Research on Belief in God

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Sep 10, 2009
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Caruut said:
The Bible is a big book with lots of contradictory parts. In lots of cases, you simply have to choose what you want and have done with it. In these cases, religion is simply used to justify your beliefs. If there is a an all-powerful, all-seeing, compassionate god, he/she/it/they don't want me to believe. So, I can just live my life as normal.
The bible is either the word of god or it isn't. And if it is, then you don't get to pick and choose the parts you agree with and ignore the rest.
 
I thought this worth translating, having recently been to the Caribbean.

Comment and response to Italian philosopher Umberto Galimberti, in la Repubblica, Donna magazine

Fidel Castro would seem to be ready for conversion and, therefore, pope Ratzinger races to get hold of the last communist stronghold. Nothing to do, even within the most tenacious communism there is evidently a Catholic heart beating. A revolutionary, dictator and apparently irreducible heretic: the Vatican, with biblical patience, waits at the key, in order to send a blessing in extrimis to thus save another sole within the accounting books of History. Yet the question is the following: among the dictators and totalitarian regimes of every kind, did a latent religious thought exercise an influence? Castro himself has in part provided a response, when he said the revolutionary nature of Christian doctrine made an impact upon his formative education: in fact he, too, "educated" the Cuban dissidents, just as the popes of history educated "infidels" and "heretics". Well then, should we too expect to be educated by their lords?

Paolo Izzo, Roma


Between Christianity and Marxism there is a profound relationship beneath the surface that does not consist so much in their shared pretension to educate humanity, as much as in a conception of time that is no longer based on the cyclical revolutions of nature, as it was for the ancient Greeks, but a historical process that leads to a salvific, utopian and revolutionary promise. If one does not comprehend this, one remains, like the majority of people, within that superficial vision that contrasts Christianity with Marxism upon the basis of either the affirmation or the negation of the existence of God, which in fact does mark a difference, however also conceals that which intimately connects their shared world vision.

In contrast to the ancient Greeks, for whom time, in so far as it is understood as an eternal repetition of nature's cycles, lodges no meaning whatsoever, the Judeo-Christian tradition furnishes time with a "sense": for which that which was preannounced is realized in the end. And when time is furnished with a sense, "history" is born, a dimension which is totally absent in the classical world of the ancient Greeks, when the "historians" Herodotus and Thucydides merely limited themselves to retelling events of which they had been eye-witness testimonies. Besides the word histor in Greek means "testimony."

Once translated into history, the events that happen throughout time are removed from their insignificance and are projected towards a finality: which for Christianity is the salvation that is realized in the Great Beyond after death, whereas for Marxism the betterment of the human condition that is to be created now, in this world. As much as these differences in objectives stand out, what unites the two worldviews is the "eschatological" vision of time that is at the basis of both, for which in the end (éschaton) that which Christianity foretold and what Marxism promised is realized.

The Christian preannouncement has no verifications, while the Marxist promise has historically failed. Yet Christianity's optimistic vision of history with which Western Civilization has been animated has not been exhausted. By contaminating as it has the applied sciences and technology with its optimism, which doesn't look to the future in the manner of the ancient Greeks as an eternal repetition of the past, but as "progress;" sociology, and in general all forms of knowledge, have their research promoted by a faith in the future that Christianity, and no other source, had instilled in Western thought..

Yet if it is true as Nietzsche pronounced, "God is dead," because he no longer "makes the world go round." That is if I take the word "God" out of the equation I don't have much difficulty today in comprehending the contemporary world - whereas if I take away the word "money" or "technology," in all likelihood I would no longer be able to understand what makes the world go round. Well then, in this case even the optimism which Christianity has emitted in Western culture goes away and, from a "history" that is loaded with meaning, one returns to "time" as a mere succession of days with no finality. Money and technology, in fact, have no other objective than their own accumulation (money), or that of its own auto-strengthening and development (technology), for which they are no longer "means" to conduct civilization toward an ultimate final state, but, as we can personally attest to today, "ends" to reach in and of themselves.

He (Castro) that doesn't resign himself to living in a time without an ultimate end, he that doesn't renounce an eschatological vision of time (history must be leading somewhere!) like both Christianity and Marxism: doesn't see what difficulty is interposed in their encounter. Perhaps even in the name of the Gospel, where to the poor was promised the Kingdom of Heaven, which for Marx could be realized down here on Earth totally in the absence of a divinity.
 
