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Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Feb 13, 2007.

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  1. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I'm rather tied up for the next couple of weeks so it might be a while before I can answer these, but I will get around to it!
     
  2. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Hey, quick one.

    Regarding the Global Flood. Is the Jewish Scripture clear that the event covered all the tallest mountains and covered the whole planet? The Bible uses pretty clear language.
     
  3. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    If you could only have the complete works of one theologian to read/study for the rest of your life (and you wouldn't be allowed to read any other theology work), what theologian would you choose and why?
     
  4. C~G

    C~G Untouchable

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    What is your general perception how church and religion affected the whole Europe during the middle ages and what kind of effects (good/bad) in terms of later progression it had?

    I didn't go through the whole thread yet so I'm sorry if this has been asked already neither I know whether there is thread about it in history forum.
     
  5. CartesianFart

    CartesianFart Chieftain

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    [not to be too much of a brown noser] Well, Plotinus of course!:mischief:
     
  6. CartesianFart

    CartesianFart Chieftain

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    The role of logic is an element within the culture.

    Both in the West and East, the origin of logic is associated with an interest in the grammar and in the methodology of argument and discussion, be it in the context of law, religion, or philosophy. The reason why logic prevailed in the West, that logic thrived, is because they upholds the conviction that controversies should be settled by the force of reason rather than by the orthodoxy of a dogma or the tradition of prejudice.

    Aristotle said something that logic has a part to play in general discussion. Before embarking on the study of any science (humanities), one should, as Aristotle thought, recieve some training in logic. It is the most abstract and general description of reality. So, therefore, theology alongside philosophy and metaphysics has a part to play in the ramified heirarchy, with logic at its head.

    Before you start disputing me and wrongly paraphrasing of what I have once wrote, I do have to thank you for providing me the source of Ockham's writings on logic ( he is indeed different by not making logic dependant on theology or metaphysics). Suprisingly, it is translated by a writer named Paul Vincent Spade. It is definately a chance accounter since the dude have inspired my interest in the era. I have read some works of his and frankly I feel a little insignificant to say the least. Talk about a man who really did his research!

    The strength of his works is not something that all are that of a great, piecemeal, but he does provide a great theme of what they are like and what they were arguing about and against (whether a doctrine or some other latter authors).

    Here is a comment from Spade:

    So it does have something to do with theology since most of them were, by profession, theologians. Meaning that some of the contents in their writings were not only theological, but also philosophical. That is why I choose to be indifferent and take the liking to blurr myself by labeling some of them only as a theologian, philosopher, or logician.

    Now, back to Ockham, I find it hard to read most of it due to my little knowledge of latin grammar, and some of the arguments created by other writers of the past (Boethius as one of the many), but there are some things that I can find that can and is interesting. Such as some arguments of subjects and predicates (categoremata "to predicate" and syncategoremata "to predicate jointly"); from such parts of propositions as "every," "all," "no," "some," "only," and the like. It is fun to see the history of the scholastic thinkers, in detail, taking the function of a syncategorematic expression in changing or modifying the designation of categorematic expressions in a proposition. Thank God for Ockham's theory of "supposition!" Which I believe the pragmatist C.S.Peirce have made more CLEAR.:scan:

    Another thing I realized, is that the problem of my understanding of nominalism, I did not know that it can be used in a variety of ways.: Lastly, he does have some interesting points on substance and quality. Damn, everytime a read an antiquadated author, I have to read another antiquadated author (especially Aristotle's "Categories").:eek:
     
  7. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Sorry to be a long time answering these. Holidays...

    Different churches have been influenced in different ways and to different degrees, of course. The first major Christian movements in Africa that were led by Africans themselves were probably the "prophets" of the early to mid twentieth century. Here's something I wrote on them which should give you an idea of how traditional religious beliefs influenced their understanding of Christianity:

    A lot of these movements can be quite surprising. Take Jamaa, in Zaire, which mingled Catholicism with local beliefs but was founded by a Belgian Franciscan:

    The main heir today to these movements of fifty or a hundred years ago are the AICs.

     
  8. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Well, the information about Africa I just gave is a great example of this sort of thing. It's happened everywhere that Christainity has gone. It's sometimes said that Christianity is a "translating" religion, meaning that it adapts itself to whatever the local culture is. That's compared to Islam, which is generally less flexible. The difference is most clear in their attitudes to their scriptures: Christians have always been keen to translate the Bible into every language they come across, while Muslims have always stressed the importance of reading the Koran in the original Arabic.

    I think it's virtually impossible to disentangle Christian institutions etc from pre-Christian ones now, at least in Europe, because they have been entangled for so long. For example, it's often said that Christmas isn't really Christian but is actually some pre-Christian festival that the Christians simply altered. That may be true (although there is a lot of disinformation floating around about this) but it's been Christian for so incredibly long that really it makes no difference.

    As for the relation between theology and popular practices and beliefs, there has always been a close relation between them. It's often forgotten that the "great theologians" are not simply individuals but representatives of communities. What they say reflects, in part, the Christian faith as they have been taught it and as they experience it in their churches. Of course they have their own ideas too (they are not simply mouthpieces for congregations) and their ideas will influence their congregations too. But, as a rule, where theologians have retreated to ivory towers and gone it alone, as it were, it's not worked.

    There's certainly no necessary need in Christian theology for the devil, in the sense of an invisible demonic personality who spend his time trying to tempt people. I should think most theologians today would regard a belief like that as simply laughable. But I do think that the traditional devil character reflects a more fundamental notion in Christianity that evil is something real and substantial that needs to be confronted. Some theologians have tried to "demythologise" the devil - for example, by suggesting that something is demonic in virtue of our attitude towards it rather than because it's literally a nasty imp. We often talk of someone's "demons" in a metaphorical sense: perhaps this is the only sense there is.

    I don't know much about the origins of the devil character in Christianity. It's interesting to compare the book of Job, where Satan seems to be in God's service and prone to having friendly chats with him, with Matthew's Gospel, where the devil is a wicked character who tempts Jesus. But that suggests a Jewish development of the character rather than a Christian one. It's often said that the depiction of Satan in the Middle Ages, as a sort of horned satyr, was a deliberate attempt to slur pagans by identifying the Horned God with the devil - but that's always said by neo-pagans, whose grasp of religious history tends to be incredibly dodgy at the best of times, so I don't know whether it's true or not.

    Basically, I don't know very much about the devil, so I'm sorry not to be able to say more - it's an interesting area!

    Well, to answer that properly we'd need a definition of both conservative evangelicalism and orthodoxy. But in brief, I would say that conservative evangelicalism (by which I mean the religion of Holy Trinity Brompton, the Alpha Course, and all that) at least tends to unorthodoxy in a number of areas.

    First, its treatment of the Bible as the sole religious authority is unorthodox, because traditionally Christians have treated the Bible as an authority only within the context of the church. For example, in the first few centuries of Christianity, Christians believed that the touchstone of orthodoxy was "the rule of faith", by which they meant the whole legacy of Jesus and the apostles: the church itself, the teaching of the apostles, the institutions, and the Bible. Thus the Bible had authority as part of the rule of faith. Only at the Reformation did that view change, with the Bible being held up as an authority in its own right that could be opposed to the church. But still it was considered an authority within the community of faith. Modern fundamentalists turn it into a dead letter, a divine "word" that exists over and above everything else. I've even known some who actually identify it with God!

    Second, conservative evangelicals insist that the belief that Jesus died in the place of sinners, taking their punishment upon himself, is an essential Christian belief. This is completely untrue: that doctrine didn't even exist before the Middle Ages, and it only became widely believed at the Reformation. The authentic Christian doctrine is simply that Jesus' death and resurrection saves sinners: there is no definitive explanation of how the process works.

    Third, conservative evangelicals have a very strong tendency to (at least) monophysitism - the denial of two natures in Jesus - and (often) sheer docetism - the denial of Jesus' humanity. They bang on at such length about how Jesus is God that they forget that he's supposed to be fully human as well.

    That's just a couple of things. There are others, and I think that the whole mindset of conservative evangelicalism is geared towards heterodoxy, although it is hard to explain properly. The best treatment of this subject is still James Barr's Fundamentalism, which is an old book now but still sheds a great deal of light on it.

    As for the Rapture, I don't think that's particularly heterodox.

    Well, what about it? "Liberal protestantism" is even vaguer than "conservative evangelicalism"!

    I'd like to say Roman Catholic or Orthodox, but I suspect I'd just be a liberal-minded Anglican.

    Not many, because this really isn't my area and I don't have any resources to hand. But one good example is the prediction in Mark 13:1-2 that the Temple would be destroyed and not one stone left upon another. That can't have been made up by the early church, because although the Temple was destroyed, it was not the case that none of its stones remained in place. In fact there are still quite a lot of parts of the Temple existing today, with stones still resting on each other. So on the assumption that the early church would not attribute to Jesus an unfulfilled prophecy of this nature, that must be an authentic saying.

    That scourge of the Christian right, the Jesus Seminar, is a good source for investigating this further. Basically it's a group of scholars who study the Gospels in an attempt to uncover the historical Jesus, and who make periodic announcements. They're a bit sensationalist really, as you can tell from the information about them (no scholarly organisation would normally bother to talk about how their project could be considered blasphemous in normal society), and from the way they come to conclusions by voting, which isn't really very academic. Still, their methods are quite interesting, although some of their presuppositions are controversial. For example, they proceed on the assumption that Jesus was not at all an eschatological prophet - that he did not expect an imminent end of the world and irruption of the kingdom of God. But there are plenty of scholars who think that he did, and if they are right, then the Jesus Seminar scholars are making quite a fundamental error. But their methodology is still pretty instructive.

    The title "the son of God" wouldn't have meant much to anyone in Jesus' day. Certainly most scholars today would probably agree that Jesus didn't regard himself as divine or anything like that, although he probably did think he had some special relationship to God, as shown in the way he addressed God as "father" (something a number of other charismatic prophets, such as Honi the Circle Drawer, had also done). I can't imagine that any scholar has seriously entertained the notion that Jesus didn't believe in God.

    Because they think it's true, of course. I don't really see what's wacky about it!

    The notion that the earth is a "planet" is of course alien to the writers of the Old Testament: they normally seem to think the world is shaped like a table, with the surface of the earth being a sort of rectangle with pillars at the corners holding up the sky. But the Genesis account specifies that the flood is sent to kill everything living on earth other than Noah and his associates, so presumably it would have to cover the whole surface, whatever shape it may be.

    I like the assumption that I would want to read any... I would say either Karl Barth, because he is so wide-ranging and original that his work contains pretty much any idea you want to entertain; or Thomas Aquinas, because I like his rational approach; or Friedrich Schleiermacher, because I think what he actually says is very sensible, and indeed anticipates most that is of value in later liberal theology.

    Well, I sort of wrote a book about that already, so rather than go over it again, I'll refer you there! Cop out, I know, I'm sorry. In brief, the church affected Europe so enormously in the Middle Ages that its influence is pretty much everywhere, and still is. I think its effects were more good than bad, especially in its influence on ideas, education, science, and so on.

    Yes, you see, logic is a tool that can be used in theology. It doesn't follow from that that the subject of logic is part of the subject of theology - if anything, it should be the other way around. We use language when discussing theology - it doesn't follow that the linguistics is a theological subject.

    You seem to have misunderstood Spade's point, which is that in the Middle Ages, there were many philosophical topics that had nothing to do with theology. He is trying to explain that those who did philosophy were not necessarily doing theology.
     
  9. MayNilad Man

    MayNilad Man Chieftain

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    I'm interested in learning about History and the RCC.
    Can you refer me any books?

    Also, what can you tell about the person that is Luther?
    What were his beliefs, what was his worldview and such.
     
  10. C~G

    C~G Untouchable

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    Holy crapola, no, that isn't cop out, more like sell out. :D

    I never knew you wrote book about it, and I have heard about that book.

    Now I have to get my hands into that one.
     
  11. Elrohir

    Elrohir RELATIONAL VALORIZATION

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    I have a question: Theonomy is the doctrine that Christians are still bound by Old Testament law, and that the Bible is the only source for authentic human ethics, right? (Is that the essence of it, anyway? If I'm off, please correct me) I believe this doctrine came about during the Reformation; how important was it during the Reformation? Did this doctrine exist in any form before Calvin and his peers? How prevalent is this today in most modern American churches?

    I ask because I have a friend who attends a PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) church who actually believe in theonomy, as well as post-millenialism. (So as far as I can tell, they believe eventually the world will consist entirely of Christians, and Christian governments enforcing Old Testament laws?) It sounds pretty wacky, but apparently that's what they believe. (My friend wasn't aware of this when he started attending, but plans to keep going there because his brother goes there as well, until he leaves town for college next year, using college as an excuse to make a graceful exit)
     
  12. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Sorry if this has been asked before, but did your choosing Leibniz as the object of your philosophy dissertation have anything to do with your work in Theology? If so, what? If not, why did you choose Leibniz?
     
  13. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Question: is that the sort of things theologians should be saying? In other words, setting aside the specific example to which this quote refers and looking at it generally, are theologians really in any position to say that any given religious belief, be it about the devil or about reincarnation or what have you, is any more or less a) likely to be true and b) "mature" a belief to hold?
     
  14. Atticus

    Atticus Chieftain Retired Moderator

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    Ok, I guess in the context of religion it isn't necessarily so wacky. I also understood upon little reflection that the question was kind of answer to itself, the wackiest part in the doctrine seems to be that catholics have nothing to gain with it.

    This puzzled me some years ago: What qualifies as god in theistic and atheistic arguments? What properties does thing have to possess to be called a god? Maybe it varies a lot in different arguments, but there might be some property (eg. omnipotence) which can not be removed? (Background of this is that I came across with a version of the ontological proof, which might be valid, I thought, but wasn't sure if the thing whose existence it proved could be called god).
     
  15. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    I have asked this question before - what makes a god? Many people (even- perhaps especially - atheists) will mention omnipotence, but that would disqualify the vast majority of beings that have been considered gods (from Zeus to Quetzlcoatl to Jehovah, as the ancient Hebrews understood Him) and doesn't seem a very good prerequisite. I also assume that, for the question to mean anything, actual existence is not a necessary attribute.
     
  16. Atticus

    Atticus Chieftain Retired Moderator

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    I thought it was answered, but have troubles finding it. Can you give any hints?

    Somehow I feel that most people making those arguments want to exclude those deities.

    No, proofs wouldn't be very interesting then ;) Ontological proof of course, if valid, would make it one. I'm looking for kind of minimal conditions, such that the thing which lacks them absolutely can not be called god.


    Edited little to make more readable and consistent.
     
  17. Elrohir

    Elrohir RELATIONAL VALORIZATION

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    Another question, when you get around to it. What was the early Christian belief on hell? Did they largely believe it was a literal place that lasted forever, or did they believe that it wasn't literal, or was non-eternal, or what? What about the early Church fathers? (I know Origen was a Universalist, any others? Was this the predominating view at any point, or was it always in the minority?)

    What do you think of the claims that the word used for "everlasting" and "eternal" in the New Testament, "aionios" should be interpreted as "eon" or "age" instead of eternity as it is more commonly interpreted?
     
  18. frob2900

    frob2900 Chieftain

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    Who makes a god?

    Man.
     
  19. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Okay that's nice, but not at all my question. What are the characteristics or attributes that are necessary to refer to a being as a god? And actual existence is for the purposes of definition irrelevant, if the word is to have any meaning.
     
  20. frob2900

    frob2900 Chieftain

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    It's a very concise answer to your question. Characteristics and such are largely irrelevant, since as long as a group of people honestly worship a being as a God, then it is a God. At least to them. You could easily imagine a "God of Worthlessness", which has attributes that are actually weaker than those of an average human being, but it is a God nonetheless.

    Immortality is often a part of the 'God attributes', but that's really just to extend the 'usefulness' of said God, and I'm sure there are lots of examples of Gods who aren't immortal.

    I mean, what would you imagine is a better definition than prople worshipping a being as a God. Some kind of stats? If you want to we can dig through the D&D "Gods and Deities" book and compare it to the "D&D Monstrous Manual" to find some kind of Hit Point/Special Attack cutoff above which a being is generally called a God (in D&D). Would that be a good definition? It kind of hinges on the opinions of the authors of D&D, but still...
     
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