Holiday greetings to PBR longs.
The sickness, as posed by Harlan Ellison:
"Christmas is an awfulness that compares favorably with the great London plague and fire of 1665-66. No one escapes the feelings of mortal dejection, inadequacy, frustration, loneliness, guilt and pity. No one escapes feeling used by society, by religion, by friends and relatives, by the utterly artifical responsibilities of extending false greetings, sending banal cards, reciprocating unsolicated gifts, going to dull parties, putting up with acquaintances and family one avoids all the rest of the year...in short, of being brutalized by a 'holiday' that has lost virtually all of its original meanings and has become a merchandising ploy for color tv set manufacturers and ravagers of the woodlands."
This book was written By Ernest Martin. Martin has put together a more coherent reconstruction of the events in the decade between 5 B.C. and 5 A.D. than any other scholar. There are many significant original contributions in this book. Many. If anyone had produced similar evidence against the claims of Christianity, they would be on the lecture circuit alongside Hitchens and Dawkins. But if you have discernment, and the patience necessary to really study this subject, you may become a "wise man", in the Xmas sense. One of his other books, the one on Golgotha, also contains information that would make Dawkins and Hitchens (and probably Ellison too) wince..., but that is another subject.
Here is a presentation of Martin's work that does not credit Martin:
This DVD will appeal to most Americans who lack the time or interest to look deeply into the subject. It introduces Martin's work without giving him the credit he deserves. However, it does make an original (as far as I can tell) contribution to the subject in an allusion to the possible 3 April 33 A.D. crucifixion of Jesus and a particularly interesting, and hidden combination of astronomical event happening on that date. It would be nice to see much longer discussions of the evidence... but alas, you will need to dig deeper than this DVD to find those.
So, today is 25 December, and something very interesting DID happen on this date in 2 B.C. As Martin discovered, and Larsen presents... this particular Dec 25th event means little in isolation from it's context, but in full context, it powerfully answers Harlan Ellison's complaint about: "a 'holiday' that has lost virtually all of its original meanings..."
"But then I might become more gullible and lose all my money?"
Idealistic, gullible and poor, in my firsthand experience, do go together... in roughly that order.
A happy New Year to you too!
"The legends of King Arthur have over the centuries grown into a mixture of historical fact and carefully cultivated myth -- so much so that it's difficult for many observers to tell where truth ends and fancy begins..."
I think that these books and authors have made a breakthrough in that department:
I recommend that anyone interested in astronomy and history read both of these.
"pan-Mediterranean cult of the dying-and-rising demigod"
There may be a real event or events that inspired these particular legends. There have been occasions in the past when volcanism or large oceanic impact events threw so much dust, steam and or ash into the atmosphere that the sun was obscured for days and then reappeared.
"contends that Jesus was not an historical figure"
Contemporaries on both sides of the controversy... testified to Jesus reality. So Rome, the Jews and the Christians ALL experienced from the same hallucination? Don't think so....
By the way, this is true:
"We all pick and choose parts of the Bible to believe; some are just more honest about it than others."
"If a man will begin with certainties, he will end in doubts; but if he will be
content to begin with doubts, he will end in certainties."
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with
sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use."
-- Galileo Galilei
One of the best pages of quotations I've come across:
"They felt that their evil acts, even if much worse than those of others, were going to be forgiven..."
Yes, that is almost right, but for one detail. If one does not believe in God or an afterlife, there is no fear of doing wrong so long as every mortal around you is deceived into thinking you are righteous and your victim deserved his beating. That way, if the issue of forgiveness ever comes up at all, it is on the parts of the idiots (some of whom witnessed or even participated in the beating), who demand of the victim that he forgive his assailant. In this clime, not even the good Samaritan is safe, for the crowd-controlling "nazi" will convince everyone that the Samaritan is "giving aid and comfort to the enemy."
There is a verse in the Wuest expanded translation of the N.T. in which Jesus states that the two highest callings are the love of God and the equitable administration of justice. Much attention is given to the former and almost none on the latter. If one wrote a sermon on that subject, one could work in this quote from Einstein:
"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
Fred, the most wicked people I knew growing up were "Christians". They felt that their evil acts, even if much worse than those of others, were going to be forgiven while otherrs were not. Under "Christian" calculus then a serial killer who repented and believed that Jesus was the son of God was higher on the totem pole to go to Heaven than a nonbeliever who told a lie.
