Author Topic: It's All Good  (Read 1016 times)

drfreemlizard

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #45 on: August 23, 2018, 01:10:08 PM »
Quote from: Recusant

What means do you propose to verify the accuracy of the descriptions of events in the gospels?

It appears that you didn't bother to do any research in regard to questions of the authenticity and relevance of these texts. My questions were "Do you believe that "Mark," "Matthew," and "Luke" were actually written by people who had lived and travelled with Jesus? If so, on what basis do you believe that?" None of the non-Christian sources you present provide the least bit of evidence to support that belief. You've mainly diverted to the question of the authenticity of non-Christian sources. Again, while I question the veracity of the gospels in regard to the tales they relate, I've already stated that I'm not a mythicist. It looks to me like you missed that.

I do believe this on the basis of tradition. The belief in apostolic authorship is a tradition of which we have our first written record of which I am aware in AD 130, when Eusebius wrote his Ecclesiastical History . He records the words of Papias: "The Elder (the apostle John) used to say this also: Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately all that he mentioned, whether sayings or doings of Christ, not, however, in order.  For he was neither a hearer nor a companion of the Lord; but afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who adapted his teachings as necessity required, not as though he were making a compilation of the sayings of the Lord. So then Mark made no mistake writing down in this way some things as he (Peter) mentioned them; for he paid attention to this one thing , not to omit anything that he had heard, not to include any false statement among them."

Then, too, Irenaeus leaves a more complete record of the early church's belief in apostolic authorship:

http://normangeisler.com/irenaeus-tradition-scripture/

See the section " On the Authenticity of the Gospels"

Quote from: Recusant
Pontius Pilate was not procurator of Judea, he was the prefect. These were two very different offices: procurators were commissioners of the imperial treasury, while prefects were military commanders of provinces. Tacitus was well aware of this. In an earlier passage (12:60) he desribes Claudius making procurators the governors of provinces--before that time (during the reign of Tiberius for instance, when Pontius Pilate controlled Judea) the governors had been prefects. If we are to believe that Tacitus wrote the passage you refer to we must also believe that he forgot that before Claudius, provinces were controlled by prefects, not procurators, despite having described Claudius's action in a previous passage. I think that at least some of Annals 15:44 and possibly much of it may be a Christian interpolation. You can read more about the problems with that passage here. While most mainstream scholars assume the authenticity of this passage, the discussion is ongoing; in my opinion there is good reason to doubt its authenticity.

Suetonius, "Life of Claudius": Mentions the expulsion of the Christians from Rome as they were making disturbances at the instigation of Christus.

Suetonius, "Lives of the Caesars": "Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition. "

Quote from: Recusant
These mentions of Christians by Suetonius, assuming that they aren't interpolations (and there are while there are some who believe that they are, I'm not convinced), only tell us that there were Christians in Rome. They don't do anything to support the stories told in the Bible, and certainly provide no evidence supporting the belief that "Mark," "Matthew," and "Luke" were actually written by people who had lived and travelled with Jesus.

Mara Ben-Serapion, letter to his son: Refers to Jesus as the "Wise King" of the Jews, and compares him to Pythagoras and Socrates.

Quote from: Recusant
There is no use of the name "Jesus" in the letter. While many scholars believe that "wise king of the Jews" refers to Jesus (and others dispute it) you're going a step too far by assserting that the letter actually does that.

Perhaps so. The letter refers to the "Wise King" of the Jews,  whom the Jews had executed, a short time after which their kingdom was abolished. I am not aware of any other of their kings the Jews had executed just before an exile or dispersal of the people, who then "lived on in the teachings he had given."

Pliny the Younger, epistle to Trajan AD 112: Refers to Christus,  who the Christians worship as God. Mentions that he has been killing all he found,  but was putting so many to death that he wondered if he should continue this.

Quote from: Recusant
Yes, Christians existed in AD 112; that doesn't provide any support for the identies of the gospel authors, nor for the accuracy of the stories told in the Bible.

