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  1. #196
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    Post #177 Gary -- "And where were the church fathers then? Where was the church Father?"

    You mean what happened to Catholic policy? See my next reply (178). You mean what happened to the people who pointed out that what the tyrannical governments were doing was wrong? They died. The tyrannical governments killed them along with every other dissenting voice.

    Where was the church Father, capital F? He was on the throne, in control, same as always. Why didn't he step in and zap Stalin and the boys? It has to do with free will. God allows mankind to make its own choices (like setting up a form of government predicated on atheism), then he lets them examine the consequences.

    Post #178 Maus -- "Why would the church change to the will of men if God was right the first time around?"

    Obviously because the church leaders at the time were more afraid of men that would hurt them than a God who disapproved of their actions. Yes, the Catholic church colluded with the Nazis. Some of the Protestant leaders did too. What happened to the Protestant leaders who spoke out against Hitler? They died. What happened to the christians who hid Jews in their attics? If they were found out, they died. That's the thing with faith. I've already said it. Some believe more than others. You know what? You get to find out who believes what when the answer to standing up for Biblical doctrine is followed by those words -- "they died".

    "Why does the Vatacin hide so many documents?"

    If the Vatican is trying to conceal all of the Gnostic books of the third and fourth centuries then they need to get on the ball, they missed about three hundred of them. But those were written hundreds of years after the fact. The eyewitness accounts are in the Bible. The dispatches from Roman governors of the era corroborate that christians believed Jesus had risen from the dead and that he was God in the flesh.

    "Ok, I'm a conspiracy theorist."

    I know, I know, the catholics and there priest/ninjas going around fomenting coverups and killing the one guy who can proove that Jesus was the mass hallucination of a bunch of drunk Jews. First off, I trust you can tell the difference between reality and fiction. Second, if you ever find out that there really are 'priest/ninjas', tell me. I want to be one. I mean how cool would that be?


    Okay, the wife is getting mad. More tomorrow.

  2. #197
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    I love all of your evidence Chefie, but the same can be said for a large number of other religions. Just because a book (the Bible, the Koran, Aztec writings, etc) Claims a palce is where they said it would be does not support a God. It supports that the author of the book stated a fact, but many facts have been exagerated over time.

    Was Brian one of those Jesuses?

    I'd be interested to see the 'prophecies' that are reported truths from the Bible. Nostrodamus could be 100% accurate if you don't take what was said literally. Anyone could claim to predict the future if you're vague enough and leave it up to the person looking back to see if you were right and twisting the data to support the prediction. That's how Nostradamus works.

    As for 'my father believes therefore I believe' isn't a seller for me. My father didn't believe, but he also didn't have any desire to seek answers. His parents and grandparents and for generations beyond back to the begining of time never believed in 'God'. They were Native Americans and belived in communing with Nature and an abundance of spiritual entities. God fearing Christians tried to convert them, failed, killed most of them off, felt bad for killing them and shoved the remainder of the heathens onto reservations. Does that make them more right just because they were able to win a war and destory the history of their religon?

    Same with the Aztec, Tolmecs, and all other Mexican and South American Indians. The religion of Christianity was spread to the heathens by force. Belive in our God or Die. Then, oh, we're sorry about that. Too bad your history was lost and we destoryed all your idols. You can have our God. Suddenly you have a new following by force.

    SO my question is this, If all Chatholics were killed off by the Hindu, the Vatacin destroyed and all evidence of the 'Bible' lost forever, would your childern start to believe in Shiva, et al because their religion lost? How can one religion win out by force? The Hindu never forced anyone new into their religion. They never forced a 'spreading' of the word like Christians. How can a God imposed on others by force be taken seriously?

  3. #198
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironchef texmex
    "Why does the Vatacin hide so many documents?"

