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05-18-1999, 11:57 PM
There are so many different religions in the world, there doctrins are so diverse that they can't all be right. Who and why do you think one or more are correct?

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ObbieWon

05-19-1999, 12:03 AM
Because I never argue with the voices in my head.

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"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter Thompson

05-19-1999, 11:55 AM
The first thing to do, of course, is find out the ones that can be proven fraudulent. For example, the Book of Mormon is supposed to be a miraculously accurate translation of a miraculously preserved pre-Columbian document recording (among other things) appearences of Jesus in the New World after His life in Judea. But it quotes from the King James Bible, and, in particular, it includes the medieval addition, "For thine is the Kingdom...." in the Lord's Prayer. Ergo, the Book of Mormon is a forgery. Similarly, it is well known that Wicca is no older than the 1930's.

Other cults, like Scientology, can be pretty well identified by their behavior. Still others (most attempts at "modern" religion) can be traced to plain wishful thinking of one sort or another, usually either something like, "Take away all this icky theology and give me some nice religion," on the one side or, "The modern world is too confusing; I want everything to be in sharp black and white," on the other.

Those rules don't eliminate everything, but they eliminates a lot.

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John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams

05-19-1999, 01:25 PM
Uhm . . . From everything I've read, Wiccan-style rights have been traced back thousands of years, pre-dating Christianity. Wicca is not an "organized religion" per se, but the basic tenants have been around for a loooong time.

There is no way to determine the "true" religion, or, for that matter, there's no way to prove, beyond a doubt, that supernatural deities exist at all. It's all a matter of your own personal faiths and beliefs. The Moslem believes in his faith as passionatly as the Christian or the Hindu. Why does any religion have to be "wrong?"

Personally, I like to think of God/ess as a warm, loving, compassionate figure who watches his/her children, but doesn't directly intervene. And a creature of such greatness wouldn't be as petty as to debate minor points of theology. S/He would love the Buddhist, the Moslem and the Christian all the same.

05-19-1999, 01:31 PM
Lissa, would your perfect God/ess love the atheists just the same, too? If s/he/it is perfect, it would have to follow that s/he/it does.



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I don't know who first said "everyone's a critic," but I think it's a really stupid saying.

05-19-1999, 01:39 PM
Hardly anybody "decides" on a religion! With the exception of a few pockets of freethinkers (I'll bet almost everybody on this board falls into this minority) people blindly follow the faith of their forebearers. Tradition (and lack of birth control) is the driving force in the success of any religion.

As for the idea that you can reconcile all religions as being valid: Can't be done. The Unitarian and Universal Churches have given that one a try and are constantly running up against contradictions that simply must be ignored to maintain peace within the church.

Someone told me a story about a church in the mid-west who's only requirement for membership was that you believe in a single god. Then a debate broke out over the Holy Trinity and half the congregation built a new church across the street!

05-19-1999, 02:08 PM
To the extent that all of them can tell us what's right or wrong [morally that is] they're All right. But even non-religious people can do that.

To the ridiculous extent that they all argue about WHO is right---they prove themselves wrong-----chiefly because .as the feller sez, "No body ain't come back yet to tell us who is or who AIN'T .

"Who is right" is the biggest bunch of bull the world has ever been subjected to---and to hell with that infinitive!

05-19-1999, 02:09 PM
John W. Kennedy wrote:

The first thing to do, of course, is find out the ones that can be proven fraudulent. For example, the Book of Mormon is supposed to be a miraculously accurate translation of a miraculously preserved pre-Columbian document recording (among other things) appearences of Jesus in the New World after His life in Judea. But it quotes from the King James Bible, and, in particular, it includes the medieval addition, "For thine is the Kingdom...." in the Lord's Prayer. Ergo, the Book of Mormon is a forgery. (Bolding mine--Snarkberry)


Of course it contains quotes from the Bible. The original writers of the Book of Mormon had the Old Testament on brass plates up to 600 B.C.E., and they quoted from it because they felt that the message was important to preserve for future generations. The Book of Mormon is no more a forgery because it quotes from the KJV Bible than the KJV New Testament is for quoting the KJV Old Testament.

05-19-1999, 02:29 PM
Ezstrete writes:To the ridiculous extent that they all argue about WHO is right---they prove themselves wrong-----chiefly because .as the feller sez, "No body ain't come back yet to tell us who is or who AIN'T .Please what you mean by this.

I agree that it might be impossible to prove who is right and who is wrong. But that doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't a right and wrong here. Some religions have beliefs which are incompatible with some other religions, and therefore they cannot both be correct, so at least one of them is wrong, even if we cannot prove which one. But that does not mean that all religions are wrong! If you feel it does, then please show how!

Lissa wrotePersonally, I like to think of God/ess as a warm, loving, compassionate figure who watches his/her children, but doesn't directly intervene. And a creature of such greatness wouldn't be as petty as to debate minor points of theology. S/He would love the Buddhist, the Moslem and the Christian all the same.I'd like to make two points about this:

(1) Indeed the Parent would love all the children. But that would not stop the Parent from being unhappy if the children misbehave. In fact, my guess is that the more a parent loves the children, the more s/he is upset when the children do misbehave.

(2) When a parent informs the child that the child is misbehaving and should improve, an all-too-common reaction is for the child to accuse the parent of being "petty". I'd advise such children to spend some time learning the parent's value system.

05-19-1999, 02:38 PM
If s/he/it is perfect, it would have to follow that s/he/it does.

According to Richard Lederer, the preferred politically-correct, gender-neutral, third-person singular pronoun is "he-or-she/it", which can be abbreviated as "horshit".


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"For what a man had rather were true, he more readily believes" - Francis Bacon

05-19-1999, 04:55 PM
<< Personally, I like to think of God/ess as a... >>

A god (one that is immortal, and not specifically given a gender) does not need to reproduce (No Greek Mythology please) and therefore has no "real" gender. So according to English, as a being (real or not), is assigned as being male. If it were a force of nature, or nature "herself", or even a big ship, as a non-being, is assigned as being female.

<< According to Richard Lederer, the preferred politically-correct, gender-neutral, third-person singular pronoun is "he-or-she/it", which can be abbreviated as "horshit". >>

I think that trying to simplify the use of English by using "they", "them", and "their" as a gender neutral, third person, singular pronoun is not being politically correct (whatever that means) but more efficient than saying s/he/it, or "he or she".

Can anyone, including Mark Mal , answer this question: Would you use "he" or "she" as a pronoun, for a nurse, which is a predominately, but not all female profession? It's not a political question, just a question of what makes more sense.

Sorry for going off on a tangent.



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"If you are going to tell people the truth, be sure to make them laugh, for otherwise they will kill you." --George_Bernard_Shaw

05-19-1999, 05:26 PM
Keeves said:

<<I agree that it might be impossible to prove who is right and who is wrong. But that doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't a right and wrong here. Some religions have beliefs which are incompatible with some other religions, and therefore they cannot both be correct, so at least one of them is wrong, even if we cannot prove which one.>>


For all we know they may all be wrong.

Pete said:

<<Lissa, would your perfect God/ess love the atheists just the same, too? If s/he/it is perfect, it would have to follow that s/he/it does.>>

Of course. Perfect love trancends all earthly definitions of creed, race, sexual orientation and gender.

Keeves, a parent would be angry at us for misbehavihng, but we don't know for certain what the rules are. They're subject to interpretation. People argue about this sort of thing constantly.

Were you referring to Judeo-Christian law? Just as confusing. I live in a very religious community and I have seen many Protestant churches split over a minor point of doctrine.

No one knows for sure. I live by one rule: harm none. It seems to be pretty accepted on all fronts.

I just believe that all religions deserve respect and despite how strongly we believe that we, and only we, are right, it's disrespectful to stomp on another's beliefs and try to tell someone that they're wrong in everythng they hold sacred.

It's only when your religion tries to overshadow and muscle out mine that I get angry. Or when "morals" are forced on the masses through censorship.

"Trust in Allah, but tie your camel securely."

05-19-1999, 05:29 PM
Whoops!

Keeves said:

"I agree that it might be impossible to prove who is right and who is wrong. But that doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't a right and wrong here. Some religions have beliefs which are incompatible with some other religions, and therefore they cannot both be correct, so at least one of them is wrong, even if we cannot prove which."

And Pete said:

"Lissa, would your perfect God/ess love the atheists just the same, too? If s/he/it is perfect, it would have to follow that s/he/it does."

Man, I have got to learn how to do that cut and paste thing properly.

Sorry 'bout that.

05-19-1999, 05:51 PM
For Keeves------

When a religion maintains that they are RIGHT, and everybody else is WRONG, they immedietly assume an attitude incorporating intolerance, self-righteousness, bigotry, bias and egotism which is alien to the teachings of Christianity, Islam, Confucionism, Bhuddism Shinto, Unitarianism, Quakerism and all the rest of the 'isms'.

We'll know who is "right" on the day that some one of the 'departed' returns, grabs a bull-horn and shouts "listen up! - That group is right"

However, don't be surprised if another bull horn [that's bull-HORN] operator is heard shouting - "He's got it all wrong! According to our book"-------and so forth.

05-19-1999, 05:54 PM
Sort of the "Six Million Jesus Fans Can't be Worng" philosophy.

Intolerance is the true evil.

05-19-1999, 05:59 PM
MARK MAL -- Let this be a lesson to you -- never attempt to introduce a little levity to a religion thread. :)

As a comparative "newbie," but one who read many, many threads before deciding to speak up, I just want to point out a contradiction I've noticed and see if others have noticed it or think I've got it wrong. What I think I see here . . . (could I be any less precise? I run the risk of heading into "weaseldom" by attempting not to offend) . . . is that while many posters say they embrace religious tolerance, many others exhibit great disdain, even contempt, for religion in general. The irony is that it seems that some of people are in both camps, as if to say "believe what you want, I don't care -- but what you believe is stupid." I guess I just get the distinct impression that many believe that adherence to a religion (especially an established one) somehow relegates one to the second-tier of intellectualism. Whadaya think?

05-19-1999, 06:27 PM
Uhm . . . From everything I've read, Wiccan-style rights have been traced back thousands of years, pre-dating Christianity. Wicca is not an "organized religion" per se, but the basic tenants have been around for a loooong time.

Wicca itself doesn't date back 1000's of years. Wicca is a "revival" of older beliefs, but a much modified version - it was revived in the 40's by Gerald Gardner, who incorporated old Witchcraft beliefs as well as some Masonic and Golden Dawn (which Aleister Crowley founded and which also derives from Freemasonry) practices and added and removed a few things. Most Pagan beliefs are derived in part from the ancient Pagan practices that do predate Christianity - in fact, most Christian holidays have their origins in ancient Pagan celebrations of the solstices, equinoxes, etc. Even the terms "Christ" and "Christians" are based on the Pagan terms "Christos" and "Chrestian."


For the most part, the Neo-Pagan movement today is mostly comprised of reconstructionists, although there are pockets here and there of people who practice beliefs that have been passed down through the generations of their families.

My own beliefs fall into the latter category, and the closest I can come to describing them is to say that they're similar in nature to Native American beliefs. I do call myself "Witch" or "Pagan," although I look and dress just like anybody else. Most Pagans are freethinkers and tolerant of others.

Most religions/spiritual paths do have similarities - one example would be the great flood myths.

I tend to think all religions/spiritual paths are valid. No one way is "right" or "wrong." How can we prove the existence of God/Goddess/the Divine? We can't, so that's why we humanize it - we put it into terms or forms we can more easily comprehend.

Skat :)

Do not say, 'I have found the Spirit walking on my path,' for the Spirit walks on all paths... Just as there are many names for water, so also are there many names for God. Do not scoff where another bows down, for there your God is worshiped also ~ Kalil Gibran

05-19-1999, 06:28 PM
JODIH -- I consider myself to be a junior member -- er -- hanger on -- of this message board. A couple of times i've posted people have taken me too seriously and once even inferred i was a Nazi. I never get emotional, but do we have to always put smileys :) after each post to show we don't take ourselves too seriously :) I have really enjoyed your posts on the Prayer thread :)



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"If you are going to tell people the truth, be sure to make them laugh, for otherwise they will kill you." --George_Bernard_Shaw

05-19-1999, 07:32 PM
John W. Kennedy
Member posted 05-19-99 11:55 AM
The first thing to do, of course, is find out the ones that can be proven fraudulent. For example, the Book of Mormon...

Good job on showing tolerance of other faiths, there, JW. Now how about attacking the myth of a person being resurrected after three days (or even any number of days, for that matter)? After all, it's not just we LDS types who believe in that little part of Christanity.

And for those who didn't notice: I was being incredibly sarcastic with my remark about JW's tolerance.

05-19-1999, 08:05 PM
I hate posting to religion threads, but here I am anyway.
I have to back Monty on the tolerance issue. The validity of a faith cannot be dependant on its origin, but on the actions and attitudes shown by its followers. If the tenets of any given faith produce people who make this world a little better to live in, it MUST be pleasing to any conceivable benevolent deity. Of course, people who believe that God acts like a petty and capricious Middle-Eastern potentate will disagree with me...


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Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
"You cannot reason a man out of a position that he did not use reason to reach."

05-19-1999, 09:51 PM
For Skat!

Hey! It's the religionists who send out the proselyters----Those of us who don't feel a need for a group are the ones who are continuously being told to 'Get in line.'

We who are not 'groupies' are not against those who are---Matter of fact we don't even think about them 99.9% of the time.

Make that an even 100%

05-19-1999, 09:58 PM
They must all be real. Like Phyllis said on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, looking over Minneapolis, "If God isn't real, why would he have all those houses?" So, the real estate criterion defines it:the more temples ,the more real it is.

05-19-1999, 10:36 PM
In acts 2 the apostiles were in the upper room and the holy spirit came upon them and the all spoke of the same accord. If the holy spirit tells everyone the same thing and doesn't contridict itself why are ther baptists, lutherns, methodists as well as all other churches that profes to be christain with wide swings in ther religious beliefs? If god knows all, sees all ,hears all is evry place at the same time and nowhere is he not found. Why pray to saints when god can do it all? In revelation john keeps trying to worship the angle that he is with wonts to build an alter to him the angle keeps telling him to worship god and jesus only and not any graven images like saint charms, rosery beads, the bones of saints statues and other graven images. Does that leave any christians standing?

05-20-1999, 12:06 AM
Baloney. The book of mormon is true. The Lord told me so. Use whatever "proof" you want but I trust the Lord. If you would read the book of mormon, and pray, with real intent, to know if it was true, the Lord will also tell you that it is true. Now, as for your elininating churches that can be proven fraudulent, you would have to first decide which teachings of the lord are not fraudulent. You cannont discount a religion without knowing what it is that a religion should be.

05-20-1999, 12:33 AM
The Church of the Holy Frisbee.
That's where your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down.

05-20-1999, 02:11 AM
OK, I gotta jump in here, even against my better judgement.

Baptists, Lutherans, and Methodists do not necessarily disagree over anything, any more than we might with members of our own church. It's just that not everyone likes the same style of worship or polity.

Now before anyone jumps down my throat, of course I realize that this is an extremely idealistic view, but it is the theory behind many denominations. The founders of United Methodism, Disciples of Christ, United Churches of Christ, amoung others never thought that other denominations were wrong, only that they had developed specific methods (hence, in one case, Methodists) of helping people follow Christ.

