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Sand
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28 Jan 2010, 1:00 am

My reputation here seems reasonably well established as non-religious and I base my viewpoint on the many inconsistencies I find in religious doctrine plus the large number of literal interpretations of holy books that are in conflict with modern observations of the universe. Nevertheless there are specific lines of reason within Christian doctrine which I find genuinely puzzling, even on acceptance of the internal logic of the faith. I’m questioning this, not in an attempt to persuade anybody about the religion, but in a genuine attempt to understand the logic.

I am not deeply familiar with the New Testament but a general acquaintance of some of its aspects is unavoidable in Western society and I am merely trying to understand the basic thinking of the fundamental principles.

According to what I’ve heard Adam and Eve committed what is known as original sin by violating God’s will in eating of the Tree of Knowledge which, I assume, is some way to more or less poetically indicate that they had ambitions to have a deep understanding of the nature of the universe in competition with the limited knowledge granted them by God. I know there are Freudian aspects to this but I will take this at face value that religion prized some form of general ignorance and discouraged general curiosity. I will take this as a given and not argue with its value as I see it. Perhaps I am mistaken in my understanding of this.

The punishment for this, according to the legend, is expulsion from the idyll of the Garden of Eden and, ultimately, that each living thing would eventually die.

Jesus Christ is acclaimed as a savior in that he was sacrificed in order that the acceptance of his Christian principles would remove the stain of original sin and believers would thereby escape death by living in eternity in Heaven. In other words, God created Christ for the very purpose of sacrificing him to allay God’s wrath on mankind for the original sin in the Garden of Eden. If Christ had not been killed and crucified God’s plan would have been frustrated and Christ’s life would have been purposeless. Perhaps I am wrong in my reasoning, but it would seem that the Romans and the Jews who saw to it that Christ was crucified were actually performing to God’s scenario and deserve no condemnation.

Aside from that I truly wonder at a God not generous enough to merely grant humanity in general a forgiveness without requiring human sacrifice of what is acclaimed as a truly remarkable human who is also something of a God. The act seems to smack somehow of the peculiar primitive practice of killing an innocent living creature to calm the anger of a furious God which, ultimately, is a strange image of the described beneficent supernatural creator.

I am not criticizing these concepts. I would merely like to understand them and wonder if my interpretation is correct.



Obres
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28 Jan 2010, 1:20 am

It makes a good story



Sand
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28 Jan 2010, 1:34 am

Obres wrote:
It makes a good story


Could be better, but it's not mine to say.



iamnotaparakeet
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28 Jan 2010, 1:54 am

In regard to the original sin, it wasn't "knowledge of the universe" but "knowledge of good and evil". Without arguing to much on semantics though, it wasn't really that they sought after knowledge, but that they directly disobeyed the one single command God had given to them at that time.

I know it is about 16 chapters to read, if you wish to read it all, but Romans does address a few of the points you mention. I could go through and suggest the exact passages if you like, but not right now as it is 12:49am and I don't know if I'll be awake much longer.



Magnus
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28 Jan 2010, 2:05 am

Interesting...

Can you ask a question? I'm not sure how to respond to this evocative thread.


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28 Jan 2010, 2:09 am

Sand wrote:
The punishment for this, according to the legend, is expulsion from the idyll of the Garden of Eden and, ultimately, that each living thing would eventually die.
I think also it is often believed that the moral corruption of all beings stems from this event as well.

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Jesus Christ is acclaimed as a savior in that he was sacrificed in order that the acceptance of his Christian principles would remove the stain of original sin and believers would thereby escape death by living in eternity in Heaven. In other words, God created Christ for the very purpose of sacrificing him to allay God’s wrath on mankind for the original sin in the Garden of Eden. If Christ had not been killed and crucified God’s plan would have been frustrated and Christ’s life would have been purposeless. Perhaps I am wrong in my reasoning, but it would seem that the Romans and the Jews who saw to it that Christ was crucified were actually performing to God’s scenario and deserve no condemnation.

