Uncommon Sense

November 26, 2022

All You Need is Love, Wait . . .

Christians of the evangelical sort are told frequently that all they need is faith, but actually that is not true. They are also told that they need to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior — that if they didn’t they weren’t “saved,” and they would go to hell. (Someday I am going to have to write about accepting someone as one’s “lord.”)

Then I ran across this statement on my Quora feed:

Christianity is a set of incentives that erode our own internal resources. And minimizes our access to them. In return, the only “resource” we are provided with is faith. Faith to me is something much more toxic even than a faulty epistemology. It is a gateway drug to an addiction to being right. (Vincent Downing)

Wow! “Christianity is a set of incentives that erode our own internal resources. And minimizes our access to them.” I should have realized this before, that Christianity of the evangelical sort is a system that makes people dependent upon the religion by reducing their own abilities. The phrase “Jesus take the wheel” sums up this belief. Jesus never passed his driver’s test, so this is not meant literally. It is meant that Jesus is to take control of one’s life and steer it, brake it, speed it up, etc. It means that control over one’s life is to be placed elsewhere. (Of course Jesus is nowhere to be found, so the church steps in as his general factotum.)

If you look at the skills a modern adult needs to thrive in our culture, they are myriad. One needs patience, resilience, grit, persistence, intelligence, intuition, reasoning ability, logic, . . . , compassion, love, empathy, hand-eye coordination, a sense of direction, etc.

But these Christians are taught that when then need a little help that they are to trust in God/Jesus for that help, and they need not learn and practice the life skills needed to thrive.

It is all about creating a dependence upon the church.

The church, of course, cannot be seen to be unreliable or untrustworthy, or even incorrect, which is why they deny vehemently any wrong doing, even when caught with their pants down (literally), and this is where the second part of the above quotation comes in “It is a gateway drug to an addiction to being right.”

So, churches need to emphasize why they are “right” and the others are “wrong” otherwise they could lose adherents, aka paying customers. They just cannot say that other faiths/religions are okay as that would be marketing suicide. This explains why there are between 30,000 and 40,000 different sects of Christianity. Each one has to insist that about some point, be it minor or major, they are right and the others, all of the others, are wrong.

For example, evangelicals have a hard time calling Catholics “Christians.” According to them, Catholics aren’t “saved.” Apply this thinking to the vast number of Christian sects and you arrive at only one of them being “correct” and all of the others are leading their congregants to Hell. Imagine that, the vast majority of Christians are going to Hell, and that is according to other Christians.

Outside of theological matters, we can see what this level of thinking is doing to our (American) politics. Rather than seeking out compromises as was done for generations, modern pols insist they are right and that the others are not only wrong, but they are evil and should be destroyed. Egad! Where did this extreme political rhetoric come from? (You know now, don’t you.)

September 20, 2022

I Wonder . . .

Filed under: History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:45 pm
Tags: ,

I just finished reading “The Jesus Dynasty” which concluded that Jesus had a human father, that he was a faithful Jew who sincerely felt that the Kingdom of God was “nigh” and that he would precipitate God’s intervention on Earth to establish that Kingdom. His message was “repent your suns,” and obey God’s commandments to prepare your way. Oh, and the resurrection didn’t happen literally, just “spiritually.”

Then he issued his belief that Christianity could move forward from this position, even though almost all of the basic tenants of Christianity were made moot, because “. . . at the core of all forms of Christianity are the teachings of Jesus, and more than any other factor, it is the compelling portrait of Jesus that has attracted so many to this faith.”

Now, he says this after saying “The message Jesus preached was transformed into the person of Jesus as the message—the proclamation that Christ (aka Jesus) had come and died for the sins of the world.”

So, if Christians were to accept Jesus as discovered by the author, they would have to give up his miraculous birth, his resurrection, and Heaven and Hell, his “sacrifice as the “Lamb of God,” sin forgiveness, and more and still be Christians.

Amazing.

My mind is boggled that someone could think this.

