Author Topic: People have always belived in some sort of God  (Read 756 times)

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Offline magicmiles 2.0

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People have always belived in some sort of God
« on: May 09, 2018, 11:04:08 PM »
At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.

Is that logical?

I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.

Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

Offline wright

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2018, 12:15:18 AM »
Hey, magic. Hope all is well with you and yours.

At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.

Is that logical?

I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.

I usually see that used as an argument more against the supposed unique qualities of Christianity than in support of atheism. As in the half-mortal, half-divine son, born of a virgin, sacrificed on behalf of humankind, etc. Mythical figures like Horus[1], Dionysius[2] and Prometheus[3] have had some or all of those attributed to them in various tales[4].

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Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

I certainly wouldn't call the original oral traditions and the work of the various writers and transcribers of what became the Christian scriptures the ramblings of halfwits. Even as an atheist and a poet I still find parts of it moving and relevant. But why should its level of detail be inexplicable? Especially when at least some of those details have been shown to be wrong, such as the myths of Noah and Babel?

There were oral and written mythical tales that predate Christianity that have comparable levels of detail[5], not to mention more modern works of fiction. That the Christian bible has a prominent place in history is the result of historical accidents and its recognized utility by authorities for consolidating and retaining power.


 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horus
 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysus#Parallels_with_Christianity
 3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus
 4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_comparative_mythology#General_comparisons
 5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_Gilgamesh
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Offline Jag

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2018, 01:20:38 AM »
At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.
That's a new one for me, I've only ever heard it in defense of theism in some manner.

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Is that logical?
I'd have to see it in an actual context to have an opinion. So far I can't parse where it's supposed to lead.

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I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.
Um, wut?

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Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause?
No, not at all.

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They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?
Who said the bible is the ramblings of half-wits? Explain what?

Seriously, if you are going to defend against an argument than hasn't been posted, you're much better off being specific, and avoiding hyperbole. You seem to have a point to make, but I think you might need a different approach to make this one workable.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2018, 02:56:25 PM »
At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.

Is that logical?

I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.

Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

funny how the "sheer incredible level of detail" is full of contradictions and even Christians don't agree on what their god is, what it wants or how it should act.   It's the rambling of the ignorant and the xenophobic trying to make sense of the world around them, just like the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Indus River civiliation, ancient Chinese, etc.   So, MM, do you want to claim that those gods of those peoples are just as valid as yours, because that's what we have here. 
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Offline albeto

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2018, 04:09:14 PM »
Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause?

No. I can't think of one detail that is relevant.

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They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

Superstition is a natural side effect of our cognitive process.

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2018, 04:11:55 PM »
Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

It gives me no more pause than the sheer, incredible level of detail contained the the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien.
My names are many, yet I am One.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2018, 12:43:11 PM »
hmmm, seems like one of those threads that MM starts, thinks he has this wonderful point and then never returns to support his claims and to address the points of others when he finds out his god isn't supporting him in making us all agog in wonder. 

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Offline wright

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2018, 12:49:38 PM »
^^^Isn't it just possible he has other things to do? Like family, work and other ways to keep entertained?
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline Jag

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2018, 01:26:54 PM »
^^^Isn't it just possible he has other things to do? Like family, work and other ways to keep entertained?

Sure, this is a fair and reasonable point.

But he started the thread on May 9th, and hasn't said anything since, which is a little unusual. Today is May 14th.

Plus, he was here yesterday and didn't post, even though there are posts responding to his OP.

So, (purely IMO) it's not quite the case that velkyn is being unreasonable or impatient.
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Online jaimehlers

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2018, 02:37:32 PM »
Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause?
Not particularly, no.  Every culture has tried to understand the world; the mere fact that someone provides lots of details to support their understanding doesn't mean they have it correct.  Indeed, it's entirely possible to end up obscuring something by providing too much detail.  What matters is not how many details are provided, but how correct those details are.  Providing lots of wrong details for an argument can be convincing, simply because most people can't get past them to the central claims of the argument.

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They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?
Aristotle was also not a half-wit.  In many ways, he was much more eloquent than the writers of the Bible.  Yet he still ended up being much more wrong than right.  And let me add, people rejected stuff that went against Aristotle just as reflexively as people reject stuff that goes against the Bible.
Nullus In Verba, aka "Take nobody's word for it!"  If you can't show it, then you don't know it.

Offline wright

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2018, 03:07:55 PM »
Sure, this is a fair and reasonable point.

But he started the thread on May 9th, and hasn't said anything since, which is a little unusual. Today is May 14th.