    If the Vatican is trying to conceal all of the Gnostic books of the third and fourth centuries then they need to get on the ball, they missed about three hundred of them. But those were written hundreds of years after the fact. The eyewitness accounts are in the Bible. The dispatches from Roman governors of the era corroborate that christians believed Jesus had risen from the dead and that he was God in the flesh.
    It's been reported that over 100 books for the Bible were written during the time of Jesus. Only those 'most Godly' were included in the Bible. The 'other' books were intentionally left out. Why? Jesus was a man. That much I believe. He existed. He died. I question why he died though as many of the 'other' books were after his supposed death.

    Here's another question. If the 'Word' of God has evolved over time without input from 'God', doesn't that make the Bible man's word and not God's? Man did, after all, put the words down into the Bible and they've been translated and retranslated many times over. Even the 'word of mouth' translations would have grown over time as many stories do.

    Simple example. I push a coworker and say 'loser'. By the end of the day I assulted the coworker, put him in the hospital, and insulted his mother, his family, even his dog.

    Is it not possible that with each retelling of the 'Word of God' his Word went from simple explantion of how nature works through God and got greater and greater until it was an omnipotent God who was everywhere and everything? We're talking about 4-5 thousand years ago when man was at the mercy of nature and everything was 'God'. With advances in science, medicine, and quality of life, God/nature doesn't dictate our lives anymore. The 'Word' has lost its potency for many, even those who attend Church regularly.

  4. #199
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    You sound so learned, Ironchef. But honestly, it does totally amaze me that you believe all of this.

    I was actually referring to the Pope during WWII. Free will? That's is a sad excuse for not opposing genocide. I believe that the recently deceased Pope recognized that. But it seems to me that if the Pope truly has God's ear, he would have heard that 6 million jews among the millions of other innocents were being gased. Or was God on vacation? Maybe he was helping another group on some other planet in the universe and he just couldn't get back on time to save the children as they were shoved into the ovens?
    Last edited by Gary Wassner; April 12th, 2005 at 05:24 PM.

  5. #200
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    God was busy with a sportings event.

    Ok, I'm kidding!

    I can believe that Ironchef has so much conviction. When you're raised in the church and all research is done from that slant, the research is sought to prove rather than disprove.

    What happens is people like us pop up and force difficult questions and persinally, chefie, I'm impressed with your ability to answer with such volumns of information. Truly amazed!

    I'm still glad I invited you over here.

  6. #201
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    First, a question, Tex. Why do you so assiduously avoid my questions?They’re pretty straightforward, aren’t they?

    I should note, before fully responding, the difference between rationalization, where the conclusion is taken as given, and one then selectively searches for justifications afterward, and reasoning, where the conclusion is either unknown or suspended, and one is forced to go through the labourious process of sifting through all the possible justifications to see where they lead without any help from things like confirmation bias, socialization, and so on. The one uses a ‘certainty first’ method, whereas the other uses a ‘doubt first’ method. Since it’s impossible to do all this work on one’s own, we’re forced to rely on our claim-making institutions - to trust in effect. Now I think it’s plain that the former method has a horrible track record, even though it is the hardwired default method of all us humans - something to be overcome, I would say. But what can’t be debated is the stunning success of the latter method, as difficult as we humans find it.

    It’s an accomplishment. Which is why it took us so long to find our way to science.

    You do admit, Tex, that you’re relying on the first method, that you start with your conclusion, which I gather is something like ‘Jesus is the only way to heaven,’ and then cast about after the fact for your justifications?


    Metaphysical Evidence

    People have been resuscitated after several minutes of flatline and told us things that occurred while they were clinically dead: words spoken, physical descriptions of people that came and went, even people, words, and events, from elsewhere as they claimed to "float" around, that were later verified accurate. They have given us this picture of the first events after death-
    Keep in mind that more books have been written on death and dying than any other single subject - from an evolutionary perspective, individual death is enemy # 1, so it should come as no surprise that we have a hardwired propensity to be somewhat concerned with it. This is only to point that we humans, who are undoubtedly rationalizing creatures, have a tremendous incentive to rationalize when it comes to death. It generally terrifies us.

