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Old 02-03-2013, 10:49 AM   #41
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You only need to have seen 1 episode of The Big Questions to understand how difficult the English find it to debate without getting angry.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:52 AM   #42
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You only need to have seen 1 episode of The Big Questions to understand how difficult the English find it to debate without getting angry.


Is that the show that had the woman talking about demons and the evils of being gay whilst Dawkins and the head of the homosexual rights movement in the UK was on?
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:53 AM   #43
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Is that the show that had the woman talking about demons and the evils of being gay whilst Dawkins and the head of the homosexual rights movement in the UK was on?

Bang on
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:57 AM   #44
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Is that the show that had the woman talking about demons and the evils of being gay whilst Dawkins and the head of the homosexual rights movement in the UK was on?


Heh, there's always one isn't there.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:01 AM   #45
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Bang on


She's my idol. Well, her and the governor of Texas who said 'If English was good enough for Jesus it's good enough for me'. icrievrytym.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:06 AM   #46
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It's been said that a debate, at least the form usually presented, is more of a sporting event than an attempt to further knowledge. There's a strong tendency to judge the "winner" not so much by the intellectual argument or the quality of the evidence, but on the manner of presentation and the personality of the debater.
In debates that Richard Dawkins has participated in, he is frequently criticized for being condescending or snobbish... Rather than attempting to criticize the validity of the argument or the evidence presented.
Sometimes, really knowledgeable individuals are simply not very good at performing in public, and someone used to the "stage" will make them look silly.

Years ago, when William Buckley was hosting his talk show, he used a technique that I found very annoying. He had an amazing vocabulary. He used it as a weapon... Spinning out strings of five-bit words that most of his "opponents" could hardly understand, much less reply to.
This is no way to conduct an exchange of information.
The late Isaac Asimov, who I admired greatly, was much of the opinion that clarity of speech or writing was essential, and attempting to use clever verbiage was counterproductive.

Back in the 1800s, a politician, speaking to a rural crowd, accused his rival of "matriculating" at a major university. The crowd was shocked....Most not having a clue what the word meant and feeling it was some sort of moral crime.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:09 AM   #47
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'If English was good enough for Jesus it's good enough for me'.


Priceless.

Seriously, how come so many people who claim to follow Jesus seem to know so little about him? I mean, it's right there in the Bible, he was apparently born in Bethlehem to a pair of Jews called Mary and Joseph. Apart from the fact that English as we know it now didn't even exist 2000 years ago, that should be enough for anyone to surmise that he probably didn't speak English.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:11 AM   #48
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I've always liked Buckley even though he rarely makes an argument I agree with. He's like my guilty pleasure.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:15 AM   #49
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Priceless.

Seriously, how come so many people who claim to follow Jesus seem to know so little about him? I mean, it's right there in the Bible, he was apparently born in Bethlehem to a pair of Jews called Mary and Joseph. Apart from the fact that English as we know it now didn't even exist 2000 years ago, that should be enough for anyone to surmise that he probably didn't speak English.


You'd hope. I once had an argument with someone who insisted that the disciples were Christians, and that Jesus wasn't a Jew. I seem to remember he also claimed that the good Samaritan was a Christian too, a claim that is utterly refuted by the fact that his tale is told by Jesus, and thus can't have happened after Jesus's death... sigh.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:24 AM   #50
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You'd hope. I once had an argument with someone who insisted that the disciples were Christians, and that Jesus wasn't a Jew. I seem to remember he also claimed that the good Samaritan was a Christian too, a claim that is utterly refuted by the fact that his tale is told by Jesus, and thus can't have happened after Jesus's death... sigh.


Hmmm, depends upon how they are defining 'Christian' really.

'Christian' merely mean follower of 'Christ' or 'the Messiah', if people were considering Jesus as the 'Messiah' ('Christos' in Greek) while he was alive and followed him, then I suppose they effectively were Christians, but we know that Christianity didn't spread to 'non-Jews' ('gentiles') until after Jesus' death, (as a result of Paul the Apostle preaching to the gentiles) so any Christians that were alive during Jesus' life would naturaly have been 'Christians' more in the sense of it being a denomination or even a 'cult' of Judaism rather than in the sense of it being a religion in it's own right.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:32 AM   #51
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I don't know how many of you have seen Collision, the thing with Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, but I always thought it showed people who debated properly. They did it seriously and with fervour, but you seem them talking about PG Wodehouse and they're clearly still great friends despite tearing into each other's beliefs.