Allow me to gauge the impact of the elimination of just Heaven and Hell from Christianity. If the promise of glory in Heaven or punishment in Hell were to be removed from Christianity, I suspect that church membership would plummet. Granted there are “Christians” who believe when we die we are dead and that is all (Scandinavian Lutherans?) but in this country, most Christians state that they will be reunited with their loved ones in Heaven and that their enemies would suffer eternal torment in Hell.

Imagine is there were no “immortality,” no “life after death,” no “meeting of dead relatives” or for that matter, meeting “Jesus in the Sky.” Christians would be free to do all of the raping, killing, and looting they say us atheists are. They would also be free from tithing, church attendance, etc. as the “carrot and stick approach” of Christianity would no longer exist.

And really, if you were to ask the average Christian what Jesus’s teachings were, what do you think you’d get in response? If those “teachings” are the primary attraction to Christianity I would expect people to go on quite a bit. Instead, what you get is the Golden Rule, and love your neighbor, and maybe love God with all your heart, and . . . and . . . <cricket, cricket, cricket>.

August 1, 2022

Christian Anti-Abortion Zealots

So much about Christianity is incoherent, and the anti-abortion stances of many Christians is probably at the top of the list.

Ask yourself what do Christians believe about birth, life, and death. They claim to believe that fetuses are “ensouled” at some stage in their development. I have to say “at some stage” because various Christian groups are all over the place as to when this happens. (The people who say that this happens at conception are undermining their own point. Estimates are all over the place by a typical one is “The proportion of fertilized eggs that produce a live full-term baby (in the absence of contraceptive measures) is not known precisely, but is probably only 40%.” So, if that is the case, then over half of the souls implanted end up being recycled . . . normally! I am sure God wouldn’t make such an inefficient system. Surely ensoulment occurs at a later, less precarious, stage.)

So, we are ensouled, we live and hopefully find Jesus, and then we die, at which point our soul leaves our body and for our body, well, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, discarded like so much trash. Our soul is what goes to Heaven.

So, if one accepts this Christian worldview, what happens during an abortion? If it happens before ensoulment (the old folks called this quickening), what is lost is a small amount of tissue. No harm no foul happens to the soul. If the fetus is ensouled, when the abortion occurs, what happens to the soul? Does the soul die? Apparently souls are immortal, so the soul doesn’t die, just the body being grown for it wasn’t able to full receive the download, so the soul has to go back into storage. (For science fiction fans, this is like stories in which one’s personality can be downloaded into a computer, and then a clone grown and the personality downloaded into it, and voilà, immortality ensues.)

So, that “aborted soul” goes back into storage (or the loving arms of God, whichever is your preference), and gets its chance another time with another mother.

So, where is the harm?

Harm would occur is the soul was forced into a body distorted by disease and disablements. You can argue all you want about all the lessons to be learned by the disabled (think Steven Hawking) but if you were to give them the options of their malformed body and a sound and whole one, which do you think they would choose? How about if the family (were there one) was unable to care for the child, to feed and clothe it and provide medical care, and love? No, these zealots claim that that soul has to go into that body, even if the body is ectopic, that is dead already, though it is still in the mother.

If these Christians were at all the people of the faith they claim, they would see that abortions are in no way damaging to the souls they claim are the real us.

So, why are they so anti-abortion? It all comes down to power. When people who have no observable power, get an opportunity to wield some, they tend to go whole hog and not think about what they are doing. So, “forgive them, they know not what they do” is right on point. They are viciously against abortions, even though their faith says there is nothing wrong with them.

April 4, 2022

Are You A Real Christian™?

There is a test and to prove you are a Real Christian™ you will have to pass it. This test is based upon an article written by Dan Foster on Medium.com (What Jesus Actually Said). This article lists the 49 commandments of Jesus the Christ. To save you some time, I recreated the list below, without Dan’s always brilliant commentary. Note—These have been rephrased from what the scripture directly says. And, as always, I recommend you read the whole original article if you are interested.

