I don't understand the faith people put in religious texts

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:25 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:man it's so great that the all knowing, all loving, all mighty creator of everything left things so open ended (and in so many different books, unless of course the bible is the only real one written by god). who decides what is to be taken literal in the bible (jesus was LITERALLY the son of God and he LITERALLY rose from the dead) and what's not supposed to be taken literally as it's written (pork is dirty, you can beat your wife if she talks back, you should kill your kids if they talk back to you, rape is cool as long as it's the wife/daughter of one of your enemies, etc... etc... etc...)? who decides which interpretation of taht is right? and who is doing it wrong? like, are baptists doing it wrong? or the catholics? surely the christian scientists can't be right? what about the pentacostals?

Well, like I say, the whole thing can be boiled down to 'love God and love your neighbour'. Everything else is just mere detail really - rather like a Maths textbook laying out a few basic axioms on page 1 and then producing thousands of pages of consequences that flow from that base.

Who decides which interpretation is right? Ultimately you do. Everyone has to decide for themselves and answer for themselves. The Baptists do it right when they follow the golden rule above - and wrong when they don't. The Catholics do it right when they follow that rule and wrong when they don't. So do the Christian Scientists and the Pentecostals. It's actually not as complicated as some try to make it out to be.

EVERYONE should need some sort of external validation for what they do and do not believe. the fact that people don't seek external validation of items before they believe them isn't a good thing.

This is exactly my point. The people that believe the Bible for the right reasons are the ones that believe it because it works - because it makes their own lives and the lives of the people around them richer and more satisfying. If they are making their own lives and the lives of the people they come into contact with more miserable, well, they need to put serious thought into whether they're interpreting the whole thing wrong.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:26 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:EVERYONE should need some sort of external validation for what they do and do not believe. the fact that people don't seek external validation of items before they believe them isn't a good thing. and it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be something that's needed.


For me, that external source of validation is God. More specifically, my personal experiences. However, you not believing in God, and your personal experiences being different from mine, kind of makes this a stopping point as far as discussion.

the fact that you're "being nice" and he's "being a big meanie head" has absolutely no bearing on your claims that the book isn't fiction.


No, it has bearing on me "being in the same boat" as him.

I really hate this sort of meta-discussion where we have to talk about what we just talked about because someone wasn't paying attention the first time around and/or wants to twist the other's words into something they're not so as to have something to attack.

I mean, getting back to the topic of this thread - understanding the faith people put in religious texts. Do you want to understand? Really? Or do you want to just argue that they're stupid and illogical or that religious texts are fiction?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:36 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:EVERYONE should need some sort of external validation for what they do and do not believe. the fact that people don't seek external validation of items before they believe them isn't a good thing. and it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be something that's needed.


For me, that external source of validation is God. More specifically, my personal experiences. However, you not believing in God, and your personal experiences being different from mine, kind of makes this a stopping point as far as discussion.

the fact that you're "being nice" and he's "being a big meanie head" has absolutely no bearing on your claims that the book isn't fiction.


No, it has bearing on me "being in the same boat" as him.

I really hate this sort of meta-discussion where we have to talk about what we just talked about because someone wasn't paying attention the first time around and/or wants to twist the other's words into something they're not so as to have something to attack.

I mean, getting back to the topic of this thread - understanding the faith people put in religious texts. Do you want to understand? Really? Or do you want to just argue that they're stupid and illogical or that religious texts are fiction?

part of understanding why someone would place faith in a religious text is understanding why they would put their faith in a work of fiction. or more importantly why they would put their faith in one work of fiction over another that could arguably teach the same lessons.

the matrix is a a movie that has a pretty big jesus/salvation allegory, do you think it's ok for someone to live their life based on the teachings of the matrix? especially if that means that they believe irrational/dangerous things and teach other people irrational/dangerous things?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:41 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Well, like I say, the whole thing can be boiled down to 'love God and love your neighbour'.


Can it? I mean, I know that it is claimed that the Bible can be boiled down to this, but can you actually do the boiling down to demonstrate that this is the case?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:47 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:part of understanding why someone would place faith in a religious text is understanding why they would put their faith in a work of fiction. or more importantly why they would put their faith in one work of fiction over another that could arguably teach the same lessons.


Well there's no rule whatsoever that to derive meaning from the Bible means you do not or cannot do the same with any other source. If the lessons are the same and are as personally valuable, it makes no difference where they are learned. I love fiction, actually. There's a lot of truth in fiction.

the matrix is a a movie that has a pretty big jesus/salvation allegory, do you think it's ok for someone to live their life based on the teachings of the matrix? especially if that means that they believe irrational/dangerous things and teach other people irrational/dangerous things?


I don't conflate irrational with dangerous.

And if you're believing in and teaching dangerous things, that in itself is no good, regardless of what those things may be.

If someone really does live their life based on what they've learned from the Matrix, well, good for them I guess? Although I think we'd be hard-pressed to find someone who really does this the way a person of religious faith does. And I would argue that that movie is much more limited in its scope and in core spiritual teachings than others and hasn't exactly withstood the test of time the way scripture has.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:53 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:part of understanding why someone would place faith in a religious text is understanding why they would put their faith in a work of fiction. or more importantly why they would put their faith in one work of fiction over another that could arguably teach the same lessons.

Presumably the answer is because the religious text they chose teaches that lesson in a way they can understand and relate to, whereas other ones didn't. I seriously doubt that if there's a God he cares which book we learnt the lesson from rather than actually how we lived our life. For example, you asked before how do we know which parts of the Bible to take literally and which parts not to. Well, the answer most likely is that if God didn't make it clear then it doesn't matter. Whether you believe Jesus literally or metaphorically rose from the dead will likely be irrelevant to however what happens to us after death pans out. Be a pretty fricking weird God who cared about that sort of thing - and he'd be breaking his own golden rule to boot.

Laserguy wrote:Can it? I mean, I know that it is claimed that the Bible can be boiled down to this, but can you actually do the boiling down to demonstrate that this is the case?

It's hard to do that other than to simply to quote the passage around it. It's clearly agreed that everything else - all the thousands of pages of Judaic wisdom that had been written to that point - it all pales into insignificance compared to this one simple edict:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:07 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:part of understanding why someone would place faith in a religious text is understanding why they would put their faith in a work of fiction. or more importantly why they would put their faith in one work of fiction over another that could arguably teach the same lessons.


Well there's no rule whatsoever that to derive meaning from the Bible means you do not or cannot do the same with any other source. If the lessons are the same and are as personally valuable, it makes no difference where they are learned. I love fiction, actually. There's a lot of truth in fiction.


learning a lesson, and placing their faith in a piece of literature are a bit different in scale.

when you personally read a book of fiction (that you know is a book of fiction) that has some moral type lessons and such (Aesop's fables perhaps?) you can say that you've learned the lessons from the book by allegory to reality, but you'd never say you put your faith in Aesop as the arbiter of morality.

when you read the bible, i doubt that you're treating it quite the same. and most people who do place their faith in the bible do so as the arbiter and only true source of morality (or at least, the bible is the primary source of morality, with their chosen church as the interpreter)

but if at their root, both books are works of fiction, then why is your absolute faith placed in one as the arbiter of morality and not the other?

Jave D wrote:
the matrix is a a movie that has a pretty big jesus/salvation allegory, do you think it's ok for someone to live their life based on the teachings of the matrix? especially if that means that they believe irrational/dangerous things and teach other people irrational/dangerous things?


I don't conflate irrational with dangerous.

And if you're believing in and teaching dangerous things, that in itself is no good, regardless of what those things may be.

If someone really does live their life based on what they've learned from the Matrix, well, good for them I guess? Although I think we'd be hard-pressed to find someone who really does this the way a person of religious faith does. And I would argue that that movie is much more limited in its scope and in core spiritual teachings than others and hasn't exactly withstood the test of time the way scripture has.

would you agree that the bible contains teachings that could be considered dangerous?

elasto wrote:
DSenette wrote:part of understanding why someone would place faith in a religious text is understanding why they would put their faith in a work of fiction. or more importantly why they would put their faith in one work of fiction over another that could arguably teach the same lessons.

Presumably the answer is because the religious text they chose teaches that lesson in a way they can understand and relate to, whereas other ones didn't. I seriously doubt that if there's a God he cares which book we learnt the lesson from rather than actually how we lived our life. For example, you asked before how do we know which parts of the Bible to take literally and which parts not to. Well, the answer most likely is that if God didn't make it clear then it doesn't matter. Most likely whether you believe Jesus literally rose from the dead or only metaphorically rose from the dead will be an insignificant part of how whatever happens to us after death pans out. Be a pretty fricking weird God who cared about that sort of thing - and he'd be breaking his own golden rule to boot.
then what's the point of the book in the first place? what's the point of the parts that are supposed to be the word of god (directly the word of god) but don't follow the golden rule? and if the parts that aren't clear, or easy to missread, or whatever aren't the important parts? then why are those the parts that seem to cause the most trouble? why are they the parts that most religions actually hold up as really freaking important (like being against homosexuality)?

elasto wrote:
Laserguy wrote:Can it? I mean, I know that it is claimed that the Bible can be boiled down to this, but can you actually do the boiling down to demonstrate that this is the case?

It's hard to do that other than to simply to quote the passage around it. Jesus clearly states that everything else - all the thousands of pages of Judaic wisdom that had been written to that point - it all pales into insignificance compared to this one simple edict:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
what about the part where jesus told everyone to follow every rule of god that has ever been in scripture before him? you know, the whole "every jot and title" bit?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:53 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:Then what's the point of the book in the first place? what's the point of the parts that are supposed to be the word of god (directly the word of god) but don't follow the golden rule? and if the parts that aren't clear, or easy to missread, or whatever aren't the important parts? then why are those the parts that seem to cause the most trouble? why are they the parts that most religions actually hold up as really freaking important (like being against homosexuality)?

Well, clearly the 'point of it' isn't what some Christians seem to think it is. But then again, they're only human. Most Christians seem to be WAY more hung up about sexual misdemeanours than I reckon God will turn out to be, for example.

There are lots of different reasons for the parts that don't follow the golden rule. Mostly it's to do with time, location or culture-specific advice (eg dietary advice) as opposed to any claim of 'morality' or 'immorality'. Other times it's simply an over-interpretation of the vocabulary being used (likely the case with homosexuality, for example). It's too big a subject to go into in one post though.

what about the part where jesus told everyone to follow every rule of god that has ever been in scripture before him? you know, the whole "every jot and title" bit?

Well, let's not turn this thread into debating every single line of scripture. That'd get tedious too! If you read the whole passage though, it's Jesus giving a whole shopping list of examples of how that commandment (love God and love your neighbour) got interpreted in the past - and how Jesus is saying the fact that Christians are saved by grace doesn't mean they get a free pass to be assholes from here on out - in fact he's demanding his followers double-down on being nice to others! He then goes on to paint all sorts of powerful pictures using clearly metaphorical language*. You can basically sum up this whole passage as saying 'however loving you thought God demanded you be - I'm not letting you off any of that - you gotta be even more so!' If he were walking around preaching today, no doubt he'd have a whole new set of examples of how people should be even kinder than the common conventions of today would dictate.