Plus, he was here yesterday and didn't post, even though there are posts responding to his OP.

So, (purely IMO) it's not quite the case that velkyn is being unreasonable or impatient.

Fair points as well.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2018, 03:24:06 PM »
^^^Isn't it just possible he has other things to do? Like family, work and other ways to keep entertained?

Sure it's possible, but considering past experience, not probable. 
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Offline magicmiles 2.0

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2018, 07:44:54 PM »
It was somewhat of a 'thinking out loud' post - no point I'm trying to prove, or argument I'm hoping to 'win'. Thanks for responding. If I have a bit of spare time to consider those responses, I may have more to contribute. 

Offline magicmiles 2.0

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2018, 07:47:03 PM »
Actually, one thing I've been meaning to ask Velkyn: What does "you're wearing the juice, aren't you?" refer to?

Offline Steve

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2018, 09:00:18 AM »
At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.

Is that logical?
Never seen that ever, any links?

I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.
Isn't it explain?

Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause?
What level?
They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?
When stories are written or plagiarized from other stories, the people compiling them can see the inconsistencies, and can right them. however in the bibles case this wasn't done very well and a lot got through. one hand didn't know what the other was doing. Hence why it is full of errors. There are over 2300 glaring scriptural absurdities, over 1000 scriptural contradictions, 200 scriptures which are totally irrelevant, there are another 450 scriptures that different denominations cannot agree on. So it would seem they are the ramblings of half wits.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2018, 09:04:08 AM by Steve »
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Offline jetson

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2018, 10:02:08 AM »
At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.

Is that logical?

I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.

Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

Humans have a long history of god belief, and obviously continue. I have never heard this used in support of atheism, but as an argument against atheism. So, no, it is not logical, to me. I think it is very much the case that God has never been described in any way other than vaguely. That's what keeps the rest of us from pinning down a definition in order to determine whether it should be considered.

Sheer and incredible do not come to mind when I think of the Bible. I also do not consider most of it to be "the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them." I consider it to be mostly ignorance of the world and beyond, and most of it is what they likely thought were good explanations for things they did not really understand. You also need to consider that written texts go back to oral tradition, and we really don't know those origins, or how they evolved into the texts. We can certainly make some educated guesses though - the main guess being that it happened in the same way it happens today, but with fewer words/symbols/phrases in the beginning. Humans were not likely using complex languages early on, so try to imagine what it was like listening to the most intelligent of a group of humans, telling stories with limited language and knowledge of things.

From those stories, evolved more and more complex words and phrases and new ideas, into eventual symbols/letters/and written songs, texts, and other writing. Of course, scientists believe that reading and writing were limited to a small number of people, so the rest of the groups could only listen. Did they have reason to be skeptical at times? I bet they did! I bet that's where the first atheist came from!

Offline velkyn

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2018, 10:08:19 AM »
It was somewhat of a 'thinking out loud' post - no point I'm trying to prove, or argument I'm hoping to 'win'. Thanks for responding. If I have a bit of spare time to consider those responses, I may have more to contribute.

really?   you asked this, as if you thought we should agree: "Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? "

Now that it's clear that most if not all of us don't find your claim true or impressive, it seems that you don't want to be responsible for your c, that we should be impressed by the "sheer, incredible level of detail" in your bible.  Where is this "sheer incredible detail" you claim?  And why, since most other religions have easily a similar level, why shouldn't you be accepting them as true just like your own?   

the wearing the juice is a reference to the Dunning-Kruger effect  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect   
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Offline Add Homonym

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2018, 01:08:09 AM »
It was somewhat of a 'thinking out loud' post - no point I'm trying to prove, or argument I'm hoping to 'win'. Thanks for responding. If I have a bit of spare time to consider those responses, I may have more to contribute.

Here's something to think about, then. Why is it that Christians can't decide among themselves whether eternal hell is real? If God is not willing (or able) to clarify whether he has a deep hatred of humans, or not, then why do you think he has been clear about anything else in your religion? I mean it might seem clear that you are saved by grace, because of a few words Paul says, but then maybe it's just as reliable as whether eternal hell is real or not. From where do you derive your faith that the NT and Jesus' supposed word is interpreted and recorded correctly, when there are some really large issues that Christians can't clarify.  JST, I think, said that maybe God is deliberately vague about whether hell is real. Maybe this improves our performance, if we believe that we will burn forever if we kill someone. However, maybe it will improve our performance, if God tells us we are saved, when we are really not.
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Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2018, 12:14:04 PM »
At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.

