Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

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Moonwood the Hare
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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:52 pm

SEG wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:59 pm
Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:11 pm
SEG wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:48 pm
Andrew is a practising Catholic
Not as far as I am aware but he makes no secret about his Christian faith. I am not sure what your point is here. It's not quite as bad as when you started dismissing people's ideas because their parents were Jewish but it is certainly going in that direction.
It goes in the direction that he is heavily biased by his indoctrination, just like you are. You and he are presupposing that Satan existed in reality and wasn't a fictional character (made up) by ignorant, ancient authors. From his reviews, he doesn't discuss how Satan was portrayed as a mythical being in art or literature and he certainly wouldn't discuss him as a historical person as that would be just too silly, wouldn't it?
I am not sure if you are talking about Andrew Rilstone or Peter Stanford. If you are talking about Peter Stanford you have misunderstood him completely; he does all the things you say he does not and does not do the things you say he does. Anyway, indoctrination seems to be an automatic category for you whenever you discover someone is a Christian. Is there anything that could persuade you that a particular Christian was not indoctrinated?

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SEG
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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by SEG » Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:39 pm

Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:52 pm
SEG wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:59 pm
Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:11 pm

Not as far as I am aware but he makes no secret about his Christian faith. I am not sure what your point is here. It's not quite as bad as when you started dismissing people's ideas because their parents were Jewish but it is certainly going in that direction.
It goes in the direction that he is heavily biased by his indoctrination, just like you are. You and he are presupposing that Satan existed in reality and wasn't a fictional character (made up) by ignorant, ancient authors. From his reviews, he doesn't discuss how Satan was portrayed as a mythical being in art or literature and he certainly wouldn't discuss him as a historical person as that would be just too silly, wouldn't it?
I am not sure if you are talking about Andrew Rilstone or Peter Stanford. If you are talking about Peter Stanford you have misunderstood him completely; he does all the things you say he does not and does not do the things you say he does. Anyway, indoctrination seems to be an automatic category for you whenever you discover someone is a Christian. Is there anything that could persuade you that a particular Christian was not indoctrinated?
I think that there are degrees of indoctrination. You are nowhere near as indoctrinated as Chappy or Claire for example. I doubt whether you sincerely believe that the devil is a living breathing person or ever was. There are cultural Christians and Christian atheists, Robert Price could be described as one of these types. No, a Christian is by definition indoctrinated and therefore biased. I'll even admit that I was indoctrinated as a child when I was lied to about Noah's Ark and Jesus being part of our history in school. But I got better when the internet arrived and I found out the truth.
Premise One: If a compassionate God exists, then he would do things just as a compassionate person would.
Premise Two: God doesn't do things as a compassionate person would.
Conclusion: Therefore, a compassionate God does not exist.

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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:27 pm

SEG wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:52 pm
Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:03 pm
It's a good piece of writing and I would agree on the whole. This is quite consistent with my claim that the idea of Satan evolves over time.

I don't remember you saying that, though I'm glad that you agree and that you like the content.
For some reason she missses this from Romans 16 'The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.' Now that is clearly a reference to Genesis 3:15 and the serpent is being identified with Satan.
Yes, I have heard others say that this is a clear reference, but I don't think it is. A much clearer reference would be something including Eden, paradise, Adam or Eve. For something as important as this doctrine, why be vague with the meaning if the meaning is that the serpent in Eden is Satan and he tempted Adam and Eve? That's like saying it's clear that a so called prophecy of Jesus is true because it hints at a messiah being born or someone is a virgin that will give birth to a great leader.

Btw, did you know that the first man to be mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as a God given saviour and a messiah was a Persian ruler?
The missing piece in the jigsaw is that Genesis 3:15 is interpreted messianicaly in the Palenstinian targums. As follows in Pseudo-Jonathan:
I will place enmity between you and the woman, between the clan of your sons and the clan of her sons. And whenever the woman’s sons keep the
commandments of the law, they will turn and strike you on your head. And whenever they abandon the commandments of the law, you will turn and bite them in their heels. But they will have healing, and you will not have healing. And they are going to make appeasement in the end, in the days of the King Messiah.
Keeping the law is seen as striking the serpent the comment in Romans immediately follows a reference to obedience, and the ultimate healing comes through the Messiah, which Christians understand to be Jesus and whose grace is referenced imediately following. What Paul says is not as clear as it possibly could be but the reference seems unavoidable.