Caruut said:
The Bible is a big book with lots of contradictory parts. In lots of cases, you simply have to choose what you want and have done with it. In these cases, religion is simply used to justify your beliefs. If there is a an all-powerful, all-seeing, compassionate god, he/she/it/they don't want me to believe. So, I can just live my life as normal.
can you give some examples of what you'd consider contradictory parts to be?
 

Polish

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Mar 11, 2009
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on3m@n@rmy said:
can you give some examples of what you'd consider contradictory parts to be?
on3m@n@rmy, as you know the Christian Bible consists of 2 parts.
The Old Testament, aka the Torah or Jewish Bible.
The New Testament, the life of Jesus.

The New Testament that we read today has been translated and retranslated and retranslated again. By hand mostly. With incredible hand drawn artwork in the earlier versions.

And the earliest manuscripts, now almost all gone, are written in CAPITALLETTERSWITHNOPUNCUATIONMARKSORSPACESBETWEENWORDS.

Biblical Scholars find many contradictory parts. But not too many of those scholars will be responding to your question here on the CN forum lol.

BTW, I read a great book a few years back written by a bible thumping fundamentalist who believed that "God Spoke A Book" when it came to the bible. He turned a non-believer when he found out how the Bible was actually written. It freaked him out big time. But his book is a great historical breakdown on how the New Testament was edited and translated and "typo'd" throughout history. The name of the book escapes me at the moment. I will add the name later in an edit.

BTW again, my God fanboyism puts my Lance fanboyism to shame.
There is Awesome, ANDTHEREISTRULYAWESOMELOL:)
 
Shimano vs. Christianity

Anyone remember the old Shimano ads that appeared full-page (color) in VeloNews, usually back cover (outer), iirc? I'm fairly certain Phil Anderson (then w/ Motorola) appeared in one.

The tagline was something like,

"When Racing is Your Religion"

ha!

Shimano would probably be hassled for disrespecting Christianity if they tried to run that ad now. But maybe not - cyclists seem by and large a pretty progressive bunch. lolx2, just thought of a religion joke having to do w/ miracles, LA and 7 Tours de France, but I'll keep it to myself.

I honestly do sometimes wish I was ignorant of science, reason and logic and could blindly embrace belief in some invisible judgmental father-figure in the sky who was looking out for me. It would be rad to think that simply by having faith in his existence and omniscience (while not breaking any of his 10 "laws" - but promptly and sincerely confessing such a transgression, were I to stray) I could expect to ascend to the Kingdom of Heaven and enter a veritable paradise for the entire, eternal afterlife. Siiiigh.

At least the rituals of Catholicism have provided some sense of familiarity and comfort after the passing of several close relatives.

What was it that Sarah Palin said, "I'm the daughter of a science teacher and I believe in Evolution but I can't deny that I see God's hand in the creation of this marvelous world?" (paraphrasing) Ugh, please. That would be the same God who then permitted his clergy to sexually abuse countless vulnerable children, after which he allowed the ruling elite of the Church to cover-up that abuse for decades until they were forced into the open in the 1980's by the secular hand of the State.

Good article by Glenn Greenwald on how in establishment Democratic circles, it's ok to attack the mental health of maverick politicians who oppose the President's extreme policies, but it's perfectly sane to hold wacky religious beliefs:

"So let’s recap the state of mental health in establishment Democratic circles: the President who claims (and exercises) the power to target American citizens for execution-by-CIA in total secrecy and with no charges — as well as those who dutifully follow him — are sane, sober and Serious, meriting great respect. By contrast, one of the very few members of Congress who stands up and vehemently objects to this most radical power — “The idea that the United States has the ability to summarily execute a US citizen ought to send chills racing up and down the spines of every person of conscience” — is a total wackjob, meriting patronizing mockery....

Is any of that really any more strange than the litany of beliefs which the world’s major religions require? Is Barack Obama “wacky” because he claims to believe that Jesus turned water into wine, rose from the dead and will soon welcome him to heaven? Is Chuck Schumer bizarre because he seems to believe that there’s some big fatherly figure sitting in the sky who spewed fire and brimstone at those who broke the laws he sent down on some stones and now hovers over him judging his every move? Is Harry Reid a weirdo because he apparently venerates as divine the “visions” of a man who had dozens of wives, including some already married to other men?"

