What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:09 pm

spongebob wrote:
Og3 wrote:In what way would the allegory be objectively improved by correcting an error?

You already answered that question. Moses was no Christian!
Aside from the fact that his life on Earth preceded that of Christ on earth, in what way was he "no Christian?"

In the first book that he wrote, Genesis, he specifically predicted the coming of Christ in several ways: He described the killing of animals to make clothing that would cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, he stated that the woman's offspring would eventually confront and overcome the offspring of the serpent, which symbolized sin and satan. In his second book, he ordains a ritual based on an event in which blood on doorposts -- blood of a lamb -- stops the curse which would otherwise have brought death to every house. This is later alluded to by a Jewish prophet: "All we, like sheep, have gone astray, but the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all upon Him. He was bruised for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace fell upon him, and by his stripes, we are healed." (Is. 53:4-5)

He is accompanied into the wilderness by the visible presence of his God above the tent of meeting, alluded to in the Gospel of John: "The Word became flesh, and pitched his tent among us..." (John 1:14, cf. RSV "Tabernacled").

Christ stated that "Before Abraham was, I Am," and thus Christ predates Moses; it is not a question of it being impossible that they should meet. So, how can you say that Moses was not a Christian?
I'm disappointed that you think so. My, what a disappointing day we're having.

I would have been less disappointed if you weren't aware of the disconnect, but doing it anyway is intellectually dishonest.
Doing what? Agreeing with Christian teaching that Moses and his Law was the schoolmaster, who was intended to bring us to Christ? How is that intellectually dishonest?
But turning from our feelings to the actual claims of the religions of the world, do you see a place where I have misrepresented one of them?
Going easy on you, I would say that you are just displaying enormous bias toward Christianity and leave it at that.

I'd prefer that you didn't go easy. I admit a bias towards Christianity; I also admit that I've grossly oversimplified in the course of this allegory.

But you can't say that I'm intellectually dishonest and then retreat behind being polite and "leaving it at that." It's a bit late for that.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Particles » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:17 pm

Not to mention Moses was at the transfiguration.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:20 pm

sayak wrote:I am merely trying to explain certain features of Indian religion that I think is improperly understood. I have criticized indian religions from an atheistic standpoint a lot, but I think much of apologetic polemic on Hinduism and Buddhism completely misses the mark (Ravi Zacharias is a famous example). So I wish to correct the perspectives associated with Indian theology. I think good conversation can't proceed if one holds a simplistic sense of other person's worldview. Oog's parable seemed to show that he has a simplistic understanding of several of the other religions (as he does of atheism as well).
I also think its useful for atheism to have the tools to extend its critique of religious traditions that lie outside the YHWH religious cluster.

I thank you for the clarification. It has been my understanding until now that while Hinduism had many distinct schools-of-thought, that it was generally agreed upon the point of the illusory nature of reality. I recall in particular reading of a Yogi who spent his entire life in meditation, allegedly sustained by half a banana each day, and who covered his face with cheesecloth to prevent any chance of insects flying into his mouth and being killed. In his teaching, as I recall, meditation was proposed as a means to penetrate the illusion through the denial of intellectual reality.

I thank you for your willingness to expound on the point.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:21 pm

Particles wrote:Not to mention Moses was at the transfiguration.

I omitted that lest Spongebob feel that it is too overtly Christian a claim. :smt006
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:24 pm

Particles wrote:Sayak, it looks like you're trying to prooftext the Gita, as though there is one right interpretation and one right Hinduism, when that religion is even more diverse than Christianity. The illusion of Maya is a real concept within Hinduism and what Og said was valid for some types of Hindus. I'm not sure what your point here is. That you have to defend Hinduism from his slanderous allegory? Og may think (or maybe not) that the allegory makes Christianity look clearly superior, but that's only if you share whatever premises he has about the context. To me, the Jesus response in the allegory is no better than the Krishna one.


I think that the allegory shows a superiority to the claims of Christianity; One is not attempting to reach the deity through good works; the deity is reaching one through self-sacrifice.

I will not beg the question by claiming that it "proves" Christianity, or proves Christianity to be superior per se.

