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

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

  1. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Depends on your faith and your definition of love, but at least we agree love is the prime mover in human lives.

    We agree on something! :D :p

    Why can't people believe in something as long as it hasn't been proven as false? This is what I don't understand.

    If some Ancient Egyptian said thousands of years ago, without any proof, that he believed the Sun was just the closest star, the Earth goes around the Sun along with the other planets, and the Earth is a globe... and you lived in that time... would you have dismissed him completely? Yeah, you wouldn't have any reason to believe him, but you don't have any reason to dismiss him either.

    It just seems like this attitude keeps people close-minded, instead of open-minded. That's how it looks from my point of view, anyways.

    It's fine that people choose to be atheist, and (though I think it's close-minded) it's fine if people need something proven true before they believe it. But it sounds bad when people say they have a problem with other people not having their same philosophy of "if it's not proven true, then no one should believe it." Do you see why that just looks bad? I wish we could just come to an agreement with all atheists, where they say "I won't believe in anything unless it's demonstrated to be true and that's why I don't believe in God, but since the existence of God isn't demonstrated to be false either then I can see why a lot of people still believe in God and that's OK with me, even though I disagree with that loose approach to accepting the unconfirmed based on subjective experiences and evidence that doesn't add up to proof."

    I have a big problem with social conservatives trying to write their beliefs into law too, I'm a big supporter of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. But that's a political problem, not a reason why people shouldn't believe in God, I'm not sure how this connects with your argument. I'm pretty sure that the social conservatives would still be trying to outlaw gay marriage and abortion even if they were a
  2. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    As already shown, Jesus is NOT "a demigod born in the typical way demigods are often born."

    And it's fine for the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to acknowledge each other, because they are different persons. They do all share the same essence of God. The leaves of my neighbor's tree can be green, the grass of my lawn can be green, and my shirt can be green, but that doesn't mean my shirt is the grass on my lawn.
    God = Father
    God = Son
    God = Holy Spirit
    Father =/= Son
    Son =/= Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit =/= Father


    And your argument with Jabba-wocky that angels are god because they're powerful and not supposed to be worshipped is just silly. Are you really believing in your own arguments?

    And I don't get why you keep saying Catholic/Orthodox Christians are pantheists? Pantheism is saying God is nature, there's none of that in the Catholic/Orthodox churches. And while the early Church did adapt some superficial customs and traditions of the Roman and Germanic peoples, none of it really changed the core of Christianity.


    I explained the Trinity, based on what Aquinas has written on the subject, which is accepted by many Catholics and Protestants. Not all truth has to be contained in the Bible, God gave us the ability to reason. And it is based in the Biblical canon, and doesn't contradict it.

    "The plain meaning of biblical text" does point to what I wrote, too. Aquinas didn't say "otherwise," he elaborated on what was already there.


    Jabbadabbado, please read the six Biblical passages below, I took some time to find many relevant passages:


    Gospel of John, Chapter 1

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

    6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

    9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God? 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband?s will, but born of God.

    14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and tru
  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    That's not my argument. 1. Yahweh forbids his followers from worshiping other gods. 2. Yahweh forbids his followers from worshiping angels. It doesn't follow logically that angels are not gods. It may mean that they belong to the category of gods that Yahweh forbids his followers from worshiping.

    Maybe your argument then is that although angels may be gods, they don't, strictly speaking, belong to the Christian pantheon, just as Baal doesn't belong, because Yahweh has excluded him from the pantheon. Nevertheless, as is amply demonstrated in devotional institutions worldwide, many Christians still seem to worship angels.
  4. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Depends on your faith and your definition of love, but at least we agree love is the prime mover in human lives.

    It doesn't depend on faith or definitions. Reality is what it is regardless of our personal convictions.

    Why can't people believe in something as long as it hasn't been proven as false? This is what I don't understand.

    Because it's insane. It's literally considered a sign of insanity when the non-evidence-based belief is only held by one person.

    Cribbing from Carl Sagan, who I'm fairly confident you haven't read, if I tell you that there's a fire-breathing dragon living in my garage, but he's invisible, non-corporeal, floating, and the fire he breathes gives off neither heat nor light -- what would you think about that? It hasn't been proven false. It could never be proven false. Should I believe that? Is it sensible for me to believe that?