That said, there are times (especially now) when I wish I could really buy into religion unequivocally, maybe even evangelicalism! It would be so comforting to know I was always right, everyone who disagreed w/ me was wrong, and that if a bus ran me over that afternoon I'd have a much more pleasant after-life.

But necessity/strong personal need can't replace genuine faith. That is, even though on might have a need for the (possibly) steadying hand of religion, in saying they accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, they'd be doing so almost opportunistically, w/o genuine faith.
 
Jul 8, 2009
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Polish said:
on3m@n@rmy, as you know the Christian Bible consists of 2 parts.
The Old Testament, aka the Torah or Jewish Bible.
The New Testament, the life of Jesus.

The New Testament that we read today has been translated and retranslated and retranslated again. By hand mostly. With incredible hand drawn artwork in the earlier versions.

And the earliest manuscripts, now almost all gone, are written in CAPITALLETTERSWITHNOPUNCUATIONMARKSORSPACESBETWEENWORDS.

Biblical Scholars find many contradictory parts. But not too many of those scholars will be responding to your question here on the CN forum lol.

BTW, I read a great book a few years back written by a bible thumping fundamentalist who believed that "God Spoke A Book" when it came to the bible. He turned a non-believer when he found out how the Bible was actually written. It freaked him out big time. But his book is a great historical breakdown on how the New Testament was edited and translated and "typo'd" throughout history. The name of the book escapes me at the moment. I will add the name later in an edit.

BTW again, my God fanboyism puts my Lance fanboyism to shame.
There is Awesome, ANDTHEREISTRULYAWESOMELOL:)
GO(L)D...

Love of Lance is one thing... Love of God a whole new level. Kudos Polish. I was raised Catholic and don't attend church slavishly every Sunday... But I consider myself spiritual.. IMO.. It's how you live your life.
 
joe_papp said:
That said, there are times (especially now) when I wish I could really buy into religion unequivocally, maybe even evangelicalism! It would be so comforting to know I was always right, everyone who disagreed w/ me was wrong, and that if a bus ran me over that afternoon I'd have a much more pleasant after-life.
Speak for yourself (sarcasm). I prefer doubt. It's healthier and spares us from being foolish, and worse.

At any rate, personally, my disbelief is simply an affirmation of a limitation, which, in fact, is something that the people of faith convince themselves they have gone beyond, and upon which every religious dogma and absolutism has been constructed. They clad themselves, mentally and through all the religious precepts, in an iron case to safeguard the "special" status with which they believe their faith has privileged them, or given them hope. As one can't do otherwise to avoid the contradictions inherent in any suspension of reason and stricture to knowledge basic to the human condition that religion, of any kind, presupposes.

There have been countless moments when dogma and absolutism, be it religious or political (here is where religious and political persecution partake of the same ideological matter), have produced the worst historical episodes. Thus something apparently harmless and good, has been, unfortunatley not infrequently, the sleep of reason that has produced the most horrifying of monsters civilization has ever known.

This alone, as well as my on natural aversion to absolutism, of any kind, makes doubt seem like the only way to avoid repeating the same ghastly crimes man simply has not been able to avoid through religion (taken in the sense of any fanatical adherence to one's personal beliefs, however truthful and righteous they may seem). Besides those who claim to be the bearers of a non-negotiable Truth and unconditional righteousness, are insupportably presumptuous and full of themselves.
 
Some good global news today, as Pope Benedict arrived in Cuba, and was warmly welcomed by Raul, who also said that Cuba favors open religion for all. It's been suspected for some time that Fidel and probably Raul have been "closet" Catholics the whole time. But now that Fidel is likely on his death bed, and Raul is getting pretty old and slow, questions likely came into their minds, and the Pope was welcome.

I haven't been to Cuba (I know Joe has), but can't help but think there must be many Catholics there as well, and I find this openness from Cuba refreshing.
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
Some good global news today, as Pope Benedict arrived in Cuba, and was warmly welcomed by Raul, who also said that Cuba favors open religion for all. It's been suspected for some time that Fidel and probably Raul have been "closet" Catholics the whole time. But now that Fidel is likely on his death bed, and Raul is getting pretty old and slow, questions likely came into their minds, and the Pope was welcome.

