Christianity before modern times.

Abrahamic religion, you know, the one with the cross...

Moderators: Blip, DarthHelmet86

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#41  Postby Moonwatcher » Oct 14, 2010 7:34 pm

quas wrote:
Supersede their faiths in what respect? Give me a scientific discovery from the last fifty years -- and science has advanced more in the last fifty years than at any similar time before -- which has resulted in a "superseding of faith".
Okay, this is not just scientific discovery, since archaeology can be involved here. Take, for example, the flood story which is no longer believed to be literal because: a) science proves a flood that widespread never occurred. b)the discovery of the Gilgamesh tablets proves that Genesis wasn't the first to record the flood story, thus proving that Genesis merely copied earlier flood myths. Granted, all this is more than 50 years ago though, even if it's fairly recent.


I think that what the difference is for a lot of us today as opposed to in the times of Augustine or Origin is that they could say a few things here or there are allegorical but never what they considered critical things. For many people today, it's reached the breaking point where you notice that everything that can possibly be subjected to any sort of falsification ends up falsified (Flood, Earth created before rest of universe, Earth center of universe, Young Earth, Tower of Babel, etc., etc.) and the only things left standing are things that cannot be subjected to a falsifiable test (claim Jesus resurrected cannot be tested for evidence it happened other than by the default that there is no evidence it did happen but that is not the same as positive evidence that it did not happen that way as with those other things). In Augustine's time, there was greater room to believe things as there were fewer ways to test them.
We're holograms projected by a scientist riding on the back of an elephant in a garden imagined by a goose in a snow globe on the mantel of a fireplace imagined in a book in the dreams of a child sleeping in his mother's lap.
User avatar
Moonwatcher
 
Posts: 2018
Age: 62
Male

Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Christianity before modern times.

#42  Postby Byron » Oct 14, 2010 11:00 pm

Moonwatcher wrote: In Augustine's time, there was greater room to believe things as there were fewer ways to test them.

True, although my hunch is that Origin wouldn't be too fussed by the extent of disproof, since the difference in approach is more qualitative than quantative. Once you're comfortable with intellectual freedom, it can strengthen faith, rather than challenge it. (The aforementioned Christians who can accept that the entire resurrection account is fictional.) It's ironic that fundamentalists are seen as being hardcore faith-bods. IMV it's the opposite. If your faith is dependent on literalism and distortion, it's piss weak. People who can accept facts in all their awkwardness and still believe: that's Teflon faith.
I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
Kirk, Enterprise

Ms. Lovelace © Ms. Padua, resident of 2D Goggles
User avatar
Byron
 
Posts: 12881
Male

Country: Albion
Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#43  Postby Moonwatcher » Oct 15, 2010 6:51 pm

Byron wrote:
Moonwatcher wrote: In Augustine's time, there was greater room to believe things as there were fewer ways to test them.

True, although my hunch is that Origin wouldn't be too fussed by the extent of disproof, since the difference in approach is more qualitative than quantative. Once you're comfortable with intellectual freedom, it can strengthen faith, rather than challenge it. (The aforementioned Christians who can accept that the entire resurrection account is fictional.) It's ironic that fundamentalists are seen as being hardcore faith-bods. IMV it's the opposite. If your faith is dependent on literalism and distortion, it's piss weak. People who can accept facts in all their awkwardness and still believe: that's Teflon faith.


Fair enough although once you've taken it to the point that there was no resurrection and no miracles or anything supernatural, I wonder what's left to bother calling it a religion? A philosophy sure, that I can see, but a religion? Maybe I'm just mincing words but it seems that, at least for Origin, it may have been that it became purely a philosophy that he could selectively invoke to be what he thought it should be IF there was no belief left in any sort of literalism or any god behind it.
We're holograms projected by a scientist riding on the back of an elephant in a garden imagined by a goose in a snow globe on the mantel of a fireplace imagined in a book in the dreams of a child sleeping in his mother's lap.
User avatar
Moonwatcher
 
Posts: 2018
Age: 62
Male

Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#44  Postby John P. M. » Oct 15, 2010 7:02 pm

Byron wrote:If your faith is dependent on literalism and distortion, it's piss weak. People who can accept facts in all their awkwardness and still believe: that's Teflon faith.


