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Old 02-05-2009, 03:24 PM   #526
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Every side of every issue has engaged in censorship in one form or another, at some point or other in history. Using it as an argument has become something of a red herring.
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Old 02-05-2009, 04:21 PM   #527
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Every side of every issue has engaged in censorship in one form or another, at some point or other in history. Using it as an argument has become something of a red herring.
Not really.

Reasonable liberal secular societies are not generally hostile to religion, unless threatened with violence. (Please don't bring up Utopian experiments, which by their nature were similar to religion, and like all religions, were in competition for "souls" (or "hearts and minds.))

But religion, and in particular its monotheistic strains, is hostile by its very nature to both non-believers and to the followers of other deities. The first couple of the Ten Commandments hammer the point clearly:

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;

Do not have any other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me."

Throw in:

"You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles
(for you shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God).
You shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, ..."

And you get the picture. Religious intolerance and militancy is not a red herring at all, but at the very core of some of the currently most popular religions.

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Old 02-05-2009, 05:02 PM   #528
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Ah, but that post is a great example of rhetorical slight of hand -- I said that pointing out censorship is a red herring, as it's not limited to any one side.

"Censorship" is not analogous to "religious intolerance."

What are commonly known as "the 10 commandments" are directions to believers from their deity: if folks who believe in A are told not to believe in B, it's not inherently hostile to those who do believe in B. The commandment is directed internally.

The other passage you refer to (since it's not referenced, I'm having to kind of guess where exactly it occurred), is dealing with what amount to military marching orders, and those directives were to be carried out after all of the inhabitants of the land in question had been killed: men, women and children (another practice that historically has not been limited to any one party). As such, breaking down the trappings of those other religions was also under the heading of the believers keeping themselves faithful to their beliefs.

As it happens, they didn't do as they were ordered, and as a result ended up following all those other religions, so the orderer might have had something of a point.

If you look at the New Testament, these points are much clearer: all the teachings in it are directed at the individual getting his or her heart right, not at forcing anyone else to comply with their beliefs.

The differences between the focuses of the Old and New Testaments are far too complex to tackle here ... or for me to do justice to such an attempt, for that matter.
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:26 PM   #529
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"You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles
(for you shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God).
You shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, ..."

It's Exodus, 34.13.
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:38 PM   #530
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Thanks, Patricia, that's more or less where I expected it was.
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:40 PM   #531
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tompe - sorry, your reading of that quote is mistaken. A "country" can't do anything - it's just a geographic area under a common government. The American government is not the same as the country. Further, I have never seen foreign aid appropriated by a government referred to as "charity." Msmith was using metonomy, and was certainly referring to charitable giving by individual Americans. It's exactly the same usage as is typical: the country voted for the Democrats, the country produces fifty million tons of pig iron, the country is wild about football, etc.
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:00 PM   #532
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Yes, I agree the correlation holds up, but maybe poverty leads to poor education, so is closer to the root cause.

I think a poorly educated affluent person is less likely to be religious than an impoverished poorly educated person - because religion offers the poor hope for something better; the wealthier you are, the less your need for such comfort. Actually, God gets in the way if you can afford to enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle.
This is absurd. These are simply opinions stated out of ignorance, not facts. I have an advanced degree and I am highly educated. I am also an avid reader who is committed to expanding my education and knowledge. I am also a self made millionaire in my mid-thirties after starting with nothing. I am also a very devout Christian. The type of Christian who has examined all of the evidence on both sides of the equation and found what I believe to be the absolute truth. It is my faith in God that has carried me through difficult times and made me stronger, and my constant education about Him that has brought me to this conclusion. The more I study and the more life experiences I have convince me of the truth in the Gospels.

Just because you can afford a hedonistic lifestyle, does not mean you choose to engage in one. It is yet another myth of the rich and affluent. Read "The Millionaire Next Door" by Dr. Thomas Stanley who did the most comprehensive academic study of millionaires in history. Most millionaires (at least in the U.S.) are self made, hard working, not "showy", married to one person their entire lives (not hedonistic), and yes, have a belief in God.

Christianity has endured for two millennia and reached well over two billion adherents because of the awesome message of hope it brings to the world. The message of the New Testament and the wisdom, hope and moral guidance it contains have stood the test of time, and is the basis of a great deal of "morality" defined as we know it even today.

A true scientist should be humbled by all the mysteries of the universe they cannot explain while they continue to search for knowledge, not show arrogance and hypocrisy as Dawkins has consistently expressed and also showed in his interview. There is so much science doesn't know for certain. Dawkins doesn't KNOW where life comes from. He fully admitted it. He simply has FAITH in his point of view just as we all do. This belittling of other people is unwarranted and unjustifiable.

(If you missed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlZtEjtlirc )
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Old 02-05-2009, 07:30 PM   #533
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Hey, I thought everyone knew the Commandments....

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...
"Censorship" is not analogous to "religious intolerance."
No, it's not analogous. I was referring to the "intolerance and militancy" of most religions, particularly monotheistic ones, against those who either do not believe, or believe in competing deities. And generally, when left unchecked, this is worse than mere "censorship."



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... The commandment is directed internally.
I respectfully disagree. "You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles..." is hardly directed internally, and while I quoted this because it is considered part of the "Ten Commandments," it is a pretty mild instance of what the Lord directs against the believers of competing deities.

And external intolerance is not limited to only the Old Testament (I have always been puzzled by the faithfuls' argument that God is such a fickle character, changing moods from the Old Testament to the New, and then again, in the Koran.)

For instance, Jesus pronounces: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." (Luke 19:27)

Plus, let's not forget that all those who do not believe, are destined, by this "benevolent" version of Yahweh, to an afterlife of eternal torture, described with detail, which would normally get a book banned on obscenity grounds .

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Old 02-05-2009, 07:59 PM   #534
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This is absurd. These are simply opinions stated out of ignorance, not facts. I have an advanced degree and I am highly educated. I am also an avid reader who is committed to expanding my education and knowledge. I am also a self made millionaire in my mid-thirties after starting with nothing. I am also a very devout Christian.
You are greatly outnumbered by the devout Christians who have barely a high school education, work for minimum wage, and are on their third marriage.

Do you claim their "success" is also tied to their Christianity?

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The type of Christian who has examined all of the evidence on both sides of the equation
If you haven't danced with Mescalito, you haven't examined "all the evidence." If you haven't made a pilgrimage to Mecca, you haven't examined "all the evidence." If you haven't drawn down the moon and participated in the Great Rite, you haven't examined "all the evidence." You've looked at what was convenient for you to study, and made decisions based on text, not experience, even though many religions reject the notion that an intellectual understanding of a description is enough to understand them.

Saying "I examined all the evidence and I have found the best one" is like saying "I read everyone's bios on Match.com and I know my wife is the best woman in the world." She might be... but it's not because of what you read from the publicly-available information.

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It is my faith in God that has carried me through difficult times and made me stronger, and my constant education about Him that has brought me to this conclusion. The more I study and the more life experiences I have convince me of the truth in the Gospels.
Including the part where Jesus said his message was only for Jews, not Gentiles?

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Christianity has endured for two millennia and reached well over two billion adherents because of the awesome message of hope it brings to the world.
No, because it killed off all the competition in Europe. "Convert or die" is a great way to spread your "message of hope," and it's still being practiced in some parts of the world. In some parts of the US, even, where Christians feel vindicated not only striking out at members of other religions, but of members of their own whom they feel are not devout enough.

Christianity's message of "you don't have to do anything but believe, to be guaranteed bright shiny prezzies after death" is a hopeful one in places where life sucks. Where life is more affluent, the message lacks something, and that's shown by the number of people who move toward agnosticism in first-world countries.

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A true scientist should be humbled by all the mysteries of the universe they cannot explain while they continue to search for knowledge,
Indeed. But that search doesn't necessarily result in the conclusion of a sentient creator-deity, much less the notion that the deity specifically described in ancient Hebraic scriptures is the only one.
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:53 PM   #535
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... The commandment is directed internally.
I respectfully disagree. "You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles..." is hardly directed internally, and while I quoted this because it is considered part of the "Ten Commandments," it is a pretty mild instance of what the Lord directs against the believers of competing deities.
I'm afraid you're mistaken, Sonist, or at least focusing so narrowly that you're missing the point of the passage. The "Ten Commandments" themselves are listed in Exodus 20, a full 14 chapters earlier than the passage you quote, which is in Exodus 34, this passage is in no way part of them.

The passage you're referencing is something God said to Moses on the occasion of the making of the second set of stone tablets. Here it is in context:
Quote:
Then the LORD said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

"Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.

Exodus 34:10-15

Note that the passage you're focusing on, "Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." comes after these words: "Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you." (emphasis added, if it needs to be said)

The context makes it clear that the directive to "break down altars," etc., was something that was to be done by the Israelites after the promised driving out. At that point the driven out people would no longer be resident, and their altars, etc. would have been spoils of conquest, just like their cities, lands, and so on. Anything that was done in those lands at that point would then be directed at those currently living there, in other words, the Israelites, thus the instructions are directed internally to the Israelites.

I don't see any reasonable way to interpret that in context as an effort to enforce a belief system on anyone who wasn't already part of the Israelite people. The former residents weren't killed and driven out in order to make them convert, they were simply killed and driven out. The removal of the physical manifestations of their religions happened after the fact of their death and departure, and couldn't possibly have been intended to convert anyone, but rather to remove the physical manifestations of those religions. The purpose of doing so is pretty obviously to remove the potential influence those things might have on the Israelites after they took possession of the land.
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Old 02-05-2009, 11:09 PM   #536
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Note that the passage you're focusing on, "Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." comes after these words: "Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you." (emphasis added, if it needs to be said)

...
The former residents weren't killed and driven out in order to make them convert, they were simply killed and driven out.
And how does that fit with a commandment of "thou shalt not kill?"

(For a pack of rules often claimed to be the moral foundation for all US society, it's amazing that only three and a half of them are actually built into our laws.) (Adultery is no longer illegal in most states, although it is still grounds for divorce. Sort of. In those states that need grounds.)
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Old 02-05-2009, 11:50 PM   #537
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And how does that fit with a commandment of "thou shalt not kill?"
Well, that's actually a (probably deliberate) mistranslation. The original wording is "You shall not murder."

Murder and kill being rather different things.

Regarding your allusion in post #534 that Jesus said he only came to the Jews, that's a context problem as well. What he said was that he was sent to the Jews, and other remarks he made (as well as the epistles) clarify that he was sent first to the Jews. For example: "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17) Note that Jesus said "the world" not "the Jews." Later in John he said: "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." (John 10:16) Another reference to non-Jews -- the context here was speaking to the Jewish religious leaders.

Anything can mean anything if the context is sufficiently removed.

For example, I could claim that "what God has joined together, let no man put asunder" means that splitting wood is sacrilegious. That would be beyond ridiculous, of course, since the passage hasn't the faintest connection with wood, split or otherwise, but it goes to show that the context of a statement is extremely important to what that statement really means.

A lot of hostility toward God that I've encountered has a fairly firm rooting in what people have "heard" the Bible says. Often the words (or something close) really are in there, but they've been totally divorced from their context and made out to mean something else entirely, sometimes something completely opposite of what was originally meant.
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:04 AM   #538
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I'm afraid you're mistaken, Sonist, or at least focusing so narrowly that you're missing the point of the passage. ...

The passage you're referencing is something God said to Moses on the occasion of the making of the second set of stone tablets....
Not to nitpick, but if I recall, those other stone tablets are found in Deuteronomy 5, while God supposedly dictated the Exodus 34 version of the Commandments to Moses, who used plain ink to record them.

As far as I am aware, many consider all three occurrences of the "Ten (more or less) Commandments" to be valid, although there are some codified disagreements among the Christian sects, notably between the Catholics and the Protestants. Exodus 34 is often referred to as the renewal of the Covenant.

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... The context makes it clear that the directive to "break down altars," etc., was something that was to be done by the Israelites after the promised driving out. At that point the driven out people would no longer be resident, and their altars, etc. would have been spoils of conquest, just like their cities, lands, and so on. Anything that was done in those lands at that point would then be directed at those currently living there, in other words, the Israelites, thus the instructions are directed internally to the Israelites....
Actually, I don't find it clear at all, particularly in light of Exodus 34.16: "And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods."

Now, if God drove out all the poor Canaanites and other schmucks "before you," and as you state, the former inhabitants were no longer resident in those lands, what "daughters" is God talking about? Mail-order brides?

(Plus, in reality, most archeologists today seem to agree that the proto-Israelis were descendants of Canaanites, among other peoples.)

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...I don't see any reasonable way to interpret that in context as an effort to enforce a belief system on anyone who wasn't already part of the Israelite people....
Hm, again, I used the words "intolerance and militancy" in connection with religion in general, and monotheistic religions in particular. While "intolerance and militancy" may include attempts at conversion of the followers of competing deities, it also includes just smiting the "infidels."

Like in "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed." Exodus 22.20.

Or, to quote Jesus himself, again: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." (Luke 19:27)

Last edited by Sonist; 02-06-2009 at 04:12 AM.
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:16 AM   #539
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Ha! Yep, I'd call that a Biblical allusion. And a rather funny one at that.
I like it .

It's perhaps worth noting, as a matter of interest, that the Greek word used in the NT can mean both "camel" OR "camel hair", and that the author almost certainly meant "camel hair", which is very thick and wiry and hence virtually impossible to thread through a needle. But since the phrase with "camel" has become such a well-known expression, I suspect that my linguistic criticism isn't going to influence many Bible translators .
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:40 AM   #540
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Originally Posted by NatCh View Post
The other passage you refer to (since it's not referenced, I'm having to kind of guess where exactly it occurred), is dealing with what amount to military marching orders, and those directives were to be carried out after all of the inhabitants of the land in question had been killed: men, women and children (another practice that historically has not been limited to any one party). As such, breaking down the trappings of those other religions was also under the heading of the believers keeping themselves faithful to their beliefs.
Another point to bear in mind is that, in the ancient world, warfare was "total", and the losing side could expect what today we'd call "genocide". If a city was sacked, the "standard operating procedure" was that all the men and teenage boys were killed, and the woman and very young children taken by the victors as slaves. When we read in the Bible what amounts to clear instructions for genocide, in the book of Joshua, for example, we need to remember than this was simply a reflection of the prevaling culture of the day, and NOT something unique to (and a bad reflection of) the religion of the people involved. It's what EVERYBODY did at the time.

Another standard view in the ancient world was that the only way you could lose a war was if your god had turned against you - and hence, in a very real sense, ALL war was "holy war" - a "my god is more powerful than your god" type of contest. The fact that you'd lost was "proof" that you'd sinned against your god.
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