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Ask a Theologian II

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, May 9, 2008.

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  1. Eretz Yisrael

    Eretz Yisrael Korean Conscript

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    I read quite a few of Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky on their issues concerning existentalism, with Kierkegaard covering most of the books. But Dostoevsky's thoughts on Christianity was also intriguing for me, and how he managed to write in such a way fascinates me (Although they do give me headaches; I not sure if it is just me, but I though Dostoevsky's descripitions of the a person's thoughts being overwhelming sometimes.)
     
  2. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    They're the most important Christian existentialists. Whether that makes them good or not will depend on how viable you think Christian existentialism is, I suppose.

    I wish people would stop asking me that...
     
  3. Loppan Torkel

    Loppan Torkel Chieftain

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    Of course. I guess existentialism of any kind is uninteresting if you don't buy the premises for that belief.

    :) Sorry. Kierkegaard and Berdyaev seemed to be overlooked in Yisraels question... Next time I will search the thread for answers.
     
  4. elenar

    elenar Deadman

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    Moderator Action: Following discussion moved from another thread.

    Maybe you implement inquisitors or witch hunters. Where are priests, there are always other types of fanatics present as well. Any sort of power corupts those unready, and I don't know anyone ready..
    And medieval time was 'golden age' of this type twisted minds.. dwelling on ignorance people create deity: they impersonate most dominant emotion as god, unwilling to let it go/pass they become slaves of their gods. Just like emotions, these may be pleasant or unpleasant. In medieval times common was fear. With blades on their throats they gave in to it adopting it as god, with help of lectures and persuasion of those already affected. Such religion spreads fast, based on intimidation which becomes law.
    You are born, and no one asks you to sign paper or swear to follow rules they say to you. You never did it. But everyone inputs those into you, under threat of robbing your freedom and causing you pain if you do not follow. Leading you to preform things as bargain for land that no-one has ever had, but everyone claims, because it was passed from someone who 'rightfuly' owns.
    And in time you do the same.
     
  5. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    As it happens, there were very few witch hunters in the Middle Ages, since the church's official view on witches was that they didn't exist. Also, most medieval inquisitors were fair and thorough investigators, not the maniacal psychopaths of popular imagination.
     
  6. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias Civ3 Modding Archivist

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    Yes, but certainly a significant portion of "fair and thorough" ( = "fair and balanced"? ;) ) would be counted as war crimes today, and IIRC burning of witches was especially popular in Germany ... ?

    Not to mention heretics ...

    Best,

    Oz
     
  7. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Not in the Middle Ages.
     
  8. nick0515

    nick0515 Fantasy World Builder

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    Do you know any good online references for this subject Plotinus. I find your comments a little surpirsing. Especially that the official position of the church was that witches didn't exist. I have always been lead to believe that the church considered witches to be women in league with the devil.

    Cheers

    Nick
     
  9. timerover51

    timerover51 Chieftain

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    I found the following article on Wikipedia by typing "Witch Hunting" into the Yahoo search engine. It is possible to do your own research. I teach 6th graders how to do research both online and via a public library. Online articles make me a bit nervous as to accuracy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch-hunt
     
  10. elenar

    elenar Deadman

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    Seems like there were with-hunts in medieval ages, pretty enough.

    Sorry for shattering your more "civilized" illusion of polite inquisitions, Plotinus.
     
  11. nick0515

    nick0515 Fantasy World Builder

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    Yes well I could have typed 'witch hunting' into a search engine too, but as you say online articles are often inaccurate thus I asked Plotinus to recommend something as I know he has a PhD in Theology and may well know some good websites. Can't go to a library I'm afraid as I'm teaching English in Korea, so the books are all in Korean at the libraries. Actually I was working as a librarian in New Zealand before I came to Korea so I well know the joy of researching at a library.

    Having said that I do read Wikipedia quite often, but usually just for a light overview of a subject and because I'm bored at work. Being a history graduate I much prefer a big fat history book than a couple of pages long wikipedia article.

