FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.

Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Biblical Criticism - 2001
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 05:55 AM

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 10-02-2001, 07:30 PM   #41
Junior Member
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: California
Posts: 65

I have a sufi muslim friend that knows the true interpretation of the Q'uran, and below are some examples of the proper way to read all scripture.

interpertation from a non literal perspective.

"Surely the worst of beasts in God's sight are the unbelievers." (The
Accessions: 8: 55)

Following the same pattern as western metaphysical symbols the beast
is the flesh or the physical as opposed to the spiritual. Here you can see
the physical animal who cannot believe and the physical human who
can and refuses. Thus the admonition that the physical that has the
capacity to understand and refuses is much lower then the the physical
that does not have the capacity to understand.

"Evil is that for which they have sold their souls -- that they should
deny what Allah has revealed, out of envy that Allah should send down of
His grace on whomsoever of His servants He pleases; so they have made
themselves deserving of wrath upon wrath, and there is a disgraceful
punishment for the unbelievers." <God is an enemy to the unbelievers>.
(The Cow: 2: 90)

Actually this is quite consistent with the Bible. It is speaking not of
punishment from God but the natural effects that come down upon
one that is focused on the lower and not the higher. We see what
earth has brought upon itself at the present time with both sides
looking literally at one another instead of spiritually or viewing the
light. The punishment is not from God but simply a natural result
of being in conflict with nature.

"Surely those who disbelieve and die while they are disbelievers, these
it is on whom is the curse of Allah and the angels and men all". (The
Cow: 2: 161 )

This follows the Jesus teaching that when an evil spirit goes out
from a person it returns and the conditions become far worse then
originally. Here it describes that light as being cursed and notice
that that it infects angels which are angles of light and living physical
Again this is why executing criminals is so bad.

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do
they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the
religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they
pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of
subjection" <i.e., humiliate the non-Muslims to such an extent that they
surrender and pay tribute> (Immunity 9: 29 )

It does not mean shoot people or blow people up. It means fight against
the non spiritual or God precepts. Fight against the Falwells and Bin Ladens
of the world who do not follow the natural course of light which brings
peace and restoration.
To humiliate simply means that someone outside of the faith must be
shown their own error and eventually brought to see that in spite of
their comittment to their belief they are desparetly wrong.

"O you who believe! do not take your fathers and your brothers for
guardians if they love unbelief more than belief; and whoever of you
takes them for a guardian, these it is that are the unjust" (Immunity :
9: 23)

It reminds me of Jesus saying, I have come to pit brother against
father and daughter against mother. It also reminds me of the scripture that says that a persons worst
enemies will be his own family.
This simply warns us about being pulled into the beliefs of family because of a need to keep peace within that
family. We must break away to flow with the light even if that means against our family.

"O ye who believe! Murder those of the disbelievers .... and let them
find harshness in you." (Immunity 9: 123)

Murder means to break down the life aspects of a person to where those
principals by which they exist actually die. It is what I have been talking about with executing criminals. We
have to work, not on killing the body but on killing the negative light within them.
Here the admonition is to murder but remember this is metaphysical and never speaks of the physical body. It
is speaking of the life force. That is the light.
Here that life force is negative and must be killed so a new life force can be put in place. Kill the negative light
or blow it out so it can be filled with a new positive light.

"Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends.... whoso does
that belongs not to God." (The Family of Imram: 3: 60)

Simply put, one who has a positive inner light which flows in harmony with the supreme light can not condone
interaction with a negative light. This does not mean you can not go over someones house for dinner, or you
cannot go to a ball game. It means in matters of cosmic harmony you can not entertain the religious beliefs of
someone who is stuck on the literal or physical because it can damage your own light.
As the Bible says what do believers have in commong with unbelievers.

zenman is offline  
Old 10-02-2001, 07:44 PM   #42
Moderator - Science Discussions
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Providence, RI, USA
Posts: 9,908

The Christian will point out the difference between a "straightforward reading", an ignorant reading, and a reading with ill intentions (reading apart from belief on God); although the two later ones quite often go hand in hand.

So which category do fundamentalists who read Genesis literally fall into? Which category do Christians who read passages about Satan allegorically fall into? And in each case, do you think the case is clear-cut, and why?

