What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

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

Postby sayak » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:42 pm

Particles wrote:
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?


Because somehow whenever I saw "Og3" I always perceived "Oog3". Visual illusion :-D
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Particles » Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:09 pm

That pesky problem of perception strikes again.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby spongebob » Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:36 pm

Og3 wrote: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.


I'm genuinely amazed that you can't see what I'm talking about here. Really, you could substitute Mohammad for Moses and use the same anecdote and it works just as well.

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.


It has nothing to do with either being true or false; it's like combining two totally different ideologies. They were not the same and there's no way to pretend they were.

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").


Well, all of this is based on the huge assumption that Moses actually wrote Genesis. But even granting that, it is also basing it largely on supposed predictions which are not reliable as truth. There are a lot of assumptions going on here. But even if we accept all of those, the laws of the Jews were not the same as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, plain and simple, so claiming that Moses was a "Christian" is just plain inaccurate. By that logic, so were Adam and Eve and Cain and Able. Really this is just not the right way to look at this.

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 can't argue that Jesus (as a part of god) existed whenever god did because the definition of god in the new testament is that Jesus was the son of god and that he was god, so I can accept that as a logical conundrum. But to take that and retroactively claim that anyone who was a Jew before the birth of Jesus was also a Christian is just nonsense.

No, I am pointing out that Christian doctrine explicitly states that the God whom Moses worshipped was, in fact, Jesus Christ.


This just sounds like historical retrofitting to me.

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.


In fact, the god of the old testament was very different in many ways than the "Jesus" god of the new testament. So much so that Christians have famously argued against the validity of the "old laws" for various reasons of the changing of the covenant between man and god. Now you are just equating those two ideologies as if there is no difference. Sorry, that does not follow.

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


That's simply not correct. You can't worship someone who won't even exist for thousands of years to come, especially if they have new ideas about religion that weren't accepted before. Basically, yours is a special pleading argument that because Moses worshiped Jehovah, then that makes him a Christian. I don't accept that as valid and I consider that a inaccurate (if not dishonest) view of both religions.

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.


Actually, it wouldn't; it would be an altogether different argument, but I have not gone there so why even bring it up? I'm suspending disbelief here to entertain your ideas.

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).


Well, all I can say is that this is a new one on me; never heard this argument before and I was raised Southern Baptist, so I had plenty of experience with Bible study. Also spent time in Methodist churches and nothing there taught this either. I'll have to ask some of my Catholic friends what they think about it. It does not sound like a consistent lesson though.

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.


Well, at least you explained why you wrote that. He went to get the "master". OK, that's believable, although Moses if best known for leading his people out of bondage, so wouldn't it have made more sense if Moses had just told the man to believe and follow him out of the well?

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.


This is not about trademarks, its about what these people did and taught and believed. You are equating two things that were not the same, not even close. I don't see any historical or Biblical justification for this. Keep telling the story if you like; I have a feeling it won't make much difference to non-Christians.

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.


The title is this: "What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?" Where does it say "from a Christian perspective"? It doesn't. You asked what religion offers and what a lack of religion offers. I've answered that and I've pointed to solid reasons why your claims don't add up to much. I've also questioned why your anecdotes are so one-sided. You know, anyone can do that. I can post one-sided anecdotes that make Christianity look bad, but I haven't done that. I'm trying to find something that actually makes me consider it as meaningful. And that is the very intention of this section of the forum. If you can't present something with some level of real intellectual honesty, then it's a non-starter and may as well be in the open part of the forum where everyone can just dive in a call each other names. What you are doing is basically just preaching. Preaching is fine, but it isn't a real conversation.

Again... what is the title of the thread?


"What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?" So offer me something besides the stock talking points of a Christian preacher and poorly written anecdotes.

Please point to an historical inaccuracy.


I did.

I'd prefer that you elucidate your own points. I've always hated playing "Let's you and him fight."


I was trying to suggest another person who is a Christian but does not rest his laurels on the stale Christian talking points. You could learn some things from him is my point.

I didn't post to be motivational. I posted to illustrate the claims of Christianity.


