Inter-Faith Chapel, Now Disc: Made to Worship?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jedi Merkurian, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    It's illegal in many states because of the U.S.'s past, and currently a minority think it should be illegal, and it's rarely if ever charged in the states that have it on the books. In fact, in trying to look this up, it's so limited that I'm having trouble finding cases for many of the states that have laws, and keep getting articles that ran in various states 6 months ago about a New York case that was only the 13th charge of adultery in the state's history. In Michigan, the last conviction was in 1971. Maryland, supposedly hasn't prosecuted it in over half a century.

    Frankly, I've only found two cases in the last 5 years of states charging people for adultery.
  2. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    You are misunderstanding what Espy meant by the "Enlightenment" (note the capitalization). The Enlightenment (short for "the Age of Enlightenment") was a philosophical movement in the 18th century that focused on reason, instead of faith or religion, as the source of authority for governments. The name was sparked by the writings of Immanuel Kant, and one of its key points was the separation of church and state.

    You can read a fairly good summary of it here. Can you point to a similar philosophical movement in the Muslim world?

    Kimball Kinnison
  3. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    I don't have a problem with Muslims choosing to wear the hijab if they are in fact choosing it. I do have problems with the burka when they are in situations where other people can't wear masks. What punishment is appropriate for an adulterer? There are plenty of things that "hurt society" that we allow people to do because we believe in personal freedom. Many of them are classified as "sins" by your religion and my religion, but many are not. Not ever getting married or having a partner of any kind ever could be said to hurt society as well. Should we mandate marriage? What if people decide not to have kids? That also hurts society, you want to criminalize that? What about smoking? Not exercising? Wasting gas on vacations? Throwing away food?

    What also of the practical implications? People are already deciding just to live together rather than marry, and you want to add the incentive that they go to jail if they mess up once they sign a piece of paper?


    So if somebody simply decided to not to be Muslim anymore then the Sharia court would have no power over them? Why should one be subject to Sharia courts at all even if it was a Muslim they committed a crime against? Just because your religion tells you what I do to you is a crime doesn't mean anything to me. That is still imposing your religion on me.
  4. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    The Islamic Golden Age

    In fact that's probably what app was talking about.
  5. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    I'm not sure I'd put that in the same category as the Enlightenment. Sure, it gave the world many advances, but it still advocated for one faith ruling the government. And then you have to consider what Islam is today. I'd say they're going through their version of the dark ages. Except for the fact that now instead of swords they have all the nice advances of modern weaponry which makes such a period more deadly.
  6. aPPmaSTer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2004
    star 3
    The Islamic Golden Age is more like what is now called the "Renaissance" as it was the foundation for many of the scientific marvels we have today, however, in terms of "enlightenment" with regards to religion, the spread of Islam brought about the bizzare concept at the time of "freedom of religion" under the Muslim government while giving citizens equal rights :eek:
    Qur'an 88:21 So remind them: your only task is to remind, 22 you are not there to control them.

    Islam also ignited a new way of thinking, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_philosophy

    Espy, I would also have a problem with Muslim girls wearing hijab if it's not their choice, see verses above. As for the burqa, which I'm not a big fan of personally, people can wear masks anytime they want and they do; Halloween and other masquerades and parties, riding a motorcycle, skiing, playing hockey, covering faces while walking down the street in the cold winter... kind of funny how "some countries" make laws against the burqua because exactly 367 of its citizens wear it, yet the law holds no logic as with the above examples. However, my comment was not whether you have a problem with it or not, but about a very significant percentage of Christians who DO have a problem with it.

    That aside, mandating marriage, forcing people to have kids, etc. these are all things that don't exist in any religion I've heard of, but if they did, they would have to pass the test of logic and reason and have a majority vote in parliament before they could be implemented as law. They ARE making laws all over the world limiting the number of kids you can have. There ARE laws against smoking that are getting stricter every day. There are laws on fuel emission standards. But throwing away food that you bought with your own money doesn't hurt the society...

