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Ellinas last won the day on March 12

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About Ellinas

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    Greek language; archaeology; books; musing about life, the universe and everything.
  • More About Me
    Former Christian, now (for want of a better description) Hellenic pagan; married into a fundamentalist Christian family, and increasingly fed up with being told what to believe.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    Greek pantheon

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  1. Christianity Without Jesus

    I have limited time at the moment so just a couple of points, not fully set out: If what you say is correct, at some point there was a movement from evolution to intentional activity to create a new form of "Judaism for the masses". Can you identify anything that shows that occurring? At present, I get the overwhelming impression that, to be convincing, you need to try to find something a little more concrete than what appears to be a form of holistic analogical derivation which may or may not reflect actual occurrence. Just wondering if anything in the dead sea scrolls might fit the bill - but that is pure speculation on my end as I've not looked at the question. Really, you need written evidence of pre-Christian development of gnostic thought into something recognisably on the way to being the Christian myth - a sort of theological missing link. I tend to agree that "balance of probabilities" is useful when discussing these sort of issues, but, speaking as a lawyer (albeit one who usually deals in "beyond reasonable doubt), I also find that the more evidence that can be found the surer the foundation of the probability. There is a danger of interpreting disparate ideas into a rationalised whole that actually never existed. Nothing you say seems to me inconsistent with the proposition that gnostic ideas influenced a mythology that was based in some way on an actual person. Unless you can bridge some of the logical evidential gaps, you will struggle to get this accepted even by the more liberal end of Christian thought.
  2. Christianity Without Jesus

    I'm not going to pretend that I've researched all this, so this is largely a sort of initial reaction. Firstly, I cannot say that the postulated development of Christianity is wrong. It does, however, strike me as coming into the category of being rather presumptive. Joining the dots and seeing a possible pattern is not the same thing as establishing a historical fact. And, if it is correct that the gnostics interpreted Plato into some new and interesting shapes secretly, or with sufficient economy not to leave clear surviving text, then such an establishment of those facts is probably impossible - as is the capacity to disprove this viewpoint. My own thoughts are that it seems strange to me that developments of Platonic thought would fix upon a reworking of a small, exclusive cult like Judaism. It is arguable that the classical world, at this point, was already moving towards some sort of monotheism. Hints of that may be seen already in the viewpoints that Plato ascribes to Socrates, who may (if I remember correctly - I've not double checked) speak of "the god" in ways that are suggestive of at least some sympathy towards a monotheistic ideal, and whose focus on virtue (which I will adopt for present purposes as near enough translation of αρετή) certainly has a moral quality not easily identified within hellenic mythology. Note to self at this point. Remember to change the keyboard back to English before continuing to type in order to avoid gobbledegook... Anyhow, to my mind, that montheistic and ethical ideal would likely have had wider appeal had it been linked to a cult such as Cybele or even knitted into that of Isis and Serapis. Mithras was probably a non-starter due to its' exclusion of females. The δωδεκάθεοι even could have been a vehicle, though the need to modify a highly ingrained ritualised religion may have made it a tall order for reform. But pulling Plato and Judaism together does not strike me as the obvious route to take - Judaism was too much a minority interest. Again, it is arguable that the 2nd/3rd Century Chaldean Oracles present Hekate in a role that has some reflection in the ideas of mediatorial activity, which may indicate another possible line the gnostics could have tried. By then the rise of orthodox Christianity may have had the momentum to prevent any alternative, however. My second thought, or set of thoughts, is that I see little mileage in the discussion over the mythological or real nature of "Jesus". Nazareth may or may not have existed as a town; it may have been little more than a term applied to a region where there were a few farms hardly sufficient to describe as a village. However, there were, I have little doubt, any number of persons in 1st century Palestine called Yeshua Ben Yusuf. Whether any of them was a wandering religious/political activist upon whom future stories could be hung is anyone's guess. Equally, whether those future stories had their origin in Plato and gnosticism is a matter of monumental indifference to the question of whether Christianity can be reformed so as to exclude the idea of a literal person and concentrate on the ethical structures. And that, it seems to me, really is the nub of the issue here. In order to achieve a widely accepted form of atheistic Christianity (and I will assume, for now, that is a desirable concept rather than simply "atheism" or some other terminology) the issue is not going to be one of more or less speculative arguments from a possible past, but of the value of a formulation relevant for the present and future. The discussion is interesting enough in itself but, to many looking for some form of outlook to give their ethical compass some structure, it's liable to seem exhausting at best and impenetrable at worst. The advantage that orthodox Christianity enjoys is simplicity - if anything, too much simplicity, as it only remains so if you don't think about it too hard. It's the inherent pointlessness of the supernaturalist viewpoint, and the inherent worth of ethics that can be formulated on the back of Christianity, that is the issue for you, not whether Christianity arose from some ancient philosophical free-wheeling. That will be a minority interest at most, I would have thought. So, power to your elbow if you wish to try to reformulate Christianity into something non-toxic, but I'm not sure that unprovable reformulations of the distant past are the way to go. Speaking for myself, as neither an atheist nor a Christian, and as someone who found no real alternative to dropping out of the Christian fold altogether, I'm unconvinced that maintaining a link to Christian terminology will be of help - I tend to share Josh's reservations on that. I hope none of that came over as unnecessarily critical or negative.
  3. Nature of reality

    I can't think of any reply more appropriate than... "I know"
  4. Nature of reality

    The problem with the unknown is that we don't know what it is...
  5. Nature of reality

    Though "all is consciousness" (which would be my preferred formulation to "all is mind") is probably not the same thing as minds making their own reality. Seems to me it asserts consciousness as a basic underpinning of existence - but not that I'm only sitting at my computer because I think I am. Maybe that I am only aware that I am sitting at my computer because existence incorporates pure awareness at a basic level. I wonder if there is a need to formulate an idea of subjective reality and to investigate where it links in to objective reality - assuming it is possible to agree a concept of objectivity in the first place. Hmm. Needs further thought.
  6. Nature of reality

    In terms of the general question of whether there are unseen forces behind governments, I tend to subscribe to the cock-up theory rather than the conspiracy theory. I'm not convinced that there is any shadowy power in world politics with the level of knowledge or organisation that would permit a real life x-files. Trump, from where I'm standing, is an aberration of public prejudice rather than a puppet of something even more sinister. In terms of whether there is a greater reality of which we are unaware, I suspect so but have no idea how that can be shown one way or the other. We don't know what we don't know. The discussion on another thread on this board with Joshpantera concerning consciousness is about as far as we can go down that road, as far as I can see. In terms of whether we make our own reality - up to a point. I can make up my mind to enjoy something or be miserable. My relatively colour blind world is probably a tad greyer than Mrs E's. But beyond that? Even assuming a theoretical possibility, how could all those competing psyches create anything personal when every individual is so outnumbered? Unless of course you are a figment of my imagination... And I challenge you to prove to me that you are not
  7. Why do Christians hate the flesh so badly?

    Because denigrating people and reducing them to shame and guilt is a good foundation for exercising control.
  8. I lost my judgment for a number of years. Then I found it again when I left.
  9. Hell corrupts

    Something that always amazed me was the number of overweight - sometimes grossly so - Christians who would rail against sinful excess. Sin is whatever your interpretation of doctrine says it is. Which translates into "sin doesn't exist". And if sin doesn't exist, neither would hell, by all logic,
  10. Who deconverted you?

    The same thought has occurred to me on occasion,
  11. Who deconverted you?

    I also was the agent for my own deconversion. I had some help, however. From Christians who couldn't stop themselves talking unacceptable nonsense.
  12. No. I did my evangelism as a Christian. I' m not going to make that mistake again now that I'm not, regardless of whether it's converting from rather than to.
  13. Sh** christians have said to you

    Hmm. I came across this woman a while back when flicking over channels and landing on TBN UK. She seemed to mask the fact that she was talking shite by dressing up her statements with an air of down-to-earth common sense. If you want people to swallow nonsense, try to sound convincing. Presumably she should, but categorically does not, accept that her god does not speak clearly enough to prevent himself being misheard. Even less that her religion is a web of lies.

    Well done. A step forward; and, with a careful dose of applied snarkyness, you might even habituate your family to it.
  15. Preference for Altars?

    Correct, I don't. Nor am I suggesting that display is greater or less than an altar. I'm just not sure: That it is possible to link the definition of altar purely to intent, as that would suggest there is no such thing as that which is objectively an altar; That it is correct to define a personal area as an "altar" at all. Regarding the first, earlier this year I was standing at the remains of a row of altars at Kamiros - I very much doubt that anyone sees them as other than historical curiosities, but they are still "altars". Regarding the second, I realize that it is a habit in modern paganism, but I wonder if the word is better used to describe something that has wider - public certainly, familial or in some way communal at least - significance. Perhaps the personal altar is better termed a shrine? I have no settled view on this, by the way. Just musing. I might raise the question on a pagan forum and see what responses I get.