I don't know if Kierkegaard actually said any of this, but it's wrong. Child sacrifice is as old as time. Many myths or actual rituals involved killing one's own children. It's found in most ancient cultures from the Middle East to the Americas.
It was therefore not "irrational" to do so, but, rather, quite reasonable and normal (if horrible), esp. in dire times.
The innovation found in some books of the Bible was just the opposite: to declare that child sacrifice is in fact bad and should be avoided.
And of course Jesus is that exact same myth of child sacrifice (with a twist: he dies but lives again).
The twist is more complex than that: it is God sacrificing his own Son, which is also Him, in place of all sacrifices. God becomes the scapegoat.
Rene Girard talks about this idea in this interview:
The twist is more complex than that.
God is sacrificing his own son, which is also him, to himself, in order to satisfy rules that he himself also put in place so that he doesn't have to send people he created and loves infinitely to be tortured forever in a place he created because they broke rules they couldn't understand with consequences they couldn't comprehend.
Literally ALL basic tenets of Christianity are misunderstood and distorted. And while I acknowledge that part of the problem is the ignorance of some Christian leaders and ministers, it's definitely not the whole problem. Intellectual honesty demands of us that we properly understand a viewpoint before rejecting it.
>God is sacrificing his own son, which is also him, to himself, in order to satisfy rules that he himself also put in place so that he doesn't have to send people he created and loves infinitely to be tortured forever in a place he created because they broke rules they couldn't understand with consequences they couldn't comprehend.
You claim this is the Christian view of the atonement. Where do you get this? Is it scriptural? Patristic?
Don't speak on behalf of Christianity if you do not understand it. And let me tell you in case this isn't clear: You do not understand it.
How can someone reject Christianity when they haven't done the due diligence of looking at __primary sources__ for the Christian position?
>How can someone reject Christianity when they haven't done the due diligence of looking at __primary sources__ for the Christian position?
Intellectual laziness. They just repeat what they see on reddit or sound-bytes they've heard from others who have no idea what they're talking about.
If they want to know what Christianity truly teaches have them read St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, St. Augustine, The Council of Nicaea, The Council of Jerusalem, The Council of Trent, Cornelius a Lapide commentary, Haydock Commentary, the Catena Aurea, the Latin and Greek fathers.
It is amazing how incredibly prideful and intellectually dishonest people are. If they took even 20-30 hrs of historical and theological study of what the Church always believed before the Protestant revolt, they would quickly realize that they know next to nothing about Christianity or History in general.
It's more of a coping mechanism, is it not? I've read roughly half of the things you've listed, but definitely don't remember most of the nuances.
By default, people don't know (or care) about philosophy, and religion is a type of philosophy. It's a bit like bashing people for not taking the time to read Kant.
I think that thebproblem is that people that haven’t taken the time to read Kant most of the time do not attempt to criticize or discuss his work.
People criticize religion without extensively reading the theology because religion is a lived experience in a way that Kant isn't.
Wow that's incredibly judgemental from someone claiming to be a christian. I see you've learned the lessons from those books well and are applying them in your daily life.
Perhaps this is different than your own experience or reading, but it doesn't make this experience less valid. Considering this is the dominant form of Christianity in the US, I think it's safe to say the snarky statement above accurately describes Christianity as how a majority of us experienced it.
My childhood spent in a very restrictive environment, and watching how "Christians" behave, definitely gives me the right to speak on behalf of Christianity, and the right to reject it completely as the fraud it is. I understand it completely well.
All I have to do is observe what they do. From the near-abuses of my own experience, to how the Orthodox have been perfectly willing to embrace Putin and other cruel leaders, to how women and gay people are frequently treated. There's the cruelty dispensed by the faithful over the millennia. In your own response there's no shred of Christ's love or humility. You offer nothing but cold, empty judgements rushing to defend and insult.
All of this shows there is little to nothing of worth in the system, and wasting hours of my irreplaceable life reading men (and it's always men) debate how many angels can fit atop a pin, is not going to convince me otherwise.
I'm sorry to hear you were personally negatively affected by the Church. Btw Orthodox is a big umbrella, I'm not sure what you're referring to with Putin, I'm not Russian Orthodox.
