Sodom & Gomorrah - What the bible really says
NOTE: This post isn't going to discuss the science behind any of it, just what the bible actually says on the topic.
We all know that christians, jews and muslim believe that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of homosexuality. Sadly, this seems to be just a false reading of the bible.
Before I go on, I must make you aware that the term "to know" is used 943 times in the Old Testament. Of these times, more than 800 of them blatantly refer to knowing a person as in the normal non-sexual way. There are only about 12 references that directly relate to sex. The rest are up for interpretation. I'll probably make a separate thread for this topic.
Neither city uses its original name in the bible. Sodom was derived from the Hebrew word "S'dom," which means "burnt." Gomorrah is derived from the Hebrew word "'Amorah," which means "a ruined heap." Why is it that we are told that the bible is an accurate written copy of the precise oral tradition when they can't even remember the actual names of the 2 cities?!
We also have to remember that there are countless translation errors in the bible. As an example, "qadesh" literally means male temple prostitute, but is often translated as simply "homosexual". Obviously, it never occurred to the writers of the bible that women also partake of male prostitutes. I guess they never heard of gigolos back then.
Genesis 18 tells us that god had already decided to kill everyone in Sodom & Gomorrah. Abraham bartered with god, to save the city if he could find 10 righteous men. No angel rape or homosexuality is even mentioned yet.
Genesis 19 says that the male inhabitants of Sodom gathered around Lot's house and demanded that he bring them out so they could "know" them. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing exactly what "know" means in this situation. It could mean sex, but it could just as easily refer to meeting them. You have to remember that this was a war-torn region and they were distrusting of strangers.
The homosexual sex/rape argument does not make any sense. Firstly, we have to consider that the bible says that all of the male inhabitants, from the very youngest to the very oldest, wanted to know the strangers. There are places in the bible that freak out about people having sex with small children, but that wasn't made a big deal of. Secondly, why would Lot even think to offer his virgin daughters up to a group of gay males? What use would they have with a couple of girls? We also know that Lot's daughters were engaged to young men of Sodom, so they must at least be bisexual. Of course, we know what incestuous sluts Lot's daughters turn out to be, but that's a good thing apparently.
We also learn that Sodom & Gomorrah aren't the only 2 cities destroyed that night from reading the rest of the bible. Five other cities met the same fate. Deuteronomy 29 also lists Admah and Zeboim as being destroyed that night. That's 7 cities in all that were wiped out that night, yet only the inhabitants of Sodom were supposedly gay angel rapers.
No where does it say what the sex of the angels are, even if "know" is supposed to be translated as meaning sex. So even here we can't be completely sure if it was hetero or homo sex.
We also have another important translation error here. The original hebrew that is transliterated as "anshei ha'ir, anshei S'dom" means "the people of the city, the people of Sodom." However, it has been mistranslated to "the men of the city, even the men of Sodom." This is an extremely important distinction. Since it's both males and females involved, how can it be deemed, homosexual? At least some of it had to be heterosexual.
The National Gay Pentecostal Alliance comments: "This alone tells us that the traditionalists were wrong about the intent of this mob: If you are planning a homosexual orgy, you don't invite the wife and kids!"
As a final note on this section, why didn't Abraham or his wife Sarah see or hear anything that night?! They lived on a hill that was surrounded by the 7 cities that were destroyed. You'd think that with all the fire and brimstone raining down around them they would have known something was going on. Yet they only knew about it the next morning.
Isaiah 1 says that Judah shares in the sins of Sodom & Gomorrah. However, there is not a single mention of homosexuality. It does list things like; not treating strangers well, greed, murder, watering down the wine, growing cucumbers in the wine vineyards, wearing mixed blend fabrics, etc, etc, etc.
Jeremiah 23 repeats a similar theme and does not mention homosexuality as one of the sins. Probably the biggest sin listed is farmers not giving up their land to the shepherds and their flocks. Does anyone remember Cain and Able?
Ezekeiel 16:49 says "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." Again, no mention of homosexuality.
Matthew 10:14-15 is a quote from Jesus, saying "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city." So even Jesus didn't link homosexuality to Sodom & Gomorrah.
Luke 10:10-12 is a reworded version of Matthew 10:14-15. It too does not mention homosexuality.