But it does considerably shorten the time span for supernatural myths to develop. And it shows that a church had been established while many eyewitnesses,  apostles or otherwise, likely were alive to contradict lies and exaggerations.

You also stated that " practically no one but fundamental biblical literalists " believe the disciple Matthew authored the Gospel of Matthew. However, I would guess that is mostly due to liberal biblical critics' attempts to give the gospels unwarranted late dating. But as research has progressed the tendency has been to date all the gospels earlier rather than later.

Quote from: Recusant
You can't put it all on "liberal biblical critics." It's the scholarly consensus, even among non-fundamentalist Christians. You rely on the scholarly consensus in regard to things like the Tacitus quote, but apparently you're willing to discard that when it conflicts with your beliefs.

I appealed to no scholarly consensus by mentioning the Tacitus quote. I offered that quote among others in response to my perception of Dave saying that there might not have even been a Jesus. And scholarly consensus is a rather slippery ground to stand on as it seems to change often and drastically.

A good example of internal evidence is readily available:

Matthew was a Jew, writing primarily to his fellow Jews concerning Christ.  Note throughout his gospel the appeal to fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, which would likely not be significant to the various Gentile people of his day. At one point,  Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple. Yet Matthew makes no mention that this has happened at the time of his writing. 

So either Matthew makes no mention of an event that would be of great importance to his audience and further drive home his appeal to prophecy, or that event had not yet occurred in AD 70.

Quote from: Recusant
Your example of "internal evidence" is equivocal, and none of it shows that "Matthew" was somebody who had lived and travelled with Jesus. That comes from Christian tradition. It's just as likely that he was an anonymous early Jewish Christian whose book was attributed to Matthew the Apostle to give it more authority.

You are correct to say that this information does not prove apostolic authorship.  What it does, and what I intended it to do, is point to an author consistent with what Christians believe of Matthew the apostle: An early author who was a converted Jew. I only offered this as an off the cuff example of internal evidence being consistent with the hypothesis that Matthew was the author.

Quote from: Recusant
You may wish to deny it, but Christians do regularly lie in order to advance their advocacy of Christianity as they see it. "Lying for Jesus" is not an oxymoron, it's a description of a practice that I myself have observed here and elsewhere. Honesty may indeed be considered one of the ideals of Christianity. Christians lie just as much as any other people despite that.

I am aware that plenty of Christians tell lies.  But to do so and claim it as "for Christ" is not legitimate,  is what I meant by this comment. It's a bit like murdering in the name of Gandhi.

Quote from: Recusant
You're assuming that the gospels were written by disciples of Jesus, which certainly has not been established. Rather the contrary. Tales grow in the telling. The core story of a man who preached salvation to his followers could be embellished in the interest of promoting belief. If one feels that people's souls will be saved through belief, that's motive enough to enhance the story.

Perhaps authorship has not been established,  but neither has the contrary.  And the preaching of salvation was nothing new.  The Jews had the Law and it's rituals for spiritual cleansing.   But the stories of the gospels do not preach a new ritual. They teach faith in a person - Jesus. He says "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father except by me."  Now, why would the disciples believe faith in this person as opposed to the Law and the Prophets they were raised on would save anyone?  To say they felt people's souls would be saved by belief really makes no sense if Jesus was just one more itinerant rabbi.

Quote from: Recusant
Again, you're assuming that what we have in the Bible actually comes from the disciples of Jesus.

The evidence for "ruthless" persecution comes to us almost entirely from Christian writers. Christians were persecuted, but according to the theologian and historian Candida Moss and others, the Christian belief that there were widespread and prolonged attacks on Christians is unfounded.

I am aware of Candida Moss' work. Frankly, this assumes that  at least 3 generations of Christian writers were liars, which we have no reason to do.  It also assumes that any references to persecution of Christians in secular writings are either interpolations or lies for no good reason.  One begins to assume a conspiracy befitting the DaVinci Code.


