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Esprix
11-04-2003, 01:10 PM
Can't we all just get along?

Esprix

El Cid Viscoso
11-04-2003, 01:24 PM
[David Alan Grier]

That guy stole my bit!

[/David Alan Grier]


:D

Triskadecamus
11-04-2003, 11:41 PM
Blisters on [/b]Kalhoun[/b]'s feet.

When I speak of those who "worship at the altar of Logic" it is not intended to be a literal description of an actual gathering of logicians engaging in worship. It is a metaphor. It was intended to address the tendency of some to examine every expression of religious faith for what they consider logical failings, and an absence of philosophic adherence to rules of scientific examination.

I often use logic, and find that descriptions of the world I live in are most credible when they meet the criteria of skeptical examination by falsifiable predictions, and repeatable, controlled experimentation. But I don't feel that every aspect of human experience must remain within those bounds. I certainly don't believe that every aspect of divine experience will do so.

The universe is a very diverse and extensive thing. Not every part of it can be examined with the same tools. Some parts may not be subject to examination by any means available to humans. That does not mean that the universe must be limited to the two valued limits of logical thinking, or the limits of human thought and perception. I don't expect you to accept that. I don't think it is reasonable to characterize those that do accept it as "wrong, stupid, or deluded."

Perhaps those weren't your shoes after all.

Tris

Kalhoun
11-05-2003, 09:14 AM
Tris said, "Blisters on [/b]Kalhoun[/b]'s feet"

Now that's just mean.

"When I speak of those who "worship at the altar of Logic" it is not intended to be a literal description of an actual gathering of logicians engaging in worship. It is a metaphor."

Uh. I get it. I was giving you a hard time.

The point I'm making is that fantasy and imagination are an important part of the human experience. As a skeptical agnostic, I can't know what the origins of the universe are, but the human mind can (and should) ponder the meaning of it all. But to believe one answer over the other with no proof doesn't make it so. It's OK not to know the answer. It's OK to want to know the answer. That's all I'm saying.

xenophon41
11-05-2003, 10:04 AM
Kalhoun, I think the blisters were sort of an ironic "shoe not fitting" remark...

As far as "answers"... The disjunction between answers and meaning seems to be one of those paradigmatic digressions one sees in many of the theism vs. atheism discussions.

For the honest hard atheist (or realist or agnostic or etc.), exploration of the universe is mainly (sometimes almost exclusively) about explanations and plausibility, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that approach. We certainly need solid evidence and robust theories to make sense of reality, and it's basic survival sense to greet the nonfalsifiable with skepticism. But to many honest theists (or deists or mystics, or holders of any system of faith), the answers are interesting and important but their exploration of the universe requires a component of "ultimate" reality.

IOW, although everyone seems to favor a particular metaphysic and a particular epistemology, it's the former to which the person of faith gives precedence, and the latter to which those who dispute faith-based systems give credence.



And now that I've bored you, I'll go tie my own shoes.

Kalhoun
11-05-2003, 10:18 AM
Oops! Sorry...didn't mean to be a bitch. I didn't catch that (bangs thick skull on desk).

Triskadecamus
11-05-2003, 11:13 AM
Bruises on Kalhoun's forehead. :)

Sorry for beating up on you, but you were just standing in line of fire. I certainly don't use the bible as a cosmology text, or any such misapplication, nor do I defend those who do. I just think one needs to apply the proper intellectual tool to the matter under consideration.

Tris

Kalhoun
11-05-2003, 02:22 PM
:)

Polycarp
11-06-2003, 01:42 PM
As I mentioned on the Unaboard, I've just finished reading a series of juvenile SF by David Gerrold. (Fenris, you can stop reading now; you know what's coming! ;))

And it became evident to me that, because I couch my comments in the language of Christianity, its theology and ethics, it's "obvious" to people who are upset with my approach (badchad, kalhoun, TVAA, etc.,) that I'm "playing the 'God card'" -- self-rightously asserting that I'm right and they're wrong because it's what my invisible friend with supernatural powers says you have to do.

There is something to that POV, but it is by no means what I've intended. Let's back off a few notches and review the discussion to date:

Ethics: There is a standard of generalized principles to which almost all Americans, and members of western Civilication in general, adhere. It involves social principles deemed "good" by an undefined standard of "goodness" -- things like fair play, justice tempered by mercy, kindness, generosity, agreement that there are "rights" to whch all people (should) have equal access.... These assertions are termed "humanistic"; some people say, with debatable validity, that they derive in large part from the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

My assertion is that most of what Jesus taught as ethical behavior falls precisely into this category. It is founded in a relationship with God on which we can and do disagree, but the actual playing out of the behavioral choices called for by it need not be. Which, I think, may be where badchad and I have our problem. He is seeing Jesus as formally legislating; I'm seeing him as laying down ethical principles to be followed as the circumstances demand, using one's moral judgment to do that which is "right" and "good" as conflicts between principles arise and are resolved. A rather silly-but-with-a-point Great Debate of a couple of years ago, involving a masochist with power over you and whether you would want him to be guided by the Golden Rule, illustrates the distinction here.

Metaphysics and Epistemology: It is the farthest thing from my mind to assert that I am right in my faith structure, and that therefore all you are wrong and should follow mine instead. Rather, I assert the following:

It is only reasonable to accept the metaphysics which observation and induction, reason, authority, and reliable testimony make available to you.
The problem with A is that each of us has a different standard of evidence, authority, and how to draw reasonable conclusions from them. A thoroughgoing Biblical literalist who deems the Bible the literal Word of God and therefore rejects the conclusions of cosmological physics and evolutionary biology and geology is practicing this as fully and accurately as is the "scientific atheist" who draws precisely the reverse conclusons.
Back before she became an Administrator, Gaudere[p/b] was a prolific poster in Great Debates, with particular interest in the religious debates. She outlined clearly and logically her position, and even agreed to try some of the experiments proposed by religious folks. In her shoes, with her experiences and not mine, I would have to hold to the "soft atheism" she espouses.
The fact of the matter is, however, that I have [b]my own experiences and not hers. And they have left me with a strong Christian faith -- a certitude in the God of whom Jesus taught and whom I have experienced. I fully admit that one can come up with psychological, non-supernatural explanations for my experiences -- but my contention is that Occam's Razor militates for God as the simpler explanation of the results of my experiences. I did not want the vulnerability of loving and being loved; I had built walls, a fortress deep and mighty, that none might penetrate. My beliefs were rational, and did not include personal supernatural interventions. I did not want the job of evangelical advocate for liberal Christianity, nor Christian spokesman for gay people. He had other ideas -- and I cherish the changes that were made in me to turn me into who I am and like being. But to suggest that my own psychology moved me to make them, and disguise it as an imagined experience of God, is to stretch logic beyond the breaking point in order to defend one's insistence on His nonexistence. I do know who I was, and what my hopes and fears were -- and they did not in the slightest involve becoming whom I have become.
As Triskadecamus suggests, however, there are times in which rational judgment is not enough. It is entirely possible that this person, who has up to now evinced nothing but kindness and generosity towards me, is out to trick me. But sooner or later I will have to trust someone, and this person seems to be someone who can be trusted. But taking that risk and trusting them is not trational -- it has rational elements but leaves oneself vulnerable, not a rational decision. But I will trust him (or her) anyway.
Not "playing the God card" however, does not apply to one game in which I play -- if someone claims to be following Jesus Christ as his or her Savior or Lord, IMO it is incumbent on them to be doing what it was He taught as the proper thing to do -- and not trationalize it on the basis of some other Scripture passage quoted out of context. Period. No debate; no discussion. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Not a logical inference from what Nehemiah may have said or what you think are the reasons for the negative judgment later made by the two angels who left Mamre for the Dead Sea Plain. Do unto others as He taught you to do. You claim Him; now act like it.

vanilla
11-06-2003, 09:17 PM
You are so inconsistent!










;)

Captain Amazing
11-06-2003, 09:59 PM
Originally posted by Polycarp
Not "playing the God card" however, does not apply to one game in which I play -- if someone claims to be following Jesus Christ as his or her Savior or Lord, IMO it is incumbent on them to be doing what it was He taught as the proper thing to do -- and not trationalize it on the basis of some other Scripture passage quoted out of context. Period. No debate; no discussion. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Not a logical inference from what Nehemiah may have said or what you think are the reasons for the negative judgment later made by the two angels who left Mamre for the Dead Sea Plain. Do unto others as He taught you to do. You claim Him; now act like it.[/list]

But here's where your argument falls down, I think. Because really what it seems to me you're saying is, "Do unto others as I think He taught you to do". Throughout history, and even today, people have used the bible, and even the words of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels, to support all sorts of "bad" things, from slavery, to genocide, to forced conversion, to religious persecution, to gay bashing. Now, it's possible some of these people are just using Jesus and the bible as a rationalization, but it strains credibility to assume they all were. Undoubtedly, at least some of the people who did and do these things believe that they are living according to the way God and Jesus want them to live.

And just like you've had your own experiences to convince you that God is loving and that Jesus's message was one of fair-play, justice tempered by mercy, etc., and that Gaudere has had her own experiences that led her to soft atheism, these people have had experiences to convince them that Jesus is ok with or even wants them to persecute people of a different faith, or deny rights to gay people, or do all sorts of terrible things. Their experiences lead them to those beliefs just as your experiences lead you to yours.

Like Lincoln said in his second inaugural, about both the Union and Confederacy:

Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other.

If the validity of your beliefs are due to the experiences leading you to them, then don't those people who believe that Jesus's message condones intolerance because their experiences have led them to that, have beliefs of equal validity?

The difference, of course, is that your beliefs are much kinder, much more humane, and much more tolerable from a sense of basic decency than theirs, and that is an important difference, and that, I think, is why you are so well liked and respected, both on this board and elsewhere. I don't want to equivocate too far, and I admit, I would much rather live in a world ruled by your sense of ethics than one ruled by Jerry Fallwell's.

However, what I think is a weakness of yours, and the weakness of liberal Christianity in general, is what Bruce Bawer terms, "the inability to recognize evil". There is a need, I think, for Christians, especially those Christians who deliver a message of God's univeral love, to recognize that Christianity is two sided...and that, just as there is an authentic Christian message of love and brotherhood, there exists another, equally authentic, Christian message of hatred and intolerance. It exists in Christianity, and is derived from Christian teachings, and the message of intolerance has as good a pedigree as the message of tolerance.

Captain Amazing
11-06-2003, 10:05 PM
Originally posted by Polycarp
Not "playing the God card" however, does not apply to one game in which I play -- if someone claims to be following Jesus Christ as his or her Savior or Lord, IMO it is incumbent on them to be doing what it was He taught as the proper thing to do -- and not trationalize it on the basis of some other Scripture passage quoted out of context. Period. No debate; no discussion. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Not a logical inference from what Nehemiah may have said or what you think are the reasons for the negative judgment later made by the two angels who left Mamre for the Dead Sea Plain. Do unto others as He taught you to do. You claim Him; now act like it.[/list]

But here's where your argument falls down, I think. Because really what it seems to me you're saying is, "Do unto others as I think He taught you to do". Throughout history, and even today, people have used the bible, and even the words of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels, to support all sorts of "bad" things, from slavery, to genocide, to forced conversion, to religious persecution, to gay bashing. Now, it's possible some of these people are just using Jesus and the bible as a rationalization, but it strains credibility to assume they all were. Undoubtedly, at least some of the people who did and do these things believe that they are living according to the way God and Jesus want them to live.

And just like you've had your own experiences to convince you that God is loving and that Jesus's message was one of fair-play, justice tempered by mercy, etc., and that Gaudere has had her own experiences that led her to soft atheism, these people have had experiences to convince them that Jesus is ok with or even wants them to persecute people of a different faith, or deny rights to gay people, or do all sorts of terrible things. Their experiences lead them to those beliefs just as your experiences lead you to yours.

Like Lincoln said in his second inaugural, about both the Union and Confederacy:

Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other.

If the validity of your beliefs are due to the experiences leading you to them, then don't those people who believe that Jesus's message condones intolerance because their experiences have led them to that, have beliefs of equal validity?

The difference, of course, is that your beliefs are much kinder, much more humane, and much more tolerable from a sense of basic decency than theirs, and that is an important difference, and that, I think, is why you are so well liked and respected, both on this board and elsewhere. I don't want to equivocate too far, and I admit, I would much rather live in a world ruled by your sense of ethics than one ruled by Jerry Fallwell's.

However, what I think is a weakness of yours, and the weakness of liberal Christianity in general, is what Bruce Bawer terms, "the inability to recognize evil". There is a need, I think, for Christians, especially those Christians who deliver a message of God's univeral love, to recognize that Christianity is two sided...and that, just as there is an authentic Christian message of love and brotherhood, there exists another, equally authentic, Christian message of hatred and intolerance. It exists in Christianity, and is derived from Christian teachings, and the message of intolerance has as good a pedigree as the message of tolerance.

Siege
11-07-2003, 06:44 AM
Originally posted by Captain Amazing
There is a need, I think, for Christians, especially those Christians who deliver a message of God's univeral love, to recognize that Christianity is two sided...and that, just as there is an authentic Christian message of love and brotherhood, there exists another, equally authentic, Christian message of hatred and intolerance. It exists in Christianity, and is derived from Christian teachings, and the message of intolerance has as good a pedigree as the message of tolerance.[/quote]

Speaking only for myself, I am acutely aware of that evil and I do fight it. Come on, I'm the person who was furious because other kids made my best friend cry in church! I have publicly chastised Christians for what I perceive as cruelty, just as I've publicly chastised non-Christians, and I will continue to do so. I am afraid that my initial reaction to someone who openly declares himself to be a Christian is to expect him to judge me and do so negatively.