    Adultery laws already exist in the US and if indictments are rare, they are just as rare in other places where adultery is a crime. In Islam for example, Sharia dictates that you need 4 credible witnesses to have seen the act, or a sworn confession from the participants that it happened. Another funny thing about adultery in Christianity is that over the centuries the term "adultery" has come to mean cheating on your spouse... whereas the actual Hebrew term in the Bible "zana" means both fornication AND adultery, just as the Arabic Bible uses the term "zinna", which is in this case more accurate than all the English translations, and would undoubtedly change the way many Christian families raise their children these days.

    Speaking of roots of Christianity, now that Christmas is over I can show you guys this without ruining the Christmas spirit. I know Jehova's Witnesses and some Protestant groups don't celebrate Christmas because of these reasons, what about the Mormons?
  7. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    You don't seem to understand that "Muslim government" is antithetical to the very idea of freedom of religion. Yes Muslim government allowed for greater freedom of religion, but you still have government being run based on a state religion.

    And I would challenge the notion that during this Golden Age of Islam they gave "equal rights" when really they didn't, they just gave more rights than everyone else at the time.


    You created a test to determine whether something should be illegal or not based on the standard of "what hurts society." I'm not interested in the fact that some of the examples I gave currently are not considered by many religions or states to "hurt society." The point is that by the standard you've created, they can be put into effect. And it shows that your standard of "hurting society" is too broad a classification because virtually everything a person that is done for their own enjoyment rather than that of society could have a logical and rational argument for being a harm against society. If we were mindless drones that did nothing but work and pop out babies for future workers, then that would be the logical conclusion to your standard. Each Borg drone does nothing but help the collective.

    The point of all this is that we value other things besides what is best for society, or not "harming society." There are competing values, namely individuality and individual choice. But this freedom of individual choice is not absolute either, and the freedom must be circumscribed by restraints to protect society at large. So far you've made little recognition that there are other values that must compete.

    You can believe something is a sin, such as fornication, without deciding that it is a crime. Yes it hurts society, but making a law against fornication hurts individual liberty and freedom. And limiting individual liberty and freedom also hurts society because it creates resentment and reducing a respect for the law. For good governance to exist you must recognize that government cannot force everyone to abstain from sin. We are here to make choices, and have the opportunity to sin, as well as the opportunity to choose righteousness. If you remove the bad choices, then what is the point to life? If you don't value individual liberty and freedom then you are essentially

    Mormons raise their children to not have sex before marriage, as do many other devout Christians. Don't underestimate the seriousness Christians take the sin by others who choose to not do so. But you can take the sin seriously without criminalizing the sin. In the US we have many laws on the books that nobody enforces and if we were to decide today would never be put in place. Just because we haven't gone through the steps of taking them off doesn't mean there is support. If your only justification is that something hurts society, then that is insufficient unless you explain how the harm against society is greater than the harm against society's interest in freedom and liberty. I think we'd agree that the freedom of people not being forced to have children is greater than society's interest in people having them.

    Re: Christmas. Mormons don't believe December 25th was Christ's birthday or that most of the traditions have any real religious meaning, but we still celebrate it, have trees and presents and all that good stuff.
  8. aPPmaSTer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2004
    star 3
    You're talking about a civilization that prospered for over 1000 years, and in this society there were naturally problems like any other world civilization, but it was clearly a successful one given its advances in science, medicine, culture, thought, etc. If it was such a lousy system like you're suggesting, it wouldn't have lasted that long nor achieved such results. The "enlightenment" you speak of began about 200 ago and I'm quite interested to see how long it lasts before it self-destructs. You say Muslims are a threat to this system because they're using their rights of free speech to end free speech, right? So if they succeed or if you're forced to revoke their right of free speech to silence them thus saving the system, you're proving that the system is flawed.

    As for the challenge, you can watch a documentary called "The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain", I think it's a PBS production, in which they mention that new Muslim converts used to complain because they felt they had MORE rights under Islamic rule as non-Muslims than all the responsibilities they adopted when they converted.

