David Fitzgerald Spots Christian Myths, Misses Atheist Myths |356|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    David Fitzgerald Spots Christian Myths, Misses Atheist Myths |356|
    by Alex Tsakiris | Jul 25 | Skepticism, Spirituality

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    Atheist David Fitzgerald seeks to dispel Christian myths.[​IMG]
    photo by: Skeptiko
    On this episode of Skeptiko…

    David Fitzgerald: Whether you’re talking about Islamic fundamentalists or Christian fundamentalists or Libertarian fundamentalists, they all have a lot of the same structures.

    Alex Tsakiris: Well that’s because they’re all based on these cultish principles.

    David Fitzgerald: Exactly.

    Alex Tsakiris: … that’s the part that I feel like is often missing from the public discourse — it’s cultish folks. We understand how mind control works, we understand how different groups in our society are trying to manipulate other groups and some of those are in a religious kind of framework, some of them are outside of that and some of them are somewhere in between like Scientology, no one thinks Scientology is a “religion” religion, but clearly they’re pushing the same button in terms of cultish practices.

    David Fitzgerald: Yes. It’s wrong, not even just because it’s correct or incorrect corresponding to reality but because of the way it defends itself, because of the way it perpetrates itself.

    later…

    Alex Tsakiris: “Consciousness is an illusion” is NOT true. It’s been falsified over and over again. That’s my gripe with atheists — it’s more dogma. It’s like, “No, I can’t let go of that idea because I’ve built all this other stuff on it,”

    … So the Richard Dawkins’ “biological robot” stuff, I mean that’s bullshit. It’s just not true true, you know? So that’s my rub and I don’t understand why atheists aren’t more interested in trying to wrestle that to the ground, but… they’re just like, “No, no, no, it’s true, we can’t really touch that, let’s just move onto the next topic.”

    Stay with us for Skeptiko…

    Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers and their critics. As you know I have been pretty hard on atheists over the years and that’s because I think in terms of the big picture questions, who are we, why are we here? The atheistic dogma that we usually hear leaves those folks on the outside looking in, without much to really contribute to those interesting questions.

    But, on the other hand, I am drawn to the atheist position, in terms of these kinds of outsiders who are willing to challenge the religious existing dogma that still casts a huge shadow, not only on our culture but on the personal lives of many, many people.

    So, when I heard that today’s guest David Fitzgerald, prominent atheistic biblical scholar if you will, I hate when people revolt when people say ‘biblical scholar’, he’s enough of a biblical scholar for me, but when I saw that he had a new book (Jesus: Mything in Action) I was anxious to get him on, it’s taken a couple of months in the making to make that happen and I know it kind of follows a bunch of other shows that I’ve done on Christianity, but that’s okay, that’s just the way it came out. I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to Dave. Here is that interview.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
  2. chotki

    chotki Member

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    Here we go again...

    Ok, fine, but you get why that griping is there in the first place, don't you? This is like someone responding,

    I hate when people tell me that the kid on the street corner who sells me pills isn't a doctor. He's enough of a doctor for me.
     
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  3. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's question at the end of the podcast:

    Is Christianity a cult [rather than something distinct from a cult -- as if there's a dividing line between cults and Christianity]?
     
  4. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    All religions are cults (personal opinion)
     
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  5. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
  6. chotki

    chotki Member

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    The first thing they teach us in seminary is how to brainwash the lot of you. But we're still not as evil as the law school students.
     
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  7. What about conspiracy theory myths like the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare Gloria Steinem raised money for?

    Or the myth that some atheists are secret Satanists?
     
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  8. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    I think pedo rings involving elites have overwhelming evidence
     
  9. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    Having heard Fitzgerald's caricature of Jesus I'm equally atheist to the existence of such a being. His blinkers regarding mind=brain and "I just don’t have enough information to confirm or deny what you’re saying at the moment" (read: over my dead body), are the same one that places Jesus among the Superheroes. It's not evidence that's lacking but a chronic lack of awareness on Fitzgerald's part.

    There must be a religious factory that turns out these cookie cutter Christians that drop everything for the first New Age theory that competes with the banalities they were raised on. Stupid belief 1 replaced by stupid belief 2.
     