    So the question here is simply one of what the most rational explanation of NDE’s might be.
    1) that we have no real idea as of yet.
    2) that they are evidence of an (not necessarily Christian) afterlife utterly at odds with our present understanding of nature, wherein consciousness is a product of brain function (which is why Aspirins work when you take them).
    3) that it’s a common experiential response to the neurophysiological trauma of near death.

    The OBE’s that some report to experience as a component of their NDE’s I’m inclined to dismiss altogether, given that they can now be reliably induced using transcranial magnetic stimulation - they’re a kind of hallucination. But to avoid getting drawn into a fruitless debate over anecdotal evidence (which is typically excluded from science because of its notorious unreliability) I’m willing to take a draw on this one.

    You tell me what the most rational conclusion to draw is?

    Prophetic Evidence

    2,000 and counting. Nostradamus gets a third of his (vaguely) right and people still can't stop scouring over his words. The Bible isn't one out of three, it's a perfect 2,000 for 2,000, and that with specific events that were verifiably written down long before they ever took place.
    The Principle of Interpretative Underdetermination. Think about, ‘legalese’ is a form of English purported designed to shut down ambiguity, and the lawyers are still able to split hairs! The fact of the matter is, the more ancient the text, the allusive the text, the more translated and transliterated, the more interpretative permutations one can rationalize. To say that the Bible is batting 1000 in the prophecy department is literally like claiming one has stumbled across the one and only interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet!This is one of the areas where the psychology of human cognition really generates a lot of mischief. On the one hand, confirmation bias leads us to see what we want to see, and on the other hand, the ‘invisibility of ignorance’ leads us to think no other possible interpretations could exist, when in fact, the number is actually inexhaustible - which is precisely why some argue that Nostradamus is 100% correct.

    The fact is, our inability to ever convincingly nail down such cryptic texts makes it impossible to say any of their prophecies are correct. And given the miserable track record of psychics and astrologers at the horse races, never mind the Stock Market, it seems safe to assume that anyone claiming to have definite knowledge of an otherwise inaccessible future is either a charlatan or a victim of wishful thinking.

    Once again, we don’t know.

    The Archaeological Evidence

    Everytime the Bible gives us enough that we can find a spot and dig there, we find exactly what the Bible told us we were going to find, no matter how preposterous it looks (people covered under volcanic ash where there is no volcano).
    There’s plenty of reliable ancient texts out there. The Bible is most assuredly not 100% correct - it simply can’t be, given that it seems to be internally inconsistent on several points. For instance, what were Christ’s last words on the Cross? But if you conveniently forget the principle of interpretive underdetermination, I suppose you can make the Bible match the facts if you have to, much as many tout the mistranslation of ‘seven days’ from indeterminate ‘ages’ when faced by the overwhelming evidence of evolution, geology, archaology, genetics, and so on.

    What I find here is the curious assumption that underwrites the argument, a kind of optimistic induction, where the historical accuracy of the Bible is taken to translate into the metaphysical accuracy of the Bible with regards to a all powerful, infinite being who pouts like a finite human, murders like a finite human, takes sides like a finite human, hates like a finite human, makes threats like a finite human, and yes, loves like a finite human. Given the extraordinary transcendental claims made by the Bible, I think the sober thing to do would be to look at it the way we look at all ancient documents that make such extraordinary claims (since it seems our ancestors found such claim-making irresistable), as a product of its times, expressing the hopes and hatreds of its authors.

    The Historical Evidence

    Back in college I did a research paper on the Jesuses. That's right. Plural. From a period of around 50 BC to 70 AD a total of 27 different people claimed to be the long awaited messiah with enough clamor to at least merit a footnote in history. 26 were practically carbon copies of one another "Here I am, I'm the warrior messiah that's going to lead you in conquest over the Romans". 26 dead. 26 forgotten. Somewhere in the middle of the pack chronologically, Jesus of Nazerith made the claim as well. But his message was 180 degrees different from the rest. He said that the eternal kingdom prophecied back in Isaiah was a kingdom of the spirit, not anything as petty as a revolt against Rome. He said he was God Himself come down to die physically, so that they would never have to die spiritually. Then, after he died, rather than scattering like the rest of the followers of so-called messiahs, Jesus' followers said that he was back from the dead, that they'd seen him, that he had proved he was God, and that they were willing to die themselves to spread that message to others.
    The Jesus Sweepstakes argument. How’s this for a more conservative explanation: in an age filled with messianic delusion (by Tex’s own account 25 of them were plainly delusional), the one with the most original marketing pitch took. You know what they say, throw enough crap at a wall...

