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The Tree Of Life
Posted: 26 February 2011 05:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 26 February 2011 04:14 PM
Write4U - 26 February 2011 03:59 PM

I have posted before that I should like to see a scientific and philosophic translation of all the allegories in scripture.

I don’t think that this is really possible. Biblical scripture was written in a time when modern scientific concepts weren’t even on the horizon of human thought. At least, not in the areas where they were written; some of the ancient Greek philosopies come to mind for people who could be termed pre-scientific: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milesian_school

For examlpe, I find that equating some kind of ancient concept of God to somehow be a harbinger of modern cosmology to be extremely weak. These are two concepts that are alien to each other and a “translation” is, to me, rather ridiculous.

I disagree. If you reduce it to basics, gods and deities were interpretations of an “intelligent causality” (not surprising in view of the apparent order in the universe). Science today is very much involved with “natural non-intelligent universal causality” or TOE. An argument can be made that spiritualism was a first and hopelessly inadequate attempt at science.

Take “demons”. A sick person was seen to be possessed by demons. Science (with the aid of microscope) later discovered that the demons were viruses invisible to the naked eyes.
But the analogy of possesion by a harmful entity (a virus) holds true. The observation was correct, the interpretation was wrong.

[ Edited: 26 February 2011 05:33 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 26 February 2011 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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IMO, translation of scripture into known and accepted scientific language and premises would be much more persuasive than outright rejection of scripture as “rubbish”.
People need scientific “explanations” of their spiritual interpretation of causality, not abject rejection. I believe it is called “gradualism”.

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Posted: 26 February 2011 06:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Here is a more complete explanation of my interpretation of the concept and evolution of an intelligent creator (in a different thread and context). 

We must look at the words God and Potential in an historical context.

The word God (subjective), to describe an unseen single precondition for Reality, is much older than the word Potential (objective), and has been in use for thousands of years. It is the reason why the word God is so pervasive in our society. Even Insurance companies use the term “Acts of God”.
Actually it was even preceded by the notion of multiple Gods and even before that some higher order of hominid animals acted in a manner which might be interpreted as defensive of an unseen force (threat).
During a monsoon, the Alpha in Chimpanze family, may run around, beat his chest and swing a stick in a display of power and warning to this unseen enemy which throws water at him and makes him wet.
By the orderly way God (prior to the word Potential) becomes manifest, it was assumed that God was an Intelligent Entity, with purpose and intent and was defined as “God, the Creator”. Even at that time there were different names to describe the same thing. Native Americans called it “The Great Spirit” before they were introduced to the word God.

[ Edited: 26 February 2011 07:09 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 26 February 2011 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Okay, I think I see where you’re coming from. I humbly submit, then, that it’s not “translating” that you’re doing, but updating.

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Posted: 26 February 2011 06:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 26 February 2011 06:11 PM

Okay, I think I see where you’re coming from. I humbly submit, then, that it’s not “translating” that you’re doing, but updating.

Oh yes, that might well be a better term.
In fact some of this is already happening. The Vatican has now admitted that the Big Bang and subsequent Evolution of the Universe is not incompatible with the scriptural account of creation. A major “update”, if you ask me.

[ Edited: 26 February 2011 07:10 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 28 February 2011 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Write4U - 26 February 2011 03:07 PM

Seems to me the analogy of the trees, would be the difference of remaining an instinctive animal within the natural cycle of life (tree of life) vs the development of human intelligence and exercising choice (tree of good and evil).
Within the analogy is the analogy of eating the fruit of the tree of “knowledge” which automatically set humans apart from the natural cycle and be “self exiled” (cast out) from paradise (Eden).

I can kind of see it in terms of metaphor.  If “God” represents “Nature”, the story basically says that “evil” stems from rebellion against “nature”.  To a certain extent, I can see this.  When a cat stalks and kills a mouse, it cannot be “evil” because it is following its own nature.  A carnivore MUST eat meat to survive.  So far so good.  But when a human stalks and kills another human not to eat him but in order to steal a wad of green paper which the other human has hoarded, then he is no longer following nature.  This is what we call “evil”.  I’m just not so sure the analogy would hold up if we extended it further than that.

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Posted: 28 February 2011 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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advocatus - 28 February 2011 07:56 AM
Write4U - 26 February 2011 03:07 PM

Seems to me the analogy of the trees, would be the difference of remaining an instinctive animal within the natural cycle of life (tree of life) vs the development of human intelligence and exercising choice (tree of good and evil).
Within the analogy is the analogy of eating the fruit of the tree of “knowledge” which automatically set humans apart from the natural cycle and be “self exiled” (cast out) from paradise (Eden).

I can kind of see it in terms of metaphor.  If “God” represents “Nature”, the story basically says that “evil” stems from rebellion against “nature”.  To a certain extent, I can see this.  When a cat stalks and kills a mouse, it cannot be “evil” because it is following its own nature.  A carnivore MUST eat meat to survive.  So far so good.  But when a human stalks and kills another human not to eat him but in order to steal a wad of green paper which the other human has hoarded, then he is no longer following nature.  This is what we call “evil”.  I’m just not so sure the analogy would hold up if we extended it further than that.