The 49 Commandments of Jesus the Christ

  1. Turn your life around (repent) Matthew 4:17.
  2. Follow my example Matthew 4:19.
  3. Be happy if others put you down Matthew 5:11–12.
  4. Shine! (Matthew 5:16).
  5. Reconcile with your enemies (Matthew 5:23–25).
  6. Do not lust Matthew 5:28–30.
  7. Keep your word Matthew 5:37.
  8. Turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
  9. Go above and beyond (Matthew 5:41–42).
  10. Love your enemies Matthew 5:44–46.
  11. Live generously and graciously Matthew 48.
  12. Don’t show off your generosity (Matthew 6:1–18).
  13. Do things that matter eternally Matthew 6:19–21.
  14. Seek God first (Matthew 6:31–33).
  15. Don’t judge others Matthew 7:1–3.
  16. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans Matthew 7:6.
  17. Ask, seek, knock  Matthew 7:7–8.
  18. Treat others as you’d like to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
  19. Don’t look for shortcuts to God (Matthew 7:13–14).
  20. Look for character, not charisma Matthew 7:15–16.
  21. Pray for more helpers (Matthew 9:37–38).
  22. Be wise and inoffensive Matthew 10:16.
  23. Don’t be afraid Matthew 10:28.
  24. Listen to God’s voice Matthew 11:15.
  25. Cast your burdens onto him Matthew 11:28–30.
  26. Honor your parents Matthew 15:4.
  27. Beware of performance-based religion Matthew 16:6.
  28. Don’t run from suffering Luke 9:23–25.
  29. Be kind to children Matthew 18:10.
  30. Restore broken relationships Matthew 18:15–17.
  31. Don’t be greedy  Luke 12:15.
  32. Forgive others Matthew 18:21–22.
  33. Don’t split those who God has brought together Matthew 19:4–6.
  34. Serve others Matthew 20:26–28.
  35. Use the church for what it was intended Matthew 21.
  36. Don’t doubtMatthew 21:21–22: .
  37. Invite in the outcast Luke 14:12–14.
  38. Respect authority (Matthew 22:19–21).
  39. Love God (Matthew 22:37–38).
  40. Love others (Matthew 22:39–40).
  41. Be ready to go Matthew 24:42–44.
  42. Remember me  Matthew 26:26–28.
  43. Start a new life John 3:5–7.
  44. Don’t walk into temptation (Matthew 26:41).
  45. Care for others John 21:15–16.
  46. Baptize those who believe (Matthew 28:19)
  47. Let God’s power be your strength Luke 24:49.
  48. Teach others to live like me Matthew 28:20.
  49. Keep My Commandments (John 14:15).

Comments

Citations
4 in gLuke
3 in gJohn
42 in gMatthew

At first I was a little taken aback that there were no citations from gMark, and then I remembered that over 90% of Mark was included verbatim in gMatthew.

I would also add that there is absolutely nothing new in these “teachings,” that is all of the precepts were available prior to the time these were supposedly taught. No great innovations, no new understandings, nada.

The Test!
Okay, now is the time to take the Real Christian™ Test, which will determine whether you are a Real Christian™ or not! Basically, all you have to do is go down the list: Give yourself 2, 1, or 0 points for each commandment if: 2–you do this almost always, 1–you do this off and on, or 0–You rarely or never do this.

Go ahead, I will wait.

Now sum up all of those numbers. A perfect score for a follower of Jesus the Christ would be 98 but that is unlikely. So, how high do you have to score to qualify? Well, to even be considered, you have to score  . . . higher than atheists score.

I took the test and there were more than a few guaranteed zeros, being an atheist and all: #2, 13, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 25, 33, 35, 36, 39, 46, 48, 49. You cannot profess to not believe in this god and do those things with any sincerity. So, there are 30 points an atheist can’t claim, so a score of 68 is a line of demarcation (98 – 30 = 68). If you score above 68, you are guaranteed to be better than any stinking atheist!

I scored 36. So, if you can’t beat 36, then you aren’t following Jesus any more than an atheist does. But then my score may be high or low compared to the scores other atheists might achieve, so if you know any (or are one), if you can convince them to take the test or take it yourself, you might list your score in the comments below. I am sure other test takers will be grateful.