I am aware that those who appear to espouse a "Christian message of hatred and intolerance" believe their beliefs have a better pedigree than mine and that their path is the correct path, often the only correct path. I'm also aware that the Pharisees believed the same thing in the time of Christ, at least according to the Gospel both sides acknowledge. I'm also aware that 75 years ago, traditional Christianity embraced hardcore anti-Semitism and 150 years ago, some Christians used the Bible to support slavery.

I freely admit my faith looks like a house of cards to an Atheist, so fragilely and senselessly built that a strong wind could reduce it to dust and blow it away. It doesn't make sense and it either transcends logic or is illogical, depending on who you're talking to. It works well for me, and I do not expect it to do so for anyone else, not with the various quirks I have. It's also provided the odd, tangible result, including money which kept me afloat in the form of a gift from my church because I was struggling.

I went to church last night, to sing in the choir of the new church I've joined and, hopefully, make a new friends. I could have gone to a bar or a talk on an interesting subject last night with the same intent. I'm not suited to bars -- it always seem like the women there are always at least 10 years younger, 20 IQ points dumber, and 40 pounds younger, and I'm not what the guys in bars are looking for! A talk might work, but, if nothing else comes of taking up with the choir, at least in about 5 weeks time I'll be singing Handel's Messiah with about 50 other people and an orchestra surrounded by glorious music. I could do worse and have done so.

Faith fills a gap in my life logic does not, especially since I'm now an administrative assistant, not a programmer, and I swear sometimes logic can be a hindrance in dealing with my current boss! ;) Logic tells me I've got a great many years of lonely struggle ahead of me; there's no reason to believe I will beat the odds. Faith, well, that tells me something different. It will never be enough for some people around here, and I can see why because their experience differs from mine. I will not refute my faith, though, and I will continue to fight evil any way I can. That, too, is part of my faith and my obligation.

Respectfully,
CJ

Siege
11-07-2003, 06:46 AM
Logic does, however, tell me Preview Reply is my friend! :rolleyes:

Desmostylus
11-07-2003, 07:11 AM
Good post, CJ.

You should come over to my place for a drink, but I fear the distance may be a bit of a barrier.

Personally, I have no probs interpreting the 10 commandments as simply the underlying basis of our current legal framework (it's the Mosaic law, it's why murder and theft are crimes, etc.), whilst recognising that that framework changes over time - e.g. adultery isn't a crime any more.

For me, the 2 commandments are more useful as guiding principles. (And I could probably get by just as well with only one of those two commandments).

The point of my post:

I don't think that "there exists another, equally authentic, Christian message of hatred and intolerance."

It's fundamentally inconsistent with the 2 commandments. :)

godzillatemple
11-07-2003, 07:36 AM
Well, I for one am just glad that after 2000 years somebody has finally figured out what Jesus actually said and what he really meant. I'll admit I'm a bit surprised at God for letting the entire world misinterpret things for so long, but better late than never, eh?

The fact that, as Truth Seeker pointed out earlier, this "correct intepretation" just happens to correspond with Western liberalism is, of course, just a meaningless coincidence. Why should we begrudge Poly his extreme good fortune of discovering, through much research and analysis, that the Bible actually teaches exactly what he already believed in the first place? Yay, Poly! I'm equally sure that had Poly discovered that Jesus really did comdemn divorce (or the marrying of a divorced woman), or that Jesus really did talk about sinners being cast into a lake of fire, or that God really did condemn homosexuality, etc., that he would have changed his beliefs accordingly. Of course, that would have made Poly a much less moral person, so it's a darn good thing no such discoveries were forthcoming.

Barry

Fenris
11-07-2003, 07:39 AM
Y'know, young padwan, sarcasm is a powerful weapon in the hands of an intelligent person.

Luckily coming from you, we have nothing to fear.

Yay, Godzillatemple.

godzillatemple
11-07-2003, 07:46 AM
Damn, I keep forgetting this is the pit.

Errr... same to you, jerkwad?

TVAA
11-07-2003, 08:15 AM
So... Poly should have gone instead with some earlier interpretation of Christ's teachings that just happened to coincide with general morality at the time?

C'mon, we all know that Polycarp's belief is irrational and wrong. That's not what this Pitting is supposed to be about, yes?

xenophon41
11-07-2003, 08:43 AM
:: peeks in ::

Wow, this thing's still going?!

How much more clearly could Poly have put things, I wonder? Never mind --- rhetorical question.

But being an incurable blowhard, and having absolutely no shame, I'll add a few far less eloquent words in response to the (I thought dwindling) donnybrook.

First, Captain Amazing, for Polycarp's argument to "fall down" it must first have actually been an argument; amazingly ( ;) heh, pun) it was not. Rather, it appears to have been a frank attempt at self-explanation for the benefit of badchad and friends. A presentation of Poly's modus vivendi rather than any kind of recommended modus operandi for others, and certainly not in any way the comprehensive apologia demanded by the OP.



godzillatemple: Here's a nice unambiguous pronouncement from one of the 20th Century's most revered moral leaders:

Better far than cowardice is killing and being killed in battle.
That was said about 80 years ago by Mohandas K. Gandhi. Clearly, if one knows absolutely nothing about the Mahatma, this is an endorsement of violence as an act of conscience. Even when one examines the works of Gandhi more broadly, one finds a similar sentiment expressed and elaborated repeatedly. Clearly Gandhi believed that the abandonment by a person of his moral precepts in order to avoid physical or other types of disadvantage is more reprehensible than violence against others.

If one were to separate this sentiment from the body of the Mahatmaís teachings, one could make the strong case that Gandhi was uncondemning of the exertion of force over others in the service of oneís conscience; say, for example the bombing of an abortion clinic by a strong believer in fetal rights, or the physical attack of a white supremacist by a person of color.

However, one could in turn argue that in the context of Gandhiís life works, and even in the limited context of the books in which these statements appear, it is a more valid conclusion that Gandhiís statements regarding cowardice and killing are to be applied only to oneís understanding of ahimsa and only to the extent that one considers the respective degrees of importance between violence done to others and violence done to truth and conscience. In context, this argument would conclude, Gandhiís disdain for physical cowardice only endorses as ethical the unavoidable use of violence as a limited last resort, and not as a remedial action.

Would you accuse me of cherrypicking Gandhiís writings to support my preconceived ethical sensibilities were I to make that contextual argument?


TVAA: Irrational =/= Wrong Unfalsifiability does not make a true thing any less true.

godzillatemple
11-07-2003, 08:51 AM
xenophon41: One critical flaw in your analogy is that Ghandi never claimed to be more than a man, capable of error and changing his mind over time. Jesus, however, is supposed to have been divine, infallible, and unchangeable in his words and beliefs.

Truth be told, however, I simply don't know enough (read "none at all") about what Ghandi did or did not say to give an informed response to your question. You know what they say about a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent, and in this case I will freely admit to not being up to the challenge.

Barry

xenophon41
11-07-2003, 09:21 AM
godzillatemple, I'm afraid I don't see that difference as a flaw. You are criticizing the contextual approach to understanding the instructions and teachings of Christ, not his divinity. While I do think I understand your point that Poly's interpretation is colored by his subjective experience (and Tris illustrated why this is not only unsurprising but inevitable), I totally disagree that an appreciation of Christ's divinity in any way invalidates the comparison of my analytical approach to understanding Gandhi and Poly's analytical approach to understanding Christ.*

Your charge against Poly, as I understand it, is that his modern liberal ethos drives his interpretive exercises, rather than the reverse. As I said before, you've failed to substantiate this charge. Further, there's an unstated assumption in your charge that I don't think is necessarily valid: what makes you believe "Western liberalism" is unconnected etiologically with Christian beliefs, rather than one of many divergent but consequential schools of thought succeeding from centuries of theological, cultural and philosophical religious influence?

xenophon41
11-07-2003, 09:28 AM
Forgot the footnote:


*In the interest of full disclosure, I must not shy away from the realization that an interpretation of Christ's words, may also be guided by recognition. One simply looks for the voice one recognizes, having "heard" it in one's "heart "already. This is necessarily a non-logical approach which, while not incompatible with contextual analysis, is itself nonanalytical and indefensible in terms of reason. However, where a contextual analysis stands on its own, the prejudicial conclusion of the heart does not invalidate the reasoned conclusion of the mind.

godzillatemple
11-07-2003, 09:37 AM
xenophon: My point is that with regard to the writings of Ghandi, the person "cherry picking" is free to discard parts they don't agree with on the theory that Ghandi may have misspoke or changed his mind over time. In other words, it's perfectly valid to state that Ghandi was, in fact, inconsistent and there is therefore no need to try to warp his words in order to find consistency.

One who claims to believe in the divinity and infallibility of Christ, however, does not have that luxury and must therefore either agree that Jesus taught things that conflict with one's own moral sense or try to interpret the Bible so as to have it fit one's sense of morality.

You are correct, however, that I have failed to substantiate my charge. That doesn't make it false, however. It's a good thing this is the Pit and not a court of law, eh? Should I ask Poly whether he held his views regarding divorce, homosexuality, etc. before or after he analyzed the Bible so thoroughly? Would I have any way of knowing whether his answers were honest or not? Maybe if he swears on a Bible....

Barry

Homebrew
11-07-2003, 09:56 AM
One who claims to believe in the divinity and infallibility of Christ, however, does not have that luxury and must therefore either agree that Jesus taught things that conflict with one's own moral sense or try to interpret the Bible so as to have it fit one's sense of morality.
Belief in the infallibility of Christ doesnt require a belief in the infallibility of the Bible. Christ, to the believer, exists outside and independent of the Bible. To the liberal Christian, the Bible is often believed to be an account of Christ written by fallible men. It points to Christ, but isn't Christ himself.

TVAA
11-07-2003, 10:00 AM
Originally posted by xenophon41
TVAA: Irrational =/= Wrong Unfalsifiability does not make a true thing any less true. It does make it an invalid conclusion. Irrational == Invalid Reasoning == Invalid Position

xenophon41
11-07-2003, 10:42 AM
godzillatemple:

My point is that with regard to the writings of Ghandi, the person "cherry picking" is free to discard parts they don't agree with on the theory that Ghandi may have misspoke or changed his mind over time. In other words, it's perfectly valid to state that Ghandi was, in fact, inconsistent and there is therefore no need to try to warp his words in order to find consistency.

One who claims to believe in the divinity and infallibility of Christ, however, does not have that luxury and must therefore either agree that Jesus taught things that conflict with one's own moral sense or try to interpret the Bible so as to have it fit one's sense of morality.
Homebrew already answered this, but let me just add a couple of things.

One, I think you'll find few liberal Christians who wont' recognize the inconsistencies between books of the New Testament, but you'll certainly find Biblical literalists and hard-nosed atheists alike who will deny inconsistencies between the literal modern meaning of a biblical verse and either its idiomatic or contextual meaning(s).

Two, the literal vs. metaphorical argument must logically favor the metaphorical stance when interpreting lessons from Christ when one takes into account his rabbinical prediliection to deliver wisdom through parable and allegory. Believing Christ is infallible doesn't require one to believe him to be humorless and unsubtle!

xenophon41
11-07-2003, 10:51 AM
Upon reading what I just posted, I see it makes little sense in terms of this argument. Sorry! I'll try and focus in...

If one accepts this statement: The literal, isolated meanings of many of Gandhi's sayings are often [b]inconsistent[/i] with the intended meaning, which must be understood in terms of context and semantics. then one must also accept the same statement as applied to the sayings of Christ.

Kalhoun
11-07-2003, 11:46 AM
Captain Amazing's post was excellent. And it bolsters Godzilla's take that religious folks (except for those that follow the literal word) really do create their own version of their religion to suit their own preference.

TVAA
11-07-2003, 11:58 AM
Originally posted by Siege
Speaking only for myself, I am acutely aware of that evil and I do fight it. Come on, I'm the person who was furious because other kids made my best friend cry in church! You've done nothing but prove his point -- what makes you think that you can justifiably identity the teasing of your friend with evil?

Triskadecamus
11-07-2003, 01:33 PM
It is very hard to explain the nature of loving and serving the Lord Jesus to someone who thinks he is dead.

Tris

xenophon41
11-07-2003, 01:47 PM
Speaking subjectively...

zap!



Thanks for that, Triskadecamus.

Kalhoun
11-07-2003, 02:03 PM
Tris, what makes you think he isn't?

Polycarp
11-07-2003, 02:24 PM
Originally posted by TVAA
You've done nothing but prove his point -- what makes you think that you can justifiably identity the teasing of your friend with evil? [/B]

How would you categorize it? Does it in any way resemble doing as you would be done unto? Does it lend itself to social integration? Is it loving one's neighbor as oneself? Does it match any definition of good that more than two people on this board will agree on?

Siege, myself, the gay contingent here to a man (or woman), at least a dozen long-time regulars, all have recounted instances opf juvenile social ostracism and the pain caused by it.

Somebody commented up above that I don't give enough credence to evil. Maybe it's time to start. And to start with condemning the attempt to excuse antisocial mob behavior by refusing to see the evil in it.

Truth Seeker
11-07-2003, 02:40 PM
Two questions.

First, by way of clarification, am I correct in concluding from your latest post that you cannot assert that practices founded on, say, Hinduism or Islam are "wrong?"

Second, this leaves open a lot of territory.

