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Main Discussion Zone => General Religious Discussion => Topic started by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 09:31:55 AM

Title: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 09:31:55 AM
I wanted to repost some of kcrady's posts from the old forum so that the new members not familiar with his awesomeness can get a taste.  I will be posting them in chronological order.  Enjoy.

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 09:39:02 AM
Why Does God Need Us (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2794.msg37461#msg37461)

This is a very interesting and important question, and it is the key to revealing God's true nature.  First of all, it should be obvious that an extradimensional, beyond-the-Universe omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient superduperbeing would have no need of our worship any more than we require the worship of ants or bacteria.  If we saw someone 'revealing his wrath from above' on some anthill, stomping on it because the ants refused to heed his commandments, we'd either laugh, or call for the fellows in the white coats, whether we're Christian or not.

It is obvious then, that a vastly superior being has no need for the worship or obediance of vastly inferior beings, by definition.  And yet, God very clearly demands human worship and obediance.  Furthermore, when confronted with disobediance, unbelief, or belief in rival gods/goddesses, he reacts (and persuades his followers to react) with as much fury and force as he (and they) can muster.  In other words, God acts like a cornered animal whose very survival is at stake.

And so, we have a paradox.  We have claims in the Bible of God's fantastic powers, unlimited knowledge, and inherent indestructibility, but he doesn't act like an omnipotent, infinitely-intelligent, or inherently indestructible and self-sufficient 'Necessary Being.'  What he acts like is a king, an absolutist monarch in the mold of the human rulers who were ubiquitous in Biblical times.  The Bible even refers to God as a capital-K King ("King of Kings and Lord of Lords") repeatedly. 

Once we see God as a king, both the superlative claims of stupendous power made on his behalf, and his "needy" behaviors make perfect sense.  Consider for a moment the Ramesseum, the large temple built by Pharaoh Ramesses II, which was moved to keep it from being inundated by the reservoir created by the Aswan High Dam.  This temple features gigantic statues of Pharaoh Ramesses II, which were obviously the work of highly-skilled artisans.

Now, there is no doubt that this temple was built when Ramesses was alive.  If it were a biblical manuscript, it would be an "original autograph," i.e. like the actual letters Paul wrote with his own hand.  These artisans, or at least their overseers, would have seen Ramesses II in the flesh.  Most likely he even sat for them while they carved a small mock-up to base the larger versions on.  Now, if we interpreted the Ramesseum the way fundamentalist Christians interpret Biblical manuscripts, we would have to claim that the Ramesseum represents archaeological evidence that Pharaoh Ramesses II was a giant who stood over a hundred feet tall.

However, the actual mummy of Ramesses II in the Cairo Museum clearly refutes this.  So how is it that artisans who were eyewitnesses to the life of Ramesses II, who were clearly very skilled at their jobs, could have made a mistake of such proportions when it came to making physical representations of him?  The answer, of course, is that the artisans were not attempting to create "literal," scientifically-accurate representations of Ramesses II.  They had other purposes in mind.

First of all, before it was moved, the Ramesseum stood on the historical border between Egypt and Ethiopia (Kush), a powerful rival kingdom in Ramesses' time.  Any diplomat or merchant from Ethiopia coming to visit Egypt would see it as he entered Egypt.  Obviously, the statues served a propagandistic purpose, demonstrating the might of the Pharaoh and his kingdom.  But that is not all.  The ancient Egyptians believed that portraying something in artwork imbued that something with magical power (heka).  Portraying something larger-than-life imbued it with great power, while portraying something being conquered, or in miniature, magically deprived it of power.  This is why you can go to Karnak and see images of a gigantic Pharaoh spearing a hippopatamus (symbol of the chaos-god Seth) that is, relative to Pharaoh, about the size of a kitten.  The Egyptians believed that these art works served the practical purpose of strengthening the forces of Order (as represented by the king) and crushing the forces of chaos. 

Thus, to the Egyptians, the Ramesseum was an installation of national defense that projected a field of heka south toward Ethiopia to keep that nation submissive and keep the tribute flowing.  And it worked.  Even today, we members of a global techno-civilization the Pharaohs and their priests could not have imagined, stare in awe at the works of the mighty Pharaohs.  Millions of us believe that the Egyptians "must" have had help from extraterrestrials or Atlanteans, wielded magic power-crystals, had an inside-track to the Mysteries, etc..  In other words, thousands of years after the last Pharaoh perished, millions of people still believe exactly what the creators of the Ramesseum wanted the Ethiopians to believe: that the Egyptian civilization (as embodied by the Pharaoh) was more powerful, wiser, and superior to their own.   

Far from being some ultimate, grandiose folly, the monuments of the Pharaohs were, and are, practical constructs that function as effectively (if not more so) today as they did when they were created. 

The Bible is a literary equivalent of the Ramesseum, and like the Ramesseum it is supremely practical (scrolls are much easier to create than giant statues!) and effective for its true purpose.  Its writers never intended to provide an accurate, literal description of God's nature.  This didn't even occur to them until after Judeo-Christianity assimilated Greek philosophy.  We see no real attempts to resolve theological dilemnas in the Bible.  Theologians write intricate treatises on theodicy ("How can a good God allow evil, disasters, etc.?"), laboring over thousands of words to solve the problem.

The Bible writers were utterly indifferent to the issue.  They gave us the Book of Job.  Bad things happen to good people because God has friendly wagers with Satan about how much misery they can tolerate and still believe--and if you don't like it, too bad, because God is lots bigger and more powerful than you are.  Or they just come right out and declare that God is not subject to morality (e.g. the verses where God "forms the light and creates darkness," where he brings "weal and woe", where evil does not befall a city except that "the LORD has done it," Paul's assertion in Romans 9 that God creates some "vessels," i.e. people so he can destroy them, and who are you, O man to object, etc.).

Likewise, you will never find a single verse in the Bible examining whether the "omnipotent" God can create a rock too heavy for him to lift, whether his omniscience (he knows the future perfectly) rules out his free will (he knows in advance everything he will do, and cannot therefore change his mind, and this in turn contradicts his omnipotence), etc.  Systematic Theologies (books intended to explain and spell out Biblical doctrine, coherently describe God's nature, etc.) exist because the Bible isn't one. 

The grandiose descriptions of God's power and might, his wisdom and intelligence exist to serve the practical purpose of gaining human submission, just as the Ramesseum existed to induce the submission of the Ethiopians.  The Bible writers never intended for their writings to be examined in a literal, Greek/rationalistic fashion (and thus to be taken as exact, specific descriptions of God's nature) than the Egyptian artisans intended for anyone to believe that Ramesses II was actually 100 feet tall.

Just as the Egyptians believed that physical representations empowered the persons/beings who were represented in them, so did the Hebrews believe that written or spoken words held power.  God is shown creating the universe by speaking.  Again and again, God makes authoritative announcements with the preface, "thus saith the LORD," and uses the coda, "for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."  The Gospel of John opens by saying, "and the Word was God."

In short: the Bible writers do not describe God's power like naturalists describing an insect--they create God's power by writing it into being, by speaking of it ("praising the LORD"), teaching it to their children, etc.

To answer the question, why does God need worshippers, we need only ask, why does a king need subjects?  A king without subjects is not a king at all.  But with subjects who obey him, a king has enormous, and genuine power.  He can speak a command, and an army marches.  A temple or a palace springs into being.  At the king's word, his enemies can be slaughtered, and an entire nation of people can act as one.

But what sort of a king is God?  After all, a king must exist in some form, in order to reign.  We can point to a Ramesses or a Napoleon, and say, "there he is."  As a human being, he has real needs and wants that his subjects provide.  Furthermore, rebellion, or even indifference is a genuine threat to his power, and he will act to crush both, in exactly the same manner that God acts.  The whole point of having subjects is that they, collectively, have power the king, in himself, does not have.  By himself, he could not raise a palace or a pyramid, or conquer a neighboring nation.

In other words, by proclaiming himself to be a King, God not only confesses that he is not "omnipotent," he admits that humans have power that he lacks.  Everything God commands people to do, from waging wars, to passing collection plates in church, to banning gay marriage is ironclad, demonstrable proof-in-action that God cannot do these things in and for himself.

So we can see that, as a king, God is dependant on the obediance of his subjects.  But we still cannot point at someone sitting on a throne somewhere and say, "there he is, there is God, our King."  Or can we?  The first verse of John's gospel tips God's hand and tells us exactly what sort of entity he is.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  In the movie "The Matrix," we see people in ragged clothes on dismal-looking ships plug interface jacks into their heads, and manifest themselves in an artificial world wearing uber-cool black leather and dark shades.  They fight other entities ("Agents") who do not even have their sort of external existence, but are "made" entirely of software code.

The characters in "The Matrix" upload their consciousnesses into the computer system that contains the software meta-program 'world' of that name.  Thinkers such as Vernor Vinge, Ray Kurzweil and others argue that in the relatively near future we will be able to do this for real, that it will be possible to convert a human consciousness to software (or create a genuinely-intelligent software-being from code) and "upload" it into virtual worlds like the Matrix, or even physical (most likely robotic or cyborg) bodies out here in the "real" world.

But what if software intelligences already exist?  Consider for a moment, a person with Multiple Personality Disorder.  This person is capable of 'running' more than one 'person' on their brain-hardware, storing inactive ones for later activation.  Now, imagine that one of these 'alternate personas' discovered a method of transmitting itself to other people's minds, so that an entire community of people could 'run' this persona in addition to their own normal personalities.

This secondary persona would gain a kind of immortality, passing himself down to succeeding generations of people.  If he could get his hosts to act in concert, he would gain power beyond that of any individual, even a king.  Kings die, they can be assassinated, but a persona living in an entire community of hosts is much harder to kill.

He would gain parallel processing ability that mere individual humans do not possess.  What should he do if a foreign enemy threatens him?  Fight, or submit?  An individual must choose one or the other.  The persona could do both, as one group of his hosts tries organizing a resistance, while another group tries pacifism.  If his army prevails, he wins.  If his army is exterminated, he still has a chance to win over the conquerors via moral persuasion if his pacifist hosts can face death as courageously in the name of nonviolence as his soldiers would in battle.  All he needs is a way for his hosts to spread him to the minds of his conquerors, and their victorious armies are his to command.

Such a being would also be "non-local" or "omnipresent," since a community of hosts in one city could experience his presence while hosts in another city far away could do so at the same time.  Inter-communication between his hosts (i.e. massively-parallel processing carried out by the continual re-integration of all of his copies) enables him to access all of the sense data and thoughts of his entire community of hosts.  As new conditions presented themselves, the persona could adapt and evolve, think and choose, by temporarily taking over the brain hardware of his hosts.

It should be apparent now that this persona would possess the attributes of a god: invisible, immortal, omnipresent, powerful, but with human-like thoughts, feelings, and needs--a disembodied "pure consciousness."

How could such a persona copy itself to multiple minds this way?  Just as a large software download needs to be compressed for transmission, so would a 'god' persona.  Its answer: archetypes.  The earliest gods and goddesses possessed simple personalities centered on basic archetypes: the Mother Goddess, the Father/King, the Warrior God, the Angry God of Chaos/Storms, the Trickster, the Seductress/Goddess of Love, etc.  The simple expedient of defining a god as "a king" compressed an entire slew of behaviors and personality traits into a single word.

Kings are warlike, make great bombastic pronouncements, make laws/institute justice, are jealous of their power ("thou shalt have no kings before me")--but a good king also loves his subjects like a Father (a closely-related archetype) and seeks to bring prosperity to his realm.  Likewise, a Mother loves and nurtures and brings forth life, a Sexy Young Woman stirs desire and offers the promise of pleasure, a Warrior fights, and so on.

These gods and goddesses could compress their 'software' into simple myths, and representative images (the Mother Goddes with her ample breasts, the Fertility/Pleasure goddess with her lissome body and beautiful face, the Warrior with his bulging muscles, spear and shield, the Father/King with his flowing beard and crowned head).  However, their range of adaptability and level of consciousness were limited.  They were cardboard characters trapped in their roles--what does Mars do duing peacetime, or Aphrodite when she's not "in the mood?"

The god of the ancient Hebrews solved this problem in two ways: he eschewed "graven images" in favor of the written Word as his storage medium, and he consolidated into himself most of the functions of the pantheon.  The written Word inscribed on scrolls (instead of stone walls or clay tablets) is denser storage medium (more information per unit of mass), and more portable than statuary.  It has greater fidelity of transmission than oral myths or symbols (the meaning of which can change or be lost over time).  It can be added to when necessary, but can also be 'write-protected' (by 'thou shalt not add unto this Book' commands) so its fidelity is not compromised unless absolutely necessary/advantageous for the god/persona's survival.

By absorbing those functions of the Pantheon compatible with his core nature as King/Father (e.g. Warrior, Sage, Protector, Bringer of Justice, Husband, Creator, Source of Fertility, Lord of the Dead, etc.) and smashing those completely incompatible (Sex-Goddess, the feminine-as-Divine per se), he became as multifaceted as a real person.  And so he is perfect Love and furious wrath (as any parent who spanks their child is on a smaller scale).  He is the gentle Husband and the fierce Warrior.

When his hosts are faced with overwhelming military supremacy of a rival god's followers, as they were in Jesus' day, he calls upon them to be gentle, loving, and peaceful.  When his hosts have the upper hand (as they did after Constantine handed him the Roman Legions) he can be warlike and violent, exterminating the hosts of other gods and their transmission media (temples, statues, books).  Should his armies face defeat, he blames his hosts' wickedness and failure to obey him completely, and his wrath is manifest upon them.  Should his armies prevail, then his might is demonstrated.  Victory or defeat, both are manifestations of his power, so he wins either way.

Since his Word contains commands to surrender to overwhelming enemy force (e.g. the Book of Jeremiah, Jesus' instructions to 'turn the other cheek') and crush them underfoot (e.g. the Book of Joshua, and the Book of Revelation), both options are always available to him, just as they are to an individual faced with the prospect of conflict.

The Bible's contradictory portrayals of his character are not flaws--they are the secrets of his success.  A Christian's "What Would Jesus Do" bracelet is a basic set of sofware instructions:

1. Run 'Jesus Program' (i.e. turn over your brain hardware to his persona)
2. Let him decide what you ought to do in the present circumstance.
3. Act in accordance with his decision.

In other words, the Bible contains stories, commands, monologues, and commentaries sufficient to encode a full-blown, humanlike intelligence that can be 'copied' into human brains by 'reading the Word of God,' 'meditating on it day and night,' 'teaching it to your children and to your children's children,' 'preaching the Gospel,' etc.  The 'code' contains instructions to worship and obey the persona, so that the persona is dominant rather than the host, as well as instructions to 'infect' others with the 'code.'

It also contains a complete set of 'firewalls' to prevent contamination of controlled hosts with hostile god/goddess-personas or incompatible memes.  In his various manifestations, the God of Abraham is arguably the most highly-evolved, adaptable--even intelligent--meme on Earth. 

Why does God need us?  Because without us, he would die.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 09:49:19 AM
To moshydog, on science (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2632.msg37466#msg37466)

Moshydog wrote:

"Your definition of science is good, but science cannot be used to prove or disprove the existence of God. on the other hand, I haven't heard anyone say with knowledge that science points to the non-existence of god with a solid foundation. Since science deals with the natural, and not the supernatural, science by definition has no qualification to exclusively suggest that there is or isnt a god."

All of this depends on what you mean by "god."  If your definition of "god" is some sort of extradimensional entity that can and does suspend the operational principles of physics at will, that promises people they can do astounding things like make mountains fly into the air and drop into the sea, walk on water, feed crowds out of a lunchbox, part seas, call down fire and brimstone from the sky, etc. etc., then yes, science can demonstrate that such an entity does not exist.

Physics models the behavior of Universe using equations that accurately describe the behavior of infinitesimally-tiny entities (quantum 'particles') down to several decimal places of accuracy.  A "god" defined as you seem to define it would be an elephant in the room.  It would not be possible to create working models of physical behavior (as physics does) without introducing variables to account for his manifest presence and activity.

The only way it could be otherwise is if your "god" pretends he doesn't exist by manifesting absolutely no detectable effects in Universe.  We have scientific instrumentation that can detect neutrinos, particles so diaphenous they can shoot through the planet Earth at light speed as if it wasn't even there.  Now, either "god" (or other undefined entities such as "spirit") can affect entities in Universe, or he cannot.  If he can, he is interfaced with this reality and is, in principle, detectable by scientific instrumentation.  If he cannot, then there is no way to distinguish between his existence and his non-existence, even in principle.

Now, if (as you implicitly confess) there is no way to compare the statements "God exists" and "God does not exist" and find some definite difference we would observe if one was true and the other untrue (as we can with the statements "Electrons exist" and "Electrons do not exist"), then for all practical intents and purposes there is no difference.

In other words, if I say, "Blarks exist, but everything about Universe would be exactly the same if they didn't and you can't prove it either way," then there is no reason for anyone else to accept the existence of blarks.  Why?  Because, A) the burden of proof rests with the person making a positive assertion, B) Occam's Razor eliminates blarks as unnecessary, and C) the hypothesis "blarks exist" does not differ from the hypothesis "blarks do not exist."

"Faith" is not required for disbelief.  A person who has never heard of Jesus Christ--such as a newborn infant--does not need to have faith that he doesn't exist.  How can you have faith in the nonexistence of something you've never heard of?  But he or she still does not believe in Jesus.  How can you have faith in the existence of something you've never heard of?

"Faith" is only necessary if you intend to maintain belief in something in the face of insufficient, non-existent, or contradictory evidence.  As the writer of Hebrews put it, 'Faith is the substance of things not seen.'  Once something is seen (i.e. there's sufficient evidence for it), faith is unnecessary.

Regarding the existence of "god" (as you define the term), it is possible to falsify the claim experimentally, as is demonstrated on the godisimaginary website.  Take those verses where Jesus explicitly spelled out that he definitely answers prayers in miraculous ways.  Add in the narratives of his (alleged) appearances to hundreds of people after his resurrection (it is OK for Jesus to appear to people).  Stir.  Then pray, asking Jesus to appear.  Note the results.

The claims that Jesus answers prayer, that Jesus works miracles, that Jesus can appear to people are all quite testable scientifically.  The experiment can be repeated as often as necessary, with no expensive scientific instruments or facilities needed.  All that's needed is a Christian (OK, maybe "two or more gathered in his name") and a prayer.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 09:54:33 AM
What does wwgha mean (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=194.msg37487#msg37487)

For you Christians posting here, I would like you to take a moment to consider exactly what it is you're doing with the arguments you're offering, i.e. what, exactly those arguments are designed to do.

They are all answers to one question: Why is it that Universe looks so much like one in which my all-powerful, prayer-answering, miracle-working God doesn't exist?  A Universe in which amputees were magically healed as a result of prayer would look very different from one in which they're not.  We all agree that they're not healed as a result of prayer.  We've got that in common.

We agree that we live in a Universe that is, for all practical intents and purposes, miracle-free.  We all agree that Christian property developers can't ask God to lift mountains out of their way.  People who make earth-moving equipment are in no danger of losing their jobs.  We agree that doctors, the makers of prosthetic limbs, etc. all have job security that no Christian or group of Christians will ever threaten to render obsolete with the power of faith.  Period. 

We agree that even the most devout Christians, if they want to feed starving children in Africa, have to get on TV and raise money, instead of just handing out the loaves and fishes.  Period.  We both agree that even the most devout Christian, if he or she wants to pay the bills or the taxes, has to get a job, send in checks, fill out 1040's, etc.  You can't expect to go catch a fish and have a gold coin fall out of its mouth.  Period.

We agree that Christians and Atheists (as well as Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) are all subject to the same generalized operational principles of physics.  In your day-to-day life, out here in gritty ol' reality, you have to live exactly the same way we do.  Period.

The only difference between us is that you profess to believe in the existence of an entity that can and will suspend those generalized operational principles of physics in response to prayer...but he never ever does (for many perfectly good reasons, of course) except in the legendary past.

In other words, the Universe you live in is every bit as atheistic as ours is.  You just have to go to a great deal of theological rationalization, Bible interpretation, and so forth, to explain why the world we live in is so completely misleading that it looks exactly as it would if your God did not exist.  If it were otherwise, "faith" would be unnecessary. 

An atheist doesn't have to learn the kind of linguistic and scientific Matrix-dodging you have to master to be a Christian.  We can just accept Universe as it is.  If we want to restore amputated limbs, then it's up to us to develop robotic prosthesis technology or the ability to clone, grow, and attach replacements.  And that's exactly what you have to do, too.

The difference between us is that this inescapable fact fits naturally with our worldview.  To make it fit with yours, you have to go to great pains to explain why and how Jesus didn't mean what he said without saying he was lying.  The hypothesis of the miracle-working-God-who-never-does can be sliced away with a simple application of Occam's Razor.   


Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 10:02:01 AM
A little further down in that same thread…wwgha and Terry Schaivo (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=194.msg37504#msg37504)

Quote from: pony1976
nice post. Can I copy it and passs it out on Myspace?

Welcome.

Thanks. :)  Sure, just post it in full and give me attribution (my name is Kevin Crady).

Quote from: generousgeorge
Kcrady......your assumption that you say christians agree with only seems correct to logical non-delusional people. You greatly underestimate the delusion of the many christians I know here in Houston..... 95% of them would vigorously deny and argue your assumptions based on faith and inerrancy of the bible. Strange, but sadly true I'm afraid! I suspect it is the same through most of the USA.

Of course they would argue, much as the Christians on this thread would argue.  The point, however, is how they argue.  Presented with this sort of argument, they can either A) claim that demonstrable, non-ambiguous miracles do exist, or B) bob and weave giving reasons why they don't, or only exist in inaccessable places like the distant past, or "a church I heard of."

If they choose path A, they've entered the realm of facts and evidence.  Astounding miraculous power is, by definition, astounding and powerful; hence, easy to prove if it exists.  If they're explaining why Jesus didn't really mean it when he said "greater works than these (his miracles) will you do in my name," or why having a big TV ministry is a "greater work" than resurrecting a guy who's been dead for four days or feeding a stadium crowd out of a lunchbox, then they're taking path B, and agreeing with my argument as presented.

If they choose path A and tout some great Charismatic faith-healer, you can demolish that by going to his "healing ministry" bringing in an amputee or a kid with leukemia.  At this point, they (and/or their faith-healer) will inevitably dodge into path B like guerillas retreating into the jungle.  "Maybe it's not in God's plan."  "The disease has caused the child to be closer to God, or made it necessary for the family to support each other in love," etc., etc.  They're explaining why there's no operational difference in this case between "There is an all-powerful miracle-working God" and "There is no all-powerful miracle-working God."

When they do this, you can say:

"Alright, what about Terry Schaivo?  Here is a woman that all of you Christians fervently believed ought to be saved.  You, and your political backers all loudly and vocally took up her cause, sure that she ought to be kept alive in a permanent vegetative state rather than be allowed to go to Heaven.  Saving her must have been God's will, unless all of you were disobeying God.  You all argued that letting Terry die would create a "culture of death," that it would cause profound spiritual damage to the moral fiber of our nation.

"Terry was in the center of a vast, global media circus, with the eyes of the world on her.  Imagine...just imagine what an astounding witness for God it would have been, if you, your favorite faith-healer, any Christian anywhere on Planet Earth, or all of you put together, had prayed, not that Terry would get to keep her feeding tube, but that she would sit up in bed on national television and say, 'Thank you, Jesus!  You are the Son of God with power and glory forever, amen and halleluiah!'

"Just imagine it.  Imagine, what a powerful witness she would have for Jesus as she returned to her healthy life, after all those liberals and faithless rationalistic doctors had assured the planet that she was brain-dead and could never live a normal life.  Imagine the effect that she would have had on the whole "culture of death" thing you are all so worried about!  Would anyone dare remove a feeding tube from someone in her situation, ever again?  Imagine the church attendance the next Sunday, the baptisms, the souls saved from eternal damnation!

"So...why would God forego all that good, all those saved souls and heartfelt praises he would have received (and you know how much he likes his ego-strokes), a resounding victory for the 'culture of life' you're fighting for on his behalf...why would he give all that up, just to be coy and make atheism seem credible?  Free will?  Come on.  God is going to torture me forever if I die without repenting, right?  How, exactly, does that respect my free will?  Besides, I'm sure you've read the verse in the Bible that says 'Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.'  Right?  Where's the free will there?  Or in Romans 9?  What about all those times in the Old Testament where God says, 'And they shall know that I am the LORD!'  That's all we ask: that he act, demonstrably and non-ambiguously as the great, miracle-working God he claims to be, so we can know that he is the LORD.

"Why does Jehovah God Almighty not act, well, Almighty?  Is he shy?"  Etc.

No matter what their answer is, it will consist of one thing: an attempt to explain why, in the case of Terry Schaivo, everything happened exactly as it would have if there were no omnipotent, miracle-working God who wanted to keep Terry alive.  By the very act of arguing about her feeding tube in the courts and in Congress, the entire Religious Right blatantly disavowed the existence of an all-powerful miracle-working God as a reality with practical consequences.  Period.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 10:05:52 AM
On Job (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=1824.msg37553#msg37553)

The most fascinating thing to me about the Book of Job is how blatantly revealing it is.  "Satan" [1] gets in line with the other angels, [2] and he and God have a chat. 

Paraphrase:

God: So, Satan, what brings you here?

Satan: Nothing much, just been cruising around on the Earth.

God: Yeah?  Did you check out my servant Job?  He, like, totally obeys me and everything!  He even does tricks!

Satan:  Meh.  He's a mercenary.  He only obeys you and praises you all the time 'cause you take such good care of him and put your shield of protection around his house.  Why, I bet you 10,000 Quatloons that if you started being a ruthless, cold-hearted, unfair, capricious and just plain sadistic asshat, why, he'd tell you to eat slimy cow-poodoo and die!

God: You're on!  Go ahead and cream his family and everything he owns.  Just don't kill him though.  Dead people can't give me any burnt offerings, and I just love those.

/Paraphrase

Now, the interesting thing about this is that Satan isn't tempting Job--he's tempting God, and God goes for it like a drunken sailor in a whorehouse.  What happened to all that stuff about "how righteous are Thy judgements, O Lord"?  If God was concerned with justice in the slightest (much less Perfectly Good In All He Does), the outcome would have been entirely different:

Satan:  Meh.  He's a mercenary.  He only obeys you and praises you all the time 'cause you take such good care of him.  Why, I bet you 10,000 Quatloons that if you started being a ruthless, cold-hearted, unfair, capricious and just plain sadistic asshat, why, he'd tell you to eat slimy cow-poodoo and die!

God: You're damn right!  He serves me well, and I protect and reward him, as I promised in my Word.  He praises me because I take such good care of him, and rightly so.  For I am a good God, righteous and just, and he has put his trust in me!  Far be it from me to betray him just to see if he'll still worship me when I don't deserve it!   
If I did as you suggest, he should tell me to eat slimy cow poodoo and die!  Get behind me, Satan!

What Satan is baiting God with is the prospect of receiving unearned worship and adulation.  You see, if God is good, and people worship him for being good, then his ego-strokes only come because he's living up to his end of the bargain.  But Satan tempted God with the chance to receive Job's adulation and praise regardless of his actions.  God wanted to be able to throw all morality to the winds and be literally demonic in the cruelty of his deeds, and still be worshiipped as the 'perfect, just God'.  He doesn't merely want unearned praise--he wants his worshippers to be so mindless, so utterly servile they will praise him to the skies even as he tortures them.  Or, as Job put it, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."

The Book of Job makes it plainly, indisputably, blatantly clear that God cannot be trusted as a Protector, and that he has no ethics at all.  But wait, maybe God, in his vastly superior Divine Wisdom (tm) knows something we don't and all of this will somehow turn out to be consistent with the idea of a Loving, Perfectly Moral God.  Toward the end of the book, Job finally gets to talk to God, and ask, "WTF?!?!?!"

At last, Job falls silent, and we wait for the Almighty to speak.  Here is God's chance to astound us all with some nugget of vastly profound insight that will answer the question 'why do good people suffer' in a way that will dazzle us with the greatness and majesty of the Divine!  Well, OK, maybe at least we'll get the Stock Answer that always soothes the heart of the believer: "God works in mysterious ways."

Nope.  Not even that.  Instead, God goes on and on in a hugely bombastic "I am the Mighty Oz!" routine.  Justice?  Wisdom?  Divine knowledge beyond the ken of mere mortal man?  Nope.  Just plain old brute force. 

God: "I can do whatever the hell I want to you, because I'm bigger, stronger, and infinitely meaner than you will EVER be!   Now take your PS2 and shut up."

Job: "Right...shutting up!  Zzzzzip!  Nothing to say here!"

And behold, Job's (2.0) daughters were the most beautiful in all the land!  Bet he got alot for 'em on Ebay.  Happy endinig?  Yeah, right!  The poor guy must have spent the rest of his life having nightmares and waiting for the other nuke to drop.  Sorta like Isaac after that little hike to the altar with dear ol' dad.

Wow, I'm glad we have God...without him, why, we'd have no morality at all!   

NOTES:

1. In Hebrew it's "ha-satan," meaning "the adversary" or "the accuser," a title--not a name--for a prosecuting attorney; Satan is to God as Torquemada is to the Pope.

2. Satan is not a mortal enemy of God here--can you imagine Osama bin Laden joining a tour of the White House and having President Bush pull him aside for a friendly game of Texas Hold-Em?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 02:59:04 PM
YHWH's morals (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2038.msg37682#msg37682)

Quote from: ramez
>snip<
It is really easy to see the difference between good and evil. It is not difficult to see how cheating on your partner or passing a disease to another person is bad. Similarly it is not difficult to see how abusing a child sexually is bad.

Are you sure about that?

Are you sure there are no exceptions?

No special dispensations of God's grace when sexually abusing a child is good, or at least acceptable?

No teeny-weeny little exemptions?  No caveats?  No legalistic loopholes?

You're sure.

It wouldn't be OK to molest a child even if God really liked you.

Even if you're a famous preacher or something.

You're sure.

No wiggle room?

No "just this once?"

Certain.

Definitely easy to tell it's bad to molest a child.  Nothing difficult about it at all.  Absolutely, positively, period.  Right?

OK.  We can agree on that.

Now, turn in your Bible with me please, to Numbers 31:17 and read along with me:

"Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. 18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves".

Now, if you note the context of the above passage (and we know you Christians love context), you will see that the man issuing the above command was Moses, and he really wanted to murder the little girls too.  One more thing you should note is that Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land...because he ordered genocide followed by mass child molestation?  Nope.  Because he hit a rock with a stick when God didn't want him to.

Now, I want you to take a moment to go on a little imaginary journey with me.

You are an 11-year-old Midianite girl.  You've heard about this new tribe that's passing through.  A woman from your village married one of their men some time ago, but they killed her and her husband.  You don't know why, because nobody talks to you about these things.  You're just a kid.  But you've also heard that the new tribe's leader stayed with another Midianite tribe for 40 years and married a Midianite himself, so they can't be all that bad.

But then one day there's a war!  The other tribe wins, and their army herds you, your mother, and your two little brothers, along with everyone else you know, and takes you back to your camp.  You're lost in the crowd and never catch a glimpse of the new leader, but then people start screaming, and soon you find out why.  The enemy warriors are killing everybody!

One of them cuts your mother down with a sword as she tries to shield you and the boys with her body.  Your little brothers are taken one by one and killed before your eyes.  You close your eyes in terror, waiting for the sword to hit, but it doesn't.  Instead, the man throws you down, lifts your skirt, pries open your labia and checks to make sure you're still a virgin.  His fingers are sticky with the blood of your family.

Then, he drags you to his tent to make you his...
---

So: Can you tell me whether that's bad or not?  Is it "really easy"?   

Or is child molestation only OK if you murder the chid's family first?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:04:23 PM
Answers some questions on evolution (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2754.msg37727#msg37727)

Quote from: radar410
One) Why did every Class, (Kingdom, Phylum, Class) come into being within a mere 100,000 years? Over the, what is it now, 6 1/2 billion years of Earth's existance, that is less than a tick of the clock.

I'm guessing you're talking about the so-called "Cambrian Explosion" here.  I know the CE seems to have happened quite rapidly in evolutionary time, hence the name.  However, I thought it happened over several million years (still 'a tick of the clock,' I suppose).  I'm not an expert on paleobiology, but I would be pretty surprised if it was easy to determine a period as short as 100,000 years in Precambrian/Cambrian fossil layers.  As I understand it, the CE took place so fast mainly because life reached a point where larger multicellular organisms had a chance to diversify, and all the ecological niches were open.  Since pretty major morphological changes can happen even within a few hundred or thousand years of historical time (e.g. wolf---->great dane and toy poodle) even without mutations, I don't see a problem with evolution happening relatively quickly under the unique conditions of that era.

Basically, life as a whole had a once-in-a-biosphere opportunity to spread out, diversify, "experiment" with body plans, etc..  With nothing but wide open eco-niches to spread into, the culling effect of natural selection was reduced.  So we get all those wild and crazy creatures with totally weird body types (swimming lobster-oid things with five eyes on eyestalks and little curling arm/tentacle thingos for grabbing prey, etc.).  Once the open bio-space was filled, natural selection kicked in and weeded out a lot of faiiled experiments in favor of a few successful types.  Those types became the ancestors of all the rest of us, hence the formation of the main taxonomic categories present life is assigned to.

Quote from: radar410
Two) I am awed by the fact that the more I study life from a biochemical level to a microscopic level to a macroscopic level to an ecosystem level, the more patterns and consistancies I see. Why, if there is no God to guide evolution is their so little truly original life. I know about the sulpher based bacteria, but they are a dead end. Their are even a few silicon based bases unicellular life forms at the bottom of some of the deep sea trenches. But why is there so much commonality if all is random? All life with the exceptions of those two very minor dead ends utilize ATP and the citric acid cycle. There are many, many more examples of the line of life going back to a single unicellular organism developing the ability to go unicellular. It is far easier to believe in a "God-touched" organism than, given the lack of parallel evolution, completely random evolution.

Evolution isn't "random."  Nor does it need to be "touched" by the Flying Spaghetti Monster's noodly appendage.  Mutation may be random, but natural selection isn't.  "Natural selection" is a code phrase for "what works in reality."  Since reality consists of entities and combinations of entities with specific nature, some things work better than others.  Eyes work much better if they're sited on a head near the brain (shorter nerve path to the data processing center, hence trivial lag-time) than on the ass.  Legs that work well are better than clumsy leg-fin things, but clumsy leg-fin things are better than no appendages at all, as long as nobody else has a faster way to get around on land.

Now, before you can posit "God" as an answer to any question of science and be taken seriously, you have to meet at least two requirements: 1) Your "God" hypothesis cannot be vulnerable to the very conundrum it is supposed to solve.  2) In order to be considered as a legitimately possible causal mechanism, "God" must be clearly defined and his properties described in scientific terms, so that he can be compared with other proposed solutions.  For example, if a physicist proposes a new particle as the answer to some question (e.g. "WIMPS" as a candidate for "dark matter"), s/he must provide a sufficient theoretical definition of the particle so that other physicists can look for it, and know whether they've detected it or not.  What is its mass?  Charge?  Spin?  Half-life (if unstable)?  Energy level in eV?  What sort of experiment might be necessary to detect it?

Theists usually consider "God" to be some sort of trans-cosmic entity exsiting in whole or in part in some sort of "other realm" they call "Heaven" or "the spirit-world," etc.  What sort of "other realm" is this?  How is it coupled to ours?  What are its physical laws (e.g. cosmological constants, etc.)?  Any entity as complex as a super-intelligence must have an array of component parts (try making a computer with only one type of component part if you don't believe me).  What is it made of?  How does it perceive (our) reality?  What, exactly, is its method of interfacing with and manipulating matter?  Would its perceptual and manipulatory apparatus be sufficient to wield the control of matter necessary for it to manipulate genes and so forth so it can "touch" evolution?  If the nature of God's native realm differs significantly from our own (and theists usually claim that it does, though they're very short on specifics), how is he able to understand our reality well enough to try to "intelligently design" entire ecosystems?

For example, "God" is supposed to be able to do things like design complex proteins, DNA molecules, etc.  But how, if there are no molecules where he's from, and the phsycis-equivalent he's native to is incompatible with ours?  Imagine trying to design a life form for another universe with entirely different generalized operating principles ("laws of physics"), entirely foreign basic component parts ("particles"), etc.!  "God just does it" is no different from "it's magic" when it comes to explaining anything.

Getting back to your question, your "God" "explanation" fails on both points.  "Why, if there is no God to guide evolution is their so little truly original life."  Well, f there was a "God," why couldn't he come up with multiple, "original" designs for bio-systems?  The "God" hypothesis is just as vulnerable to this question as the no-"God" hypothesis.  Failure at criterion #1.  Since you have not even begun to explain "God's" nature enough for us to evaluate his merit as a causal mechanism, you also fail at criterion #2.

So, why aren't there multiple differing biochemistries, etc.?  Simple: the first organisms to evolve a biochemisty (or body-form, etc.) that limps along, and then refine it a little so that it works pretty good, will easily outcompete any late-comers "trying" a different biochemisty (or body-form, etc.) who are still at the "limping along" stage.  The first with the most wins.  Imagine that a mutant species of octopus emerged with air-bladders that would enable them to wriggle up on land for a little while and squirm around some.  Now, given a few tens of millions of years of evolution to refine themselves into true amphibians, then land-dwellers, their descendants might well be superior to anything currently living on land.  After all, they're pretty smart already, and they've got eight limbs to work with.

But what would happen to those first air-bladder-equipped octopi as they try to venture onto the land?  They'd get munched by the first cat or dog that happened along.  Since the octopi would still be at an early "transitional" stage (like Ichthiostega) between sea-octopi and potential future land-octopoids, they would still be at the "barely getting around stage"--but their mammalian rivals can already support their weight, run, jump, and see, hear, smell, breathe, and fight effectively on land.  The octopi wouldn't stand a chance.  In the same way, our earliest mammalian ancestors lived in the shadow of the dinosaurs for tens of millions of years as tiny little mouse/shrew-like critters, because all the other niches were filled by fast, powerful, toothy dinosaurs who were already fully-adapted to them.  Johnny-come-lately mammals couldn't outcompete the velociraptors long enough to take over a predator slot.  We're here now because an asteroid came along and gave our ancestors their big show-biz break.

The same principle applies to the biochemistry of the microorganisms you're talking about.  ATP-wielders evolved first.  Perhaps some other basic biochemistry might provide more energy, but ATP-use turned out to be the low-hanging fruit.  The ATP-wielders evolved, then climbed a step or two up the ladder, so they were able to easily outcompete any new early-stage proto-organisms, even if those organisms were trying out a biochemistry that would have ended up being superior.  We've got a similar problem technologically, in the automotive "niche."  Hydrogen fuel cell cars are obviously better than gas engines in terms of energy-efficiency and environmental impact.  But the gasoline internal combustion engine was the low-hanging fruit (Ford could build a simple, but fairly powerful ICE in 1910, but he couldn't make a proton-exchange membrane for a fuel cell).  So now we have an entire infrastructure "ecosystem" built around gasoline engines (gas stations, a parts-and-repair industry, etc.), while other options like H2-fueled cars and electrics are hard-pressed to break in.  And this on a planet packed with Intelligent Designers.

In the same way, the ATP microorganism ecosystem kept other biochemistries from starting.  Say you're an upstart silicon-based bacterial plant-eater who's just evolved.  If all the algae are incompatible with your silicon-based chemistry, you can't eat them, but your ATP rivals can.  Meanwhile, they already own most of the available sunlight, so they keep the silicon-based photosynthesizers you rely on from getting much of a foothold, especially since they got started first and their photosynthesis is a little better than your silicon-based photosynthesizers can manage so far.  So your ATP-based rivals also get more energy from eating them than you get from eating your silicon-based plants.  Since the ATP-based plants and their grazers are both more common (they've been at this for a million years, and your kind is just getting started), they can bootstrap each other much better than your kind can.  Say, the ATP plants decompose the micro-corpses of the grazers that feed on them.  Since there are more of both ATP types, their plants have a much richer supply of corpses than your plants have.  Most likely, they're getting inundated with poisonous ATP-based grazer corpses instead of members of your kind, and dying out...  Which leaves you in a bad spot when it comes to finding lunch.

Quote from: radar410
Three) Hominids, man-like humanoids have existed for a long time, it keeps getting longer, I'm a simple landscaper, not and anthropologist. It may be 4-5 million years by now. The point is that man only began living in cities 6-10,000 years ago. Why? Could it be that God touched a man, "Adam" and imparted a soul to a hominid? Is that why city building spread so quickly? Or is it more likely that all over the world in an evolutionary line stretching back for several million years, city building, ( the capacity to live together in groups larger than 40-50 suddenly spring up all over the world in such disparate places as the Yellow River, the Nile, and the Mesopotamian Valley?

Again, your "God" hypothesis is subject to the same question: if humans capable of building cities existed for 200,000 years, why did "God" wait soooooooo long to "touch" somebody and get people into the city-building business?  Failure, criterion #1.  And still, nothing about how "God" "touching" somebody (with what?) imparts a "soul" (what's that?  How does it work?) and thereby makes people start building cities.  Instead of answering questions, it conjures more: So, does that mean people who don't build cities have no souls?  Failure, criterion #2.

Furthermore, the complaint that it took too long after the evolution of fully-intelligent humans for "civilization" to get started actually militates against Intelligent Design.  An Intelligent Designer could presumably be expected to work more smoothly and efficiently than "random" evolution, so we should expect city-building to start right away.  After all, in the Bible, Cain goes off and builds a city when there's only one family of "touched" humans on the whole planet!

So, why did it take so long?  I'm not sure, ask an anthropologist.  Lots of possible reasons though.  Perhaps, with Ice Ages coming and going, the climate wasn't stable enough for people to stay in one place for centuries and build an agriculture-fed city.  Maybe people had to follow the herds back and forth as the liveable climate zones moved in response to advancing, then retreating ice sheets.  Or, perhaps agriculture was unnecessary as long as there were plenty of great big walking slabs of meat for the taking (the Pliestocene megafauna, which, as I recall, were driven to extinction right about the time people started tinkering with agriculture).  Or maybe those big slabs of meat made prototype mud-brick cities impractical.  Imagine the terror of looking out from your primitive little stockade to see a herd of 10,000 14-foot-tall wooly mammoths bearing down on your little fertile valley and its crops.  I'm basing that scenario on the accounts of vast bison herds that once covered the Great Plains from horizon to horizon.

Another factor to consider is that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle works pretty damn well.  There are still hunter-gatherers today, in pockets where nature is bountiful but not suitable for conventional agriculture, or where it's too barren, but survivable for hunter-gatherers with the know-how (the Amazon basin, the Kalahari, the Australian Outback, etc.).  It's quite likely that the average hunter-gatherer had a much more enjoyable and healthy lifestyle than the average agriculturist peasant.  Hunter-gatherers have quite a bit of leisure time compared to peasants, no back-breaking labor to do, etc.  From this, it's not surprising IMO, that agriculture would be a long time coming.

Another possibility is that there are cities built in earlier eras that we haven't found yet.  Even today, most of humanity (and our cities) are in coastal areas, or next to rivers.  During the Ice Age, water levels were significantly lower than they are now.  And, the continental interiors were filled with hazards like wooly mammoths, saber-tooth cats, gigantic ice sheets, etc, while the low-lying coasts offered access to the sea for fishing and for sea trade with other cities.  Thus, it could be that there are ancient cities hidden beneath the waves.  Since diving to search for an investigate sunken sites is difficult (the weather has to be just right, you have to know what you're looking for and where to find it, etc.) it wouldn't be surprising if we "missed" a number of archaeological sites buried under sand and silt, especially when our archaeological theories convince us there's nothing out there to look for.

In any case, I see no need to appeal to any radical external causes ("God," extraterrestrials, etc.) to explain the Agricultural Revolution.  Unless you can conclusively demonstrate that what we find in the historical record is virtually impossible without some sort of external intervention, Occam's Razor renders any quest for external interveners moot.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:07:56 PM
On healing as proof (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2599.msg37797#msg37797)



Quote from: Delta55345

If God started healing amputees, tons of people would start running towards Christianity just to get healed, and not for the love of God.

I take it that is supposed to be a bad thing, for some reason.  If this argument is valid (and you must think it is), could you please explain what we see in the Gospels then?  Again and again we see Jesus' miracles winning him converts.  On a number of occasions, Jesus points to his miracles as authenticators of his ministry and his claims regarding himself.  For example, when John the Baptist is in prison and he starts feeling a little shaky about the whole Jesus-is-the-Messiah thing, he sends a couple of his disciples to go ask Jesus if he's really the Messiah.  Jesus points to his miracles as proof and sends them on their way.

After Jesus, the Apostles are portrayed doing the same thing, on a somewhat smaller scale.  From this it is safe to say that Christianity is founded on the premise that grand-scale miraculous healing is both a legitimate activity in its own right, and a valid way of establishing the truth of Christianity.

Now, either miracle-working is a legitimate means of authenticating the truth of Jesus' claims, or it isn't.  If it is, then Marshall (the owner of this site) and the rest of us are just doing what John the Baptist's disciples did--asking for unambiguous miraclulous validation of Jesus' ministry and claims.

If it is not legitimate for whatever reason (it would only bring in thrill-seekers, people looking to save on hospital bills, compromise the need for faith, etc.) then Jesus' ministry was not legitimate.  Likewise, your own claim to having been miraculously healed is illegitimate, even if true.

"God healed my kyphosis"

"Really?  Wow, I have back pain...  What church do you go to?  I bet one of those faith-healing services is cheaper than my chiropractor!  And way cheaper than back surgery!  I'm gonna get me some old-time religion!"

Obviously, the purpose of miracles isn't ordinary compassion for the suffering, otherwise God would just heal everybody except those he was smiting.  And you've ruled out the idea that they're done as a "sign" (i.e. proof/evidence) of God's existence.  So what about the idea that God does miracles for the people he likes better, and you're just special?

Well, Christians commonly rebut that idea whenever they're confronted with folks who don't get miracles:

"Why doesn't God heal amputees?"
"God just has a Special Plantm for them.  Losing their limbs has made them come closer to God, and enabled those around them to manifest love and caring by helping them through their suffering."

Or how 'bout this one:

"I was in a plane crash.  I was the only one to survive, and I was completely unhurt!  God saved me!  Halleluiah!"
"OK, but what about all those other poor bastards that died?  What about their grieving wives, husbands, children, parents?"
"God just loved them so much He wanted to take them home.  Ask the grieving relatives.  They'll all tell you that."
"Then...aren't you jealous or something?"

Haven't you ever considered how much easier it would be if you weren't constantly trapped between trying to argue that miracles are real ('cause the Bible tells us so) and at the same time having to explain why they aren't ('cause if God worked miracles, people would go to church to get healed, and they wouldn't love God or learn the virtue of blind faith)?

Talk about a case of Schrodinger's Mind.  Is that the mark of a TrueChristiantm?  The ability to believe in something and deny it at the same time?  No wonder we're atheists.  Too damn logical and consistent.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:10:40 PM
One of my personal, all time favorites…

The Devil in Eden (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2822.msg37860#msg37860)

There are quite a few misconceptions floating around the Genesis story, especially regarding the Devil.  You Christians tell us the Devil began his career of evil in the Garden of Eden.

"The Devil was a liar and a murderer from the beginning" you say.  Fair enough.  Let's go to Genesis and see who's the liar and the murderer.

The very first death threat uttered in the Bible was given by God.  "In the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which is in the midst of the Garden, you shall surely die."  That's God's claim.  OK, perhaps God isn't threatening them with death.  Maybe the Fruit of Knowledge really is poisonous, and he's just warning them of the danger.  We'll find out as we proceed.

What's the Serpent's claim?  "You shall not surely die!  For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."  To the Serpent, the Fruit isn't poisonous, but astoundingly beneficial, and God is hiding this truth from Adam and Eve because he's afraid "their eyes will be opened."

Two contradictory claims.  Shouldn't be too hard to tell which of the two is telling the truth. 

Adam and Eve eat the fruit.  Suddenly, they become aware of their nakedness.  Think about that.  Adam and Eve had no more self-awareness than animals, until after they eat the Fruit.  And here's something else interesting:  The Serpent is described as more "clever" or "subtle" (i.e. intelligent) than the other creatures God created.  The Hebrew word for ‘subtle’ is awroom (Strong’s Concordance #6175).  It is derived from awram (6191) "to be (or make) bare, used in the derivative sense (perhaps through the idea of smoothness), be crafty, prudent, deal subtly."  (Underlined text is from Strong's Concordance)

The word ‘naked’ (6174) is also derived from this root.  This is the word used of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  ‘They did not know they were naked.’  Using the other meaning, it could also say ‘They did not know they were clever’.  They did not know they could use their minds to survive and flourish.  They did not know they were sapient beings.  When the Serpent gave them the Fruit of Knowledge, they became aware of both their minds (cleverness/intelligence) and their bodies (sexuality).

Linking back to the Ayn Rand quote, we see that in mythic terms, God created obediant automatons, but it is the Serpent that truly made them human.

The word for ‘serpent’ in Genesis is ‘nawkhawsh’ (5175).  It is derived from the root word ‘nawkhash’ meaning ‘to hiss’ , i.e. "whisper a magic spell, prognosticate, certainly, divine (verb--see Gen. 44:5, Joseph’s divination) enchanter, (use) enchantment, learn by experience, diligently observe."  (Underlined text from Strong's Concordance)  Now, we atheist skeptic types usually have a rather low opinion of 'magic,' but for the moment, consider the contrasts between Magicians and Clergy, within the context of knowledge people possessed at the time the Genesis account was written.

The practice of "magic" assumed that there were certain spiritual operating principles, and that if a Magician learned what those principles were, he or she could use them to gain knowledge and/or affect reality.  Do certain things, and certain results follow.  As Heinlein put it, "One man's magic is another man's engineering."  In other words, "magic" as practiced in ancient times was an attempt to develop a science and technology for dealing with the "spiritual" realm.  We can say that it didn't work, but at least they were on the right track.  Our sciences are descended from ancient magical practices.  Alchemy---->Chemistry.  Herbology----->Botany and medicine.  Asrology----->Astronomy.  Sacred Geometry, Numerology, etc.------>Mathematics.  The Magician was also able to deal with spiritual reality on his or her own, through the use of his or her own intelligence.

Contrast the way of the Magician with the way of Clergy.  The Clergy claim that the way to get things done is to seek to appease a Deity and the Deity's power will do what needs doing.  Humans are fundamentally dependent on the will of the Deity.  Clergy have an inside track to communicating with the Deity, knowing what is required to appease it, relaying its messages back to the people, etc.  For Clergy, power-politics is the predominant cosmological principle.  The way to "make it" in reality is to know who is Lord, and do their bidding.  Obey, and you have good harvests, healthy children, etc.  Disobey, and here come the locusts.

It is no wonder that Clergy loathe Magicians and, if given the chance, will have them burned at the stake.

God (and his priest Adam) represent the Clergy model.  Right from the start, you have "Obey my orders and you'll get to munch free fruit.  Disobey me, and you die!" 

The Serpent (and his priestess Eve) represent the Magician model.  He begins by asking Eve a question.  "Did God say you could eat of every tree of the Garden?"  He's employing the Socratic method to get her to see the bars of God's cage for herself.  Then, instead of commands and threats, the Serpent offers a testable hypothesis: "You will not die, but when you eat the fruit, your eyes will be opened and you will be as gods."  He never even asks Eve to eat the fruit.  He just tells her the truth about it and lets her decide for herself.  He does not threaten to bite her if she doesn't eat it.  Instead, he offers her value.

Once Eve takes a closer look at the fruit, she realizes that it is pleasant to the eyes (beauty), desirable to make one wise (knowledge) and good for food (physical nourishment and pleasure).  In other words, the Fruit is symbolic of all the elements of the good life.  Notice further that the Serpent isn't trying to "rule the world."  He never issues any commands, asks for worship and praise.  Never has a crusade or jihad ever been waged in his name.  In fact, he treats Eve respectfully, as an equal.

So Eve eats the Fruit, and sure enough, she doesn't die "in the day" she does so.  Neither does Adam.  Later in the narrative, he (women don't count in the Bible) is attributed an astounding life-span of nearly a thousand years.  Given that "day" in Genesis is supposed to really mean "day" (as any fundamentalist Creationist will assure you), we have no choice but to accept that God's claim--that knowledge is poison--was falsified.  In fact, God himself acknowledges the truth of the Serpent's claim:

"Behold the man (women don't count) is become as one of us, (and here I thought there was only one god) to know good and evil: and now, lest he put out his hand, and also take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden...and he placed at the east of the garden Cherubims (a type of spirit being) and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."

So, rather than bringing humanity's death, eating the Fruit made Adam and Eve "like gods" just as the Serpent said, and not only that, it opened the way to immortality for them.  And so, to prevent humans from completing their ascent to divinity (it was a Rise in the Garden, not a Fall), God responds with what would soon become his old stand-by: violence.

"But Adam and Eve died spiritually the day they ate the Fruit!" you say.

Where in Genesis does it say anything about a "spiritual" death?  God just told Adam he would die "in the day" he ate the fruit.  He didn't say anything about "spiritual" death, or expulsion from the Garden, or any other punishment.  He would die, period.  You claim to revere the Bible, but you twist the plain meaning of the text to prop up your theological "interpretation" rather than adjusting your theology to conform to the Bible.  Furthermore, you Christians are always fond of tying morality and spirituality together.  "If there is no God," you say, "then there's no morality either!  There will be blood in the streets!"  But, you see, it is self-evident in Genesis that God intended for humanity not to be morally good, but obediant.  He wanted creatures that would obey his commands without regard to whether they were good or evil, because they couldn't tell the difference.  There is no morality with God.

If you don't believe me, just look at all the moral excuse-making you have to do on God's behalf.  "But it's OK for God to perform abortion (cause a miscarriage)."  "It's OK for God to kill people for disobeying him."  "It's OK for God to torture people forever."  "It's OK for God to sanction mass child molestation (Num. 31:17-18)."  It's OK for God to sire an illegitimate child with another guy's fiance.'"  Etc.  Then, look at all the atrocities you commit on his behalf.  No, we don't even have to go back to the Salem witch trials or the Crusades.  What's going on right now, today, in Iraq is sufficient.  Or all the needless deaths from AIDS in Africa because you think it is better for black people to suffer lingering death than to use condoms.

So, if you wish to link "spiritual life" with such things as morality, self-awareness, the faculty of conscious deliberation and choice, etc. (i.e. the things that distinguish us, for the most part, from other animals), then it is self-evident in the narrative that the Fruit gave Adam and Eve spiritual life, awakening them from the zombie-like slumber God had hoped to keep them in.

Look again at the two claims.

God: "In the day you eat the fruit, you shall surely die."
Serpent: "You shall not surely die!  For God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you shall be as gods."
God himself endorses the Serpent's claim and reacts with fear and wrath not to prevent Adam and Eve from dying, but to prevent them from living forever.

"But Adam did die, because as a result of his sin, God denied him access to the Tree of Life, which he was free to eat from before."

That's quite an interesting admission.  You see, Adam did not die because he ate the Fruit of Knowledge.  It was not poisonous; nothing about the Fruit of Knowledge itself caused them to die or prevented them from living forever.  Had God just shrugged and walked away, Adam and Eve would have been immortal.  God, using violence, insured their deaths.  In other words, slow-motion murder.

So, what have we seen here?  God lied.  That is self-evident in the narrative.  Eating the Fruit of Knowledge did not kill Adam and Eve.  It had the exact effects the Serpent said it would, a fact God carefully chose to hide from Adam, and which he later did not even try to deny.  Everything the Serpent said was true.  That also is self-evident in the narrative.

Furthermore, the Serpent did not kill Adam and Eve.  He never threatened them or harmed them in the least.  He simply gave them the gift of truth about the Fruit, and about God.  And one more thing: he gave them freedom.  He did not command them to eat the Fruit, or threaten to punish them if they didn't.  As he promised, the Fruit was not poisonous or unhealthy.  To the contrary, Eve acknolwedges that it was "good for food," and her account is never contradicted. 

Who killed Adam and Eve?  Who took violent action to insure that they would die?  God.  Again, this is self-evident in the narrative.

Remember that bit about the Devil being "A liar and a murderer from the beginning?"

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God.” 

--Thomas Paine Age of Reason, Part I, pp. 18-19

It all starts to make sense now, doesn't it? 

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:13:17 PM
If kcrady were god (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2527.msg37866#msg37866)



Hmmm... Fun question.

I'll start with a WWJD variant: What would I have done if I were Jesus (and had his powers, etc.)?

In addition to raising the dead, healing the sick and injured (including amputees), casting out demons (monstrous religious memes), and feeding the multitudes...I'd teach my disciples how to do it all too, and tell them to teach their disciples, and so on.  At the Big Feast (the feeding of the 5,000), I'd show all those people how it was done.  "Go therefore, find those that hunger, and give them sustenance.  And then, teach them the way to feed others."

I'd marry Mary Magdalene (assuming the implied mutual love relationship was really there).  In fact, she would be the first person I shared my powers with, so that from the beginning there would be a male and female Messiah acting as equal, loving partners.

I would write my own Gospel (rather than leaving it to people decades later writing under apostolic pseudonyms), but it would be primarily an instruction manual: How to Be Your Own Personal Jesus.  I'd throw in a manifesto for science, reason, free inquiry, and individual liberty while I was at it.  Using the loaves-and-fishes trick, I and my disciples could reproduce copies at will to hand out.  Of course, they would be free of copying errors, and would automatically translate themselves into the language and cultural idioms of those they were given to.

Once I had the local "Messiah infection" started, I'd use my teleporation powers to go to Rome and the other major cities of the Empire and start them there.  Then, on to Africa, and so on.  Avoiding pointless crucifixion in Judea, and any other potentially futile excercise in martyrdom, Mary and I could probably abolish poverty, tyranny, hunger, disease and suffering, etc. within our lifetimes.

Then, when we died, and when each person who'd learned the "secrets of the Messiah" and taught them to others (as long as there were non-Messiahs left to teach), each of us would discover to our happy surprise, that 3 days later we resurrected back to life as immortals, and were then free to ascend into Heaven and begin exploring, perhaps even colonizing the Universe.  Take that, Fermi's Paradox!
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:18:46 PM
On the genocide of Midianites (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.msg38037#msg38037)

Quote from: radar410

kcrady, you may not believe that the ethics of the world has changed significantly in 3,000 years, but it has.

I am well aware of the fact that humanity's moral development has advanced considerably in the last 3,000 years.  Which is why we shouldn't look for moral guidance in a book written by barbarians in a barbaric age.  Furthermore, this is a decisive refutation of the doctrine of "original sin," that humanity is inherently corrupt and cannot improve him/herself.
Quote from: radar410

Trying to reason with a two year old requires different methods than reasoning with a twenty year old. I spank my two year.

So immaturity is a justification for child molestation?  Wow...  Should someone call Child Protective Services on behalf of your poor 2 year-old?  Murdering people and molesting their children is not a way of "reasoning" with them in any age.
Quote from: radar410

It is the only logic he understands.

Very well.  Do the assignment then.  Write the story from the point of view of an 11-year-old Midianite girl, showing how she understood the logic of her family's murder and her subsequent rape.  Show us how this represents the will of an all-wise, all-benevolent God, and how this raises the level of human ethics.

Since you believe child molestation was the proper, moral thing to do in that situation, I can only surmise that, if you were sent back in time as a soldier in Moses' army, that you would have picked yourself a little girl to rape.  Very well.  Write a short story from the point of view of an Israelite soldier, showing how, as you rip the clothes off a terrified 11-year old girl whose family you killed in before her eyes, and prepare to rape her, you feel the presence and approval of an all-benevolent, all wise, all-loving God, and how you are advancing the level of human ethics as she screams in pain and terror beneath you.   
Quote from: radar410

People a thousand years later, the Greeks, still considered mercy to be a major weakness. Was God harsh? Yes! Was He harsh enough to ensure that the Israelites would worship no other gods? No. At least, not until the Babylonians removed almost all the Jews from Palastine and only allowed them to return 70 years later. After that, the Jews never have, in mass, worshipped other gods. It really helps when studying ancient history to keep in mind that our cultures have become far more gentle.

I see.  So, God's megalomania--his urgent need to have people grovel before him properly--justifies molesting young girls after murdering their families.  Think about that for a moment.  Think about that. 

How barbaric the Greeks may have been is irrelevant.  The Minoans (existing about the same time Moses was supposed to have lived) had a vibrant, peaceful, enlightened society in which women were apparently equal to men.  Their art consists of beautifully rendered people existing in harmony with nature.  There is not one example I know of in Minoan art of a Mighty King crushing the enemy, beheading captives, etc.  Motifs like this were common in the more warlike cultures of Egypt, Assyria, etc.  Their literary equivalents, are, of course, emblazoned all over the Bible.  So far as we can tell from the archaeological evidence, the Minoans had a civilization that was, well, civilized, and orders of magnitude above "God's Chosen People" in terms of ethics and morality.

Of course, the real issue is: how barbaric your God is.  Because you tell us your God is not an ancient historical relic, but a presently-existing being, who "is the same yesterday, today, and forever," whose ethical principles are eternal, and should serve to guide us today.  And this being considers molesting little girls after murdering their families to be an acceptable behavior, so long as it results in him getting obediant, worshipful followers.  And he brags about this openly in his "eternal Word."

Could you please somehow demonstrate to me that this creature you worship isn't the Prince of Darkness?


follow-up posts in that thread (for brevity sake):
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.msg38062#msg38062
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.msg38079#msg38079
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.msg38089#msg38089
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.msg38109#msg38109 (five stars)
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:21:39 PM
Rebuttal on who Satan is (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2371.msg37731#msg37731)

Quote from: L6

Satan is the personification of false pride. That is all. Only intense, irrational, false pride (or faith ;) explains his actions. It does not, of course, explain why a perfect God would create such a being except to use as a scapegoat...but then why would be need a scapegoat? And so on.

Not so.  "Satan" is a Hebrew word for "Accuser"/"Adversary"--a judicial title equivalent to "Prosecutor," or perhaps more precisely, Inquisitor.  In the OT, he is unequivocally portrayed as an officer of God's court.  Get a concordance and look up all the instances of "Satan" and see for yourself.  In the NT there are also clear examples of "Satan" serving in this role.  There are other verses where "Satan" does seem to be portrayed as an enemy of God.  However, since "Satan" is a title, not a name, there is no reason to assume that it must always refer to the same being.  Compare with the use of the title "Pharaoh" in the Bible.  We read of Solomon marrying a daughter of "Pharaoh," but this "Pharaoh" is clearly not the same man Joseph served under, or the one Moses dealt with.

The Serpent (also the "Prince of Tyre" in Ezekiel 28) is arguably a separate being.  Now, perhaps he might rebel on the premise of false pride.  On the other hand, there are some things you need to consider:

1) He would have had direct knowledge of God's power, abilities, etc., more direct experience of him than you have.
2) The Bible is not an unbiased work.  It is written by spokesmen for God who are aiming to get people to worship and obey him.  Think, "Pravda."
3) The Serpent might have considered it possible that he could win.
4) He could have been right.

Consider: All of the New Testament writers clearly assumed that the Battle of Armageddon and God's final victory was imminent within their own time.  This is self-evident and undisputed.  Christians today read those same passages and assume that they mean exactly what they say--the end is nigh.  See raptureready.com.  What they forget is, that these passages weren't written last month or last year.  They were written by and for people living centuries ago, and their first readers would have read them the exact same way Christians read them today.

There is a school of thought within Christianity called "preterism" (google it) that argues that the events of Revelation did indeed take place, and that they were fulfilled by the destruction of Judaea in 66-70 A.D.  They make an excellent case that these things had to happen at about that time (e.g. Jesus saying to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, some now standing here will see the Son of Man coming in his glory").  The problem is, the final victory of God did not happen.  Read Revelation 21.  Does that sound like our world today?  Not to mention that all the world-wrecking displays of God's wrath never took place, nor a recognizable Battle of Armageddon.  The "futurists" (Christians who believe the "end times" prophecies are yet to happen) argue this--again, quite persuasively.  Furthermore, the Bible contains no epistle or book saying, "Now that Armageddon happened, this is what you are to do/how you should react"

And so, a paradox.

But what if the Serpent won the Battle of Armageddon--by not showing up?  Another poster on another thread (don't recall who) questioned God's strategic sense and wondered if he (God) was familiar with Sun Tzu, since he (God) is making the mistake of engaging in a protracted campaign.  But God made a much bigger mistake: he pre-conditioned his return on the premise that "Satan" (whichever one) would first incarnate himself as "the Antichrist" and set up a tyrannical global theocratic dictatorship--a precursor to the tyrannical global theocratic dictatorship Jesus will establish when he returns.

Since Satan is a being with free will (otherwise we can't blame him for everything that's wrong with the world, and God would have to take responsibility), he has an elegantly simple strategic response: refuse to play along, and leave God trapped in his own Word.

Something to think about, for those of you who believe in God and Satan...
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:29:01 PM
What would atheists do if jesus were real? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2828.msg38189#msg38189)



Quote from: unkleE

n8sense:

What would the atheists here do if someone produced overwhelming, unquestionable proof that the whole question of Jesus and his plan of salvation/religion/whatever was really true - the whole thing really isn't a myth? How would your life change?  What would you do differently?

It's a fair question. 

I suppose, as in your answer, it would depend on the nature of the proof.  If we see an angel dumping a load of incense that wipes out a couple billion people (as in the Book of revelation) the specific reaction would be considerably different than if we just saw nice Christians healing and working miracles like Jesus did.

Once the evidence was conclusive (in whichever way), I would acknowledge the validity of the "Christianity theory" unless/until more conclusive evidence for some other theory showed up.  But since we're acting on the premise that Christianity is true, such evidence would obviously not be forthcoming.

So, the Christian God is real, now what?

There are two issues to deal with in reacting to proof of his existence: his moral stature, and his level of power.

Regarding God's moral stature, that he is evil (judged by his actions rather than propagantistic statements like "God is love") has been demonstrated conclusively at least since Thomas Paine.  It is further demonstrated here in this forum (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2608.30) (scroll to the bottom).  See also my post here (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2386.60).

Confronted then, with proof of the existence of an evil God, I would want to get an idea of his actual level of power.  Though theologians assert that he is "omnipotent," he is not portrayed that way in the Bible.  True, there are statements where one of his spokesmen will declare that he is mad mega-powerful.  However, as in everything else, actions speak louder than words.  We have to lend God's actions as portrayed in the Bible more weight than we do the announcements of his press secretaries.  This applies both to his moral stature and level of power.

For example, in the Tower of Babel narrative, God is shown apparently having to "come down" to see that this is going on.  First, he does not have Omniscient Foreknowledge to preempt the activity entirely ("And there was a man named Nimrod, who desired to build a tower unto Heaven, but God confounded his speech so that none could understand him").  To the contrary, it appears that Nimrod was able to organize the mass project and get it well underway before God found out and took action.

