The stages of evolution

Manwë was known for many things, but wisdom and power are two that lead the rest of his attributes. Join the Councils and discuss the more weighty matters of Tolkien Fandom.

Postby Axordil » Thu May 24, 2001 10:18 am

A--<BR><BR>No, you are not bad because you have faith. Faith is a wonderful thing when it serves as a guide, and perhaps less so when it becomes a master.<BR>But you _are_ closed-minded, because you enter the discussion with absolutely no interest in having your position challenged, and with no admission that in fact it _can_ be challenged.<BR>Nor am I good because I prefer to work with solid evidence in matters of the physical world. Goodness knows how that can go bad fast.<BR>But I _am_ open-minded, because I know I _don't_ have the ultimate answers to these questions. Just the best guesses we can come up with.<BR>If someone from the planet of the turnip twaddlers showed up tomorrow with a pile of evidence that Earth had actually been the site of a junior high school science fair experiment for the past few billion years, scientists would look at the evidence, review it, and decide on its merits how any new theory of the interconnectedness of life here should work. I would too.<BR>But would you?<BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR>
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Postby Angbasdil » Thu May 24, 2001 11:02 am

Falkeep,<BR>I said earlier that we seem to think alike. Well..after reading your last few posts, I'm not so sure. Or, at least, we have reached very different conclusions. <BR>I think that you need to separate your attitudes towards religion and the Bible from your feelings about people who have misused religion and the Bible. Especially your father. From what you've told us he seems like an overcontrolling authoritarian @$$hole, and the church was one of his main implements of control. And he's not alone in this - history is full of people who have used religion as a means of control. But the fault is theirs, not religion's. It's pretty basic psychology that our first understanding of God is formed by our understanding of our parents. I'd ask you to consider how your father may have warped your view of God. I'm sorry if you're offended by being psychoanalyzed by an amateur who has never even met you (I probably would be) but these things just seemed like they needed to be said.<BR>As children, our parents have almost complete control over our lives (if they choose to exercise it.) But as adults, religion has only as much control as we give it. You seem like a willful enough individual to find value in church and the Bible without giving away control of your life. I attend church regularly (Lutheran, if it matters.) My wife and I are music leaders most Sundays. But I can honestly say that "religion" has little or no impact on my life. What does impact my life very positively is the worship of God and the fellowship of other Christians. <BR>To everyone else involved in this thread; it's been fascinating reading your thoughts on these matters, but excuse me if I don't get too involved. I'm not sure how productive it is to debate the existence of God, because both views are simply a matter of faith. I know atheists don't like to admit it, but the existence of God can't be disproven - it also can't be proven. And belief without proof, by definition, is fatih. Myself, I believe in God. Why? Because I believe. No, that's not scientific. It's not logical. But that's the way it is. It's purely a matter of faith.<BR>
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Postby helpingfriendlybook » Thu May 24, 2001 11:25 am

Ang, I'm an athiest and, yes, it bugs me that God can't be proven or disproven. But mostly because I want to know if I'm right or not.
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Postby Sauron_the_Maia » Thu May 24, 2001 11:29 am

God is a matter of faith. Evolution really is not anymore. There is a slight difference.<BR><BR>Fatty_Bolger: Greetings! All my "Sauron's Diary" material is on my site at <a target=new href="http://soothfast.topcities.com/index.htm">http://soothfast.topcities.com/index.htm</a> (in the Lord of the Rings section, under "Humor"). New entries shall be coming in time, but I'm taking a wee little break from it in order to concentrate on some more serious writings for a while.
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Postby Falkeep » Thu May 24, 2001 12:29 pm

