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Theists... Satan?

post #1 of 119
Thread Starter 
I don't like 'em.

...just kidding.

Actually, I like theists of all stripes quite a bit. I wouldn't call myself 'a believer', but I'm quite intrigued by theological readings of just about everything. You can get good mileage out of a little superstition and a little psychology, and, with my never quite genuine scholarship, I need as many quick and dirty intellectual tricks as I can find. I've noticed a lot of theists on this little board. Not surprising, given the inate compatibilities of a tech fetish with a God fetish. So, I'm curious: Whaddya all make of the devil and demons? Not really evil, too philosophical. In your opinions, does the intimacy of demons and devils still impress upon modern social forms? Or is it mostly just an archaism now?
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post #2 of 119
This is an essay I found on a hotline server not too long ago...
[quote] The Problems with Hell
ender wiggins

This essay is intended to focus on my problems with the so-called 'Christian' concept of 'hell.' According to Christians (the Catholics at least) hell is supposed to be a "state" in which a person is completely separate from God. But there is also the more traditional belief (that actually held by most of the people with which I converse) that Hell is a place where you will be eternally tortured/burned/etc. Now, you must understand that I am an atheist, specifically meaning that I don't believe in the existence of God. This essay will examine both the classical and contemporary definitions of 'Hell,' and will in turn show just how crooked, perverted and nonsensical they are. Then I will try to explore some reasons why Christianity felt the need to create the idea of Hell in the first place.

So let us first examine the idea of Hell as a place where sinners go to be tortured. According to Christian mythology, it is said that Lucifer, an angel, lead a rebellion against God. For this reason, he was basically damned to Hell, given the name Satan, and was suddenly in charge of the "Torture the Sinners" department. First of all, this story doesn't make any sense. Think about it. Angels are supposed to be completely unsullied -- that is, they are pure, perfect, etc. Obviously, since Christians say that God is omniscient, he could not have created a sinful angel. One might say that he created the angel but did not know he would become sinful. Well that's a useless argument. First of all, a sinful angel is an oxymoron. If an angel is supposed to be pristine and holy, then it is a logical impossibility for it to become sinful. And the other problem follows this -- if God is supposedly omniscient and perfect, then it wouldn't make sense that he's make an imperfect being. And because he's omniscient, he must have known that the angel would become sinful. But let's forget about the numerous problems with the myth of Lucifer's fall to Hell, and analyze more closely the symbolism involved. If Satan was rebelling against God, that must logically mean that he didn't agree with God's rules. Not only that, it means that he was unwilling to follow any of God's rules. Therefor we must conclude that Satan is unholy and recalcitrant in following orders.

So then we are told that if a human is sinful on earth, doesn't follow God's orders, or is a member of another religion, that he will be condemned to spend eternity in Hell. Well isn't that just great. This concept has so many logical fallacies it's amazing that people today continue believing it. Satan is supposedly the ruler of Hell, the Prince of Darkness. It's his role to punish the sinners who come to Hell by burning them alive, etc., etc. Wait a minute -- I thought that Satan himself was unholy and sinful, not to mention rebellious. How does it follow that if you are evil (according to Christians) and Satan is evil (according to Christians) that Satan would punish you? I mean, speaking from experience here, normally people who act the same get along well with each other. So would not Satan rejoice and become elated when a person goes to Hell? After all, it is God who intended us to be punished. Satan wouldn't carry out God's orders because he's rebellious. Would he not befriend for you also were unholy and sinful? Makes sense to me. Satan doesn't seem like that bad of a guy.

But let us now look at the more contemporary stance of the church on the concept of 'Hell.' They basically define it as a 'state' where you have complete separation from God. What the hell does that mean? Am I the only one who doesn't understand it? I'll take some educated stabs at what I think it means, but it appears to me that the church purposely made the definition vague and incomprehensible. Maybe they realized that Hell is an immense contradiction to their faith. The church says it's like a 'state.' I take this to mean that it isn't truly a 'place' as is generally the consensus among the church members. So, does that mean that when you die your consciousness continues to function, but that no 'goodness' can enter your thoughts? It seems to me that it's impossible to have your mind functioning without anything for it to be in, or in relation to. When you get down to the workings of the mind, all of the information in your mind comes from external, outside sources. (Because of course the only thing one can know is that he exists.) Therefore, if 'hell' is merely a state, there would be no way to have any thinking at all, because there is nothing 'external' to you and hence you cannot have anything contained in your mind. Wow, doesn't that just contradict the idea of an afterlife/soul. But let's forget the problems with the language of the definition of Hell. What does it mean to have complete separation from God? I'm an atheist, and hence I am separate from 'god,' so does that mean that I am in (if you can say 'in') Hell right now? I mean, I obviously don't adhere to God's will, much less kowtow to Him. I think it's logically possible for me to say that I am separated from God. Therefor, I must be in Hell. And because the only place in which I am is Earth (or the universe), it follows logically that the universe must be hell.

Wow, that's quite shocking. Of course, I could be 'misinterpreting' the definition of hell. But it's not like the church made it to be understandable. Things like that can be taken to mean whatever the hell you want, and I'm sure the people of the Church know it. So they'll just say I'm wrong. But hell, it makes sense to me (a hell of a lot more sense than the church makes of it.) But let's get to my last problem with the idea of Hell. The problem here deals with Hell's origins. Most Christians are adept enough to realize that God could not be in charge of Hell, a place where there is no God. Right. Makes sense to me. But then there is no way of instilling fear into men, and hence making them become Christians. What does one do? Well, they'll look at other religions of the time, take their beliefs, and call them there own. It's a lot like the way Microsoft runs it's business. For instance, most of the Christian belief in angels, hell, demons, Lucifer, etc., come from the Zoroastrian religion. The Zoroastrians had already developed a complex theology around the constant struggle between angels and demons. So, seeing the good opportunity, the Christians stole their belief and tried to incorporate it into their own theology. Big mistake. They failed...miserably. The problem revolves around the idea that the Christian god is loving, caring, forgiving, etc. It makes no sense then to say that God punishes you after your death if you don't follow all of his little rules. Therefore, there must be some 'evil' agent who tortures men in Hell! Aha! But this brings us back to our whole problem with Satan. It is also important to note that because Christians believe that God created everything, then it must necessarily follow that he created Hell. Wow, and this is supposed to be a loving and forgiving God? I knew the Christians were twisted...but sadistic?

Think what you, and believe what you may, but I'm not afraid of going to hell. Of course, I don't believe that it exists at all, but even supposing it did, I still wouldn't be afraid. Personally, I would prefer to be hanging out with Satan. He seems like a pretty decent guy. And even considering the modern definition, I wouldn't mind being in a state without God. Maybe it would allow me to think more purely and to be less sullied by the adverse affects of religion. The purpose of this essay wasn't to bash Christians for being contradictory, ignorant, non creative bastards. I only intend to show why the Christian concept of Hell is so utterly incomprehensible, illogical, and...wrong. <hr></blockquote>

A little strong worded with some faulty logic, but the basic idea makes sence... Hell is an invention of the catholic chuch...
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post #3 of 119
I found this poll about "belief in Satan as a living entity": [quote]
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) 59%
Assembly of God: 56%
Christian - non-denominational (mostly Fundamentalist) 48%
Pentecostal / Foursquare: 47%
Seventh-day Adventist: 37%
Church of Christ: 36%
Baptist: 34%
Presbyterian: 22%
Lutheran: 21%
Episcopal: 20%
Methodist: 18%
Roman Catholics: 17% <hr></blockquote>
[edit:
<a href="http://www.barna.org/cgi-bin/PagePressRelease.asp?PressReleaseID=92&Reference=A " target="_blank">Here's the link.</a> There's quite a lot of other interesting figures from the survey about all kinds of different beliefs among denominations.

[ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: BRussell ]</p>
post #4 of 119
Thread Starter 
Interesting. I wonder why exorcism has found renewed vigor (and not just among the poor/uneducated simpletons). Are these numbers higher or lower than numbers from 10 years ago?
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post #5 of 119
At first I had no idea what "Theists" meant...

Oh, The...we believe in The...God Bless The...

Anyways...

<a href="http://www.visi.com/~markg/atheists.html" target="_blank">Here are Famous Dead Non-Theists...</a>

It's an HTML file...about 135 KB's long... <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" />
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post #6 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by psantora:
<strong>This is an essay I found on a hotline server not too long ago...

* snip *

A little strong worded with some faulty logic, but the basic idea makes sence... Hell is an invention of the catholic chuch...</strong><hr></blockquote>

Not only faulty logic, but he really doesn't have any idea of the Christian concept of hell. Sinners do not go to hell to be tortured, that was never a belief or teaching of the church. Satan does not rule hell, and he does not torture sinners. The author also does not understand the role of angels, what "good" means with respect to God, the entire concept of the soul, or the history of Hell and Hades in the Christian church.

I certainly hope this essay isn't indicative of the current state of critical thinking among the atheistic community.
post #7 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

Not only faulty logic, but he really doesn't have any idea of the Christian concept of hell. Sinners do not go to hell to be tortured, that was never a belief or teaching of the church. Satan does not rule hell, and he does not torture sinners. The author also does not understand the role of angels, what "good" means with respect to God, the entire concept of the soul, or the history of Hell and Hades in the Christian church.

I certainly hope this essay isn't indicative of the current state of critical thinking among the atheistic community.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Shoot you beat me to it. Almost everything you said here was what I was going to say. Spooky... <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />
NoahJ
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post #8 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by NoahJ:
<strong>
Shoot you beat me to it. Almost everything you said here was what I was going to say. Spooky... <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" /> </strong><hr></blockquote>

Well, we have to disagree about something. Um, a 500MHz G4 is faster than a 2.2GHz P4! See, I've got these BYTEmarks here...
post #9 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>I certainly hope this essay isn't indicative of the current state of critical thinking among the atheistic community.</strong><hr></blockquote>Wow, "the atheistic community." How PC of you.


Isn't it believed that even Jesus went to hell, for a few days, before going to heaven?
post #10 of 119
Semantics. Hades or Sheol, actually. Hades is kind of a holding place, while Hell is reserved for Satan and his followers after the final judgement. Judaic tradition holds that the souls of both the righteous and the unrighteous were kept in Sheol awaiting the great white throne judgement. Early Christian belief was that Jesus, as a man who died bearing all of the sins of humanity, naturally entered into Hades. He witnessed to those who had not been given a chance to believe during their lives, and it is believed that He opened the way for the righteous to enter heaven at that time. There are a lot of different theories about the relationship between Sheol and Hell; many believe that Hades no longer exists, and was present only for that time in which there was no salvation from death, while others believe that those who are lost still wait in Hades for the judgement. The Bible doesn't really say much about it. Either way it amounts to the same in the end.
post #11 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>Semantics. Hades or Sheol, actually. Hades is kind of a holding place, while Hell is reserved for Satan and his followers after the final judgement. Judaic tradition holds that the souls of both the righteous and the unrighteous were kept in Sheol awaiting the great white throne judgement. Early Christian belief was that Jesus, as a man who died bearing all of the sins of humanity, naturally entered into Hades. He witnessed to those who had not been given a chance to believe during their lives, and it is believed that He opened the way for the righteous to enter heaven at that time. There are a lot of different theories about the relationship between Sheol and Hell; many believe that Hades no longer exists, and was present only for that time in which there was no salvation from death, while others believe that those who are lost still wait in Hades for the judgement. The Bible doesn't really say much about it. Either way it amounts to the same in the end.</strong><hr></blockquote>

And again we agree! Knock it off!!!

Oh and you are way off on that 500Mhz G4, now if you had said 500Mhz G5...
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #12 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

Not only faulty logic, but he really doesn't have any idea of the Christian concept of hell. Sinners do not go to hell to be tortured, that was never a belief or teaching of the church. Satan does not rule hell, and he does not torture sinners. The author also does not understand the role of angels, what "good" means with respect to God, the entire concept of the soul, or the history of Hell and Hades in the Christian church.

I certainly hope this essay isn't indicative of the current state of critical thinking among the atheistic community.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Interesting thread! So why do "sinners" go to Hell and where does the traditional idea of the roasting flames torturing sinners come from?
Hieronymous Bosch obviously thought sinners were sent to Hell for a bit of light eternal torture...
The Blue Meanie's stance would be that there is no such place as Hell, no Devil, and nobody needing "saving" because life is eternal anyway. I have never understood such concepts as Jesus having to "save" humankind - it seems an extraordinarily awkward system to have been established by a supposedly loving God
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post #13 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by The Blue Meanie:
<strong>

Interesting thread! So why do "sinners" go to Hell and where does the traditional idea of the roasting flames torturing sinners come from?
Hieronymous Bosch obviously thought sinners were sent to Hell for a bit of light eternal torture...
The Blue Meanie's stance would be that there is no such place as Hell, no Devil, and nobody needing "saving" because life is eternal anyway. I have never understood such concepts as Jesus having to "save" humankind - it seems an extraordinarily awkward system to have been established by a supposedly loving God</strong><hr></blockquote>

But you are approaching it from the wrong stance. You are assuming that since the sould (life) is eternal then it is only right that everyone end up with God, but it is made clear in many scriptures that God cannot abide sin. if you are a sinful person you cannot be with God or in the presence of God. So the sacrifice Jesus made wiped away that sin for us. It is in the bible that the wages of sin is death. So when Jesus, who had done no wrong and never sinned took the sin of the world on himself he paid those wages so we no longer have to die (be removed from God's presence, or go to hell). And the way to receive this is to accept that this was done for you at the cross, and to accept that Jesus is the one that did it. The love of God comes in that he would send his son to become sin and die for you so that you did not have to die.
NoahJ
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NoahJ
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post #14 of 119
Thread Starter 
Sheol. Jesus descended to the 'dead'. That is the wording. However, BRussel, you may be thinking of a version of the myth from Japan a 'Jizu' who descended to 'hell' to redeem those souls held therein. He got nothing but pain for his trouble: I can't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure he was destroyed for his presumptiousness.


Hell is not essentially a bad place, it is an 'other' place. Church doctrine that looks to justify the philosophical neccessity of hell (and not everyone agrees about its philosophical neccessity) would probably point to a cosmic interaction of free will. It is not 'lakes of fire' it is a move away from commune with God, which God freely allows. The space without God, which God provides for us, so that we may choose it if we will. In a sense, it marks God's respect for choice. You may move 'to' God or 'away', and with the enormity of God, there could be no 'away' place unless the deity made some provision for those who wanted it.

The rest is convenient and paranoid fire and brimstone. Which is not to say that Hell is a good place. If it is bad, then it is because of the character of those who would occupy it, God only makes the space available as a concession to the autonomy of choice of the individual spirit.

Something like that would be the current Church line.

[ 03-13-2002: Message edited by: Matsu ]</p>
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post #15 of 119
Here's what I was thinking of, it's the Apostle's Creed. I don't know it's history, or what it is based on, but I believe the English version always uses the word "hell."
[quote]
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
etc.<hr></blockquote>
post #16 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by The Blue Meanie:
<strong>

Interesting thread! So why do "sinners" go to Hell and where does the traditional idea of the roasting flames torturing sinners come from?
Hieronymous Bosch obviously thought sinners were sent to Hell for a bit of light eternal torture...
The Blue Meanie's stance would be that there is no such place as Hell, no Devil, and nobody needing "saving" because life is eternal anyway. I have never understood such concepts as Jesus having to "save" humankind - it seems an extraordinarily awkward system to have been established by a supposedly loving God</strong><hr></blockquote>

PS - No such place as Hell but darker areas in the "next world"created by the negativity of certain people who congregate there, but who are nevertheless free to leave at any time when they are ready to face the karma created by their actions - but then again, maybe I'm just nuts )
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Alll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
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post #17 of 119
Thread Starter 
BRussel,

You have an incorrect version, I'm looking at my Catechism right now, it's the 'dead'

"... descended to the dead, on the third day he rose again..."
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post #18 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by The Blue Meanie:
<strong>I have never understood such concepts as Jesus having to "save" humankind - it seems an extraordinarily awkward system to have been established by a supposedly loving God
</strong><hr></blockquote>

It's really very simple. God is the master of the universe. His law is absolute, and the penalty for disobedience is death (spiritual death, i.e. separation from God). Anyone who has ever broken the Law has been sentenced to death. Lying, stealing, murder, rape, adultery... they are all the same. There is no variance of degree of disobedience. However, once the first sin was committed God promised that He would mend the damage by sending a messiah. From that point on the priests were commanded to offer animal sacrifices as a symbol of the sacrifice to come. God then came to earth and died in our place that we might not be separated from Him because of our sin. Sounds like a decent thing for an omnipotent being to do, in my opinion.
post #19 of 119
My own (somewhat unorthodox) viewpoint:

Part of the problem is that the Bible portrays conflicting images about what "damnation" means. There are a few places where it is described as a place of eternal torture, but there are many other places that refer to the Final Judgement as being like pruning the dead wood off the trees and burning them in a fire. Not an eternal fire, just destruction.

