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Thread: "Spirituality" vs. "Relogiosity"

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    jowly Tabloid Believer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voadam View Post
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    Just to make sure I'm understanding you.

    So you don't believe in the factual truth of those old stories talking about things we would describe generally as magical or miraculous.
    No. Nor do most of the people I know who are Christian. For example, the vast majority of my Christian friends believe in Darwinian evolution.
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    Polly, Demon Lord Voadam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Potissimus View Post
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    It should be banished to the dustbins of history, reduced to modern reworkings as children's tales and modern parables much like Greek mythology is (whoever reads the Odyssey? You read modern tales or watch modern movies and plays based on it; and the Odyssey is far better literature than the Bible),
    Good question.

    I read it in a high school English class.

    I have no idea if that is aberrant or common.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tabloid Believer View Post
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    No. Nor do most of the people I know who are Christian. For example, the vast majority of my Christian friends believe in Darwinian evolution.
    How about things people might consider more core to a Christian faith.

    Christ rising from the dead?

    Virgin birth/Son of God?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Voadam View Post
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    How about things people might consider more core to a Christian faith.

    Christ rising from the dead?

    Virgin birth/Son of God?
    The most succinct answer I can give you is at times yes and at times no. Though most people I know to be Christian do believe in those two things.

    I will say that one of the priests that confirmed me did not believe in either of those things. And, let me tell you, it is not so easily to get vetted as an Episcopalian priest.
    Last edited by Tabloid Believer; October 19th, 2010 at 11:44 PM.
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    minor functionary COMMUNITY SUPPORTER Rusty Halo's Avatar
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    Let me commend folks participating in this discussion. We've remained civil. Thank you. There's enough going on in the thread that I have to keep cherry picking bite-size pieces in the hope that I can wrestle the larger issues when I find the time.


    Quote Originally Posted by Potissimus View Post
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    Liberal interpretations don't try to understand the original message of the text or its literary themes or so on.
    A ridiculous assertion. The disciplines of literary criticism applied to scripture were borne of the liberal academe. The stuff remains the bread-and-butter of liberal seminaries and divinity schools today.


    Quote Originally Posted by Poti
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    They create the story they want, and they would have been better off with a Bible that told that story. And the thing that really irks me is when the people who do this are often blind to what they are doing. They see their interpretation as the "real" message, and are completely oblivious to the far clearer and intended messages in the text which make it bad religion even from their perspective.
    Pray tell, what is the "real" message? Is your assertion that it's obvious from the original texts? The first authors and redactors of scripture were, practically by definition, interpreting what they wrote, sorted, edited and preserved.

    Two examples:

    • The Jewish scribes who redacted what we call The Book of Genesis today recognized then that they were preserving two versions of Creation and two versions of the Flood. It's not as though they couldn't or wouldn't recognize where they differed and even contradicted themselves.
    • The early Christian scribes (and Councils) that gathered (and canonized) four gospels knew full well that they portrayed four different stories of Jesus. It's not as though they couldn't or wouldn't recognize where they differed and even contradicted one another.

    The creative processes evident in the creation and transmission of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures aren't worlds different from what "liberal" interpreters do today. It's what Christian and Jewish scholars have done for 2000 years.


    Quote Originally Posted by Poti
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    The Bible is perfect, no matter how flawed it is. :barph:
    Now you're just being smarmy.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Halo View Post
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    Let me commend folks participating in this discussion. We've remained civil. Thank you. There's enough going on in the thread that I have to keep cherry picking bite-size pieces in the hope that I can wrestle the larger issues when I find the time.




    A ridiculous assertion. The disciplines of literary criticism applied to scripture were borne of the liberal academe. The stuff remains the bread-and-butter of liberal seminaries and divinity schools today.




    Pray tell, what is the "real" message? Is your assertion that it's obvious from the original texts? The first authors and redactors of scripture were, practically by definition, interpreting what they wrote, sorted, edited and preserved.

    Two examples:

    • The Jewish scribes who redacted what we call The Book of Genesis today recognized then that they were preserving two versions of Creation and two versions of the Flood. It's not as though they couldn't or wouldn't recognize where they differed and even contradicted themselves.
    • The early Christian scribes (and Councils) that gathered (and canonized) four gospels knew full well that they portrayed four different stories of Jesus. It's not as though they couldn't or wouldn't recognize where they differed and even contradicted one another.

