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Monday, January 12, 2015

The pride of the self-gelded

Guy Gavriel Kay is one of the better fantasy authors writing today. I posted a review of his The Lions of Al-Rassan, which is my favorite of his books, at Recommend. But it is a shame, bordering on a tragedy, that he doesn't see how his inclination towards atheistic secularism will prevent him from ever approaching literary greatness:
The Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay has explored the issues of faith and religious intolerance in several of his fantasy books, such as his duology "The Sarantine Mosaic," set in a world modelled on Byzantium during the time of the Emperor Justinian. Kay's stories echo the conflict that arose historically between such religions as paganism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

. . . there has been a natural progression from Fionavar, through Tigana and [A Song for] Arbonne, to The Lions of Al-Rassan, away from the mythic and the fantastical, and towards the human and the historical. The progression from myth to religion is another way to describe it, not that the books are religious, but that we move away from what, in Fionavar, I've sometimes called a Homeric world; the gods intervene in the affairs of men, they have their own squabbles and feuds amongst themselves, and yet they're physically present, men can sleep with the goddess, men can battle with words with the gods – the gods are present. In Tigana, magic is still there, but, for the most part, magic and its use was employed as a sustained metaphor for the eradication of culture. The major use of magic in the novel Tigana is the elimination of the name of the country Tigana, which for me was very much metaphorical. In A Song for Arbonne, we're into a story about how religion, the organized religion, the clergy, manipulates the people with their beliefs about gods and goddesses. By the time we get to The Lions of Al-Rassan, it's mainly about how organized religion takes away the freedom and the breathing space of individuals. So there is a natural progression, which is not to say that I know where the next book is going, that that progression is necessarily continuing.

It certainly seems however that the religious dimension is not going to disappear; it's been very strong in the last two books, and certainly The Fionavar Tapestry has, in a sense, a proto-religion at the heart of it. Can you conceive of writing a book which does not have religion as a factor?


Yes, I'm sure I can; I am not a religious man, what I think I am is a person keenly interested in history. When you talk about proto-religion, you're talking about, as I said, the Homeric idea of gods and goddesses incarnate, and the progression in history away from that. I think that, if I would characterize my interest, it's very much in the historical and mythical roots of what we have become as cultures. When I say "we", I mean Western men and women, because that's the culture that I feel most at home in, it's the culture that most of us are, to some degree, shaped by. So, in that sense, the four books (treating Fionavar as one) have been incorporating that tension, but it's not in any huge sense central to my thinking or my own work.

Does that mean you might write a novel about the Enlightenment, about skepticism coming to the fore?


I think skepticism comes to the fore in the last two books to a great degree. I think that it's part of the movement from myth to religion. In The Lions of Al-Rassan, one of the reasons the book is a fantasy, rather than a story about medieval Spain, even though it's very closely modelled on real history, is that I wanted to see what would happen to people's preconceptions and prejudices about cultures: Christian, Moslem, Jewish, if the names were changed and if the religious beliefs were rendered virtually banal: one religion worships the Sun, another worships the Moon, and another worships the stars. And out of that relatively banal conflict of ideologies, you have crushingly brutal military and psychological conflict. When you speak of skepticism, it seems to me that The Lions of Al-Rassan should be very clear for the readers: the point that underlies the detaching of these religious conflicts from their real underpinnings is that, if we step back a bit, we can start to see how much violence, how much conflict is generated by something that may be no more complex than whether you worship the Sun rising in the morning or the stars beginning to shine at night.
It's rather remarkable that such an intelligent and talented man can be so brutally foolish as a result of his anti-religious bias. The sad thing is that he transforms what could have been a great book into one that is merely good, and is dishonest to boot. The amusing thing is that he appears to think that his obvious biases are not readily apparent to the intelligent reader; faithless ecumenicism is the romantic ideal he portrays in the novel.

The mere fact that I could write the following while knowing nothing of the author's religious faith, or lack there of, demonstrates the intrinsic problem of the irreligious attempting to meaningfully address religious themes.

This surfeit of excellence might have been excused as a stylistic statement on medieval panegyrics were it not for the author's excessively modern take on religion. Despite the plot being dependent upon the conflict between the star-worshipping Asherites (Muslims), sun-worshipping Jaddites (Christians) and moon-worshipping Kindath (Jews), the author's own apparent lack of religious sensibility prevents the book from being as rich and moving as it easily could have been. (A moment's research confirms that Kay is not, by his own statement, a religious man; it definitely shows throughout.)

Note that the interview proves that Kay's portrayal of religion in the book is intentionally false and shallow. He does not recognize that by rendering such a false account of religion, he has undermined his own attempt to make a case against it. By detaching the "religious conflicts" from their real underpinnings, what he proves is that religion doesn't have much, if anything, to do with violent conflicts that arise from the normal historical reasons of ambition, pride, greed, and the desire for power.

Like most secular writers, Kay fails to grasp that if he wishes to successfully attack religion, he must portray it with absolutely rigorous honesty. Because, in The Lions of Al-Rassan, all he has managed to accomplish in this regard is to reduce the literary value of his own work in order to demolish a strawman of his own construction. In this way, he is the anti-Eco, as Eco, despite his own secular inclinations, does his fictional characters the courtesy of taking their beliefs seriously and at face value, which is why he is the better and more memorable writer.

I have never forgotten the genuine anger in Umberto Eco's voice when he corrected me concerning a question I asked him about the "villain" of The Name of the Rose: "Jorge is not the villain, he is one of the heroes ... He is expressing certain attitudes of his time, but I don't consider him a villain. It is a confrontation between two worldviews, and a worldview is a system of ideas."

That is the difference between a great writer and one who is merely a fine literary technician with a bent for storytelling. The great writer is willing to permit his characters to speak for themselves, according to their worldviews. The technician, on the other hand, insists on reducing his characters to puppets intended to express his worldview.

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94 Comments:

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 8:24 AM  

Vox,
Not sure if this is OT, but I have been reading Lysander Spooner's essays on Deism and comparing them to Christianity (as far as I have insight into the NT anyway) and it seems to me that Deism is generally correct and that the more dogma you add to it the less likely you are to hit the truth. Though there is definitely something to this being a fallen world run by the prince of lies too, some of the other details of Christianity, and even more so Judaism, ring hollow to me and a departure from the loving God I am sure exists. If you are familiar with Spooner's work, would you comment on his shortcomings as you see them, if any?
Thanks.

Anonymous TroperA January 12, 2015 8:49 AM  

It bothers me that I see a strong streak of atheism within the Manosphere--that men who are wise enough to recognize reality are quick to embrace nihilism. Pieces like this seem sadly typical:

http://www.returnofkings.com/51825/as-we-race-towards-the-void

What I want to know is how so many self-admitted nihilists can express anger at the radical feminists for screwing them over, when feminists are merely acting in a way to extract maximum power and resources from their environment. If this world is the only one we have to look forward to, then shouldn't anyone do everything in their power to make themselves happy, even at the expense of others? Nihilists will try to hem and haw and say they can be decent people without an objective standard of morality, but where did the values that make them decent people come from? Certainly not from their nihilism OR their atheism....

Anonymous Ostar January 12, 2015 9:09 AM  

I rather liked his two books set in China - Under Heaven and River of Stars. There's no Christianity to deny in ancient China, so he's more focused on storytelling and setting.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey January 12, 2015 9:12 AM  

OT: "the conflict that arose historically between such religions as paganism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam."

Should be: among.

Anonymous Rationaliist January 12, 2015 9:30 AM  

1. IF we assume that Christianity is as violent as Islam...
2. Then we can say that religion in general = violence.

It's called logic, folks.