Well the first is obvious; the second is not convincing.

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.


That's not it at all. I explained myself; if you didn't understand it then ask what you don't understand and I'll try to explain it better.

And seriously, I do want you to retract your claim that I was "intellectually dishonest."


What I read was deficient in the way I described, so no I will not. Why would a retraction make you feel better? If you positively believe it, what difference does it make? And if your intention is just to state your case and then defend it with everything you've got, then why even bother with this section? What did you even say that would make anyone who isn't a Christian think twice about it? It's all just Bible Tract stuff.
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 5:42 pm

Og3 wrote: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.


Well, finally you write something actually worth reading. :smt041 I'll have to read over this and respond later as I've over spent my time on here today already.
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 sayak » Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:26 pm

More clarification:-
1) Theistic Hinduism does not say that God himself doesn't reach out and saves his devotees through grace. He most emphatically does (and explicitly does not care what name he/she/it is called by) for his devotees. However Hinduism says that salvation by grace is not the only method, it exists along with three other methods. Salvation through correct perception, Salvation through selfless work, Salvation through meditative insight. All four ways are, by themselves, sufficient if followed through, and can be combined in any manner that a person may like in accordance with what comes most easily to him/her.
2) Mahayana Buddhism adds the concept of assistance by the Bodhisattva's who are there to aid a Buddhist on his efforts . So Mahayana Buddhism believes that the Bodhisatvas may appear to a Buddhist and provide him with guidance, support and insight that leads him/her to nibbana.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:00 pm

spongebob wrote:
Og3 wrote: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.
I'm genuinely amazed that you can't see what I'm talking about here. Really, you could substitute Mohammad for Moses and use the same anecdote and it works just as well.
No, because Islam does not teach that Mohammed taught us to seek Christ. In fact, Islam argues that Issa (Jesus) was a prophet, like Moses, but no greater.

I'm genuinely amazed that you're arguing that I'm being dishonest to raise a point that has been claimed in Christianity since its inception.
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.
It has nothing to do with either being true or false; it's like combining two totally different ideologies. They were not the same and there's no way to pretend they were.
Okay... Well, let's check and see. We have examples recorded in Acts of two of the first ever sermons preached by Christians: Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and Stephen just before he was stoned (Acts 7). In both cases, they argue from a Jewish perspective that Christ was the fulfillment of Jewish prophecies. Each cites historical precedent and each claims a consistent perspective. It's a continuation of the same ideology, under new management.

I'm not breaking new ground here. Honestly.
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").
Well, all of this is based on the huge assumption that Moses actually wrote Genesis.
If you'd prefer "School of Moses," the point remains the same; If you even wish to assert that the entire OT was written the day before the Septaugint took it up to translate it, in 100BC, the point STILL remains the same. The Messianic prophecies embedded in the Moses story are part and parcel of that story.

You can't have Moses at all, even as (ad argumentum) a fictional character dreamed up by a rabbi on the day before the Septaugint began to translate, unless you include the passover, the lamb, and the blood on the lintels. And the Adam and Eve story that Moses allegedly related, or had written, or was supposed hypothetically to have had written in a ad argumentum fictional story from 100 BC.

The historicity of the story has absolutely nothing to do with the argument that I am making, namely, that Moses was a "Christian" because he worshiped Christ, as evidenced by the messianic prophecies embedded in his story.
But even granting that, it is also basing it largely on supposed predictions which are not reliable as truth.
Slow down there. I'm stating that they were embedded in the story of Moses, and that Moses may therefore be supposed to be a Christian by virtue if not by name.

