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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The "Life, Death And Rebirth Deities" and Fertility Cults

The synagogue at Hamat Tiberias had a long and varied history. The remains, on view today, belong to the Severus synagogue, built between 337 and 286 B.C.E. The most beautiful feature of the synagogue is the mosaic floor, the oldest discovered in Israel. The mosaic has three panels. The central panel has a large zodiac, with Helios at the center steering his celestial chariot towards the sun.
~*~
Many early religions were fertility cults. Fertility of crops, livestock and soil was extremely important to early humans and still is today. They recognized that their very existence relied upon whether or not the soil was fertile, whether it rained too little or too much, and whether their herds reproduced enough to supply them with meat, milk, hides and the plethora of other objects that they made from animal bones, teeth and internal organs. Therefore there were many gods who were prayed to, worshipped and revered in order to attempt to assure human survival. In many of these ancient religions, a fertility god was a male deity who was responsible for ensuring the fertility of not only crops and livestock but also human fertility.

So, these gods were worshipped in order to assure the fertility of crops and livestock, and to ensure the fertility of humans. Human fertility was always a major concern to the ancients as they would have needed to replace their numbers quickly in times when the human lifespan was likely to be cut short by marauding animals, accidents, wars and disease. These male fertility gods were often known for the use of sexual suggestion. Sometimes they were depicted with an erect phallus and other times more discreet symbols were used. Many fertility gods were "life-death-rebirth" deities, who were associated with the concept of the continuation of life, the new harvest, the sun and the progression of the seasons. As such they were also symbols of renewal, fertility and abundance.

Frazer and Harrison in "The Golden Bough" argued that myths and the subsequent god beliefs, were really echoes of rituals, and that all rituals have as their purpose the manipulation of natural phenomena by means of sympathetic magic. Sympathetic magic is based on the metaphysical belief that "like affects like." Sympathetic magic, or imitative magic, is a type of magic based on imitation or correspondence. Imitation involves using symbols or effigies to effect the environment of people, or the people themselves. Correspondence is based on the idea that one can influence something based on its relationship to another thing. So a ritual of sympathetic magic would be one where an action upon one object can cause an analogous effect on another object, without an apparent causal link between the two objects.

"Life, death, and rebirth deities" symbolized the human desire to positively effect the fecundity of the natural world through imitation and correspondence. Or, to positively effect the natural world through sympathetic magic. What I mean by this is that a deity which symbolically depicted the continuation of life, that is a "life, death and rebirth deity", was a form of sympathetic magic. Mankind believed he could positively influence the processes of the natural world by imitating it through symbolic ritual. This category of "life, death and rebirth deities" is interpreted in a couple of ways. One way might be labelled the naturalistic approach that seeks to explain "life, death, and rebirth deities” by observing their symbolic parallels with natural processes. Another way seeks to explain such deities in terms of individual spiritual transformation.

There have been historically, many examples of "life, death and rebirth deities." Here are examples of just a few.
  • Akkadian "Life, death and rebirth deities"
    1.Tammuz
  • Egyptian "life, death and rebirth deities"
    1.Isis
    2.Osiris
  • Greek "life, death and rebirth deities"
    1.Adonis
    2.Cybele
    3.Dionysus
  • Hindu "life, death and rebirth deities"
    1.Brahma
    2.Vishnu
    3.Siva
  • Norse "life, death and rebirth deities"
    1.Balder
    2.Gullveig
  • Persian "life, death and rebirth deity"
    1.Mithras
  • Phrygian "life, death and rebirth deity"
    1.Attis
  • Roman "life, death and rebirth deities"
    1.Aeneas
    2.Bacchus
  • Christian "life, death and rebirth deity"
    1.Jesus



In the naturalistic approach, the symbols and rituals associated with the "life, death and rebirth deities” are considered as examples of sympathetic magic where human beings attempt to influence or depict the processes of the natural world such as:

  • 1. the seasons
  • 2. the harvest
  • 3. the sun
  • 4. the movement of the sun through the sky
  • 5. the continuation of life
  • 6. human activity associated with the changing seasons
  • 7. and/or the sun as it moved through the astrological constellations.



These natural events and processes were believed to effect the fertility and abundance of life on earth upon which human survival depended. It is debatable as to whether ancient peoples worshipped their "life, death and rebirth deities” as supernatural forces, which existed outside of the natural world. They may have symbolically represented mysterious and wondrous processes, which occurred within the natural world. A natural world over which humans wished to exercise a degree of control which would be favourable to their survival. From the naturalistic approach, these "life death and rebirth deities" are symbols of fertility and the renewal of seasonal life as depicted by the movement of the sun through the sky and its correlation with the seasons. These deities as symbols of natural processes have been personified for a mass audience.