I agree. But I can see many such analogies and metaphors. Scripture is a philosophical document written by and for simple people, which seeks to justify an intentional creation (God).

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Posted: 28 February 2011 07:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Write4u

I agree. But I can see many such analogies and metaphors. Scripture is a philosophical document written by and for simple people, which seeks to justify an intentional creation (God).

I disagree somewhat.  Most of the scriptures were political documents originally orally transmitted that may have used some philosophy to advance their position rather than philosophical documents themselves.  The people may not have been modern and lacked today’s knowledge but I don’t think they were any less complex than we are.  Wonder what people two or three thousand years from now will think of our beliefs?
I do like your idea of demons changing into viruses.  I think it catches the reality of the advancement of human knowledge and understanding even if it does not deal the detail of scientific discovery.  This is one way myths evolve.

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Posted: 28 February 2011 07:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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advocatus - 28 February 2011 07:56 AM

I can kind of see it in terms of metaphor.  If “God” represents “Nature”, the story basically says that “evil” stems from rebellion against “nature”.  To a certain extent, I can see this.  When a cat stalks and kills a mouse, it cannot be “evil” because it is following its own nature.  A carnivore MUST eat meat to survive.  So far so good.  But when a human stalks and kills another human not to eat him but in order to steal a wad of green paper which the other human has hoarded, then he is no longer following nature.  This is what we call “evil”.  I’m just not so sure the analogy would hold up if we extended it further than that.

We may and should call humans hunting omne another evil, but human history pretty much recognizes that we have been hunting each other (in groups; us vs them) since we orginated.  It seems to be our evolutionary heritage. downer

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Posted: 28 February 2011 08:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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garythehuman - 28 February 2011 07:49 PM

Write4u

I agree. But I can see many such analogies and metaphors. Scripture is a philosophical document written by and for simple people, which seeks to justify an intentional creation (God).

I disagree somewhat.  Most of the scriptures were political documents originally orally transmitted that may have used some philosophy to advance their position rather than philosophical documents themselves.  The people may not have been modern and lacked today’s knowledge but I don’t think they were any less complex than we are.  Wonder what people two or three thousand years from now will think of our beliefs?
I do like your idea of demons changing into viruses.  I think it catches the reality of the advancement of human knowledge and understanding even if it does not deal the detail of scientific discovery.  This is one way myths evolve.

Oh, I give credit to the founders of scripture. Obviously they were deep thinkers, Most Scriptures are magnificent works in many ways. The problem lies not in the reasoned logic, but in the false understanding and interpretation of the nature of the universe (the premise), from a lack of scientific knowledge.
This is why can see many parables, allegories and metaphors as having a certain parallel relationship with science, even as they are based on a false premise.

[ Edited: 28 February 2011 10:02 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 01 March 2011 03:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Write4u:

Oh, I give credit to the founders of scripture. Obviously they were deep thinkers, Most Scriptures are magnificent works in many ways. The problem lies not in the reasoned logic, but in the false understanding and interpretation of the nature of the universe (the premise), from a lack of scientific knowledge.
This is why can see many parables, allegories and metaphors as having a certain parallel relationship with science, even as they are based on a false premise.


I can agree with that.  Although I would say a more primitive understanding of nature rather than false.

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Posted: 01 March 2011 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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garythehuman - 01 March 2011 03:41 PM

Write4u:

Oh, I give credit to the founders of scripture. Obviously they were deep thinkers, Most Scriptures are magnificent works in many ways. The problem lies not in the reasoned logic, but in the false understanding and interpretation of the nature of the universe (the premise), from a lack of scientific knowledge.
This is why can see many parables, allegories and metaphors as having a certain parallel relationship with science, even as they are based on a false premise.


I can agree with that.  Although I would say a more primitive understanding of nature rather than false.

A more diplomatic way of putting it… cheese

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Posted: 06 March 2011 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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post 1
If one really thinks about it, having that good and bad knowledge is no guarantee that one will choose or incline towards the good. After all, that’s what the serpent omitted in his speech, before Eve ate off the tree of knowledge of good and bad. The serpent said, “You are not going to die, but Yahweh knows that as soon as you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings, who know good and bad.” It’s true in one sense, but false in another; the serpent sort of omitted to point out, that its the power of moral choice alone, that is Yahweh like. The very action that brought Adam and Eve a Yahweh like awareness of their mortal autonomy, was an action that was taken in opposition to Yahweh. Yahweh knows that, that human beings will become like Yahweh, knowing good and bad; it’s one of the things about Yahweh, he knows good and bad, and has chosen the good. For Adam and Eve to have true freedom of will, Adam and Eve have to have the freedom to rebel. This is why this tree is in the garden, next to the tree of life; instead, evil will come about as a result of the clash of the will of Yahweh, and the will of humans, who happen to have the freedom to rebel. Human beings, and only human beings are the potential source of evil, responsibility for evil will lie in the hands of human beings. Yet, evil is represented not as a physical reality, it’s not built into the structure of Eden, evil is a condition of human existence, and to assert that evil stems from human behavior. The drama of Adam and Eve’s life should revolve not around the search for eternal life, nor preoccupation with immortality; it was not in Yahweh’s design for this kind of drama. It was Yahweh’s design for the tree of life to have been eaten of, there was no danger to Adam and Eve going on eternally, being immortal. The eating off the tree of knowledge of good and bad, has caused a moral conflict and tension between Yahweh’s good design for creation, and the free will of human beings that can corrupt that good design. Evil is a product of human behavior, not a principal inherent in the cosmos. Man’s disobedience is the cause of the human predicament. Human freedom can be at one and the same time an omen of disaster, and a challenge, and opportunity.

