Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 313
“Christ on the Cross”
Sorry Rami, but that is not even close to a nice try if meant as a response to the Hitchens challenge...

There is absolutely nothing admirably “ethical” about “Christ on the Cross” (especially from any more humane point of view than that of His brutal executioners) — and there is definitely nothing “ethical” about the ridiculous legend of his martyrdom... Indeed, it's hard to imagine a more ridiculous and barbaric belief than seriously supposing that: an Iron Age cosmic Jewish zombie/apparition (who was ostensibly an incarnated version of his own father AND born of a virgin) can magically make you “live forever” if you symbolically eat his flesh, drink his blood, telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master / savior, and beg his forgiveness for any real or imagined “transgressions” — all so that He can purportedly (by His own ostensibly uniquely “effective” blood-sacrifice) conveniently remove an evil force from your “soul” that is present in humanity because a “help-meet” rib-woman was convinced (by a tempting talking-snake Devil) to eat from a magical tree of dangerous forbidden knowledge (since everyone knows that innocent Edenic ignorance is bliss)...biggrin

Furthermore, as Christopher Hitchens so eloquently summarized the risibly absurd stupidity of imagining Jesus as a messianic figure:
“Let’s say that the consensus is that our species, being the higher primates, Homo Sapiens, has been on the planet for at least 100,000 years, maybe more. Francis Collins says maybe 100,000. Richard Dawkins thinks maybe a quarter-of-a-million. I'll take 100,000. In order to be a Christian, you have to believe that for 98,000 years, our species suffered and died, most of its children dying in childbirth, most other people having a life expectancy of about 25 years, dying of their teeth. Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, suffering, misery, all of that for 98,000 years. Heaven watches this with complete indifference. And then 2000 years ago, thinks ‘That’s enough of that. It’s time to intervene,’ and the best way to do this would be by condemning someone to a human sacrifice somewhere in the less literate parts of the Middle East. Don’t let’s appeal to the Chinese, for example, where people can read and study evidence and have a civilization. Let’s go to the desert and have another revelation there. This is nonsense. It can’t be believed by a thinking person. Why am I glad this is the case? To get to the point of the wrongness of Christianity, because I think the teachings of Christianity are immoral. The central one is the most immoral of all, and that is the one of vicarious redemption. You can throw your sins onto somebody else, vulgarly known as scapegoating. In fact, originating as scapegoating in the same area, the same desert. I can pay your debt if I love you. I can serve your term in prison if I love you very much. I can volunteer to do that. I can’t take your sins away, because I can’t abolish your responsibility, and I shouldn’t offer to do so. Your responsibility has to stay with you. There’s no vicarious redemption. There very probably, in fact, is no redemption at all. It’s just a part of wish-thinking, and I don’t think wish-thinking is good for people either. It even manages to pollute the central question, the word I just employed, the most important word of all: the word love, by making love compulsory, by saying you MUST love. You must love your neighbour as yourself, something you can’t actually do. You’ll always fall short, so you can always be found guilty. By saying you must love someone who you also must fear. That’s to say a supreme being, an eternal father, someone of whom you must be afraid, but you must love him, too. If you fail in this duty, you’re again a wretched sinner. This is not mentally or morally or intellectually healthy. And that brings me to the final objection... which is, this is a totalitarian system. If there was a God who could do these things and demand these things of us, and he was eternal and unchanging, we’d be living under a dictatorship from which there is no appeal, and one that can never change and one that knows our thoughts and can convict us of thought crime, and condemn us to eternal punishment for actions that we are condemned in advance to be taking. All this in the round, and I could say more, it’s an excellent thing that we have absolutely no reason to believe any of it to be true.” tongue
Indeed, more broadly, Christianity is nonsense just as surely if applied to a deity allegedly favoring other peoples besides the Jews (in a less racist sort of anthropocentrism) — and nonsense even more certainly if expanded to a cosmic scale to analyze the probability of a vague and aloof deistic deity allegedly kindly favoring Earth and humankind, in general, but not necessarily having intervened in any particular historical/geographical area... (as Russell's Theologian's Nightmare quite glibly illustrates).

Finally, regardless of whether you mistakenly persist in imaging that the preposterous legend and vile messianic “moral” of Christ sacrificed on the Cross is somehow “ethical” — do you seriously imagine that nonbelievers cannot “martyr themselves” (selflessly/altruistically sacrifice their lives) for multifarious unimpeachably good causes: causes just as noble (or even better) than those of any Christian? In fact, there can be no reasonable doubt that they definitely can and have — and in most cases for much better causes than pointlessly dying for a servile, deplorable, and demonstrably false religion like Christianity... Moreover, nonbelievers’ sacrifices are arguably even more admirably “ethical” than the fatal sacrifices of theists’ — because nonbelievers who choose martyrdom do so with the almost certain knowledge that there is no afterlife (based on all the best currently available evidence) instead of with wishful dreams of imagined paradisiacal “salvation” in heaven.cool
Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 560
I did not know that Hitchens bettered Christ; given the choice between a foundation based upon Jesus and one of Hitchens, or any of the like from time before or after, I and I imagine a good many others shall continue to choose Christ.



Christopher's approach assumes the central story of the Christian bible to unworthy, unwarranted, unnecessary, and trivial. It takes the greatest story ever told, and seeks to replace it with something which proves time and again second rate. I say this from a perspective of the soul, but then again you don't care for that concept either so I feel that we are lost speaking different languages. I regress­. You state your case and I can do the same, however is there not another context with which we may hold this conversation? Consider Wendell Berry quotes on food. Can not the ethics of the son of man be understood by way of how we produce breakfast?
Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 314
If taken seriously rather than as entertaining antiquated myth, the central story of the Bible is one of the most deplorable and ridiculous stories ever told, and secular humanist philosophy is so much better than religion in general (and Christianity in particular) that it's not even funny! Contrary to popular but ignorant belief, it's trivially easy for most modern people to be far better than the Jesus character and his inexcusably immoral message... and not only Hitchens (whose character was far from perfect), but you and I too (and most decent modern people), are easily much better people than the Jesus described in the Gospels... Regardless, an argumentum ad populum fallacy is definitely no epistemic guarantee that you and billions of others are not woefully deluded and mistaken in your demonstrably misplaced faith in Christ and your incorrect assessment of his ostensible character and values.tongueMoreover, Hitchens and I don't baselessly “assume” the bible to be unworthy, unwarranted, and unnecessary — on the contrary, that assertion has ­unequivocally overwhelming and thoroughgoing evidence that supports it. Even what is widely considered the premier sermon of Jesus is actually pretty crappy, as are many pericopes of his alleged parables, actions, and teachings. Concurrently, while I certainly hope and advocate for a future where the bible will deservedly become as “trivial” as Greek mythology, that goal­ is unfortunately far from being achieved in the near future.

Moving on: it's hilarious and self-defeating that you would even bring up Hitchens’ razor — an excellent maxim that offers a sound basic standard of evidence (that you actually need to have some) as well as a concise yet cogent expression of the burden of proof which summarily defeats and dismisses so many of your unsubstantiated faith-based tenets and assertions... smileQUOD GRATIS ASSERITUR, GRATIS NEGATUR!tongue