Have fun!

Addendum If you pass this test and in the future someone claims you are not a Real Christian™ or a True Christian™, you can point out that you are certified to be so by the Real Christian™ Test and challenge them to take the test themselves!

February 16, 2022

Is It “The Problem with Christianity is Christians” or “The Problem with Christians is Christianity?”

To be clear it is not generally atheists making either of these claims. The claim that “The Problem with Christianity is Christians” is made by all those, usually evangelical, Christians who claim that we atheists paint them with a broad brush. It is only a tiny minority of Christians who are acting badly, they say, and besides those people aren’t ‘True Christians™” in any case. But then, there are also tens of thousands of Christian denominations, each of which claims that they are right and the others are wrong in some way. Consequently, “The Problem with Christians is Christianity” in that those “other” Christians are being led astray by their church leaders, who are, of course, “false leaders.” For example, my evangelical Christian sister thinks that Catholics aren’t true Christians. (Of course, evangelicals will state at the drop of a hat that a third of the world population are Christians and they all can’t be wrong (which of course is exactly what Christians are saying about one another) but if you exclude Catholics, which comprise 50% of all Christians, then the fraction of the world’s population which is “Christian” drops to about 17%, well behind Muslims. Some of their propaganda doesn’t seem to be at all well thought out.)

So, which is it, do you think, of the two statements in the title?

I think it is both. And, no they are not mutually exclusive choices. This is not like the dichotomies we are so fond of, e.g. “there are only two kinds of people: cat lovers and cat non-lovers,” etc.

The mere fact that there are between 30,000 and 40,000 denominations of Christianity tells us a lot. Not just that Christians are obstreperous and can’t get along, but that no one of those 30,000-40,000 could find enough common ground with one of the others to say “Good enough, mate; let’s pray together.” Instead, each of those groups claims that they are right and the others are wrong, but to an outsider like me, it seems to be more about power. The “church leaders” of these “denominations” would rather be king of a small tribe, rather than a minor leader of a small cadre in a big tribe. Once again, Christian leaders fail at their most basic mission, supplanting it with the seeking of personal power.

Similarly, most Christians go along with those leader’s nonsense. They would rather sit in their pews, smug in the knowledge that they are right and the others will burn in Hell. So much for “love thy neighbor.”

Many people misunderstand Yahweh’s commandments. The commandment of “love thy neighbor” meant that Hebrews/Jews should love the Hebrews/Jews living near them. Jews were insular. They were forbidden to marry gentiles. They were forbidden to eat with gentiles. They were forbidden to eat food cooked by gentiles. They were told to live together and not allow gentiles into their neighborhoods. So, when the word “neighbor” is used in the Bible, it means “fellow Hebrew/Jew” not just the people living around you as so many claim it means. Many times they are implicit in the rules “Thou shalt not murder (other Hebrews/Jews) becasue killing gentiles was often commanded by Yahweh himself. If Christians were to take these commandments of Yahweh/Jesus to heart, they would be expected to “love thy fellow Christians.” Protestants should love Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses should love Mormons, and so on. See any evidence of that? Any at all? Gosh, an outsider like me could interpret that as “The Problem with Christianity is Christians.” No?

February 1, 2021

All The Different Jesi

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:21 pm
Tags: , ,

(What is the plural of Jesus anyway? Jesi? Jesuses?)

Many Christians search for an historical Jesus to finally learn what he was really like. And this began before TV was invented, so the need to know by inquiring minds seems to be a longstanding attribute of people.

Jesus has been characterized as a brilliant teacher, a moral paragon, an admirable healer, an anti-authoritarian figure and on and on, but does that make “him” so? Let’s look at some of these roles.

Jesus Was a Brilliant Teacher
This is a frequent claim, but there is no evidence of it. Certainly, modern Christians do not seem to have accepted his teachings per se. And, it is clear that Jesus’s teachings are overrated. Not a single thing he is claimed to have taught was original to him. For those fixated on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew) or the Sermon on the Plain (Luke)—wait, there are no contradictions in the Bible!—one must wonder why the earliest gospel, Mark, didn’t include a version of this oh-so-important sermon. How could old Saint Mark have missed this? It is almost as if Luke and Matthew invented the thing out of whole cloth.

Conclusion Jesus was a brilliant teacher—not.

Jesus was a Moral Paragon
Jesus demanded absolute submission to him from his followers, and he damned one and all who did not wish to follow him. He egotistically set himself up as the only conduit to God. He focused on the need for each of his followers to be obedient to none but him, to the exclusion of anyone else with whom the follower may have had social, moral, or emotional obligations.

All of this may undermine Jesus’s status as a paragon of virtue, but overwhelming all of that is the fact that Jesus invented Hell/Hellfire/the Lake of Fire, etc. The Jew’s idea of the afterlife was Sheol, a shambling gray/dark space we inhabited after death. No eternal barbecue, just time in a very quiet space to examine one’s life if one hadn’t bothered to do that while alive. No interruptions by screams of torment, just eternal quiet.

Instead of Sheol, Christians get eternal punishment for finite, even trivial, infractions. OMG! Was there ever a better argument for not converting to Christianity?

Conclusion Jesus was a Moral Paragon—not.

Jesus Was an Admirable Healer
Really? You would accept this claim for someone who healed by casting out demons and by performing magic. (Some people object to the claim Jesus used magic, but the use of spittle, mud, etc. were common magical props is unmistakable. If he were all-powerful, no such magically processes would have been needed, maybe just hand wave or the snap of the fingers, or why not just heal the people without drawing attention to himself! Imagine that, healing people without getting props. It is claimed that Jesus did healings to promote his message. Does this mean that Jesus could not make himself understood otherwise? This all-powerful god is show some major powers creep.

Conclusion Jesus was a admirable healer—not.

Jesus Was an Anti-Authoritarian Figure
This is just plain silly. Jesus was pushing, pushing, pushing for the Kingdom of God to be implemented on Earth. And what was this kingdom? It was an authoritarian kingdom with Yahweh at the top of the organization chart. Each of the disciples, remember, fantasized about being given a kingship over one of the “nations” to rule over, with of course, Yahweh/Jesus at the top of the org chart. In the Bible there are no white people and there is no democracy, but we have myriad Christians now banging the drums for an American theo-democracy, led by white people.

Conclusion Jesus was an anti-authoritarian figure—not.

* * *

So, WTF???
So, why do all of these false claims about Jesus exist? I blame the Apologists. While you can study such things as apologetics in colleges, there is no such title or certificate one can earn.

The ancient Greek word apologia means “defense” and Christian apologists (William L. Craig, and his ilk) are “defenders of the Faith.” (That is a title you can be awarded by certain churches but not a title one can apply for.)

Christian apologists are fan boys of Jesus and can only say nice things about him. For example, here are some questions and typical apologetic answers:
Q: Was Jesus tall?
A: Oh, yes, Jesus was tall.
Q: Was Jesus good-looking?
A: Yes, Jesus was quite handsome.
Q: Was Jesus good in school?
A: Jesus, it is told, was a straight A student.
Q: Did Jesus ever do anything naughty as a child?
A: Jesus was a perfect child . . . put down that copy of The Infancy Gospel of Jesus . . . lies, all lies.
Q: Was Jesus good to his mother?
A: Jesus was the perfect son, except when his mother was a bitch and then he had to put her in her place.
Q: Was Jesus a good carpenter?
A: Jesus was such a good carpenter, that buyers for all of the royals, even stretching to Rome, vied to buy his pieces. He made his family very wealthy, which was why they were upset when he took to the road. They thought he should stay closer to the business.

I think you get the idea (they make shit up). Was he a good teacher? The best, Jesus was the best teacher, ever. Right.