That kinda goes without saying; if I believe because I believe because I believe, then nothing can touch my faith. This goes for any weird concept. It's then elevated above all material considerations, such as evidence. But at the same time it's then based on nothing tangible, but faith for the sake of faith, or belief for the sake of belief. Well - based on something someone once said or wrote down at some point, I guess, and ones own emotional reaction to that. Obviously though, the one believing will say it's because it's real, and therefore it's God-given or -inspired faith, but that's pretty circular. But Teflon faith? Certainly.

But back when I was a literalist Christian, I believed I had verifiable grounds to believe what I believed. Sure, at some point I had to apply blind faith, but I came to the conclusion that that was OK, because I had all these verifiable things to back it up. Basically bible-based archeology, prophecies coming true in a historically verifiable way and the like. Of course, none of that really held up it turned out, but as long as I lived in the bubble of controlled information I lived in, it all made for a coherent whole, and something solid, tangible and evidence based I felt I could build my faith upon.
User avatar
John P. M.
RS Donator
 
Posts: 2913
Male

Country: Norway
Norway (no)
Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#45  Postby Byron » Oct 15, 2010 10:14 pm

Moonwatcher wrote:Fair enough although once you've taken it to the point that there was no resurrection and no miracles or anything supernatural, I wonder what's left to bother calling it a religion? A philosophy sure, that I can see, but a religion? Maybe I'm just mincing words but it seems that, at least for Origin, it may have been that it became purely a philosophy that he could selectively invoke to be what he thought it should be IF there was no belief left in any sort of literalism or any god behind it.

At this point, the lines do blur (Buddhism has been referred to as more a philosophy than religion, for example). I doubt Origin would've gone as far as I'm proposing, although if the evidence was there, he might well have.

For my part, I don't see any substantive difference between categories of metaphysical inquiry.
John P. M. wrote:[...] if I believe because I believe because I believe, then nothing can touch my faith.

Yep, and in many ways, faith with a tangible base makes more sense. For practical purposes, though, I'd rather the wholly (or near-as-dammit) abstract version holds sway. It doesn't cause society any great harm if someone holds to certain metaphysical propositions; it does when they allow those propositions to dictate and distort their attitude to the material world.

Personally, I'm not a strict materialist, and I'm happy to allow myself to consider metaphysical possibilities. But when those possibilities rely on a tangible base, as Christian claims do, it's hard to remove that base without the metaphysical house crumbling along with it.

Yes, the Christian message can be "true" in the way Animal Farm is "true". But that's a qualitatively different kind of truth from that traditionally claimed by Christianity. As for whether the new form can still be called Christian, well, your mileage will vary.
I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
Kirk, Enterprise

Ms. Lovelace © Ms. Padua, resident of 2D Goggles
User avatar
Byron
 
Posts: 12881
Male

Country: Albion
Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#46  Postby John P. M. » Oct 16, 2010 10:55 am

I agree for the most part there, Byron. I just wonder if the kind of "New Age Christians" wouldn't jump on the more material bandwagon though, if certain things they believe in (for instance when it comes to the historicity of Jesus) were shown to be factual through scientific study, archeology etc. I mean - most people seem to want to have some evidence base for their belief. Look at things like religious relics; bones, hair, the Turin shroud in Christianity, and the Black Stone and the 'splitting of the moon' among other things in Islam. Even though they don't hold up under scientific scrutiny, the point is that these things are tangible "evidence" for what people believe, and they need that, despite what they say.
I mean - I think few would argue that most religious people, should one article related to their faith be shown to have a basis in verifiable reality through archeology, would use that evidence for all it was worth in bolstering their faith.