2 Peter 2:6-22 makes no mention of homosexuality
Here is an extremely similar story that takes place a long time after Sodom was supposed to be destroyed;
He added, "Come, let's try to reach Gibeah or Ramah and spend the night in one of those places." So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin. There they stopped to spend the night. They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them into his home for the night. That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephraim, who was living in Gibeah (the men of the place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the fields. When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, "Where are you going? Where did you come from?" He answered, "We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the LORD. No one has taken me into his house. We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants– me, your maidservant, and the young man with us. We don't need anything." "You are welcome at my house," the old man said. "Let me supply whatever you need. Only don't spend the night in the square." So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.
While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, "Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him." The owner of the house went outside and said to them, "No, my friends, don't be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don't do this disgraceful thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But to this man, don't do such a disgraceful thing." But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.
Again, we don't know if the translation of "to know" is correct here. It's very likely that it actually means "to interrogate" the stranger.
I realize this is long after the original post (got the red warning text asking if I was sure I wanted to comment since it has been more than 120 days since anyone else posted) well, since the Bible has been around for thousands of years, I guess I can comment after 120 days.. I write the following assuming the reader has already read above posting(s) otherwise some of it won't make much sense.
Mostly I wanted to comment on paragraph 7 (not counting your introductory "NOTE") - there are many interesting points to consider in your post, but to say all the men were homosexual or bisexual or that the homosexual rape argument doesn't make sense: a Bible thumper conservative Christian would brush all that aside and say "it doesn't matter if they were bisexual or what-have-you, the point they get out of this is that homosexual sex is wrong in addition to all the other stuff. (I've argued with enough of them, you just can't get through)
If you watch "For the Bible Tells me so" many Gay friendly clergy/Bible Scholars even assert what you dismiss, that the men of Sodom wanted sex with Lot. I disagree, based on several of the points such as Jesus never mentioned homosexuality and I think this is the first time I heard Sarah and Abraham didn't know about it until the following morning. The "to know" argument doesn't even need to rest on interpretations or other usages in the Bible. One MUST think of the times - people didn't have cars and lived in the same area for their entire lives. They were very suspicious and clannish - gosh, you think little old ladys in your neighborhood are nosy and peek through the curtains to spy in the present - these ancient folks were downright paranoid and super distrustful of any outsiders. Basic human nature for thousands of years. As to Lot offering his daughters to the crowd - the status and safety of male guests took high priority over women, which were considered almost worthless at this time. The offering of women to the angry mob is other places in the Bible too.
I was unaware also of the mistranslation of the "men of sodom" should have been "people of sodom." Actually there are surely mistranslations, but at the same time this is constantly said when people disagree so all I can say is I am not a language scholar, so I couldn't say for sure.
Perhaps most importantly, per Scholar Peter Gomez, in "For the Bible Tells me so" is that the homosexual angle didn't appear for centuries - meaning the fact people think that has always been the interepretation is dead wrong…. another basic human nature failing - we always think our generation knows it all and no knowledge came before us!
Your comment opens the door to a fascinating question: Why are gay people discriminated against? You reason that it may have happened because of a simple misunderstanding, or that somewhere along the line something got mis-translated or taken out of context.
Most of what we currently hold sacred is not sacred for any reason other than that it was thought sacred yesterday. These ancient and confused texts—produced by a society 99% illiterate and with no idea of a world outside of the desert—may not be an example of something that was mistaken.
I would suggest that apart from the Bible's outright self-contradiction of allowing it to justify diverse and irreconcilable claims, the culprit is perhaps the doctrine of faith itself. Whenever people imagine that they need only believe the truth of a proposition without evidence—like gay people will go to hell, because someone, somewhere said it was wrong—they can become capable of anything. Perhaps it's not a mis-translation, but a fundamental flaw in the reasoning behind the idea of "faith" and not the text itself, that is to blame.
So the question becomes: "Are any part of these texts useful now?" I would bet that if we could create the world all over again, the practice of organizing our lives around untestable propositions found in ancient literature—to say nothing of killing and dying for them—would be impossible to justify.
Spintendo - I assume you are replying to me? I will assume it was since you mentioned "your comment opens the door…."
I certainly understand what you are driving at; especially the part "sacred texts are only that because they were sacred yesterday." Where I think your logic falls apart is that we know better today, communication is much more accessible by 100 million fold by in speed and quanitity, the whole world is literate in comparison and yet we do as bad or worse as the ancients. We pollute with abandon, consume and waste with amazing rapidity; starvation used to be a problem now for "civilized" societies it is obesity! We can destroy the entire planet with nuclear weapons.... In fact with globalization, I would hazard a guess that if we tried to "make a brand new philosophy today" it would be hijacked by international powers with money. At least in ancient times, things spread very slowly out of the region of origin.
The basic message of Jesus to love one another and forgive is as difficult today as it ever was and it is something to strive for. For example, some people "love humanity" but have a hard time getting along with their next door neighbor!
You raise some pretty good points. I agree that obesity and other related "diseases of sloth" are something that the Western world could be freed from and stand to do better. But I stand by my original assertion. Lets look at your agument (and let me preface by saying this is all in good spirit and i hope everyone takes it that way, I love all you guys and am just having fun here, if ya'll will indulge me. that being said lets review:
Youre saying that humanity is no better than it was 2,000 years ago because it continues to make the same mistakes, and that things like pollution and obesity are signs that humanity is incapable of improving. My take on that is that it shows that even though problems arent removed completely, we are still better off now. For example, nowadays the Bible is less relevant in many areas of our lives, like say, the burning of witches. We dont do that anymore, and my argument is that is a good thing. Your argument is that we are Not better off then we were, and you offer pollution and obesity as premisses supporting your conclusion.
If humanity is good (G), then we dont kill witches (W) or have pollution (P).
We dont burn witches (-W).
We have pollution (P).
Therefore, humanity is bad (-G).
Shown in pred. style:
G ⊃ - ( W & P )
Now a little review for anyone who forgets…. an argument is said to be truth-functionally valid if and only if all true premisses lead to a true conclusion. The truth-value assignment in your argument where G is true, P is true, and W is false (line #2) contain all true antecedents with a false consequent. Remember, an argument cannot be valid if all premisses are true and the conclusion is false.
G P W | G ⊃ - ( W & P ) -W P -G
1. T T T F F T F
2. T T F ** T T T F** <–-- all true premisses and false conclusion
3. T F T T F F F
4. T F F T T F F
5. F T T T F T T
6. F T F T T T T
7. F F T T F F T
8. F F F T T F T
But you can see that on line #2, which is the situation that we have in the world today (where we have pollution, dont burn witches, and are still good) all your premisses are true yet it still leads to a false conclusion. Now thats actually a classic case where people deny the antecedent of a conditional and then suppose that in doing so it makes it ok to deny the consequent (but it isnt) I hope this illustrates things maybe?
No, I'm not going to get upset - I'm way past all that. I like a good discussion/argument too.
Now I don't know the Latin term for the fallacy of your "argument" (or point if you will) with the chart, but your chart assumes that all or most of the important factors are there, a huge assumption indeed.
I didn't say humanity was incapable of improving - although I have my doubts. What I said was in light of how much more we know aggregately than we used to, it doesn't seem we've made much progress, if you factor that in. What I'm referring to is prior to last 300/400 years, knowledge was confined to the clergy and educated classes. The mass of people today knows an awful lot in comparison. And still we have hunger, pollution, underage/undesired pregnancy, substance abuse etc. Another thing that bothers me greatly is how often we have these economic debates of which system is best socialism or capitalism and yet in both we have incredibly lopsided concentrations of wealth (capitalism apparently by design and in socialism due to inevitable human corrruption/greed etc.) I can't believe we even have to debate something as basic as basic health care for all in the USA when 8% of the people have 90% of the money! We could use some Bible literalism here - love your neighbor as yourself!
My example on obesity, was way too understated of course you wouldn't catch it, no one would - I meant to suggest that in many ways we simply exchange one set of problems for another. A much more clear example - the status of women. For a very few, the modern world offers them everything a man can get and formerly only a man could get, unless you were born into the monarchy (as a female, we're speaking of) but most women in industrial countries not only have to work, they have 80-90% of the work they did when they stayed home! And it gets even worse since modern medicine has allowed the elderly to live longer than ever, so she has to take care of parents too.
I don't know if there is any way to objectively quanitfy the sum of this, but I think you see what I"m driving at now.
As to the Bible have less relevance in our lives, well, certainly as Gay people that is a good thing, unless of course Boswell is to be believed and prior to the Middle Ages, Europe was fine with Same sex relationships . It does seem things go in waves, whatever is politically expedient. I've read an awful lot on that subject - ordered books even - I"m trying to think of the one by Greenburg where he discusses graph/grid (homosexuality is allowed or not depending on how the society is structured) and then there are the rumors or is it facts that the great Margaret Mead was completely misled by the natives…. who knows? I'm sorry to have raised more questions than answers.....
And please don't ignore my last line - about Jesus' basic message and it is just as hard to be forgiving today! Did you see the movie "Body of Lies?" If any of the underlying ideas are true, and they seem to be, imagine how hard it is to forgive if you've been lied to? If you as a leader are at odds with a huge fundamental sect in your culture. Trying to work with the West which vacillates, changes leaders every few years and values expedience over almost everything? Work Love your neighbor into that equation!
I think Ms. Mead was mislead not by the natives, but by her Episcopal upbringing lol. Its either that, or the natives didnt care for her lesbian girlfriend and decided to drive her from the village. In any event, it is true that Jesus said some profound things about love and charity and forgiveness. But others have offered that same instruction centuries before Jesus did (Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius, etc), and many many writings discuss the importance of love much better than the Bible did (Shakespeare anyone?)
We both have good arguments that we bring to the table. The argument that my formula showed (and what i had hopefully believed was faithful to your intent) was that, in the end, it was a pretty decent argument… Don't forget that 7 of the 8 variables in the formula for "your/our" argument were actually valid!...only 1 was invalid... so I dont think that my "huge assumption" was too much off the mark. I think you and I would completely agree on the failings of capitalism and the need for more socialism in the world (of the UK and European kind)
The cincher for me is when I consider the questions that have been solved to everyone's satisfaction… take slavery for instance. Most of the world now agrees that slavery is wrong (I'm not including the Middle East). Now what moral instructions do we get from the Bible on that subject? Hmmmm.... the creator of the universe clearly expects us to keep slaves..... In fact the only real restraint God shows on the subject is to make sure that we do not beat our slaves so severely that we "injure their eyes or their teeth". (Exodus 21) And nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus object in any way whatsoever to the practice of slavery.
The thread originally asked whether we could reject the morality of the Bible, and judge that God was wrong in destroying Sodom & G. If we cannot judge him/her on that, then we can't be in positions to judge other hot-button topics, like whether Jesus is the Son of God.... or the Golden Rule is the height of moral wisdom..... or the Bible really is more useful than People magazine. There is no room for half-judgements, it is all or nothing.
In using our own moral intuitions to authenticate the wisdom of the Bible—and then occasionally saying—that since human beings cant or wont rely upon those intuitions to guide themselves, they should turn to Jesus every now and again and his sayings. This has us using our own moral intuitions to decide that the Bible, rather than ourselves, is the appropriate source and authority of moral intuitions.
Here is a map to illustrate my meaning:
1. Humans, in need of morals, turn to the Bible for the source of Moral Intuition.
2. Finding many objectionable things in this Bible, humans use their own moral intuitions to pick and choose what "feels" right, and what is "workable" for them (and adjustable to whatever time period theyre in).
3. What is chosen from, says that humans have no morals, and must seek out and learn from the only source of Moral Intuition— found in further readings of the Bible.
4. GO TO 1.
This is circular reasoning in all of its splendor.
Now which do you prefer… A conversation from the 21st Century in which we avail ourselves of all the scientific insights and philosophical arguments that have accumulated in the last two thousand years—or one from the 1st Century, as it is preserved in the Bible...... Which time period symbolizes progress the most of all?
I think that the biggest problem here is that the Roman Catholic Church is governed by a group of people (the college of cardinals, of which the Pope is the Cardinal of Rome) who deliberate or are enlightened in some way about what are to be doctrinal truths. However, regardless of what they say, nobody is infallible, and I believe those people to be as able to discriminate along with the worst of them.
Knowing this, morality is an externally imposed set or mores/norms that we are trained to do, while conscience speaks from the heart (or soul, if you wish). What irritates me now is that the Church has wielded so much power (especially in the 12-16th century) that they have been able to impose their set of mores on a very large percentage of the world. They did it so well that now we're trying to besiege a fortress that is entrenched in tradition. How do you fight against a group that will only shake their heads and say: "It's wrong"?