Anonymous Cliff(Light)³ as Mcro.t0nal_piltdown January 12, 2015 9:30 AM  

Vox,

Would it be correct to say that intellectual honesty is just as important as sheer literary talent and skill? I've been trying to pinpoint the vital quality a writer must possess that would allows him to create characters with multifaceted dimension.

Blogger Mindstorm January 12, 2015 9:33 AM  

@TroperA

It's more about the anger at themselves for not noticing the feminist modus operandi earlier. Those who are younger, are too busy to be angry, or at least ought to.

Anonymous Homesteader January 12, 2015 9:41 AM  

However, that assumption is flawed in today's world. Islam far and away exceeds all other religions for violent acts inspired by and called for by its core teachings.

Islam=violence.

It's called reality, Rationalist.

Anonymous Stephen J. January 12, 2015 9:54 AM  

Kay does better with religion in The Sarantine Mosaic, where the idea that there is a supernatural reality underlying religious perspectives gets more serious consideration; the scenes where the mosaicist Crispin meets the zubir, and then finds the woodland shrine to Jad and is bowled over by the mosaic inside, together constitute a much more moving epiphany than anything that happens in Lions.

Though even there, sadly, Kay does not present a complete look at how religious faith informs human life: the idea that the intrusion of the Numinous, to use Lewis's term, into the world can make an actual moral difference to someone's character and life decisions -- can actually make someone a better person -- is never portrayed. And as in Lions, anyone whose decisions are driven largely by sincere piety is always presented as someone who is making the world worse in some way, less beautiful, less peaceful or less fun, even if they themselves are good-hearted or noble people like Ines of Valledo or the Sarantine strategos Leontes; the idea that there might be meaningful moral differences between Jaddism and Asharism, as there are between Christianity and Islam, is deliberately avoided.

Blogger bob k. mando January 12, 2015 10:13 AM  

Guy Gavriel
And out of that relatively banal conflict of ideologies,



you know, the difference between International Socialism and National Socialism is relatively banal.

after all, they are both quite effective at their primary goal ... that is, murdering people by the millions.

Blogger bob k. mando January 12, 2015 10:28 AM  

^
^
^
in case anyone wonders what i'm doing up there, Guy's entire intellectual critique of the religious boils down to "Disqualify".

and when Disqualify is all you got, it's really easy to flip that script.

the proper response to Islam ...

http://i.imgur.com/M18rQJ4.jpg

Blogger bob k. mando January 12, 2015 10:34 AM  

*snort*

http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/01/education-plus-ideology-exaggerates-rejection-of-reality/

Blogger Brad Andrews January 12, 2015 10:34 AM  

Seeking pleasure without God leads to:

[Ecc 2:17 KJV] 17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun [is] grievous unto me: for all [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.

It all seems like vanity if you try to evaluate it with only your passions. Thus they head for nihilism.

Add in a mix of

[Jdg 21:25 KJV] 25 In those days [there was] no king in Israel: every man did [that which was] right in his own eyes.

[Rom 1:22 KJV] 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Proverbs talks a lot about the results of being a fool and much of it seems to apply to many PUAs and such. They have wisdom (at times), but are driven without any guidance from God.

Anonymous Michael Maier January 12, 2015 10:39 AM  

"What interested me about that time and place was the way in which ideological warfare, holy war, utterly erased the middle ground. In the astonishingly fertile period, what was called the Golden Age of Spain, people from different religions and ideologies could communicate with each other and interact. But it was destroyed because that middle ground disappeared when the holy war began. People lost their individuality and became elements, cogs in the war machine. When I started doing my reading on the Iberian peninsula's early history, I cannot tell you how strongly that resonated for me as an underlying trope of the modern world: the inability of people to communicate across ideological divisions, because they're enlisted in the service of whatever the conflict may be.

Not having read this guy, I'm confused. Mostly because Wiki puts "The Golden Age" starting at the end of the Reconqista... how is this what he's blathering about? Spain kicks out the Muslims and it's the Golden Age of interaction amongst all peoples?

I mean I can see how that would be, but it seems to go against what he's going on about in the interview linked.

Anonymous jamsco January 12, 2015 10:44 AM  

"In this way, he is the anti-Eco, as Eco, despite his own secular inclinations, does his fictional characters the courtesy of taking their beliefs seriously and at face value, which is why he is the better and more memorable writer."

I'm rereading your ATOB and I'll note that you are not hypocritical on this topic and strive to do this in your own work. It's a little disconcerting, since, while I'm pretty sure I know who you think is in the wrong (and I think you would call them the villains) it is by no mean obvious and I find myself wondering, "Wait, is he the good guy?".

And you do, for example, take the reaver pagan god religion quite seriously.

Do you think there is any danger in being too ambiguous as an author?

Anonymous VD January 12, 2015 10:56 AM  

Do you think there is any danger in being too ambiguous as an author?

Probably. I very much doubt that I'm at any risk of it. My literary sins in that regard have tended to be in the opposite direction.

Would it be correct to say that intellectual honesty is just as important as sheer literary talent and skill?

It depends upon what you are trying to write. So, not necessarily. But it is much more important than the Pink SF authors understand. Of course, since they are addicted to and heavily influenced by lies, it should not be surprising that they place no value on intellectual honesty or even simple historical verisimilitude.

Anonymous Sensei January 12, 2015 10:56 AM  

it seems to me that Deism is generally correct and that the more dogma you add to it the less likely you are to hit the truth.

This sounds reasonable, but it's really a bit like following your math textbook up to a point regarding calculus, then deciding you think certain points sound contrived and you aren't going to bother with those, "because the more corollaries you add the less likely they are to be correct anyway." If the principles are correct and the corollaries are in accordance with the principles are can be seen to be logically derived from them, one can't summarily reject them yet hold to the principles at the same time.

In this case, if we take the principle of a loving God, the claim of Christianity (inherited from Judaism) is that we have do have special revelation from God telling us about Himself, so we don't have to make best guesses. The idea of a loving God is only introduced in Christian scripture (Allah is certainly not loving in the Christian sense, and non-Abrahamic religions don't have a transcendent personal God). So if you are going to believe in the God solely expressed in scripture, you can't really just write off what scripture says about Him because it's your only source for knowing about Him in the first place.

Anonymous Daniel January 12, 2015 11:16 AM  

I believe you mentioned Eco's correction in your interview. It reveals the kernel that differentiates Eco from many others.

While others will say, "There are no heroes," Eco recognizes that, in the very best fiction, everyone is.

Empathy, not only for Gollum, but for Sauron - that is, understanding how each views himself, and the objectives arousing his nobility (Gollum - the beauty and peace of the ring, Sauron - a more angelic world) - illuminates the darkness of the soul in remarkable ways.

You can't leave an entire culture's internal life off the page, and expect the work to mature.

Blogger Kurt January 12, 2015 11:20 AM  

I do enjoy Guy but his latest books have become too obtuse and lost a lot of the beauty of his earlier works, so whatever he is doing it isn't working. I liked the earlier works, and have read his books up until the newer series based on Vikings I think, that just didn't work I got bored and could not finish. I did like Tapestry, Tigana, Lions, and Song very much.

Anonymous VD January 12, 2015 11:22 AM  

Mostly because Wiki puts "The Golden Age" starting at the end of the Reconqista... how is this what he's blathering about?

He's referring to the nebulous Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain, which may refer to one of three different periods. The amusing thing is that the latest of the three was more than four hundred years before the end of the Reconquista. And it was the Muslims, not the Christians, who ended it.

