Did Jesus Exist? Joseph Atwill Vs. Steven Crowder |386|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. Philemon

    Philemon Member

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    What does Atwill mean by calling Thelema satanic? What does “satanic” mean when you think of the Bible the way that Atwill thinks of the Bible?
     
  2. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    The "Jesus" story has been twisted so much its hard to know what means what.
    I personally think he was a pacifist pansy turning his cheek way to often
     
  3. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    I didn't watch this interview either but seen thelemic is satanic. Damn I hate Christians and religion
     
  4. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    Being a Christian would be a philosophical or religious identification centred on a spiritual principle. Paul, who essentially invented the idea of Christ was not, apparently, talking about an historic person so much as a spiritual being. Of course Paul can be interpreted in other ways too. There are Christians who do not think Jesus is literally historic with no great discomfort. There are scholars who insist that there is no firm evidence of an identifiable individual who can be confidently said to be the Jesus of the Bible. But that does not mean he did not exist - just that it is pretty irrelevant. Seriously, who remembers Marconi or Edison when we think radio or electric lights? A thousand years from now historians might be arguing whether either was a real person. It may matter to a historian, but we are not natively historians. Our native turf is myth - and the Jesus we have now is way more myth than anything else.
     
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  5. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    Granted. I will take the odds. Huge coincidence that Mithras was born on the same day. But I do also grant that God may have reserved a special day for such moments events.
     
  6. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    This is a very fair point. To the extent that there was a coherent conspiracy around Christianity I do not think it came down to this level. The remarkable rise of an obscure faith does suggest that its elevation was manipulated, but I know nothing in detail about this and cannot comment.

    The moral elements of the Gospels seem to be sincere, though there does seem also to be a lot of theological and doctrinal fiddling. I think there is little doubt that what emerge as the final version of the Gospels is the result of seriously tough wrangling. My sense is that we are too remote from the time to have a proper sense of the passions and values.

    A close reading of the Gospels can leave one scratching one's head in puzzlement at times, but the safer, more superficial reading can create a decent moral picture.

    To me then politics of historicity and literalism are very distinct from treating the NT as a source of spiritual guidance.
     
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  7. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    My point was simply that in many respects nothing of any importance about Jesus is contingent on him being historic. All the vital points are either mythological in that they also apply to other divine saviours or they are theological. If there was an actual person at the core of the Jesus story the Hollywood spirit has ensured that all we know is 'based on a true story' that is now so buried it is beyond discovery.

    We can have arguments about why God allowed the historical evidence of Jesus to be lost if his historicity was so important. I am suggesting that it is unimportant because it adds nothing. Mystic sages usually do not do their own PR and it is left to their followers to preserve the record - and they often inflate and embellish in any case. There are enough problems with Mohammed, when turns up half a millennium later.

    The history issue is a different thing. Claiming that God manifested on Earth is a pretty huge claim - in fact a monumental disrupter. In the Jewish tradition God hadn't been around for a very long time. So if you are going to start a radical new movement that is not a perpetuation of a past tradition you need a big ticket event that marks a new phase. Christianity did seem to want to have it both ways.

    In effect the historic Jesus is a stroke of marketing genius. In one respect there is no way it can be true, but claim it is and you have just staked out unique territory that cannot be invaded. Islam simply side stepped the problem by respecting Jesus as a prophet and then claiming to have the last prophet - and who has invaded that territory?

    Back then, in any case, the distinction between myth and history was not as neat as we make it now. Even now we can have difficulty in proving the historic presence of a person living150 years ago. Believing Jesus lived only 50 years ago for people who rely on stories told as the basis for knowing is not about evidence so much as the value of the story.

    It seems fairly evident to me that nothing about Jesus of any lasting religious value is dependent on him being a real person. He is actually a stronger spiritual figure as a myth than he could ever be as an historic person. Even historic figures who become spiritual or religious figures do so only when they transcend their historic state - they enter a different realm of meaning and significance. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is nobody, but as Pope Francis he is huge. Do you want to know the details of Jorge Mario Bergoglio's life growing up? It is evident the Catholic Church does not. History is a hassle.
     
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  8. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    Right, I think this is a good point. And the funny thing is, when I read the gospels, I don't get the feeling that the Romans are being portrayed as the good guys. The tax collectors etc are looked down upon and are considered scum. Jesus has run ins with them all the time. And what did Rome want more than anything? They WANTED THEIR MONEY. I don't understand why they would make the tax collectors look so bad. It doesnt make any sense.
     
  9. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    I really dislike "debates" where only one person is present to give his opinion and rebuttal. I know Alex is just trying to put together some good dialogue for his podcast and he generally succeeds. But the whole thing is fundamentally unfair.
     
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  10. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Thanks for your responses, Michael P. and Wormwood. The more I think about it, the more puzzling it becomes. That somewhere in the first century the religion of Christianity arose -- in approximately its present form -- seems pretty much a fact, but there do seem to be two data strands that inform that. The one I have characterised as "mythos" contains a narrative that could well be borrowed from elements existing in many ancient religions: a virgin birth, a god instantiated as a man, that man's death, resurrection and ascendence, a life spent being good and performing miracles, and so on.

    I suppose one could inform much of the Christian religion from such a mythos without emphasising the second strand, the "morality" too much: certainly not to the extent that we find it in the gospels. It's made even more complicated when you add in the largely "external" [to scripture] doctrinal elements like original sin, and the need for a saviour to die in order for us to be forgiven it. To my mind, this is the most monumentally absurd notion in the Christian religion. It is what gives the opportunity for those with sacerdotal leanings to lever control of the masses, co-opting the notion of baptism to give everyone a pathway into a sense of belongingness and distinction from infidels.

    Any conspiracy would have to be implausibly Machiavellian, and involve players with an incredibly astute mindset -- much as the players in present day conspiracy theories often seem to be attributed almost preternatural powers. In general, I suspect so-called conspiracy theories are themselves a form of mythos, and mythology isn't deliberitely constructed, so much as grows willy-nilly, like Topsy. Mythology provides an overarching framework within which to "understand" that which for which detailed information is -- and possibly always will be -- missing.

    The need for a story to make sense out of events seems overwhelming; as a species, we are above all else story tellers and/or story listeners, and the stories we construct or adopt always factor in latent prejudices, such as political leaning. Story-telling is as prevalent today as it ever was, and the stories seem as real as real can be even when they obviously conflict. Look at the stories about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, for example. Depending on one's leaning, there seems a good case for characterising either of them as the devil incarnate. Perhaps they both are the devil incarnate, who knows.

    But to return to the story of how the Christian religion came to be, I doubt we'll ever know for sure. For what it's worth, I think it's based around a sincere kernel that was possibly represented by a sect that existed around the time. Traces of that sect's beliefs probably ended up being incorporated into the gospels, as much by accident as by design. For whatever reasons, much else was incorporated into the religion that became Christianity, but not in a conscious and totally coordinated way by a relatively small set of conspirators.

    Over a few hundred years, the Gordian knot of it all became dogmatised, so that it was very hard to focus in on the kernel. I see it not so much as lipstick on a pig as a pig on lipstick, if you get my meaning: the "lipstick" represents something that is genuinely worth having, but to get at it, one has to discard much of the pig that surrounds it. Matter of fact, I suspect many people routinely do this: have their own stories abstracted from the mess. I know I do; my abstracted story, as it happens, leans to an esoteric interpretation, but it's nonetheless a story.
     
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  11. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Michael,

    I don't think the moral content of Christianity is necessarily inconsistent with its origin being a Roman conspiracy!

    The turn the other cheek philosophy - which I approve of - certainly gives an oppressor a huge short term advantage! It probably is only a short term advantage, because as Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated, turning the other cheek makes it very hard for the oppressor in the long term - it is far easier to motivate troops if the 'enemy' is resisting. Indeed Christianity still flourishes, and the Roman empire is long gone!

    Also, don't forget that there is a continuum of possibilities, ranging from no Roman conspiracy, to the Romans seizing an opportunity, to the traditional story.

    David
     
  12. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    Frankly trying to make sense from the Gospels is a lost cause in my view. You can pull out some good stuff that can be useful, but a lot of the material seems to be bewildering, bonkers or contrary. I say good luck to the Christians who cherish the book. But unless you are deeply invested in the faith (in which case you probably shouldn't be on this forum) Christianity is not a faith that is deeply rational or coherent for those who are particularly addicted to rationality and coherence. In saying this I am not dissing the faith, I am merely observing it does not suit some folk. For a lot of people the appeal is the mythic and mystical - even if they mistakenly think it is historic.

    Virtual armies of scholars have delved into the historicity and divinity of Jesus and there is no shared or majority consensus. Believers agree on his historic and divine actuality and non-believers take the opposite view. Now and then there are much trumpeted refugees from the other camps. Atheists become believers and believers become atheists.

    For me, after decades of reasonable effort nothing has convinced me of anything more than either it does not matter or uncertainty is no bad thing. In general it does seem that religion and history, and religion and rationality are not natural bedfellows. While religion exists in history it is not of history - and when the two come together what is going to get bent out of shape to accommodate the other is history and rationality. Just pay attention to the frightening contortions of reason performed by theologians determined to make a matter of faith sound reasonable. It is not unusual to drill down into sacred texts and find ideas that can seem a little weird, wacky or seriously strange. That does not invalidate them - we just eat soup with a knife.
     
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  13. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Yes but couldn't that be part of the conspiracy - appear to be the enemy of the Romans, but don't actually fight them. The Jews were hardly likely to fall for a religion that bowed down to the Romans!

    David
     
  14. Philemon

    Philemon Member

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    I did listen to the episode, but I didn’t hear anything that clarified how Atwill defines “satanic.” Seriously, what does that word mean to Atwill?
     