I knew about Cyrus.

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SEG
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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by SEG » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:54 am

Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:27 pm
For some reason she missses this from Romans 16 'The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.' Now that is clearly a reference to Genesis 3:15 and the serpent is being identified with Satan.
Yes, I have heard others say that this is a clear reference, but I don't think it is. A much clearer reference would be something including Eden, paradise, Adam or Eve. For something as important as this doctrine, why be vague with the meaning if the meaning is that the serpent in Eden is Satan and he tempted Adam and Eve? That's like saying it's clear that a so called prophecy of Jesus is true because it hints at a messiah being born or someone is a virgin that will give birth to a great leader.
The missing piece in the jigsaw is that Genesis 3:15 is interpreted messianicaly in the Palenstinian targums. As follows in Pseudo-Jonathan:"I will place enmity between you and the woman, between the clan of your sons and the clan of her sons. And whenever the woman’s sons keep the commandments of the law, they will turn and strike you on your head. And whenever they abandon the commandments of the law, you will turn and bite them in their heels. But they will have healing, and you will not have healing. And they are going to make appeasement in the end, in the days of the King Messiah".
The whole bloody jigsaw is missing! More twisting and shoving doesn't force something into Genesis that wasn't there in the first place. It becomes just more Christian wishful thinking. Actually, if the serpent was Satan, why was it described as a "beast of field", exactly the same words used to describe the other beasts of creation? Most importantly why would God curse all serpents eternally if it was another being altogether? Why not curse the being that he created called Satan if that was the case? It makes no sense to curse an innocent animal anyway and even less sense to curse an animal supposedly under the control of a supposed evil angel. do you sincerely believe any of this Moon? Do you really believe that Satan is incarnate or an evil spirit that exists in reality? Please give me an honest answer.
Keeping the law is seen as striking the serpent the comment in Romans immediately follows a reference to obedience, and the ultimate healing comes through the Messiah, which Christians understand to be Jesus and whose grace is referenced imediately following. What Paul says is not as clear as it possibly could be but the reference seems unavoidable.
It's easily avoidable if you don't try and force erroneous assumptions.
Premise One: If a compassionate God exists, then he would do things just as a compassionate person would.
Premise Two: God doesn't do things as a compassionate person would.
Conclusion: Therefore, a compassionate God does not exist.

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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Sun Oct 13, 2019 12:43 pm

SEG wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:49 am
Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:39 pm
No SEG. We are not speaking about fictional beings.
Yes we are, unless you say that they were historical beings, which they clearly aren't.
Actually I think when you spoke of the serpent having seven heads you were getting it mixed up with the beast and I think the thing the beast symbolises is historical being, the Roman Empire or its leader. But I don't think fictional and historical are the only options. When the writer in Revelation uses a symbol, he is symbolising something he perceives as a real power acting in history, something that is, in that sense, historical and this is very different to what writers of fiction do. Some people have tried to use the word fiction in a very broad sense to include any narrative writing that is not known to be about actual historical events, but I think this over stretches the word by trying to adapt it to a positivist metaphysic. Fiction in the strict, and I would say proper, sense refers to a type of narrative writing developed between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which is founded on verisimilitude, that is to say making a story seem true, to fit into a real world, to include details as if it were true. As an early example you could look at the way Defoe gives details about where Crusoe's name came from. There are various techniques used to achieved this, so a writer may pretend he has found someone's account written in the first person or he may give a third person perspective but with accurate details from a particular time or place, or make up a time and place that is similar to a real one, like Hardy's Wessex or David Lodge's Rummidge. The persons in such stories will be human beings with plausible psychologies to account for their motivations. Neither The book of Revelation or the book of Genesis are attempting anything like that. The people in fiction are meant to by types, we recognise that there are people like that, but they are not symbols. In the book of Revelation the beings depicted are clearly symbols. Nero, if it is depicting him, is not literally a beast and neither is the Roman Empire he rules. The serpent in Revelation symbolises a malevolent power hostile to God's purposes, but there is no attempt to depict either Nero or the serpent as psychological realities.
You have to realise that this was an era where the majority of folklorish, apocryphal and psuedographical writings were the norm, not the other way around. It was also the reason why there were over 20 original gospels in the NT, they culled it down to 4 as the former had too much folklore to be taken seriously.
It is quite hard to make sense of that first sentence. The majority is what there is most of and the norm is what is usual so to say the majority of something is the norm is tautological. I think you mean something like the majority of writings in that ere were folklorish, apocryphal and psuedographical. This still does not make a great deal of sense. Firstly, what era are you referring to, a short period such as the end of the first century when the NT writings are mostly thought to have been written or a much longer period like the first few Christian centuries. I guess you mean the majority of Christian writings not the majority of writings of any kind. The three categories you have lumped together are very diverse in meaning. By folklorish I am guessing you mean transmitted orally before being written down, and while this may be true of narrative writings it is not true of other types of writing like letters or homilies in any of the eras you may mean, and narative writings form a quite small part of surviving Christian writings. And in the case of narratives oral transmission cannot automatically be taken as an indicator of unreliability. The term apocryphal literally means hidden and derives from St Jerome. When considering the canon of the Old Testament there were certain books he felt should not be included and so were hidden. So, the term comes to mean not included in a canon. Yes, of the course the majority of Christian writings over the first few centuries were not included in the canon, but what a pointless thing to say! Again there is pseudographic material, material written under false names, and quite a lot of it, but generally the further you go back in history the less there is. The more the writings of people associated with Jesus or the apostles was valued the greater the temptation to ascribe later writings to them in the hope they would be accepted. The question of how much pseudographia relates back to that very early period I take to be still open.