Furthermore, although most Christians believe that the Holy Spirit has helped (and continues to help) guide tradition, even pre-Vatican II Catholicism defined only a small part of their doctrine as the garaunteed product of divine inspiration. In other words, the Spirit is consistant, but doesn't dictate every line in the church discipline. The teachings that different denominations do disagree on are pretty much agreed by most to be non-essential, even though one may feel very strongly about them. Of course there are a few assholes, and even entire denominations of assholes who think that they alone are loved by God, and everyone else can (and will) go to hell, but these are a much smaller minority than their vocalism makes them seem.

As for graven images, Obbie's ignorance about these things, rosary beads in particular, indicates that he's either had absolutly no contact with real Christians, or else was raised Catholic ;). None of the things you mentioned, Obbie, are worshipped by anyone, although Catholics and Orthodox may use rosary beads to help count their prayers, or those and any number of other things to help them focus on God while praying.

As for saints, well, I'm not Catholic, but there is this pretty universal doctrine called the Communion of the Saints, which says that all believers are part of a common community united by their faith. Since for some, all includes past, as well as present, they pray to saints for the same reason you talk to your priest and other churchgoers--they're friends who are there to help you in matters of faith.

05-20-1999, 02:14 AM
Sorry about such a long post, friends, but there was a lot to refute!

05-20-1999, 10:02 AM
It is not "religious toleration" to accept a palpable lie. The Book of Mormon is provably a modern forgery, because it quotes a corrupt medieval text of St. Matthew. (Of course, the whole idea that Jesus, even if he did appear in the Americas, would preach the "Sermon on the Mount" verbatim, and that a miraculous, perfect translation of this pre-Columbian text into English would reproduce the exact, verbatim text of the King James translation of a Greek translation of an Aramaic original is laughable to begin with.) The accounts of the Resurrection on the other hand, are not provably forgeries; you may choose not to believe them, but that is not the same thing as being able to prove that they are deliberate lies.

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John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams

05-20-1999, 10:22 AM
I don't know that anyone has ever really defined what religious tolerance is, JW, but I think politeness probably has something to do with it.

So long as the Mormons (or the Wiccans or the Whoeverans) aren't insisting that you follow their beliefs, is it necessary to go around declaiming "palpable lies" wherever you see them?

If someone were to tell me that the only way to experience God's love was to rub blue mud in my belly button, I'd probably nod and say "My, I never thought of that". I wouldn't start looking for blue mud, but neither would I put much effort into calling their belief a palpable lie.

I don't doubt that there are details of the Mormon holy book that are extremely questionable under examination. But faith is faith, and believing in something you may consider silly or fraudulent doesn't change the fact that a person finds comfort and resources in their beliefs.

I say, so long as they're not bugging anyone, let them rub that blue mud in as much as they like.

05-20-1999, 10:24 AM
OBBIE-WAN -- My own creed of religious tolerance dictates the following: If someone is going to attempt to worship an angle, he or she must respect someone else's right to worship a curve or a straight line, if they so choose. :)

05-20-1999, 10:26 AM
And . . .

IOTA -- Thank you much! :)

PHOUKA -- Amen, Brother (or Sister)!

05-20-1999, 10:47 AM
In my view, the problem that JW really has may not be so much with religious tolerance as it is with what exactly tolerance is. According to an e-mail forward I got recently, tolerance has traditionally meant merely acceptance of other people's right to believe in things in which you disagree and that you would accept others regardless of their race, nationality, creed or gender. It also meant that you would try to live peacably with others despite their differences, and made a distinction between the person and their actions.
The New Meaning of Tolerance, however, makes some changes. Now, instead of each person having an equal right to believe in whatever he or she wants to, whatever he or she belives or says IS equally right. Not only does everyone have an equal right to his or her values and lifestyles but all values and lifestyles are equal. And the new Tolerance tends to equate Who I Am with What I do. These ideas come from Dr. John Martz, pastor of a local church.
I, and I think a lot of other Christians, find it easy to be tolerant of others in the traditional sense. I look at the Bible, and find that Jesus states "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one can come to the Father, but by me". I thus consider followers of other religions, or those who choose not to follow any religion, to be in the wrong. This doesn't mean I can't be friends or good neighbors with them. It may mean that I try to get them to give me a chance to share why I believe what I believe with them since I would love for them to come to know God as I do.
New Tolerance is much harder for me. I don't do well at giving other opinions equal validity with each other, much less mine. (I respect someone's beliefs in Judaism or Islam much more than beliefs in Wicca or New Age beliefs).

05-20-1999, 10:51 AM
"I respect someone's beliefs in Judaism or Islam much more than beliefs in Wicca or New Age beliefs"

- Archimedes

Arch, why is that? I don't want to start a flame war, but being Wiccan, I would like to understand why that is.

05-20-1999, 11:06 AM
phouka,
Why do I have more trouble respecting beliefs in Wicca than in Judaism or Islam?
Well, Judaism is easy for me to respect, the "only" "problem" Jews have is that they failed to recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the predicted Messiah. Islam is still one of the three great mono-theistic religions. I don't know enough about Wicca to have much respect, in a generic sense, for those who believe it. (Meaning, if I met you tommorrow and you explained why you believe what you believe, I might respect YOU, without neccessarily coming to respect others who believe what you do.) I also, perhaps because my religious beliefs are all or nothing, tend to have more respect for other religions that say "If We are right, You are in Trouble" than for those that seem to be extremely "New Tolerant" of everyone else.

05-20-1999, 11:07 AM
Nobody has to tolerate my religion, because I keep my yap shut about it. You can believe what you want to believe, it's all the same to me - just don't get in my face with it.
Tolerance made simple?

05-20-1999, 11:25 AM
Archimedes said:tolerance has traditionally meant merely acceptance of other people's right to believe in things in which you disagree and that you would accept others regardless of their race, nationality, creed or gender. It also meant that you would try to live peacably with others despite their differences, and made a distinction between the person and their actions.
... Now, instead of each person having an equal right to believe in whatever he or she wants to, whatever he or she belives or says IS equally right. ... I, and I think a lot of other Christians, find it easy to be tolerant of others in the traditional sense. ... I thus consider followers of other religions, or those who choose not to follow any religion, to be in the wrong. This doesn't mean I can't be friends or good neighbors with them. ... New Tolerance is much harder for me. I don't do well at giving other opinions equal validity with each other, much less mine.
As much as I have disagreed with Archimedes in previous threads dealing with religious topics, I think we're pretty much in agreement here. I agree with the definition of tolerance and think that "new tolerance," as you have called it, is wrong -- all ideas are NOT of equal validity (this is part of the post-modernist movement as well, I believe).

As cliche' as it sounds, several of my best friends are young-earth creationists (and anybody who has seen me post on that topic knows that I am certainly not). It's just something we don't talk about (though it was a little tough when I did a newspaper book review on Noah's Flood, a book that posits a historical occurrence as the origin for the myth of the Flood, and their Sunday School teacher used it in one of their classes :) ).

It may mean that I try to get them to give me a chance to share why I believe what I believe with them since I would love for them to come to know God as I do.
Depending on how you did this, it probably wouldn't go over too well with me if I was one of your friends. :)

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"It's a very dangerous thing to believe in nonsense." -- James Randi

05-20-1999, 11:40 AM
Can one believe in unbiased truth and still be tolerant?

By this, I mean if you see a religion is based upon a provable falshood, shouldn't one point out the obvious that the belief is false?

Even if you can't prove it, if you think a religion is causing harm to it's followers and to society itself, wouldn't it be one's duty to society to try and correct that situation?

Even if it's a harmless belief, shouldn't people believe things only if they are true? Is "impolite" or politically incorrect to seek truth?

I've been a follower of tolerance all my life, but I'm starting to wonder if that's been at the expense of Truth, with a capital T.

I'm not saying there should be burnings at the stake, but instead of ignoring people's wrong beliefs, maybe there should be SOME attempt to show them they are wrong.

Who is to say what's right and what's wrong, you are saying to yourself. This Revtim asshole? What the hell does he know?

(Although I am an ordained minister of the ULC, so it David Letterman, to show you what that's worth.) Go to www.olc.org and become one yourself!

I agree with John W. Kennedy that there are damn good reasons not to believe SOME things. Why is the evidence there that some beliefs are wrong, did Satan put it there? Unlikely, and if you go for that chain of logic, then you must admit that all religions are equally likely, and sheer probability practically proves that the religion YOU believe in is false.

05-20-1999, 11:44 AM
Ezstrete wroteWhen a religion maintains that they are RIGHT, and everybody else is WRONG, they immedietly assume an attitude incorporating intolerance, self-righteousness, bigotry, bias and egotism which is alien to the teachings of Christianity, Islam, Confucionism, Bhuddism Shinto, Unitarianism, Quakerism and all the rest of the 'isms'.I just want to make sure I understood you correctly. I don't claim to be an expert in any of those religions, but are you saying that their teaching don't include the idea of standing up for what you believe in?

I always kind of thought that part of the idea of "religious belief" was that the person really thinks that the tenets of the religion are true. Tolerance is a great idea for people who don't believe too strongly in any particular belief. But for those who do have strong beliefs, I'd suggest phouka's suggestion thatI don't know that anyone has ever really defined what religious tolerance is, but I think politeness probably has something to do with it.

05-20-1999, 11:46 AM
My goodness, John W. Kennedy. You think that you KNOW that the book of mormon is a forgery. It has been PROVED by your source. The essence of the book of mormon is this: The Lord told me it is true. I know many people who also make this claim. The Lord has told each one of us. This is my claim, and many others with me. I have, on my side, the Lord himself telling me that the book is true. You have an unnamed source with speculation and conjecture doing everything he or she can to "prove" the book of mormon wrong. get back to the real issue in this thread.

What criteria are posed by the bible and other religious works that must be in a true church? If we list the criterium, and apply the list to the churches in this world, THEN we can see how close each church is to what the lord intended.

05-20-1999, 02:23 PM
Revtim said:Can one believe in unbiased truth and still be tolerant?
By this, I mean if you see a religion is based upon a provable falshood, shouldn't one point out the obvious that the belief is false?
Depends on what your goal is. I can't recall who was using it as a sig line around here, but they said something like, "You cannot use rationality to argue a man out of a position he did not use rationality to reach." Most people did not arrive at their religious beliefs through rational means. Thus, trying to rationally prove them wrong is usually an exercise in futility.

Note that I am talking about something that I would characterize as a faith-based belief, not an evidence-based one. There are creationists, for example, who claim to have actual evidence to support their beliefs. I have no problem using rational arguments against those sorts of things, because they have left the realm of pure faith and entered the realm of science.

Even if you can't prove it, if you think a religion is causing harm to it's followers and to society itself, wouldn't it be one's duty to society to try and correct that situation?
Here, I would have to say yes if you have some evidence. For example, there are many who believe that this is the case with Scientology, and they have gone to great lengths to try to alert society to the problems they perceive.

Even if it's a harmless belief, shouldn't people believe things only if they are true? Is "impolite" or politically incorrect to seek truth?
Should people only believe things that are true? In my opinion, yes. Do they? No. In some cases it is both impolite and politically incorrect to seek the truth (just see the way Contestant #3 has reacted to some of us skeptics challenging his UFO claims in the first Art Bell thread -- I'm sure he thinks we were impolite). I have received e-mail from various people because they didn't like that I was seeking the truth, and apparently felt insulted. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop, though.

I'm not saying there should be burnings at the stake, but instead of ignoring people's wrong beliefs, maybe there should be SOME attempt to show them they are wrong.
Depending on what type of belief it is, there may be many people showing it is wrong; but there also may be many ignoring them.

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"It's a very dangerous thing to believe in nonsense." -- James Randi

05-20-1999, 02:29 PM
Curious as to what you were about, Revtim, I dutifully copied and pasted your suggested URL (www.olc.org) into my browser.

Hmmmmm, I didn't know the Ohio Library Council had ordained ministers ... :)

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~ Complacency is far more dangerous than outrage ~

05-20-1999, 02:53 PM
John W. Kennedy:
It is not "religious toleration" to accept a palpable lie. The Book of Mormon is provably a modern forgery, because it quotes a corrupt medieval text of St. Matthew.

Could you give me a cite for that?


JWK:
(Of course, the whole idea that Jesus, even if he did appear in the Americas, would preach the "Sermon on the Mount" verbatim, and that a miraculous, perfect translation of this pre-Columbian text into English would reproduce the exact, verbatim text of the King James translation of a Greek translation of an Aramaic original is laughable to begin with.)

What's so hard to believe in the fact that God would say the same thing to two different peoples? And that he would have the foresight to make sure that his words in the two different accounts would be almost exactly the same in the future when the two accounts came together? God is omniscient, after all. I suppose you would be complaining that God wasn't consistent if the two accounts didn't match.

Peace.

05-20-1999, 05:40 PM
For Keeves again.

You've illustrated the "right" problem.

Being right also requires that one DOES right, THINKS right and treats all animals, including genus homo, right------ unfoundedly declaring that others are wrong is making judgements based on opinion and opinion only and is fundamentally a wrong thing to do.

So, those who point the finger of intolerance are perforce wrong---what could be simpler?

I'm outa here----

05-20-1999, 05:53 PM
I came to a logical conclusion once. There can only be one truth, all else is wrong. Therefore only one religion (atheism included) can be correct. If two religions are correct, then they are the same religion.

Thus, until the truth is clear, we will never attain peace.



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ĺ» ≥Á, Ń÷ ĶŅ ņŌ

05-20-1999, 07:16 PM
Slight misperception, Beeruser. Atheism is not a religion. Being an atheist is not saying"The is no God!'. It is saying"Don't see a god, don't see a tooth fairy, don't see Santa Claus, etc." When I grew up, I realized that fairy tales are entertaining, but imaginary. I don't believe "in", I believe "that". I believe that the Earth revolves around the sun, but I don't believe in Peter Pan.

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"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter Thompson

05-20-1999, 07:26 PM
John W. Kennedy
Member posted 05-20-99 10:02 AM
It is not "religious toleration" to accept a palpable lie.

And the Bible contradicts itself and also contains descriptions of physical impossibilities, JW. What's your point; that is, assuming you have one?

And FYI, the LDS also number the Bible as one of the Holy Books. If you're going to post inflammatory stuff, try to get it right.

05-20-1999, 08:08 PM
Doh!
Yes, I made a typo, it should have been www.ulc.org (http://www.ulc.org) .

jodih - I agree with those who do not like what they see about the Christian belief, due to their agressive attempts at conversion. Since I myself believe that the Christian belief is false, anyone trying to convince me of it irritates me.

I'm an atheist, and all my life I've been very tolerant of religions. Until lately. Suddenly, I'm just very, very tired of it. Ghosts, God, psychics, demons.... I seriously think society would be better off without religion and supernatural beliefs.

I started a thread asking if there had ever been societies where the majority did not have supernatural beliefs. There was very litle response, I guess because there haven't been any (plus it wasn't a very interesting topic). I should have asked there has ever been a religionless society. I don't think communist countries count, because I think the majority of people still believed in their religions.

Here's a question for the Teeming Millions: has there ever been a religious practice or belief that helped a society, that could not have been started simply to help society, without a religious aspect?

Example: Thou shalt not Kill. Obviously, a very helpful tenet for a society to follow. But one could easily come the conclusion that society works better when you minimize people killing each other, without any kind of supernatural belief attached to it.

I think society will work better when people realize that morality is good not because Allah wills it, but simply because it helps society and the individual.

