Is Christianity bad for society?
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12-11-2010, 09:01 AM
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
Cargo Cult, how gods and religions appear

When I think of the Yeshua/Yeshu/Jesus myth, I remind myself that this is only a 2000 year old cult history. One that labels itself the, "Judeo" Christian religion. Meaning the Jewish myths preceded that of the Christian, when it was compiled.

And it was compiled, as it's holy book contains both the Hebrew Old Testament that promised a Messiah, and the New Testament that tells the story of his arrival. So that the NT in effect is the sequel to what the chosen people had looked for all their lives. And that means there was a narrative preceding the New Testament. One which, foretold of how a true savior would be identified, what would transpire at his arrival, etc... So in effect, to give hope unto the hopeless, and become the predominant faith in the region at the time of Roman rule of virtually the whole world, what better way than to insure the subjugation of body, mind and spirit of all people enslaved, than to forward to them salvation from their condition?

Remember,the early faith began as an oral tradition. And that meant, as with all oral traditions, that it was a keen remembrance of all things related to it, that would then pass from person to person and generation to generation.
Also, Constantine was responsible for making Christianity legal, at the time of his occupation of the Roman territories. And Rome, would certainly have in it's vast control knowledge of all myths of the conquered people within it's dominion. (Not to forget the Alexandrian Library before it burned).
What if...

The Jesus Narrative In The Talmud

One of the surest ways to placate the hopeless with hope, was to create a savior for all people? To make a composite of the Jewish Savior, and relate that to the Pagan god's and goddesses that were also known in the territories at the time, so that it appears one power has arrived to save all people. And all people can relate to that, because the pagans at the time would simply see the "new" god as something they can relate to because of all of the attributes he has that are like unto the god they've worshiped for generations? And the goddess, Mary, is too.

And all the wars, the crusades, the conversions, the persecutions, that was open warfare for not only conquests of territories, but slaves required also the subjugation of minds, who once enslaved would seek out emancipation in faith? Which would explain why Pagan religions were persecuted once the printed word, and the official Pauline church was established, so as to bring total control to Rome in myth and politic?

Sun of God (Video)

Just something to ponder.
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12-11-2010, 09:36 AM (This post was last modified: 12-11-2010 10:00 AM by TheSixthGlass.)
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
Fun topic. Here's a few thoughts from me (sorry for the long post but there's a few areas of interest here):

Regarding whether Christianity or religion is good or bad for society, I would really say that so much (if not all) of the "good" it does is done in spite of the religious teachings, and that most of (if not all) of the good that people do rises up from a combination of their upbringing, empathy, and internal instinct. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens' challenge: name one good thing done in the name of religion that could not be achieved through secular means.

I mean, take humanitarian aid for example. One thing I'll never understand is these Christian organizations that help homeless people or poor people in famine and drought-stricken countries who claim that these people need help. They "cry out for hope" and "will you answer the call?" and things of that nature. My question is: why does God not answer their call? Why leave this hope and help up to fallible people who might be stopped by lack of funding, or interference from government, or any other number of problems? Wouldn't the best way for God to show his love be for him to send rain, or grow a peach tree, and then oh I don't know SHOW UP and tell these people that he loves them and wants to help them? I know, you can say that God works through his people but that seems pretty lazy for a being who can do ANYTHING.

The bottom line is that religious followers read what they want to from their texts. They bring their own interpretations and biases and morals to the text and apply them without even realizing it. You can state that the Bible says "be good x" here and "equality y" there, which in some ways and interpretations, it does. The problem is it also says "discriminate x" here, and "y is an abomination" there, and contradicts itself. The metaphor card is used so often as well, or the parable card, but why couldn't God/Jesus be more clear? Why did he need to use a violent metaphor that could be "misinterpreted?" Jesus/God is an extremely poor and vague communicator.
(09-11-2010 06:32 AM)2buckchuck Wrote:  GK's information-laden post is a really good reason why I enjoy participating in this forum. It's a place where ideas are challenged, and ignorance is banished, to be replaced by knowledge. If christianity were to disappear magically tomorrow, I'm pretty sure something would come along to take its place. The face of ignorance can take on many forms, but the substance remains the same. Fundy flakes are all brothers and sisters under the skin. Many humans seek to be lead, rather than taking personal responsibility for making reasoned choices. Ignorance is far easier ...

If not christianity, it would be something else.

Indeed. Which is why so much of the New Age laden spiritual Secret woo runs rampant in our country. More and more people might be leaving Christianity and organized religion, but often it's not because of education or critical thinking. Which leaves someone ripe to pick up anything else that comes along. I've got a facebook friend who constantly posts new-agey spiritual type stuff, along with lots of anti-organized religion stuff, and it really almost drives me more bonkers than the fundy religious stuff. At least fundamentalists and evangelicals claim to base their beliefs on a text or "fact." These spiritualists just make it up as they go. It seems to be based entirely on emotions.
On to the historicity of Jesus. To claim that most historians agree that Jesus existed and performed miracles (or "amazing feats") is simply not true. Not to mention some of the "miracles" sound like nothing more than parlor tricks. Water in to wine? Wow. I can make a quarter disappear too. And I just learned that a week ago.

To quote Matt Dillahunty from an episode of Non-Prophets (my own transcript):

Matt Dillahunty Wrote:"Here are the facts: there are no contemporary extra-bibilcal accounts of any event specific to the life of Jesus. That means no independent sources from any eye witnesses with regard to his birth, life, miracles, ministry, death or proposed resurrection.

The Gospels are anonymous. We have no original manuscripts. They do not agree on details. They do not agree with recorded history, and the consensus of New Testament scholarship is that none of them were written by eyewitnesses. The Bible has stories about eyewitnesses but we don’t have a single comment from anyone claiming to be an eyewitness.

The process of canonization included books that doctrinally agreed with those in power and eliminated and attempted to destroy books that were considered heretical by those in power. Yet those same books were considered inspired by other sects. Books like Revelation barely made it into the Bible as many considered them to be uninspired. Books like the Shepard of Hermas and The Apocalypse of Peter, which had traditionally been considered divinely inspired were excluded.

Paul’s epistles, some of which are of questionable authorship, were the first books of the New Testament to be written, and that was decades after the purported life of Jesus. The Gospels were written many years later, perhaps many decades later by unknown authors. Historians from the late 1st and 2nd century do mention Christians and some refer to Jesus but none of these were eyewitnesses and most of them couldn’t even have spoken to someone who claimed to be an eyewitness.

So we have the Bible - a collection of stories by largely unknown authors who were unlikely to be eyewitnesses and we don’t have originals of their work. We have copies of copies of copies of translations of copies of copies of anonymous books reporting an oral tradition passed down decades or centuries after the purported events in a time when myths, superstitions, and god-man claims were plentiful. During a time when fact checking and literacy were rare, and when doctrinal wars prompted forged documents (Paul even mentions this in the Bible) in order to prop up competing theologies as orthodox or heretical. And for my money, that means none of it is believable."

Many of the earliest scriptures we have actually come from Paul - a man who never claimed to have met Jesus in person while he was alive.

And here's my favorite part of the gospels: You would think that if a bunch of corpses crawled out of their graves and started walking around and interacting with people right after Jesus' resurrection that some one at some point would have made note of this unprecedented miracle event in Jewish history. But there are none. No one, not one historian or layperson of any kind had anything to say about the Jewish zombie uprising that is found in Matthew 27.

51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Whew. *rests fingers*

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
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12-11-2010, 10:57 AM
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
Hi Stark Raving and BnW

The quote from Wikipedia is from the summation of the page at the top. Check down through the article to see the status of the various objections. To state categorically that the consensus among historian scholars is against Jesus existence is simply misleading. The opposite is in fact true at the moment, and opinion never has been against as far as I'm aware. I accept and consider seriously the objections, but we must try to be honest here. No use claiming a hollow victory... it harms a skeptics reputation.
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12-11-2010, 11:24 AM
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
(12-11-2010 10:57 AM)fr0d0 Wrote:  The quote from Wikipedia is from the summation of the page at the top. Check down through the article to see the status of the various objections. To state categorically that the consensus among historian scholars is against Jesus existence is simply misleading. The opposite is in fact true at the moment, and opinion never has been against as far as I'm aware. I accept and consider seriously the objections, but we must try to be honest here. No use claiming a hollow victory... it harms a skeptics reputation.

Wikipedia is not a scholarly source. It is not peer-reviewed; anybody can edit/add/subtract from it. No real scholar considers Wikipedia a credible source. Give us some information from a scholarly, peer-reviewed article/journal instead.

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
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12-11-2010, 11:34 AM
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
Exactly. I'm not claiming a "hollow" victory, or any victory. What I am claiming is that a wikipedia entry is proof of nothing. I find wiki to be an extremely useful tool for a lot of things, but using it as evidence to support an argument is not one that list.

Sorry, but you simply need to do better then a tool where there are no requirements for accuracy.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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12-11-2010, 12:10 PM
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
I know very well the limitations, so on that score we're on the same page. It'd also be illogical to dismiss wikipedia entirely... it has it's uses. In this instance... making a more thorough presentation of the arguments than presented here. Both sides would need to provide evidence of equal weight I would hope.
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12-11-2010, 12:12 PM
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
Just to interject.

I contacted Bart D. Ehrman, author of "Misquoting Jesus" and other titles, asking if, after all of his research on the subject, he was still a Christian. I just received this reply back. (Excerpted)

No, I am no longer a Christian, for reasons I explain in a couple of my books (God’s Problem and Jesus Interrupted). I do, however believe that Jesus existed, as does every competent historian and biblical scholar that I personally know. I discuss what historians can and do say about him in my book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.
All best wishes,
Bart Ehrman

I did a bit of research after receiving the email, because I didn't want to read a book to find a basic answer as to what he'd converted to, and it turns out he's now an Agnostic.
Ink Q&A
With Bart Ehrman

I'm currently awaiting a copy of his audio book, 'The Historical Jesus"

Excerpt (Yes, from Wiki Wink )

In 1999 Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium was released as a study on the historical Jesus. Ehrman argues that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, and that his apocalyptic beliefs are recorded in the earliest Christian documents: the Gospel of Mark and the authentic Pauline epistles. The earliest Christians believed Jesus would soon return, and their beliefs are echoed in the earliest Christian writings.

Much of Ehrman's writing has concentrated on various aspects of Walter Bauer's thesis that Christianity was always diversified or at odds with itself. Ehrman is often considered a pioneer in connecting the history of the early church to textual variants within biblical manuscripts and in coining such terms as "Proto-orthodox Christianity."[9] Ehrman brought this thesis, and textual criticism in general, through his popular level work Misquoting Jesus.

Evangelical commentators have been critical of Ehrman's thesis on textual criticism. Daniel B. Wallace, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, wrote, "Unfortunately, as careful a scholar as Ehrman is, his treatment of major theological changes in the text of the New Testament tends to fall under one of two criticisms: Either his textual decisions are wrong, or his interpretation is wrong."

That's an interesting read in that, at the time of Yeshuas execution, by hanging which is what crucifixion would have also been called at that time, there was an account in the Talmud of such a execution on the eve of Passover, for blasphemy.
What would have occasioned such a punishment in an era when so called prophets were a dime a dozen. As well as charlatans that claimed to be able to perform all sorts of miracles including turning water into wine.
However, a radical rabbi would certainly be found worthy of execution, when/if he declared the temple and all of the pharisee and other officials of the Hebrew faith, were not necessary when the "kingdom of God" is within each person. Thereby making the Temple, sacrifice$, and a general feeling of unworthiness, unnecessary when a learned Rabbi teaches the person is a temple of the most high God.

