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  1. #1481  
    groovy,
    Even if according to you there are no evidences that mithra's birthday (the persian god of 600bc) was on 25th of december, this is just one of the many similarities with jesus and the later roman empire's religion (mithraism) originated (according to the article) at 60 or 70bc, so still is much easier to believe that the myth of jesus was influenced by mithra than the other way around.
  2. groovy's Avatar
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    #1482  
    Quote Originally Posted by sloopjohnb View Post
    groovy,
    Even if according to you there are no evidences that mithra's birthday (the persian god of 600bc) was on 25th of december, this is just one of the many similarities with jesus and the later roman empire's religion (mithraism) originated (according to the article) at 60 or 70bc, so still is much easier to believe that the myth of jesus was influenced by mithra than the other way around.
    Actually, there's no written or archeological evidence of the cult before the late First Century. So, given that there is so little know about the history, doctrines, and rites of the Roman cult of Mithras, except that it was born out of a large amount of syncretism, I'm curious why you would find it more plausible that Christianity borrowed from them than the other way around.
  3.    #1483  
    Quote Originally Posted by gsonspre View Post
    @sudoer... Wow!!! Thanks for answering those, I guess I shouldve clarified but I didnt need those answered those were the reasons on why I was atheist... haha Sorry but I do appreciate it, I know you mustve spent a lot of time with your response...
    NP
    I figured giving answers would be an easy way to hopefully tackle some of your questions from earlier in the thread (without actually having to go back and find them). They honestly weren't too hard (to answer from a Catholic perspective).

    Quote Originally Posted by gsonspre View Post
    If the conversations die down a bit I will bring up some examples from my prior post.
    Sure, just not too many at once. (I don't really feel like tacking the "Jesus/Horus" thing, but I'll dig into it if you or other readers don't find Groovy's answers "full" enough.) I'm pretty confident the similarities are for the reasons we talked about earlier - that is - that humans may have been pre-programmed with some capability to "understand God" in absence of divine revelation.

    Quote Originally Posted by gsonspre View Post
    Not sure I get you said I may find a higher place in heaven then yourself? I would feel quite the contrary??? I am a honestly good person, with few "sins" in my life and a lot less the past 10+ years... but you are active in educating about God and have accepted Jesus as your savoiur, so if Christianity is the "True" religion I'd expect to see you above me in Heaven.. (If I make it! )
    I have a family who remains "untaught" (due somewhat to "strict Catholic schools" in their earlier years - and also due to me being overzealous, close-minded, and self-centered in what I believed and how I dealt with them). I learned the hard way that this does not work. It's actually easier to communicate with "total strangers" than those closest to you. My son who I'm farthest from and I are communicating much better after I applied some of the lessons I've learned here to the way I communicate with him. I still have a good way to go towards being the kind of father they deserve. That's the part of the "journey" that I need to remain patient with. This son is reading Dante's "Divine Comedy" (on his own, for fun) so I know he has more "intellect" than me. Oftentimes intellect can be an obstacle to faith. I trust God will "be there" for him is spite of my many past failings. Like you, I think I'm on a "good path" but there's lots of "damage" that I'll need to fix.

    The other reason I said what I said was because of the beatitudes. "Blessed are the poor in Spirit". To me, "blessed" means "in heaven (or at least close to it)" and I think many agnostics and atheists who legitimately tried to find God fit well into this category. Those who are given poorer lives on Earth are given richer lives in Heaven. This (combined with my perception that you would follow God if He showed Himself to you) are the reasons why I believe you may be more richly rewarded than me.

    Also, as a Catholic, I feel it's still possible for me to "reject God" (due to my own free will). I don't see that as likely, but I still find it far to easy for me to "make mistakes" in my daily dealings. I don't worry immensely about these, and I try and confess "what I remember", but I'm also "pretty scatter-brained" at times (so I forget a lot). I suspect God will know the difference between "forgetfulness" and "defiance", but I could make much better efforts to remember, but I either don't or I procrastinate. I believe God has planned more for me to do than I've accomplished so far!