Not "playing the God card" however, does not apply to one game in which I play -- if someone claims to be following Jesus Christ as his or her Savior or Lord, IMO it is incumbent on them to be doing what it was He taught as the proper thing to do -- and not trationalize it on the basis of some other Scripture passage quoted out of context. Period. No debate; no discussion. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Not a logical inference from what Nehemiah may have said or what you think are the reasons for the negative judgment later made by the two angels who left Mamre for the Dead Sea Plain. Do unto others as He taught you to do. You claim Him; now act like it.
Based on the teaching of Jesus, isn't it a correct position to "Hate the sin but love the sinner?" Take divorce and re-marriage (since it's already been discussed at length). Isn't it consistent -- indeed, even more consistent than your position -- to have love and concern for those who commit adultery while refusing to aid and abet them in doing so? In other words, shouldn't a church refuse to sanction divorce and re-marriage based on the teachings of Jesus even though it continues to minister to those who do divorce and re-marry civily?

Polycarp
11-07-2003, 03:37 PM
Originally posted by Truth Seeker
[B]Two questions.

First, by way of clarification, am I correct in concluding from your latest post that you cannot assert that practices founded on, say, Hinduism or Islam are "wrong?"

Of course I can assert that they're "wrong" -- the former practice, prevalent among several Hindu groups, of insisting that a recent widow immolate herself on her late husband's funeral pyre, is flat out wrong.

If, however, you're asking me if my belief system demands that I reject non-Christian beliefs (with Judaism getting a partial free pass), with the implication that it sounds like it doesn't, then you're entirely right. Truth is where you find it; every belief system has elements of truth mixed in with elements of myth, falsehood, erroneous conclusion, and general garbage. The fundamental principle of Islam, its two-clause creed, begins by rejecting the polytheism of pre-Islamic Mecca and substituting for it the belief that the one real God is the God of Abraham. And any Christian must admit that that far, Mohammed was right.

This is by no means heterodox -- C.S. Lewis, in one of his books, quotes Church Fathers as affirming this position, and provides an appendix of "the Tao" -- the Way to live a proper life as understood by religious leaders across a variety of faiths, all of them commensurate with Christian belief.

Based on the teaching of Jesus, isn't it a correct position to "Hate the sin but love the sinner?" Take divorce and re-marriage (since it's already been discussed at length). Isn't it consistent -- indeed, even more consistent than your position -- to have love and concern for those who commit adultery while refusing to aid and abet them in doing so? In other words, shouldn't a church refuse to sanction divorce and re-marriage based on the teachings of Jesus even though it continues to minister to those who do divorce and re-marry civilly?

Well, first point is that whether that position is correct or not, nobody does it -- or at least does a good job of showing it, whatever their motives may be. Hence, I regard questions based on that principle as being about as valuable as "How can I discover if my unicorn is suffering from trace mineral deficiencies?"

Second, I am dead-set opposed to legalism -- the enforcing of explicit rules in a one-size-fits-all manner -- and my reason for this is that it is contrary to the principles Jesus taught for how to make moral judgments. (Just in case nobody has picked up on the latter yet, I'd summarize it as "Judge yourself according to these ideals -- if you fall short, repent and trust God, and keep on trying; do not judge others.")

Perhaps Barb's and my closest friend in junior college was a woman who married an divorced Army veteran. It was her first marriage, of course -- but his second. And the church she'd been raised in excommunicated her for marrying a divorced man. And I don't even want to bring up the Gene Robinson affair -- except to comment that nobody in the entire Episcopal Chrch (myself included) seems to be paying any attention to Jesus's teachings.

I will leave the hating of sin to God -- He's better equipped than I to make the distinction between sin and sinner, and concentrate on what He affirmatively commanded me to do -- love the sinner. Starting with myself.

Kalhoun
11-07-2003, 05:00 PM
Poly said, "Of course I can assert that they're "wrong" -- the former practice, prevalent among several Hindu groups, of insisting that a recent widow immolate herself on her late husband's funeral pyre, is flat out wrong."

Yeah, but it isn't wrong to them. Weird as it may seem to us. And don't the women do this of their own volition?

Truth Seeker
11-07-2003, 06:25 PM
Putting aside whether suttee is widely practiced and whether it is a cultural or religious practice, let's assume that for Hindus, it is a divinely ordained religious practice.

There are theories of justice which do not depend on received religious commandments, but that's not really what we are talking about. Polycarp, you can argue such a practice is wrong, but you cannot argue it is wrong, based on religious principles.

You've alread admitted the subjectivism of your religious beliefs. As you say, it's right for you based on your experiences but someone else will may -- correctly based on his or her life experiences -- come to different results.

What do you make of this?

The best-known case of suttee in modern times involved the 1987 suicide (or murder) of 18-year-old Roop Kanwar. Educated, middle-class, devoutly religious, Kanwar had been married for just eight months when her husband died, apparently from a burst appendix. The following day, neighbors told Western reporters, she put on jewels and her wedding sari, climbed her husband's funeral pyre, cradled his head on her lap, then commanded that the fire be lit. By the time the cops arrived she and her husband had been reduced to ashes. About three dozen bystanders were arrested and charged in the death, but no eyewitnesses would testify, and after a nine-year legal battle the accused were exonerated. Much of the world was outraged, but some traditionalists venerate Roop as, literally, a deity--the model Hindu woman.

Were the law against suttee repealed, more women would probably join their husbands on the pyre. In 1997 the police were all that prevented another Indian woman from incinerating herself. To hear some Hindu fundamentalists talk, the prohibition against suttee violates a basic civil right.

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/020405.html

I will leave the hating of sin to God -- He's better equipped than I to make the distinction between sin and sinner, and concentrate on what He affirmatively commanded me to do -- love the sinner.
But that's not the issue. The issue is whether you or a church should aid and abet something that, on its face, Jesus fairly explicitly taught was a sin even though taking a stand is unpopular and inconvenient. You would not, presumably, lend a woman a match so she could commit suttee even if she really wanted one. Why wouldn't the same argument apply, from a religious perspective, to divorce and re-marriage?

I hasten to add, once again, that I haven't got an axe to grind here, nor do I intend to pick on you. But I'm fascinated by what some people call "Religion lite" ("All the love but only half the sin!") As convenient as it would be, I'm dubious that the sum total of the new testament can be condensed to "It's all good!"

Truth Seeker
11-07-2003, 06:30 PM
Putting aside whether suttee is widely practiced and whether it is a cultural or religious practice, let's assume that for Hindus, it is a divinely ordained religious practice.

There are theories of justice which do not depend on received religious commandments, but that's not really what we are talking about. Polycarp, you can argue such a practice is wrong, but you cannot argue it is wrong, based on religious principles.

You've alread admitted the subjectivism of your religious beliefs. As you say, it's right for you based on your experiences but someone else will may -- correctly based on his or her life experiences -- come to different results.

What do you make of this?

The best-known case of suttee in modern times involved the 1987 suicide (or murder) of 18-year-old Roop Kanwar. Educated, middle-class, devoutly religious, Kanwar had been married for just eight months when her husband died, apparently from a burst appendix. The following day, neighbors told Western reporters, she put on jewels and her wedding sari, climbed her husband's funeral pyre, cradled his head on her lap, then commanded that the fire be lit. By the time the cops arrived she and her husband had been reduced to ashes. About three dozen bystanders were arrested and charged in the death, but no eyewitnesses would testify, and after a nine-year legal battle the accused were exonerated. Much of the world was outraged, but some traditionalists venerate Roop as, literally, a deity--the model Hindu woman.

Were the law against suttee repealed, more women would probably join their husbands on the pyre. In 1997 the police were all that prevented another Indian woman from incinerating herself. To hear some Hindu fundamentalists talk, the prohibition against suttee violates a basic civil right.

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/020405.html

I will leave the hating of sin to God -- He's better equipped than I to make the distinction between sin and sinner, and concentrate on what He affirmatively commanded me to do -- love the sinner.
But that's not the issue. The issue is whether you or a church should aid and abet something that, on its face, Jesus fairly explicitly taught was a sin even though taking a stand is unpopular and inconvenient. You would not, presumably, lend a woman a match so she could commit suttee even if she really wanted one. Why wouldn't the same argument apply, from a religious perspective, to divorce and re-marriage?

I hasten to add, once again, that I haven't got an axe to grind here, nor do I intend to pick on you. But I'm fascinated by what some people call "Religion lite" ("All the love but only half the sin!") As convenient as it would be, I'm dubious that the sum total of the new testament can be condensed to "It's all good!"

Triskadecamus
11-08-2003, 11:03 PM
Originally posted by Kalhoun:Tris, what makes you think he isn't? Miracles. Three of them, in my particular case. They won't convince you, but then, they were my miracles so they were not supposed to convince you. If I am going to convince you, I have to do it by living my entire life as an example of how a Christian ought to live. Words won't do it. Polycarp seems to be doing it pretty well, thus far. Lots of others here are trying to do it too. They are not trying to convince you, they are just trying to do it. Because they wish to serve the Lord, out of love. It isn't about rewards and punishments, proof, or logic. It just happens that we know the Lord of all, and we know that He loves us. That makes loving Him a no brainer.

Arguing with folks about it doesn't accomplish much, that I have seen. I still do it now and then, but that's because I am an asshole, not because I am a Christian.

Tris

badchad
11-10-2003, 10:56 PM
Homebrew:

As I stated in the Pit thread I started in your honor, you are once again insisting that your interpretation is correct.
I donít think so. I think I am just insisting that the words be taken as they are written. You may insist that Darwinís Origin of Species is really about how Snow White hung out with 7 dwarfs, rather than biological evolution, which I guess is your prerogative but that does not make it a logical or reasonable ďinterpretation.Ē

You entire premise in harassing Polycarp is to show that his interpretation differs from what you consider the correct one.
Thatís not true. My premise is that his personal religious philosophy is self contradictory and I provided evidence of this by juxtaposing his various quotes with each other.

But your interpretation, like that of the Fundies, is not even the traditional and historical interpretation so it's rather irrelevant that Polycarp doesn't subscribe to it.
It may be traditional to assert that the bible says something other than what it really says but that does not make it right, regardless of how long the post hoc rationalization has been going on.

Point 1 Theophanies: He acknowledges in that very post that his subjective interpretation of his theophanies are valid for him only. Yet you harp on those and dishonestly imply that he's inconsistent on that point.
I donít think his Theophanies (sp?) are particularly inconsistent, rather they just demonstrate he isnít very good at evaluating the probability of various events and psychologically likes to think of himself as important to an all loving being. So not inconsistent in themselves I think the ďtheophaniesĒ are unreasonable if he were able to step back from his emotions and take an objective look at them. Being an atheist yourself Iíll bet you agree.

Point 2 Mythology: From your latest imbecilic ramblings you show yourself to be woefully uneducated. Hell, just reading a freakin' dictionary tells you more accurately what a myth is than your facile understanding. Perhaps you should check out a book on the topic, like The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell.
Thatís not true either. Definitions in my dictionary for myth include:

ďa traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some superhuman being or some alleged person or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or natural explanationĒ

ďany invented story, idea or conceptĒ

ďan unproved collection of belief that is accepted uncritically and is used to justify a social institutionĒ

I havenít read Campbell but from what I gather from these boards his version of myth means that the depicted events may not really have happened but the hidden moral meanings and lessons are true. For example the promises of the afterlife and eternal bliss were made up but the bible contains some very useful lessons such as sending your wife out of the house for a week while she menstruates. Wonderful theory. Oh, Iím sorry that wasnít the traditional interpretation.

Unless you have a better explanation of Campbell I donít see how his definition of the word myth rescues Polycarp or any other liberal Christian from the irrationality of accepting outstanding claims on significantly less than outstanding evidence.

Points 3-5: Your replies continue to show that you're not paying attention or you are simply obtuse.
No Iím not, you are.;)

Polycarp and other liberal Christians have repeated acknowledged that they don't believe the Bible is a transcription of God's actual words. They've acknowledge apparent inconsistencies.
That is true. They admit they believe in outstanding and self serving claims from the bible in spite of already acknowledging it as a poor source of information. This is not reasonable. Less reasonable than a fundamentalist who believes in outstanding claims based on what he perceives as an outstanding inerrant source.

And Poly in particular has given you his reasoning for accepting which parts he does.
Yeah, those parts that agree with what he already believes in is inspired while the rest is allegory/error. Kind of makes the bible less than necessary to his belief system donít you think.

The fact that you reject his reasoning does not equate with it being unreasonable nor inconsistent.
I beg to differ Sir.

badchad
11-10-2003, 11:12 PM
Polycarp:

I actually see your point. I'm certain that I, and other liberal Christians including theologians), rationalize to a far greater extent than we're prepared to admit to anyone, including ourselves.
Good good good. Now we are getting somewhere. How far are you willing to go with this?

Any rational observer will admit that gay people exist, that their desires and aspirations differ only in the identity of the beloved from those of the rest of us, and that, on their unanimous witness, they are incapable of changing that orientation under their own steam.[quote]
Aside from the identity of the beloved part you could say the same thing for atheists, yet Jesus himself made it pretty clear that atheists are left in the cold (ok heat) with regards to salvation.

[quote]A God who self-characterizes as just and merciful is not going to condemn them for that which they are incapable of changing, nor will He require of them a gift (celibacy) that He has not seen fit to endow them with. This is not to suggest that they are excused from resisting temptation, same as the rest of us; it's saying that only those endowed with a particular charism are capable of accepting with equanimity the idea that they can never morally engage in sex, and it's pretty clear to me that most gay men have not been so endowed.
Salvation, faith, grace are all gifts right? Gifts, which we reportedly canít earn? How are the gays any different from the majority of other folks that Jesus says he will be punishing forever.