05-20-1999, 08:39 PM
For the record, believing in a particular religion, even Christianity, does not have to mean believing that all other religions are wrong. I, for one, belive that Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." I therefore believe that anyone who encounters the Father (i.e., God,) does so through Christ, whether or they are familiar with the name "Jesus." To explain it a different way, since the Bible also says that God is Love, any religion that causes people to experience Love, partakes of the Word Jesus embodied. This might seem like a radically non-orthodox view, but it's not. Ancient and medieval theologians argued that since the names the Bible uses for Christ include "logos" (word) and "truth," that the Greek philosohers who sought truth through logos were worthy of incorporating in their interpretations of scripture. In fact, they often refered to Socratese as if he were a sort of "pagan Saint."

05-20-1999, 08:54 PM
Here's a question for the Teeming Millions: has there ever been a religious practice or belief that helped a society, that could not have been started simply to help society, without a religious aspect?
How about the ideas of non-violence and passive resistance to evil. These ideals were exemplified by memberss of two totally different religios traditions, Gandi and Dr. King. Even though neither Hinduism nor Christianity has consistantly advocated these ideas, either before or after these men, the bases from which they drew their ideas were, as far as I know, exclusively religious.

05-20-1999, 09:10 PM
phouka - I disagree with nothing you have said.

You say:

As adults, we are individually responsible for our own beliefs and actions. As we are responsible for them, we have the right to hold whatever beliefs we prefer and pursue whatever actions - so long as they are legal and hurt no one else. The cost of this right is that we can't tell anyone else how to believe.


Another cost of this is that we, as a society, will never be in a situation where the majority believes in The Truth, whatever that may be.

This is my biggest frustration, lately. I was content my whole life to ignore other's beliefs, and keep mine to myself. But something changed in me recently, I don't know what. I feel suddenly very motivated to change the world. I'm not content to let people wallow in what I see as ignorance.

I REALLY want people to turn away from supernatural beliefs. I don't want to rule the world under my iron fist and force people to abandon their religious practices, or suffer consequences of law. I want people to see the truth, and believe it.

And yes, I know everybody feels the same way about their own beliefs. But I'm right. :-)

05-20-1999, 09:21 PM
How about the ideas of non-violence and passive resistance to evil. These ideals were exemplified by memberss of two totally different religios traditions, Gandi and Dr. King. Even though neither Hinduism nor Christianity has consistantly advocated these ideas, either before or after these men, the bases from which they drew their ideas were, as far as I know, exclusively religious.


I didn't ask my question very well; in fact it was a flawed question to begin with. What I was trying to prove was that a good-for-society idea from a religious source could have easily heve come from a non-religious source.

But, almost by definition, a good-for-society idea could have come from the humanistic goal to improve society.

05-21-1999, 12:21 AM
REVTIM -- I say the following respectfully:

I think that the attitude you demonstrated in your post (knowledge of "the Truth"; letting people know that you think that what they believe is wrong; an apparent willingness to attack others' beliefs under the guise of wanting to help them) is why so many people do not like what they perceive to be the modern Christian faith. Don't you see that such attempts to "help" are almost always arrogant, aggravating, and off-putting?

That said, I also recognize the quandry faced by fundamentalist Christians (and I'm not saying you are one -- don't know), which is this: If I truly believed that JC was the one true path to salvation, would I not have an obligation to urge as many people as possible to forsake their "wrong" beliefs and follow Him? Oddly enough, I would say "no." People believe what they believe, and very, very few appreciate having their beliefs attacked by someone who thinks they know better (not to mention that attempting to tell someone the "truth" in the context of religion is patronizing in the extreme). So what to do? I think that, as a Christian, I can be open about my beliefs TO THOSE WHO ASK. Those who don't, I leave alone. I also think I can be positive about my faith WITHOUT having to attack the beliefs of others. In other words, I would be glad to tell anyone who is interested why I am a Christian, but I would not presume to tell that person why he or she should not be a Moslim (or Buddhist or whatever). If asked, however, what I thought of a particular faith, I would answer tactfully (I hope) but honestly. The key to this is "IF ASKED," because I know that I do not appreciate it when others tell me that what I believe is "wrong" and what they believe is "right."

05-21-1999, 12:55 AM
Archimedes, thanks for your answer. I can't say that I agree with you, as I feel that there are many paths to Divinity, not just one, but I respect your opinion on that. Which is to say, I won't attack it or try to argue you out of it.

Revtim, I understand the frustration of - as I put it in my previous post - watching people rub blue mud into their navels when you know it does no good. However, I believe your argument ignores some very important points.

As adults, we are individually responsible for our own beliefs and actions. As we are responsible for them, we have the right to hold whatever beliefs we prefer and pursue whatever actions - so long as they are legal and hurt no one else. The cost of this right is that we can't tell anyone else how to believe.

Put another way, the only way you can guarantee your right to believe the way you choose is not to impose on others. Certainly you can go around grabbing Mormons and Wiccans by the collar and insisting that they listen to why their beliefs are silly and wrongheaded, but then you really shouldn't complain if someone did the same to you. Besides which, you'd get to be pretty unpopular after a while.

The other problem is that when you start declaring one person, one religion, or one methodology as being the One and Only Truth, you pretty much guarantee that those who are in a position of authority will abuse it. Not so much because of any flaws within the proclaimed truth, but because some people - unlike your principled self - will use that power to persecute others they don't like or feel threatened by.

Me, I would rather be surrounded by a bunch of people rubbing blue mud in their belly button than have to show my True Believer credentials in order to drink at the water fountain. But that's just me.

05-21-1999, 08:35 AM
Revtim said:I'm an atheist, and all my life I've been very tolerant of religions. Until lately. Suddenly, I'm just very, very tired of it. Ghosts, God, psychics, demons.... I seriously think society would be better off without religion and supernatural beliefs.
Personally, I put God and other faith-based belief systems in a different category than ghosts, psychics, etc. God and religion can never have any real evidence against them (as I think I mentioned earlier, people did not arrive at their faith through a rational process, they just believe). Ghosts and psychics, though, are supposedly interacting with the physical universe and can be objectively analzyed, thus putting them in a different area.

I started a thread asking if there had ever been societies where the majority did not have supernatural beliefs. There was very litle response, I guess because there haven't been any[quote]
:) That's why I didn't bother to respond.

[quote]I should have asked there has ever been a religionless society. I don't think communist countries count, because I think the majority of people still believed in their religions.
Definitely -- as seen by the rapid increase in religious observance in the USSR when the communists lost power.

I think society will work better when people realize that morality is good not because Allah wills it, but simply because it helps society and the individual.
Precisely. People shouldn't have to be scared into doing only good things ("You'll go to HELL if you..."). Heck, I think it's kinda scary if somebody is only being good to avoid the fires of hell.


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"It's a very dangerous thing to believe in nonsense." -- James Randi

05-21-1999, 10:39 AM
REVTIM -- You say that you "REALLY want people to turn away from supernatural beliefs" and "see the truth, and believe it," but at the same time you recognize that "everybody feels the same way about their own beliefs." I read this as a desire to attempt to convert people, even though you want to convert them to rationalism instead of a particular religion.

But you seem to be well aware of the three major problems inherent in this: 1) not every one believes in the same "truth" as you; (2) you are unlikely to be successful in your attempts, because "you cannot reason a man out of a position he did not use reason to reach;" and (3) very few people will thank you for trying -- they will instead take your attempts to be attacks upon their belief systems. I think that those who are interested in your POV will approach you, if you are open to discussion, but that attempting to engage people who are NOT interested will only serve to alien them and piss them off. That, at least, is my reaction to those who zealously try to convert me.

05-21-1999, 10:48 AM
David B.,
I was amused to see you actually agreeing with me on a religious thread for once. I think you are right in saying that the "New Tolerance" is part of Post-Modernism. I was also glad to see that it isn't just my Evangelical Christian friends who think it is silly to say that all ideas are equally valid.
And for all those who say you don't appreciate agressive evangelism tactics on the part of Christians, I hear you. While I don't mind talking about what I believe, I'm not always terribly fond of hearing about what YOU believe, and it is usually polite to offer the other person equal time. Therefore, I tend to focus on "friendship evangelism", with the emphasis on friendship. So, most of the time, we just go along being friends, but if religious topics come up in conversation, I don't hesitate to share my convictions. I have been known to come on a little strong at times, but I don't drop the "Gospel Bomb" into conversations, unless I have reason to believe that the person I'm talking to wants to hear it, and will listen with an open mind. I don't usually see the point of arguing for the sake of arguing. (Despite what my actions on this message board may indicate. :) )

05-24-1999, 11:36 AM
I don't have the exact citation to hand right now, but the Book of Mormon has Jesus repeating the entire "sermon on the mount" verbatim, in the exact language of the King James translation, including the words "for Thine is the kingdom...for ever and ever", which did not creep into the Bible's text until the Middle Ages (the words were commonly said after the Lord's Prayer during services, and monks incorrectly assumed when they didn't find them in the Bible that they had been accidently left out). Now, since Joseph Smith claimed that his text was a miraculously preserved original, translated by miraculous translation spectacles, there is no room for error. Therefore, he lied.

Fundamentalists claim that the Bible is perfect, with no contradictions, errors, etc. But most intelligent Christians say that Fundamentalists are wrong, so it's no good using that as a stick to beat all Christians with. Indeed, no serious scholar believes that Jesus ever gave "the sermon on the mount" in the words given in St. Matthew, if only because as a sermon it sucks, and Jesus, whatever else He was, was quite obviously not a bad preacher, Who would string together a bunch of "great quotables" like that with no connection or reinforcement. He may well have said all those things, but He didn't say them all together in that way as a sermon.

As for "toleration", if anyone does not believe in the value of truth for its own sake, what is he doing on this web site to begin with?

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John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams

05-25-1999, 01:26 PM
Revtim:

Here's a question for the Teeming Millions: has there ever been a religious practice or belief that helped a society, that could not have been started simply to help society, without a religious aspect?

Might I humbly suggest that many of the laws of Kashrus (eating only Kosher) has had that effect on Jewish society? The lack of trichinosis, for example. Also, the abundance of Jewish religious hand-washing, especially at mealtimes, probably cut down on diseases such as cholera. Also, it has been suggested that the Jewish taboo against sex during menstrual periods is responsible for the significantly lower divorce rates amongst observant couples. The Sabbatical year for crops, the law that no plowing or sowing of crops must be done every seven years (in Israel), is healthy for the land, as any crop-rotating farmer knows. Yet all these laws, which have improved the society in which they were followed, are extremely unlikely to have been instituted for non-religious reasons.

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Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

05-25-1999, 02:48 PM
cmkeller wrote:Also, it has been suggested that the Jewish taboo against sex during menstrual periods is responsible for the significantly lower divorce rates amongst observant couples.
Ok, I gotta tell ya -- you lost me on this one. Why would that be responsible for a lower divorce rate?

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"It's a very dangerous thing to believe in nonsense." -- James Randi

05-25-1999, 03:05 PM
Might I humbly suggest that many of the laws of Kashrus (eating only Kosher) has had that effect on Jewish society? The lack of trichinosis, for example. Also, the abundance of Jewish religious hand-washing, especially at mealtimes, probably cut down on diseases such as cholera. Also, it has been suggested that the Jewish taboo against sex during menstrual periods is responsible for the significantly lower divorce rates amongst observant couples. The Sabbatical year for crops, the law that no plowing or sowing of crops must be done every seven years (in Israel), is healthy for the land, as any crop-rotating farmer knows. Yet all these laws, which have improved the society in which they were followed, are extremely unlikely to have been instituted for non-religious reasons.


How do you figure they couldn't have been instituted for non-religious reasons? Why couldn't someone had noticed, "hey, when Menochem over there ate that pork, he was sick for a week and hurled so much he practically spewed up his own toenails. Maybe it's dangerous to eat pork."

It's my guess that is indeed how that and other helpful religious laws came into play. It was the enforcement of such laws where people felt the need to attach religious significance.

05-26-1999, 08:16 AM
David B. wrote:

cmkeller wrote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Also, it has been suggested that the Jewish taboo against sex during menstrual periods is responsible for the significantly lower divorce rates amongst observant couples.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Ok, I gotta tell ya -- you lost me on this one. Why would that be responsible for a lower divorce rate?

The theory goes that since this forces married couples to physically separate from one another for approximately half of every month (because they're not allowed to resume until a week after the woman has stopped bleeding), it forces them to develop means on intimate communication other than physical, thereby instilling a deeper level of love into the marriage. In addition, the periodic breaks (no pun intended) make the monthly resumption of sexual relations fresh and new and eagerly anticipated, a feeling that (supposedly) would not exist if the ability (well, permission, at least) to have sex were constant.

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Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

05-26-1999, 08:31 AM
Revtim wrote:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Might I humbly suggest that many of the laws of Kashrus (eating only Kosher) has had that effect on Jewish society? The lack of trichinosis, for example. Also, the abundance of Jewish religious hand-washing, especially at mealtimes, probably cut down on diseases such as cholera. Also, it has been suggested that the Jewish taboo against sex during menstrual periods is responsible for the significantly lower divorce rates amongst observant couples. The Sabbatical year for crops, the law that no plowing or sowing of crops must be done every seven years (in Israel), is healthy for the land, as any crop-rotating farmer knows. Yet all these laws, which have improved the society in which they were followed, are extremely unlikely to have been instituted for non-religious reasons.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How do you figure they couldn't have been instituted for non-religious reasons? Why couldn't someone had noticed, "hey, when Menochem over there ate that pork, he was sick for a week and hurled so much he practically spewed up his own toenails. Maybe it's dangerous to eat pork."

Just to answer the pork example (since that's the one you're using): if this is the case, then why a blanket prohibition on any land animal that does not both possess split hooves and chew its cud, a broad category which just happens to include the pig? Did the ancient Hebrews examine the edibility of every single animal and conclude that these were the healthiest (maybe Moses had a nice private zoo which included pandas, kangaroos and armadillos)? Did they notice that pig was bad and therefore created a category for excluding them? Odd category to create.

Or did they institute laws like that due to some sort of religious significance, and by happy chance, they came down with fewer diseases than pork-eaters are afflicted by?

Just to give one other example from what I described above: the law to not plow or sow every seventh year. Let's take your theory, that they realized that farmers who rest on such a cycle have better long-term crops than those who continually work their fields. So they instituted a law that the fields should lie fallow every seven years. What kind of idiot king would have everyone rest their fields on the same year, and have no one growing food for an entire year (and at Jubilee time, two years)? It would make more sense to either divide the land into regions, and each region would have its cyclical rest year so that other regions would help feed it; or to have farmers have half their land lay fallow one year and half the next, or something like that. The law, as described, makes zero sense...unless they felt there was a religious significance to those seventh years, therefore telling everyone to not plant and to trust that G-d would provide for them until the eighth-year crops would grow. But as a happy side effect, resting fields turned out to be good for the crops, too.

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Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

05-26-1999, 09:12 AM
Chaim, excellent examples!

05-26-1999, 11:43 AM
[quote]
Just to answer the pork example (since that's the one you're using): if this is the case, then why a blanket prohibition on any land animal that does not both possess split hooves and chew its cud, a broad category which just happens to include the pig? Did the ancient Hebrews examine the edibility of every single animal and conclude that these were the healthiest (maybe Moses had a nice private zoo which included pandas, kangaroos and armadillos)? Did they notice that pig was bad and therefore created a category for excluding them? Odd category to create.

Or did they institute laws like that due to some sort of religious significance, and by happy chance, they came down with fewer diseases than pork-eaters are afflicted by?
[quote]

I'm not very familiar with the laws of Kashrus, or which animals are safer than other to eat. Do animals in this broader category of animals (with split hooves and chew their cud) have a greater risk than others to be dangerous to eat?