    Quote Originally Posted by gsonspre View Post
    PS I know Old Hebrew references (which was also incorporated in the OT, correct?) claimed heaven above and hell below.... Well that definitely has changed... Are they now conceived as alternate universes? so they are not above or below, and wasnt Satan cast "down" to hell???
    We might have to investigate this a bit more. (It sounds like an interesting question/topic.) Heaven and Hell may have once been understood as "places" rather than "states", but I don't think the Bible is clear about this. The professor who I listened to last week (Baptist) believes the Bible isn't clear on Heaven being a "place". In the Old Testament, I've heard some teachers who comment on "Sheol" as being a place with two "places" - a place for the damned, and a place for those who could not be freed to go to Heaven before Jesus died. I'd really have to do more reading or study on this. The place I would start would be in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (and then go back into the Bible and the Church Fathers to see what the Church and Christians/Jews believed between the time of these writings and now. I might be inclined to view "down" as being "below, or not as good" and "up" to mean better, in Heaven, etc. Perhaps these words were a metaphorical meaning. If I run across anything interesting about any of this (in the future) I'll be sure and add a note to this thread.
    I'm both super! ... and a doer!
  4. #1484  
    Groovy,
    Your statement that there are no evidences of mithraism before the first century is not correct according to the article. Here's an example: 'The only dated Mithraic inscriptions from the pre-Christian period are the texts of Antiochus I of Commagene (69-34 B.C.) in eastern Asia Minor.'
    Another one: 'The cult known as the Mithraic mysteries, or Mithraism, was one of the most important--and certainly one of the most intriguing--of the religions that arose at about the same time as Christianity. It came into existence in the first century B.C.; Plutarch writes that the Cilician pirates were practicing Mithraic rites by 67 B.C.
    The bible (new testament) was written almost 100 years after that.
    But anyway, this is just the roman empire's mithraism. The old god of the perians, Mithra, was actually way older and it had similarities with jesus. Another example: '“Dating from around the 15th century BC, Mithraism emerged in ancient Persia. ‘Mihr’ (the Persian form of Mithras) was the word not only for the Sun but also for a friend; and that seems to be how this pagan god was originally worshipped - as both supreme sun god and god of love.”
    There are other examples on the article. There are also websites that try to prove that was actually mithra who borrowed from jesus since they don't take into consideration the older evidences and regard the similarities between the persian god and jesus as coincidences or they speculate that the persian god was influenced by the old testament which is even older. I believe each side tends to read things 'they way they want' but the fact there is such a similar myth and that it existed before or about the same time as jesus is a very interesting thing.
  5. groovy's Avatar
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    #1485  
    sloopjohnb,

    Here are other sources by well-known Mithraic scholars and historians. Maybe they'll be of interest to you:

    C. M. Daniels, "The Roman army and the spread of Mithraism" in John R. Hinnels, Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies, vol. 2, 1975, Manchester UP, pp.249-274. "The considerable movement [of civil servants and military] throughout the empire was of great importance to Mithraism, and even with the very fragmentary and inadequate evidence that we have it is clear that the movement of troops was a major factor in the spread of the cult... Suffice it to say that there is neither archaelogical nor allied evidence for the arrival of Mithraism in the west at that time, nor is there any ancient literary reference, either contemporary or later. If anything, Plutarch's mention carefully omits making the point that the cult was introduced into Italy at that time or by the pirates. Turning to the Danube, the earliest dedication from that region is an altar to Mitrhe (sic) set up by C. Sacidus Barbarus, a centurion of XV Appolinaris, stationed at the time at Carnuntum in Pannonia (Deutsch-Altenburg, Austria). The movements of this legion are particularly informative."
    C. M. Daniels, "The Roman army and the spread of Mithraism" in John R. Hinnels, Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies, vol. 2, 1975, Manchester UP, p. 263. The first dateable Mithraeum outside italy is from Böckingen on the Neckar, where a centurion of the legion VIII Augustus dedicated two altars, one to Mithras and the other (dated 148) to Apollo.
    Clauss, M. The Roman cult of Mithras, p. xxi: "we possess virtually no theological statements either by Mithraists themselves or by other writers."
    Gordon, Richard L. (1978). "The date and significance of CIMRM 593 (British Museum, Townley Collection". Journal of Mithraic Studies II: 148–174. . pp.150-151: "The first important expansion of the mysteries in the Empire seems to have occurred relatively rapidly late in the reign of Antoninus Pius and under Marcus Aurelius. By that date, it is clear, the mysteries were fully institutionalised and capable of relatively stereotyped self-reproduction through the medium of an agreed, and highly complex, symbolic system reduced in iconography and architecture to a readable set of 'signs'. Yet we have good reason to believe that the establishment of at least some of those signs is to be dated at least as early as the Flavian period or in the very earliest years of the second century. Beyond that we cannot go..."
    Lewis M. Hopfe, "Archaeological indications on the origins of Roman Mithraism", in Lewis M. Hopfe (ed). Uncovering ancient stones: essays in memory of H. Neil Richardson, Eisenbrauns (1994), pp. 147-158. p.156:"Wherever its ultimate place of origin may have been, the fully developed religion known as Mithraism seems to have begun in Rome and been carried to Syria by soldiers and merchants. None of the Mithraic materials or temples in Roman Syria except the Commagene sculpture bears any date earlier than the late first or early second century.
    emphasis mine
    Last edited by groovy; 03/27/2010 at 01:39 AM.
  6. groovy's Avatar
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    #1486  
    Quote Originally Posted by sloopjohnb View Post
    But anyway, this is just the roman empire's mithraism. The old god of the perians, Mithra, was actually way older and it had similarities with jesus. Another example: '“Dating from around the 15th century BC, Mithraism emerged in ancient Persia. ‘Mihr’ (the Persian form of Mithras) was the word not only for the Sun but also for a friend; and that seems to be how this pagan god was originally worshipped - as both supreme sun god and god of love.”
    The issue here is that there's not a really solid connection between the beliefs or practice of the cult of Mithras and the Mithra or Zoroastrianism or any other ancient Persian religion. Virtually all of the similarities made with Christ or Christianity were developed in the Roman cult after the first Century AD.
  7. #1487  
    Quote Originally Posted by donovan34 View Post
    ....clip... I feel that religion is a major problem in the US and the Middle East which are the last two major strongholds of religion. The rest of the world is coming on board with this...clip...
    What do you feel is the biggest reason for more and more Nations becoming less and less religious?
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    #1488  
    Quote Originally Posted by berdinkerdickle View Post
    What do you feel is the biggest reason for more and more Nations becoming less and less religious?
    Anyone would be hard pressed to sum it up to a "biggest reason". It's a complex issue. But logic, reason, education and science coupled with intolerance between religions are probably religions biggest detractors.

    Oh, and that John Lennon song didn't help....
    Last edited by Micael; 03/27/2010 at 02:25 AM.
    The Law of Logical Argument: Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
  9. #1489  
    Quote Originally Posted by Micael View Post

