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Author Topic: Religion and the Declaration of Morality  (Read 4066 times)

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Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #50 on: August 25, 2017, 07:34:38 AM »
I know that.  You know that.  But it's a bad assumption to think that everyone knows that.  I worked in a science laboratory where we grappled with chemistry and the inner workings of the universe all day when I was in college, but some of the graduate students I collaborated with hadn't a single clue what Occam's Razor was, or had the mis-understood version of "simplest explanation is usually right."  And these were not dumb people.  If they hadn't a correct understanding of it, what chance do you think the average American has?

To that I would say, regardless of the circumstances, it is still special pleading. We can't just change the rules of logic or rhetoric simply because some people suck at it. And yes, it is a truism that education does not necessarily guarantee that those individuals will be free of committing logical fallacies, particularly if they have no formal training in mathematical logic. But that shouldn't stop us from pointing it out when it occurs. They may be smart, but they are still wrong.

If the problem is merely ignorance of applicable logic, then it would only be a matter of training to correct their thinking processes. I find it more likely, though, that you probably ran into quite a few people who engaged in special pleading, moving goalposts, or outright red herrings.


Except.

1 - several cultures have flood narratives, and some of these are cultures that would have had no reasonable contact with the others.  The Greeks have the story of Deucalion; Hinduism has the story of Manu; the Norse story of Bergelmir; the Mayans have such a story; the Obijwa (a minor American Indian tribe); the Muisca (a Southern American people who lived in what is now Colombia); and if none of that matters, the Aborigines of Australia have one, too.

Yes, that's certainly true. But for the most part they are also very dissimilar to each other, both in their narratives and also in their literary and cultural contexts. When it comes to the Book of Genesis, the similarities with the Epic of Gilgamesh is so obvious that we can say that it probably acted as the source material for the first few chapters of the Bible. It's not particularly important if the Epic itself was derived from an earlier source.


But that is not to say that we can't argue that the current consensus has been improperly generated. And historians, especially historians in the field of Jesus study, do make assertions out of proportions to the evidence or simply cite the consensus without checking about how that consensus was actually generated.

Richard Carrier makes this argument in his book 'Proving History.' That book doesn't attempt to argue the historicity/mythicism debate, it merely lays the groundwork for demonstrating how the consensus is logically fallacious and not based on a sound historical methodology.

+1

Said much better than I could have put it.

Overall though, I do think that this reinforces my earlier point about the inherent problems of ascribing historicity to any religious or mythological text (the Bible is only the most egregious instance of this). The narratives all tend to be contradictory, for one. Another thing, why do we even need to assume that the Bible actually describes historic events? Nobody thinks the Greek or Roman mythologies have any historicity whatsoever, so what makes the Bible special in this regard?
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 08:31:14 AM by Trevino »

Offline Serephino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #51 on: August 25, 2017, 09:58:25 AM »
The way I've perceived things is this; many times when a person holds a strong belief and say it is rooted in their faith, they are talking out of their ass.  The truth of the matter is the belief is theirs, but they cherry pick from their faith to justify it.  Because if they can convince themselves that God is on their side, well, then who is anyone to challenge them?  You can see it all in history.  If I remember correctly, Pope Urban II started the crusades, because, well, God.  And then everyone went along with him, because, well, God.  Before the Age of Enlightenment if you claimed your orders came from God all argument stopped, and it seems very religious people want that to still be true.  It's very annoying and frustrating.

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #52 on: August 25, 2017, 12:32:00 PM »
The way I've perceived things is this; many times when a person holds a strong belief and say it is rooted in their faith, they are talking out of their ass.  The truth of the matter is the belief is theirs, but they cherry pick from their faith to justify it.  Because if they can convince themselves that God is on their side, well, then who is anyone to challenge them?  You can see it all in history.  If I remember correctly, Pope Urban II started the crusades, because, well, God.  And then everyone went along with him, because, well, God.  Before the Age of Enlightenment if you claimed your orders came from God all argument stopped, and it seems very religious people want that to still be true.  It's very annoying and frustrating.


I think a great deal more people wish it were true than just the orthodox religious guys. One of the defining characteristics of the Abrahamic religions is the conceit that, by subscribing to that group, you are therefore inherently superior to all other nonbelievers (i.e. those who would be classed as Heathens, blasphemers, etc.). At least the orthodox people will be honest about their beliefs, however repugnant they may be for the populace at large.

You don't get that vibe from, say, certain sects of Buddhism or the various polytheistic religions from antiquity (the Greeks, Romans, or the Celts). For the ancient Greeks in particular, religion was just simply a take it or leave it affair, and their mythologies did not even bother to try to impart moral wisdom to its believers (maybe except for the warning against hubris).
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 12:35:48 PM by Trevino »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #53 on: August 30, 2017, 09:03:20 PM »
Sorry.  Sometimes I try and be clever and I end up losing the point I was trying to make initially.  To try and explain.  The corollary is not inapplicable to the situation; the medical analogy I was going for basically states an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.  To adapt it for this particular situation - it's better to, if you can, deny the use of counter-arguments to your opposition than to have an argument that will counter theirs.

Two people, X and Y, are having a debate.  Which is the more efficient, easier method?

X makes an argument to which Y has no counter-argument - OR - X makes an argument, Y makes a counter-argument against X, X makes a counter-counter-argument against Y.

We cannot account for every argument made or that could potentially be made against good sense. That said, yes, it's best to steer them away from being able to make other arguments. However, the emotional side of the debate is never given to debating by means of rigid rules and strict guidelines that provide technical victories rather than actually influencing the minds of those to whom they speak or whom might be listening. Yes, it's a good idea to be sure we curb as many dumb conversations as possible. However, being too semantic will only alienate both opposition and ally, setting work back significantly on any progress we hope to have earned.

I agree that it would be convenient to be able to shut up their stupid (read: unreasonable) arguments prior to their ability to voice them, but I'm utterly convinced that even arguing in the manner that you specify would require a LOT of research for conversations that usually happen on the fly, and would only provoke stupider, more egregious arguments against which there is no sane defense. As such, I'm not sure why you insisted the rest of us jumped through all those hoops to try to figure out what you were talking about.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sources_for_the_historicity_of_Jesus

Check those.  Also, who is your source - the papal physicist?  I won't make any further judgments, but I don't want someone whose specialty is physics telling me either religion or history, or both.  As for the statement, as best as I can make of it - the guy from the Vatican is basically saying that there's no evidence Jesus was who modernity makes him out to be - IE, Son of God, crucified on the cross, resurrected, etc.  That is a different question - whether or not the Gospels support the historical Jesus, not if Jesus actually existed.

The papal physicist is named  Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, the Director of the Vatican Observatory. The Vatican actually employs a great number of scientists, and has for quite a while. My first introduction to the idea was on Startalk, an episode about the Star of Bethlehem. While I cannot link you to the podcast itself, this article may help to give a rundown of it. If you happen to have the means to find StarTalk available to you, I highly suggest it. It's a wide range of topics that can sublimate an interesting education.