Is that logical?

I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.

Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

funny how the "sheer incredible level of detail" is full of contradictions and even Christians don't agree on what their god is, what it wants or how it should act.   It's the rambling of the ignorant and the xenophobic trying to make sense of the world around them, just like the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Indus River civiliation, ancient Chinese, etc.   So, MM, do you want to claim that those gods of those peoples are just as valid as yours, because that's what we have here.

What does God look like?  Moses only saw his rear end right?  Am I remembering that correctly?  What does Jesus look like?  Is that given in very specific detail?

Offline jetson

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2018, 12:40:07 PM »
At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.

Is that logical?

I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.

Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

funny how the "sheer incredible level of detail" is full of contradictions and even Christians don't agree on what their god is, what it wants or how it should act.   It's the rambling of the ignorant and the xenophobic trying to make sense of the world around them, just like the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Indus River civiliation, ancient Chinese, etc.   So, MM, do you want to claim that those gods of those peoples are just as valid as yours, because that's what we have here.

What does God look like?  Moses only saw his rear end right?  Am I remembering that correctly?  What does Jesus look like?  Is that given in very specific detail?

Google images is your friend.  ;D

Offline stuffin

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2018, 12:41:45 PM »
At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.

Is that logical?

I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.

Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

funny how the "sheer incredible level of detail" is full of contradictions and even Christians don't agree on what their god is, what it wants or how it should act.   It's the rambling of the ignorant and the xenophobic trying to make sense of the world around them, just like the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Indus River civiliation, ancient Chinese, etc.   So, MM, do you want to claim that those gods of those peoples are just as valid as yours, because that's what we have here.

What does God look like?  Moses only saw his rear end right?  Am I remembering that correctly?  What does Jesus look like?  Is that given in very specific detail?

They needed I-Phones back then, all this stuff would have been documented and we wouldn't be debating any of this stuff.
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Offline junebug72

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2018, 08:33:56 AM »
At various times I have seen this presented as an argument in support of atheism.

Is that logical?

I could see merit in the 'God of the gaps' argument if God had only ever been described vaguely or ambiguously, but that isn't the case.

Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause? They are clearly not the ramblings of half-wits trying to make sense of the world around them. How do you explain that?

Do you think it's possible there has always been an atheist around saying, nah that does not align with reality?

I would not call biblical authors half-wits, but I do think arrogant jerks is a proper title.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2018, 12:07:14 PM »
unsurprisingly, MM evidently has nothing to contribute about this "incredible level of detail".  Not even one example of it.   



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Offline magicmiles 2.0

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2018, 12:50:36 AM »
unsurprisingly, MM evidently has nothing to contribute about this "incredible level of detail".  Not even one example of it.

Of all the ex-Presbyterian, ex-Geologist, kitchen renovating tea drinkers I interact with online, you are probably the most impatient.

Offline magicmiles 2.0

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2018, 12:59:27 AM »
Complexity and detail. At church this term we're working through Samuel as part of a series called "waiting for the true King". In summary - Israel went against God's wishes and insisted on an earthly king, to be like the nations surrounding them and with whom they were at war. Some of the details included in parts of Samuel are, in my view, amazing. The manner in which Samuel is called by God  - thinking it was Eli the priest calling him. The description of how the arc of the covenant was captured. The completely bizarre way in which Saul became king - set out to find some lost donkeys, ended up as king. Its stuff that just absolutely smacks of authenticity, and not fiction.

I have way more I could discuss but little time. Hopefully more later.

Offline velkyn

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #25 on: May 22, 2018, 09:09:16 AM »
unsurprisingly, MM evidently has nothing to contribute about this "incredible level of detail".  Not even one example of it.

Of all the ex-Presbyterian, ex-Geologist, kitchen renovating tea drinkers I interact with online, you are probably the most impatient.

Impatient?  No, I just know your usual tactics, MM.   They don't change. Now let's look at your baseless claim
Quote
Doesn't the sheer, incredible level of detail contained in the bible ever give you pause?

to this
Quote
Complexity and detail. At church this term we're working through Samuel as part of a series called "waiting for the true King". In summary - Israel went against God's wishes and insisted on an earthly king, to be like the nations surrounding them and with whom they were at war. Some of the details included in parts of Samuel are, in my view, amazing. The manner in which Samuel is called by God  - thinking it was Eli the priest calling him. The description of how the arc of the covenant was captured. The completely bizarre way in which Saul became king - set out to find some lost donkeys, ended up as king. Its stuff that just absolutely smacks of authenticity, and not fiction.

