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  • posted a message on Christian Answer Thread
    Quote from chronoplasm »
    I'll check that book out some time.


    I'll try to have more to say on this in a while; at the moment it still demands more thought. It's a great question, albeit one with many variables.

    Quote from Vulcain666 »
    Wait what is Jesus message again? I thought it was something like a simple line everyone could understand: "Treat strangers like they were bros and forgive the sins of your brotha and sista." or something like that. "Don't do stuff to people you wouldn't want others to do to you." Why should we need 500 hundred pages to remind us a line? In fact, why do we even need a line?

    Jesus Christ's message, as it is popularly distilled, is as follows:

    1. Love God.
    2. Love your neighbour.

    On these two sayings, it is said, hang all the laws and the prophets. This does not mean that you can just ignore the laws and the prophets, though; it means that an understanding of and appreciation for the laws and the prophets is essential to being able to carry out those two tasks. Christ came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it; He did not discard the Hebrew scriptures, but cited them and called them holy.

    What's more, His message also includes a number of clauses concerning Hell and the difficulty of life. Hard sayings, they're sometimes called, and their truth and utility are not immediately or intuitively apparent. It's also a dicey proposition to love God without knowing who God is, or to love either God or your neighbour without knowing what "love" is meant to signify in this context.

    This might be the reason for a collection of documents
    - describing certain facets of His life
    - providing accounts of His sayings
    - including commentary thereupon by those who knew Him and lived at that time
    - appending a collection of the documents that He Himself found essential.

    Thus you get your bible.

    Even 3000 years before Jesus people knew the difference between a moral action and an immoral action.
    In some instances, certainly; in others, not so much.

    And all that is relative anyway because some values change through time and culture. But Kant proved that any man had the ability to determine (through reflexion) what was more morally acceptable in any given moral dilemma. You always have an obligation towards others and towards yourself.
    The appeal to relativism is not helping your case, as, of the two types of moral relativism most commonly propounded, the one undercuts your argument about the sameness of religious morality while the other undercuts your Kant.

    If you're appealing to what is called descriptive moral relativism - that there are clear and irreconcilable differences between the moral outlooks of certain differing cultures and systems - it is not so very easy then to argue that all of the world's religions and moral codes are somehow the same thing with different window dressing. If you're appealing to what is called metaethical moral relativism - that the morality of a certain act is dependent upon the culture in which it is undertaken (pursuant to DMR but not elementally the same) - it is not so very easy to hold up the practical reason of the individual as a reliable source of moral information.

    I tend to agree with Kant on the value of practical reason in such questions, but an important thing to remember about this is that practical reason doesn't come with all of the data pre-installed. You need information about things before you can come to a good moral judgement about them, and this might entail - alas - reading some books.

    You don't need a book be a good person. You only need it because you're scared. Scare people and give false hope. That's what religion does best.
    You might also need a book because you'd be poorly-informed without one. Teach

    Let's face facts: you had to read what Kant wrote before you knew what he said, didn't you?

    Quote from Blinking Spirit »
    Really? Damn. I had that idea. I guess I'm going to have to go read it now.

    I had the same thing happen to me recently with a novel about an adventure involving the two sets of James brothers so important to American history (Frank and Jesse, murderous outlaws; Henry and William, novelist and philosopher). It chunnered away on the back burner for a while until all of a sudden, one day, there it was on the bookshelf, written by some guy I'd never heard of. It was like magic.

    By the way, how's it been?
    Pretty good, honestly. I have no classes this summer, having overloaded on them during the fall and winter, and as such am taking it easy, doing research at whatever pace I like, idling, etc. I'll be moving to the nation's capital in the fall to start the PhD, but for now I'm enjoying a fairly wet and relaxing summer. How about you?
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Christian Answer Thread
    Stan's a bit busy at the moment (though I see he's reading the thread), so he's given me leave to do some of the heavy lifting. Older members know who I am; newer members can just ask them.

    Quote from Ghyrt »
    One more set of questions:
    Do you believe that God is more lenient in the judgment of people who have had minimal exposure to Christianity. How do you reconcile the many religions, denominations, and codes of belief (agnosticism and atheism included) with God's desire to evangelize, as expressed in Matthew 28:16-20?

    You've said that making God's existence undeniable would amount to coercion. If God's existence isn't immediately obvious, are people justified in doubting? What do you believe is the extent of responsibility of non-believers to pursue religious enlightenment?

    As a brief addendum to Stan's previous answer, you should check out Romans 2:12-16 for Paul's words on a similar issue:
    Quote from Romans 2:12-16 »
    All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearer of the law who are righteous in God's sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law unto themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.

    From the Christian perspective, the pursuit of "religious enlightenment," as you rightly call it, is of one substance with the pursuit of truth, beauty and virtue. Those who strive for such things with candor and humility are reckoned to be capable of arriving at an acceptably "Christian" position without ever having heard the gospel specifically. Pope Benedict XVI noted as much in an early lecture (Nov. of 2005) on Augustine's meditations on the Psalms, declaring:
    Quote from Pope Benedict XVI »
    [Augustine] knows that also among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people who are committed to peace and the good of the community, despite the fact that they do not share the biblical faith, that they do not know the hope of the Eternal City to which we aspire... "They have a spark of desire for the unknown, for the greatest, for the transcendent, for a genuine redemption" [writes Augustine]... And he says that among the persecutors, among the nonbelievers, there are people with this spark, with a kind of faith, of hope, in the measure that is possible for them in the circumstances in which they live... With this faith in an unknown reality, they are really on the way to the authentic Jerusalem, to Christ... [Again from Augustine] "God will not allow them to perish with Babylon, having predestined them to be citizens of Jerusalem, on the condition, however, that, living in Babylon, they do not seek pride, outdated pomp and arrogance."

    Of course, as Stan would agree, it is dangerous to rest on the laurels of ignorance as though this could preserve one from judgement; to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., it is on the content of one's character that one shall be judged, and those who commit vile acts without knowledge of Christ have still committed vile acts.

    Quote from KurCE »
    I thought they changed it because it made everyone fear for their souls if they didn't believe in God. Then after the majority of the population believed in God, they changed God to make him a nice happy God that loves everybody. Smile

    Since the "they" in every instance you use it is highly variable, this does not seem especially likely.

    Quote from gerg »
    Surely God recognises the ambiguity over his existence, and thus wouldn't a truly caring god understand and not care about a person not believing in him?

    One of the implications of omnipotence is that the question of God "not caring about something" becomes useless.

    The other issue here is that "not believing in Him" isn't just one thing happening. That is, a lack of belief (or an active disbelief, if you prefer that distinction) is not separate and discrete when it comes to other matters involving the person in question. It has implications too; it affects behaviour and thought - perhaps even effects them - in some fairly profound ways.

    If you mean a real and sustainted disbelief in God, then that's hardly going to be the only thing about you with which God might take issue when all is said and done, but if you only mean a mere lack of belief, there's similarly no reason at all that God should (or even would) find it prudent to validate your apathy.

    Now, a few things in Vulcain666's post...

    Quote from Vulcain666 »
    You are not mistaken. That is true. Respect of others is a universal value in almost all religions.

    All that changes is the little dude up in the sky (sitting on a cloud, burning underground or even smoking in space!). Sometimes that dude is wearing a beard, a hat, I heard somewhere he plays a flute, has some horns, sometimes it has multiple arms and legs, sometimes it's blue, red, green or black, more often white.

    He is, in fact, mistaken; different religions are not united in essentials while different in superficials. Pause a moment and consider how absurd that idea is. If different religions are united in anything it will be precisely those things that are most superficial, as in ceremonies or vestments or manners of worship. The cities of Europe were not sacked by Saracens and Moors for a thousand years because they did not like our hymns. We did not burn their citadels over the singing of the Muezzin.

    The nature of the God being worshipped is not a superficial quality of a religion. People who live outside of the religious sphere are very fond of announcing how silly it all is for X and Y to be fighting when an infant could see how very similar they really are, but to declare as much is to court great folly. The Xians know very well what it is they believe - certainly better than someone who neither knows nor cares anything about it - and are quite meticulously interested in what it is that those who follow Yslam believe as well. The reverse, naturally, is also true. That two groups who live with it and know a great deal about it seem to think it's worth arguing about should probably silence the candidly ignorant outside observer, but it seldom does.