The evidence-based truth is that Jesus has far too few laudable ethical points worth taking seriously (and he’s a huge part of the problem with Christianity, in general, and its deplorably primitive moral teachings, in particular); moreover, the problem with Jesus is NOT that too few Christians actually adhere to most of his teachings (one should definitely be glad they don’t)... In actual fact, neither liberal nor conservative Christians of any sect have any legitimate basis for identifying love/peace as the overall or most significant message of Jesus in the New Testament — and any rational, evidence-based reading of scripture should conclude that the New Testament is pretty much just as vile and antiquated as the Old Testament — only in sometimes different/modified ways — unless of course one resorts to fallacious special-pleading excuses and double-standards… One of my favorite analogies is that the Old Testament reminds me of George Orwell's 1984, while the New Testament is more reminiscent of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Furthermore, the reality is that the Jesus character is NOT an admirable philosopher (even by the standards of/before his own time), and his persona is far worse than merely a naïvely “loving” extreme pacifist “miracle-worker”… WWJD? is seldom, if ever, a useful question anyone should be asking — and it is never even close to the most beneficial question.
Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 315
There are NUMEROUS places throughout the Gospels where Jesus is quoted as teaching about hell, damnation, wrath, sanctimonious judgment, etc. — it’s a very prevalent and vile theme. It’s not a small number of passing references that modern/“progressive” Christians can justify ignoring while still revering cherry-picked/sanitized scripture, in general — it’s really quite plentiful, and there can be no question that the Jesus character falsely prophesized imminent apocalypse and preached many questionable or deplorable values. Fire and damnation references attributed to Jesus aren’t out of context or jarringly inconsistent with the rest of the Gospels’ overall messages — they’re woven into the text fairly seamlessly, and a number of consistent themes emerge, such as people being damned to hell for hearing and seeing Jesus and still not believing in him and “repenting” (many of these passages are allegedly spoken by Jesus, and many more are spoken by either John the Baptist or by each narrator/gospel writer). There are also several other more indirect allusions to these concepts: implying it in parables, using words like “punish” or “condemnation” or “wrath” instead of “hell” or “fire,” etc. Moreover, there are also MANY other troubling words “from Jesus” in the Gospels that aren’t about judgment and hell — but that also aren’t in keeping with a modern message of love and tolerance (not to mention common-sense ethics or basic pragmatism)…

Essentially, the Christian-Right’s antiquated faith in a hostile, bigoted, pissily judgmental apocalyptic Christ… it’s every bit as strong as liberal Christians’ watered-down (and also selectively cherry-picked) faith in a gentle, loving, forgiving Christ who they imagine *just* wants us to treat one another with compassion (i.e. the “hippie socialist” Christ). Their conviction is every bit as powerful; they feel it in their hearts every bit as passionately, and they have every bit as much Biblical “evidence” — which is to say, ultimately zero ACTUAL evidence — to back up their preposterous claims and intolerantly theocratic immoral values...