I recognise that my comment may have been flippant. But you can't judge Christianity based on its misuse or the inadequacies of Christians. I am just sick and tired of hearing that my beliefs are irrational, or "out of date", and that I need to "get on with the times" and abandon myths and legends about God and Christ. This has been a consistent impression I get from others especially in the tech field. And upon talking to people who believe this I find that they really have done no research on their part and so end up with superficial understanding of everything. I only ask that people do their due diligence and read Christian texts to judge for themselves. I encourage you to completely abandon the current messy Christian debates (including my comment) and look into Christian texts of the first few centuries.
Indeed a lot of writers are men due to the cultural reasons of old times. But you can find sayings by women: https://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Desert-Mothers-Sayings-Chri...
Christianity is supposed to remake people into something better. Paul had a concept of the "new man" in Christ. If Christians are no better than the secular population, and if the Christian leadership are just as prone (if not more so) to being corrupted by power and money as secular leadership, then it becomes obvious Christianity does not work. Or at least, does not work for the majority of its adherents. There are truly holy women and men out there, but, it's quite clear these are outliers and not representative.
In my personal experience, and in looking at history, it's quite clear Christians are the same, or worse, in most observable behavior as their secular counterparts. Though I'm shouldn't single out Christians. Any faith, which aspires to personal transformation, falls short. I was briefly involved in the American Zen Buddhist community, and then I discovered the faults and greed of the so-called zen masters. If "enlightenment" doesn't free someone from the desire for money, for temporal power, for sexually abusing members, then what good is it? Islam also falls short in many, many ways.
You can certainly believe in whatever you want. I'm sorry you feel harassed about it. But religion is as much a lived experience as it is a product of philosophers and theologians. For many of us, it was an unpleasant experience which no theologian can redeem. And for many others, they see religion used as a lever for power and an excuse for cruelty. When you feel criticized, keep those things in mind. The criticism is not directed at you personally, but is rather a reflection of the person, and their own experiences, making the criticisms.
New man in Christ indeed, but that's not a magical transformation that happened some time in the past, a time where I can say "I was saved". The transformation is a life-long journey. The new man vs old is a daily struggle, a life-long struggle...
This is not something that can be observed and tested, it is something that can be lived and tested.
I find it incredibly unsurprising that a christian like yourself would assume you know everything about my understanding of religion based on a single snarky comment on an internet forum.
I also find it incredibly unsurprising that a christian like yourself assumes that your understanding of christianity is the one that's right, and most Christians agree with you.
>Don't speak on behalf of Christianity if you do not understand it. And let me tell you in case this isn't clear: You do not understand it.
Holy shit. Literally. There was no place in my statement that I claimed to be speaking on behalf of christianity. Go ahead and keep 'splaining away to that strawman you constructed.
 It's also been many years since I last touched the subject.
Can you come up with an explanation that is succinct and correct? All the christian apologetics I read end up saying virtually the same thing, they just pretend they aren't by saying the same thing in a 10,000 word treatise.
It's like every time I read about how $deity isn't a violation of cause and effect, it always ends up being some long winded special pleading.
> You claim this is the Christian view of the atonement. Where do you get this? Is it scriptural? Patristic?
Could you break down each part of the fairly short sentence and explain how it's wrong? Preferably without the quantum jesus that both is and is not god.
"God is sacrificing"
This makes it sound like Christ was a passive agent in the events of the passion and resurrection, which he is not -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have the same will.
"God is sacrificing his own son, which is also him"
Note how this statement must be false because it's contradictory. How can X "sacrifice" Y, when X == Y? This comes from a misunderstanding of the phrase "Jesus is God" -- that phrase means that Jesus is 'homoousious' in Greek or 'has the same nature/essence' with God the Father. However some people understand it incorrectly as "Jesus is the same person as the Father".
The idiom for Jesus is not God (which is never mentioned in the NT or the nicene creed -- never it is said that "Jesus is God") but the idiom is 'Son of God'. This idiom is the one language that is used by the council of Nicaea to formulate the creed. And to explain what 'Son of God' means the creed goes on to say that Jesus is homoousious with the Father.