The name of the thread, after all, is ... :smt006
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby sayak » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:31 pm

I do not think Christian theology is in any sense superior to Indian or Buddhist worldviews . I can take you up on that argument if you wish to engage.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby sayak » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:32 pm

Og3 wrote:
I thank you for the clarification. It has been my understanding until now that while Hinduism had many distinct schools-of-thought, that it was generally agreed upon the point of the illusory nature of reality. I recall in particular reading of a Yogi who spent his entire life in meditation, allegedly sustained by half a banana each day, and who covered his face with cheesecloth to prevent any chance of insects flying into his mouth and being killed. In his teaching, as I recall, meditation was proposed as a means to penetrate the illusion through the denial of intellectual reality.

I thank you for your willingness to expound on the point.


What an absurd story!

Even the monistic tradition is lead by extremely competent philosophers and theologians whose primary argument is not that reality as seen is illusory, but that the ultimate ground of being is an transpersonal Self and the sensory world has no independent essence reality apart from it. Dream and Illusion are meant as allegories trying to establish that initial plausibility that the appearance of multiple substantial essences in different phenomenon could be a cognitive error. Despite that, I consider the monist view to be not internally consistent. Needless to say some Hindus would agree and others will disagree.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:48 pm

sayak wrote:I do not think Christian theology is in any sense superior to Indian or Buddhist worldviews . I can take you up on that argument if you wish to engage.

I am speaking solely here of the Claims of Christianity. Whether the theology is superior would take a longer and much more involved debate, involving far more time in study and contemplation.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:49 pm

sayak wrote:
Og3 wrote:
I thank you for the clarification. It has been my understanding until now that while Hinduism had many distinct schools-of-thought, that it was generally agreed upon the point of the illusory nature of reality. I recall in particular reading of a Yogi who spent his entire life in meditation, allegedly sustained by half a banana each day, and who covered his face with cheesecloth to prevent any chance of insects flying into his mouth and being killed. In his teaching, as I recall, meditation was proposed as a means to penetrate the illusion through the denial of intellectual reality.

I thank you for your willingness to expound on the point.

What an absurd story.

That was my thought at the time, but I attributed it to the absurdity of the belief, rather than the absurdity of the description. I now see the error.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby spongebob » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:32 am

Og3 wrote:Aside from the fact that his life on Earth preceded that of Christ on earth, in what way was he "no Christian?"


That in itself is definitive!

In the first book that he wrote, Genesis, he specifically predicted the coming of Christ in several ways: He described the killing of animals to make clothing that would cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, he stated that the woman's offspring would eventually confront and overcome the offspring of the serpent, which symbolized sin and satan. In his second book, he ordains a ritual based on an event in which blood on doorposts -- blood of a lamb -- stops the curse which would otherwise have brought death to every house. This is later alluded to by a Jewish prophet: "All we, like sheep, have gone astray, but the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all upon Him. He was bruised for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace fell upon him, and by his stripes, we are healed." (Is. 53:4-5)

He is accompanied into the wilderness by the visible presence of his God above the tent of meeting, alluded to in the Gospel of John: "The Word became flesh, and pitched his tent among us..." (John 1:14, cf. RSV "Tabernacled").

Christ stated that "Before Abraham was, I Am," and thus Christ predates Moses; it is not a question of it being impossible that they should meet. So, how can you say that Moses was not a Christian?


All of this is an especially special pleading sort of argument, isn't it? You are just arguing that because he's connected to the Jesus narrative through Biblical history that this makes him retroactively a "christian"? Seems extremely weak to me.

Doing what? Agreeing with Christian teaching that Moses and his Law was the schoolmaster, who was intended to bring us to Christ? How is that intellectually dishonest?


It's intellectually dishonest to present an historical Biblical figure anachronistically in this way. If you changed it to one of the disciples, then I wouldn't have this argument, but as it is, it's not honest and it doesn't help your narrative. Sorry.

I'd prefer that you didn't go easy. I admit a bias towards Christianity; I also admit that I've grossly oversimplified in the course of this allegory.

But you can't say that I'm intellectually dishonest and then retreat behind being polite and "leaving it at that." It's a bit late for that.


This is the problem; you are coming at this from an admittedly biased POV. You are not preaching to a flock of Christians, so the sort of givens that you would benefit from in that situation does you no good in a room full of people who aren't already on the Christian bandwagon. If you can't put yourself in a more objective place then you can't possibly communicate these things because you aren't preaching to a choir. So when you talk about what your religion offers and you say only things that are completely subjective, then you offer anecdotes that are not only cherry picked but also full of awkward historical inaccuracies, then your message is easily dismissed. In simple language, you aren't capturing the room, and when I say this you have to understand that I fully acknowledge that an adept speaker has the ability to tailor his message to those receiving it. That is the key point here. Talk to Mitchellmckain if you want to understand what I'm talking about.

