Author Topic: Episode #616  (Read 2798 times)

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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2017, 09:58:23 AM »
Belgarath beat me to it: (And thanks, werecow, for posting the video!) The Jesus story was probably not invented all at one time, but evolved and grew organically and different threads were merged together. There were definitely Jewish apocalyptic preachers, and there were crucifixions, and a woman could sometimes get away with telling her husband she'd never had sex, to explain that her baby didn't mean she'd been unfaithful.

Here's an item I've never seen pointed out, but seems a big deal to me: Handel's Messiah has a line which I think comes from the O.T.: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, God With Us." Well, that cannot refer to Jesus because they didn't call his name Emmanuel. They called his name Jesus. So Jesus is not a fulfillment of the prophesy. Maybe Emmanuel was born next door and the Three Wise Magi Kings got the address wrong. A star may guide your general direction, but it's not terribly precise as to the exact house. Shades of Life of Brian.

So, yes, it would have made more sense to have Jesus be born in Bethlehem to begin with if you were inventing the story out of whole cloth (and to name him Emmanuel) but if you're trying to make a lot of disparate elements into one narrative you have to fudge a bit.

FWIW, the Dual Nature of Christ (man and god) and the Trinity come out of a similar bit of arcane mental gymnastics as the early Pauline Christians were fighting against other Christianities in the early days. They ended up with a nonsensical theological mish-mash as they tried to argue one way against one group and another way against another group. The Teaching Company has a fascinating course on early Christianities.

So I am of the opinion that the Jesus of the Gospels did not exist as an individual, but is an amalgam of many individuals who existed as a type of itinerant preacher with a really big dose of supernatural mythology and some ignorance of biology.

Still, in spite of Hitchens's argument on the pathology of the teachings attributed to Jesus, I have friends who would say the same of Jesus that Hitchens says of Socrates: That it does not matter whether he really existed, but that his message of love, charity, and pacifism are what matters. My friends don't expect Jesus to ever come back. Their "faith" is in the message that actually being nice to people, all people, all the time, is the right way to live. (A message they do not regard as unique to Jesus.)
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Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2017, 10:11:36 AM »
If a "star" was going to be specific enough point out the correct home, maybe it was a meteorite. But no one had told God about the laws of motion yet, and he blew up the original Messiah. He had to cobble things together from there.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 10:14:40 AM by 2397 »

Offline werecow

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2017, 11:10:28 AM »
Belgarath beat me to it: (And thanks, werecow, for posting the video!) The Jesus story was probably not invented all at one time, but evolved and grew organically and different threads were merged together.

That is certainly a possibility, and that is another possible explanation for the contortionism in the bible. And as Steve points out, the argument may be underestimating the human penchant for confabulation and making things up out of whole cloth to suit our needs. Still, I thought it was an argument worth considering, at least.

Here's an item I've never seen pointed out, but seems a big deal to me: Handel's Messiah has a line which I think comes from the O.T.: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, God With Us." Well, that cannot refer to Jesus because they didn't call his name Emmanuel. They called his name Jesus. So Jesus is not a fulfillment of the prophesy. Maybe Emmanuel was born next door and the Three Wise Magi Kings got the address wrong. A star may guide your general direction, but it's not terribly precise as to the exact house. Shades of Life of Brian.

Another interesting thing I've heard (not sure if it's true), possibly also from Hitchens (though I couldn't find the video quote), is that the original word used in the text could simply be translated as "young woman", rather than "virgin", so that a mistranslation may have been responsible for the subsequent mythologizing of that part of the story. A similar thing applies to "72 virgins" in the Quran, which may originally have been "72 angels" or even "72 white raisins".

Also, since people seem to like Hitchslaps, relevant:



Still, in spite of Hitchens's argument on the pathology of the teachings attributed to Jesus, I have friends who would say the same of Jesus that Hitchens says of Socrates: That it does not matter whether he really existed, but that his message of love, charity, and pacifism are what matters. My friends don't expect Jesus to ever come back. Their "faith" is in the message that actually being nice to people, all people, all the time, is the right way to live. (A message they do not regard as unique to Jesus.)

The thing is, whenever people bring this up, it strikes me as somewhat ironic. I had a similar discussion with my mom and aunt a year or so ago. Their argument is that religion is pretty great, as long as you can pick and choose the things you like and leave the rest (even though neither of them are religious - they grew up Catholic, and have at least some fond memories of the church, except for, you know, the fear of going to hell and all that). My response was that that amounts to an argument that says that religion gets better as it becomes less religious. In other words, like most people, I don't have a huge problem with moderately religious people, but more often than not it's only to the extent that they're actually not religious that I don't have a problem with them.

Socrates' teachings can be taken as true or false based on what mathematicians, logicians and scientists have found out afterwards, because they are not dogma, but rather explorations of the nature of reality. Religion, on the other hand, is not so much a description of reality as it is a prescription of it. Unfortunately not all of Jesus' teachings are good and wonderful. The idea of vicarious redemption and the limitations of the golden rule are ones that Hitchens often brings up, and of course there's the huge baggage of the horrific old testament teachings. As we all know, very grandiose and damaging claims have historically been, and are still frequently made on the basis of it. This is in large part because the work is seen as holy. If you don't see the bible as holy, it seems to me that you are at most a cultural Christian, rather than a religious one. I know that many ostensibly religious people are like that, but unfortunately the fact that huge swathes of the population say "I am of religion X" gives arguments from popularity a huge extra boost, and even though such arguments are fallacious, many people find them convincing.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 11:15:12 AM by werecow »
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Offline werecow

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2017, 11:54:25 AM »
Oh, and there's also the burden of proof issue to consider. If you're defending a specific hypothesis, the burden of proof is on you to defend that hypothesis. In this case, given how thin the existing evidence is, it seems reasonable that the burden of proof lies with those asserting that Jesus existed as a real person, and not with those who say "the evidence for that is still way too flimsy".
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2017, 03:34:49 PM »
It is true that in the Hebrew, the word for virgin is also the word for young woman. When translating one cannot distinguish because the original language did not distinguish. Just as the English word "love" does not distinguish romantic love from filial love from brotherly love, etc.

As for my Christian friends referenced earlier, they are extremely religious. They do not insist that Jesus was a real person, or that salvation comes from any particular belief or behavior, or even that there's an afterlife. What they say is that, with no proof, just on faith alone, they believe that living modestly, serving the poor, loving everyone, and practicing nonviolence is the ideal way to live, and they live that way. I suspect that if pressed, they would say that Jesus was not perfect, but that the essence of the teaching attributed to him in the Gospels (love, service, nonviolence) is what matters. He was not unique in preaching this, so he is definitely NOT the ONLY way. They are also very non-judgmental. We discuss religion because the topic interests me, but they never proselytize.

As an aside, my friends believe that Jesus was trying to organize a nonviolent revolt against Roman rule, and when Pilate offered to pardon one prisoner, the crowd chose Barabbas over Jesus because Barabbas advocated the violent overthrow of Roman rule, whereas Jesus advocated  nonviolent overthrow, and the crowd supported a violent rebellion. I think their analysis is far-fetched
Daniel
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2017, 03:42:39 PM »
Note also that the Bible is not, and was never intended to be, a coherent whole. It is a collection of very diverse writings, some mythological, some poetic, and some declarations of faith. The folks who established the canon were well aware of the many contradictions, and didn't care, because they never intended it to be a unified divine declaration. It was intended to be a series of scriptures that could be read to reinforce the faith of the faithful. And at some point it became something for the priesthood alone to read. It wasn't until Martin Luther that Biblical inerrancy became a dogma in his new splinter sect of Protestantism. So arguments based in the contradictions and factual errors of the Bible are relevant only when speaking to Bible literalists, who are a minority of Christians, though a very vocal minority.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
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Offline bachfiend

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2017, 04:40:51 PM »
If you want to see a bun fight, go and look at the 'discussion' on the thread on whether Jesus was a historical figure on Neurologica.

Michael Egnor has completely lost it.  He's behaving more like a chimpanzee using its favourite missile (excrement).

It should be noted that Matthew doesn't have a nativity story.  The wise men (which were unnumbered - it's only traditional that there were three, because there were three gifts, and it's possible that there could have been more than three, with 2 or more bringing gold for example) visited Joseph and Mary in a house in Bethlehem.  And Herod ordered the massacre of male infants under the age of 2 in Bethlehem.

Luke and Matthew could be reconciled if Joseph and Mary originally came from Nazareth (Luke). And then they had to travel to Bethlehem for the empire wide census no one else noticed, where Jesus was born (Luke). And then they returned to Nazareth (Luke), but because they enjoyed their stay in Bethlehem so much, in the next 2 years moved back to Bethlehem (mentioned nowhere). Then the wise men followed the star to Bethlehem, Herod ordered the massacre, Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt, returning to Nazareth after Herod's death (Matthew).

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2017, 05:21:28 PM »
Take a disparate collection of books, half written in Hebrew and half written in Greek, all containing a large measure of allegory, the Greek books containing quotes in Greek from a guy who actually spoke in Aramaic half a century earlier, then translate the whole bunch into Latin, and then translate the Latin into English, and then insist that the whole English version was dictated word for word by God and every single word is the literal truth, and you're going to run into problems. You're going to have to do some pretty serious mental gymnastics just to make it all work for the people who believe you. And by that time you will have completely gone off your nut and just killing everybody who doesn't believe you is going to begin to sound like the best way to deal with the world.