September 5, 2020

The God Feature of Omnipresence

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:56 am
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In a recent post I wrote “We claim that this (Christian) god hears our prayers and may act upon them right away. We also claim that this god is omnipresent, that he is always observing you and listening to you speak. Is this really necessary? It involves a human foible, that of someone needing to be within “ear shot” to witness what you say . . . and within line of sight to see what you do. Is this “power” necessary for this particular god? Absolutely not. If he is all-knowing, he already knows all that you have said and will say and do. He doesn’t need to be “there” to witness your prayer or your actions.” The reason is simple: because he already has.

God has perfect memory of the past . . . and the future. Whereas we “think back” to recall a memory, this god can “think forward” to recall an event that hasn’t yet happened, but will.

My conclusion in that previous post was that “omnipresence” is an unnecessary claim for any god which is all-knowing. It is an indicator that this god is made up because it contains human frailties coded into it, a being which supposedly has no human frailties.

So, why do theists insist that the Christian god is omnipresent? I think it has to do with human nature also. Imagine a Christian confronting a friend contemplating some sort of sinful behavior. Which, do you think, will be the more effective argument? Telling them that “God” will be there seeing and hearing what they do? or telling them “God” already knows what you will do and he will punish you. Human nature says, “well if I am to be punished I might as well get my money’s worth.” (Anyone who has raised a teenager has encountered this attitude.)

So, Christians have transformed their god into a Voyeur God to make it a more effective weapon in controlling the behavior of others. Having a god who watches you when you are voiding your bowels or bladder hardly seems attractive. I guess if it matters which hand you use, there will have to be some oversight. And, sex of course. God watches all of that kinky stuff and takes mental notes or possible they are automatically recorded in big books that will be consulted when you are at the pearly gates being judged (or whenever a cherubim is feeling horny and needs some help getting off).

Something is definitely sick here, and I don’t think it is this god. Being imaginary makes so many of its actions second hand, don’t you think?

August 27, 2020

Assembling God

Filed under: Culture,History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:54 am
Tags: ,

The god of Christianity, Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost didn’t show up in scripture fully formed. His powers kind of grew like Topsy, created on the fly by ordinary human beings.

Some of these are logical consequences and some are hidden presumptions. For example, claiming that this god is all-knowing means that in order to “recall” any fact from his memory, he only needs to recall the past or future action. This requires this god to have one hell of a memory, but is not unthinkable. But there are inherent problems associated with claiming this power for this god. Here is a typical question on Quora asking about this consequence. “If God knows my whole life from beginning to end, did he imagine me before he created me? If he imagined all the things I will say and do, is it him being me doing these things? I imagine people doing whatever but it’s not them doing what they do.” Basically this question is asking that if this god knows everything I am going to do, do I have free will? The straightforward answer is an obvious “no” and the consequence is we should not be held accountable for our actions because we were programmed by god to do those things. I will leave it to you to unpack these arguments because they have been around for almost all of human history.

Other consequences are somewhat loaded with creator responsibility. (Not Creator responsibility, but creator responsibility.) We claim that this god hears our prayers and may act upon them right away. We also claim that this god is omnipresent, that he is always observing you and listening to you speak. Is this really necessary? It involves a human foible, that of someone needing to be within “ear shot” to witness what you say . . . and within “line of sight” to see what you do. Is this necessary of this particular god? Absolutely not. If he is all-knowing, he already knows all that you have said and will say and do. He doesn’t need to be “there” to witness your prayer or your actions. He doesn’t even need to show up to perform the miracle you are praying for. He can do anything remotely, plus the fact that he has tens of thousands of angels on the payroll, most of the time sitting around eating his food and drinking his wine, the lazy bastards can be sent to do some work for once. And, since the all-knowing god already knows, he can schedule this angel to do that task, months, years, or millennia ahead of time to avoid any time pressure.

So, being omnipresent is a useless power for such a god. It is only there because of human assumptions about how humans behave, not gods. And this is not the only example of a god’s powers being woven out of thin air, cut from whole cloth, etc.

Consider why Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost has “messengers” or “helpers.” So, why?

Basically this is because they were created in the previous tradition, by the creators ofYahweh, and Jesus was “the Son,” so they had to be kept in Christianity. The baggage, of course, involves devils, demons, and a whole zoo of other supernatural beings in attendance on this god.