    The creative processes evident in the creation and transmission of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures aren't worlds different from what "liberal" interpreters do today. It's what Christian and Jewish scholars have done for 2000 years.




    Now you're just being smarmy.

    It would be nice if the Bible would have some "intros" to its different books that explicitely acknowledge such contradictions between the "books" in the bible. Maybe that way, one could hammer into people that they don't represent literal truth "this is exactly how it happened".

    Of course, it raises the question - why preserve different stories? Probably because you don't expect them to be 100 % accurate but each giving a reflection on what really transpired. But why omit this intention from the text? I suppose it might be that no one expected everyone to read just the Bible to get a primer on Christianity, but learn it together with other Christians that might know this background. It appears that modern religious education fails to teach this to its followers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fusangite View Post
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    Oh good. Now we can all focus on solving the problems of 2Curious's worldview; that's certain not to end in thread derailment and personal recriminations.

    Anyway, my apologies for not getting to CF's and Postissumus's questions. I'm in my last two weeks of writing the thesis and have been slowed in my work on intellectually meaty threads on CM. I'll get to them later tonight or tomorrow.
    I'm gonna try to avoid turning this into yet-another 2Curious thread

    I should be working on the final lag of my research, myself...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabloid Believer View Post
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    Well, let's be clear. I don't believe in a God that is so like me that I can compare myself to him. If such a being "thinks", it would be at such a scale as to be incomprehensible to me.
    What you're basically saying is "No, no, no, it's not a man - it's superman!". I'm sorry, but that only seems more childish to me. It's so... ethnocentric. Small. Human. It demeans God.

    And it doesn't work. From everything we understand about thinking, it is essentially just information processing. More advanced thinking can involve larger memory, more processing power, more sophisticated algorithms, even slight loopholes like quantum computing - but when all is said and done, it is just "more of the same". That's not God, not even if you take it to infinity (unless you're Tipler). Not to mention that the being that supposedly created causality and time and physical existence can't have (necessarily physical) information, causal chains of reasoning in time, and so on. It just doesn't work.

    Where you perceive little difference, I perceive great differences. Again, let us suppose that all religion is myth. The myth of the Ancient Greeks and Native Americans are both anthropomorphic in that they believed in deities that could think and feel. However, the Greeks believed gods that looked and behaved as we do, while some Native Americans believed in beings that were more animal-like and had inscrutable motives. The result? Wildly different cultures. The Greeks were a very human-centric culture. Heck, humanity and humanness was reflected in their architecture, whereas the Native American nations I'm thinking about saw humanity as just one aspect of nature. Perhaps with less hubris than the Greeks did?
    Interesting line of argument. I don't know much about Native American religion, so would take your word for it. I agree such different outlook on the gods can reflect or shape corresponding differences in culture. A society that abandons bodily-anthropomorphic deities may very well be less occupied with the human body, and more with the human mind. But to complete the picture you have to consider how such a society will contrast with one that abandons even that mental-anthropomorphism. Of course there are many ways to do so, but overall I'd say such a society would not be concerned with placating god or doing His will, and will focus more resources on transcending human nature and limitations (mental as well as physical) through technology and doing what We will. It would also produce less literal readings of the Bible and calls for fundamentalism or "return to the pure Old Ways". I don't think those are bad effects. The only real bad effect I can think of is the old argument that people would be less moral without the fear of god, which is basically not true - people have been bad and good with and without god.

    In terms of using literature to find truths and morals...I'm going to have to vehemently disagree with you there. And I don't think I'm going to far out on a limb there either. In high school, literature is typically taught for four years. And typically in college it is offered as a core requirement. But anyhow that is another argument entirely.
    Then we shall disagree. The extent literature is given in the curriculum is of course indicative of what educators and the public want to teach and achieve, not of whether the material provides a good way to find truth and morals.

    So why hollow the Bible if it's literature? Particularly if some parts of it are bad? Well, first of all I would argue that it has changed. The Christian Bible has changed over the course of its long history. Whole books have been left out of the Bible because people thought it was "bad literature" (meaning they thought the books were an ill-fit for the general themes of the Bible). The quickest and most visible example I can think of is that the Catholics and Protestants have different versions. It's changing even now, in the manner that you are speaking. Currently, there are mulitple movements out there to interpret the Bible so that it leans this way or that.

    The problem is, changing parts of the Bible is a Big Deal and usually takes some kind of cultural shift. Like the Reformation. However, I think that we'd all be naive to think that 1,000 years from now, if the Bible is still read and practiced, that it will precisely the same as it is now. (Which version, even?)
    Why is changing parts of the Bible a big deal? Why is even reading the Bible a big deal? You read literature in lots of other contents. Different kinds of literature. And you can interpret other forms of art too, like movies. You're still treating it as Sacred, as Special, and you don't explain why.

    So what about the bad parts? Like the parts of the Bible that say you are unholy if you shave your beard? Or have mold In your house? Well, look at Shakespeare's problem plays. The ones that he wrote that weren't that good. Should we throw them out? Rewrite them? Cannot something be learned from even bad literature? I believe that it can.
    Nothing, ever, should be thrown out. We should keep copies of Mein Kampf in our libraries, too. But that doesn't mean it should be treated with respect. Shakespeare's bad plays aren't nearly as detrimental as the Bible is. If you disagree, give me an example of a few holy wars started over one of these plays. We should definitely keep the Bible around in our libraries, but we should not turn to it for inspiration. We should seek out good books for that, better books - and if these don't exist, we should write them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Halo View Post
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    A ridiculous assertion. The disciplines of literary criticism applied to scripture were borne of the liberal academe. The stuff remains the bread-and-butter of liberal seminaries and divinity schools today.
    Let me rephrase. There are certain kinds of interpretations that "don't try to understand the original message of the text or its literary themes or so on". These can come from liberal as well as non-liberal circles. When this is done consciously, this is fine - it's just using the Bible as a springing board for ideas. When this is confused with the "true meaning" of the text (and of God writing it this way), however, this is bad. It ignores the very real history of how the text came to be and why, sinking into a false mythology instead of history. This can happen in liberal as well as non-liberal circles.

    As you seem to maintain this doesn't happen in liberal circles, consider the following piece by Ludwig Ott, which I (mistakingly?) take to be representative of a fairly liberal exegesis:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ludwig Ott
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    The Biblical account of the duration and order of Creation is merely a literary clothing of the religious truth that the whole world was called into existence by the creative word of God. The Sacred Writer utilized for this purpose the pre-scientific picture of the world existing at the time. The numeral six of the days of Creation is to be understood as an anthropomorphism. God's work of creation represented in schematic form (opus distinctionis -- opus ornatus) by the picture of a human working week, the termination of the work by the picture of the Sabbath rest. The purpose of this literary device is to manifest Divine approval of the working week and the Sabbath rest.
    This interpretation says that the "real" message of the duration and order of creation is that "the whole world was called into existence by the creative word of God". It thereby ignores the very real historical reasons why the duration and order of creation was what it was. Instead of studying historically why a six-day week was chosen, it just invents an explanation. It tries to say what the text really is, but instead of doing this through a careful historical analysis it does so through personal interpretation. It confuses the two basic modes of literary interpretation - trying to understand what the text is (how it came to be, why it was written in the way it was, what was the intention of the author), which is an historical pursuit, and trying to glean meaning from the text, which is an hermeneutical and personal pursuit.

    Note that herr Ott could have avoided all of that if he'd only said "We can understand the Biblical account of the duration and order of Creation as merely a literary clothing...". But he didn't. He isn't suggesting to view the order of creation as a literary illustration of an idea, he is trying to assert what the text "really means". And because he does so without actually trying to ferret out the historical details, he fails abysmally, both in lacking justification and in lacking explanatory power.

    Pray tell, what is the "real" message? Is your assertion that it's obvious from the original texts? The first authors and redactors of scripture were, practically by definition, interpreting what they wrote, sorted, edited and preserved.

    Two examples:

    The Jewish scribes who redacted what we call The Book of Genesis today recognized then that they were preserving two versions of Creation and two versions of the Flood. It's not as though they couldn't or wouldn't recognize where they differed and even contradicted themselves.
    The early Christian scribes (and Councils) that gathered (and canonized) four gospels knew full well that they portrayed four different stories of Jesus. It's not as though they couldn't or wouldn't recognize where they differed and even contradicted one another.
    In some cases the "real message" is pretty obvious, in others not so. And there are layers too, of course - the ancient Jewish scribes combined two stories for a reason, there is an intention and message behind the merger which is separate from the messages of the two texts. All of this is the real story of how the text came to be. And that's the story behind the real messages it was originally meant to convey. There are truths about what the text is trying to accomplish. The fact that getting to these historically true intentions is next to impossible doesn't mean we can't make headway towards them, as your own examples show. In some cases, such as the blatant justification of patriarchy in the Adam and Eve tale, it doesn't exactly take a PhD in comparative religion to see what's going on.