    Tradition, culture and language differ. But in the end, all religions have the same purpose: try to unite a bunch of hysterical, desperate and angry humans.
    This would come as news to most religious people and traditions. The purpose of many religions (not all) is to pay homage to their respective gods in the manner that religion prescribes, and, in so doing, live lives of virtue and honour. If this comes at the expense of "[the unity of] a bunch of hysterical, desperate and angry humans" - that is, if "brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death" - it's of little consequence.

    The problem is that they're all trying so hard to unite an organism (our planet) that was already "united" (or should I say neutral?) by default. Because the way I see it religion is a paradoxical system that divides in order to unite. And when there are multiple systems trying to achieve the same unachievable goal, the result is a crusade, the inevitable inter-massacre of the dumb.
    You're actually quite close to the truth here, and I commend you for it. There is a drift of paradox at the heart of many such matters, as you say, but paradox properly understood is not the same as irreconcilability or falseness. What's more (and what I find most admirable about what you've said here), the clashing of differing systems aimed towards different goods does create great turmoil. We can see it even in non-religious matters, as in the current troubles resulting from the simultaneous pursuit of both liberty and security.

    You've hit on something not commonly understood, or at least not commonly accepted, and that is the fact that real and dreadful conflict does not necessarily require a good and evil side. This is not to discount the existence of good and evil, by any means, but rather to reflect on how, in a world where things are so very different from one another, the coming together of two separate goods can create conditions as difficult as a war against the tyranny of Hell.

    Goods move people to great passion when they are threatened or undermined, and it should not surprise us, then, that there are vigorous debates over what would seem in the abstract to be minor questions of interpretation. When things are delicately balanced, though, a few inches could be everything. How be if religious conflicts were the more terrible because the goods for which the participants fight are that much greater? As Chesterton noted in a reply to Robert Blatchford, dropping the principles of liberty, fraternity and equality into decadent France created a wave that splashed the heavens and drowned ten thousand men. What might a drop of God's own blood do?

    Speaking of morality, that's the only good thing about religion. The whole moral values of it. That's the only thing I like about religion. Not the book. Not the stories. Not the threats. Only the moral. I wish we all kept the same moral values and threw the rest in the trash.
    There would be no reason at all to do this.

    We don't need a book to know how to behave. We don't need a man to tell us what to think or tell us was is true and what is false.
    No, you don't "need a book" to tell you how to behave, but I think you're overselling your ability to just "know how to behave."

    Also, I don't believe for a moment that you would actually "keep Christian moral values" (for example) having thrown away the book. Or, for that matter, that you keep them now; would I be wrong in suggesting that you keep the parts of that system that you like while ignoring the rest?

    Every man is capable of judgment and reason.
    But not with the same candor and humility. It's a pretty poor system that has to deny the existence of idiots to work properly.

    I hope my two cents didn't offend too much. Even though it was the point of one cent and a half. Smile
    No offense at all; I hope I've offered none in return. Smile

    r3p3nt, your questions seem to be directed specifically at Stan, and flowing from your own discussion with him, so I'm going to leave them for him.

    Quote from Darklightz »
    Here's a question I like to ask Christians; When you go about your day, do you do what you do because it feels right to you, or because it was told to you by a priest or the Bible?

    Most of what I do during the day is amoral, so it's not a question of feeling right or being told by anyone. The rest is a mixture of utility, self-congeniality and, yes, moral reckoning. A heavy component of the Christian life is the formation of conscience, which, like any faculty, can be fed or starved (figuratively speaking). As time passes, the distinction between "it feels right to you" and "a priest/the Bible says so" collapses.

    More from Vulcain666:

    Quote from Vulcain666 »
    And if humans are the only ones that have a soul, then I guess aliens don't have a god. At least not the same one, because I'm sure they also would have to have some type of conscience.

    This is riddled with non sequiturs. First, humans are reckoned to be alone in the world as we know it in having a soul that reflects the combination of body and spirit; plants and animals can be said to have "souls," broadly defined, but they are not imbued with the spirit in the same manner and so those souls function in different ways. This is not to say that an alien race cannot exist, or that they cannot have souls, or that they cannot as well be a combination of body and spirit; indeed, we may even hope that an alien race would be greater even than we in this capacity, unfallen and sublime. The Vatican's chief astronomer had comments on this subject recently, and C.S. Lewis' cosmic trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength) accepts the idea as foundational (if you felt like exploring the idea in fiction, that is; they're quite good).

    We have some dim knowledge of what God has done in the past as we know it, but when it comes to what He's been up to since then, well... it's anyone's guess.

    btw, why do you Christians always use Bible quotes as undeniable proof? That kinda bothers me.
    He's not trying to prove anything beyond that Christians believe something more nuanced or particular than you describe them as believing.

    I thought it was agreed that the Bible was a mere compilation and update of old jew fantasy tales.
    It is not so agreed.

    Not trying to be harsh here
    If that were the case, you might have said "old Jewish fantasy tales" instead of what you did say, which has a certain anti-Semitic provenance.

    but it's kind of a historical fact. There's no revelation whatsoever in the Bible, it's just a bunch of stories that too many people take too seriously.
    Defend this proposition.

    And a lot of them don't even understand the metaphorical parabola of each story.
    And you think people can all just figure out morality and whatnot for themselves, yes? They can all just know it somehow, and understand what is true and what is false, completely unaided and by their own skills, candidly and honestly. You think this.

    I think Jesus was a very good philosopher that turned nuts because everyone kept saying he was the son of god. So he ended up believing it.
    Do you have any reason to think this?

    Quote from chronoplasm »
    If space aliens came to earth, having never heard of your judeo-christian god, how would you explain your religion to them?

    Though I couldn't answer off the cuff (I'll give it some thought), this very problem is demonstrated and resolved, at least for a particular alien species, in Michael Flynn's excellent novel Eifelheim, in which some insectoid aliens crash in medieval Germany and gradually integrate themselves into that society. It's good stuff.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Christian Answer Thread
    Quote from Extremestan »
    Believe it or not, it is possible to convince people of things. Even on the internet. And even with religion. And even logically and reasonably. Smile

    It's true. Cool

    EDIT: Implicit in this brief "o hai" is an offer to help answer questions. Should have made that more clear.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on [Ivory Tower] And we gaze upon the chimes of freedom reviving
    Announcement: I will be giving up the internet, apart from the e-mail, instant messenging and facebook things that are vital for co-ordinating my academic life, until Easter rolls around. Guess why.

    So, to Mamelon, sorry I haven't concluded our exchange, but you are of couse welcome to continue on AIM, or through e-mail, if you're so inclined.

    To the rest of you, have a most dolorous Lent. Teach
    Posted in: Retired Clan Threads
  • posted a message on 9/11 was an inside job... and RealID is coming
    Quote from Shink »
    after reading a David Icke book

    Is this the same David Icke who maintains that the world is secretly controlled by giant shape-shifting space lizards?

    EDIT: On closer inspection, he does not suggest that the shape-shifting space lizards are giant.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on A question of literary reality
    Reading through this, I'm pleased with how it turned out, and have nothing really to add beyond thanking you for some interesting thoughts. However, I do have to respond to this:

    Quote from Highroller »
    Well you can't just say true, false, irrelevant or other unless you clarify what exactly that means in the given context.

    Welcome to the point of the question. The lack of a given context is what makes it so interesting.

    Everyone else seems to have understood this, though, so it's no big deal. Just try harder in the future Teach
    Posted in: Philosophy
  • posted a message on Jesus' Sacrifice, What's the Big Deal?
    Now that my work is out of the way (even if it was about Borges and thus delightful), I can get back on track with this.

    Quote from BenGreen
    Firstly, I started this thread with the secret hope that my juicy bit of Christian pseudo-theological vulgarity would temp Furor, the catastrophic spider of the philosophy forum, from his hidden lair in Canada to render unto me a sensible and articulate answer to my question. Thank you Furor!

    Provok'd :0

    Secondly, I checked out your blog and hot damn that viking, giant robot, marching band, guitar duel was flippin' awesome! New Lenlow fan? Check!
    Glad you liked it, though to be clear (as I wasn't in the post, regrettably), the original song and video are by Jason Forrest. The link to the song with the lyrics from Edwin Starr's "War" mashed into it is by Lenlow, who does that sort of thing with great verve and elegance.