In high school, I learned of the brutal actions undertaken in the name of Jesus and I asked, "why would anyone believe this nonsense?"
Finally, as an adult, I noticed the positive effect religion had on my friends, family, and patients. I studied it and why. I also found a sect of Christianity and Christians that I could embrace. These were the folks of the Jesus Seminar, and I learned of them reading the horrid best seller, the Case for Christ.
The Jesus Seminar was made up of scholars who voted on which parts of the Gospels were most likely to have been actual events and what Jesus is most likely to have said. IOW, they started with the assumption the Bible was flawed. Just by translating the Bible into English damages the claim of it being 100% pure.
What I learned was that I had no problem with the philosophies Jesus taught. What I had a problem with is/was how many Christians interpret them.
There are a lot of good and necessary divorces, and the Jesus Seminar voted as unlikely that Jesus uttered what he did about divorce. But you cannot believe every word of the Bible and think that Jesus did not condemn divorce or frown on the accumulation of wealth.
I think the funniest thing today is having "Christian" divorcees condemn homosexuals. There is no specific record of Jesus condemning homosexuals as he did divorcees.
And the obedience to authority part of Christianity is not supported by any of the words of actions of Jesus. That was put in by "Christians". Jesus was a party loving rebel.
The fact is that everyone picks and chooses parts of the Bible to believe and sometimes not by choice. Parts of the Bible contradict each other.
When Jesus was asked what was most important, he stated that it was to love God and love your neighbor. To many "Christians", that means you only have to love your neighbor if he shares your beliefs. Again, my problem here is not with Christ but those who call themselves 'Christians". We all pick and choose parts of the Bible to believe; some are just more honest about it than others.
And in that vein, Fred, I don't think it is appropriate to continue this discussion on this forum. If you want to respond, please do so, but I am done with it.
If Jesus believed and preached about God what the gnostics believed, the Jews would have made many additional charges of heresy against him. If nothing else, Jesus can be defined pretty well by his conflicts with authorities. Since there are two Talmuds* recording the Jews accusations against Jesus, either the gnostics have it wrong about what Jesus taught, or the Jews had no differences with Jesus on such matters... and were therefore, presumably gnostics too. ...Needless to say, this is not likely. And anyone arguing otherwise would need to have Jesus opponents involved in a conspiracy with Jesus to obscure Gnostic essentials.
Early Christians relied very heavily on word-of-mouth transmission of doctrine and testimony in the first century while there were still living witnesses. And things were written down soon. As of about 1990, there were known fragments of the Gospel of Mark from 45 A.D. 25 years before the destruction of the Temple.
*Again, Christian witnesses and sources compiled or editted by Christians are NOT the only sources of information. See Martin's book on Golgotha for instance - which sites the Talmuds and other sources outside of Christian control. Or the short tape study by Jonathan Kahn titled "Mystery of the Temple Doors."
"and none of them were Gnostics"
And NONE of the people working for NASA today are flat-earthers either.
"And walking on water does make sense?"
He was sent first to the Jews and they require signs... He gave them signs galore and these were a matter of public record.
If you sincerly harbor the notion that the Gnostic Gsopel of Thomas should have been included in the canon, then you would presumably agree that those words of Thomas which are already in the canon belong there and are trustworthy. Well, what did Thomas demand in terms of evidence and what did he get?
And if the canonical words of Thomas are not trustworthy, what is the criteria for distrust? Is anything that smacks of conventional Christian belief automatically deserving of dismissal? If so then a flat-earther is free to dismiss every picture of earth from space.
Fred, a few years ago, I was doing some medical research, and I learned that people of faith may produce higher amounts of a hormone, oxytocin, that protects one against numerous ailments. I had noticed that people of faith do live longer and healthier lives. Until then, I considered myself agnostic.
