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Response From an Apologist
Posted: 05 December 2006 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]  
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I have a particular fondness for the term ‘apologist’.
It is a form of rebuttal, a defense against a charge.

It is not a refutation.  Today we call it ‘spin’.

As an analogy

Little Billy runs through the house and knocks a lamp off the table, breaking it. He presents his ‘apology’; You were careless to place the lamp so close to the edge of the table.

An Apologist is someone who intends to present an intellectually dishonest response. By labelling himself as an apologist, he readily admits his position is not legitmately defensible.

I give the apologist credit for honestly admitting he intends to be dishonest.

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Posted: 06 December 2006 08:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]  
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[quote author=“hampsteadpete”]

The part that troubles me in believing that Jesus was a real person is the numerous ways in which he shared traits with previous gods/deities from different cultures.

I was stuck on this point for a long time, in fact until just recently.  I think to get past this, one must separate what was most probable from the mythology that was developed in Paul’s letters and from Mark forward.

I don’t think, based upon reading “Q” and other sources, that any contemporary of Jesus or whomever believed him to be in any way divine, the son of god, or anything other than a prophet. At least there seems to be no evidence that supports that position.

Is this thread dead now…

So Pete… Reading Q is one thing, I have not done it, but what about the nag hammadi library.  The sources we now have from the past century are provocative to say the least!  It took Constantine to settle the debate once and for all.  Constantine finally deified the man/myth jesus character and made it practically heretical to believe otherwise.  There were a few rogue gnostic factions who held out for a century or so but eventually the notion that Jesus is God won out for popular consumption.

Constantine with his huge cache of money bought up a vast army of scribes clergy to perpetuate his beliefs.  The way I see it.

Prior to Constantine, however, it was a total crap shoot.  Some folks (numbered in the tens of thousands) believed Jesus was a normal human who recieved nothing but a “commission” from god to preach.  He became commissioned when the dove appears at baptism, and decommissioned on the cross when jesus supposedly cries out “Why have you forsaken me”?

And there are a half a dozen variations of that non deified jesus you can read about in Ehrman’s book “The Lost Christianities”.  Good stuff! 

I keep forgetting, though, how similar the jesus character is to Krishna etc.  That is perplexing.  I would really like to get to the bottom of those parallels some day.  They seem really great on paper, as in competely destructive to Jesus as an actual person.  If the parallels truly are spot on, I do not know how else a person can say jesus is anything but a myth.

1. Yeshua and Krishna were called both a God and the Son of God.
2. Both was sent from heaven to earth in the form of a man.
3. Both were called Savior, and the second person of the Trinity.
4. His adoptive human father was a carpenter.
5. A spirit or ghost was their actual father.
6. Krishna and Jesus were of royal descent.
7. Both were visited at birth by wise men and shepherds, guided by a star.
8. Angels in both cases issued a warning that the local dictator planned to kill the baby and had issued a decree for his assassination. The parents fled. Mary and Joseph stayed in Muturea; Krishna’s parents stayed in Mathura.
9. Both Yeshua and Krishna withdrew to the wilderness as adults, and fasted.
10. Both were identified as “the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head.”
11. Jesus was called “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” Krishna was called “the lion of the tribe of Saki.”
12. Both claimed: “I am the Resurrection.”
13. Both referred to themselves having existed before their birth on earth.
14. Both were “without sin.” 
15. Both were god-men: being considered both human and divine.
16. They were both considered omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.
17. Both performed many miracles, including the healing of disease. One of the first miracles that both performed was to make a leper whole. Each cured “all manner of diseases.” 
18. Both cast out indwelling demons, and raised the dead.
19. Both selected disciples to spread his teachings.
20. Both were meek, and merciful. Both were criticized for associating with sinners.
21. Both encountered a Gentile woman at a well.
22. Both celebrated a last supper. Both forgave his enemies. 
23. Both descended into Hell, and were resurrected. Many people witnessed their ascensions into heaven.

source: http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jckr1.htm

also see this link:

http://www.near-death.com/experiences/origen04.html

for a not bad constructed comparison of jesus as the reincarnated Horus, Mithra, Buddha


Noggin

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Posted: 07 December 2006 01:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]  
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Just wanted to use this thread to put in a plug for “The Jesus Puzzle” by Earl Doherty, who makes a pretty convincing argument that Jesus was a mythical character and that the early epistle writers, including Paul, did not actually think of him as having been on earth.  The book is hard to find in bookstores but you can find it on Amazon.