But are they needed? You’ve probably heard this argument before. This god has demonstrated the ability to think things into existence (whole galaxies, etc.) and communicate across vast distances. So, does he need “helpers” of any kind? The answer is “no.” In fact assigning a task to an angel (or cherubim, or . . .) takes as much effort or more that doing it himself, just by thinking whatever he wants into existence.

Some claim that these beings are there for purposes of companionship. Companionship is something people need, by does this god? The answer is no. This god is claimed to be perfect, whole, and needing of nothing.

But then . . . this is the god who punished Lucifer for the sin of pride and who created an entire species of sentient beings … to worship him. Remember the speck in your brother’s eye and the beam in yours story. Yeah, like that.

 

August 25, 2020

The Cancel Culture—Real or Imagined?

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:43 am
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On the Vridar web site, Neil Godfrey was reviewing a compilation of essays in honor of biblical scholar Thomas L. Thompson.

He began with “Why a volume of essays in honour of Thomas L. Thompson? The opening paragraph of the Introduction explains (with my highlighting):

Thomas L. Thompson has been, for the past five decades, behind some of the – if not all – major changes in Old Testament historiography, if we consider that his criticism of the patriarchal narratives, the exodus and settlement and the United Monarchy were each at their own time forerunners of what later on would become accepted in the field (Thompson 1974, 1987, 1992, 1999).

See below for those four titles. The first, 1974, was met at the time with such opposition that it left him “unemployed and unemployable for ten years”. The 1992 work precipitated his expulsion from Marquette University.”

Thomas Thompson’s Significant Books (I have read the fourth.)

Historically, the largest exponent of the cancel culture has been organized religion. If your beliefs contradicted theirs, you lost your job, in Thompson’s case multiple times, or had a hard time finding a job, or you lost your freedom by being locked up, or even your life. (Burn, Heretic, burn!)

The telling feature in this case was that Thompson was being punished . . . for being right. His heretical opinions have become “accepted in the field.”

August 9, 2020

Monotheism was Inevitable, Right? Wrong.

Filed under: Culture,History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
Tags: , , ,

I wrote a rather long answer to a question on Quora and I decided to share that argument here in a post. The question was asking about the numbers of gods in the existing religions. Plus, it is Sunday and this is usually time for a religious post.

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That the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) have only one god is a political outcome, not a theological one. The theology was created to support the political outcome.

Historically, religions threw in their lot with kings to acquire state power. I know more of Christianity, so I draw my examples from it. Christianity sucked up mightily to the Roman Empire early in the first millennium to acquire the power of that state. (It worked, the Romans spread Christianity widely.) But, weren’t the Romans the ones that crucified their god? Apparently that little fact didn’t deter the lust for state power. Rome had the most state power, so suck up to Rome was the plan.

At the same time, secular rulers realized that religion was a more effective tool in getting people to obey than soldiers were. Plus. if they got in a contest with religion, there would be winners and losers, but if they formed a coalition, instead, they would both be winners.

Now consider a king with many gods, many priests, and many visionaries/prophets/etc. When a decision had to be made, which would the king rather do: negotiate with many god’s representatives as to what to do or negotiate with just one such representative, a representative the king could treat well (bribe) and with suitable arguments (bribes) get the recommendation the king desired. (God is on our side in the coming conflict—quick, send this message to the troops.)

We ended up with large monotheistic religions primarily because of politics.

Think about it! If there really were only one god, would that god have allowed his creation, mankind, to create such a large number of imaginary gods (thousands of them!). No, the one and only True God™ would have nipped that in the bud and everyone would have acknowledged that there was but one god from the beginning.

In the Bible the evidence therein shows that it took over a thousand years for the Hebrews to go from polytheism, to monolatry (the worship of one god without denial of the existence of other gods), to monotheism. Mostly monotheism was forced on the people by the priests and kings (Hint: the elites!). There was no public support for such a concept and scripture didn’t demand it . . . until it became secular policy and then scripture was “adjusted.” (Look up King Josiah if you are dubious.)

 

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