Was Jesus indeed an Objectivist???

Posted by chriwatkins 7 years, 8 months ago to Philosophy
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Consider the political and social climate at the time. A powerful political force...Rome had effectively taken control of known human civilization at the time.

Religious zealots known as the Pharisees were in bed with political powers that where (i.e.the Roman Empire) Sound familiar???
To make a long story short, if you believe Jesus to be some kind of "Bat Man" then I can empathise with the atheists!
However, if you would take a minute to realize the exchange between Jesus and Pontius Pilate when He said, "I have come to bear witness to the truth."
What is truth???
Think it though folks... think it through.
Let's talk more.


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  • Posted by LionelHutz 7 years, 8 months ago
    The historicity / accuracy of the bible books is far, far stronger than you make it out to be, Mike.

    In the case of the Old Testament, modern copies were initially based on rather late copies, which is natural when one realizes that stuff written on papyrus and vellum eventually ages and degrades. It's one of the reasons why they needed a profession dedicated to making copies in the first place. However, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and these much older copies (500+ years, I think) of the OT biblical books were compared to later copies, the copy error rate was found to be essentially zero, amounting to dots missing above letters, having sentence word order swapped in a manner which didn't change the meaning, or having spelling variations of a word (similar to finding British colour versus American color).

    In the case of the New Testament, why would one think the copy process would have been done any differently? There may be a misunderstanding with the man on the street, who thinks in terms of a published "book", compared to the way this text was distributed in the early days. Originally, these were simply letters penned to a single church. Copies would be made for distribution, and some letters got wider distribution than others. People apparently didn't think in terms of collecting all the letters up into a single "book" until pretty late in the game (like the Vulgate), so when one asserts that the age of the "book" is far distant from the original source material, well, it's because it wasn't in "book" form originally. But that doesn't mean the text wasn't around, widely distributed, and widely known and read before then. We've got fragments of text older than the Vulgate by over 100 years. Example: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rylands_Lib...). This stuff was not held captive under lock and key by the Catholic Church, and I suspect people who deal with this subject matter for a living absolutely would reject the notion that the Synoptic Gospels have been "rewritten" in the sense you're implying (not literally copied, not mangled with slips of the pen, but rather some new narrative fiction created). While there is some time gap between our oldest copies and the original source, I have a hard time coming to the conclusion that this means "no factual record exists" or that the material we do have is hopelessly different than the original. We don't treat copies of other old historical works with such suspicion.

    As far as the original poster goes...Jesus spoke of a reality one could not objectively detect (Heaven, Hell, angels, demons, soul, spirit). Why then do you say he was an Objectivist? He spoke in terms of absolute truth, but that doesn't make him Objectivist in my view. It's just a similarity.
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    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years, 8 months ago
      Lionel, we agree on the bottom line: Jesus was not an Objectivist.

      Apart from that, allow me to take issue with a single detail of great potential. You wrote:
      "In the case of the Old Testament, modern copies were initially based on rather late copies, which is natural when one realizes that stuff written on papyrus and vellum eventually ages and degrades."

      Actually, papyrus is pretty sturdy stuff. A thousand years later, the sarcophagi of poor people were made from recycled papers. Still later, those were steamed apart to recover lost texts such as the poems of Archelochus. (The ink was made with gum arabic.) At a conference on papyri, one of the speakers purposely rolled and unrolled a scroll to make the audience nervous before he explained why these were so durable.

      As for vellum, it was the solution engaged by Pergamum ("parchment") a city in Asia Minor that benefited from a looted treasury belonging first to Alexander the Great held by Attalus, the founder of the succeeding city dynasty. They sought to build a great library, but Alexandria cut off the exports of papyrus, so they turned to sheep skin, again a very durable medium.

      Everything has limits. The original works of Aristotle were destroyed by worms when the Macedonian ruling family squabbled over them and they were buried in the ground.

      The oldest rabbinical copies of the Torah go back only to about 700 CE. The Quran has similar problems. Most of what religionists claim to believe as "scripture" is just post-dated fabrication.

      As for the Dead Sea Scrolls, do they not include the Gospel of Judas? When will that be included in the Bible?
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      • Posted by LionelHutz 7 years, 8 months ago
        Hey Mike - on your last point I'm guessing you know this already but others might not: the Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of lots of writings on a variety of subjects, probably only 50% or less religious. Finding something among the Dead Sea Scrolls is in itself not enough justification to include it in the Bible. Even if a text subject matter is religious, that doesn't mean it was considered Scripture. It's kind of like walking into a house and seeing religious commentaries on a bookshelf next to a Bible today. I'd imagine people would have gotten excited about something like a Gospel of Judas if there was any prior external evidence referring to it, but until you brought it up, I never heard of it, and a search over at the Wiki page discussing the various findings from the Dead Sea Scrolls doesn't mention it. Are you confusing this text with something else? A Wiki page for the Gospel of Judas exists and all evidence points to this being a Gnostic-era writing discovered well after the Dead Sea Scrolls. I'm gathering you're highly skeptical of all this stuff, and unless you knew you were holding the original source material in your hands, you're discounting it. I'm scratching my head on why you make a big deal about the post-dated nature of what we hold in our hands, because I kind of suspect even if the original were in your hands you'd still discount it, just on a different basis. It's historical fact that the Gnostics sprung up in the 2nd century and put out a lot of literature on the topic that went counter to the writings from the 1st century. That doesn't mean it's correct and ought to be lumped in with the 1st century writings.

        About the durability of the material, it is pretty incredible we can still actually read writing on stuff that goes back this far. But I'm surprised you're talking up the strength of this stuff. I can see why it would survive if buried in a grave/tomb, but I attended an exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls and it's perforated in many spots and they had the lights way down because they felt even strong lighting could damage it at this point. A view of the pic on the Gospel of Judas wiki gives a pretty good representation of what shape some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are in.
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        • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years, 8 months ago
          Lionel, I am open to religion as an open question. Just for example, in Carl Sagan's CONTACT, physicist Ellie Arroway is agog at the transdimensional wormholes. "How did you do this?" she asks her Guide. "We did not build it. We found it here." Oh ....

          See also my comments in my review of "god is not Great" by Christopher Hitchens under Books. I cite the Catholic Encyclopedia on the problem of Galileo. And also, I found no support for bringing up Ayn Rand's "Father Amadeus" who did not make the cut in Atlas Shrugged. (More on him later.) So, just to say, art is art and facts are facts; but when it comes to Earthly religions, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          You are right and I was wrong about the Gospel of Judas being a Dead Sea artifact. I glossed over that.

          You probably know that every "original" copy of The History of the Jews by Flavius Josephus has been erased and written over so many times that no one knows whether he actually mentioned Jesus or not. We do not have the same problems with other old scrolls.

          Take "Lives of the Philosophers" by Diogenes Laertes and "Fragnments of the Pre-Socratics" by Hermann Diels. As incomplete as many manuscripts are no one seems to have invented a philosopher who did not exist, or today question the existence of a weakly-attested thinker. The methods of religion are diametrically opposite to those of philosophy and science.

          I go with science -- even as applied to religion, like about those wormholes through spacetime...
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          • Posted by LionelHutz 7 years, 8 months ago
            Hi Mike. Regarding: You probably know that every "original" copy of The History of the Jews by Flavius Josephus has been erased and written over so many times... I'm going to say "references, please?". First time I've heard of this. If true, it throws EVERYTHING he wrote about into doubt, and he's regarded as the foremost historian on the Jewish War 66-72. Historians reference Josephus all the time and I personally have no doubts he truly wrote about Jesus on multiple occasions - though the Wiki on "Josephus on Jesus" raises legitimate doubts about the strongest language present in the Testimonium Flavianum. As he himself was not a Christian, it's hard to picture himself writing it - but I find myself agreeing with the majority of scholars on this one that it's partially authentic and got embellished later on.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on...

            Now, not everything that Josephus wrote is trustworthy. I personally trust what he wrote about during his own time, but in his collection of works you'll find him retelling a lot of Jewish tradition as history and some of it just reads as utter bunk - I don't know if you've read the bits about when Alexander the Great marched his army into Judea and what the outcome of that was. Color me skeptical on that one.

            chriwatkins - you coming back here? You opened this posting and your last statement was "Let's talk more.", and there's been plenty of talk, but not from you!
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          • Posted by Hiraghm 7 years, 8 months ago
            Ever read the end of "Contact"?

            Ellie sets up a SETI like computer network to analyze PI farther than its every been computed.

            In the midst of the data, she finds a perfect circle. Proof of the existence of God. I found it humorous that Sagan put that in there not long before he was going to find the answer out definitively himself.
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            • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years, 8 months ago
              Pi in Base 11 carried out to a million decimal places and oriented to a grid of X by Y reveals a CIRCLE. Yes, Sagan may have been a "metaphysical religionist" as am I: keeping 1% of Doubt for what "I do not know."

              That is very remote from - and a challenge to - anything resembling Christian religion.

              The vaguest metaphysical questions of intelligent scientists cannot, do not, never have, and never will open the door to claims that Jesus was the Son of God - and that Buddha was not Enlightened.
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years, 8 months ago
    Like a Rorschach Inkblot what you read into it says more about you than about what is "really" there.

    First, you have absolutely NO IDEA who or what "Jesus" was because those Holy Books were in the care of the Roman Church for 1000 years, 600 years after Saint Jerome chose the Most Important Scrolls to make into his Vulgate Bible. Those books had been held and copied for about 400 years. The so-called "Synoptic Gospels" are all putative, likely re-written about a century after the purported events. All of which is to say that whatever you want to believe is up to you because no factual record exists.

    As an aside, it is an article of faith that no translation - not even the Vulgate Bible - is the actual Revealed Word of God. Translations are only guides - and fallible.

    Second, if we accept the common stories as a shared narrative, few of the details support Objectivism. Ayn Rand's letter to Reverend Dudley said that Christianity was the first religion that was concerned with the individual. I think that the Buddhists would disagree. (I could point to Kong fu-tze - Confucius - also.) Her point I think was that Greek and Roman pagan religions were about how to please the gods, not how to live a better life.

    The bottom line, though, is that except for such footnotes the essence of religion is contrary to the purpose of philosophy, and the content of Objectivism.
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    • Posted by Hiraghm 7 years, 8 months ago
      what is the purpose, praytell, of the love of knowledge?

      When Rand's philosophy has weathered 2,000 years, and has a couple billion adherents, then I'll put her on a par with Christ. Maybe.

      I disagree with Buddhism being concerned with the individual any more than the other pagan religions were.
      The pagan gods weren't simply there to be appeased; they were working gods, with responsibilities here on Earth.

      Agreed, translations are only guides, and fallible.
      That's why I apply my reason to the stories of Christ's life and death before becoming a Christian. (and why I refer to myself as a "shirttail Christian").
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  • Posted by 7 years, 8 months ago
    My point is that the political climate of the time is essentially no different than it is today.
    Ultimately it comes down to one group claiming power over another. Consider Ellsworth Toohey's definition of power.
    In truth, I'm completely BORED with all the so-called "intellectual" responses to my post nor do I have the time or patience to contemplate them as I actually work for a living!
    All I'm trying to do is is to provide fodder for thought.
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