Likewise, the Flood narrative.  God doesn't discover that the antediluvian civilization is headed downhill until it has already plunged into complete chaos (or so his press secretary assures us).  This strongly implies that he was absent for a considerable period of time, long enough for Adam's, Seth's, and Cain's descedants to populate the world.  The antediluvian geneologies give us somewhere between about 1400 and a little over 2000 years between Adam and the Flood, depending on which ancient manuscripts you use.1

That a similar 'absentee' period is taking place in our time could perhaps be used to explain why there are no miracles, except for Jesus' claim that he would "never leave you nor forsake you" etc.  Though, that could have applied only to the people he told it to, i.e. his disciples.  He never made any promises to succeeding generations of Christians (it is apparent in the NT that the writers did not expect there to be succeeding generations of Christians over thousands of years).

But he's back now.  Returning to the Flood narrative, we see that he is forced to destroy all of creation to get rid of some inconvenient humans, and must rely on a wooden barge to preserve some examples of the ecosystem to avoid a wholly barren planet.  IOW, he does not have the option of a more selective WMD (such as a virus that kills only humans, or the ol' standby lighting bolt) that would not destroy all of the innocent animals and plants as well.

Jesus's experience in the Garden of Gesthemane also belies any claim of omnipotence for God.  Faced with the Crucifixion, Jesus prays, "if there be any way, let this cup pass from me."  Now, Jesus, being the Incarnate Son of God, ought to be able to expect his prayers to be answered, if anyone can!  That Jesus is crucified is therefore proof that there was no other way for God to accomplish his goal of instituting a working "plan of salvation."  However, omnipotence, by definition, cannot be confined to a single, unpleasant option.  Omnipotence, by definition, would have an unlimited supply of options to achieve its ends.2

Another example is Paul's claim that Christians, on God's behalf, wage continuous warfare against "principalities and powers in heavenly places."  Note the plural here--he is not talking about a single rival principality ruled by Satan.  We see an example of this sort of battle in the Book of Daniel, where the "Prince of Persia" is able to interrupt God's message traffic (keep an angel from reaching Daniel) for nearly a month, until reinforcements led by the Archangel Michael arrive.  The angel then tells Daniel that he must return to the battle (which is, apparently, still underway) until the "Prince of Greece" arrives, perhaps as an allied force.

This tells us a very important piece of data: that there are other "principalities and powers" (or at least were, at the time of the writing) who can withstand God's forces in drawn-out, pitched battles.  This only makes sense if the other forces have comparable military capabilities.  That these wars were still going on hundreds of years later in the Apostle Paul's time provides further proof of this.  These wars also might provide an explanation for God's long absentee periods: he is away leading his forces.  Therefore, we might have the option of contacting these other "principalities and powers" and offering an alliance. 

Perhaps these other powers were the "us" God was talking to in Genesis.  In is clear in that narrative (once you don't read any assumptions into it) that Creation (which, given the size of Universe would otherwise be a prime evidence of "omnipotence") was a team effort.  "Let us make man in our image," "now the man has become like one of us," etc.  This would remove the apparent contradiction in the idea of a single God capable of creating hundreds of billions of galaxies being so limited in his dealings here on Earth, and would also remove the "Copernican" objection.  Perhaps the other planets have their own gods ("principalities and powers in heavenly places"). 

Our recent explosion of technological advance could come as a surprise to him, since even in his predictions of the future (the Book of Revelation) he assumes that the Final Battle will take place with iron-age technology and tactics.  The "kings of the earth" massing their troops in a single valley (we just don't do that anymore in the age of artillery and air power), employing horses and so on.  He will also be employing horse cavalry, and using a 'sword that comes out of his mouth' to do battle.  He certainly does not predict that "men will mount up on birds of iron, which breath fire, and fly faster than the sound of a voice, and which hurl flaming spears that destroy from across the horizon and rarely miss" or anything similar.  For that matter, there aren't even too many "kings of the earth" anymore.

Furthermore, the urgency with which he seeks worship, and his violent reaction to anyone who doesn't give him worship, indicates that he needs worship, perhaps in the same way we need food.  Speaking of which, have you ever noticed how God constantly refers to his people as agricultural commodities?  You are the sheep of his pasture, the wheat of his field, the fruit of his vine, etc.  Have you ever even considered the possibility that he might actually mean that?

Though, again, I cannot describe a specific reaction I would have to the definitive proof of Christianity3 without being given a specific scenario (just as you cannot answer exactly how you'd react to the refutation of Christianty without knowing the specifics), my response would likely center on two facts:

1. He is evil.
2. It may be possible to defeat him.

NOTES:

1. Gerald E. Aardsma, ICR, Creation Research Society Quarterly, vol. 30, Dec. 1993, "letters" section, p. 129  Aardsma is a Young-Earth Creationist

2. In fairness to the "omnipotence position," it could be argued that God simply refused to grant Jesus' prayer request as a choice.  After all, as King of the Universe, Supreme Judge, etc., he could choose to just give humanity a Mulligan on the whole 'ancestor eating the fruit' thing and come up with some other method of salvation, such as having Jesus die for our sins symbolically through some kind of ceremony.  Even a mere human ruler can grant clemency on whatever terms he chooses.  However, this answer suggests that God preferred the brutal torture/murder of his own Son over the array of options his omnipotence presented him with, which supports the claim that he is evil.

3. Unless you're talking about the God of modern, Western Christian theology who is omnipotent and perfectly loving, benevolent, morally good, etc.  My reaction to this entity would be very different, since he is not the God of the Bible.  Starting from the "God is omnipotent and perfectly good" premise, we end up with something like God as portrayed in the Conversations With God (http://www.cwg.org/) books.  This God would at least be harmless, and he clearly states in the CWG books that he does not need to be worshipped and doesn't punish anyone for not doing so.  In which case, ironically, he is IMO more worthy of worship.


follow-up posts:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2828.msg38518#msg38518
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2828.msg38528#msg38528
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2828.msg38847#msg38847

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:32:46 PM
Why oppose religion? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2837.msg38282#msg38282)

Quote from: Justthinking

Question. Is it rational to oppose that which does not exist? 

I was born into a family that sold Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm  Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oil is said to be a wonderful substance, and if you drink it, you will have peace and joy in your life, your life will have meaninng, you can know how to be a good person, and it will also make it so you can live forever.

So I grew up reading the company's Sales Manual.  There, I leanred that if you join up and sell Yeshua's Amazing Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm, that you don't have to worry about your future, because Yeshua, the Compnay's CEO, will make sure you get taken care of.  So, I spent the formative years of my life learnig all about Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm, the history of the Company as described in the Sales Manual, and about the wonderful future I had guaranteed, as an employee of the Company.

I tried to sell Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm as well as I could, and trusted in the life advice the CEO gave me, that I shouldn't plan for the future, since I had no control over the future anyway, but as an employee of the Company, I didn't need to anyway.  And, I knew that if I stopped drinking Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm I would suddenly find myself alone, with no meaning or purpose to my life, and, having not planned for the future, I would be up **** creek.  Furthermore, people who don't drink Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm will suffer terribly in the future.

Then, one day, I found out that Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm wasn't magical at all!  It was just colored water with some flavorings and suspicious chemicals added!  These chemicals would cause some people to become extremely violent.  In fact, people had been burned at the stake, and horrible wars launched, by people under the influence of Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm

Not only had I wasted my life and energies up to that point, there were vast numbers of people who were still trapped in the Company's lies, wasting their lives trying to sell Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm.

And that wasn't all.  You see, the company that makes Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm turned out to have an enormous amount of political influence, making legislation so that children in schools would have to say they liked Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm before class started, our money was printed with "In Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm We Trust," and our country even goes to war because the Yeshua, the CEO of the company that makes Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm is the President's favorite philosopher and chief advisor.  Acting on Yeshua's advice, my country has declared war on a billion other people who drink another company's product, Mohammed's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm which turns out to be almost exactly the same stuff as Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm, but with different colorings added.

And so, I realized that Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm (as well as the other brands of Amazing Magical Snake Oil) was not merely some harmless fraud, it was a positive danger to the very survival of the human species and the biosphere of our planet.  I started to oppose Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm and try to help other people stop selling it.

Then one day, a person who still sold Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm asked me, "but if Yeshua's Amazing Magical Snake Oiltm isn't really magical, why do you oppose it?"
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:36:14 PM
Life has meaning to god (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2826.msg38275#msg38275)

Quote from: jwojo13
AHH!! I'm addicted to talking on here already. I have to go to work!!! However, I will respond very quickly and come back later and fill in my blanks.

Life has meaning to God. People have meaning to God.

Why? He doesn't have anyone to tell him what his purpose is.  He doesn't have anyone to tell him that people matter.  For him, there is no God; that is, no Higher Power to give meaning and purpose to his life.  Why should he live?

Now, if you believe it is possible for God to have "meaning" to his life, purpose, etc. without an external Authority to give it to him, why can't we do this as well?


follow-up posts:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2826.msg38569#msg38569
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2826.msg38584#msg38584
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:39:25 PM
Beats the pudding out of moshydog (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2868.msg38590#msg38590)
Quote from: moshdog

My main problem with discussing [Christmas] with [people that don't believe in Santa Claus] is that their one defining statement is "I don't believe." There is nothing to back this statement, nor is there anything else that is common in belief among [people who don't believe in Santa] other then trying to bag out [people who believe in Santa] (and [people who believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy]).

You probably get the idea by now...

Quote from: moshdog

 They often claim that science is their friend, even though science is a methodology, and has no stand on ethics, philosophy or the supernatural, and is about as able to prove there isn't a god as a horseshoe is able to find a cure for cancer.

This relies on a common Christian tactic of conflating the idea of any god with the Christian God.  True, science cannot disprove the generic idea of 'a god,' especially when the term is undefined.  Maybe 'a god' could be existing at the center of a black hole 15 billion light years away, so sure, we can't disprove that.  Or maybe 'a god' is something so tiny we'll never find it because our ability to measure is limited by Planck length.

But once you specify a particular god, and start to make claims for it having to do with our reality, then yes, science can disprove that god, by disproving the claims.  Let's say someone asserts that the mighty god Zeus lives in His palace atop Mount Olympus, and that lightning bolts are His spears.  Well, explorers and/or orbital reconnaisance can prove that there is no palace atop Olympus.  Meteorology and physics provide naturalistic explanations for lightning bolts.  Then the existence of Zeus as described by the claimant, is disproved.  The claimant may then go on to change his claims: "Oh...well, Zeus' palace is invisible, and 'Mount Olympus' doesn't really refer to the physical mountain, it's symbolic of 'a lofty place,' for Zeus is Higher Than Us."

In the case of the Biblical deity, it is possible for science to analyze, and prove or disprove any claim that involves him being or acting detectably in our universe.  If a Christian claims that God created Universe in six days, 6-10,000 years ago, that is a testable claim.  Should Universe prove to be 15+ billion years old and naturally evolving, then the existence of that god, the one that allegedly created Universe 6-10,000 years ago, is refuted.  Christians can, of course, move the goal posts and say, "well, the 'days' were long evolutionary eras'" or some such, just as they changed the view that God lived above the last of the crystalline spheres that held the planets, and "moved" God to some invisible alternate dimension.

They can only move the goal posts so far, however.  Either God can and does interact with matter1 and is thus detectable in principle, or God cannot and does not interact with matter, in which case he is, in principle, indistinguishable from non-existence.

NOTES:

1. Perhaps by working miracles, but the fact that he is coupled to our universe at all could make him detectable with sensitive instrumentation, by noting the effects of the coupling.  If God is interlaced with matter in some way, it ought to be necessary to account for his effects in the equations of physics, just as it is necessary to account for the effects of an elephant in your living room.

this is a 6 page topic.  kcrady has a few more high quality posts later on.
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2868.msg42141#msg42141
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2868.msg42534#msg42534
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2868.msg44051#msg44051
etc...
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:42:58 PM
Morality (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=1180.msg38823#msg38823)

Quote from: VigRoco

You all have a point, but what most of you have failed to mention is that the Civil War era (and the Inquisition and Crusades) was a dark time for humanity. We are much more enlightened now and that carries over to our society. The fact is that Christianity was abused to justify slavery. It is not the nature of Christianity to condone slavery, it is in the nature of men to pervert anything that could that could bring about personal benefit for themselves, religion included.

This is a very interesting topic since the Azusa Street Revival Centennial celebration is coming up.  My church (Assemblies of God) is having a combined service with a Church of God in Christ this Sunday. This will help to break down the racial barrier seen in America's churches.

My conclusion about all of this is that: Perverted Civil War era 'Christianity' does not equal mainstream Christianity of today.


I think most of us could agree with you here.  Christians were on both sides of the Abolition issue, and on both sides of the Civil War.  Christianity has made considerable moral progress since then, or since the Crusades, Inquisition, etc.

The problem for us is that Christians, in all of these eras, claimed to have "the" ultimate morality, revealed by the Ultimate Source.  All of those atrocities we Atheists tend to harp on, including slavery (Southern side) and Sherman's March to the Sea (Union side) were done by Christians who would say that their actions were moral and sanctioned by God.

So, when Christians come to us now and say that apart from their beliefs no morality is possible, or that condoms should not be provided to help stem the spread of AIDS in Africa, or that "God hates fags," we are not impressed, because Christianity's "moral absolutes" sanctioned so many things that are absolutely immoral.

Then there's the claim that we're all inherently wretched sinners deserving eternal torment in Hell.  If you truly believe that, you may "be good" because you think God will smite you if you don't, but you will have no incentive to be good, that is, to have morality apart from commands, threats of punishments, or promises of reward.  Hence the common Christian canard, "If there's no God, why not murder little kids and make lampshades out of their skin?"

People believing in such moral premises will not try to advance the level of human moral progress because they will believe it's impossible.  They may try to convert people, so that they too will "be good" so as not to face the wrath of God, but that's different from "raising the bar" of human morality itself. 

Here you have witnessed a number of atheists who are outraged at the concept of slavery.  In ancient times, people took it as matter-of-fact, normal practice, and OK as long as it was "them" being enslaved and not "us."  Since the Bible does not contain a commandment, "Thou shalt not enslave another," but instead offers rules for the practice of slavery and the slave trade (the Old Testament) and injunctions to slaves to serve their masters willingly, as a form of service to Christ in the New Testament, it is not the Bible that changed this human attitude.

The sea change in human thought came as a result of the Enlightenment, a secular cultural development.  You are speaking now to children of the Enlightenment, who see clearly that it was our secular ethical progress, and not Biblical revelation that gives us the higher moral plane we stand on today.  Christians have fought on both sides of most of the moral struggles that got us here (abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, segregation, womens' lib, etc.). 

So yes, it would be wrong for us to blame Christianity for slavery (non-Christian cultures practiced it too), but neither will we accept the false premise that Christians have an inside-track on morality, because history shows that they don't.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:47:50 PM
Buckminster Fuller’s version of god (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2881.msg38888#msg38888)

Quote from: EssGee
I was thinking about something and it really hit me. What is God? I was always told that God created everthing. It never really quite made any sense to me though. Here is thought, but is it possible that our universe can be seen as a God? Not a God, that judges, just one that was able to make us exist. Christians don't really give our universe any credit. They say that, "God created the heavens and the earth." They will tell you that God created everthing. What if our universe is like a God and created everthing. I know that I may sound like a broken record to some people here, but hear me out.

We exist because our universe exist. When we die, we get recycled back into the universe. Our universe is a mystery itself. Why complicate it more by saying that some ficticious character created the universe? Figuring out our universe, which is real, has more meaning to me than God and Jesus.

For all of you religious people in the house, you always say that people need to pick up the "Good Book" (which was written by men) and get to know God. Well, I say this. Why don't all of you Christians turn to the discovery chanel (which was created by men also) sometimes and see what is going on in our universe. Learn about galaxies and black holes. You will soon realize that there are a lot of things going on right now that may have the anwser to our existence.

Many atheist were once Christians. They have tried religion and it has not worked for them. Since Christians are so concerned that we all get to heaven and that they spread the word of the "Good Book", why not get to know those atheist and find out why they think as they do? I think that science is something that we all can relate to. Maybe it holds the key to our true destinies.

Yes, it is possible to think of it this way.  R. Buckminster Fuller defined "God" as a "great, complex integrity of omni-coordinate and inter-accommodative yet periodically unique and nonsimultaneously co-operative generalized principles, and their myriad of special case realizations, all of which we speak of as universe and may think intuitively of as God"

To unzip that (Fuller wrote with amazing informaiton density):

Great, complex integrity

"Integrity" here refers to the structural sort, the invisible property of a complex structure that makes it sound, i.e. "a triangle is self-bracing."

of omni-coordinate and inter-accommodative

Operational everywhere (across all coordinates) and operating in non-contradictory fashion as a synergy

yet periodically unique and nonsimultaneously co-operative

distinguishable from each other, operating in unique ways, yet cohering together into a non-contradictory whole (I'm a little less than clear about exactly what he was getting at here)

generalized principles

A more accurate term for what we call "laws of physics," since they're not legislation, i.e. commands given by a personal Sky-King.

and their myriad of special case realizations,

That is, all of the individual "things" in Universe.  IOW, Earth is a "special case realization" of the generalized principles of gravity, thermodynamics, emergent order, quantum mechanics, biology, neuroscience, etc.--a specific, concrete application of the generalized operating principles of Universe.

all of which we speak of as universe and may think intuitively of as God

We may think of the total complex of synergies and emergent order as God.

A "synergy" is an emergent property arising from a system that is not predictable by looking at the parts of that system.  For example, the alloy chrome-nickel-steel has a tensile strength that is significantly higher than the sum of the tensile strengths of its constituent metals.  The combination of an explosive metal (sodium) and a poison gas (chlorine) produces table salt, a chemical vital to our life processes.

Bucky's concept of "God" appears to have been to see It as a synergy of all of the generalized operating principles of Universe, and all of the specific manifestations of them, perhaps something like a Gaia Hypothesis for the whole cosmos.  It appears that whenever you get enough different interacting parts together into a system, a self-organizing emergent order arises that results in what seems like intelligent behavior.  For example, a very large cloud of hydrogen gas, consisting only of absolutely dumb hydrogen atoms, left to itself long enough, generated us.  This happened as a result of invisible, "metaphysical" generalized principles (emergent order, gravity, electromagnetism, evolution by natural selection, etc.) working in synergetic concert to produce something (us) that could not be predicted by looking at the hydrogen cloud.

Bucky liked to give demonstrations in his lectures.  One of the ones that I find most thought-provoking involved a slip-knot in a rope.  The rope he used was a hybrid, hemp braided into nylon braided into cotton, etc..  He would tie the slip knot into the rope, then move the knot down through the rope.  Is the knot made of hemp?  No, it still exists as nylon, cotton, etc.  The knot, in Bucky's parlance, is a metaphysical "pattern integrity" that is distinct from any "special case manifestation.  So a knot in a hemp rope would be one special-case manifestation, a knot in a string, another, and a knot in nylon cord another.  But the "metaphysical" "knot" is a pattern integrity that has certain properties regardless of what "special case" form it's appearing in at any given moment.  Likewisee, a triangle made of steel, one of wood, one of plastic, etc. all have the "metaphysical" property of being self-bracing.

Thus, the total "integrity" of all of these metaphysical principles and the emergent-order synergy that arises from their complex interaction represents a kind of "divine intelligence" inherent in Universe.  However, this sort of "divine intelligence" is utterly non-anthropomorphic, except in certain special-case manifestations--us.  Bucky proposed the idea that each individual mind could be considered "a department in the mind of God."

To me, pondering this sort of "cosmic integrity/intelligence," and certain "signatures" like Fibonacci spirals appearing in pine cones, sunflowers, and galaxies, fractal brancing in trees, neurons, lightning bolts, river deltas, and the mega-scale filaments made of billions of galaxies, operating across inconcievable scales of distance and spans of time, produces a greater sense of awe and majesty than the Biblical "King in the Sky" could conjure.

This approach to "the divine" could also yield a kind of one-and-many integration of poly"theism" and mono-"theism."  The ancient polytheists often conceived of their deities as personified generalized operating principles of universe (as they understood them).  So you would have a "god of storms" a "goddess of fertility," a sun god, moon god/-dess, rain god, sea god, etc., with myths created around how they interacted.  Thus, a sun god could have a storm-god as an enemy, as in the Egyptian myths of Ra vs. Apophis and Horus vs Seth.

In a modern approach, personification and mythmaking wouldn't be necessary.  However, such metaphysical operating principles as "gravity," "entropy," "self-organization" and "natural selection" could be viewed intuitively as non-anthropomorphic small-g "gods" with the big-G God representing the emergent property of the entire "pantheon." 

Either way, it could be said that "God" (concieved of in this manner) does have certain "laws" that are self-enforcing, with no need for such conceptions as "divine wrath."  Defy gravity by jumping off of a high bridge, and "punishment" is automatic.  Defy gravity by jumping off the top of a building, while obeying "laws' relating to the tensile strength of a thick, stretchable cord, and you could be "blessed" with a thrilling experience (if you like bungie-jumping).  Create a society based on synergy as "God" is based on synergy (IOW, a society organized around win-win positive-sum games) and you are "blessed," while creating a gaggle of squabbling, war-making societies playing zero-sum win-lose games, and again, "punishment" is automatic, in a general sort of form.

In this version of "God," however, there is no claim to absolute "perfect justice" or "wrath" etc., as "God" does not always operate on a human "level of resolution."  The idea is certainly debatable, but it makes more sense to me than conventional anthropomorphic theism.

Here's another approach (http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_print.html#kosslyn) to the idea of a God accessable to science, from Stephen Kosslyn.  A quote:
Quote
Here's an idea that many academics may find unsettling and dangerous: God exists. And here's another idea that many religious people may find unsettling and dangerous: God is not supernatural, but rather part of the natural order.

Simply stating these ideas in the same breath invites them to scrape against each other, and sparks begin to fly. To avoid such conflict, Stephen Jay Gould famously argued that we should separate religion and science, treating them as distinct "magisteria." But science leads many of us to try to understand all that we encounter with a single, grand and glorious overarching framework. In this spirit, let me try to suggest one way in which the idea of a "supreme being" can fit into a scientific worldview. I offer the following not to advocate the ideas, but rather simply to illustrate one (certainly not the only) way that the concept of God can be approached scientifically.

1.0. First, here's the specific conception of God I want to explore: God is a "supreme being" that transcends space and time, permeates our world but also stands outside of it, and can intervene in our daily lives (partly in response to prayer).

The whole article is well worth reading, and ought to produce some intersting discussion in a place like this. :)

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:51:10 PM
Here is a string on biblical errors.  I am not going to post the text here because the quoting function is disabled in the old forum.  That means I have to format them manually, which I have done so far.  However, these have more quotes and are a lot more work.  Sorry.

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2898.msg39002#msg39002
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2898.msg39863#msg39863
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2898.msg40233#msg40233
 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 25, 2011, 03:53:33 PM
Noah problems (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2916.msg40255#msg40255)

Just a few interesting little facts about the antediluvian world that was supposed to be so "violent" that a Death Star-style planetary extermination was morally justified:

Noah was able to build a giant barge-style wooden boat.

This means he was able to have access to a large amount of lumber, nails, pitch, and whatever other fixtures and furnishings a ship of that size would require (e.g. plumbing).

This means, there was a division-of-labor economy, in which loggers logged trees, miners mined metals, smiths manufactured nails, etc., and the trade necessary to sustain such an economy.

He was able to build this boat unmolested.

He was able to preach about God's coming wrath, unmolested, for a hundred years.

He was able to travel the world, unmolested, to gather animals, or they were able to travel the world to get to him (where they got their airline tickets?  Who knows?).

He was able to gather the enormous amount of supplies necessary (feed for the herbivores, something to feed the predators, food for the humans, etc., all unmolested.

All of these things require a substantial amout of peace.  Think about the fact that these allegedly horrifically violent, savage people let Noah talk, for a hundred years, expressing beliefs they did not share.  They recognized his friggin' freedom of speech!

Let us say that someone wanted to preach the message of Buddhism in 1100 A.D. Europe.  How long would they last?  A hundred years?  I think not.

"But God miraculously protected Noah," you will say.  Then, we are to believe that whenever the roving barbarian hordes tried to attack Noah (and, being so violent, they must have, right?) they would be repeatedly repelled by forcefields, fireballs from heaven, or some other form of divine intervention...right?

Curious that the Bible does not provide even a single story of this sort of thing taking place.  After all, such an account of God's care and protection would have been inspiring, and would have re-emphasized just how evil this savage society was.

Back to the division-of-labor economy, that requires enough peace and order for people to specialize in, say, logging, knowing that someone else is going to grow your food, that food shipments will get through, that your money (or whatever you're trading) will be recognized, and likewise for clothes, shoes, and everything else you'll need.  These things simply cannot take place in a society utterly and totally consumed by violence.  Noah himself was able to create and accumulate a considerable economic surplus (beyond what he needed to survive) to finance the project.

This doesn't seem to me to imply a society even as violent as present-day Iraq.  Should we start issuing water-wings to our troops? :)
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: Graybeard on April 26, 2011, 03:24:06 PM
Many thanks to Kcrady and you, Screwtape for making the arguments so accessible. There's a book in there.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 26, 2011, 03:54:04 PM
Other Gods (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2981.msg41197#msg41197)

Quote from: crossbearer777

this ain't gonna be pretty but THE BIBLE

In the Bible, Moses issues a command from his God saying, "Thou shalt have no gods before me."  Elsewhere, it is written, "For the LORD your God is a jealous God."

These verses would make no sense if other Gods did not exist. 

So if other Gods exist (and the First Commandment makes no sense if they don't), it makes perfect sense to accept that among these other Gods yours is jealous of, is the Great God Ptah.  As stated elsewhere, the existence of the Great God Ptah is richly documented in ancient Egyptian writings pre-dating yours.

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul claims that Christians help God make war upon "principalities and powers in the heavenly places."  Note the plural here.  This is not a reference to a singular rival principality ruled by Satan.  And, since they are in "heavenly places," they are not the underworld demons of Christian popular belief.  Paul defines these "principalities and powers" as "the rulers of this present age."  Who were the rulers of this present age?  Well, human rulers are already ruled out (because the war is not waged against "flesh and blood"), which leaves only one set of obvious candidates: the Gods and Goddesses of other relgions.

Therefore, far from disproving the existence of the Great God Ptah, the Bible provides further evidence for His existence.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 26, 2011, 03:57:11 PM
Intelligent design (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3028.msg41475#msg41475)

ID doesn't even support the idea of "a" Designer.  It could be a team, like major design projects are in reality--IOW, a pantheon.
Or we could just say that the evolutionary process itself is a form of natural "intelligence" operating in very slow motion. 

Either way, ID isn't much help in validating Christianity, even if its arguments ("irreducible complexity," etc.) were valid.  Furthermore, before you can posit a Designer or Designers as an explanatory mechanism in science, you have to be able to define them, their abilities, their methods of interacting with matter/energy, etc.  This is the same thing a particle physicist has to do if s/he wants to propose a new particle as an answer for some question in physics.  S/he must define its mass, charge, half-life (if it decays), etc. so that physicists can "know where to look" in order to try to find (or falsify) it.

To propose a "Designer" or "Designers" as the solution to how bacterial flagella originated, etc., merely opens up a whole new slew of mysteries.  What is a "Designer" made of?  How does (whatever they're made of) interact with matter?  If they exist in some alternate dimension with alternate generalized operating principles (e.g. a "spirit realm" that works differently than the Universe we know) how do they learn enough about our Universe's generalized operating principles to set about designing something to work here?  Consider for a moment the extreme difficulty of designing a complex machine to work in a Universe where the principles of physics are different from yours!

Then there's the usual, "What about the Designers?  Are they 'irreducibly complex?'  Who designed them?" etc.

ID "theory" is a kind of Stealth argument that seeks cash in on the prevalence of Christianity, while pretending that it's "neutral" and "scientific."  They hope we'll assume that "design" proves a Designer, that "everybody knows" that it is the one the pastor talks about in church on Sunday, and that we can just ignore any need to scientifically define the "Designer" or show how he could set about designing and building things in our universe.


Follow up
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3028.msg41600#msg41600

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 26, 2011, 04:00:25 PM
In search of gods (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3041.msg41786#msg41786)


I also applaud you for your empathy (+1), and your fair consideration of both sides' viewpoints.  I don't know that many atheists on this forum would have problems with someone who was searching for God(-dess/s) like AIDS researchers looking for a cure.  The problem with spirituality in general is not those who seek, but the ones who claim to have already found, and who seek to impress their "cure" on everyone based on their own dogmatic and unquestioning acceptance.

In your analogy, they would be like people claiming that garlic is "the" cure for AIDS, while another religion like Islam would be people claiming that rutabagas are "the" cure for AIDS.  In this modified analogy, the atheist is like an AIDS researcher who is convinced that neither garlic nor rutabagas work as a cure for AIDS.  When the garlic research team and the rutabaga team kill each other and/or atheists ("infidels") because "their cure is the right one" despite a complete lack of proof, atheists cannot accept that sort of behavior because the garlic and rutabaga research teams say they're out to cure AIDS.

From the Christian (and, probably Muslim) point of view, we atheists (and the other research team) have AIDS ("sin") and we must take their cure (garlic/rutabagas) or perish.  Atheists don't agree that we have the disease ("Original Sin") to begin with, and hence do not need either cure.  Furthermore, consuming either garlic or rutabagas in the necessary quantities is unpalatable as well as unnecessary.

The garlic team and the rutabaga team both believe they have AIDS (sin) but that their cure, and only their cure can work.  They hold that it is important to believe in their cure regardless of any absence of proof, or evidence to the contrary.  They see us (and each other) as bringing ourselves and others the curse of death by AIDS (sin, hell).  Atheists see both as applying a "cure" that is both unnecessary and ineffective, and their squabbles with each other as exteremely dangerous, especially when either team starts edging toward the nuclear weapons.

We are at an impasse, but I think the impasse is centered on the concept of "faith," of believing in anything as a matter of choice and will rather than accepting the probable truth of a thing based on the evidence.  I think the first step toward us getting along with each other on Spaceship Earth is for the members of each religion to acknowledge that the members of the other religions have exactly the same kind of devout faith they do, just as sincerely, and for the same reasons.  For atheists, I think we ought to acknowledge that people of faith are not inherently drooling, delusional idiots, but that they have accepted memes that are supremely well-adapted to the workings of the human mind.

When a person deconverts, it suddenly seems so obvious, and we wonder what took us so long.  Then the newly-minted atheist turns around on the vast majority of his/her fellow humans and thinks, "What is WRONG with you people?!  Why can't you SEE?!"  And so we get the "believers are delusional" meme, along with Marshall Brain's mantra of "every sane, reasonable adult"--which obviously does not include believers.  I don't think this is necessarily the best approach.  There is a certain smugness associated with being in the elite 3% of the population that's not crazy (which is what this approach seems to imply), but it's not that different from the smugness that comes with being in the elite small percentage of those who have truly Seen The Light and are Saved.

IOW, it is an all too common human tendency to dehumanize people who do not believe in the same things you do.  They're either servants of Satan--or inmates who are running the asylum.  Naturally, these kinds of attitudes are not conducive to coexistence.  I suppose the best thing we can do is begin from a place of compassion and epistemological humility that acknowledges that the map is not the territory, and the picture of reality we keep in our heads is not reality itself.

Christians: It really is possible to sincerely and honestly believe in something other than Christianity (and to disbelieve).  All those people with other religions and no religion do it all the time.

Muslims: It really is possible to sincerely and honestly believe in something other than Islam (and to disbelieve).  All those people with other religions and no religion do it all the time.

Atheists: The notion that 96+ percent of the human race is insane/delusional/stupid--and that you are in the elite 3 percent of the human race that isn't barking mad--is incompatible (IMO) with natural selection.  If religion were merely some blatantly stupid "delusion," then the fact that the vast majority of humans accept it would indicate that as a species we have a terribly flawed cognitive apparatus (atheist Original Sin?); basically the mental equivalent of 96 percent of cheetahs being born with only three legs.

However, if we are willing to consider that religion itself is an evolving thing (e.g. memetics), that it has become supremely well-adapted to the workings of the human mind and human psychology, that under pre-WMD conditions it provided survival advantages to groups that outweighed its disadvantages1 then we can at least acknowledge that we're not dealing with people who believe in some wimpy little fantasy like the Tooth Fairy or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (useful as they may be as analogies in debate).  Rather, we are dealing with memes that have been evolving along with us as long as we've been human2  The religions that now exist are, essentially, the most powerful of the bunch.  We may consider religion a dangerous adversary3, but it is an adversary worthy of respect.  And thus, we should try to avoid treating believers like mental midgets, even those that do their best to act like it. 

True, they may shut off their cognitive apparatus, and do so proudly and openly in the name of faith ("God said it, I belive it, that settles it!") or harness their congnitive apparatus to the task of "defending the faith" (apologetics, Creationism, ID, etc.).  But they do this because they've internalized a highly-sophisticated meme that is very good at persuading them to do so, not because they're morons or crazy.


NOTES:

1. A religion that can convince a group of people to act in concert, and to be willing to kill and die for it will confer that group an advantage over a group that spends its time bickering, debating, and otherwise failing to cohere enough to act in concert, and whose members are not willing to kill and die "for a cause."  The anti-rationality which is a characteristic of just about every religion makes it possible for a society controlled by a given religion to "follow the leader."  All other things being equal, an Iron Age army of zealots following a "man of God" will easily crush an army of thoughtful rationalists who must decide everything by consensus after full deliberation.  Soldiers who believe death in battle is a first-class ticket to a blissful, eternal afterlife--perhaps including access to a bevy of beautiful dark-eyed virgins--will arguably be better at facing the carnage of war than soldiers who think this is their one and only life.

For these reasons, religious societies had significant advantages over non-religious societies, which probably resulted in adaptations to the architecture of the human brain that make it possible for us to have mystical experiences.  However, a society that went too far in this direction, becoming mindless drones, would be out-thought by clever enemies who could still use their reasoning apparatus.  Hence, the tension between the royal Abrahamic God and the 'subtil' (clever) Serpent, or between the cunning Ulysses and the divine and magical forces around him.  And so we humans ended up being neither perfect True Believers nor perfect Rational Thinkers.

2. Neandertal burials have been found that include grave goods (tools and weapons) and flowers ceremoniously interred with the bodies.  This is probably an indicator of belief in an afterlife where the grave-goods would be needed again.  The cave paintings of Cro Magnon man are also considered to have been used for religious initiation rites and to assist shamanic "spirit journeys," due to the often considerable difficulties in spelunking so deep into a cave and creating elaborate artwork with the primitive lighting available.

3. The military advantages conveyed by the group-think and willingness to kill and die that religion provides have become severe disadvantages in an age of WMD.  The Abrahamic warrior-religions arguably represent the greatest single threat to human survival, at least until they can adapt to an era in which war has become obsolete.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 26, 2011, 04:03:13 PM
Jesus and John the Baptist (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3055.msg41814#msg41814)


Quote
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

--Matthew 14:1-2

Quote
And king Herod heard [of him]; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.
But when Herod heard [thereof], he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.

--Mark 6:14-16

Quote
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?  And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

--Matthew 16:13-14

Quote
And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?   They answering said, John the Baptist; but some [say], Elias; and others [say], that one of the old prophets is risen again.

--Luke 9:18-19



These illuminating passages reveal something quite astonishing.  If they can be considered accurate1, they indicate that there was a theory spreading in Jesus' own time, that he was a resurrected John the Baptist.  They also indicate that there were at least a few other "resurrection theories" that proposed that Jesus was Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other ancient Hebrew prophets raised from the dead.

These theories apparently had broad currency, since Herod the Tetrarch had heard of them, and they crop up in a discussion between Jesus and his disciples as an issue important enough to be written down later.  Of course, Peter goes on to affirm that Jesus is the Messiah, with Jesus' approval.

However, what's interesting here is that the theories existed at all.  Jesus and John the Baptist are portrayed as contemporaries, conceived at about the same time.  Both are portrayed as having popular itinerant ministries capable of drawing significant crowds and the attention of the Jewish and Roman elites. 

In other words, a theory that Jesus was John the Baptist resurrected would not seem to be the most credible belief system.  Yet, this theory was popular enough that when Jesus asked his disciples who people thought he was, it came up first.  And it wasn't even the only theory.  Jesus was also believed to be a resurrected Elijah, Jeremiah, or "one of the prophets"--which would seem to indicate a number of less widely-accepted theories.

What this shows us is that the people of Jesus' time were very extraordinarily eager to believe in resurrection theories concerning prophets and holy men.  Is it any wonder then, that tales of a resurrection of Jesus himself should take root among this same population?  When we see how many times Jesus "appears" but does not look like Jesus--either as a "man on the road," or as a "gardiner," and is only later "recognized" as Jesus, we can either assume that Jesus was a shape-changer camoflaging his appearance for some mysterious reason, or we can opt for the theory that people so eager to believe in resurrected messiah figures that they would see in Jesus a resurrected John the Baptist, might also see in a man walking along a road, or a gardiner, a resurrected Jesus.

I leave it to you to note which is the more parsimonious explanation.


NOTES:

The question of whether Jesus is a historical or mythic figure is a subject that often comes up for debate on these forums.  For the purposes of this post, it will be assumed that the Gospels are based at least on some kernel of genuine history; the degree of their accuracy is beyond the scope of this post.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on April 26, 2011, 04:13:24 PM
Why faith? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3036.msg42124#msg42124)

Quote from: unkleE

Quote
Why did god give me free will if he is going to punish me for freely choosing not to believe in him?

As a theist, I'd like to give a different answer to the others on offer here .....

Free will or autonomous life is an amazing gift. God could have made nothing, or robots or whatever, but he made humans and gave us the ability to choose, including choosing not to believe in him as many on this forum do. Yes, there is responsibility that inevitably goes with freedom, and that means ultimately justice will be done.

Could you please explain what "justice" has to do with believing in your god, or not?  If someone chose not to believe in the sun, we might think they were silly, but I doubt you could find anyone who thought they deserved to be punished for it.  And what if the fact in question is a little less obvious.  Like the existence of flying saucers.  There's plenty of evidence--lots of photos, eyewitness testimony, and so on.  However, many people (I'm guessing most Christians included) are not convinced that aliens are traveling across the galaxy on a large scale so they can draw pretty pictures in crops and cut out cows' genitals with surgical precision.

Do you believe in flying saucers?  If not, do you think it would be "just" for the aliens to abduct you and punish you for not believing in them?

With regard to Christianity, we have had Christians fairly regularly assert the Babelfish Defense whenever we ask them for convincing evidence for their god's existence.  Basically, the argument goes, God has given us free will to choose whether to believe in him or not.  If he provided convincing evidence, the choice to believe would be automatic.  Therefore, in order to uphold "free will" he basically hides himself in order to make atheism, Hinduism, etc. look credible so we have a "choice" what to believe.

Which means: God "fudges the facts" (camoflages his existence and power, except for a few times in the ancient past when he didn't) so we have the option of getting it wrong.  And then, when we, based on the deception-by-omission he has provided, make the "wrong" choice, he punishes us for being mistaken!

Could you explain a theory of justice this is consistent with?  Preferably something other than "because God says so."  That's just a whim, not a concept of justice.

I would also like to know: why is belief in the absence of evidence so important to God?  Acknowledgement of the existence of God as a fact is not synonymous with choosing to love, worship, or serve him.  God could make his existence self-evident, and still give us choice whether to serve him or not.  He could simply offer to give those who did not want to worship him but who were still decent, caring people the afterlife of their choice.   

>snip<
Quote
Another common misunderstanding by christians and atheists alike (I believe).
  • Jesus used the word "destroy", meaning an end to life (Matthew 10:28). 
  • The term often translated "everlasting" (e.g. in Matthew chapter 25) is more correctly translated "eternal", which is not the same thing. Eternal translates the Greek word "aionios", which to a Jew of Jesus's day meant the age to come (in contrast to this present age).
  • Several words translated "hell" have various meanings, including the place or state of the dead, and a rubbish tip outside Jerusalem. Certainly not the hell of popular imagination and Gary Larson cartoons!

To me, this (and the debate between you and Giannis over Greek translation, Aramaic, etc.) is problematic to Christianity.  Here we have a fairly important issue that pertains directly to God's character.  Does he torture people forever, or just snuff them out?  If you hold (as most Christians do) to the idea that God is immune to screw-ups, why did he create and transmit his revelation in such a way that people who are experts in ancient languages as an academic specialty can disagree over what the words mean?

Put yourself in the shoes of a neutral observer, say, an intelligent Buddhist who steps into the room while you and Giannis are exchanging scholarly arguments on koine Greek and Aramaic.  How is this neutral observer supposed to take seriously the idea that they are called upon to "choose to believe" something, and if they make the wrong "choice" they will be punished, when even prominent experts in the relevent fields don't agree on the content of what the rest of us are supposed to believe? 

The same question applies, of course, in relation to the numerous different versions of Christianity.  To ask someone to believe in something without (or even in contradiction to) evidence is presumptuous enough, IMO.  How do you ask them to "believe in something" when the people who already profess to believe all disagree on exactly what that "something" is?
Quote
Put it all together and you get the following - there will be a judgment or reckoning and life will end for those who fail it (by not asking for forgiveness). In one sense they get what they want, no God and no life. So it's still a sobering and awful teaching, but not nearly what is often imagined, and certainly not everlasting torment.  BTW, I didn't come to this view just because it is preferable, but from a scholar and checking out the Greek for myself.

Hope that helps at least understand what "the other side" believes, so at least your disbelief can be better based.

Do I understand you to be saying that you believe God simply annihilates those who reject him rather than subjecting them to eternal torment?  If so, what sort of execution is it?  Does he burn them to death (hence the fiery imagery, the analogy of Gehenna, the valley where the city of Jerusalem burned its trash, etc.)?  Or is it more like, *zap* you're not there anymore?  Or does he have different execution styles depending on his assessment of the person's guilt (e.g. the nice little old lady who believes God is a girl, wears a crystal 'round her neck, and reads Tarot cards gets a more merciful execution than one of Stalin's gulag commandants)?


Follow-up
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3036.msg42506#msg42506
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 11, 2011, 02:41:11 PM
Evidence: Roswell > jesus (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2868.msg42141#msg42141)


Quote from: moshydog
To answer this I would say that if someone can prove that a god has revealed themself to us, objectively, then that god exists. True? Secondly, if this being claimed to be a god, and then went on to prove this by doing something impossible (for a human), this would suffice as a proof that the god exists. True?
Case in point:
Death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Can it be shown that this event did not happen? Yes (disprovable).

Would anyone like to have a go at this? Proving that god does or doesn't exist from an objective position? Is jesus just a man, a god, or doesn't he exist?

What is your answer, and what is your proof?

Since you are the one who proposes we add a new item to our inventory of facts (that your God exists, and has revealed this through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ), you have the burden of proof to show that the resurrection of Jesus (and hence, the existence of the God this presumably reveals) is a fact.  What is your evidence?  Eyewitness testimony of the Gospels written down at least 40 years later?1

We have better evidence than that for a crashed flying saucer at Roswell.  In addition to eyewitness testimony of people who claim to have handled crash debris made of inexplicable materials, seen alien bodies being taken in for dissection, etc., we even have contemorary accounts--a newspaper story and radio broadcast--given within days of the events.

True, there's a debunking story that came out, but that could just be an Establishment Coveruptm.  The eyewitnesses reject the "weather balloon" story.

Now, many Christians, especially the more "fundamentalist" variety, would reject the idea of aliens from other planets visiting the Earth in spaceships because the Bible does not say anything about extraterrestrial life visiting Earth.

Do you have any evidence, other than dubious Roswell-quality eyewitness claims made decades after the alleged event, to validate the resurrection of Jesus? 

NOTES:

1. There is, of course, considerable debate that the Gospels are even "eyewitness" accounts at all, or written by the individuals they are named for.  For example, none of the Disciples were present in the courtrooms for Jesus' trials, yet words and events there are recorded.  Likewise for Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gesthemane, for which the Gospels tell us, only his "inner circle" disciples were even in the area, and they were asleep.

(4 more pages of discussion follow)
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 11, 2011, 03:19:24 PM
It’s all hearsay (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3042.msg42977#msg42977)

Quote from: james51
Quote from: generousgeorge
But I'm not talking about just the 10  ....I'm talking about all the guidance and 1,000s of contradictary commands God makes in the bible....you want to draw our attention only to the 10 commandments for the covenience of your argument.

Those are the specific ones brought down, the rest ? Where did they come from? Hearsay. God told me? Yeah right, well God talks to me too and He didn't tell me that. I think you heard Him wrong.

I think the "other" commandments he's talking about are the ones in the Bible.  There's 613 of them.  Tossing in Jesus' two, that makes 615.  Now, either God is responsible for all those other Biblical commandments, or he is not.  If he is not, and they're hearsay (as you imply), then what about "the ones brought down?"  How do we know if any commandments were brought down from any mountain written by God's own hand?  It's hearsay.  We're supposed to believe it because whoever wrote the Book of Exodus says so.  We don't have any confirmation of any of this from other sources.  There are no Egyptian records of a massive set of calamities followed by the loss of a large slave workforce, followed in turn by the loss of an Egyptian army with a Pharaoh at it's head.

So why should we believe in the "10 Commandments" you like?  They're just hearsay too.  And the ones Jesus issued?  Hearsay.  We only "know" he said them because other people writing decades afterwards said he did.  And we know that only because generations of other people copied, redacted, and then voted to declare some texts as "canon" while rejecting others.

It's all hearsay, pure and simple.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 11, 2011, 03:25:25 PM
On a new religion (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3165.msg44174#msg44174)

Quote from: laetusatheos
Everyone has an irrepressible right
to follow his or her desires
and enjoy to the fullest the life
that he or she is given.
Let no one be denied the rightful honor and reverence
due a blessed incarnation of the Living God.

If the above were taken out along with the latter verses about unrealistic communal living it wouldn't be that bad of a belief system.

People have every right to follow their desires but only to the extent that those desires do not trample upon the desires of others.  As written, it allows for believers to do absolutly anything they desire (other than kill).

I think the last two sentences you cited would rule that out.  If you treat everyone with "the rightful honor and reverence due to a blessed incarnation of the Living God" then that doesn't seem to leave much room for rapine, brutality, and abuse in the course of following your desires.  Of course, the problem with any written document is interpretation, especially when people start getting lawyery.  And people do that (I'm not saying you are). 

This touches on something I've been contemplating lately:

If your religion teaches you that you are an incorrigible, utterly wicked sinner deserving of Hell, who can only be restrained by strict rules and and threats of divine violence, how will you behave?  If you also believe you have carte blanche so long as you're obeying the law-giver, is there any atrocity you're incapable of?1

If your religion teaches you that other people are incorrigible, utterly wicked sinners deserving of everlasting torture in Hell, how will you be inclined to feel about them deep down, and what will govern the way you treat them?

If your religion teaches you that you are a manifestation of the Divine2, and that your place here is to do the most Divine acts of which you are capable, and be Divine in all that you are and do, how would you be, and what would you do?

If your religion teaches you that everyone else is a special-case manifestation of the Divine, how would you be inclined to treat them?

IOW, I think the Christian doctrine of "original sin" provides subliminal reinforcement towards evil behavior,3 whereas a doctrine of "original divinity" might provide subliminal reinforcement toward good behavior and moral progress.

Dawkins developed the concept of memes as "viruses of the mind."  There are two ways viruses can be fought: One is to develop immunity oneseslf.  In the memetic model, this would involve developing the mental immune system of open-minded rational, critical thought based on observation of reality.  But in societal terms, it has proven extraordinarily difficult for atheists to confer this type of mental immune system to others.  This leads to the second way viruses are fought: Vaccination.  A vaccine is a dormant and/or harmless virus that is similar to the one being vaccinated against.  Introducing a vaccine is deliberate infection of a person with the harmless virus, which then causes their body to generate defenses against the harmful virus.

So, I suppose what I am contemplating here, is the idea of a memetic vaccination against fundamentalist religion.  Such a vaccine would have to provide all the main benefits of religion, e.g. a moral code, a "God of Love" (perhaps less- or non-anthropomorphic), a sense of "the sacred" that imbues life with meaning,4 a context in which to understand "spiritual" or "mystical" experiences, maybe a concept of immortality5 and perhaps technologies/techniques for generating numinous experiences, such as "sacred" places, ceremonies, meditation techniques, Persinger headsets, Lilly tanks, etc..6

Of course, this new belief system would also have to be consistent with reality as we understand it, to the greatest extent possible.  It would, at the very least, have to include as virtues the use of the scientific method and critical thought as opposed to "faith."  A lot of this could be as simple as changing our interpretation and evaluation of the meaning of Universe as revealed to us by science.  IOW, emphasize "We are star stuff" over "Earth is a tiny, insignificant planet orbiting a third-rate star in a mediocre galaxy."  In his new book Why Darwin Matters (http://nobeliefs.com/Shermer4.htm), Michael Schermer says, "The theory of top-down intelligent design of all life by or through a supernatural power was replaced with the theory of bottom-up natural design through natural forces."  It could be argued that "intelligent design" as we humans do it is simply "evolution on steroids" that works via high-speed natural selection that takes place inside a mental (or computer) model of Universe in which we rapidly evolve new "things" like submarines and bridges. 

Just as the interaction of millions of neural pulses generates the emergent property of "consciousness" and "intelligence," perhaps the emergent properties of self-organization and evolutoin by natural selection that arise from mass interaction of particles, molecules, etc. could be modeled as "intelligence in (very) slow motion."  IOW, a bottom-up "cosmic intelligence" emerging from irreducible Grand Unified Theory generalized operating principles of Universe, rather than a top-down external "supernatural" intelligence.  Basically, Lovelock's "Gaia Hypothesis" (as I understand it) applied recursively on a cosmic scale.  If this "cosmic intelligence" is defined as "the Divine" "God/-dess/-s" etc., then we could view ourselves as Its avatars.  "We are evolution become aware of itself and made conscious." 

I will post some more thoughts on this as time permits.


NOTES:

1. In a number of threads (e.g. The Book of Job, the Devil in Eden), Christians have admitted implicitly that God, being the Law-giver is exempt from morality (and may thus rightly murder people, etc. to "glorify himself").  If someone believes God wants them to do something horrific, they must still obey (e.g. Abraham, Moses, George W. Bush).  All that is necessary therefore, for the Christian to feel morally entitled to do anything at all, is the belief on their part that God commands them to do it.  Since their primary epistemological virtue is "faith," the ability to believe as a 'choice' (i.e. an act of will) without regard to evidence, they have all they need to commit any atrocity, with Biblical support from the lives of Bible "heroes."

2. However you want to define that, but it ought to include connotations of high morality and so forth.

3. Comparing most modern Christians with the Bible and its characters, I think it is safe to say that whatever goodness Christianity has comes from the humanity of Christians, not the other way around.

4. I think one of the main "marketing problems" of atheism and skepticism in general is that we have "elite" scientist types like Richard Dawkins, James Randi and Carl Sagan who seem (in the public imagining) to be saying, basically: "Your pointless job, the bills, the arguments with your spouse, the whole 'workaday world' of doing something you hate so you can pay the bills—that's all there is.  Even the things you think are interesting and meaningful, like that UFO you saw or the "experience of Jesus' love" you felt, that's all just fake delusion.  You're just one more furless chimp struggling to survive and reproduce in a Universe that is utterly cold and indifferent to you.  Get real.  Your cubicle is waiting."  Of course they don't really say this in so many words, but IMO that's what people hear when their "spirituality" gets debunked.  Which is why Christians start "Why Live?" threads here.

5. Perhaps this could be put on a scientific footing by grounding it in genetics, nanotechnology, and mind-computer interfaces that would eventually enable "uploading," and other forms of science/technology-derived "immortality."

6. That people do have "mystical experiences" is beyond doubt.  The debate is over whether they're experiencing some "spiritual realm," or just having a brain-trip.  Either way, these experiences are deeply profound and moving to those who have them, and are IMO a big factor in the history-controlling power of religion.  Perhaps instead of merely throwing cold water on them and saying "You're delusional!" emphasis could be placed on generating and exploring these experiences in systematic, scientific fashion.  "The methods of science--the aims of religion."  Perhaps the most important thing we can do to save the world is to teach scientific methodology, and why it works.  "How to think" is more important than "what to think."
 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 11, 2011, 03:28:43 PM
Why the Egyptian pantheon makes more sense than xianity (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=2599.msg43953#msg43953)

Quote from: CJaKfOrEsT
Final question, McCrady,:
Do you actually believe in this stuff, or do you just present this as an alternative to try to make Christianity look stupid? (Real question, no disrepect intended)

I can't make Christianity look stupid.  That is a feat only Christians can accomplish.  You know the type of Christian I'm talking about--the ones that make you go "D'OH! We're not all like that!

The purpose of my citing this information is illustration.  Christians often argue as if Christianity were the only religion in the world.  So we're told we have to have faith, trust that your holy book is true, be afraid of your Judgment Day and your Hell, and trust that your religious formula is the only way to be 'saved.'

The problem is, even if we were inclined to succumb to that sort of argumentation...Christianity isn't the only religion in the world, now or in the past.  There isn't even one "Christianity," but quite a few of them.  And so, as neutral observers, we have a number of different religions threatening us with their version of Hell/Judgment and promising us their version of salvation.

Furthermore, merely offerng hints and warnings of judgment and promises of salvation is not persuasive to us for the same reason warnings of Osiris' Judgment Hall is not persuading you to give up Christianity and go find a copy of Per Em Hru.

Also, you are attempting to paint OkiMike into a corner by decreeing your own specialized, non-standard definition of "life" which assumes the premises you are trying to validate (e.g. circular reasoning).  By choosing the ancient Egyptian word for "life" instead of the ancient Hebrew, I was able to define you as "not really alive" the same way you did to OkiMike.  Again, for illustration purposes.

However, comparing the Egyptian religion to Biblical Christianity, I do evaluate the Egyptian religion as superior.  It has stronger textual support (many of its texts are carved in stone, eliminating the copies-of-copies problem the Bible has).  We do not have any evidence that I know of to indicate that the Egyptian religion is responsible for any mass atrocities of the kind openly boasted about in the Bible, nor any persecution of other religions1  The Egyptian religion reveres feminine as well as masculine divinity, unlike the Bible, in which God is male, all the spirit beings (angels and demons) are male, and women are either chattels who literally don't count,2 or at best due for a sex-change before they can get into heaven.3

On the other hand, if I really had to pick a civilization from that era on which to base my life and belief, it would have to be the Minoans.  So far as we can tell from excavations, they were a peaceful, prosperous society where women were (as far as we can tell) equal with men and able to fully participate in society along with men, with no evidence of tyrannical, aggressive warrior-kings.  Unfortunately, we cannot yet translate Minoan writing, so we do not know the specifics of their religion beyond what their statuary and art tell us.


NOTES:

1. The alleged "killing of male Jewish children" at the time of Moses' alleged birth as described in Exodus doesn't qualify, as there is no evidence for this or any of the events of Exodus in Egyptian records.  In contrast, the Bible openly boasts of genocidal campaigns carried out in the name of its god.  The only religious suppression I know of in Egyptian history took place during the reign of Akhenaten--a monotheist.

2. Notice how in the geneologies and census data (e.g. "Numbers") only men are counted.  In the Garden of Eden, God was only concerned that "the man has become like one of us."  Eve was beneath his notice.

3. Jesus told the Pharisees there would be no marrying or giving in marriage in Heaven, but that people would be "like the angels."  Despite all that lovely Rennaisance artwork, the Bible is quite clear that angels are male.  Every single time angels are mentioned, they are described as looking like men and referred to with masculine pronouns.  Apparently, rather handsome ones, judging by the reaction of the mob in Sodom.  There is not one single example of a female angel in the Bible.  So if you're a good Christian girl, you'll get to join the Heavenly Boys' Club after you die.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 11, 2011, 03:37:42 PM
A silly moral dilemma (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3205.msg44569#msg44569)

HaveMercy, with regard to your story, you seem to think that the other kid letting David cry on his shoulder is actually an answer (rather than emotional manipulation).  That David went on to become a pastor is presumably supposed to be a good thing.  However, where was all this love for that other little kid that got creamed?  Or for his parents?  Now, God either possesses vast power, or he doesn't.  If he does, then where was his love that day?  With omnipotent power he couldn't nudge a few grams of lead just a couple feet to the right?  And please don't try the "Well, maybe God had some wonderful divine purpose for letting that child die, perhaps so David could become a great pastor."  That's using the death of a 4 year-old as a means to an end, and I don't see how that qualifies as anything but evil.  As if an omnipotent being had need for "means" anyway.

If God is not omnipotent, and was unable to stop the bullet, then he may be a nice guy, but you no longer have the option of singing paeans to his vast unlimited power.

Here's a moral dilemna for you, HaveMercy:

We return to that playground on that fateful day, but with a difference:  You're there, and you have vast supernatural power.  Let's just say you're like Neo from the Matrix and you can stop the bullet in flight.  What do you do?1
Quote from: Have_Mercy
Hellbore, here's a moral dilema for you. 3 people are walking on a train track in a tunnel, a train is coming. There is a switch to put the train on an alternate track, where one person is. No cop outs, would you pull the switch? Kill one to save three? I don't claim any great understanding of God, but maybe he was doing the equivilent on a larger scale. Sacrifice one to save 10, or a hundred thousand to save a million. Or one to save the entire earth.

If I have time to run over to a railroad switch, and pull it to switch the train tracks, the people standing on the tracks have more than enough time to get the hell out of the way.  Cop-out?  No.  Stupid "moral dilemna."  "Morality" is only useful in relation to real life.  What you've done here is set up an unrealistic scenario in order to impose a zero-sum game.  "Who are you going to sacrifice?"  Such scenarios, and the morality they encourage, clearly benefit those who expect to profit from sacrifice.  A much better morality is one founded on seeking common interests and win-win scenarios rather than setting up artificial and unrealistic "moral dilemnas" so you can justify a morality where one person's gain only comes at the sacrifice of another.  A rational morality is also centered on providing us guidance in how we ought to behave in real life, not in highly artificial scenarios we are almost certain never to encounter.

Furthermore, your analogy to God and Jesus is fallacious.  If God is either an omnimax (has all the "Omni-" attributes), or he's the rule-maker who is exempt from the rules (which is why it's OK for him to kill directly or order his followers to, etc.), then he's got better options than picking someone to sacrifice.  He can just teleport the people off the tracks (use his omnopotence), or order them to get off (change the rules or show clemency).  If "Sin" or whatever has them tied to the tracks and God has no choice, then you deny God is an omnimax, or at least claim that "Sin" is an equal and opposite omnimax.
Quote from: Have_Mercy
But when God comes, and if he doesn't we'll never know it, there's going to be a judgement.

That didn't take long, did it?  You Christians always start out telling us how God is just gushing with love, and how eager he is to be our own personal superhero.  But, the second that doesn't seem to work, out come the threats of force.  If we don't believe and serve, God's coming, and he's gonna get us!  I know you put a different spin on it below, but we all know what "Judgment Day" is.  And we all know the Christian view of what is supposed to happen to folks like us afterward.  It's all described very clearly in the Bible.   
Quote from: Have_Mercy
It's going to be us asking God "What were you thinking?" And God's going to have to give an account for his actions. So I'll reserve passing judgement until I can ask him face to face. To me, Jesus gained enough credibility through his actions, actions mind you, that I'm willing to give God a chance to explain for himself.


No, it'll be more like "What?  Were you thinking?" :)  Seriously, nowhere in the Bible is there even the slightest hint that God will give an account for his actions on Judgment Day.  The Bible makes it very, very plain that God has no intention whatsoever of giving such an account.  In Romans, chapter 9, Paul asserts that God, "desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power" (v.22) makes some people especially to punish, like a kid making paper dolls so she can set them on fire.  "You will say to me then, 'Why then does he still find fault?  For who can resist his will?'  But who are you, a human being, to argue with God?" (vs. 19-20).  Paul makes it plain that God creates people and "hardens their hearts" (as he did with the Pharaoh of Exodus) or just hates them before they're born (as with Esau).  In response to the question of how this can be just, Paul simply appeals to God's brute power.   

In the Book of Job, when offered the chance to explain why he's having a friendly wager with Satan over how much unjust punishment Job can take without rejecting him, God offers no stunning revelations that reveal the mystery of his perfect goodness.  No, he just makes fun of Job for not being omnipotent, then goes on and on about how big and powerful he is, like the Mighty Oz.  And like the Mighty Oz, he has the same motive to keep us from peeking behind the curtain.

If Universe really was governed by such a super-bully2, then perhaps cowardice might incline us to side with him and cheer him on as he beats up the first-graders for their lunch money.  And, he has promised to share the booty, so maybe we'll wait 'till after we're dead before we find out if he exists or has been telling us the truth.  Or, maybe we'll have a peek behind that curtain. 
Quote from: Have_Mercy
John, that's, sad. I sincerely hope you can find a way to love people. I completely agree that you don't have to be a christian to love. That's why it's such a good way to communicate, everyone understands love to some degree. I have no notion of "proving" christianity. Proof applies to scientific disiplines, religion is a philosophy. So anyone who says they can "prove" God exists is a little bit silly. John, I'll be praying that you encounter someone who can show you pure, selfless, love, and that it ignites in you a passion to show other people that same love.

Since you've already agreed that you don't have to be Christian to love, what would you think if your wish comes true, but the person John meets is a Buddhist.  Like, say, Thich Nhat Hanh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Nhat_Hanh)?
Quote from: Have_Mercy
Krypt, you're absolutly right. When I started to really buckle down and figure out just exactly what I believed, still ongoing, I started reading the bible and taking all those good bits and putting them together. The more bits I had, the more I saw Jesus. The reason I trust God is because Jesus trusted him 100%, devoted his life to doing God's will, and he was a pretty darn nice guy.

Is that so (http://nobeliefs.com/jesus.htm)?  Of the two, Thich Nhat Hanh is by far the "nicer" guy. 


NOTES:

1. Later in the post, I question the validity of unrealistic moral dilemna scenarios.  However, as someone who professes t believe in a being with vast miraculous power, this is not an unrealistic scenario for you.  It is simply asking: if you had the power, what would you do?

2. Once we take the actual behavior of the Christian God as portrayed in the Bible into account and evaluate it honestly, is is no longer a mystery that there's evil in the world.  To the contrary, it's the existence of good that proves that the Biblical God doesn't exist.

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 11, 2011, 03:52:53 PM
Answers a crazy person (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3306.msg46479#msg46479)


Quote from: JesusisGod

Read what God says about Intellectual logic:

"As the Scriptures say,
   “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
      and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense." 1 Corinthians 1:19-22


God wants you to believe what He says, not use logic (human wisdom) in believing what He says.

A couple questions for you:

1)  Why?  What's in it for God if I believe what he says without question?  What does he need unthinking, obedient minions for?

2)  Why should I not believe what Allah says through His Prophet Mohammed without question instead?  Or the Instruction of Ptahotep?  In other words: why should your belief system, and only your belief system be accepted "just because?"1


NOTES:

1. I think it is probable that at this point you will quote a Biblical scripture as your answer, probably something describing how big and powerful your God is.  That's OK, but what I'm asking is: why should I accept your Scriptures uncritically and not someone else's?  Once I agree to stop thinking and believe "just because," I have no way of determining which belief system is true, if any.  Even if the belief in question is utterly absurd, I have to ignore the absurdity and "just believe."  Why should Christianity be the only belief system that gets a free pass here?

thread continues with other participants and kcrady for 9 pages.  Great fun!
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 18, 2011, 03:48:59 PM
God and Stars (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3306.msg46953#msg46953)

Quote from: JesusisGod
>snip<
[The] use of “evening and morning” in that order is significant. As each day’s work was accomplished during the “light,” there was a cessation of God’s activity during the “darkness.” Consequently, there was nothing to report between evening and morning.” The beginning of the next day’s activity began with the next period of light, after the “morning,” or better, “dawning.” The literal sense of the formula after each day’s work is: “Then there was dusk, then dawn, ending the first day.”

How is that possible?  Earth is round.  Since there would always be a face of Earth directed toward the "light," when exactly were these periods of darkness supposed to take place?

Parsimonious answer: In order for there to be "evening and morning" taking place for the whole Earth at the same time, it would have to be flat, so that the "light" could set below the horizon, i.e. below the edge of the Earth.

Quote from: JesusisGod
Gen 1:16-18

These stars were scattered in tremendous numbers throughout the infinite recesses of the heavens (note Isaiah 55:9). The light energy emanating from them would henceforth traverse space to “give light on the earth,” providing patterns and movements which would also enable man to keep records of time and history.

This only makes sense for stars observable by the naked eye.  In what sense could a quasar 10 billion light years away that can only be seen with the Hubble Space Telescope, or perhaps only via the radio waves or X-rays it emits possibly be seen as existing to "give light on the earth" "for times and seasons"?

Quote from: JesusisGod
In order to serve these purposes, however, light energy trails would need to be established already in place in space between each star and earth. Thus, men would have been able to see stars billions of light-years away at the very moment of their formation, in accordance with the principle of mature creation, or creation of apparent age.

So...a galaxy that's say, a billion light years away has a "light trail" that God created between it and the Earth a billion light-years long, so that we could see it.  Except that Earth is only somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 - 10,000 years old, and since the end of the world is nigh (a doctrine ubiquitous in the New Testament), it's a pretty safe bet that there will be no humans around on Earth a billion years from now to see light emitted from the actual star itself.  God is going to wipe everything out and make "a new heavens and a new Earth" well before then.

Which means: We will never see the galaxy itself, just a "light trail" God created to make Universe look a lot older than it really is.  Which means: everything in the night sky further than 6 - 10,000 light-years out is an illusion.  Why would God trick us like that?  Why would he put "light trails" of Cepheid variable stars fluctuating in brightness, when that light was never emitted by a star at all?  Why would he put a "light trail" showing us a supernova that never actually happened? 

Why would he put things like Hubble red-shift into these light trails?  Or images of galaxies colliding, or stars forming?  Cosmic background radiation?  What for?

Regarding the concept of "apparent age," that's understandable within limits.  Adam and Eve were supposedly created as adults or adolescents, rather than zygotes, so someone showing up in Eden would think the Universe was, say 20 years older than it was.

However, when you talk about stars and galaxies as much as 15 billion light-years away, you're talking multiple orders of magnitude worth of illusory "age" of Universe compared to the supposed "actual" age.  So much for "the heavens declare the glory of the Lord."  In your theory, the heavens are a lie.


Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 18, 2011, 03:52:31 PM
another post in that thread...
Why is Slavery Immoral? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3306.msg48243#msg48243)

OrigenII:

Why is slavery immoral?

To answer this, we must first provide a basis for morality.  Moral philosophy is a large subject, and I cannot attempt to explain everything in a short post.  Humans need "morality" because we do not have an automatically-known "proper set of behaviors" (e.g. instincts) like animals do.  If a cheetah fails to meet the requirements of cheetah survival, it will perish, but no one will call it a "bad" cheetah.  Unlike the cheetah, we humans must set out to discover what behaviors enhance our survival and flourishing, and what behaviors do not.  As in any other science, it is possible to derive generalized operating principles.  Humans are entities of a certain nature, so certain things will prove to be "good" for them, and certain things will prove to be "bad."  This set of generalized operating principles related to human behavior is what we call a "code of morality."