    If I made that claim in all sincerity, you would question my sanity. If you wouldn't, I would question yours.

    Another reason it's bad to accept all non-falsified beliefs as equally valid is that it gives us no means to distill the ones that are actually valid from the ones that aren't. If we say instead that we should only accept claims that meet a certain standard of evidence before believing them, then we are able to separate the wheat from the chaff and get to actual, useful understandings of the universe and not just the easy answers that make us feel warm and fuzzy and don't tax our minds too heavily.

    If something has not been proven true to some reasonable degree, then it can safely be considered proven false for all intents and purposes, until more information comes to light.

    If some Ancient Egyptian said thousands of years ago, without any proof, that he believed the Sun was just the closest star, the Earth goes around the Sun along with the other planets, and the Earth is a globe... and you lived in that time... would you have dismissed him completely? Yeah, you wouldn't have any reason to believe him, but you don't have any reason to dismiss him either.

    I have every reason to dismiss him because the rule is that if you don't have evidence, you get dismissed until you do. And then, once you do, it's accepted and if your feelings were very hurt perhaps you may even warrant an apology, and we move forward from there.

    This is a very poor analogy to supernatural claims. Whether or not I believe him that the Sun is just another star, what is observable is that the Sun and stars clearly exist. Debating their nature is valid once their existence is established. Debating the nature of god(s) is not valid because their existence is not.

    As for the earth being a globe, what is his basis for that? If he's just saying it because he pulled it out of his butt one day, then without knowing any better I have no way of determining whether its true shape is a sphere, disc, cone, cube, or the Eye of Ra. The fact that he later turns out to have made a lucky guess doesn't change the fact that he had no reasonable basis for his assertion and, lacking such a basis, no practical means of applying it anyway, and yes, were I of the same sensibility as now, I would dismiss his claims until he could back them up.

    It just seems like this attitude keeps people close-minded, instead of open-minded. That's how it looks from my point of view, anyways.

    I don't like playing the "watch this video on YouTube" card, but you really should watch this video on YouTube on the subject of closed-vs-open-mindedness. I could write out a response here, but it would not be very much different than the content of the video, and since it's an audio-visual presentation it's more convenient and less wearying than reading a wall of text would be.

    The summary is that my position is in fact the very opposite of closed-minded, because my mind can be changed. I've laid out in very clear terms the process for changing my mind
  5. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I need to open with an apology. In your previous post, I somehow in my reading omitted the word "a." Therefore, I read your sentence as "all the powers of [G]od." That explains the tact of my last post. But onward.

    What does most of this mean, though? We can't really analyze how any of this operates. You assume that they have these abilities in innately. In fact, how are we to know that it isn't miraculous? To illustrate, Moses once parted a sea, and Elijah called down fire from the sky, but neither of those are within the normal realm of human ability. They were one time events specifically enabled by god to fulfill a specific purpose. Is it at all clear that the examples you are citing aren't similar? There's no way to tell.

    There are other ways in which there different, from gods, too. You keep phrasing things as "God won't allow their worship." That's a gross simplification of what's happening, and glosses over a key piece of evidence. Angels don't merely forbid humans from worshiping them. They describe their own role. On every single occasion where this occurs, they deny their own divinity. That's extraordinary. Your theory that angels are gods requires them to be pathological liars about the subject. Might it not make more sense to concede that perhaps, as they always describe, they are not in fact deities?

    I know you understand it, but the way you make your arguments don't really reflect that. For instance, you commented that virtually anywhere in the country, you'd be in walking distance of churches "filled with angelic iconography?" Really? Because, in the first place, most Protestant branches don't feature a great deal of church art anymore, for a variety of reasons (increasing literacy decreases the former utility in helping communicate stories, evolving aesthetic preferences, the historic role of iconoclasm in Protestant beliefs, etc). And in those that do, most depict angels incidental to other scenes being portrayed, like the birth of Jesus. I feel like a more honest/accurate statement might have been "I can walk to a number of Catholic or Orthodox churches with abundant angelic iconography." Which is a valid point about those particular denominations, but doesn't really weigh on the question of whether Christianity is, at it's root "polytheistic" or what the orientation of the religion as a whole is towards angels.