Also - when it comes to strictly abstract, metaphysical beliefs, I'm not sure that's such a good thing either. I see what you mean - that for instance such beliefs won't interfere with teaching real science in schools etc. But when everything is abstract and metaphysical, you then have nothing with which to really reason with them. If they then believe God has spoken to them, directly or indirectly - well, who are you to argue, if you can't base any counter argument on observed reality?
That can be really dangerous as well.
User avatar
John P. M.
RS Donator
 
Posts: 2913
Male

Country: Norway
Norway (no)
Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#47  Postby coolhat » Oct 16, 2010 10:58 am

This is a fascinating and informative thread, I I have learned a lot. I do have one question:

Did the views of highly educated guys like Augustine, Origen and William really reflect the views of the common christians of the time? Surely your average God-fearing peasant would have had hard time grasping lofty theological concepts like "four levels of exegesis"? I guess we have very little written information of common man´s beliefs in those times, but I don´t think it is too far fetched to think their religious views were muh more simplistic (and probably literalistic) than those of the church fathers.

Then again, back then common people could not read the bible themselves, but had to get by with whatever their priests saw fit to tell them. That makes me think that the more recent literalist traditions could be also partially attributed to the Bible becoming an everyday commodity: everyone can own and read one and, consequently, make their own interpretations about it. Theologians and church leaders can no longer force their interpretations on the people, but have to take notice of the laymen´s opinion. And since most christians are not interested in sophisticated theology, their interpretations are bound to be more straightforward and literal.

This is of course just speculation from my part, but I would love to hear what the more knowledgeable members think of it. I also feel it is worth a while to think about who really has the authority to define christianity: the learned theologians in their ivory towers, or the millions of ordinary christians.
User avatar
coolhat
 
Posts: 14

Finland (fi)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Christianity before modern times.

#48  Postby Byron » Oct 16, 2010 3:34 pm

John P. M. wrote:I agree for the most part there, Byron. I just wonder if the kind of "New Age Christians" wouldn't jump on the more material bandwagon though, if certain things they believe in [...] were shown to be factual through scientific study, archeology etc. I mean - most people seem to want to have some evidence base for their belief.

Depends what kind of belief it is. When faith is divorced from materialism it doesn't need tangible corroboration. For example, it doesn't matter a jot to me whether King Arthur ever existed. The legends surrounding him are independent of their source, and have their own, self-contained value.
If they then believe God has spoken to them, directly or indirectly - well, who are you to argue, if you can't base any counter argument on observed reality?

That can be really dangerous as well.

Good point, and I agree. Depends on what weight is put on "God" speaking to them. As an analogy, while I lack any belief in a personal god, I do believe in justice, in an abstract, metaphysical sense. But I don't think justice is speaking to me like some metaphysical lawgiver. I distinguish a feeling of what's right from its material application, which must stand or fall on debate and logic.

A similar process can be used with abstract faith.
coolhat wrote:Did the views of highly educated guys like Augustine, Origen and William really reflect the views of the common christians of the time? Surely your average God-fearing peasant would have had hard time grasping lofty theological concepts like "four levels of exegesis"? I guess we have very little written information of common man´s beliefs in those times, but I don´t think it is too far fetched to think their religious views were muh more simplistic (and probably literalistic) than those of the church fathers.

Exactly so. As you say, we have a dearth of knowledge about what the common woman and man were thinking. (Something that's not really remedied until Victorian times, and perhaps still hasn't been, fully.) The degree of authoritarianism in early Christianity likely varied (Paul of Tarsus was always having trouble with truculent congregations, and there were no end of so-called heresies to be squished in middle and late antiquity). Different, competing versions of scripture did the rounds, and its doubtful that anything we'd think of as a Bible was around before the fourth century, when a cannon of scripture was agreed. Even then, books and scripts were hideously expensive things. Traditions probably had more weight than the word at this time.