I go to church religiously, but i avoid self-righteous or fire-and-brimstone priests. I go there in the most basic way… and the most literal interpretation of the word: Communion. To commune.
Notquiteme- I'll start with you first since your reply is shorter. No one said the person of the Pope is infallible, (or any person) only certain very rare statements made by the Pope. There have only been less than a dozen in over 2000 years and they are pretty reasonable statements, if you believe God has some mystery to Him and accept He founded the Roman Catholic Church to represent Him on earth. (which I do). I'm assuming by the way you speak you go to Catholic Church already? Now, people have a terrible capacity for self indulgence, rationalization and denial, so I would never say people should pick their own moral values. I can't say anymore than that without writing a book. I think if you consider other value systems, they would seem hard to take indeed. American Indian tribes are often thought to be far superior to European (Catholic) systems since they didn't have a concept of property rights and other things endemic to Capitalism, but their primitive way of life would have been wiped out by another system eventually if not the way it historically occurred. Not saying this is right, but would have happened. Now all this peace and mother earth stuff- how do you feel about leaving the old, sick and weak along the trail to die if the tribe was on the move? We can dissect every other culture and find many examples of similar things we find abbhorent based on how we were raised.
The table was a lovely thought, and well intended, I don't think I disputed that. I still believe it is making huge assumptions, (even if 7 of the 8 variables are valid) the conclusions drawn are invalid. It is like saying a car if metal and a car moves people, cars make less pollution than they did 20 years ago. All valid, but hardly is it a complete comparison of modern life vs. 200 years ago.
I don't think because we are rejecting slavery we are rejecting the morality of the Bible. I don't view the Bible as a manual like so many fundamentalist Bible Christians do. We are to look at the message the Bible is sending. At the time of slavery, one couldn't just go to Walmart or K-mart or wherever and apply for a job, those places didn't exist. The status of women had to be what it was in ancient times since women were needed in the home - cooking and washing clothes was pretty much an all day affair. Not that men couldn't do these things, but it made sense since it was the woman who often needed lots of recovery time after childbirth which was done at home. So if you were supposed to treat slaves decently, one presumes being a slave was better than starving to death. or not? I can't remember the other story, but I remember hearing some fundy preacher complain about the ancients not reading the Bible or something (ignoring the fact most people couldn't read) and I remember some pundit saying " shall we be angry at God that the printing press wasn't invented sooner?'
You are half right and half wrong on paragraph 4 - the thread talked about "what the Bible really says about S & G." (meaning does it really say homosexuality is wrong?) Which I advocate it doesn't and historically this idea was NOT "Always" talked about. The thread definitely does not ask if we can judge if God made the right decision. I suppose we could second guess God, but I don't know where that gets us.
As to your last paragraph, I"ve already said (I think) that the Bible is full of insights and wisdom, human nature doesn't really change all that much. I'm willing to take the Bible in its entirety if it is interpreted correctly. And contrary to what some think, this does not mean "making" the Bible say what I want it to. It means that things like don't wear fabrics of two fibers etc. are antiquated products of their time and try to extract the timeless messages.
Hmmmm while i agree with a lot of your points, but just to clarify:
In regard to doctrine of papal infallibility, this was defined as dogma during the first vatican council. So it pretty much claims that whatever the pope decides to be dogmatic principles have to be accepted universally by the catholic church.
I also agree that other cultures may have aspects that would be difficult to accept, BUT i'm still concerned about the idea regarding internal or external sources of morality. Basically when we talk now about cultural value systems, they are basically stuff that a large number of people subscribe to. Is this any more "correct", "moral", or "good" than something which you decided on your own? If I can't rely on my intuition/gut/conscience to make decisions, then who's to say that asking a million other people won't result in the correct answer, either?
Of course in the context of society there are established mores that should more or less (no pun intended) allow less social friction, which result in an established set of cultural values. But this doesn't mean that the entire society (locally, of course) can't be wrong about something. But you're right, of course there should be rules that people should agree to so that we can move about in a society with minimal hassle.
To be honest, I'm not aware enough about american indians (but i've read several novels about them, and the hataalii) so i can't really comment. I would say, however, that it would have been good if we (humanity) were to grow only in a sustainable manner that the earth can support. But that's already water under the bridge, I think.
sorry, i tend to ramble. maybe i'll edit this and fix it tomorrow when it's no longer 2am.
