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

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

  1. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    I get the distinct impression we are going in circles. But, again, it's that you consistently disregard information pertinent to this debate that viewpoints besides your own would bring us. Two give one example from each of the two topics, you've never acknowledged:

    A. The wide gulf between the treatment and description of angels, and that of God. It's pretty huge, and much broader than that typically (or arguably, at all) seen between two gods in a pantheon. Which tends to suggest that monotheists may have a different conception of what constitutes a "god" than whatever definition you're using.

    Or, in the other case

    B. The way Jesus fits much more neatly into the long Jewish tradition of exceptional birth circumstances for important figures. Whereas there really isn't much in the way of parallels to demigod traditions.

    Since the rest of the points are in thread, repeatedly, you can go back and read them. The only way these sort of points would be irrelevant is if you had judged that, for instance, a Jewish definition of what constitutes a god is not meaningful, and that we are instead only obligated to assess the question using your preferred definition. It's an assertion that your cultural understanding is superior to others.
  2. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    I don't think I ever disagreed with this, or I didn't intend to. But I think it would be unwise to deny the impact that Rome -- the real birthplace of Christianity as a western religion -- likely had on the mythologies that eventually became the religion's canon. By the time Christianity became, as you put it, the state religion of Rome, it would likely have absorbed some of the elements that make the Jesus birth story so familiar from the perspective of greek and roman mythology. The old testament doesn't have any stories of gods impregnating virgins.
  3. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    Among other things, what gives me serious pause is the broadness of your theory. Basically, the only point of similarity you describe is that both in the case of classical mythology and of Christianity, a woman experiences a pregnancy that involves carrying a being who is at least partly divine to term. But think about this for a minute.

    Christianity was a religion that, at its heart, made the claim that a normal human being was God incarnate. That was it's original distinguishing point from Judaism, and that's been at the heart of the religion ever since. It was known then, as now, that all humans spend at least some time developing inside a woman's uterus. If the Christian God really was to have experienced a normal human life, as was repeatedly argued from the epistles (as I've referenced earlier), what other possibilities were there? Can you name three? Five? Are you aware of any way human development could be called typical did he not go through a gestation period?

    What you've pointed out does not seem to be a deliberate choice. It's an unavoidable consequence of the claims that were already made. You might as well point out "similarities" like the fact that he breathed air, or bled when cut. Your argument here thus takes on absurdly broad dimensions.
  4. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    So this is how you lose a debate. Without acknowledgement, but with a smiley.
  5. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    Oct 28, 2001
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    How did I "lose a debate"? Or are you completely forgetting the part where I pointed out that all of the definitions we both gave include a criteria for "requiring worship" that you haven't provided support for in the case of either Saints or angels under Christian doctrines? All you did was try to shift the goalposts after you used impreceise terminology.

    All you said on that point was "And 'requiring worship' is fully applicable." You provided no support for that assertion, and it has already been demonstrated that under Christian doctrines angels refuse worship. Similarly, nothing has demonstrated that Saints require worship. (Note: the mere act of worship, respect, or honor directed towards a being doesn't fit that criteria. The worship must be required. While some people show a level of respect towards Saints that could be termed "worship", that is not sufficient to demonstrate that Saints require worship as the definitions state.)

    Care to try again?

    Kimball Kinnison
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    I don't understand the point you're trying to make, J-w. Gestating and being born is something that, like the moment of death, remains outside the scope of human experience from the point of view of the self. Virtually no one retains accessible memories of pre-verbal experiences.

    Throughout mythology, a hero or demigod or god who has a special connection to humans is born in the conventional way, or nearly so. This is the mark of those kinds of stories, e.g. the Buddha's birth, although each obviously has its unique elements. Zeus visits Danae as an, er, golden shower, very reminiscent of the holy spirit coming on Mary. Perseus is fully human, but made immortal. Creating this kind of connection between gods and humans is a common theme, but its commonality doesn't make it of "absurdly" broad dimension. These commonalities speak of the constant leakage between even the most ancient cultures through trade. The emerging Jesus cult borrowed the elements it needed from whatever traditions could provide the requisite authoritative birth story elements as they coalesced with other writings in the second and third centuries.
  7. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    The issue is not whether someone has access to pre-verbal memories or not, for several reasons. In the first place, recalled or no, they exert a pretty definite influence over later behavior. There is quite extensive influence on things like the uterine environment and the interaction of attachment theory with personality. These are the modern, empiric under-girdings of observations about the continuity between a person's time as an infant and their later years. It would be foolish to pretend that we are only shaped by those memories we can directly access.