I'm defending myself from your charge that I've hijacked a Jewish character to tell a Christian story. The truth value of the prophecies has nothing to do with that. I do believe that the prophecies were true, but it is the fact of their existence, and not the truth values, that make my point here.
There are a lot of assumptions going on here. But even if we accept all of those, the laws of the Jews were not the same as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, plain and simple, so claiming that Moses was a "Christian" is just plain inaccurate.
That does not follow, but in order to hear you out, please demonstrate this assertion.
By that logic, so were Adam and Eve and Cain and Able.
One might contest whether Cain truly ever worshiped YHWH, but Adam and Eve and Abel were just as Christian as they were Jewish.
Really this is just not the right way to look at this.
Why not? Aside from indignation at the idea, I'm not hearing much of an argument.
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 can't argue that Jesus (as a part of god) existed whenever god did because the definition of god in the new testament is that Jesus was the son of god and that he was god, so I can accept that as a logical conundrum. But to take that and retroactively claim that anyone who was a Jew before the birth of Jesus was also a Christian is just nonsense.
The NT specifically argues precisely that; even in the OT there are hints of it. You might wish to do a study of the man, Melchizedek / Melchizedec who is mentioned in Genesis, in Psalms, and in Hebrews.

The writer of Hebrews (likely Barnabus, imho) strongly implies that Melchizedek, who met with Abraham at the slaughter of the Five Kings, was a theophany, that is, a pre-nativity appearance of Christ. Some commentators disagree, but nothing in scripture contradicts it specifically, and there is much to support it, especially in light of the Hebrews reference. For that matter, the Psalm 110:3 reference is a good indicator...

So if Melchizedek was Christ, and if Abraham worshiped Melchizedek, then Abraham worshiped Christ; Moses in worshiping the God of Abraham thus worshiped Christ. You can pretend to be confused by the doctrine of the Trinity, but this is pretty plain stuff; very basic theology.
No, I am pointing out that Christian doctrine explicitly states that the God whom Moses worshipped was, in fact, Jesus Christ.

This just sounds like historical retrofitting to me.
No, it's doctrine. But don't take my word for it.
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.

In fact, the god of the old testament was very different in many ways than the "Jesus" god of the new testament. So much so that Christians have famously argued against the validity of the "old laws" for various reasons of the changing of the covenant between man and god. Now you are just equating those two ideologies as if there is no difference. Sorry, that does not follow.
Actually, if we accept the premise that Christ is the God of the Old Testament, it follows perfectly. And that just happens to be basic Christian doctrine. Did I mention Galatians 3:24? Oh, yes, I did. Did I mention John 1:1-5? Oh, yes, I did.