I do fully see that I am making a judgment that makes my idea of God match up with a moral standard that I believe to be valid.
Also a moral standard that fits with your selfishness as you said you ďcan readily identify with the people in that minority.Ē


What it comes down to, when the neoprene hits the asphalt, is this: one can choose to interpret the teachings of Jesus by a standard that (extraBiblically) presumes the Bible to be the unalloyed Word of God, to be accepted and followed unquestioningly; or one can choose to interpret the rest of the Bible on the basis of the teachings of Jesus. IMHO, for a committed Christian there is only one proper choice.[quote]
Again as I have stated and Godzillatemple has emphasized you cherry pick not only the bible but also the teachings of Jesus.

[quote]I am, I suppose, reading the text to justify my beliefs, rather than to shape them -- but I'm doing it on the basis of a commitment to follow the source of those beliefs. At least as I see it.
Just like a Christian gay basher.

badchad
11-10-2003, 11:27 PM
Polycarp:

Your suggestion is that I'm using material from a flawed source to attempt to discover the flaws in that source. This presumes an equal state of unreliability for all parts of the Bible, and hence the invalidity of using any part of it as a test for other parts.
You got an objective measure for determining which parts of the bible are more or less reliable?

However, it's my contention that the Bible can be critically examined in much the same was as any other work of ancient literature. (See the link to the threat where I pitted badchad for a reasoned analysis by Libertarian of the distinction between regarding the Bible as a self-closed, internally consistent system and the transitive approach of bringing the capabilities of scholarship to bear on its study.)
See the same thread for IzzyRís well done rebuttal.

Further, any person who would put credence in the Bible at all would concur that some parts are of more value than others for the guidance of human life, etc. The Sermon on the Mount, the Great Commission, etc., speak to people much more than the book of Obadiah or the first nine chapters of I Chronicles with their interminable geneaologies.
Isnít the sermon on the mount where Jesus said not to marry divorced women?

There being a view that Jesus is Lord to a Christian, it follows that what one can form a reasonable assurance are His words and teachings are supreme in the context in which they were given. That this is important is self-evident in the variant understandings expressed in this very thread about the teaching on divorce. It's the view of liberals and moderates alike that Jesus was not laying down an absolute commandment against divorce so much as he was condemning the idea of divorce for convenience.
Except that isnít what Jesus taught, rather it is just you liberalís who want an easy out for divorce.

The principle -- of the permanency of marriage -- is absolute, but circumstances alter cases.
That is correct. If the woman was a fornicator it is ok to get a divorce, otherwise you better learn to live with her.

There does remain the question of Jesus's variations in speech patterns, his tendency to speak in ellipticalparable form and to invest familiar words with additional meanings (as in the I AM passages in John), and the items noted by badchad earlier in the thread. These do deserve addressing, but not in a legalistic context.
If they deserve addressing then do so, as this is the thread in which you stated you would.

In other words back up to my earlier questions to you in this thread and answer them as best you can and/or admit where you canít answer them. Itís not that hard a task and you did ask for it, as noted in my OP.

badchad
11-10-2003, 11:44 PM
Priceguy:

Come on now. Someone pits Polycarp, and it goes on for five pages? How is this possible?
Uhhh, cause heís full of crap?

I'm one of the most aggressive atheists on these boards, but I'll say this: if people have to be Christians, I wish they could all be Polycarp. He never preaches, admits the flaws of his worldview, is never smug or overbearing, and above all he is an incredibly eloquent, interesting and constructive member of this community.

badchad, lay off it.
I disagree with you above with your use of the word never but thatís beside the point. Just because a person is a nice guy does not exempt him from being called on his irrational assertions, or do you think it should? To quote you on a recent thread regarding the belief in god:

The harm is that it impedes critical thinking and reduces the drive to find true answers to questions. Without the hindering influence of the church, science would have progressed a lot faster for several centuries.

It doesn't imply gullibility or less intelligence, but it does imply flawed ability of reason.
I know, itís annoying isnít it?

Siege
11-11-2003, 05:35 AM
Badchad, you do realize that you could be seen as proselytizing as obnoxiously as any Fundamentalist Christian out there, don't you?

Why do you insist I choose one of two options, either of which are likely to leave me dead? If you want me dead that badly, please have the courtesy to kill me yourself.

Yes, that's harsh. However, you are insisting Polycarp and I give up something which has meaning and value and you are offering to replace it with nothing. You've spoken of reality. Reality is cold, harsh, and brutal. Reality, as it was presented to me, deprived me of hope. This faith, which you apparently consider a delusiong of a deranged, corrupt, and illogical mind, has quite literally been the only thing which has enabled me to make it through another awful, hopeless, brutal, ugly day. Reality and logic have given me reasons to die. Faith gave me reasons to live.

If you want me dead, kill me.
CJ

Desmostylus
11-11-2003, 08:03 AM
Originally posted by Siege
Badchad, you do realize that you could be seen as proselytizing as obnoxiously as any Fundamentalist Christian out there, don't you? Obviously not. It's time for another:

"Fuck off, badchad."

Regarding the rest of your post, CJ, hang in there. No-one wants you dead. Not badchad, not anyone.

Homebrew
11-11-2003, 09:39 AM
Originally posted by badchad
Yeah, those parts that agree with what he already believes in is inspired while the rest is allegory/error. Kind of makes the bible less than necessary to his belief system donít you think. As he has said many times. You repeatedly call him on stuff you anticipated he would say, but not on what is actually said. The Bible is not Polycarp's God. The Bible is a collection of stories about his God, written by men complete with errors, confabulations and misunderstandings. His God would still be his even if there were no Bible. You still seem to be replying using some script that you've used against less thoughtful people IRL. It doesn't work here with people who have actually given considerable thought to their belief systems.

Although they'd use different words, I think Polycarp, Seige, Libertarian and Triskademus would all agree on one description of God: LOVE.

That is the basis of which they descern which parts of the Bible to accept and which to reject. If a particular passage doesn't support LOVE, then they reject it. You keep saying this is inconsistent or illogical, but, to borrow a phrase, I don't think that word means what you think it means.

godzillatemple
11-11-2003, 09:55 AM
Originally posted by Homebrew
Although they'd use different words, I think Polycarp, Seige, Libertarian and Triskademus would all agree on one description of God: LOVE.

That is the basis of which they descern which parts of the Bible to accept and which to reject. If a particular passage doesn't support LOVE, then they reject it. You keep saying this is inconsistent or illogical, but, to borrow a phrase, I don't think that word means what you think it means.
Well, aside from the obvious question as to what it means to say that God is an emotion, I guess the real question is what leads Poly and the rest to believe that God is "love" in the first place? Sure, the Bible talks about a loving God, but it also talks about a vengeful and wrathful God as well. Which brings us back to the point that Poly and the rest have to make a decision about God's nature first, and then choose which parts of the Bible to accept based on whether they accord with this decision (as opposed to determining the nature of God solely by reading the Bible and using "analysis" to figure out which parts were "really" said by Christ, etc.)

Barry

Homebrew
11-11-2003, 10:04 AM
If you think Love is simply an emotion, then you are lacking something in your life.

vanilla
11-11-2003, 10:05 AM
Originally posted by badchad



Uhhh, cause heís full of crap?




Notice theres no CITE for this claim..

Genghis Bob
11-11-2003, 10:12 AM
Originally posted by godzillatemple
. . . the Bible talks about a loving God, but it also talks about a vengeful and wrathful God as well. . .

A lot of the problem in Biblical exegesis starts when people look at the Bible as a collection of set-pieces standing apart from one another. In such a context, it's reasonable to conclude that the various descriptions of God present either an inconstant deity, or reveals a lack of concord among the writers as to the nature of God.

When I (and a lot of other Christians) look at the Bible, I see a continuum. It's a story of the changing relationship between man and God. What changes, I believe, is man's understanding of the nature of God and his plan for creation. The story begins very generally, almost exclusively with metaphor as man tries to understand the world, his place in it, and his relationship with God. As God reveals himself to man throughout history, our understanding of God's nature becomes refined, more specific, culminating in a very discrete relationship with God-as-man in Jesus.

Looking at the Bible as a story with a beginning, middle and "end", with characters developing and learning, the overall arc of the story is toward an understanding of God as loving, giving and desiring an intimate relationship with man. This overall nature of God, as gleaned from the entire text, is the "lens" through which we examine any particular piece of scripture.

Is God wrathful and vengeful? Perhaps, as would be any person. But his nature is certainly more merciful and giving, based on the "conclusion" of the story.

godzillatemple
11-11-2003, 10:14 AM
Originally posted by rimshotgdansk
Is God wrathful and vengeful? Perhaps, as would be any person.
Not that you're in any way anthropormophizing God, of course, right?

godzillatemple
11-11-2003, 10:15 AM
Errrr... make that "anthropomorphizing."

Genghis Bob
11-11-2003, 10:23 AM
Originally posted by godzillatemple
Not that you're in any way anthropormophizing God, of course, right?

. . . no, more like the other way around. I'm imbuing humans with a characteristic of God - personhood.

My basis for this lies in Genesis; you know, "let us make man in our own image," etc. I don't believe God is a balding, out-of-shape midwestern white guy, so I have to look for a broader interpretation of what "in his image" means. The characteristic in man that seems universal is individuality, personhood, extending even to "free will" (although I know some Lutherans would argue with me on this last point).

So, no, I don't think I'm anthropomorphizing God; I think I'm deomorphizing man.

xenophon41
11-11-2003, 12:14 PM
godzillatemple:

...Poly and the rest have to make a decision about God's nature first, and then choose which parts of the Bible to accept based on whether they accord with this decision (as opposed to determining the nature of God solely by reading the Bible and using "analysis" to figure out which parts were "really" said by Christ, etc.)
Assuming for the sake of your argument that a subjective apprehension of God's nature is a "decision", in what way does starting from such an apprehension point to inconsistency or lack of rigor in one's subsequent textual analysis?

As an aside, doesnít it strike you that for someone who has a subjective experience which he identifies as an apprehension of God, attempting to ďanalyzeĒ biblical text without subjective interpretation would be like trying to determine which kind of apples he likes by a secondhand description of each tree?

godzillatemple
11-11-2003, 12:57 PM
Originally posted by xenophon41
Assuming for the sake of your argument that a subjective apprehension of God's nature is a "decision", in what way does starting from such an apprehension point to inconsistency or lack of rigor in one's subsequent textual analysis?
It only points to inconsistency or lack of rigor in one's subsequent textual analysis when one then goes on to claim that one's "subjective apprehension of God's nature" is derived from careful analysis the text itself.

Let's say there are two statements which seemingly contradict each other, one of which Poly accepts and the other of which he rejects. When asked to justify rejecting one of the statements, his logic appears (to me, at least) to be along the lines of the following:

Q: How does one know that statement B (e.g., that divorce is wrong, that sinners will be cast into a lake of fire, etc.) should be rejected?
A: Because it contradicts statement A (e.g., that we are supposed to "love our neighbors as oursleves").

Q: Well, then how do you know Statement A should be accepted?
A: Because Jesus is reported to have said it.

Q: But Jesus is ALSO reported have said Statement B.
A: Well, he either didn't really say it, or else it has been misinterpreted.

Q: How do you know that?
A: Well, because it contradicts Statement A, of course.

Repeat as often as necessary until the other side retreats in frustration.

Barry

xenophon41
11-11-2003, 01:27 PM
I'm not going to answer for Poly, 'zillatemple, but I just want to say that I'll be sorely amazed if you can provide a link to someplace where he's claimed his "...'subjective apprehension of God's nature' is derived from careful analysis" of biblical text!

godzillatemple
11-11-2003, 01:45 PM
xenophon41: Well, I doub't I'll ever be able to finde a cite where Poly used those exact words, since I was quoting you in the first place.

But if you look back a couple of pages in this thread, you'll find a lengthy post by Poly wherein he admits that "I'm certain that I, and other liberal Christians including theologians), rationalize to a far greater extent than we're prepared to admit to anyone, including ourselves" and "I am making a judgment that makes my idea of God match up with a moral standard that I believe to be valid." But where does he claim to get this "moral standard" in the first place? Why, from the Bible, of course:
The point underlying this is that that moral standard was, we are told by the very Bible at question, taught by the Man Who is supposed to have the supreme authority to teach and command, a much better understanding of God's Will (being Himself God the Son) than Paul, Moses, and the rest of the supporting cast, and whom we Christians have taken as Savior and Lord.

What it comes down to, when the neoprene hits the asphalt, is this: one can choose to interpret the teachings of Jesus by a standard that (extraBiblically) presumes the Bible to be the unalloyed Word of God, to be accepted and followed unquestioningly; or one can choose to interpret the rest of the Bible on the basis of the teachings of Jesus. IMHO, for a committed Christian there is only one proper choice.

I am, I suppose, reading the text to justify my beliefs, rather than to shape them -- but I'm doing it on the basis of a commitment to follow the source of those beliefs.