So despite Adam and Eve’s newfound mortality, humans are going to be a force to be reckoned with. They’re unpredictable to the very Yahweh who created them. Yahweh has to modify his plan, by barring access to the tree of life; that was not something presumably Yahweh planned to do. Adam and Eve had access to this tree up to that point, as long as their will conformed to the will of Yahweh, there was no danger to their going on eternally, being immortal. Once they discovered their moral freedom, once they discovered that they could thwart Yahweh and work evil in the world, and abuse and corrupt all that Yahweh had created, then Yahweh could not afford to allow them access to the tree of life. That would be tantamount to creating divine enemies, immortal enemies. So Yahweh must maintain the upper hand in his struggle with these humans who have learned to defy him. And Yahweh maintains the upper hand in this, the fact that humans eventually must die. Yahweh stations the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword to guard the way back to the tree of life, once Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. The tree of life is now inaccessible; no humans have access to immortality, and the pursuit of immortality is futile. So it might be then that Yahweh really spoke the truth after all, the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and bad did bring death to humankind.

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Posted: 06 March 2011 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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That seems to be a pretty good interpretation of mythology, if stark. Yahweh sounds like a real bastard, and is definitely not the omnipotent god that most people consider God to be.

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Posted: 07 March 2011 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Post 2
Patriarchical Covenant

Yahweh learned immediately after creating this unique being, that he will exercise his free will against Yahweh. Yahweh saw that he had to limit the life span of humans, or risk creating an enemy that was nearly equal to him. So he casts the humans out of the garden of Eden, and blocks access to the tree of life. Yet, humans continue their violent and evil ways, and in desperation, Yahweh wipes them out and starts again. After the flood, humans prove to be not much better. They forget Yahweh, they turn to idolatry. Yet, the Noahide covenant, which is universal in scope, it encompasses all life on earth. It stresses the sanctity of life, and in this covenant, Yahweh has promised not to destroy all humankind again. So Yahweh experiments with a single individual of believing; Abraham’s believing withstands many a trial. Yahweh is the owner of the land, Abraham was called to. Yahweh is empowered to set conditions or residency requirements for those who would reside in it, like a landlord. Yahweh is seeking replacement tenants who are going to follow the moral rules of residence that Yahweh has established for his land. Yahweh’s promise to Abraham is formalized in a ritual ceremony called a suzerainty covenant. The patriarchical covenant, which is a covenant in which a superior party, a suzerain dictates the terms of a political treaty usually, and an inferior party obeys them. The arrangement primarily serves the interest of the suzerain, and not the vassal or the subject. So Yahweh is making a land grant to a favored subject, and there’s an ancient ritual that ratifies the oath. In this kind of covenant, the parties to the oath would pass between the split carcass of a sacrificial animal, as if to say, that they agree they will suffer the same fate as this animal, if they violate the covenant. Abraham cuts sacrificial animals in two, and Yahweh, but only Yahweh, passes between the two halves. Only Yahweh seems to be obligated by the covenant, obligated to fulfill the promise that he’s made. Abraham doesn’t appear to have any obligation in return. In this case, it is the subject, Abraham, and not the suzerain, Yahweh, who is benefited by this covenant, and that’s a complete reversal of this ritual ceremony. Their is a moral justification for the grant of land to Abraham, the current inhabitants of the land are polluting it, filling it with bloodshed and idolatry. And when the land becomes so polluted, completely polluted, it will spew out its inhabitants. That process, Yahweh says, isn’t complete; so Abraham’s offspring through Isaac, they are going to have to wait, the lease isn’t up yet.

Abraham is obedient to Yahweh in a way that no one has been up to this point, but ultimately, the model of blind obedience is rejected, too. When Abraham prepares to slaughter his own son, Yahweh sees that blind believing can be as destructive and evil as disobedience, so Yahweh relinquishes his demand for blind obedience. The only relationship that will work with humans is one in which there is a balance between unchecked independence and blind obedience, and Yahweh seems to finally have found the working relationship with humans that he has been seeking since their creation, with a man named Jacob. When Jacob undergoes a change in name, Israel, meaning one who wrestles, who struggles with Yahweh; Yahweh and humans lock in an eternal struggle, neither prevailing, yet both forever changed by their encounter with one another.

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