Metaphorical interpretation of Holy Script

Does metaphorical interpretation of Holy Script give the interpreter a "licence" to justify any action?
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leonstrykerAsked:
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Jason210Commented:
Does metaphorical interpretation of Holy Script give the interpreter a "licence" to justify any action?
I don't think so. But literal interpretation of the same immediately causes conflicts between different religions, which often leads to intolerance and at extreme ends of the spectrum -- crusades and jihad.

Also, I don't buy this idea that an abitrary interpretation of Holy Script is valid. Some interpretations are clearly off, while with others engender a consensus of agreement because they have a basis in a recognised framework of concepts and ideas. For example, CG Jungs offers a pyschological framework for interpreting spiritual concepts and symbols. There is always some logic to the interpretative framework that is applied.

Another thing to consider is that many religions have concepts that are similar. There's a pattern here, which suggests that something is connecting the religions. It does not make sense to ignore that connection and settle for the alternative of claiming that one is right and all the others are wrong, or that all or wrong. There's something in it, and finding out what that something is what we call interpretation.

For me an particular interpretation of Holy Scripture is analogous to a scientific theory. The difference is the way it is observed and tested. While a scientific theory is based on empirical observation, and emprically mensurable testing, a spiritual belief is based on something we read, or something someone tells us, or even some conclusion we have ourselves come to after years of study. The testing has to be subjective. We must believe  -- if only for a short while -- and see whether it brings us closer to the truth. I have read many stories, from the Bible, from Islam, from Buddhism, Hinduism, and from more modern writers like CG Jung, Eckhart Tolle and Peter Russell and utimately I reject them all, but some things stick. Those things that stick are my working theory...
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Who's Holy Script?
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CallandorCommented:
Everyone is called to think for themselves and be responsible for their actions, so I would say no, one cannot justify any action.

As far as intolerance goes, there is an innate intolerance between what is true and what is not true - one cannot last if one is willing to give up the core of what one believes.  Intolerance does not imply crusades and jihad, it means you are willing to stick to your principles, which is a good thing.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
Also, I don't buy this idea that an abitrary interpretation of Holy Script is valid. Some interpretations are clearly off, while with others engender a consensus of agreement because they have a basis in a recognised framework of concepts and ideas. For example, CG Jungs offers a pyschological framework for interpreting spiritual concepts and symbols. There is always some logic to the interpretative framework that is applied.

Interpretative framework is just a set of rules we define for others to follow to reach conclusions we want them to reach. Metaphorical interpretation on the other hand implies subjective analysis based on the subjects experiences understanding of symbolism.

To me metaphorical interpretation is the same as statistical analysis, it says what we want it to say.

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Jason210Commented:
Callandor
Intolerance does not imply crusades and jihad, it means you are willing to stick to your principles, which is a good thing.

What you're talking about is believing that one religion is true, and all others false. That is not intolerance, but for some people it can lead to intolerance. Intolerance means you do not tolerate the other religions so try to stop them. For example, like the Taliban do not tolerate "infidels". They cut off their heads, when they can. That is intolerance in it's extreme form.

Leonstyrker
Interpretative framework is just a set of rules we define for others to follow to reach conclusions we want them to reach.
Like maths and science.

When a piece of text is interpreted, there emerges a limited number of alternative interpretations. If interpretations were as arbitrary as you seem to think they are, this wouldn't happen. It happens because there is a cosensus of thought and some logic applied.

Also, why should your criticism be limited only to metaphorical interpretation? There can be other subjective creations that are open to interpretation, such as art, sculpture, or music and so on. The meaning of such things is not random or neutral - there was something specific happening in the creator at the time of creation, may be something they wanted to show or express. That is where the interpretation comes in.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
It happens because there is a consensus of thought and some logic applied.

Consensus is just a number of people who happen to agree with you, and logic is justification of reaching an interpretation.

When a piece of text is interpreted, there emerges a limited number of alternative interpretations.

Limited only to the number of people who wish to interpret it.

My point is that metaphorical interpretation opens the door, and provides justification for fanatics to take scripture as call for their extreme position and action. Would we not be better of by reading Holy Scripts as is, and not attempt to extract meaning out of them?
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Jason210Commented:
My point is that metaphorical interpretation opens the door, and provides justification for fanatics to take scripture as call for their extreme position and action. Would we not be better of by reading Holy Scripts as is, and not attempt to extract meaning out of them?

I can't think of an example where metaphorical interpretation of text has provided justification for fanaticism or extreme actions: Can you provide some?

Also, no-one is stopping you from believeing the Bible literally. The problem with that approach is that you have to believe in miracles, or supernatural events and beings, all occuring as physical, empirical realities at a particular time in history, when there is no empirical evidence of this, and no scientific justification for it. However, a non-literal interpretation does not conflict with science, nor other religion. It seems to be the sensible option.
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Jason210Commented:
Take for example the idea of water into wine. This is an example, I think, of metaphor in the bible. There are three things, water, wine, and transformation. Water and wine have associations. Both are liquid, flowing, and life giving, but wine also is capable of providing some sustenance. It is richer and more fulfilling than water.

For these simple associations we can say that water into wine means Jesus was able to turn something mundane into something of better quality. That is the basic meaning of the miracle. It doesn't tell us very much, but it gets us away from the concrete into asbstract concepts.

From there we can then speculate what it was that he actually turned into better quality. This is where interpretations come in. For example, it could have been the conversation that Jesus transformed, from the mundane earthly ideas to the more spiritual. But the important thing to note is that before this interpretation, we can distill the absract meaning of the miracle quite straight-forwardly.
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sbdt8631Commented:
Callandor
>>Intolerance does not imply crusades and jihad, it means you are willing to stick to your principles, which is a good thing.

To me intolerance implies more than sticking to your principles.  Intolerance is refusal to allow or respect beliefs that do not agree with your own.  Sticking to your principles is a fine thing. Intolerance is not.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
From there we can then speculate what it was that he actually turned into better quality. This is where interpretations come in. For example, it could have been the conversation that Jesus transformed, from the mundane earthly ideas to the more spiritual.

I disagree, this can as easily be interpreted as follows:

Wine is a product of a crushed grape, and as such juice can be seen as blood of a grape. The fermentation of this juice (alcohol) is a sign of spoilage. The fact that the water (which was intended for ceremonial washing and not drinking) was turned into wine. Implies that Jesus reversed the entire process of making a something holy, and in fact created Unholy Water. Thus instead of cleansing the body it was used tp pollute the soul, though consumption.
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sbdt8631Commented:
Jason210
>>Take for example the idea of water into wine

From this we could also interpret that Jesus was transforming something healthy and life sustaining, water, into an intoxicating substance that leads to drunken behavior and debauchery.  From this we could then conclude that Jesus was a bad person and by association so are all Christians. This could give one a license to persecute Christians. It's all in how you want to interpret the metaphor.
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sbdt8631Commented:
leonstryker
Posted mine before seeing yours, but I like yours.
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CallandorCommented:
>To me intolerance implies more than sticking to your principles.  Intolerance is refusal to allow or respect beliefs that do not agree with your own.  Sticking to your principles is a fine thing. Intolerance is not.

Let's extend the concept of intolerance to ideas - to a degree, we all exercise intolerance to ideas we consider "crazy", else we would harbor contradictory views.  We tend to reject what we consider bad or poor choices and accept what we consider good ones.

But back to the original question - I agree that one cannot arbitrarily decide how to interpret scripture.  That leads to a "it means what you want it to mean" conclusion, and I for one don't write so that others can interpret my words any way they want.  I write with purpose and to convey definite ideas.  It's not asking too much to think that other people write the same way.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
I agree that one cannot arbitrarily decide how to interpret scripture.

But then how do we decide who is qualified to do so?
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CallandorCommented:
There is a discipline called hermeneutics - you apply rules of language, grammar, context, and knowledge of history to determine what the author meant.  Anyone can do it if they have the desire, and it is far more objective than just voicing an opinion.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
There is a discipline called hermeneutics

Interesting, I did not know about this. I will do some research on this topic. Thank you for pointing it out Callandor.
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Jason210Commented:
Wine is a product of a crushed grape, and as such juice can be seen as blood of a grape. The fermentation of this juice (alcohol) is a sign of spoilage. The fact that the water (which was intended for ceremonial washing and not drinking) was turned into wine. Implies that Jesus reversed the entire process of making a something holy, and in fact created Unholy Water. Thus instead of cleansing the body it was used tp pollute the soul, though consumption.
and
From this we could also interpret that Jesus was transforming something healthy and life sustaining, water, into an intoxicating substance that leads to drunken behavior and debauchery.  From this we could then conclude that Jesus was a bad person and by association so are all Christians. This could give one a license to persecute Christians. It's all in how you want to interpret the metaphor.
I don'ät think many would agree with you - such an interpretation makes no sense, given the context.

It amazes me how you people completely overlook that fact that a rigid, literal interpretation flies in the face of science -- you seem to forget this. Also, the literal interpreation cause problems because it means that only one religion can be right, while all others wrong.

Also, consider this. Someone who insists on one literal meaning to scripture, is by definition not a fundamentalist. In Christianity, fundamentalism means belief the Christian doctines which are the virgin birth of Christ, belief that Christ's death was the atonement for sin, resurrection of Christ and the historical reality of Christ's miracles. For me, fundamentalism is far more related to extremism and fanaticism than someone who plays down the importance of the bible, considers Christ was a man, and that the miracles are symbolic expressions of religious experiences.

Also, I would point out that the in the 2nd century, the view that Jesus Christ was a mortal man was one of two competing doctrines about Jesus' true nature, the other being that he pre-existed as a divine spirit. In 325 at the First Council of Nicaea, they decided he was divine spirit. That was an interpretation.
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Jason210Commented:
Of course that should read:

Someone who insists on one literal meaning to scripture, is by definition a fundamentalist
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Jason210Commented:
I think you guys are way out of touch with reality. I think you feel threatened when what you take to be reality is shaken. Just like the Catholic church was afraid that the Turin Shroud might turn out to be fake, and refused the testing of it for years.

I reckon you believe in the Bible literally because for you the physical world is the only thing that is real. It is the only backdrop available where the miraculous and spiritual events could take place. Angels and devils need to be solid 3D entities in order to be real for you guys. But the problems I have pointed out is that this conflicts with science and every other religion. And for what? because you choose instead to believe in the Church Father's selection of scriptures written between 60 and 200 years after Jesus died, and their interpretation.

There is a discipline called hermeneutics - you apply rules of language, grammar, context, and knowledge of history to determine what the author meant.  Anyone can do it if they have the desire, and it is far more objective than just voicing an opinion.
Biblical hermeneutics is nothing more than an interpretative tradition.  Man hasn't changed that much since the time of Jesus. Spiritual enlightenment and revelation is the same now as it was then, but we to understand it in modern language and psychology, not angels and demons.
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CallandorCommented:
>It amazes me how you people completely overlook that fact that a rigid, literal interpretation flies in the face of science

What does science have to do with the supernatural?  The Bible describes supernatural events.  So?

>Someone who insists on one literal meaning to scripture, is by definition a fundamentalist.

Fundamentalist must be a bad word to you, the way you highlighted it.  It doesn't follow that negative things must follow, especially if Jesus preached that one should love God and love his neighbor.  A literal interpretation means loving your neighbor is not a option, it's a necessity.  If loving your neighbor is subject to interpretation, that's when doing harm to them becomes a possibility.

>Also, I would point out that the in the 2nd century, the view that Jesus Christ was a mortal man was one of two competing doctrines about Jesus' true nature, the other being that he pre-existed as a divine spirit. In 325 at the First Council of Nicaea, they decided he was divine spirit. That was an interpretation.

Let's not paint it as a picture of equal numbers - in any large group of people, there are fringe elements, and the view that Jesus Christ was a mortal man was promoted by a fringe group, which has been taken up lately by the Jehovah's Witnesses.  An objective reading of the text leads to the divine origin interpretation, and this was held by most Christians at the time.
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Jason210Commented:
What does science have to do with the supernatural?  The Bible describes supernatural events.  So?
So where did these supernatural events take place? In the physical world, as solid, physical events? Dead the parting of the red sea actually happen? Did Jesus actually walk on the water? This would involve matter moving around inexplicably. Science has everything to do with claims to these kind!
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Jason210Commented:
Fundamentalist must be a bad word to you, the way you highlighted it. It doesn't follow that negative things must follow...
No, but look at our Islamic fundamentalist friends. And neither does it follow that metaphorical interpretation leads to extremism does it?

Leonstyker has no argument here. The question says more about his own bitter prejudices then anything else.

If loving your neighbor is subject to interpretation, that's when doing harm to them becomes a possibility.
Why would it be? It's not a supernatural event or miracle. The meaning is clear enough. However, if one wanted to be pedantic one could argue that one's neighbour is the person who lives nextdoor. If I were to interpret this literally I would go and knock on his door now right now and tell him that I love him.

Anyway, it doesn't look like many people are reading this t
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Jason210Commented:
opic, since it's just another one of those posted to express an opinion, not for discussion. Why do I bother?
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CallandorCommented:
> This would involve matter moving around inexplicably. Science has everything to do with claims to these kind!

If you constrain your definition of the supernatural to non-physical events, then you will come to the conclusion that God, as a supernatural being who operates in the supernatural realm, has no power over the physical realm.  It is an inevitable conclusion, and pretty much throws out the power of God.  The next conclusion is that since God has no power over the physical world, why believe in God?  I am not surprised you do not want to believe in such a God - neither would I!

>And neither does it follow that metaphorical interpretation leads to extremism does it?

No, but it leads to a "it doesn't matter" conclusion, because there would be no objective truth that others could agree with.  Everything would be based on personal subjective interpretation, and everyone would be free do whatever they thought was good.

> If I were to interpret this literally I would go and knock on his door now right now and tell him that I love him.

Well, why don't you do that?  Even better, follow it up with actions that say you love him.  And if you really did this with everyone, it would be supernatural and a miracle, because it's statistically improbable.
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Jason210Commented:
If you constrain your definition of the supernatural to non-physical events, then you will come to the conclusion that God, as a supernatural being who operates in the supernatural realm, has no power over the physical realm.  It is an inevitable conclusion, and pretty much throws out the power of God.  The next conclusion is that since God has no power over the physical world, why believe in God?  I am not surprised you do not want to believe in such a God - neither would I!
What if God's power operates in a way that is not incompatible with science? What if evolution, as observed by science, is God at work? So much for your inevitable conclusion :-)

Keep trying.

Well, why don't you do that?
Well, actually, my next door neighbour is very attractive woman, who sings opera. I might just do that...I might get lucky :-0
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Jason210Commented:
The fact that I seem to spark these discussions tells me that I am saying something that is causing strong reactions. I suppose you Christians are doing what you are compelled to do,¿ in a robotic sence. Convince yourselves (and other's) that you have the way. It's your job, and that's OK.

However, I think you are drawn here for a reason, and whatever seed is planted, will one day germinate.  

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CallandorCommented:
>What if God's power operates in a way that is not incompatible with science? What if evolution, as observed by science, is God at work?

There's nothing wrong with that view, as long as miracles are not excluded either - God can choose to work as he sees fit.  Dr. Francis Collins believes that, and is an evangelical Christian as well.

>Well, actually, my next door neighbour is very attractive woman, who sings opera. I might just do that...I might get lucky :-0

Uh, you should try that with ALL your neighbors and see if that will fly.  I didn't read of a restriction to one neighbor.

>The fact that I seem to spark these discussions tells me that I am saying something that is causing strong reactions.

Yes, the fact that you, who are not a Christian, is trying to define what a Christian is and telling everyone who believes in the traditional view that they are wrong, might have something to do with that.
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Jason210Commented:
There's nothing wrong with that view, as long as miracles are not excluded either - God can choose to work as he sees fit.  Dr. Francis Collins believes that, and is an evangelical Christian as well.
Well, the miracles would be excluded, because they are not compatible with science. perhaps the best example here would be evolution v. creationsim.

Uh, you should try that with ALL your neighbors and see if that will fly.  I didn't read of a restriction to one neighbor.
Well it does say love your neighbour, not all of them, if I am to interpet literally. The seriously, the problem is that actually the majority of folk don't love strabngers and no-one is going to start loving anyone just because they are told they should. This is the problem with Christian fundamentalism. People won't accept it because it goes against science. So what we end up with is a non-religious society, or society people finding their own religions, gurus etc.

Yes, the fact that you, who are not a Christian, is trying to define what a Christian is and telling everyone who believes in the traditional view that they are wrong, might have something to do with that.
I am a Christian, by birth, and I went to a traditional Church of England religious primary school in England for two years where I had a canon teaching me RE, and where we had sermons, hymns and prayers every day.

You're the ones who who trying to tell the world you have the way, not I, and the way you advocate is the fundamentalist way. What about other fundamentalists, such as Orthodox Jews and Islamic fundamentalists? One can't say to a them to take up another religion because there's wrong, but one might say that God is above the trappings of any particularly religion, and that the religion is just a "language" of expression. Like a water steady dripping onto a stone, it will eventually make a hole through it. The truth tends to work like that. It will erode away the false in time.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
Biblical hermeneutics is nothing more than an interpretative tradition.