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Old 02-03-2013, 11:36 AM   #52
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i saw that a couple of years ago
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:08 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by willT08
You only need to have seen 1 episode of The Big Questions to understand how difficult the English find it to debate without getting angry.

I had it on for a short while this morning and found it too awkward to watch. It's horrible. It has especially annoyed me in the past how biased the host is.

The problem is, I think, people discuss at too advanced a level in the debate. They don't stop and discuss the basics or context so they know what they each mean or understand what they're actually arguing, they just run straight in. People don't like to take each point in turn and understand what's actually being said or why, they just try to plug it into the big picture and if they don't like that big picture throw the thought away.
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:09 PM   #54
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Hmmm, depends upon how they are defining 'Christian' really.

'Christian' merely mean follower of 'Christ' or 'the Messiah', if people were considering Jesus as the 'Messiah' ('Christos' in Greek) while he was alive and followed him, then I suppose they effectively were Christians, but we know that Christianity didn't spread to 'non-Jews' ('gentiles') until after Jesus' death, (as a result of Paul the Apostle preaching to the gentiles) so any Christians that were alive during Jesus' life would naturaly have been 'Christians' more in the sense of it being a denomination or even a 'cult' of Judaism rather than in the sense of it being a religion in it's own right.

Apparently similar stories relating to the symbology of Jesus' life have come up in different mythologies separated by thousands of years and on different continents, but all telling a similar narrative, and some would say Christianity came out of Egypt
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:11 PM   #55
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Monotheism certainly originated in Egypt. I'll let Slacker go in on the other stuff you said if he likes, he'd do it much better than I could try to.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:18 AM   #56
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Apparently similar stories relating to the symbology of Jesus' life have come up in different mythologies separated by thousands of years and on different continents, but all telling a similar narrative, and some would say Christianity came out of Egypt
Monotheism certainly originated in Egypt. I'll let Slacker go in on the other stuff you said if he likes, he'd do it much better than I could try to.

I'll give my best shot.

Christianity started with Judaic Messiah worship. The notion of the Messiah seems to have started during the Babylonian Captivity of around 600BC-500BC during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon. They came up with the notion of the Messiah as a great king who would rescue them, a 'saviour' figure. This actualy came true, in the form of the Persian king 'Cyrus the Great' who conquered the Babylonians and freed the Jews and Cyrus became the first person to be considered as the Messiah. But that, or something similar, was always going to happen anyway. Babylon was always at war with one of their neighbours or another, so it was only a matter of time before they were finaly beaten by someone, and whoever rescued them would be worshipped as a king by the Jews anyway, so, prophecy or just an educated guess by someone?

Of course, we must remember that Judaism itself developed from other influences, which included Mesopotamian, Canaanite and Egyptian influences. Under careful study, it kinda looks like Judaism was the result of a mish-mash of different cultures coming together over time and amalgamating into one religion.

Firstly, we get a lot of the Abrahamic notion of God from the area of Canaan (which eventualy became the Kingdom of Israel) who's population worshipped a pantheon of polytheistic gods and who's head god was called 'El'. 'El' eventualy became a generic term for 'God' as we can see in the word 'Isra-el' (meaning "Strive with God") and in the names of the archangels such as 'Gabri-el', ("Might of God.") 'Rapha-el' ("God's healing") and Uri-el ("Fire of God") for example.
El was certainly polytheistic in origin though and was considered by the Canaanites to have a queen or consort in the shape of a mother goddess (kinda like a nature goddess) called 'Asherah' and we know that the notion of the Hebrew god 'Yahweh' was at least in part based upon El because, firstly, in the Book of Exodus we find evidence that 'Yahweh' used to be known as 'El' in a passage where God says to Moses...
"I revealed myself to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El Shaddai, (El Almighty) but was not known to them by my name, Yahweh" (Exodus 6:2–3)
... and secondly because of the archeological discovery of an 8th century BC piece of pottery with the inscription "I have blessed you by Yahweh of Samaria and His Asherah" and also the discovery of similar inscriptions, also dated to the 8th century BC, found on walls at two sites, Khirbet el-Kom and Kuntillet Ajrud, both in Israel, which obviously seem to show that El became known as Yahweh because they were both considered as 'almighty' gods (when there can really only be one 'almighty' god) and were both associated with the same goddess consort. The name 'Yahweh' is thought by many scholars to have originated in 'Edom', the region just south of Canaan/Israel, and probably started out as the name of a desert-based 'storm' god. Interestingly, if the Hebrews really did escape from slavery in Egypt and eventualy made it to Canaan where they eventualy took over, as the Book of Exodus claims, they would have to pass through Edom, so this could possibly be a clue as to how Yahweh worship made it's way from Edom to Canaan and eventualy replaced 'El' worship.