This part is more questionable, as atonement theories are not given to Christians by any council, and there are multiple theories. Most do hold to the notion that Christ's death was necessary. I think that two basic notions tend to exist though: Christ was sacrificed to appease God's wrath, which is either the satisfaction theory or the penal substitution theory, and these theories are held to by much of the Catholic church and by most Protestants. There is also the idea that Christ died as a ransom to the devil to free the souls of mankind, an idea called the ransom theory or the Christus Victor theory, and these theories are held to by minorities of Protestants but is considered the early Church view and is the current Eastern Orthodox view.

In any case, performing to God's scenario does not mean performing well. Even if poor moral character is used in a plan, it is still poor moral character.

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Aside from that I truly wonder at a God not generous enough to merely grant humanity in general a forgiveness without requiring human sacrifice of what is acclaimed as a truly remarkable human who is also something of a God. The act seems to smack somehow of the peculiar primitive practice of killing an innocent living creature to calm the anger of a furious God which, ultimately, is a strange image of the described beneficent supernatural creator.

And that's why Satisfaction and Penal Substitution views are often criticized. The death is often considered barbaric and pointless. This causes people to look at other accounts of the atonement. Liberal Protestants are known for often seeking the Moral Influence theory, in which Christ's death impacts people on a personal level to arouse in them good will to God and good moral character. And I've already mentioned the Ransom theory, which rejects the sacrifice being done for God.

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I am not criticizing these concepts. I would merely like to understand them and wonder if my interpretation is correct.

Your interpretation of these two major events is pretty correct.



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28 Jan 2010, 2:24 am

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"And I saw three persons before me whose likeness I was unable to recognize. They were not from the powers of the god who created us."


-Gnostic Bible, Adam and Eve are Awakened

The three persons appearing to Adam are like the threefold figures appearing to John (Mary Magdalene IMO) at the opening of the Secret Book of John.


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Sand
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28 Jan 2010, 2:26 am

Nevertheless it still strikes me as peculiar that the death of Christ is simultaneously accepted as necessary to satisfy God's wrath and still that it creates Gods wrath that his son is killed. I don't know how to justify these two strangely opposing attitudes and feelings about them.



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28 Jan 2010, 4:06 am

Sand wrote:
Nevertheless it still strikes me as peculiar that the death of Christ is simultaneously accepted as necessary to satisfy God's wrath and still that it creates Gods wrath that his son is killed. I don't know how to justify these two strangely opposing attitudes and feelings about them.


Well I don't know if it creates God's wrath - surely God would've known what was going to happen so he would've been prepared for it emotionally in the first place (does God even have emotions?).

Sometimes I get a bit disheartened when people say that God is vengeful or sadistic or vain. I know there's stuff in the bible about kill this or sacrifice that, but people tend to project their insecurities into this big unknown quantity and in some cases use it as a justification to commit terrible acts.

I was raised a Catholic - not a hard line catholic, my parents were laid back - but the church played its part. Whether or not you believe it, the major tenet of Catholicism is the holy trinity. As a concept the way this was taught was that God and Jesus are part of the same 'thing' - some big incomprehensible thing (I use 'thing' simply as something beyond the understanding of people). Jesus was a man - but he was also God's son and a part of this big thing. Therefore when Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, it was kind of like God sacrificing himself on the cross. God finally felt what it was like to suffer as a man. Sometimes I think about that as if it was twofold situation - yes Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins... but what if God also learnt empathy? I've got no proof of this - we are talking about matters of faith - but the idea that God wanted to feel what it was like to be a man interests me. We'll never know if this was the case, but I'd take this interpretation over any other.

There's another good story called The Razing which accounts for what happen after Jesus died - about his rejecting heaven and descended into hell to take back the keys. Clearly there were no witnesses for this and its origins are debatable. But its interesting as it's a test of Jesus' faith once again. In this story all but a handful of people - Noah etc - were in heaven, the rest - including Adam and Eve - were in hell - so Jesus freed them and basically negated that idea of original sin.

Any how regardless of all these beliefs, ideologies, mythologies, laws - all these things confuse the issue. In the end it simply comes down to your own personal actions.



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28 Jan 2010, 9:48 am

A little background to put my answers in perspective. I came to believe in God 20+ years ago through my participation in AA & Al-Anon. Therefore my faith is first and foremost practical; i.e., it works in me to change me, and make me capable of growing into the good, temperate, loving person I want to be -- to be a better, happier, and more peaceful person than I could be by my own willpower. If faith in God does not affect me, it's meaningless to me.