You're in the difficult position here of either having to claim I got Christian doctrine wrong -- which I didn't -- or of declaring Christian doctrine wrong based on the fact that you disagree with it, which is a weak position at best.
Moses worshiped Christ. By definition, that makes him a Christian. Case closed.
That's simply not correct. You can't worship someone who won't even exist for thousands of years to come, especially if they have new ideas about religion that weren't accepted before.
Christ existed from the beginning -- John 1:1-3, hello? Col. 1:17-18, hello? So you can't say that he wouldn't exist for thousands of years (anyway, the best dates for Moses are around 1350 BC). And he Himself demonstrated that His "ideas about religion" were nothing new. The entire NT can be drawn from the OT.
Basically, yours is a special pleading argument that because Moses worshiped Jehovah, then that makes him a Christian.
Actually, my understanding of "special pleading" is that a person or event is excepted from a rule because, "Well, that's Bob, it doesn't apply to him." I am making a General statement here, that there is no character in the OT who pertains solely to Judaisim and not Christianity, since Christianity is built upon Judaism.
I don't accept that as valid and I consider that a inaccurate (if not dishonest) view of both religions.
I'm sorry, but as I have shown you, with citations, you are wrong on points of fact.
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.
Actually, it wouldn't; it would be an altogether different argument, but I have not gone there so why even bring it up? I'm suspending disbelief here to entertain your ideas.
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).
Well, all I can say is that this is a new one on me; never heard this argument before and I was raised Southern Baptist, so I had plenty of experience with Bible study. Also spent time in Methodist churches and nothing there taught this either. I'll have to ask some of my Catholic friends what they think about it. It does not sound like a consistent lesson though.
Follow your SBC roots and look it up in the Word: We are called "People of the Book," after all. I've given you starting points for your research.
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.
Well, at least you explained why you wrote that. He went to get the "master". OK, that's believable, although Moses if best known for leading his people out of bondage, so wouldn't it have made more sense if Moses had just told the man to believe and follow him out of the well?
No, because Moses could not address the two issues confronting the man: The well was his sin; the serpent was death. Moses could only sustain him (hence the bread and wine).
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.
This is not about trademarks, its about what these people did and taught and believed. You are equating two things that were not the same, not even close.
It is very basic Christian doctrine that the New Testament continues the story of the Old Testament; that Christ continues what was begun at Eden.
I don't see any historical or Biblical justification for this. Keep telling the story if you like; I have a feeling it won't make much difference to non-Christians.
If it does or does not "make much difference," it is an accurate representation of the Christian perspective of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism.
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.
The title is this: "What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?" Where does it say "from a Christian perspective"? It doesn't.
It is clear from the OP and ff. that the respondents are to offer their perspectives.
You asked what religion offers and what a lack of religion offers. I've answered that and I've pointed to solid reasons why your claims don't add up to much. I've also questioned why your anecdotes are so one-sided. You know, anyone can do that. I can post one-sided anecdotes that make Christianity look bad, but I haven't done that.
If they were accurate anecdotes, I would be compelled to consider them and to attempt to answer them.
I'm trying to find something that actually makes me consider it as meaningful. And that is the very intention of this section of the forum. If you can't present something with some level of real intellectual honesty, then it's a non-starter and may as well be in the open part of the forum where everyone can just dive in a call each other names.
I'm not calling anyone names. You did, however, call me intellectually dishonest, and as nearly as I can tell, for nothing more than telling you what Christian doctrine teaches. and I'd like you to retract that.
What you are doing is basically just preaching. Preaching is fine, but it isn't a real conversation.
We seem to be conversing, and from your reaction above, it appears that you've learned something new.
Again... what is the title of the thread?
"What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?" So offer me something besides the stock talking points of a Christian preacher and poorly written anecdotes.
Christianity, as illustrated by the story I told, offers present help -- the concept that Jesus is specifically alongside one, and that He personally takes on death in order to free us from the power of our own mistakes. This is what my religion offers.

Unless you want to merely have vague generalizations and straw men to knock down -- and you don't seem the straw man type -- this is what the question calls for. Call it a sermon; say it's ill-preached. But it answers the question: This is what my religion offers. Whether you consider that offer to be a true offer or not is your choice.
Please point to an historical inaccuracy.
I did.
I beg to differ.
I'd prefer that you elucidate your own points. I've always hated playing "Let's you and him fight."
I was trying to suggest another person who is a Christian but does not rest his laurels on the stale Christian talking points. You could learn some things from him is my point.
I didn't post to be motivational. I posted to illustrate the claims of Christianity.
Well the first is obvious; the second is not convincing.
Sorry, are the claims of Christianity not convincing to you? Or do you mean that you are not convinced that my intent was to illustrate them, and if so, what do you suppose my intent to be? I'm puzzled by your meaning here.
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.
That's not it at all. I explained myself; if you didn't understand it then ask what you don't understand and I'll try to explain it better.
I don't understand why my factual citation of a Christian doctrine leads you to accuse me of intellectual dishonesty. I've said what Paul said. I've said what Luke said. I've said what Christ said.

You may disagree with me, but there is no grounds to call me intellectually dishonest, and I'd like you to withdraw it.
And seriously, I do want you to retract your claim that I was "intellectually dishonest."
What I read was deficient in the way I described, so no I will not. Why would a retraction make you feel better? If you positively believe it, what difference does it make?
First, because it will clarify to third parties here that I am not trying to deceive everyone in some way. That's the sort of thing -- rumors of intellectual dishonesty -- that got Socrates killed, after all.

Ans secondly, it will affirm that you are honest enough to admit a mistake, and that I can reliably discuss the truth with you in the future. And that is important to me, if not to you.
And if your intention is just to state your case and then defend it with everything you've got, then why even bother with this section? What did you even say that would make anyone who isn't a Christian think twice about it? It's all just Bible Tract stuff.

I have already explained: I posted that to show what my religion offers, and what I posted is in fact Christian doctrine. Look up the verses, for Pete's sake, and see that that's what Pete(r) and Paul and Stephen and Christ and Barnabus all taught.