There is no list of canonical books I am aware of that contains 20 gospels. By 180 Irenaeus was comparing the four gospels to the four winds so the idea of these four books having authority seems to have been well established by then. It is not very long since you were telling us that the original canon was that of Marcion which contains only one gospel. There cannot originally have been only one gospel in the canon and originally have been 20.
In my view, they were lies, intended to deceive the reader.
It is not a view you have provided any evidence for though is it?
If you were talking of the earliest beliefs in many ancient middle eastern belief systems, the snake is a bringer and guardian of wisdom and knowledge (as you alluded to earlier). That can be one reason why the Gnostics believed that the god who created Adam & Eve wanted to keep them ignorant of knowledge, and the serpent is the hero here for leading Adam & Eve to knowledge, and becoming god-like in the process. Nowhere in the earliest writings of the Hebrew Bible does it mention a connection with the serpent and Satan, not even a hint of it! In Christianity nowhere does Paul say anything about the snake being Satan either. As I said earlier, how could it be mentioned if the concept of Satan wasn't known at those times?

I think you are right to be cautious over the idea that the gnostics had access to genuine ancient traditions. I suspect they were re-telling the stories and rediscovering that kind of interpretation. You know why I disagree with regard to Paul. As I keep saying I am not suggesting that the Genesis account mentions Satan explicitly but that when people do have that concept they can look back and say, yes that is what they were meaning here.
It is quite hard to explain the confusion here. This is not about your belief that these beings are fictional; it is about understanding the type of literature you are reading whether you agree with it or not. The authors of scripture do not believe they are talking about fictional beings; we can be confident of that because fiction is a modern literary form that did not exist in the first century.
Yes but can you be confident that they didn't make stuff up? Humans have been making things up since the dawn of time, especially attributing anthropomorphism to objects and animals like snakes. A talking snake is no different from a talking tree, they are not real, they spring from the minds of minds of men to make sense of concepts that they don't understand.
Making stuff up, telling stories, is a technique human being use to discover the truth. Look at how you just used the technique yourself when you said, 'In my view, they were lies, intended to deceive the reader.' You are trying to imagine how, given your own beliefs, something like the New Testament documents could have come about and you are telling yourself, and me, a little story about what must have happened. Now we can check that story out to see if it is plausible but we do that by telling an alternative story. It is how human beings function. Not only would I say a talking snake is very different to a talking tree, I would say each snake or tree is different from the others. You may imagine that science has provided us with a way of thinking that is free of narratives and symbols but that is really just another story and a not very convincing one at that.
Nor do they think they are communicating facts which is another modern concept. The author of Revelation is trying to symbolise what he sees as realities. So, he uses the symbol of a serpent which he identifies with Satan, and which most people think he also identifies with the serpent in the garden. But both these symbols, the serpent in Revelation and the serpent in the garden, if that is implied here, are being used as signifiers not descriptors. To say they have differences therefore they cannot be the same is to misunderstand the type of writing you are reading.
If Satan was truly imagined by any of the authors of the Bible as the serpent in the garden of Eden, then it simply isn't very clear at all. For a major concept of Christianity, this should be as clear as a bell and not have to be pushed and shoved until it fits into what modern Christians believe as major component of their holy salvation.
Well firstly I did not say that and secondly you have adopted a very modernist approach to language, seemingly without being aware that it is only one possible approach and that it is one which on the whole people have felt compelled to reject. This all goes back to Descartes who sees the clear proposition as the ideal type of true knowledge (Hans Kung's way of putting it; he was advocating Hegelian dialectic in preference to single propositions at the time). This is developed via Locke and others and reaches its most extreme form in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus where he tells us magisterially 'what can be said can be said clearly'. Well as he realised later, it can't always. And even when it can this is often a result of a long process where idea that begin as vague perceptions move towards clarity through the reflections of a community over time.