If so, then getting back to my original question, people could have noticed that eating these animals caused people to get sick, and institued the law for this non-religious reason.

If there is no greater risk, and just the pig is dangerous, then banning who whole group doesn't help society as much as just banning the pig. This makes law somewhat faulty, and a law that came from a scientific method (banning only the pig) might have served society better.

Perhaps there are other benificial reasons for banning the whole category.
Whatever reason you can think of for it benefitting society, people could have noticed this and made the for that reason.


Regarding your example of the fields lying fallow, is IS an idiot idea for them to all to do it at once. I have to admit, I'm not sure I see your point. Are you saying that because it's flawed it couldn't have come from a secular source? Even non-religious leader make mistakes.

A possible scenario for this is that one piece of land was fallow for a season for whatever reason (owner died, was traveling, was lazy, who knows), then the king noticed the next season when it was growing the crops were better. Being perhaps an idiot, he orders that all fields lay fallow for a season.

My original question was, "has there ever been a religious practice or belief that helped a society, that could not have been started simply to help society, without a religious aspect?" I'm not sure how showing that these laws are flawed argues against the idea that these practices could have from secular sources. It more argues to me that a secular source would have made better ideas.

Like I stated before, the question is somewhat flawed. If there is benefit of a law to society, then people in the society can notice this and use the law, with just the secular reason of it's benefit to drive that law. No matter what the source is.

05-26-1999, 01:15 PM
Revtim:

Like I stated before, the question is somewhat flawed. If there is benefit of a law to society, then people in the society can notice this and use the law, with just the secular reason of it's benefit to drive that law. No matter what the source is.

Darn tootin' your question is flawed. Every time anyone points out an illogical-seeming (and therefore unlikely to have been devised by the scientific method) law which turns out to have helped society, you can just claim that someone noticed the benefit first and then instituted the law, and if the method of instituting the law was illogical, then the person/being who instituted it must have been a little off. So by your definition, the only laws which could be provably of religious origin would be those which have no visible positive effect on society. But in that case, they don't fall into the category you described!

The fact is, trichinosis in pork was not scientifically described until very recently...within the last four hundred years, I think. (Religious) Jews have been avoiding the stuff for Biblical reasons (regardless of who you say wrote the Bible) for thousands. Similarly, the benefits of crop rotation were a recent discovery, yet religious Jews who lived in Israel had been doing it for millenia prior to that. And since, if the point of the law was specifically to target pork or to encourage scientifically intelligent land use, the law could have been written much more precisely, it's unlikely that these were the original reasons. But the benefits are there, and they're clear.

Now, putting on my Yarmulka and speaking subjectively as an Orthodox adherent of Judaism (something I generally avoid doing on this message board; I try to keep all my comments objective, but here goes): I believe that these laws came from a Divine source, and therefore the precise reasons cannot be completely known to us. We may be able to think of reasons, but in addition to whatever Earthly ideas we may have, there's bound to be mystical-divine wisdom in them as well. This is my answer if asked "Why ban all non-cud chewers & non-split-hooved animals if the whole point was to prevent pork from causing trichinosis?". If you, as a non-believer in my religion wish to claim that the law was written wrongly or unintelligently, despite the fact that those who observed it benefited from it (physically as well as spiritually), and you would have done it differently knowing what you know now, you're welcome to do so. But whoever wrote those laws wrote it while the human world at large was ignorant of what we now know scientifically, and there may very well be more benefits that are hidden in there that we are not yet scientifically privy to. To say that the writer was wrong in some details when He was so obviously far ahead of His time (or just darned lucky) in others is, in my opinion, very shortsighted...whether you believe the writer was Divine (as I do) or whether you believe it was some human genius (or lucky idiot).

------------------
Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

05-26-1999, 02:44 PM
John W. Kennedy:
I don't have the exact citation to hand right now, but the Book of Mormon has Jesus repeating the entire "sermon on the mount" verbatim, in the exact language of the King James translation, including the words "for Thine is the kingdom...for ever and ever", which did not creep into the Bible's text until the Middle Ages (the words were commonly said after the Lord's Prayer during services, and monks incorrectly assumed when they didn't find them in the Bible that they had been accidently left out). Now, since Joseph Smith claimed that his text was a miraculously preserved original, translated by miraculous translation spectacles, there is no room for error. Therefore, he lied.

Try this scenario (I'm not saying it's correct--I don't know one way or the other): God, being omniscient and able to see all events, past, present, and future, makes sure that the words he tells the Nephites in the Book of Mormon match the future text of the KJV. Since he can SEE the KJV in the future, he knows that there will be people who will not believe that the Book of Mormon is true unless it matches the Bible.

JWK:
Fundamentalists claim that the Bible is perfect, with no contradictions, errors, etc. But most intelligent Christians say that Fundamentalists are wrong, so it's no good using that as a stick to beat all Christians with. Indeed, no serious scholar believes that Jesus ever gave "the sermon on the mount" in the words given in St. Matthew, if only because as a sermon it sucks, and Jesus, whatever else He was, was quite obviously not a bad preacher, Who would string together a bunch of "great quotables" like that with no connection or reinforcement. He may well have said all those things, but He didn't say them all together in that way as a sermon.

Yet that's the way they were preserved and translated. Again, God, being prescient of this fact, makes sure that the B.o.M. matches the text of the Bible. Just a possible scenario.

JWK:
As for "toleration", if anyone does not believe in the value of truth for its own sake, what is he doing on this web site to begin with?

I believe in truth for its own sake. I also believe unshakeably that the Book of Mormon is true, therefore I'm trying to defend it, as it contains truth. I'm not the best person to be doing so, but no one else seems to be replying to your post, so I am. :)

05-26-1999, 03:47 PM
I'm curious about the Mormon faith, because frankly it seems quite unlikely to me. Here's the meager amount I read about this faith (from a skeptical article):

Joseph Smith, while attending school, was obsessed about why there were so many faiths and whether they all can be true, etc. He had a vision in which a angel told him:

1. Only one religion can be true, and

2. Moses led the Hebrew tribes to the New World and they became the Indians (Native Americans)

He then founded the Mormon Church, 'married' 47 (or 49?) women, allegedly murdered a husband (some were already married) and was hounded by the FBI because of it for years.

The article printed a letter in which he:

1. Demonstrated his considerable illiteracy, and
2. Plotted with a 'wife' to meet clandestinely, away from her husband

Are these facts correct, and if so why the Hell does anyone believe anything he said?

I sincerely apologize if I am not remembering the article correctly and therefore slandering him more than the original article did.

And, it certainly isn't intolerance to criticize religion in general or any one specifically, any more than criticizing political systems, parties or individual views. We have the freedom of religion, but not the freedom from the free speech of others. Certainly on this thread the topic implies criticism of religion.

05-26-1999, 04:29 PM
Axel Wheeler:
I'm curious about the Mormon faith, because frankly it seems quite unlikely to me. <snip>

Here are a couple web sites to go to if you want to hear it straight from the horse's mouth:

http://www.lds.org

http://www.mormons.org

The first one is the LDS church's official site, and the second is a comprehensive site about Mormonism. You can submit questions about Mormonism to the latter site and they will answer them for you.

05-26-1999, 04:53 PM
cmkeller,

When I asked my question, I was trying to understand if a society had existed or CAN exist that did not have religious or superstition beliefs. I was wondering the benefits of religion (which even as an atheist I must admit exist) can be replaced by humanistic theories. I wasn't trying to disprove or put down any existing religion. I hope I hadn't offended you.

The point I was trying to make can perhaps be simplified as such:
1) The laws of Kashrus gave Hebrew society the benefit of avoiding trichinosis.
2) Another society *could* have gained that particular benefit by avoiding pork because people had noticed that some people get sick after eating it.
3) Therefore, that particular benefit is not one that could ONLY have been gained via religion. Perhaps the Hebrews did actually get it from the God; that doesn't change the fact that this benefit could have been gained by secular means.

My question (better phrased) is, are there benefits that ONLY religion can bring to society?

Here's a possibility: Maybe only religion can satisfy humanity's curiosity about how the world works, when society is not advanced enough scientifically to explain it via scientific means.

05-27-1999, 08:40 AM
==> Axel -- Your "information" about the Mormons is very confused. Almost all of it vaguely resembles some genuine fact or other, but is significantly wrong.

==> Snarkberry -- God knew that the King James Bible was going to have mistakes in it, so He took special care that the Book of Mormon would match? I'm sorry, but it won't do.

------------------
John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams

05-27-1999, 08:56 AM
Revtim said:Here's a possibility: Maybe only religion can satisfy humanity's curiosity about how the world works, when society is not advanced enough scientifically to explain it via scientific means.
This may, indeed, be true for some people. Personally, I find a lot more satisfaction in scientific (real) explanations than in relying on any particular mythology to "explain" that which I cannot understand. I would much rather know that something is unexplained than think it has been explained by something magical. For one thing, if everybody in a society buys the magicla explanation, they may not search for the real answer. Therefore, I have to question whether or not this is a true benefit to society.

------------------
"It's a very dangerous thing to believe in nonsense." -- James Randi

05-27-1999, 09:04 AM
Revtim:

My question (better phrased) is, are there benefits that ONLY religion can bring to society?

Well, that's certainly phrased better than previously, if this is what you meant to ask.

As for the answer, it probably depends on what you consider a benefit. The spiritual benefits of religion (i.e., the afterlife stuff) are, according to any given religion, only available through religion, but of course, a non-religious person would consider this a delusion, not a benefit. There's a certain sense of purpose...not merely individual purpose, but communal, shared purpose...which religion seems to give its adherents, although a non-believer, considering the purpose to be a false goal, would question the benefit in that as well.

So to sum up: do religious people feel some benefit from their religions that non-religious people don't or can't get due to lack of religion? Definitely. Is this "benefit" subjective or objective? Of necessity, it is subjective.

------------------
Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

05-27-1999, 09:47 AM
My question (better phrased) is, are there benefits that ONLY religion can bring to society?Yes, indeedy, that is a much clearer question. I suggest the following answer:

The ethical code of a religion, its lists of do's and don'ts, and its general moral compass, provide and absolute standard of right and wrong for its adherents. Without a divine standard of right and wrong, we default to society's subjective opinions, as reformulated from time to time by the government and by accepted custom.

To take an extreme example, abortion is acceptable to one generation, unacceptable to another, and acceptable-under-specific-circumstances to a third. Lesser examples include any number of laws which are "on the books" but universally ignored.

In contrast, if right and wrong are defined by A Higher Authority, then they will be more absolute (well, as absolute as that Authority wants it to be), and not subject to the whims of society.

I see two objections to the above argument:

(1) You might like some flexibility, the ability to amend bad laws. This is a valid point, but you have to realize how easily that ability can get out of control. For those who see the vast difference between what society tolerated 30 years ago, and what it accepts today, an unbending iron hand might be better than this virtual anarchy.

(2) Of course, anyone who promotes the idea of Ethics and Religion, must be prepared to be reminded of how many people have fought and died in the name of religion. Here too. I realize that competing religions and competing values systems will make it difficult for a non-believer to accept a religion just because it has morality, and he will not be inclined to accept the morality of Religion A over Religion B, or either's over his own sense of right and wrong. But I say that in theory, it is generally better to have a corrupt government than none at all, and similarly, the definitive morality which one can get from religion is a benefit which cannot be gotten in any other way.

05-27-1999, 10:42 AM
John W. Kennedy wrote:
==> Snarkberry -- God knew that the King James Bible was going to have mistakes in it, so He took special care that the Book of Mormon would match? I'm sorry, but it won't do.

That's why I called it a "possible scenario" rather than "gospel truth." What you're saying in the above quote makes sense. Truth be told, I don't know the answer to your question. Maybe some of the other LDS people on this board can answer this question.

My reasoning for believing that Joseph Smith was a prophet revolves around my testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. It goes like this: If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith must have been a true prophet, and therefore the church that he founded is true. I also have a testimony that the leadership of the LDS church today is inspired of GOd. These testimonies came straight from God to my heart after I read the Book of Mormon. Sure, an intellectual testimony of the B.o.M. is great to have, but it's the spiritual, inner testimony in your heart that convinces you.

05-27-1999, 11:59 AM
There's a certain sense of purpose...not merely individual purpose, but communal, shared purpose...which religion seems to give its adherents, although a non-believer, considering the purpose to be a false goal, would question the benefit in that as well.

So to sum up: do religious people feel some benefit from their religions that non-religious people don't or can't get due to lack of religion? Definitely. Is this "benefit" subjective or objective? Of necessity, it is subjective.


Certainly religion gives people the benefit of communal shared purpose. But I strongly disagree that this benefit can only be obtained through religion. Communities can have other shared purposes.

How about a simple neighborhood community? They have common goals, such as keeping crime out of the area, and keeping property values from dropping. They socialize within the community, and have a very real sense of communal purpose.

Another example: My workplace. We are a community with shared goals, developing products. It gives us a sense of purpose. We socialize together, some of us even find mates within this community. It is clearly a community that is based on non-religious functions.

And it takes little imagination to imagine a global community with shared humanistic goals. Imagine a community that has no religion, with the following goals:
1) Protecting the rights of individuals
2) Improving 3rd world conditions
3) Stopping and repairing environmental damage
4) Enhancing the quality of life of individuals
etc...

The list of non-religious goals that can provide a sense of communal purpose is virtually endless. Clearly, this benefit can be reached without religion.

05-27-1999, 01:07 PM
Revtim:This argument is unconvincing to one who does not think divinity exists.In my opinion, it seems that you are changing your question again, and now it might read "are there benefits that ONLY religion can bring to society, and which can be brought even to nonbelievers ?"

You are looking for the benefits which religion can provide, but you don't want to hear about the ones which can be provides by a non-religious society. Then, now that you have restricted yourself to those benefits which are unique to the power of religion, you exclude the ones which depend on the belief and faith of the individual.

This is like asking for a bottle of lemon-flavored dehydrated water, with no juice or any other additives. It's like searching for a square that has only three sides. Give up.

05-27-1999, 01:42 PM
Revtim wrote:There is no reason why a society cannot teach morals to its children in a humanistic fashion. It would seem to me that the teachings would be far more effective if the people learning the moral code were also taught the societal reasons behind the code. Not, ďact this way or youíll be punishedĒ (like religion), but ďact this way because that is the way you would want everybody else to act.ĒI have found "act this way because that is the way you would want everybody else to act" to be utterly unconvincing. Of course I want everyone to be nice to me, but why should I care how they act to you? The bullies who beat me up in high school were not swayed by it, and neither am I. Do you own thing, as long as you can get away with it. Just because 3 billion people think stealing is wrong doesn't make it so. What makes them any better than me?

Please tell me the "societal reasons behind the code" that you speak of. But don't you dare say anything about how much better society runs when people don't steal, because that's the same guilt trip that you are accusing religion of.

My belief is that only God can tell us what is "right" and "wrong". Everything else is either guesswork or mob rule. But He can give us morals, and not because He is the Boss who threatens us with heaven and hell, but because He is the Creator who does know more than us, and because He created everything, he truly knows what is right, and what is wrong. Fortunate are those who are willing and able to listen to Him.

05-27-1999, 01:43 PM
OK Keeves, then just ignore my first paragraph. In the rest of my message, I described why I think a non religious society could in fact have stronger morals than a religious one, and therefore gain the moral benefit you previously described. Do you think that's possible?