Most “Christians” aver that the main overall teachings / messages of the New Testament are generally “moral and worthy of following” (whether the Gospels and other books are reliable “history” as believers spuriously claim or demonstrably mere myth) — but which message / character of the Jesus of legend are readers of Christian scriptures meant to admire and emulate? Contrary to popular belief, most of the main / overall messages of the New Testament as well as many aspects of Jesus (as recounted in the Gospels and the New Testament) are actually quite vile and/or antiquated. Was Jesus a…
  • Cynic philosopher — The many borrowings from Greek philosophy in Jesus’ teachings would make sense if Jesus had actually been a wandering Cynic or a Stoic philosopher, or the Galilean equivalent . Burton L. Mack, John Dominic Crossan, Gerald Downing and others have strongly defended this view, citing plenty of Cynic statements with their equivalents in the Gospels.
  • Liberal Pharisee — Something like his predecessor, the famous Rabbi Hillel. In Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus, historian Harvey Falk argues that virtually all of Jesus’ judgments on the Halakha, the Jewish law, are paralleled in the Pharisaic thought of that time, as well as later rabbinic thought. Similarly, Dead Sea Scroll authority Geza Vermes, an expert on New Testament-era Judaism and author of Jesus the Jew: a Historian’s View of the Gospels, sees Jesus as one of the popular freewheeling charismatic Hasid Galilean holy men: unorthodox figures like Hanina Ben-Dosa or Honi the Circle-Drawer. Just like Jesus, they had little respect for the niceties of Jewish law, which of course angered the religious establishment.
  • Conservative Rabbi — On the other hand, Jesus upholds the Torah, insisting “not one jot or stroke of the Law will pass away” [Matthew 5:17–19]. He wears a prayer shawl tasseled with tzitzit [Matthew 9:20–22], observes the Sabbath, and worships in synagogues as well as the Temple.
  • Antinomian Iconoclast — But on the other other hand, Jesus then turns around and, point-by-point, dismantles the Torah [Mark 7:15–20, Matthew 5:21–22, 27–28, 31–32, 33–37, 38–42, 43–44, etc.] and dismisses the Temple [Matthew 12:6; Mark 13:1–2; Luke 21:5–6]. So, there is no consistency whatsoever in what sorts of laws Jesus might advocate…
  • Magician/Exorcist/Faith Healer — Morton Smith, discoverer (or more likely, its forger — but that’s another story) of the Secret Gospel of Mark made the argument that Jesus the Christ was actually Jesus the Magician in his book of the same name. Like the pagan miracle workers, Jesus purported to cast out demons and “healed” the blind, deaf, and mute with mud and spit, using the same spells, incantations and techniques as taught in the many popular Greek magic handbooks of the time [Mark 5:41; 7:33–34].
  • Violent Zealot Revolutionary — But maybe Jesus was really a political messiah, inciting a revolt against the Romans — like Theudas or “the Egyptian” (the unnamed Messianic figure Josephus describes), or the two “robbers” crucified with him (since rebel bandits were commonly referred to as robbers). Why else would it be the Romans crucifying him, rather than the Jewish Sanhedrin just stoning him to death for blasphemy? There is evidence one can point to: Luke’s Gospel lists a disciple called Simon “the Zealot,” and seems to hint that Jesus had other Zealots in his entourage: at the Last Supper, Jesus tells his followers to grab their bags and buy a sword [Luke 22:36]; they tell him they already have two swords on hand [Luke 22:38]; when Jesus is about to be arrested they ask if they should attack [Luke 22:49]. In Mark 14:47, one of the disciples does just that and cuts off the ear of one of the High priest’s men (the story grows more details in the other Gospels: Matthew 26:51– 52, Luke 22:50–51, John 18:10). Many capable scholars including Robert Eisler, S. G. F. Brandon, Hugh J. Schonfield, Hyam Maccoby, and Robert Eisenman have thought this is where the “real” Jesus is to be found, and there are many scholarly variations arguing for the “Jesus-as-Che” revolutionary theory.
  • Nonviolent Pacificist Resister — But then again, Jesus isn’t called the Prince of Peace for nothing. There’s no trace of such political agitation when he instructs his followers “if someone strike you on the right cheek, turn the other also” [Matthew 5:39], or when conscripted by Roman soldier to lug their gear for a mile, to “go with him two” [Matthew 5:41]. Pacifist/nonviolent civil-disobedience and violent Zealot revolution against Roman rule are two different and incompatible ethical and tactical messages.
  • Apocalyptic Prophet — This is the Jesus that Albert Schweitzer and many subsequent historians have thought was the “real” thing: a fearless, fiery Judgment Day preacher announcing that the end was nigh and the Kingdom of God was coming fast. Like Apostle Paul of Tarsus (and many other first century Jewish apocalypticists) this Jesus did not expect the world to survive his own lifetime. Bart Ehrman makes a well-reasoned case for such a figure in Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.devilish

Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 316
To continue:
  • First-Century Proto-Communist — Was Jesus the first Marxist? Milan Machoveč and other leftists have thought so. You have to admit Jesus has nothing good to say about the capitalist pigs of his day [Luke 6:24, 12:15], repeatedly preaching that they cannot serve both god and money [Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13], that they should sell all they own and distribute the money to the poor [Matthew 19:21 , Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22] and most famously, that it is easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for the rich to get into heaven [Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25] — and don’t forget his casting the moneychangers out of the Temple with a scourge. Acts not only depicts the early Christians as sharing everything in common, it even the states the Marxist credo: “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need” [Acts 4:34–35]. Funny that fiscally-conservative Republican fundamentalists and Evangelicals on the religious-Right never focus on this aspect of Christ in their public policies, even if some are personally charitable to causes that aren’t all bad.
  • Early Feminist — Or was Jesus the first male Feminist? Some scholars like Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and Kathleen Corley point to his unusual attitudes towards women, some of which seem remarkably progressive for the first century (though still antiquated by modern standards). They say not only that some of his closest followers were women, but he forgave a woman caught in adultery, and challenged social customs concerning women’s role in society [John 4:27, Luke 7:37, Matthew 21:31–32]. OR — was he a male chauvinist pig? Onlookers criticize him for being “a glutton and a drunk” who consorts with riffraff like tax collectors and whores [Luke 5:30; 5:33–34; 7:34, 37–39, 44–46]. Obviously, he cannot have been both…
  • Family Man — but then again, Jesus is a champion of “good old family values” when he gets even tougher than Moses, ratcheting Old Testament law up a notch and declaring “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” [Mark 10:11–12]. He also reminds his followers to honor their father and mother, then sternly warns that “whoever speaks evil of father and mother must surely die” [Matthew 15:4]… all of which not exactly reasonable, modern, or healthy sorts of “pro-family” stances on display.
  • Home Wrecker — in a clear double-standard, when Jesus speaks evil of the family, apparently it’s okay: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” [Luke 14:26]. When Jesus is told his mother and brothers have come to see him, Jesus ignores them and asks, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” [Matthew 12:47–48] “Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” [Matthew 10:34–35].
  • Savior of the World? — But despite all that, Jesus purportedly loves everyone; he even preached to Samaritans [John 4:39–41; Luke 17:11–18] and Gentiles [Matthew 4:13–17, 24–25]. OR, was he actually claiming to be the Savior of Israel (only)? — since, he allegedly loves “everyone” except Samaritans or Gentiles... When a Canaanite woman begs him to heal her daughter he ignores her. After the disciples ask him to make her go away, he first refuses, saying “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” [Matthew 15:24]. When Jesus sends out his disciples, he commands them NOT to preach the good news to Gentile regions or Samaritan cities [Matthew 10:5–6].
  • Radical Social Reformer — Still others like John Dominic Crossan and Richard Horsley see Jesus as a champion for the Jewish peasants suffering under the yoke of the Roman Empire and its rapacious tax collectors; this would be a Jesus somewhat along the lines of Gandhi and his struggle against the British Empire… and could be laudable (if taken on its own).


Essentially, even IF Jesus was a real mortal historical figure rather than a myth (which is arguably more likely), it cannot be adequately known what he really stood for (by liberal theists or anyone else) — and most of his alleged teachings (as passed down to us) are antiquated, deplorable, or both.

If he is really such a beneficent savior though, then why won’t the “real” Jesus please stand up and get on with the long overdue Second Coming to resolve these issues? As Dan Barker has so eloquently summarized it, “most Christians today are generally good people in spite of the Bible. They are smarter than Jesus. They are nicer than God.” And that is true whether they are liberal or conservative; though of course liberal Christians are significantly more ethical regarding many issues, this does not necessarily make them more like the Jesus character.devilish

In summary: my point, which should be adequately clear and amply supported even by the mere smattering of multifarious (and mutually incompatible / self-contradictory) Biblical citations regarding the generally unwise teachings of “Jesus” (as detailed above), is that it’s actually not possible for *anyone* to accurately or reliably “describe” a verifiably “true” essence of the Jesus character (whether as a mortal man or in any more preposterously legendary role such as prophet or “messiah”) with anything even approaching a degree of certainty worthy of being persuasive. Admittedly, there are arguably some things we can “know” that the Jesus character reportedly opposed (e.g. wealth), but there are few things we can “know” with much confidence that he staunchly supported with no extant conflicting testimonies or contradictory evidence, and there are significantly fewer still of his teachings that are actually admirable. To put it bluntly, looking to Jesus for any degree of ethical or religious guidance is like searching through one’s own shit to find a few remaining kernels of poorly digested sweet corn from yesterday’s dinner; there are much cleaner and better sources of ethical nourishment and admirable inspiration (even from before the first-century), and I’m sick of billions of people ignorantly imagining Jesus as some sort of exemplary moral paragon for generations based on a few sanitized and carefully cherry-picked pathetically naïve platitudes (not to mention the more than one-billion Christians who even more foolishly believe Jesus was/is a divine messiah). Essentially, Jesus fundamentally doesn’t deserve his ludicrously lionized reputation and isn’t even close to worthy of such excessive respect no matter which version of the character one prefers. Christianity is an insidious Frankenstein’s-monster: grown like a cancer from an obscure apocalyptic savior-cult that ought to have fallen into the trash-bin of history long ago — but, unfortunately, it hasn’t…

So, to conclude: I definitely face no difficulty whatsoever from Hitchens’ razor and have overwhelmingly superior evidence on my side… How about you?tongue
Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 569
“The sole substitute for an experience we have not ourselves lived through is art and literature.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 335
“The sole substitute for an experience we have not ourselves lived through is art and literature.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
And this dubious pronouncement “proves” what, exactly, in your opinion?confused That quote does not constitute a sound or substantive argument vis-à-vis matters under debate on this thread that I can see... What argument do you aver that it’s meant to advance?

