REAL WORLD EVENT DISCUSSIONS

'Tolerance' on American Universities???

POSTED BY: CARTOON
UPDATED: Thursday, November 30, 2006 13:02
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 7:39 AM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
Of course there's scholarship disputing that Jesus even existed. There's very little scholarship that supports that He did. Outside the bible, there is no conclusive evidence that a single "Jesus" of the Bible existed, the main trouble being that nearly all of the history we have from that time period has been copied and maintained by Christian monks who were in no way above interpolating bits about their Lord and Savior into the manuscripts. Even the Biblical record has nothing but three years of preaching and a couple hagiographic anecdotes from Jesus's childhood.


From reading the above statement, one might firstly be lead to believe that the Bible is a merely single book by a single author. Such an assumption could not be more incorrect.

Setting aside the Hebrew Old Testament, the Christian New Testament is comprised of multiple, individual books written by (at minimum) nine different authors over a span of anywhere from 40 to 60 years (all within the first century). These individual books (by different authors) were not assembled into the Christian New Testament until 300 years after the fact.

So, firstly, the Bible is not one book, and it was not written by one author. It is a compilation of several books by several authors, all mentioning Jesus.

From reading the above statement, one might secondly be lead to believe that only the Bible (and possibly other "Christian" authors) mention Jesus. This assumption would also be incorrect as there are multiple, non-biblical references to Christ. Mostly notably, the first century, secular, Roman historian Flavius Josephus -- who mentioned Jesus specifically (including His miracles, His crucifixion by Pilate, as well as His appearance to His followers after His death).

Josephus was never a Christian by any stretch of the imagination.

There are also other, non-comtemporary, Roman historians who mentioned Jesus (and His followers), including Tertullian and Philo.

There is also a rather lengthy, contemporary account mentioning Jesus by a first century King of Edessa, named Agbarus.

So, for anyone to claim that "only" the Bible speaks of Jesus is showing either their prejudice or ignorance of both Christianity and secular history from the period.

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
Those who deny the historicity of Jesus may simply be looking at the evidence.


More likely, they're trying to ignore the evidence (see above).

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 8:39 AM

HKCAVALIER


Cartoon, you're giving me Josephus? Josephus is exactly the kind of source I'm talking about! He's the flippin' poster-child for Christian interpolation and corruption of historical texts. The man was a jew, but this devout jew supposedly wrote of a man named Jesus: "if it be lawful to call him a man...He was [the] Christ...for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him." No.

A little googling confirms that the legend around Abgarus first appeared in the 4th century. Not a contemporary source.

The nutty thing is, Cartoon, I don't doubt the existence of Jesus Christ myself, but I don't base it on an either non-existent or else highly suspect historical record. I researched the hell out of this topic back when I was in college and I'm pretty confident that your other sources are equally insubstancial.

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.

-Thomas Jefferson

HKCavalier

Hey, hey, hey, don't be mean. We don't have to be mean, because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 8:48 AM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
Cartoon, you're giving me Josephus? Josephus is exactly the kind of source I'm talking about! He's the flippin' poster-child for Christian interpolation and corruption of historical texts. The man was a jew, but this devout jew supposedly wrote of a man named Jesus: "if it be lawful to call him a man...He was [the] Christ...for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him." No.


So, let me get this straight. If I say that Kennedy is a most liberal democrat, I'd be a posterchild for the Democrats?!! I don't think so.

Josephus was recording the history of what was being circulated at the time. That does not under any circumstances make him a cheerleader for the Christians, any more than my saying that Kennedy is a most liberal democrat makes me a cheerleader for the Democrats.

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
A little googling confirms that the legend around Abgarus first appeared in the 4th century. Not a contemporary source.


You need to do more than google. The account was first written in the early 4th century by Eusebius -- who was quoting texts still in existence at that time (which he clearly states as much) written in the hand of Abgarus. Eusebius (who was a Christian) would likely not have gotten away with quoting something "still in existence" (which his readers could verifty) if that something were not still in existence.

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
The nutty thing is, Cartoon, I don't doubt the existence of Jesus Christ myself, but I don't base it on an either non-existent or else highly suspect historical record. I researched the hell out of this topic back when I was in college and I pretty confident that your other sources are equally insubstancial.


Like I said, some people would prefer to go out of their way to ignore the evidence, rather than believe it.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 11:37 AM

HKCAVALIER


Quote:

Originally posted by cartoon:
Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
He's the flippin' poster-child for Christian interpolation and corruption of historical texts.


So, let me get this straight. If I say that Kennedy is a most liberal democrat, I'd be a posterchild for the Democrats?!!

No, Cartoon, you haven't gotten it straight at all. As I said, Josephus is a shining example (poster-child) for Christian interpolation and corruption of historical texts, not a shining example of a Christian. I was suggesting that Josephus' writings are precisely the most infamous examples of Christian scribal interpolation on record.

As to whether or not he's a cheerleader for the Christians depends on whether or not you credit the disputed passage:
Quote:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
These are not the comments of a jew. These are the comments of a Christian. He speaks of Christ's miracles as fact, not as "what was being circulated at the time."
Quote:

You need to do more than google. The account was first written in the early 4th century by Eusebius -- who was quoting texts still in existence at that time (which he clearly states as much) written in the hand of Abgarus. Eusebius (who was a Christian) would likely not have gotten away with quoting something "still in existence" (which his readers could verifty) if that something were not still in existence.
Cartoon, I've read all this stuff before. You really don't seem to understand the nature of historical writing in the ancient world. Nobody was fact checking back then. Much of what the ancients wrote as history we have to consider on the level of literature, nothing more. The only way to get a bead on what actually went down is to get disperate authors to agree, not by interpolating obvious Christian statements into their writings, but by finding contemporary commentators from various traditions who describe the same events. No non-Christian historian that I have ever read or met would consider the Eusebius story as anything more than a legend. I would be currious to read a modern day non-Christian scholar that credits any of your sources as evidence of Christ's historicity.

HKCavalier

Hey, hey, hey, don't be mean. We don't have to be mean, because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 11:44 AM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
No, Cartoon, you haven't gotten it straight at all. As I said, Josephus is a shining example (poster-child) for Christian interpolation and corruption of historical texts, not a shining example of a Christian. I was suggesting that Josephus' writings are precisely the most infamous examples of Christian scribal interpolation on record.



Okay. "Christian scribal interpolation".

I guess that makes perfect sense. After all, I mean, by comparison, Josephus has pages and pages about Caligula's short reign, and only a few sentences about Jesus. A few sentences about Jesus, several pages on Caligula (both were upon the scene for precisely the same amout of time: one for three years, the other for four).

One would think that someone guilty of exhibiting "the most infamous examples of Christian scribal interpolation on record" would have cheered a bit more than three of four meagre sentences in his hundreds of pages of text on that century.

I can't see how such a corrupt, avid Christian cheerleader (as you claim Josephus was, even though he, himself, never claimed to be one), could've passed up an opportunity to really let it all out, and do a bit more than three or four sentences about Jesus (not to mention the early church) in his hundreds of pages of history relating to the first century, during which he lived (and his critics did not).

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
No non-Christian historian that I have ever read or met would consider the Eusebius story as anything more than a legend. I would be currious to read a modern day non-Christian scholar that credits any of your sources as evidence of Christ's historicity.


Yep. You're absolutely right. All these people who actually were there didn't know squat. Those who actually lived through those times apparently didn't know who existed and who didn't. Apparently, neither did the nine independent authors of nearly two dozen, individual books which were later incorporated into a single volume called "The Bible" (specifically the Christian New Testament of the Bible). Neither did the contempory, first century King who personally chronicled his contact with Jesus in a document which was still in existence (and quoted extensively) 290 years later in the early 4th century, when Eusebius included it in his writings.

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
No non-Christian historian that I have ever read or met would consider the Eusebius story as anything more than a legend.


Well, Eusebius hung around with the Emperor Constantine, and his "Ecclesiastical History" was published during Constantine's reign -- who surely, would've read it (particularly as Constatine called the Council of Nicea specifically "clear up" any misconceptions about Christianity -- one would think he'd be interested in such things).

One would think that Constantine would be a good, contemporary character reference for any historian -- but, oh wait, Constantine claimed to be a Christian, too, so I guess we can't believe anything he would say, either.

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
I would be currious to read a modern day non-Christian scholar that credits any of your sources as evidence of Christ's historicity.


Oh, so Christian scholarship isn't scholarship? One must be a non-Christian to be impartial. I see. I understand perfectly well.

So, none of these people who actually lived through the events they described know anything, while everybody who came after them (and didn't witness any of this) knows everything.

I guess I can't fool you. Thanks for your intellectual openness.

Like I said, some people will contort in every which direction to avoid actual evidence.

Sorry. I'm out of my league, here, and know when it's time to stop.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 11:54 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by cartoon:
Like I said, some people will contort in everywhich direction to avoid actual evidence.

Oh sweet irony



More insane ramblings by the people who brought you beeeer milkshakes!
No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 1:50 PM

HKCAVALIER


Cartoon, I'm sorry. In addition to disagreeing with me on some pretty fundamental issues, you've really misunderstood what I'm talking about. It is now clear to me that you don't understand what an "interpolation" is. It's not just a fancy version of "interpretation."

An interpolation occures when a scribe, in our case a Christian scribe, alters the text he's transcribing by adding a few lines here or there to give credence to his personal ideas of how the past should have been recorded rather than keeping fidelity with how it actually was recorded. Christian interpolations abound in the classical texts they transcribed. In the minds of these Christians who took the word of God as literal fact, they were simply correcting the histories they transcribed, doing God's good work, etc.

So, when I say that the stuff about Jesus in Josephus is interpolated, I mean that a Christian scribe, centuries after Josephus, inserted his own beliefs into Josephus' narrative. Josephus, from the evidence of all his other writing, is a devout Jew. It is extremely unlikely that a first century jew confronted with information about Jesus would have written about Him so dogmatically as the singular passage I quoted does.

So you really missed my point big time. All of your first century authors might be perfectly reliable, if it weren't for the Christian scribes who are responsible for the versions of these authors' texts which have survived. That's what makes the Dead Sea scrolls such an important find, as what was written on them has never been transcribed until today.