    Thirdly, the vulgarity. I was attempting humor, it apparently flopped. Hence the olde adage, "know thy audience."
    Hey, no worries. I thought that might be the case, but I felt it wise to mention it, lightly, just in case it wasn't.

    My question doesn't depend on Jesus being bribed or anyone telling him what to do. All my question depends on are these two basic biblical facts:

    Jesus knew his fate ahead of time.
    He also knew that after his ordeal he would spend eternity in Heaven.

    Unless one of these is incorrect, my assertion that his sacrifice was unimpressive stands (read below for qualifications). Simply put, anyone who understood the terms "Heaven," "eternity," and "guarantee" would, if given the opportunity, suffer pain, humiliation and torture for eternity in Heaven.
    While it's very interesting to consider the symbolic power of the torture of the perfect human as a theatrical element, I don't really see how this bears on my assertion. My point was that Jesus didn't need to be an even remotely good person to go through the ordeal he did because of his knowledge of what would follow.
    Both of those assertions are correct, certainly, but they aren't the only assertions that matter to the situation. You're right that he didn't have to be a good person to do it, but the fact of his goodness is nonetheless important to the event. It adds elements beyond those suggested by your two assertions - elements that explain why the event happened in the first place. As it stands, you have a person suffering for a few days and then rising from the dead into glory, but nothing to account for why this is so.

    What I'm saying, then, is that you are quite right in pointing out the general smallness of the sacrifice, but only so long as you divorce the sacrifice itself from why and how it happened.

    It's like: a guy trades a dollar for a hundred dollars. Anyone would do it, right? How unimpressive! The missing fact here is that to do so he had to buy a lottery ticket, and then win that lottery, which adds a relevant dimension to the situation. The "trade" becomes more impressive because of the luck involved, and less likely a thing for "anyone" to do given the odds against a win.

    I am not comparing Christ's sacrifice to a lottery, of course; I'm comparing the "two assertions and nothing more" paradigm to something similar and this is the first thing that came to mind because they're a lottery ticket on my desk just now. We could be more epic and abstract, I guess:

    Assertion A: A man is attacked.
    Assertion B: The man survives only by choking the life from his assailant.

    A sorry situation, certainly, but that's just how it goes. What's missing is assertion C: the assailant was his brother. See what a new level of pathos and significance is added? Or a different assertion C: the man being attacked was in a wheelchair. Or: the man being attacked wasn't a man at all, but a young boy. Or: the man being attacked had just gunned down his assailant's wife in cold blood.

    These are not insignificant.

    Wow. I think you blew my mind. I see now that the perfect point of his "sacrifice" was that in the context of Christianity (that is to say, Christ-likeness) his sacrifice, and even his time in Hell itself were, as you said, totally irrelevant. His "sacrifice" wasn't a sacrifice at all, but rather a demonstration of how trivial such "sacrifices" are in the face of reality as presented in the Bible. Note that I still don't Believe (with a capital "B") any more than I did before, but I think I can now appreciate the brilliance of the Bible story much more than I did before. Question answered. Thanks.
    You're very welcome. I'd like to thank you, too, for bringing me to the point of articulating this rather than just thinking about it abstractly.

    Lastly, your point that people who were already totally convinced that they were going to Heaven wouldn't take the offer, because as far as they're concerned they've already got the "pay-off" is excellent. Your other point about the cultural significance of the relationship of being perceived as righteous and actual internal righteousness is also interesting and puts the crucifixion in an interesting historical context.

    I see your point that the result of Jesus' descention then ascension was that we can all be saved now is interesting but also not really relevant to my point, which was that anyone would've been totally stoked to be in Jesus' shoes.
    This may, then, account somewhat for the early and profound popularity of Christianity among people who did not live luxurious lives.

    It wasn't much of a price though, is (to belabor it) my point.
    Perhaps not. But then, what does price matter if we have no context for what's being bought? That's my main objection to your scenario.

    Quote from someguy25 »
    yes, if you think about it, it is quite Ironic to say the least, but it does have the sound of being greedy.

    Perhaps your definition of "greedy" needs to change? It doesn't seem to apply very well to something that you say it ought to.

    I agree, hence why I said you should never assume something.;)
    I beg your pardon, then, for misconstruing your arguments.

    So you believe that Jesus christ also plays the role of god, and that jesus Christ "created himself"?
    I believe that God is a triune singularity, and that one of the persons of that trinity is the Son who became incarnate in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus Christ was fully man and fully God, as orthodoxy insists, and, as a result of this, to declare him to be on the same level of abstraction as Lucifer - a created, finite and lesser entity - would be Dangerous Business. As to whether Jesus Christ "also plays the role of God," I believe that when he said, "before Abraham was, I AM," he meant it. So, apparently, did the people who tried to stone him for saying it.

    if my Religious studies are not off, the holy trinity is the father, the son and the holy ghost. God being the father, Jesus being the son, and the holy ghost being jesus' ressurection. Just as the opposite of that would be the devil, the anti-christ and the false Prophet. say that Jesus Christ is god sounds pretty obsurd to me.
    Well, the trinity itself "sounds pretty absurd." I have never heard it said that the Holy Ghost is Jesus' resurrection, especially as it is explicitly seen in the Gospels during his baptism in the Jordan (the dove, descending) rather than at the time of or after his death. Do you have a source for your usage? I'd like to see what's being said about it.

    Its like reading "do you believe everything your read on the Internet?" sure, some of it is true, but you must chose for yourself what to believe.
    I know, I know. You left out the "everything," though, so I thought I'd have some fun. Wink

    I believe the bible, but I also understand that it was written by man, and man is not perfect. So therefore parts of the bible could be wrong and I am open to this, such as I believe that Jesus could have had a child, why couldn't he?
    "Why couldn't he" is not the same as "he did." And there are answers to "why couldn't he," but that's a thread we've already had, somewhere or another. Still, I'm glad to see that you accept the possibility of copyist error, for it is an important feature of any scriptural transmission.

    Quote from Frostshock! »
    The proverbial responce of "There is no big deal." Is a perfectly reasonable reply to a topic with the Subject line that this one has. Wether you like the reply or not is moot.

    A fair point. Teach

    A reply which seems to have nothing to do with what you quoted of mine.
    I'm sorry if I wasn't clear enough. You said, and I quote:

    "...nor [has Christianity] shown any more than other religions, wether still in practice or not, that it's supernatural claims are any more a reality then it's enemies."

    It does not have "nothing to do" with what I quoted. It's a response to the implicit suggestion in your final clause that Christianity's supernatural claims are not any more likely to be true than those of opposing religions. I beg your pardon for not being as explicit about this as I could have been.

    A variety of people, including the author of Atheism:A Case Against God has written on why attempts by Creation theology to define God so that the word is more than gibberish are full of self contradictions that render the term ultimately meaningless. Hence, " but Christianity has no more properly defined in intelligable terms what a "god" is".
    Well, a variety of people, excluding the author of Atheism: A Case Against God, would appear to disagree. What do you say to that? We can bandy popular anecdotes about all day, if you like. I once knew eight people who thought God was a stupid idea! It just oozes significance.

    As for the latter part. The degrees of what is fantastical in one religion compared to another strips neither of supernatural elements. So comparing their supernatural elements as if either is plausible is rather pointless.
    Yes, let's just reject things a priori, that's what science and reason are all about Cool

    I'll sum this up. The world still sucks a great deal even if the hows, whys, and whos differ from how the ancient world sucked. Did that whole paragraph really have a point?
    Was there any point to yours?

    Quote from Mad Mat »
    What does likeliness have to do with it? If someone assembles a more or less coherent collection of greek myths, in the style of the collection of the canonic gospels, can you disprove the contents?
    If someone did so and stated sincerely that he believed it all, people would mock him. But many theists still think that nobody should mock their religion. I only hope you are not one of them.

    Likeliness is everything when we're asking, as Frostshock! did, whether Christianity has more of a claim to reality than other religions. The claim to reality of Paul's conversion is based on the fact that Paul really did convert, suddenly and without apparent reason, on the road to Damascus. The reason he offered, and which those around him accepted, was supernatural. What are we to make of it?