Kay really prostituted himself due to his anti-Christian bias. The more you look into it, the worse he looks. It's a shame, too, because his central point completely undermines the climax of his story. Given the unimportance of the religions, there was no reason why the Muslim hero shouldn't have simply taken the Christian offer. End of story, all the good guys live, etc.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 11:44 AM  

Sensei,
I think the first part of your reply is basically correct as an analogy, but a bit simplistic. Theology is hardly as clearcut as mathematics, but in principle I accept your argument. My point is that for things such as the divinity or virgin birth of Christ, there is, to my mind anyway, insufficient evidence. Therefore if you accept that as given, either you are seeing a subtle clue that escapes me, or you're deluding yourself. As for me, honesty demands I remain agnostic.
Regarding your second point, while I agree that Christianity details a loving God, its roots in Judaism are a problem for me. Revelationally (as in, what was revealed to me personally) I cannot reconcile the sometimes sadistic god of the OT with the God I experienced. This of course, may again be due to my misinterpreting parts of the OT (but I don't think so) or because the OT too is merely an attempt to define and describe the undefinable God. If so, all oir works concerning God are flawed and if so you are right that only revelation can directly inform us. Which I agree with.
However, to say a loving God is ONLY given to us from Christianity is not correct Deism agrees with this. At least my deism does. And did so long before I knew anything much about Christianity.

Blogger Desiderius January 12, 2015 11:45 AM  

"It's rather remarkable that such an intelligent and talented man can be so brutally foolish as a result of his anti-religious bias."

Phil Pullman II.

It's hyper-sophomoric. The extent to which it sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the writing is remarkably jarring, and in a way one doesn't find as much in classic SF ( it is there, though never with anything like the self-regarding smugness, more a tentative good-natured prod here and there at conventional wisdom) or other great literature, even where one might expect to find it.

This is something new: anti-religion passing from dissent to claiming a lazy dominance.

Anonymous VD January 12, 2015 11:53 AM  

My point is that for things such as the divinity or virgin birth of Christ, there is, to my mind anyway, insufficient evidence. Therefore if you accept that as given, either you are seeing a subtle clue that escapes me, or you're deluding yourself. As for me, honesty demands I remain agnostic.

I strongly suggest you review the scholarly standards for historical evidence. Otherwise, it may shock you how many historical facts honesty will demand you remain agnostic on.

We can't retroactively subject Mary to a virginity test. All we have is the documentary evidence, which is all we have concerning many historical facts. The question is, how good is the documentary evidence?

For example, I have found that few doubt the emperor mentioned in the Gospels was Augustus of Rome and not a Persian or Chinese emperor.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 12:17 PM  

I strongly suggest you review the scholarly standards for historical evidence. Otherwise, it may shock you how many historical facts honesty will demand you remain agnostic on.

Vox, I agree with your point. And you might be surprised to know just how much I DO question "established" history. It has been my experience that reviewing even relatively recent history such as the underlying causes of the first and second world war, or various aspects of the underlying premises of certain Nazi beliefs brings up a quite different story from the one taught us by the mainstream accepted version. For clarity, I am no Nazi simpathiser, but pretty huge lies have been told and the evidence we have does not stack up.
When I say "honesty demands" I don't mean it in a general impersonal way to be applied to others. I mean it for myself. For my own peace of soul and conscience. To a degree I may even envy (intellectually, not emotionally) those who have certainty on such things. But short of direct revelation, which, again, honesty demands I have to consider absolutely valid, since it is how I personally came to know God, for myself, I can't see at this point I can know such details. That may change, but even if not, I cannot begrudge anyone their certainty of it. If God revealed some part of himself to me, who am I to say he didn't reveal some other (perhaps more detailed) part to you. Maybe I am too dim to see it or maybe we are both hallucinating fools (we're not though, which is why I want to pick your brain as well as the ilk's). Also, while emperors are a historical fact we are generally familiar with, virgin births and resurrecting divine persons are not. Logically it makes no sense to accept these things as fact, mostly, (though Pierre Tehilard De Chardin convinced me that both Christianity and Jesus were events out of the norm and intrinsically tied to divinity as I understood it even when I was agnostic mostly). I am not bashing Christianity. I am trying to see if it's persoanlly valid for me.

Anonymous JA January 12, 2015 12:28 PM  

"Also, while emperors are a historical fact we are generally familiar with, virgin births and resurrecting divine persons are not. Logically it makes no sense to accept these things as fact, "

can you show your logic here?

Anonymous Jack Amok January 12, 2015 12:36 PM  

By detaching the "religious conflicts" from their real underpinnings, what he proves is that religion doesn't have much, if anything, to do with violent conflicts that arise from the normal historical reasons of ambition, pride, greed, and the desire for power.

It seems to me that if you wanted to write an honest and compelling story about the dangers of religion, it wouldn't be a story about evil instutions set up to do evil, but about good institutions corrupted by ambitious men using it as their own path to power and status. And most of the villans would be convinced they were doing the right thing too (modernizing or reforming or what-not), which just so happened to be the profitable thing as well.

But that might be uncomfortably close to describing Entryism for most authors on the Left.

Anonymous Michael Maier January 12, 2015 12:37 PM  

"Regarding your second point, while I agree that Christianity details a loving God, its roots in Judaism are a problem for me. Revelationally (as in, what was revealed to me personally) I cannot reconcile the sometimes sadistic god of the OT with the God I experienced."

As I said to one of those that convinced me to look deeper at Christianity, regarding God striking two men dead for some transgression in the temple, "God could use some people skills".

Something to keep in mind: we don't know what was in those men's hearts or what God was thinking.

And I fully expect on some levels we are as alien to God as He is to us.

I mean, if Vox thinks MPAI, what do HE think about all of us?

Anonymous Jack Amok January 12, 2015 12:52 PM  

We can't retroactively subject Mary to a virginity test. All we have is the documentary evidence, which is all we have concerning many historical facts. The question is, how good is the documentary evidence?

For example, I have found that few doubt the emperor mentioned in the Gospels was Augustus of Rome and not a Persian or Chinese emperor.


True, but we have relatively few modern instances of Chinese claiming to be Romans in order to get out of a tight spot. I'M NOT SAYING MARY WASN'T A VIRGIN. Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch over the implications... I'm simply pointing out that a worldview that holds religions are made-up things (man created God instead of vice versa) has a relatively simple explaination for the claims of a virgin birth, while a worldview that held Rome was actually founded by Chinese explorers who learned civlization from Bantu tribesmen in Africa before teaching it to the Italians has a few more challenges.

Or, to answer JAs question of "show the logic", it's simple: Believing Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary requires believing something quite extraordinary to our every day experience, which is that children are not born to virgins. Isn't that what a miracle is anyway? Something that's impossible if the world is nothing but a cold, wholly rational set of equations with no devinity?

That said, I do find the question of how reliable accepted historical facts are to be very interesting. Anyone with half a brain questions the accuracy and honesty of news accounts today. Why should we believe Herodatus was any more honest than Danratheratus?

Anonymous Sheila January 12, 2015 1:04 PM  

Kay has long been one of my favorite authors (love the Tapestry, Tigana, Song, etc. Enjoyed the Byzantium books but have not read those set in China (just not my field of interest). While his writing and story-telling may be better in later books, I think he handles magic and gods best when dealing with myth as in Fionavar - this is similarly apparent in the sort-of-sequel, Ysabel. As you note, his own atheism (and his Jewish ethnicity) come through as anti-Christian bias in later books.

Anonymous Sensei January 12, 2015 1:04 PM  

My point is that for things such as the divinity or virgin birth of Christ, there is, to my mind anyway, insufficient evidence. Therefore if you accept that as given, either you are seeing a subtle clue that escapes me, or you're deluding yourself.