Actually this book should upset Christian apologists more than Sam

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Posted: 09 December 2006 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]  
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[quote author=“Noggin”]

1. Yeshua and Krishna were called both a God and the Son of God.
2. Both was sent from heaven to earth in the form of a man.
3. Both were called Savior, and the second person of the Trinity.
4. His adoptive human father was a carpenter.
5. A spirit or ghost was their actual father.
6. Krishna and Jesus were of royal descent.
7. Both were visited at birth by wise men and shepherds, guided by a star.
8. Angels in both cases issued a warning that the local dictator planned to kill the baby and had issued a decree for his assassination. The parents fled. Mary and Joseph stayed in Muturea; Krishna’s parents stayed in Mathura.
9. Both Yeshua and Krishna withdrew to the wilderness as adults, and fasted.
10. Both were identified as “the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head.”
11. Jesus was called “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” Krishna was called “the lion of the tribe of Saki.”
12. Both claimed: “I am the Resurrection.”
13. Both referred to themselves having existed before their birth on earth.
14. Both were “without sin.” 
15. Both were god-men: being considered both human and divine.
16. They were both considered omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.
17. Both performed many miracles, including the healing of disease. One of the first miracles that both performed was to make a leper whole. Each cured “all manner of diseases.” 
18. Both cast out indwelling demons, and raised the dead.
19. Both selected disciples to spread his teachings.
20. Both were meek, and merciful. Both were criticized for associating with sinners.
21. Both encountered a Gentile woman at a well.
22. Both celebrated a last supper. Both forgave his enemies. 
23. Both descended into Hell, and were resurrected. Many people witnessed their ascensions into heaven.


Noggin

Ahoy,oy Noggers…Greetings from our nation’s capitol.  (I get to go home tomarrow, thank whomever….)


Great list of comparisons. Never thought about the links between hinduism and christianity.  Makes sense though, I mean, The Vedas predate Christianity by what, 2000 years?  Make sense that the writers of the text would borrow concepts from that fath.

you know what’s interesting? There are those who belive that Jesus faked his death, (soporific administered by Joe of Arimathea), and then he went wandering like Kane in the land.  Into India..learning the way.
Beautiful image.  I wish it were true.  we might have more tolerance.

well, can’t blame them for borrowing.

I told you you’d like the Erhman books…he’s pretty smart.  I can’t even imagine how that spun your head around.

well, gotta go. I’ve been drinking , and I don’t wanna make an arse of myself.  So I will go know.

talk atcha all laters when I’m back in the City of Big Shoulders and Bad Smells

:?

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History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

-James Joyce

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Posted: 10 December 2006 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]  
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[quote author=“switch”]Ahoy,oy Noggers…Greetings from our nation’s capitol.  (I get to go home tomarrow, thank whomever….)

I’ll let you salute and sing Hail to the Chief.  You have to hand it to him, a panel of experts try to tell Bush his foreign policy is basically shite wrapped in gold sheaves and Bush only hears: “your Iraq policy is like gold sheaves”.

or something like that. 

Great list of comparisons. Never thought about the links between hinduism and christianity.  Makes sense though, I mean, The Vedas predate Christianity by what, 2000 years?  Make sense that the writers of the text would borrow concepts from that fath.

Oh and the other links show Jesus could have been ripped off from Buddha as well.  I look forward to the day when I can dissect all of this properly.

I told you you’d like the Erhman books…he’s pretty smart.  I can’t even imagine how that spun your head around.

Linda Blair style!  I loved that wild ride.  You do know that there are rabid apologetics already out against Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” don’t you? 

well, gotta go. I’ve been drinking , and I don’t wanna make an arse of myself.  So I will go know.