    Frankly, a resurrection isn't that much less magical than a goddess springing out of a god's second head either. For me, they're both in the realm of fairytales. It's just that christian magic is more accepted as truth in this culture than Greek-mythological magic.
    So, you're seriously maintaining that a man who was thought to be dead coming back to life is just as credible a notion as a full-grown woman in battle armor leaping from the inside of an equally-sized man's head? Can you honestly not see how hilarious this seems?

    I'm not sure that's true. I've read about far more horrible punishments(impalement). And some have been used by the Romans, such as their punishment for patricide. It seems to me that their punishment for patricide is more degrading and painful than crucifixion. Though it doesn't take as long. I'm also pretty sure Caligula and Nero would have been able to come up with even more cruel, degrading and painful punishments.
    There may have been worse ways to die, but, as far as status degradation goes (which is the point of it), it was the very worst they had. In addition to whatever beatings you received prior to crucifixion, you were stripped, had your arms dislocated and your legs (eventually) broken, your hands and feet pierced through with spikes. It could take days to die, during which time you were pelted with trash and stones by passers-by, attacked by birds, exposed to the elements. The control over the bodily functions drifts away; you urinate and defecate on yourself, scream or weep with abandon, slowly die of dehydration, asphyxiation or shock. Bereft of dignity, agency and basic human cleanliness, you perish staked out on a pole to the sound of taunts and circling birds. If you're lucky they drag you down and bury you in a pit; typically they just leave you for the scavengers.

    It was a popular punishment, to be sure, but not one that was used on just anyone. It was meant for real bastards, you know? The worst of the worst; the lowest of the low. Consult some social science commentaries on the period and you'll see for yourself. Even Wikipedia - no friend to orthodoxy - supports this (boldened emphasis mine):

    The Roman practice of crucifixion was likely adopted from Carthage, and was used for slaves, rebels, pirates and especially-despised enemies and criminals. Therefore crucifixion was considered a most shameful and disgraceful way to die. Condemned Roman citizens were usually exempt from crucifixion (like feudal nobles from hanging, dying more honorably by decapitation) except for major crimes against the state, such as high treason.

    The Romans used it for the crimes of piracy, highway robbery, assassination, forgery, false testimony, mutiny, high treason and rebellion."

    [. . .]

    The goal of Roman crucifixion was not just to kill the criminal, but also to mutilate and dishonour the body of the condemned. In ancient tradition, an honourable death required burial; leaving a body on the cross, so as to mutilate it and prevent its burial, was a grave dishonour for the victim.

    Under ancient Roman penal practice, crucifixion was not only a means of execution, but also a means of exhibiting the criminal’s low social status. It was the most dishonourable death imaginable, originally reserved for slaves, hence still called "supplicium servile" by Seneca, later extended to provincial freedmen of obscure station ('humiles'). The elite of Roman society (only about 10% of the population) were almost never subject to corporal punishments; instead, they were fined or exiled. Josephus mentions Jews of high rank who were crucified, but this was to point out that their status had been taken away from them. Control of one’s own body was vital in the ancient world. Capital punishment took away control over one’s own body, thereby implying a loss of status and honour. The Romans often broke the prisoner's legs to hasten death and usually forbade burial.
    So, uh, there.

    They may seem that way to you, but you can't exclude them. As farfetched and ridiculous as scientology sounds, you still can't exclude it from the possibilities.

    In that way, you could say 'seems more likely' is meaningless, when you're searching for the exact truth.
    You could say that, sure, but you'd be wrong. The "exact truth" is inaccessible, and it is something that religious people would like to approach, though they know they can not attain it. This is simply the case, and you'd be hard pressed to find any reasonable religious person who thought otherwise (that is, any religious people you find who do claim otherwise would likely be fools even if they were atheists). The general inscrutability of God is of central importance to numerous religious systems, and this fact is a very public one. Note that this is mostly true in western systems, whereas eastern systems place considerable emphasis on "exact truth" being the end of the line, as it were.

    I guess I'm still having trouble understanding why many atheists, who clearly and rightly put such a high premium on reason and intellectual honesty, resort to the nonsensical idea that a lack of perfect certainty about something means we should just throw up our hands and forget about it, or to the notion that any systems of thought containing inscrutable factors are de facto of precisely the same irrelevance, no matter how variously substantial those inscrutable factors are.

    This makes me remember an old question I once asked a christian(though he wasn't a catholic, in fact he despised catholics): What happens to those who never came/come into contact with christianity, if christianity is true? The Aztecs for example, or the ancient Egyptians?
    They are judged by "the law written in their hearts." If they have lived lives striving towards righteousness, though they knew not what to call it, then they, too, can fall under the salvific umbrella. Check out Romans 2:11-16.

    Quote from someguy25 »
    it isn't true, infact, Crucifixion was the main way to kill prisoners of the time, it would be a common as lethal injection is now(not that I mean it happens all the time, but it is the preffered method of the death centence)

    Again, while it was very popular, it was not "common" in the way that lethal injection would be.

    Quote from GMontag »
    This is another part of the whole thing that makes no sense to me. How could Jesus, a supposedly sinless human being, dying "cleanse" humanity of sin? How is that in any way just? If a friend of mine raped a 10 year old girl and I decided to take the fall for him as an act of kindness, is that justice? Or is it rather a tragic farce of justice?

    How is it any more just to punish him, though? What does the punishment, qua itself, actually do to make the situation better?

    Quote from erimir »
    What I've always wondered, and never seen a good answer for, is why, if God's intention is to atone for our sins for us, he can't you know... simply make them be atoned.

    Why should he?

    If his goal is to "save" all humans, I see no necessity of a sacrifice. I see no necessity for God to do anything except to simply forgive them all. I also see no reason why one should have to believe in God (for anyone reading this who thinks so) or anything like that. God is perfectly capable of bypassing the entire Christian religion - there is nothing necessary about it.
    If the goal were for him to "save" all humans, it seems doubtful that he would have gone to the trouble of seperating us from himself, putting us in our own world, giving us the chance to choose something other than his ways, etc. etc. If the goal were as you say it is, it seems doubtful that he would have even created us in the first place. Certainly he would not have thrown in this messy, troublemaking free will.

    If the goal were for us to save ourselves, well... that's another thing entirely. That's the one thing he can't do for us, though he can make it possible by bridging the bottomless gulf between the Human and the Divine with the incarnation. It's like, we are "saved" by God in that he pulls us out of the water and onto the boat, but the sea is choppy and we still have to make it to the shore. And thus: paddling, and lots of it, in a bitter and unrelenting gale.

    Personally, to me it seems unnecessary convoluted and incredible ("incredible" here meaning "so implausible as to elicit disbelief").
    Perhaps the bewildering and uncomfortable difficulty of living up to his expecations is meant to encourage us to be merciful to others.
    Posted in: Philosophy
  • posted a message on Discrimination against...atheists?
    Note: I have not forgotten this thread, and will be replying once I get the paper and the seminar I have to do this week out of the way.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on A question of literary reality
    Note: I have not forgotten this thread, and will be replying once I get the paper and the seminar I have to do this week out of the way.
    Posted in: Philosophy
  • posted a message on Jesus' Sacrifice, What's the Big Deal?
    Note: I have not forgotten this thread, and will be replying once I get the paper and the seminar I have to do this week out of the way.
    Posted in: Philosophy
  • posted a message on A question of literary reality
    Some of you may have seen this before if you read a certain blog, but I'd be interested in getting some feedback about it. I myself found it on another message board, and it struck me as being quite an interesting question once one fleshes it all out.


    Statement: Sherlock Holmes lived at 221B Baker St.
    Is the above statement true, false, irrelevant or other?

    Please provide your answer and a brief explanation of why you feel that way. If your answer is "other," clearly you should describe what alternative you have in mind.
    Posted in: Philosophy
  • posted a message on Discrimination against...atheists?
    Quote from Mad Mat
    When I said about him, I also meant that I read one book and started in a second. That's mainly the source for my opinion about him.

    Very well. I beg your pardon, then.

    I don't really think Dawkins and kin are the cause of atheist-hate.
    Oh, come on. Of course they cause it. They are not the only cause of it, but cause it they assuredly do. Increasingly, shamefully, and pointlessly.

    Do people come down on fundamentalists because there's something hateful in non-fundamentalism? Or do they do it rather because of, say, people like Fred Phelps and Ralph Ovadal?