And your example of Caligula vs. Jesus actually supports my position, as interpolations tend to be short aphoristic comments and ammendations to the original text and not whole chapters (though I'm sure such vast interpolations and baulderizations do occur).

And, hey, Cartoon, please, I've been trying to answer and refute your assertions honestly, so all the dripping sarcasm and 's do nothing but undercut your own argument.

HKCavalier

Hey, hey, hey, don't be mean. We don't have to be mean, because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 2:01 PM

ATIGDNG



Hostility indeed, but that is what we will have all the time. Good to see more people taking action.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 2:16 PM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
And, hey, Cartoon, please, I've been trying to answer and refute your assertions honestly, so all the dripping sarcasm and 's do nothing but undercut your own argument.

It's how Cartoon works, when it becomes obvious he is wrong he'll try and force you into a flame so that he in his head has a reason to ignore anything you post. The Guys a troll, complete with a couple of sock puppets to back him up.



More insane ramblings by the people who brought you beeeer milkshakes!
No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 2:51 PM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
Cartoon, I'm sorry. In addition to disagreeing with me on some pretty fundamental issues, you've really misunderstood what I'm talking about. It is now clear to me that you don't understand what an "interpolation" is. It's not just a fancy version of "interpretation."


Yes, I'm sorry, I did misread your post. BTW, I do know what an interpolation is, but I obviously read it incorrectly. Body isn't what it used to be.

I've also heard about the allegation of later scribes adding to Josphus's works. But, it is an allegation unsupported by any factual evidence. And, if I'm correct, wouldn't the burden of proof lie with the person/people making the allegations of tampering, as opposed to the text (as we have it today) having to proove that it hasn't been tampered with?

I'm also not familiar with what the oldest dated copies of Josephus's works still in existence may be, and would be curious to discover how old (or recent) they are.

I am, however, accutely aware of the history of Biblical manuscripts (both Old & New Testaments), and they are probably the best preserved (in relation to closeness of original authorship dates) of anything in all of antiquity -- which is another reason why the books of the New Testament should not be dismissed outright as a "single book which proves itself". As I stated previously, it was not a single volume until approximately 250 years after the individual volumes which comprise it were written.

If one is to take into account that all of those volumes were written by 8 or 9 individuals, and all mention that Jesus was indeed a real person, that has to bear some historical credence. I wonder how many contemporaneous documents mentioning "Alexander the Great" exist, by comparison?

EDIT: Okay, forgive me if I go off on a tangent here, but I actually have some research related to this -- about which I'd entirely forgotten. You may or may not already be aware of this, but according what I have in front of me, the two earliest biographies of Alexander were written by Arrian & Plutarch more than four hundred years after Alexander's death in 323 B.C. That's not a whole lot of historical documentation that Alexander actually lived as a real person -- particularly in comparison to Jesus, who had multiple accounts by multiple authors who actually knew Him. (Yes, they were Christian, but that fact alone shouldn't automatically discount their testimony any more than one should automatically discount something a liberal says about liberals -- unless, someone is suggesting that we should only believe what conservatives say about liberals? Hmm... not such a bad idea.)

Also, contemporaneous accounts by Josephus and the King of Edessa, and not-long-after accounts by other secular, Roman historians (two of which had been named in a previous post). Remember -- Alexander had only two biographies, both written 400 years after his death. All of the above-mentioned accounts of Jesus are from within a single century and a half.

Yes, one might argue that aside from the written biographies of Alexander (much removed from the time of his life, notwithstanding), that there is also archeological evidence (image & name on coins, architecture, etc.), which doesn't exist related to Jesus, contemporaneously.

However, Alexander's name on ancient artifacts, in and of itself, does not prove he actually existed -- apart from the biographies. Five hundred years from now, someone could excavate someone's stash of action figures and trading cards -- but they're not going to believe that Spider-man was a real person on the basis of those items alone. There would need to be a written history, as well.

We believe Alexander existed because of the written history, not the artifacts (although, the artifacts support the history). And regarding written histories, there are not only more about Jesus, but those which exist are far more contempory to Jesus's life, than with Alexander.

Okay. End of EDIT.

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
Christian interpolations abound in the classical texts they transcribed. In the minds of these Christians who took the word of God as literal fact, they were simply correcting the histories they transcribed, doing God's good work, etc.


Again, most allegations to this reguard have no factual evidence (at least none of any credible value about which I've heard).

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
It is extremely unlikely that a first century jew confronted with information about Jesus would have written about Him so dogmatically as the singular passage I quoted does.


It is possible it may have been exactly as you describe above, but it also possible he was just recording what was widely reported at the time. Without evidence to the contrary, I again believe that the burden of proof lies with the one casting doubt on the authenticity of the text.

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
So you really missed my point big time.


Yes. Apparently so.

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
That's what makes the Dead Sea scrolls such an important find, as what was written on them has never been transcribed until today.


Yes. I fully agree. I actually have a full English translation of all of the "Biblical" Dead Sea Scrolls which have been translated to date -- and it is incredibly accurate (almost to the exact word) with our other oldest copies of the Old Testament (both Hebrew & the Greek Septuagint). Most of the descrepencies are extremely minor (singular vs plural)(use of another word which has same or similiar meaning), etc. In other cases, it's simply the matter of a single line (or phrase) from elsewhere in the same passage which was erroneously copied in the wrong place.

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
And your example of Caligula vs. Jesus actually supports my position, as interpolations tend to be short aphoristic comments and ammendations to the original text and not whole chapters (though I'm sure such vast interpolations and baulderizations do occur).



Again, possible. But, it's also possible that, given the opportunity to interpolate, a Christian scribe wouldn't have settled with a few sentences, but done more. Also, why a brief, few sentences on Jesus, but nothing on the early church, which certainly would've warranted mentioning -- particularly given the severe persecutions under the Romans? Wouldn't a Christian scribe also have alluded to that? Again, neither of us can prove it either way -- that it was tampered with at a later time, or that it wasn't. And given that, I still believe that the burden of proof lies with a person making an allegation of textual inaccuracy (given evidence to the contrary).

Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
And, hey, Cartoon, please, I've been trying to answer and refute your assertions honestly, so all the dripping sarcasm and 's do nothing but undercut your own argument.


I misread your statement about Josephus. I apologize for that. If you were indeed saying what I misread you to be saying (that's a mouthful), then you'd have to admit that my frustration at the misread "prejudice" was justified. (And don't get on my case about the "smiling" -- I do that in nearly every post. It's my way. Humor me.)

I still believe that you seem to be prone to a mistrust of any evidence which doesn't support your initial supposition. While you may be correct about some (or all) of your allegations of later textual interpolation, I still maintain that without evidence that it occured in these texts, the burden of proof lies with the accuser, not the defense.

And my sarcasm never drips. I resent that remark. (smile purposely omitted)

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 4:01 PM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Cartoon- I'm fascinated that you say you have an intepretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially since the Israeli Antiquities Authority sat on the scrolls for 40 years, dribbling out translations at such a miserly rate that the Huntington Library finally made photographic records freely available in late 1991 out of sheer scholarly frustration. The translation is not YET complete, and there is no consensus on the translated portions. Here are some interesting quotes from someone who appears to have a historic- as opposed to relgious- interest in their content:

"The early editors (IAA) certainly appeared to be participating in an attempt to control the interpretation of the scrolls by limiting access to the evidence. This type of behavior has a foul reek even if the excuses used to explain it away may have some merit. Only small minds think they can get away with such a small-minded exercise."

"The diversity of the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls is somewhat surprising considering the impressions one gets from the early publications. If one small sect in the desert could hold such a diversity of incompatible views about itself, its God, its raison d'etre, its neighbors, and its enemies, then I will be flabbergasted. There is more going on than anyone has suspected and it looks as though it might take decades more to figure out, if we ever can, what it was."

"One tidbit that I find very revealing is that no two copies are alike. These people had, it seems, an opinion very different from that held by many modern religious authorities about the immutability of the biblical texts; even those with centuries of tradition already behind them, such as the Book of Isaiah. It might be concluded that each scribe considered it his duty to "improve", clarify or "correct" each text he copied. That gives me the impression of a rather more flexible religious canon during the intertestamental period."

http://home.flash.net/~hoselton/deadsea/deadsea.htm

In the meantime, other authenticated versions of that time, including the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas, appear to contradict the canonical version of the New Testament.
---------------------------------
Reality sucks. Especially when it contradicts our cherished ideas.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 4:14 PM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by SignyM:
Cartoon- I'm fascinated that you say you have an intepretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially since the Israeli Antiquities Authority sat on the scrolls for 40 years, dribbling out translations at such a miserly rate that the Huntington Library finally made photographic records freely available in late 1991 out of sheer scholarly frustration.


Sure.

Yes, I just purchased it this past summer. It's not "complete", in that it does not have a translation of the non-biblical scrolls. However, it contains a full translation of all of the biblical scrolls translated to date. It also footnotes where there are variations among the different scrolls. I found it extremely fascinating.

It is The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, translated with commentary by Martin Abegg Jr., Peter Flint & Eugene Ulrich. Published by Harper, San Francisco. First edition (1999). It is 659 pages in length.

It includes translations of the various scrolls of nearly every book in the Hebrew Bible (as translated thus far), and even compares the descrepencies (footnoted) against the Masoretic text, the Septuagint, and the Samaritan Pentateuch.

It also footnotes descrepencies among the various scrolls of the same text, etc. (which, as I stated previously, is minor and rare).

The most frustrating thing about the whole book is that some of the books of the Old Testament are extremely fragmentary -- in some cases, merely a few paragraphs. Fortunately, in other cases, they've translated near-complete books (like Isaiah). Other books which they have large portions from are Genesis, Psalms, and Deuteronomy.

Also, when I was deciding whether to purchase this or not, there was another similiar volume by other editors -- so, apparently, this isn't the only one available.

Hope this helps.

EDIT: Regarding the quote of your source as saying "no two copies are the same", I'm assuming he means the "commentary" scrolls. The commentary scrolls are not part of this volume, although this volume alludes to them. Apparently, there were myriads of "commentary" scrolls, where the Essene community wrote their opinions on the scriptures (much as we have people who write commentaries on the Bible, today).

The quote doesn't (as far as I can see) apply to the actual scriptural scrolls, as the volume I possess has footnotes related the few descrepencies which exist among the scrolls, themselves. As stated previously, probably 99.9% of them fall into the category of tense/gender, different word with same meaning, or a miscopied phrase or sentence in a different place.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006 4:33 PM

RUE

I have a vote and I'm not afraid to use it!


There was an interesting text of the NT that used to be called "what Jesus really said". It's still available, but under a new name which I don't remember. What the scholars did was remove all a-historical writings (the sermon on the mount was one), later additions etc. Then they printed the NT where the invalid stuff was in black and the rest was in red. More than 90% of the NT got screened out as not being contemporaneous with the time of Jesus.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 2:34 AM

KPO

Sometimes you own the libs. Sometimes, the libs own you.


Quote:

Of course there's scholarship disputing that Jesus even existed. There's very little scholarship that supports that He did.


Wow. I’ll be honest, and admit that you’ve caught me by surprise with this move HK. After vehemently backing up the claim that Jesus was a homosexual, I never saw it coming that you would then argue the case that Jesus never existed. Perhaps you believe both points are true?

No, *sigh*, I don’t think you agree with either one - you’re just being contrary. That, and picking a fight on a subject where you are very learned, but one which I’m not really interested in debating, I’m afraid.

Out of all this your approach to history comes across as: ‘Don’t worry about what actually took place; everyone make a case for whatever you want to believe – then feel free to try and propagate that belief.’

Which I find disappointing.

Quote:

Like, maybe that that person is an individualist? Most professors that have any expertise in their field have heterodox opinions. You seem to have a pretty Soviet notion of what should be taught in college, kpo.


History is to some an extent an exact science, in that some things happened and some things didn’t (interpretation of historical events and their causes etc is another matter). I would prefer that exact sciences be taught just that way – exact, or as accurate as our limited evidence allows us. For all your tolerance of different views, I suspect that creationism is one academically heterodox view that you wouldn’t be able to stomach in a physics professor’s lecture. Wouldn’t you suppose that that professor had some bias that was influencing him, and be upset about it? Well that’s what’s I’m saying in the case of the professor with the spurious view that Jesus was a homosexual – he has an anti-christian bias.

Quote:

And lumping early church scholarship which does not support one's religious beliefs with Holocaust deniers is pretty inflammatory itself, kpo.


Yeah, that’s right, you be outraged. Your approach up till now has been to defend any spurious, inflammatory opinion, saying; ‘Ah, but there’s scholarship!’ and then telling us about the scholarship. But I touch on an opinion that is so spurious and so inflammatory that you can’t comfortably defend it, and then you do an about turn, do the politically correct thing and show contempt for this view, and act outraged that I use such an extreme example to make my point very clear. Nice.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 4:02 AM

RUE

I have a vote and I'm not afraid to use it!


I understand HK's point to be that if you look at the bible, you could make a case for all sorts of things. And that is why one shouldn't take the bible literally, either as moral compass or as 'historical document' (think Galaxy Quest).

I don't think we could even accurately describe one day, let alone a 3000 year empire. Since history is an overwhelming amount of fact, the picking and choosing becomes paramount. So even history is subjective rather than exact.

Creationism - a system of belief not subject to testing or revision - as science ? That's an old discussion on this board, but I think you'll find that most people think it's OK to teach creationism - in say a comparative myths class - as long as it's not taught as a science.

I have more to say, but just don't have the time ...

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 6:50 AM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by rue:
There was an interesting text of the NT that used to be called "what Jesus really said". It's still available, but under a new name which I don't remember. What the scholars did was remove all a-historical writings (the sermon on the mount was one), later additions etc. Then they printed the NT where the invalid stuff was in black and the rest was in red. More than 90% of the NT got screened out as not being contemporaneous with the time of Jesus.


Yes, I'm actually familiar with it, Rue. Most (if not all) conservative, biblical scholars consider it hogwash. According to the standards they used to tear into the New Testament, there isn't a single ancient document which would hold up as authentic.

The best thing the New Testament has going for it is the closeness of the dates of authorship to the earliest surviving manuscripts. Nothing else in antiquity comes close the amount of early surviving manuscripts -- period, much the less the degree of closeness (in some cases, nearly only a century after the period of authorship).

To utilize my previous example about the earliest biographies of Alexander, they were authored more than 4 centuries after Alexander's death. The New Testament was written within decades (approximately 3 to 7) after Christ's crucifixion, and we have surviving manuscripts of various parts of it dating from barely a century after they were written.

One thing I also like to point out when discussing New Testament manuscript authencity is the fact that the Apostle John lived at least until the year 100 AD. By most contemporary accounts, he lived a few years beyond that, into the first decade of the second century.

John, who walked with the Lord, would've certainly been acquainted with all of the New Testament documents -- those by the other Apostles: Matthew & Peter; those by the Apostle Paul; those by the Lord's brothers: James & Jude; as well as Luke's two volumes; and Mark's gospel (as told by Peter). (The author of Hebrews is much debated, but I'm sure John would've been familiar with that, as well.)

How can I be sure that John would've been familiar with all of these books? Well, for one thing, because John was a circuit preacher, who travelled practically everywhere between Rome and Jerusalem. All of these books were also circulated from one group of believers to another, and much copied in the process. These house-churches would have had their copies (of whatever they were priviledged to have acquired) while John was there among them.

Imagine you are the member of a local house-church (and that's what they all were until early in the 4th century, when the government-sponsored persecutions of believers was stopped by Constantine).

Now, imagine that the Apostle John stops by your assembly of local believers. This is one of the guys who actually walked and studied with the Lord. You know the first words out of your mouths are going to be -- "Was it true? Did this happen this way, or not?"

Aside from that, even more compellingly, some of the books of the New Testament even refer to other books from the New Testament. (And again, in the event that someone missed it in my previous post, the New Testament is a compilation of multiple books by multiple authors. So, if various books within the compilation agree with other books within the compilation, it's not like having Shakespeare merely agreeing to something else Shakespeare said. It's like having Dickens agree to what Shakespeare said, and then Stevenson agreeing to what Dickens said.)

One example of this is found in I Timothy 5:18, where the Apostle Paul quotes from Luke's gospel, and calls it "Scripture".

Another example can be found in II Peter 3:15, where the Apostle Peter makes reference to the writings of the Apostle Paul as written "with the wisdom that God gave him" (NIV)("God" is actually implied, not explicit in the Greek), and in verse sixteen, equates these writings of Paul's ("all of his epistles") with "Scripture".

So there are examples of (at the very least) Paul being familiar with Luke's gospel, and Peter being familiar with "all of (Paul's) epistles". I have serious doubts, that having survived at least 4 decades beyond the deaths of both Peter & Paul (63 & 64 AD), that the Apostle John would not have (certainly by that time) been intimately familiar with everything written by his contemporary, fellow-believers.

There may be other examples, as well, but these are the two which come to mind most easily.

Now, one might point out that even John was dead by the time of the earliest surviving manuscripts we have to date. True. But John had a disciple called Polycarp -- a young teen when he first started following John, who did survive until the time of our earliest surviving manuscripts (and was actually burned at the stake as a very old man). As such, that's a one generation differential between the life-time of the last of the authors and the earliest known, surviving manuscript which we presently possess.

There are no other documents in all of antiquity for which we have a relationship that close between the time of authorship and the earliest known, surviving manuscripts of said works.

Also, we're talking "Scripture" here -- not secular history. While secular historians may've felt an urge to embellish or editorialize here and there, such would've been considered blasphemy for an orthodoxically-trained believer. As with the Hebrew Old Testament, copied for millennia by hand -- if nothing else, the Dead Sea Scrolls prove that in the 1900 to 2400 interevening years (the age of most of the scrolls discovered to date), there are practically no changes in text.

They took their copying of "Scripture" very seriously. To add to or detract from the "word of God" was a serious offense. As shown from the few textual variations that do exist between the Dead Sea Scrolls and our earliest surviving manuscripts prior to their discovery -- these have been limited (for the most part) to variations in tense or gender; use of a different, but similiar word in the original tongue; miscopying of a line or phrase to a different location within the text.

Hardly anything earth-shattering about those textual variations.

The Greek New Testament would've been treated the same way by those who initially copied it -- as "Scripture", and not tampered with -- at least not by those early, orthodox believers who would rather be torn apart by beasts than deny their Lord or stray from His word. Say what you will about the state of "believers" in today's world (sad, hypocrital milquetoasts that many of us are), no one professed a faith in Christ in those days unless it was genuine.

So, if we are to believe anything written in antiquity, about anyone or anything -- of all the writings from antiquity, those with the best, most contemporary textual agreement (by far) is the Christian New Testament.

P.S. Regarding the Dead Sea Scroll translations we were discussing above, I neglected to mention that (as related to the non-biblical scrolls) in addition to "commentary" scrolls, there are also numerous instructive scrolls dealing with the day-to-day lifestyles of the Essene community which apparently authored/copied the scrolls.

Unfortunately, the book I have only covers the "biblical" scolls. None of non-biblical (commentary or instructive) scrolls are included. There are easily as many of them as there are of the biblical scrolls -- perhaps more.

I imagine that they would have to publish a multi-volumed work when (or if) they ever decide to release the entire lot at all (much less translated into English).

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 10:16 AM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


I wonder who authored your translation? Apparently not much is available on-line, but according to what I found, the translation was tightly controlled by a very small group of people until 1991. This group of people (IAA) prohibits access to actual scrolls and the non-documentary artifacts found with the scrolls that would authenticate the provenance and findings.

For example, I saw a show about a religious text (I think it was a portion of Bible but I can't remember for sure) that had been written on vellum that had been scraped of it's previous writings. By UV(?) analysis the previous writings could be made out, as I recall they were somewhat heretical and were literally erased from existance.

Also, there is a difference between being able to trace a writing backwards as opposed to forwards. There were MANY contrary writings that were eliminated from official Church history, such as Thomas and Judas which were elided over time.

---------------------------------
Reality sucks. Especially when it contradicts our cherished ideas.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 2:29 PM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by SignyM:
I wonder who authored your translation?


If you mean the book I have with a translation of the biblical scrolls, I mentioned that above: The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, translated with commentary by Martin Abegg Jr., Peter Flint & Eugene Ulrich. Published by Harper, San Francisco. First edition (1999). It is 659 pages in length.

Quote:

Originally posted by SignyM:
Also, there is a difference between being able to trace a writing backwards as opposed to forwards.


Yes, but we don't need to trace textual history backwards if we're making our current translations from the oldest copies still in existence, right? Or am I missing something? (I'm not asking sarcastically, but genuinely, in the event that I've misread what you're saying. I've already misread one poster on this subject, so I'm already over my quota for allowable blunders per thread.)

Quote:

Originally posted by SignyM:
There were MANY contrary writings that were eliminated from official Church history, such as Thomas and Judas which were elided over time.


I can only state the criteria by which the early church determined which books were authentic.

Firstly, regarding the Old Testament, that was decided easily enough. They just chose to follow the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible -- although, they rearranged the order in which the books were presented. Why they rearranged the order, I have no clue. My personal preference is that they should've left the Old Testament in the original Hebrew order (not that the order in which the books are read should make any difference).

Regarding the New Testament, the first and foremost criteria for inclusion into the canon of Scripture was that the book had to have been of accepted apostolic authorship -- or accepted authorship of someone very closely associated with the apostles -- such as Luke (who was associated with Paul) or Mark (who was associated with Peter), as well as the Lord's brothers, James & Jude (who were both affiliated with the apostles; Paul even refers to James as one of the "pillars" of the church) -- but, which contained an internal consistency of message.

The only books in today's New Testament which were ever considered "dubious" by any of the pre-Nicean church fathers were James, II Peter, II John, III John, and Jude. And the only conservatively-orthodox, pre-Nicean church fathers to question their possible authenticity were the later Pre-Nicean church fathers, such as Origen (185-254) and Eusebius (260-340). The earliest church fathers, including Ignatius & Polycarp (both born near the end of the first century; and Polycarp was a student of the Apostle John), Iranaeus (120/140-200/203)(who was a student of Polycarp) and Clement (150-215) cast no doubts (at least none that have survived in their writings) about any of these books found to be "dubious" by Origen & Eusebius.

We also have surviving quotes from either Ignatius or Polycarp from three of the gospels, Acts, Romans, I & II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Hebrews, I Peter, I & III John. Iranaeus quotes (or alludes to) passages from everything in the New Testament except Philemon, II Peter, III John & Jude.

Curiously, none of these early church fathers recognized any of the "disputed" texts which were not included in the canon.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 4:19 PM

ANTIMASON


Quote:

Originally posted by rue:
I understand HK's point to be that if you look at the bible, you could make a case for all sorts of things. And that is why one shouldn't take the bible literally, either as moral compass or as 'historical document' (think Galaxy Quest)



this is interesting... if the bible isnt to be taken as a moral compass, presumably because you disagree with it... then what determines your moral compass? what is this universal standard that youve tapped into? if their truly is no God, and we are just a variation of animal, than what is morality and what makes it emperical?

i wasnt present 2000yrs ago when Jesus initiated the greatest following ever... so barring first hand experience, im willing to take into consideration the accounts of Jesus' apostles, who were all brutally murdered for their first hand witness and testimony to Jesus' deity and ressurection. if Jesus' wasnt God, how did he survive his torture and suspension on the cross, only to be witnessed fully healed 3 days later?

you can say.. 'well, thats what the bible says happened, but its been interpolated'.. but then it needs to be explained why this person named Jesus' was so highly esteemed that people gave their lives for his cause. it doesnt seem logical to me that whole masses of people would voluntarily be persecuted for what they saw and testified to, if they didnt asbolutely believe it to be true... since i doubt someone would prefer death to submission, over events they werent convinced really happened anyways; that seems far fetched.

where is the evidence that refutes the biblical accounts ... ive heard that Jesus' was permanantly killed, never killed, never performed miracles, or never even existed; but the burden of proof is on the skeptics to provide an alternative version of history that can adjust all the variables that Jesus' presence created. considering, again, that we werent there... isnt that something we in the 21st century ought to be a little more reserved speculating about, if all of this documentation is incredulous to begin with?

nevermind the hypocracy and double standard of you all in the secular world; go dig up the sources that we used for information on Caeser and some other philosophers of antiquety and youll find that we based those 'facts' on a lot less recorded data, with even greater gaps between the occurance of events and their recording.. then we did with Jesus and his gospels. but i guess in this case, those sources and 'facts' are so much more credible than ours

Quote:

Creationism - a system of belief not subject to testing or revision - as science ? That's an old discussion on this board, but I think you'll find that most people think it's OK to teach creationism - in say a comparative myths class - as long as it's not taught as a science.


like evolution is science? prove to me that 'BILLIONS OF YEARS AGO'.. or an incomprehendable amount of time removed from us, when no one was present as witness, all the matter in the universe came from nowhere, and eventually, hundreds of millions of years since, mankinds earliest ancestor, the rock, goes from lifeless inadamacy to an organic lifeforce by its own volition! evolution says the rock chose to come alive, therefore the rock must be its own 'god', since it gave life to itself. evolution goes further, saying mankind makes continuous changes to himself genetically, over time, so that one day we may become a bird or a sea serpent. in other words the progenitor and common denominator of all life on earth- the rock, symbolizes in itself the divinity in mankind to be the God of himself

you may not recognize this concept from the bible.. but its the very same proposition Satan made to Eve in the garden of Eden, when he lied and said "you shall be as Gods"...

do i need to point out the destruction this
concept causes to the human psyche? evolution promotes a worldview and idealogy that allows the conscience to conform to its own discretions, with no universal laws, and an underlying premise that the individual is his own God. besides being Satanic in origin.. its a RELIGION! so lets be fair.. evolution is no cold hard science either


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 4:53 PM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by antimason:
im willing to take into consideration the accounts of Jesus' apostles, who were all brutally murdered for their first hand witness and testimony to Jesus' deity and ressurection.


Well, not quite John -- at least not as far as we know. But, yes, the other ten (plus Paul) were all murdered for their faith.

John came close a few times. According to Shaff's "History of Christianity", John was supposedly in Rome when Peter was executed and then when the city was set aflame by Nero. Apparently at that time, John was also designated for execution, but miraculously escaped the city.

Quote:

Originally posted by antimason:
you can say.. 'well, thats what the bible says happened, but its been interpolated'.. but then it needs to be explained why this person named Jesus' was so highly esteemed that people gave their lives for his cause. it doesnt seem logical to me that whole masses of people would voluntarily be persecuted for what they saw and testified to, if they didnt asbolutely believe it to be true... since i doubt someone would prefer death to submission, over events they werent convinced really happened anyways; that seems far fetched.


Exactly. As Strobel points out in his book, people will willingly die for something which they believe to be true (but in actuality isn't), but that no one would likely be willing to die for a lie which they knew to be a lie.

As you correctly stated, the Apostles all claimed to have seen Jesus raised from the dead. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, they would've been lying, and known they were lying. It's highly unlikely they would've allowed themselves to be gruesomely murdered (and in many cases, hideously tortured prior to their murders) for maintaining what they knew to be a lie.

Another point of noting is how these Apostles changed -- practically overnight. By their own admissions, when Jesus was crucified, all of the apostles but John were cowering in the shadows, behind locked doors.

Three days later, after seeing the risen Lord, they're suddenly enboldened. A few weeks later (after Jesus's ascension), they're proclaiming the risen Savior publically in the streets. They're threatened by the local officials with imprisonment and death, then beaten, and what do they do? They go right back out into the street and continue proclaiming the risen Savior.

Subsequently (a decade or so later), there's this guy from the Sanhedrian who relished persecuting these "believers in Christ" (delivering them over to be killed). One day he is on his way to arrest more Christians in another town (Damascus), when Jesus appears to him, and promptly instructs him to get his act together and stop persecuting Him (notice that Jesus equated the persecution of His followers with a persecution of Himself).

Before you know it, this former Sanhedrian hitman who hated believers in Christ, is the most vocal proponent of Christ -- the Apostle Paul -- who eventually wound up martyred for the Lord he had previously persecuted with a fury.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 6:31 PM

ANTIMASON


Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
Like, maybe that that person is an individualist? Most professors that have any expertise in their field have heterodox opinions. You seem to have a pretty Soviet notion of what should be taught in college



universities teach evolution, but its not science, its a cleverly disquised gnostic myth with satanic origins. its a theory that even Darwin admitted was flawed and in many ways baseless; and nothings changed. 'long long ago and far away, all the matter in existence exploded from a particle.. that came from nowhere.. and we, well.. we come from a rock that finally chose to come alive'.. thats a theory, and unless im shown the physical evidence that i came from a rock that came from nowhere, then evolution is nothing more than a government* funded religion

Quote:

You do know that the founding fathers of this country were non-Christian Deists, yes? They weren't athiests, but they did not worship Jesus. Did you know Jefferson wrote his own gospel, in which he excised all references to Christ's divinity?


but they werent athiests. if the greatest influence among the founders came from Masonic concepts and idealogies, then masonry deserves to be scrutinized; which it has, and has been exposed to be entirely religious (Luciferian specifically) and represent a shared but paradoxical paradigm with christianity. this is the real significance of the all seeing eye of Osiris, since it is contained within a capstone that represents Lucifer- the god of this age. Jesus says in the bible that he is the capstone "that the builders rejected", not the god of this world. but regardless the intent of the founders or what they believed, America appears to be fullfilling its destiny set forth by these secret societies to become a new atlantis, the "novus ordo seclorum" or "a new order of the ages", which is to use America to establish the kindgom of antichrist

and regarding Islam, they do not believe Jesus is God.. so which God are they worshipping(this is the same for the Jews)? Allah, if he is the Creator, had to have manifested as JEsus; the NT makes that abundantly clear, so anything added or taken away from this concept is heretical and becomes occultic and antichristian



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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 7:40 PM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Quote:

this is interesting... if the bible isnt to be taken as a moral compass, presumably because you disagree with it... then what determines your moral compass? what is this universal standard that youve tapped into? if their truly is no God, and we are just a variation of animal, than what is morality and what makes it emperical?
This is where we dust off our humanity, make choices, and take the responsibility for it instead of dumping it off on some mythical creation that excuses all of our stupidity and worst impulses.

---------------------------------
Reality sucks. Especially when it contradicts our cherished ideas.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 7:51 PM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Quote:

Yes, but we don't need to trace textual history backwards if we're making our current translations from the oldest copies still in existence, right? Or am I missing something? (I'm not asking sarcastically, but genuinely, in the event that I've misread what you're saying. I've already misread one poster on this subject, so I'm already over my quota for allowable blunders per thread.)
No, but my point is that there are OTHER texts just as old with contradictory statements. Out of the multiple threads of documentation that head off in all kinds of directions, some of which contradict others, if you restrict your study to a single line that talks about the divinity of Jesus it will perforce be internally consistent.

---------------------------------
Reality sucks. Especially when it contradicts our cherished ideas.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 7:56 PM

SIGNYM

I believe in solving problems, not sharing them.


Quote:

where is the evidence that refutes the biblical accounts ... ive heard that Jesus' was permanantly killed, never killed, never performed miracles, or never even existed; but the burden of proof is on the skeptics to provide an alternative version of history that can adjust all the variables that Jesus' presence created. considering, again, that we werent there... isnt that something we in the 21st century ought to be a little more reserved speculating about, if all of this documentation is incredulous to begin with?
But the documentation around Mohammed is MUCH more complete than around Jesus. And people gave their lives for Mohammed too... still are giving their lives. With the conflicting claims flaoting around as to the "real" Messiah ("Will the real Messiah please stand up?") it seems to me that the burden of prrof lies with the person making the claim.

---------------------------------
Reality sucks. Especially when it contradicts our cherished ideas.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 8:28 PM

HKCAVALIER


Holy crap! I'm gonna try to address the grim misunderstanding between us evident in your latest post, kpo, but I'm not very optamistic at this point that you'll pay attention to what I'm actually saying and find a way to curb your tendency to read into everything I've said to suit your prejudices. I don't know you and you don't know me. But I know what you've written and I try to limit my discussion to the actual substance of your posts.
Quote:

Originally posted by kpo:
Wow. I’ll be honest, and admit that you’ve caught me by surprise with this move HK. After vehemently backing up the claim that Jesus was a homosexual, I never saw it coming that you would then argue the case that Jesus never existed. Perhaps you believe both points are true?

What? I didn't "vehemently" back up the claim that Jesus was a homosexual, I simply asserted that there is respectable scholarship to back it up. Respectable scholarship doesn't mean conclusive proof. And just because I find the scholarship respectable doesn't mean I agree with it. There's also respectable scholarship suggesting that Jesus was married and that He survived the Crucifixion. Doesn't mean He did. I was defending the scholarship as sincere in the face of accusations that for one to assert that Jesus was homosexual was patently defamatory. I simply meant to say that there's a case to be made; that the position is sincere and not defamatory.

And I'm not arguing that Jesus did not exist, either, only that you cannot determine that He existed from the historical record. Our certainty about the past is limited. That's all. Saying that Jesus existed and saying that there's rock solid historical proof to back it up are two different things.
Quote:

No, *sigh*, I don’t think you agree with either one - you’re just being contrary. That, and picking a fight on a subject where you are very learned, but one which I’m not really interested in debating, I’m afraid.
I'm talking about the limits of evidentiary proof. Cartoon asserts that he has documented proof of Jesus' existence. I've studied that evidence and I didn't find it at all conclusive. Can it then be concluded that Jesus never existed? Not really. Only that proof of His life and His miracles have yet to be found.

And just so you get an idea of who I really am, I began my study of first century Christianity as the result of a series of dreams/memories I was having of the Crucifixion. Yeah. I have normal dreams like everyone else, but sometimes I've had dreams that come true; I've had vivid dreams of meeting people and then met them. Once I even had a dream about what kind of shoe I was going to buy (there's a lot of information on this board about my experiences, just look through the archives of the RWED for topics with the word "psychic" in them). So I began my study with the intention of finding evidence of an event for which I had no scientific proof (but no less compelling for that). I can't say that I was much surprised to find no conclusive evidence, but it made me sad.
Quote:

History is to some an extent an exact science, in that some things happened and some things didn’t (interpretation of historical events and their causes etc is another matter).
An exact science? Are you kidding me? Of course, certain things happened in the past and certain things did not, I don't dispute that. I don't believe that reality is nothing but oppinion. But History is often a lot like puting together a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle with 750 pieces missing. Sometimes the same piece looks like it would fit in several different places. We don't know, so we make a case. There are limits to scientific knowledge and there are all kinds of things about which history cannot give us certainty. And in history as in science, you don't get nearer to the truth without questioning.

Ancient historical texts are full of fanciful additions and mythological events treated as fact. People back then didn't have our modern obsession with veritical reality. To pretend that they did in order to "back up" our cherished notions is intelectually dishonest.
Quote:

For all your tolerance of different views, I suspect that creationism is one academically heterodox view that you wouldn’t be able to stomach in a physics professor’s lecture. Wouldn’t you suppose that that professor had some bias that was influencing him, and be upset about it? Well that’s what’s I’m saying in the case of the professor with the spurious view that Jesus was a homosexual – he has an anti-christian bias.
Look kpo, I believe there's a difference between science and religion. I agree with you that history is a science (though often extremely limited in its exactitude), which means that it is subject to rules of evidence and argumentation. I have no problem with someone believing in creationism, but if they start teaching it as science or as history, I want them to give me more than, well, the Bible says it's true. We call that "the argument from authority" and it just don't fly.

Also, creationism is a cosmological phenomenon while Jesus' sexual identity, like anyone's, is a simple fact of His nature. Certainly the ancients didn't think in terms of "homosexuality" or "heterosexuality." These terms only came into usage during the 19th century. So, no one is saying that Jesus went to gay bars and liked disco--but there is some evidence that his emotional attatchements to his disciples were stronger than modern notions of heterosexuality would account for and that the culture in which he lived was more tolerant of same sex unions than we are today. I have an old, dear friend who's Catholic and gay, who's done a lot of research on this. He's got a bunch of books on the subject. Just because I grant his position legitimacy, doesn't mean I have to agree with it. And nobody, in the sense that we can read their writings or dig up their bones, was there when God created Adam and Eve, if indeed that's what happened. On the contrary, there's a fossil record which suggests to some people that species developed over millions of years. That life may be derived from dead matter is proven every time we sit down to dinner, and we get the Reader's Digest version of the origin of species watching a fetus develope from single celled organism to baby.

My own take on the creationism/evolution thing is that they describe two different things entirely. The creation story is talking about our consciousness, about our spiritual natures. It suggests to me that there was a moment when human beings became aware as such, as if God touched Adam and man suddenly had an insight into his nature appart from the rest of the landscape. There is a corresponding moment in the life of every baby. It is experienced as a fall from grace. I don't believe that consciousness evolves in any Darwinian sense. I believe it exists ahistorically and in many ways atemporally and nonspacially. And yet it is there, like gravity, tugging on us all.

Evolution on the other hand describes our physical origins. Period. How matter developed and changed over time in physical space and eventually became a suitable vessel for consciousness such as we humans enjoy.

What class would you teach such theories in? I certainly wouldn't want it taught in a present day science class. Science has very little conclusively to say about consciousness. Next to nothing. To me, that says a lot about the limits of science. Many scentists have denied its existence outright. But I don't want science to deny its existence, and I don't want the stories we create to express our understanding of consciousness to be treated as science either.

Which leaves me in a pecular position. As I understand it, our brains have a scientific side and an intuitive side. The intuition tells us many things that are extremely important to our lives: who to trust, who to love, what path to follow, what places to avoid, what to believe. Science by contrast is very limited in scope. Science shows us nothing but mechanism. No consciousness, not even will. Human will is a matter of consciousness, outside the reach of present day science. Many scientists and philosophers doubt it even exists. I think that's crazy, but I'm not gonna say, "I have scientific proof that human will exists!" to refute them.

Further, I believe that science and intuition (call it mysticism) are destined to converge. One day science will find a way to measure consciousness, the soul, human causality. One day consciousness will wave back at us from the petri dish. But it doesn't yet.

When we find proof of Jesus' life and work, I want it to be proof, irrefutable. I want to show it to SignyM and I want SignyM to look at it a long time and say, "Golly, I had no idea." So far, none of us has that kinda proof and we really shouldn't pretend that we do.

HKCavalier

Hey, hey, hey, don't be mean. We don't have to be mean, because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 4:37 AM

EVILMIKE


Here is a news story that is relavent to this issue. It looks like a good example of the unfair treatment that religious people sometimes face on campus.


Quote:

Originally posted on the FIRE website:
Mystery Shrouds Brown’s Suspension of Religious Student Organization

Today’s press release explains how Brown University suspended one of its largest and most active religious student organizations for reasons that remain unclear. The Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life (OCRL) suspended the evangelical Christian ministry of Trinity Presbyterian Church on September 13, 2006.

OCRL Director Janet Cooper Nelson explained that she suspended the group because its local sponsoring body, Trinity Presbyterian Church, had revoked its sponsorship. But Trinity’s senior pastor, David Sherwood, corrected Cooper Nelson in an e-mail by saying that “Trinity Presbyterian Church has not, in any sense, withdrawn its sponsorship.” Trinity is one of the 1,500 congregations of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), which has a strong history of ministering to college students, and, as Rev. Sherwood explains to FIRE, greatly values its association with the Brown students.

The OCRL’s Allen Callahan then explained that the group had actually been suspended since last year, when its former leader failed to submit paperwork on time. Except the group didn’t know about any suspension last year, and was able to reserve rooms for meeting throughout the year. Unless there was some secret suspension in place, Callahan’s claim seems to be false.

Since the first two explanations for the suspension don’t hold water, the suspension rests on Callahan’s claim that the group has “become possessed of a leadership culture of contempt and dishonesty.” But what does that even mean? The students were also confounded by Callahan’s accusations, and sent his office a letter asking for clarification about its “culture of contempt and dishonesty,” but received no response.

So, in short, the OCRL suspended a group, pointed to two explanations that are at best mistakes (and at worst deliberate misrepresentations), and then hurled vague and unverifiable accusations at the group. The documentation shows nothing but a good-faith effort by the students to get the suspension lifted. But all one has to do is read Callahan’s e-mail carefully to see that it has been the OCRL that has acted arbitrarily and, dare I say, dishonestly, suspending the group based on what seems to be personal animosity dating back to past years.

Student groups—religious or otherwise—should not exist at the mercy of administrative caprice, especially at America’s most venerable institutions. Brown University encourages its students to forge their own path, famously telling them that at Brown, “you will be challenged to define liberal education for yourself.” But students whose definition includes membership in this evangelical Christian fellowship are just out of luck.

In response to FIRE’s October 27 letter, Brown says it will look into the situation. That is little consolation for the 100 students who are not allowed to meet on campus. The message that Brown is sending its students is that their associative rights rest at the discretion of a few administrators; displease the wrong people, and you might find your group mysteriously suspended.

Posted by Tara Sweeney on November 16, 2006, at 01:51 p.m.


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Thursday, November 30, 2006 6:16 AM

HKCAVALIER


Quote:

Originally posted by evilmike:
Here is a news story that is relavent to this issue. It looks like a good example of the unfair treatment that religious people sometimes face on campus.

This is the problem. Folks believe in Jesus. So when they find specious evidence of His historical existence, they say to themselves, "Ah, see, there it is! Proof!" Folks like that are looking for validation and find it.

So you find a case where a religious student organization is suspended and because you already believe religious students are persecuted on campus, you take this case as further evidence. It might be, but it's entirely likely that it is not. This article is really far too self-serving to FIRE and too full of holes. And yet it's posted as "an example" of Christian persecution on campus.

I worry that the whole of American discourse has been entirely made over in the image of partisan politics. Critical thinking has been replaced by mere team spirit. People endorse anyone who agrees with them in the broadest terms and trash everyone who disagrees with their "platform." Everything becomes a matter of winning and losing and numbers. I'm right because the people that I cite agree with me.



HKCavalier

Hey, hey, hey, don't be mean. We don't have to be mean, because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 7:33 AM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by SignyM:
No, but my point is that there are OTHER texts just as old with contradictory statements. Out of the multiple threads of documentation that head off in all kinds of directions, some of which contradict others, if you restrict your study to a single line that talks about the divinity of Jesus it will perforce be internally consistent.


Hi. Thanks for clarifying.

Okay, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree with your statement about "other texts just as old with contradictory statements" -- unless, of course you're referring to the type of "variations" I was speaking about previously (tense, gender, different word with same meaning, miscopied phrase or sentence in a different location).

In an effort to give the best overview I can (using the least amount of words) regarding the earliest, surviving manuscripts of the New Testament, from which our English (and other language) translations are derived...

Firstly, the Received Text (Greek). This was compiled in the early 16th century from what (at the time) were relatively few, of the oldest Greek manuscripts known at that time. Over the years, many critics have claimed this text to be of late Byzantine origin. However, this is obviously a false allegation, as there are close to 90,000 scriptural citations from this text within early Christian documents -- more than 4,000 of which were quoted in the writings of the earliest of church fathers before 400 AD, well before the Byzantine era.

The Papyrus Bodmer II or P66 (dated from between 125 & 200 A.D. -- initial dating had it closer to 200 A.D., but more recent dating pushes it back towards the first quarter of the second century) is a Greek manuscript consisting of (portions of) the book of John. It is the oldest (or one of the oldest) suriving Greek texts from the New Testament -- and it is in agreement with the Received Text.

Incidentally, this is yet another thorn in the side Bible critics, who, for years, have been insisting that many of the disputed passages in John were attributed to the work of late Byzantine copyists. However, as this papyrus pre-dates the Byzantine era, and these passages appear in this papyrus (which agrees with the Textus Receptus), that criticism has been pretty much been shot down in flames.)

The Old Syrian Text (called the "Peshitta") (which is in Aramaic) first dates from c. 150 AD. It is assumed that this text was translated from the Greek Received Text, as it is in agreement it.

The Old Latin Text (the "Old" Latin Vulgate -- not Jerome's, the other one -- three centuries prior to Jerome's) first dates from 157 AD, and was also likely translated from the Greek Received Text, as it is also in agreement with it -- as evidenced by a number of quotations from it (The Old Latin text) by the early church fathers.

The Gothic Text, first dates from c. 350 AD, and is similarly assumed to have been translated from the Greek Received Text, as it is also in agreement with it.

The Latin Vulgate was translated by Jerome in the 5th century.

The Majority (or Byzantine-type) Text is obviously of later, Byzantine origin. Although, the majority of New Testament texts fall into this category, there are no citations from it from the early church fathers (that would be difficult, as it didn't exist at the time).

To quote from Wikipedia...

Quote:

Among those who believe that the Byzantine text is only a secondary witness to the autograph, there is some debate concerning the origin of the Byzantine text and the reason for its widespread use. The suggestions that have been put forward are:

1) That Lucian of Antioch used his text critical skills to produce a recension. (Jerome makes separate references to Lucian's recensions of both old and new testaments).

2) That Constantine paid for the wide distribution of manuscripts which came from a common source. (There are several references in Eusebius of Caesarea to Constantine paying for manuscript production).

3) That after the Roman Empire stopped using Greek, and because of Muslim invasion, the only church to actively preserve the Greek text was the Byzantine church, which exercised central control from the Apostolic See of Antioch and withstood the Muslims until the 15th century.


However, regardless as to whether the Majority Text is a later (possibly altered) text (which it obviously has to be, given quotations made from Received Text within the first four centuries, and that there was no Byzantine type prior to that), even so -- the variations between the Majority and Received texts (as I have repeatedly stated) are minimal at best.

The Wikipedia article also attests to this, as follows...

Quote:

Many of the 69 disagreements involve differences in word order and other variants that do not appear as translatable differences in English versions. According to the preface to the New King James Version of the Bible, the Textus Receptus, the Alexandrian text-type and the Byzantine text-type are 85% identical (that is, of the variations that occur in any manuscript, only 15% actually differ between these three).

As I've stated previously, the vast, vast, vast majority of variations in texts are minor -- singular/plural, gender, tense, etc; different word with same meaning; miscopying of a phrase or sentence in a different location. With the exception of probably 4 or 5 paragraphs in the whole of the New Testament (none of which alter doctrine in the least), that's it.

That's why I can't understand why there are those out there who seem to want to say that the New Testament manuscripts are so divergent that we can't know what's authentic and what isn't. Among all of the surviving, original-languaged manuscripts, the variations are minimal, even where they do exist (which is few and far between).

Any good study Bible translation (like the several translations I use) footnote each and every single textual variance (and list the variant readings right there on the same page). I emphasize translation, as "paraphrases" (while sweet and easy to understand) are just that -- paraphrases, and not translations from the original languages. (I loathe paraphrases. Can't you tell?)

Which reliable translations can I recommend? NKJV, NASB and ESV are all good, accurate translations (not paraphrases) of the original languages. All are translated into easy-to-understand, contemporary English. The NASB may be the more difficult in reading, however, as it is probably the most "literal" translation from the original languages -- as Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek don't translate directly all that well into English.

Also, good study Bibles (like those I've used) show where words have been added to the text for the sake of clarity by italicizing them. That way, you never have to guess which words actually appeared in the original tongues, and which were added (for the sake of clarity). One example of words added for clarity...

Mark 10:27 (NKJV) -- But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

As indicated from the passage above, the words it is do not appear in the Greek. They are added in English for clarity. They obviously do not change the meaning of the sentence, but it would read awkwardly in English without them.

To sumarize, the ancient Greek manuscripts have minor variations. There is nothing earth-shattering about those variations. They are quite old (some going back to the early 2nd century), and were quoted widely by the early church fathers of that period. Any good study Bible translation from the original tongues will footnote every single manuscript variation, and also indicate which words were added for clarity.

I don't think you can ask for better ancient manuscript authenticity than that.

I'd be more worried about which translation you read, than whether or not the original manuscripts were correct. No other work from antiquity has the manuscript integrity of the New Testament. Not one.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 7:44 AM

EVILMIKE


Quote:

So you find a case where a religious student organization is suspended and because you already believe religious students are persecuted on campus, you take this case as further evidence. It might be, but it's entirely likely that it is not. This article is really far too self-serving to FIRE and too full of holes. And yet it's posted as "an example" of Christian persecution on campus.


Actually, you're correct -- I jumped to an unsupported conclusion. It is a Christian organization that is being treated oddly (unfairly?) by a liberal university, but there isn't an established cause-and-effect.

However, it isn't hard to find other recent examples of this type of problem. For example: Emily Booker's recent difficulty at the University of Missouri. (Detail here -- http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,227964,00.html) Or the recent University of Wisconsin ban on RA religious activities in dorms (initially applied to Bible Studies and then widened.) ( http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/6899.html)

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 7:54 AM

CARTOON


I am beginning to think I was initially correct in my allegation of bias (for which I had subsequently apologized).

Even if thousands of examples of bias against Christians were to be produced here (and I hope they aren't, because this thread is already too long for me -- dial-up, folks, sorry), still people would refuse to believe it because they don't want to believe it.

I see the bias in my life everyday. I see it in our local schools, in our local newspapers, I see it on TV, on the radio. I see it here in this forum.

People can deny it all they want. It exists, and anyone with eyes to see can tell as much.

Unfortunately, I don't have a search engine in my brain where I can instantly recall every bit of information I've observed or heard in my life-time (complete with footnotes), or I'd be able to produce more examples than could fill this forum.

Likewise, I don't have the time (nor inclination) to footnote everything I observe (or hear) from this point forward, in an effort to try to convince people that such prejudice exists, who (very frankly) would never concede to the fact if it jumped up and slapped them in the face.

Thanks, all, for participating, but this is flogging a dead horse.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 8:51 AM

SOUPCATCHER


cartoon, I hope you'll stick around long enough to answer a few simple questions.

Do you believe that Christianity should be the official religion of the United States of America?

Do you believe that the government (federal on down to local) should help convert people to a particular religion?

In other words, Separation of Church and State: Yes or No?

On, and just for my own personal interest, do you consider yourself a member of a particular Christian denomination? I've been playing around with this theory that many Americans are working to weaken the separation of church and state in an effort to make Christianity the official religion of the United States. But it would never stop there. You'd have Protestants angling to kick out the Catholics, and everyone else banding together to get rid of the Mormons, until it got down to the strongest denomination. In my opinion, that denomination would be the Southern Baptist Convention. At which point we would have an American inquisition. So, by my way of thinking, if you're not a Southern Baptist (or another large denomination that has a shot at taking ultimate power), then you're working for the elimination of your own denomination.

* edit to change a few words

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 9:21 AM

STORYMARK


I actually have to agree with Cartoon on that last point. I agree that there is a growing Bias against evangelical Christians.

But I belive the Bias is earned. For years Evangelicals have been expecting everyone to do as they do, and hold their religion above all others.

A timely example of this would be the outcry against newly elected Muslim Rep. Kieth Ellison, whom evangelicals are angry with for refusing to take his oath on a Bible, and instead on a Koran. They say he should not be allowed to serve if he will not swear on the Bible - despite the fact that useing a Bible, or any book, is not required by the Constitution.

The anti-christian vibe these days, as I see it, is a direct response to that mentality.

"I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him."

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 10:11 AM

SOUPCATCHER


Storymark,

I agree about the, "direct response," part. And this has been said numerous times by others in this thread.

There is a movement to weaken, if not entirely eliminate, the separation of church and state in the US. Cartoon, from what I have read of his/her posts, subscribes to that view point. I personally think the greatest protection for members of organized religion in this country is a strong separation between church and state. So I will fight any and all attempts to weaken that protection.

If someone sees it as their God directed goal to tear down the wall between church and state, and they are impeded from furthering that agenda, and then they cry out that they are being biased against is that really bias?

What you have to realize is that any attempt to slow down this movement to eliminate the separation of church and state will be seen as bias. It is hugely important for this movement to be perceived as victims. "How come you won't let the public schools teach our children what we believe?" instead of "How come you won't let the public schools teach your children what we believe?"

It's all about a power grab. Leaders like James Dobson see the federal government as a great aid to help them in converting tens of millions to their beliefs. They neglect hundreds of years of history showing what happens when church and state are united. The founding fathers were a lot closer to the Thirty Years War then we are. Maybe we should pay more attention to why they were so strongly supportive of a separation of church and state.



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Thursday, November 30, 2006 10:21 AM

STORYMARK


I agree 100% Soupcatcher.

"I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him."

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 11:41 AM

ANTIMASON


Quote:

posted by SoupCatchercartoon

Do you believe that Christianity should be the official religion of the United States of America?



it depends on what you mean by that. would i prefer that America represented Jesus christ honorably to the rest of the world, then yes. i dont see anything harmfull in Jesus' message, its actually a revelation.. and i think its more of a mindset and less a traditional institutionalized "religion" per se. marrying the physical world with Jesus' meesage only creates problems and prohibits free will, which was never Jesus' intentions

the key is that this world, as Jesus himself says, is ruled by Lucifer; he is the God of this age. Jesus says many times "as it is, you do not belong to this world*", that "in this world* you will have trouble", but most of all "my kingdom is not of this world*." America is arguably the world superpower, so some compromises had to be made(and thats why i believe America may be Babylon the Great of Rev.) it doesnt matter what i want, the bible says that this age culminates in the global government of antichrist(which is why the sybolism is critical). the all seeing eye, the washington obelisk, the numerous pyramids and occultic iconographic geometrical shapes are directly linked to Egypt- who had a distinct pantheon of gods which to us were Lucifer and his fallen angels... or more appropriately 'pagan' and occultic

Quote:

Do you believe that the government (federal on down to local) should help convert people to a particular religion?


those are some really loaded questions...but you mean like the Federal government does with evolution? this religion teaches that man is his own god, that he made himself alive by choice billions of years ago when he was a lifeless rock. the really overt gnostic relations becomes apparent when you fastforward to the concept of mans eventual progressive evolution into a perfect godlike entity no longer recognizably human. people can believe that if they want, its expected in this age.. but acknowledge that its a religion and stop mandating it federally.

youre afraid of christianity.. you need to worry about the government and what its already pushing, which is.. evolution. you need to recognize that the people who make the money run the world, and they have for millennia associated themselves with the Egpytian, luciferian mysteries of the ancient world.. that Masonry and gnostic-evolution have since idealogically propogated. christians should know that until Jesus comes, the earth is ruled by Lucifer.. so any christian protecting the interests of this world* is then working for the antichrist- and conversely anyone working to bury and oppose Jesus' message are doing so aswell.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 11:42 AM

SOUPCATCHER


I wanted to add a little bit more on this topic.

There has been some discussion online (Andrew Sullivan, Ann Althouse, Glenn Greenwald et al.) about the use of the term Christianist. I agree with the overall goal that we need to differentiate between those who follow Christ (Christians) and those who want to use the power of the state to force others to become Christians (Christianists).

Christianists are a very vocal minority of Christians. An even smaller minority would be Christianists who use violence (abortion clinic bombers, etc.). What Christianists have been very effective in doing is to equate any opposition to Christianism as opposition to Christianity. Which is definitely not the case.

So when someone claims anti-Christian bias I think it is very important to actually determine if it is instead anti-Christianism. The vast majority of Christians, in my opinion, oppose Christianism. And it is very important that prominent Christian leaders stand up and say, "You will not try to tear down the separation of church and state in our name."

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 11:54 AM

STORYMARK


Quote:

Originally posted by antimason:
Quote:

posted by SoupCatchercartoon

Do you believe that Christianity should be the official religion of the United States of America?



it depends on what you mean by that. would i prefer that America represented Jesus christ honorably to the rest of the world, then yes. i dont see anything harmfull in Jesus' message, its actually a revelation.. and i think its more of a mindset and less a traditional institutionalized "religion" per se. marrying the physical world with Jesus' meesage only creates problems and prohibits free will, which was never Jesus' intentions

the key is that this world, as Jesus himself says, is ruled by Lucifer; he is the God of this age. Jesus says many times "as it is, you do not belong to this world*", that "in this world* you will have trouble", but most of all "my kingdom is not of this world*." America is arguably the world superpower, so some compromises had to be made(and thats why i believe America may be Babylon the Great of Rev.) it doesnt matter what i want, the bible says that this age culminates in the global government of antichrist(which is why the sybolism is critical). the all seeing eye, the washington obelisk, the numerous pyramids and occultic iconographic geometrical shapes are directly linked to Egypt- who had a distinct pantheon of gods which to us were Lucifer and his fallen angels... or more appropriately 'pagan' and occultic

Quote:

Do you believe that the government (federal on down to local) should help convert people to a particular religion?


those are some really loaded questions...but you mean like the Federal government does with evolution? this religion teaches that man is his own god, that he made himself alive by choice billions of years ago when he was a lifeless rock. the really overt gnostic relations becomes apparent when you fastforward to the concept of mans eventual progressive evolution into a perfect godlike entity no longer recognizably human. people can believe that if they want, its expected in this age.. but acknowledge that its a religion and stop mandating it federally.

youre afraid of christianity.. you need to worry about the government and what its already pushing, which is.. evolution. you need to recognize that the people who make the money run the world, and they have for millennia associated themselves with the Egpytian, luciferian mysteries of the ancient world.. that Masonry and gnostic-evolution have since idealogically propogated. christians should know that until Jesus comes, the earth is ruled by Lucifer.. so any christian protecting the interests of this world* is then working for the antichrist- and conversely anyone working to bury and oppose Jesus' message are doing so aswell.



Reading your stuff tips me more towards atheism every time I read it.

"I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him."

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 12:00 PM

RAZZA


Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
There is a movement to weaken, if not entirely eliminate, the separation of church and state in the US. Cartoon, from what I have read of his/her posts, subscribes to that view point. I personally think the greatest protection for members of organized religion in this country is a strong separation between church and state. So I will fight any and all attempts to weaken that protection.



I hope you are wrong on this issue. I don't see any viable concerted effort to eliminate church and state separations. There are obviously some who would like to see that, but I don't think they have any real ability to impact actual change to do so. If they did, believe me, there would be many conservatives such as myself right by your side opposing such measures.

Do you have examples of such efforts coming to successful fruition in recent years?

-----------------
"There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration."
---Andrew Carnegie

"Doing research on the Web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly."
---Roger Ebert

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 12:29 PM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
cartoon, I hope you'll stick around long enough to answer a few simple questions.


Sure. BTW, I just have one question to ask you, if I may. If you ever shaved, would you have to change your name? Okay. Nevermind.

Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
Do you believe that Christianity should be the official religion of the United States of America?


Absolutely not. I don't believe there should be any "official" religion anywhere. I can't speak for what other people believe, but the Bible is clear that belief in God cannot be mandated, it must be willingly embraced, or else one is just going through the motions. As it can't be forced, obviously I do not believe in forcing anyone into it. Duh.

I do believe in being able to present one's beliefs and leave it there. If someone is interested and asks questions, answer them. If they don't, leave it alone. (There is Biblical precedence for this view. Jesus told His followers to declare the gospel, but if it were rejected, to brush the dust from their feet and move on. Unfortunately, some people who follow the Lord seem to think they can force people to believe as they do. They can't. I don't. I won't.

I will, however, defend the manuscript authenticity of the scriptures as well as what the scriptures say, and do not very well tolerate those who attempt to twist them or create facts about their origins which are simply untrue.

Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
Do you believe that the government (federal on down to local) should help convert people to a particular religion?


Absolutely not -- for the same reason I gave to your previous question.

Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
In other words, Separation of Church and State: Yes or No?


Absolutely, yes.

I believe that in recent decades that the U.S. Constitution has been severely twisted in this regard, however. I do believe in strict enforcement of the First Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

A child reading from the Bible in a classroom, however, is not Congress establishing a religion. A teacher reading from the Bible in a classroom, likewise is is not Congress establishing a religion. Prohibiting a child or a teacher from reading the Bible in a classroom is, however, "prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

Somehow, our courts have either failed basic competency tests, or they have chosen to ignore what's written and wing it as they go along.

Yes, the government should not sanction a religion -- any religion. Yes, the government should not prohibit the free exercise, thereof.

I can't recall anytime in my lifetime where the government (specifically "Congress" -- as the Constitution clearly states) attempted to establish a religion. However, I have frequently seen the government (via the courts) attempt to prohibit the free exercise, thereof.

Let me ask you a question, sir. (BTW, I'm a male, too. My bio clearly states as much.) Do you think that the posting of the "Ten Commandments" in front of a court house qualifies as Congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion? If so, why? Thank you.

Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
On, and just for my own personal interest, do you consider yourself a member of a particular Christian denomination?


No. I believe the Bible is the final authority, not any particular denomination, pastor, priest, or assembly.

To add some background to all this, my father was a Catholic (non-practicing). My mother was a Baptist. I was baptised Catholic, raised Baptist (until 9), then Presbyterian (until 14), then United Methodist (until 18), then Primitive Methodist (until 24) -- received the Lord as my Savior (around the age of 25), and have attended independent, non-demoninational worship ever since.

So, as you can see, I've been around the block.

Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
* edit to change a few words


I often do that, myself. I find spelling and grammatical mistakes, then try to correct them. Sometimes, it also occurs to me that what I've said makes no sense (okay, more than "sometimes"), so I re-word it for the sake of clarity.

Quote:

Originally posted by Storymark:
* But I belive the Bias is earned. For years Evangelicals have been expecting everyone to do as they do, and hold their religion above all others.


There may be some (who expect everyone to do as they do), but I personally do not know a single one.

I've attended large Christian assemblies and gatherings of every kind over the past 20 years (since I've been a believer), and I have yet to meet one believer who wants to force their beliefs on anyone else.

Yes, we want people to know the gospel, but we realize that you can't force someone to #1) read it, #2) understand it, #3) accept it. We can only tell them how it changed our lives, then hope that the Lord will guide them through the parts we can't do.

Why do we want people to know about the gospel? Firstly, because the Lord commanded His followers to declare the gospel to the whole world (just declare it -- not force it down people throats -- see above paragraph, related to this). Also, because it has changed our lives for the better, and naturally we want to let people know about it, hoping they will benefit from it as well.

When something good happens to you, you generally want others to know about and experience it, too, don't you? Much in the same way that people in this group (nearly every one of us) want people to know about "Serenity" or "Firefly".

As a rule, there seems to be a great misconception about evangelicals -- particularly this idea that we want to "force" our beliefs on others -- which is contrary to everything we believe (as I've stated above, in response to SoupCatcher).

I think that, in some part due to this misconception, evangelicals are maligned by the media (and world in general) -- hence, this thread about the double-standard Miss Nye faces at her university.

We do expect it, however. And it really doesn't come as a surprise to any of us, that the world (at large) frowns upon the message and the messengers -- at the very least, ridiculing us --to the other extreme (as in many cases throughout history, and even in present times -- in certain places) imprisoning, torturing and killing, simply because they're Christian.

Jesus said as much would happen. The book of Acts also shows how the Apostle Paul (who had formerly hated and persecuted believers, himself -- yes, even delivering them over to be killed) had the tables turned on him when he suddenly became a believer, then faced persecution, himself -- eventually being martyred for the faith outside of Rome.

History of the first three centuries shows the visciousness of the many state-organized persecutions, tortures and murders of believers who refused to recant their faith in face of the almost unbelievable attrocities commited upon their families and themselves.

Quote:

Originally posted by Storymark:
A timely example of this would be the outcry against newly elected Muslim Rep. Kieth Ellison, whom evangelicals are angry with for refusing to take his oath on a Bible, and instead on a Koran. They say he should not be allowed to serve if he will not swear on the Bible - despite the fact that useing a Bible, or any book, is not required by the Constitution.


I heard about this on the radio today.

Firstly, I do not believe in swearing on anything. There is no precedence for it in scripture. I don't know where it originated, but I don't think it's necessary. Obviously, it would be inane for someone who does not believe the Bible to swear on it, as their oath would mean nothing. Duh.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are liars, and their word means nothing. Hence all this silly "swearing" business. "Yes" should mean yes, and "no" should mean no. Something shouldn't be more true because you held your hand on something which was of value to you.

Silly, silly, silly.

I do have to take issue with this "evangelicals are angry" commment, though, Storymark. Which evangelicals? Or is this just a term that someone in the media threw at someone who doesn't agree with Ellison, without knowing what they're talking about. Has a specific Evangelical spokesman (who, btw, doesn't speak for me) made a statement against this? If one has, have they given a reason? I'd be curious to read it, because (as I said previously) I think it's silly to force someone to hold their hand onto any object which has no value to them and swear to anything. The whole concept is ridiculous in my opinion.

Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
Leaders like James Dobson see the federal government as a great aid to help them in converting tens of millions to their beliefs.


I have to disagree with this. Dobson gets a lot of bad press -- most of it, undeserved. Firstly, let me ask in all seriousness, do you get your information about Dobson from Dobson, or from some other source (which is likely taking him entirely out of context)?

If you're getting your information from Dobson directly, and you disagree with it, fine. You're entitled to do so, and I stand by your right to disagree with him as much as you'd like. However, don't believe everything you read about him in the press. Most of it is twisted.

BTW, I'm not endorsing Dobson. There is no single person on earth with whom I fully agree. (I doubt there's any single person on earth with whom anyone fully agrees.) However, I do espouse most of what I've heard him say (or write) -- and naturally, I haven't heard everything he's said or written, but I can only speak about that which I have heard.

From what I've heard and read about Dobson, he (like me) believes fully in the First Amendment. As I stated above, that the government shouldn't endorse religion (which it isn't), nor prohibit the free exercise of (which it is). Like me (and many other evangelicals) he is upset because of the double-standard -- the same double-standard which prompted me to start this thread in the first place, which is very real, and does exist (as even my good friend, Storymark has concurred). (Sorry, Storymark, you'll probably be burned in effigy now for be linked with me in any manner whatsoever.)

Just because we (evangelicals) want to be treated with the same standard as people who profess other beliefs, doesn't mean we want it "our way or the highway". If you've forgotten my initial paragraphs (above), please re-read them -- the bits about "you can't force anyone to believe". I (nor any evangelical I personally know) do not want to force anyone to do anything -- except treat us without hypocrisy. If you prohibit the Bible in school, there better not be a Koran there, either. If you permit the Koran, there'd better be a Bible. Equity. That's all. Nothing more, nothing less.

Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
They neglect hundreds of years of history showing what happens when church and state are united. The founding fathers were a lot closer to the Thirty Years War then we are. Maybe we should pay more attention to why they were so strongly supportive of a separation of church and state.


The reason it seems like evangelicals are making a stink about the hypocrisy is because for decades evangelicals sat by and did nothing. They allowed this inequity to take hold, and said nothing. Now that it's blaring in our faces, and we're protesting the unfair, hypocritical treatment we're receiving, those who disagree with us are accusing us of trying to get "our way". Respectfully, that's nonsense. We just want a fair slate. Is that too much to ask for?

BTW, I have dial-up. Please, be merciful. If you'd like to continue this thread, start it anew, so I don't have to wait several decades for it to load on my computer. Thanks.

P.S. If this post is full of errors, my apologies. It's rather lengthy, and I haven't had the time to proof-read it. I actually have a job, and I have an appointment this evening, so it'll have to wait (for proofing) until (Lord willing) sometime tomorrow afternoon. Thank you for you patience.

P.S. This thread has been continued elsewhere. Please, redirect any replies, comments and/or insults here: http://www.fireflyfans.net/thread.asp?b=18&t=25599

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 12:32 PM

SOUPCATCHER


Quote:

Originally posted by Razza:
Do you have examples of such efforts coming to successful fruition in recent years?


Hi Razza,
Just off the top of my head, "Veterans' Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act of 2006" which passed the House in September (and is hanging around in the Senate). It's an attempt to make Establishment Clause lawsuits much more difficult. It's pretty much the same thing as PERA 2005, which is talked about in this article: http://writ.lp.findlaw.com/hamilton/20060629.html
Quote:

excerpted from above link:
...
The big picture here is very informative if one wants to understand what is really happening. As I discussed in my last column, there has been an intense drive by religious entities, especially recently, to obtain financial benefits from the government..

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), for instance, gives religious landowners a new right to sue local government, attorneys' fees to do it, and a legal tool that permits them to use less expensive land for more intense uses. In short, it directly enriches religious entities. The flipside of this strategy is represented by PERA - which takes damages and attorneys' fees (and thus, effectively, the right to sue) away from those who would enforce the Establishment Clause prohibition on religious entities co-opting the government to deliver their message. So much for level playing fields.

Surely, it is clear that this is an era of religion's power grab, and as with all power ploys, it always pays to look for the money trail. The Clinton Administration set the stage for the transfer of wealth to religious entities, and the Bush Administration has finished the construction of a new Age of Establishment.
...


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Thursday, November 30, 2006 1:02 PM

CARTOON


Quote:

Originally posted by SoupCatcher:
Just off the top of my head, "Veterans' Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act of 2006" which passed the House in September (and is hanging around in the Senate). It's an attempt to make Establishment Clause lawsuits much more difficult.


Hi, Soup.

Do you honestly believe that when Veteran's memorials, the Boy Scouts, Public Seals or other public expressions name "God" that such is the government establishing a religion?

Please, tell me you don't. Please.

There are people who do believe that such remarks are unconstitutional, and to that I reply, "please, learn how to read" or (at the very least) "please, learn how to comprehend what you read."

The government paying for a statue that has "God" inscribed somewhere on it, is not the government establishing a religion by any stretch of a sane person's imagination. If they want to know what real government-established religion is -- go to Iran, or Saudi Arabia. They should try reading about Europe during the Middle Ages, or even the Roman Empire (when they were using Christians as nightlights because they wouldn't offer meat to a statue of Jupiter).

Those were government-established religions. Putting the word "God" on a statue is not. Allowing the Boy Scouts to mention "God" in a pledge, is not.

It's the people who don't want the word "God" or "Jesus" to appear in (or on) anything which receives government money that are making other people try to pass to laws to prohibit the courts from interfering in their free right to the expression of their faith.

While we disagree on some issues, you seem to be a very reasonable person, so I'd genuinely like your opinion on this. I don't know where you personally stand on this, sir, so please, honestly tell me if you think that putting the word "God" on a statue is in violation of the First Amendment. And, if so, how you come to that reason. I ask this seriously, as (for the life of me) I cannot see it how it does.

Thank you.

P.S. This thread has been continued elsewhere. Please, redirect any replies, comments and/or insults here: http://www.fireflyfans.net/thread.asp?b=18&t=25599

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