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^^^Excellent question. What makes something a sin? The negative effect on others or on society? Or the act in itself? What would make imagining killing someone, or masturbation a sin?

Does sin consist of specific incidences of bad behavior, like lying or killing or stealing? Or is sin whatever god says it is? Like making people your slaves, killing a child, or kidnapping a virgin female after winning a war is not sinful if god says it is okay. If god says it is required to shout insults at homeless people, would it be a sin to do it, or would it e a sin to not do it?

Is there an objective way to determine what is sinful, that never changes and holds for all people and for all time? Or does the definition of sin depend on what god wants at the time?[1]

The Ten Commandments mix the different kinds of sins-- some refer to obeying god, like not worshiping statues and idols. Others are about actions towards others, like not committing adultery or lying about people or stealing their stuff. (Remember, before god said these things were wrong, they were okay to do. And if god later said to do them, he even rewarded people for it.....)
 1. I suspect that JW's believe the latter. The way Jst has tried to justify slavery and casually dismisses all the millions, maybe billions of people who will "lose their lives" at Armageddon for not being righteous. As if their lives are stuck between the seat cushions of the sofa.
Religion In The News / Re: National Geographic article on atheism
« Last post by nogodsforme on Yesterday at 03:34:55 PM »
^^^That is exactly what happened. The Catholics changed the names of the gods and goddesses, and let people keep on partying. That is why there is a patron saint for everything under the sun, and lots of different local saints and virgins in every Catholic country around the world. It's polytheism, all the way down.

If you look at the major Christian/Catholic festivals, they coincided nicely with European pagan feast days and celebrations. Fertility celebrations in the spring to reawaken Mother Earth. And wow, the word Easter actually means "fertility" and all those eggs and bunnies and flowers happen to represent Jesus being reborn. In a place where the seasons don't even match. What a coincidence.

And the winter solstice celebration where pagans set trees on fire to bring back the sun after the dark, cold winter just happens to take place the same week that Jesus was born far away during a frosty, snowy winter. In the Middle East. Right.
General Religious Discussion / Re: Why should God heal amputees?
« Last post by natlegend on Yesterday at 03:31:15 PM »
^^^ There's no point, nogods, Jst is the only one who has it right.
General Religious Discussion / Re: Why should God heal amputees?
« Last post by nogodsforme on Yesterday at 03:21:22 PM »
Jst, maybe everyone who reads the bible and takes it seriously, as if there is a real god described therein, is being deceived. Not just you and the other Witnesses. Catholics, Mormons, Adventists, Lutherans, Unitarian Universalists, Coptics, Anglicans. Everyone. All mistaken. Not being tricked by demons. Just plain wrong.

How would you be able to tell if everyone who thinks the bible is about a real god is wrong?
Reviews / Re: Rate the Last Film You Saw
« Last post by nogodsforme on Yesterday at 03:15:05 PM »
Ant Man was way cooler than it had to be,  and I liked Man from Uncle more than I thought I would. Just saw The Time Traveler's Wife. 7/10

Took me several tries to get through the book. The movie was much clearer although it stuck pretty close to the book's plot. The actors did a great job of convincingly conveying the time travel stuff and how it would screw up everyday life, mixed with the love story.

On that note, a friend I was talking to about the movie told me she met a time traveler in real life. I told her the physics could not possibly work. She said that her friend got on a bus and everyone was wearing like 1940's clothes. The bus stopped and she got off in a place where the bus no longer stops. She later found out that the bus used to stop there, but does not anymore. She stuck to the story, saying she had not been dreaming or using drugs.

Creepy, like a Twilight Zone episode. :o
So, CD, do you think the global flood story as described in the bible has any factual basis? Do you think anything magical sounding in the bible has a factual basis?
Religion In The News / Re: National Geographic article on atheism
« Last post by albeto on Yesterday at 02:06:29 PM »

I see it that she's seen as being the most important because she gave birth to Jesus, who's supposed to be the savior of the world who washes away all sin and saves us from hell—come to think of it that puzzles me, because 1. we still sin, and 2. supposedly there are people who will still go to hell if they are irredemably evil, have no remorse, and completely reject God.  So, how is that different from before Jesus?  Was there no afterlife then?  Come to think of it that one kind of makes sense because of the whole "To dust you shall return" and Shoel thing, so maybe that's what's meant.

It really doesn't make sense when applying logic, does it? That's why logic is downplayed and faith is a virtue. Logically, there would be observable consequences to such an act. Either there would be no more sin, or sin would be easy to avoid. The the new testament does say, btw, and every once in a while you'll find a xian who believes they don't sin, although they may "backslide" from time to time. Because that's what the bible says. But we can apply the definition of sin to virtually any action, and we can also justify any action another might label to be "sin," which makes it impossible to discern who's got it right.