    My assertion is that the books were written, edited, redacted, selected, altered, and so on - for a purpose. They were meant to convey a message, a feeling, to inspire, to inform... Trying to understand what these messages are requires a particular mode of interpretation, an historical mode. And my assertion is that this mode is incompatible with the (for lack of a better term) Literary mode of interpretation, and when the two are confused intellectual drivel follows. My assertion is that too often people apply a Literary interpretation that is in sharp contrast with and ignores the Historical one, drawing from the text "meaning" that is forced and inappropriate and refusing to acknowledge its clearer and more historically-correct messages, needlessly misunderstanding the work and ignoring its failings in order to glorify it and affirm its sanctity. It's bad literature, it's bad history, it's bad hermeneutics, it's a bad mental pattern, it's bad for society, it's bad.

    The creative processes evident in the creation and transmission of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures aren't worlds different from what "liberal" interpreters do today. It's what Christian and Jewish scholars have done for 2000 years.
    That's the problem. The new mode of interpretation is fairly new. It has antecedants in antiquity, of course, such as the aforementioned inclusion of several gospels, but it only came to maturity with biblical criticism. For the most part, the process of creation and transmission of which you speak was not a self-conscious literary effort. It was an effort burdened with delusions of textual unity, theological preconceptions, blind faith, and belief in magic. That such a "creative" process proceeds today is a testament to the lack of intellectual maturity of the religious "scholars" that engage in it. If they were writing new bibles, offering new variants of the stories and changing them to express their own literary ideas the way they want to - perhaps I'd agree with you. But they aren't. They aren't creating and transmitting scriptures, they are just transmitting them. They are instead busy raping the text with utter disregard to its real literary structure, themes, and meaning, only to salvage some semblance of wisdom and literary worth from this horrendous text.

    Now you're just being smarmy.
    No, this is how I see the religious behave. I don't hear priests going "Yeah, that bit of the Bible is really terrible - I suggest you ignore it". Instead they go "Well, you have to understand it in context"... or some other such nonsense. Nah, from where I'm sitting, the religious folk behave as if the Bible is Perfect, everything Jesus said or did was Perfect - and if we think otherwise, well, we just don't understand things deeply enough. And I'm not buying that.

    I'm glad Tabloid Believer agreed the Adam & Eve story is bad religion.Do you agree too? Why not change it then? Stop just Transmitting, and Write. I'm confident the holy book you'll write will be better than the Bible. Although, of course, I'd advise you to keep to parables - mythology is a dangerous, dangerous practice.
    "Respect and obey the laws of gravity, cause and effect, relativity, etc. ... It's not that hard."
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  • #113
    Vaguely lobster-like Kwalish Kid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Potissimus View Post
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    Why is changing parts of the Bible a big deal? Why is even reading the Bible a big deal? You read literature in lots of other contents. Different kinds of literature. And you can interpret other forms of art too, like movies. You're still treating it as Sacred, as Special, and you don't explain why.

    [...]

    Nothing, ever, should be thrown out. We should keep copies of Mein Kampf in our libraries, too. But that doesn't mean it should be treated with respect. Shakespeare's bad plays aren't nearly as detrimental as the Bible is. If you disagree, give me an example of a few holy wars started over one of these plays. We should definitely keep the Bible around in our libraries, but we should not turn to it for inspiration. We should seek out good books for that, better books - and if these don't exist, we should write them.
    This is not exactly the dishonesty problem that I brought up earlier, but it is another moral failing of Christians: they are committed to refraining from seriously examining moral issues. They must keep certain things fixed in order to remain Christian (and thus ensure an us-them dichotomy and, they hope, hierarchy) and this includes certain reverential attitudes towards certain texts, claims in that text, and behaviours associated with their practice. This also encourages Christians to demand the same kind of reverence from others.

  • #114
    That's Tweet! 2Curious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Potissimus View Post
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    I'm gonna try to avoid turning this into yet-another 2Curious thread
    Even I don't want yet-another 2Curious thread.