I would agree with Jason210 in this interpretation.

Leonstyker has no argument here. The question says more about his own bitter prejudices then anything else.

I am not sure what your argument here is? My point in this thread is that there is no right answer with religious interpretations since they are made only to support a particular point of view. I am in no way endorsing fundamentalism, and was actually hoping to leave Christianity and/or Islam out of the discussion. The intension was to approach this question from a Philosophical angle.
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Jason210Commented:
My point in this thread is that there is no right answer with religious interpretations since they are made only to support a particular point of view.
Why can't the scripture itself you refer to be a religious interpretation?
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
Why can't the scripture itself you refer to be a religious interpretation?

It can be, I am not saying it is not. Look at my original question.
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Jason210Commented:
Ok, why can't the original scripture be a metaphorical interpretation?
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
Ok, why can't the original scripture be a metaphorical interpretation?

It just does not matter. It is a written word that is the basis.

How is that relevant to the question?
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Jason210Commented:
Where has the written word come from? What does the written word mean? Who wrote the words?

For example, in the analysis of Christian scripture, it has been established that while Mark and John are primary texts, Mathew and Luke are secondary texts that were based partly on Mark.

By primary text, this does not mean they were actually written by the disciples themselves. Mark is believed to be based largely on the sayings of Peter; and while John may have had the disciple of John as the main source, John was not the author. John is dated 90-100 AD, by which time John would have been dead (unless you believe in miracles). So already, even with the primary texts, they have been composed by unknown authors who may have had a connection with John or Peter, but are more likely to have been based on oral tradition. John or Peter would also have been interpreting what Jesus said, and finally, Jesus would have been interpreting his own spiritual experiences. There, we have the truth. What was Jesus seeing, experiencing, trying to convey?

On top of all this we have translations possible from Aramic to Greek, then from Greek. In addition to orthodox scripture of Christianity, there are writings that were excluded from the canon, such as the Gospel of Thomas which is also believed to be a primary text but the early church fathers in their wisdom decided it was not really appropriate so out it went.

It just does not matter. It is a written word that is the basis.
It matters to many. If you're serious about getting to the truth, or at least getting to the root of the meaning. A scripture like the New Testement has a history and is clearly the result of much selection and interpretation by people who came long after Christ's death. You might want to consider why the selection and interpretation process should stop there, with the church fathers? Times have changed, we've grown culturely and intellectually. Are interpretation of the old scripture needs to be compatible with our cuurent understanding of the universe if it is to have a value.

Hindu religions all begin with the Vedas but the Vedas have been continually updated and interpreted in the Hindu tradition. The original veda are still there, intact - very few understand them, but the later texts are far more accessible.

In the qu'ran, we also have this:

And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.(002.191)
Following this explicitly, word for word, means that the Taliban and Al Quaeda are doing what you suggest they should do - following the written word. It seems that this gives them the licence to justify their actions, rather than "metaphorical interpretation".
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ropennerCommented:
(liked jason's first remark and the creative (and valid) interpretations of parables)

Answer to original question:

If the script has more than a trivial number of words and phrases in it, I am creative enough to bend its meaning to justify to 'myself' (only myself) that what I'm doing is congruent with portions of the words and phrases.  But I don't think you will allow 'myself' to give 'myself' license so I will need to obtain my license from elsewhere...

Similarly, another person that could give you license would be God, but I don't think he hands out licenses, or permits.  It is like you saying to yourself.
   "I can do this because my interpretation of what God wants is ......This"

That would be far too easy/lazy and is essentially the same as the first example of 'myself' giving 'myself' license because I'm the only one involved in finding my own interpretation for what I want to do.

To say that my interpretation is congruent with All the words and phrases in that one book becomes harder.... and harder still would be to say that it is consistent with the time and context in which they were written (as alluded to above with hermeneutics discussion).  It is even more difficult to make them seem consistent with all written words in all books written in all languages on earth.

Lastly it is harder to make them consistent with what we know about our own human nature.  Trying to find truths that are consistent with all we know, read and experience as humans is part of the journey of finding out what we are. C Jung spent his entire life studying human nature and didn't have it down pat.  Even then you need to make your interpretation consistent with the person you are currently facing.

If  you want 'license', then it seems to me that you would have to ask the persons you are affecting with your Doing.  Since we are in this together.... unless you believe that you are an island (simon and garfunkel song).  This would mean that they agree with your interpretation... otherwise they don't give you license.

summary:  If you really want permission, then ask the neighbour next to you.

This is similar to what C. Jung did with his patients.  He didn't claim to know what was best for them, or make generalizations in how to treat people.  Each were individuals that needed to be asked how they wished to be treated.  There was not a common stick that he could strike each one with and get the same possitive results.  Each person's dreams meant something specific to each of them.   Even though there is a common human backdrop (global unconcious) evident since the beginning of history, we are still each a unique specimen on that substrate.
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CallandorCommented:
>Well it does say love your neighbour, not all of them, if I am to interpet literally.

You obviously missed Jesus' response to the asker when he tried to squirm his way out of the obligation by asking "Who is my neighbor?"  The story of the good samaritan followed after, along with the declaration that a neighbor is anyone who has mercy on someone else (Luke 10:25-37).  So why are you trying to squirm out of it?

>I am a Christian, by birth

I would say that that statement did not come from the Bible and is an impossibility, as Jesus always taught that one must make a choice to follow him.  If you think that you can be born into Christianity, you are mistaking culture for commitment.  It also makes no difference what school or church you went to or how you were raised; being physically somewhere doesn't change the condition of the heart.

You also lump all fundamentalists together, because you don't see any distinction between one religion or another.  Well, as some may have told you, a relationship is not a religion, and that is what makes Christianity different.

I agree with you that in the end, what is true will remain, and everything false will disappear, but you should use discernment to find out what that is.
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Jason210Commented:
You obviously missed Jesus' response to the asker when he tried to squirm his way out of the obligation by asking "Who is my neighbor?"  The story of the good samaritan followed after, along with the declaration that a neighbor is anyone who has mercy on someone else (Luke 10:25-37).  So why are you trying to squirm out of it?
Well, I was being stubborn,. But there are in fact similar statements in the Gospel of Thomas, including a question one person asks "Where is heaven". And Jesus responds "Right in front of your face".

One does not need to be a Christian to feel compassion for one's enemy, if that is what you mean by loving ones neighbour. And it can be achieved by instruction. It requires that you have humanity, empathy. What is your view of the US administrations assassination of Bin Laden? I am curious.
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Jason210Commented:
Er, sorry, I meant to say "And it can't be achieved by instruction". You can't simply tell someone to feel empathy and then they suddenly become capable of it.
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Jason210Commented:
reopenner
Trying to find truths that are consistent with all we know, read and experience as humans is part of the journey of finding out what we are.
Exactly.
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CallandorCommented:
The Gospel of Thomas does not fit with the other gospels, with its Gnostic leanings.  If it preaches a different gospel, then it's considered the outlier.

One doesn't need to be a Christian to love one's enemies, but one needs external help to do what one is not capable of.  For example, "You can't simply tell someone to feel empathy and then they suddenly become capable of it" - this is in fact one of the roles of the Holy Spirit, to transform the believer and enable them to live in conformity with Jesus' commands, as 1 John says.  Over time, this should be observable evidence witnessed by others around the person in question.
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ropennerCommented:
In answer to the original question:

Callandor's point that we need more that 'us' is a good one and consistent with experience.
_____________
The idea that we cannot do some things without the Holy Spirit/God/Tao/living fire within/global unconscious is something I would expand on and is consistent with all I've seen in the Tao, Buddhism, Christianity, psychology and all other reading and personal experience about the human condition.  Since finding truths that are consistent across written word and experience is part of this discussion.  Illustrating a truth (for me) might be interesting.

St. Augustine said it like this
“Without God I cannot, and without me God will not.” St. Augustine

The twin message might be something like:
"With God I can, and with me God will."

or
"I am the chooser and god is the wind beneath my wings"

The expansion that isn't automatically assumed from reading St. Augustine's quote is that we can take credit for Nothing other than the choices we make.  The only other ability we possess is to feel/experience/observe/sense... all a way of taking input.  So, we as humans can observe and choose... and that is it.  The credit for all else goes somewhere else.

example (mental):  We like to say "I thought of that", "it was my idea" but no one creates thoughts (long explanation may be required to believe this but I've read explanations that have convinced me and if your interested you will need to seek this out... perhaps try and generate an ingenious thought... or rather sit quietly and wait for it to come to you.)... we only choose the ones we look at.

example (physical):  Batting an eyelash is a choice and the mechanism is the life within (over which we have no dominion or ability to bend or change its implementation of the choice)

If you believe this premise then something else should be given credit for being the life within each of us.  It doesn't choose the action but it makes it possible.  To me "God makes all things possible" is one of those things that makes sense across all I've read and experienced.   Part of the problem of communicating from one to the other is that if I just said "God makes all things possible" and you have none of my experiences, you cannot understand what is meant without a very lengthy explanation.  This lengthy post isn't even close to long enough to put in all the words necessary to convince another with different experiences.

So, that 'life force' within is what:  shows us the inspiration and sings us the tune for the new song in our heads.  Then we choose to ignore it or choose to concentrate on it and write it down.

How quickly our egos try to take credit and build themselves up rather than humbly admitting the source is elsewhere.  A great example was on American Survivor recently when a man had a dream where an ancestor told him where to find a buried item on a large beach front.   He admitted to the camera that it 'came to him' in a dream and that he didn't figure it out or originate the idea or thought.  

He takes two shovel fulls and finds the item, and in his joy  he takes full credit and says it was all due to his credentials as an investigator.  His choice to interpret the scenario is not consistent with all he experienced, yet he gave himself license to make those conclusions.

I think when we try to draw conclusions we should be truthful, humble and wise (wanting to be persuaded) so that consistency can be found and make our actions congruent with our truths (live righteously: being right/true to ourselves)

When I say righteously; I use it Not in the sense where I impose my truth on you and assume that it is also your truth, but only in that I am true to myself and my unique experience.  The mistake made by most is they try to say ... "what is good for me is also good for you and then impose their truth on the other without asking them or consulting their unique experience"

Someone prompted me recently to write down all the 'truths' from my perspective.  I think if we all did that, we'd find that many would be the same and That list of common truths would be the common human experience.  There would also be many more detailed conditional truths that would be unique for each of us because of our unique experiences.  I think that we'd also find that we could all live 'in our truth' without imposing on any other.
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Jason210Commented:
The idea that we cannot do some things without the Holy Spirit/God/Tao/living fire within/global unconscious is something I would expand on and is consistent with all I've seen in the Tao, Buddhism, Christianity, psychology and all other reading and personal experience about the human condition.  Since finding truths that are consistent across written word and experience is part of this discussion.  Illustrating a truth (for me) might be interesting.
You appear to understand that whatever "it" is, it is beyond any particular religion. So does it not also follow that any claim to having the only valid spiritual path is either wrong or requires non-literal interpretation? For example, in Christianity, Jesus says that he is the only way, and that none may reach God through except him. If we accept this statement at face value, which is what Callandor would do, and which is what Leonstyrker appears to be implying we should do, then it immediately causes a problem. Suddenly Jesus is the only true path. However, if we interpret it from another perspective, we may come to another conclusion. We can for example consider that the "Me" Jesus refers to as the God consciousness which he has become, as opposed tp the personal (ego) Jesus. That God consciousness is available to all of us. This not only removes the problem of Jesus claiming he personally is the only valid way, but opens the door to all.

He takes two shovel fulls and finds the item, and in his joy  he takes full credit and says it was all due to his credentials as an investigator.  His choice to interpret the scenario is not consistent with all he experienced, yet he gave himself license to make those conclusions.
I understand your point about not attributing ideas and intuitions to the ego, but this doesn't address the original question. Also one should not forget that often we use "I" and so on as a means of expedience when discussing subjects.

In the light of the reasoning "I" laid out above, the non-literal (metaphorical) interpretation of religious text seems to not to have the purpose of justifying any action, but rather removes the justification for a specific type of action or belief.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
Leonstyrker appears to be implying we should do

You once again miss the point of the question, which is that interpretation of a Holy Script, even literal, should not be used to justify a person's actions, since it differs by individual. BTW, I am not Christian through either birth or conversion.
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Jason210Commented:
That original specifical mentioned metaphorical interpretation so may be I can be excused for missing the point...

Since you are saying that any interpretation of Holy Text, inluding literal, should not be used to justify a person's actions, then would it be wrong if I summarised your question by omitting all references to interpretation and simply say:

Does Holy Script give one a "licence" to justify any action?
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ropennerCommented:
The metaphorical interpretation Jason offers for "through me" is as I would interpret it and it doesn't justify any action towards another, but it does give me permission/license to say that it can be interpreted in a way that is consistent with the rest of the worlds philosophies.

A good question now would be:  "why do some choose to interpret things so that there are differences between other groups?"

In this case it would seem that the interpretation that requires knowing 'Jesus' personally sets one group apart from the rest of the world and gives them an authority or specialness over the rest.

It would be ironic if this was the intent or truth of the life of Jesus, since it is not consistent with how he personally spoke about literal interpretations of the spiritual texts of that time.  He himself was a metaphorical and self thinker who justified his own actions based on an interpretation of the Jewish texts in a way that none of the leaders of that time would have done.  He healed on their holy days even though the literal text expressly forbid it.  He then did not justify his actions based on the single text but on the combined philosophy of all world religions and human experience of empathy.

 "do no harm"

Even still Jesus did not assume that someone wanted to be healed or helped:  ever.  His 'action' required the 'actee' to ask for help in accordance with the need they felt.  Therefore, even he was not given license to assume what others want.

One of the unique feature of Jesus was that when someone did ask, he readily served them in their need.  There was no regard for race or age or belief of the one in need.  He treated them all as if they were himself.  He saw value in treating people that way because I think he believed we are all connected and that if one of us hurts, we all hurt.

Empathy is simply learned and not special to any one person or animal.
a) you get hit
b) you feel pain
c) you judge how you want to feel about that
d) you see another hit
e) you remember your pain
f) you remember your feelings and empathize or imagine what it must feel like in the other and in turn re-feel what you felt the time you were hit.

However, even with this empathy for others I cannot assume that C) you have judged how you want to feel about that.  This is where the uniqueness of us all comes in and I am allowed to experience life differently than you.

One person may embrace their blindness while another reviles it.  One would want healing and the other not.

One may embrace hard work and breaking rocks all day and want no respite from it.  While another may dread even the thought of such work.

Therefore, "treat others as we like to be treated".... is actually the same as "do no harm", because

We would like others to ask us how we would like to be treated before being 'acted' upon.

List of Truths that I find consistent and help me:  http://clearsolutions.ab.ca/user597/
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CallandorCommented:
The reason Jesus spoke out against the leaders of that time was not that they didn't know what the scriptures said, but that they refused to be compassionate and see that they needed God's help, too.  An attitude of being better than others through some self serving qualification of earning it was their religion, and this was what Jesus strove to counter.  He was able to speak authoritatively about the word of God because he claimed to be the author - God himself, who existed from eternity.  That put his interpretation far above those of the teachers, scholars, lawyers and priests.  That also gave him licence to justify any action, but none of his actions could be considered negative.
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ropennerCommented:
Can you post where Jesus claimed to be the author of their scriptures?  I can't find it in my version.
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CallandorCommented:
This thread about the trinity is where I posted Jesus' claims to be God: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Other/Philosophy_Religion/Q_26748004.html#a34616077
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ropennerCommented:
This is still related to the original question but only in the fact that it elaborates on consistent interpretations of writings.

Callandor:  Thank you, that was quite thorough.  I see how all of those examples caused the Jews of that time and some Christians of this time to believe that Jesus said he was equivalent to God and evidence showed that Jesus was God.  He definitely exhibited what they considered to be God-like qualities.  I would say they chose a conclusion amongst many.

I would also claim much of same "Jesus is the son of God" and "all that comes forth from Jesus is from God" and "Jesus' spirit is at one with God".  All these things are true from my perspective and from the writings.  Everything Jesus said is truth from my perspective.  He said everything short of "I am God":  he said "Father is greater than I", "I am the son of God", "I am", and it was easy for anyone to jump to conclusion and crucify his for blasphemy because of the slight differences between what he said and what was blasphemy.

My understanding of who Jesus was is slightly different than the Catholic view and yet still consistent will everything Jesus said.  The small difference is enlightened by these statements.  

We are all sons and daughters of God,
we are god's children,
none of us are separate from god in any sense.  
The spirit of God dwells within us, and all that is good comes from god.  
Our souls are timeless and genderless and will exist in eternity (not infinity since time does not exist).

It would be wrong for me to say "I am god" because that is not consistent, since the totality of god is much more than I can currently identify with in this limited shell, but saying "I am" identifies 'self' with the only thing that exists and decidedly says that there is a difference between the man Jesus and the totality of what God is.