You post well when you are intoxicated, Switch!!  Good job!  wink

The Nogster

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Posted: 14 December 2006 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]  
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[quote author=“Corte”]Hmmm… I have yet to see an educated, intelligent response to any of the arguments put forth by Mr. Holding. What I have seen are Ad Hominem attacks but nothing substantive. Yet again more proof of the intellectual bankruptcy of the atheist worldview. You really are petulant children throwing a temper tantrum.
Oh, CanZen It seems to me that you are claiming that Sam Harris’s “common sense” approach aimed at “common” theists is simply another way of saying that he wrote for idiots. Hmmm… Maybe that is because only an idiot would be convinced by his juvenile arguments. That’s a good marketing approach but I would not hold my breath for reasoning, educated, well read theist with proper critical thinking skills to be swayed by his fluff. I would love for one atheist, just one, to write a book with something even closely resembling a solid argument for his atheism or against Christian theism. Alas I fear that day will never come.

Disciplined thought is far more superior and preferable to Free Thought.

Interesting how Corte begins by shaming responses the indulge in Ad Hominem attacks before indulging in such attacks himself.

Nonetheless, Mr. Holding begins with the same presuppositions that make rational discourse impossible - he enters the intellectual arena with assumptions that he apparently does not care to justify.  As such, his comments are fundamentally intellectually bankrupt.

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Posted: 09 January 2007 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]  
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It’s guys like J. P. Holding that give Christian apologists a poor reputation.  Even if there were some good arguments amid the mud he posted, no one will be willing to admit to them given the outlandish abashing present in his diatribe.  He speaks of reason and critical thinking yet knows nothing or proper manners and respectful debate.  Apparently he thinks it acceptable to defend the Bible, i.e. to defend Christ, but at the same time reject the model Christ set for life.  I do not find such actions acceptable and neither does Christ.

As a Christian, I am always looking for innovative apologetics, that is, apologetics whose methods open the door of discussion with atheists who so often refuse to discuss unless the theist submits to atheistic presuppositions prior to the debate.  I can handle fierce arguments, ones founded in reason and logic, but when emotions and personal attacks substitute for reason, the author (and I think both Holding and Harris are guilty of this) has resorted to an Ad Hominem artument rather than addressing the issues.  This form of argument will never prove beneficial unless the goal is to stir up resentment.

In short, I don’t find Harris particularly sound in his reasoning and I don’t find Holding particularly Christian in his behavior.  There are many atheists and theists out there far superior to Harris’ reasoning and Holding’s character.  Why an atheist would prescribe to someone like Harris over other more notable and profesional atheists is puzzling to me.  For Harris doesn’t make arguments as much as he summarizes the arguments presented by others; only, others at least have the courtesy of presenting both sides of the argument before arguing why their position is more rational.

My suggestion is to stick with the writings of guys like JL Mackie, William Craig, JP Moreland, Bart Ehrman, Douglas Geivett, Kai Nielsen, and Alvin Plantinga.  No offense to Harris, I don’t think he intends to present a polished work as much as a passing attack on theism, but these other guys have great discourse and debate with one another.  If you ask me, listening to them will solidify the rational of both theism and atheism, leaving your decision between the two up to something other than mere reason.

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Posted: 10 January 2007 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]  
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Sam Harris can speak for himself, but I can only assume his books were written for the average person who is not much of a professional philosopher.  Most people, atheists and theists including, probably would have NO interest in the books or arguments written by these guys you mention.  The issue involved aren’t that complicated.  Harris’ short book pretty much covers the issues that most people would be interested in.  In short, ivory tower atheism is pretty much of no use or interest to most.

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Posted: 11 January 2007 02:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]  
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I think the issues involved are most definitely complicated.  Harris tries to suggest that the Christian worldview is irrational.  That is a massive suggestion that some elite atheists disagree with (William Rowe comes to mind). 

Harris mentions the problem of evil which, at least in my estimation, is the biggest and most complicated problem with the Christian worldview.  Perhaps I misunderstand you when you say the issues involved “aren’t that complicated” but anyone who argues for the end of religion is opening up an extremely complex and tenuous debate.  When a gauntlet of arguments are thrown down like Harris did, they should be addressed and exposed.