    They may cause agressive answers to their statements, but the majority is simply incited by religion itself, which is intolerant of atheism, as written in the bible.
    Quantify "the majority." Do it.

    Most don't even know Dawkins. Or is he really such a celebrity over there? I've seen him once on TV, and that was on a Dutch channel in a very late documentary.
    His book is a best-seller both in his home country and in North America. He is surprisingly omnipresent for a man with such a limited and witless scope.

    You can't compare it to a science school.
    I am not comparing it to a science school. "Science school" is just a helpful fiction. I am comparing it to "ideological/methodological school X," where that idea or that method could be whatever you like. The fact remains that to see it hollowed out it is a disgrace, not a virtue, whether you agree with what is being taught there or not. We do not need a world of limp-wristed, half-hearted people who lack convictions. We do not need our children being raised and taught in such environments. What we need - desperately need - is for a sense of passionate care to be instilled in the rising generation for whatever subjects or trades in which they receive instruction. You don't get that from people who don't believe in what they're doing. You just can't.

    Even in the past the most important courses were languages and maths, not religion. My catholic school is and was no religious academy. It was a school, founded by catholics and perhaps funded(I don't know). Religion was taught there, unlike state schools, and they were very strict and expensive, so for the elite, the rich. But the religion thing has weakened, the strictness too and with the School Pact of the 50's the expenses did too.
    That's fine, anecdotally, but we're dealing with a larger picture here.

    Religion lessons usually are inaccurate and editorial.
    When they're being entrusted to people with varying (or non-existent) religious convictions, this is not surprising in the least. People complain about the overbearing authority inherent in a rigorous magisterium, but it's nothing if not helpful as an establishment of curriculum.

    In fact, I think they've always been here. Memorizing the catechismus out of your head was mainly what religion class was about in the past, now it's philosophy, sociology and sometimes ethics.
    That's good, though. Philosophy, sociology and ethics are of prime importance to religion, and any school that's not teaching those things - in fact, that's not focusing on those things consistantly - is in serious trouble.

    Truth is: most don't care. It's an unimportant class.
    But that, however, is not good. In fact, it's terrible.

    I do think you'll agree that knowing what i and e are, who Shakespeare and Brandt are and what happened in Jalta is more important than being able to instantly answer the question "Why do I belief in god?" with the right punctuation marks.
    I do not agree, at least in principle. What "i" and "e" are is an interesting but largely trivial matter beyond knowing how to use them to spell words. I can think of a dozen authors, theorists and philosophers that one should be taught about ahead of or even instead of Shakespeare, all of them expressly religious. What happened in Jalta is a matter of near-irrelevance as compared to the history of the world's religions. It is a mote of dust on the tapestry of man.

    A Catholic school is welcome (and encouraged, and ought) to teach all of these things and more - and the best Catholic schools do - but not before or above Catholicism, or detached from a sincere Catholic perspective.

    That may be, but he usually does have a point.
    That's irrelevant, though. The ends do not justify the means. If I "have a point" in a debate, but I got there by insulting and demeaning you, by misrepresenting your positions and being selective in information, by being brash and dismissive and disdainful of counter-argument, I have not really won. My conclusions could be wholly correct, but if they are arrived at poorly they are at best suspicious and at worst meaningless. This isn't just a matter of rhetoric; this is a substantial part of science.

    Sure, he makes fun out of religion and offends a lot of gods, people, etc, but if you leave out the rhetoric and the name-calling, I really do feel he's right about a lot of stuff.
    So what? How does Richard Dawkins massaging your intuitive sense of what's "right" make it alright for him to carry on in the way he does?

    Anyway, I am not going to "leave out" the insults, the rhetoric, and the name-calling. It's a type of special pleading, and no one should stand for it. You'd never let a Christian get away with it, so don't expect similar treatment.

    And for reference: I'm namely talking about God the Delusion. Haven't read the others. His description of the OT god makes sense if you read a couple of passages. His analysis of ID arguments is also correct, from what I've seen. His statistic argument is rather rhetorical, though. And so on.
    His description of the OT god "makes sense" if you only read those couple of passages and Prof. Dawkins' book. There's this whole two-thousand year civilization's worth of commentary and philosophy that he is actually proud of ignoring in coming to his conclusions. You can do better than that, Mat.

    And, to repeat myself, he can never be "right." He may be correct in any number of conclusions he arrives at, but his methods categorically prevent "rightness." Consider the video at the heart of this. The conclusions, "people need to stop crying wolf; much of this hatred is exaggerated; militant atheists sometimes bring it on themselves" are all substantially correct, but they are arrived at so poorly, and with such scorn and malice, that one simply can not take them at face value.

    I still fail to see how you can compare Dawkins to die-hard evangelists. Unlike those, Dawkins does use logical arguments and doesn't need to base his views on one single book. But then again, I'm in Dawkins's camp so to speak, so I'm certainly biased.
    Again, it's not an issue of the actual position being taken or the conclusions being arrived at. It's a question of approach. Neither the "die-hard evangelists" nor Prof. Dawkins have a good approach to this. What they do have is an angry and entertaining approach to this, and, no matter what damage this does to the debate itself (which is of crucial importance), such people will be promoted and featured by the media because they draw in viewers much as a car accident does.

    This is not something the world needs.

    Quote from Tanthalas »
    The "Dawkins vs religion" issue seems to have gotten worse over time. At first, he was fairly sensible about it all whilst still being anti-religion. Then some inflammatory responses 'forced' him to reply in kind, producing worse criticisms of him, producing more petulant responses... it's all quite childish, really.

    Yes, it's a crying shame. It's the cycle I was describing above. Atheists don't have to be "below" putting an end to it, though. There's nothing stopping them from taking the intellectual and ethical high ground they say they occupy.

    And yet, Prof. Dawkins' book sells millions of copies.

    Quote from Sibtiger »
    What does that have to do with... well, anything? Is every atheist suddenly represented by two outspoken individuals, when there is absolutely no orthodoxy or dogma for those who are atheists?

    Of course not. That's the whole problem.

    The media treats this issue - which is as old as Man and larger than any pissant entertainment industry - as if it really can be adequately discussed by intransigent talking heads. They do this because - apparently - there is some strain of public opinion that makes such things popular even as they are disastrous. It's like watching a wrestling match. The only problem is that it's not being faked, and they're meddling with something exponentially more important to people than large men in colourful outfits.

    The reason I am "blaming" this on the likes of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins is because they are the opposite side of the coin that the media feels the "need" to profitably balance out. Of course it's actually the media's fault, but the people in question - on both sides - are also responsible for enabling it. Prof. Dawkins could be using his not inconsiderable position - a chair at Oxford and a respected author! - to offer up mature, measured and above-all objective criticisms of religion; heaven knows they can be made easily enough. He could be engaging in the sort of debate that would be recalled with fondness years hence; the sort of debate that enriches both sides even as it challenges them. But he doesn't do this. He instead chooses to be a petulant douchebag.

    Two atheists could have less in common with their belief structure than a Catholic and a Baptist. What connection do these people being discriminated against have with Dawkins? Almost certainly none.
    I am not blaming these peoples' discrimination on Richard Dawkins. Their discrimination is another matter altogether, and needs to be addressed by someone other than pundits and ideologues. I am blaming the presence on national television of the two miserable women in the second video on the presence on national television of the likes of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. I am implicating Tweedle-Dee in the sudden appearance of Tweedle-Dum.

    That is what I am doing.

    Remember- if atheists are such a small minority as the report said, how could that much money be made off these people's work? Clearly there are not just atheists buying them.
    Oh, clearly. There are people who don't care about religion all that much, but who buy them because it's popular, or because they just find their curiosity piqued. There are religious people buying them so that they can be informed about something that their opponents will cite. There are literary types buying it to find out what all the fuss is about. There are students of evolutionary science buying it just because Prof. Dawkins wrote it. It goes on and on.

    However, I think it would be foolish to suggest that chief consumer base for this book is anything other than atheists.

    And atheists are not such a small minority as the report said. Their number is growing all the time, and they also exist in significant quantities under the umbrella of the nominally religious.

    A relatively WASPish majority, many catholic high schools (I think there are as many, or even more catholic schools than public high schools in my area) and a Mennonite community that has an indirect, though noticeable, affect on the local culture.
    Thanks. I live there myself, as you can see, but I had never thought of describing it thus. Is this a provincially-held conception? Or is it something of your own coinage? This is a genuine question.