Then, I'll expect your retraction.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:17 pm

sayak wrote:More clarification:-
1) Theistic Hinduism does not say that God himself doesn't reach out and saves his devotees through grace. He most emphatically does (and explicitly does not care what name he/she/it is called by) for his devotees.
Theistic Hinduism?

I have never heard of this. It was my understanding that the "God" of Hinduism was the universe itself, and that the karmic cycles were the process of the reunification of that God/Universe through Erada Sansara. It was also my understanding that while the God/Universe might be perceived through the avatars of Brahma, Siva, or Vishnu, that these were merely representations intended to convey the deeper concepts, and did not reflect an actual personality per se.

Please explain more about "Theistic Hinduism."
However Hinduism says that salvation by grace is not the only method, it exists along with three other methods. Salvation through correct perception, Salvation through selfless work, Salvation through meditative insight. All four ways are, by themselves, sufficient if followed through, and can be combined in any manner that a person may like in accordance with what comes most easily to him/her.
Would this be seen by Theistic Hindus as a shortened form of the eight-fold path?

Also, what distinguishes "Correct Perception" from "Meditative Insight?"
2) Mahayana Buddhism adds the concept of assistance by the Bodhisattva's who are there to aid a Buddhist on his efforts . So Mahayana Buddhism believes that the Bodhisatvas may appear to a Buddhist and provide him with guidance, support and insight that leads him/her to nibbana.

Bodhisatvas would be, then, an ascended master, who has achieved nirvana/nibbana? One might perhaps relate this to the avatars who appeared to Khrshna as his chariot-drivers, during his pre-ascended state?
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby sayak » Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:12 am

Og3 wrote:
sayak wrote:More clarification:-
1) Theistic Hinduism does not say that God himself doesn't reach out and saves his devotees through grace. He most emphatically does (and explicitly does not care what name he/she/it is called by) for his devotees.
Theistic Hinduism?

I have never heard of this. It was my understanding that the "God" of Hinduism was the universe itself, and that the karmic cycles were the process of the reunification of that God/Universe through Erada Sansara. It was also my understanding that while the God/Universe might be perceived through the avatars of Brahma, Siva, or Vishnu, that these were merely representations intended to convey the deeper concepts, and did not reflect an actual personality per se.

Please explain more about "Theistic Hinduism."

In Hinduism , the ground of ultimate reality/being, called Brahman is conceived as having both personality traits (an immanent and transcendent personal God) and not having any personality traits (transcendent impersonal ground of Being). Since Indian scripture emphasize both the personal Brahman and the impersonal Brahman, both are considered equally true with Brahman having a kind of "depth" that is able to subsume both these apparently contradictory features (the six blind men and the elephant simile is used liberally here). The monistic traditions emphasize the transpersonal aspect of Brahman (and consider it more important) while the theistic traditions emphasize the personal aspect of Brahman. Both groups are equally influential, but most lay followers of both groups engage in devotional theism in practice. Gita walks a 50-50 tight rope between the impersonal and the personal forms of Brahman and is therefore perhaps the only scripture that is accorded equal importance in all traditions.
Hinduism does not consider the material universe to be God, and so a Spinozan kind of God is not conceived in India. What is said, that anything that exists has a core essence that makes it possible of that thing to exist in the first place. This "existence-making property" of all things, including the "Self" of a human person is considered a part of Brahman. The plethora of universes are conceived of as like foam bubbles that exist for a time and then disappear on the surface of the ocean.


However Hinduism says that salvation by grace is not the only method, it exists along with three other methods. Salvation through correct perception, Salvation through selfless work, Salvation through meditative insight. All four ways are, by themselves, sufficient if followed through, and can be combined in any manner that a person may like in accordance with what comes most easily to him/her.
Would this be seen by Theistic Hindus as a shortened form of the eight-fold path?

Not quite, as in Buddhism there is a single path which requires eight kinds of practices to master successfully (or 6 perfections as in Mahayana). Here the four methods are seperate paths in and of themselves and each will have its own various stages of practice.