Not quite me - You started off saying you can never believe any person is infallible and now you say "whatever the pope decides have to be accepted universally by the catholic church." And the answer is "yes, his infallible statements must be accepted" and no that doesn't mean anything and everything he says must be accepted. I can't really think of any infallible statements that contradict anything already in the Bible can you? I mean, I just love the fundies - they will quote a verse that says something about "Jesus' brothers and sisters." At that time, people referred to all their people as brothers and sisters. Just as the priest or pope now says "Brothers and Sisters I welcome you in the name of Christ to celebrate Mass today…" But they claim that is "proof" Mary was not ever-virgin. If you think about it, virginity was a huge deal in those days and women guarded it very carefully. If Mary really thought she had given birth to God himself, I don't suppose it would have been inconceivable that she remained chaste for the rest of her life. The majority of Nuns do it. Some fail, like all people. But I think most of them are faithful to their vows. They're crabby enough is proof enough for me! But to the main point - the Catholic Church would not publish a Bible for all to read that contradicts itself. Common sense.
On to the morals question - I guess I would have to say the external moral code of the Church and Christianity is superior to what we would think of ourselves. First, we don't grow up in a vacuum, so I don't know how one would ever come up with their own completely independent code anyway, and it seems (although I readily admit while I read a lot, I can't claim to know everything about every society that ever existed) that many non-Christian societies were very violent and concerned with self-preservation. Many ancient socieities for instance could care less about children and abortions etc. The man was the breadwinner and women knew they could easily starve without a husband or brother. So if the house was on fire, the children would be sacrificed if necessary to save the man. A woman could have other children, but she could not easily replace her husband/father/brother. This is not to say that ONLY Christianity spoke of concern for your neighbor but it is rather the most well known and successful philosophy to advocate that. For example, some say the miracle of the loaves and fishes is NOT magic multiplication of food but rather that Jesus had taught the people to share.
Maybe I can't completely satisfy you when you say "asking a million people" won't result in the 'correct' answer either but I think I"ve done the best I could. I think Christianity if not unique, is rare in that it lifts up the status of women and the individual in a way not done by most of the world's great religions. So if that is what you value, then Christianity is for you!
Okay. I'm just not too rigid about all of it, maybe. I know there are so many right-wingers out there, so maybe I shouldn't really think about the way they do things, because it really bothers me.
On the other hand i think Mary wasn't a virgin, technically because all it requires is a broken/torn hymen. And giving birth tears it. But i also think she was chaste/celibate, at least until she got married to Joseph. I just have this feeling that she may still have had children, but I'm not too strongly opinionated. I simply think there was no evidence to support it, either way. So i don't object to or raise the topic.
Let me say this: while most of the teachings are truly universal, I would say that when I say "decided on your own", you in fact use your judgement and not simply follow blindly. I can like the Catholic teachings (i do, most of them anyway) but I would also be able to subscribe to other religion's/philosophies' views. For example, i was particularly taken with the Hindu concept of Namasti/Namaste. In it's poetic form, it means "Within you and me is a place where the whole universe resides. If i am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you, there is only one of us." I'm spending my time trying to take this in, because it essentially captures the idea that all people are deserving of respect, no matter your past, religion, personality, quirks or failings, and that we all have the capacity to "include" everyone else. There really isn't a directly correlated concept in the Catholic faith, but this idea doesn't contradict anything in the Catholic faith, either.
We're able to filter and choose the best from all sources, and no matter what the form, as long as it is real love, then i think God would be pleased.
OK, you're now mellow NQM and a gentle soul, i suppose. Now I"m going to rock your world…..All of what you say is true (even the Catholic church accepts truth wherever it is found a shocker I know but I read it....) but what do you do while you're in Nirvana, peace/love/brotherhood etc. another group/nation/cult thinks you're an infidel because you don't believe exactly as they do and wants to chop off your head?
(But I have to ask you, since I did all that typing and you seem to have ignored it or at least didn't respond - don't you think a majority of Nuns and Priests are faithful to their vows? If so, it is much more than likely Mary could have remained chaste for a lifetime and ....I hope you're joking when you say "all it takes is torn hymen to not be a virgin..." Yes, technically correct but you know that is not what the Church is talking about...) As for evidence of brothers and sisters, I feel sure the Bible would have mentioned it - after all there are many different versions of the same stories which add or subtract details which is what you would expect when four different people write something. I don't take that as "Bible errors" the way some do.
Net of the scandalous priests, I have no argument against the chaste nuns and priests. I believe it's possible to live that life. Good for them. I'm aware that "brothers and sisters" in the Bible may actually refer to cousins, in this case. Of course i have absolutely no idea whether Mary or Joseph had siblings.
Personally I have to believe that most of the priests and nuns are religiously upright, because they do fill a very important role.
NQM - I wasn't asking to be silly when I asked about others thinking you're an infidel and wanting to chop off your head. That was a direct path to "how do we determine which religion or which morals are correct?" Whaddya think?
We can't. nobody can. Might as well ask… how do we determine that WE are correct? In my book, "The Bible says so" just doesn't wash, because all religions would have a sacred text of their own.
I think that there is a certain group of people theorizing that wrong ethics/morality exists only when the person cannot see God/Humanity/himself in the other person's shoes. I think that's a pretty good gauge, if difficult to operationalize.
"I suppose we could second guess God, but I don't know where that gets us."
This is my point exactly, and I'm glad that you agree.
Imagine if I tried to decide the specific "true meaning" of questions of historical fact like the date of the battle of Stalingrad, or the gravitational effect of the Moon on the tides, and did so without evidence that could be seen and confirmed by others — in other words to rely upon "faith". This would be ridiculous and time consuming, yes? No one would believe my answers unless I showed them my data. That is, until the conversation turned to the origin of books like the Bible. Then I could throw out any data and fill in my own.
Faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail. While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith in God still holds immense prestige in our society. Religion is the one area of our discourse where it is considered noble to pretend to be certain about things no human being could possibly be certain about. It is telling that this level of nobility extends only to faiths that still have many subscribers. Anyone who still worships the God Poseidon would be thought insane.
If religion addresses a genuine sphere of understanding and human necessity, then it should be susceptible to progress; its doctrines should become more useful, rather than less. Can you imagine the science of aircraft design or cancer and AIDS research not progressing, but going backwards, where things are no longer as useful as they once were? Progress in religion, as in other fields, would have to be a matter of present inquiry, not the mere reiteration of past doctrine. Whatever is true now should be discoverable now, and describable in terms that are not an outright affront to the rest of what we know about the world (like the economic benefits of slavery to a world living without employable people). By this measure, the entire project of religion seems perfectly backward. It cannot survive the changes that have come over us—culturally, technologically, and even ethically. Otherwise, there are few reasons to believe that we will survive it.
#16 I typed a whole ramble on comparing Christianity with other religions and I think it would be misinterpreted. And I don't even know if I'm right 100% or have all the facts. As with everything, the exremists are the only ones who make the news - do they really represent the whole or majority of a given group? I don't know. Another example people don't vote for the most part in Islamic countries, Saudi Arabia is a monarchy right? I would find that a difficult place to live. But I certainly acquiesce that I was raised Christian and people obviously tend to find reasons to continue to live the way they were raised. Then again, if you watched that movie "not without my daughter" with Sally Field, it was interesting to see how the husband behaved in America and how he changed when he returned to Iran/Iraq, I forget. And certainly the children born in USA of immigrants originating from those countries seem to be Americanized or Britainized for the most part. It is a mystery still though when you read about a suicide bomber that was born in Britain, went to school there and was highly educated - his name escapes me now. Comparing him to a Timothy McVeigh who was not educated and maybe just crazy doesn't seem helpful or enlightening does it? Christian countries overall though seem to be much more tolerant of other religions in their midst - possibly to their detriment - we'll see as time goes on but the reverse doesn't seem true does it? To go back to the very beginning of your #16 though, you said " no we can't" and "the Bible says' doesn't wash" yeah probably, but I will also point out if your head is cut off, you can't say anything! So, if you want to dscuss this further, you can PM me and I'll give you my home email.
Yeah, I agree with most of this. I'm just curious that… if your head is cut off, it is also probably due to the same theory that "The Quran says so" or some other holy Book says so, still doesn't wash. Unfortunately it might seem that personal insight isn't very well encouraged in those kind of... extremist groups.
So let's not just focus on our own religion here, because it would definitely be nice if all the religions were tolerant of others. But we know that is just not the case.
I'm okay to let this rest, actually. Just putting my thoughts down.