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  15. Philemon

    Philemon Member

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    Re: Pizzagate discussion in this episode...

    As I type this out on my (increasingly less accurate spellcorrect enabled iPhone) I find that all kinds of odd corrections and strange words replace way more likely candidates for what I meant to say. As anyone can go check in the pizzagate thread, I’m pretty open to there being a “there there” but I do wonder if some of the content in the Podesta emails could reflect some dumbphone spellcorrect fails.

    I don’t know why “thelema” would come up as a word correction unless the author had used that word on their phone before, but hey, just a thought. Does anyone know if this has been put forward as a partial explanation for the content of those emails?
     
  16. Philemon

    Philemon Member

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    Another thought - a lot of people dictate their emails and texts now. The speech to text thing also makes very weird mistakes and often butchers what a person means to say. Perhaps that could explain an email that says something like, “Let’s meet at Todd’s place for dinner. I have a chicken nugget dressed in oil and vinegar. Let me know how many people will want some so I know how many times to cut it.” Or... maybe not.

    “Thelema favor” - maybe “a little favor”?

    Edit: Looking at the wikileak email (https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/39459) I see the word appears to be used in the subject line as well as the body of the text. That makes it seem less likely to be in error. It is funny though thinking of someone who doesn’t know how to attach a photo to an email as being someone who, nevertheless, wields megatons of evil occult force. One last shot at deciphering this - perhaps “the email” got mangled as “Thelema.”
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  17. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    There is renewed discussion about Pizzagate on the pizzagate thread, if anyone is interested.

    http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/pizzagate-plus-ex-fbi-undercover-agent-bob-hamer-357.3968/

    That is an interesting idea, that I certainly hadn't thought of - though I guess a phone would only correct a word to "Thelema" if that word had been encountered at least once. I know Thelema is the name of a god, but is it one associated with something satanic?

    Thalema corrupted to Thelema seems a bit implausible, because it appears in quotes in that email, which would seem odd if it were a reference to a person. Of course, it could be a spelling error.

    This forum got a lot of stick from some people for exploring pizzagate, and I must admit that I wondered, but then I listened to a Higherside interview that mentioned this story:

    https://thegrio.com/2018/06/07/sex-...es-160-children-some-as-young-as-3-years-old/

    This story was barely mentioned at the time.

    David
     
  18. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I would guess that for him, it just means a group of people that try to invoke non-existent evil spirits by doing vile things to other people

    BTW, It is good to see you here again, Philemon!

    David
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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  19. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    Yeah. I didn't like Atwill ducking this. Crowley is definitely not satanic in the sense that he worshipped or invoked Satan. There word is thrown around loosely these days, so Atwill really should have said what he meant by the term. Crowley is deeply problematic because many people who have 'researched' him have conclusions and opinions at complete odds. Maybe they all have something to say - like Crowley being the elephant and all the commentators being blind men.

    There is no doubt that Crowley wasn't a 'nice' person. He combined that lack of niceness with a formidable intellect and an uncompromising determination to precipitate a radical change in the way magic was understood. He did that and the consequences are debated passionately. That his impact leads us to worry about what a Thelema favour means (I have no idea) is no more attributable to Crowley or his character than any of the insider codes used by people in power (Masons, Christians etc) than present practices are attributed to the character of the founder. Were it otherwise we would be holding Jesus to account for those who raped children while being his official representatives.

    There are interpretations of Crowley's work manifested in magical groups today. For me there is something fundamentally unappealing about then character of those groups (which is exposed on some podcasts), and I can well imagine quite dark versions do exist and would be attractive to fucked up (can I say this? - too late - just did) people who love playing with power and all the unsavoury elements of moral compromise and delusion that seem to infest high political office every where. Just remember the evils done in the names of many good people before getting a self-indulgent set on Crowley.

    For me the Thelamite creed is problematic, and not just because it has an uncomfortable echo of Mills' On Liberty made mystical. It is too high level to be useful to many who are attracted to it. It is easy to interpret it in an self-serving way and imagine you have formulated a deeply insightful formula, when all that has happened is that you have joined a club of equally deluded and morally confused people. To me this was always the problem with Crowley. I think he was talking to himself mostly, but he appealed to people who lacked his intellectual ability, and who were not within cooee of getting his drift on so many things. Of course they thought otherwise. I still have his books on my bookshelf and I turn to him now and then. But after an intense fascination for a few years I couldn't find any passion to become a member of his movement.

    While I respect Atwill a great deal I really don't think he gets Crowley. In that he is not Robinson Crusoe. I suppose it is necessary, now he is such a public figure, to have an opinion.
     
  20. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    I suppose its possible. I'd much rather have Jesus and the Gospels say good things about me though, by far. It seems a much safer and surer bet. But I wasn't around then to fully understand the society and their politics so I dont know. But I would definitely explain how paying taxes is a "citizens duty." That idea coming from Jesus would help line your pockets.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018

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