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 Post subject: One big clusterpoop
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:43 pm 
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With all the various threads going on and political topics of the day, I thought this article captured the spirit of.... something.

But that's my opinion.

Let's start by letting the article speak for itself. Then sit back and analyze how you react to it (if at all), and why. ;)

- Bill
Quote:
ROME (Jan. 4) - Forget the U.S. debate over intelligent design versus evolution.

An Italian court is tackling Jesus -- and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.

The case pits against each other two men in their 70s, who are from the same central Italian town and even went to the same seminary school in their teenage years.

The defendant, Enrico Righi, went on to become a priest writing for the parish newspaper. The plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, became a vocal atheist who, after years of legal wrangling, is set to get his day in court later this month.

"I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the Church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression," Cascioli told Reuters.

Cascioli says Righi, and by extension the whole Church, broke two Italian laws. The first is "Abuso di Credulita Popolare" (Abuse of Popular Belief) meant to protect people against being swindled or conned. The second crime, he says, is "Sostituzione di Persona," or impersonation.

"The Church constructed Christ upon the personality of John of Gamala," Cascioli claimed, referring to the 1st century Jew who fought against the Roman army.

A court in Viterbo will hear from Righi, who has yet to be indicted, at a January 27 preliminary hearing meant to determine whether the case has enough merit to go forward.

"In my book, The Fable of Christ, I present proof Jesus did not exist as a historic figure. He must now refute this by showing proof of Christ's existence," Cascioli said.

Speaking to Reuters, Righi, 76, sounded frustrated by the case and baffled as to why Cascioli -- who, like him, came from the town of Bagnoregio -- singled him out in his crusade against the Church.

"We're both from Bagnoregio, both of us. We were in seminary together. Then he took a different path and we didn't see each other anymore," Righi said.

"Since I'm a priest, and I write in the parish newspaper, he is now suing me because I 'trick' the people."

Righi claims there is plenty of evidence to support the existence of Jesus, including historical texts.

He also claims that justice is on his side. The judge presiding over the hearing has tried, repeatedly, to dismiss the case -- prompting appeals from Cascioli.

"Cascioli says he didn't exist. And I said that he did," he said. "The judge will to decide if Christ exists or not."

Even Cascioli admits that the odds are against him, especially in Roman Catholic Italy.

"It would take a miracle to win," he joked.


01/04/06 12:35 ET


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:37 pm 
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Hmm. Ok. I'll take the bait.

Good stuff,
However I think It'll never go anywhere as far as making quick, widespread changes in paradigms.
I could argue that even if he wins,
that there will always be folks, who for various reasons, choose to believe things on faith alone regardless of opposing, undeniable evidence or proof.
Which I suppose is a testament to our tribal nature as humans.

Without getting into details, there appears to me at least, an enormous amount of evidence which shows that Christ was indeed not a real person, starting with the fact that archeologists (legitimate) have never found any recorded trace of him or his reported "activities" from the chronicles of the time in which he was purported to have lived. The Romans especially, recorded everything in that area (Since they conquered it) from kings, to crimes, to grain, to cultists, to permits, to bathroom stall locations. But no Jebus...at all...Huh...
You'd think the son of god would have gotten at least a *little* press.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:29 pm 
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Meta wrote:

You'd think the son of god would have gotten at least a *little* press.


He did get a little... ;)

Image


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 1:07 am 
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-Metablade- wrote:
I could argue that even if he wins,
that there will always be folks, who for various reasons, choose to believe things on faith alone regardless of opposing, undeniable evidence or proof.
Which I suppose is a testament to our tribal nature as humans.


Hmmm... Sounds like martial artists discussing "chi".

Quote:
You'd think the son of god would have gotten at least a *little* press.


A whole book was written about him, an entire religion is based on him, and hundreds of millions of people worship him... Even if he "didn't get any press", the PR campaign was successful.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 7:04 am 
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Panther wrote:

Quote:
You'd think the son of god would have gotten at least a *little* press.


A whole book was written about him, an entire religion is based on him, and hundreds of millions of people worship him... Even if he "didn't get any press", the PR campaign was successful.


Indeed.
It amazes me how regarding the power of mythos, driven by meme complexes within human societies, continually proves itself to be either a potent and dynamic force for social cohesion, or as an impetus for massive and horrific crimes, suffering, and destruction.

Either way, I feel that someday the current mythos sets which perisist today will eventually dissolve, only to be replaced by others.
We are story-tellers by nature.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 2:42 pm 
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But I think a point is missed here, Meta.
Quote:
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you're what they say you are?