    Oh, and that John Lennon song didn't help....
    Haha Nice!
  10. #1490  
    groovy,
    Thanks for the time you dedicated to the subject and the quotes.
    Actually theres part of one quote that fits with one of my own: 'None of the Mithraic materials or temples in Roman Syria except the Commagene sculpture bears any date earlier than the late first or early second century.'
    'The only dated Mithraic inscriptions from the pre-Christian period are the texts of Antiochus I of Commagene (69-34 B.C.) in eastern Asia Minor'
    It seems they can't find evidences through out the empire older then the first century bc except this one. Maybe mithraism had its origins a bit earlier but it seems that it spread out by the same time as christianity. There are no texts or books about mithraism because it was a secret cult and it was forbiden to created such materials, scholars study the religion base on inscriptions or cult sites. The first article said that there are actually similarities between the persian cult and christianity such as rituals, hierarchy, values, messianic figures, paradise, ressurection, final judgement and other things. Actually these are aspects of Zoroastrianism, which seems to have influenced jews and christians. The fact there is a persian god which embodied all these values, promoted love, was born from the sun with a virgin, was able to 'remove' sins and etc is a very interesting thing.
    The later mithraism of the roman empire was actually a re-approach to that old cult with new values from the empire such as fatalism or astrology (the symbol of mithra killing a bull is actually an astrological figure). The new mithra was to 'save' people from fatalism or the fate of the stars (astrology and unavoidable sins written on the stars) so they could reach heaven. Being a very secret and segmented cult ended up being the doom of mithraism and the cult died during the empire.
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    #1491  
    sloopjohnb,

    I agree it would be interesting but there's really no ancient source that says any of that. As just another example, later texts state that Mithra was born of a rock as a fully grown adult. No ancient text reference his birth at all. In the Avesta, Mithra is not the Sun God. That came as part of later tradition. There's a lot of misinformation on the internet about this subject but there really are no sources still deemed relevant by scholars of Persian history that show any significant similarities between the Mithra of ancient Persia and Christ. Just as there's extremely scant evidence that shows any significant similarities between the Roman Mithraic cult and the original Mithra of ancient Zoroastrianism.
  12.    #1492  
    I want to make two brief notes today:
    1. I just want to note that today is "Palm Sunday".
    2. To those of you who asked about why God would allow suffering of "innocent people" your question "dug at me" enough that I wanted to "dig for answers" (which I found). It will require another of my "essay posts" to explain. (Maybe about as big as the post I did on Genesis 1-11. Actually, it builds just a little on what I posted then (discussing Isaiah 53), then "today" (Jesus' Palm Sunday arrival in Jerusalem, through His passion), and then a bit of "theology" from Paul, James, and John. I've covered much of what's needed already so I don't think the post will need to be much longer than my last few similar posts. I'll try and write something up and post it here before "Holy Thursday" of this week (which is the day we commemorate the "Last Supper").
    I'm both super! ... and a doer!
  13. #1493  
    Quote Originally Posted by berdinkerdickle View Post
    What do you feel is the biggest reason for more and more Nations becoming less and less religious?
    I think Micael put it quite well. There are so many different religions out there it makes all of them suspect to say the least. Additionally, all of the scientific and factual 'errors' (witch trials, astronomy (sometimes even started by science but when science comes back and admits an error the religion have based so much on the error that they claim the new evidence is now not correct), etc.) that have been found is also part of the problem too.

    I certainly do not have all of the answers to the universe but I don't think any religious texts do either. However, if I am missing an answer to something I am not going to respond by making something up, saying it must be a miracle, god must have done it, or make the claim that it is something we are not supposed to know about. Its just something that we don't know yet and need to continue learning about. Scientifically speaking, the unknown areas for a god to hide are getting smaller and smaller.

    To me, there is no advanced knowledge in any religious document that is greater than the day it was written. There are 'interpretations' on the meaning of some of the passages that make the claim but the passages are so vague that a hundred other assumptions could also be made. This proves nothing but, people think Nostradamus was a prophet too and again, the messages are so vague that a lot of areas in history could apply to his writings. This tells me that there is not all knowing divine hand in the writings - these are the writings of men with fears, issues, guilt, and need for power. Also, there are new religions being created everyday because the older ones are not as easy to follow as they used to be (or are too full of holes with the literal interpretation). This has been going on forever and the new gods replace the old. Your god will be dead (not worshiped) one day just like the other 99% that have ever existed.

    So, now to the short answer on why I think that religion is dying around the word? Ease of information, communication, and scientific advancement.