    In what way is this a good argument? This only makes sense if you assume the angel was making some tight distinction between God and Jesus. In fact, equivalence between the two is drawn throughout the New Testament, and is perhaps the most common of all features in Christianity. To suggest that this somehow represents a failure to endorse Jesus's divinity is a highly selective reading, and in fact only functions that way if you read that single sentence in isolation, already under the assumption that Jesus is not divine. Which is how many of your arguments in this thread have worked. The mere fact that you can read something as not directly inconsistent with your theories doesn't make it a good argument. That would require both A)providing evidence that actually supports your theories, rather than being indifferent to them and B)providing strong rationalizations to things that contradict it.

  6. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    DorkmanScott, I'll respond to your post later. Preview: some parts I disagree, some parts I still don't understand, some parts you misunderstood me. PM me in a few days if I forget.

    All Biblical evidence is to the contrary of your insistence that angels are gods. Nowhere does an angel ever seek worship, or claim they have power that does not come from God. The Bible even makes clear that the Dragon of Revelation derives his power from God, even though he uses it to rebel against God.

    And there is not a single Christian church or denomination I know that worships angels. Either now, or in all the history of the Church, and that includes all the branches of Catholicism/Orthodoxism/Protestantism/Mormonism/etc. Yeah, Catholic and Orthodox churches have art and sculptures of Angels... they also have art and sculptures of the Wise Men, Shepards, Animals, etc. No Catholic I know of has every "worshipped" an Angel.


    But what I really wanted to hear back from you about was those 6 Biblical passages. Are you backing off from your earlier claims that nowhere in the Bible does it say Jesus is God, and that my description of Aquinas's beliefs about "God living in Jesus and in us, us living in Jesus and in God, the primary importance of love in all that, etc." were not from the Bible?
  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Angels are spirits of divine origin with immense godlike powers. Where do they deny this? There's no way to tell that God makes a clear distinction between humans and divine spirits? "And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back."

    There's a real possibility that in the Hebrew origins of Judaism Yahweh was one of many gods, the one tasked with oversight of Israel and that he was simply a higher order of the same class of beings as angels, or merely their chief. Monotheism is likely a relatively belated addition to the religions that coalesced into modern forms of Judaism.


    Of course not. You yourself believe that much of the bible is allegorical. Which parts? Fundamentally, of course, every Christian believes in practice that parts of the bible are allegorical. The bible speaks of the power of text. It must, because it has to authorize itself as sole authority for its authorization of what Christians are supposed to think about their religion.

    In the beginning was the Word. - the word of God as authorized through the text of the old and new testaments. Ancient humans recognized the magical power of language, the power of the word and godlike powers are virtually synonymous. The new testament must include the story of how the words contained in it become authoritative. The story of Jesus is in part an update of the story of Moses. Moses literally brings the word of god to the chosen people. Jesus brings a new updated edition to the chosen people. "The word becomes flesh and dwells among us." Jesus uses "knowing Jesus" as a trope for knowing the word of God.

    If you understand Jesus's death as a metaphor for the difficulty of conveying the message of God, then you lose all polytheistic nonsense of God sending himself as a human sacrifice to himself to appease himself and attain forgiveness from himself for the sins of the world. Understanding the Jesus birth and death mythology as an effort to convey the difficulty of following Jesus's revolutionary humanization of the ten commandments: do unto others, turn the other cheek, love your neighbor etc. That's the heart of the new testament, the message of love without which Christianity is the useless creation of an extra god or more. It is the only way to come even remotely close to creating an internally consistent whole out of the new testament. Part of the mess may come from the redactive efforts that focused too wholeheartedly on Jesus's divinity at the expense of the Word of God.

    "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." This directly translates into: following Jesus's message of radical humanitarianism is difficult and dangerous. The love for fellow humans that Jesus demands is so much harder than an irrelevant belief in his divinity. So let us try to love each other, for love comes from God. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. And Jesus presents as the ultimate example of a human living the word of God in the form of radical fellow love: love your neighbor as you love yourself. We must strive to follow this example, because without love we are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Of faith, hope and love, the greatest is love.