    Second, though, I again stress that a huge part of the message of the epistles was that God had the experience of human frailty. There is no more uniquely vulnerable period. There is something profound about being unable even to roll over one's own. Unable to feed one's self. To risk death or permanent disfigurement by infections and chemical insults that are so mild that even older children shrug them off without realizing they've been exposed to anything at all. To be unable to survive without the support of specialized organs and a uniquely maintained internal environment. This is a powerful period of absolute dependence, and removing it would not be a neutral affair. Something tangible would be lost by having a figure that magically appears as a fully matured adult, or even early adolescent or toddler.

    In the final analysis, though, it's really quite simple. What's the best way to make someone convincingly human? Make them as as human as possible. Any deviation from that undercuts your message. Deviations like, for instance, having the person magically exist without having been born to a woman. What's absurd is not that there are motifs in mythologies. It's the torturous logic you are using to try and avoid the point above. In telling a story about a human, they chose the most overwhelming logical and common method for the creation of a human: a roughly nine month pregnancy by a human woman. That doesn't need any further explanation. It's a wholly reasonable justification in its own right.
  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Of course they started with a human. Even I admit the possibility that there may have been a historical Jesus, someone who at some point may or may not have said or done some of the things attributed to him. It's not necessary to have an actual person to tack the classical demigod story onto, but it can't have hurt, if that's what happened. After the second century or so it would have hardly mattered whether or not there was a historical Jesus. Whoever he may or may not have been in reality, the person was subsumed in the emerging canon by the third century.
  9. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    What do you mean "of course they started with a human?"

    I'm no longer certain if you grasp what I'm trying to argue. So I'll start from the top. Our point of contention is determining What constitutes "a classical demigod story." If you agree that they "of course" started with a human, then I don't see how you simultaneously flag it as qualifying the story as a demigod myth. Either using a human produced by human pregnancy is a general, non-specific feature that can't be called exclusive to demigod stories, or it's a specific one that can. You cannot admit that it is by necessity a non-specific general feature and simultaneously assert that it's specific enough to classify something as a demigod myth.

    Which position are you staking, and why? If non-specific, then what additional factors are you using to decide this is a "classical demigod story?" If specific, then, as I asked you two posts previous, what other methods of origin/creation could the authors have assigned Jesus that still fulfilled their needs ("God manifest in the flesh" as noted in the epistles)? If you can't think of several, I would tend to say that makes it definitionally non-specific.
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    1. a god (Zeus, Yahweh, etc.)

    2. comes to a woman (Mary, Leda, Danae, etc.)

    3. of special status (beautiful, married & virginal, Queen with visionary dream, subject of prior prophesy, etc.)

    4. in altered form (holy spirit, golden shower, swan)

    5. impregnates her,

    6. leading to birth of mortal human (Jesus, Perseus, Castor, Buddha)

    7. who performs miraculous/heroic deeds

    8, faces trials and

    9. becomes immortal upon death.


    How they relate to the elements of Christianity:

    1. Paul cult arises

    2. Vast cultural pools of demigod stories to choose from

    3. As you report, later gospel stories (possibly based on a human Jesus, possibly the amalgamation of sayings and stories from various sources) liberally mixing in from (2)

    4. Second and third century effort to match 1 and 3 to create a Christian canon.

    Where is your argument that the Jesus story has something, anything, that really distinguishes it enough from the typical demigod story to reveal that it has no common ancestry with some or all these other traditions?
  11. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    The mere thought of it depresses me. Can I pass?

    You haven't answered that, Jabba! Dabbado.
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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  13. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    sorry -
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    thanks!

    Yes, I believe that humans being born is a general, non-specific feature of many stories in general. Rare is the story of someone's life that doesn't include birth.
  15. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    We need some pics with this topic.

    DANAE
    [image=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_o93AaY0GzH4/TAtregz1_jI/AAAAAAAABkE/jiKBfTeuWIA/s1600/klimt.danae.jpg]
    [image=http://www.jssgallery.org/Other_Artists/Carolus-Duran/Danae.jpg]