Quote from: Recusant
Let's also take note of the fact that we have practically no evidence that Christian tradition is giving us an accurate depiction of history.

Nor a concrete reason to doubt it other than an assumption of duplicity on its part.

Quote from: Recusant
Buddhists have died for their beliefs, as have Muslims, Hindus, Shintoists, etc. Being willing to die for one's beliefs doesn't make those beliefs true. People sincerely believe all sorts of things, and are willing to die for them.

Certainly. But people do not generally die for lies that they know to be lies. And whether you accept the gospels as being written by their purported authors or not, certainly many people could look at the stories and say "Wait a minute, I'm from this town they are talking about. That never happened! That guy still has a withered hand/that crazy guy still lives out around the burial ground (or no such person exists)/ so on, so forth. These guys are lying!"

Quote from: Recusant
I'm not claiming that Jesus was fictional. However, I don't see anything preventing the basic story of his life from being enhanced and mythologized, even during his lifetime. Word of mouth is a notably unreliable means of transmitting accurate facts, and by the time the gospels were first written the stories were almost certainly considerably removed from whatever events may have occurred.

The problem with mythologizing being that the mythologizing is in a direction opposed to the expectations of its target audience. A myth among the Jews might have claimed him to be a good teacher, perhaps a prophet (and even in the gospels we see this happening), but not Messiah. As I mentioned,  the Jews believed Messiah would be a Warrior-King, not a peaceful Teacher - philosopher.

But you aren't even talking about the basic story of his life being enhanced. You're talking about a complete overhaul, the result of which is a totally different person, all done while witnesses (disciples or not) were alive to contradict.

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #46 on: August 23, 2018, 09:53:08 PM »

Even if that is true, I’m not aware of any specific references by Paul to the historical Jesus in which Jesus acted like an asshole.  Now, Paul acting like an asshole is another thing.

They were always treated as the same in the churches I grew up in -- what Paul wrote became the basis of Xtianity after all.  If Paul wrote it, then it was a given Jesus endorsed it.  And there was a lot of asshole stuff there.  It's why I've always preferred to give Jesus the benefit of the doubt and ignore Paul.
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Recusant

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #47 on: August 27, 2018, 12:44:41 AM »
Drfreemlizard, normally I would have edited your post to repair your mistakes with the quote function. Since I'm involved in the discussion I will refrain, and try to sort out the quote tags. I know you're posting from your phone on Tapatalk, which I suppose is a bit of a handicap when it comes to working with forum functions. Perhaps if you changed to our responsive theme rather than using Tapatalk you might get better results.

What means do you propose to verify the accuracy of the descriptions of events in the gospels?

It appears that you didn't bother to do any research in regard to questions of the authenticity and relevance of these texts. My questions were "Do you believe that "Mark," "Matthew," and "Luke" were actually written by people who had lived and travelled with Jesus? If so, on what basis do you believe that?" None of the non-Christian sources you present provide the least bit of evidence to support that belief. You've mainly diverted to the question of the authenticity of non-Christian sources. Again, while I question the veracity of the gospels in regard to the tales they relate, I've already stated that I'm not a mythicist. It looks to me like you missed that.

I do believe this on the basis of tradition. The belief in apostolic authorship is a tradition of which we have our first written record of which I am aware in AD 130, when Eusebius wrote his Ecclesiastical History . He records the words of Papias: "The Elder (the apostle John) used to say this also: Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately all that he mentioned, whether sayings or doings of Christ, not, however, in order.  For he was neither a hearer nor a companion of the Lord; but afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who adapted his teachings as necessity required, not as though he were making a compilation of the sayings of the Lord. So then Mark made no mistake writing down in this way some things as he (Peter) mentioned them; for he paid attention to this one thing , not to omit anything that he had heard, not to include any false statement among them."