*for example this is the famous passage where he says 'if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; if your hand causes you to sin, chop it off' - advice that is clearly metaphorical given how kindly he relates to immoral friends and strangers both before and after this firey little podium speech.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:00 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
DSenette wrote:Then what's the point of the book in the first place? what's the point of the parts that are supposed to be the word of god (directly the word of god) but don't follow the golden rule? and if the parts that aren't clear, or easy to missread, or whatever aren't the important parts? then why are those the parts that seem to cause the most trouble? why are they the parts that most religions actually hold up as really freaking important (like being against homosexuality)?

Well, clearly the 'point of it' isn't what some Christians seem to think it is. But then again, they're only human. Most Christians seem to be WAY more hung up about sexual misdemeanours than I reckon God will turn out to be, for example.

There are lots of different reasons for the parts that don't follow the golden rule. Mostly it's to do with time, location or culture-specific advice (eg dietary advice) as opposed to any claim of 'morality' or 'immorality'. Other times it's simply an over-interpretation of the vocabulary being used. It's too big a subject to go into in one post though.
so basically everyone that interprets the bible differently than you currently are interpreting it (i.e. the golden rule is the only part that actually matters) are wrong?

and, you're saying that basically anything OTHER than that one bit in the bible where jesus talks about the golden rule is the only part that's real?

elasto wrote:
what about the part where jesus told everyone to follow every rule of god that has ever been in scripture before him? you know, the whole "every jot and title" bit?

Well, let's not turn this thread into debating every single line of scripture. That'd get tedious too! If you read the whole passage though, it's Jesus giving a whole shopping list of examples of how that commandment (love God and love your neighbour) got interpreted in the past - and how Jesus is saying the fact that Christians are saved by grace doesn't mean they get a free pass to be assholes from here on out - in fact he's demanding his followers to double-down on being nice to others! He then goes on to paint all sorts of powerful pictures using clearly metaphorical language. If he were walking around preaching today, no doubt he'd have a whole new set of examples of how people should go even further in being loving and self-sacrificing than common convention would dictate.

(for example this is the famous passage where he says 'if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; if your hand causes you to sin, chop it off' - advice that is clearly metaphorical given how kindly he relates to immoral friends and strangers both before and after this firey little podium speech.)

buh? no, the every jot and title passage was jesus's direct response to someone asking him what they should do about "the old law" (i.e. leviticus and all of the old testament), to which jesus basically said, all that stuff still applies.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:20 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:So basically everyone that interprets the bible differently than you currently are interpreting it (i.e. the golden rule is the only part that actually matters) are wrong?

Well... doesn't everyone think the way they interpret it is right? I'm puzzled by your question really. Obviously I know I could be wrong in how I interpret it, but obviously I don't believe I am wrong, just as you don't believe you are wrong in dismissing the Bible - and anyone who has a different opinion to the both of us doesn't think they are wrong either. Not sure what you're getting at to say that, really. It's almost like you think I think I couldn't be wrong in my interpretation or something. Dunno why you'd assume that really, if so.

I also didn't say 'the golden rule is the only part that matters', I said that everything else flows from it. It doesn't make the rest 'not matter' any more than some maths theorem 'doesn't matter' just because there are more fundamental axioms that lay the foundation for it.

and, you're saying that basically anything OTHER than that one bit in the bible where jesus talks about the golden rule is the only part that's real?

What do you mean? Sometimes people take metaphorical statements literally, or view someone writing 'you shouldn't do X' as 'God says doing X is immoral' (when actually there's all sorts of reasons other than morality as to why doing or not doing things at a particular time and place might be wise or unwise) but that doesn't make any of what's written down 'not real'.

buh? no, the every jot and title passage was jesus's direct response to someone asking him what they should do about "the old law" (i.e. leviticus and all of the old testament), to which jesus basically said, all that stuff still applies.

Look at the whole passage in context. The whole thing is full of firey metaphor and the 'if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out' ought to be just one of the clues cueing you into that. Here's the run up to it:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen ["not one jot or tittle" in the KJV], will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.


Loads of other examples are then given and it finishes with another famous bit:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.


The whole thing is plainly full of powerful metaphorical language saying, basically, "no matter how good you thought you had to be, I'm saying you have to be that good squared." if you wish to be saved through the Law, that is - which the central theme of the NT is that you can't be

Incidentally, that whole bit of "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven" ties in neatly to the Good Samaritan story. You take the two stories together - the examples here and the example of the Samaritan - and it's clear that 'being more righteous' is actually all about not simply following the letter of the law but going beyond it and actually fulfilling the spirit of the law and being a decent, kind, compassionate human being no matter what 'loopholes' the law apparently provides for you.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:34 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Laserguy wrote:Can it? I mean, I know that it is claimed that the Bible can be boiled down to this, but can you actually do the boiling down to demonstrate that this is the case?


It's hard to do that other than to simply to quote the passage around it. It's clearly agreed that everything else - all the thousands of pages of Judaic wisdom that had been written to that point - it all pales into insignificance compared to this one simple edict


I'm aware of the passage, thanks. But that passage is from within the Bible itself. How do you know that when you boil down all of the "details" that that particular section is one that should be kept?

Also, just because these particular characters happen to agree with this statement, doesn't mean that they're actually correct. And if they are correct, we should be able to demonstrate that from the text ourselves, not simply quote their conclusions without going through the process of getting there.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:58 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:I'm aware of the passage, thanks. But that passage is from within the Bible itself. How do you know that when you boil down all of the "details" that that particular section is one that should be kept?

How do I know? It's a judgement call. You are free to make the same judgement call or a different one, having examined as little or as much of the evidence as you choose - taking into account all forms of evidence - not just the Bible itself but everything. God doesn't beam any proof of the truth or falsehood of any of this directly into our brains, so clearly all this is down to each of us to freely and without prejudice thinking through the whole thing for ourselves.

(The fact that God doesn't communicate directly with us gives us clues in its own way too - it definitely rules out some commonly held interpretations of salvation etc. amongst Christians)

Also, just because these particular characters happen to agree with this statement, doesn't mean that they're actually correct. And if they are correct, we should be able to demonstrate that from the text ourselves, not simply quote their conclusions without going through the process of getting there.

Well of course. At the most fundamental level Jesus could be wrong in his analysis - or this conversation might never have taken place. And even if it did take place perhaps these two characters spent years studying Judaic texts that have since become lost - so their reasoning is correct but it's more or less impossible for us to duplicate.

Dunno what to say to you other than what I've said really. This isn't mathematics we're dealing with here. Very little of life is actually 'provable'. All this is just informed opinion - and until the day we meet God or not - that's all it ever really can be. And even once we meet him we likely still won't know how much of it is true. It's not like it would be especially hard for an omnipotent God to deceive puny old us!
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:10 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:part of understanding why someone would place faith in a religious text is understanding why they would put their faith in a work of fiction. or more importantly why they would put their faith in one work of fiction over another that could arguably teach the same lessons.


Well there's no rule whatsoever that to derive meaning from the Bible means you do not or cannot do the same with any other source. If the lessons are the same and are as personally valuable, it makes no difference where they are learned. I love fiction, actually. There's a lot of truth in fiction.


learning a lesson, and placing their faith in a piece of literature are a bit different in scale.

when you personally read a book of fiction (that you know is a book of fiction) that has some moral type lessons and such (Aesop's fables perhaps?) you can say that you've learned the lessons from the book by allegory to reality, but you'd never say you put your faith in Aesop as the arbiter of morality.

when you read the bible, i doubt that you're treating it quite the same. and most people who do place their faith in the bible do so as the arbiter and only true source of morality (or at least, the bible is the primary source of morality, with their chosen church as the interpreter)

but if at their root, both books are works of fiction, then why is your absolute faith placed in one as the arbiter of morality and not the other?


Well, I don't quite place my faith in the book itself. Most believers ought to agree that faith in God is the essential bit, and so the Bible is merely a pointer to this. The text doesn't arbitrate morality - I think moral choices are within the scope of free will, and the only arbiter of the morality of our behavior, other than God, is our own sense of goodness and value. People who place their faith in a church, or a book, especially if they exclusively ignore or dismiss based on simple bigotry everything else, are, I think, misguided. God is bigger than any book.

would you agree that the bible contains teachings that could be considered dangerous?


I assume you refer to things like for example in the Old Testament concerning laws for ancient Hebrew societies. The dangerous part would be in actually attempting to enforce these kinds of laws today. To me this would be ignoring the context and mistaking them for universal prescriptions of behavior. There is an amount of discernment involved in reading scriptures and a necessity for common sense and obeying one's own soul or, if you like, moral compass. I'm against literal-mindedness in general principles; seeing that sort of mindset, as an atheist, was one of the things that kept me firmly against religion and against God and everything associated with either for many years.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:59 am UTC

elasto wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:I'm aware of the passage, thanks. But that passage is from within the Bible itself. How do you know that when you boil down all of the "details" that that particular section is one that should be kept?


How do I know? It's a judgement call. You are free to make the same judgement call or a different one, having examined as little or as much of the evidence as you choose - taking into account all forms of evidence - not just the Bible itself but everything. God doesn't beam any proof of the truth or falsehood of any of this directly into our brains, so clearly all this is down to each of us to freely and without prejudice thinking through the whole thing for ourselves.


Well, if you're going to make a statement like "The Bible can be reduced in its entirety to this...", then I think having something to back it up more than a single quote of text is probably a good idea, especially if you're going to claim that people who don't think that the Bible can be reduced to this are wrong. The Bible is a very large and complicated text, written by many different authors, over a period of hundreds of years, in languages that are foreign to us. Let me put it this way: if you gave the Bible to an intelligent person who had never read the Bible before and knew nothing about Christianity (or Judaism) and read the book, cover to cover, how certain are you that this is the take-home message that they would end up with? What if they (like Jesus in the quote) were only reading the Old Testament?

elasto wrote:
Also, just because these particular characters happen to agree with this statement, doesn't mean that they're actually correct. And if they are correct, we should be able to demonstrate that from the text ourselves, not simply quote their conclusions without going through the process of getting there.


Well of course. At the most fundamental level Jesus could be wrong in his analysis - or this conversation might never have taken place. And even if it did take place perhaps these two characters spent years studying Judaic texts that have since become lost - so their reasoning is correct but it's more or less impossible for us to duplicate.


Again, this is the thing. If the Bible can be reduced to what you think it can, then we should be able to get there ourselves. Maybe not the exact same lines of reasoning, but we certainly have the same evidence that they do.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:38 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
DSenette wrote:So basically everyone that interprets the bible differently than you currently are interpreting it (i.e. the golden rule is the only part that actually matters) are wrong?