Thanks for your reply. In regard to the subtle clue vs. delusion, it's more like the first one, but the clue wasn't subtle, it was the overwhelming reality of God. You mentioned you've had some experiences; I've had a life full of them. So my conclusion based both on analyzing what the Old and New Testaments say about God and my personal experience regarding Him was that the God of the Old and New Testaments is indeed God, and therefore I am willing to believe what scripture says about divine interferences with the natural order of things, what we'd call miracles.

And that brings me back to my calculus analogy: if one really believes in a transcendent, supernatural Diety, surely believing in miracles is a natural and reasonable corollary. It is an astounding and world-changing revelation that there is an Author; that He might break the normal rules of the narrative here and there if He decides it's called for kind of follows naturally, no?

Logically speaking, if there is a God who created women in the first place, it should follow that He could have one of them give birth under special circumstances.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 1:10 PM  

Michael M.
we don't know what was in those men's hearts or what God was thinking.

That's my point. Hence the agnosticism.
As for the MPAI, God is both more forgiving and more intelligent and more loving than Vox. Or me. I happen to think I probably have a higher overall valur for MPAI than Vox does.
So the question is a little silly. Furthermore, he created us, so...if we're really so dumb...well...you see where it's going.

My view is that we are dumb, but have few excuses for it as if we follow our conscience we evolve and if we do so honestly, our behaviour is much better than what it is when we do not do this.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 1:18 PM  

JA,
Sure. I have dined with at least two presidents, seen prince Harry up close and if I could be bothered, see the Queen live. The historical accounts of emperors may vary, but their existence is hardly a surprising fact.
Similarly, lots of women claim paternity from sources other than the obvious one when it is covenient to do so.
The most believable claim is the raising from the dead actually as thoughvrare, there is evidence of this too and I have seen it with animals too.
But divinity....and supernatural ascension....yeah. Not so common. Do you know many virgins giving birth? But in any case, nome of the physical events described, necessarily imply divinity, any more than potentially any other human, which Jesus said himself I think, wrt to his performing miracles. And ultimately it is the supernatural nature that is important and questionable, not the events in and of themselves.

Blogger bob k. mando January 12, 2015 1:23 PM  

another of the Self Gelded is Simon Beaufoy.

if you pay close attention to Slumdog Millionaire you realize that the 'hero' is Muslim ... and that all of the 'villians' ( excepting his brother ) are Hindu.

he also wrote the OMG, backlash against the innocent Muslims "Yasmin".

Blogger JartStar January 12, 2015 1:23 PM  

I mean, if Vox thinks MPAI, what do HE think about all of us?

The answer is in the crucifiction and John 3:16. Everyone's relationship with God pivots from the point of the cross, and everyone most certainly does have a personal relationship. The question for everyone is: do you have a mediator, or advocate on your behalf before the God of the universe?

Anonymous Michael Maier January 12, 2015 1:28 PM  

@ JartStar: and yet how many times did Jesus Christ say "How much longer must I endure you morons?"

Blogger bob k. mando January 12, 2015 1:30 PM  

Giuseppe January 12, 2015 1:18 PM
And ultimately it is the supernatural nature that is important and questionable



but you are questioning the supernatural primarily on the basis that it is ... supernatural.

that's a self referential loop, every bit as logically false as circular reasoning. only you're "proving" the negative.

Anonymous JA January 12, 2015 1:45 PM  

OK, so a virgin giving birth is weird. Strange. Uncommon.

Let's say IF this somehow happens....

Would it be reported?

Would it be considered significant?

Would it be written down to tell future generations?

If you can't get over "virign birth" because of religious implications, use something else...

UFOs landing, Time Travelers arrive in a Delorean, mutant discovers super-powers of magnitism, SETI makes contact with ET, mass spontenous human combustion, etc.

If any of above occured, how would future generations treat this news?

If YOU witnessed such an event, would you record it for future generations?

How would you record the events?

Is it reasonable to expect future generations to believe your report 2000+ years later? Would the answer to this matter to the truth of what you witnessed?

Blogger Brad Andrews January 12, 2015 2:28 PM  

Isn't the idea that "everyone is a hero" really just the idea that "everything is equivalent"?

The latter is a very corrupt idea as some things are clearly better.

Blogger JartStar January 12, 2015 2:42 PM  

and yet how many times did Jesus Christ say "How much longer must I endure you morons?"

Jesus was rightfully frustrated and angry at the Jewish teachers and most of the generation at that time and routinely scorned them, but that did not stop Him or His mission. God hates the wicked, loves the righteous, and He is patient. The righteous are made so through Christ and we are His children and heirs. He does not refer to His children as morons, though we may act moronic and incredibly sinful.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 3:02 PM  

@Michael M.
and yet how many times did Jesus Christ say "How much longer must I endure you morons?"

Quite a few really, allowing for a little laxity in your vernacular.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 3:09 PM  

No. I am questioning the supernatural on the basis that it doesn't happen often enough for me to have clarity on it. I am not questioning the possibility of the supernatural. I am weighing it against the weight of fallible humans talking rubbish, which is a pretty heavy weight in my book. Like I said, I don't quite have Vox's cuddly, hug them all, rose-tinted glasses view of humans he has :)

Also, Bob, please! From what I have seen you mostly make intelligent comments. Please realise I am not an atheist, a churchian or a complete idiot. Legit criticism of my thinking is fine, but this wasn't it.

Anonymous JA January 12, 2015 3:16 PM  

Giuseppe:

How do you define "supernatural"??

Can you do so without begging the question?

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 3:16 PM  

JA,
Precisely. That's my point. Unless of course you believe in the book of Mormon, bigfoot, L.Ron Hubbard, father Christmas and the tooth fairy too.
Having an a priori conviction is not truth. Or logic. Properly it can be called a bigoted principle or maybe a mental infirmity.
The exception I would allow and listen to would be a personally revealed truth. If that happened to you and that is why you believe, and you would be willing to share that story with me in good faith, I would listen in good faith. Doesn't mean I would believe as you do, but I would better understand the nature of your belief and probably respect you more for sharing it with me.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 3:26 PM  

JA,
Outside of the realm (set) of what is known and generally thought (theorised) to be possible from general observation of the natural world in as much detail as required to satisfy the probability that such an occurrence is extremely unlikely, say 99.999999% unlikely.
Example: in theory, quantum physics allows for the spontaneous disappearance of a sun from one location and it's appearance in another location, potentially very distant. Yet it jas never been observed. If such an event were observed, it would be considered supernatural to me.
Clear enough?
Now: can you tell me why youbthink Jesus was born of a virgin, was avtually God as well as Jesus, and rose from the dead and then automagically ascended to a heaven. If that is indeed what you believe concerning him. And if not then please explain what it IS you do believe. Thanks. I am not being facetious. I'd really like to know. I have answered your questions concerning my reasoning. Can you do the same please?

Anonymous JA January 12, 2015 3:36 PM  

"Unless of course you believe in the book of Mormon, bigfoot, L.Ron Hubbard, father Christmas and the tooth fairy too. "

2) Ooops. You just fell into a presuppositionalist deadfall trap. Why do you assume that I do NOT believe in the existance of SOME of your examples, .e.g book of Mormon? For example ... like Vox Day, I believe in the existance of other gods. I also believe in demons, some of which could easily impersonate deities (as in the case of the founding stories of Islam and Mormonism and Scientology). Bigfoot very well could be (re)discovered like the Coelacanth...

2) You ARE begging the question if you assume "supernatural = ficitional/non-existant." You are assuming a priori that the accounts of Joseph Smith are false, for example. That is a priori conviction on your part, from my viewpoint, a way bigoted principle and definately a mental infirmity.

3) Your examples of Santa and the Tooth Fairy are a total fail atheist horseshit. If you want to be taken serious, perhaps you shouldn't list obviously fictional examples? Stop being an asshole.