While I agree that there is something of a skepticism to listening to the Vatican on the topic of anything scientific, let us not forget that many of the most influential members of the physics, astrophysics, mathematics and biology worlds were in some way working with the church, despite the whole excommunication threat. It was simply a way of life, then.

Except.

1 - several cultures have flood narratives, and some of these are cultures that would have had no reasonable contact with the others.  The Greeks have the story of Deucalion; Hinduism has the story of Manu; the Norse story of Bergelmir; the Mayans have such a story; the Obijwa (a minor American Indian tribe); the Muisca (a Southern American people who lived in what is now Colombia); and if none of that matters, the Aborigines of Australia have one, too.

2 - The Epic of Gilgamesh is usually considered the earliest known work of literature.  But, there is strong evidence to indicate that the flood story presented in Gilgamesh was actually taken from another story, the Epic of Atrahasis.  Stories about Gilgamesh were told as early as 2100 BC, during the 3rd Dynasty of Ur.  The earliest versions that we have of the Epic date from somewhere between 2000 to 1500 BC, but these are fragmentary at best and don't tell the whole story.  The 'standard' version of the Epic of Gilgamesh we have in modernity dates from around 1300-1000 BC.  In contrast, the Epic of Atrahasis is firmly dated as being during the reign of the great-grandson of Hammurabi, a time frame of the 1600s BC.

To try and use an analogy - are you familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos?

Flood narratives existing, even on a large, claimed-worldwide scale, isn't evidence of anything except that people feared floods. These people also generally had deities of thunderstorms, drought, war, famine, death, magic and fire. It does not in any way support the concept of retelling the tale of the biblical Moses under different guises, nor does it support the idea that this biblical account might have (or could have) reached all of these communities. Instead, I would probably liken it to the common dream of falling and waking upon impact with whatever surface one was sleeping on - that is to say, one's mind preying on a fear that is innately held in humanity. People feared natural disasters and would of course see them as a warning from the powers purported to control weather events in the whole of the world.

(Also, I resent the Ojibwa being referred to as a "minor" anything, subjective accuracy or not.)

I was unaware of Ur, Atrahasis, or Hammurabi, it seems my education has some gaps. I'm still loath to agree on Gilgamesh being taken FROM anything (there's a problem I'm having here with "it predates the other" being equated to "it came from the other". I'm older, for instance, than all of my siblings...), but I'll admit it's a possibility and I didn't know there was anything that would be counted as possibly being before that.

I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar much with Cthulhu. That's the dude with a squid-monster face, right? Some sort of nautical figure with a squid for a head, usually dressed in seafaring garb?



Said much better than I could have put it.

Overall though, I do think that this reinforces my earlier point about the inherent problems of ascribing historicity to any religious or mythological text (the Bible is only the most egregious instance of this). The narratives all tend to be contradictory, for one. Another thing, why do we even need to assume that the Bible actually describes historic events? Nobody thinks the Greek or Roman mythologies have any historicity whatsoever, so what makes the Bible special in this regard?

Two things on this: Firstly, the consensus is, yes, sometimes unreliable, but we have a problem here. We have a stake in consensus, as well. We claim consensus in all kinds of things from evolution to the models of atomic composition to climate change and beyond. If we want to break down the consensus issues, we're going to have to be willing to throw all of those under the bus, as well.

That said, you mentioned why we have to assume the bible is historical, but I think there's a very obvious answer for where you're going with this. The trouble isn't that we assume it IS historical (in fact, we were talking about where that information might have come from. In some cases, it could be claimed to have come from one story and then another, passed down from civilization to civilization), but we are dealing with a bunch of people who fail to see the irony in claiming that they, unlike the Greeks and Romans before them, have found the TRUE god, and that's why the Greeks and Romans had such silly stories and why talking snakes and violent donkeys and stones that bleed water are historical and accurate and need to be the basis of everything from science to law to a patriarchal worldview.

The trouble, in this instance, is that these people truly believe that these things happened, and because these things obviously happened and the bible was always there, and it's too old to have been faked and ... (insert racist, sexist, ageist remarks, appeals to technology and superiority and circular logic here), then it should mandate all things, returning to the OP post, because it is the seat of all things true and moral and should be made standard.

We aren't REQUIRED to feel that the bible is historical, but if we're to square-off against people who do, we need to be prepared to get to the bottom of WHY they believe this, so we can show them the evidence we ACTUALLY have to the opposite.



The way I've perceived things is this; many times when a person holds a strong belief and say it is rooted in their faith, they are talking out of their ass.  The truth of the matter is the belief is theirs, but they cherry pick from their faith to justify it.  Because if they can convince themselves that God is on their side, well, then who is anyone to challenge them?  You can see it all in history.  If I remember correctly, Pope Urban II started the crusades, because, well, God.  And then everyone went along with him, because, well, God.  Before the Age of Enlightenment if you claimed your orders came from God all argument stopped, and it seems very religious people want that to still be true.  It's very annoying and frustrating.


Yes. It seems to me it comes down to power. You have those who are confident enough in themselves they function on the "live and love and let everything else slide" rules. There's those who aren't confident in themselves and want everyone to be as miserable as they, or in the dark as they (Ken Ham). Those who want the comfort that it brings, because they're scared people (Nothing wrong with that, but I remember grandmothers everywhere). Then there's those who want to use those deeply-held beliefs to further their own agenda, because it's teh quickest, deepest, most effective way of manipulating the largest number of people: Appeal to emotion.

Whatever way it comes about, yeah, I agree, frustrating. Completely frustrating.


I think a great deal more people wish it were true than just the orthodox religious guys. One of the defining characteristics of the Abrahamic religions is the conceit that, by subscribing to that group, you are therefore inherently superior to all other nonbelievers (i.e. those who would be classed as Heathens, blasphemers, etc.). At least the orthodox people will be honest about their beliefs, however repugnant they may be for the populace at large.

You don't get that vibe from, say, certain sects of Buddhism or the various polytheistic religions from antiquity (the Greeks, Romans, or the Celts). For the ancient Greeks in particular, religion was just simply a take it or leave it affair, and their mythologies did not even bother to try to impart moral wisdom to its believers (maybe except for the warning against hubris).

In general, I agree with you. I will, however, point out that the Romans and the Greeks both had huge problems with superiority. They would wipe out/amalgamate huge swathes of cultures to impose their banner over. The Greeks (to a lesser extent) and the Romans both used their "civilized" gods to take over Celtic lands, for instance, and impose their religion on the "barbarian gods". Sometimes, it was their grasp of science and technology that they would use, but it was often carried under the banner of replacing the heathen gods with those of benevolent or superior intellect. In fact, Rome even went so far as to quash any Celtic religion by imposing a ban on the mention of any highland gods, which led to the uprising of Boudica in the first century AD.