I can remember when that album and the play came out in 1972. I still remember the date I took... 8O

I was 4 or 5 years out of the whole parochial school businses. Before I went, my mom alerted me to the theme of the musical. Of course we adolescents wouldn't hear if it. Jesus was getting press, after all. And the music was pretty cool. And come on, mom, you have to be more happy about me seeing this than seeing Jethro Tull
Quote:
Sitting on a park bench
Eyeing little girls with bad intent

or Alice Cooper
Quote:
Dead babies don't take things off the shelf

or James Gang
Quote:
Sleep all day, out all night
I know where you're going

Yep... It was a bit wierd, though, seeing all my buddies from Catholic school there at the concert. These were people going on to parochial high school. They wanted to be part of the Jesus press. I mean after all, what's a teenage Catholic with raging hormones supposed to do? :lol:

But what of these lyrics?
Quote:
Tell me what you think
About your friends at the top
Now who d'you think besides yourself
Was the pick of the crop?
Buddah was he where it's at?
Is he where you are?
Could Muhammmed move a mountain
Or was that just PR?
Did you mean to die like that?
Was that a mistake or
Did you know your messy death
Would be a record breaker?

Wow, when you look at it, mom was right. Somebody is bloody questioning things here. 8O

So you're wondering why he didn't get the press, Meta. Well the topic has been entertained before.
Quote:
Now why'd you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?

If you'd come today
You could have reached the whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication

Hmm...

But again, are we missing the point here? If there was no Jesus or Yaweh or Muhammed, would there be something or someone else?

Meta, do you honestly consider "religion" and "faith" a negative thing?

- Bill


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:21 pm 
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Quote:
Wow, when you look at it, mom was right. Somebody is bloody questioning things here.


Er....that would have been Tim Rice (the lyricist) :)
And how insightful a guy he was/is because ... JC also says:

Jesus: Why should I die? Would I be more noticed than I ever was before? Would the things I've said and done matter anymore?

(I wore the groove out on my copy of JCSS) :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 4:35 pm 
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Bill Glasheen wrote:
Meta, do you honestly consider "religion" and "faith" a negative thing?
- Bill


Whenever and wherever it hampers social and scientific progression within a society, and overrides rational and reasonable thought, and when it tramples the natural rights of human beings, then my answer is yes.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 4:42 pm 
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I'll give you that. I can embrace that point of view.

Let me ask the question(s) differently.

1) Why does religion exist?

2) What good does it do in your opinion - if any?

- Bill


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:48 am 
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Sorry for the delay Bill.
Busy day at here at Netops.
:x
This is an excellent question, and it deserves a well thought out answer.
I will do my best to post it here asap.

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 Post subject: Press
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 3:14 pm 
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Sorry to back the thread up a little but I wanted to insert this little fact.

The Gospels were written more than thirty years after Jesus' death. (and supposed resurection)

That was a little press, but was it very reliable considering they were written so late.

Or what about this little stated fact...

The greatest Apostle never even met Jesus. Read the book of Acts. The apostle Paul, killed christians... he was a member of the San Hedren, or the religious police of that periods jews.(much like the police the Taliban used) One day he had a vision (per his story) and then converted to Christainity.

My theory is that Paul, who was also a citized of Rome, saw that people were willing to convert to this religion and adopt a large aspect of Judaic culture 8O Even die for there beliefs 8o 8o
He went
through
the Old Testament (O.T.) and tied the old prophasys of a Messiah coming to free the Jews from a life of Subjudation into a better story... and that was that Christ came to save ALL from hell.

Why do this? To ultimately tie Jewish
and Roman culture together.

Sorry for the break guys.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:22 am 
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Bill Glasheen wrote:
I'll give you that. I can embrace that point of view.

Let me ask the question(s) differently.

1) Why does religion exist?

2) What good does it do in your opinion - if any?

- Bill


Meta:
I imagine that one very important question for religious followers, particularly Western Judeo-Christian and Muslims should ask themselves is: how familiar are people in general with the historical scholarship about religion as a sum total? Or with the sociology and psychology of the same?

The response for most people would probably be, not very.
This is a loss, because I feel that people should learn a bit more about these topics, and about the strengths and weaknesses of the various attempts to explain what religion is and how it works. I will humbly attempt to discuss some of the ideas on the question from historic figures like Tylor, Marx, Eliade, Durkheim, Fazer, and of course Freud.

How does one explain religion - It's origin, its development, and persistence in modern society? This is a profound question which has occupied people in a myriad of fields for centuries. At one point, the answers were framed in purely theological and religious terms, assuming the truth of Christian revelations for example, and proceeding from there.

Through the 18th and 19th centuries, a more "naturalistic" approach developed. This approach was epitomized by a German scholar Friedrich Max Müller – whom, in the late 18oo’s, delivered a lecture before the prominent Royal Institution in London by which he proposed what was, even for that audience a highly radical idea: Which was developing a "science of religion."