Now, I would be lying if I told you that I am never moved by an inspirational or motivational message from a religious speaker. It isn't often, but I am on occasion and the reason is just as I spelled out.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby spongebob » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:02 pm

Og, I went back and re-read your post with the anecdotes and I have some questions:

I wonder why you depicted Mohammed as being callus and lacking sympathy. I wonder why Moses didn't summon the power of god (as he did in the Biblical stories) to either save the man in the well or perhaps summon help for him in some way. At least Moses was nice and game him food. And I also wonder why he would go to get help and return with Jesus of all people when any number of more practical forms of help should be available. And I wonder why Jesus didn't just happen by as the other characters did. And while I can appreciate the idea of Jesus working his magic to get the man out of the well, I wonder why Jesus allowed the serpent to bite the man at all. This seems like a nod to the Appalachians who believe in handling serpents to demonstrate their faith in Jesus. At the end of this story, I'm just left scratching my head. OK, so it's a religious anecdote; it's supposed to set Jesus apart from other religions. It comes across as artificial, small minded and rather silly and it about as convincing as a cartoon. I just can't make sense of Christians who promote their religion in this way because it seems to me that only those that are already convinced would buy this as meaningful. At the very best this seems like a ham-fisted version of the good Samaritan story. So why is this supposed to mean something to anyone who isn't already a devout Christian?
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Particles » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:55 pm

sayak wrote:I am merely trying to explain certain features of Indian religion that I think is improperly understood. I have criticized indian religions from an atheistic standpoint a lot, but I think much of apologetic polemic on Hinduism and Buddhism completely misses the mark (Ravi Zacharias is a famous example). So I wish to correct the perspectives associated with Indian theology. I think good conversation can't proceed if one holds a simplistic sense of other person's worldview. Oog's parable seemed to show that he has a simplistic understanding of several of the other religions (as he does of atheism as well).
I also think its useful for atheism to have the tools to extend its critique of religious traditions that lie outside the YHWH religious cluster.


So it's for academic type of purposes? OK, but still, when the discussion is premised on concepts like gods and sin, it's hard to say anything that definitive about any of it. Hindu texts are no less ambiguous than Christian ones.

Btw, why do you keep calling him Oog?
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Particles » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:59 pm

spongebob wrote:It's intellectually dishonest to present an historical Biblical figure anachronistically in this way. If you changed it to one of the disciples, then I wouldn't have this argument, but as it is, it's not honest and it doesn't help your narrative. Sorry.


Judaism doesn't own Moses. Moses is an important character in Christian theology. It's perfectly sensible for Moses to be used in a story about Christian belief. What's nonsensical is to complain that Moses is anachronistic in the story, when it's very explicitly an allegory!
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:22 pm

spongebob wrote:
Og3 wrote:Aside from the fact that his life on Earth preceded that of Christ on earth, in what way was he "no Christian?"

That in itself is definitive!
Given the Christian assertion that Jesus Christ was one with God the Father (YHWH), and given that Moses specifically worshiped YHWH, there is no anachronism.

You may object, logically, if you wish to say that the Jewish narrative is true, and the Christian narrative false; that is, that Christ was not one with YHWH. But if you assert that both are false, then the point is moot, and if you assert the Christian narrative to be true, the Christian narrative endorses the Jewish narrative. I doubt that you are endorsing, here, the Jewish narrative.

So your point is... Weak...
In the first book that he wrote, Genesis, he specifically predicted the coming of Christ in several ways: He described the killing of animals to make clothing that would cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, he stated that the woman's offspring would eventually confront and overcome the offspring of the serpent, which symbolized sin and satan. In his second book, he ordains a ritual based on an event in which blood on doorposts -- blood of a lamb -- stops the curse which would otherwise have brought death to every house. This is later alluded to by a Jewish prophet: "All we, like sheep, have gone astray, but the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all upon Him. He was bruised for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace fell upon him, and by his stripes, we are healed." (Is. 53:4-5)

He is accompanied into the wilderness by the visible presence of his God above the tent of meeting, alluded to in the Gospel of John: "The Word became flesh, and pitched his tent among us..." (John 1:14, cf. RSV "Tabernacled").

