RSS

Monthly Archives: January 2010

Inter-Faith Relationships – Can They Work Out?

(Inspired by this thread)
The only way inter-religious relationships can work is if both parties place higher emphasis on how they treat each other over what each other believes. In my experience, the difference between your average Christian and a fundamentalist is that the fundamentalist puts priority on what other people believe and not how other people treat them. Your average [sane] Christian focuses more on how the person treats them.

I dated a Catholic for a year and we had absolutely no problems when it came to religion. She only cared that I treated her well. She broke up with me [probably] because I got insanely drunk one night and blacked out lol… and I also refused to say the “L” word. Conversely, I dated a Protestant and she didn’t care about how I treated her, she couldn’t accept that I didn’t have the correct beliefs. And she had just gotten out of a pretty bad relationship where the guy shared her beliefs, but played mind games and was emotionally abusive… but she was with him for three years. I’m certain I didn’t play any mind games or was emotionally abusive to her .

Placing emphasis on “belief” is dogmaticism.

If both parties involved aren’t all dogmaticism but rather places emphasis on “orthopraxy” (correct action), then it might work out. That dogmaticism is at the heart of all religious intolerance, and will doom any sort of relationship to failure; either leading to break up or to a relationship where both people have the correct “beliefs”, but is devoid of respect. And what if one person just happens to lose their faith, and both only cared about dogma? What if they placed correct belief over all else? One person might simply lie to the other so that they would stay together. It’s possible that dogmaticism could even lead to perpetual dishonesty in a relationship for those who place correct belief at the highest priority in a relationship (faith is self-deception).

This reminds me of a comment made by someone in response to a Rabbi’s view on the historicity of the Exodus:

Maimonides strongly criticized people who insisted that the Bible had to be literally true. Nonetheless, many people still cling to the foolish notion that literal truth is a necessary belief. That is illogical for Jews, since we are not a FAITH based People whose way(s) of life are not based upon any belief. Christians, on the other hand, need literal truth because for them belief is more important than truth.
– RickLee

The mainstream Jewish view towards religion also seems to be one of “orthopraxy” and not dogmaticism. From another point of view on the opposite side of the spectrum, this table was put together by Luke over at Common Sense Atheism:

Similarities

Christian Atheist
…probably wants to increase world happiness and reduce suffering. … probably wants to increase world happiness and reduce suffering.
…holds thousands of beliefs for which she has no well-tested evidence. …holds thousands of beliefs for which she has no well-tested evidence.
…often makes irrational decisions. …often makes irrational decisions.
…may or may not believe in free will. …may or may not believe in free will.
…may believe any number of things about morality. …may believe any number of things about morality.
…almost certainly holds some beliefs that logically contradict other beliefs she holds. …almost certainly holds some beliefs that logically contradict other beliefs she holds.
…is plagued by over a dozen powerful cognitive biases. …is plagued by over a dozen powerful cognitive biases.
…may believe any number of things about who the Historical Jesus was. …may believe any number of things about who the Historical Jesus was.
…may be anywhere from extremely intelligent to frightfully stupid. …may be anywhere from extremely intelligent to frightfully stupid.
…is probably outraged by some religious beliefs and practices. …is probably outraged by some religious beliefs and practices.
…may have any range of beliefs about evolution, cosmogony, and the nature of spacetime. …may have any range of beliefs about evolution, cosmogony, and the nature of spacetime.
…may hold any of several views about metaphysics. …may hold any of several views about metaphysics.
…may or may not have a highly positive view of science. …may or may not have a highly positive view of science.
…may or may not believe in absolute truth. …may or may not believe in absolute truth.
…holds many beliefs and attitudes out of trust, not evidence. …holds many beliefs and attitudes out of trust, not evidence.
…may hold any of several views about the historicity of the Bible. …may hold any of several views about the historicity of the Bible.
…sometimes acts against her own moral principles. …sometimes acts against her own moral principles.
…can be angry, satisfied, sad, happy, lazy, or industrious at different times. …can be angry, satisfied, sad, happy, lazy, or industrious at different times.
…often makes assertions about topics she knows relatively little about. …often makes assertions about topics she knows relatively little about.
…may live in a bubble of like-minded friends or have many friends with diverse beliefs. …may live in a bubble of like-minded friends or have many friends with diverse beliefs.
…may or may not regularly doubt her own worldview. …may or may not regularly doubt her own worldview.

Differences

…believes in a god. … doesn’t believe in a god.

Concentrate on similarities, not dogmaticism.

Advertisements
 
Comments Off on Inter-Faith Relationships – Can They Work Out?

Posted by on January 12, 2010 in correct belief, dogmaticism, interfaith, orthopraxy, relationships

 

Contradictions in the Gospels

Contradictions in the Gospels? There are none.

That is to say, if one understands why “they” were written. In early Christianity, there was incredible diversity. There were Sethians, Ophites, Cerinthians, Marcionites, Basilideans, Valentinians, and many other smaller sects with subtle differences in theology and Christology. This is run of the mill sociology though; within any culture there is bound to be variation so it should be no different for a Christianity without an established orthodoxy.

It just so happens that this lack of orthodoxy is the reason behind the Gospels. I’ll just quote Irenaeus (c. 180 CE) in his tome “Against Heresies”:

7. Such, then, are the first principles of the Gospel: that there is one God, the Maker of this universe; He who was also announced by the prophets, and who by Moses set forth the dispensation of the law,— [principles] which proclaim the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and ignore any other God or Father except Him. So firm is the ground upon which these Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these [documents], each one of them endeavours to establish his own peculiar doctrine. For the Ebionites, who use Matthew’s Gospel only, are confuted out of this very same, making false suppositions with regard to the Lord. But Marcion, mutilating that according to Luke, is proved to be a blasphemer of the only existing God, from those [passages] which he still retains. Those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, preferring the Gospel by Mark, if they read it with a love of truth, may have their errors rectified. Those, moreover, who follow Valentinus, making copious use of that according to John, to illustrate their conjunctions, shall be proved to be totally in error by means of this very Gospel, as I have shown in the first book. Since, then, our opponents do bear testimony to us, and make use of these [documents], our proof derived from them is firm and true.

Here in Against Heresies 3.11.7, Irenaeus argues that the four gospels have authority because the heretics used them first. Though his supposition is that all of these gospels were originally written by orthodox Christians and these heretics simply mutilated their writings. There’s no evidence of this; the four gospels that arrive to us today were written anonymously.

Also implicit here (and in 3.11.8) is that using four gospels as orthodoxy was a novelty when Irenaeus wrote. All of these heretics preceded Irenaeus, thus we have no unambiguous witness to any Christians using four gospels. Ironically, Tatian used a gospel call “Through Four” (i.e. Diatessaron) but was later branded a heretic by Irenaeus (1.28.1). As Irenaeus writes above, these four major heretical Christian sects only used one gospel.

So in the early/mid 2nd century, there were at least four gospels floating around being used independently by heretics. The earliest “orthodox” witness to gospel material is Justin Martyr c. 150 CE, and he seems to be using a gospel harmony as well (rightly so, since Tatian was Justin’s student). According to the Synoptic Problem, Mark was written first which Luke and Matthew used as a source. As I noted in an earlier post, Marcion (c. 140 CE) seems to be the first witness to the actual Synoptic Problem. That there was an original gospel and then a version of this gospel mutilated by the “defenders of Judaism” and Marcion sought to correct this mutilated version (Tertullian, “Against Marcion” 4.4.4). These could only be Mark and Matthew in the Synoptic Problem, with the addition of Marcion’s “anti-Matthew” gospel which was re-Judaized to become Luke.

Also note that Marcion is also the earliest witness to what scholars now know – that the gospels were originally written anonymously:

Marcion, on the other hand, you must know, ascribes no author to his Gospel, as if it could not be allowed him to affix a title to that from which it was no crime (in his eyes) to subvert the very body.

– “Against Marcion” 4.4.2

Of course, Tertullian’s assumption here and all throughout “Against Marcion” was that our current “Luke” was written prior to 70 CE.

Now we have at least three communities: the community using Mark, the community that mutilated Mark because they were defenders of Judaism (Matthew), and Marcion’s community (Luke). Three out of the four major communities that Irenaeus recounts above. And this is why, in actuality, there aren’t any “contradictions” in the gospels – each gospel was meant as a replacement for the other – and they weren’t writing history, but theology. The Matthean community didn’t use both Mark and Matthew, they mutilated Mark to create Matthew. Each gospel writer was trying to write “orthodoxy” and didn’t use other gospels. It’s not until Justin Martyr/Irenaeus timeframe that the Christians who considered themselves the “universal” (catholicos in Greek) church started using all four to cement their universality.

It’s an ingenious plan, to appeal to the lowest common denominator. But once they did this, trying to assert that all four gospels were orthodox, this is where “contradictions” come into play. But they were unaware of why these contradictions were there in the first place due to their ignorance of the textual relationship between these gospels.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 6, 2010 in apologetics, early Christianity, marcion

 

γυββερις

This is a funny article that points out something I noticed when I was watching After Jesus while at a bar on Christmas Eve:

One Jack Kilmon has a complaint about the way TV Bible-documentaries portray Paul writing his letters:

“Many of these documentaries, like “After Jesus,” flash back to and anchor themselves on a guy dressed in ancient garb with a reed in his hand, writing on papyrus to represent the Gospels or the Pauline epistles as the narrator discusses some historical event mentioned in those texts between discussions from some of the finest and most brilliant scholars and authors today… Now I can forgive the Medieval artists who depict the evangelists or Paul writing a text of scribbling or jibberish but in every one of these documentaries, not just one but all of them, the director does close-ups of the papyrus and the scribe dipping his reed and writing…what? Jibberish! Scribbles!”

So… the TV documentaries are portraying Paul as though he was writing jibberish? This might be just too obvious to even say, but: at least they are getting something right!
For complete historical accuracy, of course, they then need to portray hordes of scholars across the span of the subsequent two millennia asserting that they have made perfect sense of Paul’s jibberish.

I admit I was having a drink at the time, but at one point I looked up at the TV screen and noticed “Paul” writing what looked like random strings of Greek letters. Upsilon… psi… theta… some unknown letter… and then I thought “Did they even write in lower case back then? I don’t think so…”. I guess it would have taken away from the “authenticity” if they had Paul writing in all caps like an internet flame warrior (Gal 6:11).

 
Comments Off on γυββερις

Posted by on January 5, 2010 in christmas, greek, lower case, pseudo-history

 
 
NeuroLogica Blog

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Slate Star Codex

SELF-RECOMMENDING!

Κέλσος

Matthew Ferguson Blogs

The Wandering Scientist

What a lovely world it is

NT Blog

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

PsyBlog

Understand your mind with the science of psychology -

Vridar

Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

Maximum Entropy

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Skepticism, Properly Applied

Criticism is not uncivil

Say..

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Research Digest

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Disrupting Dinner Parties

Feminism is for everyone!

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

The New Oxonian

Religion and Culture for the Intellectually Impatient

The Musings of Thomas Verenna

A Biblioblog about imitation, the Biblical Narratives, and the figure of Jesus

The Syncretic Soubrette

Snarky musings from an everyday woman