Well... doesn't everyone think the way they interpret it is right? I'm puzzled by your question really. Obviously I know I could be wrong in how I interpret it, but obviously I don't believe I am wrong, just as you don't believe you are wrong in dismissing the Bible - and anyone who has a different opinion to the both of us doesn't think they are wrong either. Not sure what you're getting at to say that, really. It's almost like you think I think I couldn't be wrong in my interpretation or something. Dunno why you'd assume that really, if so.

I also didn't say 'the golden rule is the only part that matters', I said that everything else flows from it. It doesn't make the rest 'not matter' any more than some maths theorem 'doesn't matter' just because there are more fundamental axioms that lay the foundation for it.

in discussions about religious texts it's very important for people in the discussion to be able to make a very large decision, the decision to state that other people are wrong because they disagree with you, or the decision to suggest that all interpretations are correct.

it's much easier when one party states that they're right, especially with something like this. it makes the playing field a little more clear.

was the golden rule the base of every rule that god has ever passed down?

elasto wrote:
and, you're saying that basically anything OTHER than that one bit in the bible where jesus talks about the golden rule is the only part that's real?

What do you mean? Sometimes people take metaphorical statements literally, or view someone writing 'you shouldn't do X' as 'God says doing X is immoral' (when actually there's all sorts of reasons other than morality as to why doing or not doing things at a particular time and place might be wise or unwise) but that doesn't make any of what's written down 'not real'.
it makes parts of it less real. especially since we're talking about a book of commands and rules from God. THE God, THE big G. for eons, the bible has been considered the word of god. not sort of the word of god. THE word of God. it's used all over the world as a rule book, as a guide for right and wrong. which, by the way, right and wrong is just another way of saying moral and immoral, i'm not sure how you can separate the two in this context. if god is the source of morality, and god wrote a book that was talking about "right and wrong" then that book is about morality. so anything that god has suggested is wrong in that book then he's suggesting it's immoral. why would god's opinion of morality change over time? he's omnipotent and omniscient, why in the world would his opinions about what he IS ok with us doing and what he isn't ok with us doing change?

elasto wrote:
buh? no, the every jot and title passage was jesus's direct response to someone asking him what they should do about "the old law" (i.e. leviticus and all of the old testament), to which jesus basically said, all that stuff still applies.

Look at the whole passage in context. The whole thing is full of firey metaphor and the 'if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out' ought to be just one of the clues cueing you into that. Here's the run up to it:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen ["not one jot or tittle" in the KJV], will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.


Loads of other examples are then given and it finishes with another famous bit:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.


The whole thing is plainly full of powerful metaphorical language saying, basically, "no matter how good you thought you had to be, I'm saying you have to be that good squared." if you wish to be saved through the Law, that is - which the central theme of the NT is that you can't be

Incidentally, that whole bit of "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven" ties in neatly to the Good Samaritan story. You take the two stories together - the examples here and the example of the Samaritan - and it's clear that 'being more righteous' is actually all about not simply following the letter of the law but going beyond it and actually fulfilling the spirit of the law and being a decent, kind, compassionate human being no matter what 'loopholes' the law apparently provides for you.

i'm not sure how any of what you're quoting here is metaphorical? it seems like a guy answering a question about whether or not people should still follow the old law, you know, the laws of judaism, which jesus followed because he was a jew.

also, and this is the good bit, if you're claiming that jesus didn't mean to follow the old testament laws when he said to follow the old testament laws because this passage was surrounded by metaphor, wouldn't that also mean that everything else in the bible should be treated the same way? since you can't really go too far in the bible without finding something that can be read as a metaphor or allegory? jesus primarily spoke in metaphor in every place he spoke, so how do you pick out the bits where he really means the words he says and which ones are metaphors by association?



Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:part of understanding why someone would place faith in a religious text is understanding why they would put their faith in a work of fiction. or more importantly why they would put their faith in one work of fiction over another that could arguably teach the same lessons.


Well there's no rule whatsoever that to derive meaning from the Bible means you do not or cannot do the same with any other source. If the lessons are the same and are as personally valuable, it makes no difference where they are learned. I love fiction, actually. There's a lot of truth in fiction.


learning a lesson, and placing their faith in a piece of literature are a bit different in scale.

when you personally read a book of fiction (that you know is a book of fiction) that has some moral type lessons and such (Aesop's fables perhaps?) you can say that you've learned the lessons from the book by allegory to reality, but you'd never say you put your faith in Aesop as the arbiter of morality.

when you read the bible, i doubt that you're treating it quite the same. and most people who do place their faith in the bible do so as the arbiter and only true source of morality (or at least, the bible is the primary source of morality, with their chosen church as the interpreter)

but if at their root, both books are works of fiction, then why is your absolute faith placed in one as the arbiter of morality and not the other?


Well, I don't quite place my faith in the book itself. Most believers ought to agree that faith in God is the essential bit, and so the Bible is merely a pointer to this. The text doesn't arbitrate morality - I think moral choices are within the scope of free will, and the only arbiter of the morality of our behavior, other than God, is our own sense of goodness and value. People who place their faith in a church, or a book, especially if they exclusively ignore or dismiss based on simple bigotry everything else, are, I think, misguided. God is bigger than any book.
ooh goodie, an ought...

if you place your faith in god, unquestioning, unwavering faith in god. and god wrote the book, wouldn't your faith also be in the book?

how can you define simple bigotry from religious bigotry? like, how do you know the difference between a guy that hates black people because he's a racist bigot and someone who hates "the gays" because god told him to? or someone who dislikes muslims because of trrrrsts or someone who dislikes muslims because they're not god fearin christians?

even if your argument is that they're just twisting the words of the good book to justify what they already wanted to do (hate someone else), isn't that another condemnation of the book?


Jave D wrote:
would you agree that the bible contains teachings that could be considered dangerous?


I assume you refer to things like for example in the Old Testament concerning laws for ancient Hebrew societies. The dangerous part would be in actually attempting to enforce these kinds of laws today. To me this would be ignoring the context and mistaking them for universal prescriptions of behavior. There is an amount of discernment involved in reading scriptures and a necessity for common sense and obeying one's own soul or, if you like, moral compass. I'm against literal-mindedness in general principles; seeing that sort of mindset, as an atheist, was one of the things that kept me firmly against religion and against God and everything associated with either for many years.

the new testament has a quite few things that aren't terribly pleasant either, like revelation. there's a lot of currently unhealthy things that come from there (much less offensive to reality and society than the OT gloriousness but still, you've got a certain portion of the population that bases their life off of Revelation), but sure, the OT has most of the most offensive laws and rules, and such, but if that stuff doesn't apply, then why is it still followed by christianity? sure, christians eat pork and work on sunday, and some of them don't wear hats, and most of them trim their beards, but a lot of them hate the gays, aren't too keen on contraception, etc... etc... so, apparently some of the OT applies. so what is the deciding factor for when it doesn't apply?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:46 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:the new testament has a quite few things that aren't terribly pleasant either, like revelation.


And Hell...
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:45 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:if you place your faith in god, unquestioning, unwavering faith in god. and god wrote the book, wouldn't your faith also be in the book?


No. No more than if I put my everlasting love into a woman, and she can write a book, but I can still not also love the book.

Plus, the assumption that "god wrote the book" is a rather big one not shared by everyone. Most tend to think it is written by people who were merely inspired by God. And the degrees of authority such inspired authors had is also not agreed on. Some think they were prophets and thus pure vessels of God's will, others that they were fallible men who could like anyone distort the divine will; others disregard entire books and whatnot, etc.

how can you define simple bigotry from religious bigotry? like, how do you know the difference between a guy that hates black people because he's a racist bigot and someone who hates "the gays" because god told him to? or someone who dislikes muslims because of trrrrsts or someone who dislikes muslims because they're not god fearin christians?


I don't really see a need to get all fine pointed about what kind of bigotry a bigot exhibits. If he hates gays, he hates gays. If he hates Muslims, he hates Muslims. The thing to focus here is on the hate, which is destructive. I certainly would never agree with anyone who claims that their hatred is "because God told them to hate." They're misguided.

And interestingly, Islam derives much of its religious background from the OT and NT, building upon them the same way the NT and Christianity built upon the OT and Judaism. From what I know Jesus is regarded as a prophet too in Islam. But that of course won't matter to someone who's bent on hating entire groups of people, no more than it matters to any self-professed Christian who's full of hate that Jesus taught to love your neighbor. Anyone can be a hypocrite and a hater if they choose, no matter what their belief system is.

even if your argument is that they're just twisting the words of the good book to justify what they already wanted to do (hate someone else), isn't that another condemnation of the book?


Not really. It's a condemnation of their behavior, their lack of understanding, their desire to hate. People will use practically anything to try and justify their foolishness or wickedness, and of course that can include the Bible, the Quran, a church's teachings, their parents, school, the government, etc etc. When they do so it reflects on their negative personality, not on the external thing or person they're blaming for their own choices.

the new testament has a quite few things that aren't terribly pleasant either, like revelation. there's a lot of currently unhealthy things that come from there (much less offensive to reality and society than the OT gloriousness but still, you've got a certain portion of the population that bases their life off of Revelation), but sure, the OT has most of the most offensive laws and rules, and such, but if that stuff doesn't apply, then why is it still followed by christianity? sure, christians eat pork and work on sunday, and some of them don't wear hats, and most of them trim their beards, but a lot of them hate the gays, aren't too keen on contraception, etc... etc... so, apparently some of the OT applies. so what is the deciding factor for when it doesn't apply?


People decide when to apply what they know, or think they know, and when not to. As far as I know there are something like 600+ regulations stipulated in Leviticus and Deuteronomy and even orthodox Jews have a hard time following all that. Christians don't even come close. Again, the hatred of gays, the sociopolitical issue of contraception - that's their own wrongdoing. People who hate in such ways have a whole lot of biases; the self-serving or confirmation bias for example, in which they "justify" hatred of gays through some flimsy pretense of adhering to some old testament rule while ignoring thte ones that don't serve their petty desire to hate and oppress other people. They pick and choose, and since they're apparently living a life whose major goals include being a major douchebag to other people, they pick and choose in a way that they think supports their life goals.

But it obviously doesn't make them very happy or pleasant folks. It kind of speaks for itself how that kind of way goes. And of course, if they're supposedly Christians, they're ignoring what Jesus said was the most important of commandments in favor of what Jesus himself never even addressed, let alone supported (hating gays).

So the deciding factor for when something does or doesn't apply to one's own life is... one's own decisionmaking capability.

It takes understanding and wisdom and a sound moral compass to be a righteous person, regardless of whether you believe in the Bible or not and conversely, someone can believe in the Bible, ostensibly, but if they're unwise, ignorant, and bent on wickedness, they're not going to be very righteous. In fact they'll be douchebags. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say on the topic of douchebags, though sadly it doesn't use that terminology.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Thu Apr 05, 2012 5:15 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:
even if your argument is that they're just twisting the words of the good book to justify what they already wanted to do (hate someone else), isn't that another condemnation of the book?