    You're right, but there's a difference between active and passive, direct and indirect... I used a general case because I thought it would be clear, but let me make it more precise... actively and directly hurting society. This could range from throwing a chewing-gum wrapper on the street, which IS a crime in many parts of the world, to committing murder. There may be exceptions, but for the sake of our discussion, let's stick to that. If we're to say that we're harming people's freedoms and liberties by criminalizing throwing wrappers on the street, you have to keep in mind that this law came into being through a pros and cons analysis followed by a parliamentary vote. Muslims are not imbeciles to that extent that they don't even think about the laws that they're enforcing and to what extent they enforce them.

    As for sins, crimes, free will... only some some are crimes, while all crimes are sins. There is plenty of room for you to make sins without it being a crime, and there is a lot of room for you to commit crimes without getting caught. Law is there only to create order in society, not to regulate who sins and who doesn't. Well actually... "every human being sins, but the best among sinners are those who repent." -a saying of Mohammed pbuh. But you might consider asking yourself why the US is ranked first in the world in divorce rates AND most cases of cheating spouses...

    Christmas... I don't understand what the point of celebrating Christmas on December 25th is if you know that it doesn't commemorate Christ's birth and is based on pagan holidays full of very un-Christian-like customs that have been integrated into the tradition of Christmas (killing trees to use for decorations, Santa having knowledge of who's good and who's bad, kissing under the mistletoe, etc.) In Islam we avoid everything that can cause a deviation in the message of God by sticking strictly to the celebrations and practices mentioned in the Qur'an or practised by Mohammed pbuh and his companions, which include practices performed by earlier prophets. Doing anything more than that we call "bidaa" or "innovation" and they are highly discouraged and in some cases strictly forbidden.
  9. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    All crimes are sins? What is the basis for that statement?

    And promoting a two-tier system isn't justified, one way or another. Muslims and non-Muslims should have fully equal legal rights without distinction.
  10. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    Advocating for Singapore style control based on your religious ideals of what is right and wrong? Yup, no clash of civilizations here folks.

    Also, of course our system is flawed. It is not God's system or run by him. It is created and governed by men. Which is in fact no different than even "Islamic" nations, only they have problems admitting their own flaws. I don't pretend to have an easy answer to the challenge you and your ideas pose to western society. Really our only hope is to allow you to use free speech and listen to the ideas we have and convince you of the error of your ways.

    Your suspicion and disbelief in the power of individual liberty while using that very liberty to express that disbelief requires a pretty good amount of cognitive dissonance. Yesterday I was having a discussion with my brother about government support to higher education. He was opposed to greater social support even though he is a current beneficiary of it. How is it that you can both be greatly benefited by something, and then turn around and deny that benefit to others?

    I don't think the answer is to revoke your right to free speech any more than the solution to my debate with my brother is to get the government to revoke the benefits of a public education.

    I don't really get why you keep bringing up Muslim Spain and the increased freedoms they had. The Islam of that was more enlightened and more free loving than the Christians of the time. Mormon doctrine holds that they weren't being directed by God and the Pope didn't have God's authority to act in his name. It would be a bit like me harping on about how the Persian Zoroastrians were so much better than the pagan Bedouins in Mecca in 600 AD.

    Is more freedom a good thing or a bad thing? You are arguing for less freedom, so examples from the past where there was less freedom than we have today but more in comparison to groups I don't have any direct connection with just doesn't say anything to me.

    You've really shown no appreciation for the value of individual liberty as a good, and it is impossible for me to teach such a thing. I would just suggest you read the works of Western philosophers. The rule of Monarchy and the religion of the ancient Egyptians lasted several thousand years longer than Islam, if we are not going to change because a system has been around for a long time then you make a good case against democracy. Back to the Caliphate then are we?

