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  1. #41
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Ancient Hebrews were in fact believers in many gods, though not polytheistic. They believed in many gods but worshiped only one, YHWH or God as we know it. The concept of a god in ancient times contrasts our interpretation of gods today. They believed the gods interacted with one another on a cosmic level, and thereby directly influenced human events like battles.

  2. #42
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    I'm going home, but I'll spare an admittedly frivolous comment or two for right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Take Five View Post
    1. I'm assuming you meant "lose."
    Impressive. First criticism in a list of corrections from a new member, and you had the panache to pick on someone's spelling.

    8. The point in my entering the discussion at all was to indicate that you, who claim not to believe in God or gods, are coming dangerously close to believing in logic/human reasoning as your deity.
    Definitely a new member.
    This is actually oooooooold news.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  3. #43
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    *groan*
    Please, not again.

    Note again that Pascal wasn't even looking at it necessarily from a utilitarian perspective but simply as a reality involved in the faith journey... because knowledge is imperfect.

    He wasn't wielding it as a method of proselytizing or convincing others to believe the way he did.



    That makes sense as a means of approaching the issue. But as you say, the "Christian" definition of God might be too amorphous. I'm not even sure what my own personal minimum set of properties is right now, honestly, although perhaps it would be worth formulating it.
    I'm not proselytizing, I'm prying. I've not revealed my own beliefs. You are right though, knowledge is imperfect, whether on a faith journey or otherwise.

    The word was spelled incorrectly twice and look at my type. Why are you at all surprised?

  4. #44
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Take Five View Post
    Ancient Hebrews were in fact hedonistic, though not polytheistic. They believed in many gods but worshiped only one, YHWH or God as we know it. The concept of a god in ancient times contrasts our interpretation of gods today. They believed the gods interacted with one another on a cosmic level, and thereby directly influenced human events like battles.
    The word 'polytheism' typically refers to the belief in many Gods, not the worship of many Gods. That is what I meant by the term, and therefore, by your own description of their beliefs, was correct.

    In any case, that the ancient theories of God differ from the present day is my point. Much of what God does in The Bible, or what was attributed to Him (such as intentions, jealousy, anger, etc), may be the misinterpretations of the people who wrote it. For the ancients, Gods were generally cruel, capricious, jealous, and indifferent to human happiness or suffering. The cultural soup from which the Hebrews arose was permeated by these assumptions, and it would not be surprising to find the Hebrews interpreting the actions of their own God through those lenses. This manifests itself in passages where God is described as petty or wrathful, when really God was never like that and had no such feelings.

    Surely everyone here has had their actions misinterpreted before, leading to mistaken accusations of intent, purpose or attitude.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Definitely a new member.
    This is actually oooooooold news.
    :rolli:

  6. #46
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Now that's service.

    But I already see problems with your very first paragraph. ("God is a person who...") Haven't you ever heard of Open Theology yet?
    My view is that such a theology is incompatible with the explicit texts of the Bible. As Lee pointed out what is actually written is contradictory.



    Quote Originally Posted by Take Five View Post
    People should and have tried. Many times they succeeded, many times they failed. But who's to say that "sound" or "perfect" reasoning is limited to the group of people and ideas that have succeeded in finding truth. How do you know human logic can lead to truth, or that it always does? Don't put all your eggs in one basket.



    1. I'm assuming you meant "lose."
    2. Upon acquiring a little knowledge on the subject, you will discover that "God of Christianity" is in fact the same "God" of the Jews and of the Muslims. Furthermore, as per some relatively recent Christian discussion, the spirituality of Buddhism often is related to the spirituality of Christians (at least in the arena of Catholicism).
    3. The First Commandment in your "Christian book of dogma" is indeed highly likely to be found in the Torah unless it is missing due to some typo, as the "Christian book of dogma" actually includes the first five books of the Torah, called the Pentateuch.
    4. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity would be better understood as having separate interpretations of God rather than separate Gods. One could even argue that Buddhist morality is connected to these three also.
    5. Pascal's Wager is on the table because your thread was about, and indeed named with "God" in mind only, not the gods of any polytheists, current or ancient. It was brought up because it concerns not the question of whether to live by specifically Christian standards in this context but the question of why it is a safer bet to believe in God, which applies to numerous religions and creeds. I simply assumed foolishly that you would be more knowledgeable about the common ground between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (i.e. God) since you obviously researched the thought behind God and against God and, what's more, cared about it enough to type a rather long winded discussion topic about God. I apologize for the misunderstanding.
    7. There are reasons to believe in God, and perhaps reasons to believe in gods. There have been plenty of philosophers in favor of God after all.
    6. The point in my entering the discussion at all was to indicate that you, who claim not to believe in God or gods, are coming dangerously close to believing in logic/human reasoning as your deity.
    Islam, Christianity and Judaism have different requirements one must meet in order to go to heaven, despite that they have in mind a similar god.

    The problem with the worship of sacred texts is that doing so is ordered to the believer without a clear rationale to support such a view. However, I do not worship logic in the regard that they worship their gods, though I do hold it in high regard. Unlike them, I can provide reasons for holding logic in a high regard, yet they cannot provide reasons for holding their god in the high regard that they do.

    Because I have clear-cut reasons for placing a high value on logic, I am in control of my inquiry. Logic is an instrument that helps me see how I will go about solving problems in life and make important decisions. Logic in itself could also be questioned, for whatever strange reason I may find that it is not desirable, I am free to renounce it. This is not nearly as dangerous as being ruled by religious maxims that one does not understand nor has the right of abandoning. The main difference between the two approaches is that one grants you the maximum possible autonomy of thought and the other limits your autonomy significantly.

    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    Bluewing,

    The problem of how to interpret The Bible is one which fascinates me, and there are many competing theories. One theory is that The Bible is a textbook (or how-to manual) sent from God. This seems to be the dominant theory, with a literal interpretation. This theory, however, cannot be true, since The Bible contradicts itself more than once, even on such concrete matters as how many people were in a particular place and time. Whatever it is, The Bible is not inerrent, and God does not write a textbook with mistakes in it. Therefore, the textbook (or how-to manual) theory is incorrect.

    It seems to me that The Bible was written by people, and even with divine inspiration people are fallible. It also strikes me as important when The Bible was written, particularly the Old Testament. For one thing, as recently noted in another thread, the first books of the Old Testament are implicitly polytheistic. One God was to be worshipped above every other, which seems to imply that other Gods exist and they can be worshipped. The book of Exodus (I think) even claims that the God of the Hebrews is powerful enough to overcome the Egyptian Gods, another suggestion of polytheism.

    Why would this be? I do not think that this causes any difficulties when we presume that people wrote The Bible, and would therefore write into it errors--including their own mistaken interpretation of what was occurring. For example, perhaps the Gods of the Egyptians did not exist, but only the God of the Hebrews. The writer, however, whose theories and expectations of the universe were shaped by the time and place where he lived, may have believed that the Egyptian Gods existed. Therefore, what we read is his mistaken interpretation of the facts, not the actual events which unfolded. Much of the same kind of reasoning may account for the difference between the God of the Old Testament and the New.

    Although I do not actually believe any of them, these ideas interest me, and tend to encourage in me more tolerence toward those who believe, what on the surface, often seems quite silly to me.

    Agreed. Interesting discoveries do indeed emerge when we study the psychology of the authors of the Bible and the sociological context they inhered in.

    Indeed the first theory you mentioned is implausible, though it appears to be the case that most authors wished to lead us to believe in such a theory. As most essays written in that book seem to adhere to such a perspective. If we were to accept what is written uncritically, we would arrive at such a belief. For this reason, as you mentioned, most Christians subscribe to this theory.

    It is only upon our critical examination of what has been written we realize that such a theory is false. Yet, again, as aforementioned, if we wish to have an interesting inquiry into the subject, this is the practice we ought to engage in. Indeed such an outlook on the subject does make Christian theology appear complicated whilst outside of such a perspective manifestly silly. This view seems to explain well why many thinkers of supreme intellect earnestly believed in Christianity, as well as it does give the non-believer reasons to be more patient with the believer.

    My view however is, genuine inquiry into philosophy of Religion will allow one to 'break the spell' as Daniel Dennet says. The complexity of this religion is only illusory and a result of a confused view of what is written in the Bible. One is only to realize this in order to liberate us from such pernicious superstition.

    However, the practice you suggest (attempting to review the psychological and sociological background of the Bible) does open the door for many interesting philosophical discussions. Though we must take good care not to confuse this for an attempt to properly interpret the writings in the Bible. We should simply take them for face value as much as the written text allows us.

    Seems to be that at this point we have come back to the problem of whether or not commiting the Iron Man fallacy is a good idea. I argued that it is not a good idea because it leads us to a confused perspective of what the initial author stated and may lead to confusions in our worldview. (Much like how one could misunderstand the crude and incoherent message of the writers of the Bible and mistake their ideas for a plausible worldview. This has often led them to adhere to many religious dogmas which has imposed sanctions on their thought and in effect has stultified their intellectual progress.)
    I can attest to this on a deeply personal level.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

  7. #47
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Biblical scholars distinguish between polytheists, those who worship more than one of their own gods, and the Hebrews, who believed in th gods of other states, but worshiped their one God. Their interpretation of God hinges on this view and on the view that they believed the gods interacted with each other in the cosmic realm. They believed that God was all powerful, implying that God is more powerful than other gods. So from the Hebrew perspective, losing a battle against another state (states often had their own gods), or suffering famine was due to their falling out of God's favor. In Genesis, Abraham made a covenant with God, in which God is supposed to give Abraham's descendants (the Hebrews/Jews) land, descendants, etc. In return, Abraham's people need to worship only God as well as abide by some other laws. So if the Jews ever suffered as a whole people, it was normally explained by supposing they were breaking the covenant. At times, God was envisioned as wrathful, but the overarching theme which distinguished the Jewish God from other gods was actually the quality of love, as they believed God loved his people. God could beat the other gods in the cosmic realm, but would allow suffering to the Jews if they broke their end of the covenant.

  8. #48
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    You're still seeing thought as a whole as your deity. Yes thought allows you to choose what you do, but your regard for logic influences you to choose what is logical. Note that you can still choose what is illogical, there are no restrictions, but logic is the superior and right way. Believing in God is much the same thing. You choose what you believe, but you have the option of deviating even though you consider your beliefs to be the "right way." Believing does not restrict what you can do. And there are reasons to believe as I have said before since many philosophers were in favor of God. And the requirements of the different religions was not the issue, God is, because your topic was about the existence or nonexistence of God, not the right or wrong of various religions.

  9. #49
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    This is how I understand the terms,

    Monotheism: the belief that one, and only one, God exists
    Polytheism: the belief that more than one God exists

    Whereas,

    Monolatry: the belief that more than one God exists, but only one is worthy of worship

    The Hebrews's beliefs evolved from polytheism to monolatrism to monotheism. But whatever, they're just words.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  10. #50
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    This is how I understand the terms,

    Monotheism: the belief that one, and only one, God exists
    Polytheism: the belief that more than one God exists

    Whereas,

    Monolatry: the belief that more than one God exists, but only one is worthy of worship

    The Hebrews's beliefs evolved from polytheism to monolatrism to monotheism. But whatever, they're just words.
    Yes, I think we're on the same page about that now.

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