts in these fields, which amounts to the entire scientific community in favor of evolution, I can accept and trust this consensus because all of the evidence I do understand for myself supports it, and I am well aware that they possess far more knowledge than I do.

Regarding the historicity of the Gospels, the only real evidence is the Gospels themselves.  That's it.  NT scholars do know lots about them that I don't, such as which passages were added later, what differentiates different "families" of manuscripts, how to tell a 5th Century NT manuscript from a 4th Century NT manuscript, and so on.  But when it comes to the basic story of Jesus as a superhuman being violating the known generalized principles of physics on a grand scale in front of large crowds, I can read that story as well as any NT scholar can

While we're talking about experts and scholars, I challenge you to provide one expert hydrologist who will agree that the surface tension of water is sufficient to support the weight of a human being walking on it without any sort of floatation device.  Find me one reputable physicist who will agree that it is possible to violate the Law of Conservation of Energy and Matter by pulling several thousand pounds of fish and bread out of a basket holding a quantity sufficient for one person.  Or how about a consensus of reputable meteorologists who accept that it is possible for someone to calm a storm with a word?  An astronomer or astrophysicist who agrees that the Sun can turn off for awhile and then come back on again.

I doubt you will have an easy time of it.

The overwhelming consensus of the entire rest of the scientific community is that things like this don't happen.  On a number of occasions, Jesus cited the Genesis creation account as authoritative and a basis for doctrines (such as his blanket prohibition of divorce).  The overwhelming consensus of the entire global scientific community holds that the Genesis account is wildly inaccurate.  Now, I can decide to trust your NT scholars that the Gospels are ironclad Real History describing someone named Jesus having super powers and unlimited knowledge, or I can trust the entire rest of the scientific community
Quote from: unkleE
1.  Can you please give me your historical criteria for determining how you would know what events people would record for posterity and what they wouldn't?  I think the answer isn't all plain sailing, as my following comments show, but I think the onus is on you to justify the statement.  Of course just saying that people would have noticed is not enough.

How about...BECAUSE MIRACLES ARE MORE NOTEWORTHY THAN EVERYDAY POLITICS?!  I mean, seriously!  Miracles, by definition stand out over ordinary events!  You're like someone who visits Tokyo and writes a letter home describing the food and the stores on the Ginza district, while leaving out the fact that Godzilla showed up and stomped the city into the ground while you were there.  "Why would anybody write about Godzilla if he showed up and attacked Tokyo?  Maybe they'd find the legislative debate about appropriations for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces more interesting."  Come on. 
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