I agree with you that this book was not written for philosophers.  But I’m no philosopher, I’m just a well-read Christian who likes to know what they believe, why they believe it, and whether it is even rational.  To this point I am convince the Christian worldview is rational and anyone who wants to argue for the destruction of theism because it is NOT rational needs to do more than a drive by shooting on theism (which is what I equate his book to).  But I suppose that has more to do with my personal preference than anything else.  I would hope that people do show an interest in the guys I listed, all but Plantinga are readable.  I can understand where people have no interest in the modal logic of Plantinga, but at the same time what he has done in epistemology is remarkable. 

I would love for someone like Harris to step into a debate with Plantinga or Craig.  If Harris wants to suggest theism is irrational then he needs to argue on the front lines against rational theists.  But again, that’s just my take on the importance of this issue.  I suppose most people don’t even know who Plantinga and Craig even are.  Its a shame, especially if theists don’t know of them, but you are right in that people rarely show the kind of interest needed to endure complex philosophical arguments.

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Posted: 11 January 2007 03:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]  
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To JGrice02 -

Well, sure, there are different views on what the “rational vs. irrational” debate is necessarily about.  We could debate that, I suppose.  However, the average non-professional philosopher person who deems himself an atheist (or some pragmatic equivalent like agnostic, materialist, naturalist, secularist, humanist, free thinker, ad infinitum) is more so convinced just by a “simple” argument that speaks to his or her “mind/heart” or holistic personal concept of a “true beyond any reasonable doubt” standard (meaning that the logic acceptance must be fully integrated in the psychological reality of the person).  Authority as such means nothing to almost all of us “atheists”.  This is something that any Christian must have trouble understanding (I think based on the fact that Christians suffer from a “cult of personality” regarding Jesus, and thus believe that those who “reject” their “Lord” must be in the thrall of some other, competing cult figure.  Not true). 

When I say “aren’t that complicated” I mean that, not in a way I think I can “prove” to the satisfaction of you or anyone else, theist or atheist, I am just making a pragmatic-based observation.  That is, based on my personal experience and the rendition of hundreds of other tergiversates, apostates, heretics, and heathens that I’m familiar with, I perceive there are a very limited number of “issues” or questions that need be addressed to settle the BIG issue for many people, and Mr. Harris has done about as good a job as I have ever seen in my 57 years of life in putting those issues or questions to rest.  But, then, as you have admitted, you are a Christian.  Thus you have no way of knowing what is REALLY going on inside my head, so to speak, than I have of figuring out what REALLY is happening inside your skull when you ruminate on the ultimate questions of ontology and epistemology.

One last word on rationality - any world view will be based on some type of assumption that a person finds ipso facto correct, and then goes on to find the “rational” implications that eventually form a system ( a belief system, actually).  Atheists and their brethren, rightly or wrongly, are those who come to see the basic assumptions of theism as a wish-fulfillment fantasy, i.e., obvious mythos taken as concrete fact (whether this should be deemed “irrational” is up for debate, I suppose.).  In any case, it thus follows logically that the system that is developed from that unfounded imagination will be deemed a fantastical creation of the human mind by atheists also.

I personally think the road to rationality must needs be taken in steps by most people who find themselves as children mired in the morass of religious “irrationality”, rather than biting off the whole chuck of sanity and trying to swallow it whole at one time.

I would advise the “seeker” or “skeptic” to first read “The Age of Reason” by Thomas Paine and then read the major essays of Robert Ingersoll.  These should ease a person into the position of deism, which is 90 per cent where sanity lies.  If it doesn’t, then I guess the person will be forever lost (pun intended) to the world of science and sanity.

But once a deist, THEN I would think that one is prepared adequately for exposure to Dawkins, Harris, and the other modern day “saints” of atheism (Julia Sweeney also comes to mind here :D ).

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Posted: 11 January 2007 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]  
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The rock bottom argument for the irattionality of Christianity is quite simply that Christians cling to the belief in silly Bronze Age myths.

It is as simple, and irrefutable, as that.

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Posted: 11 January 2007 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]  
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I don’t think it’s ‘as simple as that’ if you deny huge chunks of human experience in your rejection of Christianity. What you are so quick to define as an outdated myth, could just as easily be seen as ancient wisdom. If you have no interest in ancient wisdom, that’s not a problem. You may be entirely convinced there is no such thing. But it’s not very intelligent to then deny the possibility that for other people there is such a thing as ancient wisdom, and that it could light up their life.
Only a few people are going to be irrationally attached to every word of an ancient text, and the more we educate people in critical thinking, the better religion will be. 
I agree with Sam Harris that ‘tolerance’ is a misplaced value. But are we willing to replace tolerance with arrogance? I hope not!
I also agree with Harris that ‘moderation’ is not something to be valued.  Any Christian I’ll respect is not the least bit ‘lukewarm,’ especially not in the area of contemplation.

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Posted: 31 January 2007 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]I don’t think it’s ‘as simple as that’ if you deny huge chunks of human experience in your rejection of Christianity. What you are so quick to define as an outdated myth, could just as easily be seen as ancient wisdom. If you have no interest in ancient wisdom, that’s not a problem. You may be entirely convinced there is no such thing. But it’s not very intelligent to then deny the possibility that for other people there is such a thing as ancient wisdom, and that it could light up their life.
Only a few people are going to be irrationally attached to every word of an ancient text, and the more we educate people in critical thinking, the better religion will be. 
I agree with Sam Harris that ‘tolerance’ is a misplaced value. But are we willing to replace tolerance with arrogance? I hope not!
I also agree with Harris that ‘moderation’ is not something to be valued.  Any Christian I’ll respect is not the least bit ‘lukewarm,’ especially not in the area of contemplation.

What “ancient wisdom” are you referring to? In a time when people were woefully ignorant about almost every aspect of life and the world around them (i.e. world flat, sun revolves around it, etc), why should we consider that there’s some chance they were right about the biggest, most complex questions of all?

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Posted: 31 January 2007 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]  
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[quote author=“arildno”]The rock bottom argument for the irattionality of Christianity is quite simply that Christians cling to the belief in silly Bronze Age myths.

It is as simple, and irrefutable, as that.

You’d probably get some arguments from the cavemen in the Geico ads.

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Posted: 31 January 2007 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]  
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[quote author=“bustinoutonfunk”][quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]I don’t think it’s ‘as simple as that’ if you deny huge chunks of human experience in your rejection of Christianity. What you are so quick to define as an outdated myth, could just as easily be seen as ancient wisdom. If you have no interest in ancient wisdom, that’s not a problem. You may be entirely convinced there is no such thing. But it’s not very intelligent to then deny the possibility that for other people there is such a thing as ancient wisdom, and that it could light up their life.
Only a few people are going to be irrationally attached to every word of an ancient text, and the more we educate people in critical thinking, the better religion will be. 
I agree with Sam Harris that ‘tolerance’ is a misplaced value. But are we willing to replace tolerance with arrogance? I hope not!
I also agree with Harris that ‘moderation’ is not something to be valued.  Any Christian I’ll respect is not the least bit ‘lukewarm,’ especially not in the area of contemplation.

What “ancient wisdom” are you referring to? In a time when people were woefully ignorant about almost every aspect of life and the world around them (i.e. world flat, sun revolves around it, etc), why should we consider that there’s some chance they were right about the biggest, most complex questions of all?

You are committing what Vico called the “error of scholars”, assuming that because they were pore primitive than us present day moderns, they have nothing worth considering and nothing to teach us.  (The “error of nations” is the opposite, considering the ancients as exemplars of great wisdom and mystical secrets that are beyond us present day mortals.)  The anthropologist C.R. Hallpike points out that just because primitive peoples do not have the sophistication and tools of logical thought that we possess today, this does not mean that they are ignorant.  Often they develop highly complex and deep systems of belief that incorporate much wisdom.  After all, wisdom is not something that comes from logical analysis—it comes from life experience.

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