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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:54 pm

SEG wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:50 am
From Wiki: According to German academic Gerhard von Rad, Lutheran theologian and University of Heidelberg professor, who applied form criticism as a supplement to the documentary hypothesis of the Old Testament, the snake in the Eden's narrative was more an expedient to represent the impulse to temptation of mankind (which is, disobeying God's law) rather than an evil spirit or the personification of the Devil, as the later Christian literature erroneously depicted it; moreover, von Rad himself states that the snake is not a demon, but one of the animals created by God, and the only thing that differentiates it from the others in Eden is the ability to speak:
The serpent which now enters the narrative is marked as one of God's created animals (ch. 2.19). In the narrator's mind, therefore, it is not the symbol of a "demonic" power and certainly not of Satan. What distinguishes it a little from the rest of the animals is exclusively his greater cleverness. [...] The mention of the snake here is almost incidental; at any rate, in the "temptation" by it the concern is with a completely unmythical process, presented in such a way because the narrator is obviously anxious to shift the responsibility as little as possible from man. It is a question only of man and his guilt; therefore the narrator has carefully guarded against objectifying evil in any way, and therefore he has personified it as little as possible as a power coming from without. That he transferred the impulse to temptation outside man was almost more a necessity for the story than an attempt at making evil something existing outside man. [...] In the history of religions the snake indeed is the sinister, strange animal par excellence [...], and one can also assume that long before, a myth was once at the basis of our narrative. But as it lies now before us, transparent and lucid, it is anything but a myth.
Are you aware that Von Rad died in 1971? I think you have to place this in the context of its time and culture, particularly in the context of the conflict between Platonism (as represented by Jung) and existentialism (not so much Sartre or Jaspers as Barth). The Platonists would emphasise the archetypal or mythical element in the story, the power of evil as something real standing over against the fragile ego, the existentialists want to emphasise salvation through an act of will. Hence Van Rad wants to stress the importance of the conscious literary construct of a moral fable, of choosing to do right, over against any concept of a chthonic or daemonic power acting from outside the ego.
Last edited by Moonwood the Hare on Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:03 pm

SEG wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:39 pm
No, a Christian is by definition indoctrinated and therefore biased.
Is there anything regarding any Christian that could persuade you this was not the case?

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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by SEG » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:48 pm

Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:03 pm
SEG wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:39 pm
No, a Christian is by definition indoctrinated and therefore biased.
Is there anything regarding any Christian that could persuade you this was not the case?
Anything what? Sorry, that doesn't make much sense. As stated earlier, there are some cultural Christians that seem to have done away with their indoctrinated beliefs.
Premise One: If a compassionate God exists, then he would do things just as a compassionate person would.
Premise Two: God doesn't do things as a compassionate person would.
Conclusion: Therefore, a compassionate God does not exist.

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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by SEG » Sun Oct 13, 2019 11:22 pm

I think that we are getting closer to what you actually believe. We saw earlier that an important Christian authority went public in saying that the Adam and Eve story was a myth. You have revealed that the snake in the story was only symbolic and not real, even though you think your god actually spoke to it and called it a beast of the field. According to you he also cursed it. Have I got this right, or do you also think that this story is a myth?

I'll ask you again, as you have dodged another important question: Do you think that Satan is a living, breathing person? Is he incarnate, listening and watching everything you do, or is he just a symbol too?
Premise One: If a compassionate God exists, then he would do things just as a compassionate person would.
Premise Two: God doesn't do things as a compassionate person would.
Conclusion: Therefore, a compassionate God does not exist.

