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Post 80

Thursday, April 8 - 9:11pmSanction this postReply
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Interesting how you don't praise us for checking our premises.

When you say "As I see it, there are no facts worth looking at when it comes to these sick and morally twisted Jews and Christians" do you realize you're evaluation of their morality is at least in part based on the very facts we're quibbling over?


(Edited by Doug Fischer on 4/08, 9:13pm)




Post 81

Thursday, April 8 - 10:34pmSanction this postReply
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The issue, Steve (who is not Wolfer), is not that Rand was wrong, but that people who support the primacy of existence should be concerned with the truth. The truth is that Christians don't believe quite what Rand implies. The issue itself is minor as far as things go for rational egoism per se (and I never expected even the least objection to my first post on this thread) but factual accuracy, even about nonsense, is factual accuracy.

Most of us here are ex-Christians, and I can tell you that if you want to convert a serious thinker the best way to lose your argument and miss the opportunity to convert a person is to mischaracterize his beliefs to him. It's not that RAND was wrong, it's that Rand was WRONG.

And of course she was also right, Steve. I said that myself in my first post.

As for the argument not being clear in this thread, it is largely my fault for letting myself get distracted by arguments that concerned the contents of people's consciousness rather than verifiable external evidence.



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Post 82

Thursday, April 8 - 11:33pmSanction this postReply
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Doug: The point above is one reason Christians have been hostile to the acceptance of Mormons as Christian. The argument goes that since Mormon salvation depends on personal virtue, people can save themselves, without Christ. the Mormon response is that there are two conditions for salvation, christ and virtue.

Doug, technically Mormons don't believe in salvation in the way mainstream Christians do, where you either go to heaven or hell. Mormons believe that virtually everyone gets to go to a variant of heaven, with three degrees of exaltation. It's a kinder theology, where you have to really work at full-on hardcore depravity to wind up in hell.

The reason that Mormons tend to be so determined in being good-natured when they aren't at the ballot box is that they believe that virtuous works matter for getting to the best or at least better heavens. It's not objective or reality-based, but it results in tolerably good neighbors -- if you're gonna be delusional, better to have a delusion that results in pleasant clean-scrubbed cheerfulness than in flying airplanes into buildings.

So, no, Mormons don't believe you can completely save yourself without Christ, but they do give bonus points for good behavior, which to me seems like a more rational form of irrationality than saying you can be really wicked all your life and still get to heaven on your deathbed. I don't really get all the hostility over this by non-Mormons -- it seems kinda mean-spirited and counterproductive to fault people for encouraging good behavior.





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Post 83

Thursday, April 8 - 11:50pmSanction this postReply
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Ted: "The truth is that Christians don't believe quite what Rand implies."

This is technically true, in that non-Objectivist Christians have different starting premises about altruism and virtue, and so they generally don't see the point she was getting at. They just don't think in terms of the evil of sacrificing a perfect value for lesser values. It's like a person with normal color perception trying to envision what infrared looks like to bees.

But, orthodox Christians do believe that Jesus behaved perfectly, and that that unblemished behavior was necessary for him to become the sacrificial lamb that atoned for their sins. That is, to them that perceived perfection was a necessary but not sufficient qualification for the job. They believe that an additional qualification was necessary -- divinity.

That is, a morally perfect mortal wouldn't do for the Atonement -- which is why they get peeved if you question the Resurrection, since if that didn't happen, then they would be left with just a well-behaved philosophically astute carpenter nailed to lumber and then dying and rotting in a tomb, and that wouldn't save any of them.



Post 84

Friday, April 9 - 12:40amSanction this postReply
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That's an interesting distinction, Jim. So, is "technical" truth a new a new species of truth, like ersatz diamonds and faux pearls? ;)
"But, orthodox Christians do believe that Jesus behaved perfectly, and that that unblemished behavior was necessary for him to become the sacrificial lamb that atoned for their sins."
That is obviously a carefully crafted sentence. But it is an equivocation. "Behaved" and "unblemished" are conveniently vague. You could metaphysically unblemished virginal or not contaminated by shellfish. Or you could mean polite to his mother and forgiving of the moneychangers. You are using words which can mean different things just those things which are at question here. But morally ideal and free of sin are simply not the same thing. Rand was quite familiar with the idea of sin and if that is what she had meant she would have said it.

What was necessary for Jesus was not moral perfection but that he be the messiah as foretold:

Messiah was to be born at Bethlehem: Micah 5:1
Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah: Genesis 49:10
Messiah would present himself by riding on an ass: Zechariah 9:9
Messiah would be tortured to death: Psalm 22
Messiah would arrive before the destruction of the Second Temple: Daniel 9:24-27
Messiah's life would match a particular description, including suffering, silence at his arrest and trial, death and burial in a rich man's tomb, and resurrection: Isaiah 52:13-53:12

If you can find such a list that includes "Messiah would be a morally ideal human," then I will concede the point..



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Post 85

Friday, April 9 - 8:43amSanction this postReply
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Ted: By "technically" true, I mean that words in English often have multiple meanings, and that context and POV can further alter those meanings. So, in an attempt to describe a single objective reality, two people can use the same words but mean somewhat different things by them, and observers have to try and distinguish among the different possible meanings when trying to understand the words someone else uses.

For example, the state senator in charge of the Hawaii legislature's Ways and Means (WAM) committee describes herself as a "fiscal conservative". To her, that term means "someone who would balance the state budget deficit by raising taxes and fees to the tune of several hundreds of millions of dollars, and also cutting a lot of unionized public worker jobs". And, relative to the radicals in the Democratic caucus who want to not cut any unionized jobs at all, and impose much more massive tax increases, the phrase "fiscal conservative" makes sense if one is a Democratic legislator.

But, when I use the phrase "fiscal conservative", I mean someone who would balance the budget by firing huge swaths of those unionized public workers and CUT taxes. I would describe the aforementioned WAM chairwoman as "less fiscally immoderate and imprudent" -- and when I use that phrase, it means approximately the same thing as when a Democratic senator uses the phrase "fiscal conservative".



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Post 86

Friday, April 9 - 9:25amSanction this postReply
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Ted: "If you can find such a list that includes "Messiah would be a morally ideal human," then I will concede the point."

That's an easy one, Ted.

Exodus 12:5 "Your lamb shall be without blemish"

Leviticus 4:32 talks about how if you bring a lamb as a sin offering, it must be without blemish

The tale of Cain and Abel talks about how insufficient sacrificial offerings are displeasing to Yahweh

This link talks about how Jesus had to be an unblemished sacrificial lamb:

http://southernhillscoc.org/daily_bible_reading/tag/unblemished-lamb/

The story of Abraham and Isaac talks about offering a human sacrifice instead of the usual lamb

John 1:29 "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

The last supper tells of Jesus saying the wine is "my blood" and the bread is "my body", in effect saying he will be the Passover lamb (which must be without blemish), offered up to atone for everyone else's sins.

And no, the Bible doesn't use the phrase "the Messiah would be a morally ideal human", because their audience wasn't 21st century Objectivists. They used words that would resonate with 1st century Jewish peasants. But the meaning was clear: the human Passover sacrifice must be a morally unblemished son of God.





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Post 87

Friday, April 9 - 11:14amSanction this postReply
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In order to lend credence to your argument, Jim, it helps to be unaware of what blemish means. Unblemished is a metaphysical/aesthetic notion, not a moral one.

The (minor) logical objection

You are equivocating again. You are begging the question here when you say "morally unblemished" You can't say
"But the meaning was clear: the human Passover sacrifice must be a morally unblemished son of God.[*]"
Simply inserting the word "morally" here is assuming the conclusion, not demonstrating it. Your prior statements don't refer once to morality, character or behavior.

The (devastating) historical objection

I'm sure its been a while since anyone any of us knows has burnt a turtledove. So I suspect most of us don't even know what an unblemished sacrifice is. It is an animal without any physical deformities or discolorations or abnormalities. Not a well behaved lamb, but rather a clean, healthy and physically ideal lamb. Deafness and lameness and bastardy and certain other congenital conditions make one ineligible under traditional Jewish law to be a priest or a rabbi or to take part in certain ceremonies. That's hardly a moral distinction.

Indeed, consider what the word blemish means in regard to the Cohens, the hereditary Jewish priestly class:
Qualifications and disqualifications

In biblical and Temple times, kohanim could assume their duties once they reached physical maturity (usually age 13). However, the fraternity of kohanim generally would not allow young kohanim to begin service until they reached the age of 20.[6] There was no mandatory retirement age. Only when a kohen became physically infirm could he no longer serve.[7]

Certain imperfections could disqualify a kohen from serving in the Temple. Since the Temple was a place of beauty and the services that were held in it were designed to inspire visitors to thoughts of repentance and closeness to God, a less than physically perfect kohen would mar the atmosphere.

These blemishes include:


blindness
lameness
an excessively low nasal bridge (such that a straight brush could apply ointment to both eyes simultaneously)
disproportionate limbs
a crippled foot or hand
cataracts
a white streak that transverses the junction between sclera (white part of the eyeball) and iris
certain types of boils
crushed testicles
(emphasis added)

So, if your point is that Rand held that Christians believe that Jesus was sacrificed because he was neither blind nor lame nor had crushed testicles, I will concede the point.


*Of course, if you can find mention of some blemished sons of God I might also rethink my position.


(Edited by Ted Keer on 4/09, 11:45am)




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Post 88

Friday, April 9 - 11:52amSanction this postReply
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Ted: "If you can find such a list that includes "Messiah would be a morally ideal human," then I will concede the point.."

I proceeded to do that. Instead of conceding the point, you tried to use one definition of "unblemished" that doesn't mean what most Christian mean when they talk about Christ being unblemished, as in the example I gave here:

http://southernhillscoc.org/daily_bible_reading/tag/unblemished-lamb/

As I pointed out in post 85, words can mean different things to different people. What matters is not what Old Testament Jews meant when they were talking about a literal sacrifice of a animal upon a literal alter, nor the semantic word games and goalpost shifting you used in order to avoid conceding the point you said you would concede upon being supplied with the references I gave you in post 86.

What matters is what most Christians believe is meant by "unblemished" in the context of Jesus allegedly being the Lamb of God, which is that they regard him as a morally unblemished divine being, and that this morally unblemished state was one of many necessary prerequisites for him to do the Atonement. And so, yes, based on those thoughts in their heads, Ayn Rand is correct in pointing out that the central theme of Christianity can, from her perspective, be regarded as sacrificing a higher value, a being that most Christians regard as morally imperfect, in order to save lesser values.

Now, Christians who hold at least some Objectivist beliefs might quibble with Ayn Rand's interpretation, and say that the Atonement was NOT an altruistic sacrifice as defined by Objectivists. They might point out the economic theory that value is necessarily a subjective thing, that a thing is worth precisely what someone thinks it is worth at a given point in time, no more and no less, and that those valuations vary from person to person and over time. And so, given that, such Christians with Objectivist views might hold that Jesus' Atonement was not a sacrifice as that term is defined by Objectivists if Jesus felt that he was gaining a higher value -- eternal salvation, the glory of being a member of the Godhead, the satisfaction of knowing that He had enabled countless others to rejoin him in Heaven -- in exchange for a temporary death that would be reversed in the Resurrection.

And, it would not matter if Objectivists consider all those beliefs delusional, and feel that Jesus did in fact die, and die permanently, and did not go to heaven because there IS no heaven. What would matter for determining whether the crucifixion was a Objectivist sacrifice for Jesus was whether Jesus himself felt he was giving up a higher value for a lesser value at the time when he made the decisions that sealed his fate and made the crucifixion inevitable.

And Ayn Rand DID NOT address that topic. Rather, she addressed whether most contempory Christians felt that Jesus' acquiescence to being crucified was a sacrifice, as that term is defined by Objectivists. And I think she is entirely correct in that assessment -- most (though certainly not all) contempory Christians do regard the Atonement as a sacrifice.



Post 89

Friday, April 9 - 12:18pmSanction this postReply
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Don't you get, Jim, that I am not interested in anyone's assertion of what it is that Objectivists 'know" or arguments from linguistic relativism or any of these rationalist methods of thinking? Objectivism is all about the proper reality-oriented epistemology, not word games and arbitrary assertions. It's the height of arrogance to imply that Rand didn't mean exactly what she said. It's special pleading in the extreme to quote scripture about Jesus as an unblemished lamb for the sacrifice as if it had to do with morality and then turn around one post later and say that the word unblemished doesn't mean what the Gospel and Old Testament writers whom you just quoted meant by it. The mental gymnastics are incredible.

Why is it so hard to concede that Rand's statement of what Christian philosophy holds about the Crucifixion is inaccurate? What do we lose if we concede that point? The pope is the one person on earth who "necessarily speaks infallibly when he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals as being contained in divine revelation,"

Why does anyone want to insist that Rand is the pope?



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Post 90

Friday, April 9 - 2:46pmSanction this postReply
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Ted: Objectivism is all about the proper reality-oriented epistemology, not word games and arbitrary assertions.

Your revealed preferences on this thread are for the latter, not the former.





Post 91

Friday, April 9 - 3:17pmSanction this postReply
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There you go again.

Unable to make a coherent argument based on the issues (as if unblemished doesn't mean exactly what it means, and as if quoting the evidence of scripture to show what unblemished means isn't evidence) someone resorts to a "nuh-uh, you are" personal attack. Suprise! As if I made up what an unblemished sacrifice is out of my head. It's uncanny. Like clockwork. And it would be funny if it weren't put forth as if it were the sort of reasoned and evidence based arguments you should expect from Objectivists.

I am very happy to accept that statement as a proof of the merit of your arguments above, and move on.

Rand's characterization of what the Christian philosophy of the crucifixion is is objectively and demonstrably wrong.

Next.


(Edited by Ted Keer on 4/09, 3:22pm)




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Post 92

Friday, April 9 - 5:48pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

Bill, Jim, and I are (former) Christians. We've each admitted that here. We've each "personally" contradicted your theory about Rand being wrong about how Christians viewed Jesus. Yet, you've denied us three times ...

When you say that Christians think a certain way about Jesus Christ, then you are the one being arrogant and intellectually evasive. Bill, Jim, and I are ... well ... we are like "three wise men" -- and you are acting like we don't really exist (or we must be "lying" about viewing Jesus as ideal; or "lying" about the fact that we were Christians).

You have to pretend that we don't exist for the simple fact that we are all (former) Christians who believe(d) Jesus to be ideal. Let me say that again, so that you don't miss it. No, forget it. If you can't understand that the first time that it is said to you -- if you can't see us as living contradictions to your theory -- then repeating it is all too unlikely to get you to understand.

Every Christian I know of thinks of Jesus as ideal. You are arrogantly asking us to pretend that these Christians don't exist (or are lying). In treating us 3 "wise men" like we can't possibly be sincere when we say we are (former) Christians who believe(d) Jesus to be ideal, you have taken the "No True Scotsman" fallacy to a whole new and even more absurd level.

You keep harping on about how Objectivists are such huffy-puffy, arrogant, one-sided debators. Speak for yourself.

Ed




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Post 93

Friday, April 9 - 6:46pmSanction this postReply
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Ed, Jesus may or may not have been in Rand's words a "morally ideal" human but that was not why Christians believe he was sacrificed. This makes what, the 20th time I have said this?

Interested not in the sparkling intuitive speculation of Objectivists, but in actual real-world evidence of what Christian philosophy teaches, I have, in addition to other sources, referred any curious readers here to the Catholic Encyclopedia which has an entire chapter on the nature of the atonement. It speaks of Jesus' fully divine and fully human nature, of the redeeming power of his blood, of his ransoming us with his self as if he were a mediaeval nobleman, but it never mentions the importance of his ideal human morality once. The Catholic Encyclopedia bears the imprimatur, meaning it speaks with ecclesiastical authority. You yourself can certainly provide a quote from scripture or an actual authoritative theological text that says he was sacrificed because he was morally ideal, if that is the case. Until then your opinions and your personal comments are as the tinkling of brass.

I have smiled at your wordplay here and earlier in this thread. But if you are going to 'quote' me, then at least actually quote me. About Objectivists, "huffy-puffy" and "one sided" are your words, I have never used them. (Is it so hard to quote me? Go ahead. I dare you.) I have said that many Objectivists are prone to rationalism, an analysis with which Leonard Peikoff agrees. And regarding specific posters here who have resorted in desperation with ad hominem, emotionalism, equivocation, and other sins, I stand behind my every comment and I refer the objective reader to my above posts to hear my exact accusations. And for you to put the word "lying" in quotes as if I had said it is mighty sloppy at best. As you are one of the few people here who will admit an error when pressed, I expect better than these questionable tactics from you.

I look forward to your evidence.