Then, too, Irenaeus leaves a more complete record of the early church's belief in apostolic authorship:

http://normangeisler.com/irenaeus-tradition-scripture/

See the section " On the Authenticity of the Gospels"

What do you expect me to do with this? Irenaeus is not an objective source to put it mildly, and his assertions regarding the authorship of the gospels don't hold any water except for Christians who find in them convenient support for otherwise unsupportable beliefs. He was born approximately 100 years after Jesus died; his opinions on this topic are based on 3rd or 4th hand hearsay. You could have shortened this conversation considerably by just stating plainly that you consider such propagandist fathers of the church a reliable source of historical facts.

Yes, Christians existed in AD 112; that doesn't provide any support for the identities of the gospel authors, nor for the accuracy of the stories told in the Bible.

But it does considerably shorten the time span for supernatural myths to develop. And it shows that a church had been established while many eyewitnesses,  apostles or otherwise, likely were alive to contradict lies and exaggerations.

We have people believing in David Icke's reptilian illuminati within a few years of him starting to promote that completely outlandish idea. This in the modern age, when such counterfactual narratives generally don't get wide acceptance. Two thousand years ago, people were all the more willing to believe in supernatural stories, and the spread of tall tales was unhindered by skeptical media--gods and their acts were much more prominent in the thinking of the general public. You're attempting to apply present day standards in regard to what people are willing to believe to a completely different era. In any event, one hundred years is plenty of time for stories to be enhanced and elaborated in the telling; for myths about Jesus to grow and become accepted.

You can't put it all on "liberal biblical critics." It's the scholarly consensus, even among non-fundamentalist Christians. You rely on the scholarly consensus in regard to things like the Tacitus quote, but apparently you're willing to discard that when it conflicts with your beliefs.

I appealed to no scholarly consensus by mentioning the Tacitus quote. I offered that quote among others in response to my perception of Dave saying that there might not have even been a Jesus. And scholarly consensus is a rather slippery ground to stand on as it seems to change often and drastically.

So if I cite a scholar who presents evidence that Tacitus was tampered with, you won't dispute that claim by pointing out that the consensus doesn't agree with them? If not, what is your basis for believing that it hasn't been tampered with by an overzealous Christian scribe?

In any event this is beside the point; it is the scholarly consensus that the synoptic gospels were not written by the nominal authors given in the New Testament; it's not just "liberal biblical critics' who've come to that conclusion.

Your example of "internal evidence" is equivocal, and none of it shows that "Matthew" was somebody who had lived and travelled with Jesus. That comes from Christian tradition. It's just as likely that he was an anonymous early Jewish Christian whose book was attributed to Matthew the Apostle to give it more authority.

You are correct to say that this information does not prove apostolic authorship.  What it does, and what I intended it to do, is point to an author consistent with what Christians believe of Matthew the apostle: An early author who was a converted Jew. I only offered this as an off the cuff example of internal evidence being consistent with the hypothesis that Matthew was the author.

Some Christians believe that. Many do not, for the simple reason that it's unlikely to be the truth. That doesn't make them any less Christian.

You may wish to deny it, but Christians do regularly lie in order to advance their advocacy of Christianity as they see it. "Lying for Jesus" is not an oxymoron, it's a description of a practice that I myself have observed here and elsewhere. Honesty may indeed be considered one of the ideals of Christianity. Christians lie just as much as any other people despite that.

I am aware that plenty of Christians tell lies.  But to do so and claim it as "for Christ" is not legitimate,  is what I meant by this comment. It's a bit like murdering in the name of Gandhi.

It's commendable that you don't consider it legitimate, but it's something that's gone on for centuries, which is why I find evidence claimed to support the Christian narrative which comes to us through the hands of Christians to be of questionable value.

You're assuming that the gospels were written by disciples of Jesus, which certainly has not been established. Rather the contrary. Tales grow in the telling. The core story of a man who preached salvation to his followers could be embellished in the interest of promoting belief. If one feels that people's souls will be saved through belief, that's motive enough to enhance the story.