Just as in science, some discoveries are easier to make and validate than others.  It is much easier to discover and validate that Earth orbits the sun than it is to discover and validate whether "dark matter" exists, and what it is.  Likewise, some "moral issues" are easier to solve than others.   Since we are social animals, "morality" subsumes not only individual behavior in isolation, but how humans ought to behave toward each other in society.  Most human societies have discovered certain generalized operating principles by trial and error.  So we see such moral principles as "murder is wrong," "stealing is wrong" and so forth existing in every civilized human society.1

I am going to try to simplify the science of morality as much as possible, since this is a post and not a book.  Each of us can define what is "good" for our survival and flourishing fairly easily.  It is obvious that you would not want to be murdered, stolen from, beaten, raped, kidnapped, or enslaved.  You know all of these things would cause you suffering.  "Suffering" is physical (pain) or psychological (anguish) warning of damage or danger, i.e. threats to your survival and flourishing.  "Happiness" is an indicator that you are surviving and flourishing.2

"Morality" is simply the extension of what you know to be "good for you" to others.  There is a quote that sums it up well:3
Quote
A person will not hit themselves on the head with a hammer, because it hurts.

An enlightened being will not hit someone else on the head with a hammer, for the same reason.

I think it is fairly safe to guess that you would not want to be enslaved, or sold into marriage, or sold to a master who could then decide to use you for sex, or given as a spouse to another slave, who would then have to submit to perpetual servitude to keep you and whatever children you had, or have someone given to you as a spouse and be forced to submit to perpetual servitude in order to stay with any children you produced.  I think it is fairly safe to assume that you would not want to be an 11 year-old Midianite girl who sees your entire family murdered before her eyes, is inspected to prove virginity, then given to one of the men who killed your family and everyone else you know except other virgin girls your age (Numbers 31:17-18).

Through the simple expedient of extending your horizons of empathy from yourself only, to other people, it becomes easy to see how these things would be immoral.


The Prisoner Analogy

In our justice system, a person can be imprisoned and/or required to perform community service if they are conviced in a crime, in a court of law, after having had at least some rights in regard to defense against the charge.  Our justice system is far from perfect, but when it works, it assures that incarceration and/or community service are required only of those guilty of crimes.  This is not the same as buying a slave, or enslaving the aforementioned Midianite girls.  Furthermore, if new facts should come in proving the prisoner is innocent, they are released immediately.  There is no "master" with ownership rights involved.

They Were Slaves Anyway

You have said in regard to the purchase of foreign slaves, that this is acceptable because they were slaves anyway, and that (you believe--no evidence has been provided) the Hebrews would treat them better than they would have been treated otherwise.  Very well.  There are places in Africa, where slavery is still practiced to this day.  These places are also beset by famine, wars, disease, etc.  Do you think it would be moral to re-open the slave trade, so that people living in developed countries could buy these slaves, as long as they were treated just a little bit better than they would have been in Africa?  If not, why not?

"I'm Alright, Jack"

This is the fallacy that "those were barbaric times, so it was OK for God to establish barbaric laws" or "but we're in the New Covenant now, so genocide and slavery that were perfectly moral in the Bad Old Days are wrong now (until God gives the order)."

This is the very sort of "moral relativism" Christians often hold up as a bugaboo in relation to atheists.  Christians actually believe in this sort of moral relativism.  There is nothing that is good or bad in principle, as a moral absolute.  If there were, it would be wrong, even if God did it or commanded that it be done.  I have yet to encounter a Christian who can give an example of any atrocity that would be wrong, even for God.  We humans only have "morality" because we have a list of commands, things God tells us we "shalt not" do.  And if God tells us we "shall" do any of them (graven images: cherubim for the Tabernacle; Murder: large-scale genocides throughout the OT, various killings in the NT such as Ananias and Sappira;  Adultery/fornication: God fathering a son with a betrothed girl; etc.) then it becomes "immoral" (i.e. sinful) not to do them.

For Christians, morality = following orders.  Thus, if there's no order-giver, there's no orders, and we are all free to act just like God.  Ironically, this is one of the things about the idea of atheism that terrifies Christians the most.


NOTES:

1. Many societies apply these principles only to "us," i.e. to members of the society, not applying them to members of other societies or applying a much lower standard.

2. It is possible to sabotage the indicator system, for example, taking drugs to produce euphoria while your body wastes away.  The results of this speak for themselves, showing that the drugs are in fact a threat to your survival and flourishing.

3. I think this comes from Conversations With God, vol. 1, but I don't recall the page number offhand.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 18, 2011, 03:58:38 PM
Is Religion Addictive? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3337.msg47592#msg47592)

Hmmm...  Very interesting question.

I'm not a psychologist, but as I understand it, "addiction" also includes a physiological component.  The "substance" in question affects the body chemistry in such a way as to generate physical urges for a "fix."  I'm not sure religion necessarily qualifies in this regard.  I can see that some religious practices might be "addictive," e.g. Charismatic ecstasies/frenzies.  A Southern Baptist service, with a bunch of old people singing hymns (not hymens!  LOL!) written before 1900 can be very boring, such that one must attend it as a duty rather than a chance to get a buzz.

The things that do have physiological components (and could thus be potentially addictive in themselves) such as the aforementioned Charismatic holy-rolling, the "experience of the presence of God," etc. can be sought without "religion" per se (at least organized religion) as any mystic from any tradition can tell you.  A Persinger helmet may also be able to generate these 'spiritual' states using magnetic fields.

I do see the similarities between religion and addiction you're pointing out.  I'm just a bit cautious about applying the word "addiction," because, as has already been pointed out, it is a highly-abused word in our language today.  I think religion may well involve elements of addiction.  For example, many religions include a sense of high indignation against "sinners" and "infidels."  The emotion of strong indignation generates addictive brain chemicals.  Many people, from religious fundamentalists to political ideologues of the left, right, libertarian, Green, etc. could arguably qualify as "indignation addicts."  More information here: http://davidbrin.com/addiction.html[1]

I tend to think of religion more like a computer virus for the brain that has adapted itself superbly to the habitat of the human mind.  Just as a computer virus can take over the processing power, etc. of a computer and use it to propagate itself (e.g. sending copies of itself to everyone in the computer owner's address book, etc.), so religion (or perhaps the "God program") takes over the functions of the host's brain and deploys them to defending itself/attacking rival memes ("apologetics") and propagating itself ("spreading the Gospel").

Addiction(s) could well be part of its toolkit.  Various "mystical" states of consciousness (often being dream-like in nature) will be shaped to fit whatever religion-virus a person has.  An "apparition" for a devout Catholic would take the form of the Virgin Mary, for other Christians, perhaps Jesus...for a Hindu, one of the gods of their pantheon, for a believer in UFO's, a little grey alien with big black eyes.  "Apparitions" as well as things like "out of body experiences," a "sense of presence" (of an unseeing being), a feeling of "oneness with the All" etc. can be generated by stimulating the appropriate sections of the brain with electrodes.  All of these experiences, being quite malleable, will "shape to fit" the experiencer's belief system. 

Since religious memes have been with us, apparently since the time of Neandertal man, they may have co-evolved with the human brain, so that these "God circuits" evolved as religious-meme reinforcers.  It seems fairly obvious to me that a tribe or society that is willing to act in concert on short notice (i.e. when given orders), fight, kill, and die, will have a decisive military advantage over a tribe or society that will deliberate endlessly and still not act in concert, and that is reluctant to fight, kill, and die.  Religion makes that possible, so tribes of Believers would have outcompeted tribes of Critical Thinkers.1 

There is a limit to this, however, as tribes that are constantly in mystical woo-woo land would have a harder time dealing with reality, and would be easily out-thought by someone with a modicum of critical thinking.  Hence, the "Trickster" archetype in mythology.  Clever Ulysses handily outwitting the magical beings, sorceresses, and even gods and goddesses he encountered, the Serpent in the Bible, etc.  Result: Most humans are not too mystical/unthinkingly obedient (i.e. most are rational enough to "get by" most of the time), but we're not "too" rational either.  Basically, we ended up being part religious, part rational, amphibians of the mind.

Another factor to consider is that for most people, reality sucks (either stressful or boring).  Consider the multi-billion dollar fiction industry.  Movies, novels, computer games, role-playing games, etc. all designed to let us get away from "the real world" and live in an entertaining and interesting fiction for awhile.  Few people would want to rid themselves of all fiction.  The definition of a good movie/novel/game is that it can make you willing to suspend disbelief and accept it as real, for awhile.  For example, a good horror movie can actually scare people, even though moving images on a screen represent no actual threat.  Delusion!

What religion does, is offer an exciting or meaningful "story" that's running all the time.  Many Christians believe that they are right in the middle of the cosmic struggle between good and evil, that they "wage war against principalities and powers in heavenly places" when they pray, that by "saving a soul" they've made a difference that will endure for eternity.  Religion is a novel or movie that lets you be the hero, with victory assured because the Author is on your side--but the battle's still exciting anyway.  And unlike other novels, you don't reach an end in a few hours, after which you have to return to the workaday world.  Religion inhabits the workaday world itself, so that the job you hate becomes an opportunity to witness to your co-workers and make that eternal difference for the good. 

Then there's all the fantastic special effects--the grandiose miracles, glowing angels, etc.2  Even if the believer never experiences an angelic vision or sees a "miraculous healing," they can still believe in the back of their mind that these fascinating things are part of their world.  Perhaps they happened in the past (e.g. Biblical times), will again in the future ("the End Times"), or for specially-empowered sages somewhere far away ("a pastor I've heard of" "monks in Tibet who can walk through walls").

So when atheists like us come along, we're telling them all that cool stuff is just fake.  We're the alarm clock that rings when you're dreaming of having sex with Eva Longoria (for women, pick the heartthrob of your choice).  We're the dispensers of thrown cold water, telling them their job is just their job, and nothing they ever do will have cosmic significance in a universe that's billions of years old and utterly indifferent to them.  They will never see a miracle, or get to meet alien visitors, or spend eternity with Jesus Christ/72 virgins/Ascended Masters/whatever.  None of that nifty stuff is real, and the nifty stuff that is, like quasars and quarks, is stuff only a handful of people get to make a meaningful part of their lives (scientists). 

No wonder they sputter "But without God life has no meaning!  Why live?!"

I think this is probably the biggest "marketing problem" atheism has, and why believers (whether Christian, New Ager, or whatever) will enter "denial" in hopes of defeating the cold, wet facts we throw at them.  Is this "addiction?"  I don't know, but I'm inclined to resist the label because it leads to ad-hominens that probably tend to make atheism an even harder sell.

No one likes to be told: "You're delusional."  "You're an idiot.3"  "You're an addict."  I think atheists need to drop these patronizing monikers (even if through our eyes the Believer seems to be all three!) and face the fact that we're dealing with a phenomenon (religious memes) that has been evolving as long as we have, that has learned to exploit all the vulnerabilities of our psychology, and has gotten very good at it.  Perhaps this will help with our stress levels too.  If we understand that we're not up against a mere absurdity, perhaps we won't be as shocked and frustrated when it refuses to succumb to an elegant debunking.



NOTES:

1. This "relative evolutionary advantage" is arguably obsolete in an age of nuclear (and coming soon: nanotech, biotech, etc.) weapons.

2. For other belief systems, it's "alien spaceships," "celestial guardians," "nature spirits" "magick" "chakras"  "spirit energy" etc.   

3. Level of intelligence is largely irrelevant to religion.  Many extremely intelligent people have been and are religious.  The mind-virus of religion can simply harness a greater intellect to serve its ends just as a computer virus can take over a Cray supercomputer as easily as a home laptop.  It is not intelligence per se that matters, but the quality of one's mental firewalls and anti-virus software (critical thinking).   
 1. defunct website, sorry ~screwtape
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 18, 2011, 04:03:17 PM
Crady's Wager (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3182.msg47613#msg47613)

Quote from: Darius
Quote from: kcrady
[Darius, please stow the veiled threats. A threat is only as good as the entity making it. If your God wants to intimidate us into worshipping him by threatening to torture us after we die if we don't, he'd have a better shot at it if he came out of hiding and showed us all what a stupendous badass he is.

Hi kcrady,

Just saw your next post, not a veiled threat but a sincere question. I'm sure you have all already been told that Christians believe in Eternity in fellowship with Christ, and the lake of fire as the only final destinations.

The point I was making is if you don't know where you are going, why not?

I know where I am going, I'm making the point that anyone who does not know the creator cannot know where they are going because they have never been past death, and they don't know the only one who can tell them.

If I was here to preach hellfire & brimstone to the wicked sinners I could, but I sympathise with people who don't know God because I remember when I didn't and a lot of people I spoke to didn't make it clear, so I want to give a guide as how to seek God and meet with Him for real, for those who want to.

Darius

I do not know of any compelling evidence that "I" will be "going" anywhere after my death.  Your claim to know is not very helpful, since there are people who claim to know, with equal sincerity, that you are going to Hell because you did not accpet that Allah is one (He has no son), and Mohammed is His prophet.  Then there's the sects of Christianity that consider your views (whatever they are) to be heretical, whose members have equal conviction that they, not you (and certainly not I!) are the ones going to Heaven.  Therefore, the looming threat of "where will you go when you die?" cannot be an effective persuader because you're not the only one who gets to play that game.  Believers in other religions can, too.  Unless I have the option of believing in all of them, accepting ideas in hopes of evading the Everlasting Marshmallow Roast would be futile.

Furthermore, despite your assurance, you can't "know" where you're going either.  Why?  You see, on another thread (I think it was the "Book of Job" thread), I posted a wager with God.  It went something like this:

Dear God:

I know you're very proud of all these devout Christians who worship and praise you, and dedicate their lives to your service.  And why shouldn't they?  The retirement benefits can't be beat.  You're offering them eternal bliss.  Who wouldn't be willing to obey any orders, suffer any persecution, ignore any atrocity on your part, or happily accept martyrdom for an eternity of happiness?  No matter what happens to your followers here on Earth, I'm sure that after the first thousand years or so of perfect joy, that none of it could possibly matter in the least.

Of course they worship you!  Look what's in it for them!  But I bet you, that if they thought you might send them to Hell after they died...or even just let them die and rot, ceasing to exist with their last breath...if they thought they didn't have that payoff coming, they wouldn't worship you for a second!  See how long they praise you in Hell, I dare ya!

------

This is Crady's Wager, my antidote to Pascal's.  Now, one thing the Book of Job makes crystal clear ("allegory" or otherwise) is that God values his vanity more than any promises he's made to his followers.  This is obvious from the nature of the Old Covenant, which Job followed.  He obeyed God, and made the proper offerings to cover his sins, and God himself declared that he was "upright" in his original boast to Satan.  According to the Old Covenant, if God's people would obey his commands and make the necessary sin offerings, he would protect and bless them.  It is apparent that God was doing this originally, as Satan refers to God's protection of Job in his wager.

Satan's challenge was: I bet he'll curse you if you break your covenant with him and let me kick him around some!  The crucial teaching of the Book of Job is that God didn't say "Beat it, Satan!  I am a just God, and I keep my promises!"  Instead, God wanted to show off that he could garner unearned worship from Job, so he took the bet.

Which means: Now that my wager is published, and surely is within the purview of an omniscient deity, you have no way to know if he will take the bet or not.

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 18, 2011, 04:15:21 PM
You may have all seen the kcrady vs Fran debate here (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,12276.0.html)[1].  This was one of the first exchanges between them in the old forum.  Over time, nothing really changed. Fran continued to get one pants-down spanking after another.   

kcrady vs fran: the early years (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3321.msg47650#msg47650)


Quote from: Fran
Hello Robert... How are you?  I hope you and your loved ones had a Happy Thanksgiving.  And i'm not saying  that because I think the U.S. is the center of the Universe either, despite Star Stuff's uncalled for  remark.  If you are not from the U.S.... then please accept my comment as a gesture in the spirit it was  given... that is a spirit of good will with the assumption that all of us, no matter where we are born, have  something to be greatly thankful for.

You always start out sounding so much like a sweet little grandmother I keep expecting you to bake us cookies. :)  (No offense intended, that's just the voice I hear when I read your posts)

Quote from: Fran
I'm not sure I know of any well-respected Christian Thinker or philosopher or Apologist or Logician who  would say  that "let there be light" is a statement of the Big Bang Theory.
 

[wiki]Dr. Hugh Ross[/wiki].  I'm not sure if he's said "Let there be light = Big Bang" in so many words, but he does hold that the Genesis account is consistent with Big Bang theory. 
Quote from: Fran
I believe it can be reasonably argued that the eventual elimination of slavery from civilized nations had to  start somewhere in history.  And the Mosaic Laws are absolutely the earliest documents we have of a nation  or a large group of people who started the long and difficult process of stopping and reversing and  overcoming strongly held beliefs that had been established and accepted in the hearts and minds of people  who for many years were used to thinking a certain way.

In what way did the Mosaic Law do this?  It merely states the provisions under which slavery was to be practiced.  It specified that Jews could only purchase slaves from other nations.  It also specified rules that allowed Jews to sell themselves into indentured servitude for a temporary period (seven years, if I recall correctly) with a provision that an indentured servant could volunteer to remain a slave after participating in a ceremony in which the master nails his ear to his door with an awl.

Furthermore, the "God was being patient and tolerant" hypothesis fails in consideration of the other laws.  If God really wanted to ban slavery, he could have simply done so--the way he banned worship of other deities.  Polytheism was just as rampant in the world as slavery.  Yet, we see nothing like, "You can worship Asherah and Baal on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but the rest of the week thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and Saturday is Mine, period!"

In other words, when it came to God's own ego, jealousy, and power, he wasn't willing to wait around for a few thousand years for people to slowly make the change to monotheism.

Quote from: Fran
And when we finally come upon the time of Jesus, we see that the most advanced civilizations at the time,  the Romans and the Greeks, are still deeply steeped in slavery, whereas the people from whom the Mosaic Laws  came from, had no slaves.

Do you have a source for this?

Even if this is true, there's a simple reason for it: The Mosaic Law permitted Jews to own only Gentile slaves.  In the time of Jesus, Judea was a subject nation, so most Jews were in no position to own Gentiles.  This is not in any way establishing a principle of freedom from slavery.  It just says slavery is something we can do to "Them" but not "Us."

Quote from: Fran
There might have been some secular Jews who did not believe in a God who may  have had some slaves (but I'm not aware of any),

Those dirty rotten immoral atheists!!!!!
Quote from: Fran
but there certainly were no slaves among the devout Jews  who revered Moses and believed in the God of Abraham.

No slaves among the devout Jews?  Not a single one?  In the entire Roman world?  "Certainly?"  What is your proof?  If you read the book of Philemon in the New Testament, you can see that there were no barriers to a devout Christian owning a slave in New Testament times. 

Quote from: Fran
And then we see the process which began with the Mosaic Laws, the ripple effect among the Jewish people,  we  see that same process repeating itself first with the Apostles telling the gentiles among them to start  treating their slaves more humanely... then secondly among other gentiles in other countries when Christians  were forced to scatter all over the world thru persecution.

Was the process perfect?  NO.

Why not?  If God is perfect, and all-powerful, and wanted to abolish slavery, couldn't he have managed a perfect process?  Or at least one that worked as well as his war on Paganism?

Quote from: Fran
And as for your other statement:
"The abolition starts at the end of the 18th Century because people start to ignore the Mosaic laws and  instead work on the idea of government by consent (see the US Constitution)."

I find that interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, it was the U.S. Constitution which held that blacks were  only 2/3 human...

A couple things:  1) It wasn't 2/3, it was 3/5.  2) The slave-owners wanted the slaves to be counted as a whole person.  The abolitionists didn't want them counted at all. Counting them as 3/5 of a person was a compromise.  Why?

What they were being "counted" for was census data, on which apportionment of Congressional representatives was based.  Slave owners wanted slaves to be counted as whole persons, since that would increase the relative number of Congressional representatives for the slave states.  Slaves would have counted as voters, though they themselves could not vote.  Their masters would vote on their behalf.  Slaves, in effect, would magnify the political power of their masters.  This would have served as a powerful incentive to own more slaves.   

It was because of this that abolitionists in the founding era did not want slaves counted at all for the purposes of apportioning Congressional representatives.  The 3/5 Compromise was a deal made in order to get the Southern colonies to ratify the Constitution.  It was the most "abolitionist' deal politically possible at the time.  Far from dehumanizing slaves, it was the best effort to reduce the power of slave owners, and thus pave the way for eventual emancipation.
 
You are correct that Christians were on both sides of the slavery debate, as well as the Civil War that followed.  At the most, this tells us that Christianity as such was "neutral" on the issue.  However, there is still the fact that both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible sanction slavery.  In the New Testament, we read injunctions to slaves to serve their masters as if they were serving Christ, and to obey gladly rather than resentfully.  This is hardly a ringing anti-slavery declaration.  Again, the NT had no difficulty whatsoever condemning things like worship of other deities or requiring obedience to the Mosaic Law.  Slavery, apparently, was such an unimportant issue compared to God getting his worship and praise in the "right" way that it could wait another couple thousand years.

Edit: Fixed quotes - Graybeard
 1. if not, ZOMG! go read it!
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 20, 2011, 12:54:28 PM
The conversation begins here (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=07c4713796e076169c4a53ffe149e3ab&topic=3360.msg47952#msg47952) but kcrady gets rolling with this post…

Getting JesusisGod out of his “reality tunnel” (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=07c4713796e076169c4a53ffe149e3ab&topic=3360.msg48470#msg48470)

Quote from: JesusisGod
Quote from: kcrady
JiG:

As my reply above shows, your poem is a classic example of the Christian Epistemological1 Double Standard.  Obviously, you would never accept a belief in Zeus by reading my poem.  Yet, you seriously expect the same poem (with your God left where Zeus has been inserted) to motivate people to accept your religion.  Why should I give Christianity, and only Christianity this sort of "free pass?"
   

Becuase 1 faith is true, the other is a lie:

Wow.  You are so completely trapped in your own reality tunnel you (apparently) are honestly incapable of imagining that other people are not necessarily in it with you.  You accept Christianity a priori.  It's "true," period, and after accepting that, then you evaluate everything else in the light of that assumption.  OK, I can understand that.  I do my best to avoid doing something like that myself in regards to my own views, but I can understand it.

Here is what I would like you to try to understand: Other people do not always accept Christianity or any of its premises a priori like you do.  Some other people take the exact same approach as you, but apply it to a different faith.  If Mateen were here, he would explain to you with equally unshakeable a priori certainty that his faith (Islam) is true, and yours is a lie.  And I'm sure he could produce a sura (verse from the Koran) or two to prove it.

Before you go quoting some passage or other in the Bible that says "Christianity is true!" understand that I am not trying to advocate Islam.  What I am trying to get you to do is understand the concept people who do not think like you do.  Take the example of the "bystander."  The "bystander" is someone who does not accept Christianity as true a priori, and who also does not accept Islam as true a priori.

Let's say you, Mateen, and I are all sitting in a drawing room sipping the beverages of our choice and having a polite discussion.

You say, "Christianity is true!" and quote a verse from the Bible that says "Christianity is true!"

Mateen says, "Islam is true!" and quotes a verse from the Koran that says "Islam is true!"

You say, "Any religion but Christianity is a lie!" and quote a verse from the Bible that says "Any religion but Christianity is a lie!"

Mateen says "Any religion but Islam is a lie!" and quotes a verse from the Koran that says "Any religion but Islam is a lie!"

You say, "When you die and stand before the Lord on Judgment Day, then you'll know Christianity is true!  It'll be too late though..." and quote a verse from the Bible that says so.

Mateen says, "When you die and stand before Allah on Judgment Day, then you'll know Islam is true!  It'll be too late though..." and quotes a verse from the Koran that says so.

Now...

I know that you're absolutely certain that Christianity is true.  That's fine.  You don't need to quote a Bible verse that says Christianity is true.  I'm pretty sure we can assume that according to the Bible, biblical religion is the true one.  And since you don't accept the Koran as holy scripture, I am sure no verse Mateen could ever quote would persuade you to believe otherwise.

What I would like you to do is step outside of your mental box for a moment and imagine witnessing the dialogue above from my point of view.  Just pretend for a sec, OK?  From my point of view, neither the Bible nor the Koran is self-evidently, unquestionalby True, Period.  I can readily observe that to you, the Bible is self-evidently, unquestionably True, Period, and that for Mateen the Koran is self-evidently, unquestionably True, Period.

Both of you want me to assume that your preferred holy book os self-evidently, unquestionably True, Period.  Mateen wants me to use faith to believe in absurd things like a flying horse taking Mohammad to Heaven.  You want me to use faith to believe in Balaam's talking donkey.  Try to imagine my point of view.  If it helps, pretend I'm an alien from another planet who has never heard of either of your religions.  Don't worry now, it's just pretend.  Your God won't smite you, I promise.

Now: Why should I accept your beliefs a priori, instead of Mateen's?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 20, 2011, 12:59:19 PM
Deep xianity (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3383.msg48516#msg48516)

Quote from: michael807
I keep getting thrown for a loop here because much of the discussion about the existence or not of "God" seems to be tied to arguments about the bible. Are we discussing the existence of any  type of supreme being? Are we discussing the existence of the Christian god? Or are we discussing the accuracy of a book? I personally would like to see a more focused discussion on a specific topic.

The problem I have with some of the atheist posts I have been reading here is the same problem I have with Richard Dawkins. You posit your definition of God and then set about "proving" that the god in your definition cannot logically exist and therefore NO god can exist. This seems a little unfair to theists. Why not take THEIR definition of their god and disprove it?

The Christians have the opposite problem. They attack scientific theory and state, "because I prove your theory wrong, it means that MY god must exist." I have a lot more trouble with Christian arguments in general because they have a tendency to invoke the "god's will" excuse every time they get to a corner. ...and they have a tendency to use questionable logic and philosophical truisms in their arguments. But I most specifically have a problem with the fact that they think that if there is A god it must be the one they talk about in the bible.

I find both premises to be flawed. How about narrowing the topics and responses to more focused areas where it can be determined whether or not there is a basis for discussion or whether all parties are so committed to their personal views that there is no room for discussion?

It is true that most critiques here focus on the Abrahamic (JCI) God-concept.  There are a few reasons for that:

1. Most writers here (as far as I can tell) originate from nations dominated or affected by belief in the Abrahamic deity.  Since the primary reason for atheists to bother critiquing faith at all is because they perceive it as dangerous, it is natural that atheists would critique the varieties of faith they find most threatening (in this case, Christianity and Islam).  No one bothers to debunk Thor and Odin because we do not see our nations' domestic and foreign policy being determined by people who believe in them.

2. I have not yet seen any theist from a non-Abrahamic religion come to this forum and argue in favor of Ghanesh or Goddess.  If one did, there would probably be critiques of Ghanesh or Goddess given in response.  Or, if belief in the deity in question was deemed non-harmful, perhaps a chorus of tolerant shrugs.

3.  "Deep Christianity (http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.com/2006/03/267-where-does-apocalyptic-thinking.html)".  If you click on the link, you will find an article providing an excellent description of this concept.  It includes a picture of Shinto priests carrying a large image of a naked penis as part of a fertility rite.  This is a normal part of their Pagan religion.  However, if they were to attempt to celebrate this on the streets of New York, they would be arrested for obscenity, regardless of our "freedom of religion." 

Even many secular liberals would probably agree that an image of a naked penis "is" obscene, and should not be displayed in public.  Why?  Well...it just is...isn't it?  Not to the Shinto priests.  Not to the Pagan cultures all around the globe who celebrate comparable fertility rites.  It is obscene, in Christian thought. Secular liberals who would reject it as obscene would do so without even knowing that they're acting from Christian premises--they're not Christians, after all.  But Christianity is so ingrained into our thinking in the West that many of its premises remain even in the minds of those who reject Christiaity.

Another example: When was the las time you heard someone ask: "Do you believe in the Gods?" or even "Do you believe in Goddess?"  No, it's always "Do you believe in God?"  The Abrahamic deity is so much a part of people's mental furniture in the West that the concept of the divine is automatically assumed to refer to a monotheistic, nominally male Deity that corresponds closely to the Abrahamic one.  Thus, when atheists set out to critique the concept of "God," they will often automatically aim their barbs at what is unconsciously assumed to be "the" God-concept.

The entire concept of "Intelligent Design" is built on cashing in on this "Deep Christianity."  If you read their literature, they are always trying to prove the existence of "a" Designer.  They claim to be non-sectarian and non-religious becuase they don't have to quote the Bible.  They're betting that we'll unconsciously accept that, if the Universe and life were designed, then the designing was done by a single omnimax (possessing omni- attributes) Deity we can learn more about in church.  The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" was invented precisely to respond to this unspoken assumption.  If Universe was designed, we could as easily say it was designed by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and obviously no one would do that.  But notice:  There is only one Flying Spaghetti Monster, and it's a male.  "Have you been touched by His Noodly Appendage?"  Even here, the deep assumption of the Abrahamic god's attributes prevails. 

Every now and then I like to invoke other god-concepts like the ancient Egyptian pantheon precisely to reveal and challenge this "Deep Christianity."
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 20, 2011, 01:04:53 PM
From Not only is god Imaginary (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3381.msg48544#msg48544)

I have proposed elsewhere on this forum that Gods actually exist--just not in the sense their followers imagine they do.

As I understand it, Multiple Personality Disorder is accepted as a legitimate phenomenon in psychology.  These personas can be of different genders, different ages, and (as I recall) in some cases health problems of a persona can show up psychosomatically when that persona is "in charge" of the body.  A Method Actor can experience this by "becoming" the character to an extent that they actuall feel the emotions they're trying to portray.  Likewise, better authors will sometimes report that a character they're writing "surprised" them by taking the story in a direction different than the author's original intention by making a different choice.

From this, it is apparent that the "hardware" of the human brain can "run" more than one "person." 

A Thought Experiment:

Imagine that one of these "alternate personas" figured out how to transmit itself to other brains.  Such an entity would gain several of the attributes of a "god" or "goddess."  It would be immortal, so long as at least one host still lived.  It could transmit itself through succeeding generations of hosts, surviving its original host by centuries or millennia.  It would be a disembodied consciousness, not confined to any particular body.  "Invisible stuff that thinks" is about as close to the definition of "spirit" (in the "supernatural" sense, not metaphorical) as anyone I know has gotten.  This entity would not be confined to a single location.  A community of hosts in Rome could "run" it, and so could a community of hosts in Texas.  It would thus have a functional "omnipresence" compatible with Bible passages like "Wherever two or three of you are gathered in my name, there I am in your midst."  It would also "indwell" its hosts, as many religions claim for their deities.  It would also have considerable power, as it could get a community of hosts to act in concert to build temples for it, or launch wars on its behalf.

How would such a persona transmit itself?  It would have to have a way to "compress" itself, in similar fashion to a .zip file compressing computer data, so that it could transmit itself in a resonable period of time.  It would have to be able to maintain fidelity of transmission so that it would not "die" and be replaced by another persona in the process.

There are several ways to do this.  Oral tradition is one.  Artistic portrayal ("idols," bas reliefs, paintings, etc.) is another.  Oral myths can convey basic personality traits.  A statue can convey a considerable amount of information, provided the community understands the meanings of the symbols it contains.  For example, the statue of Justice includes such concepts as impartiality (the blindfold) the importance of objective measurement (the scales, held high) and that force ought to be restrained, but used when necessary (the sword, held loosely and in a passive position).  We see this sort of symbolism in representations of gods and goddesses all the time.  Mars with his sword and shield, Zeus with his kingly beard and thunderbolt, nubile Venus emerging naked and radiant from the sea. 

Using archetypes ("warrior" "seductive woman" "mother" "king") also helps compact personality information into one word or a few.  The word "mother" generally conjures the image of someone tenderly nurturing babies and children, so a "Mother Goddess" automatically possesses these nurturing attributes, and her power is seen in refreshing streams and growing crops.  The "King of the Gods" rules in much the same way as earthly kings, so it is easy to understand that he will brook no opposition, that he will want to be praised for his might, and so forth. 

Another way was to appeal to nature.  The "trickster" god Coyote is represented by a clever animal that waits just outside the camp, always ready to snatch a piece of drying meat if it is not well-guarded.  An angry god can be linked to storms.  A reigning king-god can be linked to a soaring falcon, or the sun--or both (Horus).

However, the amount of data such representations can convey is fairly limited.  The result is deities who are "cardboard characters."  Mars is a fierce warrior, but we know little to nothing of what he's like in peacetime, or how he would treat a dog.  Since polytheism permits deities to "specialize," they often fail to develop highly nuanced character.  Still, we do see them acting in very human ways.

In order to facilitate transmission, a persona must persuade its host, and would-be hosts that it is important, enough to believe in and share with others.  Since it needs to dominate the hosts in order to do this, it must persuade the host that it is the superior persona, that the host ought to obey it.  It does this by becoming a god/-dess, a being that is superior by virtue of its disembodied state, a "spirit being" with powers beyond mortal ken.  Linking itself to nature serves both to compress its personality-data and provide it with a realm in which its power reigns supreme.  In order to deal with the natural forces or principles (e.g. "fertility") it is associated with, humans must deal with the god/-dess that controls them.  And so, religion is born. 

Then, one day, one of these personas decided to monopolize all the brain-space for himself instead of sharing it with a pantheon.  He declared himself to be the One True God, and set out to systematically destroy belief in the others in any way he could.  First, he monopolized all of the "divine functions" and attributes to himself.  Any function he could not absorb (e.g. female sexuality) was demeaned and suppressed.  This monopolization was made possible by the innovation of literary god-storage.  The god was no longer limited in the amount of personality-data he could contain by what could easily be held in human memory as oral tales or symbolic correspondances.

A god transmitted via literature would not be limited to simple mythic tales.  An entire biography could be constructed.  Commands could be written down, teachings and declarations, and a history of the god's interaction with his hosts.  This enabled the creation of a more well-rounded persona.  This god can be both hateful and loving, forgiving and ruthless, a King and a Warrior and a Father and a gentle Lover/Husband.

In this sense, contradictions in the Bible ("God is love" vs. "God is a man of war" or "For the LORD thy God is a Jealous God, his name is Jealous") are not flaws, but advantages.  Consider a man we'll call "Joe."  At a party, people might say that Joe "is" shy and soft-spoken.  But catch him in the middle of an Internet flame-war, and he "is" rude and boorish.  Watch him frag others in his favorite first-person shooter, and he "is" aggressive and murderous.  See him spank his child, and he "is" angry and violent.  See him with his wife and he "is" gentle and romantic.

In like manner, the literary Abrahamic God has a full-orbed personality that can respond to virtually any situation.  His hosts know exactly what will make him mad and what will make him loving.  Naturally, these correspond with things that advantage him.  Skepticism about him?  Mad.  Worshipping other deities?  Mad.  Worshipping him devoutly?  Loving.  Transmitting him to new hosts? ("spreading the Gospel")  Loving.

The increased flexibility open to a literary god also gives it more adaptability.  The hosts of the Christian god can be either devoutly pacifist to the point of going eagerly to martyrdom, or ferociously warlike to the point of going eagerly to martyrdom, depending on which aspect of the Biblical god's personality they're "running" at the time.  With multiple hosts, the god can try both approaches at once.  Where his hosts are overwhelmingly outmatched by a rival god's hosts, pacifism can be effective in either avoiding persecution or making the persecutors feel guilty and persuaded of the moral superiority of their victims.  When his hosts are in the stronger position, they can switch to violence as a strategy and eradicate the other deities' hosts.  We see this happening in Christianity (pacifist, until Emperor Theodosius handed them the Roman Legions, after which Christianity became a persecutor religion) and Judaism (warlike, until they were decisively and thorougly conquered by the Romans in 66 and 120 AD, after which they became pacifist--until Hitler demonstrated the flaws of that strategy, so now we have a warlike Judaism in Israel and more peaceful variants elsewhere).

Since the god is being "run" on multiple brains, it has a certain "parallel processing" ability that lets it deal with circumstances more effectively than a single human could.  Confronted with danger, a human has a choice of "fight or flight."  A god can do both at the same time, with increased chances of survival.  Since each person's "copy" of the God-persona is going to be a little different, this gives the god the same kind of adaptability a species of organisms has.  Variations that are better suited to conditions will prevail over those less suited, so that as a whole the god adapts himself to the situation in which he finds himself.  Yet, with the Sacred Text being carefully preserved as Holy Writ, old adaptations that aren't currently useful can emerge again when circumstances warrant.

This concept makes sense out of otherwise inexplicable behaviors of the Biblical deity.
Such things make no sense as personality attributes of an omnimax, or even a vastly superior being who is self-sufficient and does not need us to survive.  They do make sense if we really are the "sheep of his flock" the "fruit of his vine," the "crops of his field"--that is, his source of nourishment and life.   


a good argument ensues
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 20, 2011, 01:09:21 PM
Witches in the bible (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3449.msg49983#msg49983)

As Stardust pointed out, the biblical deity is not opposed to magick/witchcraft per se, only other people's magick/witchcraft.  The central issue is not magickal practices, "good" magick vs. "harmful" magick, etc., rather it is the self-described jealousy of the biblical deity.
We can find numerous examples of magickal practices that are accepted when applied by an "official" spokesperson for God, that are rejected when employed by someone doing the same thing in the name of another deity.

For example, many practices of "diviination" (seeking knowledge from spiritual sources) are based on the principle of asking a deity to guide a random or semi-random process in order to produce a synchronicity in the output.  Examples include Tarot cards, casting runes, reading pidgeon entrails, etc.  In the OT, the Levitical priests would seek divine guidance by casting sacred lots known as the urim and thummim. 

Another form of divination is "scrying," in which someone looks into a shiny surface such as fluid in a cup or bowl, a crystal ball, a darkened mirror, etc..  In Genesis, we see the following:
Quote
When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to his steward, "Go, follow after the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you returned evil for good?  Why have you stolen my silver cup?  Is it not from this that my lord drinks?  Does he not indeed use it for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.'"

--Gen. 44:4-5

In Moses' wizards' duel with the Pharaoh's court magicians, we see that they were able to do several of the same spells, but Moses' are said to be more powerful.  Interestingly, the story of a wizard parting waters occurs in an Egyptian account from the reign of the Pharaoh Senefru (father to Khufu, who had the Great Pyramid built), about a thousand years before the story of Moses.  Senefru was out boating with some of his harem girls when one of them dropped her necklace into the water.  Senefru called a magician to part the waters so the necklace could be retrieved.  This is not as grand and cinematic as the Bible story, and the purpose is rather trivial by comparison.  Nonetheless, it is interesting that the notion of a wizard parting water was part of a tale that was already ancient by the time Moses allegedly lived.

In the New Testament, we hear that certain enchanted items, such as cloths that had been touched by the Apostles, had power to heal.  James 5:14 calls on sick Christians to go to the elders of the church to be anoined with oil in a healing ritual.  Jesus also performed healing rituals, in one case healing a blind man's eyes by spitting in the dirt, fashioning mud, and rubbing this in the man's eyes, thus ritually re-enacting the creation story in which man was formed from dust.

Regarding "harmful" magick, we see several examples of biblical prophets doing things like calling fire down from the sky and invoking other supernatural harm on their enemies.  In a number of psalms, the Psalmist invokes divine wrath against enemies.  In the New Testament, we see Peter striking Ananias and Sapphira dead for lying about donations to the church.

Modern Christianity has no shortage of magick.  Catholicism is rife with it.  In the ritual of transubstantiation, the Eucharist and "wine" (grape juice) are, according to Catholic belief, transformed into the actual body and blood of Christ (in "essence").  Various relics are believed to be imbued with magickal power to heal or perform other miracles.  I've seen footage of a ritual (I don't recall which church or what time of year it is performed) in which the dried blood of a saint, held in a glass vessel embedded in a large golden cross is made to become fluid again.

In Charismatic Protestantism, holy "anointing oil" is used for healing purposes, as well as to anoint doorposts as a repellant for evil spirits.  I have also seen Benny Hinn (allegedly) heal people by slapping them with his enchanted coat (based, apparently, on the NT accounts of healing cloths).

What the biblical God really opposes is not magick or witchcraft, but dealing in any way with other deities or powers.  He is just as opposed to prayer under those circumstances.  Naturally this jealousy served the interests of his clergy, who were able to corner the market on magickal services by having other practicioners killed. 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 20, 2011, 01:11:54 PM
Wwgha framework for discussion (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3432.msg50068#msg50068)

Quote from: Brandon
My actual definition of religion is closest to that of Paul Tillich, which is one of "Ultimate Concern."

This means that if your ultimate concern is being right, then that is your "religion." Or if your ultimate concern is loving others, that is your "religion." This almost begins to answer the question of purpose.

My ultimate concern is closely tied to what Jesus teaches in scripture. The main teaching that I try to learn about and show is that of love. It is insanely difficult, but I strive to do so.

I noticed the premise of your argument is that of disagreement. Why can't Christians agree? My answer is simply because we are all unique people and have differing viewpoints to acheive a similar goal. That goal, however, is not of converting the world. Jesus did not say "Go and convert" He said "Go and make disciples." This means discuss and talk. Live as a community, love one another. Does this match up with some of the actions of others? No, it does not. It pains me to see this.

My question to you would be, does religion have to be agreed upon by all believers to be valid?

To the extent that believers in religion claim to have knowledge of objective reality (usually they claim to know a "higher" or "more fundamental," and thus more important reality than the commonplace existence we're all familiar with), their "observations" (revelations in holy books, mystical experiences, etc.) ought to agree.  Presumably, they're all experiencing the same aspect of reality.  If their accounts disagree, then the quality of their observations cannot be trusted.  In the same way, if an astronomer claims to have discovered a certain type of quasar in a certain location in the sky, and other astronomers' reports do not agree with hers, we would have to distrust her reports.  If all of the astronomers disagreed as to what they were seeing, we would have to distrust the ability of their instruments to accurately resolve whatever they were looking at.  The "canals of Mars" are an example of this in a real historical scenario.

This "need for agreement" rises with the specificity of the claims.  Based on what you've said so far, and from the source you cited (Tillich), you make only the broadest of claims: "Religion" is "ultimate concern," "God" is something like a "Ground of Being," and we are called to love each other and live cooperatively together.  It's fairly easy to get agreement on that.  A Wiccan could accept it as easily as a Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu.  They would have no problem dealing with your acceptance of Jesus as the exemplar you follow, while they chose to follow Buddha, Maher Baba, Adyashanti, or Silver Ravenwolf.  It might even be possible to follow Ken Wilber's "integral" approach and cross-map all the things religions and mystical teachers hold in common in order to come up with a "unified theory of spiritual experience." 

I do not have much of a difficulty with this sort of "religion."  The only question here is, "Is what they're experiencing something that's really 'out there'/'in here'/everywhere (i.e. some sort of 'spiritual reality'), or is it something that's only going on in the brain?  While I think the preponderance of evidence favors the "it's all in the brain" model, there is, in my opinion, some evidence for psi and other as-yet poorly understood phenomena such as Sheldrake's "morphogenetic fields" that should be carefully considered.

However, there are those in each religion that claim theirs is "the" One True Faith, and that those who do not accept it and follow its teachings will burn in Hell or spend ten thousand incarnations as a cockroach or an Untouchable.  Since these people are making much more specific claims, and express a higher degree of certainty in their beliefs and importance (you get punished very severely if you don't agree), these people have a correspondingly higher burden of proof, and the fact that they disagree with each other, even within the "same" religion, makes their claims to possession of the spiritual "inside track" less credible to me.

In short, it is one thing to claim that there is a "Ground of Being" that could be called "God," "Goddess," "Universal Spirit," "Higgs Field," or "Zero Point Quantum Entanglement Manifold" with equal validity.  It is another to claim that there is one true God who created Universe 6-10,000 years ago, who incarnated as Jesus Christ (and only Jesus Christ), who walked among us, worked miracles, died for our sins and was resurrected and ascended into heaven, and that anyone who does not believe this and accept the Bible as God's inerrant Word is condemned to eternal fiery torment.  In the case of the latter, the fact that people who agree on those premises also disagree on some very important issues, such as predestination of salvation (Calvinism) vs. human free will (Arminianism), etc. falsifies their claim to having absolute, perfect knowledge of spiritual matters.

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 20, 2011, 01:16:03 PM
God is not an elephant (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3446.msg49804#msg49804)

Begins here (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3446.msg49697#msg49697), but kcrady enters here…

Quote from: el
God is infinite and cannot be grasped by a human mind.

The universe and all its components are finite and cannot grasp God.

Those that are of God recognize God. Those that are of the universe recognize the universe.

Those who are of God know God and do not use the mind (finite) to know the infinite (God) Those who are of the universe attempt to explain and understand God (infinite) with a mind (finite) Which is of course impossible. You cannot understand the infinite (God) with the finite (mind)

All logic is finite, and so can only exist relative to finite things. God is infinite and so rules do not apply to God. God does not operate according to mental rules of human manufacture. Simply because your finite mind tells you God does not exist does not mean that your conclusion is so. It means that your finite mind spit out a finite conclusion relative to what you want to see. The Mind exists to support your ego. The mind will always spit out what ever conclusion you need to make yourself right. This cuts both ways

I believe. Not because I thought about it and weighed the evidence. No matter how much you think about something, the result of your thought is finite. I believe specifically because I was not thinking, God infinite called and I was listening. In other words, I experienced direct, obvious, personal and in defiance of all logic the obviousness of God. There is not enough logic existent in the world to overcome my personal direct and awakening experience with God (that continues with every breath). The reason for that is simple. Belief in God is not about logic, it is about faith.  Faith cannot be defeated with logic.

Your claim is self-refuting.  You start out by claiming that God is unknowable, and then claim to know a whole bunch of stuff about him.  But let's set that aside for a moment (others have raised that point, and I'm feeling charitable :) )

You assert that your belief in God comes as the result of a direct experience of him.  Apparently, given your premises, such an experience is the only reasonable way to accept the idea that God exists.  So, is there a way you know of, such as a meditation technique, yogic position, entheogen we could take, etc. whereby we could act to have this experience ourselves? 

If yes, then we have the option of conducting the experiment ourselves and (possibly) validating the existence of God by direct perception.

If no (i.e. you believe God must initiate the experience), then we have no say in the matter of whether we believe in God or not, and only those special people God likes enough to give the experience get to have any reason to accept that he exists.

Either way, "faith" is irrelevant to the question of belief in God.  Perhaps, having had the experience of God, you can have "faith" (i.e. confidence) in him (his trustworthiness, etc.) derived from your ongoing mystical union in the same way a person boarding an airplane has confidence in Bournelli's Law, the structural integrity of the aircraft, etc.  Note that this is not the same thing as believing in an invisible, intangible, inherently undetectable aircraft.

Furthermore, if your concept of "God" includes the idea of him sending unbelievers to Hell or otherwise punishing us because he did not choose to give us the mystic union you have, I can only hope you'll enjoy being trapped for eternity with a being who can be so spectacularly unjust...

At any rate, given your premises, you are wasting your time here.  If we had your gnosis experience we would (according to your premises) be as certain of God's existence as you are, and you would not need to tell us about it.  If we have not had your gnosis experience, all of our reasons for not believing in your God are still valid for us.  Describing your experience can have no effect, since God has apparently not chosen us, or has not chosen us yet.  The idea that God can and will just "beam" himself into people via direct revelatory experience rules out the need for things like faith, scriptures, priesthoods, churches, missionaries, etc..  This is why what was to become the Catholic Church hated Gnosticism so much.

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: Graybeard on May 21, 2011, 03:19:07 PM
Just caught up with the kcrady saga: there's some real brilliance in style and content there.

Do we know anything about him? He seems to be professor of philosophy level with theology thrown in for good measure.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 23, 2011, 08:58:47 PM
Just caught up with the kcrady saga: there's some real brilliance in style and content there.

Do we know anything about him? He seems to be professor of philosophy level with theology thrown in for good measure.

I thought I recall something about a law degree, but I have not seen that in the 20 or so pages of posts I have so far waded through.  I think there is also a background[1] in Egyptology or ancient Egyptian history. 
 1. formal or a serious hobby
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:08:55 AM
The next three posts are all in the same thread, post numbers 36, 49 and 62.  I would normally just link the second two, but I think they are worthy of being posted separately.  But please do read the whole conversation.

The folly of miracles (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3540.msg51842#msg51842)

OK, Linefo.  Forget about amputees.  How 'bout just replicating Jesus' works?  Or even Moses.'  I'm sure parting the Red Sea would be unambiguous enough.  Or showing a few Christians in Africa how to do the loaves and fishes trick.

Instead of "real" miracles like that, what we get here is ambiguous stuff like "I really had to get across town in a hurry, so I prayed to God, and lo and behold, a cab came around the corner right as I left my house!"  Or in your case, "I applied for a grant and prayed, and I got the grant!  Halleluiah!"   

We do get some "Well, my friend had cancer, and we prayed for her, and she went into remission (or the chemotherapy worked)!  Halleluiah!"  Of course, when the friend dies, then "God wanted to take her home."  If you hadn't got your grant, you would have said, "God didn't want me to do that research."  No matter what happens, it's "proof" of God.  Yes, No, or Wait.  That works as well for a jug of milk as it does for God.

I used to live in a little town in Idaho called Orofino.  In '96, there was a big flood.  There were two fundamentalist type churches located near the river.  One of them barely avoided getting washed away.  Next Sunday, they praised God on their church sign for miraculoulsy sparing them.  The other church did get washed away.  Next Sunday, their church sign said Satan sent the flood because they were Doing It Right and he had to try to stop them.

The whole thing is a "rigged game" Christians set up so they can declare their god the winner no matter what happens.  Now, Ayn Rand once said, "Never bother to examine a folly, only ask what it accomplishes."

What does this sort of folly accomplish?  What does your claim that God can't/won't heal amputees because he only "works with existing matter" (the stump, made of matter and containing DNA instructions for the lost limb somehow doesn't count) accomplish?

What this, and all of the other Christian rationalizations of this type achieves is to explain why Universe looks exactly like it would if a miracle-working deity doesn't exist.

We both agree that grandiose, Biblical-style miracles don't happen.   The difference is, for your worldview, this requires quite a bit of explanation.  For ours, it's just an ombvious corollary.

Now, you'll say such miracles do exist "long ago and far away"--in Bible stories, and in other stories one can google, but which have no more substantiation than Elvis sightings and flying saucer abductions. The fascinating thing about miracles is that they never happen when anybody's looking.  If somebody fed a football stadium crowd out of a lunchbox, or unleashed a plague of frogs on New York, it would be photographed by a thousand cell phone cameras. 

Of course, something like that will never happen, because God only works miracles under circumstances where the only "documentation" that exists is oral anecdotes--just like flying saucers only abduct people out in the middle of nowhere and never off of city streets.  Why?

Because that's the only way Universe can look exactly like it would if these things weren't real.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:12:39 AM
Who is responsible for starving children? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3540.msg52098#msg52098)

Quote from: linefo
As for the starving children in Africa, I doubt any of you know even one starving child in Africa so how can you make claims about to whom and how often they pray and their success rates? 
Unfortunately, post-colonialism-effects and civil wars and such between dictators and rebels etc are a source of many of the starving populations in Africa - all this, man made.  Yet people are quick to blame God when He doesn't immediately come down and solve all the problems that we caused and continue to cause.  Even the Israelites in the Bible who had visual, everyday experience of God's power still often failed to repent, believe and honor God.  Yet everyone is quick to say that if God just came and fed all the starving children they would all of a sudden change their ways and believe.  I sincerely doubt that. 

Also, feeding all the starving children would mean stopping the causes of their lack of food and that would mean subverting the free will of those causing the wars and such.  What I'm trying to say is that it's not as simple as magic up some sacks of rice all over the place, meanwhile the warfare and strife still go on.

Let's not ignore our own responsibility to those starving children.  God also expects us to do our part.  There's a passage that says:

James 2:14 - "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

Let me get this straight: We humans, having limited knowledge, power, and resources, have a moral responsibility to help starving children in Africa.  God, having unlimited knowledge, power, and resources, doesn't.  Un-huh.  How is it that Christians can claim that God is the epitome of moral perfection while at the same time holding him to a lower ethical standard than "sinful" humans?  I also like the part where God lets kids starve, and be maimed and killed so as not to disrupt the free will of the tyrants and thugs doing the maiming and killing.  While at the same time claiming to be the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" to whom "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess."  Hint: any ruler who cannot at the very least maintain order within the territory he governs is not a ruler at all.  Some "King."  And how, exactly, are we mere mortals supposed to stop the strife and killing without violating the free will of the killers?!

But again, notice what this "explanation" of yours serves to accomplish: to explain why Universe looks exactly the way it would if there wasn't an all-loving, all-powerful God who could rain down manna on Africa, smite the evildoers with fire from the sky, etc.

Atheist hypothesis: The only way starvation in Africa will be ended, or amputees get limbs, or any other problem on Earth get solved, is if we humans work to solve it.  There's nobody else to do it.

Christian hypothesis: There is an all-powerful, perfectly loving God who could solve all of these problems in an instant as easy as you snapping your fingers.  But here's why he doesn't do anything of the sort: [laundry list of "reasons" here].  The only way starvation in Africa will be ended, or amputees get limbs, or any other problem on Earth get solved, is if we humans work to solve it.  There's nobody else to do it.   Well, there is, but He won't.

Bottom line: For all practical intents and purposes there is no God.  You can believe he's there if you like, but you still live in a reality that acts exactly like it would if there were no God, no miracles, etc.  If you want something done, you've got to do it yourself.  Just like us.  The "God theory" has no content, since there is nothing that distinguishes a theist universe from an atheist one, once you provide all the reasons why God prefers to act like he doesn't exist. 

Why bother with the "God" hypothesis?  Even apart from Occam's Razor, why subject yourself to the need for constant mental gymnastics?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:14:08 AM
The godless universe (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3540.msg52182#msg52182)

Let me try to make this simple:

There are two hypotheses.

1. Universe is a haunted house.  There is at least one entity called "God" that has unlimited power, that cares about us, answers prayers from those who love him.  He is aware of every sparrow that falls, and values a human much more than many sparrows.  He can, and sometimes (at least in the past) does overturn the limits of nature to do extraordinary and wonderful things we call "miracles."  Like creating several thousand pounds of fish and bread out of nothing.

2. Universe is not a haunted house.  What we see is what we get.  "Miracles" do not happen.  If we want bread and fish, we gotta get it ourselves.

At first glance, we would expect each of these hypotheses to make very different predictions as to what we will actually experience in Universe.  Instead, what we get is the believers in Hypothesis 1 going to great lengths to explain why Universe looks so much like what Hypothesis 2 would predict.  We would expect that something as big and blatant as an omnipotent, omnipresent miralcle-working being determined to rule over all areas of our lives ought to have a few detectable effects.  He would be a wooly mammoth in the living room.

But no!  He's an invisible, intangible woolly mammoth who never has any noticeable effects whatsoever!  In fact, there's no way to even tell he's there at all!  That's why the living room looks so much like it doesn't have a gigantic wooly mammoth standing right in the middle of it.  But he's there!  Really!  You just gotta have faith!

Why bother with all the ledgerdemain and mental Matrix-dodging?  That's the beauty of parsimony.  We don't have to try to believe in something and then explain why its existence is simultaneously the most important truth of all, and also indistinguishable from its non-existence.  We can just accept reality as it is.  You have to play pretend, and work to convince yourself that the almighty creator of the cosmos is in the business of distributing research grants to you, while remaining indifferent to far greater needs because those needs can't be met without actual miracles that would actually be incompatible with the atheist Universe in which you live.

You snatch at obvious coincidences for "proof" of miracles because you know no unambiguous miracles will ever happen.  You live in the exact same Cosmos of natural regularities as we do.  The only difference between us is, you claim to believe those regularities can be suspended at any time--just that they never are, for whatever reason.  "Miracles" are a Lucy's Football that's never there when you actually try to "kick" it (i.e. apply practically your belief in them).

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:19:07 AM
Playing god (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3590.msg52159#msg52159)

What is it that makes Christians so viscerally afraid of atheism?  Why are they so quick to cry that atheism must inherently lead to savagery?

Because, Christians do not beleive in morality at all.  To Christians, the only reason not to run amok raping and pillaging is because the King says you can't, and he will punish you severely for it after you die.  No King = no constraints on brutality.  For Christians then, there is no morality, only legality.  They hold this theory consistently, as is apparent whenever anyone questions the morality of God.

"God is not limited to human moral understanding."
"God is our Creator.  He is entitled to kill humans.  It is his sovereign right as our Creator."
"Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?"

Whenever atheists bring up any of the moral atrocities in the Bible, Christians routinely exempt God from any moral standard whatsoever.  This is only a natural consequence of their concept of "morality."  God has no "higher power" to tell him what to do.  No one will punish him, and no one can, because he has all the power.  Relative to God, atheism is true.  For him, there is no God.  Having no law he is subject to, God is free to commit any atrocity whatsoever, or command his servants to do it in his name.  God can do no wrong because for him, there is no morality.  As long as its him doing it, any act is "holy" or "righteous."

Think about it.

What do we mean when we use the phrase "playing God?"

If a medical researcher discovers a cure for some horrific illness, we do not say she is "playing God."

If an aid worker lives in primitive conditions and works tirelessly to help poor people in developing countries, we do not say he is "playing God."

If a soldier throws himself on a hand grenade to save his buddies, we do not say he is "playing God."

No, we reserve that phrase only for frightening or evil acts done by a person who feels entitled to lord over other people's lives or over nature in some malevolent way, with no moral or legal accountability.  When Dr. Mengele stood at the gates of Auschwitz arbitrarily deciding who would die, and who would be subjected to his inhuman experiments, that is what we mean by "playing God."

Why is this so?  Because the Bible clearly portrays God acting in exactly that manner.  See the ninth chapter of Romans.  It's spelled out quite clearly.  Why are Christians so afraid of atheism?

Because they're afraid we will act like God.   
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:23:33 AM
Historical Exodus (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3746.msg56388#msg56388)

Quote from: james51
Quote from: OkiMike
. Any problems that exist on this planet are the results of natural humans living in a natural world.
EXACTLY ! That is what I said in my message. Maybe you do not blame God but the writers of the bible did. An earthquake causes plagues and deaths and the people say "God did it." Really? What about this kind of evidence?

Please go here and read this.

http://varnam.org/blog/archives/2006/08/exodus_decoded_1.php 

Velikovsky made this argument back in the '50's.  One big problem I see with this theory is that Ahmose was triumphant over the Hyksos, ending their occupation of Egypt, while the Exodus story claims the Hebrews were escaping slavery in Egypt, rather than scampering away after getting their rear ends handed to them.  One side or the other is lying.  Given the vast archaeological evidence for the 18th Dynasty in Egypt, and the absolute absence of evidence for the "Exodus" (no one has found a single horseshoe or metal chariot fitting from that drowned Egyptian army, or any evidence of 6 million people tromping around Sinai for 40 years), it's gotta be the Hebrew side. 

Furthermore, attempting to explain the Exodus plagues in by using the volcanic eruption at Santorini requires a volcano erupting in time to some guy announcing "plagues" hundreds of miles away.  If you grant that, then "God" not only slaugtered uncounted innocent Egyptians (who could not be held responsible for the decisions of their king, especially when "God" hardened the heart of Pharaoh so he couldn't do as Moses wanted), he also killed vast numbers of innocent Minoans and inhabitants of Santorini, just so he could show off in Egypt.  Never mind that the reign of Ahmose was the beginning of Egypt's golden age, the 18th Dynasty.  This is the exact opposite of an Egypt in ruins with her Pharaoh and army drowned.  If the Hyksos theory were true, then the Hyksos would have taken advantage of the chaos and destruction to return to Egypt and re-establish their rule.  To the contrary, Egyptian history clearly shows that Pharaoh Ahmose and his successors were there to tell the Hyksos to "get out, and stay out!" 

What's the point of erecting this Byzantine theory to have a "natural explanation" for the Exodus, when it would take a supernatural agency to make sure the timing worked so perfectly (would have been embarrassing if the water came back in time to drown the Israelites/Hyksos before the Pharaoh led his charioteers in).  The Exodus story also portrays the Egyptian court magicians being able to duplicate several of Moses' feats.  They, too would have apparently been expert seismologists, knowing when the Santorini volcano would send another plume of ash or whatever, I guess.

Also, I'd like to see a real Egyptologist source for the notion that only firstborn sons would sleep on low beds in houses while everyone else slept on roofs.  It would also be interesting to know how putting lamb's blood on door-posts would keep poison gas from seeping into a house. 

"Tell me again how sheep's bladders may be employed in the prevention of earthquakes..."

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:25:26 AM
Miracles  (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3875.msg58489#msg58489)

One of the strange things to me about religion--and not just Christianity--is that its advocates bother with the concept of "miracles" at all.  The Bible is chock full of stories of gradiose, special-effects miracles, then there's all those promises Jesus made about the power of prayer and faith.  But, if you ever try to put any of that into practice (like a person on another thread here who has an autistic, mentally-disabled daughter, who could certainly benefit from some real live Supernatural Powertm), then there's all sorts of reasons why it either can't work or why you shouldn't even expect or want miracles.

"You shouldn't test God."  "You don't have enough faith."  "God doesn't work miracles like that these days, it's a different dispensation."  Etc., etc., etc..

In Hinduism, there's all sorts of legends about powerful miracle-working gurus.  I once tried to read Pramahansa Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Guru.  He starts explaining his story, how he began his spiritual quest, and so on.  It's almost like he couldn't throw a rock without hitting some guru who can materialize food, and do other astounding feats.  Now, India is a country plagued with starvation and poverty.  If these powers exist and can be taught, why not spread 'em around enough so that everybody has enough to eat?  Then India's spiritual power would surely demonstrate the validity of Hinduism and the transcendance of Spirit over Matter.

But the book teaches that the really enlightened sages don't work miracles because miracle-working is a sign of spiritual immaturity.  IOW, Hinduism promises all these wonderful powers, but if you actually want to learn how to have the powers and put them to practical use, you're not enlightened.

It's like Lucy's football.  "Here, Charlie Brown, kick the football!"  But as soon as Good Ol' Charlie Brown tries, she yanks it away.  It's the same thing with religion and miracles. 

"Look!  Look!  Our religion makes it possible for people to work all these wonderful miracles!"

"That's great!  There's this crippled child who lives next door.  He loves baseball, but can never play, only watch.  I'd love to make it possible for him to play baseball.  Plus his disease is degenerative, and it'll kill him in a few years.  But if I join your religion, and pray or meditate alot, I can learn how to do miracles, then I can help him, right?"

"Um...well, you see, there's all these reasons why we either can't or shouldn't even want to work miracles.  To begin with..."

So, for anyone out there who believes in a miraculous religion, why even have a concept of "miracles" at all?  Wouldn't it save you a lot of embarrassing backpedaling to just have a non-miraculous religion in the first place?  James51's religion seems to be non-miraculous--except when it isn't.  So it's possible to have religion without miracles, at least sometimes.  In fact, when it really comes down to it, all of you do have religion without miracles.  If you want to feed children in Africa, you donate to Christian Children's Fund.  You don't expect anyone to go around multiplying loaves and fishes.  If you want to heal people, you set up an Our Lady of Whatever General Hospital, you don't send someone around healing people Jesus-style.  If you need to get into the attic, you use a stepladder, not an Indian Rope Trick.

We can all agree that for all practical purposes, here and now, in our real lives, miracles don't happen.  So why not just come right out and say that there are no miracles?  Why try to claim that there are, then come up with all these reasons why it "only looks like there aren't?"  Isn't that a bit like advertizing a car that comes with a vertical take-off feature and warp drive, but you should never, ever press the VTO and Warp Drive buttons?  You all believe in your religions despite the fact that there are no miracles.  You even go so far as to say that it would be wrong to believe in a religion because of miracles, or for God to work miracles (because it would "violate free will").  So why not just discard the whole "miracle" concept altogether?  Why not just promote your religion based on whatever benefits it actually has?

Please explain, I really want to know.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:33:58 AM
Everything… (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3985.msg59055#msg59055)

Quote from: Red McWilliams
Here's something I've been kicking around.  I'd love to hear what you folks think, especially the theists.  I think the best, perhaps only way to have an honest discussion about a topic is with a shared understanding of the context of the discussion and a healthy appetite to learn about another viewpoint.  My example: many of the atheists on this forum, myself included, used to be christians, and therefore have a very good knowledge base from which to debate the merits of christianity (I'm sorry if I'm excluding other religions, I just haven't heard much from you).  The christians here appear to have been christians for quite some time and know virtually nothing about atheism, and I don't mean the apathetic atheism that is born out of teenage angst.  That statement is derived from two observations.  One, my own thought processes when I was a christian, and two, reading the posts made by christians in this fourm.

So, can we really have productive conversations when one side has no concept of the other side's position?  I know I'm making broad generalizations here, but I really want to know if the christians out there have ever stopped to honestly consider the atheist position.

Based on my experience as a "stock" Christian, and dealing with "stock" Christians, there is a perfectly good reason they can't take a peek through an atheist's reality tunnel: they believe atheists are going to Hell.  If a perfectly just God is going to condemn atheists to eternal torture in Hell, then obviously the atheist cannot be sincerely and honestly mistaken.  They have to be atheists for some immoral reason, such as an unjustified grudge against God, or because they want to be able to have extramarital sex without feeling guilty.  Otherwise, a perfectly just God wouldn't punish them for it.  To consider atheism (or any other religion) as something someone could honestly believe is really true is to reject the belief that God is just in punishing people for being atheist or belieiving in another religion.

Now, regarding James and UnkleE...

James is an atheist--sometimes.  While he's telling us he doesn't believe in God as an entity, but considers "him" an abstract concept like "truth and righteousness" or "cooperation," he is an atheist.  For the last 40-70,000 years or so, humans have understood "gods" to be disembodied consciousnesses of some sort.  So, when James is denying this, he's an atheist, even if he redefines "god" to mean "truth and righteousness" or "pizza."  When he switches positions, and tells us about a "God" that talks to him, controls the weather, arranges cab rides, and so forth, then he's a theist again.  Someday James, Erwin Schrodinger will let you out of that box he's got you in. :)

UnkleE has a more nuanced position than "stock" Christianity, in which (as I understand him) God does not punish unbelief, he merely withholds reward, on the premise that the unbeliever doesn't want the reward (eternity in Heaven with God) anyway.  This does contradict all the stuff about weeping and gnashing of teeth, "their worm dieth not," etc., but I like UnkleE's position better. :)  Since UnkleE's Biblegod 2.0 is not as vicious and vindictive as the Biblegod 1.0 of historic Christianity, he is able to engage atheism in a much more thoughtful way than someone who has to believe it "must" be based on evil ulterior motives.

In answer to UnkleE's question about why atheists do not acknowledge the force of Christian arguments, I don't think it's because we're obscurantists.  It's because the best arugments Christians use don't necessarily substantiate belief in the Christian God.  For example, take the sense of awe and wonder that any sensitive person feels when looking at the night sky.  "The heavens declare the glory of God," the Bible tells us, "so that they [unbelievers] are without excuse."  But they don't declare the glory of the Christian, and only the Christian, god.  If anything, the self-obsessed, jealous, tyrannical megalomaniac portrayed as "God" in the Bible isn't glorious enough to serve as an explanation for the wonders of Universe.  Surely a Being or Beings capable of creating hundreds of millions of galaxies, with hundreds of millions of stars and planets apiece, could come up with something better to do than extorting the servile worship and praise of tiny, helpless little creatures.