    The Aquinas conception of the holy trinity is a diversion from this straightforward message.

    Jesus is mythology. At some point between 70 and, say 400 AD, the divinity story
  8. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Jabbadabbado, if you want to say those Bible passages are allegorical, go ahead. I disagree, I do believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation (which along with the Atonement, Jesus' life, and Jesus' teachings make up what I think are the 5 essential components of Christianity). I don't think Aquinas' description of how the Trinity is co-dependentand One God takes away from the Biblical message of love and monotheism. Even if you think the Biblical passages supporting the Trinity and Incarnation are allegorical, you can't say that there is no support for that interpretation in the Bible.





    DorkmanScott

    (I'll number it to make it better to read)




    1.

    It doesn't depend on faith or definitions. Reality is what it is regardless of our personal convictions.


    No, if you believe love is transcendent, then love could be the prime mover in the universe.

    Or you could accept a broader definition of love. Someone could define love as "the nature to expand and seek balance while remaining connected and binded by attraction." That broad definition of love would include gravity and entropy on the scale of the universe, or apply to the tendency of life to expand while finding balance and interconnecting with other organisms and the natural environment, or apply to a human couple that's romantically involved in a "true love isn't about attachment and looking at each other, but looking forward in the same direction" kind of way. That broader definition took me 5 minutes to think up.



    2.

    <<Why can't people believe in something as long as it hasn't been proven as false? This is what I don't understand.>>

    Because it's insane. It's literally considered a sign of insanity when the non-evidence-based belief is only held by one person.


    Nonsense, people believe in things without proof in their everyday life all the time. Your mom says she's going to the grocery story... do you believe she's going to the grocery store, or since there's no proof she's going to the grocery store does your mind run through every single possibility? Many everyday beliefs depend on trust/faith/confidence, not proof.

    Or to go back to my point on how it's ok to let others believe in something not proven true or false, here's another example. There's no proof that you're not dreaming right now, and everything happening around you is all in your mind. Since it's not proven either true or false (and there's no way you can), if you consistently follow your argument then you should treat all this as being unreal and in your mind.

    Or how about another example. When you go to bed tonight, you don't know if you'll wake up in the morning. A thousand things could kill you as you sleep, from some kind of lethal gas you can't see or smell or feel from leaking into your bedroom, or an airplane from crashing into your house, or having a heart attack in your sleep, etc. But do you go to bed thinking, "I don't have anything that could prove true or false that I will live to the morning, and in the absence of any proof either way, then if I follow my argument consistently, I should not assume/believe/trust that I will live to the morning." Because that sounds unreasonable to me.

    If you lack certainty/proof then it shouldn't mean that you have to be uncertain or you have to always choose to not believe the thing that's uncertain/unproven... I'm saying that you should be able to believe what you want (as long as it hasn't been proven wrong), knowing you could be wrong and having an open mind.




    3.

    Cribbing from Carl Sagan, who I'm fairly confident you haven't read, if I tell you that there's a fire-breathing dragon living in my garage, but he's invisible, non-corporeal, floating, and the fire he breathes gives off neither heat nor light -- what would you think about that? It hasn't been proven false. It could never be proven false. Should I believe that? Is it sensible for me to believe that?


    I haven't read Carl Sagan, just watched some of his videos, back in el/>
  9. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    The most obvious place to start would be the verse you yourself quoted. How do they think of themselves? "I am thy fellowservant and of thy brethren." The angel equates itself with human believers. That's decidedly not a claim of a being that thinks itself in the way you describe.

  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Angels--the speculation about their powers is fun. Again if you insist on constraining the definition of divine supernatural beings to those who demand worship and constraining the definition of worship to "intentional falling at the feet of and direct prayer to" -- and I can see that you and Darth-Ghost believe you absolutely have to do this to remove angels from the Christian pantheon-- then we can agree that we are using different definitions of terms.

    I like the Bahai definition:

    Ye are the angels, if your feet be firm, your spirits rejoiced, your secret thoughts pure, your eyes consoled, your ears opened, your breasts dilated with joy, and your souls gladdened, and if you arise to assist the Covenant, to resist dissension and to be attracted to the Effulgence! Verily, I say unto you that the Word of God has assuredly been explained and has become an evident sign and a strong and solid proof, and its traces shall be spread in the East and West, and to these all heads shall bow and all souls shall submit and kneel down with their faces to the ground.