Religion is and always has been a card that has been used (if not intended) to justify superiority over non-believers, no matter how benevolent we would like to believe those individuals originally were.

Online Oniya

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #54 on: August 30, 2017, 09:36:41 PM »
I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar much with Cthulhu. That's the dude with a squid-monster face, right? Some sort of nautical figure with a squid for a head, usually dressed in seafaring garb?

Old Squiddly, as he is sometimes affectionately referred to, is roughly bipedal with a squid or octopus for a face and bat wing - no other clothing is specified, unless you are Disney Studios, looking to make your pirate movie a bit less 'standard'.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #55 on: August 30, 2017, 09:42:19 PM »
For whatever reason, I seem to recall him being shown to me as dressed in a French naval officer's uniform, a sketch someone did that was made, at least, to look like it was antiquated.

A single bat wing? Very strange. Is this some old myth or something? Like the Minotaur or a basilisk?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #56 on: August 30, 2017, 09:52:30 PM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu

TLDR: An elder god, or Cosmic entity that lives in the depths, worshiped by those that remember him. Created by writer H. P. Lovecraft and first introduced in the short story "The Call of Cthulhu", published in the American pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928.

Has since become something of a cultural icon.


Online Oniya

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #57 on: August 30, 2017, 10:00:57 PM »
For whatever reason, I seem to recall him being shown to me as dressed in a French naval officer's uniform, a sketch someone did that was made, at least, to look like it was antiquated.

A single bat wing? Very strange. Is this some old myth or something? Like the Minotaur or a basilisk?

Two bat wings - and it was invented by Howard Philip Lovecraft around the same time that Poe was writing.

The 'French naval uniform' version is probably a rendition of the 'Davy Jones' character from Disney's third (?) Pirates of the Caribbean movie (Dead Man's Chest).  Davy Jones was given a prehensile beard of tentacles for no particular reason.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #58 on: August 30, 2017, 10:22:34 PM »
I do remember the movie, might be why I got the two mixed up? I might have been looking at concept art. I'm afraid I never found a taste for Lovecraft's... well, craft. Poe, interestingly you bring him up, was a favourite of mine.

I, frankly, loved the PotC movies. I'm always excited to see another one. My little Boo-ling and I get dressed up as pirates and marathon the movies. It's something we share with my dad, I guess.

Thank you both!

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #59 on: August 30, 2017, 10:27:21 PM »
The papal physicist is named  Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, the Director of the Vatican Observatory. The Vatican actually employs a great number of scientists, and has for quite a while. My first introduction to the idea was on Startalk, an episode about the Star of Bethlehem. While I cannot link you to the podcast itself, this article may help to give a rundown of it. If you happen to have the means to find StarTalk available to you, I highly suggest it. It's a wide range of topics that can sublimate an interesting education.

While I agree that there is something of a skepticism to listening to the Vatican on the topic of anything scientific, let us not forget that many of the most influential members of the physics, astrophysics, mathematics and biology worlds were in some way working with the church, despite the whole excommunication threat. It was simply a way of life, then.

Ah, he's a Jesuit.  That makes a lot of things clearer!  I'll see if I can't track this podcast down somehow.

Consider guys like Galileo, who was definitely one of those guys.  In order to be able to pursue their work, men like Galileo - or Da Vinci, another contemporary - needed funding, which in those days meant patronage.  And there were only a select few who could afford such patronage, and the Church was one of those few.  (Another were the Medicis, who were Da Vinci's patrons.)  It's KIND of changed now, though the sciences is one of the fields where patronage (read today: research grants) still has a significant hold.

Flood narratives existing, even on a large, claimed-worldwide scale, isn't evidence of anything except that people feared floods. These people also generally had deities of thunderstorms, drought, war, famine, death, magic and fire. It does not in any way support the concept of retelling the tale of the biblical Moses under different guises, nor does it support the idea that this biblical account might have (or could have) reached all of these communities. Instead, I would probably liken it to the common dream of falling and waking upon impact with whatever surface one was sleeping on - that is to say, one's mind preying on a fear that is innately held in humanity. People feared natural disasters and would of course see them as a warning from the powers purported to control weather events in the whole of the world.

(Also, I resent the Ojibwa being referred to as a "minor" anything, subjective accuracy or not.)

I was unaware of Ur, Atrahasis, or Hammurabi, it seems my education has some gaps. I'm still loath to agree on Gilgamesh being taken FROM anything (there's a problem I'm having here with "it predates the other" being equated to "it came from the other". I'm older, for instance, than all of my siblings...), but I'll admit it's a possibility and I didn't know there was anything that would be counted as possibly being before that.

I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar much with Cthulhu. That's the dude with a squid-monster face, right? Some sort of nautical figure with a squid for a head, usually dressed in seafaring garb?

My apologies.  I hadn't heard the name Ojibwa before I went looking into them and recognized them by another name, the Chippewa, who definitely were not a minor tribe.

As for Cthulhu, he's this dude:
Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide

Like Oniya, I'm not sure where you got clothes, unless you're referring to Davy Jones from PotC.

Anyways.  To go on.  The series of stories that involved Cthulhu and his brethren - which came to be referred to as the Cthulhu Mythos - began with the short story Dagon, which Lovecraft wrote in 1917 and was published in 1919.  To date, people are still writing stories in the Mythos today, but the Mythos really took off under August Derleth, who basically picked up after Lovecraft died in the 30s.  We're talking a series of stories that spanned at least a quarter of a century.  And that's not even including the genre of Lovecraftian horror, which is a whole genre in and of itself.

As to the point I was making...okay, I remember now.  Imagine if every story set in the Mythos, every story that featured Cthulhu, or the Deep Ones (another staple), or any of its hallmarks were gathered together, regardless of who wrote them.  Anyone everywhere who used Lovecraft's ideas and created media based on them.  You would be talking about a large, vast body of literature, and in these days, movies and games.  It might rightly be said of such a body that it had not yet reached completion, despite being nearly a century old by this point, and with no signs of stopping, either.  It might be another century before people tire of them!

To wit: simply because the first Gilgamesh stories pre-dated Atrahasis does not mean that they did not utilize other contemporary sources and simply attribute them to Gilgamesh instead.  To use another analogy, one you alluded to in your post, think of Greek and Roman mythology - a lot of stories in the mythologies were the same, simply because the Romans stole Greek religion and culture, and simply renamed them.  Herakles vs Hercules.

The trouble, in this instance, is that these people truly believe that these things happened, and because these things obviously happened and the bible was always there, and it's too old to have been faked and ... (insert racist, sexist, ageist remarks, appeals to technology and superiority and circular logic here), then it should mandate all things, returning to the OP post, because it is the seat of all things true and moral and should be made standard.

We aren't REQUIRED to feel that the bible is historical, but if we're to square-off against people who do, we need to be prepared to get to the bottom of WHY they believe this, so we can show them the evidence we ACTUALLY have to the opposite.

You're going to be digging a very long time.  I know people like this; I speak and talk with them on a weekly basis.  To them, the Bible is not about whether or not it is historically accurate, whether or not the stories in it are true.  You could prove that the modern Bible was written by some dude in a monastery 200 years ago - beyond shadows of doubt - and it would not matter to them. 

This is because the Bible is not a history book, or a storybook, or any such text to them.  The Bible is a moralistic source, a letter telling you about how to live your life and be a good person.  Something akin to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics rather than Herodotus' Histories.  You mentioned Ken Ham earlier.  The people I speak of love Ken Ham and the Creation Museum.  Why?  Because it reinforces the Bible, and to a certain degree posits things that cannot be definitively proven.

Speaking as someone who is quite familiar with this book and people who believe it, I will make this statement: if you want to defeat the Bible, you must remove its moral power.  As long as the Bible can stand on two legs as a source of morality - as long as it is that letter telling you how to be a good person - you will not defeat it.  IF, on the other hand, you can prove that what the Bible teaches is how to be evil, or at the very least not good, then maybe, just maybe.

In general, I agree with you. I will, however, point out that the Romans and the Greeks both had huge problems with superiority. They would wipe out/amalgamate huge swathes of cultures to impose their banner over. The Greeks (to a lesser extent) and the Romans both used their "civilized" gods to take over Celtic lands, for instance, and impose their religion on the "barbarian gods". Sometimes, it was their grasp of science and technology that they would use, but it was often carried under the banner of replacing the heathen gods with those of benevolent or superior intellect. In fact, Rome even went so far as to quash any Celtic religion by imposing a ban on the mention of any highland gods, which led to the uprising of Boudica in the first century AD.

Religion is and always has been a card that has been used (if not intended) to justify superiority over non-believers, no matter how benevolent we would like to believe those individuals originally were.

That's because religion is a part of culture - and people want far more to prove cultural superiority over religious superiority.  It is useful, however, because religion can demonstrate the clash of cultures.   Compare the superiority of the believer vs the non-believer and the superiority of the dominant culture vs the non-dominant.

Offline SINless

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #60 on: August 31, 2017, 07:04:41 AM »


You're going to be digging a very long time.  I know people like this; I speak and talk with them on a weekly basis.  To them, the Bible is not about whether or not it is historically accurate, whether or not the stories in it are true.  You could prove that the modern Bible was written by some dude in a monastery 200 years ago - beyond shadows of doubt - and it would not matter to them. 

This is because the Bible is not a history book, or a storybook, or any such text to them.  The Bible is a moralistic source, a letter telling you about how to live your life and be a good person.  Something akin to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics rather than Herodotus' Histories.  You mentioned Ken Ham earlier.  The people I speak of love Ken Ham and the Creation Museum.  Why?  Because it reinforces the Bible, and to a certain degree posits things that cannot be definitively proven.

Speaking as someone who is quite familiar with this book and people who believe it, I will make this statement: if you want to defeat the Bible, you must remove its moral power.  As long as the Bible can stand on two legs as a source of morality - as long as it is that letter telling you how to be a good person - you will not defeat it.  IF, on the other hand, you can prove that what the Bible teaches is how to be evil, or at the very least not good, then maybe, just maybe.

The problem isn't proving the bible is teaching evil, or at least saying people have to do and say a lot of evil things. The problem is that people will ignore all the vileness and hatred that is in the bible, because it is the bible. The bible must be good, otherwise it would mean they are not good, and that concept is something their self image cannot handle. There's countless of examples of people going to bible thumpers and reading parts of 'the qur'an' These Christians are incensed at how anybody could believe, let alone support such vileness. When it is then revealed that it's not the Qur'an but the bible, these same Christians either do a 180 and defend the verses they just condemned, or they get mad and use the cherrypicker argument.


In general, I agree with you. I will, however, point out that the Romans and the Greeks both had huge problems with superiority. They would wipe out/amalgamate huge swathes of cultures to impose their banner over. The Greeks (to a lesser extent) and the Romans both used their "civilized" gods to take over Celtic lands, for instance, and impose their religion on the "barbarian gods". Sometimes, it was their grasp of science and technology that they would use, but it was often carried under the banner of replacing the heathen gods with those of benevolent or superior intellect. In fact, Rome even went so far as to quash any Celtic religion by imposing a ban on the mention of any highland gods, which led to the uprising of Boudica in the first century AD.

Religion is and always has been a card that has been used (if not intended) to justify superiority over non-believers, no matter how benevolent we would like to believe those individuals originally were.

I hate to be a pedant here, but Boudicca's uprising had nothing to do with Highland Gods. She was the queen of an area in Modern day Essex. Her revolt depending on who you ask was either because her husband's kingdom was stolen by the Romans, while she and her daughters, the rightful heirs were flogged and raped in front of their own people by the Romans (This is the version most modern day scholars agree upon from historical sources, including Roman military historian Tacitus), while the other version, given by Cassius Do, is that it was because the Romans forced the Britons to accept loans to pay for their taxes, and then suddenly demanded their money back.

There's a lot we can blame on religion's intolerance of religion, but this is not one of them.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #61 on: August 31, 2017, 02:48:42 PM »
The problem isn't proving the bible is teaching evil, or at least saying people have to do and say a lot of evil things. The problem is that people will ignore all the vileness and hatred that is in the bible, because it is the bible. The bible must be good, otherwise it would mean they are not good, and that concept is something their self image cannot handle. There's countless of examples of people going to bible thumpers and reading parts of 'the qur'an' These Christians are incensed at how anybody could believe, let alone support such vileness. When it is then revealed that it's not the Qur'an but the bible, these same Christians either do a 180 and defend the verses they just condemned, or they get mad and use the cherrypicker argument.

There's a number of problems with this tactic, but I'll go into what I think are the more critical ones.

The first is that it is a 'Gotcha' move - attempting to expose someone's intellectual hypocrisy because they have no problem denouncing such things when other people do them, but the minute they do that, it becomes fine; it's a reveal of cognitive dissonance.  This tactic does not work the vast majority of the time for the principal reason of the audience - the only audience it would really work on is someone who is intellectually on the fence, unsure of their position.  Anyone invested in holding their position will simply ignore or attempt to rebut (I emphasize attempt here) the Gotcha; anyone who was already against the position to begin with will use it as reinforcement of their belief.

To utilize a semi-fictional example that does not involve religion - there was a gathering (I think at Berkeley) of Marxist/Communist/Socialist types, and a man walked up to them and started to give a speech.  That speech was nothing but Adolf Hitler quotes, to which the crowd applauded the speaker before he walked away.  Now, he didn't reveal who the source of the speech was, which is where I have to go into the fictional portion of this illustration.

