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Thread: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by Kepler View Post
    Or whatever. There are as many ways as there are people.
    Jesus brought a new covenant, which changed everything. But yeah, folks have cherry picked the OT - ignoring their refuting in the new - to meet their own ends.

    Its quite easy to criticize Lincoln in his childhood.

    Quote Originally Posted by St. Clown View Post
    Yup, the exact same schtick the Buddhists state. It's like they're all different ways of spinning and telling the same old lessons and ideals in life.
    You bet. Its hard to deny that Buddhists are faar better at personal liberation than any of us.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    HUMANS: God is infallible.

    GOD: Hold my beer while I change a few things from that old book where I used mortals to write my divine teachings...
    "The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command." George Orwell, 1984

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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by St. Clown View Post
    HUMANS: God is infallible.

    GOD: Hold my beer while I change a few things from that old book where I used mortals to write my divine teachings...
    Most atheist do believe the Bible was literal.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by 5mn_Major View Post
    Most atheist do believe the Bible was literal.
    ? You're a thoughtful guy, 5mn, but what does that mean? Do you mean to say that you think most atheists believe the authors of (most?) books in the bible were speaking literally and not metaphorically on matters related to Christ and God?

    Or are you just saying that atheists tend to create a christian straw man whose belief in God depends on a literal interpretation of the Bible, such as the 7-day creation story?

    Something else entirely, I suspect.

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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by 5mn_Major View Post
    Most atheist do believe the Bible was literal.
    I don't believe the Bible was literal. It's a giant metaphor, just like every other religious text upon which it was based.
    "The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command." George Orwell, 1984

    "One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its Black Gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep, and the Great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume." Boromir

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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Thanks...it was an off the cuff comment. But I think its valid.

    Quote Originally Posted by burd View Post
    ? You're a thoughtful guy, 5mn, but what does that mean? Do you mean to say that you think most atheists believe the authors of (most?) books in the bible were speaking literally and not metaphorically on matters related to Christ and God?

    Or are you just saying that atheists tend to create a christian straw man whose belief in God depends on a literal interpretation of the Bible, such as the 7-day creation story?

    Something else entirely, I suspect.
    I believe most atheists do think in terms of a literal view of the Bible. I would guess there are some who sign up for a literal Bible first...and then reject the overall premise and become atheists. And others who decide more vaguely that a God can't exist...and use a strawman of a literal Bible (7 day creation story) to validate their position.

    Either way, in my experience atheists who argue their case frequently rely on literalist evidence to make their case of how 'ridiculous' the Bible is. The odd thing is that this results in atheists who have a very rigid, strict definition of Christianity in which they don't believe...and in fact, I have been told several times that I'm not a true Christian by atheists.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5mn_Major View Post
    Thanks...it was an off the cuff comment. But I think its valid.



    I believe most atheists do think in terms of a literal view of the Bible. I would guess there are some who sign up for a literal Bible first...and then reject the overall premise and become atheists. And others who decide more vaguely that a God can't exist...and use a strawman of a literal Bible (7 day creation story) to validate their position.

    Either way, in my experience atheists who argue their case frequently rely on literalist evidence to make their case of how 'ridiculous' the Bible is. The odd thing is that this results in atheists who have a very rigid, strict definition of Christianity in which they don't believe...and in fact, I have been told several times that I'm not a true Christian by atheists.
    No, you've been told you're a unique Christian who doesn't practice what most would consider to be mainstream Christianity, i.e. Catholicism or any of the mainline Protestant churches. You've said before that Christ's divinity isn't a deal breaker for you, for instance.

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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by 5mn_Major View Post
    I believe most atheists do think in terms of a literal view of the Bible. I would guess there are some who sign up for a literal Bible first...and then reject the overall premise and become atheists. And others who decide more vaguely that a God can't exist...and use a strawman of a literal Bible (7 day creation story) to validate their position.