Perhaps authorship has not been established,  but neither has the contrary.  And the preaching of salvation was nothing new.  The Jews had the Law and it's rituals for spiritual cleansing.   But the stories of the gospels do not preach a new ritual. They teach faith in a person - Jesus. He says "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father except by me."  Now, why would the disciples believe faith in this person as opposed to the Law and the Prophets they were raised on would save anyone?  To say they felt people's souls would be saved by belief really makes no sense if Jesus was just one more itinerant rabbi.

So you don't believe that a charismatic individual who wasn't a god could have gathered followers and convinced them to change their beliefs?

Again, you're assuming that what we have in the Bible actually comes from the disciples of Jesus.

The evidence for "ruthless" persecution comes to us almost entirely from Christian writers. Christians were persecuted, but according to the theologian and historian Candida Moss and others, the Christian belief that there were widespread and prolonged attacks on Christians is unfounded.

I am aware of Candida Moss' work. Frankly, this assumes that  at least 3 generations of Christian writers were liars, which we have no reason to do.  It also assumes that any references to persecution of Christians in secular writings are either interpolations or lies for no good reason.  One begins to assume a conspiracy befitting the DaVinci Code.

Have you read the book? If so, what specific criticisms do you have?

Let's also take note of the fact that we have practically no evidence that Christian tradition is giving us an accurate depiction of history.

Nor a concrete reason to doubt it other than an assumption of duplicity on its part.

No need to assume duplicity; people get the wrong story for all kinds of reasons. On the other hand, human nature being what it is, there is good reason to assume duplicity on the part of propagandists, including Christian propagandists. 

Buddhists have died for their beliefs, as have Muslims, Hindus, Shintoists, etc. Being willing to die for one's beliefs doesn't make those beliefs true. People sincerely believe all sorts of things, and are willing to die for them.

Certainly. But people do not generally die for lies that they know to be lies. And whether you accept the gospels as being written by their purported authors or not, certainly many people could look at the stories and say "Wait a minute, I'm from this town they are talking about. That never happened! That guy still has a withered hand/that crazy guy still lives out around the burial ground (or no such person exists)/ so on, so forth. These guys are lying!"

Relatively few of the Christians who were willing to die for their beliefs were eye-witnesses to the life of Jesus.

I'm not claiming that Jesus was fictional. However, I don't see anything preventing the basic story of his life from being enhanced and mythologized, even during his lifetime. Word of mouth is a notably unreliable means of transmitting accurate facts, and by the time the gospels were first written the stories were almost certainly considerably removed from whatever events may have occurred.

The problem with mythologizing being that the mythologizing is in a direction opposed to the expectations of its target audience. A myth among the Jews might have claimed him to be a good teacher, perhaps a prophet (and even in the gospels we see this happening), but not Messiah. As I mentioned,  the Jews believed Messiah would be a Warrior-King, not a peaceful Teacher - philosopher.

But you aren't even talking about the basic story of his life being enhanced. You're talking about a complete overhaul, the result of which is a totally different person, all done while witnesses (disciples or not) were alive to contradict.

A charismatic individual gathers followers. After his death they tell stories about him; some of their listeners believe those stories, and retell them. The stories grow in the telling, and spread well beyond the initial core of followers. There is nothing exceptional or unrealistic in this scenario.
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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #48 on: August 27, 2018, 10:09:34 PM »
Are you willing to accept the description of supernatural events from the life of Mohammad we find in the Quran and hadiths, drfreemlizard? After all, the stories about Mohammad come to us from much nearer in time than the gospels and in fact the Quran was written down not all that long after Mohammad's death, as were various hadiths. For that matter, why do you reject the Book of Mormon? The story of its writing is well-attested. Why would you doubt that the golden plates and the angel Moroni existed? To me it seems that your position regarding the gospels isn't based on evidence. Rather you have a belief about the gospels and have latched onto whatever support for your belief you can find, however tenuous.
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Dave

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #49 on: August 28, 2018, 02:47:41 AM »
Quote
Rather you have a belief about the gospels and have latched onto whatever support for your belief you can find, however tenuous.