    Re: Christmas. We aren't given a list of everything that is good or bad or what is a sin or isn't. We don't have any type of official church service on Christmas, the Sunday before or on it we usually have a special program where in my congregation the choir spends most of the type singing, and maybe a party sometime the week before, but Santa is mostly just a fun tradition for kids and we do try to emphasize the role of Christ. Basically it is up to our own judgment to not take the secular traditions too far. We have fun on Halloween as well and just don't have the same worry that people will think "trick or treat" constitutes a prayer to the devil or anything like that. And who uses real trees anymore?



  11. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I think every adult Christian knows that Christmas isn't the real birthday of Christ, that it was really sometime in the spring, and that most of the traditions come from our pagan European ancestors.

    Some very fanatic Christians believe in celebrating Christmas without any of the "pagan" traditions, but they are a very small minority.

    None of these traditions really conflict with Christianity or celebrating the birthday of Jesus, they just add to them and help include non-Christians into the celebration (whether they be pagans from 1500 years ago, or atheists and Jews and Muslims today).



    Why would these things by a deviation in the message of God? They don't insult God, or stop people from loving God or loving each other, which is the sum of all the laws.

    Why do you feel you can only celebrate whatever Mohammed celebrated? Time and generations of people have passed, new cultures have arisen and integrated, customs have changed, people become more aware of the world and each other, there's more to celebrate and there's more ways to do it.

    How can anyone think innovation be bad? How can stagnation and lack of progress be good? That doesn't make sense, how can a whole religion be against innovation?




    EDIT:

    I saw you making a point earlier, saying that Christians don't equate fornication with adultery, that they would be surprised to see that the old Hebrew word for adultery includes fornication, and that then Christian parents might parent their children differently.

    First of all, Christians DO realize that fornication is part of adultery, or at the very least do know that fornication is a sin in the Bible. It's no surprise. And in no way do any parents I know encourage, or are ok with, their kids having sex before marriage. Especially when they're still under 18. But you're right that many people don't equate or think of fornication as being as bad as adultery, because it is different in that adultery concerns breaking a specific and conscious promise you've made to another person, it's like breaking a contract, and of course it's more emotional because you're usually also breaking someone's heart. Also, while no parent I know encourages pre-marital sex, many know that it does happen and accept it may happen with their kids. S even though they're not ok with it, they mostly know and accept they don't have any control like that over their kids lives, so best they can do is to discourage it and tell them why it's an unwise choice, try to teach them how to make good choices and take care of themselves on their own; and to tell them about STD's, condoms, birth control so in case they do make that choice then they will at least be aware of what can happen and have safer sex to attempt to limit the potential negative consequences. But it is ultimately not the parents' choice.

    I hope this clears that up for you.
  12. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I'd say it's actually a quite logical position. First, you should understand that the position isn't against "innovation" in the broad sense. The objection is not that someone came up with a more fuel-efficient combustion engine for their automobile, nor that George Foreman has a way to cut the fat out of your hamburger. Rather, it's specifically against religious innovation. While I don't know the exact justification used, it's easy enough to imagine. If it is your position that a divine being reveals things about the appropriate way to live through his prophets, why would you want anything other than what identified prophets taught and did? If something did not come from the mind of God, after all, it must have come from the mind of a human, in which case it is not worth abiding by. The simplest way (though I'd argue not the only way) to be sure that you are living appropriately is to model your life and faith after that of the last known prophet whom you are certain had the divinity's approval.
  13. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    (and this is for aPPmaSTer too)

    But who says God isn't ultimately behind the changing traditions and cultures? Who's to say that God doesn't inspire people to innovate new ways of celebration, even if he doesn't speak to them directly like some believe God spoke directly to Prophets like Mohammed?

    (Personally, are you against celebrating Christmas with the Christmas tree and Santa Claus or on December 25th, J-w? If you're fine with them, then how does your opinion on including those pagan/secular traditions in Christmas reconcile with what you're saying here)

    It's not like people are innovating new religious beliefs (or goals), they're merely innovating new religious celebrations (or methods) that only add to the original beliefs. There's nothing sinful about gift-sharing or decoration, making cheer out of an otherwise gloomy winter season.