For me, this "destruction" image is much more compatible with the idea of a just, merciful God. Whoever isn't Saved (which I'm not going to get into - in the end it's God's decision, not mine, anyway) will simply die and be dead, gone forever. In this case "eternal damnation" simply means oblivion, never to be rescued from death. The Saved will be resurrected to a new life with God - the New Jerusalem, New Heaven and New Earth stuff. Rather than torturing the unsaved eternally, they're simply gone.

The "immortality of the soul" concept really isn't Christian - it's borrowed from Platonism. Rather than immediately being promoted to heaven, the portrait the Bible paints is that everyone who dies simply remains dead until the Final Judgement, where the Saved are resurrected (see above). I think difference is at least partly a matter of semantics - from a practical perspective, when I die, then next thing I will be conscious of is being face-to-face with Jesus. I wouldn't be able to tell if it had happened immediately or if I had lain in "suspended animation", as it were, for a few centuries or millenia.

Anyway, the consequence is that I don't believe in Hell as traditionally conceived. I also don't believe in Satan as a real, supernatural being contesting with God. The Dualism most Christians profess is borrowed from Zoroastrianism. There is actually very little in the Bible about Satan/Lucifer/whoever. Most of it comes from Christian Mythology like Paradise Lost.
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post #20 of 119
If you don't throw in some definitions, you're just lost. So here are some definitions:

Hell: The state of a person sitting in front of a Windows OS machine.

Heaven: The state of a person grooving with a Mac.

Purgatory: The state of a person waiting for his Mac to start up.

Aries 1B

PS: The burden of proof as to the claim of the existance of God (someone care to define that?) rests with the theist; NOT with the Atheist (an Atheist does not have a belief in a deity. It is the theist who bears that burden and wishes to spread it .)
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post #21 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by TJM:
<strong>The "immortality of the soul" concept really isn't Christian - it's borrowed from Platonism. Rather than immediately being promoted to heaven, the portrait the Bible paints is that everyone who dies simply remains dead until the Final Judgement, where the Saved are resurrected (see above). I think difference is at least partly a matter of semantics - from a practical perspective, when I die, then next thing I will be conscious of is being face-to-face with Jesus. I wouldn't be able to tell if it had happened immediately or if I had lain in "suspended animation", as it were, for a few centuries or millenia.

Anyway, the consequence is that I don't believe in Hell as traditionally conceived. I also don't believe in Satan as a real, supernatural being contesting with God. The Dualism most Christians profess is borrowed from Zoroastrianism.</strong><hr></blockquote>

What is your evidence that the immortality of the soul is derived from Platonism? What is your evidence that dualism is derived from Zoroastrianism? The similarity of two belief systems in no way implies that one is derived from the other.

The problem with that position is that you have decided a priori that Christianity is simply another belief system that is derived from other, more primitive religions, and so you draw your conclusions based on that belief. However, if the truth is that there is in fact a dualistic nature to the afterlife, and there is in fact an immortal soul, and that knowledge was known to the first humans as Christianity and Judaism claim, then there is no reason that similar ideas would not appear (altered to various degrees) in different religions. For example, there is a recurring theme throughout the religions of history of the concept of death and resurrection as atonement for sin. The ancient Babylonians, the Egyptions, Assyrians, etc. all held beliefs such as these. It may mean that Christianity simply borrowed from these beliefs, or it may mean that both have inherited the truth, made known to the first men by God. You must choose what you believe. Understandably, you have been indoctrinated into a secular world view that has predisposed you to choose one option over the other, based on what you have been taught (usually under the myth of "objectivity"). But that in no way means that your perceptions are true.

Obviously if I have mis-characterized your beliefs, disregard.

[quote]<strong> There is actually very little in the Bible about Satan/Lucifer/whoever. Most of it comes from Christian Mythology like Paradise Lost.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I disagree. There is a great deal in the Bible about Satan. But even if there were only one or two references, if the Bible is divinely inspired then that is enough. Once again, if you accept the Bible as divine, then there is no problem. If not, then of course it is natural for you to search for explanations for the different aspects of Christian belief.

There really is no reconciling the two viewpoints because of this very basic difference in foundation. If I were to debate with a 17th century doctor about the causes of disease, there simply would be no way to resolve the matter or win the debate. I cannot show him actual germs without a machine (of which he would be suspicious) and there is no way that he would be able to convince me of his philosophy of the bodily humors' role in keeping the body in balance.
post #22 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Aries 1B:
<strong>The burden of proof as to the claim of the existance of God (someone care to define that?) rests with the theist; NOT with the Atheist (an Atheist does not have a belief in a deity. It is the theist who bears that burden and wishes to spread it .)</strong><hr></blockquote>

i find it interesting, then, that atheists have made it their mission in life to prove that their position is tenable by attempting to marginalize threatening religions. And considering that most people naturally believe in a God, it would seem to be the atheists who are trying their best to spread their beliefs.
post #23 of 119
Thread Starter 
The causal chain that grounds logic, science and reason suggests the very idea of 'god'. The question of god is the one case where the burden of 'proof' is equally shared by theists and atheists alike. You can't rest on simplicity in this case. 'It exists' and 'it does not exist' are equally untestable, and equally simple. Nothing here will supply the moral character of a god, it simply lays bare the essential problem of belief.

