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How much of Christianity is based on Paganism?

 
 
Fountofwisdom
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 07:15 am
@gungasnake,
If by pagan you mean non Christian there are many examples of parallels: Firstly I would like to say that it is a remarkable speech: (I'm taking the Mathew Gospel version) Living by judge not and you will not be judged: and do unto others etc. sounds entirely reasonable.
However: There is a claim Hindus that large parts of it have been lifted from their texts.
Bread and salt were the mainstay of many Roman traditions and older wiccan traditions.
Narrow gates is lifted from zoroastrianism. All these beliefs pre date Christianity. Jesus never once claimed that that other religions were worthless.
As I see it Jesus said: love your enemies. I wouldn't argue with that. Many people who claim to be Christians do not follow a creed of tolerance and forgiveness. Jesus would have called them hypocrites.As do I.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 10:07 am
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre wrote:
Who among us can say with certainty what is and is not accurate when it comes to legend and myth?

We could take the stance that everything is legend and myth until it meets a certain level of confirmation. We should certainly take this stance for any claims which are in direct conflict with natural, physical evidence.

Foxfyre wrote:
Does some of the imagery, symbolism, and verbal codes found in the New Testament relate to ancient mental imagery common to the people of those times and make their way into the oral tradition and written text? Almost certainly they did.

Does that mean that Christianity is an imaginary mythical creation unsupportable other than via ancient Egyptian texts? I think anybody will have a difficult time supporting that argument.

Christianity is not imaginary, we know it exists. The question has more to do with the accuracy of the history of Christianity. How many of the stories which underpin the basis of Christianity are historically accurate.

It appears that the stories surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are virtually identical to a long string of myths which preceded Jesus's time. So why should we place any more truth to the Jesus story than we do for any other? I just don't see the difference in any of these myths.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 10:12 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
If this were a scientific proposition, Roswell, you would apply a much more rigorous and critical standard than you are applying here. If someone alleged a scientific "truth," would you be satisfied with a vague statement about what someone had "put together?"

Of course not. I was responding more to Fox's general approach for trying to evade the basic challenge.

Her strategy is to propose that ALL similarities between legends and myth are derived from our attempts to FIND patterns. I think the evidence in this specific case is strongly against her argument, but it's an interesting general strategy.

Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 10:28 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne wrote:
I agree. It's more than close, it's uncanny. Do you know if the other references to other deific myths are also accurate?

"To know" is a strong word, so the answer is "no". I also haven't read enough about egyptology to state with any authority that their references to Horus are accurate. I was only relaying what the people at religioustolerance.org said, because I trust them. But trusting them is just my policy. It's not knowing.
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 10:47 am
@rosborne979,
I would agree with you that it is difficult to assess much of the Bible literally; indeed , if we do an honest appraisal of how it was compiled, and the purpose for which it was compiled; to take it literally is unreasonable; even irrational. The Bible contains history that is supportable through archeological or historical records, but it also contains much poetry, prophecy, philosophy, imagery, metaphor, code, and symbolism that was never intended to be understood literally, especially through our 21st century eyes. Brilliant scholars have devoted much of their adult lives attempting to sort it all out.

The Apostle Paul nailed the problem, however, with his line that now we see through a dark glass--perhaps a rewrite of Plato's cave?--but in time we will see face to face. I have a long, long list of questions that I hope I will be able to take to the next life and satisfy my curiosity,

We know with certainty that the creation stories are out of synch with science, but they were never intended to be science. Most Bible scholars agree that they were written as illustration of God's greatness and as Jewish allegory to explain why things are the way that they are.

Does any rational person believe Jonah sat quoting poetry in the belly of a great fish for three days and was then spat out convinced he had better do God's will or else? Or is the story a magnificent illustration of ancient Jewish story telling to make a point?

Fast forward to New Testament times and we find writers conditioned in and accustomed to using symbolism and metaphor and code to make their point and tell their stories. For the most part, their intent was not to tell the Christian story, but rather to communicate what Christianity is and its effect and importance on humankind. When you read it through their eyes in their culture, in their words, experience, and understanding, it all falls into place.

Many since the New Testament era have further embroideried on the stories and added dogma and doctrine that can be found no place in the Bible, much less the New Testament. For instance, through later art, symbolism, and music, most people believe the Bible reports angels singing. It doesn't. Did the Christmas story happen exactly as related in Matthew and Luke? Almost certainly it did not. But, again reading through their eyes and understanding, that does not mean that the essence of the stories are not true and they don't have to be taken literally.

The true evidence of Christianity is in the experience of the living God that changes lives.

As was recently previously posted, all who call themselves Christian do not emulate Christianity. Perhaps some have not experienced it at all. I don't think those people in the video that started this thread have a clue what Christianity is. It is reported that the one who founded the faith through his own life and example became angry at the money changers in the temple and drove them out, but that was almost certainly because those money changers were cheating the innocent and poor. That video shows people being cruel, hateful, and hurtful to other people. Jesus never did that and taught his disciples not to do that.

None of us, from memory, can accurately relate the actual events of the day that Kennedy was shot or the events immediately following, but each of us can remember significant details. But if we each wrote down what we did remember would write accurate recollection and inaccurate recollection and each of our accounts would differ somewhat from everybody else. But knit it all together and you would compile a pretty good picture of the events and the emotion, effect, and significance of that event and the errors do not diminish that.

The Bible was put together exactly in that way but without benefit of newspaper and television accounts to fact check. But it provides a pretty good picture of the events and the emotion, effect, and significance implanted in the memory and hearts of those who wrote it and the inconsistencies do not diminish that.

The proof of Christianity is in the changed lives of those who experience it. The Bible was never intended to be the proof of that.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 10:52 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
"To know" is a strong word, so the answer is "no". I also haven't read enough about egyptology to state with any authority that their references to Horus are accurate. I was only relaying what the people at religioustolerance.org said, because I trust them. But trusting them is just my policy. It's not knowing.

When I use the phrase "To Know" I do so in a scientific sense, which is to say, "to know beyond a reasonable doubt based on preponderance of verifiable evidence".

Many people on these boards now more about Egyptian history than I do, and while I take everything with a grain of salt, I also recognize overwhelming evidence and agreement when I start to see it.

Thanks for your feedback.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 11:05 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

Setanta wrote:
If this were a scientific proposition, Roswell, you would apply a much more rigorous and critical standard than you are applying here. If someone alleged a scientific "truth," would you be satisfied with a vague statement about what someone had "put together?"

Of course not. I was responding more to Fox's general approach for trying to evade the basic challenge.

Her strategy is to propose that ALL similarities between legends and myth are derived from our attempts to FIND patterns. I think the evidence in this specific case is strongly against her argument, but it's an interesting general strategy.



In your appreciation for scientific accuracy, perhaps you could show that how anything I wrote proposes that ALL similarities between legends and myths are derived from our attempts to FIND patterns. I think I pretty much did not say or even suggest that. If you are so concerned that the accuracy of the Bible is important, perhaps you apply that same standard to yourself?
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 11:06 am
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre wrote:
We know with certainty that the creation stories are out of synch with science, but they were never intended to be science. Most Bible scholars agree that they were written as illustration of God's greatness and as Jewish allegory to explain why things are the way that they are.

Agreed.
Foxfyre wrote:
Does any rational person believe Jonah sat quoting poetry in the belly of a great fish for three days and was then spat out convinced he had better do God's will or else? Or is the story a magnificent illustration of ancient Jewish story telling to make a point?

Unfortunately there are people who do take everything literally and defend their stance by invoking the omnipotence and mystery of God to wipe away the challenges to reason. I understand that you are not one of these people.
Foxfyre wrote:
The true evidence of Christianity is in the experience of the living God that changes lives.

You do understand that this is not scientific "evidence" and that some of us do not classify "personal experience" as evidence at all (unless it's personal experience of an internal state, such as a self-defined emotion).
Foxfyre wrote:
The Bible was put together exactly in that way but without benefit of newspaper and television accounts to fact check. But it provides a pretty good picture of the events and the emotion, effect, and significance implanted in the memory and hearts of those who wrote it and the inconsistencies do not diminish that.

I agree that the Bible reflects some element of the emotion and history of that time, but I'm not entirely convinced that much accuracy has survived the ravages of time and of translation and of retelling and outright propaganda inserted by the translators all the way along the line.
Foxfyre wrote:
The proof of Christianity is in the changed lives of those who experience it. The Bible was never intended to be the proof of that.

I'm not disputing that Christianity exists, or that it can change lives. I'm disputing the accuracy of the stories and the assumptions which underpin the history of Christianity.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 11:14 am
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre wrote:
In your appreciation for scientific accuracy, perhaps you could show that how anything I wrote proposes that ALL similarities between legends and myths are derived from our attempts to FIND patterns. I think I pretty much did not say or even suggest that.

Ok. I'll concede that you did not specifically say, "All". But it did seem to me that the point of your argument was that patterns can sometimes be found where they don't really exist. The implication of course being that all those similarities in pre-christian deities are simply misrepresentations just as with the Lincoln/JFK connections.

And while I agree with you in a general sense, I believe this is a specious argument on your part because there is a preponderance of historical evidence which is strongly implies a non-coincidental connection between the myths.
0 Replies
 
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 11:14 am
Unless it's your claim that believing in other gods never provided people with the same "proof," what's your point?

Christianity is not unique in it's claims with regards to "proof" like this.

I might have a really great day tomorrow and choose to give credit to the orange road cone outside of my apartment. By your standard, if I believe it was the cause, it's "proof."

T
K
O
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 11:16 am
Quote:
How much of Christianity is based on Paganism?


About 90%. And modern 'Christians' give christ a bad name, practically none of them follow his teachings; but the church's instead, which is the opposite of his message.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 11:16 am
Early in the rise of christianity, Alexandria in Egypt was an important center, and a very plausible argument can be made that it was the center, of the theological and scriptural development of the cult. Perhaps the most important scholar of scripture was Origen, who is thought to have been an Egyptian, and who certainly was from Alexandria, and learned and taught there. More than any other single individual, Origen is responsible for the choices of texts which have been come the scriptural canon of the "new testament."

At one point, due to the turmoil in Alexandria when the Emperor Caracalla allowed the legions to plunder the city and the surrounding countryside, Origen fled to Caesarea, returning to Alexandria later. While at Caesarea, although not an ordained priest, he taught and preached sermons. More than a decade later, he again visited Caesarea, where he was ordained. But he had gotten himself in trouble with the Metropolitan and the Bishops of Alexandria, and was obliged to flee and permanently take up residence in Caesarea. Caesarea, originally Caesarea Maratima, was built by Herod the Great, and became the Roman capital of the province of Iudaea (what we call Judea); it later came to be called Caesarea Palaestina, and was, because of its importance in Palestine, a center as least as important and possibly more important than Alexandria in early christianity.

Pamphilus, a native of Beirut and a presbyter (church elder) at Caesarea Palaestina, might have lived toward the end of the life of Origen, but whether or not this is true, we know that he became a devotee of Origen's writings. As Pamphilus assembled a vast library of early church documents and exegetical writings at Caesarea, his influence on subsequent christian scholarship was profound. In particular, he was the patron of Eusebius of Caesarea, who is considered to have been the greatest early christian historian and who was a scholar of wide repute. At the Council of Nicaea, it was Eusebius who was given the task of writing the official creed of the church, subject, of course, to the approval of the church leaders there assembled. This was despite the fact that Eusebius was believed, with a good deal of justification, to be an Arian. Arius of Alexandria was a christian priest and scholar who held that Jesus was not one with God the Father, and that he had not always existed, as had God the Father. This, of course, meant that he was anti-trinitarian. The extreme development of that idea was that Jesus was entirely mortal, was not the son of God except to the extent that all men are, and that he was therefore definitely not divine. Arius was excommunicated at the Nicaean Council, then rehabilitated, and then excommunicated again after his death for having been heretical.

Modern scholars consider Eusebius to have been responsible for the interpolation in the History of the Jewish Wars by Flavius Josephus--a Romanized Jewish scholar and Pharisee--which has Josephus claiming that Jesus was the messiah. This would have been completely antithetical to his beliefs as a Pharisee. Among other things, the Pharisees represented a theological school of thought among the Jews, and one which completely rejected the idea that a messiah had appeared--Jesus or anyone else. The more critical of modern scholars see Eusebius as being the "father of lies" historically, as it is claimed that he taught that it is acceptable to alter documents and historical accounts in order to support the theology of and the spread of christianity. In many cases, the only accounts we have of aspects of history in the first four centuries of the common era come from Eusebius or his students.

When christianity came to Alexandria, it was not well accepted by the local Jewish community, and was viewed with suspicion by the Hellenistic community of "Egyptians" descended from the Greek and Macedonian conquerors. The majority of early adherents were, by inference, Egyptian of solely Egyptian descent. The contention that the story of the Christ had been adapted to beliefs already popular among this population is not at all a stretch of the historical imagination--and thanks to clowns like Eusebius, imagination is often the only avenue to form an historical opinion.

Futhermore, at the time that christianity received the protection of the Emperor Constantine (it is a complete historical falsehood that Constantine made christianity the state religion, he was merely a pragmatist who recognized the growing power of the church; there is absolutely no historical basis for the claim that he converted to christianity, either in "mid-life" or on his death bed), the most popular cult in the Roman Empire was the cult of Mithraism. In particular, the Mithraic cult was popular in the Legions--and in those days, the Legions were about all that counted in the equation of political power. Even those Roman citizens who were not legionaires or officers of the Legions secured almost all of their political and commercial advantages from friends or relations who were officers of the Legions. The Mithraic cult flourished in the Legions in the first through fourth centuries.

The Roman Empire was a religiously tolerant polity. Everyone was required to pay lip service to the state religion (really a civic religion, as it was the empire of the city of Rome, and no one had any notions of what we recognize as nationalism), and, upon occasion, to publicly offer sacrifice to the civic religion, or pay someone else to do it. Otherwise, everyone was free to believe what they wished, and to practice whatever religion they chose, so long as the religion were not willfully obnoxious to the empire (which became significant at the end of the second century of the common era). Jews and christians were not distinguished one from the other, and if they were found obnoxious to others, it was almost always because of a pigheaded resistance to participating in the rare and not onerous observance of the civic religion. Early tales of persecution of christians very rarely have any historical evidence, and when they do, it almost always turns out that Jews or christians (the latter of whom were seen by almost everyone as just another flavor of Jew) were attacked by their own neighbors, who resented them and feared the consequences of their district being seen to be inimical to the civic religion. In a very early set of correspondence between the Emperor Trajan and Pliny the Younger, who was a governor in what is now Turkey, in the early second century, the Emperor basically outlines a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. So long as no one made a stink about being a christian, undertook the minimal public observance of the civic religion and kept their beliefs otherwise private, no action need be taken against them.

The active persecution of christians by the imperial authority did not begin until the reign of Septimius Severus. At that time, the event was political--Severus took the imperial throne at the end of what is known to historians of the Empire as the year of the five emperors. Christians had vocally and publicly supported his opponents, and given aid and comfort to his enemies. Subsequent persecutions by Caracalla and Diocletian had political motives, but by then (late third and early fourth centuries), christians had made themselves sufflciently obnoxious to the imperial authority, that they needed to keep their heads down unless they knew for a fact that they had a friend in the imperial administration. To the legions, christianity was a "slave religion," which they viewed with deep contempt.


When, in the first quarter of the fourth century, christianity received the protection of the Emperor, the task of the proselytizers became to make the religion attractive to the non-christian population of the Empire, which included followers of the Mithraic cult more than any other group, and particularly, as already noted, among the members of the Legions. Much of the early christian iconography, even before the reign of Constantine, can be seen to be directly derived from the popular Mithraic cult. It is also alleged that many aspects of christianity--virgin birth, execution and resurrection, the "god-man" being born on December 25th--come directly from Mithraism, although these contentions are certainly not universally accepted by modern scholars.

I know of no one who has ever been able to produce evidence that christian beliefs, doctrine, iconography, etc., developed in a vacuum, in complete ignorance of the popular cults and beliefs of the days in which it arose. In fact, one could find cause to admire the early christian proselytizers for having had the sense to tailor the religion to the audience.
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 11:18 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

Unfortunately there are people who do take everything literally and defend their stance by invoking the omnipotence and mystery of God to wipe away the challenges to reason. I understand that you are not one of these people.


Unfortunately there are those who judge all by the actions of a few, and who 'proof text' a word or phrase used by somebody and try to twist that into everything the person says or believes.

Quote:
You do understand that this is not scientific "evidence" and that some of us do not classify "personal experience" as evidence at all (unless it's personal experience of an internal state, such as a self-defined emotion.)


Do you continue to promote a notion that everything that is believable must be scientifically verifiable? I can't imagine existing in a world that small.

Quote:
I agree that the Bible reflects some element of the emotion and history of that time, but I'm not entirely convinced that much accuracy has survived the ravages of time and of translation and of retelling and outright propaganda inserted by the translators all the way along the line.


Certainly errors have occurred in the recopying and retranslating over the centuries. I related to that earlier in this very thread. When I teach Bible, I point out what are believed to be "scribal glosses" incorporated into the text that we have now. Bible scholars believe these were not part of the original text but were notes scribes put in the margins of the scrolls for their own purposes, and those were inadvertently incorporated into the text later on when the scroll was copied again. Do these diminish the overall integrity of the text? Not in the least, but sometimes it is important to recognize them for what they are.

Quote:
I'm not disputing that Christianity exists, or that it can change lives. I'm disputing the accuracy of the stories and the assumptions which underpin the history of Christianity.


Do you dispute all history in this way? Or do you choose that which reads as you wish it to read and only challenge that which you do not wish to accept? Do you think any history that has been written is 100% accurate in the way it actually was? (Use my illustration of combined recollections of the Kennedy assassination as an example here.) At least Thomas was honest in his statement that he chooses to trust information in ReligiousTolerance without verifying the accuracy of that content.

Quote:
Ok. I'll concede that you did not specifically say, "All". But it did seem to me that the point of your argument was that patterns can sometimes be found where they don't really exist. The implication of course being that all those similarities in pre-christian deities are simply misrepresentations just as with the Lincoln/JFK connections.


Can you back this up scientifically? Is that what I said? Or is that what you want to believe that I said?

Quote:
And while I agree with you in a general sense, I believe this is a specious argument on your part because there is a preponderance of historical evidence which is strongly implies a non-coincidental connection between the myths.


A myth by definition is among those things that cannot be proved, verified, or disproved scientifically. There is no way to scientifically verify the existence or non existence of a god. To assume that inability to prove, disprove, or verify such existence scientifically is proof positive that gods don't exist is absurdity on the face of it.

We don't have to prove a myth to understand the message within it. You call that specious. I call that truth.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 11:21 am
@Foxfyre,
Quote:


Do you continue to promote a notion that everything that is believable must be scientifically verifiable? I can't imagine existing in a world that small.


Yes, I do, for one. At least the underpinnings of an idea must conform to the boundaries of known science.

This provides an easy way to figure out bullshit, Fox; things ought to be testable, and if they are not, they likely are not real.

Quote:

Do you dispute all history in this way? Or do you choose that which reads as you wish it to read and only challenge that which you do not wish to accept?


I for one dispute all history which does not conform to testable science.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:01 pm
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre wrote:

A myth by definition is among those things that cannot be proved, verified, or disproved scientifically. There is no way to scientifically verify the existence or non existence of a god. To assume that inability to prove, disprove, or verify such existence scientifically is proof positive that gods don't exist is absurdity on the face of it.

We don't have to prove a myth to understand the message within it. You call that specious. I call that truth.

Yes, and the Harry Potter books have a message too. I can understand the value of a message and in fact many part of Christian mythology carry a very familiar message with me. But to say that the message means the story is true is being dishonest.

I can offer you a really good message with a really good moral. We can agree on it, but if I tell you that a unicorn told me it, you are not forced to

a) believe in the unicorn because the message was good.
b) disregard the message because the unicorn part is bullshit.

If I was to agree with some portion of the bible but not others would that mean that the bible is true and that I need to accept the rest of it? I'm sure that you can open a Koran or read about Buddha and find a message in there somewhere that moves you or resounds in your heart, that doesn't mean that you have to be a Muslim or a Buddhist.

As for what is verified and observed, it is not a small world--It's huge. You speak as if not believing in a god makes the universe smaller. I see it the exact opposite way. Everything I've learned in my studies of the natural universe has only made me feel like it is measureless.

Christianity may never be proven wrong, it has not been proven to be right. This is not a stalemate. Christianity does not have to be proven wrong, it has to be proven right. The burden of proof is not on those who don't believe in Christianity (or Judism, Islam, Buddhism, Shawmanism, Paganism, Hinduism...).

T
K
O
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:10 pm
No it doesn't 'have to be proven right' any more than what I dreamed last night has to be 'proved' in order for me to have dreamed it. Those who require proof limit their world to a whole lot less than what is actually in it.
Diest TKO
 
  2  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:19 pm
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre wrote:

No it doesn't 'have to be proven right' any more than what I dreamed last night has to be 'proved' in order for me to have dreamed it. Those who require proof limit their world to a whole lot less than what is actually in it.

What are you so afraid of Fox? We aren't talking about a dream in which only you can experience uniquely, we are talking about the broad and sweeping truth of the universe here. Surely, you could provide the needed proof easily of something that is intimately involved with EVERYTHING including you and me. What are you ashamed of?

If those who limit their world to what can be proven have "less than what's in it," then those who expand their world to what cannot be proven have more in their world than there actually is.

In terms of intellectual currency, you're paying in confederate dollars. Sure you've got a lot of them, but you still can't afford a candy bar. You should start investing in what is real.

T
K
O
Foxfyre
 
  0  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:32 pm
@Diest TKO,
Sigh. There are so many implied fallacies in your comments I wouldn't know where to even start and even to try would so further sidetrack the thread that I will pass.
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:34 pm
@Foxfyre,
T
K
Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:50 pm
You are all dancing around the real question here...

Is Christianity superior to other systems of belief (in terms of some universal truth, or in terms of personal experience)?

I suspect that Foxfyre believes that Christianity is superior to other systems of belief. I suspect that others here believe that Christianity is no better or worse.

The rest of the arguments I have read here are really just different ways of stating this fairly straightforward question.
 

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