    Ultimately, didn't people like Mohammed and Jesus act creatively, and innovate new ways to think of or celebrate long-held religious beliefs? They may have added something new, but key to their success was reinventing the old in ways that appealed to their audience at that place and time. Would not following the example of Mohammed and Jesus therefore mean being innovative to make our long-held beliefs more appealing to people of our culture, of our place and time?

    Assuming that Mohammed was a divinely-inspired Prophet, then God told him how to share the appropriate way to live in that culture, and at that time. Now, of course the core beliefs would be universal, and eternal and ring true for all time and to the present day (see the important distinction I make above). But doesn't it only make sense that God would want us to adapt them to other times, to other cultures? Some methods may no longer be as appropriate under present circumstances.
  14. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    Not only would that be a false dichotomy, but the conclusion is doesn't follow the precedent.
  15. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Vivec: You're right. It was a rushed post, so I conflated a few things for brevity's sake. However, a more stable construction still validates my point. If you're interest is in following the edicts of God, then your sole interest should be in things that are verifiably from God. At best, things that don't fall into this category would be of neutral value.

    Ghost: I think a person of faith would respond that prophets who were divinely inspired "succeeded" because of their divine inspiration. Or that, perhaps more insightfully, as cases like the prophet Jeremiah teach us, "success" in terms of winning a great number of adherents to your message isn't really the point in the first place. Instead, it is to faithfully and unerringly deliver the message you were given.

    On the question of Christmas, I do not personally, but neither do I get terribly overwrought if someone chooses to engage in any of that. I think that, ideally, only core teachings would ever be taught or replicated. However, I also find it inevitable and ultimately not harmful that some level of idiosyncratic practices also arise. I therefore don't adhere to tight originalism, not finding the idiosyncrasies of particular prophets anymore valuable than those of later generations. However, I do think they are trying to guard against something important, which is elevation of non-"inspired" practices/teachings to a central position within the faith. I could highlight any number of teachings that seemed to emerge this way, and Jesus himself identified and denounced the practice. Therefore, I think it both reasonable necessary to guard against it, though reasonable people will disagree about what preventative measures are appropriate.
  16. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Actually, "reedom of religion" as you describe it here wasn't a new concept at that time. The Romans actually had the same freedom of religion long before Islam came along. They allowed conquered nations to retain their own religions and religious calendars as a general policy, and only intervened in religious matters when it posed a direct threat to the authority of Roman (i.e. when religion was being used to foster rebellion). Such policies lasted until around AD 375, as Rome was on its path to collapse.

    Kimball Kinnison
  17. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I'd disagree, Kimball. He didn't say that this was the first time the idea had ever sprang up in human history. It's been rather cyclic, with for instance the Persian Empire under Cyrus winning plaudits for their religious tolerance long before Rome was even a republic. What he said was that the idea was "radical at the time." On that score, I'd judge him correct. The privileges extended to religious minorities in the Muslim caliphates during the Middle Ages were a unique feature of their governance not replicated by contemporary polities.
  18. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    They didn't "succeed" because of divine inspiration alone. There is a reason why the words of ancient prophets, like Jeremiah, survive for thousands of years. They may have usually been unpopular at the time, but obviously they won some following, or else their works wouldn't have survived for so long. Besides, the message is almost always the same, to turn back to God and his laws before it's too late. It also doesn't mean prophets like Jeremiah (or Jesus or Mohammed) had no freedom to innovate or be creative in how they were to deliver that message, like Jesus choosing to creatively deliver different morals with his parables, a much more effective way than just blurting out religious truths it seems. I'm not saying that humans should innovate to change the core beliefs or the message, like my distinction above, I'm saying it makes no sense that it should be wrong to innovate new ways/methods of celebrating their religion. Like decorating a tree and swapping gifts on December 25th as part of the celebration of Christ's birth. Also, if you look at the New Testament, most of the epistles are addressed to a certain audience (to the Romans, to the Galateans, etc.) and in order to address specific moral deficiencies in that community. So some religious customs should be open to change, since our society has greatly changed, as long as we stay true to the eternal truths at the core of the religion.
  19. aPPmaSTer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2004
    star 3
    When part of the "religious ideals" is not to force non-members of your faith to abide by those religious ideals, then a two-tier system is only logical. Not only is it logical, but it proved to be successful for centuries. Perhaps it's not the ideal system for the 21st century, but historically-wise it did its job. You still didn't tell me why you think the US has the highest divorce rate, etc. in the world...

