Author Topic: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?  (Read 9001 times)

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Offline Canadian Mojo

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #45 on: May 02, 2014, 09:41:18 am »
My understanding of the historicity of Jesus was always that He was barely known during His actual lifetime, which is why we've got so little empirical evidence.

Which is why I quoted the Carrier quote which ends thusly:

"All of this suggests a troubling dichotomy for believers: either Jesus was a nobody (and therefore not even special, much less the Son of God) or he did not exist."

A believer would probably be quick to reply with this quote: "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."

...of course, that tends to lead directly into a discussion about biblical embellishment vs. its inerrancy.

Offline davedan

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #46 on: May 07, 2014, 08:57:58 pm »
The problem is also that the Gospels portray him as making a big impact. There was an earthquake and an eclipse of the Sun. He had thousands of followers streaming about Judea. So to the extent that there was any itinerant preacher it seems difficult to accept that the Gospel accounts actually reflect his existence at all. What is more is that there is so little to Christianity that is original. The things which I considered to be innovative aren't so at all. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - Rabbi Hillel circa 100 bc. The Eucharist meal , take this as it this bread is my body and drink this as this wine is my blood. - Mithraic Eucharist possibly 1000 years before christ.

You have to wonder what actual beliefs did Jesus inspire that weren't already kicking around the judeo-mediterranean world.

Offline Ultimate Paragon

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #47 on: May 07, 2014, 10:25:22 pm »
On the other hand, you also have to take into account the fact that Jesus was almost completely different from what everybody expected the Messiah to be.  They thought He would come in the form of a great earthly king who would deliver them from the Romans.  Instead, He was a peacefully rebellious carpenter who died a humiliating death.

Also, I'm pretty sure the ideas of "blessed are the meek" and "love your enemy" are Christian originals.  Unless you have some sources to show me otherwise.

Speaking of which, I'd like some sources for the other things you just said.

Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #48 on: May 07, 2014, 10:38:34 pm »
The best account for Jesus I've read is that the "Jesus of the Bible" is more likely a combination of the various self-proclaimed prophets of the age, all mixed together with some classic "bigger than mythology" stuff sprinkled into the mix.  Ta-da, instant self-contradicting "messiah".
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Offline Ultimate Paragon

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #49 on: May 07, 2014, 10:51:08 pm »
The best account for Jesus I've read is that the "Jesus of the Bible" is more likely a combination of the various self-proclaimed prophets of the age, all mixed together with some classic "bigger than mythology" stuff sprinkled into the mix.  Ta-da, instant self-contradicting "messiah".
I have to disagree.  Just about every organized religion that puts real importance on Earth had a living, breathing figurehead at one point.  Muhammad, Martin Luther, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Haile Selassie, the list goes on and on.  Sociologists have noted this.  So it stands to reason that at some point, there was a historical Jesus.

Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #50 on: May 07, 2014, 10:56:56 pm »
No offense, but considering how badly Christian archaeologists distorted the facts of what they found, I'm not likely to believe there is a historical Jesus.  Not to mention the, you know, lack of evidence.
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Offline Ultimate Paragon

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #51 on: May 07, 2014, 10:57:56 pm »
No offense, but considering how badly Christian archaeologists distorted the facts of what they found, I'm not likely to believe there is a historical Jesus.  Not to mention the, you know, lack of evidence.
Could you please elaborate on these "distortions"?

Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #52 on: May 07, 2014, 11:07:55 pm »
No offense, but considering how badly Christian archaeologists distorted the facts of what they found, I'm not likely to believe there is a historical Jesus.  Not to mention the, you know, lack of evidence.
Could you please elaborate on these "distortions"?

Namely, they fall into the classic trap - they decide to look for something biblical, then declare that it's related to the bible as soon as they find the closest thing that fits.

Instead of looking for something, then doing research to find out what it really is.
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Offline davedan

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #53 on: May 07, 2014, 11:09:19 pm »
On the other hand, you also have to take into account the fact that Jesus was almost completely different from what everybody expected the Messiah to be.  They thought He would come in the form of a great earthly king who would deliver them from the Romans.  Instead, He was a peacefully rebellious carpenter who died a humiliating death.

Also, I'm pretty sure the ideas of "blessed are the meek" and "love your enemy" are Christian originals.  Unless you have some sources to show me otherwise.

Speaking of which, I'd like some sources for the other things you just said.

I provided you links before and I sincerely doubt that you read them. Which sources do you want? Rabbi Hillel or the Mithraic Eucharist. Or the various dates?

If you posit that there must be someone real behind it are you suggesting that there was a real Cronus, Zeus, Centaur, Dionysis, Hercules, Lycurgus, Mithras, Isis, Osiris etc?

Which would suggest that there needs to be a charasmatic figure behind it, not necessarily that the figure is the focus of the religion needs to have existed. Which gives you Paul, who never physically met Jesus, quoted any of his sayings and states that he receives his knowledge through divine revelation. Who just happens to have the earliest extant Christian writings. So perhaps there need not be a historical Jesus but there would need to be a historical Paul.

