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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 6:59 pm 
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Ok, to simplify things down a bit.

Jesus must have been one of three things:
1) Crazy
2) Lying
3) God

If Jesus was telling a lie, why would he have died for it? None will willingly die for a cause they don't believe in.

This leaves us with "crazy" and "God". Crazy might make sense on the surface, but when you look closer, you can see that it is not an option. Why? Because Jesus made sense! Sure, you might not understand everything he said, but you will be committing a rather large logical fallacy if you say that whatever you don't understand is wrong.

If you are upset by this post, good. It means my point has been made. Truth offends.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 7:16 pm 
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JamesGecko wrote:
This leaves us with "crazy" and "God". Crazy might make sense on the surface, but when you look closer, you can see that it is not an option. Why? Because Jesus made sense! Sure, you might not understand everything he said, but you will be committing a rather large logical fallacy if you say that whatever you don't understand is wrong.


I don't understand your argument at all. You seem to be saying that "Jesus made sense, though you might not be able to understand it, and since you can't understand it you can't call it wrong, and anyway he made sense." Anyway, I don't have any opinions about Jesus, but generally speaking, just because you're able to make sense doesn't make you sane.

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 Post subject: Trichotomization
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:50 pm 
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InterruptorJones wrote:
I don't understand your argument at all. You seem to be saying that "Jesus made sense, though you might not be able to understand it, and since you can't understand it you can't call it wrong, and anyway he made sense."

Forgive his brevity-induced obfuscation. He's summarizing an argument later called the "Trilemma" put forth by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity (1943 radio broadcasts, later a book). For more information see
http://www.troubledwith.com/stellent/groups/public/@fotf_troubledwith/documents/articles/twi_030440.cfm or http://www.aslan.demon.co.uk/trilemma.htm. The argument about Jesus being insane or not is the question this thread seeks to address. Although specifically with epilepsy, I think that's reaching. Jesus did not, in general, see visions as we normally associate with temporal lobe epilepsy (a dead horse we've beaten).

InterruptorJones wrote:
Anyway, I don't have any opinions about Jesus, but generally speaking, just because you're able to make sense doesn't make you sane.

That depends on what you call sanity. I have an acquaintence who's a pathological liar and manipulator. She'd be called slightly insane by modern psychological standards, but she'd fall into the "liar" category in the above trilemma. Insanity in the context of the trilemma is limited to people who think they're something else... for example, Napolean. Anyone who makes sense and is wrong falls into the liar clause.

Though, medically speaking, you have a valid point for psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors. They need to avoid being manipulated by people and need to be able to address the psychological problems causing pathological lying, despite the patients' ability to speak sensibly.

Finally, I commend you for not having an opinion. I find that I have opinions on things I don't know about too often. I am trying to cut down on the number of opinions I have. Though, I do have an educated opinion on Jesus :mrgreen: . I like him; he's good.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 7:49 pm 
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Hokay, with great trepidation I'm dipping my toe in this thread. Before doing so, I did something I think anyone should do when joining a conversation: I read the ENTIRE thread. Yeah--whoo.

I want to first go off-topic--because I feel it's necessary at this point--and then go on-topic, right back to the first post.

At various points in the history of this thread, tempers ran a little high, and both sides resorted to name-calling and "Is not," "Is too" debate. I find that almost surprising. The discussion is about a religious figure; for an atheist it shouldn't hit close to home because Jesus has no direct connection or impact on him or her. An atheist may find religion puzzling or amusing, but should not (logically) find it offensive; it's not like it's a personal attack against him or her. It's a little more understandable for Christians to get upset, since they see Jesus not just as a historical figure but as someone they have a relationship with, and can feel like someone is attacking their best friend. However, they lose their excuse because of Jesus' teaching to "turn the other cheek." (And no, "Answer a fool according to his folly" does not mean returning mud-slinging for mud-slinging.) Buz's exhaustive (and probably exhausting!) post of Sep. 15 sets a better example of diplomatic dialogue.

So first of all I want to address fossilise_apostle (if he or she is still following the discussion). And please, try to hear me with your guard down. I guarantee that what follows will contain no personal attacks, and is offered in friendship. As a Christian, it's tempting for me to argue the "little pieces" of the puzzle with a skeptic--metaphysics, existentialism, creation/evolution, historicity of biblical manuscripts, etc. There is a valid place for doing that, and if it's done civilly it can often be kinda fun (up to a point). But I almost feel like it's not the central issue for you.