Anonymous JA January 12, 2015 3:44 PM  

"If such an event were observed, it would be considered supernatural to me. "

What would be your standards to accept such an observation? For example, would you have to witness this occrance first-hand?

"Now: can you tell me why youbthink Jesus was born of a virgin, was avtually God as well as Jesus, and rose from the dead and then automagically ascended to a heaven. "

Multiple eyewitness accounts.

PS: I will assume "automagically" is a typo on your part. And not you being an asshole like your previous post 3:16 PM.

Anonymous JA January 12, 2015 3:48 PM  

"Outside of the realm (set) of what is known and generally thought (theorised) to be possible from general observation of the natural world in as much detail as required to satisfy the probability that such an occurrence is extremely unlikely, say 99.999999% unlikely."

I would love to see how you can examine all of existance to make this kind of judgement. Are you claiming Omnipresence as a personal ability on your part?

Blogger bob k. mando January 12, 2015 4:07 PM  

Giuseppe January 12, 2015 3:09 PM
No. I am questioning the supernatural on the basis that it doesn't happen often enough for me to have clarity on it.



still circular. unless you're expecting to live in a world in which you regularly talk to djinn.

also, lack of regularity doesn't really mean anything. for a good while there, Old Earth archaelogists, palentologists, geologists, etc were all denying that "Catastrophism" had ever happened in the history of the Earth.

why? because to admit the possibility of planet wide destruction was too close ( in their minds ) to admitting the Deluge. and the Deluge was, a priori, hysterical, god-bothering nonsense. nothing scientific about it ( the Gradualist position, that is ).

the argument between the ( new ) gradualist 'traditionalists' and the ( new, new ) 'reactionary' catastrophists went on for quite a few decades ... until the evidence got a little too significant for the old order Anti-God brigade to deny and they had to give way to the new order Anti-God brigade.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicxulub_crater

now they pretend that Gradualism never really existed ( except for some foolish old fuddy duddies ) and that the Atheists always believed in Catastrophes.

have you ever experienced an Oxygen Catastrophe? an eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano? an ice age?

then how do you 'know' they exist? much less that they affected the entire planet?


Giuseppe January 12, 2015 3:09 PM
Also, Bob, please! From what I have seen you mostly make intelligent comments.



heyyyyy, i gotta mix it up a little bit. keep you on your toes.
[ /Fonz ]



JA January 12, 2015 3:44 PM
PS: I will assume "automagically" is a typo on your part. And not you being an asshole like your previous post 3:16 PM.



the only one i see being an asshole here is ... you.

and that's kind of impressive considering i'm in the conversation. i usually take pride in being the douchiest of douche bags. ( at least, if using the term 'automagically' qualifies as douchebaggery, considering that i think i was the first one using the term here, years ago )

kindly explain to him why Christ and God are of a different order from Tooth Fairies and Santa Claus ... or shut up.

http://yah-tube.com/videos/rico/index.html

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 4:19 PM  

JA,
The only asshole here is you.
1. I already explained I am not an atheist, so as per the rules, retract your falsehood.
2. Explain why the tooth fairy and Santa Claus are "obviously" false but a human being God isn't.
2.a. Ok, you carry on believeing Joe Smith was telling the truth and/or possessed by demons. I'll carry on thinking he was a scumbag conman. If that makes ME the mental infirm one, that's fine by me sparky.
2.b. The only one making assumptions here is you. I would have bet money you believe most fables. I was just a bit surprised at your bigotry on father Christmas and the tooth fairy though.
3. You didn't explain the ascenscion to heaven or why you believe it. I don't recall there being multiple eyewitness accounts to that. Nor for that matter to Mary being a virgin. Kinda hard to prove that one eh?
4. I don't have to examine all of existence. Just the part I am able to. I already explained personal revelation is acceptable to me, but YOUR personal revelation is yours, not mine.
5. MPAI and I suppose you are happy to take their word for extraordinary and supernatural events because...? Oh yeah..MPAI. Don't ever join a cult like say Jonestown type stuff eh? You're liable to drink some nasty koolaid.

6. You have failed at logic, honesty and courtesy. You are arguing purely because you are too stupid to consider your belief, which it is now evident you did not arrive at rationally, could be wrong. But worse than that, you are unable to even *defend* your belief rationally, regardless of its origin. That, is unforgivable stupidity. Therefore, you can now go fuck yourself.

Anonymous JA January 12, 2015 4:24 PM  

And out comes the social autism....

Notice how he attempts to shift from dialectic to rhetoric to save his position?

Notice how when I expose his asshole rhetoric, he explodes into total aspie meltdown?

Guess I win a prize...

Anonymous Mudz January 12, 2015 4:31 PM  

@ Giuseppe

No. I am questioning the supernatural on the basis that it doesn't happen often enough for me to have clarity on it.

Do you believe in the beginning of the universe?
If you don't, do you take it seriously, and understand how others can?
Because theoretically that only happened once, and none of us witnessed it.

Your assumption is merely a emotional premise of 'supernatural things should happen more often for me', which is kind of arbitrary, since in terms of miracles, they've always been exceptionally rare. Which is why people write them down in the first place.

The existence of multiple religions with competing accounts does not equate those religions being false or unreliable by assumption, it simply means they cannot all be right, or wholly accurate. Any douchebag can conjure up a competing theory, so it means nothing of itself.

What it requires, is not blanket and bland dismissal, but some careful inquiry, preferably along the lines of proceeding from the premises the subjects use, and of the premises.

That's the glib and emotional part.

The objective part.

We believe in God because of a historical account which we take seriously and to be true, to be accurate, reinforced by philosophy and reason. Since you already think Deism is legit, that's not an issue.

We believe in Jesus, because of that same historical account, which we reinforce by testing both by historical and prophetic criteria. A quick answer would be: Eyewitness and multiple accounts, plus the simple fact of the existence of Christianity itself, argue for the basic existence of Jesus. The Prophecy of Daniel predicted the existence of Jesus, and is the most prominent prophetic confirmation I'm familiar with.

So there's a starter for you, if you're trying to get some insight.

There's a ridiculous amount of material you could probably get out of a quick google, so it's not like the information's unavailable.

Anonymous Mudz January 12, 2015 4:33 PM  

"The Prophecy of Daniel predicted the existence of Jesus"

I should say, he predicted the date of Jesus.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 4:37 PM  

Bob,
I wish we could talk face to face. It seems to me we are both somewhat misinterpreting the other but both have valid views. Our disagreement may be more semantical than actual. And even if not so, at least you (and I) would be honest assholes, like many ilk, instead of just irritating ones, like JA.
I think as we enter the details of our respective positions the finer details require a higher level of precision. Not easily achieved in blog comments maybe. Let me think a bit and see if I can try to formulate something concise.

Blogger SirHamster January 12, 2015 4:42 PM  

Isn't the idea that "everyone is a hero" really just the idea that "everything is equivalent"?

I think there's an implied "in their own/from a certain perspective".

Seems that's how you get actual characters in fiction, instead of just a scripted villain - "I'm evil because I love evil! Muahahaha!"

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 4:47 PM  

JA,
Look up some words. Dialectic and rhethoric for a start. Also, the only one avoiding the questions is you.
But as I already said, you have now doubly demonstrated your essential dishonesty and inability. You have disqualified yourself, Which is the only DISQUALIFY thatvactually counts. Back to the shallow end of the pool you go.

Anonymous Mudz January 12, 2015 4:49 PM  

Explain why the tooth fairy and Santa Claus are "obviously" false but a human being God isn't.

Because we made up the first two, and everyone knows it, and they're not intended to be taken seriously. We can trace their origins to conception. And I think parents figured it out when they caught themselves leaving presents under trees and pillows.

