The History of Religion-- What about the Present of Religion?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by rodereve, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. rodereve Registered Member

    If we look at the history of some religions (from religious literature), we see that there were prophets that performed miracles, God-inspired men that wrote the books of scripture, and God appearing in form to crowds of people.

    But how come it stopped?-- in other words, why aren't these things still occurring? OR are they still occurring?

    Are there present-day prophets that still perform miracles (Benny Hinn, anyone?)

    Why did God stop using men to write the word of God through them? I know that this is what Mohammed claimed, a few hundred years after the Bible was formed, but what about more recent prophets.

    And lastly, why hasn't God made some grand statement of his existence, like appear as a burning bush that talks, or a fiery tornado, or pillar of cloud or fire -- like he did in the bible.
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  3. Balerion Banned Banned

    No one has ever performed a miracle, but there are probably even more claimants to such events today than there were in biblical times, since monotheistic religions (which tend to be very miracle-prone) are global rather than regional as they were at the time. Televangelists and Big Tent evangelists claim to cure diseases and heal the lame pretty much every day. If you're asking why no one believes them, I can't agree with the question, because plenty of people do believe them. Millions of people give their money to these creeps, and some have huge followings. Bigger followings by far than either Jesus or Mohammad had in their lifetimes.

    He never started, but Mormonism is based on the claim that there was even more scripture than what the bible held. So all it really takes is one con artists to convince enough people that he's speaking the word of God for God to have "used men to write his word."

    The simplest answer is that God never actually did those things.
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Not exactly. We see assertions that those things happened. There is no evidence that they actually happened, at least no evidence that would be accepted academically today. You're correct that men wrote all the scriptures. (And always indeed specifically humans with penises. Mrs. Fraggle explains that it's always men who invent religions, because then we never have to answer a question with "I don't know." Mary Baker Eddy, founder of oxymoronically named Christian Science, is probably the only exception.)

    But to say they were "God-inspired" is to assume that the God they postulated actually exists, which is clearly untrue. They were inspired by history, current events, stories their fathers told, their own fears and dreams, and of course the desire to be famous.

    Because of technology. The Bronze Age technology of writing was a boon for religion, because it made it possible for a persuasive communicator to spread his fairytales much more widely than word of mouth. But Industrial Era technology helped to institutionalize science and the scientific method, making it much more difficult to perpetrate unscientific and antiscientific nonsense and outright fraud. Electronic Era technology, especially the internet and instant wide-bandwidth cellular communication, makes it even harder. Claims of miracles are reviewed literally instantly, and we expect digital images from unrelated observers in myriad vantage points, not merely one persuasively written first-person account.

    People still claim to see miracles. But because of the acceptance of science and the spread of multi-media communication technology, the miracles are much less astounding. As I have often noted on this forum, the classic modern miracle is a tortilla (one out of probably billions that are cooked every year) with a scorch mark that is claimed to be the image of a biblical figure. We can safely sidestep an argument about the accuracy of that two-dimensional monochrome image, and simply point out that no portraits of the figure exist, against which to compare the splotch. For all we know, it might be an image of my great-great-grandfather Vaclav, who also never sat for a portrait and in any case has no claim to holiness.

    Thirty years ago Mrs. Fraggle and I belonged to CSICOP, the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, which now has a different name. James Randi, a professional stage magician, was the leader. and he used his knowledge of tricks of the trade to debunk all sorts of miracle-workers, from water-diviners to palmists to mediums to faith healers. They are all merely accomplished stage magicians who use their skills for greed instead of entertainment. (Although to be fair, many palmists, Tarot readers, etc. are merely skilled amateur psychotherapists who honestly try to help customers who would never trust a psychiatrist, using their stage magic tricks to make them comfortable and talkative. A shrink I know was once so hopeless that in desperation he walked into an astrologer's shop. The lady read him in two seconds and said, "You don't believe in this crap so let's get to the point. What's bothering you?" He said she was the best psychotherapist he ever met and she helped him turn his life around.) Randi zeroed in on a local (Southern California) faith healer named Peter Popoff who was getting rich from his TV ministry. He took his crew and his tools to Popoff's church. He noticed that Popoff always wore a hearing aid. A scanner proved that it was really a radio receiver, through which his staff in the back office was reading the cards that the congregation members had helpfully filled out on their way in, on the back of which the ushers had scribbled useful comments. "I get a vision of a woman named Alice. She's wearing a red dress, has trouble walking, and would like to know about her dear husband, who went to Heaven last year. Is Alice out there somewhere?" You can imagine how ready Alice was to believe everything he told her.

