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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.
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    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. Ding-dong. Answer door. Caller: Can we talk to you about Jesus?" (or something similar) Me: "Not interested, thanks." Shut door. It only gets ugly if they don't take "no" for an answer.
  2. How to make your kids critical thinkers

    In the end, it is critical thinking that will tend to encourage critical thinking. Unfortunately, that is likely to cause some level of conflict. I've found just the one liner has proved quite effective - like pointing out that it's easy enough for the evangelist to "live by faith" if he shouts loudly enough about how much money he needs.
  3. Not quite, Geezer, old bean. I'm no atheist, know of no-one who takes quite the same viewpoint as me and couldn't care less whether anyone else thinks I'm right, wrong, mad or stupid. In the end, the problem isn't so much one's own beliefs as to deity or otherwise, but the single belief that there is only one right answer with which everyone else must concur.
  4. Bizarre Christian reactions

    Perhaps there was a child or even a tape recording of a child saying what it had been told to say. You might have asked her "You're not a dishonest person are you?"
  5. I guess I asked for it.

    The basic problem, to my mind, is the fear of the believer. Your wife is scared. She is scared for the hereafter, because she has been indoctrinated that a particular mythology is automatically correct. She is scared for the present, because unbelief in the family threatens the social circle in which she has invested. So, her reactions will be defensive and extreme in proportion to her fear. Whether she will ever face that fear and come out the other end, I do not know. If you confront her, probably not. If you leave her, maybe not. If you play it canny, keeping a balance between debunking and supporting (sort of "I don't agree with you but I'm not going to do anything that will endanger your position"), maybe. Quite where that balance lies, only you can judge.
  6. Let this sink in...

    It's hardly surprising.
  7. I recall listening to a speaker in what the Brethren call a "ministry meeting" telling us how we should not worry about global warming because the world would be burned up anyway. I recall other Christians enthusing about how their god made beautiful scenery. Quite how you can appreciate beauty, far less be appreciative of the deity you think made it, if you believe that same god is about to unleash a divine nuclear holocaust escapes me, The most astounding part of this is the sheer arrogance. "I have the right to burn as much oil as I like because I believe it's my divine right, the rest of you are just going to burn with along with the planet anyway and I cannot possibly be wrong" seems a pretty good paraphrase.
  8. The Gifts of the Spirit

    This is utterly bizarre. A christian is trying to discuss the validity or otherwise of charismatic ideas with a bunch of apostates. Try and persuade us that christ is the eternal son of the eternal god - that I could understand. It would be annoyingly predictable behaviour. But airing an internal christian dispute about whether there is a supernatural capacity to gabble in mediaeval French seems... pointless... All it does is highlight that Christians can't make up their minds.
  9. Thoughts About Sin

    Sin is nothing more than an idea aimed at social control and conformity. The breadth of possible interpretations is actually part of its' usefulness. Member of X church do Y because anything else is sin - the belief make them cohesive, and the exclusivity give them a sense of identity which is tribal in nature (with all due respect to tribal societies that have more sense than to belief this nonsense). Each church establishes its' own identity and binds itself together.
  10. The UK government will appear stupid, weak and disorganised. Life will get more expensive. I'll go yet another year without a realistic pay rise.
  11. It's sad to see people return to something that damages them. But not all are damaged. It's sad to see people return to a belief system that demands they hide their overwhelming superiority complex and certainty of their own "rightness" behind hypocritical pseudo-humility. But I have known some (few) whose version of Christianity is not so toxic. So, I suppose it depends on to what it is they return. Ultimately, and coming at this from a particular personal viewpoint, I sincerely wish that fundies, evangelicals and any of whatever faith who believe that only their own groups hold the one true way to approach life should learn to leave aside that belief structure. These are people who insist their beliefs are my concern. Whether they end up following some sort of spirituality having left that belief structure, of whatever name, is a matter for them and of no concern to me - a point on which they would hopefully agree. If they return to their prejudice disguised as spirituality - that is sad.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Nature of reality

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

    The problem with the unknown is that we don't know what it is...