    Good luck.

    I'm not at all against individual liberty, but there is a limit to how much liberty a person can have in order to have a just and healthy society. What is the point of LAW if we just can all just trust and depend on the individual liberties of others?

    Easy. There is a difference between individual cases and global norms. Perhaps your brother is looking out for what he perceives as the greater good instead of his own personal benefit...

    Not just Spain, but the Islamic civilization at that time as a whole. And the reason I brought it up is because you suggested that non-Muslims had less rights than Muslims under Sharia and I'm giving you a historical example that that simply wasn't and isn't true. So you're saying that the Christians at that time, including the infallible Pope, were ignoring their doctrine and the tenets of their faith by doing what they were doing to the non-Christians in Spain?

    That's a very broad question, but ultimately it depends on the circumstances, the current level of freedom and its impact on society, and taking historical data into consideration is also not a bad idea.

    If you define democracy as a governing system in which the people choose their leaders, then the Islamic system is a democratic one thus I am not against democracy.

    As for Christmas, the traditions we're talking about are not secular as much as they are pagan in origin. Most Muslims themselves, who are against "religious innovations" and not simply "innovations" as Jabba-wocky pointed out, have no problem practising secular things like Mother's Day, Father's Day, Labour Day, etc. since they do not "innovate" something new into religion, but copying pagan traditions and incorporating them into what the public perceives as religious creed is something that changes the core of the religion. If you ask anyone anywhere in the world to name two Christian holidays, they would say Christmas and Easter. Neither of which were taught by Jesus or the Apostles. Do the same for Islam and anyone will tell you Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, but in this case both of which were practised and taught by Mohammed pbuh. There is also the tradition of celebrating the birthday of Mohammed pbuh in some places, but the majority of Muslims nowadays have stopped that because the prophet himself never did that nor did his companions after he died so it's what we call a "religious innovation" or "bidaa". So you might say, "what's wrong with celebrating his birthday?" and at a glance maybe nothing, but when you consider other factors you might see the wisdom of it not being celebrated in the early days. Perhaps God wants us to celebrate all His prophets equally and not different
  20. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Except is there not a difference between the origin of traditions and the symbolism people attach to them?

    For example, consider a Christmas tree. Bringing an evergreen tree inside the home bears many similarities to the pagan practice of cutting boughs of evergreen branches to celebrate the winter solstice.

    However, according to many Christians, an evergreen tree represents many important things. It is symbolic of the Tree of Life. The way it maintains its leaves during the winter represents Christ's victory over death. Placing a star on top represents the start of Bethlehem. The list of symbols goes on and on.

    Now, if I as a Christian attach the latter symbolism to it, then what does it matter whether or not the first Christmas trees were inspired by a pagan practice. My actions are not done as a pagan offering, they are reminders to me of Christ's birth and later Atonement.

    Or consider the cross. According to some sources, crosses were worshiped in Egypt as a symbol of the Sun God for hundreds of years before Christ's time. And yet, to Christians, it is a symbol of Christ's crucifixion and suffering for our sins. Does the fact that ancient Egyptians worshiped a cross invalidate the symbolism that modern Christians attach to the cross?

    It's no different than any other symbol. Symbols are powerful not through some objective measure, but because of the meaning that each individual gives to them. To a Jew, a swastika is a symbol of hatred, oppression, and murder. To a follower of Jainism, it is a powerful symbol of their religion. To others, it is a symbol of luck (in fact, the word itself derives from the Sanskrit word for luck). The only meaning to the symbol is what each individual gives to it.