    An angel is a human who has come to understand the word of God. Now there's a definition!

    Lol, that's an entirely accurate statement, but my point wasn't really to save Darth-Ghost's passages from supernaturalism--I know that's a failed effort from the start--but rather to find a reading that saves it from polytheism. I didn't find any evidence in the passages he provided for the holy trinity. What's there is a straightforward presentation of the importance of God's word as presented by Jesus with radical love as its critical, irreducible element.

    The conception of the trinity is like my own yearnings for an atheistic Christianity: wishing doesn't make it so.

    As to the many resemblances of the Jesus birth myth to god and demigod birth stories of various mythologies, I understand that Christians are constitutionally required to deny any connection. I understand there are cosmetic differences between the various mythologies. Zeus is attracted by a woman's near-divine beauty and rapes her in swan form. Yahweh lusts after a woman's virginal purity and descends on her as a misty spirit, spraying her lightly with his god seed.

    I am indeed completely ignorant of the "clear antecedents in jewish thought and religion," but I'm ready to learn about them and their origins.

    Go back far enough and the traditions that became Judaism merge with other polytheistic traditions in the cradle of civilization. Angels for example may merely be a reference to the many Elohim populating that world's subcultures. My ignorance on this subject really does run deep.
  11. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Really?

    How about the following, taken from my passages above (and if some are repeating, the text is repeating to make the point clear, not me):


    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

    14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

    ...

    7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.

    Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.

    I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me

    it is the Father, living in me

    I am in the Father and the Father is in me
    ...

    16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever? 17 the Spirit of truth.

    for he lives with you and will be in you.

    Because I live, you also will live.

    I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

    26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

    ...

    Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

    that they may be one as we are one.

    I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us

    22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one? 23 I in them and you in me?so that they may be brought to complete unity

    the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them

    ...

    7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

    13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

    God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.



    Uhh, no. You totally misrepresent the story of the Anunciation, which I directly quoted earlier from the Bible. And I feel like I'd be repeating myself yet again to explain the only superficial similarities between Jesus and the demigods from ancient polytheistic religions. I'm confident Jabba-wocky will give you a much more detailed reply, but you really should re-r
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The only one of those passages on point is John 1:18, but I don't particularly like that translation. The King James Version is better: No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

    "No one has seen God, but Jesus, his son, now dead, gave us insight into his nature."

    Darth-Ghost, it seems to me the case you're trying to make breaks heavily in favor of polytheistic Christianity.
  13. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Parephrasing now...
    The Word (Jesus) is God, the Word is the Son who existed from the very beginning, the Word became flesh. The Son is God, and in closest relationship with the Father. The one and only Son, who is himself God. Jesus is in the Father, the Father is in Jesus, those who saw Jesus saw the Father. They are one, and those who love may be one in them and them in those who love. Father and Son are one, complete unity. Jesus is the Son, God lives in him, and we may live in God through him...

    None of that suggests your secular interpretation of Christianity, or polytheism. The theology is clear... one God, who exists in not only the Father but also the Son and Holy Spirit, and that God also lives in humans who love, which was Jesus' main teaching. (And to get back to my earlier, earlier post, Aquinas then just elaborates on this with a description that explains how this could be, which I like, and most Catholics/Protestants believe in.)
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    It's not a secular interpretation at all. It's the only interpretation that allows for Christianity to be considered monotheistic. The trinity is as dorkman points out a bottomless pit of self-contradiction and not supported by the text you cite. The monotheistic options are as follows: 1. Jesus is the son of God but not divine. 2. Jesus is allegorically the son of God as the sanctioned messenger of God's word and as we are all God's children. 3. Jesus is co-head of the Christian pantheon. None of these are secular interpretations.

    Here is my secular interpretation, but you already know this:

    It's all nonsense, but I happen to like the new testament message of radical love as presented in some of the passages you cite. I'm nostalgic and homesick for the nearly extinct mainline progressive protestant denominations of my youth that took this approach to Christianity. The counter-Reformation that killed them has reduced Christianity as widely practiced in the U.S. to a "tale told by an idiot."