Have I said already that I view religion as the greatest plague that the human race has ever created?
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2017, 05:24:00 PM »
The Nazareth-Bethlehem issue is easily explained if you consider that Mark, the earliest gospel, which has no nativity or explanation of his birth of Jesus or, indeed, any explicit claim that he is the Jewish Messiah, says that he was from Nazareth.  Mark is pretty much an account of a brief period in the life and death of an itinerant preacher and exorcist.  It doesn't even have any real account of the resurrection.  It does not seem that Mark was really concerned with establishing Jesus as the Messiah.

Later gospels, which definitely were concerned with establishing that Jesus was a fulfillment of prophesy, were constrained by the existence of Mark.
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Offline werecow

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2017, 05:29:49 PM »

Take a disparate collection of books, half written in Hebrew and half written in Greek, all containing a large measure of allegory, the Greek books containing quotes in Greek from a guy who actually spoke in Aramaic half a century earlier, then translate the whole bunch into Latin, and then translate the Latin into English, and then
insist that the whole English version any book was dictated word for word by God and every single word is the literal truth, and you're going to run into problems.

FTFY
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2017, 05:35:59 PM »
Take a disparate collection of books, half written in Hebrew and half written in Greek, all containing a large measure of allegory, the Greek books containing quotes in Greek from a guy who actually spoke in Aramaic half a century earlier, then translate the whole bunch into Latin, and then translate the Latin into English, and then insist that the whole English version was dictated word for word by God and every single word is the literal truth, and you're going to run into problems. You're going to have to do some pretty serious mental gymnastics just to make it all work for the people who believe you. And by that time you will have completely gone off your nut and just killing everybody who doesn't believe you is going to begin to sound like the best way to deal with the world.

Have I said already that I view religion as the greatest plague that the human race has ever created?

The King James Bible was translated from Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic sources, not from the Vulgate.  We now have better and earlier sources for the text with the discovery of new Greek MSs and papyri, but the translators of the KJV cannot be criticized for not using the best sources available to them.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline SkepticalConservative

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2017, 05:47:11 PM »
I thought the mention of the book "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel would add to the conversation.
As far as I know, the book attempts to research the question of the historical Jesus based on primary sources and examines more 1st century documents than were stated in the SGU episode.
I thought those sources would be worthy of additional skeptical analysis.

Full disclosure:  I have not the read the book (but have listened to Mr. Strobel being interviewed on a podcast).  I am a Christian which enjoys listening to the SGU podcast.

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2017, 06:29:49 PM »
My take on the historical Jesus is that it's irrelevant whether there was one, when they clearly were nothing like the mythological and divine Jesus. In terms of the validity of any of the claims in the Bible, or as a foundation for the religions of today, besides what can be argued for and against independently. If there's anything meaningful contained in the present day religions, it's meaningful regardless of what did or didn't happen before Rome decided what Christianity was.

Maybe there was a historical Satan, too. Who killed some guy's family because they believed they had made a bet with God to test how much shit and torment he could endure.

And maybe there was an Abraham who believed God told him to kill his son, but just as a joke. Unlike the many people who go through with killing their children as a divine calling.
And now I need a modern retelling of Job as a man who believes he's being tested by God when really he's just being attacked by a man who thinks himself Satan.
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Offline lonely moa

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2017, 10:17:49 PM »
When I saw David in Firenze, I was immediately struck with his demeanour, ready for mortal combat.

Michelangelo's depiction in stone is absolutely stunning.

He has big head and hands, the right hand especially.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 10:23:01 PM by lonely moa »
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Offline seamas

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Re: Episode #616
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2017, 10:36:38 AM »
When I saw David in Firenze, I was immediately struck with his demeanour, ready for mortal combat.

Michelangelo's depiction in stone is absolutely stunning.

He has big head and hands, the right hand especially.

It was a pretty interesting re-imagining of the depiction.
Prior to Michelangelo, David is portrayed either in physical action, or post victory.
Michelangelo chose to portray the most important form of action: thinking. He is not quite readying his sling--he is readying his mind, he is sizing up the giant.
It is often called an complete incomplete sculpture, in that his opponent is nowhere to be seen, but doesn't matter a single bit. I love fact that this shepherd "boy" stands 17 ft tall and isn't looking UP at Goliath suggesting that at this moment of concentration or meditation, HE becomes the giant.

 

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