    Kimball Kinnison
  21. aPPmaSTer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2004
    star 3
    I think this is where our two faiths differ. To me it doesn't seem logical that man can invent a better way to worship or celebrate God than what God Himself has taught man through His messengers and prophets. If you have complete faith in God, you will accept His message for what it is, you will accept its timelessness, and you will do your utmost best to learn it and preserve it. The more man adds to it, or the more make-up he puts on it if you will, the less it becomes "of God" and eventually just becomes a man-made religion, full of nonsensical traditions being passed down from one generation to the next. Some of those could be positive, while others could prove to be very negative after a generation or two.

    As for symbolism, you're absolutely right that it can mean what you want it to mean, but you also have to look at how that symbolism on a large scale affects society... a society in which a lot of people simply don't have the time or interest to understand things deeper than their face value. For example, Islam is represented by the star and crescent symbol, right? I think the majority of people including Muslims would say "right". But it's wrong. The star and crescent are symbols of the Ottoman Empire which as I understand they adopted from the Byzantines. Early Muslims didn't have any symbols, when they went to war they carried random coloured flags and would sometimes write the words "There is no god but God and Mohammed is the messenger of God". The star and crescent didn't appear until many centuries later. But is it a bad thing? Nobody can know for sure, but what we do know for sure is that it's something that is "not of God". But anyway I'm against religious symbolism of any kind in mixed societies as it stirs up religious tension...

    By the way, what I've read about the Christian symbolism you mentioned is that the Christmas tree was first called the Yule tree, and it originated in Germania where people would hide inside from the cold while celebrating Yule and the tree would be a symbol of hope for the coming spring. They had a tradition where their god Odin would ride his horse through the sky, and children would leave food for his horse in shoes and socks by their fireplaces, which the horse would eat the food and Odin would leave them presents in its place. Odin also looks exactly like Santa Claus in many representations. As for Christmas ornaments, the Germanians would put little statues of their gods on the trees, which Christians later substituted with apples.
  22. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    aPPmaSTer, you didn't respond to most of my points, I was looking forward to hearing your response. I really do want to understand Islam better. I'm a Christian but I've studied most of the world's major religions, but the one I still don't have a firm and comfortable understanding of is Islam. I hope my posts didn't offend you, I just really didn't understand what you meant, I hope I presented my points clearly enough...

    I was also hoping to ask you other things about Islam, once we moved on from that, if you don't mind.
  23. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    At the same time, God recognizes that everyone is different, and learns differently. Some people are visual learners, others are audio learners, and still others learn best by reading. One of the great things about symbolism is that it offers something for everyone to learn from, according to how they learn best.

    Consider how Jesus taught in parables. Depending on how different people count them, the New Testament gives between 33 and 60 parables of Jesus. However, does that mean that a Christian can't create other parables to help explain different teachings? They may not understand one of the parables that Jesus taught, but would relate to one that someone else made up illustrating the same point.

    Isn't that a form of religious innovation? Just because the principles or doctrines that a religion teaches are timeless doesn't mean that you cannot seek new ways to help others understand them, or relate them to their lives.

    But none of that matters to someone who doesn't know some or all of that history, and who attaches their own symbolism to each of those items. Whether or not a Christmas tree was originally a Yule tree is irrelevant to someone who is using it to celebrate Christ's birth. If they derive meaning from the symbol, then it's really not up to you or anyone else to tell them that it means something different.

    Kimball Kinnison
  24. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    [image=http://www.atheistcartoons.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/truckstop.jpg]
  25. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I to a large extent agree with Kimball here, although with the limit that I think someone has to be somewhat away of the context of the symbolism when it comes to others, but that they can have personal symbolism for themselves that one can't argue doesn't exist since it's the significance that someone attaches to it themselves.


    I'd also say I don't see any reason why the mere presence of religious symbols would create tension, certainly not at any level that would lead to causing those tensions stronger than religious practices do.