    LEDA
    [image=http://www.kabsyn.com/Mythfiles/LedaTillier.jpeg]
    [image=http://www.pantheon.org/areas/gallery/mythology/europe/greek/leda.gif]
  16. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    star 7
    To be fair, Mary is sitting at a lectern reading the old testament when she finds out she is going to give birth to a demigod, at least in the Da Vinci version. The Botticelli is a lot more sensual. Mary looks like she is fending off a sexual advance from the angel.
  17. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    I've already discussed extensively why many of those points are specious. But let's add just one additional one. How are "heroic" and "miraculous" deeds of the same class at all? I could see how a socialist might group them all together to make some sort of broad theory. But I find it ludicrous to suggest that someone accustomed to the martial valor hailed in Perseus's slaying of the Gorgon would feel similarly about Jesus healing a little girl with a fever. The events are not at all of the same type. The "heroes" do not respond to their successes in the same way (Jesus is discrete about his exploits, often instructing people not to tell; Greek and Roman heroes proclaim theirs). You keep going on about how this was a ploy to attract polytheist converts. Is it seriously your contention that someone used to hearing stories of combat prowess from history's greatest heroes would feel the same way about a vagrant who helps women and poor people? Really?





  18. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    So far, you've successfully argued that birth is a general non-specific element of all fictional and non-fictional human life stories.

    Asclepius wandered the earth performing miraculous/heroic deeds of healing the sick and infirm. The acts are miraculous, and heroic to the people in need of them being performed.
    Asclepius is a son of a god (check) and a mortal woman of special status (check) born in miraculous circumstances (check) who performs miracles of helping the sick and infirm (check) and undergoes a test that includes his death (Zeus summarily executes him for raising the dead, check) but is granted immortal status in recognition for his service to humanity (check).
    Really


    By the way, you do enjoy the literary irony and humor of a stage whisper (and don't tell anyone about my miraculous exploits!) embedded in the tale of a demigod's miraculous exploits, right?





  19. Ghost Chosen One

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    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I use "essence" for lack of a better term, it's what you call a substance or force that often cannot be described. What is "green" or "orange" to a blind person, what is "sweet" or "salty" to a person who cannot taste?

    Maybe there's a better word for it, but the point is that God is not a person, yet God is the "essence" that exists in three persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Imagine the color "blue" couldn't be seen anywhere except for three persons who were colored blue... those three persons are "blue," but they are not each other, and it would be illogical to say there is more than one "blue," an essence can't be numbered. Another example: there is more than one source of light, but there is not more than one "light." Light just... is.



    The Son existed before Jesus was born, he just wasn't incarnated into a physical body yet. I explained that in my first post that started this all, that the Son has been around as long as the Father.

    And I've also answered the questions about Saints before, they derive their power from God, not themselves. I'm not Catholic, I don't believe in dead saints have powers, but it's possible to believe that and still be monotheistic.


    Again, completely wrong.

    Thomas Jefferson was a U.S. President. A=B
    George W. Bush was a U.S. President. C=B
    Does this mean A=C, that Thomas Jefferson is George W. Bush?
    No, of course not. And I see that you cut out my example of a leaf, grass, and emerald all being Green but not being each other.

    And again, as I've said hundreds or thousands of times before, I do not believe God is necessarily supernatural.

  20. Ghost Chosen One

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    Are you really arguing that anything believed to be immortal is a god? So ghosts are gods too? What about reincarnations, are you going to tell atheist Buddhists/Hindus that they actually believe everyone is a god? That's silly. That's like someone saying "the Beatles are an awesome band," and then you saying "no, you actually believe the Beatles stink!" In other words, it sounds like complete nonsense.

    No, they line up very nicely. And there is no personal cult of Paul.

    And no, angels in the New Testament do not fit "nicely" in as a bunch of deities that God has forbidden others to worship. That doesn't fit in at all.

    Nice of you to quote me saying nonsensical things that I've never said. Read through all my responses in this post, please.

    Again, wrong.

    We pray to one God. We pray in the NAME of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We do not pray in the NAMES of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    You cannot tell us that we pray to three gods, when we pray to one God.

    Matthew 28
    16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ?All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.?


  21. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Sorry, that's just a complete misunderstanding of basic grammar. "in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit is shorthand for "in the name of the father and [in the name of] the son and [in the name of] the Holy Spirit, which is to name them all separately.

    We wouldn't use the plural "names" like that. For example "I speak in the name of all my colleagues when I say..." That doesn't imply that all my colleagues are just one person. It means I'm speaking in the name of Bob and in the name of John and in the name of Roberta, etc. Jesus grammatically at least is authorizing baptism in the name of three separate entities.


    So the holy trinity is allegorical after all, as is "God so loved the world that he gave is only begotten son..." That's a ******* relief. And all this time I thought you disagreed with me.
  22. Ghost Chosen One

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    Sorry, that's just a complete misunderstanding of basic grammar. "in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit is shorthand for "in the name of the father and [in the name of] the son and [in the name of] the Holy Spirit, which is to name them all separately.

    We wouldn't use the plural "names" like that. For example "I speak in the name of all my colleagues when I say..." That doesn't imply that all my colleagues are just one person. It means I'm speaking in the name of Bob and in the name of John and in the name of Roberta, etc. Jesus grammatically at least is authorizing baptism in the name of three separate entities.



    But as all my other quotes said, Jesus says there is One God. It is one essence, one substance, that lives in more than one person, again I point you to my quotes earlier in the thread. The Trinity is One God, it's just as monotheistic as Judaism, Islam, the Baha'i faith, etc.


    So the holy trinity is allegorical after all, as is "God so loved the world that he gave is only begotten son..." That's a ******* relief. And all this time I thought you disagreed with me.

    The Son was begotten by the Father as a result of the Father's self-knowledge, at the beginning of it all. The Son then came to Earth, and incarnated in Mary's womb as the man Jesus Christ. Both Father and Son, as well as the Holy Spirit, are God.
  23. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    This is the sort of thing that gives me serious pause about your arguments. "Heroic to the people in need of them?" Is that the standard for heroism now? Your definition stretches to include anything that someone else would appreciate being done? As with the question about birth/pregnancy, it's hard to conceive of something that wouldn't fit your definition. That's not a meaningful pattern, but a catch-all. To have any credibility, there ought to be some pretty well-defined limits on what would and would not qualify.

    As for Asclepius in particular, I would press you for again on the meaning of the "heroic" criterion. Pending that, you've presented someone who was renowned for healing, but not really shown that he fits that well into your archetype. Nor does this even begin to touch larger points, like the fact that, by volume, the lion's share of the gospel narratives are dedicated to Jesus offering teachings. This is important in the first place because I don't know how much sense it makes to call something a "demigod narrative" when in fact the features you point out are the minority of the presented material. Secondly, and more importantly, classical mythology was for the most part not employed as claims of authority for moral teachings. Yet, you've pretty bewilderingly chosen to assert that this was precisely the purpose here. Why?

    Do you have any basis for your claim that this was inserted ironically? Or are you just hoping it does because that works with your theory?
  24. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Meh, my definition of heroic deeds is not at all critical to my argument.

    You asked whether Romans and Greeks would recognize a demigod who performed humanitarian acts of miraculous healing. I provided the clear and convincing evidence that they would, throwing in raising the dead for good measure. Then you moved the goalposts again by insisting that Jesus is primarily a teacher, not a healer or worker of miracles.

    Dyonisus is the son of the human woman Semele and Zeus, who wonders the world teaching people the miracle of grape cultivation and wine production. My hero.

    Since when does literary irony depend solely on the author's intent or the reader's interpretive choices? In this case, it's objectively ironic (irrelevant to my own interpretive choices) that a book intended in part to provide evidence of a demigod's miraculous exploits would include a passage about the demigod asking for his miraculous exploits not to be publicized.
  25. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    I have not "shifted the goal posts." My assertion was that the biography of Jesus is not similar to classical mythology, and would not be particularly attractive to believers in the Roman state religion by cause of any likeness between the two. Two posts ago, I expanded on this general argument by noting, in particular, the wide differences between a healing and martial prowess. Your response didn't really answer this notion. A single story doesn't mean much in isolation. What matters is the cultural impact. Does it capture some sort of zeitgeist? How often are themes elaborated therein repeated elsewhere in the body of relevant literature/stories/belief? Is it much referenced? To illustrate your problem, I'll note that a single story in the Old Testament can arguably be construed as human sacrifice. By your logic, this would lead one to expect that Judaism is comfortable and familiar with the practice. In fact, though, the practice was forbidden from the outset, and serially denounced by the major prophets. In short, the problem with a single story is that it's simply that, a single story. It doesn't necessarily mean much of anything at all in understanding how a belief system worked.

    Vinology is a moral teaching now? For whom, raging alcoholics? More seriously, perhaps you could concede that an origin story about how certain elements of the then-modern world came to be is a widely different task than someone attempting to a layout a new worldview/moral philosophy/religion.

    I would disagree with your characterization of the purpose of the gospel accounts, which more or less removes any irony. Setting that aside, though, what was your point in bringing this up? Ironic or no, this attitude toward one's own exploits is a 180 degree turn from that seen in classical mythology. Which is yet another significant point of dissimilarity between the two, casting further doubt on the notion that by design or in practice, Jesus's biography would somehow be familiar or attractive to a practitioner of Roman state religion.