    If there is something we don't know today most people are not satisfied with the god did it answer anymore because it's not even an answer (to a growing number of people) - its a cop out.
    Last edited by donovan34; 03/29/2010 at 12:27 PM.
  14. #1494  
    I am just going to throw this out there too.

    I don't think that a lot of people believe in god. I think a lot of people believe in their neighbors and family and other church members that they see every Sunday doing the same thing they are. They believe that if they changed in the eyes of these people they would loose them. If all of those people truly believed in a god they would be offering all of their money to the poor or maniacally making sure they picked the right 'one' religion (as I have stated previously there are many to choose from) so they can for sure get to this heaven they speak of. They would not just go on the blind leap of faith and/or my mom went to this church or, my neighbor recommended it. People would really be a lot different. How about the priest who raped 200+ deaf kids? Does he really believe in god (I think he knows the truth and this is a business)? Did he think 'well i work pretty close with this guy (god) and he will be ok with this if I spill my guts later'. Yea right.

    If you ask the people I am talking about if they believe in god they are going to say yes because faking (or lying to yourself) belief is key to reaping the promised reward of life after death.

    I know you probably would really like to think you believe in a god but...I don't think many of you really, deep down (think about it), really do.
  15.    #1495  
    Quote Originally Posted by donovan34 View Post
    I think Micael put it quite well. There are so many different religions out there it makes all of them suspect to say the least.
    Agreed, and healthy skepticism is important to rule out the charlatans. The best logic points to there either being one God or zero Gods. If I can study "religious history" and identify truth or fiction in some larger classes of religion, I can dramatically reduce the size of the "haystack" where the "needle" might be found. I realized to you (and many) this seems like a "fools errand". I'd agree with you if the assertion of zero Gods existing were more logical than one God existing (at least in my opinion and that of probably a majority of philosophers). If I read Micael's position correctly, he does not see this God as having any purpose for our benefit (so Micael naturally will have a bias against most/all "religions"). My assertion is that while he might win the "Does God exist" argument, I'd say he has little to no idea of "why" God exists.

    I see strong evidence as to the "why" God exists in the Bible. I don't see this in books/religions before/after the time of Judaism and Christianity.

    In addition to the why, the "what" is important too. Religion has to mesh and coexist with both science and history. I believe Christianity best support at the time of Jesus and the Apostles. Of all Christiantiy, Catholocism best meshes with actual history (both in standing the "test of time" while also being today "more close" to what was practiced in the first 100 years than any Church which has split from us). My current faith also "best addresses" the objections I've heard here from Atheists and Agnostics. Most of the reasons these groups have dismissed Christianity are due to the message being diminished and becoming "illogical" as presented by other denominations.

    I'm always on the lookout for "truth" and if I'd have found that in another church, I would have left. The problem today is that a significant number of Christians (Catholics included) do not understand, practice, and obey their "religion" and God as they understand him. One way to accomplish this is trust (or "blind faith") that we already understand his message. The other extreme is "total doubt without 100% factual evidence". I believe tacking this problem from either extreme results in the least probability of identifying a "true faith" - if any exists.

    Quote Originally Posted by donovan34 View Post
    So, now to the short answer on why I think that religion is dying around the word? Ease of information, communication, and scientific advancement.
    I'd assert that "religion is dying" because people don't remain true to the values their faith teaches and they don't share and "show" these beliefs to others in their conversations and practices. In a way I agree with you regarding "technology", and ease of communication. I'd argue that improved communication simply *amplifies* what society believes and practices. I've been using this thread to communicate my understanding and I appreciate each and every challenge and question (which helps to "free me" by either making me stronger or finding out that I am wrong). I don't fault you for your conclusions, but I feel the "environment and noise" (among religions) makes it very difficult to find the truth (if there is any).