I haven't been to Cuba (I know Joe has), but can't help but think there must be many Catholics there as well, and I find this openness from Cuba refreshing.
There are many Catholics in Cuba, like in all Latin American countries. They have tried to limit it, but it is difficult to root out a religion in 1 generation.

As for Castros being closet Catholics, well in Latin America Socialists or Communists who are Catholics have no problem merging the 2 into what is often known as liberation theology.

Sometimes the religious identify more with the left than the right, because of the poverty of the very religious.

In El Salvador for example many priests took the side of the Marxism which led to persecutions against the church by the right wing regime (usually more associated with the church) famously leading to the assasnation of the Archbishop - Oscar Romero, for speaking out.

Camilo Torres is perhaps the best known example, a Catholic priest in Colombia who joined the ELN, a guirella army in the jungles and quickly became 1 of its leaders.

The ELN was one of 3 major revolutionary armies, more specifically the one allied to Cuba, (EPL to China and FARC to Soviet Union).

and yet during this time Castro continued to fight the church in Cuba. He accused the church of collaborating with the CIA he even at times rejected Catholics from his own party.

It would be very difficult for a closet Catholic to oppose their own church this way.
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
Some good global news today, as Pope Benedict arrived in Cuba, and was warmly welcomed by Raul, who also said that Cuba favors open religion for all. It's been suspected for some time that Fidel and probably Raul have been "closet" Catholics the whole time. But now that Fidel is likely on his death bed, and Raul is getting pretty old and slow, questions likely came into their minds, and the Pope was welcome.

I haven't been to Cuba (I know Joe has), but can't help but think there must be many Catholics there as well, and I find this openness from Cuba refreshing.
Cuba is definitely a traditionally Catholic country, with strong religious traditions on the island...but, unfortunately a lot of ppl my age there don't have much feeling for Catholicism, since they grew-up w/o having the Church play an active role in their life. Remember, the gov't basically secularized the country over 30-or-so years following the Revolucion, and the state didn't ease up on religion until the early-90's, after collapse of USSR, loss of subsidies and start of the "Special Period" when things were very grim in Cuba.

So Cubans were gradually able to reconnect w/ the Church in the decade immediately after the start of Special Period.

Now probably over half the country identifies as Catholic.

But Santería has been part of religious culture on the island since the first slaves, I believe.

Fidel and Raul are evil, opportunistic men who - if there is a Hell - will hopefully burn in it, and their welcoming of the Pope again to Cuba still doesn't compensate for the utter destruction that wrought upon the Church and its followers after the "success" of their revolution.
 
There always remained a minority elites on the island that had retained their Catholicism, which, like most places of Latina America, is a Catholicism paganiggante, and hence imbued with cult imagery and superstition (miraculous Madonnas, tutelary saints and so forth).

The majority poor on the island, having been subjected to socialism for the past forty years, can now look forward to being brainwashed, being driven out of their minds (literally) by Catholicism and evangelism . The prosyletizers will be chomping at the bit for sure.

They poor and the uneducated are always the easiest prey, like in Africa.
 

Polish

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Mar 11, 2009
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Red Rick said:
Religion is the never ending discussion about who has the best imaginary friend, although pastafarianism is just cool:D
Pastafarianism is pretty deep stuff lol.
But it just reminds me of what Francis Bacon wrote in The Essays: Of Atheism, 1601,
"A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism;
but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion."

And here is a copy of an early papyrus version of the New Testament fyi.
Nothing like reading it in the original language. This language escapes me lol again.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misquoting_Jesus
 
Polish said:
Pastafarianism is pretty deep stuff lol.
But it just reminds me of what Francis Bacon wrote in The Essays: Of Atheism, 1601,
"A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism;
but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion."

And here is a copy of an early papyrus version of the New Testament fyi.
Nothing like reading it in the original language. This language escapes me lol again.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misquoting_Jesus
While according to Machiavelli, Catholicism and the bad example of the clergy worsened the temperments of the Italians of his day, rendering them (these are his own words) senza religione e cattivi, "without religion and brutish."
 