They're "obviously" false, because their falsity is already common and uncontroversial knowledge.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 4:50 PM  

Mudz,
Thanks for your comment. It deserves an answwr but I need to get some stuff done now. I will reply later.

Anonymous Obvious January 12, 2015 4:52 PM  

It's pretty ridiculous that you think you're qualified to tell people how to get close to literary greatness.

Blogger Josh January 12, 2015 4:53 PM  

And out comes the social autism....

Notice how he attempts to shift from dialectic to rhetoric to save his position?

Notice how when I expose his asshole rhetoric, he explodes into total aspie meltdown?

Guess I win a prize...


I'll nominate you for a Beezle...

Anonymous Mudz January 12, 2015 4:54 PM  

@ Giuseppe

It's cool. Enjoyed your story, by the way. I hope you'll forgive me if this turns out badly.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 5:59 PM  

@mudz,
Thanks. I see no reason why it would end badly. You replied to my questions in a rational and corteous and honest manner. I think it's relatively difficult for honest men who engage in philosophy or science or theology to become upset at each other.

Anonymous Rob January 12, 2015 6:36 PM  

I cannot reconcile the sometimes sadistic god of the OT with the God I experienced

It always strikes me that someone who views God in the Old Testament as sadistic either a.) has not read the Old Testament (beyond a few select passages) b.) has severely misunderstood the text or c.) has a vastly different definition of sadism than the conventional usage.

Anonymous Mudz January 12, 2015 6:44 PM  

Missed this one:

You didn't explain the ascenscion to heaven or why you believe it. I don't recall there being multiple eyewitness accounts to that.

Well, that falls under multiple eye-witnesses. It's only mentioned or confirmed in two accounts though, to my knowledge, Luke and Acts. So it technically hits those separately, so far as we're concerned (what the writers had access to is obviously different). Bit odd to have a problem on this specific part though, other than what an impressive spectacle it must have been.

Besides, where did you expect him to go? Hell?

He also reappeared to multiple groups of a large quantity of people, expressly to prove his resurrection and after-livingness. That's very multiply eye-witnessed. It would have been pretty embarrassing if he didn't go to heaven after he emphasised it so much, and managed the actual mind-boggling feat of resurrection.

If the Messiah appears on the day fore-told and performs miracles, dies and comes back to life, then it would actually be weak logic to think he couldn't get back to his own house. Basically, there's no reason to disbelieve the account on a random specific; and without a reason, it's more sensible in my view to assume it's consistent.

Even without the testimony, you'd have to believe the Son of God was quite capable of getting a lift home. It'd be quite silly to select out belief at that point arbitrarily. That's the essential basis of it. All these miracles and events basically revolve around the premise that he's the Son of God; and if he's the Son of God, then miracles just aren't going to be much of a stretch, and are more of a secondary concern.

That's really what you need to be asking about. His credentials as Messiah. Then you can worry about apostolic accuracy on what proceeds from that.

So how about it? Want a run through of a primary argument or two? I can take some time out to essay something. Today's mostly a computer day.

Or, if it's something specific, ask me, and I'll drop something heavy on it. I'm not picky.

Thanks. I see no reason why it would end badly. You replied to my questions in a rational and corteous and honest manner. I think it's relatively difficult for honest men who engage in philosophy or science or theology to become upset at each other.

Thank you. That's the ideal. But if you're going to get upset at anything, it'd be an attack upon all-important beliefs underlying your worldview, philosophy, rationality, intelligence; the basis of your morality and value as a person, and your respective position in the universe, your present life, all of which you are presumed to have been getting completely wrong up to this point, and still going strong.

I'm not averse to upsetting people, since it's vital subject matter. Recent experience just compels me to give a little heads up, that's all.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 6:44 PM  

@Mudz,
Wrote you a reply but too long for here, and besides, I kind of hijacked the topic....can I PM you?
Answering you has been very useful by the way so thank you!

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 6:57 PM  

@mudz,
On your last point, it made me actually laugh :-)
I have no problem at all throwing out a way of thinking being, etc once I find something better. One small example, i trained in karate from a young age. At a pretty hectic level. And mostly bought into all the samurai ethic etc. etc. then I came across some Russians that could do with me what I could do with a child in terms of martial arts. Time spent to switch to the Russian system?
None. I went for one class to see what it was like and basically just carried on going to them.
If you prove me wrong I shall only be grateful for your increasing my ability to see more clearly.
As I said above, if you PM me I will send you what I wrote in reply to you so far.

Anonymous Mudz January 12, 2015 7:02 PM  

@ Giuseppe

Honestly, I prefer public, so I'll have to refuse; public is guaranteed to be useful no matter what goes down; and I don't think I have anything for you to PM in any case.

Don't worry about hijacking, these debates are half the forum, and VD will stomp if he wants.

Or you can ask VD first. I just intensely hate doing 'private debates'. Feels like a waste of effort.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 12, 2015 7:02 PM  

@Josh,
Had to look it up. Gave me a belly laugh.

Blogger James Dixon January 12, 2015 7:26 PM  

> My point is that for things such as the divinity or virgin birth of Christ, there is, to my mind anyway, insufficient evidence. Therefore if you accept that as given, either you are seeing a subtle clue that escapes me, or you're deluding yourself. As for me, honesty demands I remain agnostic.

Some of us are willing to take the word or dozens to hundreds of eyewitnesses (most of whom had nothing to gain by lying, and several much to lose) at face value. Others, not so much so. YMMV.

> Also, while emperors are a historical fact we are generally familiar with, virgin births and resurrecting divine persons are not. Logically it makes no sense to accept these things as fact, mostly,

Logically, no. But what do you do when a dozen otherwise normal people tell you that something you thought impossible has happened? Obviously you doubt them, but either they are lying, they are hallucinating, or it actually happened. You have to decide which.
> I am not bashing Christianity. I am trying to see if it's persoanlly valid for me.

Uhm. Christianity is either valid or it's not. Christ either rose from the dead or he didn't. If he did, then he is who he said he was, and your "personal validity" is beside the point.

Blogger SirHamster January 12, 2015 7:44 PM  

> Also, while emperors are a historical fact we are generally familiar with, virgin births and resurrecting divine persons are not. Logically it makes no sense to accept these things as fact, mostly,

------------
Logically, no. But what do you do when a dozen otherwise normal people tell you that something you thought impossible has happened? Obviously you doubt them, but either they are lying, they are hallucinating, or it actually happened. You have to decide which.


What? Logically, you accept historical facts on the strength of the historical evidence. Anything else is just reading your own modern biases into it, which is not logical.

My personal feelings right now are NOT a good guide to what actually happened 2,000 years ago.

Blogger James Dixon January 12, 2015 8:06 PM  

> Logically, you accept historical facts on the strength of the historical evidence.

And recorded personal testimony of what a person saw is historical evidence. You can accept their testimony or not, but you need to know your basis for doing so.

Blogger SirHamster January 12, 2015 8:26 PM  

Agreed that those testimonies are historical evidence. Disagree that it's logical to accept or reject historical facts based on general familiarity.

Sorry my response wasn't clear.

Blogger James Dixon January 12, 2015 8:30 PM  

> Disagree that it's logical to accept or reject historical facts based on general familiarity.

Logical, no. But it is human nature to do so. But I don't think we're disagreeing.

Anonymous Joe Author January 12, 2015 8:33 PM  

“how his inclination towards atheistic secularism will prevent him from ever approaching literary greatness”

Patently false. One’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof, is NOT part of the criteria when examining literary worth. Cultural or social revelation, novel interpretations of similar character types from different works, mastery of language—these criteria are used when judging the greatness of literature, with "greatness" attained through historical consensus.


“The great writer is willing to permit his characters to speak for themselves, according to their worldviews. The technician, on the other hand, insists on reducing his characters to puppets intended to express his worldview.”

At the very least, an informed opinion, but not universally true.


Read what you want. Write what you want.

Blogger James Dixon January 12, 2015 8:43 PM  

> One’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof, is NOT part of the criteria when examining literary worth.

He didn't say it was, Joe.

Blogger DJ | AMDG January 12, 2015 9:33 PM  

Yes. I believe the paraphrase from Mark 9 is taken out of context. The Transfiguration had just been witnessed. Thousands gathered from all over to have themselves and family miraculously healed. And not just by Jesus but also the 12. In Mark 9 the 12 had failed healing one particular boy and the crowd (morons) argued and fought about whether EVEN JESUS could heal the boy. That's what he was decrying. That, after all the healing, all the miracles they witnessed, and even after the transfiguration....they continued not-believing. He was critiquing a culture set on the practice of finding fault, the practice of nihilism frankly. He was daily showing The Way toward truth, yet they still would slide back into a habit of faithlessness with just a few short hours of His absence. His power had been observed and experienced by the very people questioning whether it could be observed and experienced. Faith isn't BELIEVING truth. Faith is practicing truth.

Just my 2¢ for the month.

DJ|AMDG

Anonymous Sridhar Chandrasekaran January 12, 2015 11:39 PM  

You have such an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your posts. All the best for your future blogging journey.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 13, 2015 1:00 AM  

Patently false. One’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof, is NOT part of the criteria when examining literary worth.

Huh. I would've expected writers to have better reading comprehension skills than that. Joe, you entirely missed Vox's point.

Blogger James Dixon January 13, 2015 4:10 AM  

> ... I would've expected writers to have better reading comprehension skills than that.

It's a little known fact that listening to too much Billy Joel dampens one's cognitive abilities. :)

Anonymous Giuseppe January 13, 2015 4:12 AM  

James Dixon,
"Logically, no. But what do you do when a dozen otherwise normal people tell you that something you thought impossible has happened? Obviously you doubt them, but either they are lying, they are hallucinating, or it actually happened. You have to decide which."
Because you say so? No. I really don't have to "decide" anything when there is insufficient evidence to make an intelligent choice. And only a person too insecure to live with unknowns feels forced to do so. At best I can have an educated guess. And that would be that MPAI. A dozen or a thousand really doesn't make much difference. Do you know where the expression "drink the Koolaid" comes from? Look up Jonestown. That's humans for you.

> I am not bashing Christianity. I am trying to see if it's persoanlly valid for me.

"Uhm. Christianity is either valid or it's not. Christ either rose from the dead or he didn't. If he did, then he is who he said he was, and your "personal validity" is beside the point.

Besides the point to whom? To you? I agree. Do you think I care in the slightest whether you agree with me or not on the validity of Christianity? I am supposed to accept the truth of something on your say so? Don't hold your breath. I will examine and come to conclusions by myself thanks. A position you are clearly unfamiliar and uncomfortable with it would seem, given your words here.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 13, 2015 4:17 AM  

And as if on cue, Joe Author, presumambly a writer, one might even guess he aspires to be a professional one, proves the/my point: MPAI

Anonymous Mudz January 13, 2015 5:13 AM  

Hey, when I said no PM, I didn't mean don't reply at all. Surely your reply isn't that bad. Just throw it down and see what happens. Live for the moment.

These threads only float so long.

Blogger SirHamster January 13, 2015 3:22 PM  

Because you say so? No. I really don't have to "decide" anything when there is insufficient evidence to make an intelligent choice. And only a person too insecure to live with unknowns feels forced to do so. At best I can have an educated guess. And that would be that MPAI. A dozen or a thousand really doesn't make much difference. Do you know where the expression "drink the Koolaid" comes from? Look up Jonestown. That's humans for you.

Your guess doesn't seem that educated.

Jonestown resulted in mass suicide. Christianity has changed the world such that we base our calendar on Jesus' birth year, it forms the foundation of Western civilization, and is able to redeem men's lives from the dark, giving hope and strength even against the entire world.

MPAI isn't enough to explain the historical evidence in favor of Jesus' Resurrection or the historical fact that Christianity overcame the Roman empire in the face of intense persecution. Do you think lies have that sort of power?

Anonymous Giuseppe January 13, 2015 4:57 PM  

Mudz,
Honestly the comment would be too long for the blog. On reflection, I think I can best sum up most of my thoughts as being very closely aligned with the ones of Leslie Weatherhead, in his pretty amazing book, The Christian Agnostic. My objections are the ones demanded on me by honesty. I will never simply accept that I must "believe" on the basis of one or a billion, or ten billion humans telling me to do so.
God is between me and God, and frankly no one else. If i say that to me there is insufficient evidence to be sure it was a virgin birth, or a true resurrection from the dead, then that is what it is and what I believe. No amount of humans telling me "believe!!!" is going to change that. Whether it's an aspie trait or not, I don't care, the fact is I am mostly immune to peer pressure. I know most aren't, but for the life of me, I can't understand why or how a person could willingly abandon his own good sense in favour of wanting to "belong" or join some club.

Anonymous Giuseppe January 13, 2015 5:03 PM  

SirHamster said:
"MPAI isn't enough to explain the historical evidence in favor of Jesus' Resurrection or the historical fact that Christianity overcame the Roman empire in the face of intense persecution. Do you think lies have that sort of power?"

By your reasoning Islam must be a true religion too. What are the chances that a historically documented child-rapist and mass murderer would be worshipped as the true prophet of God?

And I am the uneducated one huh?
Yes. Lies have that kind of power. And paradoxically, this should be even more obvious to you if you're a Christian, given whose realm this is according to Christianity.
Back to the hamster wheel with you Sir. You need to run harder.

Blogger SirHamster January 13, 2015 7:16 PM  

By your reasoning Islam must be a true religion too. What are the chances that a historically documented child-rapist and mass murderer would be worshipped as the true prophet of God?

Islam doesn't have a resurrection. Mohammed gained power and used that power to push his religion to sustain his power. His self-serving changes in divine revelations are plain to see.

Christianity starts with the death of Jesus and converted monotheistic Jews into believing God became man - followed by the conversion of Rome. How do lies survive from a position of weakness - a dead religious leader; uneducated, demoralized, and scattered disciples; opposed by the civic and religious authorities with every incentive to debunk any lies?

And I am the uneducated one huh?
Yes. Lies have that kind of power. And paradoxically, this should be even more obvious to you if you're a Christian, given whose realm this is according to Christianity.


I did not call you uneducated. I said your educated guess didn't seem to be educated. Even an educated man can make an uneducated guess on a subject.

Lies do have a destructive power - but does it have a creative power?

Islam conquered and pillaged the world around it, destroying the civilizations it touched. Christianity preserved and planted civilization, including the one we enjoy right now.

Can Lies form the foundation for Western civilization and generate Good? Look at what feminism/leftism/SJW/communist lies have done to Western civ. Are lies capable of building trust and rule of law?

Anonymous Mudz January 13, 2015 8:28 PM  

My objections are the ones demanded on me by honesty.

Whenever you catch yourself saying something to the effect of "I must believe/disbelieve this because I'm just being honest", you should remind yourself that's not an argument, that's just stuffing your face with chocolate.

I will never simply accept that I must "believe" on the basis of one or a billion, or ten billion humans telling me to do so.

Nobody cited that as a reason to believe. I don't believe in common evolutionary theory, myself. You should believe in Christ because the evidence compels it, the risks demand it, and you should spare no effort to seek out that evidence.

The relationship between you and God is between you and God. The reality of God, and the conditions that exist for us as human beings, are not a matter of personal preference; swaddling yourself in a comfortable cocoon of relativism is anything but a disastrous philosophy when so much is on the line.