    Either way, in my experience atheists who argue their case frequently rely on literalist evidence to make their case of how 'ridiculous' the Bible is. The odd thing is that this results in atheists who have a very rigid, strict definition of Christianity in which they don't believe...and in fact, I have been told several times that I'm not a true Christian by atheists.
    Your experience with atheists has been nothing like mine. Although we are obviously not monolithic (given that atheism is merely the absence of a particular hobby, like "non-stamp collectors" or "non-third basemen") the vast majority of atheists I have talked with view the Bible as a collection of ethnic histories and supernatural myths. The Bible is like the Iliad -- some of the events portrayed were actual events, refracted through centuries of oral culture and centuries more of different written records by different peoples all with different agendas. The result is a fascinating peek at the worldview of a primitive society.

    It's not that you look at the Iliad and say "well, take that as a literal document and it's ridiculous so it's worthless!" But if you met somebody who proudly proclaimed that every single word in the Iliad is the literal truth and what's more if you don't accept that then you are forever lost, you would be forgiven if you said "viewing the Iliad as literal truth is ridiculous."

    Biblical stories about Adam and Eve are the type of creation story every pre-scientific culture on Earth has come up with -- but they are just that: stories. Fiction used to answer a "why?" and move on. Biblical stories about the flood are stolen from much earlier Mesopotamian explanations of one (or many) historical flood(s). Biblical stories about burning bushes are metaphors for the people of Israel considering themselves to be on a world-historical mission. Biblical stories about Jesus rising from the dead are parables about the undying influence of an idea. Biblical stories about prophesy are the Comments section on You Tube videos. And people who take all these literary works and put them into the category of literal historical fact are idiots.

    Many, probably most, of we who are not superstitious can appreciate the works of superstition as wonderful flights of human imagination. Time travel is a fun human idea, but god is an even more fun human idea.
    Last edited by Kepler; 04-09-2018 at 12:49 PM.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by unofan View Post
    No, you've been told you're a unique Christian who doesn't practice what most would consider to be mainstream Christianity.
    I've been told that too by skeptics. I'd mostly disagree...and I'd guess I spend considerably more time in conversation with those of faith.

    But I do have differences of opinion with conservative Christians. Do your views of morality align with conservative skeptics?

    Quote Originally Posted by unofan View Post
    You've said before that Christ's divinity isn't a deal breaker for you, for instance.
    Not sure specifically what your referring to. The only thing I can think of is my questioning of Paul's assertion (and I paraphrase) that Christianity is meaningless if Christ was not raised.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    I would say 5mn fits closest to the definition of "progressive Christianity", which from my understanding chooses to focus more on the Gospels, "love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, give everything to the poor" - you know, Jesus' actual message. As opposed to the less savory parts of the Bible about fire/brimstone for gays, overt misogyny, and conquering foreign lands in the name of an angry and jealous deity - the parts originally written mostly by Moses and Paul.

    It's good thing that there's a small group out there that gets 80% of it. Jesus never intended to start a new religion with himself as part of the godhead. So obviously the bits about rising from the dead and eternal afterlife in "heaven" are all nonsense interpreted from centuries old texts translated multiple times from dead languages, and written by men with a vested interest in controlling the peasants. However, that fits nicely into the hopey changey narrative, so it's fine. Just don't pretend that taking the Gospels and leaving the rest is mainstream Christian thought. The world would be a much better place if it were, though.
    Last edited by FadeToBlack&Gold; 04-09-2018 at 01:44 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5mn_Major View Post
    Not sure specifically what your referring to. The only thing I can think of is my questioning of Paul's assertion (and I paraphrase) that Christianity is meaningless if Christ was not raised.
    It may have been a couple of years ago at this point, but I distinctly remember you answering a question to the effect of saying that your religous views were not dependent on Jesus being divine. Essentially, that the message is more important than the messenger.

    I think most Christians place belief in Jesus' divinity as a defining characteristic, if not the sole characteristic, of being a Christian.

    I'm not saying they're right and you're wrong, I'm simply stating you don't speak for the majority.
    Last edited by unofan; 04-09-2018 at 02:16 PM.

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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by unofan View Post
    It may have been a couple of years ago at this point, but I distinctly remember you answering a question to the effect of saying that your religous views were not dependent on Jesus being divine. Essentially, that the message is more important than the messenger.

    I think most Christians place belief in Jesus' divinity as a defining characteristic, if not the sole characteristic, of being a Christian.

    I'm not saying they're right and you're wrong, I'm simply stating you don't speak for the majority.
    Doesn't Jesus need to rise from the dead in order to prove his divinity, and be labeled as the Christ figure? If you don't believe that happened, then you're more of a Jesusian than a Christian.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by unofan View Post
    It may have been a couple of years ago at this point, but I distinctly remember you answering a question to the effect of saying that your religous views were not dependent on Jesus being divine. Essentially, that the message is more important than the messenger.

    I think most Christians place belief in Jesus' divinity as a defining characteristic, if not the sole characteristic, of being a Christian.

    I'm not saying they're right and you're wrong, I'm simply stating you don't speak for the majority.
    I will clarify my POV on this (which hasn't changed). I believe Jesus is God. Both are love. Based on this definition, people have been inspired to do great works for mankind. I can't prove God exists...but I can prove He has had a major tangible impact in peoples lives and societal compassion for several hundred years. Perhaps in a way that makes His defined existence to society more important than his divinity.

    But I would still bet His divinity has and continues to raise the stakes for those contemplating their personal path.

    Quote Originally Posted by FadeToBlack&Gold View Post
    I would say 5mn fits closest to the definition of "progressive Christianity", which from my understanding chooses to focus more on the Gospels, "love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, give everything to the poor" - you know, Jesus' actual message. As opposed to the less savory parts of the Bible about fire/brimstone for gays, overt misogyny, and conquering foreign lands in the name of an angry and jealous deity - the parts originally written mostly by Moses and Paul.

    It's good thing that there's a small group out there that gets 80% of it. Jesus never intended to start a new religion with himself as part of the godhead. So obviously the bits about rising from the dead and eternal afterlife in "heaven" are all nonsense interpreted from centuries old texts translated multiple times from dead languages, and written by men with a vested interest in controlling the peasants. However, that fits nicely into the hopey changey narrative, so it's fine. Just don't pretend that taking the Gospels and leaving the rest is mainstream Christian thought. The world would be a much better place if it were, though.
    I recently attended a small group in a cities' exurb. The group consisted of leaders of other Christian groups and it was my first/last time. Even with my views, this collection of group leaders, none of which knew me, unanimously picked me for spokesperson (and BTW the presenter for the larger group said he said he thought I was the one who should be presenting).

    I'm only saying this to say that even in a diverse group...there's a lot of alignment of what this stuff really means.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by FadeToBlack&Gold View Post
    It's good thing that there's a small group out there that gets 80% of it. Jesus never intended to start a new religion with himself as part of the godhead. So obviously the bits about rising from the dead and eternal afterlife in "heaven" are all nonsense interpreted from centuries old texts translated multiple times from dead languages, and written by men with a vested interest in controlling the peasants. However, that fits nicely into the hopey changey narrative, so it's fine. Just don't pretend that taking the Gospels and leaving the rest is mainstream Christian thought. The world would be a much better place if it were, though.
    Tommy Jefferson, is that you?

    This is pretty much how I see it, too, although I'd add we really have no idea what Jesus wanted because the Gospels are mediated through the PR department that developed after his death. And the fact that they are synoptic? Well, they knew each other. I'm guessing they probably talked.

    5mn says "God is Love." I'd reverse it and say Love is God and in that case, sure, count me as a theist. Like fellow Cornellian (albeit briefly) Huey Lewis, I do believe in Love.

    But in the context of 5mn's statement, what is Love? (Those guys were NOT Cornellians!*). It seems to me that Love in this discussion is the part of man's mind that is "outside of nature," to the extent that it at least seems to be doing stuff like self-sacrifice, but after consideration and not by instinct, which the rest of the animals and rocks and such don't appear to do. God is really Conscience then.

    For more about the science of conscience there are a million books out there by neurologists and let's just say that supernaturalism is not in fact required.

    * At least... I don't think so.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by Kepler View Post
    Your experience with atheists has been nothing like mine. Although we are obviously not monolithic (given that atheism is merely the absence of a particular hobby, like "non-stamp collectors" or "non-third basemen") the vast majority of atheists I have talked with view the Bible as a collection of ethnic histories and supernatural myths. The Bible is like the Iliad -- some of the events portrayed were actual events, refracted through centuries of oral culture and centuries more of different written records by different peoples all with different agendas. The result is a fascinating peek at the worldview of a primitive society.
    Don't have more than a few minutes to take a cursory look at your post.

    But what I said...atheists being literalists is not inconsistent with them believing the Bible is mythical. I believe if you spent much time discussing the existence of God with them, you'd find the impossibility of specific references from that 'myth' being a big part of their defense.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by St. Clown View Post
    Doesn't Jesus need to rise from the dead in order to prove his divinity, and be labeled as the Christ figure? If you don't believe that happened, then you're more of a Jesusian than a Christian.
    Well theoretically he doesn't have to prove anything. Herod asked him to do tricks and he told Herod to get stuffed. He could have told his disciples that either they had Faith or not but he wasn't going to cheapen it by another overt miraculous act. I mean, Christ, you've got Lazarus, what more do you want?

    But I think most Christians believe that if you could prove Jesus didn't rise from the dead and the Gospels are lying about it then that about wraps it up for the Carpenter's Son. Which would be a shame, because he seems like he was a pretty decent person. No Martha Nussbaum, but still, better than the run of the mill.

    It's not his fault that some of his followers turned out to be jackwagons.
    Last edited by Kepler; 04-09-2018 at 04:13 PM.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by 5mn_Major View Post
    Don't have more than a few minutes to take a cursory look at your post.

    But what I said...atheists being literalists is not inconsistent with them believing the Bible is mythical. I believe if you spent much time discussing the existence of God with them, you'd find the impossibility of specific references from that 'myth' being a big part of their defense.
    I would like it if you read the post at your leisure. This answer misses the point and I think I have anticipated your remarks.

    The idea that atheists are "literalists" is more and more confusing to me. I don't think at this point I understand what you mean by this. But I'll wait for you to have time because patience is a virtue as they said in CCD.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by 5mn_Major View Post
    Don't have more than a few minutes to take a cursory look at your post.

    But what I said...atheists being literalists is not inconsistent with them believing the Bible is mythical. I believe if you spent much time discussing the existence of God with them, you'd find the impossibility of specific references from that 'myth' being a big part of their defense.
    Are you trying to argue that atheists say, "The Bible either has to be literally true OR it can't be true at all. And since it can't be literally true, then it must be just myth and therefore God can't exist."?

    The only people I've heard use that kind of "logic" are believers. For example, C.S. Lewis's argument in Mere Christianity that Jesus either had to be the divine son of God OR he had to be a madman - there can't possibly be any other alternative. And, since he was not a madman, then it is therefore *proven* that he is the divine son of God. QED.

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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by LynahFan View Post
    For example, C.S. Lewis's argument in Mere Christianity that Jesus either had to be the divine son of God OR he had to be a madman - there can't possibly be any other alternative. And, since he was not a madman, then it is therefore *proven* that he is the divine son of God. QED.
    That argument by Lewis really brought home to me the power of an ideology to turn a thinking person into a mindless automaton. His actual term was, IIRC, either he is the son of God or he is "the most evil man in history." It was such grotesquely juvenile rhetoric that it stunned me.