Christ stated that "Before Abraham was, I Am," and thus Christ predates Moses; it is not a question of it being impossible that they should meet. So, how can you say that Moses was not a Christian?
All of this is an especially special pleading sort of argument, isn't it? You are just arguing that because he's connected to the Jesus narrative through Biblical history that this makes him retroactively a "christian"? Seems extremely weak to me.
No, I am pointing out that Christian doctrine explicitly states that the God whom Moses worshipped was, in fact, Jesus Christ.

He did not call himself a Christian, but nobody did until the Antioch awakening of about 40-50 AD. Even then, it began as a term of derision. The first Christians considered themselves Jews, of the sect of the Way, and it was confusing to them that someone might become a Christian without become a Jew. So to make a distinction between Moses' Judaism and the claim that he was a "Christian" is not correct, either anachronistically or in terms of nomenclature.

Moses worshiped Christ. By definition, that makes him a Christian. Case closed.

Of course, you can play the ad argumentum game here, and claim that you don't believe either Moses or Christ ever existed, and you don't accept the Bible anyway, but we both know that that would be a dodge, and that you would be committing the very intellectual dishonesty of which you accused me earlier. So I'm sure you won't do that.
Doing what? Agreeing with Christian teaching that Moses and his Law was the schoolmaster, who was intended to bring us to Christ? How is that intellectually dishonest?
It's intellectually dishonest to present an historical Biblical figure anachronistically in this way. If you changed it to one of the disciples, then I wouldn't have this argument, but as it is, it's not honest and it doesn't help your narrative. Sorry.
There is no anachronism. This is what the Bible teaches: Christ existed "from the beginning" (John 1:1-14, Col. 1:17-18),
and that Christ was God (John 1:1-5, John 10:30, John 8:55-58, etc.), and that Moses worshiped God, and thus Christ (cf. Hebrews 7:9-10, wrt Levi paying tithes to Melchizedec).

Paul explicitly teaches in Galatians 3:24 that the Law of Moses was a "schoolmaster" to bring us to Christ, thus my assertion in the allegory that Moses went and brought Christ is a sound biblical teaching. I am not "present[ing Moses] ... anachronistically] as I have, in my allegory, Moses coming first, and then going to bring Christ, which is precisely what Galatians 3:24-25 teaches.

So unless you are prepared to say that all of Christianity, beginning with the apostle Paul, violates some sort of ancient trademark code, and thus is plagiarism, I'm going to have to ask you to withdraw the charge of intellectual dishonesty.
I'd prefer that you didn't go easy. I admit a bias towards Christianity; I also admit that I've grossly oversimplified in the course of this allegory.

But you can't say that I'm intellectually dishonest and then retreat behind being polite and "leaving it at that." It's a bit late for that.

This is the problem; you are coming at this from an admittedly biased POV. You are not preaching to a flock of Christians, so the sort of givens that you would benefit from in that situation does you no good in a room full of people who aren't already on the Christian bandwagon.
I call to your attention the title of this thread.

This thread is about the Claims of religion, i.e., what a religion offers. I have expounded on what the Christian religion offers. Yes, this requires the ad argumentum assumption that Christianity is correct and true. You would have a valid argument if you were to point to an internal inconsistency in what I wrote ("you said the snake is death, and then you said it's hell" for example) or an external inconsistency (as Sayak has done in expanding my view of Hinduism's claims). But merely yanking back the ad argumentum with a "I don't believe that" is... well, let's say I can't call it intellectually honest.
If you can't put yourself in a more objective place then you can't possibly communicate these things because you aren't preaching to a choir. So when you talk about what your religion offers and you say only things that are completely subjective,
Again... what is the title of the thread?
then you offer anecdotes that are not only cherry picked but also full of awkward historical inaccuracies, then your message is easily dismissed.
Please point to an historical inaccuracy.
In simple language, you aren't capturing the room, and when I say this you have to understand that I fully acknowledge that an adept speaker has the ability to tailor his message to those receiving it. That is the key point here.
I didn't post this to tickle your ears with sweet words. I'm answering the simple question, "What does Christianity offer?"
Talk to Mitchellmckain if you want to understand what I'm talking about.
I'd prefer that you elucidate your own points. I've always hated playing "Let's you and him fight."
Now, I would be lying if I told you that I am never moved by an inspirational or motivational message from a religious speaker. It isn't often, but I am on occasion and the reason is just as I spelled out.
I didn't post to be motivational. I posted to illustrate the claims of Christianity.

