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Friday, April 2 - 11:44amSanction this postReply
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Today is "Good Friday." What's good about it, according to Christian mythology, is that Jesus Christ, our lord and savior, died for our sins. He sacrificed himself to atone for sins which we inherited from our ancestors Adam and Eve. "To cover the sin of Adam and Eve, the blood of an innocent lamb [Jesus Christ] was shed." (Genesis, 3:21)

So, a perfect being -- an ideal embodiment of man -- was sacrificed on a cross to atone for sins that he did not commit in order to atone for sins that we did not commit, but "inherited" from our mythical ancestors, Adam and Eve. Is this the embodiment of justice? Is this what we are to consider "good" and must honor by closing down businesses on the Friday before Easter?

Quoting Rand, "A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.
. . . .
"What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man’s fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love—he was not man.

"Man’s fall, according to your teachers, was that he gained the virtues required to live. These virtues, by their standard, are his Sin. His evil, they charge, is that he’s man. His guilt, they charge, is that he lives.

"They call it a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man."

"Good" Friday? No! The proper name for it is "Black Friday"!





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Post 1

Friday, April 2 - 3:24pmSanction this postReply
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While her other points are valid, Rand's characterization of Jesus as an ideal embodiment of man is her own (understandably) confused notion, not orthodox Christian theology. Jesus was both fully divine and fully human, not a "perfect" human, but God who chose to fully assume human nature. Theologically he was born and conceived without sin, making him an "unblemished" sacrificial victim. But he experienced doubt and anger and other human frailties, even despair on the cross. He was neither a superman nor inhumanly virtuous.



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Friday, April 2 - 4:51pmSanction this postReply
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"...not orthodox Christian theology."

Give me break. There is no authoritative voice "Christianity" - it is a collection of different sects with differing details about their common moral and mythical beliefs.

Rand, as usual, was not "confused" - but rather bringing more clarity to the issue than any Christian does. Anyone that want's to argue for this or that Christian sect finds themselves sleeping with some very strange bedfellows.



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Post 3

Friday, April 2 - 5:09pmSanction this postReply
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While her other points are valid, Rand's characterization of Jesus as an ideal embodiment of man is her own (understandably) confused notion, not orthodox Christian theology. Jesus was both fully divine and fully human, not a "perfect" human, but God who chose to fully assume human nature. Theologically he was born and conceived without sin, making him an "unblemished" sacrificial victim. But he experienced doubt and anger and other human frailties, even despair on the cross. He was neither a superman nor inhumanly virtuous.
Rand's point is not that he was a superman or that he was inhumanly virtuous, but that he represented a moral ideal -- someone who was morally perfect -- but who was nevertheless sacrificed to atone for the sins of the morally imperfect.

- Bill



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Friday, April 2 - 5:54pmSanction this postReply
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Fine, Steve. I know the facts. I offered them if you care. Rand's opinion is forgivable, based both on the obscurity of the topic and the fact that she was a Jew and an atheist, but indeed confused and historically ignorant.

You do not contest and you cannot contest that Jesus is portrayed as overcome by anger in the Temple, that he is reported to have whipped the money changers, that he despaired on the cross, asking why God had forsaken him, and so forth. The orthodox churches explicitly preach these examples as demonstrating his human shortcomings. He is not portrayed as a "perfect" human being by the gospels. He is not portrayed as a virtual paragon like the Buddha, nor as some sort of superhero. The Orthodox churches which hold to the Nicene Creed ( the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican Church, and most mainline Protestant churches) consider him fully human, not a perfect human. Jesus' nature was the central controversy of the early Church, subject of innumerable councils and heresies. The orthodox position was settled at the Nicene council.

Perhaps there are obscure sects which do hold Rand's idea of Jesus as an ideal human but her notion of ideal human and theirs is, of course, different. And your assertion of their existence, offered without evidence, is, of course, arbitrary. With the typical ignorance of the Objectivist who thinks himself an expert on everything, you simply assert your opinion as if it were truth. How lucky for you. No need for you to understand what your opponents, however wrong they may be, actually believe. You are miraculously self-sufficient in your contempt.

Orthodox has a meaning, whether you know it or not. So does willful ignorance.



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Post 5

Friday, April 2 - 6:13pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

I'm sorry you choose to insult me for posting a contrary opinion. I don't know why you launch an attack like this: "With the typical ignorance of the Objectivist who thinks himself an expert on everything, you simply assert your opinion as if it were truth."

You were also wrong to accuse me of contempt... but with the kind of encouragement you are giving now, I'll work on that. And accusing me of "willful ignorance" feels like a cheap shot as well.

I, and many others on this forum, would like to see you argue ideas and stop the personal attacks.



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Post 6

Friday, April 2 - 7:49pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

All this drama aside please, you've tickled my curiosity.

How can someone be fully divine, but not fully moral?

When the old testament enshrines a jealous god, what could be so wrong about Christ's anger?

As far as obscure sects that testify of Christ's moral perfection, the Mormons are one.




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Post 7

Friday, April 2 - 8:39pmSanction this postReply
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Ted wrote,
Theologically he [Christ] was born and conceived without sin, making him an "unblemished" sacrificial victim.
So, by your own admission, Christ was an unblemished (i.e., morally pure) sacrificial victim who was crucified in order to atone for the inherited (i.e., unearned) sins of man, which was the very point that Rand was making.

So what is it about her position that you object to? She was not saying that Christ had no human frailties, but that, according to Christianity, he had no moral blemishes -- that he was without sin -- an ideal moral figure who was sacrificed for the sake of those were less than morally ideal.

- Bill



Post 8

Friday, April 2 - 9:21pmSanction this postReply
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By their standards, of course...



Post 9

Saturday, April 3 - 6:56amSanction this postReply
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Ted,

***************
Perhaps there are obscure sects which do hold Rand's idea of Jesus as an ideal human but her notion of ideal human and theirs is, of course, different. And your assertion of their existence, offered without evidence, is, of course, arbitrary.
***************

It goes without saying that Rand didn't think Jesus was ideal according to her standard. According to her standard of the ideal human, John Galt fits, but Jesus doesn't even come close. So, if Rand refers to Jesus as an ideal human then she means ideal as seen through-the-eyes-of various religionists.

I was a Protestant Christian and I was taught that Jesus was the ideal human. I accepted it, too. I, then, am a past example of a Christian thinking that. End of debate.

Ed

p.s. Under Rand's rubric (and looking through the eyes of religionists), Jesus could have made "errors of knowledge" without making any "moral breaches." Keep in mind here that the moral code is the Christian code, and Jesus is either seen to be in line with that code -- or not. He is seen to be either "Christ-like" -- or not.




Post 10

Saturday, April 3 - 9:16amSanction this postReply
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I was a Protestant Christian and I was taught that Jesus was the ideal human. I accepted it, too. I, then, am a past example of a Christian thinking that.
..................

Point is - ye didn't think - ye merely accepted... [end of debate]



Post 11

Saturday, April 3 - 9:30amSanction this postReply
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Doug,

"How can someone be fully divine, but not fully moral?"

Well,... look at all those Greek and Roman gods! Scandalous!!

: )

jt



Post 12

Saturday, April 3 - 11:29amSanction this postReply
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Ahh, but ye couldn't pierce the side of one [tho Ulysses sure gave it the good try]...



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Post 13

Saturday, April 3 - 1:07pmSanction this postReply
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Is there a statute of limitations on mythical whisper down the valley?

If not, then I'd like to contribute my own made-up imaginings to this often retold story.

I was once taught, in my protestant Christian instructed youth, that Jesus once tried to teach his disciples, "Repeat after me: 'I am the way to the Lord.' " And then, a whole slew of apostles, contemporaries, witnesses to this man's life commenced with the story telling, this being one of them.


What if he was misunderstood? Here is my myth:


Jesus: "Repeat after me: 'I am the way to the Lord.'"

Apostles: "You are the way to the Lord."

Jesus: "No, wait a minute, you aren't listening. I said, repeat after me: "I am the way to the Lord."

Apostles: "We heard you: you are the way to the Lord."

Jesus, exasperated: "No, seriously, you aren't listening. Say what I say exactly, word for word: "I am the way to the Lord."

Apostles: "What is it with you? We heard you. You are the way to the Lord. Now, excuses us while ~we~ go form up our football franchises and spread the good word."

Jesus, disgusted: "Fuck 'em, they're idiots. Lord, why have you forsaken ~me~?"


Jesus: possibly the world's first misunderstood Objectivist...





(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 4/03, 1:08pm)




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Post 14

Saturday, April 3 - 6:26pmSanction this postReply
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Good one, Fred.

By the way, I am the way, the truth and the light ... oh, and I need no warrant nor sanction for being, neither -- because I am the warrant and sanction! Lest ye forget.

:-)

Ed

p.s. Boy is it ever cool to be a rational egoist! Feels like I'm Lord over my own life or something! Now, if I can only get these collectivist ghouls and demons (e.g., socialized medicine) off of my back ...




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Post 15

Saturday, April 3 - 7:37pmSanction this postReply
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Once again, Steve, no concern with the facts, just emotions, just your "outrage" at my "insult." You could have asked me to explain myself. But instead it was your usual insulting and contemptuous "give me a break" followed by ignorant nonsense based on the assumption that Rand is infallible and knowledge of the facts on your part is unnecessary.

For me to point this out to you may hurt your feelings, but not because it is an "insult." Name calling like "ass" or worse is insult. Criticism, no matter how strong, or unflattering, is not insult. And arbitrary nonsense prefaced with contemptuous remarks like "give me a break" isn't the sort of thing which deserves a patient response. While once again ignoring the beam in your own eye you mistake me for a cheek-turning Christian.

Rand's remark was wrong, a false statement of Christian theology. I remember objecting to it when I first read it 25 years ago. My respect for intellectual honesty requires me to point it out when someone whom I take seriously on a forum I value mentions it. I am not interested in further explaining the orthodox Christian position, on Jesus' nature, but you obviously aren't concerned with the facts of what Christian teaching is at all. You simply take the position that because Christianity is not true that the burden of factuality doesn't apply to you or your criticisms of it.

You play this game so often. Walter Williams provides an attack on regulators, which you like, but based on explicitly skeptical arguments, which you ignore and then deny because you like him. Because you see him as "one of us." You declare yourself an expert on evolutionary biology, defending Richard Dawkins' pseudoscientific "selfish gene" theory, which has no rigorous scientific formulation, which makes no noevl predictions for which there is any evidence, and which is incontrovertibly refuted by such phenomena as the superiority of the heterozygous condition in sickle-cell anemia.

This dismissal of the necessity to deal with scientific matters scientifically and factual matters factually is the disease of rationalistic "Objectivism." It is no different from David Harriman's absurd denial of the truth of Einsteinian relativity based based on his brilliant criticism that "space doesn't bend" (an ignorant strawman characterization of the theory) and his criticism of quantum mechanics based on Harriman's adamant repetition that existence exists. It is no different from Leonard Peikoff's learned pontifications on the origins of homosexuality in "bad premises" and its "forgivability" because said premises are acquired in infancy. It is no different from self-described Objectivists making up their own etymological explanations of the origins of English words like belong out of whole cloth. It is no difference from "Objectivists" declaring themselves experts on trespass or property law when they have no conception of such concepts as variances or rights of way or attractive nuisances. What matter facts when every Objectivist is entitled to his own opinion?

And then, of course, when such nonsense is pointed out, the reaction is never admission that maybe further investigation into the actual documented thought on the matter might be relevant. It's an overblown, outraged, moralistic attack on the person who points out your nakedness. That's one area of skill where there is no question of expertise.

Well, to quote an expert on the matter, give me a break.



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Saturday, April 3 - 7:49pmSanction this postReply
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Doug: "How can someone be fully divine, but not fully moral?"

Christianity isn't about morality. It's about salvation. The notion that God is perfectly moral in the sense of objectively just or so forth is a modern one. The God of the old testament was perfectly partisan on favor of the Jews as a tribe. God's dictates are law because he is God, and what is good is for us to do what he demands. That is the point of the stories of Job and of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac at God's command.

And of course one can't justify God's willingness to accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as if it were a morally acceptible deal. But it is, obviously, a "divine" sort of thing, if one considers sacrifices to Baal, etc. It's a barbarian, pagan (not to insult the Greeks) sort of notion that even Christians when pressed will admit is nonsense (The official term is a "mystery.")

Don't expect me to make sense of this, I am just trying to report the premises accurately. They don't lead to proper conclusions.

(Edited by Ted Keer on 4/03, 8:34pm)




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Post 17

Saturday, April 3 - 7:55pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

Well, I guess you've been holding that in for a long time (post #15). Feel better?

I liked Bill's response in post #7. Notice how he addresses the facts. How sad that you carry around a grudge about differences of opinion on everything from evolutionary biology, to what Walter Williams meant in a column.

Let us all bow deeply to the wondrous Ted Keer - the only person on earth that is always right and for whom all disagreements are personal insults - to be nurtured and brought forth months later.

(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 4/03, 8:44pm)




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Post 18

Saturday, April 3 - 8:08pmSanction this postReply
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Bill, "So, by your own admission, Christ was an unblemished (i.e., morally pure) sacrificial victim who was crucified in order to atone for the inherited (i.e., unearned) sins of man, which was the very point that Rand was making."

Also a good question. Once again, I can't really defend ideas which have to be taken on faith as if they were fully comprehensible. The idea is based on the notion that we are all born in a state of mortal sin, i.e., that we will go to hell for Adam's sin if not forgiven. Jesus was born to a virgin, unblemished by original sin. It's a "metaphysical" thing. It is a notion which makes sense in the context of the offering of unblemished animal sacrifices to God in the temple. (The Jews of Jesus time made burnt animal offerings.) The blemish of original sin was a (meta)physical mark on men. A perfectly virtuous life could not remove it.

Jesus is held not to have committed any mortal sins, but this does not amount to moral perfection in the sense of any morality of objective virtues. Sin and immorality are different things for the Christian. One sins by disobeying God, not by doing something that is not virtuous. This is, of course, glossed over or ignored by modern Christians. (Think about the "what would Jesus do?" mantra. Should a Christian beat moneychangers with a whip? Of course not, his teachings are more important than his actions.) It is easy to see why Rand would have been misled on the idea.



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Post 19

Saturday, April 3 - 8:16pmSanction this postReply
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For what it's worth, Ted, I appreciate the historical  perspective you've been trying to offer.




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