It occurs to me now that when Jesus passed on he would become at-one with God as we would and so the notion that Jesus is God becomes stronger, but like a drop of water into the ocean I would no longer call Jesus (a drop of water) but God 'the ocean'.

I think Jesus was like us but someone who no longer identify with their body and ego.  He rather identified with his god-consciousness/soul.

The council of Nicaea (325 ad) looked at more than one option of who Jesus was, but I think was looking too myopically at a set of texts and had motives
motive 1: finding truth
motive 2:???  I don't know what this would be but the actions of destroying texts was the result.  Killing people was also a result if they came up with other conclusions than the Councils'.  I don't think it would be consistent to say that if your only motive is truth that killing people is a necessity, therefore I conclude they had more than one motive.  It appears similar to imposing a decided truth upon others.

I'm sure they were intelligent people because they came up with their reasons for believing what they did and backed it up with writings and references.  The motives of the Romans may not have been to necessarily find truth but to route out what appeared to be dichotomies in their chosen scriptures so that they could better explain the life of Jesus.

I think our abilities to communicate across vast distances may afford us an opportunity that was lost when fire consumed the writings stored at Alexandria (48 ad): having access to the world's texts in one place.  I don't know where the spiritual texts of India are stored or those of China, but portions are available to us all now so that we can include all of these texts in our resource list when we look for a consistent interpretation of the words and actions of Jesus (which decidedly originate with God).  A man who studied philosophy at the Vatican described to me that the texts from india were not studied with the prevalence he would have expected.  Prayers that predates Jesus by 1800 years, but mirror the ideas presented by Jesus were not studied as relevant.  I think this may be an indication of how it has been throughout time.  The egoic belief that 'others' could not possibly know truths, because I possess it.

I choose to believe that which is consistent and what is consistent is also helpful to me.  People of the time of the Nicaean council also thought this way.  They gave their lives in support of their beliefs.  When scripts were destroyed because they didn't support the chosen conclusions of the Nicaean council, some fled the empire, taking with them texts that they thought pointed to truth.  Some died in the attempt.  The gnostic, ethiopian, egyptian, jehovah and other groups have kept their beliefs alive until today (Jesus was a man like us).  They didn't all understand the implications of this belief either, but few would, as it could be fairly abstract.  The fact that some came away from the year 325 with this belief is indication that there is not only one explanation of the early texts that were examined at Nicaea.  The fact that there even was a coucil, indicates that whatever conclusions made, were certainly not obvious and undenyable.

None of that matters.  I believe it because I am free to choose to.  All are free to choose to believe whatever helps them.  I don't hope to sway anyone or convince anyone if it is un-helpful for them.  Thank you for your previous efforts in writing about the Jesus - God relationship.  Whichever explanation you choose (back to the question) it doesn't justify anything done to anyone else.  Since you don't need license to do things that do not affect others (I think), you can do a lot of things without asking permission of others.  Unless you also believe that we are all connected as one living God, in which case you'll need to start cooperating with others again.
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Ron MalmsteadInformation Services ManagerCommented:
""Does metaphorical interpretation of Holy Script give the interpreter a "licence" to justify any action? ""

Whether an interpretation is metephorical or literal makes little difference.

The interpreter gains their "license" to justify, when they gain an audience willing to entertain their interpretation as "fact".

Without an audience, they are just another kook in the corner talking to themselves.
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Jason210Commented:
^^ I think that was one of ropenner's points. If others agree and think it makes sense then there must be something useful aboutt hat interpretation, even if it isn't "fact".

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CallandorCommented:
That obviously is not true - think about all the people who agree that drastic measures should be taken against anyone who draws a cartoon caricature of their favorite person.  The amount of people who agree on something and who think it makes sense is not an indicator of its usefulness.  We could look at the Nazis as another example.
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ropennerCommented:
List of things you DO have license to do:  UN rights for Humans
     http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

Why do you have these licenses? because we asked everyone in the world and their representatives said ... yes those are acceptable.  Still would be good to ask individuals since only representatives were sent to the UN.

If we want to be intolerant and take away rights from people, then we will need to still ask them first, since we all agreed that we'd play by these UN rules.

Examples where people's basic rights are not upheld: UN rights for Humans:

Killing people (al quaeda killing westerners) or
detaining them without charge or council (Guantanamo) or
telling them they cannot assemble (libya, syria) or
cannot be a part of the government (all dictatorships), or
cannot freely believe and change beliefs (taliban in afghanistan)
cannot own their own land (Israel vs Palistine)

If we want to all get along swimmingly then we all have to start upholding the rights of everyone.  Each time we don't we weaken our demands for our own rights.

"It isn't my problem":  If we do not advocate for the least of our citizens of the world, then we will not receive an advocate when we are in need of one.  You have license to speak and think, so do so.  Speak up whenever someone claims to have license to take away the rights of anyone of our neighbours.  (good Samaritan comes to mind)
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Jason210Commented:
I suppose you could say the same about Western media. The most effective propaganda machine is the one you don't see as a propaganda machine. For example, yhe west all agree that bombing Libya is the necessary to protect civilians from the Gadaffi, despite the inevitable collateral damage and injury that occurs during bombing.

The media also support it, and it would appear, according to the media, that the population of the countries involved do too. Yet, I not spoken to one person who thinks its a good thing.

On the other hand, what is a University Degree? It's simply a document proclaiming that a number of examiners agree that You have a certain level of knowledge.
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BigRatCommented:
>>Why do you have these licenses? because we asked everyone in the world and their representatives said ... yes those are acceptable.

That's not at all true. See the Wiki article about the drafting.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights section Adoption.

What is important is that Saudia Arabia abstained (as well as the Soviet block), the people's republic of China was not even a member and many countries (as of 1948) were still in colonial hands, in particular most of the Arab countries. See also the section on Criticism, and particularly article 25 on the right to free medical care which seems to be an anamatha in the United States of America!

>> I agree that one cannot arbitrarily decide how to interpret scripture.  That leads to a "it means what you want it to mean" conclusion, and I for one don't write so that others can interpret my words any way they want

The problem with scripture lies precisely in its interpretation and it is this interpretation which gives the "license" or justification for the actions. Scripture is writings which call on the absolute, that pillar of wisdom which transcends normal worldly things. The interpretation can be indivual - often we find crazy people thinking that God has called them to do something which we find wicked - but largely there is a body of men, who all share the same basic "Weltanschauung" who use scripture to expand and justify their culural viewpoint. Interestingly this often leads to acts which in themselves, to the very people who made the "laws" as abhorrent - like the burning of witches - but justified as unpleasent but necessary. It is all well meaning in the cultural atmosphere at the time, only later or in other cultures is it then seen to be wicked. But, yes, the literal or indeed metaphorical interpretation of holy scripture does give one the justification for that type of action, which is consistant with the prevailing culture and appropiate scripture, and which in later years might well be considered barbaric.

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CallandorCommented:
BigRat,

The problem you describe is not one of interpreting scripture, but of power-hungry people using whatever is convenient to promote their agenda.  Such people are not restricted to using religion to support their ideas, and they sometimes think they are above the law.  Those who want to find out what God has declared, in my experience, are humbled by the discipline and realize how little they know in comparison to an infinite God.  They recognize that they are servants of people, not lords, and it affects the way they interact with others.

I do not make an excuse for those in the past who have not stood up to leaders who wrongly used scripture to promote their ideas, but it does require courage, and it can cost them their life (ie, Dietrich Bonhoffer and others).  Would that we all could do the right thing when the chips are down.
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Jason210Commented:
Bigrat and Callandor

I think what you are both referring to is a kind of tribal or group mentality. People identify with a particular group then want to preserve that group at the expense of those that aren't or can't be in the group. This can happen with religion, culture, race, tribes, communties, clubs, politics or anything where people can unite due to having a common idea, cause or characteristic. In some circumstances, a bully may come along and start pushing around or disposing of the outsiders and the members of his group may secretly, if not openly, support him, perhaps because he's satisfying the groups hidden unconscious instinct for tribal genocide, although the bully usually find himself in that role because it seems to legitimise his natural tendency to violence and hatred. I think with Hitler this was definitely the case, because when you study his perosnal life you can see that he had personality problems. I think this may also have been true of OBL.

I think also that once you are involved in this kind of mentality, there is a tendancy to project that mentality on to other groups, who are then perceived as a threat, and this of course escalates the hostility between the groups.

I think religion is susceptable to these problems, because groups have greater authority than individuals that goes beyond the ego and the self. But not only religion - ideologies too are worse. It's intresting that Hitler practically re-invented german mythology (probably quite unconsciously), because of belief in higher authority, and the need to fill that vacancy with something meaningful and that would sanctify the idea of a master race.
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BigRatCommented:
>>The problem you describe is not one of interpreting scripture, but of power-hungry people using whatever is convenient to promote their agenda.

That is the sort of response I would expect from somebody wanting to defend Religion. It is debatable whether people like Savonarola, Calvin, Zwingli, most of the popes and so on, were actually "power hungry" when they started. They were more than likely totally convinced that they were doing the word of God according to their interpretation of the scriptures. Most of the movements, like the Anabaptists, used passages or quotations from the bible as foundation blocks for their way of life.  The entire Reformation (from Hus right through to Luther) is based exaclty upon this principle - that distinct passages from the bible show that the Catholic Church is wrong and that it has to be otherwise. Comunities based on these beliefs then based their laws on them, so what is actually within or "above" the law is really a matter of opinion (or which passages one would like to quote).
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Ron MalmsteadInformation Services ManagerCommented:
Democracy is the means by which peace, liberty, and freedoms are most often attained on this earth.

Religion is the means and justification, in which these things are most often taken away.

This is why religion should never be allowed to supercede Democracy or the laws that govern within one.

Both Democracy and Religion are ideas that survive on the "group mentality" you both mentioned, but it seems to me that only one of them needs constant justification and the "beliefs" of an audience to exist.

The merits of Democracy are self evident, while the merits of religion are not...
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ropennerCommented:
Yes, and I think part of why this may be true is in how they operate.

One:  Democracy ... is based on asking everyone their opinion as to what they want.  This may not be the perfect system for doing this but it is close to the perfect one where everyone is always asked what they want before something affects them.

Two: Religious text imposes its meaning on others without asking their opinion.  'It' knows what is best for others.  The reason this can work is the fear of the consequences of not doing what an all powerful being 'requires' of us.  The consequences are possibly dire, so people comply.

It is no-longer possible to impose a religious text interpretation on others as they become educated.  Education removes the fear of the unknown because more is 'known' or observed.  Beliefs are either not necessary as when learning factual information or they are more varied due to imagining or observing more options to believe.

An educated public is one that can choose Democracy over 'someone telling us they know what is best for us' (dictatorship, theocracy).  I believe the current uprisings around the world are not possible without education and access to observing the world around us.
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Ron MalmsteadInformation Services ManagerCommented:
""I believe the current uprisings around the world are not possible without education and access to observing the world around us. ""


I blame the internet... lol.... and Al Gore of course, who invented it.    ;)
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CallandorCommented:
>It is debatable whether people like Savonarola, Calvin, Zwingli, most of the popes and so on, were actually "power hungry" when they started.

What does this mean?  That they became power-hungry later and used that power to force people to believe what they didn't want to believe?  I think the concept that they were onto the truth is option number one, for those who are willing to investigate what the Bible actually says.  I also wouldn't categorically lump these three in with most of the popes, either.  Being opposed to a morally corrupt clergy is a good thing; the problem was the Catholic Church got involved in politics and power games which attracted the sort of people who like to play in those arenas.  The adage about power corrupting applies here.

> The entire Reformation (from Hus right through to Luther) is based exaclty upon this principle - that distinct passages from the bible show that the Catholic Church is wrong and that it has to be otherwise.

And what is wrong with that?  The Catholic Church holds tradition, which cannot be objectively arrived at, on the same level as scripture, which everyone at least can start at the same place with.  It is the assignment of man-made rules which calls into question their weight of authority.

>so what is actually within or "above" the law is really a matter of opinion

One cannot arbitrarily quote a select text to make it the overriding foundation of what the entire scripture says.  Sure, if you leave your mind behind and refuse to think for yourself, you can end up being guided by crackpots.  But it is clear that believers are given the mandate to study and understand what the scriptures say, so that they may live in conformity with it.  If it sounds like it contradicts loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself, then it's time to watch out.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
One of ropenner's posts contains the only mention of "motive" in this thread. It would seem that the obvious answer to the poster's question is that if the "motive" of the interpreter aligns with the "Holy Script" then it is likely that the action is justified . . .which begs the question of how would one know if a particular action aligns or not. On this forum I suspect there's a great deal of contention about what the Bible, for example, preaches . . . But I honestly can't imagine that anyone would disagree -- regardless of their belief -- even if they were "born" Christian (Har!, sorry Jason210) -- that if Jesus' teachings were anything, they weren't about promoting self. So if I read a "Holy Script" and it is generally held that the "Holy Script" is about "loving others" and I think that the action of blowing up abortion clinics is justified then I am probably crazy.

However:

<<And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.(002.191)

Following this explicitly, word for word, means that the Taliban and Al Quaeda are doing what you suggest they should do - following the written word. It seems that this gives them the licence to justify their actions, rather than "metaphorical interpretation". >>

Well . . . if the KEY element of the Qran is to wipe out the infidel, you may have a point. And I think you point out the perfect example of what leonstryker is getting at. What a wonderful thing it is if what you want to do to promote yourself and your culture is in fact "suggested" in a "Holy Script".

SteveJ
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Jason210:
The fact that I seem to spark these discussions tells me that I am saying something that is causing strong reactions.

Callandor:
Yes, the fact that you, who are not a Christian, is trying to define what a Christian is and telling everyone who believes in the traditional view that they are wrong, might have something to do with that.


That may be the funniest two line exchange I've ever read on the P&R forum.

Thanks,
Steve
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Jason210Commented:
Well . . . if the KEY element of the Qran is to wipe out the infidel, you may have a point. And I think you point out the perfect example of what leonstryker is getting at. What a wonderful thing it is if what you want to do to promote yourself and your culture is in fact "suggested" in a "Holy Script".
I can buy that argument, but if we do that, then we must take the same approach to all scripture, including Christian. I would say that the doctrine of the Virgin birth, for example, is not one of the KEY elements of the Christian text.

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Jason210Commented:
To be honest, I wouldn't advocate metaphorical interpretation of the new testement. The NT is a mixed bag of metaphor, allegory, symbolism and oral tradition in narrative form. The mainstream scholarly view is that it is mostly written by people who never even met Jesus and so is influenced by their understanding of events and of Jesus. Every one of them is questionable.

From this minefield the early Christian church has made its selection and decided what Christianity is and what its doctrines are.

I also think people like Paul have a lot to answer for. But may be for another discussion one day.

No, I think any interpretation of scripture, literal or non-literal, is dangerous without an awareness of the world's other religions, science and, well, just about everything else.

In other words, to the uneducated, it is dangerous.
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CallandorCommented:
>I would say that the doctrine of the Virgin birth, for example, is not one of the KEY elements of the Christian text.

You would be wrong - the theme of man's inherited sinful nature and being unable to reach God on his own is one of the unique themes of Christianity.  Every other religion is centered around man's effort to reach God and trying to be good enough to do so, but man's sinful nature keeps him from accomplishing this.  Jesus was not like everyone else in inheriting a sin nature; the involvement of the Holy Spirit in his conception made him holy.  It also was God's initiative that made the virgin birth happen, not some man's idea, so it goes back again to the uniqueness of Christianity.  You need to fully understand who Christ is and what he did to draw these conclusions.

In addition, the virgin birth allowed Jesus to be fully God and fully man - this condition was necessary in order to be the perfect sacrifice and to be the sacrifice that was sufficient for all men for all time.  Being human and yet without sin qualified him to take on the sins of others.  This is the central tenet of Christianity.


>In other words, to the uneducated, it is dangerous.

That too, is dangerous - it implies that the uneducated have no way of understanding what God may have to say to them, and that they must depend on the elite or an intermediate to do it for them.  That opens up the way for controlling people.  If God intended people to understand his message, he is certainly capable of delivering it in an understandable way, without intellectuals or third parties.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
"From this minefield the early Christian church has made its selection and decided what Christianity is and what its doctrines are."

To be clear, you are saying that God played no part in that 'selection' process?

"No, I think any interpretation of scripture, literal or non-literal, is dangerous without an awareness of the world's other religions, science and, well, just about everything else."

In a narrow sense I don't disagree, though I didn't think you believed anything existed outside of science (just yanking you chain Jason210, forgive me). But again to be clear, are you saying that scripture can only be rightly 'interpreted' once you are aware of everything else? That would seem to make an understanding of scripture impossible.
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Jason210Commented:
Callandor
You would be wrong - the theme of man's inherited sinful nature and being unable to reach God on his own is one of the unique themes of Christianity.

Perhaps I should say that Jesus teachings aren't the exclusive property of Christianity then, and that Christianty is flawed for the reason I have given.


