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

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

  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    There's nothing to get. A=B=C. A is not equal to B is not equal to C. It's definitionally, intrinsically nonsense. Dorkman doesn't get it. SuperWatto doesn't get it. Anyone who "gets it" is simply admitting that they don't care that it is gibberish.

    I understand that if you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly. If you're going to believe in a Supernatural being, you might as well believe in something as utterly idiotic as the conception of the trinity too. If logic and common sense isn't a barrier to belief, then the earth is 5,000 years old. Dinosaurs walked with cavemen. Dogs live in trees. The south won the civil war. I mean really, DG. Why not go all in, as movie Gandalf would say, in abandoning reason for madness?
  2. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

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    I haven't been around much (family crises, work, and general insanity of everyday life), but I noticed this while popping in to check a PM I got.
    I'm not Catholic, but my understanding is that Catholics don't believe that Saints themselves perform miracles. Instead, Saints act as advocates with God on behalf of those who pray to them in order to convince God to perform miracles.

    It's as though not only do I ask you to donate your kidney, but I get several other people, people you you would consider to be rather influential, to also ask you to donate your kidney on my behalf.

    Kimball Kinnison
  3. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Okay, but that doesn't make them fit the definition of 'deity' any less.
  4. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

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    What do you mean? They don't have any powers of themselves according to Catholic doctrine. They simply are righteous people that God is willing to listen to who advocate for God's intercession on behalf of others.

    It's not much different than if you were to ask me to pray for you. If God then answers my prayers on your behalf, does that then make me a deity?

    Kimball Kinnison
  5. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    You've managed to make a lot more sense on this topic than either Darth-Ghost or Jabba-wocky. A saint is like a congressional staff person. You phone them, they take a message and thank you for calling, but they don't necessarily have the power to solve your problem for you, although they may be influential.

    On the other hand, why does an omniscient, omnipotent God need little helpers to serve as gate keepers for prayer? And for that matter, why does she need angels to perform major godlike miracles? Angels and saints still seem like junior gods, delegated with different tasks. Saints are clerical demigods of prayer management.
  6. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

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    You assume that God uses angels, saints, etc because He needs to in order to perform a miracle. That assumption seems to completely neglect the possibility that using others to do the work is a benefit to them in addition to the target of the miracle.

    Sometimes, you see more benefit from having one student help another with their homework, rather than having the teacher provide the help. Just because the teacher askes a classmate to help you doesn't mean that the teacher needs that classmate's help to teach you the material.

    Part of the problem here is that you aren't clearly defining your criteria.

    You haven't made the case that Christianity is polytheistic (worshiping multiple gods). At best, you have demonstrated that it can be described as henotheistic (worshiping only one God without denying the existence of the other gods). However, the line between henotheism and monotheism basically boils down to how you define what is or is not a god.

    For example, you could argue that the First Commandment ("Thou shalt have no other gods before me") is inherently henotheistic because it doesn't say that no other gods exist, only that you should not worship them or place them above God in veneration. At the same time, you can also argue that it is a rejection of the existence of other gods. Ultimately, it comes down to the definitions and criteria that you are applying to interpret scripture.

    You choose to describe Saints and angels as demigods (which would make Christianity henotheistic), while most Christians reject defining them as any type of god (making Christianity monotheistic). You can't force your paradigm onto others any more than they can force theirs on you, and so trying to argue that yours is right is a waste of time.

    Kimball Kinnison
  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    I'd agree with you about judaism as being fundamentally henotheistic, with angels possibly included among the list of gods not permitted as the object for direct worship.

    Christians cannot decide how many Gods they want to worship, and so are doctrinally paralyzed in the infinite flippy floppiness of the trinity.

    And, sure, it's a waste of time in the sense that all of this is B.S., but there's a way out of this for Christians: Go back to the synoptic gospels for a pared down canon and a consistent foundation for the religion. Too bad Martin Luther didn't really know what he was doing, or we could have had a much more authentic Reformation. Next to Roman Catholicism, Martin Luther was the worst thing ever to happen to Christianity.
  8. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Yes, yes it is. It's very different. You're alive. Saints are dead. This might not make much difference to the faithful, but it's a big deal to me. To believe that dead people can actually do anything is to ascribe supernatural powers to corpses, which makes the corpses into immortal, supernatural beings - thus making them fit the definition of 'deity' in every way.
  9. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

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    Except that Christianity teaches that we all have an immortal soul. By the definition that you give here, that makes all of us deity, and your definition loses all meaning. You could then argue that Christianity is polytheistic because it believes that everyone is a deity. But that is an inaccurate depiction of what Christianity actually teaches. Context actually matters, especially when talking about religious beliefs.

    If you want to judge what Christianity believes, you cannot do that by setting your own definitions for everything. Otherwise, you could wind up defining black as white, and get run over at a zebra crossing. :p

    Incidentally, that doesn't seem to fit the definition of deity you find in the dictionary.

    Kimball Kinnison
  10. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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  11. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

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    First of all, you used the term "deity", not "god" in the post to which I was responding. The criteria you gave was for "deity", but the definitions you linked to are for "god".

    However, both of those definitions go beyond merely "immortal, supernatural beings". Both definitions involve some measure of requiring worship.

    You are reaching here in order to make Christian beliefs and doctrines fit your own preconceptions.

    Kimball Kinnison
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Kimball, is this your first father's day coming up, or your second? I've lost track of time. If it's your first, congratulations! If not, congratulations anyway.
  13. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    Yes, but to "prove" your arguments, you've made a series of claims that you've never attempted to support, and are factually incorrect. For instance, you suggest repeatedly (as below) that Jesus as deity represents a late addition to the religion to attract converts. In fact, it was neither late nor peripheral. It was the central innovation in the theology. Your whole argument depended on imputing a motive to those who laid out the founding precepts of Christianity. Motives that make far less sense than a number of alternatives.

    Likewise, your argument about angels was never about anything more than talking about what you think a god should be. Never mind how the culture in question understood divinity. Never mind how monotheists in general understand the concept. Never mind how polytheists see it, and the potential differences between each of those three. Never mind what the authors of the text itself suggest about the nature of the beings in question. The only thing that matters is that it's polytheist because, in your personal opinion, you would call it a deity.

    As both I and KK have now suggested, you've not done anything more here than try to slot things into your own preconceived notions.

    Apologies. This is rather blunt--much more than I like to be. But I think that, this analysis is quite justifiably called idiotic. In the first place, there's no reason to preface it with an "if." No one disputes that the gospels were one of the last parts of the New Testament to be composed. Secondly, how do a bunch of epistles that make repeated reference to and discussion of a man Jesus prove that, in fact, Jesus was some sort of late addition? You also haven't dealt with the fact that several prominent authors had no special relationship to Paul, and their texts read similarly. You seem to be discussing things you don't have much of an idea about, and doing so with arguments that aren't terribly cogent.
  14. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    KK, you gave two links with similar meanings for the word 'deity'.

    Definition of DEITY
    1
    a : the rank or essential nature of a god : divinity b capitalized : god 1, supreme being
    2
    : a god or goddess <the deities of ancient Greece>
    3
    : one exalted or revered as supremely good or powerful

    Since your definitions use 'god' as a synonym for 'deity', the next logical step is to look up 'god'. That's not reaching; to suggest that deities are something else than gods is reaching.

    And 'requiring worship' is fully applicable.
  15. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Jabba-wocky, anyone who can read can see that Paul founded and spread his own personal cult that had little to do with the life and teachings of Jesus. Since only a fraction of what Paul "wrote" was likely written by him, we can easily suspect a later redactive effort to bridge the gap between his religion and Christianity. Speaking of tales told by idiots, Christianity is a tale told by the winners of the battle over its canon. We get about what you'd expect from a project when theologians are put in charge of it.

    I give credit to Kimball for introducing the term "henotheism" into the conversation. Judaism is practically defined as an act of snubbing all the other gods. The Jews gave their tribal deity special treatment, and in return he gave them special treatment. The conception of angels in the new testament fits nicely into this framework of deities whom god has forbidden his chosen people to worship directly.

    As to my pre-conceived notions, I did not make up angelology or dedicate countless tons of religious art to angel devotion or pepper the scriptures with miraculous supernatural acts performed by angels. Christianity did that to itself.

    And "henotheism" cannot redirect the discussion about the trinity, which is irreducible polytheism. The way "the culture understands divinity" in this sense is a deliberate act of denial, enshrined, albeit extratextually, into the core of church cultures, whether protestant or catholic or orthodox.
  16. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

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    It depends on how you define my first Father's Day. Last year, we announced that we were pregnant on Father's Day.

    Hey, you are the one who used imprecise terminology. Say what you mean. Don't expect me to read your mind. :p

    How? You haven't established that about either Saints or angels. Instead, as both Jabba-Wocky and Ghost have pointed out, both Saints and angels disclaim any right to be worshiped under historical Christian doctrine.

    You are still reaching to twist what Christianity actually teaches.

    The problem here is that Christians don't see angels as deities, gods, or any other similar term you want to use.

    Christianity, as it is taught, believed, and practiced really walks the line between monotheism and henotheism, largely depending upon how you define what is or is not a god. Traditional Catholic teachings consider demons, angels, and Saints to be something other than deities, and consider the Trinity to be one single being. Under that criteria, it is monotheistic in teachings, practice, and belief.

    Towards the other end of the Christian spectrum, Mormonism teaches that we are all spirit children of God, and have the potential to become like Him. (In LDS teachings, angels are merely other spirit children of God who may or may not have yet received a physical body yet. For example, we believe that Michael, the archangel, was Adam, and that Gabriel was Noah. We also teach that Jesus Christ was Jehovah, identifying God the Father by the name Elohim.) We worship only one God (the Father, Elohim), but we believe that we all have the potential to become gods. That makes Mormonism more on the henotheism side of the line.

    You can find a wide variety of Christians all along that spectrum. But none of them really go past henotheism from their own perspective, and it is ultimately the perspective of the believer that defines a religion.

    No, you didn't make them up. However, you are trying to tell Christians what their religion "really" teaches about such things, rather than relying on their explanations of the doctrines as they are actually believed and practiced. They have a far greater authority in this sort of matter than you do.

    Again, that depends. If a person mentally perceives the Trinity as one being, then it can't be described as
  17. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    So, happy first or second father's day, Kimball, knowing that it's not until tomorrow (UTC-7).


    Ah, Kimball, it always does seem to come back to that, doesn't it? When a thought is bouncing around inside someone's head, to the extent that thoughts may or may not exist independent of people articulating them, it can be as satisfactory and explanatory to that person as they like. They can rest contented that they believe what they believe and why and that it all makes sense.

    But once that thought escapes out the mouth or through the hands via the pen onto a page or via a keyboard onto the internet, then it's subject to an outside evaluation of its communicative power. The concept of the trinity has no ability to communicate anything meaningful about "monotheism" other than that they are not the same thing. People can believe whatever they want inside their heads. Or alternatively, people will believe whatever their brain makes them believe. No one is disputing that.

    Trinity=monotheism is not a defensible belief. But I also understand that no one is required to try to defend it.
  18. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

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    It is a defensible belief as it is defined by the various creeds. For example, the Nicene Creed defines God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit as being "cosubstantial", meaning "of one substance". They interpret that to mean that the three are one and the same God. Within that context it is very defensible. It only becomes "indefensible" when you try to separate it from its context, or attempt to dismiss parts of its historical context.

    Now, mind you, I am not a Trinitarian Christian. I fall squarely on the henotheistic side of Christianity. But I have studied the Trinitarian perspective quite a bit, and I've tried to understand it for the perspective of my Trinitarian brethren. I see where they are coming from, and while I disagree on the interpretation, their views and perspectives are fully valid, justifiable, and defensible.

    Kimball Kinnison
  19. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Obviously I come from the position that no supernatural belief is valid, justifiable or defensible, but that is an issue distinct from the concept of trinity and whether it is internally consistent with the basic precepts of Christian faith, or able to be internally consistent.

    We've already agreed long ago that people have subjective reasons for their supernatural beliefs and that no one else has access to that process of validation and justification.

    But the explanatory framework offered up for public viewing is a different order of belief I'd say.
    I can't find a way to agree that is a valid, justifiable or defensible belief within the internal logic of the faith, even absent questions of whether god or gods exist at all.


  20. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    Again, are you familiar with what your talking about here? You've now added yet another layer of things we can "suppose" to your already long list of suppositions, while ignoring a whole host of things that are much more easily verifiable. When people talk about differences between Paul and others, they mostly refer to questions of how much observance of the Torah's religious laws are necessary (eg. "Do Christians need to observe the Sabbath?"). You're pretty much alone in asserting something as broad as you have. Pretty much the whole spectrum of historians will agree that Christianity was always about a deity that became a man, and then died and came back to life. That wasn't something tacked on, and it wasn't "Paul's personal cult." It was every single early Church leader, the existence of all whom is as verifiable as Paul's own. Unsupported theories can only go so far before they become ridiculous.

    You seem to fail to grasp the notion that just because those things, in your eyes, qualify them as gods, doesn't mean they did in anyone else's. What constitutes divinity varies from culture to culture. Not because anyone is "in denial" but because it represents legitimately different ways of understanding the world. When people from countries with two very different power distance indices disagree about whether a particular action/event is rude, is it because one of them is actually correct, and the other is in denial? If someone from a fairly individualist culture has a different perspective on the life a young bachelor who lives alone than someone from a culture that stresses strong extended family and a more collectivist outlook, does one of them have to be wrong? Or might they simply be looking at the same thing and have different, but equally valid understandings?

    What you're doing is simply asserting that your worldview is necessarily more valid than everyone else's.

    The monotheisitc conception of divinity is something more involved than a being who simply run faster, jump higher, and produces a few more magic tricks than his peers. In some cultures the label is applied liberally; not all of them are that way. All your insistence in the world that you see angels as deities, has no relevance to the question of whether people living in Palestine a few centuries before the Common Era understood them to be deities.

    If you want to have an actual discussion about how polytheists experienced Christianity, there are plenty of good ways to do that. For instance, the primary sources from Franciscan monks interacting with the post-Conquest Mexica are rich. They, speak, for instance, of how the natives took with great enthusiasm to religious fasts. A concept which, as it turns out, also existed in the Aztec religion. Though there were differences--religious benefit to the believer occurs during the fast in Christianity, after the fast in Aztec religion--they do seem to have recognized the event as experientially familiar, and responded as such. This sort of thing would be fruitful, interesting, and challenging. As would any number of other attempts to search out well-de
  21. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    What an odd thing to write. I've never once asserted that angel worship specifically or Christian polytheism, or even polytheism in general is uncultured, or culturally unsophisticated. People are free to worship as many gods as they want. No one has to justify angel worship to me.

    The trinity is something else. It's rhetorical and intellectual nonsense and no amount of well-meaning cultural relativism can make it work. Admittedly the conception of the trinity is far from uncultured; many non Christians are justifiably impressed by the level of sophistry brought to bear on that issue.
  22. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    You are taking an attitude of cultural superiority not in that you are directly calling Christians or their practices inferior. You are doing so in that you have wholly discounted the value of their perspective. Though implicit to your arguments, your conduct in this debate has been a naked assertion that religious perspectives--even (especially?) about their own religion--are worthless. You have carried on asserting that angels are god while not even deigning to respond to the point that the actual religions you are discussing (Christianity, Judaism) don't consider them as such.
  23. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    You're kidding me right? I thought the whole point of this question was that we know what Christians say and think and write about the nature of their religions, but that from an outside perspective it's not very convincing.

    There are things an outsider would expect from a monotheistic religion, like prayer to one named divine supernatural entity. Christianity doesn't have that quality unlike Judaism, Islam and the Bahai Faith. The typical Christian prays to three or more directly by name. This makes its form of monotheism look much less monotheistic than those other religions that lay claim to monotheism by direct comparison. The Jews are chosen by Yahweh to worship only him at the exclusion of all other gods. Islam acknowledges the existence of only one god. Christianity worships a minimum of three distinctly by name, then follows up with a denial that it is worshiping three distinct entities by name.

    Why do Christians have such a deep need to consider themselves monotheistic? It stems I'm sure from a desire to present itself as the successor religion to Judaism. Despite a rich and long tradition of hating jews, Christians need Judaism as part of the religion's internal process of authenticating itself. But the intellectual contortions required to maintain the claim of monotheism don't do the marketing arm of the religion any favors as it tries to sell itself to nonbelievers. This is probably one of many reasons the Christian faith is shedding members so rapidly in much of the developed world.
  24. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    You and I never discussed Trinitarian belief. What we've discussed, almost exclusively is A)angels and B)Jesus as a violation of monotheism. Do you want to say anything that addresses the discussions we actually had, as opposed to a dialogue with a completely different user?
  25. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Oh right. Angels seem to have all the powers of gods and an independent will, if we don't take the concept of fallen angels as apocryphal. Is it? I don't know of any denominations or sects or other major Christian divisions that deny their existence. I acknowledge that Christians say they don't worship angels and deny that they are minor gods, but there is a lot of devotional attention paid them and the idea that they are minor gods in the category of divine beings the chosen people were forbidden by Yahweh to worship is entirely consistent with both the old and new testament.

    And the Jesus nativity story fits in nicely with the wide range of demigod birth stories found among world mythologies. What part of this is culturally insensitive?