Take, for example, the magnum opus of the quote’s author: Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago is certainly a poignant classic and he remains a deservedly famous writer, but art and literature ultimately do not determine or trump realistic ontology (including known, discoverable, or refutable factual truths or falsehoods concerning human experiences). Art and literature are not always historically reliable (even in the case of history or biography that isn't fictionalized), and myth is certainly not historically reliable to any impressive degree, by definition. Moreover (just as in some of Chris Hedges’ preposterous misconceptions), there is much that ought to be critically questioned in Solzhenitsyn’s views, especially including (but not limited to):his deluded Russian Orthodox Christianity (which went so far into deplorable sectarianism as to oppose pluralistic religious freedom and was so asinine as to blame “forgetting God” for the Russian revolutions), questionable hints of possible anti-Semitism, and relatively conservative or at least moderate politics (though some would call him a nationalistic Tsarist reactionary). Even his obituary in the New York Times makes some salient critical points at his expense.wink Regardless, my aim is not to “poison the well” or discredit Solzhenitsyn... Rather, my question is: how do his experiences automatically or necessarily validate any of his particular claims? On the contrary, even claims based on personally transformative and influential firsthand experiences must withstand any and all warranted critical scrutiny and be prudently evaluated for bias which could result from those experiences as dispassionately/objectively as possible in order to pass-muster.

Furthermore, art, literature, and history are far from our only tools for understanding past eras, locations, cultures, and multifarious diverse human experiences (including those which we have not ourselves lived through) with maximally reliable and realistic accuracy. Historiography, philology, critical exegesis, etc. are all much easier and better when assisted and augmented by archaeology, physical-anthropology, scientific dating methods, Bayesian inference, etc. Art and literature can be amazingly powerful and moving — but their explanatory powers and meanings are only enhanced when combined with the even more verifiably awesome explanatory power of methodologically-sound scientific analyses.biggrinConcurrently, as eloquent as it is, I must wholeheartedly disagree with the implication of Keats’ famous poem, Lamia:
Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine -
Unweave a rainbow…

*NOTE: in line three, “awful” = “awe-inspiring” (in more modern vernacular)
Keats’ chief villain in the poem, though not explicitly named, was Isaac Newton — whose use of the prism to split white light into its component colors was viewed by Keats as akin to desecration... but I aver that a rainbow, for example, actually becomes more beautiful once we understand and appreciate more deeply what it really is and how it works (learn to artificially “see” ultraviolet and infrared in addition to merely being able to simplistically take in its visible beauty). Profoundly and wisely experiencing phenomena through both their Apollonian and Dionysian modalities does not require any non-overlapping-magisteria or God-of-the-gaps delusions or spurious supernatural speculations — nor does it undermine maximally profound appreciation of emotionally moving art and literature (while maintaining reasonable skepticism whenever warranted). Also, even firsthand subjective personal experience is much less reliable than most people assume in a plethora of well understood ways, most of which are compounded in art and literature — and even more egregiously in mythology.cool

Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 577
It is interesting that the thread was begun to provide a descriptive analysis of current economic trends and theory [ie. inverted totalitarianism] and yet somehow it became one of Jesus.
Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 338
Ironically, opposition to wealth is one of the few things we can actually be reasonably sure that the Jesus character purportedly supported which isn’t deplorably immoral or antiquated (though He opposed wealth and advocated eschewing materialistic possessions to what I would consider an unhealthily ascetic degree)... Anyway Rami, at least you seem to be somewhat in agreement with your legendary/imaginary “savior” regarding that particular issue, if not perhaps vis-à-vis other less popular and praiseworthy aspects of the Jesus character's generally reprehensible and ridiculous theology.biggrin

