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#16    DeWitz

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 04:01 PM

View PostDoug1o29, on 27 June 2013 - 08:55 PM, said:

Ron,
I went from Christian to agnostic/atheist as a result of reading the Bible.  I decided to find out what the historical and scientific explanations for biblical phenomena were.  Boy, did I get a shock.  I started with the Pentateuch.  There are 34 references to Baal in the Pentateuch, but only three to Jehovah.  The "Israelites" were Baal worshippers.  The violent god of the OT is Baal.  Read the story of Balaam and the talking donkey.  Make careful note of who is speaking.  Baal is referred to as "the Almighty" and "Lord."

There are rational explanations for everything mentioned in the Exodus - the "walls of water" at the "Red Sea Crossing" are easily explained by surge and seiche waves.  The pillar of cloud and pillar of fire were signaling torches and smokeboxes on a long pole, used to signal the troops.

There is no solid evidence that Jesus ever lived.  Nobody says he talked to him; nobody even met anybody who met him.  From the date of Jesus' (hypothetical) death to the time that a writer first mentions the four modern gospels is 150 years.

I grant that it is difficult to free yourself from the crushing, stifling weight of Abrahamic religion, but it is well worth doing once you get there.
Doug

Doug, just a couple of correctives. "Jehovah" never appears in the Old Testament or new. "YHWH" does, unappointed by vowels, as the ancient Hebrews did not utilize them in their first hundreds of years of texts. Some groups (e.g., the Jehovah's Witnesses) translate "YHWH" as "Jehovah," as do a few older Bible translations. "Elohim," usually translated in English as "the Lord," also appears hundreds of times in scripture. 'Baal' appears also, many times, because it was the Canaanite feritility god, a rival to the Hebrew deity. It is a separate tribal god used as a foil for the Hebrew assertion of the oneness of "YHWH." Baal worship was a recurring apostasy, or heresy, of the early Jewish adherents. That's why 'Baal" appears so frequently; not because it is identical to 'YHWH."

Jesus lived. There are several references to him in Josephus, Suetonius and other contemporary historians. The laughable idea that he didn't exist because no one ever spoke with him could be applied to many ancient figures such as Homer, Plato, Aristotle and many others We know these ancients by what they wrote (not Jesus) or by who wrote about them (the evangelists, Paul, dozens of other non-canonical gospels, letters and treatises, and 1900 years of theologians, monks and mystics). Jesus lived; it's what his followers made of him that matters. [I've never spoken with you, but I believe you exist.]

Jesus died, in all probability and according to internal (scriptural) and external (historical) sources , in A.D. 30 or 33. The most recent scholarship dates Mark's gospel (Mark claims to be an eyewitness) around 75-80 A.D. This is 40+ years, not "150." The last gospel to be written was John, around 120 A.D., 90-odd years after Jesus--again, not "150." Paul's writings were all from the 50's-70's; only 20-40 years removed from the earthly Jesus; not "150."

Your other comments are standard, decent, logical explanations for what are usually labeled 'supernatural' events.

Ron and Doug, for all the wars, witch hunts, oppression, forced conversions, etc., spawned by Imperial Christianity, don't forget that grass-roots Christianity created hospitals, hospices, shelters in time of war and famine, encouraged literacy and preserved learning in the monasteries during the Dark Ages. No religion is perfect; some are worse than others; Christianity isn't all bad.

Edited by szentgyorgy, 29 June 2013 - 04:08 PM.

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#17    rimbaudelaire

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 07:43 PM

View PostlibstaK, on 29 June 2013 - 03:19 AM, said:

I don't know why you think Buddhism is incompatible with Christianity - I am a christian yet I love buddhist practices and teachings.  I find them very compatible, the fact that they do not believe in a supreme being and I do has not caused any issues, a path that is tolerant of what is inside others allows others to explore themselves and that is what Buddhism is.