    The staff singled out people entering the church who had trouble walking. They helpfully brought them a wheelchair and pushed them to the front of the hall. Popoff's wheelchairs were marked so he wouldn't accidentally pick someone who actually couldn't walk. He made a big show out of pulling the person out of the chair and letting him walk a few paces. "It's a miracle! Praise the Lord!"

    The authorities are reluctant to prosecute faith healers no matter how blatant their fraud is. They merely put pressure on the TV station, who canceled Popoff's show. He let the furor die down, and six months later he set up shop in another state and started all over again.

    As someone else pointed out, Joseph Smith founded the Latter Day Saints ("Mormon") movement in the 19th century, although he claimed that he discovered his scriptures rather than writing them himself. But founders of other Christian sects such as the Quakers (Society of Friends) and Jehovah's Witnesses (Watchtower Society) do not actually claim to have new scriptures, but merely a more faithful interpretation of the Bible.

    Rastafarianism is an offshoot of Christianity and Rastafarians identify Haile Selassie as their prophet, messiah, and even the second coming of Jesus Christ. His first official title as governor before becoming Emperor of Ethiopia, Ras Tafari Makonnen, is the basis of the religion's name. However, Selassie never claimed to be a prophet, although his own personal philosophy was an inspiration to Marcus Garvey and the founders of the movement. It's not clear that he even took the religion seriously, but he was moved by the members' adoration of him, respected its goal of improving life for Africans and people everywhere of African descent, and tried to play out his role graciously.

    Bahá'u'lláh founded the Bahá'i religion in the 19th century, and claimed to be a prophet. I don't really have enough information to be writing about him, but it seems that he saw the same flaws in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam--Rastafarianism didn't exist yet) that all of us non-religious people see in them. He wanted to unify all people into a single global civilization. He preached peace, but then so did Jesus and Mohammed and look how horribly wrong that worked out. Many Muslims regard Bahá'i as an offshoot of Islam, and therefore regard the Bahá'i people as apostates. In many Muslim countries they are persecuted. Although it's a monotheistic faith, it's not clear to me that it is actually of Abrahamic origin, rather than simply having some of the motifs that all of us who were raised in Abrahamic cultures carry around in our heads.

    To summarize, the things you ask about are still occurring, but not as extravagantly as in the old days before real-time cellphone video. Stage magicians can walk on water and make bushes burn. People claim to be prophets and honestly want to help us. For folks who cannot find peace in this life, they offer hope. For the rest of us it's just entertainment. I can't even complain very vigorously about the harm they do, considering how much harm has been done by the religions they want to replace. You have to do some really awful shit to be as evil as the Catholic Church.

    Some people say he has. The rest of us say those people are incredibly gullible.
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  7. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Jesus said, this is an evil and adulterous generation who looks for a sign, but no sign will be given. Most people want to see proof, but no proof will be given. Rather the righteous man will live by faith. Jesus also said, he will leave behind a comforter, the spirit of truth. The world cannot receive him, but he abides in you and will be with you; inner man.

    The logic of this can be understood with an analogy. Say you have a criminal who likes to steal. He will not act if a policeman is watching. But he will act if he can sneak around and not be seen. The honest person, on the other hand, will not act whether there is a policeman around or not, because they rely on their inner voice of conscience to do the right thing. The thief needs a policeman to keep him honest; a stop sign. This s why Jesus calls this an evil and adulterous generation who need a sign, or else they will deviate and regress.

    He also said, the word of god is like a sharp two edged sword able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Without signs (the policeman on duty), so the criminal can pretend honesty, the hidden criminal will become manifest. For example, some people like to gossip. If the person they gossip about is there, they may be nice on the surface. But inside, hidden is the gossip munger. Once the sign (victim) is gone, they gossip again. If that person never appears, their inner heart is revealed via nonstop gossip. The children of the promise will act the same, even without the policeman their to censor, since an inner gut feeling; spirit, is guiding them to all truth.

    He predicted an evolving contrast between the impulsive beast man and the self aware man. In the old testament, this was more merged because the contrast was less evident due to signs, laws and policemen. For example, say the person who is the object of gossip is always around, the gossip munger looks as honest as a person who never gossips. That allowed evil in high places; Pharisees. They could kill for very little reason while acting holy.

    Historically, the miracles and signs from the old testament were stressed in Christianity to keep the criminal of spirit, honest, so the entire herd was not in the flux of chaos. But in modern times, the impact of religion is less, while science seems to disprove miracle signs, so the separation can occur as predicted. The anxious longing of creation awaits the revealing of the sons of god.
  8. arauca Banned Banned

    Sense you know every thing ,you must be some god , why don't you send me your address so I can send you some donation.
  9. Balerion Banned Banned

    Why does it always come to this with the uneducated believer?
  10. leopold Valued Senior Member

    it might not be as clear as you think.
    for some reason faith seems to rank pretty high on the "religious list of virtues".
    the placebo effect is faith based.
    if the placebo effect can "cure" you then it's hard telling what else it can do.

    there are many medical doctors that will tell you they have seen their share of miracles.
  11. Balerion Banned Banned

    Of course it ranks high. It's what allows for religion to exist. There is no evidence for God's existence, so in order for one to believe, one must have faith.

    No, that's different. Religious faith is believe in what cannot be seen.

    The mind is a powerful thing, no doubt. Nobody's ever believed their way to a cure for HIV/AIDS, however. Still, I don't see how you can make the leap from "Believing in a cure can cure you," to "Therefore God exists." The placebo effect would indicate the power of the mind over the body, not the presence of a divine creator.

    Not literal miracles. Cancers sometimes go into remission unexpectedly, and a flowery, poetic way of describing that would be a "miracle," but in reality it's just because of the treatment.
  12. arauca Banned Banned

  13. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    "Burning bushes" and the like were never ascribed to being "some grand statement of his existence". They were always a sign to the believer, and believers still claim to see signs regularly.
  14. Balerion Banned Banned

    No one has ever gone into remission because of prayers or a change in their diet. It has never happened. Or, I guess I should say, prayer and/or a dietary plan has never been shown to cause remission. There is a phenomenon called spontaneous remission, however, which involves the tumor or tumors to stop growing at a point, or shrink, or even disappear. It's extremely rare, but it does happen. The medical community still isn't sure why this is happening, but all the evidence suggests that it is happening. The leading thought seems to be that cancer isn't quite as simple as we once thought; we used to think that cancer simply grew until it was treated, removed, or killed you. Now it's looking like not all instances of cancer are capable of doing that, and some grow in a fashion in which they're never going to be able to get beyond a certain size.

    It's doubtful that positive thinking has any role in it, because there have been plenty of people with cancer who were optimistic until their last breath. And I'm sure there have been people who were convinced their ticket had been punched only to find out that they'd suddenly gone into remission. So there's probably something else at play that we just don't fully understand yet.
  15. Balerion Banned Banned

    More semantic BS from Syne.