Think you're dead on about the pitfalls of personal interpretation of the Bible. That's why the Catholic Church has always placed so much weight on tradition. They have their own agenda, of course, but they do have a point, when you look at all the feuding that sola scriptura precipitates. (If ever an approach was misnamed, that's it!) Origin would likely run out a fundie service screaming at the idiocy of "enlightened" protestantism. That advances in technology have led to a regression in interpretation is one of the crowning ironies of Christianity.
I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
Kirk, Enterprise

Ms. Lovelace © Ms. Padua, resident of 2D Goggles
User avatar
Byron
 
Posts: 12881
Male

Country: Albion
Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#49  Postby John P. M. » Oct 16, 2010 3:59 pm

Byron wrote:
Depends what kind of belief it is. When faith is divorced from materialism it doesn't need tangible corroboration. For example, it doesn't matter a jot to me whether King Arthur ever existed. The legends surrounding him are independent of their source, and have their own, self-contained value.


True, but in the analogy to Christianities then, this would have to be only a belief in what Jesus stood for, for example, and as such, that belief could be held by an atheist as well ("atheists for Jesus" comes to mind). But just as the legends of King Arthur may have value to you, it won't actually have any direct impact on, say, a future life of yours, post death(!), as most versions of Christianity claim to have. A belief in Jesus as a moral teacher of his time is one thing, and for that you don't really need evidence, because if you like what is attributed to him in the writings, that goes even if he never actually existed, or if he existed but the quotes were manufactured by others.

I'm talking about Christians who believe their faith will have a direct impact on not only this life, but also a future life, which I think is most of them.

Granted, people do believe in Jesus as God without evidence, but they do base it on something, and I think that if they could find some material evidence to 'scaffold' that faith, they wouldn't hesitate to use it.

Byron wrote:
If they then believe God has spoken to them, directly or indirectly - well, who are you to argue, if you can't base any counter argument on observed reality?

That can be really dangerous as well.

Good point, and I agree. Depends on what weight is put on "God" speaking to them. As an analogy, while I lack any belief in a personal god, I do believe in justice, in an abstract, metaphysical sense. But I don't think justice is speaking to me like some metaphysical lawgiver. I distinguish a feeling of what's right from its material application, which must stand or fall on debate and logic. A similar process can be used with abstract faith.


Yes, I don't think theists are all raving lunatics, or on the verge of becoming such, but I don't know... a certain 'contact' between material reality and belief/faith is kind of a way to keep things 'in check' I feel, and perhaps more easily keeps ones sanity intact.
User avatar
John P. M.
RS Donator
 
Posts: 2913
Male

Country: Norway
Norway (no)
Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#50  Postby Byron » Oct 16, 2010 5:50 pm

John P. M. wrote:True, but in the analogy to Christianities then, this would have to be only a belief in what Jesus stood for, for example, and as such, that belief could be held by an atheist as well ("atheists for Jesus" comes to mind).

Depends on your basis for admiring Jesus' teachings (or rather, the teachings of Jesus & the various people who wrote his lines). Admiring them is a necessary, but not sufficient, basis for claiming that they contain metaphysical truth.

As you say, King Arthur isn't running the afterlife (although Arthurian myth sometimes seems to come close). This is a substantive difference between that myth and Christianity, although for a Christian who believes in universal salvation, the import of what comes after is reduced.

Or there are Christians who have an even more abstract view of metaphysics, and see the religion's truth as being closer to truths about human nature found in Hamlet or Orwell. At this stage, it's hard to distinguish Christianity from humanism (and a trip to Unitarian Universalism is surely on the cards!).
Granted, people do believe in Jesus as God without evidence, but they do base it on something, and I think that if they could find some material evidence to 'scaffold' that faith, they wouldn't hesitate to use it.

If that "something" is metaphysical, it's likely more powerful than any materialistic foundation. You can claim materialistic corroboration ATM. No-one can currently disprove it. That some Christians have abandoned it entirely suggests that this isn't a road they're interested in traveling.