Even if you don't believe it can be stronger, do you disgaree with the suppostion that a non-religious society can at least have morals on a par with a religious society?

05-27-1999, 01:50 PM
Revtim - define "morals". Any society can have strong morals, religious or not. A society could have very strong morals supporting things that a religious society would find appauling, and vice versa. (Not to start an argument, but) If you mean Christian morals, you have to look to the society... I'm a Christian (not the pro-life, anti-non-Christian bad kind), but find some of its morals a little questionable.

05-27-1999, 02:26 PM
[quote]
I have found "act this way because that is the way you would want everybody else to act" to be utterly unconvincing. Of course I want everyone to be nice to me, but why should I care how they act to you? The bullies who beat me up in high school were not swayed by it, and neither am I. Do you own thing, as long as you can get away with it. Just because 3 billion people think stealing is wrong doesn't make it so. What makes them any better than me?
Please tell me the "societal reasons behind the code" that you speak of. But don't you dare say anything about how much better society runs when people don't steal, because that's the same guilt trip that you are accusing religion of.
[quote]

Well, you should care because of your own internal moral compass. Isnít there something inside of you that knows that stealing is wrong, independent of the teachings of the church? If you think stealing is wrong simply because the mighty God tells you so, isnít that just an example of might makes right? If hypothetically someone more powerful than God came around, with a different set of morals, would you switch?

Iím sorry if you donít like it, but the ďsocietal reasonsĒ pretty much is what you described, about how society runs better. Whatís wrong with that? And I donít think I accused religion of a guilt trip, I think I accused it of being more of a fear trip. But you made a good point, that many people follow the teachings as guidance from a higher source, and not out of fear of hell. That is certainly better than fear. But still not as good as logic, in my humble opinion.

And even if both mechanisms used guilt, so what? Iím only trying to explain how I think that both a religious and non religious society can have the benefit of strong morals. If they both use similar mechanisms, thatís OK with me.

05-27-1999, 04:05 PM
Revtim wrote:I described why I think a non religious society could in fact have stronger morals than a religious one, and therefore gain the moral benefit you previously described. Do you think that's possible?
Even if you don't believe it can be stronger, do you disgaree with the suppostion that a non-religious society can at least have morals on a par with a religious society?
Yes, I think I do agree with you. I think people's morals are shaped more by their role models and the society around them than by anything they learn from books. Especially if you are phrasing the question in terms of can either be stronger than the other, sure, it is quite possible for non-religious society A to be equally or more moral than religious society B. On the other hand, if I saw a religious society acting amorally or immorally, I'd probably protest against labelling them as religious.

Well, you should care because of your own internal moral compass. Isnít there something inside of you that knows that stealing is wrong, independent of the teachings of the church? If you think stealing is wrong simply because the mighty God tells you so, isnít that just an example of might makes right? If hypothetically someone more powerful than God came around, with a different set of morals, would you switch?One question at a time.

- I believe that a person's "internal moral compass" is set at birth to neutral, and it moves one way or the other depending on that person's experiences. It depends a lot more on the quality of one's friends than on which religion he was born into. But for a borderline person, religion can be the rock which will make him better.

- "Might makes right"? I tried to address this when I wrote <<< He can give us morals, and not because He is the Boss who threatens us with heaven and hell, but because He is the Creator who does know more than us, and because He created everything, he truly knows what is right, and what is wrong. >>>

- "If hypothetically someone more powerful than God came around, with a different set of morals, would you switch?" As a monotheistic Jew, I believe the phrase "someone more powerful than God" to be meaningless. If there were indeed someone more powerful, then by definition, that is the God we were talking about to begin with.

- I follow your distinction between a guilt trip and a fear trip, thank you. But when you say that neither is as good as logic, that's where you lose me. I see no logic in the "this way society runs better" argument. Why is it my responsibility to make society run better. I'm gonna look out for myself and to hell with everyone else!

(BTW, I hope everyone realizes that I don't really feel that way. I do feel responsible to society. Both because my religion teaches it, and because my environment teaches it. I was only saying what I might feel if I abandoned those teachings, and went with straight logic.)

05-27-1999, 05:58 PM
Hey Keeves, I think we are finding a lot of common ground. What's up with that? ;-)

I think when you say that in addition to your religion teaching responsibility to society that "your environment teaches it" as well, you are talking about some of the non-religious factors that can contribute to high morals.

I agree with what you said about the moral compass, starting at neutral. My hypothetical religionless society would have to be morally stronger than this one, to make up for the "rock" that is religion. I think the majority of responsibility would lie on the parents to set the compass in the right direction.

Our main disagreement seems to lie in the "this way society runs better" argument. I'll try to explain my view on this.

I don't think people consciously think "I shouldn't steal that TV because it will contribute to the downfall of society." I think that societies compete against each other in a "survival-of-the-fittest" manner, like animals in the wild competing for ecological niches. Societies with higher levels of cooperation will tend to compete better.

A Simplified Example: You have two countries at war, with virtually exactly the same resources.

The first country has high moral standards; a greater number of people that will not steal or kill because of their personal convictions. Let's call this "Country 1".

The other country is a cesspool of theft and murder, with no moral standards whatsoever. Let's call this country "France". Kidding! Call it "Country 2".

Country 2 will have to devote more of it's resources towards police and jails than Country 1 has to. Country 2 will have less resources to devote to the war, and will be more likely to lose. Therefore, Country 1 has out-competed Country 2, and Country 1's society model has out-competed Country 2's.

My point: If people don't take it upon themselves to have a better society (whether it be about morals or anything else) their society will likely, in the long run, be replaced by one where the individuals do think about society before the immediate gain of immorality.

A society can compete better because it's people are more moral due to religious influences.
Or, the people can be moral simply because their moral compass points in that direction, free of religious influence. These people's society will also compete better than an immoral one.

05-28-1999, 12:36 AM
The ethical code of a religion, its lists of do's and don'ts, and its general moral compass, provide and absolute standard of right and wrong for its adherents. Without a divine standard of right and wrong, we default to society's subjective opinions, as reformulated from time to time by the government and by accepted custom.


This argument is unconvincing to one who does not think divinity exists. If there is no God, there is no divine standard of right and wrong. Of course, it is pointless to debate this point. I wonít convince anybody that there is no God, and no one will convince me that God exists.

I donít agree that a societyís standard of right and wrong is any more subjective that religions. What a religion says it right and wrong also seems to change from year to year. Meat on Fridayís? Itís bad! No wait, changed my mind, go ahead and eat that cow.

Sure, thatís pretty minor thing, you might say. Big things, like murder, donít change. But I think for the big things, religion should be unnecessary. If someone is only held back from killing because of the threat of Hell, is that person really moral? Only in actions, and not in mind. People who act in a moral way because they are basically threatened into it are weaker morally than those who internalize the fact that murder is wrong, and why it is wrong.
Religion is a more a moral crutch than a moral compass to many.

There is no reason why a society cannot teach morals to its children in a humanistic fashion. It would seem to me that the teachings would be far more effective if the people learning the moral code were also taught the societal reasons behind the code. Not, ďact this way or youíll be punishedĒ (like religion), but ďact this way because that is the way you would want everybody else to act.Ē

I can see a day when society abandons religion, and as a result becomes morally stronger.

05-28-1999, 09:26 AM
Hey Keeves, I think we are finding a lot of common ground. What's up with that? ;-)Scary, isn't it? :)

(BTW, the UBB standard is to omit the hyphen to get the good smilies.)

I think your story about Country 1 and Country 2 might be summarized as "Honesty is the best policy." In fact, I think that explains most or all of what you've been trying to say for the past few days. That is, when religion is out of the picture, one can still be a moral person, not for the altruistic reason of creating a better society, but for the selfish reason of personally benefitting from that better society.

If so, then your point is well taken, but please note the difference between long-term goals and short-term goals. Some people will work for a better society because it will benefit them in the long term. But a bird in that hand is worth two in the bush, and I think most people would choose a real and substantial personal benefit today, over a better society tomorrow, if they felt they could get away with it.

That brings us back to the fear factor. Hell is more severe, but jail is more imminent, so I'd say the fear factor is about balanced in the two systems.

And if we leave out the fear of punishment: A non-religious person will be good only if he has the inner strength to work for the long-term betterment of society. But the religious person will be good even for short-term goals, because each act is an independent "right thing to do", simply because God wants it that way.

I love a good debate in which the participants refuse to back down from their principles, but will work sincerely to identify the exact points at which their principles diverge. Thanks.

05-28-1999, 09:47 AM
Of course it contains quotes from the Bible. The original writers of the Book of Mormon had the Old Testament on brass plates up to 600 B.C.E., and they quoted from it because they felt that the message was important to preserve for future generations. The Book of Mormon is no more a forgery because it quotes from the KJV Bible than the KJV New Testament is for quoting the KJV Old Testament.
--Snarkberry

You know I like you Snark-- but
WHAT!? Brass plates? 600 BCE?

The point of the OP was that if the Book of Mormon was supposed to have been written before the KJV translation of the Bible existed, how could the Book of Mormon quote the KJV is precise language.

Which point is moot, because the Book of Mormon, if i understand the story, was originally in some obscure code, and was translated into English by Joseph Smith, so the English Book of Mormon is relatively recent.

Brass plates?


------------------
--Rowan

05-28-1999, 10:02 AM
Revtim:

How about a simple neighborhood community? They have common goals, such as keeping crime out of the area, and keeping property values from dropping. They socialize within the community, and have a very real sense of communal purpose.

Another example: My workplace. We are a community with shared goals, developing products. It gives us a sense of purpose. We socialize together, some of us even find mates within this community. It is clearly a community that is based on non-religious functions.

These are examples of communities that provide a shared goal. I suppose this is a "purpose" of a sort, but it's not what I meant by that word. what I meant by that word was a sense of the purpose for which we were created. A secular individual might see a problem in society that no one has been able to solve, come up with the solution, and feel in his gut "I was put on Earth to solve this problem." However, this sort of thing doesn't seem to get translated to larger groups of people except through religion.

The closest anything has come to that, it seems to me, is Communism, but it didn't have staying power...it might have provided a sense of purpose to a generation or two, but by the third generation, the feeling was gone, for the most part. Not only in Communist countries (which it could be argued were never truly communist to begin with), but even in small, communist societies such as Israeli kibbutzes.

------------------
Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

05-28-1999, 10:10 AM
I must admit that I didn't read all the posts here; I started too but they all started blurring together. I believe what I believe because it rings true in my soul. If what I believe makes me a better person and I can share that my beliefs with someone who is interested in why I am the way I am, cool. I've been reading a lot of CS Lewis lately (he's been blowing my mind! What a great philosopher!) and it's really helped for me to better understand why I believe what I believe.

I also think that it is human nature for that "clique" thing to arise, regardless if it's high school or religion, hence denominations etc not to mention the intolerance of others who believe different than us. Our need to belong to something special makes us push others away or try to pull them in against their will. Sad, isn't it?

------------------
Carpe Diem!

05-28-1999, 01:06 PM
I wrote:
Of course it [the Book of Mormon] contains quotes from the Bible. The original writers of the Book of Mormon had the Old Testament on brass plates up to 600 B.C.E., and they quoted from it because they felt that the message was important to preserve for future generations. The Book of Mormon is no more a forgery because it quotes from the KJV Bible than the KJV New Testament is for quoting the KJV Old Testament.
--Snarkberry

Rivkah Maccabi wrote:
You know I like you Snark-- but
WHAT!? Brass plates? 600 BCE?

Apparently so. Here's a quote from a study guide to the B. of M.:

"The brass plates of Laban served as a scripture for the people of the Nephite nation. These plates were obtained from Laban in Jerusalem and were taken to the promised land by Lehi's colony. They were evidently written in Egyptian (Mosiah 1:3-4) and were kept by the descendants of Joseph who was sold into Egypt (1 Nephi 5:14-16). These two facts suggest that the brass plates were probably started in the days of Joseph. . . . Joseph Smith did not translate directly from the brass plates of Laban, but he did translate two records that contained some of the writings on the brass plates."
Daniel H. Ludlow, "A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon", Copyright 1976 by Deseret Book Co. All rights reserved.

Rivkah:

The point of the OP was that if the Book of Mormon was supposed to have been written before the KJV translation of the Bible existed, how could the Book of Mormon quote the KJV is precise language.

Well, keep in mind that Joseph Smith's Bible was the KJV. It makes sense to suppose that he translated the B. of M. in that language simply because he was used to scriptures being in that language. Every translation is influenced by the translator's point of view and understanding.

Rivkah:

Which point is moot, because the Book of Mormon, if i understand the story, was originally in some obscure code, and was translated into English by Joseph Smith, so the English Book of Mormon is relatively recent.

It was in "reformed Egyptian," I believe. Yes, the English B. of M. came into existence in the early 1800's when Joseph Smith translated it.

05-28-1999, 07:27 PM
Keeves wrote:

And if we leave out the fear of punishment: A non-religious person will be good only if he has the inner strength to work for the long-term betterment of society. But the religious person will be good even for short-term goals, because each act is an independent "right thing to do", simply because God wants it that way.


A non-religious person can also consider each act as an independent "right thing to do". Certainly religion can instill this into an individual, but so can parents, or even other external factors.


And thanks for the tip on the smiley, here's a test: :) ;)

And cmkeller wrote:

A secular individual might see a problem in society that no one has been able to solve, come up with the solution, and feel in his gut "I was put on Earth to solve this problem." However, this sort of thing doesn't seem to get translated to larger groups of people except through religion.


It could also simply be that since the majority of people have a religion, then by probability the majority of "problem solvers" also have a religion. It's not necessarily a cause and effect relationship.

It would be useful to somehow find out if the "problem solver" set has a higher rate of religion than the rest of the population. And also to see if the "problem causers" have a less rate of religion.

06-02-1999, 09:49 AM
A quick correction on a couple of points.

1st, the Church never maintained that eating meat on Fridays was a sin. It was a rule of discipline only, a weekly reminder to Christians both that we are saved by Jesus' sacrifice, and that we should have a little self-control. It was abolished precisely because it had acquired a silly reputation as a moral rule. (Of course, given that it was a rule of the Church, it was a sin to break the rule, but that's not the same thing as being a sin in itself.)

2nd, the necessary link between religion and morality is not, "If we don't have the Church to tell us how to be moral, we won't be," but rather, "What is the S.I. unit of Justice?" If right and wrong cannot be measured in any combination of meters, kilograms, seconds, degrees Kelvin, amperes and radians, then either there is no such thing as right and wrong at all, or there is a reality other than the realities of physical science.

------------------
John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams

06-02-1999, 11:07 AM
My goodness, John W. Kennedy. You think that you KNOW that the book of mormon is a forgery. It has been PROVED by your source. The essence of the book of mormon is this: The Lord told me it is true. I know many people who also make this claim. The Lord has told each one of us. This is my claim, and many others with me. I have, on my side, the Lord himself telling me that the book is true. You have an unnamed source with speculation and conjecture doing everything he or she can to "prove" the book of mormon wrong. get back to the real issue in this thread.

Unless you can give good reasons to grant the a priori assumptions that: A) The Lord exists, B) he talks to people and C) he is infallible and always truthful, you have the weight of scholarship and redaction versus your own warm fuzzy feeling. Please.

06-07-1999, 10:20 AM
Great discussion here. Thanks for the Mormon links, but they were clogged when I checked due to the new Mormon geneology database, I assume. I'll keep checking.

Keeves & Revtim:

We must separate two questions under discussion here:

- Why are we moral?