Athiests can legitmately gripe that there is no proof of a Christian God, but they cannot legitimately deny a first cause, (or at least they can not do it with any more logical authority than those who assert a first cause.) The 'universe is caused' and 'the universe is uncaused' are both unprovable at least to the satisfaction of reason.


It gets tiring listening to atheists claim their belief/observation fits logic better, when it clearly does not. Both assertions have no real recourse in logic.
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post #24 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

It's really very simple. God is the master of the universe. His law is absolute, and the penalty for disobedience is death (spiritual death, i.e. separation from God). Anyone who has ever broken the Law has been sentenced to death. Lying, stealing, murder, rape, adultery... they are all the same. There is no variance of degree of disobedience. However, once the first sin was committed God promised that He would mend the damage by sending a messiah. From that point on the priests were commanded to offer animal sacrifices as a symbol of the sacrifice to come. God then came to earth and died in our place that we might not be separated from Him because of our sin. Sounds like a decent thing for an omnipotent being to do, in my opinion.</strong><hr></blockquote>

That's what I said. Stop copying me.

Shoot I may as well just sit back and read this one, you seem to have it well in hand.
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #25 of 119
Thread Starter 
Damn it! Between atheists on the one hand and theists on the other, ya'll aren't leaving much room for reason.

PS. the references to Satan in the Bible and associated apocrypha evolve over time. Most of the 'demonizing' takes place due to secterian concerns penetrating Judea.

Satan, demon, devil are all terms that BEGIN with a meaning quite different from the 'Malevolent evil' of modern usage. Whether it be the Hebrew satan (opposer) or the Greek daimonium or daio (for divider or intermediary) these are all forces that work for god, that intercede between man and the spirit.

So, back to the original question. How do you read satan today? Is the concept still intimate, or is it highly abstract, or perhaps both (which may be the best understanding, even as Jesus may have interpreted it.)
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post #26 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by NoahJ:
<strong>That's what I said. Stop copying me. </strong><hr></blockquote>

I tried to state it a bit differently! I enjoy approaching explanations of Christian positions based on a logical progression from Judaic foundations to the current Christian beliefs. No slight intended.

[quote]<strong>Shoot I may as well just sit back and read this one, you seem to have it well in hand. </strong><hr></blockquote>

Not at all. I do not discuss matters of salvation in depth over the internet, nor do I argue the existence of God or evidence thereof; I find it pointless. If the discussion takes takes such a turn, I'll sit it out myself.

[quote]<strong>The 'universe is caused' and 'the universe is uncaused' are both unprovable at least to the satisfaction of reason.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Very true. I would argue that nothing in history can be proven to the satisfaction of reason. If I claim that "George Washington crossed the Delaware river to attack the British", there is no scientific test that I can devise that will prove that. I can build a boat and prove that, at present, the Delaware is crossable, but that has no bearing on what actually happened. The only evidence we have is historic, writings made by people who were there. In that sense, at least, the Judeo-Christian tradition of a "caused" universe does have the slight advantage of claiming an observer (not that that makes it true).

But of course, neither one is science.
post #27 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Matsu:
<strong>The causal chain that grounds logic, science and reason suggests the very idea of 'god'. </strong><hr></blockquote>Matsu, you said this in another thread (there seem to be lots of religion threads right now), but it doesn't make any sense. You're talking about the first cause argument.

The problem with it is that you could always say "then who made God?" So where do you stop? It's entirely possible to 'stop' with the natural world, e.g., the Big Bang. There is no necessity for a deity. If you say "well everything has to have a cause, even the Big Bang, so God must have caused the Big Bang," then why is God so special that he doesn't need a cause? And then maybe the Big Bang can be special too and not need a cause.

You're still left with the fact that there is an asymmetry between believing in something and not believing in it, even in the case of a deity.

That doesn't prove that there is no God - of course not, because lots of things turn out to be true even if we don't have evidence for them. That's why religions emphasize faith - people must have faith to believe in God. Atheists don't have to have faith in non-existence - they're just in a constant state of "prove it to me."
post #28 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Matsu:
<strong>the references to Satan in the Bible and associated apocrypha evolve over time. Most of the 'demonizing' takes place due to secterian concerns penetrating Judea.</strong><hr></blockquote>

The apocrypha are not scripture. As for the Bible, I could not disagree more. The interpretations have certainly changed when people try to twist them to mean what they want them to mean, but the words themselves have not. The manuscripts of the Hebrew copyists are amazingly accurate, compared with the scribes of other ancient literature. The scrolls found in Qumran Cave I (Dead Sea, 1947) were a thousand years older than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980) Yet they proved to be letter for letter (not word for word) identical to our modern Hebrew Bible over 95% of the text. The other 5% of variation consisted of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling (not phrasing).(1,2)

Compared to other ancient works of which we have copies from different time periods (compare: Egyption Book of the Dead, Papyrus of Ani and the Turin papyrus copied only 200 years apart) the Hebrew scriptures are recognized by secular and religious scholars as absolutely unique in their nearly perfect accuracy over a period of 3000 years, even across the more than 200,000 manuscripts currently known. (3,4,5)

The burden of proof is on you to provide evidence of changes that have thus far eluded Hebrew scholars.

(1)Archer, Gleason L., Jy A Survey of Old Testiment Introduction. Chicago, Moody Press, 1964, 1974. pgs 23-25

(2) Wilson, Robert Dick. A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament. Chicago, Moody Press, 1959. pgs 64, 71

(3) ibid, pgs 71-72

(4) Bruce, F. F. The Books and Parchments: How We Got Our English Bible. Old Tappan, N.J.: Flemm=ing H. Revell Co., 1984. pgs 178

(5) Goshen-Gottstein, Moshe. "Bible Manuscripts in the U.S.," Textus 3, 1962


[quote]<strong>So, back to the original question. How do you read satan today? Is the concept still intimate, or is it highly abstract, or perhaps both (which may be the best understanding, even as Jesus may have interpreted it.)</strong><hr></blockquote>

You betray your biases. Jesus did not interpret anything, He was told the truth directly by the Father. But as for myself, I believe that Satan is a fallen angel who hates God and all of His creation to such a degree that he has spent the past several thousand years devoted solely to the separation of God and Man, and the eventual destruction of the latter.
post #29 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by BRussell:
<strong>If you say "well everything has to have a cause, even the Big Bang, so God must have caused the Big Bang," then why is God so special that he doesn't need a cause? And then maybe the Big Bang can be special too and not need a cause.</strong><hr></blockquote>

The difference is that the Big Bang is by necessity bound by the laws of the universe, and as of yet there is no known law that will allow for the Big Bang as a self creating phenomena. But if God created the universe then He must be above it and greater than it. God is not subject to time or space, since He created them both. Since God exists outside of time, space and physics, there is no requirement that He obey the physical laws that He himself placed in motion. By extension, He can see the past, present and future and thus there is no difficulty with the prophecies that He has made in Revelation and elsewhere in the Bible. To God, all of space-time is simply a speck in His reality. It is also then, by definition, not possible for us to truly understand His position with our minds, bound by space-time as they are. That is what faith means... trusting in someone so far greater than yourself that there can be no understanding beyond what He might give you. That flies in the face of the myth that we like to tell ourselves - that we can somehow amass all knowledge if we advance far enough technologically. We are still bound by the universe, and will never scientifically know what lies beyond our tiny sliver of reality.
post #30 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>
What is your evidence that the immortality of the soul is derived from Platonism? What is your evidence that dualism is derived from Zoroastrianism? The similarity of two belief systems in no way implies that one is derived from the other.

The problem with that position is that you have decided a priori that Christianity is simply another belief system that is derived from other, more primitive religions, and so you draw your conclusions based on that belief. However, if the truth is that there is in fact a dualistic nature to the afterlife, and there is in fact an immortal soul, and that knowledge was known to the first humans as Christianity and Judaism claim, then there is no reason that similar ideas would not appear (altered to various degrees) in different religions. For example, there is a recurring theme throughout the religions of history of the concept of death and resurrection as atonement for sin. The ancient Babylonians, the Egyptions, Assyrians, etc. all held beliefs such as these. It may mean that Christianity simply borrowed from these beliefs, or it may mean that both have inherited the truth, made known to the first men by God. You must choose what you believe. Understandably, you have been indoctrinated into a secular world view that has predisposed you to choose one option over the other, based on what you have been taught (usually under the myth of "objectivity"). But that in no way means that your perceptions are true.

Obviously if I have mis-characterized your beliefs, disregard.

</strong><hr></blockquote>

Whew! I warned you at the start that my ideas are a bit unorthodox...

We obviously come from very different backgrounds, so I'm not going to get into a bickerfest with you about this. Disagreement over doctrine is as old as Christianity itself (for example, James and Peter vs. Paul over circumscision).

The link between Christianity and Neo-Platonism is long and complicated. Here's a taste of it: <a href="http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10742b.htm" target="_blank">Catholic Encyclopedia on Neo-Platonism</a>. From my understanding of it, the immortality of the soul was not originally part of Christianity. We find no mention of it in any of Paul's writings, for example, of which I am aware. It is an idea that gradually crept in from Neo-Platonism. Rather, the description in the BIble is one of "going to sleep" in death, and awakening on Judgement Day. I believe I do have a soul, but not that it is necessarily immortal. It is the part of me which is made in God's image. By consciously rejecting God, I can kill it - thereby destroying my humanity and turning me into simply a highly intelligent animal. Consequently, when it comes time to be resurrected there will be nothing to resurrect, and I will be gone for good. The point, though, is that the Bible teaches resurrection of all the believers, not the immediate promotion of the soul to heaven at death.

As for Satan, yes, he is mentioned numerous times, but his history is largely nonexistent. There are a few allusions to his fall from Heaven, but nothing explicit. Isaiah 14, for example, is often cited as part of this, but Satan is never actually mentioned - in fact, the "bright morning star" more likely refers to Israel itself than Satan. Jude also makes some oblique references, but nothing terribly specific. The whole story of the war in Heaven, of Lucifer being cast out, and so forth is purely fiction - built, perhaps, on the scraps found in the Bible, but 90% of the story is completely made up. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, so long as everyone understands that the story is not, in fact, Biblical.

Well, I don't want to make this too long (it's probably too long already), and as I mentioned at the start we're probably never going to agree on much of this. My attitude on doctrine is that (outside the core beliefs) whatever helps you have a better relationship with God is fine by me. I certainly have no franchise on the Truth, so who am I to be critical of your beliefs? I've developed mine slowly over more than 20 years of study and contemplation. I'm certain they will continue to change as I learn and grow the rest of my life.
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post #31 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

The apocrypha are not scripture.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Whoa, there. The Apocrypha certainly are scripture if you are Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. They were scripture for all Christians until the Reformation when Martin Luther rejected them because they weren't written in Hebrew originally and hadn't been accepted by the Jews. Be a little more inclusive. American Protestantism is not the only form of Christianity in the world.
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post #32 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Matsu:
<strong>Damn it! Between atheists on the one hand and theists on the other, ya'll aren't leaving much room for reason.

PS. the references to Satan in the Bible and associated apocrypha evolve over time. Most of the 'demonizing' takes place due to secterian concerns penetrating Judea.

Satan, demon, devil are all terms that BEGIN with a meaning quite different from the 'Malevolent evil' of modern usage. Whether it be the Hebrew satan (opposer) or the Greek daimonium or daio (for divider or intermediary) these are all forces that work for god, that intercede between man and the spirit.

So, back to the original question. How do you read satan today? Is the concept still intimate, or is it highly abstract, or perhaps both (which may be the best understanding, even as Jesus may have interpreted it.)</strong><hr></blockquote>

You are absolutely right on Satan in the Scriptures. The Old Testament Satan (ha satan) is simply "the opposer" - actually an angel working for God whose job was to foil the plans of men who are trying to evade God's will. The story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22 involves just such a satan (small "s"). By the time Job was written, he had morphed into "the Accuser" - still on God's side, but now the "Prosecuting Attorney" bringing the sins of various people to God's attention. It is only in the last century or so B.C. that he becomes embodiment of all opposition to God. In fact, in Revelation 12 he is still referred to as "the Accuser" who is thrown out of heaven to show symbolically that God no longer even wants to hear about our sins.

As for Jesus, I think he simply spoke in the vernacular of the day. For example, He may have known precisely what the cause of epilepsy was, but there would be no point in describing the problem in terms of neural misfirings. His miracles were meant to be a sign to show his power, so talking over the people's heads would serve no purpose. They understood epilepsy as demon posession, so he cured it in a way that would be meaningful to the people viewing it. Similarly, it is difficult to determine what His actual opinion of Satan was - whenever He mentions Satan, it is always while speaking to others. These were largely ignorant peasants, so waxing metaphysical on the true causes of evil would again be pointless. He was there to show the love of God, not give Graduate level Theology lectures. The people understood Satan, so that's how He described the source of evil. He may have actually believed in Satan himself, but simply the fact that He used the name doesn't in and of itself prove it.

I'm not going to get into a long lecture on my ideas on Good and Evil and so on, but I can summarize my ideas on Satan pretty simply: he is a euphemism for/personification of our internal evil urges. Much the way we talk about Mother Nature, or Santa Claus as the spirit of giving at Christmas. We don't know where these urges come from - in fact they feel like something coming from outside of us. So, we presume some entity must be putting those urges into us; hence, Satan. My own opinion is that these urges to do evil are purely internal and need no external causative agent, but that's beyond what I want to talk about here.
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post #33 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by TJM:
<strong>Whoa, there. The Apocrypha certainly are scripture if you are Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. They were scripture for all Christians until the Reformation when Martin Luther rejected them because they weren't written in Hebrew originally and hadn't been accepted by the Jews. Be a little more inclusive. American Protestantism is not the only form of Christianity in the world.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I assume you are speaking of the Old Testament apocrypha. Catholics do indeed venerate the apocrypha, and I don't know enough about them to comment authoritatively. I also do not know on what they base their support of the books. I withdraw my statement, but must at least make the point that they are not accepted by a large portion of Christians and Jews.
post #34 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by NoahJ:
<strong>

But you are approaching it from the wrong stance. You are assuming that since the sould (life) is eternal then it is only right that everyone end up with God, but it is made clear in many scriptures that God cannot abide sin. if you are a sinful person you cannot be with God or in the presence of God. So the sacrifice Jesus made wiped away that sin for us. It is in the bible that the wages of sin is death. So when Jesus, who had done no wrong and never sinned took the sin of the world on himself he paid those wages so we no longer have to die (be removed from God's presence, or go to hell). And the way to receive this is to accept that this was done for you at the cross, and to accept that Jesus is the one that did it. The love of God comes in that he would send his son to become sin and die for you so that you did not have to die.</strong><hr></blockquote>

But this is a circular argument You are saying that an omnipotent God decided that those who commit "sin" (whatever that is) could not be with Him (and is God really a "him"?) so God decided to pay the penalty he himself had decided was necessary. Why not set up a universe without this cumbersome concept of sin and sacrifice being necessary in the first place? :confused:
The Blue Meanie is not of course suggesting that there is no such thing as evil and wrong - I just think the Universe (or God if you prefer that term) deals with it in a different way - through Karma (law of consequences) and reincarnation
(*Is that the sound of sitars I hear in the background? )

PS - I'm just about to post another reply for you in the 'Big Bloke In Black' thread
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post #35 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by The Blue Meanie:
<strong>Why not set up a universe without this cumbersome concept of sin and sacrifice being necessary in the first place? :confused:
The Blue Meanie is not of course suggesting that there is no such thing as evil and wrong - I just think the Universe (or God if you prefer that term) deals with it in a different way - through Karma (law of consequences) and reincarnation</strong><hr></blockquote>

God wants us to love 'him' as much as 'he' loves us. Without the CHOICE to NOT love him, it would not be real love. It is this choice and free will that MUST BE PROVIDED by god in order to really love him....