Jul 26, 2011
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The Hitch said:
Sometimes the religious identify more with the left than the right
Absolutely. In several countries, you can find Christian political parties of Samaritan leaning, meaning they're for things like state health service safety nets and foreign aid (as in basic supplies for poor countries, rather than sending weaponry to friendly powers.)
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
Some good global news today, as Pope Benedict arrived in Cuba, and was warmly welcomed by Raul, who also said that Cuba favors open religion for all. It's been suspected for some time that Fidel and probably Raul have been "closet" Catholics the whole time. But now that Fidel is likely on his death bed, and Raul is getting pretty old and slow, questions likely came into their minds, and the Pope was welcome.

I haven't been to Cuba (I know Joe has), but can't help but think there must be many Catholics there as well, and I find this openness from Cuba refreshing.
Something to consider.

A group called Domas de Blanco, a dissident organization born out of the political repression of the Black Spring in 2003 led by Bertha Soler, has requested to have just "a moment" with the pontiff. Naturally Damas didn't even get a response from the Catholic prince, just as the Cuban regime's authorities have kept them far out of sight of the local TV cameras.

Behind this deafness of the Roman Church before any position not in line with the dictatorship of Castro's brother, there is an iron pact between the archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega and Raul Castro. It is a pact that doesn't consent controversy, but which guarantees to the local Catholic Church greater autonomy as well as more political space within which to maneuver, during this critical phase of social reform: and hence a greater voice in determining policy, with all the social, economic and political consequences that arrive as a result.

Raul's position is rather different from that of Fidel's toward the Catholic Church. In 1996 when pope Wojtyla visited the Caribbean island, Raul was then Comandente en Jefe and he conceded just the bare minimum. He liberated a few prisoners, but not all the dissidents, and he reestablished the right to celebrate Christmas, while allowing the priesthood to have a few religious processions. Raul, in reality, desires to establish a political ally to face this period of change and is therefore disposed to concede to the Catholic Church a much broader role in the formation of new Cuban society. Ortega has grabbed the olive branch, but knows all too well that the price to pay in order to expand the influence of the Catholic Church on the island is to abandon to its destiny, at least for now, the minority civic opposition: from Damas to Yoani Sanchez, to the same resistance Catholicism of the Osvald Paya. For the Catholic Church today there is call to a higher mission: that is, to accompany the regime towards new horizons. Whereas for Raul there is need for a sacred pact to forge an alliance that will provide the basis for popular support, and thus continued power, for those privileged in his regime (as well as newcomers no doubt from the emerging Catholic elites) in post-communist Cuba.

The principle objective of Cardinal Ortega remains, therefore, in exchange for the alliance, that of satisfactorily obtaining those requests which the Catholic Church requires to ensure its own ponderous influence over Cuban society in the future. These are: an investiture from Raul to be able to open more Catholic schools, to be allowed to select from its own staff teachers of religion in the Cuban state schools, concessions of visitors' permits to its foreign priests and nuns, the right to have Catholic newspapers. In short, the Roman Church wants more control over Cuban education and mass media.

There is no "openness" about this in the religious sense, therefore, it is all based on political calculations and power, on both sides, and it doesn't matter that one is a religious institution, while the other is secular.
 
Jul 4, 2009
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rhubroma said:
There always remained a minority elites on the island that had retained their Catholicism, which, like most places of Latina America, is a Catholicism paganiggante, and hence imbued with cult imagery and superstition (miraculous Madonnas, tutelary saints and so forth).

The majority poor on the island, having been subjected to socialism for the past forty years, can now look forward to being brainwashed, be driven out of their minds (literally) by Catholicism and evangelism . The proselitizers will be chomping at the bit for sure.

They poor and the uneducated are always the easiest prey, like in Africa.
...curious...have you ever looked at Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas ?...

Cheers

blutto
 
blutto said:
...curious...have you ever looked at Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas ?...

Cheers

blutto
Apart from the brief survey I just did of the PDF version, no.

The idea, however, that Christianity arose as anything other than a continuation of sacred views already held by a number of Near Eastern mystery cults, which was then structured and propagated by official Roman imperial rituality, is to not understand the history of how and along which identity lines a religion was formed in the ancient world.

During the Middle Ages (and beyond) the continued persistence of such things as astrology and folk feast days in orthodox Europe as a cultural inheritance is thus not surprising. Christianity in its formative development, may have changed the prospect of salvation, but its means of religious expression were hardly novel, and rooted in those of a civilization against which it believed to have caused an irrevocable rupture. While none, absloutely none, of which was established by the historical Jesus (who by the way considered himself a Jew down till the bitter end), nor his immediate followers, at the time.