Many notions in Judaism originated in Mesopotamia too. For example, the Sumerian story about a god called Enki warning a hero (a king called Atra-Hasis) about the other gods who are planning to send a great flood to wipe out mankind and instructs him to build a boat to save himself, his family and his livestock was later changed slightly by the Babylonians into the story of a commoner called Utnapishtim who was warned about the flood and instructed to build a boat by the same polytheistic god eventualy became the story of Noah who was warned by the monotheistic 'Yahweh' about his own plans to flood the world and wipe out mankind and instructed to build the Ark. Both stories even have the same routine with the sending out of birds to find dry land.

Ever wondered why people would suddenly choose to build a golden calf in the middle of the wilderness and worship it together as the Book of Exodus claims? Because obviously some form of bovine god is already in their culture, and it is likely that the particular bovine god that the golden calf represents is 'Enkidu', otherwise known as the 'Bull of Heaven'.
That name 'Enkidu' is interesting as it is refers again to 'Enki' (Enkidu literaly translates as "Enki's creation") who was a god of wisdom that had a wide influence outside of Mesopotamia, often being equated with El in Canaan, (in the same way that the Greek god Zeus is equalled with the Roman god Jupiter) he is also found in Hurrian and Hittite mythology as a god of contracts, and is considered as particularly favourable to humankind.

The story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden was set somewhere in the area of Mesopotamia too, because the Bible states that the Garden was watered by the Euphrates river, which was located in Mesopotamia, and, as it happens, Mesopotamia is the place where agriculture and irrigation first flourished, where 'gardens' and orchards (bearing 'fruit', which the story of Adam and Eve revolves around) were first built, a whole cultural revolution took place that resulted in 'civilisation' which soon spread to other areas of the Middle East (and eventualy the rest of the world) probably taking religious or mythological stories along with it.

Interestingly, the whole Abrahamic concept of angels originated in Mesopotamian polytheistic mythology too, with mythical creatures known as 'Shedu' which was basicaly a bull with a man's head and giant wings. They were closely related in mythology to the Egyptian and Greek sphinxes and their purpose or role was said to be that of a guardian.
The term 'cherubim' (which is where we get the word 'cherub' from) is cognate with the Assyrian term 'karabu', Akkadian term 'kuribu,' and Babylonian term 'karabu' The Assyrian term means 'great, mighty', but the Akkadian and Babylonian cognates mean 'propitious, blessed'. In some regions the Assyro-Babylonian term came to refer in particular to spirits which served the gods, in particular to the 'Shedu'.
The 'Cherubim' were considered as a type of angel, a big monstrous type designed to scare the crap outta people. The Book of Ezekiel describes them thus: "Each of them had four faces and four wings, with straight feet with a sole like the sole of a calf's foot, and "hands of a man" under their wings. Each had four faces: The face of a man, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel 1:6-10)

What is interesting is the similar roles that the Shedu and the Cherubim play, they are both guardians of sacred places and are often depicted as guarding doorways. The griffin, a similar four legged, winged creature to a Shedu but with an eagle's head rather than that of a man, arose in early Israelite culture as a result of Hittite depictions of griffins, which were also guarding sacred places. Early Israelite tradition conceived of the cherubim as guardians of the Garden of Eden, while many other angels are said to be guardians of Heaven.

The 'creation' myth in the Bible is also very similar to the earlier Mesopotamian version too. In the Mesopotamian creation myth, the whole of creation is brought into play via a god's spoken command, humans are created from earth or clay which is then followed by a period of divine rest, just like in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.

continued next post...
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:47 AM   #57
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continued...

Then there's the Egyptian influence which maybe isn't quite as obvious as the other two. Monotheism seems to have historicaly first happened around 1300 BC when the Egyptian Pharaoh 'Amenhotep IV' (who later changed his name to 'Akhenaten' meaning "living spirit of Aten") stopped his subjects from following polytheistic gods and instead forced them to worship just the sun god known as 'The Aten', which effectively wrestled power and wealth away from the politicaly powerful priests of the god 'Amun' and gave them directly to the Pharaoh himself, after his death, the priests regained their political power, causing his son and heir 'Tutankhaten' (meaning "Living Image of Aten") to change his name to Tutankhamun to appease them.
If we read Psalm 104 in the Bible, we notice a great similarity to the 'Great Hymn to the Aten', written by Akhenaten himself. Now, whether that means that Akhenaten's monotheism influenced Judaic monotheism or whether it just means that they had a very similar style of writing poetry about gods is up for debate, but there certainly seems to be some sort of influence going from Egyptian to Abrahamic religion regardless.