- Why should we be moral?

The first is essentially a scientific question, to which we should apply our tools of wonder and inquiry. Those who have done this, psychologists, ethicists, sociologists, anthropologists, etc. are not generally of the opinion that it comes from a relationship with God or the supernatural. It would have been on the news. What they find is the usual combination of instincts and experience, nature and nurture.

It is a mantra of most religions that our instincts are basically selfish by default, and we need some absolute moral authority to guide us (either through threats, promises, or just through awe and respect, as Keeves suggests). But this simply isn't true. Our instincts are very complex, and not fully understood, but it's clear that they are not merely self-oriented and socially destructive as the vast majority of people believe.

We have a powerful instinctive desire for acceptance, for example. We want to fit in. From childhood we try to do what we need to do to get others to like us (the "Bill Clinton" effect?)

So we have instincts and experience as inputs, actual moral rules and behavior as outputs, and the black box known as the mind in-between. We should continue to apply our wonder and inquiry to the black box, but we know enough, I think, to tentatively conclude that religion's argument (selfish instincts must be countered by a moral authority) is untenable (the fact that it's also self-serving for religions may give us insight into why it's asserted so absolutely, but that's another topic).

Cultural relativism is on the ropes as theories go because it's been shown that all peoples do have the same basic set of moral values, such as honesty, integrity, etc., regardless of religous belief. It's also been shown that within any one society, strength of religious belief does not correlate with moral behavior. I will ask my aunt (who knows more about this stuff than I do) for citations if anyone doesn't believe this.

The point is, if you assert selfish instinct as a default determinant of behavior, you must also accept the desire for acceptance as another one, and allow the possibility of other determinants as yet poorly understood.

The claim that absolute religious authority is necessary for moral behavior, or even improves moral behavior, is without evidence. Of course, any extreme ideology (religous or secular) can be used to override our values and make us monsters, but it's clear that simply doubting the existence of God does not do this. At least I don't think so.

In other words, you can say trees need a guide stick to grow straight up, and you can say they would grow all crooked and sideways without a guide stick, and it may even sound logical when every tree seems to have a guide stick, but that still doesn't make it true.

06-07-1999, 10:36 AM
Our instincts are very complex, and not fully understood, but it's clear that they are not merely self-oriented and socially destructive as the vast majority of people believe. We have a powerful instinctive desire for acceptance, for example.Two points:

(1) I percieve the desire for acceptance as clearly self-oriented. No contradiction. Not sure what your point is.

(2) (a) I have never seen an infant who was not selfish. (b) I believe that inertia is not only a law in physics, but in sociology as well, and therefore an infant who is selfish (ie. everyone) will continue to be selfish upon growing up, unless acted upon by an outside force (such as a religious or legal system, as we've discussed above).

(3) I agree that, as you say, instincts are not well understood. I am very willing to consider other mechanisms. Did you have any specific ideas to suggest?

06-07-1999, 11:50 AM
You still fail to see my point. The question I am raising is not: "Do we need the Church to guide us?" but: "Is Reality so constituted that propositions on the order of: 'Rape is wrong," are meaningful?"

------------------
John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams

06-07-1999, 01:02 PM
(1) I percieve the desire for acceptance as clearly self-oriented. No contradiction. Not sure what your point is.

If the desire for acceptance is self-oriented (i.e. accepting your definition of self-oriented here), then, if it's also true that helping others is necessary for acceptance (which is likely in any social system), then helping others must be self-oriented!

This is the difference between selfish and self-oriented. The latter term is difficult to define exactly, but it's clear that even if my instincts alone were to cause me to risk death to save a drowning baby (or insert your own altruistic act), it could still be defined as self-oriented, because it satisfies my instinct. I think your argument (Keeves) requires that the instinct be selfish and uncaring about others. If everybody's instincts (self-"oriented", if you like) add up to normal human moral values, then there's no need for a higher authority; that's the point.

I think you are claiming that all human instincts are selfish, not just self-oriented. Any evidence?

...therefore an infant who is selfish (ie. everyone) will continue to be selfish upon growing up, unless acted upon by an outside force (such as a religious or legal system, as we've discussed above).

No, different instincts kick in at various stages of development, so this argument is patently untrue.

Again infants may be selfish (actually I prefer your term "self-oriented" here) at first, but children at a young age display modeling behavior and a drive for approval and acceptance from parents and other role models. Their behavior is a result of interactions between these drives. This is true regardless of religious teaching (and starts before the concept of God would really make sense to a child anyway, I think).

Children who grow up without being "acted upon by an outside force (such as a religious or legal system...)" are feral. The outside force is 1. Everbody else and 2. Their values. Children raised in a box are amoral and have no ability to function. We develop as we do because of our interactions with others and a mixture of self-oriented (but not necessarily selfish) instincts. The fact that it makes a child feel good to be approved of (say, but helping with chores) doesn't mean it must have been a selfish act.

So children pick up the values of their society because they need to to satisfy their instincts, for better or worse.

But why would a godless society have atruistic values for children to pick up? This is the real question.

I suspect it has to do with adults realizing that their best chance for getting their needs met is working together on common goals with values of caring and helping. Revkin has gone into this, I think. But even if a person doesn't think about the values, they still pick them up from their society. In fact, they pick them up as children, then think about them (maybe) as adults.

If I rebel and steal, not only could I get arrested, but I will also feel bad because I violated my own value system.

To be proud of myself I must care about others. And it's in my self-oriented interest to promote those values in others, including the young. In fact, the value system includes feeling proud about promoting the value system, at least it seems to.

My one shred of evidence: my experience is that 90% (a statistic I just made up right now) of the ethical teachings parents give their children are things that are selfish to the parent, and are taught because the parent wants the child to express that value right now. "Be good," they teach. Only partly because it will help the child, but also because it helps the parents meet their own immediate needs.

06-07-1999, 01:06 PM
John W. Kennedy writes:You still fail to see my point. The question I am raising is not: "Do we need the Church to guide us?" but: "Is Reality so constituted that propositions on the order of: 'Rape is wrong," are meaningful?"It is not clear to me who is being referenced by the word "you", so I'll offer my feelings on this question:

I see two mutually exclusive possibilities: (A) Reality does have an objective Right and Wrong, although humans may or may not be able to know what it is and/or agree on what it is. (B) Reality does not have any objective standards for Right and Wrong, although individuals may have their own subjective standards, and societies may be able to establish such standards for their members.

My feeling is that Right and Wrong cannot be quantified like mathematics, and no amount of discussion can establish anything objective in ethics. We might come to a consensus of agreement on certain issues, but that would be a practical set of agreed-upon rules. It would not be part of the way Reality is constituted, to used John W. Kennedy's words. An objective definition of right and wrong in Reality can only come from One Who is outside of us, and above us.

Therefore, to the question of <<< Is Reality so constituted that propositions on the order of: 'Rape is wrong," are meaningful? >>>, I will now answer:

I do believe that God did create Reality so that the proposition "Rape is wrong" is both meaningful and true. Without a belief in such a God, it does seem that most (all?) societies have agreed to consider rape as wrong. However, I can imagine certain individuals who would place a great deal of importance in survival of the human species, and if they were unable to find willing mates, they might consider it "right" to rape someone, if it were done in a sufficiently non-violent manner. Society would consider him wrong, but Reality would abstain from having an opinion.

06-07-1999, 01:26 PM
Axel Wheeler writes:But why would a godless society have atruistic values for children to pick up? This is the real question.

I suspect it has to do with adults realizing that their best chance for getting their needs met is working together on common goals with values of caring and helping. Revkin has gone into this, I think. But even if a person doesn't think about the values, they still pick them up from their society. In fact, they pick them up as children, then think about them (maybe) as adults.

If I rebel and steal, not only could I get arrested, but I will also feel bad because I violated my own value system.I truly sorry to be such a cynic, but I just don't see things as you do. Kids who are lucky enough to grow up in a decent environment will probably turn out as you say, but not everyone is lucky enough to be in such an environment.

There are lots of dog-eat-dog-type human societies out there where no one can be trusted, and everyone is out for themselves, and there is not a chance in hell that anyone will feel bad about stealing. Certainly not after they've stolen a few times. Even the first few thefts, some of them may feel bad, but others will just note that their priorities have changed, and ya gotta do what ya gotta do. ("Gangs" and "mobs" are just two if the words we often use to describe such societies.)

One might argue that in the very long run, those values which keep homo sapiens alive twenty thousand years from now can be declared the winner. Those are the values which have proven successful. Those values define Right and Wrong. But that would be a fruitless attempt. Which are the values that have kept us around for the past twenty thousand years, I wonder...

06-07-1999, 01:30 PM
This makes me crazy! Why argue something that is so utterly personal? Something that no two people will agree on?

Go back and read the posts by Nickrz! He (she?) makes sense!

No wait - I'll do it for you......

"Nobody has to tolerate my religion, because I keep my yap shut about it. You can believe
what you want to believe, it's all the same to me - just don't get in my face with it.
Tolerance made simple?"

How aptly put. Religion should remain each person's individual choice. I was brought up strict Catholic. However, as I got older I began to see things wrong with the church. I still maintain some of the beliefs I was raised with, however, I no longer follow the teaching of that organization. My god is my god. Simple. You have your beliefs, I have mine. And, nothing you say can change mine. (And I wouldn't even attempt to try to change yours).

I loved Nickrz's addition to the thread:

"The Church of the Holy Frisbee. That's where your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down."

Have some fun, people!!!

06-07-1999, 02:08 PM
Axel Wheeler said:If the desire for acceptance is self-oriented (i.e. accepting your definition of self-oriented here), then, if it's also true that helping others is necessary for acceptance (which is likely in any social system), then helping others must be self-oriented!
Interestingly, Susan Blackmore discusses "the altruism trick" in regards to memes in her new book, The Meme Machine. Her thesis, for those unfamiliar with the term, is taken from Richard Dawkins' coining of the term "meme" in his book, The Selfish Gene. Basically, the meme is thought to be a replicator -- like the gene -- but a replicator of ideas and concepts instead of DNA and the like. And like genes, memes are acted upon by the forces of natural selection. So those memes which are more likely to get copied survive.

This is where "the altruism trick" comes into play. If a meme includes behavior that is altruistic, it will be more likely to spread (according to her theory). This is why (again, according to her) religion has spread so well -- because it often includes a great deal of altruism in it; the better to replicate. An interesting theory, at least.

------------------
"What can be more deluding, or even dangerous, than false comfort that blinds our vision and inspires passivity?"
-- Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages

06-07-1999, 02:14 PM
I do believe that God did create Reality so that the proposition "Rape is wrong" is both meaningful and true. Without a belief in such a God, it does seem that most (all?) societies have agreed to consider rape as wrong. However, I can imagine certain individuals who would place a great deal of importance in survival of the human species, and if they were unable to find willing mates, they might consider it "right" to rape someone, if it were done in a sufficiently non-violent manner.

You don't need to go that far for your hypothetical. Rape is frequently committed, suggested and condoned in the Bible. So to whatever extent rape is wrong, the god of the Bible does not consider it so in all circumstances.

06-07-1999, 03:05 PM
pldennisson wrote:So to whatever extent rape is wrong, the god of the Bible does not consider it so in all circumstances.The operative phrases being "to whatever extent" (ie, to some extent, but not totally) and "not in all circumstances" (ie, but in some, perhaps even most or the vast majority, of circumstances).

06-07-1999, 03:05 PM
Sheeeeesh! I can't believe I'm saying/doing this, but pld is right.

(and he was right without calling anyone names!!)

06-07-1999, 03:27 PM
Keeves;
I would very much like to know under what circumstanses you and your god think rape is justifiable.

------------------
"I think it would be a great idea" Mohandas Ghandi's answer when asked what he thought of Western civilization

06-07-1999, 03:36 PM
Keeves;
I would very much like to know under what circumstanses you and your god think rape is justifiable.

I can't speak for Keeves, but within the Old Testament:

Lot, the man who is allowed to escape the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah becuase he's a stand-up guy and a pal of Abraham, offers his two teen daughters up for gang rape. He is not punished for this action, but his wife, who disobeys the "don't look back" command, is destroyed. Implicit condonement of rape.

Later, Lot's daughters get him drunk and sleep with him to impregnate themselves. Condonement of rape AND incest.

In, I believe, Deuteronomy, the Israelites do what they do best: attack some city and kill everyone. Except they bring back the women and children. Moses tells them to kill all the male children and all the mothers, but keep the virgins for themselves. Explicit condonement of rape.

There's more, if you want it.

06-07-1999, 03:42 PM
Dear Lucky,

Thank you very much for catching me on that. The way I wrote it, it does sound like I might sanction rape under some circumstances. The fact is, I cannot think of any situation which would justify rape. However, pldennisson seems to think thatRape is frequently ... suggested and condoned in the Bible.My point was that I am confident that as a general rule, God does not condone rape, but I have an open mind, and wouldn't mind hearing about pldennisson's exceptional cases. I can't imagine what they'd be.

06-07-1999, 03:49 PM
Lot was never made out to be a saint. He survived the destruction because he wasn't as bad as the rest of them. He was wrong for offering his daughters. Period.

They were told not to look back and gloat. What does that have to do with the previous story?

The daughters raped their father and were wrong for it.

The women in the war were not killed. They were allowed to live and join the Jewish people. Where's the rape?

06-07-1999, 04:41 PM
CrystalBlue: Nickrz's comment you quote appears to relate to promoting beliefs, not discussing them. There's a big difference between door-to-door preaching and having a discussion on a message board meant only for that purpose. And opinions do change after discussions like these; at a minimum they become more sophisticated. I wonder what you are here for if people's minds don't change? :)

Keeves:

Kids who are lucky enough to grow up in a decent environment will probably turn out as you say, but not everyone is lucky enough to be in such an environment.

As I suggested, it's possible to interfere with the 'normal' moral development (if if's true that there is a 'common set' of values) through means such as indoctrination, traumatic experience, or just poverty, or under dictatorial conditions. But even then these same values do exist to some extent. Gangs, for example, are not examples of:

There are lots of dog-eat-dog-type human societies out there where no one can be trusted, and everyone is out for themselves, and there is not a chance in hell that anyone will feel bad about stealing.

I know gang members think of each other as a family, and are said to be very caring towards each other. In fact, I bet gang members express the common values set towards each other; otherwise the gang couldn't exist. The way dictatorial systems promote hate is by narrowing the definition of 'us', and fanning the flames of hate towards all others. This happens on the national level as well as on the personal level.

Gang members just don't see the rest of us as people who count in their society. A combination of redefining the boundaries of us vs. them, along with dictatorial extremism seems to be a good way to approach the study of gang morality.

Of course, this implies that the 'common values set' allows for hate towards enemies, whether in the form of the dog next door, Saddam Hussein, murderers and rapists, or, for a gang member, anyone outside the gang. We've all felt hate, and most of us think we shouldn't. So, hate is an instinctive reaction to Enemy that we suppress through our values set. I wonder whether "Hate is Wrong" is a member of the common values set. I doubt it.

This reminds me of Cecil's column on headhunters. The Jivaro cut off the heads of captured enemies with blunt tools without caring or maybe even noticing whether the victim was still conscious. They probably felt that 'us' was their own tribe only, everybody else wasn't really human, and had some ideological reason for it.

I don't think anyone was suggesting that rape is ever justifiable, just that some societies have thought so, even more individuals have thought so, and sometimes religion or some other ideology is used as a justification. Ethnic cleansing comes to mind.