Not really. It's a condemnation of their behavior, their lack of understanding, their desire to hate. People will use practically anything to try and justify their foolishness or wickedness, and of course that can include the Bible, the Quran, a church's teachings, their parents, school, the government, etc etc. When they do so it reflects on their negative personality, not on the external thing or person they're blaming for their own choices.
You don't believe that external things influence behavior and ideology? That there are just 'foolish and wicked' people and that they have 'negative personalities' and just use external factors to blame their behavior on? You don't believe that me raising a child and telling him that being gay is a sin, it goes against nature, god and goodness and that we should not tolerate such behavior in a good Christian society will influence their behavior toward gays people?

People decide when to apply what they know, or think they know, and when not to.
People try to decide, and doing so is a valuable skill in some societies. However, we are animals and mammals believing that people always have perfect control over their behavior and that society doesn't influence that behavior when we are having problems controlling our selves shows an entire lack of understanding of humans.

As far as I know there are something like 600+ regulations stipulated in Leviticus and Deuteronomy and even orthodox Jews have a hard time following all that. Christians don't even come close. Again, the hatred of gays, the sociopolitical issue of contraception - that's their own wrongdoing. People who hate in such ways have a whole lot of biases; the self-serving or confirmation bias for example, in which they "justify" hatred of gays through some flimsy pretense of adhering to some old testament rule while ignoring thte ones that don't serve their petty desire to hate and oppress other people. They pick and choose, and since they're apparently living a life whose major goals include being a major douchebag to other people, they pick and choose in a way that they think supports their life goals.
Here you demonstrate total failure in understanding the thought processes of those with such beliefs. People aren't born hating gays, they don't take on religion to justify their belief and they would call you a douchebag for condoning homosexual behavior and contraception. Their major goals include doing what is right by God, or more specifically the Bible, as they see it. Their aren't 'justified' by the bible, their beliefs are perpetuated and strengthened by what is said in the Bible.

Can you explain how the above paragraph is not just a no true scotsman?

But it obviously doesn't make them very happy or pleasant folks. It kind of speaks for itself how that kind of way goes. And of course, if they're supposedly Christians, they're ignoring what Jesus said was the most important of commandments in favor of what Jesus himself never even addressed, let alone supported (hating gays).
It makes them very happy and pleasant folks when they don't have to fight against people who disagree with their behaviors and ideology. Being a bigot doesn't make you inherently unhappy or unpleasant.

And again with the fallacy. If they aren't Christian what are they? What is a criteria are you using to define if someone is a 'true' Christian?

It takes understanding and wisdom and a sound moral compass to be a righteous person, regardless of whether you believe in the Bible or not and conversely, someone can believe in the Bible, ostensibly, but if they're unwise, ignorant, and bent on wickedness, they're not going to be very righteous. In fact they'll be douchebags. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say on the topic of douchebags, though sadly it doesn't use that terminology.
Sound moral compass? what ideology and criteria are you basing your morality on? Please attempt to display at least a little respect for how complex this subject is rather then foolishly writing of giant problems in our society for something thoughtless as 'they just don't have a strong moral compass.'
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:35 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
Jave D wrote:
even if your argument is that they're just twisting the words of the good book to justify what they already wanted to do (hate someone else), isn't that another condemnation of the book?


Not really. It's a condemnation of their behavior, their lack of understanding, their desire to hate. People will use practically anything to try and justify their foolishness or wickedness, and of course that can include the Bible, the Quran, a church's teachings, their parents, school, the government, etc etc. When they do so it reflects on their negative personality, not on the external thing or person they're blaming for their own choices.
You don't believe that external things influence behavior and ideology? That there are just 'foolish and wicked' people and that they have 'negative personalities' and just use external factors to blame their behavior on? You don't believe that me raising a child and telling him that being gay is a sin, it goes against nature, god and goodness and that we should not tolerate such behavior in a good Christian society will influence their behavior toward gays people?


I never said that I don't believe external things influence behavior and ideology. Foolishness and wickedness are descriptions merely of behavior, nothing more.

People decide when to apply what they know, or think they know, and when not to.
People try to decide, and doing so is a valuable skill in some societies. However, we are animals and mammals believing that people always have perfect control over their behavior and that society doesn't influence that behavior when we are having problems controlling our selves shows an entire lack of understanding of humans.


I never said that I believe people always have perfect control over their behavior. I think that I rather have a good understanding of humans than a lack, actually.

As far as I know there are something like 600+ regulations stipulated in Leviticus and Deuteronomy and even orthodox Jews have a hard time following all that. Christians don't even come close. Again, the hatred of gays, the sociopolitical issue of contraception - that's their own wrongdoing. People who hate in such ways have a whole lot of biases; the self-serving or confirmation bias for example, in which they "justify" hatred of gays through some flimsy pretense of adhering to some old testament rule while ignoring thte ones that don't serve their petty desire to hate and oppress other people. They pick and choose, and since they're apparently living a life whose major goals include being a major douchebag to other people, they pick and choose in a way that they think supports their life goals.
Here you demonstrate total failure in understanding the thought processes of those with such beliefs. People aren't born hating gays, they don't take on religion to justify their belief and they would call you a douchebag for condoning homosexual behavior and contraception. Their major goals include doing what is right by God, or more specifically the Bible, as they see it. Their aren't 'justified' by the bible, their beliefs are perpetuated and strengthened by what is said in the Bible.

Can you explain how the above paragraph is not just a no true scotsman?


Your paragraph or mine?

But it obviously doesn't make them very happy or pleasant folks. It kind of speaks for itself how that kind of way goes. And of course, if they're supposedly Christians, they're ignoring what Jesus said was the most important of commandments in favor of what Jesus himself never even addressed, let alone supported (hating gays).
It makes them very happy and pleasant folks when they don't have to fight against people who disagree with their behaviors and ideology. Being a bigot doesn't make you inherently unhappy or unpleasant.


It certainly makes one unpleasant towards other people. As for happiness, well, do you really believe bigots are happy people?

And again with the fallacy. If they aren't Christian what are they? What is a criteria are you using to define if someone is a 'true' Christian?


It's not a fallacy to observe that some people claim to follow Christ but don't demonstrate his teachings, and that others do. It's rather like how some people study math in school, but not everyone who does is a mathematician or puts math into any use in their lives or has a good grasp of the material.

It takes understanding and wisdom and a sound moral compass to be a righteous person, regardless of whether you believe in the Bible or not and conversely, someone can believe in the Bible, ostensibly, but if they're unwise, ignorant, and bent on wickedness, they're not going to be very righteous. In fact they'll be douchebags. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say on the topic of douchebags, though sadly it doesn't use that terminology.
Sound moral compass? what ideology and criteria are you basing your morality on? Please attempt to display at least a little respect for how complex this subject is rather then foolishly writing of giant problems in our society for something thoughtless as 'they just don't have a strong moral compass.'


I actually said "understanding and wisdom and sound moral compass," not "just... a strong moral compass." And there are plenty of other qualities involved too, but those certainly help.

What giant problem in our society have I "written off" as something thoughtless?

You have this tendency to try to twist what I say into something overly simplistic and then attack me for having a "total lack of understanding of humans" or a "total failure in understanding the thought processes" or not displaying any "respect for how complex this subject is." Hostile much?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:03 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:I never said that I don't believe external things influence behavior and ideology. Foolishness and wickedness are descriptions merely of behavior, nothing more.
While true that you didn't state it you strongly implied that outside factors do not create foolish or wickedness. While there might be 'foolish' or 'wicked' people without the aid of books telling us what to hate they certainly create a lot of foolish and wicked behaviors. To imply that people just use these books to simply justify their actions rather than these books teach those beliefs is disingenuous.

I never said that I believe people always have perfect control over their behavior. I think that I rather have a good understanding of humans than a lack, actually.
So then when you said "decide" in this statement "People decide when to apply what they know, or think they know, and when not to." you meant what exactly?

It makes them very happy and pleasant folks when they don't have to fight against people who disagree with their behaviors and ideology. Being a bigot doesn't make you inherently unhappy or unpleasant.


It certainly makes one unpleasant towards other people. As for happiness, well, do you really believe bigots are happy people?

It makes them unpleasant sometimes to some people.

So you believe that the vast majority of people throughout history were incapable of happiness? Even a very significant amount of the current population, if not still the vast majority, are incapable of it as well?

It's not a fallacy to observe that some people claim to follow Christ but don't demonstrate his teachings, and that others do. It's rather like how some people study math in school, but not everyone who does is a mathematician or puts math into any use in their lives or has a good grasp of the material.
Laserguy and DSenette covered this. There are terrible things taught in the NT. Jesus's own teachings are highly ambiguous. Because you don't agree with an interpretation doesn't mean they aren't following Christ's teachings, you just disagree with what teachings are worth following or how to interpret a message..

I actually said "understanding and wisdom and sound moral compass," not "just... a strong moral compass." And there are plenty of other qualities involved too, but those certainly help.
I know, I even quoted it in my message just show everyone can see where I got it from.

What giant problem in our society have I "written off" as something thoughtless?
What you have 'written off' thoughtlessly is giant disagreements on what is moral and wise. Seemingly believing that there is one true moral path or wise course of action. While in reality this is what the majority of political and ideological conflict is about. Values. A strong moral compass for what goal? This is not a shallow topic and to paint it as such suggests that you don't actually understand the complications involved.

You have this tendency to try to twist what I say into something overly simplistic and then attack me for having a "total lack of understanding of humans" or a "total failure in understanding the thought processes" or not displaying any "respect for how complex this subject is." Hostile much?
I don't believe I'm twisting it. Your statements display consistent lack of understanding of the depth of the topic.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Nem » Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:02 am UTC

There was a question back on page 1, by The Great Hippo, which seems very revealing if you answer it in the negative:

The Great Hippo wrote:Do you believe what you're currently seeing is real? Why? Couldn't your eyes be malfunctioning? Couldn't you just be a brain in a jar being directly fed false input? Couldn't you just be a program written by aliens?


No. My eyes could be malfunctioning, I could be a brain in a jar being fed false input, I could just be a program written by aliens. What I do, when I make a statement, is to model a world of appearances - nothing more. Truth is a function of consistency within the model, and has no further meaning.

It is conceivable that, for some people, within the model they're capable of making, faith's just what's going to be seen as truth. That, given the evidence they have access to in that place and that time, faith is just the rational choice. The interesting thing about choices is that, once we've made them, we tend not to seriously re-examine them. We tend to fit new evidence into the framework of the answers we've already decided upon.

So one person might sit in church and get that special feeling and feel close to god, and others of us might sit in church and get that special feeling and go - well, it's a close social group, it's an excellent piece of performance art, we're wired up to like rituals and ceremony.... We'd all be looking at the same thing but we'd have two very different explanations for it.

I think that might explain a lot about why belief rates drop off so dramatically once children aren't in churches.

Now that doesn't make people stupid - it just means that as a type of creature that generates internally consistent models of our observations we have certain flaws. Certain... biases... in the ways we think that you have to consciously watch for.