I have way more I could discuss but little time. Hopefully more later.

There is no evidence that the story is true, nor that it is any more complex or detailed than the Iliad or the Odyssey or the Bhagavad Gita, etc.   We also have the problem that this god did promise an earthly king and Christians want to insist that that wasn't the case at all, to give a reason for messiah that did nothing as prophesied.

One of the bits of nonsense in that story is that it takes three times for Eli to figure out what's going on and then this god is too stupid to just talk to Samuel, he must be invoked by a certain phrase "Speak Lord for your servant hears".   We also have the issue that archaeology contradicts the nonsense claimed about Samuel and Saul and what they said.  Funny how our faithful believers don't mention that.   

for more weirdness: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel   
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Offline stuffin

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #26 on: May 22, 2018, 10:32:59 AM »
for more weirdness: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel   

So I follow your link and read up on this Eli, Saul and Samuel thing and found;

Quote
During the campaign against the Amalekites, King Saul spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and the best of their livestock. Saul told Samuel that he had spared the choicest of the Amalekites' sheep and oxen, intending to sacrifice the livestock to the Lord. This was in violation of the Lord's command, as pronounced by Samuel, to "... utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" (1 Samuel 15:3, KJV). Samuel confronted Saul for his disobedience and told him that God made him king, and God can unmake him king. Samuel then proceeded to execute Agag. Saul never saw Samuel alive again after this.[29]

Samuel then proceeded to Bethelehem and secretly anointed David as king. He would later provide sanctuary for David, when the jealous Saul first tried to have him killed.


I mean REALLY! WTF!

I understand back then life was different, as the story so tells, but to use this stuff today in order to validate your god is just wrong.

I believe the bible is a great book of historical stories with many lessons and it should be left at that. 


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Offline Fiji

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #27 on: May 22, 2018, 04:15:06 PM »
If complexity and detail are the yardsticks, then the Iliad must be true. I mean, when Thetis asked Hephaestus to make a replacement armor for Achilles, Homer spends AN ENTIRE FUCKING CHAPTER describing the armor … I mean every single inch!
Also throughout the fighting, Homer describes exactly how people are killed … in gruesome detail … where the spear enters the body, where it exits, what part of the intestines get dragged out, how the body collapses to the ground, how the other guy strips the armor off, oh and we get a detailed backstory of the recently deceased, including the relevant family members, where he got his armor and/or weapons, what fantastic adventures he had and what allegiances lead him to be on the battlefield in the first place.

In the Dhammapadda, there’s a rather detailed description of how the Buddha sat under a tree for a month.
The Kama Sutra goes into excruciating detail on various topics (who knew a book about sex could be such a drag) including how to collect the sweat off the balls of a white stallion to make a potion.
The Edda Proza speaks of how a Viking woman scares off a skraeling raiding party by tearing her top off and beating her breast against a sword … not her sword against her breast, no, she took her breast and beat it against the sword. I don’t even want to think about what bra size that takes.
And don’t get me started on the Quran’s description of hell.

The take away from all this, when you find something that seems to support what you already want to be true, ask yourself if it might also apply to the stuff you’d rather not be true.

Now, why all these details? And why so many made up details at that?
In most of these cases we’re dealing with oral traditions. You’ve been working all day, and finally, at night, you get to relax around the campfire. Wifi hasn’t been invented yet so, what do you do? It’s storytime! And who would be the better story teller? The guy who dryly delivers accurate facts or the guy who spins a gripping yarn (involving bare chested Viking women)?
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Offline magicmiles 2.0

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Re: People have always belived in some sort of God
« Reply #28 on: May 24, 2018, 06:58:25 PM »
The bible can't be compared to other texts/books, because the bible is actually a series of different books, written by many different people, over hundreds of years, but presenting a coherent narrative of humanity and God's creation and involvement in it. So the complexity of detail in any other work, whilst interesting, is not really relevant to what I was thinking about when I wrote the OP.

It seems rather too big a coincidence to me that what Jetson describes (ancient people doing their best with primitive languages to write down oral tales), would result in a coherent narrative spanning hundreds of years. Does that seem likely?

Its the bizarre details, some of them entirely unpalatable to our modern sensibilities and way of living, that I find compelling. If I was trying to create a book that showcased God in a light which was most likely to strengthen the church, or maintain power, or simply be attractive to everybody, there is an awful lot of stuff in the bible I wouldn't include. I mean, the story of Jonah is just weirdness x 1000. Why wouldn't you just leave that out?