Until Darwin's discovery of natural selection, Paley's "watchmaker" argument was an incredibly strong argument for some form of Divine Intelligence.  What else could it be?  Even now, we could still look at the grand sweep of cosmic history, of "hydrogen----->human" evolution as something incredibly majestic, Divine even.  Not necessarily the work of some big King in the Sky with a pair of drafter's calipers in his hand, perhaps something more like a bottom-up "Divine Intelligence" instead of top-down.  The "God" of Spinoza, Einstein, and Buckminster Fuller arising to Self-awareness in us  and whatever other intelligences look skyward to see different suns ("we are the Cosmos becoming aware of itself").  It wouldn't be too hard to say that evolution is "Intelligent Design," running in slow motion. 

This conception of "God" fits what we know of Universe far better than the Biblegod, who described Earth as stationary with the sun and other "heavenly" bodies going around it, classified bats as birds, and didn't know about the stars, galaxies, etc. that don't "give light upon the Earth" "for times and seasons."  In other words, even if we accept the Design Argument, the First Cause Argument, the Argument from Necessity, and so on, none of these necessarily validate the existence of the Biblegod.

While it is impossible to prove a universal negative ("there is no god or goddess of any sort anywhere in all existence") it is possible to falsify positive claims.  The Bible contains a clearly-stated model of cosmic origins, with literally-stated geneologies starting with Adam that place the Beginning within recent times, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue.  This claim has been falsified.

The Bible declares that "For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).  But the heavens aren't higher than the Earth!  Earth is in the heavens, and there is just as much "heaven" beneath your feet as there is "up above."  "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest?" (Isaiah 66:1).  But Earth makes a peculiar foostool, being round, and hurtling through space with three distinct kinds of motion (rotation, precession, orbital revolution).  Nor have see seen any reason to equate "the heavens" with any sort of throne.  Or to consider monarchy as a cosmological principle.  In the Book of Joshua, the villain--er, hero of that work prologs a day by commanding the Sun--not the Earth--to 'stand still' so he can finish a slaughter.  The Bible's descriptions of cosmology have been falsified.

"Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon [all] four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth" (Leviticus 11:21).

Surely, if Biblegod had created several hundred thousand species of insects, he'd know how many legs they have!  Many of the Bible's statements relating to biology have been falsified.  Yes, there are some that are correct.  Bronze-age pastoralists weren't complete idiots.  Stopped clock.  Twice a day.

Regarding the veracity of the Gospels, the very best that Christian scholars can hope to establish is that the canonical Gospels represent an accurate record of the oral tradition that existed several decades after the events they purport to describe.  That's it.  Decades-old hearsay evidence, for the single most important "fact" upon which Christianity is supposed to be founded--the life works, and resurrection of Jesus.  Not one single scrap of evidence, from the many thousands of literate people who would have been able to witness the literally earth-shaking events the Gospels describe.  No contemporary Jewish or Roman attempts to "spin" the events to bolster their own religious and/or political claims, no contemporary evidence at all that anyone noticed Jesus feeding over ten thousand people with miraculously-produced loaves and fishes (including the people themselves, who don't seem to notice even in the Gospels!), and all of the other miracles, so many that "the world could not contain the books" needed to record them.  Nobody noticed!  Nobody reacted!

That's like saying that a flying saucer landed in Central Park, and an alien ambassador spent three years traveling New England giving speaking engagements, demonstrating alien super-technology, then held a week-long teach-in at the United Nations before a huge crowd, and it never made the news.  If the Raelians were to come out and say that all this happened in 1948-1951, based on accounts they gathered from a handful of anonymous, alleged eyewitnesses, would you believe them?  Do you believe the "eyewitnesses" who claim to have seen spaceship wreckage and alien bodies from the flying saucer crash at Roswell?  Why not?  Several of those "eyewitnesses" are still alive.       

In the Book of Exodus, the Biblegod lays waste to Egypt and kills her Pharaoh with his army while depriving them of their slave workforce.  Except that the Egyptians themselves never noticed!  No mass graves of firstborn children, no accounts of the great magicians' duel, no evidence of plagues or famine, of a terrified, leaderless nation, of written pleas to the gods or spells (the Egyptians did these things as part of their religious practice, and we have found non-Exodus-related examples) made in desperate hopes of repulsing the Plagues.  Not one written lament over the destruction, or the death of the children, or the collapse of the economy, or the loss of Pharaoh and his army.  This is self-evident in the numerous Evangelical/Fundamentalist theories as to when the Exodus was supposed to take place.  It is as if historians had several different theories as to when Alexander conquered the Persian Empire, while all the evidence shows the Persian Empire surviving unaffected for another 2,000 years after "Alexander's conquest."

The historical claims of the Bible have been falsified.

Then there are the various claims in the New Testament, regarding the power of faith and prayer, the ability and willingness of Jesus to appear to people, and so on, all of which can be falsified at will (ref. the videos on the "Godisimaginary.com" website).  So, yes, maybe there is a "god" out there somewhere, especially if you get to re-define the word at will.  But claims of the existence of the Biblegod have been falsified.

So, the reason we don't acknowledge "strong arguments" for the Biblegod isn't because we're bullheaded.  It's because, as far as we can tell, there aren't any.  UnkleE, if you or anyone else has a "strong argument" for the Biblegod, please present it.  If it is as strong as you suggest, I will acknowledge that.  However, to count as an argument for the Biblegod, it has to be an argument for the Biblegod.  Philosophical arguments about a "Necessary Being" or "Prime Mover" raised by non-Biblical folk such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle don't count because they were Pagans, and clearly weren't arguing for the existence of the Biblegod.  Even if accurate, these arguments can at best only establish the existence of some sort of God.  To say that they validate the Biblegod (or Odin, or Quetzelcoatl, or...) is a non-sequitor.  The fact that the Biblegod's "inspired" prophets and revelators did not discover or receive these arguments is, in my opinion, a good argument that they should not be employed to support belief in the Biblegod. 

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:35:57 AM
God is love (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4020.msg59060#msg59060)

Quote
Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things

--1 Cor. 13:4-7

The Greek word translated "charity" here is agape, the same word used for "love" in the verse "God is love."  This is about as close to a stated definition of "love" as can be found in the New Testament.  Therefore, we ought to be able to do a simple word subsitution:

God suffereth long, [and] is kind; God envieth not; God vaunteth not [God]self, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

The Bible clearly proclaims that its deity is jealous, going so far as to portraying him stating that his name is Jealous (i.e. a total identification of the Biblegod with jealousy).  He is not kind (ask the Canaanites, or anyone suffering for eternity in Hellfire), and the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation is filled with portrayals of God "vaunting himself," being "puffed up," "behaving unseemly," "seeking his own," being "easily provoked," "thinking evil," and "rejoicing in iniquity." 

If the Biblegod matched the Biblical definition of "love," then the human sacrifice of Jesus would be unnecessary.  The sacrifice of Jesus is only necessary to appease the Biblegod's vicious wrath, and it only works for those who are willing to grovel before him and become his slaves.  That isn't "love," no matter how you define it.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:39:58 AM
The many merits of Satan (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4028.msg59468#msg59468)

"Satan" is not a personal name, it's a title, meaning "Adversary" or "Accuser."  It's a judicial term referring to a prosecuting attorney, or perhaps more precisely, a "Grand Inquisitor."  In the OT, "Satan" is portrayed as a loyal officer of Yahweh's court.  If you get out a Strong's Concordance and look up "Satan," you will see that in every instance, he's working for or with Yahweh. 

For example, the Psalmist invokes a lawsuit against his enemy in Yahweh's court:
Quote
Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.
When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.

--Psalm 109:6-7

We are shown such a court case in the book of Zechariah:
Quote
And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: [is] not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

--Zechcariah 3:1-2

The word for "resist" is satan, as a verb.  That is, Satan is attempting to prosecute the high priest in Yahweh's court.  Yahweh "rebukes" Satan.  The word for "rebuke" is not especially stern, i.e. not a curse against a mortal enemy.  It means "chide," basically, "You're out of order, Counselor!"

The Book of Job, of course, is famous for the friendly wager between Satan and Yahweh on the degree of Job's loyalty. 

Then there's this interesting pair of verses:
Quote
And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

---1 Chronicles 21:1


And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say,Go number Israel and Judah

--2 Samuel 24:1

In these two parallel passages, Yahweh and Satan are treated as interchangeable.  This only makes sense if they're part of the same administration, in the same way that a news report announcing that "the Bush Administration said X" and another account saying "White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said X" do not contradict each other, because Tony Snow speaks with President Bush's sanction.  The result of this little escapade is the deaths of 70,000 innocent people.

In the New Testament, things get a little murkier.  We still see "Satan" acting as Yahweh's prosecutor.  For example, Jesus warns Peter that Satan has desired to "sift" him (i.e. test his loyalty).  In the Gospel of John, Satan waits at the Last Supper for Jesus to give the signal for him (Satan) to possess Judas Iscariot.  It should be noted that all OT demon possessions also take place at the expressed command of Yahweh.

However, there are other instances in the NT where "Satan" is portrayed as an enemy of Yahweh, especially in the Book of Revelation.

This picture is further complicated by the appearance of the Serpent in Eden.  He is not identified with "Satan" in that account, or anywhere in the Bible until the Book of Revelation.  The "Prince of Tyre" in Ezekiel 28 seems to be identified with the Serpent, as he is described being "in Eden."  This character is described as resplendent in beauty and wisdom, and his city is described at length as a model of peace and prosperity.  Yahweh does charge that his commerce "filled him with violence," but not a single example of such violence is offered, in a polemic ranging over two chapters.  Instead, we are treated to a panoply of violent threats from Yahweh himself.  In the Garden of Eden, the Serpent is portrayed as nonviolent, never threatening humans as Yahweh does.  Likewise, the only descriptions offered of the Prince of Tyre describe a majestic, wise being who, as spiritual governing principle of the Phoenician civilization (explorers, traders, inventors of the alphabet, a culture light-years ahead of Yahweh's Israelite "Taleban") provides prosperity and safety for his people.

The difference between this being and "Satan" is that Yahweh appears to truly hate him.  He curses him in the Garden of Eden narrative and in Ezekiel 28.  He does not curse "Satan" or threaten him with punishment anywhere in the OT, and examples of their cooperation in the NT imply this relaitonship continued.

However, since "Satan" is a title not a name, there is no reason to assume at the outset that only one being can be given this title.  Just as "Pharaoh" is used in the Bible for different Egyptian kings, the title "Satan" could be applied to Yahweh's Grand Inquisitor in his role as Accuser of humanity before Yahweh's court, and to the Serpent/Prince of Tyre in his role as Accuser of Yahweh before humanity.

Regarding the conflict between "Satan" (i.e. the Serpent/Prince of Tyre) and Yahweh, the Serpent can easily pwn Yahweh--simply by  not playing along.  Through his spokesman John of Patmos, Yahweh predicted that the Apocalypse would come after the Serpent/Dragon established a brutal global theocratic dictatorship led by "the Antichrist."  Then, seven years of "Tribulation" would follow during which Yahweh lays waste to Earth, and finally Jesus returns to establish his own global theocratic dictatorship.

However, as portrayed in the Garden of Eden narrative and Ezekiel 28, the Serpent would have no interest in establishing a global theocratic dictatorship.  All he has to do to keep Yahweh bottled up forever is not do so.  Yahweh, surrounded as he is by toadying yes-beings (see Revelation chapter 4), appears to have decided to show off his power by "predicting the future."  Being so self-absorbed he is incapable of imagining motives other than his own, he assumed his enemy must want to establish a theocratic dictatorship, then mass his forces against Yahweh's kingdom in hopes of taking over.

However, the Serpent's motive in the Garden of Eden seems to be to uplift humans rather than enslave them.  In which case, his goal would be to prevent the formation of a global theocratic dictatorship, and nudge us along in the direction of reason, freedom, and scientific/technological progress.  Just as Yawheh was caught flat-footed in Eden, he appears to have been caught flat-footed at "Armageddon" as well.  All of his vaunted prophecies about "coming soon" have been falsified.  Meanwhile Humanity has mad significant technological, scientific, and moral progress.  With accelerating developments in computer science, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, genetics, anti-aging research, alternative energy, etc., humanity has the option of achieving the transcendence the Serpent tried to give our mythic ancestors in the Garden of Eden.   

Now, Yahweh's followers (in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) seem to be almost trying to force Armageddon on us, seeking a grand apocalyptic conflict between each other, since they can't summon the Serpent to the battlefield. 

We're in a race then, between these two archetypal principles.  As Buckminster Fuller put it, we have the option of Utopia or Oblivion, and "it will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment."


Conversation continues…
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:43:28 AM
The root of Pascal’s Wager (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3010.msg63566#msg63566)

Quote from: john
If you put a man in a room with a million bottles and tell him that 999,999 contain deadly poison and one contains a potion of immortality, what possible choice could he make other than not to drink?

Excellent argument!  +1! 

When I was a Christian, i used to believe that people who had never heard of the Gospel, Jesus, etc.. were given a mulligan of sorts.  I don't recall the exact Scriptural validation (I think there's a verse where Jesus says "to whom much is given, much is expected"), but I held to the idea that God judged people in accordance with their knowledge.  Those that "did their best" on the basis of "natural revelation" (looking at the natural world and deciding there must be some Divine Agency and seeking sincerely to know and serve it) would be "saved by extension," as it were.

Some sort of argument along these lines is necessary in order to spare God from the charge of spectacular injustice.  After all, if Ubu never had a chance to learn about Jesus' sacrifice on his part, never had a chance to repent and be baptized, etc., how could God condemn him, especially if he (God) said that he is "not willing that any should perish"?  The only alternative to an "Ubu Clause" is the Calvinistic scheme of predestination, which makes a mockery of the very concept of justice.

However, as you point out, even getting "knowledge of Christianity" is not enough.  There is no such thing as "Christianity," only "Christianities."  Which one is the right one?  The outside observer has no way to know.  Is Brad's Christianity "the" right one, or is it James51's (except there are at least two versions of James' depending on which mode he's in...)?  Is it Falwell's, or Pope Benedict's?  The JWs'?  The Mormons?  The Manicheans?  The Valentinians?  The Ebionites?  Etc., etc..

One is hard-pressed to read any book of the "New Testament" and not find warnings about "false teachers."  These warnings are not about infidels or Pagans.  They are about "heretical" Christians.  "Wolves in sheep's clothing" who "infiltrate" the Church (or were there to begin with) and seek to steal away the flock. 

And the New Testament doesn't even represent the whole of ancient Christian "Scripture."  There are over 30 different Gospels we know of, and who knows how many were lost and/or suppressed by the Catholic Church?  Nor was the process of "canonization" a simple, self-evident choice.  It was a centuries-long process that is not entirely over.  Eastern Orthodox "Bibles" differ from Protestant and Catholic "Bibles" (i.e. they have different books included), and the latter two differ from each other as a result of (if I recall correctly) the Council of Trent, in which the Catholic Church added some books Protestants consider apocryphical.

Protestants, despite rejecting the authority of the Catholic Church are using "Bibles" created by Catholic bishops under the auspices of the tyrannical, and at least half-Pagan Emperor Constantine.  Why, exactly, should anyone trust this particular anthology of "Christian" holy scriptures?  Especially since this "canon" won out primarily because the Catholic Church imposed it by force after Emperor Theodosius made the Roman Church the official religion of the Empire!

All of this adds up to: None of us has any way to know what True Christianitytm is!  We're all in Ubu's boat.  Even us atheists.  We're atheists precisely because, as far as we can tell, there is no True Religion.  Perhaps we're wrong, but just like Ubu, we have no way to know which Christianity is the true one.  And that's not even counting the other Abrahamic religions, with their sects!  Furthermore, since there is no way to know which Christianity is the true one, there's no way to know that any of them is.  That means we have to take into account Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, the various flavors of Neo-Paganism, the New Age, the Course in Miracles/Conversations With God version, and so forth.

Therefore, if God is perfectly just (and I have yet to see any believer here suggest otherwise), He, She, It or They will have to grant us all the "Ubu Clause," and have enough empathy to understand why we atheists choose not tol pick from the million bottles hoping to find the one with the elixir of life.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:47:33 AM
God vs no god; or Why god is a comic book hero (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4242.msg63990#msg63990)

Quote from: Stardust
I have no doubt that medical science will discover how to grow new, complete and fully functional limbs for amputees. I have no doubt that this "ability" is encoded in our genes, or within our cells. Think on this from an evolutionary standpoint. Other lower life forms, like starfish, have the ability. Worms can form two complete worms from one being cut in half. We probably have these same genes within ourselves--at least to an extent. Our skin regenerates spontaneously. Our ribs and liver have the ability to regenerate spontaneously under certain circumstances. Collateral circulation in the heart spontaneously grows in some people who have arteries that are beginning to block. So I have absolutely NO DOUBT that science will discover how to cause new arms and legs to grow.

Here is the miracle of God. This "ability" is encoded within us already. This ability may be "turned on" or utiliized at anytime. But even knowing this and believeing this as I do, and even believing in God as I do, I would still find it impossible at this time that I could grow a new leg if I lost one for some reason. This is our mindset, and it is not easily changed no matter how much "faith" we have in the entity of God Himself. Our "faith" is that God will provide spiritual strength to live without the limb, or that prosthetics are the answers to our prayers, and so this is what we receive.

Science will discover how make this happen. Science will steal the thunder. Yet, in reality, science will not have "created" anything, or "discover" anything or any ability that isn't already within ourselves and put into place by God "since the beginning". It will be great, and wonderful, and beautiful when science figures out how to do it....but I, personally, will not be so arrogant to think that science has done anything that God has not first put the ability to be done into place. It may not necessarilly be the "best" in many situations. Some only find their true strength and true depth of being though losing a limb and "moving on". As sad a thing as it is to lose a limb, many who I have spoken to, after a time, would not change it because of the "person they have become because of their ordeal".

What, exactly, is the difference between this hypothesis and ours, that "God" is imaginary?  Do you see what you're doing here?  You're explaining why things look exactly like they would if there was no omnipotent, miracle-working God!  Of course, you claim that "God" created everything and gave us the ability to restore amputated limbs--after 6,000 to 70,000+ years (depending on whether you think Genesis is Real History or God just "used evolution" to create everything) of human existence without any such hope.

But then, what sort of "God" are you talking about here?  One that allegedly does big show-offy Cecil B. Demille stuff like parting seas and raising people from the dead, or is "God" more like a placeholder for "Natural selection, the self-organizing properties of matter, and the synergetic, emergent properties of the sum of all known and unknown generalized operating principles of Universe?"  The Yoans follow the latter hypothesis, and your explanation above (apart from a little more anthropomorphism than they'd use) fits their ideas perfectly.

There are big differences between traditional Christianity and a naturalist spirituality like Yoism.  As in any other case where you have radically different models of the same reality or aspect of reality, there ought to be noticeable differences in what the rival models predict so we can compare them with reality and see which one fits better.  If both models make identical predictions, then we simply choose the most parsimonious of the two.  In relation to healing amputees, you argue above that there is no discernable difference between the hypothesis "There is an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, miracle-working, personal God Who directly intervenes in our lives" and the hypothesis "There is no God like that (Yoism, Deism, atheism, Buddhism), so it's up to us to figure out how to heal amputees."

Since scientists have pretty good ideas about how everything in Universe developed back to about the first three seconds after the Big Bang, there are not many "gaps" left for an omnimax "God" to occupy.  Perhaps whatever happened in those first three seconds properly belongs to the realm of magic and miracle, but so far as I can tell, everything afterward is identical in your model and ours, the Buddhists, the Yoans', etc.  The difference is that yours proposes an entity bigger and more complex than all of Universe put together, which has no discernable effects whatsoever, at least after those first three seconds.   And even that may be shaved down once CERN gets that new supercollider online.

Consider what it actually means for "God" to be undetectable, even in principle.  We are currently able to detect neutrinos--particles which are so "ghostly" they can shoot through the entire Earth at light speed as if it isn't even here.  Yet, we have been able to detect them with extremely sensitive detectors built in deep mine shafts (to block out everything but neutrinos).  Neutrinos cannot and do not interact with matter in spectacular ways like parting oceans and making it possible for a man to walk on water or teleport into a room.  Unlike neutrinos, "God" is supposed to be literally everywhere!  He is described as the cosmic equivalent of a woolly mammoth in the living room, and yet we have no way to tell if he even exists.

The principle of parsimony (Occam's Razor) indicates that we ought to discard the "God" hypothesis as superfluous.  It answers no questions the naturalistic hypothesis doesn't, and there are no phenomena whose existence requires it.  "God," being omnipresent, omniscient, etc., hence larger and more complex than all of Universe represents a great deal of extra baggage for any theory to carry, the very epitome of anti-parsimony.

Analogy:  Let's consider the hypothesis that comic-book superheroes and really exist.


Skeptic: Why doesn't Superman ever save anybody?  We never see him show up to stop a plane crash or hold up a collapsing bridge until everyone can get off.

Believer: Because if he showed up to save us all the time, we'd never learn how to save ourselves!  We wouldn't bother to improve airplane safety and reliability, or build better bridges.

S: Well, why don't we ever see him just flying around and stuff?

B: >rolls eyes< He has a secret identity, you know!  He works for a newspaper, disquised as a mild-mannered reporter.  He flies coach on airliners like the rest of us.  If we ever saw him flying around, we'd start expecting him to rescue us.

S: OK, but what about the X-Men?  Surely we'd spot one of them once in awhile...

B: >sigh< Come on!  You know how much anti-Mutant prejudice there'd be if people knew they existed!  That's why we never see proof of psychic powers either.  As soon as somebody demonstrates real PK or telepathy, they're whisked off to Professor Xavier's School for the Gifted so they can learn how to develop their powers in safety.  James Randi works for Professor X, debunking the fake ones and sending the real ones to join the X-Men.  Where do you think he got his million dollar prize money from? 

S: So...you're telling me that there's no difference at all between "superheroes exist" and "superheroes are just characters in comic books."

B: What?  Of course there's a difference!  Superheroes are cool!  Without them the world would be ordinary and boring!"

"God" is said to be far bigger, more powerful, etc. than any comic-book superhero.  But like them, as far as we can tell he only exists on the printed page.



more kcrady posts in that thread
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4242.msg64161#msg64161
devastating http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4242.msg64413#msg64413
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4242.msg65321#msg65321

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:52:00 AM
On True Xians (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg64001#msg64001)

So: let me get this straight.  Anybody who commits atrocities is not a True Christiantm or True Believertm.  OK.

Abraham, the "father of faith" for the currently dominant set of monotheistic religions heard a voice in his head one day telling him to kill his favorite son1 as a burnt offering.  Without the slightest hesitation (as far as we can tell from the story) he takes the kid and sets out to do it, lying to him all the way.  He even goes through with it, again, without any hesitation, until (luckily for Isaac) the voice in his head says it was just kidding.

Whenever some local monarch saw how hot Sarai/Sarah was for a 90+ year old, Father Abraham, exemplar of faith, turned chickens**t, told them she was his sister, so have at 'er.2  He was also a large-scale slave-owner and did fine pro-family things like abandoning the Egyptian slave girl he got pregnant, and his child by her to die in the desert.  So he's a fake. 

Moses commanded genocide on numerous occasions.  One of the more shocking examples included the mass rape of little girls after they had their families murdered before their eyes (Numbers 31:17-18).  Even Torquemada did not murder on so great a scale.  That rules Moses out.

Since Moses was not a True Believer (can't call him a "Christian," even though he is supposed to be in Heaven, and supposedly appeared with Jesus to pass the covenantal torch, so to speak).  Therefore, the five "Books of Moses" can't really be part of the Bible, or anything that's based on them.

All of the "good" kings God liked (in the "historical" books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles) are distinguished by the zeal with which they murder those who practice other religions.  So they cannae be True Scotsmen neither, laddie!

Moving on to the Prophets, we see them doing things like calling fire down from heaven onto people and committing mass murder of people practicing other religions.  When they're not doing that, they're claiming that God will use other countries like Assyria and Babylonia to do the mass murdering.  And not one of 'em ever ate haggis.  Nae True Scotsman!

The guys in the NT fare a little better, since they never had the power to kill anybody and get away with it like their predecessors in the OT did.  Still, Jesus spends a lot of his time talking about the tortures of Hell, and of all the terrible things he plans to visit on the world, such that he says "woe unto women with child" in those days.  In the Book of Revelation, the massacres take place on a grander scale than ever before,3 with large fractions of Earth's population wiped out systematically, as well as various plagues and torments (like weird locust-scorpion creatures with human faces and long hair) that torture people so horribly they beg for death.

Then, it all ends with the ultimate witch-burning--the casting of billions of souls into the "lake of fire." 

Oh....

Wait a minute...

Oh my...

All those atrocities are to be committed by God Himself, and his angels!  And Jesus, when he "treads the winepress of God's wrath," stomping zillions of people like Godzilla!

Wow!  That's right, folks!  God is not a True Christiantm!  And neither is Jesus!

You heard it here first!  All hail JeremytheWicked!  Founder of True Christianitytm!


NOTES:

1.  All of the "Patriarchs" practiced truly crappy "family values:" favoring one son over others, practicing polygamy (which True Christianstm would consider naughty...right?), favoring one wife over the others, selling their brothers into slavery (the story of Joseph), etc.

2.  That must have been terrific for their marital harmony afterwards.  "Why'd you have to go and get me back, you old goat?!  Pharaoh is amazing in the sack!  Egyptians have members like donkeys and emissions like stallions, you know! [Ezekiel 23:17-20]  So you can bet your bippy next time you "go in unto" me, I'm gonna close my eyes and shout 'Pharaoh!  Oooh, Pharaoh!!!" 

3.  Except, perhaps for Noah's Flood, which wiped out the entire world population except for one extended family, though we're not told what the world population was at the time.


Follow up...
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg64575#msg64575

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on May 25, 2011, 11:55:41 AM
Religion vs Empiricism (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3182.msg64856#msg64856)

Religiious thought is not equivalent to empiricism.  Empiricism, by its nature, has a shared matrix of understanding (external reality) by which rival empirically-based theories/models of reality can be judged.  In other words, empiricism has a method of error-correction that makes it possible for holders of different theories or models of reality to test their theories (by comparing them with reality in systematic tests called "experiments" and/or "observations") and come to eventual agreement on which (if either) model fits reality better.

Thus, in science, while disputes may last for decades, eventually there is resolution, since scientists on both sides seek to discover experimental or observational proof that will validate their theory even in the eyes of members of the rival scientific camp.  The discovery of such proofs is the stuff of which Nobel Prizes are made. 

In contrast, religion has no error-correction method.  Gnostic Christians and Literalist Christians have been disagreeing over what "real" Christianity is as far back as we can trace any Christian writings.  Catholicism and Protestantism have been at each other's throats, often literally, for centuries.  The debate between Calvinism and Arminianism continues as it has since the days of Calvin and Arminius themselves.

And this is only within Christianity.  Which Islam is the "right" one?  Wahhabi?  Sufi?  Shiite?  Sunni?  Which Judaism?  Reform?  Orthodox?  And so on, for every large-scale religion on Earth.  The only way any religion has ever found to create "unity" in what is considered to be true is by force, through the violent suppression of "heresy."

There is simply no way to know, by means of "faith" or "religious thought" etc. which sect of Christianity has the most accurate model of the Christian God, what he really intended to say in the Bible, etc.  There is no way to know, by means of "faith" or "religious thought" whether Christianity or Hinduism or Islam is "the" true religion. 

If scientists were still arguing about whether the Earth orbited the Sun or the Sun orbited the Earth with no resolution in sight, and so far as we could tell, no resolution possible in principle, then scientific empiricism would be equivalent to religious thought.  Only when religion develops a method of error-correction that makes it possible for religious disputes to be settled to the satisfaction of the religious themselves could we start to compare religion to science.

The closest thing religion has to empiricism is the quest for mystical experience.  The mystical variants of different religions (e.g. Sufism in Islam, Qabbalah in Judaism, Gnosticism in Christianity, Yoga and Tantrism in Hinduism, etc.) do seem to have more in common with each other than with the Literalist/Fundamentalist segments of their own traditions--and are often persecuted by them as "heretics."  I think this is because these mystical/contemplative religious sects concentrate on practices rather than dogma.  These practices are designed to, in essence, hack the mind to see what's inside.  Since we all share the same type of brain, it makes sense that spiritual practices that generate the same sort of altered states of consciousness would generate similar experiences, with similar interpretations given by the experiencers.

Here is an interesting article (http://richarddawkins.net/articles/497) in which atheist Sam Harris describes a mystical sense of oneness he experienced at the Sea of Galillee, and his reaction to it.  That atheists can have these experiences also shows that there is "something there" worthy of examination.  The difference between atheists and the mystics is that the mystics interpret their experiences as direct perception of reality (e.g. "We are all one/all is God/all is Love") while atheists interpret the experiences as phenomena taking place in the brain.  In other words, we have two different models of what's going on in these experiences.  Neither faith in materialism (it "must" be all just neurons on the fritz) nor faith in mysticism (it "must" be proof of the existence of a spiritual realm) can provide a resolution. 

Only further experiments, developments in cognitive neuroscience, etc. (i.e. empiricism) can provide us ways to enquire of reality itself and determine which model is the more accurate.

It is also known that these kinds of experiences can be generated at will through the use of LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine, DHT, implanted electrodes, etc.  Unfortunately, research in this area is being slowed considerably by the New Inquisition (aka the War on Some Drugs).  However, as cognitive neuroscience continues to advance, we will gain better understanding of what is going on during these brain-states.  It may well turn out that there is "more" to this than misfiring neurons.  There is some evidence that "psi" abilities exist,1 and may be related to a well-validated phenomenon known as quantum entanglement.  I do not think this evidence is entirely persuasive, since it relies heavily on statistical analysis to combine multiple studies in order to get a large enough sample size of "trials" to generate a statistically significant result.  It has been said (I don't recall by whom) that "there are lies, damned lies, and statistics."  Perhaps in the future as our knowledge of physics and cognitive neuroscience increases, we will be able to develop better tests for psi that will validate or rule it out for good.

In any case, religious methodology, especially Literalist/theological/dogmatic religious methodology has yet to provide a method for correcting its errors (the Fundamentalists of each religion assure us they have no errors to correct, and that their interpretation of their inerrant holy book of preference is the correct one), it cannot in any sense be rightfully compared with empiricism/the scientific method as a means of arriving at correct information about reality.

This is not an assumption of faith on the part of the scientist.  It is a quite demonstrable fact that different ideas held by faith cannot be compared in any way to demonstrate which is more correct.  "Faith" by definition is held in the absence of demonstration or proof.  Scientific models, on the other hand, are overturned all the time as better experiments or observations come in.  The scientific community, by applying the scientific method, can compare its members' theories to external reality and determine objectively which theory is the best model of reality.  The effectiveness of this method is as well demonstrated as the ineffectiveness of "faith" as a tool for understanding objective external reality (i.e. "spiritual" reality or whatever you wish to call the domain religion claims to reveal to us). 

Giannis summarized it well: Science works.  Religion doesn't.

NOTES:

1. See Entangled Minds by Dean Radin.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 03, 2011, 03:02:11 PM
Morals vs laws (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3591.msg66612#msg66612)

Quote from: Davedave
Quote from: kcrady
Because, Christians do not beleive in morality at all.  To Christians, the only reason not to run amok raping and pillaging is because the King says you can't, and he will punish you severely for it after you die.  No King = no constraints on brutality.  For Christians then, there is no morality, only legality.  They hold this theory consistently, as is apparent whenever anyone questions the morality of God.

"God is not limited to human moral understanding."
"God is our Creator.  He is entitled to kill humans.  It is his sovereign right as our Creator."
"Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?"

Whenever atheists bring up any of the moral atrocities in the Bible, Christians routinely exempt God from any moral standard whatsoever.  This is only a natural consequence of their concept of "morality."  God has no "higher power" to tell him what to do.  No one will punish him, and no one can, because he has all the power.  Relative to God, atheism is true.  For him, there is no God.  Having no law he is subject to, God is free to commit any atrocity whatsoever, or command his servants to do it in his name.  God can do no wrong because for him, there is no morality.  As long as its him doing it, any act is "holy" or "righteous."

Great post.  The distinction between Christian legality and morality is a very powerful argument.  I would like a clarification from your perspective, kcrady, though.  Do you see the essential difference between a moral set and a legal set to be the existence of a dictating source with power to punish?  In other words, morals dictates by a higher power are more appropriately called "laws", whereas true morals are something that should spring from within the individual.  Is that what you are getting at here?

Yes.  "Law" depends on coercion.  Without police, jails, etc. "law" would be nothing but impotent words.  Morality would continue to exist.  A moral person is someone who chooses the good and refrains from the evil even if they could "get away with" doing otherwise.  Of course, law and the coercion it entails is necessary in any organized society.  But notice what it is necessary for: to deter--or failing that, to retaliate against and/or confine--those who would otherwise make evil choices. 

Morality, on the other hand, stems from choice.  Apart from choice, morality ceases to exist.  The person who refrains from embezzling money at work only because they're afraid they'll get caught is not considered morally praiseworthy.  The person who refrains from embezzling money even when they're certain they could get away with it, is.  Once coercion enters, morality vanishes.  If someone embezzles money because someone has kidnapped his little girl and threatened to kill her if he didn't, we consider him a victim, not immoral.  If you walk up to somebody on the sidewalk, say "I'm taking donations for the United Way," then pull out a gun and say "DONATE 50 BUCKS OR I BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT!" the "donor" does not receive moral praise for her charity.

We assign moral credit or blame to others for their choices precisely because morality is inherently autonomous.  It is their virtue or vice.  A person who refrains from some evil act only out of fear of punishment has no moral virtue1.  They act "good" only because their free will has been violated by external coercion.  Christians commonly bring up the "free will" argument to explain why God does such a fine job of acting like he doesn't exist.  If God healed amputees, or did any other unambiguously miraculous or divine thing, they tell us, we would not be free to choose whether or not to believe in him.  This choice-to-believe then, is held as a moral act.  This is why Christians who believe that only Christians are "saved" think that atheists and believers in other religions "must" be immoral.  To disbelieve in Christianity is not merely a mistake, like thinking that the sun goes around the Earth or that a mirage in the desert is a pool of water, but a sin

If God's existence were self-evident, then the choice to believe and worship would cease to be moral and become legal.2.  Since A) God's existence is not self-evident3, and B) guilt-tripping is much more effective than threats of force4, turning the question of God's existence into a moral issue rather than a factual one is an extremely powerful adaptation of the Christian meme-set.  Hence the importance, to me, of depriving Christianity of the weapon of morality.   


NOTES:

1. Thus, when a Christian reflexively proclaims that if God does not exist there is no reason to refrain from doing horrific things, they debunk their own claim to morality.

2. In the Bible, this is in fact exactly what happens in "the Day of the Lord" when God finally does reveal his existence and power to all humanity.  Then, unbelievers are legally judged and punished for the sin of "rejecting God."  Then, free will and morality vanish and perfect, total Law is established.  In Heaven, we are told, there will be no sin.  Everyone knows as a self-evident fact that the omniscient King is always watching, and the permanent torture of sinners is a constant reminder of his total coercive power.  Those in Heaven will, of course, love Big Brother.  It says so in the Bible.

3. Many Christians echo the claim of the Apostle Paul that the existence of God is self-evident on account of the existence of Universe, which reveals his existence as Creator (Romans 1:20).  Note that this contradicts the "free will argument" explaining why God does not work lesser miracles like healing amputees.

4. Especially when those threats are made on behalf of a nonexistent entity.  As Ayn Rand put it (paraphrased from memory), "Whip a slave and he may be inclined to rise against you.  Make a slave feel guilty and he will beg to be whipped."
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 03, 2011, 03:08:05 PM
Later in the Morals thread... (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=3591.msg67979#msg67979)

(for those who do not know, Jeremythewicked is our current member JTW.)

Quote from: Jeremythewicked
You still have yet to outline any immoral non violent or harm causing act as immorality.

In all of this it has been "harm" this or that. The altheist sees no harm in morally ambiguous problems. Only on very superficial levels like murder and theft. So when a holy text demands an adherence to a certain value (don't eat shellfish), the atheist complains "fool!" And when the religious then claim adherence to another value found in the same text (thou shalt not kill) the atheist complains "redundant fool!"

The moral relativity question still stands. You're not getting out of it that easy. How does one then account for hedonism? How about homosexuality?


Jtw

I'm not going to be able to answer every possible moral dilemna in two posts on a forum.  Having a faith-based acceptance of commandments issued by Iron Age theocratic barbarians doesn't make it any easier.  If anything, it makes it worse.  Not only do Christians argue over moral issues like homosexuality, whether Jesus' economics ought to be taken seriously (the Gospels and the Book of Acts make it quite clear the original "Church" practiced communal sharing of wealth) or what is or is not a "just war," they also get to argue about whether sprinkling or pouring count as "baptism," or whether it has to be by immersion; whether a baby can be baptized (and needs to be) or whether someone has to reach the "age of accountability" first (and what that age is).

Regarding issues like hedonism or homosexuality, the moral question revolves around the concept of harm to others.  If a hedonist or homosexual causes no harm to others, then the worst thing we can say about them is that they do not value their own survival and flourishing.  The same could be said of other risky behaviors such as skydiving or "extreme" sports.

It is not always easy to define "harm," once you get past the low-hanging fruit like murder and theft.  Do things like homosexuality or individual ownership of guns cause "harm" on a societal level (as opponents of both assert)?  Both sides of both debates can marshal statistics.

Regarding issues where threats or benefits to human life and flourishing (individually and as a society) are not obvious or indisputable, then "morality" becomes less absolute and more relative.  This is the same with any issue about which we do not have concrete facts.  Does the Earth orbit the Sun?  The answer is 'yes,' no 'relativity' of truth there.  Is string theory correct?  Are there nine extra dimensions or twelve?  Do apparently statistically significant results in ganzfeld psi experiments prove that psi exists as a real phenomenon? 

With debateable questions like these, you're going to get different views.  People seem to like to leap to extremes in respons: either we must assume that all morality is inherently relative, or we must get absolute and unquestionable commandments from God in Heaven or a totalitarian State on Earth.

What is needed instead is the ability to take different paths, and a mechanism of error correction.  The first we call "freedom."  This rests on the principle of self-ownership/self-responsibility.  If we are going to hold individuals responsible for their moral choices we have to acknowledge that the moral choices are theirs to make.  The second may be spelled out in an acronym: C.I.T.O.K.AT.E.--Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote To Error. 

CITOKATE is implemented in various ways to correct error in what we can call "Arenas of Accountability."  Peer review and criticism by rival scientists of theories provides CITOKATE in the realm of science.  The adversarial system of jurisprudence provides CITOKATE in the realm of criminal and civil justice.  The free market (the ability of individuals to choose what to buy and who to work for) provides CITOKATE in the ream of the production and use of goods and services.  Representative democracy provides CITOKATE in the realm of politics and law.  We do not yet have an effective way to provide CITOKATE in the realm of ideas, i.e. a "Disputation Arena" in which debates on important questions can be held and moderated in such a way that bad ideas can be decisively defeated before all.

Representative democracy does give us the ability to experiment with what happens when certain ideas or moral practices are sanctioned or forbidden in a society, though the sanctioning or forbidding are themselves law/coercion rather than morality.  None of these systems are perfect.  They're just better than anything else we've tried so far.

These "Arenas of Accountability" work because they replicate the evolutionary process.  Variety (different products, court evidence, scientific theories, moral precepts, etc.) is generated.  "All paths are tried," in that different companies can try different versions of a given product, teams of scientists compare different theories to reality, etc.  Then during the accountability phase, the various approaches are compared with reality to see how well they work.  In the court system, each side's witnesses get cross-examined, each side presents its evidence, etc.  After the Prosecution rests, the Defense supplies the reality test.

Testing in reality then provides new data.  The process is repeated until the verdict of reality is clear enough for most of us to get the message.  It's a messy, gritty process in which many wrong turns are taken.  But it's also the only one that works well enough for us to make real progress.

Religious "morality" on the other hand may change (shellfish is no longer an abomination before the Lord, but eating meat on a Friday is) but, lacking CITOKATE, religion has no way to compare rival theologies, sets of Commandments, and so on to determine which is better.

What religion does offer is the promise of Quick, Easy Answers.  It's a false promise, since religious "moral absolutes" depend on which holy book you're using, and whose interpretation thereof.  Since God or the Gods do not step in to provide clarification in doctrinal or moral disputes within a religion (Calvinism or Arminianism?  Sufism, Shiism, or Wahhabism?  Does the prohibition against boiling a calf in its mother's milk really mean you can't have pizza or cheeseburgers?) what you get is moral relativism, but with each relativist assuming their position is absolute and all those other guys are immoral fiends.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 03, 2011, 03:15:09 PM
By their fruits (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg69867#msg69867)

this was a long discussion where he obliterates zacchaeus post after post.

Kcrady’s post is in response to this wall of text:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg69632#msg69632

Rather than writing an epic reply to yours, let me try to cut the Gordian knot instead.

Among the words attributed to Jesus is the statement, "By their fruits ye shall know them."  You can know what a person (or a movement) is by what they do, just as you can know what species of fruit tree you're looking at by the fruit it produces.

Now, we could debate for ages on whether or not an ideology can "cause" people to do good or bad things, or whether free will means a person can be good in spite of holding an evil ideology, or vice versa.  Likewise, we could come up with all sorts of creative ways to explain how the Catholic Church can order and carry out tortures, exectutions, and brutal wars for centuries, following in the footsteps of tortures, executions, and brutal wars carried out in the pages of the Bible at express divine command, without any of that actually being "official" Christian doctrine or practice.

However, Jesus offers us a much simpler and quicker way to the root of the problem.1

By their fruits ye shall know them.

Christianity, Catholic and otherwise, claims to represent the foremost moral authority on Earth.  Christianity (Catholic and otherwise) is supposed to be superior to all other religions and belief systems when it comes to morality or having a the right sort of relationship with God, Who is supposed to be the epitome of moral perfection.
Christianity claims to have at least some degree of supernatural assistance from God in the preservation of its authentic teachings and in empowering believers to live more moral lives.

By their fruits ye shall know them.

Jesus himself is portrayed making this point, claiming that it would in fact be possible to recognize his true followers by their behavior.

By their fruits ye shall know them.

Christianity (Catholic and otherwise) has a long and horrifying record of atrocities, wars, suppression of science, thought, and dissent.

By their fruits ye shall know them.

Christianity (Catholic and otherwise) has a record of brutality with few peers in pre-modern times (e.g. Genghis Khan and the Aztecs).

By their fruits ye shall know them.

The historical record as well as present-day statistics make it absolutely crystal clear that Christianity does not, in general, uplift and enlighten humankind in any way that suggests the presence of supernatural power.  We see no evidence that it is inherently superior to other religions and philosophies, and it is arguably worse than some (e.g. Buddhism).

By their fruits ye shall know them.

Since tortures, executions, and brutal wars are portrayed in the Bible taking place at the command of the biblical God, it is no surprise that those who profess to follow this god should act in similar ways.

By their fruits ye shall know them.


Until these evil passages in the Bible are de-canonized and denounced by Christians (Catholic and otherwise) they are still part of Christianity, waiting to motivate the next generation of Inquisitors and Crusaders.  With access to modern weapons and the power of the modern State, there is no reason that Christianity could not match or exceed the atrocities of modern totalitarianisms.

By their fruits ye shall know them.

It's really very simple.  Because...

By their fruits ye shall know them.

NOTES:

1. Am I presuming too much to say that pronouncements attributed to Jesus in officially-canonized Gospels qualify as Christian doctrine?

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 03, 2011, 03:20:54 PM
By their fruits 2 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg70989#msg70989)

OK, OK, I finally get it!

All of your responses serve one single purpose: to explain how it is that the existence of an all-powerful, omnibenevolent deity who guides and empowers the Roman Catholic Church has no observable effects whatsoever on reality, including the aforementioned Roman Catholic Church.  As you have explained, omnipotent supernatural power has no effect on "sin" (which is apparently even more powerful than omnipotence) or "free will," even that of people who profess to choose to have the omnipotent power help them overcome "sin," even sometimes.

Which is why we cannot expect God's chosen Holy Mother Church to be any more godly than the Buddhists or the Mormons or a religion I decide to start tomorrow.

Whenever these sorts of issues come up, Christians like you keep mentioning "free will" as if by reflex.  Why should this be?

"Never bother to examine a folly.  Ask yourself only what it accomplishes."

What does this particular folly accomplish?  Why does "free will" even matter in relation to the truth-status of Christianity?  No one asks whether the compelling evidence for the heliocentric model of the Solar System or the evidence against the phlogiston theory of heat transfer violates "free will."  Why?  Because these are aspects of external reality.  In relation to external reality, your choice does not affect what is true, it only affects whether you choose to take the approach necessary to discover truth.  Do you apply the scientific method, or just guess?  Do you critically examine the method you used to develop your model of reality to find and correct errors?  Do you compare your model of reality with reality to find and correct errors?

Reality is what it is.  "Free will" is only relevant in regards to how we relate to reality.  The goal of the scientist is to either falsify or validate a given theory so conclusively that choice is irrelevant when it comes to the truth or falsity of that theory.  If a person was made aware of the facts supporting the heliocentric model of the Solar System and still "chose" to believe in the geocentric model, or that Earth was a flat disc sitting on the back of a turtle, we would consider that person either silly or delusional.

But with Christianity it's different.  As you've admitted, there is no difference whatsoever in reality between the hypothesis "The Roman Catholic Church is the heir to the Apostles, the Body of Christ, supernaturally guided and protected by an all-powerful, omnibenevolent deity" and the hypothesis "The Roman Catholic Church is evil at its core, founded and ruled by false teachers through most of its history, and no better or more divine in origin or nature than any other religious institution."

In short: observation of reality (in this case the history and present-day behavior of the Roman Catholic Church as an institution) is irrelevant.  What does matter?  Choice.  "Free will."

Christianity is something we "should" believe in not because it's a fact of external reality, but because we want to.  If we don't make this choice, then we are, to some extent at least, immoral.  To believe in Christianity or not is an arbitrary choice, like deciding to "wait until marriage" or have sex out of wedlock.  We are to choose it not in the name of truth but in the name of morality, as the "proper" preference

Why make this choice?  Well, the answers come up as a visceral reaction to atheism:  "If there is no God, your life has no meaning!"  "If there is no God, you can have no morality!"  Etc.  We are to believe in Christianity not because of its objective truth (there is no fact of external reality that matters1) but because it offers us other benefits, such as a feeling that our lives matter, a code of ethics, and so forth.  For those who practice prayer and meditation, it can also provide altered states of consciousness in which one can "experience God." 

However, all of these things, including "experiencing God" are benefits that every other religion or spiritual practice worthy of the name can offer.  The descriptions of mystic bliss given by St. Teresa of Avila are not so different from those given by Buddhists, Hindus, Sufis, Gnostics, or people using DMT, Ketamine, or the Persinger helmet.

In a nutshell: Christians believe in Christianity because they like it.

Hmm...  I kinda like the idea that Faeries exist.  Sexy girls in flower-petal dresses with butterfly wings fluttering around in the fields around my apartment complex, with magic powers.  Yeah.  That's kinda fun as a belief.  Sure, I'll never actually see them under anything approaching normal circumstances, and I could never prove them to be an aspect of external reality.  But it's kinda nice to imagine them.  And, if I really mediate and visualize hard enough, maybe supplementing my efforts with some psilocybin mushrooms or LSD, I could probably get my brain to conjure a vision of them at least as good as any apparition of the Virgin Mary.

The Faeries dress sexier, and no doubt have a lot more personality.  Plus there's no gruesome image of some poor guy getting tortured to death in the background.  If I assume that the Faeries are at least as civilized as, say, modern Europeans, I'm sure they'd at least offer a basic "Bill and Ted Ethics" ("Be excellent to each other!").  And that's better than Christianity has practiced through most of its history.

So, can you give me a single reason why I should choose Catholicism over Faeiriism?  I mean, it's not as if you can provide any evidence that Catholicism is true in external reality.  As long as it's a matter of taste...  I pick the Faeries!


NOTES:

1. The one objective claim that Christians still make is that God is necessary to explain the existence of Universe and life.  People who actually research the issue, i.e. scientists disagree.  Even if it were so that some divine agency or other were the only possible explanation, there is no fact of reality that substantiates the Catholic God over the Muslim God, the Hindu Gods, the Deist God, the ancient Egyptian Gods, a super-advanced alien species from another universe capable of creating Big Bangs, etc. etc.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 03, 2011, 03:27:02 PM
By their fruits 3 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg71031#msg71031)


So what we really have here is a reversal of the issues of truth and morality.  In relation to truth, i.e. facts of external reality, free will is irrelevant.  Does Earth orbit the Sun?  That's a question of fact.  An important thing to note is that I have no choice in the matter.  If I choose to believe that the Sun orbits the Earth, or that Earth is a flat circle mounted on the back of a giant tortise, the Earth goes on orbiting the Sun utterly indifferent to my choice.  I can be mistaken about the Earth (say, if I live in a pre-Copernican age) or I can be mentally unbalanced abou it (say, if I'm a member of the Flat Earth Society today), but for most people, in relation to an issue of fact like this, both choice and morality are irrelevant.  But to Christians, choice and morality are paramount and epistemology (how we know what we know and whether a given conclusion is justified) is unimportant by comparison.

As an analogy, consider someone living in Germany in 1941.  Does Adolf Hitler exist?  Does he rule Germany?  In relation to these questions of fact, the person has no choice.  Hitler exists and rules Germany.  If the person chose to disbelieve in Hitler, and claim that Kaiser Wilhelm II ruled Germany, they would be considered delusional.  However, the person does have a choice in how they respond to the fact of Hitler's existence and reign over Germany.  This is where morality comes in.  Do they join the Resistance, hide Jews and Allied pilots from the SS?  Or do they eagerly spy on their neighbors between Nuremburg rallies?

With regard to the question of fact (Does Hitler exist?) they have no choice.  When it comes to evaluating that fact (Is Hitler good?) they have a choice.  Christianity reverses this order.  Notice that the question "Do you believe in God?" is universally considered synonymous with "Do you worship and serve God?"  Whenever someone asks "Do you believe in God?" they never expect to hear an answer like, "Yes, but I'm with the Spiritual Resistance.  When Jesus and his heavenly host show up on horseback they're gonna be sooooo surprised when they see F-22's and Abrams tanks coming at them!  Hahahaha!"

To the contrary, it is assumed that if you believe in God you will automatically serve and worship him as a matter of course.  One of the Christians on this forum (I don't recall which one at the moment) claimed that to assume God's existence for the sake of argument (followed by an evaluation of whether his "Plan" as described in Christian belief is "perfect" or not) means assuming the Christian evaluation of God (that he is in fact perfect, good, etc.), and therefore one must also conclude that God's "Plan" is "perfect" even if it looks otherwise.  Once you accept the existence of God, you're "locked in" to a positive evaluation of his character and a decision to worship and serve him.  By the time you become aware of things like the massacres in the Old Testament or the doctrine of Hell, you've already been led to accept that these things "must" be part of a morally perfect God's perfect plan, which your puny mortal mind cannot comprehend. 

In other words, from the Christian point of view, we have free will when it comes to the question of God's existence (i.e. whether he is a factual part of reality or not), but not when it comes to evaluating his character and deciding how to respond to his existence (if he exists).

Why is Christianity set up this way?  What does it accomplish?

First of all, it defines the question of God's existence as a moral rather than a factual issue.  If you do not believe in the Christian God, and/or believe in some other god(s), you are not merely mistaken or uninformed about the facts, you are morally wrong.  To disbelieve in the Christian God is an act of wickedness, a sin.  This enables Christian evangelists to bypass critical thought and appeal to guilt, peer pressure, and the like instead of validating their position with reference to facts in reality.  "Jesus died for your sins.  He loves you so much!  How could you disbelieve in Him?"  If guilt-tripping doesn't work, this approach has the benefit of legitimizing punishment for disbelief.  After all, if disbelief is evil (rather than just mistaken or uninformed) then it is perfectly legitimate for God--or his appointed Spokesmen, from Moses to Torquemada--to apply threats or punishments, just as with any other crime.

We would never consider punishing someone for being wrong about the position of Earth in the Solar System or the existence of phlogiston.  The very idea is absurd.  But when it comes to religion, it is virtually universally accepted that having the wrong religion or none is a moral offense.  Even in countries with vaunted rights of freedom of religion, atheists are inherently suspect (according to a recent survey, we are considered less trustworthy than Islamic suicide bombers), and people who hold to sufficiently foreign religions are criminal.  To test this latter proposition, try parading a giant carving of a penis through the streets of New York as part of a fertility rite (as is done in Japan) or starting a church in which magic mushrooms or LSD is taken as a sacrament in order to commune with the Divine.1  Even in the "land of the free" and "secular" Europe, "freedom of relgion" is limited to "religions that Christians can tolerate." 2

And so we come back to the original topic of this thread.  By defining the quesiton of God's existence as a moral choice rather than an issue of fact, Christians have implicitly legitimized punishing people for not being Christians.  Even those who piously claim that we do not have the authority to do so on Earth3 still hold that God is entitled to punish unbelief with literally infinite severity.  With a single stroke, Christians have relieved themselves of the burden of proof they would bear regarding any other claim4 while entitling themselves to use not only guilt manipulation and peer pressure, but force or the threat of force (even if it's just Pascal's Wager) as tools to manufacture assent.

How diabolically clever!



NOTES:

1.  If I recall correctly, the Native American Church did win the right to use peyote as a sacrament after a prolonged court fight and activism, but this exception is racially based.  Whites, Blacks, Asians, etc. cannot legally use peyote. 

2.  This is not to argue in favor of religions practicing human sacrifice and other forms of brutality.  Such religions violate the human rights of their victims.  Animal sacrifice is debatable issue.  Since "animal sacrifice" is carried out on an industrial scale to provide us with meat, leather, and other goods, to me it seems harder to make the case that animal sacrifice ought to be forbidden, as compared with rites of human sacrifice or torture.  If Tyson can kill thousands of chickens every day--after keeping them cramped in inhumane conditions for their whole lives--what is so horrifying about a Santeria shaman sacrificing a chicken to the spirits he worships?  The answer is that Santeria is a foriegn faith, well beyond the Abrahamic pale, and thus spooky and evil.  The same distinction appears when we consider a couple having recreational sex after meeting in a singles' bar vs. a couple having sex as part of a Pagan rite.  Perhaps you can get away with doing the latter in secret, but don't try to set up a "Pagan Church" with a sign out front announcing an upcoming sexual fertility rite!

3.  Even those who hold to this position must agree that it was legitimate for Moses, Joshua, the Judges, and the Israelite kings to punish unbelief, even by death.  They merely claim that God has withdrawn his permission to do this because "we're under the New Covenant now."

4.  Most Christians would probably agree that in other situations where a claim is being made (such as a physicist promoting a new theory, or a prosecuting attorney making the case that a defendant is a murderer) that the claimant has the burden of proof.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 03, 2011, 03:34:47 PM
By their fruits 4 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg71864#msg71864)

Quote from: zacchaeus
Quote
Whenever these sorts of issues come up, Christians like you keep mentioning "free will" as if   by reflex. Why should this be?
Because the subject of our reasoning here is God. So that reasoning has to be consistent with the definition we are using of God, i.e. a Christian definition. The free will of human beings is not only an assertion about the world, it is also an assertion that relates to the nature of God, because God's attributes of perfect love and perfect justice etc. are related to free will. A quantum physicist would probably not entertain a theory which was not consistent with the Heisenberg principle. Likewise a Christian, such as myself, would not entertain an assertion which was not consistent with the nature of God as defined in Christianity. That's why free will is important to many Christian discussions.

LOL!  Where, exactly, do you get this "definition" of yours?  Since it is prior to and takes precedence over the portrayal of the Christian god in the Bible (you evaluate what God is portrayed doing in the Bible in terms of your definition rather than deriving your definition from what sort of being God is portrayed as in the Bible), where do you get it?  The Pope?  Augustine?  Plato?  Or do you just create it as an act of conjuration?

Very well, since, according to your view of things, defining a thing speaks it into being and determines its attributes...  I hereby define the Christian God as a mythic father/king figure that exists only in the imagination.
>thunderclap<  Now, since we're talking about the Christian God, and the definition says he's a mythic father/king figure that exists only in the imagination, it doesn't matter what the Bible, or Church tradition, or the Catechism or anything else says.  All of those things have to be evaluated and re-interpreted in terms of the definition of the Christian God, which says he's a mythic father/king figure that exists only in the imagination.  CHECKMATE!!!  :)

Can you see how silly this "definition game" of yours is?

Quote from: zacchaeus
Quote
In a nutshell: Christians believe in Christianity because they like it.
  Evidentialism  strikes again. It's inevitable I think that it basically comes down to: A non theist refusal to  accept any approach to truth which is not evidentialism, and a theist refusal to accept evidentialism as the only approach or at least the "best" approach to truth. I think we agree in one respect though. Choosing between these approaches to truth is just that, a choice.

Not if you want to get at the truth, instead of just making stuff up in your head.  You would never apply this nonsense to any other area of life.  Would you go to a doctor who used a "non-evidential" approach to medicine?

"Well, Zaccheus, see this MRI?  It shows you have a cancerous tumor in your brain.  Why are you alarmed?  I define 'cancer' as the perfect manifestation of life, since life is growth and cancer cells grow much faster than non-cancer cells.  So it's a wonderful thing to have a tumor in your brain.  Congratulations!  In fact, I've scheduled you for surgery to remove all that imperfect, non-cancerous brain tissue." 

Would you fly on an airplane with a "non-evidential" pilot?

"You don't expect me to read all of these silly 'instruments' do you?  That's evidentialism striking again!  Why, a perfect pilot could fly this plane with his eyes closed!  And since I would rather be a perfect pilot than one of those silly rationalist types, I'm going to fly this airplane with my eyes closed.  It's a choice, and I choose the non-evidential path to truth."

Or how 'bout this:

"Welcome to Honest John's Used Cars.  I've got the perfect car here for you, for only $50,000!  Look at her, isn't she a beauty!"

"It's an old Yugo.  It's rusted through.  I can see the engine without even opening the hood.  And the rear window is broken.  You've got to be kidding me!"

"No, you see, it's the perfect car!  And just because it doesn't look that way to you, doesn't change the fact that it's the perfect car.  These things you call flaws are merely attributes of Perfection in relation to cars."

"Huh?!  What is this, some kind of con?"

"Of course not!  That's impossible!  Look at the sign: it says 'Honest John's Used Cars.'  I'm John.  By definition, I'm honest, so I'm telling you the truth.  It's the perfect car.  Now let's say compared to other cars, the perfect car seems too slow. How can this be? Isn't being too slow an imperfection. The question is can we logically say that the perfect car is too slow? No. Because none of its individual attributes can compromise its collective perfection, because then it would not be the perfect car. Its speed therefore has to be considered perfect in relation to perfect safety and perfect comfort, not necessarily in relation to simply being the fastest. An inanimate object clearly cannot lock us into a positive evaluation of it. Yet we are still forced to make a positive evaluation of the perfect car, by necessity of logic, even in light of something (slowness) which seems like an imperfection. So it is logic which dictates the necessity of a positive evaluation, because given the definition, anything else would be illogical.  You wouldn't want to be illogical would you?  So, whaddaya say?  Are you ready to buy the perfect car?"

If you wouldn't accept this nonsense in relation to the purchase of a car (a relatively minor decision) why would you accept it when it comes to determining your whole worldview, by which you will guide your entire life?   

Quote from: zacchaeus
Objectively speaking, I am in no way compelled to accept evidentialism as the sole approach to truth, as you are in no way compelled to think there is another approach to truth. The difference I think is while I can recognise the usefulness of evidentialism as an approach to truth, particularly where science is concerned, non theists are loathe to accept any other approach to truth, because of the belief that any such approach is not rational.

Well, I suppose you're not "compelled" to consider evidentialism as a better way of approaching truth than Tarot cards or just claiming that you can define truth into existence.  You can define yourself as "Napoleon Bonaparte" if you want, nobody will stop you.  Of course, that doesn't mean you get to have a second go at conquering Europe, since that's kinda hard to do from the inside of a padded room.  Reality is truck-like.  If you're standing in the middle of a freeway and you define that onrushing 18-wheeler as "soft, cuddly, and harmless" it will still flatten you regardless of what definitional incantations you sputter.  Reality is utterly indiffernt to our definitions, or any other contents of our consciousness.  If we want to deal with reality effectively, we have to make our definitions, beliefs, etc. consistent with reality as much as we are able, rather than deluding ourselves that we can determine what is real by defining it as we choose!

If you think otherwise, then by all means, define yourself as "Superman" and try jumping off a building. 

Now, either God is an aspect of reality, or he isn't.  If he is, the only way we can know this is to observe and/or experience him, or effects he generates in reality.  We then define him based on whatever we perceive him to be, in reality.  Since our perceptions can sometimes be wrong, we have to keep checking, and revising our definitions and concepts accordingly.  Only if "God" is an entirely made-up entity like an "elf" or a "Jedi Knight" does our definition itself determine his nature.  Since a "Jedi Knight" is an imaginary entity, and by definition a "Jedi Knight" uses "the Force" (another imaginary construct), it would be illogical to propose the idea of a "Jedi Knight" who does not use "the Force."  This "non-evidentialist approach" of yours works here only because in reality there's no such thing as a "Jedi Knight."  We cannot go anywhere to see real, live Jedi Knights in action to determine whether the definition of a "Jedi Knight" as a "Force-user" is consistent with reality or not.

What is an "elf?"  The definition used by the Keebler company proposes tiny, pointy-eared people who live in hollow trees making cookies.  The definition used by J.R.R. Tolkien shares the pointy ears, but differs on just about everything else.  His "elves" are tall, beautiful humanoids who are immortal and have groovy names like "Arwen" or "Galadriel."  Santa's "elves," on the other hand, are intermediate in size between Keebler and Tolkien, but live in the frozen North and make toys rather than cookies or lembas bread and magical items.  The "elf," being an imaginary, made-up concept, is created by whatever definition we're using at the time.  There is no existing entity in reality to compare these concepts with to test for accuracy.

You appear to approach the subject of "God" in the same way.  "God" is what you define him to be.  You define him as "perfect," so whatever he is portrayed doing in the Bible is "perfect" by definition.  We can no more debate this than we can argue over how tall an "elf" "really is."  Using this same logic, an Asatruar could define the Norse gods as "perfect" (regardless of how they're described in the Sagas--that is perfect, by definition), a Hindu could define the Hindu gods as "perfect," and so on.  And, as is the case with "elves" and "Jedi Knights," the "evidential approach" is useless.  There is no evidence to evaluate in relation to imaginary things.  Therefore, by your own logic, "God" is indistinguishable from an imaginary concept.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 03, 2011, 03:44:24 PM
By their fruits 5 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg72294#msg72294)



Quote from: zacchaeus
Quote
Really, Kcrady's response, although nothing new, is so solidly organized that leaves no room for refutation . . .
lol, don't count your chickens . . .
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LOL!  Where, exactly, do you get this "definition" of yours?  Since it is prior to and takes precedence over the portrayal of the Christian god in the Bible (you evaluate what God is portrayed doing in the Bible in terms of your definition rather than deriving your definition from what sort of being God is portrayed as in the Bible), where do you get it?  The Pope?  Augustine?  Plato?  Or do you just create it as an act of conjuration?

Very well, since, according to your view of things, defining a thing speaks it into being and determines its attributes...  I hereby define the Christian God as a mythic father/king figure that exists only in the imagination.
>thunderclap<
  Now, since we're talking about the Christian God, and the definition says he's a mythic father/king figure that exists only in the imagination, it doesn't matter what the Bible, or Church tradition, or the Catechism or anything else says.  All of those things have to be evaluated and re-interpreted in terms of the definition of the Christian God, which says he's a mythic father/king figure that exists only in the imagination.  CHECKMATE!!!  :)

I'm disappointed in that. Saying that maintaining the consistency of an argument based on the definitions of its terms is "silly" or a "game" is the same as saying that logic is "silly" or a "game".

When it is divorced from reference to objective reality into an entirely self-referential "consistent" circularity based on arbitrarily asserted "definitions" then logic is a silly game.

1. Every cat has one more tail than no cat.

2. No cat has eight tails.

3. Therefore, every cat has nine tails.

Or how about this one:

"This statement is false." 

Or perhaps a historical example:

"The heavens, being above the Earth and the realm of the Divine, are perfect, by defintion.  The circle is the perfect shape.  Therefore, the heavenly bodies must move in circular orbits."

The result of this was the pre-Copernican Ptolmaic geocentric model of the Solar System.  It was entirely logical and internally consistent, and could be used to predict eclipses, solstices, equinoxes, and so forth.  It was also factually wrong.

Logic is like a computer.  In fact, computer architecture is based on what are called "logic gates," circuits that flip to 1 or 0, On or Off depending on certain inputs.  As anyone involved with programming or entering data into a computer knows, there is a simple phrase that describes how computers work: GIGO--Garbage In, Garbage Out.  It is the same way with logic.  You are inputting your garbage arbitraily-asserted definitions and "logically" producing consistent garbage.

Quote from: zacchaeus
I'm also disappointed because you are evaluating my argument on the basis of your assumptions, which will only tell you that our assumptions differ, which I think we all ready know. If that's something you want to establish then I agree with you. End of discussion. However, if you want to look at the consistency of my argument you have to judge it against the premises and assumptions of my argument. after all, that's what consistency is. Unless of course you are saying that Christianity is completely consistent with the premises it is based upon. I am happy to accept that, but I'm surprised if you are actually admitting that also.

>rolls eyes<  You're trying to establish the validity of your argument by naked, arbitrary decree.  "If you wish to address my argument, you must accept my assumptions, therefore I'm right!"

Nonsense on stilts!  Your arguments are false and foolish because they're inconsistent with reality, and reality doesn't give a tinker's cuss about your assumptions or your definitions.  Since you have, by your own blatant admission, completely separated your worldview from any relation to objective reality you are delusional, by definition:
Quote from: dictionary.com
Delusion: Psychiatry. a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact: a paranoid delusion.

Go ahead.  Define yourself as "Superman."  Since "Superman" can fly and is bulletproof (by definition), and you are "Superman," therefore you can fly and are bulletproof.  Pefectly logical and internally consistent with its definitions.  Since your worldview empowers you to define Almighty God into existence as long as your circular reasoning is internally consistent with the definitions you create, Superman ought to be a piece of cake.  So get yourself a cape and tights and jump off the nearest skyscraper.  Gravity vs. your omnipotent, God-creating power of definition and circular reasoning.  We'll see who wins.  As long as we're talking about "Superman" we have to accept the definition of "Superman" which includes the ability to fly.  So once we make the assumption that "Zaccheus = Superman" then "Zaccheus" can fly--by definition.  Go on, I'm sure flying will be loads of fun! 
Quote from: zacchaeus
Only your assumption that human beings created God supports what you have posted,

My assumption?  You're the one who thinks that defining "God" as "perfect" makes him so.  I think the idea that a person like you can actually create a perfect, omnimax God by the incantatory magic of pronouncing a definition is utterly silly!  That doesn't stop you from thinking you can do it though.
Quote from: zacchaeus
Can a doctor address the question of why I exist? Not what I'm made of, not how my body works, not what my body is, but why I am, indeed what existence is.