"The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun."- Thomas Paine

In the spiritual transformation version, the "life, death and rebirth deities" are viewed as symbols of spiritual transformation. In some cases, the deities are considered to exist in reality and not merely as "spiritual allegory." The deities, which were believed to have existed in the natural world, then as part of their "birth, death and rebirth" cycle, then go on to be reborn in a supernatural world.

What is interesting to me, is that atheists, skeptics or agnostics tend to view ALL of the "life, death and rebirth deities" according to the same model, that is, the naturalistic approach. Whereas theists seem to use the naturalistic approach for ALL the "life, death and rebirth deities" which are NOT part of their religion, and use the spiritual transformation approach for the deity in whom they have religious faith.



The Sun, the ultimate fertility symbol, "the light of the world", through which all life is made possible.


Link

53 Comments:

Blogger Goader said...

While reading the article I am struck with the thought, “What am I?” I feel a need to define some terms e.g. theist, atheist, monotheist, polytheist etc. before I can answer the question. The first observation that came to mind was comparing polytheism and monotheism. Though polytheistic religions abound, the vast majority of people seem to believe in monotheism. (I will not confuse the issue with the trinity and considerate it monotheism.) That being the case, the observation in the final paragraph seems bias toward atheists, skeptics, and agnostics.

If most believe in one god or God, yet the observation in the last paragraph is that believers accept theirs as supernatural and all others as natural, and then the observation seems skewed to trap theists as elitists. In other words, the author framed the observation such that atheists, skeptics, and agnostics have the rational side, leaving theists with no choice but the irrational one.

So, to clarify, does the observation in the final paragraph say atheists, skeptics, and agnostics believe all gods are natural and that theists believe some are spiritual and some are natural? If so, then is the point of the final paragraph that theists are elitists?

Since I did not know how to answer what I believed, I took the authoritative “Belief-O-Matic” test.

22/3/07 1:05 am  
Blogger breakerslion said...

Speaking for this atheist, I believe that all gods sprang from a human head, like Minerva from the head of Zeus, or something. :-)

The cult of Mithras is quite interesting when juxtaposed with early Jesusism. Can't call it Christianity, because Constantine hadn't proclaimed himself Emperor of the Earth yet, and taken the formula to the ancient equivalent of the Patent Office.

Back to Mithras. There was a belief that he existed outside the known universe, and was responsible for moving the heavens (precession of the Equinox stuff). That view does not completely fit the usual description of gods in the "naturalistic" category.

22/3/07 2:13 am  
Anonymous ted said...

The other thing I find interesting here Beep, is the way theists seem to push god further and further away in order to keep him relevant.

I can't really explain how that's supposed to work, but I've been told recently that god exists outside of space and time but that that notion is not an abstraction, or the simple ascribing of a supernatural power to the unknown.

22/3/07 3:39 am  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

I wonder to what extent we (including freethinkers) read back into pre-historic beliefs our own literalist orientation that stems from Christianity. I remember reading in Wallace Budge's books on Egyptian religion that the word we translate as god, is "neter" which means "force" or "archetype", not exactly what a Babble puncher or even a good ol' atheist means by the word. Do the Ojibwa consider Nanabush the Trickster to be as real as Christers consider say Judas Iscariot? Don't think so. I think literal-mindeness - which I see as a form of reification - came in later and this is the root of much of the problem we have with religion. See it as myth to explain the world or give meaning to existence and you are fine. See it as real, indeed even more real than the chair that I am sitting in, and you are in deep trouble. The killing begins at this point.

22/3/07 3:48 am  
Blogger under_the_mercy said...

Ted:

Its not that we push God farther and farther away, we simply realize more and more as we go through life what "God" really means, a god who is limited is not a god, but a glorified man i.e. zeus.

What is truly illogical is to worship a god who is not God.

22/3/07 4:00 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

I keep coming back to that quote you used. How can Christianity be a parody of Sun worship?

22/3/07 5:33 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Mercy:

When I was a youngster, I was taught that god was very real and was right here with us. Now I find that he exists beyond space and time and it seems to be the "official" position these days.

So how do you find a god who has been pushed right out of this universe to exist beyond space and time? I wouldn't have thought it possible.

Have a read of my latest Mercy, I'd be interested in your thoughts (sorry for the shameless plug there Beep).

22/3/07 5:35 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

Sadie,

Christianity is an extremely Romanized religion. The two biggest cults in the Roman Empire were Mithraism (or Sol Invictus) and Magna Mater.

A huge amount of material about Christianity comes from Mithraism and Magna Mater (Easter, f'rex, is from Magna Mater)

Mithraism -- from which Christianity got the virgin birth, visitation by three kings, December 25th as Jesus' birthday, a divine sun dying and being reborn for human redemption against the forces of absolute evil, etc., etc. -- was a solar cult.

A lot of scholars -- non-religious ones, almost obviously -- believe that Christianity is a Judaized form of Mithraism. The numerous points of connection between the two religions (and Mithraism is several centuries older than Christianity) make it reasonably clear that Christianity borrowed heavily from Mithraism.

Thus, some could say it's a parody of a solar cult. (I don't think this, I should note. I think Mithraism is no more "true" or sensible than Christianity.)

22/3/07 6:26 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Chris,
Huh. OK. I think Christianity dates further back than the origins of Mithraism so maybe Mithraism borrowed from Christianity?
Either way--it would be foolish to believe both religions appeal to the same kind of people. Mithraism was closed to women, right? And it was a secret organization--mainly to the rich? Or warriors? Christianity appealed to everyone and primarily the poor. Mary is a key person in Christianity--a woman! I just don't really see the connections. I don't know much about it though...
*baffled*

22/3/07 7:08 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

Sadie,

Mithraism, in Rome, as a mystery religion can be traced fairly conclusively to at least the 1st century BCE so, generally, no. It is admittedly difficult to trace the origin of mystery religions, tho', for the sort of obvious reason. However, by the time of Jesus' life -- or, more significantly, the advent of Christianity, Mithraism had been around for a while and the Hellenized Jews that wrote the New Testament would have had a lot of contact with it. (I could go on about Persian Mithraism, which shared a lot with Roman Mithraism, but the links between Roman and Persian Mithraism are controversial. However, 1st century CE Jews would have had access to both Persian and Roman Mithraism.)

I'm not saying that Christianity is Mithraism. You're right. It was a pretty tight cult, all male, and generally only open to the rich (who could afford the expensive sacrifices required to enter the cult) or soldiers (the unit would pay for the initiatory rites). But that doesn't stop Chrsitianity from being influenced by Mithraism.

It is my belief that the reason why Christianity was so successful is because it resembled Mithraism without the steep barriers to get into Mithraism. People liked Mithraism but it was secretive, expensive and open to men only. Christianity, in contrast, was a lot LIKE Mithraism but open to everyone and cheap. And once the Jewishness of Mithraism was taken away -- specifically the dietary restrictions and circumcision -- a lot of people who might have WANTED to be Mithras cultists instead became Jesus cultists because they could while still keeping their pork and not getting snipped.

22/3/07 8:04 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

Sadie,

Also, Roman Mithraism had it's origin in Cicilia. Tarsus was in Cicilia. Paul the Evangelist was from Tarsus. Paul especially had access to Mithraism. I doubt you need me to tell you how important Paul was to the early development of Christianity. ;)

22/3/07 8:09 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Lots of interesting reactions. When the coffee kicks in, I will attempt to comment on some of them.

22/3/07 8:38 am  
Blogger Goader said...

Ted—

I am not speaking as a theist necessarily, since I am not quite sure where I fit in the atheist, theist, skeptic, agnostic spectrum. Due to the seemingly infinite complexity of the universe, I can only speculate that some being, entity, or force is somehow involved. I tend to believe also that there is a connection between "it" and me whatever it is; and that it is more than the order that binds the universe, rather there is a personal connection as well. I realize my concept of God is nebulous at best. I suppose it is no blurrier than any conceptions I have of the very big or the infinitely small.

I want to address your notion that believers relegate gods or God ever further away to keep them relevant. I suppose you mean since science is no closer to explaining God rationally, that the theist rationalizes his or her belief by fitting it to the current scientific knowledge. Let me try to connect my previous blurry concept of God with your rationalization theory.

Consider the analogy of seeing ever smaller microscopic details based on the current state of the art equipment. That is, the smallest detail “seen” only reveals some other even smaller element just beyond perception. Science then pushes the boundary of knowledge to its edge and awaits the next technological advance to reveal what is beyond that new edge. I think you see where I am going with this, if the model works for science why not for seeking God.

If I might add a caveat that the invisible nature of God is akin to the accepted knowledge of four basic forces in nature: strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electrostatic, and gravitational.

22/3/07 8:53 am  
Anonymous remy said...

Without Paul there would be no Christianty. It really ought to be called Paulism or even Paulianity.

22/3/07 9:04 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Mithraism actually hales originally from India, where it was transported to Persia, & then adopted into Roman culture.
It underwent a series of changes as it traveled though. As most religions do.
There's a great deal of parallelism between the 2, & there's really not enough archaeological evidence to support wholesale borrowings on either side.

22/3/07 9:14 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

There's a great deal of parallelism between the 2, & there's really not enough archaeological evidence to support wholesale borrowings on either side.

That's one of the most popular interpretations of the data.

One of the rarely discussed matters, though, is why it's controversial. From my readings, there's a big ol' elephant in the room -- that a large number of archeologists specializing in the 1st century CE are, themselves, Christian or Jewish and they have theological motivations for an interpretation of the data away from links between Christianity and any other religion.

This might come off as a little conspiratological, but the extent to which archeology is dominated by people who are archeologists for religious groups, funded by religions, beholden to religious organizations is very high when it comes to Near East archeology in the early Christian or late Second Temple period. There is a strong tendency for Christian archeologists -- who tend to fall into research in this period -- to support an interpretation of Christianity that links it solely with Judiasm (and, likewise, there are a lot of archeologists who refuse to acknowledge a connection between Judiasm and Zoroastrianism, and attribute Judiasm to purely Hebrew influences).

22/3/07 9:32 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

goader

RE: "If most believe in one god or God, yet the observation in the last paragraph is that believers accept theirs as supernatural and all others as natural, and then the observation seems skewed to trap theists as elitists."

I wouldn't consider that theists consider themselves elitists for THAT specific reason. However, I do think that the majority of people who have chosen a religion, do consider that they are favoured by whichever god belief they have chosen. If by being "favoured" one considers oneself as "better" than other people, or as "more worthy" than other people, then I think that this religious shoe fits.

I don't think that considering that your god is supernatural is either an elitist position or a non-elitist position. I just think it is inaccurate.

What the article is discussing is how we approach the issue of the existence of god or gods.

There are basically 2 approaches which I mentioned in the article. There may be more, but these are the 2 which stand out to me.

As soon as one asks the question, "What is the origin of religion and the origin of god beliefs?" - most people go down either of 2 paths. Sometimes they use both models to examine religion, sometimes they switch and change according to their purposes.

The 2 approaches I am refering to are 1. the naturalistic approach and 2. the "spiritual" or the supernaturalist approach.

Using the naturalistic approach one looks at the rituals, customs, characteristics and attributes of the religion and the god belief in light of 1. the culture in which the religion was formed. 2. the time period in which the religion was formed. 3. the geo-political influences when the religion was formed. 4. and crucially, what was known about the natural world at the time period.

Someone using the naturalistic model or approach in an attempt to understand the foundations of religions can then, after a huge data collection process, compare and contrast various religions. Discuss where they are similar, or dissimilar, or compare them against each other. Not in an attempt to see which one is right, or which one is wrong, but to develop an understanding of their origins. This is pretty much what happens in a comparative religion course.

What is usually found under these circumstances is that religions, and subsequent god beliefs,reflect their origins. Their origins go a long way to explaining why they believed, in a religious context, what they believed.

Now onto the supernaturalist approach or the spiritualist approach. What model do they use? Sometimes they will use the naturalistic model to explain other religions, but they will RARELY use it on their own.

They are less likely to use the naturalistic model or approach on their own religion, as it may be interpreted as "testing faith."

They are left in the position of believing that as their religion is "the true and correct one", that automatically all the other religions are by default, false. (or at least, inaccurate representations of their own true belief.)

Using the supernaturalist model, they may be left with the concept that ALL these gods existed as supernatural entities, but that as their entity is "the right and true one" that all the others are evil representations of other supernatural entities. This position requires faith and very little knowledge or understanding of other religions.

In fact, this is generally the excuse used by many religious leaders throughout history, that the other gods are just as "real" as theirs is, but they are the gods sent by the devil to test the faith of those who follow the one and only true religion. (Insert your religion of preference here.)

So the supernaturalist or spiritualist approach is basically an approach from a pre-existing bias. The pre-existing bias is - my god and my religion is the right one, therefore automatically all the others are wrong. All the others are figments of human thought, or examples of evil supernatural forces working in the world, but mine isn't.

It isn't much of a model whereby one can accumuate knowledge about other religions. It is essentially a model biased towards one's own religious belief.

22/3/07 10:25 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

larry

RE: "I wonder to what extent we (including freethinkers) read back into pre-historic beliefs our own literalist orientation that stems from Christianity."

This is a very valid point in my opinion also. To what extent are any of us retrofitting the modern mind and modern knowledge ONTO AND INTO the minds and thoughts of ancient peoples?

I suspect that ancient religions were based in a human desire to have some control on the natural world. I suspect this because mankind in modern times also spends an incredible amount of time in trying to control his enviroment so that it suits his supposed needs.

So, I look at religions in the context of not what was considered knowledge to them, but what is NOT evidenced as knowledge. That is, what didn't they know.

It's a fair bet, for example, that the ancient egyptians did not know of the vastness of the universe. It is a fair bet that they did not know that disease was caused by bacteria or viruses. It is a fair bet that they didn't know that women produced eggs. It is a fair bet that they didn't know that the world was just one planet in amongst billions of other planets and stars. And so on. It is a fair bet to say that their very existence and livelihood depended upon their knowledge of the natural world, the seasons and the part that the sun played in the progression of the seasons.

The ancients, probably right up to the invention of gas light and then electricity, were all dependent upon the light of the sun and "the light from the sun in the form of fire."

Ancient religions and modern ones are obsessed with the concept of "light" and the use of the word in their religions. To me this is understandable, if one recognizes how crucial light was to survival. Therefore "light" was a sign of goodness, a promise of life, fertility and abundance and to be equated with the gods.

Darkness, when man was most vulnerable, was seen as the opposite of this. Darkness was an entity or substance which was NOT conducive to survival. Darkness, was therefore the personification of "evil."

This concept of "light" as mentioned often in most religions is extremely interesting to me. It provides the basis for the system of opposites upon which many religions are based. That is, the concept of good vs evil.

So, the observations of night and day, may have been the beginnings of the concept of dualism. That ancient peoples had little scientific understanding of the sun or the moon, could have meant that they interpreted them as entities with thoughts. And it is obvious that this is what ancient man did, as just a quick look at any of the ancient constellation maps will indicate that these "heavenly objects" were personified with the attributes of humans and/or animals. There is even a whole set of constellation maps where the constellations are drawn and interpreted to represent the christian religion.

Perhaps also, people forget that it has only been in the last couple of hundred years that mankind has had a reliable light source independent of the sun's light. So, it is little wonder to me that ancient religions focused upon the "life giving qualities" of the sun and saw this object as a god and the creator of all life.

It would be of little surprise to me also, if this concept of "light equals good" and "dark equals bad", did not flow into religions which developed later.

22/3/07 10:58 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

ted:

RE: "The other thing I find interesting here Beep, is the way theists seem to push god further and further away in order to keep him relevant."

God is everwhere, (omnipresent), but exists outside of space and time is a paradox. A paradox is something which negates itself. Like saying, the world is perfect because it is imperfect.

If he,she, it exists outside of space and time, it is not existing INSIDE space and time, and therefore it is not everywhere.

Religionists like paradoxes. The more absurd the claim, the more they like it. And the more impossible the claim, the more they value their faith in it.

When faith is considered the pinnacle of human expression, one can demonstrate one's obvious worth and value, by adherring to the faith, no matter how absurd, or ridiculous it may appear to others, or even to themselves.

God has been conveniently positioned, in recent times, outside of space and time away from the prying eyes of those who may be unworthy to gaze upon his majesty. (A cat may look at a king, but a human cannot look upon its creator and live. ) ;)

As the natural world is observed, explored and examined, god has had to retreat to his winter palace outside space and time. Previously, before mankind had telescopes and space shuttles, god was enthroned in the sky with all his angels and saints, but we just couldn't see him because he was too far away.

In recent times, god has become quite shy, and prefers the company of the "nothingness which exists outside of space and time". (Yes, I am aware that that was a paradox as well.)

God obviously doesn't like scientists, as he does his level best to avoid them.

22/3/07 11:20 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

sadie

RE: "I keep coming back to that quote you used. How can Christianity be a parody of Sun worship?"

The quote used - "The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun."- Thomas Paine


What is a parody?
1.A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule.
2.The genre of literature comprising such works.
3.Something so bad as to be equivalent to intentional mockery; a travesty.
4.The practice of reworking an already established composition, especially the incorporation into the Mass of material borrowed from other works, such as motets or madrigals.


OK. So Paine considers christianity to be mocking the previous religions of sun worship, all the while drawing upon the origins of other religions, that of sun worship, and people's attachments to them, in order to present and promote their own version of it.

Paine suggests that whereas other religions may have acknowledged the sun as a god, that christianity attempts to present itself as being something inherently different, yet the jesus figure is merely the personification of the sun.

He is inferring that Christianity borrowed concepts of sun worship which were present and obvious throughout egyptian, greek and roman religions, and placed their figurehead as the representation of the sun.

Viewed in this way, christianity is a parody of sun worship. A parody from the point of view of Paine, because christians have mocked sun worshippers, by humanizing the sun as a man.

22/3/07 11:45 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Goader:

I do see where you are going and I think I do apply the same rationale, I just haven't seen any evidence of god yet. The difference is in how we look at it. Where you see god filling the gaps, I see an explanation or a discovery waiting to happen. Experience would suggest, as KA has said, that time will provide the answers.

Consider that there was a time when all and sundry believed a vacuum could not exist because god must be present there. When Torricelli proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a vacuum could indeed exist, without god, the church was left with no choice but to push god out of that space. Science has coninued to fill the gaps over the years and has caused the church much consternation, so to my mind, it's science that has the score on the board, not god. When science looks in a gap and proves that god exists there, I'll believe it, but while the church continues to make excuses and push god further away, I shan't.

Beep: Religionists like paradoxes. The more absurd the claim, the more they like it. And the more impossible the claim, the more they value their faith in it.

I guess it helps make him/her/it's existance all the more difficult to prove which allows astute practitioners to prey on the superstitious faithful, which in turn keeps the religion "relevant" and the dollars rolling in.

But with knowledge comes understanding. Once we have knowledge and understanding, our eyes are opened and we become like god, apparently (Genesis 3:5), so I don't imagine for an instant that this can be allowed to happen, again. That being the case, god must remain in the unknown spaces.

by adherring to the faith, no matter how absurd, or ridiculous it may appear to others, or even to themselves.

In my experience, it's even considered to be a good thing. Suffering persecution for one's faith is another thing I'll never understand, but that's a whole other story...

God obviously doesn't like scientists, as he does his level best to avoid them.

So it would seem. He's a bit picky when it comes to the company he chooses, isn't he?

22/3/07 7:08 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: breaker

"Back to Mithras. There was a belief that he existed outside the known universe, and was responsible for moving the heavens (precession of the Equinox stuff). That view does not completely fit the usual description of gods in the "naturalistic" category."

Certainly if the part about Mithras existing outside the universe, or known universe, is correct; then that may not comply with a naturalistic model.

But the part where the sun gods were used to demonstrate the equinoxes and the solstices, certainly does.

22/3/07 11:55 pm  
Blogger Goader said...

In the book Science and Christian Belief by Charles Alfred Coulson, where Coulson states: "There is no 'God of the gaps' to take over at those strategic places where science fails; and the reason is that gaps of this sort have the unpreventable habit of shrinking."

A modified view would be that the gaps have the unpreventable habit of growing where science fails to explain something natural. The gaps are what humans previously did not understand then subsequently became known through science. If, in fact, science could fully explain even one process of a natural phenomenon one might agree with the filling the gaps model; however, science has not yet completely explained even one single natural occurrence.

Whatever explanation science discovers only reveals some further cause, which it does not understand. (cont'd)

BBIM, I hope you do not mind the "cont'd" insert; if you do, I apologize. Mine is new and is merely a baby blog, I don't get many hits yet.

23/3/07 12:27 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Goader:

It is not the job of science to philosophise. When science finds the subatomic particle that is god, then god we'll have in tangible fact.

23/3/07 12:42 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Beep,
Hmmm. Interesting. Sounds more like a way for people to write Jesus off as a joke. Diminish him to the point of ridicule and nothing more than a parody. Did sun worshippers believe they were going to live in eternity with the sun?
Did they strive to have an intimate and personal relationship with the sun?
Did the sun die so that it's worshippers could have life?
And obviously, for me, I know it's not a parody of Mithraism because there were prophets that told about Jesus well before Jesus was born. They told about his life and his death in detail.
John the Baptist was one of the prophets that was given knowledge about the coming of Jesus and you yourself said that Josephus mentioned him as a real person ( even more mentionings than Jesus).
So,
You don't have to go off on some long explaination on how the Old Testiment is a crock--I just want you to know how this individual knows that the God of the Bible was worshipped before Mithraism came to pass....

23/3/07 12:47 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

The Christian Father Manes, founder of the sect known as Manicheans, believed that Christ and Mithra were one. His teaching, according to Mosheim, was as follows: "Christ is that glorious intelligence which the Persians called Mithras ... His residence is in the sun" (Ecclesiastical History, 3rd century, Part 2, ch. 5).

23/3/07 1:34 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
And obviously, for me, I know it's not a parody of Mithraism because there were prophets that told about Jesus well before Jesus was born. They told about his life and his death in detail.
Ummm...no they didn't. AMOF, not 1 'prophecy' in the OT came true.

23/3/07 2:59 am  
Blogger Goader said...

Ted—

Beside yourself, I have seen a couple of other mentions of the vacuum and Torricelli. I understand that vacuum = empty. I am stuck on how does light traveling through a vacuum figure in to the argument. I have not been able to find Torricelli and the Church’s objection to his vacuum discovery. Do you know of a Web site that addresses that point?

23/3/07 3:18 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Ummm...no they didn't. AMOF, not 1 'prophecy' in the OT came true.

*rolling my eyes*
OK.

23/3/07 4:35 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Goader:

Many things, including light, can exist in a vacuum. How should this figure in the argument at all?

The church didn't really object to Torricelli. He proposed the experiment which was performed by a colleague in 1643, but Galileo had also postulated the existence of a vacuum.

The issue was based more in Aristotelian physics and the ancient Greek idea that "nature abhors a vacuum." Torricelli's experiment put this basic principle in jeopardy.

Thomas Cranmer, who became archbishop of Canterbury in 1533, is credited with being the author of the first recorded use of the word (vacuum). He wrote, dated 1550, "Naturall reason abhorreth vacuum, that is to say, that there should be any emptye place, wherin no substance shoulde be."

Fact is that the church had adopted the notion and then had to back away. All it really did was cause people to question more, which seems to be something the church likes to avoid.

23/3/07 4:38 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

Sadie:

Did sun worshippers believe they were going to live in eternity with the sun?

Did they strive to have an intimate and personal relationship with the sun?

Did the sun die so that it's worshippers could have life?


Yes, yes and yes.

Really, they took their religion as seriously as you take yours, and there is nothing in Christianity that didn't come long before it. The Jewish parts came from Hillel the Elder and the rest of it came from Roman mystery cults. Jesus doesn't say or do a single thing that someone didn't say or do before him.

23/3/07 5:01 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

KA,

Ummm...no they didn't. AMOF, not 1 'prophecy' in the OT came true.

Unsurprisingly, I believe you, but figuring it from the Christian side is different. A lot of the prophesies were written after the events they describe, and are reasonably accurate (like, the Babylonian invasion and captivity, as well as the release of captivity).

And a lot of the other prophesies -- about the Messiah -- have been interpreted as being fulfilled by Jesus (even tho' historically unproven, and often quite whacky), as well as being written long after the prophesies.

But Christians don't take very strongly to any high criticism of the Bible, preferring instead to stick to textual criticism. Which is a lot of the reason why us atheists and them hit a wall. We go, "Look at the external proof!" and they say, "External proof comes from Satan." :p

23/3/07 5:04 am  
Blogger Goader said...

Chris—

I am curious what you meant by textual criticism. Were you using it in its literal form meaning to study text to determine its origin or did you have another meaning in mind? I am confuses about your final statement but assume it is more of an inside colloquialism.

Ted—

Thanks for expanding on your statement. Apparently, it was more of a casual stance the Church took. I had in mind some of their brutality toward other great critical thinkers. I did not find where Torricelli was a victim of that Church nonsense.

23/3/07 7:15 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Chris:
Unsurprisingly, I believe you, but figuring it from the Christian side is different. A lot of the prophesies were written after the events they describe, and are reasonably accurate (like, the Babylonian invasion and captivity, as well as the release of captivity).
Well, for 1, the book of Daniel, from all external pointers, was written in the 2nd BCE, not the 10th, as is supposed.
For another, the alleged 'prophecies' are cherry-picked. 1 has to read the entire chapter in context.
But Christians don't take very strongly to any high criticism of the Bible, preferring instead to stick to textual criticism.
I've walked that road before. It's a bumpy ride to be sure.

23/3/07 7:18 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

There are some striking similarities between many of the ancient religions and christianity. This is not a great surprise to myself as considering approximately 4000 years of various religious practices one would expect that cultures would borrow ideas and model concepts from pre-existing rituals.

I don't have a major problem with this because much of what humans have considered knowledge at some time, has been part of the same process. Just the simple example of christianity evolving from judaism and islam evolving from them both, is an example of this.

So, if we go far enough back into human recorded history we see examples of how religious thought and practices have been cherry picked from other cultures and sometimes where cultures without obvious communication with each other, have also come up with similar religious concepts.

For example, sun worship has been popular all over the world and in different time periods. The sun gods may have had different names, the rituals may have been slightly different, but cultures which had evolved into agrarian societies seem to have has sun gods, moon gods and gods which represented seasons and seasonal change.

One of the most obvious sun/fertility concepts was the worship of the grain. So many sun cults had a component of grain worship and fertility worship.

It is also why, I think, that the bible has so many references which could only spring from an agricultural mentality. These are most obvious in the OT, but continue on also into the NT.

If you have ever wondered why the ancients talked about "the seed of so and so" and the "fruit of the womb" - they are examples of how importantly they viewed fertility, not only human fertility, but the fertility of crops and herds, and they express these concepts using an agricultural mentality.

23/3/07 9:47 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I don't bother walking the road of whether prophecies have aoccurred or not, I fnd it difficult to get past the talking snake and the virgin birth.

23/3/07 9:48 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Chris said...
Jesus doesn't say or do a single thing that someone didn't say or do before him.



Except die and rise again. *For reals.
*(remember when people used to say that? Maybe you don't if you weren't in junior high in the 80s)
*wink*

23/3/07 11:42 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

It is the "for reals" part that takes faith. I don't have it.

Taking into consideration that people who also worshipped other "life, death and rebirth deities" probably considered that their deity was born, died and was reborn "for reals", indicates that the concept is not new.

It also indicates that people see their own religion as true, and all others as false.

Me, I go with the concept that they are more than likely all false.

23/3/07 11:52 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Goader:

Sorry to disappoint you there. Yes, it was a more "casual" stance. It was a case of the church adopting some common place physics to help further it's own ends, then having to back away once it was proven wrong. The discovery certainly caused a bit of a shock, but nothing like the Galileo affair that had preceded it.

Remember also that the two were contemporaries and many were involved in the experiment. Torricelli wasn't about to let that happen to him. Besides, his main interest was atmospheric pressure, not finding a vacuum.

His major technical contribution to the experiment was to change the fluid they were using from water to mercury. The other main contribution was to describe the effect he saw accurately for the first time, which lead to the invention of the humble barometer.

23/3/07 12:56 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
Except die and rise again. *For reals.
So all those other 'resurrections' were just rehearsals?

23/3/07 2:21 pm  
Anonymous ted said...

KA: So all those other 'resurrections' were just rehearsals?

Well, my mum always said that practice makes perfect...:)

23/3/07 3:18 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

ted:
Well, my mum always said that practice makes perfect...:)
LMAO!
How the audience was disappointed, that the requested encore wasn't provided.

23/3/07 5:05 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
*rolling my eyes*
Stay tuned for my Sunday sermon. Though I'd guess you may not like it.
'None so blind as those who won't listen', hehehehe.

23/3/07 6:44 pm  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

Well, for 1, the book of Daniel, from all external pointers, was written in the 2nd BCE, not the 10th, as is supposed.

Yes! I was trying to say that, but failed.

The prophesies are accurate because they were written after the events they described. Sorry if I was unclear about why they're accurate. ;)

23/3/07 6:45 pm  
Anonymous ted said...

KA: How the audience was disappointed, that the requested encore wasn't provided.

Lol... Full dress rehearsal perhaps? Orchestra and all?

24/3/07 1:05 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Full dress rehearsal, Yes.

I'll bring the feather boas.

24/3/07 9:48 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM:
I'll bring the feather boas.
Which resurrection shall we rehearse? Osiris, Tammuz, Hercules?
The better question is: what will the cast party be like? ;)

24/3/07 5:15 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I'm in an egyptian mode. Plus, I have a cat who can pretend to be Bast.

24/3/07 7:42 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Oh, cool! That means everyone has to go topless, don't it?
Wish I had a hat-cam. ;)

25/3/07 2:01 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Cool. My pooch could be Anubis in a pinch.

But this is sounding better all the time. The party's shaping up to be a doozy...:)

25/3/07 10:04 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

ted:
Cool. My pooch could be Anubis in a pinch.
& my budgie could be Osiris - but that might not end well.

25/3/07 1:24 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

All the pets can go topless. I am not going topless unless I can retract about 30 years from my age.

Now that put a dampener on the party, didn't it.

25/3/07 1:25 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM:
Now that put a dampener on the party, didn't it.
Not at all. I prefer women closer to my own age anyways. ;)

25/3/07 4:08 pm  

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