So even though I wanted to pursue a faith, I don't like to be suckered. I knew the history of Christianity is filled with blood and that Dawkins and Hitchens have their point. Until the invention of the printing press, I dare say that if Jesus did come back he would say "you are doing what in my name??"
When I finally sat down and read the gospels, I was shocked at how relevant their message was. I never thought anything I had read that was written 2000 years ago would have an immediate impact on my life, but it did.
Nonetheless, I know politics and marketing when I see it. It bugs me that Christians are so unaccepting of alternate versions of what happened. A biblical scholar wrote this book, http://www.amazon.com/Misquoting-Jesus-Story-Behind-Changed/dp/0060738170, and anyone who reads it and states the Bible is perfect as is must be a fool.
The Da Vinci code was a ripoff of the Nag Hammadi collection found in Egypt in 1949. What many orthodox Christian scholars don't like is that many of the gospels found in this collection overlap with our current Bible. And they are upset that the carefully crafted image of a chaste Jesus is shattered by the Gospel of Phillip.
Faith does not mean I have to close my eyes and believe what others tell me is true. Any child who has been told of Santa Claus knows society is capable of a group conspiracy. Atheists make a great point when making analogies between Jesus and Santa.
December 25 was a Pagan holiday and a prophet born of a virgin mother was another Pagan tradition. And the Holy Trilogy is a smooth way of going from many Gods to one (or three).
The commercialization of Christmas is a much more mild form of using Christ's name to make a buck. It pales in comparison to Spainards who slaughtered native Americans and use Christ's name as justification for stealing their gold or my personal favorite, the abstinence-unless-married RCC Church of today running brothels in Rome in 1400 AD. One in seven women in Rome was a prostitute registered by the church at that time.
So while you might think I am not Christian from what I have written, I would say that it is others who have strayed from the teachings of Christ. Christmas is about showing love to our family and to God for bringing us the wisdom of Jesus. I don't give gifts to impress others. I do it to please God.
Some have said Jesus may not have been a man but a movement. FWIW, I could care less. I think Christians should worry a lot less about the myth and focus on the substance.
Before Christ, the world was harsh and cruel. An eye for an eye was justice. Jesus changed the world. He taught the world to love one another and love God, which was a radical change, and I think it is that philosophy that is worth celebrating.
Feliz Natal, everyone.
"I was doing some medical research, and I learned that people of faith may produce higher amounts of a hormone, oxytocin, that protects one against numerous ailments. I had noticed that people of faith do live longer and healthier lives."
A nasal spray which increases our trust for strangers is showing promise as a treatment for social phobia, say scientists from Zurich University. They found that people who inhaled the "love hormone" oxytocin continued to trust strangers with their money - even after they were betrayed. Brain scans showed the hormone lowered activity in the amygdala - a region which is overactive in social phobics. Drug trials are under way and early signs are promising say the scientists.
Nicknamed the "cuddle chemical", oxytocin is a naturally produced hormone, which has been shown to play a role in social relations, maternal bonding, and also in sex. Lead researcher Dr Thomas Baumgartner said: "We now know for the first time what exactly is going on in the brain when oxytocin increases trust. "We found that oxytocin has a very specific effect in social situations. It seems to diminish our fears.
Previous studies have shown that participants in "trust games" took greater risks with their money after inhaling the hormone via a nasal spray.
In this latest experiment, published in the journal Neuron, the researchers asked volunteer subjects to take part in a similar game.
They were each asked to contribute money to a human trustee, with the understanding that the trustee would invest the money and decide whether to return the profits, or betray the subject's trust by keeping the profit.
The subjects also received doses of oxytocin or a placebo via a nasal spray.
After investing, the participants were given feedback on the trustees. When their trust was abused, the placebo group became less willing to invest. But the players who had been given oxytocin continued to trust their money with a broker.
"We can see that oxytocin has a very powerful effect," said Dr Baumgartner.
"The subjects who received oxytocin demonstrated no change in their trust behaviour, even though they were informed that their trust was not honoured in roughly 50% of cases."
"December 25 was a Pagan holiday and a prophet born of a virgin mother was another Pagan tradition."