The popular and incorrect understanding of this is that God just wanted someone to be punished instead of humanity (note how that doesn't even make sense how humanity is reconciled to God if someone else took the punishment! And how is Jesus supposed to die instead of humanity when he later rose from the dead? the whole thing is absurd!) but this understanding of the atonement (called 'penal substitution') is part of 16th century reformation theology. In the firsth 10 centuries of Christianity we have ZERO authors who thought about the atonement that way (have a quick look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement_in_Christianity for a general view of this). The reason all Christian apologists believe this and try to defend it is because they are protestant.
"in order to satisfy rules that he himself also put in place"
This just portrays God as one who needs to find a 'loophole' in the system which he himself has put in place. How can this be even intelligble? God can do whatever he wants and he could have forgiven humanity easily. It's just that what humanity needed was more than forgiveness: human beings needed to be made alive again after being subject to death because of sin. Again just to be clear: the death because of sin is not a punishment -- it's the natural course of events when a human being turns their back to the source of life -- God.
"so that he doesn't have to send people he created and loves infinitely to be tortured forever in a place he created"
The popular image of God throwing people in a pit of fire and torturing them for eternity is not a Christian image. It first made its way to Christianity long long ago (which is probably why it's still prevalent) with the apocalypse of Peter -- a document that was influenced by pagan ideas (I'll put a reference here because this is important: this is from Bruce Metzger's The canon of the NT)
The key is that there are no "rules that he himself also put in place" etc. (as he doesn't exist and even if he did it wouldn't matter). The rules were formed by people (obviously) and codify societal practices and philosophies towards morality and right. The story of Christ, as such, codifies a different approach contrary to those older practices -- which is why it was the basis on a whole different mentality that shaped Europe and ended in things like the "human rights" and modern ethics.
(Or course this can be difficult to fathom in places were Old Testament beliefs are still championed, along with very crude literal meanings of religion, in the name of "Christianity". But this wasn't the case in later Rome and Europe, not even in the Inquisition era).
There are millions of Christians like this in the US alone, let alone the rest of the world. I'm not sure what you're trying to push with your interpretation of christianity, but it's certainly not common, given that it assumes their god doesn't exist.
It’s hard to imagine who Augustine wrote his Confessions to or on whose behalf Galileo was killed, if all these people were just talking about metaphors.
If you built a power structure on top of a religion, or if you think that preserving respect to certain ideas leads to a more harmonious society in general, you can very easily prosecute people that undermine them, whether you believe them as real or not.
What I'm getting at is that it doesn't have to assume their god doesn't exist, as this is a negligible detail (implementation detail) on the respective worldview and its results in everyday life, culture, etc (not in the coarse grained debates in the US 15th-21th centuries, but in the course of 2 millennia of European and global history).
I'm skeptical that throughout the history of Christianity, everyone took the "parable" interpretation of the bible (rather than taking most or all of it seriously). Are you claiming that the... inquisitors (?) weren't killing based on a literal lack of belief in god, but rather were killing because people weren't morally up to snuff? I'd love to be educated here, theology and the history thereof are well out of my wheel house.
Personally, it seems reasonable that "Jesus" was a Joseph Smith type of con man who managed to spin yarns and somehow create a following.
Here is a passage from a truly fascinating Christian author from the 2nd century. He starts by saying "we shall be told that these are fictions, no better than fables, like the rest of the strange stories about Jesus." (funny how arguments against Christianity haven't changed for 2000 years)
Origen's reply is this:
Our answer is that to reconstruct almost any historical scene, even if true, so as to give a vivid impression of what actually occurred, is exceedingly difficult, and sometimes impossible. Suppose some one to assert that there never was a Trojan war, mainly on the ground that the impossible story of a certain Achilles being the son of a sea goddess Thetis and a man Peleus is mixed up with it; or that Sarpedon was the son of Zeus, or Ascalaphus and Ialmenus sons of Ares; or that Aeneas was Aphrodite's son: how could we dispose of such an objection? Should we not be very hard pressed to explain the strange blending of a fiction with the universal |74 belief that there was war between Greeks and Trojans at Troy? Or let us suppose some one to doubt the story of Oedipus and Jocaste, and of their sons Eteocles and Polynices, because that a sort of half-woman, the Sphinx, is mixed up with the story; how should we clear up the difficulty? Well, the prudent reader of the narratives, who wishes to guard against deception, will use his own judgment as to what he will allow to be historical, and what he will regard as figurative; he will try to discover what the writers meant by inventing such stories; and to some things he will refuse his assent on the ground that they were recorded to gratify certain persons. And this we have premised, having in view the history of Jesus as a whole contained in the Gospels; for we do not invite intelligent readers to a bare unreasoning faith, but we wish to show that future readers will have to exercise prudence, and make careful inquiry, and, so to speak, penetrate the very heart of the writers, if the exact purport of every passage is to be discovered. -- Philokalia of Origen CHAP. XV. 15
The inquisition were killing for many reasons (and not as much killing as its mythologized), but most of them were political. See for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_revision_of_the_Inq...
