The past comes back

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Re: The past comes back

#21  Postby Zadocfish2 » Sep 06, 2017 5:15 am

pelfdaddy wrote:Zadocfish,

It seems you and I are not fully understanding one another. To be more direct, I do not get the thrust of what you just wrote. I cannot remember having referred to Abel.

Are you aware that I was characterizing the first five books of the bible as chapters one through five of God's autobiography? Sorry for the overwrought comparison. I was only trying to say something simple, that; the idea of God is unconvincing on its own merits, and the notion of a standard Christian theology that is free from a literal, flaming, retributive hell is only the soup du jour of a small segment of current theologians. This is what theology has always been. Do you disagree with this main point in some fundamental way?


Oooh, see, I don't know why, but I thought you were talking about the first chapters of Genesis, so I was very confused. About the Pentateuch, to a lot of people, the Pentateuch seems reasonable because it was a different time and you simply couldn't LIVE without violence, and the Israelites were constantly under attack. I can kinda see your point, but I know plenty of people who would see the actions of the Israelites as completely justified... remember, the Israelites were sacrificing bulls and birds, while at least one of their neighbors had rituals involving child sacrifice. For this, there is actually some historical evidence; Phoenicians were spoken of by various non-Hebrew sources as sacrificing their children, and they arose from Canaanites, so it's a reasonable assumption that the allegations in the Bible about Canaanite child sacrifice weren't outright fabrications.

I can disagree with the main point, if just a little. Theology is a long history of trying to define metaphor and spiritual concepts in a rigid, consistent way. The "flaming pit" thing is blatantly a reference to a specific flaming garbage pit on the edge of the city Jesus was speaking in, and the idea of eternal torment is never really spoken of one way or another aside from when Jesus says "thrown into the fire" or "burn forever"... nothing regarding being conscious during the process. It's just referencing the fact that those who don't believe will eventually die.

... kinda see how one could leave with a different impression. So... I don't think I can disagree that theology is changing more or less continually. But, the opinion that the firepit is just a metaphor for annihilation has the most amount of Biblical evidence.
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Re: The past comes back

#22  Postby pelfdaddy » Sep 06, 2017 9:06 am

Zadocfish,

That's a reasonable response, so I will return the favor.

Apologists for faith often make the mistake of getting so close to the text that they can no longer see it in a broad sense. Those who have studied it extensively, upon backing away and gaining valuable perspective, often discover its crude ugliness from a distance; meanwhile apologists, ignoring this bigger picture even as they examine the details, claim that the rest of us "would not be so critical if only you understood it better".

You asked if it would help for us to have a more correct view of hell--not as a place of eternal flames, but of a less lurid form of annihilation. Would we give God a little more breathing room as a moral being, you seem to be asking. I am attempting to demonstrate why atheists see the text, not as evidence for a wicked bastard of a god, but as highly indicative of mere human authorship.

Losing control of the human race to such an extent that you feel it necessary to wipe them from a specific region, replacing them with a tribe that you have arbitrarily chosen as your arm of retribution, whom you have instructed to atone for their own evil deeds through ritual blood sacrifice, sending them forth to expunge the soil of all memory of the wicked ones, inflicting mass genocide while sexually enslaving the young girls, might be what you would call a smart plan IF you were a primitive tribal barbarian attempting to gain access to land, sources of food and water, and a huge supply of unsullied poontang.

But apologists, when faced with the prospect that an omnipotent creator has devised such a thoroughly, altogether human, Quentin Tarantino-esque psycho drama, can only shrug and make excuses like, "Well, you gotta realize, God did the best he could, you know...but those people!"

Zadocfish, I have no doubt that you could come up with something better yourself. But you are excusing God's weirdly lurid sense of retributive justice merely because "Gee, look at the world at that time...pretty bad stuff going on there...wouldn't want the job of fixing it...too bad God got stuck with it." Can you see what I am getting at? I know you do, and I also understand that you are mostly just saying that there is another way of looking at it. But some things, once seen, cannot be unseen.

Anyhow, theologians spanning the centuries have had to interpret the teachings of Jesus with respect to the nature of eternal damnation based on what they know of God's character. This is why they found it easy--still do--to take it very literally. Therefore, when Jesus expounds upon the afterlife of Lazarus the beggar, describing the rich man as being in an unending state of conscious torment, there is no reason to interpret his words as merely symbolic. If so--symbolic of what exactly? Does this story seek to inform us that the afterlife of the unrighteous bears no resemblance at all to an unending state of conscious torment?

Can you understand why non-believers scoff and say, "Oh sure, one more instance where God says to himself, 'I just can't come up with anything better--I would if I could, but I just can't' "? What we are really suggesting is simpler still: maybe this was just written by some guy.
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Re: The past comes back

#23  Postby Zadocfish2 » Sep 06, 2017 4:50 pm

Well, I can't really argue on that point, to be honest... It's funny, I'm not really representative of Christianity as a whole, but I can't help but feel that failing to defend it when I'm one of the few believers on the forum seems bad, somehow. But it's rude not to reply, and I don't really have any way to refute that, so I'm kinda stuck in the middle here. That's the problem with intellectually arguing the merits of one's own beliefs...
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Re: The past comes back

#24  Postby pelfdaddy » Sep 06, 2017 9:23 pm

Zadocfish,

The perceived quality of your defence is not what is important, but rather the quality of your thinking. It is refreshing to engage a theist in a real conversation, where both parties value perspective and objectiviity. No one loses.
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Re: The past comes back

#25  Postby Scot Dutchy » Sep 07, 2017 9:35 am

If you have beliefs you must ask questions otherwise belief is a worthless state to be in.
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"Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
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