The "why" questions are important.  That's why using a "method" that is idiotic in relation to lesser issues like used cars or medical treatments is even more idiotic when applied to the central questions of life.  It's like agreeing that if you want to fly to New York from San Francisco that you should use an airplane instead of flapping your arms real hard--while claiming that flapping your arms real hard will give you warp propulsion for interstellar travel.
Quote from: zacchaeus
However, when I want to know what existence is, or why I am here, or what the nature of God might be, I reach for metaphysics and other forms of philosophy. Science (which is also a philosophy) is a useful tool but only for get at particular kinds of truth, namely descriptions of the world. Other forms of philosophy are useful tools for getting at other kinds of truth, namely the human condition and question of God.

Circular reasoning and argument by arbitrary made-up definitions are just as invalid in metaphysics and philosophy as they are anywhere else.  Furthermore, any concept of "metaphysics" or "philosophy" that is entirely disconnected from objective reality, finding its validity in whatever definitions you decide to make up is--by definition--a delusion.
Quote from: dictionary.com
Delusion: Psychiatry. a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact: a paranoid delusion.

Quote from: zacchaeus
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Well, I suppose you're not "compelled" to consider evidentialism as a better way of approaching truth than Tarot cards or just claiming that you can define truth into existence. You can define yourself as "Napoleon Bonaparte" if you want, nobody will stop you.
The Christian assumption about the nature of God is part of a logically consistent system of belief. You would be right to say that consistency does not necessarily mean something is true. I accept that completely. But it does not follow that something which cannot be proven in a way satisfactory to evidentialism is necessarily false, or even indeed irrational.

Sure.  Pharaoh Khufu's magicians were not able to prove Einstein's relativity or Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.  Within the contex of knowledge available to them they would have been perfectly rational in not accepting relativity and quantum mechanics as true.  They couldn't disprove them either, but then the don't have to.  The burden of proof is on whoever wants to persuade them of the truth of relativity and quantum mechanics.

Likewise, the burden of proof is on you to show that your God exists as something more than an idea in your head.  Until you (or someone else) can, it is perfectly rational for us not to believe in God as it is for us not to believe in leprechauns, magic broomsticks, and the Invisible Pink Unicorn (p.b.u.h.h.h.).
Quote from: zacchaeus on January 23, 2007, 05:43:30 PM
There are things which you believe in which cannot be proven in any way satisfactory to evidentialism, yet your belief in those thing is considered perfectly rational. Take "the problem of the mind". You believe (I assume) that I have a mind, that other people have minds, yet there is no evidence of the senses which prove other peoples minds exist.

Bollocks, sir!  Two words: Cognitive neuroscience.
Quote from: zacchaeus
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You appear to approach the subject of "God" in the same way.  "God" is what you define him to be.  You define him as "perfect," so whatever he is portrayed doing in the Bible is "perfect" by definition.  We can no more debate this than we can argue over how tall an "elf" "really is."  Using this same logic, an Asatruar could define the Norse gods as "perfect" (regardless of how they're described in the Sagas--that is perfect, by definition), a Hindu could define the Hindu gods as "perfect," and so on.  And, as is the case with "elves" and "Jedi Knights," the "evidential approach" is useless.  There is no evidence to evaluate in relation to imaginary things.  Therefore, by your own logic, "God" is indistinguishable from an imaginary concept.

As I suspected you have moved on from trying to suggest that Christianity is logically inconsistent, which proves difficult because it is not, to falling back on the position of saying that there is no evidence for God that is satisfactory to evidentialism. Well I agree. However, unless you can show me that evidentialism is the only valid meaningful way to justify belief, then your assertion that there is no evidence can only prompt the answer: yes I know. An answer which I believe reflects the significance of the assertion, but I hope I doesn't any of the fun out of being a non theist.

Of course Christianity is logically consistent!  Because you say so!

Assumption: Christianity is logically consistent.

Assumption: The Christian God is perfect, by definition.

Assumption: The Bible is God's perfectly inspired word.

Therefore, all these contradictions (http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/by_name.html) cannot be contradictions, by defintion.  Since we're talking about Christianity, that means we have to assume Christianity is true, that God is perfect, and that the Bible is God's perfectly inspired Word.  Therefore, the Bible can't contradict itself no matter what the text actually says.

Quote from: dictionary.com
Delusion: Psychiatry. a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact: a paranoid delusion.

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 03, 2011, 03:51:34 PM
By their fruits 6 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg73365#msg73365)

Quote from: zacchaeus
kcady,

Do you really see no errors or problems in John's argument after critically evaluating it?

Yes.  If you can refute it with anything other than incantatory arguments from a priori "definition," do so.
Quote from: zacchaeus
Do you accept the "cat has eight tails" example is logically invalid?

Go back and read my post again.  You asked if I thought logic was a silly game.  I posted that as an example of how it can be, when it is not grounded in external reality.  Same with the "this statement is false" bit.  You then pounced on them to refute them as if I had proposed them as truths.  However, I noticed a very interesting thing about your reply:

A deafening silence in regard to the third example I gave, the historical example of Greek and Medieval philosphers and astronomers establishing "by definition" that the heavenly bodies "must" possess only pefectly circular motions, resulting in the Ptolmaic geocentric model of the solar system.  This model was logically consistent and based on the exact same form of reasoning you use--starting from an a priori definition, erecting a system of logic thereon, and claiming that this can determine the truth about something without requiring any evidence from reality.
Quote from: zacchaeus
Is every belief we consider reasonable, fully justifiable by the terms of evidentialism?

Just so you can't move the goal posts again (as John demonstrated you have a tendency to do), why don't you specify exactly what you mean by "evidentialism."
Quote from: zacchaeus
I mentioned other minds before and you mentioned neuroscience (it's actually one word), but uncharacteristically you did not elaborate or support your view with any reasoning. As you always usually try to, I assume this was because of time constraints or other restrictions, or perhaps you intended to come back to it and forgot, hence this reminder.

By that point in our discussion, I understood that for me to provide citations and evidence from cognitive neuroscience that "minds" exist would be a waste of my time.  Suffice it to say that scientists are not only getting a much better understanding of how the human mind works through the use of more advanced scanning and imaging technologies, researchers in the AI field are using this accelerating flood of new discoveries to begin the process of reverse-engineering it.  The days when "mind" was an inexplicable mystery philosophers could debate endlessly with no possibility of resolution are past.  Do a little research on the subject before you go claiming that "mind" is something we have to believe in by faith or by philosophical decree as an arbitrary choice.  Google is your friend.  See also http://www.kurzweilai.net and Ray Kurzweil's book The Singularity is Near.

it peters out here.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: Graybeard on June 03, 2011, 05:30:18 PM
Have you access to the form for proposing people for Nobel Prizes?

Seriously, there is a book here waiting to be published.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 04, 2011, 04:19:24 PM
No kidding.  He has some very unorthodox perspectives which, once he articulates them, seem totally obvious.  I read these and think, "duh.  Why did I never see it that way?"
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 11:43:14 AM
General xianity essay  (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4181.msg68296#msg68296)
from the same thread as By Their Fruits

Quote from: zacchaeus
The exact nature of that perceived difference is irrelevant. It's enough that that group is not this group. In other words, it's based on "otherness".

So I think negative behaviour runs deeper than religion and political ideology. I think it is a fundamental part of humanity. Why is this the case? The nature of the answer I think will be either an evolutionist one, or a theological one, depending on your worldview; But in a nutshell that's why I don't think it's accurate to suggest that Christianity causes negative behaviour and that it's more accurate to say that membership of any group which can be differentiated in any way from another can cause negative behaviour. Christianity happens to be part of that set, as do political ideologies and other groups.

+1 for making some good thought-provoking points.  I agree that negative behavior runs deeper than religion1 and political ideology.  And I'm sure the issue of whether or not a given ideology causes people to commiit atrocities would be a worthy debate in itself, requiring input from cognitive neuroscience, and probably including some degree of discussion of determinism vs. free will.

However, the structure of an ideology can, I think, either aid or impede this negative part of human behavior.  If an ideology teaches that We are right, period, and They are pure evil (exploiters of the Proletariat/degenerate races/vile heretics, and agents of the Devil, etc.) then it gives its permission to Us to go out and liquidate lots of Them in the name of hearth, home, and all that is good and right.  If that ideology also teaches the people to obey without question, that makes the large-scale atrocities possible.  For example, I think it would be much harder to get people to commit mass atrocities in the name of radical market-anarchist libertarianism than in the name of Islam or Nazism.  It's virtually impossible to get market-anarchist libertarian types to do anything at all as a group, much less pull off a mass-scale violation of individual rights.

The doctrine of unquestioning obedience (based on a rejection of rationality and critical thought in general) is a key ingredient in all mass atrocities.  Maybe Stalin did what he did because he was a psychopath.  But the collectivist State-worship in Soviet Communist dogma made it possible for him to rule a continental empire and kill people by the tens of millions.  Maybe Torquemada would have been a serial killer torturing people in his basement if not for Christianity or some similarly dogmatic religion to torture for.  But he would not have had the ability to strike terror into the hearts of an entire nation, gather for himself the evil intellgence necessary to invent "Pears of Anguish" and other fiendish devices, and do it all in plain sight without being stopped or hindered (rather, helped) by the forces of law and order.  The Inquisitor who tied a "witch" to a stake to be burned was only a focus.  The true evil, the true monstrosity, is that which led all those ordinary, "good people" who worked hard each day and loved their kids to stand by and cheer as she twisted in the flames.

Maybe the guys who wrote the Malleus Malificarum would have wrote gruesome books under any ideology.  But it was Christianity and its holy book sanctioning violence against Pagans and unbelievers that paved the way for the horrors of the witch trials.  Perhaps instead of focusing on Christianity's effect on the monsters we know by name (Torquemada, Richard the "Lion-Hearted," Hitler, Stalin, etc.), we should turn our attention to the common people who, as a result of their acceptance of collectivist ideologies like Christianity and Communism, vaulted those monsters to heights of total power instead of calling whatever equivalent of the police they had to see them behind bars.

A Torquemada or a Pope Innocent or a Hitler is not a danger to millions if no one obeys them.  Christianity, for 2000 years, has provided all those "good people" with motivation to obey, and to accept the premise that disobedience in itself is sin.  If all those disobedient Pagans, heretics, witches, infidels, Muslims, Jews, etc. deserve to be punished in Hell forever, then a mere burning at the stake or a breast-ripping is just a little prelude that will be utterly forgotten after the first thousand years of fiery torment.  And if it causes even one soul to repent and be saved from that eternal torment, wouldn't it be worth it? 

Historic Christianity has taught an Us vs. Them concept.  Catholic Christianity "is" Right, Gnosticism, Catharism, Manicheanism, Docetism, Arianism, Paganism, Islam, etc. are wrong and it is right and proper to combat them with violence.  You may not find this in your Catechism, but it's there in the statements and commands given by Popes throughout the centuries and written in blood by Catholics operating with the full sanction and support of their Mother Church.  Now, either those Popes and the Mother Church were right to do as they did, or they were wrong because the Catechism doesn't specify that these things ought to be done. 

If they're right, then your Catechism is only part of "official" Catholicism (other things such as Church tradition, Papal statements made ex cathedra, the Bible, etc. also having comparable or superior importance).  If they're wrong, then the Catholic Church has been wrong throughout most of its history.  Why then, would you accept a Catechism it produced, or a biblical Canon it produced as the foundation of your spirituality?  And, as Giannis has pointed out, if the God of Catholicism exists, and all of these horrific atrocities are unacceptable in His sight, why has he never acted to stop this spilling of blood in his name?

The simple, inescapable fact of history is that Christianity (not just Catholicism) has empowered some of the worst psychopaths in history.  It did not stop them, it greased the skids.  And of course (once again to emphasize Giannis' point) not once did we see the alleged omnipotent, omnibenevolent God do a single thing to keep all of these horrific evils from being done in his name.


NOTES:

1. To say as you do that negative human behavior runs deeper than religion is, as I see it, a striking concession.  "Religion" (at least the true one, presumably yours) is supposed to "run deeper" than anything else, going all the way to the transformation of the human spirit and even the creation of Universe itself.  While Catholicism does teach the doctrine of "Original Sin," it also, presumably, offers an effective remedy.  Otherwise, what did Jesus die on the cross for?  Of course, Christians do teach that "sin" continues while we are in the flesh, even as Christians.  But again, the divine spiritual power upon which Christianity claims to be based is supposed to be stronger than "Original Sin" in the sense that God is omnipotent and "Original Sin" is not.  At a bare minimum, the "true religion" ought to elevate the spiritual and moral level of its members to some noticeable degree.  If it is no better/more spiritually powerful than a mere human ideology, on what basis do we call it the "true" religion? 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 11:45:30 AM
Spiritual elite (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4458.msg70327#msg70327)

Skitch:

Granting for the sake of discussion that these sorts of experiences happen to you fairly regularly (that does seem to be what you imply), I can understand why you would believe in God.  A couple questions:

1. Why is God an everyday reality for you, while he plays hide-and-seek with everybody else, even most other Christians?  As you have probably gathered, many of us here are former Christians who would have been delighted to have God active in our lives.  If God doesn't want people to be atheists, all he has to do is be real.1 

2.  Some believers in other religions have experiences of comparable power to what you have related here.  A familiar example would be UFO abductions that leave unusual marks or scars on the person in addition to the memories of the event itself.  How is a neutral observer, for whom neither flying saucers nor the Biblical deity shows up to decide which spiritual elite2 to believe?



NOTES:

1. A bright supernatural light and a voice saying, 'George, George, why do you kick against the goads?  Hearken thou unto thy wife, for she is My disciple!' would probably go a long way toward bringing harmony to GenerousGeorge's home.  If not for his sake, then for the sake of his devout wife, their children, and the large faithful congregation she has praying for him...   

2. Since only a comparably small percentage of believers in other religions have visions of Krishna, conversations with the Virgin Mary, visitations by poltergeists or UFO aliens and the like, it would appear that "paranormal stuff" of any description only happens to a certain segment of the population, hence a "spiritual elite" for whom this stuff is something they experience rather than reading about other people experiencing.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 11:49:18 AM
Debunking xianity (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4264.msg70927#msg70927)
Ends the thread


Welcome.  Here is a thorough debunking of Bible prophecy from the Skeptic's Annotated Bible:

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/proph/long.html

Many of the so-called "prophecies" of Jesus were not prophecies at all, if read in context.  The "virgin birth" "prophecy" is an example.  If you read it in its context, it is clear that the prophet is talking about a child conceived and born in the normal way (as I recall, he "went to the prophetess" and conceived the child himself!) as a sign to King Ahaz that Syria and Israel (the northern kingdom) would not defeat him.  Interestingly, in Chronicles, it says that those countries pwned him anyway, LOL.

Another thing to note in reading the OT is that the prophets who ended up getting books written about them weren't the only prophets.  Here's an example:
Quote
And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the LORD, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them.  And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver [it] into the king's hand.

--I Kings 22:11-12

Here we see a whole corps of prophets speaking in the name of the Lord.  What this means is that there was a larger 'sample size' of 'prophecies' to choose from than the picture we get in church of there being only a few prophets of the Lord, all of whom have Biblical books named after them.  And, since all of the "prophets of the Lord" did not predict the same things (as this story makes clear), then we end up with a process of selection in which those prophets whose predictions came closer to the truth, or who just had enough followers to see that their words were reinterpreted to fit (think: Nostradamus) ended up in the Bible.

In this case, if the king had won the battle of Ramothgilead, then this other fellow with his metal horns would be remembered as a godly prophet who could tell the future, and Micaiah as a fool.  In other words, no matter what happened, somebody claiming to be a "prophet of the Lord" would be able to point at a "prophecy" that was "fulfilled."  Given the existence of entire corps of "prophets" making all sorts of different prophecies, it's not too surprising that a few of them would guess right.  Stopped clock.  Twice a day.

Even more fascinating is the rest of this story:
Quote
And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.

And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.  And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.

And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade [him], and prevail also: go forth, and do so.  Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.
--I Kings 22:19-24

Here we see the astounding claim that God sends evil spirits to lie for him in order to trick humans he doesn't like into marching to their doom.  This story serves the immediate purpose of providing "spin control," explaining why the royal prophets' corps can get it wrong from time to time: God's just a little more pissed off than usual, and he sends one of his demonic horde to give his prophets false prophecies in his name.

However, it also knocks out one of the main props of Christian belief: namely, the notion that "it is impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18).  Even if the verse in Hebrews is accurate, God is sneaky: he can just send an evil spirit to do the lying on his behalf. 

In other words: God cannot be trusted.  If God will send a "lying spirit" to "inspire" his prophets with false words they think are from him, then you have no way to know when he is or is not doing this.

One of the primary reasons Christians believe it is right to trust "the word of God" (whether it be the Bible or their own inner "spiritual promptings") is that they believe him to be an inherently trustworthy source.  If God exists, is omniscient, and inherently honest at all times, then of course it would make perfect sense to trust whatever he said.

But if God does not exist, or is not omniscient (note how often he seems to be surprised by events in the Bible, e.g. humanity turning bad just before the Flood, or the Tower of Babel narrative), or is capable of deceit, then the whole notion of "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" collapses.

Even if you could prove that a given message was from God, you cannot prove he didn't send a lying spirit to deceive you.  And as the Book of Job reveals with blatant clarity, the god of the Bible simply cannot be trusted.

Just imagine the following scenario:
Quote
And Satan came before the Lord, and the Lord said, "Have you seen my people Israel?  Do you see how they obey my commands and perform my sacrifices in their time?  They do these things even though I do not lift the yoke of the Romans from their shoulders.  Is this not the faith of Job?"

And Satan said, "Yea, they do these things waiting in hopes of your promised Messiah.  But I say, if you send unto them a false Messiah...a man working great miracles who teaches them to turn the other cheek and to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and with the lie on his lips that the Covenant you made with Moses, which was to be an everlasting covenant throughout their generations has been 'fulfilled,' so that your laws and statues may now be ignored and all may eat and live as the Gentiles do, behold, thy people Israel will abandon the Covenant which you made with their forefathers, and shall join hand in hand with the Gentiles, and be turned aside to follow a false religion!"

And God said, "You're on!  Since you lost the bet on Job, want to go double or nothing?"

And Satan said, "Alright--on one condition: We destroy the Temple, and I get to tell the followers of the false Messiah that any Jews who do not follow him are of the 'synagogue of Satan,' and that they deserve to be persecuted.  And I want the false Messiah to look like an effeminate hippie."

And God said, "You got it."

And so it came to pass that "Christianity" was born.

Do you have any way to know that something like this isn't so?  That "Christianity" isn't just a test to see if people can be lead away from the truth of Judaism?

After all, it is written:
Quote
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

--Deuteronomy 18:21-22


By this standard, Jesus is a false prophet, since his claims that people living in his time (e.g. his disciples, the High Priest Caiaphas) would see his return, that he would come "soon," etc. 

The term "Antichrist" really means "anti-Messiah," since "Christ" is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew word "Messiah," meaning "anointed" (a concept derived from the fact that Israelite kings were anointed with oil as part of their coronation).

Now, the Jewish concept of the "Messiah" is that of a triumphant king, the Son of David, who would re-establish Israel and gather the people of Israel from the far corners of the world and restore them to the promised Kingdom.

And here we have "Jesus," clearly cast in the image of the dying and resurrecting Pagan godman (conceived by the union of a human woman with a god, works miracles/heroic feats, dies, rises again and ascends into the heavens), who, by an act of human sacrifice sets aside the "everlasting" Mosaic Covenant so that the true founder of Christianity--the Apostle Paul--can urge Jews to abandon Judaism and merge with Gentiles into a Hebrew-flavored Pagan Mystery Religion.  Nothing could be further from the Jewish concept of the Messiah!

So, Christians: How do you know that Jesus isn't the Antichrist?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 11:50:40 AM
Jesus Myth (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4296.msg70946#msg70946)

David Fideler's excellent book, Jesus Christ: Sun of God provides powerful evidence that the Gospels were mythic allegories.  He uses two of the more famous "miracle stories" (the "miraculous catch of fish" and "the feeding of the 5,000") to demonstrate that Jesus is the Solar Logos/Godman myth for the Piscean Age.  These stories are coded tales that contain gematria which can be used to construct geometric diagrams that reveal the Hellenistic cosmology.

The name "Jesus" (Iesous in Greek) doesn't sound a bit like the Hebrew "Yeshua" from which it is supposed to originate, but it does add up to 888 in Greek gematria.  888 is the number representing the whole tone in music, and it represents the "Logos" or mathematical proportion that mediates between the spiritual realm and the material realm.  This concept of the "Logos" was not invented by the writer of the Gospel of John.  It existed in Greek thought for centuries, but was associated in gematria with the Greek gods Zeus, Apollo, and Hermes.

Christianity replaces these with new concepts, e.g. Jesus as the Solar Logos, Cephas/Peter as the Omphalos/Stone representing the axis of the cosmos, etc..  Fideler spells this out in clear detail, showing how the Christians replaced the various Pagan gematria systems around the Greek gods (Apollo, Hermes, Zeus), Mithras, etc. with the Christian deity ("Christ," "Jesus") Christian heroes (e.g. Peter/Cephas), and Christian concepts ("Fishes" "the Net") to express symbolically and mathematically the nature of the Cosmos. 

The way these systems of gematria work make it seem as if "Jesus" and the Christian myth cycle is inscribed in the very nature of mathematics itself, just as it did for the Greek deities.  It's really quite brilliant.   These were the secret Mysteries of the Christian religion, which it lost when the Literalist Roman Church married itself to the Caesars and became an institution of power instead of a Mystery Religion seeking to lead initiates to direct experience of God via mystical states of consciousness.

Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy also provide a compelling case that the Gnostic Mystery Religion was the original Christianity in their books as well. 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 12:00:30 PM
Kcrady vs evangelist Donald Perkins via Skitch (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4543.msg71495#msg71495)

Quote from: Evangelist Donald Perkins, posted by Skitch

>snip<
Who created Hell?
Many today have a false idea about Hell. Some think that Satan created Hell and has control over it. But in fact, Satan did not create one flame in Hell. Hell was created by God. That's right, Hell is a creation of God! Are you surprised? Don't be. The Word of God declared that this place was prepared for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Many think that Satan will be down in Hell with a red suit and pitch fork in hand. Not so. In Hell Satan will suffer the judgment of God.

It's about time "Satan" stopped getting the blame for Hell.  It's the Biblegod's eternal Auschwitz oven, not his.

Quote from: Evangelist Donald Perkins, posted by Skitch
"And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever." - Revelation 20:10, Isaiah 14:9-19

God created Hell to destroy the rebellion of Satan and to put an end to sin. In the beginning, Hell was not created for man, but when man first sinned in the Garden of Eden, God had to accommodate man's fall. Hell was created to rid God's creation, (meaning God's heavens and the perfect earth,) of sin.

He had to do it!  Poor, omnipotent God just didn't have a choice!  Adam made him torment the vast majority of the human race for eternity because he ate a fruit!  This is a lot like an abusive husband and/or father saying "Don't make me beat you again!"  It's not his fault!  If his wife and kids would just respect his authoritah (like the Bible teaches) he wouldn't have to beat the crap out of 'em!

Quote from: Evangelist Donald Perkins, posted by Skitch
Hell is the eternal home of all sin and rebellion. Is Hell a place of pain? Today, it is taught that Hell is not a place of actual suffering. The reasoning behind this is that many do not want to believe that the God of love in which we serve would ever make a place of suffering such as this. But we will see that Hell is a place of sorrow, weeping, torture and torment. There are many who teach that when a person dies, without Christ, he goes to the grave and that's it. But not so. Those who die without Christ will face the wrath of God in the pains of Hell.

Notice that this author does not attempt to provide an explanation of how a "God of love" can want to torture people forever because they didn't grovel before him in the right way.  The obvious answer is to teach that God is hate, too.  That passage in Isaiah where God says "I form the good and I create the evil" makes sense from this perspective.  God is not "pure goodness, love and light"--at least not without also being "pure evil, hate and darkness."  Taken as a whole, the Bible does not teach that God is an epitome of moral perfection.  It very clearly and blatantly attributes to him every vice as well as every virtue.  As the Book of Job makes especially clear, the Bible teaches that God is simply pure power and domination, unrestrained by anything whatsoever

I've had Christians accuse me of becoming an atheist so I could do evil things without fear of divine punishment.  But if I ever wanted to really turn to the Dark Side and build an evil empire that would strike fear into the hearts of humanity, I would become a Christian and preach the Biblegod as he is, not as generally nice people (i.e. most Christians) wish he was.  There is no possible atrocity for which I could not provide Biblical sanction.     

Quote from: Evangelist Donald Perkins, posted by Skitch
Luke 16:19-31, The Rich man and Lazarus

>snip<

There are some who would call this account a parable, thus trying to explain the suffering of the rich man in more symbolic terms. But I submit to you that in this account, Jesus, used real people not ficticious ones. He spoke of father Abraham, Moses and the Prophets, none of these men are ficticious. This is not a parable. This is a real account of a man in Hell! Here are other Scriptures that declare the truth about the pains of Hell.
  In fairness to the "parable view," the Apostle Paul uses Sarah and Hagar as allegories for Christianity and Judaism (the "free" wife vs. the "slave" wife), and they're "real historical figures"...or are they?

An argument against this passage being literal could be the "fact" that the Last Judgment has not taken place, hence the condemnation of the wicked to Hell has not happened yet (and so, could not have happened in the story of the rich man and Lazarus).  Another example would be the repeated formula in the OT when a Hebrew king (good or bad) died:  "And [king's name] went to rest with his fathers, and [next king] reigned, and did [good/evil] in the sight of the Lord].  Since death is portrayed as a "rest" even for "bad" kings, this would seem to rebut the idea of hellish torment as a present reality.  Also, the various references in the Book of Ecclesiastes to the effect that "the dead know nothing" and so forth could be seen as opposing the idea of the dead as presently conscious.

Another good question is, if Abraham can hold a conversation with a person suffering in Hell, then obviously the "good guys" could hear the other people screaming in torment.  Wouldn't that get bothersome after awhile?  I mean, even if you had no compassion on the suffering of people who are there because they happened to be born in some other place (e.g. North America or Austrlia at the time Jesus gave the parable) and never had a chance to grovel before God in the right way, wouldn't all that noise at least be annoying?  Or is delighting in the suffering of others one of the pleasures of Heaven?

Quote from: Evangelist Donald Perkins, posted by Skitch
>snip>

My friend, Hell, is not a comforting message. For so long, we have watered down this message. When our Lord preached Hell, He preached the agony and horror of this place.

So much for "Sweet Jesus meek and mild" and all of that nicey-nicey milquetoast Christianity, eh?  Wouldn't it be interesting to see a movie of Jesus angrily preaching some of this New Testament fire & brimstone...in German?  Maybe with some good marching music in the background, you know, something you can burn books to.  The Biblegod had this Will To Power stuff down, long before there was a Nietsche!

Quote from: Evangelist Donald Perkins, posted by Skitch
Hell is so horrible, that it caused Jesus to leave Heaven and come down to earth to die for us, so that we could miss such a place. Hell's judgments will never burn out! Such watered down teaching takes away the desired result that God wants this message to have. Hell is an eternal place, and the flames of Hell are eternal also. Here's proof:

* Mark 9: 43-48 "...and the fire is not quenched." * Matthew 18:8 "...to be cast into everlasting fire."
* Matthew 25:41 "...Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" * Matthew 25:46 "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment..." * Revelation 20:10 "...and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever."

* Revelation 14:10, 11 "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night." * Isaiah 66:24 "...neither shall their fire be quenched;"

* II Thessalonians 1:7-10 "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord,..."

Man in his wisdom and reasoning tries to explain away the judgment of God. But, if God can cause a bush to burn and not be consumed like he did in Exodus?, and God can place a sun in space to give us light and warmth, surely He has the power to keep Hell burning for eternity, and cause those who rebel to burn forever.

Man, this stuff is great!  God can't heal an amputee, but by Jingo, he's got the powah to torture people forever!  Wait...maybe God doesn't heal amputees because that's too wimpy, compassionate and liberal.  I mean, if he just went around healing to show off his love, everybody'd think he was gay. 

To be more serious, have you Chirstians ever really thougt about what it actually means to say that Hell is eternal?  Hell is a reflection of God's wrath, its fires an ongoing manifestation of his directly-applied power (otherwise the flames would run out of fuel and oxygen).  Which means: God will always be angry.  Which means: God will never, ever be at peace in his own heart.  What does this say about his own level of spiritual development?

Quote from: Evangelist Donald Perkins, posted by Skitch

Who goes to Hell?

The Word of God gives us the answer to this question in such detail that there should be no doubt as to who goes to Hell.

* The wicked (Psalm 9:17). * The harlot or prostitute (Proverbs 7:5-27, 9:13-18, 2:18). * Those with a lack of knowledge (Isaiah 5:13, 14). *

That's right folks!  You can go to Hell for the sin of lacking omniscience, or at least psychic powers.  If you happen to lack the right item of knowledge--say, by never having heard of it, or not knowing that it should be classed as "knowledge" (i.e. honestly thinking it isn't true).
Quote from: Evangelist Donald Perkins, posted by Skitch

Those that have transgressed against God (Isaiah 66:24)
* The fearful,

The fearful?  The fearful?!  You can go to Hell for being scared?  After the Biblegod goes to so much trouble to threaten and terrorize us, he'll then condemn people for being afraid?  Maybe he's talking about cowardice here--so if you don't march bravely off to war in the name of the Prince of Peace, then, that's right: you're a shrimp on God's barby.

So: Why is there a single able-bodied member of the Religious Right who is not in uniform joining the divinely-appointed Holy Crusade against the Infidels in Iraq?  What, are ya chicken? 

Quote from: Evangelist Donald Perkins, posted by Skitch
unbelieving, abominable, idolaters, murderers, sorcerers and all liars (Revelation 21:8).

Yep.  Sorcery is real!  No wonder Chrisians are scared of Harry Potter!  I mean, a kid could pick up a stick, wave it around and say something in Latin, and turn somebody into a toad! 

Of course "unbelieving" is another reason to be tortured forever.  Though, ironically, if we saw more working sorcery, there would probably be less atheism... :)

However, to me the most striking thing about the doctrine of Hell in the Bible is what a mentioned a bit earlier:

Have you Chirstians ever really thougt about what it actually means to say that Hell is eternal?  Hell is a reflection of God's wrath, its fires an ongoing manifestation of his directly-applied power (otherwise the flames would run out of fuel and oxygen).  Which means: God will always be angry.  Which means: God will never, ever be at peace in his own heart.  What does this say about his own level of spiritual development?

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 02:58:14 PM
Hiddeness of god  Part 1 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4569.msg71718#msg71718)

Quote from: KevinH
As a Christian, I think this is an excellent question. Among others, it brings up these issues:

1). The Problem of Evil (How can God and evil co-exist coherently?)

2). The Hiddeness of God (Why isn't God more obvious?)

3). Christ's Teaching on Prayer (What is the full context of his teaching?)

Notice that all these are internal questions. That is, they assume the God of Christian Theism. In fact, "Why won't God heal amputees"? is an internal question given one's belief in Christianity.

Not so.  What these sort of questions ask is, "If X exists, why do we not see effect Y, which we would if X existed, based on the description given by proponents of X."  Let's say I proposed the existence of a new sub-atomic particle called the "khion" that would split off from a U-235 atom when it was hit by a high-energy proton.  Then, physicists set up a particle accelerator with a U-235 target and fire protons at it, and no khions appear.  These physicists would be fully entitled to ask "Why won't khions split off from U-235 atoms?" without accepting the existence of khions.  I could hardly argue that their question was an "internal" matter that only made sense if one accepted khion theory as true.

The "God theory" proposes the existence of an omnipotent trans-cosmic entity who allegedly works "miracles," i.e. causes events that do not result from instances of generalized operating principles of Universe (what we sometimes mistakenly call "laws" of physics).  Asking "Why won't God heal amputees" is simply a way of pointing out a certain fact that is inconsistent with the "God theory."
Quote from: KevinH
I not only think that the Christian Faith is supported evidentially, I think there are good answers to these good questions.  Obviously, I will need to be brief.

1). The Problem of Evil does not disprove God. It just may be that God has sufficiently moral purposes for allowing evil. It may be that God is allowing evil to run its course in the process of destroying it. In fact, this is the biblical testimony. Free will allows the potential for evil. Free will is important enough to God for him to have given it, fully knowing the evil that would result.

Given how incomparably vicious "God" is portrayed as being in the Bible (e.g. ordering all manner of war-crimes and atrocities in the OT and threatening everlasting torture in the NT), the existence of good is a greater conundrum than the existence of evil.  The Ebola virus dissolving the flesh of a child--perfectly consistent with the existence of Biblegod.  The beauty of women, kittens, the Hubble Deep Field and orgasms?  Much more troublesome!
Quote from: KevinH
2). God is an immaterial being who desires personal relationship with us, the objects of his creation. Being the God of the universe, he knows how to best reveal himself in order to best facilitate a filial relationship with us.

Then the very existence of atheism--not to mention the belief among Christians that the vast majority of people are said to be headed for Hell ("broad is the way that leads unto damnation, but narrow is the way that leads to salvation") indicates failure; hence no omniscience (God "knowing best" how to relate to us) and omnipotence (God being able to implement his knowledge successfully).  Therefore, the "God theory" is falsified.
Quote from: KevinH
This entails that God apparently is not as interested in us knowing he exists as he is us knowing him on a personal level. Mere knowledge of his existence does not necessarily garauntee our humble love relationship with God (even "the demons believe - and tremble").

How, exactly, can you know him on a personal level if you don't know he exists?  The first is a precondition for the second.  Interestingly, Christians here have been claiming that proof of God's existence would "violate free will" (since faith would not be necessary to accept that he exists), now you're saying that proof of his existence would basically have no effect--that proof of God's existence would not convince anyone that he existed.  Proof works for neutrinos and black holes, why not for God?

To Be Continued...
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:06:05 PM
Hiddeness of god  Part 2 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4569.msg72132#msg72132)

Part Two...
Quote from: KevinH
This entails that God apparently is not as interested in us knowing he exists as he is us knowing him on a personal level. Mere knowledge of his existence does not necessarily garauntee our humble love relationship with God (even "the demons believe - and tremble").

Why, exactly, does a trans-cosmic superduperbeing so incredibly vast, powerful, etc. etc. that he can create tens of billions of galaxies full of stars and planets on a whim, need humility and subservience from us?  What could any number of human slaves possibly offer such a being?  It is very easy to see why an iron age king, a 19th Century Confederate plantation owner, or a modern dictator would need lots and lots of obedient minions.  Having such minions gives them wealth and power they could not have otherwise.  The Iron Age king could never build palaces and temples and giant statues of himself without them.  The 19th Century slaveowner could never harvest all that cotton himself, or maintain his palatial home and lavish standard of living with only his own strength and effort.  The modern dictator could not have his war machine without millions of obedient citizens to provide the tanks and the soldiers to man them.

So what does God need, that humble, unconditionally obedient human slaves can provide for him?  If he is really as powerful as his propaganda claims, what can a few puny humans offer him that he needs so badly he'll torture them forever if he doesn't get it?
Quote from: KevinH
Secondly, the biblical record shows that big flashy "special effects" miracles such as sea-partings only go so far in promoting relationship God desires. Miracles, in fact, are rare in biblical history and tend to come in clusters in association with specific revelation for crucial periods.

This is the common "one-off premise" Christians assume with regard to miracles.  It goes something like this:  "If God were to heal an amputee, you'd all just say, 'Meh.  That's just an anomaly.  Who knows what caused it?'  So God doesn't heal amputees because he knows you guys would disbelieve anyway."  And it's true.  It's very difficult to establish the existence of any phenomenon on the basis of a single, one-off event.  The same principle applies to one really good UFO photograph or one really baffling NDE or poltergeist account.  When scientists set out to understand reality, they look for patterns--repeated or repeatable events that make it possible to discover a generalized operating principle of Universe.  A one-off "WTF?!?!" anomaly like fish raining from the sky or claims that thousands of people saw the sun swoop around the sky at Lourdes doesn't really offer the prospect of learning anything new about reality, except perhaps, that sometimes weird stuff happens, or at least seems to.

However, if God existed and behaved in any non-random manner, then a generalized operating principle could be discovered that required and included his existence.  Take James 5:16:
Quote
Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.


This is from a letter to a church, so it's not something that only applies to Jesus' disciples.  Now, if such prayer really did "availeth much," and it only worked for the "righteous" (e.g. non-heretical Christians who are "right with God") then there would be a definite statistical correlation between anomalous healings/cures and devout practice of a certain brand of Christianity.  This, in turn, would indicate that these Christians were on the right track regarding their understanding of God.  If intense prayer in a collective setting worked about equally well for all religions (e.g. the prayer of a Hindu sage, Muslim Imam, etc. "availeth much" as well as that of the Elders of a devout Christian church) then we might explain it differently--say, in terms of a God that embraces all religions, as each "different deity" is just one of his/her masks, or in terms of psi powers inherent in the human being.  If intense prayer in a collective setting does not "availeth" anything noticeable for anybody, regardless of religion (as seems to be the case), then the generalized operating principle would appear to be that there are no gods or other Mysterious Forces that respond to prayer.
Quote from: KevinH
But Jesus said that even if someone "comes back from the dead" there will be those who will not believe.

Again, you're talking about a one-off here, namely the idea of one guy (the "rich man" of the parable) making an apparition to his brothers.  But what if necromancy worked?  What if anybody could get a ouija board, meditate a little, and watch the planchette float across from letter to letter spelling out communications from the dead?  Obviously, if whenever the user sought a non-Christian (or a heretical Christian), and the messages consistently came out something like, "Oooooh, it hurts, it hurts!  Please, if you value your soul, listen to [members of the "right" Christian sect]!" people would believe in that brand of Christianity.  Especially if they could also consult the dear departed and devout pastor of ["right" Christian sect's church] and hear him describe the bliss of Heaven, the wonderful conversation he had with the Apostle Paul yesterday, and so on.

People would derive generalized operating principles of the afterlife.  It would be obvious who among the dead were joyous, and who were in torment.  Maybe you'd have a few liars, people in Hell trying to trick humans to their doom out of spite, but then they'd be the odd one-offs that no one would take seriously. 
Quote from: KevinH
And the Pharisees could not refute Christ's goodness and miracles, they just rationalized that they were "of the Devil".

Again, this is something of a one-off: one guy who can (supposedly) work astounding miracles.  Except that there were other examples--they just did not follow a pattern (i.e. only "true followers of Jesus" can work miracles).  The other miracle-working godmen the Pharisees would have been familiar with included Pagan Greek sages like Apollonius of Tyana (an alleged contemporary of Jesus), Simon Magus, or legendary miracle-workers like Orpheus, Dionysus, Bacchus, Pythagoras, Hermes Tresmagistus, Pharaoh Nectanebo, or the Egyptian magician Djedi whose feats included the ability to resurrect a goose after reattaching its severed head.1 

Given the company Jesus was in (following in the footsteps of legendary Pagan wonder-workers) and his non-standard teachings (e.g. repealing the Sabbath Law, which was so serious for Moses that picking up sticks on a Saturday was a capital offense enforced by stoning to death), the idea that he might be a deceptive magician actually made sense.  Let's say you started hearing stories of a young woman who went around working miracles claiming to be the Only Begotten Daughter of God, and teaching new ideas that contradicted your church's concept of orthodoxy (Say, she said something like "Truly I say unto you, God is too big a target to miss, and His love is too powerful to fail!  Just as He could not fit within Solomon's Temple, neither can She fit within only the Christian Church; but indeed, God will meet you wherever you turn, for God will wear whatever mask you need to see.  Look under a rock and you shall find Him; chop wood, and there She is.").  No matter what miracles she worked, you would reject her, perhaps even cheer as the forces of orthodoxy killed her.  Rumors that she rose from the dead afterward would likely prove unpersuasive.

However, an ongoing pattern--the ability of believers in religion X to generate a consistent effect that believers in other religions could not produce--such as a statistically-measurable correlation between prayers for healing when the procedures outlined in the Book of James were followed--would provide compelling support for that religion's claims.

Furthermore, it should be noted that there are considerable problems with the notion that Jesus' miracles (or those of Apollonius of Tyana, et. al.) actually happened as literal historical events.  Just taking the "Feeding of the 5,000" as an example, that miracle alone would have produced thousands of eyewitnesses who would have excitedly told their tale to anyone who would listen, passed it down to the grandkids, etc.  The Gospel of John claims that Jesus worked so many miracles that "the whole world could not contain the books" needed to record them (John 21:25).  Consider the fact that Roman Judea sat on the strategic crossroads and trade routes linking Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Thousands of literate people lived there at the time.  It was right next door to the greatest center of learning and inquiry in the world at the time--Alexandria, Egypt.  Alexandria also had a large and prosperous Jewish community responsible for the translation and preservation of the Septuagint (the translation into Greek of the Hebrew Bible).  Philo of Alexandria was a noted writer living in the time Jesus was supposed to have lived and worked his miracles, and he wrote about other events and religious/spiritual developments taking place in Judea at the time. 

If there was really a wonder-working God-man performing astounding feats like feeding thousands from a lunchbox, controlling weather, healing people by the thousands and so on, it would have been the most noteworthy and important thing going on in the world at the time.  Accounts by Christian and non-Christian sources would have been ubiquitous.  The Roman Empire would have needed to produce an "official spin" and distribute it widely in hopes of dispelling the notion that the Jewish Messiah had arrived.2

The Jewish and Herodian elite would have had to produce and distribute a rebuttal ("he's a Satanic magician!").  Any efforts at censorship and suppression of the Jesus movment would have been reported by writers like Josephus, and perhaps bragged about in Roman monuments and inscriptions ("And Pilate put down the insurrection of the diabolical Jewish magician Yeshua in the days of Tiberius Caesar, upholding the strength of Roma Aeterna.").  To use words attribtued to Jesus, "A city on a hill cannot be hidden."  All those thousands and thousands of eyewitnesses--traders and pilgrims and seekers of wonder from all over the known world (see the Pentacost narrative in the Book of Acts) would have returned to their homes with tales of the great Jewish God-man.  Even if they ended up being wildly distorted and exaggerated, they would provide lots of corroborating testimony to the historicity of Jesus.  Wherever Christian missionaries went, they would have found Jesus-cults founded by eyewitnesses to miracles, or people who heard the stories fourth-hand. 

Instead, we have a deafening silence punctuated only by a bad forgery (the "Testimonium Flavium") and responses to Christian belief after it had already become popular.  "But no Jesus movement would have ever arisen if not for a real, miracle-working Christ!"  Not so.  Mithraism, a Mystery Religion centered on a mythical Persian3 God-man (whose "biography" matches that of "Jesus" in several important details) rose to great prominence in the Roman Empire in the Third Century, receiving the patronage of several Roman Emperors, just as Christianity would a century later.

More To Come...


NOTES:

1. After demonstrating this feat at the command of Pharaoh Khufu (the one who had the Great Pyramid built), Djedi courageously refused to perform it with a human slave--having one's head chopped off would surely be a traumatic experience even if the sage could restore him or her to life!

2.  There were Jewish communities in important cities throughout the Roman Empire.  A widespread Jewish insurrection including "terrorist" acts (or "guerrilla resistance" if you prefer) in Judea and these communities would have presented considerable problems for the Empire.

3.  It should be noted that at the time of Mithraism's rise to popularity, Persia was an enemy of the Roman Empire, just as the Jews were during the rise of Christianity.  In other words, the "unlikelihood" of the rise of Christianity is equalled by the "unlikelihood" of the rise of Mithraism, yet no one asserts this as proof of a real, historical Mithras.

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:13:47 PM
Hiddeness of god  Part 3 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4569.msg72137#msg72137)

And Now, the Exciting Conclusion!
Quote from: KevinH
Thirdly, God has revealed himself in ways that cannot be faked. The atheist Carl Sagan suggested God put a "glowing cross" in the sky and settle the issue once and for all. The problem is, the glowing cross could always be attributed to natural phenomena, a NASA experiment, a hoax, a marketing ploy, or even aliens!

After a while, the glowing cross would be no more remarkable that the full moon. And generations born after the appearance of the cross would be so accustomed to it, it would have little transformative power.


On what do you base this assumption?  If "atheist Carl Sagan" cited such a thing as a proof he would accept, why do you assume no one else would accept it?
Quote from: KevinH
The issue is, God has done so much better! "The heavens declare the glory of God...and give knowledge" (Psalm 19). We don't need a "glowing cross", we have glowing stars! God has revealed himself in nature, in the human heart, in the Scriptures, and most fully in Jesus Christ.

The heavens are magnificent, but they do not validate the existence of the Christian god (as opposed to the Muslim god, the Deist god, the Hindu gods, etc.).  If anything, they're far too grand and glorious to be the work of a barbaric, jealous, petulant sky-king who needs the worship, praise, and obedience of the creatures inhabiting one little planet out of tens of billions of galaxies with hundreds of billions of stars in each, which have existed over a great span of at least 15 billion years (in contrast to the mere 4,000 years or less of Abrahamic religion).
 
"Most fully in Jesus Christ?"  Given the complete lack of historical evidence for a literal Jesus outside of the mythicised tales of a tiny upstart cult written decades after the events by unknown writers, that is tantamount to a claim of God's non-existence!
Quote from: KevinH
Fourthly, God's giving of the Comforter - The Holy Spirit - is God's great gift to those who seek him. The Holy Spirit's ministry and indwelling does more than any miracle or philosophical proof for God (though there is great value to both).


What effects does this have?  Anything at all that can be detected, e.g. a statistically measurable increase in happiness, health, family stability, rejection of criminal behavior, etc. for Christians or some particular (the "right") variant of Christianity?
Quote from: KevinH
Bottom line: imposing his existence on us via astounding "parlor tricks" is ultimately counter-productive to our free-will filial relationship with God.


Urrrr?  You just spent the last few paragraphs explaining how such "parlor tricks" would have no effect since no one would choose believe in God anyway, now you say they would violate our free will?  Which is it?
Quote from: KevinH
He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
In other words, if you accept his existence a priori and "diligently seek" to convince yourself, you'll succeed.  Well, that works just as well for any other belief system you could possibly name.  If you "diligently seek" Buddhist Enlightenment through meditation, or union with Brahmin through yoga, or "the Conversation of your Holy Guardian Angel" through "diligent" practice of Ceremonial Magick, I can assure you you'll "find" it.  An adherent of any religion that exists now or has ever existed will tell you the exact same thing. 
Quote from: KevinH
3). Jesus' teaching on prayer is specific to his disiciples, through whom he established his church, and general to all believers. His instruction to "ask anything in my name and I will do it" coupled with "pray according to God's will" gives a full-orbed theology on prayer. Namely, God does not give us everything we desire nor does he allow himself to be tested in this area.


That ought to be a dead giveaway right there.  "This is a great car, it'll last you for years--but don't take it for a test drive!"  "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"   
Quote from: KevinH
When they thrust a man at Jesus who was deaf and unable to speak, "he took him away from the crowd" before healing him (Mark 7). God is not a circus.

You know, all of this spin-control would be totally unnecessary if not for the three-ring lion-taming (Daniel) ocean-parting (Moses) Sun-stopping (Joshua) water-walkling (Jesus) Earth-shaking (earthquake at Jesus' alleged crucifixion) Big Top extravaganza the Bible regales us with.  So God doesn't work miracles nowdays.  OK, we get that.  So why would God do circus acts in the legendary past (carefully insuring that no corroborating historical evidence exists, e.g. evidence of Egypt being laid waste by Moses, evidence of Joshua's conquest of Canaan, etc.) if he really hates this whole miracle business anyway and wants us to believe on faith alone, or because of an inner mystical experience of the Holy Spirit, or the profundity of Jesus' and Paul's teachings, etc.?

If God wanted a no-miracle relgiion, why not "inspire" a no-miracle Bible?  Buddhism does just fine without Cecil B. Demille circus-trick miracles.  Maybe there are some legends of Buddha-miracles (I don't know of any), but Buddha's teachings are far more prominent in Buddhism than "Buddha miracle stories"1
Quote from: KevinH
Finally, it may well be that God has healed amputees in history but I do not know of any. But I can only speculate as to God's purposes. I suggest that one consideration is the burden the recipient of such an astounding miracle would bear, along with those who witnessed it. What I mean is, an overwhelming, overt miracle could well be difficult to assimilate. Daily life could become mundane or a state of bliss could ensue preventing the person from daily function.


Yet another fine reason for God to have refrained from pulling stunts like the Exodus, or Jesus walking on water or the Resurrection.  Obviously these must be metaphors rather than real events!2
Quote from: KevinH
Buzz Aldrin, one of the first men on the moon, recalls the depression and dysfunction resulting in such an historic adventure. Everything in his life so paled in comparison to the moon landing that it almost destroyed his life.

On the other hand, Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced his journey as a wonderful awakening that lead him to found the Institue for Noetic Sciences in order to study the deep and mysterious aspects of consciousness (e.g. psi, etc.).  What's your point?


NOTES:


1.  Compare this with the prominence of miracle-stories in Christianity, e.g. Noah's Ark, the walls of Jericho, etc..

2.  See David Fideler's book Jesus Christ: Sun of God for a fascinating explanation of how the "Feeding of the 5,000" is actually a code-story that generates a geometric diagram of mystical cosmology by employing gematria and sacred geometry.  Likewise for the story of "the Miraculous Catch of Fish" in which the seemingly meaningless mention of the number of fish caught--153--encodes the sacred geometry of the vescica piscis (Sign of the Fish, from which the "Jesus fish" is derived).  Take two circles of equal diameter and interlink them so that one circle's edge crosses the center of the other.  Between them is formed the vescica piscis, with a height-to-width ratio of 153:256, from which, via standard geometric construction techniques, all of the significant geometric Forms can be created (triangle, square, pentagon, the Platonic polyhedra, etc.).  In the Hellenistic cosmology of the day, these "Forms" represented the blueprints of the cosmos.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:16:36 PM
Hiddeness of god, rebuttal (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4569.msg72157#msg72157)

KevinH, you have offered four "principles" by which we are supposed to be able to discover the truth of Christianity:

1)  Humility: we must approach the issue with an attitude of submission.

2)  Do not seek to validate or falsify the beliefs (i.e. don't "test" God).

3)  A priori acceptance.  We have to accept the truth of Christianity first, then we'll have it "confirmed" for us (see #1 and #4)

4)  "Diligently seek" the Christian God.


If you apply these four "principles" to any other religion (say, Islam), I can guarantee you that you'll end up a believer in that religion.  If it doesn't work right away, I'll just say you're not "humble" or "diligent" enough.  And if you point out some absurdity, like Mohammed's flying horse, or something awful like Mohammed marrying a 9-year-old girl, I'll remind you of #2 and again point out that you're not being humble (who are you to question the Prophet of Allah?) or diligent (giving up so soon?  Have you made the Hajj yet?) enough.

These "principles" of yours will work to induce belief in anything if they're applied consistently enough.  Can you say "con job?"   
 
 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:23:11 PM
Proof there is no god. (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4665.msg73994#msg73994)

I'm willing to take a swing at your challenge, PM.  However, I do need you to specify what you are talking about when you say the word "God," i.e. what concept it is you want us to falsify.  Unfortunately, "God" is one of the most badly abused words in our language.  The "God" of Thomas Aquinas is very different from the "God" of Thomas Paine.  Most of the atheists here would probably not have much of a problem with the "God" of Baruch Spinoza, Einstein, or Buckminster Fuller.  On the other hand, that concept of "God" does not star in Cecil B. Demille epics, dictate books, save souls, demand faith (or anything at all), start churches or ashrams, etc., and would thus please few people of faith.

Since there are so many different and contradictory interpretations of the word "God" it is necessary to specify what you're talking about before it is even possible to discuss the subject.  Until you define your understanding of "God" (and of necessity it is your "God"-concept, and not Jerry Falwell's or Sai Baba's that we are being challenged to disprove), the word "God" is a cognitive blank.  It is not possible to prove that "Unie" does not exist until we have an agreed-upon understanding of what a "Unie" is supposed to be.

One more thing to bring up, is the fact that it is impossible to prove a universal negative.  I will agree with you that we cannot prove that a "God" is not orbiting Arcturus or hidden in the heart of a quasar 12 billion light-years away.  But then, believers cannot disprove that another "God" is not orbiting Tau Ceti, and another one hiding in the core of Jupiter, and another one snuggled deep in the Eagle Nebula, and so on.

In order to have a meaningful discussion of "God" (or anything else) there must be some positive claims to address.  For example, the "God" of the Bible is portrayed doing all sorts of things here on Earth within the period of written history.  Those represent positive claims we ought to be able to investigate and validate or falsify, or at the very least, assign some sort of "probability of truth" to.  Many things are not easily placed in the "absolutely true" or "absolutely false" categories.  The existence of Dark Matter as a major component of the universe, the extent to which aspirin prevents heart attacks, whether there is extraterrestrial intelligence...some of these things seem pretty likely to be true, but they do not rise to the level of certainty as, say, the roundness of the Earth.  So, it is possible that we could arrive at a conclusion like, "Based on this evidence, there is some chance that God, defined as [definition here] exists," and maybe we could assign some estimated probability.

If you wish us to falsify the existence of "God" (demonstrate that the probability of existence is zero or so close to zero that there is no practical difference), then you need to specify what (i.e. what concept of "God") and what positive claims about "God" we are to falsify.  Atheism is a default position, like a-dragonism, a-faerieism, etc..  Every infant is born an atheist--that is, someone who lacks a belief in a god.  Atheism: A- "without," theism "belief in a god."  You are asking us to substantiate the "strong atheist" position (the belief that there are no gods).  Which, again gets back to the question, "What to you mean by 'god?'"

If a "god" is anything that is astoundingly super-powerful to us, then an alien a few hundred years ahead of us technologically would qualify as a "god," and hopefully such beings exist.  If they do, that means intelligent life is not inherently self-exterminating, and so we have hope. :)

Regarding the use of the Bible, I think it can be used as evidence for and against, "Exhinit A," if you will.  The problem we have is that some theists merely cite Bible passages as if the absolute truth of the Bible were an axiom.  I consider the Bible to be functionally equivalent to the original newspaper account of the Roswell UFO crash1.  The newspaper is real evidence that the Roswell Army Airfield issued a press release announcing the recovery of a crashed "flying disc."  The "weather balloon" account that came out shortly afterward is also real evidence.  The various claims of alleged eyewitnesses are also evidence.  In evaluating the likelyhood that an extraterrestrial spaceship actually crashed at Roswell, we have to evaluate this evidence in the light of external evidence--e.g. (AFAIK) the lack of evidence for an impact site, the lack of material evidence for the extraterrestrial craft2 or alien bodies, the complete absence of whistleblowers or any of the hundreds or perhaps thousands of people who would have had to be involved in a cover-up (e.g. the soldiers who loaded up the crashed saucer and bodies, all of the people who would have examined these things since, etc.) and compare the efficacy of the alleged cover-up with that of other known cover-ups such as Watergate.

In the case of the Bible, its accounts propose what amounts to a full-on extraterrestrial invasion--parting seas, nations laid waste by miraculous power (e.g the 10 Plagues of Egypt, the conquest of Canaan), the stories of Jesus' astounding miracles and of cosmic events surrounding his crucifixion (the "great earthquake," the "darkness that covered the face of the Earth," the people emerging from their graves like Night of the Living Dead).  We can examine these biblical accounts, set out to determine when and under what circumstances they were written, etc. (i.e. taking the Bible as evidence), but then we also need to look at external evidence (or lack of same) such as the writings of people who would have witnessed or known about such events if they'd happened.  For example, the Egyptians would have known that their country had been destroyed around them, their Pharaoh and his army killed, and they would have had to deal with the effects, such as mummifying and burying all those dead firstborn children.  There would be evidence of this if it had happened.

So I reject the idea that "You can't use the Bible!"  On the other hand, you can't use the Bible as if it were sufficient proof in itself, because it's the Bible ("Of course there's a God!  Genesis 1:1 says 'In the beginning, God.'  CHECKMATE!!!").

Do these "ground rules" make sense to you as a basis for discussion of "God's" existence?

NOTES:

1. Though in comparison with that newspaper account, the Bible is weaker evidence, because it was written down long after the alleged events it relates, has gone through a long process of copying-of-copies, revision, redaction, and multiple translations into new languages, unlike the Roswell newspaper story.

2.  One of the alleged Roswell eyewitnesses claims to have seen and handled a box full of alien ship-parts his father (a solder at the RAAF) brought home, including an I-beam shaped piece with alien glyphs written on it, and a mysterious silvery material that could not be cut, could be crumpled in the hand, but would fold back out showing now creases.  I know that if I had been a little boy in that position, I would have wanted some small piece of it more than anything in the whole world.  Heck, as I grownup I would.  And, since it was a box of stuff that had not been inventoried, nobody would have been the wiser if I (either in the boy's shoes or his dad's) pinched one little piece of alien super-technology.  Maybe they were such Red-Blooded Americanstm that they patriotically made sure the Proper Authorities got every single scrap, but I find that a bit hard to believe.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:26:25 PM
photo of Kevin Crady and astronaut Anousheh Ansari

(http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y65/ptgalt/MeandAnoushehAnsari.jpg)
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:28:16 PM
Standard model of god 1 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4641.msg73064#msg73064)

Quote from: pastoralan
I'm a Christian pastor and church historian, and I've done a lot of theological reading.  One of my best friends, an atheist, pointed me to this site, an I read the Web page.   Now that I'm done, it seems to me that there's an obvious answer to "the question" that is completely consistent with the "Standard Model of God."

A: God does not reward or punish people in a consistent way.

This should be obvious if you consider point 5 of the Standard Model: "People believe that we have eternal life after death. When we die, people believe that our souls return to God in Heaven for eternity if we have accepted Jesus as our savior."

So our eternal fate isn't based on what we do, how much we love God or others, or anything else, but on "if we have accepted Jesus as our savior."  If you consider the fact that some people are born into societies where Christianity is widely taught, and others are brought up to learn that Christianity is a crock, it's obvious that the sole criteria of "accepting Jesus as savior" is wildly unfair.  In my experience, most Christians are not willing to go this far, and believe that God has some way to correct for culture so that everyone has the opportunity to choose life or death.  Even so, most Christian teachers have said that a person can live an externally good life of service to others and be damned, or live a terrible life and convert on their deathbed and be saved.  So even when you deal with salvation--which, according to the Standard Model, is infinitely more important than anything else--humans can't develop criteria that will determine who will be saved and who won't.

Given that eternal life is, for our purposes, arbitrary, why should it be any surprise that events on earth also unfold in an arbitrary manner?  You don't even have to talk about miracles to get this point--after all, God controls everything, so the real question isn't "why doesn't God heal amputees" but "why are there amputees in the first place?"  It's obvious that good things happen to bad people, and vice-versa--and you'll see this if you read Job, or the Psalms.  And even though you've put together a significant number of quotes from Jesus, you also note that Scripture as a whole doesn't give any indication that being a good Christian will get you out of suffering on earth.  In fact, the whole New Testament makes it clear that if you are a Christian, you should expect to be wading through crap the whole way through.  So my question is, "why do we get the idea that God would heal an amputee?"

Alan

I think that the reason is because for most people today, the "Standard Model" of God is based heavily on notions of sublime divine perfection that owe a lot more to Plato and Plotinus than anything that can be found in the Bible.  The Bible writers did not have any problem with the idea of an arbitrary god who acted like any other absolute monarch of their time.  See the Book of Job, the story of God killing tens of thousands of people in Jerusalem after he--or Satan, they're treated as interchangeable--caused David to take a census so he'd have an excuse to punish, Romans chapter 9, etc..

Due to the influence of Greek philosophy on Christianity[1]most Christians attempt to argue that all of those things "must" somehow be perfectly just, moral, etc. because God is perfectly good, moral, loving, etc.

However, the problem with an arbitrary or random god (that refrains from obvious, Cecil B. Demille special effects) is that it cannot be distinguished from a nonexistent god.  How do you tell the difference between a god that arbitrarily smites a devout follower's adorable child with leukemia and the child getting leukemia out of the unguided processes of nature?



 1.  Most of the best arguments or theism--the ontological arguments, the argument from the "First Cause," the "unmoved mover," etc. owe their origins to Pagan Greek philosophers, not devout Hebrew Prophets.  No Bible author makes any serious attempt to substantiate the existence of his god.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:32:49 PM
Standard model of god 2 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4641.msg75721#msg75721)

Quote from: pastoralan
I don't see that God acted "like any other monarch of their time."  The point of the Book of Job isn't that God punishes arbitrarily; it's that God is dealing with things that are beyond our comprehension.  I'd recommend On Job by Gustavo Gutierrez:  he points out two things about the book and God's answer that are vital.  First, Job expects that if he met God, God would crush and destroy him, and declare him guilty even though he was truly innocent--which is what a human ruler would do.  God doesn't do that.  He tells Job that Job can't possibly understand him, but he also affirms Job's innocence, and blesses Job (who said that God was behaving unfairly) while chastising Job's friends (who said Job must have deserved his punishment).

Problem with this theory is that God is not portrayed appealing to Mystery ("Well, Job, you see, I work in mysterious ways.  Incomprehensible to your puny human mind.  But you're good, so you'll get eaten last."), but to Power.  Starting in chapter 38, God provides a long "I am the Mighty Oz" rant, taunting Job because he can't control the climate and beat up giant monsters.  In a nutshell: "I can do whavever I want to you, puny human!!!"  This sentiment is echoed in Romans 9.  "Who are you O man, to answer back to God?"  If the Biblegod spoke in Zen-like koans and described relativisitc time dilation in obscure poetic language, then perhaps we could argue that he's not evil, just so incredibly alien that he doesn't grasp the idea that murdering someone's family and then torturing them to win a bet is not a nice thing to do.     
Quote from: pastoralan
Second, God spends a lot of time talking about his care for things that are outside the human world--the ostrich in the desert, the jackals, the stars, and so on.  God is making it clear that (unlike a despot) he cares for all things; his relationship to the world isn't just rulership, but concern.

So I do believe that God is good, loving, etc.  But that doesn't change the fact that the standard model of God defines a being who will not punish and reward people in a manner that we can reconcile with fairness.

Ummm...  How to say this politely....

A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walked into a bar.  The bartender looked at them and said, "What is this, a joke?"[1]
 
So I guess that's all I can say in reply to the above: What is this, a joke?

On the one hand, you claim that God is so utterly incomprehensible and alien that he apparently thinks replacing the family he murdered with a set of super-hot daughters is a great way to show "concern."  You admit that he is a ruler "who will not punish and reward people in a manner that we can reconcile with fairness."  In other words, he's either unjust, or he comes from a Lovecraftian dimension where triangles have five sides, and everything is so horrifyingly incompatible with the human mind that simply to see one of the meeping Things that dwell therein will drive one to utter madness--and being what he is, the Biblegod has a commensurately inhuman concept of "fairness."

Then you go on to claim he is "good, loving, etc."  By what standard?  If murdering a man's family and torturing him to see how much unjust suffering he will endure, for no apparent reason whatsoever beyond winning a bet with someone the "Standard Model" of God says is his mortal enemy is God's idea of "good, loving, etc." then it is obviously a very bizarre concept of "goodness" and "love."  So bizarre in fact that the most we can say is that all of the claims of God's goodness, love, justice and so on have no meaning in human terms.  Of course, it's love and goodness by the standards of R'lyeh, but in this dimension it's utterly demonic cruelty.
Quote from: pastoralan
Oddly enough, Stephen King summed it up pretty well: "faith isn't believing in God--faith is believing that God is sane."

How perfect!  To quote from the modern master of horror, saying that believing God is sane is an act of faith.  Any hint of reason would regard such a being--if it existed--as barking mad, and psychopathic to boot.  Why on Earth would you want to worship such an entity?  How can you stand up each Sunday in good conscience and tell other people to worship and serve The Thing That Should Not Be?  Sure, he loves you.  And he'll be happy to show you, by rending your mind and reducing you to gibbering insanity and torment...for eternity!

You expect an eternity of bliss spent with him.  But, by your own admission he is either A) insane, or B) so completely inhuman that his idea of "eternal bliss" need not match yours any more than his idea of "love and concern" ("It's OK Job, I'll give you a new set of kids.  That makes it all OK, right?  Oh, and now that you know you can't trust me not to inexplicably destroy your life and torment you on a whim, you'll feel much, much safer under my protection!  See!  I love you!") matches anything you could recognize.

In reference to God then, words like "love" "justice" and "concern" are emptied of all meaning.  They become empty sounds referring to "whatever inexplicable and usually brutal things God wants to do."  By your own admission, you cannot expect to find "love" "concern" "mercy" "justice" "goodness" "joy" or any of the other things God is supposed to provide you in response to your faith, love, and obedience.  For that matter, being as strange and utterly inhuman as he is, "love" "faith" "obedience" and so on, as understood by humans, are probably no more likely to be accepted by him as "love" "faith" and "obedience" than "killing your family and smiting you with boils" would be received by you as an act of goodness, love and concern--even if he did let you make some really sexy daughters afterward. 

In short: based on your claims about the inexplicable nature of your god, you have absolutely no way to know that what you understand as "faith in Jesus" or "love" or "obedience" will be understood and accepted by him as such.  And even if they are, you have no way to know that his concept of "eternal reward" represents something you would actually want.  For all you know, it could be worse than Hell.  Sure, you can have faith that he's sane.  And maybe he is, according to the way thing work in the Bizarro Dimension.  But it's pretty obvious from his behavior that "sane" by his standards is not in any sense "sane" by ours.  And you're planning on spending enternity basking in his presence!  Isn't that grand?

I understand it's your job, but still...can't you see what utterly absurd lengths you're going to in the attempt to rationalize the Biblegod's behavior?  Can't you see that if you applied this same "standard" of discernment to anything else whatsoever--say, the moral stature of Genghis Khan, Torquemada, the Marquis de Sade, or Stalin--that you would be able to declare them perfectly "good, loving, etc." too?  Can you name any conceivable atrocity this sort of rationalization could not excuse?

Can't you see that this sort of "thinking" can only serve the interests of the evil, at the expense of the good?[2]
 1.  Another poster posted this on a thread titled "Joke."  Don't remember who, but I found it funny.  Wish I'd thought of it. :)
 2.  No one would ever say Gandhi or Martin Luther King strove so hard for peace and nonviolence because they were incomprehensible beings and we mere mortals cannot judge their actions.  We call them "good" and leave it at that.  Only evil can benefit from the ultimate moral blank check.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:36:23 PM
Standard model of god 3 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4641.msg79892#msg79892)


Quote
I have one nitpick:  the Standard Model doesn't say that Satan is God's mortal enemy; in fact it doesn't say anything about Satan at all--and in Job, God and Satan are obviously not mortal enemies.
(I think I corrected the quote properly.  ~Screwtape)

Just curious, where do you get your concept of the "Standard Model" of God?  I thought you were referring to the theology accepted by the more "orthodox" variants of Christianity.  You're the first Christian I've met who does not think "Satan" is God's enemy.  Generally, he is conceived of as an evil rebel angel who is out to overthrow God's kingdom, or at least do as much damage as he can.  I do agree with you that the Book of Job (and the Hebrew Bible as a whole) portrays "Satan" as being on much friendlier terms with God than most Christians I know of would care to admit. 
Quote from: pastoralan
I don't think that you're reading Job 38-40 with sufficient care.  Consider Job 38:4-7 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?"  These are questions about knowledge, not power.

