Is your religion is right and all others wrong?
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
No Buddhist who understands the Buddha's teaching thinks that other religions are wrong. No-one who has made a genuine effort to examine other religions with an open mind could think like that either. The first thing you notice when you study the different religions is just how much they have in common. All religions acknowledge that man's present state is unsatisfactory. All believe that a change of attitude and behaviour is needed if man's situation is to improve. All teach an ethics that includes love, kindness, patience, generosity and social responsibility and all accept the existence of some form of Absolute.
They use different languages, different names and different symbols to describe and explain these things; and it is only when they narrow- mindedly cling to their one way of seeing things that religious tolerance, pride and self-righteousness arise.

Imagine an Englishman, a Frenchman, a Chinese and an Indonesian all looking at a cup. The Englishman says, "That is a cup." The Frenchman answers, "No it's not. It's a tasse." The Chinese comments, "You are both wrong. It's a pei." And the Indonesian laughs at the others and says "What a fool you are. It's a cawan." The Englishman get a dictionary and shows it to the others saying, "I can prove that it is a cup. My dictionary says so." "Then your dictionary is wrong," says the Frenchman "because my dictionary clearly says it is a tasse." The Chinese scoffs at them. "My dictionary is thousands of years older than yours, so my dictionary must be right. And besides, more people speak Chinese than any other language, so it must be pei." While they are squabbling and arguing with each other, a Buddhist comes up and drinks from the cup. After he has drunk, he says to the others, "Whether you call it a cup, a tasse, a pei or a cawan, the purpose of the cup is to be used. Stop arguing and drink, stop squabbling and refresh your thirst". This is the Buddhist attitude to other religions.
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Posted by ABC (+383) 14 years ago
"We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

Richard Dawkins
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Posted by Brian (+362) 14 years ago
Chad,

Well said. Though I am by no means a full-out Buddhist (that whole attachment thing still gets me...that and I love hamburgers) I can say that my life has been enriched by Buddha's teachings. And, contrary to what many seem to think, you can appreciate Buddha's teachings without subscribing to it as a religion.

Hell, I appreciate the teachings of Yoda too, doesn't mean I'm going to wield a lightsaber anytime soon...though that WOULD be exceptionally cool.
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Posted by Tucker Bolton (+3857) 14 years ago
No it wouldn't!
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+846) 14 years ago
If you truly appreciate Buddha's teachings, you would never subscribe to it as a religion, as Buddha distinctly ordered his followers not to worship him.
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1882) 14 years ago
Yes
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15369) 14 years ago
"The first thing you notice when you study the different religions is just how much they have in common. All religions acknowledge that man's present state is unsatisfactory. All believe that a change of attitude and behaviour is needed if man's situation is to improve. All teach an ethics that includes love, kindness, patience, generosity and social responsibility and all accept the existence of some form of Absolute.
They use different languages, different names and different symbols to describe and explain these things; and it is only when they narrow- mindedly cling to their one way of seeing things that religious tolerance, pride and self-righteousness arise."


Sorry Chad, but your attempt at moral equivalency doesn't fly and it crashed and burned at the end of the runway. (i.e. all religions are NOT the same).

Yes, all religions may teach that man's present state is "unsatisfactory". But the process of becoming "satisfactory" is what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. All other religions look inwardly to "works", which always falls short, in a attempt to attain the "satisfactory" status.

Christianity looks outwardly to God himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, both God and Man, through righteousness imputed in baptism that makes Christians "satisfactory".

If that makes me "narrow-minded" then so be it. Jesus said that "the way" to heaven was narrow.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+12372) 14 years ago
It is impossible to argue religion with logic. So why bother?
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Posted by Amber (+224) 14 years ago
This is exactly what Buddha tried to teach. The openess to be accepting of another's god and the spirituality of peace and forgiveness amoung all.

Out of all the religions that I have studied, Buddhism has become my favorite because it applies it's teachings thru meditation and devotion.

It is commendable that there are others that can see past the restraints of typical religions and can expand their beliefs.

Thanks chad for this forum!!!!!
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
FYI- I did not write this. I read it someplace, I've forgotten where, unfortunately I failed to note the author. My apologies.

None the less, I believe it makes the point that the major world religions strive for similar goals, share similar compassion's, and are probably more alike than different.

I'm not here to argue theology or belief. I have always felt there needs to be more dialog, tolerance, and compassion among us humans. I don't care what your religion is (or isn't), I think if we humans were less greedy, more patient, more tolerant, we may not spend so much time and effort at war- arguing, disagreeing, battling, killing, fighting, yelling, etc.

Oh wouldn't it be nice if.....

No really, there are good and bad everywhere. I was listening to NPR today and there was a quote attributed to Martin Luther, "It's better to be ruled by a good Turk, than by a bad Christian". Now I've opened a new can of worms. Let's be civil and listen to one another's thoughts, rather than damning each other to eternity in someplace evil and breaking into a shout off with all CAPS!

Next.
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Posted by Brian (+362) 14 years ago
This is probably going to get me lynched, but people have been depending on Jesus for 2,000 years now, and how have we improved? We turn the other cheek, unless that person has something we want? We love our neighbor, as long as he believes what we do?

Perhaps our dependence on Jesus has crippled us more than helped us? When all your life's choices are based on God's/Jesus's/Mohammad's/Xenu's will, where is the inner growth? Where is the room for humanity and personal choice when we base our choices on the "higher power"?

What would you rather have your child say? "I didn't steal that candy bar because mommy doesn't want me to" or "I didn't steal that candy bar because by stealing that candy bar, I hurt the shopkeeper, his employees, and other shoppers"?

We shouldn't do good because God wants us to, we should do good things because it helps everybody out, and it helps us evolve into better people and a better society.

Too many people depend on religion and not on themselves. Dependence weakens us.
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Posted by JOE WHALEN (+614) 14 years ago
"I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, I am a Jew."
- Mohandas K. Gandhi, from Sir Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi"(1982)
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Or, perhaps more to the point;

What would you rather have your child say? "I didn't steal that candy bar because I'll go to hell" or "I didn't steal that candy bar because by stealing that candy bar, I hurt the shopkeeper, his employees, and other shoppers"?

Deity based religion serves as a crutch that masks the most worthwhile human values under dogmatic, arbitrary coercion. It survives because it consolidates power, facilitates political and social control, provides apparent answers to unanswerable questions, serves as a means to channel grief and loss into imaginary situations where the loss is only partial, and perhaps most importantly, provides an arbitrary authority figure of great apparent ability to punish for people who have failed, for whatever reason, to learn to govern themselves without external guidance and/or pressure.

On the positive side, religion as a whole has produced a lot of great art, beautiful buildings, and wonderful music.

Buddhism... is barely a religion at all; barring the single issue of reincarnation [which is optional], Buddhism is closer to an orderly attempt to codify broadly shared common sense than it is a religion. I find myself agreeing with many of its tenets without reservation, and I am one disagreeable son of a gun.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Amorette spake:

> It is impossible to argue religion with logic. So why bother?

Because being passive in the face of religion is what gets us blue laws; repression of lifestyles other than approved by religion; it is what causes everyone else to have to bear the tax burden that rightfully belongs to the religious landowners; it promotes ridiculous replacements for legitimate scientific ideas (creationism being the obvious villain here); perhaps most subtly, it teaches people that unanswerable questions have easy, friendly answers -- I often wonder how many great thinkers have been derailed by years of presuming they have answers to questions that still need the very best minds looking at them in order to have the best chance at useful answers.

Yes, it is quite difficult to argue with someone who carries great conviction; but often if we don't, the very next thing we run into is a lecture about how their "book" or their "creed" says we should be doing this, or should not be doing that. Multiple partner arrangements, love between members of the same sex, freedom of speech, the vilification of the unmarried couple [or group], ridiculous bodily shame... all of these, and more, are the consequences of accepting the politically correct notion (or simply the taking of the passive road because it is easier) that the religious should be allowed to blather on endlessly about their ideas of how everyone else should behave (and the inevitable tagline, usually concisely described as "or else.")

Religion is a very corrosive social force at many levels. That, in a nutshell, is why it is worth bothering to speak up when someone begins to push a religious viewpoint.

Brian put his finger on it; when a behavior is actually beneficial to society, we should be able to very easily find many good justifications for it (don't hurt the shopkeeper, don't hurt the other shoppers, etc.) Religion is a very poor substitute for human-to-human compassion and rationality, and it is downright dangerous when it gets out of hand (9/11, numerous crusades, the papal and Spanish inquisitions, uncountable witch trials, the misogyny of the Saudis, the Irish troubles, blood libel, pogroms, jihads, the murder of "heretics", repression of science, book burnings, people burnings, censorship in general, Shariah "law"...)

Anyway, by all means, let the religious think whatever they so choose and say and do unto each other anything they like and remain unmolested by the rest of us. But the second they start telling everyone else about their imaginary friends [hi, Richard] or why we should all do what their book or elders or creed tell us to, it is both worthwhile and wholly called for to argue, and to argue well. The religious should have no monopoly on the right to speak their minds. That way lies more danger, more degrading law, more repression of human rights and personal liberties. History has the lessons for us many times over if we will only heed them.

[This message has been edited by Major Pain (edited 8/15/2008).]
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Posted by Brian (+362) 14 years ago
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Posted by interesting_thoughts (+28) 14 years ago
Why on earth would you post this? Of course people are going to take offense to this post! Many would find subjects like this are better discussed with freinds and family. These types of topics really don't go over well when presented to the public as you have done!

Just my opinion!
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Posted by Bridgier (+9469) 14 years ago
interesting_thoughts apparently doesn't want to have any, at least not where anyone can see it.
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Posted by Brian (+362) 14 years ago
I didn't take offense to this post. I quite welcomed religious banter that wasn't finger pointing or eye-rollingly-rediculous. This is the most mellow discussion on religion I have ever seen, though I anticipate it not lasting as such for much longer.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15369) 14 years ago
But the second they start telling everyone else about their imaginary friends [hi, Richard] or why we should all do what their book or elders or creed tell us to, it is both worthwhile and wholly called for to argue, and to argue well. The religious should have no monopoly on the right to speak their minds.

It is pretty ironic (and a little hypocritical) that you are worried about me correcting the record as to the difference between Christianity and all other religions and my telling everyone about my "imaginary friends" while you spew forth the "good news" of your apparent chosen religion of nihilism. I agree that when you proceed to dazzle us with the superiority of your creed of "nothingness" "it is both worthwhile and wholly called for to argue, and to argue well."

Stealing is wrong not because it might land you in hell but because of the harm it does to our neighbor. Check out Luther's Small Catechism:

"Thou shalt not steal.

What does this mean?--Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor's money or property, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business [that his means are preserved and his condition is improved]."
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Posted by Stone (+1598) 14 years ago
Check out Luther's Small Catechism:

I thought Christianity was monotheistic. Father, Son and Holy Ghost and now Luther.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Richard said:

> worried about me correcting the record as
> to the difference between Christianity and all other religions

Richard, you weren't "correcting the record"; you were just detailing part of what your religion tells you to believe, and in such a way as to try to make people think it is "the best." This is no different than any other religion or any other religious adherent; all do that. Islam is different because... Hinduism is different because... etc.

Since all these stories present as supernatural presumption with no basis in objective fact, they are on precisely equal footing, no matter what the story itself says. Your god is no more or less likely than Kali, Zoroaster or Zeus until or unless he actually shows up -- all Christianity consists of is a book of extremely vague provenance and a group of people who believe what it says. There is precisely zero contemporaneous validation of even the existence of the person of Jesus, much less the supernatural events the story depends upon. I do appreciate that you're completely convinced, and that's fine; but neither quantity or quality of faith is in any way indicative of objective truth. Reality is what it is; no amount of faith can change that. Only mundane actions have shown the ability to change the course of reality.

> while you spew forth the "good news"
> of your apparent chosen religion of nihilism.

I don't press a religion at all, Richard; there is no element of the supernatural in my outlook. I encourage people to observe the world around them, the people around them, and react to the reality of it all while creating the most positive effect they can.

One can combine religion with that outlook, or not. I don't, for what I consider to be good and sufficient reasons. You're unlikely to be interested in them and so I'm not inclined to present them to you unless you bring relevant issues to the table.

As to nihilism, I don't take the position that existence is without meaning; rather, existence has all the meaning we're willing to imbue it with. My life in particular is full of meaning, sharing, charity and love; some nice things about this are that none of it is imaginary, and none of it is a consequence of feeling compelled or forced. I simply measure "right" by objective results instead of canned goals from a book. Sometimes I end up with the same conclusions (don't steal) sometimes I don't (I could care less about anyone's sabbath day, plus I eat shellfish with considerable relish and wear clothes made of two or even more fabrics.)

> Luther: "Thou shalt not steal...

That's pretty funny, Richard; you quoted the passage but you didn't actually parse it correctly. It says exactly what I told you: Don't steal out of fear of, and love for, god. Why fear? Because he will PUNISH YOU FOREVER IN FIRE, that's why. Then the passage in question says "but", meaning 'instead of stealing", and tells you to help out your neighbor. Now that you're scared of burning to death. Forever. In a lake of fire.

By the way, to Christianity, Luther is Just Some Dude. Your god's take on this in the bible Jesus knew in his day was much simpler: "Thou shall not steal" (the 8th commandment.) Your Jesus' take on not doing those things the religion recommends isn't about benefit; it is about punishment: In Matthew 25:41, Jesus says: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." He's specifically talking about what happens to people who don't toe the line with regard to mundane behaviors; he goes on about it for quite a while earlier in the same passage.

So please... don't try to tell me that Christianity is people-oriented; it's not. It's all about doing what its god says, or else. Just like most other religions.
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Posted by AJS (+221) 14 years ago
The two hardest things to handle in life are failure and success.