    Actually the 25 also give grounds for what’s called a pessimistic induction: either we can assume that Jesus was simply one more delusional enthusiast, or we can assume that he was the son of the all-powerful transcendent creator of the universe. You tell me which claim is the most outlandish.

    The Experiential Evidence

    My father, my sister, me. And for me, that's the big one.
    This might sound harsh but there’s people blowing themselves up, whipping themselves with scourges, and so on and so on, all on the basis of their personal experience. Like I said before, the feeling of rightness can just as easily indicate deception (where you feel you’re right when you’re not) as anything else. In other words, it’s not evidence at all.

  7. #202
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    Ironschef, you have every right to your faith, and I'm not arguing with that. But arguing for faith from evidence is an oxymoron, surely; and the evidence is kind of no better than, say, the evidence for the Odyssey (they did find Troy where Homer said it was).

    Ironchef wrote:
    And yet christianized nations tend to be the ones that allow free expression of various other religions while other types of governments just tend to jail/kill everybody. Isn't that odd?
    No, it's just a wrong assertion. Islam was traditionally exemplary in its tolerance towards other religions, accepting in Jerusalem all extant religions as reflections of the one God (remember that Christ is honoured as a prophet in Islam), whereas when the Crusaders arrived to "save" the Holy City they slaughtered everyone (and I mean everyone). It was Serbian Christians, remember, who slaughtered and raped Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s. And the US Government is presently being a bit problematic towards its minorities - especially Muslims. Christianity is, in its history or its present, no better nor worse than other religions in terms of tolerance; there isn't one (maybe Shintoism?) that doesn't have a bloody history, and many that have a bloody present.

    If the Vatican is trying to conceal all of the Gnostic books of the third and fourth centuries then they need to get on the ball, they missed about three hundred of them. But those were written hundreds of years after the fact. The eyewitness accounts are in the Bible. The dispatches from Roman governors of the era corroborate that christians believed Jesus had risen from the dead and that he was God in the flesh.
    It's well known and widely accepted by Biblical scholars that the Gospels are by no means eyewitness reports - they were written 100 years after the events. They have no less authority than the rejected texts (which were taken out of the Canon in Constantinople - sorry, I can't remember the dates, must have been in the first millenium). You can buy the Apocryphal Gospels and the Nag Hammadi - some of them are extraordinarily beautiful and radical texts, especially as far as woman are concerned. The Gnostics had women priests, and believed, as the Quakers do, that you could personally know God without the intervention of priests and the Church. This undermined the patriarchal authority of the Church, which is why they were persecuted and killed.

    With a total number of 2 billion people who check the christian box when polled, you can certainly expect that not everyone of the 2 billion is going to hold to the christian beliefs of mercy and love. But I've already posted answers to each one of your criticisms of the faith, so I won't repeat myself here. If, after reading them, you still question our (christians) intelligence or have some specific area that you think we won't respond to, then just let me know. Trust me, I'll respond.
    Ironchef, in this case I was very specifically speaking about Right Wing Fundamentalist Christianity, with some specific arguments about what they publicly profess, and I'm perfectly aware that sect, however powerful it is (it's running the US at the moment) doesn't represent all Christians. Just as, I might add, that image of the Mad Mullah is not representative of most Muslims.