I don't see it that way.  God is bragging about how he oversaw Earth's architecture, while taunting Job because he wasn't there to do such things.  "I made the Earth!  Where were you, puny human?"  God is still bragging about his power, in this case his power as creator.  Besides, if this was about "knowledge," and (as you apparently believe) it was "inspired" by a superbeing actually responsible for Earth's existence, then it ought to at least be accurate.  Where is the Earth's "foundation?"  Where are the places where its dimensions were marked?  Where are the "footings" and the "cornerstone?"  Notice how his descriptions match those of an architect laying a flat foundation for a building.  It would take a lot of stretching and twisting to make this a description of creating a round Earth whose crust sits on hot liquid magma.

And before you go and say "It's poetry!  It's metaphor!" remember that you just claimed it represented "knowledge."

Quote from: pastoralan
Furthermore, the summary you give of the argument (climate and giant monsters) skips over huge sections about ostriches, donkeys, goats, deer, and plenty of other non-monstrous animals.  "I can do whatever I want" is not an accurate summary of God's reply.

The whole thing is a series of contrasts between God's claims of power and Job's relative weakness.  While God never comes out and says "I can do whatever I want," Job gets the picture, as is apparent in his response.
Quote from: pastoralan

You've passed by my original point, which is this:
Fairness is not one of the attributes of God according to the standard model.

Hmmm, you're the first Christian I've met who does not try to argue that God is "perfectly just."
Quote from: pastoralan
God is good, loving, and omnipotent, but God does not reward and punish people according to standards that are discernably fair.  God as described in the Bible does communicate about the human concept of fairness--and tells us, very clearly, that he's pitching it out the door.  God is good and loving, but not fair.  In fact, God's unfairness is a natural result of God's goodness and love.

You focus on "unfairness" as cruelty, when people get bad things they don't deserve.  But there's another side to unfairness--mercy or generosity, when people get good things that they don't deserve.  And if we start with the obvious fact that we didn't do anything to deserve anything we have, then the unfairness takes on a somewhat different appearance.  The way I see it, God's unfairness is the only thing that prevents God from unleashing Lovecraftian horror on us, because we certainly do a good job of unleashing it on each other.  So when I say that God is unfair, I say it with a sigh of relief--God is unfair, and so there is some hope that we won't be held responsible for the awful things we do to each other.

OK, so let's jettison the notion of God being fair.  How is it "good" or "loving" for God to murder a man's family and smite him with agonizing boils, as part of a bet with Satan?

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:41:48 PM
Standard model of god 4 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4641.msg86036#msg86036)

Quote from: pastoralan
kcrady
There's not much point in arguing about Job, because we've gotten to the root of the discussion already.  I'm acknowledging that God does not consistently reward people for doing good or consistently punish people for doing bad.  That doesn't mean God is unjust; it means that there's a gap between our standard of consistent reward and punishment and God's perfect justice.

Actually, I do not think God's "justice" is the only issue.  This also speaks to his ethics, i.e. his love, mercy, caring, etc..  He is portrayed murdering a man's family and torturing him—to win a bet.  Now, we have a choice here.  We can look at this and determine that God's "love" is as much of a lie as his "justice"[1] or we can do as you do--redefine the term to mean "whatever God does:"

"That doesn't mean God is unloving; it means that there's a gap between our standard of loving behavior and God's perfect love."

Taking the latter path renders all claims that God is "just" or "loving" meaningless.  We have no way to know what "justice" or "love" means in relation to God.  The words are emptied of content and applied to behavior that is capricious and cruel.  This is a kind of hypnotic trick in which we are supposed to gush with emotion at the idea of "God's perfect" love and justice, while closing our eyes completely to what he is actually portrayed doing.

It is interesting to compare this to the Genesis account.  God is said to have created humans and pronounced them "good" (i.e. complete, "perfect" as he intended them to be) even though they had no self-awareness (coudn't tell that they were naked) and lacked the knowledge of good and evil.  Notice that God does not teach Adam ethics--he simply gives him orders, promising him a comfy life and free fruit if he obeys.

It is the Serpent that makes it possible for humans to even understand the concepts of good and evil.  This, of course, is decried as "Original Sin."  In other words, God did not want good people--he wanted obedient people.  He wanted people who would obey regardless of whether his orders were good or evil, because they couldn't tell the difference.  We can see this quite clearly in the nature of the orders God is portrayed giving.  Often he tells his people not to love or show compassion.  In the OT we see the formula repeated, "Thine eye shall not pity them" when God tells his people to kill.  In the NT, Jesus tells his followers that if they do not hate their families, they are not worthy of him.

And, we see this reflected in your own posts.  You have found a way to completely shut down your faculty of distinguishing between good and evil when it comes to God.  If the Book of Job were in anybody else's mythology, say, written about Zeus or Odin instead of Yahweh, you would have no difficulty whatsoever in noting that it is evil to kill a man's family and torture him to win a bet.  If it was a human dictator killing and torturing to win friendly wagers with the chief of his secret police, you would grasp the evil of killing and torturing right away. 
Quote from: pastoralan
You made a really good point--if God's standards are alien to something as basic as "people should get what they deserve," why bother with God?  Isn't my God who is so alien that we can't have a relationship with it--or, worse, so alien that we can't predict what the consequences of our relationship with God might be?  If God is the way I describe, isn't our best bet to hope that it leaves us alone?

If that summarizes the point you've made so far, let's go forward with that.  If you'd like to correct my description of what you said, please do.

Alan

Again, "justice" and "people getting what they deserve" is only part of the issue.  You are also claiming that God is perfectly loving and merciful.  His behavior as portrayed in both Testaments of the Bible clearly contradicts any meaningful concepts of plain old ethical behavior, much less grandiose notions of "perfect love," "perfect justice" and the like. 
Quote
Isn't my God who is so alien that we can't have a relationship with it--or, worse, so alien that we can't predict what the consequences of our relationship with God might be?  If God is the way I describe, isn't our best bet to hope that it leaves us alone?

That is actually the most charitable way to look at it.  If you were sent as an ambassador a foreign culture that chose to give you their greatest honor--boiling you alive, slowly, so that your bones could then be gold-plated and placed in a temple and be revered as a symbol of your spirit liberated from the prison of flesh--perhaps you could accept that these people were not evil, just really, really weird.  That wouldn't change the fact that you'd be much better off not having been sent to have a relationship with them.

A simpler way to look at the God issue is to accept that if he existed, he would be, by any civilized standard, evil.
Quote
“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God.” 

--Thomas Paine Age of Reason, Part I, pp. 18-19
 
 1.  If there is one thing the Bible is absolutely clear on, it is the claim that God is "King of Kings and Lord of Lords," the ruler of the universe.  You have admitted that God's "justice" ("perfect" or otherwise) is not consistent.  He does not consistently reward the good and punish the bad in any way we can tell apart from random chance.  This is incompatible with any claim to govern.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 03:46:48 PM
On the ethics of tithing (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4779.msg77387#msg77387)

Quote from: Mark_W
Here's some jumbled thoughts, some of it paraphrased from the writings of Tolstoy (again). These ideas may fit in with Buddhism, and therefore may be atheist-friendly.

Before we act we must establish a relationship with world, and have a theory for life, some reason for doing the things that we do. Upon entering rational life, nobody can escape this establishing of some sort of relationship to everything and everyone around him or her. Most people, both “religious” and “scientific”*, organize their lives around a philosophy that we have a right to our lives and should therefore live for our happiness and the happiness of those close to us (friends and family) and, if possible, for the happiness of everyone else too. However, when we try to live for the happiness of ourselves and of those close to us, we find (if we don’t ignore the fact) that the worldly advantages we get can only be obtained by taking away from others. Also we realize that the more worldly advantages we acquire, the less they satisfy us and the more we desire for new ones. And the longer someone lives the more inevitable becomes the approach of death, destroying all possibility of worldly advantages. So this is an irrational way to live. The only way to true happiness and a rational life is through a process of self-renunciation, where you do not live for worldly advantages but for the good of everyone and devote your life to this cause. This is living solely to serve your conscience, as you know through experience and reason that living any other way will ruin true happiness, since you must live conscientiously for your heart to be at rest.

* The only question for true science is to determine how we should live; what should we do in life. Or, how to practically carry out what we have determined is the right thing to do.

I reject this notion of a zero-sum game.  Within the concept of the zero-sum game, other people are inherently one's enemies, and one only has a choice of preying on them or "serving" them--i.e. voluntarily offering oneself as their prey.  Their interests and yours are inherently in conflict.  Both paths within the zero-sum game contradict themselves.  If you seek your happiness by preying on others, you have no moral basis to oppose their desire to prey on you.  Thus, you are constantly at war with all of humanity.  Furthermore, as a "taker," you are immoral (within the altruist moral philosophy) and thus can only enjoy your pleasures guiltily.  This life of perpetual conflict does not lend itself to either stable, meaningful relationships (all those "others" you would relate to are your natural enemies) or inner peace (freedom from guilt or worry).  The best way to "make it" as a "taker" is through some variant of the morality of altruism: to convince all those others that their moral purpose is to serve you.  Examples: The Pope, any king.  However, this requires the enshrinement of the principle that the moral purpose of the individual is to serve others, which is the very principle you violate--hence, the hypocrisy.

On the other hand, the altruist who seeks to serve others also contradicts himself.  If poverty is inherently moral (i.e. it's proof you're a giver not a taker--see Jesus' teachings on economics), then why would you seek to enrich others (even a little) by giving to them?  In order for you to give, someone else has to receive.  In order to make the moral virtue of giving possible, the moral vice of taking must exist.  Thus, the purpose of the good is to serve the evil.  And what sort of "goodness" is that?  Christianity sought to resolve this dilemna by decoupling the process of giving from any results in would-be recipients.

For example, in the story of the Widow's Mite, Jesus praises a woman who gives away her last penny to the Temple, saying that she gave "more" than all the rich guys who showed off by dropping in bags of gold and blowing shofars (ram's horn trumpets).  Now, if results (i.e. actually helping the poor) mattered, then obviously the rich guys' donations did more good.  But Jesus is portrayed teaching that the purpose of giving is not to help anyone else, but to harm the giver.  The widow is praised because she gave away her last bit of wealth, and was left with nothing to live on.  One important thing to notice about this story is that we see no evidence that Jesus is concerned with her welfare in the least.  He does not interrupt her and tell her to get in the other line to receive charity, or work any "miracle of provision" like make her jars produce endless oil, show her how to do the loaves-and-fishes trick, or do anything whatsoever to help her.  I've had Christians tell me that Jesus helped her somehow "off-screen" and it just wasn't recorded in the Gospels.  After all, "God is loving and just," etc.  However, I think if that was a factor it would have been recorded in the Gospels precisely to portray Jesus/God as loving and just, etc.

This story has, in my opinion, had some incredibly pernicious effects.  First, it should be noted that we are talking about donations to the Temple, i.e. to the corrupt, wealthy theocratic aristocracy Jesus roundly condemns elsewhere.  "My house was meant to be a house of prayer, but you have made it into a den of theives!"  Through this story, Jesus has given every ecclesiastical establishment a blank check on the wealth of its "flock."  What, you still have a few bucks you're holding back from your Social Security check, Mrs. Robinson?  Don't you see that to be really virtuous, you have to give it all?  Don't worry, God is loving and just, so he will give you back lots more money "off-screen" (i.e. we don't have to know what happens to you afterward).

Furthermore, it attacks the very concept of philanthropy.  The rich guys were frowned upon because they gave big donations in exchange for plaudits, and didn't cause themselves suffering in the process (they gave from their "excess").  Now, it seems fairly obvious to me that once people have met all of their needs and wants, further "selfish" spending really amounts to status-displays.  A $2 million watch doesn't tell time that much better than a $100 watch, or even look much better (it may be garish with huge diamonds, and thus arguably look worse).  Likewise, I am very skeptical that $1,000-a-bottle wine tastes that much better than the stuff you get in a box at the supermarket.  And the person who has a gigantic, cavernous mansion modeled on Versailles is living in a five-star hotel with lots of rooms they most likely never use themselves, and thus derive no joy from.  As OkiMike put it so well:  "Regardless, those who purchase just for purchasing's sake, do indeed find that their objects bring them no comfort because their object was simply a symbol for something deficient in their characters, and in purchasing it, they tried to buy their happiness."

Instead, they build the mansion to impress other rich people who build similar mansions to impress them.  It's a social game.  Now, if the rich are going to play these sorts of social games to impress others, imagine the benefits that would accrue if philanthropy were the best way to show off: 

"I created the Wentsworth Space Program.  Our new Mars colony is proving to be quite the inspiration for the world's youth, if I do say so myself."

"Oh yes, but my Advanced Technologies Development Project has produced a house that generates its own power, treats its own water, and can be air-deployed anywhere on Earth for only $5,000 a unit.  And my geneticists tell me they're working on a gene-splice of plants and electric eels that produces solar electricity at 80% efficiency and can be grown in potting soil."

"Jolly good show, but my medical research grants provided the funds to cure AIDS and mass-distribute the medicine in Africa."

"Oh, smashing, old boy!  But I'm afraid Mr. Gates has us all beat, what with his Global Carbon Sequestration Program.  It's really hard to trump saving the whole bloody planet, I'm afraid."

"Hmmm, perhaps if we pooled our efforts..."

While philanthropy does exist, I think there would be a lot more of it if Jesus' denigration of it had not become the prevaliling mainstream thought in Western society.  "So what if you gave away a billion dollars?  Look how much you kept!  If you want us to be impressed, you've gotta give it all away!"  The result, in my opinion, is that a rich person can attract more awe and respect (without the subtle accusation of insufficient morality) by buying a Faberge' egg for a hundred million bucks (thus garnering awe and envy) than by giving away a hundred million bucks.  In other words, since philanthropy provides no cachet of moral goodness anyway and the would-be philanthropist will still be sneered at by the moralists for remaining rich, why not ignore morality altogether, buy a solid-gold bathtub and star on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous instead?

Thus, the Widow's Mite story effectively obligates the poor to unlimited charity while relieving the rich of any incentive to give (unless they are willing to give it all away and become poor themselves).  Furthermore, results are irrelevant.  It is obvious that the widow's penny would not provide much in the way of sustainence for the poor--she was the poor!  Jesus dismissed the very idea of helping the poor by saying "The poor you will always have among you."  Don't bother trying to solve the problem of poverty.  It's a permanent condition.

Except that this isn't true.  In the developed world we actually have virtually solved "poverty" as it was known in Jesus' day.  We still have "poverty," but we think nothing of the idea of a "poor" person owning a TV set and a car (wonderous things even Caesar could hardly have afforded, even if detailed plans for them were given to his finest craftsmen) and having lots of kids--rather than none because they've all starved to death before the age of 5.  This feat was accomplished through the replacement of labor and material with thought and energy--i.e. scientific and technological advancement.  What once required many thousands of slaves or indentured workers can now be done by a single worker with a crane.  The Trans-Atlantic Cable weighed many tons, and could only carry a relatively puny amount of bandwidth in Morse code and voice transmissions.  A communications satellite the size of a beer keg can carry thousands of channels of color video and audio, thus "doing more with less."  Virtual realms like EverQuest and Second Life create things like buildings and clothes that have no mass at all!

By continuing this process of "ephemeralization," we can create a positive-sum game in which the other people we share the planet with are our natural allies--potential discoverers and inventors, fellow creators of products and services with whom we can trade to mutual benefit, gaining access to things we could never make for ourselves.  Furthermore, the vast majority of the Solar System's resources are on the other eight (well, OK, seven) planets, and the asteroids.  We already know how to get there, in terms of science and technology.  We have just deluded ourselves into spending the money on F-22 fighter jets, Stealth bombers, and laying waste to Middle Eastern countries instead.

This is not to promote a naive techno-utopianism.   There is no such thing as "the perfect society" because each of us has a different idea of "perfect."  But we have already matched or exceeded the feats of ancient gods with our technology, so there is no reason we can't create what they would have considered "heaven on Earth."  We certainly have the capacity to junk zero-sum thinking for positive-sum thinking, and reject the false either/or "self vs. others" dichotomy for a both/and "self and others" harmony of interests, upon which a genuine benevolence toward others can be founded.


this goes on for a few pages.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 07, 2011, 04:00:03 PM
Response to a loon (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4873.msg78769#msg78769)
One of the few times kcrady engages with an imbicile
(I hope you all appreciate this.  This has to be formatted manually, since you cannot use the quote function in the old forum.  Yeah, I put all the bolds, foot notes and quotes in by hand.  And this one was a freakin’ nightmare!)

Quote from: radical4him
1.Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. Religion is rules & regulations made up by people. God RUNS from religion my friend! He wants relationship.

If this is so, then why doesn't your god...you know...talk to people?  "He speaks to us through his Word--the Bible"  Bollocks.  Even if your god dicated the Bible letter by letter, it's still just a book, and it isn't even really addressed to us.  More than half of it is treated as obsolete even by believers (the Old Testament), and as often as believers invoke "Jewish idioms" "Ancient culture" and so on in hopes of explaining things in the Bible, it's clearly not an effective form of communication to people who aren't experts in ancient languages and ancient cultures. 

Besides, I can read historical accounts about George Washington, letters, speeches, etc. that he wrote, make a pilgrimage to every "George Washington Slept Here" site, but that does not give me a personal relationship with George Washington.  Maybe if I try hard enough I can imagine what George Washington would be like as a person, put on a WWGWD bracelet and convince myself that the Father of My Country lives within my heart and guides my life...but then, you'd call that delusional, wouldn't you?
Quote from: radical4him
2.God will HEAL amputees according to YOUR FAITH.


So it's my power, not God's.  M'kay.  Guess that means that Imhotep, the Only Begotten Son of Ptah can heal amputees if I have enough faith in Him.  BTW, we do have real evidence that Imhotep existed.  He built the Pyramid of Saqqara.   
Quote from: radical4him
3.People who are starving is more important to God than for us together! His heart is more broken for them than our heart. WE have to do something about it. Not God. WE have dominion. Not God. Read the Bible. WE rule the earth. Not God. He gave US the authority. God is NOT  in control. You have to understand that.

LOL!  Poor God!  He's helpless!  So, since we have all the dominion and the power and the glory (amen!), I guess that means we can just tell your god to piss off, and he's gotta go, righgt?  I do agree with you that when starvation is finally abolished from the Earth, it will be humans that do it.  Likewise with healing amputees, or any other feat worth doing.  In that case...makes a lot more sense to have faith in humanity, doesn't it?  Oh, sure, we're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but at least we exist and can do stuff.
Quote from: radical4him
4.The Letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. You can read the Bible till you blue in the face, and it will be just another book. Only the Spirit of God brings it alive. Also – READ THE BIBLE IN CONTEXT OTHERWISE YOU WILL BE DECEIVED.

>GenerousGeorge voice<  Out of context!  Out of context!
Quote from: radical4him
5.God's plan is to give you a future and a hope – Read Isaiah boet.

Since by your own admission, your god can't do anything, he can't implement any plans he might have.  Want real future and hope?  Go to Worldchanging.com or Ray Kurzweil's site at kurzweiai.net. 
Quote from: radical4him
6.Read the old testament alone and you'll get exactly howYOU are on the viseo, deceived and not thinking at all ! The reason why they got killed is because of their wickedness. God is HOLY and cannot have ANY sin near Him. All sin MUST be punished , and shall be punished when Jesus returnes.

Can you say that in German?
Quote from: radical4him
God already knew he would make a plan for the generations to come so He sent Jesus. Jesus took our death we deserve like in the old testament and He got killed for it! Now YOU can go free because GOD has paid your penalty. You don't wanna accept it, so the consequence is hell?

Pretty crappy plan.  Seriously!  Making it so that only people who hear about somebody getting cruficied in one, single part of the world--while making sure that despite the alleged grandiose miracles the guy performed, nobody noticed anything happening at the time except for a small band of followers--have a chance to be "saved" from a threat your god supposedly knew about "before the foundation of the world" (and did nothing to prevent)?  Sheesh, your god is no Gary Kasparov, that's for sure!  On the other hand, the premise that your god is an abysmal strategist and tactician explains how he could tell George Bush that invading Iraq was a good idea...
Quote from: radical4him
Put your hand on a hot stove and the consequence is burning hey bro?

7.Why do people have to be locked up if they drive over the speed limit? That silly hey? Because that's the government's RULE my friend. You just obey! No arguing with them. The same with God. His rules. His God, not you. Not me either.

Wait, wait, didn't you say up there at #3 that we have the dominion?
Quote from: radical4him
3.People who are starving is more important to God than for us together! His heart is more broken for them than our heart. WE have to do something about it. Not God. WE have dominion. Not God. Read the Bible. WE rule the earth. Not God. He gave US the authority. God is NOT  in control. You have to understand that.

Hmm.  Sounds like you have to understand that.
Quote from: radical4him
He made the rule to protect you, not to keep you in a box. His rules are simple and makes absolutely sence!


You mean, like the one where eating shellfish is an abomination before the Lord?  Or where we should kill a girl if she's not a virgin when she gets married (boys get a mulligan because god made them without a hymen-equivalent--and boys are just better anyway)?
Quote from: radical4him
Do not run in front of a truck otherwise you'll get mow down boy says the dad.
Exacly our Heavenly dad says: Dont kill, destroy be disobedient otherwise you gonna end up in hell...

You make it sound as if all this "sin" and "hell" stuff are external circumstances over which your god has no control, like a human parent has no control over trucks driving down the street.  Well, given that you've already declared him to be helpless and "not in control" I guess that makes sense, sortof.  I'd love to see you debate a Calvinist, LOL. 
Quote from: radical4him
Everything is about consequences. God is holy and we have to be holy to enter His presence. How do we become holy? ONLY through Jesus. Thats it. No other way.
God said it. Not me.

How do you know God said it?  How do you know Jesus really existed?  "It says so in the Bible."  But how do you know the Bible is true?  "It says so in the Bible."  Mmmm-hmmm.  Go ahead.  Peek out of your little reality-tunnel for just a moment.  No one will eat you.  Try to imagine you were born in another part of the world like India, and that the Bible is somebody else's holy book, and "obviously" not true, not like the Vedas!  Mom and Dad believe in the Vedas!  Everybody believes in the Vedas!  Except for Americans, and they're crazy foreigners!  Obviously, "The Bible is true because it says so in the Bible" isn't going to work in a case like that. 
Quote from: radical4him
8.You do not understand the things of the Spirit, because you do not have the Spirit. Just like the religious Pharisees.

The Pharisees were Literalists, like you are.  The Jesus story is an allegory of the individual's quest for Gnosis, for experiential realization of our divine nature, which frees us from the bonds of the 'god of this age,' the Archon Yahweh.  To see the Jesus story as biography is to kill its spirit and turn it into dead history.  It is as foolish to treat Jesus as a one-off event that happened a long time ago (rather than the inner path all of us follow--we are not to be Chrisitans, but Christs) as it is to think that the story of the Tortise and the Hare is about racing, and to make pilgrimages to a place you claim the racetrack once stood.  The Jesus story is spiritual--which means, pertaining to Consciousness, not to dusty History!

What's that?  You disagree with me?  You do not understand the things of the Spirit, because you do not have the Spirit.  Just like the religious Pharisees.[1]
 
Quote from: radical4him
9. You said 'The earth is not 6000 years old, Noah's arks story, Jonah and the fish...'
Where you there?

No, but there's plenty of life forms that were "there," living long, long before your "creation" took place.  Google "Catal Huyuk."
Quote from: radical4him
Why can it not be true?

Hmm...this sounds almost like a plea.  Why is a Literalist interpretation of these myths[2] so important to you?
Quote from: radical4him
How do you know all these things?

We call it "science."
Quote from: radical4him
How old are you?
Where's the proof why it did not happen??

Do you really want proof?  Would you honestly consider the evidence if we pointed you to it?  Or would you just ignore it and say, "Why, Mommy?  Why can't the Bible be true?"
Quote from: radical4him
10.Where did God put people in slavery?

BWAHAHAHAHA!!!  Does this sound familiar?
Quote from: radical4him
Exacly our Heavenly dad says: Don’t kill, destroy be disobedient otherwise you gonna end up in hell...

Of course, "Dont' kill, destroy" sounds good, except that in the Bible god tells people to kill and destroy.  So all that really matters is the obedience. 

BTW, why would an omnipotent god need obedience from people, anyway?  Oh yeah, that's right--we have the power and the dominion, not him.  So naturally, a parasite in his position would need to talk us into doing his bidding.  Otherwise, he's powerless.
Quote from: radical4him
11.What do you mean no evidence has been left behind? Why is people healed DAYLY including myself?
Why do people drive out demons?? Why is the sick cured, why does the blind see again?

Examples?
Quote from: radical4him
14.Q 10 – a Christian is a  little Christ. Someone who is REPENTANT, BORN AGAIN, AND BAPTIZED. Not a church go-er!
The pope is not a Christian!
Not Catholics!
Not Mormins, Not Jehova's Witnesses! All of them are manmade religions.
I'm talking about those who OBEY AND LIVE the Word of God.

So Catholics aren't Christians.  M'kaaaay.  Where do you think you got your "Word of God?"  Who decided which four Gospels, out of the many that existed at the time should be in "the Bible?"  Who picked which Epistles?  >Jeopardy music<

What is The Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Nicea, Alex!

So, by your own admission, the Bible was compiled as such by non-Christians.  Tell me again why I should consider it to be the "Word of God?"
Quote from: radical4him
15. God is  not a puppet master who rule a marriage. It's ALL choice mate. God gave US dominion

Really?  OK, let's say I see a girl I like.  I plan ahead, and hire a hitman, and tell him that if she doesn't go out with me, he is to capture her and slowly burn her to death.  Then I go to her, and tell her I love her, that I want her to marry me and submit herself unto me, as a wife should submit herself to her husband.  And that if she refuses, well, she'll be captured and burned forever.  It's all about choice, after all.  And I can't abide a woman who says no to me, that would be tolerating unholiness.  So she has complete free will, no coercion there, no sir!  But if she refuses, well, there are consequences to bad choices, just like sticking your hand on a hot stove.

Do you really think that would be an acceptable form of courtship?
Quote from: radical4him
Last thing:
You will NEVER know all the answers now although you've got the whole world behind you.
Now we only know in part, but one day we will know ALL the misteries.

Including the one about how to spell "mysteries?" :)



 1.  Do you notice how this works to support any belief whatsoever?
 2. They're myths.  Come on.  Talking snake.  Do you believe snakes can talk, and that they eat dirt?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: Graybeard on June 07, 2011, 05:54:35 PM
photo of Kevin Crady and astronaut Anousheh Ansari
I didn't imagine him like that at all.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 08, 2011, 07:13:07 AM
me neither.   
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 22, 2011, 07:59:06 AM
Gott Mit Uns (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4847.msg79653#msg79653)

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.

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 22, 2011, 08:03:34 AM
Gott mit Uns 2 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4847.msg80983#msg80983)

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?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 22, 2011, 08:11:33 AM
Faith in god vs grandfathers (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4902.msg82241#msg82241)

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
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 22, 2011, 08:14:41 AM
faith in god vs grandfathers 2 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4902.msg82461#msg82461)
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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: Graybeard 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 "[wiki]Gott Mit Uns[/wiki]" but endorsed with "Meine Ehre heißt Treue" (my honor is loyalty.)
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:06:34 PM
Xianity and astrology (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5000.msg82513#msg82513)

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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:09:53 PM
Xianity and Astrology part 2: morality (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5000.msg83801#msg83801)

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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:16:33 PM
Xianity and Astrology part 3: morality (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5000.msg84051#msg84051)

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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:25:13 PM
Xianity and Astrology part 4: morality (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5000.msg88226#msg88226)

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<
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:28:34 PM
Xianity and Astrology part 5: morality (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5000.msg90900#msg90900)

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. 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:31:08 PM
Case agains jesus H (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4166.msg82685#msg82685)

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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:35:13 PM
A Sermon from the Dark Side...  (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4984.msg86040#msg86040)

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? :)
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:40:36 PM
That stupid fig tree (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5186.msg86605#msg86605)

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 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:43:40 PM
That stupid fig tree (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5186.msg86738#msg86738)

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."
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on June 27, 2011, 03:50:31 PM
Jesus’ non-temptation (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5184.msg86886#msg86886)

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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: Graybeard 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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on July 12, 2011, 06:45:21 AM
Reincarnation (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5201.msg89847#msg89847)

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.

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on July 12, 2011, 06:49:57 AM
Did christ really exist? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg90660#msg90660)

[the thread begins here (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg79978#msg79978), 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...).


Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on July 12, 2011, 06:51:23 AM
did christ really exist? pt 2 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg92348#msg92348)

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?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on July 12, 2011, 07:38:05 AM
Did christ really exist, pt3 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg92519#msg92519)

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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Action_Comics_1.jpg) 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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on July 12, 2011, 07:41:05 AM
Language of god (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5392.msg91005#msg91005)

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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on July 12, 2011, 07:44:01 AM
On jesus (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5186.msg91556#msg91556)

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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on August 02, 2011, 10:56:24 AM
Did christ really exist?, pt 4 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg94388#msg94388)

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 (http://bede.org.uk/jesusmyth.htm) 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
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on August 02, 2011, 11:02:38 AM
Did christ really exist?, pt 5 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg95670#msg95670)

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!"

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on August 02, 2011, 11:09:10 AM
Did christ really exist?, pt 6 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg96336#msg96336)

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:

The first seems to be called into question by the Tabliot tomb (http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/tomb.html?dcitc=w99-502-ah-1024).  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
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on August 02, 2011, 11:13:53 AM
Did christ really exist?, pt 7 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg96842#msg96842)

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:

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?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on August 02, 2011, 11:19:55 AM
Did christ really exist?, pt 8 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg98855#msg98855)

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.

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.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on August 02, 2011, 11:25:17 AM
Did christ really exist?, pt 9 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg99848#msg99848)


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. 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on August 02, 2011, 11:32:36 AM
Did christ really exist?, pt 10 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg99857#msg99857)


Quote from: unkleE
2.  Scholars don't necessarily believe that most of the events you are talking about can be established historically.  There are a number of categories here, including:
>snip<
•   In some cases they believe the events were never intended to be historical, but that writers of that day used fantastic events as a way of illustrating meaning, and people of their day would recognise this.   An example is Peter's quoting of Joel in Acts 2 ("I will pour out my Spirit in those days ... the sun will become dark and the moon red as blood") as an explanation of people apparently speaking in different languages.  There is no indication that any of these ominous portents actually occurred, yet Peter applies the passage.  Clearly he saw the language in some sense as metaphoric or some such.

How is this second position much different than what I've been saying all along?  So maybe all the miracle stories about "Jesus" are "metaphoric or some such."  That would explain the complete absence of contemporary reaction to miracles better than your odd hypothesis that the period of the miniistry of Jesus was the one, solitary time in all of recorded history that human beings were utterly uninterested in grandiose displays of supernatural power.  "Yeah, yeah, I know that the Omnipotent Creator of the Universe walks among us curing the sick and raising the dead, but why can't we talk about something that matters, like Pilate's immigration policy?"
Quote from: unkleE
I don't necessarily agree with all they say in these areas, but here is another example where just reading may be enough for the believer but is not enough for someone like you who wants to make historical-critical statements - you need to know all these things.

Wait a minute--how can you disagree with NT scholars???  I thought we weren't supposed to do that!
Quote from: unkleE
3. Most scholars say that Jewish people of Jesus' day didn't question that he did the miraculous, but that critics argued that he did it using evil powers.

Based on what evidence?  The Gospels.  Do we have a single yohd or tittle of contemporary Jewish evidence suggesting that Jews accepted that Jesus worked miracles, but did it using evil powers?  Can you explain why an awesomely powerful Satanic "Messiah" would go unnoticed? 
Quote from: unkleE
So why would they make the fuss about it you suggest?  And the majority of people couldn't even write, so there's little likelihood they would have left a record!

And I take it all those scribes that debated Jesus couldn't write either.  And that the existence of a super-powered Anti-Messiah ("Antichrist") walking among them wouldn't interest them too much.  Nothing to make a fuss about.  You know, that's more miraculous than Jesus' miracles! 
Quote from: unkleE
4. On the other hand, the Roman historians would generally not have cared what was happening in a far-flung and rebellious province, apart from the stuff relating to the success of the Empire, and they would have given little credance to reports from there.  Again, why would you expect Roman historians to take much notice?

That's why Josephus never wrote anything about the Jewish War.  I mean, it was such a far-flung and unimportant province, inhabited only by a few illiterate yokels anyway.  Not like the Romans would care about it. 
Quote from: unkleE
5. I can honestly say I cannot recall any scholar making the argument you make, though there may be some (my reading, after all, is not all that extensive!).

From what you've said so far, they seem to take a "don't go there!" approach to the miraculous elements of the Jesus story.  They don't make the arguments I do because they ignore the issue and say it's not a historical question.  That way they can write their technical monographs for Biblical Archaeology Review without catching any flack from the Evangelicals, most of whom probably don't read BAR anyway.  Basically, they can act as if all the miracle stuff is bunk (debating about technical stuff like whether the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume was Mary Magdalene or not) without having to come out and say it.  It's the NT-scholarship equivalent of Stephen Jay Gould's "separate magisteria" of science and faith (so that biologists can accept evolutionary theory without saying that Genesis is bunk).
Quote from: unkleE
6.  Finally of course, it isn't true to say that no-one noticed.  The gospel writers noticed, and if you believe the scholars (another example where ignorance is indeed misleading!), the oral sources behind the gospels noticed.  I wonder how may records you would want before you count it as someone noticing?

The early Mormons (Joseph Smith & Co.) noticed the golden plates and the huge Jewish civilizations in North America, with their great cities and large-scale wars.  The Native Americans didn't notice any of this stuff, but then they were illiterate, and probably considered the presence of large Iron-Age armies of Semites in their territory unworthy of commemoration in legends.  The early Mormons must have been right.  The Scientologists noticed the deeds of the evil cosmic overlord Xenu.  Nobody else did, and there's no evidence outside of Scientologist literature for Xenu, but that's no reason to doubt that Xenu is real.
Quote from: unkleE
So I think you need to show, not out of your own fertile imagination but from historical analysis, why you are so confident of what you say.

It's really as simple as the Law of Cause and Effect.  If an astounding event happens--whether the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, or huge cosmological wonders like the sun shutting off, a great earthquake, and a crowd of newly-resurrected corpses walking home to a city of 100,000 people--it would have commensurate effects.  The assassination of Lincoln wasn't even a miracle, but somehow it was considered more important than the play.  You sneeringly refer to my "fertile imagination."  It doesn't hold a candle to yours, since you can imagine that God can walk on Earth doing all sorts of amazing divine feats in front of many thousands of people without even causing a stir.  "So what if he made this bread and fish appear miraculously?  I've had better fish."
Quote from: unkleE
I have explained this several times, but I will try again.  We are not just talking about reading the daily news.  We are talking about texts that carry very important implications (obviously, or we would not be discussing like we are).  Just as I would not attempt to argue biology with Richard Dawkins, or paleontology with Stephen Jay Gould (if he were still alive), because they know a great deal of information that I don't have, so I suggest the historical scholars know a great deal that you and I (and Dawkins!) do not know.  We make our statements about historical conclusions out of ignorance unless we build on their knowledge.  I am amazed that you would attempt to suggest otherwise.  So yes, you are entitled to form your own opinion, but it won't be based on evidence unless you know enough of the facts - which you have provided no indication that you do, any more than I do without the experts.

In the context of every other science--physics, astronomy, geology, etc., the notion of a man with super-powers is absurd.  All of your NT scholars, armed with the Gospels, and only the Gospels as their evidence, cannot overrule everything else we know about how Universe works.  In a choice between the Gospels and physics, physics wins.  Even if every single Bible scholar ever born swore to the absolute accuracy of every single letter of it, it would be their authority as scholars vs. the scholarly authority of the entire rest of the scientific community and every scientific experiment and observation since Kepler.  If I have to trust experts, I'll trust the physicists, meteorologists, astronomers, geologists, geneticists, biologists, etc., etc. over the NT scholars.  They've got a lot more evidence to go on than a few ancient texts written down after decades of oral tradition by people who may have intended to speak/write metaphorically/allegorically/mythically to begin with (as your quote above substantiates).
Quote from: unkleE
I'm not sure we are going to get much further on this.  I think your anti-scholarship views look awfully like obscurantism.

What anti-scholarship views?  If one branch of scholarship (NT scholarship) attempts to base positions that go against the rest of science on the word of pre-scientific ancient people (and only a handful of them), then the NT scholars are "anti-scholarship."  If they do not attempt to base positions that go against the rest of science on the authority of the Gospels, and the Gospels alone, then I don't see how I'm that much in disagreement with them. 

I've shown, from the Gospels themselves, that there were at least two "Jesuses" arrested for similar crimes, at the same time.  In one of my earlier posts on this subject, I suggested that there could have been 20 "historical Jesuses" (wandering preacher/faith-healer wannabe Messiahs with the common Jewish name "Yeshua").  That there could have been at least one is no big deal.  All along you've been arguing that Jesus would have been someone beneath the notice of anyone but his small sect of followers.  As Generous George put it, there's people like that in New York City today.

Even if oral traditions about one, or half a dozen of these "messiahs" ended up being collected together to form the "Gospels," the character of Jesus as an incarnate God doing stupendous supernatural wonders in front of many thousands of people and causing cosmological disturbances of the heavens and the Earth at his death is still a myth, as much a myth as the invulnerable Achilles.

If you really want to claim, based on ancient Iron-Age manuscripts (and the authority of the scholars that love them) that a person can overturn physics in grand fashion--and do so without anybody but his own disciples noticinig or cariing--I'm going to have to charge you with an obscurantist, anti-scholarship position. 
Quote from: unkleE
I find it ioronic that an educated athesist who criticies christians for using faith rather than reason can argue the way you have.  In the end, you still have not explained why I should accept such views ahead of people who have studied these matters for decades in high quality universities.

If you can tell me why I should accept the opinions of these scholars over the entire rest of humankind's scientific knowledge (much of it gathered over centuries in high-quality universities), I'll get back to you on that.
Quote from: unkleE
I hope I have not been personally rude, as that is not my intention,

Well, let's see, you accuse me of obscurantism, go on about my "fertile imagination" while ignoring all my points (like the two "historical Jesuses" in the Gospels) and generally have an attitude that pretty much everyone here but you recognizes as patronizing.  Nah.  Not rude at all. :-/
Quote from: unkleE
I just wish to challenge you to move beyond your own ideas to take the best available evidence seriously.  Then we can debate the more important debate on an evidential basis.  Best wishes.

Physicists can accurately model the behavior of utterly tiny sub-atomic particles down to several decimal places, without ever having to introduce a variable to account for the presence or powers of the resurrected Jesus, God the Father, Satan and his demonic legions, or any other Gospel character.  And they've got experiments to prove it.  What "evidence" do you and your NT scholars have for Jesus the miracle-working resurrected God-man?  The Gospels, and only the Gospels.  When it comes to "the best available evidence" I have to go with the physicists on that one.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on August 02, 2011, 11:42:43 AM
Did christ really exist?, pt 11 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg102075#msg102075)

UnkleE:

Before attempting to continue, I will try to spell out your position as I understand it.  Please correct me if I'm wrong:

Quote from: UnkleE
And miraculous and supernatural are matters that historians are loath to comment on as historians, because one's metaphysical beliefs or assumptions have a stronger bearing on one's conclusions than would the historical evidence.

For example, there is quite a bit of historical evidence pointing to the fact of the resurrection, but an atheist or agnostic would (quite reasonably for them) be unable to accept it as historical because of their metaphysics.  So most historians put aside their metaphysical views (at least for a while) and seek to establish what might be called a lowest common denominator understanding of what is considered to be historical, that is, what could be accepted on historical grounds by people of all beliefs.

Quote from: UnkleE
But perhaps you would accept that particle physicist John Polkinghorne is a reputable physicist?  (I have even seen a quote from Richard Dawkiuns to the effect that he is, or was, a first rate scientist.)  John says this about miracles: "science has falsified the idea that we know the laws of nature so well that they can dispose of an individual event. like the resurrection"  He bases this view on the nature of science as "restricting itself to the impersonal and general, and bracketing out the personal and unique"

This claim that science (whether history or physics) cannot address the question of the miraculous seems to be the linchpin of your position.  By placing the quiestion of the existence of miracles outside of the bounds of scientific analysis (whether by historians or physicists) you are able to place belief in miracles on an equal footing with rejection of miracles. 

I can understand why many reputable scientists would make this claim, as they live in nations where the vast majority of their fellow citizens believe Jesus is the miracle-working Son of God.[1]  To "come out" like Dawkins has would put them in a pitched battle with the popular consensus of belief.  Since many scholars and scientists get their funding from those same people via government grants and government funding of universities (not to mention that at least some of them probably have mommas who go to Church every Sunday) provides a strong incentive for them to avoid taking sides in the battle between theism and atheism.

By taking the Stephen Jay Gould position that Science and Religion occupy separate and non-overlapping "magisteria," they are free to focus on their research instead of being drawn into endless debates against theism, and potential loss of funding due to political pressure from Congressmen well aware that atheists are an insignificant voting bloc.  It's a kind of denial.  "No, no!  Of course my latest technical monograph on the evolution of trilobites in the Cambrian is no threat to your religious beliefs!  I'll keep my science in technical journals you never read, and you[2] keep your belief in a 6,000 year-old Earth, talking snakes and the rest in church and we can both agree to pretend there's no conflict between the two."

However, as far as I can tell, this sort of truce only exists with regard to miraculous claims associated with extant and popular religions (Christianity in the US, perhaps Hinduism in India, etc.).  I have never heard of a historian of ancient Greece claiming that "the existence of Centaurs and Cyclopses is not a historical question.  Credible historical texts such as the Iliand and Odyssey mention them, but history as a science cannot address the question of whether or not they actually existed."  I am more familiar with scholarship in Egyptology than I am with NT scholarship. 

If you ask someone like Zahi Hawass or Mark Lerner about some of the magical "Atlantis-type" theories about the construction of the Pyramids, or Egyptian magical tales about sorcerers who could turn wax models of crocodiles into real ones that would eat the target of their spell, they would give you a forthright rejection of such claims.  Likewise, Stephen Jay Gould probably would not bother placing the Norse creation account into some "separate magisteria" where it would be sheltered from scientific criticism as an invalid hypothesis.

A "historical Jesus" sans miracles is not one any self-proclaimed Christian (outside of the Bishop Spong "atheist-of-the-cloth" fringe) would care to believe in, much less worship.  Without the miracles, he becomes exactly as insignificant and uninteresting as you say he would have been to everyone outside of his small circle of followers.  If the NT scholars you cite were to reject the miracles as myth (the way their counterparts in the study of every other ancient culture's religion do) instead of sheltering them in an unassailable "separate magisteria" I doubt you would be crowing about their consensus acceptance of some proto-Martin Luther King who got crucified instead of shot.

Do you think an ordinary wandering preacher/faith-healer who managed to utter a handful of pithy statements before getting himself crucified for holding a sit-in at the Jewish Temple is worth founding your religious world-view on?  As Generous George put it, there's guys like that in New York City today, and you're not hurrying off to worship any of them.

Even in the Gospels Jesus the anti-establishment radical is not unique (see my point in a previous post regarding Jesus Barabbas).  If these are historical documents rather than mythic ones, the existence of a historical Jesus Barabbas is validated through the "criteria of embarrassment" you cite in favor of your preferred Jesus.  Since later Gospel manuscripts omit "Jesus" and refer to him only as Barabbas, this is ironclad proof of embarrassment.  A mythicist could argue that Jesus Barabbas is a remnant of a Gnostic "twin allegory" (see the Gospel of Thomas the Contender for an example) in which "Jesus, Son of the Father" is not crucified (thus representing the immortal "Witness" or "higher self" that is inherently indestructible) while "Jesus, the Son of Man" goes to the Cross, suffers, dies, and is resurrected, representing the death and shedding of the "lower" or "ego" self (the eidolon) and the initiate's rebirth as one awakened to their true nature as the "Witness" or "higher self."

The Gospels also clearly state that it was a fairly widely-held belief that Jesus was the resurrected John the Baptist.  If such a belief could be widely held even though Jesus and John the Baptist were born at about the same time and even had a fairly close relationship, then the spread of an equally erroneous belief in Jesus' resurrection is hardly even a surprise. 

In other words, the plain text of the Gospels pokes two big holes in Christian belief.  1) Jesus was not unique--there was at least one other man named Jesus living at the same time bearing a title that could identify him as the "Son of God," who was arrested by Pontius Pilate on the same charges (subversion/rebellion), at the same time--implying that Jesus was only one of many like him.  2) The people of Jesus' day were even more eager to believe in the resurrection of "prophets" than modern fans of the King of Rock and Roll are to accept the claims of Elvis sightings as proof his death was faked.

Thus, even if we try to take the Gospels as "good history," they still provide us no solid basis to believe in "a" "historical Jesus" or to lend credence to claims that he rose from the dead.



 1.  Do you know of any recognized scholars living in non-Western countries and/or receiving their research grants from non-Western governments, such as India?  If so, do they hew to the claim that Jesus' miracles cannot be questioned by history?
 2.  By "you" here, I do not mean you, UnkleE, but rather a hypothetical Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 12, 2011, 03:31:30 PM
Did christ really exist?, pt 12 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=cd9f3bd426ef9b2da245e78e878e9dc4&topic=4928.msg103285#msg103285)

UnkleE, one of the main problems we're having in this debate is that we aren't even debating the same thing.  You're providing scholarly quotes claiming the existence of a stripped-down Yeshua of Nazareth who, despite having uttered a few catchy teachings was in all respects a very ordinary man who did not attract much notice in his own time and would not attract much notice in ours if he walked the streets today. 

We are arguing that the superhuman "Jesus" character presented in the Gospels, who repealed the generalized principles of physics and biology in front of many thousands of people, and whose death was a literally earth-shaking event accompanied by a cosmological darkness and a wave of spontaneous resurrections, is a myth.

There is no reason both of these positions can't be true.

You have explained how historians set aside the miraculous elements of the NT as outside of the purview of history.  They just write "Here Be Dragons" over that part of the map, and don't go there.  The problem this presents for the Christian hoping to rely on scholarly consensus about Yeshua of Nazareth for apologetics purposes is that once scholars take away the supernatural claims--either by denying them outright, or just looking the other way--what's left isn't Jesus anymore.  Returning to my Superman analogy, if you take away the cape and tights, the origin on planet Krypton, all of the super-powers, etc. until you end up with a New York newspaper reporter named Clark Kent who wrote news stories in the '30's and '40's, what you've got left is a newspaper reporter, not a superhero. 

You have claimed that the historical Yeshua would not have attracted the notice of his contemporaries, beyond his small circle of followers, despite the fact that the Gospels say otherwise.  By the time you're finished stripping him of his miraculous powers, his widespread fame, the huge crowds that followed him around everywhere, the attention of major political figures like Herod ("and all of Jerusalem with him") Caiaphas, Gemaliel (the book of Acts), distant foreign rulers (who sent the Magi to honor him at birth) etc., you're not even talking about the Jesus of the Gospels anymore.  Which defeats the purpose of using the Gospels to establish his historicity, doesn't it?

This obscure teacher[1] shrinks away to almost nothing in comparison with Greek and Roman philosophers.  If such a figure existed, he is nothing but a grain of sand around which the oyster of Christianity slathered a pearl of myth in order to create the glorious Incarnate God of the Gospels.  The latter is still a myth.  Even the name "Jesus" is a construct created to add up to 888 in Greek gematria, so that the new God-man could be identified as the Solar Logos of Hellenistic cosmology.[2]


followed up with this link in the next post:  If Jesus, then why not Hercules? (http://nobeliefs.com/exist.htm).  The essay begins about halfway down.
 1.  Even Christians did not see fit to preserve more than a few scraps of (the alleged) Yeshua's teaching, as compared with the volume of preserved writings of Paul.  This fact alone provides powerful evidence against the claims of Christianity in my view.  If the all-knowing Creator of the Universe truly set foot on Earth for 33 (or so) years, surely his words and deeds would be more worthy of preservation and inclusion in the Bible than Paul's mail.  If the Incarnation of God on Earth is really the great centerpiece of the Cosmic Plan, why does Jesus get not merely upstaged, but comprehensively pwned by some Johnny-come-lately who wasn't even one of his disciples?
 2.   David Fideler, Jesus Christ: Sun of God
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 12, 2011, 03:39:06 PM
Did christ really exist?, pt 13 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg104714#msg104714)

Quote from: unkleE
I have tended to use the late historian Michael Grant because he was a specialist in the wider Roman Empire, not just the NT, so can bring a wider perspective to bear, and because he was an unbeliever, so could be considered to be impartial. Things Grant  said could be established about Jesus included:
  • he claimed to be able to forgive sins which only God could forgive and people believed him
  • he believed his death would be redemptive and people believed him
  • he believed he was inaugurating the kingdom of God on earth, and people believed him
  • he believed repentant "sinners" were eligible for the kingdom, and people believed him
  • he died a terrible death
  • his actual tomb was later found to be empty and right from the earlist days people believed he had been resurrected

These (as I understand your position) represent the extraordinary things about the "historical Jesus" that a consensus of scholars accepts, and which, for you, mean he was not just an average itinerant rabble-rouser of his time.  The first four are not very impressive.  There have always been charismatic cult leaders who have concocted wildly unorthodox (for their time) doctrines "and people believed them."  Heaven's Gate, David Koresh, etc..  The next one, that he died a terrible death--that was awfully common in Roman Judea.  Judea at that time was a hotbed of sects, cults, and people claiming to be the Messiah.  Even if it is accepted that a single person with the common name "Yeshua" taught these things and got himself crucified by the Romans, it is a non-sequitor to assert that the existence of such a person provides any validation for the towering God-man character of the Gospels.

While you are correct that there is no evidence that the "Jesus Barabbas" mentioned in the Gospels taught these things or claimed to be the Son of God, I brought him up mainly to show that "Jesuses" getting arrested by Pilate for rebellion/subversion was common enough that even the Gospel writers show us two of them--until the editors decided to edit out the name "Jesus" for Barabbas in later texts.  The word "Barabbas" means "Son of the Father."  "Abba" is used as a name for God in the NT (as I recall, by Paul) when we are encouraged to pray to God as "Abba, Father" (indicating our intimate close relationship with God).  Of course, the Gospels do not give us any teachings of Barabbas.  I did not intend to make a positive claim that he called himself the Son of God or that he taught the same things the other "Jesus" did.  My main point is that, in the context of one Jesus, Son of the Father (yours) being arrested by Pilate for subversion, to find, even in the Gospels, another Jesus, Son of the Father (who proved important enough for later redactors to edit out) being arrested for the same or similar crime at the same time shows that we should not gasp in awe that at least one person named "Jesus" would have been crucified by Pilate around 33 C.E.  "Historical Jesuses" may have been a dime a dozen.

Which brings us to your last claim, the "Empty Tomb" and the belief of his followers that Jesus was resurrected.  The claim that Jesus was interred in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb, which was later found empty rests on confidence in the historical reliability of the Gospels.  Jesus' body could have just as easily been tossed in a pile with all the other crucifixion victims.  The character of Pilate as presented in the Gospels, as a sensitive but weak-willed soul who really didn't want to crucify the innocent Jesus, but bowed to the pressure of a rent-a-mob, and then generously permitted Jesus' followers to take his body down early and bury it with honor in a rich-man's rock tomb contradicts the way Pilate is portrayed by Josephus--a stubborn, brutal tyrant who seemed to delight in riding roughshod over Jewish sensibilities.

So we're left to trust the Gospels that this "Empty Tomb Mystery" even existed.  I think there are lots of reasons to distrust the Gospels as historical accounts, even after one discards the miracle-stories.  Time and again we have Gospel accounts of things neither the Gospel writers nor their oral-tradition predecessors could have known, such as things Jesus said, thought, and did while he was alone and/or all his disciples were asleep.  The Gospel writers moved various "Jesus stories" around in their narratives for literary purposes (Skitch posted a Christian apologist's detailed explanation for this in another thread, the link to which I have unfortunately lost), and made all sorts of totally unsubstantiated grandiose claims for Jesus (that "Magi" from the East came to revere him, that Herod initiated a massacre of children to kill him--obviously a copy of the same myth in the story of Moses, that he was followed by massive crowds, etc.).

Not to mention that they attribute super-powers to him!  I think there are a lot of credible reasons to doubt the validity of the Gospels.  Still, even accepting the "Empty Tomb" narrative, it's very weak in terms of providing evidence for a miraculous Resurrection.  We're told that the Romans stationed a cohort outside the tom of Jesus to prevent his disciples from stealing his body--a claim contradicted by the assertion that Jesus, when he was alive, was so insignificant that he was beneath the Romans' notice.  Would they really be more concerned about the corpse than about the living man?  If we grant that the "disciples stole the body" theory is a possibility, then a Roman cohort couldn't have stopped them--because the Romans gave the disciples the body to begin with!

If the Jewish elites were worried that the disciples would come up with a Resurrection myth while stealing the body to support it[1] the "secret" disciples (Joseph of Arimathea pops up out of nowhere, with enough influence to gain an audience with Pilate and persuade him to give him Jesus' body) could have had a corollary motive to hide the body so that Jesus' enemies could not desecrate it.  Joseph of Arimathea makes a show of sealing his tomb, while hiding the body elsewhere.  The women, kept in the dark, go to Joseph's tomb.  Mary mistakes a gardiner for Jesus (just like many people are portrayed mistaking Jesus for a resurrected John the Baptist), the other disciples mistake other people they meet on the road for Jesus, add in a few ecstatic visions and dreams, and you've got a Resurrection story that can grow in the telling.

Could there have been a cult centered on a Messiah-claimant named "Jesus?"  Sure.  Could he have taught some new doctrines, like granting himself the right to forgive sins?  Sure--it's not a bad way to get followers.  Could he have believed that his death would be redemptive, and that he would be resurrected?  Sure--the Heaven's Gate folks believed their deaths would beam them up to a UFO hiding in the Hale-Bopp comet.  From what I've read about the period, there were lots of sects and wacky apocalyptic prophets teaching all sorts of weird things.  That there could be one or more real people who served as inspiration for the teachings of the Jesus character in the Gospels does not change their essentially mythic/story (rather than biographical or historical) character. 

Do we have any evidence that a super-powered God-man walked around Judea followed by huge crowds of follwers, repeatedly repealing physics in front of "scribes" and many thousands of others, that his death caused a great earthquake, spontaneous emergence of dead from their graves, and a cosmological darkness over a city of 100,000 that contained the core of the region's litererate elite--who, amazingly, never notice any of this or consider it so commonplace it's not worth writing about?  No evidence whatsoever.


 1.  It is interesting that the Jewish elites are portrayed being so intimately familiar with Jesus' teachings that they were more aware of his predictions of a Resurrection than his own disciples (who, playing the Watson role to the hilt, "don't get it" at all until after the Resurrection is staring them in the face), when these same Jewish leaders are also supposed to have considered Jesus utterly insignificant and not worth writing any commentaries, counter-propaganda, etc. about.  Which is it? 

CAKE <-----------------> EAT
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 12, 2011, 03:42:48 PM
Did christ really exist?, pt 14 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg104807#msg104807)

One major attribute of a real "historical Jesus" (rather than just another cult leader) would be legitimate descent from the royal line of King David.  The Gospels provide us with geneologies for Jesus that trace his lineage to the great Israelite king.  This presents an interesting question.  We are supposed to believe that Jesus' family was able to keep a record of their geneology going back at least a thousand years to King David (Luke's geneology goes all the way back to the very first human being!), but also that they were illiterate yahoos who were incapable of recording any of the words and deeds of God Incarnate as he lived among them.  The geneologies contradict each other, but since all mainstream scholars accept the reliability of the Gospels, we have no choice but to accept that Jesus' adopted father Joseph had two biological fathers, Jacob (Matt. 1:16) and Heli (Luke 3:23).

As we follow these rickety geneologies back to David, we find something interesting: an almost total lack of evidence for the existence of David!  There is the Tel Dan inscription, which has been interpreted as referring to a Davidic dynasty (the House of David) or to a city named House of Praise (c.f. place names like "Bethlehem" ("House of Bread"), Bethsaida, etc.).  Source: http://members.dodo.com.au/%7Eneilgodfrey/arch/teldan.htm

Here is a survey of the rather scanty archaeological evidence for King David and his empire.  Remember that we're talking about a mighty kingdom that was supposed to have fielded an army larger than that of the United States! (2 Samuel 24:9).  Now, we see a familiar motif: scholars shrink David down from a mighty giant-killer with vast legions at his command and an empire that stretches from the Nile to the Euphrates, to a local chieftain that would not have achieved any contemporary notice.  There is, however, a problem with using the "Obscurity Defense."

The problem's name is Solomon.  Solomon was supposed to have ruled in great spendor, and have been so widely renowned for his great wisdom, that he was considered to have "excelled all the wisdom of Egypt" (1 Kings 4:30).  We have a lot of evidence for the "wisdom of Egypt," such as the extreme accuracy of astronomical alignment, and precision stonemasonry with which the Great Pyramid of Giza was built.  There is even some evidence that the Egyptians had developed a technology for machining stone[1] (though, how this was done is a mystery, since we only have what appear to be machined stone artifacts, but no machines).  The esoteric "secret wisdom" of ancient Egypt is legendary even today.  There is abundant evidence of the ancient world's admiration of the wisdom of the Egyptians.  Yet, there is not a single scrap of evidence for the international renown of an Israelite king named Solomon.  Not one inscription or other evidence that he was known to any other kingdom.  All we have of his vaunted "wisdom" is the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which do not stack up very well against other ancient literature (such as the Greek philosophers).

David and Solomon allegedly rest on the history of the Judges--which, being a series of petty tribal wars, we can accept the Obscurity Defense for without objection.  But before that, we have Joshua's sweeping conquest of Canaan--for which there is no evidence.  In fact, scholars now beleive that the Israelites emerged from the Canaanite population rather than invading from outside.  Leading up to this non-existent Conquest, we have the story of the Exodus, even grander miracle-wise than the wonders of Jesus.  And again we encounter something that is by now quite familiar: a total lack of evidence outside of the Bible.

Now, UnkleE, as I recall, you accept evolution in general (though perhaps as God's method of creation rather than as a purely natural process) and a 4.5 billion year age for the Earth.  Luke's geneology traces Jesus' descent back to Adam "the son of God."  Jesus bases his arguments against divorce on the Genesis account.  Am I wrong to think that the Creator of the Universe would know when he did it within at least a couple orders of magnitude?  Would God Incarnate really base moral doctrines on something he knew to be primitive superstition?  Since, as you point out so often, all mainstream scholars trust the reliability of the Gospel accounts (and we should accept their authoritative pronouncements to that effect), we have no choice but to accept that the "historical Jesus" really thought the world was created a few thousand years ago, and that the first human being, Adam, was made out of dirt, watched his wife hold a conversation with a talking snake, etc.

If so, the "historical Jesus" revealed in the Gospels could not have been an omniscient, omnipotent God Incarnate.  That conception of "Jesus" is still a myth.

The "historical Jesus" we're left with is propped up on a tall stack of incredibly rickety assertions (those contradictory geneologies leading back to other, equally mythic or mostly-mythic figures like David, Solomon, and Abraham).  The very most we can say about them, judging from the scholastic arguments you cite is that the Bible characters are wildly-exaggerated literary constructs that may have have been based on little kernels of real history here and there.  That's a terribly poor foundation to base one's world-view on.  Isn't Jesus portrayed saying something about not building a house on sand?


 1.  The author of this article developed a theory that the Great Pyramid was built as a power plant to harvest earthquake energy through piezoelectrics and sonics, which I consider ludicrous.  However, the physical artifacts he references exist, and their precision manufacture is self-evident.  Even though his hypothesis of powered machinery is almost certainly wrong (I don't know of any evidence of Egypt having an infrastructure to support it!), they must have found some quite clever way to accomplish such precision manufacture.  Any evidence of comparable inventiveness on Solomon's part?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 12, 2011, 03:48:43 PM
Did christ really exist?, pt 15 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg107369#msg107369)

UnkleE,

To me, the question of a "historical Jesus" seems a lot like asking if there was a historical Count Dracula.  One the one hand, we can say, "Yes, all mainstream scholars are certain that there really was a Vlad ('the Impaler') Tepes who took the moniker "Dracul" upon being inducted into a crusading order (organized to resist the Turks) called the Order of the Dragon, and that he was a very unpleasant personage.  Therefore, there is a historical Count Dracula."  On the other hand, we could say "None of this "opens the door" to the existence of vampires, or to accepting that Vlad Tepes was immortal/undead, that he could shape-change into an animal, turn into mist, or climb walls like a spider.  'Count Dracula' is a myth.'"

If we take away the miracles and other grandiose claims about Jesus (that he was known to the Magi, that Herod tried to murder him by killing all the young boys in the region of Bethlehem, that the chief priests and Pharisees were closely familiar with his doctrines and considered him a threat, etc.) then what you have left is, in my opinion, a completely different character than the "Jesus" of the four canonical Gospels, or at least so different that accepting the former does not lend any credence to accepting the latter.

I am not an NT scholar, and I have not read them all as you have.  I have read Eisenmann's James, the Brother of Jesus (though due to a move my copy is in storage in another state, so I can't cite it in proper scholarly form).  I think, based on my own reading of the Gospels and on Eisenmann, that the "Jesus" of the Gospels is a composite of at least two distinct strains of teaching[1]

In the Gospels, Jesus is often portrayed sounding very Jewish, claiming that not one yohd or one serif ("jot or tittle") of the Torah will disappear "until all things be fulfilled," that he has come only for "the lost sheep of Israel," etc.  His inner circle includes "Zealots" (fanatical Jewish rebels).  He unleashes thundering diatribes at the Jewish elites for their corruption and hypocrisy ("Whitewashed sephulcres!  Hypocrites!") and predicts lots of fire-and-brimstone Old Testament-style wrath to come, comparable to the writings of the Essenes and other Jewish fundamentalists.

Other times he's portrayed as pro-Gentile, commending the faith of Roman centurions, telling his followers to "go the extra mile" carrying a Roman soldier's pack for him, etc.  He is portrayed distancing himself from the Jews' most holy scriptures with the formula, "It says in your Torah x, but I say y"--hardly the sort of thing we would expect from a devout Jewish Rabbi!  Then he teaches pacifism, non-judgementalism (completely contradicting the highly-judgemental Jesus who rails against the Pharisees and others, like the man who wanted to attend his father's funeral before following him), unconditional love, and cooperation with Rome (paying Roman taxes, etc.).  The Gospel of John even starts with a mystical preamble identifying him as the Logos, the celestial mediating proportion/rationality-aspect of the Divine that unites the material and celestial/spiritual realms in Hellenistic cosmology.

If "Jesus" is a composite character, this would explain how scholars and ordinary readers of the Gospels can see him in so many different ways.  There could be at least two, and possibly more, strains of teaching that were merged to form the "Jesus" of the Gospels, which could imply two or more "historical Jesuses."  We already accept that "Yeshua" was a common name at the time.  Furthermore, "Yeshua" ("Joshua") is the name of the conquering "hero" of the OT book by that name, hence a good name for a would-be Messiah to adopt even if it was not his real given name.  If you have lots of people running around quoting "sayings of Jesus" it would be possible for the sayings of more than one "Jesus" to be integrated together, just as the "J, E, D, and P" sources were compiled together to form the Torah (so far as I know, JEDP is very much a "mainstream scholarly" theory, though I could be wrong). 

The Greek name "Jesus" (Iesous) is very different phonetically from the Hebrew "Yeshua" and "happens" to add up (by adding the numerical value of the Greek letters) to 888, a very significant number in Pythagorean mystical mathematics/"sacred science."  To me this and other hints (such as the mystical geometric diagrams encoded in miracle-stories like the "Miraculous Catch of Fish") provide evidence that whatever "historical Yeshua(s)" there may have been, was/were reconfigured and mythologized to form the God-man of the Gospels.
As PastorAlan points out, "miracles" are teaching-aids, not a means to solve problems.  As such, they can teach just as well if they are fictional, like any other parable/allegory.  "Miracle-stories" would be even more effective as teaching-lessons if they're taken to be didactic myth rather than real events, since we then would not have believers hoping miracles will solve their problems ("Please, God!  Cure my son's cancer!") and skeptics saying things like "Why won't God heal amputees?"  There would be no distractions and people (believers and nonbelievers) could evaluate whatever lessons the miracle-stories are really supposed to be teaching.

Regarding the reliability of the Gospels, I see plenty of good reasons to doubt their reliability as historical documents, though I readily admit I am not a "mainstream scholar."

There may well be accurate history in there somewhere, just as there appears to have been a real Trojan War behind the stories of the Illiad and Odyssey.  But until I've had a chance to read your mainstream scholars and find out where their absolutely unshakeable certainty comes from, I see no reason to accept the Gospels' God-man figure any more than I accept the historicity of a magically-invulnerable Achilles or the Goddess Athena.

There is no coroborrating evidence for the towering miraculous God-man of the Gospels.  This is an inescapable brute fact.  We can get out the Shrink-O-Matic and either reduce him to a plausible figure who for whom the Gospels are sufficient evidence, or argue that Judea was soooo far-flung and so primitive that no one cared enough about the place to write about what happened there, even when the events were literally earth-shaking.

There is no coroborrating evidence for the towering miraculous God-man of the Gospels.  This is an inescapable brute fact.  People can come up with all sorts of explanations as to why this would be so even if the Gospels were, well, Gospel Truth.  Needless to say, such arguments are not very persuasive.

In relation to your "stage 1" acceptance of a "historical Jesus," I'll have to get a lot more information (i.e. read the scholars you cite) before I get anywhere near the absolute confidence and certainty they have regarding a "historical Jesus."  I find that certainty itself a bit strange, given that they've admitted (in other quotes you cite) that the evidentiary standards of ancient history have to be looser than what we have for other sciences or even recent history, due to the nature of the evidence.  Maybe they've got the evidence to back it up.  Until I've had a chance to evaluate at least some of that evidence, I'm not going to take them on pure faith, any more than I'll believe string theory is true (even though most mainstream physicists seem to accept it) until it has some experimental validation to back it up.  Until then, it is, in the words of Wolfgang Pauli, "not even wrong."  The mainstream can be wrong, and has been in the past. 


