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Thread: The Aimless Musings of a Thoughtful Christian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Acts and the Gospels are very careful (suspiciously so) to present Jesus' post-resurrection appearances in such a way as to make them seem as little like hallucinations or delusions as possible. Additionally, there is a significant different between a walking, talking, eating person you can touch and a 'light at the end of the tunnel' near-death experience.
    I think that the resurrection ´reports´ in the gospels are the fruit of pure imagination which ascribed to the Christian hero a capability also found with other mythic antique heros/gods such as Heracles, Dionysos, Osiris, Attis, Tammuz (sic), and so on. E.g. the resurrection of god Dionysos, lying in his grave in the temple of Delphi with his body torn by the titans, was celebrated every two years by his (mostly female) followers. In case Jesus was a historical figure, he should be thought as a Jewish itinerant preacher, either personally pretending messiahship or being charged with that attribute by his followers. Anyway, the resurrection motif should be regarded as a purely mythical ingredient of the Jesus narrative which can naturally be also suspected to be mythical as a whole.

    Another matter is hallucinations. Maybe one or some Christian at the end of the 1st or in the 2nd century experienced endogeneous visions what either initiated the mythically invented account mentioned above, or was inspired by that very ´account´.

    As to the heaven motif, it historically goes back to prehistoric shamanic experiences of over-worldly realms populated with mighty spirits while sort of underworld was populated with the souls of the deceased as well as with helping spirits and demons, far from being a painful location such as hell. This phenomenon is frequently attested in today Indian native societies in South America, for example. In Ancient Near East, the next stage of those ideas was populating the upper world with personal deities that fulfilled social functions analogous to human people. Again no idea of a painful hell. This was only invented in Persia at the time of Zoroaster, the inventor of monotheism (with god Ahura Mazda) and of Satan (in form of Ahura Mazdas opponent, the super demon Ahriman). Christianity took over the Satan and hell concept largely not from Judaism but from Zoroastrism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Surely objectivity is the only way to ascertain the truth, and the truth is the only thing worth having/seeking? I don't quite understand what you mean by subjectivity in this context.
    There are more levels of ´truth´ than just the one which can be ascertained by so-called objective measures. Such things like ´enlightenment´ or ´visions´ can not be measured and therefore not be objectified. One has to extend the concept of truth to the subjective dimension, otherwise the most important experiences attainable for man are excluded from cultural knowledge. To believe in physical objectivity (measurability) as the only dimension of truth would mean to establish a new religion called ´materialism´. Materialism is pure believe in a dogma. However, many physicians don´t adhere to this simple religion but were or are theoretizing about a spiritual dimension of existence, e.g. Planck, Schroedinger, Heisenberg, David Bohm, and Fritjof Capra.
    Last edited by Tammuz; 02-23-2017 at 11:50 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Acts and the Gospels are very careful (suspiciously so) to present Jesus' post-resurrection appearances in such a way as to make them seem as little like hallucinations or delusions as possible. Additionally, there is a significant different between a walking, talking, eating person you can touch and a 'light at the end of the tunnel' near-death experience.
    They do have Jesus appearing and vanishing such as on the road to Emmaus and when Jesus appeared in a room and Thomas touched his wounds. What makes me think that these things actually happened is that people have such experiences today. There is one example of a mother who saw her dead son appear to her. He was real enough to pick her up off her feet. If that can happen so can someone put their fingers into Jesus side. I don't think any of these accounts are hallucinations or delusions, but that is always a way to interpret them.

    The only problem I have with the Christian accounts are that Christians sometimes claim that these things could only happen to Jesus.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    If life went on indefinitely it would be meaningless and one could do anything with it. Some folk believe that to be meaningful or significant a thing has to be lose-able.

    Measurements of value require different measurements in order to be significant (you can't say something is "big" without being able to conceive something bigger or smaller). Similarly, people like to look at things from a dualistic perspective and like to think of any absolute being balanced out by an opposing absolute. Therefore they may say that any absolutely perfect place (ie heaven) must have a corresponding absolutely terrible place (ie hell). In the same way they say you could not have happiness if sadness were inconceivable.

    I specifically prefaced both these statements in my earlier post with "some would say" in an effort not be identified with these stances, please don't assume I hold these as truths.
    That makes sense. I try to avoid dualism by thinking that when I open my eyes I see "heaven" but from a limited perspective or I see "the face of God" but in a limited way. When I die some of those limitations are removed. That is why I don't think there is a "hell" afterwards separate from the reality we experience now. There isn't any "heaven" either separate from the reality we experience now. That doesn't mean there is nothing and that I lose consciousness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Christian doctrine and scriptures (which I don't hold as infallible, admittedly) teach that all the woes of the earth, including death, sorrow, sickness and labour, come from Adam and Eve's first sin, the Fall. If everybody made every single decision based on whether it would bring happiness to as many other people as possible the majority of the world's hardships would disappear.
    That makes sense as well. I do like the idea of Adam and Eve's decisions resulting in consequences that other people have to suffer for, not just Adam and Eve. It is a great way to show that we are not individuals, but part of communities. Even Jesus suffering for others makes sense. The idea of karma should be extended so other people can be seen as paying the consequences for the karma someone else creates. Karma doesn't have to be paid through an individual's reincarnation.

    What I don't think is true is that we can damage the entire universe with our actions. I don't think we have the power to turn something good into something not good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    We may have urges to be moral but is there any logic behind them? What rational reason can you give me to be anything other than selfish (bearing in mind that the "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" argument is founded on selfishness and isn't even applicable in every situation). Surely the fact that "even animals have [a] moral understanding" demonstrates that there is nothing especially spiritual about it and can be ignored?
    A rational act is what a robot does. To be rational means to calculate the optimal choice. Although we can calculate, we are not very rational. If we were no one would be over or under weight. To be moral, for me, means that we can access a "realm" or "conscious field" or "intuition" or whatever it might be that allows us to know what to do beyond calculating the probabilities.


    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Surely there can be a contextual, subjective standard?
    The only problem I have with standards are that they are objective. They are useful guides, but ultimately a contextual, subjective experience of what to do is needed. I think we agree.


    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Surely objectivity is the only way to ascertain the truth, and the truth is the only thing worth having/seeking? I don't quite understand what you mean by subjectivity in this context.
    The problem with objectivity is that it is not conscious and so it cannot be all of reality because it excludes consciousness. Objective truth is a model we make of reality and it could be in error. It is also very useful, but it cannot be all of reality because there is also the subjective experience of that objective face of reality which cannot be objectified without destroying it. (Edit: Actually without excluding it. I don't think consciousness can be destroyed although we may become unaware at times.)
    Last edited by YesNo; 02-23-2017 at 12:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    I think that the resurrection ´reports´ in the gospels are the fruit of pure imagination which ascribed to the Christian hero a capability also found with other mythic antique heros/gods such as Heracles, Dionysos, Osiris, Attis, Tammuz (sic), and so on. E.g. the resurrection of god Dionysos, lying in his grave in the temple of Delphi with his body torn by the titans, was celebrated every two years by his (mostly female) followers. In case Jesus was a historical figure, he should be thought as a Jewish itinerant preacher, either personally pretending messiahship or being charged with that attribute by his followers. Anyway, the resurrection motif should be regarded as a purely mythical ingredient of the Jesus narrative which can naturally be also suspected to be mythical as a whole.
    Saying the resurrection is "pure imagination" doesn't explain the zeal and devotion shown by his followers. According to early Christian accounts, the resurrection was the most significant event in Christianity (perhaps second to the crucifixion) and inspired the religion to grow and flourish. Thus if such an important event were completely made up then those who knew it was a lie wouldn't have allowed themselves to be martyred (sometimes horrifically) for it. The apostles, who were the ostensible eye-witnesses of the resurrection and contributed to the Gospels, by all accounts testified to its truth and died (in avoidable circumstances) rather than renounce it. They could easily have denied claims by others that Jesus rose from the dead but don't seem to have done, suggesting they were genuine believers. Of course, this does not rule out hallucinations and whatnot.

    The Gospels are, on the face of it, sober and sensible in tone and present themselves as serious historical accounts written by and with the help of eye-witnesses. I'm not saying that makes them true but it does rather set them apart from accounts of Heracles, Dionysos and the other examples. Perhaps it was the first example of an old motif being applied to contemporary life in a realistic way (somewhat like the Percy Jackson series) or perhaps they really do represent the literal truth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    There are more levels of ´truth´ than just the one which can be ascertained by so-called objective measures. Such things like ´enlightenment´ or ´visions´ can not be measured and therefore not be objectified. One has to extend the concept of truth to the subjective dimension, otherwise the most important experiences attainable for man are excluded from cultural knowledge. To believe in physical objectivity (measurability) as the only dimension of truth would mean to establish a new religion called ´materialism´. Materialism is pure believe in a dogma. However, many physicians don´t adhere to this simple religion but were or are theoretizing about a spiritual dimension of existence, e.g. Planck, Schroedinger, Heisenberg, David Bohm, and Fritjof Capra.
    That is true but I hold to the stance that non-measurable experiences should be treated with severe scepticism as they cannot be proven. The other month I was reading Descartes' 'Meditations on First Philosophy' and liked the idea that the only thing I can be sure about is that I exist as a thinking thing; nothing more.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    The only problem I have with the Christian accounts are that Christians sometimes claim that these things could only happen to Jesus.
    I don't know about that, the Bible itself mentions several instances of people who aren't Jesus being raised from the dead and interacting with others.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    That makes sense as well. I do like the idea of Adam and Eve's decisions resulting in consequences that other people have to suffer for, not just Adam and Eve. It is a great way to show that we are not individuals, but part of communities. Even Jesus suffering for others makes sense. The idea of karma should be extended so other people can be seen as paying the consequences for the karma someone else creates. Karma doesn't have to be paid through an individual's reincarnation.
    As one who considers the individuals' rights more important than the good of their community, I feel their is something inherently unfair with all that. The Christian doctrine of original sin descending from Adam has always seemed unjust to me. I suppose I just don't like being treated as nothing more than a smaller part of a whole so it may be a bit selfish really.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    A rational act is what a robot does. To be rational means to calculate the optimal choice. Although we can calculate, we are not very rational. If we were no one would be over or under weight. To be moral, for me, means that we can access a "realm" or "conscious field" or "intuition" or whatever it might be that allows us to know what to do beyond calculating the probabilities.
    I think that all decisions are ultimately logical (and therefore rational) with premises and conclusions, they just often use flawed logic. Someone who is overweight thinks that eating more will give him or her pleasure, and that this is more important than future health (this is rational thinking even if it may be subconscious). The premise that temporary pleasure is more important than long-lasting bad health may be disagreed with consciously but the process of thinking is still robotic.

    If there is a higher power of any kind then being moral as you define it makes perfect sense but if nothing exists beyond the material world then it seems to be just a quirk of evolution designed to allow the species to thrive. This makes it quite useless from an individual standpoint.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    The only problem I have with standards are that they are objective. They are useful guides, but ultimately a contextual, subjective experience of what to do is needed. I think we agree.
    I think we agree in substance. My point is that an action can be held to an ethical standard that takes into full account context and the subjective factors. I certainly agree that there can be no absolute moral rule that is applicable in every situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    The problem with objectivity is that it is not conscious and so it cannot be all of reality because it excludes consciousness. Objective truth is a model we make of reality and it could be in error. It is also very useful, but it cannot be all of reality because there is also the subjective experience of that objective face of reality which cannot be objectified without destroying it. (Edit: Actually without excluding it. I don't think consciousness can be destroyed although we may become unaware at times.)
    I would agree with objective truth being fallible and all that (see my mention of Descartes above). However I believe that an objectively measured or experienced 'truth' is more reliably true than a subjective one and so we should trust to objectivity over subjectivity for knowledge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    I think that the resurrection ´reports´ in the gospels are the fruit of pure imagination which ascribed to the Christian hero a capability also found with other mythic antique heros/gods such as Heracles, Dionysos, Osiris, Attis, Tammuz (sic), and so on. E.g. the resurrection of god Dionysos, lying in his grave in the temple of Delphi with his body torn by the titans, was celebrated every two years by his (mostly female) followers. In case Jesus was a historical figure, he should be thought as a Jewish itinerant preacher, either personally pretending messiahship or being charged with that attribute by his followers. Anyway, the resurrection motif should be regarded as a purely mythical ingredient of the Jesus narrative which can naturally be also suspected to be mythical as a whole.

    Another matter is hallucinations. Maybe one or some Christian at the end of the 1st or in the 2nd century experienced endogeneous visions what either initiated the mythically invented account mentioned above, or was inspired by that very ´account´.
    I assume Jesus was an historical figure, because there does not appear to be enough evidence to convince people that he wasn't real: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histor...esus#Existence

    I also assume that anything miraculous Jesus did, he did as long as other people have done, or claim to have done, something similar even if it goes against physical models of the universe. What I don't think is true is that the Jews sent Jesus to Pilate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    As to the heaven motif, it historically goes back to prehistoric shamanic experiences of over-worldly realms populated with mighty spirits while sort of underworld was populated with the souls of the deceased as well as with helping spirits and demons, far from being a painful location such as hell. This phenomenon is frequently attested in today Indian native societies in South America, for example. In Ancient Near East, the next stage of those ideas was populating the upper world with personal deities that fulfilled social functions analogous to human people. Again no idea of a painful hell. This was only invented in Persia at the time of Zoroaster, the inventor of monotheism (with god Ahura Mazda) and of Satan (in form of Ahura Mazdas opponent, the super demon Ahriman). Christianity took over the Satan and hell concept largely not from Judaism but from Zoroastrism.
    I agree with you that the origin of the idea of hell rests in Zoroastrianism. The Apocalypse just made it hotter and eternal.

    An "other-worldly realm" may be the same reality we experience, but seen from a different perspective. Heaven would be an "other-perspective" different from the one we currently have and possible after our deaths.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    That is true but I hold to the stance that non-measurable experiences should be treated with severe scepticism as they cannot be proven. The other month I was reading Descartes' 'Meditations on First Philosophy' and liked the idea that the only thing I can be sure about is that I exist as a thinking thing; nothing more.
    One of the problems with that position of Descartes is that he assumes there is an "I" doing the thinking. The thinking occurs, but who is doing it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    I don't know about that, the Bible itself mentions several instances of people who aren't Jesus being raised from the dead and interacting with others.
    I think Jesus had to raise those people first. I accept what Jesus did because I hear accounts of other people doing similar miraculous things even if they go against scientific models. I need to either have (1) a model or (2) a case study confirming the possibility of the event. One of the things that I have heard some, not all, Christians claim is that only Jesus is able to do these miracles. That means I can't confirm the event.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    As one who considers the individuals' rights more important than the good of their community, I feel their is something inherently unfair with all that. The Christian doctrine of original sin descending from Adam has always seemed unjust to me. I suppose I just don't like being treated as nothing more than a smaller part of a whole so it may be a bit selfish really.
    This is what I like about the Judeo-Christian view of reality. It is not individualistic. We can help each other and it is good to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    I think that all decisions are ultimately logical (and therefore rational) with premises and conclusions, they just often use flawed logic. Someone who is overweight thinks that eating more will give him or her pleasure, and that this is more important than future health (this is rational thinking even if it may be subconscious). The premise that temporary pleasure is more important than long-lasting bad health may be disagreed with consciously but the process of thinking is still robotic.

    If there is a higher power of any kind then being moral as you define it makes perfect sense but if nothing exists beyond the material world then it seems to be just a quirk of evolution designed to allow the species to thrive. This makes it quite useless from an individual standpoint.
    The question is also whether the material world exists as unconscious matter. If it doesn't, then bottom-up, unconscious reductionism has to be replaced by some top-down consciousness as the main driving explanation of reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    What I don't think is true is that the Jews sent Jesus to Pilate.
    Why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    One of the problems with that position of Descartes is that he assumes there is an "I" doing the thinking. The thinking occurs, but who is doing it?
    Thinking surely cannot exist on its own, the only way Descartes qualifies the "I" is as a "thinking thing". If thinking exists something must be doing it, I call that thing myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I think Jesus had to raise those people first. I accept what Jesus did because I hear accounts of other people doing similar miraculous things even if they go against scientific models. I need to either have (1) a model or (2) a case study confirming the possibility of the event.
    Perhaps the point of miracles is that they are unique. Jesus certainly made the point of doing the same miracle differently on different occasions (for example the three ways he miraculously gave blind people sight). I think that if miracles can happen in the first place (which is doubtful) then they don't have to be replicated by others.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    One of the things that I have heard some, not all, Christians claim is that only Jesus is able to do these miracles. That means I can't confirm the event.
    Thinking about it, there is some Biblical basis for that. All the earlier miracle-workers (Elijah, Moses and others) didn't really do miracles themselves but were rather the instruments through which God did miracles. In the same way the apostles after Jesus did miracles in his name.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Why not?
    I think Pilate was solely responsible for Jesus's death. In his fanaticism, he crucified Jesus who was popular to terrorize the Jewish community during their religious holidays. For an example of what Pilate also did see Luke 13:1 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage...1&version=NKJV "There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices." As I read that Pilate mocked those Galileans by slaying them with their religious sacrifices.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Thinking surely cannot exist on its own, the only way Descartes qualifies the "I" is as a "thinking thing". If thinking exists something must be doing it, I call that thing myself.
    Where do your thoughts come from? Mine just pop into my head as if I wasn't totally responsible for them. My responsibility comes with allowing them to linger. In Descartes' situation he wants to know how to arrive at truth if a demon is tricking him. The demon could be thinking those thoughts and projecting them onto him as a hypnotist might. Descartes' assumption is that his individuality isolated him from that demon, but can the individualism he believes in do that? Something or someone is thinking, but who?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Perhaps the point of miracles is that they are unique. Jesus certainly made the point of doing the same miracle differently on different occasions (for example the three ways he miraculously gave blind people sight). I think that if miracles can happen in the first place (which is doubtful) then they don't have to be replicated by others.

    Thinking about it, there is some Biblical basis for that. All the earlier miracle-workers (Elijah, Moses and others) didn't really do miracles themselves but were rather the instruments through which God did miracles. In the same way the apostles after Jesus did miracles in his name.
    I like the idea that miracles are unique. They are not reproducible through experiment. I also like the idea that they come from without us.


    Edit: It occurred to me, if we were AI robots then we could assume Descartes' individualism, but even Turing admitted that his test for simulating human intelligence by machines would break if extrasensory perception was involved in some way. See section 6(9) in http://www.loebner.net/Prizef/TuringArticle.html.
    Last edited by YesNo; 02-25-2017 at 05:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I think Pilate was solely responsible for Jesus's death. In his fanaticism, he crucified Jesus who was popular to terrorize the Jewish community during their religious holidays. For an example of what Pilate also did see Luke 13:1 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage...1&version=NKJV "There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices." As I read that Pilate mocked those Galileans by slaying them with their religious sacrifices.
    There had been Jewish rebellions before that time and there were more afterwards, so the threat of insurrection was real for the Romans. Added to the fact that Pilate was in a precarious position politically (among the Roman bureaucracy) he was unlikely to have deliberately tried to provoke the Jews. The Gospels all testify that Pilate was in fact bowing to Jewish pressure in crucifying Jesus against his natural inclination (and I see little reason for them to lie about this). Jesus all but stated he was the son of God/God himself, which was blasphemy, and seemed to be stirring up trouble. The Jewish leaders (who could still remember the slaughter of an earlier rebellion) wouldn't want this loony Nazarene upsetting the delicate balance of power and so there's nothing unusual about them wanting him killed. Jesus may have been popular with the masses when it was safe for them but like any mob they were fickle and deserted him after he was prosecuted.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Where do your thoughts come from? Mine just pop into my head as if I wasn't totally responsible for them. My responsibility comes with allowing them to linger. In Descartes' situation he wants to know how to arrive at truth if a demon is tricking him. The demon could be thinking those thoughts and projecting them onto him as a hypnotist might. Descartes' assumption is that his individuality isolated him from that demon, but can the individualism he believes in do that? Something or someone is thinking, but who?
    Yes but as I remember it Descartes uses this to reason that by questioning the origin of his thoughts he must exist to do so. Even if only as a receptacle for another's thoughts he still exists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    There had been Jewish rebellions before that time and there were more afterwards, so the threat of insurrection was real for the Romans. Added to the fact that Pilate was in a precarious position politically (among the Roman bureaucracy) he was unlikely to have deliberately tried to provoke the Jews. The Gospels all testify that Pilate was in fact bowing to Jewish pressure in crucifying Jesus against his natural inclination (and I see little reason for them to lie about this). Jesus all but stated he was the son of God/God himself, which was blasphemy, and seemed to be stirring up trouble. The Jewish leaders (who could still remember the slaughter of an earlier rebellion) wouldn't want this loony Nazarene upsetting the delicate balance of power and so there's nothing unusual about them wanting him killed. Jesus may have been popular with the masses when it was safe for them but like any mob they were fickle and deserted him after he was prosecuted.
    Here is Wikipedia's description of Pilate: "Once in his post he offended the religious sensibilities of his subjects, leading to harsh criticism from Philo, and many decades later, Josephus. According to Josephus c. AD 93, Pilate was deposed and sent to Rome by Lucius Vitellius after harshly suppressing a Samaritan uprising, arriving just after the death of Tiberius which occurred on 16 March in AD 37." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontius_Pilate

    Regarding why the Gospels present a different view of Pilate, I agree with the following also in that Wikipedia article: "Pilate's reluctance to execute Jesus in the gospels has been seen by Anchor Bible Dictionary and critical scholars as reflecting the authors' agenda. It has thus been argued that gospel accounts place the blame on the Jews, not on Rome, in line with the authors' alleged goal of making peace with the Roman Empire and vilifying the Jews."

    I do not doubt that some Jews did not like some of the early Christians. In particular there is the account of Saint Stephen: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen Note what happened to Stephen: he was not crucified; he was stoned to death. That is how I would expect the Jews to execute someone in those days.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Yes but as I remember it Descartes uses this to reason that by questioning the origin of his thoughts he must exist to do so. Even if only as a receptacle for another's thoughts he still exists.
    I agree that it is not the content of his thought that he can trust, but the act of thinking or perhaps the act of awareness itself. I also agree that subjectivity exists that allows us to experience awareness. It is at this point that I suspect Descartes made an assumption as to who the thinking subject actually was. He figured he was that subject. That leads us to individualism where each of us are contained by our bodies as isolated points of subjectivity. This individualism allows solipsism to be possible in other philosophical contexts.

    I might have this wrong. However, I am interested in the topic more than I was earlier. I should check not only Descartes texts but how he influenced others. Basically I wonder if this is a source of our current view of ourselves as individuals or not.

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    (I will tomorrow reply to more answers of Seumas as well as of YesNo)

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Saying the resurrection is "pure imagination" doesn't explain the zeal and devotion shown by his followers. According to early Christian accounts, the resurrection was the most significant event in Christianity (perhaps second to the crucifixion) and inspired the religion to grow and flourish.
    For scientifically evaluating the Christian dogmas and beliefs, it is helpful to study the so-called ´pagan´ religions in the cultural environment of early Christianity (= comparative history of religions). Then you will find that "zeal and devotion" is by no means dependent on the historicity of events to which zeal and devotion are referring. I already mentioned the Dionysos cult in Delphi where every two years thousands of females used to celebrate the resurrection of their god with zeal and devotion to a degree that with regard to ecstasy and emotionality surely exceeds the degree of Christian devotional behavior by far. However the cause of those celebrations (Dionysos´ resurrection) is to be assessed of course not as historical but as mythical. Another examples are the also mentioned cults of Attis, Tammuz, Osiris etc. and the included celebrations of the resurrection (or revival) of those gods. Many followers of Attis, for example, castrated themselves to become equal to their god and, furthermore, vested themselves in female outfits to come close to the gender of goddess Cybele, the lover of Attis. I would call this an extreme degree of zeal and devotion.

    The same is the case with Judaism. Take the Moses books which were largely written only after the Babylonian exile (that is, in the 5th century BCE), about 800 years after the time when the ´reported´ events are said to be occurred. Most historians today would not assert the historicity of those events. ´Moses´ is seen to be a purely mythical figure, invented by Jewish priests in order to establish a leader figure that symbolizes the identity of Jewish people, as is the case with Abraham. Archeologists Finkelstein and Silberman have found that there is no archeological evidence of such things like ´exodus´ from Egypt and land-taking of Hebrews in Canaan. Also figures like David and Solomon are regarded as mythical not only by Finkelstein/Silberman but by many more historians. The awesome biblical descriptions of Solomon´s temple, palace, and harem, for example, are strongly contradicting the cultural situation in Canaan around 1,000 BCE, when Jerusalem, according to Finkelstein/Silberman, was only a small village with some hundred people.

    So Jewish "zeal and devotion", often including martyrdom not less painful that Christian martyrdom, rests on mythical, not historical material, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    Thus if such an important event were completely made up then those who knew it was a lie wouldn't have allowed themselves to be martyred (sometimes horrifically) for it.
    Martyrdom developed only in the 2nd century CE whereas the myth of resurrection of Jesus originated in the 1st century. So martyrdom is no indication for the historicity of resurrection, see also the brutal self-castrations of Attis followers who of course hadn´t any certainty of the historical truth of Attis´ castration but simply believed in that ´truth´, just like Christian martyrs of the 2nd century CE and later believed in the ´truth´ of Christian myths. See also the above mentioned Jewish martyrdom, based on simple belief in the truth of Jewish tradition and dogmas and not in any proven historicity of Moses etc.

    As to Jewish martyrdom, 2 Maccabees contains a very impressive narrative about the "mother and her sons", what is supposed to be fictional but certainly reflects a basic disposition in ancient Judaism for martyrdom for the belief in Yahveh. So Christian martyrdom is not unique but rooted in Judaism.

    The ´king´ in the following (fictitious) text is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the hellenistic ruler of Judea at the beginning of the 3rd century BCE.

    2 Maccabees 7

    A Mother and Her Sons Die for Their Faith

    7 On another occasion a Jewish mother and her seven sons were arrested. The king was having them beaten to force them to eat pork. 2 Then one of the young men said,

    What do you hope to gain by doing this? We would rather die than abandon the traditions of our ancestors.

    3 This made the king so furious that he gave orders for huge pans and kettles to be heated red hot, 4 and it was done immediately. Then he told his men to cut off the tongue of the one who had spoken and to scalp him and chop off his hands and feet, while his mother and six brothers looked on. 5 After the young man had been reduced to a helpless mass of breathing flesh, the king gave orders for him to be carried over and thrown into one of the pans. As a cloud of smoke streamed up from the pan, the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die bravely, saying, 6

    The Lord God is looking on and understands our suffering. Moses made this clear when he wrote a song condemning those who had abandoned the Lord. He said,

    The Lord will have mercy on those who serve him.

    7 After the first brother had died in this way, the soldiers started amusing themselves with the second one by tearing the hair and skin from his head. Then they asked him,

    Now will you eat this pork, or do you want us to chop off your hands and feet one by one?
    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    The apostles, who were the ostensible eye-witnesses of the resurrection and contributed to the Gospels, by all accounts testified to its truth and died (in avoidable circumstances) rather than renounce it. They could easily have denied claims by others that Jesus rose from the dead but don't seem to have done, suggesting they were genuine believers. Of course, this does not rule out hallucinations and whatnot.
    I´m sorry but there is no evidence of the historicity of those apostles, too. The literary inventiveness of early Christians authors was surely not less than that of Jewish authors. Like the Moses books, the book of Ester, for example, is completely fashioned out of imagination. It was surely not a big thing for Christian authors to invent figures such as Petrus and James in the same fancying way. Moreover, consider the several Paul epistles which today are recognized as being fakes. Another of many more examples is the last 12 verses of Mark 16 which are suspected by most scholars to be a subsequent insertion into the gospel. This shows that Christian authors, editors, and copyists of those (and later) times had no scruples about consciously deceiving their readers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seumas99 View Post
    The Gospels are, on the face of it, sober and sensible in tone and present themselves as serious historical accounts written by and with the help of eye-witnesses. I'm not saying that makes them true but it does rather set them apart from accounts of Heracles, Dionysos and the other examples.
    Yes, but don´t forget that Christianity stems from Judaism the texts of which are pretending historicity of apparently mythical events in much detail, including complex fancied dialogues and precise descriptions of fancied objects. I mentioned some examples above. So that what you correctly make out as a distinguishing trait of the gospels, when compared to pagan myths, is by no means an indication of historicity but is just a characteristic of Jewish myth making, adopted by Christian authors.
    Last edited by Tammuz; 02-27-2017 at 11:34 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    For scientifically evaluating the Christian dogmas and beliefs, it is helpful to study the so-called ´pagan´ religions in the cultural environment of early Christianity (= comparative history of religions). Then you will find that "zeal and devotion" is by no means dependent on the historicity of events to which zeal and devotion are referring. I already mentioned the Dionysos cult in Delphi where every two years thousands of females used to celebrate the resurrection of their god with zeal and devotion to a degree that with regard to ecstasy and emotionality surely exceeds the degree of Christian devotional behavior by far. However the cause of those celebrations (Dionysos´ resurrection) is to be assessed of course not as historical but as mythical. Another examples are the also mentioned cults of Attis, Tammuz, Osiris etc. and the included celebrations of the resurrection (or revival) of those gods. Many followers of Attis, for example, castrated themselves to become equal to their god and, furthermore, vested themselves in female outfits to come close to the gender of goddess Cybele, the lover of Attis. I would call this an extreme degree of zeal and devotion.

    The same is the case with Judaism. Take the Moses books which were largely written only after the Babylonian exile (that is, in the 5th century BCE), about 800 years after the time when the ´reported´ events are said to be occurred. Most historians today would not assert the historicity of those events. ´Moses´ is seen to be a purely mythical figure, invented by Jewish priests in order to establish a leader figure that symbolizes the identity of Jewish people, as is the case with Abraham. Archeologists Finkelstein and Silberman have found that there is no archeological evidence of such things like ´exodus´ from Egypt and land-taking of Hebrews in Canaan. Also figures like David and Solomon are regarded as mythical not only by Finkelstein/Silberman but by many more historians. The awesome biblical descriptions of Solomon´s temple, palace, and harem, for example, are strongly contradicting the cultural situation in Canaan around 1,000 BCE, when Jerusalem, according to Finkelstein/Silberman, was only a small village with some hundred people.

    So Jewish "zeal and devotion", often including martyrdom not less painful that Christian martyrdom, rests on mythical, not historical material, too.
    I don't think we are doing "science" here. We are providing interpretations of texts that matter to people today. When you use phrases like "scientifically evaluating the Christian dogmas and beliefs", I assume you are doing pseudo-science.

    I prefer the interpretation of the Jewish texts of Samuel and Kings that Baruch Halpern provided in "David's Secret Demons". According to that interpretation, David and Solomon were real and those texts were written around the time of Solomon.

    Edit: Consider Dionysus. Did he exist? Did he resurrect from the dead? Given the existence today of people reporting near-death experiences, we cannot assume Dionysus was purely mythical. Consider what is called today "The Myth of Er" in Plato's Republic. Did Er exist? Did he rise from the dead? Again, given near-death experiences of which we have evidence today, Er may well have lived and reported a near-death experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    I´m sorry but there is no evidence of the historicity of those apostles, too. The literary inventiveness of early Christians authors was surely not less than that of Jewish authors. Like the Moses books, the book of Ester, for example, is completely fashioned out of imagination. It was surely not a big thing for Christian authors to invent figures such as Petrus and James in the same fancying way. Moreover, consider the several Paul epistles which today are recognized as being fakes. Another of many more examples is the last 12 verses of Mark 16 which are suspected by most scholars to be a subsequent insertion into the gospel. This shows that Christian authors, editors, and copyists of those (and later) times had no scruples about consciously deceiving their readers.
    When you say "there is no evidence", this is clearly false. Those texts are themselves evidence that these people existed. What we are presenting here are interpretations of those texts. What I think you mean when you say "there is no evidence" is the following: There is no evidence that you accept. That is an entirely different thing from saying there is no evidence.

    I see no benefit in denying the existence of these people except to short circuit a discussion of the texts. I agree with you that much may have been added to these texts later and they contain inaccuracies.
    Last edited by YesNo; 02-27-2017 at 12:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    For scientifically evaluating the Christian dogmas and beliefs, it is helpful to study the so-called ´pagan´ religions in the cultural environment of early Christianity (= comparative history of religions). Then you will find that "zeal and devotion" is by no means dependent on the historicity of events to which zeal and devotion are referring. I already mentioned the Dionysos cult in Delphi where every two years thousands of females used to celebrate the resurrection of their god with zeal and devotion to a degree that with regard to ecstasy and emotionality surely exceeds the degree of Christian devotional behavior by far. However the cause of those celebrations (Dionysos´ resurrection) is to be assessed of course not as historical but as mythical. Another examples are the also mentioned cults of Attis, Tammuz, Osiris etc. and the included celebrations of the resurrection (or revival) of those gods. Many followers of Attis, for example, castrated themselves to become equal to their god and, furthermore, vested themselves in female outfits to come close to the gender of goddess Cybele, the lover of Attis. I would call this an extreme degree of zeal and devotion.
    That's fair enough but the worship of Dionysos at this time relied on a mainly symbolic story that nobody claimed to have actually witnessed, the life of Jesus was within living memory and ostensibly testified to by several eye-witnesses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Martyrdom developed only in the 2nd century CE whereas the myth of resurrection of Jesus originated in the 1st century.
    Tacitus, the non-Christian historian, wrote about the persecution of Christians in the first century under Nero. Furthermore Acts was written within the first century and mentions several martyrs, the author would not have been able to get away with such a blatant lie without someone contradicting him. It's true that someone might have called him out and we just haven't heard about it but if there was no Christian martyrdom this early why would the author have put it in his historical account of the early church?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    I´m sorry but there is no evidence of the historicity of those apostles, too.
    As YesNo pointed out the gospels themselves, written well within living memory of the events, are evidence. Additionally there are many early Christian authors, some also writing within living memory of the men's lives (Papias of Hierapolis springs to mind), who provide accounts of the lives of the apostles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    The literary inventiveness of early Christians authors was surely not less than that of Jewish authors. Like the Moses books, the book of Ester, for example, is completely fashioned out of imagination. It was surely not a big thing for Christian authors to invent figures such as Petrus and James in the same fancying way.
    It would have been a huge thing for Christian authors to invent such figures. It is barely credible that men who devoted their lives in the scholarly service of a movement which founded itself on the integrity of its facts would simply make up figures out of the blue. This appears truer when you consider that there must have been early leaders in the church and missionaries such as "Petrus" or it wouldn't have grown and spread. Why make up fictional characters when there must have been actual characters to write about?

    Legends are generally shrouded in ambiguity and time; they seldom grow up into cults quickly, especially not when their leader was ignominiously executed (as testified to by various early writers, including non-Christian ones). About Jesus, however, there is a wealth of contemporary information (there is plentiful evidence that the four canonical Gospels were written within a few decades of Jesus' death) almost incomparable to any other historical figure of his day. According to Roman historian Suetonius, Christianity had spread to Rome by 49 AD, only a couple of decades after its foundation. It's hard to imagine that a religion founded on myths would be spreading so far when the events it lied about happened so recently. Also, given the fundamentally blasphemous nature of Christianity to the Jews, if there had been any evidence that what Christianity taught was a lie the Jews would have proclaimed it far and wide, however Josephus (c. 37-100 AD) writes of Jesus' death and subsequent appearances as if he couldn't deny that they happened. The truth is that theories that Jesus and the apostles didn't exist didn't spring up until a significantly long time after they are supposed to have lived; no source from the first century or so that I'm aware of denied the basic historical facts of Christ and the early church.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Here is Wikipedia's description of Pilate: "Once in his post he offended the religious sensibilities of his subjects, leading to harsh criticism from Philo, and many decades later, Josephus. According to Josephus c. AD 93, Pilate was deposed and sent to Rome by Lucius Vitellius after harshly suppressing a Samaritan uprising, arriving just after the death of Tiberius which occurred on 16 March in AD 37." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontius_Pilate

    Regarding why the Gospels present a different view of Pilate, I agree with the following also in that Wikipedia article: "Pilate's reluctance to execute Jesus in the gospels has been seen by Anchor Bible Dictionary and critical scholars as reflecting the authors' agenda. It has thus been argued that gospel accounts place the blame on the Jews, not on Rome, in line with the authors' alleged goal of making peace with the Roman Empire and vilifying the Jews."
    That makes a lot of sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I might have this wrong. However, I am interested in the topic more than I was earlier. I should check not only Descartes texts but how he influenced others. Basically I wonder if this is a source of our current view of ourselves as individuals or not.
    He certainly seems to have kick-started the western philosophical tradition. Perhaps though his reasoning is a symptom of this view of ourselves as individuals rather than the cause.
    Last edited by Seumas99; 02-27-2017 at 05:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I assume Jesus was an historical figure, because there does not appear to be enough evidence to convince people that he wasn't real:.
    The burden of proof lies on the claimers of JC´s existence, not on the sceptics. The former can present only the gospels (which cannot be acknowledged as historical sources in a scientific sense) and some passages in non-Christian sources, e.g. Tacitus, Josephus, and Pliny, all of them however being suspected by many scholars to be Christian interpolations, that is, fakes. Christian literature is full of proven fakes, of which some Paul epistles are the most famous ones, therefore it is no wonder that many people - like me - have a deep distrust into Christian sources, especially in such that ascribe the entirely implausible ability of miracle making to their protagonist, an ability that in those and earlier times was also ascribed to other figures. So one can suppose that Christian authors adopted the miracle feature from other traditions (just as they did regarding resurrection) in order to make their hero competitive to rivaling cults (see also my mentioning of the parallel to Dionysos in the following reply). The gospels picture JC´s advancement as being dependent primarily on his miracle making and only secondarily on his teachings. So if one subtracts this implausible feature from the JC narrative, the whole construct implodes. However you are seemingly recognizing the historicity of it:

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I also assume that anything miraculous Jesus did, he did as long as other people have done, or claim to have done, something similar even if it goes against physical models of the universe. .
    Elsewhere you write:

    (...) I hold to the stance that non-measurable experiences should be treated with severe scepticism as they cannot be proven.

    So you seem to trust into an apparently mythical feature (water-to-wine-transformation) while you seem to basically distrust in "non-measurable experiences".

    (1)

    Take the narrative about transforming water into wine - it does not only contradict science but is simply an adoption of a much older legend about Greek god Dionysos who was supposed to do the same on 5 january every year. Moreover in Egypt there was in some tradition the belief that on 6 january the water of the Nile was changed into wine. Therefore I wrote yesterday that for interpreting Christian mythology it is important to know something about ´pagan´ religions in those and earlier times. From those religions Christian authors took over most, if not all, of the features and capabilities ascribed to JC, who seems to be something like a patchwork figure.

    (2)

    As to your above cited statement on "non-measurable experiences", I see some logical problems. My ´re-writing´ of your statement is of course not meant sarcastically but is an attempt to uncover the hidden presuppositions in that statement.

    (a)

    Your statement is apparently adressed to reports of such experiences by other people, not by yourself, since I suppose that your own non-measurable experiences are not subjected to your distrust resp. are not "treated with severe sceptizism" by yourself. So you distinguish between own and foreign "non-measurable experiences". What is the object of your sceptizism is therefore not "non-measurable experience" in itself, but the credibility of people (that is, other people than you) who declare such experiences as being real. Therefore, I think, your statement could be re-written like this:

    (...) I hold to the stance that the credibility of other people than me, when asserting non-measurable experiences, should be severely regarded with suspicion as these experiences cannot be proven.


    (b)

    Moreover, I don´t think that you really mean that every proposition that expresses a "non-measurable experience" is suspected by you in the same way. If someone says "I´m sad about this" or "I feel lucky now" or "I like this song", you would probably not treat these propositions "with severe scepticism", since you are familiar with such feelings in own contexts. Of course it is possible that someone is just lying when making such propositions, but you would, I suppose, basically tend to trust in the honesty and therefore factuality of such propositions, even if they cannot be proven.

    Hence your distrust as expressed in the quote seems to not be rooted in the circumstance that propositions of non-measurable experiences cannot be proven but refers to a special category of experiences. These are experiences of a kind with which you are not familar as you are familiar, for example, with experiences I mentioned above. So if someone proposes a non-measurable experience which is in some way familiar to you, you tend to trust in the proposition, whereas if the proposed experience is not familiar to you, you tend to treat it with scepticism.

    However one should distinct here between unfamiliar experiences which have some relevance to your conception of the world, and unfamiliar experiences which don´t. For example, in case a proposed non-measurable experience consists in a kind of non-personal mystic ecstasy which is evaluated by the experiencer as an experience of ultimate truth, you would treat the proposition with "severe sceptizism" because it contradicts in some way your conception of the world (or of human mind).

    Therefore, I think, your statement could again be re-written like this:

    (...) I hold to the stance that the credibility of other people than me, when asserting non-measurable experiences which contradict my conception of the world and of human mind, should be severely regarded with suspicion as these experiences cannot be proven.

    Regarding the example mentioned above ("non-personal mystic ecstasy which is evaluated by the experiencer as an experience of ultimate truth"), many people see such propositions in the light of their own experiences that go along with the proposed one, and therefore tend to basically trust in the credibility of the proposition. Of course it is always possible that such a proposition is a lie (for some reason) or an exaggeration in the sense that the proposing person holds an experience to be mystic that is - compared to authentic mystic experience - merely an approach or a pre-stage. In spiritual literature three (subtle, causal, nondual) or sometimes more levels of transcendent experiences are described, with an increasing degree of completeness of enlightenment.

    Hence a scientific treatment of such experiences is based on (1) own spiritual experience, (2) a systematic elaboration of consciousness levels, and (3) elaborated criteria, derived from (2), by which reported experiences can be evaluated.


    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    What I don't think is true is that the Jews sent Jesus to Pilate..
    I agree under the condition that JC really existed and the story of his crucifixion is basically true. But no matter if JC and the story are historical or not: for Christian authors it was crucial to depict Jews instead of Romans as being guilty of JC´s death because the gospels were destined as propaganda material largely for Roman readership. For this purpose it seemed to be wise not to charge Romans but Jews with the demand of JC´s death.
    Last edited by Tammuz; 02-28-2017 at 12:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    The burden of proof lies on the claimers of JC´s existence, not on the sceptics. The former can present only the gospels (which cannot be acknowledged as historical sources in a scientific sense) and some passages in non-Christian sources, e.g. Tacitus, Josephus, and Pliny, all of them however being suspected by many scholars to be Christian interpolations, that is, fakes. Christian literature is full of proven fakes, of which some Paul epistles are the most famous ones, therefore it is no wonder that many people - like me - have a deep distrust into Christian sources, especially in such that ascribe the entirely implausible ability of miracle making to their protagonist, an ability that in those and earlier times was also ascribed to other figures. So one can suppose that Christian authors adopted the miracle feature from other traditions (just as they did regarding resurrection) in order to make their hero competitive to rivaling cults (see also my mentioning of the parallel to Dionysos in the following reply). The gospels picture JC´s advancement as being dependent primarily on his miracle making and only secondarily on his teachings. So if one subtracts this implausible feature from the JC narrative, the whole construct implodes.
    I remember looking at the issue of whether Jesus existed before. I think the non-believer and biblical scholar, Bart Ehrman, in his book "Did Jesus Exist: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth" resolved this question for me: Yes, Jesus did exist. Here is a YouTube video of Ehrman reading from selections of his book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnybQxIgfPw

    The problem with resurrection stories is that they may well represent historical facts given the occurrence today of people who report near-death experiences which are resurrection stories. That is one cannot say Dionysus or Er or Jesus could not have existed because of the impossible resurrection story. Given the reports of near-death experiences, there may be historical figures behind all of those accounts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post

    Elsewhere you write:

    (...) I hold to the stance that non-measurable experiences should be treated with severe scepticism as they cannot be proven.
    I reserve the right to change my mind and understand things better than I might have expressed them in the past. I consider myself to be an empiricist and a skeptic and because of that I am a generic panentheist. For me a measurement is not just something one can assign a number to, but it is also a case study or some report of what someone experienced. If someone says they had a near-death experience, their report is, for me, a measurement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    So you seem to trust into an apparently mythical feature (water-to-wine-transformation) while you seem to basically distrust in "non-measurable experiences".

    (1)

    Take the narrative about transforming water into wine - it does not only contradict science but is simply an adoption of a much older legend about Greek god Dionysos who was supposed to do the same on 5 january every year. Moreover in Egypt there was in some tradition the belief that on 6 january the water of the Nile was changed into wine. Therefore I wrote yesterday that to interpret Christian mythology it is important to know something about ´pagan´ religions in those and earlier times. From those religions Christian authors took over most, if not all, of the features and capabilities ascribed to JC, who seems to be something like a patchwork figure.
    Skeptics, as I use the word, do not believe in "science". They do not believe in "laws" of nature any more than they believe in "sacred" texts, however, both models of nature and religious texts are valuable to gain understanding about the truth of reality and how we should be living. Neither scientific models nor religious texts can completely objectify reality because reality contains subjectivity. Measurements can "contradict science" because the models we come up are not complete.

    I agree with you that more ancient cultures reported miracles similar to the ones reported about Jesus. That doesn't mean Jesus did not also do those miracles. The problem seems to be that you don't think the original report was accurate because it was a "miracle" which contradicts a law of nature and so cannot happen. Again, I am a skeptic. I don't believe in laws of nature. I don't throw out measurements because they do not fit some scientific model.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    (2)

    As to your above cited statement on "non-measurable experiences", I see some logical problems. My ´re-writing´ of your statement is of course not meant sarcastically but is an attempt to uncover the hidden presuppositions in that statement.
    That's fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    (a)

    Your statement is apparently adressed to reports of such experiences by other people, not by yourself, since I suppose that your own non-measurable experiences are not subjected to your distrust resp. are not "treated with severe sceptizism" by yourself. So you distinguish between own and foreign "non-measurable experiences". What is the object of your sceptizism is therefore not "non-measurable experience" in itself, but the credibility of people (that is, other people than you) who declare such experiences as being real. Therefore, I think, your statement could be re-written like this:

    (...) I hold to the stance that the credibility of other people than me, when asserting non-measurable experiences, should be severely regarded with suspicion as these experiences cannot be proven.
    People could be lying. I give them the benefit of the doubt until I find out I shouldn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    (b)

    Moreover, I don´t think that you really mean that every proposition that expresses a "non-measurable experience" is suspected by you in the same way. If someone says "I´m sad about this" or "I feel lucky now" or "I like this song", you would probably not treat these propositions "with severe scepticism", since you are familiar with such feelings in own contexts. Of course it is possible that someone is just lying when making such propositions, but you would, I suppose, basically tend to trust in the honesty and therefore factuality of such propositions, even if they cannot be proven.
    If someone makes a statement saying they are sad, I take that as the person recording a measurement of how they feel. By stating it, they "measured" their experience. I assume they are not lying until I find out differently. Since other people, including myself, experience similar things, my confidence increases that such things can be felt.

    Suppose someone tells me that there is some law of nature saying that people do not have free will and everything they (we) experience is an illusion. They cite some law of nature to justify this (much like someone might quote the bible). Then I look at the measurement of someone reporting sadness and I become skeptical of their law of nature because I know such models cannot be complete.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Hence your distrust as expressed in the quote seems to not be rooted in the circumstance that propositions of non-measurable experiences cannot be proven but refers to a special category of experiences. These are experiences of a kind with which you are not familar as you are familiar, for example, with experiences I mentioned above. So if someone proposes a non-measurable experience which is in some way familiar to you, you tend to trust in the proposition, whereas if the proposed experience is not familiar to you, you tend to treat it with scepticism.

    However one should distinct here between unfamiliar experiences which have some relevance to your conception of the world, and unfamiliar experiences which don´t. For example, in case a proposed non-measurable experience consists in a kind of non-personal mystic ecstasy which is evaluated by the experiencer as an experience of ultimate truth, you would treat the proposition with "severe sceptizism" because it contradicts in some way your conception of the world (or of human mind).
    I would treat reports of someone's subjectivity, whether that is a mystical experience or not, as a "measurement". It is an objectification of their subjectivity. It is a piece of data. If other people, or myself, have similar experiences that just confirms the accuracy of the original measurement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Therefore, I think, your statement could again be re-written like this:

    (...) I hold to the stance that the credibility of other people than me, when asserting non-measurable experiences which contradict my conception of the world and of human mind, should be severely regarded with suspicion as these experiences cannot be proven.

    Regarding the example mentioned above ("non-personal mystic ecstasy which is evaluated by the experiencer as an experience of ultimate truth"), many people see such propositions in the light of their own experiences that go along with the proposed one, and therefore tend to basically trust in the credibility of the proposition. Of course it is always possible that such a proposition is a lie (for some reason) or an exaggeration in the sense that the proposing person holds an experience to be mystic that is - compared to authentic mystic experience - merely an approach or a pre-stage. In spiritual literature three (subtle, causal, nondual) or sometimes more levels of transcendent experiences are described, with an increasing degree of completeness of enlightenment.

    Hence a scientific treatment of such experiences is based on (1) own spiritual experience, (2) a systematic elaboration of consciousness levels, and (3) elaborated criteria, derived from (2), by which reported experiences can be evaluated.
    I am not following this, but, even if there is no lying going on, a measurement, as I am calling these reports, are not complete. There is more going on, but I do get something from the measurement.

    The way I look at the miracles that Jesus performed I assume they occurred unless I have reasons to doubt them. A scientific model may be a reason to doubt the miracle, but those models look at reality without considering consciousness and the miracle involves consciousness. Those models are not helpful. My confidence increases if I hear someone else reporting similar events.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    I agree. Jews - instead of Romans - were depicted as being guilty of JC´s death because the gospels were destined as propaganda material largely for Roman readership. For this purpose it seemed to be wise not to charge Romans but Jews with the demand of JC´s death.
    When I say Pilate was solely responsible for Jesus death, I am interpreting Pilate as staging a lot of what was reported in the Gospels for his own perverse pleasure. He was the original anti-semite. I don't think the writers of those Gospels were lying about the events. They just misinterpreted them the way Pilate wanted them to be misinterpreted. They were fooled by Pilate. I am assuming these events occurred. I am assuming that those early Christians were truthful. My view of Pilate's character is very negative and I might be wrong in all of this.

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