Also, what distinguishes "Correct Perception" from "Meditative Insight?"

Correct perception implies focused philosophical analysis of the nature of reality. Something like what Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would do. Therefore analysis the nature of the world and the human condition using philosophical disciplines (metaphysics, epistemology, linguistics) is considered a path to liberation in its own right. Reason, Love, Meditation, Action - the four are considered equally important paths in Hindu practice.




Bodhisatvas would be, then, an ascended master, who has achieved nirvana/nibbana? One might perhaps relate this to the avatars who appeared to Khrshna as his chariot-drivers, during his pre-ascended state?


Yes Bodhisatvas are ascended persons who have chosen to stay behind for while to help other people gain nibbana.
You have got the story of Krshna wrong somehow. There is no pre-ascended state for Krishna, he is considered by his devotees to be the personal aspect of Brahman (i.e. God) who incarnated as a human on earth to protect the cosmic order from being overthrown by an increasing prevalence of evil.

If you are interested in a conversation about Indian and Buddhist theology and philosophy further, probably we should switch to another thread as this is a bit of a digression from the OP. At least such a discussion will aid you to structure your critique of Eastern philosophies better. :D
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:44 pm

A good idea. I'll start a thread.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby mitchellmckain » Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:15 pm

What does religion offer?

It offers a departure from the "what is in it for me" approach that pervades so much of our life and society.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Simplyme » Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:20 pm

mitchellmckain wrote:What does religion offer?

It offers a departure from the "what is in it for me" approach that pervades so much of our life and society.


Isn't religion all about, "what's in it for me"? Like heaven for believing and Hell for disbelief.
I find it rather amusing, when thought of as ignorant or stupid(though I can be on many subjects). Especially by those who believe in a deity up in heaven watching our every move, and rewarding or punishing us after we have expired.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby spongebob » Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:30 pm

Og3 wrote:In order to answer these questions efficiently, I have taken the liberty of inserting numbers, corresponding to responses

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.


I'm not sure this is accurate and I'll have to do some checking to be sure, but my main problem with this approach is that it assumes the sole reason for accepting a religious philosophy is for the reward of salvation (heaven). I know that much of Christianity pivots on this but that's not true for all the world and not even for all Christians. I might have agreed with this approach back when I was a Christian, but then again, fear of not having salvation is a big part of many Christian traditions and that can be a compelling motivator. If you aren't compelled by that then this is not as important a factor.

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


This is somewhat true and also true of Judaism and lots of other European and pagan religions. I think the idea that "god" is not just some untouchable entity that lords over us and can't be bothered to tend to us on a daily basis was the prevailing though for many millennia and the idea that "god" can be something more than that, something more personal is a much newer idea. However, I think it is just that, an idea, though of by humans and I have some reasons for that that go back to the question of an all powerful god that would allow his existence to experience him one way for a very long time, then to change the rules entirely. To me this is clear evidence that the idea of a savior is a man-made idea.

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.


No, that wasn't clear. I understand the symbolism. Unfortunately I don't really see much insight in the anecdote, except that it echos Biblical ideas of Jesus.

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.


One problem I have with this is that man cannot live without sin, not in any Christian teaching I've encountered. There is forgiveness from sin, but no living without sin. And again, I understand the idea of a personal god and that Jesus was clearly different from Judaism and other religions of the time, but as I said, this just screams as a man made idea. I don't think its necessarily a bad idea; there are some good aspects to this. But my whole problem with the Christian philosophy is that there's nothing in Christianity that I don't have access to otherwise. Some people need the structure of religion but some don't and for those that don't, Christianity offers nothing unique except a promise of heaven. That doesn't mean that I recommend that people give up Christianity. I don't because many people need it.

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.


What I take exception to is using this part of the forum to preach at all.
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 mitchellmckain » Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:51 pm

Simplyme wrote:
mitchellmckain wrote:What does religion offer?

It offers a departure from the "what is in it for me" approach that pervades so much of our life and society.


Isn't religion all about, "what's in it for me"? Like heaven for believing and Hell for disbelief.