Suffice to say, perhaps the truth of the matter is Yeshu was an uppity learned Jew and they killed him and created what he started as a revolution, into their own image and likeness. (They being both the Jews (who would then control the Goy by leading them down a false road and away from the "one true faith", in concert with the Roman authority who let the Hebrews rites and rituals exist as long as the Jewish leaders were in accord with Roman rule at the time. *Remembering the Bible account of Jesus upset at the money changers at the Temple. The Jewish people were changing their own coin for Roman coins, in order to then buy sacrifices to bring into the Temples.)
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12-11-2010, 12:40 PM
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
I was not claiming any sort of victory. My post was to simply illustrate that the evidence YOU provided was insufficient. I am always amazed at how often discussions with theists are always a matter of "either I am right or you are right" from the theists perspective. (Before you go off on a tangent about stereotyping, note I said "often" not "always") Just because someone shows that you are lacking sufficient evidence to claim victory does not mean that your opponent IS claiming victory. Once you start reading the posts in these threads for what they are, you will see that the people here are claiming far less than you seem to percieve. (Of course some claims are made, but your assumptions blur the facts that are given to you.)

Thanks for that info. Haven't read it all yet, but I will get to it!

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12-11-2010, 01:10 PM
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
The bottom line is that while there is some decent enough things to indicate that someone by the name of Jesus may have existed, there is no credible evidence to indicate that we actually know anything about him. There is no credible evidence to indicate that he was a supernatural being, or performed miracles, or was the son of God.

But there is a case that can be made that he never existed. It's not rock-solid either. But it's a false dichotomy to believe that either Jesus didn't exist or He did and was the Son of God.

Personally, I do think that someone named Jesus probably existed and was the rough basis for the stories in the Bible, because in most of the readings I've done and come across I find the arguments for his existence to be a bit stronger than the ones for his non-existence. Maybe he was a teacher, or a preacher, or maybe just a trouble maker. Or he could have been an insane cult leader. The fact is, we don't know. However, there is zero evidence that he was magic. To make that claim (as most if not all Christians do) is to make a claim that has absolutely no corroborating evidence.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
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12-11-2010, 01:37 PM
RE: Is Christianity bad for society?
The figure in the bible came from somewhere so I've no real issue with the idea that the biblical Jesus is based on a real person or that is name was Jesus. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't, but I'm happy to concede that point. However, the biblical stories on him are completely without historical merit. Now, that said, there is no denying that certain aspects of the bible - in terms of locations, certain structure, etc. - were true. I think the historical record backs that up pretty clearly. But, so what? George Washington was a real person too and he lived in Mt. Vernon, Virginia, but that doesn't mean he never told a lie or made a Scooby Doo type confession after chopping down a cherry tree (and he'd have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!)

So, on historical accuracy, for a high level example, we can confirm that the Roman's occupied the area that is referred to in the bible at the time the bible says it does. No qualms there. Another good, but non-biblical, example of this is Masada. The legend of the Jewish resistance group that hid out for some period in a mountain fortress (I think a few years) and resisted the Romans is true. How much of the story that we tell today is accurate is true is a mystery but the basics of it we know are true. We know this because there are historical records of it, artifacts to support it, and of course we have the remains of the mountain fortress itself. But, even without the ruins we have a historical record that gives us the basics of the story.

Now, that leads to what I think is an interesting point: if we have written recollections from the time period of Masada, and we know that early historians were writing these things down, then how do we explain the complete and total lack of independent corroboration of the various events and miracles set forth in the New Testament? People come back from the dead and no one says "hey, I should write this down for prosperity"? It took a couple of hundred years for this to even make its way into writing.

Fr0d0 - can you explain that? Do you have a "satisfactory" answer to that? I do, but it's one you reject.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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