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Discussion in 'Quackenbush's' started by Go_, May 14, 2004.
That's the best you got?
"Do you really want to be in the position of thinking that you can judge God?"
Battleship, do you believe God meant us to use the brain he bestowed on us a few years back at the time of creation? Do you think his devinely inspired Word was meant for any other reason than to give man a basis for judging His truth? The Christian has to believe that God is worthy of worship. If the non-Christian judges otherwise, then you simply have to accept that they used God's gift of reason and came up with a different answer than you.
Personally, I think an omniscient, omnipotent god has to be held responsible for "all the sins the face of man is blackened with." My difference with Khayam is that I'm not willing to forgive God for man's sins. Rather than believe in an evil god, I'd rather believe in no god at all.
Coel and BT, before we go any further, I want to thank you for a frank and respectful discussion. I believe that the area we are about to get into may appear to be confrontational. Let me assure you now that my intent is not to judge or to condescend, but only to relate my experience and understanding.
"Does our free will mean that we have the ability to choose our parents and, thereby, our genes?"
"Does our free will mean that we have the ability to choose where to live for the first several years of our lives?"
"Do you believe that our genes, our parents, and our early childhood environment have only a negligible effect or a significant effect on the kind of persons that we eventually become?"
It's affect varies from one individual to the next, depending upon the strength of will within that individual.
This discussion will obviously hinge on what each of us think about the validity of those aprocryphal texts. You regard them as carrying equal weight as the the traditional gospels. I would not.
I'm no expert on ancient texts, but on the basis of my casual google troll I can report that the 70-100 AD dating that you assert for Thomas is something less than a consensus view among scholars. Most of them did not take very seriously the idea that the apostle Thomas was the actual author.
Also on the basis of my gut instinct, the Jesus of that document seems a different character in tone and in message than the one described in MML&J. It didn't feel like the same Jesus. In addition, why would he want to keep it "secret". That doesn't make sense.
Speaking of not making sense:
Oh, you mean this?
You'll be judged precisely according to the situation you were placed in and how you handled that situation. That's how I read it.
If you truly are seeking a resolution to your original concern, then how can you say those passages have no relevance?
Also, I thought this was telling:
If a belief in the existence of the Christian God is necessary to go to heaven then the children of fundamentalist Christians who live in Dallas are overwhelmingly more likely to go to heaven than are the children of Islamic fundamentalists who reside in Tehran.
Reasonable people will agree that place of birth, parent's beliefs, etc. (that is, factors largely or wholly out of our control) have a great deal to do with the different conclusions that those children reach about the Christian God. If the Christian God were a just god he would provide a miracle or some other experience in each of those children's lives, NOT to compel their belief in his existence, but only to offset the other arbitrary factors (which we all acknowledge occur) that tip the children toward disbelief in the reality of the Christian God.
A miracle occurring in one's life need not have any more effect on one's ability to freely choose to either accept or reject God than does any other arbitrary experience that happens in one's life. This isn't to to say that it will not have any effect on the decision that is reached. It will have an effect, but so does being born in Dallas or Tehran.
Besides, God is omnipotent. This means that He can tailor the miracle to exactly offset all other arbitrary factors in each of our lives so that we all have precisely the same opportunity to believe in His reality.
If the Christian God is omnipotent and chooses not to level the playing field, so to speak, in terms of opportunity to believe in His reality, it is strong evidence that he is unjust.
If the Christian God desires to do this but cannot, it is proof that he is not omnipotent.
[BTW, this argument works just as well against Allah or any other God who is alleged to be omnipotent and just, and who condemns non-believers to hell.]
An analogy for the above argument: A group of one-hundred children from the sixth grade of the local elementary school run a 100-yard race on a football field. Half the group, selected randomly, begins the race at the 40-yard line; the other half begins the race at the goal line. All other factors being equal which group should place more children in the top-fifty finishing times for the race: the group that started on the goal line or the group that started on the forty?
(Oh yeah, and just to make the analogy more apt: assume free will exists.)
Notice, however, that just because one group of kids have to run only sixty yards and the other, the full one-hundred, does not mean that the race cannot be made fairer by compensating in some way the children who have to run the longer distance. Perhaps those children could begin the race 4.5 - 5.0 seconds earlier than the other children begin to compensate for their extra-distance handicap. Perhaps those children could be given bicycles to ride or given some other kind of mechanical advantage.
Lots of things can be done to make the race more competitive; but, if nothing is done, we would expect the children who begin the race on the forty to have more of the top finishers in the race than the group does who begin on the goal line.
Analogy numero deux: I have two daughters, a son and 300 million dollars. I, like any other loving father, desire for all three of my children to know me and to love me for who I am, not for the inheritance that I may leave them. In fact, whichever of the three whom I judge to sincerely love me is the one (or ones) to whom I plan to bequeath my entire fortune. I shan't, however, simply ignore the ones who choose not to love me. Any who choose not to love me, I plan to have imprisoned and tortured for the remainder of his, her, or their lives.
I've not told any of my children about my plan directly but I have left hints about it for my youngest child to find. My youngest (or my "baby" as I call her) lives nearby and we see each other on a regular basis. The middle child, who lives out-of-state with his mother the *****, hasn't seen me in more than 20 years. The eldest, who lives God-knows-where, has never seen me as far as I know. I put her up for adoption on the day she was born.
I plan to be completely impartial about this and to leave it up to my kids' free will as to which expresses his or her love for me in the most sincere fashion. It will be their decision to make and theirs alone to either love me, reject me, or ignore me.
Aren't my three children lucky to have a just, loving Father like me?
Drunk, I agree that from what I understand the role of women in early Christianity was something completely revolutionary and refreshing. I think its terribly unfortunate that this way of thinking about women and their roles was all but stamped out at Nicea and went downhill from there.
In the canonical Bible, about the only thing good that women do is give birth to Jesus. Even that role, if one follows Catholicism, had to be tweaked with the concept of the Immaculate Conception, thus separating Mary from all other women.
I expect the idea of the Holy Spirit as a divine feminine such as Sophia is going to come as a shock to the folks that have not looked deep into history and considered texts beyond the New Testament, especially folks who take a literal approach to the Trinity.
Christ almighty, I wish I had the time to engage in this god damned debate. **** law school exams.
Drunk, I think we actually agree on this. You should understand that for me the term "orthodox Christian" includes the Catholic Church, which is the faith in which I was born and raised. I don't mean to sound overly judgemental of Catholics. I have a profound respect for that faith, but I differ from it on many fundamental issues of which this is one.
My understanding of women in the New Testament is largely as people seen as sinners and generally unclean who were forgiven and accepted by Jesus. Its been mostly in the gnostic texts, with the notable exception of Paul who is included in the New Testament (I think you'll find that Paul is the author of most of the references you cited above), that women are shown to be accepted as equal to the apostles on their own merit rather than generally likened to other sorts of sinners.
Then we have this enlightened progression after Jesus death:
St. Tertullian (about 155 to 225 CE):
"Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the Devil's gateway: You are the unsealer of the forbidden tree: You are the first deserter of the divine law: You are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desert even the Son of God had to die." 1,2
St. Augustine of Hippo (354 to 430 CE). He wrote to a friend:
"What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman......I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children." 10
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 to 1274 CE):
"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence."
Martin Luther (1483 to 1546):
"If they [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that's why they are there." 9
Yes, I have read two of Elaine Pagels books, The Gnostic Gospels and Beyond Belief. I found both to be quite readable and informative. I did think her presentation was a bit biased, but certainly not the most biased that I have read and considered. Most of the gnostic approach appeals to me, but there is an inherent arrogance in their thinking as I understand it that puts me off.
Brick, there's no need for your participation in this thread. Most of us are already aware of your belief that the Christian God is a just and loving Father in spite of the sadistic pleasure He apparently receives in the medieval, eternal torture of those who impudently choose of their own volition, and in the face of reams of contrary evidence, to disbelieve in His existence.