    Sign, statement, let's nitpick it to death rather than address the point.
  16. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Can you not read simple English? Believers, by definition, are already convinced that said god exists, so "some grand statement of his existence" would be redundant. IOW, believers will see signs of a god's existence just about anywhere because they already believe, i.e. "believers still claim to see signs regularly".

    But you are too busy trying to prop up your little fantasy that I am a Christian to see that I was not nitpicking the word "statement" at all, but you are using it as a nitpicking straw man. Get a grip.
  17. rodereve Registered Member

    I think thats one of the best analogies I've heard for God not appearing. But I feel like there's a fatal flaw: there is no honest man. If you believe the bible, you would believe that all have fallen short of glory (ie. all have sinned) and wages of sin are death (all are criminals sentenced to death penalty). And its not like you even have a chance to be honest, because of the original sin (Adam and Eve's), we're all born sinful (not of our own doing, but Adam/Eve's error). So I feel like in that case, the analogy would really be that we'd all be born criminals, and there's a rumor going around that the policeman might come one day, no one can be certain of the exact date, but most believe he'll come. And because of your rationale about criminals pretending, that supports my own personal belief that many that attend church are putting up an act (from own personal experience of attending church 19 years of my life).

    And secondly, what is so wrong with the policeman showing up? It would be like saying interventions for alcoholics are bad, because they convert alcoholics, and you don't want that because without that intervention those alcoholics would've continued to live that lifestyle strongly.
  18. leopold Valued Senior Member

    seems to be a recurring theme here, especially if you make a case against some peoples hallowed beliefs.
  19. Balerion Banned Banned

    You're misrepresenting your own savior here, wellwisher. He did not say that no sign would be given. From Matthew 16:4

    A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away.

    The sign of Jonah. It's a reference to the prophet who lived for three days and three nights in a fish's belly (because that's the kind of fairytale bullshit that's in your holy book), and is essentially Jesus calling his shot. He actually outlines it earlier in Matthew:

    "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth".

    So Jesus does indeed promise a sign: his death and resurrection after three days.

    While this does enough (albeit clumsily) to explain what's wrong with asking for signs, it doesn't explain why God gave them, then Jesus gave them, and now there are none which are considered canon.

    Please reference the passage.

    You've just contradicted yourself. You said that the presence of miracles kept even the "criminal at heart" in check. Now you're saying the presence of miracles allowed the criminal at heart to be criminals while appearing just and holy?

    You should have given this whole spiel a bit more thought.

    See above. Same contradiction.

    So where are all these evil unbelievers? How are there secular charities, even self-identified atheist charities? Why aren't religious people more just and honest than non-believers? Where is this separation?
  20. Balerion Banned Banned

    Yup, it's just one giant conspiracy. Or two, I guess, now that you've found a kindred spirit.

    How difficult it must be for you brave contrarians.

    Speaking of which, I'm sure you've read my rebuttal to your inane post, and you're just a click away from posting your thoughtful reply? Or did you not realize that some people in here actually know what they're talking about, and think better of it?
  21. leopold Valued Senior Member

    life itself.
    the so called "god gene".
    it's exactly the same whether you have faith in a god or faith the car will stop before it splatters you.
    maybe, maybe not.
    there are quite a few that has "believed" themselves healed by nothing more tha a sugar pill.
    in other words they had faith the substance would help them and it did.
    this has been documented in medical literature over and over and over.
    i am not making a case for god.
    yes, literally.
    probably directly related to the placebo effect.
  22. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Yes, it is a reccurring theme for Balerion to erroneously call me a Christian, but are you saying he does because I "make a case against his hallowed beliefs"? If so, I would have to agree, as the false dilemma of "if yur not fer us yur agin us" would be the only rational explanation.
  23. leopold Valued Senior Member

    most of the time i'm called a creationist, not a christian.
    could very well be.
    to be honest i really don't know the story with god and such but i find it hard to believe such a concept can become global in nature and persist for centuries just for shits and giggles.
    i don't consider myself pro or con anything but i know how to follow my nose.

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