Nevertheless, Jupiter was at the stationary end point of a retrograde loop above Regulus, in Leo, on the night of December 25th, 2 B.C. and this would have been almost impossible for anyone to have confirmed for the first 15 centuries of the Christian era. By itself, this may not mean much, but with the context provided by Martin, it makes sense of the Biblical story.
The "wise men"�may have originated in a culture that we would call "pagan". If their expertise led them to Bethlehem, maybe we should defer to their interpretation,�initiative and accomplishments and accept that God was in the business of leading pagan seekers to Jesus.
"Spainards who slaughtered native Americans and use Christ's name as justification for stealing their gold or my personal favorite, the abstinence-unless-married RCC Church of today running brothels in Rome in 1400 AD. One in seven women in Rome was a prostitute registered by the church at that time."
One cannot blame Newton for any misapplication of Calculus. Similarly, one should not hold the misbehavior of a rogue Spaniard to discredit Christianity. And I wrote "rogue" deliberately since Cortez ignored orders revoking his authority just before he began his mission of conquest.
After years of searching for a used copy of an english language edition, I bought a copy of Fanny Bandolier's translation of Sahagun's Historia General aka the Florentine Codex.
I would NEVER have believed anything negative about pre-conquest Mexico or Mexicans before reading it, but after reading it, I think the arrival of the conquistadors might have been divine justice. The culture had become consumed by a cult of human sacrifice. Ritual brutality.... Flaying captives alive... The Christian part of the story may have transpired a thousand years earlier when a real a Christian, an Irish Monk named Brendan arrived in the 560's A.D. But that is too large a digression to pursue here. :)
"It bugs me that Christians are so unaccepting of alternate versions of what happened."
It doesn't bug me. If I sat down tomorrow and wrote the Gospel according to Mario, it would not become part of the canon. Sometimes, when something gets left out, it is because it is simply inaccurate. More specifically, about Nag Hammadi's Phillip Gospel, I consider it unlikely in the extreme that Jesus was married or messed around with Mary or anyone else. First of all, it was accepted that Rabbi's would be married and therefore, if Jesus were married, there would have been no reason whatsoever to conceal that fact. Second, and much more importantly, the single most significant theme of the New Testament is the marriage between the Messiah and the Ecclesia. You can read the N.T. and never notice it, but once someone points it out, it is like D'OH!
This is an extensive presentation of it:
This is a...well,... colorful... presentation of it:
Given the coherence between the 1st century marriage customs and the events in the Gospels, it is clear that Jesus was abiding the law and living out the marriage plan - only NOT to an individual. Had he been breaking law or custom, his enemies would have accused him of those breaches and the accusations would be a matter of record today.
In fact, it is partly because the accusations made against Jesus by his opponents survive in multiple sources, that we can establish so many things about Jesus as facts. (Ernest Martin reveals much of this in his book Secrets of Golgotha, and Jonathan Cahn's tape: Mystery of the Temple Doors also discusses these things: tape number 35 here:
Another excellent consideration of evidence in the N.T. is Simon Greenleaf's Testimony of the Evangelists. See these links:
"Faith does not mean I have to close my eyes and believe what others tell me is true."
At some level, that IS what faith is. Just as it is true that science is an effort to discover truth that does NOT depend on human authority for it's veracity. But since you and I cannot afford to perform, for example, the EPR experiment in our basements... in practice... we DO depend on the testimonies of scientists as IF we are "closing our eyes and believing what others are telling us." Sometimes this is safe,�and sometimes it is not. The cool thing about the Star of Bethlehem subject is that it can bring a hard science (Orbital Mechanics) to the table as a means of evaluating the veracity of the Bible. By the way, here is another good link - to the first chapter of Martin's book:
This is an instance of a very productive intersection of scripture and (hard) science.
Hey, Doc, Fred...
I'd just like to mention a small historical footnote to this: "Before Christ, the world was harsh and cruel. An eye for an eye was justice. Jesus changed the world. He taught the world to love one another and love God, which was a radical change, and I think it is that philosophy that is worth celebrating."
The historical figure Gautama Siddhartha, aka the Buddha, who pre-dated Jesus of Nazareth by 400 years, also taught a philosophy of loving kindness for all living things.