coolAs for the “digressions” on this thread, the responsibility for that is definitely shared... but they began with the fact that Chris Hedges does not deserve to be considered, in general, a “truth speaker” — as you initially touted him — by any stretch of the imagination, and his egregious (and too often unprofessional) flaws as a thinker are unfortunately detrimental to the legitimacy of his sometimes warranted critiques of various American policies and tactics... Moreover Rami, you have presented multiple fallacies on this thread regarding ignorantly mistaken purported “implications” of the contemporary atheist movement, indefensibly and inaccurately conflating secular-humanism with Communist totalitarian-socialism, deludedly regarding the dangers of American imperialist hegemonic “empire” (some of which I certainly agree are problematic) as allegedly of greater concern than the threat of global theocratic terrorism/jihad, and finally also misunderstanding basic realities of the Bible and the nature of the Jesus character’s alleged teachings according to the Gospels — so, unfortunately, all of these fallacies and errors (once introduced onto the thread by you) deserved to be corrected in no uncertain terms! (That said: it is, I suppose, “regrettable” that this necessitated time and effort that could have been better spent addressing the intended topic directly and specifically instead of exposing its proponents’ often egregious flaws, in general — or irrelevantly debating religion or the teachings of Jesus, which certainly don't constitute any useful answers vis-à-vis this thread’s intended topic...)

Regardless, for the record, ­I have (at least briefly/summarily) already addressed the thread’s intended topic:
Hedges has no clue what he is talking about when it comes to atheism, and (somewhat relatedly) when it comes to some serious threats regarding how religion actually plays out in the world, and I think this clouds his judgment in some cases (for good or ill, for example, he is more concerned about the military and antiterrorism tactics of the United States rather than the threat posed by the terrorists we exterminate). So, fine, let’s discuss that, if it’s more pertinent to this thread…

There is a lot I don’t like about the United States and would like to see progressively improved, and I will even say that some things are getting worse in troubling ways in many socioeconomic aspects of our society as well as the government (and that’s not even getting into global environmental concerns); like many nations, we have corruptions and inefficiencies (and more than most as an unprecedented superpower). The agenda of the religious-Right terrifies and infuriates me, as does how it dominates the GOP platform. I do not think, however, that we are currently totalitarian by any reasonable definition, and I think we would have a long way to go and much opposition before we would could ever come to that point. I also strongly disagree with those who see no significant differences between the two major parties (despite the fact that the Democrats are arguably far from ideal); there are massive and important differences, both fiscal and social, though our two-party/winner-take-all system does make for narrower political spectrum than in many other nations. Anyway, I do not see a military coup or police-state in our future. And I don't think being a very flawed and corrupt democracy (that is also hegemonically imperial) makes us totalitarian or even just oligarchical — ergo, I think the status quo calls out for major progressive reforms, not a revolution.
If I have time at some point in the near future, I will respond more specifically to each of Naomi Wolf’s ten points in her video (some of which I agree are definitely valid concerns...), but for now I will say that I found her discomfiture during the Q&A at the end of the video (which was largely dominated by kooky Libertarians and anarcho-capitalists) to be quite hilariously awkward; good luck to her if those are the sorts of folks poised to join the vanguard of her planned revolution to counter American imperialism. In general, however, I think ­Naomi Wolf’s case for impending American “totalitarianism” (of any sort deserving of that label) is a hyperbolically exaggerated slippery-slope fallacy...cool
Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 591
...if, I say now, when, as I conceive and imagine, God orders me to fulfill the philosopher's mission of searching into myself and other men, I were to desert my post through fear of death, or any other fear; that would indeed be strange, and I might justly be arraigned in court for denying the existence of the gods... then I would be fancying that I was wise when I was not wise. For this fear of death is indeed the pretense of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being the appearance of knowing the unknown; since no one knows whether death, which they in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. ...this is the point in which, as I think, I am superior to men in general, and in which I might perhaps fancy myself wiser than other men — that whereas I know but little of the world below, I do not suppose that I know: but I do know that injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonorable, and I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil.
Socrates
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