    That was my whole point about Bahaism from the other thread: it is a religion that captures the essence of the best messages of Christianity and strips away much of the garbage. It is the sole heir to the lost progressive protestant traditions, though it arrived from elsewhere. I am happy that the Bahai Faith is there to mitigate my ill temper about the place of religion in the modern world, and I'm sorry it's not big enough to have a real impact.
  15. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    This was pretty flippant, especially given that I already addressed this particular line of thought at length. I won't spend the time retyping it. But, to be brief, saying "Yahweh lusts after virginal purity" is one of the greatest conceivable misreadings. It really does go against the grain of everything suggested by the text itself about the event and it's significance. This sort of "analysis" suggests that, contrary to your assertion, your not really trying to understand anything. Your imposing your preconceived, foreign notions of what you think it should mean, regardless of what is actually on the page.
  16. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Flippant maybe; a gross misreading? Not so much. Even if there was a deliberate effort to erase hints of direct sexuality from the Jesus birth myth in order for early Christian evangelists to make their religion distinct from Greek and Roman pantheistic religions, the parallels remain strong. The hidden and fragmentary record of the construction of the gospels into the second century and the finalization of the new testament canon in the fourth make the process impossible to trace.

    But there's a leap between the language of the gospels in Matthew and Luke, where the undercurrent of sexuality is still visible, particularly in Luke. Not until the Nicene Creed is the sexuality extra-textually stripped out of Luke and the holy trinity paradox permanently embedded in the religion.

    But there's no particular reason not to view the Nicene Creed as 100% heretical.
  17. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Yes, it is supported. You have not yet shown how the passages I quoted cannot support that Christianity can be both trinitarian and monotheistic. You've only shown how it could also be interpreted to not support that Christiany is both trinitarian and monotheistic, which I disagree with and would argue further, but you have the right to believe that interpretation, the problem I have is you cannot admit the Bible can be interpreted to support a trinitarian monotheism.

    There's still many Christian churches like that out there, you just need to look. And yes, I too like the Baha'i Faith, it is very refreshing and I admire it, even if I don't agree with everything and remain a Christian. There's good in every religion, but it shines very brightly in the Baha'i.
  18. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    It's just a simple problem that trinitarian monotheism can't be made to make sense, and it is a belated and problematic addition to Christianity, documented no earlier than the fourth century. If monotheism is worth supporting, then the trinitarian interpretation of the bible, which in any case is based on a weak misreading of the text, must be rejected.
  19. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    What "parallels" do you mean? You keep referring to how striking, and powerful, and obvious they are, and yet you've never been able to articulate even a single sentence of this supposedly robust connection. Show your cards.

    In the Greco-Roman religions, deities taking the form of humans was one of the many ways in which the commonality between divine and human impulses/thoughts/desires was underlined. By contrast, in Christianity, the incarnation of Jesus drives home exactly the opposite point. It is repeatedly noted how alien and distant the two are. It was called a "mystery of godliness" that "God was manifest in the flesh." Or again, at greater length, Jesus is called the one who the apostles had "have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled." In yet another passage, it notes "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world [. . .] the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus" hath abounded unto many. I could go on, but in each of the quotations I've made (all of which dating from epistles written between 50-100 AD per scholarly consensus) the idea of God incarnated as flesh was quite firmly established in the early Church, appearing in what are literally it's first known writings.

    While not commented on as early, the particulars of Mary's story also have strong precedent. Consider Judaism's long history of producing prophetically important figures through miraculous pregnancies. Sarah's post-menopausal carriage of Isaac, Hannah's pregnancy with Samuel after long infertility (having tried for years without any form of contraception, she certainly meets any modern clinical definition), and Sampson's birth to Manoah's wife. In none of these accounts is there a sexual undercurrent in the interaction between God and the women. It rather stresses the special importance of the children in question to a divine plan for the fate of humanity. Jesus fits seamlessly into this pattern.

