1 of 2
1
One Night with the King
Posted: 01 November 2006 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1321
Joined  2006-04-24

Has anyone seen this movie?  My partner (who is a Jewish agnostic) and I went to see it.  He told me that the story of Esther, the queen (is it an wonder he turned out to be gay???) who risked almost certain death in order to save her people, was very dear to his heart and an inspiration to him during his childhood years. 

It's a beautiful film, visually quite stunning.  It is incredibly romanticised!  I got the feeling I was watching Cinderella…  I did not get that warm feeling when I went home and actually read the book of Esther and the relevant passage about the Amalekites earlier in the Bible.  Sweet Jesus, what a horrible story!  The filmmakers treated it as if it were an inspirational morality tale about how selflessness will triumph over the evil designs of bad people (personified by Haman).  But the book of Esther is nothing of the kind.  The filmmakers did not show us what happened AFTER Haman was hanged:

On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those seeking their destruction. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king's administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.
5 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

11 The number of those slain in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, "The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted."

13 "If it pleases the king," Esther answered, "give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day's edict tomorrow also, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on gallows."

14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they hanged the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king's provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. 17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

And this is what is celebrated as Purim to this day.  My partner did not know anything about this; all he knew was that on Purim he got to eat some pretty triangular cookies… 

I think it is absolutely despicable that this is an event that is celebrated: the slaughter of over 75,000 people—PEOPLE!  The slaughter of innocent children!  This is not a tale that has anything to do with morality.  It is not a tale about good triumphing over evil.  It is a tale of how you can use influence with authority figures to attain power and do what you want.  It is not about how the Jews should have won because they were righteous and good.  It is about how the Jews should have won because they were special—the chosen people, the people God favored, and how the most horrendous atrocities committed by them were justified.  Not only that!  God ordered them to commit the most horrendous atrocities:

2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy [a] everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' "

And why?  Because God was on the side of the Jews.  Because, although we are all supposed to be God's children, apparently God likes his Jewish children best and likes to have all his other children slaughtered by his favorites.  It is just appalling.  I understand why ancient tribes would need these kinds of stories in a barbaric world.  But it is appalling that we look at these ancient myths as a source of inspiration! 

Ancient Judaism was all about God's relationship with the Jews, about how God would favor them if they did what he commanded.  It has nothing to do with morality, really.  I has a lot to do with "if we treat God right, he will help us do whatever we want, even genocide."  Apparently God is cool with killing off entire nations if they are enemies of the Jews.  This mentality is extremely dangerous in our world today, considering that Israel is surrounded by its enemies on all sides.  Imagine what would happen if someone who believed genocide was justified was in a position to push "the button" and thus destroy Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Iran!  I think this is also what Sam Harris means by "genocidal stupidity."

Religion works hard to keep us from moving forward, it works hard to keep our mentlaity and ethics from evolving and adjusting to the kind of life that exists today—2500 or so years after the events described in the Book of Esther.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 November 2006 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  318
Joined  2006-03-23

Rami,

It was produced by Matt Crouch.  Heir to the wacky Crouch family here in southern California.  They own the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).  The matriarch – I believe her name is Jan - makes Tammy Faye Baker look like June Cleaver.  This movie is the fundamentalist Christian take on the story, i.e. I will NOT be viewing it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 November 2006 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1321
Joined  2006-04-24

[quote author=“FaixaPreta”]Rami,

It was produced by Matt Crouch.  Heir to the wacky Crouch family here in southern California.  They own the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).  The matriarch – I believe her name is Jan - makes Tammy Faye Baker look like June Cleaver.  This movie is the fundamentalist Christian take on the story, i.e. I will NOT be viewing it.

Ah, good to know. 