It's entirely plausible that if you started off constructing the same framework as a religious person, with your initial set of decisions, you'd believe the same thing they do on the same evidence you have now.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:41 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
Jave D wrote:I never said that I don't believe external things influence behavior and ideology. Foolishness and wickedness are descriptions merely of behavior, nothing more.
While true that you didn't state it you strongly implied that outside factors do not create foolish or wickedness. While there might be 'foolish' or 'wicked' people without the aid of books telling us what to hate they certainly create a lot of foolish and wicked behaviors. To imply that people just use these books to simply justify their actions rather than these books teach those beliefs is disingenuous.


I merely said that people use these books to justify their actions. Which is true. You can and will read into that all sorts of other things, but that's really not my problem.

I never said that I believe people always have perfect control over their behavior. I think that I rather have a good understanding of humans than a lack, actually.
So then when you said "decide" in this statement "People decide when to apply what they know, or think they know, and when not to." you meant what exactly?


Um. People make decisions. Not a very complicated thing.

It makes them very happy and pleasant folks when they don't have to fight against people who disagree with their behaviors and ideology. Being a bigot doesn't make you inherently unhappy or unpleasant.


It certainly makes one unpleasant towards other people. As for happiness, well, do you really believe bigots are happy people?

It makes them unpleasant sometimes to some people.

So you believe that the vast majority of people throughout history were incapable of happiness? Even a very significant amount of the current population, if not still the vast majority, are incapable of it as well?


I never said anything about "incapable of happiness." Certainly people can experience joy. But true happiness is something more. I ask you again, do you believe that bigots are happy people? Do you think being bigoted towards groups of people based on sex, sexual orientation, religion etc., is a sign of a happy person? Bigots in my experience are not, and while the target of their bigotry is ostensibly the only group of people they're unpleasant towards, in reality they express their vile bigotry regardless of whether it's directly toward that group or not. You see this a lot on message boards and whatnot, when there's some discussion and someone will angrily post about how it's all the conspiracy of the "feminazis" (or whoever) when it's not even relevant and there aren't any alleged representatives of that group around. The bigotry just oozes from them whenever. Doesn't strike me as a sign of abiding contentment and a heart at peace.

It's not a fallacy to observe that some people claim to follow Christ but don't demonstrate his teachings, and that others do. It's rather like how some people study math in school, but not everyone who does is a mathematician or puts math into any use in their lives or has a good grasp of the material.
Laserguy and DSenette covered this. There are terrible things taught in the NT. Jesus's own teachings are highly ambiguous. Because you don't agree with an interpretation doesn't mean they aren't following Christ's teachings, you just disagree with what teachings are worth following or how to interpret a message..


"Love your neighbor" isn't really that ambiguous. Though of course, if someone wants to hate their neighbor they can mis-interpret it to be specific (as in, only the people living right next to you)... just as if you want to denigrate the teaching as "ambiguous" and "terrible" you can mis-interpret it to support your bias too.

I actually said "understanding and wisdom and sound moral compass," not "just... a strong moral compass." And there are plenty of other qualities involved too, but those certainly help.
I know, I even quoted it in my message just show everyone can see where I got it from.


Yet you reacted to it as if I was being exclusive about the necessity of a strong moral compass and dismissing any and all other things. And therefore being non-understanding, failing to comprehend, disrespectful of humanity and the complexity of this subject etc.

What giant problem in our society have I "written off" as something thoughtless?
What you have 'written off' thoughtlessly is giant disagreements on what is moral and wise. Seemingly believing that there is one true moral path or wise course of action. While in reality this is what the majority of political and ideological conflict is about. Values. A strong moral compass for what goal? This is not a shallow topic and to paint it as such suggests that you don't actually understand the complications involved.


Is your whole point just to make an extensive ad hominem? I never said this was a shallow topic, nor was I even explaining "what the majority of political and ideological conflict is about," nor did I say "there is one true wise course of action."

You have this tendency to try to twist what I say into something overly simplistic and then attack me for having a "total lack of understanding of humans" or a "total failure in understanding the thought processes" or not displaying any "respect for how complex this subject is." Hostile much?
I don't believe I'm twisting it. Your statements display consistent lack of understanding of the depth of the topic.


Well, you're free to believe whatever fictions you want about what I've said and whatever failures and faults it pleases you to imagine I must have. But the accusation doesn't hold water with me, isn't very relevant to what I've said, and doesn't add much to the topic at hand.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:53 pm UTC

can you define "happy"? or what are the characteristics of a "happy person"? what are the metrics involved? would the same things that make you happy make them happy?

i'm pretty sure i know what makes me happy. and i can be QUITE certain that there are at least a few of them that would not make you happy in the slightest.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:17 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:can you define "happy"? or what are the characteristics of a "happy person"? what are the metrics involved? would the same things that make you happy make them happy?


A good book on happiness is The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, if you're interested. It's not about "metrics" though when I talk bout whether someone is happy, other than the metric of my own discernment. Happiness isn't quantifiable.

i'm pretty sure i know what makes me happy. and i can be QUITE certain that there are at least a few of them that would not make you happy in the slightest.


That's good...
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:30 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:can you define "happy"? or what are the characteristics of a "happy person"? what are the metrics involved? would the same things that make you happy make them happy?


A good book on happiness is The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, if you're interested. It's not about "metrics" though when I talk bout whether someone is happy, other than the metric of my own discernment. Happiness isn't quantifiable.

i'm pretty sure i know what makes me happy. and i can be QUITE certain that there are at least a few of them that would not make you happy in the slightest.


That's good...

buh? it is about metrics....you just asked if it's possible for bigots to be happy. how can you say they aren't happy if you can't measure happiness with a metric?

so, basically, someone can't be happy unless YOU say they're happy? what are you even talking about anymore?

i've known quite a few people who i would consider absolute shit...completely worthless wastes of humanity. but they themselves consider themselves to be QUITE happy.

i seriously doubt YOUR personal moral code has any bearing on anyone's happiness other than your own (unless you happen to derive happiness from other's suffering, or your moral code from a source that requests you be a bigot)
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:15 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:I merely said that people use these books to justify their actions. Which is true. You can and will read into that all sorts of other things, but that's really not my problem.

I've read what you said, and yes of course your ability to convey understanding of what you mean is your problem in a discussion.

"People will use practically anything to try and justify their foolishness or wickedness, and of course that can include the Bible, the Quran, a church's teachings, their parents, school, the government, etc etc. When they do so it reflects on their negative personality, not on the external thing or person they're blaming for their own choices."

You said that quite clearly that when people 'justify' their behavior through citing the Bible it is not the fault of the Bible. Was I wrong in understanding this as you meaning that it is entirely an internal thing and that the Bible had nothing to do with creating nor influencing that behavior? That it has never influenced or created 'foolish' or 'wicked' behavior? That people who cite the bible for a guide to how they have behaved are infact just inherently 'foolish' and 'wicked' people regardless of the anything from the Bible?

I never said that I believe people always have perfect control over their behavior. I think that I rather have a good understanding of humans than a lack, actually.
So then when you said "decide" in this statement "People decide when to apply what they know, or think they know, and when not to." you meant what exactly?


Um. People make decisions. Not a very complicated thing.
Like I said, you are not displaying understanding of the depth of this topic. Why and how people behavior is incredibly complicated. More complicated, or as complication, than just about anything else there is. Many groups try to get people to behavior based on decisions, sometimes irrationally and sometimes rationally, there are also many groups who want to influence or indoctrinate people explicitly removing anything that could be called a decision.

I never said anything about "incapable of happiness."
So what do you mean by a 'happy person?'

Certainly people can experience joy. But true happiness is something more. I ask you again, do you believe that bigots are happy people? Do you think being bigoted towards groups of people based on sex, sexual orientation, religion etc., is a sign of a happy person? Bigots in my experience are not, and while the target of their bigotry is ostensibly the only group of people they're unpleasant towards, in reality they express their vile bigotry regardless of whether it's directly toward that group or not. You see this a lot on message boards and whatnot, when there's some discussion and someone will angrily post about how it's all the conspiracy of the "feminazis" (or whoever) when it's not even relevant and there aren't any alleged representatives of that group around. The bigotry just oozes from them whenever. Doesn't strike me as a sign of abiding contentment and a heart at peace.
Yes I believe there are many many many bigots who are happy people. Not only would I classify many o f the bigots alive today as happy people, I would also classify many of the bigots throughout history as happy people.

I suppose it would be prudent to have you define bigot for me as well.

So all bigots get angry or post/talk about conspiracies? Does talkingly angrily about a a group make you a bigot? Is anyone opposing a group of people that want to have rights for women greater than rights for men a bigot, or is someone who believes that the system shouldn't assist in overcoming the inherent relatively negative position women were/are in socially a bigot? And is anyone capable of anger incapable of being happy?

"Love your neighbor" isn't really that ambiguous. Though of course, if someone wants to hate their neighbor they can mis-interpret it to be specific (as in, only the people living right next to you)... just as if you want to denigrate the teaching as "ambiguous" and "terrible" you can mis-interpret it to support your bias too.
So you believe the only thing Jesus taught is to "love your neighbor?" Should I love all my neighbors in the same way? Would you describe expressing a desire or acting to save the soul of another from going to hell as a loving action?


Yet you reacted to it as if I was being exclusive about the necessity of a strong moral compass and dismissing any and all other things. And therefore being non-understanding, failing to comprehend, disrespectful of humanity and the complexity of this subject etc.
I did no such thing, quoted your statement to make sure I did not react that way. However the statement about wisdom lacks as much content as the statement regarding a strong moral compass.

I never said this was a shallow topic
Correct, you just treat it that way.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:28 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:can you define "happy"? or what are the characteristics of a "happy person"? what are the metrics involved? would the same things that make you happy make them happy?


A good book on happiness is The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, if you're interested. It's not about "metrics" though when I talk bout whether someone is happy, other than the metric of my own discernment. Happiness isn't quantifiable.

i'm pretty sure i know what makes me happy. and i can be QUITE certain that there are at least a few of them that would not make you happy in the slightest.


That's good...

buh? it is about metrics....you just asked if it's possible for bigots to be happy. how can you say they aren't happy if you can't measure happiness with a metric?


You're seriously asking me this?

How can you say if a quality is there, unless you can MEASURE said quality?

How can you tell if the lights are on unless you can take count the fucking photons!

so, basically, someone can't be happy unless YOU say they're happy? what are you even talking about anymore?


I just mentioned that bigots don't seem to be very happy people. Apparently that's controversial. Oh well.

i've known quite a few people who i would consider absolute shit...completely worthless wastes of humanity. but they themselves consider themselves to be QUITE happy.


So the question is, do you take them at their word? Or do you have some sort of amazing super-human ability to discern for yourself whether another person seems happy or seems to be just bullshitting him/herself and you? And no, this isn't a super-human ability and we use it all the time.

Zcorp wrote:I've read what you said, and yes of course your ability to convey understanding of what you mean is your problem in a discussion.