  10. Dante

    Dante Member

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    You know, this was an interesting one (though I didn't listen to the audio, just skimmed over the excerpts) for a couple of reasons. I think his openness to consciousness studies, at least from what I gleaned, was reasonable. It was nice to see him admit that he really hadn't looked into that stuff in any sort of detail, hadn't thought too much about it, and as a result didn't elaborate or go too far with any analysis of his own. That part was refreshing, because he wasn't arrogantly or dogmatically making grandiose statements about consciousness without having adequately researched it.

    On the other hand, the rest of the podcast was just same old, same old, as of late. More religion bashing, more discussion of the shortcomings of organized religion, etc. For me that whole shtick got old a long time ago. Would be really nice to get a podcast with an actual in depth discussion with literally any informed person about consciousness science/paranormal studies.

    Edit: Would also like to point out that calling him a biblical scholar is hardly different than calling a number of people on this forum or elsewhere philosophers or philosophical scholars for having read a number of philosophical works and discussing them/analyzing them at length.
     
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  11. Dante

    Dante Member

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    It's exceptionally important to take note of the actual views that many of these people reject. Calling their beliefs "Christianity" isn't so different from saying "I believe in God" or "I don't believe in God" without elaborating at all on what you mean by "God".

    Once Dave elaborated a bit on exactly what about Christianity is to him, it became easier to see what he is rejecting and why. I suppose for me it's just almost like he and others of this ilk are sort of missing the point.
     
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  12. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    How "cult" is defined can be very subjective and it is usually used pejoratively, so I'd say that Christianity could sometimes be considered a cult, but there's no use in defining it as such (other than rhetorical).

    Nice to hear he's open-minded... send him some emails and IONS pamphlets and maybe you can make a convert out of him! :eek: :)
     
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  13. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    Agreed. Alex didn't pursue the point regarding epiphenomenal consciousness as the building block the rest of his assumptions are built on, but it's essentially a + or - answer. Either conscious awareness is smoke from the engine, or consciousness is a something. Fitzgerald was deferring the conclusion by not addressing it.

    Cult has the same root as culture. Some people think culture is meaningless, they're generally known as despots.
     
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  14. chotki

    chotki Member

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    Indeed. The only way to reach the "Christianity is a cult" conclusion is to start with a very limited, blinkered window onto what is a tremendously diverse, two-millennia-old family of traditions. Well, that and twisting the definition of "cult" so much that Wittgenstein would rise from his grave to renounce all his work on linguistic philosophy.

    This reminds me of a couple of memories. The first was a set of conversations with a friend in middle school. He insisted on calling himself a Christian because, well, he believed in God. He didn't have any meaningful participation in a religious community or any particular knowledge of the Bible or traditional Christian doctrines.

    The second was an experience working alongside Canadian archaeology students during a dig in Israel when I was in college. Most of them were quite secular, of course, but they kept wanting to have conversations about religion with me, the future minister. After the first big conversation at the kibbutz I overheard one of them say to the other, "It's great that he's not a bigot." I discovered through the remaining few weeks that most of these kids had an image of Christianity formed exclusively by interactions with fundamentalist groups.

    The Christianity of my middle-school friend was a simplistic act of idiosyncratic self-expression. The Christianity experienced by my Canadian peers was of the ilk that probably defines the religion for most members of this forum. The Christianity I articulated was radically different from both. Heck, it's different from what I believe now.

    I've seen a lot, practiced a lot, read about a lot. I've certainly never come across mind control, let alone exerted it over others.
     
  15. Silence

    Silence Member

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    You won't get through to those convinced of the conspiracy of organized religion. They'll likely attribute your lack of awareness to having been already mind controlled by the puppet masters; whomever they may be.
     
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  16. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I was glad he didn't pursue the problem with consciousness, because I think it is usually best to let the guests say what they want to say.

    Nevertheless, I was struck by the way DF really didn't seem to get the problem with epiphenomenal consciousness. Maybe it helps to have a technical/scientific background, because you can take the picture of the brain, and ask what would we need to add to the picture to get awareness?

    Would discovering more neurotransmitters, more hormones, or more types of neuron make a difference?

    Would a computer simulation of the brain (gedanken for the foreseeable future) be conscious?

    Is there a difference between analog and digital computation?

    Further away, these questions blur out, and it is easier to think that a bit more scientific progress could produce an explanation for consciousness and a machine with a mind.

    I do think the idea that Jesus was a myth, is seductive!

    David
     
  17. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Is Christianity a cult [rather than something distinct from a cult -- as if there's a dividing line between cults and Christianity]?

    I think the really interesting question is why we have the myths that we have and whether or not they reflect something that is in a sense real. Do religious myths embody some pervasive understanding relevant to the time, place and people where they were spawned? Also, to what extent does that understanding have the power to persist over time? The story of, for example, Jesus, is embedded in an historical milieu: one in which Judea was under the imperial rule of Rome, and that, as far as we know, isn't myth. Into this backdrop, the story of one individual, Jesus, is woven. Maybe some elements of the story are factually true: we'll probably never know.

    A bit like Like QM (whether or not any of the myth is true), there existed a potential at that time for a figure like Jesus to have been constructed. A figure, who despite the barbarity of the period, brought a message of love and non-retaliation. That wasn't a new message, but it perhaps was the first time it had been brought to the attention of so many potential believers; the first time that so many people had been open to it. Of course, over time the essential message was progressively corrupted by institutionalised religion, but somehow it managed to persist regardless: there have always been, and will always be, people for whom the message resonates.

    Many of these people, I would assert, are those who currently think of themselves as "liberal" atheists. For all that, their morality shares much in common with Christianity. They might have difficulty explaining how it is that their morality is correct sans the religion; they might go to inordinate lengths (witness people like Sam Harris) to explain how morality arose in a world devoid of any ultimate meaning or purpose, but nonetheless they make the attempt. In doing so, they are currently attempting to create a new myth for a new cult, all the while maintaining that they are past such things.

    Yes, folks, we're still surrounded by myths and cults, often propagated by atheists. The fact that they have taken hold in some people (scientists and progressives; sometimes people are both at the same time) isn't so strange. This is a time in which the universe is believed by many to have arisen from nothing and for no purpose; in which there are so many myths (the big bang, black holes, virtually infinite multiple universes and so on), but there still has to be some powerful and possibly even absolute notion of morality. A morality that is curiously similar to Christianity even when the latter is being derided as nonsense.

    It's not whether named individuals like Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus and Mohammed actually existed and acted in precisely the manner asserted by their most literal (and therefore cultish) followers. Rather, it's whether, for the people of the time and place where these religions arose, the prime figure represented their idea of how the perfect person would act in the universe as they then understood it. No putative religious leader arises in a vacuum: they were born into, or were constructed within, a culture. However sublime and abstracted their understandings (or those retrospectively attributed to them), they were the product of their times: of the minds of those times, which belonged to human beings. That is, religions and religious myths are human in origin, as are the cults that form around them.

    Nonetheless, the myths do seem to have evolved over time, that only persisting which, for whatever reason, we haven't been able to completely eliminate. Apparently, we continue to feel the need to incorporate this into our current zeitgeist.
     
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  18. oleo

    oleo Member

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    Some of the most insecure, childish and selfish people I have ever known called themselves Christian.
    Some of the kindest, most gentle and seemingly wise, people I have had the good fortune to have met. Have also called themselves christian.
    If that constitutes a cult. I'm onboard.
     
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  19. Alex

    Alex New

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    nice :)
     
  20. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    That's certainly true of Jesus. His followers believed he had come to fulfil Jewish prophecies until he turned all their expectations on their head. Everything, literally, is forged in a culture including the presuppositions of materialism, rationalism and humanism. The interesting thing culturally, is people increasingly believe some things are outside culture and those are the important things. The core debate on Skeptiko is the extent to which such people do not see their cultural underpinnings, and that isn't exclusive to Christians, though it's certainly a trait among ill-informed hypodermic Christianity. But that's as true of capitalism, communism and physicalism as religious belief, but there's less money in re-framing those for a popular appetite.
     
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