    His The Discarded Image is one of the most sublime, subtle, gentle works of history and criticism -- a work that makes you a better thinker and quite likely a better person just by reading in the way only a few others (Emerson, Tolstoy, Le Guin, Nussbaum) has struck me. That a man who wrote that could also write that was a horrific example of the power of an ideology to stunt and deform even a truly great mind.
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    Re: Religion Thread: ...and suddenly, everyone's a theology scholar

    Quote Originally Posted by LynahFan View Post
    Are you trying to argue that atheists say, "The Bible either has to be literally true OR it can't be true at all. And since it can't be literally true, then it must be just myth and therefore God can't exist."?

    The only people I've heard use that kind of "logic" are believers. For example, C.S. Lewis's argument in Mere Christianity that Jesus either had to be the divine son of God OR he had to be a madman - there can't possibly be any other alternative. And, since he was not a madman, then it is therefore *proven* that he is the divine son of God. QED.

    Only a Sith deals in absolutes.
    No and I think I stated an example below of what I mean. Not always but frequently, atheists I have talked to seem to raise specifics of the Bible as being outlandish (age of the world), discount the Bible, then proceed to discount God. This manifests itself in many ways...but it all comes back to the same thing - I don't believe in the God (that's literally depicted in the Bible). I talk to Christians several times of week and in all my years, I don't recall anyone discussing the 'Biblical' age of the earth vs. the scientific age of the earth. Its just irrelevant for the Jesus platform.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kepler View Post
    Your experience with atheists has been nothing like mine. Although we are obviously not monolithic (given that atheism is merely the absence of a particular hobby, like "non-stamp collectors" or "non-third basemen") the vast majority of atheists I have talked with view the Bible as a collection of ethnic histories and supernatural myths. The Bible is like the Iliad -- some of the events portrayed were actual events, refracted through centuries of oral culture and centuries more of different written records by different peoples all with different agendas. The result is a fascinating peek at the worldview of a primitive society.

    It's not that you look at the Iliad and say "well, take that as a literal document and it's ridiculous so it's worthless!" But if you met somebody who proudly proclaimed that every single word in the Iliad is the literal truth and what's more if you don't accept that then you are forever lost, you would be forgiven if you said "viewing the Iliad as literal truth is ridiculous."

    Biblical stories about Adam and Eve are the type of creation story every pre-scientific culture on Earth has come up with -- but they are just that: stories. Fiction used to answer a "why?" and move on. Biblical stories about the flood are stolen from much earlier Mesopotamian explanations of one (or many) historical flood(s). Biblical stories about burning bushes are metaphors for the people of Israel considering themselves to be on a world-historical mission. Biblical stories about Jesus rising from the dead are parables about the undying influence of an idea. Biblical stories about prophesy are the Comments section on You Tube videos. And people who take all these literary works and put them into the category of literal historical fact are idiots.

    Many, probably most, of we who are not superstitious can appreciate the works of superstition as wonderful flights of human imagination. Time travel is a fun human idea, but god is an even more fun human idea.
    OK...unpacking.

    1. 'The vast majority of atheists I have talked with view the Bible as a collection of ethnic histories and supernatural myths' - as stated, something can be both literal and mythical at the same time.

    2. 'And people who take all these literary works and put them into the category of literal historical fact are idiots' - OK...sounds like you get its not literal. I buy that.

    2. 'Biblical stories about Adam and Eve are the type of creation story every pre-scientific culture on Earth has come up with -- but they are just that: stories' - So we go from the Bible is not literal - to these are stories. Makes sense - every retelling of events is a story.

    4. 'Many, probably most, of we who are not superstitious can appreciate the works of superstition as wonderful flights of human imagination. Time travel is a fun human idea, but god is an even more fun human idea' - This is where the conclusion gap is. Usually atheists use a literal Bible to bridge the gap that the 'Bible has stories' to 'God doesn't exist'. I see you accepting a conceptual Bible, but then just moving to God doesn't exist. Not sure on what rationale that conclusion rests.
    Last edited by 5mn_Major; 04-10-2018 at 02:52 PM.
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