Every other religion is centered around man's effort to reach God and trying to be good enough to do so, but man's sinful nature keeps him from accomplishing this.
No it's not. Buddhism isn't.  God is also defined differently in different religions, and only in Christianity is sin a key element, according to Christian teachings determined by the Christian church.


Jesus was not like everyone else in inheriting a sin nature; the involvement of the Holy Spirit in his conception made him holy.  It also was God's initiative that made the virgin birth happen, not some man's idea, so it goes back again to the uniqueness of Christianity.  You need to fully understand who Christ is and what he did to draw these conclusions.
Again, this is according to Christian teachings determined by the Christian church, using the aniquated language that no longer applies to todays thinking. You are teaching Christianity. You are expounding the cental doctrines of Christian church. Also, I think we should be careful before start claiming who and who does not fully understand Jesus. You clearly believe you do, but perhaps what you really understand is the church's view of Jesus.


In addition, the virgin birth allowed Jesus to be fully God and fully man - this condition was necessary in order to be the perfect sacrifice and to be the sacrifice that was sufficient for all men for all time.  Being human and yet without sin qualified him to take on the sins of others.  This is the central tenet of Christianity.
All I can really add here is that we have Christian church and its doctrines v. the Christian writings. These are two seperate things. You can't really argue against people going back to the source and comparing the seemingly miraculous teachings of Christ with parallel texts from other religions. It is not Christian, in that sense. But then again, most historians consider that Jesus was a Jew. He certainly wasn't a Christian!


SteveJ
To be clear, you are saying that God played no part in that 'selection' process?
Perhaps. But that would only make it valid for a certain time and place. I'm sure the official Christian canon, and the doctrines derived, were the best strategy for preserving the Christian church back then. Everyone could understand them in a practical way and I'm sure this went a long way to producing a stable society in Europe and ensuring the survival of the Christianity and the teachings of Jesus. Interestingly, Jesus believed in Peter to carry on the Christian teachings after his death, even though Peter was not the most enlightened of the disciples. But he had some quality that Jesus saw as being valuable, perhaps some kind of survivability or toughness. Anyway, it was Peter who went to Rome and whose teachings are thought to be the basis of Mark, Mathew and Luke. Christianity had an important role in our history and I certainly wouldn't would to go back and change anything. But I do believe that now we have to see things as they are, and not blindly follow a church. The teachings back then were not perfect, they were in many ways limited.  But time changes us. For example, when Mohammed came along, he produced a spiritual guidance and claimed to be in touch with God. Perhaps I can answer your question with another.  Was God involved with Mohammed? If we claim God inspired the selection of Christian texts, then why should he not have inspired Mohammed? And all the other religions for that matter. Darwin was another point in time which forced us to look again and reconsider. Did God inspire Darwin?

What does God want? That we cut off the heads of infidels? That we teach school children that the virgin birth was a literal event insist on a fundamental interpretation of scripture? That Jesus is the only way? That we fight each other? Who knows? All I know is that I can look, and learn, and try to determine the truth about Christianity and other religions according to what we can study as objectively.

Jesus taught many things, but some of the things he supposedly said need to be interpreted differently. The interpretitive traditon need not be abandoned but questions can be raised about it in the light of science and other religions, and those questions should not be discouraged.

God is not to be found in the words of any book or scripture. Scripture, spiritual writings, are signposts. Some signposts are good, some not so good. Some may take you long way round, some a short way. Some may take you round in circles. Some, like Christianity, will take you to a wall and leave you there. There needs to be more than signposts if we are to get anywhere. We need to know which signpost to follow, and when to abandon it. How do we know that? That is an important question.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
"God is not to be found in the words of any book or scripture."

Well, that is simply wrong. Unless of course you are speaking literally and didn't intend to say that the spirit of God or the character of God cannot be found in any book or scripture, in which case I don't understand why you would bother to make the comment. But I think you probably meant exactly what you said . . . which isn't accurate, even if you don't believe a Christian God exists.

"Some, like Christianity, will take you to a wall and leave you there."

This is most certainly true if your objective for studying Christianity is to find fault or contradiction, or to bend it to make it conform with your views of how "things are". I don't know if this applies to you, Jason210, but that is the most common reason people fail to understand the teachings of Christ, because they can't make it fit with the way the "know" the world. So they begin looking for "proof", "knowing" they won't ever find it, which then justifies their belief that Christianity is loopy. . . that Christ wasn't both God and Man (because that's impossible) and that Christ was not brought into the world of a virgin birth (because that's impossible) and that Christ never arose  after being crucified (because that's impossible) and that propitiation is simply a term Christians devised to explain an extraordinarily convoluted fable based on a series of impossibilities.

Clearly you believe something different from what I believe Jason210. I suspect you have a reason for the certainty with which you express your opinion about the general misinterpretation of Christianity by . . . well . . . at least Callador and I. But whatever that reason may be,  it seems as though your take on spirituality is that it must fit the world as you understand it. I'm not interested in a God that narrow. What would be the point?

Good luck,
SteveJ
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sbdt8631Commented:
>>that Christ wasn't both God and Man (because that's impossible) and that Christ was not brought into the world of a virgin birth (because that's impossible) and that Christ never arose  after being crucified (because that's impossible) and that propitiation is simply a term Christians devised to explain an extraordinarily convoluted fable based on a series of impossibilities.

I must say, I couldn't have phrased that better myself.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Har! No, you couldn't have . . .

SteveJ
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
In fact, you could have been a little more clever -- if not disingenuous -- and  included the earlier part of that rant where I said Christianity is loopy.

SteveJ
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sbdt8631Commented:
Except I don't think Christianity is loopy.
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Jason210Commented:
But...All those things ARE impossible, hence the scripture cannot be literal.
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Jason210Commented:
Anyway, I'm not wasting my time and energy trying to reason with you guys. It cannot be done. Anyway, I'm on holiday now.

Have a nice summer!



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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
"But...All those things ARE impossible, hence the scripture cannot be literal."

Nope. Not only possible . . . they happened.

Good luck,
SteveJ
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sbdt8631Commented:
>>Nope. Not only possible . . . they happened

You were there?
I think, maybe, saying I believe they happened would be more reasonable.  Some of us don't believe they happened.

Have a good holiday Jason.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Sorry sbdt8631. . . in a prior post I droned on and on and on and on about how I wasn't certain . . . I am reluctant to say that for personal reasons however because that simple admission is like blood in the water to the sharks that patrol this forum. Though you are correct to point out that I can not possibly be certain about something I did not witness in some sense.

That said I am sure we landed on the moon, that millions of Jews were gassed in WW2, that the Black Plague wiped out a huge number of people in Europe, that at one time dinosaurs roamed the earth . . . and I did not witness those events either . . . though I "saw" the moon landing on TV. You would probably argue that the evidence supporting these things is more believable.

That's actually where we disagree . . .

Good luck,
SteveJ
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sbdt8631Commented:
>>You would probably argue that the evidence supporting these things is more believable.

Yes I would.  There is considerably more evidence for all those events that you mentioned than the writings in the bible.  Additionally, none of the above events depend on a supernatural explanation for their occurence.
Regardless, one either believes or one does not.
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CallandorCommented:
>There is considerably more evidence for all those events that you mentioned than the writings in the bible.

Evidence is not the question; it's whether you believe in the supernatural or not.  It has already been discussed with Jason210 that where one stands on that determines how you interpret the Bible, and there is no a priori requirement that the supernatural is detectable by science.

>Regardless, one either believes or one does not.

And that is what it boils down to, not any scientific explanation or reasoning for going one way or the other.
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CallandorCommented:
>Again, this is according to Christian teachings determined by the Christian church, using the aniquated language that no longer applies to todays thinking. You are teaching Christianity. You are expounding the cental doctrines of Christian church. Also, I think we should be careful before start claiming who and who does not fully understand Jesus. You clearly believe you do, but perhaps what you really understand is the church's view of Jesus.

No, I think this is your view of what Christian teachings are.  An objective study of the text supports everything I have said, and I am a big proponent of deriving beliefs from the text, not from handed-down teachings.  I think you do not have a complete grasp of what the text says, since you tend to read what you like into it from your experiences - that is not an objective approach.  From past dialogues, I think you use your experiences with the church in Sweden to generalize what the universal situation is.  Extrapolating to the general from the specific is always risky, if you want to get it right.

As far as claiming who fully understands Jesus, that comes from understanding the text that he gave to reveal himself.  Since you think it was all a plot by various groups of people to start a relgion and grab power, it's no wonder that you have a strange view of it.  If you deny the supernatural in the gospels, you make it into just another work of fiction, without the power to actually change lives.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
" . . .  I think you use your experiences with the church in Sweden . . . "

Now I understand your reaction to my referring to you as a native of Denmark. Sorry.

"Also, I think we should be careful before start claiming who and who does not fully understand Jesus. You clearly believe you do, but perhaps what you really understand is the church's view of Jesus."

To echo Callandor's comment . . . an objective reading of the texts tends to support Callandor's view, as well as that of the vast majority of Christian scholars and ministers. Yours is a fringe view.

I once said to you that you either have to believe Jesus when he says he is God or you have to believe he is a kook. You replied that it was unfortunate that I would see things that way. Yet, how would you describe someone who spoke in odd and sometimes difficult to understand parables, hung around with riffraff, and claimed to be God?

Good luck,
SteveJ
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Jason210Commented:
I'm in Maribor in Slovenia today. It's a nice city, nice people, nice food -- and mediterranean weather. I have a couple of hours to kill in my hotel before I go out again, so I started checking forums and what-not and saw you had posted a few things. In a moment I am going out with some acquaintances - one of who is from Turkey and a muslim, two of whom are Slovenian with a Serbian view, three from Belgium, one Swedish, one Irish, and myself British. The fact that we can sit down and discuss religion without getting uspet is due to the absence of brainwashed bigots like you and Callandor. It's the same with those who push Islam, for example in Turkey. Did you know that not all those who push Islam are terrorists? There are equivalents in Islam just like you two. In Turkey for the last 9 years such people have slowly been getting their way, trying to push Turkey towards an Islamic state.

Unfortunately, it's people with views like you two and the aforementioned muslims (as examples), who create conflict and problems in the world for people like me, as well as anyone not in their religion. They see differences and think they are important. The differences of religion are no more important than the differences of colour, or race or culture. If you are unable to see this you betray your ignorance of the meaning of spirituality.

[To Callandor]You are teaching Christianity. You are expounding the cental doctrines of Christian church. Also, I think we should be careful before start claiming who and who does not fully understand Jesus. You clearly believe you do, but perhaps what you really understand is the church's view of Jesus.
and your reply is..

No, I think this is your view of what Christian teachings are.
I don't follow the logic, here. There is no clear relation to your comment and the comment I made, which makes me wonder if you actually bother to read what I write.

An objective study of the text supports
I don't think it's possible to read the texts objectively. One can only read them through an interpretitive framework of some kind. You and Callandor are using an interpretitive system expounded by many Christian Churches known as revealed exergesis.

In Christianity there are two forms of exergesis. Revealed exegesis, that considers that the Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the scriptural texts. However, there is also Rational exegesis which bases its operation on the idea that the authors have their own inspiration, so their works result from human intelligence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exegesis). Both these are taught in Divinity and Theology courses at University level.

Having studied the origin of the Christian texts, and Christianity itself, for example by reading of books like WH Frend's "Rise of Christianity" which approaches the subject as empirically as possible, then I would say that if I am biased, then I am biased towards empricism and empirical evidence. This is far from being a fringe view.

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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Har! Good stuff Jason210. I'm assuming you were drunk when you wrote this so I won't be too harsh. Callandor won't likely respond at all . . . too nice, too much class. Me? Neither describes my attitude about forums where name calling and intellectual dishonesty are the norm.

Thanks for calling me a brainwashed bigot, though. I had almost come around to thinking that I was wrong your views, that your apparent total reliance on science and empirical "evidence" to navigate the world rendered you ineffectual in matters of spirit. But you've become predictable . . . axiomatically, if someone thinks differently from you, then they are wrong.

Just a few of things to tidy up. Yours is a fringe view and I don't quite understand how you've convinced yourself otherwise. Certainly, you cannot believe that the overwhelming majority of Christians don't believe in the virgin birth or resurrection . . .which would have to be the case for your view not to be a fringe view. Second, you bent on categorizing Callandor and I. Har! Good luck with that.

Last (maybe, unless my call keeps getting postponed) . . . yes, I know about blah blah blah exegesis, and you (or more accurately, Mr. Wiki) lay out a rather weak distinction between the two forms that you mention, one that I would argue is inaccurate. In one, the Holy Spirit "inspires", in the other they "have their own inspiration." So where in the heck would THAT inspiration come from? By the way, you mis-quoted wiki: it's "According to some forms of Christianity . . . ". As you can probably predict, I don't quite hold Wiki in the same esteem that you do.

Ah, Jason210 . . . it would appear that we will have to agree to disagree. Or perhaps more accurately we will have to hold one another in mutual disdain for our inability yet again to persuade one another to think differently from the way we choose to think. Me, brainwashed bigot . . . you . . . pseudo-intellectual snobbish Brit.

Good luck,
SteveJ
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Good grief . . .

". . . wrong your views . . . " should be " . . . wrong about your views . . . "

"Second, you bent on categorizing . . . " should be "Second, you seem bent on categorizing . . ."

" . . .one that I would argue is inaccurate . . . " should probably read ". . . one that I would argue is stupid . . ."
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
<<The fact that we can sit down and discuss religion without getting uspet is due to the absence of brainwashed bigots like you and Callandor.>>

Decided I couldn't let that gem go . . . that's an extraordinarily naive comment Jason210 and honestly strikes at the heart of what happens on this forum. I have said things to you in jest that you took seriously . . .which is why I asked -- in all honesty -- if your first language was English. Yes, I too sit down face-to-face with people every day who are far more abrasive and confrontational than you and the discussions remain civil . . .it has nothing to do with how unyielding, intransigent or nonsensical someone, say for example, like you, might be . . . it has everything to do with respect. And it would appear that you have no respect for me.

By the way, I'm confused about why you would call me or Callandor a bigot . . .which is why I observed that you must have been drunk when you wrote your comments. You, my friend, are the one who seems intolerant of opinions that differ from yours.

Oh well . . .
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Jason210Commented:
But you've become predictable . . . axiomatically, if someone thinks differently from you, then they are wrong.
You would not succeed in predicting me on that basis because your belief about how I function is wrong, as you know full well, troll.

Yours is a fringe view and I don't quite understand how you've convinced yourself otherwise. Certainly, you cannot believe that the overwhelming majority of Christians don't believe in the virgin birth or resurrection . . .which would have to be the case for your view not to be a fringe view.
Not being one who subscribes to the Christian view, such labels as "fringe" are meaningless. I don't play your game and don't care what the overwhelming majority of Christians think - I am not a Christian  (except by virtue of being baptised as such) and therefore your labels are about as meaningful as a fatwah is to Barrack Obama.

the way, you mis-quoted wiki:
It wasn't a quote it was a citation.
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CallandorCommented:
Jason210,

What is with the "brainwashed bigots" name-calling?  Have you stooped to ad-hominem attacks now?  That was completely uncalled for.  You have unsuccessfully tried to convince me and others that Christianity is something which it isn't, and now you're playing the low card.  Shame on you.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Calendar,

I am afraid I goaded him into that. It is unfortunate that you were hit by a spit wad that was probably meant for me.

Sorry.
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Jason210Commented:
Callandor...

You have unsuccessfully tried to convince me and others that Christianity is something which it isn't, and now you're playing the low card.

A few posts back, I said this:

[To Callandor]You are teaching Christianity. You are expounding the cental doctrines of Christian church. Also, I think we should be careful before start claiming who and who does not fully understand Jesus. You clearly believe you do, but perhaps what you really understand is the church's view of Jesus.

So, this where we are. I am trying to tell you what Christianity is at all. Regarding Christianity, all I do these days is point out the facts - as far as they can be dtermined - of how it grew into being.

I've suggested to you is that your understanding of Jesus may be incorrect, as can any mans be. Who can really know? But to start saying that I don't understand Jesus and you do is a very bold claim and smacks of arrogance.

I don't agree that God was responsible for the selection of the Canon, and even if he was it would matter, because one could then say he was also responsible for the insipiration for other religious texts in other religions. Where do you draw the line?

The orthodox chruch draws the line, right? Because they were inspired by God.

There is only circular logic in your arguments, and therefore you keep repeating yourself, claiming that you have some kind of authority.






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CallandorCommented:
>So, this where we are. I am trying to tell you what Christianity is at all. Regarding Christianity, all I do these days is point out the facts - as far as they can be dtermined - of how it grew into being.

If what you were stating were "facts", there would be little disagreement from me and others who value what is true.  What you have come up with is speculation, backed up by others who also speculated on what happened.  Now, we don't have a time machine to go back in time to see for ourselves what happened, nor do we have perfect digital recordings of events.  That doesn't mean there isn't enough data to draw solid conclusions from, and it seems you basically throw out or reinterpret anything that doesn't fit your worldview.  You attempt to give your worldview the full backing and authority of science, but that is a facade, since science will never prove or disprove that miracles or the supernatural exist.  If you start out interpreting based on a faulty premise, your conclusions will be faulty.