    Cheers

    Nick

    EDIT:

    Elenar, don't be two quick to judge Plotinus wrong. He has a PhD in Theology so may well know a great deal more about it than the people who contributed to the wikipedia article
     
  12. Steph

    Steph Multi Many Tasks man Retired Moderator

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    I don't see why you say that, as the article says there were relatively few witch hunt in the middle ages, this start in early modern Europe after 1480.
     
  13. elenar

    elenar Deadman

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    You can see it was earlier but was classified as heresy. Also there were laws against it in 924-999.

    To me, simple fact that church harrased people in the name of fight with 'heresy', that allows lots of excuses to abuse it and use as tool of control, is enough to consider sam ehappened with so called 'witches' even though the name could not be so popular yet. It is like "terrorism' these days, when it is enough to call someone this name to justify your aggressive actions against him, without drawing much attention to your true motives.

    You are right. It may not be so if wiki is inaccurrate on that subject.
     
  14. nick0515

    nick0515 Fantasy World Builder

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    Yes, I quite agree with this. One man's "terrorist" is another man's freedom fighter. "Resistance is not Terrorism" - PFLP slogan.

    The Wikipedia article does seem to suggest that witch hunting wasn't wide spread until after the medieval period. I will reserve judgement on this topic until I've found some more scholarly articles.

    Anyway getting back to the thread topic, even if inquistitors/witch-hunters aren't done in a historically accuarte way they would still be a fun unit. Though I think just preists coverting is enough on it's own without inquisitors needed.

    EDIT: Just realised that the thread topic was about slaves and workers not priests :lol:
     
  15. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias Civ3 Modding Archivist

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    My bad: I was off on dating the German witch hunts to the Middle Ages (which is mildly ironic, as my undergradtuate minor was the transition from feudalism to capitalism in Europe.)

    From The Rejection of Pascal's Wager

    "Perhaps one of the worst atrocities ever committed by any religion is the witch hunt that plagued Europe from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century. The death toll estimates varied from between one hundred thousand to two million people".

    Not the best scholarly source perhaps, but interesting nonetheless.

    Best,

    Oz
     
  16. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I don't know about online references; I'm afraid that witch hunts are one of those subjects where you will find a vast amount of disinformation online (mainly, I'm afraid, from neo-pagans who think that the victims of the witch hunts were pagans, a notion for which there is no evidence). Offline, Allison Coudert has written about this, but probably the major historian of this matter and also a very readable one is Ronald Hutton. I suppose these sources might be a bit hard to find where you are, but if you can find anything online traceable to Hutton you should be on the right track.

    Actually, until the Renaissance, "witches" were just people with magical powers who used those powers to harm others. They were a sort of popular bogeyman. The church didn't take them seriously because the church - for the most part - didn't take claims of magical powers, whether benevolent or malevolent, seriously. This began to change in the fifteenth century, above all with the Malleus maleficarum, written by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, which offered a new understanding of witches as people who had made a pact with the devil. This gradually became the official understanding of witches, and great efforts were made to change the popular image of witches to this new one. These proved very successful. Remember that although it was the Catholic Church which pushed for this reinterpretation of witches, most of the notorious witch hunts were conducted by Protestants, not by Catholics.

    Also, although most of the victims of the witch hunts (some 90%, I believe) were women, this was not exclusively the case - and in some areas, especially Russia, male victims outnumbered female ones.

    The older understanding of witches as malevolent sorcerers has persisted, of course. In fact in places where "witches" are persecuted today (such as in certain parts of Africa, where the numbers of people killed for witchcraft are rising at the moment) it's just the old, old story of people being scared that certain other people are putting curses on them, and reacting in the only way they know how. That's something that long predates Christianity.

    Actually my PhD is in philosophy (my master's in in theology). But the point here is really that Wikipedia is of variable reliability at best, and I'm afraid that when it comes to religion, it is at its least reliable. I would never place any weight on what Wikipedia says on this sort of subject.

    I sympathise with your point of view, but it's very sloppy to say "they did bad things to one set of people, so we might as well say that they did bad things to other people too". As I mentioned above, it wasn't even Catholics who typically persecuted witches, it was Protestants, so it wasn't the same people doing it at all.

    That site is not as bad as some others with the same intent I've seen, but it's still obviously doing quite a lot of distortion of the evidence and selective citation. This is a case in point: no-one knows how many people died, but the figure given there is way off current scholarly estimates, which normally hover around the 35,000 mark. A lot, of course, but hardly 2,000,000. (Hutton, incidentally, thinks it was closer to 70,000, which is very high by normal scholarly standards, but not absurdly so - as I say, he is a very respectable scholar of this sort of thing).

    Also, as I said, the witch hunts of early modern times were smaller in scope than those of antiquity. I suppose it doesn't fit the prejudices of the author of that site to admit that Christians killed fewer witches than pagans did, though.
     
  17. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    It is also likely worth noting that where English translations may refer to "witches" or "mediums," the Vulgate stays closer to the original language in calling them veneficae ("poison-makers") and ventriloquae ("ventriloquists"). (The other term for witch in Latin, malefica, just means "evil-doer.") It seems pretty clear that it means con-artists who simply play off people's superstitions rather than those with 'actual magical powers."
     
  18. elenar

    elenar Deadman

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    As if there were any others.. I've seen quite lot of weird stuff ..but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything, there's no mystical energy field controls my destiny.. WAIT! I'm in wrong movie..
    I want to say there is nothing you can't understand/realize, and only something you do not get yet you will call 'magic'. As we fear unknown we consider those who know threat, and take defensive action out of our paranoia.

    Since it is religion thread I will ad my point of view on god.
    In short: god is human creation to fill gap where ignorance dwels, it is an excuse. In a way similar to 'magic' I mentioned above.
    Because people imagine god with human traits, they see it/him as different kind of human actually. So the only difference between normal human and the god is the amount of power they have (this way more power human has, more idolized he/she is, and propably such human feels more 'godly'.. as we know there were individuals who considered themselves gods). Ironicaly, it also means there is no god, or we are all gods, because amount of power does not really determine 'the kind' or 'race' we belong to, so we could say we are gods with less power, or there is no godd but human/being with absolute power. So god would be 'one of us'.
    Personally, if there was god, I wouldn't trust him.
     
  19. nick0515

    nick0515 Fantasy World Builder

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    Thanks for your detailed answer Plotinus. That was exactly the kind of info I was after and I knew you would know some of the key academics to read. I'll try and find some articles online by them or that reference them. Also I thought it would be the case that there would be a vast amount of inaccurate material out there for exactly the reason you mentioned; neo-pagans wanting to blame Christianity more than it deserves. Sorry I got your PhD subject wrong.

    elenar as an atheist I agree with most of what you wrote. Especially about humans giving human characteristics to God or gods. It's just so blindingly obvious in almost all the relgious works I've come across. If God were to exist, why on earth would he behave and think like a flawed human being? But I find the proposition that God exists to be so unlikely that for all intents and purposes we can safely say God does not exist, unless some evidence to the contrary comes along. None of the arguements for the existence of God that I have come across so far has seemed at all convincing to me. Though I still find religion fascinating, but as a historian rather than from the point of view of a believer or from a theological point of view. For me, studying religion tells us a lot about human beings but very little about God or the universe. As elenar said, since this is the thread it is I thought I'd give my opinion too.
     
  20. Legba

    Legba Chieftain

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    Some atheists criticize religions for actively seeking out children, who are naturally tend to accept what adults tell them, in order to maintain a new generation of converts. Is there a specific "get'em while they're young" Church doctrine? If so, how has this been justified?

    I've heard some Christians use Mark 10:15 to justify it:
    "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

    What do you think about this?
     
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