No one else here is reading what I'm saying and pointing out an army of personal character flaws as you seem to delight in doing. You're choosing to do that, based entirely off of how you're reading shit into what I'm saying that I haven't actually said. Of course I can always be more understanding and improve my communication skills, but when someone such as yourself reads into what I've written a bunch of things I haven't actually written it's a case of user error.

Which is incidentally very much like how people behave with regards to the Bible. One person can read it and see something, another person can read it and see something entirely different; one person can read it and react not at all, or react one way - and another person can read it and react in some completely opposite manner. These actions and understandings and reactions and behaviors reflect more on the state of the actor than on the thing being reacted to.

"People will use practically anything to try and justify their foolishness or wickedness, and of course that can include the Bible, the Quran, a church's teachings, their parents, school, the government, etc etc. When they do so it reflects on their negative personality, not on the external thing or person they're blaming for their own choices."

You said that quite clearly that when people 'justify' their behavior through citing the Bible it is not the fault of the Bible. Was I wrong in understanding this as you meaning that it is entirely an internal thing and that the Bible had nothing to do with creating nor influencing that behavior? That it has never influenced or created 'foolish' or 'wicked' behavior? That people who cite the bible for a guide to how they have behaved are infact just inherently 'foolish' and 'wicked' people regardless of the anything from the Bible?


Yes, your understanding that is wrong. I do not believe the Bible "creates" wicked or foolish behavior, any more than it "creates" righteous or wise behavior. There's a big difference between "influence" and "create," and in any case I'm not talking about "inherent foolishness" or "inherent" wickedness as you have suggested. Regardless of what the Bible says, it is no excuse for one's behavior either way. It is not the fault of some words on a page that someone does anything. "The Bible made me do it" doesn't work in courts of law, does it? It doesn't work as sufficient reasoning for you when someone does something, does it? If it does work for you I think this is an issue of anthropomorphizing a book and ignoring the complexities of human behavior, the concept of free will, and that of personal responsibility.

Like I said, you are not displaying understanding of the depth of this topic. Why and how people behavior is incredibly complicated.


I never said that why and how people make decisions isn't complicated. Just the idea that people DO make decisions. My merely mentioning that does not and should not require a lengthy explanation, and when I do not give said lengthy explanation, it does not mean I have a lack of understanding. Sorry!

So what do you mean by a 'happy person?'


What do you mean by it? When you say:

Yes I believe there are many many many bigots who are happy people. Not only would I classify many o f the bigots alive today as happy people, I would also classify many of the bigots throughout history as happy people.


What do you mean? Let's have you define happiness. Apparently it needs defining.

I suppose it would be prudent to have you define bigot for me as well.


What relevance does that have? You honestly can't talk about bigots unless I define the term? Or happiness? Or is this a cute exercise for me to "prove" and "demonstrate" (to you) my non-failure to understand, to comprehend, etc?

So all bigots get angry or post/talk about conspiracies?


There you go again, inserting an absolutist "all" into what was merely an example.

Does talkingly angrily about a a group make you a bigot? Is anyone opposing a group of people that want to have rights for women greater than rights for men a bigot, or is someone who believes that the system shouldn't assist in overcoming the inherent relatively negative position women were/are in socially a bigot? And is anyone capable of anger incapable of being happy?


I'm just going to answer the last question. No, of course not, because everyone is capable of feeling angry, and I believe happiness is a possible condition of human existence.

So you believe the only thing Jesus taught is to "love your neighbor?" Should I love all my neighbors in the same way? Would you describe expressing a desire or acting to save the soul of another from going to hell as a loving action?


Yet another example of you making a sentiment of mine absolutist when it is not: I never said it was the "only" thing he taught. However, he did mention it as being one of the two most important commandments of God.

Should you love all your neighbors in the same way? That depends on what that way is.

Expressing words that you want to save a soul from going to hell is not necessarily loving. It can be and often is just that: words. Often there's the implied judgment therein too: 'You're going to hell unless you act the way I say you should.' Of course Jesus also said to judge not and this is what he was referring to... whether someone is going to hell or not is God's decision, not anyone else's, and acting like you know ahead of time where someone's soul is headed is arrogant on that basis and misguided at best. And even if coming from a place of love, the specific actions taken to try and save someone's soul are not necessarily loving or would be received or interpreted as loving, and they may of course have no good effect at all.

Correct, you just treat it that way.


This conversation is starting to resemble arguments with ex-girlfriends. Pointlessness factor approaching critical levels.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:37 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:No one else here is reading what I'm saying and pointing out an army of personal character flaws as you seem to delight in doing.
I've pointed out one thing, that you are not taking into consideration the depth of the topic. You've been continually arguing one thing, without understanding the reality of the situation behind it. Please take a moment to address your beliefs in relation to what reality is.

Regardless of what the Bible says, it is no excuse for one's behavior either way. It is not the fault of some words on a page that someone does anything. "The Bible made me do it" doesn't work in courts of law, does it? It doesn't work as sufficient reasoning for you when someone does something, does it? If it does work for you I think this is an issue of anthropomorphizing a book and ignoring the complexities of human behavior, the concept of free will, and that of personal responsibility.

Like I've said, you really need to learn a bit more about this subject rather than making proclamations. Many times through history, and in various places today, religious scripture has been used as a way of deciding what to do in a court of law.
In many places and times "The Bible told me to" or an equivalent is exactly what law is.

People behave in all sorts of terrible ways simply because they believe that is what their Holy Book wants them to do.

How is this not creating a behavior when new generations of people learn these behaviors from such books and the cultures that values the laws of that book because it is Holy?

I never said that why and how people make decisions isn't complicated. Just the idea that people DO make decisions. My merely mentioning that does not and should not require a lengthy explanation, and when I do not give said lengthy explanation, it does not mean I have a lack of understanding. Sorry!

You didn't merely mention it. You made a declarative and definitive statement. "People decide when to apply what they know, or think they know, and when not to." A false one, one that leads to the rest of your argument. As this statement is not true and is a very different statement than the idea that "sometimes people do make decisions." In the future, rather than defending such a statement which you don't mean; restate what you mean.


What do you mean? Let's have you define happiness. Apparently it needs defining.

What relevance does that have? You honestly can't talk about bigots unless I define the term? Or happiness? Or is this a cute exercise for me to "prove" and "demonstrate" (to you) my non-failure to understand, to comprehend, etc?


So, the point of a defining something is to assist in using language to represent a concept. I and others obviously don't know what you mean by a 'happy person' as it does not match up with the concept commonly associated with the term. When I ask you to define something, I'm doing so because you do not mean what is commonly meant by the word. Thus I do not know what you mean, and am requesting you to tell me what you mean.

I can, and will provide you with a definition but in all likely hood you will say "that's not what I mean." So what do YOU mean. Words are symbols to represent concepts. When you change the concept behind a symbol but still use the same symbol you are likely to create confusion at best and can possibly create something much worse.

I'll give you a couple definitions of a 'happy person'
1. An individual is a 'happy person' when they generally experience -- or feel they experience -- more 'positive' emotions that 'negative'. When their temperament leads them to feel and act in a joyful, energetic and productive -which I can define for you as well if you want- way more than a depressed and destructive way.
2. An individual who always strives to feel happy regardless of the reality of any situation.


The first definition is a general definition, the second one is a more technical one related to positive psychology. Happiness can also be a very destructive behavior as we often experience 'negative' emotions -- such as anger, frustration, disgust or depression -- when something in reality lines up poorly with our perceptions of what is good and bad. Essentially ignoring things that are bad, or deluding oneself to believe they didn't happen, to feel happiness can be very destructive to the self in the long run; not to mention other people or society as a whole.

I'm just going to answer the last question. No, of course not, because everyone is capable of feeling angry, and I believe happiness is a possible condition of human existence.
So why can't bigots be happy people?

Yet another example of you making a sentiment of mine absolutist when it is not: I never said it was the "only" thing he taught. However, he did mention it as being one of the two most important commandments of God.
So when I said "people might interpret things differently" and you respond with "I'm not sure how you can interpret "love your neighbor" differently;" you were just being snide?

Expressing words that you want to save a soul from going to hell is not necessarily loving. It can be and often is just that: words. Often there's the implied judgment therein too: 'You're going to hell unless you act the way I say you should.'
Not it is "you are going to hell unless you act the way Jesus and God say you should." While their understanding of what Jesus and God are saying might be wrong, the sentiment is often about the code of conduct sent from got and not about controlling other people.

If someone honestly believes that what someone is doing is going to damn them to hell forever you don't think they should express that worry to people they care about? Expressing care about someones behavior and how it affects their well-being isn't loving?

Of course Jesus also said to judge not and this is what he was referring to... whether someone is going to hell or not is God's decision, not anyone else's, and acting like you know ahead of time where someone's soul is headed is arrogant on that basis and misguided at best.
Many people would disagree that this is what he meant. Because as previously mentioned, his words are highly ambiguous. Unfortunate that I mentioned this before you acted as if his only words were "love thy neighbor"

This conversation is starting to resemble arguments with ex-girlfriends. Pointlessness factor approaching critical levels.
This statement does what? Asks me to examine if I'm a girl? If I'm a girl conversations inevitably lead to pointlessness?

That you display an inability to look into the depth of problems, use snide comments to avoid thinking about reality and display a poor grasp of language use certainly seems like it could negatively affect communication in a relationship, yes.
Last edited by Zcorp on Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:04 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:03 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:Yes, your understanding that is wrong. I do not believe the Bible "creates" wicked or foolish behavior, any more than it "creates" righteous or wise behavior. There's a big difference between "influence" and "create," and in any case I'm not talking about "inherent foolishness" or "inherent" wickedness as you have suggested. Regardless of what the Bible says, it is no excuse for one's behavior either way. It is not the fault of some words on a page that someone does anything. "The Bible made me do it" doesn't work in courts of law, does it? It doesn't work as sufficient reasoning for you when someone does something, does it? If it does work for you I think this is an issue of anthropomorphizing a book and ignoring the complexities of human behavior, the concept of free will, and that of personal responsibility.


If I may, I think here's where things start getting dicey. Suppose someone were to believe that the Bible ought to be taken as a source of moral authority, in and of itself. That is, that they believe that the Bible explains to us how God wants us to behave, and what God thinks is important for us to know. Hopefully this is not too controversial. Now, suppose that reading that text, you were to come across a passage saying something to the effect of "If you find a sorceress among you, she must be put to death". This is a direct command for something that you should do. This action is morally required by the text. So if you believed that the Bible is telling us something about morality, and telling us something about what God values and what He doesn't, it seems clear that He doesn't like sorcery, and has no problem with people killing sorceresses (for whatever definition of "sorceress" you care to us).

Now, you might say, well, this is an Old Testament verse. Clearly the command "Love your neighbour as yourself" takes precedence. But love your neighbour as yourself is Leviticus 19:18 (the love the Lord command is Deut 6:5). These passages exist concurrently. If God had only wanted you to love your neighbour, and not to kill sorceresses, He presumably would have just left out the command to kill sorceresses. We might conclude then that either 1) the sorceress is not your neighbour or 2) killing the sorceress is, in fact, loving your neighbour as yourself.

