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The Slavery Problem
Posted: 18 January 2007 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]Likewise, the moral development of humanity is evolving and requires attention to time, place, and circumstance.

Agreed. Which means the bronze age myth called the Bible should be left behind. Humans have a far better capability of designing a moral code than the Bible has to offer. No one really follows the all commandments of the Bible anyway.

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Posted: 18 January 2007 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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jdeuman, you say “context is king!” - (and here I was under the false impression that for christians, “Jesus is king!”)

hampsteadpete and Noble Savage have already made the point, but I will make it again.  If as you say ‘context’ is so important (“is king”) then you might as well just stock the various versions of The Bible in the mythology section and become an atheist like anyone else with a working cranium.  In making the claim for CONTEXT you are outright admitting that the word of god is relative to the culture of the time in which it was written.  So when god speaks to slave owners, then he encourages their slave-holding activities . . .  when he speaks to men who own their women, then he supports their male dominance and polygamy . . . when he speaks to Hebrews who want to kill Egyptians and Babylonians, then he commands them to kill those people . . . when he speaks to Hebrew armies about the spoils of war, then he tells them to rape the women and take the children as slaves . . .  when he speaks to you, I’m afraid to ask what he tells you!!!!!

If god’s word, god’s very thoughts, are relative to the history of the culture and to the prejudices of its writers and actors, then god does tell the Saudis to fly airplanes into American buildings, then god tells the Serbs to rape every muslim woman in Bosnia, then god does instruct Bush to invade Iraq and kill several hundred thousand muslim people. . .  If god is relative to context (and to the people who formulate that context), then context IS everything and god simply doesn’t exist!

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Posted: 18 January 2007 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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If god’s word, god’s very thoughts, are relative to the history of the culture and to the prejudices of its writers and actors, then god does tell the Saudis to fly airplanes into American buildings, then god tells the Serbs to rape every muslim woman in Bosnia, then god does instruct Bush to invade Iraq and kill several hundred thousand muslim people. . .  If god is relative to context (and to the people who formulate that context), then context IS everything and god simply doesn’t exist!
Bob

Are you intentionally misunderstanding to make your point?  Assuming, for the sake of argument, that God does exist, we still have the fact that every culture is limited in the ways that it can symbolize this and encode it in moral and behavioral rules.  Our understanding is limited and it is only possible for us to think in terms that are familiar to us.  So, all religious doctrine and dogma is relative to culture, but that fact implies nothing about the nature of God, only about our capacity to comprehend God.  A non-religious analogy is the idea of Absolute Infinity in mathematics.  Nothing can be said about this—there is a reflection principle to the effect that anything said about the absolutly infinite is also true of some order of infinity less than the absolute (this comes in the theory of large cardinals).  So anything said describes a lower order of the infinite, or in analogy, any statement about God actually describes the speakers conception of God rather than God.  In propositional terms, this restricts us to the sophistic argument of Gorgias:
Nothing exists
Even if something existed, nobody could know it
Even if something existed and somebody could know it, they could not communicate their knowledge. 
So any real insight into the divine has to come from some way of knowing other than linguistic conceptual knowledge, as any mystic will tell you.

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Posted: 18 January 2007 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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Oh burt, so sorry, it’s just too bad that I’m so stupid.  So all those poor shmucks who attempt to describe god (or god’s nature) in the absurdity of linguistic terms, well they’re just plain stupid (like me).  I always thought “The Word” was all there was in the beginning . . . “and the Word was god.”  OK smartie, so that’s all wrong?  It’s only mystics, like yourself I suppose who get a glimpse of the real thing, the true “wordless” nature of god.

Forgive my unintentional misunderstanding burt, but now you’ve gone even beyond confirming my suspicion about the veracity of the “living word” - that whatever men experience god to be, that divine nature is merely relative to the culture of the time.  But now you insist that the true god is only accessible to the mystic on the mathematical analogy of infinity.  Wooo how beyond the metaphysical, beyond beyond.

So, burt, am I to conclude that it is people like you (aside from being a non-believer, I am only slightly mystical and therefore obviously incapable) who can experience the god essence?  And this kind of personal, idiosynchratic accessibility makes the experience universal (or like infinity?).  But wait doesn’t that make every person relevantly open to the divine experience?  THe words we might use to describe it always fall short, but where it really counts, in the mystical center of being, we can all feel the presence of the same universal god.  So those who believe in slavery are mystically endowed with god power, and those who fly planes into buildings are mystically connected to the almighty god, and well, every Tom, Dick and Sherry are the puppets of god.  Anyone can be the mystic who will tell you what the real insight into the divine is about, but it’s all beyond the realm of linguistic knowledge - aw shucks.

Boy, what an idiot was I.

Bob

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Posted: 19 January 2007 02:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]. . . as any mystic will tell you.

Burt, are you a mystic? Have mystics wordlessly informed you about enough things for you now to be able to call yourself a mystic? If so, please so inform me so I can be a mystic, too.

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Posted: 19 January 2007 02:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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[quote author=“jdeuman”]So I just finished reading Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris.

I am one of the first people to say that Christians have hurt the cause and image of Christ over the centuries.  And while an apology doesn’t cut the horrible atrocities that were caused under “Christian” leadership, it’s all I can really do. 

There was one thing that really bugged me about something Harris had said and I just had to write about it.  Harris was talking about Slavery and how the Bible both the Old and the New Testament encouraged slavery, and how a Christians really have no argument against slavery because their book is cool with it.

Now yes the OT does give prescriptions for Slavery.  And Yes the NT does talk about slavery, but there is something that I think Harris as well as most Atheist have in common, they ignore context.  Sadly many Christians ignore context as well so they misunderstand what the Bible is saying, and they miss-apply the text entirely, and Harris gives one such example on this slavery thing.

In the age of the OT slavery was very common.  Most, if not all cultures had some form of slavery.  Slaves were acquired through military conquest, lack of ability to pay of debts, and things like that.  So for the Law to have a passage that talks about how to treat slaves would be a decent thing to do.  There is also something that Harris ignores all together called the Year of Jubilee, where by all debts are forgiven and all slaves are freed and property is returned to the family ownership.  Show me one culture on earth that had anything like that at the time.

Now I am not saying that I’m down with slavery, but everyone was then.  I agree with Harris that Slavery is horrendous and I am glad that the US has abolished slavery.  But we need to look at the Geo-Political and Social Context of the passage first. 

Context is King!

Harris then goes to show how the New Testament endorses slavery from the words of Paul(Ephesians 6:5 1 Timothy 6:1-4).  Harris uses these passages to justify that Slavery is encouraged in the NT.  Clearly he is looking for ammo and this is the best he could come up with.  No where in the NT does it say, “Go Get Slaves, they’re the best!”  that’s what Harris makes it sound like, but he is grossly taking this out of context. 

Again during the NT era slavery was still very common.  And many slaves were coming to faith in Christ.  Paul was writing to slaves to tell them not ot rebel against their masters, and thus cause discord and give the non-believers reason to hate Jesus.  Instead Paul is encouraging slaves to love their masters.  To serve them and to show their masters that they are serving someone higher still.  Paul was not endorsing slavery, he was not saying that Slaves should be kept! 

If you look to another passage of Paul’s writings, he even encourages a slave to be released.  Read Philemon and judge for yourself if Paul was all about slavery.

I just had to post on this.  I’m a Bible guy and this is some gross miss-use of context by Harris.  I don’t want to insult his intelligence but I’m surprised that he would miss this.


I have listed the scripture of Ephesians and Timothy so that we may together look at it:

Ephesians 6
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

Timothy 6

1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.


Yes, Paul was saying “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh,” but it wasn’t only to lead people to Christ that this was said although that is also true.

  He is addressing Christians who are slaves/servants etc… to those who live according to the flesh, meaning they have not the Spirit of God in them.
  Imagine what would have happened to those slaves if they were to rise up against thier masters.  They would have been killed.  It was the right statement to make. 

Paul again in Timothy in addressing slaves/servants says “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed”

Again talking to those who are already slaves to “serve their masters and count them worthy of all honour that the name of God and his doctrine be not Blashpemed”  As you can see today the minute a Christian does something like talk back or get sassy or curse, or even if they are upset about the situation they are in they may swear. Then people who are not Christian automatically say something like ” and they call them selves a Christian”  The effect is people now mock God. (Blaspheme) 

  These Scriptures do apply to life today. (Timothy already explained above) 

Although we are not slaves in the context that we are forced to work by man, we still have to work in order to survive.  An employee serves and is enslaved to/ by his boss.  Now if the employee rises against his boss he is going to get fired. 

  Yes, in this day and age there are more opportunities to find work but not for everyone and yes, there are laws that give some protection to employees but in light of the right to work movement anyone can be fired at anytime without reason.  We all know this.

Some families cannot afford to go even one day without pay.  There are many people who are lucky to survive pay check to pay check.  So yes, this passage does apply today just as it did in Pauls day. 

  Not everyone who “claims” to be christian is truly following Christ’s example.  Instead they use a scratch and tear version of the Bible to justify thier own selfishness/ desires of the flesh.  This is unfortunately a major reason why so many turn away from God.  Most are running from the hypocrisy of the church. 

Christians are supposed to be a light unto the world, an example of Gods teaching.  Unfortunately, there are those in the church who are wolves in sheep’s clippings.  Priests molesting children, pastors doing drugs on Saturday and then condemning the flock on Sunday morning.  Psychos, using the Bible to justify blowing up abortion clinics.  Crazies, making their youth feel ashamed of themselves for having sexual feelings.  This is insane.

Yes, I agree with Atheists 100% on the above issues.  Nevertheless, the interpretation of the bible that people use to justify these things is the wrong interpretation.  Look at the constitutions 1st amendment, freedom of speech.  Do you think our founding fathers meant for this passage to be used to protect the NAMBLA association?  Do you think the founding fathers endorsed the KKK?  As Paul would say, “I think not”

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Posted: 19 January 2007 03:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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[quote author=“CanZen”]Oh burt, so sorry, it’s just too bad that I’m so stupid.  So all those poor shmucks who attempt to describe god (or god’s nature) in the absurdity of linguistic terms, well they’re just plain stupid (like me).  I always thought “The Word” was all there was in the beginning . . . “and the Word was god.”  OK smartie, so that’s all wrong?  It’s only mystics, like yourself I suppose who get a glimpse of the real thing, the true “wordless” nature of god.

Forgive my unintentional misunderstanding burt, but now you’ve gone even beyond confirming my suspicion about the veracity of the “living word” - that whatever men experience god to be, that divine nature is merely relative to the culture of the time.  But now you insist that the true god is only accessible to the mystic on the mathematical analogy of infinity.  Wooo how beyond the metaphysical, beyond beyond.

So, burt, am I to conclude that it is people like you (aside from being a non-believer, I am only slightly mystical and therefore obviously incapable) who can experience the god essence?  And this kind of personal, idiosynchratic accessibility makes the experience universal (or like infinity?).  But wait doesn’t that make every person relevantly open to the divine experience?  THe words we might use to describe it always fall short, but where it really counts, in the mystical center of being, we can all feel the presence of the same universal god.  So those who believe in slavery are mystically endowed with god power, and those who fly planes into buildings are mystically connected to the almighty god, and well, every Tom, Dick and Sherry are the puppets of god.  Anyone can be the mystic who will tell you what the real insight into the divine is about, but it’s all beyond the realm of linguistic knowledge - aw shucks.

Boy, what an idiot was I.

Bob

First off, ask yourself why you respond to a rationally presented statement with sarcasm.  In other words, ask what it is in your own psychological make-up that leads to that sort of defensive reaction. 

Now consider what I wrote as simply descriptive rather than argumentative.  You are reacting against Christian scripture, not the general idea of a God.  The “Word” in the bible comes from the Hellenistic philosophical schools, mainly the Stoics.  For them, the “Word” was the Universal Logos which existed in the eight celestial sphere (empyrean).  It was the _rational_ principle that governed the world.  One symbol of the Logos was two intersecting spheres, one above the other.  The upper sphere stood for the heavens (recall, they had a geocentric cosmology and the heavens were the realm of the logos) and the other for the earth.  The intersection of the two represented the action of the logos in governing the material world.  The early Christians identified Christ with the Logos and took the intersection part of the two spheres as as symbol (the “fish”), which still shows up on the back of cars today. 

Now, the point is that if God is not describable linguistically or conceptually but that is all we have for communication and rational thought, then any actual contact has to be through some other means (gnosis, although the term gnostic is generally misapplied—gnosis just means knowledge by direct intuition).  Everybody has the potential for intuition, and not only in the spiritual realm.  It shows up in any creative insight, which then has to be brought into the world via rationality and technique.  The problem when it comes to “God” is that intuition is easily distorted so, for example, somebody who has the inspiration to fly an airplane into a building because “God” wants it is following a false inspiration created for them by their own internal beliefs and ego passions.  Actually, they probably were not even close to any sort of real inspiration but just caught up in the chains of fanatical belief. 

All that aside, the problem is not the idea of a God, but rather the way that people get caught in rigid belief systems rather than developing their rational _and_ intuitive capacities.  The way that you react to the very idea of a God indicates to me that you are still defending a belief rather than simply accepting that you don’t know, but prefer to believe while acknowledging that others might prefer to have other beliefs.

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Posted: 19 January 2007 03:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”][quote author=“burt”]. . . as any mystic will tell you.

Burt, are you a mystic? Have mystics wordlessly informed you about enough things for you now to be able to call yourself a mystic? If so, please so inform me so I can be a mystic, too.

My own path of spiritual development is a path of knowledge rather than belief.

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Posted: 19 January 2007 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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One could say, well the word of God is timeless and universal, so why didn’t God transmit quantum theory to Euclid or Archimedes? Well, they would not have understood it at all.

:evil:  I guess that is why why the church constantly “condemned” people with new discoveries and scientific progress like in the case of Galilei and other astronomers.

I don’t think it would be hard to comprehend even for people 2000 years ago that the earth is not flat and not the center of the universe and that the sun does not revolve around the earth.  rolleyes

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Posted: 19 January 2007 05:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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[quote author=“Iron_Tool”]

One could say, well the word of God is timeless and universal, so why didn’t God transmit quantum theory to Euclid or Archimedes? Well, they would not have understood it at all.

:evil:  I guess that is why why the church constantly “condemned” people with new discoveries and scientific progress like in the case of Galilei and other astronomers.

I don’t think it would be hard to comprehend even for people 2000 years ago that the earth is not flat and not the center of the universe and that the sun does not revolve around the earth.  rolleyes

You have got to be kidding.  Actually, a philsospher (Aristatchus if I recall) about 200 BC did propose a heliocentric cosmos (the Greeks already knew that the Earth was a sphere) and this was universally rejected.  In Alexandria a guy named Hero invented a simple steam engine but it never led to any useful technology, other than providing ways to get the limbs of idols in temples to move.  You underestimate the power of ignorance.

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Posted: 19 January 2007 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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Now yes the OT does give prescriptions for Slavery.  And Yes the NT does talk about slavery, but there is something that I think Harris as well as most Atheist have in common, they ignore context.  Sadly many Christians ignore context as well so they misunderstand what the Bible is saying, and they miss-apply the text entirely, and Harris gives one such example on this slavery thing.

In the age of the OT slavery was very common.  Most, if not all cultures had some form of slavery.  Slaves were acquired through military conquest, lack of ability to pay of debts, and things like that.  So for the Law to have a passage that talks about how to treat slaves would be a decent thing to do.  There is also something that Harris ignores all together called the Year of Jubilee, where by all debts are forgiven and all slaves are freed and property is returned to the family ownership.  Show me one culture on earth that had anything like that at the time.

The OT doesn’t just talk about slavery. It says this:
“When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. But if the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished; for the slave is his money.”

Remember, these are the words of God.  So God is here not only condoning slavery, he is condoning the beating of slaves (and even the killing of slaves, provided they don’t die immediately from their wounds).

Why would God condone this?  Why would God allow the Bible to quote Him as saying this?

I have asked these questions before here.  Some say that the answer to the first is that God did not actually say it.  Fine.  But He still allowed Himself to be quoted as saying it. 

God is ALL-POWERFUL.  That means he can do anything.  Given the vile nature of slavery, he should never have allowed himself to be quoted as condoning slavery.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 19 January 2007 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Your reply, burt, made me look again at the biting sarcasm of my post . . .why did I take that approach?  Well, you began your post with, “Are you intentionally misunderstanding to make your point?” in a sense you are accusing me of being deliberately misleading.  And you end with, “So any real insight into the divine has to come from some way of knowing other than linguistic conceptual knowledge, as any mystic will tell you.”  in making that statement I took your words as attempting to expose my intellectual shortcomings (that I had not taken the mystic view into account).  So I responded in a defensive manner following from what appeared to me as some offensive comments directed at me in your post of Jan 18, 1004pm.

In making more clear your perspective in subsequent posts I do now see that I mistook you for a theist who was arguing in the same context as jdeuman and aaeoni. My response to your posting followed from some of the positions of these two other posters on this thread as well as your own.  That being said, I feel that the points I made (ignoring the sarcasm) are still valid and your response to them shows that you did not fully understand what I was arguing or that you chose to ignore those points (that context of 3,000 years ago is no different - effectively - from context of today . . .  considering the horrors that both were and are being done in the name of god).  However, your bringing in this deistic (mystical) idea of god to challenge scriptural text and the beliefs of those theists who fly planes into buildings is to contextualize those words/events against a much more expansive and all-inclusive context.  What you are saying is that THEY (theists) believe in a pseudo-god while YOU (the deists) believe in the real thing.  How convenient, I say.

ON a more personal note, I do not believe in any supernatural beings whether they take the form of a christian god or a mystical deity, my use of sarcasm was not meant to defend some sort of (just as weird) belief as you suggest, rather it was an attempt to defend myself personally from your slightly veiled attack upon my motives and my intelligence.

Finally, on a concilliatory note burt, if I simply substituted the word “Tao” for the word “God” in your postings, I would basically agree with you throughout.  “The tao that can be named is not the real tao.”  However, not really knowing the parameters of this entity whom you refer to as god, I am groping in the darkness.  Tao is not an intelligent being, it is not a force, it is not conceivable in any ordinary way, but it can be understood from a perspective that attempts to clear away all the conceptions that it is NOT.  Tao does not interfere and it does not direct, but it is always there in every aspect of becoming (happening) and in order to fleetingly feel the presence of the tao one must escape from the prison of words and learn to play in the spontaneity of the dynamic now.  If this in any way describes the thing you refer to as ‘god’ then you should make a point of distancing yourself from those who believe that god is something else or run the risk of being misinterpreted by the limitations of that context.

Bob

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Posted: 20 January 2007 03:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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[quote author=“CanZen”]Your reply, burt, made me look again at the biting sarcasm of my post . . .why did I take that approach?  Well, you began your post with, “Are you intentionally misunderstanding to make your point?” in a sense you are accusing me of being deliberately misleading.  And you end with, “So any real insight into the divine has to come from some way of knowing other than linguistic conceptual knowledge, as any mystic will tell you.”  in making that statement I took your words as attempting to expose my intellectual shortcomings (that I had not taken the mystic view into account).  So I responded in a defensive manner following from what appeared to me as some offensive comments directed at me in your post of Jan 18, 10:04pm.

In making more clear your perspective in subsequent posts I do now see that I mistook you for a theist who was arguing in the same context as jdeuman and aaeoni. My response to your posting followed from some of the positions of these two other posters on this thread as well as your own.  That being said, I feel that the points I made (ignoring the sarcasm) are still valid and your response to them shows that you did not fully understand what I was arguing or that you chose to ignore those points (that context of 3,000 years ago is no different - effectively - from context of today . . .  considering the horrors that both were and are being done in the name of god).  However, your bringing in this deistic (mystical) idea of god to challenge scriptural text and the beliefs of those theists who fly planes into buildings is to contextualize those words/events against a much more expansive and all-inclusive context.  What you are saying is that THEY (theists) believe in a pseudo-god while YOU (the deists) believe in the real thing.  How convenient, I say.

ON a more personal note, I do not believe in any supernatural beings whether they take the form of a christian god or a mystical deity, my use of sarcasm was not meant to defend some sort of (just as weird) belief as you suggest, rather it was an attempt to defend myself personally from your slightly veiled attack upon my motives and my intelligence.

Finally, on a concilliatory note burt, if I simply substituted the word “Tao” for the word “God” in your postings, I would basically agree with you throughout.  “The tao that can be named is not the real tao.”  However, not really knowing the parameters of this entity whom you refer to as god, I am groping in the darkness.  Tao is not an intelligent being, it is not a force, it is not conceivable in any ordinary way, but it can be understood from a perspective that attempts to clear away all the conceptions that it is NOT.  Tao does not interfere and it does not direct, but it is always there in every aspect of becoming (happening) and in order to fleetingly feel the presence of the tao one must escape from the prison of words and learn to play in the spontaneity of the dynamic now.  If this in any way describes the thing you refer to as ‘god’ then you should make a point of distancing yourself from those who believe that god is something else or run the risk of being misinterpreted by the limitations of that context.

Bob

Thanks for the clarification Bob, let me clear up a couple of points though.  I would not necessarily consider myself a deist.  Your use of the term Tao is fine with me, I used the word God because of its provocative value on this forum, trying to bring out the difference between something Tao, the Absolute, or whatever, that is absolutely beyond linguistic/conceptual comprehension (other than via negativa, as you mention).  Even with mystics, there are problems because when they report on their experiences the reports have to be made in culturally conditioned symbols and language so they already lose the reality of the experience.  One has to read between the lines, as it were, to get any flavor of it.  That said, it seems to me that the only legitimate communication about this has to be injunctive: do this and you will have the experience yourself. 

What I argue against is any sort of fixation in a belief system that denys other possibilities.  There, we are likely on the same page (at least here we certainly are on the same page LOL )

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Posted: 20 January 2007 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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Here is a link to an old discussion of this very topic.  Waltercat makes some fine points (and maybe frankr says some useful things as well).

http://www.samharris.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2355&highlight;=

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 21 January 2007 02:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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[quote author=“jdeuman”]So I just finished reading Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris.

I am one of the first people to say that Christians have hurt the cause and image of Christ over the centuries.  And while an apology doesn’t cut the horrible atrocities that were caused under “Christian” leadership, it’s all I can really do. 

There was one thing that really bugged me about something Harris had said and I just had to write about it.  Harris was talking about Slavery and how the Bible both the Old and the New Testament encouraged slavery, and how a Christians really have no argument against slavery because their book is cool with it.

Now yes the OT does give prescriptions for Slavery.  And Yes the NT does talk about slavery, but there is something that I think Harris as well as most Atheist have in common, they ignore context.  Sadly many Christians ignore context as well so they misunderstand what the Bible is saying, and they miss-apply the text entirely, and Harris gives one such example on this slavery thing.

In the age of the OT slavery was very common.  Most, if not all cultures had some form of slavery.  Slaves were acquired through military conquest, lack of ability to pay of debts, and things like that.  So for the Law to have a passage that talks about how to treat slaves would be a decent thing to do.  There is also something that Harris ignores all together called the Year of Jubilee, where by all debts are forgiven and all slaves are freed and property is returned to the family ownership.  Show me one culture on earth that had anything like that at the time.

Now I am not saying that I’m down with slavery, but everyone was then.  I agree with Harris that Slavery is horrendous and I am glad that the US has abolished slavery.  But we need to look at the Geo-Political and Social Context of the passage first. 

Context is King!

Harris then goes to show how the New Testament endorses slavery from the words of Paul(Ephesians 6:5 1 Timothy 6:1-4).  Harris uses these passages to justify that Slavery is encouraged in the NT.  Clearly he is looking for ammo and this is the best he could come up with.  No where in the NT does it say, “Go Get Slaves, they’re the best!”  that’s what Harris makes it sound like, but he is grossly taking this out of context. 

Again during the NT era slavery was still very common.  And many slaves were coming to faith in Christ.  Paul was writing to slaves to tell them not ot rebel against their masters, and thus cause discord and give the non-believers reason to hate Jesus.  Instead Paul is encouraging slaves to love their masters.  To serve them and to show their masters that they are serving someone higher still.  Paul was not endorsing slavery, he was not saying that Slaves should be kept! 

If you look to another passage of Paul’s writings, he even encourages a slave to be released.  Read Philemon and judge for yourself if Paul was all about slavery.

I just had to post on this.  I’m a Bible guy and this is some gross miss-use of context by Harris.  I don’t want to insult his intelligence but I’m surprised that he would miss this.

By accepting slavery as a reality of the times, by never condeming it, by attempting to regulate it, the OT and NT at the very least implicitly accepts it as a necessary evil.

A presumed deity as powerful as the Bible describes should not have been so politically correct during its dialogue with humanity. What we read from the Bible on the issue of slavery is exactly what we would expect from people who were products of the prevailing culture of that time and place.

It would seem ironic that slavery wasn’t questioned more than it was considering how Christianity quickly became the religion of the slave and of the marginalized. Then again, most of the NT references to slavery were written by Paul, someone who, having come from wealth and status, would have found it difficult to relate to their experiences.

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