What I mean is--let's use a favorite example of a world music professor I had; let's pretend I'm a Martian anthropologist just landed for a study of Earth culture. I know nothing of human religion or society. (Let's not even touch the question of, if there were extra-terrestrial life, whether it would know God! I'm just creating a hypothetical blank slate.) I would, by default, be an atheist, since I haven't even heard of God, much less experienced evidence of him first hand. If confronted by religious doctrine, though, I wouldn't respond in anger; initially I would simply study the phenomenon; if, eventually, these people's persistence in theism evoked a response from me it would probably be either bewilderment or amusement. There would be no reason for frustration unless I had developed a personal attachment to the humans and had some vested interest in what they believed.

However, your posts definitely betray anger (again, that's not an accusation, but an observation). Forgive me for sounding a little like a psychologist, but your responses seem to fit the pattern of someone who's been hurt by something. You definitely came under fire under the course of this thread, and were the brunt of some dirty fighting. But often it seemed like the anger in your next post was greater what could be explained by the preceding post. When someone presses a bruise the pain you experience and your response are both disproportionate to the pressure--it may be only a light poke, but you yell. It seemed to me that even when you started the thread there was a pre-existent frustration you were feeling towards Christians, or perhaps even God or the person of Jesus as described by Christianity (if it makes any sense to be angry at someone you don't believe exists).

I don't like to speculate about things I know nothing about, and your personal life is one of them, but I urge you to take a moment to go "off-topic" yourself, a time-out from all the arguments about the details, and try to come to terms with this anger or pain. Try to figure out the source of it and resolve it. I say this not to try to convert you, but simply for your own good as a skeptic. If you ever hope to interact productively and even persuasively with Christians, it will have to be without pain or anger. And if you are really secure in your beliefs, they shouldn't be necessary. The mere fact that others are secure in theirs shouldn't be a threat to you. I would add a sidenote to this that I hold the entire history of psychology in very low esteem, and that I believe that emotional healing can't ultimately take place without God's help. But conveniently for you, I also believe that God does a lot of nice things even to people who don't believe in him. If you take the time to address this, I don't doubt something good will come of it.
Again, I don't want to sound patronizing; I offer this only as a tentative observation (that there's some pain or anger involved in this issue for you). I may be wrong; but I challenge you to seriously look into it. If I'm wrong, no harm done; if I'm right, resolving it will be vastly in your interest.

Now, to go back on topic. There's very little of value left to be said in this thread; when I first started reading there were several things I intended to say, but people said them quite well (and sometimes two or three times!) over the course of the discussion. There's only one two-cent piece I have to contribute.

The original post touched on the relationship between anatomy/physiology and religious experience and conviction. Back in 2001 or so there was an article in Newsweek about how scientists had identified the region of the brain connected with "religious experiences," from visions all the way down to a "warm fuzzy feeling" during corporate worship. Now how do I respond to that as a Christian? It depends on how I view the intersection of the supernatural and the natural. If I saw them as mutually exclusive, it would be a big problem. "Oh no! My religious conviction--and indeed the perception that my belief system is founded on and lent credibility by personal experience--is all the result of the stimulation of a certain area of the brain?!" Fortunately for my faith, I don't see them as mutually exclusive. It's one of those almost unassailable arguments that seems a little cheap at first glance: If the whole point of the supernatural is that it exists outside of the natural, then of course we can't measure or perceive it by natural standards. So how can anyone know there isn't a supernatural?
But actually it seems the only reasonable conclusion to me. Consider--we know some stuff, and we experience some stuff. What are the odds that there is nothing outside what we know and experience? The simple fact that no one can prove their existence simply, in my mind, lends them credence. I mean, protozoa don't know about ants, ants don't know about us; the fault is not in their scientific methods, for the ants examine all the data that is available to them. The fault is in the capacity of their perception. The ant simply can't see enough at one time to see us. What are the odds that the "perception chain" ends with us? It's a question that can't be proven or disproven, but I like the attitude that seems less arrogant to me.

Which means--getting back to anatomy and religion--that I'm quite comfortable with measurable scientific data coexisting with supernatural involvement. Wayne Grudem says it best (I'm paraphrasing, since I don't want to dig the book out): Many people look at an event they can't explain--a "miracle"--and say "God was at work here!" However, if we attribute only the unexplainable part of an event--say, 10% of the total cause--to God, that limits him to only being a convenient cover-all for whatever science hasn't found the answers to yet. And I propose that science will only continue to find areas like these where there's a natural explanation for what was previously unexplained. That doesn't bother me because I believe God is active in the other 90% as well. Suppose for the moment--purely hypothetically for fossilise_apostle and others, although I take it seriously--that the story in the Bible about Jesus walking on the water and Peter doing the same is true, and we're there in the boat watching it happen. We would attribute the walking on water to the direct involvement of God. However, I would also attribute the strength and direction of the storm, the buoyancy of the boat, the molecular cohesion of the water, and so on, to his equally direct involvement.

So what does this have to do with epilepsy and religious conviction? It means that for me the question of whether there can physiological causes for supernatural phenomena is neither invalid nor threatening. Now the question of whether Jesus was mislead in believing himself to be the Son of God with a mission to die in payment for human sin is a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish; that is integral to my faith. But I would have no problem saying that God can use regions of the brain, physiological abnormalities, or even knocks on the head for that matter, for his purpose.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2004 11:50 pm 
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Notstrongorbad:

If I follow your reasoning right, you are saying basically that God is at work even in those things which are explainable by scientific means. That's actually very good theology, but one of the difficulties of relating to fossilize-dude's philosophy. In his worldview, if something can be scientifically explained, then God cannot possibly be involved. It's trying to force an Either/Or where there should be a Both/And. God doesn't hide in the cracks of the universe; He's at work in the whole kit and kaboodle, whether we can explain the process or not.

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 Post subject: Providence
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 2:01 am 
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Trying to be shorter! Heck, you're taller than me!

notstrongorbad wrote:
...I read the ENTIRE thread.

Wow. Most of the bulk is probably my fault, and I wouldn't have even read it all :)

notstrongorbad wrote:
At various points in the history of this thread, ..., and both sides resorted to name-calling ...

Some of that was just people poking their heads in to add their two bits, not dedicated proponents. But your observation about the motivation rings true to my own way of arguing when I was that age: I'd state my point, and if someone disagreed I'd say it louder. After losing a few friends, making some friends, and being proved wrong by them enough to realize my own fallibility, I've grown to see the value of a word well seasoned. But to even the most belligerent ones, I have a special connection -- that of identifying with them.

notstrongorbad wrote:
However, [Christians] lose their excuse because of Jesus' teaching ....

It's one of the hardest teachings he's given us.

notstrongorbad wrote:
...I'm a Martian anthropologist...

Caught you! :D

notstrongorbad wrote:
I don't see them [biology and theology] as mutually exclusive.

The more I study biology and medicine, the more I believe in an intellegent designer. Physics and astronomy, psychology and anthopology, math and philosophy too!

notstrongorbad wrote:
I mean, protozoa don't know about ants, ... the fault is not in their scientific methods, ... The fault is in the capacity of their perception.

I think it's brilliant that we can know anything at all. I forget if it was this thread or another in which I mentioned Lewis' book Miracles in which he traced the ability to know down to its roots and declared it supernatural. If you know anything, and you know it's true, you're admitting something beyond nature; because nature itself (cause and effect at the molecular level) can not cause your brain to (molecularly) know anything that is true and the knowledge that it is true. That doesn't immediately prove God or Christ, it merely says that if you know there's nothing supernatural, and you know that this knowledge is true, you're claiming supernatural power to know that fact!

notstrongorbad wrote:
...the buoyancy of the boat, the molecular cohesion of the water, and so on, to [God's] equally direct involvement.

A concept of "divine providence," also addressed thoroughly in Miracles, and assumed in good theology!

notstrongorbad wrote:
a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish

My keyboard doesn't have that character! Just ` and ' on this one.

notstrongorbad wrote:
...God can use regions of the brain, physiological abnormalities, or even knocks on the head for that matter, for his purpose.

Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

One last reaction (remember, I'm trying to have a short post!): Even the most rediculous miracles obey the rules of the universe! The fish Christ multiplied for the 5000 were affected normally by gravity, chemically reacted normally in attenders' intestines, and reflected light as normal. If miracles did not interact perfectly with the rules of the universe, people couldn't have even touched the fish (pauli exclusion principle applied), seen the fish (physics of light), digested the fish (organic chemistry), or so forth. Basically, the universe appears ready at any time to accept a miracle completely into its system without blinking out! Miracles themselves do not contradict science. To see an "exclusive either-or" rather than a "both and" is not Christianity nor science! (idea plagiarized from the aforementioned C.S. Lewis tome).

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 Post subject: Justification of Scientific Study
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 2:07 am 
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Didymus wrote:
He's at work in the whole kit and kaboodle, whether we can explain the process or not.

My good friend and mentor Bruce once said that "All truth is God's truth." Exploring the process is, in a limited way, exploring the ways of God! So good Christians should wholeheartedly study science if that's their personal talent. Solomon was a biologist. Mendel was an Augustinian Monk.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 10:19 pm 
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I know when Jesus was a child he asked the biggest religious leaders and priests tough questions. How could he have brain damage? Through his life, he did certain things that helped each kind of person believe.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:42 am 
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Okay, so I have'n't read this whole thread yet, but I will eventually, and here's what I have to say . . .

Perhaps the embellishment of the stories in the Bible (if any exists) was put in place to get people's attention. The Bible didn't come from any God, it came from humans . . . probably the most famous argument saying that Constantine was the one who organized Christianity. This idea is well founded, but there's more faults with it than I have time to write about; however, if th Constantine story is true and people under his direction organized the Bible, they had good reason to.

Constantine's whole thing was for unity, and in order for that to happen, he wanted a "united" religion that everyone agreed upon. Constantine paid for 50 copies of what is considered the New Testament for use in Constantinople. Eusebius of Caesarea headed this production, as he tells about in the book "Life of Constantine".

Think about it - if you want someone to truly believe something, and you're already in a position of much higher power and opinion, embellishment would come naturally when organizing the story in order to capture the attention of the people; and, once their attention is captured, the embellishment is likely to stay with them. Believers of the story are then likely to tell their friends about this amazement ("Can you believe that blah blah blah, this story sounds official!"), thus spreading the faith.

Like I said, there are so many flaws with the Constantine story, just like any other story, it's hard to judge fact from fiction.

Napoleon Bonaparte said - "What is history but a fable agreed upon?"
With the suppossed unity Constantine wanted would come agreement among lots of people, agreement on a faith. Now you see, all of us in this thread are arguing about the validity of that faith. It's kind of ironic that after all these years, we're right back in the same situation that the creation of our faith tried to correct.


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 Post subject: Main flaw
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:52 am 
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thesgman wrote:
. . . probably the most famous argument saying that Constantine was the one who organized Christianity. This idea is well founded, but there's more faults with it than I have time to write about;

One flaw being that we have a copies of the New Testament from before Constantine, and most of the Old as well. I think two NT verses are missing from the pre-constantinian canon, one of them being something like "Greet Aquila in my name." The same can not be said about the Koran, the organizer of the Koran (a king about 100 years after Muhammed) destroyed all of the originals that Muhammed wrote.

thesgman wrote:
Napoleon Bonaparte said - "What is history but a fable agreed upon?"

Having read Lewis, I think that the above statement is an insult... to fables!

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:55 am 
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Fables are neato. History is neato.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:33 am 
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I have to agree with Buz on this one. The problem with the Constantine argument is that there are manuscripts of the canonical New Testament predating Constantine's time. Furthermore, the Church Fathers seem to refer to an established canon prior to Constantine (at the very least, they quote extensively from New Testament texts, again testifying to the old canon). While what is considered the canon today was not well established until around 400 AD, the fact is that there were plenty of writings testifying that the canonical writings had already been collected together as early as 200 AD. Revelation and Hebrews are the only two books of the New Testament that remained questionable between 200 and 400.

Furthermore, Constantine himself was not much of a theologian. He called the Council of Nicea to decide the Arian debates, and seems initially to have sided with Athanasius. However, apparently he later supported Arius' view. Now, if Constantine were a decent theologian at all, he would not have supported Arius; at the very least, he would have maintained some consistency over which theologian he favored. I do not believe, therefore, that Constantine had the theoretical or systematic mindset to establish a canon of his own.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 12:40 am 
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I personally don't think you can trust the bible as far as you can throw it. I mean, of course, that it's not very good to take the bible literally as it's written. The bible is a metaphor for God and his power. In my opinion, Jesus didn't really walk on water or turn water into wine, etc.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 5:45 pm 
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I went to a catholic school and my tenth grade religion teacher told us that Jesus is the real deal or there are 3 billion gullible fools in the world. we do not know all the facts about jesus' life we know he was born he lived for 33 years and was crucified (the Romans were in charge back then and they kept records on everything). I doubt if jesus had epilepsy.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 4:50 pm 
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StrongZysk wrote:
I went to a catholic school and my tenth grade religion teacher told us that Jesus is the real deal or there are 3 billion gullible fools in the world.


Make that 2.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:43 pm 
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Jesus is God...



God says shut up


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:12 pm 
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random wrote:
Jesus is God...



God says shut up


dude check the forum rules. this clearly is spam.

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