Although early sociologists, anthropologists and philosophers had been studying religion, no one had openly proposed making a science of such studies. Müller's idea was to take a more objective and as well a less partisan approach to the study of religion. The undertaking was an attempt to search for patterns, principles, and other essentials which *could* tie together a wide variety currently present in the very human institution of religion.
As scientists, religious researchers were supposed to gather facts and put forward theories based upon those facts, as all good scientists do. 

This, as it was called, “naturalistic” approach to religion possibly at the time represented a HUGE fundamental paradigm shift in how religion itself was to be viewed. Instead of requiring clergy in order to comprehend religion, the requirement became only facts, and information, and research. Instead of the need to accept as true the truth of the religion, what was required was just the opposite: intellectual detachment and a suspension of belief. This was perhaps the world’s first skeptic society! 

Another early reasearchers E.B. Tylor and James Frazer, are as many of you might already know, two of the earliest researchers who endeavored to develop theories of the nature of religion itself, and everyone who has come since certainly owes them an obligation. Their work was fundamentally this: They defined religion as essentially “Being the belief in spiritual beings” - religion according to *them* is thus systematized animism, which, the definition is as such:

1. The belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena.
2. The belief in the existence of spiritual beings that are separable or separate from bodies.
3. The hypothesis holding that an immaterial force animates the universe.


According to this sort of elucidation, the reason religion exists is to help people make sense of events which would otherwise be incomprehensible. We still see this sort of explanation proposed at various times and by various people, even in the face of modern day science, i.e., the recent hullabaloo over ID VS scientific reality

At least in part, to its own detriment, I suppose that it can be argued that this sort of analysis can be said to suffer from inadequately addressing the *social* aspect of religion, for the reason that according to Tylor and Frazer, religion and animism are purely intellectual moves – and as such, the social aspects are derivative. Although it may be useful to reveal that the intellectual component of religion as an attempt to explicate things, it is clear that religion as a concept involves much, much more.

According to Freud, “Religion is a form of mass neurosis and exists only as a response to deep emotional conflicts and weaknesses.” (Then again, Freud visualized phallic symbols everywhere he went.) :lol: But to him, since it is nothing more but a by-product of psychological distress, Freud argued that it *should* be possible to eradicate the illusions of religion by alleviating that distress.

Stressing the psychological aspects of religious belief is still popular and I suppose with good reason: there's no question that unrealized psychological motivations can indeed influence a wide range of beliefs and actions. The concept of religion cannot reasonably be excluded.

Unfortunately, psychoanalysis, upon which Freud's ideas about religion rests, is not as scientific as people have assumed. I also find Freud's arguments from analogy are a bit weak and too often his position is circular in this area. Although it may be obvious that he was successful in getting people to recognize that there can be hidden psychological motives behind religion and religious beliefs, we should not stop here and make the mistake to assume that religion has been adequately explained.

Emile Durkheim is almost singularly responsible for the development of sociology as an academic discipline, championing the importance of society - social structures, social relationships, and social institutions - in understanding human nature.

This work eventually lead him to religion, and Durkheim wrote that "...religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden." His primary focus was on the importance of the concept of the "sacred" and its relevance to the welfare of the entire community.

Religious beliefs are thus symbolic expressions of social realities - and this means that without those social realities serving as a foundation, religious beliefs would have no meaning. Thus Durkheim is responsible for helping us understand that religion serves an important social function, in addition to whatever else it might do.

Many have disputed this reductionist attitude, arguing that religion is more than just an expression of social realities. Quite a bit of more recent religious scholarship has been an attempt to move away from such reductionism and explain religion on its own terms, as we shall see.

Although many people are aware of Karl Marx's critique of religion, too few really understand it. According to Marx, religion is one of those social institutions which are dependent upon the material and economic realities in a given society. It has no independent history but is instead the creature of productive forces.

As Marx wrote, "The religious world is but the reflex of the real world." Whereas Durkheim simply argued that religion was dependent upon social institutions, Marx limited religion's dependence to economic institutions. For Marx, all social institutions are dependent upon economics in the end.

Marx's opinion of religion is simple: it is an illusion whose chief purpose is to provide reasons and excuses to keep society functioning just as it is. Just as capitalism takes our productive labor and alienates us from its value, religion also takes our qualities - our highest ideals and aspirations - and alienates us from them, projecting them onto an alien and unknowable being called a god.

Marx's critique is not without problems. For example, it primarily only applies to certain religions, not all, since not all religions promise a happy afterlife in exchange for suffering in this life. Other problems include the fact that economic changes do not always precede religious changes, which would be expected if Marx were correct. Although he did a service in demonstrating that economic realities have an influence upon religion and religious beliefs, it is clear that there is more going on with religion.