The fact that Poly "choose[s] interpret the rest of the Bible on the basis of the teachings of Jesus" presupposes that he actually KNOWS what statements ascribed to Jesus in the bible were actually made by him, and in other threads he has talked about determining this via a careful analysis of the text. For example, in this thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=220290), [b]Poly stated:
In Jesus... we have God the Son Incarnate as a human being. Granted that He did not write anything that has survived, and that the four Evangelists wrote with their own agendas, as I noted, one can "read past" the particular idees fixťs of each by reference to the others. In particular, Luke is careful to note that he employed the best First Century historiography in composing his Gospel. If you discount the idea that Matthew was trying to portray Jesus as the Jewish Messiah (grist for an interesting thread, with Izzy and cmk exploring why Judaism has disagreed with his conclusions), that Luke was looking at a "humanistic Jesus," that Mark was portraying "the Son of God" who was insistent on keeping His Messiahship a secret, and that John's Jesus is transcendent and tends to discourse rather than teach in parables and pithy sayings as the Synoptic portraits suggest, then you can arrive at a view of a man on whose character and teachings they agree.

So, there you have it. Poly admits that he is guilty of rationalization and making subjective judgments, but then justifies these judgments and rationalizations by claiming to have discovered the true words of Jesus through careful analysis of the Bible.

Barry

xenophon41
11-11-2003, 02:27 PM
Again, not speaking for Polycarp, but IMO thatís a personal comprehension of moral instruction. Sure, itís subjective, but itís based on an intellectual understanding, a real analysis of the written word in its historical context. But that intellectual understanding of Christ's instructions is not an apprehension of Christ's nature, which is a perceptual and irrational understanding derived from experience rather than induction.

We keep coming back I think to your understandable intellectual distaste for that nonrational starting point in Poly's heart, rather than the process which unfolds in Poly's mind. (Although, I must say I don't think your Q&A construction is a completely accurate representation of Poly's mental process.) The moral standard is understood through reason, but it's confirmed through perception; hence, the "rationalization" Poly admits to.

godzillatemple
11-11-2003, 02:38 PM
Originally posted by xenophon41
Again, not speaking for Polycarp, but IMO thatís a personal comprehension of moral instruction. Sure, itís subjective, but itís based on an intellectual understanding, a real analysis of the written word in its historical context. But that intellectual understanding of Christ's instructions is not an apprehension of Christ's nature, which is a perceptual and irrational understanding derived from experience rather than induction.
Well, I guess we'll have to wait for Poly to speak for himself, then.
We keep coming back I think to your understandable intellectual distaste for that nonrational starting point in Poly's heart, rather than the process which unfolds in Poly's mind.
No, that's not really it. I think it's perfectly valid to have a nonrational starting point, and one doesn't have to justify all of one's beliefs. One need not come up with a comprehensive moral philosophy to declare that one believes that treating other people with respect is a good idea, for example.

What I have a distaste for is when somebody tries to explain why their "nonrational starting point" is, in fact, perfectly rational and based on an analysis of the Bible that any "good christian" will surely agree with. And I further have a distaste for explanations that rely on circular reasoning. But that's just me.
Although, I must say I don't think your Q&A construction is a completely accurate representation of Poly's mental process.
Completely accurate? Perhaps not. Pretty darn close, though. Or so I believe.

Barry

Kalhoun
11-11-2003, 04:48 PM
The part that confuses me is where people say they don't worship the bible, when virtually everything a person knows about Jesus is derived from the bible (or from conversations with people who derive their opinion from the bible). It's the age-old question: Which came first, the Jesus or the Bible?

Since this is where our ideas of Jesus come from, how can you say that this was fact and that was fiction? It would stand to reason that ALL of it is accurate.

godzillatemple
11-11-2003, 05:29 PM
xenophon: Here's another example of what I was talking about, once again from a few pages back in this very thread:
Further, any person who would put credence in the Bible at all would concur that some parts are of more value than others for the guidance of human life, etc. The Sermon on the Mount, the Great Commission, etc., speak to people much more than the book of Obadiah or the first nine chapters of I Chronicles with their interminable geneaologies.

There being a view that Jesus is Lord to a Christian, it follows that what one can form a reasonable assurance are His words and teachings are supreme in the context in which they were given. That this is important is self-evident in the variant understandings expressed in this very thread about the teaching on divorce. It's the view of liberals and moderates alike that Jesus was not laying down an absolute commandment against divorce so much as he was condemning the idea of divorce for convenience. The principle -- of the permanency of marriage -- is absolute, but circumstances alter cases.

In any case, what I feel is proper is to apply the tests of textual criticism to the Gospels to establish insofar as possible what exactly Jesus did say, discounting the particular themes of the four Evangelists, and then, having arrived at an answer, apply it as a guide to interpreting how to apply (or not apply) the remainder of Scripture to one's life.

There does remain the question of Jesus's variations in speech patterns, his tendency to speak in ellipticalparable form and to invest familiar words with additional meanings (as in the I AM passages in John), and the items noted by badchad earlier in the thread. These do deserve addressing, but not in a legalistic context.
Here, once again, Poly claims that the words that are actually ascribed to Jesus must be given precedence and should be used to guide one's intepretation of the rest of the Bible. Except, of course, when Jesus is alleged to have said something that Poly does not agree with, in which case it can be safely dismissed because "it's the view of liberals and moderates alike" that Jesus didn't really say what it says he said.

So does this mean that Poly is willing to admit that he disregards those parts of Jesus' words that he disagrees with? Of course not. Instead, he states that he determines what Jesus really said by "apply[ing] the tests of textual criticism to the Gospels to establish insofar as possible what exactly Jesus did say, discounting the particular themes of the four Evangelists, and then, having arrived at an answer, apply[ing] it as a guide to interpreting how to apply (or not apply) the remainder of Scripture to one's life."

Here's yet another example, from the thread I referred to earlier:
An analogy to Constitutional law may be useful. Just as a law duly passed is valid if and only if it falls within the powers allowed to the legislature passing it within the applicable Constitution(s), and only if it does not improperly restrict the rights which said Constitution(s) guarantee, so too the commands and teachings of Scripture are valid only as they fit the three commands which Jesus specified as encompassing all the Law and Prophets: the Two Great Commandments and the Golden Rule. Therefore we have him, not rejecting the keeping of the Sabbath, but defining a way of keeping it which rejects the legalistic fences about not traveling or doing work, but focuses on the doing of good for God and man.

In reading Scripture with this view, one always keeps in mind the cultural context in which the story was written, and the tendency of man to pass the buck. For an Israelite leader to justify genocide by alleging that God commanded it would be easy, and give a divine cachet to his policies (GWB recognizes this!); this does not necessarily mean that He did any such thing.

So my rule is, does this passage under consideration accord with the known teachings of Jesus, or does it seem to lie athwart what He condemned? I do not ask, "can my actions be justified by a reference to some Bible verse?" but rather "are my actions conformable to the ideals which Jesus pronounced as goals to which humans should strive?"
Again, Poly chooses which of Jesus's sayings to include in his "known teachings" and then disregards the rest because they conflict with the small subset that he has selected as matching his own moral ethics.

Finally, once again from a few pages back:
This means that anyone claiming to follow Him, including msyelf and others who claim the title Christian, is obliged to espouse an ethics founded on what He taught. I summarize this as:

* The Two Great Commandments
* The Golden Rule
* The Great Commission
* Aspiration to a high standard of personal ethics
[*Non-judgmentalism and acceptance of others as one's equals, entitled to one's love and respect
* Repentance and trust in God, accepting one's inability to live up to the ideals above outlined
* A quest for decent treatment for all and social justice, particularly for those oppressed by society historically
Why those particular statements by Jesus (The Two Great Commandments, the Gold Rule, the Great Commission) and not the other statements? Why state that the statements by Jesus regarding divorce and casting sinners into the flames should be rejected as contradicting the Two Great Commandments and the Gold Rule, instead of the other way around?

Barry

Homebrew
11-11-2003, 05:34 PM
I reckon 'cause he said about the Royal Commandments that "on these two hang all of the Law and Prophets".

badchad
11-11-2003, 05:40 PM
Rock on Barry.:)

xenophon41
11-11-2003, 05:59 PM
godzillatemple, where exactly is Poly losing you in his explanations? I'll be buggered if I can see how you can get from the posts you've quoted to this conclusion:

Again, Poly chooses which of Jesus's sayings to include in his "known teachings" and then disregards the rest because they conflict with the small subset that he has selected as matching his own moral ethics.

It makes me wonder if you even understand how the books of the Bible are structured, and where they come from? Since you seem to treat references to "Scripture" --which commonly refers to all Biblical canon, and which is also how Poly has consistently used the term-- as interchangeable with "Jesus' sayings", I have to conclude you would do well to read the five part Mailbag series (http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mbible1.html) on the subject. (I would hate to think you're actually aware of the equivocation and continue to commit it anyway.)

In addition, you keep asserting that Poly has "rejected" Christ's statements regarding divorce and Gehenna. This is patently incorrect and easily disproven within your own posts by Poly's contextual analyses, which, rather than ignoring or rejecting, attempt to glean full meaning from those remarks! But I suppose it's easier for you to say this is a "rejection" of Christ's comments than to admit that Poly might just be paying closer attention to them than you do.

Good grief, g, when you hear the phrase "it's raining cats and dogs" do you call your local animal shelter for an advisory? (Note that the question was rhetorical btw, should you feel compelled to take it as a an attempt on my part to actually determine your probable actions in the event such a colloquialism reaches your ears...)

xenophon41
11-11-2003, 08:40 PM
Y'know, on reflection, I think I've made a mistake. I've been participating in this thread because I think it's a good thing to let other intellectually constipated skeptics like me know that you can retain intellectual honesty without rejecting the parts of reality that can't be explored through rationality. But that message becomes less effective through unvarying repetition.

The concept of contextual analysis is neither exceptionally difficult nor unique to theological examinations. Nor is it unique to Polycarp, nor even to modern Christian exegesis. I suspect both godzillatemple and badchad are far less obtuse regarding this sort of analysis than their posts would suggest. I suspect there's an element of deliberateness to the technique of missing the point time after time.

Now I realize I only suspect that because I'm a cynical, untrusting prick. Yet because I'm also an argumentative bastard I keep feeding this thread anyway. But I think Tris was right back on page 1, and I regret adding fuel to this particular smoldering pit. I think I'll just stop doing it.

badchad
11-11-2003, 09:54 PM
Siege:

Badchad, you do realize that you could be seen as proselytizing as obnoxiously as any Fundamentalist Christian out there, don't you?
I guess were all trying to save the world. Them from eternal torment and me from suicide bombers crashing into buildings and regular folks having their savings siphoned off 10% a paycheck under the euphemism tithing.

Why do you insist I choose one of two options, either of which are likely to leave me dead? If you want me dead that badly, please have the courtesy to kill me yourself.
Iím not quite sure how to answer that. I have a reasonable argument to make and based on your postings you agree it reasonable. The fact is that my argument is not with you but with Polycarp. When I engaged you, you were good enough to admit that your religion was a crutch and not based on reason, which while I donít agree with your decisions, it is not something I care to take my time debating. Polycarp on the other hand seems unwilling to admit the same as such I carry forward. Also I find him quite pretentious, which helps my motivation, and I donít find you that way. So while I think your beliefs are unreasonable I still think youíre fairly cool. Still I have no intention on backing away from my position, unless it is shown to my satisfaction that I am the one being unreasonable.

Yes, that's harsh. However, you are insisting Polycarp and I give up something which has meaning and value and you are offering to replace it with nothing.
Well I donít know if reality can replace delusions of grandure but here is what I would suggest.

First join a gym. Exercise not only increases your health but overwhelming evidence suggests that it helps with the treatment of depression.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=PubMed&cmd=Display&dopt=pubmed_pubmed&from_uid=12392873

Also making small but measurable improvements is to me what happiness is all about and you get that with exercise. For what itís worth donít forget your strength training, and free weights are better than machines IMO. For what itís worth this is my field (exercise not depression) and I get paid pretty well for my opinion.

Second find Bertrand Russell book ďThe conquest of happiness.Ē Heís a fairly famous atheist/agnostic but this book doesnít talk about that but rather what are his opinions on how to be happy in modern society. Personally I think his opinions are pretty good. His other books are good too, and he is a 10/10 when it comes to humanitarian efforts. Far nicer than I am so I donít think youíll be offended.

Another good book is ďWhen Neitzsche WeptĒ which is a fictional account of Neitzsche (who suffered with depression). Itís a good easy read and is a nice intro to his philosophy, which I really like but can get a little offensive towards Christainity, but my favorite of his actual works is ďHuman all to Human.Ē If god isnít pissed about you befriending Wiccanís Iím sure he wonít mind you reading Neitzsche.

Voltair is thus far my favorite philosopher as he is not only extremely lucid but laugh out loud funny. ďThe Portable VoltairĒ contains most of his major works and he shows the humor life has even without an imaginary god who loves you.

You've spoken of reality. Reality is cold, harsh, and brutal.
Quite true I agree. I also think it incredible story to suggest that the above reality was created by an omnipotent omnibenevolent being, but I digress. Still in spite of reality being all those things you talk of, there are still good things. Friends, family, sunsets, mountain tops, and the satisfaction on can achieve in overcoming various challenges. I suggest looking on the bright side *now* as opposed to manufacturing a bright side only after you are dead.

This faith, which you apparently consider a delusiong of a deranged, corrupt, and illogical mind, has quite literally been the only thing which has enabled me to make it through another awful, hopeless, brutal, ugly day. Reality and logic have given me reasons to die. Faith gave me reasons to live.
I disagree. You reported having depression before converting and it seem you still suffer with it now. As such it seems that Jesus in all his loving ways failed to provide a cure. Iím not saying I know of any cure for depression, however, I think the chances are better than average that there are better alternatives that Christianity. Most atheists I know are every bit as happy as Christians, if not more so.

badchad
11-11-2003, 10:10 PM
Homebrew

As he has said many times. You repeatedly call him on stuff you anticipated he would say, but not on what is actually said.
Incorrect, read again from the top and you will see clearly that I have been calling Polycarp specifically on things that he has said/typed.