And I wasn’t going to go into it, especially since I got flamed for mentioning the Jesus parallels in the latest Superman movie, but the Christian filter in this film was not terribly subtle.  At one point Haman is speaking to Xerxes. critisizing Jewish beliefs, and pointing out that they think that one day their king will rule the whole world—alluding to the Old Testament prophesy that foretells the coming of Jesus.  Then he is inciting a crowd against the Jews (exactly the way Hitler incited ahtred against the Jews in his speeches.  The Hitler parallel was amde apparent by the fact that Haman wore a kind of a bracelet which was a swasticka with a snake wrapped around it) by telling them that they brought with them a dangerous doctrine that all men were equal.  And then he goes on to say “Do you think that a slave is equal to you?”  And the crowd roars with outrage at the very idea… 

Well, excuse me, but if God felt all men were equal, he would not have had a “chosen people” to begin with.  If God had a problem with slavery he would have given us a commandment against it.  If Jesus thought slavery was wrong he would have said something about it.  Did he?  No.  And as Sam Harris points out, the fact that we abolished slavery was not thanks to a new interpretation of the Bible.  It was thanks to secularism.  Those who looked to the Bible for answers to this issue concluded that God had no problem with slavery—and I don’t blame them.  They were right.  Nowhere in the Bible does God say that slavery is an abomination.  The idea that all men are equal does not come from the Bible.  It comes from humanism, from the Enlgihtenment: “liberte, egalite, fraternite.”

And Jesus did not say that the slave was equal to the rich man.  Jesus said that the poor will be blessed, but it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to get into heaven.  This is not about equality; this is about favoritism, again.  The poor are favored.  The filmmakers are misrepresenting Christianity.

But anyway, the Biblical story of Esther is what I thought was even more disturbing.  The actress in the film is drop-dead gorgeous.  Her portrayal is sweet and beautiful.  And it was this sweet and beautiful woman who told the king to prolong the slaughter of the “enemies of the Jews” for one more day, so more people and their innocent children could be destroyed.  And this is what is celebrated every year.  For shame!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 November 2006 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  41
Joined  2006-08-20

Shucks, I thought from the title the movie was about Elvis.

Dave

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 November 2006 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  331
Joined  2006-10-10

[quote author=“Rami”]The idea that all men are equal does not come from the Bible.  It comes from humanism, from the Enlgihtenment: “liberte, egalite, fraternite.”

It might be true that the ideal of political equality does not come from the Bible, but (certain trends in Christendom notwithstanding) Christianity is a religion, not a political doctrine. The idea that our ethical obligations apply to everyone without distinction can be found in the Bible (we are obliged to love our neighbour; and everyone is our neighbour), but this doesn’t necessarily imply any particular political conclusion.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 November 2006 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  318
Joined  2006-03-23

[quote author=“Climacus”]The idea that our ethical obligations apply to everyone without distinction can be found in the Bible (we are obliged to love our neighbour; and everyone is our neighbour),

Perhaps it can Climacus.  But you can also find an obscene number of counter examples.  At the very best, the Bible is a book of contradictions.  At its worst, it has provided justification for all manner of uncivilized behavior. 

[quote author=“The Creator of the Universe”]   
    When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.  If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.  (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

  When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.  If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.  But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her.  And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter.  If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife.  If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)


http://www.evilbible.com/Slavery.htm

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 November 2006 08:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1321
Joined  2006-04-24

[quote author=“FaixaPreta”][quote author=“Climacus”]The idea that our ethical obligations apply to everyone without distinction can be found in the Bible (we are obliged to love our neighbour; and everyone is our neighbour),

Perhaps it can Climacus.  But you can also find an obscene number of counter examples.  At the very best, the Bible is a book of contradictions.  At its worst, it has provided justification for all manner of uncivilized behavior. 

[quote author=“The Creator of the Universe”]   
    When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.  If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.  (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

  When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.  If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.  But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her.  And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter.  If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife.  If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

Precisely.  God certainly did not state that all people were equal—politically, socially or otherwise.  He did not regard slaves as equals to their owners.  He considered them their property (see the Exodus quote above).

Oh, but that’s the Old Testament.  OK.  What did Jesus say about slavery?  Did he abolish it?  No.  Did he proclaim a commandment against it?  No.  Did he say slaves were equal to their masters?  No.  But he was not crazy about rich people, that’s for sure.  The story of Lazarus and his master has the slave in heaven and the slave-owner, the rich man, in burning in hell.  Even though the tables are turned, this is still not equality. 