Angbasdil,<BR><BR>Thank you for you post, and no, I am not offended at all. Part of trying to learn about and understand myself is from seeing how I come across to other people and what impressions I give them. I welcome anything from any source that helps me (1) figure myself out and (2) helps me see flaws in my own resonings, arguments and presentations. I appreciate what you said. I mean that sincerely. Thank you again.<BR><BR>I want to say. however, that my father is not the REASON for my feelings about organized religion... he was, though, what made my mind start questioning things. Actually my break with the Episcopal Church came about when I was 16 in 1976 when the Church changed their prayer book against the desire of the people simply to try to "make the product more attractive to new consumers" and took away all of the beauty of the words and poetry that were the last thing giving me comfort in the service (my parents had been divorced for 5 years at that point and we lived in another town). I was increasingly beinging to feel like a hypocrite being in there because I was so close and so intimate to what happens up there that what I say was the theatrical staging and the words designed to control. From a historical perspective, I had already had serious problems with what the church(s) had done over two millenia to elevate itself and to assume a dominant position in world and in people's lives. Finally, I kept coming back to the Sermon on the Mount. I could not resolve my discomfort and lack of belief and stopped going to services. This conflict was unresolved for over two years until that night in the church in Liverpool, England. Since then I have had no problem separating my feeling about God from my feelings about religion. It was also soon after that that I had my "revelation" about Abraham and Issaac. My personal experiences were just a catalyst but my study of history has provided the fuel. I feel my position on religion is based on reasoned philosophy and a historical perspective, not on something as petty as "Waaahhh, my daddy was mean to me under color of authority." What I got out of my experienceds with my Dad was that I had serious questions that would not go away and that could not be silenced by authoritarian restraint. No matter what the pressure or the cost, I will ask my questions and I will try to find the answers. Does that make sense?<BR><BR>BTW, two books I recommend that anyone read who wants some different views of Jesus' role in the events covered in the Bible (and on Paul and on what happened to Jesus and his family) are "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" and its follow-up "Messianic Legacy". They are quite fascinated and look at much of this material from a historical perspective (they were the results of several documentaries they had done for the BBC and their research in preparing those documentaries). They also followed-up with a third book but I have never gotten hold of a copy.
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Postby Falkeep » Thu May 24, 2001 1:19 pm

Helpingfriendlybook wrote:<BR><BR>"<i>Ang, I'm an athiest and, yes, it bugs me that God can't be proven or disproven. But mostly because I want to know if I'm right or not.</i>"<BR><BR>Please don't take this the wrong way, but you are an agnostic, not an athiest. An atheist has as much unshakable faith in the absence of a God as a true believer had the existenace of a God. The fact that you have concerns about the inability to prove or disprove it and want to KNOW if your beliefs are right shows that you do not have that level of faith... ergo you are not an atheist, you are an agnostic. Got it? Ok, now class, for our NEXT lesson... :-)
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Postby helpingfriendlybook » Thu May 24, 2001 1:27 pm

Nope, I'm definately athiest. I don't believe in God one iota. In my mind I'm 100\% correct but I try to at least allow for the possiblity that I'm wrong. But no one on Earth is going to convince me otherwise.
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Postby Falkeep » Thu May 24, 2001 1:48 pm

HFB, LOL. Ok, I'll let it drop. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR><BR>BTW, about 12 - 15 years ago, i started having a thought that the very concept of a higher being means something. Now, we are told that the belief in a higher being was a natural development for man as he tried to answer questions about his world. I started to see a flaw in this logic. We seem to assume that becasue all people's on Earth developed beliefs in a higher being or some sort, it was a normal sociolgical development which happened naturally. No one seems to be looking at the beginning point of this concept. Maybe if some peoples had NOT developed these beliefs, I would have an easier time buying it but we have no data to show any kind of correlation with natural development and, not having any contact with other beings not from our planet, we cannot say it is a natural development. Well, here is my concern and my question...<BR><BR>My concern is that I do not accept a quantum universal sociological development as a real thing, it seems too pat an answer and serves only to keep people from considering a REAL answer. It leaves too much unquestioned and unanswered. I am sure when animals hear thunder they do not ascribe it to "the great wolf" in the sky. My feeling is that some very specific thing is responsible for this development. This, in my mind, could be an indication of one of two things. (1) There really IS a God and when man stopped being an animal, he automatically looked up and started to ask questions to try to understand that God (if this is the case, I think that the point at which animals became sentient beings is marked by this specific awakening), or (2) something specifically happened (visitors from space?) which <u>caused</u> man to look up into the sky, imagine there is someone up there and try to find answers there from whoever is up there for questions he had about earth and himself. In any case, I believe that some very specific thing or event is responsible for man's general belief in a higher being, I do not accept that it just "happened". That is too easy and too unsatisfying an answer and I think we, as a apecies, are missing something important by not looking at / for the specific moment it occured and the cause of its occurance.<BR><BR>Any thoughts from anyone else on this?
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Postby Falkeep » Thu May 24, 2001 1:50 pm