Let's say that our speech-giver held the position that our gathering above was just comprised of a bunch of special snowflakes who are anti-intellectual, run based on emotion, and generally hypocritical people.  He goes and he gives this speech at the gathering, and then as he's walking away he reveals the content of the speech was entirely Hitler.  (He was probably not right to, as he was one man in a crowd of a couple dozen - if they had gone violent, things would have been really bad for him.)  There would have been two general responses to this revelation:

"Wow, we just agreed with Hitler.  That's bad, we might need to re-think our position."  The speaker wins.  Why?  Because he succeeded in at least making the people reflect upon their own position, reconsider their thought patterns and what they know.

Or, they'll do a 180 and defend their position - whilst simultaneously explaining that Hitler was taken out of context, or they were taken out of context, or some method by which they prove their position was right and totally not advocated by Hitler whatsoever - IE, what you said.  Speaker wins again.  Why?  Because he went into the matter with the belief that the opposition is anti-intellectual, that they are hypocritical, and his belief in that has not been challenged one iota.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

Trying to expose such hypocrisy might have worked a hundred years ago, but it does not function at all in the modern age, principally because of the idea of moral relativism  - what is right for you is not right for me, I have my own standards and you can have yours, etc etc.


The second problem with this tactic is that it frequently criticizes without construction.  It says to the person on the receiving end that you are bad people without telling them how to be better people.  But let's say, for a moment, that such a situation took place, and that the person on the giving end did offer construction, did tell the listeners about how to be a better person.  Here, the construction can go one of principally two ways.  Way A, which I more often hear, can be boiled down to 'my moral positions are better than yours, you should be like me.'  This usually gets the speaker accused of elitism or snobbery or 'he thinks he's better than everyone else.'  Which does not work.

The way that DOES work is Way B, where you challenge the listener to rethink all the foundations of their assumption.  Using gay marriage as an example - you want to convince someone that gay marriage is okay.  Most people will agree with you on the basic foundations of humanity - IE, you are a human and deserve basic human decency.  (This is, ironically, one of the things Christians are good at admitting.)  The question is not about humanity, the question is about marriage - why is it that they don't believe gays should be allowed to marry?  Castigating them about how they hate gays doesn't work because it's not the issue they have - the way to resolve the argument is to find out precisely what criterion they believe disqualifies gays from being allowed to marry, and then go from there.


The last major thing I would point out - which is more or less confined to this specific example or its analogues - is that when I have heard this tactic employed, a lot of the speakers will be pulling stuff out of the Old Testament.  As one friend of mine says: "Judaism is the Old Testament; Christianity is the New Testament." 

To elaborate on their argument - Old Testament Judaism was a highly legalistic religious system.  You commit sin X, you must make restitution Y.  It places emphasis on self-conduct and obedience to law as the primary cornerstones.  This was Mosaic law, which was laid out (according to Exodus) between Moses and God on Mt. Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments, plus a bunch of other laws that were later written down in subsequent books, and was the basis of the covenant between God and the Israelites.  The purpose of this law - and of varying customs that surrounded it, such as the Day of Atonement - were meant to be the basis of Christianity and the final nail in the coffin of the idea that salvation is earned by adherence to the law and being a good person.  A common charge I hear about Old Testament law is that it's supposed to be impossible to uphold - that's the whole point, my friend says, we aren't able to do it by ourselves, we need help, and that help is Jesus.

Fast forward a bit to the New Testament, during the Last Supper.  After the meal, Jesus takes bread - but he also takes the cup, which is the critical object here.  Jesus states that the cup is the new covenant, through blood.  The argument goes that Jesus - as fully God - was ending the previous covenant that had been established between God and Moses and was instituting a new one based on different principles.  Think about re-negotiating a contract as an analogue - some parts stay the same, but other parts change.  Jesus was changing the terms of the agreement, moving away from a legalistic basis and towards a relational one.

Quite simply put, using Numbers to denounce Christianity will not work, because they don't believe the laws in the book are relevant to their personal standing with God.  Well, that and they see anyone trying to do that as trying to manipulate the Bible for their own ends.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 02:52:14 PM by ReijiTabibito »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #62 on: August 31, 2017, 03:34:24 PM »
Interesting point here: A lot of the rules and regulations that people quote (Gays are bad and are going to hell, people, the Bible says so) they are taking their justification from the old Testament. But then when you go into the Old Testament and see God telling King Saul to kill literally every living thing inside a city because they happened to worship another deity, they throw their hands up and say," Nah, that's the old testament. We don't follow that anymore." Same goes with why modern day Christians have no problem with eating bacon and lobster while still sporting a massive hate-boner for people that like to have sex with folks of the same gender. When you hold a book as a moral compass while cutting out the parts that you don't like (Kinda like the part where Paul says that where women have no place taking any kind of authority over men, which is in the New Testament, by the way) you immediately cut the knees out of any kind of moral high ground you might have.

Because if you hold that eating any kind of land animal that does to have cloven hooves and chews their cud (I.e. Not bacon) as well as any creature of the sea that does not have scales or fins as a health issue and thus outdated, but that 'the gays' are immediately going to the fieriest bit of hell, you are opening yourself to the counter that well, if the food bits are outdated due to medical advancements, why the hell aren't the sexual ones either?

In the end, even someone that follows all the rules in the Old Testament and New and consider themselves above people that don't are considered just as bad, because in the new Testament, Jesus goes off on what I can only describe as a rant on the scribes and pharisees telling them off for doing precisely that.

In short...



Everybody's going to hell.

Might as well be nice to the folks that you're sharing your life with.

Offline Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #63 on: August 31, 2017, 08:39:43 PM »
...it was invented by Howard Philip Lovecraft around the same time that Poe was writing.





Umm...

Offline Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #64 on: August 31, 2017, 08:53:12 PM »
...As one friend of mine says: "Judaism is the Old Testament; Christianity is the New Testament." ...

Here's my response to "But that's the Old Testament!"

First of all, it's incorrect to say that a Christian can or should ignore the laws of the Old Testament, at least if they want to be consistent with what Jesus supposedly said. Matthew 5 starting at 17: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

In order to be able to get to be at a point where you can cherry pick and pick and choose which verses you have to take seriously and which verses you don't, you have to not take seriously the supposed express words of Jesus. So there's that.

Second of all, Christian history has been full of gory use of the Old Testament. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" might have a special resonance to someone burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition. Centuries of persecution of gay people have followed the declaration that if a man lies with a man as with a women they have committed an abomination and shall be put to death.

There is a Christian Dominionist Senate Candidate in the state of Missouri who was removed from a judgeship on the state Supreme Court for refusing to remove a monument in his courtroom of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments, naturally, are featured in the Old Testament. If Christians are free to disregard the Old Testament, it seems like he went through an awful lot of time and effort defending that monument when it's not supposed to be an important part of his religion any more.