    Are you justifying it?
    Not in the least. I am simply describing it.

    I had hoped that the fact that I disapprove of it entirely would have been clear from how I described it as "increasing, shameful and pointless."

    If I were to spew hateful words against all of Christianity, would it be okay if I was spurred to it by Fred Phelps?
    No, of course it wouldn't. What it would be, however, is wholly understandable.

    All Christians are not like Phelps. All atheists are not like Dawkins (In fact, I've never heard of him until recently, through another discussion on this subject.)
    This is precisely why the media's tendency to cover this issue as if these people really do speak for someone other than themselves is problematic in the extreme. This is why I am, in fact, against the whole thing, as I hope I have made clear.

    Where did Dawkins come from anyways? As I said, what does he have to do with this?
    See the above portions of this post. I beg your pardon for not having been as expansive at first as I perhaps ought to have been.

    Quote from Bogardan Mage »
    Hey, here it comes up so infrequently that I have no idea of the religious views of some of my closest friends. Nor they mine. It's great!

    Why is it "great," though? Why is it great to be wholly ignorant of the deepest beliefs of those closest to you?

    Quote from Dre2Dee2 »
    All in all, I do believe atheists are discriminated against by the extremely religious. I have had no such problems in NJ becuase people don't care, which is how it should be. Nor do I think that most religious people even have a problem with atheist, or agnostics or diests. Unfortuantely some people believe that their religion is the final say on what is right and wrong. Since an atheist doesn't have a "god" to tell them right from wrong, they must be really crazy and evil.

    It is worth noting here that many religious people do believe "that their religion is the final say on what is right and wrong," but nevertheless do not go out of their way to come down upon atheists. Some systems of religious thought are better than others :/

    And, I have to say, I really love your username if it means what I think it means.

    Quote from glurman »
    I... I couldn't watch all of it. That is so pathetic, people leaning on religion like a crutch will all of their weight. That is all religion is anyhow, a crutch for those who don't want to try and understand.

    And atheism is just a crutch for those who want to be rebels Rolleyes

    Way to take the high road there, chief. Way to really teach them a lesson.

    Originally people needed some sort of solace, as we are the only creatures on the planet (supposedly) who are aware of our own death. So why not go to heaven? If you are a good person (bonus points! Get a good moral structure in there as well!) you will live on for eternity, etc.
    It might be worth noting that the earliest religions did not typically hold these beliefs in any recognizable way. One does not get the idea of a real "Heaven" in the Abrahamic tradition (for example) until Christ, and at that it is mentioned almost as an afterthought to the far more desirable destiny of being able to do what God wants us to do without disappointing him. The idea of an abode of eternal reward is strangely distant in early Jewish thought, wherein "Heaven," insofar as it is mentioned at all, is simply where God lives, while Hell, though only lightly sketched, had greater sway in the form of Sheol than it did as what we think of it as today. The great patriarchs and heroes of the Old Testament are never described as living their lives out of some reward expectation - in fact, the idea is barely, if ever, mentioned. Far greater emphasis is placed on the desirability of doing the good and righteous thing for its own sake; that is, for the honor of the thing.

    The vague undesirability or unremarkability of any afterlife for the Hellenistic pagans is also worth noting. The only good destination for the departed was reserved not for people who did good things, but for people who did sensational and heroically good things beyond the ken of mortal man. One did not arrive in the Elysian Fields for simply living a blameless life. More often the afterlife, if not simply spent in the misery of Tartarus, would be spent in Asphodel Meadows, a place of no special character and incredible boredom. And, of course, that's not even taking into account the presence of Lethe, whereby the distinctive elements of the personality and the self are scrubbed away.

    Eastern conceptions of "heaven" describe it as a temporary state, as all things are, on the road to a final enlightenment, like bodhi or moksha - states of affairs that could be described almost as a that of oblivion. That is, they are not concerned with the eternal maintenance of the self, but rather with the self's eventual and sought-after dissolution.

    It is not so clear-cut as you would have it be.

    People cannot possibly comprehend what actually happens when you die. It is an impossibility. I have laid awake at night, trying to think of complete and utter non-existence. It is truly the most frightening thing imaginable.
    Perhaps if you stopped lying awake at night you might get some sleep and thereby experience what non-consciousness is like. Teach

    Quote from extremestan »
    Yes, I agree completely. Religious people don't want to "try and understand." I'm particularly guilty of never thinking about things critically. The faculty of reason is anathema, and is explicitly condemned by my Church rather than praised by it, so you'll never find me guilty of such an abomination of the mind. It is good to be a complacent social puppet who fails to even attempt critical thought.

    lol fool it's just reverse psychology. by standing so firmly in favour of reason, your church is actually driving you away from it, just like they drive people away from chastity and whatnot by being too strict about it
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Is there such a thing as an a capella-izer?
    I don't know the answer myself, but if anybody did, it would be the various mash-up artists who have so enriched our musical world. Try e-mailing some of them; they could be able to help.
    Posted in: Entertainment Archive
  • posted a message on Discrimination against...atheists?
    Quote from Mad Mat
    I've read some stuff about Dawkins, and even though he does use rhetoric at times, he also brings up quite good points, especially when it comes to creationists. So I don't think you can compare him to those guys from the movie.

    Oh, I most certainly can. Whatever his points may be, they are drowned in the sort of spiteful nonsense that I'd expect to see from a disenchanted high school student, perhaps, not from a professor at motherloving Oxford. Don't just read about him, Mat. Read him. He's not a considerate man.

    Until someone votes with their dollars for the proposition, "jerkish blowhards don't do this debate justice," those blowhards will keep being enthroned by the media, much to the bewildered consternation of all. If atheists want more aggressively-spoken representatives delivering their views in public (as they apparently do, given Mr. Harris' and Prof. Dawkins' book sales), they're going to have to learn to deal with equally aggressive people on the other side. It's what you get for sticking your neck out, and the value of it is appallingly low.

    Well, there's a bit of a difference considering our school system. Here, there are two official types of schools: the state schools and the 'free' catholic schools. Both are funded by the government, after there were some fights about it in the past. Just in general the catholic schools have a higher status and have better infrastructure, and religion is a course you'll always have, even though it's, depending on the teacher, more philosophy and sociology.

    Long ago, the catholic schools were in fact catholic with the catechismus and forced masses and all. But I haven't been to a mass for more than 6 years and I have only once touched a catechismus, when my teacher showed it as a relic.
    But why, as I said, is this a good thing? Extend the metaphor. Long ago, your science academies really were scientific, with the peer reviews and experimentation and all. But they haven't tested an hypothesis for more than six years, and the last time you even saw lab equipment was when your teacher brought it out for nostalgia's sake.

    Is this something you would be proud of?

    The point I wanted to make is that Belgium, for one, has extremely dereligionized when compared to the US. The only political party (worth mentioning) that can be called religious is the CD&V(the christians, former catholics) and I've never heard one of them (recently) yell out at atheism or preach about god and the bible. You could even say the extreme rightists(Vlaams Belang) are more catholic than the 'catholics'.
    Oh, that's certainly true, and I agree with you. The religious atmosphere in Europe at the moment is much more liberal than that of the United States. Whether this is a good thing or not in the long run remains to be seen, but for now it is simply the case.

    And you really can't compare my teachers to flat-earthers or creationists: it's not like they're praising atheism or bashing religion all the time. They rarely even talk about it, unless they're religion teachers or the occasional talk during an other class.
    Is there not some danger in having teachers teaching something they don't believe? What assurances do you have that the lessons will be accurate and non-editorial? It's nice to think that people are all good at heart and will do a good job even if they themselves think it's all silly, but the world simply doesn't work like that. Would you be happy to let a flat-earther teach your child science - the science that you, specifically, sent him to that school to learn - even if that flat-earther swore up and down that he was doing it according to orthodox principles? How could you know?