I'm all for retaining sanity via a connect between materialism and metaphysics (if there is such a thing as metaphysics). The fewer mad philosophers, the better. ;) In a Christian context, I guess this would come through the efficacy of transcendent spiritual experience in improving our material experience of the world, although some mystics value it entirely for its own sake.
I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
Kirk, Enterprise

Ms. Lovelace © Ms. Padua, resident of 2D Goggles
User avatar
Byron
 
Posts: 12881
Male

Country: Albion
Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#51  Postby John P. M. » Oct 16, 2010 6:13 pm

Byron wrote:That some Christians have abandoned it entirely suggests that this isn't a road they're interested in traveling.


I think that's precisely because material evidence over time has proven elusive when it comes to affirming many of the stories that faith is born from. But that's my opinion.

But of course - if a theist has had what he/she believes to be a genuine metaphysical experience (a vision of some kind), then - for that person - no evidence will be needed outside of that experience.

But I think this is the case for only a very small minority of theists.

And it's impossible to totally divorce it from what occurs with known forms of brain 'malfunction'. It could be, if the vision could inform us of something in the material world that we otherwise couldn't know about, but I haven't yet seen any verifiable examples of that.

I can understand that people who have had such experiences believe because of them, though. It's easy enough for me to be a skeptic, not having been there. But this is the case for any wild claim where there is no evidence, but where the person has had a very strong experience (alien abduction, etc.).
User avatar
John P. M.
RS Donator
 
Posts: 2913
Male

Country: Norway
Norway (no)
Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#52  Postby GakuseiDon » Oct 16, 2010 10:11 pm

coolhat wrote:This is a fascinating and informative thread, I I have learned a lot. I do have one question:

Did the views of highly educated guys like Augustine, Origen and William really reflect the views of the common christians of the time?

Origen suggests that was the case here (my emphasis):

    It was not only, however, with the (Scriptures composed) before the advent (of Christ) that the Spirit thus dealt; but as being the same Spirit, and (proceeding) from the one God, He did the same thing both with the evangelists and the apostles, as even these do not contain throughout a pure history of events, which are interwoven indeed according to the letter, but which did not actually occur.

    Nor even do the law and the commandments wholly convey what is agreeable to reason. For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky?

    And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? and again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that any one doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally. Cain also, when going forth from the presence of God, certainly appears to thoughtful men as likely to lead the reader to inquire what is the presence of God, and what is the meaning of going out from Him.

    And what need is there to say more, since those who are not altogether blind can collect countless instances of a similar kind recorded as having occurred, but which did not literally take place?

    Nay, the Gospels themselves are filled with the same kind of narratives; e.g., the devil leading Jesus up into a high mountain, in order to show him from thence the kingdoms of the whole world, and the glory of them. For who is there among those who do not read such accounts carelessly, that would not condemn those who think that with the eye of the body--which requires a lofty height in order that the parts lying (immediately) under and adjacent may be seen--the kingdoms of the Persians, and Scythians, and Indians, and Parthians, were beheld, and the manner in which their princes are glorified among men?

    And the attentive reader may notice in the Gospels innumerable other passages like these, so that he will be convinced that in the histories that are literally recorded, circumstances that did not occur are inserted.
Obviously Origen is distinguishing between "the attentive reader" and the "non-attentive reader", so we can assume the existence of "non-attentive readers". But his statement "I do not suppose that any one doubts" suggests beliefs that were quite commonly held. Even more so, when you consider his purpose of writing "De Principiis" was to give the fundamental elements of the theology of Christianity. Origen is not trying to argue against what Christians commonly believe. Rather he appears to be presenting what they do currently believe.
If Acharya S has seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of Pygmies. "The Pygmy Christ was born of a virgin, died for the salvation of his people, arose from the dead, and finally ascended to heaven." -- Acharya S
User avatar
GakuseiDon
 
Posts: 1033

Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#53  Postby virphen » Oct 16, 2010 10:26 pm

The problem with that Don, is that surely any kind of reader was far from being a common Christian?
User avatar
virphen
 
Posts: 7288
Male

Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#54  Postby GakuseiDon » Oct 16, 2010 10:27 pm

virphen wrote:The problem with that Don, is that surely any kind of reader was far from being a common Christian?