The Protestant Reformation believed, ingenuously, that it had somehow divested Christianity of a whole myriad of archaisms in the religious sense, and thus brought it back to its evangelical roots. When neither did those roots ever exist, besides in the fervent minds of the reformers, nor was there ever an "original" identity to reconstruct (at least as they pictured it): which is, therefore, a false historical anachronism.
 

Polish

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Mar 11, 2009
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This is an excerpt on the "Beginnings of Christian Scripture". The Big 3 Religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - all include the Prophet Moses. Kind of like when AlJazzera, CNN, SKY/FOX all cover the same story. You know it must be big lol.

The Beginnings of Christian Scripture

To discuss the copies of the New Testament that we have, we need to start at the very beginning with one of the unusual features of Christianity in the Greco-Roman world: its bookish character. In fact, to make sense of this feature of Christianity, we need to start before the beginnings of Christianity with the religion from which Christianity sprang, Judaism. For the bookishness of Christianity was in some sense anticipated and foreshadowed by Judaism, which was the first "religion of the book" in Western civilization.

Judaism as a Religion of the Book

The Judaism from which Christianity sprang was an unusual religion in the Roman world, although by no means unique. Like adherents of any of the other (hundreds of ) religions in the Mediterranean area, Jews acknowledged the existence of a divine realm populated by superhuman beings (angels, archangels, principalities, powers); they subscribed to the worship of a deity through sacrifices of animals and other food products; they maintained that there was a special holy place where this divine being dwelt here on earth (the Temple in Jerusalem), and it was there that these sacrifices were to be made. They prayed to this God for communal and personal needs. They told stories about how this God had interacted with human beings in the past, and they anticipated his help for human beings in the present. In all these ways, Judaism was "familiar" to the worshipers of other gods in the empire.

In some ways, though, Judaism was distinctive. All other religions in the empire were polytheistic — acknowledging and worshiping many gods of all sorts and functions: great gods of the state, lesser gods of various locales, gods who oversaw different aspects of human birth, life, and death. Judaism, on the other hand, was monotheistic; Jews insisted on worshiping only the one God of their ancestors, the God who, they maintained, had created this world, controlled this world, and alone provided what was needed for his people. According to Jewish tradition, this one all-powerful God had called Israel to be his special people and had promised to protect and defend them in exchange for their absolute devotion to him and him alone. The Jewish people, it was believed, had a "covenant" with this God, an agreement that they would be uniquely his as he was uniquely theirs. Only this one God was to be worshiped and obeyed; so, too, there was only one Temple, unlike in the polytheistic religions of the day in which, for example, there could be any number of temples to a god like Zeus. To be sure, Jews could worship God anywhere they lived, but they could perform their religious obligations of sacrifice to God only at the Temple in Jerusalem. In other places, though, they could gather together in "synagogues" for prayer and to discuss the ancestral traditions at the heart of their religion.

These traditions involved both stories about God's interaction with the ancestors of the people of Israel — the patriarchs and matriarchs of the faith, as it were: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rachel, Jacob, Rebecca, Joseph, Moses, David, and so on — and detailed instructions concerning how this people was to worship and live. One of the things that made Judaism unique among the religions of the Roman Empire was that these instructions, along with the other ancestral traditions, were written down in sacred books.

For modern people intimately familiar with any of the major contemporary Western religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), it may be hard to imagine, but books played virtually no role in the polytheistic religions of the ancient Western world. These religions were almost exclusively concerned with honoring the gods through ritual acts of sacrifice. There were no doctrines to be learned, as explained in books, and almost no ethical principles to be followed, as laid out in books. This is not to say that adherents of the various polytheistic religions had no beliefs about their gods or that they had no ethics, but beliefs and ethics — strange as this sounds to modern ears — played almost no role in religion per se. These were instead matters of personal philosophy, and philosophies, of course, could be bookish. Since ancient religions themselves did not require any particular sets of "right doctrines" or, for the most part, "ethical codes," books played almost no role in them.

Judaism was unique in that it stressed its ancestral traditions, customs, and laws, and maintained that these had been recorded in sacred books, which had the status, therefore, of "scripture" for the Jewish people. During the period of our concern — the first century of the common era, when the books of the New Testament were being written — Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire understood in particular that God had given direction to his people in the writings of Moses, referred to collectively as the Torah, which literally means something like "law" or "guidance." The Torah consists of five books, sometimes called the Pentateuch (the "five scrolls"), the beginning of the Jewish Bible (the Christian Old Testament): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Here one finds accounts of the creation of the world, the calling of Israel to be God's people, the stories of Israel's patriarchs and matriarchs and God's involvement with them, and most important (and most extensive), the laws that God gave Moses indicating how his people were to worship him and behave toward one another in community together. These were sacred laws, to be learned, discussed, and followed — and they were written in a set of books.

Jews had other books that were important for their religious lives together as well, for example, books of prophets (such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos), and poems (Psalms), and history (such as Joshua and Samuel). Eventually, some time after Christianity began, a group of these Hebrew books — twenty-two of them altogether — came to be regarded as a sacred canon of scripture, the Jewish Bible of today, accepted by Christians as the first part of the Christian canon, the "Old Testament."

Excerpted from Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.
 
Oct 30, 2011
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VeloCity said:
The bible is either the word of god or it isn't. And if it is, then you don't get to pick and choose the parts you agree with and ignore the rest.
That was sort of what I meant. I was trying to say that the Bible is such an inconsistent document that it's impossible to live by fully.

For example - one of the Ten Commandments that Moses supposedly received was "Thou shalt not kill". Now as I read it - that's pretty unambiguous. But then contrast it with this:

The Bible said:
Numbers 31: 7-18:

They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. "Why have you let all the women live?" he demanded. "These are the very ones who followed Balaam's advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD's people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live]
 
Oct 30, 2011
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rhubroma said:
Something to consider.

A group called Domas de Blanco, a dissident organization born out of the political repression of the Black Spring in 2003 led by Bertha Soler, has requested to have just "a moment" with the pontiff. Naturally Damas didn't even get a response from the Catholic prince, just as the Cuban regime's authorities have kept them far out of sight of the local TV camera's.
Right - he can't have an audience with the pope because of all the repression? Have you any idea how long it would take for all the people who want "just a moment" with the pope to have "just a moment" with the pope? He attracts crowds of thousands just to hear him speak over a huge PA. Imagine the numbers that would show up to actually meet him. You're seeing the conclusion you want from that situation.
 

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Caruut said:
That was sort of what I meant. I was trying to say that the Bible is such an inconsistent document that it's impossible to live by fully.

For example - one of the Ten Commandments that Moses supposedly received was "Thou shalt not kill". Now as I read it - that's pretty unambiguous. But then contrast it with this:
Nothing unambiguous there - Moses broke a whole crapload of Commandments yikes. Not good.

Jesus was a super devout Jew as a kid. More and more devout as he grew older. Couldn't call him a "Jesus freak" - more like a "Moses Freak". Some ended up calling Him the King of the Jews. Stories like the one you quoted must have bothered Jesus I would guess.

That may be why Jesus added his own Commandment(s) to the Big Guy's 10 other ones. It is considered the Most Important Commandment by many today:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
 
Caruut said:
Right - he can't have an audience with the pope because of all the repression? Have you any idea how long it would take for all the people who want "just a moment" with the pope to have "just a moment" with the pope? He attracts crowds of thousands just to hear him speak over a huge PA. Imagine the numbers that would show up to actually meet him. You're seeing the conclusion you want from that situation.
Shouldn't he by vocation be open toward, if not in outright defense of, the last; those who suffer unjust persecution according to the Christian doctrine? To thus not follow realpolitik? Especially in situations like this.

What has celebratydom and visibility, in the mass media sense, got to do with it? Other than the conclusion you want me to see, it is for base interests.

The pope goes to hold court with a dictator, but refuses to even recognize, let alone honor, a request to have an audience with him for "just one minute," those who were victims of Castro's brutality. We are thus hardly dealing with an anonymous crowd here, but the people toward whom his pastoral duties should at the very least demonstrate a certain solidarity, if not open support. Though this is hardly anything unusual in terms of a praxis that has recurrently governed the Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy historically, whenever the interests of power and the expansion of its influence over territories have taken priority, which means basically always. As it has so often been said, when religion tries to be political (practically always), then it is the politics of power that take precedence over all the religious imperatives in determining the lines of official policy.
 

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