If you try to ditch the Old Testament, don't you have to ditch all of it? The mixed fabrics, the dietary laws, the yearly atonement sacrifices, the Ten Commandments, the instructions to murder witches and gay people. If you ditch the Old Testament, aren't you also ditching Original Sin? Isn't that the big thing that Jesus is supposed to be saving ourselves from in the first place?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #65 on: August 31, 2017, 09:12:09 PM »
First of all, it's incorrect to say that a Christian can or should ignore the laws of the Old Testament, at least if they want to be consistent with what Jesus supposedly said. Matthew 5 starting at 17: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

In order to be able to get to be at a point where you can cherry pick and pick and choose which verses you have to take seriously and which verses you don't, you have to not take seriously the supposed express words of Jesus. So there's that.

Jesus also said in Matthew that the two greatest commandments were "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind," and "Love your neighbor as yourself."  And that all the Law and the Prophets depended on these two things.  If you did not obey them, then the Law and the Prophets meant nothing.


If you try to ditch the Old Testament, don't you have to ditch all of it? The mixed fabrics, the dietary laws, the yearly atonement sacrifices, the Ten Commandments, the instructions to murder witches and gay people. If you ditch the Old Testament, aren't you also ditching Original Sin? Isn't that the big thing that Jesus is supposed to be saving ourselves from in the first place?

I won't answer all of these charges, but I will give an illustration that I believe clarifies the matter - specifically the bit about the Jewish dietary laws.  One of Jesus' disciples was a man named Peter.  Peter was in the city of Joppa, at the house of Simon, who was a tanner.  Peter was summoned by Cornelius, who was an officer in the Roman legions.  Before he was summoned, Peter had gone up to the roof of Simon's house, where he saw a vision.  That vision was of a large sheet being let down from the sky, and in it were all these animals - reptiles and birds and full of the things that Peter had been told not to eat as a good Jew.  A voice then told him "Get up.  Kill and eat."

Peter replies back "Surely not!  I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."  To which the voice replies "Do not call unclean that which God has made clean."  This happened three times, and then the vision ended.  After this, Peter went with the men sent by Cornelius.  Peter tells Cornelius about Jesus and the whole household is saved.

That's part 1 - part 2 is the even more critical part, where Peter comes back.  Jewish converts in Jerusalem, hearing about the matter, confronted Peter and accused him, saying that he had gone into a house with uncircumcised men and ate with them.  This was meant as a move to exile Peter, to throw him out, because he had violated Mosaic law in this.  Instead, Peter tells the whole story, from start to finish, and states that if God wanted to extend to the Gentiles the same gift he had extended to the Jewish people, who was he to stand in God's way?  At this the objection disappeared - and if you read the letters that make up the vast majority of the rest of the New Testament, you see that one of the real struggles - especially for Jewish converts - of the early church was to get away from the legalistic doctrines of Judaism.

Offline Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #66 on: August 31, 2017, 09:38:27 PM »
Jesus also said in Matthew that the two greatest commandments were "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind," and "Love your neighbor as yourself."  And that all the Law and the Prophets depended on these two things. 

Yeah, and you know what that's a reference to? Yep. The Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Leviticus 19:17-18: You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord

Quote
I won't answer all of these charges, but I will give an illustration that I believe clarifies the matter - specifically the bit about the Jewish dietary laws.  One of Jesus' disciples was a man named Peter...

Stop. You're telling the story out of order. The earliest known Christians proselytized Gentiles but required them to convert to Judaism (and thus, be circumcised and obey Jewish law, including dietary law). Paul is the first known Christian to discard that requirement (having received a special revelation instructing him to), and he had to fight the earliest known leaders of the cult for acceptance of that radical idea. But some books in the NT are from the sect that did not adopt this innovation but remained thoroughly Jewish (most obviously Matthew, the letters of John and James, and Revelation).  Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians all report that Paul was the originator of the practice of converting Gentiles directly to Christianity without requiring that they become Jews first.

Because abandonment of dietary laws and conversion to Judaism did not originate until ~20 years after Jesus' supposed death, we cannot infer that Jesus, if he lived, taught anything other than a Jewish religion for Jews, and countenanced admitting only those Gentiles who first became Jews through circumcision and adherence to Torah law.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 09:41:26 PM by Regina Minx »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #67 on: August 31, 2017, 10:02:33 PM »
Yeah, and you know what that's a reference to? Yep. The Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Leviticus 19:17-18: You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord

Yeah, and your point is? Saying that 'Jesus taught from the Old Testament' is like saying 'A Spanish teacher teaches languages.'  For one, he had to, there was no New Testament yet.  For another, Jesus' message he was bringing - as you pointed out in Matthew, was that he was the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets, IE, the Old Testament.  Matthew's Gospel is different from the others that follow it in the Bible because Matthew wanted to show Jewish readers that Jesus was the fulfillment of long-heard prophecy (those Prophets that we keep talking about) about Jesus being the Messiah.  That's part of why the Biblical canon positions it as the first book of the New Testament - it's the bridge between the Old and New.  That's why you hear verses from the Old Testament way more in Matthew than compared to, say, Luke.

Stop. You're telling the story out of order. The earliest known Christians proselytized Gentiles but required them to convert to Judaism (and thus, be circumcised and obey Jewish law, including dietary law). Paul is the first known Christian to discard that requirement (having received a special revelation instructing him to), and he had to fight the earliest known leaders of the cult for acceptance of that radical idea. But some books in the NT are from the sect that did not adopt this innovation but remained thoroughly Jewish (most obviously Matthew, the letters of John and James, and Revelation).

Because abandonment of dietary laws and conversion to Judaism did not originate until ~20 years after Jesus' supposed death, we cannot infer that Jesus, if he lived, taught anything other than a Jewish religion for Jews, and countenanced admitting only those Gentiles who first became Jews through circumcision and adherence to Torah law.

An inference is a likely conclusion or assumption, based on our understanding of the facts at hand.  Aristotle inferred that dew on planets was the source of aphids, because aphids could be seen on such plants.  Now, today we know that's absolutely not the case - spontaneous generation is a dead theory - but that's because of advances in science and such disciplines.  The reason that we no longer believe in Aristotle's aphid claim is not because the facts have changed, but because we learned that our understanding of those facts was erroneous and needed correction.  To quote HAL from 2001: "This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."

Now, we could skip all this assumption and inference business if we had, say, direct evidence that he taught such things?


Also, quick question, if Jesus taught a Jewish religion for Jews, why did the Sanhedrin - the Jewish religious authorities - go to such lengths to have him executed by Roman authorities?

Online Oniya

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #68 on: August 31, 2017, 10:21:01 PM »




Umm...