In other words, and firstly, there are more types of literature than merely literal, historical accounts.

Of course. But on what basis do you decide which is which in the Bible?

Secondly, most traditional Christians share a core set of beliefs (dogma), and accept that there are certain issues (doctrine and lastly opinion) where it is generally agreed upon that one's stance on that issue will NOT (edit!) make the difference between damnation and salvation.

But presumably the issues are still important even if they do not affect salvation. Do you think there is any basis, aside from personal intuition and one's own church tradition, for deciding them? If not, does it worry you that the Bible is so open to wildly different interpretations?
Jesse is offline  
Old 10-02-2001, 07:52 PM   #43
Junior Member
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: California
Posts: 65

Jesse, I can say that the Bible says

don't be a minister of the LETTER.

The Letter Killeth, etc. One only has to understand and read the Bible to see these verses. I believe the Q'uran has similar verses, I am still looking for them.

zenman is offline  
Old 10-02-2001, 10:13 PM   #44
Regular Member
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: MN, USA
Posts: 140

The original post was more an attempt to raise a traditional objection than anything else.

Jesse said: Of course. But on what basis do you decide which is which in the Bible?

Well, the Biblical scholarship of the past 100 years would have us make all attempts possible to determine what the document would have meant to the original audience by investigating both the time and culture it was written in. This information in addition to clues found within the text such as: sections characteristic of poetry from the author's culture, purpose in context, and narrative perspective amongst other things can, this line of thinking goes, lead us to the truth.

Unfortunately there are ambiguities in the application and validity of this information, and even were we to find the information perfectly consistent, we would have no assurance that we had not missed something. It is a 'dead' end.

Jesse said: Do you think there is any basis, aside from personal intuition and one's own church tradition, for deciding them?

I feel as though my first paragraph of this reply was a waste, because as you well know, it ultimately must come down to one thing.

I accept that when one is a believer, God abides with them. I believe that this is manifest namely in that the believer can not be deceived unto losing salvation.

If you would like, I can expand upon this to address something specific, but it will be theology like the above, and likely not relevant to this forum. If however you merely wished to question me until I stated something as the above, I will not go any further.
ChadD is offline  
Old 10-03-2001, 12:09 AM   #45
Moderator - Science Discussions
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Providence, RI, USA
Posts: 9,908

I feel as though my first paragraph of this reply was a waste, because as you well know, it ultimately must come down to one thing.

I accept that when one is a believer, God abides with them. I believe that this is manifest namely in that the believer can not be deceived unto losing salvation.

But as I said, I wasn't addressing questions that Christians believe are relevant to salvation, only "side issues" like Genesis, the existence of Satan, etc. I'm questioning whether there's any particular reason for a Christian to choose one side or another on these issues, aside from personal preference.
Jesse is offline  
Old 10-03-2001, 01:13 AM   #46
Regular Member
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: MN, USA
Posts: 140

Ok then, I shall give it a second go.

I'm questioning whether there's any particular reason for a Christian to choose one side or another on these issues, aside from personal preference.
I personally do not believe that there is any reason to take one stance over the other. Indeed there are reasons to raise issue with a fellow Christian when you believe that they have gone awry, but I do not believe that issues as those you mention are generally such cases in and of themselves. Infact, I think that it can sometimes be harmful (at least temporarily) if one chooses to function otherwise, especially where evangelism is concerned.

For myself, I think that the focus should be on practical living and doing, and if theology, then theology to serve the former two. I also believe strongly in the importance of personal conviction in matters such as these, so I shall take leave of the pulpit, so to speak...

I believe that this also holds true for the issue of Satan, and that the clarification lies in the pratical effect upon how I must function being unchanged. As I recall, I presented the beginings of this in a post on the first page of the thread.

[ October 03, 2001: Message edited by: ChadD ]
ChadD is offline  
Old 10-03-2001, 10:23 AM   #47
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Germany
Posts: 6

Originally posted by JohnClay:
I agree that Satan appears to be a literal being in the Bible. But I also think that in Genesis, the continuous narrative begins with Adam & Eve being created in the Garden of Eden, which contains two special trees. Then a snake, which is the most cunning creature, spoke to them.
But many here say that that is just a symbolic story. They say that since the people weren't amazed that the snake was talking, it never happened.

So Rod, I was just wondering if these spirits are also real beings - they appear to have personalities, and they even sometimes have names (like "Legion"). Also, they were extremely common in the New Testament - why don't we have them around any more. There were lots in the Middle Ages, and Fundamentalists sometimes find people that are possessed by demons - maybe psychiatry is just a godless way of explaining away the truth - of the existence of demons.</STRONG>
I have a series of articles dealing with the "pre-biblical origins" of many beliefs found in the New testament, from a Humanist viewpoint. These include Demons, Hell, the Millenium, and how the mindset of the Early Christians differs from the mindset found in the Old Testament. If interested in all this please access the following url

If you have a Netscape Browser, be aware it may hangup or freeze attempting to access my tracker. Wait 10 seconds then hit STOP from the browser bar and the url/article should be delivered to you.

All the best, Walter R. Mattfeld
mattfeld is offline  
Old 10-04-2001, 10:30 AM   #48
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Dallas, Texas, USA
Posts: 1,734

Originally posted by JohnClay:
<STRONG>(To Nomad and other liberal Christians):

If some events in the Bible (such as in early Genesis) are actually just metaphors and not literal accounts as fundamentalists believe, what about Satan?

MEta =&gt;NO, not as such. Btw calling nomad is not a liberal. I went I seminary with liberals, Nomad is no liberal.

e.g. what about when we say how "Mother Nature" is being hurt by our pollution, or "Lady Luck" is on our side? Perhaps the concept of "Satan" is the same. It could be temptation metaphorically personified.

NO it's not like that either.

So is there a supernatural person called Satan who can simultaneously tempt many people all over the world? Or do these temptations just come from natural human nature, and Satan is just a metaphorical source of it? e.g. These days we might say someone opened Pandora's box, even though Pandora doesn't literally exist, etc.
And when Satan is locked up forever in Revelations, maybe it means that when people reach a heavenly state of mind, temptation ("Satan") leaves them.

Meta =&gt; Its a mind virus (that's said tounge in cheek).

BTW, I think it isn't necessary to believe in a literal Satan to have the Gospel message. The fall, which you already say is a metaphorical story, could involve internal temptations (no third party involved) which sets a precedent for our sinful human nature, and then the gospel is really about surrending to God and being forgiven for your sins. I could argue that it isn't necessary to believe in a literal Jesus or even a literal God if you look at it in a very liberal/metaphorical though still "spiritual" way.
If you believe that Satan is a literal person, could you try and prove why references to Satan are definitely not a metaphor for temptation/sin/evil.</STRONG>[/QUOTE]

MEta =&gt;Satan does more than tempt. In the OT his funcition was sort of like that of a prosecuting atterney, he wasn't the prince of darkness, and in a sense sort worked for God; his function was "accuser" of the brethern that's why it calls him that.

In the NT he's more fussed with pagan sources picked up in the exile. That is where the notion of the eternal war fare of theforces of God against the forces of evil, fought out by angels and each led by their own commanding angelic princes comes from.

So he's a much more dynamic symbol than just "temptation."
Metacrock is offline  
Old 10-05-2001, 03:59 PM   #49
Regular Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Posts: 410

I have been asked to resume this particular conversation, although, as I have said in my previous posts, I do not see much point to it. Thus far the Emperor has offered nothing more than insults and assertions, and this does not make for productive converstations. That said, as he wishes to try again, I will also.

Originally posted by Emperor of the Universe:

Nomad: He is very powerful, yes, and can tempt large numbers of people. Does he do this on his own? I doubt it. His devils appear to do the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale.

EU: {Snip nonsense}
Really, how is it that such a powerful supernatural being as Satan, can't pull off all of his tricks himself?
I have looked at this question and still do not get you point. Can't pull off what tricks?

Also, where is it that he gets his demons from?
The other fallen angels.

Nomad: I see no reason to think that science and theology conflict, since they do not.

EU: In case you haven't noticed; science has revealed lots which isn't coherent with a God concept. A chaotic, uncontrolled, cruel, f**ked up universe - was this created by a perfect God? And do we even need to get started on all the claims of theology that science has refuted? Science has been theology's arch nemesis.
I countered your original assertion with one of my own. You have now added another set of assertions, none of which form an actual argument. If you will not offer arguments and evidence for your beliefs, then I see no reason to continue this discussion. Now, do you have an argument to make here or not? And please try to make it relate to the topic of the thread.