    Well, I suppose atheists hiding it can be understood, if Dawkins tells the truth about the general opinion of atheists in the US. I suppose you're not a Dawkins-fan, but this movie does support his point.
    Prof. Dawkins' (and others like him) comments about religion and religious people do more to foster the bad feeling against atheism that he decries than anything else in play. It's like:

    "The Cubans are prejudiced against us Dominicans. In addition, the Cubans are smelly and dumb, and we clever Dominicans know that this is true even if those ignorant Cubans refuse to see it. Also, the Cubans are generally destroying the world; the ones who aren't actively destroying the world are just as bad because they have the same national name as those who do, and the ones who are actually actively helping the world in the name of Cuba can't really be called Cubans in the strictest sense, and are probably actually motivated by something else."

    Is this likely to make anything better? Is it even reasonable to begin with? This is Prof. Dawkins' stock in trade. This is what you saw in that video, too.

    It's monstrous and it needs to stop.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Jesus' Sacrifice, What's the Big Deal?
    Quote from BenGreen
    Let's imagine that you're given 100% certainty beyond anything attained by faith alone that God exists as per the New Testament and that if you (playing the role of Jesus in this hypothetical scenario) agree to endure three or four days of the most horrific torture and humiliation imaginable, you will afterward spend the rest of eternity in Heaven at the right hand of God.

    Upon reflecting on the duration of eternity, and how amazing it will most certainly be in Heaven, and how much more amazing it will be to sit in close proximity to God himself, who would turn this offer down?

    If God exists exactly as described by the New Testament, then this is not even close to being what happened and the question becomes pointless. The New Testament gives us many ideas about God and Jesus, but nowhere among them is the idea that Jesus - second person of the trinity - had to be "bribed" into doing what he did, much less be told to do it by someone else - not least because that someone else was himself (more on this below).

    However, taking your challenge at its inaccurate word, there are nevertheless some things to consider.

    First, on a purely narrative level, the idea of the crucifixion is not so much for the benefit of God as it is for the beneft of Man. In subjecting the most honorable man in existence to the most shameful of degradations possible (for the world was an agonistic one, and crucifixion was as low as you could get), the race of man finally got to kill the God they hated so. Three days later they discovered to their delighted horror that the thing couldn't be done, and the rest, as we have seen, followed.

    Next, it is worth noting that the seeming insignificance of three days compared to eternity is exactly what makes it potent. Jesus very much lived his life as a sort of template for his followers and their students to emulate. It is not for nothing that his sermons are laced with sentiments to the effect of "do as I have done" and "do this in remembrance of me." With regard to his crucifixion, then, we may see a parallel in his temptation. Asking the question, "could Satan have actually succeeded in tempting Jesus," the answer is simply "no." What, then, was the point? To demonstrate the futile irrelevancy of Satan to the Christ-like human. What, then, was the point of the three days in Hell? To demonstrate the futile irrelevancy of death to those who would embrace the life everlasting. That "so what" factor is actually essential rather than some sort of absent-minded flaw.

    That the Christ himself did this is doubly impressive because it is not typically God's business to go about humbling himself. If I may say so without seeming flippant (for the circumstances are different), we may compare it to Henry II's ragged pilgrimage and flogging in atonement for the death of Becket.

    So, three things, then:
    1. Demonstrates the futility of death for the righteous
    2. Demonstrates the futility of man's railing against his God
    3. Instance of God doing something unprecedented and neat

    Anyone, and I mean anyone, would start flaying themselves, driving splintering staked through their own forearms, diving into whole robes of thorns with razor wire undergarments in anticipation. Talk about putting the "fun" back in "excruciating pain!"
    You know, you can say that with great comfort in the modern west, where capitalism and individualism have set us on guard for always getting "the best deal" when we can. In the Ancient Near East, however, a land whose customs are divorced from our own by considerable degrees, it is not likely that many people at all would have taken this deal.

    (Here I am discussing the real world, not the weird fictional world you were relying on to make your point)

    For the Jews, there would be a number of things against the proposition. First among them was the fact that this Jesus was a recognized heretic - likely, in fact, a demoniac. His claims could not be trusted, and his miracles (which contemporary Jewish sources did not dispute, intriguingly) were the result of dark powers rather than divine might. Even if it were not Jesus himself, but rather God, delivering this information to a given Jew by way of a dream, sign, or some other revelation, there's no reason to think that the man in question would have trusted this information. The great romance of the tribes of Israel is studded with countless instances of God's chosen people being lured away by false promises, easier gods and "get [endowed in some way] quick" schemes. Impatience was a frequent problem, and one that the Jewish people had long ago and with perfect rectitude come to suspect.

    An observant Jew would quickly note that he could be quite well assured of being eventually "clasped to the bosom of Abraham" by simply upholding the Law as he had been doing rather than taking a faster but exceedingly more painful route. Quite apart even from the pain was the question of personal honor, which was of monumental significance in the Ancient Near East (it being an agonistic culture). Whatever one's internal state of righteousness, to die in the same fashion as a slave or thief would have a very real impact upon their righteousness as a whole. The Jewish worldview did not place the same emphasis on internal purity that the later Christian one would, and external factors, even those beyond your control, played an important part.

    What would a devout Jew have to gain from such action that he could not already achieve through a life of careful observance?

    As for gentiles, there are some similar questions. The same suspicion fell upon Jesus and his ideas, if for more varied reasons than rabbinic opinion, and in fact the ultimately Jewish provenance of his message was itself a source of concern for the more generally pagan world. The same agonistic concerns also applied; crucifixion was a Roman punishment, and its meaning was utterly clear. Finally, much as with the Jews, what incentive would there be for the gentile to forego the reward offered by careful adherence to his own system in favour of what you have rightly called "excruciating pain" at the behest of a god you don't recognize, and who could (for such were the pagan gods) simply be one of your own playing a trick on you?

    So my question is, so what's the big deal with Jesus sacrifice? It doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice with a payoff like that. I mean really, this makes trading a pubic hair for all the wealth and power in the world look like a rip-off.
    In addition to what I've already said, it makes this exquisite trade-off an attainable reality for the average person. I think that's pretty good.

    And why should we be impressed that God gave his only begotten son in this way? It seems to me like He just lent him to us for a couple decades so we could torture him to death. Then God gets his boy back, as good as new (or better now that he's got tons of followers and has removed the sins of the world).
    Though you are being needlessly vulgar (this particular thread runs through your post in general), you seem to have answered your own question, more or less, with your final parenthetical comment.

    Now, moving on to other considerations:

    Quote from Einsteinmonkey »

    Framing the issue like that sure makes it sound laughable, but it remains inaccurate. God is not sacrificing himself to anything, least of all himself. What's more, he's not changing any rules beyond the unspoken one that God can not be humbled.

    What the crucifixion does is pay a debt that humans can not pay on their own. It takes care of the insult to divine honor that sin constitutes (which insult can not be atoned-for in a non-divine way, unfortunately), and frees up the average person to atone for the substantive rather than the abstract.

    Quote from JCricket »
    Not only do we not know whether anything we do in this life will result in an eternity in Heaven, we also don't know whether any particular promise of salvation is deceitful. It could be that Satan or whatever evil anti-deity of your choice has created your entire religion to lure you away from the true and correct religion that could bring you real salvation.

    Quite so, but this is not within the bounds of the question this thread is asking. Certainty is presupposed by the original post. Mondu's point is worth considering within those bounds, even if it is ultimately dismissed.

    Now at first glance, you might consider this an implausible proposition, but this is exactly what is taught by fundamentalist sects of Christianity and Islam about other religions. Are you prepared to say that those others are wrong and that you are right? That the group to which you belong is inherently more attuned to metaphysical mysteries than any other?
    Why shouldn't he, if he believes them to be wrong?

    Also, why are you insisting he assume a fundamentalist mindset? Is he a fundamentalist? Ought he to be?

    Furthermore, if you believe in a God who is "good" by any traditional definition, then it is likely that you also believe this God values the concepts of truth and honesty. Latching on to the first religion you find and proclaiming it to be the truth because you want the reward of salvation it has promised you is a far less honest practice than recognizing:
    Again, this is quite a noble sentiment, but it is not applicable to the circumstances provided by the original post. I repeat, certainty is presupposed in this case.


    -that there are many different metaphysical beliefs in this world
    Multiplicity of potential is meaningless to truth.

    -that simply because a belief is the one that you already hold, that doesn't necessarily make it any more likely to be correct than the beliefs that others hold
    You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who argues this. Why bother refuting it?