So, let us not pretend that the very concept of all people being equal was handed to us by God or by Jesus.  It wasn’t.  It came from humanism, from the Enlightenment.  But the religious cannot credit it to the Enlightenment.  They figure such an admirable ideal must have come from the source of all goodness, God.  Well, it didn’t.  A lot of horrific stuff did, however.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 November 2006 04:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

[quote author=“Climacus”]Christianity is a religion, not a political doctrine. The idea that our ethical obligations apply to everyone without distinction can be found in the Bible

If it waddles like a political doctrine, quacks like a political doctrine, and flaps its wings like a political doctrine, you better duck. LOL

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2006 06:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  331
Joined  2006-10-10

[quote author=“Rami”]God certainly did not state that all people were equal—politically, socially or otherwise.

I’ve already granted that Christianity doesn’t call for political equality—it’s not a political system.

You didn’t address my earlier point: we are directed to love our neighbour, and everyone is our neighbour. This is not political equality, but it is ethical equality. (I’ve given examples of how you can be committed to one while missing the other.) Or how about: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Gal 3:28] This isn’t speaking politically, or socially, but it is speaking “otherwise”.

So, let us not pretend that the very concept of all people being equal was handed to us by God or by Jesus.  It wasn’t.  It came from humanism, from the Enlightenment.  But the religious cannot credit it to the Enlightenment.

Of course religious people can give credit where credit is due to the Enlightenment. Many of the key figures of the Enlightenment were themselves religious.

Did the concept of equality come from Christianity, or from the Enlightenment? That’s a false dichotomy. Kant is a central figure in the Enlightenment, but his ethics were to a large extent a reworking of Christian ethics. (Though he himself was not much of a Christian.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 November 2006 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1321
Joined  2006-04-24

“Climacus”][quote author=“Rami”]God certainly did not state that all people were equal—politically, socially or otherwise.

I’ve already granted that Christianity doesn’t call for political equality—it’s not a political system.

Hold on.  Back in the days when the Old Testament was written, religion and politics were one and the same.  Religion was very much a political system.  And if that is the god Christians worship, then they need to deal with the fact that God did not state that all people were equal, nor did he command that all people be treated as equals.  Instead, he gave us instructions as to how to treat our slaves.  Don’t tell me that has nothing to do with ethics.  If God were indeed the source of all morality, then one would think that slavery was one of the major issues God would address.  Does he?  No. 

You didn’t address my earlier point: we are directed to love our neighbour, and everyone is our neighbour. This is not political equality, but it is ethical equality. (I’ve given examples of how you can be committed to one while missing the other.) Or how about: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Gal 3:28] This isn’t speaking politically, or socially, but it is speaking “otherwise”.

This was not spoken by God, either.  Galatians was written by Paul.  And Paul also had nothing to say about the immorality of slavery. 

And this is not really about ethics.  It is typical Gnostic doctrine, according to which ALL souls are made of the same substance as God Himself, and so in order to know God one must get to know oneself.  Once one gets to know oneself, one realizes that one is One with all humanity and God.

So, let us not pretend that the very concept of all people being equal was handed to us by God or by Jesus.  It wasn’t.  It came from humanism, from the Enlightenment.  But the religious cannot credit it to the Enlightenment.

Of course religious people can give credit where credit is due to the Enlightenment. Many of the key figures of the Enlightenment were themselves religious.

Did the concept of equality come from Christianity, or from the Enlightenment? That’s a false dichotomy. Kant is a central figure in the Enlightenment, but his ethics were to a large extent a reworking of Christian ethics. (Though he himself was not much of a Christian.)

The Enlightenment owes its existence to pre-Christian ideology, to the ideas of the ancient philosophers.  Christianity plunged Europe into the Dark Ages of ignorance and superstition by displacing and destroying the ancient philosophical ideas.  During the Middle Ages, it was all about God, it was all about the church.  It was the Enlightenement that has handed us the humanistic ideals we enjoy today.  Humanism did not come from religion, from the church or from the Bible.  It came from the Enlightenment.  THAT’s where credit is due. 

Jesus’ teachings were indeed more humanistic than the horrendous Old Testament.  But guess what, Jesus’ ethics can be traced directly to neo-Platonism.  If one is going to credit Jesus, then one should go back one more step—to the Greek philosophers, whose ideals were spread all over the Hellenic empire.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 November 2006 01:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  331
Joined  2006-10-10

[quote author=“Rami”]Hold on.  Back in the days when the Old Testament was written, religion and politics were one and the same.  Religion was very much a political system.