Keeves, while I don't think there are such completely hateful societies as you describe, there are societies that define us vs. them quite differently and have some extraordinary behaviors. But do they really have a fundamentally different set of values? If so, how are they different?

06-07-1999, 04:59 PM
Busy night. Several posts came in while I was writing my last one.

A comment on the Lot's-wife-pillar-of-salt story. I heard that the expression "a pillar of salt" was used in ancient times to mean simply a barren woman. I don't know if it's true or not.

The women in the war were not killed. They were allowed to live and join the Jewish people. Where's the rape?

Right in front of your nose. You've got to be kidding. Let the virgin daughters join in the glorious Jewish faith, but not the young sons? Is that the implication you get out of it? Does God in this passage explain why only the virgin daughters are ready to handle the faith? I've read the passage, but not recently. I don't remember any stated reason given at all. It looked more like the reason was too obvious to explain, namely, rape.

The women were chattel: the spoils of war. They might not have been actively raped, but if not they were probably either sold around or, if the Isrealites were particularly enlightened, married off draft-pick style. But I doubt the women had much choice about any of it, particularly if they didn't speak the lingo.

06-07-1999, 05:44 PM
While I was failing to find the passage in Deuteronomy referred to by pldennison I was stunned anew by what I did find:

Deuterotomy 22:20
But if it is true that the girl could produce no signs of virginity, the men of her city shall bring the girl to the door of her fatherís house and shall stone her to death, for she has done a foolish thing in Israel by playing the harlot in her fatherís house; thus you shall purge evil from your midst.

Read from 22:13 for the full effect.

And..

Deuterotomy 22:28
If a man comes across a virgin girl who is not engaged and overpowers and rapes her and they be discovered, the man who has raped her must pay her father fifty shekels of silver and she must become his wife because he has humiliated her; he may not divorce her as long as he lives.

And this,

Deuterotomy 23:1
A man with crushed testicles or severed penis may not enter the assembly of the LORD.

How I found these: I just did a word search on "virgin" in Deuterotomy and landed smack dab in this section. Is this representative!?

All quotes from The NET Bible:
http://www.bible.org/netbible/index.htm

I point these out as examples of how the normal values set can be overridden by a dictatorial system. I say nothing works better at solving human problems than feeling inwardly, caring outwardly, and thinking, none of which seem plentiful in Deuterotomy. Just obeying and hoping.

06-08-1999, 09:27 AM
Axel Wheeler asked:Let the virgin daughters join in the glorious Jewish faith, but not the young sons? Is that the implication you get out of it? Does God in this passage explain why only the virgin daughters are ready to handle the faith?As it was taught to me, the men were the warriors and soldiers, and would be a bad influence upon the Jews. Gotta get rid of them. Same goes for the women, as they've formed emotional attatchments to the men, and are similarly indoctrinated in that foreign society. The virgin girls are the only ones who are innocent (hmmm, that might not be the right word. I don't mean innocent as opposed to guilty, but in the young, naive, malleable sense) enough to join the Jews without detrimental effects.The women were chattel: the spoils of war. They might not have been actively raped, but if not they were probably either sold around or, if the Isrealites were particularly enlightened, married off draft-pick style.Or, just maybe they had the option of staying single? I thought we were gonna talk about how God condones rape. Now you messed it all up and changed it to God telling us how to take care of prisoners of war. Party pooper.

Then we have a few quotes, (1) showing how premarital sex is a serious sin, (2) showing that indeed, rape is a BAD thing (surprised?), and (3) a fertile woman should not marry an infertile man. By the way, in the #2 rape case, the forced marriage is a punishment to the rapist; the girl is allowed to opt out of it.I point these out as examples of how the normal values set can be overridden by a dictatorial system. I say nothing works better at solving human problems than feeling inwardly, caring outwardly, and thinking, none of which seem plentiful in Deuterotomy. Just obeying and hoping.Depends on what you mean by "normal values". Feeling, caring, and thinking don't seem plentiful in Deuteronomy? That depends on where you look. Here are some lines from the SAME CHAPTERS you cited, and the SAME TRANSLATION that you used:22:1-4) You must not observe your brotherís ox or sheep going astray and close your eyes to them - you must without fail return them to your brother. If your brother does not live near you or you do not know him, then you must corral it at your house and let it stay with you until your brother looks for it; then you must return it to him. You shall do the same to his donkey, his clothes, or anything else your brother has lost and you have found; you must not hide yourself. Do not observe your brotherís donkey or ox fallen along the road and avoid them; indeed, you must help him get them up.

22:6-7) If a birdís nest happen to come to your notice along the way, whether in a tree or on the ground, and there are chicks or eggs upon which the mother is sitting you must not take the mother from the young. You must be sure to let the mother go but you may take the young for yourself. Do this so that it might go well with you and that you might have a long life.

22:8) If you build a new house, you must construct a guard rail on your roof to avoid bringing culpability to yourself in the event someone should fall from it.

22:25-27) But if the man found the engaged girl in the field and seized and raped her, then only the man who did this must die. You must not do anything to the girl - she has done nothing deserving of death; for just as someone rises up against another and kills him, so is this case. For he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.

23:7) You must not hate an Edomite, for he is your brother; you must not hate an Egyptian, for you were a foreigner in his land.

23:15-16) You must not return an escaped slave to his master when he has run away to you. Indeed, he may live among you in any place he chooses, in any of your villages that seems best to him; you must not oppress him.Look, I'm sure both of us can go back and forth forever, throwing quotes at each other. I pointed out a bunch of verses that you conveniently ignored, and I predict that if you look them up, you'll find a bunch that I conveniently failed to mention, mostly because they appear to be great examples of percieved inequalities between men and women. That is a whole 'nother subject, and there are plenty of places where you can learn more about that, if you really want to.

The main point of discussion for the past few days, which I'd like to get back to, is the moral compass provided by religion, as opposed to moral compass which individuals and/or society can find on its own. Axel saysI point these out as examples of how the normal values set can be overridden by a dictatorial system. I say nothing works better at solving human problems than feeling inwardly, caring outwardly, and thinking,and I say that the "normal values set" is at least as debatable as God's value set.

06-08-1999, 02:22 PM
Keeves:

and I say that the "normal values set" is at least as debatable as God's value set.

Well, the "normal values set" (my term for a set of values that normally develops from human interaction) has better evidence in that all peoples share the same basic values (if you accept this claim, of course) regardless of religious belief. So we already accept people have the same basic values. It's the assertion that it's God-given that has to be proven.

The defense of the "God-given" hypothesis is usually based on the belief that our instincts are selfish and could not produce good moral behavior. This assertion is also without proof (and it is what I have been arguing against).

I readily acknowledge that much more research needs to be done in the area of cross-cultural values. But already the traditional view you have defended seems to have had it's main support knocked out from under it.

Now, your responses to my quotes were frankly absurd. It's like saying that the death penalty for speeding is justifiable because speeding is, in fact, wrong, and then saying (surprised?). Yes, the ancients were not completely divorced from normal values, they just promoted a savagely extreme oversimplication of it. I'm only saddened that so many feel compelled to find excuses for these excesses of ancient religion. Deuterotomy isn't wholly depraved, just mostly so.

And Deuterotomy certainly does NOT give the rape victim the option of turning down the marriage. Her opinion on the matter is clearly considered irrelevant in the text. In fact, it says "...she must become his wife..." specifically and says nothing whatsoever to the contrary. Women were sexual property then just as they are in literalist nations today.

06-09-1999, 07:55 AM
Axel Wheeler:

And Deuterotomy certainly does NOT give the rape victim the option of turning down the marriage. Her opinion on the matter is clearly considered irrelevant in the text. In fact, it says "...she must become his wife..." specifically and says nothing whatsoever to the contrary. Women were sexual property then just as they are in literalist nations today.

This is not true, but to demonstrate that to you, it would take an analysis of the Hebrew text as according to the Talmud. Unless you wish me (or Keeves) to delve into the details of that, take our word for it: "She will be (not "must be") to him for a wife" means (according to Jewish tradition) only with her consent, not against it.

------------------
Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

06-09-1999, 08:52 AM
AxelWheeler wroteThe defense of the "God-given" hypothesis is usually based on the belief that our instincts are selfish and could not produce good moral behavior. This assertion is also without proof (and it is what I have been arguing against).I focus on your words "could not". - I never meant to imply that selfish instincts can't produce moral behavior. Indeed, several people here have demonstrated that it can, at least in a very general way. My point was that there is not guarantee that it will produce moral behavior, either.

In contrast, if someone believes in God, and believes that God prescribed a specific set of rules, then that set of rules becomes the very definition of what is moral and what is not, at least for those who subscribe to that set of beliefs.

06-09-1999, 08:56 AM
Chaim - You explained the wording of the rape business better than I could've. Thanks.

EVERYONE - Would it be possible to move this discussion to the "Great Debates" section? This section is really designed for questions which have an answer which might be found with enough research. There's a forum there called "The Great God Debate", and this conversation really belongs there.

06-09-1999, 05:56 PM
Keeves:

1. I didn't realize there even was a Great Debates section. Thanks!

2. I agree with your comments mostly, but you have changed your argument from:

the definitive morality which one can get from religion is a benefit which cannot be gotten in any other way.

and

My belief is that only God can tell us what is "right" and "wrong". Everything else is either guesswork or mob rule. But He can give us morals, and not because He is the Boss who threatens us with heaven and hell, but because He is the Creator who does know more than us, and because He created everything, he truly knows what is right, and what is wrong. Fortunate are those who are willing and able to listen to Him.

But now you say,

I focus on your words "could not". - I never meant to imply that selfish instincts can't produce moral behavior. Indeed, several people here have demonstrated that it can, at least in a very general way. My point was that there is not guarantee that it will produce moral behavior, either.

I believe this reflects a change in your perspective, from the view that morality comes only from God, to the view that it might come naturally from human interactions as well, but a suspicion that it would be inferior. Forgive me if I'm getting this wrong. Now if it's true that irreligious people are demonstrably as moral as religious people, then you can't reasonably claim that:

My point was that there is no guarantee that it will produce moral behavior, either.

because there is an empirical guarantee.

Cmkeller & Keeves:

Yes, I believe English-speaking Christian fundamentalists usually believe in the literal truth of the English translation, not the Hebrew. It was that perspective I was criticizing, since there are so many of them here in the USA. So, I can say that Christian literalistm can be proven false, or at least absurd, based on Deuterotomy, and is one of the "not right" ones, to put it in ObbieWon's original terms.

"She will be (not "must be") to him for a wife" means (according to Jewish tradition) only with her consent, not against it.

This is because the Jewish people are notoriously reasonable, and, when faced with a choice between an interpretation that suggests that God is a maniac and one that suggests He isn't, they prefer the latter. Unfortunately, Christian fundamentalists aren't so sensible. I'm talking about my own experience here.

Even with your phraseology it sounds like Jewish interpreters are adding the voluntary as the benefit of the doubt. The word "will" is a statement, not an offer. In other words, both of your interpretations sound non-literalist, which is a good thing! I mean if your going to believe it, it's better not to be literalist. Because, if it in fact is not the literal word of God, then you're forced into believing an ancient human's interpretation as fact, which would be bad.

I think this discussion relates directly to the original question, and anyone wishing to promote a particular religion as the true one can do so at any time. Until then, the Great God debate is pretty busy with other stuff. There are so many different "Great God Debates"!

06-10-1999, 08:08 AM
Axel Wheeler:

Even with your phraseology it sounds like Jewish interpreters are adding the voluntary as the benefit of the doubt. The word "will" is a statement, not an offer. In other words, both of your interpretations sound non-literalist, which is a good thing! I mean if your going to believe it, it's better not to be literalist. Because, if it in fact is not the literal word of God, then you're forced into believing an ancient human's interpretation as fact, which would be bad.

Afraid you're off-base on this one. When I mentioned the Talmudic interpretation of the phrase, it is in fact based on strict literalism, not "reasonable (by human standards" interpretative liberalism. I didn't want to get into the details, but I can see that my words were misconstrued, so here goes:

The basic word form for "to be" in Hebrew is "HYH". (I will highlight it below with bold lettering.) This word form is used to refer to marriage in two places in the Torah. One such place is in the portion dealing with a man who rapes a single woman: "V'Lo (to him) TiHYEH (she shall be) L'Isha (for a wife)."

The other place is where the Torah discusses divorce, specifically, the law that a man who divorces a woman and then the woman subsequently remarries another and that second marriage somehow dissolves (either through divorce or death), the first husband is not allowed to remarry her. When describing the case (and I'm afraid I don't have chapter and verse numbers in front of me), it phrases the first divorce and remarriage as follows: "V'Yotzah (and she leaves) V'HaYsaH (and she is, or she becomes) L'Ish Acher (to a different man)."

The Talmudic scholars used the similarity in language between the second case I quoted you and the rape case to derive that the marriage for the woman is optional, as it is in the divorce-remarriage case. It is only the man that it is forced on (i.e., if the woman wants him, but he had just been looking for quickie sex and not a lifelong commitment, guess what, creep...you're stuck!), which is evident from the fact that it later says (re: the rape case) "He can never send her our all his days" (i.e., he does not have the option of divorce).

So not only is the interpretation literalist, it's sort of ultra-literalist. But there's a heck of a lot of Biblical stuff that seems nonsensical in a translation, but works perfectly in the original Hebrew.

------------------
Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

06-10-1999, 03:29 PM
AxelWheeler: Yes, there was a change in perspective, but not a change in opinion. What I mean is that it sounded different because the focus of the conversation changed, but my opinion stays the same.

Please note my use of the phrase (who you were so kind to include in the quote) "at least in a very general way". What I meant is that by trial and error, it is indeed possible to achieve a basic morality even without God teaching it. But there will be borderline cases where different people will have genuine differences of opinion, and there will also be cases which never came up for discussion because they appeared straightforward. So I think that I am still pretty consistent in feeling that a genuinely sincere person (or people), working hard enough at the task, can reach an approximation of the same rules of right and wrong that God would dictate to His believers on a silver platter.

Several caveats to the above:

Different religions make different claims regarding what God thinks about what is right and what is wrong; but this conversation is about "morals from religion" as opposed to "morals from logic", so I think it is fair to stipulate that the religion under discussion is "the true religion" or "a true religion", without naming any particular one.

Further, I think this discussion has been about defining the rules of morality, as opposed to following those rules. It saddens me to have to admit that temptations can be very strong, and that people -- religious or not -- often succumb to those temptations. I'd like to say that a belief in God will strengthen a person to stand up to temptation, but it has been amply argued in this forum that an effective police force and judicial system is not much different. Religious or not, when push comes to shove and a person thinks he can get away with something, the determining factor is usually the morality of his friends, family, and general environment.

06-10-1999, 03:57 PM
"She will be to him for a wife"Cmkeller's explanation is accurate. Let me add a prequel to it, from a linguistic angle:

The bane of translators all over, is that there is very rarely a one-to-one correspondence between words of one language with the words of another language. A word in language #1 might be translatable several different ways in language #2, and a word in L2 might go any of several ways in L1.

To me, one of the most common examples of this, is the simple future tense form of Hebrew verbs. A literal translation is very simple: "He will do it." It is literal, but it is often inaccurate. What was the actual intent of the words? It is a command? "He must do it." or a suggestion? "He should do it." or a mere prediction? "He will do it."

