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"The apostles wouldn't die for a lie!"
Posted: 10 April 2005 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Apologists who are being backed into a corner about the historicity of Jesus often say things like, "The apostles wouldn't have faced martyrdom for a lie."

Uh, assuming these "apostles" existed and they did face death for their beliefs, what does that prove? People die for mistaken beliefs all the time. What do you think happened to the Muslims who were flying the planes on 9-11?

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Posted: 11 April 2005 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Don’t leave out history’s great prophets.

According to Clifford A. Pickover in his book, Strange Brains and Genius, “Through history, TLE [temporal lobe epilepsy] has affected a legion of writers, artists, and religious leaders.”

“In fact, TLE can foster profound insights and mystical experiences to such a degree that some patients prefer
not to take anticonvulsive drugs that deprive them of their creativity. . . .”

I’m all for creativity, but when it comes to establishing a basic understanding about how the world works, it’s easy to become overly creative. Dangerous, as well.

Dave

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Posted: 11 April 2005 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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advancedatheist, lets see, you had a huge group of disciples in hiding, then the day of pentecost occurs. Immediately you have the whole lot of them preaching on the streets. You have them drug before the Sanhedrin and they speak boldly regardless of the consequences. What about Paul? A popular leader of the Jewish faith who gives everything up for the suffering life of an apostle. What about Stephen, who continued preaching as the rocks came flying in to take his life away.

It is a pretty good premise. What does it prove, that they believed something beyond the shadow of a doubt, to their core. But check this out, what about the multitudes of missionary workers through the centuries who gave their lifes for the cause. What about the many who today are giving up the comforts of a suburban lifestyle in the USA to suffer with the poverty stricken in the third world, in Africa, in the middle east, in Asia. Their story is not much different is it? It continues today, this belief in the resurrected Christ. These people are a testimoney to the truth. Believe it.

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Posted: 11 April 2005 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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What about doctors without borders?

What about the UN volunteers?

There are many people who abandon lives of (relative) comfort and wealth in order to help the less fortunate.  Some of them are religiously motivated, but by no means are they all.

Champ, when I want to convince someone of something, I prefer not to appeal to their faith to do it, but in this case, I will make an exception.

Pride cometh before destruction, and a haughty spirit before the fall.  I used to believe, as you apparently do, that all the good that was to be found in this world came from believers.  However, I came to realize, just as in the parable of the good samaritan, that when the chips were down for me, and my former Christian brothers became scarce, the people who went out of their way for my sake were, for the most part, non-believers or non-practicing.

There is suffering in this world, it is true.  There are some people whose lives increase the net suffering in this world, and there are some people whose lives decrease it.  I should hope, Christian or no, that we, as human beings, can agree that it is better to be in the latter group, and not the former.  Remember, it isn’t just about getting into heaven.  The Bible makes it clear that there will be levels, even there, and that the quality of one’s life in this world will have an impact.  Even those who wind up in heaven will have to face an accounting of their deeds.

It is easy to lose sight of the goal.  It is easy to get caught up in the battles of this world, but that is your flesh.  Let it go, and embrace the love of your faith.

-Matt

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Posted: 11 April 2005 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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. . . what about the multitudes of missionary workers through the centuries who gave their lifes for the cause.

Champion, I hope you’ll accept yet another book recommendation: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It’s short, but quite dense. Order the accompanying Cliffs Notes, and I’m not saying this to patronize you or insult your intelligence, which I realize is strong.

Until you read H.O.D., you will need to assume something entirely contrary to your statement.

Dave

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Posted: 12 April 2005 02:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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I wouldn’t take temporal lobe epilepsy too seriously as a means to explain away various manifestations of spirituality or religiosity. No matter who’s using it for this purpose.

The source of the definition of everything as hallucination or at best delusion that could possibly be considered as a manifestation of the “supernatural” dates back to the 19th century, the identification of dementia praecox, now called schizophrenia, by Emil Kraepelin, and of temporal lobe epilepsy around the same time. As Richard Restak reports in “Complex Partial Seizures Present Diagnostic Challenge”,

“John Hughlings Jackson observed in the late 1800s that seizures originating in the medial temporal lobe often result in a ‘dreamy state’ involving vivid memory-like hallucinations sometimes accompanied by déjà vu or jamais vu (interpreting frequently encountered people, places or events as unfamiliar). Jackson wrote of ‘highly elaborated mental states, sometimes called intellectual aura,’ involving ‘dreams mixing up with present thoughts,’ a ‘double consciousness’ and a ‘feeling of being somewhere else.’ While the ‘dreamy state’ can occur in isolation, it is often accompanied by fear and a peculiar form of abdominal discomfort associated with loss of contact with surroundings, and automatisms involving the mouth and GI tract (licking, lip-smacking, grunting and other sounds).”

Because by then the universe was literally understood to function like a clock, there was no room in it for popular but limited concepts of an immaterial God which dominated Western religion at the time or of anything spiritual, if “spirit” was defined as nonmaterial. Those concepts involving God and spirit were themselves metaphors for something beyond an easy intellectual grasp, as mystics everywhere had always understood. Physical and mental disorders, especially schizophrenia and temporal lobe epilepsy, were seized upon as proof that any religious or spiritual, and by extension paranormal, experiences were products of a disturbed brain.

Temporal lobe epilepsy often involves partial seizures which are hard to diagnose and which can include strong mystical or spiritual feelings during seizures, although this is hardly as characteristic of this form of epilepsy as some would have us believe. There are occasional patients whose seizures include events analogous to religious experience and visions, but clinical descriptions of temporal lobe epilepsy do not mention this as characteristic. Writers using this brain disorder to debunk mystical, spiritual, or religious experiences stress the fact that this disorder can sometimes produce religious visions as explaining how mystical or any other kind of highly unusual experience that can’t immediately be explained by science originates, and have done so since the last century.

The hallucinations suffered by schizophrenics tend to be extremely negative “voices” rather than religious visions. Even so, these two diseases were seized upon during the 19th century as explaining the origins of all highly unusual experiences, especially anything that could possibly be considered religious, paranormal, or in any way related to “spirit” or “soul.” William James, in The Varieties of Religious Experience, published in 1902, objected to “medical materialism” of this kind:

“Modern psychology, finding definite psycho-physical connections to hold good, assumes as a convenient hypothesis that the dependence of mental states upon bodily conditions must be thorough-going and complete. If we adopt the assumption, then of course what medical materialism insists on must be true in a general way, if not in every detail: Saint Paul certainly had once an eleptoid, if not an epileptic seizure; George Fox was an hereditary degenerate; Carlyle was undoubtedly auto-intoxicated by some organ or other, no matter which,—and the rest. But now, I ask you, how can such an existential account of facts of mental history decide in one way or another upon their spiritual significance? According to the general postulate of psychology just referred to, there is not a single one of our states of mind, high or low, healthy or morbid, that has not some organic process as its condition. Scientific theories are organically conditioned just as much as religious emotions are… So of all our raptures and of our drynesses, our longings and our paintings, our questions and beliefs. They are equally organically founded, be they of religious or of non-religious content.”

James points out that this process of discrediting certain mental processes is highly selective. Only those mental states the materialists want to eliminate from the human psyche are considered morbid and diseased. It’s extremely interesting that the three human characteristics most attacked by these methods were, and still are, having any highly unusual experience, any form of spirituality—and artistic creativity.

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Posted: 12 April 2005 03:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Champ seems to think that the strength of one’s belief in something is an indicator of how true it is.

This is simply an untenable position, from any intelligent perspective. Let’s not waste any more time on this fool.

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Posted: 12 April 2005 03:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“Nietzsche”]Champ seems to think that the strength of one’s belief in something is an indicator of how true it is.

This is simply an untenable position, from any intelligent perspective. Let’s not waste any more time on this fool.

Good idea. Unfortunately for Champ, I think this would strengthen his perception of how true his beliefs are. And will likely be lead to think; Praise god! The non-christians were unable to sway my beliefs, therefore my beliefs are even more true.

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Posted: 12 April 2005 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Nietzsche wrote:
Champ seems to think that the strength of one’s belief in something is an indicator of how true it is.

This is simply an untenable position, from any intelligent perspective. Let’s not waste any more time on this fool.

Fencesitter wrote:
Good idea. Unfortunately for Champ, I think this would strengthen his perception of how true his beliefs are. And will likely be lead to think; Praise god! The non-christians were unable to sway my beliefs, therefore my beliefs are even more true.


Two good ideas but I am not sure which is best.  Like a pesky mosquito he flits from one thread to another inserting a ha ha here and a no no there.
and when confronted with reason, or his errors, he just ignores it and flits away.  Not sure whether to swat him or ignore him.  It is a terrible waste of time which is probably to his delight.  I would certainly rather see some reasoned and scholarly post on behalf of the religious community but perhaps this is too much to ask for.  Perhaps we should start to poll to ignore him.

Stay Well

Wot

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Posted: 12 April 2005 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I would certainly rather see some reasoned and scholarly post on behalf of the religious community but perhaps this is too much to ask for.

Why do you suppose there aren’t any “other” devote Christians on this forum? I can think of a few reasons. On forum such as this, wouldn’t you think there would be more believers trying to defend their faith? Or, are they all somehow convinced that their faith need not be defended as it is the way, the truth, and the life. Perhaps they think they have a hard enough job converting the borderline believers let alone the true non-believers. Guess we’ll never know…

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Posted: 12 April 2005 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“fencesitter”]

I would certainly rather see some reasoned and scholarly post on behalf of the religious community but perhaps this is too much to ask for.

Why do you suppose there aren’t any “other” devote Christians on this forum?

I believe the answer is rather obvious.  Most Christians would not have read Sam’s book or listened to his speech on c-span.  And if by chance they had, they would have no reason to visit this website. 

You may find a few, such as Ordinary, who are interested in dialogue and expanding their viewpoint and yours.  And you may find someone like Champion, for whom it is a game and a past time. 

There have probably been a few others who have visited for various reasons, and have been totally intimidated by liberal and atheistic ideas that dominate this forum.  Add to that, the aggressiveness with which many of you attack their faith.  Perhaps they have better things to do with their time.

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Posted: 12 April 2005 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Guest,
good answer, I think I’ll go with that one.

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Posted: 12 April 2005 05:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“TheChampion”]advancedatheist, lets see, you had a huge group of disciples in hiding, then the day of pentecost occurs. Immediately you have the whole lot of them preaching on the streets. You have them drug before the Sanhedrin and they speak boldly regardless of the consequences. What about Paul? A popular leader of the Jewish faith who gives everything up for the suffering life of an apostle. What about Stephen, who continued preaching as the rocks came flying in to take his life away.

First of all, this story from the book of Acts isn’t credible. Acts was written out of whole cloth in the 2nd or 3rd Century CE as a patch to try to connect two conflicting traditions about the origins of christianity, namely, the Peter legend versus the Paul legend. BTW, nowhere in the gospels does Jesus hint that he’d send someone like Paul to present the right version of theology; he explicitly said that Peter and the gang would have the task of evangelizing the world. We just have Paul’s word for it that he received a supernatural commission from Jesus, and Peter would have been suspicious of Paul’s claims with good reason.

Secondly, nobody claimed that Hitler could save people from sin and raise them from the dead, but plenty of Germans willingly gave their lives for him. Assuming that historical “apostles” existed in the first century and were acting upon some kind of extraordinary belief about a guy they knew named Jesus, it’s not necessary to postulate that Jesus must have had supernatural abilities to explain their behavior.

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Posted: 12 April 2005 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Thanks, MJ, for the information about temporal-lobe epilepsy. My only source of information had been the Pickover book, which is really a great read, by the way. But Pickover’s not a neurolgist, and he may have been out of his element in some of his claims about TLE. By the way, he talks not only about religious revelation, but also about UFO abductions being a result of TLE.

I guess I tend to gravitate toward any explanations that utilize science as it currently is. The problem, of course, is that science is not complete in its breadth and applicability. Maybe someday it will be, but for now it’s only partly there.

Thanks again   -Dave

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Posted: 13 April 2005 12:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Quote:
I would certainly rather see some reasoned and scholarly post on behalf of the religious community but perhaps this is too much to ask for.


Why do you suppose there aren’t any “other” devote Christians on this forum? I can think of a few reasons. On forum such as this, wouldn’t you think there would be more believers trying to defend their faith? Or, are they all somehow convinced that their faith need not be defended as it is the way, the truth, and the life. Perhaps they think they have a hard enough job converting the borderline believers let alone the true non-believers. Guess we’ll never know…


Arguement based on faith rather than reason is a pretty fragile house of cards. For this reason Christians tend to huddle together with their own for protection and isolation and to make themselves seem larger like bait fish avioding predators. They don’t want to be exposed to the wolf who might huff and puff and blow their house down.

Stay Well
Wot

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Posted: 13 April 2005 12:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Arguement based on faith rather than reason is a pretty fragile house of cards. For this reason Christians tend to huddle together with their own for protection and isolation and to make themselves seem larger like bait fish avioding predators. They don’t want to be exposed to the wolf who might huff and puff and blow their house down.

Humm, seems like a good answer too, I think I’ll go with that one as well smile

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