The Bible is not Polycarp's God.
I understand that. Jesus is Polycarpís god and unfortunately all he knows about Jesus (save for the heart attack he gave him) was what is written in the bible. In other words the Jesus or the egg argument that Kalhoun mentioned above.

The Bible is a collection of stories about his God, written by men complete with errors, confabulations and misunderstandings. His God would still be his even if there were no Bible.
Thatís merely your unsubstantiated assertion.

You still seem to be replying using some script that you've used against less thoughtful people IRL.
Wrong again homebrew. My arguments are custom tailored to Polycarpís version of Christianity. Hence why he has such a problem giving me a straight and clear answer IMO.

It doesn't work here with people who have actually given considerable thought to their belief systems.

It works plenty well, you may not see it but I really think Polycarp does. Also the above reminds me of one of my favorite Neitzsche quotes:

ďthey spend their day sitting at swamps with fishing rods, thinking themselves profound; but whoever fishes where there are not fish, I would not even call superficial.Ē

Although they'd use different words, I think Polycarp, Seige, Libertarian and Triskademus would all agree on one description of God: LOVE.

Whatever.

That is the basis of which they descern which parts of the Bible to accept and which to reject. If a particular passage doesn't support LOVE, then they reject it. You keep saying this is inconsistent or illogical, but, to borrow a phrase, I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Fine, so if you think their version of Christianity is so reasonable, let me ask you one question. WHY ARE YOU AN ATHEIST?

badchad
11-11-2003, 10:20 PM
xenophon41:

godzillatemple, where exactly is Poly losing you in his explanations? I'll be buggered if I can see how you can get from the posts you've quoted to this conclusion:
I think he has been refreshingly clear about it. I suggest you read his stuff (Barryís) again.

Y'know, on reflection, I think I've made a mistake. I've been participating in this thread because I think it's a good thing to let other intellectually constipated skeptics like me know that you can retain intellectual honesty without rejecting the parts of reality that can't be explored through rationality.
What parts of reality have you explored using things other than rationality? What evidence do you have to put forth that your efforts have been fruitful?

The concept of contextual analysis is neither exceptionally difficult nor unique to theological examinations. Nor is it unique to Polycarp, nor even to modern Christian exegesis. I suspect both godzillatemple and badchad are far less obtuse regarding this sort of analysis than their posts would suggest. I suspect there's an element of deliberateness to the technique of missing the point time after time.
Funny, I thought there was an element of deliberateness in presenting a crappy argument time after time.

Now I realize I only suspect that because I'm a cynical, untrusting prick. Yet because I'm also an argumentative bastard I keep feeding this thread anyway. But I think Tris was right back on page 1, and I regret adding fuel to this particular smoldering pit. I think I'll just stop doing it.
Or in other words, Barryís argument is infallible, I think Iíll just stop bashing my head against it. Would it be that much to ask that you admit as much? It wonít prevent you from later retreating to faith.

Siege
11-12-2003, 07:00 AM
[i]Originally posted by badchad
You reported having depression before converting and it seem you still suffer with it now.

OK, now I think we're getting down to the root of the matter. For the record, I never "converted" to Christianity. By my church's standards, the only time during which I wasn't a Christian was the handful of weeks before I was baptized as an infant. If you want to apply American, Fundamentalist standards, I vaguely remember accepting Christ as my Saviour at about 6 years old, although I've no idea how valid that was. I've certainly been not only attending but actively participating in the Episcopal Church since I was 11 years old if not younger. As far as I know, I was not depressed at the time.

Badchad, I was not even aware of the southern, Fundamentalist, Biblical-literalist form of Christianity you appear to advocate as the only acceptable form of Christianity until I was in college. I've never found it appealing; to me, it appears to reject thought and logic in favor of "God or my preacher said so". I've never been "born again" in the sense of finding Jesus and, when the experience which was closest to that happened I was a Sunday School teacher. As an adult, I've attended two Fundamentalist-style church services run by a former Baptist minister.

I said this once on a Christian message board and wasn't believed, but I'll give it another try. My experience of Christianity is heavily colored by my having been born in England and by growing up in America's northeast. I had as much experience with Fundamentalist Christianity as I did with the Church of Latter Day Saints -- little or none. In many ways, it's as foreign a faith to me as Islam. What I've seen of the way Fundamentalists present themselves has given me few reasons to embrace their form of Christianity and their beliefs, and it's given me a great many reasons to reject it.

On the other hand, the Episcopal Church has fulfilled spiritual and physical needs (they've given me money) at times when I needed them to badly. I have had experiences which do not easily fit into a strictly logical framework, and religion supplies needs which atheism does not. By the way, on the subject of exercise, I have two points. One, it's no more a sure cure for depression than, well, religion, or simply trying to cheer up. Two, while I don't belong to a gym because that costs money I don't have, as a matter of fact I do exercise by walking and fencing. The latter, among other things, provides a marvelous outlet for aggression.

If I'd grown up in America's south or some other place where Fundamentalism is prevalent, I freely admit there's a chance I could have wound up a Fundamentalist Christian, although given my nature and my family, there's a far greater chance I would have wound up an Atheist.

I see you as telling me an Atheist or a strict, Biblical-literalist Christian. I can see the virtues of Atheism, actually -- my father is an agnostic or soft Atheist -- but Fundamentalist Christianity is completely unappealing. I may be a fool; I've certainly done extremely foolish things which I believed to be morally right, and reserve the right to do so again. Those may be the only models of religion which you knew; they are not the models I knew and I'm not above attempting to create a new model if the old ones don't fit. If some call me illogical or a hypocrite for doing so, so be it.

CJ

Kalhoun
11-12-2003, 09:06 AM
BadChad, GodzillaTemple...come 'ere youze...group hug!!! :)

I think Godzilla's argument is about as water-tight as any you'll see in these here parts. It's apparent to me that Poly admires Jesus's teachings for the most part, and carefully -- methodically disregards those teachings that don't work in his world.

andros
11-12-2003, 06:11 PM
Seems to me "circle jerk" would be more appropriate than "group hug." But whatever gives you the warm fuzzies.

Edlyn
11-12-2003, 09:03 PM
It's very obvious andros that they get their warm fuzzies from themselves. Are people like that usually jerks? Yes.

It's no reflection on Poly (or anyone like him) whatsoever.

godzillatemple
11-12-2003, 09:05 PM
Gee, and here I was trying so hard to be polite in my discussions....

Qadgop the Mercotan
11-12-2003, 09:13 PM
Originally posted by godzillatemple
Gee, and here I was trying so hard to be polite in my discussions....
godz, if you're not pissing someone off, you're not having a truly honest exchange of views. ;)

RedFury
11-12-2003, 10:23 PM
Glad to see that this thread managed to steer clear of the insults long enough to allow for the reading of the very clear, compelling and yes, polite arguments presented by godzillatemple.

Well done indeed.

badchad, I do believe your logic is just as sound and possibly even easier to follow, but perhaps you should work just a tad on the delivery in order to avoid getting bogged down by the (scathing) style itself.

Just a thought.

badchad
11-13-2003, 12:01 AM
Siege:

OK, now I think we're getting down to the root of the matter. For the record, I never "converted" to Christianity. By my church's standards, the only time during which I wasn't a Christian was the handful of weeks before I was baptized as an infant. If you want to apply American, Fundamentalist standards, I vaguely remember accepting Christ as my Saviour at about 6 years old, although I've no idea how valid that was.
Not that different from me.

Badchad, I was not even aware of the southern, Fundamentalist, Biblical-literalist form of Christianity you appear to advocate as the only acceptable form of Christianity until I was in college.
I wouldnít call myself an advocate of any sort of Christianity, however if one spouts off about how they follow the teachings of Jesus, as recorded in the gospels, then your stuck with following them and to be logically consistent you have to bite the bullet and accept some them teachings in which the morality of ďthis worldĒ considers pretty stupid.

I've never found it appealing; to me, it appears to reject thought and logic in favor of "God or my preacher said so".
But is that not exactly what you are doing when you believe in all/some of those miracle stories? Is casting off logic also what you do when you accept that an all loving all powerful god created a world which you and I both agree is pretty messed up? Isnít it illogical that god would punish people forever for things they are powerless to change? My attack on liberal Christianity is not due to the fact that I think fundamentalists are anything special in the reasoning department but rather a backlash against liberal Christians who smugly think themselves so smart while holding onto positions every bit as unreasonable as the fundamentalists, while at the same time being less internally consistent in their beliefs.

I said this once on a Christian message board and wasn't believed, but I'll give it another try. My experience of Christianity is heavily colored by my having been born in England and by growing up in America's northeast. I had as much experience with Fundamentalist Christianity as I did with the Church of Latter Day Saints -- little or none. In many ways, it's as foreign a faith to me as Islam. What I've seen of the way Fundamentalists present themselves has given me few reasons to embrace their form of Christianity and their beliefs, and it's given me a great many reasons to reject it.
I have experience with both fundamentalists and liberals. My mother is fundamentalist and yet a very very nice person, (people often wonder if Iím adopted.;). She still thinks gays go to hell unless they repent and would think your Wiccan friends darn close to evil incarnate, at least until she got to know them. However itís not because she gave it thought, or is a bad person rather itís what you get out of a lifetime brainwashing. I do my best to deconvert her, but as they said in the Matrix, ďWe never free a mind after it has reached a certain age, it has trouble letting go.Ē

On the other hand, the Episcopal Church has fulfilled spiritual and physical needs (they've given me money) at times when I needed them to badly.
None of that requires that they be correct in what they preach. I think you might get the same from a meeting of secular humanists, minus the irrational baggage.

I have had experiences which do not easily fit into a strictly logical framework, and religion supplies needs which atheism does not.
Atheism offers a lot if you ask me. No guilt, not having to figure out what part of gods plan it was that you lost your car keys, sex, drugs, rock and roll, etc. Well personally I avoid the drugs.

By the way, on the subject of exercise, I have two points. One, it's no more a sure cure for depression than, well, religion, or simply trying to cheer up.
I didnít call exercise a cure only stating that research indicates that it helps. Exercise is good for a lot of other things and unlike religion, itís not a scam.

Two, while I don't belong to a gym because that costs money I don't have, as a matter of fact I do exercise by walking and fencing. The latter, among other things, provides a marvelous outlet for aggression.
I still think weight lifting is a good addition as the improvements one makes are rapid and objective. The best website I know of for good information on the subject for women (which is pretty much the same as for men) is: http://www.stumptuous.com/weights.html

Also add Andrew Tobias ďThe only investment guide youíll ever needĒ to my recommended reading list.

I see you as telling me an Atheist or a strict, Biblical-literalist Christian.
Since you ask Iím telling you atheist. Biblical-literalist Christians have a plethora of contradictions of their own.

Those may be the only models of religion which you knew; they are not the models I knew and I'm not above attempting to create a new model if the old ones don't fit.
I think Iím familiar with all the models of Christianity of which you speak and from where Iím sitting they are all irrational. I donít know much about Buddhism but I have heard good things about it from people I respect, in that it does not necessarily require the belief in the supernatural, yet fulfills the needs of those unsatisfied by life. But still Iíd go with that Russell book I cited earlier. Be adventurous Siege.

badchad
11-13-2003, 12:11 AM
Andros:

Seems to me "circle jerk" would be more appropriate than "group hug." But whatever gives you the warm fuzzies.
Edlyn:

It's very obvious andros that they get their warm fuzzies from themselves. Are people like that usually jerks? Yes.
You know, potshots without substance only further emphasize the weakness of your sideís argument. However, I suppose by now you figure it canít get any worse, so by all means continue.;)

badchad
11-13-2003, 12:29 AM
RedFury:

Glad to see that this thread managed to steer clear of the insults long enough to allow for the reading of the very clear, compelling and yes, polite arguments presented by godzillatemple.

Well done indeed.
Heís good. No doubts there. I appreciated his politeness as well since it demonstrated that the answers, which werenít forthcoming, were not a matter of mere personality.

badchad, I do believe your logic is just as sound and possibly even easier to follow, but perhaps you should work just a tad on the delivery in order to avoid getting bogged down by the (scathing) style itself.
I appreciate the compliment and constructive criticism. Iíll try to make an effort on the latter but canít guarantee anything.:).

Kalhoun
11-13-2003, 09:00 AM
Edlyn said,


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It's very obvious andros that they get their warm fuzzies from themselves. Are people like that usually jerks? Yes.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'd much rather get my warm fuzzies from something that actually EXISTS, but please...carry on with your delusion.

Are people like that usually jerks? No. YOU are, you big poopy head! You are! A BIG. JERKY. POOPY HEAD. With no leg to stand on in this thread. You are defeated.

xenophon41
11-13-2003, 01:26 PM
You are defeated.
OP and friends are invited to celebrate their victory here (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=223172).

badchad
11-13-2003, 09:27 PM
xenophon41:


OP and friends are invited to celebrate their victory here.
HA! See that everybody, I do have friends.:)

Polycarp
11-23-2003, 04:26 PM
Sorry for abandoning this thread, I've been away working, without Internet access to speak of, for two weeks. I had no clue that the horse still has vital signs. ;)

Love is not a feeling; it's an act of the will. (http://www.joyunspeakable.com/displayTab.php3?tabPathId=1788)

And however banal you may find that Christian song (personally, I think it's well done, and one of the few examples of"contemporary Christian music) I care to listen to), the underlying point that true love is not merly an emotion but an underlying commitment to act in a loving way is, I think, valid. All else leaves you at the mercy of glandular secretions and fatigue poisons.