True, but Judaism isn’t Christianity.

And if that is the god Christians worship, then they need to deal with the fact that God did not state that all people were equal, nor did he command that all people be treated as equals.

OK, for the third time, this time in more detail. In Matthew 23:36ff, Jesus is asked what “the great commandment” is, and reponds that everything is based upon two commandments: love God, and love your neighbour. And he explains that “neighbour” is to be understood as applying to everyone without distinction, in passages like Matthew 5:43ff and Luke 10:29ff.

If God were indeed the source of all morality, then one would think that slavery was one of the major issues God would address.

Why would one think that? Let’s assume that God is the source of all morality (whatever that means). Why should it follow that God should address, through divine revelation, any particular moral issue in a direct and explicit manner? Shouldn’t we be able to figure out some of this crap on our own? If God is the source of morality, he’s presumably also the one who endowed us with the ability to reason about morality.

The Enlightenment owes its existence to pre-Christian ideology, to the ideas of the ancient philosophers.

In large part, yes. But the humanistic ethics of the Enlightenment, which achieved their full flower in Kant, also owed their existence to Christian ethics. People seem to have this tendency to forget how many of these guys were (or at least were trying to be) Christian.

But guess what, Jesus’ ethics can be traced directly to neo-Platonism.

How so?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 November 2006 01:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

[quote author=“Climacus”]Why would one think that? Let’s assume that God is the source of all morality (whatever that means). Why should it follow that God should address, through divine revelation, any particular moral issue in a direct and explicit manner? Shouldn’t we be able to figure out some of this crap on our own? If God is the source of morality, he’s presumably also the one who endowed us with the ability to reason about morality.

Because only in a fairy tale are you allowed to make it up like this as you go along. Another name for this practice is “apologetics”.

The inevitable turning of the answer to a question into a further justification of the presence and will of God through is done through the use of purely human reason and is evidence of the corruption of the practice. The fact that religion never feels comfortable giving the answer “We don’t know” to a question is the foolish consistency which compels it to fail completely as a competitor of science.

Shouldn’t we be able to figure out some of this crap on our own?

I’m glad you asked. Shouldn’t we be able to figure out all of this crap on our own, and if we can’t do it right now, keep trying to figure it out for later? As far as I know, apologetics has not ever achieved this. Theodicy has not achieved this. Hermeneutics has not achieved this. You either figure all of it out on your own, or none of it.

Why should it follow that God should address, through divine revelation, any particular moral issue in a direct and explicit manner?

The question you should be asking is, what basis have you to claim that God has ever revealed an unambiguous or unconflicted answer to any moral dilemma you can imagine?

I don’t think these comments threaten the discourse simply because they cast doubt upon the answers that have been published, but because they call into question the very legitimacy of hermeneutics in the first place, at least as anything other than an absorbing form of light entertainment. Or a franchise that populates entire philosophy departments in some instances.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 November 2006 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  331
Joined  2006-10-10

[quote author=“Salt Creek”]The fact that religion never feels comfortable giving the answer “We don’t know” to a question is the foolish consistency which compels it to fail completely as a competitor of science.

Where do you get that from? Many religious people are entirely willing to answer “We don’t know” to all sorts of questions, up to and including the question “Does God exist?” And whatever religion is supposed to be, I think it’s a terrible misunderstanding to think of it as so much as trying to be a competitor to science.

Shouldn’t we be able to figure out all of this crap on our own, and if we can’t do it right now, keep trying to figure it out for later?

All of morality? Sure.

The question you should be asking is, what basis have you to claim that God has ever revealed an unambiguous or unconflicted answer to any moral dilemma you can imagine?

I’m not arguing for that claim, and I don’t think there could be any rational basis for such an argument. (I’m criticizing Rami’s argument that the ethical content of Christianity is deficient. I’m not arguing that this ethical content was in fact dictated by God—I can’t imagine what such an argument would look like.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 November 2006 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

[quote author=“Climacus”]Many religious people are entirely willing to answer “We don’t know” to all sorts of questions, up to and including the question “Does God exist?”
.
.
.
I’m not arguing for that claim, and I don’t think there could be any rational basis for such an argument. (I’m criticizing Rami’s argument that the ethical content of Christianity is deficient. I’m not arguing that this ethical content was in fact dictated by God—I can’t imagine what such an argument would look like.