I said I was crap with dates.  Several of Lovecraft's correspondences express great admiration for Poe.  Needless to say, this takes it well out of the 'old myth' category.  ;)  (Old Myth-katonic, on the other hand...  ;D)

Offline Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #69 on: August 31, 2017, 10:59:04 PM »
Yeah, and your point is?

My point is that basing a practice of ignoring large swathes of a book because of what one guy was saying while he was quoting from that same book under discussion is inherently a self-defeating practice.

An inference is a likely conclusion or assumption, based on our understanding of the facts at hand...

Thank you. As someone who majored in statistics and who performs root cause analysis as a QA supervisor for a tech company, I had actually never heard the word inference or had any understanding of what it meant. I appreciate the mansplainin'!

Also, quick question, if Jesus taught a Jewish religion for Jews, why did the Sanhedrin - the Jewish religious authorities - go to such lengths to have him executed by Roman authorities?

I don't believe that they did. Yes, the Gospels SAY they did, but I don't believe that to be true. More importantly, I don't believe that was a part of the earliest versions of Christianity, either. For elaboration, see below if you're interested, but since this is a tangent, I'm not going to make anyone else reading this slog through it:

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
The earliest source we have about what Christians believed in the decades after Jesus' supposed death are the letters of Paul, and they do not blame the Romans or the Sanhedrin for that. It was only 15-20 years later that the first of the Gospels was written, at which point the story had changed. Why the Synoptic Gospel writers might have felt it necessary to blame the Romans/Sanhedrin for the death of Jesus is beyond the narrow scope of this conversation.We go back to Paul.

1 Corinthians 2, 6-10: We speak a wisdom among the mature, a wisdom not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age (the Greek is archontōn tou aiōnos toutou), who are being abolished, but we speak God’s wisdom, in a mystery, that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the ages (aiōnōn) for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age (archontōn tou aiōnos toutou) had known. For if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as it is written, ‘Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of a man, those things God prepared for those who love him’. For God revealed them to us through the Spirit...

Paul is saying that if the "the rulers of this age" had known what would happen when they killed Jesus, they would not have done so. This cannot mean the Sanhedrin or the Romans. If they had known such a fact, they would either have gone on with the crucifixion regardless (to save mankind) or not cared (if they didn't believe that killing Jesus would have such an effect). According to Paul, the rulers of this age killed Jesus, and that's more than just the Romans or Sanhedrin. And they only did so because they were kept from knowing that doing so would save the human race.

This refers to Satan and his demons. When Paul says ‘the rulers of this age’ (archontōn tou aiōnos toutou) were the ones kept in the dark and who in result crucified Jesus, he is using archōn to refer to supernatural beings. Paul almost never uses this word of earthly authorities, and never so uses it in conjunction with the context of aeons. And here he cannot be using it in a human sense, as the motives he is imputing to these archons then make no sense.



Christians have always used the Old Testament when it was convenient to them, and especially as a tool of oppression. Even the ones that are OK with gay people and witches and wearing mixed fabric shirts are probably a little more hesitant to give up the Ten Commandments (like our buddy Judge Moore), and fewer still are going to give up the notion of Original Sin, which is based out of a story in the Old Testament. So yes. I consider the Old Testament to be a perfectly valid club to bring to this debate, and I'm not convinced by the dismissal "But that's the Old Testament!"


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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #70 on: August 31, 2017, 11:54:55 PM »
My point is that basing a practice of ignoring large swathes of a book because of what one guy was saying while he was quoting from that same book under discussion is inherently a self-defeating practice.

It can be, depending on the format of the book.

Thank you. As someone who majored in statistics and who performs root cause analysis as a QA supervisor for a tech company, I had actually never heard the word inference or had any understanding of what it meant. I appreciate the mansplainin'!

Okay, this does not belong here.  For one, show me one previous statement you made in this thread where you stated your qualifications in statistics and duties as a quality assurance worker for a tech company.  For another, 'mansplaining' is an entirely inflammatory word that you used specifically on me because I am a man.  If this had been pointed out to you by, say, a woman, while you might have made a statement similar to this one, you would not have used mansplaining, but possibly some other word.  To follow up, mansplaining is generally defined as when a man explains something to a woman that does not need explaining to the woman.  Like a high school student trying to explain the intricacies of 19th century French colonial policy to a woman who is an expert on the subject

Mansplaining carries a connotation of arrogance, because it presumes that any man anywhere knows more about a subject than a woman because penis.  Did I make a mistake?  Yes, I made the assumption that you, like one of the other several billion other people in the world, are one of those people that did not understand what an inference really is.  That is now an assumption I know not to make with you again in the future.  Thank you for teaching me something. (And Inference should be right next to Irony in the list of 'words people think that they understand and use correctly, but don't')  Also, consider that the definition and explanation was not just aimed at you - any of the other people in this thread, or who might read this thread in the future, might have been in consideration at the time I wrote it.

Finally, this is not a rebuttal of the statement that I made.  I'm not going to make judgment on what it is, but I will say that this is not a rebuttal.

I don't believe that they did. Yes, the Gospels SAY they did, but I don't believe that to be true. More importantly, I don't believe that was a part of the earliest versions of Christianity, either. For elaboration, see below if you're interested, but since this is a tangent, I'm not going to make anyone else reading this slog through it:

So then, who did?  Or are we back to arguing again about whether or not Jesus was an historical figure?


Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
The earliest source we have about what Christians believed in the decades after Jesus' supposed death are the letters of Paul, and they do not blame the Romans or the Sanhedrin for that. It was only 15-20 years later that the first of the Gospels was written, at which point the story had changed. Why the Synoptic Gospel writers might have felt it necessary to blame the Romans/Sanhedrin for the death of Jesus is beyond the narrow scope of this conversation.We go back to Paul.

1 Corinthians 2, 6-10: We speak a wisdom among the mature, a wisdom not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age (the Greek is archontōn tou aiōnos toutou), who are being abolished, but we speak God’s wisdom, in a mystery, that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the ages (aiōnōn) for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age (archontōn tou aiōnos toutou) had known. For if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as it is written, ‘Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of a man, those things God prepared for those who love him’. For God revealed them to us through the Spirit...

Paul is saying that if the "the rulers of this age" had known what would happen when they killed Jesus, they would not have done so. This cannot mean the Sanhedrin or the Romans. If they had known such a fact, they would either have gone on with the crucifixion regardless (to save mankind) or not cared (if they didn't believe that killing Jesus would have such an effect). According to Paul, the rulers of this age killed Jesus, and that's more than just the Romans or Sanhedrin. And they only did so because they were kept from knowing that doing so would save the human race.

This refers to Satan and his demons. When Paul says ‘the rulers of this age’ (archontōn tou aiōnos toutou) were the ones kept in the dark and who in result crucified Jesus, he is using archōn to refer to supernatural beings. Paul almost never uses this word of earthly authorities, and never so uses it in conjunction with the context of aeons. And here he cannot be using it in a human sense, as the motives he is imputing to these archons then make no sense.