    The idea that these concept were rewritten interpolations is silly. They have demonstrable lineage within early Christianity in particular, as well as from the Jewish faith from which it emerged. There's no reason a believer in, say, the Roman state religion would've found anything familiar in all of this. Your argument only works on the extremely crude and plainly false notion that all accounts of a deity interacting as a human must necessarily have been borrowed, as if it were somehow impossible for it to emerge sui generis.
  20. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    That's quite a bold statement that a Roman would hear a story about a God impregnating a virgin and find no point of similarity.
  21. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Are we to assume, then, that you are hanging your whole argument on an alleged sex act that texts themselves never mention, and which we have no reason to suspect would have been needed?

    Those WMDs are probably still in Iraq, too. We might find them some day!
  22. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Apologies for a double-post, but it's worth going a bit further. Your whole theory is wrong-headed. You keep acting like the gospels are the "real" Christianity and the stuff about Jesus's divinity (and humanity) were somehow tacked on to attract polytheists. That's plainly backwards. The earliest Christian writings were not the gospels, but the epistles. In those epistles, a clear theme that emerges is that Christianity is actually about Jesus's identity as both divine and human. That's the center of the religion. It wasn't something tacked on, it was the single defining element that differentiated this from Judaism. You don't--can't?--even address this point seriously. I see no reason to give your theories credence until you do.

    Speaking of which, your theory also doesn't make sense. Both Roman and Jewish contemporary writers are pretty clear about how widely divergent the two religions were. The two misunderstood each other, often times violently, as Josephus so assiduously records. This is in spite of all the supposed "polytheistic" elements of Judaism you keep claiming someone from a polytheist religion would recognize. Why? Because, as I and Ghost have argued continuously, the similarities you are describing are hugely superficial, and wouldn't be experientially significant for an adherent of either religion. Which does not even begin to touch the point of how odd it would be for a Jewish sect with largely Jewish membership to build something to embrace polytheism at one of the times it was most strenuously reacted against by Jews at any point in history.

    I don't like to speculate about what girds your viewpoint. But you've offered thoughts that we're "blinded" to similarity by our religiosity. May I suggest in return that you are blinded to the actual experience of religion by your own impression that it's just a collection of fairy tales. No one really experiences it that way. Certainly the Jews and Romans of the first century largely did not. So if that's all you chose to rest your arguments on, you have no foundation at all.
  23. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Yes, trinitarian monotheism can make sense. You just refuse to see it. It is not belated (it's right there in the text I quoted) and it's not problematic.

    God is one essence, three spiritual persons (one of which is the Son who was incarnated as Jesus Christ, one of which dwells within all who love as the Holy Spirit, and one of which is beyond space and time known as the Father).
    * Father = God . . . Son = God . . . Holy Spirit = God
    * Father =/= Son =/= Holy Spirit

    To again use an example:
    * Leaf = Green . . . Grass = Green . . . Emerald = Green
    * Leaf =/= Grass =/= Emerald

    Again, God is one essence (Monotheism), and God is three spiritual persons (Trinity).

    If you don't get this, then that's your problem. But you can't say that because you don't understand it then it can't be true... that would be like a guy saying the earth going around the sun can't be true because it doesn't make sense to him.
  24. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I don't get it either.
    What do you mean with 'essence'?

    To be honest, it sounds like a term made up to explain this issue away.

    And also, if this is true: Father =/= Son =/= Holy Spirit, then what was the deal before Jesus was born?

    Lastly, if you are so adamant that this trinity is one god and Christianity is monotheistic, how do you explain the various exceptional powers attributed to saints in Roman Catholic culture?
  25. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Who said sex? I never suggested Yahweh penetrated Mary with his golden sceptre. Across the board -- the tribal deity of Israel included -- the gods are infinitely creative in their methods of procreation in general and in their techniques for impregnating human females in particular.

    My "whole argument" has not been about this in any case. It's been about angels, saints, a triumverate of head Gods ludicrously spinning around in a textual whirlpool of denial, demigod birth, etc., and so on.

    By the way, if the epistles pre-date the synoptic gospels, it's simply further indication that Paul was peddling his own religion unrelated to Jesus, and that the tales of Jesus and the cult of Paul were brought together in the second and third centuries and nailed onto the cross of the Christian canon and crucified by the holy trinity in the fourth.