    Nothing, ever, should be thrown out. We should keep copies of Mein Kampf in our libraries, too. But that doesn't mean it should be treated with respect. ~~~
    I'm glad Tabloid Believer agreed the Adam & Eve story is bad religion.Do you agree too? Why not change it then? Stop just Transmitting, and Write. I'm confident the holy book you'll write will be better than the Bible. Although, of course, I'd advise you to keep to parables - mythology is a dangerous, dangerous practice.
    Don't you contradict yourself here? We have to just transmit the Bible with as little change as possible to "keep" it. When someone writes, a better holy book, isn't that a different work which should stand on it's own literary merit?

    Without making yet-another 2c thread, are there specific examples of the historical creation of the Bible you can point me at? Or are you basically saying miracles don't happen so someone invented the mythology whole cloth?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2Curious View Post
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    Don't you contradict yourself here? We have to just transmit the Bible with as little change as possible to "keep" it. When someone writes, a better holy book, isn't that a different work which should stand on it's own literary merit?
    Unsurprisingly, you miss the point. The point is that we should abandon any particular version of the Bible and instead create something that is actually good.
    Without making yet-another 2c thread, are there specific examples of the historical creation of the Bible you can point me at? Or are you basically saying miracles don't happen so someone invented the mythology whole cloth?
    Well, there is all the historical evidence that what we know as The Bible is merely something invented. There is a field that covers this called Biblical Studies.

  • #116
    jowly Tabloid Believer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mustrum_Ridcully View Post
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    It would be nice if the Bible would have some "intros" to its different books that explicitely acknowledge such contradictions between the "books" in the bible. Maybe that way, one could hammer into people that they don't represent literal truth "this is exactly how it happened".
    Well, they do! It's called a student Bible. I have on on my shelf right now.

    It appears that modern religious education fails to teach this to its followers.
    I'll cover this later in a moment. Basically, I don't see that this is a trait attributable solely to the Bible or religious text.

    Quote Originally Posted by Potissimus View Post
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    What you're basically saying is "No, no, no, it's not a man - it's superman!". I'm sorry, but that only seems more childish to me. It's so... ethnocentric. Small. Human. It demeans God.

    And it doesn't work. From everything we understand about thinking, it is essentially just information processing. More advanced thinking can involve larger memory, more processing power, more sophisticated algorithms, even slight loopholes like quantum computing - but when all is said and done, it is just "more of the same".
    Okay, I was following your thinking up until this point. Intelligence, we know, exists at various levels and in various fashions. One of the more fascinating discussions I had with my brother was about a leading botanist that has found that the fungi on the planet have similar patters and distribution to the neural net of higher functioning animals. And he posited that certain fungi on the planet might have a higher intelligence, but that it functioned in a very different way than our Plants have intelligence.

    But I see your point. Perhaps I misrepresented myself earlier. You'll have to forgive me. These days, I'm very short on time, resulting in less careful readings of these posts than I was able to do in the past.

    I don't see God as a being that "thinks as I do". Does that makes sense? Still fails your humanocentric test?

    Then we shall disagree. The extent literature is given in the curriculum is of course indicative of what educators and the public want to teach and achieve, not of whether the material provides a good way to find truth and morals.
    Fair enough. I think we are now beginning to see the bottom of where we fundamentally disagree, here.

    Why is changing parts of the Bible a big deal? Why is even reading the Bible a big deal? You read literature in lots of other contents. Different kinds of literature. And you can interpret other forms of art too, like movies. You're still treating it as Sacred, as Special, and you don't explain why.
    Sure, no problem. First of all, I'll reiterate my earlier point which is that the Bible has changed and is changing. Even quite radically.

    But why is changing the Bible a big deal? I think this is less an attribute of it being a religious text and more an attribute of it being a construct of human culture. Any construct of human culture is difficult to change.

    For example, in my home state, the Confederate flag once flew over the state capitol building. Then, because it was perceived as harmful by certain groups, some people wanted to take it down. The result? Massive uproar. "You can't take it down! It's been up there for years! Etc, etc." Heck, some people went so far as to say that "it had been there forever". Yes, those were the words they chose.

    My point is that human tradition is hard to change and the Bible is most definitely part of that. There are rules at Oxford College in England which are easily 1,000 years old but are obviously archaic and out-dated. But they won't change these rules! Why not? Tradition!

    But all of this would be missing my earlier and perhaps more important point - even if the Bible were easy to change or even if we could lock it up in the library and forget about it - it would not solve the problem that you are talking about. And that is this: human beings will always pick and choose what they want to read and hear from any text or dialogue. That's the nature of human beings.

    I need only look at my own U.S. Constitution which was not written as a work of literature, but as an explicit body of laws to see what I am talking about. People pick and choose to see and experience what they want to experience out of this very explicit text. Hence this excellent Onion article:

    Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be
    Last edited by Tabloid Believer; October 20th, 2010 at 03:44 PM.
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  • #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kwalish Kid
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    This is not exactly the dishonesty problem that I brought up earlier, but it is another moral failing of Christians: they are committed to refraining from seriously examining moral issues.
    Well, that's just not true. If you want to become an Episcopalian priest, for example, you have to go through a process called discernment. And in that process, there is quite a great deal of serious examinations of moral issues.

    Heck, in my own Episcopalian church, we constantly wrestle with moral issues. Sometimes too much, in my opinion. Sometimes I wish we could just relax a bit and enjoy more fellowship.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kwalish Kid
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    Unsurprisingly, you miss the point. The point is that we should abandon any particular version of the Bible and instead create something that is actually good.
    Well, this brings up an interesting point. Let us suppose for the sake of argument that you have Society X. Society X has no religion whatsoever. But it does have a text for moral reasoning, call it the X-Book. As time progresses, Society X's values change. Should the X-Book change? Why? What if Society X's values actually change in a negative fashion? Who makes the final decision that it should change? What if there is a disagreement on the change? Who re-writes it? How does one get everyone to agree on which morals should be kept or not kept? What if different people in Society X have wildly different morals and values, such that it would bring them into direct conflict with each other?

    Worthy of a new thread?
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    First Day On The Internet Calamari Face's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mustrum_Ridcully View Post
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    It would be nice if the Bible would have some "intros" to its different books that explicitely acknowledge such contradictions between the "books" in the bible. Maybe that way, one could hammer into people that they don't represent literal truth "this is exactly how it happened".
    My understanding is that the two leading study Bibles in the English language are the New Oxford Annotated Bible and the Harper Collins Study Bible.

    I have a copy of the NOAB ("augmented 3rd edition", the 4th is now out), and can attest based on a sampling of a hundred pages or so that it is excellent.

    The other point you raised, Potissimus also addressed, incompletely in my opinion.

    Of course, it raises the question - why preserve different stories? Probably because you don't expect them to be 100 % accurate but each giving a reflection on what really transpired. But why omit this intention from the text? I suppose it might be that no one expected everyone to read just the Bible to get a primer on Christianity, but learn it together with other Christians that might know this background. It appears that modern religious education fails to teach this to its followers.
    Quote Originally Posted by Potissimus View Post
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    My assertion is that the books were written, edited, redacted, selected, altered, and so on - for a purpose. They were meant to convey a message, a feeling, to inspire, to inform... Trying to understand what these messages are requires a particular mode of interpretation, an historical mode. And my assertion is that this mode is incompatible with the (for lack of a better term) Literary mode of interpretation, and when the two are confused intellectual drivel follows. My assertion is that too often people apply a Literary interpretation that is in sharp contrast with and ignores the Historical one, drawing from the text "meaning" that is forced and inappropriate and refusing to acknowledge its clearer and more historically-correct messages, needlessly misunderstanding the work and ignoring its failings in order to glorify it and affirm its sanctity. It's bad literature, it's bad history, it's bad hermeneutics, it's a bad mental pattern, it's bad for society, it's bad.
    I agree that all of the factors you cite were important, but you missed what I suspect is the overriding one.

    Ever seen a technical standards body at work?

    The Tanakh and the Christian Bible were both canonized by committee. Infelicities and bad grafts are usually there because multiple parties refuse to budge, and to throw something out means losing a participant--a participant which, for political reasons, is viewed as essential.

    Ask yourself why one would bother seeking to standardize or canonicalize a holy book in the first place, and you will find the explanation for just about every infelicity you see.

    The Jewish and Christian scholars who participated in these processes were not idiots; they knew what contradiction was and they knew what constituted literary and narrative consistency and elegance. Where we find these virtues lacking, we can find the fault lines of ancient schisms.

    A few other miscellaneous remarks:

    No, this is how I see the religious behave. I don't hear priests going "Yeah, that bit of the Bible is really terrible - I suggest you ignore it".
    I haven't heard a minister say anything like that, either. Rusty?

    Nothing, ever, should be thrown out. We should keep copies of Mein Kampf in our libraries, too. But that doesn't mean it should be treated with respect. Shakespeare's bad plays aren't nearly as detrimental as the Bible is. If you disagree, give me an example of a few holy wars started over one of these plays. We should definitely keep the Bible around in our libraries, but we should not turn to it for inspiration. We should seek out good books for that, better books - and if these don't exist, we should write them.
    QFMFT!

    mythology is a dangerous, dangerous practice.
    QFMFT!

    As evidence, we need only look at the extensive mythologization of the founding of our respective nations.



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    I find myself in full agreement with CF. -- Ovinomancer, The Senate, 1 July 2011

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kwalish Kid View Post
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    They must keep certain things fixed in order to remain Christian (and thus ensure an us-them dichotomy and, they hope, hierarchy) and this includes certain reverential attitudes towards certain texts, claims in that text, and behaviours associated with their practice. This also encourages Christians to demand the same kind of reverence from others.
    Yeah, one of the strangest things about religion is its demand for reverence and stability. I get that intellectual traditions that extol traditionalism would exist, but why are they so influential in religion? Why can philosophical and scientific opinion change radically in a generation or less, yet religious holy texts, dogma, and customs don't? There is something about the religious social institution that attracts and fosters traditionalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabloid Believer View Post
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    Well, this brings up an interesting point. Let us suppose for the sake of argument that you have Society X. Society X has no religion whatsoever. But it does have a text for moral reasoning, call it the X-Book. As time progresses, Society X's values change. Should the X-Book change? Why? What if Society X's values actually change in a negative fashion? Who makes the final decision that it should change? What if there is a disagreement on the change? Who re-writes it? How does one get everyone to agree on which morals should be kept or not kept? What if different people in Society X have wildly different morals and values, such that it would bring them into direct conflict with each other?

    Worthy of a new thread?
    A very wide topic. In a nutshell - why do you think there has to be a single answer to these questions? Why can't people just do what they think is right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabloid Believer View Post
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    I don't see God as a being that "thinks as I do". Does that makes sense? Still fails your humanocentric test?
    Depends on what content you pour into this vague phrase. I'd say upfront that any description that goes something like "This is like X, except it isn't" smells tainted by unclear thought or popularization attempts. [Have you noticed how I undermined my own sentence there? Man, that was stupid ]

    Sure, no problem. First of all, I'll reiterate my earlier point which is that the Bible has changed and is changing. Even quite radically.
    I disagree. The change since its canonization at Nicea has been minimal, and even before that most of the changes were small and not "radical" at all.

    My point is that human tradition is hard to change and the Bible is most definitely part of that.
    This goes back to the traditionalism point above. There is just no good reason to treat your own spiritual development, and that of your fellow men, this way. You should be going for the best sources, not the Old Faithful. You should be looking for the truth wherever it is to be found, not focusing on unearthing tiny fragments of truth from a book so full of dirt.

    human beings will always pick and choose what they want to read and hear from any text or dialogue. That's the nature of human beings.
    Which is why one must be doubly careful not to extol and grant respectability to bad books, or even just books that can be easily misinterpreted as bad. That's why I advised against writing myths.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2Curious View Post
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    Don't you contradict yourself here? We have to just transmit the Bible with as little change as possible to "keep" it. When someone writes, a better holy book, isn't that a different work which should stand on it's own literary merit?
    There is no contradiction. The new book should stand on its own, but it would of course be influenced by the prior versions and won't be really understood except in the light of prior works. And its existence should by no means keep us from preserving these past works, the Bible included, for comparison and for whatever wisdom someone, one day, might find in them.

    Without making yet-another 2c thread, are there specific examples of the historical creation of the Bible you can point me at?
    Just a random pointing to a random piece of evidence that floated by me recently, here. It's a computer comparison of two texts, a small offshoot of the field of biblical criticism, but it has a nice graph (Figure 1) showing the distinct similarities which are generally indicative of where Luke just copied Mark. Reaching the conclusion that that was indeed what happens, that this is the explanation for these similarities - would take us far into 2CThread land. But it's a fine place to start, since you asked me to point you at something, if only because the article contrasts many hypotheses and thus references lots of articles one should read to get a handle on the current status of the research on this topic.
    "Respect and obey the laws of gravity, cause and effect, relativity, etc. ... It's not that hard."
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