Then how could they have taken the Bible literally?
If Acharya S has seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of Pygmies. "The Pygmy Christ was born of a virgin, died for the salvation of his people, arose from the dead, and finally ascended to heaven." -- Acharya S
User avatar
GakuseiDon
 
Posts: 1033

Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#55  Postby virphen » Oct 16, 2010 10:31 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
virphen wrote:The problem with that Don, is that surely any kind of reader was far from being a common Christian?

Then how could they have taken the Bible literally?


I didn't think that was the specific question you were addressing, which was how the views of the common man related to those of Augustine et al? Or was that question solely in regard to literalism?

I would figure that the common Christian would believe some rather garbled form of what they have heard preach to them, and in most cases not appreciated many of the theological nuances in the writings of figures like those mentioned, and probably never been exposed to them.

At the risk of thinking anachronistically I am reminded of what I read recently in a book on the Russian revolution about just how strange the beliefs of the nominally Christian Russian peasantry were, and how far removed from the official orthodox church doctrines.
User avatar
virphen
 
Posts: 7288
Male

Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Christianity before modern times.

#56  Postby GakuseiDon » Oct 16, 2010 11:44 pm

virphen wrote:
GakuseiDon wrote:
virphen wrote:The problem with that Don, is that surely any kind of reader was far from being a common Christian?

Then how could they have taken the Bible literally?


I didn't think that was the specific question you were addressing, which was how the views of the common man related to those of Augustine et al? Or was that question solely in regard to literalism?

Perhaps I should have said: where did they get their beliefs from about the contents of the Bible, if they weren't reading the Bible themselves?

virphen wrote:I would figure that the common Christian would believe some rather garbled form of what they have heard preach to them, and in most cases not appreciated many of the theological nuances in the writings of figures like those mentioned, and probably never been exposed to them.

At the risk of thinking anachronistically I am reminded of what I read recently in a book on the Russian revolution about just how strange the beliefs of the nominally Christian Russian peasantry were, and how far removed from the official orthodox church doctrines.

I think that is certainly possible, I'm sure that they held many strange beliefs that differed from orthodoxy, esp those newly converted pagans, so it couldn't be ruled out. But if the question is "how was Scripture treated by the common man", then I think Origen provides some evidence. If the common man couldn't read the Bible, then they would get their views from those who could, i.e. the educated class. If the educated class didn't necessarily treat the Bible as literal history, and those were the ones providing interpretation, then I think a case that the common Christian took the same view is reasonable. I suspect that because we generally hold that Creationism and literalism are views mostly held by less-educated people today, then the assumption is made that there must have been the same attitudes in the past.
If Acharya S has seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of Pygmies. "The Pygmy Christ was born of a virgin, died for the salvation of his people, arose from the dead, and finally ascended to heaven." -- Acharya S
User avatar
GakuseiDon
 
Posts: 1033

Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#57  Postby nunnington » Oct 16, 2010 11:48 pm

I would add to GakuseiDon's points that if we assume that the literal interpretation is the default, we may be projecting a modern view backwards. How do we know that this is true? The modern age is obsessed with literal truth, and objectivity, which is why there are so many arguments about literalism and non-literalism. But these may well be post-Enlightenment positions.

We certainly have an interesting perspective on this, in that Jesus teaches in parables. I don't recall anyone going up to Jesus and asking, 'did that guy really send his two sons out to the fields?' We also get sayings such as 'I am the vine, you are the branches', which seem to show a considerable familiarity with metaphor and simile by both speaker and audience.

I forgot to add that many anti-theists seem to push literalism as a default, perhaps partly so that they can accuse liberals and other non-literalists of being revisionists, and fundies as being stalward authentic Christians. Fundies are the real Christians, and non-literalists are somehow ersatz. Kind of wishful thinking?
je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho.
nunnington
 
Posts: 3980

Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#58  Postby quas » Oct 17, 2010 10:25 am

nunnington wrote:I forgot to add that many anti-theists seem to push literalism as a default, perhaps partly so that they can accuse liberals and other non-literalists of being revisionists, and fundies as being stalward authentic Christians. Fundies are the real Christians, and non-literalists are somehow ersatz. Kind of wishful thinking?

Thank you for suspecting my motive. :naughty2:

The way I see it, it's like a court case. Everyone has a motive. The defendant could really be a guilty scumbag desperately lying his way out of trouble, or... the prosecutor could be those overly-ambitious types who believe in convictions by any means necessary. It is thus important that we have a jury panel competent enough to find out the truth of the matter regardless of anyone's motive.

Now, back to the topic-at-hand, I asked what we can know about the beliefs of early Christians. At the same time, I also assumed that they have to believe everything literally, including all the outlandish stories in Genesis and other parts of OT that most Christians today don't believe in a literal sense. Tim have supplied us with quotes from Origen and Aquinas that seemingly proves that these guys weren't necessary all-out literalists — proving to the extent that one could imply that these guys probably weren't too concerned about whether Jesus was literally resurrected. It would have been a open and shut case. But Moses de la Montagne presented evidence to the contrary: a writing from none other than Aquinas himself declaring his bias of religious dogma over scientific truths. “we must prove the demonstrations of physical science as well as we can to be entirely false”. Meanwhile, I got a response from the Catholic whose discussion with me caused me to start this thread. "As a matter of fact, there has always been a strong Christian tradition of interpretation which posited no weight on the historicity of events in Genesis. I'm thinking of the Alexandrian school (which was probably the most significant doctrinal center in the Church from 200-500 AD), but I could also point out the Cappadocian Fathers, Augustine, and many more, who had, for philosophical and theological reasons, found no reason to give any crucial significance to the historicity of Noah and the Flood, the exact historical events of Creation, etc." So, the trial continues...
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem
those who think alike than those who think differently. -Nietzsche
User avatar
quas
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 2786

Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#59  Postby willhud9 » Oct 17, 2010 4:51 pm

quas wrote:
Now, back to the topic-at-hand, I asked what we can know about the beliefs of early Christians. At the same time, I also assumed that they have to believe everything literally, including all the outlandish stories in Genesis and other parts of OT that most Christians today don't believe in a literal sense. Tim have supplied us with quotes from Origen and Aquinas that seemingly proves that these guys weren't necessary all-out literalists — proving to the extent that one could imply that these guys probably weren't too concerned about whether Jesus was literally resurrected. It would have been a open and shut case. But Moses de la Montagne presented evidence to the contrary: a writing from none other than Aquinas himself declaring his bias of religious dogma over scientific truths. “we must prove the demonstrations of physical science as well as we can to be entirely false”. Meanwhile, I got a response from the Catholic whose discussion with me caused me to start this thread. "As a matter of fact, there has always been a strong Christian tradition of interpretation which posited no weight on the historicity of events in Genesis. I'm thinking of the Alexandrian school (which was probably the most significant doctrinal center in the Church from 200-500 AD), but I could also point out the Cappadocian Fathers, Augustine, and many more, who had, for philosophical and theological reasons, found no reason to give any crucial significance to the historicity of Noah and the Flood, the exact historical events of Creation, etc." So, the trial continues...


Theological principles are still being studied to this day. As we continue to grow a further understanding on the natural world many events within the Bible are easily proven wrong: IF and only if they were taken in the overly literal sense of Scripture. I think John Calvin pushed forward a decent theological principlehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accommodation_(religion)

Accommodation simply states that God, in the Bible, chose to reveal himself in a way that the people at the time would understand.
Fear is a choice you embrace
Your only truth
Tribal poetry
Witchcraft filling your void
Lust for fantasy
Male necrocracy
Every child worthy of a better tale
User avatar
willhud9
 
Name: William
Posts: 19344
Age: 29
Male

Country: United States
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Christianity before modern times.

#60  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Oct 17, 2010 11:49 pm

nunnington wrote:I forgot to add that many anti-theists seem to push literalism as a default, perhaps partly so that they can accuse liberals and other non-literalists of being revisionists, and fundies as being stalward authentic Christians. Fundies are the real Christians, and non-literalists are somehow ersatz. Kind of wishful thinking?


Will you be so kind as to send the memo to the Catholic Church, nunnington?

I wonder if this Catholic clergyman under the patronage of EWTN (the leading bastion of bourgeois Catholicism in the U.S.) is steering the faithful astray. Origen might’ve thought so; after all, he was an intellectual guy—but then, Origen was also officially condemned by the Church for teaching universal salvation and the transmigration of souls, so the private theology of some fey Alexandrian gelding can’t really be held up as the true & pure Catholic approach as believed “always, and everywhere, and by all.” The proof is in the pudding—eighteen centuries after Origen, we’re still stuck with this:

Though it has been popular in some circles to doubt the historicity of the account of the Flood in the time of Noah, I personally accept this as an historical reality. One argument which has been attempted against its historicity has been that there are ancient accounts of floods to be found among other peoples; however, rather than discounting the reality of the Flood I view this as corroborative. In other words, the presence of multiple accounts of some incredible flood in ancient times would argue in favor of such an occurrence, rather than assume they all borrow upon each other.

One thing I look to in affirming the historical existence of figures of the ancient past is to look to the New Testament wherein many of the ancient figures and episodes are affirmed by Jesus and various sacred writers. This, in itself, lends great credibility to the historicity of the matter. For instance, regarding Noah, I note eight references in the NT. If Jesus believed in Noah and the ark, that is good enough for me.

As to whether or not we must affirm that the flood encompassed the entire orb of the earth, the text would seem to teach this and subsequent texts would tend to corroborate this, but there is some flexibility with regards to the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis, as expressed in the encyclical “Humani Generis” of Pope Pius XII:

..the first eleven chapter of Genesis...nevertheless come under the heading of history; in what exact sense, it is for the further study of the exegete to determine. These chapters have a naïve, symbolic way of speaking, well suited to the understanding of primitive people. But they do disclose to us certain important truths, upon which the attainment of our eternal salvation depends, and they do also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and of the chosen people. It may be true that the ancient authors of sacred history drew some of their material from current popular stories. So much may be granted. But it must be remembered that they did so under the impulse of divine inspiration which preserved them from all error in selecting and assessing the material they used….“these excerpts from current stories, which are found in the sacred books, must not be put on a level with mere myths, or with legend in general…In the OT a love of truth and a cult of simplicity shine out in such a way as to put these writers on a distinctly different level from their profane contemporaries.”

Even while acknowledging some latitude in these early chapters, it appears that science is increasingly able to corroborate what we have held in faith based upon biblical texts, including bases for such matters as an ancient deluge, genetic linking back to one mother and possible on father, and the possibility of extended life-spans prior to the deluge.


If Catholics are supposed to be the inheritors of the non-literalist tradition, why haven’t they gotten over this shit already? How do you draw the line between “real” and “ersatz” when they both share the same faith and the same church? The fact that there are Catholic theologians who tend towards a metaphorical interpretation only shows that there are Origens as well as Augustines even long after this was settled by the geological record. Augustine was willing to suppose that you could ditch the literal meaning if natural science was able to prove it wrong—but I’ll bet Augustine would’ve been challenging the science of these things as diligently as any of his latter-day apostolic heirs.
"The vanity of teaching often tempts a man to forget that he is a blockhead." —Lord Halifax
User avatar
Moses de la Montagne
 
Posts: 286
Male

Print view this post

PreviousNext

Return to Christianity

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest