It is funny. In this conversation (which is part two, part one can be found here) I have noticed a theme… which is, the detractors in question will bring up topics of a religious bent, even going as far as quoting Scripture; then, when corrected on the theological or historical/cultural aspects they themselves brought up — they mention why talk religion? They continue that faith is a personal thing that no one will ever agree on.
You see, they expect others to see their viewpoint on the Bible, but then when simple in text explanations (exegesis) are explained — clearly — all of a sudden you are accused of “nitpicking and going through contortions” (that is a quote). So, this second part unlike the first that dealt more with Natural Law and biology deals more with Biblical texts and proofs brought up in conversation. These skeptical positions enumerated herein are held typically by liberal progressive skeptics… which many in the conversation reject politically (that is, liberalism and progressivism). I was disappointing that many of my fellow brethren could make cogent, stat/fact filled arguments incorporating history and reason to refute liberal/progressive positions. But as soon as religion is mentioned, the previously held conservative linear thought is jettisoned for a more emotion-based, feelings styled approach that uses unfounded and unreasonable positions.
Which is why this was written with the idea that it should not be taken as a personal attack as much as a mild correction and clarion call to conservative thought even in looking at religious positions. It is a funny thing that they understand this in conversation between liberals and conservatives, but not between liberal believers and conservative believers.
I will explain with an example recently posted on this same FaceBook group regarding Ronald Reagan’s birthday. In it Chris corrects another for his egregious take on history.
Now, anyone in an emotional conversation knows that typically when people write lists of reasons why they do not believe in a particular ideology — in this case, conservative/Republican fiscal ideals and philosophy — these people will merely produce a new list when the previous one is dealt with point-by-point incorporating history, facts, and reason. You see, said-person being responded to really doesn’t want to change, or listen to reason. They JUST WANT to feel like they have reasons to reject a position. And even thought this rejection is psychologically based, a feeling that one has to have reasons in their rejection runs deep. I give an analogy in my first chapterfrom my book:
…I say “honestly asked” because often times people just ask questions to purposefully deflect their own understanding of the topic. Once you give a reasonably well thought out answer, the dishonest interviewer typically will not inculcate this response and consider changing his or her mind based on the new evidence you just gave them, they typically respond with another question. The problem is not with the topic or evidence that is being discussed, the problem might well be that the person in question just doesn’t want to re-think their position, no matter how much evidence he or she finds or is presented with. Let me explain with an example from the book, Classical Apologetics:
But even a sound epistemic system, flawless deductive reasoning, and impeccable inductive procedure does not guarantee a proper conclusion. Emotional bias or antipathy might block the way to the necessary conclusion of the research. That thinkers may obstinately resist a logical verdict is humorously illustrated by John Warwick Montgomery’s modern parable:
Once upon a time (note the mystical cast) there was a man who thought he was dead. His concerned wife and friends sent him to the friendly neighborhood psychiatrist determined to cure him by convincing him of one fact that contradicted his beliefs that he was dead. The fact that the psychiatrist decided to use was the simple truth that dead men do not bleed. He put his patient to work reading medical texts, observing autopsies, etc. After weeks of effort the patient finally said, “All right, all right! You’ve convinced me. Dead men do not bleed.” Whereupon the psychiatrist stuck him in the arm with a needle, and the blood flowed. The man looked down with a contorted, ashen face and cried, “Good Lord! Dead men bleed after all!”
Emotional prejudice is not limited to dull-witted, the illiterate, and poorly educated. Philosophers and theologians are not exempt from the vested interests and psychological prejudice that distort logical thinking. The question of the existence of God evokes deep emotional and psychological prejudice. People understand that the question of the existence of God is not one that is of neutral consequence. We understand intuitively, if not in terms of its full rational implication, that the existence of an eternal Creator before whom we are ultimately accountable and responsible is a matter that touches the very core of life.
You see, the Christian-theistic worldview does not just offer answers in religious areas and is silent in the political arena, rather, it forces one to confront popular culture, which often times demands political or cultural change. This can cause religious and non-religious persons alike to become very intolerant, especially when the topic combines a person’s religious views and that of currant affairs…
Epistemology – “the branch of philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge and belief and related issues such as justification and truth.” C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2002), 39.
 R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley, Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 69-70.
One comment on the above post by ChrisH was this one by CF:
C.F.’s comment needs to be kept in mind as we look at the skeptical responses to the idea that homosexual behavior is of equal cultural levels as keeping kosher. A “good understanding” of the culture, text, language, and the like, is lacking. These detractors take SUCH STRONG, ABSOLUTE positions on the Biblical texts based on no cultural understanding… and then in the same breath accuse me (or whomever) that we are being waaayyy too legalistic and literal. Their uninformed, prejudicial position strays far away from proper hermeneutics that any ancient text (not just the Bible) deserves. To be clear, this rejection is more in line with liberalism and progressive thinking rather than the deep thinking of conservative ideals that many in this group profess. I would counsel these believers to be CONSISTENT in how they deal with tough subjects. Religious or political.
I will start the conversation with Dennis Prager correcting Obama on his (really, the liberal position) Biblical knowledge. He deals with the same topic that was presented to me by two people, fortuitously AFTER my conversation about the same topic: ShellFish! Now to the conversation.
G.C. starts out the second round of conversation by saying:
I do not get offended by Sean’s words – neither do I take them as Gospel. He is no closer to knowing God’s heart than Satan himself. And I don’t mean that as an insult, but as a simple fact applicable to ALL of us. I will tell you that the Archbishop of Miami, several Monsignors, dozens of priests, including my pastor, are very loving of my partner and I. The Church’s ‘official’ teachings are known by all, but as long as I don’t attempt to ‘marry’ my partner, my sin is no worse than the divorcee who lives with the new lover and doesn’t remarry. In my heart, I KNOW God blesses my union – damn official teachings and damn Sean Giordano (not really, but his argument here – lol). But I do accept that marriage is one man/one woman, NO divorce – what God has joined together let no man tear apart. But I’ll let God judge – I won’t. My own sister is divorced, although she’s never remarried. Again, I don’t get upset because Sean Giordano has a theological viewpoint and verbalizes it without hatred. A lib will insist that HAVING that opinion is in itself hateful and homophobic. And I’m starting to see a lot of conservative gayswithnthesame attitude on sites like GOProud. Pisses me off.
No offense taken. Your point on how a liberal versus how conservatives react is well stated. And I am proud to be in the same camp as you my friend.
There are sins that are worse than others. We will be rewarded for the varying good works we do, and be judged for our sins. God sets up ideals very clearly in His Scripture, not SeanG’s book. And God spoke through His prophets, through the apostles, and through Himself (YHWH, Jesus). Obviously the only sin that counts is denying Christ’s nature and confessing with our mouths our need for salvation through Him.
Again, you mentioned me and the church. Neither of these “institutions” dictate what Scripture has clearly stated. ANd God wants an ideal, and the Christian especially should say:
♛ Divorce is not normative or God’s will;
♛ AND, homosexual relations are not normative or God’s will.
In other words, God hates divorce, and God hates the homosexual act. In other words, the Church (via the Bible) should discourage and not encourage divorce. Likewise, the Church (via the Bible) should discourage and not encourage homosexual behavior.
This does not mean he has withheld grace and forgiveness to the repentant believer. But the repentant believer would not continuously marry, and divorce, and piously say God blesses or condones that action. This has nothing to do with your salvation, nor, does it say that God blesses divorce or same-sex relationships. Take note as well that the original languages help you dissect the truth of Scripture (Matthew 5:32):
The Greek words for “commit” and “commits” come from the root words MOICHEUO and MOIXAO. The first word is in the aorist passive tense meaning that the act of committing adultery is completed and done against the woman. This would suggest that he subsequently has sexual relations with some other woman. This is the message of Matt 19:9; Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18. The second word is in the present middle tense meaning that the woman commits adultery herself by marrying another man. Such divorces are unbiblical divorces.
Conclusion: Divorce was not in God’s original plan. God only allows it because of the hardness of hearts. The effect of this sin is just like any other sin; there are always consequences that are unavoidable. But do not forget that God forgives this sin. He forgave King David who killed and committed adultery. There is no sin God does not forgive. (Source)
Here are the very next words/list out of G.C.’s mouth [keyboard]:
Again, I respond:
Lets stick with your example of shellfish G.C., as E.M. also brought it up. I want to deal with this in a couple of ways. Firstly, the entirety of Leviticus was not written for everyone. There are parts that speak to the Jewish nation of the day (the Hebraic peoples), and other commands that included more than just the Jewish nation. We know this because God says, “Speak to the sons of Israel saying…” He gives instructions to the Israelites, not to the rest of the nations.
✂ *SNIP* ✂
Here is a list of instances when the occurrence of the phrase “Speak to the Sons of Israel saying…” is found in Leviticus, the book under consideration.
Lev. 4:2, atonement for unintentional sins Lev. 7:23, don’t eat fat from ox, sheep, or goat Lev. 7:29, procedures for peace offering to the Lord Lev. 11:2, list of animals the Israelites may eat Lev. 12:2, uncleanness after giving birth Lev. 23:24, rest on 1st day of 7th month Lev. 23:34, Feast of Booths on 15th day of 7th month Lev. 24:15, the one cursing God will bear his sin
So, we can see a host of things that dealt only with Israel.
However, there are abominations that did not apply only to Israel, but to everyone else also. Again, let’s look at Leviticus.
✞Lev. 18:22-30, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. 24 Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; FOR BY ALL THESE THE NATIONS WHICH I AM CASTING OUT BEFORE YOU HAVE BECOME DEFILED 25 ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have visited its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26 But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments, and SHALL NOT DO ANY OF THESE ABOMINATIONS, NEITHER THE NATIVE, NOR THE ALIEN WHO SOJOURNS AMONG YOU 27 (FOR THE MEN OF THE LAND WHO HAVE BEEN BEFORE YOU HAVE DONE ALL THESE ABOMINATIONS, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land may not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has SPEWED OUT THE NATION WHICH HAS BEEN BEFORE YOU. 29 ‘For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. 30 ‘Thus YOU ARE TO KEEP MY CHARGE, THAT YOU DO NOT PRACTICE ANY OF THE ABOMINABLE CUSTOMS WHICH HAVE BEEN PRACTICED BEFORE YOU, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God.’”
What abominations is Lev. 18:22-30 speaking of? Contextually, chapter 17 is about blood atonement procedures, so that is for Israel, not for everyone. In Chapter 18 God says to Israel, “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you,” (Lev. 18:3). So, now instead of it applying only to Israel, God mentions things that are done by Egypt and the land of Canaan. What were the things those nations did? The chapter contains the following.
Lev. 18:6-18, don’t uncover the nakedness of various relatives. Lev. 18:19, don’t have sexual relations with woman on her period Lev. 18:20, don’t have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife Lev. 18:21, don’t offer children to Molech Lev. 18:22, don’t lie with a male as with a female Lev. 18:23 don’t have intercourse with animals.
The next day, as they were traveling and nearing the city, Peter went up to pray on the housetop about noon. Then he became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something, he went into a visionary state. He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat!” “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common and ritually unclean!” Again, a second time, a voice said to him, “What God has made clean, you must not call common.” This happened three times, and then the object was taken up into heaven.
Peter Visits Cornelius
While Peter was deeply perplexed about what the vision he had seen might mean, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions to Simon’s house, stood at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon, who was also named Peter, was lodging there. While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Spirit told him, “Three men are here looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and accompany them with no doubts at all, because I have sent them.” Then Peter went down to the men and said, “Here I am, the one you’re looking for. What is the reason you’re here?” They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.” Peter then invited them in and gave them lodging. The next day he got up and set out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went with him.
The edict against the ethnic/religious Jew (“the sons of Israel”) was lifted in this verse. So contrary to the horrible arguments often made by Skeptics of the Christian faith, You, G.C., should not use the same horrible exegesis that non-believers use. The same can be said regarding arguments for same-sex marriage needing to be made well. (Per Mr. Blatt, whom I agree with on this point — that is, a coherent reasonable case needs to be made for same-sex marriage. A case that isn’t arbitrary, like liberals tend towards.) So to do hermeneutics need to be used well in the Christians life. No matter where it leads you (often times it leads ALL OF US to face our sins and sinful nature, right?).
Here are the very next words/list out of G.C.’s mouth [keyboard]:
You see, G.C. (as well as E.M.) do not want to accept what the Bible says at face value.
They have no need for ways to approach ancient texts to allow personal opinion and deconstructionism (progressive values) to be set aside and create a model for all people to equally and fairly come to these texts to get the most truth from them.
I explain this well in another post where the Bible is attacked and the people doing so are the literalists/legalists, similar to G.C. and Others.
They are the absolutists.
Conservative Christian and Jews are not the Biblical literalists as these skeptics define it (wrongly, creating a straw-man)… even though we are painted as such.
In other words, they incorporate what they deny, while applying straw-man positions to our side, its very convoluted on their part and why progressives typically think these attacks are acceptable.
A final word from Dr. Copan, that also touches a bit on the salvonic history involved in this discussion, that is often overlooked by the skeptics. He makes a point also about the wooden interpretation of the pharisees and has to point out that these topics (divorce, slavery, and the like) are not ideals from God but Him dealing with man’s “hardness of heart.”
… Jesus’s approach reminds us that there’s a multilevel ethic that cautions against a monolithic, single-level ethic that simply “parks” at Deuteronomy 24 and doesn’t consider the redemptive component of this legislation. The certificate of divorce was to protect the wife, who would, by necessity, have to remarry to come under the shelter of a husband to escape poverty and shame. This law took into consideration the well-being of the wife. So when Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, their wooden interpretation made it difficult to see that Moses’s words didn’t represent an absolute ethic. (Keep in mind that God’s commands involving divorce—and even slavery—are given not as ideals, but because of the hardness of human hearts [Matt. 19:81.) These Pharisees approached Scripture in a way that made it virtually impossible for them to see any further, as Jesus pointed out—to see that there was an even greater good of sacrificially serving in the kingdom by forgoing the joys and benefits of marriage (Matt. 19:10-12).
So as we look at many of these Levitical laws, we must appreciate them in their historical context, as God’s temporary provision, but also look at the underlying spirit and movement across the sweep of salvation history. As we do so, we see that the movement of Scripture consistently prohibits homosexual activity (for example), on the one hand. However, the movement of Scripture consistently affirms the full humanity of slaves (e.g., Job 31:13-15), eventually encouraging slaves to pursue their freedom (1 Cor. 7:21). As we noted earlier, slavery wasn’t commanded but permitted (as was divorce) because of the hardness of human hearts. Homosexuality is a different matter. New Testament scholar R. T. France writes that direct references to homosexual activity in Scripture are “uniformly hostile”; homosexual behavior—so common in surrounding cultures (ancient Near Eastern/Greco-Roman)—was “simply alien to the Jewish and Christian ethos.” Note too that acts—rather than mere inclinations/tendencies (whether homosexual or heterosexual)—are judged to be immoral and worthy of censure in Scripture.
So it’s wrongheaded to claim that homosexual acts were “just cultural” or simply “on the same level” as the kosher or clothing laws that God gave to help set Israel apart from its pagan neighbors. Levitical law also prohibits adultery, bestiality, murder, and theft, and surely these go far beyond the temporary prohibitions of eating shrimp or pork!
One last small dialogue from the larger strain. E.M. mentioned the following:
“Jesus never mentions homosexuality in the bible.”
To which I quoted Scripture (not to mention Jesus was heavily involved in writing Leviticus! Just Sayin’). I respond:
You are wrong E.M., Jesus specifically mentions the ideal (Matthew 19:4-6) I have continuously spoken to above.
He answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.” (The Message Bible ~ Red is Jesus)
This organic union is what I speak to in part one.
You can read more about how to approach text in ways any deep-thinking literary critic is trained to as well as the person seeking truth. Obviously G.C.rejects portions of Scripture to embolden his view how he views man’s nature and his own standing before God. He fashions God and His Holy Spirit to fit his conception. Not based on deep study, but of psychological wants and needs. You can click through to my other post. I caution you however, this is a step those interested in truth should take. Those not interested in literary criticism, history, hermeneutics, and the like, shouldn’t take.
These are three books I recommend to the serious student:
While some critics of Christ’s story utilize the story of Osiris to demonstrate that the earliest followers of Christ copied it, these critics rarely acknowledge how we know the story of Osiris at all. The only full account of Osiris’s story is from the second-century Al) Greek writer, Plutarch: “Concerning Isis and Osiris.” The other information is found piecemeal in Egyptian and Greek sources, but a basic outline can be found in the Pyramid Texts (c. 2686-c. 2160 BC). This seems problematic when claiming that a story recorded in the second century influenced the New Testament accounts, which were written in the first century. Two other important aspects to mention are the evolving nature of the Osirian myth and the sexual nature of the worship of Osiris as noted by Plutarch. Notice how just a couple of details from the full story profoundly strain the comparison of Osiris with the life of Christ.
Who was Osiris? He was one of five offspring born of an adulterous affair between two gods—Nut, the sky-goddess, and Geb earth-god. Because of Nut’s transgression, the Sun curses her and will not allow her to give birth on any day in any month. However, the god Thoth also loves Nut. He secures five more days from the Moon to add to the Egyptian calendar specifically for Nut to give birth. While inside his mother’s womb, Osiris falls in love with his sister, Isis. The two have intercourse inside the womb of Nut, and the resultant child is Horus. Nut gives birth to all five offspring: Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, and Nephthys.
Sometime after his birth, Osiris mistakes Nephthys, the wife of hisbrother Set, for his own wife and has intercourse with her. Enraged, Set plots to murder Osiris at a celebration for the gods. During the festivities, Set procures a beautiful, sweet-smelling sarcophagus, promising it as a gift to the attendee whom it might fit. Of course, this is Osiris. Once Osiris lies down in the sarcophagus, Set solders it shut and then heaves it into the Nile. There are at least two versions of Osiris’s fate: (a) he suffocates in the sarcophagus as it floats down the Nile, and (b) he drowns in the sarcophagus after it is thrown into the Nile.
Grief-stricken Isis searches for and eventually recovers Osiris’s corpse. While traveling in a barge down the Nile, Isis conceives a child by copulating with the dead body. Upon returning to Egypt, Isis attempts to conceal the corpse from Set but fails. Still furious, Set dismembers his brother’s carcass into 14 pieces, which he then scatters throughout Egypt. A temple was supposedly erected at each location where a piece of Osiris was found.
Isis retrieves all but one of the pieces, his phallus. The body is mummified with a model made of the missing phallus. In Plutarch’s account of this part of the story, he noted that the Egyptians “presently hold a festival” in honor of this sexual organ. Following magical incantations, Osiris is raised in the netherworld to reign as king of the dead in the land of the dead. In The Riddle of Resurrection: Dying and Rising Gods in the Ancient Near East, T. N. D. Mettinger states: “He both died and rose. But, and this is most important, he rose to continued life in the Netherworld, and the general connotations are that he was a god of the dead.” Mettinger quotes Egyptologist Henri Frankfort:
Osiris, in fact, was not a dying god at all but a dead god. He never returned among the living; he was not liberated from the world of the dead,… on the contrary, Osiris altogether belonged to the world of the dead; it was from there that he bestowed his blessings upon Egypt. He was always depicted as a mummy, a dead king.
This presents a very different picture from the resurrection of Jesus, which was reported as a return to physical life.
Horus’s story is a bit difficult to decipher for two main reasons. Generally, his story lacks the amount of information for other gods, such as Osiris. Also, there are two stories concerning Horus that develop and then merge throughout Egyptian history: Horus the Sun-god, and Horus the child of Isis and Osiris. The major texts for Horus’s story are the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, the Book of the Dead, Plutarch, and Apuleius-all of which reflect the story of Horus as the child of Isis and Osiris. The story is routinely found wherever the story of Osiris is found.
Who was Horus? He was the child of Isis and Osiris. His birth has several explanations as mentioned in Isis and Osiris’s story: (1) the result of the intercourse between Isis and Osiris in Nut’s womb; (2) conceived by Isis’s sexual intercourse with Osiris’s dead body; (3) Isis is impregnated by Osiris after his death and after the loss of his phallus; or (4) Isis is impregnated by a flash of lightning. To protect Horus from his uncle’s rage against his father, Isis hides the child in the Delta swamps. While he is hiding, a scorpion stings him, and Isis returns to find his body lifeless. (In Margaret Murray’s account in The Splendor That Was Egypt, there is no death story here, but simply a poisoned child.) Isis prays to the god Ra to restore her son. Ra sends Thoth, another Egyptian god, to impart magical spells to Isis for the removal of the poison. Thus, Isis restores Horus to life. The lesson for worshippers of Isis is that prayers made to her will protect their children from harm and illness. Notice the outworking of this story is certainly not a hope for resurrection to new life, in which death is vanquished forever as is held by followers of Jesus. Despite this strain on the argument, some still insist that Horus’s scorpion poisoning is akin to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In a variation of Horus’s story, he matures into adulthood at an accelerated rate and sets out to avenge his father’s death. In an epic battle with his uncle Set, Horus loses his left eye, and his uncle suffers the loss of one part of his genitalia. The sacrifice of Horus’s eye, when given as an offering before the mummified Osiris, is what brings Osiris new life in the underworld. Horus’s duties included arranging the burial rites of his dead father, avenging Osiris’s death, offering sacrifice as the Royal Sacrificer, and introducing recently deceased persons to Osiris in the netherworld as depicted in the Hunefer Papyrus (1317-1301 BC). One aspect of Horus’s duties as avenger was to strike down the foes of Osiris. This was ritualized through human sacrifice in the first dynasty, and then, eventually, animal sacrifice by the eighteenth dynasty. In the Book of the Dead we read of Osiris, “Behold this god, great of slaughter, great of fear! He washes in your blood, he bathes in your gore!” So Horus, in the role of Royal Sacrificer, bought his own life from this Osiris by sacrificing the life of other. There is no similarity here to the sacrificial death of Jesus.
There are no substantive accounts of Mithras’s story, but rather a pieced-together story from inscriptions, depictions, and surviving Mithraea (man-made caverns of worship). According to Rodney Stark, professor of social sciences at Baylor University, an immense amount of “nonsense” has been inspired by modern writers seeking to “decode the Mithraic mysteries.”The reality is we know very little about the mystery of Mithras or its doctrines because of the secrecy of the cult initiates. Another problematic aspect is the attempt to trace the Roman military god, Mithras, back to the earlier Persian god, Mithra, and to the even earlier Indo-Iranian god, Mitra. While it is plausible that the latest form of Mithraic worship was based on antecedent Indo-Iranian traditions, the mystery religion that is compared to the story of Christ was a “genuinely new creation?” Currently, some popular authors utilize the Roman god’s story from around the second century along with the Iranian god’s dates of appearance (c. 1500-1400 BC).
This is the sort of poor scholarship employed in popular renditions of Mithras, such as in Zeitgeist: The Movie. For the purpose of summary, we will utilize the basic aspects of the myth as found in Franz Cumont’s writing and note variations, keeping in mind that many Mithraic scholars question Cumont, as well as one another, as to interpretations and aspects of the story. Thus, we will begin with Cumont’s outline.
Who was Mithra? He was born of a “generative rock,” next to a river bank, under the shade of a sacred tree. He emerged holding a dagger in one hand and a torch in the other to illumine the depths from which he came. In one variation of his story, after Mithra’s emergence from the rock, he clothed himself in fig leaves and then began to test his strength by subjugating the previously existent creatures of the world. Mithra’s first activity was to battle the Sun, whom he eventually befriended. His next activity was to battle the first living creature, a bull created by Ormazd (Ahura Mazda). Mithra slew the bull, and from its body, spine, and blood came all useful herbs and plants. The seed of the bull, gathered by the Moon, produced all the useful animals. It is through this first sacrifice of the first bull that beneficent life came into being, including human life. According to some traditions, this slaying took place in a cave, which allegedly explains the cave-like Mithraea.
Mit(h)ra’s name meant “contract” or “compact.” He was known in the Avesta—the Zoroastrian sacred texts—as the god with a hundred ears and a hundred eyes who sees, hears, and knows all. Mit(h)ra upheld agreements and defended truth. He was often invoked in solemn oaths that pledged the fulfillment of contracts and which promised his wrath should a person commit perjury. In the Zoroastrian tradition, Mithra was one of many minor deities (yazatas) created by Ahura Mazda, the supreme deity. He was the being who existed between the good Ahura Mazda and the evil Angra Mainyu—the being who exists between light and darkness and mediates between the two. Though he was considered a lesser deity to Ahura Mazda, he was still the “most potent and most glorious of the yazata.”
The Roman version of this deity (Mithras) identified him with the light and sun. However, the god was not depicted as one with the sun, rather as sitting next to the sun in the communal meal. Again, Mithras was seen as a friend of the sun. This is important to note, as a later Roman inscription (c. AD 376) touted him as “Father of Fathers” and “the Invincible Sun God Mithras.” Mithras was proclaimed as invincible because he never died and because he was completely victorious in all his battles. These aspects made him an attractive god for soldiers of the Roman army, who were his chief followers. Pockets of archaeological evidence from the outermost parts of the Roman Empire reinforce this assumption. Obviously, some problems arise in comparing Mithras to Christ, even at this level of simply comparing stories. Mithras lacks a death and therefore also lacks a resurrection.
Now that we have a more comprehensive view of the stories, it is quite easy to discern the vast difference between the story of Jesus and even the basic story lines of the commonly compared pagan mystery gods. One must only use the very limited, general aspects of the stories to make the accusation of borrowing, while ignoring the numerous aspects having nothing in common with Jesus’ story, such as missing body parts, sibling sexual intercourse inside the womb of a goddess-mother, and being born from a rock. This is why it is important to get the whole story. The supposed similarities are quite flimsy in the fuller context.
(Click to enlarge – above & below) Just three pages from Edwin Yamauchi’s book, Persia and the Bible, These three pages are a bit unrelated… but the topic is on Mithras, and if read, you can see the connection to the above portion by Mary Jo.
Plutarch, “Concerning Isis and Osiris,” in Hellenistic Religions: The Age of Syncretism, ed. Frederick C. Grant (Indianapolis: Liberal Arts Press, 1953), 80-95.
 In some depictions, Nut and Geb are married. Plutarch’s account insinuates that they have committed adultery because of the anger of the Sun at Nut’s transgression.
 Plutarch refers to Thoth as Hermes in “Concerning Isis and Osiris.”
Plutarch’s “Concerning Isis and Osiris” appears to be the only account with this story of Horus’s birth.
This aspect of the story, which was a variation of Horus’s conception story, is depicted in a drawing from the Osiris temple in Dendara.
 Plutarch, “Concerning Isis and Osiris,” 87.
N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection: Dying and Rising Gods in the Ancient Near East (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 2001), 175.
Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature (Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 190, 289; cf. 185; cited in Mettinger, Riddle of Resurrection, 172.
 For the purposes of this chapter, I use the following sources and translations: E. A. Wallis Budge’s translation of the Book of the Dead; Plutarch’s “Concerning Isis and Osiris”; Joseph Campbell’s piecing together of the story in The Mythic Image; as well as other noted interpretations of the story.
The latter two versions of Horus’s birth can be found in Rodney Stark, Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief (New York: Harper Collins, 2007), 204. However, Stark does not reference the source for these birth stories.
The development of Isis’s worship as a protector of children is a result of this instance; Margaret A. Murray, The Splendor That Was Egypt, rev. ed. (Mineola: Dover, 2004), 106.
 Joseph Campbell, The Mythic Image (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974), 29, 450.
Murray, The Splendor That Was Egypt, 103.
Stark, Discovering God, 141.
 Roger Beck, “The Mysteries of Mithras: A New Account of Their Genesis,” Journal of Roman Studies 88 (1998): 123.
 Roger Beck, M. J. Vermaseren, David Ulansey, N. M. Swerdlow, Bruce Lincoln, John R Hinnells, and Reinhold Merkelbach, for example.
 More corecontemporary Mithraic scholars have pointed to the lack of a bull-slaying story in the Iranian version of Mithra’s story: “there is no evidence the Iranian god ever had anything to do with a bull-slaying.” David Ulansey, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 8; see Bruce Lincoln, “Mitra, Mithra, Mithras: Problems of a Multiform Deity,” review of John R. Hinnells, Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies, in History of Religions 17 (1977): 202-3. For an interpretation of the slaying of the bull as a cosmic event, see Luther H. Martin, “Roman Mithrraism and Christianity,” Numen 36 (1989): 8.
 “For the god is clearly and sufficiently defined by his name. `Mitra means ‘con-tract’, as Meillet established long ago and D. [Professor G. Dumezi] knows but keeps forgetting.” Ilya Gershevitch, review of Mitra and Aryaman and The Western Response to Zoroaster, in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 22 (1959): 154. See Paul Thieme, “Remarks on the Avestan Hymn to Mithra,”Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 23 (1960): 273.
Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra: The Origins of Mithraism (1903). Accessed on May 3,2008, http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/mom/index.htm.
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI. 510; H. Dessau, Inscriptions Latinae Selectae II. 1 (1902), No. 4152, as quoted in Grant, Hellenistic Religions, 147. This inscription was found at Rome, dated August 13, AD 376. Notice the late date of this title for Mithras—well after Christianity was firmly established in Rome.
“Liberalism is a religion; its tenets cannot be proved, its capacity for waste and destruction demonstrated. But it affords a feeling of spiritual rectitude at little or no cost. Central to this religion is the assertion that evil does not exist, all conflict being attributed to a lack of understanding between the opposed” ~ David Mamet
A long conversation on FaceBook has ensued — mainly — because of the moral equivalency of this statement:
Muslims are PISSED. But wouldn’t we be if they took our bibles and burned them? Some say there were notes being passed, but even so, why burn them? In the muslim religion, burning a koran is unforgivable. So we can either start a religious war with islam, or we can try to get along. In light of that, NOT apologizing would have been a major mistake, which could then lead to more americans being treated hostally or even killed. Does that make sense? But it seems to me a religious war would be peachy to you. Am i wrong? As though defeat and mutual destruction would be preferable to compromize and acceptance of a different belief. It wouldn’t surprise me ;)
In one of my many responses in the back-and-forth with the above person, I said this:
The Qur'an IS the Symptom
“So the Korans are a symptom, not a cause, a tell-tale warning about a deeper crisis in Afghanistan involving perceptions of weakness and loss of deterrence. The rioters and killers accept a number of unspoken truths — that Muslims in war sometimes themselves desecrate Korans when they blow up mosques or when they write messages on the pages, and that the serial apologies from a variety of American officials, after a while, even to the rioters, send the message of accident and mishap rather than an official policy….. We should have given one single apology from one official one time — and left it at that — combined with stepped-up military operations, showing that we were genuinely remorseful on the one hand, but on the other even more determined to defeat an enemy who would recreate the nightmare of Afghanistan that proved so conducive to al-Qaeda. Somehow counter-insurgency ideology has become antithetical rather than integral to defeating the enemy itself, in the sense that we should have been worried both about winning over the populations and creating such fear in the hearts of the enemy that no one would dare kill an American soldier given our power to take out the enemy.” ~ Victor Davis Hanson
(*Moral Equivalence*) Yes, Bibles are burned [along with actual Christians], women are raped before being put to death [because virgins cannot be killed according to Sharia], converts from Islam to Christianity are killed [by the Muslim courts], they hang people who offend Islam [i.e., really people who are gays, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Christians, etc], they mutilate young girls [cut off their sexual organ], and you [predictably] come to the defense of Afghani backwardness.
All of the comments above [from me and others] are merely stating the idea that this defense of them [by moral equivalence] comes at no surprise via your “education” — (“oh my mistake. Fox news video. my college education has made me too stupid to know the difference”) — nor do you know how to combat evil, as the same can be said for strapping our military down with a PC mindset, showing that many in the State Department and in this current administration do not know how to counter/combat evil — all thanks to their “education.”
Now, I do not agree much with Ron Paul on foreign issues… but… I do not think we have any business being over there [Paul’s position] if we do not devastate the culture [Jowitt’s position — video further down post] like we did in WWII.
And no, to answer your original idea… burning a Bible does not incite hatred like we see in the Muslim world. but moral equivalency where there is none is another “educated” goal of the UC system. Writing in a Qur’an is also unforgivable. Our goal is not to adopt their insane cultural cult, but to change it. Other wise you want and support: burning and hanging people of other faiths and who are gay, complete subjugation of women and the mutilating of them, raping women, etc.
So the main point remains, and the below make them more apparent to those who are not aware of the “religious wars” of the past — interspersed with some commentary from the talking heads of course.
Apologies for burning Bibles? What about for burning Christians? Jews? Hindus? Zoroastrians? Sun Worshipers?
While Muslims riot in Afghanistan, murdering soldiers over the accidental burning of Korans – Korans which had been used by terrorists to transmit Islamist messages – it turns out that the U.S. military has routinely burned Bibles in Afghanistan to be more sensitive to Muslims.
As CNN reported back in 2009:
Military personnel threw away, and ultimately burned, confiscated Bibles that were printed in the two most common Afghan languages amid concern they would be used to try to convert Afghans, a Defense Department spokesman said Tuesday. The unsolicited Bibles sent by a church in the United States were confiscated about a year ago at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan because military rules forbid troops of any religion from proselytizing while deployed there, Lt. Col. Mark Wright said.
So why is it that the United States burns Bibles to cater to Muslims in Afghanistan, but when it burns Korans, we’re supposed to think that we’re insensitive numbskulls? Weren’t we fighting for freedom of religion and speech in Afghanistan? Apparently not. We were just fighting to establish shariah law in our own, special way, according to the Obama Administration.
Converting Muslims would only bring women’s rights and free-market dreams to the Afghans… evolving them into the 21st century. What a horrible concept. Some believe in the general wisdom behind Ann Coulter’s statement: “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”
What I can tell you is that if we are fighting a PC war and not allowing our generals to ask for a thousand missionaries to go into the country while under military control (like General MacArthur we did with japan, the most feudalistic nation known to man). In fact, one of my professors at seminary was one of the first missionaries in per the request of the United States Government, and the co-founder of the first school of theology in Japan.What was the reasoning behind such a decision? Professor Jowitt explains:
Amerisrael’s blog comments on the contradistinction of today’s situation (politically correct war) and that of WWII:
About two years ago U.S. military authorities in Afghanistan bowed the knee in appeasement, confiscated Bibles from a soldier, and had them burned. An action that no doubt would have infuriated the late General Douglas MacArthur. The confiscation of the Bibles and their subsequent “burning” was the U.S. military’s response to a report by Al-jazeera in regards to a U.S. soldier’s Bibles in the native Afghan language. This was made all the more repugnant in light of the U.S. military’s top General Petreaus warning against the “burning” of the Koran in a protest by an independent fringe church in Florida.
The Bibles were in the native Afghan language and were sent by a church to the soldier. Naturally there were complaints from Islamists. But hey, its the “new” Afghanistan, they now have true democratic values such as freedom of speech, religion, and expression. Right? Some have asserted that the U.S. military had no choice because U.S. troops are “invited guests” and must grovel in appeasement on such matters accordingly.
Our U.S. troops are in Afghanistan because this country was attacked on 9/11 and the ruling Afghan government, the Taliban, was giving sanctuary to Bin Laden and those responsible. No Bibles in the native Afghan tongue would ever have been confiscated and “burned”,
— no, not if MacArthur were the General in command.
Soon after the surrender of Japan was accomplished and the U.S. occupation commenced, MacArthur reached out to U.S. churches and Bible publishing companies for assistance. He requested thousands of Christian missionaries and millions of Bibles for Japan. An excerpt from this article explains why:
“After Japan surrendered in 1945, General Douglas MacArthur became Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in charge of rebuilding the Japanese government.”
“To a visiting group of evangelicals, MacArthur said: ‘Japan is a spiritual vacuum. If you do not fill it with Christianity, it will be filled with Communism. Send me 1,000 missionaries.’ He asked U.S. missionary societies to send ‘Bibles, Bibles and more Bibles.’
“Can you imagine a U.S. president or American general asking for missionaries as a part of our foreign aid program?”
“MacArthur knew that a spiritual vacuum resides inside of every person.”
“Without Christ, a life will be filled with something else. That something else can be very destructive and cruel, as the world experienced in the struggle against Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.”
“We’re seeing the same kind of cruelty today in the terrorism of Islamic fascism.”
Unfortunately those in the higher-ups in our own U.S. government and military today do not seem to grasp the truth of what MacArthur knew. We want to win “hearts and minds”, right? So they won’t become jihadists and attack us, right? Money won’t do that. The U.S. occupation authorities in Japan led by General MacArthur understood the link between Shintoism and the aggressive Japanese militarism responsible for the war in the Pacific. Accordingly, the new constitution of Japan forbid “state supported Shintoism” and mandated true freedom of religion, speech, etc.
In Afghanistan, our own U.S. government and military authorities stood by and allowed Islamists to write the new constitution, based on Islamic shariah law. And making Islam the official state supported religion.
The Situation is so bad in fact, it has Chris Matthew agreeing with us! But all this “care and concern” of soldiers from the left is all pomp and circumstance, i.e., political opportunism to express “religious liberalism,” as Gateway Punditpoints out:
Now the Obama Administration is planning on cutting healthcare benefits for active duty soldiers while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The Free Beacon reported:
The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.
Many in Congress are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place.
“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”
In other words, the president continues to siphon off more and more money from our defense infrastructure — hitting our warriors first, last and hardest in the process — to fund his green energy scams and public sector union cronies (which, coincidentally, also contribute heavily to his campaign).
Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio (http://www.piratechristianradio.com/) discusses quickley a new book by author, Peter Enns, entitled, The Evolution of Adam. As is the problem with postmodernity and the liberal viewpoint of revelation and the Bible, eisegesis is practiced rather than exegesis.
Before beginning this import from my old blog, let me say, the video I am updating this with is EXCELLENT! Not only can some creatures not known by modern man existed in the past (as my post shows), but the most plausible explanation is a change in definitions over the past couple hundred years. Good stuff Maynard.
This is a favorite of atheists, that is, to say that believing in God is just like believing in unicorns. The story use to be: believing in God is like believing in Santa Clause. But this analogy didn’t work to the atheists advantage… so they changed the story line.
However, this is not what the Christian is stating, and the analogy about Santa Clause will illustrate (which is why they changed the story line). First though, let me read from 1 Corinthians 15:14-17:
(14) And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (15) More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. (16) For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. (17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
Paul here is saying that this person Jesus is a historical being, and that his resurrection happened in history. Even the most ardent skeptic knows that Jesus existed in actual history, whereas we can say most probably — I will discuss this at the end — that unicorns do not exist. So the unicorn analogy is already falling apart. Which brings me to Jolly Old St. Nick.
Let us start with my favorite St. Nicholas who is said to have been from Asia Minor in what is now Turkey. He was a monk who rose to become the Bishop of Myra in the 4th century. Known for his generosity and compassion he worked to improve the lot of his fellow man. Stories and legends abound on the various things he is said to have done in helping the poor ranging from secret donations placed in shoes or stockings of the needy to protecting sailors at sea. He was imprisoned for ten years by the Romans as this was still a time of Christian persecution and was only released by the Emperor Constantine who was to later become Christian. He died Dec. 6th and that day is celebrated as St. Nicholas’s Day in much of Europe. His popularity only continued to grow following his death so that by the Middle Ages there were several thousand churches bearing his name.
This is closer to the analogy that we are looking for. Jesus REALLY existed; a monk named Nicholas REALLY existed. Horses REALLY exist.
There may be other discussions more valid here regarding whom Jesus of Nazareth was, but at least we need to realize that the unicorn analogy just doesn’t work. This puts mankind’s historic search for answers in a light not becoming of a persons intellect.
We are not applying Big-Bang cosmology and the beginning of the universe, the laws of causality, thermodynamics, the weak and strong nuclear forces (etc.) to a unicorn – which, if a historical mammal, would be within the space/time continuum… and thus subject to the laws of nature – but rather, we need a being that is the source or explanation for these historical events. We are looking to larger explanations as well as God’s actual dealing with events of history.
So the unicorn analogy would look more like this in the theistic sense of the explanation.
A friend said he met someone who said they saw a unicorn… in fact, he saw a family of them. They left the scene but there were many other people who saw it as well. In fact they wrote about it. Also discovered were hoof prints and a few shed horns. In fact, the government has tried to cover up this fact and started killing the eyewitnesses. They kill them because even under the most extreme torture conditions they are not recanting their stories. And we all know that if there were a group of people (say, 511 people) that would make up such a story that under torture conditions one of them would admit to lying. Because it is logical to think that people would die for a lie thinking it was true, but they wouldn’t die for a lie knowing it was a lie they fabricated. One bloke was tortured and then crucified on an upside down – broken – cross (Peter). Surely he would have recanted and settled this whole thing for the Roman Empire if he were knowingly lying.
This analogy is a bit closer to what is claimed in Scripture. Mind you the analogy is still a bit flawed, but at least the story line is closer to the truth of the HISTORICAL line of thinking. I will post this and a few other “pros” on my site for those who wish to actually study the issue instead of merely being critical of it. I am confident the evidence leads to God in general, and to Jesus specifically.
Below is just an historical example of this debate from the Grecian days. It is still relevant to this day, and a mammal that is subject to nature itself (like a unicorn) just doesn’t cut it in regards to explanatory power.
Plato wrote, “Some people, I believe, account for all things which have come to exist, all things which are coming into existence now, and all things which will do so in the future, by attributing them either to nature, … or chance.” Epicurean materialism was taught in the Stoic school founded by Zeno in 308 B.C.. And if there is a positive writing, there must be a negative one it is commenting on, for instance:
“When you see a sundial or a water-clock, you see that it tells time by design and not by chance. How then can you imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence when it embraces everything, including these artifacts themselves and their artificers? Our friend Posidonius as you know has recently made a globe which in its revolution shows the movements of the sun and stars and planets, by day and night, just as they appear in the sky. Now if someone were to take this globe and show it to the people of Britain or Scythia [barbarians at this time] would a single one of those barbarians fail to see that it was the product of a conscious intelligence.” (Cicero, 106 B.C.–43 B.C.)
I hope one can see that the question of how we got here and us asking “what our purpose is in this existence we call life” is beyond a simple unicorn analogy. Not only that, but whomever makes the unicorn analogy should realize how un-educated this challenge really is.
Now to change the story a bit… I said that at this time we can say that unicorns do not exist, but history does hint at such a creature, since written records have been kept in fact. So it would be interesting to see if we can add a fossil find to the drawings and descriptions found through the historical record for creatures that are similar to the horse/ass that have a horn. Let’s just say the jury is still out.
Scottish Royal Arms
King James VI of Scotland succeeded Elizabeth I when she died childless in 1603, effectively uniting Scotland and England beneath one rule. The Scottish Royal Arms had, up to that point, used two unicorns as shield supporters. The English Arms had used a variety of supporters, but most frequently had included a lion. In a tactful gesture then, he placed a lion upon the left of the new Arms, and a unicorn upon the right. This was a potent bit of symbolism, for both the lion and the unicorn had long been thought to be deadly enemies: both regarded as king of the beasts, the unicorn rules through harmony while the lion rules through might, It came to symbolise a reconciliation between the Scottish unicorn and the English lion that the two should share the rule.
In 416BC, the physician Ctesias set out from his native town of Cnidus to attend the Persian King Darius II. There he stayed for eighteen years, and learned of many wonderful things during his time at court. Upon returning to Cnidus, he wote a book of his experiences which he called the Indica. In it is the earliest surviving written account of a Unicorn:
“There are in India certain wild asses which are as large as horses, and larger. Their bodies are white, their heads are dark red, and their eyes dark blue. They have a horn on the forehead which is about eighteen inches in length. The dust filed from this horn is administered in a potion as a protection against deadly drugs.”
The great philospher Aristotle, whose words were taken so seriously that they were widely held as gospel truth a thousand years later, could have destroyed the infant legend with a sentence, whatever the truth of the matter. However, he confirms its existence by a passing comment, which, though flawed in content, proved that this great man of learning clearly believed there was such a creature.
“We have never seen an animal with a solid hoof and two horns, and there are only a few that have a solid hoof and one horn, as the Indian Ass and the Oryx.”
The “Indian Ass” is none other than Ctesias’ Unicorn. Pliny the Elder, in the first century AD, mentions Unicorns, saying of them that there is:
“…An exceedingly wild beast called the Monoceros, which has a stag’s head, elephant’s feet, and a boar’s tail, the rest of its body being like that of a horse. It makes a deep lowing noise, and one black horn two cubits long projects from the middle of its forehead. This animal, they say, cannot be taken alive.”
There are some indications here that he was confusing the creature with a rhinoceros, a creature known to his race but often confused because the rhino was a known animal and the Unicorn was not! It never crossed the minds of many scholars that they might be talking of one and the same creature!
The same mistake has been attributed to the Roman scholar Aelian, who lived some five hundred years after Aristotle. He wrote a book about animals that mentioned the Unicorn quite frequently. In one passage he states:
“I have found that wild asses as large as horses are to be found in India. The body of this animal is white, except on the head, which is red, while the eyes are azure. It has a horn on the brow, about one cubit and a half in length, which is white at the base, crimson at the top, and black between. These variegated horns are used as drinking cups by the Indians. …It is said that whosoever drinks from this kind of horn is safe from all incurable diseases such as convulsions and the so-called holy disease, and that he cannot be killed by poison.”
Elsewhere he says,
“They say that there are mountains in the interior regions of India which are inaccessible to men and therefore full of wild beasts. Among these is the Unicorn, which they call the kartajan [Sanscrit: Lord of the desert]. This animal is as large as a full-grown horse, and it has a mane, tawny hair, feet like those of an elephant, and the tail of a goat. It is exceedingly swift of foot. Between its brows there stands a single black horn tapering to a very sharp point. Where other animals approach it it is gentle, but it fights with those of its own kind. It seeks out the most deserted places and wanders there alone.”
Other notable Greeks and Romans have noted the unicorn: Julius Caesar for example, who said they could be found in the Hercynian Forest. However, for all the weight these mighty scholars and writers wielded in the literary world, the Unicorn was not well known among the ordinary people. It was yet a beast of books and libraries, and there it might have dwindled into obscurity and never been known to us….
….The unicorn had actually long been a Royal Beast associated with kings and rulers.
Aelian had said that only great men could own the cups made from his horn, and Philostatus had stated that only the kings of India might hunt them. The Physiologus mentions that the captive unicorn is taken before the King, and the Chinese Ki-lin has always been associated with Emperors. The Bible (Daniel chapter 8) relates the following vision:
“And behold, a he-goat came from the West on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.”
The goat in question is later interpreted as “the king of Grecia”, Alexander the Great, and it is also interesting to note that Alexander was once gifted with a unicorn by Queen Candace as tribute. We know that Caesar also wrote of unicorns. Ghengis Khan, about to invade India, saw a unicorn and took it as an omen that India was not to be his. He turned back immediately….
Very rarely do you find someone who is an honest enough skeptic that after watching the above 3 short videos asks questions like: “Okay, since my suggestion was obviously false, what would be the driving presuppositions/biases behind such a production?” “What are my driving biases/presuppositions that caused me to grab onto such false positions?” You see, few people take the time and do the hard work to compare and contrast ideas and facts. A good example of this is taken from years of discussing various topics with persons of opposing views, I often ask if they have taken the time to “compare and contrast.” Here is my example:
I own and have watched (some of the below are shown in high-school classes):
• Bowling for Columbine • Roger and Me • Fahrenheit 9/11 • Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price • Sicko • An Inconvenient Truth • Loose Change • Zeitgeist • Religulouse • The God Who Wasn’t There • Super-Size Me
But rarely [really never] do I meet someone of the opposite persuasion from me that have watched any of the following (I own and have watched):
• Celsius41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain Dies • FahrenHYPE 9/11 • Michael & Me • Michael Moore Hates America • Bullshit! Fifth Season… Read More (where they tear apart the Wal-Mart documentary) • Indoctrinate U • Mine Your Own Business • Screw Loose Change • 3-part response to Zeitgeist • Fat-Head • Privileged Planet • Unlocking the Mystery of Life
Continuing. Another point often overlooked is the impact the person who suggests the believer watch Zeitgeist thinks it will have.
Now that Zeitgeist has been shown to be very unsound and the history distorted, does the skeptic apply the same intended impact back upon him or herself? In other words, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Remember, the skeptic expects the Christian to watch this and come face-to-face with truth that undermines his or her’s faith, showing that they have a faith founded on something other than what they previously thought, an untruth. However, this intended outcome backfires and crumbles. The skeptic then has a duty [yes a duty] to apply intended impact onto one’s own biases and presuppositions and start to impose their own skepticism inward.
My email is email@example.com for the true seeker to ask follow-up questions or inquire about like issues.
S. P. Giordano, M.A.T.S.
“The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.” (Mark Twain)
Author of: Religio-Politcal Talk [http://r-pt.net/];
and the book, Worldviews: A Click Away from Binary Collisions (Religio-Political Apologetics) [http://tinyurl.com/3pck3pl]
I love to go to Starbucks, grab a cup of coffee, and read/study my favorite topics in book form. Once and a while I will bump into people well known in pop-culture. Michael Berryman was recently one of those people. Of course, he is best known to me from an 80’s classic, Weird Science. But he has been in many others, as his bio shows, another being a favorite of mine, The One Who Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Mistaking him for an officer that served in the SCV that looks — believe it or not — very similar, my mistake was quickly corrected and small chit-chat began. Michael is an amiable enough guy and I had planned on letting him go on his way after he very nicely allowed a photo to be taken. However, during this small talk that was very general, Michael mentioned news, and then interjected into his own point that one shouldn’t watch Fox News because it is not news, far from fair and balanced, he said.
Well, this is where the brakes on the rest of my plans happened. Wanting to engage the level of this man’s reasoning towards truth vs. merely spewing bumper-sticker thinking as fact [ad hoc] became the goal for the rest of my scheduled reading time. (This led to a 40-minute conversation.) After Michael drove deeper into the political abyss of commentary common from the Left, I slowed the conversation down a bit by mentioning he had touched on many topics in just a few sentences. …(con’t)…
(A tactic seemingly used by those who wish to just be “right.” They obfuscate the issue by interjecting many topics and points in the hope — apparently — of showing the person listening they have a handle on this topic. Granted, many do not realize they are doing this… they have just never had anyone around them that disagree with them. They live in sound rooms surrounded by only those who think like them.)
Before continuing with the encounter, due to the length of the post I feel the nee to update it with a “contents” section as well as headings. This will make it easier for the “topical” reader to find a response to a challenge he or she is interested in. So the following contents are based on responding to comments made during conversation:
Enjoy the conversation, I did.
1. Fox News Is Biased
…(from con’t)… I mentioned to Michael that “just a short while back he mentioned something that needed revisiting to exemplify a correlation between what many people say is true in general conversation compared to what is actually the case.” So bringing him back to the Fox News statement I asked if three reasons could be offered as to why maybe his statement might be wrong.
The first reason I gave was that “during the 2010 election Fox News had NPR, The Baltimore Sun, The Times, U.S. News and World Report, and Politico, all said [in some form or fashion] the coverage by Fox was the best in breadth (most in-depth guests) and most fair in their political stance (equal number of liberal/conservative guests, interviews and opinions). Whereas they all bemoaned MSNBC for their far-left commentary and CNN for their lack of depth.”
The second reason given was that “according to a Pew Research poll, and separately a university poll, found that between the party splits of Democrat, Republican, and Independents, there is about an equal mix of viewers of Fox. Whereas — in Contradistinction to MSNBC and CNN — there is a much larger demographic of Democrats versus Republicans that watch those channels.” Pointing out that more Democrats watch Fox than watch CNN or MSNBC (and that stat may even be combined[?]) segwayed nicely to exemplify that “if someone is saying that Fox news is not News or unfair, they may be out of the mainstream… since the stats show a much more balanced viewing audience.” This fair mix of people from differing political views is what has made Fox (posted in March of this year) the most-watched news channel in total viewers for both Total Day and Primetime for the 110th straight month.
Before making my third reason known, Michael interjected and started to again make multiple points which included anecdotal stories which surely he thought would prove his position. But they were just non-sequitur stories from his past… emotionally laden. Interjecting politely I steered him back to the topic and to my third point, which was Fox’s reporting on the 2008 election. “Fox News offered a fair mix of positive/negative stories on Obama and McCain when they reported on the two candidates than MSNBC or CNN.” Continuing I mentioned “that George Mason University’s (during the conversation I merely mentioned “a university,” here I am including the actual studies or some referring links) non-partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs concurred as well as another media watch org, The Project for Excellence in Journalism.” Not letting up I pointed out that maybe, just maybe what he was saying did not fit with the facts. This is a hard thing to admit — pride gets in the way.
2. I Like Ron Paul
Then came more anecdotal tales, many of which were personal references to his meeting famous people or his mother meeting famous people. All stories that only he has access to, nothing offered by Michael could be taken and used by another party to make an informed decision from these facts that lay outside him and myself — like the information given in the Fox News discussion. He asked me if I liked Ron Paul. Reservedly I responded that Ron Paul had some positions I liked, others I did not. He responded to this by merely stating that he liked him. A short while later in his ramblings he intimated that he hated Ronald Reagan. Which brought us back to his previous statement about Ron Paul. “Mentioning that I hear a lot of people from the left say they like Ron Paul without actually knowing what Ron Paul stands for,” continuing, “Much like Reagan, Ron Paul would like to shut down many Federal Departments, like the Dept. of Education, of Agriculture, the EPA, and the like.” Granted, I already knew this is something Michael would not agree with, and he didn’t. My implicit point had been made, there was a disconnect between something said (in this case the liking of a particular candidate) and said facts easily known (in this case, many of Ron Paul’s positions). Of course the conversation steered towards drugs, most conversations about Ron Paul do. I mentioned I was for the legalization of marijuana if there were someway, much like with alcohol, for law enforcement to tell if someone is under the influence of the drug. But Ron Paul would legalize (or at the least stop Federal enforcement of) heroine, speed, and the like. Later in the conversation Michael challenged my libertarian side by asking derisively if I would want to get rid of the national parks. I said no, but I pointed out that Ron Paul would… another thing he wasn’t aware of in regards to Ron Paul.
3. Reagan Caused the Homeless Problem
Mentioning Reagan again as being one of the most evil men in his life time caused me to inquire why he thought this. He started to intimate why, but then stopped himself and asked if I knew what he was going to reference. I did. “Are you going to mention the insane asylums,” I said. Knowing this is a popular mantra of the Left in regards to Reagan which proved correct. He asked me what i thought of this situation to which I responded that the movement to release these “mentally ill” persons was not Reagan’s alone, that the Democratic Left was very much involved. Michael merely dismissed this position out of hand, almost laughing as he did. (An aside should be noted. The left thinks this event happened nation wide, however, this happened when Reagan was governor of California.) An interesting conversation on Snopes forums can help the reader, as well as myself, gain information so a well informed response to an emotional position. You can trust me when I say Michael was very animated in expressing his disgust of Reagan. Here are some of the conversations from the older Snopes forum:
Snopes started the conversation off:
(Snopes Posted) For over three decades I’ve been hearing people say “those crazy people are out here walking the streets in California because Ronald Reagan removed them from State institutions.” Ronald Reagan was last California Governor in 1972. AS I recall, it’s the legislature that passes laws and then the Governor signs the law. Did that happen with the California ‘crazy people?’
Since 1972 there have been several times when the governor, the state senate and the state legislature were all controlled by the Democratic Party. Why didn’t they change the law and house the ‘crazy people?’ It’s very likely if the ‘crazy people’ were de-institutionalized during the Reagan governorship that the legislature was controlled by the Democratic Party. What’s the truth and what’s the lie? Who introduced this bill, if there ever was one that de-institutionalized ‘crazy people’, how did the vote go down, and what was Reagan’s role?
Following are some thoughtful responses:
Advocatus Diaboli posted:
I think I can successfully field this one. My father has worked for Agnews Developmental Center going on 4 decades. Having retired twice and begged to come back each time working first as a Nursing Coordinator and later on Health and Safety officer. I also have worked there in the offices as part of the youth work program.
Quite simply mental health and developmental professionals want the State/ State of California out of the business of caring for “crazy people” So acting on there recommendations that’s what the government gave them. Overall it’s probably better in most cases. A great number of these people are not “crazy” they are developmentally disabled a crucial distinction in my opinion.
I know of one girl whom I was very fond of and who loved it when I visited her that was placed in a community home and was better for it. She was not “out on the street” and some institutions still operate at some capacity for those who can not be placed, and hopefully they always will.
Politics has little to do with this at all.
G.I. Joe posted:
My wife worked for the chief of the psychiatric department at the Brentwood VA in California during the early 80s. From the mid-70s to mid-80s there was a strong ‘patients rights’ movement generated by the mental health advocate community. Although there were many facets to this movement, one of the primary elements was a re-examination of the criteria for institutionalizing patients.
The point of contention revolved around interpretations of what it meant for a patient to be able to ‘take care of himself.’ Prior to this the interpretation was rather strict; if a patient could not earn an income and provide shelter and food for himself (and if there were no family members able to care for him), then he would normally be institutionalized.
Beginning in the late 70s, the advocacy groups began to demand a lower standard. As long as a patient could merely wash and dress himself, and could perform the mechanical tasks of shoveling food into his mouth, then every effort was made to force the institutions to release them. My wife’s boss spent many months both in court and testifying before the state assembly trying to stop this lowering of standards. Unsuccessfully.
Predictably, most of the newly discharged patients were unable to take care of themselves in any meaningful sense of the word, and became the homeless people on the street. It’s no coincidence that the decline in California’s mental health institution population closely matched the sharp increase of homeless (in California, at least) during the same period. In fact, for about two years, my wife literally was on a first name basis with every homeless person we ran across in the Westwood/Santa Monica area. They were all former patients who had been ‘sprung’ from the VA by well meaning advocate groups who then simply walked away and left these guys hanging.
Reagan was not involved in this movement, nor was he a symptom or symbolic of it. Quite the contrary. The people who ‘liberated’ the inmates tended to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum. In fact, it was the ACLU who provided legal representation to force the VA to release these patients.
G.I. Joe responded to a previous comment:
Originally posted by Jason Threadslayer:
Also, since the 1960s and 1970s, it is generally illegal to forcibly treat the mentally ill.
Yeah, there are many provisions intended to protect both the patients and the doctors, but it makes the system very complicated. For instance, in order to involuntarily medicate an institutionalized psychiatric patient it requires a ‘Riese Hearing’ (in California), which is administrated by the court system. The patient gets a deputy public defender to represent him and the whole nine yards. So . . . it is not unusual that a patient has been institutionalized against his will as a result of a court order, but at the same time he can win court authority to refuse treatment (at least treatment via psychotropic medication).
It’s a complicated issue and determining right and wrong and what is best for the patient is not at all easy.
“Life is complicated. So you have to look out for the less complicated things.” ~ from some of the last words of a young man’s grandfather [thank you for sharing his final thoughts].
So we see that this issue, as encapsulated by the Left, is wrong. It is a straw-man, in other words, they define their proposition as a historical fact (wrongly), and then tear it down. The only problem is that they present an unhistorical case and feel like they are justified in their hatred for Reagan by making a fool out of themselves. The ACLU was the main catalyst behind fighting for the rights of these people to be free, even the freedom to live in alleyways and eat from trash cans. Anything but a conservative or Republican institution, they were one of the main thrusts behind both California and later a nationwide release of patients. They [the ACLU], have long heldthat involuntary institutionalization of an unwilling person, even if mentally or physically incapable, is the worst of two evils. Not to mention that many times since the 1970’s Democrats have controlled both houses and the governorship of California, the questions has been raised, why didn’t the Democrats re-institutionalize these people?
A question I suspect is entwined in the complexity of how these people were actually released, versus merely a politician waving his or her wand. in other words the Democrats hands were just as tied (actually more-so) as the Republicans hands because the genesis of the movement for patient rights was not political. Not to mention that this myth serves Democrats and Liberals well… they wouldn’t want to change this “silver bullet,” or what they wrongly presume is one.
4. Sarah Palin Kills…. Wolves
Before entering the odd conspiratorial and religious parts of the conversation, we should end the political aspect of this portion of the conversation with his hatred for Sarah Palin. The reason for this disdain, he said, is because he is an environmentalist and that “she shot 17 wolves.” Included in his reasoning was her policy on the matter of Alaska offering a bounty to cull the wolf population. His vitriol is very similar to this:
The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to he taken and plundered… Sarah Pal in does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill forty caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air… If the polar bears don’t move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected, then consider” Palin’s support for oil drilling. “I think of teeth when I think of drills,” the author continued. “I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.” (Taken from The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star)
Again, Michael’s animated hatred was present when he talked of her, similar to when speaking of Reagan. Part of this is that the hunters were payed $150 bounty on the wolves. Partially true. For instance, this is implicitly referenced in a Slate article on the topic:
Back in the 1950s, Alaska paid government employees and bounty hunters to take out thousands of wolves, but today’s aerial wolf killers are unpaid. (They can make some money by selling the wolf pelts.) Palin tried last year to have the state pay $150 for every wolf killed, but the state superior courtshot that down as an illegal use of bounty payments, which were outlawed in that state in 1984.
Take note also that the cost of helicopter hunting of wolves is very expensive, so this form of hunting (shooting from the chopper) was/is rare. Hunters typically drive in and-or hike to the hunting area. Some can afford to be helicoptered into and dropped off in an area. But the story of mass wolf shootings by helicopter is just a myth. Also note that I couldn’t find anywhere a number given for Sarah Palin hunting of wolves. In fact, if she did kill a wolf in a hunting trip, I cannot even find that. That being said, the Lefts opening up of Sarah Palin’s emails backfired in every account, even this wolf myth. The left like to say she “championed aerial hunting,” however, this is not the case. For instance, here is one email on the above topic from Sarah Palin… Stuff:
The governor told her fish and game commissioner in blunt terms that she opposed using state helicopters to hunt wolves and preferred paying private hunters.
“We have to act quickly on this as predators are acting quickly and rural families face ridiculous situation of being forced to import more beef instead of feeding their families our healthy staple of Alaskan game. Nonsense. Unacceptable – and not on my watch,” she said.
Her source of information? “Todd interviewed buddies who live out there… Some confirmation that state intervention isn’t first choice w/the locals,” Palin said.”We need to incentivize here,” including providing money for trappers.
Again, the narrative received from Michael just did not stand up to the facts.
5. New World Order
Alright, let’s switch gears a bit and enter into Michael’s views on the New World Order (NWO) conspiracies, black helicopters (yes, he believes one was getting ready to come grab him, as you will see), and religion. In our previous conversation about reasons for disliking Ron Paul it was mentioned by myself that Ron Paul had some conspiratorial views, like the New World Order. He retorted that the NWO is a fact, and he knows a server at the Bilderbergers compound, therefore, he [Michael] knows the truth… end of story. Sharing with him a bit about my previously held beliefs and my affinity to such theories even going as far as involving myself with the John Birch Society in the mid to late 90’s. Continuing, I explained three “events” that caused me to question these beliefs and spurred me to really investigate these claims, references, and quotes so often used with these theories.
My eventual shift in thinking were spurred by an article in the New American article (the magazine of the John Birch Society) blaming the Oklahoma bombing on the U.S. Government; the failure of predictions made about Y2K from many I listened to; and listening to radio talk show host Michael Medved’s “Conspiracy Show” where for one day each month he takes calls only from those who believe in conspiracies. These three things caused me to compare and contrast the positions previously accepted as fact. After a couple of years of wrestling with position after position, I eventually gave up my thinking on the NWO and embraced true history.
6. Black Helicopters and FEMA Gulags
This talk led to Michael positing that gulags exist in America. How did he prove this to me? By an anecdotal story of course. He told me a story where he called some representatives/senators about why it is important to control the border. He says he talked to someone from Diane Feinstein’s office. After a fruitless conversation with someone from her office he said he ended the conversation with a retort that he didn’t mean, but that nonetheless caused a call from a local Sheriff to where he lived within minutes of ending his call with Diane Feinstein’s office. Being that this Sheriff was a fellow Freemason (more on this later), he told Michael to hold on after hearing his explanation. When this Sheriff got back on the line with him he said the pick up was called off. Michael said he inquired with his fellow Mason what he meant, to which he was told that a black helicopter was dispatched from Langley to come get him and take him to a gulag, but was now called off. Granted portions of this story may be true, like when the person from Feinstein’s office called him a racist for wanting to control the border, but I think he added much to it. This happens with many a person, they tell a story and twist the truth here and there, however, with some this form of embellishment becomes habitual. I could see that Michael lived a life unchecked by truth (John 8:32). That being said, he was merely offering unproved, personal information as an anecdote to jump into the larger point that gulags exist. He didn’t offer any information that anyone outside his head could take and use to make a choice with. It was all emotive.
The following topic I did not deal at the time, so I will here in the hoped Michael reads this at some point.
A lot of this thinking revolves around crazy conspiracy stories pushed by people like Alex Jones in regards to FEMA Camps/gulags, coffin liners, and black helicopters. Popular Mechanics (PM) has a great article debunking this conspiracy story. And the video to the right is Glenn Beck talking about the debunking PM gave this theory. Likewise, there is a good short video debunking the supposed coffins that are part of this theory as well. What interested me was that he was a Freemason. In fact, in the photo of him and I you can see a pin of the Masonic symbol just over my left shoulder (click to enlarge). At one point during our conspiracy discussion he rejected the claim that the Masons are part of any conspiracy for “world domination.” Mind you he was just telling me that the Bilderbergers, the Council of Foreign Relations, and the like are out for world domination. “What justification do you have to make this distinction,” I asked. He moved on to other subjects.
Freemasonry is said to be a modern evolution of the Illuminati, and so, would be an older extension of this conspiracy thesis. His rejection of one aspect of the same conspiracy theory and acceptance of another portion of it, then, must be based on emotional reasons: he is a member of one and not of the other.
We did talk about religion[s], which led to a sub-extension of the conspiracy portion of the discussion. I explained to him that Freemasonry is really a modern form of gnosticism, I intimated — not too well — this post on the matter, which I have wanted to import here to RPT — why not now, at least in part:
7. What “is” Freemasonry?
(Original Post) Below is a scan from page 567 of my copy of Morals and Dogma. What you have here is an example of Gnostic thinking on spirit-material dualism; Freemasons are merely modern day Gnostics. Roles are reversed in comparison to how historic Christianity has viewed them since its inception. I will explain, but first look at page 567 (click on it to enlarge):
So let’s get into the meat of the matter. Gnostic thinking is a combination of Judaism, Platonism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. (By-the-by, the below is much to do with a professor’s input I had, Dr. Wayne House.)
Judaism – early Gnostics followed the thinking of Marcian, and Marcian taught that the God of the Old Testament was a demiurge. A demiurge would be what we would typically call the “devil.” Since anything 100% spirit is “good,” anything material is “bad.” So the God of the Old Testament created the world, which is material, and so this God is the Gnostic’s mortal enemy (pun intended). So Judaic thought and Judaism’s God is what Gnostics are “fighting” against. This is Judaism’s contribution.
Platonism – plutonic thought is basically the codifying of Hindu thinking into Grecian thought. He taught that innate ideas (that is: existing in one from birth; inborn; native) were the ideas the mind beheld in the world of pure Forms before birth. This world, then, is but a shadow of reality… pure spirit. This is Platonic contribution to Gnostic thinking.
An aside here for clarity of thought. Platonic thinking shares a point in common with Gnostic thinking, so you could be a Platonist and not a Gnostic. You couldn’t be, however, a Gnostic without being a Platonist. This is important because many “scholars” get this concept mixed up when describing the points of contact between Gnostic thinking and Christianity. Okay, on we go.
Zoroastrianism – Zoroastic thought has contributed what is called ethical dualism. It has said that there is a battle between good and evil, light and dark. Its addition to this is that anything material in nature is evil, and anything spiritual is good.
Christianity – Christian theology provided a “vehicle” in which to express the above. It is then, the “vehicle of expression” for Gnostics. Jesus becomes the way in which they Gnostics explain the working of impersonal deity in human existence and the offering of salvation through secret knowledge, or, Gnosis. Gnosis means knowledge of spiritual matters; mystical knowledge.
Gnostic’s, then, only have a complete “system of thought” when they combine all four of these major aspects into their thinking. If their thinking were to lack any one of these, they would cease to be Gnostic. The combining of the major aspects of these four lines thought, then, make up the Gnostic “worldview.” What do Gnostics believe then? I will explain a bit more in this crude drawing taken during notes from a class at seminary. one should note as well that “Eon” should be spelled “Aeon.”:
Much like Eastern philosophy, there is an impersonal spirit which is 100% spirit. Brahma as it is referred to in Hindu thought. Out of this impersonal force emanated “Eons.” These Eons were 99.9% spirit and .01% material, to put it layman terms. (Also, the percentages are not to explain exactly what Gnostic’s believe, I am just using these numbers as examples to get the analogy across.) These less impersonal, or more corrupted Eons, created other Eons who themselves were more deficient in their spirit/matter balance. Until finally you have very “diluted” beings. One diluted being — referred to as a “Demiurge,” what we would sometimes call the “Devil” — created our world. He also created smaller more diluted beings called “Archons.” These archons would be what we view as demons; Gnostics would say Paul referred to them in Ephesians 6:12 when he said:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Jesus comes into the picture as an Aeon who has a higher percentage of spirit left and sneaks past the demiurge and the archons and enters our world. He is “born,” not physically, but is an ethereal image of mankind (hard to explain) to point the way to a saving knowledge that is secret or hidden.
Freemasons are the most modern day representation of Gnostics; they have symbols that as you climb to higher degrees become clearer in their real meaning and are explained more-so as you climb this “knowledge ladder.” Secret handshakes, elaborate rituals and secrecy until finally at the 33rd-degree you are presented with a true understanding (a Gnostic one) of reality and “God.”
From three separate Mason’s saying each part of the name of God, “Ja-bul-on,” to the meaning of the dot or “G” in the square and compass symbol. All these serve as layers for the initiates to come to realize that this material world is evil.
The Gnostics and hence, Masons, believe that there is a war going on with the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. As this thinking has progressed throughout history it has adopted other philosophies and has become more and more convoluted in its history and thinking. The New Age, much of your occultism, cults, and even Christianity (Trinity Broadcasting Network for instance) has been influenced by this thinking in one way or another. From Madam Blavatsky and her influence on Germany’s occultism that led to the Aryan philosophy of Hitler to Benny Hinn’s healing crusades.
All sorts of writers, especially conspiratorial writers, have had a plethora of facts to misuse and misrepresent and to twist to their own agendas. Their agenda have resulted in many people believing that “secret societies” control both parties and were behind the Twin Towers so they could implement a world government. This view that combines, “sun” worship from the ancient Egyptians to the Illuninati, from the Knights Templars and Rosicrucians, to today’s Skull and Bones and Council on Foreign Relations ~ is defunct mainly due to the lack of understanding gnosis and the philosophy that has driven it.
He did ask me to define “religion,” not being able to recall a decent definition then, I do so here:
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines religion as “a specific system of belief, worship, often involving a code of ethics.” Faith is defined as “unquestioning belief… complete trust or confidence… loyalty.”
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary has this to say about religion, “The beliefs, attitudes, emotions, behavior, etc., constituting man’s relationship with the powers and principles of the universe.” On the matter of faith it says, “Confidence in or dependence on a person, statement, or thing as trustworthy… Belief without need of certain proof.”
Atheism, Taoism, and other non-god beliefs, like Buddhism, fit into this definition. I explained my relational position with God was more personal than the cut n’ paste definition.
9. Priests Molesting Kids
Of course during the conversation Michael brought up all the deaths associated with Catholicism, and the molestations associated with the Catholic church. I responded quite well in conversation on this topic. First let me speak to the portion we discussed on molestation/rape.
Using his logic, dentistry, counseling, teaching, and the like are evil. They drive the person to do such acts. The N.E.A. (National Teachers Association) and school district/union even ship the guilty party from district to district, much like the priest. Does that mean education is evil? He thought religion was evil with this example. Having dealt with this in the past — this would be a perfect place to re-post a response to this charge:
(From a cataloged discussion)
Sean, no one was lost at the Burlington Coat Factory (where the COMMUNITY CENTER, not “mosque” will be based). If we are to follow your logic, I guess no Catholic churches should be located within a few blocks of daycare centers, no? Anyway, I am a New Yorker and I also realize polls can be made to indicate almost anything. Most of the people I know think it is more important to hold up sacred tenants of our constitution than to cave in to very misguided xenophobia. There have been a LOT of people bussed in to protest and the anti-Islamic rhetoric is very damaging. http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/08/25/cab_stabbing_update/index.html
Thanks Nora for hopping into this conversation. This can be an emotional topic, so know that even though I cannot see your facial expressions, hear concern, humor, or consternation in your tone — I afford you the best of intentions. I do wish to, however, point out some mistakes in your thinking. I may take a post or two to do so as I respect where you are coming from… so bear with me. FIRST POINT, there will be a mosque in the community center. In fact, it will be the top two floors and be tall enough to view the site of the Twin-Towers. That’s number one.
NUMBER TWO, I wish to discuss this issue of molestation by priests that you intimated about.
School counselors, dentists, Buddhist monks, foster parents, and the like — all have abused children. Men who are pedophiles look for positions of AUTHORITY OVER [*not yelling, emphasizing*] children that afford MOMENTS OF PRIVACY with these same children. Dentists do not violate children or women in the name of dentistry. Buddhists monks do not sodomize children in the name of Siddhartha. School counselors in the name of psychology, foster parents in the name of Dr. Spock, etc, … you get the point. Likewise, priests do not violate children in the name of Christ.
In other words, would Columbia University have to stop teaching about education because the N.E.A. shuffles around rapists and child predators? The argument is a non-sequitur designed merely to stir up feelings of animosity and then direct them towards an entirely different subject. There tends to be a blurring of subject/object distinction on the professional left. Here is a short list of what I alluded to above:
A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a monk at a Theravada Buddhist temple in Chicago holds her 11-year-old daughter, who was conceived, according to her mother, during the assaults. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / July 24, 2011)
Two Buddhist monks and eight other men were arrested on Wednesday, accused of sexually abusing 11 children orphaned by the island’s 19-year civil war, an official said.
Investigations revealed that the children, aged between nine and 13, had been sexually abused over a period of time at an orphanage where the men worked, said Prof. Harendra de Silva, head of the National Child Protection Authority….
Mr. Tripp was arrested for sexually abusing a former 15-year-old foster care child.
The investigation started when the Oregon Department of Human Services was contacted by a school counselor who learned that there may be sexual abuse involving a student and Mr. Tripp. DHS workers then contacted Sheriff’s Detectives who took over the investigation.
Detectives learned that Mr. Tripp has been a foster parent since 1995 and has had at least 90 children placed in his home during that time. Sheriff’s Detectives are concerned that there may be more victims who have not yet reported sexual contact involving Mr. Tripp….
3) A therapist who worked at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore was arrested in Catonsville and charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy, Baltimore County police said yesterday.
Robert J. Stoever, 54, of the 1500 block of Park Ave. was arrested Sunday night after a county police officer saw him and the boy in a car in a parking lot at Edmondson Avenue and Academy Road, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a police spokesman.
Stoever was charged with a second-degree sex offense and perverted practice, according to court documents. He was sent to the Baltimore County Detention Center, Hill said….
4) A Bronx dentist was arrested yesterday on charges that he twice raped a 16-year-old patient whom he had placed under anesthesia during an office visit on Thursday, police said.
The girl, a patient of the dentist for several years, was hired for a summer job as his receptionist on Thursday, and had an appointment with him for treatment that afternoon, said Lieut. Hazel Stewart, commander of the Bronx Special Victims Squad.
“She went in and she changed into a little uniform that he gave to her, and he gave her some files to work on,” the lieutenant said. “Then he said that it was time to take a look at her teeth.”
At that point, Lieutenant Stewart said, “he used some type of anesthesia on her and he allegedly raped her.”
The young woman told officers that she was never fully anesthetized, Lieutenant Stewart said, but that “the effects of the anesthesia were strong enough to render her helpless to such a degree that he was able to rape her again.”
These folks that commit these crimes are atheists, Christians, Buddhists (which are epistemologically speaking, atheists), and every other ideology and from every stripe of life and culture in the world. Thus, the argument is as strong as this:
There have been many cases of dentists molesting and raping children, therefore, dentists cannot take moral positions on secular society.
The conclusion just doesn’t follow the premise.
There have been many cases of priests molesting and raping children, therefore, the Pope (insert Catholic here) cannot take moral positions on secular society.
In the case of religious comparisons, you would have to isolate the founders and their lives in order to properly judge a belief, not the followers. I would engender the reader to consider well this quote by Robert Hume:
The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strong-minded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshipped, even with multitudinous idols.
All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances.
Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.
The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.
Michael’s bad thinking just isn’t him, it is a large portion of society that base important positions on emotion (they want to believe it), on hearsay (hear it from somebody), or bias, or: all of the above! Michael is merely living out societal ignorance. I can’t blame him, but I was surprised at how many of these mantras and myths he could back into a few short sentences. The other issue we talked about was violence done in the name of the Church. I intimated that according to the World Book Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica that the total historically known deaths from the Crusades (all 7), was about 40,000. It may have been horrible and wrong I told him, but the Christ doesn’t teach this. In contradistinction, when Nietzsche prophesied that the death of God would produce a bloody 20th century, he was right. Non-God movements in the 20th century alone killed over 166-million people. I continued the discussion using two books for examples: Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, and, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion. I contrasted religious views of violence and those of evolutionary standards. The Church had a reference point to return to, the non-religious person as well has a point to return to. I explained to Michael that Hitler in Mein Kampf explained this “point” well:
“The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy (New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942), pp. 161-162.
“I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality…. We will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence — imperious, relentless and cruel.”
Adolf Hitler, A sign of his quote hangs on the wall at Auschwitz; Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, p. 23.
In fact, current day biologist, Richard Dawkins agrees:
“What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.” (Stated during an interview with Larry Taunton, “Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Evangelist,” by Faith Magazine, Issue Number 18, December 2007)
If evolution is true in its natural philosophical sense, then the highest moral plain (if you can call it that) would be survival of the fittest. At some point in our evolutionary past it may have been necessary for the stronger male species to forcibly dominate the weaker female species in order for our “kind” to survive. Rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success (The Natural History of Rape, p.p., 71, 163; referenced on page 7 of my chapter on natural law and homosexuality.) At some point in our evolutionary future it may become again the only way for our species to survive (since without the theistic God rape is only currently taboo, socially speaking). This was the only time I became animated, and I did so knowingly to try and drive my point home, and the point is simple:
The Bible does not teach the horrible practices that some have committed in its name. It is true that it’s possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the details it produces evil because the individual people [Christians] are actually living in rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it [religion] can produce evil, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism (non-religious practices) actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We’re talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of God. For example: the Inquisitions, Crusades, Salem Witch Trials killed about anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 persons combined (World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Americana), and the church is liable for the unjustified murder of about (taking the high number here) 300,000-women over about a 300 year period. A blight on Christianity? Certainty. Something wrong? Dismally wrong. A tragedy? Of course. Millions and millions of people killed? No. The numbers are tragic, but pale in comparison to the statistics of what non-religious criminals have committed); the Chinese regime of Mao Tse Tung, 60 million [+] dead (1945-1965), Stalin and Khrushchev, 66 million dead (USSR 1917-1959), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia 1975-1979) and Pol Pot, one-third of the populations dead, etc, etc. The difference here is that these non-God movements are merely living out their worldview, the struggle for power, survival of the fittest and all that, no evolutionary/naturalistic natural law is being violated in other words (as non-theists reduce everything to natural law — materialism). However, and this is key, when people have misused the Christian religion for personal gain, they are in direct violation to what Christ taught, as well as Natural Law.
In other words, if one rejects Christianity for the violence it has committed against its principles, how much more should you reject non-faith for living up to its?
11. Was There a Reason for the Crusades?
Of course even this response doesn’t explain the reasoning behind why the Church went to battle to begin with. The Crusades were a mandatory action, and since the church was the only real organization in that day to see the threat and to sound the alarm bells, the net good caused by the Church’s actions — even if wrong decisions and actions took place during this conflict — is commendable. For instance, I critiqued geneticist Francis Collins position (in his book) on religion and evil for a college paper, which a portion of is below:
…Not to mention that just saying the Crusades were wrong is almost juvenile. Robert Spencer talks a bit about the lead up to Christendom finally responding — rightly at first, woefully latter.
The Third Crusade (1188-1192). This crusade was proclaimed by Pope Gregory VIII in the wake of Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Crusader forces of Hattin in 1187. This venture failed to retake Jerusalem, but it did strengthen Outremer, the crusader state that stretched along the coast of the Levant.
The almost Political Correct myth is that the crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world. I can see with quoting Tillich and Bonhoeffer, although worthy men to quote, they are typically favorites of the religious left. Robert Schuller and Desmond Tutu on the back of the cover of Collins first edition are also dead give a ways. So PC thought is entrenched in Collins general outlook on religion and life. Continuing:
The conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood as the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution. A few examples: Early in the eighth century, sixty Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time, the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies – except for a small number who converted to Islam; and Muslims demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn’t pay. Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the anti-religious tax (jizya) that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction to others, even their own children.
Brutal subordinations and violence became the rules of the day for Christians in the Holy Land. In 772, the caliph al-Mansur ordered the hands of Christians and Jews in Jerusalem to be stamped with a distinctive symbol. Conversions to Christianity were dealt with particularly harshly. In 789, Muslims beheaded a monk who had converted from Islam and plundered the Bethlehem monastery of Saint Theodosius, killing many more monks. Other monasteries in the region suffered the same fate. Early in the ninth century, the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled to Constantinople and other Christians cities. More persecutions in 923 saw additional churches destroyed, and in 937, Muslims went on a Palm Sunday rampage in Jerusalem, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.
One person (my pastor) said to paint a picture of the crusaders in a single year in history is like showing photos and video of Hitler hugging children and receiving flowers from them and then showing photos and video of the Allies attacking the German army. It completely forgets what Hitler and Germany had done prior.
 Robert Spencer, The Politically Correct Guide to Islam and the Crusades (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2005), 147-148.
 Ibid., 122.
 Ibid., 122-123.
One can see that the narrative that Mr. Berryman was speaking from is even flawed from its foundation. The liberal thinks the “big, bad corporate church” went over and started slaughtering people minding their own business. Nope. So the net good that came out of those actions is why Michael is not forced to his knees five times a day. I bet you Mr. Berryman would be floored to realize that only 2,000 or so people were killed directly because of the Spanish Inquisition! This is not an anecdotal story, but referenced in one of the leading historians of Spain and the Inquisition’s book, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision.
We talked about other issues and I can respond to them as well, but these are the main topics I touched on with him and expanded a bit here for the reader to use as examples of some responses to the many straw man statements we often hear. If Michael contacts me after the “beating” he took above, this means he is a man’s man. Sometimes we have to swallow our pride and admit that maybe, just maybe, there is room to learn — and life offers opportunities in the people we meet to do so. Michael met one such opportunity. I would ask that if Michael read this that he consider reading my book. It answers some other issues he mentioned. For instance when I mentioned the Bible, he said “which Bible, there are many.” Or when I presented a few positive aspects of the Christian worldview verses the non-believers. All that can be found in my book: Worldviews: A Click Away from Binary Collisions (Religio-Political Apologetics) The whole encounter was congenial for the most part. We left on good terms and I would be more than happy to sit down with him and have a beer.