And really, that's the whole problem skeptic54768 has [problem]. "Sin" is subjectively defined and understood. Even the generic definition "offense against god" doesn't work because any behavior that is considered offensive against god, has been at some time employed by yahweh, jesus, or one of his/their pets, and is of course lauded for it. So really "sin" means, "don't piss off god, as understood by pissing me off," or simply put, it's a behavior that functions to solve one person's problem in such a way that creates an unexpected or unwanted problem for another person (purposefully or not), enough to frustrate the other person beyond their comfort zone.

Also, by what possible logic does blood affect behavior? What magical, mystical properties does blood have, or does Jesus' blood specifically have, that affects one's behaviors? If Jesus pulled a hangnail until a drop of blood fell, would there have been some effect on the behavior of those closest to him? How does that work, do you think? And why blood? Why not tears, or sweat, or raindrops? Why would one need the blood of a demigod when simply encouraging people to make restitution for offending someone, and, I dunno, maybe spend time teaching people practical conflict resolution skills, would have an observable, productive effect?

I think she agreed with it if I recall correctly, but not entirely certain there.  As for my thinking on that, Mary is elevated to a higher status after than that for a reason other than the pagan fertility goddess thing—because she gave birth to Jesus who's supposed to be the Savior of the world, and God in human form (though I don't think the Trinity doctrine came into being til 300 years later...)

In behavior modification, one of the things you learn is that it's nearly impossible to simply cease a behavior, even if it's maladaptive. Instead, one will see better results if one replaces the behavior with a more effective alternative, one that meets the same functional goal with better results, or with less negative consequences. In other words, when sharing the new religion of the conquerors, it was more effective for the Holy Roman Empire to change the name and identity of the gods and goddesses than it was to squash them altogether. To suggest ones religion is wrong and must be stopped is to encourage fealty, and incite rebellion (ie, consider the orthodox xian church in Russia today, after having been formally suppressed for 70 years). It's more effective to encourage a conquered culture that their religion is just *this close* to the "real one," and their goddess is really a mistaken manifestation of Mary than to try and oppress their religion altogether. To let them have their holidays but change the cast of characters is a time-honored way of evolving religion. Mary's history is traceable along just this path.

(sorry for the excessive replies, but for some reason I couldn't figure out and remedy, the site wouldn't let me consolidate both sections in one post)
Religion In The News / Re: National Geographic article on atheism
« Last post by albeto on Yesterday at 02:03:06 PM »
I remember hearing that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception isn't even in the Bible, though since I haven't gotten that far in my read-through I can't officially confirm or deny that through my own reading yet.

It's not in the bible. Then again, neither is the holy trinity, praying to jesus (or mary), annulments, life begins at conception, or any number of beliefs modern xianity assumes to be TrueTM. Lots of xian stuff was put together piecemeal after the canonization of the set of holy books any given xian community accepts. While the doctrine of the immaculate conception was accepted by the catholic church for centuries (well enough established in the 12th century, possibly celebrated by some as early as the 6th century) it was formalized in the 19th century using a textbook case of religious means of uncovering information - checking to see if the brainwashing worked. The pope asked all the bishops to ask all their parishioners if they really and truly believed the story taught to them and their parents and grandparents and great grandparents and so on. And when the votes came back, the pope pronounced the holy spirit spoke through the body of the christ, the church militant. It's called sensus fidei, "sense of the faithful," and it also solidified the doctrine of the assumption of Mary, an interesting story itself, full of magic and wonder:

The story of the assumption tells about the second coming of christ (really) in a cave at the time of Mary's death. Everyone in her life was magically brought to her - with the notable exception of Doubting Thomas (poor guy, keeps getting left out of important events). Even those who had died were brought back to life, and those who were busy elsewhere around the world blinked and found themselves instantly in a cave with a crowd of people venerating Mary, the mother of the demigod Jesus. Of course she was tended to by virgins. Because, I don't know, there's power in virginity? It shows extra piety?  A woman who has sex can't possibly keep her mind on her work? Anyway, eventually jesus comes to whisk her away to heaven the very moment of her death, although they'll tell you today she never died. They'll also tell you jesus hasn't come back yet. But according to this doctrine, catholics are eagerly awaiting the third, triumphant return of christ the king.

Forum Announcements / Re: New Moderators
« Last post by Emma286 on Yesterday at 01:58:25 PM »
Congrats to jaime and jdawg70! 8) Am sure you will both do a great job!
Chatter / Re: How does free speech work?
« Last post by Death over Life on Yesterday at 01:55:54 PM »
I agree with you graybeard!

One thing you didn't address that I would like your opinion on is on the flip side, the oppressed majority. It's quite funny though when we look at it. We always talk about minorities who always get oppressed, but on the subject of gun control, the minority has the law in their hands. I remembered that statistic where 93% of USA (both left and right wingers) supported openly gun control and background check laws, yet, the 7% get to tell 100% of the country how their gun laws shall be enacted.

That is just one example, but I do wonder about an oppressed majority on the subject of free speech.
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