All my statements on what the Bible says and who Jesus is are based on what can be derived from the text, not church dogma, and therefore your premise that I am merely "expounding the central doctrines of the Christian church" are in a word, baloney.  Perhaps you have spent too much time talking to those who only say what their church tells them to, but that means you are pigeon-holing people into your impression of Christians.  That still doesn't give you the right to call someone a bigot or insult them in a public forum.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Jason210  .  .  . You said some really profound stuff early in this post. Then I began commenting and your profundity turned to piss and vinegar. Somewhat apologetically I have to confess that I get torqued out of shape when someone says that what I believe is hokum, particularly when the basis for making that claim is pure opinion but stated as fact. Some of what you said in the last few posts is downright silly. Much of what I said in the last few posts was satirical and meant only to poke fun at your remarks.  

Here's the thing: the answer to the question posed seems to be unanimously "no".

Why don't you open another thread and pose a question that can be debated civilly? Clearly you have passion. I just can't figure out if it's about this subject or just being right.

Good luck,
SteveJ
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Your statement:

"In Christianity there are two forms of exergesis."

Which is not exactly what prof. Wiki says:

"According to some forms of Christianity , two forms of exegesis exist:"

Admittedly, it's a minor point but illustrates your penchant for seeing things the way you want to see them .  .  . troll indeed.

Har!

SteveJ
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Jason210Commented:
Callandor

If what you were stating were "facts", there would be little disagreement from me and others who value what is true.  What you have come up with is speculation, backed up by others who also speculated on what happened.  
And they did it as empirically as possible, unlike you, and unlike the Christian church who took parts from a text of dubious origin and touted it as the truth.

Now, we don't have a time machine to go back in time to see for ourselves what happened, nor do we have perfect digital recordings of events.  That doesn't mean there isn't enough data to draw solid conclusions from, and it seems you basically throw out or reinterpret anything that doesn't fit your worldview.  
No.Why try to twist it into something personal with me? What I throw out are literal interpretations that are not consistent with emprical science. There is no theory or evidence, other than the narrative of the Bible, to support the claim that the miracles and supernatural events described in the Bible happened in a literal sense. Empirical science is a merely way of accumulating a certain type of knowledge that can be trusted to work within a physical framework.  We see continuous evidence of this in that we are surrounded by technology. When you fly, Callandor, it's not the supernatural that holds the plane in the air, it's applied science. Now, one day, that plane might just stop dead in mid-flight, and remain stationary for several hours, then vanish, finally to reappear in a desert somewhere. But such highly improbable "possibilities" are not worth the time even to consider. Just like creationism is not worth more than a mention when discussing the philosophy of science (which they generally don't do in schools).

You attempt to give your worldview the full backing and authority of science, but that is a facade, since science will never prove or disprove that miracles or the supernatural exist.  If you start out interpreting based on a faulty premise, your conclusions will be faulty.
Now you're at it again. Your usual tactic to try and isolate me and make me look stupid. Let's take your argument and apply it my example of the aircraft. It would go like this: Science will never prove that your flight can't stop dead in mid-flight, and remain stationary for several hours, then vanish, and reappear in a desert somewhere. Therefore, if you say this can't happen and use the full backing and authority of science to do so, then it is a facade, since science will never prove or disprove such a miracles cannot happen.

See how ridiculous your argument sounds? YOU are the one using a facade of science to justify YOUR world view. I suppose you are aware of the creationism uproar in the early eighties in Arkansas, with that Act 590? trying to give creationism the same status as evolution in schools? Need I say more?

All my statements on what the Bible says and who Jesus is are based on what can be derived from the text, not church dogma, and therefore your premise that I am merely "expounding the central doctrines of the Christian church" are in a word, baloney.
But that's what you ARE doing!!!! You are going along with the doctrines of the Virgin Birth, and all the rest of it. To claim that you have not been influenced by the church in your reading of the Bible is something I am very skeptical of. How anyone can grow up in a western Christian culture of the 60s & 70s, and claim to have been uninfluenced by the church of that culture strikes me as an impossibility. And besides, the books of the bible were determined by the church so you're views of Jesus are infleunced by the church there also.
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Jason210Commented:
SteveJ
Since you like quotes, here:

At least two different forms of Biblical exegesis exist. They are called Revealed and Rational exegesis. Revealed exegesis believes the Holy Spirit inspired the Biblical authors of the texts and therefore the words in the Bible convey God's divine revelation to man. Rational exegesis believes that the original writers of the Bible's books used their own creativity and inspiration (apart from God) to write what they did. In short, some study the Bible believing that God himself directly inspired its writers while others approach the Bible as a collection of stories, fables, myths, etc. brought to life through the creativity and imagination of man.
            (3rd Paragraph, defintion: Exergesis  - http://www.biblestudy.org/beginner/definition-of-christian-terms/exegesis.html)

One of the rules of exergesis states that words mean what they mean. Another is known as the "The Historical Principle" which means that as culture and knowledge change, we should not interpret scripture according to how our culture views things. As Callndor is always pointing out, to place scripture in its historical context. This is where confusion arises.

In those days, a demon was a demon, and an angel was an angel. I have no problem with that because that was THEIR reality at the time. However, not that in cases like revelation, the use of symbolic imagery seems clear and deliberate. I think there is a mixture.

However, this is basic Divinity course stuff. However, I'm sure that most divinity professors (at least in Europe) would go along with principles of one who I happen to know, who told me that once a student has prepared using traditional exergsis techniques, it's ok to supplement that knowledge with other insights, whether they be narrative, reader-response, or post-modernist. She said that they do not replace the traditional methods, but are used further to illuminate a text.

The question is, how far can one go? Many theologians, priests and pastors in the Chruch of England, for example, reject the virgin birth as a literal event, as well as other miracles, and the church has avoided calling them heretics. This is a sign that the modern day thinking is moving increasingly towards the non-literal. Of course this is not with criticism from other quarters.

You have people like this:

http://www.new-testament-christian.com/virgin-birth_.html

And people like this:

http://ecubishop.wordpress.com/2007/08/24/how-does-jesus-death-save-us/

As you can imagine, the latter is closer to my thinking, and I have no problem with these kind of pastors and bishops who think in this way. My only problem is with brainwashed fundamentalists.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
My only problem is with brainwashed fundamentalists.

Really?
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Sorry .  .  .  couldn't resist. One of my few problems is with being called a brainwashed fundamentalist just because I "believe" things that you think are wrong at best and stupid at worst.
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CallandorCommented:
Jason210,

I am glad you are willing to discuss your views, because it gives me more insight into your approach.  When you say "the Christian church who took parts from a text of dubious origin and touted it as the truth", what church was that?  As I understand it, Christians in many different locations had already accepted the gospels well before Athanasius formally drew up a list.  In addition, was Athanasius telling everyone what to believe, or was he declaring what everyone already believed?  Your approach sounds like a secret cabal of leaders decided what everyone was supposed to believe, but I would challange that as a provable fact.  In addition, when dealing with history, the people closer in time to the events are considered the more reliable sources.  How are those coming along nearly two thousand years later suddenly better able to decipher the writings?  Cults try to do this all the time, and it's no wonder they are rejected.  And if you want to consider evidence, has any archaelogical find contradicted what is written in the Bible?  That is where you will find me as a willing listener.

>Let's take your argument and apply it my example of the aircraft.

Your example doesn't address my point at all.  To come to a conclusion that a recorded event couldn't have happened, because science doesn't support it, is to assume 1) that you know all the facts 2) our current knowledge of science explains how the universe operates and 3) nothing can intervene in our physical world from an external source.  You are making science say more than it actually does, pitting it against the supernatural, which it doesn't.  This is what some extremists in the scientific community do, trying to say science disproves the existence of God.

>How anyone can grow up in a western Christian culture of the 60s & 70s, and claim to have been uninfluenced by the church of that culture strikes me as an impossibility.

There is a difference between just accepting what was taught and investigating things for yourself.  I don't know why you can't separate culture and individual study, because coming to the same conclusions as the church has for years does not mean all thinking has been left out.  When different groups of people study something objectively and come to the same conclusions, it actually might mean they arrived at the same meaning independently.

I actually have had a lot of exposure to people who have gone to Africa and Asia and who have related to me how churches were in those places.  The differences in culture are massive, but the teachings and doctrines are the same.  If all you saw were the churches in Europe today, you have a very skewed view of Christianity.  An examination of how many believe in Jesus and the rise of post-modernism in European churches would show an inverse relationship.  Christianity as one of many philosophies has little appeal to people in general, but  Christianity as a revelation of God's grace and his desire for a relationship is what drives the growth in churches around the world today.
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Jason210Commented:
Well, it wasn't aimed at anyone here that time, but on second thoughts those fundamentalists are not my only problem. On reading that first article, http://www.new-testament-christian.com/virgin-birth_.html, I have to confess there is logic in it. If one rejects the virgin birth as a mistake, then the Bible is no longer authoritive and falls down as a holy book decreed by God. Suddenly it's a man-book, with flaws and all. Well it's always been that to me anyway, as are all books.

The author also says that rejecting a literal virgin birth means that Jesus is no longer a deity, the son of God. But why does Jesus need to be born of a virgin in order to be the son of God? There is no rule about how deities are created.

Perhaps then, it is Christianity itself that I have a problem with. And yet, a lot of what Jesus said makes sense to me from a non-Christian perspective, which makes me not want to reject Jesus as an important spiritual leader.

The thing is with the virgin birth, it has too little mention in the bible, in my opinion, to be a major theme. It is only mentioned in Luke and Mathew, and both those books are based on Mark; yet there is not a mention of the virgin birth in Mark, which is odd I think. No where else in all those early books is it mentioned. I find it odd, and even odder that this became one of the central (if not the central doctrine) of Christianity at around 200 AD. But then again it's not odd if you consider that the Church at the time was stuggling to survive, and if it could show that Jesus was the son of God, and not a man, then that would be a big plus in its favour, along with all the other miracles.

And yet it appears to work on some. Orthodox Christianity does seem to have some kind of transforming effect on some people. I was looking at this image just now, and it made me wonder what the artist (icon painter Simon Ushakov) was trying to depict with all those halos. I think some kind of transformation of consciousness. I don't know what.

http://tars.rollins.edu/Foreign_Lang/Russian/uslast.jpg

Perhaps, considering there are two kinds of reality (see concurrent thread) the reality that is key in terms of spirituality is the subjective one. Christianity as it is  could then be consistent with science and all the worlds other religions. Again, I don't know, just speculating.








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Jason210Commented:
Callandor

That post above was to SteveJ.

Your example doesn't address my point at all.  To come to a conclusion that a recorded event couldn't have happened, because science doesn't support it, is to...
What do you mean recorded? For an event to qualify as recorded it has to be  more than than a mention a couple of ancient religious texts. Like in the Virgin birth example. The only reference for that is in Mathew and Luke - both later books, and both based on Mark which doesn't mention anything about a Virgin birth. Perhaps it was mentioned in "Q". Not even Paul the Apostle mentioned the Virgin Birth. It is not a "recorded" event. It is an anecdote. So the conclusion I come to is that an anecdote in the bible, that is unsupported by science, is unlikely. It's a reasonable conclusion, and that was all I wanted to try and show with my claim about the aircraft. I have understood your point all along, and have not been saying that the miracles that form the Christian doctrines could not have happened with absolute certainty. I have said that there is no scientific support or evidence for them, and a mention in the bible does not constitute evidence. While science would never go so far as to say they are impossible, miracles have no use nor place in our practical understanding and knowledge of the world. No Paleantolgist, anthropologist or other similar scientists would seriously consider Adam and Eve as a viable alternative to natural history. And how do you explain the inconsistencies with evolution, for example? How do you explain fossils?

I'll find another example instead of that aircraft one, since that example is clearly invented for the purposes of debate only (as is the Flying Spaghetti Monster). Let's take something with more substance, for example, Unicorns. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence on these since medieval time, but no hard evidence.  Similarly mermaids. We all know what they are, and information on these goes back thousands of years, but where's the evidence?

Why do we have mermaids and unicorns? Because we want to believe in them. Because they have symbolic significance.




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Jason210Commented:
When I say unlikely, the aircraft example was meant to illustrate the level of improbability we are dealing with.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
<<The author also says that rejecting a literal virgin birth means that Jesus is no longer a deity, the son of God. But why does Jesus need to be born of a virgin in order to be the son of God? There is no rule about how deities are created.>>

It seems odd that in your research / study you've not come across the obvious reason and widely accepted explanation for that. By the way, who would have made the "rule" regarding creation of dieties? Man?

My own belief based on studying the bible? We are all adopted children of God. If Jesus had been fathered by man, then he too would be an "adopted" son.

You are correct about the rare mention of the virgin birth in the bible to the extent that it is . . . rarely mentioned. But frequency of mention isn't always an indication of overall importance. If that was true, then you could have pointed out that money is one of the things most often referenced in the bible.

SteveJ
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sbdt8631Commented:
>>My own belief based on studying the bible? We are all adopted children of God. If Jesus had been fathered by man, then he too would be an "adopted" son.

I don't get that.  Does God's blood run in Jesus's veins? Does he have God's DNA?
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Jason210Commented:
SteveJ
My own belief based on studying the bible? We are all adopted children of God. If Jesus had been fathered by man, then he too would be an "adopted" son.
Perhaps we are all sons of God, but unlike Jesus, we don't know it?


Gentile cultures of the time abounded in stories of divine incarnation such as in the Greek myth of Perseus born of the virgin Danae, conceived by the God Zeus in a shower of gold. Then you have Dionysius born of the virgin Semele, this time impregnated with a bolt of lightning (also zeus). Such myths abound in the popular culture of the time. It would hardly be surprising that that Christianity, which wanted to attract converts would eventually be imbued with the idea. Such converts perhaps would naturally carry the mythological elements from their previous beliefs.


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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Does God's blood run in Jesus' veins?

Beats the crap of me.

Does he have God's DNA?

Sure beats the heck out of me.

I'll give you this, sbdt8632. It makes sense to me when I read and pray about it .  .  . but you and a stink load of others on this forum are pretty good at making things I believe sound dumber than hell.  .  . which I can only assume that's what you are trying to do. Or would you have me believe that you think there's true spiritual relevance in your question?

Or maybe you are just joking and if we were having a beer together and you said that I would say "har! Good one."

Steve
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Endless speculation seems pointless and if there were a billion or so people who still believed in zeus then I might consider your statement thoughtful instead of just argumentative speculation.

No offense jason210 but it shouldn't be a surprise to you that I don't buy what you are selling any more than you buy what I'm selling. It's been said over and over and over on this post alone that you either believe in supernatural events or you don't. If anything your ceaseless insistence that your understanding of Christ, the church,the bible and God is "right" because you have the full faith and backing of science is a non sequatur.

Steve
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
"Perhaps we are all sons of God, but unlike Jesus, we don't know it?"

Holy crap. Find something you believe, tell me about it and then let me tell you (somewhat diplomatically) what a cretin you are for believing it.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Lemme restate that. I have no idea if you are married jason210, but assume you are. So you tell me you love your wife. The fact is you cannot prove it scientifically. Everything you could possibly claim as  proof of love has another possibility including some which would actually be the opposite of love, a self-serving act. So if you believe you love your wife, do you think there is anything I could say to you that would make you slap your forehead and say "Dang. You are right . I DON'T love my wife."
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CallandorCommented:
>But why does Jesus need to be born of a virgin in order to be the son of God?

Regarding the virgin birth, I had already explained the theological ramifications of it in http:#a36101581.  R. Albert Mohler Jr gives a full explanation in terms of the shift liberal theologians have taken, and basically, Jason210, you understood his article correctly - no virgin birth, no claim to deity.  You could have read http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aiia/virginbirth.html to get answers to your questions about the virgin birth.

>While science would never go so far as to say they are impossible, miracles have no use nor place in our practical understanding and knowledge of the world.

There's nothing wrong with saying that certain events have a very low probability of happening normally, and people make life decisions based on this low probabilty.  That is not to say one excludes an extremely improbable event to the extent of calling it impossible - such events can and do happen.  I think you are going too far in that direction when you say "miracles have no use nor place in our practical understanding and knowledge of the world" - doctors know the limit of their abilities, and they also recognize when someone who should have died does not and recovers fully.  We may disagree on what level of probability defines a miracle, but they happen.
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Jason210Commented:
I understood the theological reasoning behind the idea of the Virgin Birth, just don't agree with it. I don't agree that the Virgin Birth it is an axiom for divine nature. The virgin birth of Jesus was not discussed during Jesus's time, but appeared in a late text (Luke) and was made into a central Christian doctrine by the Christian church. As I pointed out earlier this would be advantageous in helping Christianity to establish its authority.