Karma may make more rational sense, but then how do you explain the bible?
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post #36 of 119
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

You betray your biases. ...</strong><hr></blockquote>

Now this is interesting. What are my biases?
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post #37 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Matsu:
<strong>
Now this is interesting. What are my biases?</strong><hr></blockquote>

The statement that Jesus interpreted anything indicates that you believe that He had less than perfect knowledge about a subject.
post #38 of 119
Dont use an event that has no witnesses and may not have happened(The Big Bang Never Happened - great book) in an argument involving something just as etheral. I would say I just don't get religoius folks.... but I think I do.

You ever seen a kid dressed in a suit? People say "hey he looks little adult". I've found it much more to my advantage to look at grown people and think "there goes a child in an adults body". Think of all pettyness you experience from other people and think about who your really deally with.... a child whom was granted full rights and respect merely for surviving past a certain age.

Now understand that this child still holds all the fear you had as a child. Understand this.... you will die.... even if people lived to 200yrs they would still eventually die.... your death may be peaceful or painful.... short or take several years... when you die, thats it..... sorry... no angels, no god... maybe you fade into your last thought... but your probably beyond thinking by then anyway... the afterdeath is not to be feared as you will no longer exist... to an extent the world ends with you.... ie you do not have to care what happens to your children, dog, country...etc.... sure, you will be appreciated before and after your death by those around you if you do.... but planning for after your death is in no way required.

So that sounds like a pretty bad deal. Maybe you could try to refinance your life if only there was someone to bargain for. But there isn't. I'm not trying to be mean... trust me... im in the same sinking boat as you.

And sure I watched davey and goliath when i was a kid. But I never went to church but three times, well past the age of being easily lied to(like 8yrs old). How could you believe? Because everyone else does it? You would think a mac user would not fall for that. I never rejected religion, I just never had it forced on me. Did you have it forced on you, or did you seek it out.... and why? If you needed help... thats what other people are for. I'm more than willing to help people. I dont know.

I guess its better to be a wolf in a world of sheep than a wolf in a world of wolves. Maybe thats why those in power(wolves) encourage sheep to exist? Hey thats not a bad deal... Maybe I should get on that band wagon.

Anyway... you should really look into how the big bang was actually created to appease, as it worked well(though not perfectly) for both scientists and theologians. Course its been years since i read that book... its finding could have very well been enchanced or overturned since then. Yep,,, good luck with that whole thing....
post #39 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by TJM:
<strong>The whole story of the war in Heaven, of Lucifer being cast out, and so forth is purely fiction - built, perhaps, on the scraps found in the Bible, but 90% of the story is completely made up.</strong><hr></blockquote>

"And there was war in heaven: Micheal and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." Rev 12,7-9.

[quote]<strong>
From my understanding of it, the immortality of the soul was not originally part of Christianity. We find no mention of it in any of Paul's writings, for example, of which I am aware. It is an idea that gradually crept in from Neo-Platonism.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I find that stance odd, considering Jesus' constant teachings on eternal life, the assurance that believers would never die, and that he would prepare an eternal place for us in His Father's house. Paul also was adamant about the spiritual resurrection from the dead, and eternal life. All of 1 Corinthians 15 was devoted to those who did not believe in the ressurection of the dead into eternal life.

The Jews (most of them) believed in the same thing, so there is no more reason to attribute the Christian belief in the immortal soul to Neo-Platonism than to Judaism.

[quote]<strong> Rather, the description in the BIble is one of "going to sleep" in death, and awakening on Judgement Day.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I do not see how this is incompatible with teachings on the immortal soul?

[quote]<strong>As for Jesus, I think he simply spoke in the vernacular of the day. For example, He may have known precisely what the cause of epilepsy was, but there would be no point in describing the problem in terms of neural misfirings. His miracles were meant to be a sign to show his power, so talking over the people's heads would serve no purpose. They understood epilepsy as demon posession, so he cured it in a way that would be meaningful to the people viewing it. Similarly, it is difficult to determine what His actual opinion of Satan was - whenever He mentions Satan, it is always while speaking to others. These were largely ignorant peasants, so waxing metaphysical on the true causes of evil would again be pointless.</strong><hr></blockquote>

We will have to disagree then. You seem to believe that Jesus cured epilepsy... what evidence is there that they were not demon possessed? Your assumptions? We could assume they had epilepsy, but then the scriptures record a conversation between Jesus and the demons He had excised. Perhaps He spoke to the errant neurons? And they were ignorant (by your definition) peasants, but Jesus had no trouble waxing metaphysical about everything else, to the point that nobody seemed to understand Him, and He grew quite frustrated with their inability to see the truth. There seems to be no reason to lie about this... He didn't lie about or simplify anything else. As for His mentioning Satan only when speaking to others, that is not true. He went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, and had several conversations with him. Unless you believe that it was hunger induced dementia.

Whether you believe in Satan or not, I think it is clear that the intention of the Biblical texts is to indicate that he is a real being, and not a metaphysical construct.
post #40 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by havanas:
<strong>And sure I watched davey and goliath when i was a kid. But I never went to church but three times, well past the age of being easily lied to(like 8yrs old). How could you believe? Because everyone else does it? You would think a mac user would not fall for that. I never rejected religion, I just never had it forced on me. Did you have it forced on you, or did you seek it out.... and why? If you needed help... thats what other people are for. I'm more than willing to help people. I dont know.</strong><hr></blockquote>

You assume that the church is the lie and the world is the truth. You have spent most of your life (all but three hours or so) in the world, so of course you have been taught and conditioned to think in those terms. Instead you could say that a person raised in the church is less apt to be successfully lied to by the world than one who is saturated with the world's propaganda from birth. They are both sides of the same coin, and only one is true. In any case believe what you will, and consider yourself warned.
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