Then what in the world constitutes religion? Is it only a facile comfort that some superior entity knows how much we suffer? What good is that to anyone? Evasiveness cannot do much to defend an imaginary deity.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 November 2006 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  331
Joined  2006-10-10

[quote author=“Salt Creek”]Then what in the world constitutes religion?

Religion as such? Hard to say; there are many different kinds of religions. Maybe this is sufficiently general: A relationship between a mere mortal and divinity.

Is it only a facile comfort that some superior entity knows how much we suffer?

For some believers, it may be that their religion serves only to provide them with comfort. This isn’t true of all believers. But if this sort of comfort were something that appeals to you, I’m sure it would be easy enough to find.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 November 2006 07:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1321
Joined  2006-04-24

“Climacus”][quote author=“Rami”]Hold on.  Back in the days when the Old Testament was written, religion and politics were one and the same.  Religion was very much a political system.

True, but Judaism isn’t Christianity.

I know that.  But Christians claim that Christianity is founded on Judaism.

And if that is the god Christians worship, then they need to deal with the fact that God did not state that all people were equal, nor did he command that all people be treated as equals.

OK, for the third time, this time in more detail. In Matthew 23:36ff, Jesus is asked what “the great commandment” is, and reponds that everything is based upon two commandments: love God, and love your neighbour. And he explains that “neighbour” is to be understood as applying to everyone without distinction, in passages like Matthew 5:43ff and Luke 10:29ff.

“Love your neighbor” does not in any way imply that you should treat your neighbor and all of your “neighbors” as if they were equal to you.  You can sincerely love your slave without feeling that he is equal to you.  Furthermore, Jesus, who is co-eternal with Jehovah, ordered the genocidal slaughter of the Amalekites.  How do you reconcile this with “Love your neighbor”?  Killing them softly?

If God were indeed the source of all morality, then one would think that slavery was one of the major issues God would address.

Why would one think that? Let’s assume that God is the source of all morality (whatever that means).

It means that all rules of what is right and what is wrong are fixed by God.

Why should it follow that God should address, through divine revelation, any particular moral issue in a direct and explicit manner? Shouldn’t we be able to figure out some of this crap on our own? If God is the source of morality, he’s presumably also the one who endowed us with the ability to reason about morality.

Well, God gave us all kinds of silly rules about how eating bats and not sleeping with animals, told us how to stone blasphemers and adulterers.  This is what God does—he tells us what is right and what is wrong.  he has addressed lots and lots of specific issues of morality.  Yet he did not speak out against slavery AND gave us instructions as to how to treat our slaves.  It is obvious that God had not problem with slavery.  It is obvious that equality was not something God was concerned with.

Also, just because morality comes to us from God does not in any way mean that God gave us the ability to reason about morality.  God does not tell us to wonder about morality.  He gives us unambiguous rules which we are to follow.  He gives us the answers: blasphemy, adultery, sex before marriage, insubordination to parents, etc are all wrong.  No reasoning is needed or encouraged.

The Enlightenment owes its existence to pre-Christian ideology, to the ideas of the ancient philosophers.

In large part, yes. But the humanistic ethics of the Enlightenment, which achieved their full flower in Kant, also owed their existence to Christian ethics. People seem to have this tendency to forget how many of these guys were (or at least were trying to be) Christian.

From what I understand Kant was devout as Einstein.  In Kant’s day just about everyone in his society was a “Christian”.  But what did that mean?  His Christianity was very different from the kind of Christianity that reigned during the Dark Ages.  Richard Dawkins, in his The God Delusion, says that Kant was likely an atheist—although in his day it was certainly not the fashion to proclaim one’s godlessness.

But guess what, Jesus’ ethics can be traced directly to neo-Platonism.

How so?

Well, the kinder, gentler philosophy of Jesus certainly did not arise out of the Old Testament.  This gentleness arose from the Socratic ideals, brought to the Near East via the process of Hellenization.  Several centuries before Jesus, Socrates developed the notion of “turn the other cheek”, among many of the other ethical “innovations” of Jesus.  For more info on this subject, see The Jesus Mysteries by Freke and Gandy.  Great stuff.

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed