Class Warfare Blog

August 15, 2018

Greek Philosophy in Christianity

We are told over and over that Christianity is based upon holy scriptures. Apparently this included the holy writings of Plato (born 428/427 BCE, died 348/347 BCE).

I have been reading a fascinating book, which I will report upon later, entitled Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages written by Richard E. Rubenstein. In the excerpt below Rubenstein is commenting upon the inspiration Augustine of Hippo drew from Plato, Augustine being a major architect of Christianity.

But his (Plato’s) most important contribution, from Augustine’s point of view, was to insist that the world of appearances—the world of “facts” apprehended through sense impressions—is a kind of watered-down and distorted reality, a universe of imperfect copies rather than originals. The originals, of course, exist forever in what Plato called the realm of Ideas and Christians called the Kingdom of Heaven. To this doctrine Neoplatonists like the great third-century philosopher Plotinus added the notion that the universe that proceeds originally from God yearns actively to return to him. Humans can therefore connect with the Absolute by meditating on the multiple things of this world and sensing their unitary, divine origins. Augustine was greatly attracted by the mystical implications of this doctrine …

I was drawn to one phrase in the excerpt that to me is quite telling, namely “Humans can therefore connect with the Absolute by meditating on the multiple things of this world and sensing their unitary, divine origins.”

I work with athletes and one primary topic is always how to harness one’s mind to support the kind of athletic performance one is looking for, So, I have studied that topic a great deal. One mental tool that athletes use is affirmations, which are first person comments about who one is as a person, e.g. “I am calm and under control no matter how much pressure seems to exist in a competition.” If this were true already, it would not need an affirmation to make it true, so these are things one wants to be true and one can make them true by repeating them over and over and over.

So, if humans are told that we can “connect with the Absolute by meditating on the multiple things of this world and sensing their unitary, divine origins” and we want that to be true, what exactly is going on? What is going on is we are taking something we wish to be true, but cannot be (otherwise we would not need to “make it so”) and we are making it true for us by self hypnosis.

We can shape the way we look at the world. Consider how we (Americans), as a culture, have created the situation where a sizable fraction of Americans see a Black person and think they are in danger (Look they are barbequing, right out in the open in this park! Hey, those Black people are in a Starbucks waiting for a business associate; they must be up to no good!).

The ultimate in religious experiences: self-deluded, self-reinforced. As I keep saying a religion that doesn’t coerce the behavior of the masses to serve the interested of the religious and secular elites doesn’t last long. Getting people to convince themselves of the “truths” in their religion is a high cost-effective and efficient structure for a religion.

Note This was not even the most influential effect of Plato on Augustine. More on this coming.

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17 Comments »

  1. The ultimate in religious experiences: self-deluded, self-reinforced.

    That pretty much sums up twice-weekly or in some cases 3-times weekly Church attendance, not to mention the full-time staff. 😵 The conservative sects of Islam do the exact same thing — watched an excellent two-part series “Our Man in Tehran” on PBS Frontline this Monday and Tuesday nights and they were extremely revealing into the intimate modern life of Islamic Iranians under Islamic laws.

    The Platonian influences are very intriguing Steve! I am looking forward to your next post on it.

    Like

    Comment by Professor Taboo — August 15, 2018 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

    • Too many books, too little time! :o)

      I will be posting soon, even if I don’t get the entire book done as the section I am reading now is very, very interesting.

      Xians talk about how Christianity grew and engulfed Europe and … and … but clearly Christianity is not what it was, even if it were intended to be a new religion (not convinced of that). The effects of the Greeks and Romans have been massive.

      On Wed, Aug 15, 2018 at 12:46 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 15, 2018 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

      • The effects of the Greeks and Romans have been massive.

        BOOM!!! Spot on! That’s what I’ve been preaching to Xians for some 2-3 decades now. Even as I connect all the dots in front of them — from Second Temple Judaism/Messianism to the Jewish-Roman War (and its causes/consequences), and the entrance of Paul/Saul (Hellenistic from the Hillel School), to further distancing Greco-Roman socioreligions (apotheosis) begun by Paul/Saul then completed by Emperors Constantine to Theodosius I and II, to the point where true STJM is utterly lost and buried by Hellenism — they still cannot see how well the dots lineup EVEN IN CRAYONS!!!

        Great stuff Steve. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Professor Taboo — August 15, 2018 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

        • The sad thing is I think the divinity schools (there’s a misnomer, eh?) know this but, heck, if they will cover up rampant child abuse top protect their privileges, this is nothing.

          On Wed, Aug 15, 2018 at 1:23 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 16, 2018 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  2. You draw you conclusions on man therefore they are wrong

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    Comment by Ron — August 17, 2018 @ 1:57 am | Reply

    • I would base my arguments upon your god’s direct sayings, but he doesn’t show up and defend his positions. He did show up, according to you, and stayed for thirty plus years, but that was in disguise. If he would do the same, without the disguise, I am sure a great many questions would be answered … for all time.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 17, 2018 @ 8:40 am | Reply

      • Most people do not know how to read the semitic languages.

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        Comment by Ron — August 17, 2018 @ 11:06 am | Reply

        • The NT was written entirely in Greek. Are you saying that Greek is a semitic language?

          On Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 11:06 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 17, 2018 @ 12:09 pm | Reply

          • The aramaic language is Old Testament. Do you know the three books of the bible are n Rev 21?

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            Comment by Ron — August 17, 2018 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

            • None of the books of the OT are in Aramaic, they are in Biblical Hebrew. Aramaic was the street language of the early centuries of the first millennium in Palestine, along with Greek, being both spoken and written. As Rome grew in influence, Latin got thrown into the mix. When the Roman empire was split, so did the Orthodox Christian Church, the eastern half of which was often was referred to as The Greek Orthodox church.

              On Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 12:30 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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              Liked by 1 person

              Comment by Steve Ruis — August 17, 2018 @ 1:03 pm | Reply

              • It is a cousin of the Aramaic languages which all stem from the semitic languages including Greek. The cradle of civilization lay between the four heads of rivers that flowed from the garden.

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                Comment by Ron — August 17, 2018 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

                • I believe you are mistaking Semitic languages with the Indo-European language.

                  On Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 1:54 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                  Comment by Steve Ruis — August 18, 2018 @ 10:51 am | Reply

          • There are 3 books 3 heavens

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            Comment by Ron — August 17, 2018 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  3. You should read perhaps some of Bertrand Russell’s ‘A History of Western Philosophy’ for some interesting similarities between plato’s and the christian doctrines. Especially Plato’s cosmogeny, its as if the Christians thought Plato was Jesus

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    Comment by Rexona — October 11, 2018 @ 3:45 am | Reply

    • Well, if you dont want to read, you could possibly just look into ‘Apology’ and similarities between the crucifixion and Socrates’ death and similarities in Platos theory regarding how and why God created the universe

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      Comment by Rexona — October 11, 2018 @ 3:47 am | Reply

  4. Though Timeus is for the cosmogeny

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    Comment by Rexona — October 11, 2018 @ 3:47 am | Reply


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