    I need to close by saying the reason I find the path I'm on as "important" is that if a God does exist, and my development on Earth is designed to help me enjoy my eternal life, I will have eternally failed by knowingly rejecting this God. Theology tells me, that if he does exist, he gave me a free will and free choice simply because this is what is needed to identify "love". His Word remains "logical" and revealing to me (after study). I apply an equal amount of study to that which exists in my "current" world. Again, this "current" position is also consistent with scripture in that we are to exercise "dominion" over the world which God says he gave us. This includes evaluating both science and any possible revealed word to find the most truth achievable.
    I'm both super! ... and a doer!
  16. #1496  
    Quote Originally Posted by sudoer View Post
    I see strong evidence as to the "why" God exists in the Bible. I don't see this in books/religions before/after the time of Judaism and Christianity.
    There were too many book burnings previously that destroyed books that differed from what todays church wanted being taught. This is pretty common in a large religious shift.
  17.    #1497  
    Quote Originally Posted by donovan34 View Post
    There were too many book burnings previously that destroyed books that differed from what todays church wanted being taught. This is pretty common in a large religious shift.
    Let's discuss actual events rather than remaining vague. Let's document when these events occurred and why. You will find there was a form of "Darwinism" that protected the most valuable sources of information during the times of religious persecution of Christians. There was also destruction of books by various groups who found works they considered "incorrect" (or heretical). Once we've identified the periods of time when these "burnings" occurred and the reasons why, we can then logically evaluate your assertions.

    thank you
    I'm both super! ... and a doer!
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    #1498  
    Quote Originally Posted by sudoer View Post
    Let's discuss actual events rather than remaining vague. Let's document when these events occurred and why. You will find there was a form of "Darwinism" that protected the most valuable sources of information during the times of religious persecution of Christians. There was also destruction of books by various groups who found works they considered "incorrect" (or heretical). Once we've identified the periods of time when these "burnings" occurred and the reasons why, we can then logically evaluate your assertions.

    thank you
    We also have to remember that Christianity was not world-wide for most of its history. They could not possibly have burnt every dissenting book out there even if they tried.
  19. #1499  
    Quote Originally Posted by sudoer View Post
    Let's discuss actual events rather than remaining vague. Let's document when these events occurred and why. You will find there was a form of "Darwinism" that protected the most valuable sources of information during the times of religious persecution of Christians. There was also destruction of books by various groups who found works they considered "incorrect" (or heretical). Once we've identified the periods of time when these "burnings" occurred and the reasons why, we can then logically evaluate your assertions.

    thank you
    No need to get so defensive. There have been a lot of book burnings in history and not all for religious reasons.

    You only see the 'facts' in your book because you want to. There are plenty of other religious texts out (and have been for as long as someone could tap into a stone or press leaves into paper) there that are just as much of a fact to that follower of that religion. They would feel there are not facts for belief in your book either. Like I have said before, when we were throwing human offerings into the fire for Ra it felt sooo right, also, burning goats and livestock to Zues felt so true and proper. Later, these gods were abandoned just like the ones in the future will be too.
  20. #1500  
    I agree and disagree w/ Donovan...
    I dont think God is going anywhere anytime soon, unless the "Church" gets caught in some heavy lies or someone infiltrates the Vaticans "vault of secrets" (not saying one exists, just saying..)
    There have been tremendous book burnings but not just by or targeted to religion but also sciences, poetry, art etc etc... but for all we know there could have been a "superior" religion and all texts burned... Or moreso there very well could have been a "true" religion before writing occured? Today we have a lot of options on what "Faith" to follow but certainly not all!
    Imagine if someone said they believe in Zeus today and was a true believer in Greek Mythology over any of our current religions! They would be laughed at! But there is nothing in ANY religion to prove its falsehood unless the creator confessed they were a fraud! Thats why I can believe that there are multiple Gods as easily as there is a single God. To say that My text says, "that text has flaws" is no proof at all! Every religion is unprovable so it take a leeap of "Faith" to believe in any religion, and bc every religion is unprovable I find it silly to believe in any, instead "Just Believe".
    But Christianity is not going anywhere anytime soon, there is way too much tied into society, our money, our Date system, most countries "constitutions".... I give christianity props in its "marketing department"!

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