As for the humilating death, well actually the idea of an 'Atoning death' had been around for possibly a millenia prior to Christ, Astarte and Tammuz, Attis, Mithras, Adonis etc.

UP, you identify as a Christian, if there was no historical christ would that affect your faith? As it is you can only know a spiritual christ anyway. Does it really matter whether Mark (who if he was who he was meant to be) wrote down the recollections of Peter or whether he was divinely inspired, as I assume you believe Paul was?

Offline Ultimate Paragon

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #54 on: May 07, 2014, 11:21:57 pm »
No offense, but your arguments seem rather weak.  Borderline negationism, in fact.

Maybe Jesus's history was twisted by his disciples.  On the other hand, Plato probably made his own alterations to the work of Socrates, either by accident or on purpose.  Does that mean Socrates didn't exist?

I agree, we should not take it for granted that Jesus existed.  However, a lack of hard evidence doesn't mean it's not true. 

Honestly, I think a lot of Jesus-doubters have the opposite problem.  Remember the James Ossuary scandal?

On the other hand, you also have to take into account the fact that Jesus was almost completely different from what everybody expected the Messiah to be.  They thought He would come in the form of a great earthly king who would deliver them from the Romans.  Instead, He was a peacefully rebellious carpenter who died a humiliating death.

Also, I'm pretty sure the ideas of "blessed are the meek" and "love your enemy" are Christian originals.  Unless you have some sources to show me otherwise.

Speaking of which, I'd like some sources for the other things you just said.

I provided you links before and I sincerely doubt that you read them. Which sources do you want? Rabbi Hillel or the Mithraic Eucharist. Or the various dates?

If you posit that there must be someone real behind it are you suggesting that there was a real Cronus, Zeus, Centaur, Dionysis, Hercules, Lycurgus, Mithras, Isis, Osiris etc?

Which would suggest that there needs to be a charasmatic figure behind it, not necessarily that the figure is the focus of the religion needs to have existed. Which gives you Paul, who never physically met Jesus, quoted any of his sayings and states that he receives his knowledge through divine revelation. Who just happens to have the earliest extant Christian writings. So perhaps there need not be a historical Jesus but there would need to be a historical Paul.

As for the humilating death, well actually the idea of an 'Atoning death' had been around for possibly a millenia prior to Christ, Astarte and Tammuz, Attis, Mithras, Adonis etc.

UP, you identify as a Christian, if there was no historical christ would that affect your faith? As it is you can only know a spiritual christ anyway. Does it really matter whether Mark (who if he was who he was meant to be) wrote down the recollections of Peter or whether he was divinely inspired, as I assume you believe Paul was?
I did read them, and I took them into account when providing my arguments.

As for the other figures, you're missing my point.  Those religions did not have a major earthly "central figure" to them.  It would make more sense if you brought up the Buddha, Zoroaster, or somebody along those lines.

Would it affect my faith?  I honestly don't know.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 11:51:39 pm by Ultimate Paragon »

Offline davedan

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #55 on: May 08, 2014, 12:23:11 am »
So which part did you want a source for? Rabbi Hillel and the Golden Rule?

I still fail to see how Paul does not fit as the human being responsible? It was your argument that sociologists find that there is a real person behind the religion, please explain why it could not be Paul and his revelations? The writings of Paul are generally accepted as the earliest Christian writtings.

Honestly I don't know enough about Buddha to say whether or not there was a real Siddhartha. As for Zoraster, as far as I understood there was real doubt about whether or not there was an actual Prophet Zoraster in the same way there is a real doubt whether there was an actual human Moses or Abraham, Lao Tzu. Certainly I don't believe that anyone accepts that Moses authored the Pentateuch. The distance in time between when the stories were commited to writing and when the events were supposed to have happened in these cases are staggering.

Your suggestion that apart from the lack of evidence your arguments are weak reminds me of "what have the Romans ever done for us".  The fact is that the existence of a historical Jesus hinges on the Gospel of Mark (the other cannonical gospels being derivative of Mark). At best Mark was written decades after the death of Jesus and was recorded by a person who never met Jesus. If it attributes things to Jesus that we know come from elsewhere doesn't that rather suggest that Mark was basing at least that part of the story on something else? Does that not throw doubt on the entire work. Allegorical and fictional accounts were common at the time? Could not Mark  have been something in the same vein?

One of the great dificulties of determining the evidence of Jesus is the fact that from very early on Christians were destroying each others records and accusing each other of heresy. We know of many books which have not survived either because they were deliberately destroyed or because they were not copied. Even without there intentional destruction if a book was out of favour it would not be copied and would disappear.

Edit: As for the James Ossuary that seems to me just an indication of how frought this area is, apart from people having agendas to push there is the prospect of making substantial (I mean metric fucktons) amounts of money.


« Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 01:12:38 am by davedan »

Offline Witchyjoshy

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #56 on: May 08, 2014, 12:44:30 am »
Honestly I don't know enough about Buddha to say whether or not there was a real Siddhartha.