I agree, Recusant. And all such belief is "received", grown from seeds planted by others and then reinforced through repetition and ritual. This is the process that has gone on since mankind, in its ignorance of the natural laws, invented the supernatural and decided that it was the root of everything.

Religion is a purely artificial construct, though one that has co-opted the positive evolutionary traits of ethics and morals. It has no more basis than the likes of the Greek legends of Oedipus and Elektra, stories used to describe and explain human psychology and warn others of the "possible consequences" of immoral behaviour. Sort of long winded proverbs.

Later: it has just struck me that the nature of belief, based as it is on one's experiences of life and/or the teachings of others, can surely never be other than subjective. Yet it forms a kind of "security blanket" whether it is in the solidity of the scientific principle, the inherent basic goodness of mankind, the supernatural.or some other thing.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2018, 03:14:21 AM by Dave »
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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #50 on: August 28, 2018, 09:48:17 AM »
Are you willing to accept the description of supernatural events from the life of Mohammad we find in the Quran and hadiths, drfreemlizard? After all, the stories about Mohammad come to us from much nearer in time than the gospels and in fact the Quran was written down not all that long after Mohammad's death, as were various hadiths. For that matter, why do you reject the Book of Mormon? The story of its writing is well-attested. Why would you doubt that the golden plates and the angel Moroni existed? To me it seems that your position regarding the gospels isn't based on evidence. Rather you have a belief about the gospels and have latched onto whatever support for your belief you can find, however tenuous.

Special pleading at its finest. I could line up thousands of believers who can attest their belief is the one true belief and not one of them can provide a scrap of evidence worthy of the name that what they claim is true.
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drfreemlizard

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #51 on: September 14, 2018, 04:29:44 AM »
Are you willing to accept the description of supernatural events from the life of Mohammad we find in the Quran and hadiths, drfreemlizard? After all, the stories about Mohammad come to us from much nearer in time than the gospels and in fact the Quran was written down not all that long after Mohammad's death, as were various hadiths. For that matter, why do you reject the Book of Mormon? The story of its writing is well-attested. Why would you doubt that the golden plates and the angel Moroni existed? To me it seems that your position regarding the gospels isn't based on evidence. Rather you have a belief about the gospels and have latched onto whatever support for your belief you can find, however tenuous.

I am willing to accept the possibility of supernatural events occurring, yes. Although both the Muslims and the Mormons preach a very different God and Jesus than traditional Christianity, so at least two of them must be false.  Therefore I would have a different opinion of the source of their supernatural occurrences.

Pardon the interruption in the train of thought, but I have a question before we proceed.  Based on some of Dave’s comments, I get the idea that the real problem he has with the gospels is their reporting of supernatural events. I have the idea that if the supernatural events were removed from the gospels, he would have little trouble with them as a decently accurate narrative of the ministry of Jesus.  Is this true for you as well, Recusant?


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Dave

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #52 on: September 14, 2018, 06:13:27 AM »
[...]
Pardon the interruption in the train of thought, but I have a question before we proceed.  Based on some of Dave’s comments, I get the idea that the real problem he has with the gospels is their reporting of supernatural events. I have the idea that if the supernatural events were removed from the gospels, he would have little trouble with them as a decently accurate narrative of the ministry of Jesus. [...]

Perfectly valid question.

I see, amongst all the supernatural, quite a lot of common sense, even wisdom, in the bible - couched in a narative style to make it more memorable. From Aesop's Fables to  the "teaching songs" of Anne McCaffrey's "Pern" sci-fi series the idea of using lterate methods to get ideas implanted is not uncommon. Hence the parables erc.

"Ministry of Jesus" is not so easy for me without proof absolute that he existed and originated these principles and values. My thought is that they have existed, in some form, since homo managed to express abstract concepts verbally, by means of allegory and narrative, and wished to pass it on to influence others. Like the OT this was partly a codification of existing ideas/ethics/rules through their expression in narrative form. Grimm's fairy tales (which are quite grim in their original form) served something of the same purpose in their time, allegorical warnings to children.

So, "Christian" principles, stripped of the supernatural, in terms of basic "rules" for ethical behaviour, doubtfully (in my mind) originated by one person but almost certainly recomposed by individuals and/or groups between, oh, let's say, 10CE and 400CE, are not a bad model. All else is moral reinforcing, threats and dressing suitable for an age of general illiteracy and knowledge outside of immediate personal experience (other than from peripatetic news spreaders who may or may not spread accurate fact - much like the modern media) in the "common" people.

Later:
As I think I have expressed before almost all fables, myths, legends, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, cartoons (cinematic and otherswise), novels, films etc are stuffed with messages of some form. The "holy books" are no different for me.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 08:57:21 AM by Dave »
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drfreemlizard

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #53 on: September 14, 2018, 12:47:51 PM »
I see. The thought behind my question is this: If one begins with the a priori idea that the supernatural is fiction, then I could argue for the historicity of the gospels until my thumbs go numb without ever, to that perspective, making a valid point. An apology for the supernatural would need to come first and, establishing that, one would proceed to talk about the gospels with the idea that the supernatural events in it are incredible but not necessarily impossible.


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Dave

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #54 on: September 14, 2018, 01:12:41 PM »
I see. The thought behind my question is this: If one begins with the a priori idea that the supernatural is fiction, then I could argue for the historicity of the gospels until my thumbs go numb without ever, to that perspective, making a valid point. An apology for the supernatural would need to come first and, establishing that, one would proceed to talk about the gospels with the idea that the supernatural events in it are incredible but not necessarily impossible.


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Oh, I think you could make valid points from your perspective, from mine (and I would venture all other members if this forum) you would be wasting your time trying to do it here. I believe I have slso said in a previous post that this kind if "discussion" between a totally dedicated believer and a totally dedicated unbeliever is no more than academic - the outcome will always be disagreement. Unless there is the unlikely event of a conversion one way or the other. I have heard such events happen but I have not seen it in action in my 20 years on forums.

What may happen is that we each decide that the other is a decent, ethical chap. I might sgree, reluctantly, that you have the legal right to "spread the eord" and, if things were equal, we should have exactly the same rights to promote our world view without fear of action from any legal authority. Or abuse from street or other preachers, unless we have the right to "preach" right back of course :)

This is excellent mental exercise, and in my 70s I need such to keep on top. (Plus physical stuff like the six times this morning I climbed the ladder into my loft workshop be becausee I had forgotten to take stuff up there. Good physical excercise highlighting the other need!)

My personal view, once again, is that people gain respect through what good things they achieve for others, not what they believe in.

Later: oops, the weakness of my last statement is that a hardline theist or atheist might consider a "good thing" to be coercing or even threatening another into their way of thinking because they feel that is the right action. More thinking needed.

 :thinking:
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 03:24:07 PM by Dave »
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Recusant

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #55 on: September 14, 2018, 08:17:58 PM »
I am willing to accept the possibility of supernatural events occurring, yes. Although both the Muslims and the Mormons preach a very different God and Jesus than traditional Christianity, so at least two of them must be false.  Therefore I would have a different opinion of the source of their supernatural occurrences.

So far you've provided no reasonable means by which it can be determined whether Christian stories are more accurate than Muslim or Mormon stories.

Pardon the interruption in the train of thought, but I have a question before we proceed.  Based on some of Dave’s comments, I get the idea that the real problem he has with the gospels is their reporting of supernatural events. I have the idea that if the supernatural events were removed from the gospels, he would have little trouble with them as a decently accurate narrative of the ministry of Jesus.  Is this true for you as well, Recusant?

I consider the gospels to be unreliable in general. Some of the anecdotes pertaining to the life of Jesus found in them may contain elements of what actually occurred, but I have no way of determining their accuracy. In my opinion there is good reason to doubt that they are anything more than products of an effort to create a narrative which promoted belief in the new religion. It's something people have been doing for thousands of years, and that continues to this day.