The interesting thing is that no-one who was close to Jesus mentioned the virgin birth. Surely, if it were historically true, it would have had a greater impact. James, Jesus's brother, would have known about it, and Peter would have known about it, and therefore it would have found it's way into earlier texts such as Mark. But Mark makes no mention of it. Paul, the missionary who basically defined Christianity, makes no mention of it. Now that is very odd.

In Matthew and Luke, the mention strikes me as the application of a myth which was popular at the time. I'm not saying its a lie or a deliberate attempt to mislead since Mathhew and Luke contained other sources also, including oral tradition. The idea could have crept in innocently enough.

There's nothing wrong with saying that certain events have a very low probability of happening normally, and people make life decisions based on this low probabilty.  That is not to say one excludes an extremely improbable event to the extent of calling it impossible - such events can and do happen.  I think you are going too far in that direction when you say "miracles have no use nor place in our practical understanding and knowledge of the world" - doctors know the limit of their abilities, and they also recognize when someone who should have died does not and recovers fully.  We may disagree on what level of probability defines a miracle, but they happen.
And your evidence? Show me some evidence. You can't because there isn't any. If there were we'd all know about it. If miracles occured they would have been documented, but no miracles has been documented. There may be small events that happen in areas not fully understood by science such as with the human brain and body where a so called "miracle recovery" can occur, but all that really means an unexplained event in a complex and not yet understood system.

Such miracles are clearly different to the supernatural events described in the bible, and which I have been talking about all along. The ones that are claimed to in physical reality and yet are incosnsitent with phsyics. Turning water into wine, walking on water, resurrection, virgin birth, etc.

Let's look at the evidence for the virgin birth, we could weigh up for and against:

FOR the Virgin Birth:
1. It is mentioned in Luke
2. It is alluded to in Matthew.
3. Mathew and Luke are partially based on oral tradition, which could be the source of this information.
4. From about 200 onwards, the Christian chuch decided that it was central to Christianity.

AGAINST the virgin birth
1. It is inconsistent with science
2. It is not mentioned in any other books, including Mark which is the in part the basis of Mathew and Luke, which suggests that those close to Jesus were not aware of it, including Jesus's brother.
3. The mention in Luke is vaguer than in Mathew:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was
like this; for after his mother,
Mary, was engaged to Joseph,
before they came together, she was
found pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
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Jason210Commented:
^^ I pressed the submit button by mistake

Anyway, about Mathew, it's not muich to go on and even if it were true, could be dismissed with an explanation that she had been made pregnat by someone else.

4. Gentile cultures of the time abounded in stories of immaculate conception such as in the Greek myth of Perseus, Dionysius etc. There is a likihood that Christianity would itself be imbued with such mythological elements. Christians looking to provide conclusive vindication of their faith in the divine nature of Jesus, would naturally turn to the signs that were accepted in the culture as proofs of divinity.

5. Mark 3.21 tells us that when Jesus started preaching his family went to call him back because they thought he was "out of his mind". This including his mother, MAry. Now why would she think her son "out of his mind" when she had been a knowing party to the first miracle in the messiah's life?

The same argument can be applied to those people who Jesus grew up with, whom one would also expect to have knowledge of his special birth. What did they do? According to Mark they initially rejected his teachings.

**************************
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Jason210Commented:
One more thing. In the Old Testament with have Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+7%3A14&version=NIV

Mathew makes use of this prophecy in 1: 22-23

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mathew%201:%2022-23&version=NIV

However, if you look at the footnotes for the bible gateway link regarding 7:14, it says "or young woman". Further investigation of this shows that the original Greek Septuagint that would have been available to the author of Mathew had the same mistranlation from Hebrew. In Greek, the word was "parthenos" which means virgin. In the original hebrew word was "almah" which means young woman. Hence the footnote in Bible gateway.

Mathew's prophcecy was based on a mistranlation of a word. Other Christians at the time would also have heard about this prophecy, with the mistranslation! Again, given that at the time there was a popular belief that divine personalities were born of virgins, one can see how easy it would have been for Christianity to become imbued with the virgin birth idea.
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sbdt8631Commented:
>>but you and a stink load of others on this forum are pretty good at making things I believe sound dumber than hell

I in no way implied anything you believe is dumb.  I am merely trying to point out that attemts to rationalize your beliefs are futile.  They can't be rationally explained.
Either you belive or you don't.  
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Fair enough, sbdt8631. So spiritual beliefs are unreasonable?

SteveJ
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Wait a.minute, sbdt8631 .  .  . What was your intent when you asked if Gods blood was in Jesus veins or if Jesus had gods DNA? Wasn't it your intent to illustrate hat the notion of virgin birth was irrational by asking a sarcastic,rhetorical question?
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sbdt8631Commented:
You characterized man as the adopted children of God and implied that Jesus was the real son of God by saying that if he was fathered by a man then he would also be adopted.  "Real" children carry some of the DNA of their parents, and therefore I questioned whether Jesus carried God's DNA.
Yes, in my opinion, I think the idea that God fathered a child by a virgin birth is irrational, and maybe I was somewhat sarcastic.  You freely admit to being sarcastic on occasion yourself.  But I meant no offense.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and we are not likely to agree much of the time.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
So you are basically saying that the question "does God have DNA?" is a  legitimate question.

When I am sarcastic, am I calling a core belief of yours into question? No, I am generally calling the way you've framed a question or a statement you've made dopey. We are all capable of making dopey statements. But I happen to think calling someone's statement dopey is different from calling someone's core belief dopey.

SteveJ
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
So you are basically saying that the question "does God have DNA?" is a  legitimate question.

When I am sarcastic, am I calling a core belief of yours into question? No, I am generally calling the way you've framed a question or a statement you've made dopey. We are all capable of making dopey statements. But I happen to think calling someone's statement dopey is different from calling someone's core belief dopey.

SteveJ
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CallandorCommented:
>The virgin birth of Jesus was not discussed during Jesus's time, but appeared in a late text (Luke) and was made into a central Christian doctrine by the Christian church.

The virgin birth doesn’t get a lot of press for a couple of good reasons: even Joseph was following the scientific approach and knew that when people saw a pregnant Mary before they were married, they would conclude that she got pregnant out of wedlock.  Joseph wanted to back out of the marriage (“divorce her quietly” – Matt 1:19), but God intervened with an angel.  He probably did not want to push the miraculous birth publically, because he would have been made a laughing stock and Mary would have been treated badly by the community.  As it was, Jesus performed miracles many years later and still was not believed by many.  You see a hint that the people knew that Jesus was not Joseph’s son in the exchange in John 8:39-41

"Abraham is our father," they answered. "If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did.  As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.  You are doing the things your own father does." "We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself."

There is an obvious dig at Jesus, calling him an illegitimate child (which the leaders loudly proclaimed no one could accuse them of).

Another reason for the scarce references to the virgin birth is that the gospel writers wrote from the perspective of witnesses to the events or referred to things which were widely known:

“1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.   Luke 1:1-4 (NIV)”

There were few witnesses to the virgin birth, and Mary herself may not have told others of it, so it is not surprising that not much is written of it.  However, the ramifications of the virgin birth – Jesus being fully God and fully man – are mentioned in numerous places:

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, Col 2:9 (NIV)

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
Phil 2:5-8 (NIV)

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil
Heb 2:14 (NIV)

> There may be small events that happen in areas not fully understood by science such as with the human brain and body where a so called "miracle recovery" can occur, but all that really means an unexplained event in a complex and not yet understood system.

This sounds like a leap of faith on your part, declaring that the cause can be known, and yet you have no way to prove that.  You are making the assumption that it eventually will be known.  I will use your reasoning now – where’s the evidence?

Also, to be clear, some supernatural events are evident today - for example, the possession of people by demons.  There are not that many examples in the western world today, but the practice of some in Africa and Asia have opened them up to demonic possession.  You would not want to be around such a person, as your life span may be shortened drastically.  Jesus healed one who had a legion of demons in him, and who broke chains that were used to bind him.

>AGAINST the virgin birth

1. Technically, virgin births can happen – it’s called parthenogenesis.
2. I have already cited John as declaring that the leaders knew something was unusual about his birth.  Unless Joseph and Mary were willing to talk about it, the details would not be known.
3. Yes, she could have been pregnant by someone else, but then Jesus spent his life declaring that he was God’s son.  What does that say about Jesus?
4. Forget about Gentile cultures – Jesus was born in Israel in a Jewish culture, and Jews took pains to stay away from Gentiles.  Paul even had a fight with Peter about not eating with the Gentiles.  You can’t look with today’s eyes at a situation which began in a Jewish community.  The whole Old Testament is filled with prophecies of the Messiah, and Jesus acknowledged that he was the fulfillment of those prophecies.  The early church in Jerusalem continued to meet in the Temple and in synagogues.
5.  It’s called lack of faith – it happens to people who see miracles first hand, too.  How many of the people of Israel made it to the end of the Exodus, after witnessing God’s miracles first-hand for days on end?  2 out of 600,000.  Why do you think miracles would make people behave differently?

>However, if you look at the footnotes for the bible gateway link regarding 7:14, it says "or young woman".

Note that “or” does not mean it can only mean one thing.  The word can be translated virgin or young woman, but it does not exclude virgin, contrary to your conclusion.  This word study suggests that the common meaning of "almah" is a young woman who is sexually mature.  Since the speaker addresses the house of David, this prophecy is not merely for Ahaz, but reiterates the promise of a king according to the line of David – the Messiah.

> Again, given that at the time there was a popular belief that divine personalities were born of virgins, one can see how easy it would have been for Christianity to become imbued with the virgin birth idea.

Again, you are dragging Gentile beliefs into a primarily Jewish faith.  This is the reason why certain books were discarded – they had nothing to do with the Jesus they knew and believed in.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Callandor,

Thank you for taking the time to post those comments. But I have become convinced that part of the angst that work its way into these posts comes not so much a lack of belief in miracles but not believing in love. It's easy to say that if it can't be explained scientifically then it cannot be, and there's been plenty of that on this post. It's harder to say that there's no such thing as love. Jason210 ignored my challenge to prove that he loves his wife because he knows that's not possible. Or perhaps he isn't married. My point was that if you can't believe in miracles then you are forced to explain love in terms of pure biology which would mean that love is a physical condition like exuma or athletes foot.

I don't think so.

SteveJ
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Jason210Commented:
SteveJ

Jason210 ignored my challenge to prove that he loves his wife because he knows that's not possible. Or perhaps he isn't married. My point was that if you can't believe in miracles then you are forced to explain love in terms of pure biology which would mean that love is a physical condition like exuma or athletes foot.
I understand the point you are trying to make but you do not seem to understand my point. I am not trying to explain spirituality, or whatever transformations of consciousness you may experience subjectively as result of believing in something. I am saying the things that you believe in didn't happen as empirical events. They didn't happen as historical events, witnessed by all. They didn't happen literally.

Callandor
I remain unconvinced by your counter arguments of the Virgin birth. Sounds to me like you are clutching at straws. The physical world obeys laws and those laws are not transgressed. There is no evidence of this happening - ever. The story in the bible is not evidence.

This sounds like a leap of faith on your part, declaring that the cause can be known, and yet you have no way to prove that.  You are making the assumption that it eventually will be known.  I will use your reasoning now – where’s the evidence?
Throughout history it has been the case. Events that were not understood were assigned to supernatural forces. Thunder, volcanoes, disease etc. Eventually, these things came to be understood in spite of religion. Now we know that there are no macroscopic events that are uncaused, or unexplainable. The physical world obeys laws and those laws are not transgressed. There is no evidence of the laws being broken. None what-so-ever.

I use the word macroscopic before because on a sub atomic level we do have the quantum world which some argue cannot be completely understood. If you want to put your God somewhere then you can put him there.




                                   
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Jason210, I think I understand what you are getting at and I think perhaps we may not be so far apart as I first thought. You say "they didn't happen" and if you were to say "from what I know about the physical world there's no explanation given that understanding which can provide evidence to support that they happened" then I wouldn't argue that point. Maybe you don't mean to imply when you say "they didn't happen" that the current knowledge of the physical world is at its zenith. I suspect as much when you concede the point about quantum events where we basically invent branches of math and physics to force fit our observations so they will "make sense". To your last point, perhaps God is that entity for which Heisenberg's uncertainty principle doesn't apply.

He's your God, too, by the way. You just don't yet understand.

SteveJ
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Jason210Commented:
I have always gone along with the philosophy that we cannot be certain of anything...as Descartes pointed out. His philosophy means there is no such things as facts, yet we talk about facts all the time. We don't need to remind everyone all the time that facts are not absolute because for practical purpose, they behave as if they are. For example, if I explained an obvious fact like glacial action, I do not need to frame my explanation with the disclaimer that it might not be a fact at all because Descartes said that said that we can't be certain of anything. Outside the philosophy class it would be waste of time and words to do so. So when I say miracles didn't happen and the story of the virgin birth is not evidence, I do so in this spirit of expedience.

Ron Hubbard claimed that we are possessed by the lost souls of aliens who were brought to earth in spaceships that looked like old DC-8's, and who were subsequently taken in groups up volancoes and tied up to be destroyed when they erupted. I'm talking about the Scientology religion, which has many followers who appear to benefit from the religion. John Travolta, for example. He seems a bright, positive person, intelligent, gifted and successful. Should I therefore consider him, and the text of Hubbard, as evidence that we are possessed by the ghosts of aliens brought here on old DC-8s? Philosophically speaking, Hubbard's claim is just as valid as Matthew and Luke's claim about the virgin birth.

It's much easier say, we are not possessed by the ghosts of aliens brought here on DC-8 spaceships. It would be odd if I said, from what I know about the physical world there's no explanation given that understanding which can provide evidence to support that we are possessed by the ghosts of aliens brought here on DC-8 spaceships.

It was Einstein who believed we could understand everything, and "know the mind of God", but it was Bohr who said that it was meaningless to talk about any underlying reality in an atom. He said that by measuring an electron we define the way it manifests to us. He said that is all there is. It is known as the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum theory, and it dominated the world of physics for more than half-a-century, but Shrodingers Cat thought experiment made that theory look absurd, by showing that a spontaneous quantum event cannot extend to the macroscopic world.



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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Ok, you're saying theres no equivocation in your remarks, so be it.

But i think youve mafe a flawed argument: JT seems intelligent yet appears to believe something for which there are no rational grounds for belief. Therfore there must be legitimacy to anything expressed by someone who otherwise appears intelligent?

Of course not. There are both brilliant and stupid Christains, brilliant and stupid agnostics, brilliant and stupid athiests .  .  . And so on with islam etc. But its a stretch even for you to put L Ron Hubbard and scientology on the same footing as Jesus and Christiaity.

That an argument can or cannot withstand the test of time says nothing about the argument, but something about the lack of understanding of eternity.



Steve
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Jason210Commented:
From a philosophical point of view, there is no difference between claiming that the Virgin Birth is literally real, and claiming that we are literally possessed by the dead souls of aliens. Everything rests on what you believe. If you believe in the divine authority of the Bible, then you're going to reject other religious texts, including Hubbard. I believe that all these religions have something in them, and more importantly, the very act of believing in something outside yourself has some kind of power of transforming consciousness.

The reason I like science is that it is a standard way of accumulating empirical knowledge, and it is objective in that sense that this knowledge can be verified by others. Science is actually just a formalised extension of what we do naturally when we solve problems and acquire knowledge on a daily basis, as we have done for thousands of years. This is the mind and senses in action, and these are the only things that can be trusted. I am not saying they are infallible, but, if there is a tree in front of you, and you are walking next to someone, they will also see the tree. I appreciate that this objective world is limited - but at least we can all agree on the limited data it provides. This objective world is my starting point. It is as it is. God, if exists, is here in this world as it is, evolution and all. I believe it is out spiritual goal to discover what this means - and this cannot be done empirically. It must be an inner experience, some kind of realisation, of seeing. However, I think that such transformations of consciousness are only a beginning of a spiritual journey. Many people take the dawn for the day and stop there. I think certain religions leave you there also, or at least don't encourage you to go on. Perhaps this is true of Dianetics and Hubbard. Perhaps here is some good, but it fails after a certain point.

The reason I get upset with fundamentalist views is that such views fall on deaf ears in this day and age. For example, on You Tube, if anyone brings up the subject of Jesus or God, they are immediately labelled idiots and there then follows a barrage of comments that the Bible is an invention, a story. There are references to the flying spaghetti moster and so on. It's these Christian doctrines, and people who insist that they are literally true that drive people away from the teachings of Jesus. You don't for example, here the same criticisms levelled towards Bhudda. Christianity is not growing, despite what people say. The world population is growing, and you can label portions of that population as Christian because that is the official religion, or because people associate themselves with the religion through surveys and so on, but it does not mean that every member of that population is a practising, believing Christian. For example, I am registered as a Christian. I see no reason to change it because it has done me no harm, and it's not important to me either to be seen as a Christian or as a non-Christian.



























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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
"From a philosophical point of view . . ."