If i say that to me there is insufficient evidence to be sure it was a virgin birth, or a true resurrection from the dead, then that is what it is and what I believe.

Absolutely not. It may be what you believe, but that isn't what it is. It has absolutely nothing to do with your sentiments. It's a pure fool's dream, based on the hope that the universe will accommodate a precious point of view.

If the Catholics (et al.) are right, failing to meet the requirements of God, you could wind up in an eternity of Hell. I would say that's an extremely important thing to get some info on. Your personal preferences hold no water, and I'm told it's very, very hot in Hell.

The Christian tradition exists precisely to instruct and guide us so that we may gain everlasting life. That's the whole point of it. I would say that's something you should be checking out.

Virgin Birth:

There is absolutely sufficient evidence to be sure, or no-one would be sure. There is in fact, very little evidence you need to be sure that God can send his son through a virgin birth. We have it referenced in a number of Biblical accounts as testimony that He did.
Next to creation of Heavens and Earth, it's not a staggering feat of power, so there's no extraordinary conflict here. More than that, I don’t know.

Why? Would Jesus be less Jesusy if Joseph made a material contribution? Would he be 1.5x as Jesusy if he was born from a sheep? Jesus was obviously born, right?

In fact, if the context and evidence is shallow enough, at worst that'd justify a pure agnosticism, not dis-belief.
Though you're picking on very specific points quite unnecessarily; the real question is still: was Jesus the Messiah?
But here's a link if you are interested in investigating further.

http://www.themoorings.org/apologetics/VirginBirth/evid.html

Wait, hang on a second. You do believe that Jesus, aside from his claims, existed, right?
Well, just in case, here’s a link for that too. The guy’s an atheist, so he gives what’s probably the most conservative secular estimation. Makes a useful base-line.

http://armariummagnus.blogspot.co.nz/2011/05/nailed-ten-christian-myths-that-show.html

I can't understand why or how a person could willingly abandon his own good sense in favour of wanting to "belong" or join some club.

The answer is they don't. What is insensible, is rejecting good advice because you're worried about hipster cred.

Anonymous Mudz January 13, 2015 8:31 PM  

Wait, scratch that.

Denying immortality, eternal fulfillment and happiness, to risk eternal damnation - because you're worried about hipster cred.

Anonymous Mudz January 13, 2015 8:33 PM  

ISLAM, since I'm here:

By your reasoning Islam must be a true religion too. What are the chances that a historically documented child-rapist and mass murderer would be worshipped as the true prophet of God?

The question has no correspondence at all. The chances are apparently 1. Are they disputing the documentation? There's no meaningful statistic to pull out here.

But Muhammad’s existence is non-controversial. And it's perfectly credible that he dictated whatever the Quran was meant to record. There's just no corroboration for his claims of speaking with Gabriel, or the credentials of his visitor, if in fact he was visited. And frankly, I'm perfectly willing to believe he did receive supernatural visitation. Just not from any heavenly agent.

The standards are the same. Now you can ask whether you think he was a liar, a crazy man, or was visited by Gabriel. Discrimination of the evidence, man. Don't get the funny idea that this is just some kind of random lottery. The evidence for Islam is not the same as for Christianity.

The reason we know (or if you prefer, believe) that Islam is wrong is because we actually examine its historicity, it's conflict or support with the existing accounts, the fact that we were warned in the gospels precisely against the false prophets that were going to pop up.

Also, on a related note. So far as the Power of Lies is concerned, they still have to be convinced of it.

- The first Christians had to be convinced that Jesus was the Son of God and walked around performing miracles in plain sight to many people, and be so convinced that they were willing to defy an empire and die horribly for it.

- The first Muslims had to be convinced Muhammad was another prophet who had a secret conference in a cave by himself, and to attack their enemies.

(To the best of my knowledge. I’m only a google-expert on this particular of Islam’s history.)

Christianity actually had corroborative and existing evidence and sources that could be and was/is investigated. Islam just has Muhammad's singular word.

The evidence in the case of the Quran and Muhammad is essentially the same as if the only Biblical record we ever received was just the Revelation. Be as sceptical of Islam as you like.

And here's another thing. The Muslims still believe in Jesus, although they don't honour him as the Son of God but as a Messenger of God, etc. They agree with us to a certain supernatural extent. They agree with the evidence of Christ.

If you want to compare the claims of the religions, go for gold. It's your time to fill up. But in order to believe Islam (by assumption of argument) you would still have to accept a lot of the evidence for Christianity, including Jesus' Messiahship.


-

I will check out the Leslie Weatherhead book. I hope by 'amazing', you meant 'well supported and intriguing', otherwise it's hardly encouraging.

Anonymous Mudz January 13, 2015 9:10 PM  

Wait just the dickens!

Your philosophy is closely aligned to a 'Christian Agnostic'?

So, you're a Christian... with... doubts? Maybe?

What's your objection again?

I had assumed you were a Deist. Did you want me to explain reasons to believe in Christianity, why I believe, or construct a super-gravitational trap of logic no whimsy can escape? I do like a challenge, even one that exceeds all reason in the pursuit of salvation, but I have to know what it is you want.

And at the end of the day, you have to be willing to accept it. And that generally means generating a discomfort with lack of knowledge and certainty, so you don't sit on your bum and treat it as proof of itself.

Anonymous Joe Author January 13, 2015 11:33 PM  

“Joe, you entirely missed Vox's point.”

No, I got the message loud and clear. Non-religious authors ought to only address religion with “absolutely rigorous honesty”. If they fail to meet this standard—which is purposely vague—then they cannot possibly achieve literary greatness. Moreover, only if an author is religious is he/she able to be considered as “great”.


“proves the/my point: MPAI”

I take your elitist comment with great affection.


“It's a little known fact that listening to too much Billy Joel…“

It's still rock and roll to me.



Read what you want. Write what you want.

Anonymous Mudz January 14, 2015 12:25 AM  

Non-religious authors ought to only address religion with “absolutely rigorous honesty”. If they fail to meet this standard—" [...] "—then they cannot possibly achieve literary greatness.

Yes.

Moreover, only if an author is religious is he/she able to be considered as “great”.

No. Don't go bashing others just because you can't do it.

“It's a little known fact that listening to too much Billy Joel…“

It's still rock and roll to me.


Wait, this whole time that was Billy Joel lyrics??? Hah! Fucking hell you're a loser, Joe. I mean that.

I've seen you loitering around like a scorned eunuch for freaking ages, hoping for attention from more interesting people. Months and months of effort, and this is literally the most effect I've ever seen you have. Making me look up a song. Man. I'm sure you've heard this before, but you need to go home and rethink your life, flapjack. *jediwave*

Anonymous Jack Amok January 14, 2015 11:55 PM  

No, I got the message loud and clear.

Nope Joe, you still missed the point, even though Vox spelled it out for you.

"Eco, despite his own secular inclinations, does his fictional characters the courtesy of taking their beliefs seriously and at face value, which is why he is the better and more memorable writer."

OpenID cailcorishev January 15, 2015 8:58 AM  

Coincidentally, I've finally been reading The Name of the Rose, and had the same thought when I got to the part where Bernard Gui interrogates the cellarer. Unlike in the movie, where they're both fanatics, just different kinds, the book presents them both as intelligent men having a battle of wits to protect their ideals. I was blown away, because I kept thinking the cellarer had admitted something and then Bernard would point out the tricks in his wording that hid his true meaning. What great writing.

Anonymous VD January 15, 2015 11:24 AM  

It's pretty ridiculous that you think you're qualified to tell people how to get close to literary greatness.

I think you're forgetting that I am a Hugo-nominated author. My credentials in that regard are impeccable.

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