The Christian narrative is no more compelling or convincing to me than Scientology or any of the multitude of other religions that people have invented. To me, they all stink of self-serving and pious mountebankery. I understand how people allow themselves to be convinced to believe in religions or willingly continue to follow the religion of their parents once they've learned something of the world, but find myself incapable of joining them.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 08:31:02 PM by Recusant »
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Sandra Craft

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #56 on: September 14, 2018, 09:16:11 PM »
Is the supernatural  really needed for the Xtian gospels to have value tho?  It seems to me most of the woo in any of the religions is just a way of comforting people who are scared of the dark, and shouldn't we trying to be getting over that rather than doubling down with the favorite blankey? 

I don't mean to be harsh (or maybe just a little harsh), and I don't know whether the supernatural exists or not (tho all things considered, I'd bet "no") and it's not even possible to know since It, we are told, is outside the natural and we're confined to the natural.    We also can't ever know if there's any Thing in the supernatural, if it exists, that wants something of us or what that Thing might want.  All we have are thousands of years of wild guesses -- a good many of them coming from people who don't seem that tightly wrapped.

I think it's better to concentrate on what we can know is real, and on what we can do to make things as good as possible in this uncontested reality.  It's not as if there isn't going to be enough difference of opinion on that without dragging in useless considerations of a world of maybe/maybe not.

Altho not all of the Xtian gospels are useful in a woo-less world, there's plenty that is.  At least in my opinion.
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Dave

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #57 on: September 14, 2018, 09:58:36 PM »
Is the supernatural  really needed for the Xtian gospels to have value tho?  It seems to me most of the woo in any of the religions is just a way of comforting people who are scared of the dark, and shouldn't we trying to be getting over that rather than doubling down with the favorite blankey? 

I don't mean to be harsh (or maybe just a little harsh), and I don't know whether the supernatural exists or not (tho all things considered, I'd bet "no") and it's not even possible to know since It, we are told, is outside the natural and we're confined to the natural.    We also can't ever know if there's any Thing in the supernatural, if it exists, that wants something of us or what that Thing might want.  All we have are thousands of years of wild guesses -- a good many of them coming from people who don't seem that tightly wrapped.

I think it's better to concentrate on what we can know is real, and on what we can do to make things as good as possible in this uncontested reality.  It's not as if there isn't going to be enough difference of opinion on that without dragging in useless considerations of a world of maybe/maybe not.

Altho not all of the Xtian gospels are useful in a woo-less world, there's plenty that is.  At least in my opinion.

I tried ro say that there is value in the bible, especially the NT - the contrast between the OT and the NT is so great I find it a wonder that anyone tries to find any real link between them without considerable artifice. Or a lot of faith?

Yes, I think there is value in the gospels, whoever wrote them whenever, and the rewriting of them without any reference to the superhatural would be an interesting idea - must have been done surely . . .

There must be a ton of perfectly valid anonymous literature available that lays out morals and ethics, 'right' behaviour etc in addition to that attributed to a person or group - rightly or wrongly does not affect the value.

The value is inherent in the wisdom contained, not the author, nor the style, nor the vehicle.
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Recusant

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Re: It's All Good
« Reply #58 on: September 14, 2018, 10:25:38 PM »
[. . .] the rewriting of them without any reference to the superhatural would be an interesting idea - must have been done surely . . .

Of course you're right.  :)

"Jefferson Bible" | Wikipedia

Quote
The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, commonly referred to as the Jefferson Bible, refers to one of two religious works constructed by Thomas Jefferson. The first, The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, was completed in 1804, but no copies exist today. The second, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, was completed in 1820 by cutting and pasting with a razor and glue numerous sections from the New Testament as extractions of the doctrine of Jesus. Jefferson's condensed composition is especially notable for its exclusion of all miracles by Jesus and most mentions of the supernatural, including sections of the four gospels that contain the Resurrection and most other miracles, and passages that portray Jesus as divine.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 10:40:09 PM by Recusant »
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken