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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    Also ironic: you move the goal posts again one paragraph after denying moving the goalposts.

    I give examples of demigods performing miracles. You insist that only miracle of healing the sick count for comparison. I give an example of a demigod healing the sick, you insist that only teaching counts. I give an example of teaching and you now insist that only moral teaching counts. I can tell you right now that if you hold out for a line by line correspondence between Edith Hamilton's Greek Mythology and the King James version of the new testament, you just might win this argument.
  2. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    I specified moral teachings in my first post on the subject, actually.

    As for this issue of miracles, I guess I'm both surprised and sort of regretful that you feel so mistreated over the whole thing. But taking a step back from tit-for-tat rhetorical point scoring, do you actually object to my argument? I've not, after all, rejected a parallel based on miraculous healing. I've simply questioned whether it was a prevalent enough feature to be a meaningful point of recognition between Christianity and the Roman state religion. Is this an unreasonable inquiry? Do you think isolated single accounts should be taken as representative of whole religions even where other available evidence suggests it was more an aberration than a dominant trend? I again apologize if you feel harassed, but I think these are quite defensible points to raise in a fair discussion.



  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    You need to contend with the deep connection between Rome and Christianity. Any historian would suspect influence on early Christian cults and their inchoate, fractured doctrines and dogma from the dominant culture. As the religion attracts followers in Rome, it also begins to assimilate Roman-ness. Eventually of course Christianity becomes the "Roman state religion" by decree and is forced on the populace whether it culturally appealed to them or not. This happens about the same time that Arianism is rejected by a majority of Christian leaders in the fourth century.

    But that battle over doctrine and Jesus's divinity and the extent to which polytheism would be allowed into the emergent religion was a political one and no doubt fought fiercely by those who cared. It's easy to imagine how a battle over Jesus's divinity might have intentionally or organically nudged the story of Jesus in certain directions in the second and third centuries. And christian leaders hell-bent on making a God out of Jesus would likely have reached to the dominant culture for a framework to make Jesus's divinity recognizable.

    Unfortunately, the wrong side won this battle, and christianity has been a polytheistic doctrinal mess ever since. But it need not have been this way. The other side might have won, had it not been perhaps for the dominant culture's inherent comfort level with the archetypal demigod story. Declaring arianism heresy satisfied a Roman culture with no inherent qualms about polytheism and thus no real reason to trouble itself over the fundamental problems with the holy trinity.
  4. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    Setting aside everything else in your post, you seem to have staked out the claim that Arianism is a less polytheistic choice than Trinitarianism. Would you mind explaining yourself? You have previously argued here that the mere existence of angels (and even some human religious figures) represents a serious breach of monotheism. This, in spite of the fact that their worship is expressly forbidden, and the language used to describe them is hugely different than that used to describe God. You have also attacked the doctrine of the Trinity for prescribing the worship of what, to your view, is multiple beings.

    In light of these views, let us review Arianism. While he argued that the Father and Son were not of the same substance, he nowhere said that Jesus could not be worshiped. Nor, indeed, could he or would he. It was an argument about the relative position/importance of two beings who were to be worshiped regardless. In other words, he explicitly codifies all the things that you've criticized Christianity for doing indirectly. It goes further than every single item you have previously measured as a sign of polytheism. Nor are these observations about Arianism unique. The doctrine at present is widely regarded as more explicitly polytheistic than anything that can be said of Trinitarianism. At the time of the Nicean Council, one of the detractors chief criticism was that it violated the unity of the Godhead (ie was polytheistic).

    Even as an issue of face validity, I don't see how what you're saying now fits with anything previous. Demigods are beings of lesser power than, but descended from, actual gods. How would a theory that describes Jesus as having a different substance than the Father be less similar to the above description than one that calls him co-equal with the Father?
  5. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    So I thought I?d sow a bit of mischief by adding what the Baha?i Writings have to say on the subject :p

    Part of the charge of pantheism aimed at Christianity has to do with the practice ?especially prevalent in Catholicism- of observing ?patron saints? of different worldly phenomena. Interestingly enough, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha?u?llah simultaneously (as I interpret it) confirms this idea while also confirming the supremacy of God:
  6. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    So is this sort of practice widespread (or seen at all, really) inside the Bahai faith, or is it only being condoned conceptually in the absence of actual practice?
  7. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Hmm, I found that particularly interesting given the comparison of the prophets to leaven; in Christianity, of course, leaven is compared to sin, not holiness. And whereas in that passage, the presence of holy individuals makes holy the world around them, in Christianity (and Judaism too, I suppose), the principle is that the presence of even a single unhealthy attitude or action poisons a person's entire life.

    I find both ideas compelling and gripping, and I think I believe both ideas to a degree, but the comparison/contrast is interesting there. There are other passages in Christian scripture that speak about how a righteous life can make righteous the world around it; take for instance, the passage where Christ says that his followers are called to be another substance used in food preparation ( :p ), by telling them, "You are the salt of the earth," referencing that Christians should be a preserving and purifying influence on the world. Likewise, I'm sure there are passages in the Baha'i faith, and you might give me an example just for my own interest, where it is more or less stated that even the tiniest failing can corrupt or gives evidence of a great corruption.

    The principles, I'm betting, are both there in both faith, but it interests me that the symbol of leaven, while used in both faiths, is used in exactly opposite fashion.

    This is the kind of obscure trivia that I find interesting in discussion of faith, not picking apart various doctrines and being pedantic about idioms and such, but rather finding those odd moments where faiths intersect and parsing the ways in which faiths differ and agree and exploring why there are those similarities and differences.
  8. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    In my own observation, still being relatively new to the Faith, that it's more the latter. On the other hand, it's my understanding that there are certain holy sites, final resting-places of key figures in the Faith, where prayers offered are always granted.
  9. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    worship:
    1. reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.
    2. formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage.
    3. adoring reverence or regard.

    So during another discussion in which I was a participant, an idea was put forth that we humans are made to worship; we?re hard-wired to venerate?something, or someone. Besides the obvious :p it could be a celebrity, money, fame, or an ideology. Even the zeal of some atheists resembles religious fervor.

    Agree or disagree: to worship is in our nature.
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    VLM posted a link in the atheism thread that suggests there are two types of cognitive dispositions, one oriented toward skepticism and a disinclination to assign agency to natural events. The other is simply more likely to see agency and deeper meaning in all events.

    What are the factors that separate these two types of cognitive dispositions? Is it just a matter of education or upbringing, or are some people more genetically predisposed toward skepticism than others?

    If secularism is growing worldwide, that would suggest either that cultural factors are changing us or that we are actively breeding for skepticism. Skepticism likely offers competitive advantages in a modern, science and technology-based world.

    But my sense is that if we have a genetic predisposition to worship, it can and will be bred out of the species, as it is no longer a helpful or useful trait.
  11. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    I would say this almost certainly is not true. While, it may offer more material success and a marginally higher standard of a living in a "modern, science & technology based world" it has next to no impact on evolutionary success. We are in an era when even the incredibly impoverished can manage to survive to fertility, and reproduce with--what is from an evolutionary, if not humanistic standpoint--relatively low infant mortality. That's all the more effect evolution can possibly have.
  12. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    Your passertion hinges on the premise that skepticism is on the rise. But is it really?
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    It's not an assertion, it's a hypothesis based on taking at face value the assertions of an article posted by VLM in another thread.

    I don't really believe that supernatural think is being bred out of the species. First of all, the most ignorant and superstitious among the globe's population also tend to breed the most; the world is drowning in their offspring.

    What I believe is that the growth of secularism and skepticism is a trend that has continued in western civilization since philosophers like Descartes and Pascal made it possible to even ask the question "is there a God?" It is a consequence of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. It is the inevitable consequence of the foundation of science and the tools for increasing our ability to make more efficient use of our natural talents for observation and insight.

    The suspicion of the social role of religion in Marxist philosophy is as an example a natural consequence of this process. One of the few things that communist revolutions got right was a belief that atheism would make advanced societies more productive.


  14. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

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    Oct 28, 2001
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    On the question of whether secularism is on the rise, some statistics might be useful.

    The current breakdown of religious affiliation from the CIA Factbook 2011 (data current as of 2009):

    Christian 33.35% (of which Roman Catholic 16.83%, Protestant 6.08%, Orthodox 4.03%, Anglican 1.26%)
    Muslim 22.43%
    Hindu 13.78%
    Buddhist 7.13%
    Sikh 0.36%
    Jewish 0.21%
    Baha'i 0.11%
    Other religions 11.17%
    Non-religious 9.42%
    Atheists 2.04%

    This contrasts with the 2007 data:

    Christian 33.32% (of which Roman Catholic 16.99%, Protestant 5.78%, Orthodox 3.53%, Anglican 1.25%)
    Muslim 21.01%
    Hindu 13.26%
    Buddhist 5.84%
    Sikh 0.35%
    Jewish 0.23%
    Baha'i 0.12%
    Other religions 11.78%
    Non-religious 11.77%
    Atheists 2.32%

    Of course, that's only two data points and only 2 years apart. I haven't been able to find an older version of the data yet for comparison.

    Kimball Kinnison
  15. Ghost Chosen One

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    Oct 13, 2003
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    I read this story around a year ago and it was really profound and moving (at least for me), and I just came across it again and felt this thread is the perfect place to share it:



    "The Egg"

    by Andy Weir




    You were on your way home when you died.

    It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

    And that?s when you met me.

    ?What? what happened?? You asked. ?Where am I??

    ?You died,? I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

    ?There was a? a truck and it was skidding??

    ?Yup,? I said.

    ?I? I died??

    ?Yup. But don?t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,? I said.

    You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. ?What is this place?? You asked. ?Is this the afterlife??

    ?More or less,? I said.

    ?Are you god?? You asked.

    ?Yup,? I replied. ?I?m God.?

    ?My kids? my wife,? you said.

    ?What about them??

    ?Will they be all right??

    ?That?s what I like to see,? I said. ?You just died and your main concern is for your family. That?s good stuff right there.?

    You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn?t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

    ?Don?t worry,? I said. ?They?ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn?t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it?s any consolation, she?ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.?

    ?Oh,? you said. ?So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something??

    ?Neither,? I said. ?You?ll be reincarnated.?

    ?Ah,? you said. ?So the Hindus were right,?

    ?All religions are right in their own way,? I said. ?Walk with me.?

    You followed along as we strode through the void. ?Where are we going??

    ?Nowhere in particular,? I said. ?It?s just nice to walk while we talk.?

    ?So what?s the point, then?? You asked. ?When I get reborn, I?ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won?t matter.?

    ?Not so!? I said. ?You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don?t remember them right now.?

    I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. ?Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It?s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it?s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you?ve gained all the experiences it had.

    ?You?ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven?t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you?d start remembering everything. But there?s no point to doing that between each life.?

    ?How many times have I been reincarnated, then??

    ?Oh lots. Lots and lots. And into lots of different lives.? I said. ?This time around, you?ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.?

    ?Wait, what?? You stammered. ?You?re sending me back in time??

    ?Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.?

    ?Where you come from?? You said.

    ?Oh sure,? I explained ?I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you?ll want to know what it?s like there, but honestly you wouldn?t understand.?

    ?Oh,? you said, a little let down. ?But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.?

    ?Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don?t even know it?s happening.?

    ?
  16. aPPmaSTer Force Ghost

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    Dec 23, 2004
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    Darth-Ghost, that is seriously twisted. Where did u read that anyway?

    On the subject of "Made to Worship", I'll throw in my 2 cents... :)

    In my humble opinion, God doesn't need us, nor our worship; He is perfect, and perfection can only be achieved through lack of dependency. Ok so He doesn't need it, but does He "enjoy" it then? Again, in my humble opinion, it's not our worship that He enjoys, but our company with Him in heaven that He created, watching us joyfully experiencing His creation and His Mighty presence that He has given us through His immense generosity.

    So why not just put us all in heaven and get it over with? Like Adam and Eve? Who were given an all-you-can-eat/drink/experience/enjoy pass, but were denied the fruit of ONE tree out of an infinite number... what did they do? They went straight for it. The lesson: a person born rich doesn't value or enjoy his wealth nearly as much as a poor person who goes through hell to become wealthy. Ironically enough, for some people that will be the literal reality of their existence.

    By remaining humble in our worldly life, and by holding on to His Commandments by being just and pious through patience and perseverance, we make ourselves of those who will value and appreciate that what comes; but for those who are arrogant and ignore God's signs and spread mischief on the earth, they are undeserving of His Reward, so they go through hell that they may be humbled, and become of those who enjoy the gardens of bliss that await them.

    That's just my take on what I could gather from various Islamic sources, predominantly the Qur'an.
  17. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    The problem I'd have with that stance is that it involves god not selecting based on merit, but on obedience, and it replaces brown-nosing with worthiness.
  18. Ghost Chosen One

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    I forget where I read it a year ago, but when I posted that here it was from a friend's Facebook note. I think a story like that really teaches the importance of empathy, and puts a whole new spin on "treat others as you would like to be treated."


    Exactly my view. The problem of evil is solved by having temporary suffering in exchange for eternal bliss and reunion with loved ones. We couldn't appreciate Heaven without first experiencing Earth, the place where we can learn how to truly love. Choosing to approach the world and others with love, despite all the evils and suffering in the world, makes our choice to love much more powerful and the love itself much stronger than they would have been without the trials of Earth.
  19. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    D-G, this reminds me of a passage I came across in Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah:
    My God, my God! If none be found to stray from Thy path, how, then, can the ensign of Thy mercy be unfurled, or the banner of Thy bountiful favor be hoisted? And if iniquity be not committed, what is it that can proclaim Thee to be the Concealer of men?s sins, the Ever-Forgiving, the Omniscient, the All-Wise?

    Good to see you 'round here, aPP! [:D] I agree with this totally, and I'll be looking into some Scriptural backing for this. As far as not putting us in heaven straightaway, I'm reminded of an excellent episode of Veggie Tales called A Snoodle's Tale. One of the lines from the story is "a gift without choice is no gift at all."

  20. wannasee Force Ghost

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    Jan 24, 2007
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    Merit and obedience are not mutually exclusive terms. Also, brown-nosing is not the same obedience. Also, one can be a brown-nose and still be worthy.

    So, yeah, I disagree.
  21. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    Found a sample passage:
    The one true God, exalted be His glory, hath wished nothing for Himself. The allegiance of mankind profiteth Him not, neither doth its perversity harm Him. The Bird of the Realm of Utterance voiceth continually this call: ?All things have I willed for thee, and thee, too, for thine own sake.?
    Gleanings from the Writings of Baha?u?llah

  22. aPPmaSTer Force Ghost

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    Thanks, Merk [face_coffee]

    I must agree with wannasee and disagree with Lowbacca as usual :) Obedience IS merit, the only difference between those who do a righteous act out of obedience to God and those who do it out of... idunno "humanity" I guess you can say, is that what is defined as "humane" varies from place to place, culture to culture, era to era... whereas God's law is one. A person brought up in 20th century USA that has been influenced for centuries by the message of Christianity is definitely going to have a different set of norms and definitions of "humanity" than someone born and brought up in an African tribe in 500 AD where they hadn't even heard God's commandments.

    I'm not saying those who are righteous without being obedient are wrong, but what I'm saying is take a look at WHY you're righteous... and you'll find that it's a result of countless generations before you being obedient and cradling you in that atmosphere.

    Why do I feel like I just stirred up a hornet's nest? :D
  23. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    I never said that someone can't have both of those properties, my point was that it's a bad metric. If I was going to pick players for a basketball team, I'd pick it based on who is best at basketball. I wouldn't pick it based on who is tallest, even though tall people can, and may often be, good at basketball. Even if some would still be good picks, that doesn't make the selection method valid.
  24. wannasee Force Ghost

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    Jan 24, 2007
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the only merit is obedience to "God's law", as has already been said.

    Let's say a guy cures all forms of cancer, but he is a serial killer, child rapist. I mean, the guy has merit (in a way), but he's an *******, and I can't imagine God "selecting" him.

  25. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    Terrific interactive map

    In Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee, evangelical protestants are an outright majority.

    Evangelicals are nearly 50% in Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi.

    Mainline protestants as I've mentioned elsewhere are a dying breed.

    Catholics outnumber mainline protestants in half the states.

    So many of my friends are Jewish I sometimes forget how few there really are. Even in NY/NJ it's only 6%. 3% in Florida, the stereotypical retiree, and 2% in Illinois. They are far less than 1% of the world's population as a whole.

    Islam is significantly underrepresented in the U.S. relative to its world population - nearly a third of the world's population, yet only about 1% of the U.S. population.