Your understanding of Greek is better than most of the people who I hear argue about the validity of the Bible.  That's the common interpretation I've heard about this particular passage, too - that men were just the means by which.


Christians have always used the Old Testament when it was convenient to them, and especially as a tool of oppression. Even the ones that are OK with gay people and witches and wearing mixed fabric shirts are probably a little more hesitant to give up the Ten Commandments (like our buddy Judge Moore), and fewer still are going to give up the notion of Original Sin, which is based out of a story in the Old Testament. So yes. I consider the Old Testament to be a perfectly valid club to bring to this debate, and I'm not convinced by the dismissal "But that's the Old Testament!"


There's a lot I could say here, but I'm simply not going to because while it might feel righteous to, it would only serve to tarnish the point that I'm trying to make, which is this: people are imperfect and flawed and we all have some degree of evil inside is, and that evil will use any means necessary, any tool, any creation, as a tool by which to oppress and condemn.  Take writing.  Writing gave us Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Cicero, Herodotus, Locke, Mill, and Voltaire.  It also gave us Mengele, Hitler, Rand, Robespierre, and Mao.  To wit: the problem is not with the tool, but with the person who uses it.

As for the Decalogue, they should be.  The majority of those commandments are good moral principles to live by.  In my experience, people stop having a problem with the Ten Commandments around number 5, and numbers 2-4 some people can see the point of them - the one commandment that every objector to the Decalogue I've personally encountered has been the first one.

Of course, the issue with Judge Moore was that he didn't want them removed from a courtroom, which has absolutely nothing to do with what the Ten Commandments say but where they can be seen.  If Moore carried a tiny copy of them in his wallet, or had them taped to the underside of his bench where only he could see them, that would have been different - it probably wouldn't even have come up.  As for removing them from the courtroom, I have no issue with that - the courthouse is a public space, run by the government.

You can take original sin - that the sin of Adam was visited upon all of us - out of the Bible, eliminate it from the text completely.  People make original sin out to be this gigantic monster that explains everything.  It's not.  Sin - the non-original kind, the kind that people do every day - is.

EDIT: Did a little research.  The doctrine of original sin was not proposed until Irenaeus, who was one of the earlier Christian writers during the 2nd century.  While he did propose it, the actual doctrine itself didn't emerge until Augustine wrote on in sometime in the late 4th century.  As for Augustine, his work on it wasn't recognized by the church until the 6th century, and even then it was only a recognizance by opposition - they didn't endorse his work, but condemned that of his rival on the matter.  The whole thing came to a head again in the 11th century, and Aquinas led the charge to reject the Augustinian version in the 12th century.  And that's not even getting to the Reformation.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 12:11:45 AM by ReijiTabibito »

Offline Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #71 on: September 01, 2017, 11:53:17 AM »
So then, who did?  Or are we back to arguing again about whether or not Jesus was an historical figure?

That's a false dichotomy. I am not required to argue that Jesus was mythical in order to argue that the Gospel writers engaged in mytho-symbolic storytelling in which historical accuracy were not primary concerns, when they were concerns at all. I can believe that Jesus was historical without believing that the Sanhedrin conspired with the Romans to have him killed.

That's the common interpretation I've heard about this particular passage, too - that men were just the means by which.

Which is the answer to your question. My premise (that Jesus in Matthew was a Jew who taught the Jewish religion for the benefit of the Jews and required Torah observance as a condition of salvation) is not contradicted by asking why the Sanhedrin had him killed by the Romans. If we're going to say that it was Satan and his demons that were ultimately responsible, then they used the Sanhedrin whether or not Jesus preached Torah observance.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #72 on: September 01, 2017, 12:03:51 PM »
That's a false dichotomy. I am not required to argue that Jesus was mythical in order to argue that the Gospel writers engaged in mytho-symbolic storytelling in which historical accuracy were not primary concerns, when they were concerns at all. I can believe that Jesus was historical without believing that the Sanhedrin conspired with the Romans to have him killed.

Then, exactly what was the entire point of this argument?  Or perhaps I should state alternately, what exactly is your argument here?

Which is the answer to your question. My premise (that Jesus in Matthew was a Jew who taught the Jewish religion for the benefit of the Jews and required Torah observance as a condition of salvation) is not contradicted by asking why the Sanhedrin had him killed by the Romans. If we're going to say that it was Satan and his demons that were ultimately responsible, then they used the Sanhedrin whether or not Jesus preached Torah observance.

Okay, but it doesn't sound like you believe in Satan and his demons.  At least, not from the posts I've read here.  So you're arguing something you don't believe?  Or did I miss something?

Offline Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #73 on: September 01, 2017, 12:14:31 PM »
My argument is that the earliest generation of Christians, including Jesus himself, if he existed, preached Torah observance and the necessity of becoming Jews in order to achieve salvation. This is confirmed by the earliest writings (the genuine and pseudo-Pauline epistles) as well as later writings (Matthew, the letters of John and James, and Revelation). Thus, to circle back to the original discussion, "But that's the Old Testament" isn't a valid defense when someone pulls something form the Old Testament to criticize. Because non-Torah observance was a later feature, not original in the first generation of Christian belief and practice.

Of course, if you want to argue that the first generation of apostles and disciples just got it wrong, and Torah observance isn't necessary, then fine. But then the onus is on you to demonstrate how you know that Paul got it right, that non-Torah observance isn't required. And you must apportion some space in your certainty to the possibility that you are wrong. And any qualifier you put on that "I might be wrong" space must therefore be attached to any statement you make about the content of your beliefs. "I don't think that a Christian has to observe the Torah, but I could be wrong"

You're right, I don't believe in Satan and his demons. I also don't believe that Jesus was killed by the Romans at the behest of the Sanhedrin. Therefore, I don't need to explain why Jesus was killed by the Sanhedrin if he was a Jew and preached Torah observance among other things.

Offline Deamonbane

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #74 on: September 01, 2017, 12:32:08 PM »
One has to admit though that Christianity has evolved (for the most part) from the first generation of Christian belief and practice. For better or worse, it has.

However, holding a book as your statute of morality while holding the ability to yourself (but not to others) to pick and choose how to interpret certain parts and pick and choose which parts to follow does call into question why your interpretation of that book's laws is the correct one. You immediately find yourself in a logical bind.

In most courts of law, if one portion of a testimony is found to be in error, the entire testimony therefore falls under suspicion, and the Bible certainly falls under that category (Apologies for my lack of knowledge of legal terminology). If a person says that certain parts of the Bible are to be followed whilst other parts are outdated, it calls into question this person's authority in declaring this. If you can dictate that certain parts of Biblical law are outdated, why can't I do the same?