 1.  Eisenmann, as I recall, argues for a real "historical Jesus" who was a Jewish fundamentalist revolutionary, who was later outshined in popularity by his brother and dynastic successor James "the Just," but that the Hellenistic Pauline sect overwrote the Gospels to shrink the importance of James in the early Church and Hellenize Jesus.  This is, of course, a vast over-simplification of a huge book, but I think Eisenman makes a good case for his position.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 03:38:22 PM
I am going to leave out all but the best posts from this “Did Christ really exist?” thread.  It goes on for 41 pages.  I recommend you all read it when you can.  It has many good contributions from other members.   
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 03:40:43 PM
DCRE part 16  (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg114452#msg114452) (because it’s very good)

Quote from: Dawiyhd
An atheistic world view can not logically account for invariate immaterial entities such as the law of logic. As such those that hold that world view, do so in opposition to itself, creating intellectual discordance and forcing compartmentalizing.

Not so.

Axiom #1: Existence Exists
Axiom #2: Each thing that exists manifests Identity (it is what it is and not something else)
Axiom #3: Consciousness exists, being the faculty of perceiving Existence.

These axioms form a self-evident, irreducible and inescapable starting point for all cognition and action.  It is not possible to deny any of these axioms without implicitly accepting them, i.e., without contradicting oneself.  Stating any proposition at all rests on the Existence of the person you're talking to (why try to convince a non-existent entity of something?), that they manifest Identity (the person you're talking to won't turn into Abraham Lincoln or a bowling ball that hatches a baby elephant while singing opera), and Consciousness (they will be able to perceive your argument and perhaps be convinced by it).

From Axiom #1 we get "A is A."  From Axiom #2 we get "A cannot be non-A at the same time and in the same respect."  From Axiom #3 we get the purpose of logic, which is to persuasively communicate identification and integration of facts of existence to another consciousness.

Nowhere here are any theistic deities required, or even desirable in establishing the validity of logic. 

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 03:43:22 PM
DCRE part 17 (http://=http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg114491#msg114491) (because it’s very good)


Quote from: Dawiyhd
Quote from: kcrady
Nowhere here are any theistic deities required, or even desirable in establishing the validity of logic. 

You have done nothing but restate the laws of logic, which does nothing. You still have not accounted for the existence of said entities in a materialistic natural world view.

They're not "entities" like bowling balls or radio waves.  They're self-evident, inescapable generalized principles of The Way Things Are.  Any attempt to "account for their existence" assumes that their existence is a mystery, i.e. that their non-existence is the normal state of affairs, so something must have caused them to exist.  But the very act of proposing such a "something" (such as a god or gods) must rest on the premise that the god(s) Exist, have Identity (they are gods and not mortals or bacteria), and (in most theistic systems) Consciousness.  In other words, the concept of a deity rests on the Axioms, not the other way around.  It is not possible to make any form of "accounting" for anything from the perspective of a Void where no Existence, Identity, or Consciousness exists.  Nor is it possible to imagine a deity existing in a state where there is no such thing as Existence, Identity, or Consciousness.  You have to have the Axioms first before you can attempt to posit the reality of any particular entity, such as a god that Exists, has Identity, and is Conscious.

To propose (as you seem to be doing) that a deity invented the Axioms is self-contradictory.  How can it invent Existence if it does not first Exist?  How can it legislate Identity if it does not first possess Identity as a being capable of legislating?  How can it think to create the Axiom of Consciousness if it is not itself Conscious?  Can you explain to me how a deity lacking Existence, Identity, and Consciousness can create them?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 03:46:38 PM
DCRE part 18 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=4928.msg114676#msg114676) (because it’s very good)

Quote from: Dawiyhd
No. Any attempt to account for their existence is a means of analyzing ones own world view for inconsistencies in known reality. Their is no implications of non-existence.

You don't get it.  The Axioms are an irreducible, inescapable starting point.  You cannot even attempt to "account for their existence."  "Accounting for existence" depends on the prior axiomatic concept "Existence" (and the prior axiomatic concept "Consciousness," since "accounting" is something that cannot take place appart from a consciousness that does it) in the same way that a stack of bricks depends on the brick on the bottom.  You cannot evaluate the stability of your stack of bricks by pulling out the brick on the bottom and comparing it with all of the other bricks.
Quote from: Dawiyhd
I don't remember talking about deities? Where talking about how your materialistic worldview can not account for invariate non-material entities such as the law of logic.

You have a short memory.  A couple posts back you made the claim that an atheistic world view cannot account for the existence of logic.  The only alternative to an atheistic world view is a theistic world view--in other words, belief in a deity.
Quote from: Dawiyhd
This is random babbling. How do you account for the existence of the laws of logic with a worldview that believes you can only learn  by observing nature

Oh, that's easy.

Step 1: Get an anvil.

Step 2: Drop the anvil on your foot.

Step 3: Repeat until you are persuaded that:

A) Your foot and the anvil Exist.

B)  Your foot has Identity as an appendage of flesh, blood, bone and nerves, and the anvil has Identity as a large, heavy object that behaves in a certain manner (falls when dropped).

C)  That you possess Consciousness, being able to perceive the reality of A and B, and the results of dropping the anvil on your foot (Causality, a corollary of the Axioms of Existence and Identity).

Step 4: If you are not convinced that the Axioms can be observed in the natural world after repeating Steps 1-3 more than two or three times, perform the procedure again, but drop the anvil on your head instead of your foot. 

Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 03:55:19 PM
Numbers 31 Challenge (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5435.msg91461#msg91461)

Quote from: Solvalou
I'll do that right after your proof as requested in an old thread of mine that god doesn't always intervene for the best possible outcome of this world. Because if you can't prove that, whatever point of proving god cruel for letting and/or inspiring his followers to do that things, can't stand 100%, so can't logically stand for your high standards of atheist reasoning.

Hey, don't get mad at me, I didn't write your holy book.  Your relative incoherence here (and the exaggerated, whiny tone of the bolded words above) gives me the impression you're fuming at the computer screen right now.  That's OK.  Just take a moment to think about why Numbers 31:17-18 doesn't fill you with inner peace and feelings of love.  Then think about it some more.

Now, I think I missed whatever challenge you'd proposed in some old thread of yours.  But (if I'm interpreting you correctly here) you're claiming that this is the best of all possible worlds, and that the atrocities described in the Old Testament and promised for the future in the New are necessary and unavoidable if "the best possible outcome" is to be achieved.  DTE's "Logic 101" bit is correct, but there are a couple points to make in relation to this.

1) Christians claim that their god is omnipotent and perfectly loving.  Omnipotence, by definition, has unlimited options available to it.  Omnipotence cannot be constrained by other, non-omnipotent forces (e.g. "Satan" or "sin") and forced to take a course of action that, while horrible, is the best option it can find.  "Free will" isn't a problem either, since omnipotence, combined with omniscience has unlimited possibilities in arranging a universe and a history that would result in a freely chosen "best possible outcome."  "Free will" does not stop God's plan anyway (the Bible is very clear in claiming this), so it could not be an obstacle to a better plan.[1]  In order for you to claim that omnipotence and omniscience could not have produced a better plan, you would have to possess these faculties yourself.

Example: Let's say we had Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation on our side during WWII (in case never watched ST:TNG, Q was a mischeivous alien with "omnipotence" of a sort, in that he could wave his hand and stuff would happen, including the creation of whole worlds).  Would we have had to storm the beaches of Normandy, and fight all those bloody battles, from the Bulge to Iwo Jima?  Of course not!  Q waves his hand, and *bling* the Nazis and Japanese vanish, or are disarmed, and Hitler and Tojo are hanging in gibbets from the White House facade.  With omnipotence available, Allied war planners would not have had to make plans that would cause enormous suffering for everyone involved, as the only way to get the "best possible outcome" (Allied victory).

2) "Best possible outcome"--for whom?  Obviously not the young Midianite girls!  Since they were Pagans, that means they get to suffer eternal torment in Hell, in addition to the brutality they endured at the hands of the Israelites.  Not to mention the rest of their families.  So, for them, and everyone else who, for whatever reason (e.g. being born in Iran) doesn't toady before the Great Cosmic Bully in just the right way (being a heretical Christian doesn't count!), they (we) all get the worst possible outcome.

3) Since it is you that is proposing to add something extra to the understanding of Universe we hold in common--namely, the proposition that an omnnimax God exists, is perfectly good and loving, and is revealed for us in the Bible--it is you who has the burden of proof to show that: A) such an entity exists; and B) the deity described in the Bible is consistent with your proposal.  Which means, it's up to you to demonstrate that this is the best of all possible worlds, that even an omnimax could not do better.  This last is absurd, since we mere humans have made a large segment of our world a lot better in many ways during the last few centuries.  We still have lots of work ahead of us, but we have a much better world than the one Jesus lived in.

Your turn.  The excercise awaits.



 1.  Heck, I'm just a puny mortal, and I've got a better plan: it's called "freedom of religion."  Let's say I'm in God's glowing sandals.  So a few Israelites want to marry Midianites and worship the Ba'al of Peor?  Go for it!  If I'm the omnipotent creator of billions of galaxies, I'm sure I'll get along just fine without their worship and servitude.  Kinda silly for an omnimax superbeing to be jealous of a statue, don't you think?  And if I just gotta be worshipped and praised, I got a plan for that too: be the Ba'al of Peor for them!  I can talk out of a statue as easily as a burning bush or a donkey or an old book.  I can wear whatever mask people need to see.  Even female masks.  That's right.  I can be Goddess as well as God, and why not?  You don't really think an omnipresent, transcendant-and-immanent superduperbeing actually has a penis, do you?  And through each of these masks, I tell my children two simple things: Be excellent to each other.  Take good care of this beautiful planet, it's the only one you've got.  And if some barbarian like Moses or Hitler starts salivating over the prospect of massacring people, I use my unlimited powers to turn him into a young Midianite girl or a Jew.  And I make that a general principle: you become the sort of person you would hate, exploit, and victimize, until you learn empathy.  Nobody gets tortured, nobody goes to Hell.  Heaven, the Elysian Fields, another go-round on Earth (reincarnation), a life in your favorite fictional universe (Wanna be a Jedi?)--it's all yours, have a happy death.  I came up with this in minutes.  And I'm not even close to being omniscient.   
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 03:57:23 PM
Numbers 31 Challenge (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5435.msg94202#msg94202) continuted...

So far, the replies of JtW and Solvalou have brilliantly demonstrated why Abrahamic religious memes are so dangerous.  Both of them have agreed that genocide and mass child-molestation/sex slavery are acceptable practices if you and/or your tribal/religious collective will benefit from it.  In Solvalou's terminology, this is reflected in God's "plan of salvation" and the "greater good" that results from the atrocities described and predicted for the future in the Bible.  JtW is less flowery about it, and defends it in terms of a nakedly barbaric Nietschean/Darwinian struggle to outbreed other tribes.  Ironically, JtW's philosophy is what the Bible and its God are supposed to save us from.  "If people didn't believe in God we'd all run amok killing each other!  We need God to give us morality and compassion for others!" 

In Solvalou's case, he expects to benefit personally from the massacre of the Midianites and the molestation of their virgin daughters, so he has reason to sanction it.  The "plan of salvation" that makes it possible for "him and his" (i.e. those who believe as he does) to go to heaven could not be implemented without "breaking some eggs."  Bible atrocities are necessary in order for him to be able to go to Heaven and have an eternity of bliss.  Which, interestingly enough, is the exact same motivation held by the 9/11 hijackers.

Now, if Solvalou were some crazed, frothing-at-the-mouth nutjob, then we could dismiss him as an anomaly, a fanatic, and say that Christianity is still a noble religion of peace and love that just happens to attract a few cranks.  But he isn't.  As far as I can tell, Solvalou is an intelligent, and most likely, generally nice person no one would be afraid to have for a neighbor.  What is truly pernicious and diabolical about Christianity is that it can take ordinary, good-hearted people like Solvalou, Fran, UnkleE, etc. and get them to sanction the most horrifying atrocities, and even own them as something they, the believers, will benefit handsomely from for eternity.  As instruments for making good people sanction (and do) horribly evil things, the Religions of the Book are matched only by the Religions of the State.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 04:01:36 PM
On morality (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5554.msg95748#msg95748)

Quote from: deko
If I am nothing more than an animal there is no such thing as good and evil or any kind of certain moral code. Now I know that it might not be helpful to the ever evolving evolutionary group, or even members of my own clan, but as distasteful and unhelpful to all of you as it might seem, isn't it evil to kill, rape and eat a child on my block? If we are nothing more than animals it is not evil, it might not be helpful to the group, but not evil. A moral code created outside of humanity would make it evil, not evolution. If I and the child are animals then it's not evil, you need to coin another word for what it is, not evil.

Before we can define any act as "good" or "evil," we must have a standard, a measuring-stick by which we can evaluate it.  The arbitrary will of some Boss, whether it be a ruler on Earth or a King in the Sky, is insufficient as a basis for any real morality.  In such a code, the Boss is, by definition above morality, and may thus change his whims at will, commanding the very things his code decrees are "evil"--and thus transmuting them into "good."  We see this frequently in the Bible.  Moses comes down from the mountain with the vaunted Ten Commandments, including "Thou shalt not kill"--and the very first thing he does, after shattering the sacred tablets in a fit of rage (because people who had not yet seen the First and Second Commandments, were not obeying them), is to gather the Levites and slaughter 3,000 people for worshipping the golden calf.  The Biblegod goes on to violate the Second Commandment (no graven images) by commanding that graven images of Cherubim be fashioned to mount on the "mercy seat" of the Ark of the Covenant, commanding genocide, and so forth.  Believers in the Biblegod then find themselves in the position of rationalizing all this while at the same time claiming to be the sole possessors of "moral absolutes."

Then they claim that Jesus came along and superceded the "everlasting ordinances" of the Old Covenant and created a whole new moral code ("turn the other cheek" instead of "an eye for an eye"), further demonstrating the relative and situational nature of Biblical ethics.  Add to this the difficulties in finding "divine revelation" in a "holy-book" as explained in my previous post in this thread.

A genuinely objective moral code, if such is to be found, must be sought in reality itself.  Virtually all of us desire to survive and flourish.  Those that do not (i.e. the suicidal and masochistic) are generally considered to be mentally unhealthy.  Therefore, we can use as an objective standard and goal of morality, "the survival and flourishing of human beings and the biosphere upon which they depend."  Human beings are entities of a specific nature, having specific attributes, abilities, and limitations, a specific means of survival, and so on.  Therefore, certain things will advance or hinder human survival and flourishing.

Just as regular maintainence is "good" for a car, and driving it into a wall at high speed is "bad" for it, so is it possible for us to determine by observation what is "good" for humans, and what is "bad" or "evil."  If you are a child, obviously, you would not want to be eaten by one of your neighbors.  If you have a child, obviously you woud not want him or her to be eaten by your neighbors.  If you live as part of a society, then the practice of child-eating would not make that a society you would wish to live in.  A simple extension of empathy to others in exchange for reciprocal empathy extended toward you is sufficient to define and establish a moral code for a working society.

Human beings survive by applying their intelligence to the problems of life ("how can I shape this piece of obsidian into a useful tool or weapon for hunting?  Which berries and tubers can I eat?  What can I do to make money?  What is the purpose of my life?") and by cooperating with other humans to achieve survival and flourishing at levels no individual can accomplish alone.  Those things which hinder or destroy the ability of the individual to use his/her mind and act on his/her thinking (bound by the imperative to recognize the same liberty in others), or which hinder or destroy the ability to coexist peacefully and cooperatively in society may be objectively defined as "evil."  Those things which benefit human survival and flourishing (and the survival and flourishing of the planetary biosphere on which humans depend) may be objectively defined as "good."   

This is, of course, a very brief overview.  There are issues that present challenging ethical dilemnas (such as late-term abortion).  However, the "basics" (don't kill, don't steal, dont' eat your neighbors' children) that you're proposing as "Moral Law" can be derived and understood quite easily by most humans.  Human evil generally results from creating a moral double-standard: what is evil when done to me or to "Us" is permissable or even "good" when done to "Them."  Moral progress is the extension of the empathy horizon to redefine "Them" as "Us."

A genuinely objective moral code would have to be a set of generalized operating principles of Universe that relate to human behavior.  Just as "force = mass x acceleration" or "triangles are self-bracing" are generalized principles that are applicable at all times and in all special-case applications, generalized operating principles of morality must also be seen as always-applicable.  Therefore, recognizing a generalized moral principle in one special-case circumstance ("It is wrong to initiate violence against one of Us") and violating it in another ("It is righteous and heroic to initiate violece against one of Them") is self-contradictory and hypocritical.

This concept of morality as objectively derivable from human nature and the requirements of survival and flourishing is consistent with the Deist appeal in the American Declaration of Independence to "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God" as validation for the American revolutionary project.  However, the language should be updated to replace "Laws" with "Principles," since the implicit notion that an apple falls when dropped because some "law" orders it to is silly.

Now, you have critiqued atheist concepts of evolved altruism (which is not the morality I'm discussing here) on the premise that it results in the sanction of genocide and assault on children.  Please read Numbers 31:17-18 and explain whether the actions described there are morally justified or not.


Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 04:11:35 PM
From deism to biblegod (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5554.msg96022#msg96022)

Quote from: blaize
Quote from: kcrady
Now, you have critiqued atheist concepts of evolved altruism (which is not the morality I'm discussing here) on the premise that it results in the sanction of genocide and assault on children.  Please read Numbers 31:17-18 and explain whether the actions described there are morally justified or not.

First, I am not sure where you are getting your interpretation for Numbers 31 from. I would note that there is a distinction between the Hebrew world for "murder" and the Hebrew word for "kill". Second, Jesus didn't come to superseded the everlasting covenant, but to fulfill it as priest and sacrifice, both which are part of the Old Covenant. The Bible is consistent here: The penalty of sin is death. They disobeyed God, and God killed them according to his own law. They tried to take matters into there own hands by not relying on God's grace and mercy. The morality that Jesus preached is found in the Old Testament. What he was referring to in an "eye for an eye" was not coming from the old covenant, but from the scribes and pharisees of the day that were teaching something contrary to the ethics of the old testament. It is true that Jesus preached a message of mercy, but only in light of God. It is very clear that if one wants to take matters into his own hands (ie worship another God, thus rejecting Jesus and God) then he will receive due punishment.

Cliff Notes version: It's OK to commit genocide as long as we think it's what the Biblegod wants, and we "kill" everybody instead of "murdering" them.
Quote from: blaize
Second, if survival is a basis for morality, you create a whole other set of problems. What if killing all people with brown eyes were beneficial to human survival. In this case, killing off all non-browned people would in essence increase the survivability of humans.

Made-up "what ifs" are a lousy basis for morality.  What if the Biblegod decreed that all brown-eyed people ought to be killed?
Quote from: blaize
This may seems far fetched, but consider something that is not so far fetched: people of Arian descent are more well-suited for survival than those who are not. Therefore killing off all those who are not of Arian descent will increase the survivability of the human race. This is the same justification that the Third Reich used to kill Jews and the Japanese Empire used to kill Manchurian Chinese.

And they were proven wrong about all that racial-superiority nonsense, now, weren't they?  Again, from your perspective, Hitler would have been perfectly righteous in instituting the Holocaust if he sincerely beleived that the Biblegod wished to punish Jews for killing and continuing to reject their Messiah--perhaps because he heard The Voice in his head tell him to.[1]  To repeat your closing line from the quote above,, "It is very clear that if one wants to take matters into his own hands (ie worship another God, thus rejecting Jesus and God) then he will receive due punishment."

If yyou had read my previous post more thoroughly, you would have noticed that I pointed out that evil arises from individuals applying a moral double-standard based on a concept of "Us" and "Them."  Ask any Nazi, "Do you think it would be a good thing to round up lots of beautiful blonde Aryans, starve them to death and shove them into ovens?" you would get an immediate "No!" in answer.  Nazism would have been impossible under a universal moral standard ("What's wrong if done to Us is also wrong if done to Them"). 

It takes some doing to get people to shut off their capacity for empathy.  The Nazis used incredible amounts of propaganda, pageantry, and stirring Hitlerian oratory to turn people against their Jewish neighbors, and they had hundreds of years of Christian "blood libel" doctrine to help them.  The Bible also demonstrates considerable effort being put to the task of shutting down human empathy in order to make atrocities possible.  "Thine eye shall not pity them."
Quote from: blaize
Additionally, such an definition of "good" and "bad" is not sufficient to account for for all that is "good" and all that is "bad". How does such a judgment apply to something like "a good day" or a "good nap" These things would be difficult to evaluate in that context.

That's because you've switched the context from moral good to unrelated concepts of "good."  That is like saying that Valentine's Day as a celebration of "love" is inadequate because it doesn't cover the idea of "loving" chocolate sundaes or the Green Bay Packers.

What is a "good" day?  When the Mongols don't ride over the hill and burn your house down.  What's a "good" nap?  One you wake up from refreshed without any adverse consequences (e.g. getting fired from your job or crashing your car).
Quote from: blaize
Third, "Laws" as defined in science are really just abduction based on what had been observed in science. These "Laws" do not dictate that an action will occur. I think that we agree there. However, it does raise the question, "Could it have been another way?", and if it were another way, then what might it look like. Many of the constants in nature such as the speed of light in a vacuum, Avogadro's number, the gravitational constant, and others. There is such a delicate balance of these numbers that some have suggested that the universe was established with the "Anthropic Design Principle". This idea suggests that God did indeed establish laws (if you please) to govern the universe that it would support life. This principle was fundamental in a physicists and atheist-turned-Christian Frank Tipler's conversion.

If you re-check the title of this thread and the OP, you will see that for the purposes of this thread, no one is disputing this.  We are assuming, for the sake of argument, that such things as "anthropic" cosmological constants or some other "philosophical" argument for some sort of Deity(-ies) is considered valid, so we are at the point of accepting Deism.  The question is, can you use these sorts of scientific or philosophical arguments to select the Biblegod as the true one rather than the Deist God, the Korangod, the Heliopolitan Ennead, Brahmin, or any other "revealed" deity.

In other words, can the more logical arguments for Deity (Anthropic Principle, First Cause/Unmoved Mover, Intelligent Design, etc.) be used to substantiate the Biblegod as opposed to the other "revealed" religions and Deism?  For the purposes of this thread, I'm defending Deism.


 1.  Abraham is portrayed hearing a voice he interpreted as being that of the Biblegod telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac.  He obeyed this voice without question, and for that he is hailed as "the father of faith" for the three dominant monotheistic religions.  Anyone else does this, and we fit them for a straitjacket.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 04:16:48 PM
Is god a jerk? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5888.msg113970#msg113970)


Quote from: Solvalou
If god is evil, then worshiping a loving and just god is the ultimate rebellion.

Hmmm, that's a very interesting quote, Solvalou.  I might have to make that my signature.  Searching the Bible for a loving and just god, one would have to choose Nakhash (the Serpent).
•   He is portrayed treating humans with respect
•   He issues no commands or threats
•   He engages in Socratic dialogue and tells the truth about Jehovah's motive for forbidding humans access to the Fruit of Knowledge
•   He never even asks them to eat it--simply tells them the truth and lets them decide for themselves
•   The Fruit offers them "knowledge of good and evil," i.e. morality and conscience as opposed to blind obedience to force-backed commands
•   He offers them the opportunity to become "as gods" as a free gift, without demanding obedience, worship, praise, love, sacrifices, or anything else in return.

In Ezekiel 28, he is identified as the spiritual "King of Tyre," i.e. the spiritual principle underlying the Phoenician civilizationn (28:12-15).
•   The Phoenicians were an advanced, prosperous, cultured society of traders and explorers
•   They invented the alphabet
•   The "great" King Solomon is portrayed going to Tyre for artisans and crafstmen to build Jehovah's temple because his (and "His") own people are so primitive they have none
•   The Phoenicians, being open-minded and accepting of other people's religious beliefs, agree to Solomon's request
•   Ezekiel 27 provides a long description of Tyre as a model city--peaceful, prosperous, and well-governed, even as the prophet tries to condemn it
•   Despite condemning the "King of Tyre" for "violence," (28:16) Ezekiel cannot cite a single example, though he spews forth a storm of savage threats from his own Satanic deity
•   The "King of Tyre" is an able protector, successfully defending his city against the attack by Nebuchadnezzar which Ezekiel says his deity instigated (29:18).  Ezekiel's god then promises Nebuchadnezzar Egypt as "wages" for attacking Tyre (i.e., to "pay" him the promised loot he did not get from Tyre)--a promise that also fails, as Nebuchadnezzar never conquered Egypt

You are, of course, quite correct that Christians would consider it "the ultimate rebellion" to worship the Serpent.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 04:18:55 PM
Is god a jerk? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5888.msg113987#msg113987)  Pt2


Quote from: Monik
Wow, that serpent souns like quite a guy. Actually, the first five points on your first list would make some great 'commandments' to live by; treat others with respect, don't command/threaten, always tell the truth, always seek the truth. I may have to tell the next Born Again I meet that I've decided to follow the teachings of the snake from the Adam and Eve story :D

Exactly.  If you read the Bible applying the principle "Actions speak louder than words," it is inescapably clear that the Serpent operates on far superior ethical principles.  Drop the a priori assumption that "Whatever Jehovah does is Perfectly Good because it's him doing it," and it is easy to see that Jehovah meets all of the attributes of the character we refer to as "the Devil."  The Serpent is described in Ezekiel 28 as an "anointed[1] cherub that covereth" (the word translated "covereth" refers to establishing a hedge of protection) who has the courage and integrity to stand up to Jehovah's tyranny and offer humans the opportunity to live up to our fullest potential, rather than seeking to make us his slaves.

 1.  The word for "anointed" in this verse is the derived from the same root from which we get the word "messiah."  Interestingly, the numerical equivalent (gematria) of the Hebrew letters for the words "Serpent" and "Messiah" add up to the same value: 

Serpent: Nun (50) + Kheth (8) + Shin (300), total = 358

Messiah: Mem (40) + Shin (300) + Yohd (10) + Kheth (8) = 358
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on January 30, 2012, 04:45:38 PM
Is god a jerk? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5888.msg114421#msg114421)  Pt3



Quote from: Monik
What are the implications for this, belief-wise? Isn't all of this very good evidence that what we think of as 'the Bible' was never made to be put into a single book, since it's so incoherent? And how do Christians get away from the fact that the Serpent could be portrayed as so 'good' at the start of the Bible and then conveniently become evil by the end of it?

In mythic terms, the Abrahamic religions represent the apotheosis of the "Dominator" paradigm.  While Pagan Sky Kings like Zeus and Odin ruled over other gods, Jehovah's thirst for domination is so complete that he ultimately could not even tolerate other deities as subordinates.  While the Bible begins with henotheism (one god dominant over a pantheon)--in Genesis 1 the Elohim (gods) do the creating, and Jehovah says "let us" do each step.  In Exodus, Jehovah issues the command to worship no other gods beside him--which inherently assumes the existence of other gods for him to be jealous of.  Only in the historical books and the Prophets do we begin to see skeptical attempts to debunk the existence of other deities (all arguments that work equally well against the existence of Jehovah as a supernatural entity

Since the archetypal enemy of the Dominator is the principled rebel and independent thinker, it was necessary mythically to portray such a being as the root of all "evil" (which, for followers of Jehovah means disobedience, questioning, doubt, and the like rather than evil according to a real system of ethics).2  Since the Dominator paradigm is also patriarchal (men generally possess greater physical strength and military utility than women) the Feminine must also be propagandistically labeled as "bad" or "inferior."  Eve's name in Hebrew (Chavah) means "to breathe" (i.e. "life") and comes from a root word meaning "to show, interpret, explain, inform, tell, declare."

The word for "Serpent" comes from a word meaning "to practice divination, divine, observe signs, learn by experience, diligently observe, practice fortunetelling, take as an omen."  In other words, the Serpent is a symbol for knowledge, both scientific and magical (which were thought of as the same thing in Biblical times).  Taken together, the names of the Serpent and Eve constitute the gathering and dissemination of knowledge, which is the greatest threat to the Dominator paradigm.

The Serpent is never identified with "Satan" in the OT.  The OT "Satan" is uniformly portrayed as an officer of Jehovah's court, a Grand Inquisitor who accuses people before the King, and engages in entrapment techniques (called "tempting," the word for which actually means to "prove," i.e. test the loyalty of) in order to root out disobedience and subversion.  This can be seen by looking up "Satan" in a concordance and reading all of the OT verses.

In the NT, the picture of "Satan" gets more muddled.  Sometimes he is portrayed fulfilling his OT role as Jehovah's Grand Inquisitor (e.g. tormenting a man in a relationship with his father's wife at the invocation of Paul and the Corinthian church so that the man's spirit can be saved--1 Cor. 5:4-5), while at other times he is given some of Jehovah's nastier attributes and turned into a rival Dominator.  It is only in the Book of Revelation that "Satan" and the Serpent are finally labeled as the same being.  By this time the Serpent is portrayed as having the exact same goal as Jehovah--to establish a global theocratic dictatorship and ruthlessly slaughter all who reject it--even though this is wildly inconsistent with his character in the OT.

This, too is an attribute of the Dominator mindset.  We see in Revelation 4 that Jehovah surrounds himself with yes-men (and yes-creatures) whose sole purpose for existing is to bow down before him and praise him, over and over again, forever.  Any Dominator who becomes that self-absorbed loses the ability to imagine other people having different motivations than his own.  This is why megalomaniacs like Nero, Herod, Stalin, etc. descend into paranoia as they assume that everyone wants to sieze their throne as badly as they want to hold onto it.  So when Jehovah attempts to predict the future, he makes the assumption that his enemy the Serpent shares his motivations and goals, and will act in the same way he does, seeking power through conquest and domination.  In his "mind"3 there is simply no other possible way to be.

The Bible begins by projecting the image of the archetypal foe and opposite of the Dominator, and ends with the assumption (in the minds of the Dominator's propagandists) that no such opposite is even conceivable.  And thus all of the things the Serpent and Eve represent are first condemned, then demonized, then finally rendered literally unthinkable.

However, it could be argued that this represented a major error on Jehvah's part.  By proclaiming that the Serpent must set up a vicious theocratic dictatorship before he can come back and establish his own, Jehovah has allowed the Serpent to trap him in his own spell simply by refusing to participate.  Thus, the New Testament's promises of the imminent arrival of Jehovah's kingdom are foiled by the fact that the Serpent is not the mirror-reflection Jehovah assumes he must be.  Instead, the Serpent has opened the door for humanity to become "as gods" through the accelerating advancement of science and technology, while Jehovah has been forced to pit his own followers against each other (Christians and Jews vs. Muslims) in hopes of creating a Gotterdammerung that will destroy advanced civilization and restore the kind of brutal Iron Age level of development his meme is best adapted to.
Quote from: Herman Menderchuck
Quote from: Solvalou
If god is evil, then worshiping a loving and just god is the ultimate rebellion.

Won't mean a piss though if he is. It wouldn't be like there would be another God to cancel the bad one out. The bad one would probably just torture you all the same after death regardless of your rebellious phase, and you would have wasted the one little speck of tolerable life in worshiping a side of God he doesn't have. That's all, of course, if God exists and is a jerk.


This only applies if his tyranny is unopposed and invincible.  Take away the tinted glasses of theological propaganda, and one can find convincing evidence in the Bible that Jehovah has multiple peer competitors.  In the Book of Daniel, one of Jehovah's angels is prevented from getting through with a message to Daniel for nearly a month because "the prince of Persia" (i.e., the spirit-being embodying the Persian nation) opposes him until Jehovah sends reinforcements led by Michael (the spirit-being embodying the Israelite nation).  Even then the battle is not over, as the angel tells Daniel he will return to the conflict until the "prince of Greece" arrives.  Militarily, such a long, pitched battle could not take place if one side (Jehovah's) was overwhelmingly superior to the other(s).

Centuries later, the Apostle Paul makes reference to ongoing spiritual warfare against "principalities and powers in heavenly places," a very different picture than the conventional cultural/theological picture of Jehovah in Heaven waging a war against a single Satanic principality emanating from the underworld.  Modern fundamentalists often cite these passages as if the war is still going on, and lend their support to Jehovah through prayer.  It is difficult to imagine any war going on for thousands of years if one side has overwhelmingly superior power. 

Furthermore, Jehovah's expressed worry about the scientific and technical prowess embodied in a mud-brick ziggurat (Genesis 11) and his fear that "nothing will be restrained from [humans], what they have imagined to do" (11:6) indicates that Jehovah sees human science and technology as genuine threats to his power.  Needless to say, we've come a long way since ziggurats.     


Notes:

1.Examples include Elijah's "contest" with the prophets of Ba'al over which deity could ignite an offering.  No religionist would make such a bet against science today (e.g. prayer to God vs. a cruise missile, megawatt-class military laser, solar heliostat, or chemical incendiary).

2.The Bible makes it clear that if Jehovah says to commit genocide ruthlessly ("thine eye shall not pity them"), that is "good."  If he says "love your enemies" and "turn the other cheek" that is "good"--until he returns to rule with an iron rod, shatter the nations like pottery, and Godzilla-stomp people en masse as he "treads the winepress" of God's wrath (see the Book of Revelation).  The absolute suspension of ethical judgment Christians engage in when it comes to Jehovah's actions ("He knows better than we mere humans do.  The genocide and child-molestation in Numbers 31:17-18 must be Perfectly Good in some way we don't understand.  We just have to trust God because he's perfectly good--he even says so himself!") is an example of the reversal of humans gaining "knowledge of good and evil."  That kind of ethics-free obedience is Jehovah's goal from the beginning of the Bible to the end.

3. In other threads I have proposed the hypothesis that Jehovah actually exists as a memetic parasite that hijacks the cognitive faculties of human hosts (believers) in order to live and act in the world as a person, a kind of infectious multiple-personality disorder.  Communities of hosts enable him to parallel-process (via inter-communication between hosts), have a kind of immortality (he does not die with any given host the way an ordinary MPD persona would), a kind of "omnipresence" ("wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name there I am in your midst"), and far more power than any single host could accumulate. 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 10, 2012, 10:05:47 AM
Is God a jerk? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5888.msg113970#msg113970)  pt4

Quote from: Solvalou on March 25, 2007, 05:24:33 PM
If god is evil, then worshiping a loving and just god is the ultimate rebellion.


Hmmm, that's a very interesting quote, Solvalou.  I might have to make that my signature.  Searching the Bible for a loving and just god, one would have to choose Nakhash (the Serpent).



In Ezekiel 28, he is identified as the spiritual "King of Tyre," i.e. the spiritual principle underlying the Phoenician civilizationn (28:12-15).



You are, of course, quite correct that Christians would consider it "the ultimate rebellion" to worship the Serpent.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 10, 2012, 10:22:35 AM
Is god a jerk? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=5888.msg114421#msg114421)  Pt5

Quote from: Monik on March 26, 2007, 07:29:25 AM
Quote from: kcrady on March 26, 2007, 07:10:19 AM
Exactly.  If you read the Bible applying the principle "Actions speak louder than words," it is inescapably clear that the Serpent operates on far superior ethical principles.  Drop the a priori assumption that "Whatever Jehovah does is Perfectly Good because it's him doing it," and it is easy to see that Jehovah meets all of the attributes of the character we refer to as "the Devil."  The Serpent is described in Ezekiel 28 as an "anointed1 cherub that covereth" (the word translated "covereth" refers to establishing a hedge of protection) who has the courage and integrity to stand up to Jehovah's tyranny and offer humans the opportunity to live up to our fullest potential, rather than seeking to make us his slaves.


NOTES:

1. The word for "anointed" in this verse is the derived from the same root from which we get the word "messiah."  Interestingly, the numerical equivalent (gematria) of the Hebrew letters for the words "Serpent" and "Messiah" add up to the same value: 

Serpent: Nun (50) + Kheth (8) + Shin (300), total = 358

Messiah: Mem (40) + Shin (300) + Yohd (10) + Kheth (8) = 358 

That's a very interesting thought.

What are the implications for this, belief-wise? Isn't all of this very good evidence that what we think of as 'the Bible' was never made to be put into a single book, since it's so incoherent? And how do Christians get away from the fact that the Serpent could be portrayed as so 'good' at the start of the Bible and then conveniently become evil by the end of it?

In mythic terms, the Abrahamic religions represent the apotheosis of the "Dominator" paradigm.  While Pagan Sky Kings like Zeus and Odin ruled over other gods, Jehovah's thirst for domination is so complete that he ultimately could not even tolerate other deities as subordinates.  While the Bible begins with henotheism (one god dominant over a pantheon)--in Genesis 1 the Elohim (gods) do the creating, and Jehovah says "let us" do each step.  In Exodus, Jehovah issues the command to worship no other gods beside him--which inherently assumes the existence of other gods for him to be jealous of.  Only in the historical books and the Prophets do we begin to see skeptical attempts to debunk the existence of other deities (all arguments that work equally well against the existence of Jehovah as a supernatural entity...) 1

Since the archetypal enemy of the Dominator is the principled rebel and independent thinker, it was necessary mythically to portray such a being as the root of all "evil" (which, for followers of Jehovah means disobedience, questioning, doubt, and the like rather than evil according to a real system of ethics)2 Since the Dominator paradigm is also patriarchal (men generally possess greater physical strength and military utility than women) the Feminine must also be propagandistically labeled as "bad" or "inferior."  Eve's name in Hebrew (Chavah) means "to breathe" (i.e. "life") and comes from a root word (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H02324&t=KJV) meaning "to show, interpret, explain, inform, tell, declare."

The word for "Serpent" comes from a word meaning (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H05172&t=KJV) "to practice divination, divine, observe signs, learn by experience, diligently observe, practice fortunetelling, take as an omen."  In other words, the Serpent is a symbol for knowledge, both scientific and magical (which were thought of as the same thing in Biblical times).  Taken together, the names of the Serpent and Eve constitute the gathering and dissemination of knowledge, which is the greatest threat to the Dominator paradigm.

The Serpent is never identified with "Satan" in the OT.  The OT "Satan" is uniformly portrayed as an officer of Jehovah's court, a Grand Inquisitor who accuses people before the King, and engages in entrapment techniques (called "tempting," the word for which actually means to "prove," i.e. test the loyalty of) in order to root out disobedience and subversion.  This can be seen by looking up "Satan" in a concordance and reading all of the OT verses.

In the NT, the picture of "Satan" gets more muddled.  Sometimes he is portrayed fulfilling his OT role as Jehovah's Grand Inquisitor (e.g. tormenting a man in a relationship with his father's wife at the invocation of Paul and the Corinthian church so that the man's spirit can be saved--1 Cor. 5:4-5), while at other times he is given some of Jehovah's nastier attributes and turned into a rival Dominator.  It is only in the Book of Revelation that "Satan" and the Serpent are finally labeled as the same being.  By this time the Serpent is portrayed as having the exact same goal as Jehovah--to establish a global theocratic dictatorship and ruthlessly slaughter all who reject it--even though this is wildly inconsistent with his character in the OT.

This, too is an attribute of the Dominator mindset.  We see in Revelation 4 that Jehovah surrounds himself with yes-men (and yes-creatures) whose sole purpose for existing is to bow down before him and praise him, over and over again, forever.  Any Dominator who becomes that self-absorbed loses the ability to imagine other people having different motivations than his own.  This is why megalomaniacs like Nero, Herod, Stalin, etc. descend into paranoia as they assume that everyone wants to sieze their throne as badly as they want to hold onto it.  So when Jehovah attempts to predict the future, he makes the assumption that his enemy the Serpent shares his motivations and goals, and will act in the same way he does, seeking power through conquest and domination.  In his "mind"3 there is simply no other possible way to be.

The Bible begins by projecting the image of the archetypal foe and opposite of the Dominator, and ends with the assumption (in the minds of the Dominator's propagandists) that no such opposite is even conceivable.  And thus all of the things the Serpent and Eve represent are first condemned, then demonized, then finally rendered literally unthinkable.

However, it could be argued that this represented a major error on Jehvah's part.  By proclaiming that the Serpent must set up a vicious theocratic dictatorship before he can come back and establish his own, Jehovah has allowed the Serpent to trap him in his own spell simply by refusing to participate.  Thus, the New Testament's promises of the imminent arrival of Jehovah's kingdom are foiled by the fact that the Serpent is not the mirror-reflection Jehovah assumes he must be.  Instead, the Serpent has opened the door for humanity to become "as gods" through the accelerating advancement of science and technology, while Jehovah has been forced to pit his own followers against each other (Christians and Jews vs. Muslims) in hopes of creating a Gotterdammerung that will destroy advanced civilization and restore the kind of brutal Iron Age level of development his meme is best adapted to.
Quote from: Herman Menderchuck on March 26, 2007, 10:41:24 AM
Quote from: Solvalou on March 25, 2007, 05:24:33 PM
If god is evil, then worshiping a loving and just god is the ultimate rebellion.

Won't mean a piss though if he is. It wouldn't be like there would be another God to cancel the bad one out. The bad one would probably just torture you all the same after death regardless of your rebellious phase, and you would have wasted the one little speck of tolerable life in worshiping a side of God he doesn't have. That's all, of course, if God exists and is a jerk.


This only applies if his tyranny is unopposed and invincible.  Take away the tinted glasses of theological propaganda, and one can find convincing evidence in the Bible that Jehovah has multiple peer competitors.  In the Book of Daniel, one of Jehovah's angels is prevented from getting through with a message to Daniel for nearly a month because "the prince of Persia" (i.e., the spirit-being embodying the Persian nation) opposes him until Jehovah sends reinforcements led by Michael (the spirit-being embodying the Israelite nation).  Even then the battle is not over, as the angel tells Daniel he will return to the conflict until the "prince of Greece" arrives.  Militarily, such a long, pitched battle could not take place if one side (Jehovah's) was overwhelmingly superior to the other(s).

Centuries later, the Apostle Paul makes reference to ongoing spiritual warfare against "principalities and powers in heavenly places," a very different picture than the conventional cultural/theological picture of Jehovah in Heaven waging a war against a single Satanic principality emanating from the underworld.  Modern fundamentalists often cite these passages as if the war is still going on, and lend their support to Jehovah through prayer.  It is difficult to imagine any war going on for thousands of years if one side has overwhelmingly superior power. 

Furthermore, Jehovah's expressed worry about the scientific and technical prowess embodied in a mud-brick ziggurat (Genesis 11) and his fear that "nothing will be restrained from [humans], what they have imagined to do" (11:6) indicates that Jehovah sees human science and technology as genuine threats to his power.  Needless to say, we've come a long way since ziggurats.     

notes:

1. Examples include Elijah's "contest" with the prophets of Ba'al over which deity could ignite an offering.  No religionist would make such a bet against science today (e.g. prayer to God vs. a cruise missile, megawatt-class military laser, solar heliostat, or chemical incendiary). 

2. The Bible makes it clear that if Jehovah says to commit genocide ruthlessly ("thine eye shall not pity them"), that is "good."  If he says "love your enemies" and "turn the other cheek" that is "good"--until he returns to rule with an iron rod, shatter the nations like pottery, and Godzilla-stomp people en masse as he "treads the winepress" of God's wrath (see the Book of Revelation).  The absolute suspension of ethical judgment Christians engage in when it comes to Jehovah's actions ("He knows better than we mere humans do.  The genocide and child-molestation in Numbers 31:17-18 must be Perfectly Good in some way we don't understand.  We just have to trust God because he's perfectly good--he even says so himself!") is an example of the reversal of humans gaining "knowledge of good and evil."  That kind of ethics-free obedience is Jehovah's goal from the beginning of the Bible to the end.

3. In other threads I have proposed the hypothesis that Jehovah actually exists as a memetic parasite that hijacks the cognitive faculties of human hosts (believers) in order to live and act in the world as a person, a kind of infectious multiple-personality disorder.  Communities of hosts enable him to parallel-process (via inter-communication between hosts), have a kind of immortality (he does not die with any given host the way an ordinary MPD persona would), a kind of "omnipresence" ("wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name there I am in your midst"), and far more power than any single host could accumulate. 
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 10, 2012, 11:00:56 AM
Krcady and vynn (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=6508.msg121387#msg121387)

(mid discussion)

Quote from: Vynn on April 02, 2007, 11:18:49 AM
Kcrady,

Many things that we might call bossy today was in the time of the commandments a protection issue.

Pork and other forbidden meat was full of parasites.

"And when thou dost eat pork, thou shalt cook it thoroughly, so that none is pink, and thouroughly shalt thou cook it.  For if thou dost not cook it thorougly, until all the pink of the flesh is fully cooked, then shall harm come upon thee, for within the pork is a malice that must be purged by fire.  Behold, I have warned thee."

Besides, if God was telling us not to play in the street, why would he send that mischievous kid of his down here to repeal it all and say, "Go ahead!"

Quote from: Vynn on April 02, 2007, 11:18:49 AM
Having only one sex partner cut down considerably the spread of VD. I think most commandments were for reasons like this.

Where, exactly, do all these parasites and diseases come from, by the way?

Quote from: Vynn on April 02, 2007, 11:18:49 AM
It made for a healthier group of people overall.

"And behold, thou shalt work out with free weights and aerobics three times a week, that thou shalt be healthy and prosper in the land which I give unto you."   

Quote from: Vynn on April 02, 2007, 11:18:49 AM
As far as the Sabbath thing it makes sense to me. The whole nation taking a day off at the same time builds community, time for family and friends, national pride, something we do different.

So you agree with having a death penalty for gathering firewood on a Saturday, in the interests of building a proper Volkish State?

Quote from: Vynn on April 02, 2007, 11:18:49 AM
And Jesus certainly implied that some accidents or whatever would merit work on the sabbath --pulling an ox out of a ditch on the sabbath seemed to be perfectly acceptable to Jesus.

If he'd tried that in Moses' day, he would have been stoned for our sins instead of crucified.

Quote from: Vynn on April 02, 2007, 11:18:49 AM
I don't claim to have all the answers to these questions but i'll attempt to address the "killing other pagans" as best i can.

In some instances i have no reply, in others it could be that since Abraham had owned the land and the people there refused to move, they had to fight for the land that was theirs.

If you read the story about Abraham seeking a funeral plot to bury Sarah, you will see that Abraham repeatedly insists on purchasing the land even though the man who owned it repeatedly tried to offer it to him as a gift of friendship.  Abraham was the one to whom the Covenant was given in the first place, yet he doesn't go around committing genocide in order to get land.  Read Joshua and Judges, and see how many times the Israelites come and say, "hello, our God promised this land to us through our ancestor Abraham, and he has given us lots of loot from Egypt with which to purchase it, following Father Abraham's example.  How much do you all want for this city and these vinyards?"

It never happens.  They just swoop in and massacre everything that breathes.

Before you reply to this post, I would like you to take a moment to notice what you're doing here.  You're making excuses for evil.  If you were to go through Numbers 31 and replace "Moses" with "Genghis Khan," "Israel/Israelites" with "Mongols," and "Midianites" with "Ukranians" you would have no trouble whatsoever recognizing the resulting account as a barbaric atrocity.  But since it's about "the good guys" you learned about in Sunday School and Charlton Heston movies, suddenly a great mystery arises in which you must go casting about for an explanation, any explanation, as to why these atrocities are the noble and pure moral actions of the incorruptible Supereme Being.

Now, take a moment to think: Who would want to get good people to justify evil: a perfectly good God--or the Devil?
Quote
“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God.”

--Thomas Paine, Age of Reason Part I, pp. 18-19 (emphasis added)

Quote
The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. It has been the most dishonorable belief against the character of the Divinity, the most destructive to morality and the peace and happiness of man, that ever was propagated since man began to exist.  It is better, far better, that we admitted, if it were possible, a thousand devils to roam at large, and to preach publicly the doctrine of devils, if there were any such, than that we permitted one such imposter and monster such as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and the Bible prophets, to come with the pretended word of God in his mouth, and have credit among us.

--The Age of Reason Part II, p. 176 (emphasis added)
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 10, 2012, 11:04:09 AM
Kcrady and vynn (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=6508.msg121405#msg121405)  pt2

Quote from: Vynn on April 02, 2007, 11:43:43 AM
What you call cherry picking i call "doctrinal priority of scripture" I won't quibble over the term usage because i see your point, however I do think god's mind is infinitely greater than ours and he uses concepts beyond our imagination.---that is why we call him god.
>snip<
I trust god, that he has it all figured out enough that i don't have to run around in a panic trying to convince everyone within 500 miles that they must accept christ and every uncomfortable verse in the bible. I guess it comes down to me just trusting in a god that is more good and wonderful than any of us can imagine. I think He is good enough and powerful enough to figure out the things that i cant figure out here for myself. ---Vynn  ;-)

Notice what you're doing here.  First, you start out with the assumption of a vast, awesome, omnibenevolent God who is infinitely more intelligent, wise, good, etc. than us.  Then you go to the Bible and struggle to make it fit with that preconception.  Anything that just can't be shoehorned in, somehow, you just say, "well, it's beyond the conception of my puny mortal mind."

If you were to read the Bible without this preconception, and adopt the common-sense premise that "actions speak louder than words" you would not come to the same conclusion at all regarding the moral character, intelligence, etc. of the Biblegod.

Now, since you are forcing the Bible to fit with a prior notion of a supreme, vastly-intelligent, omni-benevolent God, what do you need the Bible for?  You already have a better picture of God from somewhere else!  Let's say I somehow discovered how to create the perfect society, a theory of politics and social order that was so wondrously sublime it had to be of superhuman in origin.  Now, having this, why would I want to go to Mein Kampf or Mao's Little Red Book and wrench whatever I find there to fit (while dismissing those parts that just can't fit as being so sublime that they're beyond the reach of the mortal mind) and go forth trying to explain to everyone how Mao or Hitler had discovered the secret of Utopia?

Wouldn't it be better for me to just propose my blueprint for Utopia without trying to salvage someone else's horrid old book?  Why not do the same thing with God?  If you have inner knowledge of the existence of an omnibenevolent, omni-intelligent, infinitely wise and loving Being, Who works genuine miracles in your life, why pollute His or Her perfection with all that Iron Age barbarism in the Bible?

Do us all a favor and write the Book of Vynn.  I'm sure it would be much better than the Bible, and I mean that sincerely.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 10, 2012, 11:16:40 AM
knowledge, science, religion (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=6739.msg125091#msg125091) 

Quote from: unkleE on April 02, 2007, 11:36:14 PM
1.  I think the starting point must be my tentative definition of "a god", which was: "a supernatural (ie outside of nature) being with the power to design and create the universe (on its own or in concert with other gods) and the volition to make a choice to do so".

So how do we define "nature"?  I would guess nature = space-time.  God (or a god) would not be bound by or contained within space & time. 

>snip<

But since I used the word nature, and believe nature is defined as space-time (perhaps we would want to add "in principle able to be measured by science") I have to conclude that these beings [hypothetical advanced aliens who caused our Big Bang and "fine-tuned" our cosmological constants] are not "gods" under the definition, because they are still in space-time.

2.  If we drew some corollaries from the definition of "a god", we might conclude that a god is eternal, timeless, never had a beginning - otherwise it would be in space-time.  This too would rule out the beings you postulate.

3.  Your postulation then doesn't change anything.  You have set up a regress, admittedly with only one extra item in the set, and it doesn't solve anything.  If I could communicate back through time to these beings, I could have the same discussion we are having here, and argue that "a god" is the best expanation for their universe, or sub-universe, or part of the multiverse.  So again, I conclude that they are in the same position as we are, and clearly not gods.

From this, it would seem that all concepts of "god" must depend on the concept of "the supernatural."  If the concept of "the supernatural" can be shown to be invalid, then it can be said--with certainty--that no god exists.

So far, all you have offered for as a description of "the supernatural" is negation: it is "not natural," "not space-time."  You have claimed it is not anything man knows, and offered nothing to say what it is.  From a burden-of-proof standpoint, it is the supernaturalist who seeks to add something (the supernatural) to our understanding of existence, and thus the supernaturalist bears the burden of proof.  Since part of your definition of "supernatural" is that it is "in principle not able to be measured by science" (based on your definition of "nature" above), you are basically making claims of omniscience for yourself.  How do you know if any given entity or location (such as a "supernatural realm") is in principle not measurable by science?  Do you know what measurements science will be capable of 100, 1,000, 10,000,000 years from now?

How, exactly, did people come up with this idea of an unknowable realm they claimed to know about?  The first clue is in the word "supernatural" itself.  Going back to its Greek roots, it means "above the natural."  An important fact to note is that nearly all of our major religions (with the possible exception of Scientology, if you count it as "major") have thier origins in pre-Copernican times.[1]

Before Copernicus, Galilleo, Kepler, and Newton, the concept of "the supernatural" as a realm that was at once inherently unknowable yet provably existent actually made sense.  In ancient times (when our religions were being born) it seemed obvious that there were two distinct realms of existence, each with its own generalized operating principles.

There was the natural world "down here" on Earth, and the supernatural world "up there" in the heavens.  Here on Earth, things wind down.  Torches and candles stop burning, a wagon, if pushed, will eventually stop moving unless more force is applied.  An arrow shot from the bow will eventually fall back to Earth.  An object, when dropped, will fall, hit the ground, and stop moving.

But up there, in the supernatural realm, stars, planets, and the Sun and Moon just keep moving ceaselessly, their light never running out, and they carried out their celestial ballet in sublime defiance of gravity.  Even here on Earth there were some substances that seemed to behave entirely different from everything else.

Air was invisible, yet able to manifest its presence when the wind blew.  It did not seem to have weight, and it was directly connected to life--when something stopped breathing, it stopped living.  Light could be seen to come down to Earth in rays (such as a ray of light coming through a window), yet it could not be weighed, and it did not pool up on the ground like water.  Fire moved of its own accord like a living thing.  It was intangible (one could pass a hand straight through it without feeling anything but heat), and tended to rise (flames flicker upward, ashes and sparks float into the sky) rather than fall like "normal stuff."  Split a bushel of grain and you have two half-bushels of grain--split a fire (by lighting a second torch or fuel source) and you can get two fires of the same, or even a larger size than the original. 

The final mystery-substance was human consciousness.  Clearly there was a difference between "Grandma" and the corpse of Grandma.  Since everything else (soil, water, plants, animals, etc.) seemed to be made of some sort of stuff, it made sense to think that there was some kind of "Grandma-stuff" in addition to her physical body that carried all of her intangible (non-bodily) attributes.  This made even more sense in the light of "near-death experiences," shamanic vision-quests, lucid dreams of flying, psychadelic trips from hallucinogenic plants, etc. in which the "self" could seem to leave the body and return.

It is no accident that the other "mystery substances"--air (breath), light, and fire--all became common analogies for "spirit," the invisible, supernatural "person-stuff" that left the body at death or during altered states of consciousness.  And so, if you were to go back in time and tell an ancient Egyptian priest that you were an atheist and ask him to prove that supernatural gods exist, he would look at you as if you were crazy and point at the Sun.

Not only was the "supernatural" clearly something that existed, it was also inherently out of the reach of human beings.  Ask an ancient Hebrew prophet what the far side of the Moon looked like, and he could tell you--quite rationally--that it was unknowable to man, that only God or the angels could know.  No chariot or trireme could reach the Moon, and even the birds could not fly that high.  The idea that "in the future, people will have better technology, and we'll send space probes up to look" would be far more fanciful to him than his belief in God, angels, and the supernatural.

Technological advancement took place so slowly in ancient times that it was basically not even thought of as a concept.  The technologies people used were as much a part of primordial creation as the mountains and the animals.  In the Biblical story, all of the important technologies were developed in primordial times by antediluvian patriarchs.  The various gods employed Bronze Age and Iron Age technologies, even if they were magically enhanced.  Hephaestus operates a forge, the Egyptian god Khnum forms each individual's spirit-double ("ka") on a potter's wheel, Elijah is swept up to Heaven in Yahweh's fiery chariot, and Jesus charges into the Battle of Armageddon at the end of time on horseback, fighting with a sword (one that comes out of his mouth, but a sword, nonetheless).

For the ancients then, there was no concept of "we may not be able to know X now, but in the future when we've invented better technology, we will."

All of this changed during the Rennaisance.  The invention of gunpowder weapons radically changed warfare in a wholly-unanticipated way, and in a short enough period of time that people noticed that change was afoot.  Even God did not predict, nor do his angels possess, firearms.  The telescope suddenly revealed new features of the heavens that could not be observed before.  For the first time, people became conscious of technological advancement.

In science, Copernicus, Kepler, and Galilleo overturned the old "totem-pole" model of existence in which Earth was at the bottom of the Universe with the celestial and divine realms "up there."  Newton finished the job by demonstrating that "the heavenly bodies" obeyed the same generalized principles of physics that applied on Earth.  When the Gospels were written, the idea that Jesus could return to "the supernatural realm" by going up made sense.  After Newton, Jesus would be no closer to a supernatural realm at 30,000 feet than he was at ground level.

At this point, clergy and theologians had a choice: they could accept that "the natural" had embraced and included "the supernatural" within itself (so that God, if he existed, would be more of the natural even though he possessed fantastic powers), or they could push "the supernatural" away into some undefined state.  At first it could be hidden behind "the sphere of the stars" that enclosed the Solar System.  Then parallax measurements demonstrated that the stars were not holes in a sphere, but distant objects.

As science advanced, revealing a bigger and bigger natural Universe, "the supernatural" was pushed back until it became some completely undefined alternative dimension.  Theologians retained the claims that "the supernatural" was "above"--well, now it's "outside"--nature, and that it was inherently unknowable to humans, but without the ancient context in which those claims made sense.  Whereas in the past, at least some "supernatural" objects (such as the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars) were self-evidently real, "the supernatural" became a realm entirely--and in principle--beyond the reach of any possible validation or falsification.

The "unknowability" of "the supernatural" that made sense in the ancient context of no technological advancement ceased to make sense.  It is not possible to know what technological and scientific advancements may exist in the future.  To claim that a given entity or location is undetectable by science in principle is to claim complete knowledge of all possible science and technology.  The ancients, unaware of the possibility of continuing technological advancement, could reasonably make that claim within the context of their knowledge.  That claim no longer makes sense within the context of our knowledge.

The end result is that theologians have backed themselves into a corner of claiming that a realm and entities exist, which cannot be detected by any possible science no matter how advanced, while at the same time claiming that "the supernatural" impinges on our Universe powerfully enough to do things like parting seas and creating tons of matter (such as loaves and fishes) out of nothing.

Given the existence of extremely sensitive scientific instrumentation capable of detecing things like neutrinos--particles so diaphenous they can shoot straight through the Earth at light-speed as if the planet isn't even here--the claim that "the supernatural" intervenes powerfully in our Universe while being inherently undetectable in principle has become self-contradictory.

Thus, "the supernatural"--a concept that made sense in the context of the times in which our religions were born--has been revealed to be self-contradictory in a post-Rennaissance context.  It is an invalid concept.  Without the concept of "the supernatural" the concept of "gods" as defined by theology (and here, by UnkleE) is also invalid.

Q.E.D. :)




 1.  While Mormonism is of recent origin, it is a derivative of Christianity and even its own distinctive "scriptures" claim to originate in Iron Age Jewish cultures.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 21, 2012, 01:29:07 PM
Unies, burden of proof and the religious (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=6739.msg129936#msg129936)


Quote from: unkleE
You have neatly illustrated what I think is the "problem" I am trying to highlight.  "God does not exist" is a proposition and a pretty general one.  Not just a particular god, but god generally.  I can't see why such a proposition does not require some demonstration before it can be urged upon anyone else.  If I put forward the proposition "a god exists" and wish to recommend that view to you, it is true as you say that a "burden of proof" lies with me.  But that being the case, it seems to me that if you make your proposition and wish to recommend it to me, then you do indeed also have the same "burden of proof".

The only way out I can see is either (1) we each stop trying to recommend our views and then we don't need to offer reasons for our respective views (that would mean closing down the parent WWGHA site), or (2) we both continue to present our views and we both share the same burden of proof.

OK UnkleE, let me try an analogy:

Let's say I come up to you and say, "Have you heard the Good News about unies?  Unies exist!  Not only that, they're the most important fact of existence.  You see, unies are responsible for the existence of pretty girls and chocolate, which makes them the most important fact of existence.  Hey, look!  A pretty girl!  Therefore, unies exist!"

At this point, you're a weak aunieist.  You don't even know what I'm talking about, so how could you have any positive evidence that unies don't exist?  So you ask me what unies are, and I tell you:

"They're little invisible lights that exist everywhere, but especially in my back garden, and with their help I've written a book, the Book of Unie, that provides a guide for how we should live our lives and run our nations."

"'Invisible' lights?  You mean, like ultraviolet?"

"Ohhh, no, not at all!  Unies are a supremely sublime kind of light that can never be seen or detected with mere scientific instrumentation!  But if you are willing to believe in unies and sincerely open your heart to them, you will feel their presence in your spirit."

The discussion goes on like this for awhile.  Perhaps you argue that the concept of an inherently undetectable "light" is self-contradictory, or you point out flaws in my Book of Unie that show it could not have been authored by supremely transcendant beings of light, and so on.  But I keep going, explaining that whatever parts of the book that don't make sense must be interpreted in some other way until they can be made to fit with our knowledge of Universe, or just sort of ignored. 

This goes on for awhile, you debunking all of my claims, until finally you say, "Oh, come on!  You're makng this up!  Unies are imaginary!"  Then I say:

"Oh, reeeeeallly?  What's your proof that unies don't exist?  All I've seen you do is argue against my claims, but you've offered no evidence at all for the proposition, 'No unies exist.'"

The point of this little analogy is that, apart from my claim that unies exist, there isn't even an issue to debate.  You do not go around calling yourself an aunieist and you have established no collection of proofs for their non-existence and you would certainly not assume a burden of proof to demonstrate that they don't, any more than you do for the Invisble Pink Unicorn or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Likewise, apart from people claiming that gods exist, there is no issue.  If no one claimed that gods exist--or if their existence was apparent--there would be no theism/atheism debate.  The reason there's a debate is because theists make claims about gods—and can't prove them.

If atheists can refute the claims of the theists then we are justified in saying things like "God is imaginary."  We do not have to positively prove that gods no one has ever mentioned do not exist.  Until a god or goddess can be shown to exist in external reality, they exist only in the claims of the theists.  Refute the claims, and the proposition "no gods exist" is established in the same way that the propositions "no unies exist" and "no IPU's and FSM's exist") are.  There is no need to show evidence from thorough explorations of every corner of Universe that no unies, IPU's, or FSM's can be found.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 21, 2012, 01:46:49 PM
Unies, burden of proof and the religious (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=6739.msg131984#msg131984)  pt 2



Quote from: unkleE

1.  Your example indicates that there are no objective, evidential, reasonable reasons for believing in Unies, that belief is subjective, untestable, etc.  Now despite the fact that you and others infer the same is true for 'a god", this is manifestly untrue.  There are many facts adduced as evidence, many arguments put forward by strict logicians, to support the proposition "a god exists".  You may not, presumably don't, accept that these evidences and arguments establish the proposition, but that is a very long way from denying they exist and can be argued competently.  Here are a few examples of such arguments:
  • Philosopher Stephen Davis has written "God, Reason and Theistic Proofs", published by Edinburgh University Press, in which he outlines a whole swag of such proofs, and analyses the logic of their arguments.  He concludes, (with one possible exception if I remember correctly) that the proofs do not succeed deductively, but they still exist, are formidable and plausible, and cannot be easily dismissed.  If one allows inductive reasoning, they might, and in my judgment do, provide reasonable support for the proposition.  There are of course many such books.
  • The secular web carries or links to many arguments for and against God's existence.  Powerful and well rehearsed arguments exist on both sides of the question.


Well, goodness, Unieism is just getting started, you expect me to have centuries worth of debate and philosophical tradition already? :) 

---Athens---

"Well, Saul of Tarsus, I'm sorry, but we have centuries worth of philosophical discourse about Apollo, Zeus, the Demiurge, and the Unmoved Mover with well-rehearsed and powerful arguments on both sides, but none whatsoever about this 'Jesus Christ' of yours.  I'm afraid we're just going to have to use our patented Lofty Scholarly Dismissaltm in your case."
Quote from: unkleE
2.  Further, your analogy states: "apart from my claim that unies exist, there isn't even an issue to debate" and infers the same is true about a god.  But again the analogy fails.  It isn't the fact that I and a few other theists are responsible for promulgating this crazy belief and none of you would need to worry about it if we didn't do it.  Belief in God crops up all over human existence, it is one of the most prevalent and defining features of humanity.  People can look at the night sky and wonder why, even if they have never been taught about a god (e.g. that was my wife's experience - she was raised an atheist).  So the issue exists in some people's minds, often because of theistic proselytising, but certainly not always.

And you said your definition of 'god' was non-sectarian. :)  Once you invoke "all over human experience," then you're not talking about one capital-G "God," but literally thousands of different gods and goddesses. 
Belief in unie-like "nature spirits" and so forth is also common in human experience.  For that matter, so is astrology.  I do have to give you credit for deft use of the Argument from Popularity though.
Quote from: unkleE
3.  Your analogy infers that you are the only Unie believer, and therefore that I might reasonably find belief in Unies a bit strange - of course you know yourself better than I do, so I'll leave you to judge that! : )  But of course theism, and my version of theism are not in that situation.  They are believed by billions.  Doesn't make them correct, of course, but it does lift the belief a little above the quaint.

I love how you invoke the Argument from Popularity, wave it around enough to get your mileage out of it, then throw in a "doesn't make them correct" just in time to give yourself plausible deniability.  Nicely done!

Perhaps you're right that being able to invoke the Argument from Authority (famous philosophers!) and the Argument from Popularity (lots and lots of people believe in gods!) make theism more legitimate than unieism, but I'm not sure exactly how that works. :)

You still can't prove unies don't exist.
Quote from: unkleE
In the extreme, if everyone in the world was a theist except you, no matter how strong your logic, it would be hard to argue that everyone else was wrong and you were right.

Tell that to Galileo.  1) Truth isn't arrived at by counting noses.  2) You all disagree when you talk about "the Divine," having many completely incompatible ideas about the subject.
Quote from: unkleE
(You might be able to wirdtand the argument if the matter was as provable as 1 + 1 = 2, but not on such a semi-subjective matter.)  Of course it isn't like that, but weight of numbers can at least arguably indicate that the belief may not be based on "delusion".

Does that work for astrology?  Must be true, lots of people have believed in it.  It built Stonehenge and thousands of temples, stone circles, and the like all over the world, and providing the start for the modern science of astronomy.  How about female divine beings (goddesses)?  There are temples, statues, etc. dedicated to goddesses all around the world, throughout all of history, at least until the Abrahamic religions got around to legislating that only solitary male gods may be worshipped.
Quote from: unkleE on April 09, 2007, 11:11:29 PM
4.  Many, many of those believers claim to have had some experience of this God, through healing, communication, "coincidence", etc.  Now I know there are arguments against these experiences being genuine, but again the weight of numbers counts for something.[/quote]

Does it?  There are a lot more Hindus than there are Christians of your stripe.  They believe in healings, gurus who work miracles, statues of Ghanesh that sip milk from spoons and all sorts of things.  There's at least a billion of them, and their numbers must count for something.  Does every religion become true if it can get enough followers?  How many unieists do I have to recruit before unies become real?
Quote from: unkleE
Further, christianity and some other forms of theism have had enormous impacts on the lives of people, societies and the entire world - it can be well argued that christianity is largely responsible for the development of modern science,

Right.  The Greeks didn't do things like calculate the circumfrence of the Earth, invent the steam engine (developed by Hero of Alexandria), discover the Archimedes Principle, invent the first known computer (the Antikthera [sp?] Mechanism), formulate the first atomic theory, etc..  "Christian" (medieval) science was based on the work of...Aristotle.  When, exactly, did Aristotle accept Jesus as his lord and savior?
Quote from: unkleE
the rise of modern democracies,

Because, in the Bible, it's called the Constitutional Republic of God...right?

