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Reading Holy Books

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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby zilch » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:11 pm

Of course there are some gold nuggets buried in the Koran. But they're the same ones you can find in the Bible or just about any other religious text: the ones about helping those in need, being a good neighbor, and so forth. Humanism of course offers the same ideas, just with no heavenly reward.

I found- and this is naturally just my prejudiced impression- that the Book of Mormon and the Koran were both hard to get through. I bogged down in both of them, but for different reasons: the Book of Mormon just seems like an embarrassingly badly written takeoff on the Bible, just what you would expect a preacher's son to write, and the Koran is just weird, with lots of repetition and flowery language.
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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby E-lad » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:24 pm

Another reason I am interested is that while I do not believe it is the world of God, I learned a lot from the Bible. And I still appreciate a lot of what is in it.


The one most important lesson I have learned from the bible is the mind set/psycology of a small group of near mid east tribes spanning the first century BCE and the first century CE and the evolution of their beliefs from preceding cultures.
Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel.- Horace Walpole
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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby 3point14rat » Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:12 pm

Honestly, the only things I learned from attempting to read the Bible is that 1)Christians are capable of holding multiple contradictory beliefs, and 2) Christians are incapable of seeing the Bible from the standpoint of an outsider.

Maybe I missed the good parts because I only made it 3/4 of the way through Genesis before I couldn't take it any more. I tried the New Testament a few years later, but barely started Mark before I quit again.
“It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.” Edwin Way Teale
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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby Chris » Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:18 pm

ScottMaugh wrote:I'd also be interested in any important secular writings that you feel are culturally or philosophically important.


Love to oblige. Here are a few suggestions:
1) The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

2) The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

3) On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

4) Beyond Good & Evil By Friedrich Nietzsche

5) The Dialogues by Plato

I tried to suggest works that are both easy to read and are extremely influential. #1 is an example of applied philosophy, #2 is if you are interested in politics and why it works the way it does. #3 raises questions on just how far we should take the principle of liberty. #4 is fairly self-explanatory, while #5 would be examples of the most important philosopher of the age.

For a modern work you might try The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton. This is a terrific work popularizing applied philosophy in everyday life.
If perchance I have offended, think but this, and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here, while a vision did appear. A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby ScottMaugh » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:55 pm

zilch wrote:Of course there are some gold nuggets buried in the Koran. But they're the same ones you can find in the Bible or just about any other religious text: the ones about helping those in need, being a good neighbor, and so forth. Humanism of course offers the same ideas, just with no heavenly reward.


Good point Zilch.

E-lad wrote:
Another reason I am interested is that while I do not believe it is the world of God, I learned a lot from the Bible. And I still appreciate a lot of what is in it.


The one most important lesson I have learned from the bible is the mind set/psycology of a small group of near mid east tribes spanning the first century BCE and the first century CE and the evolution of their beliefs from preceding cultures.


Studying others we can learn about ourselves.

3point14rat wrote:2) Christians are incapable of seeing the Bible from the standpoint of an outsider.


Peculiar you should mention that, because that is what I did, and it was the main cause of my deconversion. :D

Chris wrote:
ScottMaugh wrote:I'd also be interested in any important secular writings that you feel are culturally or philosophically important.


Love to oblige. Here are a few suggestions:
1) The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

2) The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

3) On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

4) Beyond Good & Evil By Friedrich Nietzsche

5) The Dialogues by Plato

I tried to suggest works that are both easy to read and are extremely influential. #1 is an example of applied philosophy, #2 is if you are interested in politics and why it works the way it does. #3 raises questions on just how far we should take the principle of liberty. #4 is fairly self-explanatory, while #5 would be examples of the most important philosopher of the age.

For a modern work you might try The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton. This is a terrific work popularizing applied philosophy in everyday life.


Thanks Chris! I read a few excerpts from "Meditations" and I think it is exactly what I need right now.
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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby zilch » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:22 pm

I'll second that recommendation from Chris. Marcus Aurelius was a pretty smart and insightful guy.
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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby Jessica » Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:12 pm

The book that helped me, was Honest to God by Archbishop John Robinson. It doesn't provide any answers, but provides endless food for thought.
Then there was Nietzsche. Almost anything, 'God is dead and we have killed him'!
And I hung around the door of the philosophy of existentialism for a long while.
Steven Jones' Almost Like A Whale for easy to read science.
Shakespeare always does it for me.
"Life is a walking shadow,
A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
and it heard no more,
it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing"!
What was best was being able to think for myself without fear of being whacked. The liberation of working out one's own philosophy, trying many others on the way, is something that cannot be equalled.
All the best to you, dear Scott.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?Then he is not omnipotent.Is he able, but not willing?Then he is malevolent.Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? (Epicurus circa:300 BC)
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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby zilch » Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:18 pm

The same to you, dear Jessica. My impression is that the religious figures who speak to me the most- by their writings and actions- are those who seem to simply be following love and making it fit their particular scripture. I suspect Spinoza was a closet humanist, or rather a humanist in an age that couldn't recognize it, when he said Deus, sive Natura: God, that is, Nature.

I have a god or rather many gods and goddesses, and they are what I feel about the real world. No supernatural stuff required.
You were born. And so you're free. So happy birthday.
- Laurie Anderson
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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby E-lad » Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:07 pm

Jessica wrote:What was best was being able to think for myself without fear of being whacked. The liberation of working out one's own philosophy, trying many others on the way, is something that cannot be equalled.


Boy did that hit home. My progressive Catholic family was indifferent to all of my investigations of comparative religion. They never came out and said it in these words, but my parents allowed me to figure it out for myself. And that is what we did with our kids, and, so far, I'm very happy with those decisions.
I pity the fundies I know that spent all that time trying to make their kids a copy of themselves, and the kids end up rejecting those ideas, and then there is an emotional schism. What in the actual fuck is wrong with these people?

Just for example, and all I can speak to is my experience with our five kids. The two youngest are boys and I have them figured out quite well, due to the way and manner that we interface. Our oldest son and our two daughters are so far along in life that their personal beliefs are just not something that we all really care about that much when we get together; there are far too many other interesting things to talk about.

And let me tell you, there have been troubled times, oh yes.........
Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel.- Horace Walpole
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Re: Reading Holy Books

Postby 3point14rat » Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:34 pm

3point14rat wrote:
2) Christians are incapable of seeing the Bible from the standpoint of an outsider.


Peculiar you should mention that, because that is what I did, and it was the main cause of my deconversion. :D


I guess I should change my comment to "practicing Christians are incapable of seeing the Bible from the standpoint of an outsider", since there are millions of ex-xtians out there (including me) who have learned how to see the book objectively. It's almost oxymoronic to say 'critically thinking xtian', since honest critical thought is probably the best cure for xtianity.
“It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.” Edwin Way Teale
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