Incidentally, from what I've read, Buddhists don't necessarily believe there was a real Siddhartha.  Or if there was one, they don't necessarily believe that all the mystical things that happened to him actually happened.

There's also supposedly tales of Siddhartha welcoming transpeople and homosexuals into his group, but like Siddhartha himself, those tales are up in the air about their legitimacy.

Buddhism is kind of a cool religion/philosophy, but like all religions and all philosophies, it has its fundies.
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Offline Canadian Mojo

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #57 on: May 08, 2014, 08:41:57 am »
Which would suggest that there needs to be a charasmatic figure behind it, not necessarily that the figure is the focus of the religion needs to have existed. Which gives you Paul, who never physically met Jesus, quoted any of his sayings and states that he receives his knowledge through divine revelation. Who just happens to have the earliest extant Christian writings. So perhaps there need not be a historical Jesus but there would need to be a historical Paul.

Paul - the L. Ron Hubbard/Joseph Smith of his day. <snicker>

Offline Ultimate Paragon

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #58 on: May 08, 2014, 02:06:32 pm »
So which part did you want a source for? Rabbi Hillel and the Golden Rule?

I still fail to see how Paul does not fit as the human being responsible? It was your argument that sociologists find that there is a real person behind the religion, please explain why it could not be Paul and his revelations? The writings of Paul are generally accepted as the earliest Christian writtings.

Honestly I don't know enough about Buddha to say whether or not there was a real Siddhartha. As for Zoraster, as far as I understood there was real doubt about whether or not there was an actual Prophet Zoraster in the same way there is a real doubt whether there was an actual human Moses or Abraham, Lao Tzu. Certainly I don't believe that anyone accepts that Moses authored the Pentateuch. The distance in time between when the stories were commited to writing and when the events were supposed to have happened in these cases are staggering.

Your suggestion that apart from the lack of evidence your arguments are weak reminds me of "what have the Romans ever done for us".  The fact is that the existence of a historical Jesus hinges on the Gospel of Mark (the other cannonical gospels being derivative of Mark). At best Mark was written decades after the death of Jesus and was recorded by a person who never met Jesus. If it attributes things to Jesus that we know come from elsewhere doesn't that rather suggest that Mark was basing at least that part of the story on something else? Does that not throw doubt on the entire work. Allegorical and fictional accounts were common at the time? Could not Mark  have been something in the same vein?

One of the great dificulties of determining the evidence of Jesus is the fact that from very early on Christians were destroying each others records and accusing each other of heresy. We know of many books which have not survived either because they were deliberately destroyed or because they were not copied. Even without there intentional destruction if a book was out of favour it would not be copied and would disappear.

Edit: As for the James Ossuary that seems to me just an indication of how frought this area is, apart from people having agendas to push there is the prospect of making substantial (I mean metric fucktons) amounts of money.
I have to give you credit: you make some damn good points.  However, I have to disagree with you about Paul.  Paul was very important, but he was never the central figure of any movement, in the way that Martin Luther and John Calvin were.  He was a major figure in Christianity, but he did not fit the profile.  If he did, he would have raised himself to a paramount position, or been raised there by others.

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Re: Should fanatical Christians really be called "fundamentalists"?
« Reply #59 on: May 08, 2014, 02:29:40 pm »
Maybe Jesus's history was twisted by his disciples.  On the other hand, Plato probably made his own alterations to the work of Socrates, either by accident or on purpose.  Does that mean Socrates didn't exist?

Interesting choice of analogy, because "the historical Jesus" has its own version of the Socratic problem.

For those that don't want to click that link, the Socratic problem is the difficulty in figuring out what Socrates' actual ideas were and separating them from those of Plato (and other sources). As far as I know there's no controversy over whether there was a person named Socrates who was sentenced to death in Athens in the year whatever BCE, which we might call a "historical Socrates". Then there's the character in Plato's dialogues, who is also named Socrates and was also sentenced to death, but this Socrates has some specific beliefs and makes some specific arguments, etc. Both Socrates were philosophers, but we only know the philosophy of Socrates-the-character. We can imagine it would be similar to that of the historical Socrates, but we don't actually know that.

So if I start talking about the philosophy of Socrates, am I talking about a real person or about a character in Plato's writings?

Analogously with Jesus. Let's say for the sake of the argument that everyone agrees that there was a guy named Jesus who founded Christianity around the first century CE, and call that person the historical Jesus. Great. But the figure of Jesus in the Bible also works miracles and teaches disciples and curses fig trees and whatnot. When people talk about Jesus nowadays, they are usually talking about a deity or a prophet or a religious teacher, and none of those things necessarily correspond to the historical character. If the words of Jesus in the Bible were wholly or partially made up by the gospel writers, then when you quote him and say "love your enemies", are you quoting Jesus-the-character or the historical founder of Christianity?

If it were the case that there was a Jesus-the-founder-of-Christianity, but he worked no miracles, was not the son of a god, and his teachings were not accurately reflected in the New Testament, is it still meaningful to call him "the historical Jesus"?
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