The 10 Commandments were probably derived from more ancient writings found in the Egyptian 'Book of the Dead', which was kind of an instructional text that every Egyptian learned for how to successfully make it to the afterlife after one has died. In chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead, these early versions of the Commandments take the form of 'negative confessions' that the dead person has to recite to various gods when he descends to the hall of the 'Two Truths'.
For example;
"Hail, Neha-hau who comes from Re-stau, I have not killed man or woman." (You shall not murder)
"Hail, serpent Amenti who comes from the house of slaughter, I have not defiled the wife of a man." (You shall not commit adultery.)
"Hail, Shade-Eater who comes from the caverns which produce the Nile, I have not committed theft." (You shall not steal.)
"Hail, Aati who comes from Heliopolis, I have not foolishly set my mouth in motion against another man." (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.)

There were basicaly 42 Egyptian commandments, (split up into 3 classifications of sins. Transgressions against Mankind, sins against gods and personal transgressions) each of which the person wishing to enter the afterlife had to announce to 42 different gods or 'judges' that they were not guilty of. If they failed to tell the truth, which was decided by the god Anubis weighing the heart of the person against a feather, their soul was eaten by a creature called 'Ammut' who was part crocodile, part lion, and part hippopotamus, basicaly a demon. Interestingly, Ammut was also sometimes said to stand by a 'lake of fire', an image that Christianity later adopted in it's depiction of Hell.
Remember, the originator of the Commandments was said to be Moses, who was raised as an Egyptian royal, so I think that's probably a strong clue to the cultural origins of the Commandments in the Bible.

So, with all these different cultural influences going into the development of early Judaism, it's really no wonder that we find correlations between Judaic stories of a 'saviour' figure and saviour figures from other cultures, of which there were a great abundance including the Greek god 'Heracles', the Egyptian god 'Horus' and the Persian god 'Mithra' who we know was already considered to have been born to a virgin 200 years before Jesus was born. There is a Mithraic temple at Kangavar in western Iran, which has an inscription on it that states that it is dedicated to "Anahita, the Immaculate Virgin Mother of the Lord Mithra." which is dated at around 200 BC.
Remember, 'Cyrus the Great', who rescued the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity and was considered and worshipped as the very first 'Messiah', was a Persian king, so it's hardly surprising if Persian influences eventualy made their way into the notion of the Messiah.

Y'see, even though Christianity is monotheistic, it has polytheistic roots in the way that Judaism developed and also in the Roman influence on it from the time of Constantine the Great onwards. (Roman Emperor who adopted Christianity as the official Roman religion). Pretty much all pantheons of polytheistic religions follow a similar pattern. There's the head god and his consort, then there's their offspring, usualy patron gods of several different places and things, and then there's stories about heroes and saviours who are 'related' to the gods, usualy 'demi-gods' (the result of the mating of a god and a mortal).
Christianity still has some of that kind of polytheistic tradition within it, take the patron saints for example, in polytheistic thought, each place, profession or passtime had a 'patron' god, a particular deity that one would pray to, depending upon the situation, in the hope that they would influence the positive outcome of one's endeavours. Once Christian monotheism became widespread, these patron gods were replaced by patron saints, who were prayed to in the exact same respect but who in turn were believed to appeal to the monotheistic God on their behalf rather than acting themselves. The standard demi-god 'hero' or 'saviour' role is also surely reprisented in Christianity when we consider that Jesus effectively had a God for a father and a mortal woman for a mother, just like Heracles in Greek mythology.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:51 AM   #58
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Oh wow. This thread is still going? I forgot about it after my last post.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:53 AM   #59
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Most definately. It's really hard to get a valid point across to someone who instantly freaks out whenever they hear it rather than actualy thinking rationaly about it.


Well, one way of looking at offence is as a litmus test for substance.

If you aren't offending someone chances are you aren't really saying anything.
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:04 AM   #60
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Well, one way of looking at offence is as a litmus test for substance.

If you aren't offending someone chances are you aren't really saying anything.


Heh, that's certainly true in a lot of cases. That's kinda what I like about Jehovah's Witnesses, they never seem to get offended by other people's point of view and lose it, they just seem to quietly stand on my doorstep, politely taking it all in, then introduce their own point of view. At about the point where many strong Catholics and evangelists would be screaming 'SINNER!' in my face, the Jehovah's Witnesses simply say, "Well that's your point of view and your entitled to it, but this is what we think..."
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