As to my christian beliefs, I am a christian because I was baptised as a Roman Catholic but more importantly because I love Jesus and his teachings - beyond that my leanings are toward more gnostic teachings and they insist we also know what is inside us in very much the same way buddhism does.  Dogma cloaks and camouflages the wisdom that is available in christianity and that is a shame, if we step outside that we can keep our faith and practice it much more generously, at least that has been my experience so far.
libstaK, great post. There are many Jews are pursuing Buddhist practices while still retaining their Jewish beliefs, much in the way you depict your situation.


#18    Doug1o29

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 08:52 PM

View Postszentgyorgy, on 29 June 2013 - 04:01 PM, said:

Doug, just a couple of correctives. "Jehovah" never appears in the Old Testament or new. "YHWH" does, unappointed by vowels, as the ancient Hebrews did not utilize them in their first hundreds of years of texts. Some groups (e.g., the Jehovah's Witnesses) translate "YHWH" as "Jehovah," as do a few older Bible translations. "Elohim," usually translated in English as "the Lord," also appears hundreds of times in scripture. 'Baal' appears also, many times, because it was the Canaanite feritility god, a rival to the Hebrew deity. It is a separate tribal god used as a foil for the Hebrew assertion of the oneness of "YHWH." Baal worship was a recurring apostasy, or heresy, of the early Jewish adherents. That's why 'Baal" appears so frequently; not because it is identical to 'YHWH."
It is Jewish custom not to pronounce the name of G-d.  A lack of vowels is a way to get around that restriction.  I usually use the King James Version - more elegant language, if somewhat obsolete.  And it uses "Jehovah."  Let's not let words get in the way of communicating.  "Lord" is sometimes used as a reference to Baal - not always, but you have to translations to know what applies in a particular verse.  Most people don't bother.  Baalzephon (Genesis) is the low hill, Gebel Seifa, about 4.5 miles southeast of the site of the "Red Sea Crossing."  If the "east" wind that saved your a-- blew from Baal Zephon's hill straight toward you and the crossing site, who would you think sent it?  There are numerous other gods in the Pentateuch, as well - Hathor, Ra, Amun, Sin, Aten/Adon/Atum, but Baal gets the most press.

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Jesus lived.
Correction:  Jesus MAY have lived.  There is no reliable evidence.  I have listed a lot of it in previous threads and don't have the time right now.

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There are several references to him in Josephus,
The Testimonium Flavianum and Brother James references are Christian redactions.  That's easy to demonstrate (See the thread on Four Reasons to Believe that Jesus Lived.).  Besides, Josephus was born after Jesus died and did most of his writing between 72 and 92 AD - he's not a contemporary of Jesus.

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Suetonius and other contemporary historians.
If you are referring to the "Christos" quote, remember that "Christos" refers to the Hare Krishnas.  Some ancient writers, were quite confused about that detail.  Suetonius lived from 69 to 122 AD.  He's not a contemporary, either.

Seneca (who may be the actual author of proto-Matthew/Mark) lived from 4 BC to 65 AD.  Be careful if you're using him as your authority, because that amounts to admitting that he wrote the gospels.  At least, we have some evidence that he might have and none that he didn't.

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The laughable idea that he didn't exist because no one ever spoke with him could be applied to many ancient figures such as Homer, Plato, Aristotle and many others We know these ancients by what they wrote (not Jesus)
Nobody is claiming these people were gods.  And some of their students did the writing - a first-person account is acceptable as evidence.  Second-hand information is not.

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or by who wrote about them (the evangelists, Paul, dozens of other non-canonical gospels, letters and treatises,
There's is no evidence that ANY of the four evangelists ever lived, either.  Nobody ever met one.  Nobody wrote about eating dinner with one.  In fact, we don't know who might have written any of the gospels.

Paul never met Jesus.  His only information results from a vision - he made it up.  Paul supposedly lived in Jerusalem when Jesus was executed, but he doesn't mention it.  He doesn't mention the virgin birth, either.

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and 1900 years of theologians, monks and mystics).
Proves nothing because they had no information that we don't have (At least, they never wrote about it.).  We even have a lot of information such as the Dead Sea Scrolls that they lacked.