    -that you alone do not possess the faculties to distinguish truth or falsehood from among these countless beliefs, and that only arrogance would lead you to conclude that your own ability to perceive metaphysical truths exceeds that of others
    This is needlessly inflammatory. To say that not he alone possesses the faculties to distinguish truth and falsehood is true; the practical upshot of your sentiments here, though, is the implicit accusation that he doesn't possess those faculties at all. Otherwise, why criticize his choice?

    Furthermore, it is not "only arrogance" that could lead one to suspect the perceptiveness of others. Is it arrogance that makes one feel dubious about a flat-earther? Is it arrogance that makes us incredulous of the scientologist? Of the psychic healer?

    And, finally, I hope I don't need to point out that lambasting Mondu for what you seem to be suggesting is his certainty in his own creed (which he has nowhere stated, described, or attested to) seems to be a very real suggestion that his ability to perceive metaphysical truths is less than that of the party correcting him (in this case, you). Is that arrogant?

    -that emotional experiences can and do mislead many people into believing they have such a capacity, and that you are no less potentially susceptible to such than other people
    I have no objection to this statement beyond the same complaint before that it unfairly (implicitly) characterizes Mondu as being guilty of this.

    The honest thing to do is to admit that you simply don't know for sure which if any religion is true.
    This is the half-honest thing to do. The honest thing to do is to admit that you don't know for sure which if any religion is true, but that some seem more true than others; perhaps, with study, that "some" could be reduced to "one." That is honest, whatever you may think about it, and it is the province of more religious believers than you seem to give credit to.

    To put it plainly, it does not follow from an uncertainty about truth claims that all truth claims are equally valid.

    It is my opinion that anyone who fails to do this is either delusional or is stubbornly clinging to beliefs he knows may not be true, for fear that to do otherwise is to breach what is expected of him/her by that belief system.
    Your opinion is both uncharitable and unwise. I suggest you revise it, to better your life and that of those around you.

    I think you see where I'm going with this...magic beans might be awesome, but don't trade your cow for them.
    It's worth noting that in the narrative instance in which this did, in fact, happen, the magic beans really were magic and Jack's life was full of adventure and riches forever thereafter. Just saying is all.

    Quote from Dre2Dee2 »
    I guess the big deal that some christians believe is that Jesus' death keep a lot of people from automatically just going to Hell.

    No; very few Christians believe that. None, actually, beyond certain universalists who are so broad in their thinking that the label "Christian" is useless in describing them.

    His death supposedly made it possible for people to go to heaven again.
    That's a different idea than that of your first sentence, and is closer to being accurate. People could still "go to Heaven" before, remember; it was just different.

    Altough I have to admit, it's a pretty cliche ending. Jesus sacrifices himself, but he comes back to life again! Good guys win! Kinda corny don't you think? Wink
    Can we call something a cliche if it predates (or even begins) the cliche it is accused of being? Were Little Goody Two-Shoes or Lord Fauntleroy tropes even when they were new characters?

    In either case, I am not impressed by Jesus' supposed sacrifice.
    You have provided no reason why this is so. Would you care to elaborate?

    Quote from mondu_the_fat »
    Christianity is 100% correct. Call it Jack Chick universe if you will.

    The two are not equivalent :teach:.

    Quote from someguy25 »
    there is a problem with that. if they did that, they would go to hell anyways, seeing as greed is one of the seven deadly sins, and I certainly see that as beeing greedy.

    Would they? Is longing for perfect communion and submission to God an example of "greed?" Is it really sinful to want what God himself wants us to want?

    I hear this from aethiest all the time.."do you have proof god exist? well, hmmm?" and I respond like this..."do you have proof god doesn't exist?" and the answer is no, it comes down to faith, not fact. you should never assume something, as you end up making an ass of yourself.
    They don't have to have proof that God doesn't exist. It's up to Christians to furnish evidence for their claims, just as it's up to atheists to furnish evidence for theirs. In this case, however, simple negation is enough. An atheist need not declare, definitively, that no god exists for him to be an atheist. A Christian, by contrast, does need to positively affirm his worldview in order to practice it effectively.

    Also, the statement, "it comes down to faith, not fact," is incorrect. If God exists, it is a fact that he exists. If the promises of the Bible are correct, than certain concrete and abstract things will point to this truth, when properly appreciated. It's not a matter of simply deciding, one day, apropos of nothig, "well, I guess he exists." There will be circumstances, many of them tangible and quantifiable (many, admittedly, not) that will lead up to this decision.

    The New Testament conception of faith is predicated on evidence. It is not something that you just have for no reason. That would be sheer moonshine.

    Furthermore, I must say that the picture shown in post 2 is WAYYYY off from the christian religion.
    I suspect that your tenure as Offical Spokesman for the Monolithic Christian Religion will be short-lived Wink

    Jesus is not the same as god, just as the anti-christ is not the same as Satan. they are the "sons"( I use this term losely, as acording to the bible we are all the sons of god.) of those beings.
    This diverges from any but the most obscure or frankly heretical of conceptions. The position of Jesus Christ within the trinity - that is, the triune singularity that is the One God - is a pretty profound cornerstone of every mainstream Christian conception. The idea you propose is moreover the province of sects like the Gnostics or the Cathari.

    one other flawed thing, is that you think Jesus killed himself, well he didn't. if I remember correctly, the Jewish people wanted him crucified, as they seen him as a false prophet. Pontus Pilot, the Roman Leader of Jeruselem, did not want to Crucify Jesus, but also did not want a riot, so he condemned jesus to a crucifiction. Jesus just didn't "throw himself" onto the cross and "sling" a crown of thorns on his head.
    I do not think that BenGreen thinks what you think he thinks. He was using hyperbolic language to give spice to his proposition.

    now, this is where I answer your question.

    Did it ever occur to you that God sent his only son down to the people of earth to show that if you Believe in god, and ask for forgiveness for your sins, then you will go to heaven, and have eternal life.

    "For god so loved the world, he gave his only begotton son, and who soever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life"-Jon 3:16.
    This is a point worth making.

    Now, please don't confuse me with those christians who believe what they hear, and are so stubborn, that they won't listen to any body elses theorys, because as of right now, thats all it is is a theory, as is aethiesim.
    Is there not some strange tension between "not believing what you hear" and "being open to hearing other people's theories?"

    I also have different views on some things in the bible(such as no eating pork), but I believe that god does exist, and that Jesus died for a reason.
    Would you care to elaborate on these different views? I find these things interesting, and would like to hear what you think, if you have a spare moment.

    Quote from Gamerz »
    How many people are 'saved' merely because they don't want to go to hell? How is that any different from torturing oneself in order to live eternally?

    Well, if this salvation doesn't involve torturing oneself, I'd imagine the two propositions differ considerably.

    Quote from Frostshock! »
    Since I don't beleive in the supernatural, nor do I think that the Jesus of the bible was a real historical figure, my short answer is I don't think there is a big deal.

    Then what was the point of this post? It's like going into a "Colts v. Bears: Who will win the Superbowl?" thread and saying, "I don't watch football."

    Christianity has no more properly defined in intelligable terms what a "god" is nor have they shown any more than other religions, wether still in practice or not, that it's supernatural claims are any more a reality then it's enemies.
    Is it more or less likely that the Apostle Paul suddenly converted to Christianity after having a vision of Christ on the road to Damascus than that Athena sprang, fully-grown and armored, from the head of Zeus, it having just been cracked open like a coconut? Choose your answer carefully.

    As quant as it was to live in a world of manticores, where people turn to salt pillars, bears tear children apart at the commands of deities, angels massacre babies, and jealous omnipotent beings drown entire worlds was. We thankfully don't (mostly) live in a world where the boogie man is taken at face value.
    Yes, thank goodness we now instead live in a world of chimeras, superviruses and states of terror; where people turn into medicated drones or give themselves over to debauchery and excess; where doctors tear babies apart with the consent and endorsement of the state; where states massacre entire races; and where forward-thinking individuals exercise their right to self-determination by raping the unfortunate. We thankfully don't (mostly) live in a world where the idea of certain sins crying out to Heaven for vengeance no longer holds sway.

    Quote from GodoftheGrove »
    Because the premise of your post is wrong. Jesus didn't have a guarantee. He tought he would burn the rest of eternity in hell, but save all other people.

    Yeah, what Stan said.
    Posted in: Philosophy
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