And of course, the Pagan democracy of Athens and the Roman Republic had nothing to do with the origins of democratic government.  Or was Pericles a Christian?
Quote from: unkleE
major social changes and institutions such as schools,

No schools before Christianity?  I would love to see the evidence for this, given that writing, mathematics, and other disciplines had existed for millenia before Jesus came along.  Presumably, people used to be taught these things.  Do the Greek philosophical schools not count?
Quote from: unkleE
hospitals,

Because Imhotep and Hippocrates never existed, and nobody was interested in treating wounds or curing the sick until after the Council of Nicea.  And the Cadeuceus which represents the medical practice to this day is not the staff of Hermes, but a Christian symbol representing...well, I'm not sure really, but it must be Christian.  All mainstream scholars agree.
Quote from: unkleE
freedom for slaves,

Yes, the Bible is passionately anti-slavery in both Testaments, such as where Moses forbade the practice of slavery along with idolatry, and Paul in the NT commanded Philemon's master to set him free in the epistle by that name...right?  And it was devout Christian Yankees fighting wicked Pagan Confederates in the US Civil War.  I must pay a visit to this parallel universe you live in.
Quote from: unkleE
Your Unies belief really changed nothing and impacted very little on you, compared to this great impact of theism.  Thus the lives of believers constitutes some evidence (not always good, but overall good).
 

Communism had a great deal of "impact."  Does that make it true, or even add to its credibility as a belief-system?

Quote
5.  The Unies belief in the end is unimportant - it doesn't really matter of you believe it or if I don't.  But christianity and theism are very different - the stakes are very high if they are true, and fairly high if they are not.

So...if I said that you would be horribly punished in some way for not believing in unies, the way we're threatened for not believing in Christianity--thus making the "stakes" higher--that would make it a more credible belief system?  How exactly does that work? 

You still haven't proven that unies don't exist.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 24, 2012, 08:50:12 AM
On Slavery (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=7553.msg155780#msg155780)


Quote from: blaize
I think DTE  does well showing that the imagery of slavery is used throughout the Bible, but what I think most people end up doing when the issue of slavery is brought up is they begin to superimpose a 21st century understanding of the concept of slavery onto a 1st century world and prior. Often times when we think about slavery, we associate the obvious imbalance between long hours repaid with marginal living conditions and poor treatment. Of such things, the Bible condemns.

Isn't one of the things Christians rail against most, the notion of "Godless secular liberals and their moral relativism"--ostensibly in contrast to the Chrstian conservative position that upholds moral absolutes?  That sure doesn't hold up.  So we have the spectacle of an omnipotent Deity Who created billions of galaxies with a word, bobbing and weaving and compromising with the social systems of utterly puny little creatures armed with swords and spears, while declaring through his propagandists that he is "King of Kings and Lord of Lords."  One wonders why he was able to be so uncompromising when it came to other popular social customs of the day, such as idolatry/worship of other gods.

And why not employ a 21st century understanding of morality as we look at your barbaric old book?  It is clear that when it comes to the ethical treatment of our fellow humans, we have made a great deal of moral progress compared with Biblical times.  Just as we have made progress in other areas, such as science and technology.  Your reply here is a naked confession that the Bible cannot live up to the standards of a 21st century moral understanding.  Why then, should we guide our lives by its principles?
Quote from: blaize
In the Old Testament, slavery was permissive, but not necessarily promoted. The law had allotted certain regulations governing slavery that entrusted the masters to treat slaves fairly, not with severity. (Lev 25:43,46). It also seems that masters were held accountable for treating a slave justly. Exodous 21:20 invokes masters to be punished should a slave die in the process of being punished. This was a sharp contrast to the way the Israelites had been treated as slaves under the Egyptians, who were ruthless in the way they treated the Hebrews. It would be easy that once freed, a person could become vengeful and want to take advantage of those in servitude.

Bollocks.  There is not a stitch of evidence that there were ever any Hebrew slaves in Egypt, much less that they were treated ruthlessly. 
Quote from: blaize
During the New Testament period, perhaps as much as 60% of the population of the Roman Empire were considered slaves. Most of these slaves were probably bondservants -- those that hired themselves out to pay a debt.

Didn't you just criticize DTE for not providing sources?
Quote from: blaize
When an apostle identified himself as a servant (or slave if you prefer) he is saying that he has volunteeringly surrendered his interests to the interest of Jesus,  making himself subject to Jesus, Jesus teachings, and way of life. If the predominant model of slavery in the New Testament period was the idea that people gave themselves into slavery, then it would have been understood that the apostles when they were saying this were saying that they were volunteering themselves as such.

So, if I captured you and gave you a choice: become my slave for life, or I'll burn you at the stake, and given the options you chose to be my slave, would you really call that "voluntary?"  If the Dark Lord (aka the God of the Bible) really existed and his threat of eternal torture in Hell was genuine, in what sense is the choice to serve him "voluntary?"  For that matter, what if the Calvinists are right?
Quote from: blaize
On the same token, the imagery of redemption is also prevalent in scripture, in that Jesus paid the purchase price for those who were onces slaves to sin.

So, did he buy you, or did you voluntarily indenture yourself to him? 
Quote from: blaize
In Romans 6, Paul uses the analogy of slavery to illustrate that once those who are saved were slaves to sin which leads to death, but they become slaves to righteousness which leads to eternal life. Not only is this slavery freedom from death, but it is an elevation to sonship through adoption (Romans 8:15, 23). If Christ is king, and isn't being his servant leads one to be adopted as a son by the king them certainly we would want that over the alternative.

Sorry, but I really don't see how attempting to justify the Biblical sanction of slavery by appealing to the Biblical sanction and promotion of despotic monarchy is helping you here.
Quote from: blaize
Now, going back to the original observation, with the precognitions of the evil slavery that has existed in recent years, slavery in the Bible doesn't seem to be the same thing, and as I mentioned, it is permissible but not necessarily prescriptive. And the slavery of which the New Testament speaks leads to freedom and sonship, not bondage and death. Comparably speaking, I would rather be a slave to a king that would adopt me as a son..

As a prince then, do you get to lord it over others?

Bottom line: The Bible is vicious and tyrannical from beginning to end.  Accept it.  Evasive maneuvers are pointless.

BTW, great topic, DTE.  +1...you whore ;)
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 24, 2012, 09:06:40 AM
Before Jesus; After Jesus (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=7730.msg160783#msg160783)


Quote from: unkleE
kcrady:

This post picks up our discussion, and asks a few more questions of you, please, to clarify what you believe.

The outstanding questions so far are:

1.  Are you assuming that all human beings (including me) actually accept that "objective morality"?  Or do you believe that we should accept that morality?  If the latter, on what basis should we accept it?

Most of us do accept and apply "the basics" most of the time.  "Basic" (i.e. what we need to get around in most real-life situations) morality is simple enough to teach a child.  As I perceive it, most differences in morality arise from making exceptions.  Women--they don't count as people, so it's OK to mutilate their genitals, force them to wear black tents, and be property of men.  Those other folks who don't (look/act/talk/dance/dress) like we do or believe what we think they ought to--they don't count as people, so we can kill, enslave, or otherwise exploit them.  And so on.   Looking up at the title of this thread, it's not an extended discussion of ethics, politics, and the best way to operate a society, so I'm not going to write any extensive treatises on those subjects here.
Quote from: unkleE
2.  Your statement sounds pretty much like utilitarianism, and one of  the obvious difficulties is how we actually know the requirements for human survival.

If you don't know the requirements of human survival, however did you manage to last this long?  BTW, I do not agree with "utilitarianism" as I understand it, so I won't accept that label.
Quote from: unkleE
I'm not talking about the difficulty of doing a computation but what things should be taken into account.  Would you be happy for me to include the benefits of knowing God in this life and the benefits of life in the age to come in the computation?

So long as you abide by the basics that are demonstrably necessary for the rest of us to peacefully coexist with you as fellow-members of a civilization, go right ahead.  Whether such things qualify as elements of objective morality or not depend on whether or not they correspond to reality.  However, due to the limitations of human knowledge and human perceptual abilities, there will be different ideas on what is, and is not, reality.  Because of this, humans need a system of epistemology that works as a "BS detector."  So far, the most effective BS detector we have found is the scientific method.  If such things as "God" and "life in the age to come" can be shown to be anything more than the speculations of people who were cognitively primitive even by the standards of their own era, then they would count.  You have yet to present a single stitch of evidence that your concept of "God" (i.e. the Christian god, not merely some Adjuster(s) of Cosmological Constants) or the Biblical concept of "the age to come" have any validity.
Quote from: unkleE
I have three more questions, in the form of hypotheticals, please, to further explicate your belief in ethics based on the good of human beings:

I strongly dislike the notion of developing a system of ethics based on situations that will almost certainly never be relevant to real life.  What are the odds that Richard Dawkins and I will ever be in a Donner Party situation in the Andes?  What magic transforms all the other bodies to ash (so that we cannot eat them, LOL) while leaving Richard and I unharmed?  What's the likelihood that A) the UN will ever have the power to contemplate some sort of global genocide, and B) they'd put a libertarian-leaning person like me in charge of the new global Gosplan?

One thing all of your scenerios have in common is: the assumption of a no-win situation.  Either I must die (in the Dawkins and Dying Man Scenarios) or commit murder, or we can both die.  Either I must commit genocide, or allow natural disasters, famine, etc. to do pretty much the same thing.  I do not share your implicit world view that life is a choice of grisly defeats, and that ethics should be based on that assumption.  And so, I will give these questions the seriousness I think they deserve.
Quote from: unkleE
3.  Suppose you and Richard Dawkins and many others are in a plane flying in South America when your plane crashes into snow-covered mountains (just like the football team many years ago).  Everyone in the plane is incinerated to ash, but somehow you and Richard survive.  There is plenty of water from snow melt, but no food.  You both know rescue is weeks away.  Richard looks at you and says: "My continued existence is far more important than yours to the wellbeing of the human race, otherwise those pesky christians will enslave even more people.  I am needed to combat them.  You must allow me to kill you and eat you, so I survive to carry on this important work.  That is the best result for the human race, so I know you will allow me to do it."  You know he is speaking the truth.  What is your response?

WWJD?  Let's see, if I decide to abide by Pure, Perfect, Christian Moral Absolutestm, I've got a bit of a dilemna.  On the one hand, it could be argued that Jesus would say, "Eat of my flesh, drink of my blood, for this is the true food," then stretch out his arms and let Dawkins kill him.  On the other hand, the Jesus we see in the Book of Revelation would stomp Dawkins into the ground and splatter his blood all over his (Jesus') pure white robe.  So I guess it could depend on which Jesus I liked more. 
Quote from: unkleE
4.  Same scenario, but this time it is you and a dying man.  So you argue that you continuing to live is more important than him, so you make the same suggestion to him.  But he demurs, saying piously that he doesn't think either of you should kill the other.  What do you say to persuade him to see things your way, or do you just use your extra strength to kill him?

Crikey, if the chap is dying, I could just agree with him, couldn't I?  What would I need to kill him for?  Maybe I could just pick the Jesus that does nothing (i.e, when he's not finding someone a parking space or helping a football team win the Super Bowl).
Quote from: unkleE
5.  The human race is multiplying, and global warming is reducing the food supply.  You are director of the UN population and health program, and a proposal is put forward by two influential members of the Security Council to apply methods developed in animal husbandry and national park management, and begin to cull the human race.  After all, we are just a higher form of animal, but no different in essence.  Do you agree to support the proposal, and who do you start with?

This is the same old saw we hear so often.  Humans don't have some ghostly "essence," so they're no more valuable than cockroaches.  Why don't you atheists run amok killing people?  Well, your "essence" has never stopped True Believers from killing people en masse.  Why?  Because the God they believe in is portrayed not giving a tinker's cuss about some "essence" that makes people worth more than animals.  He slaughters people wholesale in the OT, and pledges to do lots more of it in the NT.

So, as a devout Christian (we are talking about exceedingly unlikely hypotheticals here :) ), I could agree with the policy.  We start with all those atheists, neo-Pagans and liberals, then move on to the Hindus and Buddhists.  We have to have some degree of global consensus to make the policy work, so I decide to call this Project Numbers (it is about human overpopulation, after all).  Announcing the policy, I base it on what all three Abrahamic religions can agree is Divine Revelation:

"Kill every male, and every woman who has known man by lying with him.  But the little girls who have not known man by lying with him, these keep for yourselves." (Numbers 31:17-18)

Of course, in reality I would reject the policy, but hey, these are hypotheticals based on supremely unlikely scenarios.  What this does demonstrate however is that you Christians don't have any sort of "moral absolutes."  What "Biblical morality" says depends on which Bible verses and/or which portrayal of Jesus you happen to like, the rest can be interpreted out of existence.   

Is it wrong to eat lobster wrapped in bacon?  Before Jesus: yes, both are an abomination unto the Lord.  After Jesus: no, actually that sounds pretty tasty!

Is it wrong to wear clothes made from more than one type of fiber?  Before Jesus: yes.  After Jesus: no.

Is it wrong to let somebody with any defect, like a flat nose or a crushed testicle into a place of worship?  Before Jesus: yes.  After Jesus: no.

Is it wrong to be gay?  Before Jesus: yes, it's an abomination to the Lord and ought to be a capital offense!  After Jesus: yes, but gayness can now be easily cured with a three-week counseling retreat.

Is slavery wrong?  Before Jesus: no.  After Jesus: no.  After Appomattox: yes. 

Is genocide wrong? Before Jesus: no, in fact it was commanded by God.  After Jesus: no, in fact Jesus promises to do it himself in the future.  After V.E. Day (when all those devout German Lutherans with their Gott Mit Uns belt buckles got their *sses handed to them): yes.

Right now, we have a Christian President of the United States, with the passionate support of the strongest community of devout Christians, who has killed over 600,000 people based on lies and misinformation.  If only this vaunted Christian morality could give as much of a damn about a hundreds of thousands of Iraqis as it did about Terry Schaivo...

So basically, you Christians apply the same sort of moral relativism you accuse atheists of.  Of course, there were Christians on the right side of issues like slavery, and most of the young men at D-Day were Christians also.  For that matter, there are gay Christians and Christians who don't think women ought to just shut up, be housewives, and bear children as their only valid purpose in life.  This merely goes to show that Christianity as such does not offer a consistent system of ethics.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 24, 2012, 09:13:53 AM
If Biblegod were real (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=7450.msg168587#msg168587)


I presume you're referring to the Biblegod.  The specifics of what I'd do depend on the circumstances under which his existence is revealed.

The first and most important thing to note is that, despite all of his Mighty Oz boasts, the Biblegod is not omnipotent, as we can tell from his actions.  Despite his being "with" the armies of Judah, they still got pwned by guys with chariots (Judges 1:19).  Jacob was able to wrestle with him and "prevail."  He is portrayed being worried about the scientific and techological prowess represented by a mud-brick ziggurat (Genesis 11), and saying, "Nothing they (humans) conceive in their hearts shall be impossible for them" (v. 6).

Jesus promised that he would return 'soon,' that the High Priest Caiaphas would see him coming in the clouds, that "some now standing here" (i.e. his disciples and audience) would see the Second Coming.  Obviously, the wheels fell off somewhere along the line. 

The most parsimonious answer (pretending for the moment that the Biblegod does exist) is that the Serpent defeated him by the simplest strategy imaginable: doing nothing.  A malignant narcissist, surrounded by yes-men, the Biblegod got a bee in his bonnet to "declare the end from the beginning" and tell us in his 'inerrant Word' how the world was to end.  In a sterling example of psychological projection, he declares that the Serpent must have the same ends as he does--the establishment of a global theocratic dictatorship.  So he proclaims that the Serpent must do a Jesus re-enactment (the beast's head that was slain and restored to life), then set out to conquer the world and brutally persecute all who do not worship him.  Then, Jesus would return at the head of his horse cavalry, conquer the world, and brutally persecute all who do not worship him.

But the Serpent/King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28) has other plans, namely the liberation of humanity and their ascent to divinity.  Since the Biblegod in his hubris preconditioned his return on the notion that the Serpent would imitate him, all the Serpent had to do was refrain from doing so.  Yahweh was bound by his own spell, and humanity set free to continue that technological advance Yahweh was so scared of. 

So a case could be made that Yahweh has already been beaten at the (non-) Battle of Armageddon.  If he does manage to break out of the trap he built for himself, he and his horse cavalry will be up against supersonic jet aircraft, precision-guided munitions, and motorized armor.  Even with his magic powers, he's in for an unpleasant surprise. 

His giant Borg cube/jewelry box could represent a significant threat on account of its (most likely metaphorical) size, but we have telescopes that can spot something that big and shiny from a long way off, and tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.  With enough advance warning, we'll have time to build an 8 million ton Orion space battlecruiser loaded to the gills with every nasty toy Earth's military-industrial complexes can imagine and meet him in space.  If he's held up long enough, we might be able to just eat him with swarms of submicroscopic nanoassemblers. 

By his own prophecy, he can't even bring that into play until he gets to the end of his script, and the Serpent can stop him from getting there by refusing to play the role appointed to him.  Perhaps that's why Yahweh's followers in all three of his religions seem so desperate to start a cataclysmic war in the Middle East.  Anything to break the Dark Lord out of the box he locked himself into!

Of course he may never be able to break his own spell, since Caiaphas, his disciples, and "this generation" (the people of Jesus' time) are all dead.  The prophecies of Revelation cannot be fulfilled as spoken.

Another thing you believers ought to think about a little is how Yahweh continually refers to you as agricultural commodities.  You are "the sheep of his flock," the "wheat" of his field, the fruit of his vine, etc., that upon his return you will be "harvested."  Have you ever considered the possibility that he might actually mean it?  Sure, he promises you eternal bliss in Heaven, but that may just be a lure, like the little bioluminescent sparkly an angler fish waves in front of its mouth.  Maybe if you're good, you'll be eaten last.

He might not just gulp you down though, maybe he'll keep you around to feed off you like a psychic vampire, lapping up your fear, praises, worship, and attention.  Like a vampire, he has promised you immortality if you drink his blood and eat his flesh, making yourselves profiteers on Jesus' brutal torture-sacrifice, transforming you into blood-obsessed, blood-drinking vampires in his image ("power in the bloood, power in the blooood, power in the blood of the Lamb!").  He promises to Assimilate you into his "Body" and you will become drones chanting his praises forever.   

If you're lucky, we'll destroy your evil master and save you from that fate.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 24, 2012, 02:38:06 PM
You live in the same godless universe as we do (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=7450.msg179038#msg179038)



Hello, we encounter this sort of thing all the time.

Christian: God has lots and lots of wonderful power!

Atheist: Well, if your god has all this power, why do we never see it in action?  Anyone sensing where the kidnapped soldiers are?  Walking through bullets to save some kids?  Stopping a car bomb?  Heck, God should be able to at least manifest powers on believers like the characters on 'Heroes'

Christian: Oh, no, you see, God's powers are all "spiritual" [translation: invisible and undetectable by any means whatsoever].  He helps us preach and be nicer people.  Physical life, health, freedom from pain and so on don't matter that much compared to the invisible, undetectable spiritual stuff.

What you're doing here is trying to explain how "universe as we know it + Omnipresent, Omnipotent God who knows when every sparrow falls in the forest and does things like raising the dead and parting seas" is completely indistinguishable from "universe as we know it, without such a god."

You live in the same godless universe we do.

Your biggest problem is your religion's advertizing copy (aka "the Bible").  Your holy book presents us with the picture of an entity with amazing super-powers, who even came to Earth and promised super-powers to his followers ("Greater works than these shall you do in my name").

You live in the same godless universe we do.

If you want to be able to do the "spiritual" dodge and say that your god-hypothesis has effects only in an invisible "spiritual" dimension known only within the confines of your own skull, then you've got to get rid of the Bible.  Otherwise, you're like a car salesman going on television and promising that the cars you sell can go from 0 to Warp 9.5 in 6 seconds, and have unlimited gas mileage due to a perpetual motion engine, then, when someone comes down for a test drive saying, "Oh, here on Earth it can only get to 65 mph, gets 15 miles per gallon, and you have to ignore that clunking noise.  But if you sit in the driver's seat and enter a meditative state you can visualize yourself driving across the Galaxy at warp speed!  Woohooo!"

You live in the same godless universe we do.

It is a simple, utterly inescapable fact: The Christian god cannot live up to the claims made for him in the Bible.  To maintain your belief, you have to "interpret" whole rafts of Bible passages away, or say that, despite the fact that your god is "the same yesterday, today, and forever," that he doesn't do all that super-power stuff these days.

You live in the same godless universe we do.

From beginning to end, the Bible is full of passages where your god boasts like the Mighty Oz, hurling vicious threats at those who don't worship him, making sweet promises to those who do, but when we peer behind the curtain, there isn't even so much as a man to be found there.

You live in the same godless universe we do.

Look at this news story[1].  Here we have the account of a community of Mennonites so devout they forswear technology and connection to global civilization for their god.  Except that their inbred community has a way of generating rare genetic disorders, among which is a disease that will kill their children unless the children sleep uncovered under intense blue lights.  Sounds like the opening of a Stephen King novel, doesn't it?

Anyway, these people reject science and technology, believing that their god wants them to live forever in the 1700's.  Their religiously-motivated separatism causes their children to be struck by a horrible disease.  God, as usual, does nothing.  Who does come to their rescue?  A man from the society they reject, a doctor bringing the science and technology they forswear, the blue lights that keep their children alive until they're old enough to take advantage of the man-made "miracle" of liver-transplants.  And so, in a magnificent display of hypocrisy, the people there credit their god with "sending" them the doctor!

You live in the same godless universe we do.

There is a real monster here.  It is not some extra-cosmic superbeing with unstoppable powers and horrifying tortures in mind for those who do not serve him.  It is a meme, a contagious idea, the idea of a god for which you must reject "material" things, and value "spiritual" illusions.  This meme condemns children to terrible, rare diseases in bizarre, cultish communities, with only the hypocrisy of their parents to spare them from death.  It is an idea that can make nice, kind-hearted people sanction genocide and torture.  Like some twisted alchemy, it turns good to evil while claiming credit for the good.

You live in the same godless universe we do.
Quote from: Hello
For those who believe in the immortality of the soul, saving a person from physical death is nothing compared to the power of saving their soul from spiritual death.
 
This fiendish computer virus of the brain even has you sending out veiled threats.  My guess is you're a nice, civilized person who does not employ coercion and bullying in your "material" life.  But when your god-meme is activated, it has you waving your hands in ooky-spooky gestures and saying bewaaaaaare, spiritual deeeeeeaaaaathhh!  We are, of course, supposed to take the whole "believe or you'll be tortured forever in Hell" thing as read, so that you don't have to come out and state it blatantly.

You live in the same godless universe we do.

But you see, there is a difficulty with trying to explain the absence of detectable divine power, and issuing implicit threats in your god's name at the same time.  A threat is only as good as the agency issuing it.  If your cosmological bully existed and had muscles to flex, then maybe we'd have reason to be afraid of it (see Omen's post).  Except that you're telling us that there's no observable difference between god's vast power and the absence of god's vast power.

You live in the same godless universe we do.

What you've done here is to explain why your hypothesis ("universe + Christian God") is observationally indistinguishable from ours ("universe").  In other words, there is no way to look at reality and see anything that fits your hypothesis and doesn't fit ours, i.e. in this case, manifestations of your god's activity in Universe.  Instead, you bob and weave and change your hypothesis to conform to the data that fits ours:
Quote from: Hello
My point was, God gives us powers that benefit people in ways that we may not understand.

If the "powers" your god give you only "benefit" people in ways you don't understand, how do you know you even have these powers?  You're basically claiming to know the unknowable and understand that which you say you do not understand.

There is an epistemological principle called Occam's Razor.  What it says is that if there are two explanations that fit the data equally well, but one has extra entities, postulates, etc. that are not needed to explain the data, then those things may be pruned away.  Since you have all but admitted that "universe + god" is functionally equivalent to "universe" (i.e., without god), then "god" is unnecessary and threats in his name offer only illusory terror.  Because...

You live in the same godless universe we do.    

It is a simple, utterly inescapable fact.
 1. link long gone ~Screwtape
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 24, 2012, 02:51:14 PM
Morals (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=7730.msg179189#msg179189)


OK, UnkleE, Fran, I suppose you do have a point that before I can criticize Jesus for sanctioning genocide, despotism, and slavery, I have to demonstrate that those are morally wrong.  Since neither of you have taken the opportunity to say that you consider genocide, despotism, and slavery to be morally wrong (at least not in any absolute, objective sense), and the Bible which you uphold as the source of your objective, unchanging, non-relative/non-culturally determined Moral Absolutes clearly does sanction these things, I will have to take your silence as implicit sanction, unless you say otherwise.

My Ethical System

I hold that it is possible to establish a system of objective ethics, but it is a process of discovery, like the requirements of physical health.  In other words, we already know "the basics" of what is required for physical health, things like excercize, balanced diet, and so on, but there is still some "fuzzinezs on the edges," as we see in the "four food groups" being changed to the "food pyramid," this being revised a time or two, the debated studies where researchers will say "X is related to incidence of heart disease" while other researchers produce a conflicting study.  However, we know enough now to know that certain things (excercize, a healthy diet, vitamins) are healthy for us, while certain things (heroin, overconsumption of alcohol, open sores) are not healthy for us.

In a similar way, we can know that certain things are "good" for us morally, and certain things are "bad," even if philosophers can produce wildly unlikely hypotheticals in which ethical decisions are difficult to make and pick away at things until they're debating what the meaning of "is" is.

So here goes:

Before we can ask what the proper moral system is, we need to ask, "why do we need a moral system at all?"  In other words, if ethics is to be considered a science, instead of subjective or theological whim, on what facts of reality is it based?

Humans are entities of a certain nature.  Our existence as humans is conditional.[1]  We continually face the alternatives of life and death.  If we fail to take the actions required for our survival, or take actions inimical to our survival, we perish.  The concepts of morals, values, and ethics arise from the concept of life as a process of self-sustaining, self-generated action.  They pertain to a specific set of living beings, namely humans and other sapient entities (i.e. extraterrestrials, if they exist, future sapient ) for whom nature does not provide an automatic set of "proper" behavior patterns.  A shark or a praying mantis has a "given" set of behaviors it needs to engage in if it is to survive, and it has no choice in the matter.  The shark cannot decide to become a vegetarian.  If it fails to adequately perform the behaviors necessary to survive as a shark (i.e. finding and catching prey, avoiding or defeating threats such as dolphins or fishermen), it will perish.

Humans must also adequately do what is necessary to survive as humans.  Unlike other animals, humans are not automatically "programmed" to do what is needed for them to survive as humans.  We have the capacity to deliberate before acting, to engage in volitional, goal-directed action.  We must discover for ourselves what is "good" for us and what isn't, and choose to act on that knowledge. 

This begins with the first choice, with regards to the fundamental alternative: existence, or non-existence.  We choose between life and death.  For the person who chooses death, ethics ceases to have import once they have implemented that decision.[2]

So, the science of ethics begins with a condition, namely, "If you want to live..."

From this we can derive an objective standard of ethics.  Life is something that exists objectively and has objective requirements.  Those things that are required for life to continue may be defined as "values."  For example, access to food, air, and water are "values" to living entities since they are needed to sustain life.  Now, it is possible to "surivive," but to do so on such a level of misery that death may be considered a preferable alternative.  Humans possess an objectively-existent nervous system, psychological makeup, etc. that determines whether we are "miserable" or "happy."

So, "if you want to live," you will need to obtain those conditions that are necessary to continue to want to live, i.e. "flourishing" or "happiness."  Therefore, objective ethics may be derived from a bi-level standard of survival and flourishing. 

Therefore, ethical principles ("oughts") are related to objective facts in the same way other normative prescriptions like medical advice and a health-coach's counsels are.

"If you want to live and be happy, you ougt to do X and refrain from doing Y."

"If you want to cure this sickness, you ought to take these antibiotics according to the instructions on the bottle's label."

"If you want to burn fat and build muscle, then you ought to follow this excercize regimen."

Now, it is possible for humans to be in error about what is required for their survival and flourishing.  If a human makes ethical decisions based on an inaccurate perception of the reality of what is needed for human survival and flourishing, the person will not survive and flourish.  You are free to hold inaccurate beliefs and make inaccurate decisions based on them, but you are not free to succeed at it.  Reality is the court of final appeal.

What this means is that there is an ethical imperative for humans to gain the most accurate possible understanding of reality they can.  There is an objective need for humans to discover and apply generalized operating principles of Universe, and root out and reject errors and delusions.  This leads us to value[3] rationality and logic as means to identify and integrate the facts of reality, and develop a set of protocols that provide us a working "BS Detector," such as peer review and repetition of experimental/observational validation in the scientific method.

Protocols which do not work to separate accurate perception of reality from inaccurate perception of reality--such as "faith"[4]--should be discarded.

Humans are by nature social animals.  By living together in a society, we are able to achieve levels of survival and flourishing we could never hope to reach as isolated subsistence-farmers/hunters.  However, not all societies are equally beneficial to human life and flourishing, and some are demonstrably inimical (e.g. the Soviet Union), which leads to their collapse.  Some societies, such as the United States and Europe, are demonstrably better places to live in than others, such as the Aztec Empire and Nazi Germany.  As "ethics" is the science of how human individuals ought to behave, so "politics" is the science of how socieities ought to be ordered.

"If humans are to survive and flourish in a society, then that society must be so ordered as to enhance the survival and flourishing of its individual members."

Now, entire book-length treatises can be written explaining these things in detail.

For the purposes of this post, I am going to focus on ethical and political principles related to what is needed for humans to coexist peacefully together in society (this being demonstrably superior to a Hobbesian "war of all against all" in terms of human life and flourishing).  While all human societies that endured for any significant period of time have discovered at least some of the "basics" of objective ethics ("don't kill each other" "don't steal from each other" etc.), some have discovered and applied more than others, and did so more consistently.

Savages in New Guinea figured out that it wasn't good to just randomly kill and eat members of their own tribe (so far so good), but they did not discover, or choose to apply that principle to other tribes.  In other words, it's demonstrably wrong to kill and eat "us," but we don't apply that principle to "them."  The result is a meta-society of brutal, warring tribes that is able to survive on only a minimal level.

If we compare them with the advanced societies where people suvivie (have much longer life expectancies) and flourish (live at a much higher level of prosperity and happiness) more effectively, we can compare the ethical and political principles being used in both cases and accept those differences in the level of survival and flourishing as objective indicators of superior knowledge and application of objective moral and political principles in the advanced societies.  We can do the same thing with regard to the advanced societies and ancient societies, i.e. compare the United States or European Union with ancient Israel, or ancient Greece with ancient Israel. 

Humans possess neural structures called "mirror neurons" which enable us to understand what is happening when we see another human being or animal in pain, and in a psychological sense, feel it ourselves.  This is "empathy."  As we can an understanding of what is "good" for us (health, prosperity, happy children, etc.) and what is "bad" for us (torture, being killed, being raped), we can choose whether or not to apply this understanding to others, and how broadly.

Historically, humans have tended to apply their highest ethical understandings to the ones they define as "us" while exempting the ones they define as "them" from the protection of ethics.  I call this the "horizon of empathy."  One thing we can see that distinguishes the advanced societies from the primitive ones is broadened horizons of empathy.  For example, in the era in which the Books of Moses were written, men of that time understood that rape was a Bad Thing--if it happened to them.  We see this in the narratives of Lot in Sodom, and the story in Judges about the man and his concubine.

In both cases, male visitors come to a city and the men of the city want to rape them.  In both cases, their hosts recognize this as bad--they would not want to be raped because of the pain, injury, and violation involved, and they apply this understanding empathetically to their male guests.  However, they do not apply this understanding to women.  Lot offers his daughters to the mob, and the visitor in the other story offers his concubine.  There is no implication in the Bible that they are considered unethical in this.  In the New Testament Lot is referred to as "just" despite this action (2 Peter 2:7-8).

In comparison, the Minoans appear to have extended their horizons of empathy to include women (their artwork reflects equality between the sexes, portraying women as prominent figures, and participating equally with men in activities like bull-leaping).  Judging from the archaeological excavations, they achieved a far higher and broader level of prosperity for all social classes than other societies of their era.  We can contrast the relative survival and flourishing of modern societies (e.g. the U.S. and Europe vs. the Islamic nations) and see, as a demonstrable fact that expanded horizons of empathy (to include women, people of other races/ethnicities, etc.) among other things (such as freedom of thought and action) provide higher levels of human survival and flourishing.

I doubt that very many Christians would prefer the Israel of Moses' time, the Judea of Jesus' time or the Christian Empire of St. Augustine's, to the United States or Europe as a place to live and raise their children.

Now, I'm sure that pretty much everyone here, including UnkleE and Fran, would not like to have themselves and their loved ones murdered in a genocide, or used as slaves, or live under an iron despotism.  Right?  We can all agree on that, can't we?

From the quotes of mine UnkleE citied in the OP, we can see that Jesus sanctions genocide, slavery, and despotic monarchy (with him as the proper despot), unless maybe he's just speaking in incomprehensible riddles.

Premise 1: Jesus sanctions genocide, slavery, and despotic monarchy, in many clear statements of his own, and by claiming divine sanction for the OT. 

Premise 2: Genocide, slavery, and despotic monarchy are demonstrably inimical to human survival and flourishing.

Premise 3: Our acceptance of the fact of Premise 2 is demonstrable in that we would not wish these things on ourselves or our loved ones (those within our horizon of empathy).

Conclusion: Therefore, Jesus is not (at least not always) a "pleasant" (i.e. moral) guy.
           
 1.  Even if one accepts the idea that human consciousness somehow survives the death of the body and goes on to exist in some other state, the person becomes another sort of entity, with a new set of ethics to be derived from its new nature, whatever that is.  For example, an ethical principle that murder is wrong has no application to an entity that can neither kill nor be killed.  Likewise, sexual ethics that apply to humans do not apply to sexless disembodied entities, or apply differently, if they have a different sort of sexuality.

 2.  This brings up the issue of suicide bombers.  Is suicide bombing ethical?  This depends on the truth-status of the propositions on which the suicide bomber is acting, i.e. does his life continue after his death, is there a God who is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, and who rewards suicide bombers with a paradise of doe-eyed virgins?  Does this God consider suicide bombing ethical and reward it?  If these propositions are false, then we may reject suicide bombing, and furthermore, condemn the belief system that promotes it as inimical to human life, i.e. evil.  Since we are discussing the ethics of Jesus here, an in-depth debate about suicide bombers and Islam is beyond the scope of this thread.
 3.  A "value" is something one acts to gain and keep.
 4.  "Faith" in the sense of choosing to believe in something without regard to evidence, or in contradiction to the evidence (as in Tertullian's maxim, "Credo quia absurdum," I believe [in Christianity] because it is absurd) is a threat to human life because it strips us of the ability to question ideas held on that basis and root them out if they're wrong.  A Christian with complete faith in the Bible and a Muslim with complete faith in the Quran have no basis on which they can come together and discover which (if either) of them is correct.  The result, as demonstrated by history, is the resort to violence.  It is better to accept ten falsehoods on the basis of reason, than one truth on faith, because the former leaves you with the ability to uncover falsehoods, while the latter does not.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 24, 2012, 03:00:10 PM
More on morals (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=8525.msg184068#msg184068)

Quote from: QuestionMark
Your complaining about supposed evils and injustices of God is falling on deaf ears. God, if He exists can do no wrong, he could do whatever he wanted to you and be perfectly right in doing so.

If this is so, then you have no basis on which to praise your god for his goodness.  You have declared him to be exempt from morality.  Since he would be fully justified in throwing all the Christians in Hell and saving only gay sado-masochists while laughing at the Christians for trusting in his promises.  Since he can do no wrong (no act of his may evaluated as immoral, because it's him doing it) he can do no right, either.  He is, by your standards, simply pure, unrestrained power, unbounded by any ethical principles.

Interestingly, one of the reflex critiques of atheism we often hear is "Without God you have no morality!  What keeps you from just running amok killing and raping?!"  In other words, what Christians fear most about atheism is that, having no God to threaten us, we will consider ourselves free to act like God.  Another thing to notice along these lines is how the phrase "playing God" is never applied to acts of great goodness, but only to horrifying abuses of unaccountable power (e.g. Dr. Frankenstein or Dr. Mengele).

Why worship such an amoral beast?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 26, 2012, 11:55:52 AM
Dueling Mythology (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=9363.msg207920#msg207920)


Centaurs, sphinxes, griffins, and other chimaeras of ancient Greek religion = mythology.
Creatures with heads of bull, lion, eagle and man, with wings and hooves = Bible truth (Ezekiel).

Mohammed flying to Heaven on a winged horse = silly mythology.
Elijah flying to Heaven on a flaming chariot = history.

Canaanites sacrificing firstborn children to Moloch = horrific atrocity.
Israelites killing the rest of the Canaanites' kids for Yahweh = righteousness.

Talking animals in Native American shamanism = mythology.
Talking snakes and donkeys in the Bible = fact.

Movie graphically portraying a man being brutally tortured to death = great inspirational film.
Movie graphically portraying a man making love to one or more nubile women = atrocious filth.

Line drawing of a 5-pointed star in a circle (pentagram) = Really, really spooky!
A t-shaped symbol representing an instrument of torture/execution = wholesome symbol of faith.

Man who hears the voice of God through a hairdryer = crazy.
Man who hears the voice of God without a hairdryer = safe to trust with the worlds largest arsenal of WMD's. (analogy from Sam Harris)

Pulling the plug on brain-dead Terry Schaivo = major threat to the Culture of Life.  Resulting huge outcry, Congressional intervention, wall-to-wall media coverage. 

Killing 600,000+ Iraqis = barely newsworthy, not worth protesting or objecting to.


Some more behaviors a visiting Martian anthropologist might find a bit odd:

Janet Jackson's breast seen on TV for a fraction of a second causes a huge outcry and a $500,000 fine for the network.  Dead Iraqis shown lying in pools of blood with flies crawling on them during coverage of the invasion of Iraq is acceptable family television and stirs no reaction from the righteous save higher ratings (I saw this on CNN in the afternoon, i.e. when kids would be watching).

On the other hand, National Geographic can publish photos of naked Africans and Amazon tribes without stirring the slightest controversy.  Only Western breasts are terrifying.

People taking advise on sexuality, child-rearing, marriage, etc. from celibate clergy whose only experience in the area (for those who have any experience at all) comes from molesting kids.

Permitting the use of mood-altering drugs that cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and other assorted mayhem each year (alcohol and tobacco) while throwing people in jail for using marijuana to cure nausea while they take chemotherapy, or just using it for fun.  Then electing a President who used it--who perpetuates this status quo without volunteering to go to jail for his own publicly-admitted "crime."

And so on.



Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on September 26, 2012, 12:30:33 PM
genesis (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=9408.msg221932#msg221932)


Quote from: QuestionMark
Let me clarify your position. You think that the author of Genesis 1-3 thought that God was lying, and that Satan was telling the truth?

As I understand it, scholars have fairly conclusively demonstrated that the Pentateuch (including Genesis) is compiled from at least four different sources (JEDP) that were incorporated and redacted later.  If this is correct, then there is no such thing as "the" author of Genesis 1-3.  I think attempting to mind-read the author(s) and then use that speculation as a basis for interpreting the text is to go at it backwards.  Better, I think, to just read the text to see what it says, and use that to inform whatever guesses we might make as to the authors' intent.

What you're getting at here (I think) is that, since the authors were obviously pro-Yahweh, they would not portray him as a liar.  That makes perfect sense, if you assume that the writers of Genesis, and the OT in general, had the "High God" of later, Greek-influenced Christian theology in mind when they wrote.  This "High God" is the one Christian theologians usually describe: an "omnimax" (endowed with the "omni-" attributes) Being who is the embodiment of absolute moral perfection, infinite wisdom and knowledge, etc..

To me, it seems abundantly clear that the OT writers did not have such an entity in mind.  They had no qualms about portraying their god commanding genocide, sending demons to possess and torment people (e.g. King Saul), having a friendly wager with Satan over how much capricious torment they could inflict on one of Yahweh's loyal servants before the servant cursed Yahweh, and so on.  While there are plenty of propagandistic blandishments about how righteous Yahweh's judgments were, and so forth, the OT writers made no effort to portray him in action as a moral paragon.  They had no concept of a systematized ethics by which to articulate a concept of moral perfection to begin with.

To them, Yahweh was The King, magnified to cosmological dimensions.  Just as the most powerful entities visible on Earth were kings, it made sense to assume that a Divine King would be the most powerful entity in the cosmos.  Just as the ministers of a human king will praise his wisdom, goodness, might, the profundity of his decrees, etc., without ever considering that their king was omnipotent and morally perfect, so the ministers of the Divine King would be eloquent in their praises without needing to believe that He was really a morally perfect omnimax. 

They didn't even have (so far as we can tell) anything approaching a systematic concept of ethics comparable to those of Plato or Aristotle.  "Good" was what the King (and the king) commanded.  The role of human subjects was to obey the King.  I don't think the authors of Genesis would have thought of it as a problem to portray Yahweh lying any more than the writers of the books of Samuel had a problem potraying Yahweh sending a demon to possess Saul.

I think the Genesis story was probably a polemic against the worship of the goddess Asherah, which was very popular at the time the OT was being written (the divided monarchy era).  From archeological evidence, it appears that Asherah was the consort of Yahweh, until the Yahweh priesthood sought and achieved exclusive worship of Yahweh.  Asherah was often portrayed as a lissome, naked young woman holding a snake in each hand, and sometimes as a tree.  The OT features frequent condemnations of people worshipping "Asherim" (sacred pillars of the goddess--naming the pillars instead of the goddess herself allowed the OT writers to use the masculine ending, so that they could refuse to acknolwedge the goddess, even in condemnation) "under every spreading tree."

So the "Serpent/Eve/Tree" images would have been clearly recognizeable as references to the Asherah religion.  The main theme of the story in Genesis is that Yahweh is more powerful than the Serpent and Eve (demoted from goddess to human woman), and that men have divinely-granted authority over women.  The core of the polemic is that the punishment for disobedience was that men would have to toil to produce food, and that women would be subject to their husbands and have painful (and dangerous) childbirth. 

In other words: "Everything that's wrong with the world--it's all Asherah's fault!"  Since the religion of Asherah was centered on female clergy who performed sexual rites (the Hebrew word is "qadoshin," literally "holy woman," but it is translated "prostitute" or "temple prostitute" in English), the subjugation of women as property of males and the control of female sexuality in general were important elements of the Yahwists' efforts to destroy the Asherah religion.

The Yahwist priests had no need to portray Yahweh as an epitome of perfect honesty any more than the priests of Zeus needed to portray him as a faithful husband to Hera.  Nor did they bother trying to portray Yahweh as omnipresent (he wasn't there when the Serpent was talking to Adam and Eve, and he comes "walking" into the Garden, just like a person), omniscient (he doesn't appear to see the whole fruit-eating thing coming, along with other reverses he suffers, such as the collapse of antediluvian society), or omnipotent (he doesn't appear to have other options, such as un-doing the effects of the fruit, etc.). 

Just as they saw no need to address questions like, "If Yahweh is omnipotent, why did he have to resort to a Flood instead of just making the bad people vanish, or using his perfect foresight and infinite intelligence to prevent things from getting that bad in the first place?" they saw no need to defend a philosophical doctrine of Yahweh's moral perfection.

What they did need to do was turn the people against the core ideas and symbols of the Asherah religion by representing them as the source of all the world's ills.  Needless to say, they succeeded brilliantly.   

The sort of systematic, philosophical thought that makes such questions possible did not exist in ancient Israel at the time of the writing of the OT.  The creedal description of "God" as an omnimax and the epitome of moral perfection did not take place until well after the writing of the canonical books of the Bible.  It is very easy to see the difference between the way the official Creeds of the Catholic (and later Protestant) Church talk about "God" and the way the Bible writers do.  The former are systematic and philosophical, while the Bible is neither.

The "High God" of the theologians is basically the God of Platonic philosophy shoehorned into Jewish scripture.  This lofty conception of Deity did not exist in OT times, any more than it did for the writers of the Illiad.  The Early Church was a merger of Jewish dogmatism and Greek philosophy, in a spectrum ranging from the Ebionites on the Jewish extreme to the Gnostics on the Greek philosophical extreme.  The Gnostics taught that Yahweh was an evil Demiurge who had forgotten his origins as an emanation of an emanation of the sublime High God, who was the "Father" from whence Jesus came.  Some Gnostic texts portray the Serpent and Eve as avatars of the Messiah and the Goddess Sophia (Wisdom), emanated from the true God, providing Adam with the "divine spark" and the "gnosis" (direct knowledge of the Divine) so that humans could be set free from Yahweh's trap.

The Catholic Church was more or less in the middle between the Jewish end of the Christian spectrum, and the Greek Mystery Religion (Gnostic) end.  I think it won out basically because it was able to tap the intellectual and emotional appeal of the Mystery Religions, but then wield the power of Jewish dogmatism (and practical implementation of the doctrine of an angry, punishing Monarch in the Sky in the form of persecutions and holy wars) when the opportunity presented itself.

This dichotomy of the Greek "High God" (with all of his sublime omnimax attributes and claims of moral perfection) and the Jewish Sky King (who is just the biggest and meanest kid on the block) can still be seen in the contrast between liberal theology and fundamentalism.  Liberal theologians basically toss the Bible overboard, but still call themselves "Christians" by embracing the God of the Philosophers dressed in Christian terminology.  Fundamentalist theologians cling to the Bible while offering lip service to the God of the Philosophers; however, when pressed, many fundamentalists will argue that whatever Yahweh does is "good" because it's him doing it.

This is basically the position of the Bible writers, especially those who wrote the OT.  Under this premise, Yahweh can lie, or cause demon-possession, or do any conceivable atrocity, and he cannot be critiqued on a moral basis.  In other words, I don't think the writers of Genesis 1-3 would have found the idea of Yahweh lying to be a problem, if they even noticed.  Mainly, they couldn't have Adam and Eve die as promised Yahweh and create new people, otherwise the story stops and they have no way to explain the origins of the ills of the world.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on October 08, 2012, 12:46:19 PM
Science and ID (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=10035.msg229210#msg229210)



The whole edifice of ID rests on the natural human tendency to give "Goddidit" an automatic mulligan from any further explanation, while demanding that any naturalistic explanation be fully validated at each step from beginning to end.

As humans, the pattern-detectors of our brains are wired to easily spot the human, even where it doesn't exist.  Lightning?  Obviously, the weapon of Zeus, who looks a lot like a Greek athlete throwing a javelin.  OK, Zeus is out of fashion, so clearly Yahweh operates the Department of Lightning. 

In order to convince people that lightning is not the weapon of some "person in the sky," scientists starting with Ben Franklin had to demonstrate experimentally that lightning is electricity in motion, provide complete theories of how clouds generate lightning, how "electricity" works, and so on.  No one ever had to provide any description of how Zeus or Yahweh went about generating lightning, how they aimed it, etc.

Being human ourselves, we have a pretty good implicit understanding of how humans do things.  Ask how the light bulb came to be, and it's easy to understand "ThomasEdisondidit" as an explanation, even if we have no idea how we'd go about constructing a light bulb from scratch ourselves.  We've all made things ourselves, so we have what seems to be a pretty good understanding of how "ID" works.

So, ID'ers bring up a case like bacterial flagella or bombardier beetles.  If the evolutionists can't explain in exhaustive detail every single step of the evolutionary process with complete fossil documatiation, then there's a "mystery."  So, when they say "Evolution can't explain this!  God must have did it!" it seems to make sense without further explanation.

"God" is basically a human with magic powers.  We all know you don't have to explain how magic works, it just does.  The wizard waves a wand, and *bling!* stuff happens.  That's what makes it "magic" instead of physics or engineering.  So, when the ID'er says "Goddidit," it's very easy for the human mind to imagine a Merlin in his lab drawing up plans for flagellum motors, stirring some bubbly potion with his wand, and *kazaam!* flagellum motors exist.  As humans born with a tendency to assume humanness first ("What's that sound?  A burglar!  No...just the wind--whew!"), the "human explanation" seems almost self-evident.  Flagellum motors were made by a super-human.  End of story.

Evolution, being a non-human, naturalistic process, is not automatically, intuitively understood by humans as human action is.  In order for a human to accept it, a whole lot of scientific explanation is necessary.  This applies equally well to any other natural process.  Explaining the movements of the planets of the solar system scientifically required the Principia Mathematica.  The theory that the planets were carried around by angels or held aloft on the shoulders of Atlas needed no explanation at all to seem credible.

ID'ers and Creationists are able to take advantage of this limitation of human consciousness by adopting a one-sided uber-skepticism with regard to naturalistic theories.  "OK, Mr. Evolutionist, explain the bacterial flagellum!  Well...um...alright, but what about the metamorphosis of the Monarch butterfly?  Betcha can't explain how that 'just evolved!'"  And so on, until they find something evolutionists haven't explained yet.  Barring the achievement of human omniscience, sooner or later they'll stumble upon an unanswered question.

Then, it's "Ha!  Evolution can't explain that!  Therefore, Goddidit!"  Triumphant, their uber-skepticism immediately vanishes, replaced by unquestioning acceptance.  However, if their own theory were held to the same standards as a naturalistic theory, its emptiness would be immediately evident. 

Scientist: "You propose an 'Intelligent Designer' as the central explanatory mechanism of your theory.  Is this a human being?"

ID: "No, of course not.  We...ah...don't really like to talk about our Designer much.  We just...you know...sorta hope you'll automatically assume it's the Christian God without really thinking about it."

Scientist: "So your Designer is not an entity that is a part of this universe, like an extraterrestrial being?"

ID: "Well, no, because the Designer created the Universe as well.  Look at those finely-tuned cosmological constants!  Don't know how those got to be that way, do you?  A Designer must have done it!"  >does victory dance<

Scientist: "So your Designer exists in some other dimension.  Where is this other dimension?  How does it interact with our universe?  Can you provide any equations or physics experiments showing how the existence of this other dimension fits with quantum mechanics and relativity?"

ID: "Um..."

Scientist: "If this other dimension is not a universe like this one with the same physical operating principles, what is it like?  How do things work there?  What is your Intelligent Designer made of?  How does it perceive events taking place in our universe?  We know that when we observe quantum particles, the act of observation affects the particles.  Can you provide a mathematically rigorous description of how your Designer can observe quantum particles in a way that does not affect them (since we cannot detect any effects of your Designer's observation of quantum events)?

ID: "Er...the Designer is outside of time...um...we just don't ask stuff like that.  There's a real nice church a couple blocks down the street from here..."

Scientist: "How would such a being select and set cosmological constants for a universe it was going to create?  Can you provide a rigorous mathematical description of how something like that would be done?  Are there creatures with "motors" in the Designers dimension?  Are there proteins and acids, or lipid-walls?  If not, how did your Designer come up with things like that in the first place?  I mean, could you design a device that would work in some other dimension where all the principles of physics work differently than they do here?"

ID: "What part of 'Goddidit' don't you understand?!"

Scientist: "All of it.  You want me to specify exactly how every single protein of a bacterial flagellum could evolve in mathematically rigorous and evidentially validated scientific papers.  That's fine, it's my job.  But if you want to call yourself a scientist, then you need to do the same with your theory.  You haven't provided anything like a scientific model of what your 'Designer' is supposed to be, what his, her, or its native cosmos is supposed to be like, how that cosmos interacts with ours so that your 'Designer' can do anything here to begin with, where your 'Designer' or its cosmos came from, how your 'Designer' can design things like cosmological constants and flagellum motors for a cosmos entirely different from its own...or for that matter, why there's only one Designer!  How do you know there's not ten of them--or billions?"


Intelligent Design "theory" rests on two pillars, without which it would not exist at all:

1) "Designer" is used with a capital-D and in the singular, counting on you to automatically assume "the Christian God" without the ID'ers having to come out and say it.

2) Scientists must rigorously explain and validate their theories against a steep ramp of hyper-skepticism, but ID'ers get an auto-mulligan: their explanations are sufficient if they consist of only four words: "The Designer did it."
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on October 16, 2012, 02:29:40 PM
Why isn’t the Supernatural more powerful? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=10424.msg237777#msg237777)


Christians:

Remember the great magicians' duel between Moses and the Pharaoh's court magicians?  Or the confrontation between Peter and Simon Magus?  Or the passage in Ephesians where Paul urges the faithful to don "the full armor of God" in order to wage spiritual warfare, his references to the conflict between believers and "principalities and powers" in heavenly places?

All of that sounds so wonderfully exciting.  Certainly, given the Christian cosmology of a battle between an omnipotent God and his angels vs. a not-quite omnipotent Devil and his demonic legions, we would expect supernatural power to be well-nigh ubiquitous.  People in the Bible certainly seemed to do so.

"Yeah, we know Moses wiped out the greatest empire in the world with divine plagues and then wiped out a whole army by standing a sea on its head a little over a month ago...  Meh.  We want something new!  Make us a golden calf!"

In the New Testament era, Jesus repeatedly had to deal with disciples who, moments after seeing him calm a storm with a word or feed thousands of people out of a lunchbox, lacked faith.  It's almost as if miracles and magic are so commonplace that such powers as Jesus and Moses possessed didn't even impress anybody.

If any of these things in the Bible are real (i.e. not "metaphor" or "allegory" or some other sort of fancy interpretation that renders them something other than supernatural events), where did all that power go?  Even if God doesn't want to work miracles anymore for whatever reason, that wouldn't hold Satan back, would it?  And then there's all those "principalities and powers," whoever they are.

Remember all the controversy around Harry Potter?  Christians getting HP books banned from school libraries and so forth, fearing the occult influence--but why?  Sure, a kid might read Harry Potter, then get a stick and start waving it around saying Latin words in imitation of the characters in the story.  But it's not as if anything will really happen, is it?  Eventually, the kids will get bored of that and go back to pretending to be Spider-Man and Storm.  No one need worry that a Harry Potter fan will conjure an evil spirit than that a kid fresh from Vacation Bible School will unleash a plague of locusts or turn the local river to blood.

Now, I'm sure you can claim many times that you feel that supernatural forces have intervened in your life.  Maybe something like a remission of cancer, or the voice of God speaking to you in your head, on down to having a parking space open up just when you need it to.  Of course, the one thing all these sorts of things have in common is that skeptics like most of the people that hang around here can attribute them to "coincidence" "delusion" "luck" and other prosaic causes that fit within a scientific/atheistic world view.

But if there had been a James Randi in Pharaoh's court, or among the Pharisees, he wouldn't really have been able to chalk things like sticks turning into snakes and resurrections of people dead for four days up to "coincidence."  Biblical protagonists are never confronted with debunkers.  It never occurs to anyone.  That's because the supernatural is so obvious and powerful (if the Bible is to be believed) that no one even thinks to say it's not real.

And Christianity is not the only supernaturalist world view this happened to.  Virtually every culture of that day had its own magical and spiritual practices and its own tales of grandiose supernatural power.

So what happened?  Why are things so different now?  To have such a powerful and ubiquitous aspect of daily life just cease to be would be like having electricity stop working all of a sudden.  One thing all religious traditions agree on is that the supernatural is powerful.  It is, in fact, the true reality, the most important facet of life.  And yet...

Let's compare it with an aspect of science, the ability of an electron to "leap" from one orbit in an atom to another without crossing the distance between.  The so-called "quantum leap."  Now, this sounds interesting, but really not that important.  The sort of thing that would be discussed in scientific journals riddled with frightening equations, but not the sort of thing you or I would encounter outside of a NOVA documentary.

And yet...

It is the basis for much of our technology.  Without it, there would be no transistors.  No compact electronics, no computers, no lasers.

Or how about something like the Weak Nuclear Force, that only exists within the nucleus of atoms, at a scale so tiny the human mind cannot conceive of it.  Without it, there would be no X-ray machines, no smoke detectors, no nuclear power plants, or nuclear weapons.

So why is it that these comparatively minor aspects of physics are so much more ubiquitous and powerful in our world than God, Satan, all the angels, all the devils, all the "principalities and powers," all the gods and goddesses, devas, spirits, and magic spells of all the religions and spiritual traditions of the world combined?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on October 16, 2012, 02:33:24 PM
Christians: Is it time for a New New Testament? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=10426.msg237784#msg237784)


Christians:

Many times in discussing the Bible with you, we will receive as an answer to some question or argument we present, that the part of the Bible we're discussing was meant for the people of those times and applied only to that culture.  Or we'll have it explained to us that the verse is a cultural idiom of some sort that requires scholarly knowledge of the ancient culture, without which it is either inexplicable or seems to mean something completely different than it was intended to mean. 

In other words, even according to most of the Christians we debate with here, most of the Bible is obsolete.  The whole Old Testament is often placed in this category.  But even many New Testament passages (such as the ones where Jesus or Paul accepts slavery) are also explained in this manner.

So, doesn't that mean it's time for a New, New Testament, one that isn't culturally obsolete, that doesn't require scholarly commentators with knowledge of ancient cultures, traditions, idioms, etc.  and the meanings of words in dead languages?  One that speaks to us, now, telling us what God wants of us, what doctrines are to be believed, what proper morals and social structures we should have, etc., that is suitable and comprehensible for our time?
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on October 16, 2012, 02:37:33 PM
Christians: Is it time for a New New Testament? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=10426.msg238213#msg238213)  Part 2

Blaize, you seem to be missing the point of the question.  Judging by many of the Christian responses we get here, it takes a PhD in theology and/or Near Eastern Studies to be able to understand what the Bible is talking about.  This was not the case for the people to whom it was written.  When the Corinthian church was reading Paul's letters, no one had to say, "Now, here is what this Greek word meant," followed by an explanation of some word in its cultural context, describing what it conveys in the aorist tense, and so on.  They just understood it.  When Paul talked about slavery, they could accept that he meant slavery, since it was an everyday reality for them.  When Paul told women to shut up and bear children, there was no need to interpret around that to make it fit with post-Susan B. Anthony attitudes.  When Jesus said "some now standing here will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds in glory" there was no need to postulate that maybe some of his disciples would be alive 2000+ years from now, or that he didn't really mean "some now standing here" when he said it.

And so on.

Based on the Christian responses we get, it seems that it's time for a New, New Testament that doesn't sanction slavery (e.g. Philemon) and doesn't use slavery as an analogy of what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like (Jesus' parables), becuase, nowdays, we know that God didn't really mean any of that, he was just limited in what he could say and how he could say it by the culture of those days.  In the post-Appomattox era, we now know that slavery was something God would not sanction.  What he really meant was "welfare" (since there wasn't a better way to deal with poverty in those days than slavery).

Think about it.  A person from the (alleged) time of Moses or Abraham could get along alright in the time of Jesus, once they figured out the language.  Farming was still farming, sheepherding still sheepherding, etc..  Aside from political changes (Rome instead of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon), life was pretty much the same.  And yet, the changes were sufficient to bring about a New Testament that replaced the Old.

Now, try to imagine someone from Jesus' time transported to ours.  The world would be completely unrecognizeable.  Culture and society are completely different.  All of the Bible's instructions on how to deal with slaves, and how to behave if we are slaves, out the window.  The passages explaining how we should submit to the king--no longer applicable, since we elect our leaders, and criticizing them (e.g. the Sunday talk shows, editorial cartoons, blogs) is part of how the system works.  Jesus' financial advice--things like "give no thought to the morrow" and his talk about God providing for us like swallows or lilies of the field--all obsolete in an era where carreers must be chosen and planned for in advance (e.g. going to college, building a carreer that looks good on a resume'), where it's necessary to enter into long-term financial commitments (car loans, home mortgages) and plan for the kids' college funds and for retirement. 

And good luck getting women to wear head-coverings and refrain from braiding their hair and wearing jewelry and nice clothes (as Paul instructed) in most churches today.  For that matter, having the woman stay at home is likely to result in temptation, since the kids are at school, appliances do most of the work that made running a home a full-time job, clothes can be bought at Wal-Mart instead of made by hand, etc.--and there's nothing but racy soap operas on TV.   

And so on.

Sure, there are some "timeless" passages in the Bible, just as there are "timeless" passages in Shakespeare.  But the Bible is supposed to be more than great literature.  It's supposed to be a guide for our lives as individuals and as a society.  Since the majority of its text is now crammed into a mental attic as obsolete, even by Christians who profess to adore it as God's inerrant Word, it can no longer function as it was intended to.

The very fact that theologians and scholars are needed to make the Bible comprehensible seems to me a very strong indication that we need a New, New Testament.  Remember Paul's comments about the "philosophers" and "wise men of this age?"  That we now need such men to explain the Bible to us, and re-interpret so much of what it says to make it "fit" the present seems contrary to the general Biblical attitude toward intellectuals and scholars.
Title: Re: Kcrady - old school
Post by: screwtape on October 16, 2012, 02:48:05 PM
Christians: Is it time for a New New Testament? (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=10426.msg240255#msg240255)  Part 3

Quote from: blaize on July 05, 2007, 12:25:18 AM
Not necessarily. I was saying that skeptics will be skeptics even in light of really good evidence, or even personal appearances, such as they did in Jesus' day. Even if Jesus healed amputees, there would still be those who doubted.

The blame for this lies with Judeo-Christian theology.  First, we are told that we must accept the exact right set of beliefs, or Yahweh will smite us and our descendants (OT) or condemn us to eternal torture (NT).  Then we are told (in Christianity and late Judaism) that there is an alternative spiritual force--Satan and his demonic legions--that is also capable of working miracles and intends to decieve us and lead us away from that exact right set of beliefs.  Virtually every book in the NT contains dire warnings against heretical Christianities (people with "another Jesus and another Gospel," "wolves in sheep's clothing" etc.).  Since heretics burn as well as heathens and infidels do, outsiders must approach Christianity with considerable intellectual paranoia.

We are told to 'test the spirits' to see if they acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh.  But then, the other guys could issue their own spirit-test in which it is the ones that say Jesus came in the flesh that are the Vile Heretics.  Even if one sect or another manages to pull off what appears to be a miracle or two, that alone cannot convince us, because we are warned of "lying signs and wonders" worked by the servants of the Dark Side.

Simply adhering to traditional orthodoxy is no protection either.  According to the Gospel narratives, Jesus came teaching a radically unorthodox (from a Judaic perspective) doctrine of the Messiah.  Whereas the Jewish Messiah was supposed to come as a conquering king to establish Jerusalem as the capital of the world, restore Israel and uphold the Law (which is repeatedly referred to as "eternal" in the Books of Moses), Jesus taught submission to Pagan rule (paying Roman taxes, carrying packs for Legionnaires, etc.) and repealed at least some of the Law, claiming himself as a superior authority ("it says in your law X, but I say Y").  Furthermore, Christians interpret some of his words as claiming to be God incarnate on Earth.  This was (and still is) foreign to Judaism.

The Pharisees are portrayed adopting the natural response: that he was a Satanic wonder-worker sent to lead people away from the truth of Judaism.  Of course the Gospels tell us we are supposed to take Jesus' side and scorn the Pharisees. 

But think about it for a moment.  Let's say you started hearing reports of a young woman who claimed to be the Only Begotten Daughter of God.  She works powerful miracles, but also teaches strange and unorthodox doctrines.  "It says in your Bible that there is no other name under Heaven by which you must be saved, than the name of Jesus.  But I say unto you, God is too big to fit in a single religion.  He speaks forth to all peoples; to the Christians as Jesus, to the Hindus as Krishna, to the Buddhists as the Buddha."

No matter what miracles she was able to perform, you and most Christians would likely disbelieve her.  Perhaps she would even face persecution as a Vile Heretic and a worker of Satanic wonders.  Christians would still be "skeptics" despite the "good evidence" of her miracles.  Outsiders like us, who are not predisposed to adhere to orthodoxy, would have no way to know which of the competing claims to accept, especially if the orthodox believers were working miracles as well.

So, Christianity presents all who would approach it with a nasty intellectual bind:

1) You must believe the right theology or be tormented forever

2) God can change the "right theology" at will, regardless of what older Scriptures say

3) There is at least one other miracle-working force out to trick you into believing in the wrong theology

4) Under normal circumstances no proof, miraculous or otherwise, will be offered to validate the right theology

Thus, even if we were predisposed to adopt some form of Christian belief, we would still have a difficult time solving the problem of which version of Christianity to adopt.  Skepticism of miraculous claims would still be in order.  The only possible way we could have would be pattern detection.  A one-off amputee-healing could well be a Satanic deception, or the work of some other rival deity, like the magic performed by Pharaoh's magicians in the Exodus story.

However, it does stand to reason that if the followers of "the right Christianity" really do have an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent Being as their Parent, Co-Pilot, and Best Friend, that some sort of consistent effects not attributable to anything other than an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent Parent, Co-Pilot, and Best Friend ought to manifest themselves.  It need not take the form of "True Christians" coasting easily through life with their every wish materializing instantly for them.  It need only match the predictions offered by their doctrines.  For example:
Quote
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

--Mark 16:17-18

Now, if this prediction actually worked for "True Christians" and only "True Christians," then the rest of us would know they had the inside track to the Divine, and would be able to sort out who the "True Christians" really were.  Since there is no body of Christians who can guzzle Drano with impunity and heal leukemia with a touch, either this prediction is false (and Christianity with it) or there are no True Christians left.
Quote from: blaize on July 05, 2007, 12:25:18 AM
The critique wasn't against Christians, but against the way Christians are often spectacles over nit-picky things in the Bible. It's a Catch 22. If Christians offer explanations, they get criticized for "cherry-picking", yet if they don't then they are left to accept the critics response.

Then it is unfortunate that you do not have a set of Scriptures that comprehensively fit together.  Not our fault, we didn't write your book. :)
Quote from: blaize on July 05, 2007, 12:25:18 AM
I would also contend that Christians agree on a lot more than you are giving them credit for. I certainly don't think that all Christians agree on everything, but consider what we are dealing with: practically every facet of life.

Yes, but Christians are not claiming to be mere philosophers.  They claim to have direct guidance from the omniscient Creator of Universe.  It is this claim of superhuman assistance that places Christians on a higher standard than the practicioners of merely human disciplines like paleontology or philosophy.  Likewise for every other religion and "spiritual practice" whose adherents claim access to superior channels of knowledge.

We would be perfectly willing to accept that Christians are just normal people trying to muddle through like the rest of us, and just as prone to mistakes.  It is Christian theology that forbids this, because it claims Christians have a direct channel to Omniscience, and that anyone who rejects True Christianity (whichever one that is) is doomed to eternal torment.  Honest mistakes still get you in the barbecue pit.  It is your own theology that demands Christians be held to a higher standard.  Not our fault, we didn't write your book.

It should also be pointed out that Christians do not disagree on only minor matters.  Some Christians claim that God predestines who will be saved and who will not be (Calvinism); others hold that we have a responsibility to choose Christ (Arminianism).  Some Christians claim that salvation, once att