Nomad: I am absolutely convinced that Satan is real

EU: Lol! Like a lunatic who is "absolutely convinced" that invisible flying elephants are real.
I told you what I believe, and why, and your response was the ad hominem attack of equating me to a lunatic. Further, you did not even recognize that this was an attack, as opposed to an argument of some kind. It is statements like these that caused me to break off this particular conversation, and if you persist, our discussion will end once again.

Why are you convinced that Satan exists? There is no evidence for it, thats for sure, anymore than there is evidence for the existence of the tooth fairy. So why do you believe he is real?
There is very real evidence for the existence of Satan, found both in the Bible and Church tradition. Further, there are scientific studies done on things like "posessions", many of which cannot explain the phenomenon being studied.

Now, personally, I have little faith in the ability of science to examine the supernatural, as the supernatural is, by definition that which is not nature. Since science studies nature, then anything that is not nature cannot be studied by science. This is simply a truism.

Perhaps you have a scientific explanation for concepts like love, justice, honour, fairness and the like, but I see no reason to accept the conclusions produced by such experiments. None of these concepts are natural phenomenon subject to scientific study. By the same token, science cannot study the metaphysical, so I do not see why you would insist on forcing this square peg into such a round hole.

Nomad: Actually, demon possession was only very common when Jesus was here on earth

EU: Oh, how utterly convenient - it was common only when a great lack of reliable sources (newspapers, cameras, tape recorders, scientists, etc.) were around to record it. Its like saying that a fire breathing dragon is in your bedroom, but is 'only very common' when nobody is in there, and disappears whenever somebody opens the door.
As you can see, you have offered yet another non-argument. History is typically not something that takes place in the presense of cameras, newspapers, and recording devices. In the case of ancient history this is especially true. Yet we can and do believe in many things thought to have happened in history. This is why we study it.

Nomad: any plain reading of the Bible and Church teachings will tell you that Satan is real. That is why I believe that he exists

EU: The Bible and Church say it, so you believe it. Evidence and reason don't say it, but that doesn't matter to you, does it?
Why have you decided that the Bible and Church traditions are not evidence? In any rational exploration of history, we examine the claims made by those who were there, or those who recorded the events after the fact. This is known as historical evidence, and I see no reason to reject the Bible and other traditions as non-evidence of the events they describe.

Someone else says it, it must be true. Brilliant.
I kept this in as another example of pure ad hominem. I do not mind being insulted, but I do expect arguments to be made when one is actually offering those insults. Thus far you have offered neither evidence nor arguments, nor even interesting questions, and that makes this discussion quite pointless in my view.

Nomad: After all, it is only the existence of real sin and evil that could have required the death of our own God on the cross

EU: A supreme creator of the universe is required to die, to stop evil? What for; can't he use his powers to magically speak it out of existence instead?
He probably could have chosen any method He wished. I cannot imagine any choice He could make that would not be objected to by someone, so I fail to see what relevance your objection to His chosen method has in this discussion.

I have agreed to reopen this discussion EU, but I still do not see where you hope to take it. I have already told you what I believe. Clearly you disagree with those beliefs, and such is your right. But I do not see you offering anything by way of actual debate in your rejection. That made the conversation unproductive and I dropped it. Once again I will ask: What would you like to talk about?

Nomad is offline  
Old 10-28-2001, 07:22 AM   #50
Veteran Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,886

Well I've found some more surprising statistics...

they're from the Christian Barna Research Group:

Statistics about belief in a literal Satan:
- Three out of five adults say that the devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil. (2000)

- 45% of born again Christians deny Satan's existence. (1999)

- 7 out of 10 Catholics (70%) say the devil is non-existent. 62% of Protestant mainline church attenders, 49% of Protestant non-mainline church attenders, and 43% of Baptists also agree that Satan is only a symbol of evil. (1999)

- Two-thirds of adults (69%) are aware that the Bible describes Satan, or the devil, as an angel who formerly served God in Heaven. (1994)
excreationist is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:45 PM.


This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.