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Re: Why Faith Isn't a Reliable Pathway to Determine the Truth

Post by SEG » Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:25 am

Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 12:43 pm
Actually I think when you spoke of the serpent having seven heads you were getting it mixed up with the beast and I think the thing the beast symbolises is historical being, the Roman Empire or its leader.
I didn't say that did I? I think you tried to make that connection? The beast would be more likely to symbolise a world wide political system than the Romans as it supposedly rules over “every tribe and people and tongue and nation,” so it is greater than a single national government.​ See:
Revelation 13:7 7It was given power to wage war against God's holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
But I don't think fictional and historical are the only options. When the writer in Revelation uses a symbol, he is symbolising something he perceives as a real power acting in history, something that is, in that sense, historical and this is very different to what writers of fiction do. Some people have tried to use the word fiction in a very broad sense to include any narrative writing that is not known to be about actual historical events, but I think this over stretches the word by trying to adapt it to a positivist metaphysic. Fiction in the strict, and I would say proper, sense refers to a type of narrative writing developed between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which is founded on verisimilitude, that is to say making a story seem true, to fit into a real world, to include details as if it were true. As an early example you could look at the way Defoe gives details about where Crusoe's name came from. There are various techniques used to achieved this, so a writer may pretend he has found someone's account written in the first person or he may give a third person perspective but with accurate details from a particular time or place, or make up a time and place that is similar to a real one, like Hardy's Wessex or David Lodge's Rummidge. The persons in such stories will be human beings with plausible psychologies to account for their motivations. Neither The book of Revelation or the book of Genesis are attempting anything like that. The people in fiction are meant to by types, we recognise that there are people like that, but they are not symbols. In the book of Revelation the beings depicted are clearly symbols. Nero, if it is depicting him, is not literally a beast and neither is the Roman Empire he rules. The serpent in Revelation symbolises a malevolent power hostile to God's purposes, but there is no attempt to depict either Nero or the serpent as psychological realities.
You may be looking at the wrong definition of fiction. I'm referring to fiction that is something that is invented or untrue.
You have to realise that this was an era where the majority of folklorish, apocryphal and psuedographical writings were the norm, not the other way around. It was also the reason why there were over 20 original gospels in the NT, they culled it down to 4 as the former had too much folklore to be taken seriously.
It is quite hard to make sense of that first sentence. The majority is what there is most of and the norm is what is usual so to say the majority of something is the norm is tautological. I think you mean something like the majority of writings in that ere were folklorish, apocryphal and psuedographical. This still does not make a great deal of sense. Firstly, what era are you referring to, a short period such as the end of the first century when the NT writings are mostly thought to have been written or a much longer period like the first few Christian centuries. I guess you mean the majority of Christian writings not the majority of writings of any kind. The three categories you have lumped together are very diverse in meaning. By folklorish I am guessing you mean transmitted orally before being written down, and while this may be true of narrative writings it is not true of other types of writing like letters or homilies in any of the eras you may mean, and narative writings form a quite small part of surviving Christian writings. And in the case of narratives oral transmission cannot automatically be taken as an indicator of unreliability. The term apocryphal literally means hidden and derives from St Jerome. When considering the canon of the Old Testament there were certain books he felt should not be included and so were hidden. So, the term comes to mean not included in a canon. Yes, of the course the majority of Christian writings over the first few centuries were not included in the canon, but what a pointless thing to say! Again there is pseudographic material, material written under false names, and quite a lot of it, but generally the further you go back in history the less there is. The more the writings of people associated with Jesus or the apostles was valued the greater the temptation to ascribe later writings to them in the hope they would be accepted. The question of how much pseudographia relates back to that very early period I take to be still open.
I meant that the majority of writings in that era were fictional pieces of fantasy and it was normal to write fantastic, deceptive stories where the authors were lying to promote their cause.
There is no list of canonical books I am aware of that contains 20 gospels. By 180 Irenaeus was comparing the four gospels to the four winds so the idea of these four books having authority seems to have been well established by then. It is not very long since you were telling us that the original canon was that of Marcion which contains only one gospel. There cannot originally have been only one gospel in the canon and originally have been 20.
See: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gospels
There are well over 20 gospels of Jesus Christ. However, the Catholic Church found it necessary to leave certain ones out. The gospel of Mary Magdalene, possibly the most famous Apocrypha for example, depicts her being second to Jesus rather than Peter. It also insinuates that Mary and Jesus were lovers, and forms the basis of alternative interpretations and conspiracies such as in Holy Blood, Holy Grail. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus asserts that the idea of hell is not for an eternity, rather a time that meets the severity of the punishment. A gospel according to Judas (dating to around the 3rd/4th Century AD) was discovered in the 1970s but has only really been studied since the late 90s. This alters the narrative slightly to portray Judas' actions towards the end of Jesus' story not as a betrayal, but as following the instructions of Jesus himself. Considering that it is canonical Christian belief that it was God's plan to have Jesus brutally murdered, this does make some sick and twisted sense.
In my view, they were lies, intended to deceive the reader.
It is not a view you have provided any evidence for though is it?
Read Genesis to start with. It's full of lies designed to deceive the reader. Want some examples?
If you were talking of the earliest beliefs in many ancient middle eastern belief systems, the snake is a bringer and guardian of wisdom and knowledge (as you alluded to earlier). That can be one reason why the Gnostics believed that the god who created Adam & Eve wanted to keep them ignorant of knowledge, and the serpent is the hero here for leading Adam & Eve to knowledge, and becoming god-like in the process. Nowhere in the earliest writings of the Hebrew Bible does it mention a connection with the serpent and Satan, not even a hint of it! In Christianity nowhere does Paul say anything about the snake being Satan either. As I said earlier, how could it be mentioned if the concept of Satan wasn't known at those times?