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Jesus lived; it's what his followers made of him that matters. [I've never spoken with you, but I believe you exist.]
A supposition in either case.  Although, something is typing this.

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Jesus died, in all probability and according to internal (scriptural) and external (historical) sources , in A.D. 30 or 33.
There are two dates in the gospels - March 22, 33 AD and April 3, 33 AD.  Pick one - you can't have it both ways.  These rely on the "great darkness" being a solar eclipse (March 22) or the execution having taken place on Passover (April 3).  No other date can explain the "great darkness."

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The most recent scholarship dates Mark's gospel (Mark claims to be an eyewitness) around 75-80 A.D. This is 40+ years, not "150." The last gospel to be written was John, around 120 A.D., 90-odd years after Jesus--again, not "150." Paul's writings were all from the 50's-70's; only 20-40 years removed from the earthly Jesus; not "150."
We should take some time and go over the evidence in detail.  What the gospels actually say, what ancient writers actually say, etc.

There is no actual reference to any of the gospels before Theophilus of Antioch mentioned John shortly before he died in 180 AD.  Irenaeus mentioned Matthew in Book I of Against Heresies (about 183 AD).  He mentioned all four gospels in Book III, about 186 AD.  There are no earlier references to the four traditional gospels.  There are, however, a number of non-canonical gospels of much earlier date.

I have studied the question of when the gospels were written.  Writers during the first 400 years of Christianity had a habit of taking somebody else's information and embellishing it.  Some of these embellishments refer to events that can be dated.  Doing this places the writing of Mark and Matthew about 132 to 135 AD, Luke and Acts were written about 159 AD and John between then and 180 AD.  I'll be glad to back these up.

A word about scholarship, whether science or historical or theological.  Anybody who wants to get the training can do it.  Appeals to writers whose names you don't even know and whose lines of reason you can't reproduce are wasted effort.

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Christianity isn't all bad.
I never said it was.  To paraphrase Gandhi:  "I like your Christ; it's your Christians I can't stand."

Christianity has done some good, but so have pagans and Islam, and Buddhists.  As far as I can tell, nobody is any better than anybody else.  And nobody knows it all.  It's just that some Christians try to hide their ignorance with fairy tails.

If I were to choose a religion, I would like that religion to be based on fact to the greatest extent possible.  I would like to look at the evidence and find no discrepancies between the claims and the reality I observe.
Doug

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Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance. --Hippocrates
Ignorance is not an opinion. --Adam Scott

#19    flbrnt

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 11:46 PM

I was shocked when the Reverend Billy Graham said he was ignorant of other faiths. Here is this guy proclaiming his religion is the best one and yet he doesn't know what the others teach. How does he know his is the best? He was a pretty old man at the time. He had had plenty of time to educate himself if he had run his mouth less.


#20    libstaK

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 01:38 AM

View Postflbrnt, on 29 June 2013 - 11:46 PM, said:

I was shocked when the Reverend Billy Graham said he was ignorant of other faiths. Here is this guy proclaiming his religion is the best one and yet he doesn't know what the others teach. How does he know his is the best? He was a pretty old man at the time. He had had plenty of time to educate himself if he had run his mouth less.
I think that applies to a great many folk.  To claim you have the only piece of wisdom left on this earth by God without having explored all the wisdom teachings of the Earth is myopic and ignorant as well as just plain arrogant.

"I warn you, whoever you are, oh you who wish to probe the arcanes of nature, if you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither shall you find it outside.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house, how do you intend to find other excellencies?
In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

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#21    Beany

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 09:53 PM

View PostRon Jeremy, on 26 June 2013 - 09:39 PM, said:

I am constantly shocked and sad over the fact that average Americans are completely ignorant outside of their Abrahamic faith.

There are more than Christianity. In fact, there's whole plethora of different and often incompatible beliefs.