If you feel that my post is "intellectually dishonest" because it didn't personally move you to become a Christian, then I'm concerned about the objectivity of our definitions.

And seriously, I do want you to retract your claim that I was "intellectually dishonest."
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:53 pm

In order to answer these questions efficiently, I have taken the liberty of inserting numbers, corresponding to responses below.
spongebob wrote:Og, I went back and re-read your post with the anecdotes and I have some questions:

I wonder why you depicted Mohammed as being callus and lacking sympathy.
1
I wonder why Moses didn't summon the power of god (as he did in the Biblical stories) to either save the man in the well or perhaps summon help for him in some way. At least Moses was nice and game him food.
2.
And I also wonder why he would go to get help and return with Jesus of all people when any number of more practical forms of help should be available.
3.
And I wonder why Jesus didn't just happen by as the other characters did. And while I can appreciate the idea of Jesus working his magic to get the man out of the well, I wonder why Jesus allowed the serpent to bite the man at all. This seems like a nod to the Appalachians who believe in handling serpents to demonstrate their faith in Jesus.
4.
At the end of this story, I'm just left scratching my head. OK, so it's a religious anecdote; it's supposed to set Jesus apart from other religions. It comes across as artificial, small minded and rather silly and it about as convincing as a cartoon. I just can't make sense of Christians who promote their religion in this way because it seems to me that only those that are already convinced would buy this as meaningful. At the very best this seems like a ham-fisted version of the good Samaritan story. So why is this supposed to mean something to anyone who isn't already a devout Christian?
5.

1. Islam teaches that man sins, and teaches that the sin is fatal to his soul; in this it agrees with Judaism and Christianity. It also prescribes good works and repentance to those who have sinned. The problem is that in Islam, there is no assurance of salvation. The only certainty of salvation is offered to those never sin (thus, having fallen into the well, our man is already on the wrong foot) or to those who die as martyrs.

Studies such as Woodberry, Dudley; Shubin, R (March 2001).[ "Muslims Tell...'Why I Chose Jesus'". Mission Frontiers.] cite the certainty of salvation offered in Christianity as a cause for conversion among Muslims who converted to Christianity. (cf. Miller, "An Exploration of Christ's converts from Islam," also studies by Gaudeul; Cate; Syrajen, 1984; Ant Greenham 2010 )

In Islam, Allah is always above mankind, in judgment, and never alongside, in fellowship.

2. Judaism has some interesting teachings on sin. The Law of Moses claims to cover sin, or to pass it to another by substitution (the scapegoat), or to atone for it by the sprinkling of blood on the Mercy Seat. But in apparent antithesis to this, we find the teaching that "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Sam. 15:22) -- that is, the implication that sacrifices don't solve every problem. Compare the sacrifice of Cain, which was rejected by God, for example (Genesis 3), or David's prayer in Psalm 51:16, "For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering."

On the one hand, sacrifice covers sin; on the other hand, something more is required. This is why Moses gives food (Bread and Wine, compare the gifts of Melchizedek to Abraham, in Genesis 14:18) to sustain him, so that he will not perish until Christ comes.

3. This is a specific Christian teaching: That Moses brought us to Christ. Galatians 3:24-25.

4. I may have been unclear in telling the story, but it is Christ who is bitten, and not the man. That is, Christ took the death that would otherwise have been ours, Is. 53:4-6.

5. It illustrates the specific point that while all other religions tell people to reach out towards God, and to try to live without sin (or "causing suffering" if you prefer), Jesus actually came alongside us and reached out to us, making it possible for us to live without sin. While the others passively try to teach man to climb out -- Sayak used the metaphor of killing the snake and using his skin as a rope -- or teach the man to be happy where he is, Jesus takes an active role in getting the man out, even though it means His own death.

You may well say that my "sermon is but ill-preached," as the Emir said to Charlemagne in Chanson Roland, and you're welcome to that opinion. But I have done what I set out to do, namely, expound the offerings of Christianity. You may accept or reject those, and even call them "cartoonish;" I acknowledge that opinions will differ.
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