Mircea Eliade is a name that is not often recognized outside of the academic study of religion, but he should be better known because he is one of the foremost researches of religion in the latter half of the twentieth century. Key to Eliade's understanding of religion are two fundamental concepts: the sacred and the profane. Religion, as you may guess, involves focusing on the sacred.

Although this sounds like Durkheim, Eliade does not assert that the concept of the sacred is simply an expression of underlying social realities. Instead, following Tylor and Frazer, he says religion is primarily about belief in the supernatural, which for him lies at the heart of the sacred.

A very important aspect of Eliade's analysis is that, unlike Freud, Durkheim and Marx, he makes no attempt to explain away religion. He does not reduce religion to something else, like economics or neurosis. On the contrary, he actively worked against reductionism.

Of course, Eliade's theories are not without their flaws. For example, Eliade only focuses on "timeless forms" of ideas which he says keep recurring in religions all over the world (a pattern followed by Joseph Campbell), but in doing so he ignores their specific historical contexts or simply dismisses them as irrelevant. At the same time, his basic concepts are often very vague - almost anything can be made to fit his format if you try hard enough.

Despite protests to the contrary, Eliade does indeed reduce religion - he attempts to eliminate as many unique and specific facets from individual religions (historical, cultural, etc.) and reduce them to a set of common themes. But at least he can be commended for attempting to make religion independent of other social systems and explain religion in a comprehensive manner.

Stewart Elliot Guthrie suggests an evolutoinary explanation about the development of religion. Guthrie argues religion can best be understood as "systematic anthropomorphism" - that is, the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman things and events. Other writers have noted that anthropomorphism is common or even universal in religion, but Guthrie argues that it is fundamental.

According to Gutherie's theory, anthropomorphism is a strategy of perception and cognition which causes us to automatically tend towards interpreting ambiguous information about the world as whatever matters most to our survival - and although this leads to many mistakes, it also leads to enough success for the strategy to continue in genetic inheritance.

And what matters most to our survival? Living things. In the natural world, the most important things to living creatures are other living creatures - either as food or threats or both. For example, if we are in the woods and see a dark shape that might be a bear or a boulder, it is good policy to think it is a bear. If we are mistaken, we lose little, and if we are right, we gain much.

These, then, are some of the principle means of describing why religion exists: as an explanation for what we don't understand; as a psychological reaction to our lives and surroundings; as an expression of social needs; as a tool of the status quo to keep some people in power and others out; as a focus upon supernatural and "sacred" aspects of our lives; and as an evolutionary strategy for survival.

Which of these is the "right" explanation? Maybe we shouldn't try and argue that any one of them is "right" and instead recognize that religion is a complex human institution. As such, it has complex origins - all of the above would be a proper choice to the question "Why does religion exist?"

On the second question, you asked:
2) What good does it do in your opinion - if any?

This link pretty much sums up my opinion:

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/75/story_7509_1.html

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 Post subject: Re: Press
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 5:20 pm 
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benzocaine wrote:
...Christ came to save ALL from hell.

Why do this?


Ummmmm... Because we've all shown that we need all the help we can get? :mrgreen:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 5:29 pm 
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A quick look at history would indciate that with or without relgion people are a pretty nasty bunch.

The Nazi, tried to replace relgion with a national identity and the Communists in the USSR and in China were viuolently opposed to any form of relgion--viloently suppressed it in fact.

And all three regimes were noteworthy for genocide level of killings and violence and oppression.

I myself an quite skeptical of most things.

But I also recognise that many of the folks that pride themselves as running their lives based upon reason and logic rather than "backwards supersition" are not any better off.

The atheist is just as likely of smoke, drink to excess, cheat on their spouse, commit grevious errors etc as is the "relgious" person.

I don't see any claims of superority of thought process or lifestyle being proven by EITHER party.

In the case of the article mentioned---kinda proves my point.

We have a guy that does not belive and he is trying to shove his non-belief down everyones throat.

And from where I sit that's just as wrong as if some relgious group was trying to do the reverse.

They should BOTH keep out.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 5:57 pm 
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cxt wrote:
The atheist is just as likely of smoke, drink to excess, cheat on their spouse, commit grievous errors etc as is the "religious" person.


Meta: I could be wrong, but It sounds as if you are perhaps equating morality with religion?



cxt wrote:
In the case of the article mentioned---kinda proves my point.


Meta: In what way?

cxt wrote:
We have a guy that does not belive and he is trying to shove his non-belief down everyones throat.


Meta: Which guy are you refering to?

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