Christian refers to billions of people through 2 millennia, and their approach to religion and belief is far more nuanced than what stupid fundamentalists (which is a newish invention) have.
That's a pretty bold claim from someone who only knows me from a few comments on a website. Just because I can snark about this, doesn't mean I'm unaware of the things you mention. Though since you called be disingenuous, you must have expected that as well.
But on the other hand, my time studying christianity ended a decade ago, and I have no unmet spiritual needs, so I doubt I will be taking another look at them at this time.
> I have no unmet spiritual needs
A lot of work in philosophy of religion concerning a particular religion, is done by people who find its particular claims interesting (whether they can be defended or attacked) but who are not in the game for "spiritual" reasons. It’s like saying that linguists would only study languages because they have the need to communicate with its speakers; no, most of them just enjoy studying the language as an abstract.
You are doing yourself a huge disservice by thinking about religion in this way.
A single comment on hacker news encompass my thinking about religion. You are doing yourself a huge disservice by making such assumptions about other people.
I am saying this from a genuine position of good will. I will try to be better about not making assumptions about people.
It is also worth recalling that many Christians, myself included, believe that in the Eucharist we are devouring The Son.
It is a strange world we live in.
I very much admire Orthodoxy. I haven't read any formal orthodox theology, but Dostoevsky is perhaps my favorite author.
I wish you well with your studies and I hope some day to perhaps read your work.
Best of luck with your studies.
The twist is in fact a different one -- "sacrifices, dies but lives again" is older.
The key is that the victim, normally a scapegoat the city is happy to get rid of, is this time celebrated as to be in the right. This is a turning point in putting the victim as noble (as opposed the punishers as noble), on which most of modern morality is based on (Old Testament-following puritans aside).
Yes, you're absolutely right -- except maybe for the part of "most modern morality"... the Latin dictum "vae victis" was embraced throughout modern times.
That said, having the victim come back from the dead is kind of cheating.
Indeed, but that was and will always going to be (including in modern times).
What Christianity did was shape a morality where this was increasingly considered bad (as opposed to "just the way of the world"), not shape a world where this was eliminated.
This has a large effect on many practices and beliefs.
The 'twist' is that to establish the new covenant, God provided the sacrifice and that Christ wasn't a victim, but had the power -> No man takes my life, but I lay it down...etc etc
1) The Spirit of the Lord had already come upon Jephthah before he made his vow; showing that God was already intending to give him victory. (v29)
2) Jephthah rashly made a vow to God of his own accord, which was never affirmed by God nor required by God. (v30-31)
Even on a surface level reading of the passage, it would be difficult to defend that it was ever God's desire that Jephthah sacrifice his daughter. And, if he knew the character of God as proclaimed by God himself in Exodus 34:6-7, he could have repented and received grace and he still would have had his daughter.
This is just modern people creating a new interpretation of old writings. Apparently Abraham also didn't know about the "grace", since he was decided to kill his son and didn't even tried to ask God otherwise. God also was not worried at all, since he didn't care to enlighten Jephthah about his "grace" (even for the sake of the child).
The point of the story seems to be that you shouldn't go round making stupid oaths, not that you should sacrifice your children.
That's the whole point, certainly this was viewed as tragic but normal. In other words, child sacrifice was not recommended but certainly was within realm of possibility for ancient jewish religion (and of course for all other religions around that area).