I am still struggling to break free from the shackle of Christianity. I am going through a lot of difficulties these days and the idea of this Abrahamic deity tortures my mind. I have trouble breaking free from the thought of a monotheistic deity influencing my life.

In fact, I envy atheists and people who raised from non-Abrahamic backgrounds. At least they don't have to live in fear of a jealous and petty deity who tortures people just to make a point.

Some Korean guy joked that the book of Deuteronomy is more exciting than The Shining or Carrie. Well, actually it's very torturous to me because I simply can't shake off the idea of a punishing deity.

You know, I simply want to live a good life and pursue whatever spirituality I want to study. I am very interested in Buddhism and Taoism, and they are very incompatible with monotheistic Abrahamic worldview. The only thing that holds me back from freely pursuing my spiritual quest is my excruciating hardship.

Sounds like someone put the fear ot God into, and I'm betting it wasn't God. Christianity isn't keeping you shackled, you are, because of your fears and you are preventing yourself from pursuing your spiritual quest. Well, actually, you ARE on a quest. I have always told my kids that anything they do, any decision they make, based on fear will always turn out badly. My truth is, Ron, that everyone has opinions about what God says, thinks, or does, but nobody really knows for sure. These people depend on religious history, the weight of church leaders, their credentials, their titles, etc. to convince people. There are those who have had a personal experience of the divine, those people MIGHT know. I decided to stop taking anyone's word for it, especially men who've been dead for over 2000 years, some of whose stories or words were written down hundreds of years after their deaths, which had to take its toll on accuracy, who came out of a different culture. I really don't believe God demand that we jettison our common sense. The Church might, but not God. I decided to find out for myself, and it's been a worthwhile journey. You can explore other traditions and still honor your own if that's what you want to do. Listen to your heart, let it guide you, I believe that is the path to the sacred.


#22    ambelamba

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 01:05 AM

If God demands us to abandon our common sense, that God doesn't deserve to be worshiped.

They came with a Bible and their religion. stole our land, crushed our spirit, and now they tell us we should be thankful to the Lord for being saved.

-Chief Pontiac (1718-1769)

#23    Doug1o29

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:02 AM

View PostRon Jeremy, on 01 July 2013 - 01:05 AM, said:

If God demands us to abandon our common sense, that God doesn't deserve to be worshiped.
An atheist in the making.
Doug

If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants. --Bernard de Chartres
The beginning of knowledge is the realization that one doesn't and cannot know everything.
Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance. --Hippocrates
Ignorance is not an opinion. --Adam Scott

#24    ambelamba

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:16 AM

View PostDoug1o29, on 01 July 2013 - 02:02 AM, said:

An atheist in the making.
Doug

Ummm....not quite. But I have no intention to go back to that Desert Spook and his power bottom son.

Edited by Ron Jeremy, 01 July 2013 - 02:16 AM.

They came with a Bible and their religion. stole our land, crushed our spirit, and now they tell us we should be thankful to the Lord for being saved.

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#25    Bluefinger

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 12:26 PM

View PostRon Jeremy, on 26 June 2013 - 09:39 PM, said:

I am constantly shocked and sad over the fact that average Americans are completely ignorant outside of their Abrahamic faith.

There are more than Christianity. In fact, there's whole plethora of different and often incompatible beliefs.

I am still struggling to break free from the shackle of Christianity. I am going through a lot of difficulties these days and the idea of this Abrahamic deity tortures my mind. I have trouble breaking free from the thought of a monotheistic deity influencing my life.

In fact, I envy atheists and people who raised from non-Abrahamic backgrounds. At least they don't have to live in fear of a jealous and petty deity who tortures people just to make a point.

Some Korean guy joked that the book of Deuteronomy is more exciting than The Shining or Carrie. Well, actually it's very torturous to me because I simply can't shake off the idea of a punishing deity.

You know, I simply want to live a good life and pursue whatever spirituality I want to study. I am very interested in Buddhism and Taoism, and they are very incompatible with monotheistic Abrahamic worldview. The only thing that holds me back from freely pursuing my spiritual quest is my excruciating hardship.