(Edited by Ted Keer on 4/09, 8:34pm)




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Post 94

Friday, April 9 - 11:24pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

I need no more evidence, Ted. I AM the evidence -- i.e., a (former) Christian; believing that the sacrifice of Jesus was the sacrifice of the ideal to the non-.

Perhaps Bill and Jim would answer similarly. In fact, I'd bet on it. Perhaps thousands upon thousands upon thousands upon thousands of Christians would answer similarly (certainly all the Christians whom I know). Yet that -- the living evidence -- wouldn't be good enough for you, Ted, now would it?

No.

If every Christian but one believed the way I did, then you would hold out and say that it is not a "True Christian" way to believe. You would scurry through ancient texts in order to find some minutia that is supposed to cancel out all of this living evidence (as if ancient scrolls carry more weight than actual living Christians believing actual things).

You would argue about angels dancing on the head of a pin -- when there is a real world out there were these facts can get checked (rather than be willfully ignored or dismissed).

This isn't rocket science, it's basic logic applied to reality.

Ed
(Edited by Ed Thompson on 4/09, 11:26pm)




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Post 95

Friday, April 9 - 11:41pmSanction this postReply
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Ed: I need no more evidence, Ted. I AM the evidence -- i.e., a (former) Christian; believing that the sacrifice of Jesus was the sacrifice of the ideal to the non-.

Me too. I was a Mormon Christian. What Ed said above is what the Church preaches. My wife is a very nominal Catholic. What Ed said above is what that branch of Christianity preaches. My mother is a fundie Protestant. What Ed said above is what at least her sect preaches (can't speak for all of the scattered sects of Protestants, since by (lack of) (intelligent?) design there is no central authority for Protestantism.)

Oh, and sanctioned Ed's post.
(Edited by Jim Henshaw on 4/09, 11:49pm)




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Post 96

Friday, April 9 - 11:44pmSanction this postReply
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Bill, Jim, and I are (former) Christians. We've each admitted that here. We've each "personally" contradicted your theory about Rand being wrong about how Christians viewed Jesus. Yet, you've denied us three times ...

Ed, you owe me a new monitor. Sprayed orange juice on it when I read that last line. ;)

Sanction, obviously.



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Post 97

Saturday, April 10 - 4:41amSanction this postReply
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Someone wrote: "... the sacrifice of Jesus was the sacrifice of the ideal to the non-. "

This is total nonsense.

But there's no need for me to make an argument, for the easiest thing to do is simply go to the source.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Romans 3:23-25 For all have sinned - In Adam, and in their own persons; by a sinful nature, sinful tempers, and sinful actions. And are fallen short of the glory of God - The supreme end of man; short of his image on earth, and the enjoyment of him in heaven. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Romans 4:24-25 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
 
Romans 5:6-8 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1Cor 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1Cor 5:7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Gala 1:3-5 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Ephe 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace

Hebr 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

1Joh 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1Joh 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For centuries, the dominant mainstream Christian teachings (both Protestant and Catholic) regarding the death and resurrection of Christ, have been about: redemption, sacraficial atonement, reconcilliation with God, God's grace, purification and most importantly, salvation.

This is quite plain and simple to see, and should not be too hard to understand, really.

At first, given the obviousness of the only reasonable answer, I found this this an odd "debate" to have at all; however, I must admit, that upon reflection, I found this instructive in one respect.

Howard

(Edited by Howard Campbell on 4/10, 5:51am)




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Post 98

Saturday, April 10 - 9:51amSanction this postReply
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"I found this instructive in one respect"

I was "raised" in a Mormon home from nine to seventeen years old. At fifteen I refused to go to church anymore. There is nothing even faintly resembling logical or critical thinking going on in a Mormon church. They have a "lay" priesthood, meaning non-professional. The teachings consist of nothing but story telling. Any questions are met with "You must have faith." "Believe, and God will speak to you". It is the most primitive culture you can imagine. Like any primitive culture their members absolutely believe these stories are true, the "Word of God". They take comfort in certainty. They are monumentally arrogant in their "humility" before God. Eric Hoffer explains quite well the phenomenon of "true believers" carrying their absolute certainty from one belief system to another. Nothing is more annoying, or stupid, as an Objectivist "true believer".



Post 99

Saturday, April 10 - 11:16amSanction this postReply
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Good thing you weren't raised by Jesuits, Mike.




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