I have a problem with the notion of "that which cannot be explained with current knowledge (science, empirical data) cannot have happened." And I'm not saying that you don't have a problem with that notion. And I have a problem with the notion of 'those things which cannot be explained with current knowledge (science, empirical evidence) are miracles" perhaps because of what the term "miracle" connotes. In the 1500s, by those definitions, a whole boat load of stuff which now plainly exist would have been called miracles.

Yes, we've not witnessed a virgin birth (at least I don't think so, seems like Callandor mentioned something earlier in this post or another) but we've not witnessed the earth crashing into the sun nor have we witnessed a table suddenly leaping into the air, though physics tells us both of these things are possible (if not statistically highly improbable).

I understand the pragmatic position you hold with regard to current state . . . I'm just baffled about your seeming unwillingness to understand my position that just because no current knowledge can explain something doesn't mean it can't have happened.
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Jason210Commented:
I have a problem with the notion of "that which cannot be explained with current knowledge (science, empirical data) cannot have happened"
Which is why I always acknowledge the possibility - but it is never more than an acknowledgement for me, reserved for philosophical discussions like this. It could have happened, but there is not enough eveidence to convince me  that it did. Such an event is inconsistent with everything I know.

We've not witnessed the earth crashing into the sun nor have we witnessed a table suddenly leaping into the air, though physics tells us both of these things are possible (if not statistically highly improbable).
Exactly - we haven't witnessed those things. According to physics, such things would only be possible if a force acted upon those objects. It would be hard to conceive of such a force, since nothing like it has made itself evident during hundreds of years of empirical observations.

To my mind, if we have any chance of knowing reality, or truth, then we must put aside beliefs and look at the universe as it manifests to us. If we beliefs to taint our view, such as the idea that Jesus was somehow a supernatural being, then in my view we have placed an articial barrier to God in our minds. We have made Jesus aloof, unreachable. However, if we consider Jesus to be a, which is consistent with our scientific knowledge, then the only difference between him and us would be his direct experience of God, his God-consciousness. It would mean that we also have chance to experience God directly. This idea is compatibe with Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta of Hinduism, the only difference being the terminology used. In Buddhsim they talk of Nirvana and the stateless state; in Advaita "the supreme state". In Christianity, the Jesus operates more as an obstacle to this than anything else.

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Jason210Commented:
That last paragarph had errors in it, so here it is corrected:

To my mind, if we are to have any chance of knowing reality, or truth, then we must put aside beliefs and look at the universe as it manifests to us. If we allow beliefs to taint our view, such as the idea that Jesus was somehow a supernatural being, then in my view we have placed an articial barrier to God in our minds. We have made Jesus aloof, unreachable. However, if we consider Jesus to be a man, which is consistent with our scientific knowledge, then the only difference between him and us would be his direct experience of God, his God-consciousness. It would mean that we also have chance to experience God directly. This idea is compatible with Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta of Hinduism, the only difference being the terminology used. In Buddhsim they talk of Nirvana and the stateless state; in Advaita "the supreme state". In Christianity, the Jesus operates more as an obstacle to this than anything else.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
<<If we allow beliefs to taint our view, such as the idea that Jesus was somehow a supernatural being, then in my view we have placed an articial barrier to God in our minds. We have made Jesus aloof, unreachable. >>

This statement seems to answer "yes" to the question posed, because you are interpreting the bible to say that the best way to spread the word is to un-deify Jesus, and thereby make him accessible to people who don't believe what most Christians believe. When you do that, you make Jesus unreachable to existing Christians if in fact they "bought" Jesus not being God. I'm not saying that's a bad thing necessarily, that is, reaching more people. Practically, it would be a very good thing if more people followed Jesus and his teachings, but by Christian measure, good behavior won't keep you out of hell and it would miss a main point of the bible.

<<It would mean that we also have chance to experience God directly.>>

Hmmm . . . not following. I believe I experience God practically directly every day.

<<This idea is compatible with Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta of Hinduism, the only difference being the terminology used. In Buddhsim they talk of Nirvana and the stateless state; in Advaita "the supreme state". In Christianity, the Jesus operates more as an obstacle to this than anything else.>>

You seem to want to re-write the bible. All "religions" except Christianity in some form or fashion say you can act or behave or do things in a certain way to get to "the supreme state". Christianity is very clear that good acts don't bring home the bacon. That's the whole point, an that's why some Christians get cranky when Christianity is called a "religion". Yes, I understand the general meaning of the term, but Christianity is clear in the position that "good works" won't earn you a place in heaven. "Obey these laws and you will get to heaven" is antithetical to Christian belief.

RIght now, I "believe" in nuclear power. And I have faith that someday we will figure out how to deal with nuclear waste safely other than by sweeping it under the rug. Currently, there are no scientific answers to this question. It would seem to me that your position on the question of nuclear waste would be "can't happen" because science doesn't currently have an answer. Clearly, I am saying that I have faith in science, to some degree . . . more specifically, I have faith in the gift god gave to man -- an ability to reason -- to solve this problem.

RE: earth crashing into sun . . . sun depletes fuel, enters "red giant" phase, consumes earth ( a predicted eventuality)
RE: table leaping into air . . . every molecular, atomic, subatomic entity moves in the same direction at the same time (a possibility, though as I said statistically highly improbable)

Neither of these require an external force, so I'm not sure what your point was. Explain, please.

Steve
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Good grief. " . . . directly practically every day."
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Jason210Commented:
You seem to want to re-write the bible. All "religions" except Christianity in some form or fashion say you can act or behave or do things in a certain way to get to "the supreme state". Christianity is very clear that good acts don't bring home the bacon.
How can anyone re-write the bible? All I am doing is I'm rejecting the authority of the church who forced those doctrines on us. I reject those. Jesus never sat down and said these are the Christian doctrines, did he? They were invented by people who came along after, such as Paul, who claimed to know what he was on about, and were no doubt influence by other motives. Revelation, for example, was written by a Greek exile who was warning about a new cult developing in the roman empire. Yet there it is in the bible, parading as some kind of vision of the end of the world.

And those other two religions I mentioned either are not about doing good acts either.

RIght now, I "believe" in nuclear power. And I have faith that someday we will figure out how to deal with nuclear waste safely other than by sweeping it under the rug. Currently, there are no scientific answers to this question. It would seem to me that your position on the question of nuclear waste would be "can't happen" because science doesn't currently have an answer.
Well, you'd be wrong. I do not operate from the logic "if it can't be done now, it can't ever be done" but rather from logic that alleged empirical events that are inconsistent with science and have no evidence that they occur and have ever occurred are highly unlikely to be true. Science is about problem solving. Fitting a model to observations. There are no observations being made about the miraculous claims in the bible, so they are not seen as problems of science. When you say you believe the problems of nuclear power will be solved, that's hardly the same as saying "I believe in the supernatural events of the bible" is it?  

I would let this all go if you simply said, I believe in very unlikely things, but you don't. Both you and Callandor insist on giving miracles the same status as scientific facts and theories. This is what was happening with creationism, when intelligent design was subsequently claimed to be a new scientific theory. I hate that sort of thing, and to be honest it makes America look stupid. I don't mean to be rude, but the perceived American mentality on these issues is not held in high regard in Europe.

As a side note, I hope that some day that we crack the nuclear fusion problem, and get rid of fission reactors altogether. I do not believe there is a satisifactory solution to the disposal of fission waste. Some of the isotopes have half-lives of thousands of years, which in effect means they'll be radioactive forever. It means we'll have to poison areas of our planet permanently. Also, there are no containers that we can yet conceive of that can withstand that amount of time. We are leaving behind a legacy of poison. I believe that we should get rid of nuclear power, and fossil fuels power, and just have wind and hydropower. If that doesn't produce enough electricity for us then we'll have to change our lifestyle and use less. The problem is that most of our cultures are based on the enormous consumption of electricity. We waste it.  Look at Las Vegas -- what a waste of place. The whole city should be closed down and recycled in my opinion, and hoover dam's electricity directed to more worthy recipients. Las Vegas is an affront to the planet.





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sbdt8631Commented:
>> I don't mean to be rude, but the perceived American mentality on these issues is not held in high regard in Europe.

Teaching creationism and intelligent design in school is not held in high regard in most areas on this side of the pond as well.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
This seems to have turned into a rant, and a rather illogical one at that.

<<I hate that sort of thing, and to be honest it makes America look stupid. I don't mean to be rude, but the perceived American mentality on these issues is not held in high regard in Europe.>>

Yes, and we here in America we plan our day around what Europe thinks. Socialism, incessant strikes and crappy economies are our target. Abandoned churches, outright disregard for Christian belief. We're moving that way as fast as we can, obviously.

<<Look at Las Vegas -- what a waste of place. The whole city should be closed down and recycled in my opinion, and hoover dam's electricity directed to more worthy recipients. Las Vegas is an affront to the planet.>>

Las Vegas. Here in America we take pride in being the only folks on the planet to waste energy. Ever been to Hong Kong? Tokyo? Rio? Paris? Perhaps "City of LIghts" shouldn't be Paris' other name? Fountains of Rome . . . fill 'em with cement?

Holy cow, Jason210.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
<<All I am doing is I'm rejecting the authority of the church who forced those doctrines on us. I reject those. Jesus never sat down and said these are the Christian doctrines, did he? They were invented by people who came along after, such as Paul, who claimed to know what he was on about, and were no doubt influence by other motives. Revelation, for example, was written by a Greek exile who was warning about a new cult developing in the roman empire. Yet there it is in the bible, parading as some kind of vision of the end of the world.>>

Thanks for your opinion on this Jason210. Rejecting authority. Invented. Warnings of a cult. You have convinced me that you have an intellectual block to accepting Christ. But it isn't about intellect.

Have some fun with that last sentence. It's a softball.

Steve
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Jason210Commented:
Perhaps it isn't about intellect for some, but for me and many others I find it "intellectually" impossible to accept the bible at face value, and any of the doctrines of the Christian church.

Yes, and we here in America we plan our day around what Europe thinks. Socialism, incessant strikes and crappy economies are our target. Abandoned churches, outright disregard for Christian belief. We're moving that way as fast as we can, obviously.
You think socialism is a bad thing? Evidently many Americans do. You know, the real reason about you have a debt crisis right now in the USA because your business community & finance sector have deliberately created it.  There is no debt ceiling crisis - USA has no problem at all in meeting its deficits. It's all a charade gernerated by your own business community. The reason? So they can cut back on the social welfare system. And this, the country that is supposed to be the last bastion of Christianity.

Oh and Obama? Well, he's relying on campaign contributions from the business community to finance his re-election campaign.
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Jason210Commented:
Goat of Mendes
Read this.
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Jason210Commented:
That image, above is a pure fabrication by your Christian church. It does not even require a metaphorical interpretation.

http://www.twistedtree.org.uk/baphomet.htm
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
<<Perhaps it isn't about intellect for some, but for me and many others I find it "intellectually" impossible to accept the bible at face value, and any of the doctrines of the Christian church. >>

I think we are pretty far off track . . .I have not argued that the only legitimate interpretation of the bible was literal . . .perhaps your comment was intended for a straw man. But I don't back away from some things being literal such as the virgin birth and the resurrection.

I can't make grammatical sense of "pure fabrication" by my Christian church. I am familiar with some of the bizarre depictions in Revelations and other scripture. It's easy to mock, you've proven that. So I'm not sure what your point is in showing that illustration. How about Jesus with a flaming tongue coming out of the clouds? That's pretty insane, right?

About your "rude" comment which I didn't really find rude at all because it was such an infantile generalization . . . there's a scene from a movie called "The Bedford Incident", a 60s cold war movie, where the capain says to the exec after flaming a young officer "You know, it's not easy being a mean bastard" and the exec says "Hmmm . . . though I can't help but notice how effortlessly you do it, almost as if it came naturally."

Steve
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
By the way, the comment about nuclear power wasn't intended to spur a debate about energy consumption. My point was to assert that when we resolve the issue of safely and effectively dealing with nuclear waste it will not seem as though a miracle has occurred because it will have in your view been solved by science. Right now, though, in the absence of a solution it would seem that only a miracle could resolve the dilemma presented by virtually unlimited power producing extraordinarily harmful waste.

<<You think socialism is a bad thing? Evidently many Americans do. You know, the real reason about you have a debt crisis right now in the USA because your business community & finance sector have deliberately created it.  There is no debt ceiling crisis - USA has no problem at all in meeting its deficits. It's all a charade gernerated by your own business community. The reason? So they can cut back on the social welfare system. And this, the country that is supposed to be the last bastion of Christianity.>>

It's hard to take you seriously when you say something like this, and I don't intend that in a mean spirited way. I apparently struck a nerve. No, socialism is not a bad thing, in the same sense that iron is not a bad thing, and rabbit fur is not a bad thing, and water is not a bad thing. However, socialism is every bit as susceptible to corruption and waste and fraud as democracy or capitalism or any form of government. Where has socialism worked? It hasn't.

Regarding the rest of your rant on the US economy: yes, you are quite right . . . we, the USA, are unique in having self-serving politicians, greedy corrupt businessmen, and a government brought to a virtual stand-still by special interest and lobbies. No other country on the planet faces these problems. We cry to God that we could become a UK, or a France or a Greece or a Spain or Italy or any country in South America, Africa or Asia. . .  What the heck is it with *some* Europeans and their inexplicable hatred of the USA? If we saved your butt in yet another war, would you nuke us in retaliation?

Sorry . . . lost my head . . . forget the last couple of sentences.

Steve
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CallandorCommented:
For someone who professes loudly in the merits of science, Jason210 sure throws a lot of fiction and make-believe around.  When did I say I supported Creationism?  Does the belief in miracles imply that?  Or was that an example of lumping me in with whatever imagined "evil" people there are in the U.S.?  And what did that posted picture have to do any representative belief of Christianity?  I've never read such rambling pieces in my life.
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Jason210Commented:
When did I say I supported Creationism?  Does the belief in miracles imply that?  Or was that an example of lumping me in with whatever imagined "evil" people there are in the U.S.?  And what did that posted picture have to do any representative belief of Christianity?  I've never read such rambling pieces in my life.
I didn't say people in the US were evil, but can you explian why, as the richest country in the world, your country doesn't even have a decent welfare system? And why, right now your business and financial sectors have worked to this debt ceiling crisis fiasco in order to lobby for more welfare cuts? I don't particualrly care what the USA does in the USA, but when SteveJ who purports to be a Christian critcises socialism it just pisses me off because Jesus was clearly socialist in his teachings.

Mark 10:21
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22 At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
http://bible.cc/mark/10-21.htm

I realise it's not good to criticise someone elses country. There's a lot of things I can say about the UK also, and I do, given the chance.  

Callandor. If you simply said, I believe in very unlikely things, it would be ok, but every time this comes up, you justify your belief in literal realsism of miracles by resorting to the argument that science cannot disprove it happened. So what you are doing is giving something scientific status which should not have scientific status. This is what was happening in the schools when they wanted to add creationism to the curriculum in the USA.

And what did that posted picture have to do any representative belief of Christianity?
Well, SSTory would go along with it and since you believein supernatural entities then I would not be surprised if you harboured similar images of devils and demons in your mind.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
<<I didn't say people in the US were evil, but can you explian why, as the richest country in the world, your country doesn't even have a decent welfare system? And why, right now your business and financial sectors have worked to this debt ceiling crisis fiasco in order to lobby for more welfare cuts? I don't particualrly care what the USA does in the USA, but when SteveJ who purports to be a Christian critcises socialism it just pisses me off because Jesus was clearly socialist in his teachings.>>

You must be kidding . . . Jesus didn't give a rat's rear end about government, except that we need to be obedient to government within reason. "Give to Caesar what is Caesars . . ." And to suggest that Jesus supported the notion of government controlled distribution of wealth is perhaps the most twisted interpretation of Christ's teachings I've ever heard. Giving should be from the heart, not from government imposed centralized redistribution programs, even in the form of welfare. Ineffective, fraud encrusted, addict creating "welfare" programs are an insult and they are rampant here and in Europe as well. Politicians in the USA and throughout the world prostitute themselves for votes using "social" programs and "welfare" to coax votes from idiots. Are you so naive that you don't see that?

Now, point out where I criticized socialism. You can't because I didn't. You seem predisposed to conjure up evidence where it doesn't exist. You "interpreted" something I said to fit what you want to believe, which I find humorously ironic.

But your last point with respect to me proves that you are just a fraud, torqued out of shape by your own doing: how much do I give to charity? How much time do I volunteer in community? How much time do I give to the poor and homeless? More importantly, how have I changed my life from what it was a year ago or 5 years ago? You don't know, yet you are pissed off because I falsely claim to be a Christian. With regard to that statement, you are a dolt. You have judged me based on comments on a thread where you goaded me, mocked my religion and stated as fact that which is neither proven, nor widely believed.

You aren't worth further response . . . except to say that I am sorry I resorted to name calling.

Steve

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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
. . . and you shouldn't base your understanding of the US economy on such clearly biased points of view. It makes you appear to be poorly educated.

Steve
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Jason210Commented:
Now, point out where I criticized socialism
Post 32679404, when you were sarcastically deriding Europe, and socialism along with it -- and don't pretend that you weren't:

Yes, and we here in America we plan our day around what Europe thinks. Socialism, incessant strikes and crappy economies are our target. Abandoned churches, outright disregard for Christian belief. We're moving that way as fast as we can, obviously.
I don't know what socialism means in the US, where I live it means the state takes care of its people. Sick people get treatment at hospital WITHOUT having to pay because we believe that everyone should have a fundamental right to healthcare.
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Jason210Commented:
Now remember Steve, I'm not worth further repsonse...
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Jason210Commented:
But your last point with respect to me proves that you are just a fraud, torqued out of shape by your own doing: how much do I give to charity? How much time do I volunteer in community? How much time do I give to the poor and homeless? More importantly, how have I changed my life from what it was a year ago or 5 years ago? You don't know, yet you are pissed off because I falsely claim to be a Christian.
No, you ARE a Christian. And you're such a nice guy. Anyone can see that who reads these threads.

:-)

Good luck


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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Har. Thanks for taking the bait.

1. Socialism doesn't work. I didn't call it bad or good.
2. I couldn't care less that you judge me totally from these threads.

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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
<<I don't know what socialism means in the US, where I live it means the state takes care of its people. Sick people get treatment at hospital WITHOUT having to pay because we believe that everyone should have a fundamental right to healthcare.>>

You must be young. Where do you think the state gets the money, Jason210? Perhaps it is different in Europe and money just appears in the state coffers and they give healthcare away.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
It's pathetic that you don't see the difference between charity and socialism. I guess that explains a lot about the UK and Europe if you are typical.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Jason210 . . .

A couple of things . . .

First, I apologize for manipulating you. I wanted you to respond so I said you weren't worth further response. I was pretty sure that would make you respond.

Second, earlier in this post I suggested that you open another thread so we could keep arguing back and forth pointlessly without getting a surly comment about staying on subject. I opened another post but I don't think you posted. I like arguing. And I like arguing with you. You are a smart guy and I can easily tell when I've either said something stupid (because you loudly point it out) or when I've said something for which you have no counter . . . you ignore it.

Third, you are completely and totally clueless about Christianity. Oh, you have plenty of head knowledge and it's clear you are well read on the subject but you keep implying / saying I'm not a Christian and as proof point out my comments on this thread. Do you think Christians are perfect or incapable of rash or hurtful comments? Or are you just trying to get my proverbial goat knowing full well that when you say "claims to be a Christian" or "purports to be a Christian" that you are really saying something nonsensical? Or do you think Christ was a wimp?

And, really, socialism? Are you joking? Have you heard of Canada? It's a country just north of the US. They provide free health care. In fact, if you have a heart attack I've heard they can actually get you admitted to a hospital within a couple of years. Sometimes they can actually get you admitted before you have a second heart attack. Not very often though. And the UK. Great health care . . .my son was hospitalized there for freaking food poisoning and I was slapped with a $9,000 bill. I guess it's a sort of selective socialism practiced there . . . citizens only. . . is that the kind of socialism you think Christ was championing?

Food poisoning. You're country poisoned him, and charged me $9,000 to figure out what the heck was wrong with him. They wanted to cut him open. After being hospitalized for 4 days and using blood samples taken the first day they determined it was food poisoning. Holy cow!

So what the heck kind of treatment do you get for free? Go in with a hangnail and come out missing a kidney?

Steve

Steve
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Jason210Commented:
If you don't want to continue going off topic, stop writing about off topic things. You've made your view clear or Europe and Canadas' healthcare and socialism policies. It's all my fault for mentioning Las vegas.

Healthcare has to be paid for by someone. In the UK it's paid for with the people's taxes. If the UK offered free healthcare to all overseas visitors, then sick people who didn't have it at home would be flooding into Britain for free healthcare, and the syetem wouldn't work. If, on the other hand, countries took care of their own, that problem would not exist. Take for example Sweden and the UK. Both have universal healthcare systems. If a Swedish visitor is sick in the UK, they get free treatment, and vice versa.
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Jason210Commented:
I can easily tell when I've either said something stupid (because you loudly point it out) or when I've said something for which you have no counter . . . you ignore it.
Happy to oblige, in a limited way. But please don't make the mistake of interpreting my failure to provide a counter as a indication of not having one. Quite often, with you, I simply let things go. You yourself have admitted to being manipulative. I don't always bite. I don't always have the time nor the energy to get into those silly fights.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
I tried to drag you back on topic and you ignored the remark. And because you'd contradicted yourself and because you didn't respond I thought you were stumped. It's a common debate tactic to ignore a remark and later claim it was silly.

I was trying to be kind, but I see you don't respond to kindness well either.

Steve
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
And .  .  . I think what pisses you off about me isnt my belief - - or putative belief - - but the fact that you are totally ineffective in your attempt to discredit things that I believe.  On one hand you are an idealist (socialism .  .  .  Really?) and on the other you place far too much value on pragmatic knowldge as the only way to understand the world, almost the reverse of idealism. Head knowledge has a ceiling, an upper limit beyond which someone constrained by that kind of knowledge will be lost and unable to understand or even imagine those things for which there is no playbill or guide book.

When your only tool is a hammer, all problems tend to look like nails.

Good luck with your "carpentry". Get it? The metaphor and the double entendre?
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Jason210Commented:
Head knowledge has a ceiling, an upper limit beyond which someone constrained by that kind of knowledge will be lost and unable to understand or even imagine those things for which there is no playbill or guide book.
No. I'm aware of the limitations of conceptual knowledge and I don't expect to it provide any kind of spiritual fulfillment. But it can provide a conceptual framework for spiritual experiences and transformations in consciousness. For you, the bible is your guide book - your framework. There are many others. Freemasonry is another example. And in the 19th century you had  "The Esetoric order of the Golden Dawn". Organistaions like these sprang up because Christianity wasn't working for many people.  I don't know if you ever read Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" but it's excellent novel, that explains the spiritual aspect of freemasonry against the backdrop of a mixture of fascinating factual history and a fictional plot.

Evidently for you, the "lamps have been repositioned". I don't know that quote is from but you know what I mean. Born again. I guess it feels good when you stop fighting and start accepting it as it is. Apparently George W. Bush was born again, and after that he stopped drinking and got "cleaned up" and became president of the United States and went after Saddam's ass. Just one of many examples. I'm skeptical of people who are "born again ". They often screw up.  Perhaps they take the dawn for the day? All the spiritual practices I know of require constant devotion or meditation. It's not like a switch that turns on onde day and then suddenly you're ok. It requires constant work.

The nice thing with Christianity is that it's all nice and cosy. You're part of a tree, no longer a lost limb. Or a lost lamb. I think this is what Callandor calls a relationship, part of something. Nice. You're a lucky guy. My world, by contrast, is empty. Since I don't believe in any deities, or magical beings, etc, it's just me and impersonal God.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Im also skeptical of people who are born again, at least in the pejorative sense of that phrase.  .  . Like the reformed smoker who becomes belligerantly intolerant of other smokers. Or the born again Christian whose legalistc approach to spiritualiy drives people away from Jesus.

Ever read James Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"? Joyce refers to "floating through life like the empty barren shell of the moon." Its what came to me when I read the last two sentences of your post. Surely you arent Stephen Dedalus?
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Jason210Commented:
I don't know if I'm like that character as I haven't read the book. It's one of those books I never got round to.

I believe that earnestness is the most important thing. If you are sincere and do what you really believe in, grace will come in some form or other.
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CallandorCommented:
>but every time this comes up, you justify your belief in literal realsism of miracles by resorting to the argument that science cannot disprove it happened. So what you are doing is giving something scientific status which should not have scientific status.

What I am getting at is that people should not make science say what it doesn't say - when it comes to the supernatural, science is silent, and that includes how it works.  If you say the supernatural cannot influence physical events, you are making a statement about how the supernatural works.  I'm not giving it scientific status; I'm saying it is outside the realm of examination by science and any effort to do so will fail.  How do you find evidence of something that doesn't follow the physical laws of the universe?  Yet you expect to be able to do just that.


>You're part of a tree, no longer a lost limb. Or a lost lamb. I think this is what Callandor calls a relationship, part of something.

Read John 15, where Jesus refers to himself as a vine and believers as branches of that vine.  You depend on the vine for sustaining life and take on the character of the vine.  This means you have to depend on something greater than yourself as part of that relationship.
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Jason210Commented:
What I am getting at is that people should not make science say what it doesn't say - when it comes to the supernatural, science is silent, and that includes how it works.
It is not silent when supernatural claims directly challenge established scientific theories and facts. The evolution v. creationism argument is a clear demonstration of this.

Emprical science is only silent about things that are intrinsically unknowable in science. For example, what caused this universe? Is there a God? Etc.
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CallandorCommented:
>The evolution v. creationism argument is a clear demonstration of this.

You must look at the world through rose-colored glasses, or have a propensity to state things as fact without checking.  I recommend reading "Finding Darwin's God", by Kenneth Miller (http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Darwins-God-Scientists-Evolution/dp/0060930497).  He is a professor of biology at Brown University and says evolution gives him support for the existence of God.  I've just started reading it.

The idea that evolution is opposed to religion is something promoted by the more rabid atheists, but so what?  Shockley won the Nobel prize, but threw away his reputation by getting behind eugenics.  People can be smart in one area and completely blind in others.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
<<The idea that evolution is opposed to religion is something promoted by the more rabid atheists, but so what? >>

The same people say the big bang theory is at odds with the bible as well. As soon as I can frame a question Im going to open another thread along these lines . . . I say tighten our borders and I am called a racist, I say reform welfare and Im told I have a lack of compassion, I say require ID to be able to vote and Im told I am disenfranchising a large segment of society.

Sorry, lost my head.
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Jason210Commented:
I read that a while back.

The idea that evolution is opposed to religion is something promoted by the more rabid atheists, but so what?  Shockley won the Nobel prize, but threw away his reputation by getting behind eugenics.  People can be smart in one area and completely blind in others.
Rather -- the idea that religion is opposed to evolution is something promoted by evangelists.

You must look at the world through rose-colored glasses, or have a propensity to state things as fact without checking.  I recommend reading "Finding Darwin's God", by Kenneth Miller (http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Darwins-God-Scientists-Evolution/dp/0060930497).  He is a professor of biology at Brown University and says evolution gives him support for the existence of God.  I've just started reading it.
The difference with the philosohphical arguements like the one's presented in books like this is that they accept the evidence and facts of evolution, which means a literal interpretation of the bible is not possible. I find it admirable that you Callandor, who seems to be from an evangelical background, can accept that Genesis isn't a scientific account of the early creation of the earth and man.

If you reject genesis as a literal account, as this author must, then the bible can no longer be the inerrant word of God - at least in a literal sense. This means that other "literal" truths are also open to questions. The God he presents is more like an impersonal one rather the typical one from Milers Catholic background. However, this is not really what YECs are about and the author does not address this.

I'm not saying I agree with the author, but I can find nothing wrong with his ideas or arguments. I would wish to see more books like this and more of this way of thinking from religious people.
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Jason210Commented:
The same people say the big bang theory is at odds with the bible as well.
Only if you interpret the bible literally. Also, Genesis is may not even be meant as a symbolic account of the formation of the universe. In my opinion Genesis is a subjective account of the growth of consciousnes. It describes a series of differentiations that arise as mind develops it's capacity to differentiate.

It's clear from the text that God did not know what he was creating, because when he did something, it is claimed by the author that God saw that "it was good". Why would he say this if he was "all knowing", if he had a plan? He would already have known it would be good and that would be the reason he was doing it. For me, it indicates that in the beginning, God wasn't "all knowing". He was aware, but that is all. He was fumbling around in the darkness. Pretty amazing that someone had the insight to write Genesis.

We too, are fumbling around in the darkness. One might be tempted to say that there is no "we", and that God is at the root of our beingness, that the "we" and the "I" and the sense of being seperate is an illusion. God is deluded! "We" and "I" do not exist - there is only God. Poor God. We should help him. Or may be God should help us. Which way round?

"The eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me" - Meister Eckhart.
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CallandorCommented:
>then the bible can no longer be the inerrant word of God

I do not reject Genesis as a literal account, but consider that it does not give a scientific description of how things happened, basing it on the principle that the Bible was never intended to be a scientific book that tells you the "how" of events.  It is a text focused on man and his relationship with God.  What I consider the word "literal" to mean in this context is that it is true, as far as the the author has written it, taking into account the literary style.  If it is a historical account, then it is accurate historically, if it is a narrative account, then it recounts what was said accurately, etc.  I have always maintained that the Bible is inerrant - the question is what kind of style is the author using in each book.

I don't agree with your conclusion that interpreting Genesis literally puts it at odds with science.  Genesis does not tell you how God created the universe; only that he is the creator.  There are people who do not understand the Bible or science and they pit one against the other, and sometimes there is a reaction from one side to the unsupported view from the other.  I can imagine God designing the world in his mind, with all the complexity and progressions, and then creating it in an instant with his word.
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CallandorCommented:
Here is a book that presents 3 different views of Genesis, all of them from evangelicals: http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Debate-Three-Views-Creation/dp/0970224508
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Jason210Commented:
I consider the word "literal" to mean in this context is that it is true, as far as the the author has written it, taking into account the literary style.

I think I agree...

I consider the word "literal" to mean "not figurative or metaphorical". http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/literal.

If the description in Genesis is "not figurative or metaphorical", and not empirical, then how are we to describe it? The words "metaphorical" and "figurative" seem not appropriate as these imply the conscious and deliberate use of a literary device. And, as for empirical, well, scientifically speaking, we know the Universe was not created in six days, so if this were a scientific account, it would be an obsolete one and there would be no reason to believe in it. We would consider current theories to be more accurate and believable.

So what is Genesis?

The author clearly had an insight of some kind, which we might term a "revelation". I would define revelation as meaning a revealing to consciousness information that has a degree of collective or universal truth in it, but which appears from a source other than our conceptual, ego-based thought. There's a similar definution here: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/revelation. I think CG Jung would have said it comes from the collective unconscious. The author of Genesis must have had such an experience, which he then expressed using the language and concepts available to him, which to us today seem antquated and "metaphorical". I have tended in the past to refer to this as metaphorical but as I pointed out I am no longer happy with that term. I have also tried "mystical symbolism" but that wont do either.
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Jason210Commented:
It's worth pointing out that John of Patmos also had a revelation, but it is thought that he worked on it consciously, for example by adapting the three horsemen myth. While Genesis is remarkable, John's revelation isn't. It comes across as a the frantic writings of a man embittered by Imperial Rome, and besott with nightmares.

The point being, that just because it is a "revelation" it does not mean it is necessarily divine or infallible.

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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Jason210

Perhaps you are holding too high a standard for Genesis in terms of style and content. When I took my son at age 3 to the circus he told his mom that "it was people jumping and animals and people riding and swinging and bears and tigers and candy."

As a "literal" description of a circus his narrative is incomplete and not terribly fulfilling. But it is clearly not metaphorical. By the way, I am not suggesting that Moses or whoever wrote Genesis was 3 years old or had the narrative skill of a 3 year old. But the author was narrating something that may have been passed to him perhaps in such a way (I think you called this revelation) that he did the best he could to put in narrative form what he was "told".

Or imagine you are a citizen of 800AD and  I tell you a story in great detail describing tools and torque used to tighten etc,. about adjusting the valves on my Lotus Europa and in turn you are later trying to write down that story, relating how to do it and why it should be done.
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Jason210Commented:
Yes. This not only goes for Genesis but a lot of everything else I've been describing as metaphorical. While some aspects of the New Testement are deliberately allegorical (the lost sheep springs into my mind), some are questionable so, and others are probably more along the lines of an insight, expressed with the language of the time.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
This is defiantly one of those discussion deserving a heck of lot more than a measly 50 points. I am sorry I could not give all of you more. Thank you for your excellent contributions.
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Jason210Commented:
Thanks for the points.

Contributions in this thread by Callndor and Steve have made me realise that metaphorical interpretation of scripture is perhaps not valid after all, because when the text was written the writers probably meant what they were writing literally, rather than metaphorically. Therefore I suspect that some of the text is literal as far as the original authors were concerned. For example Genesis strikes me very much as a visionary description of something that was experienced. By whom and by what is a matter of speculation, but I don't think it was written as metaphor in the sense John's relevation may have been.

Literal in this sense does not mean emprical - it is not a scientific or historical description of the Universe. I believe it is a subjective experience the source of which lies beyond the personality and beyond ordinary consciousness. It is knowledge that comes from a source, but which is experssed according to the langauge and literary styles of the day.

However, I think that when we use the words literal and metaphorical today, we are often thinking in much simpler terms than this. The literal approach can be confused with empirical, which is not good; while the metaphorical approach at least indicates that the reader is willing to question and think about the meaning on another level, which to my mind is a good thing. Literal interpretation is not an easy concept to grasp, especially for today's generation.
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Jason210Commented:
One other thing. I do not believe that scripture is perfectly literal - but am willing to consider the possibility that parts of it are literal.
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Steve JenningsIT ManagerCommented:
Very well stated.
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