Sometimes the rhetoric comes through in English, and sometimes it doesn't. Take the Ten Commandments, for example. The negative laws there all use the simple future tense verb, not the imperative. It does not say, "Do not murder." But rather it says "You will not murder", or in older English, "Thou shalt not murder." But because we understand the context, we understand that "You will not murder" is not a mere prediction or suggestion, but it is a command.

Ambiguities of this sort are the basis of many Talmudic investigations, similar to the one presented above by Cmkeller.

06-11-1999, 01:13 PM
Keeves:

Ambiguities of this sort are the basis of many Talmudic investigations, similar to the one presented above by Cmkeller.

But, I say, if the scholars in question are also believers in the accuracy of the text they are interpreting, there is a massive conflict of interest. Particularly, if they believe at the outset that God is good, and that the talmud is literally His word, then their interpretations on close calls might be affected.

The problem is that one can't just invalidate the best scholars in a subject area; what else do we have to go on? Yes, presumably there are secular interpretations, but they may be similarly biased against finding accuracy in the text.

Cmkeller:

Yes, this does show a possible interpretation of a marriage option for the woman, but it bases it on another case in which we presume the marriage was optional, but we don't really know. However, in many cultures marriage in general was/is not an option for women, only to the women's parents, and many marriages are/were arranged long beforehand. Your argument relies, I think, on some assumptions:

1. Marriage was optional for women. If not, then the second case only reinforces the horrific interpretation of the first case.

2. As Keeves says, differences in context make for differences in meanings. If assumption #1 above is true, then that meaning would have been clear in context to those living in that time. Thus, the first case is a different context, and the word may mean differently there.

Actually, I'm not sure I agree with the idea that the divorce/remarriage case usage involves any choice for the woman anyway. Yes, she may have had a choice, but this sentence isn't about the choice, it's about the fact of the first remarriage, clearly an event in the past:

Marriage to bachelor #1
Divorce from bachelor #1
Marriage to bachelor #2
Divorce from bachelor #2
-This is where we are now-
Question remarriage to bachelor #1

So, the marriage to bachelor #2 is clearly in the past, and while she may well have been willing to go along with it, there's no reason to have included that meaning in a sentence merely relating the fact that it occurred.

However!: I also don't have the text in front of me, and even if I did I'm not a scholar. I'm sure I'm missing a lot.

Here's a fair question: Do most talmudic scholars agree on this interpretation (including most non-literalists)? The discussion on this detail could easily get huge, so I'm asking this question as a sort of shortcut. If many non-literalist talmud scholars feel that the passage forces her to marry the rapist, then it opens the door to the possiblity that the literalists are "blinded by the light".

06-14-1999, 09:18 AM
Axel Wheeler:

But, I say, if the scholars in question are also believers in the accuracy of the text they are interpreting, there is a massive conflict of interest. Particularly, if they believe at the outset that God is good, and that the talmud is literally His word, then their interpretations on close calls might be affected.

It's not a conflict of interest...it's a single interest. Yes, they believe that G-d is good, but they believe His goodness is defined by what it says in the Torah. Therefore, whatever way the Torah is to be interpreted is to be considered good, as long as it is done so properly (and there are guidelines regarding this). Granted, there are non-Judaic value systems in which something Judaic might not be considered good. But since there are well-defined guidelines for Biblical interpretation, the scholarship methodology is testable, and therefore if there are influences from non-Judaic sources, they will be identifiable.

Yes, this does show a possible interpretation of a marriage option for the woman, but it bases it on another case in which we presume the marriage was optional, but we don't really know.

Not true; we do know. The text on question (which I abbreviated slightly) goes as follows (Deuteronomy 24:2):

And she leaves his (bachelor # 1) house, and she goes and she is to another man.

It's extremely clear from the case that the marriage is optional. And that's beside the point from plenty of Judaic text which makes it clear that the woman (as long as she's an adult; a father does have the right to marry off a minor daughter against her will) has the right to refuse a marriage.

However, in many cultures marriage in general was/is not an option for women,

Not in Judaism. Why are you trying to compare apples and oranges?

Your argument relies, I think, on some assumptions:

It is not an assumption.

So, the marriage to bachelor #2 is clearly in the past, and while she may well have been willing to go along with it, there's no reason to have included that meaning in a sentence merely relating the fact that it occurred.

The text of the Torah is extremely precise, and does not waste words. It is capable of making one thing understood while dealing with a different subject.

However...

I must admit that I was a bit off in relating my understanding of the Talmudic learning of that verse (in the rape case). I looked it up over the weekend (I do this from work, where I don't have a Talmud handy), and it says that the fact that the woman has a choice is learned from the use of the word "Tihyeh" (this part I got right). Not due to a comparison with the divorce/remarriage case, but because the form of the verb is "third-person female active", in other words, "She will (actively) be to him...". If it meant against her will (and this is now directly from the Talmud, not my own speculation, as it was earlier), it would have said "and he will take her for a wife", i.e., active on the part of the man.

Here's a fair question: Do most talmudic scholars agree on this interpretation (including most non-literalists)?

I think you'll have to give me an example of a "non-literalist" Talmudic scholar. The point I had been trying to bring out is that everything in the Torah is interpreted by the Talmudic scholars with a careful eye toward the text, and things that seem nonsensical in a translated text but which you are later told meant something sensible, it is not sensible because the text was interpreted non-literally, but because it was interpreted literally...in the original Hebrew.

------------------
Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

06-17-1999, 06:01 PM
It's not a conflict of interest...it's a single interest.

It's a conflict of interest to be explicitly committed to X and to also attempt to dispassionately attempt find out if X is true. You can't do both. You can't believe a book is absolute truth and also attempt a dispassionate translation of it. This is because if the real meaning of the text is untrue (because the author was wrong) you are likely to interpret it inaccurately, to find an interpretation that is true. This then becomes the "precise" translation.

Now if the original Hebrew text is so crystal-clear in meaning, why did the various translators of the old testament get it so wrong? Did they not know what they were doing?

Your belief that it is so precise in meaning should by now have led to a clear English translation that is pretty much agreed to by Old Testament scholars in all religions. Yet I haven't heard of one. What I have heard of is nearly all Judeo-Christian religions claiming that it's precise (as you have) but that their particular interpretation is the "precise" one.

Also, you say talmudic scholars are literalists; OK, then what I mean is, do most scholars of the Hebrew Old Testament find it to be literally true? I could be wrong, but I don't believe most Jews today are literalists, at least in America. This suggests that their Rabbis aren't literalists either. Why not?

Also, when you say the word "Tihyeh" is third-person female active, is that because the conjugation is the same as in other third-person female active verbs or because it's in this passage (which has been interpreted to have this meaning), which would be circular reasoning! Just checking :)

06-18-1999, 08:34 AM
It's a conflict of interest to be explicitly committed to X and to also attempt to dispassionately attempt find out if X is true. You can't do both. You can't believe a book is absolute truth and also attempt a dispassionate translation of it.

Who's talking about translating it? The Talmudic scholars worked from the original Hebrew. They were attempting to understand the meaning of it because they (and Orthodox Jews today, such as myself, so I should really say "we" here) believe it to be G-d's word and therefore feel that the best way to achieve Heaven is to follow it as precisely as possible. Therefore, when there is ambiguity in the meaning of something, they strove dispassionately to find out which is the true explanation, because they felt that only by following the true explanation (whichever it might end up being) would they be obeying the words of G-d.

Now if the original Hebrew text is so crystal-clear in meaning, why did the various translators of the old testament get it so wrong? Did they not know what they were doing?

Because there is no way to translate anything without losing some portion of the meaning. And modern English translations in use by Christians are generally derived not from the original Hebrew, but from a Greek translation of the original Hebrew, or possibly even one or two more steps further removed (e.g., Greek to Latin, Latin to English). If you compare an English Christian Bible to a Jewish translated Bible (look specifically for one that contains both the Hebrew and English text side-by-side), you will notice many subtle (and some not-so-subtle differences).

Your belief that it is so precise in meaning should by now have led to a clear English translation that is pretty much agreed to by Old Testament scholars in all religions. Yet I haven't heard of one. What I have heard of is nearly all Judeo-Christian religions claiming that it's precise (as you have) but that their particular interpretation is the "precise" one.

Not even a Christian will deny that the Jewish Hebrew text is the original. However, Christian commentaries over the centuries (most of whom worked from translations) work from a Christological point of view, which is at great variance with the Judaic one.

Also, you say talmudic scholars are literalists; OK, then what I mean is, do most scholars of the Hebrew Old Testament find it to be literally true? I could be wrong, but I don't believe most Jews today are literalists, at least in America. This suggests that their Rabbis aren't literalists either. Why not?

Orthodox Rabbis and Jews, in America and elsewhere, do believe so. Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, etc. Rabbis and Jews (none of which existed until approximately two centuries ago) do not believe the Torah is the literal word of G-d and reject its word when it conflicts with their modern liberal sensibilities. And with their rejection of the Torah comes a rejection of the Talmud as well.

Also, when you say the word "Tihyeh" is third-person female active, is that because the conjugation is the same as in other third-person female active verbs or because it's in this passage (which has been interpreted to have this meaning), which would be circular reasoning! Just checking

Just the well-known rules of Hebrew grammar. I found a pretty decent web site describing Hebrew verb constructions at http://ezra.mts.jhu.edu/~rabbiars/jewish-education/ , but it only has them for past and present tense, whereas "Tihyeh" is future tense.

------------------
Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

06-18-1999, 09:42 AM
Who's talking about translating it? The Talmudic scholars worked from the original Hebrew. They were attempting to understand the meaning of it because they (and Orthodox Jews today, such as myself, so I should really say "we" here) believe it to be G-d's word and therefore feel that the best way to achieve Heaven is to follow it as
precisely as possible. Therefore, when there is ambiguity in the meaning of something, they strove dispassionately to find out which is the true explanation, because they felt that only by following the true explanation (whichever it might end up being) would they be obeying the words of G-d.


But if the true meaning of the text is, in fact, not inspired (if it's really just another artifact of human religious culture) then there will be motivation to "interpret-out" obviously untrue or destructive statements.

Here's an example: If it says "1+1=3" in the text, consider two interpreting scholars, one literalist, one reformed:

Possible literalist interpretations:

> It's a reference to the family.

> 1+1 (plus another 1 not mentioned, of course) does in fact = 3

> In those days ones were bigger.

> The Lord made 1+1=3! It's a miracle!

Reformed interpretation:

> 1+1=3. (an error)

If the book is not inspired, then interpreters who believe it is must make errors to maintain their belief. The precision you speak of is only possible if the book is in fact inspired, which you believe through faith.

But clearly I don't believe it is inspired, so to inform me that the literalist interpretation is in some objective way precise is misleading. It's only a precise interpretation if it is the inspired Word.

(our server is going down; I'll write more later!)

06-18-1999, 10:15 AM
If we are going to dicuss "literal" translations, then I believe that it is very important to explain what we mean by "literal".

Try this verse, for example. Just for demonstration purposes, I'll give the King James translation. Genesis 4:21: "And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ."

I don't know of any great theological implications of this verse, although linguists can argue about whether "harp" and "organ" accurately connote the musical instruments mentioned in the original Hebrew. But those are not the words I want to focus on.

Rather I want to focus on the word "father" as it appears here, which is a translation of the Hebrew word "av". Just about anyone with the even most rudimentary knowledge of Hebrew will confirm that the the Hebrew word "av" does have pretty much exactly the exact same meaning as the English word "father".

But then how can we understand the "literal" meaning of this verse? Jubal was not the father of today's musicians, nor even their ancestors: Jubal's descendants all died in the Flood.

I was taught, and I think it makes a great deal of sense, that Jubal was either the inventor of these instruments, or had acheived such progress in them that he is *considered* the inventor, in a manner similar to calling Aristotle (or perhaps some other Greek?) the "father" of mathematics. Does this go against the idea of reading the Bible literally? I think not. To say that Jubal invented the harp is not an interpretation of the word "av". It is a quite literal understanding. It's just a bit poetic, that's all.

I was taught to consider the Torah like a song or poetry. In poetry, the literal meaning is often found not in the words, but between the lines. I will repeat: In poetry, the literal intended meaning of the author will often be misunderstood if the words are read as prose, but can be properly understood only if sung as poetry.

I do realize that the "between the lines" meaning can be disagreed upon, and that is why some people like to be able to point to the plain black-and-white obvious meaning of the words. My point is that it can be an error to say that the simple meaning is the true meaning. And I think my example of "father" here is a great example of this. "Father" here might mean "inventor", and it might mean "greatest genius", or perhaps something else, but it most definitely does NOT mean "genetic ancestor, one generation back".

06-18-1999, 10:43 AM
Regarding AxelWheeler's example of "1+1=3".

In many cases you are right. There is a difficulty with the text, and the literalists come up with an explanation which seems reasonable to them, but which others consider to be ridiculously far-fetched. Personally, I am not bothered by that reality, because as long as there is an explanation somehow, which does seem reasonable to me, then the entire system is internally consistent, and I am satisfied. This is part of God's plan to give people the option to believe, rather than forcing it on people.

But there are other cases, where I feel the shoe is on the other foot. There are many critics who find apparent inconsistencies, contradictions, and/or outright falsehoods, and then they exclaim, "Aha! Look what I found! This is absurd! How can such a thing be written by God?"

(One such example many point to is the very different versions of Creation given in the first chapter of Genesis, vs. the second chapter. Another example is your "1+1=3".)

Let me ask those people: Why do you merely doubt that it was written by God? You should also doubt that it was written by man!!!

These books have been around for thousands of years. What kind of idiots do you think were reading them? Where does anyone get the gall to think that they were the first to notice such things? I say that in many cases, the literalist interpretation was easily understood by the readership, and the
motivation to "interpret-out" obviously untrue or destructive statements can be the preferred way of understanding the text.

06-18-1999, 11:33 AM
Axel Wheeler:

Sure, I'll admit that the Talmudic scholars were coming from the point of view that the Bible is divinely inspired. And yes, if they found what appeared to be contradictions or incorrect statements, they looked for a way to explain it so that the text was right.

In one of Cecil's columns, there's a letter which is not too far off of your "1+1=3" example. It points out that in Kings, it describes a circular object (a vat or tub of some sort), 10 cubits in diameter and says it had a 30-cubit circumference, which would lead to a calculation of pi being 3, which was even then known to be incorrect. A Talmudic scholar named Nehemia wrote down the accepted interpretation of that verse: the 10-foot diameter is from outer edge to outer edge, and the 30-foot circumference is around the inner edge of the tub.

A plausible explanation, and undoubtedly inspired by an unwillingness to accept that the text is patently wrong.

But that's not the sort of thing we were talking about. What we were talking about was a law that G-d said - "She (a rape victim) will be to him (the rapist) for a wife." Now they're coming from the perspective of true believers who wish to perform Biblical law exactly as G-d said it so as to please Him (thus ensuring a pleasant afterlife, or whatever). Whichever way it is to be interpreted (woman has option of refusal or doesn't), it is still G-d's word and must be obeyed; their only interest is in the true meaning, which will be followed by them whichever way it turns out to be.

------------------
Chaim Mattis Keller
ckeller@schicktech.com

"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

06-19-1999, 12:02 AM
Gentle Readers - This wunnerful thread was started before the inception of the Great Debates forum. As part of my "tidying up" process, I would ask that any further posts on this topic be directed into the clutches of David B (much as I loathe to send him the business;-)

I would direct you to one seemly thread, "The Great God Debate"

http://www.straightdope.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000042.html

Lotsa interesting hoopla in that one - but don't forget, you heard it here first!
-----
Nickrz
For The Straight Dope