That said, having once experienced the effect of "turning my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him" (to quote the AA 3rd step), in order to go deeper into that experience I felt the need to delve into a richer tradition where I could find the symbolic language and ritual with which to relate to the divine. I chose Catholicism because I had family roots in it, although I hadn't been raised in church. Also because it has a long and rich tradition. I've studied and continue to study scripture, Christian mysticism and monasticism, and theology (least of all, as I find it to be too much head and not enough heart). So that, in a nutshell, is where I'm coming from.

Sand wrote:
According to what I’ve heard Adam and Eve committed what is known as original sin by violating God’s will in eating of the Tree of Knowledge which, I assume, is some way to more or less poetically indicate that they had ambitions to have a deep understanding of the nature of the universe in competition with the limited knowledge granted them by God. I know there are Freudian aspects to this but I will take this at face value that religion prized some form of general ignorance and discouraged general curiosity. I will take this as a given and not argue with its value as I see it. Perhaps I am mistaken in my understanding of this.

The punishment for this, according to the legend, is expulsion from the idyll of the Garden of Eden and, ultimately, that each living thing would eventually die.


The number one key concept I learned in AA, that forms the foundation of my subsequent Christian faith, is to surrender self-will in favor of seeking and following the will of God. The sin of Adam and Eve is disobedience; specifically, they disobeyed God in eating of the fruit of the tree of "knowledge of good and evil". What the serpent tempted them with was "the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad." In other words, the sin -- which in my own experience underlies all other sins -- is in wanting to be their own gods, rejecting God's will and going by their own will instead, thinking that by knowing good & evil they would be able to run their own lives without deference to their Creator.

Sand wrote:
Jesus Christ is acclaimed as a savior in that he was sacrificed in order that the acceptance of his Christian principles would remove the stain of original sin and believers would thereby escape death by living in eternity in Heaven.


The fundamental "Christian principles" are the direct opposite of Original Sin: obedience, humility, self-sacrifice. Philippians 2:6-8:
Quote:
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

You see how this is the reversal of original sin?

Sand wrote:
In other words, God created Christ for the very purpose of sacrificing him to allay God’s wrath on mankind for the original sin in the Garden of Eden.

Christ was not created. Christ IS God. God Himself incarnated into human form in order to a) demonstrate the proper human attitude and obedience to God, and b) to accept on our behalf the consequences due to humanity as a whole for the human failure to trust in God and submit to His will. There's a whole Trinitarian brain-twister about the trinity and unity of God, by which on the one hand we can say that Jesus is God Himself made man, and at the same time differentiate between the Father and the Son ... to me that all seems like presumptuous speculation about the nature of God, but whatever. The point is that Jesus is not created, He is God Himself.

Jewish law prescribed periodic sacrifices to God, of part of people's crops & livestock, to atone for their sins throughout the year. The Letter to the Hebrews (see Chapter 9) spells out the theology of Christ as both perfect high priest who offered the sacrifice of His own body, and, at the same time, the perfect sacrificial victim (the Lamb of God), to end all temporal sacrifices.

Sand wrote:
If Christ had not been killed and crucified God’s plan would have been frustrated and Christ’s life would have been purposeless.

If Christ had turned back in fear of the suffering He would have to endure, if He had been unwilling to submit His human will to the divine will, then yes, the plan would have failed. The point, again, is submission to divine will in reversal of Adam & Eve's disobedience.

Sand wrote:
Perhaps I am wrong in my reasoning, but it would seem that the Romans and the Jews who saw to it that Christ was crucified were actually performing to God’s scenario and deserve no condemnation.

God does not will evildoing, although He sometimes brings good consequences out of it.

Sand wrote:
Aside from that I truly wonder at a God not generous enough to merely grant humanity in general a forgiveness without requiring human sacrifice of what is acclaimed as a truly remarkable human who is also something of a God. The act seems to smack somehow of the peculiar primitive practice of killing an innocent living creature to calm the anger of a furious God which, ultimately, is a strange image of the described beneficent supernatural creator.