You know folks, we seemed to have hijacked Runes's thread. Should we start another thread and take this discussion there and let this thread get back to his evolution question?
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Postby Angbasdil » Thu May 24, 2001 1:54 pm

Falkeep,<BR>Cool! I appreciate your open-mindedness and introspection. Too many people take a critical view of others without turning that same critical eye towards themselves. (I believe that was what Jesus was referring to when He said "Judge not lest ye be judged.") It sounds like you've done a fair amount of that, though.<BR>I also understand all too well how our parents can warp our way of thinking. Not that I'm one of those "it's all my parents' fault" kind of people - I also understand that I've screwed up my life more than anyone else ever could!<BR>I do, however, have a problem with the view of Jesus as a wise man, but not THE Messiah. (BTW, "Christ" is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word "Messiah" which means "the annointed one.") C.S. Lewis argues this point much better than I can, but I can't tell you off the top of my head where to find it. I guess I'll just have to try to emulate the master. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> Here's my best attempt:<BR><BR>Either we accept the Bible as an accurate depiction of Jesus or we don't. If not, then we can't really say whether or not Jesus was wise. We might find wisdom in what He is reported to have said, but if we don't accept the accuracy of that report, then we're agreeing with the author(s) of the Bible, not with Jesus Himself. We can't really deduce anything about Jesus without an accurate report.<BR>If we accept the biblical depiction of Jesus as accurate, then we have to accept what He says about Himself. (We could pick and chose what we like out of what He said, but I think you've already addressed that practice in a previous post.) Many times, Jesus proclaimed Himself to be uniquely divine - THE Son of God, THE Messiah (not A messiah), One with the Father, "There is no way to the Father except through Me", etc. The Bible contains numerous examples of Jesus referring to Himself as uniquely divine. <BR>So, we either accept Jesus as uniquely divine (i.e. THE Son of God, or whatever title you want to use), or we don't. If we don't, then why would He say He was? Either He was lying or He was crazy. In either case, I don't think he qualifies as a wise man. Liars and lunatics do not qualify as wise in my book.<BR>I hope I haven't totally screwed up Mr. Lewis' argument here. Also, there were not many Messiahs. There were many prophets, a few of whom foretold the coming of THE Messiah - the annointed one of God who would lead God's people out of bondage. The popular view of what this Messiah would be like was a war leader or general who would lead the Jews (God's chosen people) against their oppressors. But that's not what they got in Jesus. They got a sacrificial lamb who freed all of God's people (not just the Jews) from the bondage of sin (not the earthly political bondage they were expecting.)<BR><BR>Of course, that's just my opinion...I could be wrong.<BR><BR>But I'm not. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0><BR><BR>
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Postby helpingfriendlybook » Thu May 24, 2001 2:12 pm

Fal, I enjoy discussing it I just don't like it when people try to "make me see the light<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-rolleyes.gif"border=0>"<BR><BR>One point I'd like to make, it seems to me that what you said raises at least as many questions as man creating God to understand where fire comes from. After all, abstract thought is what separates us from the animals.
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Postby Falkeep » Thu May 24, 2001 2:23 pm

Angbasdil wrote:<BR><BR>"<i>Not that I'm one of those "it's all my parents' fault" kind of people - I also understand that I've screwed up my life more than anyone else ever could!</i>"<BR><BR>LOL, you are talking to the Master of that here. While I MAy be the best thing that ever happened to me, I am DEFINATELY the worst thing that ever happened to me.<BR><BR>Know what I mean? <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Falkeep » Thu May 24, 2001 2:33 pm

HFB wrote:<BR><BR>"<i>Fal, I enjoy discussing it I just don't like it when people try to "make me see the light <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-rolleyes.gif"border=0>"</i><BR><BR>HFB, in my personal experience, those who try to "make" someone else see the light has trouble seeing it themselves. Their own faith is so fragile that they think it will be boosted by making others agree with what they want to believe... or with what they think they are supposed to believe. (As if having more people on their side alone makes something more true and lets them believe they are in with the majority and, therefore, must be in the right) What they do NOT want is to have themselves questioned or their beliefs challenged (try to make THEM see the light). That is wny I have serious problems with "evangelism". Its purpose is not to help find the truth, it is to suppress truth by encouraging people to accept someone else's pre-packaged answers and beliefs without thinking of their own answers. All questions directed at evangelists and what they are selling are circled back to their "spiel". Again, I love to read them from the Sermon on the Mount (practice not your piety in public) and ask them how they will face Jesus after so blatently disregarding his specific instructions. Matthew 6 has ALWAYS seemed to be the one part of the Bible (and the words of Jesus) that devoted believers do not want brought up or thought about... as a result, I have made it my mission to ask it of ever devoted believer I get into a religious discussion with. I love watching their faces turn red and their mouths making little fishes gulping movements as they try to formulate an answer.<BR><BR>It is wicked of me, I know... but it is so much fun. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Angbasdil » Thu May 24, 2001 2:47 pm

Falkeep,<BR>I DEFINITELY know what you mean!<BR>I'll read Matthew 6 tonight and post something on it tomorrow - I don't recall all of it off the top of my head. I'd like to see if I'm up to the challenge. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>
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Postby Annael » Thu May 24, 2001 5:00 pm

Falkeep,<BR><BR>What part of Matthew 6 are you talking about. I find nothing distressing about it. Do you believe the Lord's prayer is the only prayer we are ever to pray. I don't believe that Jesus is saying that. He is giving an example of how we should pray. This is for people who are new to the faith. Jesus explicitly says not to pray for yourself, selfishness is not a Christian virtue.<BR><BR>Jesus says to not make a spectical of yourself as you pray. I don't. I don't pray in public, so that part could hasn't applied to my life yet. I don't believe it is talking about people who pray out of conviction, but those who pray out of "Spiritual Superiority". Jesus says over and over again that reason in the heart for the good action is what is important.<BR><BR>Am I missing something? I'm sorry if my interpretation of the scripture is not good enough for you, but it is how I read it.
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Postby Falkeep » Thu May 24, 2001 5:10 pm

Matthew 6, 5 - 13:<BR><BR><i>"5 <BR>"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.<BR>6 <BR>But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.<BR>7 <BR>And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.<BR>8 <BR>Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.<BR>9 <BR>"This, then, is how you should pray: "`Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,<BR>10 <BR>your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.<BR>11 <BR>Give us today our daily bread.<BR>12 <BR>Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.<BR>13 <BR>And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.</i><BR><BR><BR>Annael,<BR><BR>It seems pretty clear to me with no room for wiggling. And yes, that is exactly what I believe is the only way, if you go by the words of Jesus, to pray... and you ONLY do so when you are completely alone and in the dark... Not in a church with dozens of other people around to see how devout you are by mouthing all of the proper chruch created ritual and wordy prayers.
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Postby Annael » Thu May 24, 2001 5:31 pm

That's funny, I didn't see Jesus saying 'Only' anywhere. <BR><BR>I believe you get the weird looks and anger from the way you approach people. You are on the attack. All you seem to want to do is show people how they are wrong. Forcing your views and interpretation on others.<BR><BR>Perhaps you should take the Log out of your own eye, or in a non-religious context, physician heal thy self.<BR><BR>You seem to be upset about evangelists doing exactly what you are doing. That is the way I see it.
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Postby Falkeep » Thu May 24, 2001 5:50 pm

LOL <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><BR><BR>Annael, I do not seek out evangelists, but they show up at my door and want to waste my time tomake themselves feel good by inflicting their unwanted religious views on me in my home... and by doing so they are doing their "godly" work in public where others can be shown how godly they are. If someone wants to show up at my home and talk to me about things I have no interest in discussing with them, I feel no qualms about doing everything I can to make them feel uncomfortable, hypocritical and, if possible, stupid. When they stop coming to my home and stop approaching me in the street or other public places, I will stop telling them they are unwelcome hypocrites... what *I* do not do is go searching THEM out. I do not inflict my views on them... they start it, not me.<BR><BR>THEIR religious beliefs obligate them to preach to me, nothing abligates me to care about their beliefs or respect the way they demonstrate them. If I do not offer someone the hospitality of my home then they get what I give them.<BR><BR><BR>BTW, I used that version of Matthew 6 because it was on-line and I could cut and paste it. I seem to recall the version I learned from (King James) said something like "<i>...and when you pray, use these words...</i>" Of course, since God protects the Bible and makes sure that it is ALWAYS correct, then I guess it isn't possible for different versions to say different things according to the whims, opinions, preferences and interpretations of the preparer. If God really DID "protect" his "holy word" then wouldn't EVERYONE come up with the same words and meanings? So, if none of the different versions of the Bible agree with each other, what does that say about the idea that God "edits" the Bible to ensure that all men have his words before them? Just wondering.
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Postby Annael » Thu May 24, 2001 6:27 pm

Good question Falkeep,<BR><BR>Any language changes over time. Implications of sentence structure changes. Therefore over time, there is a need to 'modernize' the scriptures. Not every edition of the Bible is Holy. What I mean by that are the ones with blatant modification, case in point, the Mormon version of the Bible. It is similar, but differs in places, changing the meanings of the scripture.<BR><BR>Now back to my post saying that you should not force your interpretation of the Bible on other people you said:<BR><BR><i>I have made it my mission to ask it of every devoted believer I get into a religious discussion with.</i><BR><BR>You asked it of me earlier, and I had no idea what you were talking about. From what you said, it sounded like you intendid to force your view of Matthew 6 on every Christian you had the chance to, not just evangelists. lol<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Falkeep » Thu May 24, 2001 6:38 pm

Annael,<BR><BR>I do not go looking for religious discussions. The one in here developed and you and I were in it, and you took a position in that discussion that casued me to ask it.<BR><BR>However, you raise a good question I will have to think about. Did I, in this case, jump the gun and escalate the conversation into an adversarial religious discussion myself, against my own beliefs and principals? Was I the initiator instead of a participant? I will be considering this carefully. I am not perfect and one of the greatest sins, in my mind, is that of hypocrisy. I am not without sin and if I have sommitted this sin in this case, whether I realize or accept it or not, then consider that I offer you a sincere apology.<BR><BR>P.S. -- Anyone who has been following this thread is asked to let me know your opinion on this. Am I the "guilty" party here. Sometimes it is hard to see these things from an objective perspective if you are inside the question and you need input from a neutral observer to help you answer the question.
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Postby Annael » Thu May 24, 2001 6:48 pm

I have a question to any of you out there, did I ever say that "Christian version of Creation" is the only valid view?<BR><BR>It seems that several people thought I did, but I don't think so.<BR><BR>Falkeep, I don't believe your question of me needed an apology. I just saw it they way I described it to you. In any case, apology accepted.
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Postby vincent » Thu May 24, 2001 9:08 pm

<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0> This thread reminds me of the good old days on torc, i dont know how many of you remember the first "waxing" thread started by nazgul lord, but boy was that a thread<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><BR><BR>As too fal's question i would say the you didnt jump the gun on the matt 6 question really, but it was slighty off topic, as i remember you were responding to HFB, and didnt ask anyone about it. <BR><BR>As too Annael's question, i dont remember you saying creation was the only way, i believe you've been arguing that no one can truly know it for sure.<BR><BR>My opinion is atill the same, i dont believe that god can be proven, i also believe that you cant prove theres not a god, and yes i know that is agnostic<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0> That does not mean evolution has no proof,or even that the proof it does have is poor proof, it has points that christians cant argue with, though many still do. But its not an absolute positive fact, i dont really buy the spontanece life thing, but i'll wait to see if it can happen. And on a unrelated subject fal i've asked myself the same question about why all human civilations have belived in higher power, and i've come to the same conclusion you have.<BR><BR>Now i got to go my chickens burning on the BBQ<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><BR>
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Postby tuile » Thu May 24, 2001 11:28 pm

Drats. I don't know how to reply to the last page of the posts and have them on the same page as my reply. I can only get to the second page. Hmm. This means I will have to rely upon memory! <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-tongue.gif"border=0><BR><BR>Falkeep, I think you were worried about the shift in topic and if you were pushing it that way??? I don't think this is what happened at all. I think this development is natural because everyone has such different relationships with things spiritual/religious. Good stuff to yak about to my mind!!<BR><BR>I seem to remember the discussion of whether or not Jesus was divine. I don't think he was. But, he was one hell of an amazing human being, just as the Buddha, or Muhammed or many others. I don't agree that he must have been divine or you couldn't gain anything from any writings about him. It seems to me that Jesus was one of many prophets teaching at the time. What his followers seemed to gain from him was how to live to one's utmost potential as a human; how to be in the most complete way possible. Jesus participated fully in life. This can be seen by the priorities and choices he made. His life story is an example of how to live. The same I think for the Buddha. Or any of many others. The Gnostic Gospels are really interesting to read as people tried to figure out how to live fully, by doing things such as following inner directions. Of course, this was rather frowned upon by the Church, <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> but... I don't know, I just don't feel that it is that black or white, you know??<BR><BR>As to the whole evolution vs. creation discussion, I kinda don't know what else I can say, without delving into my physics, and I'm not quite ready to do that yet!, but this quote by Soren Kierkegaard puts how I approach the two view points far better than I could ever hope to express it.<BR> <BR>"If I know that twice two is four, this knowledge is in the highest degree impersonal; once I know it, I know it, and I need not struggle continuously to make it my own; it is a reliable piece of lumber in the mental attic, one which I can put my hand on any time I have need of it.<BR><BR>Truth of religion is not at all like that; it is a truth that must penetrate my own personal existence, or it is nothing; and I must struggle to renew it in myself every day. It is what a person comes to be, not what he says about things. Strictly speaking, religious truth is not a truth that I have, but a truth that I am. Therefore, religion is not a system of intellectual propostions to which the believer assents because he knows it to be true as a system of geometry is true -- religion in the end simply means to <u>be true</u>... to be religious."<BR><BR>Science and religion are two totally different truth models ( one is a mode of inquiry: logical, linear, cummulative, with literal language, and the other is a lived truth, connected to the world, with stories, metaphor, evocative language, without being definitive) and it becomes extremely difficult to discuss their comparison using the same meanings of things like "proof" and "truth" for both systems.
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Postby Pestilence » Fri May 25, 2001 1:53 am

Tulie, you can get the last message to appear under your reply by going to the 'customize' page (next to the buttons for profile and search etc at the top of the page) and selecting to display threads in a descending order. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Hama » Fri May 25, 2001 2:02 am

Angbasdil said: "Either He was lying or He was crazy."<BR><BR>There is a third option here. Jesus could also have been badly translated, or worse, words put in his mouth.<BR><BR>Hama.
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Postby Falkeep » Fri May 25, 2001 5:29 am

Tuile, the Catholic Church did more than disapprove of the Gnostics and their Gospels... they conducted a full blown crusade in southern France to eradicate them, their seed and all evidence of their existence and, most importantly, their teachings and their writings from the earth. In some ways it was even more brutal than the obscenities they commited upon the Muslims the Holy Lands... but ALL of the crusades were abominations and evil under the guise of spreading the word (and the "true" word) of Christ so maybe you can't say any of them were worse than others... would you rather die from ebola or AIDS... neither is a choice you want to be faced with.
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Postby tuile » Fri May 25, 2001 6:42 am

Oh definitly Falkeep!!! Sorry, didn't meant to be so flippant about it earlier; sarcasm doesn't translate here, huh? <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> I was quite amazed at the response to the Gnostics as I learned some stuff about them. And it seemed like the main reason they were so terribly persecuted and their texts mostly destroyed is because they taught outside the early Church's boundaries. You weren't dependent on the Church for your salvation. And for me, the early Christianity of the first couple centuries was so beautiful. I think because it was so incredibly diverse and rich. Once it became dogma ( I mean when they decided what was Christian and what wasn't), it lost most of its power and mystery, for me anyway. It was more of a political tool at that point. <BR>Thank you Pestilence for the tip, I will use it right away!!
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Postby Beleg » Fri May 25, 2001 7:56 am

Couple of thoughts as I cruise by this thread:<BR><BR>It wasn't the definition of doctrine that made religious belief a political tool, but rather the very fact of having religious belief of whatever stripe or variety. Any doctrine held as a belief system by the populace can be exploited by the power-hungry for political advantage, has been so since likely before writing even started documenting human affairs and will continue to do so long as humans congregate. It is a fact that Roman emperors exploited differences between Christian sects in the fourth century (at least), notably Justin. The differences among the Orthodox in re ikons led to severe persecution and struggles for control over the Byzantine throne (including a number of judicial murders).<BR><BR>If you want to know what the New Testament has to say, then learn Koine Greek and read the original texts. There is then no need to be concerned about the personal agendae of translators, if such exists in any case. The difficulty here would be that the Church has always maintained (and as a sensible governing body, it really should so contend) that the Bible is the referent and the teaching of the Church is the authority. The Bible is not exactly written out like some kind of set of bylaws, so untangling what is meant in terms of practical use is a difficult exercise for the untrained. This is not to say that individuals shouldn't explore the text, but rather that if one is just starting out, it is wise to seek out those who have spent as long as possible studying the text. It is certainly good exercise in interpreting rhetoric and understanding logical argument to attempt to disagree with one's teachers, but the teacher didn't get that role by simple longevity, but rather broad recognition of mastery of the subject, just as in any other discipline. I hesitate to characterize in this area, but to start up studying a scholarly discipline by assuming that conclusions drawn by predecessors are all wrong is probably the worst possible opening. It is for trained scholars to take up difficult texts without any prior understandings or theory and attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the texts.<BR><BR>Following up on the Justin point: the agreements reached at the General Councils, particularly Chalcedon, Nicea and Constantinople, are in the nature of treaties among disputants. There was never a time when all Christians accepted precisely the same formulation of the Faith, not even among the Apostles. This is natural, given that human capabilities for understanding vary and so do human capacities for perception (perhaps one or another was nodding this day or that, so missed Jesus doing this or saying that? Wouldn't that Apostle deny that such was said or done, having no personal experience of the event? What if Judas was sent to the market the day Jesus healed Tabitha. What if Peter happened to have to be back home the day Lazarus was raised from the dead.) The Apostles themselves witness variably, in their own personal terms, to what they actually saw and experienced. Thus, even though three of the Gospels are Synoptic (you could lay them side by side and compare them), they do vary, and John's Gospel is clearly altogether to one side in terms of what is witnessed to and what it means. This can be used as a weapon against their veracity, but actually amounts to severally independent witnesses to the same Experience. The only reason we really consider them dependent on each other is that the Church long ago gathered them into one Book. They are actually very separate and though they definitely borrowed from (or, more importantly, corrected) each other, they are still separate books within the same library (which is what the word 'Bible' means, after all: <i>ta Biblia</i> the Books).<BR><BR>To resume my argument: the Councils resolved very central issues in Church doctrine as agreements among dissenters. The results were compromises that proved to be very durable (they still work today, 1,500 years later). Some dissenters never actually conceded the terms of the treaties and eventually left the Church. The vast majority did accept the compromises and found their faith more secure. As that was the reason the delegates agreed to meet, no more importance need be attached to the subject. I would say in passing that this has a lot of importance already, but the agreements are in the nature of humans learning what they can know about the ineffable Creator of the Universe and agreeing to agree about the limits of that knowledge. Fairly humble activity, that.<BR><BR>This seems a fairly huge diversion from the original topic, but the connection seems clear to me: the basis for accepting the theory of evolution is parsed in the observer's mind in precisely the same way as the doctrine of the Christian (or any other) Church is done. The same logical rules are applied. The same limits of knowledge apply: there are elements that are beyond knowing and must simply be accepted. The only question lies in the application of the material. If the doctrines proclaimed enhance life, understanding and ultimate happiness, then that is their working value and they will tend to persist. On the other hand, if those doctrines lead to anomie, nihilism or anarchy, then they will both be self-extinguishing (the society accepting them will collapse upon itself eventually and the records will be mislaid if not simply expire through the work of entropy) and stand as a signal warning. Now, later explorers may well find ancient copies of the texts produced by adherents, and minds back in the core society may well latch onto them, thus recirculating the concepts. The same old mistakes will then be re-made, the same old heresies will be floated, as individuals latch onto some isolated element and, disregarding the integrated matrix of concepts, over-emphasize that element, eventually into absurdity.<BR><BR>The Gnostic Gospels weren't suppressed by the Church to avoid having beautiful text included in the Bible, tuile. They were proscribed because they insisted that God is Dual, which renders Godhood nonsense logically, besides being not what Jesus taught. They were interesting speculations by people who focused too closely on the theodicy of evil and thus elevated it outside its true level of significance. The immediate consequence was to diminish God as well as overstate the nature of Satan. This makes them wrong and not to be taught to believing Christians, at least by the Church.
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Postby Hama » Fri May 25, 2001 8:19 am

Beleg, the earliest known source of Christs sayings is a document referred to as 'Q'. The Gospel of Luke contains many of these sayings, there is a great commonality. Likewise the Gospel of Thomas (which some contend was written even earlier than Luke), which has even greater commonality. But you will not find the Gospel of Thomas in the Bible. What if Christ actually said certain things that have since been suppressed? The Council of Nicea took place almost three centuries after the death of Christ. That is a long enough time for the original teachings to become lost, or to change, or be forgotten, or deliberately buried.<BR><BR>Hama.<BR>
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Postby tuile » Fri May 25, 2001 9:04 am

Hey again Beleg!! I do agree with you on some points and not on others. I do agree with the importance of learning these texts in the language in which they were orignially written. I have had the pleasure of taking classes with a few very well schooled folks and they have made that point quite clear. For example, they referred to "agape" and such. I do agree that any doctrine taken literally, can be exploited. That has certaintly been demonstrated enough times over history!! <BR><BR>I do think that the formation of a doctrine is what allows one to expell or include ideas which then sets up a confrontation; a dichotomy. I can understand why a doctrine is set up, as one wants to reach a definition of what is or is not a follower of a certain doctrine. But as I see it, it is that doctrine, the literal statements of belief, which are weilded and mis-interpreted, and used politically. I just don't see where the statements used in arguments "for this" or "against that" are really reflecting what is meant metaphorically by those statements. What I mean is, when doctrine is set, it becomes more of a literal statement of belief and does not always capture what is meant in the metaphorical language of the text. It is more simplified and reduced, quite necessarily so, but I think at times mis-leadingly so.<BR><BR>I also don't agree with the same rules applying to both science and religious beliefs, but I already blabbed a bunch about that!!! To me, religion is not logical, it is deeper and far more expressive. I don't mean to say that logic needn't apply, it is just not how I approach it. I don't see it as a logical truth. Science is literal, impersonal, etc. etc. ...Agh, I said I would stop and I can't stop!!! <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0> <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0> <BR><BR>I didn't mean to say that the reason the Gnostic Gospels were eliminated were because of their beauty. Not by a long shot. (by the way, does anybody else have a problem saying that?? When I was going to give my presentation to our class with all these Silk Road scholars and all, I was pertrified of saying Gnostic Gobbles!!! <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-tongue.gif"border=0>) But, the GG were very diverse, and from the bit I've read, they all tried to teach a "knowledge" that was secret or personal; discovered within. And I think what really got the Church is the implications of this, that self-knowledge was knowledge of God. There for the self and the Divine could be seen as being the same. This was obtained certainly not through the accepted Church doctrine.<BR><BR>But, feel free to think I am a wacko Beleg!!<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0> (I mean that in all fun!!!) I don't have much of a problem with any duality of God, I guess because of the disparity between the Old and New Testament Gods. I dunno, haven't thought about it too much. It just seems natural...outgrowth of the different influences on Christianity...you see it in other religions... I really have no idea what I am talking about!!!<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> In my readings on the GG, I just don't remember this topic being really important. I must have skipped a chapter!!!
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