What's important about this example is not so much the specifics of the killing of sorceresses. What's important is the realization that if people treat the Bible as a place where we should find information about how to live and behave morally, then we should not be surprised to find that people will sometimes obey those commands that are, from a modern perspective, pretty heinous. You ask whether or not being bigoted makes people happy. Well consider, the Bible says, in various places, that we should undertake the Lord's commands with joy and gladness, and that doing God's work leads not only to salvation, but also to peace and righteousness. Therefore, if the Bible is actually telling people that it is okay to be bigoted, or, even more, if they are required to be bigoted, then it is entirely possible that doing so is bringing the bigots happiness, because they believe that they are doing the Lord's work.

Expressing words that you want to save a soul from going to hell is not necessarily loving. It can be and often is just that: words. Often there's the implied judgment therein too: 'You're going to hell unless you act the way I say you should.' Of course Jesus also said to judge not and this is what he was referring to... whether someone is going to hell or not is God's decision, not anyone else's, and acting like you know ahead of time where someone's soul is headed is arrogant on that basis and misguided at best. And even if coming from a place of love, the specific actions taken to try and save someone's soul are not necessarily loving or would be received or interpreted as loving, and they may of course have no good effect at all.


A little nitpick, but Jesus does not actually say that you should never judge anyone. In context, it's fairly clear that what Jesus is saying is that you should examine your own life, and purify your own state, before you judge the actions of others. He states that if you want to remove a speck from your brother's eye (to judge him), you should first make sure that there is not a plank in your own eye that is blocking your vision. This is a statement about hypocrisy (one of Jesus' favourite topics).
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby morriswalters » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:56 pm UTC

First, like all books the Bible is understood as a Gestalt. Just as you cannot carry the whole cloth of War and Peace at one time, it is impossible to think about the totality of Bible at once. People will draw from it what they will driven by their understanding in total. This is no different than any written text. Second the Bible was written and put together by people 2000 or more years ago and had to be congruent with their ability to understand it given the totality of their knowledge at the time. It also had to make sense in their era. Language is flexible enough that people can bring a modern understanding to the writing, as they have done for 2000 years. Discarding any debate over the existence of God, the book has managed to stand the test of time, producing no greater evil then the evils that were practiced era's it has existed in. Can anyone name a text that has served as well to drive a common basis for a group to band together. Certainly people have made an attempt over time to do so in limited forms. Das Kapital and Mao's little red book, to name two.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby krogoth » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:46 am UTC

Can anyone name a text that has served as well to drive a common basis for a group to band together?

Recently? Dictionary's, Quran fairly close in age as the Bible, Torah

I can see what you are pointing at, with religious texts surviving so long, but isn't it because their idea's can't evolve as well as other things like math? Algebra books could be seen as over 4000 years old and there are plenty of people who still study it, with more rigour than any religious book too I expect.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:15 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Can anyone name a text that has served as well to drive a common basis for a group to band together?


Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution? Or any half-decent national constitution, for that matter.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:49 am UTC

Having external evidence is very important. It does not have to be one specific type though. Some people compare historic accuracy, internal logic, observation, prediction and practical application.

Do you have reason to believe the Declaration of Independence document is true? That the people who wrote it existed? That the history and claims made in it are true? Or that it has value for those who live by it? How about changing it today? These are valid and important questions. What about crimes committed "because of" the Declaration of Independence? I'm sure people can blame that for good or bad.

Legal documents are different from religious texts. However they have similarities too. We know legal documents only apply in context. It might be illegal to "drink and drive" or "drink x amount and drive". That does not mean it's illegal to drink or illegal to drive. Do we accept the laws or guidelines in religious texts in the same way? Or do we jump to conclusions such as "it says never to drink!!!"?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby krogoth » Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:27 am UTC

The devil is in the details it seems(Bible VS Law) ironically, it seems the bible is the one lacing the details.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby morriswalters » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:02 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Can anyone name a text that has served as well to drive a common basis for a group to band together?


Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution? Or any half-decent national constitution, for that matter.


No need to apply until it has lasted 2000 years. And at least in the case of the US Constitution, it allowed slavery, separate but equal, Jim Crow, and took armed conflict to resolve those differences and the civil rights movement in the modern era to bring some finality to the situation. We are constantly updating our understanding of the founding fathers meaning. The Constitution was written in an era that was vastly different than today.

krogoth wrote:I can see what you are pointing at, with religious texts surviving so long, but isn't it because their idea's can't evolve as well as other things like math? Algebra books could be seen as over 4000 years old and there are plenty of people who still study it, with more rigour than any religious book too I expect.


The interpretation evolves over time not the text. The conceit is that the text is divinely inspired and that man's understanding of the text evolves with man.

Technical Ben in the case of the Bible evidence need not apply. It would just get in the way of a good story.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:32 pm UTC

Sorry, there are parts of the text that are not story. The bits that are genealogy, history, law and contract spring to mind. No "story" involved there. Quite the opposite of entertaining, but rather practical for those who needed it.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:50 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Can anyone name a text that has served as well to drive a common basis for a group to band together?


Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution? Or any half-decent national constitution, for that matter.


No need to apply until it has lasted 2000 years. And at least in the case of the US Constitution, it allowed slavery, separate but equal, Jim Crow, and took armed conflict to resolve those differences and the civil rights movement in the modern era to bring some finality to the situation. We are constantly updating our understanding of the founding fathers meaning. The Constitution was written in an era that was vastly different than today.


It has served as a common basis to band people together, that's all you asked for. I'm not passing any judgment on the content. Now, whether or not promoting group identity over individual identity is a benefit an open question, but the Constitution did that much. Of course we shouldn't apply morality from 2000 years ago, or even 100 years ago, to modern situations, and that's part of the problem with religious texts. That's why documents like the Constitution only set out very general principles, and can evolve to fit the times (or can be outright amended if they have some really stupid shit in them). What's the process for amending the text of the Bible to conform with modern understanding of morality?

morriswalters wrote:The interpretation evolves over time not the text. The conceit is that the text is divinely inspired and that man's understanding of the text evolves with man.


Well, the problem is that most of the people who value what the Bible has to say believe that it is divinely inspired. It's kind of a core belief of their religion.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby morriswalters » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:27 pm UTC

It doesn't need to be amended. It is so obscure that you can literally invoke anything from it that your heart might desire. This would be true for any Religious text. The original question has always been easy to answer. It's not rocket science. People put their faith in Religious texts because they like to. They want to, maybe even need to. They want answers to questions that don't have answers, so they make them up. You will never convince me that most people will reason their way to clarity. Most people don't want to. I will never be convinced that most people who believe in God have a complete knowledge of what is written in the Bible, nor that they want or need it. People want meaning, and everyday life is pretty meaningless for most of us. The Bible gives it all meaning.

I've stated this here any number of times. You have two choices. Either God was responsible for the Bible or man was. If not God then you must accept that every evil attributed to the Bible is a product of man. And every good. There is no one else to blame. Once you accept that then you can extrapolate that if man didn't have the Bible he would have invented something else. There is no reason to believe that the world would have been or will be a better place without it. Not as long as man is man.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:39 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:
Jave D wrote:
DSenette wrote:can you define "happy"? or what are the characteristics of a "happy person"? what are the metrics involved? would the same things that make you happy make them happy?


A good book on happiness is The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, if you're interested. It's not about "metrics" though when I talk bout whether someone is happy, other than the metric of my own discernment. Happiness isn't quantifiable.

i'm pretty sure i know what makes me happy. and i can be QUITE certain that there are at least a few of them that would not make you happy in the slightest.


That's good...

buh? it is about metrics....you just asked if it's possible for bigots to be happy. how can you say they aren't happy if you can't measure happiness with a metric?


You're seriously asking me this?

How can you say if a quality is there, unless you can MEASURE said quality?

How can you tell if the lights are on unless you can take count the fucking photons!

so, basically, someone can't be happy unless YOU say they're happy? what are you even talking about anymore?


I just mentioned that bigots don't seem to be very happy people. Apparently that's controversial. Oh well.

i've known quite a few people who i would consider absolute shit...completely worthless wastes of humanity. but they themselves consider themselves to be QUITE happy.


So the question is, do you take them at their word? Or do you have some sort of amazing super-human ability to discern for yourself whether another person seems happy or seems to be just bullshitting him/herself and you? And no, this isn't a super-human ability and we use it all the time.

Zcorp wrote:I've read what you said, and yes of course your ability to convey understanding of what you mean is your problem in a discussion.


No one else here is reading what I'm saying and pointing out an army of personal character flaws as you seem to delight in doing. You're choosing to do that, based entirely off of how you're reading shit into what I'm saying that I haven't actually said. Of course I can always be more understanding and improve my communication skills, but when someone such as yourself reads into what I've written a bunch of things I haven't actually written it's a case of user error.

Which is incidentally very much like how people behave with regards to the Bible. One person can read it and see something, another person can read it and see something entirely different; one person can read it and react not at all, or react one way - and another person can read it and react in some completely opposite manner. These actions and understandings and reactions and behaviors reflect more on the state of the actor than on the thing being reacted to.

"People will use practically anything to try and justify their foolishness or wickedness, and of course that can include the Bible, the Quran, a church's teachings, their parents, school, the government, etc etc. When they do so it reflects on their negative personality, not on the external thing or person they're blaming for their own choices."

You said that quite clearly that when people 'justify' their behavior through citing the Bible it is not the fault of the Bible. Was I wrong in understanding this as you meaning that it is entirely an internal thing and that the Bible had nothing to do with creating nor influencing that behavior? That it has never influenced or created 'foolish' or 'wicked' behavior? That people who cite the bible for a guide to how they have behaved are infact just inherently 'foolish' and 'wicked' people regardless of the anything from the Bible?


Yes, your understanding that is wrong. I do not believe the Bible "creates" wicked or foolish behavior, any more than it "creates" righteous or wise behavior. There's a big difference between "influence" and "create," and in any case I'm not talking about "inherent foolishness" or "inherent" wickedness as you have suggested. Regardless of what the Bible says, it is no excuse for one's behavior either way. It is not the fault of some words on a page that someone does anything. "The Bible made me do it" doesn't work in courts of law, does it? It doesn't work as sufficient reasoning for you when someone does something, does it? If it does work for you I think this is an issue of anthropomorphizing a book and ignoring the complexities of human behavior, the concept of free will, and that of personal responsibility.

Like I said, you are not displaying understanding of the depth of this topic. Why and how people behavior is incredibly complicated.


I never said that why and how people make decisions isn't complicated. Just the idea that people DO make decisions. My merely mentioning that does not and should not require a lengthy explanation, and when I do not give said lengthy explanation, it does not mean I have a lack of understanding. Sorry!

So what do you mean by a 'happy person?'