  8. #203
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I don't think god tests us. I think that life is enough of a test. So I cannot understand the suffering we endure, particularly when true innocents are involved. I hear only excuses when I talk about this with a religious person. There is no reason why an omnipotent creature who is honestly good would want to see such terrible things happen. The only way to make sense of that is to rationalize it. Why create life? Life itself is a contradiction. We live knowing we will die. Our time is so limited to begin with. If we were born for a purpose, at least we should be allowed to live long enough to realize it.

    For me, the most compelling reason to disbelieve is the premature death and suffering of innocents. I cannot rationalize that away. It may help some to believe that God has a purpose and to say during those tragic moments that He must have had a greater purpose for that particular person, and that's why He took him prematurely. It doesn't help me. No excuses work. It's just plain tragic and there is no reason whatsoever.

  9. #204
    BookWyrm Archren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bakker
    The Jesus Sweepstakes argument. How’s this for a more conservative explanation: in an age filled with messianic delusion (by Tex’s own account 25 of them were plainly delusional), the one with the most original marketing pitch took. You know what they say, throw enough crap at a wall...
    Are you seriously saying that one guy standing up and saying "Hey, everyone be at peace and feel the mercy of God" is crap?

    That seems unecessarily rude, don't you think?

  10. #205
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Arch, let's keep our comments focused on the comments, not on the person making them. This thread is obviously interesting to many, and I know it's a controversial one, so we can't let it get personal if I am going keep it going.

    Scott's statement was not about the person here who made it, but about the statement itself.

  11. #206
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    Are you seriously saying that one guy standing up and saying "Hey, everyone be at peace and feel the mercy of God" is crap?
    Not that. The part about being the son of the almighty creator, and so the exclusive voice of a transcendent, unquestionable, moral authority. You are right though. At one time I used to be a devout believer, but those days and those beliefs have so little pull that I often forget how what I think are just irreverent jokes might strike the ears of believers.

  12. #207
    Witch of the Woods Miriamele's Avatar
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    You used to be a devout believer, Scott? That's interesting. I wouldn't have guessed it from your posts. It seems that many of us here who are the least enthusiastic about Christianity used to be devout believers at one time. I wonder if there is something in that.

  13. #208
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miriamele
    You used to be a devout believer, Scott? That's interesting. I wouldn't have guessed it from your posts. It seems that many of us here who are the least enthusiastic about Christianity used to be devout believers at one time. I wonder if there is something in that.
    I was a rabid atheist at seven. I'm rather less fixed in my beliefs these days. Getting older has made me less certain about a lot of things...

  14. #209
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    That's just not true. The Buddhists had their own private armies in opposition to the people and the state. The idea that buddhists never comitted the same atrocities as the other world religeons is a lie perpetuated by california buddhism.

    The basis of every religeon is peace and love, but someone always comes along and incites people to murder heathens. This is just a way of using faithful people for the advancement of selfish people.

    And besides I don't know what country you can base your opinion on. There isn't really a buddhist nation. China is Communist Aithiest Quasi Confusian with a splatter of buddhist. Japan is Shinto/Confucian/Budhist, Korea is Confucian/Christian, and most of southeast Asia is Confucian, Muslim or Athiest. Tibet is predominently buddhist but it's not a nation and anyway we don't know how the buddhists would act if they weren't so horribly outnumbered. Alot of it's history was violent like any other and they did fight china until it became obvious that they couldn't win through violent means. I think they just decided to use peaceful protest by default. One thing is for sure the Dahli Lama doesn't want his people to be free, just free of China. Take a look at the Free Tibet constitution and you'll see a system similar to Napolean's Republic (read: dictatorship).

    Quote Originally Posted by maus99
    Why aren't the Budhists right? They live in greater peace than our warring bretheren.

  15. #210
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    So then you've decided I'm crazy? Based on what evidence and what hypothesis does this support.

    And don't worry I'm not offended. You can think I'm crazy all you want.

    I also have no way of emoting this post to show that I'm not being sarcastic or angrily defensive. So I'll just tell you that I'm not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    I want to amend my previous comment about talking to God. Many people talk to God and that does not make them crazy at all. It's when they claim that God replied that I begin to worry.

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