Christian Witchhunts

Christian Witchhunts

Postby Fortigurn » 17 Dec 2010, 18:19

Nice work chief. :thumbsup:

GuyInTaiwan wrote:Joesox: You don't consider people like Sarah Palin or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be a threat?


I would consider them a threat regardless of whether or not they were religious. It doesn't take belief in something which doesn't exist for someone to be a threat; 'Any ideology can create its nutters', as you say. I don't see how religion does this more than any other ideology. That is a testable claim, but although many studies have been made of religion I'm not aware that any have reached that conclusion. Recent studies have confirmed, on the other hand, that religious people are typically more generous than non-religious people when it comes to donating their time and labour, their money, their blood, and contributing in various ways to charities, regardless of their personal socio-economic status. I suppose some people may see that as a threat, though I personally don't.

However, I think religions are more likely to create them simply because their world view is informed by things that aren't true and can't be tested.


Plenty of nutters have been created by entirely testable ideologies, some of which were informed by things which were completely true and some of which were informed by things which weren't true but appeared to be true when tested. The Ptolemaic cosmology is a reasonably benign example. The idea that aboriginal people were less evolved and therefore not only less intelligent but less deserving of life, is a not so benign example. Warning, do not click on the spoiler below if you are offended by 19th century language used to describe 'the native people'. It contains the 'Word Which Must Not Be Written'.

Spoiler: show
Henry Reynolds, 'An Indelible Stain?', 2001, page 146 wrote:The rapid population decline, [of the Australian Aborigines] which Darwin had thought in the 1830's was due to some mysterious agency, was no longer seen in that light in the second half of the 19th century.

The change of perception was largely, if not soley, due to Darwin's own work on evolution and published in The Origin of the Species (1859), and The Descent of Man (1871).

A host of followers applied evolutionary theory to society and to the Aborigines, who were viewed as primitive, stone-age people who were earlier and less evolved than were Europeans.

Their fate was wrought in the iron laws of evolution; they would eventually die out, having failed to survive in the struggle for existence.


Henry Reynolds, 'An Indelible Stain?', 2001, page 146 wrote:The Australian colonists deeply influenced by Social Darwinism had come to accept that, as a consequence of settlement, the indigenous people were dying out and the process would probably continue until it was complete.

Some regret was expressed, but in general the impending disappearance was met with equanimity, and little sense of moral responsibility.

'All effort to preserve them', wrote the Aboriginal 'expert' Archibald Meston in 1889, 'though creditable to our humanity, is a poor compliment to our knowledge of those inexorable laws whose operations are as apparent as our own existence'.

In his letter to the press, A.C.G adopted a similar view of the matter, remarking:

'...those who know the nigger best feel most the impossibility of doing much to ameliorate his condition or protract the existence of his race.

This callousness as a rule arises from no lack of sympathy with the blacks, but from a firm conviction that their stage of civilization is too many hundred or perhaps thousand years behind our own to allow their race to thrive side by side with ours.'

The Victorian historian A.G. Sutherland observed in 1888 that the colonisation of Australia was a distinct step in human progress 'involving the sacrifice of a few thousand of an inferior race'.

It was beyond all individual volition: human beings were 'governed by animal laws which urge them blindly forward upon tracks they scarce can choose for themselves'; they acted under the sway of 'natural laws over which they had no control'.


Remember, that was all based on cutting edge science at the time. As for this:

We didn't suddenly get to the point where a person can walk around and announce that she doesn't accept Papal authority, let alone that she's wiccan, without fear of being tortured and killed.


Originally there was no papacy, and people were perfectly free to walk around and announce that they didn't accept Christian belief X, Y or Z, without any fear of being tortured or killed. Similarly, for the first fourteen hundred years of Christianity there were no witch hunts whatsoever, and the Church stated repeatedly that witchcraft was complete nonsense, real witches didn't exist, and people shouldn't be charged with witchcraft, let alone executed for it. This is the more remarkable since the early Roman empire suffered one of the worst witch hunt hysterias in recorded history, yet during the whole of the early Christian era, right up to the end of the medieval era (while the Church was in full power), there were no Christian witch hunts at all, and the Church repeatedly overturned existing pagan anti-witch legislation. The Early Modern witch hunts were a historical aberration, unfortunately perpetuated by the hilariously named 'Enlightenment'.

No, the rest of the world is not heading in the same direction as the U.S. in this respect. Try getting a president in the U.S. who is openly atheistic. Hell, try getting an atheist past the position of local dog catcher. Australia currently has an atheistic prime minister.


Even better, Australia currently has a female prime minister who is not only an atheist but is in a de facto relationship. This is a trifecta of Enlightened values! Obama may be black (score one point for being a member of an oppressed minority), but he is male (lose one point for being a member of an oppressive majority), religious (lose one point for being a member of an oppressive majority), and Christian (lose one point for being a member of an oppressive majority). We're still way ahead of the US.

Dragonbones wrote:Religion per se is not necessarily a threat, but certain forms of religion, and the twisting of some forms of religion by some, those which encourage simple-mindedness, closed minds, ignorance, anti-empiricism, intolerance, hatred and violence, are most certainly a threat.


Wise words as usual. :notworthy:
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Re: Yes, Christmas Has Pagan Roots. Do You Want a Cookie?

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 19 Dec 2010, 12:44

Fortigurn wrote:Remember, that was all based on cutting edge science at the time.


The difference is that in the past couple of hundred years, as science has been tested (and no, it's not in the same way with religion, but more on that in a second), it has been updated. Religion has done that only in as much as its followers conveniently ignore the parts that are unpalatable now. However, they haven't gone as far as to rewrite their holy books and cut out, for instance, huge slabs of the Old Testament. Whereas you may have once found theories of eugenics within mainstream science, if you open a high school biology textbook now, you're not going to find eugenics. There also isn't a large voting bloc informed by such ideas. However, in America, there is certainly a large voting bloc informed by the idea that homosexuality is wicked based upon ideas from the Bible.

As for science and religion being testable, the whole reason the above has taken place in science, but has not taken place in religion, is because ultimately, even in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence as to the events in the first book of the Bible, there's still the special escape clause of faith. There's no possibility of what Karl Popper referred to as falsifiability because any contradictory evidence can always be explained away in such a way that a sceptic has no way to challenge it.

Originally there was no papacy, and people were perfectly free to walk around and announce that they didn't accept Christian belief X, Y or Z, without any fear of being tortured or killed. Similarly, for the first fourteen hundred years of Christianity there were no witch hunts whatsoever, and the Church stated repeatedly that witchcraft was complete nonsense, real witches didn't exist, and people shouldn't be charged with witchcraft, let alone executed for it. This is the more remarkable since the early Roman empire suffered one of the worst witch hunt hysterias in recorded history, yet during the whole of the early Christian era, right up to the end of the medieval era (while the Church was in full power), there were no Christian witch hunts at all, and the Church repeatedly overturned existing pagan anti-witch legislation. The Early Modern witch hunts were a historical aberration, unfortunately perpetuated by the hilariously named 'Enlightenment'.


Except you're conveniently missing the point that their were forced conversions prior to the Enlightenment and they were at least tolerated by the organised Church. Of course, that is not to say that the Church was necessarily following the spirit of the Bible. Then again, maybe it was, since the Old Testament was pretty fond of putting non-believers and other assorted sinners to the sword.

Even better, Australia currently has a female prime minister who is not only an atheist but is in a de facto relationship. This is a trifecta of Enlightened values! Obama may be black (score one point for being a member of an oppressed minority), but he is male (lose one point for being a member of an oppressive majority), religious (lose one point for being a member of an oppressive majority), and Christian (lose one point for being a member of an oppressive majority). We're still way ahead of the US.


Indeed we are way ahead of the U.S. in that it really doesn't matter what your religious views or marital status are if you can do the job well enough (or the majority of people think so at election time). Again, note the ridiculous meme about Obama being a Muslim. Remember when it came out a few years ago that Tony Abbott had a son (except it turned out not to be his son)? It was such a non-issue. Yet for all their postulating about "family values" those parts of America don't come off better when we actually look at said family values. Look at Sarah Palin's family, for instance.

The gender issue isn't such an issue, since Obama and Clinton fought a pretty hard primary campaign, they finally got a female speaker of the House and so on.
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Re: Yes, Christmas Has Pagan Roots. Do You Want a Cookie?

Postby Fortigurn » 22 Dec 2010, 14:56

GuyInTaiwan wrote:The difference is that in the past couple of hundred years, as science has been tested (and no, it's not in the same way with religion, but more on that in a second), it has been updated.


Well I agree, but that doesn't affect the point I made, which was that 'Plenty of nutters have been created by entirely testable ideologies, some of which were informed by things which were completely true and some of which were informed by things which weren't true but appeared to be true when tested'.

Religion has done that only in as much as its followers conveniently ignore the parts that are unpalatable now. However, they haven't gone as far as to rewrite their holy books and cut out, for instance, huge slabs of the Old Testament.


Now you're changing the subject, but ok let's go there. What's the point of cutting it out? What does that achieve? It always staggers me when people ask me why I, as a 21st century Christian, don't follow commandments given to Bronze Age Hebrews. I usually ask them why they don't follow the commandments in the 7th century Germanic Edict of Rothari. It's about as relevant.

Whereas you may have once found theories of eugenics within mainstream science, if you open a high school biology textbook now, you're not going to find eugenics. There also isn't a large voting bloc informed by such ideas. However, in America, there is certainly a large voting bloc informed by the idea that homosexuality is wicked based upon ideas from the Bible.


I agree, but this wasn't the actual point originally under discussion. As for voting, well if you're going to give the vote to people who have ideas you don't like then what can you expect but that they'll vote for things you don't like? Seems pretty straightforward to me. If you want to fix that then you need to make a law which says something like 'People who have ideas I don't like aren't allowed to vote', then everything will be fine. Personally I believe religious people should be politically disenfranchised. I see no reason why they should be permitted to vote. Like many in the Christian peace churches, I have always chosen not to exercise my political franchise; I don't vote at local, state, or federal level, and I don't lobby the government. I choose not to inflict my personal ideology on others through the political system, but I understand that the vast majority of Christians, and certainly all atheists, are bent on inflicting theirs on me and I'm prepared to live with that.

As for science and religion being testable, the whole reason the above has taken place in science, but has not taken place in religion, is because ultimately, even in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence as to the events in the first book of the Bible, there's still the special escape clause of faith. There's no possibility of what Karl Popper referred to as falsifiability because any contradictory evidence can always be explained away in such a way that a sceptic has no way to challenge it.


That's not quite true either, is it? Mainstream Christian churches in the late 19th century had already accepted an old earth, old universe, and evolution, before the infamous 'Fundamentals' were first written, putting the 'mental' back into 'fundamental'. In fact it was Christians who had led the way in every one of these advances (let me tell you some time about the systematic theory of evolution proposed by Chambers, which not only preceded Darwin's but to which Darwin expressed his gratitude), and the interpretation of Scripture was modified as a result. This is a process which had been continuing since the 2nd century CE. It was the famous theologian Augustine (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim), who wrote these words in the 4th century.

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience.

Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.

The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?

Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.


That's right, Augustine said that Christians who interpret the Bible as contradicting an established body of knowledge are ignorant and need to keep their mouths shut. He would have no time for today's Fundamentalists. But fortunately today's Fundamentalists are a tiny minority. There's a very long history of Christians testing the truth claims of their own holy literature, because the fact is that many of the truth claims of their holy literature are actually Popper-falsifiable. Whilst the Fideist defence ('just have blind faith!'), is still held by some Christians, it's far from representative. Look at the massive revolution which took place in Biblical archaeology in the 20th century, when it was demonstrated that the facts on the ground didn't support the interpretation of the text. No professional takes the Albrightean conquest thesis seriously anymore, and Gottwald has left his name to history as a term of ridicule ('Gottwaldian'). Similarly, how many churches are you aware of which are heliocentric?

Originally there was no papacy, and people were perfectly free to walk around and announce that they didn't accept Christian belief X, Y or Z, without any fear of being tortured or killed. Similarly, for the first fourteen hundred years of Christianity there were no witch hunts whatsoever, and the Church stated repeatedly that witchcraft was complete nonsense, real witches didn't exist, and people shouldn't be charged with witchcraft, let alone executed for it. This is the more remarkable since the early Roman empire suffered one of the worst witch hunt hysterias in recorded history, yet during the whole of the early Christian era, right up to the end of the medieval era (while the Church was in full power), there were no Christian witch hunts at all, and the Church repeatedly overturned existing pagan anti-witch legislation. The Early Modern witch hunts were a historical aberration, unfortunately perpetuated by the hilariously named 'Enlightenment'.


Except you're conveniently missing the point that their were forced conversions prior to the Enlightenment and they were at least tolerated by the organised Church.


That wasn't a point I missed, it's a point which wasn't under discussion and isn't relevant to the point which was under discussion. Your original statement was 'We didn't suddenly get to the point where a person can walk around and announce that she doesn't accept Papal authority, let alone that she's wiccan, without fear of being tortured and killed', implying that this happened for centuries since the dawn of Christendom, until it was overturned by secular enlightenment. But the reality is that right from the start Christians weren't doing this at all. It actually took time to get to that point, as Christendom moved from its Jewish roots to a Greek philosophical synthesis and finally a Roman political institution. You know how the saying goes, 'Christianity was started as a religion in Judea, was made a philosophy when it moved to Greece, became a political institution after arriving in Italy, and became a marketed product in America', or something similar.

Of course, that is not to say that the Church was necessarily following the spirit of the Bible. Then again, maybe it was, since the Old Testament was pretty fond of putting non-believers and other assorted sinners to the sword.


Well, all you have to do is look at the commandments Jesus gave directly to Christians, and see how many 'Kill all the heathen or force them to convert' statements you can find. The fact is that the historic Chrisitan peace tradition has maintained a solid witness against violence for a good 2,000 years, despite having the rest of the planet (and the majority of other Christians), wipe their feet on us during the whole time. Churches in the historic peace tradition have consisted of Christians who had access to the same political and violent franchise as others, and chose not to use it. It took our protests to drag secular governments kicking and screaming to the point that they would recognize conscientious objection against military service. Before that, secular governments imprisoned or killed us just like their fanatical religious counterparts. Thanks for nothing.

Indeed we are way ahead of the U.S. in that it really doesn't matter what your religious views or marital status are if you can do the job well enough (or the majority of people think so at election time). Again, note the ridiculous meme about Obama being a Muslim. Remember when it came out a few years ago that Tony Abbott had a son (except it turned out not to be his son)? It was such a non-issue. Yet for all their postulating about "family values" those parts of America don't come off better when we actually look at said family values. Look at Sarah Palin's family, for instance.


The US was founded by a group of religious fanatics, Australia was founded by convicts. No wonder there's such a difference.

The gender issue isn't such an issue, since Obama and Clinton fought a pretty hard primary campaign, they finally got a female speaker of the House and so on.


Well to me it's a non-issue, but in these enlightened times he is oppressing women by occupying a position which has historically been denied to them. He is an oppressor of women.
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一閃一閃眨眨眼眼眼 氣球飛來飛去的樂園 比太陽還耀眼眼眼眼 鑽石都讓到一邊!
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Re: Yes, Christmas Has Pagan Roots. Do You Want a Cookie?

Postby Dragonbones » 22 Dec 2010, 15:06

Fortigurn wrote:when people ask me why I, as a 21st century Christian, don't follow commandments given to Bronze Age Hebrews... I usually ask them why they don't follow the commandments in the 7th century Germanic Edict of Rothari.


Oh, but I do! — if anyone copulates with my aldius, he must pay me twenty solidi. That's the rule.
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Re: Yes, Christmas Has Pagan Roots. Do You Want a Cookie?

Postby Fortigurn » 22 Dec 2010, 15:22

Dragonbones wrote:
Fortigurn wrote:when people ask me why I, as a 21st century Christian, don't follow commandments given to Bronze Age Hebrews... I usually ask them why they don't follow the commandments in the 7th century Germanic Edict of Rothari.


Oh, but I do! — if anyone copulates with my aldius, he must pay me twenty solidi. That's the rule.


Well I have to say that does sound fair enough. I would go straight to my local schulthais to assert my wergeld.
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一閃一閃亮晶晶晶晶 我的項鍊到底在哪裡 滿天都是小星星星星 我要瞬間變成大明星!
一閃一閃眨眨眼眼眼 氣球飛來飛去的樂園 比太陽還耀眼眼眼眼 鑽石都讓到一邊!
我就是shining shining 大小姐 快大聲喊一遍! 我就是shining shining 大小姐 加滿元氣衝上天!
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Re: Yes, Christmas Has Pagan Roots. Do You Want a Cookie?

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 23 Dec 2010, 08:28

Fortigurn wrote:Well I agree, but that doesn't affect the point I made, which was that 'Plenty of nutters have been created by entirely testable ideologies, some of which were informed by things which were completely true and some of which were informed by things which weren't true but appeared to be true when tested'.


Science is never "true". Maybe some people see it that way, but most scientists would acknowledge that whilst they can form a workable hypothesis of how the world works and be fairly certain about it, it's still only one contradictory piece of evidence away from being false. That's the whole point of falsifiability.

Now you're changing the subject, but ok let's go there. What's the point of cutting it out? What does that achieve? It always staggers me when people ask me why I, as a 21st century Christian, don't follow commandments given to Bronze Age Hebrews. I usually ask them why they don't follow the commandments in the 7th century Germanic Edict of Rothari. It's about as relevant.


I have no idea what the Germanic Edict of Rothari is and why it's relevant to me or my life. However, Bronze Age Hebrew laws are supposedly relevant. Do you take the Ten Commandments to be relevant? If so, why not all of the other Bronze Age Hebrew laws?

I agree, but this wasn't the actual point originally under discussion. As for voting, well if you're going to give the vote to people who have ideas you don't like then what can you expect but that they'll vote for things you don't like? Seems pretty straightforward to me. If you want to fix that then you need to make a law which says something like 'People who have ideas I don't like aren't allowed to vote', then everything will be fine. Personally I believe religious people should be politically disenfranchised. I see no reason why they should be permitted to vote. Like many in the Christian peace churches, I have always chosen not to exercise my political franchise; I don't vote at local, state, or federal level, and I don't lobby the government. I choose not to inflict my personal ideology on others through the political system, but I understand that the vast majority of Christians, and certainly all atheists, are bent on inflicting theirs on me and I'm prepared to live with that.


It's not that I think people who disagree with me shouldn't be allowed to vote. I actually have two points about this.

The first is that I believe it's morally wrong to have voting. Like you, I also choose not to inflict my personal ideology on people through the political system and I don't vote either. For this reason, I'm generally opposed to the concept of voting for anyone. I think it can very easily turn into a tyranny of the masses. As odd as this might sound, although I despise religion, I wouldn't want atheism forced upon anyone. That's different from publicly calling religion bollocks.

The second reason is that I don't believe stupid people should get to make important decisions. I don't vote because I simply don't believe I'm informed enough to vote. There are few issues, at least at the federal level, where I think I could really make an intelligent, informed opinion. I think there are probably few people out there who could do so. Certainly, there would be people who could make such decisions in a couple of areas, but not across the board. Not enough to select other people to make those decisions for them even. This is especially borne out by the fact that large numbers of people in many Western nations are in massive personal debt to the point of foreclosure or bankruptcy, yet they get unleashed on the polls to make macroeconomic decisions involving billions or trillions of dollars. It then comes as no surprise to me that those nations are in serious trouble. It's just like a big version of the average citizen's personal finances.

That's right, Augustine said that Christians who interpret the Bible as contradicting an established body of knowledge are ignorant and need to keep their mouths shut. He would have no time for today's Fundamentalists. But fortunately today's Fundamentalists are a tiny minority. There's a very long history of Christians testing the truth claims of their own holy literature, because the fact is that many of the truth claims of their holy literature are actually Popper-falsifiable. Whilst the Fideist defence ('just have blind faith!'), is still held by some Christians, it's far from representative. Look at the massive revolution which took place in Biblical archaeology in the 20th century, when it was demonstrated that the facts on the ground didn't support the interpretation of the text. No professional takes the Albrightean conquest thesis seriously anymore, and Gottwald has left his name to history as a term of ridicule ('Gottwaldian'). Similarly, how many churches are you aware of which are heliocentric?


So just what do these Christians make of the Book of Genesis then? How can you/they reconcile that (and God's omniscience and omnipotence) with modern science?

That wasn't a point I missed, it's a point which wasn't under discussion and isn't relevant to the point which was under discussion. Your original statement was 'We didn't suddenly get to the point where a person can walk around and announce that she doesn't accept Papal authority, let alone that she's wiccan, without fear of being tortured and killed', implying that this happened for centuries since the dawn of Christendom, until it was overturned by secular enlightenment. But the reality is that right from the start Christians weren't doing this at all. It actually took time to get to that point, as Christendom moved from its Jewish roots to a Greek philosophical synthesis and finally a Roman political institution. You know how the saying goes, 'Christianity was started as a religion in Judea, was made a philosophy when it moved to Greece, became a political institution after arriving in Italy, and became a marketed product in America', or something similar.


That is true, though what followed after it became a Roman political institution was probably motivated by political reasons, but it was still backed up by examples from the Old Testament. There was plenty of extra fuel for the fire.

Well, all you have to do is look at the commandments Jesus gave directly to Christians, and see how many 'Kill all the heathen or force them to convert' statements you can find. The fact is that the historic Chrisitan peace tradition has maintained a solid witness against violence for a good 2,000 years, despite having the rest of the planet (and the majority of other Christians), wipe their feet on us during the whole time. Churches in the historic peace tradition have consisted of Christians who had access to the same political and violent franchise as others, and chose not to use it. It took our protests to drag secular governments kicking and screaming to the point that they would recognize conscientious objection against military service. Before that, secular governments imprisoned or killed us just like their fanatical religious counterparts. Thanks for nothing.


I'm still curious as to how you can reconcile the Old and New Testaments. Was God wrong before? Did he change his mind? Is that even logical or possible for an omniscient being?

The US was founded by a group of religious fanatics, Australia was founded by convicts. No wonder there's such a difference.


Yes, obviously, but isn't that my point?

Well to me it's a non-issue, but in these enlightened times he is oppressing women by occupying a position which has historically been denied to them. He is an oppressor of women.


I wouldn't consider him an oppressor. Do women actually view him as such? He was from a minority that has historically been oppressed also. Only one of them could win.
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Re: Yes, Christmas Has Pagan Roots. Do You Want a Cookie?

Postby The Taiwan Sugar Company » 23 Dec 2010, 08:54

Dragonbones wrote:
Fortigurn wrote:when people ask me why I, as a 21st century Christian, don't follow commandments given to Bronze Age Hebrews... I usually ask them why they don't follow the commandments in the 7th century Germanic Edict of Rothari.


Oh, but I do! — if anyone copulates with my aldius, he must pay me twenty solidi. That's the rule.


You made that aldius yourself, didn't you?
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Re: Yes, Christmas Has Pagan Roots. Do You Want a Cookie?

Postby Vorkosigan » 25 Dec 2010, 14:43

Fortigurn wrote:Originally there was no papacy, and people were perfectly free to walk around and announce that they didn't accept Christian belief X, Y or Z, without any fear of being tortured or killed. Similarly, for the first fourteen hundred years of Christianity there were no witch hunts whatsoever, and the Church stated repeatedly that witchcraft was complete nonsense, real witches didn't exist, and people shouldn't be charged with witchcraft, let alone executed for it. This is the more remarkable since the early Roman empire suffered one of the worst witch hunt hysterias in recorded history, yet during the whole of the early Christian era, right up to the end of the medieval era (while the Church was in full power), there were no Christian witch hunts at all, and the Church repeatedly overturned existing pagan anti-witch legislation. The Early Modern witch hunts were a historical aberration, unfortunately perpetuated by the hilariously named 'Enlightenment'.


The witch-hunts you refer to date from the end of the 15th century. The Enlightenment is an 18th century project. Hardly an aberration; as witch-hunting is part of many societies.
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Re: Yes, Christmas Has Pagan Roots. Do You Want a Cookie?

Postby Zla'od » 27 Dec 2010, 08:48

Even better, Australia currently has a female prime minister who is not only an atheist but is in a de facto relationship. This is a trifecta of Enlightened values!


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“If a bodhisattva resides as a householder and there appears a woman who is clearly unbound to anyone, habituated to sexual indulgence, attracted to the bodhisattva and seeking sexual activities, the bodhisattva having seen this thinks, 'Do not make her mind upset, producing much misfortune. If she pursues her desire, she will obtain freedom. As expedient means [upaya] I will take her in and have her plant the roots for virtue, also having her abandon unwholesome karma. I will engage in impure activities [abrahma-carya] with a compassionate mind.' Even practising such defiled activities like this, there is nothing that is violated [precepts], and much merit will be produced." -- from the Yogācārabhūmi Śāstra

For even more saucy Buddhist scripture, see http://sdhammika.blogspot.tw/2010/08/st ... m-all.html
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Re: Yes, Christmas Has Pagan Roots. Do You Want a Cookie?

Postby Fortigurn » 05 Jan 2011, 15:05

Vorkosigan wrote:The witch-hunts you refer to date from the end of the 15th century. The Enlightenment is an 18th century project. Hardly an aberration; as witch-hunting is part of many societies.


You usually read more carefully than that Vorkosigan. Yes the witch hunts to which I refer date from the 15th century. I pointed out that they were perpetuated (not initiated), by the Enlightenment. I expect you may raise a quibble concerning when Enlightenment thinking first emerged, so I'll rephrase; 'perpetuated by the Age of Reason', to be more precise.

Richard Olson, ‘Spirits, Witches & Science: Why the rise of science encouraged belief in the supernatural in 17th-century England’, Skeptic volume 1, number 4, pages 34-43, Winter 1992 wrote:‘What I want to argue, is that beliefs in witches, ghosts, and demons were heavily under attack and on the wane in England at the very beginning of the 17th century before the rise of what we would usually identify as modern scientific attitudes.

But witchcraft beliefs, and beliefs in other spirit phenomena underwent a remarkable revival among British intellectuals during the period after the Restoration of James II to the throne in 1660; and this revival of demonological beliefs was directly and self-consciously attached to the rise of modern scientific attitudes among the men who were members of the Royal Society of London. So at least for a time it may be true to say that men actually came to believe in witches as a result of the development of scientific attitudes.’


The Royal Society became convinced that scientific experimentation proved the existence of genuine supernatural witchcraft:

Richard Olson, ‘Spirits, Witches & Science: Why the rise of science encouraged belief in the supernatural in 17th-century England’, Skeptic volume 1, number 4, pages 34-43, Winter 1992 wrote:Boyle sent a report of an Irish Witch, who he had investigated and confirmed his first-hand support of an earlier account of a demonic possession at Mascon in France, for example. And John Beale sent him letters on the possible effects of witchcraft on butter production. Perhaps more importantly, many Royal Society members began to incorporate spirits into their laboratory world (Schaffer, 1987, pp. 55-85).’


Richard Olson, ‘Spirits, Witches & Science: Why the rise of science encouraged belief in the supernatural in 17th-century England’, Skeptic volume 1, number 4, pages 34-43, Winter 1992 wrote:In any event, for at least a couple of decades after the Restoration, the belief in ghosts and witches–which had begun to decline in the late 16th and early 17th century returned as a serious and popular topic for polemical discussions; and those who argued in favor of beliefs in spirit phenomena simultaneously drew arguments from and promoted experimental science (Jobe, 1981, pp. 343-356).’


And yes the European witch hunts to which I referred were a historical aberration. They appeared only after 1,300 years of Christian history without witch hunts, during which time the Church had repeatedly insisted that witches did not exist and witchcraft was a delusion. Witch hunts were common in the pre-Christian pagan era, were outlawed and suppressed by the Church for 1,300 years, and emerged briefly for 400 years before being suppressed again. In 2,000 years of European history, those 400 stand out as an aberration; during that 2,000 years there was no such event either before or after (the pagan Roman witch hunt of the 2nd century BCE which Livy records, is the only real competitor). The fact that witch hunting is 'part of many societies' does not change this. I didn't claim that the European witch hunts were an aberration in the whole of recorded human experience.
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