What do you mean by it? When you say:

Yes I believe there are many many many bigots who are happy people. Not only would I classify many o f the bigots alive today as happy people, I would also classify many of the bigots throughout history as happy people.


What do you mean? Let's have you define happiness. Apparently it needs defining.

I suppose it would be prudent to have you define bigot for me as well.


What relevance does that have? You honestly can't talk about bigots unless I define the term? Or happiness? Or is this a cute exercise for me to "prove" and "demonstrate" (to you) my non-failure to understand, to comprehend, etc?

So all bigots get angry or post/talk about conspiracies?


There you go again, inserting an absolutist "all" into what was merely an example.

Does talkingly angrily about a a group make you a bigot? Is anyone opposing a group of people that want to have rights for women greater than rights for men a bigot, or is someone who believes that the system shouldn't assist in overcoming the inherent relatively negative position women were/are in socially a bigot? And is anyone capable of anger incapable of being happy?


I'm just going to answer the last question. No, of course not, because everyone is capable of feeling angry, and I believe happiness is a possible condition of human existence.

So you believe the only thing Jesus taught is to "love your neighbor?" Should I love all my neighbors in the same way? Would you describe expressing a desire or acting to save the soul of another from going to hell as a loving action?


Yet another example of you making a sentiment of mine absolutist when it is not: I never said it was the "only" thing he taught. However, he did mention it as being one of the two most important commandments of God.

Should you love all your neighbors in the same way? That depends on what that way is.

Expressing words that you want to save a soul from going to hell is not necessarily loving. It can be and often is just that: words. Often there's the implied judgment therein too: 'You're going to hell unless you act the way I say you should.' Of course Jesus also said to judge not and this is what he was referring to... whether someone is going to hell or not is God's decision, not anyone else's, and acting like you know ahead of time where someone's soul is headed is arrogant on that basis and misguided at best. And even if coming from a place of love, the specific actions taken to try and save someone's soul are not necessarily loving or would be received or interpreted as loving, and they may of course have no good effect at all.

Correct, you just treat it that way.


This conversation is starting to resemble arguments with ex-girlfriends. Pointlessness factor approaching critical levels.

did you forget that you made a declarative statement that bigots aren't happy people? you made that statement so you must have some kind of way of measuring happiness, or you must be the arbiter of happiness, otherwise how can you claim that bigots aren't happy people? or aren't capable of being happy? you need to define every term in that sentence to make it make sense. define bigot so we know who you consider a bigot so we can decide whether the happy bigots we've ever seen match your definition of a bigot, if they don't we'll exclude them from the census. define happy so we can do the same, define able to be happy, or capable, or is.


as to the "bible made me do it", the "bible influenced my decisions"......if you want to take that argument, then we should remove any DUI laws, because, alcohol simply influencing your actions (instead of outright causing them) apparently removes any kind of relation to your actions from the influencer.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby thorgold » Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:57 am UTC

Apologies for breaking the current chain of discussion, but several of the themes of the OP (and following posts) regarding the authenticity and reliability of religious texts (namely the Bible) are my forte. I'm late to the party that I've been waiting for <_<

I'm somewhat confused when people call out the Bible on its reliability. "It's been translated, it's 2000 years old, the authors are unreliable," et cetera, et cetera. There are dozens of arguments as to why the Bible isn't credible as a historical or even theological work, but what confounds me is to the hypocrisy of those arguments when the Bible is compared to other works of significant age.

Following wall is spoilered by category.

Reliability: Do we have the Originals?
Spoiler:
Take, for instance, the argument that no original manuscripts of the Biblical books exist. It's true - of the 66 books of the Bible, we have no originals - no letters from Paul, no personal records of John's revelations. The same is true for all works of age - the baseline for accuracy is how close to the originals the copies were written, and how many copies we have. In this category, the Bible absolutely trounces anything we have. Let's compare with well-known secular works: Tacitus' Annals of Imperial Rome, Josephus' The Jewish War, and Homer's sagas.

Of Tacitus' Annals[i] were written in 116 AD. Our modern translations are based on two copies. One has volumes one through six, and is dated to 850 AD, the other has volumes eleven to sixteen, dated to 1105 AD. Josephus' [i]Jewish War has nine copies, the earliest being a Latin Vulgate translation written three centuries later, with the others all dating past a full millenia. Homer's works have 650 Greek translations, but they all date from more than a millenia after he was estimated to live.

To restate: these well-trusted, extremely credible sources have average out at having a dozen or so copies with several centuries between the original work and the manuscript we have.

The Bible has 5,000 Greek manuscripts written within a century of the originals. 99 are codexes, which contain entire books, rather than fragments (a few chapters or verses). Four specific codexes alone could provide the entire New Testament between them, with the other manuscripts simply providing confirmation of authentic copies.

Honestly, I have a hard time not laughing out loud when someone says that modern translations aren't true to the original manuscripts. Compared to other works of antiquity, we might as well have the originals! Really - some of these manuscripts are dated within a decade of the originals. Nowhere in pre-Gutenburg literature do you have that kind of proximity!

Content: Is it Presenting Factual Material?
Spoiler:
Many cast doubt on the content of the New Testament. "Miracles? Resurrection? God? Bah, that's superstition, no way it can be historically accurate!" If you start from the preconception that the supernatural is impossible, you'll certainly arrive at the conclusion that the New Testament is false. However, looking at the facts alone, the Bible again proves itself credible.

First of all, the original authors were eyewitnesses to the events described. Eyewitnesses. Nowhere, nowhere in ancient history do you get eyewitness accounts. To draw on earlier examples, Tacitus described events centuries before his time, and even Josephus wasn't present for the events he documented. Even by extremely liberal estimates, the gospels were written by 62 AD - 30 years after Jesus' death. By conservative estimates, they were written within a decade.

Even with as much as 30 years passing (which is in itself unbelievalbe by ancient standards!), these authors of scripture came from a culture that centered its learning around memorization! The average Jewish boy was required by tradition to memorize the entire Talmud (first five books of the Old Testament) by his 13th birthday. They didn't learn by books or scrolls - they memorized vocally! For a scholar, memorization of the entire Old Testament was downright average! The Jewish culture was built around preservation of facts and memories! In short, if anyone could accurately recount events decades after the fact, it was the Apostles.

So, they had the ability to write accurate history. What about their intention? Wouldn't they portray Jesus beneficially, ignoring the negative and accentuating the positive? Two things counteract this argument: first, the apostles had nothing to gain by lying - their message was strongest if truthfully told. If they were editting for "cleanliness," why do they retain embarassing anecdotes of their failures? Why retain Peter's denial, or their infighting and pettiness? Why retain theological conundrums raised by Jesus that could easily be answered by a few edits? Second, the Apostles never recanted. All but one of the twelve were executed - Peter in particular was crucified, which is even now considered the most painful method of murder devised by man in history. If the Apostles lied about Jesus, or even if they were telling the truth, why die over it unless it was authentic?

They authors had the ability and the trustworthiness to write accurately. But what about external evidence? I've only mentioned the Apostle's work, what did Jewish writings of the time have to say? The Jews were obviously opposed to Christ - they executed him, after all. However, the Jewish Misnah (the collective work of leading Rabbi over the centuries on the Talmud) makes mention of Jesus - positively. The Misnah, written by the fiercest antagonists to Christianity, itself confirmed Jesus' supernatural acts, only disputing the source of his power being demons rather than God. Josephus, Pliny the Younger, and other notable historians make mention of Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth, in works normally reserved for VIPs, generals, and kings!

Even the miracles of Jesus were corroborated. The earthquake and darkness that struck the world after Jesus' death were recorded by Thallus, Julius Africanus, and Phlegon - who were living in Greece and Turkey. A solar eclipse effecting the entire Mediterranean, to the point that "stars could be seen" (Africanus)? Africanus himself casts doubt on the natural cause of the event, hypothesizing the darkness was supernatural without even making mention of Jesus!

Finally, consider the fact that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses. If eyewitnesses of Jesus were writing false things, why do we have no record of sceptics? Wouldn't someone say "I was there, he didn't heal that man!" or "He didn't feed 5,000 men!" Yet we have no records of people denying his miracles. As mentioned before, the Mishnah, written by Jesus' harshest critics, affirmed his supernatural acts, if not his supernatural origin.

To summarize: Not only were the authors able and reliable, the events they described were summarily confirmed by trusted secular sources.

Counterarguments to Specific Lines by the OP (Good Summary of Above Walls):
Spoiler:
Throw all this in with how many opportunities people must have had to do this with the amount of time that has passed since the conception of many religious texts and I don't understand why people can have the faith they do in these words.

In essence, the question posed here is "The Bible was written 2,000 years ago. How do we know it hasn't changed since then?" Essentially, this is a lack of understanding of how Biblical translation works. The Bible isn't translated from translations. It didn't go Original > Copy > Copy > x1000 > Today. It went Original > Copy (singular) > Modern. Therefore, the possible errors made in the past two millenia don't matter - we still have copies from within a decade of the originals!

Between the degree to which memory is known to be unreliable, the tendency people have to try and get themselves the best lot in life (and manipulating religious texts to put out their personal beliefs doesn't seem too unlikely to say the least)

Two partS: 1st, memory is unreliable; 2nd, people are biased. First, the Gospels were written by Jews. If you have knowledge of Jewish culture, you know that the Jews are infamous for their attention to detail in memorization. Boys are required to memorize the Talmud (Gensis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) by their 13th birthday - FLAWLESSLY. The average scholar was expected to have the entire Old Testament memorized! The Jews had impeccable memories and consitency to truth - unlike any other culture, they resisted cultural osmosis after 70 years in Persian captivity with no change to their histories or laws.

For the Apostles to recall the massively important teachings and events of Jesus ten years after the fact would have been a cakewalk! The issue with assuming memory is bad is because you compare memory to a modern level. For a modern person to remember the entire timeline of a single day is considered impressive; this is because our level of technology has rendered memorization moot. Why memorize a book when you can Google the information you need? Ancient literature was overwhelmingly based on vocal transmission and accuracy to truth, the Jews in particular.

As for the second part, the apostles had nothing to gain by telling the story they did. By claiming Jesus to be the Messiah, they gained the scorn of the Jews and the Romans. 11 of the 12 apostles were executed, yet none recanted. The apostles were eyewitnesses - they weren't children raised from the womb to believe in Jesus, they saw his acts and followed him of their own accord. Why would they die for a lie? Furthermore, their gospels were written within eyewitness lifetime of the events - the secular sources from that time do not conflict with the apostle's accounts, but in fact confirm the miraculous acts of Jesus. Even if the apostles did skew the gospels to be more acceptable, we would have documents saying "Jesus didn't do this!" or "They left this out!" We don't.


To be honest, I have to hold back giddy laughter when someone claims that the Bible, as a historical source, is untrustworthy. If the Bible isn't a reliable historical source, then, in all fairness, we have to discount everything that doesn't meet the standards set for the Bible. Which, by extension, implies we throw out the majority of recorded human history.
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