And, FWIW, in making comments of the sort "God is love," nearly everyone using the phrase does not imply identity but rather something on the order of "There exists a spiritual entity of immeasurable power and wisdom, and a prime characteristic of this entity is love." (The fun, of course, comes in defining what one might mean by "a spiritual entity.")

As Xenophon noted, it has not been my intention in any religious witnessing to proclaim my possession of Absolute Truth to which everyoine else should adhere, but to report, for the benefit of others and in keeping with myLord's commandment, what I believe to be true on the basis of my own experiences. My point in bringing up Gaudere is that a rational person with a different set of evaluative criteria and a different set of experiences can come to a quite contrary opinion to mine. I do not intend to sound supercilious or insistent that my system is inherently a rigorously logical one -- it flows from my own evaluation of my own grasp of critical discipline combined with my own experiences and the sense that there is Something beyond myself causing those experiences.


Barry did, as is probably obvious to most people, hit on a weakness in my reasoning -- but IMHO it's one that is resoluble. If I understand his argument correctly, he is saying that I am founding my theological beliefs and ethics predominantly on what I find in the Bible, and then critiquing the Bible based on those theological beliefs and ethics, which would certainly be circular reasoning.

However, he misses a couple of elements in arriving at this conclusion. First is that (as I hope is obvious) I do not regard the Bible as the inerrant Word of God trundled down from heaven by a bevy of archangels, but as a collection of ancient literature dealing largely with the religious beliefs of a particular people and then the writings of an offshoot group to which I and about a billion other people belong.

Now, allow for the sake of argument here that we accept the validity of my evaluation that evidence does strongly suggest the existence of the God of Whom that book purports to speak. (This is a highly debatable presumption, as numerous other threads have discussed -- but for the sake of defending the internal consistency of my system, I'm asking that it be presumed in analyzing that consistency, only, that a person such as myself might put together personal experience, the weight of authority, and reason to sensibly arrive at that conclusion. Whether it's a valid conclusion is grist for a separate series of posts.) Take note that we are not presuming any characteristics here, just the bare fact of existence.

Now, given that presumption, it becomes possible to work with the data at hand to analyze the relative validity of the evidence in light of what can be posited about the entity it purports to describe. First, one employs pyschology rationally to evaluate personal experience. As noted, I grant that there does exist a Jamesian will to believe and that I do have a touch of it. (If I were to produce a music video, I'd have a singer performing "A Reason to Believe" to (apparently) someone sitting in an easy chair whose back is to the camera, and at the end of the song have the camera pan to show a Bible propped up in the chair. :))

Second, one can use the techniqaues of textual criticism of paleographic documents on the Bible quite as well as on any other collection of ancient documents. Studying Herodotus, one can accept his description of the existence, acts, and character of a Spartan king (subject to support or refutation from other ancient material) without swallowing whole hog his straightfaced reportage about the Hyperboreans or the Blennyes. The same sort of analytical techniques suggests the historicity of the court reportage of David's monarchy without requiring Noah's Flood or Jonah's making his home in a fish's abdomen.

As noted previously, such an analysis is possible with regard to the acts and syaings of Jesus as well. We have at our disposal four reports, dated from 35 to 65 years after His ministry, each of them showing clear evidence of a particular olemic slant. The sources themselves concur in showing him as regularly teaching in parables, prone to the use of metaphor, and tending to hyperbole. Therefore, it's only rasonable to read material that appears to be parabolic or hyperbolic, or to use symbolic language, as being exactly that. As I commented four years ago on this board, that Jesus referred to Adam does not establish the latter's historicity any more than David B. saying what he did at sunset means that he believes in a geocentric, flat earth.

Using this methodology, one can arrive at a reasonably sound, if empirically derived and subject to refinement, identification of what Jesus actually said and what import to place on each utterance. This then becomes a guide to the nature of the God previously postulated.

This is in no way circular except insofar as some of the material on which one bases the initial presumption is derived from the book analyzed -- but that is part and parcel of the process of coming to the conclusion s presumed The Biblical data, though somewhat suspect, is capable of being analyzed and its relative validity established -- and that analysis functions to guide and support the attempt to understand the deity behind the data.

Polycarp
11-23-2003, 04:33 PM
Sorry for abandoning this thread, I've been away working, without Internet access to speak of, for two weeks. I had no clue that the horse still has vital signs. ;)

Love is not a feeling; it's an act of the will. (http://www.joyunspeakable.com/displayTab.php3?tabPathId=1788)

And however banal you may find that Christian song (personally, I think it's well done, and one of the few examples of"contemporary Christian music) I care to listen to), the underlying point that true love is not merly an emotion but an underlying commitment to act in a loving way is, I think, valid. All else leaves you at the mercy of glandular secretions and fatigue poisons.

And, FWIW, in making comments of the sort "God is love," nearly everyone using the phrase does not imply identity but rather something on the order of "There exists a spiritual entity of immeasurable power and wisdom, and a prime characteristic of this entity is love." (The fun, of course, comes in defining what one might mean by "a spiritual entity.")

As Xenophon noted, it has not been my intention in any religious witnessing to proclaim my possession of Absolute Truth to which everyoine else should adhere, but to report, for the benefit of others and in keeping with myLord's commandment, what I believe to be true on the basis of my own experiences. My point in bringing up Gaudere is that a rational person with a different set of evaluative criteria and a different set of experiences can come to a quite contrary opinion to mine. I do not intend to sound supercilious or insistent that my system is inherently a rigorously logical one -- it flows from my own evaluation of my own grasp of critical discipline combined with my own experiences and the sense that there is Something beyond myself causing those experiences.


Barry did, as is probably obvious to most people, hit on a weakness in my reasoning -- but IMHO it's one that is resoluble. If I understand his argument correctly, he is saying that I am founding my theological beliefs and ethics predominantly on what I find in the Bible, and then critiquing the Bible based on those theological beliefs and ethics, which would certainly be circular reasoning.

However, he misses a couple of elements in arriving at this conclusion. First is that (as I hope is obvious) I do not regard the Bible as the inerrant Word of God trundled down from heaven by a bevy of archangels, but as a collection of ancient literature dealing largely with the religious beliefs of a particular people and then the writings of an offshoot group to which I and about a billion other people belong.

Now, allow for the sake of argument here that we accept the validity of my evaluation that evidence does strongly suggest the existence of the God of Whom that book purports to speak. (This is a highly debatable presumption, as numerous other threads have discussed -- but for the sake of defending the internal consistency of my system, I'm asking that it be presumed in analyzing that consistency, only, that a person such as myself might put together personal experience, the weight of authority, and reason to sensibly arrive at that conclusion. Whether it's a valid conclusion is grist for a separate series of posts.) Take note that we are not presuming any characteristics here, just the bare fact of existence.

Now, given that presumption, it becomes possible to work with the data at hand to analyze the relative validity of the evidence in light of what can be posited about the entity it purports to describe. First, one employs pyschology rationally to evaluate personal experience. As noted, I grant that there does exist a Jamesian will to believe and that I do have a touch of it. (If I were to produce a music video, I'd have a singer performing "A Reason to Believe" to (apparently) someone sitting in an easy chair whose back is to the camera, and at the end of the song have the camera pan to show a Bible propped up in the chair. :))

Second, one can use the techniqaues of textual criticism of paleographic documents on the Bible quite as well as on any other collection of ancient documents. Studying Herodotus, one can accept his description of the existence, acts, and character of a Spartan king (subject to support or refutation from other ancient material) without swallowing whole hog his straightfaced reportage about the Hyperboreans or the Blennyes. The same sort of analytical techniques suggests the historicity of the court reportage of David's monarchy without requiring Noah's Flood or Jonah's making his home in a fish's abdomen.

As noted previously, such an analysis is possible with regard to the acts and syaings of Jesus as well. We have at our disposal four reports, dated from 35 to 65 years after His ministry, each of them showing clear evidence of a particular olemic slant. The sources themselves concur in showing him as regularly teaching in parables, prone to the use of metaphor, and tending to hyperbole. Therefore, it's only rasonable to read material that appears to be parabolic or hyperbolic, or to use symbolic language, as being exactly that. As I commented four years ago on this board, that Jesus referred to Adam does not establish the latter's historicity any more than David B. saying what he did at sunset means that he believes in a geocentric, flat earth.

Using this methodology, one can arrive at a reasonably sound, if empirically derived and subject to refinement, identification of what Jesus actually said and what import to place on each utterance. This then becomes a guide to the nature of the God previously postulated.

This is in no way circular except insofar as some of the material on which one bases the initial presumption is derived from the book analyzed -- but that is part and parcel of the process of coming to the conclusion s presumed The Biblical data, though somewhat suspect, is capable of being analyzed and its relative validity established -- and that analysis functions to guide and support the attempt to understand the deity behind the data.

badchad
11-23-2003, 08:44 PM
Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. We left off here:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, everyone seems to be hung up on the divorce/adultery passages, so let me address that.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


What and ignore all that stuff about :


Jesus burning people in a lake of fire.

People being damned for unbelief.

Saving for retirement.

Following the law.

How you determine which parts of Jesusí speech is hyperbole.

What you think hell is like.

Why you criticize fundamentalists for judging people with the exact same motives you do.

How you define ďpredominantlyĒ as in; scripture predominantly describes god as loving and forgiving.

The probability of your personal miracle.

How reliable the gospel writers were.

Christianís problem with evil.

How we can grow in heaven without pain yet why pain is necessary on earth for growth.

Why you let Paul who you described as an idjit trump the teachings of Jesus while previously stating that you think Jesus should trump the rest of the bibleÖ



quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The literal text is "anyone who puts away his wife [and remarries] commits adultery/makes her an adulterer." Contextually, we have to examine the situation in the culture of the time. A woman was not a free citizen (wealthy widow being the sole exception) but participated in the social fabric through her role as daughter (if unmarried), wife (if married), or mother of one or more sons (if a widow). The man with potestas (authority or power) was her means of support. A man was able to issue a bill of divorcement against an unsatisfactory wife -- a shrew, barren, etc. Men being men, however, it was easy for some men to put away their aging wives and take a new, prettier and younger wife that had had piqued their desires, by declaring his wife suddenly "unsatisfactory" and divorcing her. This left her resourceless and at a disadvantage in competing for the few single men of her age. It was this practice which Jesus's teaching evidently condemned.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


So did I call it or what:

ďI think this is the part where you explain that while Jesus did command against the above things he really didnít mean it.Ē

Anyway Iíll play along. First if the above is what Jesusí teaching really meant he should have and probably would have said so, omnisciently knowing it would save future people a lot of guilt, grief and suffering. Otherwise unless you have something *from Jesus* backing up that what he said regarding divorce is not what he meant please cite it, otherwise I think it would be slightly more honest to admit a lot less certainty in your ability to read between the lines of the gospel writers, considerably more honest if you just admit you made the whole thing up or copied someone who did.

The above should stand on itís own but doesnít need to. See you forgot (or on purposely neglected) to mention the part where Jesus talks about marrying a divorced woman being adultery also.


Luke 16:18
Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


Now if Jesusí sole concern was with the welfare of the ďput awayĒ woman he would have encouraged other men to marry her after she was dumped, would he not?

Yes he would.

If his concern was for her to be supported he would not have admonished the act of marrying her by calling it adultery right?

No he wouldnít.

I trust your responses to my other points will be stronger. You do have responses to them right?

godzillatemple
11-24-2003, 07:26 AM
Poly: Thank you for the well written (albeit late) response. We've wasted a lot of bandwidth arguing in another thread about this, but without your participation it all seemed rather moot to me.

As I've mentioned before, I do not claim any expertise in the "textual criticism of paleographic documents" of which you spoke, and I therefore cannot debate whether or not (a) such techniques are valid in general and/or (b) whether you have applied them accurately. Xenophon kept trying to make a comparison between analyzing the Bible and analyzing the writing of Ghandi, which I felt was clearly an invalid analogy (especially since we know for a fact that Ghandi lived and was the author of what is ascribed to his name, whereas we have little empircal evidence that Jesus even existed as a historical person, let alone whether he actually said or did anything he is alleged to have said and done). I remain skeptical that "textual criticism of paleographic documents" can be effective when there is a good possibility the text in question is entirely a work of fiction in the first place, but again, this is not a field in which I claim any expertise whatseover.

Having said that, I just have one question for you, and then I'm done. You've stated that you have a set of beliefs regarding God, Jesus, and the teachings contained in the Bible. These beliefs include such things (if I remember correctly) as the fact that God is love, that Jesus would never condemn sinners to an eternity of suffering, that it really is all right to marry a divorced woman under certain circumstances, etc.

My question to you is whether you held these beliefs before engaging in the scholarly analysis you decribed above, or whether your analysis led to your beliefs. In other words, did your analysis form the basis of your beliefs or merely confirm them? In particular, did you find any surprises during your analysis that forced you to change something you previously believed, or did your analysis support everything you believed? And were there any passages that could legitimately (according to your analysis) have been interpreted more than one way, but which you chose to interpret in a way that matched your existing beliefs, or did your analysis only admit to one interpretation in all cases?

Regards,

Barry

xenophon41
11-24-2003, 10:23 AM
While we wait for Polyís reply to the questions concerning him specifically, let me respond (yet again) to the objections that were directed to a detail in the other thread (which was not about Poly specifically).