I know you mentioned something about OCD, but what exactly is your hardship?  If you don't mind me asking, I mean.

It is not enough to have a good mind.  The main thing is to use it well.     - Descartes

#26    GreenmansGod

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 12:58 PM

View PostRon Jeremy, on 01 July 2013 - 02:16 AM, said:

Ummm....not quite. But I have no intention to go back to that Desert Spook and his power bottom son.

I hear you bro.   Take that book out and bury it and give it back to the Earth. Whatever path you follow may it be fruitful.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." Salman Rushdie

#27    Doug1o29

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 12:58 PM

View PostRon Jeremy, on 01 July 2013 - 02:16 AM, said:

Ummm....not quite. But I have no intention to go back to that Desert Spook and his power bottom son.
If you keep thinking, you'll end up either an atheist or an agnostic.  Bottom line:  religion doesn't have any answers.
Doug

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Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance. --Hippocrates
Ignorance is not an opinion. --Adam Scott

#28    Paranoid Android

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:42 PM

View PostDoug1o29, on 01 July 2013 - 12:58 PM, said:


If you keep thinking, you'll end up either an atheist or an agnostic.  Bottom line:  religion doesn't have any answers.
Doug
It worked well enough for me. So often I see people who have left religion tell those who are questioning that religion doesn't have the answers, theft if they just keep as they are they'll follow the path they did.

And yet, at the end of the day, my questioning led to believing in the Christian God. And sure, I don't expect everyone to agree, and I don't expect everyone to take the same path I did. But blanket statements that a person who questions religion is on the path to agnosticism/atheism is just plain wrong.

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#29    DeWitz

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:57 PM

View PostDoug1o29, on 01 July 2013 - 02:02 AM, said:

An atheist in the making.
Doug

Doug---regarding post #18--you did a fine job of refuting points I didn't make (example: Your contention that "Baal" is used more often than "Jehovah" in the OT; YHWH and Elohim occur hundreds of times; you refute that by trying to educate me about YHWH, which is sometimes transliterated as 'Jehovah,' and I already noted where; that response is pure tautology; your attempted refutation that Jesus is as historically attested as Aristotle, Plato and others, which you respond to by saying "they weren't called gods"---which I never said they were!--and nor did I say that of Jesus. I was speaking of ancient criteria establishing historicity, not "godness." That response was unresponsive).

Your approach to these questions of historicity was old in the "god is dead" era of the 1960's, and I read all about them when I was 13 years old haunting a Buffalo public library. "There's nothing new under the sun" here, Doug.

Your 'scholarship' is sclerotic--especially if you use the King James Version. If I were diplomatic, I'd call your analysis 'quaint'--but I ain't.

Edited by szentgyorgy, 01 July 2013 - 03:01 PM.

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#30    DeWitz

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 03:13 PM

View PostParanoid Android, on 01 July 2013 - 02:42 PM, said:

It worked well enough for me. So often I see people who have left religion tell those who are questioning that religion doesn't have the answers, theft if they just keep as they are they'll follow the path they did.

And yet, at the end of the day, my questioning led to believing in the Christian God. And sure, I don't expect everyone to agree, and I don't expect everyone to take the same path I did. But blanket statements that a person who questions religion is on the path to agnosticism/atheism is just plain wrong.

My path was similar. I've run the gamut from childish, childhood, childlike faith to questioning, rejection, despair, wandering, and back again---by different paths. If questioning God or anything about God makes one a nascent agnostic/atheist, then Jesus himself was well on his way in Gethsemane, and ready for induction into the Atheist Hall of Fame on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!" Of course he was repeating an ancient plea (Psalm 22) of humanity engaged with/enraged with the evanescent Divine.

Some atheists are as unjustifiably "certain" of themselves as Billy Graham (and others) are accused of being, with just as much reason. And, of course, some believers (in all religions) give faith a bad name. . .

[previously incarnate as 'szentgyorgy']

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