The tongue-we spend three years learning how to use it and the rest of our lives learning how to control it.

Personally; I choose Christianity.

AJS also known as Jim Davis
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
Sorry Major, but your creed is just as derived and convoluted as all the others. You say we use God to keep our story together, yet at the same time you take coincidental and even contradictory angles and stitch them together in your own potluck form of anti-religion.

The fact that it makes you feel good to rage against this machine or that doesn't make what you're saying any more legitimate than any person's particular faith. Your beliefs are still just yours.
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Posted by Bridgier (+9469) 14 years ago
I think that's Major Pain's point.
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
I don't see it. I think he's decided its fun to attack others who believe in things he's really not even open-minded enough to consider.

His comments have all the hallmarks of someone who's soaked up what to say... what to believe... from others without ever having investigated the truth for himself.

I guess what I'm saying is that in reality he is what he's preaching against.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
> The fact that it makes you feel good to rage
> against this machine or that doesn't make what
> you're saying any more legitimate than any person's
> particular faith. Your beliefs are still just yours.

Richard, all I'm saying is that if you and I stand on a very high cliff, and you pray that you land softly, and I put on a parachute in order that I land softly, and we both jump...
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
Then you'd eek out a few extra insignificant years in an insignificant life.

Just a few short decades after, nobody will remember who you or I were.

Anyway, what I'm saying is you might investigate some of your claims (regarding Christ at least) before you make them. That way at least you're not fighting what you call misinformation with more of your own.

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 8/17/2008).]
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Posted by LG (+197) 14 years ago
Way to be Christian Rick.
Which of the credos of Jesus are you following here?
The meek shall inherit?
Turn the other cheek??
Wait! I know! This is that whole splinter in your eye while trying to remove the plank in your brother's.

Or are you of the vengeful old testament god mindset?
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10021) 14 years ago
Google "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" by Carl Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan. I read it about 15 years ago. It's a great work. Here's a link to save the trouble:

http://www.google.com/sea...l+Sagan%22
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
The splinter/plank thing is basically what I'm saying.

Otherwise, you lost me. Is pointing out our own insignificance non-Christian of me? I think most Christians see insignificance without God as part and parcel.

It has nothing to do with who he is, or who I am. It's just the way it is. Most of the world's great accomplishments were made by people long forgotten.

Are we better? Even if you do strike the lottery and enter the pantheon of perpetually remembered names, Luther, Columbus, Washington, etc etc the knowledge of the person is generally just that... a name. And the truth is the vast majority of us will never be given even that small amount of recognition.

Luckily we don't have to rely only on ourselves.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 8/18/2008).]
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+846) 14 years ago
"His comments have all the hallmarks of someone who's soaked up what to say... what to believe... from others without ever having investigated the truth for himself."

Pot? Is that you?

Fact: Rick has clearly failed to investigate the facts of his own faith. There is exactly zero terrestrial evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was a deity. Ergo, Rick is merely spewing out that which he has "soaked up to say...what to believe...from others without ever having investigated the truth for himself."

It would appear, however, from the postings of Major Pain in the past, and in this thread, that he has in fact investigated deeply into spiritual concerns. Considering the obvious research, obvious intellect, obvious skills in observing, compiling and analyzing data I would have to conclude that Pain is more an expert in spiritual matters than you, Rick.

The faith card is always fun though. It is impossible to disprove anyone's faith. "Through faith you have been saved..."

To which I will respond, as I have before - "Saved from what?"

For thousands of years, astronomy and science have evolved - often limited by the religious powers of the time. In that time, religion has also evolved significantly. One has evolved through the use of recorded observations and repeatable tests. The other - by faith and superstition. One has constantly improved and consolidated on the foundations of past information; the other has proven only to splinter, in ever increasing rates - mutating, interpreting and fragmenting the one claimed evidence - the bible. One has proven to strive for truth. The other has proven to call "truth" to that which has no evidence.

It's for you to decide, but the facts are the facts regardless of how painful they seem at any given time. Fear not, in a few decades, no one will care anyhow.

Cheers
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Rick said:

> Anyway, what I'm saying is you might investigate
> some of your claims (regarding Christ at least)
> before you make them.

Rick, please proceed on the assumption that I've done a little investigating. Go ahead and tell me exactly where I've made a claim about Christ that I should have investigated further before I made it. If you think I have my facts wrong, then by all means, let me know where I've gone wrong; I'll change my position instantly if you can show me I'm wrong. That's my advantage; my position is not based on dogmatic belief. It can change. So bring your data to the table.

My position: First that there is no contemporaneous validation for the claim that Christ was a historical figure; that Christians were known to the Romans in the late first century CE basically as an annoying cult; that towards the end of the first century CE, and into the second, historians and writers such as Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and Pliny made mention of the Christians, and in in that context, mentioned the figure they followed - long after his death. None of these oft-quoted writers was even born before CE 33, the approximate date the bible gives for the death of Christ. There are no historical references to Christ, Christ's acts, the bill for his cross, nothing, from the time between 0 CE and 33 CE.

Second, that the bible, which now stands alone as testament (literally) to Christ's existence, is a book made up of copies of copies; not one original document for the book has ever been found. The primary sources for it are the Vatican Manuscript (4th century), the Sinaitic Manuscript (also 4th century), and the Alexandrin Manuscript (5th century.) No papyrus, parchment or vellum has ever been discovered containing biblical (NT) material that has been positively dated earlier than 150 CE. This means that the origin of the bible itself is vague, to say the least. It also means that we're still without any historical mention of Christ during, or even near, the time he was reported in the bible to have existed.

Third, that the bible itself contains contradictions (for example, Luke says Mary was being purified in Jerusalem at the same time that Matthew says Mary was hiding in Egypt, waiting for Herod to die - one or the other of those statements is an untruth because they are in rigid contradiction), and as well as contradictions, it contains numerous reports of magic. These reports, if one doesn't simply take them as direct evidence of lies or flights of imagination, possibly visions due to intoxicants or fasting, at least must be subjected to the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" standard. But no such evidence has come to light.

With this in mind, the bible, already isolated by the complete lack of contemporaneous evidence and its own vague provenance, stands in doubt based on its own contradictions, magical reports, and failed predictions.

This is what Christianity has in terms of the mundane as far as I know. Now, if you find that any of that is incorrect or incomplete, please, by all means, tell me. I have an extensive Christian library, and of course the entire Internet is here, waiting for such inquiries. I also have numerous versions of the bible; I practice my Chinese by translating from the Chinese version to English; that, let me tell you, forces me to go quite slowly, think hard, and do a lot of comparing. I'm at least quite familiar with the NT, and you can depend on that.

Over to you.
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
OK, I guess we're going to have to go at this slow.

First that there is no contemporaneous validation for the claim that Christ was a historical figure

OK, tell me. What contemporaneous (and to hold up to your own standard... non-copied) evidence do you have that Plato existed? Or that he wrote what is claimed that he wrote?

There are accurate New Testament fragments that go back to within a century of Christ's death. The earliest Plato manuscripts date to well over a millennium after his "supposed" death.

A work of middle ages fiction?

The truth is "original" documents from anything that happened this long ago simply don't exist. Archaelogists have long relied on copies to provide insights further into the past, on the assumption that they were what they were... copies of something earlier. They make the assumption that lots of copies = lots of source. Kind of like an archaelogical version of law of averages. The odds of finding the originals themselves are infinitesimal, assuming they still exist, which is unlikely. In this light, the reliability of the bible's early existance is second to no other book or document from the handwritten age.

But I guess we should pursue it to your new higher standard... let's see how much ancient history we can get thrown under the bus. My guess is virtually all of it.

http://www.ouls.ox.ac.uk/...rare_books

Reads like these historians are just making everything up, right?

Oxford's most important manuscript of classical philosophy is the Clarke Plato (MS. E. D. Clarke 39), the oldest surviving manuscript for about half of Plato's dialogues, which was acquired by the University in 1809: it was written in Constantinople in A.D. 895.

Plato died over 1200 years earlier in 347 BC

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 8/18/2008).]
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Posted by Bridgier (+9469) 14 years ago
Rick, I really don't think this is a fight that the Armies of Straw will do well in... but, by all means, please continue -

If Plato was actually three gay dudes that slept in the alley behind the acropolis, well, so what? So some history is wrong - it's all just shadows on a wall from our perspective anyways.

But if CHRIST didn't exist, then the basis of a particular set of beliefs is completely invalidated, then you have a problem - which no amount of look-over-there-ism or ad absurdium logic will truly obviate.

But as I said - please continue - this should be interesting.

[This message has been edited by Bridgier (edited 8/18/2008).]
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
I'd like to interject briefly. How is it that when religion and faith come up on this website, it always seems to turn into a battle of Christianity vs. Atheism or Agnosticism? I appreciate the dialog, though it usually comes to a head with finger pointing, name calling and an us Vs. them situation. Someone gets mad enough or gets tired of being insulted and people fade from the discussion.

I was merely trying to post an idea that sometimes it's good to look around and see, or learn how other people look at the world, at life, and what takes place in their lives. Perhaps we are not as different as may be thought.

I do tend to agree that lack of tolerance, lack of freedom, and lack of difference can lead to a culture and a society void of purpose and happiness. Such cultures are often so intolerant and narrow minded that they ignore the very tenets they came from, killing or otherwise disposing of those that would oppose or question them.
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
Bridgier, my point isn't about Plato or Aristotle or Caesar or anyone else. It's about the fact that no book anywhere near the bible's age could possibly stand up to the selective scrutiny we're seeing here.

No papyrus, parchment or vellum has ever been discovered containing biblical (NT) material that has been positively dated earlier than 150 CE.

No work of antiquity can even compare to this record (manuscripts a century past event), let alone surpass it. What it indicates to me is an unwillingness to even consider. And you're right, there is no arguing with that.

The belief that Christ didn't exist at all requires a faith beyond that of even the most devout Christian. I understand his skepticism of the supernatural... the birth, the resurrection and everything in between. That's a different discussion. But I don't understand the argument that Christ never existed. It doesn't hold water at all.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+846) 14 years ago
Rick: "The belief that Christ didn't exist at all requires a faith beyond that of even the most devout Christian. I understand his skepticism of the supernatural... the birth, the resurrection and everything in between. That's a different discussion. But I don't understand the argument that Christ never existed. It doesn't hold water at all."

Who said they had the belief that Christ never existed? No one, and I mean NO ONE stated that as a belief. This is the problem I have with discussing important issue with you Rick: You twist everything around to suit your argument. Even worse - you make up arguments for the other side and then fervently defend a position against them.

For example, the entire Plato argument was your design. No one, again NO ONE, stated any religious stand on the writings on Plato - further more, no one tried to defend the validity of Plato's writings. And to add to that, Plato was (surprise) a PHILOSOPHER not a DEITY.

If Plato never existed, then the philosophy attributed to his persona remains valid and sound. There is no rip in the fabric of the universe to discover that Plato never was. I would be surprised if anyone has founded their "salvation" on a philosopher. Even Buddha was quite clear that he was not a deity and had no idea about the after life; he was just some dude who figured out how to be happy in life, and required no salvation. Whether Buddha existed or not does not alter the teachings propagated in his name.

If, however, Christ never existed, then there really is a problem. The bible teaches us that Christ in fact claimed to be God; that he was the only path to salvation. To deny Christs existence would sheer the fabric of many universes. I think most believers would not be capable of handling the information would self destruct. Entire empires have been built; complete civilizations centered; whole wars fought - over that book.

So you see, Rick, this discussion has more significance perhaps than any other we have. The perpetual and determined position of the HUNDREDS of different "one true faiths" constantly pounding their drums in the ears of the unbeliever is a serious matter. It is catastrophic to the Innocent, and pestilent to the Enlightened. (like a mosquito actually, only with no obvious repellent device)

Especially when you can provide ZERO evidence; especially when you invent non-arguments for the other side to distract from the fact that YOU HAVE NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT YOUR POSITION.

Just remember that it was exactly this kind of argument structure - "create the argument for the other side and them slam them for it after completely misinterpreting the evidence" - for which I coined the term "twisto-babble". I created that word just for you Rick! And years down the road, I am sure that I will have more evidence to support my new word than you will to support your bible.

Chuckers!
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supporter
Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
Who said they had the belief that Christ never existed? No one, and I mean NO ONE stated that as a belief

There is precisely zero contemporaneous validation of even the existence of the person of Jesus, much less the supernatural events the story depends upon...

My position: First that there is no contemporaneous validation for the claim that Christ was a historical figure


Or is this particular manuscript considered fresh enough? Must be just another figment of my overly-faithy imagination.

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 8/18/2008).]
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
> OK, tell me. What contemporaneous (and to hold
> up to your own standard... non-copied) evidence
> do you have that Plato existed? Or that he wrote
> what is claimed that he wrote?

Plato's existence, the attribution of the dialogs and etc., are not in any way relevant to the historicity, or lack thereof, of Christ, which is the subject at hand. The reason that the historicity of Christ is an issue is that Christianity imbues this figure with the powers and ancestry of what they claim to be an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God who created everything. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; the lack of supporting evidence for the bible's claims doesn't meet any standard.

With Plato, the claim is made that he wrote certain works; the alternative to that is that someone else wrote those works. In neither case is the existence, or the value, of those works affected one way or another. People do write things, and no one is saying that a god or gods wrote the dialogs, the dialogs don't assert that Plato's father created the world, etc., so the issue remains both mundane and comparatively insignificant.

In the general sense, yes, history is very difficult to know, and the further back one goes, the more difficult it becomes for numerous reasons. On the positive side, historians are certainly looking for these things and Israel is very, very serious about it. On the negative side, Christians want people to believe some very non-intuitive and insupportable claims, and in this pursuit, some solid evidence would surely help.

> There are accurate New Testament fragments that
> go back to within a century of Christ's death.

Yes, that's what I said. The boundary dates for those fall at the 150 CE mark, with an error margin that extends a few decades earlier, but not anywhere near the time of the storyline. None of the currently known NT fragments are contemporaneous, and no one is claiming they are. Nor would one even expect them to be; they can't tell the story until it has happened, right? The one issue is that nothing else supports the story. The other is that the provenance for the NT is decidedly vague. Who wrote each story? When? These are unknowns excpt in the broadest of strokes. If this is just a story, we can say, "who cares?"; but it isn't being presented by Christians as a story, it is being presented as evidence for straight history, and one that goes against what the evidence actually shows to be objective fact in all of the key elements of the work.

Can a loaf of bread be made to feed a multitude by wishing it so? No. Can a leper be healed by a touch? No. Can water turn to wine at a touch? No. Can people rise after three days of death and decay? No. Can people calm storms? No. Can people predict the future? No. Does prayer work? No. Can people walk on water? No. Can people fly off, unassisted, into the sky? No. And so on, for many, many elements of the NT.

> In this light, the reliability of the bible's
> early existance is second to no other book or
> document from the handwritten age.

I'm not saying it didn't exist as of 150 CE or so (well, as separate books, of course, including quite a few not in the NT), what I'm saying is that the authorship and the content have no worthwhile provenance, the origin of all the works is lost. Then the evidence - particularly the inclusion of magic - lands the book squarely in the "some of this is made up" zone, and that, combined with the lack of corroborating evidence for the central figure, creates an enormous confidence problem for the work as a whole.

> But I guess we should pursue it to your new
> higher standard... let's see how much ancient
> history we can get thrown under the bus. My
> guess is virtually all of it.

Again, for most history, it isn't an issue, because history isn't trying to tell us stories about magic being real, or some being that created the earth. When history does try to tell us this (Zeus, Zoroaster, etc.) we do exactly the same thing: We say "Is there evidence of Zeus?" No. Of course not. So we discount the magical part of the story. We say, "Is there evidence of Zoroaster? No. Of course not. So we discount the magical part of that story as well.

So now we come to the Christian book, and if we're even going to be slightly consistent, we must ask: "Is there evidence of this god?" And what I am telling you here is that no such evidence has come to light, and that the story, compelling as it may be, when held to the same standards we hold to other stories about "gods" and "magic", doesn't hold up any better than any of the others.

Then when we look at the story itself, we can't even find supporting evidence of the earthly part about the central character, who manifests as a person. Now we're beyond magic, and just into is the storyline myth, or is it not? There's no definitive answer, and that is what I'm telling you: There's no contemporaneous proof that Christ was a real person. None at all.

To meet just normal standards of proof in order to make the case that you are promoting a truth, that is, a set of objective facts, you need to be able to say, "we know this is so because (fact... fact... fact...)" We can't get to this with the NT as a whole. Some things, yes -- kingdoms, cities, persons in authority... not uncommon literary context -- but not the story itself.

Very much like the Tom Clancy novels about Jack Ryan. CIA? Check. Soviets? Check. Naval Vessels? Check. International tensions? Check. Geopolitical context? Check. Drug war? Check. Terrorism? Check. US president? Check. Russian Premier? Check. Agents and assassins? Check. Jack Ryan? Hello? Jack? Typhoon class subs? Check. Krazny Oktyabr? Hello?

This is how fiction and fantasy is written; the NT has all the earmarks of fantasy: Magical events, a Zeus-like god, a storyline that is placed in context but otherwise can't be verified, and various views of the action. Unlike a really well written book, there are errors and contradictions between the viewpoints; that might be evidence for it, rather than against it, as a good author would have caught that kind of thing. Then again, as the NT is a compendium, and a culled one at that, perhaps it's just human error, or the need to fill a space where the story at hand for that particular author was mute. You just end up going "I don't know", because there's no evidence, all you can do is speculate.

Further, if you're going to claim that there's magic involved, and an all-powerful being as well, then the standard of proof should rise (considerably), because the simple fact is that we see no evidence of any such forces, or of any such being. And we look really hard on the one hand, and on the other, the world is in rotten shape and could use some intervention.

That's why I know that not only do I need a parachute to survive a jump off a cliff, but that you do as well, regardless of your faith, the sincerity of your prayer, or what the NT says. You don't wear a parachute, you're going to squish. All of the evidence supports "squish." There's no evidence for "magically float"; and so it is entirely unreasonable to expect an attempt to do so to work.

Reality is that thing that does not go away as a convenience to one's beliefs.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Rick posted:

> Or is this particular manuscript considered fresh
> enough? Must be just another figment of my overly-faithy
> imagination.

I don't even understand what you're trying to say here, Rick. Would you be so kind as to make a direct statement?
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
> But I don't understand the argument that
> Christ never existed. It doesn't hold water at all.

First, the point is that there is no proof that Christ existed, this is not an argument that he didn't exist. It is not the non-Christian's obligation to prove that he didn't exist. It is the Christian's obligation to prove he did exist. I'm simply observing that the pursuit of such proof is severely hobbled by the lack of known corroboration. When you say, "Christ existed", and I say "There's no proof of that claim", the burden is on you to show there is such proof.

Second, you say that the idea that Christ didn't exist "doesn't hold water." That's a very specific claim. So I simply ask, why do you say so? What evidence do you have that he existed? If you can really dispose of the "doesn't exist" possibility with a dismissive "doesn't hold water at all", one presumes you have solid justification that he did exist. I'm all for hearing about such evidence; so what is it? Share!
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supporter
Posted by Bob L. (+5096) 14 years ago
But if CHRIST didn't exist, then the basis of a particular set of beliefs is completely invalidated, then you have a problem - which no amount of look-over-there-ism or ad absurdium logic will truly obviate.



But....but....but....

That's all Rick has!
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Rick, never mind, I see Eric's message now and caught the context.

To put it simply:

Christians claim Christ existed.

In response, I observe that I have found no evidence of this. I'm not trying to prove he didn't exist; You're trying to prove he did.

You can trivially counter this by simply providing evidence. The NT doesn't qualify; that's like trying to use a Jack Ryan novel to prove Jack Ryan exists because the Jack Ryan novel says so.

Ball's in your court.
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Posted by Chris Peterson (+162) 14 years ago
Religion is very personal in nature. Any belief which damns you for not believing it warrants scrutiny. Why are Christians so intimidated by non-Christians? They even tried to use the Olympics to smuggle Bibles into China. Sad. I remember one time in Atlanta, my wife, kids, and I were invited to the residence of a Southern Baptist minister for the day. They were a real nice family in a modest home. The minister and myself were out lighting the BBQ when he asked me if I had accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and stated that those who had not were not going to be saved. I did not answer him directly. I told him I saw myself going in the direction of many others. Albeit many different paths, all seemed to be leading in the same general direction and to the same destination, just using different verbage. I stated it is more important how I live my life rather than how I believe a person should live theirs. I dont want to be told what to believe, but would rather learn what beliefs enritches the lives of others. He seemed apalled that a Christian could accept other religions and believe in Christ. He did not speak to me again nor were we invited back. The cup example is awsome. Just my opinion.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+12372) 14 years ago
I am a devout Pastafarian. The Flying Spaghetti Monster touched the earth with his noodly appendage and life was created.

Prove this true or false.

That's the problem with religion. It isn't a matter of real or unreal, true or false, it is belief or unbelief. I feel everyone should be allowed to believe whatever they like, be it virgin births or FSM. I also feel I should be allowed to live my life and practice my beliefs without yours intruding and vice versa. The problem with two of the big religions these days is they insist on trying to force me to live by their beliefs when I would rather not.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+846) 14 years ago
Which came first - the sauce or the pan?
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founder
Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
Pastafarian? Hmm, then you believe Lasagna made the earth, and his first son, Ravioli was sent to guide us, that Macaroni will be the ruin of us all?

Here's what I'm getting from this thread, besides a craving for Spaghetti.....

The various religions of the world refuse to get along. Each believes they are right and the other is wrong. Based on what each religion believes, all persons should live by the doctrine of that religion. All others are essentially evil, or lost and need to be brought into the fold, or banished.

Nobody of a particular religion wants their families to see how other families, of a different religion, choose to live, play, worship, work, etc., because other religions are all wrong.

Therefor, it is acceptable to wage war, starve, mame, crucify, torture, blow up, behead, burn, or otherwise defeat those that oppose the right religion. Regardless of whether the right religions written word, scripture, or other form of text says "Thou shalt not....". In the name of the religion it's okay to 'shalt not' in order to further the religion.

If those disbelievers won't convert, they will be banished, or worse, so we won't be forced to put up with things like freedom of choice, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, porn shops, R rated movies, swearing on TV, banned books (like Moby Dick- there's some porn for you), bikinis, short skirts, men without beards, piercings, tattoos, Mohawk hair cuts (can we put mullets in there, too?), women mingling with men, the right to vote, democracy (rather than theocracy, socialism, communism, etc.).... I can go on for a long time.

I wonder if we shouldn't divide the world up and give each major religion a continent. Since the Americas are mostly Christian, I say Christians stay in the Americas; Protestants in North America, Catholics get South America. Islam can have the African continent. Buddhists can have Asia major, Hindus can have Asia minor- that's a cop out isn't it? Australia can go to New Age, Secular, Atheists, Agnostics, and aboriginal/native faiths. Europe is the tough one; it can go to the Scientologists. Antarctica will remain neutral and unpopulated until the earth warms and then we can wage war over its resources. Did I forget any major religions, those other wrong ones?

Next!

[This message has been edited by Chad (edited 8/18/2008).]

[This message has been edited by Chad (edited 8/18/2008).]

[This message has been edited by Chad (edited 8/18/2008).]
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Posted by Salli (Scanlan) Starkey (+236) 14 years ago
95% of the prophecies in the Bible have come to pass (100% correct). I believe the rest are coming soon. Look at the Middle East. Read Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg.

I have had miracle after miracle in my life. Unexplainable intervention. My husband was shot; the bullet entered the left side of his neck and exited the lower rib cage on his right side. The x-ray showed the path of the bullet swerved to miss his heart and spine. I was 7 months pregnant and the burglars put me in handcuffs and said they were going to take me into the desert and kill me. I could feel Gods presents, and felt protected. My husband spent 2 days in the hospital and was out of work for a year. We survived doing odd jobs. You could add up our income and expenses and we were usually a couple hundred short - but yet everything got paid on time.

I could tell stories that would curl your toes. I know that I know that I know, because of what I went through - I pray that He doesn't have to scare the hell out of you to get you to open your eyes.

God is so good; you can't imagine how much He loves you. He clothed Himself in flesh and came to earth to show you the way. He stands at the door of your heart and knocks, but He does not open the door. He gave you free-will, it's your choice. You have to open the door and ask Him in. I hope some of you do. Just ask Him.
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
Like I said earlier, this needs to be gone at slowly...

But first, the one thing I'll say, although it's part of another argument is that it's a dangerous game auto-dismissing all evidence that comes from sources who disagree with you.

To me it's like saying "If Al Gore is really saving the planet, why isn't Ann Coulter saying so?"

There is quite a bit of history in the bible that has proven even archaeologists wrong. Dismissing all of it out of hand seems fairly convenient.

Anyway let's get into specifics, so that we can see where your argument lies. Do you believe, as we've all been taught, that Christians were persecuted in Rome by Nero in or around 64 AD?
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supporter
Posted by Bob L. (+5096) 14 years ago
But first, the one thing I'll say, although it's part of another argument is that it's a dangerous game auto-dismissing all evidence that comes from sources who disagree with you.


---------------------


Ah.....

Take a deep breath. Irony is in the air!
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Warning: Post contains SARCASM (may cause head to explode)

> My husband was shot; the bullet entered the
> left side of his neck and exited the lower
> rib cage on his right side.

Yes! A Miracle! Would that we could all be shot!

> I was 7 months pregnant and the burglars put
> me in handcuffs and said they were going to
> take me into the desert and kill me.

Yes! A Miracle! Handcuff me too! And Scare me till I pee myself!

> My husband spent 2 days in the hospital and
> was out of work for a year.

Yes! Another Miracle! Take my Job and give me hospital bills!

> I could tell stories that would curl your toes.

Um... another miracle? Curl my toes? Wait...

> God is so good; you can't imagine how much He loves you

Why, sure I can. He loves me so much he let my father and mother and two best friends die of cancer. He loves me so much he let my sister die of "causes unknown" and my brother die in the crib. He loves me so much he let my favorite cat die of feline leukemia. He loves me so much he let the constitution of the united states become "just a piece of paper." He loves me so much, he let a quarter of a million people die in eleven countries due to a big wave. He loves me so much, he let a bunch of camel-humpers kill 3000 people at the twin towers. He loves me so much he's let the love of my life get diabetes, degenerate thyroid, breast cancer, and painfully swollen feet. He loves me directly and personally, too, I have this hernia to prove it. And I'm losing the vision in my left eye. And my hearing is going. I *do* feel the love!

> He clothed Himself in flesh

Ew... there are some things I just won't do, ok?

> and came to earth

Oy vey.

> He stands at the door of your heart and knocks

This is to go along with hernia, right? All those years of exercise, and my heart's going to start acting like a Hugo with bad gas.

/SARCASM

> He gave you free-will, it's your choice. You have
> to open the door and ask Him in. I hope some of you
> do. Just ask Him.

Yeah, free will. I definitely have that. And you know what it tells me to do? It says "examine the evidence"; and there isn't any.

It says "look at belief" and I do and I see it in equal parts in Christians, Muslims, Hindus and eaters of colloidal silver, and so I know that belief is not a usable metric.

It says "note that faith led the UFO cultists to suicide and the Camel Jockeys to fly into the twin towers" and so I know faith is not a usable metric.

It says "check out other stories" and I did and I found far more creativity and literary skill than in the bible and so mere stories in the bible do not impress me.

It says "true love is balanced and fair" and so random events where people survive horrible things and others die for no reason do not lead me to think that "god" is showing love.

It says "check out the scientific method" and I did, and it works and provides consistent, dependable, repeatable results -- unlike religion.

It says "Look at the religiously inspired laws on marriage" and I do, and they are ridiculously unfair and uneven.

...I too could go on, but I don't think your toes would curl.

In the end, since you felt it your duty to let fly with your delusional rant, I feel that it is my sad duty in turn to be the one to inform you that you are nutty as a fruit-bat.

Your twisted logic is apalling. Heinous things happen, and by some slight margin, you survive - and your reaction is you were... saved. No. Let me tell what "saved" would be. Saved would be where the guy who shot your husband instead was cleaning his weapon beforehand and caught a misfired bullet in the ear - and your husband never knew or lost his job or went to the hospital. Saved would be when they were in the planning stages of tying you up, they tripped on the rope and severed their own spinal cords - and YOU didn't even get to be scared. And he sent you rainbows and puppies and kittens. And licorice. Just to make you happy because you're such a fabulous Christian.

What kind of psychopathic freak show tortures people in order to "save" them... sort of... and then expects them to be grateful?

Oh wait -- I know! I know!

Christians love to portray their god as some kind of loving father. But I can tell you - as a loving father - that no loving father would stand idly by while his children were scared, injured or sick without doing everything possible to ameliorate the situation.

The Christian god is the kind of father that puts his child's hand on a red hot stove just so the child will come screaming to him yelling "Daddy! Daddy! It Hurts! Owie!" and so that the child can look at he twisted mass of scar tissue all it's life, just so it can fondly remember those moments when daddy said "there, there, my clueless one, remember: yes, I saw to it your hand was burned to a crisp, but I didn't cause the stove to fall on you. This is because I love you."

Sheesh.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Rick continues:

> But first, the one thing I'll say, although
> it's part of another argument is that it's
> a dangerous game auto-dismissing all evidence
> that comes from sources who disagree with you.

I don't. I dismiss all evidence that is profoundly unsupported (walking on water) barring actual proof (come walk on some water for me.) That's not related to who tells me; it's related to reporting magic as if one were expected to believe it without evidence. Doing so discredits the teller instantly.

> There is quite a bit of history in the bible
> that has proven even archaeologists wrong.
> Dismissing all of it out of hand seems fairly
> convenient.

We've already established that the bible contains a great deal of accurate context for the time described. Duly stipulated and admitted to the record, right along with Tom Clancy's John Ryan books. Now, what about this magical fellow, "Christ", Rick? Where's the archeological record for him?

> Anyway let's get into specifics, so that we can see
> where your argument lies. Do you believe, as we've
> all been taught, that Christians were persecuted
> in Rome by Nero in or around 64 AD?

Well, I don't outright believe it, because that would be entirely too credulous a stance for something that specific, that long ago, but I consider it entirely possible. There is every indication that Christians were just about as annoying then as they are today. Letters complaining about them, etc. So I have a reasonable confidence that such an event could have happened as reported, yes. The fire, too. The fiddle part, no. The fiddle hadn't been invented yet as far as we know, so I rule that right out barring further information.

That answer your question?
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supporter
Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15369) 14 years ago
-One of the things that has always amazed me about you a-theist types is how you have many systematized beliefs about religion, but invariably claim not to have any religious beliefs. The truth is that the systematized denial to which you cling is by definition a religion, with the a-theist usurping the role of God for themselves. I could maybe respect that kind of reasoning if a-theists were honest about that one fact.
~~~~
-The premise that developing ones religious beliefs is like shopping at Home Depot, that we can decorate our inner sanctuary with thoughts and saying from a variety of "spiritual sources", is non-sequitur. If one is a committed Christian, Hindu, Muslim, etc, the mixing of theologies is not an option. This is one of those issues that to some is like trying to explain how to get back from a place you never been. "Open-mindedness" is by definition not an option if you are committed to a particular world view.
~~~
-I recognize that several of you ( Hi Major ) have a highly vested interest in the moral equivalency argument, i.e. "Christianity is no different than any other religion". Obviously, if in fact it is different, then it forces you to confront your own self-indulgent and self centered religious point of view. The facts of history are that we know where Buddha, Mohammed, and Elvis were buried, and they are all still where they were buried. It is historical fact that there was a man - Jesus Christ who was crucified on a roman cross, died, and was buried. This is undeniable historical fact, not some from an "imaginary friend". Unlike Buddha, Mohammed, and Elvis, Jesus Christ's tomb is empty because He rose from the dead. You can go and visit the empty tomb location for yourself.

Instead of asking "is your religion right and all others wrong" a more appropriate question is: in the eternal scheme of life, how wrong can you afford to be?

[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (edited 8/18/2008).]
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Posted by ABC (+383) 14 years ago
So in your first paragraph you are basically saying athiests have a God complex. Hate to tell you this, but we don't.

ABC
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Posted by LG (+197) 14 years ago
I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can't generate. Life becomes stagnant.
-Rufus the black Apostle
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1882) 14 years ago
I had no idea Miles City had a "Pastafarian" problem.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+846) 14 years ago
"The facts of history are that we know where Buddha, Mohammed, and Elvis were buried, and they are all still where they were buried. It is historical fact that there was a man - Jesus Christ who was crucified on a roman cross, died, and was buried. This is undeniable historical fact, not some from an "imaginary friend". Unlike Buddha, Mohammed, and Elvis, Jesus Christ's tomb is empty because He rose from the dead. You can go and visit the empty tomb location for yourself."

Really? Like the mattress incident - the only thing an empty tomb proves is that there is no body in the tomb. Maybe there was never a body in the tomb. Maybe the body was removed. Maybe the body rose from the dead. The absence of a body does in no way prove divinity. Should I consider my empty family plot as proof that I am god? I should think not.

"Instead of asking "is your religion right and all others wrong" a more appropriate question is: in the eternal scheme of life, how wrong can you afford to be?"

Ah, this argument again. "If you don't really believe, then as an insurance policy, it's a good idea to fake it just in case your wrong."

FACT: There is no free will in Christianity.
PROOF:
1. God is perfect and cannot make a mistake. All his creation is good and perfect, including hell.
2. God knows everything that was, is or shall be- ergo, he knew 14.5 billion years ago who he was going to send to hell. Therefore it was pre-determined -> no free will. Nice guy.
3. God created everything. Nothing exists except by his hand. Therefore, God created sin and suffering (all good and perfect).
4. God claims free will, but with a loaded gun at your head. "Worship me or die!"

I for one cannot subscribe to the loaded-gun free will paradox. Further, it's not my position to sacrifice my principles as an "insurance policy". Finally, there has been more hatred, bloodshed, racism, chauvinism, guilt, repression, oppression and other nastiness "at the hand of God" or in his name (or alias) than I can tolerate.

We keep asking for evidence - this and other threads - surely you can give us more than an "empty box" to prove his existence. (can't, can you)

To get back on topic: How many different religions are there these days anyway? - which one is "right"?
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1882) 14 years ago
One ironic thing about this thread is the fact that the "faithful" should not require physical proof of their God's existence, yet they often search for "proof". People have been searching for Noah's Ark since God(more irony) knows when.

Here's my explanation of the Noah's Ark story:
Big flood hits. Old dude and family were lucky to have been working on their boat and manage to get some supplies and even livestock on board.
They live to tell the story which gets bigger and better after every telling. After many many generations, the lousy boat has morphed into the Mega-Ark, and the livestock(a couple cows and some chickens) have morphed into everything from elephants to hookworms. Many mating-elephants-rock-the-boat-jokes ensue plus a lame Hollywood comedy.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Richard sallies forth with:

A reduced version of "Pascal's Wager"!

This is the argument that if you believe, and you're right, you win; if you believe, and you're wrong, nothing lost; if you don't believe and you're wrong, you lose really, really badly; if you don't believe and you're wrong, nothing lost. So the conclusion is, better to believe.

However, this argument depends on knowing what the right belief is. Christianity was Pascal's presumption; but what if the Jews are right? What if the Hindus are right? What if the Muslims are right? What if the Zoroaster-folk were right? What if the Pastafarians, noodle help us, are right? What if Zeus is up there, laughing, polishing his trident? What if any number of the other thousands of religions that have come and gone, or not, are right? What if no one has figured it out yet? And then there is atheism.

Suddenly it is very clear that in and among these religions, it's not a simple four-valued choice, and that Christians have many "very bad" choices they can make, even assuming supernatural godhood is reality.

Richard's version:

> Instead of asking "is your religion right and all
> others wrong" a more appropriate question is: in
> the eternal scheme of life, how wrong can you
> afford to be?[/i]

...yep, same argument. Same flaws. Same threat, too.

Here you are, trying your best to do the right thing, but Christianity's message is, if you don't believe, you're going to be a toaster pizza. A burned toaster pizza. That screams. Forever. In a lake of fire.

> The truth is that the systematized denial to
> which you cling is by definition a religion,
> with the a-theist usurping the role of God
> for themselves. I could maybe respect that
> kind of reasoning if a-theists were honest
> about that one fact.

Richard, Richard. If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color.

Look. Concentrate. Atheism means "without belief in a god or gods." "a" is the root for without; "theism' means "belief in a god or gods." It does not mean "belief there is no god", though one could take that stance and still be atheist. I don't hold a belief in your god (or any other.) You want me to hold one? I'm perfectly ready. Just prove it exists. Go ahead. You do that, I'll believe. That is not a religious or dogmatic posture. It is flexible, reasonable, and positive.

You, on the other hand, believe what you believe in spite of numerous legitimate questions you cannot face, many of them posed directly to you on this forum. You make assertions about the historicity of a figure, but when the data is handed to you, you change the subject. Reality never, ever delivers you your god, but no, you won't change your position. This is reasoning from a frozen outlook. Dogma. Your outlook has fossilized. You have exchanged reason for dependency.

You accuse atheists of "systemized denial", which is really pretty funny. You're making a claim. We say, "prove it." You can't. Your response to this is to say we're in denial. You're not fooling anyone but other Christians, and probably not a lot of them, either. Who could fail to note that you've utterly dropped the ball on each and every point you've been challenged on?

And that bit of usurping the role of god for ourselves? I don't recall ordering that tsunami, or the hit on the twin towers, or the steering of that bullet around Mrs. Bewildered's husband's heart. I don't recall claiming I designed the universe, or that I am omnipotent, omnipresent, or even omniscient. I'm just an observer, a tiny, tiny cog in an incomprehensibly huge machine. The key thing is, though, it neither scares me nor makes me want to believe there are answers to all questions.

> It is historical fact that there was a man - Jesus
> Christ who was crucified on a roman cross, died,
> and was buried. This is undeniable historical
> fact, not some from an "imaginary friend".

Yes? Then again, what is your source, other than the bible?

If your only source is the bible, you're using the book of Oz to prove there was an Oz. Books are often fiction. Books that contain magic, so far, have always been fiction. If your only evidence for Christ is in a book that tells magical tales, or stories that Christians told long after the religion started up, then your claims of "undeniable historical fact" are utter nonsense because there are no historical facts. So again, Richard, where are your facts from Christ's time?

> "Open-mindedness" is by definition not an option
> if you are committed to a particular world view.

Yes, we see that, Richard. No argument here; you've proved this repeatedly, as have your fellows in Christianity.

[This message has been edited by Major Pain (edited 8/18/2008).]
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Posted by K. D. (+371) 14 years ago
"Stones for sale. Get Your stones here. Stones for sale."

"Oh, hi Mr. Major. You say you would like to buy some stones. Well I am running a great deal right now. Buy 4 stones and get the 5th one free. In fact, I have a perfect person to stone. Her name is Salli. Yeah she went through a few hardships in life, and was spewing all about it, but I know it is nothing compared to all you have been through. Yeah I know, your cat dying, the people in the world trade center, a relative or two dying; yeah the hardships you had to face. I'll tell you what, for her being so unruly and unkind, if you can crush her soul, I will give you 2 more stones for free. Just don't kill her, because we know how much her god loves for her to suffer."

I don't get it. What little bit she had to say, you go off on a rant about how you were cheated in life. If her belief(s) get her through the day, then so be it. If your nonbelief(s) get you through the day, again, so be it. But, apparently your nonbeliefs are not getting you through the day, as you are pretty much the #1 poster on this post trying to get your point through.

Warning, stone throwing may cause one or more of the following: uncontrollable crying, uncontrollable bowel movements, uncontrollable urination, uncontrollable bleeding, dizzyness, vomiting, erectile dysfunction, loss of sexual motivation, and/or weight loss.

Do not drive or operate heavy equipment while being stoned.

This product was made in no way to endorse Salli, believers, nonbelievers, and/or any diety, living or dead.

[This message has been edited by K. D. (edited 8/19/2008).]
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
> I don't get it.

No argument on that point from me. But don't worry, it isn't catching.

> you go off on a rant about how you were cheated in life.

No, I "went off" on a description of a not uncommon (and certainly nothing to do with being cheated) set of life's slings and arrows for the simple reason that it is worth pointing out that this "loving god" Christians love to talk about either isn't loving, or isn't there, period. Which point you missed completely in favor of a misdirected urge to play clueless knight in shining armor. Doesn't pay to be even slightly indirect, much less subtle, sometimes.

> If her belief(s) get her through the day, then so be it.

But if *my* considered opinion gets me through mine, I should drink a nice hot cup of shut the heck up, is that it? No, sorry.

See, here's the thing. If its ok for Christians to run around, telling everyone they meet their stories, asking if they've been "saved", etc., then either it is ok to respond to them - or we're living in some kind of theistic nightmare.

Now, if you look, you'll see that she posted first, I responded. I didn't go dig her up; she decided to enter into a set of posts that were dealing at considerable length with some of the fundamental religious issues, and not in an apologetic manner. She felt perfectly comfortable in asserting her views; I felt perfectly comfortable responding. I still do.

> "Stones for sale. Get Your stones here. Stones for sale."

Perhaps you'll take your stones back to the OT and stone to death any female who is not a virgin prior to marriage, or commits adultery. Stoning. Another fabulous religious canker on the face of reason attributed to that same all-loving god she was going on about.

Thanks for bringing it up. The OT is usually ignored by Christians, it not being a very convenient portrayal of that "loving" god they believe in. Pillars of salt, plagues of boils, kill all the babies, etc. What a great guy, this god of theirs.

Stoning isn't a metaphor, you know. OT-following religious types really thought, and think, that was what they should do.

And if, in your opinion, a counter opinion - regardless of the tone it is delivered in - is equivalent in even the loosest way to stoning, then I say to you that you have no idea what either stoning, or intellectual honesty, entail. Or liberty, for that matter. Which brings us back to your admission:

> I don't get it.

Exactly. And I still don't tell you you shouldn't be posting. Why do you think that is? Do you need someone to whack you with a metaphorical clue-stick?
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Posted by J. Dyba (+1339) 14 years ago
Major,

You're starting to get a little heavy handed in your approach. You're probably smart enough to figure out what that does to an intended audience.

You can't argue logic against the illogical. I figured out long ago, in any religious topic involving Rick or Richard, to just back away slowly.
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Posted by Chuck Schott (+1286) 14 years ago
Here's all I need to know about religion and the men and women who believe in it. The world would be a really, really scary place without religion or it's practitioners, so God (?) bless them.

Any other discussion about the subject is way above my pay grade.
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Posted by howdy (+4945) 14 years ago
I think the Major has the same right to express his thoughts as much as the so called religious do. It is called "free speech", which is a right that has suffered lately in this country. I applaud "free speech".
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
For the record, religion for the most part is a good thing and has helped to civilize much of the world. When it is forcibly used as a reason to wage war, imprison, enslave or otherwise do harm then it is bad and wrong.

I think at the root of all religions are basic rules of good behavior, as interpreted by religious scholars and leaders. That's where the problem is, much is often lost or misunderstood in interpretation. Interpretation also allows for concepts and ideas to be introduced or molded into a text or script.

How a text or script is interpreted also leaves a great deal of room for imposing ones will on another group. In Christianity, Martin Luther probably had the right idea by calling for religion to be practiced and written in the common/native language of those practicing it. That shared the script with the masses much to the dismay of The Church.

I think having a well educated, literate, healthy, and prosperous society also makes an enormous difference in how religion is interpreted. People that are content are less likely to wage war; unless an evil empire poses a threat to their lifestyle or they start running out of oil.
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Posted by Salli (Scanlan) Starkey (+236) 14 years ago
Oh Major - I'm so sorry for the pain & anger in your life. What a witness you will be when you see the light (sorry if you rebel over that, but, watch for it).

God does not control us - men (and women) both Christian and non, do bad things (it's all about choices) . as for me (and not all of my house is saved) but I will serve the Lord with all my heart and try to do good (to the best of my ability).

I also believe that everyone has the right to choose, and I don't have a problem with whatever they choose - I love ya anyhow!

Atheists and agnostics just don't know God. (yet)
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3714) 14 years ago
Major,

I haven't read your posts, but you certainly generate impressive blocks of text.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+12372) 14 years ago
Religion is matter of belief, not facts. Faith, not proof. No one can prove god, in any form exists. You can believe or not believe. I don't believe and no amount of someone else's belief will effect mine. That's pretty much all there is to religion. The problem for me arises in how the believers mess with their own text and then try to force it on me.

Except for the marinara sauce. Everyone should have lots of marinara sauce on their religion.

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Posted by Levi Forman (+3714) 14 years ago
I don't know what marinara has to do with religion, but now you have me craving pasta and it's still 2 hours until lunch. :P
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Salli sallied:

> Oh Major - I'm so sorry for the pain & anger in your life.

Anger? Why would I be angry at random events? Anger is an emotion appropriate for agents of change that have volition - death and randomly acquired diseases do not qualify.

My point in laying those things out (complete with sarcasm warning... you do know what sarcasm is, don't you?) was to use reality to demonstrate to you that your god is either not loving or simply imaginary. If these events were actually mediated by god, why then I'd have a reason to be angry: because he would have failed to intervene, which would make him a rather nasty piece of work.

But that would require god to exist, and as there's not even the tiniest shred of evidence for that, there's no reason at all to waste any energy on anger. It's useless, pointless, and ridiculous - all at once. Wasted energy that is far better spent on making the best of one's life.

As for pain, sure, I miss my family, friends and wards and I am deeply concerned for my lady, and so thanks for that.

> What a witness you will be when you see the
> light (sorry if you rebel over that, but,
> watch for it).

Why would I rebel over it? If there's ever objective proof of a god or gods, I'll be very interested. Just as I am presently interested in the complete lack of same. I don't reject reality, Salli, I just observe it in order to keep a reasonably close grasp on what it is. I'm perfectly ready to flex if new information comes to light. Not a very religious attitude, I know, but really, it doesn't rule out the possibility of a god or gods. No matter how unlikely and unsupported by the present evidence such a turn of affairs would be.

> Atheists and agnostics just don't know God. (yet)

Right. Or the Easter bunny. Or fairies. And all for the same reasons. Magical stories are usually just... stories. Faith and belief, no matter the quality or quantity, don't create any of the above.

In the meantime, the absurdly low quality of the claims for god, particularly the Christian version of god, ensures that "knowing god" remains of extremely low order probability. I just don't want you to underestimate how low I think that probability is, or how irrational and unsupported I think the Christian position is.
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Posted by Helena Handbasket (+29) 14 years ago
"Everyone should have lots of marinara sauce on their religion."

Praise the Lord and pass the Parmesan!
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Levi Forman struggles to convey:

> I haven't read your posts, but you certainly
> generate impressive blocks of text.

Why, thank you. So nice to hear from the lexically challenged.

While you work to step up the degree of text you can manage past Dr. Seuss-sized blocks, perhaps you'll enjoy the diversion of searching the font reflow for rivers of spaces.

I have heard that for those with reading disabilities like yours, it is almost as fascinating as wondering why phone books contain all those numbers.

You have a nice day, now.
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3714) 14 years ago
I have just read a lot of message boards and it's a rare post that's worth spending 10 minutes of my time reading so I generally skip anything that takes more than one turn on my scroll wheel to get through. Nothing personal, just a rule of thumb I have developed over the years.
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Posted by Mark (+36) 14 years ago
Hey Chad,

Speaking of religions... Will I see you at the Church of the Beartooth Rendevous this weekend?

When are you riding up?

All praise the Airhead!
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Posted by AJS (+221) 14 years ago
CHRISTIANITY IS A LIFESTYLE:

Why do men try to blame God for their problems? God was not born, but man was. When I read the Bible, I see me, a sinful human being.

When you look into a mirror, what do you see? A skeleton of a person who has a soul housed within? No matter how hard you may try, the soul can not get out. The soul is dead, even thou the body is alive.
When a person repents and is baptized, he becomes a living Spirit.
To the Christian he is born again. Man by nature is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that results in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction.
HE HAS BEEN ROBBED OF THE TRUTH!
When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He said I must go that the Comforter may come unto you and reveal the Truth. It is impossible for a person to read the Bible and understand what it says without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Godliness with contentment is a great gain. You brought nothing into this world, and you can take nothing out of it.

FAITH:
You live each day by Faith. What makes you think, that you will wake each morning, except by Faith? Faith is what a Christian has in his belief in Jesus Christ, because of his teachings and resurrection. He uses the Bible for his learning and instructions.

Jim Davis
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Posted by Salli (Scanlan) Starkey (+236) 14 years ago
Major, There is a difference between religion and Christianity.
Religion: mans attempt at feeling good about himself.
Christian: a follower of Jesus the Christ (Anointed One)

Proof = No one can prove God exists (till He comes again) but give this some thought. If I have salt shaker in my hand and I look at it and see design and purpose and I know someone created it, even though I have not seen the creator. It did not crawl out of the swamp and become a salt shaker. For this universe to have come from nothing would be like having an explosion in the press room and ending up with the Encyclopedia Britannica. Look at anything in or on this planet or in the whole universe, everything has design and purpose, even if we don't like some of it. I could live without mosquitoes and ants.

If God created man in His image (I am a spirit, I have a soul & I live in a body) why would He not want to communicate with us. Maybe we have become so corrupt that He can't bear to look. Have you ever seen something so horrible that you had to turn away?

If Jesus paid the price for all our sins so that God could see us clean and pure, that communication could be restored. Jesus is the free gift for you to accept or reject. If you accept - you are forgiven.

In the meantime - Christians are to be a good example and I'll be the first to say, we all fall short. It's a sad thing & I apologize to anyone out there that has been hurt by professing Christians. We REALLY are not perfect - just forgiven.

By the way - a question to all. Why doesn't anyone say "Buddha dam it" or "Mohammad dam it"? Because there is no power there, just thought I'd ask.

I really don't try to cram this down anyone's throat. But I want the world to know who I stand for, and if anyone has questions - here I am.
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
Mark,

I"m afraid my airhead is struggling with electrical difficulties to this day. I think it's a ground problem and I have not had five minutes in a row to work on it. Rex has passed on some vital wiring diagrams and advice though.

I am also the chauffeur for the headline act at the Eastern Montana Fair. I'm giving them a lift to Rapid City Sunday morning.

Please eat, drink and be merry in my stead!

Salli,

"Why doesn't anyone say "Buddha dam it" or "Mohammad dam it"? Because there is no power there, just thought I'd ask."

Buddha- is not a god and never pretended to be one.

Mohammad- because if you say that your fellow members will behead you? That and Mohammad was a prophet, not a god. Allah = God.

FYI it's "damn it".

[This message has been edited by Chad (edited 8/19/2008).]
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Posted by Helena Handbasket (+29) 14 years ago
"By the way - a question to all. Why doesn't anyone say "Buddha dam it" or "Mohammad dam it"? Because there is no power there, just thought I'd ask."

Actually, I have never heard anyone say "Jesus damn it". God is not exclusive to Christians, most religions have one or several.
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Posted by J. Dyba (+1339) 14 years ago
"If I have salt shaker in my hand and I look at it and see design and purpose and I know someone created it, even though I have not seen the creator. It did not crawl out of the swamp and become a salt shaker. For this universe to have come from nothing would be like having an explosion in the press room and ending up with the Encyclopedia Britannica. Look at anything in or on this planet or in the whole universe, everything has design and purpose, even if we don't like some of it."


And yet if you learn about how nature works, truly learn and understand the science behind everything that exists it is very clear and logical how everything turned out the way it did. The problem is you have to actually learn, that seems to stump a lot of people.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+846) 14 years ago
I agree J.

I think the idea of the universe spontaneously existing out of nowhere is as preposterous and the idea of that God spontaneously existing out of nowhere.

Evidence and the study thereof lead me to conclude that the Universe has a very high probability of existing. I am very willing to learn, I study constantly. All I ask is that there be repeatable evidence to suggest the god exists. To date, not one shred of evidence has been put forth in that regard. The only thing even remotely supportive is the "insurance policy" mentality - and I would think an almighty being would see through hat charade.

Does God exist? I don't know. Maybe so. Maybe no.
Does the Universe exist? I don't know. Maybe so. Maybe no. The evidence suggests it does.
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Posted by Salli (Scanlan) Starkey (+236) 14 years ago
Why is it that scientific proof changes through the years?
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Posted by Mark (+36) 14 years ago
Manacotti damn you Chad! I can't believe you'd miss such an tempting opportunity to waste gas and kill brain cells!

Where are your priorities? Meh...

Check your flimjamfligger, I often find that the one on my bike comes loose giving the impression of an electrical problem. The best cure is to just throw your wallet at it... I've been doing alot of that lately!
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Posted by Salli (Scanlan) Starkey (+236) 14 years ago
Science is not my thing - here is an expert

http://www.khouse.org/6640_cat/

66/40 with Chuck Missler (66 books - 44 authors)

(subject) Technical - 16 broadcasts

The Lord knows more about Space and Time than we do, and He shares His insights with us. Numerous examples of how science is supporting (rather than disproving) Biblical truths.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+846) 14 years ago
"Why is it that scientific proof changes through the years?"

It doesn't. Evidence becomes more resolved and theories evolve based on improved evidence.

Is the Earth the center of the universe?

Science becomes more detailed and consolidated over the years.
Religion becomes more fragmented and diverse at the same time.
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Posted by Helena Handbasket (+29) 14 years ago
"Why is it that scientific proof changes through the years?"

I can't wait for Major Pain to answer this one!
** grabbing my Pepsi and a bowl of Popcorn **
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
AJS, addled, asserts:

> Why do men try to blame God for their problems?

I suppose that once they're deluded enough to think there is an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent being, by reputation responsible for all of creation, who is supposed to love them and who they are continually encouraged to call "father", they tend to think he'd be at least as competent as a human father is.

The blame would seem to be a perfectly natural consequence of finding out that no help ever comes from this figure, and that even the most slothful, incompetent and disinterested humans do a better job of caring for their children than their new imaginary friend.

But I'm just speculating; in that I view this "god" you talk about as no more than badly crafted myth, I have no experience blaming it for anything. I no more blame your "god" for anything than I blame unicorns for consuming the time of virgins.

> When you look into a mirror, what do you see?

A human being. More deeply, a human brain riding within its support system. No more, no less. No ghosts, souls, past lives, or imaginary friends; nothing unnatural, nothing other than a reasonably high-functioning animal. I see no reason to presume I'm missing anything significant in that analysis, either.

> You live each day by Faith. What makes you think,
> that you will wake each morning, except by Faith?

What makes you think that I presume I will wake each morning? The pragmatic and sensible approach is to live each day to the fullest, then go to sleep and enjoy the process. If I wake up, I try to enjoy that too. If I can get some coffee, anyway. Or at least an armful of warm, friendly cat.

That whole waking up process is rock-solid evidence of evolution - no "designer" would make system start-up so difficult. Only a local minima in the topology of the selection process could possibly account for such a thing. The marble simply can't get out of the valley for some unrelated reason.

Anyway, there's no assurance of waking; you can quantify it in terms of probabilities, but you're just playing the odds if you presume you will always wake up. Some day you're probably going down and you're going to stay down, unless you simply go nipples-north while you're awake. Best if you didn't preface that likely eventuality with self-delusion. Keeps you from procrastinating, for one thing; helps you to remember to tell your partner how you feel about them, too. Presuming you haven't already driven them away with tedious recitations of superstitious drivel, of course.

> Faith is what a Christian has in his belief in
> Jesus Christ, because of his teachings and resurrection.

Faith is what the UFO cultists had that assured them their ride after their suicide. Faith is what the hijackers of the planes that flew into the twin towers had. Faith is what the gentlemen who set the women on fire for being "witches" had. Faith is what the pope had that led his inquisition to burn Giordano Bruno at the stake, and to place Galileo under house arrest.

Faith is an extremely dangerous state of mind, leaping into profound effect on the basis of almost any ideology, no matter how polluted or noxious the underlying components might be. Christianity is a very potent example of this. History contains example after example where Christians have done enormous harm as a direct consequence of inflicting their faith on others, or in their complete disrespect for those who do not share in that faith.

I'll take rationality over faith any day. For precisely the same reasons I would take watching a sunset over dropping a tab of acid.

The former allows growing closer to the beauty and complexity of reality, of nature, of comprehension; the latter scrambles your intelligence into a shadow of its former self, while holding out the shallow appeal of well-decorated illusion as the booby-prize.

In this metaphor, Christianity is the booby prize. The bad news I have for you, Jim, is that you seem to have won it.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18248) 14 years ago
Demonic possesion
His court is in session
I signed my confession
Demonic possesion

It was raining on the day she told me
Them things that fella sold me
Mama wasn't there to scold me
No prison or cell could hold me

I still recall the date
I was probably about eight
When I sealed my fate
Your honor, I rightly state

Demonic possesion
His court is in session
I signed my confession
Demonic possesion

Suddenly I had a foothold
I became such a butthole
I don't need nobody consoling me
No one but the devil controlling me

I can kick ass and talk backwards
I hang out with a whole bunch of slackers
And I know I can get some help from him
I listen to a lot of Led Zeppelin

Demonic possesion
His court is in session
I signed my confession
Demonic possesion

I got so much money I don't need smarts
My records are flying to the top of the charts
And I'm eating in all those fancy restaurants
And hanging out with Jerry Lee Lewis

And I owe it all to him
Oh, the shape I'm in
The devil says the only thing that's buggin' him
Is Hell's filling up with Republicans

Demonic possesion
His court is in session
I signed my confession
Demonic possesion
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Posted by howdy (+4945) 14 years ago
Major Pain, just wanted to tell you that you are a welcome addition to the milescity.com threads. Such thought provoking posts are wonderful and so interesting. Thank you for providing it.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Salli sez:

> Major, There is a difference between religion and Christianity.

Salli, Religion is dogmatic adherence to unsubstantiated, superstitious mythology, manifesting as the belief and worship of a supernatural power, often with particular emphasis on gods or a god.

Christianity is merely a specific instance of religion, and a poorly crafted one at that.

> If I have salt shaker in my hand and I look at it
> and see design and purpose and I know someone created
> it, even though I have not seen the creator. It did
> not crawl out of the swamp and become a salt shaker.

This is a form of the simplistic argument for design. Salli, as you say in another post, science is not "your thing." Therefore, I will dispense with the fine details, as they are irreducibly scientific.

The bottom line is that there is a selection process that operates as a consequence of the natural tendency of different specimens of life to vary to some degree from one another, and of more successful forms to prevail when competing for resources against less successful forms. This leads to the gradual dominance of the more successful form.

This process continues at all times, in regard to all aspects of biological forms. Over long periods of time, it is perfectly capable of developing complex vision systems from simple light-sensitive spots; of regressing those same complex systems back into uselessness in dark environments; of specializing them into long distance, low light, forward facing for predation, side facing for defense, and so on.

This is true for every biological system that comes under pressure -- and the world is nothing but a pressure supply for this process.

The name of this process: evolution.

It is normal and natural that a person with a poor scientific background would not understand this process, and so feel that one could only attribute a complex object to a designer; but it is a scientific fact that complexity arises as a side effect of many other simple forces, a goodly number of which are found in nature.

The arguments for design are one of the most simplistic and least sophisticated attempts to create artificial justification for a creator; bringing that argument into play does your cause no favors. You're far better off sticking to faith sans reason, because it is the only self-justification for which there is no counter argument. Just FYI.

> I really don't try to cram this down anyone's throat.

And kudos to you for that thought, Salli, truly. If only your brethren were so minded, particularly those who find themselves in the roles of lawmakers. Were that the case, far fewer people would be as grievously annoyed, compromised, and outright damaged by these beliefs.

No doubt debate would continue, however. People are like that.

[This message has been edited by Major Pain (edited 8/19/2008).]
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
I love my father. He's alright even though he and my mom split up when I was a wee little boy. However, I can see that God must have been made up by men. Men who felt that fathers were more adept at creating and perhaps better at parenting. My experience and observation has shown me some men are that way, but most men are slackers, mediocre parents, too willing to bail out and take the easy path. 99.9% of mothers, on the other hand stick to it and are in it for the long haul. I think God should be a woman. I don't know too many people that dislike their mothers the way many dislike their fathers. Try this: Our Mother who art in heaven....
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Salli queries:

> Why is it that scientific proof changes through the years?

Science is a philosophy, and more to the point, in implementation, it is simply a methodology. It contains no facts, makes no assertions, invokes no laws.

To "do" science, one proposes an idea. The idea is to be in a form so that experiments can be designed to test it. Predictions are made in line with the idea, then the experiment is run to see if they are correct. In turn, if the idea represents a functional metaphor for reality, the experiment will obtain a result that agrees with predictions made in compliance with the idea. If the results do not match the prediction(s), then the idea must be refined. "Back to the drawing board", as the saying goes.

If successful, the experiment must be also be repeatable so that others can verify that the idea works, and so that they may extend or qualify it when and if new information related to that idea become available to them. This is "peer review" and also encompasses the process of refinement.

Within this methodology, the addition of new information and new ideas allows the continued refinement of previously existing ideas, and occasionally outright disproves one that consisted of a metaphor insufficient to the task of describing what it attempted to describe.

This results in a continuously refined web of interlocking ideas that get better and better at providing working models and metaphors for the reality around us; there are occasional steps back, but they are fairly rare because the mechanism is very reliable. The most unstable areas of science are those areas where the information being used to formulate ideas is itself unstable, difficult to come by, or predicated upon conditions we cannot replicate.

For example, examining the fossil record is one such area; not everything fossilizes, not every fossil survives over time, not every fossil is complete, but nonetheless, from this randomly incomplete set of information we wish to create as complete an assessment as possible of what forms lived when, and what changes they went through, and literally anything else we can learn from them. This is very difficult.

In the web of information generated by the scientific method, when something is found to be false, it only deserves to be discarded from the web, and perhaps examined for why the metaphor was thought to be correct when it actually wasn't. These are changes that are 100% positive. Why would we wish for false or inaccurate ideas to be allowed to accumulate?

This ability to flex, to continually inch closer to more accurate metaphors on many fronts at once (as many scientists constantly engage this process on many fronts), to subject the ideas to the review and dissection of their peers with expertise in the same field, this is what makes science the most powerful process humans have ever come up with. It created the critical portions of the computer you are using (the "central processing unit" and "memory" and more) from what amounts to nothing more than sand; it improves medical care on a daily basis, compensating for the numerous inefficiencies, flaws and vulnerabilities of the human body; it has allowed us to send machines into orbit, to the moon, to other planets and even past the edges of our solar system.

Science is both nothing but a rather simple methodology, and the most powerful force we have ever created. This is because of one undeniable truth: Science works more effectively and more reliably and more productively than any other intellectual tool we have.

While stability has its appeal, stability in a situation where the worldview is not yet perfectly accurate is not desirable. Science will not reach stability until there is no where else to go. That's what it is for - to develop knowledge as far as it can be taken, given the tools at hand and the mental resources we can apply.

This is why science changes over time. And it is a very, very good thing.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Thanks, Howdy. Much appreciated.
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Posted by Salli (Scanlan) Starkey (+236) 14 years ago
I read this a few years ago (I'm sorry I don't know where) It was one of those historical fact info sheets. I can't back it up (I wasn't around then) so do with it as you will.

"Two hundred years ago it was a scientific fact that if you bath to often your skin would deteriorate. "

I know, I know - I don't know where science was 2 hundred years ago (but the Bible is the same)
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Salli slung:

> "Two hundred years ago it was a scientific fact
> that if you bath to often your skin would deteriorate. "

So, presuming the anecdote is accurate, here we have a specific example of science improving, clearing out errors. Just as it is designed to do.

> I know, I know - I don't know where science
> was 2 hundred years ago (but the Bible is the same

The bible is indeed the same. Presuming you mean the KJV. So are the Norse myths. This does not transmute either of them into facts. Stability can represent peak performance, but it can also represent fossilization.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+846) 14 years ago
Is it?

The bible is certainly NOT the same. It has been translated (to English) many times over - each translation slightly different. There are different version of the bible. There are even more "interpretations" of those dozens of bibles. Much of this has come about in the last 200 years.

The whole compilation of the New Testament was a process that screened writings deemed "worthy" of the new Christian library. Who made that decision? If the bible hasn't changed, then what is the apocrypha? Some Christians maintain it is part of the bible, others not. This means there has been change since those books were written.

And what of the other "sacred texts", such as the book of mormon which was completely fabricated in the past 200 years.

Regardless, anyone who understands Science also understands that when someone misuses the term "scientific fact" they imply generally accepted thought of the time. A true scientist realizes that there are not "facts" per se - only repeatable observations.

Again, Science and theory evolved as tools and collective knowledge evolved. The universe is no longer viewed as centric crystal spheres because our tools improved and our theory evolved. The Planets are now understood to be large mass bodies in space along certain elliptical orbits around the sun - not "moving stars". Religion has only evolved because man needed to modify his religion to suit his desires-du-jour and never on scientific observation, test and collaboration - always on emotion or greed.
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
I doubt the bible is exactly the same as it was written. As I stated before, much can be lost or added in translation. Don't forget that languages evolve as well. Ever read the Canterbury Tales in auld English? That's old English today. And let's not forget that before Gutenberg started printing the bible, it was up to scribes, priests, and scholars to translate, interpret, and reproduce the bible. I once held a hand written bible from a couple hundred years ago, it was in Latin and belonged to a Catholic priest that had died. I was hired to ready his house for sale. The bible was really beautiful and had a heavy gold cover. Nice work of art.

For that matter, where's the first written bible? When was it written and by who? I can ask the same of all the major religion's written texts/scripts/documents. Dead Sea scrolls?

I'd like to see the golden tablets that Joseph Smith found in (Louisiana?), really, Louisiana? Left there by an ancient culture? I really don't want to offend anyone, but I wonder how other faiths, or other Christian denominations for that matter, feel about Mormon Christians? Any comments.
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Posted by Salli (Scanlan) Starkey (+236) 14 years ago
There are too many versions - yes.
I don't think God speaks with the King James accent!

If you read one that is translated from the original Hebrew/Greek - but still in translation, you loose something.

But what part of the 10 Commandment is so difficult for anyone to argue with (except Iran or?) What part of do unto others is so terrible?

Why are we banning God from everywhere?

If God gives you a nudge - connect with Him!
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Eric, Chad:

The following is from an essay I wrote some time ago:

---------

The New Testament was originally written, or so the current scholarly consensus goes, in Greek. This was the common language of scholars of that day and age, much as English is quite often used by scholars now. The authors of the various testaments and epistles, however, likely spoke in Aramaic; bearing witness to this are the quotations attributed to Jesus Christ (such as "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani", which is "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?", in Matthew 27:46). There is little question among scholars today that the New Testament was written in Greek, although a few dissenters assert that some portions were written in Aramaic. I would simply point out that since no one has any of the original documents, these arguments appear somewhat academic at this time.

It is interesting, and somewhat sad, to note that we have not one original document which is contained in the New Testament; the entire compilation is based upon copies, and copies of copies. Considering that Papyrus (paper, either in rolls or sheets made from the Papyrus plant) was the most common writing material during the first century after Christ's birth, it seems likely that this was the medium for the original works. The longevity of papyrus is unfortunately not of great extent without fortuitous environmental conditions, certainly not when compared with writing surfaces made from leathers. So, perhaps unfortunate timing with regard to the development of mediums for recording the written word accounts for the lack of original documents. Please note that this is a guess of mine, and has no more basis in fact than the assumption that the original books and letters were written in Greek.

Recent discoveries (in particular, the Dead Sea Scrolls) date from the first century after Christ, and these contain portions of the Old Testament and other intriguing documents. Not all the available scrolls have been researched or at least have had the results of any research published, and so other information may come to light, but as I write this no similarly dated copies (or originals!) containing portions of the New Testament have turned up.

There are over five thousand different historical (old enough to be used as source references) manuscript copies of the New Testament. Some are in Greek, some in Latin, and some in Hebrew. These generally date somewhere between the ninth and fifteenth centuries. Of that number, most are incomplete copies; sometimes this is due to loss of some of the manuscript, but it is often simply a consequence of the actual bulk of the various ancient transcription mediums (papyrus, vellum and parchment). Often, the New Testament was issued as a series of separate documents, for instance broken into The Four Gospels, the Acts and General Epistles, the Pauline Epistles, and the Book of Revelation.

With all these manuscripts, and parts of manuscripts, one might think that the resulting pool of information would be so vast as to render any effort at translation useless. This is not the case, however. Careful research into the origins of these documents reveals only a few primary sources for the text; and today, new translations often use the following three manuscripts as the basis for the majority of the text:

* The Vatican Manuscript (4th century; missing pages from Hebrews 9:14 to the end of Hebrews, also missing Timothy, Titus, and the Book of Revelation): Still accepted as the best reference by most authorities.

* The Sinaitic Manuscript (4th century; complete, plus contains two books known as "The Epistle of Barnabas" and the "Shepherd of Hermas")

* The Alexandrin Manuscript (5th century; 25 pages missing from Matthew, 2 from John, and 3 from 2nd Corinthians). This is generally known as the poorest of the three manuscripts.

Prior to 1526, the bible (both Old and New Testaments) circulated even among the clergy only in Greek and Latin. These texts were kept closely held by the religious authorities of the day, and even were this not so, the simple fact that the texts were in Latin or Greek with a smattering of Aramaic (or all three in one manuscript) was enough to keep the common man or woman from perusing the books and pondering the stories told within. This situation persisted against a backdrop of increasing agitation for a translation understandable by "all"; eventually the pressure rose to such a level that serious efforts to produce a "bible for the masses" were undertaken by various resourceful and scholarly individuals.

After several false starts and well intentioned but incomplete efforts, the complete New Testament was initially printed in English through the efforts of William Tyndale at Cologne, Germany and at Worms. In 1526 copies were smuggled into England; the church condemned the translation and moreover went so far as to burn copies they managed to obtain in public - they even attempted to buy up all the extant copies. They did not succeed, however. For his trouble, William Tyndale was strangled and subsequently burned at the stake by the church.

Many translations followed close on the heels of Tyndales work; King Henry VIII stated that each church should have a copy of one of these editions (The Great Bible), and caused this to come to pass. Finally, the Geneva Bible, produced in easily readable type and containing both marginal notes and illustrations, became the most widely used bible in England. It seemed the populace preferred it, but the church officials did not, as its commentary (the marginal notes and so on) put forth the views of the Calvinist Reformation. The church officials produced a bible called the Bishop's Bible with which they intended to replace the Geneva Bible, however the Bishop's Bible was never very popular and now has the reputation of not being particularly well produced in terms of scholarship. Finally, the King James version was produced as described next, and it has held the foremost position of all translations to this day.

Work on this version of the New Testament was begun in June of 1604 A.D. by those under the rule of King James I in England. King James' reign began on April 5th, 1603 - it seems quite clear that he wasn't inclined to waste time getting this started! The completed translation was first printed in 1611. Between 1611 and 1616, various changes were made to the text, some single words, the occasional phrase. By and large, however, the text remained as it was when first printed in 1611.

The King James Bible then replaced the bible then in use, the Geneva Bible, over the course of about fifty years. This was not without some resistance at the time, however, as this snippet of a critique penned by Hugh Broughton illustrates:

"Tell his majesty (King James I) that I had rather be rent in pieces with wild horses, than any such translation by my consent be urged on poor churches."

The King James version is well accepted at this time to be a reasonably accurate translation, even to the extent of bringing home the actual style and feel of the various authors of the testaments and epistles. The archaic form of English used in this translation is in some cases somewhat obfuscatory; however, it does lend a feel that assists the reader in the perception that this document is indeed old, and for that reason alone I prefer this translation.

More recent translations have attempted to make some points in the text clearer; however this has (in my opinion) often been at the expense of the sheer literary beauty of the 1611 King James edition.

-------------

The common shorthand for the King James edition is "KJV", which stands for King James Version.
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Posted by Salli (Scanlan) Starkey (+236) 14 years ago
As much as I am NOT a debater - I might not be able to resist getting into this again tomorrow.

for now - good night.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Salli spins:

> I don't think God speaks with the King James accent!

How much of the NT do you think is god speaking directly, using the spoken word? You've read the book, right?

> If you read one that is translated from the
> original Hebrew/Greek - but still in translation,
> you loose something.

Of course. And you gain the worldview of the translators, no matter how subtly. However, this book has been more closely scrutinized with regard to the quality of its translation that I think we can discard the idea that the KJV says very much that is at odds with the intent of the original books, or at least, the ones that are included.

> But what part of the 10 Commandment is so difficult
> for anyone to argue with

Well, keeping the sabbath day is rather annoying if you're not superstitious; thou shalt have no other gods before me probably ticks off the Hindus pretty thoroughly; thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, that's going to tweak a lot of sculptors of all creeds; thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy god in vain - god, that one annoys me a lot - as if it meant anything; as for V through X, I mostly agree, given that there aren't overriding concerns. It really isn't a very good list. I have one of my own that I think is far better:

1. Thou shalt be strong first in mind, and then in body, to thy limits
2. Thou shalt be fair
3. Thou shalt be honest
4. Thou shalt be peaceful, unless attacked
5. Thou shalt be kind to one another, animals and the earth
6. Thou shalt not trespass another's mind, body, home or possessions
7. Thou shalt not encourage ignorance and superstition, but advance knowledge
8. Thou shalt do what thou promises to do to the best of thy ability
9. Thou shalt not create unwanted children
10. Thou shalt not force thy views upon others

...not saying these are optimum, but they are a lot better than the pitiful drivel in the OT, anyway.

> Why are we banning God from everywhere?

We're not. We are trying to keep religion out of public spaces and legal venues, though. The former because those spaces are traversed by people of all creeds, and there's no need to inflict one particular set of ideas on them -- especially since they help pay for those spaces; the latter because if, for instance, you ask a Muslim to swear on a Christian bible, you're not going to get the desired result; conversely, we don't want sharia law taking root.

Keep religion at home, in your mind, in consensual discussions, on your person, at your church. It is inevitable that if you try to go further, you'll be stepping on other people's toes.

[This message has been edited by Major Pain (edited 8/19/2008).]
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1882) 14 years ago
I have no problem with Jesus. It's his fan club that scares the hell out of me.

The Bible may be the same but those who consider themselves "expert" enough to interpret it seem to be getting more selfish, violent, petty and judgmental as time goes on. I know too many Christians who think peace is a dirty word.

Was it Kinky Friedman who sang "They ain't making Jews like Jesus anymore"?
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Posted by Schmitz - Matt (+404) 14 years ago
Are we really going to invoke a moron like Kinky Freidman into what has been a most interesting topic of conversation? (Shaking my head sadly)
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Posted by Alice (+34) 14 years ago
This has been interesting.

[This message has been edited by Alice (edited 8/19/2008).]
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Posted by Chuck Schott (+1286) 14 years ago
I was waiting for Major Pain to hand down the commandments, now if he could just part the Yellowstone River at Hathaway I too will become a believer.
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Posted by Salli (Scanlan) Starkey (+236) 14 years ago
OK - my last comment in this thread.
The Bible is not a weapon to beat people over the head.
It is a "Manufacture Guide" if you will (refer to the Maker). A self improvement - and love letter from the Creator of the universe. If you can imagine how magnificent that is, I still get awestruck!

God is real and He loves me and I love Him.
Since I am spiritually "Born Again" (my spirit, which was a dead seed, has been reborn) the door to communicate with Him is open. (because I said yes to Jesus)

Like fruit from a tree that falls to the ground, dies and gives seed, with water (the Living Water) and food (the Bread of life) that dead little seed can grow to be a tree and produce fruit.

Christians are still human, it's a work in progress - we all screw up, all of us, what ever banner you wave.
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Posted by LG (+197) 14 years ago
And I repeat. Way better to have Ideas than beliefs.

Major, you seem to be amazingly well informed.
Is there a chance you could recommend some reading material to me?
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+846) 14 years ago
A love letter?

"Love me or DIE!" - how romantic.

Anyway - you really cannot reason with religious people; if you could, there would be no religious people.
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Posted by Bridgier (+9469) 14 years ago
"Love me or DIE"

That's one way of looking at it I guess...

I think this thread's expired though - the fundies on both sides of the coin have whetted their faith (or lack thereof) sufficiently upon their opponents intransigence.

[This message has been edited by Bridgier (edited 8/20/2008).]
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
Here's a site to read from that may interest some-

http://www.religioustole...x.htm#new
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3714) 14 years ago
Tolerance? How can we call each other idiots if we're being tolerant?
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Posted by K. D. (+371) 14 years ago
Two of my several favorite shirts from Wickedjester.com


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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15369) 14 years ago
"Keep religion at home, in your mind, in consensual discussions, on your person, at your church. It is inevitable that if you try to go further, you'll be stepping on other people's toes."

I will do just that IF you will also keep your religion of systematic denial to yourself and not go out of your way to tromp on other peoples toes.

My goal from this point forward is to try avoiding putting others in a position where they believe they need to defend their point of view. I am asking that the same courtesy be extended to me. It this agreeable?

[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (edited 8/20/2008).]
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
Richard,

I don't think that's possible. Because we all have differing views and beliefs of what our religion, philosophy, or code tells us is right and wrong, just and unjust, allowable and not. Our religions and how we interpret them gets between us. Some oppose abortion, some not. Some oppose tattoos and piercings, some not. Some oppose same sex relationships, some not. Some oppose polygamy, some not. Some oppose other races, some not.

It's pretty much a fact of life we can agree to disagree on some things and to agree on others.

I'd say being willing to step aside, to walk away when frustrated, or to step back and start over is good for all of us.
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Posted by Frank E. Ross (+57) 14 years ago
Amorette,
Your posting was the most intelligent and incisive of all the others. Hang in there lady!!
Frank E. Ross
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Posted by interesting_thoughts (+28) 14 years ago
Major and Brandt:
The two of you really know how to listen to others. Then you analyze everything about them, tearing them apart with what ever needs you see fit! I feel very sad seeing the pleasure you take in trying to make others feel incompetent to you! Please take a good look in the mirror and ask your self why you take such pleasure in this! When I read your malicious post, it truley angers me!
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
What I don't get is how people come into a thread specifically about religion and then act like their toes got stepped on because that's what people are talking about.

I think the one thing we've learned here is that if you don't want to hear things you don't like, don't talk about your religion (or a-religion)

The other thing we've learned is that this would be the only kind of "evidence" some would be willing to accept.



Sorry, couldn't help it
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18248) 14 years ago
"Truly" doesn't have an "e" in it
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18248) 14 years ago
That's not Jesus Christ, Rick, that's Charles Manson.
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
You know, I think you're right.

I wonder who did his tattoo removal.

Top notch work.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
I pontificated:

> Keep religion at home, in your mind, in consensual
> discussions, on your person, at your church. It is
> inevitable that if you try to go further, you'll be
> stepping on other people's toes.

Subsequently Richard ducked behind:

> I will do just that IF you will also keep your
> religion of systematic denial to yourself and
> not go out of your way to tromp on other peoples
> toes.

Rick extracted the log from Richard's eye:

> What I don't get is how people come into a thread
> specifically about religion and then act like their
> toes got stepped on because that's what people are
> talking about.

Whereupon I re-pontificate:

consensual discussion

When a thread erupts entitled "Is your religion right and all others wrong", then reasonable people can agree that this thread is a place where one is going to encounter people who intend to discuss religion.

Therefore, if, for instance, someone comes in here and makes a statement about religion that someone else finds debatable, etc., then the expectation, the norm, is that a response would be posted and that response would be entirely appropriate.

I also said:

> It is inevitable that if you try to go further,
> you'll be stepping on other people's toes.

This is the case where people are talking about something else. Let's say a kitten is run over by some idiot, and some non-religious type like me makes a remark out of the blue like "there is no heaven, that kitty's entire potential was just completely snuffed out." This is bringing religion (in the form of disrespecting heaven) to the table where no such discussion was ongoing, ergo, I had no one's consent. But I have opened the subject myself, which means I have given consent to have my ass handed to me. I'm the toe stepper; not anyone who responds.

On the other hand, were I a religious person, and I sallied forth (sorry, Salli) with "That kitty will meet its owner up on the rainbow bridge in heaven", then after everyone takes their diabetes medicine, I can expect to have my posterior handed to me on the basis of having dropped a religious assertion into a mundane conversation, which again means I have given consent to have my ass handed to me. I'm the toe stepper; not anyone who responds.

So, to re-iterate:

Keep religion at home, in your mind, in consensual discussions, on your person, at your church. It is inevitable that if you try to go further, you'll be stepping on other people's toes.

This discussion we are in is a consensual discussion. It has a huge "flag" in the form of its title, visible without having to enter into, or view, any of the content. People who come in here and drop religious remarks of one sort or another have no reasonable expectation of having those remarks (cough) "respected." This is not a forum of religious peers; it is a public forum, where any one person's opinion is as deserving of placement and response as someone else's.

Consequently, when "interesting thoughts" says:

> When I read your malicious post, it truley angers me!

...I neither take his/her imprecation seriously, nor concern myself with his/her opinion. He/she is complaining about people who willingly jumped into a snakepit - and is now complaining about them being bitten. Such complaints deserve no respect, and I'm not going to give them any.

And when "K.D." squeezed this out:

> "Stones for sale. Get Your stones here. Stones for sale."

I wasn't going to give that any respect, either.

What we're doing here, generally speaking, is consensually discussing the relative merits, or lack thereof, of religious and a-religious mindsets and related behaviors.

Opinions in these areas are naturally (and well known to be) strong, responses cover issues that are both sensitive and potentially upsetting for all parties.

If you are so thoughtless and free of even the slightest clue that you could "wander" in here and think you could drop some opinionated bomb on either side of the discussion and not receive a direct response that will almost certainly disagree with you on every point, then you probably shouldn't go outside without a guide dog, a court-appointed guardian, and a life-preserver.

That goes for this thread, and any thread that is labeled in a manner similar to this one. Religion, and a-religion are not sacred cows, and they should not be. They deserve respect when they are personal; and discussion when they are public or become a public force.

Now. If you want to discuss the issue at hand, by all means. If you don't, you can either observe, or go away, or complain. If you complain, you're going to either be ignored or disrespected. In the future, if you don't want to see such discussion, try to restrain yourself from entering such a thread. Try hard. Please.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Chuck Schott drips out:

> I was waiting for Major Pain to hand down the
> commandments, now if he could just part the
> Yellowstone River at Hathaway I too will become
> a believer.

Chuck, I only part the Yellowstone (and the Missouri) in occasional search for agates. You're welcome to come along if you like, but I just want you to be aware that I haven't worked out that feature where the water stays off you during the parting. You stick your arm in, enough gets out of your way to accommodate your arm, and that's all. Sorry.

But I have found some very lovely agates.
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
I agree with your sentiment that we need a thicker skin. I disagree that people should have "no reasonable expectation of having those remarks (cough) "respected."

IMO, that's something we should all work harder on.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
LG subversively slips this one in:

> Major, you seem to be amazingly well informed.
> Is there a chance you could recommend some reading
> material to me?

Yep. Everything. But as you probably weren't contemplating allocating the time for that, and I presume you're asking specifically about religion -- then start with the obvious and the common:

The bible (both new testament and old -- I suggest the King James version as it has been the most commonly used version for about 450 years now), the book of Mormon, the Qur'an, the tao teh ching.

Note that the Qur'an cannot, according to its adherents, be properly understood outside of its native language. Rather than learn to read Arabic, perhaps you'd prefer to just read a few different translations. It'll save a lot of time and I really don't think you'll be all that wrongly oriented after such an effort.

On the other hand, Arabic is a beautiful language (even Arabic writing is beautiful)), and if you're inclined, by all means. Learning to read is easier than learning to speak, and the Qur'an is exactly what Arabic children tend to use to learn to read and write the language.

With regard to the bible, it is also very much worthwhile reading up on its genesis and on textual criticism, which is essentially the effort of looking at the components that go into the bible, determining their provenance as best as possible, and comparing them one to another in order to try to best understand what the actual intent of the original text, in its original languages, was. A great introduction to all of this is "How We Got The Bible", by Neil R Lightfoot. I have the 2nd edition, which is very good; I have not read the first edition. Lightfoot is a Christian author of enormous erudition, yet writes in a very accessible style; I suspect you'll really enjoy this particular book.

Be aware that the Catholics kind of have their own version of the bible; not a bad idea to read that as well.

Once you're familiar with the NT and the OT, dig up some books that generally cover Catholicism, Protestantism, and new wave "Saved" Christianity.

Finally, specifically read up on Creationism. I suggest you do this last in your pursuit of the various Christian flavors, though no doubt you'll encounter it to some degree well before this point. Creationism makes some unique claims about the nature of reality and science that are at the very least thought-provoking.

All of these will give you the textual basis for these major religions and some of the variations among them (there are many more); the spiritual basis is something you have to infer from what you read and what people say to you, and you may or may not be able to wrap your head around one or more of these, which is ok -- the textual basis can take you quite a ways and depending on your own opinions, one or more may seem incorrect to you. Most likely, you'll find things of worth in all of them, if you're honest with yourself.

For the counterpoint, start with "Atheism, The Case Against God" by George H. Smith, then "Ethics Without God" by Kai Nielsen, and then for a simplistic overview meant for the public, "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.

Atheism is a lot simpler than religion; it is the state of being without belief in a god or gods. It may, but does not always, extend to outright disbelief in a god or gods.

Agnosticism is an outright intellectual cop-out; Smith nails down why in "The Case Against God."

In a nutshell, people are either theist or atheist -- the way to determine which is to get an answer to a simple question. Don't ask "Are you theist or atheist"; instead, ask "do you have or hold any belief in a god or gods?" If the answer contains "yes", then you have a theist. If the answer contains "no", then you have an atheist. If the answer contains neither, then try to politely re-state the question. It's a yes or no question; there is no middle ground, though you may encounter avoidance. You may have to settle for avoidance -- it's just useful knowing that's what it was.

Now read up on Buddism and Zen. Avoid "popular" works. You'll want something serious.

On top of all this, I suggest you read up on the philosophy of science, particularly the scientific method. Science comes in for some heavy criticism in many religious discussions, and an understanding of just how science is pursued is fundamental to putting those criticisms into an appropriate frame of reference. This doesn't mean you have to grab books on the various sciences like biology and geology; the method all scientists use is the key issue to understand.

Personally, I have developed an outlook that supplants belief and disbelief and replaces that entire way of thinking with degrees of confidence from the infinitesimal to critically near certainty.

This accounts for the possibility of anything, no matter how unlikely it may seem to me; it accounts for things people think are facts now, but turn out to be inaccurate; and it accounts for things we think are facts and continue to think so. It lets me be wrong without tricking me into being dogmatic; it opens the door to new ideas, while retaining the ability to doubt, to apply a low level of confidence, based on prior information.

You might find such an outlook useful; if so, there it is.

In the end, the answer to your question really is "read everything." I'm talking about serious works. The more you read, the better you will get at determining if the next candidate for your perusal is covering something you already are familiar with, or is presenting something new. If it's new... then get after it.

Last bit of advice: Use the television only for movies and games. Don't let the talking bobble-heads feed your mind. It's like junk food for the brain. Empty calories, difficult to digest, causes nasty excretions, etc. Stop watching and start reading; and observe your mind blossom like a poorly potted flower finally getting the right environment.
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1882) 14 years ago
Major. Their's plenty of crap to read. Most of those talking heads put out books. I think Rush has put out as many books as he's had wives.

[This message has been edited by Bob Netherton (edited 8/20/2008).]
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supporter
Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4453) 14 years ago
This accounts for the possibility of anything, no matter how unlikely it may seem to me.

Like OJ's innocence, for example
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Bob Netherton writes:

> Their's plenty of crap to read. Most of those
> talking heads put out books. I think Rush has
> put out as many books as he's had wives.

Well, Bob, what part of...

> I'm talking about serious works

...did you not parse? You're calling Rush's output "crap", if I read you correctly, so I'm not sure just how your critique of my remarks should apply.

It is my hope that anyone intelligent enough to get through the general outline I laid out would recognize Limbaugh and his peers as not even remotely in the same class as, for instance, Smith or Lightfoot.

If they're caught by Limbaugh, then really, they're not likely to be doing any in-depth analysis, or seeking an evenhanded overview in order to develop a position on an informed basis.

Television has many other problems beyond the talking heads themselves. The inconvenience (or impossibility) of in-context review and contrast of one statement against another is one; the passive nature of viewing is another -- are you thinking, or are you absorbing; the intercession of babble from commercials to social trivia; the lack of time to reflect on one statement before the necessity of parsing another intrudes.

Even if the talking head in question is the most intelligent, erudite, creative and constructive person on the planet, you'd still do far better reading what they have to say than sitting there drooling while the television pokes out your mind's eye and excretes opinion directly into your gray matter.

In my opinion.
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Posted by Schmitz - Matt (+404) 14 years ago
Richard, you ask us to all "get along" while in the same breath, you call my religion "systematic denial"? I saw the Germanic techniques used at the "search" I was on. Lets mentally torture these young impressionable minds. Feed them on our schedule, let them sleep on our schedule, rip apart their emotions, and break them into shells of who they might have been when they walked in. Then tell em god loves them, and it will all be better if you love him too. Pure unadulterated crap my friend, and the people who participate in that crap should be held criminally liable. Freaking sickening behavior dude! If systematic denial means I got away from that horses**t, then denial be my new church.
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Posted by Chris Peterson (+162) 14 years ago
It becomes obvious why Einstein refused to discuss religion. He did however prove several things and established several laws of physics. He said he found the laws, and left it up to the individual to interpret them. One is energy can not be created nor destroyed. It can only change. My interpretation of this one is easy. The purest essence of me is an energy which exists with or without body. As my body deteriorates there is an emerging presence of strength unaffected by that which will eventually take my life. This strength or essence has been with me since before my first memory or thought. I believe this energy to be my soul. What it will become when I die is unknown for sure. It may be thrown back into the Magma from where it by chance came, or continue on this incredable journey. Either way this example clearly shows supreme inability to describe God. It would be the same as trying to put, into words, the description of feelings passisng through the mind. Therin is the base for all disfunction between mankind-the lack of power with verbal dialogue. Either way, my last minute thoughts will be for all the smiles given and laughs shared, of those I have come to know as friends, and especially family. I am sure I may briefly worry for family but will hold on to the thought we got what we needed, hopefully backed by Mic and the Stones....either that or Stairway to Heaven, I'm not picky. To believe in something or believe in nothing. Something none confirm until that last moment. If I'm wrong, I'll never care. But if I'm right, you'll be wearing a smile next time I see you (for examples sake, cuz i aint going any time soon that i know of). When I look between my thoughts, between the words, and through the spaces in my thoughts, I quickly realize I am not those thoughts. I'm the one thinking those thoughts.
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Posted by Chuck Schott (+1286) 14 years ago
Major in the future when referring to something I said would you not use "drips out" in place of the more traditional "says" or "said". If you must substitute I prefer "poops out", just a personal preference. In return when I am quoting something you said I will use threw up.....and up ......and up.....and up....(well you're the smartest man you know, you can see where I'm going with this)..and up.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Chris Petersen energizes us with:

> As my body deteriorates there is an emerging
> presence of strength unaffected by that which
> will eventually take my life

...and this kind of vague, mangled mashup is why I sometimes wish science education was mandatory.

Chris, the energy Einstein spoke of that is integral to the matter in your body is bound in the atomic forces that keep the atoms coherent. These atoms will remain intact when you die, at least, presuming you don't die at the core of a nuclear explosion. No atomic binding energy will be released; no matter will convert to energy; nor is that binding energy ever available for your mental processes (or any other bodily process) while you are alive. Chemical changes will occur that bind the atoms to one another in new ways, and this does use and supply energy (which one depends on what is happening) but it is at much lower levels, and of a chemical nature.

Your body obtains energy from chemical processes, primarily oxidation in various forms. When that stops, the cells in your brain die and at that point, they will no longer be able to generate, carry, and receive the electrical and chemical signals that comprise "you"; and "you" will be gone.

You'll go to exactly the same "place" a candle goes when you blow it out, and for precisely the same reasons; that "place" is non-existence. Things you have done may continue to have effects in the world, just as the light from the candle may continue to travel long after it is extinguished; but that is past action affecting the world, not a present shade of "you", an intelligence; not a currently lit candle.

Quite aside from the issue of death, the issue of externalization of your (cough) "soul" at death is made virtually impossible by the enormously effective shield that is comprised of your skull and its surrounding layers of tissue interleaved with conductive fluids at single electrical potentials. That's why measuring brain activity is so difficult (and why natural telepathy is a virtual impossibility); very little electrical signal can get through that barrier. When you die, that barrier doesn't go away for quite some time until after all other activity stops. Presuming your head wasn't split wide open, anyway. So no "soul" could get out as a natural consequence of death, even if one assumes it could find a suitable means to carry organized electrical signals - there's a wall there it just could not cross until long, long after cell death and consequent loss of organized electrical activity occurs.

While it may sound good to wave your hands and invoke the name Einstein and "energy" in the same sentence, what you are doing here is conflating two utterly unrelated issue. Einstein's equations don't apply to the kind of activity that comprises your "self", and your self isn't going to be "liberated" as a consequence of any matter to energy conversion that he was describing.

Reality is what it is; faith, hope and belief cannot alter the rules of the cosmos. We are what we are.

Sorry.

On the positive side, given the research going on today, the possibility of your "self" being recordable and maintainable on electronic hardware is growing closer every day. Given the accelerations in memory availability and processor power, as well as brain-scanning methods, perhaps this may become available in your lifetime. I'm afraid this doesn't vouch for any natural escape for the "soul" either, though. These capabilities, if we manage to develop them, will require considerable outside energy supply and supporting technologies. They may also be physically invasive in the extreme.
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Posted by Major Pain (+202) 14 years ago
Chuck Schott delivers the poop:

> Major in the future when referring to something
> I said would you not use "drips out" in place of
> the more traditional "says" or "said".

If you avoid posts about water, that could happen.

> If you must substitute I prefer "poops out", just
> a personal preference.

I'll try to incorporate that for you.

> In return when I am quoting something you said I
> will use threw up.....and up ......and up.....
> and up....(well you're the smartest man you know,

Definitely an incorrect assumption on your part. I am neither the smartest man I know, or the smartest person I know.

> you can see where I'm going with this)

Yes, I can. The presumption that I'd be concerned about it is where you've kind of slipped your clutch.
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