Again, God ultimately sacrificed Himself, obviously not in the sense of putting an end to Himself, but in the sense of willingly undergoing extreme suffering and even the experience of human mortality. As for earlier animal sacrifice in the Jewish tradition, nearly all of the sacrificed animals (and crops) were actually eaten by their offerers together with the priests. It was no different from slaughtering them for home consumption; the difference is that they were taken to the temple to be slaughtered so that an additional layer of meaning attached to the killing and consuming: kind of like saying grace before supper, on a larger scale. As for the few "holocaust" sacrifices, i.e. those that were wholly burned on the altar, I would look at it as a concrete sign of one's willingness to give something up to God, in recognition that everything we have to offer we have received from Him. He makes the livestock fertile and healthy, he makes the sun shine and the rain fall and the seeds sprout into grain. Again, the "holocaust" is to be seen as an offering of food and wealth, not of the animal's life; grain and fruit were also included in the offerings.

So ... is this any help?



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28 Jan 2010, 9:54 am

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
In regard to the original sin, it wasn't "knowledge of the universe" but "knowledge of good and evil". Without arguing to much on semantics though, it wasn't really that they sought after knowledge, but that they directly disobeyed the one single command God had given to them at that time.

Let's break this bit of God's plan down, shall we?
Step 1: Create humans without the ability to understand the concept of right and wrong.
Step 2: Tell them it's wrong to eat the fruit that would give them the ability to understand the concept of right and wrong.
Step 3: Punish them for failing to understand the concept of right and wrong before eating the fruit that would give them the ability to understand the concept of right and wrong.
Any god who makes plans like this must be an utter moron. To punish a thing you made for not having an ability you didn't give it is, if not completely idiotic, then at least far from fair and benevolent. It's the equivalent of building a toaster and then complaining that it doesn't make tea. It's stupid, and if the toaster has feelings, mean.


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28 Jan 2010, 10:06 am

Vince wrote:
iamnotaparakeet wrote:
In regard to the original sin, it wasn't "knowledge of the universe" but "knowledge of good and evil". Without arguing to much on semantics though, it wasn't really that they sought after knowledge, but that they directly disobeyed the one single command God had given to them at that time.

Let's break this bit of God's plan down, shall we?
Step 1: Create humans without the ability to understand the concept of right and wrong.
Step 2: Tell them it's wrong to eat the fruit that would give them the ability to understand the concept of right and wrong.
Step 3: Punish them for failing to understand the concept of right and wrong before eating the fruit that would give them the ability to understand the concept of right and wrong.
Any god who makes plans like this must be an utter moron. To punish a thing you made for not having an ability you didn't give it is, if not completely idiotic, then at least far from fair and benevolent. It's the equivalent of building a toaster and then complaining that it doesn't make tea. It's stupid, and if the toaster has feelings, mean.


Yes, equivocation is a powerful rhetorical tool.



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28 Jan 2010, 10:08 am

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
Yes, equivocation is a powerful rhetorical tool.

Good job. You've managed to say absolutely nothing. How about you show me where I'm wrong instead?


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28 Jan 2010, 10:29 am

Vince wrote:
iamnotaparakeet wrote:
Yes, equivocation is a powerful rhetorical tool.

Good job. You've managed to say absolutely nothing. How about you show me where I'm wrong instead?


Knowledge =! concept.



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28 Jan 2010, 10:36 am

The whole thing is an abomination as far as I can see. Jesus Christ was made a martyr for no reason. He is the ultimate symbol of injustice and victimization. For two thousand years it is still the same. People don't want to educate or even evolve. They want to remain ignorant and childlike. They want to place responsibility of their actions and behaviors elsewhere and continue to use Jesus Christ's suffering on the cross to absolve them of their wrongdoing so they will be forgiven of their sins and obtain eternal life. Dream on buddy. It's barbarism glorified to this day, and it's bloody sick and perverse too. It's a magnet for all manner of corruption and immorality. I have no respect for this religion or the people who follow and revere it. It is an ultimate evil.



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28 Jan 2010, 11:17 am

Obres wrote:
It makes a good story


Tolkien's -Silmarilion- is better.

Bob Kolker