When it is a tool for power and manipulation, it certainly is. Your gnostic legalist formula is an excellent example.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Simplyme » Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:00 pm

mitchellmckain wrote:
Simplyme wrote:
mitchellmckain wrote:What does religion offer?

It offers a departure from the "what is in it for me" approach that pervades so much of our life and society.


Isn't religion all about, "what's in it for me"? Like heaven for believing and Hell for disbelief.


When it is a tool for power and manipulation, it certainly is. Your gnostic legalist formula is an excellent example.



I love how you use words, "gnostic legalist formula". How unique.
I find it rather amusing, when thought of as ignorant or stupid(though I can be on many subjects). Especially by those who believe in a deity up in heaven watching our every move, and rewarding or punishing us after we have expired.
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Re: What does religion (or lack of religion) offer?

Postby Og3 » Thu Nov 12, 2015 7:22 pm

spongebob wrote:
Og3 wrote:In order to answer these questions efficiently, I have taken the liberty of inserting numbers, corresponding to responses

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.

I'm not sure this is accurate and I'll have to do some checking to be sure, but my main problem with this approach is that it assumes the sole reason for accepting a religious philosophy is for the reward of salvation (heaven). I know that much of Christianity pivots on this but that's not true for all the world and not even for all Christians. I might have agreed with this approach back when I was a Christian, but then again, fear of not having salvation is a big part of many Christian traditions and that can be a compelling motivator. If you aren't compelled by that then this is not as important a factor.
In the various studies that I cited above, this was one of several factors that led those surveyed to convert. It usually ranked third or fourth most frequent of the reasons stated. The leading factor, which appears to have been first or second in nearly all of the cited studies, was the fact that Jesus struck them as a good man who sacrificed himself for others and did many good works.

Most surveyed cited more than one reason.

Obviously, if Christ is who he says that He is and did the things it is said that he did, then that would be a more compelling reason to follow him than the assurance of salvation.
In Islam, Allah is always above mankind, in judgment, and never alongside, in fellowship.

This is somewhat true and also true of Judaism and lots of other European and pagan religions. I think the idea that "god" is not just some untouchable entity that lords over us and can't be bothered to tend to us on a daily basis was the prevailing though for many millennia and the idea that "god" can be something more than that, something more personal is a much newer idea.
Actually, both the Abraham story and the David story give pictures of a God who is quite amenable to fellowship with mankind; Judaism teaches that Adam and Eve walked with him in the cool of the evening.
However, I think it is just that, an idea, though of by humans and I have some reasons for that that go back to the question of an all powerful god that would allow his existence to experience him one way for a very long time, then to change the rules entirely. To me this is clear evidence that the idea of a savior is a man-made idea.
I think that you perceive a difference that isn't there, but we can differ on that point.
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.
No, that wasn't clear. I understand the symbolism. Unfortunately I don't really see much insight in the anecdote, except that it echos Biblical ideas of Jesus.
Then it achieved its purpose. I shall be more clear that Jesus is the one bitten when I next tell the story.
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.
One problem I have with this is that man cannot live without sin, not in any Christian teaching I've encountered. There is forgiveness from sin, but no living without sin.
This is because Christianity teaches that we have a tendency to sin. We can only live without sin by having our actual guilt re-assigned to someone else. "The LORD has laid the iniquity of us all upon Him."
And again, I understand the idea of a personal god and that Jesus was clearly different from Judaism and other religions of the time, but as I said, this just screams as a man made idea.
Your opinion, of course.
I don't think its necessarily a bad idea; there are some good aspects to this. But my whole problem with the Christian philosophy is that there's nothing in Christianity that I don't have access to otherwise. Some people need the structure of religion but some don't and for those that don't, Christianity offers nothing unique except a promise of heaven. That doesn't mean that I recommend that people give up Christianity. I don't because many people need it.

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.


What I take exception to is using this part of the forum to preach at all.

I maintain that I am not at all preaching, and merely answering the question as posed.

So then, since you've reduced the charge to "Preaching without a license" are you then withdrawing the charge of intellectual dishonesty?
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