Making stuff up, telling stories, is a technique human being use to discover the truth. Look at how you just used the technique yourself when you said, 'In my view, they were lies, intended to deceive the reader.' You are trying to imagine how, given your own beliefs, something like the New Testament documents could have come about and you are telling yourself, and me, a little story about what must have happened. Now we can check that story out to see if it is plausible but we do that by telling an alternative story. It is how human beings function. Not only would I say a talking snake is very different to a talking tree, I would say each snake or tree is different from the others. You may imagine that science has provided us with a way of thinking that is free of narratives and symbols but that is really just another story and a not very convincing one at that.
Nor do they think they are communicating facts which is another modern concept. The author of Revelation is trying to symbolise what he sees as realities. So, he uses the symbol of a serpent which he identifies with Satan, and which most people think he also identifies with the serpent in the garden. But both these symbols, the serpent in Revelation and the serpent in the garden, if that is implied here, are being used as signifiers not descriptors. To say they have differences therefore they cannot be the same is to misunderstand the type of writing you are reading.
It's also mainly used deceptively to empower the authors.
If Satan was truly imagined by any of the authors of the Bible as the serpent in the garden of Eden, then it simply isn't very clear at all. For a major concept of Christianity, this should be as clear as a bell and not have to be pushed and shoved until it fits into what modern Christians believe as major component of their holy salvation.
Well firstly I did not say that and secondly you have adopted a very modernist approach to language, seemingly without being aware that it is only one possible approach and that it is one which on the whole people have felt compelled to reject. This all goes back to Descartes who sees the clear proposition as the ideal type of true knowledge (Hans Kung's way of putting it; he was advocating Hegelian dialectic in preference to single propositions at the time). This is developed via Locke and others and reaches its most extreme form in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus where he tells us magisterially 'what can be said can be said clearly'. Well as he realised later, it can't always. And even when it can this is often a result of a long process where idea that begin as vague perceptions move towards clarity through the reflections of a community over time.
For such an important concept, it SHOULD be crystal clear that the serpent is Satan. The facts are that it is never mentioned in the OT or the NT. Paul should have mentioned it somewhere, as he was the earliest source and the chief marketer of the Christian religion.

If the earliest sources are silent and the concept of Satan, Heaven and Hell were not known at the time of writing this absurd story, you can only come to these conclusions; The magical talking snake that had its imaginary legs removed by your lord never was Satan and never even existed. Further to this, your lord and Eve also supposedly spoke to this magical snake, so they can't exist either and so that leaves Adam. He was supposedly created from dust and your lord breathed in his nostrils to give him life and later grabbed hold of his ribs to create Eve. Do you realise how silly this sounds?
Premise One: If a compassionate God exists, then he would do things just as a compassionate person would.
Premise Two: God doesn't do things as a compassionate person would.
Conclusion: Therefore, a compassionate God does not exist.

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