The point, gzt, of the ďMahatmismĒ construct, is to explore the demands consistency dictates when applying contextual analysis to the collection of texts forming the philosophical or theological basis of any belief system, to illustrate that inconsistencies are inherent to such an extensive textual base (which is what made the comprehensive writings and histories of Gandhi attractive to me as a comparative example), to show that such inconsistencies are neither caused nor exacerbated by contextualism, but instead to show that these inevitable inconsistencies can only be resolved by the believer through a process of testing textual information against what is known about the particular text, and ultimately against the core tenets of the system.I hoped to make it clear that objections to the results of such an approach to understanding cannot with any validity be criticized on the basis of the core beliefs of the analyst (specifically, on a Christian belief that Christ is God or a Mahatmist belief in Gandhi-as-avatar), but only on the basis of the accuracy of the actual tests conducted.

Your objection to the analogy on the basis of the certainty of Gandhiís existence versus Christís is itself invalid, for two reasons.

First, one must also accept on faith that the Gandhi known and portrayed by historians and represented by the writings which bear his name as author is a correct and true reflection of the actual person. Sure, you can reasonably place a higher probability on the non-fictionality of Gandhi than on the non-fictionality of Christ (or of Charlemagne, or Saladin, or any other historical icon), but no logical certainty can be supported.

Second, the starting point of textual criticism is acceptance of the importance of the text(s) being criticized, not on the subject of the texts. One could postulate Christ as a fictional rabbi invented by Paul as the nucleus for a religion and promoted psuedonymously by his confederates and yet have the same starting points for analysis as a believing Christian.



Now, from the picayune to the superciliousÖ badchadís sticking point, I believe, is the insistence that a belief in the divinity of Christ somehow requires a corresponding belief that none of the reported teachings of Christ the rabbi could possibly require consideration on the part of future Christians due to the communicative perfection of Christ the Lord. This assertion is frankly stunning in the scope of its underlying assumptions regarding free will, human perfectability and even liguistic universalities. I canít wait to be enlightened as to how bc can support a belief that such inerrant messages could be conveyed indirectly to modern readers through the recording techniques of past millenia, while simultaneously deriding as foolish the belief that a simpler message might be conveyed directly to anyone willing to receive it. Such mental agility is impressive, to say the least.

godzillatemple
11-24-2003, 10:44 AM
Xenophon: You'll pardon me, I hope, if I refuse to play your games any more. Your attitude, whether here in the Pit or over in GD where you started your other thread, is not conducive to a rational discussion (I can't BELIEVE you had the temerity to refer to me as "snide"). Let's just leave it at the fact that I happen to find your arguments wholly unconvincing and completely unrelated to the issue actually being discussed in this thread, and really have no desire to deal with you on the topic any further.

I have asked Poly a question that I feel is crucial to the issue being discussed. Hopefully, he will choose to respond in an honest manner. However, since this entire thread is addressed to Poly in the first place, I don't think he needs you to "answer" for him.

Barry

Polycarp
11-24-2003, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by godzillatemple

My question to you is whether you held these beliefs before engaging in the scholarly analysis you decribed above, or whether your analysis led to your beliefs. In other words, did your analysis form the basis of your beliefs or merely confirm them? In particular, did you find any surprises during your analysis that forced you to change something you previously believed, or did your analysis support everything you believed? And were there any passages that could legitimately (according to your analysis) have been interpreted more than one way, but which you chose to interpret in a way that matched your existing beliefs, or did your analysis only admit to one interpretation in all cases?

Regards,

Barry

That's a fair and well-phrased question, Barry, which calls for an honest and clear-cut answer.

Unfortunately, I don't have one.

I was raised a Methodist, in a moderate northern church that was neither hellfire-and-brimstone nor gung-ho-for-social-justice. Liturgically, there was quite a bit of focus on Jesus's Summary of the Law (AKA the Two Royal Commandments/what Hillel said on one leg). At the same time, there was a lot of preaching done from a legalistic standpoint.

Being something of a precisionist, I tended to get very strongly into the "dem's Da Roolz" point of view.

In college, I had two religion courses that influenced me, one from Fr. James Kavanaugh and one on Protestantism that introduced me to Fletcher's Situation Ethics, then recently published and highly controversial.

The net result was a slowly dawning realization that the Christian ethics I'd been taught, and considered proper to practice, suffered from an unresolved dichotomy

It's only been in the last ten years that I realized that the essential thing was to employ Jesus's definition of what was most important to do and let that lead me where it would, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, and took my present stance.

Most of the study in scholarship preceded this -- but it was the impact of meeting my son that caused me to realize that I needed to resolve the dichotomy for myself and take a stand, come what may.

That's not a yes-or-no answer to your question -- but it's the only honest answer I can give.

xenophon41
11-24-2003, 03:35 PM
originally from godzillatemple:

You'll pardon me, I hope, if I refuse to play your games any more. Your attitude, whether here in the Pit or over in GD where you started your other thread, is not conducive to a rational discussion...
The basis you've claimed for avoiding further discussion with me seems unsubstantiated by evidence (and belied by the rational participation of others in that thread). But it is certainly an unanswerable assertion.

Thank you for the request, but regretfully your summary judgement against my arguments will have to stand without my indulgence. Weíll both recover I'm sure.

badchad
11-25-2003, 12:36 AM
Polycarp:

That's a fair and well-phrased question, Barry, which calls for an honest and clear-cut answer.

Unfortunately, I don't have one.
That figures.

Poly ever wonder why I donít like you? You couldnít give a straight answer to a hard question if you life, make that your soul, depended on it.

This is the thread that you asked me to create and now you go on avoiding me and giving BS answers to Barry. Let me quote you again:

Start a thread and I will answer specific questions and points. Feel free to quote your previous questions -- but I will not re-address linked multipage threads; I want specific points on which you see inconsistency and error.
Note that you asked me for specifics. Iíve been giving specifics a plenty and you pass it off as nit picking. You gave your ďtextual analysisĒ of why Jesus allows for divorce in spite of what he said in the bible, to which I responded and trumped you good (if I do say so myself) yet you just ignored the criticism and still maintain that your contextual analysis has merit, in spite of your already confessing that you rationalize to a far greater extent than you are willing to admit even to yourself. You still wonít state what your beliefs are on hell, which I think is because it can only lead you down one of three roads, which I outlined earlier, none of which you seem willing to face. Same with all the other issues I reposted above.

So Iíll ask you again, to answer the questions that you say you can and admit (clearly) where you canít.

Hereís a hint on how. Donít do a monologue. Rather cut and past my questions in front of you and answer them one at a time, or admit where you canít.

The Flying Dutchman
11-25-2003, 09:18 AM
badchad
Polycarp:



quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
That's a fair and well-phrased question, Barry, which calls for an honest and clear-cut answer.

Unfortunately, I don't have one.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


That figures.

Poly ever wonder why I donít like you? You couldnít give a straight answer to a hard question if you life, make that your soul, depended on it.

You know, I find the above post dishonest and clearly misrepresentative of the nature of Poly's response to Barry. It is somewhat unfortunate that Polycarp did say that he did not have an honest and clearcut answer but then he continued with an honest and clearcut answer which you simply ignored. Perhaps what Polycarp meant was that nothing he could say would be clear enough to you or perceived as honest.

I can understand why you find Polycarp so frustrating, because he doesn't fit the mold for an extremely devout Christian that can be easily criticised in light of the modern western morality often exemplified on the SDMB. That's why you don't like him. He's one vocal Christian that you just can't put down.

badchad
11-27-2003, 09:40 PM
Grienspace:

You know, I find the above post dishonest and clearly misrepresentative of the nature of Poly's response to Barry.
I donít.

It is somewhat unfortunate that Polycarp did say that he did not have an honest and clearcut answer but then he continued with an honest and clearcut answer which you simply ignored. Perhaps what Polycarp meant was that nothing he could say would be clear enough to you or perceived as honest.
Oh, come on. Poly knew where Barry was going. If Poly responded that he was not surprised by any teachings of Jesus due to his ďcontextual analysisĒ it would have been further objective evidence that he was only finding what he wanted too, with said ďanalysisĒ and using that ďanalysisĒ as a justification to support his modern day liberalism.

I can understand why you find Polycarp so frustrating, because he doesn't fit the mold for an extremely devout Christian that can be easily criticised in light of the modern western morality often exemplified on the SDMB. That's why you don't like him. He's one vocal Christian that you just can't put down.
I think thatís patently false as well. Poly is one vocal Christian who I put down more than any other. While I admit that Polyís arguments are quite slippery I genuinely enjoy the challenge. Criticizing fundamentalists is like shooting an already dead horse while with Poly itís more like shooting a snake in the bottom of a bucket, he can and does wiggle a lot but heís not going anywhere.

I think Poly is smarter than he makes out, I think he knows I and others have his number and if he were to honestly finish our discussion he would be in a world of cognitive dissonance hurt. Also in case you hadnít noticed I donít criticize him in the light of modern western morality. I criticize in the glorious light of the bible and the specific teachings of Jesus. The facts are he claims his morality is that of Jesus as noted in the gospels when it isnít, its modern day liberalism. As I have said before, heís a secular humanist in Christian drag.

iampunha
11-28-2003, 01:11 AM
Two quick comments.

Poly, you said: "That's a fair and well-phrased question, Barry, which calls for an honest and clear-cut answer.

Unfortunately, I don't have one."

Would it be fair to say that what you meant by this, as opposed to what one might read into it if one were deliberately looking to misrepresent you, is that your answer, while it is certainly honest, is not clear-cut in that you didn't do one thing first and then the other, but rather had a bit of one with a bit of the other, or some other such combination? It looks to me, from reading this except and then continuing to read the rest of your post to figure out what you mean from what you've said (as opposed to going in looking for something and finding it wherever one wishes to find it), that it is the case that you neither wholly:

1. Completely held these beliefs before engaging in the scholarly analysis you decribed above, or;

2. your analysis led to your beliefs

but rather that it was a combination of those factors and maybe others as well, many or some or all of which you might not have planned on happening to you( I'm sure you'll share my amusement at the idea of planning necessarily having anything to do with spiritual growth:D)

I would be rather surprised if there were a useful non-generalized answer to a religious question that was clear cut. There's a reason we're not much further along in this than we were several thousand years ago. Religion is by its very nature not clear-cut, and in some cases not altogether honest (most visible in the contentious and rather backstabbing mythologies of some cultures). The only thing that's changed is the names.

Secondly, badchad, that 1-900 number you have isn't to Polycarp's hotline;)

Polycarp
11-28-2003, 09:51 AM
Exactly, 'punha, and thanks for spelling it out more clearly than I did. Contrary to an unewarned reputation, I don't always think things out clearly -- and I was living with an unexamined inherent contradiction until "my nose was forced into it" and I was compelled by circumstances to think it through and take a stance. So while I would willingly have answered Barry's question directly, the circumstances were such that neither proposed answer was quite valid -- Barry was asking, in more polite terms, if I adopted an ethics that my researches demanded of me, or if I rationalized a theological underpinning for ethics that I felt comfortable with. And neither is quite the truth, for reasons I explained.

As for the OP, he has made it quite clear, both here and in a GQ thread, that he is not seeking answers to how I feel I can legitimately hold the views I do, but rather attempting to find ways to attack me. As such, I personally consider him to be in violation of Rule #1, though it is of course the decision of the Admins. as to whether that is the case. But I feel that I have answered his questions, perhaps not in the point-by-point itemized list he asked, but with generalized statements on mymethodology and on Jesus's rhetorical usages that make clear what my answers to any point-by-point list would be. And given his announced intent, further responses directly addressing him would be a wate of everyone's time.

Accordingly, unless the Mods. see a reason to keep this thread open, I request its closure.

badchad
11-28-2003, 10:16 AM
Polycarp:

Barry was asking, in more polite terms, if I adopted an ethics that my researches demanded of me, or if I rationalized a theological underpinning for ethics that I felt comfortable with. And neither is quite the truth, for reasons I explained.
To quote Barry:


Quoting from Barry:
In particular, did you find any surprises during your analysis that forced you to change something you previously believed, or did your analysis support everything you believed? And were there any passages that could legitimately (according to your analysis) have been interpreted more than one way, but which you chose to interpret in a way that matched your existing beliefs, or did your analysis only admit to one interpretation in all cases?
He asked were there any surprises, or were you biased in all cases? You could have answered that yes or no and then told us it was a mixed bag and given an estimate of a percentage of how often you were surprised. Since you answered how you did, I think it ups the likelihood that you were surprised very little if ever and this would strengthen Barryís point.

As for the OP, he has made it quite clear, both here and in a GQ thread, that he is not seeking answers to how I feel I can legitimately hold the views I do, but rather attempting to find ways to attack me.
Not true. I am merely asking questions. After your having ignored enough of them while giving the pretense of having the answers Iím just motivated to reiterate that you aren't answering.

But I feel that I have answered his questions, perhaps not in the point-by-point itemized list he asked, but with generalized statements on mymethodology and on Jesus's rhetorical usages that make clear what my answers to any point-by-point list would be.
Another hint. Just do it in a point by point manner. ITíS HOW YOU SAID YOU WOULD.

Start a thread and I will answer specific questions and points. Feel free to quote your previous questions -- but I will not re-address linked multipage threads; I want specific points on which you see inconsistency and error.
See above, see ďspecific points.Ē

And given his announced intent, further responses directly addressing him would be a wate of everyone's time.
Hey, if you canít do it just say so.

Accordingly, unless the Mods. see a reason to keep this thread open, I request its closure.
Yeah, Iíll bet.

Coldfire
11-28-2003, 10:58 AM
I think 7 pages will do. Don't have time to read it all, but I bet the matter has been discussed, ad infinitum.

Closed.