kaptonok: Atheists often search the scripture to prove their point. The beauty of the Bible is its inconsistency you can prove almost any point you wish. The vast multitude of interpretations testifies to the huge number of denominations. So I might as well muddy the waters with mine. Jesus was an all or nothing man. He put his whole heart and soul into how he lived.
Nearly everyone on the planet are compromise people, who are governed by all sorts of forces in their lives. Many compromise types like to think of themselves as all or nothing types, it projects a better image. The mature and observant are not fooled.
oldschoolcontemporary: I believe the big question here is whether or not a person accepts the idea of authorial intention, and of course every time we write a letter, send a text message or even read a reply we're secretly showing we believe in an author's intentions, we too believe that we can get at the original meaning without anything interfering. In fact, I think your message actually completes itself in a very sharp fashion, as you first wrote "The beauty of the Bible is its inconsistency you can prove almost any point you wish." You then go on to answer these often alien interpretations: "Nearly everyone on the planet are compromise people, who are governed by all sorts of forces in their lives."
Now, in many cases (certainly not all) I would say differing interpretations arise precisely because we're as you have put it "compromise people." Moreover, we're compromised people (by which I mean to say sinners.) An example, maybe you've heard of the show ancient aliens (a peculiar detour I know,) well people who are drawn to this idea, the idea that aliens had some part to play in human history, or that we in the past were too ignorant/primitive to do simple tasks like draw patterns in the dirt, they’re very interested in the book of Ezekiel. Do we compromise and support their clearly absurd interpretation, surely not.
In my mind, this reinforces the earlier point about us being so badly compromised. The ancient astronaut theorists argue that Ezekiel, rather than having anything to do with God, had in actuality witnessed alien spaceships, and they argue this from the book of Ezekiel of all things, they claim sadly the Jewish people lacked the vocabulary to rightly explain their extraterrestrial encounter, for which they wrote of God and (in their minds) other ridiculous notions. Yet "Hebrew is one of the richest languages in history of the world"!
It’s because we are so compromised that people believe they can rip and uncritically misuse texts so to gain some selfish aim of theirs, and in their minds the people they are clearly misleading are irrelevant (or perhaps they’re misled themselves). Lastly, if both you and I truly belong to a universe fashioned by God, and are blessed with minds able to understand its deep truths, then I think you would do yourself a disservice to write your views on Jesus are muddying the waters. I think we really can know something about this Jesus, so when you write "Jesus was an all or nothing man. He put his whole heart and soul into how he lived." I find myself almost irresistibly nodding in agreement. Lewis in his extremely popular book Mere Christianity has a great deal to add to the discussion:
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
kaptonok: Jesus was a Jew and he lived in a scientifically unenlightened age. He did not lose his Jewish faith he universalised and adjusted it. The Jews a tightly bonded tribe (they still are) hated his universalisum. They believed they were God chosen tribe above all other humans. We still see this attitude in Christian circles today. Jesus taught mankind was one large tribe and God had no favorites.
He taught we need to put aside our imagined differences love, and serve one another. He also believed in ultimate justice that could act beyond the grave. I don’t believe in ultimate justice for me the murderer who shoots himself escapes justice. The ultra rich man who indulges himself until he dies escapes justice. Justice beyond the grave is very important in religious matters ; it makes us able to bear our ills and misfortunes with a smile.
oldschoolcontemporary: Let me try and unpack a little of what we’re both writing, kaptonok. You wrote “I don’t believe in ultimate justice for me, the murderer who shoots himself escapes justice. The ultra rich man who indulges himself until he dies escapes justice.” Are you not supposing the reality of such a thing called Justice when you write people can escape justice? It appears to me that you both believe and disbelieve in justice of some sort, yet if justice were merely defined as every person’s personal taste or preferred preference, it would then make no sense to say anybody escaped our subjective ideas of justice.
If a person wrongs you, and they’re then put out of your reach by the grave, they didn’t really escape justice if justice is an illusion, rather they would have escaped your intended revenge. Nevertheless, if justice is not a feature of our universe, then whether or not anybody really extracted their measure of revenge wouldn’t matter one way or the other. Life on the leash would be just as pointless as life off of the leash, as the Christian apologist David Wood would say.
There’s much more here I’d enjoy an explanation of, nevertheless due to time constraints I’m going to bypass a few observations and move into the subject I feel has the most legs to it, that being Jesus son of Joseph. You wrote like so: "He (meaning Jesus) did not lose his Jewish faith he universalised and adjusted it. The Jews a tightly bonded tribe (they still are) hated his universalisum."
You’re certainly onto something when you touch upon the universality of the Christian faith, however, Jesus wasn’t simply hated for teaching sympathetically towards Gentiles, Samaritans and the like, rather Jesus Christ had suffered hatred and crucifixion due to who He believed He was. Jesus wasn’t simply an overly friendly rabbi whose teachings centered around humanity getting along, so for you and I to write on universality while forgetting the very special claims Jesus made about Himself would be an error.
For example, Jesus claimed to forgive sin, preform miracles and predicted His imminent death. Rudolf Bultmann, writing in 1926 recognized the very same: "There can be no doubt that Jesus did such deeds, which were, in his and his contemporaries' understanding, miracles, that is, deeds that were the result of supernatural, divine causality. Doubtless he healed the sick and cast out demons."
Similarly John Piper, whose doctoral studies were done at the university of Munich, sheds light on the character and claims of Jesus: "Our first evidence of the resurrection, therefore, is that Jesus himself spoke of it. The breadth and nature of the sayings make it unlikely that a deluded church made these up. And the character of Jesus himself, revealed in these witnesses, has not been judged by most people to be a lunatic or a deceiver."
Lastly, Scholar P. J. Tomson wrote on the subject: "Although he apparently considered himself the heavenly ‘Son of Man’ and ‘the beloved son’ of God and cherished far-reaching Messianic ambitions, Jesus was equally reticent about these convictions. Even so, the fact that, after his death and resurrection, his disciples proclaimed him as the Messiah can be understood as a direct development from his own teachings."
Similarly the title "King of the Jews" which hung upon Jesus' cross is historically verified, meaning we're writing about a radical individual in the historic sense, someone who wouldn’t merely defy expectations, they’d change the world. Could this have been the work of a confused or deluded man, a madman, never, and surely no person could come away with such an idea having read the Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps than Jesus merely fooled people into believing He was someone He wasn't, yet that couldn't be right in either my or your eyes, since we're both convinced of Jesus’ passion and commitment, liars make for excellent cowards, whereas Jesus faced His death with bravery and full knowledge it was about to happen.
So, was the man mad, bad or God? I’d be interested to get your take on that. In modern speak atheists have considered the question closed by their bringing to the table a forth option, legend. Meaning Lewis’ question of whether or not Jesus was liar, Lord or lunatic became liar, Lord, lunatic or legend. Yet such an idea is clearly without warrant, so much so that even the radical German skeptic Gert Lüdemann imagines Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as being penned within two years of the crucifixion event itself.
Legends simply can’t undermine the historic core of an event within the lives of eyewitnesses, rather the fact that so much of the material points to only one outcome testifies to the strength of that report. Jesus’ question to Peter remains a question we too are faced with in the now: "Who do you say that I am?"
kaptonok: Justice stems from the conscience of man. It is represented in the Bible in metaphor ‘ the tree of the knowlege of good and evil. A tiger cannot be evil nor a crocodile they have no consciences. The exact nature of the conscience will vary according to time and place.
oldschoolcontemporary: Meaning you reject the idea of objective morality, the properly basic belief or an intuition, like our intuitive sense of other minds besides our own. Therefore, if a certain group of disreputable people in today’s culture (pedophiles) are later ushered into power in tomorrow’s world, your consciousness would only feel an illusory pain, a false sting which yelled "This isn’t right!", however, in your rational mind you would realize that there’s nothing truly evil about their behavior. So, in your mind, you’re comfortable to say raping defenseless children isn’t truly wrong, it’s simply wrong in your opinion?
Moreover, why ignore the epistemological (meaning our ability to experience and know) fact of objective morality for the mere ontology (the source)? Since you wrote to me in an earlier message that it’s our wishful thinking, our desire to bear an uncaring universe with a song in our heart and smiles upon our faces that motivates humankind to imagine justice in the universe.
Surely your notion is mistaken on two levels, firstly, it’s clearly our moral experience that motivates people to believe that justice, even ultimate justice, is an actual feature of our daily lives, it’s not that the believers in real goodness find themselves in a cruel and uncaring universe, for which they begin supposing morality, rather they simply suppose it regardless of whether or not they’re cursed as lepers or fruitful as bunnies, regardless of their happiness or cruelty we’re moral agents. Secondly, your idea, even if correct, wouldn’t show morality didn’t exist, allow me again a chance to unpack your material:
"I don’t believe in ultimate justice for me the murderer who shoots himself escapes justice. The ultra rich man who indulges himself until he dies escapes justice. Justice beyond the grave is very important in religious matters ; it makes us able to bear our ills and misfortunes with a smile."
Surely in the above you’re trying above to show that the belief in objective moral values and duties is mistaken due to how it came about, which is commonly known as the genetic fallacy, meaning even if how a person came to hold a belief might be faulty, that doesn’t mean the belief itself is faulty. For example, imagine I had what I believed was a throwing die better than most other dice for gambling, and I believed my die was so much better than the norm because A. It often landed upon six, and B. An astrologist told me the stars had aligned in my favour!
Now, you could mock my belief in astrology, and show that the science was an absurd sham, but that doesn’t mean my die isn’t better than others for the purpose of winning me money. In fact, it turns out it’s a loaded die, my reasoning was faulty, but the belief was true, my die really was better than the others at winning me money.
So why deny the clear and present experiential evidence for the truth of objective moral values. Wouldn’t we rightly call cold-blooded murderers, rapists and child abusers who didn’t feel guilty for their crimes handicapped, having simply a malfunction of the mind or brain or wherever it is you might believe the conscious of humanity to abide.
Louis Anthony, an atheist philosopher appears to agree: "Any argument for moral skepticism is going to be based upon premises which are less obvious than the reality of moral values and duties themselves." Meaning to accept your moral skepticism couldn’t be justified or rational. Again, Lewis tackles our subject in an insightful fashion:
"Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to-whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or every one.
But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked."
Furthermore: "I have met people who exaggerate the differences, because they have not distinguished between difference of morality and differences of belief about facts. For example, one man said to me, 'Three hundred years ago people in England were putting witches to death. Was that what you call the Rule of Human Nature or Right Conduct?'
But surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did — if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbors or drive them mad or bring bad weather — surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did?
There is no difference of moral principle here: the difference is simple about matter of fact. It may be a great advance in knowledge not to believe in witches: there is no moral advance in not executing them when you do not think they are there. You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believes there were no mice in the house."
Isn’t it possible (just possible) that your experiential data, data which I imagine can discern the difference between good and evil, is correct in a broad way? Yet if your moral experiences are correct in that broad fashion, then we’re capable of appealing to objective moral values, that objectivity can, nay, must be grounded in God, for anything other than God couldn’t possibly withstand the crushing weight of being the highest good (nor would they be worthy).
― Tyrone Cormack